The idea of discipline could produce resistance in you, but I promise that healthy discipline can feel great. Practicing healthy discipline in one area of your life will cause other areas to become more orderly too. Why? Because everything is connected, and one change can have a real ripple effect. When your life is more orderly it can also be easier to manifest. If you’ve been overwhelmed lately or are going through a challenging time and want to feel more grounded, try even one of these healthy discipline steps and see what else begins to shift.

1. Set short-term and long-term financial goals.

One goal should be immediate and easy to execute, like making a monthly budget to help control excess spending. Another could be long term, like saving for a down payment on a property or thinking up a side hustle to pay off debt more quickly.

2. Put mindful limits on things like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

Indulging in these substances more mindfully can have a significantly positive effect on your physical and emotional health. Instead of cutting out sugar altogether, for example, you might moderate your intake of sugar. This will be more easy to sustain as a lifestyle choice long term.Article continues below

3. Keep your living space tidy.

Finish the dishes in the sink and straighten the throw pillows on the couch before you go to sleep at night. Make your bed in the morning (just like you might have been forced to do as a kid). This orderly outer environment will help keep your mind quiet and calm.

4. Get outside.

How many times did your parents or guardians say, “Go play outside!” They weren’t just trying to get you out of their hair; they also knew being in nature was good for you. Sit outside on a bench during your lunch break or take a walk around your neighborhood in the evening.

5. Create boundaries around binge-watching and video games.

I love getting lost in a good story, which I consider a healthy escape. But have you been binge-watching a lot or playing video games lately just to numb out? Do you feel a little guilty or depressed afterward? Switch it up with a nonfiction book, like my latest Angel Intuition, that gets you back into thinking about your life and how to improve and enjoy it more.

6. Connect with others.

Staying connected to other people is just as important as other daily habits you do instinctively, like brushing your teeth or washing your face. Whether it’s chatting to your barista while they make your drink or catching up with a co-worker in the hallway, make human interaction a priority. Put it on your calendar to get together with new friends and catch up with old ones and loved ones who live far away on the phone.

7. Take a healthy risk.

Challenge yourself to take healthy risks on a regular basis, like putting your name in the hat for a promotion at work, taking a workshop on how to write that novel you’ve been dreaming about for years, or asking someone you find inspiring out for lunch.

8. Practice patience.

Really want that new sundress for summer you saw in the store window? Make yourself patiently wait for a day or two. Something cuter, more affordable, or more sustainable might hit your radar, or you might go back for that dress after getting a chance to exercise your patience muscle.

9. Work toward mutual honor and respect in relationships.

Observe the way you speak to people, and try to treat them with the dignity and kindness that all humans deserve. Watch how the manner in which you treat others—whether they are people you know in a casual or intimate way—can positively change how they treat you.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-be-more-disciplined-and-unlock-new-opportunities?otm_medium=onespot&otm_source=inbox&otm_campaign=Daily+Mailer&otm_content=daily_20190617&otm_click_id=c355de07a4d723c6958ecc8b05cd0d15&os_ehash=4366f4a34c67ce527584ae17c656bb4bd17ce861

The patient, who had a weakened immune system, developed an antibiotic-resistant infection.

  • The FDA issued a safety alert on Thursday after a patient who received a fecal transplant died.
  • The patient, who had a weakened immune system, developed an antibiotic-resistant infection that was a form of E.coli.
  • Doctors explain how fecal transplants are done and whether they’re typically safe.

Fecal transplants have been a buzzy (but gross-sounding) medical term thrown around a lot lately. But now the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some scary information about the practice: It can be deadly.

The FDA issued a safety alert on Thursday after one person who received a fecal transplant died. The procedure, which takes stool (aka poop) from a donor and places it in the body of a patient, is not approved by the FDA. In this case, two people with weakened immune systems received transplant fecal samples from one particular donor. They both developed an antibiotic-resistant infection that was a form of E.coli—something the stool wasn’t tested for in advance. One of the patients ended up dying due to the infection.

As a result, the FDA will now require that all stool samples used for fecal transplants be tested for drug-resistant bacteria and that donors be screened for drug-resistant infections before their stool can be used.

Fecal transplants are slowly becoming a mainstream treatment, but why exactly would you need one in the first place? Here, doctors weigh in on how the procedure is done and the risks to keep on your radar.

What is a fecal transplant, anyway?

Fecal transplants are a fairly new treatment that use the stool from a healthy person to help transfer healthy bacteria to the intestines of a patient. It’s usually used to treat cases of Clostridium difficile, bacteria that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the colon, that hasn’t responded to treatment with antibiotics.

“We only do fecal transplants in people who really need it. It’s a transplant after all,” says Hisham Hussan, MD, a gastroenterologist and fecal transplant expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Those are people with severe Clostridium difficile with diarrhea that doesn’t go away with antibiotics. They’re at risk of dying from the infection.”ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

A fecal transplant is actually really similar to a colonoscopy. The patient preps for a colonoscopy and a donor takes a laxative to make sure they have a bowel movement in the morning, per the Cleveland Clinic. The stool is mixed in a saline solution and filtered until only a brown liquid that contains bacteria remains.RELATED STORIES4 Common Questions About Your Poop, Answered5 Silent Signs of Colon Cancer

The patient is given a drug like Imodium to help stop them up and then they’re given a colonoscopy, where the donor stool is injected into their bowels, explains Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. They’re encouraged to try to hold it all in for as long as possible (hence, the Imodium) to help the healthy bacteria take root.

People generally start to feel better within 24 to 48 hours, says Dr. Bedford, although he’s seen patients that take up to four days to start to see their symptoms go away.

So, how do they get this stool?

When fecal transplants were a newer thing, doctors would generally get donor stool from a patient’s significant other or a close loved one, Dr. Bedford says. Now, there are companies that actually supply this stuff. Dr. Bedford gets his stool shipped to him in the form of freeze-dried capsules.

Are fecal transplants safe?

In general, yes—and they may happen more in the future since Clostridium difficile are becoming more common in the U.S.

“It is safe as long as the person who is being transplanted is not immunocompromised in some way—that’s the biggest issue,” Dr. Bedford says. This means the patient would not have the ability to fight off an infection due to a weakened immune system—say, due to diseases like cancer, certain genetic disorders, or diabetes.

The stool also has to undergo “appropriate testing” to make sure to donors don’t have any infectious issues that could show up in their stool, and that was a big issue in the cases that the FDA flagged.

“Stool is teaming with bacteria and pathogens,” says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the John’s Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s really important that it’s screened properly.”

And while it seems like it would be simple to just do this at home, Dr. Adalja stresses that this “isn’t something that people should do on their own. It needs to be done under medical supervision or you risk transferring pathogens.”

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a28035261/patient-dies-after-fecal-transplant-fda-safety-alert/

Persistent cough, common causes and cures

What’s that nagging cough, and what can you do to cure it? Cough for a minute or two, and you may think something has “gone down the wrong pipe.” Cough for a day or two, and you may think you’ve picked up a cold or the flu. After a week, bronchitis or allergies may come to mind. But after three or four weeks, your mind starts to race, and the worry begins to mount.

For many people, chronic coughing raises the specter of cancer. But is cancer really a common cause of a cough that lingers? And if it’s not, what is — and what can you do to quiet a nagging cough?

What is a cough?

Although folk wisdom views coughing as a grave portent of illness — What did one casket say to the other? “I hear you coffin” — the cough is actually a vital player in the body’s defense against disease. Coughing expels mucus, microbes, and foreign particles from the respiratory tract, protecting the lungs from infection and inflammation.

The cough begins with an initial gasp that draws air deep into the lungs. Next, the glottis snaps shut, putting a lid over the trachea, or windpipe. The third step is the forceful contraction of the muscles of the chest cage, abdomen, and diaphragm (see figure). In normal breathing, these muscles push air gently from the lungs up through the nose and mouth. But when the glottis is closed, the air can’t move out, so tremendous pressure builds up in the air passages. Finally, the glottis swings open and the air rushes out. And it is quite a rush; in a vigorous cough, the air travels out at nearly the speed of sound, creating the barking or whooping noise that we call a cough.

Anatomy of a cough

A cough can be a conscious, voluntary act or an uncontrollable, involuntary reflex. In the latter case, stimulation of nerves in the larynx (“voice box”) and respiratory tract initiates the entire process. These nerves can be irritated by infections, allergies, cold air, tumors, chemical agents such as smoke, mechanical factors such as dust particles, or by normal body fluids such as nasal mucus or stomach acid. It’s no wonder, then, that so many different things can trigger a cough.

The chronic cough

Everyone coughs, and nobody worries about an occasional cough. Many acute illnesses — ranging from hay fever and the common cold to bronchitis and pneumonia — produce recurrent coughs. But the cough that accompanies acute illnesses resolves in a matter of a few days to a few weeks. In contrast, a chronic cough is variously defined as one that lingers for more than three to eight weeks, sometimes lasting for months or even years.

Chronic coughing is common, so frequent that it rates as one of the most common reasons for seeing a doctor. In addition to worry about the cause of the cough, patients experience frustration and anxiety, especially if diagnosis and treatment stretches out over weeks, which is often the case. Coughing interrupts sleep, producing fatigue and impairing concentration and work performance. In this age of scary new viruses, social interactions may suffer. And coughing can also have important physical consequences, ranging from urinary incontinence to fainting and broken ribs. Between medical tests, lost productivity at work, remedies that don’t help, and treatments that do, coughing can become expensive.

What causes chronic coughing?

Smoking is a leading cause. Sooner or later, most cigarette smokers develop a chronic “smoker’s cough.” Chemical irritation is responsible — but the same noxious chemicals that cause the simple smoker’s cough can lead to far more serious conditions, such as bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, and lung cancer. The chronic cough is always a cause of concern for smokers.

A lingering cough is also a worry for nonsmokers. Fortunately, benign problems are responsible for most chronic coughs in nonsmokers. Benign or not, persistent coughing can cause worry, embarrassment, exhaustion, and more. That’s why chronic coughs should be diagnosed and treated before they linger too long.

Dozens of conditions can cause a recurrent, lingering cough, but the lion’s share are caused by just five: postnasal drip, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic bronchitis, and treatment with ACE inhibitors, used for high blood pressure. Many people have several of these conditions, but in nonsmokers, the first three, singly or in combination, account for nearly all chronic coughs. The major causes of long-term coughing are listed below.

Persistent cough: Major causes
Common causes of a nagging cough
Postnasal drip
AsthmaGastroesophageal reflux disease
Chronic bronchitis; bronchiectasis
Treatment with ACE inhibitors
Less common causes of a nagging cough
Airborne environmental irritants
Aspiration during swallowing
Heart failure
Lung infectionsPertussis (whooping cough)
Lung cancer
Other lung diseases
Psychological disorders
Common in smokers
Tobacco smoke itself
Lung cancer
Lung infections

If you’re like most people with a lingering cough, consider these major causes:

1. Postnasal drip (also called the upper airway cough syndrome). The human nose is more than the organ of smell. It is also the gateway to the lower respiratory tract. As such, its job is to condition the air passing through en route to the lungs. The nose warms air that is cool, adds moisture to air that is dry, and removes particles from air that is dirty. The nasal membranes accomplish all three tasks by producing mucus that is warm, moist, and sticky.

Although the nose is a guardian of the more delicate lungs, it is subject to problems of its own. Viruses, allergies, sinusitis, dust particles, and airborne chemicals can all irritate the nasal membranes. The membranes respond to injury by producing more mucus — and unlike normal mucus, it’s thin, watery, and runny.

All that mucus has to go somewhere. When it drips out the nose, it’s a nuisance. But when it drips down the throat, it tickles the nerves of the nasopharynx, triggering a cough. In some cases, the nose itself is to blame (rhinitis), but in others, a prolonged postnasal drip lingers after a viral upper respiratory infection; some call this variety a post-infectious cough.

In typical cases, patients with postnasal drip cough more at night, and they are often aware of a tickling feeling at the back of their throats. But they can cough during the day, and their throats may be irritated and sore or perfectly fine.

The best way to find out if a chronic cough is the result of postnasal drip is to try treatment. Nonprescription decongestant or antihistamine tablets are the first step. Most contain a decongestant, an antihistamine, or a combination of the two. In one form or another, these medications are generally effective and safe, but some people complain of a racing heart and souped-up feeling (due to the decongestant), while others feel sleepy (due to the antihistamine). Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may have difficulty passing urine while they’re taking decongestants, and antihistamines can occasionally trigger acute glaucoma. As with all medications, read the directions carefully.

Home remedies can help as well. Inhaling steam from a hot shower or kettle is the simplest. Nasal irrigations may also help by cleaning out irritating secretions. You can purchase saline nose sprays at your drugstore or you can do it yourself. First, soak a clean washcloth in a basin containing ⅛ teaspoon of table salt for each cup of water. Next, hold the dripping wet cloth up to your nostrils and sniff in the saline solution. If saline irrigations seem to help, repeat them one to three times per day.

Postnasal drip is the leading cause of the lingering cough. But it’s far from the only cause.

2. Asthma. Wheezing and breathlessness are the usual symptoms of asthma. But not all patients with asthma wheeze. Indeed, some just cough.

Asthma results from bronchospasm, the temporary, reversible narrowing of the medium-sized tubes that carry air into the lungs. In most cases, that air makes a whistling or wheezing sound as it moves through narrowed passages. Excessive mucus production, shortness of breath, and cough are the other classic symptoms of asthma. But in cough-variant asthma, coughing is the only symptom.

In most cases, cough-variant asthma produces a persistent, dry cough that occurs around the clock but may begin at night. Exposure to allergens, dust, or cold air often triggers coughing, as does exercise.

If doctors suspect that asthma is responsible for a chronic cough, they can order pulmonary function tests to confirm the diagnosis; if these tests are inconclusive, patients may be asked to inhale small doses of methacholine, a drug that often triggers wheezing in asthmatics.

Another approach to the diagnosis of cough-variant asthma is to see if the cough responds to anti-asthmatic treatment. Doctors often suggest a bronchodilator spray such as albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin). It’s short acting. So, in addition your doctor might prescribe an inhaled cortico steroid, such as fluticasone (Flovent), triamcinolone (Azmacort) or budesonide (Pulmicort).

If you have a chronic cough that may be due to asthma, ask your doctor to consider testing or treating. But if asthma is not the answer, ask him to think about the third leading cause of the cough that lingers.

3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. Just as people are surprised to learn that asthma can cause coughing without wheezing; many people are shocked to learn that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause coughing without heartburn.

GERD occurs when stomach contents travel upstream, making their way up into the esophagus instead of down into the intestines. Heartburn is the usual symptom; belching, a sour taste in the mouth, and bad breath are common too. But acid also irritates nerves in the lower esophagus, and these nerves can trigger the cough reflex even without the distress signal of pain. In fact, up to one-third of patients with GERD are pain-free, complaining instead of cough, recurrent laryngitis, or unexplained sore throats.

GERD can be tricky to diagnose when there’s no pain. Barium swallow x-rays and esophagoscopy can help, but the gold standard is esophageal pH monitoring, in which the patient swallows a probe that remains in the lower esophagus for 24 hours to detect the presence of acid. It’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds, but it is expensive and inconvenient.

As with the other causes of chronic cough, a simpler approach to diagnosis is to try treatment. You can begin on your own. Avoid alcohol and foods that often trigger GERD, including those that contain chocolate, peppermint, caffeine, garlic, onions, citrus fruits, tomato sauce, or lots of fat. Eat small meals, and never lie down until two hours after you’ve eaten. Take liquid antacids, particularly at bedtime, and consider elevating the head of your bed or sleeping on a wedge-shaped pillow to keep your stomach’s contents flowing down at night.

If you’re constantly coughing after a week or so, you can add an over-the-counter acid suppressor. Today there are many to choose from, including ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid). Stronger versions are available by prescription.

It may take three or four weeks of gradually escalating therapy to control GERD. But if your program doesn’t work, you are probably coughing for some other reason.

4. Chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis. Chronic bronchitis is persistent inflammation of the bronchial tubes causing airway narrowing and production of excess mucus. It usually happens from tobacco use or long-term exposure to high levels of industrial air pollutants. Bronchiectasis is also a result of chronic inflammation that damages the walls of the bronchial tubes. In either variant, the inflammation leads to a chronic cough. The most effective treatment is to quit smoking and avoid air pollutants. In addition, your doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid inhaler, usually with a long-acting bronchodilator. People with chronic bronchitis are prone to flare-ups. Doctors call them COPD exacerbations. The main symptoms are increased coughing, thick dark mucus production, shortness of breath, and fatigue. The treatment includes antibiotics and an oral corticosteroid, usually prednisone.

5. Therapy with angiotensin-converting–enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors such as enalapril (Vasotec, generic), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril, generic), as well as many others, have assumed a prominent role in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure.

ACE inhibitors are favored by many doctors because they produce good results and have few side effects, with one exception — a persistent cough. It occurs in up to 20% of people taking an ACE inhibitor. The first symptom is often just a throat tickle, followed by a dry cough that can begin as soon as three weeks or as late as one year after the medication is started. Once the cough starts, it lingers and lingers.

If the cough is mild, patients may choose to continue their medication, or they may cough less if they change to a different ACE inhibitor. But the only way to eliminate a severe cough induced by an ACE inhibitor is to switch to another type of antihypertensive medication. Fortunately, many are available, including angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) like losartan (Cozaar) and valsartan (Diovan) — drugs that act like ACE inhibitors without causing a cough.

When to worry about a constant cough
Although a chronic cough is usually not serious, warning symptoms call for prompt medical care.
The symptoms include:
Fever, especially if it’s high or prolonged
Copious sputum production
Coughing up bloodShortness of breath
Weight loss
Weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite
Chest pain that’s not caused by the cough itself
Night sweats

Less common coughing causes

In nonsmokers, the Big Five account for more than nine of every 10 chronic coughs. But other problems can — and do — cause lingering coughs.

Lung infections make people cough. Most cases of pneumonia are acute infections requiring rapid diagnosis and treatment. However, some lung infections can be more indolent and can cause a persistent cough. Fever is an important clue to infectious causes of persistent coughing.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a respiratory tract infection that can cause serious problems in children who have not been immunized properly with diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccine. Pertussis began to resurface in adolescents and adults because the original tetanus-diphtheria booster shots did not cover pertussis and the vaccine’s effectiveness wears off over time.

Heart disease can masquerade as lung disease if coughing and breathlessness are its main symptoms. It’s a common occurrence in patients with heart failure (HF). Their cough is most pronounced when they’re lying flat, so they often resort to sleeping propped up on pillows. The cough of HF may be dry, or it may produce thin, frothy white sputum. Leg swelling, fatigue, and exercise intolerance are other common symptoms of HF.

Abnormal swallowing can lead to persistent coughing if food triggers the cough reflex by heading down the “windpipe” instead of the “food pipe.” Called aspiration, the problem occurs mainly in people with strokes or other neurologic disorders that hamper normal swallowing.

Environmental irritants can trigger the cough reflex, not just once but with nearly every breath of air laden with chemicals or particles ranging from sulfur dioxide to nitric oxide to dust and molds. Even clean air can trigger coughing if it is too dry or too cold.

Lung cancer certainly belongs on the list of disorders that cause persistent coughing. Fortunately, though, it’s not high on the list, at least in nonsmokers.

Stress. Mental factors can produce many physical symptoms, including cough. Psychogenic coughing increases at times of stress and disappears during sleep.

Cough medicineIf you don’t think that coughing is a common complaint, just head to the nearest drugstore. You’ll find a bewildering array of syrups, sprays, tablets, and lozenges designed to control coughing. You’ll also see a steady stream of customers coughing up lots of money to purchase products that may be ineffective.
Many cough remedies contain expectorants, compounds intended to loosen sputum, making it easier to clear.
Guaifenesin is the most popular expectorant. Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence that expectorants are effective. You’ll probably do just as well by using a humidifier and drinking lots of water.
Cough suppressants are also very popular.
Nonprescription agents such as dextromethorphan can partially suppress the cough reflex, promoting patient comfort.
Prescription cough syrups with codeine tend to be more effective. When used appropriately, cough suppressants can reduce discomfort; remember, though, that because coughing can serve a useful function, it should not always be suppressed.
Medicated lozenges and cough drops are among the most widely sold cough remedies. These products contain various combinations of menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil, honey, and other ingredients. Like with liquid cough medicines, some also contain topical anesthetics.
Despite their popularity, there is no evidence that medicated cough drops are more effective than simple hard candies.

Finding chronic cough causes and cures

Don’t ignore a chronic cough — but don’t panic just because your cough lingers for more than three or four weeks. Most often, the puzzle can be solved without elaborate tests, and the problem can be corrected with simple treatments. In fact, you may be able to diagnose and treat yourself, especially if postnasal drip or gastroesophageal reflux is the culprit. Even so, your doctor can also help. In most cases, it won’t take much more than a stethoscope and a treatment trial or two. But if your cough is accompanied by sputum production, bloody sputum, fever, weight loss, night sweats, breathlessness, undue fatigue, or chest pain, you should consult your doctor without delay.

Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/that-nagging-cough

Summary: Computational model sheds light on the impact chronic, low-grade inflammation has on the mesolimbic dopamine system and motivational impairments.

Growing evidence shows that the brain’s dopamine system, which drives motivation, is directly affected by chronic, low-grade inflammation. A new paper proposes that this connection between dopamine, effort and the inflammatory response is an adaptive mechanism to help the body conserve energy.

Trends in Cognitive Sciences published the theoretical framework developed by scientists at Emory University. The authors also provided a computational method to experimentally test their theory.

“When your body is fighting an infection or healing a wound, your brain needs a mechanism to recalibrate your motivation to do other things so you don’t use up too much of your energy,” says corresponding author Michael Treadway, an associate professor in Emory’s Department of Psychology, who studies the relationship between motivation and mental illness. “We now have strong evidence suggesting that the immune system disrupts the dopamine system to help the brain perform this recalibration.”

The computational method will allow scientists to measure the effects of chronic inflammation on energy availability and effort-based decision-making. The method may yield insights into how chronic, low-grade inflammation contributes to motivational impairments in some cases of depression, schizophrenia and other medical disorders.

Co-author Andrew Miller, William P. Timmie Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Emory’s School of Medicine and the Winship Cancer Institute, is a leader in this field and is pioneering the development of immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

“If our theory is correct, then it could have a tremendous impact on treating cases of depression and other behavioral disorders that may be driven by inflammation,” Miller says.

“It would open up opportunities for the development of therapies that target energy utilization by immune cells, which would be something completely new in our field.”

Co-author Jessica Cooper, a post-doctoral fellow in Treadway’s lab, led the development of the computational model.

It has previously been shown that inflammatory cytokines — signaling molecules used by the immune system — impact the mesolimbic dopamine system. And recent research has revealed more insights into how immune cells can shift their metabolic states differently from most other cells.

The researchers built on these findings to develop their theoretical framework.

An immune-system mechanism to help regulate the use of energy resources during times of acute stress was likely adaptive in our ancestral environments, rife with pathogens and predators. In modern environments, however, many people are less physically active and may have low-grade inflammation due to factors such as chronic stress, obesity, metabolic syndrome, aging and other factors. Under these conditions, the same mechanism to conserve energy for the immune system could become maladaptive, the authors theorize.

Studies by Miller and others have provided evidence of an association between an elevated immune system, reduced levels of dopamine and motivation, and some diagnoses of depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

“We’re not proposing that inflammation causes these disorders,” Treadway says. “The idea is that a subset of people with these disorders may have a particular sensitivity to the effects of the immune system and this sensitivity could contribute to the motivational impairments they are experiencing.”

The researchers are now using their computational method to test their theory in a clinical trial on depression.

Funding: The work for the current paper was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

Emory Health Sciences
Media Contacts: 
Carol Clark – Emory Health Sciences
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Original Research: Closed access
“Can’t or Won’t? Immunometabolic Constraints on Dopaminergic Drive”. Michael T. Treadway, Jessica A. Cooper and Andrew H. Miller.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2019.03.003


Can’t or Won’t? Immunometabolic Constraints on Dopaminergic Drive

Converging evidence suggests that the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system is directly affected by increases in inflammatory cytokines associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation.

The reasons for this immune–DA communication are unclear, but one novel hypothesis is that inflammatory cytokines signal immunometabolic shifts that impact the valuation of future actions as a function of available energy resources.

Future work on effort-based discounting models should incorporate variables related to inflammation and immunometabolic state.

Source: https://neurosciencenews.com/inflammation-dopamine-motivation-14159/

Fats have gotten a bad rap over the years—but now, it seems we’re finally mending our relationship with this long misunderstood macronutrient and realizing just how necessary it is for brain health, heart health, hormonal health, and even weight loss. Of course, not all fats are created equal (bad fats can increase your risk for weight gain and chronic disease), and with high-fat diets like keto gaining popularity, it’s more important than ever to know which fats are healthy and which aren’t.

Here, learn everything you need to know about why we need fat to thrive, the best and worst types of fat for your health, and some of the best high-fat foods you can add to your diet.

Why your body absolutely needs fat.

We’ve come a long way from our fat-free SnackWell’s days—and thank goodness for that, as fats play multiple crucial roles in the body. Here, functional medicine nutritionist Megan Fahey, R.D., shares some key reasons to embrace fat:

  • Fat is necessary for satiety. Ask anyone who’s switched from a fat-free salad dressing to one made with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar—you will feel way more full after eating the latter. “Fat is the macronutrient that triggers the brain to recognize fullness when eating,” says Fahey, “which helps regulate internal fullness cues to prevent overeating.”
  • Fat is necessary for vitamin and mineral absorption. Fat can instantly up the health cred of nearly any meal. “Four vitamins necessary for bodily functions can only be absorbed in the presence of fat: vitamins A, D, E, and K,” says Fahey. Plus, numerous antioxidants, like lycopene, are better absorbed in the presence of fat, and research has linked saturated fat to improved calcium absorption and bone health.
  • Fat keeps your brain functioning and nerves firing. “The brain is essentially a blob of fat and cholesterol, so dietary fat is important to provide your brain the building blocks it needs to function,” says Fahey, adding that fat also coats, protects, and insulates nerves, enabling them to send signals between brain and body.
  • Fat and cholesterol fuel your sex drive. Bet you didn’t know this one! Saturated fat and cholesterol are necessary to synthesize sex hormones—estrogen, progesterone, testosterone—and help maintain overall hormonal balance, Fahey says.

What makes something a “healthy fat” anyway?

There’s a lot of debate in this area, but emerging research is helping us come to a more scientifically sound conclusion, and one that’s far more nuanced than simply saying “saturated fats are bad and unsaturated fats are good.” While many benefits of unsaturated fats (which include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) have long been established, the truth is, research is now starting to vindicate saturated fat and support its consumption from quality sources—in moderation. Current dietary recommendations haven’t necessarily caught up to this research, however.

Coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat, and if we followed the recommendations, you would avoid it at all costs,” says registered dietitian Maya Feller, R.D., who works with patients to manage their weight- and diet-related chronic illnesses. “However, consuming moderate amounts of coconut oil gives your HDL (good cholesterol) a boost. So that information now allows us to move coconut oil out of the ‘never’ category.”

More important than whether a fat is saturated or unsaturated: the source of that fat. Experts seem to agree that the majority of your daily fat intake should come from minimally processed, high-quality plant sources while leaving room for high-quality animal sources as well. “Organic, plant-based fats provide a favorable profile of phytochemicals and nutrients, which are strongly linked with enhancing brain and heart health,” says Fahey, adding that some of her favorite high-fat foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, and olives. On the other hand, many experts believe that highly processed plant fats, such as those from low-quality vegetable, seed, and bean oils (think: soybean, corn, safflower, and canola), have a pro-inflammatory effect and are best avoided.

When it comes to high-fat animal foods, the way an animal was raised and what they were fed can drastically affect the fat profile of their meat, eggs, or milk, which you should take into consideration. “Grass-fed beef and grass-fed butter actually contain a more favorable profile of fatty acids and are appropriate to incorporate in moderation,” says Fahey.

Also, it’s generally widely accepted that you should stay far away from lab-made trans fats, which are found in a number of highly processed foods. “They increase systemic inflammation and exacerbate cardiovascular disease while increasing variability in blood glucose and the risk of poor health outcomes overall,” says Feller.

10 of the healthiest high-fat foods.

The above information is a good guide for helping you choose the right fats. But still, there are some standout high-fat foods that deserve their own shoutout. Here, some of the most nutritious fatty foods out there:

1. Fatty fish

Nutritionists, doctors, and medical associations agree: We should be eating at least two servings of fatty fish per week to reap the head-to-toe benefits of their polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are crucial for proper development, cardiovascular protection, and brain health. Deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids have even been associated with increased depression and anxiety. DHA, in particular, is powerfully anti-inflammatory and has been associated not only with reduced Alzheimer’s risk but improvement of depression as well, neurologist David Perlmutter, M.D., recently told mbg.

2. Whole eggs

Once considered unhealthy due to their cholesterol content (which we’ve learned probably isn’t a big deal), eggs are back on the menu. Not only are they packed with protein, which can keep blood sugar levels stable, but they contain many of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need for good health. A few standouts: choline, which is critical for cognitive function and liver health; vitamin K2, which is protective against heart disease by preventing arterial calcification; and biotin, a nutrient well known for supporting hair, nail, and skin health. All that said, the types of eggs you choose are also very important, so consider opting for pasture-raised varieties, which tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins K2, E, and A.

3. Avocado

Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)—a type of unsaturated fat associated with improved heart (they’ve been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol) and brain health. But they’re so much more than that. They also contain over 14 minerals; loads of soluble fiber, which helps trap excess cholesterol and send it out of the system; a variety of antioxidants; plant-based omega 3s; and vitamins C, E, and K to name a few. Bonus: Studies indicate that meals that include avocado increase feelings of satiety longer than those without.


Swap out processed, pro-inflammatory vegetable oil for extra-virgin olive oil, and you’ll immediately boost your health. Like avocados, EVOO is a potent source of heart- and brain-healthy MUFAs, specifically a MUFA called oleic acid. It’s also jam-packed with health-promoting polyphenols, including oleocanthal (the compound that gives good olive oil its peppery bit), which exhibits strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to slow cancer cell growth in lab studies. In fact, one large research review found that women who consumed the most olive oil in their diets had a lower risk of breast cancer as well as cancers of the digestive system. It also helps hydrate and smooth skin from the inside out.Article continues below

5. Olives

We can’t mention olive oil without mentioning olives, one of Fahey’s favorite high-fat foods. Like olive oil, they contain the MUFA oleic acid along with a variety of polyphenols, which, together, reduce inflammation and promote heart and brain health. They’re also an awesome source of gut-friendly fiber, with 3.5 ounces containing about 13 percent of your recommended daily intake. Research has also shown that eating olives results in higher blood levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that’s essential to energy production.

6. Nuts (especially walnuts)

All nuts are pretty darn healthy, given their great composition of fiber, protein, and fats (mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, but it varies a bit by the type of nut), and research suggests they can be a key tool in helping you lose weight. In fact, one large study looking into the effects of the Mediterranean diet found that people who were asked to add nuts to their diet lost an average of 2 inches from their waist over the course of a year. Walnuts, in particular, are often ranked the top nut for having both more healthful antioxidants, called polyphenols, and a higher antioxidant potency than other nuts. They’re also the only nut that contains a significant source of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

7. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds

Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are also great sources of the plant-based omega-3 ALA, which helps reduce inflammation throughout the body. They also contain heart-healthy, gut-friendly fiber and a fair amount of protein and magnesium, making them worthy additions to your morning smoothie or oatmeal. Flax is a particularly great source of a type of phytochemical called lignans, which may help lower cholesterol. Pro tip: Opt for ground flaxseeds, which may be easier to digest, and consider soaking your chia seeds (try this chia pudding) to boost your absorption of these beneficial nutrients.Article continues below

8. Dark chocolate

Looking for a nutrient-packed sweet fix that’s not fruit? Nothing really tops dark chocolate, which contains mostly monounsaturated and saturated fats, and is brimming with flavanol antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure and improve brain function—provided you opt for the right kind. Dark chocolate that’s at least 70 to 80% cacao is your best bet (several of these healthy chocolate bars make the cut). Dark chocolate is also a surprising source of stress-busting, sleep-enhancing magnesium, with an ounce containing about 16 percent of your recommended daily intake.

9. Coconut and MCT oil

Coconut oil is largely composed of saturated fat, but, as mentioned above, it’s actually been shown to have a somewhat positive effect on cholesterol. And many experts suspect that consuming coconut oil in the context of a healthy diet is key to this benefit. According to Robin Berzin, M.D., high saturated-fat consumption in a diet that is otherwise void of adequate fiber and leafy greens, and too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increases bad cholesterol, while high fat consumption from clean sources of unsaturated fats (like olive oil) and saturated fat (organic coconut oil) in a diet high in veggies and fiber, and mainly free of refined carbs, can actually improve cholesterol composition.

Now that we have that out of the way, what’s so great about coconut oil? Coconut oil is composed largely of medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs)—the fats that are often credited for many of coconut oil’s health benefits. Coconut oil is used to make MCT oil, which, you guessed it, contains an even higher concentration of MCTs.

MCTs may be a useful tool if you’re on the ketogenic diet, as they go straight to the liver, where they may be turned into ketones (the fuel your body runs on while in ketosis), and they’ve even been associated with improved memory in at least one pilot study.

10. Parmesan cheese

Sure, you may not think of cheese as a health food, but real Parmesan (think the kind you find in a block, not a shaker) packs a special punch, containing mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats. Parmesan is high in calcium, containing about 31% of your recommended daily intake in 1 ounce, along with a decent amount of vitamin B12. But, unlike many other forms of dairy, it’s very low in lactose and can often be tolerated by people with lactose intolerance. It also packs a big protein punch, with 11 grams per ounce. Fun fact: Those crunchy crystals you bite through in quality Parmesan are actually tiny bits of an amino acid called tyrosine, which plays a role in the production of the neurotransmittersdopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline)—and thus helps regulate mood and emotional response.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/best-healthy-fats-and-high-fat-foods?otm_medium=onespot&otm_source=inbox&otm_campaign=Daily+Mailer&otm_content=daily_20190608&otm_click_id=6d224451329ae992919c39948f7772b2&os_ehash=4366f4a34c67ce527584ae17c656bb4bd17ce861

The ultimate limit of human endurance has been worked out by scientists analysing a 3,000 mile run, the Tour de France and other elite events.

They showed the cap was 2.5 times the body’s resting metabolic rate, or 4,000 calories a day for an average person.

Anything higher than that was not sustainable in the long term.

The research, by Duke University, also showed pregnant women were endurance specialists, living at nearly the limit of what the human body can cope with.

The study started with the Race Across the USA in which athletes ran 3,080 miles from California to Washington DC in 140 days.

Competitors were running six marathons a week for months, and scientists were investigating the effect on their bodies.

Man in tent
Image captionA Race Across the USA runner has his resting energy expenditure measured

Resting metabolic rate – the calories the body burns through when it is relaxing – was recorded before and during the race.

And calories burned in the extreme endurance event were recorded.

The study, in Science Advances, showed energy use started off high but eventually levelled off at 2.5 times the resting metabolic rate.

The study found a pattern between the length of a sporting event and energy expenditure – the longer the event, the harder it is to burn through the calories.

So people can go far beyond their base metabolic rate while doing a short bout of exercise, it becomes unsustainable in the long term.

The study also shows that while running a marathon may be beyond many, it is nowhere near the limit of human endurance.

  • Marathon (just the one) runners used 15.6 times their resting metabolic rate
  • Cyclists during the 23 days of the Tour de France used 4.9 times their resting metabolic rate
  • A 95-day Antarctic trekker used 3.5 times the resting metabolic rate

“You can do really intense stuff for a couple of days, but if you want to last longer then you have to dial it back,” Dr Herman Pontzer, from Duke University, told BBC News.

He added: “Every data point, for every event, is all mapped onto this beautifully crisp barrier of human endurance.

“Nobody we know of has ever pushed through it.”

During pregnancy, women’s energy use peaks at 2.2 times their resting metabolic rate, the study showed.

Runners in the Race Across the USA
Image captionRunners on the 3,080 mile Race Across the USA in 2015.

The researchers argue the 2.5 figure may be down to the human digestive system, rather than anything to do with the heart, lungs or muscles.

They found the body cannot digest, absorb and process enough calories and nutrients to sustain a higher level of energy use.

The body can use up its own resources burning through fat or muscle mass – which can be recovered afterwards – in shorter events.

But in extreme events – at the limits of human exhaustion – the body has to balance its energy use, the researchers argue.

Dr Pontzer said the findings could eventually help athletes.

“In the Tour de France, knowing where your ceiling is allows you to pace yourself smartly.

“Secondly, we’re talking about endurance over days and weeks and months, so it is most applicable to training regimens and thinking whether they fit with the long-term metabolic limits of the body.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48527798

There are lots of dubious claims and mysterious ingredients, but yes, by trapping water, moisturizing can help with dry skin.

Dry skin by itself isn’t a medical worry, although serious cases can result in cracks and fissures that invite infection and inflammation. The real issue is discomfort — dry skin can be sore, tender to the touch, and often itchy (although not all itchy skin is dry). There’s also the red, rough, scaly appearance lamented in many advertisements for moisturizers.

This is one problem that hasn’t suffered from lack of attention: there are dozens of creams and lotions for dry skin. They are sold as moisturizers, which is more of a marketing term than a medical or scientific one. Indeed, routine skin care is a realm where there’s little science to be found. Well-controlled studies of ingredients are few and far between. Companies keep information about ingredients proprietary and are careful to limit claims for what the products do to stay within FDA rules.

But sales people learned ages ago that science sells, so labels and ads often use scientific terms. Moisturizers are often billed as hypoallergenic or “allergy tested” — even though there’s no government standard for making such a claim, so any product can do so. Some products brag about being noncomedogenic — an impressive word that means they won’t cause pimples — but that’s not saying much: almost all moisturizers on the market today use ingredients that are noncomedogenic. Lists of vitamins are supposed to get us thinking that moisturizers can nourish skin or stoke it full of antioxidants. Yet in most cases vitamins in moisturizers probably don’t make much difference, either because the amounts used are too small to have much effect, or because the vitamins degrade with exposure to light and oxygen.

The fact is that despite the long lists of obscure ingredients and the pseudoscientific hokum, all moisturizers help with dry skin for a pretty simple reason: they supply a little bit of water to the skin and contain a greasy substance that holds it in. In fact, if greasiness weren’t a problem, we might all go back to using the solution for dry skin that our grandparents used: 100% white petrolatum, which most of us know as Vaseline. One reason for the proliferation of moisturizers is the continuing search for a mix of ingredients that holds in water like petrolatum but feels nicer on the skin. Many products also contain humectants (pronounced hue-MEK-tants), ingredients that sponge up and retain water.

The good news is that despite all the unknowns and salesmanship, you really can’t go very wrong with what moisturizer you choose. Almost all the moisturizers on the market will help with dry skin, and in most cases, the choice comes down to subjective experience — and simply whether you like the feel and smell (nothing wrong with that — it’s your skin, after all). You want to choose one you like and use it regularly.

6 tips for those with dry skin
Turn down the thermostat. Hot air tends to be drier than cooler air.
Use a humidifier. Humidifiers can help. The problem is that moisture may be soaked up in walls and furniture or disperse rapidly, depending on how airtight your home is.
Take warm, not hot, baths and showers. Hot water whisks away the fatty substances in the skin that help it retain water. Some doctors recommend bath oils. You can also use bath oil as a post-bath moisturizer by rubbing yourself down with a teaspoon of it diluted in a couple cups of warm water.
Use a mild soap. Dove is a familiar brand. Cleansers like Cetaphil are an alternative to soap.
Wear loose clothing. Clothing that binds and rubs can dry out skin.
Stay protected. Cold, windy air is very drying, so bundle up and wear warm mittens or gloves to protect your hands.

Dead cells on top

Take a look at the drawings below, and you’ll see that our skin is organized in layers. The outermost one is called the stratum corneum, which consists of cells called corneocytes and various lipids — fats — between them. The corneocytes are often compared to bricks and the intercellular lipids to mortar, an appropriate metaphor for a layer of skin that serves as a barrier, but the stratum corneum looks more to us like phyllo, the thin sheets of dough used to make baklava.

The corneocytes are dead cells without nuclei, but they aren’t just deadwood. They contain various substances that hold water. For our skin to feel smooth and supple the stratum corneum has to be at least 10% water; ideally, it’s 20% to 30%. The stratum corneum can absorb as much as five to six times its own weight and increase its volume threefold when soaked in water. But it’s not simply the water content that matters. It’s the effect that water has on the enzymes that control orderly shedding of corneocytes, a process dermatologists call desquamation. Without water, the corneocytes accumulate, so skin becomes flaky instead of peeling off nicely, and the stratum corneum gets disorganized and full of cracks instead of being tightly packed.

Because moisturizers contain oil, it’s a common misconception that they are replacing lost oil. But most young children have wonderfully smooth skin, and the sebaceous glands in the skin don’t start producing oily sebum until puberty. Dry skin is about lack of water, not oil.

Moisturizer ingredients
OcclusivesOcclusives hold water in after it has been supplied either by the moisturizer or a soak in water.
HumectantsHumectants sponge up water, drawing it up from the dermis and, to a limited extent, in humid conditions, from the air.
EmollientsEmollients fill in rough spots and make skin feel smooth but don’t affect the water content.

Ingredients in moisturizers

Water. Most moisturizers are oil-in-water emulsions, so by definition that makes them creams and lotions. Look at the ingredient list, and you’ll see that water is often the first one. Some of the water evaporates when you apply the moisturizer, but some also soaks in. While the stratum corneum absorbs water nicely, it doesn’t bind it very well, so some oily substance is needed to hold it in. Applying an oily substance to the skin without also resupplying it with water — either from the moisturizer or from another outside source like a bath — is ineffective: you’d just end up with greasy skin that is still dry and cracked. In fact, the optimum way to soften skin is to soak it thoroughly first in water and then cover it with something like Vaseline. But that’s time-consuming and messy so unless your skin is extremely dry, using a moisturizer that contains water is much easier and more practical.

Occlusives. Petrolatum and the other oily substances in moisturizers are sometimes referred to as occlusives because they block the evaporation of water. Despite all the elaborate variations in moisturizers, petrolatum is still a mainstay and is often named third or fourth in the ingredient list. Many fatty or waxy substances can serve as occlusives. The commonly used ones include cetyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol), lanolin, lecithin, mineral oil, paraffin, and stearic acid. Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are silicones that function as occlusives. When products say they are oil-free, that usually means they don’t contain mineral or vegetable oil and depend on dimethicone as an occlusive instead. The Aveeno products tout their “natural” oatmeal content, but in some varieties, the only active ingredient listed is dimethicone. The effectiveness of the occlusives varies. Petrolatum is the best at holding in water, followed by lanolin, mineral oil, and the silicones.

Humectants. Theoretically, humectants pull water into the stratum corneum both from the air and from deeper layers of the skin. However, when the humidity is low, there’s so little water in the air that almost all of the water comes from the inside out. Some of the commonly used humectants include glycerin, honey, panthenol (or vitamin B5, an example of a vitamin being used for its physical, not nutritional, properties), sorbitol (which we are used to seeing as an artificial sweetener), and urea. Humectants can potentially make skin even drier by pulling water into a damaged, arid stratum corneum that doesn’t hold moisturizer. So, as a practical matter, they are almost always used with occlusive ingredients that trap the moisture the humectants draw into the stratum corneum.

Emollients. Emollients aren’t in moisturizers to moisturize, but rather to make the skin feel smooth. Many ingredients that serve as occlusives — dimethicone is a good example — and humectants do double duty as emollients. Because of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), we tend to think of alcohols as drying — and out of place in moisturizers. But some alcohols (octyldodecanol, for example) are excellent emollients.

Vitamins. Topical retinoic acid — a form of vitamin A — reduces fine lines and wrinkles in the skin by stimulating the production of collagen and is the main ingredient in prescription antiwrinkle creams. But the vitamin A used in some moisturizers is retinyl palmitate, which has the virtue of being a very stable molecule but isn’t nearly as biologically active as retinoic acid. It’s unlikely that retinyl palmitate in the amounts found in moisturizers has much, if any, effect on collagen and wrinkles. If retinyl palmitate has a benefit, it may be as a humectant.

Vitamin C, usually under the name ascorbic acid, and vitamin E, usually as tocopheryl acetate, are added because of their antioxidant properties. Studies of topical vitamin C have shown some effects, but in high concentrations. Doubts linger about its usefulness in moisturizers because light and oxygen inactivate the vitamin C. Vitamin E as tocopheryl acetate is biologically inactive and probably functions mainly as a preservative.

Menthol. Moisturizers that bill themselves as itch remedies like Sarna often contain menthol. Although menthol doesn’t attack the underlying problem, the familiar cooling sensation does seem to cancel out the itching sensation.

Lactic acid. Skin over the heel can get especially thick, leathery, and dry. Try using a pumice stone or callus file to get rid of the outer layers of skin and then using a moisturizer like AmLactin to soften it up. AmLactin, an over-the-counter lotion, is 12% lactic acid, a heavy-duty humectant that can also loosen up adhesions so heel skin becomes more flexible and less likely to crack. Sometimes products containing lactic acid sting.

Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/moisturizers-do-they-work?utm_source=delivra&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WR20190607-Skin&utm_id=1382726&dlv-ga-memberid=74610385&mid=74610385&ml=1382726

PFAS are resistant to breakdown—and have been linked to a slew of health problems.

  • The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that “forever chemicals,” officially known as PFAS, have infiltrated our food supply.
  • PFAS are very resistant to breakdown in people and in the environment, and have been linked to a slew of health problems.
  • A toxicology expert explains what PFAS chemicals are, why they may be dangerous, and how to potentially avoid them.

The idea of any kind of chemical making its way into your meal is freaky, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just confirmed that a particularly persistent class of chemicals has infiltrated our food supply. They’re called PFAS (short for perfluoroalky and polyfluoroalkyl substances), and they’re known as “forever chemicals” because they’re tough to break down in both the environment and your body.

The FDA recently investigated PFAS and presented the findings at the 29th annual European meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Helsinki in late May. The Environmental Working Group shared photos of the FDA’s presentation online, and the agency later confirmed that they were correct.

For its research, the FDA tested a dairy farm near a US Air Force Base where firefighting foams containing PFAS have been used. The agency found that local water samples tested for PFAS levels at 35 times greater than the current Environmental Protection Agency health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.

The researchers tested 13 samples from the farm, including animal feed and milk samples, and found that all had detectable levels of PFAS. While the milk was discarded, the FDA pointed out that the cows would still have PFAS in their bodies for 1.5 years after eating and drinking contaminated food and water for 30 days. The FDA also tested produce samples from farms close to a PFAS manufacturing plant and found that, of 20 samples tested, 15 had detectable levels of PFAS.

What’s more, common items like grocery store meat and seafood—and even off-the-shelf chocolate cake—also contained worrisome levels of PSAS, the Associated Press reports.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW

The FDA is actually planning to present the findings on their website later this week, but they gave CNN advance copy of the text. “Due to potential health concerns related to these chemicals, the FDA is working to better understand the potential dietary exposure to PFAS” it will read, per CNN.

PFAS sound pretty bad, but it’s understandable that you might not be 100 percent well versed in them and what they do. Here’s what you need to know about these “forever chemicals” and how they affect your body.

What are PFAS, exactly?

PFAS are largely used for their ability to repel oil and water. They’re often found in non-stick products, stains, paints, cleaning products, food packages, and firefighting foams.

PFAS “contain very strong chemical bonds, and are very resistant to breakdown in people and in the environment,” says Jamie Alan, PhD, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. Unfortunately, PFAS “can easily get into the air, food, soil, and water,” Alan says.

Why are PFAS potentially dangerous?

Once you’re exposed to PFAS, they can accumulate in your body. “They aren’t easily broken down,” Alan says. “Once in the body, they settle in the liver, kidney, and blood.”

PFAS have been linked to a slew of diseases like obesity, hormone suppression and infertility, liver and thyroid disease, and cancer, as well as increased cholesterol, Alan says.

However, research that has linked PFAS with these health issues is only correlative, meaning experts can’t prove that PFAS actually caused these diseases—just that people with these diseases are also more likely to have had PFAS exposure. “We are just beginning to understand the ramifications of these compounds,” Alan says.

How can you avoid PFAS?

It’s actually pretty hard. One study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) found that PFAS chemicals are detected in the blood of 98 percent of the American population. “These chemicals are everywhere,” Alan says.

However, there are some steps you can take to at least lower your exposure. Contaminated drinking water is a big source of PFAS exposure, so Alan recommends using a water filter when you can.

“Other places you can find these chemicals include fast food containers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers,” she says. “Avoiding these products would be another way to avoid the chemicals.” Alan also recommends carefully inspecting labels on things like cookware, cleaning products, and personal care items. Finally, she recommends taking a pass on non-stick pans and opting for things like cast iron pans instead.

Again, it’s hard to say for sure what kind of impact PFAS can have on your body—but it doesn’t look positive.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a27720891/what-are-pfas-chemicals-food-supply-fda/

It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear this, but sleep is very, very important. Besides being the powerhouse miracle fuel behind everything we do, sleep keeps our hormones balancedrhythms in sync, and our egos sane. And now, according to new research, we have reason to believe that sleep influences our sex lives (or at least, teenagers’ sex lives). Go figure.

A new study from the American Psychological Association found that lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of teens engaging in risky sexual behaviors. These unsafe sexual behaviors included not using condoms and having sex under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In other words, not getting enough sleep compromises our judgment, and that extends to our sex lives—and it just so happens that teenagers are one age group that consistently doesn’t sleep enough.

Teens by and large are not getting the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, due to a number of reasons, including biological changes in circadian rhythms, early school start times, balancing school and extracurricular activities, and peer social pressures,” says Wendy M. Troxel, lead author of the study. “Insufficient sleep may increase the risk for sexual risk-taking by compromising decision-making and influencing impulsivity.”

Troxel and her team analyzed data from “a large, long-term study of 1,850 racially and ethnically diverse adolescents and young adults in Southern California.” The average participant age was 16 years old when the study began and 19 years old when it ended—data was collected four times between 2013 and 2017.

Participants reported their sleep schedules and noted whether or not they had difficulty sleeping in the weeks prior to taking the survey. They were also required to report whether they used alcoholmarijuana, or other substances immediately before or during sex, and whether they used protection.

The results were eye-opening: Teens who consistently didn’t get enough sleep were nearly two times as likely to have unsafe sex than those who slept more (specifically those who caught up on sleep during the weekend).

“Teens who were short weekday and short weekend sleepers were not getting adequate sleep during the school week and were not catching up on sleep on the weekends, and thus were chronically sleep-deprived,” Troxel added.

Troxel emphasizes the unsettling results of the study and warns of the consequences of risky sexual behavior—including serious health concerns, like increased risk of sexually transmitted infections like HIV.

While acknowledging that most U.S. teens must adhere to early school start times, she urges parents, teachers, clinicians, and policymakers to prioritize sleep and put an end to chronic sleep deprivation in teens.

“Our recommendation is for parents and teens to find a middle ground, which allows for some weekend catch-up sleep, while maintaining some level of consistency in sleep-wake patterns,” she said. “We also need to encourage school districts to consider delaying school start times because this could make a substantial difference in helping teens get adequate sleep.”

If you, too, have trouble sleeping, try changing up your sleep environmentexercising with sleep in mind, or ditching your technology. It could be the difference between a good and bad sexual decision.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/sleep-deprivation-can-lead-to-risky-sexual-behavior-study-says?otm_medium=onespot&otm_source=inbox&otm_campaign=Daily+Mailer&otm_content=daily_20190604&otm_click_id=85d16aba50d23d527fe58f1d5cdbe03c&os_ehash=4366f4a34c67ce527584ae17c656bb4bd17ce861

And would a jar of liquid soap be a better bet than bar soap?

Q. Are there any health risks to using a communal bar of soap in, say, a health club?

A. No. Bar soap does not appear to transmit disease.

The most rigorous study of this question was published in 1965. Scientists conducted a series of experiments in which they intentionally contaminated their hands with about five billion bacteria. The bacteria were disease-causing strains, such as Staph and E. coli.

The scientists then washed their hands with a bar of soap and had a second person wash with the same bar of soap. They found that bacteria were not transferred to the second user and concluded: “The level of bacteria that may occur on bar soap, even under extreme usage conditions (heavy usage, poorly designed non-drainable soap dishes, etc.) does not constitute a health hazard.”

In 1988, scientists employed by a soap manufacturer confirmed these findings. They inoculated bars of soap with pathogenic bacteria, in this case E. coli and Pseudomonas, and had 16 subjects wash their hands with the inoculated bars. After washing, none of the subjects had detectable levels of bacteria on their hands. They concluded that “little hazard exists in routine hand washing with previously used soap bars.”

Occasional studies since then have documented the presence of environmental bacteria on bar soap, but none have shown bar soap to be a source of infection. On the contrary, recent studies continue to demonstrate the ability of simple bar soap to combat infection, even during outbreaks of serious infections like Ebola virus.

But would a jar of liquid soap be a better bet than bar soap? Scientists with conflicting proprietary interests jousted about the putative benefits of bar soap versus liquid soap beginning in the 1980s. Much of the contention revolved around the numbers of bacteria found on the surfaces of the bar or bottle of soap. But the key question remains not whether environmental bacteria are present but whether they pose a risk of infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hand washing as the primary defense against infection and gives the same endorsement to bar soap as it does to liquid soap. Therefore, the only mistake one could make would be to fail to wash one’s hands because of an unfounded fear of contamination.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/22/well/can-a-bar-of-soap-transmit-infection.html