Poor Sleep Linked to Alzhieimer’s Disease

“A 2017 analysis combined results of 27 studies that looked at the relationship between sleep and cognitive problems, including Alzheimer’s. Overall, poor sleepers appeared to have about a 68 percent higher risk of these disorders than those who were rested, researchers reported last year in Sleep. That said, most studies have a chicken-and-egg problem. Alzheimer’s is known to cause difficulty sleeping. If Alzheimer’s both affects sleep and is affected by it, which comes first?For now, the direction and the strength of the cause-and-effect arrow remain unclear. But approximately one-third of U.S. adults are considered sleep deprived (getting less than seven hours of sleep a night) and Alzheimer’s is expected to strike almost 14 million U.S. adults by 2050 (5.7 million have the disease today). The research has the potential to make a big difference.”

Source: The brain may clean out Alzheimer’s plaques during sleep | Science News

U.S. Army Plans to Replace APFT With ACFT

Not quite combat-ready

I have long advocated measuring your fitness level periodically and seeing how you stack up against a benchmark. My favorite benchmark is the U.S. Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT).

The new Army standard testing will be too complicated for most non-military folks.

UPI has the story:

The U.S. Army is introducing an extensive overhaul of its physical fitness test that, with minor changes, has mostly been the same since 1980.The new test, announced this week, changes the name from the Army Physical Fitness Test to the Army Combat Fitness Test and is planned to become gender and age neutral. It will include a series of physical events, while the APFT was a series of pushups, situps and a 2-mile run.

The new standards call for deadlift tests, throwing ten-pound balls for distance backwards, and hand-relaese pushups that require hands to be taken off the ground for greater muscle tension. It also includes sled drags to simulate casualties, sprints with 40-pound kettle bells, hanging from a pull-up bar with legs up and the standard 2-mile run.

Source: U.S. Army to introduce new physical fitness test – UPI.com

You may also find the comment section interesting.

Late-life high blood pressure may harm brain

What kind of blood pressures are we talking about here? 147 mmHg systolic versus 134.

“Autopsies on nearly 1,300 older people, including about 640 clergy members, found more signs of damage and one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of those with higher blood pressure than among those with pressure closer to normal, researchers reported Wednesday.”

Source: Late-life high blood pressure may harm the brain, study says – ABC News

Which Supplements Work for Osteoarthritis?

Is this young player promoting premature osteoarthritis? Probably not.

Science Based Medicine has a new article on supplements for osteoarthritis pain. A snippet:

“Based on their review, the authors do not recommend omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, willow bark extract,collagen hydrolysate, glucosamine, chondroitin, combinations of glucosamine and chondroitin, and rose hip. Based on the review, Boswellia serrata extract and pycnogenol appear to demonstrate the most clinically important effects. They also note that while curcumin and MSM demonstrated clinically important effects, the quality of that evidence was low.”


“The authors conclude that those with osteoarthritis those that are enthusiastic about using supplements, short-term trials of the pycnogenol, curcumin, Boswellia serrata extract, or MSM could be attempted, and should be discontinued after 4-6 weeks if no obvious benefits are noted. Importantly, drug-supplement interactions are not always well understood or well documented, and any supplement should be used with caution (and preferably, consultation with their pharmacist) if being combined with prescription or non-prescription drugs. There is also the very real concerns about supplement quality and batch-to-bath consistency, which complicates evaluations of risk, and determining whether or not they work.”

The SBM writer (Scott Gavura, a pharmacist) also points out the benefits of ongoing exercise, appropriate weight loss, and topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Source: Supplements for Osteoarthritis – Evaluating the Evidence – Science-Based Medicine

Need help with weigh loss?

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis 

Little old ladies who fall and break their hips nearly always have a bone-thinning condition called osteoporosis. The Mediterranean diet seems to help fight it. From a press release:

“The study is the first long-term, pan-European clinical trial looking at the impact of a Mediterranean diet on bone health in older adults.

More than 1,000 people aged between 65 and 79 took part in the trial, and volunteers were randomised into two groups – one which followed a Mediterranean diet and a control group which did not.Bone density was measured at the start and after 12 months. The diet had no discernible impact on participants with normal bone density, but it did have an effect on those with osteoporosis.

People in the control group continued to see the usual age-related decrease in bone density, but those following the diet saw an equivalent increase in bone density in one part of the body – the femoral neck. This is the area which connects the shaft of the thigh bone to its rounded head, which fits in the hip joint.

UK study lead Prof Susan Fairweather-Tait, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “This is a particularly sensitive area for osteoporosis as loss of bone in the femoral neck is often the cause of hip fracture, which is common in elderly people with osteoporosis.”

Source: How a Mediterranean diet could reduce osteoporosis – Press Release – UEA

Mediterranean and Paleo Diets Linked to Lower Risk of Death

The Journal of Nutrition in 2017 published a study that looked at baseline diet characteristics of over 21,000 folks, then over the next six years noted who died, and why. Guess how many died?

Here’s a clue. These U.S. study participants were at least 45 years old at the start of the study.

2,513 died. Seems high to me, so I bet the average age was close to 65.

Hank’s not worried about death

I can’t tell for sure from the report’s abstract, but it looks like the researchers were interested in the Mediterranean and caveman diets from the get-go. Study subjects who ate Paleo- or Mediterranean-style were significantly less likely to die over six years. They were less likely to die from any cause or from cancer or from cardiovascular disease.

Why not adopt some Mediterranean diet features? Lose weight with the Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Also consider the paleo diet (click for my 2012 definition).

Steve Parker, M.D.


Paleolithic and Mediterranean Diet Pattern Scores Are Inversely Associated with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Adults. First published February 8, 2017, doi: 10.3945/​jn.116.241919. Authors:

  1. Kristine A Whalen
  2. Suzanne Judd
  3. Marjorie L McCullough
  4. W Dana Flanders
  5. Terryl J Hartman
  6. Roberd M Bostick


Background: Poor diet quality is associated with a higher risk of many chronic diseases that are among the leading causes of death in the United States. It has been hypothesized that evolutionary discordance may account for some of the higher incidence and mortality from these diseases.

Objective: We investigated associations of 2 diet pattern scores, the Paleolithic and the Mediterranean, with all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the REGARDS (REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study, a longitudinal cohort of black and white men and women ≥45 y of age.

Methods: Participants completed questionnaires, including a Block food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ), at baseline and were contacted every 6 mo to determine their health status. Of the analytic cohort (n = 21,423), a total of 2513 participants died during a median follow-up of 6.25 y. We created diet scores from FFQ responses and assessed their associations with mortality using multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusting for major risk factors.

Results: For those in the highest relative to the lowest quintiles of the Paleolithic and Mediterranean diet scores, the multivariable adjusted HRs for all-cause mortality were, respectively, 0.77 (95% CI: 0.67, 0.89; P-trend < 0.01) and 0.63 (95% CI: 0.54, 0.73; P-trend < 0.01). The corresponding HRs for all-cancer mortality were 0.72 (95% CI: 0.55, 0.95; P-trend = 0.03) and 0.64 (95% CI: 0.48, 0.84; P-trend = 0.01), and for all-cardiovascular disease mortality they were 0.78 (95% CI: 0.61, 1.00; P-trend = 0.06) and HR: 0.68 (95% CI: 0.53, 0.88; P-trend = 0.01).

Conclusions: Findings from this biracial prospective study suggest that diets closer to Paleolithic or Mediterranean diet patterns may be inversely associated with all-cause and cause-specific mortality.


Remembering Oleo

Front cover of the cookbook. The “artist” was not given credit.

I ran across a 1973 cookbook put together by my senior year high school classmates, probably as a fundraiser. My mother had saved it for decades but unloaded it on me when she downsized her lifestyle a few years ago.

Food was different back then!

More often than not, recipes calling for vegetables specified frozen veggies like brocolli and cauliflower. Rice was popular, as it still is.

In the Salads category, four of the six recipes included gelatin or Jello. Those four also included whipped cream or whipped milnot. Many of you can’t imagine what I’m talking about. You had to be there. These “salads” were molded gelatin things, usually with added canned fruit. Nothing like what we call salad today in the U.S.

A modern gourmet salad

Casseroles were popular. Remember Green Bean Casserole? “Casserole” was also used to describe the type of pan required.

Karo syrup and Velveeta cheese got a few mentions.

Many of the pie and cakes required oleo or shortening, often with butter in the same recipe. I saw only two reference to liquid vegetable oil (Wesson). I bet Crisco was the leading shortening back then.

Cookies and sweets typically needed butter, margarine, oleo, or shortening. (If you clicked the earlier oleo link, you learned that oleo and margarine are usually the same thing.) We weren’t afraid of butter back then. Butter was probably more expensive than the other fats.

One sweet treat that definitely takes me back to my childhood, and I’ver rarely seen it since then, is…

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies (aka Boiled Cookies)


  1. 2 cups sugar
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/2 cup butter (one stick) (or margarine back in the day)
  4. 1/4 cup (or 4 Tbsp?) cocoa
  5. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  6. 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  7. 1 tsp vanilla
  8. 2.5 or 3 cups of quick cook oatmeal (aka minute oats)
  9. Optional: 1/2 cup grated coconut or nuts

Mix the sugar, cocoa and salt in a one and half saucepan. Add butter and milk then bring to a boil. Boil for 60-90 seconds, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon (or similar). Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients; if you use the grated coconut or nuts, reduce the oatmeal from three to 2.3 cups. Mix for about a minute. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper covering a baking sheet. Chill until firm. Yield is 36 cookies. (Thank you Debbie Drake, class of “73! I slightly modified her Rx based on another I’ve had on my desk for seven years.)

Artillery Punch

The funniest thing about this trip down the memory hole was the recipe I submitted for Artillery Punch. Remember, we were 17 or 18 years old, but there must have been faculty supervising the cookbook committee. A few teachers contributed their own recipes. Mine was the only one of 50 or 60 recipes that included any alcohol. The legal drinking age back then was 18. A recipe like Artillery Punch would never fly in today’s PC world! I don’t remember, but I probably got the recipe from my parents. Did I submit it just for laughs or shock value? Who knows? One of the other kids submitted a recipe for Barbecued Bear, which I think was a joke (fess up, Kip Martin). The Dove Casserole recipe was fer reel.

What the kids these days call Jungle Juice

One classmate provided a recipe for Jew Chicken. Whaaaa….?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: It was fun to run across old buddies’ names, like Charles Enos, Howard Sheets, and Jeff Johnson.