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Healthy Aging
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Common Questions

Health News

  • Walk This Way to a Healthier Lifestyle

    Monday, March 30, 2020
    Advice
    Walk This Way to a Healthier Lifestyle
    ×

    It’s a fact: Over 80% of Americans don't get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. That's a bummer because regular exercise can prevent risk factors for diseases like high blood pressure and obesity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and depression. However, the US surgeon general suggests one simple way to fit exercise into your day is to get walking. Walking doesn’t require special skills or equipment and can be done almost anywhere. The Washington Post checked in with several health and fitness experts who offered some useful tips if you’re ready to get stepping:

    • Get the right amount. While the government recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, many experts recommend 30 minutes per day to see benefits like increased muscle-to-fat ratio and decreased risk for metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body fat around the waist, which all increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke).
    • Count all of it. You don’t have to do your 30 minutes all at once—you can walk throughout the day. A pedometer can help keep you on track. Ten thousand steps per day is a good goal to start with; it’s roughly over 5 miles and is more than 30 minutes of exercise.
    • Give yourself a boost. When you’re ready to step up your workout, add intensity to increase the calories you burn or improve speed and strength. Some people do this with hand weights or interval training. For interval training, alternate your usual pace with periods of speed walking or change the terrain by climbing stairs or hills.

    Source: Washington Post

  • Apples: The Forgotten Superfood

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020
    Advice
    Apples: The Forgotten Superfood
    ×

    Most people have a favorite apple variety—maybe yours is McIntosh, Jonagold, or Granny Smith—but all apples have some important things in common: vitamins, minerals, fiber, and polyphenols. Apples contain vitamin E and potassium—nutrients that are especially important for heart health. They also have small but notable amounts of B vitamins and calcium. Their fiber, which includes both insoluble fibers like cellulose and soluble fibers like pectin, makes them a prebiotic food, helping to support healthy colonies of friendly gut bacteria. Pectin is reported to have cholesterol-lowering and blood sugar-stabilizing effects as well. Apples also have plant chemicals known as polyphenols, which are found mainly in the peels. Polyphenols provide apples with their color and flavor and protect the fruit from light damage, fungi, and insects. When we eat whole, unpeeled apples, their polyphenols act as antioxidants that contribute to many of apples’ health benefits.

    Source: Nutrients

  • This Popcorn Topping Is an Excellent Source of B Vitamins

    Monday, March 23, 2020
    Trends
    This Popcorn Topping Is an Excellent Source of B Vitamins
    ×

    Do you shake nutritional yeast onto your popcorn for an umami flavor explosion? If so, do you know what it is and which nutrients it contains? Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of a strain of the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Because it’s made specifically to be used as a food, it’s grown on a medium such as molasses, and tends to be lower in nutrients than brewer’s yeast. To boost its nutrient content, manufacturers frequently fortify the growing medium with minerals and vitamins. Although the nutrient content of fortified yeast products can vary substantially, in general, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes is an excellent source of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, and a good source of vitamin B5. Its protein content is approximately 40% by weight, and it contains all of the essential amino acids. Nutritional yeast can also be a good to excellent source of minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, and chromium.

    Source: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

  • Mushroom Linked to Reduced Weight Gain in Mice

    Wednesday, March 18, 2020
    New Science
    Mushroom Linked to Reduced Weight Gain in Mice
    ×

    A study found that Ganoderma lucidum—a medicinal mushroom—was associated with weight loss and reduced inflammation in mice. This mushroom, known commonly as lingzhi or reishi, is rich in prebiotic polysaccharides, which are compounds that promote the growth of colonies of healthy intestinal bacteria. Published in Nature Communications, the study involved six groups of five to seven mice: group one was fed a high-fat diet (HFD, 60% energy from fat) only; group two was fed the HFD plus a 2% water extract of G. lucidum; group three was fed the HFD plus a 6% extract of G. lucidum; group four was fed the HFD plus an 8% extract of G. lucidum; group five was fed a standard diet (13.5% energy from fat) only; and, group six was fed a standard diet plus an 8% extract of G. lucidum. Researchers studied the mice for eight weeks and found that:

    • While all of the HFD-fed mice experienced weight gain and liver fat accumulation, those receiving G. lucidum gained less body weight and had less liver fat accumulation than those on the HFD alone. Protection against weight gain and liver fat increased with increasing dosages of G. lucidum, so that the mice receiving the 8% solution gained the least amount of weight of all the HFD-fed mice.
    • While the HFD alone was associated with increased levels of markers of inflammation, the addition of G. lucidum was associated with lower rises in inflammatory marker levels. Again, higher doses of G. lucidum had stronger protective effects, so that mice receiving the 8% solution had levels that were similar to those seen in mice on the standard diet.
    • Mice on the standard diet were not significantly affected by the addition of G. lucidum, indicating that G. lucidum may only be effective in individuals eating diets that promote inflammation, weight gain, and fat accumulation in the liver.

    These findings suggest that G. lucidum may support weight loss and adds to the growing body of research suggesting that prebiotics may be associated with reduced body weight and inflammation.

    Source: Nature Communications

  • Lifting Weights May Give Your Brain a Boost

    Monday, March 16, 2020
    New Science
    Lifting Weights May Give Your Brain a Boost
    ×

    Here’s a workout for your brain: Researchers have found that doing resistance training twice a week may slow the progression of age-related brain lesions, which are common in middle-aged people. These lesions, or holes, in the brain’s white matter—the part of the brain that connects and passes messages between different brain regions—can negatively affect cognition. The study was reported on by the New York Times and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society; it included 54 women, aged 65 to 75, who already had evidence of white matter lesions (WMLs). The women were divided into three groups: the first group did a resistance training workout once a week, the second group did a resistance training workout twice a week, and the third group did a balance and stretching workout twice a week. The resistance training consisted of light weight lifting. Researchers measured the volume of WMLs using MRIs at the beginning and end of the year-long study. Here is what they found:

    • While all three groups had an increase in WMLs, the women doing resistance training twice a week had fewer than the other two groups.
    • Maintaining the ability to walk quickly and smoothly was associated with losing less white matter in the two resistance training groups.

    This study is interesting because the findings suggest that the right amount (only twice a week!) of resistance training could potentially protect parts of the brain. However, more research is needed to understand if the study’s results translate into meaningful differences in cognitive function over the long term. In addition, more research could help uncover how improved walking ability relates to the brain’s white matter and to cognitive function. In the meantime, if you want to try pumping some iron, talk with your healthcare practitioner to pick the resistance training program that’s right for you.

    Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.