Day 226-Wednesday's Medical Minute-Is Red Wine Really Heart Smart?

I really wanted to do a post this morning justifying having a glass of red wine every night, but according to the Mayo Clinic, the jury is still out on whether it is any more beneficial than any other alcohol for heart health. Still, I thought it worth taking a look see, so here are my findings.

Red wine has more antioxidants

It seems that red wine has antioxidants called  polyphenols in it and the one getting all the attention is resveratrol. According to some studies, it can lower the bad cholesterol (LDL), prevent blood clots and damage to blood vessels. Yet other studies did not find any evidence to support the theory; it seems that more research is needed.

The reason that red wine has been the hero is because it is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine, therefore it contains more resveratrol. Why wouldn’t just drinking grape juice or eating grapes work the same? Because the amount of resveratrol in food and wine can vary widely. One could take supplements but the body cannot absorb most of the resveratrol in them to matter.

Red grapes contain resveratrol

We all know that drinking too much is bad for you, yet studies show that red wine, in moderation, may be beneficial for heart health. That means for ladies up to one glass per night (5 oz.) and for men up to two glasses (because they weigh more). I learned to like red wine when I lived down south-before I met the ladies in Sertoma, I only drank Zinfandel. I was told that grown ups drink Cabernet and that was when I made the switch. As many of you know from following my blog however, wine is not the only alcohol I drink, I like some spirits as well-tequila and vodka mainly.

Well, it seems that other studies have found that all alcohol (in moderation) is beneficial to heart health because it raises the healthy cholesterol (HDL) and reduces the formation of clots. It also might improve the function of the endothelium which is the layer of cells that line the blood vessels.

Sounds to me like we are all safe enjoying a glass of wine, a beer or a drink as long as we don’t go overboard with it. In my own experiments, one glass may help me sleep better yet two or more keep me awake and make me grit my teeth. :/

The bottom line is, enjoy a glass of red wine occasionally but eat a well balanced diet for heart health including fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meats. The more color on your plate, the better. You know what they say…eat the rainbow!

I hope I helped clear some things up for you and if you have questions or comments, you know what to do. Join me tomorrow for Throwback Thursday and a warmer day, on the patio. 😎


Day 212-Medical Minute-Tech Neck

img_0799How many of us are guilty-AT THIS VERY MOMENT-of staring down at some kind of device to read our latest posts, emails, tweets, chats or otherwise work on them? Well, we are killing our necks, spines and backs doing so. What can be done about this you might ask? Toss the phone out the window? Not likely, however, we can try to take a few steps to;

  1. Improve our posture-try to bring your device or reading material closer to your face by either raising the device itself (like on some pillows) or setting it on a table in it’s stand.
  2. Do various exercises throughout the day to balance your muscles-examples can include: Shoulder blade pinches, pec stretches, and chin tucks, along with some neck rotations.

Slouching forward and craning your neck to stare at your smartphone or pad can put as much as 50lbs of pressure on your spine and stretches the upper back muscles, causing the condition now known as “tech neck”. Personally, I can attest to this from spending hours at a time tensed over my computer, even sitting at a desk. Occasionally I feel this weird, tingly sensation between my shoulder blades which causes me concern. Does this ever happen to you?

Part of the problem is that my desk isn’t really a desk, and I’m trying to work at a left angle so I can sit comfortably which is all wrong, wrong, wrong! My laptop sits too low on the desk, so I tried to remedy this by bringing it up some-stacking it on a lap pad and notebook. I also sit at the edge of my chair, all the while crossing my legs. Ugh! No wonder I hurt! Add to that, I spend hours at night on the couch, watching tv and playing or working on my iPad…even though I prop it on pillows, my neck still gets drawn down-not a good posture at all.

Daily exercises like neck rotations can help alleviate some of the stiffness and muscle strengthening exercises are necessary to prevent further damage. I don’t know about you, but my spine is already compromised from past accidents and bad posture, I have pinned nerves in my neck as it is, so I really need to implement some extra stretches and new moves to work it out.

How to do a shoulder blade pinch: While sitting or standing straight, pinch your shoulder blades together and back, holding for a few seconds and then relaxing. Repeat and do ten repetitions several times a day.

How to do a pec stretch: While standing in a doorway, rest your forearms against the frame at shoulder height, bring one foot forward and lean into the door while drawing your shoulder blades together. Hold for half a minute and repeat again. Do this exercise several times a day.

How to do a chin tuck: Sitting up tall in a chair, keep your chin parallel to the floor and draw your head and chin back without tilting it in any direction, like you’re making a double chin. Perform ten reps every hour.

Neck rotations: Several times a day, stop and look gently to the left and then to the right, ten times on each side. Try to do this every hour throughout the day.

I catch myself doing these several times a day when I get up and walk around, another thing you want to do to prevent tech neck and general stiffness from sitting too long at your desk. It just seems natural to want to pinch my shoulder blades together after sitting hunched over in my chair for an hour or so. What can you add to the conversation? Do you practice yoga or other daily stretches? All of us writers must be guilty of these sins to one degree or another, am I right? Let’s agree to fix the problem and promise to try and improve our posture, and prevent the damage caused by putting undo pressure on our necks and spine. According to personal trainers and physicians, this condition can be reversed by doing these and other exercises at least twice a day.

If you google tech neck on the internet, you can find a plethora of great stretches to start a daily routine, like the ones I found at Elle Magazine– The Baby Cobra simply involves lying on the floor or mat with your hands at shoulder level and your legs stretched out behind you. Keep your chin tucked and slowly raise your hands while squeezing your glutes and shoulder blades together. Ok, I tried it and once I got the dogs out of my face, it actually feels good! There were more, and I plan on trying several of them to develop a sort of mini-routine to start my morning before I just jump on the computer. Promise!