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We can talk about diet and exercise endlessly, but neither will help you reach your prime health without sleep as their backbone. Sleep, unlike other areas of health, isn’t a trend or a big question mark. In fact, it’s one of the most definitive components of wellness for one reason: We all need it.

And new research shows that it’s not only the number of hours asleep that matters; it’s about the time your alarm goes off in the morning, too.

new survey of over 1,000 people conducted by the sleep news site Mattress Inquirer found that the time you wake up every morning may be just as important as the time you go to bed the night before. The results showed people with a strict wake-up time reported being more satisfied overall in every area of their lives: Compared to people who are more loose about the time they get up each morning, people with strict wake-up times were 13 percent more satisfied with their personal lives, 45 percent more satisfied with their financial situation, and 42 percent more satisfied with their work-life balance. Those are some huge differences!

While these findings are based totally on self-reporting without the in-depth statistical analysis typical of more scientific studies, it’s always fascinating to observe baseline associations between sleep rituals and life satisfaction. Findings like these raise the question: Why might keeping a definitive wake-up schedule be such an effective practice?

For some, it’s about getting and staying in a routine that’s comfortable and reliable. Think of it like boarding a flight at a specific time: You can rely on it happening, and if it doesn’t, havoc ensues. Others simply might thrive on the idea of having more hours in the day. After all, some studies suggest getting up early could be the key to peak productivity, which would explain why people who wake up at the same time every morning are so much happier with their financial and work situations.

Another possible explanation for the apparent benefits of a strict wake-up time? As an overworked society, we rely heavily on the concept of “catching up on sleep,” particularly on the weekends, which can result in something even more detrimental: social jet lag. A lot of people use weekends as the time to sleep in and make up for the hours lost during the busy week, which often leads to staying up later, thus creating a cycle similar to travel-induced jet lag. Research suggests this irregular sleep schedule can potentially wreak havoc on your health, including lowering the body’s levels of good cholesterol, increasing body fat, and increasing symptoms linked to diabetes and heart disease risk. If these small irregularities in our sleep schedules can have such a large impact on our bodies, is it such a stretch to think they might also be affecting our mental states? (After all, consider the long-term effects it has on jet-lagged business travelers and night-shift workers.)

The survey found 69 percent of people are able to hold down a consistent morning routine, compared to 35 percent of people who get to bed at the same time every night. A balance of the two is the goal (early to bed, early to rise!) in order to keep up a healthy schedule that wards off any of the potential negative consequences of a more irregular sleep pattern.

If you’re a night owl or someone with an inconsistent daily schedule, the idea of waking up at the same time every morning no matter what happened the night prior might seem daunting. While implementing a strict sleep plan isn’t always easy, small changes can create a big impact. Having a set routine to start off your day—scheduling an early spin class or just committing to a few minutes of meditation or journaling each morning—might be one effective method to help you avoid that snooze button.

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/benefits-waking-same-time-every-morning

Anxious thoughts are (arguably) the least pleasant kinds of thoughts—and as soon as they pop up, your main goal is to get them gone.

And while you can’t necessarily stop yourself from ever having them, you can learn how to manage them, and prevent them from going rogue—that’s where meditation comes into play.

Meditation can actually teach you how to recognize anxiety-inducing thoughts, observe them, and then let them go. Basically, you’re learning to recognize and respond to your feelings rather than instantly reacting to them, says Andy Puddicombe, meditation and mindfulness expert and co-founder of the meditation app Headspace. (Want to try Headspace? Click here and use the code PRHearst1M for a one-month free trial, or code HEARST for three months free on a year-long subscription.)

Still, it can be hard to know where to start—and what to do when you’re actually feelinganxious. Try one of these seven quick meditation tips for anxiety to help bring yourself back to reality.

1. Focus on the rising and falling of your breath.

With your hand on your stomach, focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. Count your breaths—“one” on the rise, “two” on the fall—as you pay attention to the movement of your body, to bring you back to the present moment, suggests Puddicombe. Do this for 10 seconds, he says, repeating if necessary.

2. Pay attention to how your feet feel on the floor.

Or how your hands feel on your keyboard; or how your back feels against the chair—anything that grounds you to where you are and what you’re doing at that very moment.

Allow thoughts to come and go as you normally would (because they will—meditation isn’t void of thought), but as soon as you realize you’re lost in the thought, pivot your thinking back to the sensation you were focusing on, says Puddicombe.

3. Do a full-body scan, starting at the top of your head.

Close your eyes and focus on your forehead—then begin to scan down your entire body, stopping at specific parts (like your eyes, your mouth, your neck, etc.) to take note of each sensation—good or bad—that you feel, says Puddicombe.

Don’t pass judgement or fixate on any specific feelings—just make a note of it and move on; scanning your entire body two to three times, paying attention to how you feel before versus after the scan is complete.

4. Imagine bright, warm sunlight shining down above your head.

You know how it feels when you’re sitting next to a window (or lying on the beach) and a beam of sunshine hits your face just right? Imagine that feeling the next time you’re overwhelmed—but instead of just your face, imagine the light beam filling up each part of your body, from your toes to your head, suggests Puddicombe. “Allow the warmth, light, and spaciousness to melt away any tension in the body,” he adds

5. Let your mind think about whatever it wants to think about.

Yep, that even means feeling anxious, says Puddicombe. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you sit with your thoughts—without any expectations, sense of purpose, or focus for several minutes—you give your mind the extra space needed to help it unwind, he says.

6. Picture someone you love—and breathe in their anxieties.

All right, this one sounds weird, but just go with it. Hold an image of someone you love in your mind, and imagine yourself taking on their anxieties and insecurities with every inhale. On the exhale, think about all of their good qualities and the great times you’ve had together—kind of like breathing in the bad and breathing out the good.

This exercise of putting the happiness of others before your own is called “skillful compassion” according to Puddicombe. “One of the most effective ways to let go of a strong emotion such as anxiety is to focus on another person,” he says.

7. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a friend.

Ask yourself, “What do you appreciate most in your life?” Once you’ve got something (or things) in mind, dwell in that gratitude for 30 seconds.

Inquiring in the second person separates you from your mind and encourages a space of appreciation, free from any overwhelming emotions, Puddicombe explains.

Folate deficiency creates more problems in connection with cell division and DNA replication than previously thought, a study shows

Once a person lacks folate, the resulting damage is irreversible. The researchers therefore encourage people to be more aware of the level of folate in the blood.

Folate is a type of vitamin B found in, for example, broccoli, spinach, peas, mushrooms, shellfish, and fruit such as bananas and melon. The Danish Health Authority recommends that pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant take a daily supplement of folic acid. But everyone, not just pregnant and soon-to-be pregnant women, should focus on this vitamin, says the last author of the study, associate professor Ying Liu from the Center for Chromosome Stability at the department of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

“The problem with folate deficiency is that it affects chromosome maintenance, and once a cell has lost a chromosome or part of it, it can never be fixed. That is, once cell division has gone wrong, you cannot fix it subsequently by consuming a lot of folic acid. Once the damage is done, it is irreversible,” says Liu.

“Therefore, we need a guide telling us what the level of folate in the blood in the population in general should be. Once we have that knowledge, we can determine whether a person needs folic acid supplements to make sure the level in the blood is high enough for the cells to reproduce the DNA successfully.”

A blood sample can determine the level of folate in the blood. Researchers have known for many years that folate deficiency is associated with mental illness, age-related dementia, and deformation of the brain and spinal cord of fetuses, also known as neural tube defects. But they have not been able to establish the causality—that is, whether folate deficiency directly causes the disorders or the disorders result from the secondary effect of folate deficiency.

To answer this question, the researchers studied lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell, from men. However, the results would also apply to women, Liu says.

The researchers analyzed the part of the genome called FRAXA, which contains an extensive so-called CGG sequence, a genetic code. Here they saw that folate deficiency caused abnormalities in connection with cell division, mitosis, especially in cells with an abnormally long CGG sequence. Among other things, it caused faulty segregation of chromosomes. The researchers also saw how the entire X chromosome became unstable in cases of long exposure to folate deficiency.

“In the study, we demonstrate that folate deficiency leads to both higher levels of and more harmful chromosome abnormalities than previously known. This causes the daughter cells to inherit the incorrect amount of DNA following cell division or, in some cases, to even lose an entire chromosome. This could explain why folate deficiency is associated with diseases like infertility, mental health disorders, and cancer,” Liu explains.

Other parts of the genome also contain extensive CGG sequences. The researchers assume that folate deficiency will also affect those regions. As a next step, they aim to map all the areas of the human genome that folate deficiency may affect.

The research appears in PNAS. Funding came from the Nordea Foundation, the US National Institute of Health, the Danish National Research Foundation, and the European Union Horizon 2020 program.

Source: University of Copenhagen

https://www.futurity.org/folate-deficiency-1932552-2/

“Are you getting at least eight hours of sleep?”

We hear this question all the time—from our doctors, our parents, and our partners—and yet, most of us aren’t getting enough shut-eye. Despite the fact that we know there are negative consequences of skimping on sleep, it can still be so difficult to prioritize it over all our other activities and responsibilities.

I get it! Sometimes we need a little extra motivation to hit the sack at a reasonable hour, which is why a new study showing that sleep deprivation can make you dehydrated is something we should turn out attention to.

The study, published in the journal Sleep analyzed data from over 25,000 adults from China and the United States, and the results showed that compared to those getting the magic eight or more hours of sleep, people who slept only six hours a night had more concentrated urine and a 16 to 59 percent higher chance of being dehydrated.

So what’s the reason for this? Experts think it has everything to do with a hormone called vasopressin, which is released in the body during the night, later on in the sleep cycle. Vasopressin helps manage the body’s fluid levels. In fact, it can actually pull water back into the body from our urine to prevent us from losing too much water while we’re sleeping. The theory is that when we’re not getting enough sleep, vasopressin can’t do its job as well, and our hydration levels suffer.

The researchers on the study also suspect that the negative side effects of not getting enough sleep might actually be caused, in part, by simple dehydration. So while it’s best to always try to increase sleep quality and quantity—instead of treating the symptoms of sleep deprivation—if you do have to pull an all-nighter for some reason, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-sleep-deprivation-disrupts-your-hormones

Doctors explain how the two illnesses differ—and how to start feeling better ASAP.

It’s no secret that winter brings on a slew of sicknesses, from the common cold to bouts of the flu to stomach bugs. But alongside the rise in germy surfaces, another common culprit can wreak havoc on your body: your indulgent holiday spread.

If you find yourself throwing up or running to the bathroom this winter, you may wonder what caused it: Was it just something you ate—or are you actually sick?

Food poisoning and stomach flu are both pretty common. More than 48 million Americans deal with foodborne illness every year, while norovirus causes up to 21 million cases of stomach flu. On top of that, their symptoms tend to overlap, making them equally difficult to deal with.

So how can you tell if your trips to the bathroom are a result of your meal or an unpleasant bug? Here, doctors explain how food poisoning and stomach flu differ, how to tell the symptoms apart, and what you can do to recover faster.


Food poisoning vs stomach flu: What’s the difference?

Food poisoning definition

Simply put, “food poisoning is an illness caused by consuming spoiled and contaminated foods, or foods contaminated with toxins,” says Christine Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic. The source of this contamination can be hard to pinpoint, as there’s a huge range of bacteria and viruses—say, like E. coli, listeria, salmonella, norovirus, and many more—that can lead to food poisoning in different ways.

“Foods can get contaminated at any point of processing (inadequate washing or refrigeration), production (incorrectly handled or undercooked), or during serving process (temperature and how it was served),” says Dr. Lee. It’s more common to experience food poisoning after eating in places where meals were prepared for large groups of people, such as school cafeterias, social gatherings, and restaurants, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Stomach flu definition

Stomach flu, medically known as viral gastroenteritis, “is a short-lived stomach disorder of an infectious cause attributed to a virus—most commonly noroviruses and rotavirus,” says Dr. Lee.

While rotavirus affects mostly children, norovirus is actually the leading cause of bothstomach flu and foodborne illness in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It is incredibly contagious and is typically spread among people in confined spaces, such as family homes, living communities, and cruise ships. This happens when an infected person does not thoroughly wash his or hands, touches surfaces used by other people, prepares food for other people, or shakes hands with another person.

While any sign of the “flu” can be alarming, stomach flu and influenza—which you should get vaccinated for every year—are not the same thing, explains Stephen Hanauer, MD, medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Influenza is a virus that attacks your respiratory system and getting a flu shotwill not prevent stomach flu. The name “stomach flu” is also misleading, because the virus infects and attacks your intestines, not your actual stomach.


Food poisoning vs stomach flu symptoms

Because food poisoning and stomach flu have such similar symptoms, it can be tricky to figure out which one you’re dealing with.

Food poisoning symptoms

  •  Upset stomach
  •  Stomach cramps
  •  Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Fever

Stomach flu symptoms

  •  Diarrhea
  •  Stomach pain and cramping
  •  Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  •  Sometimes fever
  •  Fatigue
  •  Extreme thirst (if dehydrated)
  •  Lightheadedness
  •  Headache or body aches

“Both may present with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, and a low-grade fever,” says Dr. Lee. However, stomach flu tends to involve more nausea and vomiting, while food poisoning may lead to more diarrhea.

“Bacterial food poisoning affects more of the colon, not small intestines, which causes the difference in symptoms,” says Dr. Hanauer, who also suggests paying attention to the onset and duration of your symptoms.

Food poisoning usually comes on rapidly (often a few hours after you eat the contaminated food) and the symptoms should only last between 1 to 3 days, he says. On the flip side, stomach flu often has a slower onset because the virus needs time to infect the “host” (aka, you!), which takes 1 to 2 days. Symptoms then last between 3 to 10 days, says Dr. Lee.


Food poisoning vs stomach flu treatment

Unfortunately, you usually have to ride out your symptoms, regardless of whether you have food poisoning or stomach flu. This includes plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids to make up for the loss of electrolytes, and a diet of bland foods (such as those in the BRAT diet), says Dr. Lee.

Extreme dehydration is the main concern in both cases. “During diarrhea and/or vomiting, it may be difficult to keeps foods or liquid down. Unfortunately, you may feel worse if you become dehydrated and recovery may be slowed if your body doesn’t receive the nutrients it needs,” says Jennifer Williams, MPH, a research scientist specializing in hydration at Abbott Nutrition.

“While drinking water is important for the body, it is not enough to help replace the key electrolytes, like sodium, chloride, and potassium, that are lost during dehydrating events,” says Williams. Sports drinks or other drinks that contain electrolytes (like Pedialyte) will help you recover.

Avoid raw fruits and vegetables until symptoms go away, suggests Dr. Hanauer. This includes greasy foods as well, which may be more difficult to digest. “If you have stomach flu, I usually tell patients to avoid milk products for a week. It disrupts the small intestine, where lactose (milk sugar) is absorbed, so you might not be able to absorb it until the lining of the small intestine regenerates,” he adds. “Lactose may not be a problem with bacterial food poisoning, since it affects more of the colon, not the small intestine.”


When should you see a doctor?

If you experience the following issues while dealing with your illness, it’s time to see your doctor, especially if you’re very young, very old, pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or have multiple medical issues, says Dr. Lee.

  •  Struggling to keep up with fluid losses with obvious signs of dehydration
  •  Blood in stool
  •  High fever (over 101.5°F when measured orally)
  •  Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  •  Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days

Both food poisoning and stomach flu can result in complications, or even be fatal, if not treated properly. In severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary, says Dr. Lee. Your doctor can offer tests to determine the cause of your illness, often from a stool sample, to find the best treatment.

https://www.prevention.com/health/a25473480/food-poisoning-vs-stomach-flu/

Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

Broken lollipop in shape of heart on dark background with copy space

Q: I recently got out of a 10-year relationship with my boyfriend and am trying to adjust to getting back to the single life, but I’ve found it difficult to feel like myself again. Where do I go from here and how can I start anew and reclaim myself after a difficult breakup? — G.L.

A:   Of course it’s difficult to feel like yourself again! You’ve had a major life shift. Ending a long term relationship is a death of sorts and involves moving through the grieving process. What you’re feeling is very common in the aftermath of a separation.

Difficult breakups rattle us at the core and disconnect us into isolation. Here, the person who was supposed to be your life partner is no longer. And there you stand aware of this void and the mourning process begins.

Now, to find “you.”

Take the best possible care of you. Now is a great time to reflect on what you’ve learned from this past relationship. Is something more important to you in a partner than you originally thought, like a personality trait or lifestyle choice?

Taking this time to “get on the balcony” and understand what happened between you and your ex can really help you grow and be a preventative measure moving forward. All that you have gained over the last ten years of experience from your relationship needs to be synthesized into the new you. And this newly integrated wisdom will help you build the foundation of who you are today, which will come out in small and big ways as you seek hopeful new experiences.

Here are some suggestions to reclaim yourself.

Turn towards yourself

Give yourself time to feel and be patient that you will feel better. Be gentle and loving and embrace radical self care.

Seek support

Talking to close, trusted friends can be helpful in making sense of your “new normal.” This is also a great time to start counseling. An objective other can help you understand what you see on the balcony of reflection.

Learn something new

Pick up a new hobby or learn something new, like a language, painting, drawing, skiing, or yoga. This can engage the brain and/or body in different ways.

Exercise

Get the body to release those positive endorphins. For example, hiking in the beauty of nature is very therapeutic.

Try to laugh

Oh boy, is this the best medicine. Go to a comedy show or see a funny movie. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.

Journal

Write to make sense of your inner world. Writing can be very useful in exploring the many emotions that you may be be feeling. Emotions are like waves, they can rise in intensity but they also fall again, understanding this process can support your emotional regulation.

Find the magic in everyday life

There is wonder all around us. It’s up to us to see it. Connect with your five senses. If you are blessed to have children or pets around you, take a moment and play. They are wonderful guides for us grown-ups, helping us focus on the here-and-now rather the there-and-then.

You are not who you were 10 years ago, but if you allow the grieving process to teach you, you will come out at the other end a stronger and wiser you. Going through this process will help you find out who you are now and prepare you to love again.

Source: https://thriveglobal.com/stories/post-breakup-relationship-reclaim-therapist-advice/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Gottman&fbclid=IwAR3D45pwsKHKJKULrLm_WnokdOPUPu2gBZdmEpNNDIAp6vMGHqVqrJf3Aqo

Many women don’t even experience chest pain.

Heart attack symptoms aren’t the same for everyone—especially women—and one survivor, who has learned this firsthand, wants to spread the word in order to save lives. In a Twitter post that has since gone viral, a female nurse (Twitter name “gwheezie”) shares the lesser-known heart attack symptoms she suffered leading up to her hospitalization. And, what she has to say is so important.

“I want to warn women our heart attacks feel different,” she wrote. “Last Sunday I had a heart attack. I had a 95% block in my left anterior descending artery. I’m alive because I called 911. I never had chest pain. It wasn’t what you read in pamphlets. I had it off & on for weeks.”

She explains that her symptoms included pain running across her upper back, shoulder blades and equally down both arms. “It felt like burning & aching,” she described. “I actually thought it was a muscle strain.” It wasn’t until she was drenched in sweat and started vomiting that she called 911.

“I’m a nurse. I’m an older woman. I had been spending the week helping my neighbor clean out her barn, I thought I strained some muscles,” she continued. “I took Motrin & put a warm pack on my shoulders, I almost died because I didn’t call it chest pain.”

She was taken by medics to a hospital that did cardiac catheterizations, including four stents which were placed in the hour after her arrival. Cardiac catheterization is a procedure done to identify a heart problem and diagnose heart disease. During cardiac catheterization, a catheter—a long tube—is inserted into an artery or vein in your groin, neck and arm, and is threaded to the blood vessels in your heart. Through this catheter, your doctor will run tests and identify where there are blockages. In gwheezie’s case, her doctor placed four stents, which are small metal coils, in the clogged arteries to help clear the blockages and prevent narrowing. Just days later, gwheezie returned home and is currently “doing really well.”

Gwheezie’s tweet was shared more than 25,000 times, and many women responded to to her by sharing their own equally scary experiences with having heart attacks. While some people, like Laura Wright, attested to the fact that “sometime’s [sic] women’s heart attacks feel very much like men’s,” with crushing chest pain, nausea, and arm pain, others revealed they too had suffered unusual symptoms.

One woman, Jennifer Laidlaw, shared her mother’s situation. She said she “went to the ER thinking it was really bad HEARTBURN,” she wrote.

Others mistook their symptoms as anxiety, or thought they had “slept wrong” on their neck.

The 7 heart attacks symptoms women need to know

This viral Twitter feed is an important reminder to listen to your body when it is sending you signs—and not to brush off any unusual symptoms as no big deal. In addition to chest pain, other heart attack symptoms in women can include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Profuse sweating
  • Mild pain in regions of the body such as the breastbone, upper back, shoulders, neck, or jaw
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Breathlessness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety

Learn more about heart attack symptoms in women on the American Heart Association. If you think you might be suffering from a heart attack, call 911 immediately—every second counts!

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/a25455684/heart-attack-symptoms-in-women-viral-tweet/