Wednesday, 31 July 2019

What can we do to boost our memories?

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I don't know about you, but for the last few years I have often entered a room and then wondered why I had gone there. It's a common issue - and it does come more as you get older. Another reminder that time is going fast. Lol

But I have also found - I am nearing 53 - that I forget names quicker, my recall of films and actors is going, and many times I am floundering when it comes to recalling song lyrics that I used to be able to sing over and over again.

But can we do anything to help us keep our memories?   Let's have a look at some suggestions by experts (although I am not sure exactly what they are experts in to be honest).

Apparently, eggs are rich in Choline - an essential nutrient linked to higher performance in memory tests, and a reduced risk of dementia - so say researchers from Boston University. They should be poached, boiled, or scrambled though - preferably not fried.  Eggs are also a great source of protein and will keep you fuller for longer.

Blood Pressure
This is another reason to make sure you have a healthy bloody pressure as undiagnosed high blood pressure can damage and narrow blood vessels in your brain. Over time, this can sometimes affect memory, cognition and language skills. Lifestyle changes and better nutrition help. But do get checked.

Arguably the most important factor in memory formation and consolidation is night-time sleep, says Professor Colin Espie for  Our own Lazza has serious issues around sleep at the moment - which he puts down to a mixture of stress, a bad knee, and general life.
Apparently, people given a new task to learn recall it more accurately after a period of sleep. Try not to go to bed wired, instead make sure you are tired (I'm a poet!!).

Possible underactive thyroid
If you are tired, gaining weight, and feeling cold, it could possible be as a result of hypothyroidism. If your thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroxine, everything to do with the body slows down, including the brain's function, having an effect of recall and memory. A simple blood test can diagnose the condition, which can then be easily treated with medication.

It probably goes without saying, but if you are boozing your brain processes slow down and your memory can be impaired, says the charity Drinkaware. If you drink a lot, the brain can stop recording into the memory store. This is why you can wake up the next day with a blank about things you did or said. Avoid binge-drinking and count your units. It's common sense.

Physical Inactivity
When you exercise, oxygen gets pumped around the body and into your brain. Aerobic exercise can expand the brain and restore powers or memory lost with age - and this comes from a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The best thing is to aim to get outdoors every day for a walk. Also try and do something a bit more vigorous - like dancing, gardening, jogging, cycling etc.All of these things are proven to boost the brain and improve cognitive functioning.

HMHB says:
Our brains are truly awesome, but like anything as we get older they can lose some of their strengths and abilities. Anything we can do that can help prevent this slow down must be a good thing.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Too much salt in your diet can kill you. Research here.

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According to researchers, thousands of us are dying of heart attacks, strokes and stomach cancer after a campaign to reduce salt in supermarket food stalled.  A relaxation in regulation since 2011 is said to be responsible for nearly 10,000 extra heart disease ad stroke cases over six years.  And experts say the figure will reach 26,000 by 2025, along with 3,800 additional deaths from stomach cancer.  This is distressing news.

UK adults are advised to eat no more than 6g of salt daily, but most consume an average of 8g.  According to food experts, three-quarters of salt in our diets is in processed food, such as bread, ready meals and soups.

The Food Standards Agency requested all food manufacturers to reduce salt content by up to 20 per cent, and monitored them between 2003 and 2010.  It led to a salt intake fall of 0.2g per day in men, and 0.12g in women. But the Public Health Responsibility Deal allowed the industry to set targets as part of voluntary pledges.  Afterwards the decline in salt intake slowed up. This new system was criticised for lacking "robust and independent target setting, monitoring, and enforcement."

Doctor Anthony Laverty, who led the study by Imperial College London, added "evidence from around the world is now showing mandatory approaches are much more effective than self-regulation in reducing the amount of salt and sugar in the diet."  They took their figures from the data gathered by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

HMHB says:
We are constantly warned about the risks of consuming processed food on a regular basis. Salt content can be high - just check the labels. Takeaways can also be high in content. It is just about being sensible with your diet. Cook more for a start. You are then in control of the recipe. Don't stop having processed if you like it, but cut down. It can save your life!!

Is Obesity just a disease? Let's see what experts argue

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This is a subject that will have people split down the middle.
Is Obesity a disease??  HMHB will have their own say at the end of this blog entry, but first let us take a look at what some experts say.

Well, Liverpool University Professor John Wilding, from the European Coalition for People living with Obesity (ECPO), (honestly, there is an organisation called that), has said that more than 200 genes influence weight.  In fact they say that obesity should be classed as a disease to encourage people to seek NHS treatment. They believe the role played by genetics mean that many cannot help being overweight.

By reclassifying obesity, medics say sufferers will be able to get help for related conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cancers.

The ECPO told the British Medical Journal "it is not an individual's fault if they develop obesity."

They believe categorising it as a disease would urge folk to seek professional help rather than rely on "fad diets or non-prescription aids".

However, Doctor Richard Pile, a General Practitioner from St Albans, Hertfordshire, said it would "stop people making changes". He added: "it encourages fatalism, promoting the fallacy that genetics are destiny."

In January 2019, the Royal College of Physicians called on the government to recognise obesity as a disease.  The American Medical Association does recognise obesity as a disease already.

HMHB says:
This is a tough one, and this is just our opinion. Everyone, including you, can decide for yourselves. But we do not see it as a disease, or illness. Rather, the result of some conditions - such as depression, stress and anxiety. Some people use alcohol or drugs to help them through tough times. Others use food, Our own Lazza has experienced this, so we do not belittle or judge anyone. Obesity (or overeating) is a result of how we react to other recognised medical conditions.
However, nobody forces food down our throats. Noone pumps drink into our bodies. We choose to eat and drink when we want. We choose foods that are processed and maybe not as good as others. And this can lead to weight gain.
Unless it is a very serious medical condition, you only put on weight if you are not in a calorie deficit (you use up less calories than you eat in the day).  But it is your choice - even if influenced by mental health problems.
By saying it is a disease would mean it is something you can catch, or takes responsibility away from the individual. I, Lazza, am overweight, and am doing something about it, by changing diet and exercising more - that is the miracle cure!!  But also I have addressed mental health problems behind my behaviour.  Being overweight was not an illness, but a by product of my mental health problems over time. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Do you have a healthy tongue? Let's open those mouths and find out.

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It's funny, but when you are thinking about oral health we almost always only think about or teeth and gums. However, another huge component of oral health is the tongue. This large muscle is responsible for some of our most essential functions for staying alive - swallowing, tasting and talking.

As it is a muscle, it can be beneficial to eat a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals that help to fortify muscles, as well as foods that help fight bacteria. Muscles thrive on iron rich foods, such as Spinach and leafy greens, red meat, poultry and seafood. There are several foods that have notable anti-microbial properties when consumed, foods including chopped onions, shitake mushrooms, garlic, coconuts and ginger.

But what does our tongue appearance tell us?

Red Tongue
A healthy tongue should be pinkish in colour and covered in small nodules. So if you have a bright strawberry-red tongue that can indicate inflammation. It is possible it is a lack of vitamin B12 or iron, among other deficiencies. The advise is to get it checked by your GP.

White Spot Patches
This is possible an indication of oral thrush, and is commonly found in both infants and the elderly. It is also found in those with weakened immune systems, or those on antibiotics. It is very easily treated, and the best place to go is your local pharmacy for assistance.

Coated tongue
All healthy tongues have a natural coating due to sloughing of the surface layer (removing dead skin). However, if this does not shed, a furry coating can form, giving a discoloured appearance. The colour and thickness may vary from white to orange or brown, depending on factors like how much tea or coffee you drink, and if you smoke.  The best thing is to try and stay hydrated as a dry mouth can make you more prone, apparently.

Geographic tongue
This is a common condition (although I have to admit this is the first time I have ever heard of it) in which the top and sides of the tongue develop irregular, smooth red patches, usually edged with wavy white lines. It is meant to be harmless, although a small percentage of people say they experience a burning discomfort.   If the tongue is sore, try and avoid acidic and spicy foods.

Tongue ulcers
These come about normally as a result of some kind of trauma. This can include burning your mouth on hot foods or liquids, or even biting your tongue. However, they are also a sign of stress, fatigue, or viruses such as herpes. They normally heal in a week - and you can get over the counter medication at your local pharmacy, but if they persist do speak to a GP.

Mixture of red and white patches or lumps
Now, do not be alarmed, but a patch, spot or lump that seems to persist and not go away could possibly be an indicator of oral cancer. The main risks are smoking, drinking alcohol, and infection with the HPV virus. They commonly will appear at the back or sides, and feel hard or look like ulcers. Do check with your GP. Your dentist automatically looks out for this at every check up, by the way.

HMHB says:
Like always, if you have concerns over any health issue always try and get advice, from a GP or pharmacist. It is part of their job after all. However, you can always help yourself by ensuring a clean mouth, clean teeth, healthy gums, and by obtaining a tongue scraper too.

Should Statins be prescribed earlier? A study says yes.

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Statins are the most commonly prescribed medicines in the United Kingdom. They work to lower the level of cholesterol in your blood. There are a few different kinds of statins, but they generally all work in much the same way.

You may be advised to take statins if you have had a heart attack or stroke in order to reduce your risk of another event. If you have peripheral arterial disease, statins can help to slow the progression. If you are diabetic, you are at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and taking statins will help reduce this risk.

Even if you are in good health you may be prescribed statins if you are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For example, if you have a strong family history of the disease. Statins again can help lower that risk.

But a new study has suggested that Doctors should give statins to patients at a younger age to slash their odds of heart disease in later life. Those aged 18 to 39 with high levels of bad cholesterol were found to remain at risk even if they tackled the issue when older.  Health checks normally start around the age of 40, and by then the cholesterol is already clogging arteries. It is possible that the damage caused then could be irreversible. Experts want testing before the age of 20.

Researchers at Columbia University in New York studied data on more than 36,000 subjects aged 5 to 84. They found high levels of bad cholesterol in young adulthood was linked to a 64 per cent higher risk of heart disease in later life.  Those with high blood pressure when younger were 37 per cent more likely to suffer heart failure as they got older.

HMHB says:
Anything that can help diagnose problems earlier, to give the best opportunity of righting any problems, must be a good thing. Naturally we also need to look at our lifestyle when younger, with exercise and diet too.

Monday, 22 July 2019

How often should we clean our stuff? The evidence is shocking

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Ironically, before knowing what I was going to be entering on this blog, I cleaned my laptop before turning it on. But I must confess, this is probably the first time I have done that in many months - and I did it because it was quite dirty.

It led me to thinking - just how dirty does our stuff get? And therefore, how often should we be cleaning it. Bacteria, food, greasy fingers, liquids etc. All can be unhealthy. So I looked online at a few hygiene sites - and boy was I in for a surprise. I have not been doing well.

Personally, I have not worn pjs since I was around 17. In fact, I find it very difficult sleeping in clothing now, especially socks. I do not know why. But apparently it is recommended that you should wash them twice a week - yep, you read that right. I cannot think of anyone - unless they are rich with loads of clothes, who would do that. We shed dead skin and sweat at night. In fact, the normal amount they say is between 500ml and 750ml. This naturally depends on temperature, bed clothes etc. But all that sweat and skin can lead to a breeding ground for bacteria.

Bag and Wallet
If you think about it, these are definitely items that are brimming with bacteria. Sweaty pockets, always being handled with hands covered in different foods and drinks etc. It is recommended we clean them at least once a week. In fact, I am going to stop typing and go and wipe my one down right now.

Mobile Phone
Just think about how many times you use this during the day, and where your hands have been sometimes, or even the surfaces you may put it down on. They recommend you wipe it over at least once a day. I am back on that when i finish this entry!!!

If you look back at the pyjama entry, then naturally this has some of the same reasons. They are full of dead skin, sweat, and even fungi. And we then lie in that night after night. Just thinking about it is making me nauseous. This is a hot wash, once a week.

Tea Towels
This one is a shocker, but obvious when you think about it. We use them to clean up mess, normally involving some kind of food. Then we wipe plates with them, and cups and glasses. If we touch meat or fish then we can transfer some nasties. In fact you have to say there is a large food poisoning risk if they are not kept clean. Replace them daily is the recommendation. How many of us do that?? Like bedsheets, we should do a hot wash.

Bath Towels
Not as bad as Tea Towels - well I guess we are using them to dry our clean bodies, but if we don't hang them up to dry properly they can then becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Recommended we wash once a week - again a hot wash.

HMHB says:
All interesting. Anything we handle on a day to day basis can affect out health. Think about a travel pass maybe - do we carry round the same drinks bottle?  Many objects can be covered in germs and bacteria. Just be careful.