Monday, June 26, 2017

Brushing your teeth is important

There is a recent science-that supports the idea that there is some evidence between oral health – (yes, simply regularly brushing your teeth), and thereby reducing chronic inflammation… and possibly reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

An American based science team discovered that reducing plaque buildup lowers the levels of chronic inflammation as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP). The study was led by Prof Charles Hennekens, of Florida Atlantic University. In the trial, 61 patients were given either the special or normal toothpaste and followed for 60 days. Their plaque and inflammation levels were tested before and after the study. Those using the disclosing toothpaste reduced their plaque levels by 49 per cent compared with 24 per cent for the control group. Inflammation, measured by levels of c-reactive protein, also fell by 29 per cent for the special toothpaste group, but rose by 25 per cent for the control group.

The team points out that managing chronic inflammation may be critical to preventing heart attacks and strokes.

The correlation between chronic inflammation and plaque was studied based on the knowledge that people with diseased gums – a condition associated with inflammation, suffered higher rates of heart attack and stroke. However, this recent controlled study, using a specialized plaque-targeting toothpaste, reduced inflammation (by 29%), which is close to a range typically only achieved by using statins (reduction of 39%). 

Although additional clinical studies are underway, there is now arguably reasonable proof that good dental health, in conjunction with other lifestyle choices, may be an element in managing chronic inflammation and reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sleep Hygiene, is important in getting a good nights sleep

In the workshop on getting a good nights sleep that I give for COSCO Health and Wellness, I talk about good sleep hygiene and how important this is to have a good nights' sleep. Sleep hygiene is not about being clean, it is about the habits we have that may cause us to have a bad night's sleep. Her are some tips to a better sleep.
You're not doomed to toss and turn every night. Consider simple tips for better sleep, from setting a sleep schedule to including physical activity in your daily routine.
Think about all the factors that can interfere with a good night's sleep — from pressure at work and family responsibilities to unexpected challenges, such as layoffs, relationship issues or illnesses. It's no wonder that quality sleep is sometimes elusive.
Although you might not be able to control all of the factors that interfere with your sleep, you can adopt habits or improve your sleep hygiene that encourage better sleep. Start with these simple tips.

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, holidays and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night. There's a caveat, though. If you don't fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Go back to bed when you're tired. If you agonise over falling asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off.
2. Pay attention to what and when you eat and drink
Don't go to bed either hungry or stuffed. Your discomfort might keep you up. Also limit how much you drink before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the toilet.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too. The stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy at first, it can disrupt sleep later in the night. Don’t eat too close to bedtime as it may cause you problems in falling asleep.

3. Create a bedtime ritual

Do the same things each night to tell your body it's time to wind down. This might include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music — preferably with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
Be wary of using the TV or other electronic devices as part of your bedtime ritual. Some research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep. The bedroom should be used for sex and for sleep, not for reading, watching TV, playing video games etc.

4. Get comfortable

Create a room that's ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
Your mattress and pillow can contribute to better sleep, too. Since the features of good bedding are subjective, choose what feels most comfortable to you. If you share your bed, make sure there's enough room for two. If you have children or pets, try to set limits on how often they sleep with you — or insist on separate sleeping quarters.

5. Limit daytime naps

Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you're struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you choose to nap during the day, limit yourself to about 10 to 20 minutes and make it during the midafternoon.
If you work nights, you'll need to make an exception to the rules about daytime sleeping. In this case, keep your window coverings closed so that sunlight — which adjusts your internal clock — doesn't interrupt your daytime sleep.
6. Include physical activity in your daily routine
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. Timing is important, though. Do not exercise too close to bedtime, you might be too energised to fall asleep. If this seems to be an issue for you, exercise earlier in the day.
7. Manage stress
When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep is likely to suffer. To help restore peace, consider healthy ways to manage stress. Start with the basics, such as getting organised, setting priorities and delegating tasks. Give yourself permission to take a break when you need one. Share a good laugh with an old friend. Before bed, jot down what's on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

Know when to contact your doctor

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dementia risk reduced by eating 'five-a-day'

This was written by Honor Whiteman and posted in Medical News Today in February 2017. I thought it should be shared

Dementia is estimated to affect around 47.5 million people worldwide, and this number is expected to more than triple by 2050. But according to new research, there is one simple thing older adults can do to help reduce their risk of dementia: eat their "five-a-day."

Researchers say eating five portions of fruits and vegetables daily could reduce older adults' dementia risk.  In a study published in the journal Age and Ageing, researchers found that eating at least three portions of vegetables and two servings of fruits daily was associated with lower risk of dementia in older adults.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults should consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily - the equivalent to around five servings - in order to improve overall health and lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Previous research has indicated that fruit and vegetable intake may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, but the precise amounts that should be consumed to pose such benefits have been unclear.

For this latest study, co-author Linda Lam - of the Department of Psychiatry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong - and colleagues set out to investigate whether adhering to the five-a-day recommendation is associated with reduced dementia risk.

The researchers came to their findings by analyzing the health and diet of 17,700 older Chinese adults. All adults were free of dementia at study baseline. The researchers followed the participants for an average of 6 years to see whether they developed the condition, and whether dementia development might be associated with fruit and vegetable intake.

Compared with adults who did not adhere to WHO recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake, adults who consumed three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits daily were found to be at lower risk of dementia development over 6 years.

Dementia risk was further reduced for adults who consumed an additional three portions of vegetables each day, the team reports.

The results remained after accounting for a number of confounding factors, including age, smoking status, and the presence of other chronic diseases.

Findings highlight importance of fruit and veg intake for older adults
The study was not designed to pinpoint the reasons why fruits and vegetables might lower dementia risk, but the researchers speak of one hypothesis. They explain that oxidativestress - an imbalance between free radical production and the body's ability to counteract the toxic effects - and inflammation is believed to play a role in dementia. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamin B, vitamin E, and other nutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent such processes.

Further research is needed to explore precisely how fruits and vegetables might lower dementia risk, but this current study sheds light on how much we need to consume to reap the rewards.

"The findings of our study not only highlight the importance of consuming both fruits and vegetables in dementia prevention among older people, but also provide some insight into the daily amount of fruits and vegetables required for cognitive maintenance.

As a public health promotion strategy, the need for a balanced diet on cognitive health should be duly emphasized in the older population."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Life skills are important for Boomers

Good habits and life skills do us well at any stage of life, but they are very important as we age. Life skills, such as persistence, conscientiousness and control, are as important to wealth and wellbeing in later life as they are when people are much younger, according to new research led by UCL.

Five life skills - emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness - play a key role in promoting educational and occupational success in early life but little has been known about their importance in later life.

In the study, published in the journal PNAS, the academics looked at the impact of these attributes in over 8,000 men and women aged 52 and older who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging.

The researchers found that people who have more life skills enjoy a range of benefits including greater financial stability, less depression, low social isolation, better health and fewer chronic diseases.

They benefitted from favourable objective biomarkers in the blood including lower levels of cholesterol and of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation relevant to a number of different diseases. They also had smaller waistlines, where fat accumulation is particularly relevant to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, than people with few life skills.

The study fount that there was no single attribute was more important than others. Rather, the effects depended on the accumulation of life skills. The study found a range of health and social outcomes depending on the number of life skills a person has. For example, the proportion of participants reporting significant depressive symptoms declined from 22.8% among those with a low number of life skills to 3.1% in those with four or five.

Nearly half the people who reported the highest levels of loneliness had the fewest skills, declining to 10.5% in those with the most. Regular volunteering rose from 28.7% to 40% with increasing numbers of life skills.

In terms of health, the proportion of respondents who rated their health as only fair or poor was 36.7% among those with low life skills, falling to 6% in participants with a higher number of attributes. People with more skills walked significantly faster than those with fewer - walking speed is an objective measure predicting future mortality in older population samples.

Although causal conclusions cannot be drawn from observational studies, the researchers took cognitive function, education and family background into account, ruling them out as being responsible for the outcomes associated with life skills.

The researchers found that although there is research on individual factors such as conscientiousness and optimism in adults, but the combinations of these life skills have not been studied very much before. They were surprised by the range of processes - economic, social, psychological, biological, and health and disability related - that seem to be related to these life skills. The research suggests that fostering and maintaining these skills in adult life may be relevant to health and wellbeing at older ages.