November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

Regular readers know that I and my family have had several members suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. As this is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month I thought I would round up some of my Alzheimer’s posts and list their links for you. But, before you start on them, I need to direct you to my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits.)

 

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These are in reverse chronological order:

Memory loss reversed in early Alzheimer’s – Study

Cholesterol levels linked to Alzheimer’s – MNT

Some possibly good news on Alzheimer’s Disease- TED talk

Blocking a key enzyme may reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss – MIT Study

What about Alzheimer’s in the family? – Harvard

Extra virgin olive oil may prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Weight and Alzheimer’s risk – Tufts

Can gut bacteria affect Alzheimer’s?

Can exercise help people at risk for Alzheimer’s?

Get the jump on Alzheimer’s and dementia – Rush

Can Ayurveda help with Alzheimer’s and dementia?

How to reduce your chances of Alzheimer’s – Harvard

Does forgetting things mean I am coming down with Alzheimer’s?

Those are all from 2017 except the final one which was last year. Feel free to search the blog for more in you want to read further on the subject.

Tony

 

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Owning A Dog Is Good For Your Heart — Study Says What We All Knew

As a dog lover and owner I had to share this one with you along with a picture of my little canine companion who turns 12 next month.

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This is Gabi, who rides on the bike with me.

Tony

Our Better Health

It seems unconditional love from a fluffy, drooling canine is one key to a healthier life — as many people already expected.

A study of more than 3.4-million people revealed that having a dog in the house is linked to living a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports by Uppsala University in Sweden, reviewed a national registry of people aged 40 to 80 for up to 12 years. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don’t live alone — the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers…

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HOW DOES THE BRAIN STORE & PROCESS MEMORIES?

Regular readers know what a big fan I am of the brain and its function in our daily life. As a 77 year old, I am also supremely interested in keeping mine functioning into these, my later, years. Check out my Page Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits.

Tony

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How Does The Brain Store & Process Memories?Every sight, smell, sound, touch, and specific memory is stored in the recesses of your mind—but what parts of your brain store specific types of sensory data? Read on to learn more about where your brain stores these memories and which parts of your brain control specific functions.

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, Healthy brain

Celebrate International Mensday

I am embarrassed to say that I was unaware of today’s significance. And, I’m a man. Granted, it originates in Australia, but I think it is worth celebrating even if it hasn’t had a lot of publicity around here. The fact is that a lot of times we guys end up on the short end of the stick.

This is what the website International Mensday says, “The theme for 2017 is Celebrate Men and Boys. We know that Men’s health is worse than women’s in almost every part of the world. Recent World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that, globally, male life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 69 years; for females, it was 74 years. Women on a worldwide basis live 5 years longer than men. We know that over 95% of work place fatalities are men and that 99% of combat deaths are men.

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“We also know that in almost all the countries of the world the suicide rate is worse for men than women and averaged out, the rate of suicide for men is up to three times that of women. In Russia it is 6 men for every 1 women. Most people know that men suffer unfair discrimination in family law in most countries of the world and in western nations men and boys are dropping behind in school and university.”

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Tips for fixing a healthy Thanksgiving meal

The holidays are fast approaching with Thanksgiving looming large on our calendar. Here are some very useful tips from Rush University Medical Center for fixing that holiday meal without taxing your friends and family.

Prepare a feast fit for … your waistline
Thanksgiving is known for quality time around the table with friends and family — and for its large portions of indulgent dishes.

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It is easy to overeat when faced with so many delicious foods. In fact, research suggests the average Thanksgiving meal contains a whopping 3,000 to 4,500 calories, which is far more than the average man or woman needs in an entire day.

Here are some tips and tricks to lighten up some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes — so you can impress your friends and family with a feast that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.

To reduce sodium:
Use reduced sodium, or unsalted chicken broth or stock when making mashed potatoes or stuffing.
Add flavor with herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme and garlic instead of salt.
Canned vegetables tend to be high in sodium, so read the labels and choose low sodium varieties. Or opt for fresh or frozen veggies instead.
To cut sugar:
Sugar provides texture and tenderness to baked goods such as muffins and cakes. However, baked goods often contain a lot of sugar.

Cutting the sugar in your recipe will save you excess calories without compromising your dessert. Start by reducing the sugar by one quarter. If you’re satisfied with the taste and texture, try cutting the sugar in half. This can save you approximately 200 to 400 calories (for ¼ cup and ½ cup of sugar, respectively) per recipe. Continue reading

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Exercise increases brain size, new research finds

Here is another source of the same facts I have been reporting in this blog for some years now. Your brain gets as much benefit from your cardiovascular exercise as your body.

Aerobic exercise can improve memory function and maintain brain health as we age, a new Australian-led study has found.

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In a first of its kind international collaboration, researchers from NICM and the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester in the UK examined the effects of aerobic exercise on a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critical for memory and other brain functions.

Brain health decreases with age, with the average brain shrinking by approximately five per cent per decade after the age of 40.

Studies in mice and rats have consistently shown that physical exercise increases the size of the hippocampus but until now evidence in humans has been inconsistent. (my emphasis)

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, cardio exercise, cardiovascular diseases, cardiovascular health, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, Healthy brain

Fitness funnies …

They’re baaack. Here are some shots I stumbled upon in my web wanderings last week. I just love those animal ones.

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Yoga is fun and very healthful for you and a friend.

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Tony

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Amish have internal ‘fountain of youth’ – Study

The first genetic mutation that appears to protect against multiple aspects of biological aging in humans has been discovered in an extended family of Old Order Amish living in the vicinity of Berne, Indiana, report Northwestern Medicine scientists.

An experimental “longevity” drug that recreates the effect of the mutation is now being tested in human trials to see if it provides protection against some aging-related illnesses.

Indiana Amish kindred (immediate family and relatives) with the mutation live more than 10 percent longer and have 10 percent longer telomeres (a protective cap at the end of our chromosomes that is a biological marker of aging) compared to Amish kindred members who don’t have the mutation, reports the new Northwestern study. (my emphasis)

Amish with this mutation also have significantly less diabetes and lower fasting insulin levels. A composite measure that reflects vascular age also is lower — indicative of retained flexibility in blood vessels in the carriers of the mutation — than those who don’t have the mutation, the research also found.

The paper was published Nov. 15 in the journal Science Advances.

These Amish individuals have very low levels of PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor,) a protein that comprises part of a “molecular fingerprint” related to aging or senescence of cells. It was previously known that PAI-1 was related to aging in animals but unclear how it affected aging in humans.

“The findings astonished us because of the consistency of the anti-aging benefits across multiple body systems,” said Dr. Douglas Vaughan, the lead author of the paper who has been studying PAI-1 for almost 30 years.

Vaughan, a cardiologist, is the Irving S. Cutter Professor and chairman of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine.

“For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes,” Vaughan said. “That played out in them having a longer lifespan. Not only do they live longer, they live healthier. It’s a desirable form of longevity. It’s their ‘health span.’”

“Longevity” drug developed by Northwestern and Tohoku University

Northwestern has partnered with Tohoku University in Japanin the development and testing of an oral drug, TM5614, that inhibits the action of PAI-1. The drug has already been tested in a phase 1 trial in Japan and is now in phase 2 trials there. Northwestern will apply for FDA approval to start an early phase trial in the U.S., possibly to begin within the next six months.

The proposed Northwestern trial will investigate the effects of the new drug on insulin sensitivity on individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity because of the mutation’s effect on insulin levels in the Amish.

A mutation confers longevity

In the new study, Northwestern scientists looked at individuals who had one mutant copy of the gene, rendering their level of PAI-1 about half the level of kindred with two normal copies. Continue reading

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Latest update on U.S. nutrition, physical activity and obesity

Each month, the office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion releases an infographic with the latest data related to a Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicator (LHI) topic. These infographics show progress toward Healthy People 2020 LHI targets — and show where there’s still work to be done.  

This month’s featured LHI topic is Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Check out the infographic below, then head over to the Healthy People 2020 LHI Infographic Gallery to see infographics for other LHI topic areas.

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Filed under childhood obesity, Exercise, exercise benefits, how much exercise, nutrition, nutrition information, nutritional deficiencies, obesity

Tufts offers smart snacks for pre-exercise

I have written about snacks and snacking numerous times. You can check out my Page Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly if you want more details. Herewith The Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter take on the subject.

Make sure you’re properly fueled for a workout, but avoid mindless snacking.

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If you start exercise low on fuel, you could end up feeling weak and run out of steam. Or, you may simply feel hungry, making it hard to focus on your exercise. However, unnecessary snacking before a workout may make exercise uncomfortable and add calories you don’t need, counteracting the calorie burn of your physical activity.

What you’re already eating for meals and snacks likely covers your exercise energy needs.

“I think there’s a misconception that you need to eat a snack before exercise, but this is generally only necessary if it’s been at least 2 to 3 hours since your last meal,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, an associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School who specializes in physical activity research. “For example, if you eat lunch at 11 a.m. and are going to the gym at 5 p.m., or you exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll need to refuel before exercise.” However, if you ate a late lunch at 2 p.m., and you’re working out at 4:30 p.m., you shouldn’t need a snack first. Continue reading

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The value of cardio exercise for both body and 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.

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.

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

Our ancestors engaged in some serious cardio exercise just to get food. No walking down a supermarket aisle for them.

And now, the New York Times joins in the fray with Gretchen Reynolds’s article Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain.
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Filed under aerobics, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, cardio exercise, cardiovascular health

Heart function linked to brain’s memory center – Study

This is fascinating and seems to bolster my thought that exercising the body benefits the brain a great deal. The concept of use it or lose it is widely known and accepted regarding physical development. It seems it also applies to mental makeup.  As above, so below.

Research by a team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) scientists suggests that older people whose hearts pump less blood have blood flow reductions in the temporal lobe regions of the brain, where Alzheimer’s pathology begins.

The brain, which accounts for only 2 percent of total body weight, typically receives 12 percent of blood flow from the heart — a level maintained by complex, automatic processes, which maintain consistent blood flow to the brain at all times.

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Angela Jefferson, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center, and colleagues investigated whether lower cardiac index (the amount of blood flowing out of the heart adjusted for body size) correlated with lower blood flow to the brain.

The purpose of the study was to better understand whether reductions in brain blood flow might explain clinical observations in prior research that have linked heart function to cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

“We currently know a lot about how to prevent and medically manage many forms of heart disease, but we do not yet know how to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease,” Jefferson said. Continue reading

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Managing arthritis in the hands – MNT

I have mentioned ‘personal posts’ previously. Well, arthritis pains in the hands are something I live with daily. It doesn’t get more personal than this. For the past 15 years. I have had trouble buttoning shirts, jackets, etc. I drop keys and other small objects regularly. Any activity that involves manipulating fingers and thumbs causes pain to me in a greater of lesser degree. I thought this rundown on managing arthritis in the hands by Medical News Today was very thorough. I hope this subject is never more than academic for you.

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This kind of simple activity can be difficult if you have arthritis of the hands.

Many bones in the body, including those of the wrists and hands, are protected by cartilage. Cartilage can wear down over time. As a result, a person can experience a condition known as osteoarthritis.

Another name for this type of arthritis is “wear and tear” arthritis. The most common causes of osteoarthritis include age, repetitive joint movement, trauma, and sex. Genetics can also play a factor in the development of osteoarthritis.

Arthritis in the hands may also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis.

Fast facts on arthritis in hands:

Women are more likely than men to experience osteoarthritis.
There is no cure for any type of arthritis in hands.
Treatment focuses on relieving the pain and managing the underlying condition.
In rare instances, a doctor may recommend surgery to repair a severely damaged finger joint.

What types of arthritis affect the hands?

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect the hands.

While osteoarthritis is due to degenerative changes in cartilage, RA is the result of an autoimmune condition.

RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue that protects the joints. The resulting symptoms can be similar to those of osteoarthritis, including pain, inflammation, and redness.

RA can occur with no risk factors. However, women are more likely to experience the condition than men. Those with a family history of RA, who are obese, or who smoke are also at a greater risk of developing it.

While a person can experience RA at any age, the most common age of onset is between 40 and 60.

A person can also experience post-traumatic arthritis in the hands. This occurs after a person has damaged their hands, such as in a sport-related injury or accident.

Broken or sprained fingers or wrists can also cause post-traumatic arthritis. Injuries can accelerate the breakdown of protective cartilage as well as cause inflammation. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, arthritis, hand arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis pain, rheumatoid arthritis, successful aging

Mushrooms may help to slow aging – MNT

It’s always gratifying to run across information that may indicate an ally in the battle of aging in which we are all engaged. Medical News Today reports on what I would have thought to be an unlikely ally – the mushroom.

A new study published in the journal Food Chemistry suggests that certain mushrooms contain two antioxidants thought to improve healthspan and stave off aging.

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The new research was led by Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of the Pennsylvania State University Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health in State College. Michael D. Kalaras, a postdoctoral assistant in food science, is the first author of the paper.

Researchers were already aware that mushrooms are “the highest source” of an antioxidant called ergothioneine, but little was known about glutathione, another major antioxidant.

Additionally, levels of antioxidants vary across different species of mushroom, so the researchers wanted to know which species had the most of these two chemicals.

The new findings are significant in the context of the so-called free radical theory of aging. As Prof. Beelman explains, “[The theory] has been around for a long time [and it] says when we oxidize our food to produce energy there’s a number of free radicals that are produced that are side products of that action and many of these are quite toxic.” Continue reading

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Some tips for biking in cold weather …

“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 and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?”
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A salute to Veterans on their day

In place of fitness funnies this week, I wanted to take a moment to salute our vets, past and present, who offer their lives in order to protect our freedoms.

Thanks, men and women of our armed services! I stand for the Anthem.

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Tony

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