Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills

Eat less; move more; live longer. That is the mantra of this blog. moving more keeps the organic machines we know as our bodies in tip top shape. As it turns out exercise is also good for the old cabeza.

Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months.

You probably already know that exercising is necessary to preserve muscle strength, keep your heart strong, maintain a healthy body weight, and stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes. But exercise can also help boost your thinking skills. “There’s a lot of science behind this,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Exercise boosts your memory and thinking skills both directly and indirectly. It acts directly on the body by stimulating physiological changes such as reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation, along with encouraging production of growth factors — chemicals that affect the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance, survival, and overall health of new brain cells.

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It also acts directly on the brain itself. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are larger in volume in people who exercise than in people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. McGinnis. Continue reading

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When screening for disease, risk is as important to consider as benefits – study

Physicians and patients like to believe that early detection of cancer extends life, and quality of life. If a cancer is present, you want to know early, right? Maybe not.

An analysis of cancer screenings by a University of Virginia statistician and a researcher at the National Cancer Institute indicates that early diagnosis of a cancer does not necessarily result in a longer life than without an early diagnosis. And screenings – such as mammograms for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen tests for prostate cancer – come with built-in risks, such as results mistakenly indicating the presence of cancer (false positives), as well as missed diagnoses (false negatives). Patients may undergo harsh treatments that diminish quality of life while not necessarily extending it.

Yet the benefits of early diagnosis through screening often are touted over the risks.

“It is difficult to estimate the effect of over-diagnosis, but the risk of over-diagnosis is a factor that should be considered,” said Karen Kafadar, a UVA statistics professor and co-author of a study being presented Sunday at a session of the 2017 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “How many diagnosed cases would never have materialized in a person’s lifetime, and gone successfully untreated? Treatments sometimes can cause harm, and can shorten life or reduce quality of life.”

Kafadar is not advocating against screening, but her findings show that frequent screening comes with its own risks. As a metric for evaluation, reduction in mortality is considered the standard. So if a disease results in 10 deaths per 100,000 people in a year, and screening reduces the deaths to six per 100,000 people, then there seems to be an impressive 40 percent reduction in mortality.

However, a more meaningful metric, Kafadar said, may be: “How much longer can a person whose case was screen-detected be expected to live, versus a case that was diagnosed only after clinical symptoms appeared?” This issue becomes harder to discern – how long a patient survives after a diagnosis versus how long the patient might have lived anyway. Some cancer cases might never become apparent during a person’s lifetime without screening, but with screening might be treated unnecessarily, such as for a possibly non-aggressive cancer. And some aggressive forms of disease may shorten life even when caught early through screening.

Kafadar and her collaborator, National Cancer Institute statistician Philip Prorok, gathered long-term data from several study sources, including health insurance plans and the National Cancer Institute’s recently completed long-term randomized control trial on prostate, lung, colorectal and ovarian cancer, to consider several factors affecting the value of screening – over-diagnosis, lead time on a diagnosis and other statistical distortions – to look at not just how many people die, but also life extension.

“People die anyway of various causes,” Kafadar said, “but most individuals likely are more interested in, ‘How much longer will I live?’ Unfortunately, screening tests are not always accurate, but we like to believe they are.”

Because the paper considers together the factors that affect statistical understanding of the effectiveness of screening, rather than looking at each of these factors in isolation as previous studies have done, it offers a new statistical methodology for teasing out the relative effects of cancer screening’s benefits and risks.

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5 Tips on choosing healthy protein foods – Harvard

Unlike the weather, everyone talks about protein but they usually try to do something about it, too. MedlinePlus says, “Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids.

“You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.”

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Here are some tips from Harvard on getting the most benefit from protein.

1. Upgrade the protein on your plate. The Healthy Eating Plate encourages you to eat protein-rich foods like beans, nuts, tofu, fish, chicken, or eggs in place of less-healthy options like red and processed meats.

For example, try a turkey or black bean burger instead of a traditional beef burger. Or slice up a fresh-roasted chicken breast or salmon for your sandwich instead of using processed high-sodium lunch meat.

2. Don’t stress too much about protein quantity. Most reasonable diets provide plenty of protein for healthy people. Eating a variety of healthy protein-rich foods—for example an egg with breakfast, some turkey or beans on your salad for lunch, and a piece of salmon or tofu with a whole grain side dish for dinner—will ensure that you get all the protein and protein building-blocks (amino acids) you need. Choose higher-protein foods instead of bulking up with pricey protein shakes or powders, since some of these are loaded with sugar or other additives.

3. Try a meatless Monday—or more. Diets high in plant-based proteins and fats can provide health benefits, so try mixing some vegetarian proteins into your meals. Going meatless can be good for your wallet as well as your health, since beans, nuts and seeds, and other minimally-processed vegetarian protein sources are often less expensive than meat. Eating plant protein in place of meat is also good for the planet. It takes a lot of energy to raise and process animals for meat, so going meatless could help reduce pollution and has the potential to lessen climate change.

4. Eat soy in moderation. Tofu and other soy foods are an excellent red meat alternative. In some cultures, tofu and soy foods are a protein staple, and we don’t suggest any change. But if you haven’t grown up eating lots of soy, there’s no reason to begin eating it in large quantities. And stay away from supplements that contain concentrated soy protein or extracts, such as isoflavones, as we just don’t know their long-term effects.

Scan the Nutrition Facts label before you buy highly-processed vegetarian “fake meat” foods, since these are often as high in sodium—or higher in sodium—than their processed red meat counterparts.

5. Shift the balance of carbs and protein. Cutting back on highly processed carbohydrates and increasing protein improves levels of triglycerides and protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the bloodstream, and so may reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or other type of cardiovascular disease. This shift may also make you feel full longer, and stave off hunger pangs.

Tony

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Fitness funnies

I just realized that I hadn’t shared one of these in over a week. Hope you enjoy ’em as much as I did.

When you read this, I will be on my way to Las Vegas.

Wish me luck and have a great weekend!

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Tony

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7 Sleep mistakes you don’t know you’re making – Infographic

Sleep is one of the truly under-appreciated aspects of living a long and healthy life. I know for sure that when I was in the working world, I pretty much considered sleep to be an imposition on my life.

Times, and my mind, have changed. Please check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep for more on this crucial aspect of our daily lives.

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Tony

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Two keys to strong bones … Harvard

Although bone-weakening osteoporosis is quite common among older people, it isn’t an inevitable part of aging. There’s a lot you can do to shield your bones from this disease.

While it is true that women account for most cases of osteoporosis. I think the fact that they outlive men, and the disease usually hits after late 50’s, because women outlive us, a disproportionate number of women get the disease. The International Osteoporosis Foundation says that worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.

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The best insurance against osteoporosis is building the highest bone density possible by your 30s and minimizing bone loss after that. But if you’re already in midlife or beyond, there is still much you can do to preserve the bone you have and perhaps even to replace lost bone. Daily weight-bearing exercise, like walking, is the best medicine. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D are two other critical strategies for keeping bones strong.

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Can exercise help people at risk for Alzheimer’s – Study

One of the main goals in living longer is having one’s brain fully functional. Since I have both Alzheimer’s and dementia in my family tree, I am totally focused on keeping my brain working. There is no question that exercise can help one defend against dementia, but with Alzheimer’s the jury is still out.

Can exercise slow or prevent cognitive decline in older people who are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease? A new clinical trial led by National Institute on Aging (NIA) -supported scientists in collaboration with the YMCA aims to find out whether exercise may be an effective nondrug treatment for staying cognitively fit.

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The trial, called EXERT, will enroll 300 people, age 65 to 89, with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition of mild memory problems that often leads to Alzheimer’s dementia. Based on the trial’s results, the researchers hope to develop an evidence-based “prescription” that will tell people the type and frequency of exercise needed to support memory and thinking skills.

“We want to design a real-life program that can be implemented in the community and prescribed by healthcare providers,” said Laura D. Baker, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., who is leading the study with Carl W. Cotman, Ph.D., of the University of California, Irvine.

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Good health in simple steps – NIA

Living a healthy life is simple but not easy. This infographic from the National Institute on Aging makes it very clear.

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The Sleep Cure: The Fountain of Youth May Be Close at Hand

I couldn’t agree more with these healthy sleep sentiments. Check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep for more details.

Tony

Mark Zielinski knew he was onto something when his mice stopped sleeping. Normally, the animals woke and slept on a 12-hour cycle. When the lights were on in the lab, the mice were active. When it went dark on a timer, down they went. But Zielinski, who teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, had recently […]

via The Sleep Cure: The Fountain of Youth May Be Closer Than You Ever Thought — Our Better Health

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Women perform better than men on memory tests for Alzheimer’s

Since I have at least three cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia in my family, this kind of information always resonates with me.

Women do better on verbal memory tests commonly used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease compared to men with the same amount of neurotoxic protein in their brains, a new study has found.

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It is well known that females have an advantage on verbal memory tests, in which subjects are challenged to recite back a list of heard words. Because women are better at the tests, which are often used to help detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, the severity of their disease may be missed, says Dr. Pauline Maki, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an author on the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Gluten-free diet may increase risk of arsenic, mercury exposure

I’m sure you have encountered friends and acquaintances who are going ‘gluten-free.’ I have observed, I don’t think imagined, a certain smugness about the announcement. Like they have elevated themselves above the masses. Well, It turns out maybe not.

People who eat a gluten-free diet may be at risk for increased exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.

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Gluten-free diets have become popular in the U.S., although less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease – an out-of-control immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but others often say they prefer eating gluten-free because it reduces inflammation – a claim that has not been scientifically proven. In 2015, one-quarter of Americans reported eating gluten-free, a 67 percent increase from 2013.

Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to bioaccumulate certain toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, or water, but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content. (my emphasis)

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Is your office bad for your health?

Okay, nobody is saying that working in an office is as dangerous as doing construction or working in a mine, but health hazards exist in offices, too. It’s easy to grow complacent about it.

Desk jobs can pose dangers to your health. Rush family medicine physician Gabriela Baeza, MD, recently discussed some of the most common hazards — and how to avoid them.

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A growing body of research suggests that simply sitting too much can endanger your health — regardless of whether you get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.

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Researchers have found that too much sitting might make you less sensitive to insulin (a hormone that helps your body process and use energy from food). It also might lead to higher levels of triglycerides, or fats, in your blood. Such effects could, in turn, make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. Continue reading

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4 Ways to eat your way to lower cholesterol – Harvard

Following is one of those helpful email I get from Harvard from time to time. I thought you might find it interesting.

Many people can reduce cholesterol levels simply by changing what they eat. For example, if you are a fan of cheeseburgers, eating less meat (and leaner cuts) and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower your total cholesterol by 25% or more. Cutting back on saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) can reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%.

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Here are four steps for using your diet to lower your cholesterol.

Stick with unsaturated fats and avoid saturated and trans fats. Most vegetable fats (oils) are made up of unsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. Foods that contain healthy fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds, and some vegetables. At the same time, limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, which is found in many meat and dairy products, and stay away from trans fats. These include any foods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.”

Get more soluble fiber. Eat more soluble fiber, such as that found in oatmeal and fruits. This type of fiber can lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy-fat diet. Continue reading

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Some Good Leg Stretches for Cyclists

Here is a post I wrote a while back for another blog I do. Thought you cyclists and/or runners might be interested.

Quad-stretch

Tony

Willing Wheeling

I ride my bicycle nearly every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for a total of 6350 miles. So far this  year, I am over 7500 miles in the first week of December.

In a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As every rider knows, your legs can get stiff after a while.  I have found three wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs. I usually do them after ten miles or so. That way the muscles are warmed up and I have good circulation.

There are pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I do yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do the diaphragmatic breathing…

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Food and health cliches revisited – Wake Forest

An apple a day keeps the doctor away – I always liked that one. While apples boast many health benefits, they do not, sadly, bulletproof us against all diseases.

“Everything our parents said was good is bad,” complains Alvy Singer, the character played by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” his 1977 Oscar-winning romantic comedy.

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That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to what certain foods can do to or for you, it’s probably best to take motherly advice, familiar sayings and other bits of conventional wisdom with a grain of salt.

“There’s some validity to some of them, but many of them are just old wives’ tales or myths that have trickled down over the years,” said Annette Frain, a registered dietitian at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Continue reading

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Is your child fat?

As you can see from this post, lifelong good health starts early. There are excellent tools here to make sure your children get off to the right start.

Tony

IS YOUR CHILD FAT? Here’s a question a growing segment of our PARENTAL population is going to have to begin asking themselves. The need to face REALITY is NOT based on aesthetics but rather the diseases and traumatic life altering compromises our children face if we continue to avoid this topic. The argument, “we should […]

via IS YOUR CHILD FAT? — All About Healthy Choices

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