Weekend funnies …

I hope you are looking forward to a wonderful couple of days off. Hopefully, here are a couple of items to get you started.

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Tony

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Harvesting energy from walking

I consider walking to be the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated – for all its good works in our health regimen. You can check out my Page – Why you should walk more to read further on its benefits.

Imagine powering your devices by walking. With technology recently developed by a group of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, that possibility might not be far out of reach.

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The group describes the technology in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing. An energy harvester is attached to the wearer’s knee and can generate 1.6 microwatts of power while the wearer walks without any increase in effort. The energy is enough to power small electronics like health monitoring equipment and GPS devices. Continue reading

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Are Added Fibers Good for Our Health? – Tufts

In a lot of ways fiber reminds me of what Mark Twain said about the weather. “Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.” So, here is an excellent rundown on fiber from the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter.

It is recommended that adults consume between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber a day. The average American currently gets about half that amount. According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, dietary fiber is a “nutrient of public health concern,” meaning this low level of intake could actually be detrimental to our health. So, it’s potentially good news that food manufacturers are adding fiber to processed foods. But is that fiber as good for our health as fiber found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains?

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Health Benefits of Fiber. According to a research review co-authored by Nicola McKeown, PhD, a scientist with Tufts’ Nutritional Epidemiology program and an associate professor at the Friedman School, there is reproducible evidence that dietary fiber found naturally in foods has a role in lowering cholesterol, improving glycemic control, and preventing constipation. And fiber may have more health benefits as well. “Research in this field is continually expanding,” says McKeown. “We’ve only begun to consider things like how the gut microbiota utilize different types of dietary fibers to potentially impact health.” Continue reading

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Seniors Improve Brain Function by Raising Fitness Level – University of Kansas

Science Daily reported that a professor of neurology at KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center, led a six-month trial conducted with healthy adults ages 65 and older who showed no signs of cognitive decline.

The randomized controlled trial attempted to determine the ideal amount of exercise necessary to achieve benefits to the brain.

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Before proceeding, I would like to add that I am now in my tenth year of writing this blog. To continue that long at a healthy pace (+3000 posts) you have to be motivated and get positive feedback.

Reading about this new study on exercise benefiting the brain was extraordinarily positive feedback. I have written about the benefits of exercise and the brain for several years. You can check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more details. Suffice it to say that the KU report was most welcome. Continue reading

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Giving up alcohol may boost mental health – Study

The debate whether moderate drinking is good, bad, or has no effect on health has been ongoing for years. Now, a new study suggests that people — especially women — who give up alcohol can experience better mental health and reach levels of well-being almost on a par with those of lifelong abstainers, according to a report in Medical News Today.

Many people drink socially at, for instance, work functions or family events. Some of us may also relish having a glass of wine or beer with our dinner at the end of a long and tiring day.

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Numerous people fall into the categories of “light” or “moderate” drinkers. But is this habit harmless, or would all of us be better off abstaining from alcohol?

Even among researchers, opinions tend to vary greatly whether drinking any amount of alcohol is safe or healthful.

For instance, earlier this year, a study published in The Lancet argued that moderate drinking can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular events.

Meanwhile, research featured this month in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that older adults who occasionally drink may live longer than nondrinkers. Continue reading

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Good news for arthritis sufferers …

I suffer from severe arthritis at the base of my thumbs. This means that virtually anything I do with my hands – hurts. Buttoning, unbuttoning, turning a key, working a zipper, you name it – pain. In the past 10 years I have written about a number of topical treatments for arthritis pain. Frankly, they are too numerous to mention, but if you are curious, type arthritis into the SEARCH BOX at the right and you can find all of them. For the record, I started suffering from arthritis pain in my hands in my 50’s. That was more than 25 years ago, so I have lived with the pain for a considerable time.

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What is the good news? One of my neighbors who I often encounter when we walk our dogs, told me about Calendula Officinalis tablets. maybe you have heard of them under their more common name – pot marigold. I had not previously heard of either. Continue reading

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Weekend funnies … Italian jokes

Okay, please chill, PC police. I am Italian and I think they are funny and not offensive. I hope you can enjoy the humor in these ahead of the weekend.

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Tony

 

 

 

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Left brain vs right brain …

The human brain fascinates me for lots of reasons. I have taken several courses in it from The Great Courses and recommend them for anyone curious about this amazing organ that lives inside our heads. I have written a number of posts on various aspects of the brain which I recommend your chasing down. Just type in b r a i n into the SEARCH BOX at the right. Also, you can check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits). Last, but not least, of course, there is the specter of dementia in general and Alzheimer’s Disease, in particular. I have lost three family members to these afflictions and, at the age of 79, I am very focused on my mental functions. Which brings us to this wonderful article in Medical News Today on the two hemispheres of the brain – the left and the right.

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The two hemispheres or sides of the brain have slightly different jobs. But can one side be dominant and does this affect personality?

Some people believe that a person is either left-brained or right-brained and that this determines the way they think and behave.

In this article, we explore the truth and fallacy behind this claim. Read on to learn more about the functions and characteristics of the left and right brain. Continue reading

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Study identifies best healthy eating nudges

Actions speak louder than words. Turns out that just telling people they need to eat healthy doesn’t work nearly as well as some simple physical actions. Clearly, with almost 70 per cent of us overweight, just talking about healthy eating isn’t enough.

Behavioral nudges have emerged as the best way to improve healthy eating, according to a new paper by Pierre Chandon, Professor of Marketing at INSEAD, and Romain Cadario, Assistant Professor of Marketing at IÉSEG School of Management.

Ever since Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics, “nudge” has been front and center in the interest of researchers and policy makers. A simple definition of nudge is an intervention that attempts to influence behaviors without using economic incentives and while preserving freedom of choice.

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In a meta-analysis of real-life experiments drawn from food science, nutrition, health economics, marketing and psychology, the authors find that behavioral nudges – facilitating action rather than providing knowledge or inducing feelings – can reduce daily energy intake by up to 209 kcal, the same number of calories as in 21 cubes of sugar.

“Just changing the amount of food on a plate or the location of the food – without necessarily educating people about nutrition content or convincing them that they should eat healthily – is the most effective intervention because you don’t need to rely on changing people’s beliefs or their goals,” said Chandon. “There is tremendous potential to help people to eat better.”

Seven ways restaurants and grocery stores can nudge food choices

Continue reading

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How hard is it to ignore alcohol and fast food? – Study

Fast food is popular because it tastes great and is incredibly convenient. The only problem is its general lack of high nutritive values. So we try to reduce or eliminate our use of fast food to satisfy our appetites to some extent.

Have you ever tried to stay away from fast food, but found hard-to-ignore signals that represent its availability – like neon lights and ads – are everywhere?

If you’re stressed, tired or otherwise straining your brain power, you may find it harder to ignore cues in the environment that signal something rewarding.

That’s what a UNSW Sydney experiment by a group of psychologists – published in Psychological Science – has shown.

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This experiment showed – for the first time – that ignoring these cues became harder as soon as participants had to perform a task while also holding other information in their memory. The image is in the public domain.

“We knew already that participants find it hard to ignore cues that signal a large reward,” says study lead Dr. Poppy Watson at UNSW.

But this experiment showed – for the first time – that ignoring these cues became harder as soon as participants had to perform a task while also holding other information in their memory.

Continue reading

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Looking forward to a better second half …

Here in the first week of July we have just entered the second half of 2019. So far 2019 has been a rough go for me. Back in March I wrote about the physical therapy for my back pains as well as the problems I was having with my teeth. You can find the gory details at Spoiler alert – on being 79 years old.

Then in mid-April, I followed up with the details of my subsequent oral surgery and, of course, forced down time to recover. You can read the details here: Taking physical downtime.

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My dog has been patient with me. When I started riding in the warmer weather, I did not have the energy to bring her along. Clearly, she likes to accompany me.

Later in April, I wrote an update on my recovery from surgery and biking. As I said in the post, at the age of 79, most of my biking friends are decades younger, so I have a hard time understanding how well (or not) my body is recovering. I quoted the MacArthur Foundation book Successful Aging for a partial reference on that.

I did find some interesting info on aging and fighting illness in the MacArthur book. they compare a 30-year-old with his 80-year-old grandfather afflicted with pneumonia. Here is the part that interested me most, the course of the senior’s illness “might be very grave indeed. This is because the average 80-year-old non-smoker has only about two-thirds the lung function of his 30-year-old counterpart. And, his immune system is impaired as well. ” So, what I drew from this is that my recovery from the surgery will be slow, but is probably on track.

In the first week of June I wrote about my latest and greatest affliction – a bronchial virus. You can read the details at – 7 Days makes one weak.

I came down with the fever on May 26 and was unable to ride my bike for the next three weeks. I have to tell you that I can not remember the last three week period in my life that I did not ride my bike. Even when I was married and working, I always got my rides in.

Here, in the first week of July I can state that I am recovering – not fully recovered from the virus of late May. After my three week down time, I began riding in tiny bits, five miles a day, then eight miles. At this point I am able to get in my usual 30 mile rides, but I find myself napping for at least an hour or more later in the day. Managing my recovery is like walking a tightrope. I work on getting exercise, but have to be careful that I do not go too far, and set myself back. To compound the difficulty, July heat has come to Chicago so I have that to contend with, too. It is clearly a – one day at a time deal.

As I wrote in the header to this post, I am looking forward to a better second half. So as to not leave you on a sour note. I am off to Las Vegas with my girl friend in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that.

Tony

 

 

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Weekend funnies …

How about a Friday after a holiday? For those of you who have to go back to work for ONE DAY  before enjoying the weekend … my sympathy. I hope you can enjoy these little items I ran across recently. Have a great weekend!

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Tony

 

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Happy 4th of July!

I hope you are having a Wonderful 4th of July!

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Ton

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How the Body Regulates Heat – Rush

The first week in July seems an appropriate time to consider the subject of the body and how it regulates and reacts to heat. Rush University Medical Center offered the following extensive discussion of heat and the body.

A close look at the complex systems that keep us functioning can inspire awe. Such is the case with the body’s complicated temperature-regulating mechanism.

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This intricate apparatus balances heat production with heat loss, keeping the body at a temperature just right for optimal function. This balancing act is directed automatically and seamlessly by the hypothalamus, a small portion of the brain that serves as the command center for numerous bodily functions, including the coordination of the autonomic nervous system.

Much like a thermostat regulates the temperature inside your home, the hypothalamus regulates your body temperature, responding to internal and external stimuli and making adjustments to keep the body within one or two degrees of 98.6 degrees. Continue reading

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Can cherries upset your stomach?

If you are on the lookout for healthy snacks to munch on instead of potato chips, chocolate or other not-so-nutritious foods, check out cherries.

Recently, a guy I know bought cherries to satisfy that need without consuming a lot of empty calories. He ended up demonstrating that even natural healthy snacks have their limits. You need to use your brain when snacking and don’t overdo it, no matter whether it’s Cheetos or cherries.

Twice in recent weeks, this guy ate about a pound of cherries at one sitting. Eating that quantity of food at one sitting is just not smart any way you look at it, even a good healthy natural food like cherries.

Searching online for information about the problems he was having, he learned that everyone should limit their intake of cherries at one sitting to a cup at most.

As I say so often on these pages, “Eat less; move more; live longer.”

LiveStrong.com notes that, “Cherries are high in quercetin, a flavonoid that offers antioxidant protections against free radicals. A handful may offer you many health benefits, including heart disease and cancer prevention, but eating too many cherries can lead to stomach upset. Large amounts of quercetin may upset your stomach, triggering nausea and vomiting. Stick to a single cup of cherries to determine your threshold for quercetin intake.”

The take-away here is that overeating any food, even a healthy, natural fruit like cherries, can hurt you. Forget the mindless munching and think about portion control. That is one of the keys to getting a handle on your weight. You can read further on this in a post I wrote about eating watermelon, another very healthy food. You CAN have too much of a good thing.

If you are a guy/gal who has a sweet tooth and just can’t resist junking out, please take a moment to read my Love Letter to Hostess Ho Ho’s and Twinkies – NOT. It might give you a clearer perspective on how junk food damages you.

In the right hand column of this page you will find the portion control tag to read any of a number of posts on that topic. Get control of your portions and you will have grasped a key to controlling your weight.

Check out my Page – Snacking – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tony

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New blood test for Alzheimer’s – Study

There is possible good news is the study of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers from Lund University, together with the Roche pharmaceutical company, have used a method to develop a new blood marker capable of detecting whether or not a person has Alzheimer’s disease. If the method is approved for clinical use, the researchers hope eventually to see it used as a diagnostic tool in primary healthcare. This autumn, they will start a trial in primary healthcare to test the technique.

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Currently, a major support in the diagnostics of Alzheimer’s disease is the identification of abnormal accumulation of the substance beta-amyloid, which can be detected either in a spinal fluid sample or through brain imaging using a PET scanner. Continue reading

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