- 5 Foods That Ease PMS Symptoms
- You Asked: Which Foods Are Treated With Antibiotics?
- How Parents Can Help Their Children With Autism: Study
Posted: 26 Oct 2016 09:00 AM PDT
Fatigue, acne, bloating, cravings, mood swings—sound painfully familiar? PMS can trigger a slew of physical and emotional symptoms a week or two before your period starts. And 85% of women experience at least one of those symptoms every month, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
But here’s the good news: Your diet may help ease your discomfort. You may already be cutting back on sodium, sugar, and alcohol—all of which can make PMS feel worse. But did you know that eating certain foods can help alleviate symptoms? Below are my top five picks (including chocolate!) for that time of the month.
If bloating, cravings, and muscle cramps are among your usual PMS symptoms (oh, joy), load up on avocado. This good-fat food contains potassium, a mineral that acts as a natural diuretic, sweeping excess sodium and fluid out of your body. Potassium also helps protect against muscle cramps, and it boosts feelings of satiety (so you’ll be less inclined to over-nibble).
Kitchen prep: Whip avocado into a fruit smoothie, add it to an omelet or salad, snack on raw veggies dipped in guacamole, or add diced avocado to pico de gallo and toss it on veggies, fish, or beans. Or, just slice an avocado in half, sprinkle with a little lime juice and turmeric, and dig in with a spoon.
Beets and beet greens
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which tracked more than 3,000 women for 10 years, found a lower PMS risk among those with high intakes of vitamins B1 and B2. But the most interesting part (in my opinion) was that this only held true for people who go the vitamins from food, not supplements. One tasty option that contains both B1 and B2: cooked beet greens.
And don’t forget about that nutritious and tasty beet flesh! Just one cup supplies about a third of your daily folate needs. Too little folate has been known to trigger mental fatigue, forgetfulness, confusion, and insomnia. (FYI: several common medications can deplete folate in the body, including birth control pills.) Fortunately, beets are in season year-round.
Kitchen prep: Boil the greens, cool, then sauté over low heat in EVOO with garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. They make a delicious side dish or bed for fish, chicken, or white beans. When it comes to the beet bulbs, eat them raw to optimize their nutrients. Peel, shred, and sprinkle fresh beets onto a salad, or whip chopped raw beets into a smoothie. They’re not only naturally sweet, but also add a gorgeous hue to your food.
When University of Massachusetts researchers studied women between the ages of 27 and 44, they found that those with high intakes of both vitamin D and calcium had a lower risk of experiencing PMS symptoms. Luckily, sardines pack both nutrients. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which other research has found may help reduce PMS-induced bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, depression, nervousness, anxiety, and lack of concentration.
Kitchen prep: Pick up a can of sardines packed in water, roast them on a baking sheet, then chop and toss with veggies (like tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and spinach) sautéed in olive oil and garlic. Serve your sardine and veg medley over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash and fresh chopped basil.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women with higher intakes of non-heme iron, the type found in plant-based foods, had a lower risk of PMS symptoms compared to those with the lowest intakes. A top source of non-heme iron is pulses—the umbrella term for beans, lentils, and peas (like chickpeas and split peas). Pulses are also full of fiber, another key remedy for PMS. It helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, to keep energy levels steady. Just a half cup of cooked black beans packs over seven grams, about a third of the minimum daily target.
If you’re concerned about extra gas and bloating, consider this: An Arizona State University study that asked volunteers to eat a half cup of beans daily found that only 35% of the group experienced such unwanted “side effects,” which also lessened each week as their bodies adjusted to the dietary change.
Kitchen prep: Up your intake by adding chickpeas or black beans to an omelet or salad. Or reach for hummus with raw veggies as a snack. You can also trade your usual grain for lentils at dinner, or make a meatless meal with pulses as the star ingredient.
Health.com: 10 Protein-Packed Pulse Recipes that Satisfy
It’s true! Dark chocolate alleviates PMS symptoms in several ways. First, its antioxidants trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. That may be why research has shown that enjoying about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate daily for two weeks can reduce stress hormone levels. This treat also contains magnesium, a mineral that has been found to help alleviate PMS symptoms like bloating, fatigue, depression, and irritability. Finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that may enhance mood, and even trigger a sense of euphoria that’s similar to the feeling of being in love.
Kitchen prep: Enjoy a few squares without any distractions (that means no phone, no TV) as part of daily “you time.” Think of it as chocolate meditation. Or chop and sprinkle dark chocolate into oatmeal or Greek yogurt along with fresh fruit. Whip it into a smoothie (my favorite combo is dark chocolate, ripe pear, fresh grated ginger, and almond or coconut milk). Or melt and drizzle over fresh berries. You’re welcome.
Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Posted: 26 Oct 2016 07:24 AM PDT
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of antibiotics in modern medicine. By blocking the spread of infection-causing bacteria, antibiotics make surgery, chemotherapy and many other medical procedures possible. By killing infectious diseases like tuberculosis, antibiotics save millions of lives each year.
But at least as far back as 1945, health experts have warned that overusing antibiotics could lead to so-called “superbugs,” or sickness-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibacterial drugs. “Bacteria are wily, and they evolve very quickly,” says Lena Brook, a food safety and policy expert with the non-profit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “So we always knew we were operating on a limited timeframe in terms of an antibiotic’s effectiveness.”
“We understood the limitations, but for a long time we assumed there’d always be another drug, and so this wouldn’t be a big deal,” says Dr. Lance Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University. “But now we’re seeing new bacteria that have built up resistance to nearly all our drugs.”
The threat posed by these antibiotic-resistant bacteria is not theoretical, and it is not a problem for future generations. This year, at least 2 million Americans will be infected with drug-resistant bacteria and 23,000 will die, CDC data show. According to Jean Whichard, who heads the CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Laboratory, antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. “Illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics are becoming more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat,” Whichard says.
What does all this have to do with your food? “Antibiotics are used heavily in animal agriculture, mostly to encourage growth and to compensate for the stressful, unsanitary conditions these animals live in,” the NRDC’s Brook explains. This heavy antibiotic use accelerates the speed at which bacteria evolve and develop drug resistance. (Antibiotics are also used to treat some produce and farmed fish. “But we don’t have a good handle on how much that’s threatening human health,” Price adds.)
Once these drug-resistant bacteria exist, there are many ways for them to spread to people, Brook says. Eating bacteria-riddled meat or poultry is one way. These bacteria can also move from animals to the general public via air, soil, water or people who work on farms and around the animals, she explains.
Experts are also concerned about the overuse of antibiotics in medical settings. (CDC researchers estimate a third of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary.) But 70% of all antibiotics that are important to human medicine go toward livestock production, according to the FDA. And that figure is going up, not down. Sales and distribution of medically important antibiotics for use in food-producing animals jumped 23% between 2009 and 2014, the FDA estimates.
The CDC’s Whichard says new government regulations—set to take effect in January 2017—will curb the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals unless there’s a therapeutic need. But Price says the new regulations contain loopholes that could allow food producers to keep using antibiotics in much the same way they have in the past.
So what can you do about this? At the supermarket and at restaurants, demand antibiotic-free meat. “Buy animal products labeled ‘raised without antibiotics,’ ” Price advises. Brook agrees, and highlights a recent NRDC report that graded major restaurant chains based on their use of antibiotic-laden meat or poultry. Only two—Panera Bread and Chipotle—received “A” grades. “Chipotle and Panera have really taken this issue mainstream and are setting a new course for the fast food and fast casual industry when it comes to antibiotic safety,” she says.
Apart from making a statement with your food purchases, Price says the public needs to demand that their leaders take action on this issue. “Despite all the unequivocal evidence showing harm to human health, the U.S. has been lagging behind Europe on this issue from a regulatory standpoint,” he says. FDA and USDA have taken “baby steps” toward correcting the problem of antibiotic overuse in food production, he says. “But we should be running toward our goal.”
He adds: “We’re not going to fall off the cliff all at once. But unless we do something, we’re going to return to a time where a child gets a scrape and dies of an infection. This is something we should all be fighting to stop.”
Posted: 25 Oct 2016 03:30 PM PDT
Though there’s no cure for autism, studies suggest that interventions can help improve some of the common developmental issues that accompany the disorder. A new study shows that one intervention in particular, led by the parents of children with autism, can reduce some symptoms of the disease over several years.
In the new report published in the journal The Lancet, UK researchers looked at the results of a study called the Preschool Autism Communication Trial. In that study, 152 kids from ages two to four were randomly assigned to a year of a parent-led intervention, in which their parents interacted with them and received feedback from a therapist. The parents were filmed, and later they watched the videos with a therapist to discuss the interactions.
For example, a child might make a vocalization that may not be very clear or even seem directed at the parent, but is a try at communicating, says study author Tony Charman, chair in clinical child psychology at King’s College London. “Sometimes it might be natural for a parent at the beginning of the therapy to not notice that attempt at communication,” he says. “The therapist can help the parent see that as an opportunity: how can they respond or locate those cues?”
The parents had 12 therapy sessions over six months, then received support each month for another six months. Six years later, the researchers analyzed 121 of the original children from the study and assessed their autism severity based on a standard measurement scale that looks at the child’s symptoms. The children started the study with similar scores, but after six years, the kids who had the intervention early in life scored better. Those children had 17% fewer symptoms than their peers; they had better communication skills and were less likely to show repetitive behaviors. The children did not appear to have notable improvements in their language skills or anxiety levels from the therapy, however.
“We think the results are encouraging and even possibly somewhat surprising,” says Charman. “This follow up took place six years after a one-year treatment had ended, and an awful lot of things would’ve happened to these children in the meantime.”
Charman says the fact that the children showed increases in their communication skills over the long term “is remarkable and isn’t something people have been able to demonstrate up until this point.”
There are also benefits for parents who use this form of therapy with their children, who are sometimes confused, bewildered and distressed by the behavior of their young children, he says. “You are changing the understanding the parent has of their young child,” says Charman. “This intervention is giving them tools to improve their interactions and see the communication developing with their children, and that’s quite empowering for parents.”
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