Cool, clear water … Tufts

When you want a change from plain water, having the facts about the variety of bottled offerings can help you make smart choices.

Hydration is essential for health, especially with outdoor temperatures high. Since water is necessary to deliver nutrients and oxygen to cells, aid digestion, control blood pressure, and regulate body temperature, getting enough fluids every day is essential to helping the body function properly.

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Hydrate! While all kinds of beverages and many foods provide us with fluids, water is the best drink to keep us hydrated. There is no recommended daily intake level for water, as needs vary with many factors, including ambient temperature, activity level, and types of foods in the diet. Be aware that older adults are at an increased risk for dehydration because they may not sense the need for fluids in response to their bodies’ hydration state as well as they did when they were younger.

The commonly stated goal of drinking eight
(eight-ounce) cups of water a day has no firm scientific basis, but it is generally considered a reasonable goal. One way to tell if you’re getting enough fluid is to pay attention to your urine: dark urine indicates inadequate hydration.

Water Choices: Bottled waters are now the number one beverage in the U.S. These products come at a cost—both financial and environmental—so knowing what you’re getting and weighing your options carefully is important.

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Year of committed exercise reversed heart stiffness – AHA

A year of exercise training helped to preserve or increase the youthful elasticity of the heart muscle among people showing early signs of heart failure, a small study shows.

The new research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, bolsters the idea that “exercise is medicine,” an important shift in approach, the researchers wrote.

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The study focused on a condition called heart failure with preserved ejection fraction, which affects about half of the 6 million people in the United States with heart failure. Characterized by increasing stiffness of the heart muscle and high pressures inside the heart during exercise, the condition is largely untreatable once established and causes fatigue, excess fluid in the lungs and legs, and shortness of breath.

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Study finds body mass index for children greatest in Midwest, least in West

A study examining the body mass index (BMI) of over 14,000 children from birth to age 15 shows those in the Midwest have the highest BMI levels while kids in the West have the lowest, suggesting regional influences may play a role in the development of childhood obesity.

The study, published in the journal Obesity, also showed a higher birth weight and lower levels of formal education among mothers was associated with higher BMI in children. Black and Hispanic children had a higher BMI than non-Hispanic white children in some, but not all, parts of the country.

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“We know that home and school environments are important drivers of children’s nutritional status,” said the study’s lead author Traci Bekelman, PhD, MPH, a research assistant professor in the Lifecourse Epidemiology of Adiposity and Diabetes (LEAD) Center at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz. “But we don’t know as much about regional influences.”

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Weekend Funnies …

I don’t know about you, but I am shocked that we are already in October.

Have a great weekend!

Tony

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COVID-19 Nasal Vaccine Candidate Effective at Preventing Disease Transmission

Breathe in, breathe out. That’s how easy it is for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to enter your nose. And though remarkable progress has been made in developing intramuscular vaccines against SARS-CoV- 2, such as the readily available Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, nothing yet – like a nasal vaccine – has been approved to provide mucosal immunity in the nose, the first barrier against the virus before it travels down to the lungs.

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But now, we’re one step closer.

Navin Varadarajan, University of Houston M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his colleagues, are reporting in iScience the development of an intranasal subunit vaccine that provides durable local immunity against inhaled pathogens.

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Fruit, vegetables and exercise can make you happier

New research led by the University of Kent and University of Reading has found that fruit and vegetable consumption as well as exercise can increase levels of happiness.

While the link between lifestyle and well being has been previously documented and often used in public health campaigns to encourage healthier diets and exercise, new findings published by the Journal of Happiness Studies show that there is also a positive causation from lifestyle to life satisfaction.

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This research is the first of its kind to unravel the causation of how happiness, the consumption of fruit and vegetables and exercising are related, rather than generalizing a correlation. The researchers, Dr Adelina Gschwandtner (Kent’s School of Economics), Dr Sarah Jewell and Professor Uma Kambhampati (both from the University of Reading’s School of Economics), used an instrumental variable approach to filter out any effect from happiness to lifestyle. It showed that it is rather the consumption of fruit and vegetables and exercising that makes people happy and not the other way round.

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Best balance exercises for seniors – WebMD

The goal of balance exercises is to improve stability and coordination throughout your body. Balance helps you stay upright as you do activities like walking, biking, climbing stairs, or dancing. It’s important to do exercises that improve your balance, especially as you get older.

Having good balance helps prevent injuries. Older individuals are especially at risk for accidents involving slips and falls, so it’s necessary to keep your balance well trained as you get older. 

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Research has shown the significant role that balance exercises play in an older person’s quality of life. For instance, a study from 2016 found that older adults who began a regular balance exercise program improved their ability to move unassisted.

The following exercises are meant to help you balance better. Take your time as you start them, and be sure you have something nearby to grab onto in case you lose your balance while doing the exercise. Remember to stop if you feel pain. If the pain lasts for days or weeks, talk to your doctor.

Exercises to Help Seniors Balance Better

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Maximizing Produce, Minimizing Waste -Tufts

Nobody intends to overbuy fresh produce, but we’re all familiar with the mystery bag of green mush at the bottom of the crisper drawer. Buying too much food, serving too much at meals, and improper storage are ways Americans waste food at home, to the tune of $2,200 per year, according to researchers at Tufts University.

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Fresh is Not Always Best:
 Buying frozen fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to avoid produce waste while still getting nutritional quality that is at least as good as fresh. It is also a money saver when foods are not in season. Frozen berries, for example, can be used year-round in favorites like smoothies, parfaits, and oatmeal. Frozen is also ideal for whatever go-to vegetables you like to always have on hand. Choices like broccoli and green beans can be stand-alone sides or ingredients in soups and casseroles. It doesn’t hurt that most frozen produce is conveniently pre-cut. Some canned vegetables, like tomatoes, corn, and mushrooms, are also smart choices for stocking the pantry. They are nutritious (opt for the no-salt versions), have a long shelf-life, and are a time-saver.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s?

Memory problems are often one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may include problems with:

  • Word-finding, or having more trouble coming up with words than other people the same age.
  • Vision and spatial issues, like awareness of the space around them.
  • Impaired reasoning or judgment, which can impact decisions.

Other symptoms may be changes in the person’s behavior, including:

  • Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks.
  • Repeating questions.
  • Trouble handling money and paying bills.
  • Wandering and getting lost.
  • Losing things or misplacing them in odd places.
  • Mood and personality changes.
  • Increased anxiety and/or aggression.

How Is Alzheimer’s Diagnosed and Treated?

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What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

As a senior citizen one of my most serious concerns is my mental functioning. My mother and her sister were afflicted with forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Also, my father’s father suffered cognitive problems in the 1940’s. Finally, my father’s sister and her daughter, my cousin had forms of dementia. It runs in my family and judging by the number of cases reported, there is a chance it runs in yours, too.

Here is what Alzheimers.gov has to say on the subject:

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. People with Alzheimer’s also experience changes in behavior and personality.

More than 6 million Americans, many of them age 65 and older, are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease. That’s more individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease than the population of a large American city. Many more people experience Alzheimer’s in their lives as family members and friends of those with the disease.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease — changes in thinking, remembering, reasoning, and behavior — are known as dementia. That’s why Alzheimer’s is sometimes referred to as “dementia.” Other diseases and conditions can also cause dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common cause of dementia in older adults.

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It’s the result of complex changes in the brain that start years before symptoms appear and lead to the loss of brain cells and their connections.

What Causes Alzheimer’s?

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet fully understood, but probably include a combination of:

  • Age-related changes in the brain, like shrinking, inflammation, blood vessel damage, and breakdown of energy within cells, which may harm neurons and affect other brain cells.
  • Changes or differences in genes, which may be passed down by a family member. Both types of Alzheimer’s — the very rare early-onset type occurring between age 30 and mid-60s, and the most common late-onset type occurring after a person’s mid-60s — can be related to a person’s genes in some way. Many people with Down syndrome, a genetic condition, will develop Alzheimer’s as they age and may begin to show symptoms in their 40s.
  • Health, environmental, and lifestyle factors that may play a role, such as exposure to pollutants, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

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Weekend funnies …

Tony

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Fat Matters More Than Muscle for Heart Health, Research Finds

New research has found that changes in body fat impact early markers of heart health more than changes in body muscle, suggesting there are greater benefits to be expected from losing fat than from gaining muscle.

The observational study, led by researchers from the University of Bristol, was published in PLoS Medicine.

More than 3,200 young people in Bristol’s Children of the 90s birth cohort study were measured repeatedly for levels of body fat and lean mass using a body scanning device. These scans were performed four times across participants’ lives, when they were children, adolescents, and young adults (at ages 10, 13, 18, and 25 years). Handgrip strength was also tested when they were aged 12 and 25 years.

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When the participants were 25 years old, blood samples were collected and a technique called “metabolomics” was used to measure over 200 detailed markers of metabolism including different types of harmful cholesterol, glucose, and inflammation, which together indicate one’s susceptibility to developing heart disease and other health conditions.

Dr. Joshua Bell, senior research associate in epidemiology and lead author of the report, said: “We knew that fat gain is harmful for health, but we didn’t know whether gaining muscle could really improve health and help prevent heart disease. We wanted to put those benefits in context.”

The findings showed that gaining fat mass was strongly and consistently related to poorer metabolic health in young adulthood, as indicated, for example, by higher levels of harmful cholesterol. These effects were much larger (often about 5-times larger) than any beneficial effect of gaining muscle. Where there were benefits of gaining muscle, these were specific to gains that had occurred in adolescence – suggesting that this early stage of life is a key window for promoting muscle gain and reaping its benefits.

Dr. Bell added: “Fat loss is difficult, but that does seem to be where the greatest health benefits lie. We need to double down on preventing fat gain and supporting people in losing fat and keeping it off.

“We absolutely still encourage exercise – there are many other health benefits and strength is a prize in itself. We may just need to temper expectations for what gaining muscle can really do for avoiding heart disease – fat gain is the real driver.”

The study also found that improving strength (based on handgrip) has slightly greater benefits for markers of heart health than gaining muscle itself, suggesting that the frequent use of muscle, rather than the bulking up of muscle, may matter more.

Professor Nic Timpson, the Principal Investigator of the Children of the 90s and one of the study’s authors, said: “This research provides greater clarity in the relative roles of fat and lean mass in the basis of cardio-metabolic disease. This is an important finding and clearly part of a complex picture of health that involves weight gain, but also the other indirect costs and benefits of different types of lifestyle. It is only through detailed, longitudinal, studies like Children of the 90s that these relationships can be uncovered. We extend our thanks to the participants of the Children of the 90s who make all of this work possible.”

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Diet Swaps for Lowering Your Blood Pressure – Tufts

If you have high blood pressure (or would like to avoid it) you probably already know you should be limiting your intake of foods high in the mineral sodium. But did you also know you should be increasing your intake of foods containing other minerals? Potassium, magnesium, and calcium play important roles in blood pressure control. Increasing intake of foods rich in these minerals while decreasing intake of foods high in sodium may help keep your blood pressure under control.

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Sodium: High sodium intake increases water retention throughout the body.  Excess water in the circulatory system increases blood volume and therefore pressure on the arterial walls (blood pressure). Observational studies consistently demonstrate that dietary patterns higher sodium are associated with higher blood pressure and stroke risk. More importantly, many randomized controlled trials have shown that reducing salt intake decreases blood pressure. Most people consume too much sodium, typically as salt.

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Time until dementia symptoms appear can be estimated via brain scan

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed an approach to estimating when a person who is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but has no cognitive symptoms, will start showing signs of Alzheimer’s dementia.

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The algorithm, available online in the journal Neurology, uses data from a kind of brain scan known as amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) to gauge brain levels of the key Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta.

In those who eventually develop Alzheimer’s dementia, amyloid silently builds up in the brain for up to two decades before the first signs of confusion and forgetfulness appear. Amyloid PET scans already are used widely in Alzheimer’s research, and this algorithm represents a new way of analyzing such scans to approximate when symptoms will arise. Using a person’s age and data from a single amyloid PET scan, the algorithm yields an estimate of how far a person has progressed toward dementia — and how much time is left before cognitive impairment sets in.

“I perform amyloid PET scans for research studies, and when I tell cognitively normal individuals about positive results, the first question is always, ‘How long do I have until I get dementia?’,” said senior author Suzanne Schindler, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology. “Until now, the answer I’d have to give was something like, ‘You have an increased risk of developing dementia in the next five years.’ But what does that mean? Individuals want to know when they are likely to develop symptoms, not just whether they are at higher risk.”

Schindler and colleagues analyzed amyloid PET scans from 236 people participating in Alzheimer’s research studies through Washington University’s Charles F. and Joanne Knight Alzheimer Disease Research Center. The participants were an average of 67 years old at the beginning of the study. All participants underwent at least two brain scans an average of 4½ years apart. The researchers applied a widely used metric known as the standard uptake value ratio (SUVR) to the scans to estimate the amount of amyloid in each participant’s brain at each time point.

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Eating walnuts daily lowered ‘bad’ cholesterol and may reduce cardiovascular disease risk – AHA

Eating about ½ cup of walnuts every day for two years modestly lowered levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as “bad cholesterol,” and reduced the number of total LDL particles and small LDL particles in healthy, older adults, according to new research published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Healthy older adults who ate a handful of walnuts (about ½ cup) a day for two years modestly lowered their level of low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol levels. Consuming walnuts daily also reduced the number of LDL particles, a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.

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Walnuts are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid), which have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health.

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The Happy Brain Chemicals that Makes You Feel Good

Our Better Health

Did you know, 37% of people around the world are unhappy. That means at least 1 in 3 people you know aren’t happy with their life. Are you one of those people?

If so, there are simple ways to improve your happiness. Have you heard of happiness chemicals? Your brain releases these happy chemicals that make you feel good.

It is common to think happiness is a destination that you have to find either through material items, relationships, or career status. But happiness is the journey and something you can create on your own.

Improving your happiness can be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. It is known that people who are sleep deprived have a harder time remembering positive ideas and an easier time remembering negative ideas.

What are the Happiness Chemicals

When you feel good, your brain is releasing one of the happiness chemicals or happy…

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