January 26, 2021 10:19:48 AM
Optimizing your health after retirement
There's a retirement boom going on. In the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 said they'd retired. That's 3.2 million more boomers than retired in the same quarter of 2019.
If that's you -- or soon to be you -- it's important to recognize retirement's rough spots and access its pleasures. Those who go abruptly from working full time to complete retirement are especially challenged, according to a study in Work, Aging and Retirement. But many seniors find a solution. By 2026, around 30 percent of the labor force will be made up of folks 65 to 74. Working can help you stay emotionally connected and mentally sharp. Interested? Go to www.aarp.org and search for "Top 25 Part-Time Jobs for Retirees." Other smart moves:
■ Joining clubs, taking classes, volunteering and strengthening relationships with grandkids and family provide a sense of purpose and enhance self-esteem. Staying socially connected to six people a month makes your RealAge at least two years younger.
■ Getting 30-plus minutes of exercise and 10,000 steps daily enhances brain function, heart health and mood. At age 65, that makes your RealAge 4.8 years younger. But after age 65, if three major stressful events (retirement? death of a spouse? moving?) go unchecked (try counseling and meditation) that adds 30 years to your RealAge!
Genes account for about 33 percent of your chance of living to be 85. It's healthy behaviors that make the difference, and it's never too late to make them part of your life.
The Goldilocks Principle
In "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," the heroine declares one bowl of porridge tastes too hot, another too cold and the third, well, that's just right. The idea that avoiding extremes provides the best results is called the Goldilocks Principle and researchers from New Zealand's Otago University are advocating it so you can flourish emotionally.
Looking at the habits and mental health of young adults, they discovered that too much or too little of a good thing damages well-being. In their study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, they found that sleeping eight hours nightly produced the highest level of well-being. Sleeping less than eight or more than 12 hours a night was indicative of depression.
Physical activity and diet also follow the Goldilocks Principle. Study participants who ate 4.8 servings a day of raw fruit and veggies had the best quality of life. Those who ate fewer than two servings or more than eight servings had the lowest measure of well-being and mental health. And physical activity -- at least 30 minutes daily and not more than two continuous hours some days -- defeats inflammation caused by being sedentary and doesn't cause chronic inflammation from overdoing it!
Getting the right serving size of any one of these lifestyle traits helps offset deficiency or excess in the others. But the study found that integrating all three into daily life can increase your well-being by more than 35 percent and decrease your risk for symptoms of depression by 38 percent. And that, as Goldilocks said, is just right!
Slash your GERD symptoms by 40 percent
So many pro football players have had to contend with gastrointestinal reflux disorder that you could call their playing field a GERD-iron. But both the Denver Broncos' John Elway and the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre, who suffered mightily during their former quarterback days, now know how lifestyle changes can help keep GERD under control.
A research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine agrees. The researchers found that folks who had GERD at least once a week (even those taking medication for it) and adhered to an anti-reflux lifestyle saw a 40 percent reduction in symptoms. That's sending in a reliever when it's needed!
The study identified lifestyle traits that provide relief from GERD-related nausea, burning pain, sore throat, hoarseness, burping, chest pain and more:
■ Not smoking.
■ Getting more than 30 minutes a day of brisk walking.
■ Having less than two cups of coffee, tea and or soda daily.
■ Maintaining a healthy weight (a body mass index of 18.4 to 24.9).
■ Eating a diet low in saturated fats, with fat calories, even from healthy fats, limited to 15 percent to 30 percent of daily calories, with no junk or ultraprocessed foods, a moderate intake of alcohol and salt, and lots of high-fiber veggies and fruit.
So if you're one of the up to 99 million Americans with GERD, get back in the game by talking to your doc about your symptoms, asking about the benefits of short-term use of medication (it is not for the long haul) and adopting a lifestyle that'll let you score big points against GERD.
Say hello -- and then goodbye -- to VLDL
In September 2017, workers in London discovered the world's biggest fatberg -- a clog of fat and debris in a sewer line that was the size of 11 of that city's iconic double-decker busses. One way to avoid such a mess would be to cook with and eat less fat and therefore have less fatty waste flowing through the sewers.
The same solution would help reduce fatbergs in your arteries. Step one: Adopt a diet that reduces your levels of a blood fat called very low-density lipoprotein or VLDL. It's a lesser-known cousin of heart-damaging lousy LDL.
Researchers from Spain and Denmark have published two studies in the Journal of American College of Cardiology -- one found that VLDL cholesterol accounts for half of the heart attack risk from elevated levels of blood-vessel-clogging fats and the other found that elevated levels of triglycerides are associated with heart woes.
VLDL is produced in your liver and travels through your bloodstream delivering triglycerides to body tissue. We consider a healthy triglyceride level to be less than 100mg/dL. You can estimate your VLDL level at about 1/5 of your triglyceride level. So to avoid an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, aim for a VLDL of less than 20mg/dL.
This doesn't reduce the importance of keeping LDL levels below 70mg/dL, especially if you have diabetes. But you also need to keep VLDL levels low by keeping triglyceride levels healthy. The key? Eliminating processed carbs and added sugars, upping your intake of omega-3-rich fish like salmon, achieving a body mass index below 27, and exercising regularly.
Dodge the risks, get the benefits of bisphosphonates
Five years ago, TechCrunch predicted that in 2021 checkbooks, cash, credit cards and passwords would be entirely replaced by digital magic. Well, that didn't happen. But we can see the advantages of eliminating them (especially passwords).
The new recommendations for postmenopausal use of the bone-building medications called bisphosphonates say they too should be gone in five years -- from your medication regimen, that is. JAMA has released a "Patient Page" that outlines the latest findings on using the medications to halt the bone deterioration of osteoporosis and reduce the 1.5 million related fractures every year. The fractures lead to more than half a million hospitalizations, over 800,000 emergency room visits and the placement of 180,000 folks in nursing homes.
The risks associated with the medications include loss of blood supply to the jawbone (rare) and fracture of the thighbone. Necrosis of the jawbone often happens after an invasive dental procedure (ask about stopping the med before such work is done). Fracture of the thigh bone becomes more likely after taking the meds for five years. So, stopping the medication before that maximizes benefits (they're substantial) while minimizing risk. That's especially true if you also adopt bone-protecting lifestyle habits, such as doing strength-building exercise two or three times a week; jumping 20 times morning and night if your doc agrees; eating calcium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, canned salmon, and fortified soy products; and making sure to get 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium daily from food and 600-800 IU of vitamin D daily through foods and supplements.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
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