Anatomy of an Act of Kindness

I am reblogging this as the subject of it – my dog Gabi – turns 12 years old today. I thought this would be an appropriate celebration of her birthday.

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I shot this picture of her on a recent ride. She likes her sun hat.

Tony

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

I started this year encouraging Random Acts of Kindness as a super stepping off point toward being a happy person. I have seen over the period of writing this blog how many people abuse their bodies with food in their efforts to assuage real or imagined feelings of insecurity or as a misdirected way of dealing with stress. If they were happier at the outset, maybe they wouldn’t have a weight problem at all. The tags at the right with stress, happiness and relaxation will direct you to further items on these subjects.

Getting back to the act of kindness being dissected. I want to explain it from start to finish as I think there is some valuable information in it.

Gabi at 3 months chewing a ball …

It started some years ago when my ex-wife got a puppy for Kate, my daughter. Kate was 11 years old…

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Exercise helps brain functions – Study

As regular readers know, I think we should all exercise regularly to keep our bodies and brains functioning at their best levels. It’s nice to see that the phrase use it or lose it has value on more than one level.

Mount Sinai researchers have found a positive relationship between the brain network associated with working memory—the ability to store and process information relevant to the task at hand—and healthy traits such as higher physical endurance and better cognitive function.

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These traits were associated with greater cohesiveness of the working memory brain network while traits indicating sub-optimal cardiovascular and metabolic , and sub-optimal health habits including binge drinking and regular smoking, were associated with less cohesive working memory networks.

This is the first study to establish the link between working memory and physical health and .

The results of the study were published online in Molecular Psychiatry on Tuesday, December 5, 2017.

The research team took brain scans of 823 participants in the Human Connectome Project (HCP), a large brain imaging study funded by the National Institutes of Health, while they performed a task involving working memory, and extracted measures of brain activity and connectivity to create a brain map of working memory. The team then used a statistical method called sparse canonical correlation to discover the relationships between the working memory brain map and 116 measures of cognitive ability, physical and mental health, personality, and lifestyle choices. They found that cohesiveness in the working memory brain map was positively associated with higher physical endurance and better cognitive function. Physical traits such as high body mass index, and suboptimal lifestyle choices including binge alcohol drinking and regular smoking, had the opposite association.

“Working memory accounts for individual differences in personal, educational, and professional attainment,” said Sophia Frangou, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Working is also one of the brain functions that is severely affected by physical and mental illnesses. Our study identified factors that can either support or undermine the brain network. Our findings can empower people to make informed choices about how best to promote and preserve health.”

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Filed under brain exercise, cardio exercise, cognition, Exercise, exercise benefits, working memory

Study shows women more naturally fit than men

At the risk of sounding sexist, I am surprised by these findings. I guess because men are generally bigger and stronger, I assumed the opposite was true.

Women can process oxygen more quickly than men when they start to exercise, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Quick oxygen uptake places less strain on the body’s cells and is considered an important measure of aerobic fitness.

“The findings are contrary to the popular assumption that men’s bodies are more naturally athletic,” said Thomas Beltrame, lead author on the study.

The study compared oxygen uptake and muscle oxygen extraction between 18 young men and women of similar age and weight during treadmill exercise. Women consistently outperformed men with around 30 per cent faster oxygen handling throughout the body.

“We found that women’s muscles extract oxygen from the blood faster, which, scientifically speaking, indicates a superior aerobic system,” said Richard Hughson, a professor in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, and Schlegel Research Chair in Vascular Aging and Brain Health at Waterloo.

By processing oxygen faster, women are less likely to accumulate molecules linked with muscle fatigue, effort perception and poor athletic performance.

“While we don’t know why women have faster oxygen uptake, this study shakes up conventional wisdom,” said Beltrame. “It could change the way we approach assessment and athletic training down the road.”

The study is published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism

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Filed under men's fitness, women's fitness

Can you get Alzheimer’s when you are young?

I used to attend regularly a program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital called ‘Healthy Transions.’ It was for folks over 55 years old and dealt with the situations they would encounter as they aged. The most popular talks by far were the ones on MCI – mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s not surprising that as we age we get serious concerns about our brains functioning fully.

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Here is what Sharecare had to say on the subject: We rightly associate Alzheimer’s disease with an older population. Most people who develop this progressive brain disorder are age 65 and older. Currently some 5.5 million Americans—two-thirds of them women—live with the disease. But hidden within that estimate, a smaller number—approximately 200,000 adults—develop the condition under the age of 65. When this happens, it’s called younger-onset, or early-onset Alzheimer’s. “Alzheimer’s is just one type of dementia, and given the frequency of early-onset it’s somewhat uncommon,” says H. Rai Kakkar, MD, a neurologist at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Centerin Denver, Colorado.

How is early-onset different?
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (EOAD) is the same as Alzheimer’s disease in terms of progressive deterioration of cognitive function, but there are differences in causes. Some cases are the result of familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), caused by an inherited change in one of several specific genes. Continue reading

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Filed under Alzheimer's, dementia, cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, Alzheimer's risk

Food to Fight The Flu: Fact Vs Fiction

I stumbled across this post in my web wanderings and thought it had a lot of good solid nutritional information in it that seemed very appropriate considering that winter seems to have arrived full force.

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Tony

Osinga Nutrition | Registered Dietitian in the Durham Region

 “Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine” – Hippocrates

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Sweet potatoes are sweet enough – Harvard

I am a big fan of sweet potatoes. Drum roll, please. Number one on the countdown of 10 best foods from the Center for Science in the Public Interest is Sweet Potatoes. A nutritional All-Star — one of the best vegetables you can eat. They’re loaded with carotenoids, Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

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Harvard School of Public Health says, that sweet potatoes are typically recognized by their copper-colored skin and vibrant orange flesh, though the hundreds of varieties grown worldwide display colors such as white, cream, yellow, reddish-purple, and deep purple. Although they are often found on holiday tables covered in marshmallows or mixed with added sweeteners, there’s no need! True to their name, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor, which is further enhanced through cooking methods like roasting. They are also one of the top sources of beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A. Continue reading

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Fitness funnies and …

I hope you are in the midst of a wonderful weekend. Here are some more little fun pics I stumbled across in my web wanderings. Some concern fitness and good health … others just fun.

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As a guy who rides his bike with his dog, I love this one.

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Tony

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How to age more slowly

Here is further information on the goal and idea of living a long life with a functioning brain throughout.

Tony

True Strange Library

Centenarians reach age 100 because they age more slowly. Genetics play a part in resisting damage that accumulatesover time, but there are things anyone can do to slow the aging process and improve health.

According to Israeli physician Nir Barzilai of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York:

“There is no pattern. The usual recommendations for a healthy life — not smoking, not drinking, plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet, keeping your weight down — they apply to us average people. But not to them. Centenarians are in a class of their own.” …

“Today’s changes in lifestyle do in fact contribute to whether someone dies at the age of 85 or before age 75.

But in order to reach the age of 100, you need a special genetic make-up. These people age differently. Slower. They end up dying of the same diseases…

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Filed under aging, aging brain, aging myths, blood sugar, living longer, longevity, successful aging, sugar, sugary soft drinks

Are colder temps healthier? MNT

Although Chicago has had some spring like temperatures in the past week, this is December and colder readings are on the way. Personally, while I don’t like to feel the cold, I do like the fact that I can insulate myself with another layer of clothing and still enjoy the outdoors. As regular readers know, I ride my bike here year ’round.

Here’s what Medical News Today has to say about colder temps.

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Winter’s here now, temperatures are dropping, and chances are that it’ll get even colder. All that most of us want to do is cozy up indoors with a mug of hot tea and a heartwarming movie, but do cold temperatures bring us any health benefits? If so, what are they? We investigate.

Research has suggested that cool temperatures could bring a range of health benefits, and that we shouldn’t always shun exposure to cold. In this article, we give you an overview of some of these reported benefits.

The cold can boost sleep quality

Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm that self-regulates eating, sleeping, and activity patterns according to day-night cycles, thereby allowing us to function normally. Researchers have found that a dysregulation of circadian rhythms can lead to a disrupted sleep, which, in turn, can lead to a number of health problems.

Studies that were recently covered by Medical News Today have found that insomnia and other sleep disorders can impair our perception and cognitive function and heighten the risk of kidney disease and diabetes.

Research has revealed that, when we fall asleep, our body temperature begins to drop. Insomniacs, however, seem unable to regulate body heat appropriately, leading to difficulties in falling asleep.

This is where external temperatures come in. One study experimented with “cooling caps” — that is, headwear that keeps the sleeper’s head at cooler temperatures — and found that insomniacs benefited from the exposure, which allowed them to enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Current sleep guidelines — supported by existing research — suggest that the ideal temperature in our bedrooms as we prepare to go to sleep should be somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be freezing cold, of course — that won’t really help your sleep — but moderately cool environments might do the trick. Continue reading

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Filed under cold season, cold weather, cold weather biking, cold weather exercising, Weight, weight control

Obesity is common, serious and costly – CDC

I have written about the dangers of obesity almost more times than I can remember, yet it remains a nightmare for us. As we tell our children over and over – actions have consequences. When will we learn that everything we eat and drink becomes a part of us. We don’t just get to enjoy the taste with no physical effects afterwards.

    • More than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults have obesity. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief PDF-704KB]
    • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
    • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]

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Obesity affects some groups more than others Continue reading

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Filed under childhood obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart, heart disease, obesity, stroke, Type 2 diabetes

Age: It’s Just a Number

There are some superb concepts in this post that are in harmony with much of what I have written on living a long, healthy, happy life with your brain still functioning throughout. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Tony

The Other Side of 55

“Age is just a number, and agelessness means not buying into the idea that a number determines everything from your state of health to your attractiveness to your value. You can be younger at 60 than you were at 30 because you’ve changed your attitude and your lifestyle. To be ageless is to defy the rules of what it supposedly means to be this age or that age. It is, quite simply, to never ‘grow old’ – to never feel as if the best days are behind you and it’s all downhill from here.”

Christiane Northrup, M.D. (from ‘Goddesses Never Age’).

There’s a great line in the original Crocodile Dundee movie when Sue asks Mick when he was born and he says, “In the summer”. He has no idea how many years he has lived (i.e., how ‘old’ he is), and so his age doesn’t limit him…

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Fitness funnies & …

I am happy to share some more of the health and fitness pics I stumbled across in my web wanderings this past week. The ‘& …” in the header is for the animal ones. They have nothing to do with fitness, but they crack me up every time. Maybe it’s because I am a dog owner and have a sympathy with the animal brain. Anyway, I hope you like them as much as I do.

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Pure canine joy!

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Tony

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Harvard says, ‘Nuts to you’ – for heart health

I am fortunate in that I like nuts in all manner and form. Always have. So, nuts are an integral part of my daily diet.

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Many people think of nuts as just another junk food snack. In reality, nuts are excellent sources of healthy fat, protein, and other healthful nutrients.

One surprising finding from nutrition research is that people who regularly eat nuts are less likely to have heart attacks or die from heart disease than those who rarely eat them. Several of the largest cohort studies, including the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction, sudden cardiac death, or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Continue reading

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Two days – no exercise – Doctor’s orders

WHAT MADNESS IS THIS??? Sentenced to the sedentary penitentiary? By a medical man?

I am still the guy who wakes up in the morning looking forward to hopping on the bike and cranking up 10+ miles before breakfast. A flashback is in order.

Two weeks ago I had a big medical week. My annual physical and flu shot were due and I was having trouble chewing on one of my wisdom teeth. So, I had a doctor’s appointment and a dentist appointment in the same week. My normally robust good health keeps me out of doctors’ offices most weeks of the year.

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So, I fasted in the morning, saw the doctor, had my blood drawn and left the hospital ravenous for food. So much for the doctor’s visit. My doctor was kind enough email me my blood work results that evening.

Component Results

Component Your Value Standard Range
CHOLESTEROL 198 mg/dL
Guideline: < 170 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.)
TRIGLYCERIDE 47 mg/dL
Guideline: < 100 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 499 mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)
HDL CHOLESTEROL 80 mg/dL
Guideline: > 50 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.)
LDL CHOL (CALC) 109 mg/dL
Guideline: < 100 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 189mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)
Non-HDL Cholesterol 118 mg/dL
Guideline: < 120 mg/dl, Optimal (Not to be construed as a target for drug therapy.) > 219 mg/dl, Highly abnormal (Please review with your medical team.)

Continue reading

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Filed under dental problems, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise duration, wisdom teeth

Some rheumatoid arthritis cells respond to Vitamin D – MNT

I have written numerous times about the arthritis problems in my thumbs. I suffer from osteoarthritis.This is the most common for of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, is also a painful, if less common, affliction. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is recognized as the most crippling or disabling type of arthritis.

After studying immune cells taken from the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis, scientists have found that once the disease sets in, some types of cell lose their sensitivity to vitamin D, according to Medical News Today.

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The team — which comprised researchers from University College London and the University of Birmingham, both in the United Kingdom — reports the new findings in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that arises because the immune system attacks healthy tissue — usually the joints — by mistake, leading to painful inflammation and swelling.

The disease often affects several joints at the same time, such as the knees, hands, and wrists. It inflames the lining of the joint and eventually damages the joint itself. This can lead to long-lasting pain, problems with balance, and deformity.

Estimates suggest that approximately 1 percent of the world’s population has rheumatoid arthritis, including around 1.3 million adults in the United States. It affects women more often than men, raising the question of whether hormonal factors may be involved.
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Filed under osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis pain, rheumatoid arthritis, Vitamin D

Do we have to gain weight as we age?

I just took a WebMD quiz on weight and aging and barely passed. I read and write about this stuff every day and wasn’t sure about a number of answers.

You can take the quiz  by clicking the link in the lead.

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Here are a couple of questions that tripped me up:

Thinner is better as you get older. True of False. I thought it was true. But, no. Here is WebMD’s answer, “You want to be healthy, not frail. For older adults, what matters most is how active you are and whether you can do all your everyday activities. While it’s important to stay at a healthy weight, how much of your weight is muscle instead of fat is also key. Your doctor can tell you if your weight is on track.”

Here is one more example, but I suggest you take the quiz as it has lots of good information.

Gaining weight is a fact of aging. True of False. I thought, incorrectly, True. Here is WebMD’s answer, “You can keep your weight steady as you age. It does get harder, but it’s possible. Those corners you cut when you were younger (huge portions, happy hours, little to no exercise)? You can’t get away with them anymore. But age doesn’t have to equal weight gain.”

As an old guy, I should have got this one right. The fact about cutting corners is something I face every day. There are no corners to cut – and get away with. One of the facts of life of aging is that your margin of error shrinks to virtually nothing. Here is an example. Twenty years ago when I caught a cold, I would be over it in a couple of days. Now, if I catch a cold, it is at least a week affair and probably longer. That’s one of the reasons that I am so scrupulous about me health. There is no margin of error.

I hope you will click the link and take the test. I bet you will learn something.

Tony

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Filed under aging, aging myths, Exercise, exercise benefits, longevity, successful aging