- How to Prevent Wine Hangovers
- Here’s What Happens When You Get Too Little Sleep
- The Best (And Worst) States for Diabetes
- A Large Study of Ecstasy for PTSD Gets the Green Light
- More Americans Are Able to Pay Off Their Medical Bills
- You Asked: When Are Women Most Fertile?
- Arianna Huffington’s THRIVE Global Is Turning Sleep Into Productivity
- These 3 Sports Will Help You Live Longer
- 8 Ways to Fight Seasonal Depression
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 09:59 AM PST
Wondering why you always get a headache the morning after drinking wine? Many people think that sulfites are the culprit behind wine headaches, but other chemicals are likely to blame. Some studies suggest that a naturally occurring substance in wine called tyramine may cause headaches, possibly due to the way it affects blood pressure. Wine, especially red wine, can also contain histamines, which some people can’t metabolize.
Taking a nondrowsy antihistamine prior to drinking wine may help. Research has also shown that the tannins in wine may boost production of the brain chemical serotonin, and changes in serotonin levels can trigger headaches in migraine sufferers. You may want to try switching to white, given that most of the tannins are found in the skin and seeds of the grape. (In white wine, the skin and seeds are removed during production.) Or, if you really love red, see if you find relief by sipping a lighter-bodied variety, like pinot noir, which will have lower levels of tannins.
Health.com: 10 Hangover Remedies: What Works?
You should also consider other drinking variables. Do you get headaches if you have a glass after a long workday but not while on vacation? Underlying stress could be the real issue. Alcohol is also dehydrating, so you may be left with a pounding head if you’re not drinking enough water before and along with your glass. The best headache fix is, of course, not drinking. But if that’s not ideal this season (I get it—you’re human), then be sure to hydrate, and stick to one 5-ounce glass of wine per day, which is the recommended max for women.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 08:05 AM PST
More than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. That may not seem like a big deal, but shirking on sleep—even by just an hour—can have serious consequences for your health, and the economy.
Every year, insufficient sleep costs the U.S. economy up to $411 billion, according to a new report from the not-for-profit research group RAND Europe.
The researchers wanted to look at how shortened sleep—which means getting less than the normal range of 7-9 hours a night—affects the economies of five different countries. Using survey data from the National Sleep Foundation, they considered three effects of not-enough sleep: mortality, since shortened sleep has been linked to about half of the leading causes of death in the U.S., including cardiovascular disease, accidents, diabetes and hypertension; productivity, since sleepy workers are less productive and more likely not to show up; and hindered development skills and educational achievement, which affects lifetime earnings.
“How would those countries—the U.S., the UK, Germany, Japan and Canada—look if the proportion of people who sleep less than a certain amount of time actually improve?” wondered Marco Hafner, a research leader at RAND Europe and the report’s main author.
The U.S. loses the most from its sleepy citizens. The researchers calculated that sleep-deprived workers cost the country’s economy about 1.2 million working days a year and up to $411 billion, about 2% of the GDP. Japan was the second most affected, losing about the same percentage of its GDP, followed by Germany and the U.K. Canada had the best sleepers, but still lost 1.4% of its GDP to too-little sleep.
The study authors also found marked health effect from too-little sleep. Getting about six hours a night is linked to a 7% higher risk of mortality, and sleeping less than six hours is linked to a 13% higher risk. “It’s not a small problem,” Hafner says. “It seems to be not only a public health issue, but also an economic issue.”
Though they seem bleak, the findings also hint at solutions. In the study, getting more physical activity is linked to better sleep, as is not smoking. And though the study didn’t have enough information on electronic devices, using them less at night can improve the duration and quality of sleep, Hafner says.
“As a society, we need to increasingly think about sleep,” Hafner says. “When you hear from business leaders or political leaders that they can get around four hours of sleep and be fine, and that everyone who needs more sleep is a wimp, it’s increasingly proven to be wrong.”
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 08:04 AM PST
Yet some states appear to be faring better than others. On Wednesday, Gallup and Healthways released a new report ranking states and communities on incidence of diabetes for 2015. The new report shows Utah, Rhode Island and Colorado have the lowest incidence of diabetes in the United States. In each of those states, less than 8% of the population has diabetes.
That’s significantly different than the rates reported in other states. For instance, Alabama and West Virginia have the highest number of people with diabetes in their state, with over 16% of the population with a diabetes diagnosis.
The researchers cite the obesity epidemic as one of the greatest contributing factors to the high rates of diabetes in the U.S. More than a third of American adults are obese. “While not all people with diabetes are obese, and not all who are obese develop diabetes, research shows that about 54% of middle aged Americans who are obese and have not yet developed diabetes will do so in their lifetime,” the report authors write.
The study authors also looked at specific communities within states for a deeper picture on what regions of the nation are doing well, and which communities need some work. They found that Boulder, Colo., Bellingham, Wash., Fort Collins, Colo., and Provo-Orem, Utah report the lowest incidence rates out of cities nationwide. Boulder is especially low with less than 5% of people in the city diagnosed with the disease. On the other hand, Mobile, Ala., and Charleston, W.Va., reported over 17% of the people in the cities have diabetes.
To come up with the incidence rates, researchers conducted 176,885 telephone interviews with adults across all 50 states in 2015. For community data, researchers interviewed 246,620 people.
To cut back on the number of people with diabetes, the researchers of the new study recommend communities focus on diabetes education, offering quality health care, monitoring health outcomes, and engaging with people and technology as a comprehensive way to achieve fewer diagnoses.
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 07:50 AM PST
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of MDMA in large-scale trials as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Small scale studies have previously used the drug, also known as the party-drug ecstasy, to alleviate some of the symptoms of PTSD. As reported by the New York Times, the FDA green lit a Phase 3 clinical trial, which is significant as it marks the final stage of testing before it can be submitted for approval as a prescription drug.
Dr. Charles R. Marmar, the head of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine and a leading PTSD researcher, told the Times that he was “cautious but hopeful.”
Study participants have previously reported significant improvements in their condition following a course of MDMA therapy, and researchers have been optimistic about the future of the drug as a form of treatment. “If they can keep getting good results, it will be of great use,” Marmar said. However, he also voiced some caution, which was echoed by other reactions to the FDA’s approval. “It’s a feel-good drug, and we know people are prone to abuse it,” he said.
Through a spokeswoman, the FDA declined to comment to the Times, citing regulations that prohibit disclosing information about drugs that are being developed.
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 07:41 AM PST
Medical bills, which can often be higher than expected, are a common source of strife for Americans. Yet the number of Americans who say that they’re able to pay them has increased significantly in recent years, according to new federal data.
A new report published Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics shows that the percentage of people under age 65 who are in families struggling to pay medical bills dropped from about 21% in 2011 to 16% in the first half of 2016.
Children are also faring better. Fewer young people under age 17 are in families unable to handle their medical bills; that percentage dropped from 23% in 2011 to about 18% in 2016.
Families with public or private health care coverage both experienced drops, though people with public coverage were more likely to be in families struggling to pay their medical bills. Low-income families were most likely to report problems paying back bills.
The report does not delve into the reasons that medical bill issues have eased in recent years, but wider health coverage likely plays a significant role. 17.8 million more Americans were insured in 2016 compared to 2011, the report authors point out.
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 06:24 AM PST
Our collective recognition that a woman’s fertility declines with age is nothing new. But, frustratingly, experts are still trying to figure out just why that happens.
“The short answer is that a woman’s eggs just aren’t as zippy as they were when she was younger,” says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University School of Medicine. Citing data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), Minkin points out that a woman’s fertility remains relatively constant during her late teens, 20s and early 30s. That’s not to say conception is guaranteed; even for a healthy 30-year-old, the odds she’ll get pregnant during any specific ovulation cycle is just 20%. That means 4 out of 5 women who try to conceive this month will still be trying next month.
But around age 35, the average woman experiences a drop-off in fertility that accelerates until her mid-40s, when her odds of a successful pregnancy fall into the low single digits. “Part of the issue is that we’re born with all the eggs we’re going to have, and as we get older they get older with us,” Minkin explains. These eggs don’t respond as readily to the surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) that a woman’s pituitary gland releases during ovulation, she says. (If you’ve ever used an ovulation kit, LH is the hormone that kit measures in your urine.)
Chromosome abnormalities also increase as a woman ages. “When you look at women in their late 30s or 40s, instead of having 23 chromosomes, more of the eggs have an extra one or a missing one,” says Dr. Richard Bronson, director of reproductive endocrinology at Stony Brook University.
But the big question—why do a woman’s eggs decline in quality as she grows older?—remains unanswered. “Is it that a woman’s body uses her best eggs first, or is something happening to the eggs as a woman ages?” Bronson asks. “No one knows.”
That may soon change. Bronson says some of the latest research suggests mitochondrial function within the egg may diminish with age, which could lead to chromosome abnormalities. Lifestyle factors ranging from cigarette smoking to obesity and stress could play a role as well, though much of the current research is speculative. “There’s no question general health affects reproduction,” he says. But exactly how all these variables interact is a complicated puzzle experts are still working to assemble.
Even if an egg is perfectly healthy, the overall quality of the “intrauterine environment” changes as a woman grows older, Minkin explains. (Of course, the health of a man’s sperm also plays a part. But for the average man, sperm quality doesn’t become a problem until he reaches his 60s, according to SART.)
The more we learn about the miracle of conception, the more it seems just that: miraculous. “It’s all a very delicate show,” Minkin says of conception and pregnancy. “I try to encourage my patients, if they can, to start thinking about having a baby by 35.” She’s careful to stress that “it’s not all doom and gloom” once a woman reaches her mid-30s. “But there are more significant hurdles,” she says: hurdles modern medicine hasn’t found a way to consistently overleap quite yet.
Posted: 30 Nov 2016 03:22 AM PST
For Mark Bertolini, the turning point was the accident. It was the winter of 2004 and he’d been skiing with his daughter in Killington, Vermont, early one Saturday morning. They’d be doing what they called “10 by 10s”—10 top-to-bottom runs by 10 a.m. “My daughter called to me, I peeked over my shoulder to look back, caught an edge of a tree,” says Bertolini, now the CEO of Aetna, the $60 billion-a-year insurer. The tumble that followed broke several vertebrae, ruptured nerves, cracked his scapula in half, and sent him into a coma for six days. “I was a freaking mess,” he says.
Then the real pain started. Somehow, five weeks later, Bertolini—who was then running Aetna’s specialty businesses—was back at work and in constant physical agony. “I kept asking myself, ‘How do I get back to the way I was before?’ and you get this creeping feeling it’s not going to happen.” He began trying something new—taking care of himself—and felt better. The better he felt, the more clear-headed he became, and the more he got done. He started doing yoga—and felt so much better he asked the company’s chief medical officer to run a double-blind study of the ancient Indian discipline among nearly 800 Aetna employees. After 12 weeks, the yoga-practicing volunteers had less reported stress, better quality of life, and were more productive.
Bertolini had a new mission.
It’s the kind of tale that takes a while to tell, and Arianna Huffington—the 66-year-old digital media pioneer, founder of The Huffington Post, bestselling author and serial meme-maker—tells it almost better than Bertolini does. Indeed, Huffington has been collecting plenty of such stories: driven, Type A types who hit the breaking point, or find a turning point, or suddenly wake up to the notion that their hard-charging, sleep-deprived existences have gotten out of whack.
Some are softer revelations, as that of Kelly Coffey, who shepherds nearly $700 billion in assets as CEO of J.P. Morgan’s U.S. Private Bank. “The moment of truth for her was the week when a colleague died of prostate cancer in his late fifties, and the same week a friend of her daughter’s committed suicide at her school,” relates Huffington, in a Greek-inflected accent that is thick and a trifle creamy, like Tzatziki. Adds Coffey, “These two traumatic events had just happened—You go to these funerals, and you think, ‘Wow, your whole world [can change].’”
Some in Huffington’s collection of stories, like that of United Continental CEO Oscar Munoz—who suffered a near-fatal heart attack, had a heart transplant, and (as we wrote about recently in Fortune) now candidly shares his experience with employees as a “public service announcement”—are more dramatic.
And then there is Huffington’s own tale of transformation—or what she calls her “wake-up call.” In 2007, two years after co-founding The Huffington Post with former AOL executive Kenneth Lerer and becoming the site’s editor-in-chief, Huffington collapsed from exhaustion. As she fell to the ground, her head slammed into the corner of her desk, breaking her cheekbone and tearing a gash in one of her eyes that would require several stitches to repair. Neither her doctors nor a battery of medical tests could tell her why she’d fainted. As she says now, “Nothing was wrong, except everything was wrong.”
She had become a new-media powerhouse, one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” host and moderator of much of the world’s digital conversation, and she was too tired to enjoy it. This, she wondered, is what success looks like?
Huffington has spent much of the time since then trying to answer that most modern of existential questions. Her runaway bestselling 2014 book, Thrive—which defines a new math for success based on the variables of well-being, wisdom, wonder and generosity—was a first step in solving the mystery.
Step Two came in April with her latest book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time—the 15th book by Huffington since she wrote The Female Woman at age 23, and at least her seventh bonafide bestseller. The Sleep Revolution digs deeply and thoughtfully into the component that, perhaps more than anything beside breathing and eating, puts the well into well-being.
Step Three—which officially begins today, this morning actually—is Huffington’s biggest and boldest effort to solve the human burnout problem. She is launching a company, called Thrive Global, that will take her wellness evangelism to a whole new level. The company is tapping into every tool (and business model) it can think of for promoting emotional and physical well-being in the workplace: training companies how to measure and promote employee wellness; serving as a new media hub for conversations about wellness; and selling a bunch of cool stuff designed to help people along that path—from non-pharmacological sleep aids, to meditation guides, to smartphone-silencing accessories.
(Huffington’s favorite is a family phone bed that rests outside everyone’s bedroom. “It’s going to basically be a charging station that looks like a bed where everybody’s phones go to sleep at night,” she says. “It comes in multiple sizes for daddy’s phone, mommy’s phone, every child’s phone. And there are even little blankets that you put over them to put them to sleep.”)
Out of the gate, Thrive Global has lined up a big-name roster of corporate partners and clients—Accenture, Airbnb, JPMorgan Chase, SAP, and Uber—for its new workshops, which gives companies coaching and tools to help their own employees quit the practices that lead to burnout, high-stress work cultures, absenteeism, and ultimately people hating and quitting their jobs.
Thrive’s media component is, likewise, action-oriented. “Every article that’s going to be on the platform will have embedded microsteps for change,” says Huffington. “Like you are reading an article on sleep, it’s going to be linking you to our pathways and microsteps about how to improve your sleep. You are looking at something about stress or meditation or parenting your children around technology? There are going to be microsteps embedded in the stories—because the essence of everything we’re doing is about behavior change, rather than simply informing or entertaining.”
“If you think about it, we all take better care of our smartphones than we take care of ourselves. I bet everybody here knows approximately how much battery life their phones have left.”—Arianna Huffington, Fortune Brainstorm Health, Nov. 1
The new project, certainly, is a dramatic departure from the last one, the one that built Huffington’s fortune and that she had helmed for the past 11 years. She stepped down as editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post in August, some five years after selling the company to AOL for $315 million, after coming to the realization that—in the next five years—she could make only modest changes to the world there, but could potentially have a transformative impact at Thrive.
What does follow the HuffPo playbook are the high-wattage people she’s bringing into her mission—from financiers and investors (Jack Ma, Sean Parker, Ray Dalio, Mohamed El Erian, Nicolas Berggruen, Zoe Baird, Shari Redstone, and the Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala) to an A-list group of C-suite boosters (Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Uber’s Travis Kalanick, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—all three of whom offered a tribute video or article for Thrive Global’s launch today).
Huffington has also brought her early HuffPo backers (Lerer and Oak Investment Partners Fred Harman) to her new board as well.
Most of the attraction, of course, is to Huffington’s heliocentric force. But there is also something deeply enticing about Thrive Global’s mission—or so it would seem from the way many top executives speak of it.
What’s compelling here is not so much the message that well-being leads to happiness, but rather that well-being leads to productivity . . . and creativity. And the opposite is equally true: burn-out, exhaustion, and even more moderate chronic tiredness are productivity (and creativity) killers.
“As any of us go through our lives, we don’t need to maximize the number of decisions we make per day,” says Jeff Bezos in a piece for the Thrive Global launch. “Making a small number of key decisions well is more important than making a large number of decisions. If you short change your sleep, you might get a couple of extra “productive” hours, but that productivity might be an illusion.”
Bezos, for his part, makes a point of getting eight hours of sleep a night.
Sheryl Sandberg, in another video confession, says that when she became a mother, it was obvious how important sleep was to her children. “When they were babies, when they were little, and as they were growing up . . . if they missed a nap, if they didn’t get a good night’s sleep, everything was harder. And if they had a good night’s sleep, everything was easy.” And then she realized, as an adult, she was the same way.
“We are at an inflection point, and something very important is happening in the culture,” says Huffington. And that’s what made me take the very tough decision to leave, you know, a media company that I built from scratch.”
Part of the aim of Thrive Global, she says, is to provide a roundhouse scientific debunking of a myth that dates back to the Industrial Revolution—“the false assumption that human beings are like machines and the goal is to minimize downtime.” Downtime, says Huffington, is actually a feature of the human operating system, not a bug. In the same way that people believed the earth was flat or the sun revolved around the earth, she says, there will come a reckoning for this whopper of a mindset: “The deep cultural belief that if you are a driven, smart person who wants to succeed you just have to sacrifice your health, your relationships, everything along the way is unbelievably deeply embedded—and it just isn’t true.”
“If we can prove that, in fact, when you put your own oxygen mask first, as they tell us on airplanes, you are going to be more productive and more creative, then we’ll be able to shift the culture faster. The shift is already happening. It’s not like we are going to be creating it. It’s just a question of accelerating it.”
Posted: 29 Nov 2016 03:30 PM PST
Being active is good for you on so many levels, from keeping the heart in shape to improving blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Exercise has also been linked to benefits for the brain and lower risk of some cancers.
But which types of activity pack the best health punch? Does it matter what kind of exercise you do?
In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, European and Australian researchers find that not all types of physical activity are equal when it comes to longevity. They studied data collected from more than 80,000 people in England and Scotland who answered questions about their activity levels yearly between 1994 and 2008. The data showed that people who engaged in three types of exercise—racquet sports like tennis or racquet ball, swimming and aerobics—had the lowest risk of dying during the study period.
Overall, 44% of the people met recommended public health exercise levels. (That’s 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week in the U.S.) Among those that did, people who played racquet sports had a 47% lower risk of dying during the nine-year study than people who didn’t exercise. Swimmers had a 28% lower risk of death and those doing aerobics showed a 27% lower risk of dying. These were the reductions after the scientists adjusted for factors that might affect early death, like smoking.
Runners surprisingly did not show a lower risk of mortality during the study, but lead study author Pekka Oja, retired scientific director for the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Finland, says that may be explained by the fact that most of the runners were younger than those engaging in the other sports. They may need to be followed for a longer period of time to assess their death rates.
Cycling also was associated with a relatively smaller drop in mortality risk, possibly because many of the people who reported cycling did it recreationally or to get to and from work and were less likely to work up a sweat and have a vigorous workout. Swimming and racquet sports, on the other hand, inherently require a pretty intense level of exercise.
That’s why Oja says people shouldn’t interpret the results as endorsing one type of activity over another. The bottom line: people who exercised had lower mortality overall than people who didn’t. “They are all good,” he says of all types of physical activity. “It’s up to individuals to decide what they like and their circumstances for participating in different activities.”
Posted: 29 Nov 2016 10:51 AM PST
Feeling SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a legitimate disorder brought on by a change in weather.
The shorter days and colder weather of winter are here—and so is the increase in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).found that 4 to 6 percent of Americans suffer from SAD.
Are you are feeling unmotivated and depressed for no apparent reason? Are you irritable? Do you suffer from lack of sleep or lapses in concentration? Chances are you might be prone to SAD.
Here are 8 techniques to help you fight off symptoms, or at least ease the intensity, of SAD:
1. Dawn Simulators
Toss the loud, annoying alarm and wake up peacefully with clocks that mimic the changing light of the sun. Dawn simulators gradually wake you up with light that increases in intensity to simulate morning sunshine. The most effective ones use full-spectrum light, which is as close to natural light as possible.
2. Essential Oils
Essentials oils are the purest essence of a plant: its oils. Essential oils promote restoration in the body and may influence moods. And they don’t just smell good; someantidepressant-like effects for some people.
Read more: What are some common myths about flu shots?
is a common prescription to ease depression. Moderate exercise like walking, running and yoga release endorphins and neurotransmitters to the brain. These chemicals can improve your mood and keep your immune system healthy.
4. Go Outside
Get as much natural light as you can if you are fighting seasonal depression or wintertime seasonal affective disorder. If you get home after dark, change your schedule and bundle up for a walk during lunch; the vitamin D from the sun boosts your energy.
Read more: Why does Gratitude work?
5. Create a Schedule
People suffering from SAD typically gain weight and can’t sleep during the winter months. Outline a schedule that enables you to wake up daily at the same time. Be consistent in your exposure to daylight and the times that you eat to help improve your mental outlook.
6. Take a Vacation
There are several benefits from taking. Planning a trip creates day-by-day excitement and gives you something to look forward to. Choosing a warmer climate boosts your vitamin D intake and provides an escape from the cold, both of which are guaranteed to lift your mood. And the residual effects of a vacation are great; you’ll notice that your lighter mood lingers even after you return home.
is learning how to quiet your mind in the middle of chaos. It also helps you be intentional with how you react. Consistently practicing this form of focus balances seasonal depression by decreasing anxiety and enhancing overall well-being.
8. Speak with Your Doctor
SAD is a form of depression, and the therapeutic ways to combat SAD don’t always work. If you can’t shake feelings of anxiety and sadness, find a mental health professional to guide you to treatment that is best for you.
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