The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

February 2, 2007              

Table of Contents

Live and Love (Introduction to special issue)
Ten Tips to Spice Up Your Life
(Heart-healthy nutrition)
Diabetes' Link to Heart Disease in Older Adults
(Medical research)
Take Heart
(A study finds it's never too late to boost health)
From the SFA Archives
(Marriage dynamics affect healing)
For Everything a Season
(Happy Valentine's Day)

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Live and Love

Heart_Image1You've heard the old maxim,
"Live and learn." Well, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, we're devoting this issue of Experience! to living and loving. The following three items provide ideas for loving and preserving our health -- including our all-important hearts -- through adopting better nutrition, demanding appropriate medical care, and embracing healthy lifestyle changes. The last two items pertain to loving each other!

Ten Tips to Spice Up Your Life

It's February, the Valentine month,
so everyone will be thinking and talking about matters of the heart. As reported by HealthDay, Dr. Suzanna Zick, a University of Michigan Health System researcher, has some tasty advice for replacing the excess salts, sugars, and even fats in our diet with zesty herbs and spices. Doing so can help to improve heart health, control blood pressure, and manage body weight. In addition, substituting the right herbs and spices for unhealthy seasonings can help to control blood sugar, may help prevent certain cancers, and certainly promotes better general health.

So, let's have some fun in the kitchen by trying out Dr. Zick's top ten herb and spice hints:
  1. Maximize a meal's natural flavors with parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and garlic instead of heart-risky fats and blood pressure-risky salts.
  2. Enjoy garlic in its most effective form. Dry garlic (or garlic that has been left sitting out too long) loses its health-enhancing powers. So, stick with fresh garlic and shoot for three medium-size cloves per day in order to gain optimal effects. It's worth it: garlic can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure.
  3. Also lower your blood pressure with "warming spices" such as pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Dr. Zick says they move blood from the body's center to the skin, thus distributing blood more evenly throughout the body, which may reduce blood pressure.
  4. Cut back on sugar to help maintain a healthy body weight. In place of immoderate amounts of sugar in dessert treats, substitute festive spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon.
  5. Ward off colds with rosemary, basil, and oregano. They contain essential oils that may help to keep colds and the flu at bay.
  6. Upset stomach? Have some ginger. It contains substances called gingerols that can help to alleviate nausea.
  7. Misplace those keys again? Try rosemary. It's an antioxidant believed to improve memory. It may also have a role in cancer prevention.
  8. Soothe a chronic cough with thyme. According to Dr. Zick, thyme is a traditional cough treatment that has even been used for the whooping cough.
  9. Ameliorate back pain with tumeric. It contains a substance called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory properties. Tumeric can be purchased separately, but is also added to curry blends.
  10. Enlist curry in the battle against cancer. Curcumin (described above) has been seen to reduce the size of pre-cancerous colon polyps.       

Diabetes' Link to Heart Disease in Older Adults

Researchers have long known
that diabetes raises the mortality rate from heart disease in young and middle-aged persons. However, it was less clear whether that held true for older people. Now a study, conducted by Kaiser Permanente researchers and published by the Public Library of Science online journal, has confirmed an increased threat to older populations as well.

Approximately 6,000 subjects, ages 65-plus, were studied for a period of 11 years. The results showed that those with diabetes were twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who did not have diabetes. The risk to participants who needed insulin injections was especially high.

The editors offered the following observations: Diabetes is a growing problem worldwide and by the year 2030, it may affect up to 300 million people (essentially doubling the number of cases now). Compared to seniors, younger patients tend to receive more intensive treatment in connection with cardiovascular warning signals such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Improving that situation could extend the lives of many older adults with diabetes.

Commentary from the American Senior Fitness Association: Don't ever let anyone tell you, "Forget about elevated cholesterol levels and hypertension, since they often develop with age." Insist on proper care! 

Take Heart

British researchers,
reporting in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, have concluded that persons age 60 and beyond can significantly decrease their risk for metabolic syndrome and, in turn, their risk for developing more serious health conditions.

Metabolic syndrome is comprised by a cluster of certain markers that increase one's odds of eventually developing diabetes and heart disease. These markers are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, and impaired blood glucose metabolism.

The research project involved 3,051 men ages 60 through 79. Although none of the participants began the study with diabetes or heart disease, roughly a quarter did have the metabolic syndrome. Scientists wanted to know: would positive lifestyle changes improve the outlook for these men's future health?

Happily, the answer they obtained was yes. It came to light that the more a man weighed, the higher his risk for metabolic syndrome. In men who had gained weight over the previous 2 to 4 years, more than 32 percent had metabolic syndrome. In those whose weight had stayed the same, 23.5 percent had the syndrome. However, in those who had lost weight, only 12.4 percent had it. In fact, men who lost weight -- but remained obese or overweight -- still reduced their risk for metabolic syndrome.

Cigarette smoking increased one's risk for the syndrome, but there was good news on that subject, too. The risk for ex-smokers who had given up tobacco at least 15 years beforehand was the same as the risk for those who had never smoked at all.

Physical activity was found to play an important part in reducing the risk for metabolic syndrome. Men with a long history of staying active had the lowest risk. Those who had become active during the past three years lowered their risk by an impressive 24 percent.  

From the SFA Archives

A while back
Experience! summarized an interesting study supporting the concept that a harmonious married life is good for one's health. The co-author of that study is named Timothy Loving -- we're not making this up! In honor of Valentine's Day, and for those of you who missed it the first time around, we're reprinting the piece below:

Research published by the Archives of General Psychiatry has found that the physical wounds of persons in hostile marriages take longer to heal than the wounds of those in agreeable marriages. The subjects of the study were 42 married couples.

Heart_ImageThe wounds of the hostile couples averaged one day longer to heal compared to the wounds of couples in satisfactory relationships.

Timothy Loving stressed the significance of these findings in terms of having surgery, according to the Pulse wire report. When wounds take longer to heal after a surgical procedure, it increases the patient's potential health risks as well as the cost of his or her follow-up care. Therefore, a positive marital relationship is desirable from both a physical and financial standpoint. 

For Everything a Season

St. Valentine would surely approve
of the sentiments expressed below. The English poet Robert Browning (1812-1889) bestowed a literary gift upon sweethearts of all ages when he crafted these beautiful words for his own true love:

"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'"

Experience! readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

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