5 easy and effective ways to boost your energy

Battery With Energy Progress Bar Loading

Have you ever feel like the Energizer Bunny with a weak battery? In the mid-afternoon you already feeling you are having such a long day.

Here are some tips from Harvard medical Publications, to battle against fatigue. Presuming you do not have medical conditions for persistent fatigue.

Pace yourself. Instead of burning though all your battery life in two hours, spread it out between morning tasks, afternoon tasks, and evening activities — with rest and meals in between. Consider these strategies to get the most mileage from your battery.

Take a walk or a nap. A short power nap can restore energy, but if you struggle to get enough sleep at night, napping can make insomnia worse. Rather than take a siesta, get moving. Get up and walk around the block, or just move around. If you are not an insomniac, though, enjoy that 20- to 30-minute power nap.

Skip most supplements. There is no evidence that energy-boosting or “anti-aging” supplements work. In particular:

  • DHEA. There is absolutely no evidence that that DHEA provides any benefit. And you especially shouldn’t be buying it from ads in the back of a magazine, because you don’t know what’s in it.
  • Iron. Iron is only beneficial if you are clearly deficient, which a doctor can check with a blood test. Unless you are low in iron, you don’t need to take it, and getting too much iron can be harmful.
  • B vitamins. It is true that B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, B12) help the body convert food into the form of energy that cells can burn, but it’s a myth that taking in more B vitamins supercharges your cells.

Eat long-lasting fuel. Your body burns through sugars and highly processed carbohydrates, like white bread, white rice, or prepared bakery goods, more rapidly than protein and the carbohydrates in whole grains. Instead, try yogurt with a sprinkling of nuts, raisins, and honey. Your body will take in the carb-fiber-protein mix more gradually. To really sustain yourself over the course of the day, eat a breakfast and a lunch that include complex carbohydrates and protein.

Don’t skip meals. It’s better to evenly space your meals out so your body gets the nourishment it needs all through the day.

original article: Want more energy? Here’s what really helps

Ibuprofen inducing kidney damage

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A new study published in the July 2017 edition of Emergency Medicine Journal —— Ibuprofen versus placebo effect on acute kidney injury in ultramarathons: a randomised controlled trial

The findings are:

  • Kidney injury was quite common. About 44% of these ultramarathoners experienced significantly reduced kidney function by the end of the race.
  • Kidney injury was more common among those taking ibuprofen. Just over half of the NSAID-takers had reduced kidney function, while about one-third of those in the placebo group did. Despite these findings, the differences in rates of kidney injury were not statistically significant.
  • The severity of kidney injury was greater in the ibuprofen group.
  • A faster finish and greater weight loss during the race (likely due to greater dehydration) increased the likelihood of kidney injury.

Ibuprofen and related medications (called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs) are used for a number of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, and headache.

More than a dozen different NSAIDs are available, including naproxen (as in Naprosyn or Aleve), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren) and indomethacin (Indocin). Aspirin is also an NSAID, though it is usually taken in small doses for its blood thinning effects (to prevent heart attack or stroke) rather than for pain.

The safety profile of NSAIDs is generally quite good,  but still they can cause trouble.

  • Upset stomach
  • intestinal bleeding
  • cardiovascular problems
  • The risk of heart attack may be increased among users of NSAIDs, especially among those at increased risk (such as those who have had a previous heart attack).
  • Plus, kidney injury.

So what?

If you are taking an NSAID regularly, you should be having regular blood monitoring, including measures of kidney function. And if you have significant kidney disease, you should probably avoid non-aspirin NSAIDs altogether. Ask your doctor whether you are a good candidate for NSAID use. They can be quite helpful, and many of their side effects can be avoided with proper precautions.

from Harvard Health Publications —— Is it safe to take ibuprofen for the aches and pains of exercise?

Get SMART about your goals to stay focused and on track at any age

Smart Goal 22

Today, we would like to share a brilliant article written by Matthew SolanExecutive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch. 

When you were younger, life revolved around goals: college degree, new job, traveling to a foreign country, running a marathon. Having your eyes (and mind) on a prize kept you motivated and engaged.

But as you age that focus tends to wane. What’s left to accomplish? Is it even worth striving for something anymore? Yet you need goals as you age more than ever.

“Goals are crucial to keeping your mental and physical skills sharp,” says Susan Flashner-Fineman, a coach at the Vitality 360 Wellness Coaching Program at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife. “You want your remaining years to be good ones, so what do you want them to look like? Goal setting can help you get there.”

A good way to establish new goals is to make them SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The SMART approach ensures you’ve defined your goals clearly and can attain them. Here is how it breaks down.

  • Specific: Goals need to be clear, detailed, and connected to a meaningful outcome. Instead of “I want to be more active,” try, “I will exercise 30 minutes, five days a week so I can have the strength and stamina to travel to a new country.”
  • Measurable: If you have no way to measure a goal, it’s tough to know when you’ve met it. “I’m going to lose weight” works better with a measurable outcome, such as “I’m going to lose 15 pounds by my birthday in three months.”
  • Achievable: Avoid overly grand goals. “They should be based on what you realistically can do now, and not when you were younger,” says Flashner-Fineman. “If you used to be able to walk five miles without fatigue and now can only do a mile, lower your expectations with a goal of walking three miles without fatigue.”
  • Relevant: Is your goal important to your life right now? “You don’t want to set goals just to have a goal,” says Flashner-Fineman. “It needs to have a purpose, or you may find it difficult to stick with.” For instance, do you want to learn a language because it sounds fun, or do you want to connect with your family’s history or improve your cognitive health?
  • Timely: Is your goal something that you can take on right now — or is it best for later? Also, is the time frame suitable? You probably won’t be able to safely lose 20 pounds in three weeks or master a new skill in a few months. Make sure you give yourself adequate time.

Goal setting also can be a wonderful journey of self-discovery, says Flashner-Fineman. “You might abandon your initial goal or never quite reach it, and that’s just fine. Consider it a learning experience, and try again. Or you may realize that it wasn’t what you really wanted to do and venture into a new direction.”

4 goal-setting tips

  1. Break big goals into smaller ones. They won’t feel so daunting, and you’ll be able to celebrate success along the way. For example, if you want to write your memoirs, focus first on attending a writing class or researching your family history.
  2. Reward yourself. Positive feedback is itself a reward, so share your accomplishments with friends and family or reward yourself with purchases related to your goal.
  3. Change your approach to challenges. For instance, if you want to learn to paint, but don’t think you can because you can’t see well, or can’t hold a small brush, then perhaps switch to another art form that’s better suited to you physically, like sculpting.
  4. Use visual reminders. Keep a photo related to your goal in constant view, like a vacation destination or the sign-up form for a 5K race.

original article: Get SMART about your goals to stay focused and on track at any age          —— From Harvard Health Publications

 

What to do when medication makes you constipated

constipation

Many medications can contribute to constipation, including but are not limited to the following:

  • Antidepressants -“A lot of antidepressants that treat the nerve endings in the brain also affect nerve endings in the gut. That can lead to significant side effects,” says Dr. Braden Kuo, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Opioids -“The narcotic effect can cause nerves in the gut to ‘sleep,’ inhibiting movement,” explains Dr. Kuo.
  • Calcium-channel blockers – relax the smooth muscles in blood vessels to lower blood pressure, also relax the muscles in the gut and may cause constipation.
  • Anticholinergics – block the effects of acetylcholine, a chemical that helps the muscles move. Less movement in the gut can lead to constipation.

Older adults can be more susceptible to the constipation side effect of medications because of a digestive system that’s off balance.

Constipation symptoms include 

  • having bowel movements too infrequently (typically fewer than three times a week);
  • having hard or small, lumpy stools;
  • having stools that are hard to pass;
  • straining;
  • having painful bowel movements;
  • having the sensation of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement.

What you can do

  • Adding more fiber to your diet can ease constipation.
  • using a fiber supplement with psyllium seed or methylcellulose.
  • Long-term treatment options: over-the-counter remedies such as polyethylene glycol 3350 (Miralax),  prescription medications such as linaclotide (Linzess).

Harvard Health Letter

Modern acupuncture is linked to constipation relieft.

Acupuncture for Chronic Severe Functional ConstipationA Randomized Trial 

by Annals of Internal Medicine

7 ways to keep stress — and blood pressure — down

7 ways to keep stress — and blood pressure — down

Source: Harvard Health Publications

When it comes to preventing and treating high blood pressure, one often-overlooked strategy is managing stress. If you often find yourself tense and on-edge, try these seven strategies to reduce stress.

  1. Get enough sleep. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health.
  2. Learn relaxation techniques. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and yoga are powerful stress-busters.
  3. Strengthen your social network. Connect with others by taking a class, joining an organization, or participating in a support group.
  4. Hone your time-management skills. The more efficiently you can juggle work and family demands, the lower your stress level.
  5. Try to resolve stressful situations if you can. Don’t let stressful situations fester. Hold family problem-solving sessions and use negotiation skills at home and at work.
  6. Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to a massage. Truly savor an experience: for example, eat slowly and really focus on the taste and sensations of each bite. Take a walk or a nap, or listen to your favorite music.
  7. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your spouse, friends, and neighbors. If stress and anxiety persist, talk to your doctor.

Add in a healthy lifestyle — maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, regular exercise, and a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthful fats — and high blood pressure could be a thing of the past.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

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Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the world’s oldest surviving tree species. Chinese herbal medicine has used both the ginkgo leaf and seed for thousands of years, modern research has focused on the standardized Ginkgo biloba extract made from the dried green leaves.

Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky. It is also an antioxidant. Ginkgo is used for the treatment of numerous conditions, many of which are under scientific investigation.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, based on studies conducted in laboratories, animals, and people, ginkgo is used for the following:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer disease
  • Intermittent claudication
  • Anxiety
  • Glaucoma
  • Memory and thinking
  • Macular degeneration
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon

According to Mayo Clinic, Grade B evidence (Good scientific evidence) are available to support ginkgo for managing the following:

  • Cerebral insufficiency (insufficient blood flow to the brain)
  • Dementia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Grade C evidence (Conflicting scientific evidence) are available to support ginkgo for managing the following:

  • Altitude (mountain) sickness
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cancer prevention
  • Chemotherapy side effects reduction
  • Chronic cochleovestibular disorders (ear disorder)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (damaged vein valves)
  • Claudication (painful legs from clogged arteries)
  • Cocaine dependence
  • Cognitive performance
  • Decreased libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Depression and seasonal affective disorder
  • Diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease)
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Dyslexia
  • Exercise performance
  • Fibromyalgia (nervous system disorder)
  • Glaucoma (increased eye pressure)
  • Graves’ disease (thyroid disorder)
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart disease
  • Hemorrhoids
  • High blood sugar/glucose intolerance
  • Macular degeneration (eye disease)
  • Memory enhancement (in healthy people)
  • Mental performance (after eating)
  • Migraine
  • Mood and cognition in post-menopausal women
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ocular allergy (eye allergy)
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Pulmonary interstitial fibrosis (scarred lung tissue)
  • Quality of life
  • Retinopathy (eye damage from type 2 diabetes)
  • Skin aging
  • Smell disorders
  • Stomach cancer
  • Stroke recovery
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Vitiligo (lack of skin pigmentation)

(Natural Standard evidence-based validated grading rationale)

Although ginkgo is generally well tolerated, it should be used cautiously in people with clotting disorders or taking blood thinners, or prior to some surgical or dental procedures, due to reports of bleeding. For detailed precautions and possible interactions, please refer to University of Maryland Medical Center and Mayo Clinic.

The safety and effectiveness of ginkgo have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious,  and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

 

Visceral fat – more of a health concern than subcutaneous fat

visceral fat

 

 

 

Sourece: Harvard Health Publications

Visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs. Subcutaneous fat is the kind you can grasp with your hand.

Visceral fat has been linked to metabolic disturbances and increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Subcutaneous fat is generally not considered as much of a health threat as visceral fat is.

Why is visceral fat more of a health concern?

Research suggests that fat cells — particularly abdominal fat cells — are biologically active. It’s appropriate to think of fat as an endocrine organ or gland, producing hormones and other substances that can profoundly affect our health. Although scientists are still deciphering the roles of individual hormones, it’s becoming clear that excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, disrupts the normal balance and functioning of these hormones.

Scientists are also learning that visceral fat pumps out immune system chemicals called cytokines — for example, tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 — that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. These and other biochemicals are thought to have deleterious effects on cells’ sensitivity to insulin, blood pressure, and blood clotting.

One reason excess visceral fat is so harmful could be its location near the portal vein, which carries blood from the intestinal area to the liver. Substances released by visceral fat, including free fatty acids, enter the portal vein and travel to the liver, where they can influence the production of blood lipids. Visceral fat is directly linked with higher total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance means that your body’s muscle and liver cells don’t respond adequately to normal levels of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that carries glucose into the body’s cells. Glucose levels in the blood rise, heightening the risk for diabetes.

Exercise and dieting can help you get rid of visceral fat

The good news is that visceral fat yields fairly easily to exercise and diet, with benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to more favorable cholesterol levels.

The starting point for combating visceral fat is regular moderate-intensity physical activity — at least 30 minutes per day (and perhaps up to 60 minutes per day) to control weight. Strength training (exercising with weights) may also help fight abdominal fat. Spot exercising, such as doing sit-ups, can tighten abdominal muscles, but it won’t get at visceral fat.

Diet is also important. Pay attention to portion size, and emphasize complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and lean protein over simple carbohydrates such as white bread, refined-grain pasta, and sugary drinks. Replacing saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated fats can also help.

Scientists hope to develop drug treatments that target abdominal fat. For now, experts stress that lifestyle, especially exercise, is the very best way to fight visceral fat.