Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Sleep Facts (And A Few Thoughts)

Alarm Clock 

Based on conversations with you (my friends), many of us experience bouts of insomnia.  I certainly do! Because of that malady, I am very drawn to articles about sleep. 

It is a known fact that the average human lives longer than they did 100 years ago.  Not surprising at all, recent studies indicate that the general population is sleeping less and less on a nightly basis.  The less sleep a person averages, the shorter their life-span and the less able they are to fight off disease.  Per Lawrence Epstein, MD, author of The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, “Sleep has shortened in duration from 8 hours in the 1950’s to 7 in recent years.”  The question that I cannot seem to shake is, if we are sleeping less, will our life spans be shortened (as a whole) in generations to come?

Have you ever experienced a couple of sleepless nights that left you feeling as if you could not handle yourself emotionally? One of those days where you know you had better just STAY QUIET ALL DAY, ha! According to Phyllis Zee, MD, of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University in Chicago, when people are sleep deprived the stress hormones in their bodies are increased.  And guess what else increases? Inflammation.  Remember the achy back, sore knees, and swollen ankles (especially in us middle aged folks) when we are sleep deprived? Ta-da…it is definitely a double edged sword…no sleep…feel worse…feel worse and no sleep.

Another thing that fascinates me, did you know that we still have growth hormones in our bodies when we are between the ages of 20 and 60? The more sleep a person gets, the more rejuvenated they are, and it is related to growth hormones.  We do not grow at those ages, but our body does repair itself.  The hormones help with muscle mass, better skin, younger looking all the way around.  And the number one way to keep the hormones as high as possible is to sleep well!

I am not going to talk about sleep until I am blue in the face, besides, I need a power nap soon! Oh, speaking of power naps…a daily nap, of 30 minutes or so, can increase a person’s life-span by up to 30 years!

By the way, nobody really knows the correct amount of sleep people should get.  They say it depends upon genes.  Some people need 8 hours, some need 6.  The entire thought wraps around one thing, being sleep deprived (whatever that number is), is not healthy. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all sleep like babies again? A person might wonder, do we have too many electronics in our lives (computers, cell phones, games, televisions)? What about the new compulsion of working around the clock, mixing work and personal life? Many years ago people read at night, by oil lamp or candlestick.  Early to bed, early to rise.  I wonder if there were many insomniacs back then? Oh well…another topic…another day.

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Top Brain Foods



A far cry from yesterday’s piglet festival post…I received a booklet from the grocery store a week or so ago.  Much to my surprise there was a lot of good information inside, not just coupons and recipes.  It has not hit the trash can yet, so it still holds my interest.  In turn, I began reading more health brain food articles across the Internet.  Food for thought, seems it is not just an old saying. 

Do you know the #1 food that can assist with memory problems, and even reverse some age-related memory loss? Blueberries.  Across the board, blueberries are THE word.  And blueberries are also cancer-fighting as well.  It appears blueberries can be labeled a “superfood,” based on the memory and cancer-fighting boosts they give to our body. 

Do you know what the #1 beverage is for assisting with a huge variety of health issues? Green tea.  Cold or hot, sweetened or unsweetened, green tea has been shown to decrease the presence of enzymes associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  Green tea has also been reported to help headaches, depression, cholesterol, arthritis, and immunity function.  Black tea is also good for the health, however, and surprisingly, the healthy effects in the body last much longer with green tea. 

Fish (or foods high in Omega-3 fats) also does the brain big favors.  Omega-3 fats help the brain relay and transmit information more effectively.  Brain Dean, MS, RD, says that much of our brain is composed of fats, and the type of fats we eat are reflected in the type of fats in our brain, he says, “It is a classic example of, you are what you eat.” Scary to some of us? Yes!

Grape juice may reduce inflammation in the brain which is an important factor when treating Alzheimer’s and other age-related memory problems.  Some say grape juice also has similar benefits to red wine, which helps the blood cholesterol, helps to prevent blood clots, and to maintain blood pressure.  The general recommendation is 4-6 ounces a day. 

Generally speaking, any food or drink that is healthy enough to help lower and maintain the body’s cholesterol levels, is also a good “brain food,” foods that are low in fat and high in fiber. 

Foods that can/might impair brain function are those high in carbohydrates (but low in fiber), and high fat foods (saturated fats), such as red meat. 

Perhaps now I can make better purchases at the grocery store…help these silly little bouts of forgetfulness that bestow me now and then? One would only hope!  But…then…I wouldn’t want to give up the chocolate cravings, would I???

Have a relaxing weekend!

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