There’s new data on how to take a licking and keep on ticking. Like the old Timex watch commercials, the key to longevity is resilience: the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. But it’s not always easy to do. For about 20 percent of us, it comes naturally (some research shows the numbers are higher); those people are glad to get back into the swing of life pretty quickly, feeling stronger for having weathered the storm. For others, it’s a long, slow slog through the blues until you come out the other side. Fortunately, everyone can learn how to gain the health benefits of resilience: less stress, lower risk of heart disease, less depression and anxiety. Here are three ways you can strengthen your ability to bounce back:
1. Cultivate an optimistic outlook, which is a key part of being resilient. For us, looking on the bright side is enhanced with daily meditation. This is how we say “bye” to the stress that causes grumpiness.
2. Keep your body strong and limber by eating a diet powered by lean protein and lots of veggies, fruits and 100 percent whole grains. When you feel physically strong, your self-esteem increases, another vital part of resilience.
3. Nurture your social connections. They provide security and love, and help keep emotions on an even keel. Blood pressure goes down; ability to cope goes up.
So reach out and touch someone, physically and emotionally.
Get hip to Hep C
What do Naomi Judd, Christopher Kennedy Lawford and Gregg Allman have in common? Hepatitis C. They, like 2 million of their fellow baby boomers, were infected with this virus that causes chronic liver disease. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm: If you’re a boomer, get tested, get treated, get on it today! Why? Because people born between 1945 and 1965 are the segment of the population most likely to have hep C, and yet most have no idea they are infected.
Hep C takes its time chipping away at the liver, and decades can pass without any noticeable symptoms. During that time, an infected person may unknowingly pass the infection to others through contact with infected blood (sharing a needle, toothbrush or razor) or sexual activity. The newly infected person may then unknowingly pass it along, too. And that can repeat again and again. See why we have a problem?
Hep C causes liver disease from 70 percent to 85 percent of the time and can trigger cirrhosis or liver cancer. But the good news is that with treatment, 75 percent of cases can be cured. So go to your doctor for a simple one-time blood test. It checks for antibodies to the hep C virus. If you’ve got the insidious bug, you need to know what subtype of the infection you have; it changes treatment choices and effectiveness. Knowledge is power — the power to protect your health and the health of those with whom you come in contact.
Stop nighttime leg cramps
A nighttime charley horse can get you up and dancing, but unlike two-stepping at the club, it’s no fun. Theories abound about why these painful muscle cramps happen and how to prevent them. Everything from quinine to medications such as anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxers and vascular dilators are prescribed. For most, and most of the time, four simple steps will prevent this late-night, foot-stamping samba.
Step 1: Get plenty of vitamin D-3, magnesium, potassium, and calcium (get tested for your blood levels of these and iron, too). Deficiencies are linked to cramping. From food and supplements aim for:
• 1,000 IU of D-3 daily. Best sources: herring, salmon, sardines and fortified soy milk.
• 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium citrate daily. Best sources: dark leafy greens, almonds, canned salmon or sardines.
• 400 to 500 milligrams of magnesium. Best sources: pumpkin seeds, spinach and almonds.
Step 2: Stretch before you hit the hay. Stand 18 to 30 inches from a wall; place palms at shoulder height against the wall. Lean in until you have a full stretch on the back of each calf. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat.
Step 3. Stay hydrated: Drink water all day long — a little at a time, so you’re never thirsty. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll be waking up in the middle of the night, not to stamp out cramps but to pee.
Step 4. Try 900 milligrams of DHA-omega-3, good for brain, eyes and cramps, and maybe add 200 milligrams of omega-7. (We’ve received many reports of this working since we first wrote about this subject.)
Nuts for your guts: Get pistachioed!
An interesting study looked at the amount of healthful bacteria in the poop of pistachio-eaters compared with those who ate other nuts, or none at all. Turns out that pistachios came out the winner for promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the digestive tract; almonds ranked No. 2.
What is it about this funny, little green seed? Seems it’s packed with dietary fiber and nutrients such as B-6, thiamin, manganese and copper. Bacteria in our guts, which we need for healthy digestive and immune systems, dine happily on that mixture.
And gut bacteria are a hungry lot: Between 500 and 1,000 species of bacteria live in our intestines (the total count of bacteria inside you is in the trillions). This community can make up three to five pounds of your body weight. And they are about 60 percent of the solid matter in your feces. That’s why you need to constantly replenish and nurture your intestinal flora — such a pretty-sounding word for the bacteria that live inside us.
So, have a handful of pistachios (1 ounce equals 160 calories) in place of a nutrient-empty snack like chips or soda, and you’ll crack the secret to better digestive health. And did we mention a handful of walnuts eaten 30 minutes before a meal can help you lose weight?
A healthy pregnancy for healthier adult children
A new study shows that being overweight before and during pregnancy can cause your child — as a 30-year-old — to have hypertension and other problems of the heart, from abnormal heartbeat to high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol.
Seventy percent of overweight women gain too much while pregnant, and that puts excess fat on a newborn. This kicks off the slide to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart problems as a young adult.
We’re committed to helping women and their yet-to-be-born children enjoy a long and healthy life. So if you’re overweight and thinking about becoming pregnant, make a promise to yourself and your child: “I will get fit and shrink my waist before I get pregnant.”
To jump-start you on your road to a healthier life, here are some of our favorite tips.
1. Reduce portion size with Dr. Mike’s Shortcut to Better Nutrition: Divide your 8-inch (no larger) dinner plate into four sections. One fourth gets whole grains, one half gets veggies and one fourth gets lean protein. No skyscrapers.
2. Burn fat faster with Dr. Oz’s 3-Pack of Power:
• Get EGCG. Green tea’s potent polyphenol zaps fat. Harness it with 500 milligrams a day.
• Move more. Enjoy a morning and afternoon walk; get into chores. (Making the bed burns 12 calories; vacuuming the living room, 25.) Extra activity creates real weight loss.
• Boost metabolism. Spice up food with chilies to burn more calories.