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Archive for June, 2018

Three-quarters of Americans are falling far short when it comes to exercise, and the South and Midwest bear the dubious distinction of having the most couch potatoes, a new government report shows.

Only about one in four adults (23 percent) meets minimum federal guidelines for physical activity, according to researchers from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics.

Dr. William Roberts, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine, said the only surprise is that the percentage of Americans meeting the exercise target “is as high as it is.”

But he suggested that it’s never too late for those who aren’t active.

“Regular exercise reduces the prevalence of heart disease, [high blood pressure], diabetes, obesity, depression and many other medical conditions,” he said. “It is dose-dependent, and basically free.”

In the study, investigators Debra Blackwell and Tainya Clarke surveyed exercise habits among more than 155,000 American men and women, aged 18 to 64, between 2010 and 2015.

The goal was to see whether Americans were meeting the most recent recommendations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) back in 2008. Activities performed during work or while commuting were not included.

The 2008 guidelines advocate muscle training at least twice weekly, alongside either 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobics (or a mix of both).

The 23 percent figure shifted little throughout the five-year study, the investigators found. And the good news is that while three-quarters of Americans didn’t meet the thresholds, the 23 percent who did exceeded the federal goal of getting 20 percent adherence by 2020.

The bad news, however, is that the report also found huge geographical disparities, with activity levels in some states dipping far below or far above the national average.

“Fourteen states and the District of Columbia had significantly higher percentages of adults meeting the guidelines than the national average, while 13 states had percentages that were significantly below the national average,” Blackwell said.

Among men, Washington, D.C., topped the rankings, with just over 40 percent of residents meeting the guidelines. But in South Dakota, less than 18 percent of male residents made the exercise grade.

Colorado came out on top among women, said Blackwell, with nearly one-third meeting the guidelines. By contrast, Mississippi came in dead last, with only about one in 10 women achieving minimum standards.

As to what might explain regional differences, Blackwell said “there are likely many factors that play a role,” including social and cultural backgrounds, economic status and job status.

Blackwell and Clarke found that states that were home to more professional or managerial workers met higher exercise thresholds. Similarly, states that had fewer unemployed adults encumbered by fair-to-poor health or disabilities also registered higher exercise rates.

Gender also mattered, as less than 19 percent of all women met HHS exercise goals.

But sedentary people who get off the couch and start moving actually have “the most gain in health benefit for any group of people,” noted Roberts, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota.

“Or put another way,” he said, “the same increase in activity benefits a sedentary person by a far greater amount than a similar increase in an already moderately active person, and even more so than a vigorously active person.”

So what’s an aspiring exerciser to do?

“‘Well’ people can start with a five-minute walk, and add a minute a day — more or less — to gradually increase activity over a period of weeks to months,” Roberts said. “Once at 30 to 60 minutes nearly every day of the week, picking up the pace is OK. Any physical activity from walking to running to dancing to biking is OK. The goal is to move.”

The findings were reported in the June 28 issue of the National Health Statistics Reports.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about the exercise guidelines.

SOURCES: Debra Blackwell, Ph.D., statistician/demographer, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; William Roberts, M.D., professor, department of family medicine and community health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and past president, American College of Sports Medicine; June 28, 2018, National Health Statistics Reports

Source: https://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/just-1-in-4-americans-gets-enough-exercise-735267.html

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Meat and fish aren’t the only sources of protein. Veggies, legumes, and other vegetarian foods can also load you up with this power nutrient.

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There lots of good reasons to go vegetarian. For one, there are major health benefits: People who eat more plant-based protein tend to weigh less and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than people who eat a lot of meat, and some research shows a meatless diet reduces your risk of death from any cause. Even if you’re not interested in going fully meatless, simply cutting back on animal protein could have a positive impact on your health.

But if you go vegetarian, how are you going to get enough protein? Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass, keeping you full between meals, and ensuring every cell in your body is operating properly.

Don’t sweat it—we figured it out for you. There are plenty of other sources of protein besides meat, and they’re incredibly good for your body. Here, we’ve ranked 20 high-protein vegetables, legumes, and minimally processed meat alternatives.


Edamame

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Protein: 18 g per 1-cup serving (cooked)

Talk about healthiest appetizer ever—just a cup’s worth of edamame (or cooked soybeans) packs a huge protein punch. Be sure to pick an organic variety, though, as most soybeans in the US are genetically modified and heavily treated with pesticides.

Tempeh

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Protein: 16 g per 3 oz serving

Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and shaping it into a dense cake that can be sliced and pan-fried like tofu. It’s nutty, chewy, and packs significantly more protein and fiber than tofu—and because it’s fermented, it’s easier to digest for some.

Try this recipe: Tempeh Meatballs

Tofu

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Protein: 8 to 15 g per 3 oz serving

Ah, tofu, the classic vegetarian blank slate made from curdled soymilk that’s wonderful pan-fried, sautéed in a stir-fry, and even scrambled. Though it’s not quite as protein-packed as tempeh, its taste may be more tolerable. Opt for organic varieties to avoid genetically modified soy and funky pesticides. Then try the versatile protein in one of these 7 delicious recipes guaranteed to make you like tofu.

Lentils

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Protein: 9 g per ½-cup serving

Low-cal, high-fiber, and high-protein lentils can be morphed into a nutrient-dense side dish, veggie burger, or even whipped into a hummus-like dip. Bonus: They’ve been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.

Black Beans

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Protein: 7.6 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)

Black beans are also packed with heart-healthy fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and a range of phytonutrients.

Lima Beans

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Protein: 7.3 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)

What, you haven’t had these since you were 10? Well, good news: In addition to filling protein, lima beans contain the amino acid leucine, which may play a big role in healthy muscle synthesis among older adults.

Peanuts or Peanut Butter

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Protein: 7 g per ¼-cup serving (or 2 Tbsp peanut butter)

Not only are peanuts and peanut butter great for munching and whipping up classic childhood comfort food, they’re also super versatile—really, you can even use them in a pizza. They’ve also been shown to help you eat less at lunch if you consume them at breakfast—aka the second-meal effect. PB and banana, anyone? Just make sure to use a peanut butter that’s 100% nuts and doesn’t contain added sugars, like Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter.

Wild Rice

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Protein: 6.5 g per 1-cup serving (cooked)

Move over, quinoa. Wild rice is the protein-rich grain you should be gravitating toward. With a nutty taste and slightly chewy texture, it’s way more satisfying, too. Use this ultimate guide to cooking whole grains.

Chickpeas

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Protein: 6 g per ½-cup serving

Permission to eat all the hummus—well, maybe not all of it, but chickpeas’ combo of protein and fiber make for one healthy dip. Try it slathered on sandwich bread in place of mayo, or serve up one of these four ridiculously tasty hummus recipes with veggie slices. You can even use chickpeas to make these super-easy Flourless Banana Blender Muffins when you’re hankering for something sweet.

almonds
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Protein: 6 g per ¼-cup serving

Along with protein, almonds deliver some serious vitamin E, which is great for the health of your skin and hair. (These are the 25 best foods for your skin.) They also provide 61% of your daily recommended intake of magnesium, which can help curb sugar cravings, soothe PMS-related cramps, boost bone health, and ease muscle soreness and spasms.

Chia Seeds

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Protein: 6 g per 2 Tbsp

Chia seeds pack a ton of protein in those pint-sized orbs, which are also a great source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. Bonus: Omega-3s help stimulate the satiety hormone leptin, which signals your body to burn these fats instead of storing them.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal

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Protein: 5 g in ¼-cup serving (dry)

Steel-cut oats aren’t just a solid source of protein; they also have a lower glycemic index than rolled oats. This means they don’t spike blood sugar as much, so you’re likely to be more satisfied and experience fewer cravings after eating them.

Cashews

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Protein: 5 g per ¼-cup serving

In addition to a decent protein punch, cashews contain 20% of the recommended intake of magnesium, along with 12% of the recommended intake of vitamin K—two essential bone-building nutrients. (Here are 4 things that can happen if you don’t get enough magnesium.)

Pumpkin Seeds

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Protein: 5 g per ¼-cup serving

Pumpkin seeds aren’t just a super convenient way to get a dose of satiating protein, they’re total nutrient powerhouses, packing about half the recommended daily intake of magnesium, along with immune-boosting zinc, plant-based omega-3s, and tryptophan—which can help ease you into a restful slumber.

Potatoes

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Protein: 4 g in 1 medium white potato

Another stealth source of protein! Despite having a reputation for being pretty much devoid of all nutrition, a medium-sized spud actually contains 4 g of protein, along with about 20% of the recommended daily intake of heart-healthy potassium.

Spinach

spinach
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Protein: 3 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)

Sure, 3 g may not sound like a lot, but for a green veggie, it is. Still, don’t just make a salad and call it a day. Cooking this green is the secret to upping its protein content.

Corn

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Protein: 2.5 g per ½-cup serving

Like potatoes, corn often gets put into the “plants with no redeeming qualities” category, but paired with protein-rich veggies and legumes, it can nicely round out a protein-packed plant-based dish. Pick organic or non-GMO fresh or frozen varieties, though, as most conventional corn has been genetically modified.

Avocado

avocado
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Protein: 2 g per ½ avocado

This fruit is creamy, dreamy, and super filling, thanks to its bend of monounsaturated fatty acids and a bit of protein.

Broccoli

broccoli
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Protein: 2 g per ½-cup serving (cooked)

Broccoli’s not only an awesome source of fiber, its protein content is surprising, too (for a veggie anyway). And you can’t go wrong with a vegetable that’s been proven to deliver cancer-preventing properties.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts
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Protein: 2 g per ½-cup serving

These little green guys get a bad rap in the taste department—especially the frozen variety—but they’re actually nutritional superstars. In addition to protein, Brussels sprouts pack hefty doses of potassium and vitamin K.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/a20514733/high-protein-vegetables-and-plant-based-food/

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Post traumatic stress disorder is more common than you think, and women are more than twice as likely to develop it than men.

Most people will experience a traumatic event at some point in their lives, whether they’ve lived it themselves, witnessed it, or heard about it happening to a friend or family member.

In fact, five out of 10 women in the United States—yes, half—will experience one of these events, like a tragic car accident or sexual assault. When this happens, it’s normal and expected for those affected to act differently afterward—nightmares, being hyper-alert, or avoiding the place where the trauma happened, for example.

But if those behavioral changes last longer than a month or two, it could signal something more lasting than that initial after-shock: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“After a traumatic event, for a little while, anybody would experience some after-events like upsetting memories,” says Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, PhD, acting deputy director at the National Center for PTSD. “But as time passes, a lot of people notice that they start to feel better, and they notice that those difficulties start to decrease. But for a smaller subset of people, even after a couple of months, these types of problems remain, and that’s when we would think about diagnosing PTSD.”

While PTSD doesn’t discriminate, women are more than twice as likely as men to develop the condition at some point in their lives. It can happen at any time to any woman of any age. Here’s what you need to know.

How does PTSD develop?


PTSD is a collection of symptoms that develop after an extremely traumatic experience that involves exposure to a stressor. In this case, there could have been a threat of potential death, serious injury, or sexual violence, says Gloria Kardong, MD, adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford University Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

That last stressor could be partially to blame for the huge disparity in PTSD between men and women. After all, 1 in every 6 American women will be the victim of sexual assault at some point during their lifetimes, according to RAINN.

Although the psychological and physiological causes of PTSD are still being researched, people who have already been exposed to trauma or who are already experiencing depression or anxiety are at higher risk, says Wiltsey Stirman. The same is true for those who experience ongoing trauma or were injured during the event.

But one important factor can also determine whether a person’s post-traumatic-event behaviors develop into PTSD: the support they get afterward. “If people have supportive people that they can talk with about what happened and how they’re feeling, they’re less likely to experience PTSD,” says Wiltsey Stirman.

Especially since there are often feelings of shame and guilt associated with a traumatic event, victims might be less apt to talk about it, and if it’s not well-received when they do, that could ultimately lead to them experiencing PTSD, says Wiltsey Stirman.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?


In order to receive a PTSD diagnosis, you must have symptoms that fall under four categories.

You relive your trauma

This means you can experience upsetting memories and thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares, all of which cause you emotional distress, says Wiltsey Stirman. If you have PTSD, you will continue to relive your trauma a month or more after it occurred.

You avoid things that remind you of what happened

You might completely shy away from reminders of the trauma or the emotions associated with it. “That might mean that people aren’t going to places that remind them of what happened, or they might avoid crowds because crowds now feel dangerous,” says Wiltsey Stirman.

But it can also look like people staying busier than usual. “You might see someone who seems to be functioning at a really high level, but part of what they’re doing is trying to stay so busy that they don’t even actually have much time to think about what happened,” says Wiltsey Stirman.

Your way of thinking changes

PTSD can seriously mess with your head. You may have a hard time feeling positive emotions or view the world as being dangerous as a whole. “They may develop a sense of blame or responsibility for the trauma or results of the trauma and develop an altered worldview,” says Kardong.

Because of those changed perceptions, you might start to lose trust in other people, which can also affect their interpersonal relationships, says Wiltsey Stirman.

You’re constantly on alert

The final cluster of symptoms involves feeling on edge, easily startled, or irritable, which could cause you to have difficulty sleeping or concentrating. “People kind of stay in a state of what we call hyperarousal,” says Wiltsey Stirman. Because of that hyperarousal, you start feeling constantly unsafe, which results in more reactive behaviors, like not wanting to get in a car if the traumatic event you experienced was a car accident.

The important thing to recognize is that all of these signs can impact each person in a unique way. “Just from the variety of different ways they can manifest, it can look pretty different in different people,” says Wiltsey Stirman. So if you find yourself experiencing some mix or variation of these symptoms a month or more after the event, it’s worth scheduling an appointment with your therapist or health care provider.

How is PTSD treated?


Living with PTSD can be extremely debilitating for those affected. “PTSD can adversely affect every area of the person’s life and make daily living almost intolerable,” says Kardong. Because of the symptoms and effects, PTSD can kill your self-esteem and mood while boosting your anxiety, all of which can affect family, personal, and professional relationships.

But there are several treatment options available for PTSD that have been proven to work. “What we know is that certain forms of psychotherapy seem to work better than medications,” says Wiltsey Stirman.

The first line of therapy with PTSD is trauma-focused treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to help you process the memories you’ve been avoiding. You also take a look at how you’ve been making sense of what happened. These treatments take about 8 to 16 sessions, says Wiltsey Stirman.

If the trauma-focused treatments don’t seem to work or aren’t available, there is also present-centered therapy, which focuses on how the trauma affects your day-to-day life and problem-solves for those effects. To figure out which treatment might be best for you, the National Center for PTSD offers a Treatment Comparison Chart that breaks the details down even further.

Plus, unlike other mental health conditions like depression, once PTSD is treated, it’s unlikely for someone to experience a relapse. “This is not something people have to live with their whole lives,” says Wiltsey Stirman.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/a21965989/ptsd-signs-symptoms/

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From produce stands to a juice shot to the beauty aisle, turmeric is everywhere these days. And it should be. The spectacular health benefits of this ancient root are well-researched and universally recognized—particularly for its effects on reducing inflammation.

You may already be blending turmeric into your daily morning smoothie or throwing it on salmon with abandon, but as a relative newcomer to American spice racks and palates, its flavor and superpower potency can still be something of a mystery as an easy, everyday food ingredient. Which is especially important since curcumin, the powerful medicinal compound that gives turmeric its health benefits, is best consumed in food, with fat and pepper.

So what exactly is turmeric—and what is it good for?

Turmeric is a rhizome (underground root stem) of the leafy Curcuma longa plant. Also known as Indian saffron, turmeric has been a must-have ingredient in Indian cooking and medicine for thousands of years.

In India, everyone from mothers to ayurvedic practitioners uses it for a wide range of medicinal purposes, including:

  • to support a healthy inflammatory response
  • to treat infections due to its antimicrobial and antifungal properties
  • to nourish healthy joint mobility and alleviate arthritis symptoms
  • to relieve occasional nasal and throat congestion
  • to maintain a healthy digestive and cardiovascular system

Turmeric is actually indigenous to India but also cultivated in countries like Burma and Indonesia and can be found throughout the tropics, which is why it’s well-known and often found in many cuisines throughout the world but only recently making its way with such popularity to our shores.

There are multiple ways to consume turmeric, making it easy to incorporate into your daily diet. You can find the distinctly yellow root as a ground-up spice, in its original whole root form, or as a sippable juice.

What makes turmeric such a superfood medicinal powerhouse is that it is the only readily available edible source of curcumin, a compound so rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions that it has been shown to protect every organ in the body. Filled with naturally occurring minerals like potassium, B6, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, turmeric helps purify the blood and acts as an antioxidant. In ayurveda, it’s considered to support a healthy heart, liver, lungs, and both the circulatory and nervous systems.

Turmeric is best absorbed into your body if you use it combined with a bit of fat and something warming like ginger or black pepper, which makes the curcumin more bioavailable. In fact, combining it with black pepper to use in a marinade on meats enables protection from free radicals and toxins that are often produced when cooking animal products at high heat.

In ayurveda, turmeric is considered tridoshic, meaning it is beneficial for everyone. Its heating quality balances kapha and vata doshas (mind-body types), and its bitter taste balances pitta.

Photo: @AnnaPustynnikova

I use turmeric every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Here are some of my favorite ways to get my turmeric fix in first thing in the morning:

Golden scramble

Mix turmeric into a spoonful of ghee and coat a frying pan in the mixture before you scramble your morning eggs. Don’t forget to top with freshly ground pepper.

Golden quesadilla

Sprinkle turmeric onto the cheese in your breakfast quesadilla. Finish with spinach, tomato, onion, and some black pepper.

Golden oatmeal

Combine oats, hemp milk (or milk of choice), turmeric, and a pinch of ginger for a golden porridge. Top with nut butter, raw honey, and cinnamon.

Golden pancakes

Add a pinch of ginger and turmeric into your favorite pancake mix.

Golden tea

Add turmeric, ginger, and a splash of hemp milk into your morning tea.

Golden smoothie

Juice a knob of fresh turmeric and add to your favorite smoothie. Add a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger for absorption and additional benefits.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/turmeric-breakfast-recipes

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Is that new bump on your skin completely harmless—or something to worry about?

skin issues

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You look at your body in the mirror and something red, brown, or pink is staring back at you—wait, where’d that new spot come from? Of course, your brain jumps to the worst possible conclusion: skin cancer.

But before you freak out, you should know there are lots of causes for a new spot on your skin, and many are completely harmless (even if they are annoying to look at or deal with).

If a new spot turns up, you should still make your dermatologist aware of it, advises Michelle Pelle, MD, dermatologist and medical director at MedDerm Associates in San Diego. This way, you can immediately rule out something more sinister.

Here, a breakdown of all the not-so-serious skin spots (and a couple of concern), how to identify them, and what you can do to return your skin to its former glory.

Cherry Angioma


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A cherry angioma can look like a little red bump, though it may lie completely flat on your skin. It’s actually a cluster of dilated blood vessels.

“Patients will come in and say they keep getting more and more,” says Nada Elbuluk, MD, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “And it’s true, you get them as you age,” she says. They can also run in families—so if your older sister has some, chances are you will, too.

The good news: they’re totally benign. If you want them removed, Dr. Pelle treats them with IPL (intense pulsed light).

Skin Tags


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Skin tags are harmless fleshy growths that often pop up in clusters. They can be annoying—especially if they’re located around your bra strap or in a spot that your clothing tends to rub.

That constant friction can make them irritated and inflamed, but if your skin tag is not bothering you, you don’t have to remove it. And if they are? Don’t try to get rid of them yourself by cutting or scraping them off.

“People will use non-sterile tools and come in with inflamed, irritated, and infected skin,” Dr. Elbuluk says. The only safe course is to see your derm, who will either freeze or numb it before snipping it off.

Warts


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If you’ve ever dealt with a wart, you know just how stubborn they can be. Warts are actually caused by human papillomavirus, which consists of several strains that can affect various parts of your body (yep, including your genitals.)

The good news is, they’re typically harmless and painless if they appear on other parts of your body, like your hands or face. However, plantar warts can develop on the soles of your feet, which can become painful and interfere with running or walking, since you’re constantly putting pressure on it.

Resist the urge to yank it off yourself, because that just opens the gates for infection. Instead, talk to your derm, who will first perform a biopsy to make sure it’s not skin cancer. Then, he or she can remove it with prescription meds, laser treatment, or by freezing or burning it off. Then, make sure you take these steps to prevent another wart from popping up.

Dermatofibroma


dermatofibroma
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY

You’ll find a dermatofibroma most often on your arms and legs, and they can be pink or brown. The bump is made up of fibrous scar tissue, which can form as a reaction to something like a bug bite or ingrown hair.

“A patient will come in and tell me that she’s had this bump that’s been on her skin for years and it never goes away,” Dr. Elbuluk says.

Like a skin tag or cherry angioma, these are perfectly harmless. But because it can look like a mole, you’ll want a derm to take a look to determine which one it is, as “moles can change into melanoma, but a dermatofibroma does not,” says Dr. Pelle.

Solar Lentigines


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You know them by their more common name: sun spots. They look like a cluster of moles that appear in sun-exposed areas like your arms, face, neck, upper chest, and legs. The good news? While they’re related to how much sun exposure you’ve gotten, they don’t develop into skin cancer, says Dr. Elbuluk.

The bad? They’re hard to tell apart from moles that could turn cancerous. Also, having a lot of them makes it even harder for you to examine your skin yourself—all the more reason to get an annual skin check from a board-certified dermatologist. If they are sun spots, here are 3 ways to get rid of them.

Seborrheic Keratosis


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Seborrheic keratosis is a dark, scaly, benign crusty overgrowth of the top layer of your skin, explains Dr. Elbuluk. These are common as you reach middle age and beyond. Your derm can remove them by cutting them off, using liquid nitrogen, or treating them with a laser.

But be warned: “Because it’s benign, insurance won’t cover it unless it’s in a bad spot, like on your collar, and chronically irritated,” Dr. Elbuluk notes.

Tinea Infection


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Tinea can look like a small red birthmark or discoloration—almost like a stain on your skin. But these spots are actually a kind of fungal infection, including ringworm and athlete’s foot, according to the National Institutes of Health. Tinea comes in various shapes and sizes, and the kind that infects your skin can spread (and infect other people) or become worse if not treated.

Fortunately, treatment is often as simple as washing the infected area with a prescription soap or shampoo, which your derm can hook you up with.

Basal or Squamous Cell Carcinoma


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Yes, this is one of the bad ones—but many people don’t realize there are multiple types of skin cancer, Dr. Elbuluk says. “I’ll ask if someone has ever had skin cancer, and they will tell me, ‘No, just a basal cell.’”

Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common types of skin cancer; more than 3 million people are diagnosed with them each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Unlike a benign mole, they often appear red, scaly, or pearly in appearance. While they’re not as deadly as melanoma, Dr. Elbuluk still recommends telling your derm if a mole looks odd or is growing, changing, or becoming symptomatic (bleeding, itching, etc.).

The best way to keep skin cancer away? Slather on the sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. You can find a few derm-approved options below.

Melanoma


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Melanoma isn’t as common as basal or squamous cell carcinomas—it only accounts for about 1 percent of skin cancers—but it’s far more deadly if you don’t catch it early, says the ACS.

That’s why taking note of any new spots on your skin is so important. If you catch a suspicious mole early enough, your dermatologist can remove it and prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of your body—which can save your life.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/beauty/a20479387/types-of-skin-spots/

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You probably know at least one person who keeps a diary, gratitude journal, or bullet journal. But can writing be a legitimate therapy to improve our mental health? According to science, yes. Writing is an accessible and cost-effective option that has demonstrated excellent benefits. And the best part about it is that it’s available whenever you need it, and you can take it with you wherever you go. Whether it’s 4 a.m. when you can’t sleep, after the first day of work at your new job, or even on your wedding day, it’s always there when you need it.

The truth is, almost everyone can benefit from some kind of writing therapy because everyone has problems, and writing things down can ultimately help you understand how you’re responding to the things that are happening around you. Self-understanding and self-awareness are crucial elements of personal growth.

Want to try writing therapy for yourself? If you’re dealing with a serious mental health issue, it’s always best to consult your doctor or an expert before changing anything about your treatment strategy. But once you’ve done that, simply pick out a method outlined below and put pen to paper. It’s as simple as that!

1. Free writing

This type of writing therapy is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is write down whatever comes to mind. It could be images in your mind, thoughts, events, sights, smells, or sounds. Be free and don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense at the time. When you go back and read what you put on paper, you’ll likely be able to draw some knowledge or perspective. Regardless, writing things down freely can have a cathartic effect.

2. Expressive writing

This type of writing therapy can help us deal with negative feelings and trauma. Keep in mind, however, that if a trauma is still raw and you feel overwhelmed, it may be too soon to deal with it through writing. Be patient with yourself. If you are ready to try expressive writing, start by putting your deepest thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event down on paper. Explore how this trauma has affected you in your life. You may write for as little as five minutes or as long as 20 minutes. Writing down things that bother you can often help you stop ruminating on them. Physical health has been found to improve through expressive writing. Some examples include:

It is important to note that both Dr. Pennebaker, one of the major researchers on expressive writing, and Dr. Susan Lutgendorf, a health psychology researcher who has also done research on the subject, stress that in order for expressive writing therapy to yield benefits, people must find meaning in the traumatic memories and allow themselves to feel all the associated emotions.

3. Reflective journaling

In your reflective diary or journal, you write down your positive or negative experiences, any associated thoughts, and what you learned from them. For instance, if you participated in an event or class, write down what happened and include your thoughts and ideas about what you learned and how it helped you grow as a person. It’s best to reflect as soon as possible after the event; don’t wait too long, or you won’t remember all the details! This is why you should always have your journal nearby and make it a habit to make regular entries.

One of the best things about a reflective journal is that when you look over at previous entries, you can gain new insight. It’s always rewarding to see how far you’ve come. Reflective journaling has been found to encourage critical thinking and self-reflection, and classes that involved reflective journaling yielded positive results, such as the development of cultural humility.

4. Gratitude journaling

It’s always a good practice to slow down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself what you’re grateful for. It’s even better to write these things down once or twice a week. Gratitude induces brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex, areas that are associated with moral cognition, value judgment, and theory of mind. Dr. Robert Emmons, an eminent researcher on gratitude, has found that counting blessings by gratitude journaling can have a positive effect on the subjective well-being of participants. Even more? Research has shown that gratitude can help you sleep better, care for your own health, and help reduce depression.

5. Letter writing

Do you have unfinished business with a friend, partner, or family member? Perhaps you wish to fully express yourself to someone but haven’t been able to or never will. You can write everything that you want to say in a letter, and you don’t even have to send it. This type of therapy will help you release the burden you may be carrying and can be an intensely cathartic experience.

6. Poetry writing

When writing a poem, you draw from your own life experiences to craft something that expresses your thoughts and feelings, allowing them to take flight. It’s been found that palliative care patients—as well as health care professionals have been able to use poetry—find meaning and perspective in cases of “serious illnesses and losses toward the end of life.”

Many people already know the therapeutic benefits of reading, but not as many people realize that they can simply turn to a pen and a notepad for some serious mental health support. You may finally be able to let go of the hurt you’ve been carrying once you write an unsent letter to someone that wronged you in the past. Perhaps you can allow yourself to feel the negative feelings, and not numb out, when you feel ready to write down how a particular traumatic event affected you and reflect on what it means to you.

Writing therapy will always be there for you, even if a therapist cannot be present. So take advantage of this accessible therapy, and write your heart out!

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/can-you-really-use-writing-as-therapy

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Following a prediabetes diet will help you lower your blood sugar and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.

GETTY IMAGESENRIQUE DÍAZ / 7CERO

More than a third of Americans have a serious health condition that puts them at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes—and 90 percent of them don’t know it.

Called prediabetes, this condition is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Those with prediabetes typically have some insulin resistance, or their pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to keep their blood sugar at a healthy level.

Although those with prediabetes have up to a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes over the next 5 to 10 years, with lifestyle changes—like eating foods that lower blood sugar—you can reduce your risk.

“Prediabetes is a warning sign that you have been insulin resistant for some time,” says Hillary Wright, RD, director of nutrition for the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health. “However, many are able to prevent or postpone diabetes.”

In addition to becoming more active, losing weight, decreasing stress, quitting smoking, and getting proper sleep, eating healthier can help prevent or reverse prediabetes. Start with the tips below, and talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes for more personalized advice.


HOW TO EAT TO PREVENT (OR REVERSE) DIABETES

Eat every 3 to 6 hours

Have breakfast within an hour or two of waking up and then eat a snack or meal every three to six hours after that, says Rebecca Denison, RD, doctor of integrative medicine and diabetes educator at Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s Geckle Diabetes and Nutrition Center. This will add up to three to six total meals and snacks daily. It takes about four to six hours for your body to digest a meal. “You want to eat just a teeny bit before you actually need it so that your body doesn’t have to figure out how to keep your blood sugar stable,” Denison explains.

Balance your meals

Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Split the other half in two between protein and whole-food carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, legumes, or ancient grains such as amaranth, millet, or farro. These complex carbohydrates have more fiber and nutrients than processed carbs such as white rice, bread, and pasta, and the fiber helps control blood sugar levels.

Eat your bigger meals earlier in the day

Follow the adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.” While a small bedtime snack of about 100 to 150 calories is OK, be sure supper is at least four hours before retiring for the day. “Eating more at the end of the day may escalate the risk of obesity and diabetes,” explains Wright, author of The Prediabetes Diet Plan. “Evidence suggests you may need to secrete more insulin to regulate your blood sugar compared to eating earlier in the day.”

Spread out your carbs

In addition to eating small meals at night, it’s best to limit dishes piled high with pasta, rice, sugar, and other carbs. “When you focus on whole-food carbs spread throughout the day, the less pressure there’s going to be on your pancreas to constantly chug out insulin,” Wright says. You want your blood sugar to roll like hills over the course of the day rather than spike like mountain peaks and plummet to valleys, she adds.

Be mindful of portions

If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce your risk of types 2 diabetes. Eating smaller portions can help you cut calories and still feel satisfied. Wright recommends thinking of your hunger on a scale of 1 (not hungry) to 10 (starved) to help with portions. “People are more mindful about their food choices if they eat when their hunger is a 5 or 6,” she says. “That way, you are not desperate and starving.”

Drink water

Choosing water as your go-to source of hydration will help cut back on unnecessary liquid calories that don’t fill you up.

Choose a lifestyle change, not a diet

If you need to lose weight, find an eating plan you can stick with. “Whatever results in lasting weight loss for you is the best approach for you,” Wright says. “If you make over-restrictive changes you can’t maintain, as soon as you tire of that diet, you will fall back to what you did previously, gain weight, and raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.”


THE BEST FOODS TO LOWER YOUR BLOOD SUGAR

Focusing on the following foods can help regulate your blood sugar.

Nonstarchy vegetables

Make nonstarchy vegetables the star of your plate, taking up half of it. “For anybody at risk of diabetes, it’s important to take your vegetable intake to the next level,” Wright says. “Balancing your plate with half vegetables will fill you up without loading you down with tons of carbs.” Credit the fiber and water in the vegetables for helping keep you satisfied.

Leafy greens

All nonstarchy vegetables are good, but leafy greens may pack a more powerful punch. In a review of six studies, London researchers found that consuming 1.35 servings (about 1 1/3 cups raw or 2/3 cup cooked) of leafy greens daily was associated with a 14 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to eating only 0.2 servings daily.

Whole fruit

“Whole fruit is nothing but good for people who have prediabetes,” Wright says. Just don’t consume produce in the form of juice or smoothies. “Though a smoothie does give one a concentrated source of nutrients, they are often packed with calories that don’t satisfy our hunger as there is little fiber in them,” Denison says. So rather than drinking your fruit, eat it, spacing it out over your day.

Whole grains

Eating whole grains has been shown to cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly after a meal and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The fiber in whole grains slows the digestion of carbs, reducing the demand for insulin. Whole grains also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that may also play a role in helping prevent diabetes.

Legumes

In a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers followed the diets of more than 3,000 adults who didn’t have type 2 diabetes for more than four years. They discovered that people with the highest consumption of legumes—especially lentils—had the lowest risk of diabetes. Replacing half a serving of eggs, bread, rice, or baked potato with legumes daily also was associated with lower risk of diabetes incidence. All legumes, which includes lentils and all types of beans, are high in fiber and a good source of protein.

Healthy fats

Like carbs, fats are about the issue of two Qs: quality and quantity, Wright says. Unsaturated fats have been linked to improved insulin resistance. Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, and avocado, but be mindful of portions since fats are calorically dense. Moderate amounts of fat at your meals also helps boost satiety.

Lean protein

Protein helps you feel fuller for longer. It also slows digestion so your blood sugar rises and also falls more gradually after a meal. Choose fish, plant-based proteins such as beans and legumes, poultry, and lean beef.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20440101/foods-to-control-blood-sugar/

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