300913 Taking control of your sleep

Taking control of your sleep

The experts at Tuffs University make the following recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep.

Finish your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before you go to bed at your regular time.

Keep your daily diet clean with healthy well-balanced meals and snacks. Avoid, as much as possible, or keep to a minimum refined sugars because they stimulate the body thus making it harder to sleep.

Avoid nicotine in any form from any source. Not only does it keep you awake but it is harmful and highly addictive.

270913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part five – Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part five – Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Switching from white to brown rice could potentially lower your diabetes risk

Harvard researchers have made a connection between white rice consumption and the risk of developing diabetes. They found those eating the most white rice were 27% more likely to develop the disease than those who were eating less. They found this association to be the greatest, 55%, amongst the Asian populations. These same research specialists combined the results from four prior studies with a total of 352,384 participants who were followed from 4 to 22 years.

Even though the added diabetes risk of the non-Asian participants was at a borderline statistical significance of 11% it still does not bode well for eating excessive amounts of white rice. Further analysis of the statistics discovered a dose response relationship whereby the more white rice eaten, the greater the diabetes risk which rose even higher with an additional daily serving. This increased the chances of developing the disease by an additional 11%.

According to the information provided in the study white rice and brown rice are not processed the same. Brown rice, unlike white rice, retains its whole grain nutrients during the processing.

250913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part four – The health benefits of fiber to your heart

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part four – The health benefits of fiber to your heart

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

The health benefits of fiber to your heart

“Swedish researchers compared the dietary habits and prevalence of cardiovascular disease among more than 20,000 adults.” They found that fiber, particularly for women, may help protect them against heart disease. In this examination of the 20,000 adults the reported that women consuming the most fiber, which came principally from fruits, vegetables, and bread were at almost 25% lower risk for developing heart disease when compared to those eating a low fiber diet.

This association between high and low fiber in the diet was not as great in men however those eating a high fiber diet seem to have a lower incidence of stroke.

These research scientist scrutinized the self-reported answers in the questionnaires of the reported heart disease and thirteen nutritional variables within this large group of adults. This scrutiny covered over thirteen years of follow-up.

The results published in PLOS One eventually included 8139 men and 12,535 women, aged between 44 and 73 from the Swedish city of Malmo. None of the participants had a prior history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

None of the researchers could say why fiber may be a protective mechanism against heart disease but did note that due to the gender differences found in the results that more investigation is warranted.

230913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part three – Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part three – Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

Using a tape measure to assess your risk for sudden cardiac death

A person with excess belly fat, as determined by the waist to hip ratio formula has a 40% greater risk of dying due to a sudden heart problem. A sudden death means dying within an hour of the onset of symptoms.

In a presentation to the Heart Rhythm Society, 301 cases of sudden cardiac death within 15,156 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study who were between the ages of 45 and 64 died over 12.6 years. At the beginning of the twelve-year period each individual was tested using the three common measures of obesity, which are Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and waist to hip ratios.

Originally, all three measures were linked with a higher risk of suffering a sudden cardiac event. After making adjustments for other conditions also linked with obesity such as high blood pressure and diabetes it was found that the waist to hip ratio was a “significant predictor of risk.” Those in the top 1/5 of the ratio had waist to hip measures of 0.97 or higher for women and 1.01 or higher for men, indicating a waist roughly as big as the hips.”

Those in “the lowest 1/5 had ratios of less than 0.82 for women in less than 0.92 for men.”

The danger of too much belly fat, according to the researchers, is due to the “effects of inflammation, which in turn can lead to fibrosis in the heart muscle.” Additionally too much belly fat puts unneeded pressure on the kidneys which by the very nature of their makeup is one of our body’s fragile organs.

The take-home message here is to calculate your waist to hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Healthy numbers are:

  • “Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution.
  • Men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 1.0 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution. “ (1)

If it is too high then do something to alter it by changing your diet and getting more exercise.

(1) The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)).

200913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part two – Raisins

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part two – Raisins

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

In the majority of the world’s advanced nations, many avoidable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity could be prevented or at least decreased in number if their citizens would simply follow a healthier lifestyle. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day and eating nutritious foods would go a long way towards easing the healthcare costs and improving the lives of uncounted millions of people.

The effects of eating raisins on your blood pressure

Take for example the simple and tasty raisin; in ¼ cup (41 g) of seedless uncooked raisins, there are 120 calories, 0 fat and 0 cholesterol from any source, and only 5 mg of sodium. Additionally, each ¼ cup contains 18 g of high quality carbohydrates, (10% of the daily requirement), 2 g dietary fiber (6% of the daily requirement), and 1 g of protein. The potential downside to these healthy numbers is the fact that in this small amount of raisins you will also find 24 g of sugar. These percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Now that we know about the amount of raisins we are talking about, let us get back to what the researchers found in their clinical trial testing of the effects of eating raisins. They were looking at the effects on the blood pressure of those with prehypertension who ate a handful of raisins three times a day. This study, presented at an American College of Cardiology conference, showed that eating such a small amount of raisins each day “sharply reduced their blood pressure.”

The study compared snacking on cookies or crackers with raisins amongst forty-six participants, each with slightly elevated blood pressure. The individuals in the study had blood pressure levels between 120/80 up to 139/89 mmHg.

The results indicated that over the 12 weeks of the study those eating the raisins lowered their systolic (1) blood pressure , the top number, by as much as 10.2 mmHg. This would lead one to believe that in a number of cases, participants in the study would then have had normal blood pressure readings because the drop of 10.2 mmHg would have put them below the prehypertension numbers of 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 m.

The research group from the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center commented that raisins have a high potassium content approximately 212 mg in only 60 raisins. Potassium is noted for its ability to lower blood pressure.

Another contributing factor for raisins ability to lower blood pressure is the amount of dietary fiber, which in this case is one gram for 60 raisins along with their antioxidants. If you are concerned about the calorie content, consider this, 60 raisins or approximately an ounce contain about 85 calories.

(1) Systolic pressure is the force of blood in the arteries as the heart beats

180913 Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part one – Combining mental and physical activities to keep your cognitive abilities sharp

Healthy ideas that may be worth considering for a healthier life-part one – Combining mental and physical activities to keep your cognitive abilities sharp

Scientific research never ceases and constant investigations into what makes us healthy are no exception. Some of the recent research and subsequent reports result from observational studies. These observational studies were not designed to prove a cause and effect. Nonetheless, they still may point the way towards improving your health by decreasing your disease risk.

Some of these findings may already be common knowledge to you, whereas others may be a surprise. In any case, all of them may be worthwhile paying attention to in the future.

Combining mental and physical activities to keep your cognitive abilities sharp

If you are a health-conscious person, as many are, you are already aware that exercising both your body and mind can help keep your memories sharp as you age. A recent study out of the Mayo Clinic reinforced this synergistic mind body connection.

These researchers found that by combining mentally stimulating activities, in this case computer use, and moderate exercise, the participants decreased their odds of incurring memory loss more so than singling out either activity. The definition of moderate physical exercise, for the purposes of the study, is “brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise machines, and weightlifting.” They used the computer as an example of mental activity simply because it is a popular means of mental exertion used by this population sample.

In the study, researchers observed and tested 926 Minnesotans aged between 70 and 93. Each of these people completed questionnaires concerning the amount and time of their physical exercise and computer use.

The results indicated that the study participants who did not use a computer or exercise, 37.6% showed mild cognitive impairment signs and 20.1% remained cognitively normal. Of those who did both mental and physical exercise, they found that 36% were cognitively normal and only 18.3% were showing signs of cognitive impairment.

Based on the results, it certainly seems reasonable to stimulate your brain with mental activities and exercise to improve your physical health in order to provide a protective barrier for your memory during aging process.

160913 Lifting weights is associated with positive cognition and memory area changes in the brain

Lifting weights is associated with positive cognition and memory area changes in the brain

A new study, conducted by research scientists and led by Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD from the University of British Columbia stated, “exercise is a promising strategy for combating cognitive decline.” She pointed out that other studies have found aerobic and resistance training increase the cognitive ability in older adults and others with mild cognitive impairments. Nevertheless, she noted there is no data comparing the effectiveness of aerobic or resistance training to one another in helping seniors with mild cognitive impairment.

Not having this data makes it difficult to understand which of the two forms of exercise could be the most beneficial and according to Dr. Liu-Ambrose, “understanding this is crucial to using exercises as a strategy for altering the trajectory of cognitive decline in seniors with mild cognitive impairment.” Therefore, she and her researchers placed 86 women, aged 70 to 80, into three groups.

The groups were divided up thusly:

Group 1 trained twice a week both machines and free weights
Group 2 exercised with an outdoor walking program
Group 3 did only balance and stretching activities

Each person in the three groups was measured with the Stroop test. This is a standard cognitive test used to measure selective attention and the individual’s ability to deal with conflicting information. In the latter instance, it would mean being able to read out loud the word blue, when it is actually printed in red.

A secondary group of tests “measured the individuals working memory, associative memory, problem-solving,” “visual attention and task switching.”

The results of the six-month study found that even though the aerobic group got physically fitter and improved their balance while doing so they realized no increased cognitive benefits. However, those in the weightlifting group “significantly improved their average performance on the Stroop test and tests of associative memory.”

In fact, there were significant functional changes within the areas of the brain that were associated with cognitive and memory as noted in the MRI scans of 22 participants.

Dr. Liu concluded that the results of the study provided “novel evidence” that strength training provided the beneficial results for those individuals that were suffering mild cognitive impairment. She did caution that these results might be different when tested with men or women of a different age group.