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Sam Bauman: Tips to live a healthier life

Sam Bauman
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The Harvard Health Letter often arrives with the latest advice. A few of the letter’s latest findings:

Here are two supplements that you will want to avoid, the health letter says:

Niacin is beings being prescribed by many doctors in addition to a statin to boost HDL (good cholesterol) even when LDL (bad cholesterol) exists to prevent heart problems or strokes.

Latest research reports raising HDL doesn’t guard against cardiovascular woes. Despite being a natural vitamin it has some risks, such as headaches, itching and flushing of the face. It can trigger gout, liver bleeding or diabetes. Niacin can help lower LDL for some, but it’s not right for everybody.

Calcium supplements date for women back to the 1970s from brief studies. But recent studies suggest calcium supplements may increase the danger of heart attacks and may not lessen the risk of fractures. They also may increase blood levels of calcium, which can cause blood vessels to stiffen and increase blood pressure.

Dr. Willett is chief of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He suggests that patients get between 500 and 700 milligrams of calcium each day and 800 to 1,000 IU of a vitamin. You should be able to get this from food.

Ibuprofen can interfere with aspirin heart protection. If you take a daily low-dose aspirin and also take an NSAID for pain or inflammation, the NSAID may block the aspirin’s ability to block heart attacks. The fix: take aspirin first thing in the morning, wait 30 minutes before taking an NSAID. If you take an NSAID first, wait eight hours before taking an aspirin, Harvard writes.

If you take NSAIDs, don’t stop suddenly as blood clots will form easily, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack.

More from the Harvard newsletter:

Lower the risk of strokes with tomatoes. Lycopene in tomatoes helps lower risk of cancers, too.

Foods high in unsaturated fats (olive oil, fish and nuts) have been linked to lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Outstanding moisturizer that’s almost free — Petroleum jelly used right after bathing. If you don’t want to use it on your face, go for creams or lotions with humectants that bind water to skin so the effects last longer.

Hooray for vitamin D! Seems D does more than harden bones. It also may protect against autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and colon cancer and heart illness.

Take blood pressure pills at bedtime. A study shows those who took the meds at night had better blood pressure control and less likely to suffer stroke or heart attack than those who took the meds in morning.

Tips to slow macular degeneration: don’t smoke, wear sunglasses (I wear ‘em all the time I’m outdoors) eat leafy greens like kale and spinach, exercise (I do an hour a day daily), eat fish and nuts (nuts on top of my fruit and yogurt for breakfast), keep weight down to avoid diabetes.

Fending off deadly melanoma, a study shows, with aspirin reduced this skin cancer by 21 percent. The longer those in the study took aspirin, the lower their melanoma risk dropped. Another study found that daily aspirin could lower risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. Study said to check with your MD about dosage.

Dementia or a urinary tract infection? Confusion is often the only symptom when older adults when they develop a urinary tract infection. Dr. Michael O’Leary, a urologist at Harvard, notes the best defense is to drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria in the urinary tract. You’ll know you’re drinking enough water when your urine is clear.

Lots more from Harvard, including this simple yoga exercise:

Stand with your feet directly under your hips, feet parallel. Bend the right knee and turn it to the right. Bring right knee close to the foot on the inside of the left leg under the knee. Bring hands together in front of your heart or rest them on a chair in front of you. Keep looking forward and take six deep breaths. Repeat with the other leg.

I tried this and it did relax me, just as yoga is supposed to do. I use a couple of yoga moves in my daily routine and enjoy them.

Got a big report on posture of all things. Very important info for seniors who might be wondering about knee and back aches. More next week!

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.