Tag Archives: Mental Health

Laughter and health

2 Oct

Hearty laughter may lower your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, reduce stress, ease muscle tension, improve your breathing, boost mental function, and burn calories! Imagine nurturing your body and mind with all of these health benefits when you laugh.

HPIM1121Imagine being prescribed laughter for weight loss. It is not as silly as it sounds. Doctor William Fry Jr. coined the terms “internal aerobics” and “stationary jogging” to describe the physical effects of a good belly laugh. His research found that laughter, like physical exercise speeds up heart rate, expands circulation and enhances oxygen intake. In fact, he calculated that 100 to 200 belly-laughs a day is the equivalent of a high-impact workout that can help you burn off as many as 500 calories.

In addition, laughter has been known to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone in our body), ease muscle tension and increase the body’s T-Cell count (type of white blood cell that circulate around our bodies, scanning for cellular abnormalities and infections).

In the book Laughter, A Scientific investigation by Robert R. Provine’s, it is stated that laughter can be instrumental in brain health programs. The psychological benefits of laughter include: increased catecholamine (known to boost mental function), increased pain tolerance levels, and reduced levels of stress which produces an emotional high.

Promote laughter by spending time reminiscing funny events and special celebrations or watching old and new movies. Here is a simple routine to follow that can promote a healthy lifestyle and help you prevent disease:

  • Eat a healthy diet everyday
  • Exercise, even if it is walking a few extra steps each day
  • Get enough sleep at night to feel rested
  • Drink water instead of high sugar drinks and soda
  • Spend time with people who are important to you
  • Laugh, laugh, and laugh – because hearty laughter has a positive relationship to a healthy lifestyle.

 

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Avoiding and delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

26 Sep

Last week I visited the University of Kentucky Sanders Brown Center on Aging. There, two doctors talked about the latest research on how “to feed” our brains to avoid and delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Learning new skills, being physically active, having a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and Omega 3-Fatty acids, and having a social life, were few of the recommendations the doctors made.

We can’t change what is in our genes but we definitely can take care of our health. The doctors mentioned the connection between heart, blood alzheimer_brain[1]sugar, and the brain, and how one affects the others. A diet high in saturated and Trans fats seems to affect our memory.

The relationship may be mediated by a gene called apolipoprotein E, or APOE. This gene is associated with the amount of cholesterol in your blood, and people with a variation of this gene, called APOE e4 are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease. According to Dr. Gad Marshall, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, about 65% of individuals who wind up with dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease in their 60s and 70s have that gene.

The connection is a little clearer when it comes to memory loss that’s related to blood vessel damage. The buildup of cholesterol plaques in brain blood vessels can damage brain tissue, either through small blockages that cause silent strokes, or a larger, more catastrophic stroke. Either way, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally, which can compromise thinking and memory.

A Mediterranean diet is great for a healthy heart. This diet carries the strongest evidence of any diet-related intervention for preserving memory. The Mediterranean diet includes: fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and nuts, olive oil, very limited red meat, no more than four eggs per week, and moderate wine consumption (one glass a day for women).

I consider myself a very active person, who follows a Mediterranean diet. However, I have not learned a new skill in a long time. I will try to learn how to play a musical instrument. Any suggestions?