Although they aren’t meant to replace prescribed medication or doctor-approved therapies, herbal supplements can be good additions to your care plan. Here are three that are worth knowing about.
The leaves of the ginkgo biloba tree have been used for medicinal purposes since as far back as 2600 BC. The ginkgo leaf extract we use today has been shown, notably, to improve blood circulation, which allows the brain, eyes, ears and legs to function better.
A type of polyunsaturated fatty acid, omega-3 has a long list of potential health benefits, including relieving stiffness and joint pain, and lowering triglyceride levels—which translates to a decreased risk of heart disease. This fatty acid occurs naturally in plant sources such as nuts and seeds and in certain fish.
These and countless other health-promoting products, not to mention a huge stock of nutritional food and beverages, can be found at your local health food store.
Note that any product — natural or otherwise — strong enough to produce a positive effect, such as alleviating stress or pain, also comes with its risks and side effects. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking herbal supplements, especially if you take medications, are pregnant or breast-feeding or have chronic health problems.
Seniors and sleep: Physical changes may interrupt life-long sleep patterns
Maybe you used to be a night owl, watching late night television or reading past midnight.
But now? Some older people discover that, as they age, they become tired much earlier in the night and rise well before dawn.
This actually has a name: Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome, according to the National Sleep Foundation. It shouldn’t be especially alarming, but it can be annoying. The natural circadian rhythms that coordinate body functions advance in time with age, so people get plenty of sleep (from seven to eight hours) but everything happens earlier. Experts do not know why this happens, but they usually treat the issue with bright light therapy, exposing the body to light when it should be awake.
Then there is insomnia. About 44 percent of older persons can’t sleep for a few nights per week. But insomnia can become chronic.
Medical conditions can be responsible for insomnia. Among them snoring, a primary cause of sleep disruption for 90 million Americans. Snoring can be due to weight and aging. Very loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, associated with high blood pressure, among other things. Sleep apnea causes people to repeatedly wake up as they breathe, then stop breathing. It can and should be treated, doctors say.
Meet the eggplant
Large and purple or small and green, eggplants are a staple of many vegetarian diets, and for good reason. Here are the main health benefits of the eggplant.
It’s packed with antioxidants
The flesh of eggplants is rich in chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that prevents cancer and lowers cholesterol. In addition, the skin of the purple eggplant gets its pigmentation from nasunin, a compound that can slow cancer growth.
It’s rich in vitamins
It’s rich in minerals
Eggplant flesh provides large amounts of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. All three of these minerals help maintain healthy bones. In addition, phosphorus promotes good kidney function and muscle health.
It’s high in fiber
One cup of cooked eggplant provides 12 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake. Consuming eggplant will allow you to stay regular and may help reduce cholesterol levels.
In addition to being healthy, the eggplant is a versatile ingredient, perfect as a side dish or as a main course.
Eggplant flesh can taste a little bitter and its sponginess means it absorbs a lot of oil while cooking. Luckily, all you need to do to solve both problems is disgorge the eggplant by slicing it in half, sprinkling salt over it and letting it stand for an hour. Don’t forget to rinse off the salt before cooking.
5 tips to help alleviate arthritic pain
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as one out of four Americans live with arthritis. For many seniors, the condition makes everyday activities difficult. Here are five tips to help manage the pain.
1. Use medication
Acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve certain types of arthritic pain. Talk to your doctor about which over-the-counter drugs might help you and make sure to closely follow your physician’s recommendations. Be sure to also let your doctor know about any other health issues you have. If you’re planning on doing something that might cause pain, take a dose 30 minutes before starting.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
3. Mind your diet
A healthy diet can help mitigate arthritic pain. Probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to alleviate inflammation, while red meat, sugar and foods high in fat can make it worse.
Physical activity releases endorphins, which can help alleviate pain. Moreover, regular exercise reduces joint stiffness. While working out, however, be mindful of your pain and heed any signals telling you to stop.
5. Try supplements
Taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may help those with moderate to severe arthritic pain lessen their discomfort. While the effectiveness of using them hasn’t been substantiated, if they seem to work for you, they pose no long-term health risks. Talk to your doctor about which brand to use.
While there’s no way to entirely eliminate arthritic pain, these strategies can help reduce it both in the short term and the long term. With a little patience, you’ll discover what works best for you.
4 ways to deal with urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence can affect anyone, but it’s most common among seniors. Though leaks can be embarrassing and cause some people to avoid social situations, staying active, both physically and socially, is key to a healthy lifestyle. Here are four things you can do to stop stressing about incontinence.
1. Get protection. There are a variety of pads and protective garments you can purchase to minimize the impact of accidents. Choosing a model that fits well and is adapted to the severity of your leaks will allow you to go about your day without worries.
2. Exercise. Kegel exercises are used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which help control urination. Ask a health care professional to teach you these exercises and integrate them in your routine.
3. Ask about medication. Anticholinergic medications can help control the muscle spasms that cause leaks. Talk to your doctor to learn more.
4. Train your bladder. Bladder training is a behavioral incontinence treatment that works by reinforcing certain habits. For instance, waiting increasingly longer periods before using the bathroom after feeling the urge to urinate can help you get in the habit of relieving yourself at a normal frequency.
The first thing to do when dealing with incontinence is to talk to your doctor so you can discover the root of the problem. Once the cause of your incontinence is determined, the best treatment option for your particular case can be identified.
How massage therapy can help reduce anxiety
Thanks to their relaxing effects, massages can help alleviate some of the physical and psychological symptoms associated with anxiety.
Therapeutic massage provides you with the opportunity to clear your mind and stop focusing on negative thoughts. As your body relaxes during massage, your brain relaxes too, especially if you’re using a technique that includes breathing exercises. However, don’t forget that anxiety isn’t just in your head.
Bodily tension resulting from anxious thoughts reinforces your brain’s sense that something is amiss, which makes it tell your body that you’re in danger. Physical symptoms of anxiety include muscle tension, headaches, shortness of breath and insomnia, all of which massage can help alleviate.
But if your anxiety is severe and interferes with daily activities, it’s crucial that you consult a doctor. Massages, whatever the type, can’t replace medication or therapy. Nevertheless, massage therapy can be part of a well-rounded treatment plan, as it does temporarily relieve many symptoms of anxiety.
Talk to a licensed massage therapist today to find the best technique to help alleviate your symptoms.
The lizard in your brain needs a blanket — even in summer
Most people cover up with sheets or blankets even in summer. But, why?
The lizard is why.
Somewhere deep in your brain, when you enter Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, the body becomes reptilian, unable to regulate its temperature.
According to Atlas Obscura, sleep studies have proved this and it might be one reason why humans use blankets or sheets, even in the summer.
The other reason could be behavioral. After all, we are used to coverings. We associate them with sleep. We’ve been covered at night since infancy.
It could be that humans throughout history always wanted coverings, but it’s also true that most didn’t have them. For centuries, only the very rich had bedding because making a huge linen sheet was expensive. Instead, families, animals, and even strangers, slept together for warmth.
After the Middle Ages, more people came to have bedding but it was expensive, accounting for a third of the value of a whole household. Even until the 1850s in the American frontier, beds were frequently part of a will.
Studies of contemporary non-modern societies show that nearly all use some sort of covering, either woven fibers or plant material. This is true even in tropical climates.
Lately, weighted blankets have become popular as studies have shown they are associated with higher levels of serotonin and tend to reduce anxiety.