Category Archives: Health and Wellness

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Imagination…

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Don’t wait to get healthy!

From The Doctor will see you now”, link here

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The rate of heart disease in the U.S. has declined steadily over the last 40 years. But even though heart attacks are uncommon in young women, the rate for deaths in women 35 to 44 years of age has remained about the same. Researchers wondered if this could be explained by certain lifestyle choices and set out to test their theory.

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What they found is that young women — and presumably men — can avoid many heart problems simply by developing six healthy lifestyle habits that greatly reduce the risk of having a heart attack or developing a risk factor for heart disease as they get older.

Up to 75 percent of heart attacks that occur in women could be prevented had they followed healthy lifestyle practices, the study found. Even those women with a diagnosed risk factor for heart disease who adhered to at least four of the healthy practices had a lower risk of developing the disease.

Researchers defined the six healthy lifestyle practices as:

  • Not smoking
  • Exercising at least 2 ½ hours per week
  • Eating a diet low in red meat, refined grains and sugar, and high in vegetables and whole grains
  • Having a body mass index in the normal range
  • Watching less than seven hours of television weekly
  • Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day

The study followed nearly 70,000 women for 20 years who were, on average, 37 years old at the beginning of the study. During the course of the study, 456 women had heart attacks, and over 31,000 women were diagnosed with at least one risk factor for heart disease.

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The women in the study who practiced all six healthy habits had a 92 percent lower risk of having a heart attack and were 66 percent less likely to develop a risk factor for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol, compared to women who ignored the six healthy habits.

Those women who were diagnosed with a risk factor, yet who practiced at least four of the healthy practices, had a markedly lower risk of developing heart disease as they got older, compared to those who didn’t adhere to any of the practices.

Looking at the healthy practices independently, exercise, not smoking, healthy diet, and lower BMI each were associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and women who consumed one drink a day had the lowest risk, compared to those who didn’t consume any alcohol or those who consumed a larger amount.

A surprise finding was that 140 of the 456 women who suffered heart attacks during the study had a normal body mass index or BMI meaning that a healthy weight isn’t necessarily a protective factor. Their lack of exercise, unhealthy diets, and smoking status are factors that may well have contributed to their heart problems.

Lifestyle plays a huge role in a person’s risk of developing heart disease, and lifestyle changes are often the first recommended intervention when someone is diagnosed with a risk factor. Unfortunately, more often than not, people don’t decide to make changes to their lifestyle until after a coronary event has occurred.

The study sends an important message to young women (men, too). The time to establish healthy habits is early in life — in your 20s. Waiting until something happens to decide to “get healthy” can be a gamble that may not pay off.

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

How Exercise Keep Us Young

4/18/2017: New York Times, see article here.

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Active older people resemble much younger people physiologically, according to a new study of the effects of exercise on aging. The findings suggest that many of our expectations about the inevitability of physical decline with advancing years may be incorrect and that how we age is, to a large degree, up to us. Aging remains a surprisingly mysterious process. A wealth of past scientific research has shown that many bodily and cellular processes change in undesirable ways as we grow older. But science has not been able to establish definitively whether such changes result primarily from the passage of time — in which case they are inevitable for anyone with birthdays — or result at least in part from lifestyle, meaning that they are mutable. This conundrum is particularly true in terms of inactivity. Older people tend to be quite sedentary nowadays, and being sedentary affects health, making it difficult to separate the effects of not moving from those of getting older.

In the new study, which was published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach. They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.  “We wanted to understand what happens to the functioning of our bodies as we get older if we take the best­case scenario,” said Stephen Harridge, senior author of the study and director of the Centre of Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London. To accomplish that goal, the scientists recruited 85 men and 41 women aged between 55 and 79 who bicycle regularly. The volunteers were all serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The men had to be able to ride at least 62 miles in six and a half hours and the women 37 miles in five and a half hours, benchmarks typical of a high degree of fitness in older people. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes. They also had the volunteers complete the so-called Timed Up and Go test, during which someone stands up from a chair without using his or her arms, briskly walks about 10 feet, turns, walks back and sits down again.

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The researchers compared the results of cyclists in the study against each other and also against standard benchmarks of supposedly normal aging. If a particular test’s numbers were similar among the cyclists of all ages, the researchers considered, then that measure would seem to be more dependent on activity than on age. As it turned out, the cyclists did not show their age. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability. And their Timed Up and Go results were exemplary. Many older people require at least 7 seconds to complete the task, with those requiring 9 or 10 seconds considered to be on the cusp of frailty, Dr. Harridge said. But even the oldest cyclists in this study averaged barely 5 seconds for the walk, which is “well within the norm reported for healthy young adults,” the study authors write.

Some aspects of aging did, however, prove to be ineluctable. The oldest cyclists had less muscular power and mass than those in their 50s and early 60s and considerably lower overall aerobic capacities. Age does seem to reduce our endurance and strength to some extent, Dr. Harridge said, even if we exercise. But even so, both of those measures were higher among the oldest cyclists than would be considered average among people aged 70 or above. All in all, the numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active. “If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age” of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, Dr. Harridge said, “it would be impossible.” On paper, they all look young. Of course, this study is based on a single snapshot of an unusual group of older adults, Dr. Harridge said. He and his colleagues plan to retest their volunteers in five and 10 years, which will provide better information about the ongoing effects of exercise on aging. But even in advance of those results, said Dr. Harridge, himself almost 50 and an avid cyclist, this study shows that “being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young person’s.”

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It’s good for every body!

 

A version of this article appears in print on 01/13/2015, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: A Prescription for Youth. © 2017 The New York Times Company

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Yoga for a Quiet Mind

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Maybe for Big Kids Too?

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BONUS recipe! Slow cooker Beef Tacos with Rhubarb salsa

Spring has sprung!  Time to honor the underutilized veg, rhubarb.

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From Eating Well, link here

Recipe By: Carolyn Casner
“The fresh salsa in this easy load-and-go taco recipe is a great way to use spring rhubarb. If you don’t have rhubarb, try subbing in fresh tomatillos or red bell pepper for an equally beautiful and delicious taco topper.”

Ingredients

    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
    • 3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or grapeseed oil
    • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
    • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
    • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1 cup chopped fresh rhubarb
    • 1 teaspoon white sugar
    • ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper
    • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded if desired, finely chopped
    • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon lime juice
    • 16 corn tortillas
    • Lime wedges for serving

Directions

  • Combine chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and 1¼ teaspoons salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle beef with 2 tablespoons of the mixture.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Place onion slices in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the beef. Whisk broth and tomato paste into the remaining spice mixture and pour over the beef.
  • Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours. Shred the beef with 2 forks. Stir back into the liquid.
  • Meanwhile, toss rhubarb and sugar together in a medium bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add bell pepper, jalapeño to taste, red onion, cilantro, lime juice and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and stir to combine.
  • Serve the beef with tortillas, the rhubarb salsa and lime wedges.
  • Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

Aromatic braised chicken, hidden veg and quinoa hot pot

This is the last of the great recipes posted in The Guardian, Eat Well For Less.  Click here for the full article.

One pot and you’re good to go. The braised, browned and caramelised meat intensifies and spreads the meaty flavour allowing you to sneak in plenty of protective fibre and veg. Quinoa? Because it’s not that fancy any more and with its low glycaemic index it’s better than eating refined carbs.

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Serves 4–6 (good to make a big batch, you’ll want the extra)

chicken 8 skinless, boneless thighs
extra-virgin olive oil
onions 2 large
leek 1 large (or add a third onion)
garlic 6 cloves
ginger a thumb-sized piece
chillies 4 red or green (seeds out for a milder version)
tomato puree 2 large tbsp
honey 1 tbsp
soy sauce 6 tbsp
star anise 1
chestnut mushrooms 2 handfuls
Chinese leaf cabbage ½ a head
quinoa 50g per person
spring onions 4, chopped

Use a heavy cast-iron dish in an oven (preheated to 160C/ gas mark 3) for the best, slow-cooked meltiness. You can also just simmer on the hob.

Roughly chop the chicken into large strips and brown over a high heat with a splash of olive oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan and if necessary brown the chicken in two batches. Stir occasionally but you are aiming to get some crispy caramelised bits on the edges and bottom of the pan to add umami intensity to the dish.

Peel, half and roughly chop the onions into large strips. Do the same with the leek and wash thoroughly to get rid of any muddy bits in the layers. Add to the pan with the browned chicken and start to soften.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic and ginger together with the chillies. Leave the seeds in if you like spice or remove if you prefer perfumed warmth. Add to the pan with the tomato puree. Cook together for another couple of minutes.

Now add the honey, soy sauce, star anise and enough cold water to barely cover (around 2 glasses usually). Bring to a simmer and scrape around the bottom of the pan to dislodge any crispy bits. Place in your preheated oven to slow cook and braise for the next 2 hours.

After 2 hours remove, stir and check the hot pot. You should have a reduced, intensely umami-flavoured sauce. You want this to be strong because it will become diluted by the water in the additional veg. Now add your washed and sliced mushrooms and Chinese cabbage. Return to the oven for another hour.

Towards the end, boil the quinoa separately until the seeds open. Drain and then add straight into the hot pot and stir together. Fish out the star anise and taste for final seasoning – add a final splash of soy sauce if you like. Garnish with finely chopped spring onion for a fresh finish.