Saturday, January 28, 2017

Proactive Health: Foods That Make a Difference

With many concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act, now more than ever it’s important to practice “proactive health,” measures that will keep you healthy and reduce the need for insurance. This week features foods that have been shown to make a difference.

While there is much to be learned from the “Blue Zones” studies, one very important point is that many of these areas, where people live to incredibly old ages, not only have significantly less disease then in the US but also less health care. In other words, being healthy does not equal having health insurance.

There are nine common characteristics of those cultures where longevity is common place. Three of the “Power Nine” pertain to diet, with the leading one being eating “plant slant.” Meats are eaten, but they are generally lean and in small portions-sort of like a side dish. Interestingly, in Loma Linda, Ca, the US’s only Blue Zone, Pesco-vegetarians in the community, who ate a plant-based diet with up to one serving of fish a day, lived longer than vegan Adventists.

While drinking alcohol moderately 1-2 glasses per day seems to be a common characteristic (not in Loma Linda, which has a strong 7th Day Adventist culture) in July 2016 a longitudinal study found that alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer with heavy drinkers most at risk. However, even those who consume low to moderate amounts were also found to be at increased risk. 

Check out Blue Zone recipes, which all take less than 30 minutes to assemble. The ones I’ve tried have been good.

Choose food that help to boost immune function.  Five micronutrients—vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc—play roles in maintaining immune function. While these are heavily touted in supplement form, there is no evidence that such supplements have more benefits than following a healthy diet. Rather than popping pills to get these micronutrients, you're wiser to use various foods to boost your immune system. Micronutrients Have Major Impact on Health: Foods to Boost Your Immune System 

Foods to boost your immune system
Food sources
Vitamin B6
Chicken, cereals, bananas, pork loin, potatoes with skin
Vitamin C
Tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit
Vitamin E
Sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, safflower oil, peanut butter
Whole wheat, legumes, nuts, seeds
Oysters, beef shank, Alaskan king crab, turkey (dark meat)

Inflammation is considered to be an underling factor for many diseases. More and more the research is showing that the key to reducing inflammation comes from the kitchen not the pharmacy. Foods that inflame include: refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread and pastries); fried foods; soda and other sugar sweetened drinks; red meats and processed meats (hot dogs, sausage) and margarine (shortening and lard).

Foods that combat inflammation include: tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and collards); nuts; fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines) and fruits (strawberries, cherries, apples and oranges). Foods that Fight Inflammation Harvard Women’s Health Watch 

Study after study indicates that one of the healthiest diets to follow is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy oils. Use the handy chart to understand how to follow this diet.

Finally there is chocolate, which does have some very healthy properties, particularly dark chocolate. Since I adore chocolate, that’s a good thing. However, portion control is key. Heart Healthy Benefits of Chocolate Cleveland Clinic 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Take a Break: Make Paper Hearts Bouquet

Valentines is about two weeks away, and if it’s anything like Vermont’s winter weather where you live, it’s nice to have some color in the house. What could be brighter and warming than the reds, pinks and other colors associated with the holiday of love.

So start with the basic Paper Hearts BouquetIt’s very straight forward but mix up the hearts in your bouquet with paper heart rosettes-video tutorial below.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest Board. and pick out something else.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

5 ways to hold on to optimism

While the march in Washington and around the country set a clear message about the importance of the ACA and a host of other issues, the reality of the new presidency and the risks are becoming crystal clear. This is a good article to help you not "fall down the rabbit hole."

5 ways to hold on to optimism — and reap health benefits

Beverly Merz
Beverly MerzExecutive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch
In these turbulent times, it may be a struggle to maintain a glass half full view of life. A poll just released by the Associated Press on New Year’s Day indicated that most Americans came out of 2016 feeling pretty discouraged. Only 18% feel things for the country got better, 33% said things got worse, and 47% believe things were unchanged from 2015.
However, 55% of those surveyed said they expect their own lives to improve in 2017. If you are among this majority, it may serve you well. A growing body of research indicates that optimism — a sense everything will be OK — is linked to a reduced risk of developing mental or physical health issues as well as to an increased chance of a longer life.
One of the largest such studies was led by researchers Dr. Kaitlin Hagan and Dr. Eric Kim at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Their team analyzed data from 70,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and found that women who were optimistic had a significantly reduced risk of dying from several major causes of death over an eight-year period, compared with women who were less optimistic. The most optimistic women had a 16% lower risk of dying from cancer; 38% lower risk of dying from heart disease; 39% lower risk of dying from stroke; 38% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease; and 52% lower risk of dying from infection.

Yes, you can acquire optimism.

Even if you consider yourself a pessimist, there’s hope. Dr. Hagan notes that a few simple changes can help people improve your outlook on life. Previous studies have shown that optimism can be instilled by something as simple as having people think about the best possible outcomes in various areas of their lives,” she says. The following may help you see the world through rosier glasses:
1. Accentuate the positive. Keep a journal. In each entry, underline the good things that have happened, as well as things you’ve enjoyed and concentrate on them. Consider how they came about and what you can do to keep them coming.
2. Eliminate the negative. If you find yourself ruminating on negative situations, do something to short-circuit that train of thought. Turn on your favorite music, reread a novel you love, or get in touch with a good friend.
3. Act locally. Don’t fret about your inability to influence global affairs. Instead, do something that can make a small positive change — like donating clothes to a relief organization, helping clean or replant a neighborhood park, or volunteering at an after-school program.
4. Be easier on yourself. Self-compassion is a characteristic shared by most optimists. You can be kind to yourself by taking good care of your body, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Take stock of your assets and concentrate on them. Finally, try to forgive yourself for past transgressions (real or imagined) and move on.
5. Learn mindfulness. Adopting the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment can go a long way in helping you deal with unpleasant events. If you need help, many health centers now offer mindfulness training. There are also a multitude of books and videos to guide you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Take a Break: Try Chair Yoga

New research has shown that Chair yoga is particularly helpful for older adults with osteoarthritis. In addition to reducing pain and improving quality of life, it also a way to avoid medications. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 

Chair yoga refers to a yoga poses that are modified so you can do them in a chair. Below are a variety of videos to try.

From Kripalu Yoga breaks- All are less than 6 minutes and are done in a chair

                                                 Yoga for Seniors: Chair Sun Salutations 

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest Board. and pick out something else.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Journal Watch: Jan. 2017

• Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk of Chronic Headache: The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headache in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years in 1984-1989. In 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l, which is generally considered the threshold for vitamin D deficiency. Chronic headache occurring at least on a weekly basis was reported by 250 men, and men reporting chronic headache had lower serum vitamin D levels than others. Scientific Reports 

• Yoga may have health benefits for people with chronic non-specific lower back pain Yoga may lead to a reduction in pain and functional ability in people with chronic non-specific lower back pain over the short term, compared with no exercise, a new systematic review suggests. However, researchers advise that more studies are needed to provide information on long-term effects. Cochrane Library 

• Chair Yoga as Effective Alternative Treatment for Osteoarthritis: The first randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of chair yoga on pain and physical function in older adults with osteoarthritis is proving to be an effective way to reduce pain and improve quality of life while avoiding pharmacologic treatment or adverse events for the millions who suffer from the disease in their lower extremities (hip, knee, ankle or foot). Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 

• Vomiting Disorder on Rise in Weed Friendly States:  Long-term heavy marijuana use can cause chronic vomiting and abdominal pain in some people, new research suggests. And the syndrome could become more frequent and pervasive as more states legalize use of the drug, according to health experts. Cases of the disorder, which is called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), doubled in Colorado as access to legal marijuana became widespread. 

• Report Cites the Good and Bad on Marijuana: A new report from the National Academy of Sciences states states that there is conclusive or substantial scientific evidence that marijuana products are effective at treating chronic pain, calming muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, and easing nausea from chemotherapy. However, there's little to no evidence supporting any of the other numerous health claims related to marijuana.  The review found little to no evidence to support claims that marijuana or its products can help treat anorexia, Tourette's syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or neurological problems such as epilepsy or Parkinson's disease. And there's a downside as well -- marijuana use comes with a host of potential health risks, whether someone is using the drug medicinally or recreationally, according to the report. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 

Approves first autologous cellularized scaffold for the repair of cartilage defects of the knee
• Approves Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM) which can be used to make insulin dosing decisions alone, without the need for additional fingerstick tests of blood sugar levels.
• Announces 2 day meeting in April to study dangers of exploding E-cigarettes

• Mouthwash Helps Kill Gonorrhea Germs in Mouth: In laboratory tests, the authors of this new study found that Listerine Cool Mint and Total Care (which are both 21.6 percent alcohol) significantly reduced levels of gonorrhea bacteria. A salt water (saline) solution did not. Daily use may offer a cheap and easy way to reduce the spread of the sexually transmitted disease, a small study from Australia contends. Sexually Transmitted Diseases 

• Exercise May be Real Medicine for Parkinson’s Disease:Although physical activity may seem impossible for some Parkinson's patients, the new research review reaffirms what many specialists already believe: that exercise can have a long-term impact, improving gait and reducing risk of falls, in particular. Journal of Parkinson's Disease 

• Want a Sharper Brain as you Age? Volunteer: In a British study of 9,000 adults studied from childhood, group involvement was statistically linked to better cognitive test scores. BMC Psychology 

Weight Loss May Ease Psoriasis Symptoms: Danish researchers are reporting that obese people with the skin condition who lose 10 percent to 15 percent of their weight may see significant and lasting improvement in their symptoms. The study participants lost an average of 33 pounds over 16 weeks. A year later, those who were still about 22 pounds below their weight from the start of the study maintained their improvements in psoriasis symptoms and quality of life, the study authors said. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Earwax There to Protect Your Hearing: Trying to remove your earwax can lead to ear damage, doctors warn. The body produces earwax (or "cerumen") to clean and protect ears. The wax collects dirt, dust and other matter, preventing them from getting farther into the ear, according to an updated clinical practice guideline from the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation. The new guidelines offer some tips on how to protect your ears: Don't overdo it when cleaning your ears. Overcleaning can irritate the ear canal and possibly cause an infection. Don't stick things in your ear. Cotton swabs, hair pins and toothpicks can cause a cut in the ear canal, a hole in the eardrum, and/or dislocation of the hearing bones, causing problems including hearing loss, dizziness and ringing. Never use "ear candles." The guidelines say there is no evidence that this alternative medicine practice can remove impacted earwax. And so-called candling might cause serious damage to the ear canal and eardrum. Do seek medical attention if you have hearing loss, ear fullness, drainage, bleeding or ear pain. 

Sleep Helps Process Traumatic Experiences: If we sleep in the first 24 hours after a traumatic experience, this may help process and integrate the distressing memories more effectively, as researchers demonstrate in a new study. Sleep could thus be used as an early prevention strategy for post-traumatic stress disorders. Sleep 

Iron Deficiency Anemia Associated with Hearing Loss: A study examining the association between sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss and iron deficiency anemia in US adults ages 21 to 90 years found that an association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery 

Brisk Walk May Help Sidestep Heart Disease: Walking at moderate intensity may lower the risk of heart disease, a small study suggests. In just 10 weeks, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight improved among women in study who walked for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day for five days). Creative Nursing 

• Exercise ... It does a body good: 20 minutes can act as anti-inflammatory
One moderate exercise session has a cellular response that may help suppress inflammation in the body. It's well known that regular physical activity has health benefits, including weight control, strengthening the heart, bones and muscles and reducing the risk of certain diseases. Recently, researchers have found how just one session of moderate exercise can also act as an anti-inflammatory. The findings have encouraging implications for chronic diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia and for more pervasive conditions, such as obesity. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 

• Weekend Warriors Can Still Stretch Their Life Spans:  "One or two sessions per week of moderate- or vigorous-intensity leisure time physical activity was sufficient to reduce death from all causes, from cardiovascular disease and from cancer.” JAMA Internal Medicine 

• Older adults with arthritis need just 45 minutes of activity per week: To remain functional, this population can do far less activity per week than recommended, study found. Older adults who suffer from arthritis need to keep moving to be functionally independent. But in an examination of a goal that is daunting for most of this aging population, a new study found that performing even a third (45 minutes) of the recommended activity is beneficial, and those who did improved function in their lower arthritic limbs by 80 percent. Arthritis Care & Research 

Study Cast More Doubt on Value of Mammograms: Mammograms frequently detect small breast tumors that might never become life-threatening, causing women to receive treatment they likely don't need, a new Danish study finds. About one in every three women between the ages of 50 and 69 who was diagnosed with breast cancer wound up having a tumor that posed no immediate threat to her health, the researchers reported. At the same time, mammography did not reduce the number of advanced breast cancers found in women in the study. "This means that breast screening is unlikely to improve breast cancer survival or reduce the use of invasive surgery." Annals of Internal Medicine 

More Signs Mediterranean Diet May Boost Your Brain: Researchers in Scotland examined the brain volume of hundreds of older adults over three years. The investigators found that people who more closely followed the eating habits common in Mediterranean countries -- lots of fruits, vegetables, olive oil and beans -- retained more brain volume compared to those who did not. "Research is accumulating to show protective effects of the Mediterranean diet on normal cognitive [mental] decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Neurology 

• Plant Based Diets Score Big for Healthy Weight Loss: For the seventh year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has named the plant-based eating plan as the best choice overall, followed by the Mediterranean diet, up from fourth place last year. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, but its benefits go beyond preventing high blood pressure, the report found. The DASH and the Mediterranean diets, as well as most of the other recommended diets, focus on eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low- or no-fat dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish. They also recommend nuts, seeds and legumes (beans). U.S. News & World Report 

• Alcohol Abuse Increases Heart Risk: A new study suggests that people who abuse alcohol also boost their risk of three cardiac conditions: atrial fibrillation, heart attack and congestive heart failure. The possible added risk appears to be about the same as that linked to high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes, the researchers said. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 

• High monthly vitamin D reduces respiratory infections, may increase falls for older adults: Researchers concluded that a monthly high dose of vitamin D reduced the number of respiratory infections in older adults but increased the number of falls they experienced. More study is needed to see whether daily (rather than monthly) dosing with high levels of vitamin D could help protect older adults from respiratory infections and minimize the risk of falls, said the researchers. American Geriatrics Society 

• Foods rich in resistant starch may benefit health A new comprehensive review examines the potential health benefits of resistant starch, a form of starch that is not digested in the small intestine and is therefore considered a type of dietary fiber. Some forms of resistant starch occur naturally in foods such as bananas, potatoes, grains, and legumes, and some are produced or modified commercially and incorporated into food products. Wiley 

High fiber diets may alleviate inflammation caused by gout New research shows that a high-fiber diet likely inhibits gout-related inflammation caused by monosodium urate (MSU) crystals. Journal of Leukocyte Biology 

Lots of Red Meat Tied to Diverticulitis in Men: Men who eat a lot of red meat may have a higher risk of diverticulitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the colon, a new study suggests. "This study offers one more reason to consider limiting the red meat in your diet." Gut 

 Eat hot peppers for a longer life? Study: Consumption of hot red chili peppers is associated with a 13 percent reduction in total mortality, primarily in deaths due to heart disease or stroke, a large prospective study has found. PLOS One 

Over the Counter Pain Relievers May be linked to hearing loss: Women who used ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for six years or more were more likely to suffer hearing loss than those who used the pain relievers for a year or less. No significant association between long-term aspirin use and hearing loss. American Journal of Epidemiology 

• Heartburn Drugs May Raise Risk of Stomach Infections: A study, of nearly 565,000 adults, found those on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) -- brands like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium -- and H2 blockers, such as Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamethad- had higher risks of infection with C. difficile and Campylobacter bacteria. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 

New Parkinson’s Drug May Combat Movement Difficulties: New research suggests that people with Parkinson's disease may achieve better and more reliable motor control by taking an experimental drug called opicapone alongside the standard medication levodopa. A study of several hundred Parkinson's patients found that the drug -- opicapone -- boosts levodopa's ability to control the motor difficulties associated with Parkinson's. JAMA Neurology 

• Metformin Still Best as First Type 2 Diabetes Treatment: Newly updated guidelines reaffirm that metformin is the first-line drug for people with type 2 diabetes, and that several other medications -- including newer ones -- can be added if needed. American College of Physicians (ACP). The American Academy of Family Physicians 

• Tablet Devices Show Promise in Managing Agitation Among Dementia Patients: A new pilot study suggests that the use of tablet computers is both a safe and a potentially effective approach to managing agitation among patients with dementia. This research builds upon previous studies demonstrating that art, music, and other similar therapies can effectively reduce symptoms of dementia without medication. By using tablet devices to employ these therapies, however, patients and providers also benefit from a computer's inherent flexibility. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 

Counseling, Antidepressants Change Personality for the Better: A review of 207 studies involving more than 20,000 people found that those who engaged in therapeutic interventions were, on average, significantly less neurotic and a bit more extraverted after the interventions than they were beforehand. Psychological Bulletin 

Antibiotic gel prevents borreliosis resulting from tick bites: An antibiotic gel based on azithromycin, an antibiotic with antibacterial properties, helps to prevent the onset of Lyme borreliosis following a tick bite, finds new research. A total of 1,000 patients with fresh tick bites were treated with the antibiotic gel within 72 hours of being bitten. "None of the test subjects went on to develop Lyme borreliosis." Conversely, in the control group that received a placebo, there were seven cases of borreliosis. The advantage of the gel is that it has no side-effects and, according to the promising results, can therefore also be used for children. Moreover, treatment is very simple: the gel has to be applied every 12 hours over a period of three days. This kills off the borrelia. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 

• Female Doctors May Have an Edge: In a national study, researchers found that older hospital patients treated by female internists had a slightly lower death rate than those treated by men. Their risk of being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days was also slightly lower, the findings showed. JAMA Internal Medicine 

US Cancer Rates Continue to Fall: Cancer death rates in the United States have dropped 25 percent since the early 1990s, a new report reveals. "The drop in cancer mortality is primarily the result of large declines in the four major causes of cancer death -- lung, colorectal, breast and prostate -- which account for almost half of all cancer deaths. This progress is driven by declines in smoking prevalence beginning in the 1960s, and improvements in the early detection of cancer and cancer treatment.” CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians

• Sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections: You can pretty much put a mark in your calendar for when the annual flu epidemic begins. Using 20,000 virus samples and weather statistics, researchers have now discovered more details about how outdoor temperature and flu outbreaks are linked. A cold week with an average temperature below zero degree Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) precedes the start of the flu epidemic.” Journal of Clinical Virology