Senior Health

Brushing Your Teeth Can Prevent America’s #1 Killer

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

For years now, scientists have known that periodontal disease increases the risk for heart disease. Now, a new study in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that if you take care of your gums you can reduce a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

brush teeth

A research team led by Columbia University in New York City examined the mouths of 420 middle-aged men and women for periodontal disease. (Periodontal disease is caused when bacterial plaque on the teeth move into the gums causing inflammation. This can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, causing “pockets” that become infected with bacteria, and eventually lead to tooth loss.) Researchers collected gum bacterial samples and used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid arteries, which supply the brain with blood. Artery thickness is a marker for stroke and heart disease; if the carotid arteries get clogged with plaque, you can bet the coronary arteries leading to the heart are clogging as well.

Three years later, people whose oral health improved (read: they had fewer bacteria linked to heart disease in their mouth) had a much slower rate of carotid artery thickening than those whose periodontal disease was worse or remained the same. It doesn’t take much plaque to have devastating consequences. Picture this: a 0.033-millimeter-per-year increase in carotid artery thickness doubles the risk of heart disease and heart attack. In this study, people with gums that deteriorated, developed, on average, a 0.1-mm increase, meaning their heart disease risk shot up six-fold. (more…)

Pick Up the Pace and Extend Your Life

We all need to put a little more pep in our step. New information from the National Walkers’ Health Study, a database of information about middle-aged men and women who regularly walk for exercise, indicates that walking with greater speed is linked to longevity.


As the most popular physical activity in America, walking is assumed to be an equally beneficial exercise no matter the pace. In the new study, the benefits of moderate- and light- intensity walking were compared, as well as their impact on length of life.


Being a Rock Hard Papaw is a Mad Operation: Meet the Fittest Great Grandpa on the Internet

This is a story about a 64-year-old retired teamster from Louisville, Kentucky who has the body of an Olympic weight lifter.

His name is Robert Durbin, but you can call him “Rock Hard Papaw.”

rock hard papaw

Why Robert is not a viral video star is beyond me, but the old man—who was once overweight after a series of ankle injuries and a heart aneurism—regularly publishes videos of himself pulling off feats of strength on his YouTube Channel.

Robert works out three hours every day, his regimen a combination of strength training, CrossFit, and yoga. “I do 150 pull ups a day and 400 push ups a day,” he said. “It’s a mad operation.”

Mad indeed, but the Rock Hard Papaw isn’t fading away in the twilight of his life. “I feel 45. I’ve never felt this way. I know I look old, but I don’t feel like it.”

Just five years ago, Robert needed canes and walkers to get around, and was fitted with metallic braces on his ankles to help mobility. “Then I had an extended aortic aneurism. My health was going downhill fast and I just wanted to be able to do stuff with my grandkids,” explained Robert. (more…)

Boomers, Get Your Groove Back! 5 Ways to Enjoy the Active, Healthy Retirement You Want

A recent study by Prevention Magazine and Kellogg’s found that Boomers (ages 48-67) are looking forward to an “active, healthy retirement,” yet one-third of them don’t know where to start, while a full half of those surveyed would make positive changes if they knew how those changes would affect them.

As an active, healthy Boomer, I am going to share some simple steps you can take to come over to the two-thirds light!! But first, why the heck do 81% of you know your credit card balance, while only 49% of you know your body mass index (BMI) or cholesterol levels? You cannot buy better health with that credit card!!


1. Add in one healthy food to your daily diet and cut out one unhealthy food. Rather than look for fat content (some fats are healthy), look for the number of ingredients. The fewer, the better. The closer to the ground, the better. Think of the difference between an apple sprinkled with cinnamon (two ingredients) versus an apple-cinnamon toaster pastry (more than 25 ingredients). Do this once a week and by the time you’re one year older you will have completely revamped your diet.

2. Move a little more than the day before. Not only does movement keep you fit, it makes you smarter. Can you walk just 22 minutes a day? Or dance? Some laps in the water? It’s common knowledge that movement helps you lose weight and stay heart healthy, but being able to outsmart your kids, grandkids, friends, partner and cat (you can tell who’s boss in my house), well, that’s pretty motivating! (more…)

5 Ways to Eat, Drink and be Less Menopausal

By Team Best Life

Menopause is thought of as just one of those things every woman has to go through, including its less-than-comfortable symptoms. But studies show that women can control just how bad menopausal symptoms are. It all depends on…

What you eat. Want to lower your incidence of hot flashes and night sweats? Avoid foods with refined sugar and high fats (like candy, cake or other sugary snacks). In one Australian study of 6,000 women, these foods correlated with a higher likelihood of hot flashes and night sweats. On the flip side, women whose diet was high in fruit and fish reported lower incidences of these symptoms.

What you drink. The Harvard Women’s Health Study revealed something surprising: Women who drink alcohol—just one drink a day—are less likely to gain weight in mid-life than those who don’t drink at all. (One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.) Red wine was found to be particularly protective. According to the researchers, this might be because women metabolize alcohol in a way that makes it less likely to result in increased fat. (more…)

What the Heck is Obamacare Anyway, and How Does it Affect Me?

Hear ye, hear ye! Let October 1, 2013 henceforth be known as the day all hell broke loose in the United States. That’s when the government shut down and the website went up. Well, actually, the website went up, then back down, then up for a few minutes and back down for several more. is home to The Health Insurance Marketplace, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act and if you’re confused already, you’re not alone.

Healthcare Marketplace

Though it’s been three years since the first measures of the Affordable Care Act started rolling out, some people still don’t understand what it is or if it will even affect them. With the help of Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor, let’s whittle down to the bare bones and answer the most pressing questions.

What’s in a name: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Obamacare are the same thing. ACA is the official name while Obamacare is the tongue-in-cheek moniker coined by opponents. Now, the names are used interchangeably, particularly in the media.

The ACA is a law. It was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Since then, it’s been unfolding in phases. (more…)

ThinkFood Provides Recipes for Brain Health

Most fitness efforts are focused on what happens below the head. However, as important as it is to keep your body healthy and fit, your brain deserves some attention, too. The brain plays some role in every function of your day-to-day life, from sleeping to exercising to thinking and feeling. Like other body parts, it too loses agility as you age. To help slow this agility loss and keep the brain healthier, the AARP has released a new cookbook, ThinkFood: Recipes for Brain Fitness.

mixed nuts

The cookbook features a variety of recipes enhanced with ingredients science and research suggest help keep the brain healthy. “Too often, when we think about staying fit, we generally think from the neck down,” said Jodi Lipson, director of AARP’s Book Division in a release. “ThinkFood recognizes the importance of our brain and its need for care and maintenance. This book provides readers of all ages with fun and tasty ways to lead healthier lifestyles.” Recipes in the book are the creations of a partnership between 50 popular food bloggers and Posit Science. Posit Science is a leader in providing brain fitness exercises and education.


Geraldo’s Semi-Nude Selfie: Bad Move or Boomer Beefcake?

Early Sunday morning, veteran reporter Geraldo Rivera tweeted a picture of himself wearing nothing but a pair of rose-colored glasses, a very low towel and a smile. On Monday morning he quickly offered up an explanation for the random selfie on his syndicated radio show saying tequila and loneliness made him do it and, “It seemed like a great idea at the time.”

geraldo selfie

The photo was taken down the next day, reportedly at the request of his employer, Fox News. Oh, Geraldo, you silly, you just learned a valuable lesson. Once you post something on the internet it never goes away – ever.

Once the revealing picture, accompanied by the caption “70 is the new 50,” started making the rounds on Twitter, the immediate reaction was something akin to what Geraldo’s own 18-year-old son was texting to dear ole Dad the next morning, “TAKE THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW.”


Honestly, once we got over the shockingly low towel position in the photo, we applauded Geraldo for his obvious commitment to diet and fitness. Other men his age might be frail, thin and withering or suffering from obesity, but Rivera is clearly making the health of his body a priority. The photo would be far more troubling if the towel were obscured by a front paunch. (more…)

Shrinking Prevention: It’s all About Your Bone Health

“We fight a war against gravity our entire lives, it pulling us down, us attempting to stand tall.”

Those are the wise words of nutritionist Deb Burchardt, M.S., R.D, L.D. as we discussed the issue of shrinking with age. It’s not simply an “old lady” condition, it’s a very serious symptom of a very serious issue.

bone loss

Burchardt explained in more detail that shrinking is a direct symptom of osteoporosis. The shrinking comes as one’s height is affected due to the compression of the spine. The spine is compressed due to the bones not being strong enough to stop it any longer.

So, the easy fix seems to be make bones stronger, right? Burchardt explained that it’s not always that easy. There’s no magic, quick fix, and some of the issues may have nothing to do with the individual as much as it may have to do with their mother, or even their grandmother. (more…)

5 Ways to Make Your Community a Healthier Place to Call Home

One of my favorite books is The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Author Dan Buettner looks at areas in the world, dubbed Blue Zones, with large populations of people who live past 100.

He’s taken their life lessons to create The Power 9. These nine habits create a “blueprint” to living a longer and healthier life. The interesting thing is none of the people he studied consciously followed these Power 9 or set a goal to live to be 100. They just did. Their lifestyles and communities were set up to make long life possible.

green hands

Would you say the same of yours?

My community is working on it. We are working on taking the Power 9 principles and making Springfield, MO a healthier place to live. There are a lot of exciting ideas floating around, especially after Buettner’s visit to our fair city this month. In his presentations, he gave us examples of work in other towns (and almost the entire state of Iowa) using the Power 9 to create an environment that supports overall healthy and longevity.

Do you want to make your community a healthier place to live? Here are great ways to get started from his talk: (more…)