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Bouts of dizziness are common for seniors, with 30 percent of people over age 60 and 50 percent of people over age 85 experiencing dizziness. But while this issue is common, that does not mean it can be shrugged off as a natural part of aging.

With the right care, dizziness can often be treated. Here are five things that can cause dizziness and what can be done to treat it.

Vertigo

You may think vertigo and dizziness are the same thing, but vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness in which individuals feel like their world is spinning. The most common kind of dizziness for seniors is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is caused by crystals in the inner ear becoming dislodged. If BPPV is the cause of your dizziness, it can be treated with some simple maneuvers that help the crystals move back into place.

“Vertigo can not only be frustrating for seniors, but it can also be deadly,” says Clay Gardner, executive director at Vista Knoll Specialized Care Facility. “Untreated, dizziness can lead to falls, which can cause broken bones and even death. Getting appropriate treatment can help cure vertigo and avoid dangerous complications.”

Infections

Sudden vertigo that lasts up to a week could be the result of a prior infection. Vestibular neuritis is often caused by a viral respiratory illness like the flu that causes the nerve cells in the inner ear to become inflamed. Vertigo caused by infections can be treated with anti-nausea medication or physical therapy. Steroids for inflammation can also help bring down the swelling in the inner ear.

Medications

Some medications can cause dizziness, especially among elderly patients. For people with high blood pressure, hypertension medication could be to blame for dizziness that happens when they get up too quickly. Other medications like salicylates and some cancer drugs can cause permanent damage to the inner ear, affecting a person’s hearing and balance. Unfortunately, people who are taking medicine for dizziness could actually end up with more dizziness, as some sedatives can worsen the symptoms.

Meniere’s Syndrome

If you have dizziness along with ringing in your ear, distorted hearing, and nausea, you may have Meniere’s syndrome. These attacks can last for a few minutes or for several hours. Meniere’s can be treated on several fronts, including diet and medication. Limiting salt and caffeine can help, and anti-nausea medication might provide some relief.

Stroke or TIA

Strokes, or transient ischemic attacks (TIA), aren’t the most common reasons for dizziness in seniors, but they are one of the most serious. Because time is of the essence when treating a stroke, it is important to rule stroke out when sudden dizziness occurs. Symptoms of a stroke can be similar to vestibular neuritis, so you should seek medical attention the first time you experience dizziness to figure out what is causing it. People who are having a stroke often have other symptoms like confusion, numbness, or slurred speech. Even without other symptoms, someone with dizziness could still be having a stroke or TIA, which can lead to a stroke.

Dizziness is a common complaint among seniors, but it does not need to be a fact of life. If you are experiencing dizziness, get medical attention. Your doctor can help determine what is causing your dizziness and figure out the best treatment.

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You probably don’t remember having chickenpox as a child or getting a chickenpox vaccine. You probably haven’t given the illness a passing thought in decades. But you might want to think about it now. While chickenpox is usually an illness reserved for children, it can come roaring back in adulthood as shingles.

If you have had chickenpox, you are at risk of shingles, and you won’t soon forget the severe pain it can cause. There is no telling if and when shingles will strike, but luckily there are vaccines available to help prevent it. Here are a few things you should know about shingles.

What Is Shingles?

Shingles is an illness that is related to chickenpox and caused by the same virus: the varicella-zoster virus. Before the chickenpox vaccine was developed, most children got chickenpox at some point. After you contract chickenpox, the virus remains in your body. Later in life, the virus can become active again and cause shingles.

Most children today receive a chickenpox vaccine. Like the natural virus that causes chickenpox, the vaccine virus can also become active later in life and cause shingles. However, people who had a chickenpox vaccine have a lower risk of getting shingles than people who had chickenpox.

What Are the Symptoms?

The first sign of shingles is usually pain, which can be severe. After a few days, a person with shingles may develop a rash and fluid-filled blisters. Shingles can also cause burning, numbness, itching, and sensitivity to touch. It usually affects only one area of the body at a time, often appearing as a stripe of blisters on one side of the torso. People with shingles are contagious to those who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, but they are only contagious while they have open sores. If somebody catches the virus from a person with shingles, they will develop chickenpox, not shingles.

Who Is at Risk?

If you have had chickenpox, you can get shingles at some point during your lifetime. Almost one in three Americans will get shingles at least once, and the risk increases with age. Older adults and people with a weakened immune system have a higher likelihood of being hospitalized with complications. The most common complication of shingles is severe pain after the shingles rash has healed, and the risk for this complication also increases with age.

How Is It Treated?

There are some medications available that can improve some of the shingles symptoms. These antiviral medicines do not cure shingles, but they can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of the illness. Contact your doctor when shingles symptoms appear and start treatment as soon as possible. Other treatments for shingles include pain management options like numbing cream and pain relievers.

Can Shingles Be Prevented?

A shingles vaccine can lower the risk of getting the illness. A new vaccine, Shingrix, was approved in late 2017 and is much more effective than previous vaccines. Shingrix is 97 percent effective for people ages 50–69 and 91 percent effective for people over age 70. It is recommended for everyone over age 50, even if they have been vaccinated in the past or if they have had shingles.

“Although most people who get shingles only get it once, it is possible to get it multiple times,” says Skyler Peterson, executive director at Carrollton Health and Rehabilitation Center. “The risk of getting more than one bout of shingles is higher for elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. It is important to get the shingles vaccine, whether or not you have had the illness, to help prevent recurrences.”

If you think you may have shingles, visit your doctor as soon as possible to get treatment. If you haven’t had shingles, or even if you have, get a vaccine to give yourself the best protection from the illness.

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Getting some shut-eye can be one of the best parts of the day, but as you age, it can become more difficult to do so. Older adults can have a more difficult time getting to sleep, whether it is due to medications, stress, or other factors.

Anh Nguyen, PACC Resource for Ensign Services, says many elderly people suffer from insomnia and are sleepy during the day. “Excessive tiredness is not only frustrating, but it can lead to difficulty driving and performing other daily activities,” she says. “It is important for people suffering from sleep problems to talk to their doctor about changes that can help them sleep better.”

Although sleep troubles are common among the elderly, you don’t have to chalk it up to getting older. Some lifestyle changes can make a big difference in getting a good night’s sleep. Here are a few things you can do—or not do—to make your sleep more sound.

Don’t Self-medicate

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, it is important to talk to your doctor before you head to the pharmacy and grab some over-the-counter sleep aids. A recent poll found that 46 percent of older adults have trouble falling asleep one night or more each week, but most of them did not talk to their doctor about the problem. Of those polled, 14 percent said they regularly take a medication or supplement to help them sleep. However, sleep aids are not meant to be used long-term and can cause problems for elderly individuals. Older people can experience confusion, constipation, and a higher risk of falls. Before reaching for a sleep aid, talk to your doctor about the best way to tackle your sleepless nights.

Cut Back on Alcohol

People who have trouble sleeping may use alcohol to help them fall asleep. While alcohol can make a person fall asleep faster, it can also have some unintended consequences that lead to a lower quality of sleep. Alcohol can cause a person to wake up frequently at night and earlier in the morning, both of which may make a person tired during the day.

Get Your Snoring Checked

A major contributor to disrupted sleep and feeling tired during the day is sleep apnea, though many people may not know they have it. Sleep apnea causes a person to stop breathing for periods as they sleep. If people tell you that your snoring can be heard in other rooms or that you stop breathing at night, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea.

Practice Better Hygiene

One tip that is often recommended for better sleep is something called “sleep hygiene.” Sleep hygiene includes all the activities you do during the day that affect how well you sleep at night. Good sleep hygiene practices include establishing a regular bedtime, staying away from caffeine within a few hours of bedtime, and starting a pre-bed ritual. It also helps to take a short afternoon nap and exercise regularly.

Create a Calming Sleep Environment

Make your bed and your bedroom a restful sanctuary. Keep it cool, dark, and quiet, and try using blackout curtains and earplugs to tune out the noise and light. Make your room a calm place, without bright and loud electronics. Keep a book by your bedside rather than a screen.

If going to sleep is difficult for you, you are not alone. Many older adults have a hard time falling asleep for a variety of reasons. Give these tips a try, and be sure to talk to your doctor about any underlying problems that could be contributing to your sleep issues.

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Joint pain is a common malady debilitating many people. Millions of Americans suffer from joint pain, and arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the country.

For people who struggle with daily pain in their joints, the search for relief can be constant. The good news is there are some natural and tasty options that may help keep joint pain at bay. Certain foods contain anti-inflammatory components that are beneficial for joint-pain sufferers. Here are six foods that can help relieve inflamed joints.

Cherries

Studies have shown cherries reduce inflammation due to the anthocyanins that give them their bright red color. If cherries aren’t your flavor, other dark berries like blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries also provide similar benefits for your joints.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has a wide array of health benefits, and it can help with joint pain as well. Some research has shown the diet can reduce pain in osteoarthritis sufferers. The diet generally consists of fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats like olive oil, high amounts of fish, and low amounts of red meat. It is believed to have benefits similar to using nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.

Fish

Certain kinds of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and pain. Good sources of omega-3 are salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring. Omega-3 can also be found in other foods, including soy, walnuts, pecans, and flaxseed.

Turmeric

Turmeric may not be a common spice for many people, but adding it to your diet could just be a matter of trying more exotic foods. It is commonly found in curry, as well as other Middle Eastern and South Asian foods. Studies have found the spice can be effective in relieving joint pain. It can be used as a supplement or just consumed in delicious food.

Healthy Oils

Extra virgin olive oil and other healthy oils have properties that can reduce inflammation and help with joint pain. Oleocanthal, which is found in olive oil, can have similar effects as nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin. Olive oil and other oils also contain omega-3 fatty acids.

According to Greg McCammond, executive chef at Mountain View Rehabilitation and Care Center, diet is an important part of joint pain management. “We use a lot of salmon, blue and blackberries, whole butter, green and herbal teas, tuna, yogurt, green curry and a lot of olive oil,” he says. “If you see a sheen on top of the toilet after you go, that’s a good sign that you’re getting an abundance of lubricating oils.”

Whole Grains

Whole grains can reduce inflammation by lowering the level of a certain protein in the blood. This protein, called CRP, is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other ailments. A variety of foods are rich in whole grains, including oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and other foods. Stick to whole wheat bread, rather than white bread, and pick whole grain cereals.

Living with joint pain can make some activities difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, eating right can help reduce this pain. Talk with your doctor about how to treat your joint pain and whether dietary changes can improve your quality of life. Then it’s time to eat, drink, and enjoy relaxed joints.

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Changes in hearing are a common part of aging. Almost half of adults over the age of 75 will have some degree of hearing loss. Changes in hearing can occur due to damage, illnesses, or even genetics.

Although many people will experience hearing loss in their lifetime, there are ways to protect your hearing. Taking care of your ears and preventing hearing loss can be as easy as following these four tips.

Protect Your Ears

Loud noises can damage hearing whether the noise exposure is brief or prolonged. Protect your hearing by wearing ear plugs or ear muffs when you are going to be around loud noises. Limit your exposure to loud sounds by moving away from the source and keeping volumes low in your home.

Spencer Eaton, executive director of Pinnacle Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, works with older individuals and has seen how common hearing loss is. “Exposure to loud noises is a common and preventable cause of hearing loss,” he says. “Use ear protection whenever possible around loud sounds.”

Clean Your Ears Properly

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary for most people to clean their ears frequently. Earwax is a natural production of the ears, and the ears are designed to clear the earwax out on their own. However, some people may find that their ears do not clean themselves as well as they should as they age. Hearing aids, extra ear hair, and the aging process may contribute to additional wax buildup that can obstruct hearing. If earwax does build up more than normal, over-the-counter cleaning products can help clear it out. A doctor can also use special tools to clean out the ears. Regardless of the amount of waxy buildup, foreign objects like cotton swabs should never be put into the ear canal.

Treat Illnesses Promptly

Upper respiratory illnesses can contribute to hearing loss if they are not treated appropriately. Get treatment promptly for illnesses of the ears, nose, and throat in order to reduce the risk of an ear infection. Some illnesses or medications can cause hearing changes, so be sure to consult your doctor if any sudden changes in hearing occur.

Get Hearing Aids

Hearing aids do not restore hearing loss, but they can vastly improve quality of life and even help prevent other impairments. Hearing loss can be difficult for people who find themselves unable to participate in conversations and daily activities. It can also be dangerous if a person is unable to hear a fire alarm or a honking horn. Recent research even suggests hearing loss can speed up cognitive decline in older adults. If you have suffered some hearing loss, talk to your doctor about whether hearing aids can help.

When you are young, protecting your hearing may be low on your list of priorities. However, your ears may feel the effect of those concerts and motorcycle rides. Take the time to protect your ears, whether from sound or illness, and you may prevent some hearing loss. If you do suffer from hearing loss, be sure to seek medical help. Hearing aids may not reverse the damage, but they can dramatically improve a person’s life.

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Losing strength and balance can be common consequences of aging, and living with these changes is rarely easy. It is frustrating not to be able to do everything you once could; it can also be dangerous due to an increased likelihood of falls.

Changes in mobility can make your own home seem like a dangerous place. However, there are ways to make the home a safer place for seniors. With a few alterations and upgrades, you can live comfortably in your home again or bring aging loved ones into your home safely. Here are six ways you can bring your home up to snuff for anyone easing into old age.

Avoid Tripping Hazards

Falls are a serious hazard for older individuals, often resulting in injury or even death. Fortunately, the necessary adjustments for avoiding trips are simple. Remove throw rugs from the floors as well as cords and other items that can be tripped over. Move furniture around so that there are large pathways that will be easier to navigate. Outdoors, make sure walkways are smooth and kept clear of debris. If possible, remove thresholds between rooms and into the home so an older person does not have to step over the threshold.

Eliminate Stairs

Stairs can be difficult for seniors to navigate, whether they are painful for aching joints, cause balance issues, or are just harder to climb than they used to be. If you are looking for a new residence that is senior-friendly, stay away from stairs if possible. When making changes to a home, trade the stairs for a ramp for a wheelchair. Leading up to the home, take out stairs and instead use an inclined walkway. Inside the home, be sure stairs have handrails and add nonslip tread to avoid falls. A stair lift can also be installed to help a person get up and down.

Install Better Lighting

Adequate lighting is critical for seniors, especially when their eyesight begins to worsen over time. Make sure the home is well lit in every room. Good lighting can help a person to get around their home safely and avoid tripping over objects or bumping into furniture. Put bright lights in hallways and stairs and add extra lamps. Outdoors, make sure pathways are well lit. Consider motion-sensor lights that will help keep the area bright at all times and will not need to be turned on.

Provide Easy-to-Use Appliances

One aspect of a senior-friendly home that may not be as obvious are the appliances. Appliances can become more difficult to use as eyesight declines and technology advances. Find simple, easy-to-read appliances, such as microwaves with programmed buttons. Look for appliances with an automatic shut-off, which will ensure they do not stay on if they are forgotten. Find appliances that may be easier for someone with limited mobility, like a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer. Adjust the water heater to avoid scalding injuries.

Renovate the Bathroom

The bathroom is a prime location for falls among the elderly, especially those with poor strength or balance. Several changes in the bathroom can help a person maintain their independence and reduce the risk of getting hurt. Install grab bars in the shower or next to the toilet to help with standing up and exiting or entering the shower. If a tub is being used, a bench or bar can help give support while stepping into or out of the tub. Shower chairs and nonslip mats also help prevent slipping while showering and bathing.

Ben Flinders, executive director of Park Manor Rehabilitation Center, works daily with seniors with reduced balance, which can make showering or using the bathroom difficult. “A slip and fall in the shower can lead to broken bones or even death,” Flinders says. “Installing bars and using seats to bathe will help prevent a dangerous accident.”

Make It Easy on the Hands

People with arthritis or weakness in their hands may find it difficult or painful to do simple tasks like turning on the lights or opening a door. Some relatively cost-effective changes can make these acts much easier. Change out light switches with a toggle switch and change doorknobs and faucets to levers. These alternatives can lessen the amount of force and grip strength needed.

A slip and fall and be life-changing, or even life-ending, for a senior. Make your home a safe and comfortable environment by making changes in layout, fixtures, and appliances. The changes are small, but the gains in safety are enormous.

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As people get older and circumstances change, their social lives can suffer. From the death of a spouse to family and friends moving on to new endeavors, a person may find him or herself suddenly socially isolated.

Eight percent of American seniors live in social isolation, and the situation can have a big impact on physical and mental health. Here are four things to know about the benefits of having an active social life and how to improve socialization.

Social Isolation Can Lead to Depression

Loneliness can lead to depression in older adults. People who are divorced or whose spouses have died may feel lonely and disconnected from other family members as well. Depression and loneliness can contribute to a lower quality of life. However, socializing with others and building new friendships can improve feelings of well-being and improve mood.

Socializing Can Benefit Physical Health

While socialization can improve mental health, it also has an effect on physical health. People who socialize with others and have a strong support system have been shown to live longer. Elderly people with a strong social network of friends and family may have a stronger immune system. This can help people fight off infections and improve overall health.

Cognitive Health Can Be Improved with Socialization

Social connections may help fight dementia and improve cognitive function. Researchers believe interacting with others can help people avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. People with large social networks of people to rely on and socialize with keep their brains active and focused, which helps cognitive function.

Look for New Ways to Socialize with Others

While socializing improves physical, mental, and cognitive health, it may be difficult to find new ways to spend time with other people. Look for opportunities to meet other people, such as visiting a senior center or volunteering with a group. If you are retired, get a part-time job that will offer opportunities to interact with new people. If you live far from family, consider moving closer. Moving into a retirement home may provide an avenue to form new friendships.

“Building new friendships can be difficult at any age, but some seniors who feel socially isolated may have an even harder time,” says KC Ellis, executive director of Copper Ridge Health Care. “Visit your local senior center to find programs designed for older adults. A senior center program can help you connect with people with similar interests and life circumstances.”

It can be easy for people to become socially isolated in old age as family dynamics change and friends move away. Staying socially connected with other people can have a positive impact on a person’s well-being. Make an effort to step outside of your comfort zone to meet new people and have an active, thriving social life. Whether you beef up old relationships or form new ones, your life will benefit from spending time with others.

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One of the most difficult decisions an individual or their children will face is when an elderly person should stop driving. Putting the car keys away can feel like a loss of independence, especially if aging has brought on other limitations in a person’s life.

The decision to stop driving can be difficult for seniors, and often the responsibility can fall to their children to spot warning signs. While taking this step can be life-changing, it can also save lives. Thousands of seniors are killed or injured in car crashes every year. Part of the reason for the high number of deaths and injuries can be attributed to increased frailty with age. However, keeping elderly drivers out of dangerous situations on the road can keep them from being hurt or killed in a crash. Here are four signs that a person should stop driving.

Deteriorating or Impaired Health

Some health conditions can make it difficult to drive safely. Parkinson’s disease can affect a person’s physical ability to drive a car well, while dementia can impair a person’s judgment behind the wheel. Other health conditions may require medications that would make it unsafe to drive. It is important to talk to your doctor about whether your health or medications stand in the way of your driving. “Medications can cause impairment for drivers, even if they cannot feel a difference,” said Etelka Bailey, executive director of Lake Ridge Assisted Living Center. “Be sure to discuss any side effects with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”

Sensory Impairment

Eyesight or hearing problems can make it unsafe to drive a car. Get regular eye and hearing checks to make sure you are still able to drive safely. A doctor may recommend that a person stop driving temporarily or permanently due to impaired eyesight or trouble hearing. Some conditions—like cataracts or macular degeneration—can make it difficult to see well at night, and hearing impairment can affect whether a person can react to dangers on the road.

Worsened Driving Ability

A person’s driving skills may decrease with age, making them hazardous behind the wheel of a car. Some signs that a person has become an unsafe driver include close calls while driving, driving at inappropriate speeds, weaving in and out of lanes, or hitting curbs. If these things begin to happen, it might be time to hang up the car keys.

Confusion

An important aspect of competent driving is the ability to maintain composure in the car. Getting confused while driving can put a person at an increased risk of getting lost or causing an accident. If a person begins to have a hard time following driving directions or gets confused when driving in unfamiliar places, it could be a good idea to find other means of transportation.

A lot can change for a person as they get older. While physical and mental changes do not always signal the end of driving a car, it is important to recognize when it is no longer safe to be behind the wheel. Watch for these critical signs to determine whether it’s time to find other transportation. Even if it isn’t time to stop driving, be sure to get regular checkups to determine whether any health conditions could cause impairment and get appropriate treatment.

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Every New Year inspires a wave of self-improvement, which for many people includes improving their overall health. Unfortunately, a recent study from the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology says only 8 percent of those who make a New Year’s resolution see their goals come to fruition.

Regardless of the specific goal, people establishing resolutions to improve their health need to start with a foundation. A nutritional foundation is required for anyone who is setting out to improve his or her ‘health’,” says Dr. John Young, M.D., a physician specializing in the treatment of chronic illnesses through biochemical, physiological and nutraceutical technologies, and the author of “Beyond Treatment: Discover how to build a cellular foundation to achieve optimal health.”

“Many of us want to lose weight, gain muscle and improve our cardiovascular endurance, but those goals cannot be accomplished without addressing the body’s fundamental needs. A healthy body begins with a healthy cellular foundation, and a healthy cellular foundation begins with what we’re putting in our bodies.”

A protein shake is a common way some people like to supplement their health plans, but Dr. Young says those health drinks are usually missing one or more essential components. He lists them and explains why they’re so important.

Whey protein

Whey can be a great option for protein supplementation assuming it’s of the highest possible quality. Look for protein powder that is cold processed (non-denatured), meaning it’s never heated to temperatures above 130 degrees. Also makes sure it’s made with milk from cows that haven’t been pumped full of hormones and that have been grazed on pesticide-free, chemical-free, natural grass pastures. Make sure the protein is completely free of chemicals, artificial flavors, and artificial sweeteners.

Omega oils

Because of their molecular makeup, flax seed oil and cod liver oil are two of the most important oils you can consume. They supply a number of important nutrients for nearly all systems of the body, including the heart and immune system as well as the brain. In order for these oils to be effectively incorporated by the body, they need to be hidden or emulsified into a protein so they aren’t destroyed during the digestive processes. This is a huge key that most people completely miss.

pH stabilization

pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity in your body and ranges from zero on the acidity end to 14 on the alkaline end. Evidence suggests that a healthy balance in pH increases strength in muscle and bone, improves brain function, and decreases the risk of chronic disease. Because our diets are so acidic these days, I use a pH balancing formula in my practice to help keep my patients in the stable pH range.

Along with the three pillars of Dr. Young’s approach to healthy protein shakes, he recommends appropriate amounts of fruits and vegetables and an overall balanced diet.

About Dr. John Young, M.D.
Dr. John Young is a medical doctor with more than 15 years’ experience working in emergency rooms and pediatric burn units. He’s the Medical Director of Young Foundational Health Center, specializing in treating patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes by addressing the physiological issues. He’s also the medical director of Young Health Products, a company that produces nutritional products developed by incorporating the latest biochemical, physiological and Nobel Prize-winning protocols. Dr. Young is the author of “Beyond Treatment.” 

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(Photo courtesy of A Stone’s Throw Winery)

Throughout the years, popping the cork has transformed regular gatherings into celebrations promoting love and well wishes for everyone sitting around the table. And now studies show red wine also has a place in promoting good health.

study published by the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research found that red wine contains active antioxidants like resveratrol, proanthocyanidin, and quercetin, which fight free radicals and decrease the rate of cell oxidation that contributes to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. “From these findings, it has been concluded that red wine as a diet supplement might be beneficial for cardiovascular risk factors,” says the National Institutes of Health.

But how is red wine good for you, and how much do we need to drink to reap the health benefits?

Why is red wine good for you?

As indicated in the NIH study, the magic in a glass of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot consists of antioxidants found in the grapes. “Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and prevents blood clots,” say the experts at the Mayo Clinic. Tannins also inhibit blood clotting, which improves circulation and opens up essential blood vessels. “Additionally, it has been linked to increased appetite, which can support increased food consumption among vulnerable populations like older adults,” says Emily DeLacey, MS, RD.

Related link: Chad Kearns: A Wonderful Experience is A Stone’s Throw Away

How much wine offers health benefits?

The key to maximum health benefits is moderation. “Drinking one to two glasses of red wine each day may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke,” says health writer Adda Bjarnadottir, MS.  “However, high amounts may increase the risk.” Drinking an excess of red wine contributes to high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, allergic reactions, certain types of cancer, sleep deficiency, brain damage, and an inflamed pancreas. Not to mention the increased risk of injury, violence, and even death. “Additionally, high intake can result in increased triglycerides and an irregular heartbeat,” says DeLacey.

Related link: 4 Delicious Ways To Add Fiber To Your Diet

But how can those who opt for, say, a diet soda over a glass of vino with dinner benefit from the positive effects of antioxidants like resveratrol? Experts agree that people who don’t already drink red wine shouldn’t start since red grapes don’t need to be fermented to produce health benefits. “Antioxidants are the body’s defense against molecular breakdown, which leads to chronic disease,” said Jenny Vote, RN, director of nursing services at Fort Dodge Health and Rehabilitation. “Although there are supplements available, eating a diet rich in antioxidants such as fruits (especially berries), nuts, beans, green tea, cinnamon, and tomatoes, among other foods, promote heart health, boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of some forms of cancer.” Along with red grapes, other sources of resveratrol include blueberries, dark chocolate, and even peanut butter.

But most experts agree that the wine and the atmosphere is what makes a healthy combination.  “If you’re going to drink red wine, this study is a good reminder to do it the old-fashioned way,” says Dr. James O’Keefe, chief of preventive cardiology at St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute.  “Drink it with a Mediterranean meal high in vegetables and fish and lower in meat, with fruit for dessert and using olive oil. Doing it in a social, relaxed setting also goes a long way to improving health and happiness.” 

This article was originally published by Orange County Register and republished here with permission.

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