May 2018

Health Benefits of Following a Mediterranean Diet

You’ve likely heard it before: it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.

When it’s the Mediterranean diet, it’s a lifestyle that can help improve your heart health, fight cancer, prevent diabetes, protect your cognitive health, boost your mood, and keep your weight under control.

The Mediterranean diet was introduced in the 1950s, following an extensive study of what people ate and how they lived in seven countries, Finland, Holland, Italy, the U.S., Greece, Japan, and Yugoslavia. In the countries that followed a Mediterranean diet, studies showed a very low rate of cholesterol. According to Harvard Medical School, “It showed that regions with a low consumption of saturated fat, such as the Mediterranean countries, had a much lower incidence of coronary artery disease than regions with a high consumption of saturated fat, such as the Scandinavian countries.”

What is the Mediterranean diet?     

There are no preservatives in a Mediterranean diet. It consists of fresh fruits and veggies, olive oil, nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, yogurt, cheese, the occasional glass of red wine, along with plenty of water. Fish and poultry is consumed “moderately.” There is low consumption of eggs and red meat. The focus is on foods and ingredients close to nature, rich in monounsaturated fats, high in fiber, and high in fresh plant foods. Unlike the average American diet, there’s very limited processed foods and sugar.

Can it save your life?

While the main long-term health benefit is protection against heart disease—the alpha-linolenic acid found in fresh olive oil can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of a sudden cardiac arrest by a whopping 45 percent—studies have shown “eating Mediterranean” can be beneficial in many other ways.

According to the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, “The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favorable effect of a balanced ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fiber, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine.”

And there have been studies showing that following a Mediterranean diet might be a natural Parkinson’s disease treatment and a way to preserve your memory and protect cognitive impairment. In one four-year study, participants assigned to the Mediterranean diet maintained stable levels of cognition, whereas the ones advised to follow a low-fat diet experienced a small amount of decline. (Healthy fats like olive oil and nuts, plus plenty of anti-inflammatory veggies and fruits, are known to fight age-related cognitive decline.)

Mediterranean diet tips:

  • Eat fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, avocados, and whole grains
  • Eat at least a handful of nuts each day
  • Try to eat more beans, chickpeas, and peas (a source of protein and fiber)
  • Eat sweet potatoes
  • Drink smoothies instead of soda
  • Enjoy red wine in moderation
  • Eat a moderate amount of plain and Greek yogurt, organic milk, and natural cheese
  • Use olive oil abundantly for cooking and seasoning
  • Focus on high-quality ingredients and high-quality fat
  • Be mindful of portions
  • Dramatically limit or avoid pastries, potato chips, baked goods, processed meats, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates
  • Aim for one serving or less of cured ham, red meat, and fatty cheeses per week
  • Sit down and enjoy your meal! (Even better when enjoyed with friends and family.)

Experiment eating the Mediterranean way with the following Mayo Clinic recipes. 

 

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The Latest in Hearing Technology and Innovations for 2018

Once upon a time, analog hearing aids were the only hearing aids available on the market. They ran on batteries, used a standard microphone/amplifier/receiver to deliver sound into the ear, didn’t do a great job of getting rid of background noise (trying to have a conversation at restaurants was especially challenging), and sometimes detected feedback, delivering an irritating buzz or whistling sound directly into your ears.

And then along came wireless wearable technology and the introduction of digital hearing aids, making it easier than ever to hear. Once the benefits became widely known, more and more audiologists started saying goodbye to the days of analog. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), today there are more than 20 different digital hearing aid manufacturers in the U.S.

Digital hearing aids work in that sound waves are picked up by the microphone and processed by a computer code for clarity and balance before delivering a true-to-life sound quality back to the wearer. Distracting background noise is dramatically reduced, there’s no annoying feedback, and the hearing aids automatically adapt to your environment and recognize, distinguish, and store specific frequencies (you don’t have to adjust the volume). They’re also smaller and more discrete, and can be customized to each person’s distinctive hearing loss.

And that’s not the only exciting news in the world of hearing. In honor of May being “Better Hearing Month,” here’s a few ways companies are changing the landscape of audiology:

• Own Voice Processing technology: Signia Nx hearing aids have developed Own Voice Processing technology to identify when the person wearing the hearing aids is speaking. A common complaint amongst those trying hearing aids for the first time is that their voice sounds artificial, with an unsettling booming quality or tinny/hollow sound. Understandably, this can be a huge adjustment to get used to. This new technology eliminates that off-putting auditory occlusion.

• Rechargeable hearing aids: Disposable batteries can be a hassle, especially when they need to be replaced frequently—and they can be expensive. With rechargeable technology, it’s as easy to charge your hearing aids as it is to charge your cell phone. The charge lasts 24 hours and the batteries never need to be replaced.

• Invisible hearing aids: Invisible hearing aids are the smallest of hearing aids, fitting down within the ear canal. They are virtually undetectable by others, sound natural, and feel comfortable. They’re not perfect, though. There’s a short battery life, they don’t fit in everyone’s ears, and they aren’t strong enough for severe hearing loss (they’re recommended for those with mild or moderate hearing loss).

• Wireless microphone: The cutting-edge wireless microphone—shaped like a pen—is used in conjunction with hearing aids. It reduces background noise and the perception of high-frequency sounds, helping people hear clearly—no matter how noisy the setting.

• Made for iPhone® hearing aids: Engineered to work with iPhones, iPads, iPods, and the Apple Watch® — this easy-to-use hearing control app enhances the listening experience. Not only can it stream audio straight into your ears, it can use information from inertial sensors within the phone to change how sound is processed.

• Hearing aids with sensors by Starkey: First there was Siri, then Alexa, now Starkey Hearing Technologies is working on technology that will allow users to tap their hearing aid to “awaken” a smart assistant and nod or shake their head to respond to inquiries. Onboard inertial sensors will also track physical activity and detect falls—then send an alert to a loved one if something seems amiss. (In your phone, inertial sensors allow you to know which way you’re holding your phone.) Starkey is also looking at ways to monitor blood sugar levels and body temperature.

In the future, hearing aids won’t only help you hear better, they’ll help you live better, too.

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