Stress is often blamed for wrinkles, dark shadows, and tired-looking skin. But a new study suggests that psychological stress make actually impair our skin’s ability to resist infectious germs. The skin is the first line of defense for our bodies against bacteria and viruses. It’s a naturally antimicrobial surface. When researchers reporting in the Journal of Clinical Investigation exposed mice to severe psychological stress and subsequent streptococcus, the mice developed worse infections and had higher stress hormone measures than mice who were not exposed to any stress. Though it’s only a murine study, it’s worth noting!
Later today, we’ll bring you some helpful stress-reducing tips just in time for the weekend.
Inflammation is a natural bodily response to stress, infection, or injury. However, prolonged inflammation caused by a self-destructive lifestyle is a harmful response that affects your musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal function, cardiovascular system, vision, and hormone balance. It’s crucial to control inflammation (there are medications, of course) but it’s even smarter to prevent inflammation. You can do this through daily exercise, stress management, and avoidance of smoking and drinking. But there are many foods that help control inflammation, too. (Chicken nuggets – or rings – do not.) These foods are known as vegetables. Yes – vegetables can help your inflammation just like drugs can. But don’t tell anyone.
1. Eliminate Self Destructive Behaviors
This is the first step in preventing disease and meeting your later years with vitality and good health and it almost goes without saying – almost. The health toll of destructive behaviors such as smoking and excess drinking do not necessarily manifest for many years, thus discouraging motivation to stop. It’s natural to forgo making changes when the results are seemingly intangible or minimal at best. Smokers, of course, often report almost immediate improvements in breathing, sleep, and general health, but even so, indulgent habits are difficult to break. Do it now anyway. Whether it’s nicotine or sugar or drugs, don’t let your “vice” become your master. In time it will not only rule your life; it will destroy your body.
Here they are: perhaps the most nutritionally potent, anti-aging, bang-for-your-buck super foods nature has to offer, as recommended by Mark. If you can shoot for getting these power foods into your diet on a weekly basis, you’ll be doing very well indeed. Bookmark the list or print it out and keep it on the fridge. There are dozens more powerful foods, of course, so be sure to add your favorite recommendations in the comments at the bottom of the post!
Few things are more important to your longevity than bone health. Your bones are living tissues that require adequate nutrition and exercise just as your muscular system does. Compelling research indicates that your bones appear to play a role in metabolism, hormone production, and immunity. In fact, a recent study posits that the skeletal system appears to be a part of the endocrine system (with implications for type 2 diabetes). And significantly, bone health is critical to manage as we age. Despite our ability to “get milk” (and cheese, and yogurt, and cream), Americans suffer from high rates of osteoporosis. It seems unbelievable, but a fall or a fracture can have fatal implications – in fact, fractures are the #1 cause of death in people over 65.
We face eight key health challenges as we age. The steps you take to prevent and mitigate these challenges can make the difference between just hobbling through your golden years and actually thriving. There’s just no reason not to enjoy energy and vitality well into your seventies, eighties and beyond. Everyone’s into hacks: life hacks, brain hacks, productivity hacks, tech hacks, budget hacks, house hacks. I’m into aging hacks. Let us hack. Here are the top health issues we all must face when we descend to the other side of the hill, and the smart steps you can take – now – to stop them. Although I think it’s worth stating that the hill metaphor of life should be chucked entirely. “Over the hill” doesn’t make sense in this day and age with all the amazing scientific and nutritional advances of which we can take endless advantage. So I prefer to think of life as a gently sloping valley that gets a bit steeper the closer you get to the other side. You just need a few more tools to ace the slope. 1. Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome This is the biggest cause of preventable death, because it’s linked to virtually all the other major causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease). 75% of adults over 60 are overweight or obese. Obesity and poor health go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to live a long, healthy life if you are seriously overweight. No wonder we’ve got such a massive health care tab and drastically reduced quality of life among seniors. Though I ought to quibble with the BMI, for the purposes of this post I won’t. The general guideline is to make sure your waist is less than 40″ if you’re a man and 35″ if you’re a woman. I don’t recommend focusing on LDL cholesterol to the detriment of other crucial factors like raising your good (HDL) cholesterol and keeping your triglycerides and inflammation under absolute control. The four simple steps required: – Eat smart protein that contains good fat: grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, fermented tofu (and take a fish oil supplement, too). – Cook with olive oil or walnut oil. – Absolutely avoid all refined foods that contain processed grains, sugars, corn syrup, starch, flour, etc. – Move a little. A daily walk is sufficient if you do your best to make it brisk. 2. Arthritis Half of us will get it. I even have osteoarthritis from my time as a pro runner. We’re also prone to joint troubles thanks to our primal past – er, the fact that we walk upright hasn’t quite registered with our DNA. Hence, we experience knee and back issues like they’re going out of style (only as of yet, they are not). Of course, obesity is a big culprit. Losing just ten pounds can cut your risk in half. I manage arthritis successfully by doing the following: – Taking at least a gram of fish oil daily. – Reducing … Continue reading “8 Essential Aging Hacks”
Why do women outlive men? There are plenty of theories about this. The pat answer from the Angry Guys Crowd is often, “Well, duh, we work harder and are more stressed out.” Aw, grow up. I’m certainly not the most politically correct of men, and I think the wave of feminism in the early 90s was pretty tough for a lot of guys to swallow (forever giving that Limbaugh something to rant about). But news flash, guys. Nearly as many women work full-time as men, more women now go to college than men, and if raising kids while simultaneously working a career isn’t stressful, what is? As the parents of both a teen girl and boy, Carrie and I see very stressful challenges beginning to hit both of them. Let’s be honest: girls are still expected to look attractive, but now they need to be increasingly career-minded and financially savvy, too. Boys have a sharp line to walk – these days, men are also judged by their appearance as well as the traditional “manly” achievements like financial success and social leadership. (That said, still, I don’t see any guy having to deal with the question: “But how will I balance work and family?” This still confronts most women.) This isn’t about me piping up on the politics of feminism, but any guy who still thinks men work harder or are more stressed out needs to take a look around. Men and women both have unique stresses and challenges, and the real issue here is health. So if it’s not really the level of stress or the 9-to-5 life, why are guys still croaking 5 to 10 years earlier than women? Is it because men go to the doctor less, are taught as boys to ignore pain, take more risks (cars, sports, booze, fights) and eat more junk? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But that’s not all. Are men still kicking the bucket too early because more money has been diverted in recent years to women’s health? That’s what this article, which inspired this post, questions (it’s a knock-out piece of reporting, so please check it out). But that argument doesn’t pass muster. It might be a factor, but the overwhelming issue here is that men just don’t go to the doctor. For example, every guy knows prostate cancer is a big risk to all men – but we avoid the doctor anyway. I don’t think the fact that more money has finally been spent on women’s breast cancer research is the reason men are dying of prostate cancer or are dying sooner in general. This boys-versus-girls health debate makes for a good news piece on the T.V., but biology is the answer here, not politics. Even accounting for all possible factors, and even when the odds are fairly and squarely stacked, scientists come up with the same darn result every time: the dudes do not fare well. Here’s the reason: nature didn’t design us to live as long as women. … Continue reading “Are Men the Weakest Link?”
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
Radical thoughts to shake you up…or stir you into action. That’s Bee, Worker Bee.
#1: Feeling Restless?
The news out today is that restless leg syndrome increases the risk of heart disease. Ready for this? We say baloney. Restless leg syndrome is a curiously modern phenomenon that seems suspiciously correlated to obesity and lack of exercise. We’ll lay good honey on the bet that it’s not restless leg syndrome increasing your risk for heart disease; rather, it’s an unhealthy lifestyle that’s causing both health problems. Mightn’t physical discomfort, elevated blood pressure and clogged arteries be symptomatic of a common underlying problem? Say…a completely ridiculous lifestyle? Take one part fast-paced lifestyle, one part processed diet, and garnish with inactivity, and it sounds like the makings of a toxic CHD cocktail to us.
#2: Strange but True
Apparently, tai chi helps prevent shingles, a painful skin virus that makes chicken pox feel like a walk in the park. Scientists aren’t sure why tai chi works, but it does. Tai chi also helps stop bone loss, anxiety, depression, and skin problems. A rather motley assortment of health maladies are cleared up by this gentle Eastern exercise system, leaving us to consider but one conclusion: how much of our current health crisis could be resolved if we were simply less stressed?
#3: Seriously, What Is Going On?
Autism is up. Alzheimer’s is up. Suddenly every child has ADHD, and adults everywhere are feeling the weight of anxiety and depression. Unless someone is just making all this up, we’re beginning to wonder what the common thread is here. There is so much disease and illness, and the powers that be act as though this is a normal part of life. But why should poor health be the status quo? Something is wrong here. Might it be processed foods, which are high in fats that cause oxidative damage, sugars that cause type 2 diabetes and all sorts of related issues, and chemicals for which we don’t yet know the long-term safety? Because all we’re sayin’ is, something is strange about all this, and it’s not okay. Case in point: diabetes causes mental decline. The FDA and mainstream medicine insist that you can get all the nutrients you need from today’s food supply, that we’re healthier than we’ve ever been, and modern medicine and surgery are working super great.
Really? Because we’d like to see that evidence. As fellow Apple Crystal asks, when are we going to put two and two together?
Here’s a question for you: what do we really mean when we talk about anti-aging?
Anti-aging supplements, hormones and tools are some of the hottest things going right now. Everywhere you look, people are talking about “brain health”. Sudoku is enjoying a popularity only rivaled by high school prom queens. Botox is big, everyone dyes their hair, and if you’re not taking antioxidants, well, it’s time to get with the program. And let’s not even get started on the youth-worship in prime time TV and magazines. We don’t really have to: anti-aging has taken over health, too.
Which is fine by me. Who wouldn’t want to get more out of life? But here’s the issue: are we talking about living longer, or living better?
At best, if you do everything, and I mean everything, right – don’t smoke or drink, exercise, eat well, sleep, control stress, maintain healthy, loving relationships, enjoy meaningful work, avoid sugar and carcinogens, breathe fresh air, take vacations, stay positive, stretch your mind, save your pennies (getting tired yet?) – there’s still ultimately a limit.
At best, doing everything perfectly, you can expect to make it to 80 or 90 – perhaps 100 if you’re really, really doing something right. (Then again, we all know the stories about the guy who ate bacon and had a flask of whiskey glued to his hip at breakfast yet managed to live to 110.)
So what do we really want? The current model doesn’t look too appealing. It appears to me that we’re all aiming for a place in the longevity race. Getting a few wrinkles? No problem – slice ’em away! Diseased and overweight from years of neglect and poor choices? There’s a pill and a surgery to fix it! So we’ve got a whole barrel of surgeries and drugs to make up for mistakes. Which is fine, but is this really living well?
Personally, I’d rather not see the inside of 100 if it means I’m hobbling along thanks to a slew of surgery and drugs. I think most of us want energy, vitality, and more bang for the buck – yet our diet, our medical system, and our approach to health don’t reflect this at all. Most health treatments seem to be patching the leaks, rather than preventing the leaks to begin with. Yet I think most of us would choose living well over living a long time. So, how do we align our choices with our goals?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click “Ask Anything!” to send me an email, or visit the forum to leave me a message.)
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[tags]longevity, anti-aging, botox, vitality[/tags]
WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES
Yo! All kinds of news you’ll want to check out today, Apples. Here’s the best of it:
Bite My MDA
The FDA says it wants stricter warnings on the dangers of over-the-counter pain pills like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxin sodium. Since thousands of people die every year from painkiller-related problems (even when following dosage directions!), this is a good thing, but we’re still not forgiving the FDA for what we feel is a moronic decision yesterday to allow Celebrex for tiny tots. It’s not at all about being anti-drug – drugs serve a tremendously important role in improving human health and survival. But we think it’s short-sighted to approve the prescription of a very problematic drug to the wee ones.
There’s no clear-cut data on just how many people die from painkillers, according to the FDA. Sure. If you believe that, you’ll also believe the FDA’s claim that they wanted to issue stern warnings back in 2002, but it just takes so long to write warnings. Yes, that’s right – your eyes do not deceive you. It has taken over four years to deal with this because, well, writing a few paragraphs for pill bottle labels just takes a really, really long time. We know there are things like rules, regulations, and procedures. But don’t lives take precedence? Nope – lobbyists do, and that’s why it takes so long. That’s why they get paid the big bucks, Apples.
Feed Those Kids Some Sushi!
While this is a small, simple study, it’s certainly interesting news for your little ones’ health that isn’t the least bit fishy. Read up.
Why Supplements Are Important As We Age
Here’s a good study out of Cornell University that discusses the importance of supplements for older women. Stay healthy, ladies!
Trans Fats Make It to State
First, Chicago and NYC had to start in with the fat bans. We’re still waiting on Los Angeles to join the city competition, but in the meantime, an entire state – Massachusetts – is all set to ban trans fats, too. They always have to be first, don’t they? However, we’re glad to see the trans fat issue finally getting some serious political sizzle (we know, we know…bad pun).
[tags] FDA, Celebrex, painkillers, fish health benefits, aging, trans fat, Massachusetts, hydrogenated fat, restaurant ban [/tags]