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Sleeping too much or too little may affect stroke risk differently based on race

by American Academy of Neurology

How many hours people sleep at night may affect their risk of stroke differently based on race, according to a study published in the October 3, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that black men who slept less than six hours per night were less likely to later have a stroke when compared to black men who were average sleepers. White men who slept nine or more hours a night were at an increased risk of stroke when compared to white men who were average sleepers. There were no differences in stroke risk by sleep duration for black or white women.

“These results suggest that short and long sleep duration may have different consequences for people depending on race and sex,” said study author Virginia J. Howard, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “More research is needed to determine the mechanisms behind these relationships. In the meantime, this emphasizes how important it is to better monitor and control cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged to older people who have long sleep periods.”

The study involved 16,733 black and white people with an average age of 64 who had no history of stroke or problems with their breathing during sleep. A total of 37 percent of the participants were black. The participants were asked how many hours of sleep they usually got on work days and non-work days. Then the participants were followed for an average of six years to see who had a stroke.

Of the participants, 10 percent were short sleepers, which was defined as getting less than six hours of sleep, and 60 percent of those were black. A total of 7 percent of participants were long sleepers, which was defined as getting nine or more hours of sleep, and 30 percent of those were black. A total of 460 strokes occurred during the study, with 172 in black people and 288 in white people.

Black men who were short sleepers were about 80 percent less likely to have a stroke than black men who were average sleepers. This protection for short sleepers was not present for black women, white men or white women.

In contrast, white men who were long sleepers were at 70 percent higher risk of stroke than white men who were average sleepers, without a significant increased risk for white women, or blacks regardless of sex.

In their analysis, researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect strokerisk, such as smoking status, diabetes and heart disease.

The researchers found no interaction between sleep duration and age or sex alone.

Limitations of the study were that sleep hours were self-reported and people may not have remembered correctly and that the questions about sleep were asked only once and people’s sleep habits may have changed over time.

10 Supplements All Women Should Consider Taking for Good Health

The human body requires specific vitamins and minerals to function optimally. A well-balanced diet can reduce or even eliminate the need for supplementation. However, supplements can be a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

The needs of women are similar to, but not the same as those of men. Women must understand the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for women and follow it to the best of their ability.

Consider these supplements to optimize your health:

  1. Vitamin D. Many women are deficient in this critical vitamin. Your skin is indeed able to produce vitamin D in the presence of sunlight, but that might not be sufficient if you don’t spend enough time outdoors regularly.
  • Vitamin D has many functions, but among the most important are its roles in calcium absorption and boosting your immune system.
  • The current RDA for women under 70 is 600 IU per day. That number increases to 800 IU per day for those over 70.
  1. A multivitamin. Ideally, all the vitamin needs of the human body would be met by the diet. However, it’s not always easy to eat a balanced diet that addresses every vitamin and mineral. A simple multivitamin can help to ensure that all of your daily requirements are met.
  2. Calcium. Calcium is a primary component of bones. Osteoporosis is a real threat to all women as they age.
  • Women under 50 years of age require 1,000 mg per day.
  • Those over 50 need 1,200 mg per day.
  1. Fiber. Fiber aids in gut motility and may help to lower cholesterol. Certain types of fiber also serve as food for gut bacteria. A healthy diet provides plenty of fiber, but if you’re not eating a healthy diet with ample fiber-rich food, a supplement can help.
  • The current recommendation for women is 25 grams of fiber each day.
  1. Fish Oil. While you can live without most dietary fats, it is necessary to consume essential fatty acids. These are most easily consumed in fatty fish or fish oil supplements.
  • There is no set recommendation for essential fatty acid intake. It doesn’t take much. As little as a gram, a day could be sufficient. Follow the label instructions.
  1. Probiotics. Many health issues are believed to start in the gut. A healthy gut dramatically increases the odds of having a healthy mind and body.
  • Again, follow the label instructions.
  1. Vitamin B-12. This vitamin does many things in the body, including the building of DNA and red blood cells. If you eat a lot of meat, you probably don’t need a vitamin B-12 supplement. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, supplementation will likely be necessary.
  • The Mayo Clinic recommends that all adults consume 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 per day.
  • Vitamin B-12 is unique because it is water-soluble, so it harmlessly passes in the urine if you take too much. But it can also be stored in the body in relatively large quantities. This means that taking B-12 weekly or monthly is acceptable, provided the dose is sufficient.
  1. Iron. Menstruating women lose blood, which contains iron. One of the primary roles of iron is oxygen transport in the blood.
  • Premenopausal women are advised to consume 18 mg/day.
  • Postmenopausal: 8 mg/day
  1. Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is part of the sleep process. If you sleep well, melatonin supplementation is unnecessary. On the other hand, if you have difficulties sleeping, a melatonin supplement might help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Try 1-2 mg to start, 30 minutes before bed.
  • A total of 3-4 mg can be taken if necessary.
  1. Folate. Folate is necessary for pregnant women to prevent a particular type of congenital disability. Folate has several other roles in the body, too.
  • For women without risk of becoming pregnant: 400 mcg/day.
  • Women with a risk of pregnancy: 800 mcg/day.

Of course, the best place to start is a talk with your physician. Follow your doctor’s advice.

It’s also important to realize that it’s easy to get too much of a good thing. Taking too much of any supplement can be much worse than not taking it at all. Follow the directions on the label.

Become familiar with the foods that are high in the nutrients above. Several of the supplements listed above may be unnecessary for you if you eat a nutritious diet.

The Tremendous Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

You’ve heard about the vegan diet. Maybe you’re not convinced that it’s for you. All you know is that it sounds extreme and dull. Still, you might consider it if there were sufficient benefits.

Could you be one of those “vegan people”? Maybe you could! It might be the best decision you could make for your health and longevity.

First, let’s define what a vegan diet is. Essentially, it’s a diet that is free of animal products. So, that means no meat of any kind, including fish and seafood, no dairy products, and no eggs. Of course, many vegans choose to exclude honey, too.

What does that leave? Every other food, including fruits, soy, vegetables, beans, grains, and nuts. There are many processed foods as well that are vegan, such as bread and pasta.

Keep in mind that vegan food isn’t necessarily healthy food. French fries, potato chips, and some cookies are vegan, but they certainly aren’t healthy. You can eat a very unhealthy diet and still be 100% vegan!

A vegan diet with nutritious foods can provide many health benefits:

  1. A vegan diet may reduce arthritis pain. Multiple studies have demonstrated that following a vegan diet can reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Study participants reported less joint swelling and less morning stiffness, too.
  2. Metabolism benefits. Vegan diets can be extremely healthy. A good vegan diet is full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Just as important, a proper vegan diet is also low in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat. This type of diet is high in nutrition but low in calories and disease-causing components.
  • There is also evidence to suggest that an improvement in gut biome in those following a vegan diet also leads to metabolic advantages. 
  1. Lower risk of heart disease. The primary contributors to heart disease include high blood sugar, blood pressure, LDL, and total cholesterol. A healthy vegan diet has been shown to lower all of these risk factors.
  2. Cognitive benefits. Those that follow a vegan diet have shown a decreased risk of developing cognitive issues. When a cognitive problem is present, vegan diet followers show a slower rate of decline. 
  3. Lower risk of certain types of cancer. Adhering to a vegan diet lowers the risk of prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
  4. Enhance kidney function. High blood sugar is ultimately very damaging to kidney function. It forces the kidneys to work extra hard. High blood sugar is also damaging to the blood vessels in the kidneys. Those following a vegan diet often experience significant improvements in kidney function.
  5. Weight loss. A healthy vegan diet is low in calories. However, not all vegan diets are healthy. You can eat nothing but potato chips and Fruit Loops and be a vegan. However, a healthy vegan diet has a low-calorie density. It would be a real challenge to eat enough to maintain high body weight.

A vegan diet can be extremely healthy if good food choices are made. If you’re looking to boost your health, lose weight, and preserve your cognitive function, a vegan diet might be the best option.

Getting Started With a Vegan Diet

How can you get started with a minimal amount of trouble?

Follow this process:

  1. First, make a list of healthy vegan foods that you enjoy.
  2. Then, start by eating one vegan meal each day.
  3. After a week, add in a second vegan meal.
  4. Take things slowly and experiment with different recipes. You’ll struggle if you’re determined to eat nothing but salad and fruit. If eating isn’t enjoyable, it will be challenging to stick with it.