"I think attitude is the thing that keeps you young. And energy and activity--- and just keep moving"
-Marilyn Maye, 80 year old jazz singer-
So much to learn, so much to do, so much to read. Here goes guys, my quicky digest of the interesting stuff I've learned this week.
- Red wine. Remember a few years back in 2003 when we learned about the "longevity power" of resveratrol, the ingredient found in red wine? Only problem was to get the same benefits that enabled mice to stay young, you would have to drink the equivalent of 100 bottles of red wine a day. Now, Dr. Richard Weindruch & Dr. Tomas A. Prolla have discovered that "a mere 4, -5 ounce glasses of red wine a day" may just do the trick in humans. Still too much alcohol to drink, but Longevinex makes a capsule containing red wine extract & a Chinese plant called giant knotweed, that may substitute for the wine drinking. Supposedly, the red wine works in the same way that calorie-restriction does to slow down aging, only in a more pleasant way. To read all about red wine & aging check out Nicholas Wade's column in the NYT. To read about Weindruch & Prolla's new red wine research check out their article published in the June 4, 2008 issue of PLoS. According to the NYT, some scientists are already taking resveratrol capsules.
- On June 1st the first ever World Science Fair held a sold-out session on "90 is the New 50. The Science of Longevity". There's a lot on the horizon, but the presenters concluded, that "Until there is a pill to bring back youth, Diet, Exercise, and Purpose are the three sure ways" to stay healthy.
- Want to maximize your workouts, replenish-repair your muscles & improve your exercise performance? If you workout for an hour or more, have a carb & protein snack within 30-45 minutes after your workout when your muscles are primed to absorb fuel! John Ivy, the chairman of the department of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas in Austin has done the research. Carbo loading before a workout is history. His favorite muscle replenishment is low-fat chocolate milk, but any smoothie or drink that combines protein with carbs will do the job. After a strenuous workout he advises exercisers to replenish with 1 gram of carbohydrate for every kilogram of body weight. (for 130 lbs. that would be about 59 grams of carbs) Follow it up with a meal within 2 hours. I learned this trick 2 years ago from sports nutritionist Dr. Susan Kleiner and it works. My soccer playing adult son agrees. To read more, click here.
- Co-enzyme Q10 relieved post-workout fatigue & improved physical performance in a small study appearing in the journal Nutrition. Tiredness was relieved and performance improved in those subjects taking 300 mg of CoQ10. No such results for the folks taking 100 mg or the placebo. CoQ10 is produced naturally in the body but the levels start to drop after age 20. The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell and it plays a vital role in the production of the body's energy. Statins further decrease the level of CoQ10 in the body, which often results in muscle aches.
- Cell phones & cancer. The debate about cell phones and cancer has returned. Last week three prominent neurosurgeons told Larry King they don't hold cell phones next to their ears. They use an ear piece or speaker mode to keep the microwave antenna away from the brain. Dr. Eugene Flamm, head of neurosurgery at Montefiore Medical Center, felt the "theory that cell phones cause brain tumors defies credulity". The FDA says 3 large studies have proved there is no harm from cell phones and the American Cancer Society agrees. These studies, however, only tracked 3 years of usage. Last February an Israeli study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported a 50% higher risk of parotid gland tumors among heavy cell phone users (22 hours a month). Some feel this study is significant, sort of like the canary in the coal mine. Israel is one of the first countries to adopt extensive cell phone use, and they have been using them far longer than the U.S has. At greatest risk are children--their brains are growing rapidly & their skulls are thinner. You can read more in the NYT article.
- Sex After 50. Just listened to a very interesting podcast on Sex after 50 from Joe & Terry Graedon of The People's Pharmacy. From Dr. Ruth I learned that all men of a "certain age" (& she won't get specific) stop having psychogenic erections--erections from just thinking about making love. The cure is simple--physical stimulation. All women after a "certain age" lose lubrication, if they aren't taking hormone replacement. The cure is simple--over-the-counter lubricants like Astroglide or K-Y jelly, moisturizers like Replens, or my personal favorite, the Estring. The Estring, which needs a prescription, is a small plastic ring that's inserted for 3 months. You don't feel a thing, but it delivers a very low & local dose of estrogen, equivalent to 2 days of estrogen therapy over 90 days. Even Dr. Susan Love, the breast cancer specialist has recommended it. The podcast included great info from Dr. Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, and his wife, Sue Goldstein, a sexual medicine educator, who co-authored the book When Sex Isn't Good: Stories and Solutions of Women with Sexual Dysfunction with Lillian Arleque, Ed.D. Sue shares her own story about a good sex life gone to sleep at age 50. She thought her husband had a problem & didn't know how she could tell her husband "the sex specialist" about it. Surprise---after her husband brought home a questionnaire on "female sexual dysfunction", she was prompted to take a blood test which showed her to be low in androgen. Problem solved. She wrote the book because she figured if someone like her couldn't recognize her own problem, certainly other women might also need some help.
- Strawberries. From the June 2008 issue of Vegetarian Times I learned I had it all wrong when it comes to buying strawberries. I thought the big ones were best. Wrong. For best flavor, smaller & redder is better. These are usually the homegrown ones. The jumbo ones taste bland because they have large air pockets. Look for dry berries with leaves that aren't wilted, and without white or green tips. Buy organic! Strawberries are on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen List". Store them unwashed in a colander in the fridge. You can freeze berries by placing them dry & hulled in a single layer on a baking sheet & freezing until solid. Throw them in plastic freezer bags & store for the winter.
- Is Your Computer Keyboard Dangerous to Your Health? Last December the nasty norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea swept through the medical library where I work. Could it have been passed through the keyboards our staff shares at the reference desk? Can't be sure, but we wipe them down now with antibacterial wipes when we change desk shifts. And there's an antibacterial hand foam to use as well. In January 2008, the CDC reported that an outbreak of the norovirus in a Washington DC school was spread from contaminated keyboards and computer mice. But it gets even worse. In May, the UK magazine, Which? Computing, commissioned microbiologist James Francis to check out the cleanliness of the computers in their office. Francis swabbed 33 computer keyboards, as well as the door handles and toilet seats in the office bathroom The results were not pretty. He found E coli, Staph Aureus, and coliform bacteria, as well as fecal matter on keyboards. One keyboard had 150 times the acceptable level of bacteria, 5 times the amount found on a toilet seat. The magazine also warned that headphones harbor bacteria and could transfer head lice. Yikes, we lend headphones in the library! To read the details of the report in the UK's Guardian you can click here. The take home message: If you have to share a keyboard, "decontaminate it" with an antibacterial wipe before you use it, and wash your hands before you eat anything. It's just like a trip to the bathroom!