2015 was a great year for discovering new ways to take care of ourselves. Here are some of the highlights.
And the great thing about your biological age is that you can actually age “backwards” by taking better care of yourself!
1. USING A BACK LIT MOBILE DEVICE MESSES UP YOUR SLEEP
A new study shows that using backlit mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets can make it take longer to fall asleep, suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin, and reduces the amount of REM sleep, all leading to a less restful sleep and less alertness in the morning. If you have trouble sleeping at night or feel groggy in the morning, make sure you put away the iPhone at least 4 hours before bed!
Inspired by this study, after reading on my iPad before bed for a few years, I recently switched over to a non-backlit Kindle. I have noticed a definite improvement in my sleep. My eyes start drooping and I start to fall asleep while I read, which never happened with the iPad. I fall asleep faster, and I stay asleep the whole night instead of waking up a few times during the night, and I feel more refreshed in the morning. Try ditching the devices yourself, and see how much more energy you will have!
2. EATING SPICY FOOD MAY HELP YOU LIVE LONGER
As someone who smears habanero paste on her eggs every morning, this article definitely made me celebrate! An ongoing study that was started in 2004 followed a group of approximately 500,000 men and women showed that the people who ate spicy food 6-7 days per week were 14% less likely to die from cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease than the participants who ate spicy food less than 1 day per week. Fresh peppers seemed to have more effect than dried peppers.
If you’d like to try incorporating some fresh hot peppers into your diet, you can puree fresh hot peppers with vinegar, onion, garlic and salt for a delicious homemade pepper sauce to use on meats and veggies. Mince raw hot peppers in your salad, pasta sauce, or sandwich. Add them to stir fry, or sauté them with some veggies. If you’re new to spicy food, start with something low on the Scoville scale (a scale rating the spiciness of peppers), like banana peppers or jalapenos, and gradually work your way up!
3. SATURATED FAT ISN’T BAD FOR YOU, TRANS FAT IS
Another recent article reviewed studies throughout the years that have been done on saturated fats and trans fats and their associations with diseases and mortality. Based on the review of these studies, saturated fats were not associated with death in general, death by cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, stroke due to clogged arteries, or coronary heart disease. Trans fats were associated with death in general, coronary heart disease, and death by coronary heart disease.
These findings don’t suggest we should all celebrate by eating an entire stick of butter, but they suggest that replacing any trans fats such as hydrogenated cooking oils, margarine, etc, with higher saturated fat and more natural alternatives such as coconut oil may have a good effect on your health!
4. OLIVE OIL IS GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN
Another recent study compared cognitive function of three groups of people in their 60s.. One group ate a low fat diet, one ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, and one ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil per week. The study participants followed these diets for 6 years, and then were tested on cognitive function. The participants who consumed the olive oil showed improved cognitive function versus the other two groups.
If you’re looking for quick and easy ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet, try making your own salad dressing with olive oil as the base oil. Dribble some on a place with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, and dip bread into it. Make some pesto as sauce for pasta, veggies, or a condiment for your sandwich. Add a tablespoon to a smoothie.
5. A LOW CARB DIET COULD REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE MORE THAN A LOW FAT DIET
We all know that lowering your carb intake can help you lose weight, and there are a myriad of diets based on low/no carbs. But a new analysis of multiple studies shows that a low carb diet is more effective for both weight loss and prevention of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
If you are looking to lose weight in the new year, try mindfully lowering your carb intake. Small changes with intention are always more effective in the long run than “crash” diets, so try to remove the carbs slowly from your diet and replace them with whole fruits and vegetables, building new habits into your eating routine.
6. BIOLOGICAL AGE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CHRONOLOGICAL AGE
Another study found that aging processes can be detected in adults when they are still young enough to prevent age-related diseases. Adults in their 30s and 40s were evaluated as to their biological age by looking at the deterioration of various organ systems. Individuals of the same chronological age could be found to have different “biological” ages by the relative decline of organ systems. Individuals who showed a higher “biological” age were also showing outward symptoms, such as looking older, being less physically able, having more cognitive decline.
And the great thing about your biological age is that you can actually age “backwards” by taking better care of yourself! Staying active, eating fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, strength training, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and controlling the level of stress in your life are all ways you can lower your biological age. One small change can make a difference!