Don’t Let SAD Get the Better of You

SUNDAY, Oct. 13, 2019 — If you suffer from the winter blues, there are things you can do to make the season less depressing.

Clinically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it happens when there is less sunlight during the day, according to Jeannie Larson, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Less sunlight may affect your serotonin level, which affects your mood, and lower levels of serotonin are linked to depression, she said in a university news release.

About 10% of people living in northern areas experience SAD. That’s about 5% of the population of the United States, Larson said. SAD is more common among women, and starts in one’s 20s and 30s.

SAD can make you depressed, anxious and moody. It can also cause sleep and eating problems. You may sleep too much or too little, or gain weight. And you may feel too tired to carry out normal routines. People suffering from SAD also may avoid socializing and lose their sex drive.

To combat SAD, Larson recommends spending 30 minutes outdoors every day.

More information

For more on SAD, head to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Vision Problems Strike More Than 2 Billion Globally

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2019 — More than 2 billion people worldwide suffer vision problems that range from impairment to blindness, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

And at least 1 billion of those people have problems such as short- and far-sightedness, glaucoma and cataracts — all of which could have been prevented or have not been treated.

Eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and far too often they still go untreated,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in a news release from the organization.

“People who need eye care must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Including eye care in national health plans and essential packages of care is an important part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage,” he said.

Aging populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care — particularly in low- and middle-income countries — are among the main reasons for increasing numbers of people with vision problems, according to the report released Tuesday in advance of World Sight Day on Oct. 10.

“It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses,” he added.

Eye conditions and vision impairment tend to be much more common among people in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, according to the WHO’s first report on vision worldwide.

Untreated distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is about four times higher than in high-income regions, and $ 14.3 billion (U.S. dollars) is needed to treat the 1 billion people with vision impairment or blindness due to cataracts, and short- and far-sightedness, the report said.

According to Alarcos Cieza, who leads WHO’s efforts on blindness and deafness prevention, disability and rehabilitation, “Millions of people have severe vision impairment and are not able to participate in society to their fullest because they can’t access rehabilitation services. In a world built on the ability to see, eye care services, including rehabilitation, must be provided closer to communities for people to achieve their maximum potential.”

More information

The WHO has more on blindness and vision impairment.

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Posted: October 2019

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What Foods Are Most Likely to Cause Acne Breakouts?

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2019 — Certain eating habits, high levels of stress and exposure to pollution are among the greatest factors associated with acne, researchers say.

They studied links to acne in more than 6,700 people from six countries in Europe and the Americas. The analysis showed that many more people with acne consume dairy products each day than those without acne — 48.2% versus 38.8%.

The same was true for soda, juices or syrups (35.6% versus 31%); pastries and chocolate (37% versus 27.8%); as well as other sweets (29.7% versus 19.1%).

The study also found that 11% of acne sufferers consume whey proteins compared to 7% of those without acne. And 11.9% of acne sufferers use anabolic steroids versus 3.2% of others.

Exposure to pollution and stress was also more common among people with acne, and they were also more likely to use harsh skin care practices.

The findings reflected an association with acne, but not a cause-and-effect link. The study was scheduled to be presented Saturday at a meeting of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), in Madrid.

Lead author Dr. Brigitte Dreno, head of dermatology at University Hospital of Nantes in France, noted that acne is one of the most common reasons people see a dermatologist.

“Its severity and response to treatment may be influenced by internal and external factors, which we call the exposome,” Dreno said in a meeting news release. “For the first time, this study allows us to identify the most important exposome factors relating to acne from patient questioning prior to any treatment prescription.”

Previous research has suggested that tobacco use is an acne trigger, but this study did not link tobacco with acne.

Acne affects about 1 in 10 people worldwide, and as many as 40% of adult women.

“Understanding, identifying and reducing the impact of exposome is important for an adequate acne disease management as it may impact on the course and severity of acne as well as on treatment efficacy,” said Dreno, who is also chair of the meeting’s Scientific Programming Committee.

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on acne.

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Posted: October 2019

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A Parent’s Guide to Managing Kids’ Asthma During the Fall

SATURDAY, Oct. 12, 2019 — Fall can be a challenging time of the year for kids with asthma, an expert says.

“Although asthma can flare up for a number of reasons, a lot of people with allergies also have asthma, and asthma can be triggered by allergies. So the fall is a tough time for asthmatic sufferers,” said Dr. Gaurav Kumar, a pediatrician at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore.

While many kids do well with their asthma during the summer, problems often accompany the return to school.

“You go from taking these outdoor summer vacations to now being in a classroom again,” Kumar explained. “So now you’re in contact with people in closed spaces. And of course, what happens is germs are more likely to spread that way. So you could get colds from friends who have colds, and then that becomes a trigger for asthma.”

Parents need to make sure their child’s asthma is under control. If a child stopped taking preventive asthma medications regularly during the summer, they should resume daily use now, Kumar advised.

Children with asthma should have checkups at least once a year, and in some cases as often as three or four times a year.

“An asthma checkup is an opportunity for us to reassess how the year has gone and to make plans in anticipation of what might happen,” Kumar said in a LifeBridge Health news release.

A flu shot is also important, because kids with asthma are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. Asthma is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with the flu.

Flu vaccine is “very safe” in children with asthma and “will not cause any negative effects to trigger asthma attacks,” Kumar said.

More information

The American Lung Association offers advice for parents of children with asthma.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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AHA News: Women and Men Tolerate Heart Transplants Equally Well, But Men May Get Better Hearts

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Women are just as likely as men to survive after a heart transplant despite often getting poorer-quality donor hearts, new research shows.

The findings, published this week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, sought to shed new light on what role, if any, gender plays in surviving a heart transplant. Past research on post-transplant survival rates and gender have told conflicting stories.

For the new study, researchers looked at data from 34,198 international heart transplant recipients from 2004 to 2014 and, after adjusting for recipient and donor factors, they found “no significant survival difference” between men and women.

“That’s a pretty novel finding,” said study author Dr. Yasbanoo Moayedi, a postdoctoral medical fellow at Stanford University in California. “We already know that women are hugely under-represented as recipients of heart transplants, but the striking thing about the new findings is there’s no difference in survival when matched to their male counterparts.”

The study also found women who get heart transplants appear to have lower-risk features than male recipients, with fewer instances of diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, peripheral vascular disease and past cardiovascular surgery. Yet, women appear to receive higher-risk hearts than men.

“We need to better understand the matching of risk with recipient,” Moayedi said. “We hypothesize that women tend to deteriorate more acutely, and they’re sicker, so they take any heart that’s available.”

She said the findings suggest women with advanced heart failure need to be referred a bit earlier for transplant.

“One takeaway of the study is that maybe we’re missing the optimal window [for women],” she said. “Many factors may determine access to transplant, but gender should not be one of the them.”

The study was limited by its observational nature and its lack of data on waitlist mortalities, donor race and information about how sick patients where when they received a transplant.

Dr. Monica Colvin, a heart failure-transplant cardiologist who was not involved in the research, called it “a contemporary analysis” because it included newer devices and current medical therapy.

“There have been anecdotes of women having worse survival than men after heart transplant and studies have been conflicting,” said Colvin, director of the Heart Failure Network Strategy at the University of Michigan. “This study should dispel that myth and inform doctors that there really is no difference. We should not delay or defer referral for this lifesaving treatment based on concern for differential survival in women.”

An estimated 6.2 million U.S. adults have heart failure. In 2018, there were 3,408 heart transplants, according to the federal Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

Moayedi would like to see future studies explore why more women don’t undergo heart transplants and how a doctor’s gender might play into that decision.

“Is it that women don’t see themselves worthy enough for a heart transplant? As a patient, should I be more of an advocate for my symptoms? These things need to be looked at more systematically to learn how to best help the patient,” Moayedi said.

Colvin advises women with advanced heart failure to be seen at an advanced heart failure center “and seek out as much information as they can. It’s important to know what all your options are.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Farm-to-Table Movement Goes to School

FRIDAY, Oct. 11, 2019 — There’s a healthy new twist in the farm-to-table movement: Getting farm-fresh food to school lunchrooms and even having students grow their own crops as part of learning.

Colorado was a pioneer in passing the “Farm-to-School Healthy Kids Act” in 2010. The move was designed to increase the use of local farm and ranch products in school food service programs to both improve childhood nutrition and strengthen the state’s agricultural economy. Today, a handful of other states have similar programs.

Some schools also have added programs for growing food to their curriculum. An example is in place at Community School 55 in New York’s South Bronx, thanks to the Green Bronx Machine. Educator Stephen Ritz founded the nonprofit as an after-school alternative program for high schoolers. It’s fully integrated into the core curriculum from kindergarten through high school. Students have grown tens of thousands of pounds of vegetables that go from classroom-to-community.

Ritz turned an underutilized library into the National Health, Wellness and Learning Center, considered the nation’s first career technical education elementary school. The program features a year-round, indoor vertical farm that grows crops regardless of the weather, and a food processing and training kitchen with solar and alternative energy generators. It has served as a model for schools in many areas of the country. You can learn more at greenbronxmachine.org.

National organizations are also devoted to developing farm-to-school programs. You can learn more and become inspired by the National Farm to School Network at farmtoschool.org and, for the youngest “growers,” at Farm to Preschool at farmtopreschool.org.

More information

The National Farm to School Network has a detailed section for starting a program in your community.

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Posted: October 2019

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New Finding Challenges Old Notions About Dyslexia

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 — The cerebellum does not affect reading ability in people with dyslexia, according to a new study that challenges a controversial theory.

The cerebellum is a brain structure traditionally involved in motor function. Some researchers have suggested in the past that it plays a role in dyslexia-related reading problems.

This new study disputes that theory and could lead to improved treatment of dyslexia, according to scientists from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“Prior imaging research on reading in dyslexia had not found much support for this theory … but these studies tended to focus on the cortex,” explained study first author Sikoya Ashburn, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience.

“Therefore, we tackled the question by specifically examining the cerebellum in more detail. We found no signs of cerebellar involvement during reading in skilled readers nor differences in children with reading disability,” Ashburn said in a Georgetown news release.

In the study, the researchers used functional MRI to monitor brain activation in 23 children with and 23 children without dyslexia while they read. The results showed that the cerebellum is not engaged during reading in typical readers and does not differ in children who have dyslexia.

“The evidence for the cerebellar deficit theory was never particularly strong, yet people have jumped on the idea and even developed treatment approaches targeting the cerebellum,” said senior study author and neuroscientist Guinevere Eden, She is a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Georgetown and director of its Center for the Study of Learning.

The study was published Oct. 9 in the journal Human Brain Mapping.

The findings could help refine models of dyslexia and assist parents of children who are struggling with reading to make informed decisions about which treatment would be best for their children, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on dyslexia.

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Posted: October 2019

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Barley: A Tasty Alternative to Rice

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 — Looking for a simple yet delicious way to enjoy whole grains? Start with nutritious, easy-to-cook barley, a great swap for processed grains like white rice.

When shopping, choose hulled barley instead of pearl. Hulled barley retains more of the outer bran layer with its fiber and nutrients. Pearl parley has had most of the bran layer “polished” off.

Hearty barley is a staple in Europe. In the United States, it’s often used as an ingredient in soups and stews, but there’s no reason to relegate it to those dishes. To cook barley for a fast breakfast or side dish, for every two servings, use a half-cup barley to a cup and a half of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the grains are tender and most of the water has evaporated. Top with cinnamon in the morning or herbs for dinner — it’s that versatile. But don’t stop there. Try this twist on traditional risotto for a one-pot meal.

Mushroom Barley “Risotto”

  • 1 cup dry hulled barley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 ounces mushrooms, such as button or crimini, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

Place the barley in a small saucepan along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 45 to 50 minutes until the grains are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

Warm a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are tender. Add mushrooms and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, until the mushrooms are soft.

Stir in the barley and the broth, cooking 1 minute more. Turn the heat to low and stir in the cheeses until melted. Garnish with fresh basil and thyme, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

More information

The George Mateljan Foundation has more on barley and its health benefits.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Humans May Possess Ability to Regrow Cartilage

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 — Humans may lack the salamander skill of regrowing a limb, but a new study suggests they do have some capacity to restore cartilage in their joints.

The findings run counter to a widely held belief: Because the cartilage cushioning your joints lacks its own blood supply, your body can’t repair damage from an injury or the wear-and-tear of aging.

And that, in part, is why so many people eventually develop osteoarthritis, where broken-down cartilage causes pain and stiffness in the joints.

But that lack of blood supply does not mean there’s no regenerative capacity in the cartilage, according to Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus, the senior researcher on the new study.

In fact, her team found evidence that human cartilage can, to some degree, renew itself, using a molecular process similar to the one that allows a salamander to grow a new limb.

The researchers are calling it the “inner salamander capacity.”

“For the first time, we have evidence that the joint has the capacity to repair itself,” said Kraus, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.

Specifically, she explained, that capability exists in a “gradient.” It’s greatest in the ankle, less apparent in the knee, and lowest in the hip.

And that makes sense if this repair capability is an artifact of evolution, according to Kraus. Animals that regenerate tissue have the greatest capacity for it in the distal portions of the body — the parts “most likely to get chewed off.”

Dr. Scott Rodeo, an orthopedic surgeon not involved in the study, said the findings raise some interesting questions.

For one, he said, could this be a partial explanation for why osteoarthritis is common in the knees and hips, but not the ankles?

“It’s been assumed that it’s related to the biomechanics of the joints,” said Rodeo, an attending surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.

But this study, he said, suggests there might be intrinsic differences in the joints’ ability to repair cartilage.

The other major question, Rodeo said, is whether this newfound human capacity can translate into new treatments for arthritis. “Can we better understand the basic biology, and harness it?” he asked.

For the study, Kraus and her colleagues analyzed proteins in samples of joint cartilage that had been removed from patients having surgery. The researchers developed a method for gauging the “age” of those proteins, based on the premise that young proteins have little to no evidence of “conversions” of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), while older proteins have many conversions.

Overall, the investigators found, ankle cartilage showed the greatest number of young proteins. Knee cartilage looked more middle-aged, and hip cartilage had relatively few young proteins and plenty of old.

In addition, the study found, molecules called microRNAs seem to regulate the process. They were more abundant in ankle cartilage than tissue from knees and hips, and in the top layers of cartilage, versus the deeper layers.

As it happens, microRNAs also help salamanders regrow lost limbs.

The findings were published online Oct. 9 in the journal Science Advances.

It all raises the possibility that the innate repair capacity in cartilage can be augmented, according to Kraus. Could, for example, injectable microRNA drugs be used to boost cartilage self-repair?

No one is saying science is close to helping humans grow new limbs. But, Kraus said, understanding the fundamental mechanisms behind tissue regeneration — figuring out what salamanders have that people are missing — could eventually lead to ways to repair various tissues in the human body.

Rodeo agreed. “Can we learn lessons from animals that do regenerate tissue, and apply that to humans?”

Both he and Kraus said there is a “huge” need for innovative ways to treat osteoarthritis, which affects roughly 27 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. There is no cure, and current treatments are aimed at managing symptoms.

When people are disabled by arthritis, Kraus noted, that can also raise their risk of other major health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more on osteoarthritis treatment.

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Posted: October 2019

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Veggies’ Popularity Is All in the Name

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 9, 2019 — How do you make healthy food more popular? Start by giving it a yummy-sounding name, researchers say.

People are much more likely to choose good-for-you foods like broccoli or carrots if labeled with names that emphasize taste over nutritional value, according to Alia Crum, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, and her colleagues.

In previous research, Crum’s team found that Stanford students were far more likely to go for decadent-sounding veggies like “twisted citrus glazed carrots” over an equivalent option that might be labeled “dietetic carrots.” The key, however, is the food must actually be tasty, the new study confirms.

“This is radically different from our current cultural approach to healthy eating which, by focusing on health to the neglect of taste, inadvertently instills the mindset that healthy eating is tasteless and depriving,” Crum, senior author of the new report, said in a university news release.

“And yet in retrospect, it’s like, of course, why haven’t we been focusing on making healthy foods more delicious and indulgent all along?” she added.

In the new study, the researchers tracked food choices made by students enrolled across a network of 57 U.S. colleges and universities. The investigators looked at 71 vegetable dishes labeled with either taste-focused, health-focused or neutral names.

Students were 29% more likely to select veggies when taste was emphasized rather than health. And they were 14% more likely to consume vegetables that had a tasty-sounding name instead of a nondescript name, such as “orange vegetable.”

Diners also ended up eating nearly 40% more vegetables (by weight) when appetizing marketing was deployed, the findings showed.

Mouth-watering names increase a diner’s expectation of a yummy meal, Crum said. Certain key words — such as “garlic,” “ginger,” “roasted,” “sizzling,” and “tavern-style” — seem to do the trick, she noted.

Knowing this could make a difference in the effort to get people, particularly young people, to eat more healthfully, the study authors said.

According to study co-author Bradley Turnwald, “College students have among the lowest vegetable intake rates of all age groups. Students are learning to make food decisions for the first time in the midst of new stresses, environments and food options. It’s a critical window for establishing positive relationships with healthy eating.”

The report was published online Oct. 2 in Psychological Science.

More information

There’s more about healthy eating at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Posted: October 2019

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Only a Third of Pregnant Women Getting Vaccinations They Need

TUESDAY, Oct. 8, 2019 — About two-thirds of pregnant women in the United States don’t get vaccinated against both flu and whooping cough, putting them and their newborns at risk, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

“Influenza and pertussis (or whooping cough) are serious infections that can be deadly for babies, especially those who are too young to be vaccinated directly,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said in a news briefing on Tuesday.

But when women receive these vaccines during pregnancy, they pass along antibodies to the fetus that then provide protection during the time newborns are too young to be vaccinated.

The vaccines also benefit expectant mothers, Schuchat stressed.

“Women who are pregnant are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they develop influenza, compared with similar-aged women during influenza season,” she said.

But as the new CDC report found, only a minority of pregnant American women are getting the shots they need.

The agency surveyed nearly 2,100 women aged 18 to 49 who were pregnant between August 2018 and April 2019. Of those, 54% said they got a flu shot before or during pregnancy, and 55% were vaccinated for whooping cough while pregnant.

That could mean more pregnant women becoming very ill, the report also found.

Looking at data on all 15- to 44-year-old women who were hospitalized due to flu since 2010, between 24% and 34% were pregnant, the CDC study found, even though only 9% of U.S. women in this age group are pregnant at any given time each year.

“Women have enough issues to address when they’re pregnant without going through a difficult hospitalization if they come down with influenza,” Schuchat said.

In total, only about 35% of women received both vaccinations during pregnancy, the CDC said.

Dr. Laura Riley, an obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, in New York City, said, “The numbers are much lower than they should be and it is disappointing given the benefits for moms and babies associated with these vaccines.” She said the numbers may be low because they came from an online survey that depended on patient recall.

But, Riley added, it’s important for pregnant women to get protection from the flu. “If they get the flu, [they] are at greater risk for having severe complications like ICU admission, maternal death, prematurity, preterm labor,” she explained.

The survey found that women whose health care providers offered or referred them for shots had the highest vaccination rates. Black women had lower rates than women in other racial/ethnic groups, and were less likely to report being offered or referred for vaccination, the findings showed.

The CDC recommends all pregnant women get a flu shot at any stage of pregnancy and the whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) early in the third trimester as part of routine prenatal care.

A flu shot reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized due to flu by an average of 40%, a recent study found.

The flu is also dangerous for babies, especially those younger than 6 months. They are too young to get their own flu shot and have the highest incidence of flu-related hospitalization and greatest risk of flu-related death among children.

Flu vaccination in pregnant women reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization for infants under 6 months of age by an average of 72%, according to the CDC.

And whooping cough can be deadly, especially before babies start getting the vaccine at 2 months of age. Two-thirds of babies under 2-months-old who get the disease require hospital care. Seven of 10 whooping cough deaths (69%) occur in that age group.

Tdap vaccination during the third trimester of pregnancy prevents more than 78% of whooping cough in babies under 2-months-old.

Schuchat suggested that many women may have the mistaken belief they are already protected.

“Many women thought because they previously received it (Tdap) that it was not needed again during the current pregnancy,” she said during the news briefing. “But we’ve actually been recommending women get Tdap shots during each pregnancy since 2012.”

And for any woman wary of getting vaccinated, Schuchat said that “it’s been proven repeatedly that these vaccinations are safe for pregnant women and their developing babies.”

Dr. Amanda Cohn, chief medical officer at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, called on obstetricians and midwives to discuss the importance of maternal vaccination with their pregnant patients.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield underscored the point.

“All expectant mothers should be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care,” he said in a CDC news release. “CDC strongly recommends that health care providers speak with moms-to-be about the benefits of safe Tdap and flu vaccination for their health and the well-being of their babies.”

The new research was published Oct. 8 in the CDC’s Vital Signs report.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy and vaccines.

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Posted: October 2019

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Is Online Fitness Training Right for You?

TUESDAY, Oct. 8, 2019 — You say that you can’t get to the gym or afford to hire your own personal trainer, but you want a routine made just for you. It might not be mission impossible after all.

Why not consider online fitness training with your computer, smartphone or tablet, and a workout pro on the other end? There are almost as many of these offerings as there are exercises themselves.

Some websites offer live action, two-way trainer-led workouts with the instructor watching you and able to give corrections. Others offer customized routines that you follow from a video library or with an app. Many will track your progress and update your routine as needed. Some provide monthly consultation phone calls or video chats or feedback when you send in a videotaped workout, and answer your questions via text. As you investigate the choices, check that the trainer is certified by an established fitness organization.

Leading Certifying Fitness Organizations

  • American Council on Exercise
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • American College of Sports Medicine

Ask for references and read comments on social media, not just testimonials posted on the website. Beware of unrealistic promises. Compare the costs from different companies so that you know what you’re getting for your money.

Online training isn’t right for everyone, especially if you’re out of shape or have medical issues. But even then, it could help during the second stage of a fitness plan after getting an in-person assessment and workout routine.

More information

ConsumersAdvocate.org has reviews of many online fitness programs to start your search.

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Posted: October 2019

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Cooking Food Changes Makeup of Gut Bacteria

MONDAY, Oct. 7, 2019 — Cooking food has a fundamental impact on what bacteria live in your gut, a new study finds.

“Our lab and others have studied how different kinds of diet — such as vegetarian versus meat-based diets — impact the microbiome [gut bacteria],” said senior study author Peter Turnbaugh, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We were surprised to discover that no one had studied the fundamental question of how cooking itself alters the composition of the microbial ecosystems in our guts,” he added in a university news release.

In mice, the researchers found that raw or cooked meat had no discernible effect on their gut bacteria. Raw and cooked sweet potatoes, however, had a significant effect on the animals’ microbiomes.

The researchers confirmed this finding by feeding the mice other raw and cooked vegetables.

The study authors attribute the differences they found to the small intestine’s ability to take in more cooked food, depriving bacteria further down in the gut.

Raw vegetables, however, have compounds that seem to damage certain microbes, the investigators found.

“We were surprised to see that the differences were not only due to changing carbohydrate metabolism but also may be driven by the chemicals found in plants,” Turnbaugh said. “To me, this really highlights the importance of considering the other components of our diet and how they impact gut bacteria.”

The researchers also found that raw diets caused mice to lose weight, but when they transplanted the microbes of these mice into other mice, those animals gained weight — a paradox that still needs explaining.

In a separate step, the researchers fed raw and cooked meals to a group of human volunteers. In humans, these diets each changed the participants’ microbiomes, the researchers found.

“It was exciting to see that the impact of cooking we see in rodents is also relevant to humans, although interestingly, the specifics of how the microbiome was affected differed between the two species,” Turnbaugh said. “We’re very interested in doing larger and longer intervention and observational studies in humans to understand the impact of longer-term dietary changes.”

Understanding how diet affects the microbiome has implications for how gut microbes influence weight gain and other areas of health, Turnbaugh said.

The study also raises questions about how human microbes have evolved, he said, and if this could have implications for overall health.

The report was published Sept. 30 in the journal Nature Microbiology.

More information

For more on the microbiome, head to the Harvard School of Public Health.

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Posted: October 2019

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Health Tip: What to Expect When Your Eyes Are Dilated

— When dilating your eyes, your doctor will put a small amount of eye drop solution into each of your eyes, says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Within 30 minutes, your pupils should fully open.

Your vision will be blurry, and focusing on close objects will be difficult. And you will be extra sensitive to bright light.

The effects of dilating eye drops last up to several hours, so the academy recommends having someone drive you home after your appointment.

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Posted: October 2019

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Fewer Teeth, Higher Risk of Heart Disease?

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2018 — Losing teeth may be associated with higher risk for heart disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied nearly 317,000 Americans between 40 and 79 years of age. They found that 28% of those who had lost all their teeth to gum disease also had heart problems, compared with 7% of those who kept all their teeth.

The researchers found that people with some missing teeth were more likely to develop heart disease, even when accounting for factors such as age, weight, race, tobacco and alcohol use, and dental visits.

“Our results support that there is a relationship between dental health and cardiovascular health,” said lead author Dr. Hamad Mohammed Qabha. He’s chief medical and surgical intern at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The findings were scheduled to be presented Thursday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The study only revealed an association rather than a cause-and-effect link.

“If a person’s teeth fall out, there may be other underlying health concerns,” Qabha said in a meeting news release. “Clinicians should be recommending that people in this age group receive adequate oral health care to prevent the diseases that lead to tooth loss in the first place and as potentially another way of reducing risk of future cardiovascular disease.”

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

For more about steps to prevent heart disease, visit the American Heart Association.

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Posted: October 2019

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