Friday, December 19, 2014

Tough Old Bird

Speaking of longevity, birds are right up there. Macaws reportedly have a lifespan that ranges from 30-50 years and over. Information from bird bands returned to ornithologists reveals that the two largest species of albatross (Royal and Wandering) may be around for 40 plus years. The albatross may enjoy such a long life because it nests on remote islands, far removed from most predators. Enter one such albatross: Wisdom. This tough old bird reportedly is the oldest known living albatross in the wild—63 years old. I saw a picture of Wisdom in the Hawaiian Airlines on-board flight magazine recently. The accompanying article by Noel Nicholas indicated that this remarkable bird has clocked over three million miles of flight time. Apparently she has hatched 30-35 chicks so far in her lifetime, the most recent in February of 2014. Nichols reported that the staff at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (where Wisdom nests) named the chick Mana’olana: Hawaiian for ‘hope.’ Hmm.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Club 122 Longevity

I’m finishing up my latest book manuscript, coauthored with Sharlet M. Briggs, PhD, and Steve Horton, MPH, entitled:  Longevity Lifestyle Matters—Keeping Your Brain, Body, and Weight in the Game. Along with that, we are starting Club 122 Longevity. It was named in honor of Jeanne Calment, a French woman who was born 21 February 1875 and died 4 August 1997—a lifespan of 122 years, 164 days. Her life demonstrates the old adage, You’ll get farther if you aim higher. It is for people who are committed to aiming higher. Continually learning, they turn what they learn into knowledge and then daily apply that practical knowledge to creating and maintaining a Longevity Lifestyle. The website is under development (www.club122longevity). Some information is already available . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brain Ponderisms, 2

A ponderism can be defined as something that someone’s mind has thought about, considered, asked, or weighed. More ponderisms:

  • My folks ate a lot of natural foods until they learned that most people die of natural causes.
  • Are the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star really the same tune?
  • Life is sexually transmitted, except in a test tube (unless it’s a very large test tube).
  • Is a hearse carrying a corpse allowed to drive in the carpool lane?
  • The major difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
  • Feeling blue? Start breathing again and let it change your color.
  • Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which you can die.
  • Go figure: how is it that the neighbor’s dog looks away if you blow in its face, but on a car ride it can’t wait to stick its head out the window?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Brain Ponderisms

The last few blogs have been dealing with rather heavy topics so it's time for something a bit lighter. Ponderisms, for example. What is a ponderism? Good question. The word ponder means to think about, consider, or weigh in one’s mind. So perhaps a ponderism is something that someone’s mind has thought about, considered, asked, or weighed. Following are some ponderisms:

  • Can you cry under water?
  • There are two types of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.
  • Do individuals who are illiterate really get the full impact of Alphabet Soup?
  • Stop taking every little thing in life so seriously—no one gets out alive anyway.
  • If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?
  • Take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  • How can one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
Send me your favorites. We'll do a few more tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2014

#5 MH Problem Facing College Students

The #5 mental health problem? Addictive behaviors. Partying and engaging in alcohol and drug use has become commonplace on many college campuses. But what often starts as a social behavior can escalate into addiction. Think of an additive behavior as a dependency on and repeated abuse of something. People tend to think of addiction primarily in terms of drugs and alcohol but it can include food, gambling, sex, and almost anything that gives the brain a reward (even over-exercising). In terms of alcohol, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that:

  • About 80% of college students drink
  • About 50% of those are binge drinkers
  • 1,825 students, ages 18 to 24, die from alcohol-related injuries annually
  • Students are more likely to be assaulted, sexually abused or injured by someone who’s been drinking
  • About 25% of students who drink regularly report academic problems
Ask yourself:

  • Do you feel uncomfortable when drugs or alcohol are not available?
  • Do you drink heavily when you are disappointed, distressed or get in a fight?
  • Have you ever been unable to remember part of the previous evening, even though your friends say you did not pass out?
  • Has a friend or family member expressed concern about your alcohol or drug use?
  • Have any of your blood relatives had an addiction to drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you sometimes want to continue your drug and alcohol use when you’re by yourself?
 If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions or think you might have an addictive behavior related to something else, contact your student health care center today and find out what your options for treatment are on campus. Following are additional resources:

Friday, December 12, 2014

#4 MH Problem Facing College Students

The #4 mental health problem? Eating disorders. Millions of college students develop eating disorders during their college years, and males are nearly as likely to develop a disorder as women. Eating disorders involve extreme behaviors that revolve around food and weight issues. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) has provided statistics related to eating disorders; the numbers of which do not accurately reflect males with eating disorders as they often fail to seek treatment (bulimia and anorexia being seen as women’s issues):

  • People ages 12-25 represent 95% of those with eating disorders
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness in adolescents
  • 91% of college women attempt to control their weight through dieting
  • 25% of college women binge and purge to manage their weight
 Ask yourself:

  • Do you refuse to eat food or skip meals?
  • Do you fear eating in public with others?
  • Do you count calories out of a need for control?
  • Do you have strict eating habits that you feel guilty and ashamed for breaking?
  • Do you have a history of perfectionism?
  • Are you obsessed or dissatisfied with your weight or body shape?
  • Do you eat large amounts of food and then purging or make yourself vomit?
  • Have you avoided eating for a day then overate when you became too hungry?
  • Have you seen excessive hair growth on arms and face or loss of your menstrual cycle?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or believe you have an eating disorder, seek immediate treatment―eating disorders can become life-threatening. The following are some of the resources dedicated to the prevention and/or alleviation of eating disorders.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#3 MH Problem Facing College Students

The #3 mental health problem? Suicide--the second leading cause of death among college students, although at least 1 in 10 college students has at least thought about killing themselves. A 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated there were 39,518 suicides reported in the U.S., making it the 10th leading cause of death that year. A majority of college students who take their lives have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. Do any of the following common contributors to suicidal behavior apply to you:

  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety and devastation from a broken relationship or lost loved one
  • Family mental health history
  • Feelings of failure and hopelessness
Ask yourself:

  • Are you withdrawing from friends, peers, and activities you used to enjoy?
  • Have you ever thought about killing yourself?
  • Have you ever told someone you thought about killing yourself?
  • Have you experienced feeling of worthlessness or guilt?
  • Have you recently begun to abuse drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you experience extreme anxiety or intense anger?
 If yes, call 911 or go to an urgent care center. All things being equal, if suicide can be prevented, the world will not be deprived of what only you could have contributed with your unique, one-of-a-kind brain. The following organizations are some of those that are dedicated to preventing suicides.