Monthly Archives: April 2015

Having a Sense of Purpose in Life May Protect Your Heart

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Having a high sense of purpose in life may lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a new study led by researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt and presented on March 6 at the American Heart Association’s EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore.

The new analysis defined purpose in life as a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living.

Previous research has linked purpose to psychological health and well-being, but the new Mount Sinai analysis found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or a cardiac stenting procedure.

“Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life,” says lead study author Randy Cohen, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt. “Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of ‘do I have a sense of purpose in my life?’ If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being.”

The research team reviewed 10 relevant studies with the data of more than 137,000 people to analyze the impact of sense of purpose on death rates and risk of cardiovascular events. The meta-analysis also found that those with a low sense of purpose are more likely to die or experience cardiovascular events.

“Prior studies have linked a variety of psychosocial risk factors to heart disease, including negative factors such as anxiety and depression and positive factors such as optimism and social support,” says Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System. “Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals’ sense of life purpose.”

Full article… 

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One Simple Change … to make you Younger

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One Simple Change … then another… then another … can make you younger! Don’t we all want that? To look good, feel good and stay young – whatever our chronological age?! I know I do, even if it’s a bit late for me in the look good category (69 this summer!)

One Simple Change is our new program to help Inspire Healthy Living Around the World.

Since you and I can’t always see or feel prevention, we often turn to our doctor to order blood tests, scans, etc to see how we are doing on the inside.

Ever wonder if it’s all worth it? After sorting through all the conflicting information about what’s good for you and what’s not, are the things you’ve decided to do in the name of better health, actually doing any good?

Now you don’t have to wonder; iHeart claims they can tell you your age on the inside, your internal age, your biological age, in 30 seconds.

Make One Simple Change after another – with our recommendations below, then monitor yourself with iHeart‘s clever fingertip device and app and watch yourself get younger!

Interestingly, we heard last week about a major cardiovascular study of Juice Plus+  underway at none other than Cambridge University in England. This study will answer the question: “Can Juice Plus+ improve vascular and metabolic functions in overweight and obese adults?” It will study vessel calcification and elasticity, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and much more. Of course, we already know the answer from the extensive body of research already conducted on Juice Plus+.

Science Shakeup! What Scientists Are Saying About Daily Salt Intake

saltshakerAlthough there’s no question that too much salt is bad, especially for people with high blood pressure, the real question that has scientists divided is how much is “too” much.

Like salty foods? Salt intake was not associated with mortality or risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and health failure (HF) in older adults based on self-reported estimated sodium intake, according to a study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Data on sodium restriction among older adults are scarce, especially those with their blood pressure on target. Achieving a sodium intake of less than 1,500 mg/day as currently recommended for adults over 50 also is difficult for older adults in part because of long-held dietary habits. So the incremental benefit of restricting sodium to lower targets needs to be evaluated, according to background information.

Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of Emory University, Atlanta, and coauthors looked at the association between dietary sodium intake and mortality, CVD and HF in a group of 2,642 adults who ranged in age from 71 to 80 (51.2 percent of the participants were female and 61.7 percent were white). The authors analyzed 10-year follow-up data on the adults who were participating in this community-based study where dietary sodium intake was assessed at baseline with a questionnaire.

After 10 years, 881 of the participants had died, 572 had developed CVD and 398 had developed HF. Sodium intake was not associated with mortality, or new development of CVD or HF, according to study results. Ten-year mortality rates were 33.8 percent, 30.7 percent and 35.2 percent among participants consuming less than 1,500 mg/d, 1,500 to 2,300 mg/d, and greater than 2,300 mg/d of sodium, respectively.

“In conclusion, we observed that sodium intake estimated by FFQ [food frequency questionnaire] was not associated with mortality or risk for CVD and HF in a cohort of adults 71 to 80 years old… Our data emphasize the need for stronger evidence, preferably from rigorous controlled trials testing additional thresholds for sodium intake, before applying a policy of further sodium restriction to older adults beyond the current recommendation for the general adult population (2,300 mg/d),” the study concludes.

Check out this report in the Washington Post for more information on the debate over salt in our diet.

Staying fit as you age keeps you young

cyclist-bike-2We often hear that nothing stops the physical decline of aging. But research consistently demonstrates otherwise.

Research published in 2011 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, exercise reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging in mice that had been genetically programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace.

Brand new research out this week has found that highly active older adults are fitter than previously thought … and younger.

In a new study, published this week in The Journal of Physiology, scientists at King’s College London and the University of Birmingham in England decided to use a different approach, not least that they tested humans instead of mice.

They removed inactivity as a factor in their study of aging by looking at the health of older people who move quite a bit.

Scientists recruited men and women between 55 and 79 who were serious recreational riders but not competitive athletes. The scientists then ran each volunteer through a large array of physical and cognitive tests. The scientists determined each cyclist’s endurance capacity, muscular mass and strength, pedaling power, metabolic health, balance, memory function, bone density and reflexes.

In comparison to their younger counterparts, these active older adults performed far beyond expectations. On almost all measures, their physical functioning remained fairly stable across the decades and was much closer to that of young adults than of people their age. As a group, even the oldest cyclists had younger people’s levels of balance, reflexes, metabolic health and memory ability.

Only muscular power, muscular mass, and aerobic endurance succumbed to the ravages of time. If you gave this dataset to a clinician and asked him to predict the age of one of the cyclists based on his or her test results, it would be impossible. On paper, they all look young. The numbers suggest that aging is simply different in the active.

Read the full article… 

Exercise Not Only Treats, But Prevents Depression

depression-and-exercisePsychologists have touted for decades that exercise can go a long way in treating depression. Dr. James A. Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University, led a recent study in which he and his team discovered that, among the 202 depressed people randomly assigned to various treatments, three sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise were approximately as effective at treating depression as daily doses of Zoloft, when the treatment effects were measured after four months.

A separate study showed that the depressives who improved with exercise were less likely to relapse after 10 months than those treated successfully with antidepressants, and the participants who continued to exercise beyond four months were half as likely to relapse months later compared to those who did not exercise.

Even as little as 20 minutes a week of physical activity can boost mental health. In a new Scottish study, reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 20,000 people were asked about their state of mind and how much physical activity they do in a week. The results showed that the more physical activity a person engaged in—including housework, gardening, walking, and sports–the lower their risk of distress and anxiety.

But now PhD candidate George Mammen’s review published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has taken the connection one step further, finding that moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term.

This is the first longitudinal review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.

Mammen—who is supervised by Professor Guy Faulkner, a co-author of the review— analyzed over 26 years’ worth of research findings to discover that even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.

Mammen’s findings come at a time when mental health experts want to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medication. “We need a prevention strategy now more than ever,” he says. “Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.”

Mammen acknowledges that other factors influence a person’s likelihood of experiencing depression, including their genetic makeup. But he says that the scope of research he assessed demonstrates that regardless of individual predispositions, there’s a clear take-away for everyone. “It’s definitely worth taking note that if you’re currently active, you should sustain it.  If you’re not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical.”

Prevent peanut allergies – give children peanuts early in life!

In just the last 10 years, there has been a threefold increase in peanut allergies in young children in the US and the UK.

In order to prevent the development of a peanut allergy, pediatricians and nutritionists often recommend parents avoid giving their children peanuts until they are older. But what if that’s the wrong advice?

Israel has provided the best indication of that; only 0.17% of children in Israel have peanut allergies, while in the US and the UK the number is 10 times higher. In Israel, there is no recommendation to avoid peanuts at a young age. In fact, one of the most popular snacks given to babies as young as 6 months is a peanut based puff called Bamba.

Researchers in the UK conducted an experiment (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) on 640 British infants, who were at high risk for developing a peanut allergy (they already had an egg allergy).

One group received a supply of Bamba, the other didn’t. Following up after 4 years, the rate of peanut allergies was 1.9% in the consumption group and a whopping 13.7% in the avoidance group.

Bottom line: Early introduction of peanuts may reduce, not increase, the risk of peanut allergies in children.

Workplace Wellness

Today’s is a guest post by Chandler Stevens.

There’s More To It Than Spin Class

The Data Are Clear

In this day and age you simply can’t do without a workplace wellness program in your business, large or small.

A healthy team is a productive—and economical—team. Conservative estimates place the ROI on wellness programs at just shy of $3 per dollar spent. Some programs bring up to 600% return on dollars spent. The benefits extend far beyond the financial. Healthy people are happy people, and a strong wellness program in the workplace can boost morale and keep your team motivated.

Workplace wellness is a no-brainer. This is your team, your tribe. It pays to treat them well. We all know that golden rule, right?

The Basics

If you have yet to implement in your business, you may be wondering: what goes into an effective wellness program? The most common components are:

-preliminary screening to identify risks

-interventions to address the screens

-promotional activities to facilitate healthy decisions

Most programs these days also add in group fitness or reduced-rate personal training for employees. Not rocket science, right? We simply test & retest, adjusting course as needed. Yet if it were this easy, every company would be implementing this on some level, right? What’s holding us back? By and large it has to do with…

Motivation

Many employers feel that despite the mountains of evidence, their business will be the ONE exception to tremendous returns. I understand. The most common fear is that employees simply won’t take advantage of the program’s benefits. I’d posit that this is more a matter of how we motivate (or fail to motivate) our team. The motivation to engage in these programs can’t be based on carrots and sticks (I encourage every leader to read more on the subject here). Motivation to participate must be internal. Our role as facilitators is to tap into this internal motivation, demonstrating wellness as way to grow as individuals and an organization.

Next Steps

If your group has no program in place, what are you waiting for! Go out, get healthy, and grow as a team. If you have one, evaluate its efficacy. Test, retest, and stay hungry for improvement.

Chandler Stevens MCT, FMS is passionate about the transformative power of movement: physically, emotionally, and socially. 

He works with private clients and organizations, helping them move better, get stronger, and be better humans.

Find him online at www.chandlerstevens.com

‘MIND’ Diet Protects Against Alzheimer’s

Continuing on the subject of brain health – pretty important as we age…

If you want to protect your mind, be mindful of what you eat. Doctors say that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats that includes a little wine can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers have aptly named their diet the “MIND diet” — it is a hybrid of the Mediterranean dietand the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

In a decade-long study of about 1,000 people, those who followed this diet reduced their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent, compared with people who did not follow it, according to the researchers. Even the people who only casually followed the diet had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s, the researchers added.

The results appear online this month in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects more than 40 million people globally, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. Among developed nations, the prevalence rates  tend to be highest in North America and northern Europe and lowest in Asia and the Mediterranean region.

Doctors believe that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a mix of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Previous studies have found that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

A study published in the journal Neurology in 2011 found that people with diabetes were at least twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people who don’t have diabetes. In fact, researchers at Brown University have called Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 diabetes,” given its connection to high blood-sugar levels and insulin resistance, hallmarks of Type 2 diabetes.

Alzheimer’s disease rates are relatively low in Japan and in Italy, leading researchers to further ponder the connection between diet and loss of cognitive function among the elderly. In 2013, researchers in China found that the Japanese and Mediterranean diets may offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease. These diets share an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, beans and fish, and include little red meat.

The latest study, conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, looked at the effects of a hybrid Mediterranean and DASH diet, the latter developed specifically to improve heart health. The study enlisted 923 participants, ages 58 to 98 years, and followed them for upward of 10 years.

The MIND diet emphasizes 15 dietary components, including 10 foods to eat daily — green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine — and five foods to avoid: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.

Lead author Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush, said her group focused on this mix of two well-known healthy diets because it would be easy for Americans to follow.

The Mediterranean diet, for example, calls for much more fish consumption. “We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study,” Morris said. “The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.”

Even those participants who didn’t follow the diet perfectly had a 35 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The longer and more consistently a person follows the MIND diet, the less risk that person will have of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Morris added. “People who eat this diet consistently over the years get the best protection,” she said. “You’ll be healthier if you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time.”

Read full article… 

Specific Vegetables Can Reduce Brain Age By 11 Years

Just two daily servings containing vital nutrients is enough to reduce brain age by 11 years.

Eating green leafy vegetables and other brightly coloured fruits and vegetables could reduce brain age by as much as eleven years, a new study finds.

Vitamin K in foods like mustard greens, spinach, kale and collards have been linked to slower cognitive decline for the first time.

Professor Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist who led the research, said:

“Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older. Since declining cognitive ability is central to Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, increasing consumption of green leafy vegetables could offer a very simple, affordable and non-invasive way of potentially protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

The study followed 954 older adults with an average age of 81 over around five years.

They found that people who ate just two servings per day of leafy vegetables had better cognitive powers than those who ate none.

The difference was equivalent to having a brain fully 11 years younger.

The nutrients most likely responsible for the boost, the researchers found, were vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein.

Professor Morris said:

“Our study identified some very novel associations. No other studies have looked at vitamin K in relation to change in cognitive abilities over time, and only a limited number of studies have found some association with lutein.”

Reduce brain age

Other good sources of vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein which may reduce brain age include brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.

Professor Morris concluded:

“With baby boomers approaching old age, there is huge public demand for lifestyle behaviors that can ward off loss of memory and other cognitive abilities with age.

Our study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning.”

The research was presented at the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2015 in Boston.


For 22 years our family has been loading up on fruits and vegetables (with the vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein identified in this article) through daily use of Juice Plus+. That’s one more reason we sleep well at night, and – as a first year baby boomer, born in 1946 – I wake up and go to sleep with a young brain!

Interestingly, levels of folate, beta-caroten and lutein have been shown to increase significantly in numerous clinical studies of Juice Plus+ over the past 20 years.