The U.S. Environmental Working Group’s 2020 Lists of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Fruits and Veggies

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Stuffed Tofu Pot

Ingredients

2 pieces firm tofu
200 g minced pork
1/2 piece salted fish
100 g soy bean
2 stalks Chinese leek
3 stalks spring onions
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
white pepper

Method

  1. Soak soy beans in cold water for 3 hours, drain.
  2. Heat up 1 cup of oil, deep fry soy beans until crispy.
  3. Use only white section of spring onions chopped.
  4. Cut Chinese leeks into 6 cm sections, flatten the stem part.
  5. Steam salted fish for 3 minutes, remove skin and bones, mash and mix into minced pork together with chopped spring onion stems, and stir in one direction until gluey.
  6. Cut the 2 pieces of tofu into 8 rectangular pieces, hollow out part of each of the tofu pieces and stuff with minced pork.
  7. Pan fry tofu, stuffed meat side down, until golden brown.
  8. Heat up a clay pot, put in chicken broth, Chinese leek, salt and white pepper, bring to a boil and place stuffed tofu pieces on top. Cover and braise for 15 minutes, finally put in soy beans and re-boil.

Source: Hakka Cuisine

Hedonism Leads to Happiness

Relaxing on the sofa or savoring a delicious meal: Enjoying short-term pleasurable activities that don’t lead to long-term goals contributes at least as much to a happy life as self-control, according to new research from the University of Zurich and Radboud University in the Netherlands. The researchers therefore argue for a greater appreciation of hedonism in psychology.

The capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment without getting distracted by intrusive thoughts contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control. (Image: istock.com/Beli_photos)

We all set ourselves long-term goals from time to time, such as finally getting into shape, eating less sugar or learning a foreign language. Research has devoted much time to finding out how we can reach these goals more effectively. The prevailing view is that self-control helps us prioritize long-term goals over momentary pleasure and that if you are good at self-control, this will usually result in a happier and more successful life.

“It’s time for a rethink,” says Katharina Bernecker, researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.” That’s because Bernecker’s new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

Distraction disrupts pleasure

Bernecker and her colleague Daniela Becker of Radboud University developed a questionnaire to measure respondents’ capacity for hedonism, i.e. their ability to focus on their immediate needs and indulge in and enjoy short-term pleasures. They used the questionnaire to find out whether people differ in their capacity to pursue hedonic goals in a variety of contexts, and whether this ability is related to well-being.

They found that certain people get distracted by intrusive thoughts in moments of relaxation or enjoyment by thinking about activities or tasks that they should be doing instead. “For example, when lying on the couch you might keep thinking of the sport you are not doing,” says Becker. “Those thoughts about conflicting long-term goals undermine the immediate need to relax.” On the other hand, people who can fully enjoy themselves in those situations tend to have a higher sense of well-being in general, not only in the short term, and are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, among other things.

More isn’t always better

“The pursuit of hedonic and long-term goals needn’t be in conflict with one another,” says Bernecker. “Our research shows that both are important and can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life.”

Unfortunately, simply sitting about more on the sofa, eating more good food and going to the pub with friends more often won’t automatically make for more happiness. “It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option,” says Bernecker. “But really enjoying one’s hedonic choice isn’t actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts.”

Conscious planning of downtime

This is currently a topical issue with more people working from home, as the environment where they normally rest is suddenly associated with work. “Thinking of the work you still need to do can lead to more distracting thoughts at home, making you less able to rest,” says Bernecker.

So what can you do to enjoy your downtime more? More research is needed, but the researchers suspect that consciously planning and setting limits to periods of enjoyment could help to separate them more clearly from other activities, allowing pleasure to take place more undisturbed.

Source: University of Zurich

Will Your Brain Stay Sharp into Your 90s? Certain Factors are Key

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Some people in their 90s stay sharp whether their brain harbors amyloid protein plaques — a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — or not, but why?

That’s the question researchers sought answers for among 100 people without dementia, average age 92, who were followed for up to 14 years. Their answer? A combination of genetic luck and a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle.

“The vast majority of research studies on aging and Alzheimer’s disease try to understand what factors predict disease and memory impairment. We turned these questions upside-down, asking ‘What seems to protect us from disease and impairment in our 90s?'” said lead researcher Beth Snitz, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Understanding this kind of resilience may well help identify ways to prevent dementia,” Snitz added.

The study reinforces some things scientists already knew, such as the importance of good cardiovascular health and building up a “cognitive [mental] reserve. These likely can help buffer against the effects of brain disease or injury later in life,” she said.

Her team also found that people whose scores were normal on thinking and memory tests when the study began were less likely to have problems with their thinking skills, even if they had amyloid protein plaques in their brains (which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease).

The researchers also found that those with the APOE2 gene mutation, which has been tied to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, were less likely to develop amyloid plaques than people who did not have this gene variant.

In fact, the APOE2 mutation was linked with a six times lower risk of developing plaques, the findings showed.

This mutation, however, is rare, occurring in only 10% of the people in the study. Among those with the mutation, 70% didn’t develop plaques, the study authors noted.

Some lifestyle factors also affected brain aging. For example, those who never smoked were over 10 times more likely to keep their thinking skills, even with plaques, than smokers.

Also, high pulse pressure was linked with an increase in plaques. Pulse pressure is the systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) minus the diastolic pressure (bottom number). Pulse pressure gets higher with age and is a sign of aging of the blood vessels.

The benefits of APOE2 alleles are well known, as is the link between smoking and poor cardiovascular health, said Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Also, the link between poor cardiovascular health and dementia is well-known.

“The pulse pressure story here has emerged lately, as has the apparent risk of overaggressive lowering of the blood pressure in chronic hypertensives [those with chronic high blood pressure], and an apparent association between dementia risk and erratic blood pressure,” he said.

Other studies have found a benefit from exercise in preventing dementia, but this study didn’t look at exercise, Snitz said. They also didn’t look at the effect of maintaining an active social life or mental activities, such as reading, on preventing dementia, she said.

The investigators did find, however, that having a paying job in your 70s was protective against later memory decline.

“Other studies have shown that continuing to work — or perhaps to keep one’s mind engaged — past conventional retirement age may be cognitively protective,” Snitz said.

“We also found that ‘life satisfaction’ in the 70s was protective against later cognitive decline in the 80s and 90s,” she added.

The report was published online in the journal Neurology.

Maria Corrada, a professor of epidemiology at the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at the University of California, Irvine, said, “Some of the characteristics found to be related to resistance and resilience to Alzheimer’s pathology can be changed or modified — pulse pressure, smoking, paid work and life satisfaction.”

Achieving these goals may be a way to be resistant or resilient to brain abnormalities associated with Alzheimer’s disease, said Corrada, who co-authored an accompanying journal editorial.

“We believe that there are things we can do with our lifestyle that can help us maintain good cognitive health,” she said.

Source: HealthDay

Enjoy Your Nap, But be Aware of the Pros and Cons

You could read this story now. Or you could take a nap first, and perhaps tackle it feeling more alert and refreshed.

Health-wise, is that a good idea?

Under the right conditions, for the right reasons, probably – if you’re awake to the possible pitfalls.

“A power nap, between 15 and 45 minutes, can improve memory and reduce fatigue for the rest of the day,” said Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “If you’re otherwise well rested, that kind of nap can actually boost performance pretty well.”

Some studies even compare the benefits of a midday nap to a cup of coffee, while some companies – including Google and NASA – let workers pencil naptime into their daily schedule.

But the long-term effects of naps are less conclusive.

For example, a 2019 study in the British medical journal Heart tracked the napping habits of nearly 3,500 people over five years and found those who napped once or twice a week were 48% less likely to have a cardiovascular event than those who didn’t. Conversely, a meta-analysis of 11 studies published in the journal Sleep in 2015 showed people who nap for an hour or more a day had 1.82 times the rate of cardiovascular disease than people who didn’t nap.

“We do not know enough about the association of naps with either optimal health or disease risk, especially cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Clete Kushida, a neurologist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Stanford University Medical Center in California. “More research needs to be conducted.”

The more urgent health question, both experts say, is why you’re taking that nap.

“If you’re napping because it helps you get through the day, that’s probably a good thing,” Grandner said. “But if you’re napping because you just can’t stay awake, that’s a sign that there’s some underlying health issue. You’re either not getting enough sleep at night or your sleep quality could be very poor.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep – at least seven hours per night is the standard recommendation – and warns that the risks include heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. Even the weary who appear to have slept long enough may have sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder where breathing is frequently interrupted.

“If an individual has significant daytime sleepiness leading to inadvertent or spontaneous naps, it usually indicates sleep quantity or sleep quality issues,” Kushida said. If the sleep time seems adequate, he urges an evaluation “for sleep disorders and/or medical diseases.”

The ideal nap, Kushida and Grandner agree, shouldn’t last too long.

“You don’t want to get into a deep stage of sleep,” Grandner said. “If you’ve ever woken up from a nap that was too long, you know it because you feel miserable and groggy.”

Napping too long during the day, Kushida added, can disrupt overall sleep patterns. “It’s generally recommended to maximize sleep at night,” he said.

Grandner said the exception might be if someone occasionally doesn’t sleep enough at night and needs to recoup during the day.

“I call that the sleep replacement nap,” he said. “College students do it a lot. They stay up at night, but then they nap a few hours during the day. That’s not an ideal solution, but it’s not terrible, either.”

Lying down for a nap or laying your head on the desk might be a good time to reflect on the importance of sleep.

“We live in a culture that doesn’t necessarily value sleep,” Grandner said. “We need to stop talking about it as unproductive time, and to stop admiring people who brag about how little sleep they think they need.

“The scientific evidence is there,” he said. “Sleep is a foundational part of our biology, like diet and physical activity. We need to take care of it.”

Source: American Heart Association


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