How Well You Age Is All About Attitude, Says New Global Study

Our Better Health

VANCOUVER—A simple shift in attitude could improve a lot for the world’s elderly population, according to a new global study.

That’s because how well we age is connected to how we view old age, the study stated, noting those with a positive attitude toward old age are likely to live longer — up to eight years — than their negative counterparts.

And older people in countries with low levels of respect for seniors are at risk for worse mental and physical health as well as higher levels of poverty, the Orb Media study found. By compiling global data, researchers also surveyed 150,000 people in 101 countries to discover levels of respect for older adults, which varied from country to country.

Canada ranked in the lower third of all for respect, along with Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

But one British Columbian expert pointed out that the…

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America’s most widely consumed oil causes genetic changes in the brain – Study

New University of California Riverside research shows soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression.

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Edible fats and oil consumed in the U.S. Source: USDA

Used for fast food frying, added to packaged foods, and fed to livestock, soybean oil is by far the most widely produced and consumed edible oil in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In all likelihood, it is not healthy for humans.

It certainly is not good for mice. The new study, published this month in the journal Endocrinology, compared mice fed three different diets high in fat: soybean oil, soybean oil modified to be low in linoleic acid, and coconut oil. Continue reading

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Weekend funnies …

We are already more than halfway through January of 2020. Time really does fly doesn’t it? Herewith, some items that I enjoyed in the past week.

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Heart disease linked to higher risk of kidney failure – Study

A new study finds that heart disease may increase  your chances of kidney failure.

• In adults followed for a median of 17.5 years, cardiovascular diseases—including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, and stroke—were each linked with a higher risk of developing kidney failure.

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• Heart failure was associated with the highest risk: adults hospitalized with heart failure had an 11.4-times higher risk of developing kidney failure than individuals without cardiovascular disease

New research indicates that cardiovascular diseases—including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, and stroke—are each linked with a higher risk of developing kidney failure. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, highlight the importance of protecting the kidney health of individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

The heart and the kidneys have a bi-directional relationship, whereby dysfunction in either may compromise the function of the other. Many studies have investigated the risks of kidney disease on heart health, but few have examined the reciprocal relationship.

To investigate, a team led by Kunihiro Matsushita, MD, PhDand Junichi Ishigami, MD, PhD(Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)examined information on 9,047US adults who did not have signs ofheart disease when they enrolled in a community-based study.

“Many physicians probably recognize that patients with cardiovascular disease are at risk of kidney disease progression, but to my knowledge, this is the first study quantifying the contribution of different cardiovascular diseases to the development of kidney failure, said Dr. Matsushita.

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Tips on overeating – Tufts

One of the key concepts of a living a healthy life and controlling your weight is – “You can’t outrun your fork.” In other words, if you eat badly no matter how much exercise you get it isn’t going to earn you good health. The following tips come from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

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Focus on NUTRITIONAL quality of food. Highly-processed foods may be more likely to trigger craving and overeating.

Avoid distractions. Focus on the food you’re eating and slow down to increase odds of recognizing when you’ve had enough.

Don’t get too hungry. It may be harder to control food intake and choices when the body’s systems are all screaming for food.

Address stress. Look for ways to cut down on exposure to stressful situations. Try stress-reducing techniques such as meditation and exercise to cut down on stress eating.

Avoid temptation. Fill your pantry with healthy choices that you enjoy, not highly-palatable highly-processed junk food.

Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.

Get enough Sleep. Ensure you get at least seven hours a night.

Support policy change. Government and industry policy changes can improve access to healthy choices and make portions smaller.

Although Tufts letter doesn’t mention this one, I have found that the concept – everything I eat becomes a part of me – really helps me to keep from eating badly.

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Losing one night’s sleep may increase blood levels of Alzheimer’s biomarker – Study

I have written repeatedly about getting a good night’s sleep. You can check my page – How important is a good night’s sleep?  for more details. Regular readers also know about my concern about cognition and the vulnerability of an aging brain because of the Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia in my family.

A preliminary study by researchers at Uppsala University has found that when young, healthy men were deprived of just one night of sleep, they had higher levels of tau – a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease – in their blood than when they had a full, uninterrupted night of rest. The study is published in the medical journal Neurology.

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Tau is a protein found in neurons and the protein can form into tangles. These accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. This accumulation can start decades before symptoms of the disease appear. Previous studies of older adults have suggested that sleep deprivation can increase the level of tau in the cerebral spinal fluid. Trauma to the head can also increase circulating concentrations of tau in blood.

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Food textures affect perceptions of healthiness – Study

Looks are deceiving. Turns out that textures and also give us divergent impressions about a substance, in this case the food we eat.

The texture of certain foods may impact how much health value people believe they contain. Foods that have less explicitly textured surfaces are perceived to be tastier, but not healthier, according to Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

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New research has demonstrated how food producers could change the surface texture of products to change people’s perceptions and promote healthy eating.

The study, led by Consumer Psychologist Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd of Anglia Ruskin University, investigated people’s perceptions of identical biscuits with six different textures.

Published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, the research involved 88 people rating the six oat biscuits on healthiness, tastiness, crunchiness, chewiness, pleasantness and likelihood of purchase based only on their visual appearance, not on their taste or touch. Continue reading

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Marathon running makes arteries younger and lowers blood pressure – Study

Although I think marathon running, per se, makes too many demands on the body, it appears that marathon training and participating can accomplish some very positive effects. New research led by University College of London (UCL) and Barts Health NHS Trust suggests running a marathon for the first time could have several health benefits.

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The study, published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that for first-time marathon runners, training and completion of the marathon resulted in reductions in blood pressure and aortic stiffening in healthy participants that were equivalent to a four-year reduction in vascular age. The greatest benefits were seen in older, slower male marathon runners with higher baseline blood pressure. Continue reading

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Weekend funnies …

Hope 2020 is working out to be a good year for you. Here are some items I thought would add some fun to the New Year ….

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Marijuana detected in homicide victims nearly doubles – Study

For the record, I have been in favor of legalization of marijuana since the 1960’s when I was an occasional user. I lived on Rush St. in Chicago and had a lot of jazz musician friends who smoked. There seemed nothing criminal about it. Cut to the present day when it is de facto legal in most areas, there are new developments as a result of more widespread use.

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Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health assessed the time trends in alcohol and marijuana detected in homicide victims and found that the prevalence of marijuana almost doubled, increasing from 22 percent in 2004 to 42 percent in 2016. Alternately, the prevalence of alcohol declined slightly from 40 percent in 2004 to 35 percent in 2016. The findings are published in Injury Epidemiology.

“Despite the growing body of evidence linking alcohol and marijuana to homicide victimization, until now there was little information about the contemporary trends in the prevalence of alcohol and marijuana among homicide victims in the United States,” said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. Continue reading

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JUUL delivers substantially more nicotine than previous generation e-cigs and cigarettes – Study

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The study, which appears online Jan. 4, 2020, in Tobacco Regulatory Science, found that nicotine concentrations were five to eight times higher in rodents that were exposed to JUUL versus other tobacco products. The work also supports an earlier finding by the same researchers of harm to blood vessels from brief exposures to both direct and secondhand smoke from cigarettes, little cigars and combustible marijuana, and to aerosol from IQOS “heat-not-burn” tobacco products.

JUUL and earlier generation e-cigs are promoted as being less hazardous than cigarettes. Since 2016, there has been a dramatic increase in youth e-cig use, with JUUL devices particularly effective at recruiting teenagers to begin nicotine usage. A recent study found 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of eighth graders currently use e-cigs, with more than half of both groups using JUUL as their preferred choice.

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Belaboring The Bee: All They Have To Do Is Not Be Crazy

I must confess to previous ignorance of the Babylon Bee, despite its 10 million monthly readers. After reading this post, however, I intend to make it my business to check them out regularly.

Stately McDaniel Manor

Every year, I teach Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to my 11th grade students.  No one can know American literature without knowing Huck Finn.  It’s Mark Twain’s masterpiece.  It took him seven years to write, and I suspect he finally published it in service to the venerable author’s aphorism:

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Cutting back on sugar consumption – Tufts

Sugar substitutes are marketed as a way to reduce calories and decrease intake of added sugars. While they seem to be safe, the products in which sugar substitutes are found may contain large amounts of refined carbohydrate and are frequently not the healthiest choices, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

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-Look for labels.
“Diet,” “sugar-free,” “low-calorie,” or “reduced-calorie” labels typically indicate the presence of sugar substitutes. CHOOSE water. When trying to decrease added sugar intake, water, unsweetened coffee, tea, and seltzer are the best choices. For those who find it hard to give up sugar-sweetened beverages, a switch to beverages sweetened with sugar substitutes will help cut health-damaging added sugars while you work to wean yourself off of sweet drinks.

-Eat fruit. The natural sugars in fruits are not associated with harmful health effects, and the nutrients in these naturally-sweet choices are definitely health-promoting.

-Limit sugar alcohols. In some people, high intake can cause cramping, gas, and diarrhea. The amount that can be tolerated without ill effects varies from person to person. “Sugar Alcohol” should be listed under “Total Carbohydrate” on Nutrition Facts labels.

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How diet affects mental health …

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“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence”.

The researchers found that there are some areas where this link between diet and mental health is firmly established, such as the ability of a high fat and low carbohydrate diet (a ketogenic diet) to help children with epilepsy, and the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression.

They also found that there is good evidence that a Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and olive oil, shows mental health benefits, such as giving some protection against depression and anxiety. However, for many foods or supplements, the evidence is inconclusive, as for example with the use of vitamin D supplements, or with foods believed to be associated with ADHD or autism.

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Let there be more light …

I don’t know if I suffer from SAD – seasonal affective disorder – or not. If I do, I think it is a mild case. Don’t know what SAD is?

Here’s the Mayo Clinic explaining it, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”

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“Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy.” Continue reading

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Lower hand grip strength associated with cognitive impairment

Older adults with a weaker hand grip were more likely to be cognitively impaired than those with a stronger grip, according to an NIA-funded study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The findings suggest that hand grip strength may be a potential low-cost, easy way to help detect cognitive impairment and, in combination with other measures, to identify people who may benefit from early interventions.

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A team led by researchers from North Dakota State University looked at data over an eight-year period from almost 14,000 people, age 50 or older, in the NIA-supported Health and Retirement Study. A handheld instrument called a dynamometer was used to assess hand grip strength, and a modified screening tool from the Mini-Mental State Examination was used to measure cognitive function every two years. Of the 13,828 participants who were assessed, 1,309 had some degree of cognitive impairment. Continue reading

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