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Startling Statistics: How America Is Aging

As baby boomers age, the US population is changing rapidly.  If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you are considered to be a baby boomer.

Let’s look at some statistics to give us a reference point. The day I am writing this is 06/01/2018 at 9:15 am. There are 51,930,539 people in the United States who are over the age of 65.

I got this information from https://seniorcare.com. They have a very interesting clock that calculates births and deaths by the minute.  They also state that 36, 924,413 baby boomers, i will turn 65 over the next 10 years. That’s a rate of 10,000 per day.

The date 2030 marks an important demographic milestone in American history. According to the 2017 National Population Projection by the US Census Bureau, 2030 is when all of the baby boomers will be 65. That means 1 in 5 US residents will be retirement age.

The US Census Bureau website also states that as of 07/01/2015, there were 47.8 million people 65 and older. This is a 14.9% increase from 2014. 

In 2000, there were 5.1 working-aged citizens for each retired person. By 2030 that number is expected to be 3.0, and by 2060 it is expected to fall to 2.5.  

What Else Is Affecting Our Population?

One of the major accomplishments of the Twentieth Century was the increase in the longevity of the US population. New medical devices, advances in pharmaceuticals, and an increasing emphasis on lifestyle have all contributed to an expectation of a longer life. 

A child born in 1900 could expect to live 47 years. Today, women can expect to reach 80.2 years and men can expect 77.8 years. Hey Ladies! We actually have an advantage over the guys in something.

The bad news is that women age 65 to 85, outnumber the men by 3 to 2.  After age 85 that number increases to 7 women for every 3 men.

This imbalance is expected to decrease in coming years because of the improved health in the male population relative to females. According to the Agency On Aging, the gap is expected to decrease to 5 women for 4 men by 2050.

What Does All Of This Mean For Baby Boomers?

The Congressional Budget Office states that baby boomers as a whole, are on track to have higher incomes in retirement than their parents do. They are also much less likely to live in poverty. However, the news isn’t all good.

  • About a quarter of baby boomers have failed to accumulate significant savings, and are likely to have to depend on government benefits. 
  • At least half are expected to maintain a similar lifestyle in retirement provided current government programs do not change.(That’s a Really big If!)
  • The remaining quarter may have a moderate decline in their standard of living. This could be offset if they increase their rate of savings, and work beyond the normal retirement age of 67. 
The Need To Plan For Your Retirement Is Greater Than Ever!

With a longer life comes a longer retirement, and an increased need to plan for it. Americans, as a whole, are doing very little to prepare for retirement.

According to gerontologist Harry Moody, retirement in the future will not look like it does now. Longer years and better health will continue to open up new opportunities. You may have second careers, meaningful volunteer roles, and continuing education perhaps even leading to a degree.

Early retirement may be a thing of the past. In the years after the passage of the law that created Social Security, there were powerful incentives to encourage people to leave the workforce to make room for the new generation.

In 1940, the average age for retirement with full Social Security benefits was 64. That age has now risen to 67, and will probably continue to rise as Congress looks for ways to make cuts.

Research from 2002 showed that one-third of men and nearly half of the women worked in “transitional jobs” prior to retirement. These are also referred to as “bridge jobs”. A bridge job usually means going from a full-time job to a part-time job before full retirement.

In a survey conducted by Robert Starck, 80% of baby boomers say they expect to work beyond the age that their parents retired. 

What Does This Mean For Us As A Society?

According to a report, “Aging In The US” byt the Population Reference Bureau, baby boomers are reshaping our older population. Here are some key findings from that report.

  • The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to double from 46 million to 98 million by the year 2060.
  • Their share of the total population will rise from 15% today to 24% by 2060.
  • The older population is becoming more racially diverse.The percentage of non-hispanic whites age 65 and older is expected to go down from 78.3% to 54.6%. 
  • Older adults are working longer.  In 2014, 20% of men and 15%  of women 65 and older were in the workforce. By 2030 those numbers are expected to increase to 27% for men and 20% for women. 
Challenges For Us As A Country
  • Obesity rates among older adults have been increasing. Currently about 40% of those 65 to 74 years old are obese. This will result in an added burden on our health care system.
  • There are clear indications of economic disparity between whites and non-whites. In 2014, 18% of older latinos and 19% of older African Americans lived in poverty.  The rate for older whites was 8%. 
  • More aging adults are divorced compared to previous generations. The percentage of women 65 and older who are divorced, rose from 3% in 1980 to 13% in 2015. The statistics for men were 4% to 11% in the same time period.
  • More than 27% of women age 65 to 74 lived alone in 2014.  This number jumps to 42% of women age 75 and older. (See my post about Living Alone After 50
  • The number of Americans needing nursing home care is expected to rise to 75% by 2030. Those 65 and older are expected to increase in number from 1.3 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030.
  • The demand for elder care will rise due to the number of Americans dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. This number is expected to nearly triple to 14 million by 2050 up from 5 million in 2013.

Finally, these numbers will further burden already overburdened Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs, possibly to the breaking point.

Congress is “looking at the problem”, but their only answer so far is to cut benefits. Rather than requiring the richest among us to pay their fair share, they are continually cutting the benefits of the most vulnerable among us.

The bottom line is that there are fewer people in the workforce to contribute to these programs and far more people needing them. Fewer people in the workforce also means fewer doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to care for this burgeoning elder population. 

Conclusion

I hope you found these statistics as startling as I did. I never like to present a problem without having potential solutions, but in this case I have none.  I can only hope that minds much more brilliant than mine are working on this, and I don’t mean Congress. They seem to be devoid of brilliant, willing minds to tackle this problem. (excuse me for editorializing) 

Before you go, please leave your comments, suggestions, or rants below. I always appreciate hearing what you think.

The post Aging Baby Boomers Are Changing The Face Of America appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Living With Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

In the last post, Macular Degeneration Is A Terrifying Diagnosis,  I explained that I was diagnosed more than 10 years ago. It was a terrifying diagnosis because I knew that at the very least my vision was going to become very poor, and at the worst, I could become totally blind. 

I am someone who has always lived to read and learn. I loved school, and from the time I first learned to read, I have read 2 or more books a week almost without fail. I have spent a lot of my spare time in bookstores and libraries.

But that was only a small part of the changes I would encounter as my disease has progressed. I have had to learn to live with readers and magnifying glasses in every room of my house, and I never leave home without them. I am to the point that I need powerful, 8X magnification, to read labels, and I even have to give up on some of them because the print is so small. 

I no longer read magazines or newspapers because it isn’t worth the effort. In fact, the only reading I can do is on my computer or on my Kindle. I am also building up my Audible Library.

Another adjustment has been TV and movie watching. Glaucoma is an eye disease that takes away your peripheral vision, but macular degeneration takes away your central vision. When I watch TV or a movie, the actors’ faces are just a blur. I can only recognize them by their voices. 

I have a TV in my living room, and my bedroom, and I had to upgrade both of them to much larger screens, and the latest in high definition. I also can’t use a laptop because the screen isn’t large enough. I have a desktop computer with a very large screen. 

I also had to give up my iPhone and get a Jitterbug  phone with really large buttons. If you have even minor eye problems, I can highly recommend this phone. It is so easy to use, and I can do it without my magnifying glass. It also has a button on it that will summon an ambulance fire department or police, if I needed them. 

Driving And Macular Degeneration 

Just a couple of years after my diagnosis, I had a scary incident driving at night. I was in a residential area so the lighting wasn’t very bright. All of a sudden, I couldn’t make out the curbs, and I became completely disoriented. Fortunately, I was only going a few blocks, but I was frightened enough that I gave up night driving on the spot. When you have macular degeneration, you need lots of light.

The loss of independence when you have to give up driving may be one of the worst things about this disease. You take it for granted that when you want to go somewhere, you get your handbag and your keys and you go.  With advanced AMD that independence vanishes. 

Sure, there are buses, cabs and Uber, but you still don’t feel completely independent. My freedom to come and go as I please has always been so important to me that the realization that it may not always be that way was devastating.

Most days I don’t think that much about my macular degeneration. I have learned to just live with it. I have so many other blessings, that I can’t complain. I am still able to do what I am doing right this minute, and that is a real blessing. (That shows up often in my Gratitude Journal.)

What Are The Risk Factors For AMD

At this point I am sure you are wondering how you get this disease, and what are the treatment options. As far as how you get it, scientists don’t really know. What they do know is that there are certain factors that are common to patients who have this disease. As for treatments, at the moment there aren’t any other than taking a vitamin supplement specially formulated for AMD.

So, let’s take a look at what scientists consider to be risk factors. Some of these have todo with heredity, but others are factors over which we have some control.

  • Age – This one is pretty obvious since this disease is called age-related macular degeneration. It usually occurs in people over the age of 50. In the US it is the most common cause of blindness in people in this age group.
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) – This is a condition where a substance called plaque builds up in your arteries. These arteries are responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood to your heart. This plaque buildup decreases the flow of blood not just to the heart, but to all organs including your eyes. The drusen (particles found in the back of the eye when you have AMD) are made up largely of calcium and cholesterol which are also the components of plaque.
  • Gender – Women over the age of 75 have double the risk of developing macular degeneration when compared to men of the same age. Low levels of estrogen may increase your risk. AMD is likely to progress to a stage of severe vision loss in women because we have longer life spans than men.
  • Genetics – Some studies have shown that AMD may be, at least in part inherited. Scientists have estimated that up to 70% of AMD risk is attributable to 15 genes. A simple cheek-swab test can assess your likelihood of the disease advancing to a late stage. Epigenetics is the study of what causes genes to switch on or off. You may have a gene for macular degeneration but, if other factors cause it to be dormant, you may not develop the disease.
  • Hypertension – Your eyes are the only place in your body where the small  blood vessels can be seen clearly. Doctors can look through your pupil at the blood vessels lying on top of your retina to look for damage from high blood pressure.  Hypertension has been shown to be a cause of weakened vessels that may disrupt the blood flow.
  • Inactivity – Our eyes can actually benefit from regular exercise just as the rest of our bodies. One study followed 4,000 participants, ages 43-86, for 15 years. After factoring in other possible risks they found that those who exercised regularly were 70% less likely to develop macular degeneration. This is not surprising since exercise and a healthy diet are key to eliminating high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
  •  Light Exposure – Light that enters your eyes has many wavelengths. One of them is ultraviolet light. The cornea and lens in your eyes absorb most of the ultraviolet light, but they let in the blue light. Too much exposure to blue light can damage the light sensitive cells in the retinal tissue. These blue rays can speed up the progression of AMD. This research is in its infancy and definitely needs more study. However, many doctors are concerned about blue light exposure that comes from computer screens, smartphones, and  other digital devices. The jury is still out on this, but one thing they do know for sure, and that is the cellular damage that can come from the sun. This sun exposure to your eyes can lead to deterioration of the macula. Doctors recommend sunglasses anytime you are outside. These glasses should reduce exposure to these harmful UVA and UVB rays.
  • Obesity – There have been a number of studies showing a link between obesity and eye diseases in general, and AMD in particular. Obesity is a common risk factor for coronary heart disease and hypertension, both of which have been linked to AMD. Excessive weight has been shown to create problems that lead to the deterioration of blood vessels in your eyes. 
  • Poor Diet – The macula’s fragile cells are highly susceptible to damage from free radicals. The body fights free radicals with antioxidants. If you have a poor diet, lacking in antioxidants, your body can’t fight off these free radicals. An excessive intake of alcohol, saturated fats and cholesterol can deplete the body of antioxidants which can exacerbate macular degeneration.
  • Diabetes – Diabetes is an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates that leads to elevated blood sugar levels. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US. It weakens the blood vessel walls causing the small blood vessels inside your eye to become more fragile. Fluids and blood then leak into the center of your eye. The blood clots pulling the retina away from the inside of the eye. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes can also cause the macula to swell, and this has a similar result as the diabetic retinopathy.
  • Race – It is clear to scientists that certain racial groups are more likely to develop AMd. The risk is highest in caucasians followed by Asians and Hispanics. African Americans have a 70% lower risk of developing AMD than caucasians. Scientists don’t know for sure why this is the case, but they suspect that the pigment of the skin may hold the answer. 
Conclusion

This is a summary of potential risk factors for macular degeneration and a synopsis of what it is like to live with this disease.

If you, or someone you love, are over the age of 50, and if you have any of these risk factors, I encourage you to see an opthamologist for a checkup.

For insurance purposes you may need a referral from your primary care physician. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, and I’m sure a referral won’t be a problem.

An opthamologist can tell you if you have, or are likely to develop glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts or other eye problems.

In my next post I will talk more about this disease , what the scientists know about it, and what they are working on to hopefully find a treatment or even a cure.

Stay tuned for that, but before you go, please leave me your comments, suggestions, and your experiences with AMD. Thanks so much!

The post Macular Degeneration Part 2 appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Understanding AMD

Age-Related Macular Degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in people over 65. There are 26 million people living with AMD, and there are 5,000 new diagnoses every day due to an aging population.

This is a very personal issue for me. I was diagnosed  with AMD about 10 years ago. It is a terrifying diagnosis, especially for someone like me who just lives to read and learn new things.

There is no cure. I can only describe the feeling of living with AMD as waiting for a bomb to explode. For most patients it is a gradual progression, but for a few people, blindness can hit very suddenly.

In order to understand what AMDis, how it occurs, and how can we deal with it, I think it is important to know the basics of your eye structure. The following will describe each part of your eye and how it functions.

This is taking a very complicated process  and simplifying it so we can all understand this horrible disease. If you prefer to skip the scientific stuff, you can go to the next post. 

Understanding The Anatomy Of Your Eye

Your eye is an asymmetrical globe that is about one inch in diameter and about three inches in circumference. It is one of the most complex organs in your body. The parts of your eye include the following:

  • Sclera – The sclera is the white outer covering of your eye which we call, “the whites of your eyes”. Its main purpose is to protect the vital inner eye parts and to attach the eye to the six muscles that control eye movement. The sclera looks white most of the time, but there are blood vessels that can become swollen and make your eye look bloodshot.
  • Choroid – The choroid is inside the sclera. This middle layer is just above the inner layer known as the retina. The choroid is filled with blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the rest of your eye. 
  • Cornea – The cornea is a transparent dome-shaped structure that covers the front of your eye. Along with the sclera, the cornea makes up the outer surface of your eye that you can see. The cornea is your eye’s outer lens that functions as a window that controls the focus of light into your eye. When light hits the cornea, it bends the light into the lens. The cornea provides up to 75% of your eye’s focusing power. It doesn’t have any blood vessels so it gets its vital nutrients from the tears that cover it and from the aqueous humor which is directly behind it.
  • Aqueous Humor – The aqueous humor is a clear fluid that fill a small chamber between the cornea in front and the iris behind it. It flows into and out of the eye, but if this flow is not controlled it results in issues with eye pressure. Glaucoma, another eye disease associated with aging, results when pressure gets too  high. 
  • Iris – The iris is the colored portion of your eye which is just in front of the lens. The important job of the iris is to regulate the amount of light that gets through your pupil. Your pupil is the round opening in the center of the iris. It looks like a black spot in the middle of the colored iris. The iris has muscles that allow the pupil to get bigger.  When this happens we say the pupil is dilated. It will open up in low light and become smaller in bright light. 
  • Lens – Behind the iris is the lens. It is a transparent structure made of flexible tissue. It is thick in the middle and thinner at the outer edges. The elasticity of the lens allows it to change shape and focus on objects that are different distances from your eye. A healthy lens is clear, but when it becomes cloudy cataracts develop that adversely affect your vision.
  • Vitreous Humor – The vitreous humor is a clear, gel-like substance that fills the large central chamber of your eye between the lens and the retina. Since the gel is firm it helps maintain the spherical shape, supports the retina  and allows the light to pass through it. Unlike the aqueous humor, the vitreous humor does not move. If a substance enters the gel, it just stays there. These substances are called floaters. As we age the vitreous humor softens into a more fluid gel, and these floaters become more noticeable. If you begin to see large numbers of floaters, you should contact your opthamologist. It can be a sign of a detached retina which is quite serious. 
  • Retina – The retina is a thin layer of tissue that covers the back of the eye. Its purpose is to receive the light that is focused by the lens, convert it into neural signals, and send those signals to your brain. A human eye is sometimes compared to a camera in the way that it works. 
  • Macula – The central part of the retina is called the macula. It is what provides us with sharp, detailed vision. The sharpness is at its highest in the fovea, a small dimple in the middle of the macula. When we talk about AMD, this is the part of the eye we are talking about.
  • Rods and Cones – The layers of cells in the retina contain some special cells called rods and cones. They are referred to as photoreceptors because they respond to light. The long slender cells called rods are responsible for vision in low light and are essential for night vision. The cones work in brighter light and respond to colors. The rods and cones are not evenly distributed in the retina. There are more cones in the macular area and more rods on the outer edges of the retina. This is why detailed images are formed in the macula, and the rest of the retina provides peripheral vision. When rods and cones receive information provided by the amount of light present, they convert it into electrical signals that are sent to your brain through your optic nerve. 
  • Optic Nerve – The optic nerve is located in the center of the retina, in the back of the eye. It uses electrical impulses to transfer information received by the retina to the brain. The retina also contains ganglion cells which are special cells that receive signals from the rods and cones photoreceptors. The optic nerve in each eye contains approximately one million nerve fibers. The two optic nerves meet in the brain where the electrical impulses are converted to images.
So, How Do All These Parts Work Together?

As I said in the beginning, your eye is one of the most complicated organs in your body. It takes all these parts, working together to create an image in your brain. And this is occurring every split second of your day. 

Vision begins when light passes through the cornea which begins the focusing process by bending it. The light moves through the aqueous humor, through the pupil, and through the lens where the image is further focused. 

The image then travels through the vitreous humor where it is focused on the retina. The light stimulates the rod and cone cells that convert it into electrical signals which are sent to the visual cortex of the brain through the optic nerve. The brain takes the signals from each eye and creates an image. 

Discussion With Your Opthamologist

If you understand the basics of your eye structure, you will better understand your doctor’s explanation of your condition. If you are diagnosed with AMD, it is important to learn about the progression of this disease.

You will be using a testing tool, called an Amsler Grid (more about this in a future post), and you must be able to detect any changes in your vision. These changes will often be so slow that you hardly notice. But it is possible to have sharp, sudden changes with AMD, and these can be very serious. You must contact your doctor immediately if this occurs.   

In the next post I will talk about the risk factors, and what it is like to live with AMD. I truly hope none of you ever have to find out. But maybe you know someone who is struggling with it, and you want to know how you can help them.

But, before you go, please leave your comments, suggestions or tell us about your experience. Just scroll down to the Comments Section below. Thank you.

The post Macular Degeneration (AMD) Is A Terrifying Diagnosis appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Sleep Deprivation Is Hazardous To Your Health

According to Medical News Today, sleep deprivation occurs, “when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert”. We have all seen the guidelines saying that adults should get seven to nine hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep each night. They give us a range in order to make allowances for individual differences. 

Statistics show that 40% of Americans suffer from insomnia, and 30% experience a serious sleep deprivation at some point in their lives. 

It is normal to experience an occasional night, or even several nights in a row, when we don’t get adequate sleep. But when it becomes a regular occurrence, there can be serious repercussions for your health.

Some of the consequences include poor job performance, an increase in accidents (driving, home and work), an increased incidence of obesity, emotional problems, and an increased risk of some serious health issues.

It’s not just a matter of feeling sleepy after lunch. Chronic, untreated sleep deprivation can literally be a matter of life and death. 

Facts You Should Know About Sleep Deprivation

The Following is a list of 10 things that can happen when you are sleep deprived. 

  1. Lack of alertness – Even a loss of 1-1 1/2 hours of sleep can have an impact on your work performance and an increased risk of accidents.
  2. Impaired memory – Lack of sleep can lead to an inability to think, focus, remember and process information. It may also have a  effect on your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. (More on this later in this post.)
  3. Depression – It is important for those who are dealing with depression to get the right amount of sleep. Not too much, and definitely not too little. 
  4. Lower sex drive – Too little sleep has an effect on a number of hormones including some that can affect your sex drive. 
  5. Irritability – Lack of sleep can affect your relationships with family, friends and coworkers. You may feel angry, anxious, or just annoyed, but if there is no logical explanation, check the number of hours of sleep you are getting. Sometimes relationships can be irreparably damaged just due to sleep deprivation.
  6. Weight gain – This one may surprise you, but the effect on certain hormones can cause your body to store fat. It can sabotage all your efforts to get to, or maintain a healthy weight. Two hormones in particular are impacted by lack of sleep. They are leptin and ghrelin which control feelings of hunger or fullness. Sleep deprivation can also cause a release of insulin which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  7. Cardiovascular disease – Quality sleep helps all the cells in our bodies to heal and rebuild. This process includes the cells of your blood vessels that can affect your heart, blood pressure and sugar levels in your body. 
  8. Infection – Prolonged sleep deprivation can impede your body’s defenses against microorganisms.  This can affect that cold you can’t shake or that cut that won’t heal. 
  9. Cancer – Scientists are just beginning to study the relationship between sleep deprivation and cancer. However, The Journal of The National Cancer Institute wrote, in 2003, about the disruption in circadian rhythm and reduced immunity as a result of lack of sleep. The preliminary research indicates that those of us who don’t get enough sleep may be a greater risk of developing certain types of cancer. Different kinds of cancer behave differently, but researchers believe that the risk is higher for breast and colon cancer.
  10. Genetic disruption – Poor sleep disrupts normal genetic activity. After one week of less than 6 hours of sleep per night for the subjects of this study, researchers found that more than 700 genes were not behaving normally. They included genes that affect the immune system and stress responses. Many of the diseases that affect us as we age are due to these two things.
Sleep Disorders And Alzheimer’s Disease

I told you I would get back to this because I know it is something that many of us are concerned about.

Recent research has shown that sleep deprivation interferes with the brain’s lymphatic system. There is a procedure that takes place during sleep that flushes away cerebrospinal fluid between the neurons in your brain.

Barbara B. Bendlin, PhD of the University of Wisconsin, Madison says, “…disrupted sleep, or lack of sleep may lead to amyloid plaque buildup because the brain’s clearance system kicks into action during sleep”. This study not only looked for amyloid plaque, but also for biological markers in the spinal fluid.

The researchers studied 101 people who were at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. They either had a parent who had it or they had the presence of apolipoprotein E gen. The participants were an average age of 63, with normal cognitive skills. 

There are 2 types of proteins that form to either block communication or obstruct the transport of nutrients to nerve cells, both of which lead to neurodegeneration. 

The study concluded that those who reported poor sleep quality, excessive sleepiness during the day or having other sleep disturbances had more biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid. 

Not all sleep disturbances resulted in a higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The exception was sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that wakes you up during sleep because you have stopped breathing. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t even remember it. Other times you will wake up gasping for air.

Most of the time sleep apnea is the obstructive type which means the throat muscles relax to the point not enough oxygen is taken into your lungs. You will then wake up to open your airway.

Another type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea. This occurs as a result of the brain failing to send the proper signals to the muscles of your airway. 

If you are concerned that you might have sleep apnea, please talk with your doctor. As you will see, there are serious potential consequences of lack of restful sleep. 

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Here are some symptoms to look for:

  1. Snoring – Does your partner complain about your snoring, or do you ever abruptly wake yourself up feeling short of breath. Snoring is the result of vibration of the soft palate in your relaxed airway which is the obstructive type of sleep apnea.
  2. Daytime sleepiness – This goes beyond the normal drowsiness you may experience after lunch. If your work is being affected by your inability to concentrate, or process information, or if you feel like you are falling asleep after reading or driving for just 30 minutes or so, the fault may be sleep apnea.
  3. Irritability – This is a bad mood, anger, or anxiety that has no other explanation. You may be depressed or have a quick temper that is due to lack of restful sleep. 
  4. Discomfort in your throat upon awakening – If you wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat that is not due to allergies, medication, or an impending, cold you may have sleep apnea. 
Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea
  1. Excess Weight – If you are obese, you have a four times greater risk of having sleep apnea. It is caused by fat deposits around your upper airway. 
  2. Being Male – Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women have an increased risk if they are overweight or have gone through menopause.
  3. Family History – You are at increased risk if you have family members who have sleep apnea. Talk with your family.
  4. Excessive use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers – These substances relax the muscles in your throat which can lead to lack of oxygen in your lungs.
  5. Smoking – Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
  6. Nasal Congestion – If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, whether from an anatomical problem or allergies, you are more likely to develop sleep apnea. 
Treatment For Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed in a sleep lab. You spend the night while technicians monitor your sleep to see how many times you are waking up. Some people actually wake up more than 100 times in a night, and they are often not even aware of it.

The most common treatment for this condition is Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure, or CPAP. This device is a small box with a mask and attached tube. You wear the mask when you sleep, and it delivers a continuous flow of oxygen to your throat and airway. 

Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

Remember when your mother harped at you about going to bed on time. Well, guess what? She was right! Having a regular bedtime and sticking to it is one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep.

It is also important to keep the same sleep schedule on the weekend. That is not to say you can’t have a late night out, but just don’t do it all weekend every weekend  if you want to avoid the hazards of sleep deprivation.

Here are some tips for things you can do to help you sleep.

  • Keep your bedroom dark – Be sure to turn off devices that emit light including your TV, laptop, tablet, and phone. (Yes, I said phone.) If there are street lights or lights from neighbors’ yards get some darkening shades or curtains. If that isn’t possible, consider a sleep mask.
  • Keep your bedroom cool – Cooler temperatures help promote sleep. A higher body temperature may stimulate the body and prevent sleep.
  • Your bed is for sleeping – Avoid the temptation to bring work to bed with you. If you work on your bed you may be inadvertently training your brain to be stimulated any time you are on it. It is also harder to leave those thoughts of work when you are trying to go to sleep. We have all had those nights when we just can’t turn off the thoughts and go to sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible – For this one you may have to enlist the support of family members. Remind them how important it is to keep to a sleep schedule. (Hint, Hint) Explain the potential consequences, and perhaps help them as well. If it is still noisy when you are trying to sleep, try earplugs. They aren’t ideal, but they will keep out quite a bit  of the noise. 
  • Get rid of worries before bedtime – I know. You are thinking, “Yeah! Right!” One way that might help is to make a list of the things you have on your mind. I mean actually write them down with a pen and paper. Then tell yourself there is nothing you can do about them right now, so you will address your concerns tomorrow. You can do this with a to-do-list as well. You have to really make the decision to do this, so your brain “gets it”. Something I do to calm down at night is to write in my Gratitude Journal. I have several posts about Gratitude Journals. Then, when I am trying to go to sleep, I have pleasant thoughts instead of worries. You need some time to decompress before you try to go to sleep. Avoid mentally stimulating activities just before bedtime.
  • Avoid eating just before bed – Eating a full meal 1-2 hours before bedtime can hinder your sleep. A study in 2007 revealed that a full meal 4 hours before bed shortened the onset of sleep compared to one eaten only 1 hour before going to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed – We know that caffeine keeps a person awake and alert, so that is the last thing you want to be eating or drinking before bedtime. Remember, chocolate has caffeine in it. Whether it is enough to interrupt sleep is still debatable, but if you are a heavy consumer of caffeine, you do have to add the amount in chocolate when you are tracking your daily consumption. 
  • Avoid taking long naps during the day – If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, it is really tempting to take a nice long nap during the day. A study 2013 revealed that a 30-minute nap in the afternoon would not affect your sleep at night. But it should be no more than 30 minutes and it should never be after 4 PM. 
  • Exercise regularly – Yes, another health benefit of exercise. To improve sleep quality or quantity it doesn’t have to be heavy exercise. Even some light stretching was shown to help in a 2013 study.
  • Get sunlight whenever possible– No, this doesn’t mean sun exposure as in baking in the sun. Just go sit outdoors for a few minutes on your breaks from work, or consider walking or biking to or from work. “Kill two  birds with one stone”. Sunlight affects our circadian rhythms which, in turn affect our sleep. The sun also helps our bodies absorb vitamin D which is essential for overall good health.And, you don’t have to be right in the bright sunlight to benefit. Even if you are in the shade, you are still getting benefits from the sun.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol just before bed – According to a study in 2015 intake before bed was a factor associated with poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation.
  • Sleep position – This is another factor to consider since each position has its pros and cons. However, many researchers have concluded that the highest amount of benefit came from sleeping on your left side compared to your right side, your back or your stomach. 
More On Sleeping Positions

As I said, there are pros and cons for each position. Sleeping on the left side reduces nighttime heartburn symptoms, improves digestion, and reduces obstructive sleep apnea. 

According to the Mayo Clinic Website, sleeping on either side can take the strain off your back and neck. They suggest you draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and insert a pillow between your legs.

Research has also found that sleeping on your side could help your brain in clearing out the waste that can lead to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Conclusion

These things may sound a bit “hokey”, but psychiatrists and psychologists know the importance of “imprinting” a habit on your brain. Don’t try one of these ideas once or twice and think it isn’t working and give up. It takes 21 to 30 days to form a new habit, so really give these things an honest try. You may be surprised.

If you have difficulty getting adequate sleep, I hope some of these ideas will help you. If you recognize any of the symptoms of a sleep disorder or sleep deprivation, I encourage you to see a doctor.

Before you go, please leave your comments, share your experiences or just give me some feedback. I appreciate my readers and I value your opinions.  

 

The post 10 Things You Should Know About Sleep Deprivation appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Sleep Deprivation Is Hazardous To Your Health

According to Medical News Today, sleep deprivation occurs, “when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert”. We have all seen the guidelines saying that adults should get seven to nine hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep each night. They give us a range in order to make allowances for individual differences. 

It is normal to experience an occasional night, or even several nights in a row, when we don’t get adequate sleep. But when in becomes a regular occurrence, there can be serious repercussions for your health.

Some of the consequences include poor job performance, an increase in accidents (driving, home and work), an increased incidence of obesity, emotional problems, and an increased risk of some serious health issues.

It’s not just a matter of feeling sleepy after lunch. Chronic, untreated sleep deprivation can literally be a matter of life and death. 

Facts You Should Know About Sleep Deprivation

The Following is a list of 10 things that can happen when you are sleep deprived. 

  1. Lack of alertness – Even a loss of 1-1 1/2 hours of sleep can have an impact on your work performance and an increased risk of accidents.
  2. Impaired memory – Lack of sleep can lead to an inability to think, focus, remember and process information. It may also have a  effect on your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. (More on this later in this post.)
  3. Depression – It is important for those who are dealing with depression to get the right amount of sleep. Not too much, and definitely not too little. 
  4. Lower sex drive – Too little sleep has an effect on a number of hormones including some that can affect your sex drive. 
  5. Irritability – Lack of sleep can affect your relationships with family, friends and coworkers. You may feel angry, anxious, or just annoyed, but if there is no logical explanation, check the number of hours of sleep you are getting. Sometimes relationships can be irreparably damaged.
  6. Weight gain – This one may surprise you, but the effect on certain hormones can cause your body to store fat. It can sabotage all your efforts to get to, or maintain a healthy weight. Two hormones in particular are impacted by lack of sleep. They are leptin and ghrelin which control feelings of hunger or fullness. Sleep deprivation can also cause a release of insulin which leads to increased fat storage and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 
  7. Cardiovascular disease – Quality sleep helps all the cells in our bodies to heal and rebuild. This process includes the cells of your blood vessels that can affect your heart, blood pressure and sugar levels in your body. 
  8. Infection – Prolonged sleep deprivation can impede your body’s defenses against microorganisms.  This can affect that cold you can’t shake or that cut that won’t heal. 
  9. Cancer – Scientists are just beginning to study the relationship between sleep deprivation and cancer. However, The Journal of The National Cancer Institute wrote, in 2003, about the disruption in circadian rhythm and reduced immunity as a result of lack of sleep. The preliminary research indicates that those of us who don’t get enough sleep may be a greater risk of developing certain types of cancer. Different kinds of cancer behave differently, but researchers believe that the risk is higher for breast and colon cancer.
  10. Genetic disruption – Poor sleep disrupts normal genetic activity. After one week of less than 6 hours of sleep per night for the subjects of this study, researchers found that more than 700 genes were not behaving normally. They included genes that affect the immune system and stress responses. Many of the diseases that affect us as we age are due to these two things.
Sleep Disorders And Alzheimer’s Disease

I told you I would get back to this because I know it is something that many of us are concerned about.

Recent research has shown that a lack of sleep interferes with the brain’s lymphatic system. There is a procedure that takes place during sleep that flushes away cerebrospinal fluid between the neurons in your brain.

Barbara B. Bendlin, PhD of the University of Wisconsin, Madison says, “…disrupted sleep, or lack of sleep may lead to amyloid plaque buildup because the brain’s clearance system kicks into action during sleep”. This study not only looked for amyloid plaque, but also for biological markers in the spinal fluid.

The researchers studied 101 people who were at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. They either had a parent who had it or they had the presence of apolipoprotein E gen. The participants were an average age of 63, with normal cognitive skills. 

There are 2 types of proteins that form to either block communication or obstruct the transport of nutrients to nerve cells, both of which lead to neurodegeneration. 

The study concluded that those who reported poor sleep quality, excessive sleepiness during the day or having other sleep disturbances had more biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid. 

Not all sleep disturbances resulted in a higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The exception was sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that wakes you up during sleep because you have stopped breathing. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t even remember it. Other times you will wake up gasping for air.

Most of the time sleep apnea is the obstructive type which means the throat muscles relax to the point not enough oxygen is taken into your lungs. You will then wake up to open your airway.

Another type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea. This occurs as a result of the brain is failing to send the proper signals to the muscles of your airway. 

If you are concerned that you might have sleep apnea, please talk with your doctor. As you will see, there are serious potential consequences of lack of restful sleep. 

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Here are some symptoms to look for:

  • Snoring – Does your partner complain about your snoring, or do you ever abruptly wake yourself up feeling short of breath. Snoring is the result of vibration of the soft palate in your relaxed airway which is the obstructive type of sleep apnea.
  • Daytime sleepiness – This goes beyond the normal drowsiness you may experience after lunch. If your work is being affected by your inability to concentrate, or process information, or if you feel like you are falling asleep after reading or driving for just 30 minutes or so, the fault may be sleep apnea.
  • Irritability – This is a bad mood, anger, or anxiety that has no other explanation. You may be depressed or have a quick temper that is due to lack of restful sleep. 
  • Discomfort in your throat upon awakening – If you wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat that is not due to allergies, medication, or an impending, cold you may have sleep apnea. 
Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea
  1. Excess Weight – If you are obese, you have a four times greater risk of having sleep apnea. It is caused by fat deposits around your upper airway. 
  2. Being Male – Med twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women have an increased risk if they are overweight or have gone through menopause.
  3. Family History – You are at increased risk if you have family members who have sleep apnea. Talk with your family.
  4. Excessive use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers – These substances relax the muscles in your throat which can lead to lack of oxygen in your lungs.
  5. Smoking – Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
  6. Nasal Congestion – If you have difficulty breathing through your nose, whether from an anatomical problem or allergies, you are more likely to develop sleep apnea. 
Treatment For Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed in a sleep lab. You spend the night while technicians monitor your sleep to see how many times you are waking up. Some people actually wake up more than 100 times in a night, and they are often not even aware of it.

The most common treatment for this condition is Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure, or CPAP. This device is a small box with a mask and attached tube. You wear the mask when you sleep, and it delivers a continuous flow of oxygen to your throat and airway. 

Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

Remember when your mother harped at you about going to be on time. Well, guess what? She was right! Having a regular bedtime and sticking to it is one of the most important factors in getting a good night’s sleep.

It is also important to keep the same sleep schedule on the weekend. That is not to say you can’t have a late night out, but just don’t do it all weekend every weekend  if you want to avoid the hazards of sleep deprivation.

Here are some tips for things you can do to help you sleep.

  • Keep your bedroom dark – Be sure to turn off devices that emit light including your TV, laptop, tablet, and phone. (Yes, I said phone.) If there are street lights or lights from neighbors’ yards get some darkening shades or curtains. If that isn’t possible, consider a sleep mask.
  • Keep your bedroom cool – Cooler temperatures help promote sleep. A higher body temperature may stimulate the body and prevent sleep.
  • Your bed is for sleeping – Avoid the temptation to bring work to bed with you. If you work on your bed you may be inadvertently training your brain to be stimulated any time you are on it. It is also harder to leave those thoughts of work when you are trying to go to sleep. We have all had those nights when we just can’t turn off the thoughts and go to sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible – For this one you may have to enlist the support of family members. Remind them how important it is to keep to a sleep schedule. (Hint, Hint) Explain the potential consequences, and perhaps help them as well. If it is still noisy when you are trying to sleep, try earplugs. They aren’t ideal, but they will keep out a lot of noise. 
  • Get rid of worries before bedtime – I know. You are thinking, “Yeah! Right!” One way that might help is to make a list of the things you have on your mind. I mean actually write them down with a pen and paper. Then tell yourself there is nothing you can do about them right now, so you will address your concerns tomorrow. You can do this with a to-do-list as well. You have to really make the decision to do this, so your brain gets it. Something I do to calm down at night is to write in my Gratitude Journal. I have several posts about Gratitude Journals. Then, when I am trying to go to sleep, I have pleasant thoughts instead of worries. 

These things may sound a bit “hokey”, but psychiatrists and psychologists know the importance of “imprinting” a habit on your brain. And don’t try something once or twice and think it isn’t working and give up. It takes 21 to 30 days to form a new habit, so really give these things an honest try. You may be surprised.

If you have difficulty getting adequate sleep, I hope some of these ideas will help you. If you recognize any of the symptoms, I encourage you to see a doctor.

Before you go, please leave your comments, share your experiences or just give me some feedback. I appreciate my readers and I value your opinions.  

 

The post 10 Things You Need To Know About Sleep Deprivation appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Now That Is Aging With Zest! by Sharon Davis - 11M ago
The Paleo Diet Is Rapidly Gaining In Popularity

Most nutritionists have concluded that the Paleo Diet, also called the Mediterranean Diet, is a healthy lifestyle for us to adopt. It actually follows what our ancient ancestors ate back in the Paleolithic Era millions of years ago. Back then there was no farming and definitely no processed foods or preservatives. The only food people had to eat was what they foraged or killed.

The reason many scientists and nutritionists believe in this way of eating is because they say we haven’t evolved enough, as a species, to digest and cope with processed foods and additives.  

Our bodies are also not designed to digest grains and certain vegetables because our ancestors didn’t grow these things. That is why wheat and gluten allergies are so common. 

So, What Can I Eat On The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo Diet consists of fresh meats, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and certain vegetables. There is nothing processed, nothing with  flour, wheat or grains, and nothing artificial.

Here are some of the more popular Paleo Diet foods:

  • salmon 
  • grass fed beef
  • fish and seafood
  • fruits
  • nuts except peanuts
  • avocados
  • coconut oil
  • fresh, free-range eggs
  • olive, flaxseed, or walnut oil
  • root vegetables

Foods To Avoid

  • cereal grains
  • wheat
  • dairy
  • refined sugar
  • processed foods
  • table salt (sea salt is ok)
  • hydrogenated vegetable oils
  • potatoes (sweet potatoes ok)
  • legumes (including all beans)
  • sugary drinks
  • grain based alcoholic drinks (beer, grain based whiskey)
  • “diet” drinks
How Much Weight Can I Expect To Lose?

The Paleo way of eating is not actually a diet. It is a lifestyle. If you are wanting dramatic weight loss, don’t expect it just by eating these foods.

In order to lose weight, you have to take in fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis, week after week. You can do it by eating these foods, but as with any weight-loss plan, you have to restrict your calorie intake. 

That said, you can expect to lose weight if you combine portion control with these foods and with regular exercise. This is especially true if you were not exercising before. You can actually lose 2-4 lbs. a week with some effort on your part.

However, the most important thing is how you will feel. You will have more energy, better moods, and you will look better. And we all know that when we look better, we feel better.

Here Are Some Tips For Living The Paleo Lifestyle

Unfortunately, the cheapest and quickest foods available today are usually the least nutritious. Our busy lifestyles have our children and grandchildren raised on a diet of processed and fast foods. The popular culture even makes eating real foods an unusual concept.

Even knowing the proven benefits, some of  you will never try the Paleo diet because you believe it is too difficult. However, living a long, healthy fulfilling life is well worth a few small changes. While not as easy as stopping at a drive-through, maintaining a Paleo lifestyle is realistic with a few tips.

  • Stay Organized The number one tip is to be organized and prepared. The biggest challenge will be having Paleo foods available at your home and planning your meals. You are much more likely to make healthy food choices if the right food  is readily available at home. 
  •  Change How You Shop– Find the best farmers markets, butchers and grocery stores in your area. Before going to the grocery have a list of items you plan to pick up. Also, shop the perimeter of grocery stores to avoid the aisles filled with processed foods. This may be difficult at first, but after a month or so you will know longer feel a need to check out the aisles with foods full of sugar.
  • Clean Your Pantry Clear your cupboards of all the cereals, pasta,   (This one is really tough for me.) and processed foods. Don’t worry. You will replace these foods with much more satisfying fresh and healthy foods.
  • Learn to Work the Kitchen Unlike a diet based on grains, there are many foods to eat on the Paleo Diet so you should never become bored. The best way to take advantage of everything nature has to offer is to brush up on your cooking skills. By combining the diverse flavors, there is an endless amount of tasty dishes to excite your taste buds.
  • Dress Your Food Most of the condiments on the store shelves are filled with preservatives and sugar. However, you can enhance the flavor of your foods by making your own condiments at home. You can make ketchup, mustard, salad dressings and sauces at home with delicious results. I think you will also feel pride in your accomplishments as you learn new recipes.
  • Exercise– Just changing your eating habits will cause you to lose weight naturally, over time, on the Paleo Diet. But if you add exercise to the mix, you will be amazed at how quickly you notice a difference in your physique. You will also notice how your energy increases compared to when you ate a traditional diet. You will start feeling strong, energetic, mentally sharper and all around younger.
  • Join A Support System– Find chat rooms and forums where like-minded people meet. Join a gym where the Paleo Diet is the main lifestyle choice. It is nice to share ideas on the best Paleo books, recipes, and advice on keeping true to the diet plan. Joining a community online or in person is extremely motivating. You will hear about how others have improved their lives by staying on a Paleo Diet.
More Help With Your Paleo Diet Plan

If you would like some more information about the Paleo Way Of Eating, you can get a FREE, New York Times Best-Selling Book. Just Click Here!

And, if you are really serious about exploring the Paleo Way Of  Eating, you have to check this out. Get 125 Paleo Recipes, a Food Guide, Eating in Restaurants, and much more. All this for $12.95   CLICK HERE to Learn More!

 

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Are Your Moods Affecting Your Life?

The word moods means much more than just being happy or sad. It is a powerful term that comes from older words that mean spirit, mind, courage, to strive and to be energetic. The word encompasses much of what we need for a sense of well-being. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a more modern definition is:

  1. A temporary state of mind, or feeling
  2. A conscious state of mind, or predominant emotion

 Here are some basic facts about moods:

  • Moods are your state of mind; whether you are happy, lonely, afraid, angry, depressed or overjoyed.
  • Emotions and moods are strongly linked specifically to the structure of the center of your brain where unconscious activities are being controlled.
  • Moods actually have 3 elements; how one feels, what happens in the body, and what moods make you do.
  • Certain experiences and memories are powerfully linked to your mind, the reason why they often trigger your mood automatically.
What Is The Difference Between Moods And Emotions?

Moods differ from emotions in that they are less intense, less specific and they are less likely to be triggered by specific events or stimuli. They also differ from personality traits or temperament, which are long-lasting. Moods are subjective, internal states, but they are often inferred from behaviors. I see how you are acting so I make a judgment about your mood.

What Is A Mood Disorder?

Long-term mood disturbances such as bipolar disorder or clinical depression are considered mood disorders. I will be writing about bipolar disorder because I think it is an important subject to explore. It affects so many of us, and we hear so much about it lately.

It affects 5.7 million adult Americans which is 2.6% of the population. These numbers don’t take into account family, friends, and coworkers who are also affected. Even if you don’t have bipolar disorder, chances are you know someone who does, and you may not even know it. Those who are afflicted with this condition usually do their best to hide it.

These statistics are from the National Institute of Mental Health where they also report that the median age of onset is 25, but it can show up as late as your forties or fifties.  

I am also going to write further about this condition because it is very personal for me. I was diagnosed with manic depression 42 years ago. (That’s what they called it then.) I will share my journey in dealing with this condition that wreaks such havoc on those who are affected by it. So, I hope you will stay tuned for that. 

How Are Moods Determined?

Moods are caused by both physical and psychology states. Separating the state of your body and your mind is somewhat complicated because they both influence each other.

On the one hand, our moods are controlled by our thoughts. Without substantial effort on our parts, we have little control over our thinking.

On the other hand, there are physical causes such as low blood sugar levels, hunger, sleep deprivation, and energy levels which can all affect your mood.

Then, there are neurological factors. The chemicals in your brain, called neurotransmitters, can also determine your mood. Moodiness is also affected by certain activities in different parts of your brain.

Hormonal changes can also affect your mood. These are especially evident in adolescence, and during menopause for women. Another factor can be seasonal changes. Some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, which is caused by a lack of ultraviolet light during winter. 

Beyond Emotion

Moods involve more than just emotions. They can bring about changes in your judgment, thoughts, and actions. Mood disorders are not emotional disorders. They are conditions that disrupt the essential connections between your brain’s action center and emotional center.

There are 3 ways for moods to happen. 

  1. Without your knowing
  2. If something happens, either good or bad
  3. Because you choose to take control of your mood and change it
You Can Take Charge!

What is your mood like when you wake up? Does your day begin with, “oh no!”? Do you realize that your first thought on waking up can affect your whole day? If you fail to intervene in that moment, you are setting the tone for your whole day. You must “catch yourself in the act”.

In that first moment when you open your eyes, be aware of the first thought. If it is negative, changing your language will help. Replace that negative thought or spoken word with something positive.

Think of something you are looking forward to that day. It may be lunch with a friend, and outing with the kids, a meeting you know you will crush, or dinner with family. There must be something you are looking forward to. If you can’t think of anything, just be happy your eyes opened this morning.

I’m not just touting positive thinking here. Positive thoughts and speech actually change the chemistry in your brain.

Don’t beat yourself up if you start your day with a negative thought or action. Just change your perspective. For more information about changing your perspective, go to my post on Positive Psychology.    There is also an awesome book on the subject that is complete, easy to understand, and,  in Part V there are some exercises to help you put positive psychology into action. 

Stress As A Factor In Mood Swings

We all know that stress is a natural part of life, and that it isn’t all bad. We need that physical response when we feel threatened or unsafe. It’s the “fight or flight” response that has saved many a caveman.

We also know that too much stress is dangerous for our health. It can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some cancers. Learning to destress is essential to our sense of well-being.

I think I know what you are thinking right now because it is what I would be thinking if I were reading this instead of writing it. You are thinking, “Yeah, right. I have heard this all before, but I don’t have time for these things. I have more important things to do.”.

The fact is, if you don’t learn to de-stress and find the time to actually practice these things, sooner or later you will face the consequences.

Take it from someone who has had 2 heart attacks and a mild stroke. I had a job that was killing me, and I didn’t take the time to learn how to de-stress.

De-stressing can improve your mood, your focus, your productivity, and your overall quality of life. Just knowing about these techniques isn’t enough. You must find time to practice them.

Researchers have concluded that in order to maintain optimum focus and productivity we should take a five-minute break every one to two hours. That’s plenty of time to close your eyes and meditate, or listen to a favorite song, or practice deep breathing.

If you have a little more time, go for a short walk, sit outdoors for a while, or make a cup of herbal tea. All of these are great relaxers as long as you clear your mind of all thoughts of work.

Of course, I highly recommend meditation, yoga, massage, and tai-chi as ways to de-stress. Also, listen to relaxing music, or exercising, and read my post about Pets and how they can help you relieve stress.

Managing Your Moods And Emotions

Managing your moods and emotions is a skill that can be learned to a large extent. Leaving out the experiences of mood disorders, most of us can exercise some control over our moods. And so you should if you want to improve your personal and professional life.

You need to learn to focus on the things that contribute to well-being, not on your mood. If you are angry, worried or feeling stressed your focus will be on your mood, not on the job at hand.

If you are unable to manage your moods, you will not be able to take the consistent actions that will result in a positive outcome regardless of the situation.

How Do Your Moods Affect Your Relationships?

It’s not hard to see how negative moods can affect your relationships with your family, friends, and coworkers. Negative moods are contagious, and it is in your best interest to avoid those who are consistently negative. The reverse is also true. It is in other people’s best interest to avoid you if you are frequently in a bad mood. 

However, avoidance isn’t always an option, so we need to be aware of how another’s mood might be affecting us. It it is affecting us negatively, then try some of the de-stress. practices.

If you begin to sense that others are avoiding you, it is time to look at your moods. If they are affecting your relationships, then do something about it. 

Seeking Help For Your Mood Swings

If your mood swings are affecting your life, your job and/or your relationships, perhaps they are a symptom of something more serious. PLEASE seek professional help. If you are in a bad mood that is lasting weeks, or even months, or if you suffer from drastic swings in mood from low to high and back again, it is time to talk with someone.

I am a strong supporter of primary care physicians. I think they do an amazing job of keeping up with all of our health needs, but few of them are prepared to deal with mood and emotional disorders.

You really need to see a psychiatrist or psychologist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, so s/he can prescribe medication that might help you. If it is talk therapy you need, then a psychologist is trained to help you with that. Talk first with your primary care physician to get suggestions and a referral to a mental health professional.

I know that term “mental health” may scare you away. Unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to that word. But we are talking about the quality of your life. Don’t you want to be the best you that you can be for your family, and friends? 

I hope this post has been helpful in sorting out some of these terms. Maybe this doesn’t affect you, but you know someone who you think may need help. Talk with them, and let them know you are supportive and that you hope they will talk with a doctor.  Support is so important to those who are suffering in silence.

Please, I would so very much appreciate your comments below. Thank you. 

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What Is Positive Psychology And Can It Help Me?

Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of the field of psychology. The concept was first introduced by Abraham Maslow in 1964. (You have probably heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.) It didn’t gain much traction, though, until the nineties when Dr. Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania, began his research. Seligman is actually called the “Father of Positive Psychology”. 

Dr. Seligman began his research by looking at why happy people are happy. He used the scientific method in his research including the use of extensive questionnaires.

This focus was relatively new. Up to this point the focus in psychology was on fixing what was broken. People sought counseling for depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Psychologists and psychiatrists attempted to help them out of the hole they were in, but once they were stable, it ended there. No one thought to ask what might make them happy or add meaning to their lives.

What Seligman and his colleagues found was that when people focus on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses, they tend to be more happy. You may be thinking I am just a Pollyanna who is touting the power of positive thinking as a panacea for all of your problems. I can see why you might think that, but please continue reading because I think you will find that is not the case.

Positive psychology does not say you should never focus on your problems. We all have negative things happen to us, and we must find solutions or ways to deal with them.

Another well-known researcher in the field of positive psychology is Christopher Peterson from the University of Michigan. He has said this about it.

          “…positive psychology is not to be confused with                  untested self-help footless affirmation or secular                  religion – no matter how good these may make you              feel. Positive psychology is neither a recycled                        version of the Power of ‘Positive Thinking’ nor a                    sequel to ‘The Secret’.”(2008)

To take this further, positive psychology is a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with the focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. It builds on the good instead of repairing the bad. The proponents do not say or imply that we should ignore the very real problems we all experience. They also never say we should replace or discard traditional psychology. Instead they emphasize that balance is important, and that positive psychology is intended to complement traditional psychology.

What Have Researchers Found?

Positive psychology is a relatively new science, and its efficacy will either rise or fall based upon the results people experience as they use it. According to Dr. Peterson, so far the evidence is impressive.  The following are just a few of the findings from the research. 

  1. Happiness leads to positive results. You have heard the saying, “happiness breeds happiness”? Researchers have found that happy people tend to be more successful at work, school, and home. They have better relationships and even better health and longevity.
  2. Happy people have a strength of character that gets them through failure, disappointment, and loss.
  3. Other things that matter to happy people include social relationships, work, goals, spirituality, and caring about others.
  4. People overestimate the impact of money on happiness. It does influence our mood and attitude up to a point. But interestingly, researchers found that spending money on experiences, as well as spending on other people, brought more happiness that spending on material things.
  5. Gratitude is a huge factor in determining our level of happiness.
  6. Happiness is contagious which emphasizes the importance of choosing who you hang out with.
  7. Performing acts of kindness will increase feelings of well-being. Volunteering for a cause that is important to you may even relieve depression.
What Does Positive Psychology Teach?

First of all, it teaches the power of shifting your perspective. There are techniques and exercises to help you do this because research has shown that even a small change in perspective can lead to an amazing shift in feelings of well-being and quality of life.

However, if it is a “good life” that you are looking for we need to also look at “meaning”. According to Dr. Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues, “happiness and a sense of meaning don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand”. Thus, focusing on positive emotions alone will not bring you the satisfying life you desire.

Let’s take a moment and look at the definitions of these words. I looked them up in several dictionaries and found that the definitions of happiness included words such as “pleasure, contentment, satisfaction, cheerfulness, joy, and delight”. The definitions of meaning included “purpose, significant, intention, and value”.

Dr. Baumeister and his team further concluded that happiness is focused on the present, while meaning is focused on the past and the future, and its relationship to the present. This leads us to believe that if you want to be happy, focus on the present. If you want to have meaning in your life, focus on the past and future, and how they are affecting the present.

However, if you choose meaning, be prepared because this  will likely lead you to experience worry, stress, and anxiety when your focus is on the past and the future. After all, looking at the past often means looking at past mistakes, and who knows what the future will bring.

But the researchers tell us that this is not all bad. These negative emotions can be strong motivators as you search for your purpose, intention, and value. An intention to express your “authentic self” and a sense of strong personal identity are linked to your search for meaning.

They do warn us, though, that positive psychology may not be for everyone. If you are not a naturally optimistic person, and your glass is usually half empty, just deciding to think positively can do more harm than good. Unrealistic optimism in the face of a real problem, can be detrimental. You can’t find solutions, just by repeating positive affirmations.

Further, people who have a healthy dose of pessimism, are often motivated by it. If you are pessimistic about the outcome of a project at work, it can motivate you to work harder, and put in more effort than you might ordinarily. This may improve the chances of a positive result. 

Conclusion

I hope this post has given you a lot to think about, and I hope you will leave your comments or suggestions below. I will be writing more about positive psychology as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, so please stay tuned for that.

The post Positive Psychology…Why Happy People Are Happy appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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 Want To Know Which Foods Are Fat Burning Foods?

Tired of hiding your muffin top under layers of clothing? You are not alone. About one-third of American adults are overweight. We are going to talk about how fat is stored and which foods will help you get rid of the excess. Forget yo-yo diets and easy weight-loss promises that leave you feeling like a fat failure. There are fat burning foods that will boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. 

How Does The Fat Form In The First Place?

It’s vital to know how fat is deposited in the body, so you have an understanding of how to make the body lose it. Your body needs food to acquire the necessary energy to function and feed its cells. The calories in food have energy.  The more calories the food contains the more fuel the body can acquire from it.

In order to use the foods energy, your body must first digest the food. The process of digestion causes the body to burn some old energy to get the new energy from the food. The more difficult it is to digest the food, the more energy/calories are burned.

The body’s fuel is categorized as protein, carbohydrates or fats.  Your body uses a part of the foods fuel for nutrition. The excess fuel is eventually stored up as fat in the “fat cells” of your body. 

Fat cells are often deposited in the chest, hips and waist region. As the cells become bigger, your physique acquires a doughy look. The body has a limited number of fat cells, and there is only so much fat these cells can store. Once the threshold is reached, fat begins to accumulate in the muscle lining of your arms and thighs, creating unsightly, flabby limbs.

Here are some Fat Burning Secrets that may help you lose that unsightly fat. 

Secret #1: Eat Fat Burning Foods

 All foods can cause fat creation, but certain foods actually help burn fat. Some foods have minerals or vitamins that raise metabolism and act as virtual fat burners. There are negative calorie foods that burn extra calories during digestion. Other foods, even eaten in small quantities, deliver a feeling of fullness with very few calories. Sticking to the right whole fat burning foods will drastically reduce the fat profile of your body.

By eating these fat burning foods at the right time, in the correct amount, the body fat profile starts to reduce. Add in foods that lower the likelihood of fat depositing in your body for an extra boost. Here is a list of everyday foods that double as secret fat burners.

Poultry

Poultry such as chicken has special assets that increase the body’s metabolic rate, helping you melt extra fat away. Chicken is low in fat and carbohydrates with high levels of protein. Proteins require a lot of energy to digest. It is also a great source of iron, zinc, and niacin. For best results, remove the skin from poultry before eating and bake or broil it to avoid excess fat.

Salmon & Tuna

Salmon and tuna are good sources of protein that provides the body with healthy fats from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Both fish, are satisfying as well as low in calories and unhealthy saturated fat. Eating salmon and tuna positively affects leptin, the hormone responsible for burning and storing calories. High leptin levels cause the body to store fat. Salmon and tuna reduce leptin, giving your metabolism the boost it needs to burn calories. Just be sure you get wild-caught fish, not farm-raised.

Other Lean Protein

Research has shown that the thermic effect of protein is the highest of all the macronutrients. Proteins require approximately 30% of its calories for digestion and processing. Lean proteins also suppress the appetite reducing the tendency to overeat. Though poultry has less fat, lean red meats such as top round, lean sirloin, game and other white meats such as pork have a place in a fat burning diet.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruit hikes up the metabolism while supplying a big dose of vitamin C, which is used in the process of burning fat. They are ranked as the best fat burning foods you can eat. Oranges, grapefruit, apples and even tomatoes share these fat burning qualities. With this large variety, mix several fruits for different flavors and taste. Citrus fruit actually are effective in  burning fat around the hips and waist.

Apples

 An apple a day keeps the fat away. Apples contain a substance called pectin that restricts the cells from absorbing fat and assists water absorption from food. This also helps push fat deposits from the body. The antioxidants in apples may also reduce excess belly fat. Apples have a high level of soluble fiber that helps you control hunger pangs.

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries – take your pick. Fruits as a whole are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are low on calories and high in water compared to refined foods. Excellent sources of fiber, berries boost the metabolism, breaking down food and fats. Naturally sweet and delicious, a handful of berries will keep you feeling fuller longer and help eliminate the craving for sugary treats.

Vegetables

Most vegetables (except for potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes) maintain low calories, yet contain essential vitamins and minerals that improve the body’s metabolism.

Veggies such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and artichokes contain no fat and have very low carbohydrate levels. In fact, they aid in fat burning since your body uses more calories to digest vegetables than they produce. The extra calories needed to break down food are taken from body fat reserves. For example, one serving of Brussel sprouts has 50 calories, but the body needs 75 calories to digest it. That’s 25 calories of body fat burned just for eating your Brussels sprouts.

Beans

Beans are not only full of minerals; they are also low in calories and rich in amino acids. The amino acids in lentils help decrease body fat while helping build muscles, and maintain stable blood sugar. In addition, they are excellent sources of dietary fiber keeping you satiated longer, reducing the urge to overeat.

Eggs

Eggs, one of the most nutrient dense foods, are a natural superfood. Their high levels of protein rev up the metabolism and help you burn fat. Eggs are hands down one of the best fat burning foods. Among other protein foods, eggs have the most abundant mix of essential amino acids. Despite having low calories, they are packed with vitamin D, vitamin B12, choline and selenium. It’s been proven that eggs don’t contribute to bad cholesterol, but do improve the good cholesterol needed for a healthy body. Eggs have all the nutrients crucial for good health.

Almonds & Walnuts

Almond and walnuts are excellent sources of the healthy fats needed for the smooth functioning of the body’s cell structure. Just an ounce of almonds has 12% of the daily protein allowance and contains calcium and folic acid. Plus, the form of vitamin E in walnuts is especially beneficial. A handful of nuts is a tasty, crunchy snack to satisfy your hunger pains.

Pine Nuts

According to scientist, pine nuts contain an abundance of healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids help eliminate fat accumulation in the abdominals. Pine nuts also increase satiety level hormones which make you feel satisfied longer.  

SECRET #2: ADD FAT BOOSTERS TO YOUR DIET

Eating the right food will kick your metabolism into high gear and help you burn unwanted fat. Combine fat burning foods with these fat boosters to push your metabolism into overdrive.

Mustard

Tiny mustard seeds are packed with nutrition including: the amino acid tryptophan, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, niacin and zinc. They even have a bit of protein and fiber. The spicy Asian and Mexican varieties temporarily speed up the metabolism like ephedrine or caffeine in a safe, natural way. Adding spicy mustard delivers zest to your food and a nice fat loss boost.

Onions

Onions are aromatic, flavorful and low in calories. But, onions can also aid in weight loss. They are a source of a nutrient called chromium. Chromium is said to improve insulin and maintain stable blood sugar. So, onions help stop blood sugar crashes and the resulting case of the munchies.

Coconut Oil

Coconuts boost the body’s energy. Unlike margarine or shortening, coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids used as an immediate supply of fuel. Use coconut oil in your cooking to speed metabolism improve thyroid functioning and amplify fat burning.

Hot Peppers

The chemicals that give hot peppers their spice safely speeds up the heart rate. Some people are able to burn up to 1,000 more calories every day from eating peppers. Spicy foods like chilies and peppers trigger your body to burn fat. For their flavor and fat burning properties, hot peppers are one of the best diet foods.

Green Tea

Green tea significantly reduces total fat in the waist and skin areas. It has the catechins, proven to raise your resting metabolic rate. That means you keep burning fat longer, turning the body into a well-oiled fat burning machine. It has also been shown, the catechins interact with the caffeine in green tea. A perfect substitute for coffee, green tea is high in antioxidants making it a natural stimulate.

SECRET #3 INCREASE WATER INTAKE

Drinking more water helps the body reduce fat deposits. The kidneys do not function correctly without enough water intake. If they don’t work properly, some of the load is discarded to the liver. If the liver is doing the kidney’s work, it can’t concentrate on its’ main job of metabolizing fat. More fat will remain in the body and fat burning stops. So drink the right amount of water improves metabolism and keeps your fat burning at full capacity. Water also flushes out toxins and improves the body’s ability to stay healthy.

SECRET#4 – BUILD MUSCLES

Muscle keeps you metabolism active and burning calories. Adding muscle improves your body fat composition ratio.  Muscles are an active tissue that continually renews itself so it always needs calories. While normal cardio burns fat only during the exercise, weight training builds muscle ensuring body fat continues to burn throughout the day. The main source of energy for muscles is fat. So, even when relaxing or sleeping, you continue to burn calories. The more muscle mass on your frame the more positive effect on your metabolism. To avoid your metabolism from getting sluggish and packing on fat it is important to do weight resistant exercises to build muscle.

CONCLUSION 

Adopt these fat burning secrets into your lifestyle and you will see results in a matter of weeks. The right diet plan will show you how to combine the fat burning foods to keep your body melting away the flab. There are countless delicious recipes to make the switch painless.

Add some resistance exercises and you will see a lean healthy body faster than you thought possible. Don’t let another day pass. The new you is ready to emerge.

Before you go, please leave your feedback, suggestions or questions below in the Comments Section. Thanks so much!

The post Fat Burning Foods: 4 Secrets Revealed appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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Are You Biohacking Yet?

This is part two of a two-part series on biohacking. In the last article I talked about what it is and how you can do it. In case you missed it just click here:  What Is Biohacking? 

So, let’s recap a bit. Let’s take this word apart. “Bio”, of course, means biology which we all understand. “Hacking” is a little more complicated. I have looked at many different definitions, and the word “hack” can be used in several different contexts.

“I can’t hack my job anymore.” He is just an old hack.” “He is hacking away at that log.” “She is a computer hacker.”  Did you notice? All of these statements are negative.  

However, biohacking is not negative. Another definition of “hack” is related to:

  1. looking at something
  2. enhancing its capabilities
  3. fixing an issue
  4. getting maximum possible performance from it

In this article I am going to show you some more examples of biohacks you might want to use, or maybe they will just trigger an idea of something else you want to hack. So, here we go…

Change When You Are Eating

Intermittent fasting is gaining in popularity as a method of losing weight and normalizing insulin sensitivity. It also regulates ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is more commonly known as the hunger hormone. It tells your brain when you are hungry and when you are full and should stop eating. It is very important if you are trying to lose weight.

If you decide to use intermittent fasting, there are several ways you can do it. There is alternate-day fasting. You simply limit your calorie intake, by either number or percentage, on alternate days.

The second way is time-restricted eating where you only eat during certain time periods of the day. For example, you may only eat from 8am to 5pm.

Another option is to eat your regular amount of food during the week and restrict your calories on the weekend. This is a common diet plan for losing weight. It is just turned around where you restrict your calories during the week and eat your usual amount on the weekend. With the caveat that you don’t go crazy on the weekend.

Just Get Up!

Another way of biohacking is to not just sit there! We sit in our cars, at our desks, in the recliners or couches at home, in waiting rooms, and long dinners out. Everywhere you go you are sitting which can actually damage your health. Some researchers say that too much sitting can actually be just as dangerous as smoking. 

Fortunately, there are some biohacks for that.They include walking more if you are going short distances, and standing up at your desk periodically. In fact, a 5 minute break every hour or two is what is recommended. 

You can also get a stand-up desk. These are desks that can be adjusted to your standing position.  There are even treadmill desks and bicycle desks. Who knew?

You can also stand or pace when making long phone calls. Or, instead of sending that email to a colleague down the hall, go deliver the message in person.  These are all small things you can do, but the cumulative effect can be enormous. 

Meditation

What we feed our minds is just as important as the food we put into our bodies. Many people consider meditation to be the ultimate in brain biohacking. There are so many benefits including increasing the quality of your sleep, reducing pain levels, and boosting productivity.  Combined with deep breathing, it is one of the most relaxing things you can do.

We all know the damage that stress can do. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress may be affecting your health in ways you never realized. Some of these effects include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. 

Some of the symptoms of stress include:

  • headeach
  • muscle pain
  • chest pain
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • lack of motivation and focus
  • sleep problems
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • irritability

Do any of these apply to you? When we are stressed, we look for ways to cope with these symptoms. Many times we turn to food, alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), and tobacco. We may also have angry outbursts, exercise less often, and withdraw from family and friends.

Wouldn’t it be better to turn to meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or tai chi? I am going to be writing about these subjects in the very near future, so stay tuned for that. 

Sleep More

You are thinking, “Easier said than done”. I know! But when we talk about losing weight or improving our health or mood, we forget about the role of sleep as part of our regimen. If you are not getting seven to nine hours each night, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation.

Without adequate, quality sleep you are at risk for chronic diseases including heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, trouble concentrating, and hormones that are going crazy. I know from experience that getting adequate sleep can be tough to do. A doctor once told me that it gets worse as we age. 

But, again, there are hacks for that. First of all, set a schedule for bedtime and stick to it even on the weekends. This will help set your circadian rhythms.

Another way if buigacjubg is to turn everything off in your bedroom. That means no tv when you are trying to go to sleep, no phone, no laptop, and no tablet. Better yet, don’t even have these things in your bedroom to begin with. And don’t forget the LED light in your clock You can get clocks that allow you to turn off the light Then when you want to know what time it is, you just tap a button or bar on the clock and the light will come on. In other words, keep your bedroom dark when you are trying to sleep. I almost forgot.  You could also get a sleep mask if you can’t keep all the light out.

Other hacks for sleep include no more than one glass of wine in the evening, and no eating after 7pm. Another one that I use is to write in my gratitude journal just before I go to sleep. Then I am filled with pleasant, warm feelings. 

Conclusion

I hope this article has given you some ideas of other biohacks you will want to try. There must be millions of options, so this is just meant to whet your appetite.

Now you can  look at a problem you are having and find some potential culprits that may be contributing to it. Then find some possible solutions you can try out, and, after you see the results of each potential solution, keep what works and discard what doesn’t. That is biohacking in a nutshell. 

Just remember, experts say it takes 21-30 days to form a new habit. It can also take that much time to see if you get positive results. In other words, don’t try something once or twice and decide it isn’t working. You have to give it a reasonable amount of time. 

Check out other articles on health, mindset, and goal setting. I hope you find this information on biohacking interesting, and that will help you in some way. But before you go, please leave your comments, suggestions, or questions in the Comments Section below. Thanks!

The post Biohacking To Improve Your Health: Part Two appeared first on Aging With Zest!.

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