Category Archives: Anti-Aging

How to Slow Growing Old

Businessman Suffering From Shoulder PainIf you’ve ever moaned, “Ugh. It’s tough growing old.”, you’re likely in pain or you can’t do the things you used to do. But all is not lost! You can control how well you feel and how fast you age. However, before laying out the foundation of youth, here’s why your body is aging in the first place.

Blame It On Blood Sugar

One of the key suspects in what causes your cells to deteriorate is your own circulating blood sugar (glucose). In a process called glycation, these glucose molecules cling to proteins, and a chain of chemical reactions take place in your body. The end result? Proteins clump together, known as crosslinked proteins, which accumulate over time and disrupt the normal functioning of your cells.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)

These “crosslinks”, also known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs) or glycotoxins, seem to ‘stiffen’ tissues. A stiff body is an aging body. But remember my mantra: “Your age is a given. Growing old is an option.” So don’t throw up your hands just yet. Read on…

Why You Get Stiff

Collagen is the most common and longest living protein molecule in your body. Skin care companies spend billions of dollars trying to replicate it and sell it as their revolutionary secret to erasing wrinkles. Collagen provides structure and support to not only your skin, but to your joints and organs as well.

When glucose binds with collagen (part of the aging process), your collagen loses its suppleness and becomes less flexible. As a result, your lungs, arteries, tendons, and other tissues stiffen. Stiff = Less efficient. For example, when your arteries are stiff, they lose their contractility and can’t pump as much blood through them due to their limited inability to expand and contract.

Age-Related Diseases Linked to AGEs      

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Is Your Diet Causing Your Wrinkles?

concept of aging and skin care. face of young woman and an old woman with wrinkles isolated

Concerned about aging and looking older than you really are? Then don’t eat white sugar. Why? Because processed sugar binds to and eventually weakens the collagen in your skin. Save your money if you’re buying expensive skin creams, but eating processed sugar — the number-one ingredient to avoid if you want firm, resilient and radiant skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and one of the most revealing places where aging occurs.  Over time, your skin may lose its original ‘snug fit’ and begin to wrinkle and sag due in part to your collagen cells breaking down. Collagen is the main structural protein in connective tissue that provides strength to the skin. It’s abundant in blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bone as well.

The sugar-collagen reaction can lead to premature wrinkles and sagging. Sweet Tooth = Wrinkles. All those sugary donuts, Danishes and cookies may be hard to resist despite knowing they could end up settling on your hips and waistline, but perhaps thinking about them showing up as wrinkles on your face and neck or as ‘crepey’, loose skin may help strengthen your will to resist them.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Remember… sugar speeds up the aging process. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits every day to get the essential components for healthy skin – AND a strong heart! Eat 8-10 total servings daily of fruits and vegetables. That is, 5 or more vegetable servings + 3 fruit servings. Get Real Food! Coming soon… why your heart needs collagen too! 

VIDEOS: Watch Karen’s videos on what to eat for healthy skin. Get science-based info on skin nutrition in less than 3 minutes.

Top Anti-Aging Foods: Part 1 | Best Diet for Your Skin (02:53)
The skin needs essential vitamins to function and look its best.
Discover which ones you need and where to get them. Karen Owoc, The
Health Reporter, provides an overview of the foods to eat to get the key
vitamins necessary for healthy, youthful and glowing skin.

Top Anti-Aging Foods: Part 2 | Best Diet for Your Skin (02:36)
Healthy skin needs essential minerals and fats to do its job and to look its best. Find out which ones you need and where to get them. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, identifies the essential fatty acids and minerals that keep your skin smooth and radiant.

How to Ignite Your Metabolic Furnace

Tired employeeYour metabolism is the rate at which all the chemical reactions in your body work as a whole to create the energy you need to thrive. Think of your metabolism as the engine in your car. Sometimes it can be a high performance machine, but without good care, it can run like a slug. Here are some tips to keep your body working at optimum speed.

Signs of a Sluggish Metabolism

The most obvious signs that your metabolism has plummeted are:

  • Weight gain
  • Inability to lose weight despite restricting calories
  • Fatigue
  • Not feeling hungry

Causes of a Deaccelerating Metabolism

The main reasons your metabolism may be slowing down:

  • Age: Your metabolism is thought to slow about one to two percent per decade.
  • Low percentage of muscle mass: When your muscle mass diminishes, your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn while at rest) diminishes as well.
  • Not eating enough food! Insufficient calories can cause you to go into “starvation mode” which can slash broccoli on plateyour metabolic rate. Severely restricting your caloric intake is one of the key reasons that diets don’t work and wind up making you fatter in the end.
  • Lack of exercise and physical activity: In a UC Davis study, they found that the resting metabolic rate in highly trained runners was reduced by 7 to 10 percent when daily exercise training was stopped.
  • Dehydration: Your organs need water to function every day. When you don’t get enough water, your organs will slow down and can eventually shut down.
  • Hypothyroidism: The main purpose of the thyroid hormone is to keep your engine running. When your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism will slow down.

How to Preserve Your Metabolism

To ensure a healthy metabolism:    Continue reading

How “Old” Do You Sound?

Woman talking with alphabet letters coming out of her mouthSigns of aging include more than receding hairlines and gums, wrinkles, painful joints, and clogged arteries. As with everything else, your voice ages too, and most people don’t think about taking care of their “voice muscles” like they do their biceps. Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and determined the person is old just by the sound of his/her voice? You’ve likely heard an older person speak with that classic gravely, weak. raspy, wavering, hoarse, and/or breathless voice. With that said, how old do YOU sound?

Why Your Voice Makes You Sound Old

Over 30% of people over age 65 have voice problems. As you age, your larynx (a.k.a. voice box) changes. The following 12 reasons may be causing your voice to become hoarse and weak and thus, sound old:

  1. Your vocal cords are less elastic (just like aging skin and muscles) and are unable to work in the same way as when you were young. Your vocal cords move and vibrate to make sounds. When the surrounding muscles move, your vocal cords either tighten or loosen. To make higher sounds, your cords tighten.
  2. Your vocal cords and muscles in the larynx wear out and become more thin. As a result, your voice may sound higher.
  3. Thickened mucous increases the amount of mass that needs to vibrate and results in a lower pitched voice. This increase is thought to be due to a decrease in hormones that affect the mucous membranes of your vocal cords.
  4. Acid reflux can cause harshness, sore throat, cough.
  5. Weak abdominals – In order to form a sound, your abs and rib cage squeeze your lungs which make you exhale air.
  6. Decreased lung capacity – By the time you’re 80, you may have 50% less volume compared to when you were 20.Dr and Pt_Dollarphotoclub_59591195
  7. Rheumatoid arthritis – This condition can lead to hoarseness because your vocal cords cannot move well. The inflammation limits the ability of the joint near your windpipe (cricoarytenoid joint) to move.
  8. Messages from your brain to the voice box become inefficient and nerve endings die.
  9. Decrease in blood supply and number of lubricating glands which cause the vocal cords to dry out.
  10. Change in your tongue, lips and teeth making it more difficult to form words. As a result, your voice becomes thinner and wavers.
  11. Parkinson’s disease
  12. Diabetes

How to Keep Your Voice Younger Longer   

Here are some quick fixes to slow and minimize the aging of your voice.    Continue reading

Fit Find | Ground Chia Seeds

Ground Chia SeedChia seeds? If you’re having sudden flashbacks of your old Chia Pet® from the 1980’s and you’re impulsively singing “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” right now, you’re probably not alone. Believe it or not, we’re talking about the same ‘chia’ but… instead of watching the seeds sprout into “animal fur”, we’re eating them!

Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (2.3 grams ALA per two tablespoons). These omega-3’s increase the production of anti-inflammatory substances that help prevent “cell adhesion molecules” from causing plaque buildup in your arteries.

These little seeds also pack in a good amount of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. They’re small (little ovals) and typically black in color. To receive the benefits of the fatty acids, they need to be hydrated before eating them. These seeds can soak up to 12 times their weight in liquid and when soaked, they form a gelatinous texture which make them an excellent binding agent in baking.

chia-seed-smoothie_adobestock_77942716_croppedThese nutritious seeds now come finely ground to a powder which make them easy to blend in your yogurt, cereal, smoothies, salads, and soups. And like ground flaxseeds, they’re great in baked goods too. Spectrum® Ground Chia Seeds have been cold milled. Since Omega-3 fats are sensitive to heat, the cold milling process is a plus. On that note, be sure to store your seeds in the freezer or refrigerator to extend their shelf life because these seeds are also sensitive to oxygen (air) and light. Oxidation will affect the nutritional value of the healthy fats as well as cause them to go rancid.

*I especially like the Spectrum brand for chia and flaxseeds. They are packed in a light protective pouch and sealed airtight which is probably why they contain more omega-3’s than other brands. NEVER buy your seeds from self-serve bins or barrels in the grocery store!

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: You can substitute ground chia seeds (or ground flaxseeds) for eggs in recipes if you’re a vegan — or like me, sometimes you’re just out of eggs! Simply mix 3 tablespoons of water with one tablespoon of ground chia seeds (3:1 ratio) for every large egg. After stirring together, let the mixture sit for five minutes, then add it to your recipe.

Fit TV | Healthy Aging

Find out what you need to know for healthy aging, that is, how to sidestep “getting old”…. from low testosterone (and its effects on sex drive and belly fat) to prostate cancer, robotic surgery, and osteopenia. Emmy Award-winning news anchor John Kessler, and Karen Owoc address a range of medical symptoms and treatments with Dr. Neil Okamura and Dr. Mark Lollar of San Ramon Regional Medical Center/John Muir Health.

Is Your Pet Allergy Linked to Heart Disease?

Pet allergiesYou finally give in to a family pet, but ever since you brought home Mr. Whiskers, your eyes are red and itchy, you’re sneezing and have a constant runny nose. You feel like you have a perpetual cold. Is being allergic to your pet a minor inconvenience or can it lead to something more serious?

How Prevalent Are Pet Allergies?

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), almost 62% of U.S. households have pets and more than 161 million of these pets are cats and dogs. Ten percent of pet owners are allergic to their pets and 25% of them decide to keep their pets.

Are You Allergic to Your Pet?

Some of the signs and symptoms of pet allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion (stuffy nose)
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives (hives on your face and chest are symptoms of a more severe allergy)
  • Skin reaction where your pet licks you
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

Be aware that if you have asthma as well as a pet allergy, your symptoms could be especially serious.

What’s the Allergen?

If your pet causes any of the above allergic reactions or aggravates your asthma symptoms, your pet’s hair or fur is not to blame as many people seem to think. But keep in mind that pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens can collect in your pet’s hair and fur. The real culprits behind these allergic effects are the proteins found in your pet’s saliva, urine and dander (flakes of dead skin).

Dander, Dander Everywhere   

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When a Lower Blood Pressure is NOT Better

Blood Pressure Monitor_If you’ve been managing your blood pressure, you’re probably well aware of its high’s and low’s. You delight in a low blood pressure, but when your diastolic pressure (represented by the bottom number in your blood pressure reading) is low, you may be at risk for the following:

  • New-onset heart failure
  • Brain atrophy
  • Increased mortality if you have chronic kidney disease

Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure within your arteries as it flows through them. It’s the pressure between heartbeats, that is, when your heart is at rest. Your systolic blood pressure (represented by the top number in your blood pressure reading) measures the amount of pressure that your blood exerts on vessels when your heart contracts or ‘beats’.

Isolated Diastolic Hypotension

“Isolated diastolic hypotension” (IDH) is a condition that occurs when your diastolic blood pressure is low (less than 60 mm Hg), but your systolic blood pressure is 100 mm Hg and above.

If you’ve been congratulated for having a good systolic blood pressure (less than 120 mm Hg — or even less than 130 mm Hg), don’t be so quick to start your celebratory dance. What’s your diastolic blood pressure? Many clinicians don’t consider a low diastolic blood pressure reading as problematic.  Continue reading

The #1 Biggest Mistake That Affects Blood Pressure Readings

Blood pressure_dollarphotoclub_15479127_600x400Have you ever had your blood pressure taken and were surprised to discover that it was higher or lower than you expected? Did you know that simple variations can cause your blood pressure reading to deviate between 5 and 50 points? Beware… the most common error when measuring blood pressure is improper blood pressure cuff size.

Whether you take your own blood pressure at home or rely on a clinician to do so, using the wrong size cuff happens frequently. Since your blood pressure reading predicts your risk of stroke, heart disease and renal failure and assesses your need for hypertensive medications, you want to be sure the reading isn’t artificially low or elevated.

Why Cuff Size Matters

An essential part of measuring a blood pressure involves compressing the artery, so that no blood flows through it. The “cuff” is the part that wraps around your arm and the bladder inside inflates to apply the compression. It is CRITICAL that the cuff is the right size.

When the Cuff is Too Small

BP Cuff_AdultWhen the cuff size is too small, your blood pressure will be artificially HIGH — and can deviate by as much as 50 mmHg. This happens because the undersized cuff may not be able to completely close off the artery. It has to inflate a lot and you’ll get a higher reading. The result: a false diagnosis and over-treatment. It’s not uncommon that some obese people are incorrectly diagnosed with high blood pressure when it is actually normal.

When the Cuff is Too Large

Large BP CuffWhen the cuff size is too big, your blood pressure will be artificially LOW — but may not deviate as much as from the error of using a cuff that’s too small. It will read low because the bladder in the cuff will overlap (covering more than 100% of your arm), so the cuff ends up inflating on itself. In other words, it will cut off the supply of blood too easily and you’ll get a lower reading. Taking your blood pressure with a cuff that’s too large is dangerous because you and your doctor may think your blood pressure is normal and not as high as it actually is.

NOTE: When you’re exercising, your blood pressure is expected to rise, but the wrong size cuff could produce a reading that’s low or too high which could be problematic and symptomatic of cardiovascular disease.

Why This Mistake Occurs So Frequently

Using the wrong size cuff is mainly due to a laxity in protocol and/or by the clinician or a lack of emphasis on proper blood pressure cuff sizing in medical training. As a result, neglecting cuff size becomes the standard practice in the everyday work environment, i.e., in doctors’ offices and in both outpatient and inpatient hospital facilities.

Measuring for Cuff Size

Measuring tape

Use a flexible measuring tape (not metal) and measure the circumference of your arm at about the midpoint between your shoulder and elbow. (Allow your arm to relax and hang down at the side of your body.) If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can also use a piece of string or ribbon. Your cuff size will be determined by your arm size.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: After measuring your arm, MEMORIZE ITS SIZE! Whenever you get your blood pressure taken, ask the clinician the cuff’s range (it’s printed on the cuff).  Blood pressure cuffs do not come in uniform sizes, so you have to know your arm size. You may be an Adult Small in one cuff, but that could vary depending on the manufacturer.

Up Next! … “10 Factors That Can Affect Blood Pressure Readings(i.e., arm position, posture, and your bladder)

Testing for Alzheimer’s with Peanut Butter?

VIDEO: Here’s a brilliant use of peanut butter…. to diagnosis early stage Alzheimer’s disease. According to University of Florida Health researchers, all you need is a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler.

Why Test Your Nose for Alzheimer’s?

brain_content_600x386The ability to smell is associated with your first cranial nerve (the olfactory nerve) which is one of the first parts of your brain to deteriorate in Alzheimer’s disease. This nerve is located in your temporal lobe and that’s also where new memories are formed. Being unable to capture new information and remember it later is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Why Peanut Butter?   

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