Alzheimer’s Disease: A Weighty Matter

Happy closeness senior couple sitting on the floorNew research suggests obesity and prediabetes or diabetes may make us more likely to have memory problems and develop Alzheimer’s. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than half of adults over the age of 65 have prediabetes. Prediabetes and health problems, such as having too much insulin in the body (insulin resistance), are mostly caused by obesity, little to no exercise, and loss of lean muscle mass that occurs with aging.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, the decline in mental abilities interfering with everyday life, and is more likely the older we get. Signs of Alzheimer’s can appear decades before the disease manifests. Most people begin to notice regular to frequent memory problems, such as forgetting conversations or how to get to and from familiar places.

When memory problems become clinically significant, but do not impact daily life activities like household chores or working, a person is diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Most people with MCI eventually develop Alzheimer’s in three to five years, although some individuals never do. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s requires not only constant memory problems worse than MCI, but significant impairment in daily life activities and at least one more cognition problem (i.e., speech, planning or reasoning, purposeful movement).

What can I do?
Studies increasingly suggest that prevention is best. If you are middle-aged or older, obese or severely overweight, ask your doctor. Suggest a waist circumference measurement to estimate your body fat. Have your blood sugar and insulin levels checked. If you have prediabetes, consider a weight loss program, moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day at least 3 days a week, or medication to lower blood sugar and insulin. If you have diabetes, it is critical to get it under control with the plan of care your doctor suggests.

If you are concerned you have memory problems, schedule an appointment with a neurologist or psychiatrist. Memory and thinking assessments can determine if your memory is impaired. Follow-up visits help track whether or not your memory remains the same or declines.

Source: Auriel A. Willette, MS, PhD, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University

Sweet Potato Fries

sweet-potato-friesServing Size: 2/3 cup and 1 T dip | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Dip

  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, chili powder, or paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Rinse potatoes under running water. Scrub potatoes well and peel, if desired.
  3. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.
  4. Lay each potato half flat and slice into half-round shapes about 1/4” thick.
  5. Combine potatoes, oil, and salt in a bowl. Stir so potatoes are covered with oil.
  6. Grease cookie sheet with oil and lay potato slices in a single layer.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
  8. Mix the dip ingredients while potatoes are baking.
  9. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 4g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 26g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein

This recipe is courtesy of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website of ISU Extension and Outreach, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings.

Fitness for People with Disabilities

Everyone age 2 years and older should be physically active. However, sometimes our activity is restricted by physical limitations. The key is to focus on what you can do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that if a disability is limiting your ability to achieve 150 minutes of weekly activity, take part in any regular physical activity as you are able. It’s important to avoid inactivity.

There are many ways to be physically active, so finding an activity you enjoy even with a disability is possible.

Water sports offer a weightless, low-impact option for those with knee, back, or foot problems. Examples include swimming laps, water aerobics, water jogging, or water walking.

Use alternative machines that mimic sports but remove the physical barrier. For example, if you love riding a bike but can’t due to paralysis or a leg injury, try a hand cycle. For runners with leg, hip, feet, or back issues, try a weightless treadmill. Local physical therapy offices or hospitals may have these machines available for use.

Chair exercises are another great option if you have difficulty standing. The National Institute on Aging has a free chair exercise DVD you can order
(go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercise-dvd) or try this free online 5-5-5 Chair Workout video (www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/2887/5-5-5-chair-workout/).

Always consult your health care provider before beginning any physical activity routines.

Source: www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/pa.html

What’s Hot—Bikram Yoga

woman yogaYoga is a good way to be physically active because it promotes increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, as well as improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Yoga can also help with weight reduction and circulatory health. There are more than 20 different types of yoga! One variation gaining in popularity is Bikram yoga, often referred to as “hot yoga” because this style specializes in using a heated environment.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, and takes place in a room 104 degrees with 40% humidity. The caution with hot yoga is the room temperature and the potential health risks it poses. Hot yoga may increase the risk of heat exhaustion if your body is no longer able to regulate its usual temperature. Heat exhaustion can lead to heavy sweating, dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. These effects on your body may make you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated.

Before starting hot yoga, or any physical activity program, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. For more information, visit http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/injury-prevention/exercise/article/hot-yoga-scary-or-good-you.

Keeping it clean—To wash your hands or to use hand sanitizer?

washing hands soap waterWhenever possible, it’s best to wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) and rinse thoroughly. Hand sanitizing gel (at least 60% alcohol), foam, or wipes can be used for quick sanitation, but these products are not designed to replace hand washing because sanitizers do not adequately remove all bacteria, dirt, and debris. When hands are dirty, hand sanitizers are not effective.

The Paleo Diet—A look at a popular eating plan

A popular trend making headlines is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet. This diet is based on the belief that if we eat like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago, we’ll be healthier, lose weight, and have less disease. The table below compares the Paleo diet recommended intakes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the typical Western diet.

Paleo Diet Chart

The Paleo diet promotes a higher intake of protein and fat. The carbohydrates included with the Paleo diet are not from grains, but rather from fruits and vegetables (not including white potatoes or dry beans). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends eating carbohydrates from grains, fruits, dairy, and starchy vegetables. Excluding key food groups like dairy and grains makes it likely that key vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, will be missing. Decreasing the intakes of added sugar and process foods have health benefits; however, there is no scientific evidences showing the Paleo diet prevents disease.steak and vegetables

Since the Paleo diet omits foods from different food groups (e.g., dairy, peanuts, legumes, cereal grains), its long-term sustainability is questionable. We live in a society where it is not possible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. You might consider a modified Paleo eating plan like lowering your intake of added sugars and processed foods while eating more fruits and vegetables. Balance is best whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or stay just as you are. For more information, visit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jan 2015, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/paleo-diet?page=2.

A 10-Minute Run Does Your Heart Good

man and woman running outside fitnessYou don’t have to be a marathoner to reap the health benefits of running. A recent Iowa State University study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that running for just 5 or 10 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Researchers followed more than 55,000 adults for 15 years to measure the benefits of running, according to DC (Duck-chul) Lee, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. Lee stated “runners were 45 percent less likely to die from heart disease or stroke than non-runners, regardless of their running distance, duration or speed.”

“Most people say they don’t have time to exercise…but I think most everyone can find 5 to 10 minutes per day to run for the health benefits,” Lee said. For more about the study, watch the video at www.news.iastate.edu/news/2014/07/28/runningmortality.

Looking for other quick ways to get fit? Check out ISU Extension’s “Quick Fit,” a program of exercises you can complete in only 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week: store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/EDC247.

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