Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tips to Keep Your Joints Healthy

Stay in Motion

It's the golden rule of joint health: The more you move, the less stiffness you'll have. Whether you're reading, working, or watching TV, change positions often. Take breaks from your desk or your chair and get active.

MyAchingKnees comment:  Live a physical life - that's one of the four legs of the chair of health.  I bet I don't sit down and stay still for more than 15 minutes, unless I'm taking a nap! :)    

Safety First

Padding is your pal. So suit up when you do things like in-line skating or play contact sports. If your joints already ache, it might help to wear braces when you do activities like tennis or golf.

Lean In to Your Weight

Your size affects some of the strain on your hips, knees, and back. Even a little weight loss can help. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees. Ask your doctor what's the best way for you to get started.

Don't Stretch Before Exercise

Flexibility helps you move better. Try to stretch daily or at least three times a week. But don't do it when your muscles are cold. Do a light warm-up first, like walking for 10 minutes, to loosen up the joints, ligaments, and tendons around them.

MyAchingKnees comment:  I stretch first thing in them morning.  At 57 years old I take it slow and don't try to increase flexibility, just work through a full range of motion. 

Go Low-Impact

What exercise is good? The best choices are activities that don't pound your joints, like walking, bicycling, swimming, and strength training.

Flex Some Muscle

Get stronger to give your joints better support. Even a little more strength makes a difference. A physical therapist or certified trainer can show you what moves to do and how to do them. If you have joint problems, avoid quick, repetitive movements.

Work on Your Range

Are your joints too stiff and inflexible? You'll want to get back as much as you can of your "range of motion." That's the normal amount joints can move in certain directions. Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises to improve this.

Power Up Your Core

Stronger abs and back muscles help your balance, so you're less likely to fall or get injured. Add core (abdominal, back, and hip) strengthening exercises to your routine. Pilates and yoga are great workouts to try.

Know Your Limits

It's normal to have some aching muscles after you exercise. But if you hurt for more than 48 hours, you may have overstressed your joints. Don't push so hard next time. Working through the pain may lead to an injury or damage.

Eat Fish to Reduce Inflammation

If you have joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, eat more fish. Fatty cold-water types like salmon and mackerel are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s may help keep joints healthy, as well as lower inflammation, a cause of joint pain and tenderness in people with RA. Don't like fish? Try fish oil capsules instead.

Keep Your Bones Strong

Calcium and vitamin D can help you do that. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium, but other options are green, leafy vegetables like broccoli and kale. If you don't get enough calcium from food, ask your doctor about supplements.

Target Your Posture

Stand and sit up straight to protect joints all the way from the neck down to your knees. To improve your posture, take a walk. The faster you do it, the harder your muscles work to keep you upright. Swimming can also help.

Ease Your Load

Consider your joints when lifting and carrying. Carry bags on your arms instead of with your hands to let your bigger muscles and joints support the weight.

Chill Out Pain

Ice is a natural -- and free -- pain reliever. It numbs the hurt and eases swelling. If you have a sore joint, apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes at a time. You can also try a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Never apply ice directly to your skin.

MyAchingKnees comment:  My practice has been Ice for Injuries, but heat for chronic pain or discomfort.  Some heating rub on muscles and joints a few minutes before stretching, exercise or work can make a huge difference.  

Supplements? Ask First

Stores are filled with ones that promise to relieve joint pain. Glucosamine and SAMe have the best research behind them. Talk to your doctor if you want to give supplements a try, so you know about what's safe and what might affect your medicines or health conditions.

MyAchingKnees comment:  I take supplements but they are pharmaceutical grade and made in an FDA registered lab.  Among those supplements are a Glucosamine, Vitamin C based product for my knees and has helped my back as well.  I won't ever go without it.  Let the buyer beware, but I attribute these supplements to my healthy, productive and enjoyable lifestyle.  Find something that works for you!

Treat Joint Injuries

They can add to the breakdown of cartilage in your joints. If you get hurt, see your doctor right away for treatment. Then take steps to avoid more damage. You may need to avoid activities that put too much stress on your joint or use a brace to stabilize it.

Article from Web MD

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Monday, August 22, 2016

7 Habits of Super-Healthy People

If you have a daily checklist, on paper or mentally, the below seven habits published on the Web MD website on Super Healthy People are worth looking at to see if you want to add them to your routine. Using the categories of the Web MD article, I added some comments as you'll see.

Have Breakfast
It's important for a bunch of reasons. It jump-starts your metabolism and stops you from overeating later. Plus, studies show that adults who have a healthy breakfast do better at work, and kids who eat the morning meal score higher on tests. If a big meal first thing isn't for you, keep it light with a granola bar or a piece of fruit. Just don't skip it.

MyAchingKness comment: The key word here is a HEALTHY breakfast. Here's a hint - Pop Tarts are NOT healthy. I have a low glycemic breakfast drink in the morning - basically 28 ounces of water with nutritional powder and fiber mixed in. Then I follow that with my supplements. So I not only recommend a low glycemic breakfast but a low glycemic diet throughout the day.

Plan Your Meals
It'll help you save time and money in the long run. Block out some time, then sit down and consider your goals and needs. Do you want to lose weight? Cut back on sugar, fat, or carbs? Add protein or vitamins? Meal prep keeps you in control. You know what you're eating and when. A bonus: It'll be that much easier to skip those donuts in the breakroom at work.

Drink Plenty of Water
It can do so many good things for you. Staying hydrated is at the top of the list, but it may also help you lose weight. Another reason to go for H2O? Sugary drinks are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. If you aren't a fan of plain water, add flavor with slices of orange, lemon, lime, watermelon, or cucumber.

MyAchingKness comment: Drinking water, likely bottled water to reduce the chances of toxins, at a level of approximately one ounce for every two pounds of body weight, is a great start. Drinking adequate water is an often over looked health necessity.

Take an Exercise Break
Don't just grab another cup of coffee -- get up and move. Do some deep lunges or stretches. It's great for your body and mind. Just 35 minutes of walking five times a week may help keep the blues at bay. And if you can't get all those minutes in at once, short bursts help, too.

MyAchingKness comment: I have stated many, many times that living a physical lifestyle is necessary to good health and one of the four legs in the chair of health. Doesn't mean you have to go to the gym and work our butts off. Simply walking, climbing stairs, stretching, getting outdoors are all things that everyone should do.

Go Offline
Checking your email and social media a lot? Sure, your friends' and family's latest updates are just a click away, but do you really need to see pictures of your cousin's latest meal? Let it wait until morning. Set a time to log off and put the phone down. When you cut back on screen time, it frees you up to do other things. Take a walk, read a book, or go help your cousin chop veggies for her next great dinner.

MyAchingKness comment: There are recent articles which state that neck stress is much more common in society today because of people looking down at their mobile devices for hours each day - don't be one of these people. By the time you are my age you will look like a hunch back.

Learn Something New
New skills help keep your brain healthy. Sign up for a dance class or a creative writing workshop. Better yet, master a new language. The mental work it takes can slow the signs of aging and may even delay the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
 
Don’t Smoke
If you light up, quit. It's a big move toward better health. Your body repairs itself quickly. As soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Why wait? Kick the habit, today. Your doctor will be happy to help you get started.

MyAchingKness comment: The single biggest thing that people do to sabotage their health is smoke, followed closely by excessive alcohol drinking, eating high glycemic foods, not getting daily levels of quality nutrients, and being a non-physical slug-coach potato type.

Article from Web MD Page
 

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Things that Happen When You Detox from Sugar

Article by Stephanie Eckelkamp posted on Eat Clean. The author uses the word "Reset" in the article which is appropriate as a low glycemic rests your system to where it needs to be. Providing you get the proper nutrients including fiber. I occasionally so a Reset for five days where I only take in low glycemic, gluten free, non GMO meal replacement drinks and foods. Although it is not a weight loss type of diet, the side effects is that I usually drop 8-10 pounds in those 5 days, and have additional energy because I am not "weighed" down by excessive sugars.

Yeah, I eat pretty darn healthy. But I'm only human. Every once in a while there's a birthday at work, and I eat a cookie. Sometimes two if I'm stressed. Then that cookie reminds me, wow, refined sugar is delicious! And also, that I love apple fritters. Then the next morning, I might buy an apple fritter. And so on, down the rabbit hole.

Earlier this month, in particular, I was feeling a little meh about my eating habits—my fritter count was higher than usual, and I’d done this experiment where I ate like my boyfriend for a week. He doesn't always have the most stellar dietary habits, guys. So I was in need of a little nudge in the opposite direction.

But I wasn't about to go it alone. So I enlisted my BF to be my partner in a 2-week sugar detox. Now, rest assured, this wasn't a detox in the annoying sense of the term—no juice cleansing, no fasting, no weird lemon-cayenne water shit. After consulting several seemingly sane diet books, we ended up taking this approach: No grains; no packaged food products with added sweeteners; no table sugar, natural sweeteners, or artificial sweeteners; no alcohol; no beans. We could also only eat one piece of low-sugar fruit per day (e.g. a green apple), and were somewhat limited in our choice of uber starchy veggies (e.g. no white potatoes). But we could eat loads of most veggies, along with eggs, fish, meat, nuts, nut butters, seeds, plain yogurt, and cheese.

The goal was to reset our palates and be able to come out of this thing with the ability to be satisfied with healthy whole foods, and to truly only eat treats in moderation—and without jumping on the first fast train to fritter town. Here's how we fared.

1. We felt like death and missed booze.

After a surprisingly easy first day, we were both surprised how bad we felt for the next five. Coffee was still allowed, so we weren't totally dead to the world. But because I no longer could have my 3 PM hit of chocolate, or fruit-packed smoothie, or one of my go-to RxBars, which contain dates, I definitely noticed significant fatigue due to this lower-carb, low-sugar approach to eating. My body wanted a source of fuel it could burn through quickly, but I was feeding it baby carrots and almond butter. Things would recalibrate and our bodies would adjust, we were told, but there would be an adjustment period. Be warned: The adjustment period sucks.

Evan's biggest complaints: Minor headaches, fatigue, and no beer. He works hard, so normally, he'll have one or two a night for "dessert." So he started drinking plain or naturally flavored seltzer like a madman. Which wasn't the same, but hit the fizzy spot. He was, however, very excited about the prospect of losing his beer gut.

MyAchingKnees comment: Feeling bad for one to several days is a necesary side effect while your body de-toxes. You can greatly minimize this by ensuring you are getting all the nutrients your body needs by taking quality supplements.

2. Silently judging others became our favorite pastime.

Oh, you want to eat a doughnut in my presence? Hope you enjoy your future sugar cravings! That (or usually something a tad more sinister) is basically what went on in my head when I saw someone eating something I couldn't have. Evan and I also frequently found ourselves muttering about how everyone was going to get diabetes, and alternated between feeling all high and mighty about our choices and wanting to cry while watching our friends eat ice cream.

3. We became obsessed with sweet potatoes, and spiralizers, and…

Once we discovered the wonder and the glory that is the sweet potato, things started to get better. I mean, I've always loved sweet potatoes, but we hadn't been using them to their full potential. Their subtly sweet flavor and higher-carb count (compared to everything else we were eating) made them a daily must-eat. Did you know you can spiralize sweet potatoes, then toss them in oil and bake them into sweet potato fries? Did you know you can make sweet potato baked eggs?! Our love for this root veggie bordered on obsession.

Other things that made life suck less: Spiralizers (we made zucchini pasta basically every other day), using lettuce as sandwich "wraps," seltzer water, almond butter, easy-to-munch-on sliced veggies, eggs, and nuts. In fact, roasted and salted cashews became another obsession.

4. I ate all the cashews. We almost broke up.

Guys, the mood swings were real. Not exaggerating when I tell you we experienced a new level of cranky. During the first few days, it was pretty much like we were withdrawing from drugs—which sort of makes sense, since sugar has been found to activate the same areas of the brain as hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. So, when I ate pretty much all of one of our favorite snacks (the delicious cashews), Evan let me know how disappointed he was. To which I replied, "I bought the damn cashews!" To which he replied, "Well, I bought the damn dog food this month!" To which I replied, "I thought you loved Milo!" It was immature and ugly, and also a little hilarious. So, a word of advice: Pre-portion the freakin' cashews, and try to remember that maintaining a healthy relationship with your significant other is more important than gorging on your favorite snack—even though I can promise you it won't feel that way in the moment.

Oh, and a good general rule to avoid biting someone's head off: Always have healthy snacks at the ready. When your blood sugar drops and none of your allowable foods are close by, "hanger" is inevitable….and everyone seems really annoying.

5. Eventually, we felt pretty damn great.

So, you probably think this whole experience was pretty miserable, but rest assured, we needed it. The truth is, after a full week of fatigue and mood swings, we both started to feel pretty fantastic. I was way less bloated, more alert, and found that my urge for packaged junk foods and sweets was cut in half. I also felt a whole lot less anxious and stressed. Evan felt pretty great, too, and actually ended up losing like 7 pounds (damn men and their speedy metabolisms).

My fixation on what I could and couldn't eat also started to fade. The truth is, this way of eating doesn't have to be limiting—it forces you to be far more creative with your meals (cauliflower crust pizza, anyone?), and reveals the nearly endless flavor potential of healthy whole foods. In fact, I started eating so many more veggies that I was probably eating a wider variety of foods than when we started. Evan, too—this guy hadn't even heard of a frittata before this experience, and now he's the master of them.

Of course, we're definitely excited to incorporate some things back into our routine, namely more fruit and the occasional beer and cocktail. And maybe even the occasional fritter. The difference is that, now, we can acknowledge that we like these foods, but we don't feel like we need them.



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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Warning on Dietary Supplements

From Consumer Reports this article was titled "New study sounds the alarm on dietary supplements" and posted on CBS News. But I want to make it clear that this report is about non-pharmaceutical grade supplements. I have also been warning people about taking food grade supplements for years now and these reports give credence to the issues and sometimes dangers of taking non-quality supplements - and here's the kicker, most of the supplements you find do not guaranteed their quality, let alone have accurate label claims or are free of toxins, so let the buyer beware.

I take only supplements manufactured using pharmaceutical grade standards in a lab monitored by the FDA, so this way I know what is on the label is in the bottle. I am not on the bandwagon, yet anyway, for FDA regulation of food grade nutritional supplements - I think the consumers should be the regulatory effect through purchasing or not purchasing, and not have the government regulate this further.

A new investigation may have you rethinking some of your vitamins. Consumer Reports finds certain ingredients in dietary supplements sold around the country can carry major health risks, including heart palpitations, allergic reactions and pain, reports CBS Sports' Dana Jacobson.

Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner died after overdosing on a caffeine powder supplement he bought online. A new study by Consumer Reports outlined health risks associated with dietary supplements -- including vitamins, probiotics and weight-loss aids. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective, dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA approval.

"If it could kill someone like Logan, it has no borders - it will kill again," said his mother, Katie Stiner. "It's what you don't know - I think that's the thing that we're most concerned about," said Lisa Gill, deputy content editor at Consumer Reports. "Just because it's not prescription, you say, 'oh, it's safe,' but that's not necessarily true."

"What is the biggest misconception about supplements?" Jacobson asked. "Oh, that they're safe. A manufacturer doesn't have to prove to the FDA before it gets put on the shelves -- that what's in those tablets, is what they say is there," Gill said.

A new study by Consumer Reports outlined health risks associated with dietary supplements -- including vitamins, probiotics and weight-loss aids. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective, dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA approval.

Gill said this leaves the consumer at risk. "It could be adulterated, it could be counterfeit, it could be hiding prescription drugs," Gill said.

Consumer Reports worked with independent doctors and dietary experts to identify 15 ingredients they say consumers should always avoid. They include caffeine powder found in some weight-loss supplements - like Kava, which claims to reduce anxiety and red yeast rice in supplements, which claims to reduce cholesterol.

Gill urges consumers to always avoid 15 specific ingredients. "They are known to have very specific harms. In some cases they can cause seizures or they can cause liver or kidney damage, there have been deaths associated with each of these," Gill said. But they found all 15 ingredients are available in supplements online or in major retailers. The Council for Responsible Nutrition -- which represents the supplement industry -- responded in a statement: "More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements each year... Overwhelmingly, dietary supplements are safe and play a valuable role in helping Americans live healthy lifestyles."

But Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, disagrees. "Consumers need to know that they cannot trust that anything sold as a supplement is what's actually listed on the label," Cohen said. "Nor that it works. Or that it's safe."

The FDA acknowledged its limited role in regulating the industry, saying "it's important to remind consumers, that just because you can buy supplements in stores doesn't mean the FDA has reviewed them for safety or efficacy."

Gill recommends consumers look for the United States Pharmacopoeia or USP label and consult a medical expert. "Tell your doctor and your pharmacist what you're taking. Treat it like a medication. It's that important -- it's really about your health," Gill said.

MyAchingKnees comment: Look in the Physicians Desk Reference for supplements manufactured under pharmacuetical grade processes.


And yet another, older article titled "Unsafe, recalled dietary supplements still being sold" from October 2014 posted on CBS News.

Dietary supplements containing potentially dangerous prescription drug ingredients may still be for sale even years after safety recalls, a study found. In supplements bought online, researchers detected hidden steroids, similar ingredients to Viagra and Prozac and a weight loss drug linked with heart attacks.

They tested 27 products promising big muscles, sexual prowess, weight loss and more. Of those, 18 contained ingredients not approved for over-the-counter use; 17 still had the same drug that prompted the recalls.

Manufacturers are putting profit ahead of consumer health, but lax oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is contributing to the problem, said lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, an internist and researcher at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Boston-area health care system.

The tested supplements were recalled by manufacturers after FDA raised concerns about drugs in their products. This type of recall is usually voluntary, involving products that could potentially cause serious health problems and even death. The FDA's role includes assessing whether recalls successfully remove potentially unsafe products from the market.

"There should be significant legal and financial consequences for manufacturers who the FDA finds to be continuing to sell these spiked supplements," Cohen said. Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements don't need FDA approval before they are marketed. Still, their labels must list all ingredients and manufacturers are not allowed to sell products that are "adulterated or misbranded," the agency's website states.

The study was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors say laws that increase FDA's enforcement powers may be needed to fix the problem.

In response to the study, the FDA said it has issued hundreds of consumer alerts warning about tainted products, sent warning letters to supplement makers "and pursued civil and criminal enforcement" against those illegally marketed products. Deterring manufacturers is sometimes challenging because they are often difficult to locate and some are overseas, the agency said.

The researchers bought 27 of the 274 supplements recalled from 2009 to 2012. The products were purchased in summer 2013 from manufacturers' websites or other online retailers. An Oregon research laboratory tested them. Whether any consumers were harmed by using the tainted supplements was beyond the study's scope.

Among the 27 products:

-Six weight loss supplements contained sibutramine or a substance similar to the diet drug removed from the U.S. market in 2010 after it was linked with heart attacks and strokes. Two also contained the active ingredient in Prozac.

-Ten body-building supplements contained anabolic steroids or related compounds, which have been linked with side effects including prostate cancer, aggression and infertility.

-One sexual enhancement product contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, which is not recommended for those taking some heart medicines.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a supplements trade group, said it encourages federal regulators to crack down on "rogue" companies.

"Unapproved or adulterated drugs' masquerading as lawful supplements is a threat to public health and to consumer confidence in the supplement industry," Scott Melville, the association's president and CEO, said in an emailed statement.
 
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Monday, July 18, 2016

9 Common Symptoms of Liver Disease

I abused Motrin and other prescriptions drugs for years. Wasn't ever worried then about my liver but that changed 10 years ago when I approached my late 40's. And having several friends die of liver cancer,....well today, I am just careful as I can be. I take aspirin sometimes, but never other prescription drugs - how can you when you hear of all the potential deadly and dreadful side effects? I prefer to build my health by living a healthy lifestyle. Avoid toxins, eating as healthy as I can, living a physical life and taking quality supplements. Among the supplements I take is a pharmaceutical grade liver cleansing product. You simply can't live without your liver.

Liver disease most often occurs due to an inherited predisposition. Other times, liver damage resulting from alcohol abuse, obesity, and viral infections is the cause. Chronic liver problems can result in cirrhosis, a serious condition that often leads to liver failure and death. Therefore, recognizing the symptoms is critical.

Here are some of the classic signs of liver disease…

Discolored Bowels (they mean stools).  Healthy stools range in hues of brown. Light-colored or pale stools can be due to blocked bile ducts or liver disease. If your bowels are clay-colored, you may have issues with drainage of your biliary system, which includes the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

MyAchingKnees comment: Nobody likes to talk abut poop, but the color and whether it floats or not, is another tool that the individual can use to assess if issues are likely.

Coated Tongue.  A coated tongue is a sign that your body isn’t digesting food properly, allowing bowel bacteria and yeast to overgrow. The liver helps us digest fat by making bile. When there are problems, we aren’t able to produce enough bile for proper digestion.

Body Odor. Bad body odor can be caused by liver problems. Liver disease can change the consistency of sweat, resulting in a foul smell. See your doctor if you begin to sweat at night, sweat more than you usually do, get cold sweats, or smell different (fruity).

Dark Circles Under the Eyes.  Dark circles under the eyes are an external manifestation of chronic liver disease. In a significant amount of people with liver problems, dark circles in the facial area are visible. Individuals with liver inflammation have especially dark under eye circles.

Bad Breath.  People with liver disease tend to have bad breath, known in medical circles as fetor hepaticus. It is characterized by a musty, foul-smelling odor coming from the mouth and usually manifests prior to more obvious symptoms of the condition.

MyAchingKnees comment:  Bad breath is also linked to fluoride tooth pastes.  Try a natural tooth paste,.....I do...... and my mouth has never ben healthier.

Itchy/Swollen Palms and Soles.  Stubborn itchiness in the hands and feet can be a symptom of liver failure. Inflammation and liver scarring are linked to fatty liver disease and can cause the body to itch. It typically starts at the soles and palms, which can also become swollen.

Jaundice.  Jaundice refers to when the skin becomes yellow, along with the nails and the whites of the eyes. This occurs when the liver isn’t breaking down bilirubin as it should. Those suffering from jaundice may also have dark urine and light-colored stool.

MyAchingKnees comment: For some people during the first 2-5 days following the starting on quality supplements, they will feel a little down and may have jaundice but this is temporary and is likely due to toxins leaving the body. ....refer to the color of poop above.    

Nausea.  The initial symptoms of liver failure are usually nausea, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and exhaustion. But these can be caused by a variety of things. Be sure to have liver disease ruled out if recurring nausea occurs, especially if there are other symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalance. Liver disease can lead to the body’s failure to manage the production and processing of hormones. In men, this can result in enlarged breasts (gynecomastia), as well as withered testicles. Females may have their menstrual cycles disrupted.

Article from Reinventing Aging.org



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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Predictors of Alzheimers

From an article on msn.com lifestyle titled "10 surprising Alzheimer’s predictors"

About 5.2 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the aging population will drive that number to an estimated 7.1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers have identified several types of brain abnormalities in people with the disease, notably plaques made of clumps of beta-amyloid protein and tangles of a protein called tau. Both correlate with the death of brain cells, leading to progressive memory loss, dwindling social skills and, eventually, death. As Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, director of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute and co-author of "The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook," puts it, Alzheimer’s memory loss goes beyond the usual “I forgot where I put my keys” to “I forgot what my keys are for.” Age, family history, having the Apolipoprotein E genotype and being female are the leading predictors of the disease. But researchers are finding other predictive correlations, especially in lifestyle.

Several biomarkers seem to correlate with Alzheimer’s, including certain proteins in spinal fluid or blood and mutations detectable by brain imaging. Michael Weiner, principal investigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and director of San Francisco’s Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease, works with PET scans of study participants’ brains. While definitive Alzheimer’s diagnoses have formerly been made postmortem, Weiner said he was surprised to discover he could detect the Alzheimer’s-correlated amyloid protein in living people. Brain changes can begin 25 years before the onset of the disease. A 2012 study led by Dr. Michelle Mielke of the Mayo Clinic found that women with the highest level of a fatty compound called serum ceramide in their blood were 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women with lower levels of the compound. However, patients often avoid these types of tests for fear of losing medical insurance.

Heart history. Trouble with the vascular system is linked to Alzheimer’s. High blood pressure, especially in midlife, increases your risk. So can your heart history. People who have previously had a heart attack are more than twice as likely to develop dementia, whether it's Alzheimer’s or another type. Weiner emphasizes the importance of controlling your blood pressure. Decreasing stress also helps lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Diabetes and obesity. Insulin-resistant diabetes could double or even quadruple your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. An enzyme in your brain is responsible for decreasing both insulin and amyloid, so too much insulin may interfere with the enzyme’s ability to remove the amyloid. Obesity also increases your odds, especially for women, who may be three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as their thinner peers, according to the Fortanasce-Barton Neurology Center. Obese men increase their risk by about 30 percent. Exercise benefits both the obese and the diabetic. Dr. Joe Verghese, director of the Resnick Gerontology Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, prescribes physical activity and clean living. He admits that both he and his patients might rather take a pill than exercise and eat right. “I hate exercise,” he says. “But I do it because it’s good for me. A lot of this is common sense.”

Low education. Lower levels of formal education and a general lack of mental stimulation correlate with increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Verghese led a study that identified dancing as the most helpful physical activity for avoiding Alzheimer’s, partly due to the social aspect. “You don’t usually dance alone,” he says. “Social interaction has been said to reduce stress levels, which are bad for the brain.” Sabbagh agrees, noting, “People who do volunteering, traveling, crossword puzzles — you name it, those people tend to be better off intellectually.” But the science is fuzzy, he says, because socially engaged people tend to take better care of themselves in general. He’s also uncertain about the dose and intensity. “If I do three hours of volunteering or sudoku versus one hour, am I more protected?” he asks. And does he have to do the New York Times crossword, or is the one in his local Arizona paper sufficient?

Lack of fruits, vegetables and spices in diet. Diets low in vegetables may speed cognitive decline. One reason for this involves homocysteine, an amino acid in blood plasma. Higher levels seem to increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, among other deadly diseases. You need folate and other B vitamins to properly break down homocysteine. While all types of vegetables will help, Sabbagh recommends kale, squash, eggplant, collard greens and blueberries as cognitive superstars. Certain spices, notably cinnamon and turmeric, may also have a dramatic effect. “There’s clear evidence that people in India, at least from epidemiological data, have less Alzheimer’s,” says Sabbagh. “One of the environmental things people attribute it to is the presence of turmeric.” He also recommends following the Mediterranean diet.

Head traumas. Boxers’ cerebral spinal fluid contains elevated markers for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2006 study led by Henrik Zetterberg of the Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University in Sweden as well as a larger 2012 study led by Sanna Neselius at the same institution. In Alzheimer’s earliest stages, the disease can change levels of beta-amyloid and tau — proteins associated with clumps and tangles — in spinal fluid. Boxers who have the Apolipoprotein E genotype are at even greater risk. Alzheimer’s patients who suffered significant head injuries before age 65 showed symptoms at an earlier age than those who hadn’t had head injuries. Sabbagh recommends avoiding contact sports involving your head and using protective headgear.

Gait changes. A deteriorating gait and the inability to simultaneously walk and talk may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s. “Walking while talking is a divided attention task,” says Verghese, who has long studied gait changes in patients with non-Alzheimer’s dementia. “Now, if you are in the early stages of dementia or actually have dementia, then this becomes more challenging because you have limited attention resources.” Five different studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference tied gait change to the disease. Alzheimer’s correlated with slower and/or erratic walking and difficulty in performing such tasks as walking while counting backward.

Poor navigation. Since Alzheimer’s starts in the hippocampus, often called the brain’s seat of memory, disorientation is a hallmark of the disease. This accounts for why people with Alzheimer’s are notorious for wandering off and getting lost. “Navigational problems might arise very early in the course of cognitive decline,” says Verghese. He’s now working on a National Institutes of Health-funded study that looks at people’s ability to navigate and whether those who are navigationally challenged will face faster cognitive decline.

Depression and social withdrawal. People who suffer from depression earlier in life are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they age. A study by the Multi-Institutional Research in Alzheimer’s Genetic Epidemiology group, led by Robert Green of Harvard Medical School and published in Archives of Neurology in 2003, found a significant link between Alzheimer’s diagnoses and people who had shown symptoms of depression within the past year. So while doctors have long noted that people with Alzheimer’s tend to become depressed and withdraw socially, recent studies show that the depression predates dementia.

Sleep problems. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea have been linked to cognitive deficits. Previous studies found Alzheimer’s plaque developing in mice’s brains when their sleeping schedules were significantly disrupted. A study released in 2012 correlated sleep disruption and Alzheimer’s in humans. The Washington University study, led by David Holtzman of the college's Department of Neurology, studied 145 cognitively normal people. Those with biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, as measured in their spinal fluid, were the worst sleepers. They spent more of their time in bed awake and napped more frequently during the day than those without the Alzheimer’s biomarkers. Sleep apnea is also linked to nighttime cardiac events and high blood pressure, both of which also correlate with Alzheimer’s.

A few lifestyle tips to end on hopeful note. Despite what he describes as nihilism about the disease within much of the medical community, Sabbagh emphasizes that there’s hope. Medications to treat the disease have improved in the past 16 years, he says. “The field itself is moving forward very rapidly. Granted, there are lots of frustrations and failures, but that doesn’t mean the science has stood still.” Sabbagh recommends making lifestyle changes as a preventative strategy right away. Eat your greens. Exercise. Value your social connections, and use your brain power. “You should not wait,” Sabbagh says, “because by the time you become symptomatic, the pathology in your brain is significant.”



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Monday, June 20, 2016

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD

"French children don't need medications to control their behavior", by Marilyn Wedge, Ph.D., posted on Psychology Today. Dr. Wedge makes a good point with France's broader look at ADHD including social influences. I tend to think most ADHD children as being helped some or very much by the nutritional approach - limiting high glycemic foods and ensuring the child get's proper nutrients in the right amounts through supplementation included optimizers such as Omega 3 essential fatty acids, but certainly a total approach is usually the best to include a stabilized social order.

In the United States, at least 9 percent of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5 percent. How has the epidemic of ADHD—firmly established in the U.S.—almost completely passed over children in France?

Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the U.S. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological—psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children's focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child's brain but in the child's social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child's brain.

French child psychiatrists don't use the same system of classification of childhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM. According to Sociologist Manuel Vallee, the French Federation of Psychiatry developed an alternative classification system as a resistance to the influence of the DSM-3. This alternative was the CFTMEA (Classification Française des Troubles Mentaux de L'Enfant et de L'Adolescent), first released in 1983, and updated in 1988 and 2000. The focus of CFTMEA is on identifying and addressing the underlying psychosocial causes of children's symptoms, not on finding the best pharmacological bandaids with which to mask symptoms.

To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child's social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to "pathologize" much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSM specifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.

The French holistic, psychosocial approach also allows for considering nutritional causes for ADHD-type symptoms—specifically the fact that the behavior of some children is worsened after eating foods with artificial colors, certain preservatives, and/or allergens. Clinicians who work with troubled children in this country—not to mention parents of many ADHD kids—are well aware that dietary interventions can sometimes help a child's problem. In the U.S., the strict focus on pharmaceutical treatment of ADHD, however, encourages clinicians to ignore the influence of dietary factors on children's behavior.

And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the U.S. and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, Bringing up Bébé. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the U.S.

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means "frame" or "structure." Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies "cry it out" (for no more than a few minutes of course) if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.

French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word "no" rescues children from the "tyranny of their own desires." And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France. (Dr Wedge's note: I am not personally in favor of spanking children).

As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don't need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.

Read more about why French kids don't have ADHD and American kids do in Marilyn Wedge's new book based on this article: A Disease Called Childhood: Why ADHD Became an American Epidemic.



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