Weekly funnies …

We are approaching the Christmas season, so I thought I would lead off with a seasonal one. Have a great weekend!

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Tony

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Happy Birthday, Gabi!

Gabi, my miniature poodle and canine companion, turned 13 years old this week. She has lived with me for the past 12-1/2 years. In that period I can’t remember a day in which she didn’t bring a smile to my face or make me laugh out loud.

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Also, in the course of our three daily walks, I have met hundreds of people that I never would have encountered otherwise. Some came in and out of my life like raindrops, but many have remained and become a part of my life.

Celebrating her birthday is personal for me and isn’t going to help anyone to lose any pounds or inches. However, a pet can play an important part in one’s happiness. Check out the post – Owning a pet can benefit your mental and physical health.

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Although she is a part of my life now, I didn’t have a dog for over 50 years. My brother and I had a dog when I was around 10 years old, but it wasn’t long before he became my father’s dog. You can read about how Gabi came into my life in the post – Anatomy of an act of kindness.

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Recent pic of my bike riding companion.

Thanks to my friends on Facebook who created the birthday illustrations above.

Tony

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5 Ways to boost bone strength early – Harvard

For the most part, osteoporosis is thought of as a women’s affliction because more women get it than men. However, it is an affliction of older age and more women get it because they live longer. A senior man is very likely  to contract osteoporosis also. Herewith, Harvard Medical School on the subject.

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The best prevention for bone-thinning osteoporosis begins early — during the first two decades of life, when you can most influence your peak bone mass by getting enough calcium and vitamin D and doing bone-strengthening exercise. If you are over age 20, there’s no need to be discouraged. It’s never too late to adopt bone-preserving habits.

If you are a man younger than 65 or a premenopausal woman, these five strategies can help you shore up bone strength as a hedge against developing osteoporosis.

  1. Monitor your diet. Get enough calcium and vitamin D, ideally through the foods you eat. Although dairy products may be the richest sources of calcium, a growing number of foods, such as orange juice, are calcium-fortified. Fruits, vegetables, and grains provide other minerals crucial to bone health, such as magnesium and phosphorus.
  2. Maintain a reasonable weight. This is particularly important for women. Menstrual periods often stop in women who are underweight — due to a poor diet or excessive exercise — and that usually means that estrogen levels are too low to support bone growth.
  3. Don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake. Smoking and too much alcohol both decrease bone mass.
  4. Make sure your workouts include weight-bearing exercises. Regular weight-bearing exercise like walking, dancing, or step aerobics can protect your bones. Also include strength training as part of your exercise routine.
  5. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors. Certain medical conditions (like celiac disease) and some medications (steroids and others) can increase the chances that you will develop osteoporosis. It’s important to talk with your doctor to develop a prevention strategy that accounts for these factors.

For more on diagnosing and treating osteoporosis and developing an effective plan for your bones order, Osteoporosis: A guide to prevention and treatment.

 

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Mid Week puns

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One of my favorite puns – ever.

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Drawing is Better than Writing for Memory Retention – Study

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen, turning 79 next month. My family has a history of dementia in general and Alzheimer’s Disease in particular. SO, I am interested in anything that affects the brain and relates to brain function. This study at the University of Waterloo captured my attention.

Researchers report older adults who take up drawing are better able to retain new information than those who write notes.Source: University of Waterloo.

Older adults who take up drawing could enhance their memory, according to a new study.

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As part of a series of studies, the researchers asked both young people and older adults to do a variety of memory-encoding techniques and then tested their recall. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo found that even if people weren’t good at it, drawing, as a method to help retain new information, was better than re-writing notes, visualization exercises or passively looking at images. Continue reading

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Light and social smoking carry cardiovascular risks – Harvard

The thoroughly preventable death of lung cancer kills thousands of people every year. I feel strongly that smoking is a horrible health habit. You can check out my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you for more details. Yet some folks feel that a ‘social cigarette’ is okay. Well, not quite. Following is an analysis by Harvard Heart Letter.

Light smoking isn’t as bad as heavy smoking, but it still harms the heart and body. If you quit smoking completely, your health will benefit.

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“I’m not really a smoker. I only smoke a few cigarettes a day, or when I go out on the weekend.” This thought process is common among light smokers. However, if you think you are doing your heart and lungs a favor by smoking only “a little,” think again.

Light or intermittent smoking may be safer for you than heavy smoking, but they still cause plenty of harm. Quitting smoking completely is the best action for your help.Public health campaigns have reduced the number of American adults who smoke. Along with that decline has come an increase in the number of light and now-and-then smokers.

Experts long believed that smokers used light or intermittent smoking as a bridge to quitting smoking completely. But it’s becoming clear that more and more smokers continue this pattern indefinitely — almost one-quarter of all smokers today fall into these categories. Continue reading

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Some tips for biking in cold weather …

Baby, it’s cold outside! (So, sue me.)

I am reblogging this because the Weather Channel said that more than 20 million people are under cold weather conditions today.

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 22F degrees the other morning. Mid November is a bit early for such temps, but if you want to ride your bike, you deal with it. By the way, when temps fall to sub zero, the expression is, “The hawk is back … and he brought his whole damn family.”

So, winter seems to have come early to Chicago.

Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.

From the Toronto Star The Wall Street Journal a while back had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged…

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Mayo Clinic – Gene Therapy – potential and pitfalls

I put gene therapy up there with the technology that makes the GPS in my car work. It reminds me of the wonderful quote from Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Research is advancing gene therapy as a possible treatment or eventual cure for genetic diseases that bedevil modern science. Gene therapy was conceived over 20 years ago, and until recently, remained largely in the research lab. But gene therapy products are now beginning to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical care. Physician-scientists are intrigued with exploring its possibilities for transforming medical practice.

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Gene therapy seeks to target faulty genes that are driving disease and either correct or replace them. Imagine your entire genome as an electric master board that controls physical characteristics and bodily functions. A genomic variant would be the burned out fuse causing disease. Gene therapy would target the defective fuse and either replace it or add a new fuse to get the body functioning correctly.

Mayo’s research

As an example of the potential, David Deyle, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic Department of Clinical Genomics and Center for Individualized Medicine Clinomics Program, is using gene therapy in his research into possible treatments for osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. People with this devastating rare genetic disorder suffer with bones that break easily and often. Caused by a defect in the protein known as collagen, brittle bone disease has no cure. Continue reading

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Can flaxseed lower cholesterol? – Tufts

I have tried for years to cut down my reliance on protein from red meat. Nuts and seeds are often suggested as an alternative source that I have used. So, I was glad to run across this item.

Q. Are flaxseed crackers nutritious, and can they help lower cholesterol? Is the question asked by the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter.

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A. Nicola McKeown, PhD, a scientist at the HNRCA, answers: “Like other seeds, flaxseeds provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they are also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid which may have anti-inflammatory properties.”

“It is the soluble fiber inside the seed that helps lower cholesterol. Processing the seeds by grinding or soaking in water makes the fiber easier to digest and helps release nutrients for absorption. The insoluble fiber in the tough outer coating of the seed helps create stool mass and plays an important role in bowel health. Foods made with whole flaxseeds, therefore, are more likely to help with constipation than to reduce high cholesterol.”

“The increasing number of flaxseed products appearing in the marketplace offer an alternative to whole-wheat products (which is particularly important for those with gluten intolerances) and, given the high fiber content of these products, I would say they are an excellent snack alternative to refined-grain products. Make sure you look at the labels to ensure products don’t contain a lot of sugar and that flaxseed is not just a minor ingredient.”

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Weekend funnies …

Good morning! I hope you have a wonderful weekend coming up.

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Tony

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Yoga breathing exercises can sharpen your mind – Study

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

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The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertilizer. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

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20 Benefits of 30 minutes of walking – Infographic

As regular readers know, I am a giant fan of walking. I have called it the Cinderella of the exercise world because it is so unappreciated.

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If this isn’t enough, please check out my Page – Why you should walk more.

Tony

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Mid week pun time …

Hope you are having a pleasant early December day. Following are some of the items that tickled my fancy in the past week.

Remember, when the smog lifts in Los Angeles, UCLA.

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Tony

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Study Finds Biases in Widely Used Dementia Identification Tests

Dementia can be a real snake lurking in the brain of seniors who happen to be our loved ones. Is their memory merely slipping with their added years, or do they really have a cognitive impairment? It’s a tough question for many families. As a member of a family with several instances of dementia, I can attest to that.

Quick tests used in primary care settings to identify whether people are likely to have dementia may often be wrong, according to a study published in the November 28, 2018, online issue of Neurology® Clinical Practice, an official journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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The tests, called brief cognitive assessments, evaluate thinking and memory skills. They help doctors decide who may benefit from a full diagnostic assessment for dementia. The three tests examined in this study were the Mini-Mental State Examination, which looks at orientation to time and place and the ability to remember words, the Memory Impairment Screen, which focuses on the ability to remember words, and Animal Naming, which involves naming as many animals as possible in 60 seconds. Continue reading

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Endurance but not resistance training has anti-aging effects – Study

Researchers have discovered evidence that endurance exercise, such as running, swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling, will help you age better than resistance exercise, which involves strength training with weights, as reported in Medical Xpress.

In a study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers in Germany looked at the effects of three types of exercise—endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training—on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not.

 

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Take home image showing the effects of three types of exercise — endurance training, high intensity interval training and resistance training — on the way cells in the human body age, and they found that endurance and high intensity training both slowed or even reversed cellular aging, but that resistance training did not. Credit: Ulrich Laufs, Christian Werner and the European Heart Journal

Our DNA is organized into chromosomes in all the cells in our bodies. At the end of each chromosome is a repetitive DNA sequence, called a telomere, that caps the chromosome and protects its ends from deteriorating. As we grow older, the telomeres shorten and this is an important molecular mechanism for cell aging, which eventually leads to cell death when the telomere are no longer able to protect the chromosomal DNA. The process of telomere shortening is regulated by several proteins. Among them is the enzyme telomerase that is able to counteract the shortening process and can even add length to the telomeres. Continue reading

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Google Employees Wanted To ‘Suppress’ Conservative News

This is so disappointing. Ever since ‘to google’ became a verb, I have felt total trust in using the search engine for learning more about something. Now, it seems that people working definitely wanted to influence what we found during the last election.

PA Pundits - International

By Corinne Weaver~

Research has shown that Google has a habit of downranking conservative news in the search rankings. Now The Daily Caller has proof of employees wanting to do so.

The Daily Caller published leaked emails from Google on November 30, which singled out the Caller and Breitbart as “opinion blogs” that should be downranked on Google Search. A Google engineer, Scott Byer, wrote, “How many times did you see the Election now card with items from opinion blogs (Breitbart, Daily Caller) elevated next to legitimate news organizations? That’s something that can and should be fixed.”

He also wanted Google to plan for the election in 2020, saying, “Let’s make sure that we reverse things in four years — demographics will be on our side.”

Other Google employees chimed in with concern that by measuring the news, other sources could be marked as illegitimate as well. One engineer…

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