Nearly 30 years ago I decided to join the Nurses’ Health Study and complete a 30 minute questionnaire about my habits and life style every two years. In the beginning, I colored in the little circles in black pencil on a computerized answer sheet and mailed it back to them, but now I do it online. They have kept up with me through my many moves so I haven’t been lost in the shuffle. I am in the second cohort of thousands of nurses called NHS2. They now have a third group of younger nurses born on or after January 1, 1965. If you are a RN, LPN, or nursing student born then and would like to participate, please do your part to continue this wonderful ground breaking research and sign up at www.nhs3.org . They are especially recruiting male nurses. They have also recruited and followed the children of NHS2 nurses to see the maternal influence on their children as they age. They like to recruit nurses because we are reliable and honest in reporting our life style. All our years of charting about our patients is definitely a benefit to this research!
Physical Activity and Heart Disease in Women
Middle-aged and older women who are more physically active have significantly lower rates of coronary heart disease (CHD). Women who walked briskly for at least 2.5 hours per week saw a 35% lower risk of developing CHD.
NSAIDS and acetaminophen may increase risk of hearing loss in women
Two-thirds of women in their sixties suffer from hearing loss. Among 55,850 women in a subgroup, using NSAID (Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve are common over the counter names) for over 6 years was associated with a 10% increased risk of hearing loss. Use of acetaminophen (Tylenol is common brand name) for over 6 years showed a 9% increased risk of hearing loss. There was a 7% higher risk of hearing loss in women who used either of these more than two days per week. However, duration of use of aspirin was not associated with hearing loss. They are doing more research in this area.
Diet Quality and Physical Functioning
It is important to maintain physical function as we age. They compared those with the healthiest diets with less healthy diets and found the group with better diets were 13% less likely to develop physical impairment. Higher intake of fruits and vegetables, and lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fats, and sodium were associated significantly with less physical impairment as they aged. The strongest positive relations were found with increased intake of oranges, orange juice, apples, pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts.
Gluten Free (GF) Diets
GF diets have increased in popularity due to concerns about celiac disease and gluten allergies. However, little research has been done to explore how GF diets impact people without celiac disease. NHS found that eating foods high in gluten from whole grains can be beneficial to health. Men and women with the highest levels of gluten intake had 20% lower risk of developing diabetes, and 15% less risk of developing coronary heart disease. Gluten intake did not lead to weight gain in people under age 65.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
They examined which specific foods and eating patterns led to less weight gain and more weight gain as we age.
These foods were associated with less weight gain: tofu, soy, plain or artificially sweetened yogurt, seafood, fruit (especially blueberries, prunes, apples, pears strawberries, grapefruit, and avocados). Chicken without skin, replacing 1 serving daily of sugar sweetened beverage with coffee or water, vegetables (especially cauliflower, summer squash, string beans, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables), replacing 1 serving daily of fruit juice with coffee or water, eating nuts (especially peanut butter, peanuts, and walnuts).
These foods were associated with more weight gain: corn, processed meats, peas, chicken with skin, sugar-sweetened beverages, baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes, fruit juice, regular full-fat cheese.
The American Journal of Public Health published a special edition in September 2016 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Nurse’s Health Study which is still available.
I hope you will incorporate these findings into your own life style and instruct your patients so everyone can be healthier!
But even more important than physical health is spiritual health. I thank Jesus Christ that He has satisfied the deepest hunger of my heart. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger, and he that believes on Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35