If you’re over 50, you may be so busy that you don’t have time to read full health-related articles that concern people in your age group. Here are some recent, “snapshots” of current “Boomer” health issues that you may find useful:
1. Two Cups A Day Keeps The Cobwebs Away. A recent Harvard study revealed that drinking 2 cups of hot chocolate a day can keep your brain healthy, your thinking sharp, and your memory clear. The flavonoids in cocoa powder increase blood flow to the brain. More blood flow, more oxygen. Better brain. Cocoa also contains magnesium, which relaxes muscles and helps you relax and fall asleep faster.
2. Get Up and Move – to Beat Diabetes. Don’t take a nap after eating, take a walk. A recent study in Diabetes Care reveals that taking a 15-minute walk after eating reduces your risk of developing diabetes. Getting up and moving after eating helps lower your blood sugar level for hours.
3. A Simple Urine Test Offers Big Value. As people get older their kidney function usually decreases some. About 60% of older Americans will go on to develop kidney disease. An easy way to ward off kidney disease is to get a simple urine test that measures your GFR – glomerular filtration rate – or how fast your kidneys clear urine from your body.
The National Kidney Foundation recommends getting a GFR test once a year. Drinking more water as you get older is also crucial to good kidney health. Your “thirst mechanism” decreases as you get older and you may not be drinking enough water. Dehydration can set you up for kidney disease.
4. Turn off Inflammation, Turn on Your “Healthspan”. Researchers have agreed that inflammation can set off many age-related diseases like gout, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, even cancer. But even low grade inflammation that doesn’t turn into disease can decrease your “healthspan”, that period of your life spent disease-free, by decreasing how efficient your body functions.
Now researchers out of Yale University think they have found the major trigger, what they’re calling the Nirp3 sensor – that turns on inflammation as you get older. Being able to turn off, or even dial down, this sensor’s activation is key to increasing health and lifespan. The researchers are looking at several anti-inflammatory drugs, or dietary changes, that they feel may target this sensor to switch it off.
5. Avoid Alzheimer’s, Sleep Longer. Recent studies out of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that shorter sleep times and poorer sleep quality can lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. When you sleep, your brain “cleans” itself of substances that left there can build up into the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
If you don’t sleep long enough, or deep enough (frequent waking, restless sleep), this cleaning process is not very efficient and results in more amyloid substance buildup. The researchers feel that targeting poor sleep in older Americans – helping them sleep longer, better – could ward off significant numbers of people developing Alzheimer’s disease.
AARP Bulletin, October 2013.