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The menopausal transition can come with its fair share of challenges, from temperature regulation issues to mood swings, to occasional trouble sleeping. But according to a new study, there’s one act of self-care that postmenopausal women can do to show themselves some TLC and improve their sleep. Here’s what to know.

Studying the link between foot massages and sleep.

For this study, published in the journal Menopause, researchers wanted to dig deeper into the realm of reflexology and massage. Namely, they were curious if foot massages could improve mood and sleep quality, which often take a hit during menopause.

They worked with a group of 70 Turkish women going through menopause; half of whom received a foot massage every day for one week, and half of whom did not (the control group). The researchers then asked the women to answer questions about their sleep and mood. And based on the findings, it would appear that foot massages can give you a leg up on menopause.

What the research found.

The findings of this study indicate that foot massages during menopause can not only help you sleep longer, but also improve your mood.

Specifically, the women who had been receiving foot massages slept up to an hour more than those in the control group, and the study authors say the differences in sleepiness and anxiousness between the two groups were statistically significant.

As Stephanie Faubion, M.D., MBA, women’s health clinician at the Mayo Clinic and medical director at the North American Menopause Society explains in a news release, “This small study in Turkish women shows how a simple, inexpensive intervention such as foot massage can improve bothersome issues in postmenopausal women.”

The takeaway.

You don’t have to go anywhere to apply this research in your own life—you can easily give yourself a reflexology foot massage, or enlist a partner to help. As holistic reflexologist Laura Norman, M.S., LMT previously wrote for mbg, reflexology can make a wonderful addition to any existing bedtime ritual; Check out her full foot reflexology routine for sleep here.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/study-finds-foot-massages-can-help-you-sleep?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_20220925&mbg_mcid=5162259&mbg_hash=57103be3843e0e1cb6615f5efa797221

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When you’re feeling low in energy, you can snack yourself out of a slump. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, you might turn to your favorite meal for comfort. When you’re feeling celebratory, you may want to treat yourself to something sweet. 

Food plays so many roles in our lives, but it’s important to remember the various types of foods you put into your body affect your blood sugar levels in different ways and, ultimately, affect your metabolism and overall body composition in the short and long term.

What is blood sugar?

Blood glucose, aka blood sugar, is sugar that exists in the bloodstream.

This monosaccharide is provided to our bodies via macronutrients (carbohydrates, specifically) in food and drinks that are broken down by the body and serves as the human body’s main source of energy. While macronutrients like protein and fat are not sources of sugar, they do affect the ways our body absorbs sugars in the gut.

Blood glucose that isn’t being used gets stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, or as lipid in fat tissue when consumed in excess amounts. Any macronutrient consumed in excess ultimately can be stored as adipose (fat). When your body and brain need an energy boost, a hormone in your pancreas called glucagon signals your body to dip into your glycogen storage, converting the compound back to the simple and versatile sugar glucose and dispersing it into the bloodstream for use in cells and tissues throughout the body.    

Blood sugar balance is the stabilization of blood glucose levels after a meal—i.e., levels that don’t spike too high and come down at a reasonable rate. On the other hand, an unhealthy blood sugar response might look like a rapid increase in blood glucose followed by a low dip.

“Blood sugar (or glycemic) balance and control are concepts that extend throughout your day and the longer term of life. So it’s a real-time, meal-to-meal concept as well as a long game,” explains Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs.

How blood sugar affects metabolism & weight.

Blood sugar is most commonly associated with a person’s energy levels (physical and/or mental), but what you may not realize is that blood sugar plays a role in numerous bodily functions—such as fueling muscle during physical activity and keeping your immune system strong. Blood sugar also affects your metabolism and overall body composition, in which both high and low blood sugar levels can contribute to unwanted weight gain. 

See, the human body keeps a reserve of glucose stored in the liver and muscles to ensure it has the fuel it needs to function properly. But, similar to how your phone can hold only so much data, these organs can hold only so much glucose. When more glucose is consumed than utilized, the excess gets stored in fat tissue and converted into fat, which can result in weight gain over time from extra adipose stores. 

So where does metabolism fit into all of this? Well, metabolism is the complex process following digestion and absorption in which your body converts the macronutrients (specifically carbohydrates in this particular discussion) from foods you eat and the beverages you drink into glucose, which later gets converted into ATP (i.e., cellular energy). 

“Not to give anyone biochemistry nightmares, but how cool is this: One glucose yields 38 ATP energy molecules, which are used throughout our entire body all day and night to function and thrive,” Ferira shares. 

When there’s extra glucose inputs in the bloodstream, the body prioritizes dealing with it by laying down more glycogen stores in the liver, and ultimately, adipose (aka body fat stores) instead of burning it for fuel, Ferira explains. Since your body is prioritizing energy conservation (anabolism) over burning calories (catabolism), your metabolism and extra energy stores can slow you down. 

“Your body values nutrients. It’s like if someone offered me a $100 bill; I’m going to take it and tuck it away. And if someone offers me five $100 bills the next day, I’m going to take those and tuck them away too, and now my money purse is larger, more stuffed. Same with our body and nutrient inputs,” Ferira says, adding, “it’s a situation of too much of a good thing.”

How a healthy (and active) metabolism supports blood sugar balance.

While metabolic health consists of many facets—like blood sugar status (glycemic control and insulin sensitivity), blood pressure and endothelial function, inflammatory status and more—it’s a bidirectional relationship, really.

According to performance dietitian and co-founder of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition Kylene Bogden, M.S., RDN, CSSD, IFNCP, a person can directly support metabolic health if they “consume a balanced diet that is minimal in added sugar, stay active, and their body is able to properly digest, absorb, and utilize the food they consume.” In other words, our daily nutrition and lifestyle choices directly impact our metabolic health trajectory.

Unfortunately, according to a 2019 survey, only 12.2% of American adults are metabolically healthy. It’s a dismal statistic, but the good news is that assessing your metabolic health isn’t as complicated as it sounds. 

Nutrition specialist and New York Times bestselling author JJ Virgin, CNS, BCHN, previously told mbg that someone with a fast metabolism will “easily maintain a healthy weight, burn fat, and experience sharper mental focus and sustained energy throughout the day.”

Someone with a slower metabolism (i.e., less metabolic efficiency), however, might have trouble losing weight, feel gassy or bloated, or notice their hair becoming thinner or their skin drying out. A common link: Blood sugar levels that fluctuate too widely (think: spikes and dips) instead of remaining balanced (with the help of normal insulin function, of course).

Alternatively, when blood sugar levels are controlled, Bogden says the body should run “like a well-oiled machine.” Healthy blood sugar levels are reflective of an active metabolism, but a healthy metabolism is also indicative of well-balanced blood sugar levels.

How to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Having a general idea of what healthy blood sugar levels look like and comparing them to your personal blood glucose status can help you better understand your body and what might be causing any fluctuations you experience.

Healthy blood glucose levels (i.e., from a blood test) in a fasting state are less than 100 mg/dl, while glucose level cutoffs following an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) or a meal (referred to as a “casual” glucose measurement) will be higher. Partnering with a health care provider to know your glucose status is a critically important health metric to monitor and prioritize throughout life. 

You can find out your body’s glycemic control by requesting your doctor perform a hemoglobin A1C lab test (HbA1c), which is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the course of three months.

That said, holistic nutritionist, wellness expert, and celebrity health coach Kelly LeVeque tells mbg that what is considered a “healthy” blood sugar range is specific to each individual and determined by both the height and quantity of blood sugar spikes a person experiences over the course of a day, which is why a long-range snapshot from HbA1c can be such a valuable health metric. 

“Optimal health comes when we can eat specific foods to feel satisfied and get what we need. That causes a gradual increase in blood sugar and sustains us between meals,” explains LeVeque. “The easiest and most effective way to support blood sugar balance and consume these nutrients is to eat meals that provide a mix of macronutrients—like protein, fat, and fiber—and to enjoy these in their whole-food form.”

Here are five other ways you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels naturally:

1. Maintain a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet.

You know the saying “You are what you eat?” Well, the same goes for your metabolism. If you want to keep your blood sugar balanced and optimize your metabolism, being mindful of foods and dietary patterns in relation to their impact on blood glucose control is key. 

LeVeque recommends first focusing on incorporating foods from what she refers to as “The ab Four” into your diet: protein, fat, fiber, and greens/vegetables deep in color. “These foods provide essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids from fat, fiber, and nonstarchy produce that has little to no effect on blood sugar.”

Next, it’s important to be cognizant of foods that could cause a spike in blood sugar. These include simple carbohydrates(as opposed to the complex, fiber-laden types of carbohydrate you receive from whole grains, legumes, vegetables, etc.), sugary treats, and added sugars. (Generally, the more processed and refined a food is, the less it resembles the original plant source, and the faster and higher the blood glucose spike.) 

“When you look at sugar and starches that have been removed from their fiber cell and are considered acellular carbohydrates (aka processed carbohydrates), they have an exaggerated effect on blood sugar,” LeVeque notes. “Think things like orange juice, sugary condiments, and baked goods.” 

However, this isn’t to say you can’t enjoy these types of foods in moderation—or modify a recipe to make it more blood-sugar-friendly. To be on the safe side, LeVeque advises enjoying fruit in its whole form, using condiments without any added sugar, and enjoying homemade baked goods so you can use higher-fiber flour and lower amounts of unrefined sugar.

There are also different ways of eating that lower and/or maintain an individual’s blood sugar levels. These include low-carb, high-protein ketogenic patterns, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and Mediterranean diets that are rich in plant-based proteins and natural fiber sources. (See an example of what a metabolic scientist eats in a day here, for reference.)

2. Take a supplement that targets metabolic health.

Certain vitamins and minerals promote a healthy metabolism, so you might want to consider taking a targeted supplement that provides metabolic health support, like mbg’s metabolism+.*

This new mindbodygreen supplement is wholly powered by plants and packed with ingredients that help promote metabolic efficiency and healthy blood sugar levels, as well as healthy weight and body composition.* 

For example: The inclusion of veld grape extract derived from the stems and leaves of the Cissus quadrangularis succulent found in India can combat oxidative stress, encourage healthy appetite hormone levels, and help balance a person’s fasting blood sugar levels.* 

The formula also contains cayenne pepper fruit extract (known for its capsaicinoids) that enhances metabolism and supports feelings of satiety, thereby aiding in appetite regulation.* 

Other highlighted ingredients of mbg’s metabolism+ include grains of paradise (a unique botanical in the ginger family that fires up the metabolism) and antioxidant-rich green tea leaf extract (think: EGCG and caffeine) that works to sustain a healthy metabolism and promote feelings of fullness.* 

3. Practice stress management.

As it turns out, both our mental and physical health could benefit from stressing less

“As [the stress hormones] adrenaline and cortisol are released, our liver mobilizes stored glycogen, breaking it down to glucose and providing our bloodstream with energy if we need it,” LeVeque explains. “This means our blood sugar can rise and subsequently fall thanks to not ingesting food during stressful events and high-intensity training.” 

Some ways LeVeque recommends her clients manage stress include creating a personalized sleep schedule, and utilizing tools that calm both the body and mind—like meditation, breathwork, and yoga

Other natural remedies to help with stress include aromatherapy, taking advantage of adaptogens like ashwagandha, and even sipping on a soothing cup of tea. 

4. Engage in physical activity regularly.

Sticking to a regular movement ritual or workout routine is definitely beneficial to your cardiovascular and whole-body health—and, in turn, your metabolism. Per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the average adult should exercise for approximately 150 minutes per week (which averages out to roughly 20 minutes per day). 

According to a recent study published in the journal Nutrients, a 30-minute walk after a meal can help improve the body’s glycemic response

That said, any movement is better than no movement at all. Find what kinds of exercises you genuinely enjoy doing, and create a routine that works for you.

5. Prioritize sleep.

Like good nutrition, a healthy sleep cycle is critical to achieving a healthy metabolism and nurturing metabolic health throughout life. 

According to licensed naturopathic physician and certified nutrition specialist Bethany Tennant, N.D., CNS, it’s important to prioritize a good night’s sleep because quality sleep encourages healthy blood sugar regulation and a good night’s rest strengthens the body’s ability to handle glucose efficiently. 

To improve the quality of your sleep, stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, switch to decaf in the early afternoon, and create a sleep environment that makes you feel calm. Be mindful of what you snack on before bed as well—those sweet treats you crave before turning in can contribute to a blood sugar spike—not something you want before bedtime.

The takeaway.

Balancing your blood sugar levels on the daily and throughout life is an absolutely critical component to living a healthy lifestyle, as it directly affects your metabolism, metabolic health, and more. 

There are multiple ways you can approach stabilizing your blood sugar levels, including prioritizing healthful nutrition, physical activity, quality sleep, and leveraging a targeted supplement like mbg’s metabolism+ that’s formulated with full-potency, science-backed doses of botanicals that promote metabolic efficiency, appetite regulation, and healthy blood sugar levels.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-blood-sugar-influences-metabolism?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_20220921&mbg_mcid=5131890&mbg_hash=57103be3843e0e1cb6615f5efa797221

With COVID deaths in decline, WHO Director-General says pandemic could soon be over. But that’s only if countries stick with prevention methods.

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may finally be in sight, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD announced Wednesday in a press briefing.

“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” said Ghebreyesus. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic—we’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”

The WHO released six short policy briefs with steps that countries need to take now to ensure that the pandemic doesn’t worsen, which include testing and vaccination.

“A marathon runner does not stop when the finish line comes into view. She runs harder, with all the energy she has left. So must we. We can see the finish line, we are in a winning position, but now is the worst time to stop running,” Ghebreyesus added. “If we don’t take this opportunity now we run the risk of more variants, more deaths, more disruption, and more uncertainty.”

But, with various levels of vaccination status, access to antiviral treatments, and other preventative measures around the world, what would it really take for the pandemic to end?

Experts explain what the next phase of the pandemic might be, if we can get there with the current public health measures we have in place, and what could pose a risk to our plans of returning to normalcy.

A Notable Decline in COVID Deaths Worldwide

Though upwards of 50,000 new COVID cases are still being reported daily in the U.S., the death rate of COVID is declining—and it may signal that we’re reaching a new, more manageable phase of the pandemic.

For the week of September 5, the WHO reported just over 11,300 global deaths due to COVID. Weekly deaths from the virus have not exceeded 20,000 since mid April, even as case numbers have increased.

“In an epidemic where you’ve seen so much death […] the first thing you’d want to do is minimize death,” Abraar Karan, MD, infectious disease doctor and researcher at Stanford University, told Health. “Then you would focus on minimizing hospitalizations, you then minimize transmission and yes, you want to do all those things at the same time. But death is, of course, the most important outcome for any disease.”

With all of the tools to fight COVID—masking, vaccines, testing, and antiviral treatments—the disease and death from it can be prevented, which is what’s being reflected in the data.

“We expect there to be future waves of infection but that doesn’t necessarily have to translate into future waves of death, because there is so much that we can do,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, technical lead for the COVID-19 response at the World Health Organization, in a press briefing.

An End in Sight—But Not Here Yet

Though President Biden was quoted during a CBS 60 Minutes interview on Sunday saying the “pandemic is over” — that’s not entirely accurate. “The pandemic is over, we still have a problem with COVID, we’re still doing a lot of work on it,” Biden told CBS’s Scott Pelley.

Biden it seems, may have been referring the middle ground that has been reached in the battle with COVID-19. While many of us have largely returned to life as normal COVID continues to be a serious issue that needs to be addressed as people continue to build up immunity through infection and vaccination.

Ghebreyesus and other experts, say the pandemic, right now, is still ongoing, and we won’t be able to eliminate unnecessary deaths from COVID without immense amounts of continued and ongoing cooperation.

“We can end this pandemic together, but only if all countries, manufacturers, communities, and individuals step up and seize this opportunity,” said Ghebreyesus.

In other words, explains Susan Hassig, DrPH, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, we have strategies to curtail the pandemic, but they’re not yet widely adopted.

“We have a lot of tools available to us that we did not have in March of 2020 that greatly modify and blunt the severe impacts of infection with this virus,” Hassig told Health. “But—and it’s a big but—we still don’t have levels of vaccination in all locations, in all populations at high risk, at levels where they should be.”

It can be frustrating for people to continue to incorporate preventative measures into their daily routines, she added, especially if they themselves are not at risk of dying from COVID. But throwing in the towel now could cause us to regress and see case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths go up.

According to Hassig, using the word “end” when it comes to COVID-19 is also problematic.

“The virus is not going away,” said Hassig. “The question and the problem we have with an RNA virus like coronavirus or like influenza is that—and this one has demonstrated that—it’s going to continue to mutate as it moves into other new individuals. And we just don’t know what those mutations are going to look like.”

This is why those six strategies outlined by the WHO are such an important part of this messaging, Dr. Karan said.

The WHO recommends that all countries continue to:

  • Offer testing and sequence for new virus mutations
  • Make sure those who test positive for COVID have access to care
  • Keep up infection prevention and control strategies in health care facilities
  • Reach vaccination targets, especially for those who are at highest risk
  • Fight against COVID misinformation
  • Build community trust by accurately communicating risks

“Each of these tenants are sort of key critical pillars that you need, not just for COVID, but really for any kind of epidemic—monkeypox, or whatever we deal with next,” said Dr. Karan.

Dealing With COVID Going Forward

With more aggressive strategies—like quarantines or mask mandates—likely behind us, experts say that more innocuous prevention measures may stay with us for a while.

More individualized wastewater testing for COVID—testing schools or nursing homes, for example—could be good ways of keeping tabs on the virus, Hassig said. If a small community is seeing an outbreak, it’d be more helpful to have just those affected mask up or test more frequently, rather than imposing those measures on a whole city, county, or state.

Increased ventilation and air filtration are also good solutions to help stop the spread of COVID without it being a burden on people’s everyday lives, Dr. Karan added.

But people will likely still need to be prepared and ready to increase their prevention strategies, based on what’s happening around them and who they come into contact with.

If we are able to avoid a newly dangerous variant and keep deaths at a minimum globally, it’s possible then that we could see a less volatile version of the pandemic that we’ve known for the last couple years.

COVID will likely never completely go away—and may likely look similar to the flu at some point—but health experts seem hopeful that by committing to prevention strategies now and into the future when necessary, the virus may become less of a constant worry or concern.

“I do think that we’ve sort of turned a corner at some point recently. But with that said, we’re quite vulnerable in the sense that whatever variants we deal with, in the future, we’ll have to keep pushing. It’s sort of a continuous process—revaccinating, treating people with antivirals effectively and quickly, monitoring variants,” Dr. Karan said. “Maybe what we know of COVID as like, the 2020 through 2022 COVID, that phase is on its way out.”

Source: https://www.health.com/news/who-end-of-pandemic-in-sight

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