Category Archives: health

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

This is not an easy question to answer. The National Sleep Foundation offers ranges for various ages, but with the range for adults being two whole hours, from seven to nine hours, it is certainly not definitive.

Time Magazine quoted Daniel Kripke, co-director of research at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, Calif., who compared death rates among more than one million American adults who reported their average nightly amount of sleep. While his results were surprising, they have since been corroborated by similar studies in Europe and East Asia.

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“Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr., they don’t live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. The big surprise is that long sleep seems to start at 8 hr. Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr.” Kripke said.

“Morbidity [or sickness] is also “U-shaped” in the sense that both very short sleep and very long sleep are associated with many illnesses—with depression, with obesity—and therefore with heart disease—and so forth. But the [ideal amount of sleep] for different health measures isn’t all in the same place. Most of the low points are at 7 or 8 hr., but there are some at 6 hr. and even at 9 hr. I think diabetes is lowest in 7-hr. sleepers [for example]. But these measures aren’t as clear as the mortality data.”

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The best explanation I have heard was from Associate Professor Ramadevi Gourineni in Neurology and Director of the Insomnia Program speaking before the Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®. In answer to the question how much sleep do I need, she offered, “The amount that permits us to be wide awake, alert and energetic throughout the day. This amount varies from person to person and may be genetically determined.” She also noted that not only do we need the proper quantity of sleep, but also the proper quality of sleep. Continue reading

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Filed under diabetes, health, healthy living, inflammation, obesity, sleep, sleep deprivation, Weight

What are Healthy Sleep Habits?

I have written repeatedly about The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep. That is one of my links highlighted at the top of this page. If you click on it you will be directed to at least seven blog posts on the importance of sleep.

This is my dog, Gabi, I wish I could sleep as soundly as she does.

This is my dog, Gabi, I wish I could sleep as soundly as she does.

This afternoon I went to one of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® that happened to be about healthy sleep habits. Associate Professor Ramadevi Gourineni in Neurology and Director of the Insomnia Program gave us the following list of Good Sleep/Wake Habits:

Daytime factors included:
*Avoiding excessive caffeine. She said not to consume more than two or three (10-12 ounce) beverages with caffeine and not to take anything with caffeine after 2:00 p.m.
*Avoid excessive napping. A 30 to 45 minute nap prior to 2:00 p.m. is all right.
*Exercise three to five days a week for 30 minutes or longer.
*Do Not Smoke.
*Stay active during the day and get sunlight exposure.

Evening Factors included:
*Avoid unintentionally falling asleep sitting and relaxing in the evening.
*Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
*Finish heavy meals at least three hours before bedtime, particularly if you have problems with regurgitation. *On the other hand, a light bedtime snack is all right. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, caffeine, Exercise, health, healthy living, sleep, smoking

What Are Some Tips For Eating Out?

I recently reblogged a post on eating healthy while traveling. What about the local traveling we all do when we decide to eat out? That can be just a trying an experience when it comes to eating healthy.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has some worthwhile ideas.

5 Best Kansas City Restaurants(1)

They suggest making physical activity an integral part of dining out. If you walk from home or office, you can get your meal and some minutes of physical activity and avoid parking hassles in the bargain. Walking with family or friends gives you time to chat while a stroll after dinner helps digestion.

The all important concept of portion size looms large on The Academy’s radar.

“Becoming sensible about serving sizes is an important way to maintain a healthy weight and it’s good for your wallet too.
• Instead of a large entrée, order an appetizer and a leafy green salad or choose two appetizers for a meal.
• Start with a small serving like a cup of soup, a junior burger or a small order of fries. If you are still hungry, order something else.
• Indulge your inner child: Order a kid’s meal at a fast-food restaurant. Many now offer a choice of low-fat milk and fruits or vegetables instead of fries.
• Savor your steak twice as much. Eat half at the restaurant, then take the other half home to enjoy sliced onto a green salad or as a sandwich on whole-grain bread.
• Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal is served. Put half your food into the container for a second meal. That’s two meals for the price of one.
• Share from start to finish. Order one appetizer for the whole table and then order one dessert with multiple forks. Sometimes, just a bite or two is perfect.
• Share an entrée. You can ask your server to split the meal in the kitchen or divide it up yourselves at the table.”

There is nothing inherently wrong about eating out, you  just need to be extra careful about ordering. The foregoing guidelines can help you.

Tony

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Filed under eating out, health, healthy eating, healthy living, portion control, portion size, Weight

How Many Calories in Boston Market’s New Ribs?

Boston Market has introduced a new meal this week in the form of BBQ Ribs. The firm considers it a natural progression in the form of a ‘comfort food’ that goes with their chicken. Lots of firms offer chicken and ribs. However, Boston Market does not have fryers in their restaurants and I think most chicken and rib joints sell fried chicken along with ribs. Boston Market has specialized in the healthier oven-cooked chicken. I wonder if there may be more of a gap between the ribs and chicken than they envision.

I confess that I have a soft spot for Boston Market, having enjoyed a lot of tasty and pretty healthy meals there. When I took care of my aunt with Alzheimer’s I would pick up a turkey dinner from Boston Market for us to dine on at Thanksgiving.

The firm also boasts about 100 combinations of meals ‘under 500 calories,’ so it is possible to eat there reasonably.

Now comes the BBQ ribs. Not so healthy. Boston Market offers a half rack and a quarter rack.

boston-market-ribs-and-chicken-promo

Here is the nutritional breakdown for the half rack from their website:

The half rack has
Calories 1180
Total Fat 74 Grams
Saturated Fat 29 Grams
Cholesterol 215 mg
Carbohydrates 67 Grams
Sodium 3150 mg
Sugar 58 Grams
Fiber 2 Grams
Protein 65 grams

The calories come to around half of a normal person’s plus 2000 calories per day budget. Not horrible, but you will need to watch your consumption the rest of the day.

That is a lot of fat and saturated fat. More than you need and more than recommended for a day’s consumption.

Sodium is another problem. The daily recommendation is around 2300 mg, but if you are over 50 it drops to 1500, so this is double.

The sugar at 58 grams falls just short of 12 teaspoons full. There are 4.2 grams of sugar per teaspoon.

You will be getting pretty much your entire protein allowance with the 65 grams. Might be a digestion problem, but it is all the protein the average adult needs in one day.

Keep in mind that this calorie breakdown does not include any side orders of mashed potatoes and gravy or corn bread or a beverage, so you will likely be consuming at least half of the normal man’s 2000-2200 calorie per day budget by the time you finish.

Tony

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Filed under bbq ribs, Boston Market, fast food, fat, health, junk food, nutrition, portion control, portion size, salt, sodium, sugar, Weight

Some Exercise Motivation Slogans

I ran across these on the web, they are available as posters, water bottles, etc.

sweat_is_fat_crying_small_workout_poster

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the_only_person_small_gym_poster

I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, calories, cardio exercise, Exercise, fat, health, healthy living, motivation, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training

Squats and Lunges – The Good and the Bad

So, besides pushups and chinups, that I wrote about two days ago, what are some other useful exercises that you can do without needing the equipment of a health club? Squats and lunges are some good ones. When I took the conditioning course last fall, we did a lot of lunges.

WebMD suggests squats and lunges in their series of Effective Exercises.

webmd_photo_of_trainer_doing_squats

webmd_photo_of_squat_technique_with_chair
webmd_photo_of_trainer_doing_lunges

I like these photos with right way and the wrong way. It’s good to keep in mind that you always want the front knee directly above the foot, not extended forward.

Tony

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Filed under Exercise, general well-being, health, healthy living, Weight

How to Boost Your Energy with Breakfast – Harvard

This is from the “always nice to see your ideas come out of other people” department. I am a big believer in starting the day with a big nutritious breakfast. Harvard’s HEALTHbeat publication agrees.

“If you miss the day’s first meal, notes Dr. David S. Ludwig, a nutrition expert at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston, you may start off with an energy deficit and have to tap into your energy reserves.”

Amen, Dr. Ludwig.

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HEALTHbeat says to include healthful protein, slowly digested carbs and some fruit or vegetables.
Here are their four tips for creating an energy boosting breakfast:
1. Choose whole grains. High-fiber, whole-grain cereals and breads can help keep your blood sugar on an even keel and avoid a midmorning energy crash. With the hundreds of types of cereal on the market, bran cereal, bran flakes, and steel-cut oatmeal are typically the healthiest bets. To choose the healthiest breakfast cereal, read the label and look for:

• 5 grams or more of fiber per serving
• less than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving
• less than 5 grams of sugar per serving
• whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list

2. Include protein. Yogurt is a good choice; Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt. Eggs (up to one a day) are okay for healthy people. Although yolks are high in cholesterol, eggs have proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients and don’t appear to increase the risk for developing heart disease.

You might also include foods that have healthful fats such as those in nuts or salmon. Limit processed meats to the occasional treat as these foods are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

3. Eat in, not out. You can enjoy a healthful breakfast out if you stick to oatmeal. But much of the traditional fare will start your day with loads of refined carbohydrates and saturated fat. Like most processed food, the breakfast offerings from fast-food chains tend to be high-sodium, low-fiber disasters.

4. Blend up a breakfast smoothie. Combine fruit, juice, yogurt, wheat germ, tofu, and other ingredients. Toss them in your blender with a bit of ice and you have a refreshing, high energy breakfast.

I concoct a breakfast smoothie every morning in my Vita-Mix machine with strawberries, blueberries, banana and this week I started adding green veggies like kale and spinach.

These four tips are part of a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School – Boosting Your Energy.

Tony

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Filed under breakfast, calories, colon cancer, fast food, health, healthy eating, healthy living, nutrition, Weight

Is Cycling Past 70 Different Than Cycling Past 50?

I ran across this excellent discussion of senior cycling on RoadBikeRider.com. They have graciously permitted me to reprint it. See permission at end.

RBR Editor’s Note: Coach John Hughes copied me on a recent email exchange he had with Marty Hoganson, an RBR reader with whom he had ridden on tours in years gone by. Marty wondered what, if any, differences there are in terms of recovery, motivation, etc., between 50-somethings and 70-somethings. Both agreed to let me share the exchange with RBR readers. It provides a wealth of solid, useful information.

Marty Asked:
These days I live and ride in Yuma, Arizona. I am involved in our local bike club called Foothills Bicycle Club, which is primarily made up of retired folks – late-50s to mid-80s. Many strong riders in their 60s and 70s, for their ages — or any age, for that matter.

Now that I am older also I have taken some interest in your articles on cycling and aging. I was wondering how cycling over 70 relates to your articles on cycling over 50? I’m pretty sure they don’t necessarily relate well. I am arriving in that 70+ age group this year, and have been feeling the difference in recovery time and healing from injuries for quite a few years.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

The plus 70 year old blogger riding with his dog on Northerly Island in Chicago.

What used to take three days to recover from, while riding a tour, may now take longer than the tour lasts. Maybe months longer. I ride year-round and still ride pretty strong, but I’m also experiencing a loss of interest in doing long days. I still like to do long tours, but with shorter days. I’m wondering if the lack of desire or drive might be a major contributing factor in the loss of performance, or if the loss of performance leads to the lack of desire to train harder? Also, if the shorter days might lead to the longer recovery times? Continue reading

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Filed under aging, biking, blood pressure, cardio exercise, Exercise, general well-being, health, healthy living, heart, living longer, men's health, muscles, seniors, stretching, Weight

The Other Side of Alzheimer’s

Regular readers know I have a strong interest in dementia as I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s Disease and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. A lot of my healthy aging activities are aimed at preventing that from happening to me. So I was struck by the story of Charles Schoenfeld. He didn’t get Alzheimer’s, but he took care of his mother who did. I thought it would be worthwhile for readers who might find themselves someday in the position of caregiver to hear what Charles has to say.

As you can see from the previous post, Charles spoke at Aspirus Senior Center on his book A Funny Thing Happened on my way to the Dementia Ward.

alz book
In his own words, “After retiring from a 27 year job as a truck driver, I went to work at North Central Health Care (NCHC), providing care to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue reading

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, appreciation, brain, dementia, happiness, health, medicine

What About Fish Oil and Omega 3s?

I eat healthy and read lots of articles on healthy eating. I also take supplements to ‘fill the blanks’ on any nutrients I might be missing. So when WebMD offered a quiz on Fish Oil and Omega 3s, I considered it right up my alley. I actually take a Krill Oil supplement to augment my Omega 3s.

getty_rf_photo_of_fish_oil_capsule
You can take WebMD’s quiz here. Despite my general reading and actions, I scored only four out of 10 correct.

I wish you luck. Here is the first question: Taking fish oil supplements is as good for you as eating fish. True or False?

Spoiler alert! The answer is “False. Fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and fish oil capsules all have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

“But adding fish to your diet carries healthy bonuses that you won’t get from a supplement: calcium and vitamins B2 and D. It’s also an excellent source of protein.

“So try to eat fish more often. Have it two times a week instead of meat.

“If you have heart problems, though, you may need to boost your omega-3s with a supplement. Talk to your doctor.”

I wanted to share this first answer with you because it demonstrates a wider point, namely, it is usually better to get your nutrients from whole foods rather than pills. Maybe that’s why the pills are called ‘supplements’ because they are meant to supplement our needs not fulfill them.

I hope you did better than I did on the test. If not, at least you, like me, got a mini education in fish oil and omega 3 facts. It’s all good.

Tony

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Filed under fish, fish oil, health, healthy eating, healthy living, omega 3s, supplements, Weight, whole foods

Baby Boomers Aging Badly

I always thought that boomers were busy running triathlons and skiing down the slopes these days. They are reported to have the longest life expectancy of any previous generation and exploit the latest medical technology, so why wouldn’t they be? I am talking about that 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

JAMA researchers found otherwise.

Alice Park writing in Time.com reports that boomers have “higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than members of the previous generation.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

“The revelation comes from data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a national snapshot of health measures and behaviors conducted by the U.S. government. Dr. Dana King, a professor in family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine and his colleagues compared baby boomers aged 46 years to 64 years between 2007 and 2010 to similar aged Americans in 1988 to 1994. Overall, only 13% of baby boomers rated their health as ‘excellent’ while nearly three times as many, 32%, of those in the previous generation considered themselves in excellent health.” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, baby boomers, blood pressure, body fat, calories, cancer, cardiovascular risk, childhood obesity, diabetes, Exercise, fast food, health, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, junk food, life challenges, living longer, Weight

Dr. Oz Gives Dietary Tips

I am a big fan of Drs. Oz and Roizon, the authors of the YOU books, YOU on a Diet, YOU Staying Young, etc. I have read them and recommend them. I saw an ad that described them as “Serious science presented to you in a highly digestible way.” I think that is exactly right.

YOU on a Diet was the first Dr. Oz Book I ever read

YOU on a Diet was the first Dr. Oz Book I ever read

On the premise that Americans find filling out their tax forms easier than following dietary info, Dr. Oz offered several simple guidelines for losing weight and reducing belly fat.

1. Don’t eat foods with added sugars or added syrups. When possible, avoid artificial sweeteners, too. They lie to your appetite control system and can lead to weight gain.
2. Choose 100% whole grains. Your guts, immune system, and heart will thank you.
3. Eat slowly so you can tell when you’re full. Then stop.
4. Eat often (4 to 6 times a day) to prevent hunger. Hunger leads to overeating, which is bad for the heart and triggers weight gain.
5. Get nine servings of fruits and veggies a day. Think of it as nine fistfuls of goodness.
6. Opt for lean protein. Good sources include chicken (no skin), fish, beans, and whole grains. Spare your heart and brain the damage that too much saturated fat causes.
7. Get a blood test to check your levels of vitamin D and B12. Take supplements if you’re deficient.

I think these are a good supplement to my How to Lose Weight – And Keep it Off page.

Tony

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Filed under Dr. Oz, fresh fruit, fruits, health, healthy eating, healthy living, Snacking, Weight

Natural Relief for Pain and Stress – WebMD

Chronic pain is complex. Research over the past 25 years has shown that pain is influenced by emotional and social factors. These need to be addressed along with the physical causes of pain. Chronic stress is one factor that contributes to chronic pain. The good news is that you can get natural pain relief by making relaxation exercises a part of your pain-management plan, according to WebMD.

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Too often folks combat stress and pain by eating. That is a bad coping strategy. Herewith five good coping strategies from WebMD.

“Relaxation exercises calm your mind, reduce stress hormones in your blood, relax your muscles, and elevate your sense of well-being. Using them regularly can lead to long-term changes in your body to counteract the harmful effects of stress.
Don’t get stressed trying to pick the “right” relaxation technique for natural pain relief. Choose whatever relaxes you: music, prayer, gardening, going for a walk, talking with a friend on the phone. Here are some other techniques you might try: Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, chronic pain, general well-being, happiness, health, healthy living, meditation, obesity, relaxation, Uncategorized, yoga

Chicken Avocado Sandwich – Mr. Lazy Cook

Having recently written about how good it is to eat avocados, it seems only right to give you an example. As a male senior citizen I was impressed at the food value of avocados, especially in terms of prostate health.  I plan to integrate them into my regular diet.

Herewith the first attempt. I have mentioned previously that I buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco often and that I don’t particularly like the white meat. Nonetheless, the chicken is comprised of a lot of white meat and I have to use it somehow. Up until now, I have been making a chicken rice soup with it that moistens up the dry white meat very nicely.

Now I am making a Chicken Avocado on Rye sammy that I like very much.

Here is the rye bread liberally covered with the avocado slices

Here is the rye bread liberally covered with the avocado slices

I take a couple of slices of rye bread and toast them up. For some reason rye bread adds a nice flavor dimension to sandwiches for me. Cut up about a quarter to a third of an avocado into thin slices and spread them on the bread. Slice up some chicken, mostly breast meat.

Here is one of the toast slices with the chunks of chicken on top

Here is one of the toast slices with the chunks of chicken on top

I have included two photos. The first shows how thick I spread on the avocado. The second is the chicken piled on top. I eat these open face because it seems easier to handle.

Here is the nutritional breakdown:

Calories      386
Fat               13.1 grams
Saturated fat 2.2 grams
Cholesterol  76.1 grams
Sodium      670 mg
Carbohydrates  34.9 grams
Fiber         3.4 grams
Protein    29.9 grams

While simple to create, I consider this to be a very satisfying sandwich. Not a bad total calories and you get some worthwhile nutrition out of it. Try it out and let me know what you think. Clearly, the fat content of the avocado is not onerous. Don’t forget this is 13.1 grams of good fat that raises your HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers your LDL (bad cholesterol). If this has piqued your appetite for more info on good fats, check out Why should I try coconut oil? It might open your mind as well as your arteries.

Tony

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Filed under avocados, health, healthy eating, prostate health, Weight

Senior Sleep Habits Damage Memory Abilities – Berkeley

I have posted numerous times on the value of a good night’s sleep in our daily lives. Click on How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep to see seven of them. Now comes the University of California at Berkeley with a report that helps to explain the connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older. The discovery may open the door to boosting the quality of sleep in seniors to improve their memory.

Man Sleeping In
“UC Berkeley neuroscientists have found that the slow brain waves generated during the deep, restorative sleep we typically experience in youth play a key role in transporting memories from the hippocampus – which provides short-term storage for memories – to the prefrontal cortex’s longer term “hard drive.”

“However, in older adults, memories may be getting stuck in the hippocampus due to the poor quality of deep ‘slow wave’ sleep, and are then overwritten by new memories, the findings suggest.

““What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older – and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue,” said sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study to be published this Sunday, Jan. 27, in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

“The findings shed new light on some of the forgetfulness common to the elderly that includes difficulty remembering people’s names. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, brain, Exercise, health, healthy living, relaxation, seniors, sleep

Sounds good to me.

Aspirus Healthy Aging Service Line

Getting older can mean changes in nutritional needs.

It can also be a time when it is more difficult to eat the right balance of healthy foods. According to the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) this can be due to your body shape changing, you may be less physically active, or you may have less interest in food than before. These changes can result from illnesses or accidents, genetic patterns, or social, psychological, and economic factors. All this may have happened so gradually, you may not have even noticed over time.

With colder Wisconsin weather upon us, I thought I would share a healthy, comfort food recipe — Spoonable BLT Soup Recipe. This easy, 2-serving soup recipe is from Hungry Girl. To make it work, spinach is used for lettuce.

Ingredients:
2 slices center-cut bacon or turkey bacon
1 slice light bread
1 clove garlic, halved widthwise
1 cup…

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Filed under aging, cold weather, health, healthy eating, healthy living, Uncategorized, Weight