Like so many folks these days, I have an iPhone and rely on it heavily for communications with friends, weather info for biking, map info for navigating, etc. If you have a smart phone I’m sure you have your own myriad uses.
The reason I am bringing this up is that I stumbled across a fascinating item in the New York Times from late March.
You can read the entire piece at the link, but here are some of the highlights that particularly touched me. It was titled Your Phone vs. Your Heart. Interesting dichotomy.
I have written at least 10 posts on the value and benefits of positive psychology. If you want a look just type in positive psychology into the search box at the right and click on search.
Barbara Fredrickson wrote the NYT piece. In case you aren’t familiar with her, she wrote Positivity, one of the bibles of positive psychology as well as Love 2.0: How our supreme emotion affects everything we feel, think, do and become. Continue reading
I found this illustration in an issue of American Heart Association’s Circulation Research Journal. I thought it provided a fascinating look at what happens to the heart during aging.
The Caption in the journal said: Age-dependent changes to cardiovascular tissues. Both the heart and vasculature undergo numerous alterations during aging as a result of deregulation of molecular longevity pathways, leading to compromised function. Illustration credit: Cosmocyte/Ben Smith.
As a sports fan and viewer of ESPN, I have been caught in the deluge of erectile dysfunction (ED) ads that proliferate on these TV venues. Who hasn’t heard the litany of Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, etc.? It seems you can’t help but conclude that a lot of the guys watching sports have a problem with ED.
Harvard has a publication for sale on the subject.
By way of introduction to it, Harvard offered the following four observations on ED.
“1. ED is often the result of diseases or conditions that become more common with age — or a side effect of the medications used to treat them. Other possible causes of ED include prostate surgery, stress, relationship problems, and depression.
2. Other age-related factors can affect a man’s ability to have an erection — tissues become less elastic and nerve communication slows. But even these factors don’t explain many cases of ED.
3. Cardiovascular disease is a common cause of ED. Clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) affect not only the blood vessels of the heart, but those throughout the body as well. In fact, in up to 30% of men who see their doctors about ED, the condition is the first hint that they have cardiovascular disease.
4. Intriguing findings from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study suggest there may be a natural ebb and flow to ED — that is, for some men, trouble with erections may occur, last for a significant amount of time, and then partly or fully disappear without treatment.”
They conclude with the following positive thought: “Regardless of the cause, ED often can be effectively addressed. For some men, simply losing weight may help. Others may need medications, and there are other options available as well. Given the variety of therapies available, the possibility of finding the right solution is greater than ever.”
From the above list, it appears that age and diet have a lot to do with the problem. Must confess that number four was a surprise. I hadn’t known that ED could come and go, so to speak.
If you want to find out more about the subject, check out the link.
Not long ago a study published in the journal Athersclerosis reported that the more egg yolks a people ate the thicker their artery walls became. That indicates a higher risk of heart disease. Also, the effect was nearly as bad as from smoking cigarettes. The Egg Nutrition Center and American Egg Board voiced other ideas.
The incredible edible egg
Researchers measured the buildup of carotid plaque in the arteries of 1,231 subjects. The men and women in the study were all patients at cardiovascular health clinics. For comparison’s sake, the team also measured the carotid plaque buildup of smokers in the study.
Plaque buildup increased according to age – after age 40 in a fairly steady fashion. But among the 20 percent of participants who reported eating the most egg yolks – three or more per week – carotid plaque increased “exponentially,” according to the study. The buildup equaled about two-thirds of that seen among the heaviest smokers in the group.
Arterial plaque buildup is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke; as plaque accumulates on artery walls, it narrows the space through which blood can pass, making the heart’s job of pumping more difficult. Moreover, plaque buildups can break away from the arterial wall, forming clots that can do terrible, even fatal, damage if they reach the heart or brain.
For the record, here is the nutritional breakdown of a large (56 gram) egg from SELFNutritionData:
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated Fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 237 mg
Sodium 78 mg
Protein 7 grams
Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, blood pressure, body fat, calories, eggs, Exercise, fast food, fat, portion size, protein, Weight
Over the past few years of writing this blog I have spent a lot of words on the value of eating intelligently and exercising regularly to help control your weight and to age well. So, it is interesting to see that there is a positive relationship between hobby activity with mortality and frailty among community-dwelling elderly adults, according to a study by the department of Public Health Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.
On its face, this may seem outside our criteria of diet and exercise, but anything that may lead toward more healthy aging is worth looking into. Also, in previous posts on the brain (regardless of age) it has been shown that there are many benefits to mental activities. Learning anything new is beneficial to the individual on a physical and mental level. Certainly pursuing a hobby would qualify. You can click on the brain tags at the right for further info.
The study was seeking to identify factors that influence health status among elderly adults in Japan. It included over 2000 individuals between 65 and 84 years old. Questions on hobby activities were from 4 categories: solitary physical, group physical, solitary cultural, and group cultural activities.
They found that the folks who participated in hobby activity had a markedly lower mortality rate and also less chance of becoming bedridden.
Their conclusion was that the findings may be important for programs that seek to promote health among elderly adults since the proportion of Japanese adults aged 65 and older is predicted to increase.
On a personal level, you don’t need to cultivate Bonsai trees, there are lots of areas worth pursuing. Look into your own interests. No one knows better than you what kind of hobby can captivate your interest.
It’s exactly a month ago that I wrote What Should I Know About Colon Cancer?
Although your lifetime risk of coming down with it is around five percent, the mortality rates are approximately 50 percent.
Now comes news that Italian doctors have developed a simple breath analysis tool that has the potential for the screening and diagnosis of colorectal cancer.
Alexandra Sifferlin wrote in Time Magazine that in a small study of 80 participants, “researchers from the the University Aldo Moro of Bari in Italy found a profile of breath-based chemicals that are linked to colorectal cancer. The scientists collected exhaled breath from 37 patients with colorectal cancer and 41 healthy control participants, and evaluated them for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that could be red flags for cancer. According to the researchers, cancer tissues operate differently compared to non-cancerous cells and may release a distinct chemical signature.”
The good news for us regular folks is that this simple low cost technique could provide an alternative to colonoscopies that deter many people.
“The technique of breath sampling is very easy and non-invasive, although the method is still in the early phase of development,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Donato F. Altomare in a statement. “Our study’s findings provide further support for the value of breath testing as a screening tool,” Time reported.
The American Cancer Society’s Dr. Ted Gansler told CNN. “The main goals of current screening tests are not just to find any colorectal cancer, but rather to find early–curable–cancers and precancerous polyps that can be removed to prevent cancer from developing.” According to Gansler, about only half of Americans ages 50 and older are currently getting tested for colon cancer.”
Although these are early times, if these tests work out many more people may get diagnosed early. Colon cancer is a slow growing disease, so early diagnosis saves lives.
There is good news for when we head into cold and flu season. The July Issue of Annals of Family Medicine reports that meditation and exercise reduced acute respiratory illness in a study group.
I must confess it is most gratifying to see some of our blog recommendations have more positive results beyond the ones we originally suggested.
A study of 150 patients, all over age 50, had the population broken into three groups. The first group was trained in mindful meditation, the second did eight weeks of brisk walking or jogging and the third control group did neither.
Researchers monitored the patients with bi-weekly telephone updates and laboratory visits from September through May. Those who had meditated missed 76 percent fewer days of work from September through May than the control group. Those who had exercised missed 48 percent fewer days of work in the period.
The severity of afflictions also declined for the meditators and exercisers. Those who had exercised or meditated had colds that lasted five days. The control group had colds that lasted eight days.
Scientific American Mind reported, “Lab tests confirmed that the self-reported length of colds correlated with the level of antibodies in the body, which is a biomarker for the presence of a virus.”
So, if you have been dreading the upcoming sick season, you have reason to smile. If you are already exercising or meditating, you will likely experiece less severe afflictions this winter. And, you can commence on an exercise or meditation program and feel better in more ways than one.