drinking

  1. Moderate drinking can speed cognitive decline

    How the 'moderate' drinking myth could age your brain fast

    Two drinks a night. That's the very definition of a moderate drinking habit, right?

    But before you reach for that second glass, there's a new study you need to see -- one that shows how a so-called moderate drinking habit can actually age your brain faster, speeding the onset of cognitive decline.

    Start a two-a-night habit in middle age, and by the time you reach your senior years you could suffer the equivalent of an extra six years of cognitive decline, according to the study.

    And the damage doesn't end there.

    That second drink could also lead to a decline in executive function -- including your ability to reason -- equal to about 1.5 years of aging. Regular drinkers even suffer from declines in everything from math skills to verbal fluency, according to the study.

    Put it all together, and that means a moderate drinking habit could land you in the express lane for dementia and even Alzheimer's disease.

    Women who have two drinks a night are also more likely to suffer from cognitive problems, according to the study, but the link isn't as clear as it is in men. And the study found no risk for people who have one drink a night.

    But don't push your luck.

    I don't think there's any such thing as a safe nightly drinking habit, because even a little booze on a regular basis can increase the risk of cancer (especially breast cancer in women).

    And for some people, a light or moderate drinking habit can slowly turn into addiction and alcoholism -- leading to everything from shattered lives to chronic disease, including diseases of the liver.

    I recommend abstaining, but I recognize that's not realistic for many people. The next best thing is to limit your drinking to holidays and special occasions, and never go beyond a drink or two.

  2. Healthy Aging

    The five habits that will keep you alive

    Turns out the secret to healthy aging isn't much of a secret at all: it is plain old clean living.

    Treat your body like the temple it is, and you'll be rewarded with good health well into your golden years. And now, new research confirms this time-tested Biblical wisdom, identifying five good habits and all the benefits you can enjoy if you stick to them -- including a lower risk of just about all the diseases seniors worry about most.

    Dementia? You can forget about it.

    Diabetes? Won't happen to you.

    Heart attack and stroke? All your friends may live in fear of the "big one," but you won't have to worry.

    Not if you stick to the five basics of clean living for healthy aging:

    • Keep a healthy weight
    • Eat right
    • Get regular exercise
    • If you smoke, quit (and if you don't, don't start)
    • Drink only in moderation (or, better yet, not at all)

    That's it.

    Like I said, pretty basic stuff -- and if you manage to keep four of these five healthy habits, your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other vascular problems will plunge by 70 percent, according to the study of 2,235 Welsh men tracked for up to 35 years.

    There's not a drug in the world that can make that kind of claim -- and that's not all clean living can do for you. These same basic healthy habits will also slash your risk of cognitive decline and dementia by 60 percent, according to the study published in PLOS One.

    Not bad for simply living the way you should, because these five clean living rules aren't controversial even in the slightest. Both by-the-book mainstream allopaths and the best natural holistic physicians will tell you we should all stick to these basics for healthy aging and living longer.

    And, when it comes down to it, they're not especially hard to follow.

    Yet very few people manage to pull it off. In the study, less than 1 percent hit all five -- and I don't think that's limited to Welshmen. I bet it would also be less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, male and female.

    That's a shame, because this is the "1 percent" anyone can join since you don't need money to have good habits (and if you quit drinking and smoking, you'll actually save some dough).

    All you need is a little willpower.

    And if a lower risk of major disease isn't enough of a reason to live clean, I've got another one coming up next.

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