Breathe and Focus: How Practicing Mindfulness Improves Mental Health as We Age — Our Better Health

There are very helpful tips in this post. I would like to add my own suggestion: Exercise. That gives you a two-edged sword. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – and exercise benefits.

As we age, it’s natural to worry about possible declines in our mental and brain health. Many older adults are concerned about things like memory loss and poorer attention, forgetting names, and taking longer to learn new things. As a result, as we get older we may feel more distress, sadness, and/ or anxiety that […]

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Feed a cold, starve a fever? Not so fast, according to Salk research

An apple a day keeps the doctor away is one of those cliches we have heard all our lives. So is, feed a cold, starve a fever.

The last time you had a stomach bug, you probably didn’t feel much like eating. This loss of appetite is part of your body’s normal response to an illness but is not well understood. Sometimes eating less during illness promotes a faster recovery, but other times—such as when cancer patients experience wasting—the loss of appetite can be deadly.

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Now, research from the Salk Institute shows how bacteria block the appetite loss response in their host to both make the host healthier and also promote the bacteria’s transmission to other hosts. This surprising discovery, published in the journal Cell on January 26, 2017, reveals a link between appetite and infection and could have implications in treating infectious diseases, infection transmission and appetite loss associated with illness, aging, inflammation or medical interventions (like chemotherapy).

“It’s long been known that infections cause loss of appetite but the function of that, if any, is only beginning to be understood,” says Janelle Ayres, assistant professor at Salk Institute’s Nomis Foundation Laboratories for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis.

A Salk Institute study shows how Salmonella blocks the appetite loss response in hosts to both make the host healthier and promote the bacteria’s survival and transmission

Mice orally infected with the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium typically experience appetite loss and eventually become much sicker as the bacteria become more virulent—spreading from the intestines to other tissues in the body. Ayres’ team tested different conditions in the infected mice and found that sick mice that consumed extra calories despite their appetite loss actually survived longer. It turns out this survival wasn’t due to a more active immune response by well-fed animals (as measured by levels of the bacteria in the host). Instead, it was because the Salmonella weren’t spreading outside of the intestines and throughout the body when the mice ate more, which enabled the animals to stay healthy despite infection. Even more surprising, the Salmonella were acting on the intestine to try to suppress the appetite loss in the host.

The finding was initially puzzling: why would the bacteria become less virulent and not spread to other areas in the body when nutrients were more plentiful? And why would Salmonella actively promote this condition? It turns out the bacteria were making a tradeoff between virulence, which is the ability of a microbe to cause disease within one host, and transmission, which is its ability to spread and establish infections between multiple hosts.

“What we found was that appetite loss makes the Salmonella more virulent, perhaps because it needs to go beyond the intestines to find nutrients for itself. This increased virulence kills its host too fast, which compromises the bacteria’s ability to spread to new hosts,” explains Sheila Rao, a Salk research associate and the first author on the study. “The tradeoff between transmission and virulence has not been appreciated before—it was previously thought that virulence and transmission were coupled.”

When the host ate more and survived longer during infection, the Salmonella benefitted: bacteria in those mice were able to spread via feces to other animals and increase its transmission between hosts, as compared to bacteria in mice who didn’t eat and died sooner due to heightened bacterial virulence.

The researchers discovered that, to halt the appetite-loss response and boost transmission between hosts, Salmonella produces a molecule called SlrP, which blocks activation of an immune protein (cytokine) in the intestines. This cytokine typically communicates with the brain’s appetite center, called the hypothalamus, to prompt the host to lose its appetite during infection. The team found that mice infected with Salmonella that couldn’t make SlrP ate less food while infected, lost more weight and died faster than control mice.

Though the same gut-brain pathway tied to appetite loss exists in the human as in mice, Ayres cautions that infection responses are dependent on many factors and that whether eating—or fasting—during illness can improve one’s health will depend in large part on what the causative agent of the infection is. Her team is planning to search the human microbiome (the collection of bacteria that live in people’s bodies) to find other microbes that might have a similar effect on this pathway and explore those for new therapies tied to appetite loss and treating disease. The lab also wants to investigate whether drugs could be used to turn up or down the sickness-induced appetite-loss pathway that SlrP targets.

“Now that we’d identified this mechanism that regulates appetite, we want to turn it on the flip side and see if we can decrease appetite via this mechanism to help in cases of metabolic disease,” says Ayres.

The discovery also points to the tantalizing possibility of treating infectious diseases with approaches other than antibiotics, such as nutritional intervention. “Finding alternatives to antibiotics is incredibly important as these drugs have already encouraged the evolution of deadly antibiotic-resistant strains,” says Ayres. In the United States alone, two million people annually become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Tony

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all from me and Wondy.

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Be good to your heart today … and every day!

Tony

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The Sweet Truth About Chocolate

Herewith my reminder from last year on Valentine’s Day Eve.

Tony

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

In view of Valentine’s Day tomorrow and tons of chocolate being consumed in honor of it, I thought it might be useful to get a taste of chocolate’s impact on our health.

Medical News Today says, “Throughout the years, chocolate has been on the end of a lot of bad press because of its fat content, and its consumption has been associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

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“However, ‘the recent discovery of biologically active phenolic compounds in cocoa has changed this perception and stimulated research on its effects in aging, oxidative stress, blood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis. Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential.’
The potential benefits of eating chocolate may include:
▪    lowering cholesterol levels
▪    preventing cognitive decline
▪    reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

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Whole grains improve immune response – Studies

Consumption of fast foods and processed foods took another hit today according to a couple of studies from Tufts.

In a clinical trial, adults who consumed a diet rich in whole grains rather than refined grains had modest improvements in healthy gut microbiota and certain immune responses. The research was conducted in tandem with a study that looked at the effects of a whole-grain diet on energy metabolism. Both studies are published online today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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Whole grain consumption has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Researchers have speculated that whole grains lessen risk for diseases through reducing inflammation, but studies comparing the effects of whole grains versus refined grains consumption have not controlled the diets of study participants and have not evaluated cell-mediated immune responses to uncover the impact of whole grains on immune and inflammatory responses.

The research team analyzed the results from an eight-week randomized, controlled trial with 81 participants to see what effect a diet rich in whole grains, as opposed to a diet rich in refined grains, would have on immune and inflammatory responses, gut microbiota, and stool frequency in healthy adults. For the first two weeks, participants consumed the same weight-maintaining Western-style diet rich in refined grains. For the next six weeks, 40 of those participants stayed on that diet, while 41 participants consumed a diet rich in whole grains. Continue reading

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Weight loss facts that work

Since eating temptations abound around Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share these observations on weight.

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

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3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I sincerely doubt that the weight stays off if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

I would like to say for the record that I don’t believe losing weight works. It is only temporary at best. If, instead, you get your head on straight and aim to live a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly, I can promise that you will never have a weight problem.

Tony

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Yoga helps low back pain – Study

I was lucky enough to encounter yoga over 30 years ago. While I still practice it for flexibility and strength training, I think the greatest benefit I got from it was the ability to relax myself through deep breathing.

Over the course of their lives, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at one time or another. A recent study found that more than a third of adults say that low back pain has affected their ability to perform the tasks of daily living, exercise, or sleep. Treating this pain remains a difficult problem, and for millions of people the pain is chronic.

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Now, a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has concluded that yoga may be helpful for low back pain. The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Cochrane Library.

“We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function,” said the study’s lead author, L. Susan Wieland, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine at UM SOM, and Coordinator of the Cochrane Complementary Medicine Field at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UM SOM – an NIH grant-funded project that performs systematic reviews of various integrative medicine topics. “For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment.”

Wieland and her co-authors reviewed 12 separate studies looking at yoga for low back pain. The trials, which included more than 1,000 participants, compared yoga to a non-exercise intervention, such as educational material given to a patient, or to an exercise intervention such as physical therapy. The researchers found that there was low to moderate certainty evidence that at three and six months, patients using yoga had small to moderate improvements in back-related function, as well as small improvements in pain.

Yoga performed about the same as non-yoga exercise in terms of improving back function at three and six months, although the researchers found few studies comparing yoga to other exercise and therefore considered the evidence to be very low certainty.

Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that originated more than 2,000 years ago in India. Over the past several decades, it has become increasingly popular in the U.S. and other western countries. It typically involves a combination of physical movements, controlled breathing, and relaxation or meditation.

Most of the trials used Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga forms of the practice. Because all study participants knew whether or not they were practicing yoga, and their reporting of changes in pain and functioning could have been affected by this knowledge, the study outcomes could only be graded with “moderate” certainty at best. The study also found that patients using yoga had more adverse effects than patients who did not use exercise, but had similar rates of adverse effects as patients who used non-yoga exercise. The adverse effects were mostly increases in back pain. Yoga was not associated with serious side effects.

The research team also included scientists from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany.

Here are some further posts I have done on yoga;

Why should I do yoga?

Are there immediate benefits to doing yoga?

Yoga stretches for cyclists

If you want to read more type Y O G A into the search box at the right.

Tony

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TGI Friday’s Ribs and Shrimp – Bad Bet

There is a lot of talk about fast foods and processed foods being not as healthy for us. Here is a fine example of that from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

An order of TGI Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs & Shrimp with Seasoned Fries and Coleslaw has 4,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium—more than one-and-a-half times the daily sodium limit (2,300 mg a day) for healthy adults.

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A diner who eats that entrée along with half a high-sodium appetizer and half a high-sodium dessert could end up swallowing 6,450 mg, or almost three days’ worth, of sodium.  The nonprofit Center for the Science in the Public Interest is releasing the first of a series of “Salt Assaults” spotlighting the incredibly (and unnecessarily) high sodium content of many packaged and restaurant foods.

“Consumers can always add salt to their food but they can’t remove what’s already there,” said Jim O’Hara, CSPI’s director of health promotion policy.  “Food companies, especially chain restaurants, are irresponsibly increasing their customers’ risk of heart disease by selling foods that are dangerously high in sodium.  The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed voluntary sodium-reduction targets for packaged and restaurant foods, if finalized, would help put consumers back in control.”

The Ribs & Shrimp meal isn’t the only problem with TGI Fridays, according to CSPI—it’s the entire menu.  If diners choose a typical entrée, they end up with 2,240 mg of sodium.  Adding half a typical appetizer and half a typical dessert brings the total to 3,490 mg of sodium—more than one and a half days’ worth.  (CSPI’s analysis did not include TGI Friday’s 474 menu, which offers “smaller portions of our signature dishes.”)

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that many adults can consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium, but adults with prehypertension and hypertension (about two-thirds of all adults) would do well to limit their consumption to 1,500 mg per day.

Tony

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Bike love ❤️

I just ran across these in my web wanderings and wanted to share them. If you ride a bike you get it. If you don’t, maybe you should consider it.

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Maybe this is actually a yoga picture, or gymnastic shot more than a bike one, but I loved it.

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Tony

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Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought it worth revisiting this post I did on eating more dark chocolate.

Enjoy!

Tony

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

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

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The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce…

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Anti-inflammatory diet could reduce bone loss risk in women

Women are vulnerable to bone density loss as they age.

Anti-inflammatory diets – which tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains – could boost bone health and prevent fractures in some women, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data from the landmark Women’s Health Initiative to compare levels of inflammatory elements in the diet to bone mineral density and fractures and found new associations between food and bone health. The study, led by Tonya Orchard, an assistant professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University, appears in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

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Illustration of bone which has lost density.

Women with the least-inflammatory diets (based on a scoring system called the Dietary Inflammatory Index) lost less bone density during the six-year follow-up period than their peers with the most-inflammatory diets. This was despite the fact that they started off with lower bone density overall.

Furthermore, diets with low inflammatory potential appeared to correspond to lower risk of hip fracture among one subgroup of the study – post-menopausal white women younger than 63.

The findings suggest that women’s bone health could benefit when they choose a diet higher in beneficial fats, plants and whole grains, said Orchard, who is part of Ohio State’s Food Innovation Center.

“This suggests that as women age, healthy diets are impacting their bones,” Orchard said. “I think this gives us yet another reason to support the recommendations for a healthy diet in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” (my emphasis)

Because the study was observational, it’s not possible to definitively link dietary patterns and bone health and fracture outcomes. Continue reading

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“9 OUT OF 10 DON’T KNOW IT”

I think there are some great points made here regarding living a healthy life vs taking medications regularly on a long term basis.

Tony

 

DIABETES is a DISEASE most people simply view as a “CONDITION.” It is certainly not FEARED like CANCER. This misconception is based on the belief that diabetes is CONTROLLED with prescription medication. This has proven to be an UNRELIABLE approach to addressing the underlying mechanisms of this disease and entirely incapable at reversing it LONG […]

via “9 OUT OF 10 DON’T KNOW IT” — All About Healthy Choices

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Cardiovascular disease-related hospital admissions jump on second day after major snowfall – Harvard

Having warned you about the dangers of snow shoveling yesterday, I thought it worthwhile to share this with  you from Harvard.

Hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases decline on days with major snowfalls compared to days with no snowfall, but they jump by 23% two days later, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“With global climate change, major snowstorms may become more frequent and severe,” said lead author Jennifer Bobb of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, who worked on the study as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard Chan School. “Understanding trends in hospitalizations related to snowfall will help us develop ways to protect public health during harsh winter conditions.”

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The study was published online January 30, 2017 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers analyzed data for 433,037 adults hospitalized at the four largest hospitals in Boston (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital) during the months of November through April, for the years 2010–2015. They focused on admissions for cardiovascular diseases; cold-weather related conditions such as frostbite; and falls and injuries. Continue reading

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What is Good Quality Sleep? – NSF

Regular readers know I feel strongly about the value of a good night’s sleep. I have a Page on it – How important is a good night’s sleep?

I consider it to be truly one of the most under-appreciated aspects of good health.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recently released the key indicators of good sleep quality, as established by a panel of experts.

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Given the precipitous increase in the use of sleep technology devices, the key findings are timely and relevant. This information complements the data these devices provide, helping millions of consumers interpret their sleep patterns. The report comes as the first step in NSF’s effort to spearhead defining the key indicators of good sleep quality. They key determinants of quality sleep are included in a report published in Sleep Health. They include:

  • Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
  • Waking up no more than once per night; and
  • Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.

Multiple rounds of consensus voting on the determinants led to the key findings, which have since been endorsed by the American Association of Anatomists, American Academy of Neurology, American Physiological Society, Gerontological Society of America, Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, Society for Research on Biological Rhythms, Society for Research of Human Development, and Society for Women’s Health Research.

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How Dangerous is snow shoveling?

We have only about six weeks of winter left, but it it never too late to remind you that snow shoveling is dangerous business.

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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Fitness, health and aging funnies

Found these in my web wandering. Enjoy!

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Tony

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