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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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More Olive Oil May Bring Longer Life

Swapping out the butter or other artery-clogging fats in your diet for heart-healthy olive oil may add years to your life, researchers say.

Folks who consume more than 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil a day are less likely to die from heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or lung disease when compared to people who consume less of this healthy fat, a new study finds.

It’s not just adding olive oil to your diet that staves off death from disease, said study author Marta Guasch-Ferre, a research scientist in the nutrition department at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “We need to pay attention to overall diet quality and lifestyle, and consistent with our results, the key would be to add olive oil into the diet as a substitution of other unhealthier fats.”

Olive oil is rich in healthful antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamins, and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. “One may speculate that mechanisms related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of olive oil may have played a role in these findings,” Guasch-Ferre said.

Olive oil use could also be a marker for a healthier lifestyle. Folks in the study who consumed the most olive oil were more physically active, less likely to smoke and ate more fruits and vegetables than people who consumed less olive oil.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data on more than 90,000 people from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study who were free of heart disease and cancer when the study began in 1990. These folks were followed for 28 years. Every four years, they were asked how often they ate certain foods, including fats such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise, dairy fat and olive oil.

When compared with people who never consumed olive oil, those who consumed more than 1/2 a tablespoon a day had a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, a 17% lower risk of dying from cancer, a 29% lower risk of dying from a neurodegenerative disease, and an 18% lower risk of dying from lung disease.

The researchers also developed statistical models to simulate what would happen if a person swapped out 3/4 a tablespoon of margarine, butter, mayonnaise or other vegetable oils with olive oil. This switch reduced the chances of dying from all causes. Substituting olive oil for other vegetable oils such as canola, corn, safflower and soybean didn’t have the same effect, the study showed.

The findings are published in the Jan. 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Many questions on the potential health benefits of olive oil need answering before broad recommendations on its use can be made, wrote Susanna Larsson in an accompanying editorial. She is an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

For example, Larsson asked, “What is the amount of olive oil required for a protective effect? Are the protective effects confined to polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil or are refined olive oil and other vegetable oils as beneficial?”

Nutritionists not involved in the new study point out that eating a healthy, balanced diet is more important than any one food.

Olive oil

It’s not just the olive oil that confers these health benefits, it’s likely what the olive oil travels with and/or adds flavor to, said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health emerita at New York University.

“Olive oil is part of the classic heart-healthy Mediterranean diet,” Nestle noted. This style of eating includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, and is low in processed foods. “It’s never about one food, it’s really about dietary patterns,” she said.

Olive oil has calories, and they can add up quickly, Nestle pointed out. There are about 120 calories in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

This isn’t a lot of olive oil either, said Meghan McLarney, a dietitian at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. “A typical salad at a restaurant has about 4 tablespoons of dressing.”

Replacing a fat is different from adding one to your diet, and there are easy ways to replace butter and other animal fats with olive oil, she said.

“If a recipe calls for butter, cut out half of the butter and replace it with olive oil,” McLarney said. “This blend is a great way of transitioning and introducing a healthier fat but keeping the flavor.”

Swapping out butter or margarine for olive oil or infused olive oil can make a great flavoring on whole grains, vegetables and proteins. “You can bake with olive oil, too,” she said.

Learn more about healthy fats and how to include them in your diet at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

SOURCES: Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, senior research scientist, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Marion Nestle, PhD, Paulette Goddard professor, nutrition, food studies, and public health, emerita, New York University, New York City; Meghan McLarney, RD, dietitian, Nebraska Medicine, Omaha; Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan. 11, 2022

By Denise Mann       HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 11, 2022       HealthDay News

source: www.webmd.com


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Raw or Cooked? How Best to Eat 11 Fruits and Vegetables

Find out which foods you should eat raw or cooked to maximize antioxidants.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of nutrients and antioxidants like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols that help prevent health issues like cancer and cardiovascular disease and can improve mood. Antioxidants help your body counteract damage caused by toxic byproducts called free radicals. Eating more fruits and vegetables also increases your vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamine, and niacin, minerals, and fiber.

But it can be tricky to know how you should store and prepare fresh foods to get the most nutrients.

Luckily, when you store most fruits and vegetables, this generally does not affect antioxidants levels. In fact, antioxidant levels can even go up in the few days after you buy the fruits and vegetables. But when you start to see the fruit or vegetable spoil and turn brown, that usually means that they have started to lose antioxidants. The main exceptions are broccoli, bananas, and apricots, which are more sensitive and start to lose their antioxidants during storage within days, so eat those sooner than later.

Whether you should cook or eat raw fruits or vegetables to maximize antioxidants varies. Some vegetables like mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers gain certain antioxidants after they are cooked.

1. Tomatoes: Cooked may be better than raw.

Storage tip: Even though this will make shelf life shorter, store tomatoes in room temperature since tomatoes can lose antioxidants (and flavor) when stored in cooler temperatures.

Cook your tomatoes to release higher levels of lycopene and total antioxidant activity. You can cook them for up to 30 minutes at 190.4 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Celsius). Lycopene is found in red fruits and vegetables like watermelon, red bell pepper, and papaya and has been linked to lower rates of cancer.

Raw tomatoes have less overall antioxidants, but have more vitamin C.

2. Carrots: Cooked may be better than raw.

Cook your carrots to get more beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted in your body to vitamin A, which is good for your eyes and immune system. Sous Vide carrots for best results. Steaming or boiling carrots preserves more antioxidants than roasting, frying or microwaving carrots. If you’re in Top Chef mode and want to maximize antioxidants, try sous vide carrots, which has even more antioxidants than steamed carrots.

3. Broccoli: Raw and cooked.

Storage tip: Keep broccoli wrapped in packaging in the refrigerator at 1 degree Celsius (or 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Unlike most vegetables, broccoli tends to lose antioxidants faster than other vegetables when stored without packaging, particularly when it starts to lose its color and turn yellow. Wrap the broccoli in microperforated or non-perforated packaging to keep antioxidants for longer.

If you eat raw broccoli, you’ll get higher levels of an enzyme called myrosinase, which creates helpful compounds like sulforaphane, which blocks the growth of cancer cells and helps fight Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers. Myrosinase is sensitive to heat and thus destroyed during cooking.

Cooked broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, increases indole, which is thought to be protective against cancer. Steamed broccoli has also better potential to reduce cholesterol than raw broccoli.

Sous vide or steam broccoli to keep antioxidants and nutrients. Boiling 9-15 minutes causes the loss of up to 60 percent of nutritious compounds become leached into the water. Stir-frying and a combination of boiling and stir-frying (common in Chinese cuisine) causes the most loss of vitamin C and nutrients. Steaming allows broccoli to retain better color and texture.

broccoli

4. Cauliflower: Raw and cooked.

Fresh cauliflower has 30 percent more protein and many different types of antioxidants such as quercetin. Raw cauliflower keeps the most antioxidants overall, but cooking cauliflower increases indole levels.

Don’t boil cauliflower in water because that loses the most antioxidants. Water-boiling and blanching causes the worst loss of minerals and antioxidant compounds in cauliflower because many of the nutrients get leached into the water. Steam or sous vide cauliflower to maintain nutrients.

5. Brussel Sprouts, cabbage: Raw and steamed.

Brussel sprouts and cabbage are cruciferous vegetables rich in compounds protective for cancer. One study found that people who consumed about 300 grams or two-thirds pound of Brussels sprouts daily for a week had higher levels of a detox enzyme in the colon, which helps explain the link between eating cruciferous vegetables and lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Raw Brussels sprouts give you the most folate and vitamin C. Steaming Brussels sprouts can release more indole compounds (but they arguably taste best when roasted!).

6. Kale: Raw and blanched.

Kale has beta-carotene, vitamin C, and polyphenols. Cooking kale significantly lowers vitamin C and overall antioxidants. Keep kale raw or, if you prefer cooked, blanch or steam kale to minimize antioxidant loss.

7. Eggplant: Cooked and grilled.

Grill eggplant to make it a lot richer in antioxidants compared to raw or boiled (and it tastes a lot better too). Don’t forget to salt your eggplant slices before cooking to get rid of excess moisture and bitterness.

8. Red Peppers: Raw and cooked (stir-fry, roasted).

Red peppers are a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids, polyphenols, and other phytochemicals. Raw red peppers provide more vitamin C because vitamin C breaks down with heat. But other antioxidants like carotenoids and ferulic acid go up when red peppers are cooked.

Stir-fry or roast red peppers. Do not boil red peppers—boiling red peppers loses the most nutrients and antioxidants. Stir-frying and roasting actually preserves red pepper antioxidants, more than steaming.

9. Garlic and onions: Raw and cooked.

Garlic and onions have been linked with foods that help fight high blood pressure. Red onions have the highest amount of quercetin, a type of flavonoid family antioxidant thought to protect against certain forms of cancer, heart disease, and aging.

Garlic and onions are pretty hardy when cooked. You can blanch, fry, and even microwave them without changing their antioxidant levels by much, so prepare them however you like.

10. Artichokes: Cooked.

Cook your artichokes in order to boost their antioxidants. Steam artichokes to boost antioxidants levels by 15-fold and boil them to boost them by 8-fold. Microwaving them also increases an artichoke’s antioxidants. But don’t fry them– that plummets flavonoids, a type of antioxidant.

11. Blueberries: Raw and cooked.

Blueberries are one of the fruits with the highest levels of antioxidants, and you can eat them raw or cooked to get the most antioxidants. One study found that some type of antioxidants levels went up with cooking blueberries, while others went down.

Here are some final general tips:

Avoid deep-frying. Bad news for vegetable tempura fans: Deep-frying vegetables creates free radicals from the hot oil. Not only are free radicals damaging for the body, but the vegetables lose much of their antioxidants in the process.

Fresh is generally better than frozen. Vegetables like spinach and cauliflower can lose B vitamins in the process of being frozen.

At the end of the day, prepare your fruits and vegetables so that you’ll be more likely to eat them. As long as you stay away from the deep fryer, fresh fruits and vegetables will generally give you a lot more nutrients and antioxidants than processed foods.

 Marlynn Wei, MD, PLLC            October 3, 2015       Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

source: www.psychologytoday.com


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If The Cold Months Have You Down, You May Be Experiencing This Disorder

It may be more than winter blues.
 
With temperatures dropping and the days getting darker sooner, you may find it’s affecting your mood — and you may not feel like leaving the house as much either. Maybe you think it’s just a case of winter blues. The cause might also be something a bit more serious, like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the Cleveland Clinic, this condition is exactly what it sounds like, a “depression that gets triggered by a change in seasons, usually when fall starts.” And it gets worse in the winter. But, thankfully, when spring arrives, SAD typically ends.
 
Approximately 5% of the population suffers from SAD and it may be more common in states that experience colder, gloomier weather. For instance, some surveys found SAD prevalence to be 9.7% in New Hampshire yet only 1.4% percent in Florida. And numerous studies have found that it affects women more. Statistics aside, if you think you may suffer from SAD, there are ways to cope with it and make it more manageable. But first let’s talk about the symptoms.
 
“SAD is a condition that typically affects people in the colder, darker months,” Dr. Bradley Nelson of DiscoverHealing.com, and author of “The Emotion Code”, tells TZR in an email. “Symptoms include sadness, moodiness, and a lack of energy that begin in the fall and continue through winter.” Raina Wadhawan, Ed.M, LMHC, and licensed psychotherapist at TherapyWithRaina.com, agrees that there are certain signs you can watch out for. “Common symptoms of major depressive episodes that occur in a seasonal pattern include fatigue, depressed or low mood, hypersomnia, overeating, low motivation, loss of interest in activities, and changes in weight,” she tells TZR in an email.
 
Gail Saltz MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the “How Can I Help?” podcast from iHeartRadio, also weighs in. An indicator of SAD can be if you have feelings of sadness, emptiness, and numbness, or high irritability for much of the day every day for several weeks, she tells TZR in an email. And these feelings tend to occur at the same time of year for more than one year in a row, typically late fall into winter and rarely in the spring or summer. “In addition, if you’re sleeping more than usual (and feeling exhausted anyway), and eating more than usual (with a propensity to eat carbs and gain weight),” she says. Other signs include the “loss of libido, loss of concentration, the inability to take pleasure in things, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide.”
 

How To Differentiate SAD From Year-Long Depression

Even though SAD occurs seasonally, how do you know if you’re suffering from it or general depression? “Timing is the essential feature that helps distinguish depression from depression with seasonal patterns,” says Wadhawan. “Individuals with SAD must meet the depressive disorder criteria symptoms for at least two years during a specific time of the year.” She notes that while depressive episodes can occur any time in the year, SAD occurs in seasonal patterns. “Additionally, the seasonal depressive episodes must outweigh the non-seasonal depressive episodes.”
 
“Winter blues,” on the other hand, is a mental state defined by feelings of sadness and fatigue during the coldest and darkest months of the year. “It is important to note that “winter blues” is not SAD,” Wadhawan says. “SAD is more severe and debilitating.”
 

How Someone Is Diagnosed With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Wadhawan says that if you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD, see a mental health professional for a thorough evaluation. “Your clinician will explore and identify your symptoms of major depression, durations of the symptoms, and frequency of the episodes before making diagnoses,” she explains. Dr. Fumi Stephanie Hancock, PsychDNP, founder of POB Psychiatry and the author of 24 self-help books, treats many cases of SAD. She, too, says that if you don’t feel better or your symptoms get worse, see a doctor and get professional help. “Some people need antidepressants and/or psychotherapy during the fall and winter months to help them feel better,” she tells TZR in an email. “Remember, getting help is a sign of strength and is necessary for a lot of people.”
 
Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-Infographic
 

Some Ways To Combat SAD

Saltz says there are several self-soothing methods you can implement if you have SAD, including 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week, talking to others for social support, journaling your feelings, and meditation. “But if it’s clinically significant depression, it needs treatment with psychotherapy, possibly medication, and possibly light box therapy,” she adds. “The latter can be done on your own, but you should be screened to make sure light box therapy is safe for you and that you get a true therapeutic lightbox and directions for use.”
 
If you’re not familiar with light box therapy, it’s a type of light that mimics outdoor light and can help lift your mood — especially if you’re not getting outdoors much or are living in a darker climate. Since light boxes are not approved or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for SAD treatment, it’s helpful to discuss getting one with a mental health professional.
 
Speaking of light, Nelson suggests trying to get as much natural light as possible. “Lighten up,” he says. “Try to get outside as often as you can to soak up more light when the weather permits. Try taking a walk every day that you’re able to, keep window shades open, and set your workstation up near a window if you can.” Like Saltz, Nelson says exercising regularly can help, too. Although sticking to a workout routine in the winter may be a challenge, the benefits will be worth it. “It’ll increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can help fight off seasonal sadness,” he notes. “So get moving today, whether it’s a walk around the block, a virtual yoga class, or a hike in the mountains. Any form of exercise will do the trick.”
 
On a related note, Nelson says someone with SAD can try to exercise their brain, as well — by (re)balancing their energy with energy healing. “Releasing emotional baggage that may be holding you back is another great way to prevent the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or at least reduce their severity,” he says. “[This can help you] let go of those emotions and create more space for joy.”
 
Another way to boost your mood if you’re experiencing seasonal affective disorder is to eat healthy. Research shows that there is a correlation between what you eat and your mood. “Healthy nutrition is an important part of holistic healing for SAD,” says Nelson. “Choose recipes that contain natural mood boosters, such as dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, fish, and avocados.”
 
Hancock agrees with Nelson and says to make sure to eat a healthy diet filled with nutrient-rich foods that help your body function optimally. Avoiding alcohol is helpful, too. “It might be tempting to want to unwind with a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day, but alcohol is a downer and will only make your depression worse,” she says. “Stick to water as much as possible.”
 
Vitamin D supplements are another effective way to treat SAD. “Many people who experience depression from SAD also have lower vitamin D levels,” Hancock says. “Your doctor can do a simple blood test to determine your levels. Adding a vitamin D supplement is both easy and inexpensive, and has helped many people feel better. Your doctor can best advise you on how much you need to take.”
 
Adding more color to your workspace or home environment can also be helpful if you have SAD. “When you can, add bright vibrant colors to your space,” says Hancock. “For example, you could paint an accent wall a bright orange or yellow, decorate with a color pallet with bright and cheerful colors, and also wear colorful clothing.”
 
Additionally, Hancock suggests getting out of your current climate and heading south. “Make sure and use any paid time off and think about heading south for a break,” she says. “The days are a little longer with more sunlight, and the weather is much warmer, which will help relieve some of your depression. Walking around on the beach vs. being stuck indoors will definitely help improve how you feel.”
 
And, finally, getting excited about other things in life can help alleviate SAD symptoms. “We know that SAD comes about in certain people with a deficiency of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin,” says Hancock. “You can naturally boost serotonin by making sure all areas of your life are going well. Are you happy with your career? Are your personal relationships healthy and thriving? Are you excited about the future? Getting these parts of your life in order will help combat SAD.”
 
BY NATALIA LUSINSKI   12.18.2021
 
 


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22 Interesting Facts

Happy New Year!
In honor of 2022, I present to you 22 interesting little factoids to ponder.
  1. Avocados are toxic to almost every other animal except humans.
  2. Your body is actually designed to get 4 hours of sleep twice per day instead of 8 hours once.
  3. Loneliness is a greater hazard than obesity.
  4. Airplane food isn’t very tasty because our sense of smell and taste decrease by 20% to 50% while flying.
  5. A German study concludes that staring at women’s breasts for 10 minutes a day is better for your health than going to the gym.
  6. What you wear has an effect on how you behave.
  7. Men don’t generally finish maturing until around the age of 43.
    With women, it’s around the age of 32.
  8. Strawberries can whiten teeth.
    Strawberries
  9. Psychology says, you are not going to heal if you keep pretending that you are not hurt.
  10. Owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by more than a third.
  11. Intelligent men tend to be more faithful.
  12. Singing in the shower helps boost your immunity, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve your mood.
  13. Teenage years are considered to be the best and worst years of a person’s life.
  14. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain of 2 pounds (0.9 kg) in under a week.
  15. Sweet potato ranks Number One in nutrition of all vegetables.
  16. Psychology says, discipline is the highest form of self love.
  17. Having sex can unblock a stuffy nose.
  18. Sleep makes you more creative and makes your memories stronger.
  19. We’re more closely related to a mushroom, than a mushroom is related to plants.
  20. Music is so influential on the brain that the type you listen to actually has the ability to change the way you think and look at the world.
  21. Having a large amount of hair on your body is linked to having higher intelligence.
  22. Having an orgasm at least three times a week can reduce the l,ikelihood of death from coronary heart disease by 50%
@Fact  @UberFacts @PsychologyFacts Twitter
 
May 2022 bring you health, growth, prosperity and happiness.
May you not only survive but thrive!
~ Thanks for being here ~


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Make Sustainable Lifestyle Changes Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

When January 1st rolls around, many people commit to making changes to their lifestyle, especially those that relate to their health. Whether someone’s goal is to lose weight, eat less sugar, exercise more, or drink less alcohol, the start of a new year seems like the perfect time to “turn over a new leaf.”

Unfortunately, studies show that New Year’s resolutions are often pretty unsuccessful; it’s estimated that between 80 and 90% of New Year’s resolutions are never fulfilled!

Many give up on their newfound goals and resort to old habits by the end of February, usually because their resolutions are somewhat unrealistic and lead to burnout and disappointment.

What’s a better way to improve things like your diet, weight, and activity level? Experts tell us that making small changes is the best approach, as well as celebrating our success along the way.

Why Resolutions Don’t Work As Well As Slower, Sustainable Changes

If you find yourself making promises to turn your life and health around this year, then you’re not alone. In North America about half of adults make New Year’s resolutions each year.

One reason why January feels like the perfect time to adopt new habits is because of the indulgences associated with the holidays; many find themselves eating, spending, and drinking more at the end of the year, but sleeping and exercising less.

One way that people rationalize their poor habits during the holidays is by stating that they’ll change and improve once the new year rolls around. Typically, this mindset only serves as an excuse to make poor choices.

So what’s wrong with resolutions then? Why do they so often fail to lead to lasting changes?

Here are some of the reasons that experts believe over-ambitious resolutions may wind up backfiring:

  • Motivation usually declines after the first few months, and often it’s extrinsic motivation (such as to impress others) rather than intrinsic (self-motivated).
  • A clear action plan is never established, rather goals remain ambiguous.
  • People don’t think long-term; James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, estimates that it takes most people between two to eight months to develop a new habit.
  • Stress and interference aren’t taken into account.
  • Unmet milestones can wind up lowering self-trust and self-confidence, making it harder to push forward.
small-steps-can-lead-to-big-changes

To make new habits stick this year, here is what experts recommend focusing on instead:

1. Set small goals

Begin with small challenges that seem doable, rather than over-promising that you’ll make drastic improvements. Once you’ve gotten better at keeping up with a new habit, set the bar a bit higher as the months go by.

Write down your goals and be specific, as this has been shown to improve the odds of you following through with them. Ask yourself what specific steps you can start taking to eventually reach a bigger goal.

As Forbes Magazine puts it, “keep in mind that choosing realistic goals or resolutions and achieving them improves our mindset. Even a small victory is still a victory.”

2. Be realistic about your schedule and capabilities

If you want a habit to stick, you have to figure out how to make it fit into your life. Make your habits as simple, automatic, and stress-free as possible.

For example, determine the easiest place and time to exercise, or the best day to do healthy grocery shopping.

Remove as many interferences and obstacles as possible, such as lack of motivation at the end of a busy day (which may mean hitting the gym in the morning instead).

3. Plan for how you’ll handle stress

While you might feel very motivated at first to tackle your goals, eventually you’ll lose some steam and life will get in the way. We all deal with stress and difficult feelings at times that make healthy habits hard to sustain, whether due to feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, or bored.

Plan ahead for setbacks and stressors. Identify situations that tend to trigger you so you understand your patterns better. Come up with ways to overcome things like a busy schedule or trips that involve dining out more.

The more you can plan ahead, the better you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way.

4. Sustain motivation by celebrating your successes

Small changes made today that are sustained will yield larger results in the long run. This is why every success is something to celebrate, even if it’s something small like replacing one unhealthy meal with a better one each day.

Find ways to give yourself immediate positive feedback while you’re on your journey.

Take pictures of your progress, write down fitness goals you’ve reached, or track anything else that makes you feel proud, such as your weight, measurements, or other health markers. This builds confidence and trust in yourself which is important for pushing you forward.

Consider rewarding yourself along the way when you’ve reached a milestone, even if it’s something small like a massage, manicure, or day off of work to have fun.

Examples of Healthy “Lifestyle Changes” To Make This Year

  • Ready to set some realistic goals during the New Year? Consider focusing on some of these changes that can lead to substantial health improvements when practiced over time:
  • Cut out major sources of added sugar from your diet, such as soda, desserts, candy, or energy drinks.
  • Remove specific foods from your diet that tempt you to overeat, such as pizza, french fries, chips, etc. Alcohol is another substance that you may want to commit to cutting back on.
  • Carve out 1-2 hours per week to food prep healthy meals at home.
  • Identify ways that you can swap one unhealthy habit for a better one, such as by going to bed one hour earlier rather than watching more TV.
  • Find and join a local gym or fitness studio and sign up for several months of classes ahead of time if possible.
  • Consider hiring a personal trainer if you know that a partner helps you stay accountable. Asking your partner/spouse for help to clear up your schedule, or joining a fitness/diet challenge with co-workers or friends is another way to gain support.
  • Buy a fitness tracker and aim to walk 8K to 12K steps per day.
  • Prioritize sleep, aiming for 7 to 9 hours every night.

Source: www.activefitblog.com


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What You Focus On Is What Becomes Powerful – Why Your Thoughts and Feelings Matter

What you focus on is what becomes becomes powerful. The message is real and comes fortified with some serious science. It’s called experience-dependent neuroplasticity. The research around it has caught fire and the findings are powerful. The implications for all of us are profound.

At the heart of the research is the finding that experience changes the brain. Just think about that for a minute: You have incredible capacity to change your brain through your experiences. Up until the last decade or so, it was thought that the brain stayed fairly much the same and wasn’t open to influence or change. We now know that just isn’t true.

Each of us has a brain that is designed to be malleable and plastic and open to our influence. It is constantly shaping itself to be the best one it can be for us. Our experiences are the fuel for this shaping and everything we see, feel, experience, sense and do is slowly but surely changing the architecture of our brains, sending gentle instruction on how they can build to best support us.

How does it work?

Between the walls of our skulls, billions of neurons (brain cells) work together to shape us into the humans we are. Different neurons are responsible for different parts of our experience, whether it’s eating, feeling, sleeping, sensing threat, firing up, falling in love, spelling, laughing, remembering, learning, nurturing – you get the idea. Being human is complicated and our brain drives all of it – it’s no wonder we are still discovering its secrets.

Every time you have an experience, the relevant neurons switch on and start firing. As this happens, neural connections get stronger and new synapses start growing.

Even as you read this, sparks are flying in your head. About 100 billion neurons are waiting and ready to act, but not all of them will be recruited. The ones that are will depend on the experience you’re having. The neurons that are connected to your immediate experience – what you are feeling, thinking, seeing, sensing, doing, experiencing – will fire and new connections will start to form within minutes. The more connected the neurons, the stronger that area of the brain, the more responsive and effective it will be.

The neurons that aren’t as needed will eventually wither away. This withering away is normal and healthy and is one way the brain grows into its most efficient self. You can’t grow the edges of your head so your brain occupies some precious real estate. The space is reserved for the neurons that you need the most – the ones that will best support you given the life you’re living.

Every time we have an experience, the corresponding neurons are activated. Every time they are activated, they are elevated a little in the order of importance. Repeating or prolonging an experience will keep the connections between neurons strong and ensure that they stay. This is why, for example, we can recite the alphabet without thinking. It’s not because we were born baby geniuses with a cute alphabet jingle imprinted into our brains. It’s because throughout our childhood, we sing the alphabet song and have it sung to us so many times, that the relevant neurons are repeatedly activated enough to eventually form rock solid connections.

Experience doesn’t just effect change by creating new connections and strengthening existing ones. It also seems to reach into our genes (the tiny atoms in the DNA inside the nuclei of neurons) and change the way they function. A regular practice of mindfulness, for example, will increase the activity of genes that have the capacity to soothe a stress reaction in the heat of a moment, ultimately making you more able to deal with stress.

Everything you experience will alter the physical structure of your brain in some way. The things you do, the people you spend time with, every feeling, thought, and automatic experience will influence the wiring of your brain to make you who you are and to influence who you can become.

Brains can change. Let me tell you a true story …

A bunch of neuroscientists wanted to explore how brains can change. To do this, they called on London cab drivers and some serious brain imaging.

In order to become a London taxi driver, would-be cabbies have to pass ‘The Knowledge’. This is a test of memory and is one of the most difficult tests in the world to pass. It involves memorising at least 320 basic routes, 25,000 streets within those routes and about 20,000 landmarks and places of interest. It usually takes about 4 years of committed study and at the end of it, those who have done the work end up with what amounts to a roadmap of London imprinted onto their brains.

A series of brain scans conducted on a group of drivers after their training revealed that their brains had actually changed to support their learning. Prior to the learning, the part of their brains responsible for spatial memory (the posterior hippocampus) was much the same as everyone else’s. Fast forward to the end of training, and it was found to be significantly larger. The longer a cabbie had been in the job, the bigger that part of their brain. Learning and repeated experience had changed the brain according to the job it was needed for.

stop complaining“The quality of your thoughts
creates the quality of your life.”

Why it’s SO important to be deliberate about who you’re with and what you do.

Experiences matter. They matter in the moment and in the way they can change the brain beyond the immediate moment.

Your brain will build and change whether you like it or not.  It’s so important to build it in the direction you want it to build it. Think of it as a mark on a page. At first, the mark might be so faint as to not even be noticeable, but keep going over the mark, even with the slightest of pressure, and that mark will get more defined and more permanent. Your attention and focus will always be somewhere – maybe many places – which means there are wirings and firings happening all the time, strengthening what’s there or creating something new.

If you aren’t deliberate and conscious in shaping your brain, other people and experiences will do this for you. Experiences, situations and people – positive or negative – will leave lasting traces on your brain by way of strengthened neural pathways.

By being purposeful about your experience, and the experiences you repeat or spend longer doing, you can have a direct influence over how your brain strengthens and grows and the pathways that are most likely to endure – but it does take a deliberate and conscious effort.

What you focus on will determine the parts of your brain that fire, wire and strengthen. Then, as those parts of the brain switch on and the neurons start firing, lasting connections will be made, strengthening memories and influencing what the brain will attend to in the future (positive or negative).

If you let your mind settle on self-criticism, self-loathing, pain, distress, stress, worry, fear, regret, guilt, these feelings and thoughts will shape your brain. You will be more vulnerable to worry, depression, anxiety, and be more likely to notice the negatives of a situation, frame things in a negative way, and be barrelled off track by what you could have or should have done.

On the other hand, if you focus on positive feelings and frame situations with a tilt towards the positive, eventually your brain will take on a shape that reflects this, hardwiring and strengthening connections around resilience, optimism, gratitude, positive emotion and self-esteem.

The power to change your brain. We all have it. Here’s how to use it.

We are wired to notice threat and bad feelings. This is  completely normal and healthy and it’s what has kept us alive for thousands of years. We humans are brilliant when it comes to noticing the bad, analysing it, and hanging on to it until we learn something from it. It’s called the negativity bias and it’s powerful.

The problem is that while it is our very human way to notice the bad, it is also human to let the good slide right of us. It’s not unusual that in a day of good conversation, fabulous people and enriching experiences, your mind will stick with the one argument, the one bad phone call or the one jerk that crossed your path. Imagine if it could be the other way around, with the good sticking and the bad sliding away into the ‘doesn’t matter’ zone. Because we humans are powerful creatures, we can go one better than imagining it – we can do it, but it takes a hard and deliberate push, which is okay – because we all have that in us.

First, we have to switch on to the good and be deliberate in noticing positive experiences. This might be more difficult than it sounds, particularly if you have a brain that, like many beautifully human brains, is well-trained in noticing the bad.

When you have the good in your radar, let your mind settle on it for long enough to start the neurons firing in your brain. Don’t just notice it, feel it. Hold on to it for at least 20 seconds. After this time, the experience will be hardwiring into your brain, firing neurons and strengthening the connections that will ultimately shape your experience.

This will start to grow these parts of your brain and shape a brain that is able to notice the good, respond to the bad and move forward, rather than stay stuck.

If the positive experience isn’t ready and waiting in front of you, do what you can to create it. It doesn’t have to be monumental. Try calling on a memory, listening to a song, making a phone call, organising a catch-up, playing or doing something that makes you feel nurtured. When you do, make the feeling stay. It might want to fade away, but don’t let it, not straight away.

Like any habit, noticing the good takes time to become automatic. Notice how quickly you notice the bad and let go of the good. Be deliberate in balancing things up and gradually, this in itself will also change your brain.

Does this mean negative feelings are a no-go?

Negative feelings are never a no-go. Being deliberate in focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that we have to pretend the negative doesn’t exist. Negative feelings are important too and deserve to be there. They guide us to withdraw when we need space to heal, they alert us to problem people or situations and they act as a warning sign. Negative feelings should be honoured as much as positive ones but they will come with a cost if they are allowed to take over.

The neurons that fire together, will wire and cause lasting changes in the brain. Staying in bad feelings beyond their usefulness is will do damage. It’s like going over and over the mark that serves no useful purpose but to keep a wound open. Every time you go over it, you’re making it a little heavier, a little stronger, a little harder for you to exist without its influence.

It’s always okay to feel the bad, to sit with it and to explore the wisdom that it contains. The wisdom will always be in there somewhere. Certainly an avoidance of negative emotions will have its own costs.

To stop the negative running away and doing damage, actively work towards balance wherever you can. Take some time to focus on your resilience, your courage, your strength, your inner wisdom. If you are feeling lonely, take time to draw on memories or people who love and appreciate you. Whether it’s a ‘hey there’ text, an invitation, a photo, a memory. If you are feeling drained, take time to draw on experiences that nourish you.

When the experiences happen, let the feelings stay for long enough to let them do their important work. Notice the bad, feel it, let it bring you new wisdom, but don’t keep watching it in the rear view mirror when there are other things around you that can start to move you forward.

And finally …

By directing your focus and staying with your experience, you can change your brain and shape it towards a more positive, compassionate, resilient, kinder, happier, more empowered and contented way of being. You can turn positive experiences into positive brain changes, which will in turn change your day to day experience.

What you focus on is powerful. The brain will build around what it rests upon. Whether we view the world through a lens that is sad or happy, optimistic or hopeless, whether we are open to love or quick to close it down is all directed by our brain. What you pay attention to will shape your brain, which in turn will shape your experiences, your relationships, your life.

by Karen Young

source: www.heysigmund.com


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Feeling Extra Stressed Over The Holidays This Year? Here’s How To Deal.

From the omicron variant to supply chain issues, the season doesn’t feel so merry and bright right now.

This year comes with its own particular set of holiday stressors.

The holidays can be a stressful time even under normal circumstances, but the 2021 season seems to be piling on the emotional strain.

Between global supply chain issues and concerns about the omicron coronavirus variant, it’s no wonder many of us are feeling a little extra anxious this year as we try to purchase gifts, plan gatherings and spread some holiday cheer. But that doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless.

We asked mental health experts to share their advice for coping with holiday-season stress this year.

Consider your priorities.

When you’re feeling stressed about gift shopping and supply chain delays, give yourself a moment to pause and take stock of your priorities around the holiday season. Is buying all the must-have gifts the most important thing to you? Chances are, the answer is no.

“At the end of the day, the holidays are about gratitude and love,” said Ibinye Osibodu-Onyali, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Zinnia Practice in Murrieta, California. “Whether or not you’re able to find all the gifts you want to get, focus on the love around you. Remind your loved ones about the bond that you share and begin to create memories that no supply chain trouble can take away from you.”

If you have children, remember that you set the tone for the holiday season and the lessons they receive about this time of year.

If you celebrate Christmas, “remind kids that Christmas is not just about gift-giving, but a special time to spend together as a family,” said Maryanna Klatt, a professor of clinical family and community medicine and director of integrative medicine at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

She suggested telling your children about your favorite part of the holiday season when you were growing up. Share special memories and teach them about your history.

“This is a great starting place for them to feel a connection with their extended family that may no longer be around,” Klatt said. “Another gift you can give your children this year ― a sense that they are part of something larger than themselves, a teaching moment for the truth about the interconnectedness of being human.”

Focus on what you can control.

Thinking about all the uncertainty regarding the future of the pandemic ― especially in light of the omicron variant ― might feel frightening and overwhelming. But ultimately, that bigger global health picture is not something within your control.

“My advice would be to focus on the here and now, meaning deal with the things that are affecting you directly and try not to focus on what ifs,” said Saniyyah Mayo, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.

If you’re concerned about your family’s health, ensure that you’re up to date on public health recommendations, like getting COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots and wearing masks in public spaces.

“Know what your comfort level is when celebrating this year. Opt for small get-togethers if you do not feel comfortable being in a crowd,” Osibodu-Onyali said. “This would be a great time to create boundaries that are comfortable for you.”

Similarly, global supply chain issues are not something you can control, but you do have the power to try to get your holiday shopping done earlier than usual. Get organized with your prep. Additionally, you might spend more time planning a special meal or decorating the tree to bring your holiday vision to life.

“Regarding what you can control, ask yourself, ‘What do I want to be sure happens this holiday season?’” Klatt said. “That way you can focus your attention on what is truly a priority for you and your family.”

christmas

Make this the year you start new holiday traditions with your family.

Start new traditions.

Rather than focusing on what might be different or more challenging this year, think of this holiday season as an opportunity to try something new.

“If gift-giving plans fall through, this is the perfect year to start a new Christmas tradition,” Klatt said.

She suggested bonding with your family by going caroling in the neighborhood or driving around to look at holiday lights.

“Get Christmas nighties for kids to wear on Christmas Eve,” Klatt said. “Involve kids in the kitchen by passing down a Christmas recipe. Or teach your kids how to ‘be Santa’ by bringing cookies that they baked with you to neighbors who may be homebound this holiday season. This way they can experience firsthand the joy of giving.”

Prioritize self-care.

While it’s wonderful to focus on others during the holiday season, don’t forget about your own well-being.

“Make self-care your priority,” Klatt said. “It helps to make a list of calming activities ahead of time that gives you the much-needed break you need among all the holiday chaos.”

She suggested putting some of those self-care activities in your calendar for the coming weeks, to increase the likelihood that you actually do them when you need them most.

Make backup plans.

Ultimately, you might not be able to give your loved ones their prized store-bought items of choice, so it’s worth thinking of some backup options.

“Try to find alternatives for the gifts that you are unable to find, or lean into sentimental gifts this year such as crafts that you make or spending quality time together,” Osibodu-Onyali advised. “What COVID has taught us all is that life is truly precious and we most definitely were not spending enough time together before the pandemic.”

If you’re a parent, talk to your children about the difficulties this year when it comes to their first-choice gifts (even if through the lens of Santa). Have a couple of alternate gifts ready and plan fun holiday activities to reduce the chances of disappointment.

And speaking of disappointment ― Klatt emphasized the importance, and the benefits, of modeling to your children how to deal with it.

“If they see you acknowledge the challenges presented by COVID and its collateral impact, and then, most importantly, they see you move beyond a disappointment to find joy in what can come to fruition this holiday season, this is a gift they will take with them throughout their lives,” she said. “The process of acknowledging the difficulty and yet not allowing it to squash happiness is a gift of a lifetime you can give your children during this 2021 holiday season.”

Caroline Bologna      12/08/2021

source: www.huffpost.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ bonus link ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How to Radiate Peace During the Holidays


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Whether people inform themselves or remain ignorant is due to three factors

People choose whether to seek or avoid information about their health, finances and personal traits based on how they think it will make them feel, how useful it is, and if it relates to things they think about often, finds a new study.

People choose whether to seek or avoid information about their health, finances and personal traits based on how they think it will make them feel, how useful it is, and if it relates to things they think about often, finds a new study by UCL researchers.

Most people fall into one of three ‘information-seeking types’: those that mostly consider the impact of information on their feelings when deciding whether to get informed, those that mostly consider how useful information will be for making decisions, and those that mostly seek information about issues they think about often, according to the findings published in Nature Communications.

Co-lead author Professor Tali Sharot (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) said: “Vast amounts of information are now available to individuals. This includes everything from information about your genetic make-up to information about social issues and the economy. We wanted to find out: how do people decide what they want to know? And why do some people actively seek out information, for example about COVID vaccines, financial inequality and climate change, and others don’t?

“The information people decide to expose themselves to has important consequences for their health, finance and relationships. By better understanding why people choose to get informed, we could develop ways to convince people to educate themselves.”

The researchers conducted five experiments with 543 research participants, to gauge what factors influence information-seeking.

In one of the experiments, participants were asked how much they would like to know about health information, such as whether they had an Alzheimer’s risk gene or a gene conferring a strong immune system. In another experiment, they were asked whether they wanted to see financial information, such as exchange rates or what income percentile they fall into, and in another one, whether they would have liked to learn how their family and friends rated them on traits such as intelligence and laziness.

Later, participants were asked how useful they thought the information would be, how they expected it would make them feel, and how often they thought about each subject matter in question.

Confirmation-Bias

The researchers found that people choose to seek information based on these three factors: expected utility, emotional impact, and whether it was relevant to things they thought of often. This three-factor model best explained decisions to seek or avoid information compared to a range of other alternative models tested.

Some participants repeated the experiments a couple of times, months apart. The researchers found that most people prioritise one of the three motives (feelings, usefulness, frequency of thought) over the others, and their specific tendency remained relatively stable across time and domains, suggesting that what drives each person to seek information is ‘trait-like’.

In two experiments, participants also filled out a questionnaire to gauge their general mental health. The researchers found that when people sought information about their own traits, participants who mostly wanted to know about traits they thought about often, reported better mental health.

Co-lead author, PhD student Christopher Kelly (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research) said: “By understanding people’s motivations to seek information, policy makers may be able to increase the likelihood that people will engage with and benefit from vital information. For example, if policy makers highlight the potential usefulness of their message and the positive feelings that it may elicit, they may improve the effectiveness of their message.

“The research can also help policy makers decide whether information, for instance on food labels, needs to be disclosed, by describing how to fully assess the impact of information on welfare. At the moment policy-makers overlook the impact of information on people’s emotions or ability to understand the world around them, and focus only on whether information can guide decisions.”

The study was funded by Wellcome.

December 3, 2021      University College London

Story Source:

Materials provided by University College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Christopher. A. Kelly, Tali Sharot. Individual differences in information-seeking. Nature Communications,
2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27046-5

source: www.sciencedaily.com


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Why you might be happier if you don’t buy anything in Cyber Week

I delight in finding the perfect gift for a loved one and experience joy in thoughtful personal purchases. But I bristle against spending for the sake of spending, especially for manufactured “holidays” like Black Friday.

Decisions about dollars are complicated. “The consumer dilemma is the idea that the planet clearly needs us to reduce our consumption, but our economy needs us to consume more and more every year,” said James MacKinnon, author of “The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves.”

The pandemic revealed how vulnerable our economic system is to any kind of disturbance in people’s appetite to shop, MacKinnon noted. “We have created a system that is dependent on us acting as consumers. It’s almost as though it limits our freedoms to choose how we want to live and determines what our social role will be.”

There may be financial circumstances that drive a person’s need to make purchases on big sale days, but if you experience the financial freedom that allows you to spend, you might even be happier if you don’t buy anything on Black Friday. Here are some realities to consider:

Acknowledge that biology is in play

If you are feeling bad about compulsive spending habits, you are not alone.

“One thing about Black Friday that makes it even more pernicious is that not only can shopping release dopamine in the brain’s reward pathways — hence becoming potentially addictive — it also manipulates the social herd source of dopamine,” shared Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author of “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.”

Lembke, who refers to smartphones as the modern-day hypodermic needle that delivers digital dopamine 24/7, noted that when people feel they belong to a tribe and share experiences and emotions with other people, dopamine is released.

“That feeling of oneness or immersion is a huge source of dopamine and also serotonin,” Lembke said. She noted that these primitive brain circuits can get in the way of the prefrontal cortex’s ability to make rational decisions, such as realizing you can’t afford to spend the money you are spending.

fomo

Skipping Black Friday shopping this year helps counteract overconsumption.

Shop with intention

If you are looking for a different tribe, an intention-based shopping herd exists.

I recently asked on Instagram Stories whether people were opting out of Black Friday shopping and if they were doing something else instead. Many people shared that they were choosing different ways to shop this holiday season.

Carolyn Kornwitz of Boston wrote that she is opting out of Black Friday and any sale shopping altogether. “I’m going to source the majority, if not all, gifts for the kids from my local Buy Nothing Facebook group, as well as secondhand stores.”

Others shared that they were focused on supporting local businesses, independent sellers on Etsy, or putting their maker skills to use. “My pandemic hobby is knitting so everyone is getting ornate hand-knit items!” wrote Anna Brakeman of Madison, Wisconsin.

MacKinnon agreed that all spending is not created equal. “There are definitely better and worse ways to consume. Support smaller scale businesses, particularly ones that don’t have shareholders to answer to … when you spend your money, spend it in your local community thoughtfully on products that will be meaningful to you or whoever you are giving to.”

Counteract overconsumption with people and experiences

Overconsumption can result from people trying to escape their circumstances, a tactic that is understandable but ultimately doesn’t work, Lembke noted. “A potential antidote is to do the opposite and deeply immerse ourselves in our lives.”

“If we really turn towards our lives everything becomes more interesting. When we reinvest in relationships and experiences, we create new energy and new meaning and it becomes transcendent,” Lembke said.

Indeed, many people shared that they were bypassing Black Friday shopping and opting for connection time in the form of hikes with family or friends, epic games of tag, pickleball, tennis, cycling, or relaxed time at home.

Others shared that they are getting into the holiday spirit through activities such as Christmas tree trimming and experiences like “The Nutcracker” at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. “My parents are in town for Thanksgiving this year. We bought tickets to a nature walk/light show at Crystal Bridges, which is an art museum near us,” shared Liz Fernandez of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Think back to lessons from last year

Evidence for non-consumerist holiday contentment may come from your own memories.

“Last year forced us to opt out of the traditional Thanksgiving thing and got us thinking this year about how we actually wanted to spend those four days off together,” wrote Kaci Lint of Mesa, Arizona. Given that she has five children, Lint noted that material items get overwhelming quickly. This Thanksgiving, her family is intentionally choosing experiences over things by traveling to camp out and watch the sunrise over the sand dunes in Utah.

MacKinnon is eager for people to shift back to the mindset that it’s enough to spend time together and concentrate on making that time a rich experience.

“Last Christmas everyone wished they could just be together; that would have been more than enough,” he said. In contrast, he noted that this season people feel like company alone is inadequate and they need to show up with armloads of gifts.

People are capable of change

One of the most dramatic and surprising observations amid the pandemic to MacKinnon was how quickly people found their way from a consumerism value system to a new value set centered on relationships, experiences and skill building.

“What we saw as people moved into quarantine and lockdown was that they turned towards other values really quickly. People reached out to old friends they had lost touch with. They were bird watching, mastering new skills, planting things. It took a matter of days for people to find their way to a new value set,” MacKinnon said.

That said, depending on the circumstances, behavioral change may take longer depending on the severity of their addiction, Lembke noted. “People need to abstain from a behavior long enough for homeostasis in the pleasure-pain system in the brain to be restored. Eventually, people will then be able to take pleasure in more modest rewards,” she said.

There is considerable work to be done to figure out the balance of consumerism as it relates to the planet and our economy, but one thing is clear: Our relationships, experiences and well-being are things worth investing in. And we don’t need to be held to a day on the calendar or a line around the block to do so.

Christine Koh is a former music and brain scientist turned author, podcaster, and creative director. You can find her work at christinekoh.com and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @drchristinekoh.

By Christine Koh, CNN       Fri November 26, 2021


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The Dietary Change Linked To Living 5 Years Longer

Higher levels of this type of fat in the blood can add five years to your lifespan.

A study has found that raising levels of omega−3 fatty acids in blood can lower the risk of premature death similar to quitting smoking, an equivalent to adding 4.7 years of life.

Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their beneficial health effect, thus the American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish such as trout, salmon, sardines, and anchovies twice weekly.

For the study, researchers used the omega-3 index test to measure EPA and DHA content in red blood cells (RBC), an excellent way to predict the risk of death from all causes.

They analysed data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort study, which has tracked Massachusetts residents in the United States over 11 years.

Dr Aleix Sala-Vila, the study’s co-author, said:

“Having higher levels of these acids in the blood, as a result of regularly including oily fish in the diet, increases life expectancy by almost five years.

Being a regular smoker takes 4.7 years off your life expectancy, the same as you gain if you have high levels of omega-3 acids in your blood.”

The study compared RBC fatty acids levels with standard risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in predicting premature death.

Some well known risk factors are age, total cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking.

The results show that four types of fatty acids, including omega-3 are better predictors of mortality risk.

trout_fish

Two of these predictors belong to saturated fatty acids which have often been associated with heart disease risk but in this study were linked to longer life.

A diet rich in omega−3 fatty acids improves the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content in erythrocytes (red blood cells) resulting in nearly 5 years of human life expansion.

Dr Sala-Vila said:

“This reaffirms what we have been seeing lately, not all saturated fatty acids are necessarily bad.”

The correct amount of dietary fatty acids may contribute considerably to individual health.

Dr Sala-Vila added:

 “What we have found is not insignificant.

It reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.”

About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.

The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (McBurney et al., 2021).

November 16, 2021