On the heels of a World Health Organization analysis concluding that processed meat is a carcinogen and red meat a “probable carcinogen” comes a report from Germany linking both of these foods with an increased risk of ischemic stroke – the type caused by blockages in blood vessels supplying the brain. Researchers from the University of Wurzberg analyzed data from about 11,000 mid-life men and women in the U.S. with no other risk factors for stroke such as diabetes or heart disease. After following half of this group for an average of 22.7 years, the investigators concluded that those who consumed the most red meat had a risk of stroke that was 47 percent higher than those who ate the smallest amount of red meat. The investigation showed that eating other sources of protein such as poultry, seafood, legumes and nuts posed no additional risk of stroke. Among the men in the study, those who ate the most red and processed meat had a 62 percent higher risk of stroke than men who ate the least amounts of these foods. The researchers also found that the risk of stroke was 24 percent higher among study participants who reported the highest intake of bacon, sausage and other processed meats compared to those whose intake of these foods was lowest. Because this was an observational study, it doesn’t prove that eating red meat or processed meats caused the strokes that occurred among the participants. Instead, it indicates an association between red and processed meat and ischemic strokes.
Lutein is a carotenoid that can help to protect the eyes. Find out if you should take it, and what foods are good sources.
If you or someone you know is getting on in years, you may want to consider supplementing your diet with lutein. Lutein and another carotenoid, zeaxanthin, form the yellow pigment of the retina and absorb blue light, which is a potentially harmful component of sunlight. There is very good evidence that the lutein in food helps protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common age-related eye disorders. The best thing you can do for your eyes this month, and in the future, is to make sure your diet contains plenty of lutein-rich produce, including:
Fruits - mangoes, watermelon and tomatoes are good sources of lutein
Vegetables - corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash and dark leafy greens (such as kale, collards and bok choy) provide lutein
In addition to the foods listed above, you can get zeaxanthin from orange bell peppers, oranges, and honeydew melon. I recommend eating five to seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day. If you are unable to get adequate lutein through your diet, you may want to consider a vision-supportive supplement; talk with your doctor.
Are you nervous or anxious before going to the dentist? You’re not alone, but if you avoid regular check-ups or ignore tooth pain because of your fears, your dental health could suffer over time. A recent study from the UK suggests that those fears can be conquered by participating in cognitive behavior therapy - a form of psychotherapy that is effective at addressing other anxiety-related disorders. Researchers surveyed patients at a clinic run by the King’s College London Dental Institute Health Psychology Service. They asked the participants to report their levels of dental anxiety, general anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol use and oral health-related quality of life. Nearly all of the patients reported that they had problems with their teeth, mouth and gums that affected their daily lives and quality of life. All scored high enough on an anxiety scale to suggest a specific fear relating to some aspect of dentistry – the most common concerned injections and dental drilling. After an average of 5 CBT appointments, 79 percent of the patients were able to have dental treatment without sedation while 6 percent opted for dental treatment under sedation. The researchers reported that some of the patients assessed had psychological problems that went beyond dental phobia and required referral for help with those issues.
My take? In addition to CBT, you could consider consulting a hypnotherapist who specializes in phobias. Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and an expert in clinical hypnosis, notes that all fears - including fear of dental exams and treatment - are learned behaviors, and that anything learned can be unlearned and replaced with something positive. By training your body to relax, you can help desensitize yourself to your dental fears, Dr. Gurgevich said. He also suggests talking to the dentist about your anxiety before scheduling an appointment to have your teeth checked. The American Dental Association (ADA) gives the same advice and explains that getting your fears out in the open allows your dentist to adapt treatment to your needs.
A healthy diet can help the body in its efforts to heal itself, and in some cases, particular foods can lessen the risks of serious illness. To help reduce your risk of some types of cancer, try the following:
1. Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils and all foods that might contain trans-fatty acids (such as deep-fried foods).
2. Minimize or eliminate consumption of foods with added sugar and other sweeteners including fruit juices.
3. Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake by eating more cold-water oily fish, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts.
4. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.
5. Use hormone-free, organically raised and grown products whenever possible. Eat shiitake, enokidake, maitake and oyster mushrooms frequently.
6. Drink green tea daily.
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense of all commonly consumed vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of the DV for vitamin A and 88 percent for vitamin C. The Tuscan Kale Salad is one of the most popular dishes at True Food Kitchen, a line of restaurants based on Dr. Weil's nutrition insights. Here, on the restaurant's patio in Phoenix, Ariz., watch Dr. Weil and Chef Michael Stebner demonstrate how to make this traditional Tuscan salad that includes strips of Italian black kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, grated pecorino Toscano cheese and breadcrumbs. These bright, refreshing flavors combine to bring the sunny taste of Italy to your table.
Watch Dr. Weil make Tuscan Kale Salad and get the recipe here!
The Bridge Pose is a powerful tonic for body and mind. It provides an invigorating stretch for the chest, neck and spine. Traditionally, its benefits are said to also include:
- Calming the mind and alleviating stress and mild depression
- Stimulating abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid
- Rejuvenating tired legs
- Improving digestion
- Relieving the symptoms of menopause
- Reducing anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia
It is also held to be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis. See how to do the Bridge Pose.
Not all carbohydrates are created equal: some provide healthy nutrients, while others are more likely to simply raise your blood sugar levels. Find out what the healthiest carb choices are to add to your diet.
Looking for healthier, less-refined carb choices? These carbohydrates are minimally processed foods that are digested more slowly than refined carbs, and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They do not typically cause rapid blood sugar spikes and should be the focus of your carbohydrate intake. Common examples include:
1. Whole grains (such as dense whole grain bread, and intact whole grains such as basmati rice, barley and quinoa)
4.Vegetables and fruits
Add them to your grocery list and shopping cart for a healthier diet!
If a longer life is something you aspire to, four simple habits can make a difference in your longevity. Find out what they are, and make them part of your routine.
If living a long life is important to you, you may want to adopt some of the habits that supercentenarians have in common. Most supercentenarians - people who live to be 110 or older - share four lifestyle characteristics that may help explain their longevity. Throughout their lives, they remain:
- Physically active. Even as you get older, daily physical activity should be a priority. Modify your routine to incorporate small steps, such as daily walks, parking in the back of the lot, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking up hobbies that involve exercise, such as gardening, playing tennis or hiking.
- Positive. Maintaining an optimistic outlook is important to managing stress and preventing related health issues such as heart disease. You can easily train yourself to start looking at the glass as half full. Begin with some simple self-reflection and meditation, and use humor for coping with negative thoughts.
- Social. A network of family and close friends is vital to optimum health. You can enjoy the benefits of a well developed social life by spending time with people who make you happy, joining community groups or clubs, volunteering, and participating in support groups.
- Spiritual. Regardless of your religious affiliation (if any), feeling a connection with nature, a higher being or purpose cultivates spirituality, and is an important part of graceful aging.