More Americans struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep – Study

Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night is a struggle for most people, but even those who do may not have the best sleep.

New research from Iowa State University finds more Americans have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. The changes were independent of sleep duration, and difficulties were most prevalent in people with healthy sleep length, the findings show. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health, is one of the first to look at how multiple dimensions of sleep health change over time.

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Weekend funnies …

If you are in one of those sections of the country that just got hit with the arctic air, I hope you have a pleasant and warmer weekend. And, maybe a giggle or two …

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Tony

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Why you should add legumes to your diet – Tufts

Eat more plant foods…increase dietary fiber…choose natural foods over processed…get your nutrients from whole foods, not supplements. For an easy way to follow all of this sound dietary advice at the same time, simply up your intake of foods from the legume family. Legumes, which include beans, lentils, split peas, green peas, and peanuts, are thought to be one of the first cultivated crops and have been consumed by people around the world for over 10,000 year, according to Tufts Health & Nutrition Update.

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Unfortunately, legumes are no longer a staple food in most American diets. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults consume one to three cups of legumes per week (depending on calorie requirements), but average intake is less than one cup weekly.

Try these tips for adding more satisfying, health-promoting legumes to your diet: Continue reading

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Study finds negative effects from popular herb

The herb kratom is increasingly being used to manage pain and treat opioid addiction, but it’s not safe to use as an herbal supplement, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

The drug is available in smoke shops and online. Using low doses, it is a stimulant. At high doses, it has an opioid-like effect.

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William Eggleston, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Binghamton University, had been seeing more and more patients presenting with toxicity or withdrawal from kratom use. Kratom is an herbal supplement derived from a plant that grows throughout southeast Asia. It is well-reported that the active chemicals in the plant act on opioid receptors in the body. Patients report using the supplement to treat/prevent withdrawal, treat opioid use disorder, or treat pain. Continue reading

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Some tips for biking (or any exercise) in cold weather …

“The hawk is back.” That’s what we Chicagoans say when temperatures turn cold here. I woke up to 20F degrees the other morning. The second week in 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 here 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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Thinking about shoveling snow …

It is for many of us the onset of snow shoveling season. If you are a reader on the East Coast, where the El Nino blizzard hit a while back, please be aware that in terms of your body shoveling snow is not a totally innocent activity.

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.

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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Vaping not worth potential heart risk …

I feel very strongly about the dangers of smoking and have written about them repeatedly. It seems that some folks have switched over to vaping as a less unhealthy alternative. The more we learn about it, the less that seems to be true. Don’t smoke. Here is my Page on smoking – How many ways does smoking harm you?

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Science hasn’t yet caught up with electronic cigarettes, leaving health care providers and users with many unknowns. But a new review of the research so far finds growing evidence that vaping can harm the heart and blood vessels.

“Many people think these products are safe, but there is more and more reason to worry about their effects on heart health,” said Loren Wold, senior author of the study, published today (Nov. 7, 2019) in the journal Cardiovascular Research. Continue reading

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The benefits of interval walking …


In Japan, health-conscious folks have been known to carry around pedometers to track the number of steps they walk everyday. The target number: 10,000 steps, as a foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

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Conscientious walkers can now update their device from a pedometer to a smartphone and forget about ten thousand steps with the latest study from Dr. Shizue Masuki of Shinshu University who found an effective way to increase overall fitness and decrease lifestyle-related disease (LSD) through Interval Walking Training (IWT). It’s not how much you walk, but how intensely you do so for a minimum amount of time to get positive results. This finding may be welcome news for those who want to save time and get the most out of their workout.

Interval Walking Training is the method of walking at 70% of the walker’s maximum capacity for 3 minutes, then at 40% of their capacity for the next 3 minutes. This is continued for 5 or more sets. Dr. Masuki studied a group of 679 participants with a medium age of 65 over the course of 5 months. Every two weeks data was collected from participants at a local community office and via the internet through the data measuring device (triaxial accelerometer). The triaxial accelerometer is a device that beeped to let the walker know when they were at least 70% of their peak aerobic capacity (VO2peak), and at 3 minutes to switch. It recorded their walking data to the central server at the administrative center for automatic analysis.

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Weekend funnies …

Herewith the latest series of little time-wasters that just might tickle your funny bone. Have a great weekend!

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Tony

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One avocado a day helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol – Study

As I have written numerous times here, I advocate the avocado. Just type in a v o c a d o in the SEARCH  box at the right to read further on them.

New research from Penn State suggests that eating one avocado a day may help keep “bad cholesterol” at bay.

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According to the researchers, bad cholesterol can refer to both oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and small, dense LDL particles.

In a randomized, controlled feeding study, the researchers found that eating one avocado a day was associated with lower levels of LDL (specifically small, dense LDL particles) and oxidized LDL in adults with overweight or obesity. Continue reading

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Do dog owners live longer? – AHA

As a dog owner, I absolutely have a bias on this subject. Also, I want to credit Learning from Dogs, Paul Handover’s fine blog for first publishing this as a part of one of his posts.

Dog owners have better results after a major health event.

The studies found that, overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.

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This is my dog, Gabi, sitting in her basket on one of our rides.

As dog lovers have long suspected, owning a canine companion can be good for you. In fact, two recent studies and analyses published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a scientific journal of the American Heart Association, suggest your four-legged friend may help you do better after a heart attack or stroke and may help you live a longer, healthier life. And that’s great news for dog parents!

Some exciting stats for dog owners: Continue reading

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Dealing with processed foods – Tufts

Practically all foods undergo some form of processing before they are ready to eat—from simple processes like cutting and cooking to more complex processes like homogenizing, pasteurizing, fermenting, fortifying, refining, hydrolyzing, and extruding. Processing makes raw foods more palatable, minimizes spoilage, changes texture and flavor, modifies nutrient content, and creates convenience.

The Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter says that some processing, like freezing, pasteurization, vacuum-packing, and (non-alcoholic) fermentation have beneficial effects on health: preserving nutrients, increasing digestibility and availability of some nutrients, or preventing food-borne illness. But in other cases, processing has some negative health effects: partial hydrogenation of fat, for example, creates trans fats that have been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease; refining of grains reduces nutrient content and creates rapidly digested concentrated starch which increases risk for weight gain, diabetes, and other negative health effects; and addition of excess salt and sugar is tied to a whole host of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Having a clear understanding of these health impacts and what makes a food “processed” is crucial to good dietary decision making.

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Halloween Treats – Mayo Clinic

This is a ‘better late than never’ post. I just found this infographic and I wanted to share it with you.

You can still use the information even though it has been several days since you went trick or treating.

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Number of people with dementia will double in twenty years

Regular readers are aware of my serious interest in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease because I have lost several family members to a form of dementia. That is one of the reasons for my focus in this blog. There is no silver bullet to avoid Alzheimer’s yet, but exercise seems to work for keeping dementia at bay. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) to learn more.

A new report projects the number of people living with dementia in the US will double to 13 million by 2040. The report estimates that the number of women diagnosed with dementia will rise to 8.5 million, and the number of men with dementia will reach 4.5 million. Source: Milken Institute

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Women caregivers are more likely to be impacted financially and leave their jobs or miss work to care for a family member. The image is in the public domain.

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias will double to nearly 13 million over the next 20 years, according to the new Milken Institute report “Reducing the Cost and Risk of Dementia: Recommendations to Improve Brain Health and Decrease Disparities.”

Milken Institute research estimates that by 2020, roughly 4.7 million women in the US will have dementia, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all people living with the condition.

The number of both women and men living with dementia is projected to nearly double by 2040, with the number of women projected to rise to 8.5 million, and the number of men expected to reach 4.5 million (up from 2.6 million in 2020), according to the report, which was released at the 2019 Milken Institute Future of Health Summit in Washington, D.C.

Over the next 20 years, the economic burden of dementia will exceed $2 trillion, with women shouldering more than 80 percent of the cumulative costs.

“Longer lifespans are perhaps one of the greatest success stories of our modern public health system,” explains Nora Super, lead author of the report and senior director of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging. “But along with this success comes one of our greatest challenges. Our risk of developing dementia doubles every five years after we turn 65; by age 85, nearly one in three of us will have the disease.”

“With no cure in sight, we must double down on efforts to reduce the cost and risk of dementia,” she added. “Emerging evidence shows that despite family history and personal genetics, lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and better sleep can improve health at all ages.”

In collaboration with partners such as UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, AARP and Bank of America, Super and her co-authors, Rajiv Ahuja and Kevin Proff, have developed detailed recommendations and goals for policymakers, businesses, and communities to improve brain health, reduce disparities, and ultimately change the trajectory of this devastating disease.

1) Promote strategies to maintain and improve brain health for all ages, genders, and across diverse populations
2) Increase access to cognitive testing and early diagnosis

3) Increase opportunities for diverse participation in research and prioritize funding to address health disparities

4) Build a dementia-capable workforce across the care continuum

5) Establish services and policies that promote supportive communities and workplaces for people with dementia and their caregivers

“As this important new report shows, dementia is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time,” said Sarah Lenz Lock, SVP, Policy & Brain Health at AARP. “It also demonstrates that we have the power to create change, whether by helping consumers maintain and improve their brain health, advancing research on the causes and treatment of dementia, or supporting caregivers who bear so much of the burden of this disease. We at AARP look forward to working with the Milken Institute and other key partners to achieve these goals.”

“Brain health broadens the fight against Alzheimer’s to include everyone and is the key to defeating stigma, increasing early detection, speeding up research — and ending this disease,” said Jill Lesser, a founding board member of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “This new look by the Milken Institute offers important recommendations and actions to help move us to an optimal system of brain health care in this country.”

Among the breakthrough findings, new data have “unveiled key discoveries about the differences between men’s and women’s brains, and how they age. Moreover, women typically take on greater caregiver responsibilities than men. Women caregivers are more likely to be impacted financially and leave their jobs or miss work to care for a family member. And research demonstrates that spousal caregivers may be at a higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than non-caregivers.”

“With this research, the Milken Institute has taken an important step to better understand the impacts of dementia on diverse populations,” said Lorna Sabbia, Head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America. “This study, together with our own research on life stages, women, health and wellness, plays a critically important role in our efforts to educate and provide guidance to individuals and families throughout their financial lives.”

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Daylight Saving Time “fall back” doesn’t equal sleep gain – Harvard

Don’t forget to set your clock back tonight before you go to sleep.

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2:00 am this Sunday. In theory, “falling back” means an extra hour of sleep this weekend.

Winston Churchill once described Daylight Saving Time like this: “An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn… We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.”

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That’s an overly optimistic view. In reality, many people don’t, or can’t, take advantage of this weekend’s extra hour of sleep. And the resulting shift in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can disrupt sleep for several days, according to Anthony Komaroff,M.D., Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter.

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one.

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AI Examines how music makes us feel

Artificial intelligence helps shed light on how people’s brains, bodies, and emotions react to listening to music. Music influences parts of the auditory cortex, including the Heschl’s gyrus and superior temporal gyrus, specifically responding to pulse clarity. Changes in dynamics, rhythm, timbre, and the introduction of new instruments cause an uptick in the response. The study also identified the best song types for the perfect workout, sleep, and study.

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Your heart beats faster, palms sweat and part of your brain called the Heschl’s gyrus lights up like a Christmas tree. Chances are, you’ve never thought about what happens to your brain and body when you listen to music in such a detailed way.

But it’s a question that has puzzled scientists for decades: Why does something as abstract as music provoke such a consistent response? In a new study, a team of USC researchers, with the help of artificial intelligence, investigated how music affects listeners’ brains, bodies and emotions.

The research team looked at heart rate, galvanic skin response (or sweat gland activity), brain activity and subjective feelings of happiness and sadness in a group of volunteers as they listened to three pieces of unfamiliar music. Continue reading

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