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“With science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel,” pandemic coordinator Jeff Zients said.

The United States will lift travel restrictions on foreign visitors who have been vaccinated in November, a White House official announced Monday.

In addition to being fully vaccinated, travelers heading to the U.S. will also have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S., Jeff Zients, the White House pandemic coordinator, said, according to The New York Times on Monday.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


The U.S. will also welcome unvaccinated travelers but with more stringent testing protocols, including a requirement to get tested both before coming and upon arrival. The NYT reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon issue an order requiring airlines to collect contact information like phone numbers and emails for contact tracing purposes.

“International travel is critical to connecting families and friends, to fueling small and large businesses, to promoting the open exchange [of] ideas and culture,” Zients explained. “That’s why, with science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel.”

Unvaccinated American travelers will still be allowed to fly back, but with more stringent testing protocols, including a requirement to get tested within one day of their departure and show proof they have purchased a viral test to be taken after arriving, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters during a briefing later on Monday. This would apply to children as well.

Psaki said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon issue an order requiring airlines to collect “comprehensive contact information” from passengers for contact tracing purposes.

The plan to welcome foreign travelers has been in the works for more than a month. Currently, the U.S. restricts non-essential travel for non-U.S. citizens from several destinations around the world, including the UK and EU. In the past, the Biden administration has cited the spread of the highly contagious delta variant as a reason they had not yet lifted international restrictions.

However, several countries have welcomed vaccinated Americans in recent months, including the UK, France, Greece, and the Netherlands. And while the EU removed the U.S. from its pandemic-era list of safe countries last month, individual member states can still set their own rules around testing or vaccination requirements.

While plans to welcome UK and EU travelers may be in the works, it was not immediately clear when other travel restrictions would be lifted.



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Portrait Of Three Women
Image by Valentina Barreto / Stocksy

Every 65 seconds, a new brain develops Alzheimer’s, and more than 5 million Americans are already living with the disease. Even more staggering? Women account for almost two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s cases. Why women develop Alzheimer’s at higher rates than men is not fully understood, but hormonal health likely has something to do with it. Functional Nutrition CoachingBecome an expert in whole body health & healing.ENROLL NOW

Hormonal health is crucial for brain health, at all ages—for both men and women—but women go through reproductive stages in their lives that impact their brains in unique ways. I call these critical life stages the three P’s: puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause.

Here’s what we know about the changes in the brain during each of these stages and how women can best protect their cognitive health for life.


What happens to the brain during puberty? 

During puberty, hormones are programmed to regulate certain functions in your body and brain. Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that the hormonal changes that occur during puberty can increase the risk for the onset and persistence of depressive symptoms in females

Research also shows that depression and anxiety may be linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s, so reducing the incidence of depression through early diagnosis and treatment is valuable for a woman’s life on every level. 

How to protect the brain during puberty.

More than anything, it’s critical for a girl going through puberty to be afforded the physical and social conditions she needs to optimize her brain health—and that includes things like having access to proper nutrition, exercise, and a safe and stable environment.  

Environmental toxins are bad for the brain at any time in life, so reducing exposure to them is critical—be it air pollution, ingested toxins, and products that may interfere with estrogen production, like certain makeups and plastics. Choosing stainless steel or glass products over plastics can help, drinking filtered water, and avoiding foods that have pesticide residue or a lot of artificial ingredients. Also of primary importance is making sure they’re getting enough sleep during puberty, as sleep is crucial for memory consolidation and learning, stress reduction, and immune system support. Exercise is also essential, as is staying away from drugs and alcohol. The brain is drastically changing during puberty, and it’s important not to compromise it through exposure to unhealthy elements.


What happens to the brain during pregnancy? 

When women become pregnant, their entire bodies, brain included, will experience a huge surge in hormones, followed by a big drop after the baby is born. Many women experience “pregnancy brain,” which consists of lower cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning, according to a meta-analysis on pregnancy and changes in cognition.

In some ways, pregnancy resembles puberty as the brain is exposed to a large influx of hormones that, in this case, prepare you for giving birth, while at the same time affecting brain function, too. We now have some evidence that for some women, the estrogen “baths” a woman’s brain experiences during pregnancy may actually protect her from developing Alzheimer’s down the road. Research also indicates that gestational diabetes might be red flags for developing type 2 diabetes in midlife, which is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

How to protect the brain during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, women need to ensure they are getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. I recommend the Mediterranean diet, filled with vitamins and minerals, healthy fats like olive oil and fish, lean protein, and green leafy vegetables for fiber. I also advise avoiding processed foods, refined sugar, and too much salt—these foods can lead to unhealthy weight gain, fatigue, and even a higher chance of developing high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. 

It’s also important for women to be gentle with themselves during this tumultuous time. There are so many overwhelming changes that happen in the brain and body, in addition to what’s going on around them. Life is going to change dramatically with a baby coming. It’s a source of joy but also a lot of work!


What happens to the brain during perimenopause? 

Women’s brains in midlife seem to be more sensitive to hormonal aging than just chronological aging. Both body and brain experience a change in estrogen production, which in turn triggers myriad modifications to brain structure, brain-region connectivity, and brain energy consumption. Notably, many women going through perimenopause experience a drop in brain energy levels, which in the immediate term manifest themselves as hot flashes and fatigue, and in the long term might make a woman’s brain more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s. 

How to protect the brain during perimenopause. 

The Mediterranean diet has also been recommended for perimenopause, as the nutritious meal plan has been proved to be best for brain health as women age. Women should also keep alcohol to a minimum, avoid smoking, get as much sleep as they can, and reduce stress—as all these factors are known to sink your estrogen. Research shows aerobic exercise can also help improve cognition. 


Men and women appear to develop Alzheimer’s for different reasons: Men’s brains seem to be more sensitive to cardiovascular risk factors, and women’s brains to hormonal and metabolic risk factors. (To find out more about the differences, listen to my episode of the mindbodygreen podcast.) 

Filling the gap between women’s health, neurology, and psychiatry is vital so that women can receive the best and most appropriate preventive care for their brain health during every phase of life. 


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The viral claim won’t protect you against COVID-19—but it might lead to some other unwanted health issues.

From hydroxychloroquine and veterinarian doses of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin, questionable—and potentially harmful—treatments for COVID-19 have circulated the internet since the pandemic first hit. The latest misinformed trend, gargling Betadine to prevent COVID-19 infection, allegedly started on Twitter.

While advice about gargling Betadine or adding it to nasal spray has been gaining traction in anti-vax circles, infectious disease experts say iodine isn’t a safe or reliable way to prevent getting sick with COVID-19. “There’s no evidence that povidone iodine [Betadine] has any impact on COVID-19,” Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Health.

Here’s what you need to know about Betadine—and why doctors really, really don’t want you (or anyone) to start gargling or using it in a nasal spray in hopes of preventing COVID-19.



What exactly is Betadine?

So, Betadine is the brand name for a chemical compound called povidone iodine or iodopovidone. It’s a brownish liquid solution that’s often used as a topical antiseptic—it can sterilize routine cuts and scrapes, or clean skin before stitches or surgical procedures, says Dr. Adalja.

Betadine also has an antiseptic throat gargle made with 0.5% povidone iodine, but it’s only meant to treat and relieve symptoms of a sore throat. There are also medicated douches—made with 0.3% povidone iodne—to help relieve minor vaginal irritation and itching.

Can Betadine help prevent COVID-19 at all?

The short answer: No. Doctors don’t recommend even trying to use Betadine to prevent or treat COVID-19 because there’s no real evidence that supports those claims. It’s not clear where the idea that Betadine could potentially prevent COVID-19 came from, but some studies—though inconclusive—have looked into a connection.

One study, published as a research letter in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, sought to find if nasopharyngeal application of povidone iodine could reduce the viral load of patients with “nonsevere” COVID-19. Researchers chose 12 participants as a control group (meaning no intervention was taken) and 12 patients to rinse their mouths with a solution containing 1% povidone iodine solution four times, spray their nostrils with the same solution, and apply an ointment with 10% povidone iodine to their nostrils. They were instructed to do this four times a day for five days.

The study found that povidone iodine “may reduce the carriage of infectious SARS-CoV-2 in adults with mild to moderate COVID-19″—but that means it was found to only reduce the amount of virus in a person’s nose when they’re already infected with COVID-19. The povidone iodine solution also had some gnarly side effects: 42% of patients exposed to it experienced “thyroid dysfunction” as well as “unpleasant nasal tingling.”

Overall, study authors concluded that more research needed to be done regarding povidone iodine’s effect on excretion and transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And the JAMA study wasn’t the only one to look at povidone iodine (though it was the only one to look at its effect in actual humans). A Letter to the Editor published in the Journal of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery merely suggested the use of “topical povidone iodine to the upper aerodigestive tract.” Another earlier JAMA study also found povidone iodine to be effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus—but only in a lab setting.

None of these studies specifically suggest that Betadine or povidone iodine can help prevent COVID-19, Cassandra M. Pierre, MD, MPH, an infectious disease physician and the medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, tells Health. (Dr. Pierre wasn’t affiliated with any of the studies). She says as of right now, “there’s no reliable data” to suggest that povidone iodine can help prevent COVID-19 or its spread.

Recently, Betadine’s manufacturer, Avrio Health, also published a statement on its website warning customers against using Betadine to prevent COVID-19: “Betadine Antiseptic Sore Throat Gargle is only for the temporary relief of occasional sore throat,” the statement reads. “Betadine Antiseptic products have not been demonstrated to be effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 or any other viruses.”

Are there any dangers of using Betadine as a gargle or nasal spray?

Yep. Aside from being unhelpful, ingesting povidone iodine can also pose health risks. According to Dr. Adalja, povidone iodine is commonly used for a gargle for sore throats, but accidentally ingesting it—whether you swallow it by mouth or put it up your nose and it drips down your throat—could cause gastrointestinal upset.

High doses of povidone iodine could also cause kidney problems, adds Dr. Adalja, along with potentially interfering with thyroid function (which is what happened in the JAMA study, too). Plus, according to Dr. Pierre, it may tarnish the color of a person’s mucus membranes and skin, and even cause pulmonary irritation and shortness of breath,

There is, of course, another danger too: It’s that people are using remedies like povidone iodine instead of the vaccine—which is proven to work. “It’s odd because there’s so much evidence for the vaccine, but people are turning to povidone iodine, which has no evidence,” says Dr. Adalja.

For right now, the best, safest evidence-based methods for preventing COVID-19 (and staving off severe disease and hospitalization) remain to be vaccination and masking. “People are looking for a quick and easy fix,” says Dr. Pierre. “But the quick and easy preventative measure that’s actually safe and proven is getting the vaccine and continuing to wear a mask.”


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