Why Weather Doesn't Matter When it Comes to Joint Pain

For several generations, seniors have tried to predict the next storm rolling in by paying attention to their joint conditions. When a storm was imminent, joint pains simply rose in intensity. Currently, doctors are trying to dispel this myth while educating the public on the real causes of joint pain.

No Conclusive Evidence

The main reason why weather doesn't matter when it comes to joint pain is the proof. It's almost impossible to conduct a study that has sufficient results for the cause-and-effect situation. Doctors would need to create a controlled atmosphere where air pressure, humidity and other weather factors change just like an incoming storm. Patients would need to reside in this bubble atmosphere for a set time period. Any results from this situation would be subjective because the patient's perceptions are warped. This situation simply has a suggestive nature in the mind. With no conclusive evidence, weather and joint pain cannot be directly connected.

Widespread Urban Myth

Seniors might remember far back into the past when doctors actively agreed on weather and joint-pain connections. In fact, this widespread myth actually entered the medical field for many decades. Both patients and doctors made the loose connection because coincidences seemed to be the norm. Today's professionals have more evidence that joint pain is caused by other factors that don't involve the weather. Practicality suggests that internal factors are more to blame than external changes in air, moisture and other features.

Complex Junction Points

Every joint in your body is a complex junction. Bone meets bone with ligaments, tendons and muscles shoring up the meeting point. There are fluid-filled bags, called bursae, that cushion the joint along with cartilage lining the bones themselves. When any of these parts becomes inflamed or damaged, joint pain can occur. Take all of these components into consideration, and you have a high probability of pain emanating from these areas instead of blaming the weather. The most common joints that have pain are often the busiest ones, such as the shoulders, knees and fingers.

Aging and Arthritis 

Joint pain is normally associated with aging. As you enter the retirement years, degenerating issues can occur. Your joints have cartilage that can break down along the ends of the bones. Arthritis is the result of this degeneration. Your joint pain is merely occurring from physical issues instead of external factors. Other arthritis types, such as inflammatory disease, can also create joint pain. In reality, there are 100 types of arthritis. As doctors discover more about the body, other arthritis types may arise. This common ailment causes many pains in millions of people.

Physical Injuries

You don't have to be a tennis star to have joint pain. Daily movements can create pains that become chronic. Kneeling down to garden, hunching over a computer during typing and other activities contribute to physical injuries at the joint level. As you age, pay more attention to your posture and movements during the day. You may not be as flexible as you once were. Keep your hips square, stretch regularly and avoid uncomfortable positions. Listen to your body to prevent most injuries. Turning your head in the wrong direction one day can result in pains along the neck that last for several months.

Everyone has aches and pains at times, but the chronic issues require a doctor's care. Don't be shy about speaking up at your next doctor's visit. Describe any pains and when they occur. Your information can help them successfully diagnose and treat your ailment.

Aerial Yoga: is it for You?

Yoga has become an increasing popular way to reduce stress and increase mobility. It has been recommended for people of all ages as part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have already tried out some yoga classes and are looking for a way to take your training to the next level, aerial yoga could be the next step for you.

Aerial yoga combines all of the strength, flexibility and breathing exercises required for traditional yoga along with a fun twist. You may have seen pictures of yogis suspended in the air from a colorful silk ribbon while maintaining difficult poses. This is typically what you will find in most aerial yoga classes. 

You will not be in the air the entire time that you are taking an aerial yoga class. The beginning of the class will start with some stretching and exercises on floor mats. During this portion of the class, students focus on proper alignment and flexibility so that they are prepared to be suspended in the air. Paying particular attention to should alignment is important because it can help you to maintain a safe position while you are suspended. 

The silk ribbons used to suspend students in the air are referred to as hammocks. They help to support the body in all types of unusual positions and can prevent injury when used correctly. One of the major advantages that aerial yoga has to offer is that students are able to achieve more advanced positions and deeper stretches than what can be achieved in traditional yoga because they can use gravity to their advantage. Having the proper equipment in an aerial yoga class can make all the difference in protecting your safety and preventing any injuries. 

Before you sign up to take your very first aerial yoga class, it is a good idea to ask the teacher how long he or she has been teaching. You will also want to let the teacher know if you have any injuries or health conditions that could make it unsafe for you to be suspended in the air for prolonged periods of time. Make sure that you wear proper attire so that your clothes do not get in the way of you being able to grab the ribbon and remain in the hammock when you are supposed to. You should also remove as much jewelry as possible so that you do not risk any cuts while hanging. 

If you are not quite ready to try out aerial yoga, there are still plenty of benefits to be gained from traditional yoga. You can find classes all over the country for students of all levels of experience. Getting proficient at yoga may take you a couple of classes. Do not be discouraged if you find some of the positions difficult at first because they require repetition and practice before you are able to achieve their full benefits. 

How Exercise Helps the Brain Fight Aging

Everyone has a general understanding that moderate exercise is beneficial to your overall health. Even the smallest amount of exercise can improve your circulation, help fight arthritis, and even improve conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Most people, however, do not realize how beneficial simple exercise is to keeping the brain young.

Exercise Requires Coordination

All forms of exercise require coordination. Because of this, your brain must make the effort to stay coordinated to complete the task. This is very helpful to keeping your brain young. Many people when they age start to lose their ability to maintain their balance or stay coordinated to complete certain tasks. This is why falling is common in the elderly. By keeping your brain active through exercise you will be able to maintain your balance and coordination.

Exercise Requires Dedication

Making a commitment to exercise everyday requires you to make a commitment to the routine. Establishing a routine of any type is beneficial to the brain because the brain is required to remember and perform this routine on command. Repeating an exercise routine helps you retain your memory skills and keeps the brain stimulated.

Feeding Your Brain

Your brain requires fresh blood and pure oxygen to work properly. When you exercise, you are pushing more blood and more oxygen through your system. This means that you will feel more alert and your brain will function at optimal strength. By continuing to exercise, you will feed your brain and help it to stay healthy.

Social Interaction

Many people find that it is easier to exercise with a friend. Going to the gym or attending exercise classes gives you the opportunity to interact with other people. This social interaction is beneficial to your overall mental health, and this benefit extends to your physical brain. Your brain “enjoys” the pleasure hormones that it receives when you are socially interactive and this response keeps your brain active and young.

Health Benefits

There are many medical disorders that can have adverse effects on the brain. High cholesterol, diabetes, even high blood pressure can all take its toll on the brain. When your body is unhealthy your brain will also suffer. Exercising decreases your risk for many of these diseases and can help improve them if you are already suffering from one of these conditions. For every other medical condition you eliminate, prevent, or manage, your brain will benefit from your healthy efforts.

Exercise, when added to a healthy diet, is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body and your brain. Exercise will help you remain strong, keep you feeling young, and help your brain stay active and healthy. You do not have to commit to an aggressive workout routine to see the benefits. Making the commitment to add twenty minutes of movement of any type to your day will be very beneficial to your overall health.

The Health Risks of Winter

As you get older, there are more health risks during the winter. If you want to protect your health and prevent injuries, then it is a good idea to understand the different risks.

1: Falling On Slippery Surfaces

Streets and sidewalks are slippery in the winter, leading to numerous slip and fall injuries. An older individual with poor mobility and vision is more likely to slip on an icy or snowy surface. As you get older, it is easier to break a hip or tear the cartilage in a knee during a fall. In some cases, it is possible to fall hard enough to incur a head injury. If you have problems balancing on slippery surfaces, then make sure to use a cane. To avoid falling, you can also wear nonslip shoes that are similar to what nurses' wear. 

2: Having a Heart Attack While Shoveling Snow

If you are not accustomed to strenuous activity, then shoveling snow can lead to a heart attack. Not only are you trying to cope with cold temperatures during a snowstorm, but also, lifting heavy snow can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, causing a massive heart attack. When you are not physically fit, it is essential to have someone else clear your home’s sidewalks and driveway. 

3: Contracting an Upper Respiratory Infection

Winter is the time of year when more individuals develop an upper respiratory infection. To help prevent winter illnesses, make sure to get several vaccinations, including for influenza, shingles and pneumonia. It is possible to avoid other illnesses by making sure to wash your hands frequently, drinking a lot of water and eating a healthier diet. 

4: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Inside Your Vehicle 

Make sure to clear away the snow and ice from your vehicle’s exhaust pipe. Don’t sit inside a running vehicle until the carbon monoxide gases can escape from the tailpipe. You can’t smell or see carbon monoxide gas, and it can lead to respiratory distress within a few minutes. If you are stranded on a road in a broken-down vehicle in the winter, then you must continue to clear away the snow from a vehicle’s tailpipe. 

5: Developing Hypothermia from the Cold Temperatures

In the winter, it is also important to have emergency supplies at home in case the power goes off. If you don’t have electricity in your home during a blizzard, then you can keep warm by wearing multiple layers of clothing. When you have a fireplace, make sure to have enough firewood to build a fire for several days. If you don’t have a fireplace, then you may need to warm your home with indoor-safe propane heaters. In addition, make sure to have plenty of food and bottled water to survive a long-term blizzard. 

6: The Dangers of Frostbite

Extremely cold temperatures can lead to having frostbite. This condition is most common in certain areas of the body that have poor circulation such as the toes and fingers. If you have a circulatory problem, heart disease or arthritis, then you are at higher risk of contracting frostbite. There are different levels of frostbite that can lead to complications such as destruction of body tissue or an infection that spreads throughout the body. Diabetics with peripheral neuropathy are more likely to develop frostbite. To avoid developing frostbite, make sure to wear a heavy coat, thick socks and gloves. 

Colon Cancer Linked to Inherited Genes

Colon Cancer Linked to Inherited Genes

Colon cancer is one of the most difficult and dangerous types of cancer that could affect a person. Like many other types of cancer, it requires early diagnosis in order to prevent serious damage in the future. One of the best ways to diagnose this type of cancer early, as doctors are beginning to discover, is by taking a look at an individual's family tree. Research shows that not only can early signs manifest as a way to tell if a person is going to develop colon cancer, but even before signs appear, doctors can take a look at an individual's hereditary traits to determine whether or not they may be at a larger risk.

Typically, colorectal cancer is classified as a hereditary or as an inherited illness when multiple generations of any family have a history of colorectal cancer. In such cases, several genetic mutations or general abnormalities appear, which can cause colorectal cancer. Not only does the mutation result in colorectal cancer, but it can also allow the cancer to become much more transmittable to the next generation of family members. Because a gene is a section of DNA that contains genetic code for producing bodily functions on a cellular level, the slightest variations can be enough to result in all types of issues, including the development of cancer.

Two of the most commonly inherited colorectal cancer syndromes include hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, which is abbreviated as HNPCC and familial adenomatous polyposis, which is abbreviated as FAP. These conditions can affect both women and men, and often the chance for children to inherit the disease can be relatively large as well, sometimes as high as a 50 percent chance of inheriting the gene. Studies show that the presence of these two cancer syndromes may account for less than five percent of all cases of colorectal cancers.

HNPCC is perhaps the most commonly inherited form of colon cancer. This syndrome accounts for approximately three percent of all documented types of colorectal cancer each year. People who have HNPCC will typically also have three or more family members and at least two generations of family who have had colorectal cancer in the past. The cancer often develops before the age of 50 as well. However, research shows that the presence of the syndrome is often not enough to guarantee the development of the cancer. Though not everyone who inherits the gene will develop the cancer, the risk is about 80 percent higher for these people. Additionally, individuals who have HNPCC may also be at a higher risk of inheriting or developing other cancers, including renal, uterine, stomach, pelvis and small intestine.

If you feel as though there are concerns regarding the state of your colorectal health, it is important for you to speak with the appropriate professionals as soon as possible. Contact your healthcare provider and schedule for a medical test at your earliest convenience. This is especially recommended for those who may believe that they are at a higher risk of developing these types of cancers, such as in those who have a family history of colorectal cancer. Through early detection, treatment options have a much higher chance to be significantly more successful, improving the rate at which you recover and go back to having a normal life.

How Healthy Eating Can Stave off Kidney Disease

Eating More of These Foods May Help Prevent Kidney Disease

People that have kidney disease or are at risk for the disorder can stave the disease off by following a certain diet.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, eating certain foods can help slow down chronic kidney disease. These foods may even be able to help prevent kidney disease if you have risk factors. Generally, it is best to eat whole foods that are prepared at home. As everyone is different, it is always important to consult with your doctor or dietician to determine which foods are the best for you.

Foods to Eat

These foods, in general, are healthy for those at risk for chronic kidney disease. They can also be valuable in helping current kidney issues from getting worse.

Whole Fruits and Vegetables
A study presented at the 2016 American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions found that people with chronic kidney disease that added more vegetables and fruits to their diet had better blood pressure and used fewer medications than their counterparts that were treated with a baking soda regimen. The research subjects did not have to completely change their diet to achieve these results. They simply added more whole fruits and vegetables to their daily diet. Blood pressure is directly related to kidney failure. According to The American Kidney Fund, controlling high blood pressure may prevent kidney failure from getting worse.

Foods to Avoid

Here are foods that you should avoid if you are at risk for kidney disease or have chronic kidney disease

Red Meat
If you have chronic kidney disease or are at risk, you should limit red meat. High-protein diets are a no-no for those with kidney disease. In addition, red meats typically contain a lot of saturated fat, which is not good for someone with kidney disease. So, stay away from large quantities of animal protein.

Most foods are laden with salt, especially processed foods. Even the so-called healthy processed frozen meals have a lot of salt. If you are at risk for kidney disease, it is important to pay attention to how much salt you are getting in your diet. Definitely limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg a day. This equals about one teaspoon.

Sugar-sweetened sodas, whether sweetened with real sugar or artificial, are not healthy for someone that has kidney disease. These sodas contain phosphorus additives, which damage the kidneys. In addition, these drinks contain no nutritious value.

If you are at risk for kidney disease or already have chronic kidney disease, it is important to know that following a kidney-healthy diet can help prevent kidney problems or keep existing issues from getting worse. Always consult with your health care practitioner to find the best diet for your health needs.

Boost Memory with Cocoa

Boost Memory with Cocoa

Before chocolate was found to be as good for us as it is, many scientists thought that there was nothing of substance behind the treat. Researchers believed that chocolate could result in more sugar cravings, reduced weight loss results and even the development of extensive skin problems. Now researchers are beginning to find that some seemingly taboo foods, such as coffee and red wine, are actually incredibly good for us. Chocolate tops the list, giving chocoholics a whole new reason to shop for their favorite dark chocolate brands. 

Researchers find that unique compounds in cocoa could actually help boost your memory. Not only does the research suggest that chocolate has memory reinforcing capabilities, but studies also show that cocoa can help reverse the memory loss that is caused by aging. This breakthrough could mean tremendous changes for those who suffer from age-related memory problems, as researchers are also beginning to look into how chocolate's compounds can be used as an active ingredient in the fight against dementia and other cognitive degenerative disorders.

Experts found that individuals could begin forgetting things as early as age 30. Often, it is simply an unavoidable aspect of the aging process. As we grow older, our cells begin to decline in their activity and presence. This is found in all parts of the body, including the brain. As more and more people are beginning to live longer thanks to the advances of modern medical technology, many are becoming frustrated that with a longer life comes a harder time remembering things.

However, the recent research shows that though there is still much mystery surrounding the human brain, the flavanols found in cocoa could be a tremendous and simple step in finding an effective cure for cognitive aging in humans. Flavanols are what scientists call the antioxidants found in all types of raw and unprocessed cocoa beans. Studies conducted on mice showed that the antioxidants were instrumental in improving both short-term and long-term memory in the rodents.

The research was especially fascinating because not only did memory improve in the rodents, but older mice actually showed signs of memory loss reversal. Researchers found it remarkable that the flavanols in dark chocolate was able to turn back the cognitive clock by such a tremendous amount. Human participants were able to improve upwards of several decades worth of memory loss.

In order to get more accurate results for human participants, studies looked at 40 adults between the ages of 50 and 75 over a period of 12 weeks. Those who took part in the study were not only able to show better memory reactions, but neuro-imaging showed that there were also tremendous physical and chemical improvements in the section of the brain that is correlated with memory.

Though the results are certainly encouraging, there are still many unanswered questions that scientists hope to explore further. What role could the flavanols have in improving memory loss symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia? Now, more stringent trials are being conducted to learn more about the connection between the human brain and flavanols.

Those who are interested in enjoying some of the long-term health and memory benefits should be sure to do so correctly. Not every chocolate bar is good for you. Try to avoid milk chocolate whenever possible and opt for dark chocolate when you can. The higher the cocoa count the better, though if you are not a fan of the taste, you can always take a look into some bittersweet options to make the chocolate easier to enjoy. Think about incorporating it into your meals as well, or as a quick, small and healthy snack.

Do Some Herbs and Spices Help With Arthritis Relief?

Many well known drugs that have been proven effective as medicines come from plants, such as aspirin and quinine. So it really shouldn't be a surprise that the long tradition of using herbs and spices to treat medical conditions is actually effective. 

Below are seven that are well established as anti-inflammatories and can play a role in helping to control inflammatory conditions, like arthritis. Bonus, they have been chosen for this list because you are probably familiar with them already.

1. Turmeric
Many people swear by the anti-inflammatory properties of this bright yellow spice commonly found in Indian cuisine and readily available at your local grocer. Although studies have shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in this spice, does combat inflammation, results vary. You can give it a try and see if it seems to help you. If you it does, skewing your diet towards Indian cuisine may be a relatively easy way to help keep your condition under control.

2. Ginger
Although ginger is probably best known for its ability to combat nausea, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. This fact has been backed up by studies. This zesty spice is used in many Asian dishes, but it is also readily available in most brands of ginger ale. Just look at the bottle. Most of them say "contains real ginger" somewhere on the packaging. If you need to limit your consumption of sugar, you can get diet ginger ale. 

3. Cinnamon
Studies have proven the anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon. Although many of the items on this list get used in savory dishes, this one is often used in deserts. However, it also acts as a blood thinner, so may be contra-indicated if you are on certain medications or have certain conditions.

4. Garlic
Garlic also has anti-inflammatory properties. For the best medicinal effect, use fresh garlic, not garlic powder. If you really do not like the flavor of it, it can also be found in supplement form.

5. Cayenne
The active ingredient in cayenne and other hot peppers is capsaicin. It has anti-inflammatory properties and also gets used in some medications as a topical pain killer. It has been proven in studies to ease arthritis pain. 

6. Black Pepper
Although the active ingredient in pepper is piperine, not capsaicin, it has similar effects. So if hot peppers are too hot for you, you can go for black pepper as a milder flavor with similar health benefits. 

7. Licorice
Licorice not only reduces inflammation, it helps support the adrenals. Not only can you get it as a supplement or in tea, if you read the packaging, you can sometimes find actual licorice in the candy of the same name. However, it is contra-indicated for people with high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney problems. 

Many herbs and spices have medicinal effects that help you control arthritis pain. This includes licorice, black pepper, cayenne, garlic, cinnamon and ginger.

Losing Your Sense of Smell can be a Sign of Alzheimer's

Losing Your Sense of Smell can be a Sign of Alzheimer's

A weak sense of smell can be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the elderly. For the longest time, it was not certain what played such a major role in determining how the disease progressed, but now researchers have discovered that the culprit behind the smell loss could be beta-amyloid, which is a protein that can build up in a toxic form in those who have the disease.

In order to determine the extended repercussions of smell loss and how it could be linked with Alzheimer's, scientists performed extensive tests with laboratory mice in order to develop a disease that could resemble Alzheimer's in humans. Researchers found that the plaque-forming protein was able to restore the sense of smell in the animals, though they also believe that the smell centers of the brain were among the first affected by toxic beta-amyloid as the disease unfolded. This resulted in a fascinating duality that scientists observed in determining how to control the illness. Because critical thinking and memory areas of the brain were often the next to go, scientists were confident that the presence of smell loss could be a sure potential indicator of Alzheimer's.

However, the loss of smell can be difficult for doctors to diagnose because it can also be caused by numerous other conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes viral illnesses, brain injuries and even side effects from medications can all be to blame for the condition. The research that the scientists conducted, however, indicates that it is possible that a general poor sense of smell can be recognized as a sign of Alzheimer's development. If the sense of smell loss is paired with other mild cognitive impairments or some other form of memory loss, the link to Alzheimer's becomes stronger and stronger.

The new research based on the mice shows where and how the loss of smell occurs in the brain, and the way that the impairment develops show that it is also likely to be much more treatable in the future. The mice that were exposed to a small amount of beta-amyloid were unable to detect odors. In these instances, the plaques largely made up of these toxic proteins had appeared in the brain sections responsible for smell before making their way to the sections responsible for memory. In these developed cases, the mice had spent much more time sniffing for odors than usual, but also were unable to remember the smells or tell the differences between odors in different lab experiments.

When the research team then aimed to reverse the effects, the results were definitive. The mice were put on a long-term drug that cleared the presence of the beta-amyloid from inside the brain. After just two weeks on the drug, the mice were able to resume smelling as normal. After withdrawal from the drug for a week, however, the impairments returned. This research could provide individuals with promising results in reversing the effects of Alzheimer's.

Healthy Habits can Fight Even Genetic Heart Disease

A new study involving more than 55,000 adults looked at the effect of four lifestyle factors on the incidence of heart disease. The conclusion: Even those with a known genetic predisposition to heart disease can influence the outcome by avoiding unhealthy habits and pro-actively developing healthy ones.

The study assigned a risk factor based in part on whether or not participants carried any of 50 genes known to be associated with increased risk of heart disease. It also looked at the four following healthy lifestyle factors:

  1. No current smoking
  2. Lack of obesity (BMI less than 30)
  3. If they engaged in physical exercise at least once a week
  4. Healthy dietary pattern

Participants were ranked based on the number of healthy lifestyle factors they had. The study found that although genetic factors can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease -- by as much as 90 percent in some cases -- every health lifestyle factor helped reduce the risk.

This runs counter to what many people believe about genetic health factors. Most people wrongly believe that if you have "bad" genes, there is no fighting it. You might as well throw in the towel.

But this is not true. Diet and lifestyle make a significant impact on health outcomes, even for those individuals born at high risk due to known genetic factors. The more positive lifestyle factors, the more positive impact.

If you have genetic factors for heart disease, you can work on reducing your risk by doing the following things:

Eat Healthy
This means fewer processed foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables. It also means avoiding saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol. Limit salt and sugar and eat a high fiber diet.

Be Active
You should exercise at least once a week. But you should also avoid sitting for excessive periods of time. If you work a desk job, get up and walk around a little every hour or so. Your heart will thank you.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are underweight or overweight, work on gradually getting to a healthy weight. Then work at maintaining a healthy weight. Yo-yo dieting -- losing weight and then packing it back on -- is worse than just carrying a few too many pounds.

Avoid Tobacco and Limit Alcohol Use
If you smoke or use other tobacco products, give it up. Drink alcohol only in moderation.

Contrary the popular belief that genetic predisposition to heart disease is destiny, new studies are showing that lifestyle factors can help mitigate genetic risk. If you are at high risk, eat right, exercise, keep your weight down and avoid tobacco.