Health Tips Archive

Four Foods to Reduce Cognitive Decline?

healthy brain food

A variety of physical changes in the aging brain can trigger cognitive impairment and memory loss. Age-related thinning of the cerebral cortex, a decrease in the production of neurotransmitters (the brain?s ?chemical messengers?) and the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles and plaques in the brain can all compromise cognitive ability.

Factors contributing to these physical changes can include?chronic inflammation, declining hormones, oxidative stress and arterial dysfunction. Lifestyle issues ? such as obesity, overweight, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and physical and chronic emotional stress ? can also set the stage for age-related cognitive impairment.

Fortunately, dietary, nutritional supplement and lifestyle modifications can significantly slow cognitive decline and may even help to restore function and memory ? without the need for toxic medications.?Of course, as always, we like to suggest that you seek the advice of a trusted, integrative physician to see what?s best for you. Having said that: let?s take a closer look at some good ideas.

Count on cucumbers

Mildly-flavored and refreshing, the humble?cucumber turns out to have potent powers?to promote brain health. Studies have shown that cucumbers are rich in a flavonoid called fisetin, which prevents memory loss and age-related cognitive decline.

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One study showed that cognitive improvements due to fisetin took place despite the continued formation of amyloid plaques (which are strongly associated with Alzheimer?s disease). In other words, cucumbers benefited cognitive function despite physical manifestations of neurodegenerative disease being present in the brain.

Sharpen up the brain by eating strawberries

Like cucumbers, these tasty berries are packed with fisetin ? as well as with a complement of healthful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols.?Eating strawberries?has been shown to cause reduction in memory decline.

In fact, a study from Brigham and Women?s Hospital showed that older women who ate at least a cup of strawberries per week delayed cognitive aging by up to two and a half years ? an impressive finding. Naturally, it?s a good idea to buy organic foods ? as often as possible ? to lower your burden of toxins.

Grab some grapes to lower brain stress

Grapes ? especially the purple and red varieties ? are high in anthocyanins, antioxidant natural plant pigments that can help fight oxidative stress in the brain. But their most important weapon against cognitive decline may be their content of resveratrol ? a phenolic antioxidant molecule also found in red wine.

With known anti-aging effects, resveratrol has been shown in studies to optimizes overall brain metabolism and function. In one double-blind study, dosages of resveratrol ranging from 250 to 500 mg a day were shown to enhance working and spatial memory in older adults.

Bank on blueberries

When it comes to protecting against cognitive decline,?blueberries really do reign supreme among superfoods. Extensive and well-documented studies show that blueberries reduce oxidative stress, stimulate the growth of new neurons in the brain, and Improve learning, memory and overall cognitive performance.

If it?s not possible to obtain fresh berries ? no worries. Experts say that extracts, and powdered and frozen versions, are just as potent as their fresh counterparts ? if not more.

As we age, a certain amount of minor cognitive decline is normal ? and inevitable. But the above nutrients can help slow and minimize its development, potentially preserving sharp mental function well into your ?senior? years.

9 Tips for Better Sleep

The exciting research in sleep science nowadays comes from labs studying the effects of sleep on the brain and what happens when you deprive your brain of restorative sleep. New research suggests that sleeping less than seven to eight hours a night risks memory loss, cognitive decline, and even Alzheimer?s disease.

If you regularly struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, improving sleep habits can restore a restful night?s sleep. Following are a few tips for improving sleep:

  • Don?t eat a heavy meal or drink a lot of liquid close to bedtime.
  • Reduce or eliminate stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine during the day and alcohol in the evening.
  • Exercise regularly but early in the day, not within several hours of bedtime.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking at the same time each day, including weekends. Avoid naps or limit them to 30 minutes; don?t nap after 3:00 PM.
  • Keep your room cooler than during the day.
  • Use a fan or noise machine to mask distracting sounds. Try room-darkening shades if morning light wakes you too early. Wind down for 30 minutes before going to bed. Do something relaxing, like reading or listening to quiet music (not watching a screen).
  • If you can?t fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something relaxing for 20 minutes, or until you feel sleepy.
  • Sleeping on your side, particularly on your left side, may improve circulation while you sleep.
  • Don?t use a computer, tablet or smart phone right before going to bed! The light from the screen stimulates the brain and makes it hard to fall asleep.

Sleep is important for overall health and especially for brain function. Now, as scientists uncover the mechanisms at work, the opportunity exists to make great strides in preventing and treating cognitive decline and degenerative disease.

Alex Dimitriu, MD, is double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and is the founder of the Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine Center in Menlo Park, CA. doctoralex.com

Bowel Movements are the Best Indicators about Your Health

cartoon of man sitting on toilet

Bowel movements, while considered taboo in polite conversation, are actually one of the best indicators of your overall health. Gabriel Neal, MD, family medicine doctor and clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, explains what your personal time in the restroom could say about your health and why you should pay more attention before you flush.

Why are bowel movements important?

Since the day you were born, you had to eat, breathe, and excrete waste in order to survive. These are the only things in life that are as guaranteed as death and taxes, and what we put into our bodies greatly impacts our bodies? natural waste management system.

?When we eat and digest food, our body takes in nutrition, and it needs to expel from the body the leftovers that aren?t properly absorbed,? Neal said. ?This is what keeps the body functioning properly and efficiently.?

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Our bowel movements are typically made up of organic matter, good bacteria, and bile?a chemical from the liver that helps digest fat?that our body no longer needs and thus, must be removed.

What are normal bowel movements?

The good news about your bowel movements is that if it feels comfortable, then everything is likely going well.

?Normal bowel movements are relatively soft but dense,? Neal said. ?They should be any shade of brown or green.? Typically, the food you eat takes three days from consumption to become waste. If the stool is on the greener side, it may have taken a shorter time to digest, but it?s generally no cause for concern.

Although people may see slight changes in the frequency of their bowel movements or even a change in consistency, if everything feels well, then it?s likely just fine. Think about it?maybe you ate something that didn?t agree with your stomach, or perhaps you were a little dehydrated. These and many other routine factors can change the color, size, frequency, and consistency of your stool.

Bathroom habits: How to know if something isn?t quite right
>> Frequency

Many people will experience problems during bowel movements. However, one of the common problems people experience happens before they even make it to the restroom.

?If you?re having bowel movements three times per week or less, then that is the common definition of constipation,? Neal said. ?On the other side, more than six times per day for adults is too much.?

If your digestive clock suddenly goes from three times a week to three times a day, then that could be a sign of underlying conditions. ?Don?t ignore a significant change in bowel movement patterns,? Neal said. ?In terms of frequency or their form.?

>> Odor

If your bowel movements leave your housemates running for cover, then that can be a sign of food not digesting properly. Undigested food reaches the colon and starts a fermentation process that turns sugar into gas?which can produce foul-smelling stool.

A healthy digestive system will break down food in your small intestine and likely not have as much food left to reach the colon to begin the fermentation process. Talk to your health care provider if something seems off. You may have a food intolerance or sensitivity that needs to be addressed.

>> Color

There are also many different pathogens, both viral and bacterial, in the digestive tract that could lead to stool discoloration, diarrhea, or blood in the stool; and the color of the blood can help your provider determine where the infection might be.

?If an infection is in the lower intestines or colon, then the blood in your stool is going to be red,? Neal said. ?If you find black blood, then the blood has oxidized and is from higher up in your digestive tract, such as the stomach or upper intestines.?

People suffering from gallbladder disease can sometimes have white stools, so if you ever notice white bowel movements, contact your health care provider.

Discussing your bathroom habits with your health care provider can be an awkward topic, but it may be necessary. If there are concerns about going to the bathroom, Neal recommends addressing them head on.

?If bowel movements hurt, are frequently strained, or just look or feel different, then these problems should be addressed,? Neal said. ?Your provider can discuss changes that need to be made in your nutritional habit or even recommend some medication to help.?

Quick tips: Improving bowel movements

If your bowel movements have been more strenuous or frequent than usual, then your solution may be as simple as a glass of water or some added fiber.

?Hydration is very important to having more regular and healthy bowel movements,? Neal said. ?Fiber absorbs water from the lining of your colon and makes your stool easier to pass.?

A well-balanced diet is the best way to keep your bathroom visits less stressful. Someone whose diet consists of mostly carbohydrates, starches, and protein can be missing out on fiber-rich vegetables?such as broccoli, peas, or Brussels sprouts?that can improve their digestive system.

Insoluble fibers, such as those found in vegetables, beans, and legumes, are not broken down by the body, so it passes through your system and softens your stool.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories consumed. So someone who is consuming 2000 calories per day should be eating about 28 grams of fiber per day.

?Bowel movements are natural and will happen throughout your entire life,? Neal said. ?It?s important to have an open discussion with your physician to make sure your digestive system is working most efficiently.?

 

About Texas A&M Health Science Center

Texas A&M Health Science Center is Transforming Health through innovative research, education and service in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical sciences. As an independent state agency and academic unit of Texas A&M University, the health science center serves the state through campuses in Bryan-College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi and McAllen. Learn more at?vitalrecord.tamhsc.edu?or follow @TAMHSC on Twitter.

Transparency and Responsibility: Using CBD Oil

Cannabis is more than a cash crop, as the plant contains a wealth of medicinal benefits and a bounty of scientific information. The value of these things is neither a product of inflation nor inflated rhetoric. What is overinflated are the claims by the unscrupulous, whose obsession with profits comes at the expense of the spirit of science; whose gains cost an individual his integrity?and consume his soul?because he seeks to conquer the world by cornering the market; whose lack of vision causes so many businesses to perish.

We cannot afford to have greed compromise the strides of a multi-billion dollar industry. Nor can we allow the absence of standards to be standard operating procedure, since the bad actions of one can destroy the good?and the physical goods themselves?of so many.

We must be transparent in our words and in our deeds, so there is no doubt about the all-natural properties of cannabis-related items like CBD oil.

Why is transparency so important to the extraction and sale of CBD oil?

Transparency is an example of ethical behavior. You do not have to reveal trade secrets to be transparent, but you must not be secretive about the ingredients you use or the process by which you extract or acquire those ingredients.

If you do no more than the law requires, if you think your actions are just because the law does not deem them illegal, think again; because it should not take an act of Congress to compel you to do the right thing; because acts of omission can be as harmful as acts of commission; because what a company does not tell consumers?what it withholds from the public?invites suspicion not only about itself but about the cannabis industry in its entirety.

I do not want poor oversight to blind companies to the necessity of leadership. I do not want to see progress stall and opportunities stagnate, because a few bad seeds (pun very much intended) can spoil fields of fruitful research and abundant discoveries.

What are the risks regarding excessive promotion about CBD oil?

The risks are as avoidable as the consequences are inevitable. That is, if companies make claims they cannot substantiate, if the claims are too extreme to retract, if a retraction would create a negative chain reaction among consumers?if some or all of these things were to happen, it would be a great setback to the cannabis industry. It would likely result in fines and penalties by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The difference is in the details; which is to say if you assert what you cannot prove?and assert what the law does not allow you to say?you do a disservice to consumers; you ignore the rules concerning compliance.

What should consumers know about an all-natural brand of CBD oil?

At a minimum, they should know who runs a brand. Personalization is essential to establishing a relationship with consumers. A brand must express its virtues by stating its values: It must engage consumers by means of conversation, not advertising or mass marketing alone.

An all-natural product is a child, so to speak, of Mother Nature. Let consumers know about the glories of the environment, in addition to protecting these gifts from neglect, misuse, and/or abuse.

What is your forecast about the CBD products in general?

The industry enjoys massive growth. Its sustainability depends on the leadership of entrepreneurs and executives, whose candor we should welcome and whose comments we should invite. The more communicative these individuals are, the stronger the cannabis industry will be.

A caveat: Communication should be a source of clarity, not confusion. Judge a company not by how often it speaks but by how soundly it speaks to the needs of consumers. Judge it by its record, not simply its reputation.

What else should consumers know, or expect companies to know and discuss, involving CBD oil?

Consumers should know that a responsible company is proactive; that the responsibility of a company is to hold itself to account; that consumers should not have to uncover the truth; that the truth is (or must be) on the packaging?and in the ingredients?of the CBD oil they buy and use.

Dick Benson, Editorial Director

 

Seven Tips For A Healthier Thanksgiving

Image of a family participating in a turkey trot

Georgia Giannopoulos, RD-AP, CDN, CNSC, manager of health & well-being at New York-Presbyterian, shares tips for a healthy Thanksgiving:

? Take a Trot: Go for a walk, turkey trot, or bicycle ride outdoors on Thanksgiving morning if the weather is nice. If your physical activity is limited, consider sitting outside for a few minutes or sitting by a window to enjoy the fall foliage.

? Pack a Snack: If you are traveling, bring healthy snacks with you for the road and/or plane to save time (and money) and ensure that you do not have to go long periods of time without food.

? Substitute Salt: To reduce the amount of sodium in recipes, use herbs and spices instead of salt. For example, parsley, rosemary, thyme and/or sage pair well with turkey.

? Counting Carbs: For fewer carbohydrates, opt for a baked sweet potato instead of marshmallowed sweet potatoes, which are often made with added brown sugar.

? Watch the Labels: When it comes to foods that may have been sitting in the refrigerator or pantry for too long, be mindful of food safety guidelines. No one wants to get food poisoning any day, especially on a holiday! Not sure if a food is still safe to eat? Check the expiration date, and when in doubt, throw it out.

? What if I?m a Vegetarian?: Many of the Bs and Cs are in season in November, and make wonderful additions to a Thanksgiving meal including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and three of my favorites: beets, brussels sprouts and collard greens.

? Gluten-Free Options: Thanksgiving staples like turkey, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts are naturally gluten-free, but sometimes they?re mixed with gluten-containing ingredients or prepped in a kitchen where there?s cross-contamination. For a safe gluten-free option, bring your favorite gluten-free dish to share!

Crucial tips for Food Safety

Image of brown eggs identifying food safety

November is National Diabetes Month. The?U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?reminds people with diabetes (and those preparing food for them) about the importance of safe food handling in preventing foodborne illness.

Learn about safe selection and preparation of foods for people with diabetes in the free booklet?Food Safety for People with Diabetes.

Food Safety for People with Diabetes

Practicing food safety is critical because diabetes can affect the function of various organs and systems of the body, making those living with this disease more susceptible to infections and pathogens that cause foodborne illness (often called “food poisoning”). When persons with diabetes contract a foodborne illness, they are more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. This increased risk is why food choices and safe food handling are critical in managing this chronic disease.

Make Wise Food Choices

Some foods are more risky for people with diabetes because they are more likely to contain harmful bacteria or viruses. In general, these foods fall into two categories:

  • Uncooked?fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Some animal products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk; soft cheeses made with raw milk; raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish; luncheon meats; improperly reheated hot dogs; and salads prepared in a store or food establishment containing animal products such as seafood, ham, or chicken.

Follow the Four Steps to Food Safety

Anyone who is diabetic or who prepares food for people with diabetes should also carefully follow these steps:

  • CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.
  • SEPARATE:?Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • COOK:?to the right temperatures. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.?Safe Minimal Internal Temperatures charts.
  • CHILL:?foods promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees F or below and the freezer temperature is 0 degrees F or below.

Know the Symptoms

Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache, and body ache).

Take Action

If you think that you or a family member has a foodborne illness,?contact your healthcare provider immediately.