Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A toast.... your better health!

I've decided to write a 12-part series to kick start the new year. It's a new year, and another chance to start fresh and make good on the resolutions of yesteryear. I've found some new ideas based on the latest scientific findings, plus some tried-and-true health advice from the experts.

If you watch Oprah, you may have seen Dr. Oz and his series on her show for health improvement. I've found a lot of the good doctors advice to be of great value. I recently told Steve, after a recent visit to the nursing home to visit his elderly father, that since we don't have children, when we're his age, no one is going to visit us! Being a childless couple, i think it's even more important that we try to improve our health, since we won't have anyone close to take care of us. So, I'm even more determined to try to stave off illnesses and disorders like Alzheimer's (which Steve's father has) for instance. Even those who do have children, don't have any guarantees they'll be cared for, for various reasons. Still, no matter if you do or do not have someone to care for you when you're old and grey, it's smart to prepare yourself for anything that might happen health-wise. Of course, life is full of surprises, some quite unpleasant, so one never knows what the future holds for them.

I'll try not to bore you too much with the usual stuff on health, but I've found some really interesting articles that have revealed some very important information for living longer, increasing brain function (yes please!) and maintaining good physical and emotional health.

Today, I'll start with brain function.

  1. Google your way to a younger brain. Did you know that you may be able to Google your way to a younger brain? Well, according to new findings from UCLA, when researchers compared people ages 55 - 76 who surfed the Internet and those who didn't, MRI scans showed more brain activity in those who routinely do Web searches, compared to novice Web surfers. However, even novices boosted their brain activity after spending just an hour a day for five days surfing. Web surfing stimulated the brain, particularly the frontal lobe, which is involved in complex decision-making,explains Dr. Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA and author of iBrain:Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, a book about technology's effects on the brain.
  2. Eat more blueberries. Preliminary findings suggest that blueberries can slow brain aging. "Animals do better on certain tasks if they have been fed blueberries, so there's a possible application for Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative disease associated with ageing," explains Kathy Gottscall-Pass, a nutritional scientist and blueberry researcher at the University of Prince Edward Island. Blueberries have also been shown to prevent LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol) oxidation, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This tiny blue fruit also rank number one in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fruits and vegetables, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study.
  3. Walk to remember. We're all familiar with walking around to help job the memory. Now a six-month Australian study shows that walking a total of two and a half hours a week (about 30 minutes five times a week) can lead to significant improvements in memory. The brain gains lasted 6 to 12 months after the study ended, suggesting long-term benefits.
  4. Learn a new skill. A 10-week study that examined the physical and mental benefits of tango dancing versus walking in seniors ages 68- 91 found that tango dancing reduced the risk of falling by improving balance and helped people to dual-task. Learning new skills is always stimulating for you cognitively and physically.
  5. Drink more tea. Fine-tune your focus by indulging in a potent compound in tea. There is an amino acid called theanine, a natural component of green, black and oolong teas. When people in a study consumed it and then performed a challenging mental task that required looking and listening skills, their brains became quite active! Specifically, the right parietooccipitial cortex lit up. That's a part of the brain's circuit system that's tied to attention span. So if you fell more alert and focused after a tea break and all of a sudden are getting more done, that could be why.
In a few days, I'll continue with more interesting health tips and facts for you. Now I'm off to have a bowl of cereal with blueberries, then walk the dog for a half hour, followed by a cuppa tea, then learn to tango after I Google for abit!


nathalie said...

Very interesting, thanks so much, I will keep checking your blog for all this health info.
Hope you are well,