Posts made in August, 2012

An apple a day…

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in heart disease | 0 comments

Do you recall last year’s post on the beneficial effects of dried plums (aka prunes) on bone health? Well, it appears that dried plums are not the only functional fruit in town. In fact, eating just 2.6 ounces of dried apple daily may protect your heart after menopause.


In this study (published in the August issue of the Journal of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) researchers asked 160 postmenopausal women to eat dried apple or the nutritional equivalent (in terms of calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein) of dried plums — 3.5 oz — daily for a year. At various time points during the study, levels of blood fats and cholesterol, physical activity and diet were measured. However, the women were asked to avoid taking any steps towards further altering their diets. None of them were on hormone therapy or taking cholesterol lowering drugs during and at least three months before the trial.

The findings are striking. Not only did women who ate dried apple drop 3 pounds, but by three months, their total cholesterol levels had decreased by 9% and LDL-cholesterol levels by 16%. By 6 months, these improvements increased to 13% and 24%, respectively. Moreover, the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol improved and C-reactive protein (a protein in the blood that responds to increases in inflammation) declined by 32 %. Women who ate dried plums also experienced improvements in these markers but not to the same dramatic extent.

Eating apples have been linked to improvements in body weight, blood fats, inflammation and other factors that contribute to heart disease. When dried, they are rich sources of soluble fiber and pectin and even suppress food intake, thereby leading to weight loss. Apples are also an excellent source of polyphenols — antioxidant-rich chemicals — that have also been shown to lowering heart disease risk.

Heart disease is a major problem in women and especially after menopause. There are numerous posts within Flashfree that explain the numerous factors that contribute to risk, including elevated cholesterol levels and weight gain. Dried apples represent a cost-saving alternative to statin drugs, which are frequently used to treated high cholesterol while also increasing the risk for muscle weakness and liver damage. Moreover, statins contribute to more than 3% of the total costs of heart disease in the U.S., which is pretty striking.

An apple a day? Sound advice, indeed!



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Wednesday Bubble: For da guyz – midlife metamorphosis

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in aging | 0 comments

Equal opportunity blog? You bet. This post may have appeared a few years ago but it’s still as relevant today as then. You’re a man in midlife or approaching midlife. What are you yearning for? Now? Or then?

[Used with permission. Dan Collins.]

In Laura A. Munson’s poignant “Modern Love” post, ‘Those aren’t fighting words, dear”  she writes about the crisis of self that may seem familiar to many  in midlife who are watching or have watched their husbands or partners implode. In the post, (which I highly recommend if you’ve not read it) Laura writes:

And I saw what had been missing: pride. He’d lost pride in himself. Maybe that’s what happens when our egos take a hit in midlife and we realize we’re not as young and golden anymore. When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: it’s not a spouse or land or a job or money that brings us happiness…

The premise that happiness comes from within is not a new one. However, the midlife spin on it can be a wake-up call of epic proportions, when we start reaching for a gold ring that actually resides out of sight. Yet, why are we yearning for what was rather than what is to beAren’t life’s many transitions, including the one that our partners and each of us are facing, movements into the next phase of productivity or change or growth, rather than a loss of self?

I’ve had many conversations with women who are facing or have faced situations that are similar to Laura’s. Overwhelmingly, they say that women tend to themselves a little at a time so that the crises never quite reach the precipice. That many women are able to deal with their physical and emotional changes incrementally so that the ultimate metamorphosis — who they are during and at the end of their lives — is not a monumental shock.

Dick Roth, in his wonderful book “No, It’s Not Hot in Here,’ devotes a chapter to men in midlfe. He says that men should repeatedly ask themselves three questions:

  • What won’t pass away when my youth does?
  • Who will I be after my career is over?
  • Who would I be if everything else was gone but my mind and feelings?

Referencing the book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Roth adds that the protagonist’s lack of self-pity and ability to cherish his soul provided him with the foundation to overcome his physical confinement (the author, who was completely paralyzed by a stroke except for a single eyelid, was only able to communicate by blinking this one eye).

Cherish your soul. Sounds a lot simpler than it is. Or does it?

As much as we expect our partners to understand what we are going through as hormonal changes wreak havoc on our psyches and our bodies, we must also be willing to offer the reverse, to acknowledge the changes and struggles that our partners are going through, their self-confinement, and perhaps their inability to cherish or tap into their souls.

Midlife doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. What rings true for women, also rings true for men.

Seize it.

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