The "Grumpy Old Men" (played by Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Burgess Meredith) made us laugh, but those ill-tempered characters weren’t doing themselves any favors. The trick to maintaining vitality for the long haul is to cultivate a good attitude and upbeat mood. We like the comedian Mrs. Hughes’ point of view: "I’ve been married so long, my oldest daughter is my age!"
So, if you’re lonely, frustrated or angry about the shape you’re in, listen up. Those feelings can make you grumpy and elevate your level of the stress hormone cortisol. Before you know it, you’ve got high blood pressure, heart problems, fuzzy thinking, decreased muscle tone, weakened bones and immune system and an even worse outlook on life.
Here’s how to stay on the sunny (and healthy) side of the street.
1. Move it and shake it up. Exercise keeps your brain sharp and attitude positive even more than words games or puzzles. Walking daily does the trick, indoors or out. We say aim for 10,000 steps a day.
2. Eat right: No food felons (trans fats, saturated fat, added sugars and sugar syrups, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole). Poor nutrition makes it tough to fight stress, feel happy or defeat disease.
3. Reach out to family and friends. Staying connected increases happiness and good health.
New HPV, PAP recommendations
When Eva Peron died of cervical cancer in 1952, she didn’t know what she was suffering from. In those days, some doctors were willing to keep the “C” word from patients. Times sure have changed – and for the better. Cervical cancer rates have plummeted more than 50 percent in the past 30 years; we now know what causes it (certain strains of the HPV virus); there’s an HPV vaccination (ask your doc if you’re eligible); and we’re never reluctant to talk about cancer screening, since it saves lives.
However, recent headlines saying women need a PAP smear (to check for cervical cancer) only every three to five years don’t tell the whole story. The new American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations are:
1. Women younger than 21 don’t need a PAP smear, even if they’re sexually active, although they (and women of all ages) should get a yearly gyno exam to check for STDs and other problems.
2. From ages 21 to 30: Screen every two years with PAP smear only; no HPV test.
3. Women 30 to 65 who’ve never had cervical dysplasia (precancerous cells) should get a PAP smear and an HPV test (two swabs, one exam). If both are negative – no cancer or precancerous cells – your risk of cervical cancer is almost zero, says ACOG. You don’t need another combo test for five years.
4. If you don’t want an HPV test or don’t have access to one, get a PAP every three years.
Flu shots protect the heart
Flu shots are effective 52 percent to 72 percent of the time. That protects you – and especially children, people with diabetes, the elderly and others who are most vulnerable – from complications (pneumonia is a biggie).
And now we know there are added huge benefits: Getting a flu shot slashes cardiac events, such as stroke, heart attack and even heart-related death, by 50 percent.
Yes, there are side effects (some major), but the benefits are 4,000 times greater than any of the risks. Still, only 36 percent of Canadians and 42 percent of Americans are inoculated each year. So, if you haven’t gotten a flu shot for yourself or your children, here’s the drill:
• Everyone 6 months or older should get a vaccination.
• There are two options: an injection (uses an inert virus) that’s for everyone, and a nasal spray (uses a live virus), which is NOT for children 6 to 24 months or adults over 50. There are other restrictions, so if you can’t handle a shot, ask your doc or pharmacist if the spray is OK for you.
No cheating when eating
Even one fast-food meal – just one – damages your arteries. If you slam a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich, plus hash browns (58 percent of calories from saturated fat and no omega-3s), your arteries become 24 percent less dilated (more tight and stiff). That’s a trigger for restricted blood flow, lack of energy and impotence.
So instead, try our Happy Arteries meal plan.
1. Start with a high-fiber breakfast of 100 percent whole grains and nonfat dairy (for protein). Women: Aim for 30 grams of fiber a day. Men: 30 to 40 grams. Gals reduce their risk of breast cancer, and everyone lowers LDL cholesterol, eases gastro upset and cuts the risk of diabetes by about 61 percent.
2. For lunch, opt for walnuts, salmon and vegetables cooked in olive oil (loaded with omega-3s and omega-9s, both healthy fats). Your arteries relax and blood pressure goes down – that’s heart healthy.
3. Have plenty of protein, spread out in three meals and two snacks. You need about 66 grams a day if you weigh 165 pounds. Sources: beans, edamame and nuts (they have 16 to 18 grams per cup), nonfat dairy, skinless poultry, and fish – particularly omega-3-rich salmon and trout.
4. Bonus Tip: Pay with cash at the grocer. You’ll cut down on the bad-for-you (impulse) stuff and end up making healthier purchases.
Power up, not off
The Energizer Bunny keeps going and going – and many of you who don’t run on batteries seem to think that powering up with a super-stoked energy drink will give you that kind of get-up-and-go. But these beverages may end up flipping your turn-off switch instead.
The Food and Drug Administration has five unconfirmed reports of death from the drinks, likely from irregular heartbeats. That’s because the caffeine in energy drinks can add up to five times what’s in a cup of coffee. One cup may have 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, while a single energy drink packs 240 to 500 mg – way too much. Children under 12 should have less than 45 to 85 mg of caffeine per day, and adults should consider staying below 250 mg per four-hour period.
There are more potential problems with the brews: Many have added B vitamins. Take these on top of a daily multivitamin, and you may increase your risk for cancer. Some drinks also have amino acids, such as lecithin, which studies show can increase liver inflammation. So, lose the brew, keep the multi – it’s your insurance policy against an imperfect diet.
Our advice for increasing your zip: Adults, enjoy two to four cups of filtered, home-brewed coffee, black or green tea or caffeinated water a day. That’ll give you caffeine’s benefits: lower blood pressure, 20 percent less risk for Alzheimer’s disease, 30 percent less risk for diabetes and 40 percent less risk for Parkinson’s disease. Kids, get your energy boost from lots of activities that engage both mind and body. (Moms and dads, that’ll help you, too.)