Below are Dr. Holtorf’s thoughts on commonly labeled “bad habits” and how some may actually be better for you than you think:

1. Can Swearing Actually Help Reduce Pain?

Cursing has shown to increase the fight or flight response. This involves the release of norepinephrine, which can effect the central nervous system to reduce the pain response. New medications called Serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that are approved for fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain (nerve pain) and depression increase levels of norepinphrine and, thus, are effective at reducing pain via the effect of norepinphrine.

Thus, these medications, which include venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta) and Milnacipran (Savella), can be used or one can, alternatively, curse at friends and family to enjoy a reduction in pain.

2. Various studies say that a moderate, daily dose of alcohol can be good for you (supposedly no more than two drinks for men and no more than one for women). Why can alcohol be a healthy addition to your diet, especially for people 50+? Are any particular types of alcohol best?

Moderate drinkers are healthier, have higher quality of life and have a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia than those who do not drink. While antioxidants such as resveratrol in red wine can be beneficial, studies show that it is the alcohol itself that has the biggest impact so any alcoholic beverage in moderation (no more than two drinks or men and no more than one for women) has significant health benefits.

Additionally, recent studies show beer has some unique benefits as well, including the prevention of osteoporosis. This appears to be due to the high silicon content in beer. Full-bodied “micro-beers” will have more “bone-beneficial” silicone than lighter beers. Beer also has high levels of B vitamins, which prevent the build-up of amino acid called homocysteine that has been linked to heart disease. Additionally, the hops in beer can reduce the risk of cancer.

3. Is it good to express anger? Why or why not? What’s the physical effect on the body if you suppress an angry response? Should you just let out anger if you’re feeling it?

That belligerent loudmouth at work just may outlive everyone because studies show that men who bottle up their anger at work may double their risk of a heart attack. Other studies have confirmed that frustration and inability to express anger are more important risks for heart disease than cholesterol and hypertension. It might be time to let your boss have it.

4. Is taking rest breaks throughout the day helpful for stress, memory, and cognition?

The concept of ‘sleeping on a problem’ is familiar to most of us but the complexities of the sleep cycle and memory processing makes it anything but a straight forward relationship. It has been shown that slow wave (deep) sleep is essential for memory formation and that sleep deprivation reduces the ability to consolidate memories. Conversely, taking naps during the day, especially if allowed to cycle through the deeper stages of sleep, can significantly improve daytime memory and performance. Even just daydreaming, however, can improve information processing, as well.

6. Can video games help improve cognitive function and vision? Should you start playing video games if you’re 50+?

Staying intellectually active can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias as well as age-related memory loss. Video gaming, long thought as being exclusively for teenagers, is now emerging as an ideal platform to keep seniors mentally sharp. There are a number of computer games designed for seniors to stay sharp, but anything that is mentally invigorating should work just as well. While having a day full of enjoyable mentally challenging tasks would be ideal, if that is not possible a few hours per day of video gaming may be a suitable replacement. One can do either games designed for solo players or can add another player for a little competition and extra stimulation.

Is coffee really as bad as some wellness experts act like it can be?

Coffee is often considered an addictive vise that can raise blood pressure and heart rate, but there are many proven health benefits to regular coffee consumption; regular coffee drinkers enjoy a significant reduction in the risk of Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, gall stones, cavities, liver disease and diabetes. It can also improve mood and help reduce headaches.

Final Thoughts

As discussed above, many long held bad habits may not be so bad and actually have health benefits. Likewise, many seemingly healthy habits may have hidden dangers and risks so the general rule is moderation in all things. Additional keys to happiness include: staying optimistic, surrounding yourself with friends, pursuing meaningful life goals, being able to enjoy and live in the moment, nurturing meaningful relationships and being grateful.

Have questions about improving your health and habits? Call us today at: (844) 844-2981

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