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TAKE A MENTAL HEALTH DAY ..... EVERY DAY
Emotional and mental health are just as important to overall health as physical health. And just as with physical health, you need to devote time and attention to your emotional and mental health every day.
What does that look like?
- Connect with others. Research suggests people who feel connected with others are happier and healthier - and may even live longer. Also those who routinely help others typically experience less depression, are calmer, and suffer fewer pains.
- Be positive. People who focus on the positive aspects in their lives tend to be less troubled by painful memories.
- Get physically active. Exercise can relieve tense muscles, improve mood and sleep, and increase energy and strength.
- Get enough rest. People who don't get enough sleep may face health risks, including weight gain, decreased memory, difficulty driving, and heart problems.
- Eat well. Eating healthful foods at regular meals can increase energy, lower the risk of developing some diseases and impact mood.
- Care for your spirit. People with strong spiritual lives may be healthier and live longer. Spirituality may reduce stress, which can contribute to disease.
Eating Fish Can Protect Against Alzheimer's
Eating fish has long been linked with heart health. Now research adds to growing evidence that fish is good for the brain as well.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who ate baked or broiled fish just once a week had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. They were also at lower risk of mild cognitive impairment, a type of memory loss that sometimes leads to Alzheimer's.
The fish eaters had more brain gray matter as measured by M.R.I., or magnetic resonance imaging, brain scans, than those who didn't regularly eat fish. Greater brain volume may indicate intact memory and thinking functions, whereas brain shrinkage has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Fried fish, unlike the baked or broiled kind, did not provide brain-protective benefits. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of Radiological Society of North America.
Source: Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation
Six Strategies to Improve Brain Performance
- Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to help increase blood flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
- Consider taking ginkgo biloba, which may help improve verbal recall.
- Take your cardiovascular medications (if prescribed by your Physician), which are associated with lower risk for cognitive decline.
- Increase your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, such as colorful berries, broccoli, tea, spinach, carrots, and whole grains to help fight damaging free radicals that are toxic to brain cells.
- Consume healthy levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to optimal brain health and functioning and are found in flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines.
- Stimulate your brain with new experiences, social interactions and other activities that challenge your gray cells.
Source: Massachusetts General Hospital - Mind, Mood and Memory
Dietary Sodium (Salt)
U.S. diet still has too much salt, Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns...
Table salt is made up of the elements sodium and chlorine - the technical name for salt is sodium chloride. Your body needs some sodium to work properly. It helps with the function of nerves and muscles. It also helps to keep the right balance of fluids in your body. Your kidneys control how much sodium is in your body. If you have too much and your kidneys can't get rid of it, sodium builds up in your blood. This can lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and stroke.
Most people in the U.S. get more sodium in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in salt and sodium. Doctors recommend you eat less than 2.4 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day. Reading food labels can help you see how much sodium is in prepared foods.
Source: NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. People who get less than that have an increased risk for a variety of health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, accidents, low energy level, decreased resistance to disease, mood problems, and increased mortality rate.
Sleep is important for both mental and physical health, and for being productive at work or school. While sleeping, the body's reserves are restored, and the immune system is strengthened. The mind is refreshed and ready for work again. If you are short on sleep, all these systems suffer and function is impaired.
Recent surveys show that over a third (37.1%) of U.S. adults get less than 7 hours of sleep daily. This is up by 6% from surveys just 7 years ago. The most common reported symptoms of those who got less than 7 hours of sleep daily was difficulty concentrating and memory problems. Both of these are vital for being a productive worker and a safe driver. Five percent of those surveyed reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the past 30 days. Drowsy sleeping results in over 40,000 accidents and 1,550 fatalities every year.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following to improve your sleep:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. Aim for 7-9 hours daily.
- Avoid exercise within two hours of bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening.
- Avoid going to bed on a full stomach.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, well-ventilated room with a cool, comfortable temperature.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011
Fiber Linked to Longevity
Eat more fiber and live longer. That's what a very large study shows involving more than 500,000 people. Compared to those who ate very little fiber (10-12 grams per day), those who ate a lot of fiber (26-30 grams per day) had a 22% lower risk of dying from any cause during the nine-year study.
Researchers also adjusted for race, education, weight, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, and red meat intake to isolate the benefits of fiber. In addition, participants showed lower rates of cancer, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular disease.
The message is clear. Fiber is protective to your health. If you want to prevent disease and live longer, be sure your meals are high in dietary fiber.
Where is fiber found? Only in plant-based foods. The best sources of fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereals, legumes (peas, beans, lentils, garbanzos, and peanuts), tree nuts, and seeds. Of all the plant-based foods, legumes and whole grains are the richest in fiber.
In this particular study, grain-fiber was found to be the most protective. Examples of whole grains include whole-grain bread (look for 100% whole grain on the label), oatmeal, brown rice, rye crackers (look for 100% whole grain), a fresh ear of corn, and whole-grain breakfast cereals such as Shredded Wheat(R), Bran Flakes(R) and Fiber One(R). Look on the breakfast cereals labels to choose those with five or more grams of fiber per serving. For good health, aim for at least 26 grams of fiber per day for women, and 38 grams per day for men. Using soy milk in place of cow's milk can also boost your fiber intake by about 2 grams per glass.
Eating more unrefined, fiber-rich foods is also a good way to cut back on calories. That's because most of these foods are naturally lower in calories, and they tend to fill you up before you overeat.
Source: Archives of Internal Medicine
Health Tips: "An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure"
- There are numerous reasons to eat blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Blueberries have blood sugar-lowering, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, anti-cancer and other health benefits. Blueberries are a top source of polyphenols (notably anthocyanins, which give them their blue color) and other antioxidants.
- To reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, avoid sugary soda. For each can of soda consumed daily there was a 16 percent increase in diabetes risk.
- Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors under control may slow memory loss.
- To reduce the risk of fractures, eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). Such foods are rich in many vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that help keep bones strong.
- If you’ve lost weight, exercise is crucial in helping to keep the pounds off. And if you do regain weight, exercise can help you maintain many of the health gains derived from weight loss.
- Even one occasional cigarette or a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack, stroke, or sudden death, according to a major new report from the Surgeon General called “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease.” Chemicals in tobacco smoke have many immediate effects on the body that increase cardiovascular risk.
- Exercise helps the brain. Research has shown that aerobic exercise, the kind that enhances cardiovascular fitness, can help older people stay sharp and improve problem-solving skills and other mental abilities.
- Strength training helps build muscle mass, but it can also benefit your brain, even when done just once a week, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
- Being more active may help protect against “silent strokes” – small brain lesions associated with memory problems and increased risk of a major stroke.
Eating Healthfully During Stressful Times
Find new outlets for stress; Emotional or stress eating soon becomes a habit that changes how you eat regularly
"The food drives your behavior and your behavior drives your food choice," says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, a specialist in nutrition and human performance and author of The Good Mood Diet. "You are stuck until you put your foot down."
You can break the stress eating cycle and enjoy a healthful diet, even if difficult times continue, with these effective ideas:
- Build a good nutritional foundation. Prepare your brain and body in advance and you’ll be better able to handle stress when it happens. To keep your emotions in balance, eat regularly during the day, every four or five hours.
- Enjoy complex carbohydrates. Have oatmeal, raisin bran and other whole-grain cereals and breads, as well as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nonfat milk. These complex carbohydrates help your brain make the feel-good chemical serotonin, which counteracts stress, says Thayer. Moderate amounts of healthy fats from olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, nut butters and olive oil also help, adds Kleiner.
- Recognize what’s happening. When stressful events or thoughts trigger the urge to eat, stop and evaluate first. Are you hungry or not? Rate your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10. Ask yourself when was the last time you ate, to see if your body needs food right now. "Often, negative emotions trigger what feels like hunger but is really just a habitual response to eat to get rid of negative feelings," says Elissa S. Epel, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and a researcher on stress and eating.
- Try a little mindfulness. Derail your automatic trip to the cookie jar by becoming more aware of your eating patterns. Mindful eating encourages you to use your senses to choose foods that please you and are nourishing to your body. Pay attention to the physical cues of fullness or hunger that your body sends. Use these to make decisions about when to begin eating and when to stop.
- Have a Plan B ... and C. The stress-eating urge usually hits suddenly, so keep healthy snacks with you wherever you go. Try small packets of nuts or trail mix (without added sweets or salt), apples, or bananas. Those better options will help you bypass high-calorie comfort. When possible, Kleiner advises eating protein and complex carbohydrates together, such as cheese with a slice of whole-grain bread. Another great option: a small piece of dark chocolate (72% cocoa is good). "You don’t need to eat a ton of it," Kleiner says.
- Fool yourself. In difficult moments, do you crave crunchy snacks like chips or pretzels? Keep cut-up carrots and celery ready in the refrigerator. Soy chips are also a healthier choice than most fried or baked crunchy snacks.
- Have a sweet tooth? Fruit provides natural sweetness that can reduce your urge for high sugar items.
- Out of sight really does help. If you must keep stress eating temptations like cookies or chips at home for others, store those foods behind larger packages or stacks of dishes. In the freezer, use bags of frozen vegetables to block your view of the ice cream container. When you’re commuting to work or running errands, avoid driving past the bakery or fast-food restaurants.
- Call on a substitute. To make stress eating less automatic, you need to find better ways to deal with everyday hassles and ongoing tensions. Choose a healthy stress-busting alternative such as going for a walk or run, listening to music, calling a friend for a chat, brushing your cat or dog, or just sitting quietly.
** This health and wellness information is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health matters, which should be obtained directly from a physician. The information is to be used for health awareness.