Health Tips: Sleep deep, live long


In “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep,” The Cure sang: “If only tonight we could sleep/In a bed made of flowers ... And breathe/And breathe.” That lament could serve as the theme song for folks with chronically disturbed sleep -- all 22 million Americans with sleep apnea (80% undiagnosed) and the countless others who sleep poorly because of nighttime noises and stress.

All that starting ‘n snoring takes a toll. Research shows unconscious wakefulness that’s caused by nighttime traffic noise is strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke -- and high blood pressure, even in children. Sleep apnea (frequent interruption in breathing and resulting sleep disturbance) contributes to everything from fatty liver and insulin resistance to depression, weight gain and cognition problems.

Now, for the first time, analysis of various studies shows a link between the frequency and duration of such sleep disturbances and an increased risk of dying from heart disease -- especially for women. The studies tracked people for six to 11 years, and researchers found that women with the most disturbed sleep doubled their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Men weren’t as affected.

Excess weight and untreated sleep apnea, major causes of disturbed sleep, can be managed or reversed; work with your doctor, a nutritionist and an exercise coach. Quiet nighttime noises by sealing windows and using heavy drapes, white noise machines and earplugs. And check out, where you’ll find products curated for their ability to help you sleep well -- and you can even evaluate products so all of us know what really works.

The magic of non-magic mushrooms

From their revered position as a part of Mazatec Indian rituals to a shaman-visiting treat for adventurous musicians (John Lennon) and writers (Jack Kerouac), the hallucinogenic ingredient in Magic Mushrooms -- psilocybin -- has long been touted as an elixir of enlightenment. The U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that around 8.5% of folks have used psilocybin at some point in their life. And recently, it’s being advocated as a remedy for depression in people with life-threatening cancer and a substitute for SSRI antidepressants for anyone using such medications.

But if you want some mushroom magic without all the hoopla, you’re in luck. Ordinary button, cremini, portabella and shitake ‘shrooms can take you on a journey toward good health. A review and meta-analysis of 17 cancer studies published in Advances in Nutrition reveals that folks who eat two-thirds of an ounce of mushrooms daily have a 45% lower risk of cancer compared with those who didn’t eat any mushrooms at all.

The researchers think the benefit comes from a cell-protecting phytochemical called ergothioneine. Shiitake, oyster, maitake and king oyster mushrooms have the highest levels of it, but all varieties of mushrooms offer protection.

So slice ‘em, dice ‘em, stir-fry and stew ‘em. Many foods demand a precise cooking time for max flavor or texture but not mushrooms. Their cell walls are made of heat-stable chitin, and whether you eat them raw or saute or roast them, they stay tender and tasty -- and full of cancer fighting properties.


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