Category Archives: Aging

Is It “Aging” Or Is It Diabetes?

You hear about the people who just got more and more tired as they got older, and then you hear about those who are lively, upbeat, keep walking and gardening, and some even become bodybuilders later in life. Yes, your body does break down as you age, but that doesn’t mean that these are necessary or typical ways of aging. Some typical signs of aging are actually typical signs of diabetes.

With over 8 million Americans unaware that they are suffering from diabetes as estimated by the American Diabetes Association, those who are 45 years old or older are at the highest risk. Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, registered dietitian and diabetes explains, A lot of people have prediabetes or diabetes for quite some time before it gets diagnosed……you could feel perfectly fine and have diabetes. This is especially true if you’re discounting things as just normal signs of aging. You should watch out for:

Hearing Loss or Blurred Vision

Some people will start to lose their hearing and sight gradually with age, but there are also cases where it’s not age. You don’t have to suffer through it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that those with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than those who do not have diabetes.

Part of what diabetes does is it damages blood vessels and nerves, and this includes those in the ears and eyes. Dobbins tells us, When the blood sugar is higher than what’s normal, that damages your circulation. This could lead to problems with hearing and sight loss.

Low Energy and Irritability

Older people have less energy, but at the same point, you see some senior citizens who are still quite active. This isn’t unexplained. Type 2 diabetes can explain exhaustion and the irritability that often comes with it. Dobbins says, Our body needs fuel in order to function. The body prefers glucose, and so when we don’t have enough of that – – it’s staying in our circulation and it’s not getting into the cells where it’s needed – then we are going to feel tired, hungry, and low energy, because that fuel pathway isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. In short, the calories you get from food aren’t being processed into energy, and the glucose just goes out with your urine.

Frequent Urination and Extreme Thirst

Some people urinate more as they age, and it could be because of diabetes. For those with diabetes, sugar can’t get into the body, instead going out with the urine.

The only way to get the sugar out of the body is to flush it in the urine, and that dehydrates you and makes you really thirsty. Naturally, if you’re more thirsty, diabetics will try to drink more orange juice, milk, soda, and other sugary drinks, which perpetuates the problem.

Unexplained Weight Loss

I have seen some elderly people who lose fat and muscle as they age. In some cases though, it might be diabetes. Dobbins notes, But any sort of unexplained weight loss – – if somebody is not trying to lose weight – – really needs to be looked at. You can’t just brush aside unexplained weight loss, even if it’s not diabetes.

There are other symptoms you might notice with diabetes such as tinglin and numbness for example. It’s a complicated disease. As you age though, it is essential not to simply write these types of potentially serious symptoms off.

You May Want To Start Washing Your Face Twice

It is well known that you should wash your face regularly. You get rid of bacteria and oils that build up on your face, it’s obviously cleaner, and you keep your pores from getting clogged among other things. You avoid acne, get rid of cakey makeup, and you can even brighten your complexion. According to some research, letting all of these things build up on your skin without regular washing could actually accelerate the aging process.

Don’t use a harsh scrub. Yes, exfoliating your skin is a good thing. However, even better many have found is double cleansing. In other words, wash your face twice. It’s not because you’re OCD. In Asia, it’s actually the norm, particularly in skin conscious countries like Korea and Japan. It has also been taught at the prestigious Dermalogica Academy.

This doesn’t mean just washing twice with bar soap. Of course, the idea is to get all harmful junk off your skin in part. However, for true skin experts, they recommend an oil based cleanser first, and then you can use a traditional cleanser to finish the job. If you are using a makeup remover and then cleansing your face with a traditional cleanser, you are actually already doing this.

According to experts, there are a few basic steps:

  1. Massage the Oil Cleanser Onto Dry Skin in a Gentle Upward Motion: You don’t want to go down, because you want to don’t want to encourage gravity to take your skin down. There are many different brands you can try, and many would encourage Korean brands. After all, they’ve been doing this for years. So realistically, they have more experience making the right stuff.
  2. Add Little Bits of Water to Emulsify the Oil and Rinse It Off: Don’t scrub with a washcloth. You can use muslin clothes that often come with cleansing balms. It’s your face. Make sure that you are gentle with your skin.
  3. Use a Cream or Foam Cleanser: There are various cleansers. Try to stick to one that isn’t too stripping and is more gentle. You can also use milky or creamy cleansers to soften and moisturize your skin at the same time. The goal is to get soft and dewy skin as opposed to dry and squeaky clean skin
  4. Let Your Skin Dry And Apply Skincare Products: You should let your skin air dry if possible. Then you can apply your skincare products, which will be more effective when your skin doesn’t have all the dirt and skin cell buildup.

Are Alzheimer’s and Obesity Linked to Low Testosterone?

As men age, there are two things that are common. They vary between men of course, but testosterone levels tend to fall, and the waistline increases. It becomes harder to maintain a fit body, and some men even go through what is jokingly called manopause. For most men, testosterone levels fall by approximately 15 every year after age 30. Obesity levels have grown from about 8% in 1980 to about 25% today. This particular change in hormones can also affect the way the brain functions. Low testosterone has actually been connected to age-associated cognitive impairment.

Because of this, low testosterone levels can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For those men who suffer diabetes, they also tend to have low testosterone levels with more neuropathies.

Particularly as men age, obesity is a significant risk factor, and with our change in diet, among other factors, we see more men suffering metabolic syndrome, inflammatory proteins, and endocrine changes that lower testosterone even further.

A recent study was published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation from the University of Southern California. They looked at the relationship between aging, obesity, low testosterone, and dementia. In short, a high fat diet often aggravates or leads to obesity, and this ultimately leads to impaired brain function and lower testosterone levels, which researchers believe to be the core problem. After all, lower testosterone levels mean lower fat burning, and it just seems ironic that more fat also means less testosterone for many men.

Testosterone replacement therapy is controversial at best. It has been associated with some disease, and the idea is to help men, not hurt them, right? This said, reducing calories and exercising more to lose weight is not controversial in the same way. Testosterone supplements unfortunately have ultimately been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, death, and strokes. Unfortunately, a number of manufacturers continue to profit off many people’s ignorance about the subject.

So what should an older man do starting after 30? Testosterone supplements, we have established, are not the way. Instead, try a low calorie diet or low carb diet, exercise on a regular basis, and you will be able to lose more weight. You have to have both to really achieve results, and you may want to make sure that you also include some weight lifting in the process.

Your Sense Of Smell May Go Shortly Before Death

Failing sense of smell may be the canary in the coal mine as they put it in predicting death among the elderly according to a new study. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE, showing that 395 of participants in the study lost their smell and died within 5 years. 19% of those described with moderate smell loss and 10% of those who had a healthy sense of smell died within the same period of time.

The study came from the University of Chicago, and it was part of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP). It was, as Agence France-Presse puts it, the first in-home study of social relationships and health in a large, nationally representative sample of men and women ages 57 to 85. Agence France-Presse describes it saying, The hazard of smell loss were ‘strikingly robust’, according to researchers, who said that olfactory dysfunction was better at predicting mortality than a diagnosis of heart failure, cancer or lung disease.

The only thing that was a more powerful predictor of impending death was severe liver damage.

It’s still not 100% clear what the connection between your sense of smell and death is. Martha McClintock, a senior author in the study says, Obviously, people don’t just die because their olfactory system is damaged. Some researchers, for obvious reasons, believe that it could be an indication or symptom of other problems.

Jayant Pinto, associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study says, It doesn’t directly cause death, but it’s a harbinger, an early warning that something has gone badly wrong, that damage has been done. Our findings could provide a useful clinical test, a quick and inexpensive way to identify patients most at risk.

The NSHAP study was conducted in 2 stages. In the first stage, 3,005 participants were involved between 2005 and 2006, and they measured how well participants were able to identify 5 well-known scents. In the second section, 5 years later, they identified who out of the 3,005 were still alive. 12.5% were dead, and there were 2,565 left living.

Can You Really Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Many of us look at our golden years as a time when we will retire, possibly travel, and then we’ll go crazy. My dad occasionally call us to tell us I’m going on this potentially dangerous trip, I love you…. We all think it’s a stupid thing he does, but he likes to talk about his last fishing trip. Personally, I figure that when I realize I might be slipping, that will be it. There are plenty of simple ways to die, and Alzheimer’s does not sound appealing to me in any way. I’ve seen more than enough with grandparents before they died.

This begs the question, wouldn’t it be simpler and better to just prevent those types of issues? My great grandmother lived til she was 101, and she died in her sleep with no mental slowdown, no Alzheimer’s, no dementia. There are some factors that cannot be controlled like genetics for example along with age. However, there are other factors that go into our possible decline, such as pollutants, lifestyle, diet, and physical activity, that can be prevented.

If you want to keep your brain as fit as possible for years to come, it is completely possible.

Alzheimer’s is currently the 6th most common cause of death among Americans. A 2014 study was published in the journal Neurology to address just this type of issue. They wanted to reexamine cause of death on death certificates and medical records. These can help to create real rankings. The most common cause of death that researchers found was pneumonia with an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s in many cases.

Based on these numbers, researchers estimate that Alzheimer’s could actually be closer to the first or second most common cause of death along with heart disease and cancer. If they took into account these types of numbers (Alzheimer’s as a secondary cause) could be much higher, even 5 to 6 times the current estimate.

So what is this silent killer?

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia. It is a disorder of the brain and deterioration of memory, decline in intellectual capacity, and even a change in personality and a loss in social skills that is severe enough to alter one’s ability to function on basic levels. It could stop someone from functioning independently.

Alzheimer’s is currently considered the most common cause of dementia, hitting 60% of all dementia cases. It is progressive, meaning it gets worse over time, and the progress is generally slow and steady.

The second most common form and cause of dementia is vascular dementia, which accounts for a mere 20% of dementia cases. However, with vascular dementia, the numbers are significantly harder to nail down. Still, it doesn’t come nearly as close as you would think. Vascular dementia progresses with plateaus and then sudden declines.

When it comes to these common forms of dementia, there is no cure. There is only prevention and some treatments to slow the progress temporarily. There is also no magic bullet. However, if you want to prevent dementia, a lot of it is basic health, things that you should be doing for yourself anyway to stay healthy (and not just in your brain).

For example, take care of your heart. Eat heart healthy, keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at normal levels so that you don’t have too much or too little important blood to bring nutrients into the brain. There are even some health experts who say that anything that is good for your heart is ultimately good for your brain. Along with a healthy diet, you can also exercise on a regular basis to achieve this.

The second big thing to do is to quit smoking and keep your drinking under control. Both nicotine and alcohol are commonly used drugs, but they can have a significant impact on your brain. Those who drank more than 2 drinks a day ended up developing Alzheimer’s 5 years earlier than those who did not. Those who smoked a pack or more a day developed Alzheimer’s 2 1/2 years earlier. When they did both, subjects got Alzheimer’s 6 to 7 years earlier.

You can also train your brain through brain games that you can currently find online, simple activities that you are just not familiar with (so your brain has to work harder), or again more exercise. If you are not familiar with knitting, that could be something simple, but you want to keep your brain working and thinking. You would be surprised at how big an effect these types of simple and common things can have.

Why Do The Parents Of College Grads Live Longer?

Want to live longer? Send your kids to college came from a recent headline in the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. The Wall Street Journal also published a blog titled Send Your Kids To College To Live Longer, Paper Argues.

Could it be true? Could the simple secret to living longer be to have kids who are more educated? Granted, it’s not a cheap process, but while exciting, this may not necessarily be as true as we are led to believe. The research is advertised as having causality involved when in fact, especially with limited studies. If you were to run the same kind of study, you might conclude that oranges cure cancer, peanut butter prevents it, and anti-bullying programs in fact cause more bullying.

The reports come from the study The Schooling of Offspring and the Survival of Parents. This was published in the August issue of the journal Demography, and it was introduced by social scientists from the RAND corp and UCLA. Researchers started with a large and rich dataset of annual survey results going back to 1992. They got responses from 26,000 elderly Americans, and then they included a database from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that keeps track of all the death records in the United States.

The authors ran statistical analyses, and they wanted to explain the elderly study subjects’ lifespan and death rates. Compared to those who died, results showed that the elderly who survived were 6% more likely to have children who had gone to college.

The authors looked at their lifespans controlling for the parents’ own levels of education and income. Those who had children with a college degree had an average lifespan of 71 years. Those with children who dropped out of high school, a stark difference, lived an average of 69. The Washington Post wrote, While sending your kids to college adds two years to your life relative to letting them flunk out of high school, getting a college degree yourself only adds 1.7 years to your life compared to not having a high school degree.

Frankly, 2 years doesn’t seem like much to me, and when running statistical analyses, I wonder if they had compared the two groups, would it actually be a significant difference, or would the difference be basically the same? Why would your kids getting a college education be more effective than getting a college education yourself?

They imply causality, but there are a lot of broken links. They say that educated children may directly improve their parents’ health by convincing them to change their health behaviors. As of right now, the evidence is simply not strong enough to suggest that this is anything more than speculation. They have not conducted studies that would randomly assign children to different levels of education to test this out, meaning we can only look based on somewhat biased numbers.

You may have heard of double blind, placebo controlled, randomized studies. Unfortunately, this kind of study simply doesn’t meet that standard.

Do Black People Age Faster?

According to a new study, and plenty before it, being African American may not be so great in terms of your health. African Americans are reported to die faster and younger than their white counterparts, which could be related to everyday stressors of being black.

Researchers at USC calculated a biological age gap between black and white subjects by looking at the physical exams and lifestyle surveys of 7664 Americans 30 and up. 11% of the subjects were black, and the rest were white. They looked at 10 age related biomarkers including total cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and systolic blood pressure to start. They also looked at factors like education level and history of smoking. There was an average biological age gap of 53.16 years for African Americans and 49.84 years for white Americans. When socioeconomic positions and health behaviors were taken into account, the gap went to 52.72 for black people and 49.89 for whites, which is still a 3 year age gap.

Why would this happen?

According to researchers, black people saw higher rates of obesity, and a recent study also looked over black people who may internalize the idea of racial inferiority and anti-black bias. They showed even shorter biological age markers.