A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

12 Health Risks of Aging That Baby Boomers Can Avoid

(U.S. News & World Report) Even if you've been slipping up until now, making healthful changes today can turn back the clock—or at least slow it down. [Research by Dean Ornish, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco] has found that a low-fat diet, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques all work in synergy to increase levels of telomerase, an enzyme thought to slow cellular aging and prevent healthy cells from turning cancerous.

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The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

(Book by David Kessler) Conditioned hypereating is a biological challenge, not a character flaw, says Kessler, former FDA commissioner under presidents Bush and Clinton). Here Kessler (A Question of Intent) describes how, since the 1980s, the food industry, in collusion with the advertising industry, and lifestyle changes have short-circuited the body's self-regulating mechanisms, leaving many at the mercy of reward-driven eating. Through the evidence of research, personal stories (including candid accounts of his own struggles) and examinations of specific foods produced by giant food corporations and restaurant chains, Kessler explains how the desire to eat—as distinct from eating itself—is stimulated in the brain by an almost infinite variety of diabolical combinations of salt, fat and sugar. Although not everyone succumbs, more people of all ages are being set up for a lifetime of food obsession due to the ever-present availability of foods laden with salt, fat and sugar.

A gentle though urgent plea for reform, Kessler's book provides a simple food rehab program to fight back against the industry's relentless quest for profits while an entire country of people gain weight and get sick. According to Kessler, persistence is all that is needed to make the perceptual shifts and find new sources of rewards to regain control.

Salon has an interview with the author.

Buy the book at Amazon.

Don't Ditch Your Diet this Weekend

(Prevention Magazine) To lose weight and keep it off, you've gotta stick with it—Monday through Sunday. But there is something about weekends that sends caution—and calories—to the wind. If you're trying to lose weight, or even keep the scale steady, you have to maintain a certain level of vigilance. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself. Our tips make it a cinch to overcome weight loss obstacles that can sabotage a week's worth of hard work.

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How to Stay Healthy Without Health Foods

(RealAge.com) Today’s roster of superfoods packs more power than an NFL lineup -- even more than the Buffalo Bills. Eat right and you can dramatically slow your rate of aging and dim your risk of disease. The trouble? Not everyone can eat these superfoods. Whether you are allergic to nuts, don’t drink wine, or would just absolutely, positively never voluntarily chew and swallow anything containing fish or flax, you’re not shut out of the health benefits. Here’s what to eat or drink instead.

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Nursing Homes / Aging in Place

Make Nursing Homes More Like Home: Medicare (HealthDay News)
A warm, welcoming environment where residents are free to make choices regarding their care: That's the new vision of the ideal nursing home, according to a guidance issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

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Community: There have also been advances in technology that will help keep us in our own homes as long as possible. See below.

Home Health Care Technology Baby Boomers Require Action to Age in Place (by Diane Carbo, RN)
Home health care technology can assist baby boomers to successfully age in place by promoting independence and offering assistance when it is needed. Boomers have made it perfectly clear they want to remain in their communities and stay in their homes for as long as possible. The results of a survey conducted by The American Association of Retired Persons of September, 2008 asked baby boomer if they agreed with this statement: "What I'd really like to do is stay in my current residence for as long as possible."

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How heart-healthy is olive oil?

(CNN) Olive oil is composed predominantly of the monounsaturated fat oleic acid. Consumption of monounsaturated fat, particularly when consumed in place of unhealthy saturated fat … or unhealthy carbohydrates … can help lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides, raise good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Olive oil is also a rich source of potent antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help slow the progression of atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)… In addition to being heart-healthy, research suggests the olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet may also protect against age-related dementia, Alzheimer's disease and certain types of cancer.

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How Old Are You Inside? Blood Test May Tell

(WebMD) You know how many birthday candles are on your cake, but a new blood test may be able to tell whether you're aging faster, or slower, than you think.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Protect Against Progression Of Age-related Macular Degeneration

(Science Daily) Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as tuna and salmon may protect against progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but the benefits appear to depend on the stage of disease and whether certain supplements are taken, report researchers… The AREDS trial results suggest taking supplements of antioxidants plus zinc prevents progression of late-stage AMD.

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10 Healthful Snacks That Won't Break the Calorie Bank

(U.S. News & World Report) What many people consider a "snack"-an energy bar, part of a bag of chips, or side order at a fast-food restaurant—can actually have 400 or more calories, making it more like a meal. A true snack, says Melanie Douglass, a registered dietitian and personal trainer based in Salt Lake City, is about 150 to 200 calories.

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Community: Click through for the suggestions. I was interested in the string cheese suggestion. I keep it on hand all the time. I even eat one in the early morning before breakfast. It sounds strange, but string cheese goes well with a cup of coffee!

Should I Be Taking Aspirin?

(by Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet) Many of my cardiology patients ask about the value of taking daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack and stroke. Now the updated guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force … have shed some new light on the subject. The revised guidelines, which recommend aspirin use for the primary prevention of heart attack and stroke, are more specific than earlier guidelines…

As far as what dosage works best, the jury is still out on this. But we should learn more when the results of the ongoing CURRENT-OASIS 7 clinical trial, the first large-scale randomized trial to directly compare high-dose vs. low-dose aspirin, become available later this year. For now I recommend 162 milligrams daily (two low-dose, or baby, aspirin) to patients who already have coronary heart disease or who are at risk for a heart attack and aren’t at risk for a GI hemorrhage. And I sometimes recommend one low-dose aspirin (or 81 milligrams) to those who are at low risk for heart disease and prefer not to take the stronger dosage.

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Community: Click through for the guidelines on who should take aspirin. Also, you don’t have to pay extra for low-dose aspirin. I use a pill cutter to cut regular size tablets into fourths. Each fourth is the same dosage as a low-dose aspirin.

Self-diagnosing on the web

(CNN video, 12:28) The CNN.com's blogger bunch weighs in on the dangers of diagnosing yourself using online health websites.

Watch the video.

The Diet Debates Are Over

(Everyday Health) Today, the diet debates are over. We have moved beyond the confusion of the low-fat versus low-carb battles to an expert consensus on what constitutes a healthy diet. Health-care professionals now agree that our focus should be on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich carbohydrates, healthy sources of unsaturated fats, low-fat dairy, and lean sources of protein, and this is reflected in the new USDA food pyramid.

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Furry pals can be partners in fitness

(CNN) Playing with the dog has health benefits. In a 2006 study published in the journal Obesity, a group of overweight pet owners with obese dogs lost a greater percentage of their body weight over a year than a control group, which did not own dogs.

The pet owners lost an average of 5.2 percent of their body weight and their dogs lost 15 percent. Unlike the control group, the pet owners reported that they enjoyed exercising because they bonded with their animals. They also learned to measure the amount of food for the dog instead of freely pouring the food into the bowl. They walked their dogs instead of letting them outside for quick bathroom breaks.

The dogs became an exercise coach in a way, said [Dr. Robert Kushner, obesity expert and professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine], the lead author of the study.

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A Chemical Found in Most Consumer Products May Cause Heart Disease in Women

(AlterNet) Bisphenol A is used in countless consumer products including food and beverage containers, kitchen appliances, electronics, and packaging.

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Get Your Shingles Vaccination

(U.S. News & World Report) The CDC has formally recommended the shot for adults age 60 and older.

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Community: I had shingles, and it was extremely painful. It was several weeks before the infection showed itself in skin blisters, so the doctor didn’t know what it was, and I was in great pain all that time. A vaccination sounds like a good idea.

FDA warns against using 3 Zicam cold meds

(CNN) The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned consumers to stop using certain Zicam nasal cold remedy products, saying they can cause users to lose their sense of smell permanently.

The agency says that since 1999, it has received more than 130 reports of loss of smell associated with Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel; Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs; and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs, kids size. The products have been linked to long-lasting or permanent loss of smell called anosmia. In some cases, the loss of smell occurred after the first dose.

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Social support can be a lifeline during health crisis

(CNN) Researchers say that social support systems can make a difference to people battling illnesses like cancer. "The jury is still out a little bit on whether social support helps you survive -- but it definitely helps you live better," said Dr. Charles Raison, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and CNNhealth.com's mental health expert. He noted that while some studies show a survival benefit and others don't, almost all show an improvement in quality of life.

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Burn Calories During Commercials

(Prevention Magazine) Don’t fast-forward: Use commercials to squeeze in these easy but effective strength moves.

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Community: Click through for suggested exercises. And bear in mind that it’s also possible to exercise during the programs.

Key Target Of Aging Regulator Found

(Science Daily) Researchers at The Wistar Institute have defined a key target of an evolutionarily conserved protein that regulates the process of aging. The study, published June 11 in Nature, provides fundamental knowledge about key mechanisms of aging that could point toward new anti-aging strategies and cancer therapies.

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Supplement may be statin alternative for some

(CNN) [A] new study suggests that an over-the-counter dietary supplement sold at pharmacies and health-food stores may be a workable alternative for people who have statin-related muscle pain. It seems that when combined with diet and lifestyle changes, red yeast rice supplements can lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels by more than 20 percent without a substantial risk of muscle pain (also known as myalgia)…

In effect, red yeast rice is a low-dose lovastatin, which may explain why it can sometimes cause muscle pain in statin-intolerant patients… At the same time, the reduction in LDL that the supplements provide can't be attributed solely to the monacolin K…, so there must be other cholesterol-lowering ingredients in red yeast rice.

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Having A Higher Purpose In Life Reduces Risk Of Death Among Older Adults

(Science Daily) Possessing a greater purpose in life is associated with lower mortality rates among older adults according to a new study.

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Drug May Stem Slide Into Alzheimer's for Some

(HealthDay News) Depression might increase the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease among those already experiencing memory problems, a new study says.

But the drug donepezil (Aricept), commonly prescribed for people with Alzheimer's, could slow the depressed person's slide into the disease, the study also found.

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Depression May Increase Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease In People With Memory Problems

(Science Daily) People with memory problems who are depressed are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease compared to people who are not depressed, according to a study published in the June 16, 2009, print issue ofNeurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. However, the research also shows that the popular Alzheimer's drug donepezil may delay the progression to Alzheimer's disease for depressed people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or memory problems.

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Colonoscopy Risks Increase With Age and Illness

(HealthDay News) Of all the screening methods for colon cancer, a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard because it not only finds, but also removes, cancerous and precancerous lesions. However, risks such as bleeding, colon perforation and heart problems, while low, may outweigh the benefits for some elderly patients.

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Medicare advisers eye imaging, biologics savings

(Reuters) Tighter controls are needed on medical tests, biological drugs and private insurance plans to help rein in costs to the U.S. Medicare health insurance program, a panel of advisers said on Monday.

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High-Metabolism Diet

(Prevention Magazine) Prevention's customizable metabolism-boosting workout will help you shed up to 8 pounds in just 4 weeks. Most important, you'll build firm, lean muscle tissue--the key to a robust metabolism. But that's just the beginning. To really make your metabolism soar, couple the workout with our High-Metabolism Diet, developed by Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition and kinesiology at Georgia State University, and Tammy Lakatos, RD, coauthor of Fire Up Your Metabolism. Start today and you'll sleep better, have more energy, feel firmer, and notice your clothes are looser in as little as 2 weeks.

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Age and Your Heart

(by Arthur Agatston, MD, author of South Beach Diet) For both men and women, age is a major risk factor for heart disease. The older you are, the more wear and tear there has been on your artery walls, the longer and harder your heart has had to work, and the more time you've had to accumulate arterial plaque. It's not surprising, then, that four out of every five deaths due to heart disease occur in people over age 65…

Chronological age alone does not tell the whole story. I want to stress that just because you are in your sixties or seventies doesn't mean that your heart health is deteriorating. Recently, I reviewed the heart scan of a 74-year-old male patient who exercised daily and followed a healthy diet. There was absolutely no calcified plaque in his coronary arteries, which meant that his risk of having a heart attack was extremely low. He may have indeed chosen the right parents, but that still doesn't completely account for his good health. Some credit must go to his heart-healthy lifestyle.

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A 10-Week Workout Plan

(U.S. News & World Report) Serious about getting fit? Try this workout routine designed by Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon and author of Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age. It combines aerobics, strength training, and flexibility and balance exercises.

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Lack of Good Sleep Might Be Deadly

(HealthDay News) Two new studies suggest that chronic poor sleep can actually boost your odds for dying prematurely, while another study finds that more than half of older Americans aren't getting the recommended eight hours of slumber.

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New Test Could Help Diagnose Early Dementia

New Test Could Help Diagnose Early Dementia (Science Daily)
A new cognitive test for detecting Alzheimer's disease is quicker and more accurate than many current tests, and could help diagnose early dementia, concludes a study… Early diagnosis is crucial to effective treatment.