“Boost Your Brain” to reduce risk of Dementia

“Boost Your Brain” to reduce risk of Dementia

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends how to “Boost Your Brain” to reduce the risk of dementia

July 17, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, all of us deal with physical challenges as we age.  The one that terrifies me is the possibility of disappearing into dementia.  Are there any ways to “Boost Your Brain” to cut the risk of Dementia?”  

A: I hear you.  Some researchers predict that as many as 13 percent of us will develop Alzheimer’s.  However, that need not be inevitable, even if some in your family history have suffered from dementia. 

Good news coming from the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles earlier this month is that choosing a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.  According to Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist who specializes in Alzheimer’s disease, “Regardless of how much genetic risk someone had, a good diet, adequate exercise, limiting alcohol, and not smoking made dementia less likely.”

This conclusion was based on studying nearly 200,000 people in England.  Head researcher was Dr. Elzbieta Kuzma at the University of Exeter Medical School in England.  The study focused on people age 60 or older of European ancestry, so “it’s not known whether the same is true for other racial or ethnic groups.”

An article entitled Boost Your Brain,” by Paula Spencer Scott, appeared in the July 14 edition of “Parade,” in the Sunday newspapers.  The subtitle was, “It’s never too early – or too late! – to whip your brain into shape and fight cognitive decline.” 

Here are some of the tips she shared to “Boost Your Brain” and reduce the risk of dementia:

  • DRINK MORE WATER – “The brain is 80 percent water, “says neuroscientist Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D., Person power walking to cut risk of dementiaauthor of Brain Food. Even mild dehydration can affect brain function.

  • GET YOUR HEART THUMPING – “Even a 10-minute walk or bike ride changes how parts of the brain connect and perform.”

  • FEED YOUR HEAD – Eat more plant foods and fewer processed foods. “To reduce inflammation, eat within a 12-hour window, says Michael Crupain, M.D., co-author of What to Eat When.”

  • MIND YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE – “In a 2018 trial, keeping systolic pressure under 120 best protected the brain.”

  • SEEK HELP FOR SLEEP PROBLEMS – “If you’re not falling asleep fast, getting seven to eight hours, and rising refreshed, there may be an issue, like sleep apnea (now strongly linked with dementia), you need to address.

Most of these are simple things we can do to live a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of dementia.  The benefits are worth it.

These articles give even more credence to my usual sign-off:

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Do We Need a Survival Kit?

Do We Need a Survival Kit?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…Do we need a survival kit?

July 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, hearing about the recent earthquakes in southern California reminded me that the same jolting experience could happen here.  Do we need a survival kit? What items would we need in case of an earthquake or other emergency where we would need to evacuate our homes?

A: That’s a very timely question!  We found a suggested “readiness kit” list from FEMA posted by Pleasanton Patch.  Some of us feel that we do need a survival kit and have begun gathering items to store in the trunks of our cars (in case we have to evacuate our homes), but we tend to forget to update and refresh them.  Here are some items to consider storing:

  • WATER: A gallon per day per person for three daysDo we need a survival kit? Full backpack with water bottle sitting on log at sunrise

  • FOOD: 3-day supply of non-perishable items (including for pets)

  • FLASHLIGHT, radio, batteries, and cell phone charger

  • FIRST-AIDE KIT and medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter)

  • BATTERYBACK-UP power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs

  • CLOTHING and blankets

  • WHISTLE (to signal for help)

  • FIRE EXTINGUISHER

  • CASH (in case ATMs are not working after an earthquake)

Now is a good time to check to see if the batteries or food you have stored away need replacing.  Let’s hope we never need to use our “readiness kits”!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

What Do We Need in a Survival Kit?

What Do We Need in a Survival Kit?

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…What Do We Need in a Survival Kit?

July 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, hearing about the recent earthquakes in southern California reminded me that the same jolting experience could happen here.  Do we need a survival kit? What items would we need in case of an earthquake or other emergency where we would need to evacuate our homes?

A: That’s a very timely question!  We found a suggested “survival kit” list from FEMA posted by Pleasanton Patch.  Some of us feel that we do need a survival kit and have begun gathering items to store in the trunks of our cars (in case we have to evacuate our homes), but we tend to forget to update and refresh them.  Here are some items to consider storing in your survival kit:

  • WATER: A gallon per day per person for three daysDo we need a survival kit? Full backpack with water bottle sitting on log at sunrise

  • FOOD: 3-day supply of non-perishable items (including pet foods)

  • FLASHLIGHT, radio, batteries, and cell phone charger 

  • FIRST-AIDE KIT and medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter) 

  • BATTERY BACK-UP power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen, and other assistive technology needs 

  • CLOTHING and blankets

  • WHISTLE (to signal for help)

  • FIRE EXTINGUISHER

  • CASH (in case ATMs are not working after an earthquake)

Now is a good time to check to see if the batteries or food you have stored away need replacing.  Let’s hope we never need to use our “survival kits”!

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

How to Reduce Belly Fat

How to Reduce Belly Fat

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

July 2019

 

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, with each passing year, I seem to be adding to my padding…particularly in my middle.  Do you have suggestions for how to reduce belly fat?

A: You certainly are not alone in the so-called “battle of the bulge!”  Extra padding around your midsection could increase your risk of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

As you undoubtedly know, all physical activity will burn fuel in the muscles. Sometimes that fuel is converted fat, which will result in fat and weight loss, if not replaced in our nutrition plans. Remember, Energy Balance means consumption and use of calories are equal. To lose fat, Energy Balance has to be negative (more activity than eating, to simplify it).

The caveat:  When Energy Balance is negative and we burn fat in the muscles, we can’t direct where that fat comes from. If we have enough negative energy balance days that significant fat is burned as fuel, belly fat should be reduced, also.

 A recent article in parade.com had the following suggestions for winning the “battle of the bulge”:

  • TAKE A NATURE BREAK – “According to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, strolling or sitting for 20 minutes in nature significantly lowers cortisol levels and help reduce belly fat. High levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, stimulate production of glucose, which – if it’s not used as energy – is converted into fat that’s stored in your midsection.”

  • STAND UP – “The more time people spend sitting down during the day, the more abdominal fat they had, according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity….The link was strongest for those who didn’t get the recommended weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity.” Standing while working for part of your day will help reduce belly fat.

  • EXERCISE IN INTERVALS – “While any type of Goup of people out for a brisk walk to reduce belly fat and improve healthcardio will burn fat, research shows you’re more likely to trim your tummy doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a type of workout where you alternate exerting maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise with short, active recovery periods, says Wayne Westcott, PhD, professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. In one study, people who did two traditional ‘steady-state’ workouts and two HIIT workouts a week lost more weight overall and significantly more inches from their waistline, compared to the group that did only steady-state routines.”

  • EAT MORE PULSES – “The umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas, pulses have been shown to reduce body fat. Regular eaters have smaller waist measurements and overall 20 percent lower risk of obesity, says Cynthia Sass, RD.”

  • START STRENGTH TRAINING – At any age, adding weights to your workout can help you manage (and reduce belly fat) your middle, Westcott reports…To gain muscle, Westcott recommends strength training at least twice a week.”

  • CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS – “Higher levels of body fat are associated with lower vitamin D levels in people who are overweight, according to a recent study in the Netherlands….You can boost levels naturally by eating more fatty fish like salmon and eating D-fortified dairy products, orange juice or cereal.”

Try any or all of these techniques to keep help to reduce belly fat and “adding to your padding.”

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Hot Weather and Food Poisoning

Hot Weather and Food Poisoning

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I have been invited to a potluck dinner in a local park.  But I am concerned about the hot weather and food poisoning?

A: You have reason to be wary:  More people get food poisoning in the hot weather of summertime than at any other season, according to the Department of Agriculture.  Here are some ways to prevent this from affecting you and your friends, as suggested by Consumer Reports on Health (July 2019, CR.org/crh):

PLAN YOUR GROCERY RUN – Avoid potential food poisoning, especially in hot weather, starting with how you navigate the grocery store.

  • “Pick up perishables, such as dairy and meat, right before you hit the check-out line to reduce the risk of them spoiling.”
  • “At check-out, make sure that frozen and cold items are packed in the same bag, which will help everything stay cool. But be sure to pack meat and seafood separately to keep them from contaminating other foods.”
  • “Don’t transport your groceries in the trunk; put them inside your car where it’s air-conditioned. If you won’t be going straight home after shopping, use a cooler or an insulated bag to stash meat and other perishables.”

ORGANIZE YOUR COOLERS – “Wrap meats tightly before placing it in a cooler to keep any juices from contaminating the other food, or put it in a separate cooler.”

  • “At an outdoor gathering, don’t leave perishable food in the same cooler as beverages. People will be opening and closing the ice chest frequently, and that can raise the temperature inside the cooler.”

GRILL SAFELY – “Keep knives, tongs, and platters you use for raw meat away Hot weather and food poisoning of BBQ Foodsfrom cooked food. If you’re cooking kebabs, use different skewers for meat and vegetables so that you can be sure the meat is cooked to the right temperature without burning the veggies.

  • “Use a meat thermometer, even for burgers, because you can’t judge the done-ness of meat or poultry by color.”
  • “Don’t partially cook meat at home and then take it to a picnic or barbecue to finish cooking. Half-cooked meat can be warm enough to encourage bacterial growth but not hot enough to kill the bacteria.”

KEEP AN EYE ON MORE THAN JUST MEAT – To avoid food poisoning, “Prepared food should not be left outside of a refrigerator or cooler longer than 2 hours (or an hour if the temperature is higher than 90 degrees F).”

  • “That goes for every element of your meal, from a crudité platter to grilled chicken. You might think you can get sick only from meat or dairy, but other food items can be host to dangerous bacteria as well.” (Examples include cooked rice and pasta.  Keep them chilled until serving, or serve by setting them in a bowl of ice.)

BE CAUTIOUS AT THE FARMERS MARKET – “Buy from vendors who wear disposable gloves to handle food – and who change them when they move between raw and ready-to-eat or cooked foods, or when they stop handling foods for such tasks as accepting cash.”

  • “Buy meat and eggs only if they have been stored in coolers or otherwise refrigerated.”
  • “Don’t buy raw milk or raw milk products. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says they’re some of the riskiest foods.”

Sharing food at picnics or barbecues can be one of the greatest pleasures of summertime.  By taking a few precautions, you can make sure that these happy events won’t be followed by the misery of food poisoning. 

If you would like to see more Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends articles go to the World Walk To Wellness website.

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Eating Fruit has Many Health Benefits

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

June 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, what are the health benefits of eating fruit?

A: According to Consumer Reports on Health, we should be eating 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit daily. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that only 12 percent of Americans meet that goal. Here are some reasons why we should strive to become part of that 12%:

BOOST ANTIOXIDANTS – “An antioxidant is a substance that protects cells from plate of fruit with health benefitsdamage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules created during the process of oxidation during normal metabolism. Free radicals may play a role in the development of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.” One form of prevention seems to be eating brightly colored fruit, especially those that are red and purple. Think berries, plums, and cherries. These will give you “the biggest antioxidant bang for the bite.” Citrus fruits, apricots, cantaloupe, and apples have different antioxidants, so eating several varieties is a good strategy, according to Jeffrey Blumberg, Ph.D., a research professor at Tufts University in Boston.

RAISE YOUR POTASSIUM – “Potassium helps your body’s nerves and muscles, including your heart, work properly.… Eating foods that contain more potassium and less salt can help control high blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.” Bananas, cantaloupe, and peaches are very good sources of potassium.

FIGHT DISEASE – “Adding a small apple a day to your diet…may reduce the risk of stroke by about 42 percent, according to a study published in the journal Stroke…. “Tart and sweet cherries can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially benefiting people with diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions.”

INCREASE FIBER – “Fiber is linked to improved digestion as well as reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. It also can help you eat less.” High fiber fruits include guava, blackberries, raspberries, pears, and kiwifruit. (By contrast, fruit juice has very little or none.)

CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR – “When health experts say to eat less sugar, they’re talking about added sugars like those found in cakes, cookies, and soft drinks. But some people [mistakenly] think that the ‘eat less sugar’ directive applies to fruit, too.” The fiber contained in fruit “minimizes the effect that fruit’s natural sugars have on blood sugar levels.” A 2016 report “found that eating fruit, especially berries, lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes.” low-sugar fruits include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and starfruit.

The article makes clear that enjoying a variety of fruit may be very good for one’s health. Fruit is a healthy way to satisfy a craving for something sweet. Take advantage of the fresh fruit you admire at the farmers’ markets and invest in their health benefits.

 

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, AND SLEEP WELL TO BE WELL.