Weekly health watch with items on a study from Cheerios, the flu vaccine and how dark berries help the brain while aging.

Cheerios conducted The Real 50 report to find out how 50-year-old Americans feel about their age, health and the next phase of their lives.


Key findings from the survey uncover that Americans born in 1960 feel youthful, but recognize that improving or maintaining their health is of the utmost importance. This group has their sights set on the years ahead, and they’re setting goals now to ensure that they can continue doing the things they love in the future.


Age is just a number




Americans born in 1960 aren’t stressed or sad about turning 50. About 77 percent of today’s 50-year-olds feel younger than they thought they would at this age.

More than two in five say they feel 39 or younger and, despite the recent economic downtown, close to 60 percent believe they have it better than their parents did at this age.

About 78 percent of today’s 50-year-olds who are parents believe that they have a better relationship with their children now than their parents had with them.

Healthy outlook




Close to seven in 10 believe they’ll be more consumed with the health of their hearts in the decade to come than the physical signs of aging, such as wrinkles or gray hair.

Nearly two in three report that the decade ahead is one in which they’d love to improve their overall health.

Nearly half hope their 50th year will be the time they tackle a specific health or fitness goal, such as losing weight or lowering cholesterol, and 63 percent eat healthy foodsto maintain or improve their health already.

The road ahead




Nearly 70 percent believe their best years haven’t passed them by, but they’re actually yet to come.

Close to three in four of those who believe the best years lie ahead say the coming years are most appealing to them because of chances to travel (74 percent) and spend time with their families (73 percent).

About 60 percent say they’d like to take more time for leisure activities, such as attending concerts or movies, while 46 percent want to spend more time outdoors and 42 percent look forward to volunteering.

For more information, check out Cheerios.com/love.


New Research: Vitamin D deficiency found in aggressive breast cancer cases


Women diagnosed with aggressive and late stage breast cancer are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D when compared with women with less dangerous forms of the disease, researchers reported.


According to Dr. Susan Steck of the University of South Carolina, women who were vitamin D deficient -- with plasma concentration less than 20 nanograms per milliliter -- were eight times more likely to be diagnosed with regional or distant spread of cancer when compared with women who had sufficient levels of the vitamin.


About 60 percent of African-Americans with breast cancer who participated in the study had some level of vitamin D deficiency, compared with 14.9 percent of white women.


Conversely, just 21.7 percent of African-American women had sufficient levels of vitamin D compared with 42.6 percent of white women.


"We think it may be important for doctors to monitor the vitamin D blood levels of their patients, especially among African-American patients," said Steck at a poster presentation.


-- MedPageToday.com


Did You Know?


There are many myths about how you can catch a cold: standing in the rain without an umbrella, leaving your coat unbuttoned during cold weather or getting your feet wet in the snow. But viruses cause colds, and they can only spread by contact with other infected people. To reduce the chances of catching a cold, children should cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when they sneeze, wash their hands frequently with soap (especially before eating and after sneezing or coughing) and avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths.


-- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Health Tip


Hunger is one of the symptoms of low blood sugar, and it is easy to overeat while satisfying this crave because we can consume our food faster than it takes the “hunger-off” signal to reach our brains. In fact, it takes at least 15 minutes before the blood glucose will rise and you begin to feel relief.


To maintain a steady blood sugar level, keep glucose kits and juice boxes nearby, use glucose tablets that can be absorbed faster than food and remember to wait 15 minutes between testing and treating yourself.


-- MayoClinic.com


Number to Know


2 billion: According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the cost of foot surgery to correct problems from tight-fitting shoes is $2 billion a year. The number jumps to $3.5 billion if time off from work is included.


Children’s Health: Egg-based flu vaccine proves safe with food allergies


With the flu season looming and health officials calling for across-the-board immunization, some parents may wonder just how safe the egg-based flu vaccine is for children with allergies.


Pediatricians from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center say that, even though the flu vaccine contains egg protein, most children with egg and other food allergies can be immunized safely with a few basic precautions.


An estimated 2 to 3 percent of U.S. children are allergic to eggs, but leaving them unprotected against the flu can lead to infections and hospitalizations, the Hopkins doctors say. And because many children with food allergies also have asthma, they are at even higher risk for complications from the flu.


“Some parents are understandably concerned about allergic reactions to the flu vaccine and, in the past, may have opted against it. But the risk of catching the flu far outweighs the risk for an allergic reaction to the vaccine, and even children with egg allergies can be immunized safely,” said Dr. Robert Wood, director of Allergy & Immunology.


However, children with established diagnoses of severe egg allergy should not be immunized without consulting a pediatric allergist, Wood cautions. Children with suspected yet unconfirmed allergies and those with a mild egg allergy can usually be vaccinated in their pediatrician’s office.


-- HopkinsChildrens.org


Senior Health: Dark berries clean up brain debris


Pour yourself a bowl of brightly colored berries to refresh your brain as well as your taste buds.


Recent research shows that fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, acai berries and other deeply colored berries can help the brain stay healthy. These berries, and possibly walnuts, activate the brain's own housekeeper cells, which clean up and recycle toxic debris linked to age-related mental decline.


Scientists already know that aging involves a steady drop in the body's ability to protect itself from inflammation and biological wear and tear. But natural plant compounds called polyphenolics, found in many fruits, vegetables and nuts, can protect the brain.


"In previous work, we showed that supplementing the diets of aged mice with berry extracts improved their ability to process information," says molecular biologist Shibu Poulose of the USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tufts University.


In new research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston on Aug. 23, Poulose focused on why mental function declines with age. He believes there is a reduction in the brain's natural housecleaning process so that housekeeper cells, called microglia, fail to clean up biochemical debris. This toxic litter builds up in the brain and interferes with mental functioning. Poulose found that extracts from berries enable the microglia to remove the toxic chemicals before they do damage.


"This research fills in another piece of the puzzle," says neuroscientist Paula Bickford of the University of South Florida, who was not involved in the research. "Most of what goes on in the aging brain is a damaging buildup of debris, and it can be removed. It's never too late to start eating berries."


In addition to berries, other deep red, orange and purplish-blue fruits and vegetables contain these plant compounds. Look for red radishes, carrots, cherries, cranberries, acai berries, purple and red grapes and plums.


-- AARP.org


GateHouse News Service