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.


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.



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.



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



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.



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

black beans

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

lima beans

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

Peanut butter

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

wild rice

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.



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.


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

chia seeds

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

steel cut oats

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.



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

pumpkin seeds

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.



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.



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 on the cob

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.



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.



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

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


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

cherry angioma

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

skin tags

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.



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.



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

solar lentigines sun spots

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

seborrheic keratosis

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

tinea infection

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

basal squamous cell carcinoma

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 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.


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.


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.”


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.


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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Ah, travel—a passport to having transformative experiences, meeting amazing new people, and spending an inordinate amount of time on the toilet. If you get constipated when you travel, you’re not alone: It’s a common side effect of changing time zones, air travel, and eating new food. Never fear: There are a few foods and supplements that some of the country’s best functional doctors rely on to stay regular, no matter where in the world they are. Their top pick, hands down? Magnesium. The calming supplement is cited again and again as a carry-on must-have, and for good reason—it can aid in relieving travel stress and help with bathroom visits. Here’s more about the miracle of magnesium, and the doctors’ other go-to remedies.

Take magnesium.

When I travel, I always bring along some magnesium glycinate and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). Both of these supplements can help get things moving. When I used to struggle more with constipation (before I realized a gluten-free diet and a Squatty Potty were the cure for my constipation), I would also pack Nature’s Plus Gold Liquid or Green Vibrance to help me stay regular. I also focus on staying hydrated and keeping my morning routine calm and consistent, even when on the road. Not a food, but perhaps the biggest help for my travel regularity has been the travel Squatty Potty. I don’t leave home without it.

Ellen Vora, M.D., mbg Collective member and two-time class instructor

The best remedies for constipation are: magnesium citrate (I like the powder so that I can adjust the amount I take). This can be titrated up until it’s effective. Drink a lot of water with it since it pulls water into the gut to do its job. The next best remedy is MCT oil; it boosts brain function while assisting with constipation. With both of these, if you take too much, it can cause diarrhea. Aloe is also a nice additive for constipation.

Wendie Trubow, M.D.

The best remedy goes to magnesium! Aim for magnesium citrate, as it has better bioavailability (especially compared to oxide), is rapidly absorbed, and is a great option for helping loosen stools. Other things to consider are making sure you’re exercising and drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water, as both help keep regular bowel movements. Nutritionally, make sure you get enough fiber, especially high in foods like pears, strawberries, avocado, ground flaxseed, ground chia seeds, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, and beans. If constipation continues, especially post-vacation, I’d recommend speaking to a knowledgeable practitioner to see what else may be awry.

Serena Goldstein, N.D.

I never travel without magnesium. Magnesium is my favorite remedy for constipation. It’s involved in over 550 different enzymatic reactions in the body and is a great laxative. I recommend that people start with one capsule per night and increase every three nights by one capsule until they get soft stools one or two times per day.

Evan Hirsch, M.D., founder of The Hirsch Center

Bring (organic) prunes.

My favorite food to travel with to prevent constipation is prunes. They travel easily and are very high in fiber. Fiber is the undigested component of food that stays in your intestine, adding bulk to your stools and making them easier to pass. Many people need only three to four prunes to have regular bowel movements. I also make sure to drink enough water throughout the day to help the fiber work. And I always make sure to choose organic prunes!

Elizabeth Boham, M.D., director of The Ultra Wellness Center

Eat a ton of fiber.

Fiber is magic for constipation. It helps to remove toxins, facilitates intestinal movement, and protects your digestive tract from inflammation, injury, and disease. Most American women consume only about 14 grams of my recommended 35 to 50 grams of fiber per day. Fiber also aids in weight loss and maintenance because it can curb your appetite by helping you feel full, and it helps dispose of estrogen to keep you in the fat-burning zone. Not bad, right? Fiber-rich foods include quinoa, legumes, berries, and green leafy vegetables. Keep in mind that it can be challenging to eat your daily fiber minimum, so you might need to supplement with an excellent fiber blend. Whether you use food or supplements to get your fiber, I recommend increasing fiber intake by a maximum of 5 grams per day, starting at 20 grams on Day 1. If you get gassy, scale back and increase more slowly.

Sara Gottfried, M.D., mbg class instructor and best-selling author of Younger

One of the best remedies for constipation is fiber, and during the summer, smoothies are an easy and refreshing way to make sure you get adequate levels of fiber in your diet.

Ideally, you want to aim for at least 40 grams of fiber a day. Adding 2 tablespoons of fiber into your smoothies such as chia seeds, psyllium husk, acacia fiber, or ground flaxseed is a quick and easy way to boost dietary fiber intake. Berries are also rich in fiber and provide anti-inflammatory compounds that help boost immune function.

Robin Berzin, M.D., mbg Collective member, class instructor, and founder of Parsley Health

Take triphala.

If one of my patients at my functional medicine center has been traveling and their digestion is sluggish and a little (or a lot) off, one of my favorite natural medicines to try is triphala. Literally translating as “three fruits,” triphala is a traditional ayurvedic herbal formula blend of three fruits native to India. Triphala is a gentle bowel tonic supporting healthy bowel movements. It’s also a powerful antioxidant. Win-win!

Will Cole, D.C., mbg Collective member and class instructor

Have some caffeine.

I also love using a small amount of caffeine such as a morning cup of coffee or espresso for resetting the gut system when traveling. Time it in the morning in the new place you are traveling to so that it does not interfere with melatonin production. Of course travel is constipating—I tell people that no matter what, they may have a day or two that they don’t feel “right” in their gut. That’s OK. No need to fret. A combination of sitting, dehydration, change in meals/sleep can really be a doozy for the gut. Give it 48 hours to recover.

Amy Shah, M.D., mbg Collective member and class instructor

Drink some water and get moving.

Three of the biggest culprits in travel-related constipation troubles are dehydration, changes in your eating habits (eating more indulgent foods and less fiber), and more time sitting (either on the plane or in a car to get there, and depending on what you’re doing at your destination). People don’t realize this, but your activity level has a significant impact on how your bowels work—it’s one of the reasons why when patients are bedridden, they can have problems with constipation, and if a patient wants to get their “bowels moving” again, we advise them to walk!

So, if you find that you’re a little stopped up, I advise gulping a good 16 ounces of water to hydrate, going out for a sightseeing walk, and giving yourself a veggie boost in terms of a big salad, veggie-and-fruit-only smoothie, or veggie soup. Keep doing those three things during your trip, and you’ll find things moving again in no time!

Darria Gillespie, M.D., host of Sharecare Radio

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/natural-constipation-remedies

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Maybe you’ve been here: standing in front of the egg display at your local grocery store, wondering what all the different labels mean and which choice is best? I’ve certainly been in that situation myself, and I’m a registered dietitian!

Tell me if this sounds familiar: Should I buy organic? What’s the difference between cage-free and pasture-raised? Does it mean anything if the eggs are brown instead of white? What’s up with omega-3 eggs?

I remember one shopping trip in particular, right after finding out a family member had been diagnosed with cancer, and despite my years of clinical training, my head was a soup of fear-mongering clickbait and well-intentioned advice. After 15 minutes caught in an overthink loop of scratching my head, picking up one egg product after another, I left the store almost in tears—and with no eggs.

Enough was enough. I dug into the “what” and the “wtf” so you don’t have to. I hope this saves you the time and stress it’s saved me!

First things first: Tune in to your priorities.

Before you go shopping, know what’s important to you when choosing eggs. Are you most concerned with the nutritional profile? Want to avoid eggs from chickens fed questionable feed or given antibiotics? Is animal welfare an issue that’s near and dear to your heart? Concerned about the environment? On a budget?

Nutritional basics

One thing I like about eggs is that they provide built-in portion control. One large egg provides 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat (1.5 grams saturated). You’ll also get about 5 percent of your daily vitamin A needs, 10 percent of your vitamin D needs, and 27 percent of the amount of brain-boosting choline you need in a day. When you see eggs labeled “omega-3,” it generally means the hens were fed a diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids, usually DHA.

I’m often asked how many egg yolks are OK to have per week. It’s not a sexy answer, but it really does depend on the person. What I can say is that the yolk is where you’ll find a lot of important nutrients like choline, vitamin A, and vitamin D, plus the omega-3s. If you’re paying extra for those omega-3-rich eggs, I’d recommend eating the yolk to reap those benefits rather than using those eggs to make an egg-white omelet.

Sometimes my clients freak out about the cholesterol (about 185 to 200 milligrams) and the saturated fat in egg yolks. Research variesquite a bit, and while I tend to err on the side of “eat the yolks,” for people with personal or family history of heart conditions, I generally recommend consuming egg yolks within the context of your saturated fat intake for the day.

What is the healthiest kind of egg?

The majority of egg-laying hens in the United States are raised in battery cages, where they’re very close together without even enough space to spread their wings, which makes for a stressful environment where they’re unable to carry out many of their natural behaviors.

Cage-free eggs

In a cage-free system, hens generally have space to walk and run around, spread their wings, and actually lay their eggs in nests. Many of these farms are third-party audited by organizations that monitor things like perching and dustbathing. While this is a much better environment, it should be noted that this does not guarantee the hens live a completely cruelty-free life, as they may be subjected to having their beaks burned off (a common practice) or being transported long distances without access to food or water, or starvation-induced molting, among other things.

Free-range eggs

“Free-range” essentially means that the hens have access to the outdoors, though there is currently no definition in the United States regarding how much access and whether that area is covered with vegetation (European standards for laying hens clearly spell this out).

Natural eggs

“Natural” doesn’t really mean anything on an egg label. It just means that nothing was added to the egg, and all eggs meet this criteria (as per USDA standards).

Organic eggs

For a company to put “USDA certified organic” on the label, the hens must be raised following the same standards as pasture-raised eggs. Additionally, while other labeling categories of eggs don’t cover what laying hens are fed, there are guidelines in place for “certified organic” eggs. This means that those eggs were produced without pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers and that the hens were fed an organic diet without those substances or fed any animal by-products or antibiotics. Organic eggs are also inherently non-GMO, as the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) prohibits the use of GMOs.

The USDA grading system sometimes trips people up. Eggs are given grades (AA, A, or B) based on interior quality factors (thickness of the whites, freshness) and exterior factors like the appearance of the shell. The thicker whites of Grade AA and Grade A eggs doesn’t spread as easily as Grade B, making them the preferred grade if you’re frying your eggs, and Grade B eggs are considered to be better-suited for use in things where thinner egg whites are preferable, such as cake batters and omelets. Whether one is “better” than the other really depends on the intended use.

Just as a side note, not all USDA-graded eggs are cage-free, and not all cage-free eggs are graded by the USDA. For example, if you buy eggs at the farmers market, chances are they’re not graded. However, graded eggs that are marketed as cage-free are required to be source-verified by the USDA through onsite farm visits.

Pastured or pasture-raised eggs

“Pasture-raised” needs to be certified by a third-party organization such as the Certified Humane programWhen you see this label, it means that the hens were uncaged, free to walk around and nest, and given access to outdoor space, though it doesn’t guarantee the animals did not have their beaks cut off or were not subjected to starvation-induced molting. Also, this term is not USDA-regulated.

Because the pasture-raised hens were able to eat grass and bugs in addition to that commercial organic feed, it’s possible that these eggs will be richer in certain nutrients like omega-3s, while the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the organic eggs really depends on what is in the feed. In general, though, I would say that pasture-raised tend to be best, because of their high omega-3 ratios.

The best way to find out which brands are kindest to their hens is to learn about the company. Purchasing eggs from your local farmers market and talking to the farmers about their practices is another way to learn about how the hens that laid the eggs you’re purchasing were raised.

Are brown eggs healthier than white eggs?

Another common question is whether brown eggs are healthier than white eggs or whether those eggs are of a higher quality. Actually, though, they’re pretty much the same as far as nutrition stats and quality like shell thickness are concerned. The difference is that white-feathered hens tend to lay white eggs, and hens with reddish feathers tend to lay brown eggs. Some hens even lay blue or speckled eggs, though these are less common. Anyway, the reason the brown tend to be more expensive is generally because those reddish-feathered hens are larger and require more feed. All that said, when you’re buying eggs fresh from the farm where the hens were running around the yard, chances are they were those reddish-feathered hens, so in that case, the argument for quality is there—it’s just not related to the color of the egg.

What are the best eggs for the environment?

Purchasing eggs from a farmer in your area is both a great way to support local agriculture and to reduce your carbon footprint by sidestepping factory farming and long-distance transport. Pay attention to packaging as well. Avoid Styrofoam cartons, and recycle empties appropriately.

The takeaway?

My personal favorite brand I purchase regularly is Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs. I don’t do this as often as I would like, but I also love buying eggs from my local farmers market to support local farmers. The most important thing? Get clear on what matters to you before you go shopping, so you don’t get overwhelmed reading labels. As far as health is concerned, think about where eggs and egg yolks fit into the context of your diet. It’s also important to be mindful of the environment, so whenever possible, opt for recyclable containers.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/types-of-eggs-how-to-shop-for-eggs

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Multivitamins were the most common supplements, followed by vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and melatonin.

A third of children under 19 are regular users of dietary supplements or alternative medicines.

Using data from a large national health survey, researchers found that multivitamins were the most common supplements, followed by vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and melatonin.

Three percent of male teenagers took bodybuilding supplements, and so did 1.3 percent of teenage girls. Omega-3 fatty acids were used by 2.3 percent of children under 19. Melatonin and other sleep aids were used by 1.6 percent of adolescents and by 1.2 percent of children under 5.

About 30 percent of children under 5 take multivitamins, and the percentage declines with age. About 16 percent of adolescents use them.

The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the rate of use of vitamin and mineral supplements stayed the same from 2004 to 2014, while the consumption of herbal cures and other nonvitamin products nearly doubled. By 2014, alternative medicines, including digestive aids, probiotics and energy stimulants, were used by 3.1 of all the children, and by almost 5 percent of teenagers.

The lead author, Dima M. Qato, an assistant professor and pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, cautioned that in healthy children, there’s no evidence that supplements have any benefits and some evidence of serious risks, so “there’s no reason for your child to be on these products.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/well/a-third-of-children-use-alternative-medicines.html

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