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Elders Are Using More Prescription Meds and Supplements

Fifteen percent of older U.S. adults at risk for major drug-drug interactions.

The practice of polypharmacy among older U.S. adults is rising significantly. The concurrent use of 5 or more prescription medications rose by 5% between 1999 and 2012. During this same period, the use of dietary supplements increased from 52% to 64%. Using standardized criteria, the risk for major drug-drug interactions has nearly doubled in this age group today.

PositiveTip: For your safety, always communicate to your physician ALL medications you are taking--including dietary supplements.

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Stay Hydrated

Learn a simple method of knowing if you are getting enough liquid.

So how much water do we actually need? Enough to replace the fluids you lose each day is determined by your size, your activity level, and the climate. A simple method of determining if you are getting enough (adequately hydrated) is the color of your urine (provided you are not mega-dosing on vitamins or taking certain medications). It should be lightly yellow. Dark yellow could indicate you need more water.

PositiveTip: Eating foods with a high water content (fruits and vegetables) adds to your total liquid intake, and can reduce how much you drink.

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What is Good for the Heart is also Good for the Brain

It's a no-brainer: no pills, no side effects from meds. Just exercise!

Over five years of research, older adults who did not engage in moderate to high levels of exercise experienced greater declines in cognitive processing speed and memory function. This decline was the same as would have been expected with 10 years of aging instead of the 5 years that actually past in the study.

PositiveTip: Stay active as you age. It is essential for brain health!

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Most U.S. Adults Fail in Healthy Behaviors

The more healthy behaviors one practices, the better the cardiovascular benefits.

Only 2.7% of all adults in the U.S. were found to have all 4 healthy lifestyle behaviors: a healthy diet, regular moderate physical activity, a healthy weight, and not smoking. Only 16% had three of the four healthy behaviors. The greatest benefit was found in those who had all four, but even having only one, improved the biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.

PositiveTip: Simple healthy behaviors, practiced on a consistent basis, yield significant benefits for health.

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Heat Maps Illustrate Vaccine Benefit

Do vaccines save lives?

Discredited ex-physician, Andrew Wakefield's film "Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe" has been pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival. Despite a few loud, fierce voices claiming vaccines are dangerous, the overwhelming evidence indicates the world is a much safer place because of their benefits. Can vaccines cause side effects? Of course, but when they do they tend to resolve quickly with appropriate medical care.

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Avoiding Sun May Be as Dangerous as Smoking

Nonsmokers who avoid the sun have a similar risk for death as smokers!

Swedish researchers studied 30,000 women over 20 and found the nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers with the highest sun exposure. The authors suggest that overexposure should be avoided, but underexposure may be more dangerous than people think. Exercise and lifestyle data were not considered and might have confounded these findings.

PositiveTip: Vitamin D is essential for good health, and appropriate sun exposure is an excellent way of getting it.

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"Successful" MyFitnessPal Users

Those who succeeded in losing weight ate 17% more grains.

MyFitnessPal, a popular smartphone app with 150 million users, has released some interesting data about "successful users" who lost weight. All users ate similar amounts of carbs, fat and protein. However, the successful ones ate 29% more dietary fiber--but not near the recommended amount. Successful users also ate 11% less meat, 13% fewer eggs, but 10% more yogurt and almonds. They also ate more fruit, vegetables, grains, and olive oil. Read more... (The writer has no conflicts-of-interest.)

PositiveTip: High-quality food choices--especially fiber content--help promote weight loss.

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Reading from a Tablet May Delay Sleep Onset

The use of electronic devices before bedtime may influence sleepiness.

Norwegian researchers have found people who read from an iPad for 30 minutes prior to going to sleep felt less sleepy than when reading from a book for the same period of time. EEG data demonstrated delayed and reduced slow wave activity (deep sleep) in the brain after sleep onset compared to when participants read from a book. This is probably due to how blue light signals the brain it is daytime.

PositiveTip: For better sleep use real books, or make sure you have updated your iOS device so you can use the new nighttime mode.

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FDA Proposes Ban on Powdered Latex Gloves

Most powdered gloves pose a substantial risk of illness or injury.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a ban on powdered latex gloves because the powder can become airborne and contribute to wound inflammation, allergic airway reactions, and surgical adhesions. This is not an issue with synthetic gloves, though. The agency said this ban would not create a shortage of gloves.

PositiveTip: Avoid exposure to powdered substances as much as possible.

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"Cold Turkey" More Effective Than Gradual Approach

Gradual cigarette quitters less likely to successfully kick the habit.

It is not easy to change a long established habit--even when we know it is harmful like smoking cigarettes. Often we think it will be easier to cut down gradually. British researchers found smokers were more likely to succeed when they set a date and stopped when compared to cutting down gradually. The 6-month cessation rate was 22.5% among those who quit "cold turkey" compared to 15.5% who gradually reduced the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

PositiveTip: When making a change, set a date and then quit on that date for better outcomes.