Chronic Back Pain: How to Sleep Through It

Check out this great article by Karen Weeks on getting a good night’s sleep while battling chronic back pain.  Karen has more great content on her website, https://elderwellness.net/

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One of the comforts of going to sleep at the end of the day is the privilege of leaving behind your worries for eight hours. However, if you’re living with chronic back pain, that worry sticks around in addition to the fact that you won’t be able to fall asleep right away, compounding your problems. Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult if you’re suffering from back pain, but there are ways to make it happen. Dr. Stacey Naito presents tips for learning to love falling asleep while living with chronic back pain.

Yoga Before Bed

Practicing yoga before you head to bed for the night can help stretch your sore muscles and give you a better chance of falling asleep right away. The ancient practice has numerous health benefits, and research has shown that practicing yoga regularly may even reduce the need for pain medication. There are many different poses you can do that are beneficial for back pain. Doing a few poses before bed will help strengthen your muscles and improve your posture, leading to less pressure on your back in your day-to-day life, resulting in less overall back pain.

Utilize Your Smartphone

Technology is there to help you in most areas of your life, including your sleep. There are a number of different apps available aimed at helping you sleep better at night. Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock app that monitors where you are in your sleep cycle each night and wakes you at an optimal time within your preferred time frame so you feel the most refreshed. White Noise allows you to play soothing sounds from your phone to help you either drown out outside noises or add sound to a too-quiet room. Calm is a leading meditation app for beginners, allowing you to try out the art of meditation in order to calm down your mind at night.

 

Note that some of these apps stay running throughout the night in order to monitor your sleep or to keep you from waking up sporadically. Make sure that your smartphone has enough battery life! You’ll also want to ensure that your home internet connection is running smoothly. Fast and reliable internet service will give you the freedom to run any of these apps overnight without worrying about being disconnected. 

Improve on Your Sleeping Position

We all have preferences when it comes to our sleep positions. Thankfully, there are different ways to improve your preferred sleeping position to help lower your back pain. For side-sleepers, add a pillow between your legs and pull your knees a little toward your chest to stretch out your lower back. If you prefer sleeping on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis and forgo the pillow under your head (or switch to a flatter one). For those who like sleeping on your back, place a pillow beneath your knees to add a slight curve to your spine.

 

Whatever the cause of your back pain, know that it doesn’t have to sentence you to a lifetime of insomnia. Chronic back pain can impact your daily life in a number of different ways, but don’t let it control how much sleep you get at night. Lack of sleep impacts your life even more, causing you to become disoriented, unfocused, and unable to finish your day’s tasks. Use these tips to sleep easier at night and reduce your chronic back pain one night at a time.

5 Healthy Habits Seniors Can Adopt in the New Year

Please check out this excellent article written by Karen Weeks, which covers healthy habits which seniors can adopt in 2021.

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By Karen Weeks of elderwellness.net

A brand new year is ahead of us, making it the perfect time to adopt healthy habits like eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and spending time with loved ones (whether in-person or virtually). Below, Dr. Stacey Naito offers five senior-friendly habits that can be adopted in the new year — and how seniors can go about incorporating them in their lives.

1. Eat Nutritiously

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, seniors need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, B12, dietary fiber, healthy fats, and potassium in order to lead long and healthy lives. And fortunately, seniors can get all the nutrients they need by consuming plenty of fresh leafy greens, lean meats, beans, and healthy fats like avocados and fish. Supplementation may also be necessary if calcium, B12, B6, or vitamin D levels are low.

 

If you’re looking for some ways to eat better this year, try buying a new cookbook or two, purchasing a grocery delivery service, or visiting your local health foods store to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, healthy grains, and lean proteins. If you’re thinking of paying for a grocery delivery service, some of the best options for produce include Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, and Farmbox.

2. Exercise Often

Like good nutrition, seniors need plenty of physical activity — including strength training activities, exercises for balance and flexibility, and aerobic activities such as walking, biking, swimming, or dancing. And fortunately, there are several things seniors can do to increase their physical activity in the year ahead:

 

  • Following along to exercise DVDs or online fitness classes.

  • Walking or biking alone or with friends (while practicing social distancing, of course).

  • Parking further away from store entrances when shopping.

  • Purchasing an elliptical machine, exercise bike, or treadmill.

  • Starting and maintaining a garden.

 

If you have a medical condition or you’re experiencing body aches or pains, a physical therapist can help you to select the best exercises for you. Plus, many physical therapists are offering virtual services amidst COVID-19.

3. Socialize With Loved Ones

Socializing is tough in the age of the coronavirus, but it isn’t impossible! With senior-friendly video chat software, online multiplayer games and apps, and safe in-person gatherings (like outdoor activities and walks with loved ones), seniors can safely spend more time with their friends and family members in the new year. Regular socialization keeps seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally well — and reduces their risk of cognitive decline and depression.

4. Keep the Mind Sharp

Speaking of cognitive decline, seniors should also make time for brain games and activities in the new year. Brain games keep the mind young and healthy, fight boredom, and improve overall mental well-being. A few brain training activities for seniors include:

 

  • Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and word finds.

  • Classes on cooking, foreign languages, dance, or music.

  • Arts and crafts like knitting, scrapbooking, and upcycling.

  • Reading, coloring, and drawing.

5. Clean and Declutter

Clutter is harmful for a number of reasons. Not only does it create tripping hazards at home, but excess clutter often triggers anxiety, concentration issues, irritability, and even depression. So, if you’ve been feeling especially negative or depressed as of late, the new year is the perfect time to freshen up your living space by cleaning, decluttering, and letting in as much fresh air as possible. Redfin shares a checklist with some ideas for cleansing your home and creating a happier and healthier living space.

New Year, New You

It’s never too late to adopt healthier habits and take steps to improve your life, and these five tips will help you to tackle everything from changing your diet to eliminating excess clutter at home. No matter your age, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and improve various areas of your life.

 

Looking for more health tips and advice? Visit Dr. Stacey Naito’s blog at staceynaitoblog.com.

Diet Myths = Diet Lies

I wrote the following article in 2013, and it was published on RXGirl.com 

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MYTH: You should avoid eating fat.

FACT: Despite the fact that fat carries more than twice the amount of calories per gram when compared with carbohydrates and protein, fat takes longer to empty from the stomach and thus keeps you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Fat also adds flavor to foods and heightens the dining experience. In addition, you must consume some fat in order to maintain proper cellular health. Omega fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, all of which are healthy forms of dietary fat, actually lower LDL cholesterols in the blood.

 

MYTH: Healthy foods are more expensive.

FACT: Many unprocessed foods such as grains, fresh vegetables and fruit are extremely cheap. Think about it. You can purchase a five pound bag of potatoes for a couple of dollars, or you can buy a bag of potato chips for $3.49 or more. And I don’t need to tell you that the bag of potatoes will provide sound nutrition and far more food bulk than the chips. I am not a big fan of certain natural food markets because they are grossly overpriced, so I visit other markets which have very reasonable prices on their unprocessed foods. Processed and fast foods may be more convenient, but they are more costly over time, especially if you eat them frequently.

 

MYTH: Late night meals will make you fat.

FACT: Your body doesn’t process food differently once the sun comes down. The problem that many people have is that they restrict their caloric intake too much during the day, usually by skipping meals. By the time they get home from a busy day, they are starving, and will eat an excessive amount of calories to satisfy their hunger. Another issue is the mindless munching on snack foods which people often do while watching TV or sitting at the computer.
As long as you eat a reasonably sized, healthy meal, nighttime eating shouldn’t result in weight gain.

 

MYTH: You can eat any foods you want as long as you do it in moderation.

FACT: It’s okay to indulge in a calorie dense or unhealthy food item once in a while, but if you make it a regular practice to eat junk foods every day, you are doing your body and your health a huge disservice. Trust me, a chiseled physique can never be built on a pizza diet (I know, wishful thinking, right?). Your body requires high quality protein, healthy fats, and unprocessed or minimally processed carbohydrates to function optimally and to support a healthy metabolism.

 

MYTH: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

FACT: Spacing your meals throughout the day will keep your metabolism running in high gear. It is true that breakfast is an important meal because it provides essential nourishment, regulates mood and energy levels and boosts mental clarity. People who skip meals are notorious for eating excessive amounts of food when they actually do eat, and those meals are usually unhealthy and of poor nutritional value. If you are prone to skipping meals, try keeping a food journal to monitor your meal consumption throughout the day.

 

MYTH: Carbohydrates will make you fat.

The truth is, carbohydrates are usually consumed in excess by many people. What this does is cause a sharp increase in blood glucose, which triggers insulin release so that the glucose can be converted to glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles. Only a certain amount of this glycogen can be stored, with the excess being stored as body fat. Once the blood glucose level falls below normal, carbohydrate cravings are triggered which many individuals succumb to.

When you cut carbohydrate intake, you will experience a rapid weight loss initially as the body drains glycogen stores for energy. What also occurs is that water is released as the glycogen is utilized, resulting in weight loss from the increased urination which results. But after about two weeks, the increased urination ends, and along with it, the rapid weight loss.

Pet Dental Health

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Yuliia Sonsedska

 

I’m sure the majority of you are well aware about the importance of good dental health, but have you ever thought how important good dental health is in your pets?  Just as in humans, the mouths of your pets are teeming with bacteria, and some of those bacteria can enter the digestive tract, respiratory tract, and bloodstream, and cause disease, particularly in the heart, lung, and kidneys.

Another factor to consider in our pets is the fact that we have domesticated these animals over the millenia, and as a result, they no longer depend on hunting to procure their food.  This means that the natural form of teeth cleaning, in essence, gnawing and tearing at the flesh of their prey, has, for the most part, been eliminated, and replaced with dry kibble and canned foods.  Eighty percent of pet dogs and cats who have had no dental cleaning or intervention show signs of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old.

I take all of this very seriously with my pets, and I am diligent about taking them in every six months for non-anesthetic dental cleaning.  It’s worth the financial expense, even though I struggle to pay for their dental care twice a year.  The way I see it, I’d rather take them in for regular dental cleaning than to put them at risk for a myriad of diseases, and have them suffer needlessly as a result.  I’ve been taking them in for regular cleanings from the time they were young adults, and they have had mild issues with no need for a more aggressive cleaning with anesthetic.  I realize that they may at some point need cleaning under anesthesia, but until we cross that bridge, I will continue to take them in for the anesthesia-free option.

There are definitely some limitations with non-anesthetic teeth cleaning for pets, such as the fact that only the plaque above the gum line can be removed.  The veterinarian examines the pet’s teeth and gums to determine if there is any inflammation or sign of infection, and if there are any findings which are beyond the scope of the non-anesthetic cleaning crew, the pet is referred for cleaning with anesthesia.

Overall, if you aren’t paying attention to your pet’s teeth and gums, you should.  It’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian at your next visit what he or she recommends in the way of dental care.  There are dental chews which help to clean the teeth, and some very brave pet owners actually brush their pet’s teeth.  Your vet will help determine the best care regimen for your beloved pet.

 

The Great Gym Equipment Shortage of 2020

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If you’re into fitness, then you probably have encountered elements of the exercise equipment shortage which emerged from the coronavirus lockdown.  People began scrambling to pick up all sorts of exercise equipment as soon as lockdown went into effect, and suddenly, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight benches, resistance bands, etc. became as scarce as a 12-pack of Charmin.  It turns out that weight training, as an e-commerce category, is the eighth-fastest growing category, even more in demand than toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer.  Interest in fitness gear is up over 500% this year.

Part of the shortage is due to the fact that a large percentage of the iron used for exercise equipment is forged in China.  In fact, every single piece of exercise equipment I have ordered online since March has been made in China.  Many factories in China have been shut down as a result of the pandemic, causing production to plummet, and forcing distributors to find other ways to manufacture items like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, multi gyms, and barbells.

Hence the shortage and the inflated prices we have been seeing all over the internet.  Bowflex Selecttech Dumbbells have been selling on eBay for grossly inflated prices, jumping from as little as $200 for a pair last fall to as much as $1,500 during the peak of the equipment buying panic a couple of months ago.  I have had a Bowflex Selecttech 552 set with the stand for eleven years, and I am so grateful to have it.  Never once did I think about jumping on the opportunity to make a ridiculous amount of money by selling the set, because I was using the set every single day, and my fitness and sanity mean far more to me than making a quick buck.  Plus, they’re pretty awesome, enabling me to select any weight from 5 to 52.5 pounds, in increments of 2.5 pounds.

There were other purchases I made which were a test of my patience.  I ordered a hyperextension bench which took two months to arrive, and I went through so many sites and online searches and apps before I found items like the Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G Smith Multi Gym through OfferUp.  I also had to pay more than the original sticker price because the demand for such items is so high.  However, I swooped in on this item before prices went through the roof.  The current lowest price on Amazon for this multi gym is now $2,700.99 and arrives September 25th – October 13th!

 

If you happen to see a piece of equipment which you want, you had better snap it up immediately, since the demand will not abate any time soon.  Gyms have been shuttered, and there’s no telling how long it will be before they will reopen, so we all need to get comfortable with assembling the best home gyms possible.

Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G

How Coronavirus Has Changed Our Shopping Habits

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Shopping habits have changed dramatically since the appearance of COVID-19 and the subsequent scramble to socially distance and protect ourselves.  Grocery stores and retail pharmacies now have plexiglass shields at the checkout stands, and there are shoe stickers on the floors as visual reminders of the six foot distance we are urged to keep from each other.

Malls are nearly empty, and many merchants haven’t even dared open their doors.  The days when you could just hop over to a local store and pick up a couple of items have been replaced with long lines of people waiting to get in, and staple items which are perpetually low in stock or completely depleted.  Let’s not forget about all that toilet paper hoarding which defined the earlier part of 2020.

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The new normal when it comes to consumer spending is largely confined to purchasing only the essentials, but there has also been a peculiar yet predictable surge in what can reasonably be described as online retail therapy.  Since we’ve basically been forced to become homebodies, our shopping preferences have changed to reflect this lifestyle shift.  Online streaming services have increased dramatically in popularity, as people search for shows and films to chew up some of their time at home.

Industries which have seen an uptick in their sales since the global pandemic hit include food delivery and takeout services, alcohol, exercise equipment, health supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer, and beauty and wellness products.

Some people have been compelled to stock up on bundles of essentials like pasta, toilet paper and the like, while others have fallen into the habit of purchasing unnecessary items, perhaps a long coveted item which was purchased with the attitude, life is short, might as well buy it.

The following excerpt from an article by Leanne Italie is an excellent description of the purchasing habits which many of us might find ourselves falling into as this lockdown continues:

“Shopping as therapy has been shown to reduce negative moods and boost overall happiness,” he said. “The big downside, however, is that such relief is very short-lived. That good feeling very quickly dissipates.”

Mr. Galak said some research points to “shopping while bored” as a variation with less emotional payout.

“Browsing for things that one doesn’t need fills the time and then clicking `buy now’ just naturally follows,” he said. “Consumers may find themselves on page 20 of a search result for a new pair of shoes, a place that when engaged and not bored, they would never reach.”

Jennifer Salgado, 42 of Bloomfield, N.J., is a shopper with many heads these days.

“Resourceful me has purchased: a pasta roller and drying rack, because now I’m Ina Garten; stuff to make hand sanitizer, because I’m now a chemist; and dog nail clippers that my 76-pound bulldog noped out of real fast and is now looking like Snooki from the ‘Jersey Shore,’” she said.

There’s also “luxurious me,” Ms. Salgado said, snapping up 96 macarons from a bulk-buying store, along with the Jennifer who needed 24 pounds of frozen peas.

“Most of the time, I forget what’s coming,” she said, echoing others who accepted long delivery dates out of fear. “And most of the time, I realize I never really needed these things in the first place.”

Kellie Flor-Robinson of Silver Spring, Md., just may be a combination of all of the above.

“I ordered a case of Moet,” she said. “I’m not sure that it was an accident, though — this thing has me buggy.”