Optimal Aging Means Good Brain Health, Especially for Women

Optimal Aging Means Good Brain Health, Especially For Women

Women’s Brain Health Initiative

WBHI Logo

Women’s Brain Health & Why Grey Matter Now Matters

Women suffer from depression, stroke and dementia twice as much as men and an astounding 70% of new Alzheimer’s patients will be women. Yet research still focuses on men. We want to correct this research bias.

Women’s Brain Health Initiative creates education programs and funds research to combat
brain-aging diseases that affect women.

Thanks in large part to the work of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI), science is now paying a lot of attention to women’s brain health. WBHI is a partner of the
Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration and Aging, which is an umbrella group that oversees all the brain research that is happening in Canada. Because of its significant funding clout, WBHI has been able to ensure that every participant group—in all brain research undertaken in Canada—includes enough women to matter. What do I mean by “enough women to matter”? I mean that there have to be enough women in each study to be statistically significant, so the research conclusions of the study apply to women, not just to men.

WBHI has been able to make sex & gender part of core research in Canada

And it is not that women are a priority only in the research today that is being done today. Governments come and go, and researchers’ interests shift, and those changes can also alter research priorities. But WBHI has been able to make sex and gender—and therefore women—part of the core value of all the brain research that is going on. And core values are impervious to the fickle winds of change. We may not know today why more women than men suffer from Alzheimer’s, but because of the inclusion of women as a core value in research we will know at some point in the future.

In fact, there is a lot of research going on now to discover ways to identify cognitive decline earlier in women. This includes research on issues around Alzheimer’s disease, which is now being recognized as “a woman’s disease” because so many more women than men suffer from it, as mentioned above. Drug development is another important area of research because the drugs we currently have for treating brain problems may not work as effectively in women as they do in men.

Lifestyle Choices Can Affect Brain Health

The current research also includes a focus on lifestyles choices. We know some of the things that can contribute to cognitive difficulties in old age, and many of them are things we can control. For instance, we know we can alter smoking, diet, exercise, stress, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels—all of which can have a big impact on cognitive health, or to put it another way, on cognitive decline. As with any research, there is always the possibility of unexpected results. For instance, one study showed that the most important decade of life to impact brain health through exercise is your 20s. That’s right, exercise in your 20s makes the biggest difference to your brain 50 years later! So, realistically, you are never too young to start thinking about your brain and how to keep it healthy.

WBHI Celebrates 5 years 

I have been fortunate to be a member on the board of the directors of the Women’s Brain Health Initiative founded by Lynn Posluns five years ago.  The  www.wbhi.org website has the most comprehensive information on women and brain health including research, events and healthy aging tips plus ways to get involved.  I urge you to take a few moments and visit their site.

On May 10, WBHI will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary and honouring the individuals, including myself as a Catalyst who have been involved in helping make Women’s Brains Matter.  6pm-9 pm at the Gardiner Museum. Tickets for $60 can be purchased on the WBHI site under events. 

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.

Boning Up on Bone Health for Healthy Aging

Why Bone Health is Important for Healthy Aging

What do we need to ensure we all age well and do so in a healthy vibrant way?
How can we be the architects of our future, not the victims. Aging and wellness are popular topics in magazine and talk shows, but we need to be clear about what is evidence based as opposed to trendy, what has true merit, rather than anecdotal stories.

The number one event that is common to both men and women over the age of 50 is the risk and the likelihood of fracture. Slipping and falling is very, very common, but not everyone fractures. Some people will bounce and NOT break. What is the secret? How can we have strong robust bones?

Essential Vitamins

Well, bone health starts for us all when we are young. We need calcium and Vitamin D. No, I don’t work for the Milk Marketing Board of Canada, but in truth, they ae quite right. Calcium is essential and is absorbed by the body from milk, cheese and yogurt, much more efficiently than from tablets. For people over the age of 50, Osteoporosis Canada, out guideline body says we need 1200 mg per day. That is 3-4 servings of dairy. Yes, we can get some calcium from broccoli and from almonds and salmon, etc., but dairy products pack the biggest punch. Vitamin D is from the sun. See any of that lately? Even in the summer, when we do see sun, the sunblock we use to prevent skin cancer, blocks out the vitamin D absorption, so we need 1000-2000iu (international units) as adults over 50.

Our children should be having milk and calcium containing products and vitamin D. And you know our grandmothers and great-grandmothers fed us cod liver oil! They were right.

What does this mean. Our bones will be stronger and more able to stand the expected slow loss of bone with age.

What Bone Density Tests Tell You

By age 65 everyone, men and women need a bone density test. This tells us how much bone we have, the quantity of bone. It does not tell us, the quality of that bone. Bone quality is not as easily measured but we do know any fracture past age 40 should be evaluated to determine if it was a fragility fracture or a traumatic fracture. If you are hit by a truck, any fracture is traumatic. If you step of the curb, a fall from your standing height or 1-3 steps higher, that is generally a fragility fracture. And a fragility fracture is a predictor of weak bones, risk of hip fractures. A fracture is the event that warns us that our bone quality is not ideal.

Evaluate Your Risk

It is reasonable to evaluate your risk, whether you have fractured since age 40, whether your parent had a hip fracture, what drugs you may be on that can have an effect on bone, what underlying diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis that may impact bone health. By focusing on bone health, you may be doing great, or you may need some intervention, but the goal remains the same for you and your doctor:  maintain your activity, independence and ability to age in a healthy way for years to come.

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.

Get Cooking to Manage Your Weight

If you are like many busy modern women, you probably have the local pizza place on your speed dial. But delivery pizza—or even frozen pizza—is high in fat and sodium and often lacks fibre. You can make a healthier, portion-controlled version quickly and easily. I call it the Pita Pizza. Use a 6-inch whole-grain pita as your crust, add a low-sodium pizza sauce, lightly sprinkle on some low-fat mozzarella, and top it with your favourite veggies. Pop it in the oven or toaster until the cheese melts, and you’re done—in way less time than it takes for a delivery! And you can save even more time by buying pre-cut, washed veggies. You can control the portion by eating only one, and you can control the fat by limiting the amount of cheese and using more veggies.

This is just one example of how you can make healthier versions of your favourite take-out or restaurant choices at home. If you are looking for resources on healthy meal planning, you might consider cookbooks by Lucy Waverman, Bonnie Stern, and Rose Reisman.

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.

 

Alcohol Consumption-How much is OK?

How Much Alcohol Consumption is OK?

The reality for alcohol consumption and women is significant. Any more than 7-9 drinks per week for women can lead to breast cancer. I am not an abolitionist.  I do advocate drinking moderately. There is some evidence that moderate drinkers and those who drink just a little have a somewhat lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those that do not drink at all or who drink excessively.  And some of the newer data is looking at whether any amount is a risk.

Here is my take on the current guidelines.

So, what exactly is moderate drinking?

The Heart and Stroke Foundation defines moderate drinking for women as two drinks a day most days to a weekly maximum of ten; for men, its three drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 15.I have to smile when some of my patients try to demonstrate that they drink only moderately by saying they and their husband split a bottle of wine at dinner every evening. I smile only because few people really understand the word ‘moderate’ as it applies to alcohol.Half a bottle of wine is not quite within the bounds of ‘moderate.’ It’s actually two and a half glasses of wine, not two glasses!

The extra half glass of wine can add up.  In fact, it might be wise to limit your consumption of alcohol to considerably below the weekly maximum of 10 drinks.

As I said, I am not an abolitionist, but I will ask you to be careful with your alcohol consumption. Review what you are actually doing when you drink, tally how much you drink in a week—including the weekend bar-b-que and girls’ night out-and please make sure that your glass is not keg-sized. A serving of wine, for example is considered to be 4 ounces, not 6 or 9!

I know for me, I would rather have one or two servings when out for dinner, and that’s OK, as I generally am out for dinner once or twice a week, not nightly. So as we approach the holidays and parties, plan ahead, consider having a spritzer with only 2 ounces of wine, or having most nights with none, so you can have 2drinks at that party and enjoy.

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.

Mumps are making a comeback in Canada

shutterstock_337150673Check your vaccinations!
A rise in cases of Mumps in Canada has public health officials asking young adults to check if they need a vaccination booster. The standard vaccination is two doses starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Teens and adults also should also be up to date on their MMR vaccination. *(measles, mumps & rubella)

Mumps is a viral infection that is contagious and spread through saliva and respiratory droplets, causing swelling of the salivary glands. **   Prior to having a vaccination against mumps available in the mid-sixties in Canada, mumps among school-age children was common in fact a rite of passage.   In early 1970’s the vaccine was combined to offer protection against measles, mumps. and rubella. (MMR).

But providing a second round of the vaccine wasn’t practiced until the 1990’s, which has led to a small gap in immunity for those born between 1970 and 1994.

The gap in immunity for those that have not had a second dose is one of the reasons, health officials believe there is a rise in the infection.  The other is because of growing numbers of individuals who have never been vaccinated for mumps and are infectious while coming into contact where are a lot of people sharing food and drinks. It takes between two to five days before the infection begins to show swelling and other symptoms. Once mumps has been diagnosed, the usual procedure is to keep the individual in isolation until the infection subsides.

The symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and inflammation and tenderness of one or both salivary glands

Mumps is serious and can have long term affects such as deafness, or sterility in males.

So, it is extremely important that you check your vaccination records with your family physician to ensure they are up to date.

______________

Mumps are making a comeback in Canada.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.

 

Sources:  * Center for Disease Control  ** Wikipedia -Mumps

New Guidelines for Zika Virus & Travel

Zika Florida inforgraphic 1200x628Canada’s Public Health Agency issued a travel health notice recommending that pregnant women avoid traveling to countries or areas where the mosquito-borne Zika virus has been found which includes popular destinations for Canadians, including Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.

http://https://www.facebook.com/CTVNewsChannel/videos/1325413534186641/

My New Year’s Resolution– Is NO New Year’s Resolutions!

ChrisKornackiI will be honest; my issue is not wanting to exercise or take the time to work out. I have a very busy schedule and find it hard to fit in.   Although I know and talk about the importance of exercise and healthy aging, internally I find it hard to schedule.  I tell myself that’s because of work. However, enough is enough. I need to make this a priority.

So before the holidays,  I decided to make a commitment, set a reasonable goal and act on it.  For me, creating the challenge and then living up to it is always satisfying and I feel energized by the effort. This led to rearranging my work schedule, book with a trainer and just do it!  No more excuses.So my journey has begun.  I am meeting weekly with Chris, a young, bright,

So my journey has begun.  I am meeting weekly with Chris (pictured above), a young, bright, well-educated trainer in charge of TOTUM, the fitness facility in the Medisys location where I work on Thursdays.  I, therefore, changed from business attire to workout clothes and walked into a beautiful new facility for my assessment. Intimidating? YES. Important? YES. Part of my routine, well, I am trying to keep that focus and have booked a month of appointments, even pre-paying for them so I am less likely to cancel.

How am I doing? So far, less intimidated and starting to feel more positive. Not yet stronger or healthier, but it is early. I will let you know how it goes.

So, whether your goal is healthy eating, exercise or getting more sleep, don’t make a New Year’s resolution. Instead, dig deep within yourself for the answers and take responsibility. Be honest with yourself and you may just find the best resolution of all.

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.

Pneumonia deaths are increasing. Protect yourself and your family.

shutterstock_561346174.jpg1500 adults die from pneumonia in Canada every year. We are in the midst of a rough flu season similar to 2014-2015, where many outbreaks occurred and are likely to continue throughout the winter.   So I would like to remind you of the importance of immunization and flu shots and adult pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and needlessly affects millions of people worldwide each year that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. Common signs of pneumonia can include a cough, fever, and trouble breathing.

We are in the midst of a rough flu season and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a flu shot.  I also want to talk about immunization and pneumonia.  In Canada, only 16.7% adults with chronic medical conditions are immunized against Streptococcus pneumonia. That’s right –only a small percentage of Canadians are immunized. As a result, there is a dramatic increase in the number of people who get the disease and about 1500 Canadian adults die from it every year.

Who Is At Risk for Pneumonia?

People who are more likely to become ill with pneumonia:

  • Adults 65 years or older
  • Children younger than 5 years old
  • Those  who have underlying medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease)
  • People who smoke cigarettes
  • People with immune suppression diseases, such as HIV, leukemia, and other cancers

However, Pneumonia can often be prevented and can usually be treated. Many of these deaths——could be prevented with vaccines and appropriate treatment (like antibiotics and antivirals).

Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease or lower your risk while reducing the risk of the general population coming down with pneumonia.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Older Adults
There are two different types of pneumococcal vaccines for adults and guidelines are NOT the same in the US and Canada.

  • US Guidelines: One dose of PCV13 is recommended for all adults 65 years of age or older who have not previously received the vaccine. A dose of PPSV23 should be given at a later date (anytime after 8 weeks from the initial vaccine)
  • Canadian Guidelines: Currently differ for those of us that are 65 and healthy, or those with significant underlying disease. Healthy 65 year old adults are advised to simply take PPSV23. Those with higher risk would follow the guidelines of both vaccines
  • Recently the Canadian government included vaccinations for individuals that required medical attention for asthma in the past 12 months.

Pneumococcal Recommendations for Children

  • Children with asthma younger than 18 years should receive both vaccines

What you can do

  • Encourage friends and loved ones with certain health conditions, like diabetes and asthma, to get vaccinated.
  • Make sure children get vaccinated
  • Practice good hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use alcohol based hand sanitizers
  • Don’t some
  • Keep your immune system strong-get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and health a healthy diet

 

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.

 

Exercises that Help To Maintain or Build Strong Bones

shutterstock_451265800Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  It is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis because the names are similar. Osteoporosis is a bone disorder, with a loss of the normal strength and quality of the bone, as well as a decrease in bone mass. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue, often described as wear and tear of a previously normal, smooth joint.  *

Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone.  The bones become weak and brittle making them more fragile and at risk of a fracture. (broken bones) Even a minor fall can have a significant impact –leading to a broken hip, spine, wrist or shoulder (the most common areas at risk)

Exercise is part of a healthy bone strategy

Weight bearing

We all know and understand how important exercise is for heart health. But it can’t be emphasized enough how important regular weight-bearing exercise is for bone health, too.  Weight bearing exercise is when you use your body weight in activities such as walking, running and weight lifting. The result is that weight bearing exercises help to develop more bone mass.   Brisk walking, dancing, tennis, and yoga have all been shown to help your bones become denser.  It will also improve your balance and strength, which could help to prevent falls.   But what about biking?   It’s good for your heart and lungs but is not considered weight-bearing, when you are seated.

Look at it this way.

It is recommended that you walk between three to five miles a week to help build or maintain healthy bones.  If we assume it takes between fifteen or twenty minutes to walk a mile, then spending between seventy-five to one hundred minutes a week (out of ten thousand and eighty minutes in a week) is minuscule compared to the enormous benefits you will reap.

Resistance Training

Resistance means you’re working against the weight of another object. Resistance exercise includes free weights or weight machines, water exercises that make your muscles work harder and resistance tubes— incorporated into your regular exercise regime two to three times a week will help build or maintain bone mass.

Stretching and Flexibility

Having flexible joints is another important aspect of help to keep osteoporosis at bay. Regular stretching, yoga, and Pilates are some of the ways you can ensure your joints stay lubricated and flexible.

There are of course other aspects to maintaining good bone health such as eating a healthy diet and ensuring you get enough calcium and vitamin D, but that’s a subject for another blog.

The important thing to keep in mind is that staying active, exercising and stretching are very effective strategies to help prevent osteoporosis.  And even if you have osteoporosis you can still make improvements by exercising.

Disclaimer

The material contained in this blog is for informational and educational purposes. Considerable 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.

 

 

* Source Osteoporosis Canada. Speaking of Bones. 2006.