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What to Look for When Buying Whole Grains

What to Look for When Buying Whole Grains

When you’re at a grocery store, looking at all the food and their labels can be overwhelming. You want to eat better, but how can you keep track of all the different names for nutritious aspects of food. There are a few quick and easy tips when it comes to buying whole grains.

What to Look for When Buying Whole Grains

What to Look for When Buying Whole Grains

 

Experts recommend that adults should eat 48 grams, or three servings, of whole grain a day. Why? Whole grains are high in fiber and other nutrients. Fiber is essential to have regular bowel movements. No one wants to be constipated.

It also helps lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health issues.

How can you add whole grains to your diet? Some common examples include using a slice of 100 percent whole grain bread, a half cup of oatmeal, or a half cup of cooked brown rice with different meals.

Sadly, you can’t find whole grain servings listed on the Nutrition Facts panel on packaged foods. There are ways to identity whole grain foods.

Look for food with a whole grain stamp, which was created by the Oldways Whole Grains Council. It’s a consumer advocacy group. The stamp is yellow and has perforated edges that looks like a stamp you’d use on mail.

It comes in three forms, showing different levels of whole grains.

There’s 100 percent whole grain, which means it is completely whole grain. It should have a minimum of sixteen grams a serving.

50 percent plus whole grain means that of the grain in the product, at least half is whole grain. It has to have at least eight grams a serving.

If a package just states whole grain, then it will have eight grams of whole grains a serving, though it might contain more refined grain than whole.

Fun fact, The Whole Grains Council has used the stamp on over 13,000 products in 61 countries.

Another way to look for whole grain is to see if it’s the first or second ingredient listed. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight.

Whole grains are made of three main components, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The bran and the germ are the most nutritious parts.

What Labels to Ignore When Buying Whole Grains

  • Multigrain- It means a mix of whole grains, refined grains, or some amount of each.
  • Made with whole grain- Not specific enough, it could be made with just a little whole grain and still able to say this.
  • Stone-ground- This doesn’t tell you anything about whether the grains are whole or refined. This label is talking about a type of mill that used to make the flour.
  • Organic-The label applies to farming and production practices and doesn’t tell you if there are whole grains in the product.

Read more here.

Did You Know Your Brain has an Immune System?

Did You Know Your Brain has an Immune System?

Not only does your brain have an immune system, but you can also boost it. Behavioral scientists say that this type of immune system connects to your self-esteem, self-worth, and self-concept. But how do you boost your brain’s immune system?

Did You Know Your Brain has an Immune System?

Did You Know Your Brain has an Immune System?

 

The term “psychological immune system” was created by psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson. It’s the idea that the brain protects the self, or self-image, from whatever threatens it like an immune system would.

So what do you do when your self-image or self-worth is being attacked?

Positive Self Talk

Just like you would point out all the wonderful things about your friends, do the same for yourself. Remind yourself that you are loved and are valuable.

Make sure to keep a line between being positive but not arrogant.

Don’t Use Bad Coping Mechanisms

It’s easy to slip into bad habits when times get tough. Bad coping mechanisms are like binge-watching Netflix to avoid your problems. Maybe drinking three glasses of alcohol instead of the one you planned.

Avoidance is your brain’s immune system’s tactic, even if it’s not good in the long run. It’s always good to go with the long term solution instead of the immediate one.

Exercise

Exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety, and many people experience a better mood when they finish—even taking a short walk counts.

Read more here.

Older Americans are Taking Too Many Antibiotics

Usually antibiotics are a good thing, but right now older Americans are being prescribed too many antibiotics. People over 65 have the highest rate of outpatient prescribing out of any other age group. This is a huge problem.

Usually, antibiotics are a good thing, but right now, older Americans are being prescribed too many of them. People over 65 have the highest rate of outpatient prescribing out of any other age group. This is a huge problem.

Older Americans are Taking Too Many Antibiotics

Older Americans are Taking Too Many Antibiotics

 

Why are people taking so many antibiotics a problem? Overusing them can cause a severe public health threat because they create drug resistance. Infectious bacteria adapt to medications and make drugs lose their power. This means that people have to use harder, less potent, and more expensive options.

Two million Americans get antibiotic-resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die from them.

They can also interact poorly with other medications, specifically ones that older people take. Examples include statins, blood thinners, kidney, and heart medications.

A specific type of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones has serious side effects. Yet, it’s one of the most common types that is prescribed. It can increase the risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture, nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy and can lead to low blood sugar.

In 2016, it was suggested that fluoroquinolones’ side effects outweigh it’s use when it comes to different common infections. It’s been connected to the difficult to cure C. difficile along with an earlier antibiotic, Clindamycin. This painful infection typically happens in older people.

Upper respiratory infections like colds, sinus infections, and bronchitis are often prescribed antibiotics when it’s not needed because they’re viral, not bacterial. Yet, doctors keep overprescribing antibiotics to older people.

Read more here.

Is Covid Toe a New Sign of the Coronavirus?

Is Covid Toe a New Sign of the Coronavirus?

New signs of the Coronavirus seem to pop up all the time. A new symptom is called Covid Toe. It’s when toes have chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions. This type of problem usually happens in the winter because it’s an inflammation in the small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions.

Is Covid Toe a New Sign of the Coronavirus?

Is Covid Toe a New Sign of the Coronavirus?

 

These chilblain-like lesions appear most often on toes and usually a few toes on either one or both feet. They can be extremely painful and cause a burning or itching sensation. The toes can look swollen and red, and the lesions can become purple over time.

Federal health officials haven’t included toe lesions in the list of symptoms, though dermatologists are pushing for a change.

Different medical papers from Spain, Belgium, and Italy described a surge in painful lesions on patients’ toes, Achilles’ heels, and the soles of their feet. It’s not sure whether these patients were infected due to limited testing options, but they were otherwise healthy.

Most cases involved children, teens, and young adults. It’s thought that this could reflect a healthy immune response to the virus.

Scientists are looking more into this issue, but so far, it’s thought that these lesions show a mild or even asymptomatic infection. They could also appear several weeks after the acute phase of an infection is over.

Another idea is that these swollen toes are an epiphenomenon, which is a symptom of a disease without being causally related. Like these swollen toes could be because people are staying inside and walking around barefoot more than usual.

If you develop swollen toes and red and purple lesions, you should consult your primary care doctor or a dermatologist to rule out other causes. Don’t run to the emergency room and possibly expose yourself or others to the Coronavirus.

Read more here.

Seniors Could Show Unusual Covid-19 Symptoms

Seniors Could Show Unusual Covid-19 Symptoms

Older adults who have Covid-19 can have “atypical” symptoms—making it harder to get proper treatment. The usual symptoms are fever, a persistent cough, and shortness of breath. Unusual Covid-19 symptoms exhibited in seniors include are sleeping more than usual, not eating, or overall seeming “off.” It can get to the point where they stop speaking or even collapse.

Seniors Could Show Unusual Covid-19 Symptoms

Seniors Could Show Unusual Covid-19 Symptoms

 

The fact that seniors show unusual Covid-19 symptoms is dangerous because they are the most vulnerable to this virus.

The reason older adults have different symptoms could have to do with how older bodies respond to illness. As you get older, your immune response could be weaker and could struggle to regulate temperature. Other chronic illnesses can cover or change signs of infection.

For example, an 80-year-old man who had heart disease, diabetes, and moderate cognitive impairment, suddenly stopped walking and became incontinent and very sleepy. He didn’t have a fever or cough. He only was sneezing on and off. When taken to a hospital for the third time, it was discovered that he had Covid-19.

Health experts are working all around the world to figure out more atypical symptoms and how best to treat older adults during this time.

Read more here.

Different Ways to Stimulate a Senior’s Appetite

Different Ways to Stimulate a Senior's Appetite

There are certain conditions like cancer, psychological health problems, and aging that can cause a person not to want to eat. If a person doesn’t eat, they will lose too much weight and get sick. There are a few ways you can stimulate a senior’s appetite. That way, they want to eat instead of being forced.

Different Ways to Stimulate a Senior's Appetite

Different Ways to Stimulate a Senior’s Appetite

 

It should go without saying, but before you try any of these methods, talk to your doctor about what would work best for you or your senior.

Medications

The FDA has approved these three medications for appetite stimulants: Megestrol Acetate, Oxandrolone, and Dronabinol.

Megestrol is a progesterone based medicine that doctors prescribe for people with anorexia, cancer, HIV, or AIDS. It’s available in both a liquid and pill form. Side effects can include upset stomach, mood changes, sleep problems, onset or worsening of diabetes, and blood clots.

Oxandrolone is an oral steroid that helps people gain weight after surgery, trauma, or chronic infection. Side effects include acne, deepening voice, excessive hair growth, changes in the menstrual cycle, mood changes, and upset stomach.

Doctors prescribe Dronabinol to help treat AIDS-related anorexia, boost appetite in people with cancer, and reduce nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. It’s an oral capsule. Side effects include confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, hallucinations, and low mood.

Supplements

There are specific kinds of vitamins and minerals that can increase appetite, but only if a person has deficiencies in these nutrients.

A lack of Zinc can cause a loss of appetite, poor immune function, change in taste perception, slow healing, and even hair loss. Research shows that if a person is lacking Zinc and takes supplements, they will get hungrier.

Vitamin B-1 is also known as thiamine and is key for growth and development. If a person lacks this vitamin, they can get appetite loss, weight loss, confusion, and other cognitive symptoms.

Omega-3 are fatty acids that appear naturally in the human diet. Adding more marine orientated omega-3 fatty acids to your diet will stimulate your appetite.

Exercise

Exercise increases the energy a person burns, which increases the body’s need for food. Therefore, it increases hunger.

Other Tips

Try eating three to six small meals instead of planning for three big meals. Don’t eat foods with high fiber or low-calorie foods. It will fill you up without giving substance. You can also try drinking nutrients instead of eating them, making it easier to consume. Finally, you can make meals more enjoyable with music or friends or anything else that brings you joy.

Read more here.

How to Build Healthy Habits

How to Build Healthy Habits

It seems so easy to develop bad habits, so why is it so hard to keep healthy ones? Behavioral scientists say that we try to make healthy habits the wrong way. We make our goals too big without knowing the steps to get there. Here’s how to build healthy habits.

How to Build Healthy Habits

How to Build Healthy Habits

 

These tips are backed by research, so you know they are good.

Stack Your Habits

Try adding a new habit to one you already have. For example, morning habits tend to be our strongest. Along with your morning cup of coffee, try to do a minute of mediation while it cools. You could practice balancing while brushing your teeth by standing on one foot.

Do some stretches or exercises while watching TV. You can do it during commercials.

Start Small and Easy

People’s biggest mistake is to start too high and discourage themself. Big goals need a high level of motivation that can be hard to keep up.

Start with small habits that will be easy to keep up with. Like, eating an apple instead of a bowl of chips or going for a walk to start a new exercise regimen.

Do exercises that don’t require leaving the house like sit-ups or jumping jacks. If you want to do something a little more extreme, try sleeping in your exercise clothes, that way you can just roll out of bed and get going.

Do It Every Day

British researchers looked at how people form habits in the real world. They asked people to choose a simple habit they wanted to build. The researchers found that the amount of time it took for the task to become automatic, aka a habit, was anywhere between 18 to 254 days. The average was 66 days.

Needless to say, habits take a long time to make. That’s why it’s crucial to start small. You’re more likely to keep doing little things than work out for an hour every day.

Reward Yourself

Every time you keep a good habit is a cause of celebration. While some of the big goals make take a while to get to, you should reward every small benchmark you reach. Listen to audiobooks while running or watch your favorite show. Eat a special meal when you reach for a certain small goal.

Read more here.

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

Studies show that laughter can actually improve your health and push off disease. It can even help those who are ill cope better with their illness. So, you need to laugh more.

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

You Need to Laugh More, for Your Health

 

“A friendly sense of humor will bless you with better social relations as well as coping skills, and the reduced risk of dying early.” –Sven Svebak, professor emeritus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Svebak has been studying the impact that laughter has on health for more than 50 years.

There’s the apparent psychological effects of laughter, but there’s a social aspect as well. Having a sense of humor can create a stronger community around you. It can stimulate memories in those with dementia.

More physically, laughter wakes up your organs by increasing the oxygen intake to the heart, lungs, muscles, and makes your brain release more endorphins.

It eases tension, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure. It’s been shown that it can strengthen the immune system.

A 15-year Norwegian study found that humor can delay or prevent life-threatening diseases. They looked at over 53,000 people and measured their sense of humor with a health survey. It included asking them how to guess their ability to find something funny.

Women with high cognitive scores had a reduced risk of premature death from cardiovascular and infectious diseases. Men had a reduced risk of early death from infections.

The study didn’t find any effects on cancer and other causes of death. The benefits also slowly faded and left after 85.

Read more here.

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

We’ve talked about the Mediterranean diet before and how it’s a healthy way to eat. Well, this diet is back in the news because a new study has shown another reason the Mediterranean diet is good for you.

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

Another Reason the Mediterranean Diet is Good For You

 

The study revealed that eating this diet for just one year changed the microbiome of older adults. Not only did it change these microbiomes, but changed them in ways that improved brain function and helped them live longer.

The diet stopped or slowed down the inflammatory chemicals that lead to loss of cognitive function. It also prevents the development of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and atherosclerosis.

Why are Microbiomes a Big Deal?

 

How much food do you think passes through a human body’s lifetime?

60 tons.

That’s a lot of food, and that food exposes us to different bacteria. Bacteria, both good and bad, plays a huge role in our health. It decides how well we absorb nutrients, the functionality of our immune response, and our energy and metabolism levels.

As we age, the amount of microbes in our stomach reduces. A poor diet is normal among older adults in long-term residential care, and those who live alone. There are many reasons why this happens. Things like lack of appetite, dental issues, transportation issues are just a few.

When the diversity of bacteria lessens, “inflamm-aging” happens. It’s when age-related inflammatory processes start that can lead to a variety of diseases.

Closer Look at the Study

 

Researchers looked at the stomach microbiomes of 612 older people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

They put 323 on a special diet based on Mediterranean principles, which means lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fish, and little red meat, sugar, and saturated fats.

The remaining participants were asked to eat how they usually do.

After a year, those who followed the Mediterranean diet saw positive changes to the microbiome in their digestive systems. The loss of bacterial diversity slowed, and the production of potentially harmful inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and interleukin-17 were reduced.

There was growth of beneficial bacteria linked to improved memory and brain function. The diet also appeared to boost “keystone” species, which is critical for a stable “gut ecosystem.” It slowed signs of frailty like walking speed and handgrip strength.

Nationality didn’t matter. The findings were similar, no matter where people lived, their age, or weight.

You can learn more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet from our first article on it.

Read more about the new study here.

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

As far as the information shows at the time of writing this, dementia doesn’t increase your chances of developing Covid-19. Though those with dementia are still vulnerable to the virus if they have chronic conditions. They can forget to do crucial things like washing their hands to stay clean.

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

Staying Safe During Coronavirus While Having Dementia

 

If you have a loved one with dementia, make sure to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

For example, more confusion than usual is the first symptom of any illness. Unless your loved one is having a hard time breathing or high fever, call your health provider first instead of going to an emergency room. Health providers are trying to treat people without them coming in.

Write out some reminders for your loved one, so they can remember to practice proper hygiene. Put a note in the bathroom reminding them to wash their hands for twenty seconds. If your loved one isn’t able to access a sink, using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is a good alternative.

See if your pharmacist is willing to fill prescriptions for a longer amount of time to minimizes trips to the pharmacy.

Also, make sure to come up with backup plans in case adult daycare or other activities are canceled due to the virus. Remember a backup plan in case the primary caregiver should get sick.

If your loved one is in assisted living, make sure that they are following proper protocols. Check to make sure that they have your contact info and someone else as a backup in case you don’t answer.

As hard as it may be, don’t visit your loved one if you have any signs of illness. There may be other ways of contacting them.

Read more here.