Health and Fitness

Drinking Tea to Prevent Dementia

Everyone knows that a newly steeped hot cup of tea, enjoyed with someone you care about, can be incredibly enjoyable. But did you know it it may help you maintain your cognitive function later into life? A study in the 2016 “Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging” showed that drinking tea frequently is associated with a lower risk of dementia, especially for people who are genetically predisposed to the disease.

The reasons for this are not completely clear and may include other factors associated with tea drinking such as avoidance of other unhealthy activities. The findings suggest that the brain protecting affects of tea drinking could stem from bio-active compounds in tea leaves, such as flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant potential, and L-theanine, which regulates neurotransmitter and brain activities.

Healthier eating habits tend to be present in tea drinkers. This includes the consumption of more leafy green vegetables, the darker the better, as well as non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. Fish and meats higher in omega-3 fatty acids make up foods that along with tea drinking can help fight dementia.

Cold showers are also getting more attention lately, and not for the reason you may think. Finishing your shower with 30 seconds of cold water may provide significant potential health benefits and help prolong your physical and cognitive health. These benefits include accelerating your immune system, and improving circulation as well as the health of your skin. The cold water causes your body to increase blood flow to warm your core and protect vital organs. This increase in blood flow is a good thing for your overall health.

As I’ve also written many times, to slow the cognitive and physical effects of aging, exercise is key. This includes both resistance exercises as well as aerobic exercises. Exercise is well known to help improve our mobility and ability to perform work. Exercise also stimulates the production and repair of components of our cells and genes that can help to offset aging.

There is much we can do to slow our biological aging by adjusting diet and lifestyle factors. So sit back and enjoy a cup of tea.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Low-Impact Exercises

A very smart, insightful and fit person recently reminded me about the importance of low impact exercises. As we approach our middle ages and beyond, it’s important to consider strength and functional gains in conjunction with joint protection and injury prevention.

I have written about this in the past in my blog post “When to Stop Running “. Most fit, athletic and active people grow up doing high-impact athletic activities such as basketball or running. We enjoy taxing our bodies to maximum exertion and and receiving an endorphin release from sustained effort.

Is important however that we transition to low impact workouts that are easy on our joints, particularly the knees. This may mean ending our running careers or event eliminating a mini trampoline work out. Low-impact workouts include a variety of exercises that can both increase your heart rate as well as improve your strength. These include but are not limited to swimming, yoga, walking, bicycling, or elliptical machine workouts, just to name a few

In general, low impact exercises will usually involve keeping 1 foot on the ground and therefore reduce stress and pressure on your joints. Swimming is a classic low-impact exercise that can strengthen virtually every muscle of your body and give you a great aerobic workout. A large amount of expensive equipment is not necessary if you get creative with body weight type exercises. This includes activities such as yoga which maintains sustained postures.

Other great options include use of bands or straps. You can use them to work multiple muscles of your arms and legs as well as your core. They decrease stress on your body by providing graded resistance on your proximal joints as you stretch them further from your body. Even if you have no equipment at all, you can do some basic old fashioned exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees or mountain climbers, When you’re on all fours, bring your knees up repeatedly towards your chest. This will give you a great aerobic workout with an added benefit of working your core.

Be creative but always consider long-term health maintenance. Avoid high-impact exercise routines that entail repetitive bouncing or jarring of your joints.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Cholesterol Myths

When it comes to the topic of cholesterol, and its effects on your health, I can’t blame you if you feel confused. New information is continuously being put forth, often with contradictory diet and medication recommendations. Long-held beliefs about health are hard overcome. We’ve all heard advice to eat a low fat diet and watch your cholesterol on one day and the next day hear that it doesn’t matter if you eat a lot of fats but you should simply avoid carbohydrates.

Is important to realize that not all cholesterol is bad. It is needed for the production of steroid hormones as well as building cell membranes. Cholesterol is transported by Lipo proteins. Low density lipoprotein or LDL is the “bad” protein that tends to cause deposition of fat and high density lipoprotein or HDL is the “good” lipoprotein because it functions to transport cholesterol back to the liver. Your ratio of HDL to LDL is a critical component for overall health. Regular exercise, particularly aerobic activities improve this ratio.

Although it has received a lot of bad press, fat consumption is not directly associated with heart disease. The most significant component of saturated fat consumption is that it is calorie-dense and can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome. The quality of fats in your diet is the most important factor. The most important way to maintain good health is improve the omega-3 fatty acid component of all your meat or fat components and decrease simple carbohydrate consumption.

We’ve all heard that statins are an effective class of cholesterol lowering drugs that are widely used to improve your lab values. The target LDL level for a healthy person is below 100 and for a person with heart disease, the LDL target is below 70. Across a large population, these drugs save lives but they are not completely benign. They can be associated with diabetes, myalgias or abnormal liver function tests.

Fortunately, there is much you can do about your cholesterol level. Diet and exercise are always the first steps. Perform a mixture of both aerobic and strengthening exercises. When you eat fats, choose high omega-3 fats. Be a vegephile and avoid processed foods and simple carbohydrates. You’re allowed to drink a small amount of alcohol, preferably red wine, but definitely avoid smoking!

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

An Ongoing Experiment in Health

I recently finished listening to a very thought-provoking book titled “The Ultimate Prescription; What the Medical Profession Isn’t Telling You” by James L. Marcum MD. He is a cardiologist who looks at health and answers to disease from a biblical point of view.

He starts his book off with a question regarding a giant experiment that has been done with our lives. What will be the results of living in a toxic environment? If it was a double blind study, it would be stopped early as the data points unequivocally to the negative affects of our current environment and processed food supply.

He does not deny the late life-saving and amazing work that acute medicine can do to save lives. It is humbling though to realize that the vast majority of our health is up to us. The current healthcare system as well as the food industry have financial incentives that are not always in our best interest. We need to push back and take the control of our health back into our own hands. The healthcare industry wants to sell us more expensive medications and procedures and the food industry wants to sell more hyper palatable, calorie dense processed foods. This is not in our best interest.

He discussed simple ways to get back on track and live a healthy life. We have heard this advice before but society today tends to end ignore much of it. He says we should sleep 8-9 hours a night as currently we are most Americans are only sleeping 6 to 7 hours. We need to be mindful of what entertainment and information we fill our heads with. He further states that you should drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is at least half your body weight in ounces daily. He also states that he should respect the environment and animals when you consider your food choices and eat a primarily plant-based diet. Just like our parents, he reinforced the importance of getting outside, receiving enough sunlight and to keep moving.

Take The path to healthy living.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

The Flexitarian Diet

I cannot believe that I have never heard of it, but the Flexitarian diet concept is ingenious. I have always tried to tell my patients that they should try to be vegephiles. This concept is similar in many ways.

The definition is “ A person whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat, fish or poultry.” It’s also been referred to as casual vegetarianism as it encourages a mostly plant-based, semi-vegetarian diet and encourages more vegetarian foods while allowing meat or other animal products in moderation.

The multiple health benefits of a vegetable-based diet are well known. It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Plant-based will help you lose weight and keep it within a healthy range for the long term. In short, you will live a longer and healthier life.

The diet is less about loss or restrictions and more about adding an abundance of delicious plant-based foods. if you have some specific meat-based indulgence that you crave occasionally, go ahead and have it. The secret is to simply increase your consumption of plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients and don’t worry about eliminating one food completely.

The total amount of meat consumed the United States has increased by 40% since 1961. Currently Americans consume around 274 pounds of meat per year. There environmental effects of this increased fish, poultry and beef farming are not insignificant. Because of its emphasis on plant-based nutrition, the Flexitarian diet could improve the health of the world as well as ourselves.

Stay well!