Friday, December 24, 2010

Jon's Health Tips - Latest Health Research

I started the blog on which these reports are based largely to motivate myself to keep informed and to adapt healthier ways of life. Due to the fact that I was somewhat overweight, and that my father and grandfather had both died at the age of 65, I felt extra precautions were necessary. Ironically, none of the health measures I adopted protected me from my own major health crisis at the age of 65, although I have survived and a full recovery is expected. But as a result of this health crisis, I have fallen off the wagon on many of my health practices, some out of necessity, some out of an understandable need, or at least, desire, for self-indulgence, and some out of sheer indifference.

But now I'm ready to try to resume as much as I can of healthy behaviors. Ironically as well, one of my principal motivations, weight, is no longer much of an issue, because as a result of the health crisis I have lost over 30 pounds, at least temporarily. I hope I've faced this crisis with the right attitude - because if I have, apparently I can live to 100.

Here's my report on one month's worth of new health research (but see last note):

1. I have to start taking Vitamin D again, (despite the inconclusive report e. below) and within the limits of my slow recovery, get more exercise, although I probably still won't be lifting weights, although I should:

a. "Exercise and Vitamin D supplements are the best ways to reduce the risk of falling in people aged 65 and over."

b. "A one-year follow-up study on seniors who participated in a strength training exercise program shows sustained cognitive benefits as well as savings for the healthcare system."

c. "Impairments to health and physical performance are not primarily a result of aging but of unfavorable lifestyle habits and lack of exercise. Sporty elderly people have a life expectancy that is almost 4 years higher and are often faster than younger athletes."

d. "New research from Tel Aviv University has found that "endurance exercises," like a Central Park jog or a spinning class, can make us look younger. The key, exercise, unlocks the stem cells of our muscles."

e. "A large amount of evidence reviewed by the committee that wrote the report confirms the roles of calcium and vitamin D in promoting skeletal growth and maintenance and the amounts needed to avoid poor bone health. The committee also reviewed hundreds of studies and reports on other possible health effects of vitamin D, such as protection against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes. While these studies point to possibilities that warrant further investigation, they have yielded conflicting and mixed results and do not offer the evidence needed to confirm that vitamin D has these effects."

f. "Walking may slow cognitive decline in adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease, as well as in healthy adults."

2. One thing I have kept up, and am very happy I have, is my statin intake:

"Statin therapy is associated with reduced postoperative mortality. Preoperative uses of statins have demonstrated major cardiac and non-cardiac protective effects, including in this study. "

3. I have to be more careful about what I eat again ( although my wife still doesn't let me eat garlic):

a. Fats vs. Carbs: Debate Continues on the Sources of America’s Dietary Ills

b. "Eating a Southern staple, fried fish, could be one reason people in Alabama and across the "stroke belt" states are more likely than other Americans to die of a stroke."

c. "A new study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that those with healthy diets really do to live longer and feel better...Older adults who follow current dietary guidelines to consume relatively high amounts of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish are more likely to have better nutritional status, higher quality of life and better survival than those who do not follow these guidelines."

d. High Dietary Fat, Cholesterol Linked to Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer

e. Garlic, onions and leeks, protect against hip osteoarthritis

4. I'm not ready to drink three glasses of milk a day or drink beetroot juice ( I almost threw up last time I tried it) but I do plan to eat more beets:

a. "Drinking three glasses of milk per day may lead to an 18% decreased risk of cardiovascular disease."

b. "New research into the health benefits of beetroot juice suggests it's not only athletes who can benefit from its performance enhancing properties – its physiological effects could help the elderly .. enjoy more active lives. Beetroot juice has been one of the biggest stories in sports science over the past year after researchers ...found it enables people to exercise for up to 16% longer. The startling results have led to a host of athletes – from Premiership footballers to professional cyclists – looking into its potential uses."

5. I don't take echinea, nor do I plan to, but if I did this report would not stop me:

Echinea may reduce common-cold duration by only half a day

6. No more overripe bananas or grapes? I'll miss them! This link is well worth reading:

" With a diet that is high in proteins with more lean meat, low-fat dairy products and beans and fewer finely refined starch calories such as white bread and white rice, most people can eat until they are full without counting calories and without gaining weight." But there are some provisos -

Some types of fruit may be consumed ad libitum, (freely) such as apples, pears, oranges, raspberries and strawberries. Other types should be eaten in only very limited amounts, including bananas (especially overripe bananas), grapes, kiwi, pineapple and melon. Nearly all vegetables are permitted, with the exception of corn, which should be limited. Carrots, beets and parsnip should preferably be eaten raw.

With regard to cereal-based foods (bread, grain, corn, hulled grains and breakfast products), the goal is to eat as many coarse and wholegrain foods as possible, i.e. wholegrain breads with many kernels, wholegrain pasta, whole oats and the special varieties of wholegrain cornflakes

Potatoes should be cooked as little as possible. Try to stick to new potatoes, and it is a good idea to eat them cold. Avoid mashed potatoes and baked potatoes.

Pasta should be cooked al dente and is best eaten cold.

I'll certainly be eating my parsnips raw from now on!

7. I'm going to resume drinking lots of green tea despite one inconclusive report. One of my readers has suggested frozen blueberries out of season - I need to check into that:

a. "Tea has long been regarded as an aid to good health, and many believe it can help reduce the risk of cancer. Most studies of tea and cancer prevention have focused on green tea. Although tea and/or tea polyphenols have been found in animal studies to inhibit tumorigenesis at different organ sites, including the skin, lung, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, pancreas, and mammary gland, the results of human studies—both epidemiologic and clinical studies—have been inconclusive."

b. "Eating purple fruits such as blueberries and drinking green tea can help ward off diseases including Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's."

8. I won't resume drinking cranberry juice:

"Drinking cranberry juice has been recommended to decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections, based on observational studies and a few small clinical trials. However, a new study published in the January 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, and now available online, suggests otherwise."

9. I'm going to try to check ingredient lists for amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup:

"Science shows us there is a potentially negative impact of excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on cardiovascular and kidney health."

10. I need to check with my doctor before I can resume taking aspirin:

a. "A daily low dose of aspirin significantly reduces the number of deaths from a whole range of common cancers, an Oxford University study has found."

b. How Aspirin Works To Prevent Heart Attacks

11. I have started drinking red wine again, but not yet daily:

a. "A fascinating study shows that although the French drink more than the Northern Irish each week, as they drink daily, rather than more on less occasions, the French suffered from considerably less coronary heart disease than the Northern Irish."

b. Moderate alcohol consumption lowers the risk of metabolic diseases

12. I need to start eating more fish and taking fish oil again:

Omega-3s in fish, seafood may protect seniors' eyes

Tell me this isn't depressing news:

In an effort to pinpoint potential triggers leading to inflammatory responses that eventually contribute to depression, researchers are taking a close look at the immune system of people living in today's cleaner modern society.

Rates of depression in younger people have steadily grown to outnumber rates of depression in the older populations and researchers think it may be because of a loss of healthy bacteria.

In an article published in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, Emory neuroscientist Charles Raison, MD, and colleagues say there is mounting evidence that disruptions in ancient relationships with microorganisms in soil, food and the gut may contribute to the increasing rates of depression.

According to the authors, the modern world has become so clean, we are deprived of the bacteria our immune systems came to rely on over long ages to keep inflammation at bay.

Have you noticed that some reputed health benefits do not stand up after additional scrutiny?

This disturbing report in the New Yorker may explain the reason:

The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. But now all sorts of well-established, multiply confirmed findings have started to look increasingly uncertain. It’s as if our facts are losing their truth...

The disturbing implication of this study is that a lot of extraordinary scientific data is nothing but noise. This suggests that the decline effect is actually a decline of illusion...The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything

So take everything I say here, and I'm only reporting on current research, with a grain of salt (but no more - salt isn't good for your blood pressure - or is it?)

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