OLIVE OIL reduces BREAST CANCER

Can olive oil really reduce breast cancer? A trial study involving 4282 at risk women due to diabetes or other factors was done with a five year follow-up after a controlled dietary change. One group ate a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil and the other was on a similar low fat diet without olive oil. Both groups benefited, but the different results revealed that the olive oil group had a 68% lower risk of cancer. This occurred because the extra virgin oil has more polyphenols(micronutrients) and hydroxytyrosol(antioxidants).  JAMA Internal Medicine. 2015 Sep 14.

As a research driven consumer, I personally have enjoyed the Mediterranean diet for a few years now because of the extraordinary protective cardiovascular benefits. So, this anti- breast cancer effect is an added bonus and confirms this diet for longevity. It’s the “First Press Extra Virgin” that is the best oil with extra nutrients. It might be that this diet has more benefits for women according to studies like this. For those of you new to the Mediterranean diet, here is a simple introduction:  http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/mediterranean-diet/

Improve Self-Esteem

We all want improve self-esteem because we want to feel more positive about ourselves. Here is what you need to know to improve yours.

Americans are more concerned with self-esteem than other cultures partly because we have many symbols of personal success in our society. Those symbols are our house, car, clothes, vacations, jewelry, and even what prep school our kids go to. Despite how superficial this may seem, its part of our culture. External objects of success can have an impact on self-esteem if that’s your yardstick. However, over time, these external measures tend to mean less as we understand their limited value.

As a therapist for over 35 years, I’ve had many opportunities to improve self-esteem especially with depressed patients. First I want to define self-esteem as an attitude that’s completely under your control. It’s a way to view yourself and the world. If this attitude was established in childhood, that’s where I would start.  So, see if you can pinpoint when it started, that goes a long way in understanding the cause. It often comes from an over stressed parent and not a result of anything you did.

THE ORGIN Being aware of the cause of negative feelings like a degrading parent or sibling helps put our feelings in perspective. Just because others blamed you, thats no reason to blame yourself. Some of us may have had toxic people in our past which we may have to accept and move on. We must release feelings of the past so we can move forward in a healthy manner.

SELF-AWARENESS You may not realize how amazing you are until you make a list of all your abilities, skills, and attributes. This is a written exercise because you will continue to add to it. I want to see a long list of even the smallest traits like making your bed in the morning or just being polite to people. Fill the page and pin it on your refrigerator to remind you.

RELATIONSHIPS Did you know that we take on the attitude of those around us? It’s important to step back and evaluate how positive our relationships really are. Sometimes, we might hold onto old friends out of obligation or duty, but that may not be a good idea. Ask yourself if your friends or family treat you with the same respect as you treat them. This exercise involves making a written list of all the people we know and assigning a positive value to each.

ACCEPT YOURSELF AND OTHERS We are not perfect and that’s ok. Accepting the unique imperfection of yourself and others is what makes personalities interesting. An attitude of acceptance of others tends to increase their acceptance of you. Transformative exercise: you can decide to say something positive about people each time you meet them. Don’t be surprised if they start doing the same to you which increases your self-esteem.

JEALOUSY This occurs when others are perceived as better in some way. People who spend too much time on social media tend to feel this way of others. Men especially tend to compete on different levels that can make one feel inadequate. So, don’t put yourself in a win or lose situation and stop worrying what others are doing. Be sure to set you “own” goals. Self-esteem is based on our contentment with ourselves, not others.

CREATIVE VISUALIZATION Before you get out of bed in the morning, lie there and visualize(mental imagery) how positive or effective you will be that day. If you have an interview, image how it will go and how positive and confident you will feel. If you haven’t done this before, you may be surprised how behavior follows predetermined thought. In my therapy, I assign the book Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain for those new to this technique. If you haven’t read this book, it might open up a new world for you.     L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

SOCIAL SECURITY: What’s your plan?

Understanding your Social Security benefits for retirement is often the key to survival for many of us. But, about 70% of us lock in benefits at their lowest amount when 62 years old. Many are still working at this time which creates an unnecessary conflict with your social security benefits.

The so called “full retirement” age is 66 if born from 1943 to 1954. This gradually increases to 67 if born in 1960 or later. If you take benefits before full retirement and are still working you can trigger a special penalty.

If you take benefits before full retirement(62-65), social security will deduct $1 for each $2 you earn above $15,720(for 2015). If you earn just $25,000 that year, the deduction is 1/2 of $9280 or $4640 that is withheld from your benefit check.

When you reach full retirement age, social security deducts $1 for every $3 above $41,880(for 2015)–a much higher limit. So, you could earn up to that limit without loosing any benefits at all–a much better scenario. Many of us will work part-time to keep things interesting and to supplement our incomes, so you want to set yourself up for the best outcome.

In addition to this, you must be aware of your tax obligations. You will pay taxes on your social security if you total income is more than $25,000 if single. However, if you file a joint return, you will be taxed on anything over $32,000. So, two single people living together have a higher tax threshold than those married. This has commonly been referred to as the marriage penalty and the main reason elders prefer to cohabit instead.

So, based on the above info from social security, the best outcome here is to simply wait until your are 66 or 67 years old to start and stay married or don’t remarry. Let me add that there is a second reason to not remarry. Remember, you can take half of your spouse’s social security at 62(without any loss to that spouse) and then start your full benefits at 70 when they are higher. You have to have been married at least 10 years to qualify.

In case this sounds a bit confusing at first, please see my other article that spells it out in more detail. In it, I provide 6 reasons to take social security at 62 and 6 reasons to take it a 70 years old. When I decided to start my social security at 62, it was because I fit into one of the 6 reasons provided. I certainly encourage you to spend a little time to understand this before you have to decide. The last thing you want to hear you left money on the table when you actually qualified for it. Here is the article When to Start Social Security: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/when-start-social-security/

L. Johnson of Creative Retirement for Women

Coffee Update

Coffee Update–Once considered to be harmful, coffee research has exploded in recent years. New studies show improvements in a number of different areas of health and even suggest how much to consume for maximum benefit.

COFFEE PROTECTS YOUR HEART  This is contrary to older thought, but Life Extension(1) discusses studies that show positive effects to your heart, blood vessels, and brain. To protect your heart, coffee works on the cells that form a lining in your heart and blood vessels–the endothelium. Coffee relaxes the vessels and has an anti-inflammatory effect. There is a 11% reduction of heart disease with 1.5 cups a day and a 15% reduction with 3.5 cups a day.

COFFEE REDUCES FAT AND DIABETES  I always question how adding to your consumption can reduce fat, but there are now many studies behind this. A compound in coffee, chlorogenic acid, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that lowers your blood sugar and abdominal fat. This activates the immune system helping to prevent cancer as well. Your diabetic risk is reduced by 8, 15, 21, 25, 29, and 33% for consumption of 1 to 6 cups a day.

COFFEE PREVENTS SOME CANCERS  Liver and kidney cancers are the most improved even if you already have hepatitis. Many Americans eat a fatty diet and like their alcohol which damages the liver. Coffee’s anti-oxidant enzymes deactivate cancer enzymes. It helps destroy renal cancer cells in your kidneys. Drinking 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, or 8 cups a day results in liver cancer reduction of 34, 56, 62, and 68%.

COFFEE PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN  Age related cognitive decline leading to dementia is a concern for all of us. Caffeinated coffee elevates plasma levels which improves memory and may promote new brain cells.  Two of the most common disorders of aging, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, can be reduced. Consuming 3 cups a day reduces your chance of Parkinson’s by 28%.

IN CONCLUSION  Life Extension(1) notes coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of dying from all causes with caffeinated coffee having a slightly stronger effect. I’ve been a fan of green tea health benefits, but with this new research, it looks like coffee in the morning and green tea the rest of the day.

Keep in mind that how you drink your coffee matters too. A simple cup of brewed coffee has no fat and 5 calories. However, a large frappuccino has up to 580 calories which is equivalent to a meal.  Some coffee drinks have up to 20 grams of fat. I understand that these are dessert drinks, but you don’t want to increase your fat intake accidentally. Using a little non-fat milk and the natural sweetener stevia is all you need to improve the taste. I personally recommend organic coffee to really enjoy the richness of flavor.                                                                                  Lee Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Huntington, J. New Health Benefits from Daily Coffee. Life Extension Magazine. July 2014, p48-57.

TIPS TO KEEP NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers the following tips to help families and individuals keep their resolutions for a healthy mind and life.

1. Don’t make too many resolutions. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame. A couple of small goals works best.

2. Choose your own resolution. Make sure your goal is something that “you” want to accomplish for yourself and not just for friends or family. Always lose weight for yourself, not others.

3. Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in a certain period of time, like three months. Achieving goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress.

4. Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts and can motivate you to keep going. Group activities are just more fun.

5. If you get off track, forgive yourself. Review your plan and make adjustments–but, never give up.

6. Congratulate and reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met routinely. Keep in mind it’s a lifestyle change that is intended to be self reinforcing.

Since, I am research driven, I make resolutions a routine part of my day. That is, if I run across convincing studies, I’ll make a resolution to follow that advice starting that day. Of course, you must be open to improving and changing yourself. This means that you’ll feel insecure at first until you adjust. But, adjustments are the nature of change and personal evolution–we can’t grow without it. So, lets embrace changing ourselves for the better. Carpe Diem                              Lee Johnson, www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

FRIENDSHIP for BETTER HEALTH

Quality friendships really do benefit our mental and physical health. Historically, we always have lived in groups because it facilitated our survival. It’s easier to hunt, live, and provide security as a group. Today, we mostly live in family units or individually.  But, our basic human needs for social support and belonging has not changed. Here are some of the many health benefits of your friendships.

Friends are especially good for your heart and can extend your life. A recent report(1) of a three year study of 13,600 women and men who had no or few friends found that this increased their chance of a first heart attack by 50%. In a study of women only, similar results were found. Women are twice as likely to die when they have the least social support. The women with the best friends had lower blood pressure, less diabetes, and less abdominal fat–better health.

The way this works is that social contact relieves stress which causes inflammation in your arteries. This continued inflammation leads to clogged arteries and heart disease. The study also reports that when younger people have a trusted friend to discuss difficult times, their pulse and blood pressure are lower. These results are measurable and confirmed by other studies.

The psychological benefits involves reducing your stress, increasing your mood and self-esteem while providing a sense of belonging. Talking with friends helps us debrief and cope with life’s traumas. Without friends, we can become isolated and depressed which shortens our lives.

But, this is not to say than any friend can bring these healthy benefits. We need quality friends who are positive, happy and helpful. Not those who always complain or take advantage of you because that just increases your stress. Another study found that we tend to eat more vegetables and fruits, exercise more, and successfully quit smoking if we have the support of friends. So, it’s confirmed, friends influence our behavior for better or worse.

In conclusion, we all need and can benefits from friendships. Since, we know how friends influence our behavior, we try to keep the most positive ones. Leaving unrewarding or difficult relationships behind is acceptable since quality is certainly better than quantity. I recently evaluated my set of friends and let an old friend go since he became toxic. Being open to establishing new friends is important especially when you start to see you old ones pass away.

Some people find it difficult to make new friends because it takes effort. You need to join clubs and organizations or volunteer. You have to get out there and act like a friend to make friends. So, just get involved with any social event that interests you. This effort is going to pay off on multiple health levels for you including your longevity.  So, let’s go out and make a new friend today.   L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Woolston, C. (3-11-15) Health Benefits of Friendships. Health Day. Retreived on 11-30-15 from: http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/emotional-health-17/psychology-and-mental-health-news-566/health-benefits-of-friendship-648397.html

Women’s Brain Health Alert

Brain Health:  Women’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are DOUBLE that of a man. Women have more than DOUBLE the chance of caring for a family member with cognitive impairment. Current studies show that women are more likely to development cognitive impairment faster than men and not just because of age(1).

The lasting impact this has on women is on different levels. First, more women are struggling with and dying of dementia. Second, since women are often the caretakers, personal and financial sacrifices are often made that end up hurting them. And finally, more women are leaving Alzheimer research work for various reasons.

This ongoing difficult situation for women in all parts of the world resulted in a Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health. Their goal is to raise money for research, develop a scientific agenda, and organize doctors and scientists to encourage a more rapid solution to the problem. WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s also unites women across the world to search for a cure to Alzheimer’s and is involved in the Global Alliance. Before this alliance, there were few organized efforts to fund research for gender based studies or women’s brain health.

If you or someone you know has been a caretaker of an older adult, you know how stressful, isolating, and costly this can be. It can keep you out of the work force for years and hurt your own retirement. It can negatively change your relationship with your spouse. This is in addition to the emotional toll it can take on you personally.

I completely understand that the desire to take care of your mom comes directly from the heart. So, from my days working in Hospice, I believe that managed or assisted care where you work with a team is best. Remember when our parents went to work, they hired a baby sitter. There was not a sense of guilt or dereliction of duty because we knew this was best for both parties. If we go to work now, your mom can enjoy a stimulating day care or other socially engaging program.

Studies show that day care benefits the elder’s health in the social, cognitive, and physical aspects of life. The social interaction reduces depression and anxiety. Structured activities increase alertness and physical mobility. This is all done by a staff of licensed nurses and trained staff. Day care is certainly better for her than just sitting around watching TV. This involvement benefits both parties as your stress is reduced while their social life is enhanced. My professional experience is that the team approach of different disciplines is the best model of care.

In terms of what measures to take and what to eat to help prevent cognitive decline, please refer to my other article on the aging brain: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/the-aging-brain/

L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Robinson, F., (26 Oct, 2015) “Leaders from Canada, United States, and United Kingdom Announce Global Alliance on Women’s Brain Health”  Yahoo Finance. Retrieved on 10-27-15 from //ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/leaders-canada-united-states-united-120000945.html

Health Benefits of Being in Nature

There are now scientific studies that support the health benefits of being in nature. Our hectic schedule of inside activities where air pollution is greater is slowly killing us. Here are nature’s benefits and why we need to be connected:

1. VITAMIN D  “Those who don’t get enough Vitamin D are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s(1)” Less conclusive studies show a relationship with heart disease and diabetes. Getting your Vitamin D from natural sources is an improvement over supplements because of better absorption rates.

2. IMPROVED SLEEP  Americans generally don’t get enough sleep. We all have an internal biological clock or a circadian rhythm. This rhythm is set according to our exposure to the sun. Spending too much time inside can change this pattern. Taking a walk in the morning can help re-set your clock.

3. MENTAL HEALTH Studies show that the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced. This involves the regulation of mood, appetite and sleep. It also improves some mental functions like memory and learning. Serotonin can act like an anti-depressant in your body.

4. VISION Going outside protects your vision in two ways. It can prevent and reverse Computer Vision Syndrome. If you work on a computer and watch TV when not working, you are at risk. The common symptoms are double or blurred vision, headaches, eye irritation and neck pain. The second protection is against nearsightedness. Artificial light is proven to cause this change in vision that can be reversed in natural light.

5. FRESH AIR  It’s frightening to know that indoor pollination is far worse than outdoor. Lack of fresh air can led to bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer and heart disease(1). This is especially true if you sleep above your garage. So, remember to open windows daily and add house plants too.

6. GROUNDING   A new concept to some. It refers to skin contact with nature(grass, dirt, sand). This way we absorb earth’s electrons since the planet is more negatively charged than our bodies. The theory is this reduces inflammation while increases energy. So, take off your shoes next time you walk in the park and be a kid again.

7. EXERCISE  This is not a direct effect of fresh air, but a byproduct of going outside. It’s hard to be outside without doing some type of activity. Exercising outside has more benefits than in a gym. Results show people exercise longer and feel better about it when in nature.

I think the best way to take advantage of being out doors is to plan activities. If you already have your walking or exercise routine established, just move it to a greener location if need be. I always have a table and chairs on my backyard or patio because I enjoy el fresco dining. Start by making a list of all the outdoor activities you enjoy(including window shopping) and start incorporating them into you routine. So, if I tell you to Take a Hike, I mean for your health.  L. Johnson of http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Zack, (3-2014) Get Outside! 7 Scientifically-Backed Health Benefits of Being in Nature Retrieved from: http://appalachiantrials.com/scientifically-supported-reasons-get-outside/ on 11-12-2014

Therapist Offers Free Consultation

I am happy to offer free retirement consultation because it is a major life adjustment. Your first lifestyle change is away from work and can take two to three years to get used to. Your second adjustment is ongoing as our bodies continual change with age. The normal aging process changes our eyesight, hearing, taste, physical strength and endurance, hormones, libido, memory, digestion and other system in our bodies. So, expect to go through gradual changes as you age that may require small adjustments.

If you are making a transition from full-time employment to full-time retirement, give yourself time to find your balance. That change is similar to going from 65 mph to 0. Those without a social plan will find it more difficult and longer to adjust. Those without a plan also feel more lost and confused without any direction. This can led to anxiety and depression. So, step one is to write out a detailed social and personal activity plan with as many options as you can think of.

Some people get stuck on this first step because it’s a new exercise and I ask that you do a life review first. Life review is where you look back over your life for all your past interests and life themes(family, artistic, academic, service oriented, etc.). You will look inside yourself to find creative ways to express your personality and your passions. So, a little serious planning at the beginning creates a solid foundation to build upon.

In the process of planning, many doubts and questions naturally arise. That’s when talking to a consultant with over 30 years of therapy experience helps. I’m also in my 7th year of retirement. If dying is on your mind, I’ve worked in hospice and have done bereavement counseling. If you have financial questions, I’ve been a registered rep or stockbroker for 5 years. I was also a life insurance agent and successful real estate investor. If diet and health is an issue, I was an instructor in a weight reduction program. I can enjoy providing free consultation because I get social security and I love working with people–its part of my creative retirement plan to fulfill my passions.

When you purchase the book Creative Retirement for Women, you get automatic access to this program for as long as needed.  You can view some of the questions and answers on the website,  http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com.  I don’t know of anybody else offering this service. So, let me extend a personal invitation to you because its more than just a book, it’s a supportive relationship for the long term. I hope to speak with you soon.           L. Johnson

Taurine for Health and Longevity

If you’re trying to lose weight and increase your longevity, you know the importance of exercise and diet. But, if your diet is rich in vegetables, you probably have low taurine levels. As we age, Taurine amino acid production by the body also decreases. Why is this a problem? According to Life Extension Magazine(1), it’s needed to  improve heart health, immunity, hearing function, insulin sensitivity and electrolyte balance. In animal studies, it reduced mortality by almost 80%. In humans, the cultures with greatest longevity all have a high intake of taurine. People with high taurine have much lower blood pressure and lower rates of dying form heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

In terms of weight loss, they report a study where just 3 grams per day of taurine for 7 weeks resulted in significant weight loss for those over-weight. They also recorder declines in triglycerides and cholesterol. Taurine promotes glucose tolerance that helps reduce weight. This is especially important for diabetics since taurine helps prevent and even reverse diabetic abnormalities and prevent heart muscle damage(1).

Taurine also protects your vision and hearing. Age related vision loss is common among Americans, but not in all cultures. This amino acid has very high concentrations in the retina which naturally declines with age. Although, many things impact vision, proper levels of taurine help to prevent vision impairment. Americans also tend to have hearing loss with aging. Most of this damage is from inner ear nerve cells due to low calcium flow.  Amazing as it is, taurine restores the calcium flow which restores hearing loss from that source. Related studies also report that ringing in the ears from tinnitus can be stopped.

Additional benefits for athletes have revealed that cyclists can ride longer distances with less fatigue. Taurine apparently helps muscles preform at a higher level for longer periods without risk of injury. It increases “muscle contractility” or the force that muscle fibers use to push and pull. The result is that your muscles are stronger. One of the main cause of muscular fatigue is lactic acid. That stiff feeling the muscles get when you start out too fast. Taurine helps reduce the lactic acid thereby increasing your endurance.

Since the aging body cannot produce enough taurine, other methods must be used. Taurine can be incorporated into your diet, but you would need to eat more meat. One of the foods with the highest content of taurine is fish and shell fish (with mackerel at the top of the list). Chicken, beef and lamb are also a good source of this amino acid especially the organ meat. But, if you are a dedicated vegetarian or vegan, you probably want to consider supplements. Studies tell us that as little as 1.5 grams a day is enough to restore healthy levels. If you are a light meat eater, you may still consider a supplement since it takes a substantial amount of meat to balance your levels. L. Johnson      http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Macleavy, I. The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine. Life Extension Magazine. 2013 June. Retrieved on 9-28-2015 from: lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/6/The-Forgotten-Longevity-Benefits-of-Taurine/Page-01