Tag Archives: men's health

Guys – Get that check up

I started writing this blog for guys nearly seven years ago. The idea was that women did a great job of keeping track of their health; men, not so much. Over the course of writing it, I have found that more than half of my readers are women who are paying attention to their  health, so the focus shifted from guys to simply good health and living past 100. But, according to this little infographic, guys still don’t do a very good job. With 34% of men over age 20 overweight or obese, guys need to wake up.

I hope this little Men’s Health 101 from Texas A&M University Health Science Center gives you a wake up call.

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Tony

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Filed under blood pressure, medical check ups, men's health, overweight, Weight, weight loss

The Hazards of Being Male – Infographic

Normally, I love these infographics, but this one on men’s health facts was kind of a downer. As it states only 30% of men’s overall health is genetic, so we must be making a whole lot of bad choices. Come on, guys! Think.

Web-infographic.jpg

Tony

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Science Reveals 6 Ways You Can Benefit From Laughter

kelly rybak

It’s long been said that laughter is the best medicine for the soul, and now, there is proof. According to research the mental and physical effects of humor and laughter on your body are very real, and can be used as treatment therapy for a variety of mental and physical health illnesses—including depression. Psychologist and laugh therapist Steve Wilson, MA, CSP says, “I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off.” And he’s right!

Below is a list of all the magical things that can happen inside your body with a simple laugh:

1. Laughter reduces stress. Stress can be caused by a number of things, but the end result is all the same—poor focus, anxiety, etc. However, the study on Humor’s Healing Potential claims the benefits of humor therapy help relieve some of these symptoms by reducing your body’s stress hormones, putting a…

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Flu Shot May Cut Risk of Stroke, Too – NIH

Regular readers know I feel very strongly that getting a flu shot is a good idea and greatly increases our chances of missing out on this annual disease. I have an entire page on flu shot related items.

Now, the National Institutes of Health publication HealthDay reports that getting a seasonal flu shot “might also significantly reduce your risk of stroke.

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“We know that cardiovascular diseases tend to hit during winter, and that the risks may be heightened by respiratory infections such as flu. Our study showed a highly significant association between flu vaccination and reduced risk of stroke within the same flu season,” said lead investigator Niro Siriwardena, a professor in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Lincoln in England.”

I always start advising personal friends as well as readers to get their flu shot in October to be protected for the entire season. That turns out to be a good thing as the study authors said stroke risk reduction was strongest if a person received a shot early in the flu season.

To read more on this season’s flu type in the word flu in the box and the right and click search.

Tony

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Filed under flu deaths, flu season, flu shot, flu symptoms, HealthDay

Risk of Cardiovascular Events in Men Getting Testosterone Therapy

“Low T” is the innocuous buzz word circulated by advertisers trying to sell drugs to men who have symptoms of low testosterone.  These include low libido, fatigue, irritability or muscle loss. However, the game may be proving to be not worth the candle.

The New York Times said, “Clinical testosterone deficiency, which is variously defined as lower than 220 to 350 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood serum, can cause men to lose sex drive and fertility. Their bone density often declines, and they may feel tired and experience hot flashes and sweats.”

low-t

The Endocrine Society has released the following statement on the risk involved for men getting  testosterone therapy: “A recent study by Finkle et al1, published online in PLOS ONE, suggests that the risk of myocardial infarction is increased in men who are receiving testosterone therapy and who have pre-existing heart disease. This report follows on the heels of another study from the Veterans Health Care System2, which also found a higher frequency of death and cardiovascular events in men who had documented coronary artery disease and who were administered testosterone therapy. In 2010, a randomized placebo-controlled trial of testosterone in older men with mobility limitation, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), was stopped early by the trial’s data and safety monitoring board, due to the higher frequency of cardiovascular-related events in men assigned to the testosterone arm of the trial than in those assigned to the placebo arm3. These studies have heightened concern about the safety of testosterone therapy in older men with pre-existing heart disease. Continue reading

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Should you take your own blood pressure at home?

I had never really considered this question before, but after listening to Dr. Mark Huffman of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine speak to the Northwestern Memorial Healthy Transitions Program®, I am going to do it.

I wrote up high blood pressure, or hypertension, for the blog two years ago.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say, “High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it usually has no warning signs or symptoms. Many people do not know that they have high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.”

Just to give you some ballpark figures, Normal blood pressure (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.

Modifiable causes of high BP or hypertension include smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, dietary salt, alcohol consumption and stress.

Causes of high BP over which we have no control include older age, genetics, family history of high BP, chronic kidney disease and adrenal and thyroid disorders.

The CDC recommends, “There are several things that you can do to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range—
• Get your blood pressure checked regularly.
• Eat a healthy diet.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Be physically active.
• Limit alcohol use.
• Don’t smoke.
• Prevent or treat diabetes

Some 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 American adults.  Anyone, including children, can develop high blood pressure. It greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States.” Emphasis mine.

Dr. Huffman said that home blood pressure measurements are increasingly preferred as adjuncts to those taken in the doctor’s office.

“Automatic sphygmomanometers work well. Omron, upper arm cuffs are preferred and are often covered by insurance. ” He recommended checking out Amazon where they are available for $45 to $65.

I liked very much that the CDC recommendations were all lifestyle ones and did not include any taking of drugs. Obviously, this assumes that our blood pressure is in the normal range. Perhaps if we get our lifestyle in synch with these recommendations, our blood pressure won’t go up and we won’t need to go the drug route – ever.

I am arranging to get a blood pressure monitor and plan to take mine regularly at home and furnish my doctor with the numbers the next time I see her.

What do you think?

Tony

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Filed under aging, blood pressure, heart, heart disease, heart problems, stroke

Is Food an End or a Means for You? – Key Weight Loss Principle

I am nearing the end of my fourth year of blogging on health in general and weight loss in particular. In the beginning I had experienced a small amount of success, but the mental exercise of blogging on the subject sharpened my focus and really accelerated my progress. In 2010 I had my weight ‘down to’ 165 pounds which was my best weight in the past decade – down from over 220 pounds at my worst. So, I felt I had reason to feel good about myself.

Now, however, nearly four years later, I have my weight down to the low 150s. In addition, my cholesterol level is sub 200 with the key HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) reading at 85. I have less than 17 percent body fat and my waistline is 31 inches, the same as it was in high school. My resting heart rate is below 50 beats per minute. Clearly I have progressed positively.

One serving of pasta -200 calories - is about the size of a tennis ball.

One serving of pasta -200 calories – is about the size of a tennis ball. This is 200 calories without sauce.

What changed? A couple of things. The first is that I became conscious of portion size and portion control. As I wrote in a previous post, I used to think a ‘serving’ of pasta was a plate full. WRONG. A serving is about the size of a  tennis ball which amounts to around 200 calories – without pasta sauce on it. So, when I was eating a plate full of pasta, I was probably packing away 800 to 1000 calories. No wonder I could never lose weight. I learned that you need to pay attention to how much you are eating. That may sound obvious, but it wasn’t for me.  I was more focused on the pleasure of the food than its function – to keep me healthy.

Moving on from serving sizes, the next most important concept I learned in writing this blog is that I was considering food as an end in itself. That is, if I were having pizza, I would eat my fill of it – for the simple pleasure of enjoying how good it tasted. More was better. This is a road map for overeating.

Now that I am aware of portion sizes and calorie counts, I still love the taste of pizza, but I consume it totally differently. I enjoy a slice or two and genuinely savor the taste while not overindulging in the quantity. The pizza has become a means to an end – satisfaction of my hunger and replenishing my body with energy stores. It is no longer an end in itself.

I think getting this concept straight in your head will help guide you to eating well and intelligently without the kind of overindulgence that put me over 220 pounds and has resulted in our having 60 per cent of us overweight and 30 per cent outright obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition.

Since I have begun looking on food in terms of what it can do for me as opposed to simply how good it tastes, I find myself eating a lot more intelligently. I include more salads in my diet as well as a full complement of nuts and seeds which are wonderful energy, protein and fat sources that don’t clog my arteries. Regarding artery clogging, I am eating a lot fewer burgers, fries and steaks these days, too. It all adds up to less weight and better health.

As I wrote on my page How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off, everything you eat and drink becomes a part of you. If you think about it that way,  you might be more careful about what and how much you are eating.

Tony

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Every Body Walk!

I recently put together a page (which you can access from the titles at the top) on Why you should walk more. The page contains links to the 10 blog posts I have made over the past nearly four years on the benefits of walking.

Now comes the government with a powerful documentary – Every Body Walk! that you can watch by clicking the link.

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This film is is an online educational campaign aimed at getting Americans up and moving. The campaign’s goal – to spread the message that walking really can improve health and prevent disease. The campaign is led by Kaiser Permanente along with a number of other organizations, including the Office of the Surgeon General.

This 30 minute documentary was released to highlight the importance of walking in our lives. It explores the significant health and environmental benefits that can result from simply walking. The film’s primary message is to encourage Americans to walk on a regular basis for their own health and well being. Topics covered in the documentary include:

• The impact of inactivity
• Eliminating walking from our culture
• The evolution of man and walking
• Walking to better health
• Building walkable communities

“For too many people, much of the day is spent sitting in the car, at the desk or on the couch, which has serious health implications,” said Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president, Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy. “The film is sure to encourage people to get back on their feet, walking whenever and wherever they can – at work, at school, and in the community, all while getting involved in making their communities more walkable overall.”

I recommend that you check out the documentary at your leisure and get a look at the links on my page. Hopefully, these will get you thinking about the benefits of walking, the ugly stepsister of the exercise world. It is certainly a step in the right direction.

Tony

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Filed under aging, American Heart Association, Exercise, walking, Weight

Study: Low Fiber Intake Links to Higher Heart Risk

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) — an independent nonprofit organization that advises the U.S. government on health issues — recommends 38 grams of fiber a day for men aged 19 to 50 and 30 grams a day for men over 50. The IOM recommends 25 grams a day for women aged 19 to 50 and 21 grams a day for women over 50.

But the average dietary fiber intake among the study participants was only about 16 grams per day, according to the study, which was published in the December issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Cooking with Kathy Man

Research looked at a decade of data from thousands of U.S. adults.

People who don’t eat enough fiber seem at increased risk for heart problems, and too few Americans are consuming enough fiber, a new study says.

Researchers analyzed data collected from more than 23,000 U.S. adults between 1999 and 2010 and found that low fiber intake was strongly associated with heart disease risk factors such as obesity, inflammation and metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is a group of symptoms that puts people at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Previous studies have found that dietary fiber may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. Despite those findings, this new study found that Americans don’t have enough fiber in their diets.

Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.

The Institute of Medicine — an independent nonprofit organization that advises the U.S. government on health issues — recommends 38…

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Filed under Fiber, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, Uncategorized

How to Measure Fitness Progress – NIH

Eat less; move more. Those are my words to live by. Now supposing you have chosen to try them out and you are actually moving more – maybe walking instead of cabbing it, or you have started exercising instead of couch-potatoing it. Now what? You want to know how you are doing and what is the next step. Is it time to exercise a little longer, or find an activity slightly more challenging?

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The National Institutes of Health has some worthwhile suggestions.

“These simple monthly tests are good ways to see if you are continuing to progress and need to update your goals. Each month, you will likely see an improvement.

*Endurance. Pick a fixed course and see how long it takes to walk that distance. As your endurance improves, it should take less time.

* Upper-body Strength.
Count the number of arm curls* you can do safely in 2 minutes.

* Lower-body Strength.
Count the number of chair stands* you can do safely in 2 minutes.

* Balance.
Time yourself as you stand on one foot, without support, for as long as possible. Stand near something sturdy to hold on to, in case you lose your balance. Repeat on the other foot.

* Flexibility. For this test, sit toward the front of a sturdy chair, and stretch one leg straight out in front of you with your heel on the floor and your toes pointing up. Bend the other leg and place your foot flat on the floor. Slowly bend from your hips and reach as far as you can toward the toes of your outstretched foot. How far can you reach before you feel a stretch?”

You are off to a good start. These NIH suggestions can help you on your way.

Tony

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Filed under aerobics, Exercise, Weight

What About Hearing Problems?

Hearing loss is common, according to Pamela Fiebig, AuD, Audiologist Northwestern University Dept of Otolaryngology/Audiology. Speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®, Ms. Fiebig offered the following statistics:

Some 10 million Americans report significant hearing loss. Of those 10 million, four million are over age 65. That is 40 percent, or two out of five seniors. There are five million in the age group 18 to 64 years. Into the teen years, hearing loss percentages are negligible. Up to the end of the teenage years, hearing loss onset increases to barely double digits. But, starting at the age of 20 and reaching to age 39 some 20 percent of the female population and 32 percent of the males start to experience problems with their hearing. Men seem to suffer more than women and Ms. Fiebig reckoned that this was a result of manufacturing and industrial workplace noise which would be decreasing as less manufacturing was being done here.

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Some indications that your may be having hearing difficulties is that you need to turn up the TV during shows, but commercials sound fine. Likewise, does it sound like a lot of people you hear mumble? Unclear speach is an early sign of hearing beginning to fail.

So, seniors are very vulnerable to hearing loss, but it reaches down as low as the 20s.

She recommended having basic audiology tested with modern equipment that includes air-conduction evaluating outer to inner ear conditions. There is also bone conduction which evaluates the inner ear and finally, word recognition testing is done. Continue reading

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Coconut Oil – What Is It All About?

“Virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat that’s classified as a medium-chain fatty acid; it can raise both “bad” and “good” cholesterol levels. And there’s some evidence — including both animal and human studies — suggesting that coconut oil intake may be associated with a neutral, if not beneficial, effect on cholesterol levels.”

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of coconut oil. Here are previous posts on the subject:

Why should I try coconut oil?

Coconut oil: What is it all about?

Significant health benefits of coconut oil

Why coconut oil is so darn good for you

Coconut oil: Alzheimer’s Treatment

You should try oil-pulling

What to look for in a cholesterol report

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian wrote in Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ……

Extra-virgin olive oil consistently tops the list in popularity when it comes to culinary oils. But these days coconut oil seems to be stealing the spotlight. Health claims abound around this tropical oil, but so does controversy. So what is it all about? Here are some facts about coconut oil.

Where Does Coconut Oil Come From?

There are two main types of coconut oil that you can use in cooking and baking: Virgin and refined.

“Virgin” coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals; it’s considered unrefined.

“Refined” coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that’s often chemically bleached and deodorized.

Some food manufacturers may use yet another form of coconut oil that’s further processed: partially hydrogenated coconut oil.

Nutritional Properties of Coconut Oil

The coconut oil…

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What are Sunrise Clusters with Greek Yogurt Chips from Costco?

Another trip through Costco, another fun healthy snack food found. I wrote about Sunrise Energy Bars back in November and recounted how much I enjoyed them as an energy boost on bike rides.

Apparently now comes the next chapter from the Sunrise brand. These are not bars, but just about bite size (slightly bigger) clusters of a granola-like substance. The package boasts ALL NATURAL, WHOLE GRAIN, OMEGA 3. As you can see from the photo, they come in a big tub and are not individually wrapped like a lot of energy products.

clusters

For folks with little impulse control, here is my early verdict. I have snacked on a couple of them and liked the taste very much. They are very handy for a guy like me who tosses little snacks into a bag and brings them on bike rides for energy pick me ups.

The ingredients include: whole grain rolled oats, whole grain oat flour, cranberries, raisins, dried apples, apricots, almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, shredded coconut, non-hydrogenated canola oil, unsalted butter, Greek yogurt chips, sugar, palm kernel oil, yogurt powder, whey protein concentrate, nonfat dry milk, yogurt cultures, reduced mineral whey powder, lactic acid, soy lecithin, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, salt, baking powder, baking soda, tapioca syrup, natural flavor and cinnamon.

The nutritional breakdown is as follows:
Serving size 3 pieces (28 grams) which amounts to one ounce.
Calories 140
Total fat 8 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 75 mg
Total carbohydrates 15 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 3 grams

Nutritionally, the Clusters are almost identical with the Sunrise Energy Bars:
Here is the nutritional breakdown for a single Sunrise Energy Bar of 28 grams:
Calories 130
Total fat 6 grams
Saturated fat 3 grams
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 75 mg
Total carbohydrates 17 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 2 grams

They don’t taste very different, either. So, it may come down to what shape you like your energy snacks in, bite-sized cluster, or slightly larger snack bar.

As far as function goes, I ride my bike almost daily here in Chicago. I take along snacks to boost my energy. When I take a break for a snack I try to limit my intake to about 50 calories so my body doesn’t get hung up in digestion. So, the slightly lower in calorie Clusters appeal to me.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Tony

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Filed under biking, calories, energy, energy bars, Exercise, food labels, portion control, portion size, snack foods, Snacking, Weight

How to Exercise Safely in Hot Weather – NIH

With summer upon us it is important to play it safe when we play outside. Too much heat can be risky for healthy 40 year olds as well as seniors. The National Institutes of Health has issued the following tips for hot weather fun.

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Check the weather forecast. If it’s very hot or humid, exercise inside with a Go4Life DVD or walk in an air-conditioned building like a shopping mall.

Drink plenty of liquids. Water and fruit juices are good options. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. If your doctor has told you to limit liquids, ask what to do when it is very hot outside.

Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics.

Dress in layers so you can remove clothing as your body warms up from activity.

Get medical help right away if you think someone might have a heat-related illness. Watch for these signs: Continue reading

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Filed under aging, cardio exercise, health, healthy living, hot weather, hydration, men's health, mortality, National Institutes of Health, running, seniors, strength, stress, walking, water, Weight

Eating Eggs is Good for Weight Loss – Web MD

There are experts on both sides of the question of eggs, I wrote an extended blog post back in January Is it healthy to eat eggs regularly that discusses this in detail. I also disclosed that for years I have eaten a hard-boiled egg every morning with no ill effects. So, I come down on the side of eggs, especially boiled as opposed to fried. As far as I am concerned a boiled egg is hard to beat. (Intended.)

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WebMD has a slideshow on bad foods that are good for weight loss and it leads off with eggs. I guess that the ‘bad’ element is the cholesterol question.

Here is what WebMD says in favor of eggs, “When it comes to healthy eating, few foods have sparked as much debate as eggs. The latest research suggests an egg a day is safe and nutritious for most adults — and if you eat that egg for breakfast, you’ll boost your odds of losing weight. The reason: Eggs are packed with protein, which takes time to digest. Eating protein in the morning keeps your stomach full, so you eat less during the rest of the day.” Continue reading

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Filed under cholesterol, eggs, healthy eating, healthy living, protein, Weight

How Good is the Costco Energy Blend Snack?

On a recent trip to Costco, I happened upon the Energy Blend snack. As I shop there regularly and have never seen this before, I have to believe it is new to Costco. Since I ride my bike as close to daily as is possible in a four season city like Chicago, i am always on the lookout for fresh and portable sources of energy to take with me on rides.
energyblend
The Energy Blend seems to fill the bill. It has a simple composition of edamame (soybeans) , cranberries, almonds and pumpkin seeds. In addition there are blueberry pomegranate juice and natural strawberry flavor. These are some very good sources of nutrition on their own so the combination looks promising.

At this point, I have only had a single serving of it which comes to 1/4 cup or 30 grams – about an ounce.

I enjoyed eating it. Very nice taste and texture.

The nutritional breakdown is as follows:
Calories 130
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated fat 0.5 grams
No trans fat
No cholesterol
Sodium 65 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14 grams
Fiber 4 grams
Protein 7 grams

This seems a very good nutritional breakdown to me. There is fat for energy, not too many calories, enough sodium to restore salt sweated away, a good slug of fiber and protein. I think it is worth the try.

Let me know what you think.

If you aren’t a regular reader, here are some other recommendations on Costco items:

Roasted Seaweed

Coconut oil

Fruit and Nut treats

Organic Chocolate Love Crunch

Rotisserie chicken

Sunrise energy bars

Tony

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Filed under energy, energy bars, Exercise, portion control, portion size, salt, sodium, Weight