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A Storyteller With Breast Cancer Shares Her Stories

21/10/2017 helen 0

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In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m pleased to bring you an essay written by Antoinette Truglio Martin, the author of an inspiring memoir, Hug Everyone You Know, A Year of Communit…

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Secrets of Good Sleepers

20/10/2017 helen 0

When you finally lay your head on the pillow, you likely want to go to sleep—and stay that way. But the same thing happens every time. You wake up at 2 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep. You’re worrying about the laundry that needs to be folded and you gotta make a bathroom run, too. You finally shut your eyes at 4 a.m., only to have your alarm sound two hours later. You’re stuck with another day of being tired, unenergized and bleary eyed.

Don’t suffer through another sleepless night. Follow the secrets of how good sleepers get a sound night of slumber. You’ll be on your way to being one yourself in no time.

They watch their caffeine consumption.
It shouldn’t be surprising that sipping on that cup of java while you eat dessert may interrupt your sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for hours, so that midafternoon coffee run can haunt you. Also aim to avoid caffeine sources like cola, root beer, tea and chocolate. And don’t forget those coffee-flavored treats like cappuccino-flavored ice cream, which can also give you a dose of caffeine. If you find that you’re sensitive to caffeine, stay away from it in the afternoon as well as the evening. Read about the most common sleep disorders.

They don’t OD on water-filled fruits and veggies.
Fruits and veggies do the body good. But the water found in celery, watermelon, cucumbers and other produce may cause you to wake in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Why? Celery, for example, is a natural diuretic, which means it pushes water through your system. And that means you’ll need to use the bathroom a bit more than usual.

They adore their mattress.
A mattress is a long-term commitment. If possible, see if a friend or a hotel has the mattress you’re thinking about and test it out for a night. Some stores may let you sleep on it overnight. Or some mattress companies will give you a full refund if you don’t like your mattress after 30 days. What if you like a soft mattress and your partner likes a firmer one? Get two single-sized mattresses that work for each of you. Push them together and use king-sized sheets.

They avoid heavy meals before hitting the hay.
Put down the burger, fries, pizza and other fatty foods before bed. Fattier meals can disrupt your sleep cycle. Why? Eating a heavy meal promotes digestion, which makes it more likely you’ll have to use the restroom overnight. Plus, foods high in fat can give you stomach discomfort or heartburn. And that can make it tough to fall asleep. In fact, a recent study found that eating too much saturated fat is linked to sleep that’s lighter and more wakeful.

They don’t fight over the blankets.
How many times have you awoken in the middle of the night and been confused where the comforter has gone? The tugging and pulling of blankets and sheets truly can interrupt your sheets. Consider getting blankets for each of you. Then put a comforter or duvet over the top.

They avoid heartburn triggers.
Grapefruits and oranges may be nutritious but these citrus fruits are also acidic. That means they can trigger heartburn, which can keep you awake at night. Other foods and beverages that can cause heartburn include lemons and other tangy citrus fruits (as well as citrus juices); alcohol (especially red wine); carbonated beverages; spicy foods such as garlic, onions, and peppers; caffeinated food and drinks such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate; tomatoes; and peppermint.

They ignore the studies.
Studies have found that the right amount of sleep is what leaves you energized the next day. So, you may not need a solid eight hours of slumber to be ready to attack the day. See what works for you instead of focusing on the clock.

They watch their meds.
Unbeknownst to you, some pain relievers contain caffeine. Extra-strength Excedrin, for example, contains 65 milligrams of caffeine. Take two pills and you’re getting as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. Check labels to see if caffeine is listed as an active ingredient. You also want to watch out for oral decongestants. While they can help you breathe better, they can raise your heart rate. And that makes it hard to sleep. Try a saline wash or spray at nighttime instead.

They avoid tyramine.
What’s that, you’re wondering. It’s an amino acid that causes the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that increases your brain activity and delays your sleep. Foods boasting tyramine include tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine, eggplant and aged cheeses like brie.

They watch their bath time.
A hot bath may feel soothing before bed. But it raises your skin temperature and eventually lowers your core body temperature. If you want to bathe, do so 30 minutes or so before bedtime.

They write out their worries.
As soon as your head hits the pillow, your mind starts racing. You think about your long to-do list, the kids, chores, work and more. To help prevent your thoughts from doing circles at bedtime, write down your thoughts before attempting to fall asleep. It will help calm your mind.

The don’t sleep with their pets.
You may have to kick your pooch out of bed. Co-sleeping with a furry friend can distract your shuteye. And if you’re allergic to pets, your runny nose and coughing may be disrupting your sleep.


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12 Reasons You’re Experiencing Breast Pain

12/10/2017 helen 0

Ouch! Just rubbing your breasts the wrong way is painful. Your mind starts racing. You worry that you have cancer. Or maybe you fret that your contraception wasn’t doing its job and maybe this is an early sign of pregnancy. 

Breast pain is rarely something to worry, panic or be alarmed about. Here are just a few reasons why you may have sore breasts.

When in doubt, reach out to your health care provider to help figure out what’s going on.

ONE
You’re getting your period.

It’s totally normal to have breast tenderness and swelling right before the onset of Aunt Flo. It can happen for up to a week and you can have so much swelling that your bra size might change. Once your period starts, your breast size will return to normal and the tenderness will gradually subside. Why does this happen? Estrogen causes your breast ducts to get bigger. And progesterone increases the growth of your milk glands. Find out about period weight gain.

TWO
You’re pregnant.

Bust out the nonalcoholic champagne—you’re having a baby! Thanks to your hormones, breasts that are tender, sore, achy and swollen are often the first sign you’re pregnant. Early on in pregnancy, your breasts grow faster than your baby. As your estrogen levels rise, they increase the size of your milk ducts. And that can boost breast sensitivity and pain. If you have breast pain and have missed a period, take a pregnancy test to confirm if you’ve conceived. Read more about early pregnancy symptoms.

THREE
You’re breastfeeding.

When you’re pregnant, your milk ducts and breasts get larger so that you can breastfeed. (That’s why some pregnant women have crazy cleavage!) You may be in pain thanks to that growth. It continues once you’re breastfeeding and baby is sucking on your breasts nonstop. Contact a lactation consultation who can help you find a less painful breastfeeding technique. If you’re ready to stop breastfeeding, find out how to wean your child from breastfeeding.

FOUR
You’re taking certain meds.

Some medications trigger breast pain. Those medications include certain diuretics, digitalis preparations, methyldopa (Aldomet, for high blood pressure), spironolactone (Aldactone, for high blood pressure), oxymetholone (Anadrol, a powerful oral steroid) and chlorpromazine (an antipsychotic). If your breasts are uncomfortable and meds are to blame, your health care provider may be able to prescribe another medication.

FIVE
You have breast cancer.

Don’t worry yet that it’s the “C” word. Most people who have breast pain don’t have cancer. It’s still a valid concern, though. If you’re feeling pain, speak with your health care provider. Review your breast cancer risk factors and tell your provider if you’ve noticed any other changes in your body such as bloody or clear discharge from your nipple; a lump in your breast; or local redness, pus or fever. Your health care provider will decide if you should go for a mammogram or get other testing to dig further into what’s going on.

SIX
You need a new bra.

Has your favorite bra seen better days? Maybe the underwire is stabbing you. It doesn’t fit anymore. The fabric is itchy. Your boobs just hurt by bedtime. It’s time to invest in a few new supportive bras for the sake of your comfort and breast health. You don’t want one with shoulder straps digging into your skin or the back is riding up or where your breasts are coming out of the cups. A professional bra fitter can measure you and help you choose one that’s right for you. (And get a properly fitting sports bra while you’re there, too.)

SEVEN
You’ve experienced breast trauma.

Maybe you had a procedure done on your breasts. Or a basketball landed right on your boobs. These types of traumas can leave you with sore breasts. Most pain from such issues should go away quickly. Speak to your health care provider if pain persists to make sure you didn’t crack your ribs or are dealing with scar tissue issues.

EIGHT
You’re allergic to fragrant products.

Some chemicals can cause allergic reactions like pain, redness, inflammation and swelling. Culprits include moisturizers, laundry detergents (because clothing rubs your skin), sunscreens, cosmetics and hair products (they get on your chest when you bathe). Think about whether you’ve added a new product to your beauty regime. Remove it from your routine and see if the pain disappears.

NINE
You exercised too much.

Did you do extra pushups in your last class? Did you go for a long run in your old sports bra? Some exercises and the intensity at which you do them can strain your chest wall’s muscles. It can be hard to differentiate between breast pain and chest muscle pain because the two are so similar. If the pain goes away after you’ve skipped workouts and taken some over-the-counter pain relievers, you may just be dealing with a muscular issue. Learn more about post-workout breast pain. 

TEN
Your hormones are on the fritz.

Anything that affects your hormones can cause breast pain. Some culprits include fertility treatments, hormone replacement therapies, thyroid medications and birth control pills (even switching birth control regimens). These can cause sensitivity, tenderness and swelling because they impact your estrogen levels. The side effect of breast pain will lessen over time; your body needs time to adjust to the new surge of hormones. Speak with your health care provider to see if you need to switch anything in your health care regimen.

ELEVEN
You have fibrocystic breasts.

When you have fibrocystic breasts, you have multiple cysts throughout both breasts. Your breasts can feel tender, swollen or painful because their tissue is lumpy or rope-like. And your symptoms don’t come and go with your menstrual cycle. While fibrocystic breasts are noncancerous, your health care provider will still want to monitor them.

TWELVE
You have an infection.

If you have an infection, you’ll have breast redness, swelling and pain. Your nipple(s) may be leaking blood, pus, or brown, green or red discharge. You may be running a fever. Infections can be caused by factors such as ingrown hairs, clogged sweat glands or blocked milk ducts. Your health care provider can figure out what’s going on. Many infections can be treated with antibiotics.


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Does a Drug’s High Price Tag Cause Its Own Side Effects?

07/10/2017 helen 0

HealthDay News

THURSDAY, Oct. 5, 2017 (HealthDay News)—Pricey drugs may make people more vulnerable to perceiving side effects, a new study suggests—and the phenomenon is not just “in their heads.”

The study delved into the so-called “nocebo effect.” It’s the negative version of the well-known placebo effect, where people feel better after receiving a therapy because they expected good things.

With the nocebo effect, patients’ worries over treatment side effects make them feel sick.

In this study, researchers found that people were more likely to report painful side effects from a fake drug when told it was expensive.

But it wasn’t just something people were “making up.” Using brain imaging, the researchers traced the phenomenon to specific activity patterns in the brain and spine.

“These findings are a strong argument against the perception of placebo and nocebo effects as being only ‘fake’ effects—created purely by imagination or delusions of the patient,” said lead researcher Alexandra Tinnermann. She is with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, in Germany.

Dr. Luana Colloca, a researcher at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, agreed.

“This is not merely a reflection of people’s biases,” said Colloca, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

“Expectations do modulate symptoms and patients’ responses to treatment,” she said.

For the study, Tinnermann’s team recruited 49 healthy volunteers and randomly assigned them to test one of two itch-relieving “medical creams.”

In reality, both creams were identical and contained no active ingredients. However, people in both groups were told that the products could have the side effect of making the skin more sensitive to pain.

There was only one apparent difference between the two phony creams: One came in fancy packing with a high price tag; the other was cheap.

After participants applied the creams to their forearms, the researchers had them undergo a standard test that measured their tolerance for heat-induced pain.

It turned out that people who’d used the expensive cream were more sensitive to pain during the tests. On average, their pain rating hovered around a 15—within the “mild” pain range—whereas people using the cheap cream barely registered any discomfort.

It’s likely, Tinnermann said, that people expect a pricey medication to be potent—which could also make them expect more side effects.

Colloca agreed. We are all “vulnerable” to such outside influences, she said, be it a drug’s price or how it’s given (by IV versus mouth, for instance).

However, we are not just imagining those placebo or nocebo effects, both researchers noted.

Using functional MRI brain scans, Tinnermann’s team found specific patterns of nervous system activity in people who had a nocebo response to the pricey cream.

That included a change in “communication” between certain brain structures and the spinal cord, Tinnermann said.

According to Colloca, research like this can have practical uses. Doctors could, for instance, inform patients that drug prices or other factors can sway their expectations about a treatment’s benefits and risks—and that, in turn, can influence whether they feel better or develop side effects.

There is, however, no research into whether that kind of knowledge helps prevent patients from the nocebo effect, Tinnermann said.

But, she added, health professionals can be aware that patients’ expectations “play a huge role in medicine”—and be mindful of how they talk about a medication and its possible side effects.

It’s an important matter, Colloca said, because the nocebo effect can cause people to stop taking needed medications.

Colloca pointed to the example of cholesterol-lowering statins.

The potential for those medications to cause muscle pain has been widely reported. And one recent study found evidence that this knowledge can make statin users more likely to report muscle pain side effects.

Other research, Colloca said, has shown that when people stop taking their statins, their risk of heart attack and stroke rises.

The new study was published in the Oct. 6 issue of Science.

SOURCES: Alexandra Tinnermann, M.Sc., University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany; Luana Colloca, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, anesthesiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; Oct. 6, 2017, Science

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Why Your Breast Cancer Might Be Missed

05/10/2017 helen 0

You know the significance of taking care of your body, and your breasts are way up there in the all-important surveillance category. But despite your best efforts—regular screening with mammograms; knowing what your breasts look and feel like; being aw…

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Do You Talk With Your Patients About Overactive Bladder?

30/09/2017 helen 0

Do your patients often have that sudden “gotta go” feeling that makes them nervous they’ll leak urine if they don’t get to a bathroom right away? If so, they may have overactive bladder (OAB).

What Is Overactive Bladder?

OAB is not a disease. It’s the name given to a group of troubling urinary symptoms. The most common is a sudden and unexpected urge to urinate that can’t be controlled. In some people, this “gotta go” feeling may result in urine leakage (incontinence). In others, it may not. 

Other OAB symptoms include frequent urination during the day and night. The number of times someone goes to the bathroom may vary from person to person. But many experts agree going to the bathroom more than eight times in 24 hours is “frequent urination.”

OAB affects millions of men and women. Some experts estimate as many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms. But the number of people suffering from OAB may be much larger. That’s because many people living with the condition don’t ask for help. 

“A lot of people don’t talk to their doctors because they’re embarrassed about their symptoms or because they don’t know there are treatment options,” says Kathleen Kobashi, MD, chief of urology at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. “But there are plenty of things we can do to help. If you are having difficulty with OAB symptoms, talk to your health care provider today.”

Risks for OAB

The risk for OAB increases as one gets older. Women who have gone through menopause and men who have had prostate issues are also at higher risk. Conditions affecting the brain or spinal cord, such as multiple sclerosis or stroke, also raise the risk for OAB. Food and drinks, such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and very spicy foods, can bother the bladder and make symptoms worse. 

How OAB Can Affect Your Patient’s Life

OAB can get in the way of your patient’s work, social life and sleep. Without treatment, symptoms may make it hard to get through the day without having to make many trips to the bathroom. Your patients may feel nervous about going out with friends or doing daily activities because they are afraid they may not be able to find a bathroom when they need one. OAB patients may shy away from social events and spending time with their spouse or family. 

This can result in feeling lonely and isolated and may affect their relationships with loved ones. OAB can also deprive people of a good night’s sleep, leaving them feeling tired and depressed.

Getting More Information From Your Patients 

When a patient tells you she has OAB symptoms, you should ask her to describe her symptoms. You may choose to refer her to a specialist, such as a urologist. Questions to consider asking are about medical history and symptoms—what they are, how long they’ve been having them and how they are affecting daily life. Gather information about past and current medical problems, as well as diet, including what they drink and how much they drink.

Many providers choose to give a physical exam to check for problems that may be causing OAB symptoms. 

Another useful tool is to ask your patients to keep a “bladder diary,” where they record how often they go to the bathroom and any time they leak urine. Other tests, such as a urine test, to look for infection or blood are also commonly used. In some cases, health care providers choose to do an ultrasound to see how much urine is still in the patient’s bladder after they go to the bathroom.

Taking Control

There are many treatment options for OAB. You may use just one treatment or several at the same time. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications and other therapies.

The Truth About OAB

Knowledge is power! Don’t let myths about OAB prevent your patients from getting the help they need. Learn the truth about OAB:

  •  OAB is not “just part of being a woman.”
  •  OAB is not “just having an enlarged (big) prostate.”
  •  OAB is not “just a normal part of getting older.”
  • OAB is not caused by something you did.
  • Surgery is not the only treatment for OAB.
  • There are treatments for OAB that can help people manage symptoms.
  • There are treatments that many people with OAB find helpful.

It’s Time to Talk About OAB, by the Urology Care Foundation, gives you the information you need to manage this problem. It costs nothing, is offered in English and Spanish, and is based on up-to-date clinical guidelines. It includes: 

  • A survey to help patients learn if they have OAB or something else
  • Information about OAB and how to treat it
  • Answers to common questions 
  • Videos with the stories of people whove learned to manage OAB
  • Print materials, if you prefer

Please take a look at It’s Time to Talk About OAB or any of our resources when you need help with urinary problems. Dont let OAB get in the way of your patients lives.

This resource is provided by the Urology Care Foundation, the official Foundation of the American Urological Association.

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If your patients have sudden and unexpected urges to urinate, then you may want to talk with them about overactive bladder, or OAB. 

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Long Description: 
If your patients have sudden and unexpected urges to urinate, then you may want to talk with them about overactive bladder, or OAB. 


Do You Often Have That ‘Gotta Go’ Feeling?

29/09/2017 helen 0

Do you often have that sudden “gotta go” feeling that makes you nervous you will leak urine if you don’t get to a bathroom right away? If so, you may have overactive bladder (OAB).

What Is Overactive Bladder?

OAB is not a disease. It’s the name given to a group of troubling urinary symptoms. The most common is a sudden and unexpected urge to urinate that you can’t control. In some people, this “gotta go” feeling may result in urine leakage (incontinence). In others, it may not. 

Other OAB symptoms include frequent urination during the day and night. The number of times someone goes to the bathroom may vary from person to person. But many experts agree going to the bathroom more than eight times in 24 hours is “frequent urination.”

OAB affects millions of men and women. Some experts estimate as many as 30 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the United States live with OAB symptoms. But the number of people suffering from OAB may be much larger. That’s because many people living with the condition don’t ask for help. 

“A lot of people don’t talk to their doctors because they’re embarrassed about their symptoms or because they don’t know there are treatment options,” says Kathleen Kobashi, MD, chief of urology at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. “But there are plenty of things we can do to help. If you are having difficulty with OAB symptoms, talk to your health care provider today.”

Risks for OAB

The risk for OAB increases as you get older. Women who have gone through menopause and men who have had prostate issues are also at higher risk. Conditions affecting the brain or spinal cord, such as multiple sclerosis or stroke, also raise your risk for OAB. Food and drinks, such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and very spicy foods, can bother your bladder and make symptoms worse. 

How OAB Can Affect Your Life

OAB can get in the way of your work, social life and sleep. Without treatment, symptoms may make it hard to get through the day without having to make many trips to the bathroom. You may feel nervous about going out with friends or doing daily activities because you are afraid you may not be able to find a bathroom when you need one. You may shy away from social events and spending time with your spouse or family. 

This can result in you feeling lonely and isolated, and may affect your relationships with loved ones. OAB can also deprive you of a good night’s sleep, leaving you feeling tired and depressed.

Talking to Your Health Care Provider

When you tell your health care provider you have OAB symptoms, he or she will likely ask you to describe them. Your provider may refer you to a specialist, such as a urologist. You’ll be asked about your medical history and your symptoms—what they are, how long you have been having them and how they are affecting your life. Your provider will also ask about past and current medical problems and about your diet, including what you drink and how much you drink.

You will be given a physical exam to check for problems that may be causing OAB symptoms. Your provider may ask you to keep a “bladder diary,” where you record how often you go to the bathroom and any time you leak urine. You may also have tests, such as a urine test, to look for infection or blood. Your health care provider may do an ultrasound to see how much urine is still in your bladder after you go to the bathroom.

Taking Control

There are many treatment options for OAB. Your health care provider may use just one treatment or several at the same time. Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications and other therapies.

The Truth About OAB

Knowledge is power! Don’t let myths about OAB prevent you from getting the help you need. Learn the truth about OAB:

  •  OAB is not “just part of being a woman.”
  •  OAB is not “just having an enlarged (big) prostate.”
  •  OAB is not “just a normal part of getting older.”
  • OAB is not caused by something you did.
  • Surgery is not the only treatment for OAB.
  • There are treatments for OAB that can help people manage symptoms.
  • There are treatments that many people with OAB find helpful.

Its Time to Talk About OAB, by the Urology Care Foundation, gives you the information you need to manage this problem. It costs nothing, is offered in English and Spanish, and is based on up-to-date clinical guidelines. It includes: 

  • A survey to help you learn if you have OAB or something else
  • Information about OAB and how to treat it
  • Answers to common questions 
  • Videos with the stories of people whove learned to manage OAB
  • Print materials, if you prefer

Please take a look at“It’s Time to Talk About OAB” or any of our resources when you need help with urinary problems. Dont let OAB get in the way of your life.

This resource is provided by the Urology Care Foundation, the official Foundation of the American Urological Association.

Short Description: 
If you often have that “gotta go” feeling and worry that you will leak urine if you don’t get to a bathroom quickly, then you may have overactive bladder, or OAB. 

field_vote: 
Select ratingGive Do You Often Have That 'Gotta Go' Feeling? 1/5Give Do You Often Have That 'Gotta Go' Feeling? 2/5Give Do You Often Have That 'Gotta Go' Feeling? 3/5Give Do You Often Have That 'Gotta Go' Feeling? 4/5Give Do You Often Have That 'Gotta Go' Feeling? 5/5
Long Description: 
If you often have that “gotta go” feeling and worry that you will leak urine if you don’t get to a bathroom quickly, then you may have overactive bladder, or OAB. 


Yoga May Bring Better Sleep to Breast Cancer Patients

23/09/2017 helen 0

HealthDay News

FRIDAY, Sept. 22, 2017 (HealthDay News)—A certain type of yoga may provide lasting benefits for breast cancer patients who have trouble sleeping, researchers report.

The study included 227 women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer who were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group practiced Tibetan yoga at least twice a week, another group did a simple stretching program, and the third group received usual care (the “control” group).

The study participants were assessed one week after the end of the program, and the researchers followed up with them at three, six and 12 months later.

Women in the yoga group reported fewer sleep problems and less daytime drowsiness over the long term than those in the other two groups, the researchers said.

Sleep problems and fatigue are common among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, said study author Lorenzo Cohen. He is director of the integrative medicine program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.

The women in the Tibetan yoga program or the stretching program had been offered four 75- to 90-minute classes during their chemotherapy treatment.

Those taking part in Tibetan yoga were taught one-on-one by a trained instructor. The women in this group were taught controlled breathing, visualization, meditation and postures, and were encouraged to practice yoga daily at home.

“While the effects of this intervention were modest, it is encouraging to see that the women who practiced yoga outside of class had improved sleep outcomes over time,” Cohen said in an MD Anderson l news release.

“Previous research has established that yoga effectively reduces sleep disturbances for cancer patients, but have not included active control groups or long-term follow-up. This study hoped to address previous study limitations,” he added.

The study was published online Sept. 20 in the journal Cancer.

SOURCE: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, news release, Sept. 20, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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What Is the Keto Diet?

21/09/2017 helen 0

Paleo diet. South Beach diet. Atkins diet. It can be hard to keep up with all the diets that have come and gone or stuck around over the years.

Add another diet you should know about to the list: keto diet. This diet is controversial and interesting to say the least. The keto (ketogenic) diet is high in fat (75 percent), moderate in protein (20 percent) and low in carbs (5 percent). Yes, it’s known for the fact that you can eat bacon. 

It may be too restrictive and limited for some. However, with some planning, you can get all your vitamins and minerals in.  

Since you’re reducing your carb intake, your body must find a new source of energy. So, the diet forces the body to burn fat. (Ketones are the molecules formed by the breakdown of stored fat). When you’re following a carb-restricted diet, you deplete the glycogen stores (energy) from your muscles. What does that mean? Your body is forced to convert fat stores to glucose (sugar) to create energy.

Say good-bye to starchy veggies like corn, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower and winter squash (like acorn, butternut and pumpkin); they’re too high in carbs. You’ll have to pass on milk, beans, rice, pasta, bread and many fruits. You’ll eat foods like cherry tomatoes, avocados, asparagus, onions, peppers and zucchini and summer squash. Load up on leafy veggies like kale, spinach, collards, arugula and watercress. Enjoy eggs, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), meat (steak, ham, sausage, chicken, turkey), and nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds). 

Since you’re eating so much fat, you do need to count calories if you want to lose weight. How many calories you cut depends on your personal weight-loss goals—whether you want to lose weight quickly or have a steadier, slower weight loss.

The meals
As with any diet, it can take some time adjusting to your new meal mindset. Preparing meals at home for the diet can be time-consuming and costly. To make things easier, consider prepping keto-friendly meals in advance. Meal prepping will help your diet stay on track, especially when you’re short on time. 

Also, don’t go overboard buying lots of keto-friendly snacks. The fats you’re eating should keep you full, even between meals. But if you want something to munch on, some keto-approved options include cheese, nuts or seeds or strawberries. Search the Web and you’ll find tons of keto-friendly recipes you can try. You may also want to meet with a nutritionist to help you come up with a well-rounded meal plan.

The keto flu
Beware of the keto flu. It happens after you start the diet. You experience headaches, upset stomach, vomiting and fatigue. You may feel like you can’t get out of bed or even get dressed. It’s like you have the flu, minus the fever. 

Because you’re avoiding most carbs, sugar is leaving your body and you’re likely dehydrated. (Carbs hold fluids in your body. So, when you cut back on your carb intake, extra water comes out in your urine.) Remember, your body’s cells run on carbs for fuel. Eventually, your liver will convert the fats you’re eating into carbs. To help you feel better, drink electrolyte formulas or water. And keep moving to help you get through this flu. Once you conquer this setback, you should feel better. If not, see your health care provider. 

Tough love
It can be difficult to stick with a keto diet 100 percent of the time. The diet is low-carb and high-fat, allows no sweets or alcohol and gives you little wiggle room to cheat. (That’s why some say it’s more of a lifestyle change than a diet.) You may feel like you’re starting all over again if you go off the diet for even a day. 

When you’re trying to lose weight, a difficult diet may do more harm than good. You may feel like a failure if you can’t keep up with it. Just remember that the best diet is one you can and do stick with.

Always speak with your health care provider before starting any new diet plan. Yes, the keto diet can help manage medical conditions like epilepsy. But for people with certain genetic disorders or health conditions like diabetes or kidney disease, the diet may not be a good idea. 

Be aware that you may experience side effects like dizziness, changes in bowel habits, bad breath, sleep problems and weakness. More significant health issues include gallstones, kidney stones (due to dehydration) and high cholesterol (since you’re raising your fat intake). 

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Honoring World Alzheimer’s Month: Keeping the Brain Healthy

16/09/2017 helen 0

I read The New York Times blog called The New Old Age, written by Paula Span. This week, Paula introduced herself in a story behind the story column. She writes, “With more than 20 percent of the American population projected to be over 65 by the year 2030, per the Census Bureau, I’m unlikely to run out of material.” In fact, she says the list of subjects she hopes to  tackle keeps lengthening.

Let’s see, how old will I be in 2030? Hmm, I’ll be 72. Ouch!

As I approach 60 next year, I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. However, every aging body has something. Right? One of my friends has knee issues, another has rotator cuff issues, another  has back problems. My problem is my teeth. I have one implant already, and with the pain I’ve been having lately, more to come. Plus, I have flat feet, which is minor, but they hurt after long walks and add to my difficulty finding comfortable shoes.

Alzheimer’s and the Aging Mind
Then there’s the aging mind and memory. I try to keep my mind active by teaching and doing yoga, reading the newspaper, and researching and writing this blog. However, with the growing statistics on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, it’s all so scary.

According to the National Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to rise as high as 16 million by 2050. And many more women develop the disease than men.

Let’s see, I’ll be 92 in 2050. Ouch! How should I keep my brain healthy as I age?

Since September is World Alzheimer’s Month, I thought I would take time to share my interview with Dr. Michelle Braun, a neuropsychologist who knows a great deal about Alzheimer’s and keeping the brain healthy. Dr. Braun developed the Brain Health Quiz, which she shares more about in the interview below.

Here are excerpts from my interview with Dr. Braun: 

Q. What are common myths about Alzheimer’s?

Dr. Braun: The most common myth is that Alzheimer’s is hereditary and that we cannot decrease our risk of developing it. Although there is a strong hereditary risk for early onset Alzheimer’s (in which symptoms develop prior to age 65), there is not a strong hereditary risk for most cases of late-onset Alzheimer’s (in which symptoms develop after age 65). This is an especially important myth to overturn because 96 percent of all cases of Alzheimer’s are late-onset, and lifestyle factors under our direct control can significantly minimize the risk of developing it.

Another myth is that crosswords or online brain games are the best way to minimize the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Many people also believe the myth that memory supplements can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Another myth is that if a person has changes in brain tissue that are associated with Alzheimer’s, they will definitely exhibit the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Autopsies have shown that some individuals with brain tissue changes linked to Alzheimer’s do not exhibit memory problems or other symptoms of Alzheimer’s in daily life. Protective lifestyle factors are likely responsible for the ability to compensate or “shield” ourselves from expressing symptoms, even if our brain tissue is impacted by the changes linked to Alzheimer’s. 

Another common myth is that Alzheimer’s or significant memory problems are a part of normal aging. In fact, some older adults are “Super Agers” and have remarkable memories. For example, a 2016 study showed that the brain functioning of Super Agers who were 60 to 80 years old was similar to the brain functioning of 18- to 35-year-olds.

Q. What role does your heredity play in risks of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Dr. Braun: Even if late-onset Alzheimer’s runs in the family, this does not guarantee that other family members will get the disease. Alzheimer’s is sometimes linked to genes that increase the risk of developing it, but not necessarily. Many individuals with a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s don’t develop it, whereas about half of individuals without a genetic risk do. This proves that Alzheimer’s is related to much more than genetic factors.

Q: What are the signs that you may have the beginnings of Alzheimer’s?

Dr. Braun: There isn’t one specific symptom of early Alzheimer’s. However, the following symptoms may be a warning sign of a more concerning memory problem such as Alzheimer’s and should be reported to a health care provider to determine if a diagnostic memory evaluation is needed:

  •  New or increasing memory problems that do NOT appear to be explained by a known medical, emotional or situational issue (e.g., some people experience temporary memory problems due to stress, lack of sleep, thyroid issues or other medical problems, and memory bounces back after the underlying issue is corrected).
  •  One or more people has noticed that an individual’s memory has worsened and is impacting the ability to carry out daily tasks (e.g., forgetting whether medication has been taken or whether bills have been paid).
  •  Increasing forgetfulness for recent events, such as conversations, activities and appointments.
  •  Increasing word-finding difficulties, such as difficulty naming common objects or thinking of words.

Q: How can post-50 women (and men) reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia?

Dr. Braun: The best techniques to lower the risk are the same whether or not there is a genetic risk factor for the disease. In addition, brain health is a special priority for women. Two-thirds of the millions of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women, and women with memory problems are more likely than men to suffer additional memory decline over time.

The reasons for women’s increased susceptibility are not fully clear, but evidence suggests it is not simply because women often outlive men and are therefore more likely to be diagnosed with problems associated with advanced age. Some evidence suggests that the same genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s impacts women more than men, while other evidence suggests that estrogen may play a role. 

Brain boosting techniques include:

  •  Prioritize cardiovascular exercise. Several studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise is the most powerful tool in minimizing the risk of Alzheimer’s. For example, a 2014 study in Lancet Neurology showed that one hour of weekly exercise decreased the risk of Alzheimer’s by half. In addition, people who were physically inactive had an 82 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The brain-boosting benefit of exercise is likely related to the growth of new nerve cells in the core memory processing area of the brain (the hippocampus).
  •  Follow a brain-healthy diet. The impact of a brain-healthy diet is powerful in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s. For example, individuals who followed the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) showed a 53 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. Recommended foods include nuts, chicken, fish, olive oil, berries, green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, red wine, whole grains, beans. Minimal consumption of five foods associated with decreased brain health is also recommended (fried foods, butter, cheese, red meat, pastries and sweets). The power of diet is likely related to better blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. Antioxidants in brain-healthy diets also help to minimize the destruction of nerve cells by free radicals.
  • Maintain excellent vascular health. Minimizing and/or treating high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol issues is essential to great brain health.
  •  Sleep well! Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is important.
  •  Stress management helps to counteract high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which have been shown to impair memory performance. Stress management can take the form of meditation, relaxation, setting limits on our schedules and reframing how we think about situations that we see as stressful. Treating depression is also important, given that people with depression have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
  •  Quitting or decreasing smoking is vital, given that smokers have a higher risk of memory problems and Alzheimer’s.

 

Q: Tell me more about brain exercises that can build up our brain health?

Dr. Braun: Brain boosting activities are one of several powerful tools we can use to maintain or enhance our memory. The most effective brain boosting activities go well beyond our current conceptions of brain exercises and brain games.

Brain boosting activities increase the number of connections between neurons so information is processed more quickly and remembered more effectively. We can also bank those extra neuronal connections for later to potentially delay or stave off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s if our brain is impacted by the disease.

The best brain boosting activities are captured by the acronym SAVE. They are:

  • Slightly challenging. To grow the strongest neuronal connections, we must do something we are not already expert at. The tasks you choose should be slightly above your current abilities but not so difficult that they are frustrating. You should seek out “head-scratching moments” that require you to actively think through information.
  • Absorbing. You should feel engaged and interested in the tasks you do, so that you spend more time doing them. More time = increased neuronal connections! 
  • Varied. Mix up the activities you do in order to grow neuronal connections in different areas of your brain.
  • Enlarge your knowledge. Choose activities that make you a “beginner” again and teach you new information. For example, if you are already an expert at crosswords, you are likely to grow more neuronal connections if you do something other than crosswords.

The best brain boosting activities are different for everyone. Examples include learning a new language, a new route to work, a new gardening technique, new information about a topic you love, watching educational television, and any other task that is slightly challenging, absorbing, varied, and enlarges your knowledge.

A Mayo Clinic study published early this year demonstrated the breadth of brain boosting activities that help minimize cognitive decline. Results showed that the risk of developing memory problems decreased by 30 percent when people used computers, by 28 percent when they did craft activities, by 23 percent when they were involved in social activities and by 22 percent when playing games. The effect was strongest when the activities were done one to two times weekly.”

Q: What is the Brain Health Quiz?

Dr. Braun: The Brain Health Quiz is based on hundreds of scientific research studies. It provides users with an estimate of current brain health and personalized, science-backed tips to boost brain health. Many people who have taken the quiz are excited to learn that boosting brain health also often enhances overall happiness, quality of life and cardiovascular health.

Check out these resources

I invite you to join the growing number of people who are taking the Brain Health Quiz at www.DrMichelleBraun.com. 

Also check out Dr. Braun’s Facebook page for videos and more information on brain health.

Go ahead and take the Brain Health Quiz. LMK how you do. I took the quiz and am proud to say that I am a High Octane Role Model. LMK your results!

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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What You Need to Know About Chronic Dry Eye

15/09/2017 helen 0

Nearly one in five U.S. women suffers from chronic dry eye, a condition with symptoms that may include itching, burning or stinging. If you suspect you may have chronic dry eye or have been recently diagnosed with the condition, you probably have some questions. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help:  

What is chronic dry eye? 

Chronic dry eye occurs when the eyes are unable to maintain their normal healthy coating of tears. Each time we blink, tears spread across the surface of our eyes to wash away invaders, lubricate the eyes, reduce the risk of infection and keep eyes smooth and clear. Those tears then drain into the ducts at the corners of our eyelids and into the back of the nose. When tears evaporate or drain more quickly than they’re produced, chronic dry eye occurs. 

What are the symptoms of chronic dry eye? 
Symptoms of chronic dry eye include:

  •  Dryness or itching
  •  Burning or stinging
  •  Watering eyes
  •  Sensitivity to light
  •  A gritty or sandy sensation
  •  Feeling like something is in your eye
  •  Blurry vision
  •  Problems wearing contact lenses
  •  Pain and redness in the eyes 

What causes Chronic Dry Eye? 
Chronic dry eye is a chronic disease that can be caused by advanced age, contact lens wear, certain medications, eye diseases, other medical conditions or environmental factors. One type of chronic dry eye disease is caused by reduced tear production due to inflammation.  

Chronic dry eye is more common in people over 50 years old and occurs somewhat more frequently in women than in men. It may be associated with hormonal changes, common when women are experiencing menopause or are postmenopausal. It may also be associated with other eye or health conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s. 

How can I find out if I have chronic dry eye? 
If you think you might have chronic dry eye, make an appointment with your eye care professional and have a good conversation about your eyes. A recent online survey of 1,053 adult Americans conducted by Allergan, makers of Restasis Multidose® (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05%, and Kelton Global revealed more than half of respondents (53 percent) say they’re most comfortable speaking about their health with a general practitioner, with only 6 percent saying the same about their eye doctor. However, the conversation with your eye care professional is just as important as the physical exam in identifying symptoms, determining a diagnosis and developing a customized treatment plan that is right for you. While many of those surveyed raised concerns about a change in vision during a visit to their eye doctor, respondents were less likely to bring up issues like burning or stinging (9 percent), redness (9 percent) or watering eyes (15 percent). Be open in discussing any changes or concerns at your eye doctor appointment, even if you don’t think there’s an issue; don’t dismiss shifts in eye health as a natural consequence of aging or assume issues are minor or temporary and will go away on their own. For example, pay attention if your eyes are red in the morning, if you suddenly have problems wearing contacts or if you use artificial tears often or for a long time. A conversation with your doctor can help identify things that might not turn up in the eye exam and spot signs of health conditions that first manifest with eye symptoms. Talking openly and honestly will help your eye care professional accurately diagnose your problem and recommend the treatment that is right for you. The conversation you have with your eye doctor is essential in receiving the right diagnosis, especially when it comes to chronic dry eye, a common but often overlooked condition.

How can I make the most of my appointment with my eye care professional? 
Make a mental list of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing and any questions you have prior to your eye doctor appointment. Be prepared to talk about other health conditions you suffer from or any family health history that could be of note. If your eyes feel dry, you may have a type of chronic dry eye. Take the short dry eye quiz on Restasis.com before your visit and discuss results with your eye care professional. Additionally, bring a list of all medicines and supplements you are taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, and be sure to include dosages. If you are seeking a second opinion from a different eye care professional, bring a list of the eye medication that was tried and what worked and what did not work. 

Are there lifestyle changes I can try to improve my dry eye symptoms? 

There are some things you can try on your own. They include blinking regularly when you are staring at a computer screen for extended periods; increasing the humidity in the air of your work and home environments; wearing sunglasses outdoors to reduce exposure to wind and sun; and drinking eight to 10 glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration. 

What are treatment option categories for chronic dry eye or a type of chronic dry eye?   
The primary treatment approaches involve adding tears, conserving tears and increasing tear production. 

Adding tears: For mild cases of chronic dry eye, over-the-counter artificial tear solutions may be sufficient to supplement natural tears. Your eye care professional will most likely recommend a preservative-free solution, such as Refresh Optive Mega-3, NanoTears MXP Forte, Systane Ultra and others. If your eyes don’t respond to the OTC remedy, you may need additional treatments. 

Conserving tears: Treatments that block the tear ducts through which tears normally drain can help preserve your natural tears. The ducts may be blocked with tiny removable silicone or gel-like plugs or surgery that permanently blocks them to keep natural tears in the eye longer or with temporary dissolvable plugs which are made of collagen or a dissolvable suture material and last weeks to months. 

Increased tear production: Your eye care professional may recommend a prescription treatment, such as Restasis Multidose®, which helps increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to chronic dry eye. Restasis Multidose® is the only FDA-approved, preservative-free, prescription eye drop in the United States available in a multidose bottle. Restasis® (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05% is also available in single-dose vials.

Reducing inflammation: Your eye doctor might also recommend prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses, lid massages or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes. Other options:  There are other treatments available, such as taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements. 

Can I still wear contacts if I have chronic dry eye? 
Yes. There are contact lenses specifically designed for people with chronic dry eye, but you must carefully follow the wearing schedule. Some prescription eye drops should not be used while wearing contact lenses; with Restasis Multidose®, contacts should be removed before use and then reinserted 15 minutes after applying the medication. Also, use rewetting drops frequently, especially before you remove your lenses and if you are reading or using the computer. 

This resource was developed with the support of Allergan RESTASIS MULTIDOSE®. Please see Important Safety Information below.

Read Related Content: 

Conversations with Your Eye Care Professional May Reveal More Than Meets the Eye 

How to Talk About Eyes 

Ask the Expert: Some Tips for a Better Conversation

 

Approved Use

RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® help increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye. RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® did not increase tear production in patients using anti-inflammatory eye drops or tear duct plugs.

Important Safety Information

Do not use RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® Ophthalmic Emulsion if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Be careful not to touch the container tip to your eye or other surfaces, to help avoid eye injury and contamination. RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® should not be used while wearing contact lenses. If contact lenses are worn, they should be removed prior to use of RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE® and may be reinserted after 15 minutes.

The most common side effect is a temporary burning sensation. Other side effects include eye redness, discharge, watery eyes, eye pain, foreign body sensation, itching, stinging, and blurred vision.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full Product Information for RESTASIS® and RESTASIS MULTIDOSE®.

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Weight Gain: Dirty Menopausal Trick

15/09/2017 helen 0

As if the hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and sexual challenges weren’t enough, now you can add weight gain to the menopausal whammy.  

That’s right. In case you hadn’t noticed (fat chance!), women tend to gain about 10 to 15 pounds on average—from 3 to 30 pounds is the typical range—during and after menopause. And because our entire metabolic mechanism is different now, that weight is blessedly hard to take off.

“I feel like my body has betrayed me,” said one of my patients.

“Prior to menopause I was able to maintain a weight loss of 70 pounds. I see that 25 pounds have come back and nothing I seem to do is helping,” said another woman.

Weight gain during menopause isn’t totally related to “the change.” Lifestyle, genetics, and, yes, hormonal fluctuation all play their respective roles, for better or for worse. But the weight goes on, and the way that happens is different from weight gain in previous years.

So, if you’re accustomed to losing weight easily—or not gaining it in the first place—this development may come as a puzzling and unpleasant surprise. And if you struggle with your weight, be forewarned: The deck is about to be reshuffled, and that struggle may become harder yet. 

The single bright spot is that you’re in a very big boat with a lot of other menopausal gals—up to 90 percent of us gain weight during this transition, according to this article.

Menopausal weight gain is different because:

  • It’s slow and steady—one or two pounds per year. Not enough to really notice, but the cumulative effect sneaks up on you.
  • It accumulates attractively around the abdomen. Belly fat. The kind that’s linked to heart disease and diabetes.
  • Breasts are bigger and the back is fattier. This might be nice for those of us who’ve always been lacking in that department, except that now, accompanied by a slowly enlarging belly, not to mention the back fat, the overall effect is less than flattering to our contemporary visions. And for those who were always well-endowed, well, a little (or a lot) more may simply be overkill.
  • It’s hard to lose. While “hard to lose” is a functional definition of weight gain, this is different because it’s part and parcel of a more profound change in how your body processes energy.
  • Body shape changes. Previously, you may have been a string bean or a curvaceous plum. Now you’re a round apple.

Why does this happen? 

To effectively tackle this unsettling turn of events and to grasp why the things you did before aren’t working now, it helps to understand the underlying mechanism.

For one thing, muscle mass, which is an efficient burner of calories, slowly decreases with age. Now, even your resting metabolism (when you aren’t active) is lower. Adding insult to injury, loss of estrogen compounds this effect. Studies of lab animals suggest that estrogen has a regulating effect on appetite and weight gain. Animals with lower estrogen levels ate more and moved less. 

Learn more about how to Speed Up Your Metabolism at Midlife.

When the ovaries stop producing estrogen, fat cells tend to take over. Ovaries produce estradiol, a “premium” estrogen; fat cells produce estrone, which is a weak, inefficient estrogen. This hormonal change increases the body’s efficiency at depositing fat, especially, we find, around the abdomen.

A recent study confirmed that certain proteins and enzymes that enable cells to store more fat and burn it less become more active in post-menopausal women. 

“Taken together, these changes in bodily processes may be more than a little surprising—and upsetting—for women who previously had little trouble managing their weight,” comments Sylvia Santosa, assistant professor in Concordia University’s Department of Exercise Science in this article.

You got that right, sister.

Menopause packs a couple more weight-inducing changes: insomnia and stress. When you don’t sleep well (and who does, what with night sweats and cratering mood swings?), levels of ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” rise and levels of the “fullness hormone” leptin drop. That’s why you get the nighttime munchies. 

A study of over 1,000 volunteers (The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study) found that those who slept less had higher ghrelin levels and lower leptin levels—and also had a higher body mass index (BMI), i.e., they weighed more.

And we all know what stress eating does to our waistline.

Learn more about Menopause and Anxiety.

So, what’s a stressed-out, sleep-deprived, menopausal woman to do? 

It’s a challenge, without doubt. However, when we understand the mechanism—what’s happening to our bodies on a biological level—then we realize that doing what we did before isn’t going to work. We need to change the paradigm if we want to control our weight and maintain a healthy, active post-menopausal lifestyle.

This paradigm shift involves a different approach to both diet (Note: I did not say dieting!) and exercise. No magic pharma pill or painless regimen. Still, we can regain control of the bathroom scales despite the slings and arrows of our slowing metabolism and estrogen-storing fat cells. And honestly, we might end up with better health habits than we ever had before. 

Learn more about 7 Ridiculously Simple and Realistic Ways to Lose Weight After 50.

Barb DePree, MD, has been a gynecologist for 30 years, specializing in menopause care for the past 10. Dr. DePree was named the Certified Menopause Practitioner of the Year in 2013 by the North American Menopause Society. The award particularly recognized the outreach, communication and education she does through MiddlesexMD, a website she founded and where this blog first appeared. She also is director of the Women’s Midlife Services at Holland Hospital, Holland, Michigan.

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Why Choosing Artificial Sweeteners Isn’t Necessarily Better

14/09/2017 helen 0

HealthDay News

THURSDAY, Sept. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News)—A small Australian study suggests that consuming high amounts of artificial sweeteners might affect how the body responds to sugar—and might raise a person’s risk of diabetes.

See Also: Artificial Sweeteners Trick the Brain

“This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body’s control of blood sugar levels,” said lead author Richard Young, an associate professor at the University of Adelaide’s medical school.

High sweetener intake might lead to “exaggerated” spikes in people’s blood sugar levels after a meal, he explained, which over time “could predispose them to developing type 2 diabetes.” He spoke in a news release from the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal, where the findings were to be presented on Wednesday.

The study was small—just 27 people—and lasted just two weeks, so more research would be needed.

However, the findings bring up interesting questions, said one U.S. diabetes specialist.

Dr. Roubert Courgi is an endocrinologist at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. Reading over the Australian research, he noted that it “proved glucose [blood sugar] response is hampered” in heavy users of artificial sweeteners.

“This study reaffirms that artificial sweeteners can still affect your body’s response to glucose,” he said.

In the study, 27 healthy people were randomly picked to consume capsules containing either artificial sweeteners—either sucralose or acesulfame-K—or a “dummy” placebo.

The capsules were taken three times a day before meals for two weeks. The total dose included in a day’s worth of sweetener capsules was equal to drinking a little more than 1.5 quarts of an artificially sweetened diet beverage daily, the researchers noted.

At the end of the two weeks, tests showed that people who had taken the artificial sweeteners had changes in their body’s response to sugar, while those who had taken the placebo pills did not.

Young noted that prior research has shown that regular consumption of large amounts of artificial sweeteners is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

A U.S. nutritionist agreed that while artificial sweeteners may seem like a healthy alternative to sugar, these products aren’t without their downsides.

“Artificial sugars are lower in calories but can still be an unhealthy addition to the diet,” explained Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian who teaches at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

“Just like eating too much sugar, too much fake sugar can also lead to health problems,” she said. “The bigger concern seems to be the long-term, large-quantity consumption, so, just like nutrition experts are always saying, moderation is key.”

For his part, Courgi said that sometimes the use of “low-cal” sweeteners simply encourages other unhealthy eating behaviors.

“These artificial sweeteners may offer less sugar than other products, but they are not a free pass to mass consumption,” he said. “Consumers should use discretion with these products because of the risk of diabetes.”

Experts note that findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The Calorie Control Council, which represents the makers of artificial sweeteners, did not reply to a HealthDay request for comment.

SOURCES: Robert Courgi, M.D., endocrinologist, Southside Hospital, Bay Shore, N.Y.; Dana Angelo White, MS RD, registered dietitian and clinical assistant professor of athletic training and sports medicine, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Conn; European Association for the Study of Diabetes, news release, Sept. 13, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

 

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These New Books Will Help You Reinvent Yourself

09/09/2017 helen 0

It’s been many years since I’ve had kids at home who are starting a new school year, yet come September I always think about new beginnings.

The past month my mailbox has been filled with new books that can help you reinvent yourself and make positive changes. Since it’s September (can you believe it), I thought I’d share a few of the titles that resonated with me, in the hope that they may resonate with you too.

The Power of Positive Energy by Tanaaz Chubb
This paperback includes “everything you need to awaken your soul, raise your vibration, and manifest an inspired life.”

As a yogi, I really like this book. It’s an easy read with techniques to invite positive energy and gratitude into your life. Tanaaz is the founder of ForeverConscious.com, a site that promotes spiritual well-being.

According to Tanaaz, “Positive energy is anything that makes you feel good, and feeling good happens when a vibration resonates with your soul.” 

She says your energetic vibration dictates how you see the world: “People who are vibrating on a higher frequency tend to be able to see the positive side to any situation, whereas people operating on a lower frequency tend to only be able to focus on negatives.”

How are your vibrations today? Most days I’m positive.

By following her exercises, “readers can adjust their auras to emit calm, peaceful, and positive energy instead of unhappiness or stress,” Tanaaz says. No wonder I like Tanaaz’s book! 

Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab, PhD
If you like to use writing as a creative outlet or have thought about writing a memoir during your life after 50, Diana’s book is for you. Diana is an award-winning memoirist, poet, speaker, educator and survivor.
 

The subhead for her book is “A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” To master this plan, she provides prompts in each chapter for both the seasoned writer and novice writer, and she does it in a mindful way. As you follow the prompts you may feel like you are going through a therapy session with the written word. 

For example, in Writing Prompt 3:5 – Being Aware of Your Feelings, Diana presents a way to practice what research psychologist Rosemarie Anderson (2011) calls embodied writing, a powerful tool for transformation. “While engaged in embodied writing, the writer becomes more involved in their own story because they feel the emotions of the experience in their physical being,” says Diana. 

If you want to try a writing exercise, here’s the prompt:

Writing Prompt 3:5 – Being Aware of Your Feelings
“Sit still with your eyes closed. Ask yourself how you are feeling today. Try to pinpoint where the emotion you are feeling is located in your body. Just feel it. Don’t read into it or analyze it. Simply write about your experience.”

Can you tell why I like this book? Did you try writing about your feelings? How did it go? Be easy on yourself. 

Drawing Calm by Susan Evenson
If you favor art and design over writing, you’ll enjoy Susan’s book. As an artist and author, Susan shows you how to channel your energy to “relax, refresh and refocus” with 20 drawing, painting and collage workshops inspired by Klimt, Klee, Monet and other artists.

Susan shares ways to connect with your inner calm using engaging warm-ups, such as drawing your grocery list, dream house doodling and creating stacks of calm. The 20 art projects require some paints, pencils and other arts and crafts items—there’s nothing major to purchase.

Creative Healing Educator Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, MSN, PhD, adds commentary throughout the book. Mary says, “The time we set aside to create and make art has powerful healing benefits. It allows us to tap into our interior healing resources that shift us from the state of stress to the state of calmness.”

Even if you’re not a great artist, you will enjoy Susan’s book. Go ahead and be creative—it’s fun.

Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy by Robie Rogge and Dian G. Smith.
This yearlong journal will bring you up on a down day if you just flip through the pages and read quotes about happiness. It’s a cute volume with thought-provoking questions to answer about what brings you joy.

You can measure your happiness on a thermometer at the beginning of your journey and gauge your progress along the way.

I like the way the quotes and questions help you reflect on sources of joy in your life, such as love, nature, food, friendship, kindness, learning, action and work. Here are a few of my favorites. Can you fill in the blanks?

  •  “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Q: Reflect on a sweet, simple thing that made me happy today:________.
  •  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
    Q: How someone made me feel happy today:_________.
  •  “All you need is love.” John Lennon and Paul McCartney
    Q: How love brought me happiness today:________.
  • “A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.” Marilyn Monroe
    Q: Where I wore my smile today:________.

Happy September! Be happy! 

Disclaimer: I received all these books compliments of the author or publisher. I received Do One Thing Every Day That Makes Me Happy from Blogging for Books for this review.

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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These New Books Will Help You Reinvent Yourself

09/09/2017 helen 0

It’s been many years since I’ve had kids at home who are starting a new school year, yet come September I always think about new beginnings.

The past month my mailbox has been filled with new books that can help you reinvent yourself and make positive changes. Since it’s September (can you believe it), I thought I’d share a few of the titles that resonated with me, in the hope that they may resonate with you too.

The Power of Positive Energy by Tanaaz Chubb
This paperback includes “everything you need to awaken your soul, raise your vibration, and manifest an inspired life.”

As a yogi, I really like this book. It’s an easy read with techniques to invite positive energy and gratitude into your life. Tanaaz is the founder of ForeverConscious.com, a site that promotes spiritual well-being.

According to Tanaaz, “Positive energy is anything that makes you feel good, and feeling good happens when a vibration resonates with your soul.” 

She says your energetic vibration dictates how you see the world: “People who are vibrating on a higher frequency tend to be able to see the positive side to any situation, whereas people operating on a lower frequency tend to only be able to focus on negatives.”

How are your vibrations today? Most days I’m positive.

By following her exercises, “readers can adjust their auras to emit calm, peaceful, and positive energy instead of unhappiness or stress,” Tanaaz says. No wonder I like Tanaaz’s book! 

Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab, PhD
If you like to use writing as a creative outlet or have thought about writing a memoir during your life after 50, Diana’s book is for you. Diana is an award-winning memoirist, poet, speaker, educator and survivor.
 

The subhead for her book is “A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” To master this plan, she provides prompts in each chapter for both the seasoned writer and novice writer, and she does it in a mindful way. As you follow the prompts you may feel like you are going through a therapy session with the written word. 

For example, in Writing Prompt 3:5 – Being Aware of Your Feelings, Diana presents a way to practice what research psychologist Rosemarie Anderson (2011) calls embodied writing, a powerful tool for transformation. “While engaged in embodied writing, the writer becomes more involved in their own story because they feel the emotions of the experience in their physical being,” says Diana. 

If you want to try a writing exercise, here’s the prompt:

Writing Prompt 3:5 – Being Aware of Your Feelings
“Sit still with your eyes closed. Ask yourself how you are feeling today. Try to pinpoint where the emotion you are feeling is located in your body. Just feel it. Don’t read into it or analyze it. Simply write about your experience.”

Can you tell why I like this book? Did you try writing about your feelings? How did it go? Be easy on yourself. 

Drawing Calm by Susan Evenson
If you favor art and design over writing, you’ll enjoy Susan’s book. As an artist and author, Susan shows you how to channel your energy to “relax, refresh and refocus” with 20 drawing, painting and collage workshops inspired by Klimt, Klee, Monet and other artists.

Susan shares ways to connect with your inner calm using engaging warm-ups, such as drawing your grocery list, dream house doodling and creating stacks of calm. The 20 art projects require some paints, pencils and other arts and crafts items—there’s nothing major to purchase.

Creative Healing Educator Mary Rockwood Lane, RN, MSN, PhD, adds commentary throughout the book. Mary says, “The time we set aside to create and make art has powerful healing benefits. It allows us to tap into our interior healing resources that shift us from the state of stress to the state of calmness.”

Even if you’re not a great artist, you will enjoy Susan’s book. Go ahead and be creative—it’s fun.

Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy by Robie Rogge and Dian G. Smith.
This yearlong journal will bring you up on a down day if you just flip through the pages and read quotes about happiness. It’s a cute volume with thought-provoking questions to answer about what brings you joy.

You can measure your happiness on a thermometer at the beginning of your journey and gauge your progress along the way.

I like the way the quotes and questions help you reflect on sources of joy in your life, such as love, nature, food, friendship, kindness, learning, action and work. Here are a few of my favorites. Can you fill in the blanks?

  •  “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Q: Reflect on a sweet, simple thing that made me happy today:________.
  •  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
    Q: How someone made me feel happy today:_________.
  •  “All you need is love.” John Lennon and Paul McCartney
    Q: How love brought me happiness today:________.
  • “A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.” Marilyn Monroe
    Q: Where I wore my smile today:________.

Happy September! Be happy! 

Disclaimer: I received all these books compliments of the author or publisher. I received Do One Thing Every Day That Makes Me Happy from Blogging for Books for this review.

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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The Best Way to Diagnose a Food Allergy

09/09/2017 helen 0

HealthDay News

FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Diagnosing a food allergy isn’t always simple, but the best way to do it is through an oral food challenge, according to a new study.

“It’s important to have an accurate diagnosis of food allergy so an allergist can make a clear recommendation as to what foods you need to keep out of your diet,” said study senior author and allergist Dr. Carla Davis.

“And if no allergy exists, that clears the way to reintroduce foods you may have thought were off-limits,” said Davis, an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

During an oral food challenge, patients are asked to eat a very small amount of a suspected allergen while under the close supervision of a specially trained doctor, called an allergist. This doctor will evaluate the person for signs of an allergic reaction.

Researchers who analyzed more than 6,300 oral food challenges found these tests were safe and caused very few people to have a serious allergic reaction. Most of these tests involved children and teens younger than 18.

Of these cases, 14 percent resulted in a mild to moderate reaction that involved just one part of the body, such as a skin rash. The researchers noted that 2 percent resulted in very severe reactions that affected multiple body systems (anaphylaxis).

The results were published Sept. 7 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

“Oral food challenges are a very important tool for anyone who wants to know if they have a food allergy,” said study lead author Dr. Kwei Akuete, an allergist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. “Our study showed [oral food challenges] are safer than prior studies estimated, and should be routinely used to help determine if a food allergy exists.”

Making a food allergy diagnosis is very important for people’s health and quality of life, the study authors said.

“Food challenges improve the quality of life for people with food allergies, even if they are positive,” Davis said in a journal news release. Delaying a diagnosis can lead to increased health costs to the patient and raise the risk for nutrition problems, especially for children, she added.

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Sept. 7, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Hair-Brushing Mistakes

08/09/2017 helen 0

Brushing your hair seems like a no-brainer, right? You simply grab the brush from the bathroom drawer and stroke away at your mane. Stop right there. 

There is a wrong and a right way to complete this seemingly simple act. Brushing hair improperly could damage your strands, causing hair issues like breakage or tangles. Doing it correctly can leave you with hair that’s soft, shiny and strong. 

Here are some common hair-brushing mistakes you may be committing that you don’t even realize.

You’re using the wrong brush.
Brushes don’t follow the mantra of one-size-fits all. Test a brush before you use it. It shouldn’t feel painful or rough and should complement your hair’s texture and the style you desire. Round and metal brushes add volume while blow drying. If your hair is curly or coarse, use a tough or boar bristle brush that has enough tension to pull through your hair. Flat ones are best for sleeker finishes. A flat, paddle-shaped brush is good if you want to put hair into a ponytail or an up-do. Avoid brushes with balls at the end of each bristle. Your hair may wrap around the balls and get ripped out. Your best bet is to use a bristle brush or comb with staggered teeth. These tools relieve knots without tearing out your hair. 

You’re not brushing enough.
Brushing your hair gently a few times a day is good for it, especially if it’s long. It helps condition strands, distributing oils and promoting a healthy scalp.

You’re brushing too much.
Three or four strokes are typically enough to remove any knots or fix your style. The more you brush, the more damage you’re potentially doing to your mane.

You’re just brushing the ends.
Your scalp’s natural oils are a great conditioner. Brushing your hair adds natural luster to your locks.

You use the same brush whether your hair is wet or dry.
Wet hair is prone to breakage. Use a comb or brush designed to gently detangle wet hair. Tools geared for wet hair typically have flexible bristles that won’t break or tug wet strands.

You don’t brush your hair before you wash it.
Prevent tangled hair in the shower by brushing your hair before you hop in to shampoo. Because hair is weakest when it’s wet, brush hair thoroughly before you suds up. This practice will help prevent tangling and knotting.

You’re brushing your hair when it’s wet.
Like we said, your hair is weakest, fragile and most vulnerable when it’s wet. So, before reaching for your brush, detangle and smooth your hair with your fingers. That method is gentler than immediately using a comb and may help you avoid damaging your hair.

You’re brushing it in the wrong direction.
Brushing hair from top to bottom causes more knots and creates unnecessary damage and breakage. When untangling hair, start a few inches from the bottom (the ends) and work your way up (to the roots). Move closer to your scalp once you’ve taken care of all the tangles in the section you’re working with. (Don’t avoid the top of your head altogether; brushing your roots helps redistribute natural oils, conditioning the hair and keeping it healthy.) This way, you won’t pull on it, causing unnecessary stress on your mane and possible damage like breakage. If you go down the entire length of your hair in one swipe, you’re bound to snag your brush on a tangle and hair can snap. Following this method, hair will eventually be fully detangled and you’ll be able to smoothly brush it from scalp to tip.

You’re brushing through dry curls.
If you’re curly haired, avoid brushing through dry curls. Opt for combs instead of brushes. Brushing curls can aggravate the hair cuticle and even break off the curls. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle strands when they’re wet.

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Hair-Brushing Mistakes

08/09/2017 helen 0

Brushing your hair seems like a no-brainer, right? You simply grab the brush from the bathroom drawer and stroke away at your mane. Stop right there. 

There is a wrong and a right way to complete this seemingly simple act. Brushing hair improperly could damage your strands, causing hair issues like breakage or tangles. Doing it correctly can leave you with hair that’s soft, shiny and strong. 

Here are some common hair-brushing mistakes you may be committing that you don’t even realize.

You’re using the wrong brush.
Brushes don’t follow the mantra of one-size-fits all. Test a brush before you use it. It shouldn’t feel painful or rough and should complement your hair’s texture and the style you desire. Round and metal brushes add volume while blow drying. If your hair is curly or coarse, use a tough or boar bristle brush that has enough tension to pull through your hair. Flat ones are best for sleeker finishes. A flat, paddle-shaped brush is good if you want to put hair into a ponytail or an up-do. Avoid brushes with balls at the end of each bristle. Your hair may wrap around the balls and get ripped out. Your best bet is to use a bristle brush or comb with staggered teeth. These tools relieve knots without tearing out your hair. 

You’re not brushing enough.
Brushing your hair gently a few times a day is good for it, especially if it’s long. It helps condition strands, distributing oils and promoting a healthy scalp.

You’re brushing too much.
Three or four strokes are typically enough to remove any knots or fix your style. The more you brush, the more damage you’re potentially doing to your mane.

You’re just brushing the ends.
Your scalp’s natural oils are a great conditioner. Brushing your hair adds natural luster to your locks.

You use the same brush whether your hair is wet or dry.
Wet hair is prone to breakage. Use a comb or brush designed to gently detangle wet hair. Tools geared for wet hair typically have flexible bristles that won’t break or tug wet strands.

You don’t brush your hair before you wash it.
Prevent tangled hair in the shower by brushing your hair before you hop in to shampoo. Because hair is weakest when it’s wet, brush hair thoroughly before you suds up. This practice will help prevent tangling and knotting.

You’re brushing your hair when it’s wet.
Like we said, your hair is weakest, fragile and most vulnerable when it’s wet. So, before reaching for your brush, detangle and smooth your hair with your fingers. That method is gentler than immediately using a comb and may help you avoid damaging your hair.

You’re brushing it in the wrong direction.
Brushing hair from top to bottom causes more knots and creates unnecessary damage and breakage. When untangling hair, start a few inches from the bottom (the ends) and work your way up (to the roots). Move closer to your scalp once you’ve taken care of all the tangles in the section you’re working with. (Don’t avoid the top of your head altogether; brushing your roots helps redistribute natural oils, conditioning the hair and keeping it healthy.) This way, you won’t pull on it, causing unnecessary stress on your mane and possible damage like breakage. If you go down the entire length of your hair in one swipe, you’re bound to snag your brush on a tangle and hair can snap. Following this method, hair will eventually be fully detangled and you’ll be able to smoothly brush it from scalp to tip.

You’re brushing through dry curls.
If you’re curly haired, avoid brushing through dry curls. Opt for combs instead of brushes. Brushing curls can aggravate the hair cuticle and even break off the curls. Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to detangle strands when they’re wet.

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When It’s More Than Period Pain

08/09/2017 helen 0

Period cramps can be annoying, but if your period pain goes beyond a monthly annoyance and disrupts your life, there may be something else going on.

During a recent HealthyWomen survey, a shocking 42 percent of women diagnosed with endometriosis, a painful gynecologic disorder that affects 1 in 10 women and is often misdiagnosed, were told by their health care professionals that their pain was simply “part of being a woman.” 

We want to remind women that crippling pain is not part of being a woman and should not be ignored.

If you’re unsure how to measure your period pain level, here are some signs that the pain you’re experiencing is more than normalperiod pain and you need to see your health care provider. 

Meds don’t do the trick
For many women, popping some over-the-counter acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen offers relief. But period cramps may not be normal if OTC meds aren’t enough.

Cramps get in the way of living your daily life
If you must put your life on hold every month during your period, it’s time to speak to your health care provider. Period pain should not greatly interfere with your social, work or family life. 

You have low-grade, constant pain
Pain that is uncomfortable but not sharp or stabbing that occurs when you’re are
not on your period could be a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. It’s a bacterial infection usually spread by sex. If you have PID, your periods may be heavier or longer. Your health care provider can test and treat you for this curable condition. 

Your cramps last more than two to three days
Two to three days of menstrual discomfort is normal, but if you regularly have bad period cramps during your entire period, you should see your health care provider. 
 

You have sharp pain on your side
Intense pain on your side may be the sign of an ovarian torsion, which happens when an ovary becomes twisted. One cause is an ovarian cyst, according to the Mayo Clinic. An ovarian torsion could lead to loss of function in that ovary. So, it’s best to head to the emergency room. You’ll likely get some scans and may need minimally invasive surgery to untwist it. 

You have some worrisome symptoms along with your cramps
Irregular cycles, pain during sex, spotting between cycles, heavy bleeding, trouble getting pregnant, cramps accompanied by diarrhea or nausea in addition to intense pelvic pain should all warrant a trip to your health care provider.

You’re in such pain that you’re thinking of going to the hospital
Normal cramps shouldn’t be severe enough to go to the emergency room. Head there, though, if the pain is severely intense. It’s better to get checked out than to miss something that may be happening with your health.

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