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Life Lessons From 100-Plus-Year-Olds


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Age is just a number, and this is clearly evident in the lives of the three centenarians interviewed in the LifeHunters video above.

Each has his or her own story — Clifford Crozier, born in 1915; Emilia Tereza Harper, born in 1913; and John Millington Denerley, born in 1914 — but you’ll notice a certain “je ne sais quoi” that they all seem to share.

Positivity and strength are certainly apparent, along with a will to live and a continued interest in and curiosity about the world around them.

Even as times changed, these people kept on living, adapting to and welcoming the new phases of their lives. It’s this fortitude and emotional resilience that has likely played a major role in their longevity.

Emotional Resilience and Optimism Help You Stay Young at Heart

Each of the centenarians in the video look far younger than their chronological years, and they certainly don’t act their age (who knows how a 100-year-old is “supposed” to act anyway). Their positive attitudes undoubtedly are to credit for helping them stay young at heart, and research backs this up.

In a study of 100 seniors (average age of 81), those who were exposed to implicit positive messages (words like creative, spry and fit) experienced gains in their physical strength.1

It’s evidence that your mind truly does have power over your body, and all of the centenarians interviewed exemplify this. If you believe your body and mind will fail you as you age, it may very well follow suit.

But the opposite also holds true, especially if your positive mindset is combined with the basic requirements for healthy living (like good sleep, fresh healthy food and staying active).

The majority of centenarians report feeling about 20 years younger than their chronological age, and their mindset has a lot to do with this self-perception.

Though Denerley is 102, for instance, he states that he feels like he’s 69 or 79. There’s a good chance, too, that if you were to evaluate his biological age, it would be closer to how he feels than to his actual chronological age.

Interestingly, experts also agree that using acceptable biomarkers to determine biological age (such as blood pressure, muscle power, skeletal mass and fitness indicators) would be a better indicator of lifespan than chronological age.2

Centenarians Eat Real Food

Notably, none of the centenarians were self-proclaimed health nuts, but they do understand the value of eating real food. There was no other option when they were born, after all. As Harper noted, she grew up eating home-cooked food. What else was there?

And more than that, her family grew their own food as well. Everything they ate was taken fresh from their garden, prepared and then put onto their plates.

In 2017, the notion of eating home-grown, home-cooked food has become more of a novelty than a norm for many people, but reverting back to this traditional way of eating is the best route for health and longevity.

The simple act of eating whole food is a theme common to centenarians (even if their diets aren’t “perfect,” like Crozier’s apparent fondness for whiskey on occasion).

Emma Morano, who, at 116, is the oldest person in the world, similarly shared with news outlets one of her dietary secrets: three eggs (two of them raw) and raw minced meat daily.3

Aside from what to eat, many centenarians also mention the importance of variations of intermittent fasting, i.e., not overeating, eating only once a day or, in Morano’s case, having only a light dinner.

In Okinawa, Japan, which has an unusually high concentration of people who live to 100 and beyond, hara hachi bu, or eating until you’re only 80 percent full, is said to be an important factor in longevity.4

Strong Relationships, Fond Memories and Living in the Moment

Another common thread among the centenarian trio? Strong, positive relationships. Each spoke fondly of their marriages which, though their spouses had passed decades earlier, still offered them fond memories. Each also was able to look back on their life experiences and relationships with appreciation and gratitude.

This, too, is backed up by science, with research showing that the types of social relationships someone enjoys — or doesn’t — can actually put them at risk for premature death. In fact, researchers found a 50 percent increased likelihood for survival for participants with stronger social relationships.5

Harper, in particular, explained that she was able to live happily because she had a lifetime of memories to fall back on. It’s important to remember this — that experiences tend to make us happier than possessions.

The “newness” of possessions wears off, as does the joy they bring you, but experiences improve your sense of vitality and “being alive” both during the experience and when you reflect back on it.

In addition, most centenarians, regardless of their health status, tend to have positive attitudes, optimism and a zest for life. In the video, you’ll notice the trio make mention of living in the moment, living for the day and having no regrets.

These are people who, despite having more than 100 years of “past,” are living very much in the present, not dwelling on what they have lost but appreciating all the living they have done (and have yet to do).

Also noteworthy, none of them has plans to go anytime soon. Each speaks of feeling strong and expects to continue living each day to its fullest. They are active — physically, mentally and socially. This, too, will only help them to stay young and healthy.

Helping Others Will Come Back to You Hundreds-Fold

Harper also spoke of the importance of being kind and helping those around you. This is a life lesson worth learning, as doing good deeds helps others in need while providing a natural mood boost for you.

Volunteering, for instance, can lower your risk of depression and anxiety and even boost your psychological well-being.6,7 Not only does it keep you active and on your feet, but there’s a definite social aspect as well, both of which contribute to happiness and longevity.

Volunteering to help others also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol.
Personality traits can also affect your longevity, which may also be playing a role in the centenarians interviewed.

Having a sense of purpose and staying productive, for instance, have been shown to promote longevity in The Longevity Project, a Stanford study spanning 80 years.8 Conscientiousness, specifically, was identified as a marker for longevity.
The reason for this, the researchers believe, is because conscientious behavior influences other behaviors.

For example, conscientious people tend to make healthier choices, such as avoiding smoking and choosing work they enjoy and life partners they get along with — factors that can have a significant impact on their stress level and general contentment.
Conscientious people also tend to be more productive, even past conventional retirement age, and tend to regard their work as having purpose.

The Longevity Project dismisses the idea that hard work will kill you early. On the contrary, those who stay productive and work hard all their lives actually tend to be happier, healthier and more social compared to those who don’t work as hard. Co-author and psychologist Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D., of the University of California, said in an interview with the American Psychological Association (APA):9

” … [O]ur studies suggest that it is a society with more conscientious and goal-oriented citizens, well-integrated into their communities, that is likely to be important to health and long life. These changes involve slow, step-by-step alterations that unfold across many years. But so does health. For example, connecting with and helping others is more important than obsessing over a rigorous exercise program.”

Being a Lifelong Learner Is Linked to Longevity

It’s interesting that Denerley mentioned if he had one regret it would be not taking his studies seriously enough early on. He recommended getting an education early in life as a crucial point, and this, too, is correlated with a longer life.

People with a bachelor’s degree or higher tend to live about nine years longer than people who don’t graduate from high school, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics report.10 This is likely, in part, because educated people may get better jobs, plan more for their future or lead healthier lifestyles. However, having a natural curiosity about life and a desire to keep learning likely also plays a role in the longevity connection.

There Is No Set Pattern for Why Some People Live to 100 and Beyond

Despite advances in science that have linked everything from eating more vegetables to the age your mother gave birth to you (younger being better) with a longer life, no one can lay out a set plan that will guarantee you’ll live to 100. And the fact remains that centenarians and super centenarians (those who live to 110 and beyond) are a motley crew. According to Israeli physician Nir Barzilai of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York:11

“There is no pattern. The usual recommendations for a healthy life — not smoking, not drinking, plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet, keeping your weight down — they apply to us average people. But not to them. Centenarians are in a class of their own.”

Based on years of data from studying centenarians, Barzilai reported that when analyzing the data from his particular pool of centenarians, at age 70:12

  • 37 percent were overweight
  • 8 percent were obese
  • 37 percent were smokers (for an average of 31 years)
  • 44 percent reported only moderate exercise
  • 20 percent never exercised at all

Despite this, Barzalai is quick to emphasize you should not disregard the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices, explaining:

“Today’s changes in lifestyle do in fact contribute to whether someone dies at the age of 85 or before age 75. But in order to reach the age of 100, you need a special genetic make-up. These people age differently. Slower. They end up dying of the same diseases that we do — but 30 years later and usually quicker, without languishing for long periods.”

‘Keep Right on to the End of the Road’

What words of wisdom do centenarians have to offer to those with less life experience? “Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted,” Crozier said. “Be as independent as you can but don’t be reluctant to ask for help when you think you need it.” Harper has advice of her own, noting, “A good idea is to behave well to other people, show them respect and help them as much as you possibly can, and it will be repaid hundred-folds.”

Denerley, too, has a motto for life, which he credited to Scottish comedian Sir Harry Lauder. It sums up, perhaps best of all, the attitude that’s gotten him so far in life (especially when combined with his infectious smile), “Keep right on to the end of the road.”

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Rare Gene Mutation Allows Some People to Thrive on Minimal Sleep


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

In the U.S., working around the clock is still glorified. According to the documentary “Sleepless in America,” 40 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived. Many get less than five hours of sleep per night.

The cost is rarely considered, even though it includes reduced productivity and an increased risk of serious accidents.

Tired drivers are as dangerous as drunk or drugged ones, and experts believe sleep deprivation may have played a role in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Staten Island ferry crash and the Three-Mile Island nuclear meltdown, just to name a few.

Besides raising your risk of accidents that may harm or kill you or others, research clearly shows that skimping on sleep will decimate your health in a number of different ways.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that lack of sleep is a public health epidemic, noting that insufficient sleep has been linked to a wide variety of health problems.

Genetic Mutation Makes Some People More Efficient Sleepers

Interestingly, there are a few rare individuals who can get by on very little sleep without incurring any noticeable harm. There’s an actual condition called advanced phase sleep syndrome — a genetic mutation that allows you to be fully rested after as little as four to six hours of sleep.1

In the TED Talk above, Ying-Hui Fu, Ph.D.,2 a professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine who studies the genetic basis for humans who have shorter sleep duration discusses some of her findings.

She and her colleagues have identified several genetic mutations that produce “extreme morning lark phenotype,” as well as mutations that allow short sleepers to thrive.

A 2009 study investigating a mother and daughter with this rare gift found a genetic mutation on a specific gene transcription facilitator may be responsible. The gene DEC2 is involved in the regulation of your circadian clock, which is part of the equation.

DEC2 also appears to induce more efficient sleep with more intense REM states, and researchers believe this is the primary reason why people with advanced phase sleep syndrome can thrive on so little sleep and suffer no ill health effects. According to Fu:3

“Clearly people with the DEC2 mutation can do the same cleaning up process in a shorter period of time — they are just more efficient than the rest of us at sleeping.”

Chances Are, You Need More Sleep Than You’re Getting

People with genetic mutations that allow them to be extreme short sleepers are also typically very optimistic and naturally energetic,4 Fu notes. Many work two jobs at a time, not because they must but because they’re highly motivated. And, since their sleep requirement is so low, they can.

However, the chances of you having this genetic mutation are very slim. It’s been estimated that far less than 1 percent of short sleepers (people who claim to function well on less than the normal seven or eight hours of sleep) have the mutation — the remaining 99 percent are actually sleep-deprived.

Another estimate is that 1 in 10,000 may be genetically predisposed to short sleep. For everyone else, you really need right around eight hours of sleep every night for optimal health and wellness.

According to Fu, if you deprive yourself of just two hours of sleep per night for one week, your mental alertness will be the same as if you stayed up for 48 hours straight.

Sleep restriction can also lower your motivation and enjoyment, so skimping on sleep to get ahead professionally or to have more time to do things you like is actually counterproductive.

Habitual Short Sleepers May Be More Tired Than They Realize

In another study,5,6 researchers at the University of Utah used MRI scans to look at the neurological wiring of habitual short sleepers, revealing those who did not report daytime dysfunction had enhanced connectivity between the hippocampus and the sensory cortices.

These areas are involved in memory and sensory input processing respectively. In other words, it appears short sleepers may be able to more effectively perform memory consolidation tasks during the daytime, thereby reducing their brain’s need for sleep.

That said, the researchers also found that many may actually be underestimating their need for sleep. The researchers first compared data from individuals who reported normal sleeping patterns with those who reported sleeping six hours or less.

The short sleepers were then subdivided into two groups: those who reported daytime dysfunction and those who claimed to function optimally.

Both groups had brain connectivity patterns that were more typical of sleep while in the scanner, opposed to patterns suggesting wakefulness, suggesting the short-sleepers were nodding off even though they’d been told to stay awake during the procedure.

On the one hand, this meant they were more likely to be engaged in memory consolidation tasks, which can occur even during quick nod-offs. On the other hand, it may also suggest they’re not quite as rested and functional as they imagine. As reported by R&D Magazine:7

“For short-sleepers who deny dysfunction, one theory is that their wake-up brain systems are constantly in overdrive. Which could mean that when they are trapped in boring fMRI scanners, they have nothing to do to keep them awake and therefore doze off.

‘It looked like the short-sleepers showed brain connectivity changes that look like they were preferentially falling asleep.

This was not only the case for short sleepers who reported being tired during the day, but also for the ones who said they felt fine,’ [Dr. Jeff] Anderson added … [T]hey may be falling asleep during the day under low-stimulation conditions, often without realizing it.”

3 Types of Short Sleepers

On the whole, researchers appear to agree that a vast majority of short sleepers are fooling themselves and really are not wired to get by on four to five hours of sleep. They’re also in agreement that you cannot train yourself to require less sleep.8,9

Likewise, natural short sleepers cannot force themselves to sleep longer, and will report feeling worse for wear if they do. As noted by Ethan Green, founder of No Sleepless Nights, there are three general types of short sleepers:10

  • Those who have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, which prevents them from sleeping as much as they’d like
  • Those who falsely believe they don’t need much sleep and, for work, study or social reasons, chose not to sleep for more than six hours per night
  • True short sleepers, who due to their genetic makeup can thrive and function well on very little sleep

How can you tell if you’re a natural short sleeper? Green offers the following common-sense suggestions:11

  • Take a vacation of at least two weeks; ideally avoiding jet lag
  • If needed, take a couple of days to catch-up on lost sleep
  • Each night, go to bed at your normal time — preferably as soon as you feel tired, and do not set your alarm clock
  • Over the course of several days of going to bed and rising without an alarm clock, you will know how much sleep your body needs

Is It Possible to Become a More Efficient Sleeper?

While researchers such as Fu suggest we may one day be able to figure out a way to enable people to sleep less by tapping into our genetic code, until then, we’re stuck with our natural sleep needs. You can, however take steps to become as efficient a sleeper as possible. The most effective way of optimizing your sleep needs is to set and keep a consistent wakeup time. As reported by BBC News:12

“Neil Stanley, [Ph.D.,] an independent sleep consultant … says that when your body gets used to the time it needs to wake up, it can use the time it has to sleep as efficiently as possible. ‘Studies show that your body prepares to wake up one and a half hours prior to actually waking up. Your body craves regularity, so if you chop and change your sleep pattern, your body hasn’t got a clue when it should prepare to wake up or not’ …

Stanley says that a lot of people with sleep issues actually don’t have any problem sleeping, instead they have an expectation that they need to sleep for a certain amount of time. ‘If we could all figure out what kind of sleeper we are, and live our life accordingly, that would make a huge difference to our quality of life,’ he says.”

Risks Associated With Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation, or a lack of quality sleep, has a significant impact on your brain health and your overall health and wellness, including the following:

? Increased risk of car accidents

? Increased accidents at work

? Reduced ability to perform tasks

? Reduced ability to learn or remember

? Reduced productivity at work

? Reduced creativity at work or in other activities

? Reduced athletic performance

? Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease

? Increased risk of depression

? Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

? Decreased immune function

? Slowed reaction time

? Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception

? Poor grades in school

? Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers

? Exacerbates current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cancer

? Cutting one hour of sleep a night increases the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress13

? Contributes to premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep

Beware of Light Pollution

The challenge of getting quality sleep increases each year as new technological devices are produced that keep you entertained. When you are forced to go without electricity, such as when camping or if the power goes out, you sleep deeper and arise more rested. It’s important to realize that light sources at night interrupt your circadian clock and melatonin levels, both responsible for how deeply you sleep and well-rested you feel the next day.

LEDs and fluorescent lights are particularly troublesome because of the isolated blue light peaks that are not balanced by red and near infrared.14 Incandescent lights emit red and near infrared wavelengths and very little in the blue wavelengths.  

Importantly, LEDs may promote age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness. To learn more about this, please see my interview with Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology, embedded here for your convenience.

According to a study published in Current Biology, increasing the number of hours you’re exposed to artificial lighting may even have an effect on the strength of your muscles and density of your bones.15 Researchers studied rats kept under 24-hour lighting conditions for six months and compared their strength and bone density to a control group exposed to 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of dark. The experimental group experienced weight gain, reduced strength and had higher blood glucose.16

Even Dim Light During Sleep Can Have Adverse Effects

Recent research also reveals even dim light exposure during sleep can affect your cognition the next day. Twenty healthy men slept in complete darkness for two nights in a row. On the third night, they were exposed to a dim light of either 5 or 10 lux while sleeping. (One lux is equal to the brightness of a surface illuminated by one candle, placed 1 meter (3.28 feet) away from the surface. Twilight is just below 11 lux, whereas an object illuminated by the light of the full moon is about one-tenth of a lux.17)

After the second and third nights, the participants performed working memory tests while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The goal was to evaluate the effects of dim light exposure during sleep on functional brain activation during a working memory task the next day.

When sleeping under 10 lux light conditions, there was decreased activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus, an area of your brain involved in response inhibition, attentional control and the detection of relevant cues when performing a task.18

In other words, past a certain point of very dim light, nighttime light exposure can have a direct influence on your brain function, specifically your cognition and working memory. However, animal research suggests even as little as 5 lux may have adverse effects.

In one study, hamsters exposed to 5 lux at night for four weeks altered their neuronal structure, which in turn caused the hamsters to exhibit symptoms of depression. Another animal study also found that nighttime exposure to 5 lux — this time for three weeks in a row — produced both depression-like symptoms and impaired cognition.

How to Compensate If Your Job Demands You Work at Night

I reviewed the ill effects of working night shift in November, and why you need to do everything in your power to avoid working them. But if you absolutely are unable to stop working night shifts, then your best option is to always wear blue blocking glasses during the night and make sure that when you get up, and it is night, that you get some blue light exposure. The best blue light is from the sun as it is balanced. But, obviously, the sun is not up if you are getting up at night.

So, I would suggest using a conventional clear incandescent bulb in combination with a cool white (blue enriched) LED bulb. You need both, not one or the other, as the LED will give you the blue and the incandescent the balancing red and near infrared spectrum. You will only need to use the bluish LED light for 15 to 30 minutes, following the recommendation described below. This will help you to establish your new circadian rhythm.

You might need to play with the number of bulbs you use, as up to 10,000 lux have been shown to be effective for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). My guess is that these doses are far too high if you are not treating SAD but trying to help your body to optimize all the systems necessary for performance during night shift.

Ideally, you should start with incandescent light immediately after getting up, thereby simulating sunrise. After half an hour or so you should add the cold white LED light, mimicking the sun´s ascent toward high noon. Once you feel the photonic energy boost, you can stop the LED use, since an overdose causes more damage than good. Bluish (LED) light generates excessive amounts of free radicals if not adequately balanced by red and near infrared light.

After you finish your blue light exposure it would be wise to limit your further exposure to blue light. This means using only incandescent bulbs at home, and if you go out of your home, avoid any additional exposure to LED or fluorescent bulbs by wearing your blue blocking glasses. While this process is far from ideal, it should mitigate the damage that most who are engaged in night shift work encounter.

Remember your BEST choice is to stop night shift working and get full sunlight exposure in the daytime, and that it will be virtually impossible to imitate the full-spectrum and brightness of natural sunlight, even with a high-quality UV lamp, cool white LED bulbs and bright incandescent lights.

It’s better than nothing, but by working nights, you are depriving yourself of a crucial component for health, namely natural sunlight. The sun’s rays are not only the catalyst that allows your skin to produce vitamin D, sunlight also plays a role in mitochondrial health and is really important for healthy vision.

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Increasing the number of hours you sleep to eight each night and improving your quality of sleep may help to significantly reduce your risks associated with sleep deprivation. Below are several suggestions that may help.19,20 For a more comprehensive list of strategies, see my previous article, “Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.”

? Turn your bedroom into an oasis for sleep

Your bed is a place to sleep and rest comfortably. Only two other activities will not significantly impede a restful sleep: reading and intimate relations with your significant other. Anything else, such as work, computers, cells phones or watching television will reduce the quality of your sleep.

Reduce any noisy interruptions from pets or outdoor activities. You might consider removing your pet from the bedroom or using a white noise machine to reduce interruptions from outdoor noises.

? Establish a soothing pre-bedtime routine

Humans are creatures of habit. When you establish a soothing bedtime routine you go through each evening before bed, you’re more likely to fall asleep easily. Activities such as a warm bath, reading a good book or relaxation exercises may help you fall asleep easier.

If you have trouble falling to sleep one night, it’s better to leave the bedroom and read quietly than to try even harder to fall asleep. I would strongly recommend using blue-blocking glasses if you do this, to prevent your reading light from further depressing your melatonin production.

? Keep a consistent schedule

When you go to bed and wake up at the same times, your body becomes accustomed to the routine. This helps regulate your circadian clock so you fall asleep and stay asleep all night. Keep this routine even on the weekends.

? Get plenty of bright sunlight exposure in the morning and at noon

Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning stops production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and signals to your body that it’s time to wake up. Outdoor sunlight is best, so you might even want to take a quick walk outside.

Not only will this increase in physical activity help you sleep later, but taking your walk outdoors — either first thing in the morning or around noon when the sun high — gives you more exposure to bright sunlight.

Light intensity is measured in lux units, and on any given day, the outdoor lux units will be around 100,000 at noon. Indoors, the typical average is somewhere between 100 to 2,000 lux units, about two orders of magnitude less.

I take a one-hour walk every day in the bright sunlight on the beach, so along with boosting my vitamin D, I also anchor my circadian rhythm at the same time and I rarely ever have trouble sleeping.

? At sundown, dim your lights (and/or use amber-colored glasses)

In the evening (around 8 p.m.) you’ll want to dim your lights and turn off electronic devices. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., and these devices emit light that may stifle that process. After sundown, shift to a low-wattage incandescent bulb with yellow, orange or red light if you need illumination.

A salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production. If using a computer or smartphone, install blue light-blocking software like Iris — an improved version of f.lux.

The easiest solution, however, is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light. I found an Uvex model (S1933X) on Amazon that costs less than $10 and works like a charm to eliminate virtually all blue light.

This way you don’t have to worry about installing programs on all your devices or buying special light bulbs for evening use. Once you have your glasses on, it doesn’t matter what light sources you have on in your house.

? Check your bedroom for electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.

? Exercise daily

Your body thrives on exercise and movement. It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Exercise will help you get to sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. However, your body also releases cortisol during exercise, which may reduce your melatonin secretion. Exercise at least three hours before bed, and earlier if you can.

? Keep your room cool

The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 degrees F. If your room is cooler or warmer, you may have a more restless night’s sleep.21 During sleep your body’s core temperature drops to the lowest level during a 24-hour period. The cooler your room is, the more conducive it may be to your body’s natural drop in temperature.

? Evaluate your mattress and pillow

You’ll experience more restful sleep when your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. You’ll want to consider replacing your mattress after nine or 10 years, the average life expectancy of a good-quality mattress.

? Downshift your mental gymnastics before bed

Put all your work away at least one, and preferably two, hours before bed. You need a chance to unwind before falling asleep without being anxious about the next day’s plans or deadlines.


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How Pharma Just Stole Your Tax Dollars


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

In December 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

After easily passing through the House of Representatives during the summer of 2015, the bill (H.R. 34) stalled in the Senate until the end of November, 2016, when it was put on a fast track and pushed through the Senate with a 94-5 vote.

The nearly 1,000-page Act touts some impressive-sounding rhetoric, like a $1.8-billion investment in cancer research and another $1 billion pledged to fight the abuse of opioids, heroin and other addictive drugs.

Over the next decade, the 21st Century Cures Act pledges $6.3 billion in spending and will “streamline” drug and medical device approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).1

Unfortunately, drug, vaccine and medical device manufacturers and lobbyists are the big beneficiaries of the Act, as the International Business Times (IBT) reported:2

“Originally conceived as a bill to boost research, the law has been revised and tweaked countless times to build bipartisan support.

At the same time, pro-industry groups have used the bill as a vehicle to achieve their long standing legislative agenda: to reduce the regulatory burden of bringing products to market.”

The 21st Century Cures Act Relaxes FDA Standards

Dr. Michael Carome, director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen’s health research group, told International Business Times that “all sorts of goodies” were added to the Act, courtesy of medical device and pharmaceutical companies.3

In a nutshell, the Act makes it easier for these industries to bring their products to market by loosening testing requirements.

The relaxed FDA standards will no longer require drug companies to conduct large, randomized, controlled human clinical trials, considered to be the gold standard for proving pharmaceutical product safety, including approval to sell a drug to treat more than one condition.

Instead, observational data could be regarded as sufficient to “prove” safety and approve the drug for multiple uses.

Also concerning, the Act grants “breakthrough” medical devices expedited regulatory approval and, in some cases, allows industry to submit only summaries of data to the FDA when seeking approval. Drug companies will also be allowed to team up with insurance companies to promote off-label uses for their drugs.4

Experimental Drugs and Vaccines Fast-Tracked to the Market at the Expense of Public Health

While the Act is disguised as a consumer-friendly piece of legislation, it will make it easier for experimental vaccines to be fast-tracked to licensure by the FDA.

Almost all new vaccines licensed by the FDA and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for use by children are subsequently added to state vaccine mandates for children to attend school.

Some are also added to mandates for adults to work in the health care and daycare professions.

The Act also weakens informed consent protections for people taking part in experimental vaccine clinical trials, as well as allows the use of surrogate endpoints to evaluate vaccine effectiveness.

For instance, many cancer drug studies use surrogate endpoints, which means the study may not reveal whether the drug improves survival or quality of life, but instead may evaluate a different outcome, such as tumor shrinkage.

The problem is that it’s often unknown whether the surrogate endpoint, such as tumor shrinkage, leads to better health outcomes. The end result is that FDA-approved drugs and vaccines may appear to be more effective and beneficial than they really are.

Further, the Act will enable the FDA to accept “novel statistical analyses and clinical experience related to a new vaccine’s reactivity, instead of requiring drug companies to conduct large randomized clinical trials to demonstrate safety,” the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) reported.5

“It [also] prevents vaccine manufacturers from being sued in civil court if an FDA licensed vaccine given to a pregnant woman causes the injury or death of her unborn child in the womb,” NVIC noted.6

Presidential Veto Urged to Protect Public Health

NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher referred to the 21st Century Cures Act as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” and NVIC called for a presidential veto of the legislation passed by Congress in order to protect public health.

“Instead of building a firewall between industry and government to protect the public health and safety, Congress has allowed the pharmaceutical industry to further co-opt the federal vaccine licensing and policymaking process,” she said, continuing:7

“There is a difference between prescription drugs and medical devices designed to help sick people get well, which are subject to product liability in civil court, and vaccines given to healthy people that are not.

Congress has handed the liability-free vaccine industry another free pass to make unlimited profits by exploiting Americans legally required to purchase and use inadequately tested vaccines.”

Fisher is far from the bill’s only critic. Harvard historian Daniel Carpenter warned that the relaxed FDA standards found in what he dubbed the “19th Century Fraud Act” could take us back more than a century.

Dr. Reshma Ramachandran,co-chair of the National Physicians Alliance, IBT reported, also harshly criticized the bill, stating it could seriously distort the meaning of “FDA-approved.”8

Senators Openly Opposed to the Legislation

While the Act easily passed through the Senate, not all members were fans. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was among those who called the Act “a bad bill,” with others reporting that lobbyists were so pleased with the heavily padded bill that they referred to it as a “grab bag” and a “Christmas tree.”9 Sanders openly criticized the bill and its drug company “handouts:”10

“At a time when Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, this bill provides absolutely no relief for soaring drug prices … The greed of the pharmaceutical industry has no limit, and this bill includes numerous corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer …

It’s time for Congress to stand up to the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, not give them more handouts.”

Among Sanders’ objections was a provision in the Act that would allow antibiotics to be approved even if they’d only been tested in small clinical trials on a limited number of patients.

The drugs could have risks that are not detected during the small studies, and approval could lead to their inappropriate use in a large number of people.11

Considering the fact we’re facing a proverbial avalanche of antibiotic-resistant disease, issuing ineffective antibiotics is foolhardy in the extreme. It may simply add fuel to the fire of drug resistance, while simultaneously failing to help patients.

Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also criticized the bill and its “giveaways to the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries.”12

“Does the Senate work for Big Pharma that hires the lobbyists and makes the campaign contributions, or does the Senate work for American people who actually sent us here?” Warren asked.13

A Slick PR Campaign

The 21st Century Cures Act was written largely by the pharmaceutical and health care industries, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by InsideHealthPolicy. Its name makes the promise of cures for currently incurable diseases plaguing the nation.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee even went so far as to use cases of dying children and their families to promote the bill, “suggesting that a new law is somehow going to inspire researchers to suddenly cure their diseases,” Motherboard reported.14

Sadly, with the bill’s passing, drug companies and device makers will enjoy increased profits from putting their products on the market with less oversight. Patients will inevitably be harmed when some of these products turn out to do more harm than good, and the children whose lives were promised to be saved will continue their fight to stay alive.

Instead of furthering the ability to prevent and cure diseases, the 21st Century Cures Act threatens to undermine public safety. The legislation actually contradicts other recent laws calling for more stringent research into drug effects based on age and sex differences, for instance.

Three years ago, a law was passed directing the FDA to make sure all age groups and both sexes are included in testing to ascertain safety and efficacy. Just last year, the General Accountability Office also concluded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) needs to make analysis of sex differences a priority.15

Meanwhile, the PR campaign and intense lobbying efforts used to get this bill passed played unfairly on people’s heartstrings, using sick children as mere pawns to further their corporate greed.

If you have a debilitating and lethal disease, you may be willing to take risks you’d never take under normal circumstances. This bill will make medicine increasingly risky for everyone, including in the case of fast-tracked vaccines (and there are literally hundreds of experimental vaccines in the pipeline) that could become state-mandated for use in healthy children and adults.

“The 21st Century Cures Act is being sold as a way for the FDA to quickly license experimental pharmaceutical products for people suffering with rare or life threatening diseases, whether or not those products have been adequately tested.

However, greasing the FDA’s licensure skids to make experimental drugs available for the sick and dying who voluntarily choose to use them is one thing, while greasing the skids to bum rush experimental vaccines to licensure that government will legally require healthy children and adults to buy and use is quite another,” Fisher said.

How Many New Drugs and Devices Will Come to Market in 2017?

As regulators continue to grant the FDA “regulatory flexibility” to usher more drugs and vaccines to market, public trust in the Agency is at a historic low. One study in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that 37 percent of respondents in an online poll agreed the FDA is “intentionally suppressing natural cures for cancer because of drug company pressure.”16

Some have even suggested the 21st Century Cures Act is the beginning of the end for the FDA and that the agency will eventually be eliminated altogether.17 There is perhaps no better evidence of where the FDA’s loyalty lies than in the sheer number of new drug approvals granted in 2015 — 45 in all, which is the most new drug approvals granted in one year since 1996.18

About 60 percent of the new drug approvals were granted some type of expedited review process, allowing them to come to market faster. With the 21st Century Cures Act in place, only time will tell how many new drug approvals will be granted in 2017 and how public health will be altered as a result.

As it stands, Carome told IBT, the final version of the bill is “a bad deal for patients,” making it easier for drugs, vaccines and medical devices to get approved without demonstrating consumer safety,19 and that just isn’t right.


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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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