Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pursuing Better Health

My daughter on the right who cares for patients.
It seems like there are more hints in the winter months for improving ones’ health. Or maybe I’m just reading more of them. In case you’re not up to date on the latest information, here are some.

Dark chocolate, Yummy:  By now you’ve probably heard that dark chocolate is good for you. Hooray! However, that doesn’t mean you should eat too much of it, but isn’t it nice on cold days to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate made with dark chocolate? I ignore that it’s still made with sugar which continues to be a big no-no for those seeking better health.

Still spry, I'm heading for the woods to trim branches.
For older people (not me, of course): According to a study done by Yale School of Public Health of older adults (average of 81) positive words associated with aging such as spry and creative, were flashed on a screen even if too fast to be conscious of them, improved in physical areas like balance for three weeks. Those who didn’t see them didn’t experience such improvements. So my take on this is to consider yourself spry and creative even if you’re feeling the sluggish effects of a long winter, and suffering a temporary writer’s block. Say to yourself, “I am a creative writer. I will sit down and write a magnificent next chapter or story or poem, and I’m not old, I’m spry and creative.” 

My daily breakfast
Breakfast news and advice: According to a British study, people with a day-to-day variation in their daily breakfast, were 90 percent more likely to have a large waist, a heart disease risk factor. Hooray for me! Unless I’m on vacation somewhere, I eat the exact same breakfast of old-fashioned oatmeal, walnuts, blueberries, cranberries, yogurt, bananas and skim milk. However, in a supplement that came in the mail from a local hospital advised that for maximum health, we should be eating our breakfast outside in the morning sun. It helps us burn more fat throughout the day. This advice might work if I lived in Florida, but the day I read this even though it was a sunny day, it was -22 degrees outside which made me imagine myself chipping away at my bowl of frozen oatmeal and trying to drink a cup of frozen coffee. I don’t imagine much sun would have reached me bundled up as I was. This advice did add another health advantage, however, because it had me laughing.

Shari, Jim, Paula and I having a good time at Malice.
Laughter for your heart:  In addition to diet, exercise and watching cholesterol levels, the latest research shows that stress and the inability to deal with it adds to heart disease. However, studies have also shown the amazing healing power of positive emotions like optimism, confidence, laughter and social connections. In fact, you’re advised to laugh hysterically since deep belly laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which activate receptors to our blood vessels’ linings that signal the production of nitric oxide which results in increased blood flow and reduces vascular inflammation and the buildup of plague. Thus reducing the risk of blood clots. So the advice was to watch as many funny movies or TV shows as possible, at least 15 to 30 minutes a day. I don’t watch much TV, but maybe I should watch some funny shows. Still I laugh a lot with friends and family, but not every day, and I listen to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion on Saturday nights if I’m home and part of the reruns on Sunday morning. Also, I’m still listening to Car Talk with Click and Clack, too, and always get a good laugh from them.

Only a tiny portion of the CDs  I have and listen to.
Listen to Music: Medical science is now proving what people have known for hundreds of years: that music is deeply healing. In one study, researchers found that listening to music 25 minutes daily for four weeks resulted in a reduction in blood pressure with a result that it was the equaled to taking a strong blood pressure medication. Also, listening to calming music before cardiac surgery worked as well as any sedative. I listen to music every evening and during the day if I’m in my car. I love music, and maybe that’s why for my age, my blood pressure is good. Of course, I think it’s the type of music and the level of loudness, too. I hate loud music.

Isn't my collie adorable? Not that I'm prejudiced, of course.
Cuddle up:  It’s important to hug and kiss your partner to lower blood pressure, too. However, since it’s been a long time since I’ve had a partner, I have to rely on my collie, Maggie, and my two cats.  I can hug Maggie, but of course she can’t hug me. I refuse to kiss her and try to avoid her sloppy kisses. I’m allergic to cats, so my contact with them is not to hold them, but to pet them for brief periods of time. Sometimes I hug my ponies, but they’re usually more eager to get a treat than be hugged. I have heard having pets is good for your emotional health, and I believe that. Even my little yellow canary Pavarotti singing brings me pleasure.

Health Benefits of coffee: Regular consumption of coffee may decrease your risk of depression. The National Institutes of Health found that those who drink four or more cups of coffee daily are 10% less likely to be depressed.  Maybe that’s why I rarely feel down and then only for a short time. Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that people older than 65 who consumed higher levels of caffeine develop Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than those with lower caffeine intake. And finally, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee drinkers are less likely to develop liver, breast, colon and rectal cancers. Hooray for coffee!!!

These women are drinking their coffee and having fun.
There are so many more health benefits and news I could write about, but that’s enough for now. I need to go pour another cup of coffee, and maybe eat a small piece of dark chocolate, too.

What health news and benefits have you recently read or heard about?


Mary said...

Great post Mom! You made me laugh, as usual!! I love my chocolate and coffee too, but sadly was told it contributes to hot flashes. :( Cool that I can read your post at 9 pm Wednesday night Pacific time. Strange.

Gloria Alden said...

Mary, it's posted for midnight our time. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and I hope you didn't mind my sticking your picture in.

KB Inglee said...

Eating breakfast outside in the SNOW? No way.
I have always considered "spry" to be what old people are. I am "active".

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Have dogs, will walk, every day. Have gardens, will weed, dig, and prune, every day (except days like today, when I'll be shoveling last night's snow). Dark chocolate (hot cocoa!), red wine, New Orleans French roast coffee, brewed to perfection. Always writing, always plotting. And when I need it, a big belly laugh for the movie "Red".

Margaret S. Hamilton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gloria Alden said...

KB, being active is very important to one's health and longevity in my opinion. I'm reading an article in TIME about how many presidents live or lived to an advanced age in spite of a very stressful job. Always having health care people on the job helped, but even more it was keeping physically and mentally active.

Gloria Alden said...

Margaret, I do all those things, too, but because of the deep snow and extreme cold we've been experiencing, I haven't walked now in over a month, and I miss it and feel it in my body. I agree the writing and plotting is very instrumental in keeping my mind healthy and active. Now where did I put my glasses? Oh, here they are, on top of my head.

Warren Bull said...

A cardiologist on NPR said moderate exercise every other day can be healthier than more frequent and more intense exercise.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Gloria - we were having fun in that picture! Hope we can get together at Malice this year.
My favorites for health are dark chocolate and red wine - and dancing! I have a zumba class I love (led by two fun loving Brazilian guys), a country line dance class, and I am trying to get my hubby to return to ballroom classes this year. Salsa is on the horizon.

Kait said...

What a great post. I love chocolate, and coffee and sometimes together!Only thing that would make it better is adding wine. Chocolate, wine, and coffee. The three major food groups - who knew they were good for you.

Patg said...

Great post, Gloria. Keep the mind active is the best.

Gloria Alden said...

I like that advise, Warren. It makes me feel better about not jogging and lifting weights, etc.

Shari, we did. I'm looking forward to Malice this year,too. I always have such a good time there. I think dancing would be a wonderful exercise. Once upon a time I talked a friend of mine into taking clogging lessons. It was a lot of fun, and although I don't remember all of the steps, when a lively Celtic or bluegrass tune comes on, I jog around for a while confusing my dog. :-)

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, wasn't it great when they came out with those three things being good for us? Some people add chocolate to their coffee, too.

I agree with you, Pat. I think that's why our plotting and writing are so good for us.

KM Rockwood said...

Lots of good info, GLoria!

Right now, I'm frustrated by the news that dietary cholesterol has no significant effect on blood cholesterol. And this after making painful modifications to the family diet!

My brother-in-law, who had high cholesterol readings and had to take meds despite eating a vegan diet, has said for years that he didn't think diet had much to do with if.

He gets a big I-told-you-so.

And we just have to muddle through, reading about all these "scientific" findings that may or may not be true.

Amber Foxx said...

As a health professor, of course I had to check up on your research. Gloria, you got an A!

Kara Cerise said...

Great post, Gloria. My doctor recently recommended tumeric for allergies and asthma. However, I like chocolate and coffee for good health. Laughter too.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, I only recently agreed to take a statin after years of refusing it. It's on a 30 day trial basis only. I had a very thin ex-brother-in-law who ate healthy meals, and had high blood pressure. Apparently it was something inherited. He seems to still be doing well today. My sister has refused to eat an egg since she had a heart attack almost ten years ago even though research shows eggs are okay.

Thank you, Amber! It's been many years since I've received a good grade for anything. You just made my day.

Kara, that's interesting. How do you take tumeric? I suffer from allergies and they have been horrible this winter, or maybe it's a sinus infection because of the weather.

Kara Cerise said...

Gloria, my doctor suggested cooking with it but didn't know how much to use. He did say that tumeric helps allergy sufferers by reducing sinus inflammation. I've read that some people mix it with raw honey or drink tumeric tea. It also comes in capsule form. But I think you have to be careful because it can react with several medicines.

E. B. Davis said...

Sorry-the day this blog ran, we were hit with a foot of snow. Blindsided, I couldn't think.

A new study, one that was reviewed by other scientists, who said the study was well done (good science) linked the use of Benedryl with Alzheimer's disease. Benedryl blocks the same pathways that are blocked by Alzheimer's (what I guess are neurological transmitters)in the brain. Once blocked, the pathways can't be unblocked. I will never use it again.