Sleep Impacts Physical and Mental Well-Being

A recent study studied the results and issues of sleeping fewer than 6 hours for 8 nights in a row, which is the minimum amount of sleep experts agree is necessary for the ability to support optimal health in the average adult group of people. It only takes three nights in a row of sleep loss to cause physical and mental well being to deteriorate in a big way.

The largest jump in well-being symptoms occurred after just one night of loss of sleep. The number of physical and mental problems then got steadily worse and peaked on the third day. At this point, the research indicates the human body was relatively used to repeats of loss of sleep. However, changes occurred on day 6 when the participants in the study reported that their physical symptoms were severe and at their worse.

Many people believe that we catch up on sleep debt on the weekends and thus become more productive during the weekdays. However, the study results show that just one night of loss of sleep can significantly impair daily functions.

Data which was provided by the Midlife of the United States study included almost 2,000 middle-aged adults who were well educated and relatively healthy. 42% had at least one night of loss of sleep, sleeping 1-1/2 fewer hours than what their typical routine is. Physical and mental behaviors were recorded in a diary for 8 consecutive days which allowed the research team to review how loss of sleep causes tear and wear on the body.

The participants reported a large degree of nervous, angry irritable, lonely and frustrated feelings due to the loss of sleep. They also reported more physical symptoms such as aches, upper respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems and a variety of other health issues. The negative symptoms and feelings continuously increased throughout all consecutive loss of sleep days. They didn’t return to baseline levels until they experienced a night’s sleep of more than six hours.

Approximately 1/3 of U.S. adults get less than 6 hours of the recommended sleep per night which can become a habit. This makes it increasingly difficult for the body to recover fully from the lack of sleep which continues the vicious cycle of worsening well-being on a daily basis and can impact a person on a professional level.

An earlier study found that losing just 16 minutes of sleep could impact performance on the job. Previous findings also indicated that minor loss of sleep could decrease daily mindfulness which can be a critical recourse for maintaining healthy routines and managing stress.

The best way to maintain strong performance on a daily basis is to set aside at least 6 hours of sleep per night.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Naturally Occurring Consecutive Sleep Loss and Day-to-Day Trajectories of Affective and Physical Well-Being

How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

Can a person exercise too much? We have always been told that exercising is good for a healthy body. But now studies are shedding some light on what is the optimum amount of exercise required to be healthy.

A study in the Netherlands where the participants were active athletes that worked out to extreme levels has shown that they developed atherosclerosis in later years. The athletes cardiovascular health had been affected by the excessive workouts. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally so this can be a reason to worry. More study will be needed to see if this determination could relate to the general population that exercises regularly.

A recent report by the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio states that a regular exercise routine is beneficial. The participants in this study were monitored for 23 years after going through health tests. Researchers monitored and followed up on the health, exercise and lifestyle data from 1991-2014 to be able to make this determination. This conclusion was for all age groups that were on a regular exercise program.

Another study by Yale University found that a person that exercises every day for at least 90 minutes can improve mental health. To understand the association between exercise and mental health, this study centered on the type of exercise, duration, frequency and intensity. They also determined that no exercise at all or any exercise beyond the 90 minutes could be detrimental.

There is a difference between extreme workouts by athletes and regular exercising in general. And, not exercising at all was worse than excessive workouts. Dr. Wael, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic noted that people that performed poorly on a treadmill or stress test were at a higher risk of death than even people that had diabetes, hypertension or smoked. The benefits of exercise far outweigh any risk in comparison to not exercising at all. He believes there is no ceiling on exercise that can benefit a persons health as long as it is not extreme. An example of extreme would be running 100 miles per week.

Everyone needs to exercise regularly to reach and maintain a high fitness level. This is especially true for older individuals. A persons cardiorespiratory fitness level is an indication of overall health and exercise can help to achieve a good outcome.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Association of Cardiorespiratory Fitness With Long-term Mortality Among Adults Undergoing Exercise Treadmill Testing

Getting Enough Omega-3 Could Extend Your Life

New research has shown that increased levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can improve your chances of living longer. The study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at over 2,000 people and what percentage of their total fatty acids are made up of EPA and DHA. This number then was used as their risk assessment. It turns out that the researchers found that the higher the level of omega-3 index was, the lower the risk.

There are different behaviors people can adopt to help extend their life such as exercise, eating a balanced diet and being socially active. It was found that people over age 65 could live almost 4.7 years longer if they had a high omega-3 index. A low omega-3 index shortened a person’s lifespan by about the same as being a smoker. This does not mean a smoker can undo damage by adding omega-3 fatty acid, but it supports further research to be done.

Omega-3 fatty acid can be added to a persons diet through fish oil supplements or eating foods rich in the nutrients. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seed oil do not include EPA or DHA. Be careful when selecting a fish oil supplement. Not all are the same. It is worth spending more to get a higher quality supplement because some of the lower cost fish oil supplements can be rancid and contain toxic chemicals like dioxin and PCB’s. Look for a minimum of EPA and DHA levels combined of 500 mg per serving. That will be listed on the supplement facts panel for a quality fish oil. A person should take the recommended serving of 500 to 1000 mg daily, however some people consume 2000 mg – 2500 mg each day to boost the benefits. The antioxidant Astaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment that is found in wild salmon and gives it the intense pink flesh color. That helps prevent oxidation of the omega-3 fatty acids. It has many health benefits and it is beneficial to take 3 mg – 5 mg along with fish oil supplements.

You can also get omega-3 fatty acids from eating cold water fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies or sardines. These fish are caught fresh from their natural environment where they eat a diet that produces lots of EPA and DHA giving them higher nutrient levels. Farm-raised salmon are fed a processed diet and do not contain high levels of omega-3’s. Their meat also tends to have more pollutants and toxins from the closed artificial environment in which they are raised so are best avoided.

The evidence is overwhelming that adding DHA and EPA to your diet can help maintain a healthy body and improve longevity.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort

Live a Longer Life With More Daily Steps

Engaging in more steps daily, either in short spurts or all at once may help you live a longer life. This is according to preliminary research which will be presented at The American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Conference 2021.

Walking is one of the easiest and safest ways to improve health and fitness including heart health. The American Heart Associations fitness guidelines for adults recommends per week a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or either 75 minutes of strenuous physical activity or possibly a combination of both.

Popular step counters and fitness apps make it simple to count steps. Researchers used wearable step counting devices to compare the results of uninterrupted series of steps of 10 minutes or longer with occasional shorter spurts such as typical daily activities or something like climbing stairs.

In the past researchers were limited to just measuring activities people would recall on a questionnaire. New advances have allowed researchers to measure even short spurts of activity.

16,732 women from 2011 to 2015 wore waist type step counters which would measure their daily steps and also patterns of walking for four to seven days. The women in the study were aged 60 and over with an average age of 72 and were mostly white women, non-Hispanic. They were all involved in the Women’s Health Study which was a national, large study of cancer, heart disease and a variety of other long-term prevention of disease.

The total number of steps were divided into 2 groups – one for 10 minutes or longer lengths of walking with just a few interruptions, the other group participated in shorter spurts of walking while involved in daily activities such as climbing stairs, housework or walking to or from a car. For follow-up, the research team tracked deaths that occurred from any cause for about six years which was until December 31, 2019.

Findings showed:

*804 Deaths occurred during the entire period of 2011 to 2019.
*Participants who walked more steps in shorter spurts lived longer even regardless of the number of steps they took in longer and uninterrupted bouts of steps. Benefits appeared to level off at around 4,500 steps in short spurts per day.
*When comparison was made to no steps daily, increases of every 1,000 steps daily was linked to a decrease in death of 28% during the research follow-up period.
*Decrease of death of 32% was shown in participants who participated in more than 2,000 daily steps in uninterrupted periods.

An earlier analysis of the identical women found that those women who participated in 4,500 daily steps had an outstanding lower risk of death in comparison to the women who were least active. The results have shown that the finding holds even for those women who did not take part in any uninterrupted periods of walking. Engaging in 2,000 or even more added steps during bouts was linked to further longevity benefits.

Since older people tend to face a variety of barriers to a structured exercise program, many may find it more enjoyable and also more convenient to increase their daily walking habits such as doing extra housework, parking further away from destinations such as stores, and adding to their yard work.

According to cardiologists, regular physical activity has been associated to a decreased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and improved lipid profiles. Walking has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. A small increase can have a profound effect on cardiovascular health.

In regards to the short term, people who engage in walking have improved body fitness and composition. In regards to the long term, more steps engaged in on a daily basis can decrease the risk of cardiac events, coronary heart disease and death. Walking can additionally boost muscle strength and help prevent injuries and falls.

Walking is additionally an excellent exercise for the whole body. It not only utilizes muscles in the whole leg, but also work the gluteus muscles and the core for propulsion and stability. And changing the pace during a walk can lead to even more health benefits. Walking faster for 30 second intervals then engaging in a slower period for another 30 seconds can increase a person’s heart rate which will help boost cardiovascular health and burn more calories.

Evidence has also shown that walking more on a daily basis can help improve sleep quality. Other evidence has shown that those who are physically active have better mental health than those who who aren’t as active. Even leisurely walking can boost positive feelings and emotions and reduce symptoms of depression.

A person does not need to commit to long strolls every day to improve their health. Just working in bursts of steps throughout daily activities has shown to have the same health benefits such as better sleep quality, better heart health and a more positive mental attitude.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Taking more steps daily may lead to a longer life

Strength Training for Your Breathing Can Improve Health Dramatically

New research by the Univ. of Colorado at Boulder shows how just 5 minutes a day practicing a procedure called strength training for your breathing muscles can improve a persons health dramatically. It can lower blood pressure as well as improve some measures of vascular health. It can also do this as well as medication or even aerobic exercise.

The exercise, known as IMST or high-resistance muscle strength training can help older adults stave off cardiovascular disease. In the U.S. adults over 50 exhibit above normal blood pressure 65% of the time, contributing to a greater risk of stroke or heart attack, the nation’s leading killers. But only 40% and below actually meet the recommended aerobic exercise guidelines.

A lot of people just don’t get the exercise they need as they age whether from time, effort, expense and/or accessibility. To strengthen their diaphragm muscles IMST can be used. It was developed in the 80’s to help patients with critical respiratory disease. With a hand-held device they can inhale vigorously. As they suck resistance is given back, therefore strengthening the diaphragm muscles. It can be done in only 5 minutes a day from a person’s own home just sitting and watching tv.

The research team has been testing a protocol that uses less inhalations per day for 6 days a week at a high resistance to see if improvements in cardiovascular performance could be maintained. They were hoping this would also help cognitive and sports performance. The study involved 36 adults that had above normal blood pressure between the ages of 50 and 79 and were otherwise healthy. Half of the group used the IMST at a high resistance for 6 weeks and the other half used a placebo with the resistance much lower.

The results supported that the group using the IMST improved their blood pressure by 9 points on average. This is equivalent to walking 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week and also mirrors the same results of some blood pressure medications. The benefits extended at least 6 weeks after they had not used the ISMT, therefore, showing the improvements were maintained longer than an exercise routine. The participants also stayed with the IMST protocol 95% of the time, making it more attractive than exercise.

The researchers are not sure why strengthening a person’s diaphragm muscles lowers blood pressure, but theorizes that it causes nitric oxide to be produced, enabling the cells lining blood vessels to relax.

If a person is considering using the ISMT device, they should consult with their doctor first. But so far, it has shown remarkable results and is safe. It has a lot of potential to help people in a way that is easy and takes a limited amount of time.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Time Efficient Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Endothelial Function, NO Bioavailability, and Oxidative Stress in Midlife/Older Adults With Above Normal Blood Pressure

How Stress Affects the Color of Hair

Stress affects a persons body in many ways. One of them is turning hair gray. A new study by researchers at Columbia Univ. Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has now found that graying of hair can be linked to evidence of psychological stress.

When hair follicles are still under the skin, they can be influenced by stress hormones and physical things that may happen to our body and mind. When they appear on the scalp, they can harden, permanently crystallizing the exposure of stress into a more stable form.

From just looking at a hair, it seems like it’s the same color allover. But under a high resolution scanner, there will be noticeable variations in color. A new method was developed to capture highly detailed images from a human hair that had been split into tiny slices. This could show the loss of pigment or graying. This is what the study concentrated on looking at and measuring.

The hair was analyzed from 14 volunteers that kept a stress diary. They rated each week’s level of stress and documented it. Individual hairs were then analyzed as to their color. It was noted by comparing the stress diaries and the hairs that striking similarities were noticed between stress levels and colors of the hair. And, to their amazement some gray hairs regained their original color when the stress was relieved.

The researchers wanted to know more about how stress caused the hair to turn gray. To do this, they measured protein levels in the hairs and how these levels changed from the length of the hair. They discovered changes in 300 proteins when the color of the hair changed. This suggests that mitochondria may play a role when stress occurs. Mitochondria can be affected by stress and signal responses in the body.

The data shows that even though reducing stress in a person’s life is beneficial, it won’t necessarily return the hair to its former color. They noted that understanding the mechanism how aging is influenced by stress could hold clues as to how old gray hairs return to their young pre-gray state.

They concluded that hair needs to reach a certain point or threshold before turning gray. When hair is near that point because of age and other factors, stress can then push it over and transition it to gray. But if a person is older and has been gray for years, reducing stress will not darken their hair. Likewise, a young person with dark hair will not be pushed over the point to gray hair by increased stress.

The data showed growing evidence that human aging is not a fixed, linear biological process but can be halted or temporarily reversed, at least in part.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Quantitative mapping of human hair greying and reversal in relation to life stress

Genes and the Ageing Process

How do your genes affect aging? A recent study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health wanted to find out just how bacteria in health and disease controlled ageing. To do this, they fed antibiotics to fruit flies and then monitored their gene activity, including those that control ageing, throughout their life.

The newborn male flies were raised on antibiotics preventing bacteria growth. These results were surprising. The lives of the fruit flies were extended and many of the gene activity was changed. They found out that only about 30% of the genes may be involved in the ageing process. The other genes reflected the body’s response to bacteria. Traditional thinking was that a larger number of genes are involved in ageing.

They were amazed that the flies ended up living approximately six days longer. In humans, this would be comparable to an extra 20 years of life. They concluded that the rate from which the activity of the genes changing was slower than normal in the flies that were given the antibiotics. They found no clear trend for why this happened but, at various ages, the antibiotics did help the flies survive infection or starvation longer than normal.

A list of common genes that involve ageing have been developed by scientists in the last few decades. But now, learning that only about 30% are in fact thought to control ageing, they hope to determine just which genes are linked to the ageing process.

To view the original scientific studies click below:
Common features of aging fail to occur inDrosophilaraised without a bacterial microbiome

Pollutants Can Speed Up Aging Prematurely

Exposure to pollutants, such as UV rays, industrial chemicals and hazards, cigarette smoke, and ozone can lead to production of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals can interact with biomolecules, such as DNA or a protein causing damage that keeps them from working properly. This will damage a persons DNA and tissues and if not repaired can increase the speed at which a person ages. This is collaborated by a study from Eric E Kelley, a West Virginia Univ. researcher and the Univ. of Minnesota.

The research used genetically-modified mice missing a crucial DNA-repair protein in their hematopoietic stem cells. These are immune cells that are immature and eventually develop into white blood cells. Because the mice were missing this protein they were not able to repair any damaged DNA that accrued in immune cells.

This aged the mice at a faster rate where a 5-month old mouse was similar to a mouse that was 2-years old. The mice displayed age-related issues like osteoporosis, hearing loss, visual impairment, renal dysfunction and hypertension prematurely due to it being unable to repair its DNA. For comparison, a 2-year old mouse is about the same as a human that is 70-80 years old.

The study showed that cell aging markers and cell damage and oxidation were greater in the genetically-modified mice in comparison to a wild mouse. In addition, the kidney, liver and other organs also showed damaged cells, therefore, displaying that the damage is not only related to the immune cells.

It is unavoidable for a person to completely deter their exposure to pollutants but there are ways a person can decrease it. If a person limits junk food, drinking, smoking and exposure to the sun, pesticides and chemicals it would go a long ways to prevent the increase of free radicals. The defense system in a persons mitochondria cannot keep up with too much exposure thus not able to repair the damage.

This study suggests that premature aging could be prevented by limiting exposure to pollutants and making good lifestyle choices and changes.

To view the original scientific studies click below:An aged immune system drives senescence and ageing of solid organs

Is Your Sunscreen Toxic?

It is well known that using sunscreen can help minimize sun damage and help a person stay in the sun longer. But what is sunscreen really made of and what does it do?

After a recent test by Valisure of 294 sunscreen products, it was determined that 78 of them had high levels of benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen and can build up in the body at unhealthy levels. The federal supervision of personal care products has not been updated since the 1930s. This was before a lot of the synthetic chemicals that are now added to them were used. The FDA has allowed these products to be sold without proper testing including sunscreen. The levels of benzene in some of the most popular brands is quite alarming. Benzene is considered a Class 1 solvent and should not be used in personal care products. However, the FDA allows it be used at a restricted level if a product has a significant therapeutic benefit and its use is unavoidable. Many sunscreen products don’t contain it which brings into question whether it is a necessary ingredient.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Study from 2003-2004 showed that 96.8% of the sunscreen samples tested had measurable levels of benzophenone-3. This is another name for oxybenzone which promotes the ability of chemicals to enter the skin, including pesticides, insect repellent and toxic herbicides.

The FDA led two studies that showed certain ingredients found in sunscreen can build up to unhealthy levels. A FDA research team then performed a follow-up study of active sunscreen ingredients where the participants applied it over a 4 day period. Blood samples were then taken that revealed a concentration of over 500 times than was presumed safe after just a couple of days use. But the FDA continues to widely promote sunscreen use.

Some sunscreen products contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are ingredients known to be safe. But this safety level is not extended to the nanosized versions which measure less than 100 nanometers. By inhaling these nanoparticles it allows them to infiltrate areas in your lungs and body fluids that are difficult to clear. They can enter into your bloodstream and cause damage to organs, cells, immune system, heart, brain and the nervous system. Because of the size of these nanoparticles, they can cause toxic effects.

In addition to sunscreen you can also help protect your skin by taking the oral supplements Astaxanthin and Polypodium. These are powerhouse antioxidants that have been linked to healthier skin, heart health, endurance and joint pain. They have become extremely popular because of their myriad health benefits that are stronger than Vitamin C. But be aware that it will take a few weeks, taken daily, to build up the body’s protection. Astaxanthin is now being incorporated into a number of sunscreens which can be applied topically.

It is important that when you are in the sun a person does need to be cautious. Everyone needs some sun exposure to be healthy but in a careful way so as not to get burned. Using clothing and exposing 40% of your body for short periods daily helps the body produce vitamin D which can increase your levels so as to reduce the risk of cancers including melanoma. Only stay in the sun until the skin is a light shade of pink. Because the skin on the face is thinner and more prone to premature aging, when in the sun for longer periods of time protect it with a hat.

Use sunscreen or sunblock that does not contain benzene and contains titanium oxide or zinc oxide that is not nanosized. Using a cream or lotion that contains zinc oxide or Astaxanthin will provide the best protection from UVA rays. Eating a healthy diet of foods that contain natural oxidants such as fresh, raw and unprocessed ingredients will provide nutrients to maintain a healthy balance of oils in your skin that will help create a natural defense against sunburn.

Remember to always use a balanced and sensible approach to sun exposure.

To view the original scientific studies click below:
Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent Benzophenone-3 in Residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004
Valisure Detects Benzene in Sunscreen
Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients
Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients

Is There a Secret to Living to 100?

What is the secret to living to 100? Is there one? A team of researchers at the Center on Healthy Aging at the Univ. of Calif., San Diego created a study to find out. It’s participants were aged from 21 to 99 and over. The study concentrated on a number of small villages in Italy, where it was shown these people lived a long and healthy life. They decided to focus the study on the participants’ character traits instead of their diet and heredity.

The results showed that although the older participants (aged 90 and over) had worse physical health, their mental well-being was better then the younger participants. Their mental health was rated on issues such as their resilience, depression, optimism, anxiety, stress and their overall mental and physical well-being. Some of these participants had been through such things as war, traumatic events, traveling and life’s ups and downs. But they still showed bonds with family, religion, worked hard with resilience and optimism and also loved the land.

It was shown that they were much more able to deal with “life” and avoid stressors. They were compassionate, emotionally stable and were able to make smart decisions.

The older participants scored higher on the measures of decision making, self confidence, mental well-being and were less anxious and depressed. They showed they were more adaptable with having strong social support and a high level of confidence. They had a sense of pride about their personal stories and things they had to overcome in life.

All of the older participants had a love of their land and thus giving them a purpose in life. Almost all of them still work on their houses and the land. They have an attitude that they will not give up their wonderful life, therefore, giving them a sense of grounding.

This study concluded that a long life was maintaining a balance to be able to overcome adversities with a positive attitude with close ties to family, a purpose in life, religion and a love of the land.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Mixed-methods quantitative–qualitative study of 29 nonagenarians and centenarians in rural Southern Italy: focus on positive psychological traits