Social media’s possible negative impact on body image – Study

Social media are surely a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they allow us contact with friends and acquaintances from all over the world, truly creating a global village. On the other hand, as this study from New York University shows, individuals can be damaged by using it.

Young women who actively engage with social media images of friends who they think are more attractive than themselves report feeling worse about their own appearance afterward, a York University study shows.

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It’s no secret that social media can blur the lines on what’s real and what’s fantasy, but new research at York’s Faculty of Health now shows how young women interact with images online can affect how they feel about their own bodies. Continue reading

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Meditation and Music May Alter Blood Markers of Cellular Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease in Adults with Early Memory Loss

A research team led by Dr. Kim Innes, a professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health, has found that a simple meditation or music listening program may alter certain biomarkers of cellular aging and Alzheimer’s Disease in older adults who are experiencing memory loss. Study findings, reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, also suggest these changes may be directly related to improvements in memory and cognition, sleep, mood, and quality of life.

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Sixty older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a condition that may represent a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, participated in the randomized, clinical trial. While SCD has been linked to increased risk for dementia and associated with certain neuropathological changes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease development, including elevated brain levels of beta amyloid, this preclinical period may also provide a critical window for therapeutic intervention.

In this trial, each participant was randomly assigned to either a beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening program and asked to practice 12 minutes/day for 12 weeks. At baseline and 3 months, blood samples were collected. Two markers of cellular aging were measured: telomere length and telomerase activity. (Telomeres serve as protective caps on chromosomes; telomerase is an enzyme responsible for maintaining telomere length). Blood levels of specific beta-amyloid peptides commonly linked to Alzheimer’s Disease were also assessed. In addition, memory and cognitive function, stress, sleep, mood, and quality of life were measured. All participants were followed for a total of 6 months. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, cognition, cognitive decline, memory, music, music listening, music therapy, successful aging

Weekend funnies …

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and these provide a pleasant overture to it.

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Tony

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How Cardiovascular Exercise Helps the Brain

With Thanksgiving looming, this is a great time to reaffirm our resolve to exercise regularly. OR, it is the ideal time to resolve to exercise regularly in the coming year and maybe begin to address physical and weight problems that we have neglected.

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food.
Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food.

Regular readers know that I have posted numerous times on the value of exercise not only for our bodies, but also for our brains. On the top of this page is IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT YOUR BRAIN.

If you click on that link you can find a page full of blog posts on the subject.

And now, the New York Times joins in the fray with Gretchen Reynolds’s article Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain.

She cites a study on Endurance Running that posits our caveman ancestors survived by becoming endurance athletes, “able to bring down swifter prey through sheer doggedness, jogging and plodding along behind them until the animals dropped.

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What about eating French fries? – Tufts

I confess that I love french fries. I also confess that I don’t eat them very often because of their fat content and fears of what I am putting into my system. The following is from The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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 Q. Potatoes are a vegetable, so why aren’t French fries good for you? Are the nutrients destroyed in the frying process?

A. “A medium baked potato (with skin) is a good source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. But potatoes don’t contain other nutrients, such as the carotenoids and phytochemicals found in more brightly-colored vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “Peeling to remove the skin to make fries and chips results in the loss of a large portion of the fiber, further diminishing the potato’s nutritional value. In addition, French fries are typically salted. Most of us consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, and eating highly salted foods like fries makes that situation worse.”

“Deep frying potatoes to turn them into French fries does not change them that much, but it does increase the number of calories per serving, so we get less nutrients per calorie when we eat them. We each need a particular number of calories to fuel our bodies, and we also need a sufficient intake of many different nutrients. If we choose to consume something like French fries frequently and in a large quantity, we will surpass our calorie needs before we meet all of our nutrient needs, which can impact health.”

“Enjoy potatoes sometimes as part of a balanced, healthy dietary pattern. Think of them as a substitute for grains rather than vegetables when you fill up your plate. Leave the skin on, prepare them in a variety of ways, and avoid adding a lot of butter, cream, and salt. Round out your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables and other plant foods.”

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Filed under calorie counting, calories, french fries, fried potatoes, Tufts University, white potatoes

Mid-week puns

Herewith yet another entry into my journey to the dark side of word play.

  A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.

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Tony

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Alzheimer’s Genetically Linked to Cardiovascular Disease – Study

Studying DNA from more than 1.5 million people, an international team of researchers — led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California, San Francisco — has identified points of DNA that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also heighten the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, according to an article in Neuroscience News.

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Scientists have long been aware of connections between variations of the APOE gene, which is involved in cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and Alzheimer’s disease. That gene is known to double the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in some patients and increase risk by up to 12 times in others. But in the new study, the researchers identified other DNA points that also appear to be involved both in cardiovascular disease risk and the risk for Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, Alzheimer's, dementia, brain health, Alzheimer's disease, brain function, aging brain, Alzheimer's risk, heart health brain health

New physical activities guidelines – HHS

Eat less; move move; live longer remains the manta of this blog. So, when we learned that there were new guidelines for physical activity from the department of Health and Human Services (HHS), we thought you might be interested, too.

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This morning at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, ADM Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health launched the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

The second edition is based on the latest scientific evidence that shows that physical activity conveys even more health benefits than previously known. New aspects include discussions of:

  • Additional health benefits related to brain health, additional cancer sites, and fall-related injuries;
  • Immediate and longer term benefits for how people feel, function, and sleep;
  • Further benefits among older adults and people with additional chronic conditions;
  • Risks of sedentary behavior and their relationship with physical activity;
  • Guidance for preschool children (ages 3 through 5 years);
  • Elimination of the requirement for physical activity of adults to occur in bouts of at least 10 minutes; and
  • Tested strategies that can be used to get the population more active.

If you want to know the entire story, you can download the entire set of guidelines in PDF form.

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What about pain and exercise?

I have a bad case of arthritis in both my hands. I use exercise balls, ice packs and CBD oil for temporary pain relief. That is pretty much the only pain I deal with regularly. So, I guess I have a lot to be thankful for as a guy who turns 79 in January. I do realize, however, that many seniors are not so lucky. For them, I recommend these tips from the National Institute on Aging.

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Exercising when you’re in pain can be hard. You might think that you should rest until your pain disappears. But depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing, exercise can help reduce your pain and improve your mood.
Most people living with chronic pain can exercise safely. In fact, research has shown that exercise combined with education can reduce one’s risk of lower back pain.

Follow these tips for exercising with pain:

  • Pace yourself. Begin your program slowly with low-intensity exercises and work up from there.
  • Talk to your doctor. Pain usually doesn’t go away overnight, so talk with your health care provider about how long it may take before you feel better and about what exercises you can do safely.
  • Know which exercises to do. Endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises all have their own benefits, so doing a combination of exercises may be best.
  • Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body. Avoid overexerting yourself when you feel good. If you have pain or swelling in a specific area, switch your focus to another area for a couple of days.

Learn more about exercising with pain from Go4Life.

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Filed under back pain, chronic pain, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise frequency, joint pain, pain, Pain relief, Uncategorized

5 Ways to use less salt – Harvard

Everyone knows that they don’t want to eat too much salt. Unfortunately, many folks think that by cutting down what they take out of the salt shaker, they are reducing their salt intake. Not exactly correct. True, you shake less salt on your food. However, that is not the biggest source of salt in the diet.

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Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from prepared and processed foods. The leading culprits include snack foods, sandwich meats, smoked and cured meats, canned juices, canned and dry soups, pizza and other fast foods, and many condiments, relishes, and sauces — for starters. But enough of it comes from the salt shaker at home that it’s worth finding alternatives. Here are five ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:

  1. Use spices and other flavor enhancers. Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars, and wine. From black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric to fresh basil, chili peppers, and lemon juice, these flavor enhancers create excitement for the palate — and with less sodium.
  2. Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen. Using the right healthy fats — from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybean, and other oils — can add a rich flavor to foods, minus the salt.
  3. Sear, sauté, and roast. Searing or sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken. If you do steam or microwave some dishes, perk them up with a finishing drizzle of flavorful oil and a squeeze of citrus.
  4. Get your whole grains from sources other than bread. Even whole-grain bread, though a healthier choice than white, can contain considerable sodium. Bread contains quite a bit of salt — not just for flavor, but to ensure that the dough rises properly. You can skip that extra salt when you look for whole grains outside of baking. For example, instead of toast with breakfast, cook up steel-cut oats, farro, or other intact whole grains with fresh or dried fruit.
  5. Know your seasons, and, even better, your local farmer. Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor, thereby avoiding the need to add as much (if any) sodium. Shop for peak-of-season produce from farmers’ markets and your local supermarket.

For more information on lifestyle changes that will help treat high blood pressure, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Shoveling snow is dangerous

I wanted to post this early to remind you about the nature of snow shoveling. The sight of snow can be a beautiful thing, but the nitty gritty of it is otherwise. Driving a car over snow is treacherous, ditto trying to navigate a bicycle. But the worst can be removing it. Shoveling snow is dangerous work.

While I strongly support calorie burning exercises to build up your cardiovascular system and other benefits, it is important to know your limits. If you are not currently working out or don’t consider yourself to be “in condition,” please think twice before you grab that snow shovel and race out to clear the walk.

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The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reported that more than 195,000 people were treated in U.S. Emergency Rooms for snow-shovel-related incidents from 1990 to 2006. This is an average of 11,500 individuals per year. Keep in mind that this information only covers folks who actually went to the ER for treatment. Plenty more stayed home and nursed their wounds ….

About 2/3 of these incidents occurred among males. Children younger than 18 made up 15.3% of the cases. Older adults (above 55 years) accounted for more than 20%.
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Filed under Exercise, heart attack, heart health brain health, snow shoveling

Weekend funnies …

Okay, the mid-terms are over. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. There was something in them for everyone. Kick back and enjoy these …

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The fun of being a pup.

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Does he know something we don’t?

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This is a special for dog lovers.

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Tha’t what I call nailing the landing.

Tony

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Exercise and be happy – Infographic

I have written so many times about the benefits of exercise on the body and brain that this almost seems repetitious. On the other hand, it is nice to see the exact hormones at work.

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On the off chance that you are not familiar with it, please check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits.)

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Tony

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How coffee protects the brain

I am guilty of being a coffee lover. I am so bad that when I see someone on TV carrying a cardboard cup of the brew, I am tempted to make some for myself. So, the following was good news for me.

Scientists have now proved that drinking certain types of coffee can be beneficial to brain health, but how does this popular brew support cognitive function? A new study identifies some of the mechanisms that allow coffee to keep mental decline at bay.

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According to data from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, about 54 percent of all adults in the United States drink coffee on a daily basis.

While drinking coffee can bring both benefits and risks for a person’s health, a 2016 study from the University of Ulster in Coleraine, United Kingdom, concluded that the health benefits of moderate coffee consumption “clearly outweigh” the potential risks.

One of these benefits is that coffee seems to protect the brain against cognitive impairments and boost thinking skills. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, coffee, Uncategorized

Some mid-week pun fun

Hopefully, these help you to get across hump day. Remember, when the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.

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Having studied Spanish, I am, a sucker for bi-lingual puns.

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Tony

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Eat These Foods To Prevent The Flu

I like this post. Consider it another arrow in your quiver against the flu this season. I wrote recently about getting my flu shot and recommended that you do the same. Here are some more good ideas to help get you through the coming five or so months.

Tony

Let's Discuss Nutrition

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Flu season is almost here and often a flu shot and taking vitamin C isn’t enough. Aside from mitigating stress and getting enough sleep, it’s important to pay attention to nutrition. Here’s what you should be eating for flu prevention:

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Hello mushrooms! These fungi contain glucans, a polysaccharide that enhances natural killer cells in the body. In order to optimize the immune-boosting benefits of mushrooms, eat a variety such as shiitake, white button, and maitake.

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No more crying. Garlic, onions, shallots, and chives have been shown to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms by increasing the activity of natural killer cells. Onions have properties that increase white blood cell counts needed to fight off pathogens. Why not saute mushrooms and onions for a double whammy of these immune fighting foods?

sliced kiwi fruits

A cup of kiwi blows citrus out of the water, with 273% of your daily value of…

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