- The 7 Best Ways to Beat Election Stress
- How to Buy Healthy Food Without Reading the Nutrition Label
- Think Twice Before Posting About Your Kid Online, Pediatricians Say
- Why Fitness Trackers Aren’t Making Us Healthier
- Six-Year-Old Pakistani Girl With Rare Genetic Disease Awaits U.S. Visa
- This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Exercising
- STD Cases Reach a Record High in the U.S.
Posted: 21 Oct 2016 07:59 AM PDT
Election Day is less than a month away. For many Americans, that day can’t come soon enough—for the sake of their mental health. A recent survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 52% of American adults say the 2016 election is a somewhat significant—or very significant—source of stress in their lives, regardless of whether they’re Republican or Democrat.
“I think many people are shocked, saddened and stupefied by how hostile and out of the traditional bounds this has been,” says Joan Cook, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and TIME contributor. “Some seem to be caught up in the furor and are joining in the hate speech. And that certainly seems to be scaring or terrifying others.”
All of those feelings of anger, fear and stress can take a toll on the body. Stress can tense muscles, cause nausea and dampen a person’s libido. Bouts of severe emotion cause the body to initiate a stress response that can spur blood pressure and inflammation, and chronic stress can cause lasting problems.
“If you have one argument between now and the end of the election with someone, and it lasts for five to 10 minutes, you’ll have a stress response but it will go away,” says Lorenzo Cohen, director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “But we aren’t talking about one or two arguments. People could have arguments [about the election] every day.”
Thankfully, there are ways people can deal with election-induced angst and feel better over the next few weeks. Here are 7 expert-backed tips:
Restrict your news intake to a reasonable amount. “Reading the news in print and generally limiting consumption during national crises allows people a measured dose of what is happening,” says Cook, “but seems to decrease one’s susceptibility to get over-engaged or overwhelmed.” If the constant coverage is affecting your mood, sleep or ability to work, Cook recommends setting aside times during the day to check the news, and leaving it alone outside of them.
Take three deep breaths. It’s a recommended practice in types of meditation and faith-based traditions, says Cohen. Breathing deeply helps lower levels of stress hormones and can cause biological changes in the body that have a calming effect.
Maintain a healthy routine. “During times of stress, individuals may not feel like themselves,” says Cook. “Having a set organized schedule can put familiarity and controllability back in place.” Keep up your normal routine, and don’t forget to engage in healthy behaviors like eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising.
Reserve some mindfulness minutes. Meditation is a well-studied method to ease stressful emotions, and a 2015 study showed mindfulness meditation can be as effective as exercise at lowering stress. You don’t even have to sit still to do it. Other research has shown that doing everyday tasks like washing the dishes can have similar calming effects, as long as you do them mindfully.
Try to have meaningful discussions about the election. “If you’re able to keep your cool and your perspective, and you know the other person can as well, then great,” says Cook. “Discuss away, and be respectful. Seek understanding, not blame or trying to change someone else’s mind. Honesty and communication are the keystones of healthy, close relationships.”
Know when—and how—to stop yourself. Not every chat about the election is going to be smooth sailing. It’s ok to disengage. “If we can’t listen empathically and genuinely try to understand others’ perspectives, we might want to, at least for now, stay clear of these kinds of conversations,” says Cook. If a discussion isn’t going to be productive, set a boundary and say, “‘No thanks, I’d rather not discuss the election,'” Cook recommends. If a person continues to want to argue, try this line: “’I do not want to discuss the election with you. I find it very upsetting. And if you keep bringing this up, I’m going to have to walk away, hang up and temporarily stop our correspondence,'” says Cook.
Send good vibes to people of a different political party. More meditation, but this time with a twist. Cohen recommends a type called loving-kindness meditation, during which people send good wishes to others. Start by sending them to someone you know, then someone you feel neutral about, then a person you struggle with—someone you’ve been arguing with about the election, for instance. “Send out love and kindness to that person,” he says. “We are all human beings, and elections will come and go, but our relationships with other people are more important.”
Posted: 21 Oct 2016 07:06 AM PDT
Vegan? High-fat? Gluten-free? So many of my clients complain about how difficult it is to keep up with what’s healthy these days, especially when it comes to buying anything packaged. Most aren’t sure what to look out for on nutrition labels, and are often surprised when I give the thumbs-down to a product they thought was a smart purchase.
To help with this struggle, I advise my clients to keep it simple when it comes to deciding if a product deserves a place in their grocery cart. Here’s my easy-to-remember three-step strategy for choosing and enjoying the best packaged foods.
Look at the ingredients first
In my opinion, the most important thing to look for is clean, whole-food ingredients. In other words, if a product’s ingredient list reads like a recipe you could make in your own kitchen, I consider it “homemade for you,” and generally a nutritious bet. Meanwhile, a product that is low in carbs, contains fewer calories, or more fiber—all things that many people equate with “healthy”—may actually be heavily processed and contain unwanted additives that serve no purpose in the body. So first and foremost, be sure to choose quality products based on ingredients, not marketing claims and numbers.
Categorize your foods
Once you’ve purchased a clean, nutritious product, figure out what food group it fits into. A bag of frozen broccoli florets, for example, counts as a veggie, while canned wild salmon as a protein, pre-made guacamole as a good fat, and frozen, pre-cooked quinoa as a starch. Once you know where a food fits, you’ll be able to build it into a healthy meal or snack. That’s important, because even if a food is very healthy, eating it in excess can interfere with energy, weight management, blood sugar regulation, and other health goals. I’ve had clients tell me they feel okay about eating an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting because it’s low in calories. But here’s what they didn’t realize: the calories are low per serving, but an entire bag of popcorn packs the carbs and fat of four slices of bread and nearly four tablespoons of oil.
Customize your portions
I don’t believe in counting calories or grams. Instead, I focus on simple meal-building strategies based on portions.
Nearly everyone should include veggies, lean protein, good fat, and wholesome carbs in their meals, but the amounts vary depending on height, age, sex, and physical activity level. A tall man needs larger portions than a petite woman, and a person who goes for a 5-mile run every day requires more food than someone who rarely works out.
So let’s say you’ve purchased a healthy pasta, like buckwheat soba noodles, or penne made with brown rice or pulses. If you’re a petite or older woman who is going to be sitting in the hours after dinner, that pasta should be considered a meal accent, perhaps in a portion even smaller than the serving size stated on the package. A younger, taller man who is about to start the night shift of a physically demanding job, on the other hand, can afford to eat multiple pasta portions at dinner to meet his body’s greater energy demands. In a nutshell, this approach really comes down to balance and customization.
Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store, just remember to choose high quality, clean ingredient products, understand how they fit into your diet, and tailor your portions to your body’s needs. If you follow these three steps you don’t need to get caught up in comparing calorie counts, grams of carbs and fat, or percentages. And you won’t fall into the trap of overeating your healthy buys.
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: 21 Oct 2016 04:50 AM PDT
More than 90% of two-year-olds already have a presence online, and about one-third first appear within their first 24 hours of life. Now pediatricians are to warn that parents should be more careful about how often—and what— they post about their children online.
A new study into the issue, which will be presented Friday at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2016 National Conference & Exhibition, will recommend that parents often need to be more careful about protecting the online identities of their children, becoming familiar with the privacy policies of the websites they post on and never sharing their child’s location in a post.
The authors will suggest that parents should give their children some agency over their social media identity by giving the kids “veto power” over photos and other posts about them.
“Parents often consider how to best protect children while the child is using the internet,” said Bahareh Keith, director of the pediatric global health track and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine. “However, parents–including myself, initially–don’t always consider how their own use of social media may affect their children’s well-being.”
Posted: 20 Oct 2016 07:30 PM PDT
(COLOMBO, Sri Lanka) — A desperate Pakistani family anxiously awaiting a U.S. visa for their ailing little girl is running out of time: Maria is just six years old but a rare genetic disease has left her frail body wracked with pain and stunted her growth.
Soon she will be unable to walk because her vertebrae are compressing her spinal cord.
A U.S. hospital has offered to perform a surgery for free that could significantly improve Maria’s quality of her life, but the American Embassy in Islamabad has so far twice refused to give the family visas to travel to the United States, said the girl’s father, Shahid Ullah speaking to The Associated Press by phone from Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
When he submitted a visa application again, he was told it will “take time,” he said. Frustrated and frightened, Ullah has now turned to an American lawyer, Facebook and the media for help, starting a campaign he says could be his daughter’s last resort.
The surgery in the U.S. has been scheduled for Nov. 2 and Ullah is pleading with anyone who will listen that Maria’s “case is different.”a
“If we delay Maria’s surgery, there will be too many problems,” said Ullah, who runs a small store selling blankets in the town of Rawalpindi, near the capital of Islamabad. He said Maria has to be in the United States by next Wednesday for pre-surgery tests.
He said he embarked on the tortuous quest to find help for Maria nearly four years ago, researching her condition, sending her blood and urine samples to laboratories in India and Germany, connected with families of children with the same disorder, known as Morquio Syndrome.
Through the internet, he tracked down doctors with expertise in Maria’s condition and families with children who suffer from the same disease from countries as far as Chile, Britain and America steered him to the Nemours/Alfred I DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware.
“From all over the world parents with children with the same disease helped me, they were so kind,” he said. Families with children like Maria also rallied behind Ullah and began crowd funding on Facebook .
Unlike in previous attempts to get a U.S. visa, when Ullah applied for the entire family and was told U.S. authorities feared they would not return to Pakistan, this time he said he only applied for a visa for Maria, himself and his wife. He plans to leave his other two children, a 7-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old boy, behind with relatives during their stay in America, which is expected to take five months.
“I don’t know what to do . . . who should I contact,” he says. “Maria is in a lot of pain now … she can no longer hold a pencil or a pen.”
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Fleur S. Cowan declined to comment on Maria’s case, citing privacy laws, but said she would look into the matter. In Washington, the State Departments said visa records are confidential under U.S. law and that it could not “comment on the specifics of an individual visa case.”
The Delaware hospital first reduced the cost of the $100,000 surgery to $82,000, Ullah said, but when it was clear he could not afford it, the Nemours Foundation said it would cover the full cost of the procedure.
“The hope is to do the surgery for the child . . . without any cost to the family,” said Chris Manning, who is with the Nemours Children’s Health System public relations department, adding that the hospital has done multiple surgeries such as the one required for Maria.
He added that the hospital also sent documentation to the embassy in Pakistan to facilitate Ullah’s visa application.
Melissa Harms, a California lawyer, offered to help pro bono when she heard of Maria’s troubles from a client whose child has the same disorder.
“I was appalled,” she said. In an email to The Associated Press Harms said that housing for the family in the U.S. has been arranged and “the airline tickets have been donated.”
“All of this will go to waste if we can’t get these visas approved this week,” she said.
Posted: 20 Oct 2016 12:37 PM PDT
There comes a point in almost every fitness lover’s life when they consider throwing in the towel after a workout—both figuratively and literally. Blame it on your looming work deadlines, or the stubborn needle on the scale, or even just plain old boredom.
That’s normal. But here’s why you shouldn’t follow through on the temptation to just quit: There are plenty of benefits to exercise, but they’re not permanent. In fact, many of those hard-earned gains will start to disappear in as little as two weeks, says Farah Hameed, MD, a sports medicine physician with ColumbiaDoctors.
Here’s exactly what you can expect to happen to your body if you give up exercise:
Within 10 days: Your brain might start to change
For years, researchers have suspected that exercise is good for your brain, too—according to one 2013 review, it might be able to help offset age-related memory loss. Now, a new study in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that even a short vacation from your workout might cause changes to the brain.
In the study, when a group of long-term endurance runners took a 10-day exercise hiatus, their subsequent MRIs showed a reduction in blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s associated with memory and emotion. The researchers point out that although the runners didn’t experience any cognitive changes over the period, more long-term studies are needed.
Within two weeks: Your endurance will plummet and your vitals may spike
After just 14 days, you might have a harder time climbing a flight of stairs or keeping up with your colleagues during the monthly kickball game. The reason you’re so winded? Skipping sweat sessions causes a drop in your VO2 max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use. It can dip by about 10% after two weeks, says Dr. Hameed. It only gets worse from there: After four weeks, your VO2 max can drop by about 15%, and after three months, it can fall about 20%—“and those are conservative estimates,” Dr. Hameed notes.
Staying even slightly active can help: One 2009 study found that male kayakers who took a five-week break from their training saw an 11.3% drop on average in their VO2 max, while those who worked in a handful of exercise sessions during each week only saw a 5.6% drop.
Health.com: 11 Fitness Foods to Help You Get in Shape Faster
Even if you don’t notice a change in your speed or strength, you might experience a sharp rise in your blood pressure and blood glucose levels—something that could be more serious for people with diabetes or high blood pressure, says Dr. Hameed.
Researchers from South Africa found that a two-week exercise break was enough to offset the blood pressure benefits of two weeks of high-intensity interval training; another 2015 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that people who did an eight-month bout of resistance and aerobic exercise saw an improvement in the blood glucose levels, but lost almost half of these benefits after 14 days of inactivity.
Health.com: 20 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
Within four weeks: Your strength will start slipping
Dr. Hameed estimates that some people will notice their strength declining after about two weeks of inactivity, while others will begin to see a difference after about four weeks. The silver lining: Our strength probably diminishes at a slower rate than our endurance, and one 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that when one group of men stopped doing resistance training, they still had some of their strength gains up to 24 weeks later.
Within eight weeks: You might gain fat
Dr. Hameed estimates that people will start to notice a physical change—either by looking in the mirror, or at the number on the scale—after about six weeks. Even elite athletes aren’t immune to the rebound. A 2012 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that competitive swimmers who took a five-week break from their training experienced a 12% increase in their levels of body fat, and saw a boost in their body weight and waist circumference. (We should also point out that these athletes weren’t totally sedentary—they still did some light and moderate exercise.) And a 2016 study found that elite Taekwondo athletes who took an eight-week hiatus from exercise experienced an increase in their levels of body fat and a decrease in muscle mass, too.
Health.com: 10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away
That said, there’s a difference between breaking up with exercise for good and taking a well-intentioned rest. The distinction: “You need to do some type of activity [every day],” says Dr. Hameed. For example, maybe you just ran the Chicago Marathon and can’t run another 16 miles, let alone 26—in that case, says Dr. Hameed, you should do some cross-training. (Think: cycling, using the elliptical, or even light walking.) Just don’t quit moving altogether—your body, brain, and waistline will thank you.
Posted: 20 Oct 2016 11:10 AM PDT
There were more cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in 2015 than in any previous year, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The agency’s annual report showed that rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis—the country’s three most commonly reported STDs—increased between 2014 and 2015. This marks the second year in a row the rates of these diseases have increased, reversing a previous trend of declining rates.
The largest increase came in reported cases of primary and secondary syphilis, which increased 19%, while gonorrhea cases rose by 12.8% and chlamydia cases rose by 5.9% since 2014. The more than 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia represent the “highest number of annual cases of any condition ever reported,” according to the CDC.
“We have reached a decisive moment for the nation,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a statement.
Young people and gay and bisexual men face the greatest risk of becoming infected with a STD, according to the CDC report. Americans 15-24 years old accounted for nearly two thirds of chlamydia diagnoses in 2015. Men who have sex with men accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea cases and the majority of primary and secondary syphilis cases.
The CDC said STD testing is vital for people who are sexually active, and the new report includes screening recommendations for women under age 25, pregnant women, and gay and bisexual men.
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