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Garlic: Proven Health Benefits

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has also been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion, rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

This article will look at the potential health benefits of garlic and cover any research that supports the claims.

In this article:

  1. Garlic for food and medicine – a brief history
  2. Garlic is used widely today for its therapeutic properties
  3. Health benefits of garlic – scientific studies


Fast facts on garlic

  • In many countries, garlic has been used medicinally for centuries.
  • Garlic may have a range of health benefits, both raw and cooked.
  • It may have significant antibiotic properties.

 

Garlic for food and medicine – a brief history

Garlic has been used all over the world for thousands of years. Records indicate that garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were built, about 5,000 years ago.

Richard S. Rivlin wrote in the Journal of Nutrition that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (circa. 460-370 BC), known today as “the father of Western medicine,” prescribed garlic for a wide range of conditions and illnesses. Hippocrates promoted the use of garlic for treating respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion, and fatigue.

The original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece were given garlic – possibly the earliest example of “performance enhancing” agents used in sports.

From Ancient Egypt, garlic spread to the advanced ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley (Pakistan and western India today). From there, it made its way to China.

According to experts at Kew Gardens, England’s royal botanical center of excellence, the people of ancient India valued the therapeutic properties of garlic and also thought it to be an aphrodisiac. The upper classes avoided garlic because they despised its strong odor, while monks, “…widows, adolescents, and those who had taken up a vow or were fasting, could not eat garlic because of its stimulant quality.”

Throughout history in the Middle East, East Asia, and Nepal, garlic has been used to treat bronchitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), TB (tuberculosis), liver disorders, dysentery, flatulence, colic, intestinal worms, rheumatism, diabetes, and fevers.

The French, Spanish, and Portuguese introduced garlic to the New World.

Garlic is used widely today for its therapeutic properties

Currently, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high cholesterol, heart attack, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.

Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.

It is important to add that only some of these uses are backed by research.

A study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology warned that short-term heating reduces the anti-inflammatory effects of fresh raw garlic extracts. This may be a problem for some people who do not like or cannot tolerate the taste and/or odor of fresh garlic.

Health benefits of garlic – scientific studies

Below are examples of some scientific studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the therapeutic benefits (or not) of garlic.

Lung cancer risk

People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week during the 7 year study period had a 44 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study conducted at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.

The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle, including questions on smoking and how often they ate garlic.

The study authors wrote: “Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer.”

Brain cancer

Organo-sulfur compounds found in garlic have been identified as effective in destroying the cells in glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumor.

Scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina reported in the journal Cancer that three pure organo-sulfur compounds from garlic – DAS, DADS, and DATS – “demonstrated efficacy in eradicating brain cancer cells, but DATS proved to be the most effective.”

Co-author, Ray Swapan, Ph.D., said “This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells. More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients.”

Hip osteoarthritis

Women whose diets were rich in allium vegetables had lower levels of osteoarthritis, a team at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia, both in England, reported in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. Examples of allium vegetables include garlic, leeks, shallots, onions, and rakkyo.

The study authors said their findings not only highlighted the possible impact of diet on osteoarthritis outcomes but also demonstrated the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for the condition.

The long-term study, involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins, found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, “particularly alliums such as garlic,” had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint.

Potentially a powerful antibiotic

Diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, was 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics in fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, according to a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.

Senior author, Dr. Xiaonan Lu, from Washington State University, said, “This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply.”

Heart protection

Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.

Hydrogen sulfide gas has been shown to protect the heart from damage.

However, it is a volatile compound and difficult to deliver as therapy.

Because of this, the scientists decided to focus on diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a safer way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart.

In experiments using laboratory mice, the team found that, after a heart attack, the mice that had received diallyl sulfide had 61 percent less heart damage in the area at risk, compared with the untreated mice.

In another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that garlic oil may help protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy.

Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death among diabetes patients. It is a chronic disease of the myocardium (heart muscle), which is abnormally thickened, enlarged, and/or stiffened.

The team fed diabetic laboratory rats either garlic oil or corn oil. Those fed garlic oil experienced significantly more changes associated with protection against heart damage, compared with the animals that were fed corn oil.

The study authors wrote, “In conclusion, garlic oil possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy.”

Human studies will need to be performed to confirm the results of this study.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure

Researchers at Ankara University investigated the effects of garlic extract supplementation on the blood lipid (fat) profile of patients with high blood cholesterol. Their study was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The study involved 23 volunteers, all with high cholesterol; 13 of them also had high blood pressure. They were divided into two groups:

  • The high-cholesterol normotensive group (normal blood pressure).
  • The high-cholesterol hypertensive group (high blood pressure).

They took garlic extract supplements for 4 months and were regularly checked for blood lipid parameters, as well as kidney and liver function.

At the end of the 4 months, the researchers concluded “…garlic extract supplementation improves blood lipid profile, strengthens blood antioxidant potential, and causes significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressures. It also leads to a decrease in the level of oxidation product (MDA) in the blood samples, which demonstrates reduced oxidation reactions in the body.”

In other words, the garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and also blood pressure in the patients with hypertension. The scientists added that theirs was a small study – more work needs to be carried out.

Prostate cancer

Doctors at the Department of Urology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, China, carried out a study evaluating the relationship between Allium vegetable consumption and prostate cancer risk.

They gathered and analyzed published studies up to May 2013 and reported their findings in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.

The study authors concluded, “Allium vegetables, especially garlic intake, are related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer.”

The team also commented that because there are not many relevant studies, further well-designed prospective studies should be carried out to confirm their findings.

Alcohol-induced liver injury

Alcohol-induced liver injury is caused by the long-term over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Scientists at the Institute of Toxicology, School of Public Health, Shandong University, China, wanted to determine whether diallyl disulfide (DADS), a garlic-derived organosulfur compound, might have protective effects against ethanol-induced oxidative stress.

Their study was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta.

The researchers concluded that DADS might help protect against ethanol-induced liver injury.

Preterm (premature) delivery

Microbial infections during pregnancy raise a woman’s risk of preterm delivery. Scientists at the Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, studied what impact foods might have on antimicrobial infections and preterm delivery risk.

The study and its findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Ronny Myhre and colleagues concentrated on the effects of Alliums and dried fruits, because a literature search had identified these two foods as showing the greatest promise for reducing preterm delivery risk.

The team investigated the intake of dried fruit and Alliums among 18,888 women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort, of whom 5 percent (950) underwent spontaneous PTD (preterm delivery).

The study authors concluded, “Intake of food with antimicrobial and prebiotic compounds may be of importance to reduce the risk of spontaneous PTD. In particular, garlic was associated with overall lower risk of spontaneous PTD.”

Garlic and the common cold

A team of researchers from St. Joseph Family Medicine Residency, Indiana, carried out a study titled “Treatment of the Common Cold in Children and Adults,” published in American Family Physician.

They reported that “Prophylactic use of garlic may decrease the frequency of colds in adults, but has no effect on duration of symptoms.” Prophylactic use means using it regularly to prevent disease.

Though there is some research to suggest that raw garlic has the most benefits, other studies have looked at overall allium intake, both raw and cooked, and have found benefits. Therefore, you can enjoy garlic in a variety of ways to reap its advantages.

 
Fri 18 August 2017    By Christian Nordqvist Reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD
 
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8 Sleep Mistakes You Can Fix Tonight

How to ditch bad habits and start prioritizing sleep today.

If you’d like to get more sleep or think there is room for improvement, try avoiding the habits you may have slipped into. 

You’ve done it every night of your life (more or less). Yet when it comes to hitting our pillow, practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect for all of us.

As many as 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have some type of sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to estimates from the Institutes of Medicine. More than a third of Americans reported regularly getting fewer than the seven-to-nine hours of sleep that is recommended per night for adults for good health, survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. And a 2014 survey from the National Sleep Foundation revealed that a whopping 45 percent of Americans said that poor sleep had affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days.

Numbers like those make sleep experts cringe.

“Sleep coordinates brain and physical function, including hormone regulation, mood, appetite, immune function and alertness, among other things,” Ana Krieger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, tells NBC News BETTER. “And optimizing our sleep can lead to an improvement in our overall health.”

“Sleep has been overlooked for many years, and we often find ourselves stealing time from sleep for work, leisure and travel,” Krieger adds.

If you’re not in the habit of prioritizing sleep (and taking steps to make sure your body is ready to get good sleep), it may feel a bit selfish, Krieger says. “But treating ourselves to a good night of sleep is a good way to start defeating this pattern.”

So what are we doing wrong? For starters, a lot of us may be guilty of these common sleep mistakes:

1. NOT TAKING ENOUGH TIME TO UNWIND

One of the most common mistakes people make about sleep is thinking there’s this switch that gets triggered as soon as you jump into bed that cues sleep, Krieger says. That is not how sleep works, she explains — “not even turning off your computer is that simple.”

Physiologically sleep is defined by the body’s key functions — brain wave activity, heart rate, breathing, body temperature and more — slowing down and decreasing. Those are complex processes that don’t happen instantaneously (or just because the episode you were watching on Netflix ended).

For some creating an environment that cues our body to sleep might mean reading, listening to calming music, taking a warm shower or practicing some gentle yoga stretches. Even if it’s just taking two minutes before you crawl into bed, take those two minutes to sit in the dark, do nothing, and quiet and calm your mind, Krieger suggests.

And an important part of creating that unwinding environment means NOT…

2. BRINGING ELECTRONICS TO BED

Cell phones bring the world to your fingertips wherever you go, which is great — except when you’re trying to signal to your body to shut down and power off. And the same goes for laptops, TVs, tablets and other electronics, Krieger says.

Studies show that the bright blue and white light waves radiating from these devices throw our body’s internal clock, our circadian rhythm, off kilter. Our brain likens this type of light to that from the sun, and signals to the body to stay awake by suppressing the body’s natural release of melatonin, a hormone the body produces that keep our body clock running on time.

Plus, all the information we’re absorbing, whether it’s from “just one more” episode of Law and Order, that irritating email from your coworker (you swear you’re not going to think about until you get to the office tomorrow), or your Facebook feed, stimulates the brain, Krieger says. “Now you’re engaged,” she says — which is opposite of what you want to do to create a sleep-friendly environment.

Bottom line: power down and keep it out of bed when it comes to electronics — at least 30 minutes before you turn in and ideally an hour.

3. MINDLESSLY CAFFEINATING THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Survey data suggests as many as 85 percent of Americans have at least one caffeinated beverage every day, with many of us consuming a lot more. And it’s that “lot more,” particularly of the late-afternoon variety, that can be really detrimental to our sleep, Krieger says.

Technically, caffeine is a drug. More specifically it’s a stimulant that temporarily makes us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. While it’s useful for many of us in the morning to help jumpstart the day, it can take up to six hours for the body to completely eliminate the caffeine in a cup of coffee. That means your 4 p.m. Red Bull break may be affecting your wakefulness well past dinnertime.

That said, everybody’s body is different to some extent, Krieger adds. Some people are affected by caffeine less than others. If you’re sleeping through the night (without other sleep aids) and feel well rested the following day, you shouldn’t necessarily worry about needing to change your habits, Krieger says.

While it’s useful for many of us in the morning to help jumpstart the day, it can take up to six hours for the body to completely eliminate the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

But if you are looking for ways to improve sleep, limit caffeine to the morning hours, Krieger says. (Recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are slightly more lax, recommending you should avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.)

4. IMBIBING IN ONE TOO MANY NIGHTCAPS BEFORE BED

Alcohol can make you drowsy and may send you to sleep quickly. It’s a sedative. The problem is that that’s an artificial way of falling asleep, and your brain goes straight to deep sleep and stays there, rather than cycling through the other stages of sleep (like REM sleep, the stage of sleep during when we dream), which all play their own role in rejuvenating our bodies and minds for the next day. Plus the effect wears off later in the night, so your body will spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep later in the night, during which you’re more likely to toss and turn and wake up (and dream).

Go ahead and enjoy that cocktail during happy hour rather than too close to bedtime and stick to one or two drinks to avoid it messing with your slumber, the National Sleep Foundation recommends.

5. SLEEPING TOO HOT

Part of the body’s process of falling asleep is decreasing its temperature. (Physiologically, that’s part of what happens during sleep!) So keeping your bedroom temperature cool just helps this happen faster, Krieger explains.

Ideally keep your thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation. If that feels chilly, cover with a light blanket (or keep one nearby) that you can shove aside as needed, Krieger adds.

6. THINKING YOU CAN MAKE UP SLEEP ON THE WEEKENDS

It’s kind of like skipping meals. If you skipped lunch for a week, most of us wouldn’t necessarily be able to eat five lunches on Saturday to make up those calories (at least not the nutritious quality calories our bodies need). Similarly, if you’re a poor sleeper during the week, you can’t make up those lost hours of shuteye on the weekends (or another day you’re able to sleep in), Krieger explains. “The body is very resilient. We make up just enough so that we feel better.”

That means you might feel better the day after you get a good night’s sleep, but you can’t store up sleep for the coming week. And over time, being chronically sleep deprived has been linked to increased risk of some pretty severe health problems, like weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and memory loss.

7. THINKING YOU NEED LESS SLEEP THAN YOU ACTUALLY DO

“I’ll just power through tomorrow…” Yeah right. In general we don’t have a good perception of how much sleep we need, Krieger says. Again, the body is resilient. It’s the same effect as when you go too long without eating and grab a snack or just ‘get through’ the next hour until you’re ready for a meal. “You’re body’s not going to shut down,” Krieger says. But you’re probably not feeling and/or functioning at your best.

In a similar way, your body isn’t performing at its best when you’re under-rested. And that’s even if you don’t realize it, Krieger says.

Individuals do vary in the amount of sleep they need per night, though clocking between seven and nine hours every 24 hours has been linked to the most health benefits, which is why those are the sleep recommendations for adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Want to know more specifically where you fall within that range? If you are well rested overall, you should be able to wake up consistently at the same time without an alarm clock, Krieger says.

8. WORRYING ABOUT SLEEP TOO MUCH

It may sound contradictory given all the well-touted sleep recommendations and guidelines that exist (not to mention the seven points above), but another important way to sleep better is just to not stress about it too much. “Sleep isn’t something you can tell your brain, ‘ok, now shut down and go to sleep,’” Krieger says. “It’s not a voluntary phenomenon.”

And the more you stress and worry about having just the right sleep routine or following the rules so exactly, the tougher it is for your body to relax, which is what initiates all the internal chemical processes in the brain and the rest of the body that initiate sleep.

The bottom line, Krieger says, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. If you’re sleeping well, no need to change your routine. If you’d like to get more sleep or think there is room for improvement, try avoiding any or some bad habits you may have slipped into. And remember, listen to you and what works for your body.

by Sarah DiGiulio /  Oct.16.2017 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • The phrase, “Happy wife, happy life,” is scientifically proven; husbands who have happy wives are more satisfied with their lives.

  • Applying vodka on your face cleanses the skin, tightens pores and can prevent acne breakouts.

 

  • You can have four to seven dreams in one night.

  • Boredom is the single largest contributor to the use of drugs and alcohol among teens.

 

~ Happy Friday!~


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9 Secrets Of The World’s Longest Living People

What is the secret to longevity, and why do some people attain it while others don’t? Is it sheer luck, or are there some key factors at play here? Are we all born with the same potential to live a long and healthy life or is that determined solely by genetics?

Interestingly, it seems as though people living in specific regions of the world tend to live longer than those living elsewhere. So, what is it about these specific regions that offer people a chance to live a full life? This was the question that National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner wanted to answer.

Through his research, Buettner identified five geographic locations where people have been observed to live the longest. He has identified these regions as “Blue Zones,” and found that even though these zones differ widely geographically, the diets and lifestyles of their residents share much in common.

You don’t have to live in one of these areas to ensure longevity, however, and if you are looking to live a long and healthy life then you may want to consider the following observations.
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What Are the Most Effective Ways to Achieve Longevity?

In Western society, the idea of growing older is not necessarily celebrated or anticipated. It is actually often feared, as we associate old age with chronic pain and disease. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and with some awareness and vision, we too can have a long and purposeful life despite our geographical location.

In the following video, Dan Buettner reveals what he has discovered are the secrets to longevity and the habits and traits shared by those who live the longest. Some of them might shock you, but as Buettner says, “If you ask the average American what the optimal formula for longevity is, they probably couldn’t tell you.” This is a pretty telling statement — many of us are simply unaware of the key lifestyle factors that contribute to health and vitality.

Here are the nine things we can take away from this presentation.

1. Slow Down and Deal With Stress

Common amongst those living in blue zones was effectively dealing with stress when it arises, and in many cases living lifestyles that do not cause a lot of excess stress in the first place. Taking time to slow things down and enjoy life was a common theme throughout Buettner’s studies.

2. Have a Purpose

Having a reason to get out of bed every day, especially for seniors, was essential. Simply put, finding something to do on a regular basis keeps us happy and helps us live longer.

3. Eat Less

Buettner observed the eating habits of various cultures in these regions, and all ate sparingly. The eating habits of the Okinawans specifically demonstrated an aversion to excess. They know that the feeling of fullness comes after the meal is completed so, rather than stuffing themselves until they feel full, they stop eating before they feel full, knowing the feeling will come after. They also eat off small plates and prepare small portions.

4. Eat a Variety of Foods and Lots of Plants 

Common among all Blue Zones was the amount and variety of plant-based foods that were being consumed. Having a diet consisting of predominantly plant-based foods proves to be a key factor in longevity regardless of your geographical location.

5. Be Social

In America, elderly people are often put into care homes and lead very lonely and isolated lives. Something all of the Blue Zones have in common is a strong sense of community that includes the older people. Instead of shunned and forgotten, older people are celebrated and included.

6. Have Faith

A large percentage of those living in Blue Zones had faith. They believed in a higher purpose for life, be it religious or spiritual.

7. Drink in Moderation or Not At All

It seems this one was a bit of a toss up. People either enjoyed a glass of wine or two daily or didn’t drink at all. In either case, Buettner did not see people drinking to excess.

8. Move Naturally

People who live in Blue Zones tend to move a lot throughout the day, but they aren’t making a point to do it — it just comes naturally. Their daily activities include gardening, walking, and spending time outdoors.

9. Put Loved Ones First

People in Blue Zones tend to stay close to their family members. Parents and grandparents play a big role in the lives of their children and they stay connected and close by, remaining an integral part of each other’s lives.

 

ALANNA KETLERMAY 18, 2017


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Fun Fact Friday

 

  • It’s ok and “I’m fine” are the two most common lies spoken in the world.

  • Marijuana was initially made illegal in 1937 by a man who testified the drug made white women want to be with black men.

 

  • Giving up alcohol for just one month can improve liver function, decrease blood pressure, and reduce the risk of liver disease and diabetes.

  • Research has shown that people are happiest at 7:26pm on Saturday evening.

 

~ Happy Friday!~


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10 Secrets to Living a Long, Healthy Life

Super agers are a group of older adults who have cognitive abilities on par with people decades younger than them. From what you should eat to how you should exercise and who you should spend your time with, these are things they’re doing on the regular.

Never smoke

Smoking will trim off up to a dozen years of your life, suggests 2013 research in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, if you never smoked, you’re twice as likely as a current smoker to see 80 candles decorate your birthday cake. What’s more, the habit is linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, says research. If you smoke, there’s no better time than now to quit.

Dine on fish and chicken

When Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, the director of the New England Centenarian Study and a professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston Medical Center works with patients, he tells them to go easy on the beef and pork. Not only is a high intake of red meat linked with cancer, but the saturated fat in the meat may also harm your brain, per 2012 research in the Annals of Neurology. It’s fine if you’d like to eat it on occasion, of course, but limit it to twice a week, he advises. The rest of the week, lean toward fish, poultry, and heaps of veggies.

Lift weights

Rather than focusing on burning calories with cardio equipment, build strength with weights. There are at least a dozen feel-good benefits that kick in when you pick up a dumbbell. But lifting also maintains muscle and bone mass to protect against frailty—and prevent falls—when you get older. It also keeps your mind limber. One randomized-controlled study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that when women having memory problems did twice-weekly weight training for six months, they improved measures of attention and memory compared to those who did balance exercises.

Pal around

It’s not enough to simply exercise, you have to stay active in general. And one of the ways you can get the most out of it is to pick those that you can do with others. Because taking an evening stroll with neighbors offers far more benefits than stretching your legs: “Socialization is cognitively stimulating,” says Dr. Perls. Chatting with friends, challenging each other, and offering support helps your brain lay down new neural networks that keeps your brain young.

Check your eating

It sounds so boring, right? But if you have a healthy weight, you’re already so far ahead. “Obesity is such a potent and important cause of numerous age-related diseases, like adult-onset diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke,” says Dr. Perls. What’s more, obesity has also been linked with dementias and Alzheimer’s disease, as having a greater fat mass is associated with higher blood levels of amyloid proteins, which are linked to cognitive decline.

Play a mind game

There’s a lesson in always learning something new: It doesn’t just keep life exciting, but it keeps you sharp as you age, studies suggest. Try one of these 14 brain challenges—because “use it or lose it” seems to apply to your brain as much as your muscles. A study in 2013 asked one group of older adults to quilt, another learned digital photography, and a third did both activities for 16 hours a week over three months. Those who took up the “cognitively demanding” task of learning digital photography sharpened their memory more so than those who honed their old quilting skills. What have you always wanted to do but thought you weren’t going to be good enough? That’s exactly what will keep your brain young for years to come.

Eat more berries

Berries are one of the cornerstones of the MIND diet, a hybrid between the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet that can keep your brain 7.5 years younger, shows research. Among all the other fruits, they’ve been singled out thanks to past research that showed intakes of blueberries and strawberries were associated with better brain health. The sweet little fruits are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidant plant compounds that preserves neuronal pathways involved in memory and cognition. Aim to eat at least two servings per week. And if you’re looking for new ways to eat berries, try them in a delicious fruit smoothie.

Ease stress

Stress is a given, but know you have a choice to change your circumstances and limit the bad vibes from festering. “Stress that continues for a long time, a condition known as chronic stress, is toxic to your brain – it literally eats away at critical brain regions,” writes neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, in the Guardian. (She’s one of the authors on a new study on super agers published in the Journal of Neuroscience.) Barrett suggests leaving negative things behind. It can be as little as changing jobs or taking relaxing vacations.

Tipple lightly

Do you need these 17 tips to help cut back on alcohol? Consider this: In a study on cognitively healthy 65-year-olds published in PLOS Medicine in 2017, those who reported light or moderate drinking scored higher on a test measuring cognitive functioning compared to teetotalers. The key is light. Another study showed that people who have 14 to 21 drinks per week experienced more shrinkage in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory. What’s more, their research didn’t show that light drinking was protective. Until the research is definitive, stick to the recommended one drink a day for women and two for men.

Keep perspective

It’s all about your attitude, right? It’s easy to brush off health issues as being all about your genes, and something that’s not under your control. But Dr. Perls says the decisions you make every day can have a huge impact on your lifespan. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is about 79 years old, but he says that can be much longer. “I think the vast majority of the reason someone lives to 90 is lifestyle behaviors. That’s a really optimistic view of aging, but it’s possible,” he says. Knowing that your daily choices matter—and can tack on almost a dozen good, sharp years on your life—can help you build on habits that will get you well into your golden years.

BY JESSICA MIGALA
source: www.rd.com


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Alcohol Responsible For More Hospital Admissions Than Heart Attacks Last Year: Report

Measurement could be ‘an important indicator for monitoring public health’

 

There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year
for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks,
the Canadian Institute for Health Information said.

There were more hospital admissions in Canada last year for alcohol-related conditions than for heart attacks.

Alcohol poisoning, alcohol withdrawal, liver disease, chronic alcohol abuse and other conditions that are “100 per cent caused by the harmful consumption of alcohol” accounted for about 77,000 admissions, according to a report released Thursday by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

That’s 212 each day, on average, not including those who were treated in emergency departments and released.

The 2015–2016 year was the first time CIHI has looked at this statistic, believing that its impact on the health system can provide insight generally into the harms caused by alcohol.

“Our expectation is that this will be an important indicator for monitoring public health,” said Geoff Hynes, manager of the Canadian Population Health Initiative for CIHI. “We can look at patterns, which could inform what governments and the health system can do to address these high numbers.”

alcohol hospitalizations
(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

In  the absence of any previous data to compare, CIHI related the figure to that of admissions for heart attacks in the same period, which was 75,000.

Leading cause of injury and death

Excessive drinking carries a number of known health risks, including illnesses such as pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease — not to mention the risk of death.

In 2015, there were 5,082 alcohol-attributable deaths in Canada, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation cited by CIHI.

In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada says alcohol is a leading cause of injury and death in Canada, including those resulting from impaired driving and from illnesses with known links to alcohol, like certain types of cancer.

Costs to the health care system, to society

Alcohol abuse doesn’t harm just the abuser; there are measurable societal costs, too.

For instance, in 2014–2015, the average cost for hospitalization that was entirely caused by alcohol was estimated at $8,100, compared to the average hospital stay for other causes at $5,800. That’s mostly because of longer stays (11 days on average compared to seven days, respectively).

Taking into account law enforcement, lost productivity as well as prevention and research initiatives, the estimated total cost of alcohol-related harm in Canada was more than $14 billion in 2002, the most recent year for which this data is available, CIHI said. About $3.3 billion of that was directly related to health care.

There are also broader social implications, the report said, such as unemployment, crime and the “substantial” impacts on people other than the drinker. These include injuries related to assault, workplace accidents, motor vehicle collisions, family disruption, violence and lost income.

The toll on families, coworkers and communities is impossible to tally because the relationships between consumption and harm are complex, Hynes said. These are influenced by things like individual, cultural and social factors, as well as how government regulates consumption and accessibility.

​Provincial, territorial variations

On average, there were more alcohol-related hospitalizations in the territories than in the provinces, and more in the west than in the east, with the exception of Nova Scotia. But regional variations can’t be easily explained.

Generally, where sales of alcohol are higher — measured in volume of litres per capita — there was also a higher prevalence of heavy drinking (five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women on one occasion at least once a month over a one-year period). And the rates of hospitalization typically followed: B.C., Alberta, Northwest Territories and Yukon had high rates of all three.

But in Quebec, where rates of sales and heavy drinking were both higher than the Canadian average, hospitalizations were low.

“So we know there is something else playing out,” Hynes said.

While no one factor accounts for the differences, CIHI pointed to significant variations in the “alcohol policy landscapes” across Canada.

For instance, B.C. had the highest rate of alcohol-related hospitalizations among the provinces. It also had a period of rapid growth in privatization of alcohol sales, which one study suggested was associated with an increase in alcohol-related deaths.

Pricing controls are another area that varies from region to region: some have minimum prices for items at retail, others have minimum prices set at bars and restaurants, and still others index the price of liquor to inflation or to alcohol content.

harm caused by alcohol
(Canadian Institute for Health Information)

“For us, those differences represent opportunities for potential improvement,” Hynes said. “Measuring this, and monitoring these rates can help us identify whether the policies and approaches are effective in reducing alcohol harm.”
And pricing, Hynes said, is “one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce alcohol harm, population-wide.”

Basically, making liquor more expensive should curb consumption, as it did with cigarettes. Reducing hours of availability and number of stores, the report said, is also associated with reducing consumption.

It will take “a strategy that brings together multiple effective policies,” Hynes said.

By Sherry Noik, CBC News         Jun 22, 2017 
source: www.cbc.ca