I hope you are having a pleasant week. I found these while wandering the worldwide web. Thought you might enjoy them.
As usual, the laugh’s on me.
I hope you are having a pleasant week. I found these while wandering the worldwide web. Thought you might enjoy them.
As usual, the laugh’s on me.
A little background here. I am a senior citizen and I attend health talks at my local teaching hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Their program is called Healthy Transitions. Around 100 folks show up regularly for the talks. However, when the talk deals with some aspect of mental decline the place is packed. Seems lots of us seniors are worried about cognitive impairment that can lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia. That’s why I have a particular sore spot when it comes to those expensive ‘brain games’ sold by some snake oil sales companies. They prey on the fears of seniors and offer false hope.
So, I was particularly gratified to find in PSYBLOG a post knocking them down. PSYBLOG recommends what they call ‘the oldest technique of all,’ namely “Simply learning new information or using existing knowledge in new ways can help boost attentional skills.”
Professor Rachel Wu, who led study on attentional skills, said, “Adults can increase their attention skills by grouping objects into categories, and then using these categories to search for objects more efficiently.
In other words, we can build new knowledge or use existing knowledge to increase our attention. Continue reading
In the six years of writing this blog, its aim has veered from the narrow weight loss to the much broader healthy living. I think living a long healthy life is a much more valuable goal than just dropping a few pounds. Nonetheless, with more than 60 percent of us overweight and 30 percent outright obese I am aware that most people want to lose weight.
In view of that I thought I would share this recent research from McMaster University on losing fat while gaining muscle.
Researchers at McMaster University have uncovered significant new evidence in the quest for the elusive goal of gaining muscle and losing fat, an oft-debated problem for those trying to manage their weight, control their calories and balance their protein consumption.
Scientists have found that it is possible to achieve both, and quickly, but it isn’t easy. Continue reading
Here’s a ton of facts on calories. You can’t live without ’em. The trick is moderation ….
Regular readers know that I have suffered from severe arthritis in both of my hands. I have tried a number of remedies to ease the pain over the years. Some help to a greater or lesser extent. You can type arthritis into the search box at the right and explore a number of them.
Here is what WebMD suggests:
“If you have any type of arthritis, you should keep up with the treatments your doctor recommends. If you want to add a supplement, you might consider:
“SAM-e. This is a man-made version of a chemical that your body makes. Early research suggests it may relieve arthritis symptoms as well as some medications do. You can take it in capsule form, 600-1,200 milligrams per day, divided into three doses. SAM-e is also what is called ‘poor man’s prozac.’ You can take it to mellow out if you are stressed. However, I have some much more salubrious suggestions for handling stress in the blog. Search either s t r e s s or relaxation to read them.
“Glucosamine/chondroitin. If your osteoarthritis is moderate or severe, glucosamine and chondroitin may help with pain. But the research is mixed. So ask your doctor if it’s OK for you and, if so, what dosage you should take.
“Boswellia. Studies suggest this tree resin can reduce osteoarthritis pain. It may also help with rheumatoid arthritis. You can take boswellia as a capsule or tablet, up to 900 milligrams per day.
“Capsaicin. Capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their fiery kick, may temporarily ease arthritis pain. It comes in a skin cream, gel, or patch. Apply it three times a day, but stop using it if it irritates your skin.
“Other natural aids. Avocado-soybean oil blend, cat’s claw, fish oil, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and ginger may also help with arthritis pain.”
Although WebMD didn’t mention it, I use mustard seed oil that I bought from Amazon. Just rub it on the afflicted joint liberally. It is also good for reducing swelling.
One last suggestion from me: the holy grail as far as I am concerned is exercise. A doctor suggested I take up knitting for my hand arthritis. I have had friends in similar circumstances who got the same advice. Those Chinese exercise balls work well, too. You need to use the whole hand to roll them around. The old adage use it or lose it operates here. You need movement in the affected joint for mobility and lubrication.
I wrote Stress Will Kill You a while back. I was halfway through the Course on Stress from The Great Courses at that point. Now I have finished the class and wanted to share some very important concepts from the final lecture. They deal with exercise, its benefit and our attitude toward it.
The following two paragraphs are quoted from the course Guidebook:
“The first thing you can do is exercise. Exercise helps in all sorts of ways: it decreases your chance of cardiovascular disease, and that seems to protect against certain aspects of brain aging and cognitive decline. If your cerebrovascular system is not getting gummed up, you are going to have a brain that works better and that ages better. Exercise also stimulates neurogenesis and helps your neurons grow new processes and new connections. One qualifier to keep in mind is that if you overdo it, it can negatively impact your reproductive system.
“There are certain qualifiers that apply to exercise…. First, you cannot save your stress management for the weekend; it has got to be done virtually daily. Next, you need to take the time out for it. It needs to be something that is important enough to you that you are going to say no to all these stressors competing for your attention. In the realm of aerobic exercise, for example, most studies suggest that you need to do 20 to 30 minutes to begin to get the cardiovascular advantages, Last, you have got to like doing it. If a personal trainer is forcing you to exercise, you do not get anywhere near as much of the health benefits.”
Another aspect of the enjoyment concept quoted in the Unworkout comes from Cedric Bryant PhD. “The Number one reason people say they don’t get regular physical activity is lack of time, says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego. Yet, he adds, “we’ll find time to do what’s enjoyable.”
The Unworkout also suggested that you make play your workout. Remember begging your mother to let you stay outside five more minutes? Whatever you were doing — playing catch, jumping rope, or riding your bike — it was too much fun to quit. The key to fitting more activity into your life is rediscovering that joy of movement.
Regular readers know that I have found bicycling to be the perfect exercise. I hope you are able to find one that works as well for you. Lucky me. Turns out it really makes a difference.
Must confess my bias here. I ride so I love this infographic and wanted to share it with you.
If you also ride, you may also dig it. If you aren’t a rider, perhaps it will pique your interest.
Wow. How’s this for covering both ends of the spectrum? I had just posted on seniors’ brain functions and driving privileges when I ran across this item of early life exercise influencing brain function. Regular readers know how strongly I feel about exercise benefiting the brain. Now, the University of Colorado says it starts in childhood.
“The human gut harbors a teeming menagerie of over 100 trillion microorganisms, and researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have discovered that exercising early in life can alter that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.
“The research, which was recently published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, indicates that there may be a window of opportunity during early human development to optimize the chances of better lifelong health.
“Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes,” said Monika Fleshner, a professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the senior author of the new study. “That is one of the novel aspects of this research.”
“Microbes take up residence within human intestines shortly after birth and are vital to the development of the immune system and various neural functions. These microbes can add as many as 5 million genes to a person’s overall genetic profile and thus have tremendous power to influence aspects of human physiology.
“While this diverse microbial community remains somewhat malleable throughout adult life and can be influenced by environmental factors such as diet and sleep patterns, the researchers found that gut microorganisms are especially “plastic” at a young age.
“The study found that juvenile rats who voluntarily exercised every day developed a more beneficial microbial structure, including the expansion of probiotic bacterial species in their gut compared to both their sedentary counterparts and adult rats, even when the adult rats exercised as well.
“The researchers have not, as of yet, pinpointed an exact age range when the gut microbe community is likeliest to change, but the preliminary findings indicate that earlier is better.
“A robust, healthy community of gut microbes also appears to promote healthy brain function and provide anti-depressant effects, Fleshner said. Previous research has shown that the human brain responds to microbial signals from the gut, though the exact communication methods are still under investigation.
“Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way,” said Agnieszka Mika, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the lead author of the new study.
“Going forward, the researchers also plan to explore novel means of encouraging positive gut microbe plasticity in adults, who tend to have stable microbial communities that are more resistant to change.”
At the risk of getting repetitious, please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) to read further on this subject.
As a senior citizen (my 76th birthday was last week) working on his physical and mental health, I was surprised to learn of this correlation between driving and health. As I have written time and again use it or lose it is the law of the body. Disrespect that law at your peril.
Columbia University reports, “For older adults, driving a car is an important aspect of having control over one’s life. While 81 percent of the 29.5 million U.S. adults aged 65 and over continue to hold a license and get behind the wheel, age-related declines in cognition and physical function make driving more difficult, and many seniors reduce or eventually stop driving altogether. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health examined the health and well-being of older adults after they stopped driving and found that their health worsened in a variety of ways. In particular, driving cessation nearly doubled the risk of depressive symptoms, while also contributing to diminished cognitive abilities and physical functioning. Findings are published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
“For many older adults, driving is more than a privilege; it is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom, and independence,” said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, Mailman School professor of Epidemiology, the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and senior author. “Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable to face the decision to stop driving during the process of aging as cognitive and physical functions continue to decline.”
Dr. Li and a team of researchers reviewed and analyzed quantitative health-related data for drivers aged 55 and older from 16 studies that met eligibility criteria and compared results with data from current drivers. The study updates and expands on earlier findings with more than 10 additional years of empirical research.
“Data showed that older adults experienced faster declines in cognitive function and physical health after stopping driving. Driving cessation was also associated with a 51-percent reduction in the size of social networks of friends and relatives–something the researchers say can constrain the social lives of seniors and their ability to engage with others. Decline in social health after driving cessation appeared greater in women than in men.”
“Former drivers were also nearly five times as likely as current drivers to be admitted to a nursing home, assisted living community, or retirement home, after adjusting for marital status or co-residence.
“As older ex-drivers begin substituting outside activities with indoor activities around the home, these activities may not be as beneficial to physical functioning as working or volunteering on the outside,” said Thelma Mielenz, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School and co-author. “When time comes to stop driving, it is important to make personalized plans to maintain mobility and social functions.”
The researchers note that merely making alternative transportation available to older adults does not necessarily offset the adverse health effects of driving cessation. “What we need most of all are effective programs that can ensure and prolong an older adult’s mobility, physical, and social functioning,” said Li.”
I would like to point out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) for lots more info on keeping your body and mind functioning well into your senior years.
This is a blast from the past. It happened to me a couple of years ago, but I thought it might make for a good warning for you ahead of Super Bowl 50 this weekend
I knew I was going to be snacking watching the game, so I went to the health club that morning and did 30 minutes on the rower to put an extra 300 calories into the bank. I also had a small but reasonable lunch to leave room for snacks. As it turned out that wasn’t even close to enough.
So, what went wrong?
Well, I went to a Super Bowl party. There was good company, good conversation, a good ball game and really good snacks.
To start with, because I was enjoying everything mentioned above, I got carried away with the salty snacks. Rippled potato chips and a bowlful of delicate savory potato crisps. There were also some wonderful little hot dogs called Lil Smokies. Enjoying these savory snacks, of course, I had to wash them down with a beer and glass after glass of soda. I remember thinking the soda glass didn’t hold very much because I had to keep refilling it.
The fact is, I completely lost my focus. I was so into the experience of the afternoon, I didn’t pay attention to how much I was eating and drinking. Mindful eating, anyone? I certainly wasn’t practicing it. This carrot sticks not pretzel sticks or potato chips.
It began to dawn on me when dinner was served and I filled up my plate with Italian sausage, meatballs and stuffed shells (a variation on lasagna). I actually felt so full that I had trouble finishing my dinner. I never feel that way.
My overindulgence was twofold. Because I ate all those salty snacks, I had to drink a ton of soda. Not smart and more not smart.
The next morning I tipped the scale at 154.9 lbs, that is 2.8 lbs more than on Super Bowl morning. Because I weigh myself daily, I knew that while I had eaten a lot, I hadn’t eaten that much more. Remember, fluctuations in daily body weight can also reflect elimination and water retention. I am sure I had retained water with all that salt and diet soda.
Two days later, I was back down to 152.5 lbs, a much more reasonable number.
We talk a lot about the benefits of getting down to a healthy weight and having a trim waistline. Obesity is one of the acknowledged targets of the government with new dietary guidelines out for 2015.
I can attest to the benefits of reducing excess fat from your body. Your clothes fit better, indeed, you get to go out shopping for a new wardrobe with the latest fashions and nicer looking outfits. You have more energy and your disposition generally becomes more sunny. Lastly, you get wonderful feedback from your friends and acquaintances on how good you look.
Yet, as a person who has experienced all that, there was also one significant drawback to my trimming down from a 44 inch waist to a 34 inch one. Can you guess what it was?
I’ll give you a hint – it has to do with the current season.
Okay, it is very logical and yet I was totally surprised by it, like a well-written piece of fiction. When you drop all that fat – insulation – you become much more sensitive and vulnerable to the cold. That’s right. When winter comes around, I get out what we used to call long johns. Now it is ‘base layers.’ I start wearing my base layer in late October here in Chicago. Once the temps fall below 40F, I wear long johns. And I keep them on through March.
I asked my doctor about this phenomenon. Since it is my skin – on the outside – that feels the cold, why should what happens under the skin have an impact on my sensation of cold? This seemed a reasonable question. I understand the principle of insulation, but it is the outside that feels the cold so what difference does it make if we burn off 10 inches of fat – insulation – underneath the skin around my waistline?
The answer which is simple and obvious never occurred to me. It has to do with our core. Our major organs are in our midsection – the part that is insulated by the fat. When we burn that fat off, we figuratively expose our major organs to the cold. And, we get a very real sense of the cold that we never had before. So, we need to cover up with more insulation – to replace the fat.
The good news is that the solution is a simple one. I now ‘layer up.’ The long johns are the first line of defense against the cold. They are a good one. I have also become the biggest fan of the Eddie Bauer stores. They sell all that wonderful mountaineering equipment which weighs very little but affords super protection against the cold. I have purchased from them some excellent ‘systems’ which include an outer water repellent windproof shell which goes over a thin down-like jacket. It does the job. There is no wind that can blow through that combination. And, it is lightweight too.
When the temp drops below 20F, I put on my flannel-lined pants over the long johns for extra protection. I happen to be a dog owner and as every dog owner knows, there is nothing colder than taking Fido for a leisurely walk in freezing cold, because Fido doesn’t rush or even walk fast. So, the dog walker is very exposed to the elements.
Regular readers may be wondering how this sensitivity affects my bike riding which I continue year ’round here in Chicago. Because cycling is such an excellent cardiovascular activity, I have little problem with the cold. I do wear several layers and the cold does not deter me from riding.
So, the good news is that there is an excellent technological answer to the downside of burning off all your fat. You can still enjoy outdoor activities as before. Just dress correctly for the temperature. For further details on dressing correctly for the cold, check out my post – Cold Weather Cycling Tips.
With that in mind, I hope you can set about your own weight loss program with a clear view of what you have to look forward to.
As a person with both sweet tooth and a salty tooth, there is a wide variety of snacks that appeal to me. Of course, many of them are empty calorie ones that taste great but don’t give my body very good nutrients. That’s why tamari-roasted pepitas have become one of my favorites. Last year as I increased my calorie burn through active bicycle riding, pepitas have been a tasty and welcome snack for energy replenishment.
Pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds. Some consider them a seasonal snack following the pumpkin carving of late fall. However, pepitas have a strong ethnic year ’round appeal also. The word itself is from Mexican Spanish. Lightly roasted, salted and unhulled pumpkin seeds are popular in Greece, too. The leading commercial producers of pumpkins include the U.S., Mexico, India and China.
They were a celebrated food of the Native American Indians who treasured them both for their dietary and medicinal properties. The cultivation of pumpkins spread throughout the world when the European explorers brought back many of the agricultural treasures of the New World.
In my experience pumpkin seeds come roasted and/or salted and remain in their hulls. The pepitas I have found are always already shelled.
I hope you are having a pleasant weekend … and these help.
Th …th … that’s all, Folks!
Regular readers know that my family has had three cases of dementia, including one of Alzheimer’s Disease. So, I am very sensitive on the subject of mental health. I was very gratified to read the item from Harvard on the subject.
Dementia affects the person diagnosed but also raises fears for siblings and children. Here are the facts.
“Alzheimer’s disease represents a personal health crisis, but it’s also a family concern. What does it mean for your children or siblings if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? What does it mean for you if a close relative develops the condition?
“‘People think that if their dad or aunt or uncle had Alzheimer’s disease, they are doomed. But, no, that’s not true,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “Even though family history adds to the overall risk, age still usually trumps it quite a bit. It means your risk is higher, but it’s not that much higher, if you consider the absolute numbers.’
Family history by the numbers
“Studies of family history say that if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease—the most common form of dementia in older adults—your risk increases by about 30%. This is a relative risk increase, meaning a 30% hike in your existing risk.
“If you are age 65, the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is 2% per year, although this also means a 98% chance per year of not developing Alzheimer’s. In absolute numbers, a 2% annual risk means that two out of 100 65-year-olds will develop dementia every year.
“Family history raises the 2% annual risk by about 30%, to 2.6% per year. That means going from 20 cases in a group of 1,000 to 26 in 1,000, or six additional cases in 1,000. “So the absolute increase is relatively small,” Dr. Marshall says.
“Age raises the chance of Alzheimer’s more than family history. People in their 70s have a 5% chance of being diagnosed—more than twice that of people in their 60s. Family history raises this by 30%, from 5% to 6.5%. Again, the absolute change is relatively small.”
What to do if someone in your family is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
• Contact the Alzheimer’s Association. Find out about resources available to help you and your family. State and county agencies may also be able to help.
• Plan for the future. This includes legally designating someone to make health care and financial decisions for the affected person when he or she can’t.
• Investigate long-term care options. Nursing care is expensive, and finding a good place can take time. Start early.
• Take care of physical health. People with dementia who live a healthy lifestyle tend to progress more slowly to the later stages.
• Steer away from genetic testing. Even if you have the APOE Alzheimer’s risk gene, it usually doesn’t mean you will develop dementia later in life.
Finally, to add to the Harvard recommendations, please check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits). I have a ton of positive reassuring information there. So far it seems to be working, I just turned 76 and my brain seems intact … if this blog is any evidence of that.
What? You don’t know what a HYDRA Smart Water Bottle is? Don’t feel bad. It happens to be a new invention that I read about and backed on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site.
As I have posted previously, I use the two crowdfunding sources, Kickstarter and Indiegogo, for cool new products and ideas. You can read about my Torch 2 Bike Helmet that lights up at night which was also crowdfunded.
The HYDRA Smart Bottle is a wonder for a bike rider like me. It was “Designed to bring modern creature comforts along for the ride.” One picture is worth a thousand words, so you can see all the features below.
The top is a detachable Bluetooth speaker for my iPhone music. It also functions as a radio. By pressing a button on the bottom, the bottle lights up and becomes a lantern. It can also flash red if I want to turn my water bottle into an illuminated flashing red lantern when I ride at night. The base when charged holds enough energy to charge my iPhone or a tablet when out.
To get the full story on the HYDRA check out this video from the creators:
Here is the link for their website to read more: http://hydra-smartbottle.com/shop/
They are just finishing shipping out the preorders for backers, so you can’t get one there yet. Amazon will be selling the bottles. Watch for them.
Posted 5 Feb 2016: Here is the Amazon link they are selling for $59.95.
Are you overweight, but manage your money well? Gee, if you could only handle your diet as well as you handle your money. What has one got to do with the other? Perhaps more than you think. Wouldn’t it be nice to transfer your financial skills to your eating habits?
Do you have financial discipline? You want the new iPad, but it costs at least $499. It would be great fun to play with and explore all the fun stuff that you have seen demonstrated on TV. But, if you buy it, you will fall short of the rent money this month. And it would be dangerous to push your plastic at this time. So, no can do. That’s good fiscal discipline.
How about indulging in some delicious chocolate tonight while watching the tube? Nothing helps mellow you out so much as some nice chocolate. Somehow romantic movies are even moreso when you are enjoying some nice chocolate. Why not?
Are you a person who passes on the iPad, but eats the chocolate? Sure, it tastes great. But, the principle is the same. You need to be able to ‘afford’ the chocolate just as you need the $499 to buy the iPad. Good physical discipline works just like good fiscal discipline.
Keeping track of your calories is the first step. You keep track of your income vs your expenses. It’s the same principle. Don’t eat what you can’t pay for either in abstinence elsewhere or burning off in the gym or the health club.
In each instance, it is your call. Use that same clear mental focus that you do in money matters to assist you in your eating.
Last, but not least, make sure you get your body moving. too. Eating intelligently is half the battle of weight control. You need to exercise regularly to keep your body healthy. Eat less; move more; live longer. Words to live by.