Research confirms that elevated glucose levels, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes lead to Alzheimer’s.
That may explain how these two life-altering diseases came to be dance partners in the health-crisis tango that’s striding across North America: 23 million people have type 2 diabetes, and 79 million people have pre-diabetes (it’s not inevitable, but many of those folks will develop type 2). At the same time, the incidence of Alzheimer’s is expected to double by 2050.
This one-two punch of diabetes and Alzheimer’s is not something anyone wants to walk into. But our diabetes-proof, protect-your-brain, four-step plan will keep you healthier, happier and wiser.
1. Maintain a healthy fighting weight with healthy food choices (lots of veggies and fruits, 100 percent whole grains and no added sugars or sugar syrups).
2. Go for 30-plus minutes of exercise five days a week; we love walking 10,000 steps a day.
3. Get friendly with healthy fats. There’s the odd-numbered omegas: omega-3 DHAs, omega-7 and omega-9; plus poly- and monounsaturated fats like canola oil. Lose trans and saturated fats in baked goods, meats and full-fat dairy.
4. Reduce stress with meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, fun and helping others. Why does this work? Well, stress can kill brain cells and lead to weight gain, which can lead to inflammation, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Don’t sweat it
Many people would like to avoid sweat as much as possible. We get the aversion, but we are fans of the summer glow — in winter, too. And we hope you’ll avoid antiperspirants (deodorants may be OK if they do not contain fragrance or phthalates) and follow our tips.
• Embrace the health benefits of a good sweat. Activity-induced sweat raises your heart rate (in a cool room, you’ll sweat when your heart rate is over 80 percent of your age-adjusted maximum), reduces blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels, dispels stress hormones, and burns calories faster. Passive sweat — from a sauna — is beneficial if you don’t overdo it. Too hot or too long can stress your heart. Bonus: When you sweat a lot, the body odor will go as you cleanse impurities from your system.
• Do you get flop sweats (high anxiety can make for some strong body odors)? Meditation and regular physical activity help calm your system down. Find someone — friend, therapist, family member — to talk to about your nervousness. In the meantime, keep your underarms bacteria-free (they generate the smell) by shaving your pits, applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer or taking a very small dose of a beta blocker (high blood pressure meds).
• Plagued by hyperhidrosis — severely excessive sweating? Botox can turn off the tap for up to six months.
Whooping it up: Not a good idea
In the first half of this year, there were more than 18,000 reported cases of whooping cough — and we’re heading for the most since 1959 (40,000), when the vaccine was introduced.
Whooping cough (also called pertussis) is a bacterial infection that starts with cold-like symptoms, but after a week or two triggers coughing fits (whoops) that leave a person breathless. Infected infants, who account for half of the deaths from the disease, may cough slightly or not at all.
Why is whooping cough making a comeback? First, the newer formulation of the vaccine (since about 1996) seems to wear off sooner than the previous one, making people vulnerable. And most teens and adults don’t get boosters; so they can get and spread the disease. Also, infants start the five-part vaccination at 2 months and are not immunized until they get the third shot. So they can catch it from siblings, parents and caretakers who might not even know they have it.
To help stop this epidemic:
• Have all infants fully vaccinated with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis).
• Get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster. It’s for kids 11-12 years old; everyone who has contact with pregnant women or infants; women of childbearing age, before, during or immediately after pregnancy; and everyone 64 or older who has not had a booster within the past 10 years.
Bike helmets: That’s using your noggin
What do bicyclists need to protect them in a bicycling accident? A good-fitting helmet that meets U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, comes in a bright color and has good air vents and thick, secure straps that are easy to adjust. The inside padding is generally made from crushable, expanded polystyrene. Because it absorbs impact well (soaks it up and dissipates it), once it meets the pavement or tree trunk, it’s usually time for a new helmet.
Unfortunately, riders of all ages skip the helmet and pay the price: Every year 140,000 kids under age 14 end up in the hospital for traumatic brain injury because of a bicycle crash; and 91 percent of bicyclists killed in 2009 were not wearing helmets.
Whether you’re a mountain biker, a commuter, a kid on the sidewalk or a long-distance cyclist, check out these helmets rated by Consumers Report testers. None of them won the “excellent for impact protection” award, but kids’ Bontrager Solstice Youth and adults’ Specialized Echelon were rated very good. (The round dome styles for skateboarders and cyclist scraped the bottom of the barrel.)