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Healthy Decisions

Tired All the Time? We Might Have Found the Culprits

2013-09-24 21:01:06 linda-melone

You’re low on magnesium

If you skimp on leafy greens, beans and nuts you may be low in magnesium, a mineral important for a good night’s sleep. “Magnesium is a crucial mineral our bodies need for the function of GABA receptors, which exist throughout all areas of the brain and nervous system,” says Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of 30 books including The Miracle of Magnesium. “This calming neurotransmitter enables the brain to ‘switch off.’ Without it, we remain stressed and tense, our thoughts race and we don’t get a restful night’s sleep.” The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for magnesium for women 19 to 30 years old is 310 milligrams — that’s just 2 cups of leafy greens or (even better) 3 squares of dark chocolate.

You eat too much fat

Eating at the drive-thru on a regular basis does more than wreck your waistline; it can also cause sleepiness, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP. The study links a higher fat consumption with increased daytime sleepiness, regardless of the total amount of sleep you get at night. Participants included both men and women who ranged in age from 18 to 65. Stick with a healthy, low-fat diet if you want to fit into your skinny jeans and stay awake.

You’re out of sync with your internal clock

Traveling across several time zones and working the late shift have one thing in common: They disrupt the body’s natural clock. This can cause you to feel tired even if you get enough sleep, says Allen Towfigh, M.D., board certified sleep medicine doctor and neurologist affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. “Your body releases hormones and chemicals, such as melatonin, at precise times which are set to your geographical location.” The resulting fatigue continues until your internal clock resets to your new time zone or you start going to bed at a normal bedtime.

You use sleeping pills

It may sound counterintuitive, but sleeping pills can wind up making you feel more tired when you wake up, says Towfigh. “Drugs that help us fall asleep may change our natural sleep pattern or ‘sleep architecture.’ Next-day grogginess relates to the dosage and how long the drug stays in our bodies. The higher the dosage, the more likely you are to wake up feeling tired.” Start a new medication on the weekend to assess its effects before using them on a weekday, suggests Towfigh.

You grind your teeth Stressed out?

You may be taking out your frustrations out in your sleep. Called bruxism, teeth grinding uses all the muscles surrounding your jaw and skull, says Tim Chase, D.M.D., a practicing partner at SmilesNY, a cosmetic dentistry practice in New York City. “Imagine how tired your arm would feel if you were doing biceps curls all night while you slept,” says Chase. No wonder you wake up tired. Bruxism can also wear down the enamel of the teeth over time. See your dentist if you suspect bruxism to discuss treatment options. Might be time for a retainer.

You’re breathing funny

Waking up with a dry mouth isn’t a problem on its own, but it may indicate a breathing problem that disrupts your sleep. “Respiratory ailments such as asthma, sleep apnea or a deviated septum may lead to mouth breathing and a dry mouth,” says Towfigh. If you suspect you may be mouth breathing, try using nasal strips or a nostril dilator, which allow more air into the nose, suggests Towfigh. See your doctor if the problem continues or you suspect a respiratory condition.

You have sleep apnea

If your partner says you snore and you wake during the night with shortness of breath, you may have sleep apnea. “Sleep apnea can be one of the most common sleep disorders that affect women during perimenopause,” says Michael Coppola, M.D., chief medical officer of medical affairs at NovaSom.com and past president of the American Sleep Apnea Association. “Studies suggest that lower levels of estrogen are the main cause of many cases of sleep apnea.” Not only does sleep apnea make you drowsy by cutting into your restful sleep, but it also raises the risk of high blood pressure. See a doctor if you suspect a problem.

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More Sex Makes You Happier and Better Paid

2013-08-16 20:55:23 jill-provost

A recent study gives new meaning to the term, “sleep your way to the top,” but thankfully it has nothing to do with boning your boss (unless, of course, that’s the person you prefer to get busy with).

According to a new paper published by the Institute for the Study of Labor, the amount of sex you have each week is a pretty good indicator of how much money you’re raking in from your paycheck. Those who have the most sex make the biggest bank, while those who never do the deed earn the least. I’m assuming we’re not counting prostitutes here?

The study of 7,500 people between the ages of 26 and 50 found that those who get frisky at least four times a week are among the top earners (at least in Greece, where the study was done). Man, I didn’t think anyone over the age of 35 was having sex that often, which I guess reveals to everyone just where I fall in the salary range.

The findings even held up after the researchers took other factors like education and profession into account. Perhaps this means that people who pursue high-paying careers have a more robust libido, or that those who are driven by money are also driven by lust. That would certainly explain why so many high-powered politicians are always caught having an affair. 

Though the study’s author Dr. Nick Drydakis, an economics professor at Anglia Ruskin University in England, told CBS News he wasn’t sure why sex and earnings are linked, he speculated that people who earn the most benjamins have more disposable income to go on more dates. He also postulated that high earners may be more attractive to people and thus see more action than, say, the struggling musician or artist.

Drydakis believes that people who naturally have more sex are happier, healthier and less prone to emotional issues that could keep one from succeeding in the workplace. Those who had the most sex were also more likely to be outgoing and had lower rates of chronic disease like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. The sad sacks who are getting neither rich nor laid may be lonely or depressed, and can’t seem to go after what they want — in the bedroom or their careers. Ouch.

But, Drydakis says, simply sleeping around probably isn’t going to magically increase the amount of dough in your wallet.

Still, would it really hurt to try?

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Build a better breakfast

2013-08-05 18:59:59 consumer-reports

A good breakfast really may be the key to good health. Recent research has linked it to a everything from a reduced risk of heart disease in men, to better school performance in kids. Yet more and more of us regularly skip the morning meal, claiming that hectic schedules leave no time to eat, or that we’re not hungry when we wake up. Here’s our advice on how to work breakfast into your morning routine, and what to eat to make sure you start the day with a belly full of good nutrition.

Pick the right cereal. Cereal and oatmeal are a convenient way to get fiber into your diet. Fiber can help control appetite and weight and might help lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We recently tested fiber cereals and found that Kellogg’s All-Bran Original, Post Grape-Nuts The Original, Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon Size, and Post Shredded Wheat Wheat ’n Bran Spoon Size were rated very tasty and very nutritious. If cereal doesn’t do it for you, whole-grain breads or frozen waffles are an option that can be easily dropped in a toaster. Joe’s Multigrain waffles and Kashi 7 Grain waffles are healthy choices that did well in our test kitchen.

Load up on protein. Adolescent girls who ate high-protein breakfasts remained fuller longer and were less likely to snack on high-fat foods than those who had normal-protein breakfasts, according to research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Try eggs, low-fat cheeses, nut butters, or meats such as sliced turkey and bacon

Read more about our high fiber cereal and Greek yogurt Ratings.

Combine food groups for the healthiest start. Pair your protein and whole grains with fruits or vegetables. To your cereal, add milk and a banana or yogurt and fruit to make a parfait. Toss some berries and ricotta cheese on top of your waffles. Spread peanut butter on whole-grain toast and top with strawberries, bananas, or apples. While fruits are a natural for breakfast, incorporating vegetables may seem a little trickier. But veggies can be easily tossed into an egg scramble or an omelet, or blended sneakily into a smoothie. For instance, try tossing some spinach, along with some nut butter for protein, into your fruit smoothie. And for those who don’t particularly enjoy breakfast foods, veggie wraps, wholegrain breads with veggies and turkey, or leftover vegetable pizza, make nutritious breakfasts, despite their departure from the breakfast norm.

Have on-the-go options. Although making yourself a healthy, balanced breakfast in the morning is the best start to your day, sometimes time is against you. Snack bars are a quick fix when you’re short on time. Make your own the night before if you’re feeling adventurous, or just keep some store-bought bars on hand. In our tests, the Clif Crunch Granola Chocolate Chip bar was a top performer in taste and nutrition. Yogurt is another option that can be tossed into your bag while running out the door. Greek yogurt is high in protein and comes in on top for flavor in our yogurt tests. Fage Total 2%, Chobani Low-Fat, and the more recently tested Dannon Oikos Traditional Raspberry are all worth trying. If you plan on grabbing something hot on the road, look out for a Subway – their Egg White and Cheese on Mornin’ Flatbread was rated very good for taste and nutrition in our tests of fast-food egg sandwiches.

For more easy and healthy suggestions, check out the Power up with Breakfast tip sheet (and other great tip sheets) from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

—Ciara Rafferty

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Diet and Diabetes

2013-07-24 13:28:02 medlineplus-health-news

Can adding certain foods to their diet help kids with Type 1 diabetes keep producing their own insulin longer? The answer, according to new research, is yes!

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, included more than 1300 youth diagnosed with diabetes who are under the age of 20. The researchers tracked how much insulin the kids were producing up to two years after their diagnosis and compared it to their nutritional intake.

They found that adding foods rich in specific amino and fatty acids actually helped them produce some of their own insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps your body use or store blood glucose.

The winners: Leucine, an amino acid found in dairy, meats, soy, eggs, nuts and whole wheat products helped. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, were also beneficial.

The researchers say while the participants still required supplemental insulin, continuing to make some of their own insulin, may help reduce their risk of diabetic complications down the road.

I’m Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news the doctors are reading; health news for healthier living.

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Physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking linked to disability in older population

2013-07-23 23:00:00 seniors-aging-news-from-medical-news-today

Main Category: Seniors / Aging

Also Included In: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness;  Nutrition / Diet;  Smoking / Quit Smoking

Article Date: 23 Jul 2013 – 16:00 PDT

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An unhealthy lifestyle is associated with a greater likelihood of developing disability over the age of 65, with the risk increasing progressively with the number of unhealthy behaviours, suggests a paper published on bmj.com today.

Disability is commonly defined as “difficulty or dependency in carrying out activities essential to independent living”. With the number of disabled people expected to increase in coming years, researchers feel there is a need to define preventive strategies and slow this progression.

Previous research has shown that unhealthy behaviours (such as physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking) have an adverse effect on health. For instance, the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, poor cognitive function, stroke, sudden cardiac death and mortality increases with the number of unhealthy behaviours.

Researchers from France and the UK therefore carried out a study to investigate the relationship between unhealthy behaviours and the risk of disability over a 12 year period.

They used data from the Three-City (3C) Dijon cohort study. Between 1999 and 2001, the study included community-dwelling older people (more than 65 years old) from the city of Dijon (France); participants were interviewed at that time about their lifestyle, including information on smoking, diet, physical activity, and alcohol drinking. They were then followed for the incidence of disability over 12 years.

Three levels of disability were assessed: mobility, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and basic activities of daily living (ADL). Mobility assessed the ability to do heavy work around the house, walk half a mile, and climb stairs. IADLs included the ability to use a telephone, manage medications and money, use public or private transport, and do shopping, and, additionally for women, to prepare meals and do housework and laundry. ADLs included bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring from bed to chair and eating. Participants were considered disabled if they could not perform at least one activity without any given level of help.

Low or intermediate physical activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables less than once a day, smoking (current or having quit smoking less than 15 years ago), and no (abstention or former) or heavy consumption of alcohol were all considered as unhealthy behaviours. Characteristics were also identified that may influence the relation between unhealthy behaviours and disability such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, high BMI and cancer.

The final study included 3,982 participants of which 2,410 were women (60.5%).

During the follow-up, 1,236 out of 3,982 (31%) participants developed disability. The incidence of disability increased with age, from 3.4/1000 person-years in those aged 65-70 years to 288/1000 person-years in those over 90 years of age. 922 participants died, of whom 702 were not disabled.

Participants who developed disability were older, more likely to be women, and less educated than participants without disability, and they had a worse health profile.

Participants reporting low or intermediate physical activity had a 72% increased risk of disability, independently of the presence of other unhealthy behaviours; similarly, the increased risk was 24% for people who consumed fruits and vegetables less than once a day and 26% for current or short-term ex-smokers. Participants with all three unhealthy behaviours were twice as likely to develop disability. There was no association between alcohol drinking and disability. About 30% of the association between unhealthy behaviours and disability was explained by higher body mass index, lower cognitive function, depressive symptoms, traumatisms, chronic conditions, and cardiovascular disease.

Unhealthy behaviours also played a role in people who developed disability more than four years after the beginning of the study. Thus, the relation between unhealthy behaviours and disability is not due to persons who became disabled shortly after the beginning of the study and changed their lifestyle as a consequence.

In conclusion, “an unhealthy lifestyle, characterised by physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and smoking, is associated with a greater hazard of disability” which increased with the number of unhealthy behaviours. Researchers say, however, that these are “potentially modifiable” and that these findings are in favour of “the potential benefit of multibehaviour interventions compared to single-behaviour interventions”.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.

Visit our seniors / aging section for the latest news on this subject.
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