The Annotated Body Get healthy and stay healthy with these head-to-toe tips
healthy and keep going with these head-to-toe tips
BRAIN Walking for one hour three times a week improved cognitive performance in seniors with vascular cognitive disorder – the second most common cause of dementia. And an international review found that one in three cases of dementia could be prevented by addressing nine factors, including lack of physical activity. GUMS An extract from wild blueberries has been shown to improve oral health by helping prevent plaque, the buildup of which can cause inflammation and gum disease. Eating wild blueberries is also linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease – a condition associated with gum disease. EYES Eating three or more servings of fruit a day may lower risk of age-related macular degeneration – the primary cause of vision loss in older adults – by 36 per cent compared with eating 1.5 servings a day. SMILE It’s free and has whole-body benefits, releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress, for one. It also releases endorphins (a natural pain reliever), serotonin (an antidepressant) and dopamine (signalling pleasure in the brain). Plus, people perceive others as more attractive when they make eye contact and – you guessed it – smile. HEART According to a study by Public Health Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, you are six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza (and three-quarters of people who do are over 65). By reducing the risk of influenza, the flu shot can also help reduce heart attack risk. CORE Tai chi moves, which involve gradual shifts of weight from one foot to another combined with rotating the trunk and extending the limbs, offer challenges that increase balance. Go to www.taoist.org/ find-a-class. WEIGHT LOSS A recent study showed that intermittent fasting - participants ate between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. only – helped control daily hunger swings and stimulated the body to burn fat reserves at night.
LOWER BACK PAIN Although it’s prescribed less than 50 per cent of the time, recent studies show that exercise is an essential treatment for lower back pain. The Bird Dog, as mentioned on pg. 78, is one recommended exercise. Wall sits are another: stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until you’re flat against it. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10 and then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat eight to 12 times. Swimming also offers a low-impact option that naturally supports the body; just avoid strokes that twist the torso. HIPS Keeping hip muscles loose helps stabilize the pelvis as you walk, which can help prevent falls. Here’s a simple stretch you can do seated in a chair: cross your right ankle onto your left knee. Gently press down on your knee until a stretch is felt. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat with your left leg. If you are unable to bring your leg onto your knee, simply cross your feet at the ankles while pressing the knee down and to the side. IBS British researchers suggest that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have their vitamin D levels checked. Supplementation was found to decrease symptoms. BLADDER We’ve heard all about Kegels – squeezing and releasing the muscles you use to hold in urine – to help with incontinence, of which there are three types: stress, overflow and urge. People with the latter, overactive bladders, can also try bladder guarding. It teaches you to cope with triggers, such as washing dishes or hearing water run. Squeeze muscles to hold in urine before a trigger, sending a message to the brain that this is not the time to go. KNEES & JOINTS Avocado is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lubricate joints and reduce arthritic symptoms. And fats unique to this fruit, including phytosterol and stigmasterol, as well as polyhydroxylated fatty acids are shown to help reduce inflammation. BONES In addition to a healthy diet including plenty of calcium and vitamin D, bestselling wellness author Liz Earle recommends weightbearing exercise to keep bones strong. As she describes it in her new book, The Good Menopause Guide, “Stress in the form of a load (or weight-bearing) stimulates calcium uptake and new bone formation.” This includes any type of upright movement such as walking, dancing, tennis and golf whereby pressure flows through the spine, pelvis and legs. FEET Here’s a high-tech solution to foot damage that can be otherwise missed by people with loss of sensation from diabetic neuropathy. Siren socks have sensors woven in to monitor temperature and alert wearers via app of inflammation – a potential sign of infection or injury. The socks are also seamless, moisture-wicking and machine-washable. US$20 monthly subscription, siren.care