Monthly Archives: December 2017

Finding Balance for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

The stresses surrounding the holidays are as plentiful as the food—whether it’s navigating an airport crammed with other travelers, feeling financially stretched, or staying up too late making preparations. Here are some tips to help you maintain your energy and vitality this holiday season.

1. Learn to prioritize

Many of us make the mistake of drawing up an unrealistic holiday to-do list—and then run ourselves ragged trying to accomplish every last thing. Linda Moreland, a psychotherapist based in Lansdowne, PA, recommends prioritizing your list. “Maybe you don’t need to do all the baking you’ve always done for years, or put up all the decorations,” she says. “Just concentrate on a few things that have special significance to you.”

2. Insist on a good night’s sleep

You probably know from personal experience that if you don’t get enough sleep, you feel irritable and energy-zapped the next day. Recently, researchers discovered a lack of sleep increases the chances of catching the common cold—just what you don’t need during the already-stressful holiday season. So do yourself a favor and get your ZZZs.

3. Eat a balanced diet

There’s something about the holidays that causes even healthy, level-headed people to toss their careful eating routines out the window. Don’t fall for this trap. Your food is your fuel, so make sure to eat a healthy blend of lean proteins, whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fats like olive oil, and plenty of veggies to keep your blood sugar—and energy—balanced. When you know you’re going to be exposed to lots of party treats, make sure you eat healthful foods the rest of the day—and don’t go to the event hungry.

4. Lower your expectations

A sure-fire way to stress out over the holidays is to insist that everything be a certain way. When you let go of the idea that your ideal holiday and your actual holiday will match, you will be free to enjoy what’s in front of you. “The holidays should be about family and love,” says Moreland. “What is most important is getting together and enjoying each other and not worrying about everything being perfect.” Going with the flow also provides more opportunity for novel, spontaneous solutions to problems that arise, which can make for future favorite family stories.

5. Raise your immunity

All that time spent with others exposes you to a host of cold and flu-causing germs. Be prepared ahead of time, by taking 1,000 IU of the immune-fortifying nutrient vitamin D starting in November. At the first sign you’re coming down with something, start popping zinc lozenges (providing 13 to 25 mg) and take 3 to 4 ml of echinacea every two hours to help stop the cold virus.

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Cataracts and Vision Health

CataractsVisionHealthJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Once thought to be an inevitable consequence of aging, we now know that cataracts have several interrelated causes. Although commonly found in those over age 60, cataract formation normally takes years to develop and may begin as early as age 40. Statistics show that by age 80 more than half of all Americans will either have cataracts or will have undergone surgery to remove them. While controversy continues over whether cataract growth can be prevented or slowed, there is general agreement that oxidative stress may be one factor behind cataract development. Family history, diabetes, smoking, previous eye injury and prolonged unprotected exposure to ultraviolet sunlight increase the risk of cataract development.

While cataracts are small and developing, there is little effect on vision. As cataracts worsen, common symptoms such as cloudy or blurred vision, sensitivity to light or glare, double vision, color fading, frequent eyeglass or contact prescription changes, or difficult night vision may occur. While cataracts negatively affect vision, they generally don’t cause damage to the eyes as some eye diseases do. In early stages, brighter lighting, prescription eyeglasses, and anti-glare sunglasses may help to improve vision. Eventually, when vision changes interfere with everyday life, a surgical procedure to remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new plastic lens is commonly performed.

As we age, the cumulative impact of oxidant stress and protein degradation distorts the delicate eye lenses. A factor in the development of age-related cataracts is protein misfolding or clumping. These deformed proteins, which become opaque and unable to transmit light, accumulate within the clear lens of the eye. Protein misfolding results from nonezymatic glycation, in which sugars become chemically bound to amino acids, proteins, and other essential biomolecules, distorting their structure. Glycation is one of the underlying causes of cataract formation. The process of glycation, along with oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and DNA damage, hastens the aging process in all cells, tissues and organs.

New Studies. Researchers have been investigating carnosine and N-acetyl carnosine in relation to cataract development and visual performance in cataract affected eyes. A non-essential combination of two amino acids, anti-aging carnosine is highly concentrated in the brain and heart, as well as muscle and nerve cells. Carnosine has been shown to have a protective effect against neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. As an antiglycation agent and oxidative stress reducer, carnosine has been shown in human, animal and laboratory studies to help reduce glycated lens proteins, prevent the loss of lens protective enzymes, and to delay clouding of the lens.

Researchers from National Institute of Health have shown that N-acetyl-carnosine 1% eye drops demonstrated high efficacy and good tolerability for prevention and treatment of visual impairment for the older population. Other studies demonstrated improvement in overall light transmission, glare sensitivity, and visual sharpness.

Have regular eye exams. As with many chronic or age-related diseases, prevention is the best strategy. Many serious eye diseases have no early warning signs, so it’s important to make regular eye exams part of a standard health care routine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends an initial dilated eye exam at age forty and annual dilated eye exams beginning at age 60.

Quit smoking. To reduce the risk of developing cataracts, give up smoking. Smoking contributes to a number of health conditions including heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, and can lead to macular degeneration, glaucoma, dry eye syndrome, cataract formation, and blindness.

Maintaining optimal vision health and eyesight requires adequate nutrition. Certain nutrients are particularly beneficial to eye health. A diet high in antioxidant-rich nutrients and omega-3 essential fatty acids is good for heart, brain and eye health. Green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, provide lutein and zeaxanthin, two nutrients found in healthy eyes that are believed to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies suggest that omega-3 rich cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, may reduce the risk of developing eye disease later in life. Zinc, found in legumes, beans, red meat and oysters is an essential trace mineral found in high concentration in the eyes. Zinc may help protect the eyes from the damaging effects of sunlight, as well as macular degeneration.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant critical to eye health. Science has shown that the eyes need relatively high amounts of vitamin C for proper function. Including antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet may help to prevent or delay cataracts and macular degeneration. Orange-colored fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe, provide beta-carotene, a nutrient that assists night vision. Selenium, a component of antioxidant glutathione, may help to protect the lens and prevent age-related cataracts. Together with zinc, selenium may help protect against glaucoma, which can lead to optic nerve damage and blindness. Selenium is found in brazil nuts, tuna, and wheat germ.

Maintain healthy blood sugar. Diabetic eye disease comprises diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, glaucoma and cataracts, all of which have the potential to cause vision loss and blindness. Controlling or reversing diabetes with prescribed medications, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a proper diet can help to prevent or delay vision loss. It’s imperative that those with diabetes have regular eye exams, as early detection can greatly reduce the risk of vision loss.

Wear sunglasses. Proper eyewear can help to protect your eyes from glare and sun damage. Exposure to UVA and UVB ultraviolet light can hasten the formation of cataracts even in younger people. A wide brimmed hat can further protect the eyes when spending time outdoors in any season.

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References:
Facts About Cataracts. https://nei.nih.gov/health/cataract/cataract_facts
Cataracts: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/157510.php
Efficacy of N-acetylcarnosine in treatment of cataracts. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12001824
Carnosine, Cataracts, and Visual Clarity. http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2018/1/Carnosine-Cataracts-And-Visual-Clarity/Page-01
Recognizing Cataracts. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/08/recognizing-cataracts
Smoking Can Lead to Vision Loss or Blindness. https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/tobacco_control/smoking_can_lead_to_vision_loss_or_blindness.htm
Four Fantastic Foods to Keep Your Eyes Healthy. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/four-fantastic-foods
Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease. https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy
Do Zinc and Selenium Help Eyesight? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/zinc-selenium-eyesight-8608.html
N-Acetylcarnosine sustained drug delivery eye drips to control signs of ageless vision. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2685223/