Two Regulations You Should Keepe Even If The US Government Doesn’t: Your Brain Needs Them To Be AgeProof
This month I want to bring up two regulations that may be dropped by the US Gvt but that you can keep to help your heart and brain be AgeProof: These were stimulated by two questions asked by readers:
Q1: Nine months ago I moved from a country home to the center of University circle (I look out on an actively travelled road) so I could enjoy walking to cultural events, restaurants etc., and love it. But I find myself sleeping less well. I’m very hard of hearing and take my hearing aids off at night, so I do not think it is the noise. I initially slept very well, and seem to be having more problems even though I am more familiar with my new digs and new friends. I really don’t hear much noise—I even sleep with the window open—but I feel my sleep is not as good as it used to be. Is it just the noise? What gives? Betty, Near University Circle
A1: New data: it could be air pollution. Of course, it could be a lot of other things, like stress or noise your brain hears you of which you are not conscious. But it could be you should close windows on the side nearest streets, get your air filters cleaned, and use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your new apartment. (Generally indoor air is more polluted with some chemicals that outdoor air, but particulates and nitrogen dioxide are particularly hazardous and are more common in traffic polluted air). We know that small particulates (largely from cars and older power plants, etc) cause inflammation in the typical person, making the RealAge of those who live in Cleveland about 2 years older than those who live in the least air polluted parts of the US (on average we die about 1 year earlier and have about 3 years more of particulate related disabilities).
Now we’ve just learned these small particles and nitrogen dioxide air pollutants, appear to be the cause of disturbed sleep. We do not know whether that disturbed sleep is triggered by inflammation caused by air pollution or other triggers. But the data just published (one study—I generally don’t recommend an action step for you to take unless there are four solid (IMHO) studies in humans –but there are plenty of non-sleep data such as on heart attack, stroke, and brain dysfunction prevention from better air quality to recommend the action step below) indicate that those in the highest polluted streets in the USA sleep with 6% less efficiency than those with the best quartile of air quality. That’s about 30 minutes less sleep per eight hours in the bed.
So this is one regulation you should keep, no matter what our EPA does. For your sleep, as well as to reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and brain rot including risk of falls from brain imbalance, live with the cleanest air you can.
The United States in general, and the Cleveland area in particular, has improved air quality since 1970 (when the EPA was formed—its birth was due to President Nixon’s authority and signature on Dec 2nd, 1970—as he convinced Congress to further President Lyndon Johnson’s Clean Air Act of 1967). Their legacy: from1970 to 2015, aggregate national emissions of the six common pollutants alone dropped an average of 70 percent while gross domestic product grew by 246 percent. This progress reflects efforts by many including the EPA; private sector companies; environmental groups and others.
So no matter what the US government or EPA puts in place or takes away from regulations etc, The Roizen RealAge Get Yourself Younger Make Yourself AgeProof Action Step is to make your environment more particulate free by closing windows closest to the street (I’d prefer you live 2 blocks from streets well-travelled by trucks and even autos) and using a HEPA filter or two in your new digs. This is one regulation, cleaning up the air, we –the USA-needs. Keep the progress going (at least in your environment), and you may find yourself sleeping better.
Q2: When New York banned trans fats in restaurants in 2013 did it do any good? And if it didn’t, why are we continuing to force this additional burden on food companies? Isn’t this what Trump is trying to do by getting rid of stupid regulations? David D., NY, NY
A2: Yes it did do some good, so we hope this regulation stays in place, for your brain functioning state too. And since food companies apparently only care if you’ll buy something, not about your health, you have to be active to protect you. Now let’s get to the data: As the ban rolled out in NY over a three-year-period, counties that went with the new rule had a 6.2 percent decrease in hospital admissions for myocardial infarction and stroke compared to counties that hadn’t yet adopted the restriction. That would mean about a 150 billion dollar savings in just hospital costs, not to mention increase vigor and ability to still work, just from this one action. For the Federal government, book over 60 billion in savings by this choice that should cost you no more, as trans fat removal doesn’t add cost to food preparation. That’s 60 billion a year. Trump’s budget is only trying to reduce health costs by cutting programs for kids and the disabled by 80 billion a year, so this regulation should be kept as it will get us 75% of the savings without having to keep one kid from getting his vaccinations (50% would be kept from preventive vaccinations 5 to 8 years from now if the budget is passed as proposed say experts).
Trans fats got into the food supply to increase shelf life. As more and more food was mass produced during the 1950’s, scientists found a way to extend the shelf life of packaged edibles by infusing hydrogen into vegetable oils, transforming them into a more solid state and extending the shelf life of prepared foods and baked goods (and shortening yours—maybe that’s why they call it shortening). It’s why Twinkies have a decades-long half life!
But like using HEPA filters, people like you David are making healthier choices in foods. Since 2013 when the FDA decided trans-fats were not generally regarded as safe (GRAS), doctors and healthy food advocates have been getting out the word that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (that’s what trans fats are) are unhealthy. Americans now consume 80 percent fewer trans fats than they did a decade ago! And in 2018 we’re set for a nationwide ban.
The Harvard’s T.C. Chan School of Public Health estimates eliminating trans fats from the U.S. food supply entirely could prevent up to a quarter of a million heart attacks and related deaths annually in the U.S. Think again of the savings in human suffering, even if you are wealthy enough to afford the increased insurance costs and taxes!
So get trans fats off your plate now. How? Read labels. Don’t eat or buy foods with “partially hydrogenated ” anything on the ingredients list. And understand that the labeling law allows products to claim“0 grams of trans fats” if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Eating several portions of foods containing some trans fat may boost your total intake to a level high enough to affect your brain. Your best bet: Stay clear of prepared and packaged baked goods and foods. You’ll be living with more energy, a younger RealAge, and helping keep taxes lower too.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to AgeProoflife@gmail.com
Dr Mike Roizen
PS: please continue to order the new book by Jean Chatzky and myself, AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip.