Once You're Through Learning, You're Through"
-John Wooden, retired UCLA basketball coach, 97 years old-
I started this blog as my own computer back-up for everything I learn about living a healthy happy long life.
I soon found out that there is no way I can capture everything that comes my way via podcasts, NPR, books, websites, newspapers and magazines with twice a week postings.
For a change of pace I'm backing up my brain by downloading the mass of swirling (but useful) health & happiness tips that have come my way this week. Instead of long posts, you're getting the "blog bytes".
So here goes:
- Music, like laughter benefits the heart. According to Dr. Michael Miller of the University of Maryland, if you're listening to a song that makes you feel "joyful or euphoric", your blood vessels will dilate 26%, improving blood flow--which is an effect similar to that of exercise. Miller says: "The inner lining of the blood vessels--the endothelium--serves as the gatekeeper to vascular health." Keep them dilated & keep them healthy. Just don't listen to the same songs all the time, or it won't work. Mix up your play list--2 week intervals are best. What's on my play list? Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" & Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" & about a million others. Now I'm alternating joyful music with my NPR fix.
- Low Vitamin D levels are linked to increased body fat. Looking at young Californian women (age 16-20)--where there's plenty of sun--researchers found overweight women had a much lower level of vitamin D, as measured by the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D test (under 29 ng/mL is too low). It's hard to tell if the excess fat is preventing the vitamin D absorption, or if the low D is somehow causing the excess fat. With vitamin D so important to the prevention of osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression & more, everyone should ask their doctor for the inexpensive serum-hydroxyvitamin D test!
- A healthy vegan diet is all about eating whole real foods--like greens, beans, fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds. This takes preparation & planning. Watch out if you stick to fake soy meat, fries, Fritos, & peanut butter! Read Megan McArdle's piece about her vegan experience here. She's a blogger/writer for the Atlantic Monthly.
- Unusual Suspects. Everyday foods that will cause inflammation. Increase your diet with foods high in Omega-6s & you increase your body's inflammation--a risk factor for heart disease, arthritis, cancer, cognitive dysfunction & more. Just cut these out: any mayonnaise, except for a low-fat version made with canola oil; anything made with safflower, cottonseed, corn, soybean, unnamed vegetable & sunflower oils; Take Control Spread (it's supposed to benefit the heart-but it's loaded with Omega 6s--use Canola Harvest with Flax instead); Smart Balance mozzarella cheese shreds; many granola bars; McDonald's Grilled Chicken; vegetarian cheeses made with oils; soy hot dogs & burgers; salad dressings made with soybean oil. Here's a link to a free website with data on the omega-6s in everyday foods: Click here. Read Evelyn Tribole's The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet.
- Ten Tips for Being Happier. This comes from one of my favorite blogs Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. My 4 favorites: 1. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly--you have to be willing to try new things & not be afraid of failing if you want to grow. 2. Buy some happiness--sometimes you need to spend some money to keep in touch with friends & relatives, to just make life easier or to eliminate sources of irritation: like plane tickets, a heated mattress pad or wireless earphones to silence the TV. 3. Don't insist on the best--don't waste time & drive yourself crazy trying to make the perfect decision. Be a satisficer not a maximizer! 4. Stop Nagging--not worth it & it only makes matters worse.
- An ounce or two of nuts a day is a good thing. At 160-200 calories an ounce you have to go easy, but Spanish researchers found that adding nuts to your diet will reduce the likelihood of metabolic syndrome (belly fat, type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides, low HDLs); and Purdue researchers found that nuts keep you full, satisfied & better able to control your weight. My link has a great recipe & specific nut by nut benefits from the Berkeley Wellness Letter.
- For maximum learning you need a good night's sleep. Howard Nussbaum of the University of Chicago conducted a study that trained college students on video games & clearly showed how learning something new only improves after a good night's rest. Our brains consolidate the new learning during sleep & we actually practice our new skills while we dream. But it's best to be well rested before you learn something new and then "sleep on it"!
- 38% of us use alternative or complementary therapies. According to a recent report from the National Center for Complementary Medicine and Alternative Therapies, the top alternative therapies include the use of fish oil/omega 3/DHA, glucosamine, echinacea, flaxseed oil or pills, and ginseng. More people are also practicing deep-breathing, meditation, yoga & following it up with a relaxing massage!