A handful of supplements and strategies for healthy aging

As we get on in years, we’re more susceptible to all kinds of health problems that may have been easier to avoid when we were younger. Glancing at the website Aging Care, there’s a laundry list of health problems facing the elderly: dementia and other brain health issues, multiple problems pertaining to cardiovascular health, emotional problems, osteoporosis and other bone health issues.

While it may be a good idea for some individuals to conference with their physicians first, there are also a selection of supplements that some experts have recommended to keep us fit and healthy in our golden years. There are also a few lifestyle alterations that people can make to insure their health endures through their later years.

Physical activity
A 2010 article from the New York Times explains that getting in plenty of aerobic exercise may be one of the best ways to prevent health problems related to aging. Even actions like walking indoors, like going up and down the stairs, could do the job if it’s done frequently enough. Pointing to a 2006 study that appeared in the Journals of Gerontology, the news provider says that 45 minutes of walking three times a week improved the size of the brains of the people who exercised. Regular exercise decreases the likelihood of dementia, and the source indicates that it can have similar effects on people who are already coping with ongoing conditions pertaining to the lungs and joint health.

Multivitamins
Meanwhile, Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends that people getting on in years consider taking daily multivitamins. It’s important to take these supplements when the stomach is full, so multivitamins could be considered a sort of follow up to a healthy breakfast. Substances that Weil notes may help if they’re included in the pills include Lutein, lycopene and other antioxidants for their illness preventive qualities. He also notes that it might be a wise to make sure your multivitamin contains certain quantities of vitamin C and vitamin D.

Ginger
Inflammation might be the body’s natural mechanism against harmful elements, but in excess it can be harmful for health. Weil advises readers to check if supplements may help keep inflammation under control. He also points to aspirin as a substance that could potentially help reduce inflammation. However, as aspirin could lead to bleeding in stomach, it’s best to ask a physician if it’s a good idea to start taking it on a daily basis.

Smoothies
William Sears, M.D., and his wife Martha Sears, R.N., note that healthy aging can take the form of a tasty, fruity beverage treat. Smoothies that contain five servings of fruit, plus yogurt, flaxseeds, tofu and plant-based juice could provide energy between meals. Many sweet beverages like sodas and juice drinks contain high quantities of high-fructose corn syrup, so smoothies may be the better choice.

Fish Oil
The Sears couple describe people undergoing a regular intake of oils, including fish oil, flax oil, olive oil and nut oils can be as giving themselves a human “oil change.” A person’s longevity could be increased if they make these substances a regular part of their diet. In addition, we can add the Sears to the list of experts who recommend the Mediterranean diet, as they encouraged eating plenty of fish in lieu of meat. Regardless of a person’s age, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables every day can also be an important part of staying healthy, and is also included in the Mediterranean diet.

While it’s virtually impossible to keep our health from diminishing somewhat as we age, these steps could help minimize the effects f time and help us enjoy our lives to the fullest.

Some ideas for maintaining bone health

It’s important for people of all ages to get plenty of calcium to ensure their bones stay healthy, but especially for those of us who are growing older, it’s important to maintain optimal bone health.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 44 million people in the U.S. have developed osteoporosis – also known as low bone density – which puts them at greater risk of fracture. In fact, half of all women over the age of 50 are said to have the condition, and the same can be said of about 25 percent of men. When osteoporosis sets in, it doesn’t take much to cause a bone fracture. This is an extreme example, but the source notes that something as seemingly low-impact as a sneeze can break a bone if a person’s bone density is low enough.

But as is the case with many health conditions, there are steps people can take in advance to strengthen their bones, and potentially reduce the odds that osteoporosis ever occurs.

Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids
The experts at Healthy Women promptly point out omega-3 – the good kind of fatty acid – on its list of bone health preserving steps. The source explains that although many people are already aware that omega-3s, which are abundant in fish oil, they might not know that fish can help reduce inflammation and, thereby, help improve heart health. It seems that omega-3 fatty acid is good for the formation of bones, while omega-6 – increases the odds of experiencing bone problems at some point in the future.

Ditto for vitamin D
Vitamin D has been known to help with emotional health, as well as maintain skin health. Healthy Women states that it may also benefit bone health in significant ways. According to the source, vitamin D allows the body to make the best use of calcium, and makes it so blood doesn’t have to drain resources such as calcium from bones. Supplements are encouraged by Healthy Women, with consideration for how sunlight isn’t always easy to come by, depending on where a person lives. Even if a person is already on medications for osteoporosis or other bone degenerative conditions, it might be a good idea to take vitamin D and calcium supplements to maximize bone health.

Be mindful of general health matters
Smoking and drinking too much may put a person at risk for developing all kinds of cancers. But they could also increase the risk of osteoporosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. Smoking makes it more difficult for body to retain calcium, and alcoholism has also been connected with a higher osteoporosis risk, according to the NIH. In addition – just like muscles – bones become stronger when they’re used regularly, so leading an active lifestyle may enhance bone health while also bringing a person closer to achieving other health objectives. The same goes for proper weight management – being underweight or overweight have both been linked to poor bone health.

Consume low-fat dairy, and other calcium-fortified substances
Most people may assume that some foods are better for bone health than others, but not everyone may know which are best. The National Institutes of Health points out that many supermarkets and other food services provide calcium-fortified versions of foods that may not have originally been loaded with calcium, including tofu, soy milk and orange juice. Leafy vegetables, Chinese cabbage and nuts are also NIH-approved for the calcium content. But drinking low-fat milk may be the easiest way to boost a person’s calcium intake.

Strategies for avoiding burnout

If you’re working more than 40 hours a week while balancing family and social commitments,stress management may become a major issue in your life. And if you’re constantly feeling overwhelmed, odds are you’re not going to be able to offer your best performance at your job.

To help readers out with this issue, Huffington Post scribe Carson Tate – who’s also a prominent member of management consultancy Working Simply – offered a few tips for workers who are having difficulty staying excited about their jobs.

Take a day off 
Tate notes that working every day of the week – and by “working” she includes checking email and attending to household chores – may increase you’re odds of becoming overwhelmed and disinterested in your daily life. If you take a proper day off, it’ll help you get the mental and physical rest needed to be more engaged with your professional life during the other five or six days a week you’re focusing on getting things done.

There may even be health-oriented reasons for taking a so-called “mental day,” according to an article in Fox News. If work stress is preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, or you’re feeling excessively moody or indifferent, it might be a good time to ask your boss for the type of day Tate describes.

Change things up a bit
If the way you’re currently going about taking care of work and other matters is leaving you stressed and moody all the time, it’s possible that a rearrangement of your schedule may help reduce stress. Tate notes that If your way of maintaining your schedule isn’t working, “challenge the status quo.” She specifically notes that if a weekly staff meeting has been traditionally held with all the participants seated in a conference room, there’s no reason not to change that up.

Even Wired magazine recently proclaimed that “sitting is our generation’s smoking” in light of the fact that the average American currently spends more time sitting than he or she does sleeping. The source encourages people to take what it calls “walkntalks,” to decrease the amount of time managers and employees spend on their tooshes. So-called “walkntalks” could resolve the conflict between the need to be productive and taking actions that may be beneficial for the health, notes the source.

Some of the best things for keeping brains healthy

If you’re start to near your golden years, you might begin to look into ways in which you can help maintain brain health. The development of dementia in older folks has risen to nearly epidemic levels in the U.S. – in fact, a recent report from the Alzheimer’s association indicates that 33 percent of elderly people are coping with some form of dementia by the time they pass away.

Unfortunately, science has yet to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about significant risk factors such as heredity and aging. While there’s always a possibility of developing dementia and other brain degenerative conditions at some point regardless of your choices in life, many experts have researched ways to potentially maintain your brain health for the longest time possible.

Stay healthy
It would seem that the development of many conditions related to brain health, heart health and innumerable other conditions could be stymied by many of the same lifestyle choices. The Alzheimer’s Association explains that while eating right and exercising regularly is definitely not a foolproof method for preventing dementia and related problems later in life, these habits certainly don’t seem to hurt anyone’s chances of maintaining a fully-functional brain.

On its list of tips for keeping up brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association notes that getting exercise helps keep blood flowing, and could improve chances the new brain cells will develop. Also, because strokes sometimes cause brain damage and a low cholesterol diet helps reduce the odds of having a stroke, it follows that a low cholesterol diet may also decrease the chances of having brain damage.

Many cardiovascular health problems including heart disease have been connected to poor brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association notes. In addition – the diet the organization recommends includes lots of vegetables and fruits for their antioxidant content.

It’s also noteworthy that smoking has been linked to a greater likelihood of heart disease and stroke, and Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., has “Don’t Smoke” as his number one method for brain maintenance.

Enjoy a good night’s sleep
A report from Reader’s Digest points to research compiled by Harvard Medical School, which showed that a solid 7-to-8 hours of sleep a night increased the odds that study patients would creatively solve math problems.

Feed your brain
You might be wondering “What does solving math problems have to do with keeping my brain healthy?” Well, some experts indicate that keeping your mind active may, in fact, benefit brain health. On his website, Nussbaum says mental stimulation could keep your brain strong the same way getting regular exercise can keep your body strong. Learning new things can lead to what Nussbaum calls “neurophysiological growth.” So consider reading a book, or picking up a new hobby if you’re looking for an easy and potentially fun way to help reduce mental degeneration.

Maintain social relationships
A few different sources indicate that something as simple as continuing to enjoy life can stave off many of the effects of poor brain health. The Alzheimer’s Association displays scientific findings showing that a good mix of mental, physical and social activity could drop the chances of developing dementia. The organization encourages older readers to continue professional activities in some capacity, but it also says that volunteering, participating in social groups and traveling could also help keep the mind limber and lucid.

So, while there’s no sure-fire way to prevent dementia, none of these preventive actions would seem to be the kinds of things many people who enjoy a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle would be adverse to partaking in.

Here are a few thoughts on breakfast…

It’s been called the most important meal of the day, but for many people, breakfast is also their favorite meal. There’s nothing like waking up to a fresh bowl of cereal, coffee, orange juice and perhaps a low-calorie side. However, U.S. News and Health recently pointed to a handful of common mistakes some people have been known to make when attempting to put together a nutritious breakfast.

It’s common knowledge that many side dishes often associated with breakfast – including sausage and eggs – can have averse effects for heart health, depending on how they’re prepared. But even if a person is removing the yokes from their eggs and sticking with low-fat turkey sausage or a meatless sausage substitute, there are more subtle things to avoid during breakfast to keep it healthy.

Not enough protein or fiber
U.S. News and Health reporter Keri Gans starts her article by noting that a low-protein breakfast will leave a person feeling hungry again sooner rather than later. Clearly, this won’t help anyone who’s attempting to watch what they eat for the purposes of weight loss. Ideas she presents for making sure the reader gets enough protein at breakfast include drinking all the milk that accompanies a bowl of cereal, having a single hard boiled egg or eating whole-grain toast. Fiber presents a similar problem for those focusing on weight management – not getting enough leaves the belly feeling emptier earlier. So it helps to check the nutritional facts about cereal, and making sure it contains at least five grams per serving.

Gans also advises readers to make sure they have a hearty breakfast – at least 300 or 400 calories, not to eat it too late in the day and not to be afraid of consuming a little bit of fat. Too much fat is a poor choice, but just a tiny bit, such as the quantity found in a serving of 2-percent yogurt, should suppress appetite until lunch.

Some quick breakfast food suggestions
Speaking of yogurt, it’s identified as a potentially healthy breakfast side on Eating Well’s list of the best breakfast foods. The source says that yogurt could help people lose weight, so long as it’s garnished with fresh fruit instead of sugar. The high fiber and low fat content of oatmeal also gained hearty cereal a spot at the top of Eating Well’s best breakfast foods list.

The best supplements for eye health

It’s obvious how important eye health is. Especially as people grow older, there are a handful of things they can do to help keep their vision crisp. According to a report from Fox News, these steps include wearing sunglasses when the sun is especially bright, keeping diabetes under control, getting plenty of vitamins and making sure any contacts that are worn for vision correction aren’t left in past the point doctors recommend. Keeping contacts clean and sanitary is another way to help ensure an infection never takes place.

In addition, some supplements may have benefits for eye health. However, for anyone who’s starting to experience vision loss, an article from ABC advises that he or she seek out a specialist.

“A dilated eye exam will show you if you have macular degeneration,” Barbara Blodi, M.D., associate professor at the department of ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin, told the news provider. “Once you know what is causing your vision loss, then you know what supplements we know can help you – so go from there.”

For those whose vision problems have yet to become severe, NewsMax compiled some of the supplements it recommends.

Lutein
This carotenoid – which appears naturally in many vegetables including spinach, tomatoes and carrots helps eyes by contributing to the layer of protective mucus around the eyes and may help to the prevention of cataracts.

Chromium
A mineral frequently found in foods such as onions and tomatoes, chromium keeps up what NewsMax calls “balanced intraocular pressure” in those precious balls that inhabit our eye sockets.

Vitamin C
This vitamin is also known to help with the prevention of diseases such as colds and flu, but the source notes that it may also have the potential to help prevent glaucoma, and keep collagen tissue in shape.

Zinc
You might not want to think too hard about the presence of minerals in your retina, but the source says that this is indeed the case. Zinc is also said to have antioxidant value – and who would have thought that zinc would have so much in common with green tea?

Vitamin A
Perhaps most importantly for eye health, vitamin A is advertised by NewsMax as crucial to keep the retina working like it’s normally supposed to. A handful of serious eye diseases – including Xeropthalmia and night blindness – are said to be related to vitamin A deficiency.  Several other sources point to liver as a vitamin A-rich food, if supplements aren’t available.

Mediterranean diet could help save money

Experts have said that the abundance of fish oil in the Mediterranean diet can have significant benefits for weight management and other health matters. Now findings newly released by the Miriam Hospital and the Rhode Island Community Food Bank show that eating lots of fruits, vegetables and fish as part of a Mediterranean diet could also help your monthly grocery bill slim down.

A statement from the cohort of researchers explains that it’s often assumed that eating healthy is more expensive than consuming lots of fast foods and snacks. However, when less of a food budget is dedicated to purchasing potentially high-calorie meats with low nutritional benefits, and instead spent on more plants, money can be saved.

Lead study author and research dietitian at the Miriam Hospital Mary Flynn, Ph.D., got the idea to conduct this research from speaking with participants in prior studies on chronic disease.

“I had a number of people – mainly women from my breast cancer weight loss study – say how inexpensive a Mediterranean-style diet was,”  she announced. “So I approached the food bank about designing a study using food pantry items for the recipes.”

During the course of this six-month study – wherein grocery recipes were collected from 63 participants, Flynn said that on average, spending more money on fruits and vegetables and less on meat brought about 50 percent in weekly savings on food. Subjects were typically low-income and recruited through a food bank, and their reliance on their food bank’s services also dropped by approximately 15 percent.

Some tips for applying the Mediterranean diet to your life
If it sounds difficult or time consuming to change up your habits to fit Mediterranean-style eating – and enjoying the possible benefits to cardiovascular health – consider some of the advice provided by The Patriot News, based in Pennsylvania.

Shehab Saba – a Mediterranean-diet advocate and pita store owner – told the news source that an easy way to save money on olive oil is to buy it in larger quantities. Amanda Dolan from Capital BlueCross also told the source that growing your own vegetables can save money and produce foods with fewer additives than are found in some supermarkets. While some experts encourage people to eat organics, Dolan and other experts told The Patriot News that the pricier products aren’t necessary for a productive Mediterranean diet.

Bloggers and researchers weigh in on stress management

A new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine makes a direct connection between coronary heart disease, diabetes and job burnout. In this instance, “burnout” is defined as a state characterized by emotional exhaustion, fatigue and cognitive weariness.

To bring about their conclusions, scientists affiliated with Tel Aviv University examined almost 8,900 people, 100 of whom developed coronary heart disease by the end of their three to four year study. Using a scale to determine their levels of burnout, the Tel Aviv team identified that high levels of job burnout increased the chances of having heart disease by 40 percent. Those who were especially burnt out – whose level of burnout were in the top 20 percent – were almost 80 percent more likely to experience heart disease than their more relaxed counterparts.

Following a write up of the study, the Huffington Post published a compilation of other issues related to stress. These include a greater-than-average chance of becoming depressed, problems with sleep and a tendency to have poorer brain health.

In light of these and other problems related to stress, Huffington Post blogger and stress expert Kate Bratskeir wrote about specific things she used to stress out about, which she has learned to discard in order to improve her personal mental state. These include concerns that might seem superfluous, but nonetheless can weigh on a person’s mind, such as a lack of ability to dance well, having less-than perfect vision, not having a clear sense of direction and worrying about what her friends think of her vegetarianism.  Her underlaying thesis may be that a good way to control stress is to have a clear sense of what factors in life can and cannot be controlled.

Skin health and sleep may be closely related

Studies have suggested that getting a regular night's sleep can have all kinds of long-term benefits for cardiovascular health. However, a new article released by Everyday Health dictates that sleep can possibly have significant impact on skin health as well. 

It would seem getting enough "beauty sleep" is more than just an expression, according to some sources.

"Poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis," Jessica Krant, M.D., a SUNY Downstate Medical Center assistant clinical professor of dermatology, told Everyday Health. "Getting a good night's sleep will help to clear up skin, which allows sleep to improve and, in turn, will improve skin health."

The first two reasons on the Huffington Post's list pertain to acne and other unsightly skin issues, while the third is an example of how immune health related to the skin can be hindered by not sleeping enough. Specifically, it can increase the odds of developing psoriasis. Krant went on to state that psoriasis can harm heart health. On top of the adverse effects not getting enough sleep can have on the external appearance of skin, it can also make weight management more difficult, as being excessively tired has been known to increase appetite while draining the energy a person needs to burn calories.

More reasons to sleep more
Lists of reasons why sleeping enough is good for your health are certainly easy to find. In a Huffington Post blog, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Jeff Deitz, M.D., compared some people's nonchalant attitudes toward sleep to the tobacco epidemic in terms of how damaging it may be for the well-being of the public. 

But getting a proper night's rest can enhance more than just people's physical appearance and health. The Huffington Post has also reported on a study from the Journal of Sleep Research, which showed that well-rested test subjects did better at a game designed to emulate casino gambling than a group that had been sleep deprived. So if you're planning on taking a vacation to Las Vegas anytime soon, it might be a good idea to make sure you get plenty of shuteye in before you hit the card tables. 

Bloggers and researchers weigh in on stress management

A new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine makes a direct connection between coronary heart disease, diabetes and job burnout. In this instance, "burnout" is defined as a state characterized by emotional exhaustion, fatigue and cognitive weariness. 

To bring about their conclusions, scientists affiliated with Tel Aviv University examined almost 8,900 people, 100 of whom developed coronary heart disease by the end of their three to four year study. Using a scale to determine their levels of burnout, the Tel Aviv team identified that high levels of job burnout increased the chances of having heart disease by 40 percent. Those who were especially burnt out – whose level of burnout were in the top 20 percent – were almost 80 percent more likely to experience heart disease than their more relaxed counterparts.

Following a write up of the study, the Huffington Post published a compilation of other issues related to stress. These include a greater-than-average chance of becoming depressed, problems with sleep and a tendency to have poorer brain health. 

In light of these and other problems related to stress, Huffington Post blogger and stress expert Kate Bratskeir wrote about specific things she used to stress out about, which she has learned to discard in order to improve her personal mental state. These include concerns that might seem superfluous, but nonetheless can weigh on a person's mind, such as a lack of ability to dance well, having less-than perfect vision, not having a clear sense of direction and worrying about what her friends think of her vegetarianism.  Her underlaying thesis may be that a good way to control stress is to have a clear sense of what factors in life can and cannot be controlled.