September 27th, 2012

Table of Contents:

It’s Time for Fall Savings (Industry)

Must-Have Foods (Senior nutrition)

More About Diet (Hold the salt)

Decision-Making and White Matter (Cognitive health)

More About the Brain (Neuroscience)

Myth Bustin’ (Medical research)

Men Who Hate Seeing the Doctor (Successful aging)

Time of the Season (Thought for the day)

It’s Time for Fall Savings

by American Senior Fitness Association

The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) hopes that you’ve had a great summer.

Now, to help welcome Fall, we’re offering savings on all of our award-winning professional education programs. So if you’re ready to add a senior-specific fitness credential to your resume, to earn continuing education credits accepted by most fitness organizations or do both, be sure to place your order by Monday, October 8, 2012.

Plus, here’s extra good news for early birds! Order your program by Monday, October 1, and SFA will pay the shipping on U.S and Canadian orders.

Please click here to view discount fees or order online. You can also call SFA at 88-689-6791 to take advantage of this opportunity.


Must-Have Foods

by American Senior Fitness Association

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges people of all ages to follow a balanced, complete and nutrient-dense diet plan. However, it has also identified certain nutrients that seniors should take special care not to skip. They include dietary fiber, potassium, vitamins B-12 and D, calcium and the right kinds of fats. Fiber can be obtained from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Some breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin B-12, which can also be found in lean meats, seafood and fish. Calcium and vitamin D come in fish, leafy greens, non-fat or low-fat diary foods and fortified products. Saturated fats and trans fats should be replaced with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. These hints may be particularly helpful to older adults with special nutritional needs.


More About Diet

by American Senior Fitness Association

Here’s an important news alert for Americans and Canadians, especially persons with high blood pressure. A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) revealed that international fast-food chains consistently put more salt in food items sold in the United States and Canada, compared to the same items when sold in other developed nations.

Researchers determined the salt content of major fast-fare restaurant items in the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The chains that were looked at in the study included Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway. The types of foods that were studied included burgers, sandwiches, french fries, pizza, savory breakfast items, chicken items and salads.

Overall, the researchers learned that the sodium content of comparable food items varied greatly from country to country, but that fast-food in the U.S. and Canada contained a lot more sodium than that in France and the U.K. An example provided by a CMAJ news release illustrates the findings: In Canada, a 3-1/2 ounce serving of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets had 2-1/2 times more sodium than the same size serving in the U.K. That’s 600 milligrams of sodium, compared to 240 milligrams — or 1.5 grams of salt compared to 0.6 grams. In summary, fast-food giants are selling the same products on the American continent and overseas, but with significantly lower sodium content abroad.


Decision-Making and White Matter

by American Senior Fitness Association

A recent imaging study indicated that there is a decline with aging in an individual’s ability to make decisions in situations that are new to him or her. This appears to be due to changes in the white matter of the brain, according to research conducted at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

To better understand this research, note the following brief descriptions of certain parts of the brain:

  • Medial prefrontal cortex (located within the cerebral cortex): it plays an important role in decision-making;
  • Ventral striatum (located more deeply in the brain): it is involved in motivational and emotional behaviors; and
  • Thalamus (also located deeper in the brain): it is a complex, sophisticated relay center.
  • Researchers found that age-related losses in decision-making capability are connected with a weakening of two white-matter pathways linking the medial prefrontal cortex with the ventral striatum and the thalamus.

    The 25 adult subjects of the study (ages 21 to 85) undertook a cognitive task that involved money and also underwent MRI brain scans. The study’s lead author Gregory Samanez-Larkin stated in a Vanderbilt University news release: "The evidence that this decline in decision-making is associated with white-matter integrity suggests that there may be effective ways to intervene. Several studies have shown that white-matter connections can be strengthened by specific forms of cognitive training."

    Editor’s note: For an in depth exploration of cognitive health in seniors, enroll in the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) distance-learning program "Brain Fitness for Older Adults: How to Incorporate Cognitive Fitness into Physical Activity Programming."


    More About the Brain

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Recent research undertaken at NYC’s State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, and published in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, indicated that worrying may have evolved in conjunction with intelligence as a critical survival mechanism in human beings.

    Scientists compared research subjects who had generalized anxiety disorder with subjects who did not have the disorder. They discovered that worry as well as high intelligence were connected with specific brain activity, measurable by changes in the brain’s white matter. The results suggest that anxiety (worry) may have evolved right alongside intelligence as an important means of survival.

    In a medical center news release, Professor Jeremy Coplan said: "While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be… In essence, worry may make people ‘take no chances,’ and such people may have higher survival rates. Thus, like intelligence, worry may confer a benefit upon the species."


    Myth Bustin’

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    An interesting investigation conducted recently by a University of Florida physician and his colleagues found that, contrary to popular belief, patients at teaching hospitals don’t fare worse when trainee doctors come on board. For details, see the following news release from UF&Shands Newsnet:

    A University of Florida physician and colleagues have “mythbusted” a notion long held in medical circles: patients at teaching hospitals fare worse in July when new medical graduates start their residency training and older residents take on more responsibilities. A large national study revealed no such “July phenomenon” or “July effect” — at least not in the field of neurosurgery.

    The findings were published recently in the journal Neurosurgery.

    “If anything goes wrong in July, then everyone’s quick to say ‘Do you see? It’s because of the July effect’ — but we saw no evidence for that,’ said senior author Dr. Brian Hoh, the William Merz associate professor of neurological surgery at the UF College of Medicine. “This study will raise thoughts and ideas about how we can improve training for residents and improve safety for patients.”

    The July phenomenon is infamous both among physicians and patients. Conventional wisdom has it that if you are going to be a patient at a teaching hospital, try not to go in July.

    The graduate medical year starts on July 1, at which time recent medical school graduates start bearing responsibility for patients for the first time, and previous interns and residents move up a level, taking on new and unfamiliar tasks.

    Previous studies of the July phenomenon in fields such as general surgery, obstetrics, gynecology and internal medicine have yielded inconsistent results, some finding an effect and others finding none. Hoh, a member of UF’s McKnight Brain Institute, wanted to see what happens in neurosurgery, where doctors train for many years to gain proficiency in complex and delicate brain surgeries. One earlier study of pediatric neurosurgery found no effect, whereas another study found a small effect.

    Seeking a clearer view, Hoh and colleagues at UF and Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed more than 850,000 teaching hospital admission and patient-outcome records from a database called the National Inpatient Sample. They assessed the rates of patient deaths and surgical complications in July compared with all other months, from 1998 to 2008.

    The researchers evaluated four brain conditions that were representative of diseases commonly treated at teaching hospitals: nontraumatic hemorrhage, central nervous system trauma, central nervous system tumor and hydrocephalus.

    After taking variations in patient demographics and hospital characteristics into account, the researchers found that the risk of death or complications at teaching hospitals was the same in July as in other months. The results reflected those at nonteaching hospitals used for comparison.

    “If you’ve got new physicians on the job and you’ve got physicians that have just been promoted to a new level, it’s sort of the perfect storm for medical errors — it makes intuitive sense, but for a variety of peculiar reasons it’s just not the case,” said Dr. Hunt Batjer, the Lois C.A. and Darwin E. Smith Distinguished Chair in Neurological Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and chair of the Residency Review Committee for neurological surgery of the
    Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the body that certifies post-medical school training for the entire U.S. Batjer was not involved in the study.

    The authors say multiple layers of supervision seem to more than compensate for the inexperience of young physicians, providing a safety net for patients.

    “Maybe in July, that oversight is heightened because supervising physicians pay more attention to what new residents and interns are doing,” said Hoh, who practices at Shands at UF medical center.

    Still, the researchers point out, there might have been near misses in which errors or complications were averted, but there was no way to identify from the database whether such occurrences increased in July compared with other months.

    “In some ways, I hope people continue to talk about the July effect or the August effect,” Batjer said. “It will force us to remain vigilant.”


    Men Who Hate Seeing the Doctor

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health-fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today Jim talks common sense to an older gentlemen who, for his own good, needs a reality check.

    DEAR JIM: I’ve had a sharp pain in my lower abdomen for the past several months. It hurts like the dickens, but it comes and goes, so I haven’t been too worried about it. My wife keeps telling me to go to the doctor and have it checked, but I’ve managed to get by without seeing a doctor for the past 20 years, so why should I start now? I’m 72, and I already know I don’t take very good care of myself. I’m an overweight couch potato and proud of it, and I enjoy my TV, a good cigar and a cold beer before I go to bed every night. My wife says I’m just an old fool, and maybe she’s right, but as long as I can still tolerate the occasional pain, why should I worry? It can’t be that bad if it hasn’t killed me yet, right? Ha, ha! OLD FOOL IN FARGO

    DEAR OLD FOOL: I have to agree with your wife on this one. You really are an old fool, aren’t you? Worse, a stubborn old fool. However, you’re in good company with a lot of other old fools — and young ones too. There’s a reason why women outlive men on the average, and you’re the proof.

    A national survey by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (LUCSSM) found that women were three times more likely than men to see a doctor on a regular basis. In fact, the study indicated that "trying to get a man to a doctor can be harder than pulling teeth." Come on! I’m a guy, but even I don’t understand that kind of nonsense. Why do you hate going to the doctor so much?

    "There could be as many answers to that question as male patients that I see, but more often than not it’s that it’s not a priority for them," says Timothy Vavra, DO, Loyola University Health System physician and associate professor of internal medicine at LUCSSM. "They’re not willing to make a lifestyle change, so they think it’s a waste of time listening to a doctor tell them to change the way they eat, to start exercising and stop smoking if they’re not going to do it anyway."

    According to Dr. Vavra, this kind of obstinate thinking just doesn’t add up. "The longer a person puts off seeing a doctor, the more likely they’ll have to see a doctor on a regular basis," he says. "Prevention isn’t a hundred percent, but we can address issues and keep an eye out for warning signs. I have patients that, if they would’ve seen me more regularly, we could have made little changes that would have helped prevent them from having a medical crisis that resulted in a complete lifestyle change."

    Are you afraid that if you see a doctor you might find out something is wrong with you? Well, the longer you wait, the more that just might turn out to be true.

    "If you wait until you have a health crisis, it’s no longer preventive care," adds Dr. Vavra. "It’s secondary care, and that may include surgery and/or hospital stay. Instead of making a simple change in diet and lifestyle, a person will have to make significant changes and often be on medications. Having to see specialists, paying for procedures and taking daily medications can really affect a person’s financial health."

    And, what kind of example are you setting for the young men in your family who look up to you as a parent, grandparent or relative if they see you neglecting your health and making lame excuses about not going to the doctor. My advice is to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you do find something wrong, deal with it. If you don’t find anything wrong, change your lifestyle and move forward so that your next appointment won’t be so traumatic. Either way, you’ll be glad you did. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your wife.


    Time of the Season

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    "Every leaf speaks bliss to me,
    fluttering from the autumn tree."

        – Emily Bronte