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Life free and die younger, plus: dementia & happiness | #13
This month, we published three great posts I definitely recommend you read:
I published a longish piece about insulin resistance, which is not just about diabetes management! If I could choose “one thing” to focus on for maximizing longevity, it would probably be this.
I also did a post titled, “An integrative approach to mental health.” If you are dealing with any mental wellness related issues, definitely take a look.
Finally, contributor Russell Max Simon wrote a great piece about the history of the no-smoking campaigns and how companies use marketing to try to hack our autonomy, which been a running theme here at Dignity Integrative.
Ok—now, on to this month’s recommendations!
#1: The retirement challenge that ‘no one talks about’
We usually worry about money, time, and our health after we retire. But according to an 85-year-long study on happiness, the one thing that should most concern us is the strength of our social connections. It is one of the reasons I ask every one of my new patients about their tribe. For some that is family and for others a tight group of friends. Isolation and loneliness as we age is growing concern only made worse over the last several years.
#2: Live free and die younger (the sad state of life expectancy in the United States)
The title really does say it all. Life expectancy has been falling in the US for the last several years. While the causes are multifactorial the reality is we are falling behind other developed countries. Our overall life expectancy is down to 76 years and we are seeing rising rates of pediatric and maternal mortality.
So what is it about the land of the free that is causing us to fall behind other developed countries? A big part of the difference between life and death in the U.S. is people dying or being killed before age 50.
Some of the policies identified as helpful include universal, better-coordinated health care, strong health and safety protections, broad access to education, and more investments to help kids get off to a healthy start.
#3: Want a better gut microbiome? Do this.
I’m obsessed with the microbiome. The trillions of bacteria, viruses and other creatures which travel with us helping to break down food, maintain our immune system and give feedback to our brain about our environment.
We know that athletes have a different microbiome than non-athletes. The good news is that moving that magic number of more than 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise (brisk walking, lifting weights, swimming, biking, etc) results in a healthier microbiome.
So get out there and move!
#4: The simple physical test that predicts longevity
What’s a simple test to see your risk of dying in the next 10 years? How about being able to get up off the floor without using any support. The test, called the sit to stand test is highly predictive of risk. Those ages 50 to 80 who scored in the lowest range, 0 to 3, had up to a 6 times greater chance of dying than those in the highest scores (8 to 10). About 40% of those in the 0 to 3 range died within 11 years of the study. It is a test of balance, coordination and core muscle strength.
#5: Two ways to lower risk of dementia
Eating a traditional Mediterranean-type diet—rich in foods such as seafood, fruit, and nuts—may help reduce the risk of dementia by almost a quarter, a new study has revealed. Using data from the UK Biobank (a huge database for researchers) the study followed over 60,000 individuals for over 9 years. The authors note that even for people at higher risk for dementia the Mediterranean Diet may be protective.
Meanwhile, this new study concludes that increased intake of magnesium through leafy greens and nuts leads to better brain health as we age. Multiple studies have shown lower rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment with higher magnesium intake. Curiously the neuro-protective effects of magnesium may benefit women more than men.