Heart disease and brain health linked – Harvard

I have written time and again about the link between exercise and brain health. The Harvard Heart Letter has a nice post on how heart disease and brain health are tied together.

“Just like in the rest of your body, advancing years can take a toll on your brain function. Much of this slowing down is predictable and can be chalked up to normal aging. However, when thinking skills become increasingly fuzzy and forgetfulness gets to be a way of life, an early form of dementia known as mild cognitive impairment may be setting in,” so writes Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter.

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“Often, the first reaction is to attribute these changes to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. But blood flow problems may be to blame, as well. “An estimated one-third of all cases of dementia, including those identified as Alzheimer’s, can be attributed to vascular factors,” says Dr. Albert Hofman, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Continue reading

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Filed under blood pressure, coronary heart disease, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease, heart health brain health, stroke

World chess champion on exercise – WSJ

I have written it previously and I will repeat it: I love it when the news meets my bias. This week Jen Murphy wrote in the Wall Street Journal about three time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and his training. Think about it, nothing is less physical and more cerebral than a game of chess, right? Yet, Mr. Carlsen says, “… he believes a healthy diet and physical training are crucial for a chess master to remain at peak, just as they are for other types of athletes. “I get bored very easily, so I don’t do well in the gym,” Mr. Carlsen says. “Luckily for me, I have a real love of sport.”

Isn’t that wonderful?! He considers a healthy diet and physical training to be ‘crucial’ for success in chess.

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World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen became a Grand master at the age of 13, one of the youngest in history.

How does he work out? “When Mr. Carlsen is on the road for a tournament, he depends on his workouts to help him relieve tension and relax. He might run intervals on the treadmill at a hotel gym, adjusting the incline and intensity for 30 to 60 minutes. “Running is a time where I can go through game strategies,” he says.
After he gets his heart rate up, he winds down with a series of stretches, or he will flow through yoga sequences for 20 minutes. “Much of my core work comes from yoga,” he says. “I’m not the type to go to the gym and run through reps and sets of exercise. I need something more fluid and fun.” If he can find a hot yoga studio, he’ll attend a class.”

I love that a chess grand master includes healthy food and good exercise in his training regimen. Keep in mind that he is just practicing what I have been preaching here for some years. Although the rest of us aren’t grand masters and maybe don’t even play chess, the same principles apply. Eat intelligently and exercise regularly to succeed in living a healthy life.

You can check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) for more info on this critical subject.

Tony

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Filed under brain exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, Wall Street Journal

Poor sleep may raise risk for irregular heart rhythms – AHA

Regular readers know that I feel strongly that sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. You can check out my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? for more details.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA):
• Poor sleep – even if you don’t have sleep apnea – may be linked to higher risks of developing an irregular heartbeat.
• In addition, getting less rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep may also be linked to higher atrial fibrillation risks.

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Disruptions in sleep may be raising your risks of an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AF), according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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Meat, high protein diet linked to heart failure in older women – AHA

I feel strongly that the mantra eat less; move more; live longer is worthwhile. It seems that the American Heart Association (AHA) has a particular focus on eating less meats. While not a vegetarian, I have found that nuts and seeds offer an excellent and tasty alternative protein source. (See links at end of post)

    •    Postmenopausal women who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk of heart failure, especially if most of their protein comes from meat.
    •    Researchers combined dietary self-reports with biomarkers to determine actual dietary protein intake as self-reporting alone is often inaccurate.  

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Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016. Continue reading

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New York Times ‘explains’ its Trump coverage

Two days after election day, I wrote a blog post about the shameful performance of CNBC Top Washington Correspondent, John Harwood, in reporting on Donald Trump in the election. You can see it here – For shame, John Harwood.

Now, it seems that the New York Times publisher has issued a kind of backward letter of apology to its readers for its coverage of the campaign. Publisher Sulzberger didn’t go so far as to say the Times slanted the news, he just said it ‘underestimated’ Trump’s support among American voters.

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Actually, Michael Goodwin of the New York Post has written a nice column on it which you can read here – New York Times – We blew it on Trump.

Please read Mr. Goodwin’s entire column, but here is a nice excerpt:

“While insisting his staff had “reported on both candidates fairly,” he also vowed that the paper would “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor.” Continue reading

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What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is one of the critical and least understood aspects of our health. For that reason, I am reblogging this post I wrote five years ago. This is a perfect example of ‘what you don’t know can hurt you.’

Tony

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

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries, according to Nurse Practicioner Deborah Bergman, MS, RN, speaking to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®.

Bergman explained that blood pressure depends on the strength of the heartbeat, thickness and volume of the blood, the elasticity of the artery walls and general health. It is the arterial pressure of the circulation. It is a dynamic process and fluctuates all day.

She said that blood pressure (BP) varies between a maximum (systolic) pressure – working phase. And the minimum (diastolic) pressure – the resting phase. Average blood pressure decreases as the blood moves away from the heart through the arteries. It drops most rapidly around the small arteries and continues to decrease as it moves through the capillaries and back to the heart through the veins.

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5 Ways to keep your memory sharp – Harvard

Regular readers know that I am a senior citizen; will be 77 in January. So, I have a lot of senior friends. We have all experienced ‘senior moments’ when we find our memory becoming slightly elusive. Because my family has had Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia I am particularly sensitive to any brain stuff. So I was impressed with the suggestions that Harvard brought forward regarding enhancing our memory.

The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being. Here are five things you can do every day to keep both your mind and body sharp.

1. Manage your stress. The constant drumbeat of daily stresses such as deadline pressures or petty arguments can certainly distract you and affect your ability to focus and recall. But the bigger problem is an ongoing sense of anxiety — that can lead to memory impairment. If you don’t have a strategy in place for managing your stress, protecting your memory is one reason to get one. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and a “mindful” approach to living can all help.

I have posted a number of times on stress. You can find them by searching s t r e s s in the box at the right. If you want one excellent example check out: Super tools for handling stress.

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Low Vitamin D may raise bladder cancer risk – Study

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer, according to a systematic review of seven studies led at the University of Warwick.

Five out of the seven studies linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

The researchers then looked at the cells that line the bladder, known as transitional epithelial cells, and found that these cells are able to activate and respond to vitamin D, which in turn can stimulate an immune response.

 

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Sources of Vitamin D

This is important because the immune system may have a role in cancer prevention by identifying abnormal cells before they develop into cancer. Lead author of the study Dr. Rosemary Bland said, “More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells. Continue reading

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Why eating olives is a good idea

I like to eat olives and I know a lot of folks who share my preference. So, besides a fascinating taste, what are they good for?

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Here is what the olive industry says:

– Olives eliminate excess cholesterol in the blood.

 – Olives control blood pressure.

 – Olives are a source of dietary fiber as an alternative to fruits and vegetables.

 – Olives are a great source of Vitamin E

 – Olives act as an antioxidant, protecting cells

 – Olives reduce the effects of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, benign and malignant tumours, including less serious varicose veins and cavities

 – Olives help prevent blood clots that could lead to a myocardial infarction or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

 – Olives protect cell membranes against diseases like cancer

 – Olives are a great protection against anemia

 – Olives enhances fertility and reproductive system

 – Olives play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system, especially during oxidative stress and chronic viral diseases

 – And just in case these benefits weren’t enough, they are also a great aphrodisiac.

 – Olives are nutritious and rich in mineral content as sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and iodine

 – Olives provide essential vitamins and amino acids.

 – Olives contain oleic acid, which has beneficial properties to protect the heart.

 – Olives contain polyphenols, a natural chemical that reduce oxidative stress in the brain. So by eating a daily serving of olives helps improve your memory by up to 25%.

 – Just one cup of olives is a great source of iron – 4.4mg.

 – Eating olives can improve the appearance of wrinkles by 20% since they contain oleic acid, which keeps skin soft and healthy.

 – By eating just 10 olives before a meal, you can reduce your appetite by up to 20%. This is because the monounsaturated fatty acids contained in olives slow down the digestion process and stimulate the hormone cholecystokinin, a hormone that sends messages of fullness to the brain.

 – Not only does it do that, but it also helps your body to stimulate the production of adiponectin, a chemical that burns fat for up to five hours after ingestion.

Tony

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A 2 minute psychological pick-me-up

I  confess that I am one of Wonder Woman’s oldest fans, literally, I fell in love with Wondy in the comic books I read growing up in the 1940’s. We are about a year apart in age. So, I need little excuse to run a picture of her.

What I did like about this, though, is that after all we have heard and read about body language, it turns out that altering our body language can also send signals to our own brain – not just others.

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If you find yourself feeling a little macho, and would prefer a male model. Here is Superman showing you the way:

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The subject of body language is a really fascinating one. Here is Amy Cuddy delivering her TED Talk on the subject:

Tony

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Recreational, commuter biking lower cardiovascular disease risk – AHA

As an enthusiastic bicycle rider and supporter of the exercise, I was really pleased to see the results of the American Heart Association studies. Here is a summary:

    •    People who bike regularly, either recreationally or as a way to commute, appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular illness, according to studies conducted in Denmark and Sweden.
    •    Middle-aged and older Danes who took up biking and stuck with it had a 26 percent lower risk of developing coronary artery disease, compared with non-bikers.
    •    In Sweden, those who regularly biked to work were less likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and obesity — key risk factors for cardiovascular illness.

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Here I am riding on Chicago’s Northerly Island in my retirement.

People who bike regularly, either for pleasure or as a way to commute, appear to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, according to two separate studies published simultaneously in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation and Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA/ASA’s Open Access Journal. Continue reading

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For shame, John Harwood …

Regular readers know that I have a background in journalism.

I wanted to share some further details of my career. My degree is in Finance. I started working for Reuters in 1968 shortly after they came to the U.S. and started competing directly with Dow Jones. My stock market reporting ended abruptly when I was transferred to the floor of the bustling Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) a few months later to learn the popular commodities markets.

I set up Reuters coverage there and continued to be the ‘floor reporter’ till a tennis injury to my ankle in 1972  forced me off my feet and into our office in the Chicago Board of Trade Building (CBOT). When my ankle healed I moved downstairs to the trading floor there and learned about the international corn and soybean markets. On the CME I had covered livestock futures including the hottest market at the time – pork bellies (bacon). In 1977 I left the CBOT floor to spend a year in London on the news desk there and to learn the other international commodities including gold, silver, coffee, cocoa and sugar.

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John Harwood: Chief Washington Correspondent for CNBC and a political writer for The New York Times.

One of the highlights in wire service reporting on markets is that you need to be perfectly accurate in your stories because anything you write may affect the market and change prices. In the fast moving and highly volatile commodities markets it is easy to see that mistakes could possibly cost traders or commercial firms millions of dollars. I can’t imagine a better training ground for a journalist. Talk about baptism by fire. You always had to have several sources for any story because there was a chance that someone on the other side of the market was going to complain.

The final aspect of that experience is that Reuters had Dow Jones as competition on the stock market and AP and Commodity News Service on the commodities side. It was fierce competition in which seconds made all the difference on our wires. Our mantra at Reuters as ‘Accuracy first; speed second.’ There was no place for mistakes.

I wanted to go into that detail because I have always been proud to be a journalist. In my
20 years with Reuters and three years of teaching journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago I came to understand that journalism was more than a job or a career. The people I worked with – and against – viewed journalism as about one notch below the priesthood. We were serving a higher master than others working for a living. We reported the news, we wrote the truth. Not many job descriptions can say that.

So, it is with a very sorry heart indeed that I read the nature of New York Times reporter and CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent, John Harwood, not only not grilling Hillary Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, but discussing his upcoming interview with Jeb Bush and asking for tips.

The email from September 21, 2015 had the subject line, “what should I ask Jeb…”

Later that month, on Oct. 28, Harwood would go on to moderate the third Republican primary debate, and delivered a performance so obviously biased that even liberal commentators had to admit he had proven conservative suspicions correct.

In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood bragged about his much-criticized debate performance in which he asked Trump “Let’s be honest, is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”

With my financial background I have watched CNBC for years and have to admit that Harwood always stuck out as ‘leaning to the left.’ I had no idea how far afield he had gone.

Even though I am out of the flow of day to day competitive reporting I still respect what I consider to be my profession. So, seeing this man ‘break his vows’ to the truth as it were and actively try to promote one side makes me sick. It’s easy to call him a whore who sold out his principles for a price, but I think he is worse. He is a traitor to everything that every young (and in my case, old) journalist holds dear. That is reporting the truth. We tell it like it is.

So far, Harwood has not answered any requests for comments on these emails. I think if he had any character, he would resign his position on CNBC following these revelations. But, in view of his actions, I have to doubt it. If the network had any character, however, they would demand it.

I guess if Hillary wins, we know who her press secretary will be.

Tony

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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. Continue reading

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How Cardiovascular Exercise Helps the Brain

In view of Thanksgiving being right around the corner and holiday parties soon after, I thought it propitious to show you this again.

Tony

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

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.

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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80-year old reshaping views of aging in China

In this blog devoted to living a long healthy life with a fully functional brain at the end, I just had to share this news item on “China’s hottest grandpa.”

Here is a link to the article in today’s New York Times.

I never thought I would be offering you a video with Chinese as the spoken language, but there is a sub-titled translation below it and you will have a chance to meet the sparkling Mr. Deshun for yourself.

“Determined to avoid mental and physical stagnation, Mr. Wang has explored new skills and ideas while devoting ample time to daily exercise. Last year, he walked the runway for the first time, his physique causing a national sensation. He takes obvious joy in subverting China’s image of what it means to be old,” Didi Kirsten Tatlow wrote in the Times.

I was not aware that old age in China begins relatively early. “The legal retirement age for women is 50 for workers and 55 for civil servants, and 60 for most men.”

Besides his healthy mental outlook, he carries on his avid interest in swimming managing a half mile a day. (my emphasis)

He says that he is not picky about food. He eats whatever he wants. Clearly, he is making good choices to be in such wonderful condition.

Tony

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High Blood Pressure May Impair Cognitive Function and Pose Risk for Alzheimer’s

My family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia popped this news item up onto my radar screen.

Before considering problems with high blood pressure, let’s understand what it is. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushed against the the wall of the arteries. It depends on the strength of the heartbeat, thickness and volume of the blood, the elasticity of the artery walls and general health. It is the arterial pressure of the circulation, a dynamic process that fluctuates all day.

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Normal BP is 120/80, systolic/diastolic. Prehypertensive is 120-139 over 80-89. Stage one hypertension is 140-159 over 90 – 99. Stage two hypertension reads 160 -179 over 100 – 109.

Some of the causes of high blood pressure include smoking, overweight, lack of physical activity, too much salt, too much alcohol, stress, older age, genetics. Continue reading

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