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Archive for November, 2018

Soaring suicide and overdose deaths have pushed down life expectancy significantly.

Life expectancy is on the decline in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released three new reports on Thursday. While the 10 leading causes of death remained the same between 2016 and 2017, the government organization claims that increases in two specific categories are to blame — and both are totally preventable.

In 2017, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths — an all-time high and 6,600 more than the previous year — while the suicide rate increased by a whopping 3.7%. While the overall life expectancy only decreased a total of 0.1 year (to 78.6) from 2016, government officials find explanation behind the drop “tragic and troubling.”

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable,” CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.

Dr. Christine Moutier, the Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is particularly concerned about the fact that more and more Americans are taking their own lives. “This increase in the suicide rate is extremely discouraging. Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States,” she said in a separate statement via email about the new CDC data.

She suggests addressing suicide as a public health issue — similar to the way we deal with other leading causes of death — which include heart diseasecancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease. “Suicide is preventable. As a nation, we must take action by making a major investment in suicide research, translating that research into treatment and early interventions for mental health, and further educating the public on the warning signs of suicide.”

As for overdose deaths, an interesting finding of the data is that the overall increase wasn’t due to the younger population: the most significant increase in drug overdose death rates occurred for those between the ages of 55 and 64 for the period 1999 to 2017. Also, while heroin deaths remained consistent, overdose deaths involving fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and other non-methadone synthetic opioids increased by a whopping 45% between 2016 and 2017.

This new information is a sobering reminder that we need to invest more time and resources into preventable deaths. “We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier,” Redfield continued in his statement.

https://www.prevention.com/health/a25346814/life-expectancy-decline/

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Chances are you think you’re a good listener. People’s appraisal of their listening ability is much like their assessment of their driving skills, in that the great bulk of adults think they’re above average.

In our experience, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:

  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“Mmm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word

In fact, much management advice on listening suggests doing these very things – encouraging listeners to remain quiet, nod and “mm-hmm” encouragingly, and then repeat back to the talker something like, “So, let me make sure I understand. What you’re saying is…” However, recent research that we conducted suggests that these behaviors fall far short of describing good listening skills.

We analyzed data describing the behavior of 3,492 participants in a development program designed to help managers become better coaches. As part of this program, their coaching skills were assessed by others in 360-degree assessments. We identified those who were perceived as being the most effective listeners (the top 5%). We then compared the best listeners to the average of all other people in the data set and identified the 20 items showing the largest significant difference. With those results in hand we identified the differences between great and average listeners and analyzed the data to determine what characteristics their colleagues identified as the behaviors that made them outstanding listeners.

We found some surprising conclusions, along with some qualities we expected to hear. We grouped them into four main findings:

  • Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks. To the contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do so in a constructive way. Sitting there silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that a person is listening, but asking a good question tells the speaker the listener has not only heard what was said, but that they comprehended it well enough to want additional information. Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog, rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction. The best conversations were active.
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem. The best listeners made the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical!). Good listeners made the other person feel supported and conveyed confidence in them. Good listening was characterized by the creation of a safe environment in which issues and differences could be discussed openly.
  • Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation. In these interactions, feedback flowed smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive about comments the other made. By contrast, poor listeners were seen as competitive — as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesn’t make you a good listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions. Good listening invariably included some feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to consider. This finding somewhat surprised us, since it’s not uncommon to hear complaints that “So-and-so didn’t listen, he just jumped in and tried to solve the problem.” Perhaps what the data is telling us is that making suggestions is not itself the problem; it may be the skill with which those suggestions are made. Another possibility is that we’re more likely to accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners. (Someone who is silent for the whole conversation and then jumps in with a suggestion may not be seen as credible. Someone who seems combative or critical and then tries to give advice may not be seen as trustworthy.)

While many of us have thought of being a good listener being like a sponge that accurately absorbs what the other person is saying, instead, what these findings show is that good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking. They make you feel better not merely passively absorbing, but by actively supporting. This lets you gain energy and height, just like someone jumping on a trampoline.

Of course, there are different levels of listening. Not every conversation requires the highest levels of listening, but many conversations would benefit from greater focus and listening skill. Consider which level of listening you’d like to aim for:

Level 1: The listener creates a safe environment in which difficult, complex, or emotional issues can be discussed.

Level 2: The listener clears away distractions like phones and laptops, focusing attention on the other person and making appropriate eye-contact. (This behavior not only affects how you are perceived as the listener; it immediately influences the listener’s own attitudes and inner feelings. Acting the part changes how you feel inside. This in turn makes you a better listener.)

Level 3: The listener seeks to understand the substance of what the other person is saying. They capture ideas, ask questions, and restate issues to confirm that their understanding is correct.

Level 4: The listener observes nonbverbal cues, such as facial expressions, perspiration, respiration rates, gestures, posture, and numerous other subtle body language signals. It is estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these signals. It sounds strange to some, but you listen with your eyes as well as your ears.

Level 5: The listener increasingly understands the other person’s emotions and feelings about the topic at hand, and identifies and acknowledges them. The listener empathizes with and validates those feelings in a supportive, nonjudgmental way.

Level 6: The listener asks questions that clarify assumptions the other person holds and helps the other person to see the issue in a new light. This could include the listener injecting some thoughts and ideas about the topic that could be useful to the other person. However, good listeners never highjack the conversation so that they or their issues become the subject of the discussion.

Each of the levels builds on the others; thus, if you’ve been criticized (for example) for offering solutions rather than listening, it may mean you need to attend to some of the other levels (such as clearing away distractions or empathizing) before your proffered suggestions can be appreciated.

We suspect that in being a good listener, most of us are more likely to stop short rather than go too far. Our hope is that this research will help by providing a new perspective on listening. We hope those who labor under an illusion of superiority about their listening skills will see where they really stand. We also hope the common perception that good listening is mainly about acting like an absorbent sponge will wane. Finally, we hope all will see that the highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height and amplification. These are the hallmarks of great listening.

Source: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/what-great-listeners-actually-do-1350613081

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In 2018, a lot more thought goes into marriage than it did 50 years ago. In 1970, the average age to get married in the United States was 20.8 for women and 23 for men, but that number has climbed considerably in recent decades—it’s now 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men.

The reasoning behind hitting the brakes on marriage varies. While paying off student debt and wanting to get ahead in their careers before settling down are valid reasons many millennials cite, they also seem to be placing a higher premium on getting to know themselves and their partners: According to a recent eHarmony report, members of couples in the United States between the ages of 25 and 34 knew each other for an average of 6.5 years before getting married, compared to an average of five years in other age groups.

The point, it seems, is to avoid divorce. “People are not postponing marriage because they care about marriage less but because they care about marriage more,” Benjamin Karney, a professor of social psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the New York Times.

While these seem like smart, well-thought-out decisions, could partnering up later in life come with negative mental health consequences? Here’s what the experts have to say.

Marriage and our loneliness crisis.

Thanks to the rise of technology, there’s no question that we’re facing a loneliness crisis. And because waiting longer to settle down could result in more years of living alone, there’s some concern that saving marriage for later in life could result in an uptick in loneliness.

But according to Nathalie C. Theodore, LCSW, when it comes to loneliness, not having a romantic partner is neither here nor there.

“Regardless of marital status, we all need a solid support system to combat loneliness,” she explains. “So whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, it’s important to spend time nurturing your friendships so that you’re not relying on just one person to fulfill all of your needs.”

Photo: Philippe Roy

The mental health benefits (and consequences) of waiting longer to get married.

One huge benefit of waiting longer to get married? You’ll spend more time getting to know yourself. “I’d say that knowing yourself as an adult before finding a partner may ultimately help you choose the right partner,” explains Alison Stone, LCSW. “Fully understanding who you are as a person—what your needs and values are, what makes you tick, how you operate best in relationships, what partnership means to you—can be a really useful tool in selecting a healthy partner.”

She adds that because most of us experience periods of growth and changes to our identity in our 20s, we’re often drawn to very different types of people at 20 versus 28—and by our late 20s, we’re a lot more likely to make better-informed decisions about who we spend our lives with.

On the flip side, Theodore points out that waiting longer to get married can cause a unique kind of stress. “Waiting to get married may cause anxiety or depression for those who are eager to tie the knot and haven’t found the right person yet, or who are in a committed relationship with someone who wants to wait,” she explains.

Delaying marriage and the divorce rate.

Stone believes that while delaying marriage will likely lead to a decline in the divorce rate, it’s important that people are delaying it for the right reasons. “It will lead to a decline in the divorce rate if getting married later in life means people have taken more time to select the ‘right’ partner, are more self-aware and in tune with their needs, and are making better long-term choices for themselves,” she explains. “Yet while there will always be trends, marriage and divorce rates are impacted by such a wide variety of factors—including variations in economic status, race, geographic location—that I imagine it’s hard to measure that with full accuracy.”

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-impact-getting-married-later-has-on-mental-health

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Here’s how to keep the flu away—as well as exactly what to do if you do catch it.

EDDIE PHAN

Flu overview

Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by flu viruses that travel through the air and enter the body through the nose or mouth. Five to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, and anyone is susceptible to the virus. During the 2017-2018 flu season, approximately 900,000 people were hospitalized and 80,000 people died due to flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu symptoms range from mild to severe and can include fever, chills, achy muscles, sore throat, cough, and headache. The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms develop more suddenly.

What causes the flu?

When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying the virus enter the air. You can catch the flu if you inhale these droplets through your nose or mouth, or if you touch objects such as doorknobs or keyboards that are contaminated with the virus and then touch your nose, eyes, or mouth.

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EMILY SCHIFF-SLATER

Flu risk factors

Flu viruses are constantly changing, so if you’ve had influenza in the past, you may come down with it again. You are at greater risk of catching the flu and developing complications if you:

  • are younger than 4
  • are older than 65
  • live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • are pregnant or up to two weeks postpartum
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a chronic illness
  • have a body mass index of 40 or higher

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Symptoms of influenza are often similar to those of a common cold, but appear suddenly and are more severe. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Achy muscles, especially in your back, arms, and legs
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Chills and sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

If it is flu season and you are generally healthy and experience symptoms, you don’t need to see a doctor, says Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at UCLA. Simply treat your symptoms with rest and over-the-counter medications. However, anyone who is at high risk—that is, a child, older adult, pregnant woman, or someone with a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or stroke—see your doctor. “He or she can follow up with you to confirm that things are going in the right direction,” Dr. Ladapo says, or advise on seeking more care if they feel it’s necessary.

Cold vs. flu

Do you have a cold or the flu? This infographic can help you decide
EMILY SCHIFF-SLATER

How is the flu diagnosed?

To determine if you have the flu or a cold, your doctor will do a physical exam, ask about your symptoms, and possibly do a lab test.

The most common test is the rapid influenza diagnostics test. Your doctor will swab the back of your nose or throat and check the sample for antigens, substances that cause your immune system to produce antibodies. It takes less than a half hour to get results. However, results aren’t always accurate, so your doctor may diagnose the flu without this test. “Trust your doctor and listen to your body,” Dr. Ladapo says.

Some specialized labs and hospitals use more accurate tests that look at the DNA or RNA of the virus.

If you decide to see your health care provider, be ready to answer questions about your symptoms, how long you’ve had them, and how severe they are. Also let them know of any medical conditions, if you are pregnant, and if you live with anyone at high risk of influenza complications, Dr. Ladapo says.

How is the flu treated?

If you promptly see your doctor upon noticing symptoms, he or she may give you an antiviral such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza). Tamiflu comes in capsule form, while Relenza is a powder you inhale. If taken within two days of the onset of symptoms, these can lessen symptoms and shorten the length of time you are sick by about a day.

However, “it’s far from a slam dunk,” Dr. Ladapo says. “By the time you can schedule a doctor’s appointment, you may be outside the window where it’s effective.”

Whether or not you take an antiviral, the best way to treat the flu is to rest, drink fluids, and use any other remedies that best alleviate your symptoms such as pain reliever for headaches and achy muscles. “Whatever you are used to and know works for you, that is the appropriate treatment for flu,” says Michael P. Angarone, DO, professor of infectious diseases at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Flu complications to know

Healthy people typically recover from the flu once the virus passes. However, those at high risk of complications may develop complications, which can be deadly. These include:

  • Sinus and ear infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Inflammation of the heart, brain, or muscle tissues
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection
  • Worsening of conditions such as heart disease

If you have a health condition and come down with the flu, talk to your doctor, who can help monitor your symptoms. If you have the flu and the fever persists for more than a few days or you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, persistent cough, lots of sputum (mucus), or feel weak or lightheaded, seek medical attention immediately. “These are signs the virus is not getting better or you may be developing a complication,” Dr. Angarone explains.

You can reduce your risk of contracting influenza with some common-sense health practices.

Experts widely agree that the single best way to protect against the flu is getting the flu vaccine each year. The vaccine is appropriate for anyone 6 months and older, and it’s important to get the vaccine each year. The injection protects against the three or four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common that year. You can get the flu vaccine at your health care provider’s office or at many pharmacies.

And despite what you may have heard, the vaccine cannot give you the flu. “It is true that the vaccine can lead to flu-like symptoms when the body responds to the proteins in the vaccine. But even then, it’s still protective, and those symptoms are not as severe as the flu,” Dr. Ladapo says.

In addition to the vaccine, practicing good hygiene can prevent flu germs from spreading:

  • Wash your hands. Use soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds (or as long as the Happy Birthday song). When soap isn’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and discard the tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid crowded areas. The flu spreads more easily in heavily trafficked places such as public transportation, schools, and offices. If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after any fever subsides.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid germs entering your body.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects such as keyboards, doorknobs, and telephones that may be contaminated with germs.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/a22813625/flu-symptoms-prevention/

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re big coffee and tea lovers here at mbg. We just can’t get enough of the smell of a warm latte, the taste of a cinnamon matcha on a cold afternoon, and the helpful boost of caffeine we get from both. But what explains why we love these drinks so much that we have trouble going even a day without them? A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that our preference for coffee and tea can actually be explained by our ability to detect bitterness. Interesting…

The researchers from Northwestern University and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia used a technique called Mendelian randomization to study data from over 400,000 participants, both men and women. The results showed that the more sensitive a person is to the bitter taste of caffeine, the more coffee they actually drink.

So what makes you more or less sensitive to bitterness? Apparently, this has everything to do with genetics. And this trend doesn’t just apply to coffee; it’s also true for tea and wine at varying degrees. “The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea, and alcohol,” Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Science Daily.

Even more interesting, the researchers explain that we technically shouldn’t like the taste of coffee at all—since our bodies and brains actually interpret bitterness as a warning signal that something might be harmful. That said, people who have the genetic predisposition that allows them to detect bitterness are able to transform their thinking and form positive associations with coffee and tea. If you’re surprised by these results, you’re definitely not alone. It would be easy to assume that being able to detect the bitterness in these beverages would decrease a person’s affinity for them. But as it turns out, it’s exactly the opposite; the positive reinforcement these people receive from caffeine coupled with their ability to detect bitterness is enough to rewire their brain into loving coffee.

This study was part of a larger trend in science to understand the underlying biological mechanisms of taste.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/study-explains-why-people-love-coffee-versus-tea

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Most reactions simply mean the vaccine is doing its job.

No, the flu shot doesn’t give you the flu, doctors insist. But it does pose potential side effects, just like any other vaccine or medicine. Your arm might be tender after your flu shot, or your child could develop a cough after getting a dose of the nasal flu vaccine.

“The majority of patients really don’t have any side effects,” says Sandra Kemmerly, MD, system medical director for hospital quality at Ochsner Health System in New Orleans. And when symptoms do occur, they’re usually mild and clear up in a day or two, she says.

So why do some people feel sick after the flu shot while others don’t? Doctors say reactions to the flu vaccine differ from person to person and that multiple factors are likely at play.

Think about how people respond to the common cold. Some folks get a runny nose and go on with their lives, while others stay home with a fever, and still others develop a cough. It’s the same with the flu shot, says Claudia Vicetti, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with UnityPoint Health in Cedar Falls, Iowa. “You’re stimulating your body, and your immune system may react in different ways,” she says.

Here’s how your body may react after the flu shot, when you should and shouldn’t worry, and how to feel better once side effects hit.


Common flu shot side effects

Whether you get a flu shot or the spray-mist type, side effects are generally no big deal. You may experience the following:

  • Soreness or aching in your arm
  • Redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Coughing or sneezing (with the nasal flu vaccine)

Yes your arm might be sore or uncomfortable after getting the shot, but it’s usually “one day of discomfort,” Dr. Vicetti says, “and not everybody gets that [side effect].”

As for redness and swelling at the injection site? That’s actually a good thing, she says, because it means your immune system is responding to the vaccine. Dr. Kemmerly would agree: “Their immune system is raring to go and they’re making antibodies.”

The nasal flu vaccine, the type your child might get if he or she doesn’t have asthma or a recent history of wheezing, can cause some of the same side effects as the flu shot—minus the sore arm—plus some additional ones. “There can be some coughing and sneezing,” Dr. Kemmerly notes, “but for the most part people feel pretty good.”

However, there are people who do develop serious side effects after getting the flu vaccine, such as allergic reactions or Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a neurologic condition that attacks your body’s nerve cells, in turn causing muscle weakness or paralysis in severe cases. (These people fall on the list of people who should not get a flu shot.)

⚠️ Talk to your doctor if your flu shot side effects persist. If someone has breathing problems or other serious signs of an allergic reaction after getting a flu vaccine, treat it as a medical emergency and seek help ASAP.

Before you freak out, know that this condition is extremely rare. In fact, for every 1 million flu shots given, only one or two of those people will develop GBS, the CDC states.


So why do some people feel like the flu shot gives them the flu?

If you’re feeling crummy for days after getting your flu vaccine, something else may be going on. Oftentimes, people delay getting a flu shot until flu season is in full swing, Dr. Kemmerly points out. They were already “incubating” the flu virus and “then, lo and behold, they got the flu—but totally unrelated to the flu shot,” she says.

Other times, people wrongly blame the flu shot for their symptoms when, in fact, they’re sick with another virus that commonly circulates during flu season. A person might catch a cold, for example, or RSV (respiratory syncytial virus, a common childhood illness).

Another thing you have to know: “The flu” isn’t a single virus. Each year a new vaccine is developed to match circulating strains. Getting a flu vaccine can protect you against the same or related viruses in the vaccine, but it won’t cover every possible strain that a person might encounter, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And, while the flu vaccine works well in the young and healthy, older folks with weaker immune systems may not make sufficient levels of antibodies to fend off the flu, the CDC notes. People over age 65 should talk to a doctor about getting a “high-dose” flu vaccine, sometimes called a “senior” flu vaccine. It contains four times as much flu antigen as the standard vaccine.


How to treat flu shot side effects

Usually, any side effects you might get from the flu vaccine go away on their own within a day or two—but you don’t have to tough it out if you really feel crummy. Try these self-care measures to feel better ASAP:

  •  For muscle aches, headache, or flu-like symptoms, take a pain reliever, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
  •  For arm pain after the flu shot, apply a cool compress.

The same goes for side effects of the nasal flu vaccine. Treatment is based on a person’s symptoms, Dr. Kemmerly says. All in all, minor aches are a small price to pay for the vast protection the flu vaccine provides—wouldn’t you rather feel a little headachy than ill-and-bedridden for a week or longer?

https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/a25050076/flu-shot-side-effects/

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The season of indulgence is upon us. No matter how disciplined you are, Thanksgiving and the December holidays are synonymous with endless temptation and shake us from usual wellness routines. And it’s all good! Enjoying the fall harvest with family and friends is balanced and healthy—of course, if you’re human, chances are the pumpkin pie (or insert your favorite holiday food here) will get the best of you at least once. You know the feeling. You’re already entirely full, but a homemade pie makes its way onto the table and you simply can’t resist.

So you indulge. Good for you! If you’re in good health, indulgence and non-restriction are parts of living a balanced life. But there’s one thing that can help everyone recover—a simple 30-minute walk.

The benefits of walking after eating a meal.

Photo: Pablo Heimplatz

Staying put or napping after you eat is probably the worst thing you can do, according to a study by the International Journal of Obesity published earlier this year—the research linked more time sitting (and less movement) with cardiovascular disease and larger waist circumferences.

And as for that digestif? Sure, have it, but only after you’ve taken a walk. Walking outperforms boozy cocktails and espresso, ones that purport to stimulate the stomach, as a study published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases published in 2008, when it comes to digestion efficacy. Walking helped food along through the digestive system while the beverages had no effect on digestion.

In order to get the most out of your walk, doing it directly after your meal versus even one hour later prompts more weight loss, suggesting that there’s some mechanism that helps the body better digest.

It’s probably because of the blood-sugar-balancing effects of walking. This study published in the American Diabetes Association’s journal Diabetes Care compared blood sugar levels of people who walked 45 minutes in the morning and others who walked 15 minutes after meals and found that the latter resulted in significantly improved blood sugar levels. Another study published in 2009 in Applied Physiology, Metabolism, and Nutrition saw similar results when testing the effects of postprandial walking in middle-aged women.

Taking the research into account, you’d ideally walk for at least 30 minutes directly after the meal. The dishes can wait—make it a family affair or steal some alone time if you need it, but walking is a surefire way to feel lighter and more energized after a heavy meal.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/this-move-is-proven-to-balance-your-blood-sugar-and-increase-energy

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But how much weight do you gain on your period? Probably not as much as you think.

Getting your period can be a serious drag. Aside from the pain of cramps and discomfort of bloating, the stress of stepping on the scale that week is enough to leave you feeling defeated, even if you’ve been eating healthy and hitting the gym regularly. But before you throw in the towel altogether, keep this in mind: It’s completely normal to gain weight during your period.

Here, doctors explain why period weight gain happens, how much period weight gain is normal, and how long you can expect the extra pounds to stick around.


When does period weight gain start? And how long does it last?

“It’s common to begin feeling the bloat and the extra weight around your middle in the few days prior to your period,” says Angela Chaudhari, MD, gynecologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL. “This is because progesterone is the dominant hormone right before you get your period, which tends to cause water retention.”

The good news: your weight should be back to normal by the time your period ends.


Ugh! So how much weight do you gain on your period, exactly?

You might feel like you’re gaining a pound an hour on your period, but overall weight gain should be minimal, says Monica Svets, MD, gynecologist at the Cleveland Clinic. Some women will gain more than others, but a good rule of thumb on average is that you can expect to gain anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds during your period (though some women may see an uptick of up to 5 pounds). If you think you may be gaining too much weight, see your doctor. It could signal an endocrine or kidney issue if your body is retaining too much water at once.


The 4 most common reasons you gain weight on your period

The hormonal changes going on before and during your period can greatly impact weight changes. To understand how your weight can change, it’s important to know how your menstrual cycle operates in general.

“A few days before menstruation occurs, we ovulate,” says Dr. Svets. “Fluctuations in hormones start. Progesterone, which has been building up over the luteal phase [the timespan immediately after ovulation until the day before your period] drops along with estrogen right before you menstruate. The symptoms women will experience, like weight gain and fatigue, appear right before this sudden decrease in hormones.” Estrogen and progesterone get blamed as the two major female hormones involved in the menstrual cycle (and the quick drop of both is why you suffer from PMS before your period), but other hormonal factors are involved which directly affect your weight.

1. Hormone changes make your body retain water

It’s not just a feeling—you are retaining water during your period that can lead to weight gain.

“Fluctuations in a hormone secreted by adrenal glands called aldosterone leads to water retention,” says Dr. Svets. “Aldosterone helps water management, how much liquid we put through our kidneys, and helps with fluid management.” Aldosterone levels increase during the luteal phase and decrease during the follicular phase (the days you’re actively menstruating), which leads to an increase in water retention. (A 2017 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology International actually found that the first day of a woman’s period is the day the most water is retained.)

Progesterone also plays a big role in why your body retains water, according to Dr. Chaudhari. “Progesterone can lead to water weight gain by allowing fluids to leak out of your blood vessels into surrounding tissues. This retention of water in your tissues can lead to the temporary weight gain around your period and will dissipate on its own after your cycle begins and your hormone levels drop,” she says.

Period weight gain tip:

It may seem counterintuitive but drinking more during your period actually helps keep water retention at bay. “Having more fluid in your vessels where it belongs leads to better hydration and flushing out of your system,” says Dr. Chaudhari. Aim to drink two liters of water per day to help keep bloating and weight gain stabilized.

2. You’re (trying) to fight off serious food cravings

It’s no mystery that women grab for chocolate and comfort foods (hello, mac and cheese!) more during their period than normal, but science still doesn’t know exactly why cravings happen so strongly around your period.

“The exact reason for the cravings is unknown, but we know high progesterone levels seem to contribute. Similar to early pregnancy when progesterone is our dominant hormone, women just before their period experience more desire to eat foods that are higher in fat, salt, and sugar,” says Dr. Chaudhari.

You may think these cravings are hard-coded into our hormones (or lack thereof), but that’s not necessarily the case. A recent study published in PLOS One found that 50 percent of women in the U.S. crave chocolate before their period, while only 17 percent of foreign-born counterparts found themselves with the same craving, proving that the types of food women crave are more based on culture (and marketing).

“Progesterone may increase appetite, but what we choose to eat is more cultural,” says Dr. Svets. “Do we need chocolate? Is it a physiological need? Probably not. Salty chips, physiologic need? Probably not. The body doesn’t necessarily need these things, but with an increased appetite and fatigue, women may be looking for comfort food.”

Those treats can add up. “Many women change their diet around their period, giving in to those cravings. A diet with too many refined sugars can lead to a quick drop in sugar, and therefore, energy levels,” says Dr. Chaudhari.

Period weight gain tip:

Satisfy your cravings in a healthy way. Make peanut butter protein balls for something sweet that’s packed with protein and stock your fridge with fruit if you know you’re likely to have a sweet tooth. And if you need chocolate (because, let’s face it – sometimes an apple just isn’t cutting it), stick to dark chocolate that’s at least 70 percent cocoa.

3. You’re more likely to skip your workout

Let’s be honest: it’s just harder to get motivated for the gym during your period. Fatigue is real, and it may keep your from hitting the gym.

“Your hormone levels all drop at once at the start of your period, so it is common for women to have lower energy levels as part of their normal fluctuations,” says Dr. Chaudhari.

The combination of being less active and indulging in extra treats may make an impact on your waistline. But the benefits of exercise during your period prove you should try to push through the urge to skip. Studies have shown that exercise can reduce PMS symptoms and the pain of menstrual cramps. Plus, if you feel like you’re gaining weight, whether during your period or any other time, they only way to remedy that feeling is to start moving.

Period weight gain tip:

Make sure to move a little bit every day. If you can’t muster up the motivation to do your usual routine, try one of these at-home workouts:

4. Your GI tract is out of whack

“Your hormones (especially progesterone) are the culprit for bloating and gas,” says Dr. Chaudhari. You period can also lead to changes in your bowel movements, leaving you feeling irregular. “Normal hormonal fluctuations can lead to constipation and increased gas around your periods and usually resolve a few days after your period begins.”

Period weight gain tip:

The best way to combat constipation and tummy troubles is to increase your water intake, move more, and eat lots of fiber, says Dr. Chaudhari. Use the cheat sheet below to incorporate more fiber-filled foods into your meals.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/a23065847/period-weight-gain/

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Doctors explain what causes that woozy feeling, from dehydration to serious medical conditions.

Ever fainted? It’s terrifying, but 90 percent of people who have passed out are absolutely fine, says Venkatesh Thiruganasambandamoorthy, MBBS, clinical epidemiologist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa. As for the other 10 percent, an underlying health condition could be to blame, and that could mean potentially serious health concerns down the road.

Fainting, no matter why it happens, is the result of a short period of time when the brain’s blood supply is decreased, explains Lawrence Phillips, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the cardiology division at New York University Langone Medical Center.

“The cause can stem from many different parts of the body, including a person’s blood pressure going down, heart rate going down, and from neurologic reasons independent of the heart,” he says. “We try to find out why the blood pressure or heart rate would go down. Some of these reasons are common and not worrisome, but others need more evaluation.”

Even if you don’t faint from it, that drop in blood pressure or heart rate can cause lightheadedness, that very specific yet hard to describe feeling that you might pass out. (Dizziness, on the other hand, can include lightheadedness, but it also comes with the feeling that the room is spinning around you.)

It’s tricky to know when fainting or lightheadedness is a cause for concern—even doctors often feel stumped. Here, nine potential reasons you could feel lightheaded and why it happens. No matter what, always play it safe by seeking medical attention for any new symptoms, or ones that don’t resolve themselves.


Dehydration

Some people are simply predisposed to feeling lightheaded or even fainting when they get hot and sweaty and lose too much fluid. “It’s common in a hot room, like standing in church in the summer,” Thiruganasambandamoorthy says. “Heat triggers a pathway in the nervous system that causes blood pressure to drop.”

When you feel lightheaded because of dehydration—which includes symptoms like dry mouth and skin, dark-colored urine, and headaches—lying down resupplies the heart and the brain with blood, helping you to feel better pretty quickly, he says.


Surprises

A similar reaction can be triggered when your college roommate jumps out from behind the couch at your surprise birthday party. Your nervous system essentially goes into overdrive in these scenarios, Thiruganasambandamoorthy says, and your blood pressure drops suddenly, leading to lightheadedness. Usually, you do get a little bit of a warning if you’re really going to faint: You might turn a little green and feel nauseated, he says.


Standing up too quickly

Feeling lightheaded or even seeing black spots in your vision when you hop up quickly from a seated position actually has a name: orthostatic hypotension, which describes a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing. It’s usually no big deal, but if it happens a lot or if it gets worse instead of better after a few minutes have passed, it’s worth bringing up with your doctor.


Abnormal heart rhythm

Compared to the relatively slow onset of symptoms caused by “Surprise!”-related fainting, heart-related fainting comes on fast, so you might not even notice any lightheadedness. An irregular heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, means your heart beats either too slow or too fast, which can in turn affect the blood supply that reaches your brain, Dr. Phillips says.

This kind of sudden fainting, often without any warning, is most concerning, says Melissa S. Burroughs Peña, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Someone might be in the middle of talking and all of a sudden pass out and wake up on the floor without remembering feeling anything beforehand,” she explains. That kind of experience immediately makes emergency docs think of abnormal heart rhythms, which are the most common cause of sudden cardiac death, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Heart valve problems

Your heart relies on four valves to evenly distribute blood throughout your entire body. However, some people develop problems with their heart valves at birth, meaning their hearts have to work harder to function properly. These congenital issues are likely to occur in younger people, Dr. Burroughs Peña says, whereas people 60 and up are at a higher risk of an arrhythmia. Valve problems can restrict blood flow and may cause lightheadedness or dizziness, especially during exercise, she says.


Medication side effects

Certain meds, like painkillers and some anti-anxiety pills, can produce dizziness or lightheadedness. This happens because they affect your brain directly or they slow your heart rate or lower your blood pressure in a way that can provoke those symptoms, Dr. Phillips says.

“Sometimes when a patient has recurrent lightheadedness and I can’t explain why, I’ll be surprised to find it listed among less common side effects in pharmacy reports,” add Dr. Burroughs Peña, so your doctor may need to double-check your medication list.

There’s also a small chance you could be allergic to a medication you’re taking, she adds. In rare instances when people have a life-threatening allergic reaction to a drug, they might become lightheaded or even pass out. “It’s a very dramatic immune system reaction,” she says, which results in the blood vessels dilating and blood pressure dropping. “It’s still a blood pressure change that causes the lightheadedness, but it’s an immune reaction that causes it.”


Low blood sugar

If you’ve skipped a meal, you probably know what it’s like to feel seriously hangry. That’s because not eating enough can seriously mess with your blood sugar levels—and when your blood sugar dips too low, you may feel lightheaded, since your brain isn’t getting the fuel—aka glucose (a type of sugar)—that it needs for energy.

This is more of a metabolic concern, Dr. Burroughs Peña says. Most of the time, grabbing a bite to eat will resolve your symptoms. Pro tip: Stocking up on satiating, non-perishable snacks in your desk drawer (like protein bars) can help you stay fueled on crazy busy days.

But if you have diabetes and take medication to lower blood sugar, lightheadedness should be taken seriously, as it might be a sign your blood sugar is dipping dangerously low, she adds, which can lead to seizures and unconsciousness.


Flu

The flu, a respiratory infection caused by a virus, can cause some nasty symptoms, like fever, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, headaches, and a stuffy nose. But if you’re feeling lightheaded? Blame dehydration and low blood sugar: You probably don’t feel much like eating or drinking, but both can keep lightheadedness and other awful flu symptoms at bay, Dr. Burroughs Peña says. Not sure what you can stomach? Here’s exactly what to eat when you have a cold or flu.


Stroke

If you feel lightheaded (or dizzy) in conjunction with muscle weakness, difficulty speaking, or numbness and tingling, a stroke (when blood flow gets cut off from an area in the brain) may be behind the symptoms, Dr. Phillips says, and you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

The decrease in blood flow that leads to feeling lightheaded could be caused by a blood clot in the brain, Dr. Burroughs Peña says, which can cause what’s called an ischemic stroke.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/a20433678/9-reasons-why-you-feel-lightheaded-and-when-to-be-concerned/

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Three studies in rodents suggest prenatal exposure to the drug may pose risks for infants

SAN DIEGO—Marijuana has been legalized in some capacity in 31 U.S. states, in large part due to a softening stance around the potential harms of the drug and recognition of its medical benefits. As a result, cannabis has become the most commonly used illicit drug during pregnancy.

One recent study revealed that in 2016 7 percent of pregnant women in California used marijuana, with rates as high as 22 percent among teenage mothers. In Colorado 69 percent of dispensaries recommended the drug to pregnant women to help with morning sickness.

Whereas marijuana is not a major health risk for most adults, prenatal drug exposure can be harmful to unborn babies. Previous research has shown infants exposed to cannabis in the womb are 50 percent more likely to have a lower birth weight. Now three new studies presented Tuesday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting here suggest prenatal cannabis exposure—at least in rodents—could have serious consequences for fetal brain development. “There’s become this relaxation—in part because [marijuana] is becoming legal in many states around the country—that it’s fine,” says Yasmin Hurd, who is director of the Addiction Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and was not involved in the new research. But, she adds, just because a drug is not very dangerous to adults does not mean it is harmless to the developing brain.

In one study researchers at Washington State University in Pullman showed rat pups born to mothers exposed to high amounts of cannabis vapor during pregnancy had trouble with cognitive flexibility. Twice a day the scientists filled the pregnant rats’ containers with marijuana vapor from an e-cigarette, elevating levels of the psychoactive chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the rats’ blood to roughly the human equivalent of smoking a joint. After the pups grew up the researchers trained them on a task that measured their ability to think flexibly and learn new rules. The young rats first learned to follow a light cue to push one of two levers in order to receive a sugary treat. The next day, pushing only the left lever would deliver the reward, regardless of which side the light had been on.

The rats exposed to cannabis in utero learned the first rule (following the light cue) without a problem, but they took significantly longer to learn the new rule (pushing the left lever) than did rats not exposed to the drug. The cannabis-exposed rats also made many more mistakes on the second day. They would respond correctly for a couple rounds, making it seem like they knew the new rule, but then they would press the wrong lever again. “It was like something wasn’t really clicking with them,” says Ryan McLaughlin, an assistant professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience at Washington State and lead author of the study, which has not yet been published. He says they never got that “‘Aha!’ moment, where it’s like, ‘Oh, this is what I’m supposed to do.’”

In a similar study, scientists at Auburn University in Alabama found rats born to mothers that had been injected with a low, continuous dose of synthetic cannabis during pregnancy were significantly impaired on several different memory tasks involving mazes. “The rats that were exposed to cannabinoids [chemicals like those found in marijuana] prenatally were performing less efficiently than the control rats” that were not exposed, says Priyanka Pinky, a graduate student at Auburn who conducted the research. “There was a gap in the acquisition of the memory and the consolidation of the memory.”

The young rats whose mothers were dosed with the drug also had abnormalities in the hippocampus, the brain’s primary memory center. Specifically, they had difficulty creating new connections between neurons—the basis for forming new memories. The researchers think the differences in the hippocampus stem from changes in levels of glutamate, the brain’s main excitatory neurochemical involved in learning and memory.

In the third study researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Ferrara in Italy again found impairments in memory and changes in levels of glutamate in the brains of rats exposed to THC in the womb. They also discovered an increase in another molecule in the brain, which they think may be the missing link between prenatal cannabis exposure, glutamate and cognitive impairments: kynurenic acid. This chemical acts like a puppet master in the brain, regulating glutamate and other important neurochemicals; high levels of the molecule result in lower glutamate levels. Kynurenic acid has also previously been implicated in cognitive impairments in both people and animals.

“We think that prenatal marijuana exposure can induce an increase in kynurenic acid, and this may be responsible for the cognitive impairment observed in the offspring of marijuana users,” says Sarah Beggiato, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ferrara in Italy and co-author of the study. “Why is glutamate going down? It’s because kynurenic acid is going up.” The scientists are now researching drugs that block the acid’s synthesis, which may help defend against the problems associated with prenatal cannabis exposure.

The findings, which are in rodents, may not necessarily translate to humans. Mount Sinai’s Hurd, who has been researching the effects of marijuana on the developing brain in both humans and animals for 15 years, says the new studies do not reveal anything “shockingly new.” But they show “that there are indeed multiple systems being affected,” she says, “and given that more pregnant women today are starting to smoke marijuana, it’s really important for us to get that word out.”

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