Tuesday, August 10, 2021




“In people over the age of 100, an enrichment

in a distinct set of gut microbes generate

unique bile acids.”

Professor Kenya Honda


New research on the gut microbiome of old folks in Japan was reported in the latest issue of Nature Research. The scientists analyzed the gut bacteria of more than 300 adults in Japan, including 160 over 100 years-old, 112 between 85 and 89, and 47 under 55 years-old. Principal investigator Honda and colleagues found that bacterial isolates in fecal samples from centenarians were often enriched with microbes capable of synthesizing potent bile acids that were not present in the younger groups. Odoribacteraceae strains in particular came out as star producers of isoallo-lithocholic acid (LCA). LCA is a potent antimicrobial against gram-positive, multidrug-resistant strains such as Clostridioides difficile and Enterococcus faecium.

The conclusion of this study, per Prof. Honda: “There are centenarian-specific members of the gut microbiota which, rather than representing a mere consequence of aging, might actively contribute to resistance against pathogenic infection and other environmental stressors.” 

There are a host of responses to this study.  Many readers had their own theories of aging well.  One young lady declared that skinny was the perfect answer, and her daily intake, delivered in anorectic detail, made me cringe.  Another woman, struggling with C. diff unresponsive to various medications, took matters into her own hands.  She announced to her daughter that she needed a stool sample from her. The daughter, first appalled, then complied. The sample was inserted into one end or another (we got no info over which), and mom felt increasingly normal in a gut sort of way within four days!

I’d like to get ahold of a distinct set of those Odori-bugs, but alas, no search on Amazon or Google offered hope for bottles of such supplements just yet.  


Sunday, July 4, 2021


Is it advancing age or the lack of everyday conversations with multiple people?  What, I ask myself almost daily, is wrong with my word-finding ability?  I have encouraged me (in that 2nd person sort of judgmental voice) to think a moment before I just point to the object or replace the unfound word with ‘thing’ or ‘stuff’.  Pausing then brings on other speech disfluencies wherein the use of filler words like ‘uh’ or ‘um’, or whole word repetitions such as ‘we need…we need’, or interjections like ‘like’ disrupt not only one’s flow of speech but also one’s thinking process.   

Psychologists call such lapses tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states and emphasize that these TOTs do not necessarily indicate impending dementia. That’s good news, but what does it indicate?  Chances are good that those of us who are seniors haven’t lost the concept of that which we cannot name.  The authors of a book on aging and language (1) call these aggravating TOT states ‘a glass half empty or a glass half full.’  These failed retrievals could be weakened neural connections in a tired old brain, or they might indicate such a plethora of stored words from all those years of speaking and reading that it becomes difficult to find the right word in short order. 

A search on PubMed suggests multiple hypotheses about why seniors have more TOTs than juniors.  I choose to go with the word-laden brain hypothesis, allowing us elders to deliver astounding explanations of meaning even if the word in question remains elusive. 

But here’s an inscrutable cognitive glitch—yesterday I made one entry in my journal, ‘GNL 18,19’.  I have absolutely no idea what that means.




Nootropes refer to drugs, supplements, herbs, etc. that are believed to improve cognitive functions.  Sometimes a lost word is not just a word-finding problem (as mentioned in a previous newsletter) but an actual aging-related loss of normal brain functioning.


I personally take four of them daily:  bacopa monnieri, caffeine (in coffee form), choline, and creatine.  The problem, as always with supplements, is there’s no way to know whether or not they actually made a difference.  Perhaps healthy living and no nootropes at all would have sufficed.  There are many lists available on the internet touting the benefits of various brain boosters.  Here’s a list that explains 14 possible nootrope choices(1).


I recommended bacopa monnieri to a good friend.  Here’s her text:

I started bacopa today.

The pills are creepy and black but I feel good!

Except I couldn’t remember the word bacopa so I guess it’s not helping that much.


1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Padded support for the newel post

The landscaper team trooped through my front door, heading for the kitchen to discuss final plans for my ailing front yard.  Straight ahead of the gang, oh lord, there was my bra hanging with perfect visibility from on the newel post of the stairway railing, beige material on black wrought iron.  Obviously, no one mentioned it, but believe me, it was plain as day.

Why was it there?  Three weeks prior, in anticipation of company coming, I moved it from the downstairs bathroom to base of stairway in preparation for a final journey upstairs to a drawer.  A new use for newel posts, a lingering storage spot for lingerie!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No charge for library books

This is more like a menopause morning than a moment.

I think of myself as a low level techno-babe in the sense that I not only have a Kindle, but I know how to borrow and download books from the library on the device.  The only problem with this strategy is the fact that all the books which I've placed on hold tend to show up all at once.

One day last week, it was finally my turn for "The Signature of All Things".  My Kindle, so long idle, needed charging prior to the download.  I grabbed the charging cord from its usual spot where it was uncharacteristically placed, then headed off to the computer where I looked in on Facebook, read e-mail, studied Spanish, and browsed Amazon.

Oh right, I wanted to charge my Kindle which awaited my discovery in the third place I looked.  Back to the computer, but no cord in sight.  Walked around the house looking for the cord, had a hot flash after going up and down several flights of stairs in search of same, ended up cleaning off my desk upstairs, then off to the kitchen to make lunch.  Remembered the missing cord, restarted the hunt looking in all the same places, and finally found it hiding in plain sight on a table next to my clean desk where I'd doubtless lost interest in it and left it while grabbing my Spanish book.

Back to the computer where there was no Kindle.  Finally, after adding 14 flights of stairs to my daily total on my pedometer (did I mention I'm a techno-babe?), I was ready for the charge and the download.

And I didn't even like "The Signature of All Things". 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Duavee: Finally! A new approach to menopause

A decade into menopause, and I'm still hot (no, not that kind of hot, just middle-of-the-night way too warm hot).  For ten years I weighed estrogen pluses, namely good for the bones, brain, and heart, with estrogen negatives, that nagging worry regarding breast health, and I revisited that analysis annually.  Just this past year, estrogen yikes overtook estrogen yay, and I dropped my weekly dose to just a tick over negligible.  And subsequently lost two checks, a zillion pens, one notebook, my pedometer, my keys again and again, 5 pounds of muscle, and 1/2 inch of height. 

Enter a new kid on the menopausal treatment list, a so-called TSEC or tissue selective estrogen complex, also known by the not-so-catchy name of Duavee.  It was approved in October, 2013, but I only found out about it in the March issue of the journal "Menopause" which featured a long article and accompanying editorial about this drug.

Duavee is a combo drug, a pharmaceutical 'two-fer'.  It contains Premarin (no, I don't love that about it either, but more on that later) and bazedoxifine which is not approved as a stand-alone drug in the U.S. although it is available in Europe.  Each of these drugs interact with estrogen receptors in the body, but while Premarin stimulates the 'on switch' when it couples with cellular receptors, bazedoxifene turns some estrogen receptors on and some of them off depending on the specific tissue involved.  It is one of a class of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). 

Tamoxifen is also a SERM long-used to decrease risk of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer or to prevent its recurrence. Tamoxifen, unfortunately, stimulates estrogen receptors in the uterus, thus increasing risk of uterine cancer, and some women do not like the way they feel when they're on it.  Another SERM that's been around for awhile is raloxifene or Evista which is prescribed for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.    Evista works well on preserving bone density, protects the breast against estrogen stimulation, but aggravates hot flashes.

The ideal treatment for the health challenges of menopause would turn on all the right estrogen receptors (bone, brain, vascular tissue, genitalia) and would turn off those better left quiescent in aging ladies (breast and uterus).  Estrogen works wonders on hot flashes also known vasomotor symptoms; in fact, it's the very thing.  It supports bone density and has a number of favorable effects on brain and cardiovascular health.  Unfortunately for women no longer in their reproductive years, it stimulates breast and uterine tissue in an unwanted sort of proliferative way that, over many years, increases risk of cancer and fibroids.  As a result, progesterone is added to hormone regimens to offset the estrogenic stimulation to the uterus, but this addition only increases the breast cancer risk.  In addition, the effect of oral estrogen, particularly non-human oral estrogen such as Premarin, has undesirable effects on inflammation and clotting in the body.  While many women did well for many years on the combo drug known as Prempro, the results of the Women's Health Initiative reported in 2002 included significant increases in incidence of stroke, heart attacks, breast cancer, and dementia in women on the Premarin/progesterone combination.  Of note, however, is that women taking only Premarin did not experience an increased risk of breast cancer.  Nevertheless, this study drastically changed prevailing opinion on the benefits of post-menopausal hormone therapy, and its use has since dramatically dropped.

The combination of bazedoxifene and estrogen is just short of perfect.  The estrogen component decreases hot flashes although the dose is lower than ideal to completely beat not only the heat but also genital atrophy (as in painful intercourse).  Better yet would be bazedoxifene all by itself to be used along with an estrogen skin patch.  For now, however, as I work on my personal equation of health goals vs. personal fears, Duavee gets a tentative one to two thumbs up.

Interested in more insider scoops on good health choices for the rest of your life?  Stay tuned for September announcements on small group seminars on menopause, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular health.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A "Cat in the Hat" moment

A "Cat in the Hat" moment

Honey, I love you, but this is out of control!

With some difficulty,
I scooped semi-crystallized honey
with a knife
out of the jar
and onto my yogurt.

A large glop fell to the floor
as I reached for a spoon
to scrape off the knife.
that swiped at the blob
that clung to my elbow
and stuck to the table
as I started to eat.

A newspaper clung
to the drips on my sleeve, 
soft sucking noises 
arose from my shoes
as I walked to the sink
'cross honey-streaked floor.

My partner pointed out 
with non-sticky finger
a huge dollop on counter
not even in range
of the gooey affair.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Melting moments

Have you ever wondered if you can put a styrofoam cup directly on the warming pad of the motel coffeemakers to catch the hot water?  The answer is no!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"For What It's Worth"

My good friend and I lingered over breakfast at a nearby restaurant.  We've known each other since freshman year of college, 43 years!  The best Buffalo Springfield song ever came on overhead, and we both instantly got tears in our eyes.  Time it was, and what a time it was...

I looked smashing!

I slipped back into the house after picking up the paper early one morning.  Catching my reflection in the front hall mirror, I smiled broadly.  Looking good in the half-light of dawn, I thought with satisfaction...

...and closed the front door on my thumb.