Body & Health – There are five key health behaviors that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to researchers, but little more than 6 percent of Americans adhere to them. This is the finding of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy.
According to the CDC, chronic diseases – such as stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease – are among the most common and costly health problems in the United States. Approximately half of all adults in the United States – around 117 million people – had at least one chronic health condition in 2012, while 1 in 4 adults had two or more. What is more, in 2010, more than 83 percent of healthcare spending in the United States was for people with at least one chronic health condition, with heart disease and stroke costing $315.4 billion alone.
However, there are a number of health-related behaviors that can lower the risk of such diseases. Dr. Yong Lu, of the Division of Population Health at the CDC, and colleagues set out to investigate the proportion of Americans that adhere to them. The team analyzed data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) – a system of telephone surveys that gathers health-related information from residents across all U.S. states.
The data included almost 400,000 adults aged 21 and older, and the team looked at what proportion of these individuals adhered to five health behaviors known to reduce the risk of death from chronic disease. These five health behaviors are: Not smoking, Exercising regularly, Avoiding alcohol consumption or only drinking in moderation, Maintaining a healthy body weight, Getting a sufficient amount of sleep.
Only 6.3 percent of adults engaged in all five key health behaviors. The results of the study did have some good news; they revealed that only 1.4 percent of the adults failed to engage in any of the five health behaviors. A total of 8.4 percent of the adults engaged in one of the health behaviors, 24.3 percent engaged in two, 35.4 percent engaged in three, and 24.3 percent engaged in four.
However, only 6.3 percent of the adults engaged in all five behaviors, with women, older adults, college graduates, and Asians most likely to report doing so. Compared with adults living in southern U.S. states, adults who lived in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states were more likely to adhere to all five health behaviors. Based on their results, Dr. Lu and colleagues believe there needs to be increased focus on strategies that encourage more Americans to engage in all five health behaviors, which may reduce their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. –Medical News Today
DIET & HEALTH – The obesity epidemic is not only bad for our waistlines, but it could have a significant effect on our minds, as well. “Obesity not only impacts how you look … or physical health, it also impacts your brain,” says Ranjana Mehta, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health in College Station, Texas.
Putting on the pounds not only transforms your belly, but it also alters your brain, a number of studies suggest. These brain changes may, in turn, fuel overeating, leading to a vicious cycle that makes losing weight and keeping it off challenging. Here are five ways obesity changes the brain:
Desensitizes the brain:
Gaining weight may desensitize the brain to the pleasure we get from sugary and fatty foods, prompting us to eat more cookies and cake than we did when we were leaner, research shows. A similar effect is seen in drug users, who eventually require more cocaine or heroin in order to achieve their original high. In a study published Sept. 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers scanned the brains of women as they drank a milkshake. They saw the sugary drink activated an area known as the striatum.
Half a year later, the researchers repeated the experiment on the same women some of whom had gained some weight. The more weight the women had put on in the interim, the less their brains responded to the milkshake in the second experiment. Research on animals has also shown rats fed a diet rich in sugar and fats are less sensitive to the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter dopamine.
Obesity makes us more impulsive:
In obese children, a region of the brain in charge of controlling impulsively, called the orbitofrontal cortex, appears to be shrunken compared with that of lean children, according to a study presented this year at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry meeting in New York. Moreover, the smaller this brain region was, the more likely the adolescents were to eat impulsively, the researchers said.
Increases the risk of dementia:
Having more belly fat is associated with a decrease in total brain volume in middle-aged adults, according to a study published in May in the journal Annals of Neurology. It’s possible that the extra fat triggers inflammation, which puts stress on the body and perhaps impacts the brain, the researchers said. The finding suggests something particular about belly fat, also known as visceral fat the fat located between organs in the abdominal cavity may play a role in reducing brain size.
Visceral fat releases a unique profile of hormones, which may impact the body in a manner different from the hormones released by subcutaneous fat, or fat under the skin, the researchers said. Previous studies have found that people with smaller brain volumes are at higher risk for dementia, and tend to do poorer on cognitive tests.
Yo-Yo dieting may prompt binge-eating under stress
Dieting may change how the brain responses to stress , so that the next time we find ourselves in a bind, or just plain frazzled, we eat more, according to a study published Dec. 1 in the Journal of Neuroscience. In the study, researchers put a group of mice on a diet so that they lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Then, the mice were allowed to put the weight back on, similar to the way human dieters often see the pounds creep back. When the mice were exposed to stressful situations, such as hearing sounds at nighttime, they ate more food than those who had never been placed on a diet.
The mice also had what are known as epigenetic changes changes in the way genes are expressed that don’t involve changes in the gene sequences themselves particularly in genes involved in regulating responses to stress. The researchers said these modifications may have altered the animals’ eating behavior during stress.
Obesity may impair memory
Obesity may impair memory, at least for women after menopause. A study published July 14 in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society looked at memory test scores for 8,745 women ages 65 to 79. The researchers found a 1-point increase in a woman’s body mass index (BMI) was associated with a 1-point decrease on a 100 point memory test. Hormones released by fat could impair memory, the researchers said. These hormones can cause inflammation, which may affect cognition. –Live Science
Life Experiences – “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
If you ask anyone what the purpose of life is, you’ll likely receive wildly different responses. The answer to this question is subjective and deeply personal. Different things are important to us throughout the course of our lives. Yet one thing stays with us no matter where we go: our experiences. Finding ways to make the most of our experiences is a challenge that we face every day. As humans we ascribe value to the things we do, and it’s understandable. We like to feel that what we are doing has purpose. It’s important to find fulfillment in our relationships and careers. Cultivate your friendships and find company cultures that fulfill you. It’s from those experiences in life that we learn and grow. In this process of pursuing what we love, we can learn valuable lessons about ourselves and the world around us.
Pursue what you love
There’s a maturity that comes with the experience of pursuing your dreams. Before you can do that, it’s important to take inventory of your priorities. What are you passionate about? What makes you feel alive? Where do your talents thrive? Not everyone values the same things or thinks the same way, and that’s OK.
The number one way to live a life free of regret is to pursue those interests after you’ve identified them. Passion and drive can wither and die without actions supporting them. Your time is precious. It’s common to struggle with feelings of futility of when you don’t make immediate progress. We can’t choose the outcome of our actions, but we can choose everyday to keep pursuing. Every day take an action, no matter how small, to achieve your goals. Write in your blog, do those push-ups, and practice your singing. Build upon your momentum. Each day is a step forward and none of it is wasted.
Learn from your mistakes
You’ll stumble and you’ll fall, and that’s okay. I’ve taken jobs I shouldn’t have and moved for the wrong reasons. Though that time spent may seem like a waste, I learned a lot from those experiences. It takes time to gain confidence in yourself. It takes time to learn how to stand on your own. Building connections and making friends is a process like anything else. You might fail sometimes, but you’ll learn new ways to achieve your goals in the process.
Guy Kawasaki discusses this in his book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.” He highlights how to pursue your goals, how to project your authentic self, and how to overcome opposition. All of these can be achieved through self-awareness and discovery. His business advice is widely applicable to the many challenges we face in life
If you want to change the world, you need to start by changing yourself. Making mistakes is the surest path to grow and mature as a person. The knowledge you gain will empower you to succeed in the future. Many of my strongest memories come from the times I’ve failed, and those lessons have stayed with me. There is virtue in failure. Time and perspective allows me to see the value of even the most painful situation.
Take care of yourself
Difficult and painful experiences shape our character but can also weigh us down. These frustrations burden and prevent us from moving forward. Much of our progress in life relies on willpower and a healthy emotional state. There is a strong connection between physical and mental health – and for these reasons it’s important to address mental health first. If you’re under immense stress and anxiety, your body and mind both require time to recover. It’s best to rest, recover, and slowly build back up your strength. –Huffington Post