Tag Archives: Tufts University

Osteoarthritis and exercise – Tufts

As a long time sufferer of osteoarthritis in my hands, I try to get as much exercise with them as possible. Nice to learn that Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter agrees.

Wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) breaks down the cushion of cartilage that allows joints to flex without grinding bone-on-bone. As the cartilage breaks down, it brings pain, stiffness and swelling. People with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee may experience pain when walking, but actually walking and other forms of low-impact exercise can help to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms.

black and white bones hand x ray

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“Non-impact loading exercises like walking are generally very good for arthritis,” says Jeffrey S. Zarin, MD, chief of the division of arthroplasty at Tufts Medical Center. “It keeps the joints moving, it keeps the joints strong and, generally speaking, it helps your ability to keep functioning. It also helps diminish inflammation.” Continue reading

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Better brain aging through diet – Tufts

I have spent a lot of time writing about the benefits of exercise for the brain as well as the body. Herewith info from the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter on what I can only call food for thought.

Currently available medical treatments for age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease have had limited success. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle has been among the most consistent recommendations to maintain brain health over the long term. Some studies have linked an overall healthy dietary pattern to less chance of experiencing age-related decline in memory and other cognitive skills.

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The specifics of “brain protective” diets vary, but tend to have certain elements in common. Dietary patterns associated with lower risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia are higher in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes and seafood while limited in red and/or processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, refined grains and added salt.

But there have been few long-term trials testing overall dietary patterns for protecting the aging brain. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are currently conducting a clinical trial of a diet specifically optimized for brain health and mild weight loss—the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet.

If successful, the result of the MIND trial will provide older adults with more specific nutritional guidance to maintain their cognitive health. “What they’re doing is logical and I predict will have positive benefits for a disease for which we have few interventions,” notes Dennis Steindler, PhD, senior scientist and director of Tufts’ HNRCA Neuroscience and Aging Laboratory. “Past trials were not home runs, but this study could be it if it bears the kind of findings I think it will.” Continue reading

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Is There An Anti-Arthritis Diet? – Tufts

As an arthritis sufferer, hands, anything that might suggest relief from the pain piques my interest.

black and white bones hand x ray

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This is from the Tufts Health and Nutrition Update:

The short answer is “We don’t know,” but some studies have linked dietary factors to increased risk of aching joints. For example, some observational research suggests that higher intake of saturated fat, relative to unsaturated fats, is associated with progression of osteoarthritis. Conversely, higher intake of unsaturated fat was linked to less progression.

An author of one of those studies, Jeff Driban PhD, associate professor in the division of rheumatology at Tufts University School of Medicine, says it’s still an open question whether eating specific foods can counter osteoarthritis.

“There have not been any new findings recently,” Driban says, “but it’s true that key advice for osteoarthritis is maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active.” Driban notes that a 5% to 10% weight loss can produce a significant improvement in osteoarthritis symptoms.

As for rheumatoid arthritis, research is extensive and ongoing to determine if dietary factors can alleviate the condition, which causes pain, disability and disfigured joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition, so foods or diets with anti-inflammatory properties, hypothetically, could have benefits.

“While there is no specific ‘diet’ that people with rheumatoid arthritis should follow, researchers have identified certain foods that may help control inflammation,” says Alicia Romano, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts Medical Center. “Many of them are found in the Mediterranean diet pattern, which emphasizes fish, vegetables and olive oil.”

When googling for advice on “anti-arthritis” diets, watch out for claims that seem too good to be true, because they probably are. They include not eating nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers; avoiding acidic foods or beverages; drinking cider vinegar (which is acidic, by the way); and avoiding dairy foods.

Instead of relying on pseudoscience, talk to your primary care doctor or arthritis specialist. Driban, vice chair of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, says you can find plain-language advice on weight loss and exercise for osteoarthritis here.

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Tufts on 2019 New Year’s health resolutions

It’s that time of year, so here goes. I don’t have a lot of confidence in New Year’s resolutions, because I try to live that way year ’round. If, however, you feel that you have been slipping, here are some wonderful positive tips from the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter:

“According to surveys, the two most popular New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and getting fit—and for good reason. Moving toward a healthier dietary pattern and being more physically active are crucial steps toward achieving well-being—with or without weight loss.”

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Try these tips for making New Year’s resolutions last:

  • Set SMART goals. Make New Year’s resolutions Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Take small steps. Choose incremental changes that seem do-able to you. For example: someone who habitually drinks soda twice a day may find that cutting back to one soda a day for a few weeks, then switch to flavored seltzer, is easier than quitting “cold turkey.”
  • Introduce physical activity slowly. To avoid injury, start with short, less intense activity sessions and gradually increase intensity and duration.
  • Plan. Put time to be physically active on your calendar; shop ahead to have ingredients for healthy meals and snacks on hand; try cooking ahead and freezing so healthy choices are available when time and energy are short; andavoid buying those foods and beverages you have resolved to cut down on.
  • Track your progress. Use a notebook, fitness tracker, or smartphone app to monitor your dietary intake and/or physical activity progress.
  • Team up. Find a friend or online community to help with accountability and commitment. Something as simple as sending each other daily “did you exercise today” texts can be effective.
  • Make it fun. No one is going to stick with something they hate. Find an activity that gets you moving and brings you joy. Take a healthy-cooking class, cook with family or friends, or experiment with new foods to make eating enjoyable.
  • Cheer yourself on. Celebrate each little achievement. Throwing your fist in the air, patting yourself on the back, or literally saying, “good job” out loud may create an association between the new behavior and positive feelings.

 

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Is cooking oil safe? – Tufts

Is Cooking Oil Safe?

There are lots of ideas circulating about cooking oils and fats. Here is Tufts University Health and Nutrition Update on the subject of cooking oils.

Q. I heard that the heat from cooking makes oil dangerous. Is oil safe to cook with?

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A. “Oil is safe to cook with under usual conditions,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, senior scientist at Tufts’ HNRCA and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “The primary concern I suspect your source was referring to is oxidation, a natural process that occurs when one molecule gives up an electron to another as part of a chemical reaction. The process creates free radicals, which can cause damage that could increase risk for problems such as heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Oils and oily foods (like nuts and whole grains) can oxidize over time, even without cooking. Exposure to light, heat, and air speed up this process. Keep oils in a cool, dark place, and store nuts, whole-grain flours, and fish-, nut-, and seed oils in the refrigerator to keep them fresh longer. Repeatedly-heated cooking oil has been found to have more signs of oxidation, so it’s best not to reuse cooking oil.”

“To counteract free radicals, whether they are formed by normal metabolism in the body or in oils, eat plenty of plant foods. Fruits, vegetables, and other plants have antioxidants that can counteract free radicals in the body.”

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What about eating French fries? – Tufts

I confess that I love french fries. I also confess that I don’t eat them very often because of their fat content and fears of what I am putting into my system. The following is from The Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

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 Q. Potatoes are a vegetable, so why aren’t French fries good for you? Are the nutrients destroyed in the frying process?

A. “A medium baked potato (with skin) is a good source of potassium, vitamins C and B6, and fiber. But potatoes don’t contain other nutrients, such as the carotenoids and phytochemicals found in more brightly-colored vegetables,” says Helen Rasmussen, PhD, RD, a senior research dietitian at Tufts’ Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. “Peeling to remove the skin to make fries and chips results in the loss of a large portion of the fiber, further diminishing the potato’s nutritional value. In addition, French fries are typically salted. Most of us consume more than the recommended amount of sodium, and eating highly salted foods like fries makes that situation worse.”

“Deep frying potatoes to turn them into French fries does not change them that much, but it does increase the number of calories per serving, so we get less nutrients per calorie when we eat them. We each need a particular number of calories to fuel our bodies, and we also need a sufficient intake of many different nutrients. If we choose to consume something like French fries frequently and in a large quantity, we will surpass our calorie needs before we meet all of our nutrient needs, which can impact health.”

“Enjoy potatoes sometimes as part of a balanced, healthy dietary pattern. Think of them as a substitute for grains rather than vegetables when you fill up your plate. Leave the skin on, prepare them in a variety of ways, and avoid adding a lot of butter, cream, and salt. Round out your plate with plenty of colorful vegetables and other plant foods.”

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No Weight-Loss Protection from Vitamin D – Tufts

I have said time and again that losing weight is not a good goal. Instead, work at living a  healthy life, eat intelligently and exercise regularly. Do that and you will never have to lose weight. I have been doing it since six months into writing this blog and now, eight years later, I have fluctuated about five pounds on either side of my 155 pound weight.

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This info from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter, highlights postmenopausal women, but has wider implications.

While losing weight can protect you against chronic diseases, it does come with a downside – especially for postmenopausal women: Studies have shown that obese older women who lose weight also lose lean muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD), particularly if they are inactive, potentially putting them at greater risk of frailty and falls. Continue reading

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Coffee drinkers have better arteries – Tufts

Drinking three to five cups a day linked to lower risk of arterial plaque.

I enjoy coffee and have some every morning. I drink decaf because I don’t like to introduce unhealthy chemicals like caffeine into my system. That’s just me. I am not trying to proselytize here, just get the facts down, because the latest from the Tufts Health Letter interested me as a coffee drinker and blogger who covers health.

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“Scientists may now better understand at least one way in which coffee could help to protect against cardiovascular disease. A large new Korean study reports that people drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 41% less likely to show signs of coronary artery calcium than non-coffee drinkers. This calcification is an early indicator of the artery-clogging plaques (atherosclerosis) that cause coronary artery disease, which afflicts nearly 16 million Americans.  Continue reading

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Tufts University on the Value of Brief Walks vs. the Dangers of Too Much Sitting

I am now in my sixth year of writing this blog. It started out as a weight loss guide, but over the years has morphed into a full service mental and physical health project. Weight loss isn’t off the table; it is just a byproduct of keeping oneself in tiptop health.

That little bit of history was because of a recent publication from Tufts University.

Regular readers know that I am a big advocate of both walking (Check out my Page – Why You Should Walk More) and protecting against the dangers of too much sitting. (Check out my Page – Do You Know the Dangers of Too Much Sitting?)

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So I was most pleasantly surprised to run across the following from Tufts:

“Multiple studies have warned about the health risks of sitting too much. Hours spent sitting, whether at desks or in front of the television, have been linked to increased odds of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and kidney problems. But modern life can make it difficult to stay out of chairs, and alternatives such as “standing desks” don’t appeal to everyone.

“A new study may offer hope to sedentary sitters: Using data on more than 3,600 adults, researchers found that brief periods of simply walking around the room substantially reduced mortality risk among people who spent long periods sitting. As little as two minutes of gentle walking per hour was associated with a 33% lower risk compared to non-stop sitting.

“We know that exercise is good for us and yet, despite this, our society has become more sedentary than ever,” says Miriam E. Nelson, PhD, associate dean of the Tisch College and a professor in Tufts’ Friedman School, author of the “Strong Women” series of books. “We are built to move, and when our bodies move on a regular basis, they are healthy; when they don’t, when we’re largely sedentary, our bodies deteriorate.”

MEASURING MOVEMENT: In the study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Srinivasan Beddhu, MD, of the University of Utah, and colleagues analyzed data from the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In recent surveys, selected participants have supplemented their questionnaire answers by wearing activity monitors called accelerometers; this gives a more accurate record of a person’s movements than depending on individual recall. Most of the participants were generally healthy, although a subgroup of 383 people had chronic kidney disease.

Researchers divided participants into four groups based on minutes per hour of different levels of accelerometer activity: sedentary/sitting, low (such as standing up but not walking around much), light (such as strolling around a room or walking into another room), and moderate/vigorous (jogging or other exercise). The study then compared activity levels to records of deaths three or four years after the assessment.

ADDITIVE ACTIVITY: There was little difference in mortality between the sedentary and low-activity groups. But people who interrupted their sitting with light activity were at significantly lower mortality risk than those who were completely sedentary; this difference was even sharper among the kidney-disease subgroup (41%). As little as two minutes an hour of light activity was enough to be associated with lower risk.

“Boosting activity levels to moderate/vigorous further reduced risk, but the number of such active participants was too low to be statistically significant. Adding additional minutes of light activity, however, did make a significant difference. Getting up from your chair for two minutes or five minutes more light activity rather than sitting time, Dr. Beddhu said, could further reduce risk of premature death.

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He cautioned that the study was observational, and so can’t prove cause and effect. And Tufts’ Nelson notes that a quick break from your chair is no substitute for regular physical activity. But if you’ve been worried about the health risks of sitting too much, apparently every little bit helps.

For more advice on the benefits of stretching as well as dozens of easy-to-perform moves and stretches, order Stretching for 50+ from Tufts Health & Nutrition!

Tony

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How Much Exercise is Enough? – Tufts University

This is a good question in my estimation. It means the person wants to exercise. So, there is at least the beginning of a plan to lose weight, get healthy, build yourself up or something along those lines. This is totally in my wheelhouse of eat less; move more; live longer.

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Tufts University offers some excellent guidelines.

“Nobody questions the health benefits of even just a little exercise, but you may wonder about what might be called the “Goldilocks” question: How much physical activity is “just right”? And is it possible to get too much or to overdo the intensity? Two large new studies, both published in JAMA Internal Medicine, attempt to answer such questions and identify the “sweet spot” of the ideal amount of exercise,” according to the Tufts University Health and Nutrition Update.

“Miriam E. Nelson, PhD, associate dean of the Tisch College and a professor in Tufts’ Friedman School, author of the “Strong Women” series of books, served as vice-chair of the committee for the US government’s first-ever Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008. Those guidelines call for at least:

– 150 minutes per week of moderate activity OR

– 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity OR

– Some equivalent combination. Continue reading

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