MIND diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53%

MIND diet study shows growing evidence that what you eat may affect your brain health
A new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago shows a diet plan they developed — appropriately called the MIND diet — may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent. Even those who didn’t stick to the diet perfectly but followed it “moderately well” reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s by about a third.

New findings add to a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests your overall dietary pattern matters more than single nutrients when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention.
Eating a combination of healthful foods that deliver a wide range of protective nutrients while, at the same time, minimizing your intake of foods that may harm brain cells is what counts. While nutritional epidemiologist Martha Clare Morris, PhD, the lead author of the MIND diet study acknowledges, that genetics and other factors like smoking, exercise and education also play a role, she says the MIND diet helped slow the rate of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s regardless of other risk factors.
MIND diet recommendations
The MIND diet breaks its recommendations down into 10 “brain healthy food groups” a person should eat and five “unhealthy food groups” to avoid.It combines many elements of two other popular nutrition plans which have been proven to benefit heart health: the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
MIND diet differs from Mediterranean and DASH & proved more effective at reducing Alzheimer’s risk.
The MIND diet also differs from those plans in a few significant ways and proved more effective than either of them at reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. The diet recommends frequent servings of green leafy vegetables. Kale, spinach, broccoli, collards and other greens are packed with vitamins A and C and other nutrients. At least two servings a week can help, and researchers found six or more servings a week provide the greatest brain benefits. The Mediterranean and DASH diets do not specifically recommend these types of vegetables, but the MIND diet study found that including greens in addition to other veggies made a difference in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. All three diets, when closely followed, offered significant protection against Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by 54 per cent, the MIND diet by 53 per cent and the DASH diet by 39 per cent. But only the MIND diet, however, was shown to guard against Alzheimer’s when not followed strictly. Participants who followed the plan moderately well were 35-per-cent less likely to develop the disease compared with those with the lowest adherence scores.

The MIND diet for Optimal brain health.
While we wait for other studies to confirm the protective link between the MIND diet and Alzheimer’s risk, Leslie Beck a registered dietician based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto says there’s no reason to delay adopting this brain-friendly eating pattern. Follow the food guide below to earn the highest MIND diet score.
Leafy green vegetables: At least 6 servings/week One serving: ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw (e.g., salad greens) Eating plenty of vegetables has been linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline in older adults, but leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, collards, rapini, broccoli, arugula, Romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce) seem to offer the greatest protection. Leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein, nutrients thought to help preserve brain functioning. (You’ll get more beta-carotene and lutein if you eat your greens cooked rather than raw.)
Other vegetables: At least 1 serving/day One serving: ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables In addition to salad greens and green leafy vegetables, include other green vegetables (e.g., asparagus, green beans, green peppers), orange (e.g., carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash), yellow (e.g., yellow peppers), red (e.g., red peppers, tomato, beets), purple (e.g. eggplant, purple cabbage) and white/tan (e.g., onions, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms) to consume a wide range of protective phytochemicals.
Berries: At least 2 servings/week One serving: ½ cup Berries are rich in polyphenols, phytochemicals that protect brain cells by fighting free-radical damage, reducing inflammation and removing toxic proteins that accumulate with age. Blueberries and strawberries appear to be most potent in terms of brain health.
Nuts: At least 5 servings/week One serving: 1 ounce, about ¼ cup Nuts (all types) help lower elevated blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol and guard against Type 2 diabetes, factors that contribute to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts are a good source of vitamin E; higher vitamin E levels are linked to less cognitive decline as we age. Walnuts may be the king of nuts when it comes to brain health. Research suggests eating more walnuts can help improve memory, concentration and the speed at which your brain processes information. Walnuts deliver polyphenols (like berries) and an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid.
Legumes: At least 4 servings/week One serving: ½ cup cooked Lentils and beans (e.g., kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas), packed with low glycemic carbohydrates, provide a steady stream of fuel (glucose) to the brain. Plus, adding beans to your diet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Whole grains: At least 3 servings/day One serving: 1 slice 100-per-cent whole-grain bread, ½ cup cooked brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, oatmeal, 1 cup 100-per-cent whole-grain, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal Foods that promote a healthy cardiovascular system, such as whole grains, are also good for your brain. That’s because your heart and blood vessels supply nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the brain. If your brain doesn’t get the blood flow it needs, it can impair your memory and thinking abilities.
Fish: At least 1 serving/week One serving: 3 ounces cooked Oily fish such as salmon, trout, sardines and herring are plentiful in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain function. A higher intake of DHA is thought to slow brain aging and improve memory and thinking skills. It may also help prevent the build-up of an Alzheimer’s-related protein called beta amyloid.
Poultry: At least 2 servings/week One serving: 3 ounces cooked As part of a healthy eating pattern, eating more poultry – and less red meat – is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Olive oil: Use as your primary cooking oil
Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fat, the type that helps reduce inflammation and prevents blood-vessel dysfunction. Extra-virgin olive oil also contains oleocanthal, a phytochemical that may boost production of two key enzymes believed to be critical in removing beta-amyloid from the brain.
Wine: One serving/day One serving: 5 ounces Studies suggest that one glass of wine per day helps preserve memory and reduces Alzheimer’s risk. Low levels of alcohol are thought to have anti-inflammatory effects in the brain. Too much alcohol, however, can damage the brain.
Limit ‘brain-unfriendly foods’ To get a top MIND diet score you must also limit butter/margarine to less than 1 tablespoon/day, fast or fried food less than once/week, red meat fewer than four times/week, cheese less than once/week and pastries and sweets less than five times/week.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

 

 

Why A Company Health and Wellness Plan is Good for Employees and Your Bottom Line

In today’s times, it’s astonishing to learn that a whopping 5 million Canadians do not have a family physician. It’s even more alarming when you learn that nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. (smoking, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and or diabetes)
More Alarming Statistics:

  • Only 16% have it treated and under control
  • An estimated 2.4 million Canadians have diabetes
  • Almost 40% of Canadian adults are classified as having high blood cholesterol levels
  • 19% of Canadians (4.6 million) age 20-79 are hypotensive
  • Another 20% (4.8 million) are pre-hypertensive

Will things get better?
With the population of baby boomers aging and people experiencing hard economic times, more workers are delaying retirement and working well into their 60s—this means that better benefits are required to retain talent. Meanwhile, governments are actively looking to pass on healthcare costs to private sectors. That means fewer services and higher employer costs. However, the bottom line is that over 70% of all healthcare costs in Canada are related to chronic diseases, many of which can be prevented or better managed through more appropriate lifestyle choices.
How health and wellness initiatives add value to companies
By implementing these types of programs, the benefits to companies are indisputable. The programs help contain cost since an aging population means higher employer spending; they help the company compete for talent, especially considering that 61% of 30-year-old Canadians believe their employer has an obligation to assist them in maintain a healthy lifestyle; and they help to target health spending by measuring its returns on investment.
Why should companies care?
Our research shows that companies are more interested in the benefits of creating a culture of corporate wellness rather than the hard dollar costs. The following benefits may not be as measurable as reducing drug and disability costs, but employers rate them higher than cost:

  • Issues around productivity
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Loyalty, employee engagement, recruitment
  • Corporate reputation
  • Attracting talent

Initiatives don’t have to be costly. It could be something as simple as bringing in Weight Watchers, creating a joint program with a local gym, or offering healthy options in the company cafeteria.

Disclaimer:
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

How to stay healthy and vital over 65

Research shows that people are living longer. Today a man who is currently 65 can expect to live another 17.4 years, a woman, 20.8 years*. Whether you are edging towards sixty-five or beyond or have parents that are aging, modifying risks will increase your chances of staying healthy and vital as you age. We know that physiological changes occur as we age, but there are areas of health that can be modified and will improve your health and reduce your risks for physical and mental disabilities.
There are both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors that affect healthy aging. The non-modifiable risks includes aging, gender and genetics. The major modifiable risks that we can change include an unhealthy diet, inactivity and tobacco.
The most recent research on diet, points to an increase in diagnosed diabetes to almost 2. 4 million Canadians by 2016. While almost 40% of Canadian adults are classified as having high blood cholesterol levels. You can help reduce your risk by eating a balanced diet that reduces total fat intake, controls weight, with limits to alcohol and caffeine. Studies show that there is no best diet among the most popular high profile diets, but that the best diet is the one you adhere to.   I would suggest using the Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating as your roadmap.
Obviously much has been said about tobacco and its proven links to cancer. Quitting smoking is non-negotiable. It will make a big difference in your long term health and ability to engage in an active lifestyle.
Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Being active most days and exercising with purpose is essential. This means, focusing on exercise as an activity itself, walking to do an errand is always good, but exercising with the single purpose of Increasing aerobic capacity is more effective.   Exercise can be categorized as Light activity – 1 hour a day, moderate activity – 30-60 min a day, and vigorous activity – 20-30 min a day
You may wish to mix and match your activities, varying your level depending on your time, your energy and your circumstances.
As always consult a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program. Exercise is an important ingredient to staying active and healthy. Exercise is also the single most important activity people can do to reduce the risk of age-related brain decline.
Here are a few other suggestions.   Check your vaccination records to ensure they are up to date for vaccinations such as tetanus.   Get a flu shot every year, and over sixty-five, a pneumococcal vaccination. Anyone over fifty? Consider getting the shingles vaccine as shingles, the disease increases with age.
And finally, you need to stay socially connected to remain vibrant, healthy and active. So whether you are working or retired, enjoy your interactions, your commitments, your interests and stay connected, learning new things on a daily basis!!

* Statistics Canada 2005

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Osteoarthritis: A rising epidemic as baby boomers age. Signs, Symptoms and Solutions.

Arthritis consists of more than 100 different conditions, which range from relatively mild forms of tendinitis and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The common denominator for all these conditions is joint and musculoskeletal pain, often as a result of an inflammation of the joint lining.
Establishing an early diagnosis is critical to the outcome of the disease, since it only gets progressively worse and therapies work best when started as early as possible.
Consider this:
• Over four million Canadian adults have arthritis and the numbers continue to grow.
• By 2036 it’s estimated that almost one in five Canadian adults will have arthritis, an irreversible degeneration of the bone.
• Two out of three Canadians affected by arthritis are women
WHAT CAUSES OSTEOARTHRITIS?
Osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage, that tough elastic material that covers and protects the ends of bones that acts as a cushion-like shock absorber, starts to break down and wear away. Joints become bigger as the body tries to heal itself, and bones start to rub together, leading to pain, stiffness and swelling. And as we get older, our risk of developing osteoarthritis increases. Other risk factors include obesity, a previous joint injury and a genetic predisposition that researches believe may have something to do with the shape of your bones and the way they fit together.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Understanding the signs and symptoms as well as treatment options can help to slow the progression of the disease which is an important step in living with Osteoarthritis:
Common signs and symptoms
• PAIN
• STIFFNESS
• JOINT DEFORMITY
• JOINT INSTABILITY
• LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION
TREATMENTS
Treatments are divided into non-medical therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, bracing and splinting, education, weight loss and exercise. All of which can lead to improving function and biomechanics. Dietary supplements including chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine can be taken up to three times daily in doses of 400 mg and 500 mg respectively. While the medical evidence for these products is inconclusive, most rheumatologists do not feel they do harm and may, indeed, be helpful.
Depending on the severity, medical treatments may involve the use of acetaminophen anti-inflammatories (NAISD’s), topical non-steroidal naproxen, opioid analgesics such as codeine or morphine under careful doctor supervision. Joint injections with corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid for knee osteoarthritis can also be used. The most invasive option is joint replacement involves surgery.
Whatever your condition and treatment goals, it is important to heed the signs and symptoms and take action as soon as possible because osteoarthritis while not curable, is manageable, with the goal of keeping you active, engaged in activity, and pain free.

DISCLAIMER
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content. However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider. As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Brain Drain and Menopause: Reality or Myth ?

Is there such a thing as Brain Drain and Menopause?
Research shows that the female sex hormone, estrogen, plays a key role in brain function. Estrogen declines during menopause, but that doesn’t mean your brain function will decline along with it. Although estrogen produced by our bodies helps the brain function, there’s no clear clinical evidence to support the notion that the brains of women after menopause don’t work as well as they did in the past.  What we are learning is the difference between changes with menopause and normal age-related changes in function.
Often, postmenopausal women do have memory slips or difficulty concentrating. However, research suggests a variety of potential underlying causes. These include disturbed sleep, extra stress, or depression. If you’re awakened by night sweats several times during the night, that’s often enough to interfere with your ability to concentrate or remember details for the next days’ meeting.

Should hot flashes be the reason for your insomnia and the fuzzy thinking and memory glitches that follow a sleepless night, try reducing their hold on you with some lifestyle changes. Exercising daily is linked to a lower incidence of hot flashes. And some products designed to lower your temperature, such as the menopod, may be helpful. And if you’re a smoker, this may be the motivation you need to finally quit: Women who smoke have more intense and more frequent hot flashes than nonsmoking women.
If you think you might be depressed, which can cause difficulty concentrating, make an appointment with your doctor. Menopausal hormone fluctuations can be linked to depression in some women. Feeling occasional sadness isn’t the same as being depressed.
If your stress level is noticeably high, you may be able to control and reframe your intensity by practicing some form of relaxation. One of the simplest ways to combat stress is deep breathing. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, or gentle stretching are also good ways to reduce stress. If stress, memory slips, or other menopausal symptoms continue to bother you, consult your doctor. The key is to take action that will let you feel more in control.
Now what was I saying?

Chilling hot flashes? You might want to check out the Menopod. (www.menopod.com)- It contains a cooling technology inside the device. There are no fans or moving parts. When you turn the power on, it instantly drops to a cool temperature) so that you can discreetly place it on the back of your neck to stop the hot flash.

 Disclaimer
The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

CAFFEINE-THE UPS AND DOWNS. HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?

Millions of us rely on coffee to wake us up, keep us going and improve concentration and focus. But how much is too much and what is the difference between caffeine and coffee. Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in more than 60 plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts and as we know used to flavour soft drink colas. It is also found in cacao pods used to make chocolate products. Man-made caffeine is sometimes added to foods, drinks and medicines. So caffeine is not just found in coffee.
Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults.
That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee. For children, 100 milligrams a day is the most a child should be allowed, although I would not recommend that children drink coffee.
Caffeine and Medications
Heavy caffeine use among adults can cause unpleasant side effects and may not be a good choice for people who are highly sensitive to its effects or take certain medications.
For instance, caffeine is used in painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen and for simple headaches. It’s also used in drugs such as 222’s because caffeine helps absorb the codeine – so certain medications include caffeine.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than are others. If you’re susceptible to the effects of caffeine, just small amounts — even one cup of coffee or tea — may prompt unwanted effects, such as restlessness and sleep problems. Here are some of the side effects.
How you react to caffeine may be determined in part by how much caffeine you’re used to drinking. People who don’t regularly drink caffeine tend to be more sensitive to its negative effects. Other factors may include body mass, age, medication use and health conditions such as anxiety disorders. Research also suggests that men may be more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than are women.

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Insomnia

So I would say yes to a cup or two but no to a pot!

 

DISCLAIMER
T
he material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of the content.  However, it is strongly recommended that the treatment/management of any medical conditions mentioned here, should not be used by an individual/visitor of this blog, on their own, without consulting competent persons such as your doctor, or health care provider.   As always we encourage your comments on this blog or any others and hope you will join discussions.

Menopause: Hot tips and a new technology can help keep hot flashes at bay

Any menopausal woman will tell you that hot flashes seem to come out of nowhere, usually when they are least expected, accompanied by an embarrassing outbreak of  ‘the sweats’ which can leave you drenched in sweat, flushed, and feeling uncomfortable.Hot flashes develop when your brain reacts to changing hormone levels in your body, which happens during menopause. The change in hormone levels causes your temperature regulation mechanism to be slightly impaired. Body temperature rises too easily. Your body then wants to disperse blood flow to cool you down and sends blood to the surface, to your neck, chest and face, causing you to sweat.
While you can’t stop the changes going on in your life, there are a few things you can do to help weather those hot flashes and keep them in check. Let’s look at lifestyle options for treatment of hot flashes.
The most common one is dressing in layers. Dressing in layers, with a tank top with and a shirt on top of the tank allows you to open the shirt or take it off when you start getting hot. There are also many new fabrics that will wick away the perspiration from your skin to help you cool down faster. Check travel stores and outdoors stores for products that can take the heat.
Turn your thermostat down, open the windows or use an air conditioner to help maintain a lower body temperature, especially at night.
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated.   Drinking lots of water helps keep your body’s cooling system from over heating. If you do have a hot flash, drink cool water right away to replace what you’ve lost.   Stay away from hot foods and spicy foods.

The Menopod
One of the most interesting ways of cooling quickly I’ve come across recently is a new technology called a Menopod. It’s a simple electronic cooling device that looks similar to a computer mouse. With one press of the power button, the device drops to 5 degrees Celsius or 41 Degrees Fahrenheit and provides instant relief for hot flashes. It can be used discretely anywhere and anytime.
The Menopod, contains a cooling technology inside the device. There are no fans or moving parts. When you turn the power on, it instantly drops to a cool temperature) so that you can discreetly place it on the back of your neck to stop the hot flash.
By applying the Menopod to the base of your neck, you are telling your brain you are not hot and the flash decreases or goes away. This is a Canadian invention which was recently introduced at the International Menopause Society World Congress, and doctors loved it. It’s worth checking out.

In an upcoming blog, I will discuss other prescription options for those women that are having ongoing symptoms, not responding to lifestyle options.