Archive for January, 2018

Photo: GIC

Mindfulness and meditation are all about cultivating an intimate relationship with yourself and the present moment, but these practices also boast transformative benefits for intimacy with your partner. Relationship intimacy involves emotional closeness, which is a key component of maintaining a meaningful relationship. In an age when busyness is our modern-day epidemic, and hyper-connectedness is the norm, mindfulness and meditation become lifelines for the success of our relationships.

The research is in! A meta-analysis published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Human Sciences and Extension found that mindfulness can be linked to profoundly satisfying, connected relationships. This meta-analysis looked at the results from 12 studies, including two mindfulness intervention studies. Overall, mindfulness was shown to enhance relationship connectedness and satisfaction. The practice of presence starts from within, but the benefits extend far beyond ourselves. Here are three reasons mindfulness and meditation will make you a better partner:

1. Meditation will help you be less reactive.

Neuroscience now validates what ancient yogis have known for years: that brain change happens through practices that connect the mind, body, and spirit. A consistent mindfulness practice decreases the amygdala’s density (the amygdala is a small part of the brain that acts as an alarm system, detecting threat), thus increasing our capacity to regulate our emotions in the face of anger, agitation, and fear. How does this translate to relationships? Think about a moment when you’re reacting to something your partner said or did, a moment when you’re feeling rejected, invalidated, or unloved. In these micro-moments, emotions such as anger, sadness, or fear often arise instantaneously in the nervous system. A mindfulness practitioner, however, can witness these emotions with objectivity, experiencing less reactivity due to changes in their brain. Reactivity is released through mindfulness and self-observation.

2. Mindfulness teaches us to speak from our hearts.

Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” That space is mindfulness. Most of us lead perpetually busy lives of inundated inboxes, endless texts, and social media scrolling; we have little to no space to actually slow down to take in this life we’re living alongside our loved ones. The practice of presence (whether we’re talking about formal meditation or a mindfulness practice such as belly breathing) guides us back home to our loving, compassionate heart. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education did a study on the neurobiology of love; their findings showed that through mindful presence, romantic partners are able to deactivate parts of their brains associated with negative emotions and criticism.

3. Meditation will help you stay calm—and it will rub off on your partner.

Research shows that meditators begin to value an embodied sense of calm and become more likely to engage in thoughtful, mindful, interpersonal connections with others. A study led by Birgit Koopmann-Holm of Stanford found that meditators placed a higher premium on calmness than non-meditators. Neuroscience tells us that mirror neurons (brain cells that “mirror” the behavior of another) act as catalysts for calm interactions with our partner. In other words, if we choose to embody a calm presence with our loved one no matter what is unfolding around us, our partner will likely mirror this very behavior in response. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to meet the moment with full acceptance and without judgment. When we gift our presence to the people around us, we enhance our capacity for joyful living, interconnectedness, and meaningful relationships.

In a world where distraction is pervasive, living in the present moment is the greatest gift me can give ourselves. Mindfulness and meditation are there to teach us that health is about You. We. All and help us find what we seek most: partnerships full of love, depth, and joy.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/relationship-meditation-makes-you-a-better-partner?utm_term=pos-3&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180131

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While a cesarean delivery is sometimes necessary and can be lifesaving, it may have serious long-term disadvantages for both mother and child, researchers report.

The analysis, in PLOS Medicine, pooled data from 80 studies including almost 30 million subjects.

Compared to vaginal delivery, C-sections were associated with a significant reduction in the risk for urinary incontinence and for pelvic organ prolapse, a dangerous weakening of the muscles that hold pelvic organs in place.

But for a pregnancy following a cesarean, there was a 17 percent increased probability of miscarriage and a 27 percent increased probability of stillbirth. The researchers also found nearly triple the probability for placenta accreta, in which the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall, and an increased chance of other placental problems.

Children delivered by cesarean had a 21 percent increased probability of asthma by age 12 and a nearly 60 percent increased likelihood of obesity up to age 5.

Still, the absolute risks of delivery-related problems were small. “Both kinds of delivery have very low risks of complications,” said the senior author, Dr. Sarah J. Stock, an obstetrician at the University of Edinburgh. “With placenta accreta, for example, the risk is one in 3,000, and it goes up to three in 3,000 with cesarean. These are rare but serious risks.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/well/family/cesarean-delivery-can-pose-long-term-risks-to-mother-and-child.html

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Credit: Shutterstock

Drinking probiotic-rich milk during pregnancy may decrease a woman’s risk of developing two pregnancy-related problems, a new study from Norway suggests. But the stage of pregnancy in which a woman consumes these probiotic-rich beverages appears to play a role.

Researchers found that women’s intake of probiotic milk during early pregnancy was linked with a lower risk for preterm delivery (delivery before the 37th week of pregnancy), compared with the risk for pregnant women who did not consume probiotic milks at all. They also found an association between probiotic-milk intake during late pregnancy and a lower risk for preeclampsia, according to the findings, which were published today (Jan. 23) in the journal BMJ Open.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication in which pregnant women have high blood pressure and a high level of protein in the urine. The condition can have systemic, or body-wide, effects.

Both conditions — preeclampsia and preterm delivery — are associated with a higher degree of inflammation in the body than can be expected in a normal pregnancy, said lead author Dr. Mahsa Nordqvist, an OB/GYN at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.

Probiotics — or “good” bacteria — might help reduce inflammation in the body and, therefore, potentially reduce the risk of these pregnancy complications, Nordqvist told Live Science. [8 Tips to Be a Probiotic Pro]

In the study, the researchers looked at data collected from about 70,000 pregnant women in Norway, who were participants in the long-running Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. As a part of that study, the women completed questionnaires about their health history and lifestyle habits at the 15th and 30th week of pregnancy, and provided information about their diets at the 22nd week of pregnancy.

The lifestyle questionnaires asked women about their intake of probiotic milk products before pregnancy, as well as during early and late pregnancy. Probiotic milk products are popular and widely available in Norway, Nordqvist noted.

Products such as kefir, milk containing the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, and yogurts with added probiotics might be considered comparable products to the probiotic milks described in the study, Nordqvist added. However, the researchers did not look at probiotic supplements because only a very small percentage of the women in the study said they used them.

About 23 percent of the women in the study reported that they drank probiotic milk before becoming pregnant, about 38 percent drank it during early pregnancy (meaning up until the 13th week of pregnancy) and 32 percent consumed probiotic milk during late pregnancy (between the 13th and 30th week of pregnancy). The women drank about 1.5 cups a day, on average, of milk products containing the live active bacteria.

The researchers found that drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of preeclampsia, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during late pregnancy. [9 Conditions Pregnancy May Bring]

The results appear to suggest that consuming probiotics late in pregnancy can lower the risk of preeclampsia by reducing symptoms, such as high blood pressure and protein in the urine, which tend to occur in the third trimester, Nordqvist said.

The timing of probiotic-milk intake also appeared to make a difference for premature delivery: Drinking probiotic milk in early pregnancy was linked to a 21 percent lower risk of preterm delivery, compared with not drinking probiotic milk during early pregnancy.

One explanation for this result is that preterm delivery can often be related to infection, which leads to inflammation in the body, Nordqvist said. The results suggest that if the body’s inflammatory response can be lowered at an early stage of pregnancy, this may lower the risk of giving birth too early, she said.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations. For example, the researchers weren’t able to evaluate which of the probiotic milk products or which strains of bacteria in them may have inflammation-lowering effects. In addition, the study did not prove cause-and-effect; instead, it showed an association between probiotic milk and these pregnancy complications.

Dr. Susanne Bathgate, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., said that the study was ambitious and that one of its strengths was that it looked at dietary information from a large number of pregnant women. Bathgate has researched preeclampsia but was not involved in the study.

Doctors currently recommend that pregnant women at high risk of preeclampsia take a low dose of aspirin daily in their second trimester, which is thought to help reduce inflammation, Bathgate said. As Nordqvist noted, many of the pathways involved in both preeclampsia and preterm birth are thought to be influenced by inflammation, and some inflammation may originate from the placenta, Bathgate said.

So, the idea that reducing inflammation might change pregnancy outcomes makes sense, but more research is needed before doctors can make recommendations that pregnant women drink probiotic milk to help prevent complications, Bathgate told Live Science. Probiotic milk may be a fairly common part of people’s diet in Norway, but it’s not in the United States, she said.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/61506-probiotic-milk-pregnancy.html

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If your new acquaintance does any of these things, you should probably stay away.

You know how damaging it can be to have a toxic person in your workplace, or in your life. Unfortunately, most of them don’t come with warning labels the way toxic chemicals do. Many of them seem very likable at first. After all, most toxic people are good manipulators, so getting you to like them is part of their toolkit.

Is there a way to tell early on–ideally the first time you meet–that someone will turn out to be a toxic person? While there’s no foolproof method to tell right away if a new friend or colleague will be a drag on your energy, mood, or productivity, there are some early warning signs many toxic people display. If you encounter any of these when meeting someone for the first time–and especially if you encounter several of them–proceed with caution:

1. They badmouth someone else.

I once went for an interview at a company where the CEO told me about the deficiencies he saw in his second-in-command. That seemed like a big red flag to me, and I was right–I tried working there on a part-time basis for a couple of months but quickly left when the CEO proved much too toxic to work with. If someone you meet criticizes or complains about a third party who isn’t present, that may be a sign that you’re dealing with a toxic person–and when you’re not around they’ll say bad stuff about you. (The exception is when the comment makes sense in context, for instance if someone criticizes the Democratic candidate when you’re at a Republican fundraiser.)

2. They complain.

Most toxic people are championship-level complainers. Listening to them gripe can be bad for your mood, your productivity, and maybe even your health. Plus, if you’re like many people, you’re in danger of getting sucked in, trying to fix whatever they’re unhappy about. That’s almost always a losing proposition. So if someone starts off your acquaintance with a lot of complaining, think hard about whether you want that person and their many dissatisfactions in your life.

3. They ask for special treatment.

You know who I mean. The person who expects you to accept their submission even though it’s a day or two past the deadline. The person who absolutely must get into your event for free even though everyone else is paying admission. If someone asks you for a special favor when you’ve only just met, just imagine what they’ll ask for once they get to know you better.

4. They boast.

If you’re meeting someone for a (formal or informal) job interview, it’s natural for them to talk about their accomplishments. In other situations, someone who bends your ear for five minutes about how successful their last project was or how high their revenue is trying too hard to influence your thinking. Be wary.

5. They put you on the defensive.

Sometimes this happens so subtly that you can’t even say for sure how it was done. But you suddenly feel the need to explain to this person you’ve barely met why you made the choices you did, or why your organization isn’t so bad after all. Someone who makes you feel like you have to constantly defend yourself, your company, or your beliefs is going to be exhausting to spend time with.

6. They make you work to please them.

This happens to me all the time, and I bet it happens to you, too. Someone tells you they just can’t find the app they need for what they want to do. Or they’ve put together a proposal, but it just isn’t quite right. Or all their hopes ride on their child getting into that one special school. Before you know it, you’re trying to write an app for them, or seeking out inside tips to improve their proposal, or calling all your friends to see if anyone you know happens to know someone on the admissions committee for the school they want.

Stop right there. Anyone who has you tying yourself in knots to help them when you’ve only just met will only manipulate you into greater and greater efforts as time goes on. And you already know they’re extremely difficult to please.

7. They don’t show interest in your concerns.

You’ve just had a 10-minute conversation with a new acquaintance and you already know where they grew up, that they got divorced six months ago, and that they just landed a promotion. Meantime, they don’t even know where you work or what you do for a living.

Someone who expects you to be interested in every aspect of their life but has zero curiosity about yours is highly likely to be a toxic person. Be on your guard.

8. They don’t make you feel good.

Do a gut check. How do you feel after talking with this person? How would you feel at the prospect of, say, spending an hour with them over lunch or coffee? If spending time with someone makes you tense or unhappy, there’s a decent chance that this is a toxic person. So if you feel negative, it’s worth trying to figure out why. Maybe this is someone from a different culture, or you feel intimidated by their intelligence or success, in which case you should probably try to overcome your resistance. But it could also be that this is a toxic person, and you should follow your instincts when they tell you to walk away.

Source: https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/heres-how-to-tell-if-someone-is-a-toxic-person-in-first-5-minutes.html?cid=cp01002cnbc&__source=facebook%7Cmakeit

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Photo: Elsa Noblet

We often hear about the importance of creating a vision board as a means of achieving our dreams, but what is a vision board really? Quite simply, it’s a tool for manifestation. We live in an intention-dependent universe where thoughts become things. Instead of letting another year just happen, how can you best use your time on this planet? You’ll want to make sure you’re being clear and deliberate about what you want to create in your life.

Here are three steps to creating a top-notch vision board:

1. Get clear.

Can you imagine sitting down in a restaurant and asking the waitress for “some food”? You’re technically following directions. You’re pleasant, you’re in an establishment where food is served, and you’re willing to wait and pay for the service—but you’re not being specific. So you won’t actually get what you want.

While we’re nearly a month into 2018, if you haven’t gotten clear on your goals for this year yet, trust me—there’s still time! Think of the Universe as a cosmic restaurant full of endless possibilities, but you have one very important job: You must get clear on your order. I created an exercise specifically for this reason: Finish Strong, Start Stronger. In this powerful guided visualization, I will walk you through each step, from celebrating your successes from the year behind you all the way through full a visualization of all that you want to achieve in 2018. You can even use this handy Design Your Dream 2018worksheet to keep track of your answers.

I’m also going to challenge you to pull the lens back and set some goals this year that are a little more big-picture than how many zeros you want in your bank account. How can you contribute to the greater good? Maybe it’s a charity you want to devote some time to or an impact you want to make on your community. Whatever it is, it should feel charming, not like work.

2. Get creative.

A vision board is quite simply a visual representation of these desires, and now that you’re crystal clear on those, it’s time for the fun part. You will need:

  • Any kind of board—a pin board, cork board, or simple poster board from the drugstore.
  • Double-sided tape or a glue stick.
  • Scissors.
  • 3-5 magazines to cut images and quotes from. (I like a mix of travel, international, fashion, home, yoga.)
  • Mementos and/or photos. Things that inspire you.
  • Your filled-out Design Your Dream 2018 worksheet.
  • Time. Carve out an hour or more to spend creating your board and envisioning your year.
  • Extra credit: Any art supplies that make you happy. Watercolors, stickers, or even crayons.
  • Double extra credit: Get cozy. Pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Light a candle if it makes you feel fancy. Relax and enjoy.

Photo: Emily Fletcher

First you’re going to want to go through the magazines and cut out words, photos, and images that are inspiring to you, and then go through and get really specific about everything else. There are things you can’t find in magazines (maybe a podcast you want to be a guest on or a charity you want to raise money for), so you would need to find digital images of those, put it all in a document, and print it out.

You could do categories if it feels charming, or you could just do it in a way that feels visually inspiring. Make it a real art project, and let nature and creativity flow through you. Place it all first, and then, instead of using a glue stick, go ahead and use some double-sided tape. This is a little pro tip, because the double-sided tape lasts a little bit longer and the glue stick can wear off.

3. Get lost.

My favorite vision-boarding tip might go against everything you have ever heard on the subject, but what I recommend is that you hide it. Burn it up in your fire pit, or take a gentler approach and hide it under your bed or in your closet somewhere.

Hear me out: You don’t need it anymore because you have already placed the order. After you order your food in a restaurant, you don’t keep pointing at the menu every time the waitress walks by. You don’t keep telling her how hungry you are or asking to see the chef—you trust that your order has been placed and that it is on the way to you. The same thing applies here. Surrender and trust that it is on the way. Or something more beautiful that you could not even yet imagine is on the way to you.

Detachment is paramount to successfully manifesting things in your life. It is the realization that your happiness does not lie on the other side of any of these things on your vision board. This is one of the most fundamental concepts from the Vedas: Our happiness, our bliss, our fulfillment always exist in one place and that’s inside of us, and they always exist in one time, and that is right now. We’re not making these vision boards so that we can go and acquire all these things to acquire happiness—instead, we meditate to access our bliss and fulfillment internally, and then we use our desires; we use these inspirations as an indicator of where nature wants to use us to deliver our fulfillment.

This is exactly why I founded Ziva Meditation: We are living in challenging times, and it’s more important than ever to get quiet and tap into that least excited state of awareness because that is where nature communicates to us most clearly. Where we’re able to hear all these beautiful little whispers, our intuition, our inspiration. This is divinity; this is nature; this is our higher self talking to us.

Want more ideas for how to build a vision board? Here’s a guide.

Souce: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-create-a-vision-board-to-help-you-get-exactly-what-you-want-in-2018?utm_term=pos-1&utm_source=mbg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180127

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What role does Instagram play in your life?

I decided to start @Vanillacooldance while my 27-year-old self was illegally residing in a flat with 17 roommates, unemployed and recently dumped. While I was not drowning my sorrows in a massive tub of ice cream, let’s just say I wasn’t at my best. By beginning to doodle, I was able to look at the comedic side of my ridiculous situation, and life.

I’m constantly on Instagram as both a comic artist and an art director. Looking for inspiration and new talent.

Nothing makes the world feel like a bit smaller, than when one of my posts takes off and I can see how many people – primarily women – relate to my stories. I hope the comics encourage my followers to laugh at themselves and their own insecurities.


What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

I would be grabbing my day-bag from a hostel in a foreign country and spending the day exploring.


What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?

In 2014 I quit my Advertising job in New York to solo backpack around Southeast Asia – where I ate lots of questionable street food and met people from all over the world.
I then swapped rice fields for windmills and moved to Amsterdam. Deciding to break from convention and to move abroad was a significant choice that has affected my life in many positive ways. I hope to encourage others to do the same.


If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Teleportation. That way I could instantly get from a man’s bed back to my own. Kidding…kinda! I would use this amazing superpower to travel all over the world. Especially to visit my friends and family back in the U.S.


What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Leaving my life in America to start completely from scratch in Amsterdam, with zero plan and an adventurous spirit.
I also successfully launched a fun and creative Ad-agency-inspired line of Bloody Mary’s perfected over a few tipsy afternoons in my kitchen. Created to restore creativity after a night out. This was a really fun project and led to my current job.


Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

To be honest, up until this point in my life I have been taking steps to achieve and do all of the things I dreamed of. That is except for marrying Gerard Butler, but I fear he would need to know who I am first before I can make that happen.


Where do you find inspiration?

From daily life, the funny situations I get myself into and way too many Tinder dates.


The best way to relax?

A glass…I mean…a bottle of red wine, and binge watching a new TV series.


If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?

Eleven from Stranger Things. First off, it would be a really easy dinner to make considering she loves Eggos. And, could you imagine all of the comic content I would get out of meeting a telekinetic?


A book or a film that transformed your life?

Before my travels, I read the book “A House in the Sky” – a memoir by Amanda Lindhout about her experiences traveling the world, often as a solo female traveler. As I read about all of her wonderful journeys, I thought to myself ‘I have to do this’…minus the part of being held hostage. The first half of the book, in which she is traveling to new countries and experiencing different cultures truly inspired me, so I decided to set off on the first backpacking adventure of my own through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. To find out how her story ends you have to read the book yourself. And to find out how mine ends, well I guess you have to follow my comics!


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The IQOS “heat-not-burn” tobacco product by Philip Morris.

Credit: Akio Kon/Bloomberg/Getty

A new tobacco device by Philip Morris, known as IQOS, shouldn’t go to market with the claim that it reduces disease risk compared with traditional cigarettes, a panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded today (Jan. 25), according to news reports.

But how exactly do these products work, and why did the FDA make this call?

The IQOS is a type of “heat-not-burn” tobacco product. These products could be thought of as “in the middle between [traditional] cigarettes and vaping products,” said William Shadel, associate director of the Population Health Program at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization.

The devices use disposable tobacco “sticks” that are heated to give off an aerosol, but do not burn. Specifically, these tobacco sticks contain processed tobacco along with a few other components, including water, glycerin and cellulose fibers, according to Philip Morris. The sticks are placed into a holder, which heats the tobacco through an electronically controlled “heating blade,” the company said.

The tobacco is heated up to a temperature of 662 degrees Fahrenheit (350 degrees Celsius), which is enough to create an aerosol, but not enough to burn it. (Tobacco in traditional cigarettes burns at a temperature of about 1,110 degrees Fahrenheit [600 degrees C], according to Philip Morris.) The product also comes with a charger to recharge the electronic holder. [10 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking]

Heat-not-burn products are different from electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), because the latter heat up and vaporize a liquid, which usually contains nicotine, Shadel said, while the former heats actual tobacco.

Philip Morris claims that, because IQOS doesn’t burn the tobacco, the product releases much lower levels of the harmful chemicals typically found in tobacco smoke. The company wants to sell the product with the claim that using the products reduces the risk of tobacco-related disease, compared with using traditional cigarettes.

But the FDA panel voted to reject this claim, saying that the company hadn’t provided enough evidence to show that its product lowers disease risk compared with cigarettes, according to Reuters. The panel did, however, endorse the claim that the product releases lower levels of toxic chemicals compared with traditional cigarettes.

Shadel said that this conclusion “seems about right based on the evidence available so far.”

In theory, heat-and-burn products could be safer because they don’t lead to the combustion of tobacco, Shadel said. But “there’s just not enough evidence that users will incur less risk” from using the products, Shadel told Live Science.

Shadel noted that most of the studies on IQOS have been conducted by Philip Morris, and much more research is needed by independent researchers who are not associated with the company to determine the safety of the product.

In addition, it’s “unclear whether or not enough smokers would actually switch to these products” to have a public health benefit, Shadel said.

The panel’s conclusion is just a recommendation, and in the coming months the FDA will make a final decision on whether Philip Morris can sell IQOS in the United States, and what claims the company will be able to make about the device, according to Reuters. The product is already available in 29 countries, according to Philip Morris.


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How Getting the Flu May Put You at Risk of a Heart Attack

Credit: Shutterstock

The flu can be a serious illness itself, but it may also increase the risk of having a heart attack, a new study from Canada finds.

The study found that patients’ risk of a heart attack was six times higher during the first week following a flu diagnosis, compared with their risk in the year before or the year following being sick with the flu.

The findings highlight the importance of getting a flu shot to prevent the disease, lead study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, a nonprofit research organization in Ontario focused on health care issues, said in a statement. “People at risk of heart disease should take precautions to prevent respiratory infections, and especially influenza, through measures including vaccinations and handwashing.”

People who are at risk for heart disease can include those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes or obesity, as well as those who smoke, have a family history of heart disease or are age 65 or older, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). People should see their doctor to help determine their risk of heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. [9 New Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy]

The study was published today (Jan. 24) in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Previous studies have suggested a link between the flu and heart attacks, but these studies had some important limitations; for example, they did not always confirm that patients had the flu using lab tests, according to the new paper.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed information from nearly 20,000 adults in Ontario who were ages 35 and older and had a laboratory-confirmed flu diagnosis from 2009 to 2014. Of these, 332 patients were hospitalized for a heart attack in the year before, the year after or during their flu infection. About half of these patients had diabetes, 40 percent had high levels of lipids (fats) in the blood and 85 percent had high blood pressure.

The researchers then looked at the rate of heart attacks during a seven-day period when patients had the flu (called the “risk interval”), and compared that with the rate of heart attacks during the year before or the year after this risk interval (called the “control interval”).

They found that, during the risk interval, there were 20 hospitalizations for a heart attack per week; compared with only about three hospitalizations per week during the control interval. There was no increase in heart attack risk after the first week of flu illness.

“Our findings … support international guidelines that advocate for influenza immunization in those at high risk of a heart attack,” Kwong said.

The findings also suggested that the risk of heart attack tied to the flu may be particularly high for those ages 65 and older, and those infected with a type of flu virus called influenza B virus.

There are several ways that having the flu could increase the risk of a heart attack. For example, inflammation caused by the body’s immune response to the virus may make the plaque inside blood vessels unstable, which could lead to an artery blockage, according to the Harvard Health Blog. In addition, when a person has the flu, the heart may need to work harder to pump blood through the lungs, which increases the amount of stress on the heart, according to the AHA.

The researchers noted that their study only involved patients whose illness was severe enough to require going to the hospital, and it’s not clear whether patients with milder infections would also be at an increased risk for a heart attack.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/61521-flu-heart-attack-risk.html

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Photo: MaaHoo Studio

If you’re feeling blue now that the holidays are over, you’re not alone. Lots of people feel a bit low as the days get darker and colder. But while many experience the winter blues, there are some who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is more severe. SAD can be quite debilitating and can cause feelings of sadness, irritability, sluggishness, and eating and sleep disturbances.

Although it’s likely to be caused by multiple factors, seasonal affective disorder has been most closely linked to lessened exposure to light since the days get shorter and darker throughout the fall and winter. This could lead to a cascade of physiological changes, including a disruption of the circadian rhythms, lower vitamin D levels, dysregulation of serotonin, and overproduction of melatonin. Couple this with post-holiday blues and a dislike of cold temperature, and you may find yourself begging for warmer, longer, sunnier days.

While SAD could affect anybody, the people who are more likely to be affected are female, living farther from the equator, with a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder, and younger in age. As a psychiatrist, I screen regularly for SAD in my patients and, over my years of practice, I have discovered many evidence-supported ways to help them maintain their mental health and well-being even over those darkest months. Here are some tried-and-true tips:

1. Recognize your patterns.

As the fall sets in, I’ve made it a habit to ask my patients about their mood patterns over the past several fall and winter seasons. Upon reflection, many people can start to recognize that their moods worsen during this time frame, and this knowledge is powerful. It enables us to work proactively to structure their winters and plan ahead of time to combat their seasonal blues.

2. Rule out medical causes.

Haven’t gotten around to that annual physical yet? Now might be a good time to visit your doctor. Various medical issues, including viral illnesses and endocrinological disorders such as thyroid dysfunction, can disguise themselves as a low mood in the winter. A lack of certain vitamins can also contribute, as seen below.

3. Try vitamin D.

Low vitamin D levels in particular have been associated with depressive symptoms. Further, vitamin D levels notoriously drop during the winter months. For this reason, many physicians will test your vitamin D levels and may suggest vitamin D supplementation to help boost your mood during the winter.

4. Rethink the winter.

Reframing your thoughts about the wintertime can be quite powerful. Consider the Scandinavian countries, which consistently score as the happiest countries on earth despite contending with long, dark, and cold winters. Many people in the darkest, most northern cities of these regions simply view wintertime differently. It’s often seen as a time that is cozy, a time for celebration and togetherness with loved ones. In fact, many actually prefer it to the summertime because of the unique festivals and activities (such as skiing) that can only be enjoyed in the wintertime.

5. Soak up the natural light.

Exposure to natural light can help with your low mood. Bundle up and try to get out of the house, even on cooler days, to get ample exposure to natural light. While in your house, open your shades to allow natural sunlight in. Perching yourself by those windows will give you a little boost from the natural light.

6. Create your own sunlight.

Lightboxes are widely recommended by physicians in the treatment of winter depression. Designed to mimic the sunlight, medical-grade lightboxes also come with UV filters that block out harmful UV rays that are damaging to the skin. A short but consistent 20- to 30-minute exposure to the light created by these lightboxes every morning can be highly effective with minimal side effects for most people. Since lightboxes are not consistently regulated, it’s important to seek a physician’s guidance when choosing one.

7. Seek professional help.

It might be one of the reasons above, but there could also be other explanations for your low mood this time of year. The holidays can stir up difficult family dynamics or feelings of sadness that we are left to contend with after the busyness of the holiday season ends. It can be incredibly powerful and effective to seek a therapist’s assistance in helping to explore and work through these emotions. In particular, cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be a powerful treatment option for SAD. A study from the University of Vermont Medical College reveals that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in treating SAD but also is highly effective in preventing relapses into SAD in subsequent winters.

8. Call a friend.

As the winter wears on, many of us can feel like withdrawing from our social lives. While enjoying cozy time at home may protect us from braving the cold, it can also result in avoidant and isolating behaviors that can leave us feeling lonely and sad. Reaching out to our friends and making sure that our social calendar remains active and fulfilling is a great way to combat those winter blues and help keep us feeling connected and supported.

9. Get moving.

Particularly in the chaos of the holidays, many of us can disrupt our regular exercise schedules and become very sedentary. Exercise is known to be protective for our mood, can lower levels of stress and, for many of us, holds a strong association with mental and physical well-being. While exercising outside gives you the dual benefit of natural-light exposure and physical activity, sometimes the weather can make that impossible. On those days, hitting the gym and, if possible, choosing exercise equipment closer to the window is ideal.

10. Stay structured.

Fight the urge to snooze in bed for that extra hour and instead opt to stick to your normal routine. Having regular sleep-wake times and sticking with your schedule can help to structure your day, keep you feeling productive, and combat the sluggishness that often occurs with the winter blues. Plus, even though our brains might trick us into sleeping for longer hours during those darker days, research has shown that excessive sleep is neither medically or mentally healthy.

11. Avoid these foods.

Certain dietary choices are linked to an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder, and studies are being conducted to examine how changing diet patterns contribute to increasing depressive symptoms, for example, of people indigenous to arctic areas. Maintaining good health through eating balanced and nutritious meals is essential in protecting yourself against SAD. Specifically, SAD is associated with increased carbohydrate cravings, so being mindful of simple carbohydrate intake and limiting intake of refined sugar could help curb irritability. Anti-inflammatory foods are increasingly recognized as powerful dietary choices to support good mental health at any time of the year.

12. Use alcohol moderately.

Excessive alcohol usage has also been linked to seasonal affective disorder. Although many people find themselves drinking alcohol a bit more during the holidays, alcohol is known to be a depressant and can affect your mood, behaviors, and sleep cycles, particularly if used regularly or excessively.

13. Plan a vacation.

If the wintertime is historically difficult for your mood, plan ahead to jet set to a warm-weather destination. Exposure to the brightness and warm weather can help to lift your mood and can be an exciting change to your routine. Alternatively, plan a fun vacation to a ski resort so you can enjoy snow-based activities and start to change your views on the wintertime!

While the above-mentioned tips are highly effective for most people, if you find yourself still struggling with your mood, it may be time to be evaluated by a physician. And please note that while the above information is helpful to know, it should not be taken for medical advice. Please see your own personal physician for medical advice if you’re experiencing seasonal depression!


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Pineapple: Health Benefits, Risks & Nutrition Facts
Pineapples grow on the central stalk of a large plant with swordlike leaves.

Credit: 9comeback / Shutterstock.com

Pineapples are tropical fruit that are rich in vitamins, enzymes and antioxidents. They may help boost the immune system, build strong bones and aid indigestion. Also, despite their sweetness, pineapples are low in calories.

Pineapples are members of the bromeliad family, and one of the few bromeliads to produce edible fruit, according to the biology department at Union County College. The fruit is actually made of many individual berries that fuse together around a central core. Each pineapple scale is an individual berry.

Pineapples’ nutritional benefits are as fascinating as their anatomy. “Pineapples contain high amounts of vitamin C and manganese,” said San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores. These tropical treats are also a good way to get important dietary fiber and bromelain (an enzyme).

“As well as having high amounts of manganese, which is important for antioxidant defenses, pineapples also contain high amounts of thiamin, a B vitamin that is involved in energy production,” Flores said.

For all its sweetness, one cup of pineapple chunks contains only 82 calories. Pineapples are also fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium. Not surprisingly, they do contain sugar, with 16 grams per cup.

Here are the nutrition facts for raw pineapple, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food labeling through the National Labeling and Education Act:

Serving size: 1 cup chunks (165 g)
Amount per Serving (%DV*)
*Percent Daily Values (%DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Calories 82 Calories from Fat 0
Amt per Serving %DV*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 120mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
  Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
   Sugars 11g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 131%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%

The nutritional profile for canned pineapple is different from raw pineapple. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, canned pineapple in light syrup has 131 calories per cup and 31.88 grams of sugar. It also contains fewer vitamins and minerals. If you do opt for canned pineapple, try to get it with no added sugar or look for a variety that is canned in fruit juice instead of syrup.

Immune system support

Pineapple contains all of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, according to the FDA. Vitamin C is a primary water-soluble antioxidant that fights cell damage, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. This makes vitamin C a helpful fighter against problems such as heart disease and joint pain.

Bone strength

Pineapple may help you keep standing tall and strong. The fruit contains nearly 75 percent of the daily-recommended value of the mineral manganese, which is essential in developing strong bones and connective tissue, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. One 1994 study suggested that manganese, along with other trace minerals, may be helpful in preventing osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

Eye health

Pineapples can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the eyes as people age, due in part to its high amount of vitamin C and the antioxidants it contains,” Flores said.


Like many other fruits and vegetables, pineapple contains dietary fiber, which is essential in keeping you regular and in keeping your intestines healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic. But unlike many other fruits and veggies, pineapple contains significant amounts of bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down protein, possibly helping digestion, according to the American Cancer Society.

Anti-Inflammatory benefits

Due to a complex mixture of substances that can be extracted from the core of the pineapple, well known as bromelain, pineapples can help reduce severe inflammation … and can reduce tumor growth,” Flores said. A variety of studies have indicated that bromelain may be helpful in treating osteoarthritis, though more research is needed.

Excessive inflammation is often associated with cancer, and according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, bromelain and other proteolytic enzymes have been shown to increase the survival rates of animals with various tumors. There is not yet, however, clinical evidence to show that such results will happen in humans.

Blood clot reduction

Flores noted that because of their bromelain levels, pineapples can help reduce excessive coagulation of the blood. This makes pineapple a good snack for frequent fliers and others at risk for blood clots.

Common cold and sinus inflammation

In addition to having lots of vitamin C, pineapple’s bromelain may help reduce mucus in the throat and nose, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. So if your cold has you coughing, try some pineapple chunks. Those with allergies may want to consider incorporating pineapple into their diets more regularly to reduce sinus mucus long term.

“Because pineapple is a great meat tenderizer, eating too much can result in tenderness of the mouth, including the lips, tongue and cheeks,” Flores said. “But, [it] should resolve itself within a few hours.” If it does not, or if you experience a rash, hives or breathing difficulties, you should seek a medical help immediately. You could have a pineapple allergy.

Flores pointed out a possible negative to pineapple’s high levels of vitamin C. “Because of the high amount of vitamin C that pineapples contain, consuming large quantities may induce diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or heart burn,” she said.

Additionally, extremely high amounts of bromelain can cause skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive menstrual bleeding, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Bromelain can also interact with some medications. Those taking antibiotics, anticoagulants, blood thinners, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, insomnia drugs and tricyclic antidepressants should be careful not to eat too much pineapple.

Eating unripe pineapple or drinking unripe pineapple juice is dangerous, reports the horticulture department at Purdue University. In this state, it is toxic to humans and can lead to severe diarrhea and vomiting. Eating a great deal of pineapple cores can also cause fiber balls to form in the digestive tract.

  • The word “pineapple,” derived from the Spanish word piña, was first used in 1398 to refer to a pinecone. This changed about 300 years later, with the word “pinecone” being introduced so pineapple could be used exclusively for the fruit.
  • Pineapples were discovered by Europeans in 1493 on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe.
  • Early attempts by Europeans to cultivate the fruit failed until they realized that the fruit needs a tropical climate to flourish. By the end of the 16th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced pineapples into their Asian, African and South Pacific colonies.
  • Because pineapples are very perishable, fresh pineapples were a rarity for early American colonists. Glazed, sugar-coated pineapples were a luxurious treat, and fresh pineapple itself became a symbol of prestige and social class.
  • Pineapples were first cultivated in Hawaii in the 18th century. Hawaii is the only U.S. state in which they are still grown.
  • Other countries that commercially grow pineapples include Thailand, the Philippines, China, Brazil and Mexico.
  • Pineapple canneries use every bit of the pineapple. The skins, core and end portions are used to make a variety of products, including vinegar, alcohol and animal food.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/45487-pineapple-nutrition.html

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