Friday, January 29, 2016

Cognitive Neuroscience (and Lumosity.com)

I have received many emails asking if I personally still plan to use Lumosity.com brain games, since the news reported their fine of a couple million dollars related to false advertising. The answer is ‘yes.’ Many companies have been found guilty of promising results that cannot be guaranteed. Studies repeatedly are showing some benefit to the brain related to cognitive brain exercises—but studies cannot guarantee results for a specific individual. Therefore, the best one can say is something to the effect that ‘stimulating and challenging brain exercises may help one retard if not prevent the onset of symptoms of cognitive aging . . .’  Let’s avoid allowing the baby to slip out with the bathwater.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oniomania

How is your 'oniomania?' Do you know anyone who has it? Oniomania is the medical term for shopaholism. This addictive, obsessive disorder involves a need to buy things. Compulsive shoppers have been shown to be deficient in serotonin. Kellet and Bolton describe compulsive buying as the experience or having an irresistible–uncontrollable urge, resulting in excessive, expensive and time-consuming retail activity [that is] typically prompted by negative affectivity and results in gross social, personal and/or financial difficulties. Some have called it ‘retail therapy.’ If no compulsivity is involved it may be a mood lifter. But like the use of opiods, it can be either a therapy or an addiction, depending on whether it is adaptive or maladaptive. (Lombard, Jay, Dr., and Dr. Christian Renna. Balance Your Brain, Balance Your life.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Obesity-Sleep Link, 2

Sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road. Sleep deprivation seems to increase hunger. Studies at Columbia University: people who don’t get enough sleep tend to eat an extra 300 calories a day. And the favorite food was ice cream. Both men and women ate more protein-rich foods on short sleep, but only women ingested more fat. While men ate the same amount of fat no matter how much sleep they got, the women averaged 31 more grams of fat after sleeping for four hours.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Obesity-Sleep Link

Sleep deprivation appears independently associated with weight gain, particularly in younger age groups. According to researcher Nan Hee Kim, MD, PhD, of Korea University College of Medicine in Ansan, Korea, regardless of lifestyle, people who stayed up late faced a higher risk of developing health problems compared with those who were early risers. Late-to bed individuals are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of aging) than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep. Male night owls were more likely have diabetes or sarcopenia than early risers. Female night owls tended to have more belly fat and an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Obesity-Testosterone Link

Testosterone plays a vital role in how the body balances glucose and insulin and in fat metabolism in both males and females. Lugging excess weight around one’s middle is an especially ugly risk factor for a testosterone-estrogen hormone imbalance. Aromatase, an enzyme in fat tissue, converts testosterone into estradiol, a type of estrogen. That can result in a decrease in testosterone levels and a corresponding increase in estrogen levels, undesirable for anyone regardless of gender. The New England Research Institutes (NERI) reported a study of 1,822 men, which concluded that a man’s waist circumference is the single strongest predictor of low testosterone. It’s a two-way street: obesity can cause low testosterone and low testosterone can contribute to obesity. Snacks or meals loaded with refined and processed carbohydrates from white flour and sugar can trigger the biggest surge in aromatase. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Obesity-Breast Cancer Reoccurrence Link

Studies have shown a connection between obesity in women and an increased risk for symptoms of mental deterioration. Now studies have connected being overweight with an increased risk of cancer reoccurrence, especially in relation to hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. The trials were led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (now part of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group). They involved 6,885 women treated with standard chemotherapy for breast cancer and followed for eight years. Results, published in the American Cancer Society Journal reported a 30 percent higher risk of recurrence and a 50 percent higher risk of death when compared with death rates for women of normal weight who had breast cancer. (Joseph Sparano of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Montefiore Medical Center in New York)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Obesity-Dementia Link

MRI studies by Paul Thompson PhD, UCLA Professor of Neurology, revealed that brains of overweight individuals showed 4 percent less brain tissue, while obese brains had 8 percent less tissue than those of normal-weight people. The brains of overweight persons looked 8 years older and those of obese individuals looked 16 years older than those of normal-weight people. Obesity is linked with more than 50 diseases—including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer and cancer reoccurrence, and dementia. Obesity may even be worse for females. Women who are obese throughout life are at increased risk for developing dementia, perhaps due to increased secretion of cortisol.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Obesity-Alzheimer’s Link

Keeping your weight within an optimum range is a vital part of protecting your health and--again--that starts in the brain. Studies of 8,000 twins showed that being overweight doubled the risk of dementia, and being obese quadrupled that risk. In another study, obese people who lost weight following bariatric surgery had significantly improved memory and concentration after 12 weeks. Reducing risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, obesity, and inactivity by 25% could prevent half-a-million cases of Alzheimer’s annually in the USA. The goal is to stave off the disease long enough so you can live life without ever suffering Alzheimer's symptoms. (Gary Small MD. The Alzheimer's Prevention Program)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fad-Diet Downsides


Fad diets don’t work long term for at least three reasons: are usually unbalanced and often turn on survival genes (that makes the diet lose its effectiveness over time); doesn’t allow for flexibility in food selection or match way you normally eat; requires a change to another diet method for long-term weight control once the weight is off. When you diet the body thinks its starving and becomes more efficient at holding onto the calories you ingest and stingier at giving them up for exercise. You may lose some weight initially (often fluid), but your body has been ‘reprogrammed,’ when you stop dieting you will gain your weight back faster and eventually go up to a higher weight than before. Fat tissue is 97% water. That’s where the weight of fat comes from, its water content. (Brent W. Bost MD, FACOG. Hurried Woman Syndrome.)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dump Dieting for Your Brain’s Sake

One of my main concerns with any type of dieting involves the potential negative impact on the brain down the line—because everything starts in the brain and it can be relatively easily damaged. Here are two potential problems.
 Weight-loss diets can impact the brain negatively (e.g., disrupt synthesis of neurotransmitters, alter brain chemistry, decrease intelligence, trigger mental processing problems). Avoid all crash diets (e.g., less than 1000 calories per day) or rapid weight-loss diets. You can shed smarts as well as pounds if you’re not careful. (Maggie Greenwood-Robinson PhD. 20/20 Thinking.)

Dieting starves the brain of serotonin. This can trigger a cycle of dieting and bingeing—as there isn’t enough serotonin to signal satisfaction. (Faith Hickman Brynie. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Dieting’s False Hopes

Samuel Beckett said, ‘Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.’ Those concerned about their weight can get caught in dieting traps. That’s unfortunate, since many have made their fortunes on the back of the ‘diet craze,’ offering seemingly endless options: crash, fast, no-carb, hi-fat, low-fat, juice, raw food, fat farms, boot camp, and so on. When one type falls out of favor, it’s often brought back under a new name. UCLA researcher Stuart Wolpert found that dieting does not work. By their very nature diets are designed to fail. Initially you many lose a few pounds as the brain and body respond temporarily to something new and different. But dieting cannot be maintained over time, especially when it involves food deprivation. Within a space of just two to three years, most eventually gain back everything they lost—often more—and risk damaging brain and body systems in the process. A study published in the journal American Psychologist found that dieting does ‘not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.’

Thursday, January 14, 2016

What IS so Bad?

My answer would have been: Nothing if you’re designed to be ‘big.’ However, if you are not designed to be ‘big,’ and you want to live a long time with high levels of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health; and you want to delay the onset of some symptoms of growing older; and you want to hang onto your mental marbles (so to speak), then ‘big’ may not be so beautiful. That question and others like it basically underpinned the reason that I and my co-authors wrote Longevity Lifestyle matters—Keeping Your Brain, Body, and weight in the Game along with the Companion Notebook and the children’s version The Longevity Mystery Club (that I just recorded as an audiobook). If you want to get your weight into an optimum range and desire to live a long time—I’m aiming for 122 years 164 days—my best recommendation is to get on board with a Longevity Lifestyle. Over the next few blogs I’ll give you a few researched reasons to take another look at ‘big is beautiful.’ Starting with ‘dieting’ doesn’t work.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

‘Big Is Beautiful’

You understand that what people weigh is none of my business and I refrain from making comments unless I am asked to do so. Big is beautiful. Giraffes, for example. I loved feeding a couple of 18-feet-tall specimens weighing almost a ton (each) and their purple tongue nearly 2 feet long. And elephants. I loved getting up close and personal with some of them in Africa. African bush Elephants are the largest the largest mammals on land, weighing up to nearly 7 tons, eating 80,000 pus calories each day, and drinking between 20 and 50 gallons of water depending on the temperature of the air. And I think the wandering Albatross is a beauty, too, with a wingspan that can reach 12 feet.  Recently I overheard several comments such as: “Big is beautiful!” and “What’s so bad about being big, anyway”

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Same Calories--Differing Foods

As you may know, obesity is not just a problem in America, it is pandemic. And the problem with obesity (in addition to needing to purchase larger clothing at intervals and taking up more space in the vehicle and squeezing into the airline seat) is its linkage with more than 50 diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, forms of cancer, and dementia. Some studies have looked at participants with differing eating styles against their BMI (body mass index). They used a BMI of 30 or greater—a standard criterion for clinical obesity. Results showed that about one third of meat eaters were clinically obese, about one fourth of semi-vegetarians, slightly less than one fifth of pesco-vegetarians and lacto-ovo vegetarians, and one tenth of vegans. There was a great similarity in total average caloric intake among these groups but a large difference in the types of foods and beverages that were being ingested, which impacted their weight gain. Do the math . . .

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mediterranean Cuisine

As you know, many are now recommending moving toward a plant-based style of eating along the line of Mediterranean Cuisine and there are multiple studies validating this. I receiving emails asking if moving in this direction would help a person also move toward a more optimum weight range. The answer is likely ‘it depends.’ If you get serious about eating regular meals of high-quality food and managing portion control, some studies showed that pesco-vegetarians (plant-based foods plus sea food), semi-vegetarians (plant-based foods with infrequent meat and sea food), and meat eaters had about the same results. This changed rather dramatically if the individuals were vegan, however. Additional factors may be that vegans are less likely to consume alcohol (remember, 7 calories per gram) and are more likely to engage in regular physical activity and exercise than either other types of vegetarians or those who eat meat. So, it depends . . .

Friday, January 8, 2016

Food Journal

If you have decided to move toward an optimum weight range for your height, gender, and bone structure, keeping a food journal for 3-7 days has been found to be a bona fide strategy for getting a handle on what you are actually eating. If you’re a ‘grazer,’ or if you have learned to wolf down food in a distracted manner, you can ingest hundreds of unnecessary calories in a matter of minutes. It’s worth the time and effort for write down everything you put into your mouth and swallow—and then analyze the pattern. One man realized that he was guzzling beer while watching sports on TV in the evening—and that alcohol contributes 7 calories per gram (while protein and carbs contribute only 4 calories per gram). Along with that, he was popping high-fat mini-quiches (and fat contributes 9 calories per gram). An apple, air-popped popcorn, and lemon water or herb tea would provide a tenth of the calories. Your taste buds replace themselves every few days so you can train them to enjoy something else quite quickly—if you want to.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

One Ounce at a Time

Up or down, weight creeps along deceptively slowly. Living a Longevity Lifestyle is not about obsessively counting calories or about deprivation. It is about living in mindful awareness of how what you do today impacts you in the future. You think you’re hungry? First ask yourself, ‘How long is it since I ate?’ If it was 4-5 hours ago, your body may need food physiologically. If it was 2 hours ago you may be in the habit of ‘grazing,’ or you may be ‘thirsty’ (or bored or upset or distracted). Drink a big glass of water and pay attention to the way you feel in 30 minutes. Many children were fed when they were thirsty and so never really learned to tell the difference between being hungry and thirsty. The good news about pure water is that it is calorie-free and does not trigger your digestive system. Put a little lemon in your glass of water if you’re training yourself to like the taste. (Of water!)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Went to Your Waist

I’m already getting emails from individuals who really ‘enjoyed’ year-end celebrations and just now, having stepped on the scales, have ‘freaked out,’ as one writer put it. Truth be told it is very easy to fail to manage portion sizes during celebrations periods and/or to ingest foods that are not part of one’s regular menu, especially if there’s a lot going on and you’re paying little attention to what you’re actually putting into your mouth and swallowing. The bad news is that many people gain at least a pound or slightly under half a kilogram during year-end celebrations. Then they fail to take it off, gain a pound the following year, and so on—until one January the scales say they are 15 or 20 pounds heavier than when their clothes fit less snugly. Weight is something that can creep up on you an ounce at a time. The good news is that is how you get back into your optimum weight range again, one ounce at a time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

FoMo to JoJi

Last year I blogged on Australia’s first study about FoMo (Fear of Missing out) that was commissioned by viagogo. You may recall that 70 per cent of Australians, reported they have experienced FoMo and they’re most likely to be women or members of Gen-Y. What’s the most common cause of FoMo? Missing out on tickets to a sports or musical event (25 percent), hearing a friend has bought property or made a financial investment or got a promotion or new job. (22 percent). And this is startling: Facebook is the worst culprit for triggering this ‘missing out’ phenomenon. Nearly 5,000,000 Australians say they experienced FoMo after using Facebook. I was thinking about an achronym that would be the opposite of FoMo when a reader suggested JOJI, the Joy of Joining in. That could work—when you are choosing to join in and doing so in defrazzlement.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Just One...

Once upon a time, so the story goes, probably sometime in the 1760’s, a man was traveling through a village in Northern Ireland. (Perhaps in the townland of Moybeg Kirley, near Tobermore, as Wikipedia indicates that’s where the child in this story was born.) Hearing sounds of children at play, the traveler followed them to a schoolyard. It was recess and the students were busy playing with each other. All except for one little boy who was all by himself. Interested, the man asked the playground supervisor if there was something wrong with the child. She explained that he was the dullest boy in the whole school, couldn’t learn, and basically amounted to nothing. Pained to hear such cruel words spoken about a student, the man went over to the boy. Speaking cheerful, the man assured the boy: “One of these days you’ll make a fine scholar. Don’t give up. Try, my boy. Try.” That moment of encouragement triggered something in the child’s mind. Adam Clarke did make a fine scholar, indeed. His Bible Commentary was used for a couple of centuries. One contact. One person. And little Adam found a spark of hope.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

What do you want for 2016? Personally? I’m not especially jazzed about New Year’s Resolutions, so called. I prefer to make a resolution whenever I get new information that may improve my health and potential longevity—all year long. I was thinking about resolutions last night, however, and realized that I do have a New Year’s Resolution. It’s the same one I’ve had for several years. I want to make a positive difference in someone’s life this year. Sometimes it only takes one contact, you know, to alter the course of a person’s life. That happened to me and I like to pass forward the good things that have happened to me. Being part Irish, I like stories about Ireland. Recently I heard about one encounter that changed the life of an Irish lad. It was in a piece entitled ‘Clarke's Prize’ by Carl McRoy. I’ll tell you about it in my next blog. Meantime, have a Happy New Year today and decide what YOU want to do in 2016.