In the 1950s and 1960s, the American Cold War slogan (back when Vladimir Putin was learning judo in Leningrad), “Better Dead than Red” meant that anything was better than living under Communist rule, red being the de facto color of the U.S.S.R. and communism.
Fast-forward to the 21st century: A new observational study could have the slogan, “You’ll be Dead if You’re Eating Red (Meat, That Is).”
Researchers tracked more than 500,000 people, ages 50 to 71, over 16 years and found that the top 20 percent of red-meat eaters had a 26 percent higher risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, or kidney or liver disease, compared with the lowest 20 percent of red-meat eaters.
But the stats on white meat (skin-free poultry and fish) delivered a nice surprise. Those who ate the most (unprocessed) white meat had a 25 percent reduced risk of mortality over the course of the study, compared with those who ate the least white meat!
On the other hand, red and white processed meats, especially those high in dietary heme iron and nitrate/nitrites were “independently associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality.” They also heighten the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Your tip? Lean, unprocessed white meat, as well as plant protein like nuts and beans, can be the foundation of a healthy diet. Opt for no more than three servings a day of 3-6 ounces of white meat and make sure to dish up seven to nine servings of fresh produce daily.
Mental gymnastics to improve working memory
What do Charlize Theron, Jim Carey and Nicole Kidman have in common besides memorizing scripts, learning lines and making movies? They all have dual citizenship: Ms. Theron is a dual citizen of South Africa/USA; Jim Carey, Canada/USA; and Ms. Kidman, Australia/USA.
If you want to double up your brainpower so you can memorize lines or just a shopping list, researchers at Johns Hopkins say dual learning is the key. Their recommendation: a program called “Dual N-Back” that strengthens your working memory by up to 30 percent.
Dr. Mike has long been a proponent of Double Decision, a brain game that improves brain-processing speed. (Research has shown that it can decrease dementia in 73- to 83-year-olds by over 33 percent when practiced for five weeks.) Dual N-Back is an excellent complement to that. It works on a similar principle of exercising your short-term memory and challenging your recall. As you progress through Dual N-Back, the levels become more and more difficult, just like Double Decision, and your brain becomes more and more used to flexing its muscles in your prefrontal cortex.
So, to improve your sharpness and upgrade your executive function (it manages learning and decision-making) check out these intriguing programs. The demos for both are free, but Double Decision has a small maintenance fee. You can explore it at www.brainhq.com. The Dual N-Back program carries no charge unless you want to contact the developers and customize your own scalable features into the program. Check it out at https://dual-n-back.io/. class="Apple-converted-space">
Mindfulness for weight loss
On an episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” three of the crew go on an extreme diet from Park Slope Portions, a meal-delivery service. Scully (who’s not on the diet) reminisces about diet pills from the 1970s. Terry, who’s doing the diet, says “Weight-loss science has come a long way since then.” He pulls out his pre-delivered lunch -- a carrot in a bag -- and reads the label: “Ingredients: carrot. Gotta respect that.”
We all know someone who’s gone to nerve-wracking extremes to lose weight. But more and more research is showing that there’s a way to shed pounds that’s the opposite of stressful and it’s more successful: mindfulness. A new analysis of 19 studies that included 1,160 participants found mindfulness-based interventions are effective in improving eating behaviors and are linked to better weight-loss results.
So here’s how to make mindful eating work for you. The key is being aware and present in the moment. Apply these tips to your meals and snacks:
• Think about what you’re eating and why.
• Ask yourself as you’re eating if and when you feel satisfied.
• If you’re making unhealthy choices or giving into cravings, ask yourself why that might be and think about how you feel in that moment.
As you start to feel more aware of being in the meal moment, you’ll become more empowered to make healthier choices and won’t have to go to the “Park Slope” extreme. Check out Sharecare.com to learn more about mindfulness and see if you can make meal-moment mindfulness a habit.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.