Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Longevity Tips

How to Live Longer:

5 Really Easy Longevity Tips

The standard advice for how to live longer includes typically vague lifestyle changes that can be challenging for people who have bad habits and busy lives: don’t smoke, drink only in moderation, exercise, lose weight, sleep well. That’s all great advice. But there are also several specific and very simple (and cheap) ways to up the odds that you — or your children — will live longer, healthier lives. Here are five simple longevity tips, all based on recent research:

Get Up: For those whose butts are stuck in chairs at the office or on the couch at home for long periods, breaking the habit can be incredibly healthy. Sitting fewer than three hours a day adds two years to your life expectancy, a recent study found. Other research found a seated culture fuels about 173,000 cases of cancer a year. Sitting also raises risk for diabetes and obesity, two things known to shorten life. If you must sit, consider how to sit healthy, including taking short and frequent breaks to walk around.

Drink Coffee: While coffee can have negative side effects for some people, the most recent research — in multiple studies — finds coffee is generally not harmful. And a report in the May issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests drinking more coffee — up to six cups a day — can help you live longer. In the study, death rates for avid coffee drinkers decreased from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke and diabetes and the overall category of “any cause.” [10 Bad Things That Are Good For You]

Add Fiber: Anyone still clinging to their gummy white bread (or white rice) is stacking the odds of a long and healthy life against themselves (or their children). Whole wheat bread and other foods naturally high in fiber, including fruits, vegetables and rice, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, infectious and respiratory diseases, obesity and even some cancers. A study last year found that a diet rich in fiber reduces the risk of death during a given time period. Processed foods purportedly “fortified with fiber” did not exhibit the same benefit. Oh, and for added incentive: Eating whole grains reduces belly fat.

Cut the Fat: But cut the right fat. The human body needs fats to function, but more and more evidence finds a deadly correlation with saturated fats — the fats from meat and other animal products. Polyunsaturated fats — fats from plants, including nuts, avocados and other vegetables — are a basic aspect of the Mediterranean diet, which is also low in meats, and which is behind the healthy lives of centenarians, according to a study in the April issue of the journal Immunity and Ageing. Guys, need further motivation? Saturated fats lower sperm count significantly.

Take a Hike! Walking is good for you. No doubt about that. But can walking help you live longer? Likely. A study in 2006 found that elderly people who could walk a quarter-mile had higher odds of being alive six years later. A study last year reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who walk faster — regardless of age or sex — live longer than others. Plus, it gives you something to do when you're not sitting.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mindful multitasking: Meditation first can calm stress, aid concentration

(Medical Xpress) -- Need to do some serious multitasking? Some training in meditation beforehand could make the work smoother and less stressful, new research from the University of Washington shows.
Work by UW Information School professors David Levy and Jacob Wobbrock suggests that training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer and also improves and reduces stress.
Their paper was published in the May edition of Proceedings of Graphics Interface.
Levy, a computer scientist, and Wobbrock, a researcher in human-computer interaction, conducted the study together with Information School doctoral candidate Marilyn Ostergren and Alfred Kaszniak, a at the University of Arizona.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore how meditation might affect multitasking in a realistic work setting,” Levy said.
The researchers recruited three groups of 12-15 human resource managers for the study. One group received eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation training; another received eight weeks of body relaxation training. Members of the third, a , received no training at first, then after eight weeks were given the same training as the first group.
Before and after each eight-week period, the participants were given a stressful test of their multitasking abilities, requiring them to use email, calendars, instant-messaging, telephone and word-processing tools to perform common office tasks. Researchers measured the participants’ speed, accuracy and the extent to which they switched tasks. The participants' self-reported levels of stress and memory while performing the tasks were also noted.
The results were significant: The meditation group reported lower levels of stress during the test while those in the control group or who received only relaxation training did not. When the control group was given meditation training, however, its members reported lower stress during the test just as had the original meditation group.

The meditation training seemed to help participants concentrate longer without their attention being diverted. Those who meditated beforehand spent more time on tasks and switched tasks less often, but took no longer to complete the overall job than the others, the researchers learned.
No such change occurred with those who took body only, or with the control group. After the control group's members underwent meditation training, however, they too spent longer on their tasks with less task switching and no overall increase in job completion time.
After training, both the meditators and those trained in relaxation techniques showed improved memory for the tasks they were performing. The control group did not, until it too underwent the .
"Many research efforts at the human-technology boundary have attempted to create technologies that augment human abilities," Wobbrock said. "This meditation work is unusual in that it attempts to augment human abilities not through technology but because of technology — because of the demands technology places on us and our need to cope with those demands.”
Levy added: "We are encouraged by these first results. While there is increasing scientific evidence that certain forms of meditation increase concentration and reduce emotional volatility and stress, until now there has been little direct evidence that meditation may impart such benefits for those in stressful, information-intensive environments.”
6-14-12 By Peter Kelley and Catherine O'Donnell in Psychology & Psychiatry
Research by UW Information School professors suggests that meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer and also improves memory and reduces stress.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Live to be 100~ Readers Digest Version

How to Live to be 100

This checklist isn't just a prescription for living long; it's your ticket to living well.
Sure, your genes have something to do with your life span, but the doctors we spoke to agreed that you can make a big dent in your risk of chronic disease by doing 12 simple things. What's more, the following checklist isn't just a prescription for living long; it's your ticket to living well.

1. Stop Smoking

 Four years after doing so, your chance of having a heart attack falls to that of someone who has never smoked. After ten years, your lung cancer risk drops to nearly that of a nonsmoker.

2. Exercise Daily

Thirty minutes of activity is all that's necessary. Three ten-minute walks will do it.

3. Every Day...

Eat five servings of produce.

4. Get Screened

No need to go test-crazy; just get the health screenings recommended for your stage of life. Check with your doctor to make sure you're up-to-date.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

For most adults, that means seven to eight hours every night. If you have a tough time turning off the light, remember that sleep deprivation raises the risk of heart disease, cancer, and more.

6. Ask your doctor about low-dose aspirin.

Heart attack, stroke, even cancer — a single 81 mg tablet per day may fight them all. (Aspirin comes with risks, though, so don't start on your own.)

7. Know Your Blood Pressure

It's not called the silent killer just to give your life a little more drama. Keep yours under 120/80.

8. Stay Connected

Loneliness is another form of stress. Friends, family, and furry pets supply vitamin F.

9. Cut Back on Saturated Fat

It's the raw material your body uses for producing LDL, bad cholesterol.

10. Get Help for Depression

It doesn't just feel bad; it does bad things to your body. In fact, when tacked onto diabetes and heart disease, it increases risk of early death by as much as 30 percent.

11. Manage Stress

The doctors we surveyed say that living with uncontrolled stress is more destructive to your health than being 30 pounds overweight.

12. Have a higher purpose.

As one physician advised, "Strive to achieve something bigger than yourself." By giving back, you give to yourself.

~from Health...The Reader's Digest Version (Reader's Digest Association Books)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meditation Strengthens the Brain

Meditation has always been a way to your inner space. The inner self is sometimes referred to the true self. Insight & Intuition is developed by diligent meditation. Meditators have been long thought to be deep thinkers, therefore smarter, more compassionate and creative people. Now new research is being done which appears to be evidence that meditation actually strengthens the brain. This can be seen physiologically on brain scans as well as experienced by the meditators emotionally and spiritually. The article below is very compelling. It is not the first study of this kind, now that the brain is the "New Frontier" many scientific studies have been undertaken.

Evidence builds that meditation strengthens the brain

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


This is the month of Love, with Valentine's Day & cuddling up inside while the snow blows outside! Parade Magazine had a great article this last weekend called The Science of Love~ What new research can teach us about romance- and how to make it last by Judith Newman. The article was sprinkled with chemical symbols, as if pulled from the Periodic table of Elements, which, as a Biochemistry graduate, really caught my eye! It talks about the way our brain works being programmed for love. From a chemical reaction to a magnetic attraction, this writing tried to explain the unexplainabe- love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Sleep may not always be the best medicine. Taking a snooze shortly after witnessing a traumatic event may preserve, and even strengthen, the negative emotions tied to that unpleasant memory, a new study suggests. Researchers showed study participants a series of images, some highly unpleasant, some neutral. Participants who slept shortly after viewing the images were more likely to rate them just as disturbing — if not more so — when they saw the images again, compared with participants who stayed awake. The results contrast with previous research suggesting that sleep, being an overall beneficial activity, reduces the negative emotional tone of a memory. The study could have profound implications for preventing post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers said. "From a clinical standpoint, insomnia following trauma might not necessarily be bad," said study lead author Rebecca Spencer, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "It may be the appropriate biological response and might help you forget something traumatic."
Forgetting negative memories
Previous studies have shown that sleep helps lock in long-term memories, and some researchers have proposed shut-eye also regulates our emotional responses to events. A 2009 study suggested that the negative emotional tone of a memory lessens after sleep. While scientists assumed that the brain consolidates memories and ties an emotional response to them at once, the actual connection between the two phenomena hasn't been explored until now. For the new study, Spencer and her colleagues recruited 106 volunteers ages 18 to 30 and showed them 30 negative and 30 neutral pictures. One of the most negative pictures, Spencer told LiveScience, was "a gruesome scene from a war-torn country that you'd see on the evening news." One of the neutral pictures, on the other hand, depicted a man reading a newspaper. After seeing a picture for a second, the participants rated how happy and how aroused (calm or excited) it made them feel, both on scales from 1 to 9. Twelve hours later, the researchers mixed 120 new pictures in with the original batch and again had the volunteers rate the pictures, this time also asking them if they remembered seeing the picture before. To test how sleep would affect these memories and associated emotional responses, the researchers divided 82 of the volunteers into two groups. The "sleep" group had their first session of rating negative and neutral images at night and their second session in the morning after waking up; they were also hooked up to a device to record how much time they spent in the different stages of sleep. The "wake" group had their first session in the morning and their second session at night, and they were not allowed to take naps or consume alcohol during the day.To rule out that the possibility that time of day was having an effect on the participants' memory performance, the researchers assigned the remaining 24 people to "morning" and "evening" groups where the two sessions were only 45 minutes apart. Spencer and her team found that sleep improved the participants' recollection of both negative and neutral images. Moreover, people in the sleep group found the unsettling images in the two sessions equally disturbing, while the wake group found the images less disturbing the second time around. "Sleep protected their emotional reactivity," Spencer said, meaning it helped to seal in those negative emotional responses.
The researchers also learned that the amount of REM sleep — a sleep stage frequently associated with dreaming— the participants got didn't affect how well they remembered the pictures, but it did affect their emotional reactions to the pictures: Participants with the most REM sleep rated the pictures even more unsettling their second time seeing them. "Because REM is associated with emotional responses and not memory, it makes us think that sleep is really performing independent processes," Spencer said.
Not so clear-cut
The researchers believe that sleep's "protection" of emotional responses may have evolutionary roots. "If somebody or something attacks you, you want to remember the emotions you felt so that you can avoid them," Spencer explained. But today, this ability may be a hindrance — if you're a war veteran, for example, you likely don't want to remember each and every enemy you came across while in service. "So there are obvious implications for PTSD," Spencer said. "Should we have people sleep or should we sleep deprive them?"
Stephan Hamann, who studies the relationship between sleep, memory and emotion at Emory University in Georgia, said that the answer to that question is not clear-cut. "[The researchers] essentially didn't find what another study has found," Hamann, who was not involved with the research, told LiveScience. Very little research has been devoted to teasing out the relationship between sleep and emotional memory, but the new study will stimulate more interest in the topic, he added. [5 Fun Facts About Sleep]
Spencer is now looking to see what effects sleep may have on positive emotional memories.
Even though it's still not clear if sleep reduces or enhances the emotional tone of a memory, Hamann notes that the study did show that sleep improves memory, even for those memories that aren't emotionally charged. 'It reinforces the idea that sleep is generally beneficial," he said.
The study is published Jan. 18 in The Journal of Neuroscience. LiveScience.com