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Tips for Healthy Weeknight Meal-Prepping

16/09/2019 helen 0

You’ve heard it time and time again. Make your meals on the weekends and you’ll save time and eat healthier during the week. Still, how many of you have actually done that? It’s doable, we promise. When you map out your meals, you’ll be more likely to …

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Awake in the Middle of the Night? Try These 6 Things

16/09/2019 helen 0

What to do when you’re awake in the middle of the night?

Call a friend!

Because chances are that that’s when the gremlin strikes them, as well. Middle-of-the-night waking is quite common, reported to affect about 35 percent of us. It’s no wonder there are a lot of people walking around dragging and sluggish. Even though you may have banked an 8-hour sleep, when you wake in the middle of the night, it messes big time with your sleep cycle, stealing valuable minutes of slumber.

Of course, calling a friend might not be the most helpful or practical answer to getting back to sleep (unless you find comfort in knowing that someone else is suffering, too). And getting into a conversation in the middle of the night will likely be stimulating, rather than relaxing.

You flip over and try a new sleeping position…worry that you forgot to turn off the stove… ruminate about the way your friend betrayed a confidence many years ago…stress about your upcoming colonoscopy.

Your over-wired brain is on over-drive.

How to calm down and get back to sleep? If you’ve already ruled out some obvious and real medical conditions for losing sleep—like arthritis, asthma, sleep apnea, chronic pain, endocrine or gastrointestinal problems—try these things instead: 

Stay put. Many pros suggest getting out of bed and going into another room. But that’s not effective for everyone.  When you get up, it’s likely you’re turning on some lights and moving around. Your brain takes a cue from the lights and thinks it’s time to wake up; your heart rate becomes elevated – all are counterintuitive to falling back to sleep. Instead, stay in bed and do the following things to facilitate sleep. 

If there’s light coming into the room, block it. When you’re trying to sleep, any outside light can be a real sleep-stealer. Make sure your window coverings are securely shut and that any LED lights (like those from cable boxes or clock radios) are blocked. A sleep mask works well to shield your eyes from light’s interference.

Calm your mind. Try deep breathing, meditation or other mindfulness exercises. A sleep app (I love the one I use, from Calm) can also help you meditate and get back into a relaxing state. Another thing to try: Keep a pad and pen at your bedside and write down any random thoughts or things you have to do the next day. The important thing is to distract your mind from rumination and turn your thoughts to tranquil and more pleasant ones.

Keep it cool. Sometimes a too-warm room can cause you to wake up. Optimal sleeping temperature is somewhere around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, say experts.

Block out noise. You may not need complete silence to sleep, but the surrounding sounds need to be somewhat toneless and flat. Think white noise, as in a sound machine or a fan.

Be mindful of when—and what—you drink. Cut off caffeine consumption after about 2PM, since it can stay in your system long after you’ve taken the last sip. And although alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, it impacts your deep sleep and messes with your REM cycle, which is when sleep is most restorative.

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CBD Is Touted for Pain Management—But Does It Work?

09/09/2019 helen 0

Dear HealthyWomen, As my mother always warned me that to get older is to feel some aches and pains. And I’m feeling them! My knees, my back, my.… And I’m finding lots of kinship among my middle-aged pals. I keep hearing that CBD helps relieve chronic p…

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Could Red Wine Boost Your Microbiome?

31/08/2019 helen 0

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A little pinot noir now and then might help keep the bacteria in your tummy healthy and happy, a new study suggests.READ: Alcohol and Sleep: What You Need to KnowAs little as one glass of red wine a week can…

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Pure CBD Won’t Make You Fail a Drug Test

09/08/2019 helen 0

HealthDay News

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — As the CBD craze sweeps the nation, some users may wonder whether the cannabis extract can make them fail a drug test. A preliminary study suggests the answer is “no” — at least if the CBD is pure.

READ: CBD for Women: What Are Women Using CBD For?

Researchers found that CBD, or cannabidiol, did not react with either of two commercially available tests used to screen for marijuana use. However, another cannabis compound — cannabinol (CBN) — did.

CBD and CBN are two of many chemicals found in cannabis plants. They differ from THC, the source of the marijuana “high.” CBD is present in marijuana but more abundant in hemp — cannabis plants that have little THC. CBN, meanwhile, is a THC derivative.

If you think CBD products are suddenly everywhere, you’re right: There has been an explosion since last year, when Congress lifted a decades-old ban on growing hemp.

Licensed farmers can now grow the plant, as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. The result? CBD is turning up in everything from oils and lotions to coffee and cookies.

CBD is promoted for easing anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, among other ailments. The jury is still out on those uses, but there is some science behind the compound. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug containing pure CBD — called Epidiolex — for treating certain rare, severe seizures.

CBN, meanwhile, is far less famous than its cousin, but it is used in products marketed as sleep aids.

Given that context, it’s important to understand how the compounds interact with drug screening tests, said Grace Kroner, lead researcher on the new study.

She and her colleagues at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City spiked three batches of urine samples with CBD, CBN and two other cannabis compounds — cannabichromene and cannabigerol.

The researchers tested each batch with two tests commonly used for THC screening. CBN reacted with one, while the other three compounds triggered no false-positives.

Why did only one test pick up CBN? The tests are known immunoassays — which means they use antibodies to detect drugs. Kroner explained that there are slight differences in the antibodies that test manufacturers use — so it’s possible to get different results.

While the findings may be a relief to some CBD users, there is a big caveat: The researchers used pure CBD. In the real world, CBD products are largely unregulated and may contain other compounds due to processing.

According to Robert Fitzgerald, a professor at the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, “It would depend on the purity of the product.”

On the positive side, he noted, immunoassays are only screening tests. They would be followed up by “confirmatory testing” that does distinguish THC from other compounds. But you could still have a problem if your cannabis product was contaminated with THC, Fitzgerald said.

Legally, Kroner noted, CBD products should only be produced from hemp plants with no more than 0.3% THC. But there’s no way for consumers to know for sure what’s in the products they buy.

A 2017 study found that about seven out of 10 CBD products did not contain the amount of cannabidiol stated on the label. And about one in five contained THC.

A false-positive on a drug test could have implications for people at work, and in their medical care. For example, some health care organizations do not allow patients to start opioid painkillers if they use marijuana.

It all points to the importance of taking “cross-reactivity” into account when a drug screening test comes back positive, Kroner said.

“Confirmatory testing should be done before any clinical decisions are made,” she said.

What should you do if you use any of these products and have a drug test coming up?

The simplest course is to refrain for a while, according to Kroner. But she also advised being up front about your CBD or CBN use — or any supplement use, for that matter — so that your test results can be interpreted in that light.

Kroner reported the findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry in Anaheim, Calif. Studies presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

SOURCES: Grace Kroner, Ph.D., fellow, clinical chemistry, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City; Robert Fitzgerald, Ph.D., professor, pathology, Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Diego; Aug. 5, 2019, presentation, American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting, Anaheim, Calif.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Hair Loss Is a Problem for Women, Too

02/08/2019 helen 0

HealthDay News

FRIDAY, Aug. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News)—The sad sight of a receding hairline is not limited to men, a dermatologist says.

Hair loss is just as common in women, and it can occur due to factors such as genetics and the hairstyles and hair products used by women.

It’s important to identify the cause of hair loss in women to treat it, said dermatologist Dr. Paradi Mirmirani.

“Making sure you have the right diagnosis is critical for successful treatment,” Mirmirani said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release. “However, to an untrained provider this can be tricky, as hair loss can have many causes.”

Female pattern hair loss is one type and features pronounced thinning on top. It’s primarily caused by genetics, certain hormones, age and menopause. Treatment options include topical or oral medications, hair transplants and camouflaging thinning areas.

Another type is marginal alopecia, which is hair loss along the edges of the hairline. One form of this is traction alopecia, which is caused by hairstyles that pull the hair tight, such as cornrows, weaves and tight ponytails or buns.

Hair transplants and medication such as minoxidil can help the hair grow back, but changing hairstyles is necessary to stop the hair loss, according to Mirmirani.

“Regardless of your lifestyle, if your hairstyle is causing you pain, it’s not good for your hair,” Mirmirani said. “If you need your hair pulled back, work with your hairdresser to find a style that doesn’t put pressure on your scalp.”

Learn More: 7 Foods for Healthy Hair

Overuse of heat or chemicals on your hair over a long time can also cause hair loss.

“For the most part, people can dye, perm or heat their hair with no ill effects, but chronic use or using more than one of these treatments at a time can lead to hair loss,” Mirmirani explained.

“No matter the type of hair loss you have, seek treatment as soon as you notice it,” she advised.

“I often see women who have delayed seeing a dermatologist because they didn’t realize their hair loss is caused by a medical issue or they didn’t think it’s treatable. However, it’s important for women to know that most cases of hair loss can be stopped or treated,” Mirmirani said.

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Coaxing Back Desire After Menopause

27/07/2019 helen 0

In my practice, I hear my patients talk about a wide range of menopause-related struggles. Some of the stories I find most affecting are the ones related to loss of desire, which about half of women over age 40 experience. The women are just so sad—and…

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Health Choices Women Should Make by Age 50

20/07/2019 helen 0

Your milestone birthday—the half-century mark—is fast approaching. If you’ve been paying attention to your health, then this big birthday shouldn’t be a big deal.But don’t worry if you’ve put your health by the wayside at times. We’ve all slipped up a …

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Health Choices Women Should Make by Age 50

13/07/2019 helen 0

Your milestone birthday—the half-century mark—is fast approaching. If you’ve been paying attention to your health, then this big birthday shouldn’t be a big deal.But don’t worry if you’ve put your health by the wayside at times. We’ve all slipped up a …

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Eating Disorders in Midlife

28/06/2019 helen 0

We don’t typically think of perimenopausal women when we talk about eating disorders, but middle age can be a high-risk time for developing one. More than one in 10 women over the age of 50 engage in eating disorder behaviors, according to the National…

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What to Know About Vaginal Dryness

14/06/2019 helen 0

From Women’s Health FoundationAlthough vaginal dryness can happen at any age, it is common during or after menopause. Vaginal walls are coated with a thin layer of moisture. As estrogen levels decline during menopause, the amount of moisture drops and …

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How Much Coffee Is Too Much?

01/06/2019 helen 0

FRIDAY, May 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From cappuccinos to cold brew, coffee is a morning must for many Americans, but is it healthy and how much is too much?READ: How Much Coffee Is Too Much?A University of South Australia study suggests a couple of…

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It’s Bladder Cancer Awareness Month: My Story, Chapter Two

27/05/2019 helen 0

Last May, during Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, I shared my personal story with the disease. I was so thankful that my tumor was found to be noninvasive and, with surgery, was eliminated from my body. No additional treatment was needed except for quarterly scopes.

I knew that bladder cancer has a 50 percent to 80 percent chance of return. Each time I went for my bladder scope at the urologist’s office between 2018 and 2019, I faced my fears. Would Dr. F find another tumor? If he did find another tumor, would it be noninvasive? Or, on the positive side, would my bladder be forever cancer-free?

 

Orange ribbons are the symbol of bladder cancer. Photo courtesy of BCAN.org.

Chapter two in my bladder cancer story

In December, I was joyful when I reached the one-year milestone with no new tumors.

Sadly, in March, I wasn’t as lucky.

“There’s another small lesion,” said Dr. F as he took the cystoscope out of my bladder. I was numb—not physically but emotionally. How could I have cancer when I’m feeling fine?  There were no symptoms—no urinary tract infections, no blood, no frequency.

Learn more about Signs You May Have a Bladder Issue.

“That’s why it’s important to have your scopes every three months, so we can hopefully catch things before they advance,” said Dr. F.

At the end of March, I had my second bladder surgery. The tumor was removed, and I awaited the results. Dealing with bladder cancer (or any kind of cancer) is scary. I was really scared.

“The cancer was noninvasive. It’s a different kind of tumor than the first one,” said Dr. F as he reviewed the biopsy report. My first tumor was a noninvasive papillary tumor that grows out from the surface. The second tumor was carcinoma in situ, also known as Tis (CIS), a noninvasive flat tumor. 

“When cancer returns like this, we recommend six weeks of BCG treatments,” advised Dr. F. 

I was glad that the cancer was noninvasive. However, this second cancer diagnosis felt like an empty pit in my stomach—or should I say in my bladder. Why couldn’t I be among the percentage where it never comes back? Why did there need to be a chapter two in my cancer story?

More men are diagnosed with bladder cancer than women. Stats from BCAN.org.

Preparing for my weekly BCG treatments

Two weeks after surgery, I began my BCG treatments. According to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), which is a great resource for those with the disease, “Bacille Calmette-Guerin or BCG is an intravesical immunotherapy treatment that causes an immune or allergic reaction in the bladder. It has been shown to kill cancer cells on the lining of the bladder. It is often preferred for patients who have high grade tumors or who have CIS [like what I had], to reduce the risk of recurrence.

“BCG is a chemically weakened form of tuberculosis material. It works because the bacteria create an immune response in the bladder. Because the bacteria are weakened, there is very little risk of infection from the bacteria.”

For the past four weeks, I have had BCG put directly into my bladder each Tuesday. It is not a painful procedure. Once the procedure is complete, I am sent home to baste my bladder with the BCG inside for two hours without voiding. 

“Recline and turn the body every 15 minutes so the bladder is fully covered with BCG,” said Dr. F. “If you can, also put your legs up the wall at some point so the BCG reaches the upper bladder where your tumor was located.” 

Can I put my legs up the wall? That’s a yoga pose! Can I turn every 15 minutes? Absolutely!  On goes the iPhone timer, chiming when it’s time for me to turn. Left side, belly down, right side, on my back. Then the legs go up the wall. All good—my bladder is basting as it should for 120 minutes.

Ooh, ah, ooh, ah! Time to let it all out. For the next six hours I am required to add two cups of bleach to the toilet and let it sit for 15 minutes each time I relieve myself. This helps prevent any BCG contamination, since it is a form of TB. I take this step very seriously. I have bottles of bleach, bleach wipes, a huge box of disposable gloves, antiseptic hand wipes. (Do you think this type A person is going to let one drop of BCG escape? No, no, no!) 

The signs and symptoms of bladder cancer. (BCAN.org)

Healing my body, my mind, and my spirit

As I head into the last two weeks of BCG treatments, I am pleased to say that I haven’t experienced any significant side effects to date. Yes, I’m tired the day of the treatment and the day after. And I do have some frequency issues from the bladder being irritated. Overall, it’s been good so far. Plus, I feel blessed that I am able to get these BCG treatments, especially after hearing that the drug is in short supply and not readily available. 

While my body is healing, my mind needs to mend, too. With my daily yoga classes and teaching on hold (except for restorative yoga) during these weeks of treatment, my mind has tended to wander. Sometimes it wanders down the rabbit hole—fearing a future with cancer. Sometimes it wanders into the past—didn’t I have enough with the loss of my spouse 10 years ago? 

Then through mindfulness and coaching from my BFFs, I bring my spirit back into the present, into the here and now where it should be, celebrating every moment and being appreciative for all I have and all I can do each day.

Listening to inspiring podcasts 

I’ve had opportunities to listen to some inspiring podcasts as I relax and slow down. One of my favorites was Oprah’s Master Class (go to iTunes to listen) with the actor Jeff Bridges. Jeff says: “Life has ups and downs, and it’s all about the journey. Strikes and gutters. [Jeff is referring to bowling.] Highs and lows—that’s all life is.” I’m grateful that I’ve had many strikes through the years, especially during my life after 50. Cancer is just one of the gutters. I need to get that ball out of the gutter and get ready for my next strike.

Another Master Class podcast I liked was with broadcast journalist Robin Roberts. “This too shall pass,” Robin would tell herself as she battled through breast cancer, MDS blood disorder and a stem cell transplant. Today, Robin is well and leaving Good Morning America to pursue a beauty venture. You’re right, Robin. I feel that way about my bladder cancer: “This too shall pass.”

This post originally appeared on aboomerslifeafter50.com.

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Medical Reasons Why You’re Cranky

18/05/2019 helen 0

A bad day at work. A poor grade on an exam. A fender bender. Yes, bad moods can happen for many reasons and happen to all of us. 

But your crankiness may have nothing to do with what’s going on in your life. Certain physical, mental and emotional issues may be associated with your crankiness. Below are some possible reasons behind what may be causing your bumpy ride.

And remember that if your crankiness is frequent and serious, speak with your health care professional. You can discuss possible reasons and find out if you have a medical condition behind your bad mood. Then, you can get appropriate treatment.

You drink too much caffeine.
Put down that fourth cup of coffee. Caffeine can cause anxiety. It stimulates the brain, causing addiction to caffeine. When that happens, you can experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, headaches and moodiness when you don’t have enough. Learn about signs you’re drinking too much caffeine.

You’re not eating enough.
When your blood-sugar levels are too low, you might feel irritable, sluggish and have difficulty concentrating. Eat healthy snacks to prevent low-blood sugar.

You’re eating poorly.
You may be full from those two slices of pizza and bowl of rocky road. But diets rich in trans and saturated fats have been linked to depression. Aim to eat nutritious foods that will help you feel energized and full throughout the day. Avoid processed and sugary fare that zaps your energy.

Your hormones are raging.
If you’re always cranky around the same time each month, your hormones may be to blame. Your ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. A week before your period, your progesterone levels are at their peak. Then they suddenly drop, causing your crankiness.

You’re exercising too much.
Too much exercise without recovery time can lead to a cranky mood. That’s especially the case if you don’t eat right after a workout. Overtraining can increase your stress hormone (cortisol) levels. That impacts your mood, sleep, hormones, appetite and more. Be sure to leave time to recover after a workout.

You’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is crucial to mood regulation. Sleep deprivation can impact you in many ways, including increasing crankiness. It affects your hormones and brain chemicals. So, your ability to figure out what’s important and what’s not is compromised. That means you get upset about stupid and small issues. And if you rely on sugar and caffeine to help you deal with your sleep deprivation, you’ll be even more anxious. Find out about common sleep disorders.

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So, This Is Why We Can’t Let Go of Our Cell Phones

11/05/2019 helen 0

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how harmful our phones can be to our health. And these articles aren’t referring to the long-debated concerns about radiofrequency radiation and cancer risk.

No, this time they’re suggesting a different animal. There’s an increasing body of evidence that suggests the time spent on our smartphones interferes with everything from sleep to self-esteem.

And some suggest that putting down your phone may just help you live longer.

We all have a phone. And we all want to live longer. The problem is, we can’t all put down our phones.

Lately, every time I look at my phone I get near-palpitations. My inbox has crossed the (gulp) 10,000 mark. Crazy, I know. How did that happen??? I delete whenever I can, but the pace of my inbox outpaces my finger’s ability.

I feel like that frustrated contestant on Jeopardy who knows the answer but is unable to ring in.

It’s funny. I never thought I had an addictive personality, but there are two things that put me in that category: my iPhone and slot machines.

If they sound desperate, they’re not. Turns out that they both work on the same reward system in our brains.

One of the main players is cortisol, the body’s chief stress hormone. The constant (almost helpless) “need” to use our phones, check our phones, respond to our phones is mighty stressful—which in turn, makes cortisol surge.

Cortisol is that infamous “fight or flight” hormone, the one that is released when we perceive danger and/or threats. It prepares your body to react to those threats, all in the name of survival. (Picture the feeling you get when you’re out walking and suddenly a snarling, angry-looking foaming-at-the-mouth dog begins to chase you and nip at your heels. That’s a big surge of cortisol.)

So, what’s the problem? Cortisol is pretty powerful: it increases sugars (glucose) in our bloodstream and alters immune system responses. It also suppresses our digestive and reproductive system and growth processes.

Once the perceived threat is over, our hormone levels even out. But, if we are constantly feeling under attack, the levels stay elevated.

The solution may seem obvious: Step away from your phone.

But the reality makes it difficult. As we all know, it’s so tough to break that addiction. That’s because there’s another substance at play: dopamine, the brain chemical that, when triggered, causes habits and addictions, like picking up your phone and checking it constantly (and that infamous one, getting hooked on slot machines—ah, hence the connection). That jittery feeling you get whenever you are near your phone and merely think about checking it? It’s real. That twitchy feeling that overcomes you if you—heaven forbid—leave your cell phone home (or worse yet, misplace or lose it)? It is real body chemicals at work.

Just think how free and unencumbered we could feel without the pressure of our phones—which, by some estimates, we look at 221 times each day and touch over 2,000 times each day.

Read: The Tech Time Bomb: Will We Forget How to Talk and Listen? 

If this makes me sound old, so be it: I think back, with longing, to the days when cell phones never existed.

How did we ever do it? We did. It allowed us to slow down and relax  (I’ll have to wait until I get home to listen to the news); imagine and reflect (I wonder how that bird built that nest? Until I can look it up, I’m going to try to figure it out).

Free of our phones, we could fully immerse ourselves in what we were doing without becoming distracted; experience the anticipation of calling our friend and having them pick up the phone, then settling in for a long catch-up conversation; end the day peacefully without feeling like we had barely begun. There was a happy sense of detachment and mystery, with time to get into our own head and ponder the possibilities; time to consider, question and analyze the endless options.

Don’t get me wrong—I do enjoy my phone and all the things it can do. I just wish I could enjoy it … less.

When I was a teenager, my father used to chide me and tell me I was addicted to my phone. “It’s glued to your ear,” he’d say, “and besides, didn’t you just spend the whole day with that friend?”

These days that addiction, while typical, is no longer cute or harmless.

Evolution has grown us another appendage that is demanding of our time and attention—but even extra appendages deserve a rest. 

Psst … Here’s how I managed to put down my cell phone for a few weeks.   

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net. 

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