Archive for the 'Lifestyle' Category

High Heels Effect on Calves

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2010) — When it comes to shoes, some women will go through hell for a pair of Jimmy Choos. But what effect does wearing high heels have on our bodies? Clinicians have known for a long time that if you hold a limb in a shortened position over an extended period, the muscles shorten. High-heeled shoes push our heels up, which made Marco Narici from Manchester Metropolitan University wonder whether wearing heels on a regular basis could shorten our calf muscles.

According to Narici, there was some anecdotal evidence that something changed because secretaries in the 1950s complained about discomfort when they took their heels off and walked flat-footed. “I thought it was an experiment which was inadvertently being done by women. What we could do was test high heel wearers to see if we could find some changes in the calf muscle,” says Narici, who publishes his results on 16 July 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Biology

more via Science Daily

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Nuts lower cholesterol

 

Eating nuts may help lower cholesterol levels, US research suggests.

The review of 25 studies, involving nearly 600 people, showed eating on average 67g of nuts – a small bag – a day reduced cholesterol levels by 7.4%.

The US Loma Linda University team believes nuts may help prevent the absorption of cholesterol.

UK experts said the research showed nuts were an important part of a healthy diet, but warned against eating nuts covered in sugar or salt.

Previous work has indicated eating nuts regularly is beneficial, but the Archives of Internal Medicine study set out to put an accurate figure on the effect.

The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects

Lead researcher Joan Sabate

The people involved ate 67g of nuts a day on average, over a period of three to eight weeks.

As well as improving cholesterol levels, it also reduced the amount of triglyceride, a type of blood fat that has been linked to heart disease.

more via BBC News – Eating nuts can lower cholesterol, say experts.

via Nuts lower cholesterol.

Mosquitos like beer drinkers

Are you a mosquito magnet?  The cure may be worse than the problem but according to this research, perhaps you should cut out beer drinking.

from the Body in Mind blog

 

Malaria and alcohol consumption both represent major public health problems. Alcohol consumption is rising in developing countries and, as efforts to manage malaria are expanded, understanding the links between malaria and alcohol consumption becomes crucial. Our aim was to ascertain the effect of beer consumption on human attractiveness to malaria mosquitoes in semi field conditions in Burkina Faso.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We used a Y tube-olfactometer designed to take advantage of the whole body odour (breath and skin emanations) as a stimulus to gauge human attractiveness to Anopheles gambiae (the primary African malaria vector) before and after volunteers consumed either beer (n = 25 volunteers and a total of 2500 mosquitoes tested) or water (n = 18 volunteers and a total of 1800 mosquitoes). Water consumption had no effect on human attractiveness to An. gambiae mosquitoes, but beer consumption increased volunteer attractiveness. Body odours of volunteers who consumed beer increased mosquito activation (proportion of mosquitoes engaging in take-off and up-wind flight) and orientation (proportion of mosquitoes flying towards volunteers’ odours). The level of exhaled carbon dioxide and body temperature had no effect on human attractiveness to mosquitoes. Despite individual volunteer variation, beer consumption consistently increased attractiveness to mosquitoes.

via Don’t Drink in the Dark.

9 Little Known Secrets to Living Past 90

Here is a solid list of ways to live healthier and longer.  Please note that with the exception of  Genes, the other eight “secrets” are ones that we can choose.

from the Nursetini blog

There are some secrets to living longer. Many scientists have studied those who live the longest, looking to find similarities. Here are nine secrets that can help you live past the age of 90:

DNA

  1. Genes: One of the factors that figures into longevity is your genetic make up. Even though non-genetic factors are involved in living longer, the presence of certain genes might actually boost your chances. It was also found that siblings of centenarians were four times more likely to live past the age of 90 than those who had no siblings live so long. But, even though genes can help, they aren’t everything. Indeed, some scientists believe that longevity depends more on non-genetic factors. So, even if your family doesn’t have a history of living past 90, it doesn’t mean you won’t. Just make sure you make up for it with healthier practices.
  2. eat fewer caloriesEat fewer calories: One of the biggest Americans have is that they eat too much. Of course, what Americans eat does make a difference, but they should be eating fewer calories in general. Indeed, eating too much, and gaining weight, puts strain on your heart — and that’s even before the arteries clog up and you have a heart attack. If you cut back on calories, you can extend your life. Indeed, research from the International Longevity Center – USA finds that animals fed fewer calories live about 40% longer than those fed a great deal more calories. JAMA suggests that you should eat 25% fewer calories than you are now, if you want a better chance of living to 90. So, consider how much you are eating, and consider reducing your portion sizes.
  3. Get your antioxidantsEat colorful fruits and vegetables: It’s not enough just to eat more fruits and vegetables. The kind of produce you consume matters. Vibrant fruits and vegetables are the best when it comes to living longer because they have antioxidants. These are nutrients that actually stop damaging “free radicals” from harming your cells. Colorful produce that you should focus on include cranberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach, red apples, spirulina, blueberries and grapes. You should aim for five servings of fruit and five of vegetables. Replacing one red meat entree a week with a veggie entree can be a good first step. You will find that dark chocolate and red wine, when taken in moderation, are also good for aging and the brain.  much more at the link

9 Little Known Secrets to Living Past 90.

Exercise Key to Fall Prevention

(PhysOrg.com) — Being able to stay in their homes and remain independent is a daily struggle for many older adults. As we age we tend to lose our flexibility, our connective tissue tightens and we have prolonged reaction times. Problems with vision, including depth perception, all increase the likelihood of falling. When a child falls it may result in a few bumps and bruises. However, the older we get, the more the ramifications of a fall escalate including being the leading cause of injury deaths in older adults and the most common cause of non-fatal injuries and hospital admissions. According to Val Walkowiak, medical integration coordinator for Loyola Center for Fitness, exercise plays a major role in preventing falls.

“Improving posture and balance helps strengthen weak muscle groups in the back, core, hips and legs. This improves mobility, which limits the fall risks,” said Walkowiak. “Maintaining upright posture is vital for daily living and function.”

For instance, it can seem that older adults are shuffling instead of walking. This is actually a way to compensation for lack of balance and poor posture. They take shorter strides, have a wider gait and tend to look at the floor to try to avoid tripping.

Working on posture, such as sitting up straight in a chair and holding abs in can strengthen key muscles groups helping to create a more normal walking gait.

Improving static balance, which is the ability to control postural sway while standing, is key to preventing falls.

“We naturally move a lot. When you stand still you actually aren’t still. Your head moves and your body moves with it to keep inline with the head,” said Walkowiak. “As we age it is important to train our brains to quickly activate the right muscles to anticipate and respond to changes in our environment such as stepping up on a curb or into a bath tub.”

more via Exercise Key to Older Adult Fall Prevention.

Is cleanliness to blame for increasing allergies?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2010) — Allergies have become a widespread in developed countries: hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent. The reason? Excessive cleanliness is to blame according to Dr. Guy Delespesse, a professor at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine.

Allergies can be caused by family history, air pollution, processed foods, stress, tobacco use, etc. Yet our limited exposure to bacteria concerns Dr. Delespesse, who is also director of the Laboratory for Allergy Research at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.

“There is an inverse relationship between the level of hygiene and the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases,” says Dr. Delespesse. “The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.”

In 1980, 10 percent of the Western population suffered from allergies. Today, it is 30 percent. In 2010, one out of 10 children is said to be asthmatic and the mortality rate resulting from this affliction increased 28 percent between 1980 and 1994.

“It’s not just the prevalence but the gravity of the cases,” says Dr. Delespesse. “Regions in which the sanitary conditions have remained stable have also maintained a constant level of allergies and inflammatory diseases.”

“Allergies and other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis are the result of our immune system turning against us,” says Dr. Delespesse.

Why does this happen? “The bacteria in our digestive system are essential to digestion and also serve to educate our immune system. They teach it how to react to strange substances. This remains a key in the development of a child’s immune system.”

Although hygiene does reduce our exposure to harmful bacteria it also limits our exposure to beneficial microorganisms. As a result, the bacterial flora of our digestive system isn’t as rich and diversified as it used to be.

Dr. Delespesse recommends probiotics to enrich our intestinal flora. Probiotics are intestinal bacteria that have a beneficial impact on health. They’ve been used for decades to make yogurt. Probiotics have a proven effect on treating diarrhea, and studies are increasingly concluding similar benefits for the immune system and allergies.

“Consuming probiotics during pregnancy could help reduce allergies in the child,” says Dr. Delespesse. “They are not a miracle remedy, yet they are one of many elements that improve our diet and our health.”

 Is cleanliness to blame for increasing allergies?.

Daily routines help with better sleep quality in older adults

No surprises here but it is nice that research is supporting the idea that having regular daily routines help with sleep in the elderly (and I am sure with all ages.)  Other helps that I know of are simple techniques like a warm glass of milk before bed and/or a warm foot bath.

Of course, it also is easier to sleep if you have a good bed, a dark room, etc.

Yes, there are acupuncture treatments , herbal formulas and whole food supplements which offer significant help.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2010) — A study in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep found that the maintenance of daily routines was associated with a reduced rate of insomnia and improved quality of sleep in older adults living in a retirement community.

Results of regression analyses indicate that increased stability in daily routine predicted a shorter time to fall asleep, higher sleep efficiency and improved sleep quality. Stability in basic activities such as bathing, dressing and eating was more strongly associated with sleep quality than stability of instrumental activities such as shopping, public transportation use and medical appointments.

According to the authors, routine lifestyle rhythms may be characterized by stability in the timing, frequency and duration of daily activities such as watching TV or reading a book. It is also possible to identify weekly patterns of regularity in activities such as cleaning, exercise and social engagements.

Lead author Anna Zisberg, R.N., M.A., Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Haifa in Mt. Carmel, Israel, said that the findings highlight the importance of developing lifestyle regularity as a means for maintaining good sleep quality…. more at the link

Maintaining regular daily routines is associated with better sleep quality in older adults.