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Do blind people have better hearing?

<p>The sensation of sound occurs when the vibrations from sounds enter our ear and cause little hairlike structures – called hair cells – within our inner ear to move back and forth. The hair cells transform this movement into an electrical signal that the brain can use.</p> <p>How well a person can hear largely depends on how intact these hair cells are. Once lost, they don’t grow back – and this is no different for blind people. So blind people can’t physically hear better than others.</p> <p>Yet blind people often outperform sighted people in hearing tasks such as <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378595515300174">locating the source of sounds</a>. The reason for this emerges when we look beyond the sensory organs, at what is happening with the brain, and how the sensory information is processed by it.</p> <p>Perception occurs when the brain interprets signals that our sensory organs provide, and different parts of the brain respond to the information arriving from different sensory organs. There are areas that process visual information (the visual cortex) and areas that process sound information (the auditory cortex). But when a sense like vision is lost, the brain does something remarkable: it <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898172/">reorganises the functions of these brain areas</a>.</p> <p>In blind people, the visual cortex gets a bit “bored” without visual input and starts to “rewire” itself, becoming more responsive to information from the other remaining senses. So blind people may have lost their vision, but this leaves a larger brain capacity for processing the information from other senses.</p> <p>The extent of reorganisation in the brain depends on when someone loses their sight. The <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898172/">brain can reorganise itself at any point in life</a>, including adulthood, but during childhood the brain is more able to adapt to change. This is because during childhood the brain is still developing and the new organisation of the brain does not have to compete with an existing one. As a result, people who have been blind from a very early age show a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898172/">much greater level of reorganisation in the brain</a>.</p> <p>People who become blind early in life tend to outperform sighted people, as well as those who became blind later in life, in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/430309a">hearing</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982203009849">touch</a> perceptual tasks.</p> <p><strong>Echolocation</strong></p> <p>The reorganisation in the brain also means that blind people are sometimes able to learn how to use their remaining senses in interesting ways. For example, some blind people learn to sense the location and size of objects around them using <a href="https://community.dur.ac.uk/lore.thaler/thaler_goodale_echo_review2016.pdf">echolocation</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2IKT2akh0Ng?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>By producing clicks with their mouths and listening for the echoes, blind people can locate objects in their surroundings. This ability is tightly linked with the <a href="https://community.dur.ac.uk/lore.thaler/thaler_goodale_echo_review2016.pdf">brain activity in the visual cortex</a>. In fact, the visual cortex in blind echolocators responds to sound information in almost the same way as it does to visual information in the sighted. In other words, in blind echolocators, hearing has replaced vision in the brain to a very large extent.</p> <p>But not every blind person is automatically an expert echolocator. Whether a blind person is able to develop a skill like echolocation depends on the time spent learning this task – <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378595514000185">even sighted people can learn this skill with enough training</a>, but blind people will probably benefit from their reorganised brain being more tuned towards the remaining senses.</p> <p>Blind people will also rely more on their remaining senses to do everyday tasks, which means that they train their remaining senses on a daily basis. The reorganised brain together with the greater experience in using their remaining senses are believed to be important factors in blind people having an edge over sighted people in hearing and touch.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/102282/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/loes-van-dam-543699">Loes van Dam</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-essex-1291">University of Essex</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-blind-people-have-better-hearing-102282">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why your risks of breast cancer increase as the oceans rise

<p>It is encouraging to see greater attention in the media to the issue of climate change and its effects on the life-support systems of the planet. The link between breast cancer and the environment, however, is being overlooked.</p> <p>Premenopausal women exposed to high levels of air pollution have a 30 per cent increased risk for breast cancer, according to <a href="https://journals.lww.com/environepidem/Fulltext/2018/09000/Residential_exposure_to_fine_particulate_matter.2.aspx">a paper in <em>Environmental Epidemiology</em></a> published by Paul Villeneuve, a professor of occupational and environmental health at Carleton University, and his research team last year.</p> <p>This should trigger a wake-up call given that we tend to think of breast cancer as a disease of aging women.</p> <p>In fact, the science of breast cancer tells us that “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/107735209799449761">genetic susceptibility makes only a small to moderate contribution</a>” to breast cancer. The known risk factors — such as family history, age, gender, ethnicity and hormones — account for <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129067">only around three in 10 cases</a>.</p> <p>The other 70 per cent are likely related mostly to environment — including the air, water and soil, the places we live and work in and the products we consume — according to current research.</p> <p>In Canada, <a href="http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/statistics/?region=on">over 26,300 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017</a> so that 70 per cent represents a lot of women.</p> <p><strong>Carcinogens in the workplace</strong></p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-11-87">Our work environments</a> are part of this story.</p> <p>A paper published last November in <em>New Solutions Journal</em> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1048291118810900">points to workplace exposures as the cause for one woman’s breast cancer</a>.</p> <p>Using the evidence presented at a worker’s compensation hearing, Michael Gilbertson, a former federal government biologist who studied the health effects of toxic chemicals, and Jim Brophy, an occupational health researcher, found that they could infer a causal relationship between the woman’s diagnosis of breast cancer and her high exposure to air pollution — as a border guard at the bridge connecting Windsor, Ont. to Detroit, Mich.</p> <p>Despite the scientific evidence highlighting environmental factors and the important role they likely play in contributing to breast cancer, the woman at the bridge was denied compensation.</p> <p>She was denied even though breast cancers were occurring in this region at a rate up to 16 times higher than the rest of the county, and in an environment with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.22653">pollutants containing known breast carcinogens</a> such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.</p> <p>It is not surprising, given that environment is regularly ignored when we talk about breast cancer.</p> <p><strong>A disease of our communities</strong></p> <p>When researchers study what women know about breast cancer they find a focus on cures, detection and treatments. What’s often missing from their list is prevention, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2010.496836">prevention is often confused with early detection</a>.</p> <p>Primary prevention means stopping cancer before it starts — not finding it and treating it early, although that too is important. Women’s knowledge of breast cancer is importantly <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.00274">connected to media and medical practitioner’s messages</a>.</p> <p>Forecasts of the future of cancer tell us that <a href="https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cancer/canadian-cancer-statistics.html">one in two Canadians</a> will likely be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Projections show rising rates of many cancers, including breast cancer.</p> <p>Dr. Ted Schettler, who wrote <a href="https://www.healthandenvironment.org/docs/EcologyOfBreastCancer_Schettler.pdf"><em>The Ecology of Breast Cancer</em></a> argues:</p> <blockquote> <p>“breast cancer is not only a disease of abnormal cells, but also of communities we create and live in.”</p> </blockquote> <p>If we apply his argument, it means we can create conditions for fewer future breast cancers. The question then becomes how?</p> <p><strong>We cannot blame women</strong></p> <p>To start, we need to make prevention at least as much a priority as early detection, better treatments and the search for cures. We also have to take a good look at all suspected causes.</p> <p>Conversations about prevention often stir debate about what is to blame for the breast cancer rates we are seeing. But an aging population of women who make bad lifestyle choices doesn’t explain increases in breast cancers in more and younger women.</p> <p>It doesn’t explain why women who migrate from countries with lower rates of breast cancer develop the same rates within 10 years of living in their new homes. It also doesn’t explain the clusters of breast cancers in regions with high levels of air pollution containing definitive breast carcinogens.</p> <p>We need confidence in what the science is already showing us about the role of <a href="https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-017-0287-4#Sec49">environmental and workplace hazards</a> in breast cancer causation.</p> <p>Indeed, the evidence points to <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/ssi-ete101017.php">associations between numerous environmental pollutants</a> and an increased risk for breast cancer — <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17503434">including pesticides, herbicides, synthetic chemicals, endocrine disrupting chemicals and vehicle emissions</a>. <a href="https://journals.lww.com/joem/Abstract/2011/05000/Breast_Cancer_Risk_Associated_With_Residential.10.aspx">Living and working in proximity to these exposures</a>, especially during vulnerable windows of development, is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240618/">putting women</a> at <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129067">high risk</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-11-87">Some occupations</a>, including radiology, pharmacy, health care, hairdressing, working with plastics, manufacturing, agriculture, working as airline crew and firefighting, also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1048291118758460">carry a higher risk</a>. These <a href="https://d124kohvtzl951.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/02025357/Report_Working-Women-and-Breast-Cancer_August_2015.pdf">occupational sectors employ thousands of thousands of women</a> worldwide.</p> <p>We need greater awareness and extended programmes that focus on these environmental and workplace causes. And we need to create and enforce policies and put regulations in place that prevent such exposures.</p> <p><strong>The climate change link</strong></p> <p>The women in Paul Villeneuve’s study are not unlike the female border guard. These cases are all linked to high levels of air pollution. Their stories are those of countless other women who face exposures to breast carcinogens in many Canadian urban environments and workplaces with high levels of traffic and industrial pollution.</p> <p>We also have evidence that these exposures are increasing, as our climate is changing. This link is complex, as is so much about cancer generally. Air pollution is <a href="https://www.who.int/sustainable-development/AirPollution_Climate_Health_Factsheet.pdf">one of the many causes of climate change</a> as well as <a href="https://journals.lww.com/environepidem/Fulltext/2018/09000/Residential_exposure_to_fine_particulate_matter.2.aspx">breast cancer</a>.</p> <p>It is also believed that increased ambient air temperatures may change the effects of chemical contaminants on humans and that increased precipitation and flooding will <a href="https://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/etc.2046">move contaminants to places where greater exposure by humans is possible</a>.</p> <p>Finally, as the incidence of fires increase with climate change, exposures to chemicals associated with the development of breast cancer often found in fires also increase. Studies are now investigating <a href="http://womenfirefighterstudy.com/about/">possible elevated incidence of breast cancer among women firefighters</a>. They are clearly a highly exposed group and may be just one example of women bearing an elevated breast cancer risk.</p> <p><strong>Prevention a priority</strong></p> <p>At this important moment in history, as we debate the poor state of the environment and the adverse outcomes associated with it, we have the opportunity to make prevention of the many diseases — including breast cancer — a priority.</p> <p>Many stories report on the numerous health problems connected to climate change including other cancers, cardiovascular disease, fertility problems, asthma, adverse birth outcomes, disabilities, diabetes and stroke. And yet, despite increasing evidence of an association between breast cancer and environmental exposures, the media does not cover this piece of the story.</p> <p>We must do the work now to create a future where we won’t have to surrender our good health to unregulated exposure to known and suspected breast carcinogens. Instead we must <a href="https://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/ADVISORY/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf">implement the precautionary principle</a> — in our communities, our workplaces and across our planet.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/108420/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jane-e-mcarthur-613732">Jane E. McArthur</a>, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-windsor-3044">University of Windsor</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/as-the-oceans-rise-so-do-your-risks-of-breast-cancer-108420">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why we think a better body will be a better self

<p>Is a better body a better self? Is a perfect body our best self? In the visual culture we inhabit we increasingly believe that a better body will lead to a better life, one where we are happier, have a better job, a better partner, and things go well for us.</p> <p>Think about the New Year’s resolutions we make, the majority of them are about the body – to exercise more, to change our diet, or straightforwardly to lose weight. While exercise might be undertaken <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-weight-loss-is-your-only-goal-for-exercise-its-time-to-rethink-your-priorities-120083">under the guise of health</a>, it’s often for beauty, and as beauty becomes the dominant value we, at times, risk our health for it.</p> <p>Thinking that we are our bodies is transformative, it overturns how we understand human beings. We used to think that to be better we had to change what was on the inside – to have a better character, be kinder, be a better mother or friend. In <a href="https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691160078/perfect-me*">my research</a>, I’ve found that we now increasingly judge ourselves and others on looks. We think that the inside will follow the outside.</p> <p>In the social media world, what matters is looking like the perfect mother rather than being the perfect mother. In a visual and virtual culture to succeed we have to look like we succeed, and make the grade when it comes to our appearance: to be thin, firm, smooth and young enough. And then, miraculously, all the rest will come to us. This is a dramatic change in what we value and what matters to us.</p> <p><strong>Surgical fixes</strong></p> <p>As our bodies have become ourselves, we are also then under pressure to “fix” them in order to fix ourselves. It’s no surprise in this context that we think changing our bodies is something we have a duty to do. Bodywork, from hair removal and constant diet and exercise to cosmetic surgery, is something we obsess about and focus our lives around.</p> <p>Many of us want to change our bodies because we feel like we are not good enough as we are. While cosmetic surgery is still a minority activity it is growing. More and more of us are going under the knife, as well as engaging in very many more beauty practices.</p> <p>This is a global trend. In 2018, more than <a href="https://baaps.org.uk/about/news/1708/cosmetic_surgery_stats_number_of_surgeries_remains_stable_amid_calls_for_greater_regulation_of_quick_fix_solutions">28,000 procedures</a> took place in the UK. In the US, the number was close to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324693.php#1">18 million</a>. While in South Korea, which boasts the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6005311/">highest number of procedures per capita</a> worldwide, there were a million.</p> <p><strong>Televised ‘routine’ procedures</strong></p> <p>That cosmetic surgery is becoming normal is reflected in the TV shows we watch. Increasingly, they present cosmetic surgery not as unusual or an “extreme makeover” but routine and aspirational. <a href="https://www.channel4.com/press/news/caroline-flack-present-surjury-wt-channel-4#:%7E:targetText=Caroline%20Flack%20is%20to%20present,they've%20always%20dreamed%20of.">Channel 4’s Surjury</a> clearly buys the claim that our bodies are ourselves, and that if we fix our body we’ll fix ourselves.</p> <p>In attracting participants, the show promises to “make your surgical dreams come true”. The format involves contestants pitching their stories to a jury of strangers (and you can apply to be on the jury too) who decide which lucky contestant will have the surgery they desire.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VZnAetkE4Sw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/p07sltv0/plastic-surgery-undressed">BBC’s Plastic Surgery Undressed</a> is less sensationalist and doesn’t pay for surgery. Instead, it takes four people considering a procedure and gives them the opportunity to learn as much about the surgery as possible, including watching one being performed by a leading surgeon.</p> <p>The show is pitched as a response <a href="https://aestheticsjournal.com/news/almost-half-of-millennials-compare-aesthetic-treatment-to-a-haircut">to a poll the BBC conducted</a> of 1,033 UK women aged between 18 and 30. The results found that 48% of respondents believed that having a cosmetic procedure is like having a haircut and that 66% indicated that they had either had a cosmetic procedure, or would consider one.</p> <p>While the show strives to educate it also normalises procedures that can raise real risks. For example, bum enhancement surgery, also known as “Brazilian butt lifts”, have seen an increase in demand but are wildly dangerous. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has warned surgeons <a href="https://baaps.org.uk/media/press_releases/1630/the_bottom_line">against performing the surgery</a> until more is known and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has dubbed it the <a href="https://theconversation.com/brazilian-butt-lifts-are-the-deadliest-of-all-aesthetic-procedures-the-risks-explained-101559">most dangerous</a> form of plastic surgery – with a <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/woman-who-died-during-butt-enhancement-surgery-allegedly-rushed-hospital-staff-inquest-told-1473386">mortality</a> rate of <a href="https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/01/31/plastic-surgery-brazilian-butt-lifts-florida-death-column/2374585002/">1 in 3,000</a>.</p> <p><strong>The modified norm</strong></p> <p>As more people have surgery, the more normal it is, and the more people opt for it, in turn, the more normal it becomes, and so on. It might not be very long in the future when it will be normal to have surgery and abnormal not to. We can see this in other beauty practices. Body hair, for example. We have reached the stage where we now believe that a normal, and even natural, body is one that is hairless. In 2018, there was an increase in hair removal with 70% of adults removing hair from their bodies compared with 64% in 2016, according to <a href="https://store.mintel.com/uk-shaving-and-hair-removal-market-report?_ga=2.239483395.1630422344.1574349413-1107517240.1572104721">research by Mintel</a>.</p> <p>As the modified body becomes the normal body, we will spend more and more time trying to fix them - shaping, cutting, moulding and toning ourselves into our “perfect” body. A body that doesn’t and cannot exist. We all age, sag, wrinkle and die, and even those who fit the ideal will still feel they don’t measure up.</p> <p>As the practice of surgery becomes more prevalent, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986110/">more surgeons are being confronted</a> with patients who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It is believed that <a href="https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/the-risks-of-cosmetic-surgery-for-body-dysmorphic-disorder-patients">15% of people</a> seeking plastic surgery have it and fewer than 10% of BDD patients will be satisfied with the results. Instead, it is likely that their anxieties will focus upon another aspect of their appearance.</p> <p>The type of beauty ideals we aspire to cannot be achieved. No one can have perfectly smooth, pore-free, blemish-free, wrinkle-free skin. This only exists in the virtual world of make up, filters, apps and airbrushing. We all know that even celebs and influencers don’t look like their enhanced and modified images.</p> <p>While we know this, it does little to turn the rising tide of body image anxiety, shame and feelings of failure. To change this we need to focus less on what individual women do and don’t do, and instead focus on changing the culture. One way of doing this is to take the pressures to be perfect seriously and recognise how much our bodies matter in a visual and virtual culture. If our bodies are ourselves then body shaming is never OK. To begin to end this we can call out <a href="https://everydaylookism.bham.ac.uk/">lookism</a>, prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s appearance, and push back.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127269/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heather-widdows-129539">Heather Widdows</a>, John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-year-new-you-why-we-think-a-better-body-will-be-a-better-self-127269">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Greek yoghurt vs ‘regular’ yoghurt: Which one is healthier?

<p>Once a rare option, Greek yoghurt has become as popular as its regular counterpart today. Fans praise Greek yoghurt as not only the tastier of two, but also the healthier alternative. But what does science say about this claim?</p> <p>While both yoghurts are made of the same ingredients – milk and live cultures – Greek yoghurt is strained more extensively to remove most of whey liquid, lactose and sugar, creating a thicker, more concentrated product.</p> <p>Because of this, Greek yoghurt can have up to twice as much protein as the regular version while cutting the sugar and sodium content by half. The removal of whey liquid also means that the sweet aftertaste is taken out, giving the yoghurt a stronger, tangier flavour.</p> <p>“For someone who wants the creamier texture, a little bit of a protein edge and a sugar decrease, going Greek is definitely not all hype,” registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner told <span><a href="https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/greek-yogurt-vs-regular-yogurt-which-is-more-healthful"><em>US News</em></a></span>.</p> <p>However, Greek yoghurt packs more in the fat department. According to dietitian Carol Aguirre of Nutrition Connections, a serving size of Greek yoghurt can have <span><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/whats-the-big-deal-about-greek-yogurt-2018-11?r=US&amp;IR=T">10 grams of fat with 7 grams of it being saturated fat</a></span>, while regular yoghurt contains 8 grams of fat with 5 grams saturated.</p> <p>Regular yoghurt also has higher levels of calcium, minerals and probiotics thanks to the less strenuous straining process.</p> <p>Both yoghurts can be a great addition to your diet – but the one to put in your shopping cart depends on your dietary and taste preferences.</p>

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What you should know about your colon

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of us don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about our colons… at least not until our doctors mention that dreaded first colonoscopy! Well, it turns out our colons deserve a lot more attention. The health of your colon actually plays a huge part in your overall health… from your moods to your weight and everything in between!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You may have noticed that the colon and gut have been a hot topic in the medical community recently. Science has even come up with a new buzz word to describe the microorganisms that live there. They’re referring to them as your microbiome, and it’s basically a jungle of bacteria that live in your colon. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than 100 trillion microorganisms living in your gut, and most of these tiny critters aren’t just hitching a ride. They actually have important jobs to do! Over the past few years, science has been exploring exactly how the bacteria in your colon affect your health, and here’s what they’ve discovered.</span></p> <p><strong>Understanding the purpose of your colon</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The colon is actually your large intestine. It helps the body absorb nutrients and water, as well as eliminate waste. The colon is part of the digestive system, which includes your small intestine, esophagus, stomach, and mouth. Each part of this complex system has its own job to do in the process of digesting and absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The colon is basically a five to six-foot-long tube that is curled up inside of your abdomen, running from the small intestine to the rectum. The muscles in the digestive system contract when you eat, moving food through the small intestine where nutrients and calories are absorbed. The waste material that’s leftover ends up in your colon, mostly in liquid form. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The colon removes the moisture from the waste material and balances pH and electrolytes. The microorganisms in your colon support the digestive process, assist in absorbing nutrients, and protect the body from harmful bacteria. It takes about 36 hours for food to travel from your stomach to the rectum.</span></p> <p><strong>How your colon affects your overall health</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stress, eating too many processed foods, lack of proper sleep, taking antibiotics, and other aspects of our modern lifestyle can damage the beneficial bacteria in our colons, allowing harmful bacteria to grow unchecked. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have an overabundance of harmful bacteria in your gut, it can lead to many chronic conditions throughout the body, including:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chronic inflammation</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Joint pain and arthritis</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Heart disease</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Obesity</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Diabetes</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acne and other skin conditions</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Digestive problems</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mood swings, depression, and anxiety</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Headaches and migraines</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Insomnia and lack of energy</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brain fog</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hormonal imbalances</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/what-are-common-symptoms-of-autoimmune-disease"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Autoimmune disorders</span></a></li> </ul> <p><strong>Signs of an unhealthy colon</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Usually, the first indicators of an unhealthy colon are digestive issues like diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, gas, and constipation. An unhealthy gut can also lead to food sensitivities and food allergies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You may also notice unexplained changes in your weight because your body can’t absorb nutrients or regulate blood sugar efficiently. Some people also experience sleep issues because serotonin (the hormone that regulates sleep) is produced in the colon. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Skin conditions such as eczema and acne can also be caused by a damaged gut. The gut also plays a key role in the health of the immune system. Those with an unhealthy gut often get sick easily or experience autoimmune problems.</span></p> <p><strong>How to improve your gut health</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are several things you can do to support the beneficial bacteria in your gut. The functional medicine experts at Rahav Wellness recommend </span><a href="https://rahavwellness.com/colonics/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">colon hydrotherapy</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> as a safe way to remove harmful bacteria and waste that can build up in the colon over time. It’s also the most effective way to give your gut a complete reset.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Learning how to manage your stress levels is also important. Yoga, meditation, exercise, acupuncture, and massage are all great ways to keep stress in check. Getting plenty of sleep is also essential. Chew your food thoroughly and eat mindfully to improve digestion.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Staying well-hydrated is also crucial because it supports the mucosal lining of the colon. Probiotics are also important for replenishing the beneficial bacteria in your gut. You should eat probiotic foods every day or take a daily probiotic supplement to keep your gut healthy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Getting checked for </span><a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263965.php"><span style="font-weight: 400;">food intolerances</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is also a good idea. If you continue to eat foods that you have sensitivities to, it will only contribute to inflammation and digestive issues. Cutting back or eliminating sugar, processed food, and unhealthy fats will also support your microbiome.</span></p> <p><strong>Foods that support colon health</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are also certain foods that will support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon. These include high fiber foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Garlic and onions may also be beneficial because they support the immune system.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fermented foods lie yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi are great food sources of probiotics. Foods that are rich in collagen, such as bone broth, may also support a healthy gut.</span></p> <p><strong>Final thoughts</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although the colon and digestive system are a bit complex, keeping them healthy is pretty simple. Making a few healthy adjustments to your diet will help your colon do its job and keep your immune system strong. Committing to these lifestyle changes will have a positive effect on your overall health as a result.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Donna Maurer.</span></em></p>

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Rebel Wilson stuns fans with incredible weight loss transformation

<p>Australian actress Rebel Wilson has promised to make 2020 “The Year of Health” – and it seems that she’s already raking in the benefits of her healthier lifestyle.</p> <p>The 39-year-old took to Instagram to let her followers know that she will attempt to “avoid sugar and junk food” after heavily indulging this past holiday season.</p> <p>She also posted a photograph of her out for a walk on a beach in her activewear – and fans were quick to heap praise on the star’s visible weight loss.</p> <p>“I’m so proud of you!! You look fantastic already with your weight loss,” one said.</p> <p>“You look great, you look absolutely beautiful beforehand and still now. Such a role model,” another agreed.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6z53A8peHH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6z53A8peHH/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Okay so for me 2020 is going to be called “The Year of Health” - so I put on the athleisure and went out for a walk, deliberately hydrating on the couch right now and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food which is going to be hard after the holidays I’ve just had but I’m going to do it! Who’s with me in making some positive changes this year?</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/rebelwilson/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Rebel Wilson</a> (@rebelwilson) on Jan 2, 2020 at 12:43am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“You already look amazing! Killing it! Any positive changes are good changes,” said another fan.</p> <p>Wilson revealed that she was making a commitment this year to improve her health.</p> <p>“Okay so for me 2020 is going to be called ‘The Year of Health’ – so I put on the athleisure and went out for a walk, deliberately hydrating on the couch right now and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food which is going to be hard after the holidays I’ve just had but I’m going to do it! Who’s with me in making some positive changes this year?”</p> <p>Wilson went through a weight-loss transformation in 2019 after hiring a celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who revealed she trained at least four times a week.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6uV5XXJMpr/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6uV5XXJMpr/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Guys, exactly this time last decade I was taking a huge risk and moved to Hollywood with just one suitcase and a doona in my hand. I couldn’t be prouder of all the films, TV shows and live performances I’ve done since then and all the wonderful people I’ve met along the journey who have helped and supported me. I appreciate you all so much 💕Can’t wait to see what this next decade brings!</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/rebelwilson/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Rebel Wilson</a> (@rebelwilson) on Dec 30, 2019 at 8:53pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“When she’s in town, she’s a solid four days a week,” the LA-based fitness expert told<span> </span><em>US Weekly</em>. “She is such a cool person to work with.”</p> <p>He then revealed the secret to her success, which is workouts based on “peripheral heart action”.</p> <p>“It’s forcing the blood to go from upper extremity to lower extremity sequentially so that you elicit a response from the heart rate … you’re creating an aerobic response in what would normally be viewed as anaerobic movements,” said Peterson.</p> <p>These workouts could range from an intense session on a treadmill to a demanding HIIT class.</p>

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Why your New Year's resolution to go to the gym will fail

<p>Come January, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/01/01/the-science-of-keeping-your-new-years-resolution/">40% of Americans will make New Years resolutions</a>, and <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/378105/new-years-resolution/">nearly half of them will aim</a> to lose weight or get in shape.</p> <p>But <a href="https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail">80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February</a>, and gyms will experience a <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Business/best-time-sign-gym-membership/story?id=21373583">decrease in traffic after the first and second months</a> of the year as those who made New Year’s resolutions to get in shape lose steam.</p> <p>As a lecturer at Binghamton and <a href="https://www.binghamton.edu/news/story/1737/binghamton-health-and-wellness-lecturer-earns-guinness-world-record/">former Olympic weightlifter, world champion powerlifter and strength coach</a>, much of my life has been spent in training halls and gyms around the country. People often ask me, “How do I stay motivated to work out?”</p> <p><iframe id="WFV9s" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WFV9s/1/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Motivation and short-term objectives</strong></p> <p>Years back, when I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one of the sports psychologists told me that motivation is a lie.</p> <p>It took me years of experience and research to figure out why, but I believe she was right.</p> <p>Personally, I have no issues getting up on a cold and dark morning to train when a competition is drawing near. But when there is no immediate objective or goal in site, getting up that early is much harder.</p> <p>Motivation is driven by emotion and that can be positive, as long as it <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4388(96)80077-8">is used for a short-term objective</a>. For some, a New Year’s resolution can serve as a motivator. But since <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-fundamental-four/201205/emotions-and-motivations">motivation is based on emotion</a>, it can’t last long.</p> <p>Think of it this way: No one can laugh or cry indefinitely, and that is exactly how we know that motivation will fail.</p> <p><a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/affective-neuroscience-9780195178050?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;">Emotion is a chemical release</a> yielding a physiological response. If someone attempting to get in shape is reliant upon this reaction to propel them towards working out, they are almost sure to burn out, just like with a resolution.</p> <p>When people buy gym memberships, they have the best of intentions in mind, but the commitments are made in a charged emotional state. Motivation helps with short-term objectives, but is virtually useless for objectives that require a greater length of time to accomplish.</p> <p>In other words, don’t totally discount the value of motivation, but don’t count on it to last long either because it won’t.</p> <p><strong>Discipline yields results</strong></p> <p>If motivation won’t help you reach your goals, what will?</p> <p>The answer is discipline. Discipline, as I define it, is the ability to do what is necessary for success when it is hardest to do so. Another way to think of it is having the ability, not necessarily the desire, to do what you need to when you least want to.</p> <p>Failure to get up when the alarm rings, the inability to walk away from a late night of partying before game day or eating a doughnut when you have committed to no processed sugar are all failures of discipline - not motivation.</p> <p>The keys to discipline are practice and consistency. Discipline means repetitive – and sometimes boring – action. There are no shortcuts. You can thank motivation for the first three weeks or so of your successful gym attendance, but after that you need to credit discipline.</p> <p>There is another clear line defining the difference between motivation and discipline. Motivation in and of itself typically fails to build other qualities necessary for advancement, but discipline does. Discipline <a href="https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=hy9mDwAAQBAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PT11&amp;dq=Discipline+builds+confidence&amp;ots=ga0Vo8UNjY&amp;sig=wsZ-N4x6NhasmmAnbGb610pbt3Y#v=onepage&amp;q=Discipline%20builds%20confidence&amp;f=false">develops confidence</a> and patience.</p> <p>Discipline builds consistency and consistency yields habits. It is those habits that, in the end, will ultimately define success.<em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/william-clark-887069">William Clark</a>, Adjunct Lecturer of Health and Wellness Studies, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/binghamton-university-state-university-of-new-york-2252">Binghamton University, State University of New York</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-your-new-years-resolution-to-go-to-the-gym-will-fail-127090">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Brooke Shields heads into 2020 in stunning Blue Lagoon form

<p>Brooke Shields is heading into 2020 with a homage to one of her iconic 1980 roles.</p> <p>Two days before the year ended, the 54-year-old actress and model took to Instagram to showcase her toned body. In the picture, Shields could be seen standing on the beach wearing navy blue bikini.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6rOA7tADF5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6rOA7tADF5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">another blue lagoon 💙</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/brookeshields/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Brooke Shields</a> (@brookeshields) on Dec 29, 2019 at 3:46pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“Another blue lagoon,” she wrote on the caption, referring to the 1980 film <em>The Blue Lagoon</em> where she played the lead role of Emmeline Lestrange.</p> <p> The star also shared another photo on New Year’s Eve from her vacation. The selfie showed the former Calvin Klein model posing in front of a mirror in a bikini set and hat. “Ready to spend the last day of the year at the beach!” the caption read.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6wAbRMAPtm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6wAbRMAPtm/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Ready to spend the last day of the year at the beach! 👙 @adoreme</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/brookeshields/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Brooke Shields</a> (@brookeshields) on Dec 31, 2019 at 12:24pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Shields shared that she has been staying in shape with gym exercises. “It’s been a long road from my knee surgery last year to now – I’ve learned so much about my body and I’m excited to share more of my wellness journey with you,” she wrote on Instagram.</p>

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Ex-MasterChef judge Matt Preston reveals dramatic weight loss

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Matt Preston has shown his <em>MasterChef</em> sabbatical has done wonders for his figure and has shared on social media his dramatic weight loss.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 58-year-old food critic admitted while chatting with</span><em><a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/entertainment/sydney-confidential/matt-preston-exmasterchef-judge-reveals-incredible-weight-loss/news-story/85356d0fa7d2d7173d71bc0e25a1d2ab"> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Sydney Confidential</span></a></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that he had “dropped a bit of weight and put on a bit of muscle”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Preston revealed his transformation included overhauling his diet in a “general lifestyle change”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I’ve been eating less, mainly plants but not restricting myself from anything. It is about having time, that moment when there are no more excuses,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the British-born TV star is a self-proclaimed moderate eater in order to maintain his newfound figure, he admitted he is still going to treat himself to an “occasional” burger or pizza.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While he hasn’t revealed just how much weight he has lost – with no intention to do so in the near future either – Preston says he measures his weight success against different sighs, such as “if people notice and whether your clothes fit”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Logie Award winner is gearing up to begin filming for his new show he will be co-hosting, Channel 7’s </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Plate of Origin</em>, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">in 2020.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Viewers will see Preston reunite with fellow former </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">MasterChef</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> judge Gary Mehigan.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, Matt and Gary’s old colleague George Calombaris has remained noticeably absent from the program which will see a team of cooks from different cultural backgrounds battle it out for the top prize.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Plate of Origin</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is expected to hit TV screens after the Tokyo Olympics wraps up in early August 2020.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Season 12 of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">MasterChef Australia</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> will feature a new judging line up that includes Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scroll through the gallery to see former <em>MasterChef</em> star Matt Preston’s dramatic weight loss. </span></p>

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Why it can be hard to stop eating even when you're full

<p>All foods are not created equal. Most are palatable, or tasty to eat, which is helpful because we need to eat to survive. For example, a fresh apple is palatable to most people and provides vital nutrients and calories.</p> <p>But certain foods, such as pizza, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, are almost irresistible. They’re always in demand at parties, and they’re easy to keep eating, even when we are full.</p> <p>In these foods, a synergy between key ingredients can create an artificially enhanced palatability experience that is greater than any key ingredient would produce alone. Researchers call this <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22639">hyperpalatability</a>. Eaters call it delicious.</p> <p>Initial studies suggest that foods with two or more key ingredients linked to palatability – specifically, sugar, salt, fat or carbohydrates – can activate brain-reward neurocircuits similarly to drugs like <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2519">cocaine</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2012.01031.x">opioids</a>. They may also be able to bypass mechanisms in our bodies that make us feel full and tell us to stop eating.</p> <p>Our research focuses on <a href="https://fazzinolab.drupal.ku.edu/publications">rewarding foods</a>, <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=odLm9LkAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">addictive behaviors and obesity</a>. We recently published a study with nutritional scientist <a href="http://www.kumc.edu/school-of-health-professions/dietetics-and-nutrition/our-people/sullivan.html">Debra Sullivan</a> that identifies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22639">three clusters of key ingredients</a> that can make foods hyperpalatable. Using those definitions, we estimated that nearly two-thirds of foods widely consumed in the U.S. fall into at least one of those three groups.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aCUbvOwwfWM?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Documentaries like “Fed Up’ (2014) have linked obesity to food industry practices and American eating habits.</span></p> <h2>Cracking the codes</h2> <p>Foods that are highly rewarding, easily accessible and cheap are everywhere in our society. Unsurprisingly, eating them has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.12.002">associated with obesity</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home">Documentaries</a> in the last 15-20 years have reported that food companies have developed formulas to make palatable foods so enticing. However, manufacturers typically guard their recipes as trade secrets, so academic scientists can’t study them.</p> <p>Instead, researchers have used descriptive definitions to capture what makes some foods hyperpalatable. For example, in his 2012 book ”<a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781596438316">Your Food Is Fooling You: How Your Brain Is Hijacked by Sugar, Fat, and Salt</a>,“ <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_A._Kessler">David Kessler</a>, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>"What are these foods? …. Some are sweetened drinks, chips, cookies, candy, and other snack foods. Then, of course, there are fast food meals – fried chicken, pizza, burgers, and fries.”</p> </blockquote> <p>But these definitions are not standardized, so it is hard to compare results across studies. And they fail to identify the relevant ingredients. Our study sought to establish a quantitative definition of hyperpalatable foods and then use it to determine how prevalent these foods are in the U.S.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/305478/original/file-20191205-38993-1imt92a.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/305478/original/file-20191205-38993-1imt92a.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">In 2018, 31% of U.S. adults aged 18 and over were obese.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/2018-overall-obesity-prevalence-map-508.pdf" class="source">CDC</a></span></p> <h2>Three key clusters</h2> <p>We conducted our work in two parts. First we carried out a literature search to identify scientific articles that used descriptive definitions of the full range of palatable foods. We entered these foods into standardized nutrition software to obtain detailed data on the nutrients they contained.</p> <p>Next we used a graphing procedure to determine whether certain foods appeared to cluster together. We then used the clusters to inform our numeric definition. We found that hyperpalatable foods fell into three distinct clusters:</p> <p>– Fat and sodium, with more than 25% of total calories (abbreviated as kcal) from fat and at least 0.30% sodium per gram per serving. Bacon and pizza are examples.</p> <p>– Fat and simple sugars, with more than 20% kcal from fat and more than 20% kcal from simple sugars. Cake is an example.</p> <p>– Carbohydrates and sodium, with over 40% kcal from carbohydrates and at least 0.20% sodium per gram per serving. Buttered popcorn is an example.</p> <p>Then we applied our definition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s <a href="https://data.nal.usda.gov/dataset/food-and-nutrient-database-dietary-studies-fndds">Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies</a>, or FNDDS, which catalogs foods that Americans report eating in a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/about_nhanes.htm">biennial federal survey on nutrition and health</a>. The database contained 7,757 food items that we used in our analysis.</p> <p>Over 60% of these foods met our criteria for hyperpalatability. Among them, 70% were in the fat/sodium cluster, including many meats, meat-based dishes, omelets and cheese dips. Another 25% fell into the fat/simple sugars cluster, which included sweets and desserts, but also foods such as glazed carrots and other vegetables cooked with fat and sugar.</p> <p>Finally, 16% were in the carbohydrate/sodium cluster, which consisted of carbohydrate-dense meal items like pizza, plus breads, cereals and snack foods. Fewer than 10% of foods fell into multiple clusters.</p> <p>We also looked at which of the USDA’s food categories contained the most hyperpalatable foods. Over 70% of meats, eggs and grain-based foods in the FNDDS met our criteria for hyperpalatability. We were surprised to find that 49% of foods labeled as containing “reduced,” “low”, or zero levels of sugar, fat, salt and/or calories qualified as hyperpalatable.</p> <p>Finally, we considered whether our definition captured what we hypothesized it would capture. It identified more than 85% of foods labeled as fast or fried, as well as sweets and desserts. Conversely, it did not capture foods that we hypothesized were not hyperpalatable, such as raw fruits, meats or fish, or 97% of raw vegetables.</p> <h2>Tackling obesity</h2> <p>If scientific evidence supporting our proposed definition of hyperpalatable foods accumulates, and it shows that our definition is associated with overeating and obesity-related outcomes, our findings could be used in several ways.</p> <p>First, the FDA could require hyperpalatable foods to be labeled – an approach that would alert consumers to what they may be eating while preserving consumer choice. The agency also could regulate or limit specific combinations of ingredients, as a way to reduce the chance of people finding foods that contain them difficult to stop eating.</p> <p>Consumers also could consider the role of hyperpalatable foods in their own lives. Our team needs to do further work validating our definition before we translate it for the public, but as a first step, individuals can examine whether the foods they eat contain multiple ingredients such as fat and sodium, particularly at high levels. Recent surveys show increased interest among U.S. consumers in <a href="https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2019/what-food-related-causes-do-us-consumers-care-about-today/">making informed food choices</a>, although they often <a href="https://foodinsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-FHS-Report-FINAL.pdf">aren’t sure which sources to trust</a>.</p> <p>One starting point for people concerned about healthy eating is to consume foods that are unlikely to be hyperpalatable – items that occur naturally and have few or no additional ingredients, such as fresh fruit. As food writer Michael Pollan <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/305288/food-rules-by-michael-pollan/">recommends</a>, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/126729/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/tera-fazzino-882302">Tera Fazzino</a>, Assistant Professor of Psychology; Associate Director of the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-kansas-1588">University of Kansas</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kaitlyn-rohde-887872">Kaitlyn Rohde</a>, Research Assistant, Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment., <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-kansas-1588">University of Kansas</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-it-can-be-hard-to-stop-eating-even-when-youre-full-some-foods-may-be-designed-that-way-126729">original article</a>.</em></p>

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This is what really happens when you go under the knife

<p>We’ve all seen the TV dramas – <a href="http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy">Grey’s Anatomy</a>, <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108757/">ER</a>, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006m8wd">Casualty</a>, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mhd6">Holby City</a> – and most of us like to think we have a pretty good idea of what happens in an operating theatre. The doctors and nurses will be clad in blue scrubs, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/music-surgery_n_6310842">operatic music will be playing</a>, with intermittent calls of “scalpel” or “swabs”, right?</p> <p>For those readers, who’ve ever had an operation – whether it was <a href="https://theconversation.com/seven-body-organs-you-can-live-without-84984">planned or an emergency</a> – things in the real world probably felt very different to those familiar TV drama medical emergency scenes. In part, this is because <a href="https://theconversation.com/greys-anatomy-is-unrealistic-but-it-might-make-junior-doctors-more-compassionate-92040">TV programmes often portray the staff</a> who work on the wards also working in the operating theatre – but this isn’t the case.</p> <p>In fact, it’s not just doctors and nurses that make up part of the team involved in an operation, there is also a group of professionals, known as <a href="https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/allied-health-professionals/roles-allied-health-professions/operating-department-practitioner">operating department practitioners</a> (ODPs), who are trained specifically to look after you when you’re under the bright lights of the operating theatre.</p> <h2>What happens when I arrive?</h2> <p>Having an operation can be highly stressful. You might have been told not to eat before. It all feels a bit unknown, and you aren’t exactly sure what will happen. But the staff at the hospital are on hand to try and make things easy for you.</p> <p>As you are arrive on the ward, a whole team of staff are busy preparing for your surgery. You’ll be asked to confirm who you are and what you’re being admitted for. You will also be asked to change into a very fetching hospital gown. Someone will also sit down and talk you through what’s happening and check you have not eaten – this is so you don’t vomit <a href="https://theconversation.com/science-lesson-how-anesthetics-work-and-why-xenons-perfect-83744">during your anaesthetic</a>.</p> <h2>Who looks after me?</h2> <p>The team looking after you has three sub teams working as one. They are the anaesthetic team, the surgical team and the post anaesthetic team. These teams work like cogs and your care and treatment is seamless. As a minimum, this would mean you would have nine health professionals caring for you at any one time.</p> <p>Your operating team on the day will have doctors – who are the anaesthetist, and the surgeon – but the rest of the team could be made up nurses, ODPs and healthcare assistants. ODPs are generally a graduate professional and they train through university in partnership with the hospital operating theatres.</p> <h2>When do I have the anaesthetic?</h2> <p>When the team is ready and it’s time for your surgery, you have your anaesthetic. This will be delivered by an anaesthetist, but there always has to be trained assistance – normally an ODP.</p> <p>On arrival in the <a href="https://theconversation.com/scientists-find-way-to-predict-who-is-likely-to-wake-up-during-surgery-53217">anaesthetic room</a>, it is the ODP that greets you with a big smile and often a cheesy joke. After all, they have minutes to get to know you and for you to trust them with your life. They will attach you to the monitoring equipment and measure your baseline pulse and blood pressure readings.</p> <p>You will need a cannula (a plastic tube) inserting into a vein, so the anaesthetist can give you the drugs. This is the point where you may be asked to start counting back slowly from ten – you won’t even get to seven.</p> <h2>What happens during surgery?</h2> <p>While the anaesthetic team continue to look after you, the surgical team carry out your operation. The surgeon will have at least one assistant – I have known more than ten people to be part of this team for major head and neck cancer surgery. The first assistant and other assistants scrub up with the surgeon and help with the surgery.</p> <p>Adding to this team there is a scrub practitioner and their role is to provide the swabs, needles and equipment to the surgeon and the assistants. They are the ones who also count everything to make sure you don’t leave the operating theatre with any unwanted extras.</p> <h2>When can I go home?</h2> <p>Once your <a href="https://theconversation.com/will-you-feel-better-after-surgery-now-you-can-find-out-using-this-online-tool-72758">surgery is complete</a> your wounds will be dressed by the surgical team. Your anaesthetic will be reversed and you will be taken to the post anaesthetic care unit – which used to be called recovery. Here you will be looked after until you are ready to be discharged back to the ward. Here, you wounds will be inspected, and whoever’s looking after you will make sure your <a href="https://theconversation.com/anthill-19-pain-87538">pain is under control</a> and you are not feeling sick.</p> <p>Once you are awake and comfy, you will be taken back to the ward where your relatives may be waiting and you should be able to have something to eat and drink. Depending on your surgery and who you have at home to look after you, you may even be allowed to go home the same day.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/95719/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-robinson-469372">Deborah Robinson</a>, Senior Lecturer and Head of Health and Social Work School, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-hull-1191">University of Hull</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/this-is-what-really-happens-when-you-go-under-the-knife-95719">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What your poo says about your health

<p>Opening your bowels is a basic function of life. But despite the fact we all do it, pooing is not often thought to be a topic suitable for polite conversation. However, recent <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43674270">popular interest in gut health</a> and the composition of poo – as well as the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/26/the-human-microbiome-why-our-microbes-could-be-key-to-our-health">bacterial populations that live within it</a> – have helped to put bodily functions more on the map. And these days, more and more people are wondering how often you should go, what happens if you don’t go enough and how you can influence the composition of what is passed.</p> <p>In the late 1980s, Professor Ken Heaton and colleagues conducted a <a href="http://gut.bmj.com/content/gutjnl/33/6/818.full.pdf">survey of the population</a> in East Bristol, in the UK. They reported the common wisdom that “99% of people defecate between three times per week and three times per day” which was revealed in an earlier study of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1846921/">factory workers and GP patients</a>. In Bristol, they noted that although the most common bowel habit was once daily, it only occurred in 40% of men and a third of women.</p> <p>How often we go for a number two can differ from person to person. We all have what’s known as a “<a href="https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/0016-5085(78)90864-8/abstract">gastro-colic reflex</a>” – which means that each time we eat food, our large bowel responds and we should go to the toilet. Through a range of hormones we will experience a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12870774">call to stool</a>”. Most of us, however – from the time we can walk – suppress this call, so once a day or less has become the new norm.</p> <p>Urgency, diarrhoea, and constipation can all be features of not going to the toilet enough. And associated with this “relative” constipation are symptoms of bloating, pain and variability of bowel habit. A simple test of how your bowels are working is the “sweetcorn test”. By swallowing a handful of raw sweetcorn – which is not absorbed by the body – the brightly coloured kernels can be easily seen in your motions. This is an easy way to assess your own mouth-to-anus transit time. It should probably be about eight hours.</p> <h2>The composition of poo</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26246784">Poo is made up of 75% water</a>. The rest, which is the solid stuff, is up to 50% microbes plus cells that are shed from the bowel lining and food residue. The collective name for the microbes that live inside us is the microbiome and at one time, it was thought that the bugs outnumbered our cells by ten to one.</p> <p><a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533">Recent data</a> suggests this may be closer to a ratio of 1.3 to 1 but this will obviously depend on how often you go. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and single cell microbes make up the microbiome and all <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181834/">may be critical</a> to our health and well-being.</p> <p>From a positive perspective, the bugs in our guts not only breakdown undigestible foodstuffs, but they also produce critical nutrients, prevent certain infections and contribute to the development of our <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095809917301492">immune defence systems</a>. However, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature05414">obesity</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23023125">type two diabetes</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25870193">high blood pressure</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17699621">inflammatory bowel disease</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23370376">autoimmune disorders</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22968153">mental health problems</a> have all been linked to dysbiosis – or change of the microbiome.</p> <h2>Gut feelings</h2> <p>Establishment of our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24503132">microbiome starts at birth</a> and is influenced by the way we are born – either vaginally or by Cesarean – and initially fed. By the time we start eating solid food, we are well on the way to establishing our adult microbiome. What we subsequently <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/">eat can have an impact on the composition</a>, although this effect may be modest.</p> <p>Our diets also may influence the metabolic products of our microbiome – these are the chemicals that the individual organisms produce – which can also have an impact on us as the host. Fibre, fat, sugars, artificial sweeteners have all been shown to modulate the composition of the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/">gastrointestinal microbiota</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21767445">Experimental data</a> suggests that prebiotic fibres change gut microbiota and increase hormones that tell us that we are full. <a href="https://www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/emma-beckett">Current ongoing research</a> has also shown that antibiotic induced microbial imbalance is associated with changes in bitter taste expression – which influences the foods we prefer to eat. All these relationships are complex, and scientists are just beginning to understand their full impact.</p> <p>The ultimate way to alter our microbiome is a <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002503">faecal transplant</a>, where you take on board the poo from someone else. Unpleasant as this may sound, encouraging data is emerging on the use of poo in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections such as clostridium difficile, early diabetes, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. But it may still be a while before you can buy prized poo over the counter in your local supermarket.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/95724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-veysey-469454">Martin Veysey</a>, Programme Director MBBS at Hull York Medical School, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-hull-1191">University of Hull</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-your-poo-says-about-your-health-95724">original article</a>.</p>

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Why we shouldn’t all be vegan

<p>After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called <a href="https://eatforum.org/">EAT</a>. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef.</p> <p>The push comes at a time when consumer behaviour already seems to be shifting. In the three years following 2014, according to research firm GlobalData, there was a <a href="https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4959853/top-trends-in-prepared-foods-2017-exploring-trends-in-meat-fish-and-seafood-pasta-noodles-and-rice-prepared-meals-savory-deli-food-soup-and-meat-substitutes.html">six-fold increase</a> in people identifying as vegans in the US, a huge rise – albeit from a very low base. It’s a similar story in the UK, where the number of vegans has increased by 350%, compared to a decade ago, at least according to <a href="https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/vegan-society-poll">research</a> commissioned by the Vegan Society.</p> <p>And across Asia, many governments are promoting plant-based diets. New government dietary guidelines in China, for example, call on the nation’s 1.3 billion people to reduce their meat consumption <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/20/chinas-meat-consumption-climate-change">by 50%</a>. Flexitarianism, a mostly plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat, is <a href="https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2017/08/15/Flexitarianism-almost-a-third-of-Brits-carve-meat-intake">also on the rise</a>.</p> <h2>‘Conquering the world’</h2> <p>Big food companies have noticed the shift and have jumped onto the vegan wagon, the most prominent ones tightly associated with EAT through its <a href="https://eatforum.org/initiatives/fresh/">FReSH program</a>. Unilever, for instance, is a very vocal partner. Recently, the multinational announced it was acquiring a meat-substitute company called “The Vegetarian Butcher”. <a href="https://www.unilever.com/news/press-releases/2018/unilever-acquires-the-vegetarian-butcher.html">It described</a> the acquisition as part of a strategy to expand “into plant-based foods that are healthier and have a lower environmental impact”. Currently, Unilever sells just under 700 products under the “V-label” in Europe.</p> <p>“The Vegetarian Butcher” was conceived in 2007 by farmer Jaap Kortweg, chef Paul Brom and marketer Niko Koffeman, a Dutch Seventh-Day Adventist who is vegetarian for religious and ideological reasons. Koffeman is also at the origin of the <em>Partij voor de Dieren</em>, a political party advocating for animal rights in The Netherlands. Like EAT, the Vegetarian Butcher seeks to “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/19/unilever-joins-meat-free-revolution-after-buying-the-vegetarian-butcher">conquer the world</a>”. Its mission is “to make plant-based ‘meat’ the standard” – and the alliance with Unilever paves the way.</p> <p>The dietary shift would require a remarkable turn around in consumer habits. Of course, there is much that both can and should be done to improve the way that we eat, both in terms of consumer health and environmental impact. And yes, a key plank of the strategy will be shifting consumers away from beef. But the extreme vision of some of the campaign’s backers is somewhat startling. Former UN official Christiana Figueres, for example, thinks that anyone who wants a steak should be banished. “How about restaurants in ten to 15 years start treating carnivores the same way that smokers are treated?”, Figueres <a href="https://www.svt.se/nyheter/utrikes/vill-forbjuda-kott-pa-restauranger-kottatare-ska-behandlas-som-rokare-pa-krogen">suggested</a> during a recent conference. “If they want to eat meat, they can do it outside the restaurant.”</p> <p>This statement is typical of what social scientists call “<a href="https://www.learnliberty.org/videos/bootleggers-and-baptists/">bootlegger and Baptist</a>” coalitions, in which groups with very different ideas – and values – seek to rally under a common banner. And this is what worries us. The campaign to “conquer the world” can be rather simplistic and one-sided, and we think this has some dangerous implications.</p> <h2>A skewed view?</h2> <p>EAT, for example, describes itself as a science-based global platform for <a href="https://eatforum.org/">food system transformation</a>. It has partnered with Oxford and Harvard universities, as well as with the medical journal The Lancet. But we have concerns that some of the science behind the campaign and the policy is partial and misleading.</p> <p>It is long on things that we all know are bad, such as some excesses of factory farming and rainforest clearing to raise beef cattle. But it is mostly silent on such things as the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174012003385?via%3Dihub">nutritional assets</a> of animal products, especially for <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/137/4/1119/4664672">children</a> in rural African settings, and the <a href="http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/home/en/news_archive/2017_More_Fuel_for_the_Food_Feed.html">sustainability benefits</a> of livestock in areas as diverse as sub-Saharan Africa to traditional European upland valleys. And, if vegetarian diets show that traditional markers for heart disease, such as “total cholesterol”, are usually improved, this is not the case for the more predictive (and thus valuable) markers such as the triglyceride/HDL (or “good” cholesterol) ratio, which even <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996202/">tend to deteriorate</a>.</p> <p>More importantly, most nutritional “evidence” originates from epidemiology, which is not able to show causation but only statistical correlations. Not only are the associations <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174015300218">weak</a>, the research is generally confounded by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574618/">lifestyle</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201563">other dietary factors</a>. Not to mention that part of the epidemiological data, such as the <a href="https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2018/08/22/14/15/tues-515am-pure-esc-2018">PURE study</a>, show that the consumption of meat and dairy can be associated with less – rather than more – chronic disease.</p> <h2>Not so simple</h2> <p>In any case, even if plant-based diets can in theory provide the nutrients people need, as long as they are supplemented with critical micronutrients (such as vitamin B12 and certain long-chain fatty acids), that is not to say that in practice shifting people towards them will not result in a great many people following poorly balanced diets and suffering ill health in consequence. And when a vegan diet fails, for instance due to poor supplementation, it may result in serious physical and cognitive impairment and <a href="http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/70/4/582">failure to thrive</a>.</p> <p>The approach seems particularly risky during pregnancy and for the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2018.1437024">very young</a>, as also documented by a long list of clinical <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407531/">case reports</a> in medical literature. Animal products are exceptionally nutrient-dense dietary sources – removing them from the diet compromises metabolic robustness. Without sufficient insight in the complexities of nutrition and human metabolism, it is easy to overlook important issues as the proportion of nutrients that can be absorbed from the diet, nutrient interactions and protein quality.</p> <p>The same <a href="https://www.efanews.eu/en/item/6053-the-eat-lancet-commission-will-launch.html/">debate needs to be had</a> when it comes to consideration of the environmental question. Too fast or radical a shift towards “plant-based” diets risks losing realistic and achievable goals, such as increasing the benefits of natural grazing and embracing farming techniques that reduce the wasteful feeding of crops to animals, lower climate impact and enhance biodoversity.</p> <p>A shift towards a radically plant-based planetary diet loses the many benefits of livestock – including its deployment on land that is not suitable for crop production, its contribution to livelihoods, and the many other benefits that animals provide. It mistakenly assumes that land use can be swiftly altered and ignores the potential of farming techniques that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X17310338">may even have mitigating effects</a>.</p> <p>Sustainable, ecological and harmonious animal production really should be part of the solution of the “world food problem”, considered from both the nutritional and environmental scenarios. The Earth is an extraordinarily complex ecosystem – any one-size-fits-all solution risks wreaking havoc with it.</p> <p><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-cohen-406203">Martin Cohen</a>, Visiting Research Fellow in Philosophy, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-hertfordshire-799">University of Hertfordshire</a></em> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/frederic-leroy-659117">Frédéric Leroy</a>, Professor of Food Science and Biotechnology, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/vrije-universiteit-brussel-2958">Vrije Universiteit Brussel</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-shouldnt-all-be-vegan-109308">original article</a>.</p>

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How to wash your hands properly

<p>It’s something most people do everyday, often without really thinking about it, but how you wash your hands can make a real difference to your health and the well-being of those around you.</p> <p>Washing your hands is the one most <a href="https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(04)00172-9/fulltext">effective method</a> to prevent cross-contamination which can cause the spread of illness and infections. And many research studies have shown how improvements in hand hygiene have resulted in reductions in illness.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004265.pub3/information">A look at research from around the world</a> on the promotion of washing hands with soap, found that such interventions resulted in a <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-3156.2006.01568.x">30% reduction</a> in diarrhoea episodes and respiratory illnesses such as colds. <a href="https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(17)30041-X/fulltext">Hand hygiene interventions</a> at elementary schools in the US similarly helped to reduce sick days associated with acute gastrointestinal illness by 31%.</p> <p>The impact of good hand hygiene is even greater among people that have an increased risk of infection. A <a href="https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/jmm/10.1099/jmm.0.46867-0#tab2">study</a> from 2007, for example, found that patients with AIDS who washed their hands more frequently got ill less often.</p> <p>But as <a href="https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-378">our recent research shows</a>, despite awareness of the importance of washing your hands, people often fail to do it properly. In our study, we observed how adults over the age of 60 prepared food in a domestic kitchen set up with CCTV cameras, and found that only 30% of people properly washed and dried their hands before preparing food.</p> <p>We found that 90% of people failed to wash and dry their hands properly immediately after handling raw chicken. And that 62% failed to rub hands, palms and between fingers when washing hands. We also discovered that 47% of people in our study failed to use soap during one or more hand washing attempt.</p> <p>We also swabbed the kitchen and found that those who adequately washed their hands, had significantly lower levels of microbiological contamination levels in the kitchen following food preparation sessions. <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00070700510606873/full/html">Other studies</a> have also determined that failing to wash hands adequately after handling raw poultry can transfer bacteria to domestic kitchen surfaces – such as the handles of taps and refrigerators. All of which highlights the importance of properly washing your hands.</p> <h2>How to wash your hands</h2> <p>The World Health Organisation <a href="https://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/consumer/manual_keys.pdf">recommends</a> that to wash your hands effectively, it needs to be done with clean water and soap. Hands should be rubbed together for at least 20 seconds, followed by rinsing. Hands must also be dried using either disposable kitchen paper or a clean hand towel.</p> <p>The use of soap is particularly important for hand washing to be effective. Indeed, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037063/">research</a> has shown that washing with soap significantly reduced the presence of bacteria on hands.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1XVhNEoxtN8?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>The soap doesn’t have to be antibacterial to be effective – though antibacterial soap works on reducing the number of bacteria not just removing them. And research has <a href="https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2007.124610">shown</a> that the use of non-antibacterial soap is successful for preventing both gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses.</p> <p>You should spend 20 seconds washing and drying your hands. Here’s how to do it properly: wet your hands with clean water, use soap, rub palm to palm, rub back of hands, rub between fingers, rub fingernails, rinse your hands. Then dry them using a clean towel or kitchen paper.</p> <h2>Dry them properly too</h2> <p>Hand drying is also very important to prevent contamination from hands to food, surfaces and equipment as the transmission of bacteria is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809004/">more likely</a> to occur from wet skin than from dry skin. So the proper drying of hands after washing should be an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538484/">integral part</a> of hand hygiene.</p> <p>Drying your hands properly also removes a significant number of bacteria following hand washing – drying with a towel removes pathogens by means of friction, on top of the removal of moisture. Though this means that a hand towel can become a site for cross-contamination. Indeed, in <a href="https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/abs/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-17-378">our study</a> we found that 37% of people used the same towel for drying hands and equipment.</p> <p>It is essential to wash hands on occasions when they may be contaminated such as before, during, and after preparing food – particularly after handing raw meat and poultry – after using the toilet, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and after touching an animal.</p> <p>This is important, because washing our hands properly can mean the difference between sickness and health. And for people with compromised immune systems it can even mean the difference between life and death – so make sure you do it properly. If in doubt follow the tips above and sing “<a href="https://tools.cdc.gov/medialibrary/index.aspx#/media/id/302345">Happy Birthday</a>” twice to allow enough time to remove and rinse away any germs.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/125330/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ellen-w-evans-326143">Ellen W. Evans</a>, Junior Research Fellow, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/cardiff-metropolitan-university-1585">Cardiff Metropolitan University</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/most-people-dont-wash-their-hands-properly-heres-how-it-should-be-done-125330">original article</a>.</p>

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Why exercise is less helpful in losing weight than simply eating less

<p>I tend to be overweight, and for the last few years my blood glucose levels have been putting me on the brink of Type 2 diabetes. I love my food, and it is often part of my social commitments. I’m a Spaniard, so there’s also the occasional tapas and glass of wine, or maybe a martini on Saturdays.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://scientia.eus/team/juan-ignacio-perez-iglesias/">physiologist</a>, I know I need to take steps to control my blood glucose and weight. So early every morning, I spend a considerable amount of time pedaling away on a stationary bike.</p> <p>When I started this morning activity, I lost several pounds in the first two or three weeks. Then I increased my cycling time, from 40 to 60 minutes a day, and lost another few pounds.</p> <p>Now, however, I’ve been following this regimen for nearly two years, and my weight has obstinately refused to go down. No matter how much I exercise, it barely drops. I can’t spend any more time pedaling. The day isn’t long enough. Neither is the night.</p> <p>It is discouraging to get on a bike early in the morning, pedal away madly for over an hour and weigh the same as before. The only thing I manage to do during the work week is knock off the weight I put on over the weekend.</p> <p>The apparent lack of physiological logic in all this irks me.</p> <p>In my lectures at Spain’s <a href="https://www.ehu.eus/en">University of the Basque Country</a>, the syllabus covers energy balance — the difference between your energy input, or calories consumed, and your energy output, or calories burnt. I teach students that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14692598">when activity increases, the metabolic rate rises</a>.</p> <p>So if the energy absorbed in the form of food is constant, more metabolic activity should bring about a reduction in the energy available for growth, even to the point of negative growth – that is, weight loss. Right?</p> <h2>Why isn’t exercise helping me lose weight?</h2> <p>Science has <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-exercise-still-important-to-weight-loss-absolutely-a-doctor-says-103880">struggled to provide a satisfying and consistent answer</a> to this common frustration.</p> <p>According to anthropologist Herman Pontzer of Duke University, when physical activity is increased in the long term, daily energy expenditure also rises – but <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215015778">less than one would expect</a>. Even as activity increases, the body’s total daily energy expenditure rises more and more slowly, until the number of calories burnt daily becomes virtually constant.</p> <p>In other words, the body adapts to changing circumstances. If expenditure is more or less constant, then, the body compensates for increased physical activity by reducing the energy it spends on other, nonessential functions.</p> <p><a href="https://www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/physiol.00027.2018">Pontzer’s hypothesis</a>, which was developed working alongside a team of doctors, would explain why I tend to feel cold – even on very hot days – and why I feel colder on mornings when I’ve exercised intensively. What I make my body pay for in exercise, my metabolism “charges” me for by reducing heat generation.</p> <p>So while moderate physical activity leads to a reduction in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215015778?via%3Dihub">nonessential physiological activities</a>, the reduced functionality triggered by high levels of physical activity may actually be <a href="https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00622.2016">harmful to human health</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajhb.10152">Research shows</a> that heavy physical activity can alter the ovarian cycle in women, diminish sperm production in men, lower levels of sexual hormones in the blood and reduce sex drive.</p> <p>Under conditions of very high activity, the effects on reproductive function become more obvious – consider the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/90/11/6022/2838411">delayed onset of puberty in young gymnasts</a>, for example. The <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005">immune system suffers</a>, as does the body’s ability <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215015778#bib5">to repair damaged tissue</a>.</p> <p>So while it is healthy for many reasons to <a href="https://theconversation.com/keeping-fit-how-to-do-the-right-exercise-for-your-age-108851">regularly engage in moderate physical activity</a>, that activity does not have the slimming effects often attributed to it. And increasing the amount you exercise won’t change that.</p> <h2>How to lose weight</h2> <p>You don’t want to hear this any more than I do, but <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-lose-weight-and-keep-it-off-according-to-science-110674">controlling calorie intake</a> – difficult as that is – is a more effective way to control body weight.</p> <p>The body adapts to a lack of food, <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/fulltext/2015/07000/Constrained_Total_Energy_Expenditure_and_the.3.aspx">as it does to increased physical activity</a>. In this case, it saves energy by reducing the speed of various physical processes, including metabolic activity – but not enough to offset the reduction in calories.</p> <p>When you eat less, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163710001029">body temperature is also affected</a>: Reducing food intake <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236229/#_ddd00166_">tends to make people feel colder</a>. Eating less entails a slower physiological life and, to a certain extent, a more efficient one – that’s why, scientists are fairly confident, <a href="https://theconversation.com/comer-menos-alarga-la-vida-111665">eating less is tied to longevity</a>.</p> <p>It’s not my place to advise anyone on their habits. But here’s how I’ve chosen to change my behavior based on this information.</p> <p>First, I eat less than I used to and am more careful about what I eat. But I confess that I still overindulge occasionally. I’ve also moderated my physical activity. These days, I do about 100 miles a week on the stationary bike and walk whenever I get the chance.</p> <p>So far I have not found life unbearable. Type 2 diabetes is still hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles, but I’m confident I’m on the right path.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/125589/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/juan-ignacio-perez-iglesias-529186">Juan Ignacio Pérez Iglesias</a>, Catedrático de Fisiología, <em><a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/universidad-del-pais-vasco-euskal-herriko-unibertsitatea-3422">Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-exercise-is-less-helpful-in-losing-weight-than-simply-eating-less-125589">original article</a>.</p>

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How does a piece of bread cause a migraine?

<p>Migraine is the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1186/1129-2377-14-1">third most prevalent illness</a> in the world and causes suffering for tens of millions of people. In fact, nearly <a href="http://doi.org/10.1212/wnl.58.6.885">1 in 4 U.S. household</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/head.12878">includes someone with migraines</a>.</p> <p>Migraine is not just a headache but also includes a collection of associated symptoms that can be debilitating. These include nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity and dizziness. Often people struggle to determine what triggers their migraines. It can be environmental, hormonal, genetic, secondary to an underlying illness, or <a href="https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/migraine-and-diet/">triggered by certain foods</a>, such as cheese, red wine or chocolate. One food that has received a lot of <a href="http://doi.org/10.3988/jcn.2017.13.3.215">attention in recent years is gluten </a> - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.</p> <p>As a registered dietitian and board-certified neurologist who specializes in headache management, I often will have my patients try a gluten-free diet.</p> <h2>Celiac disease vs. gluten sensitivity</h2> <p>When someone suffers from <a href="https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/celiac-disease">celiac disease</a> – a digestive disorder caused by an autoimmune response to gluten – there is a clear link between <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4610.2012.02260.x">migraine headaches and gluten</a>. <a href="https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/screening-and-diagnosis/screening/">Gluten triggers immune cells to release antibodies</a> to attack substances the body sees as foreign.</p> <p>When someone without celiac disease eats gluten, it goes into the gastrointestinal tract where food is broken down and the nutrients are absorbed. In the case of celiac disease, that person’s immune system sees the gluten as a foreign substance (like a virus or bacteria that shouldn’t be there) and attacks it with a specific antibody – called transglutaminase (TG) 2 serum autoantibodies – to destroy the gluten.</p> <p>The problem is the person’s own healthy tissues gets destroyed in the process. In other words, when people who are sensitive to gluten consume it, the immune system sees this protein as an invader and creates antibodies to capture and destroy the protein. If the protein is sitting in the GI tract or has been absorbed by other organs, the antibodies go looking for it and attack whatever <a href="http://doi.org/10.1038/cmi.2010.65">tissue is harboring the gluten protein</a>.</p> <p>This triggers an inflammatory reaction that puts the body in high alert that injures various healthy organs. Organs then release molecules that cause blood vessels to become leaky and release water, electrolytes and protein into the tissues and cause swelling.</p> <p>This is an inflammatory response that affects the whole body, not just the brain. In addition to headaches, it can cause broader symptoms including gastrointestinal problems, fatigue and learning difficulties, just to name a few.</p> <h2>Step by step, how gluten leads to migraines</h2> <p>But just looking at a gluten-intolerant person’s inflammatory response doesn’t provide the whole picture on gluten’s link to migraine.</p> <p>In recent years scientists have gained a better understanding of how and why migraines occur. Migraine is now considered <a href="https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/migraine#inheritance">a genetic condition</a> that is found commonly within families.</p> <p>Early theories suggested migraines occurred because of enlargement or dilation of the blood vessels. But now neurologists realize this isn’t the whole story. We now know the cascade that leads to a migraine involves the nerves in the trigeminovascular pathway (TVP) – the collection of nerves that control sensation in the face as well as biting and chewing.</p> <p>When TVP is activated by the presence of gluten, for example, it causes the release of many chemicals including histamine, a substance that immune cells produce when responding to injury, allergic and inflammatory events. The TVP nerves also produce a recently discovered trigger for migraines; a protein called <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/head.13081">calcitonin gene-related peptide</a> (CGRP).</p> <p>When CGRP is released it causes the dilation of blood vessels in the meninges – the layer of tissue protecting the brain. As the blood vessels dilate they leak water and proteins into the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1038/s41582-018-0003-1">meninges which causes swelling and irritation</a>. The swelling activates the trigenimial nerves which relay messages to other regions of the brain, including the thalamus which creates the perception of pain that is associated with a migraine.</p> <p>Within the past year a new class of medications has gained FDA approval for migraine prevention. These medications are called <a href="http://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1215">CGRP monoclonal antibodies</a> and have proven to be an effective preventative treatment. They stop the protein CGRP from getting into its receptor.</p> <h2>What to do about food triggers</h2> <p>In both gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, and migraine, there is an inflammatory process occurring within the body. I hypothesize that the inflammatory response to gluten makes it easier to activate the trigeminovascular pathway, thus triggering a migraine. There has never been a large study of how exactly gluten triggers migraines, and this is something I hope to explore in future studies.</p> <p>Typically, a food trigger will cause a migraine to start within 15 minutes of exposure to that substance.</p> <p>If someone tests positive for celiac, or wheat allergy, then the answer is simple: remove gluten from the diet. So the question arises when someone tests negative should we still eliminate gluten? It is often worth a try, because there is a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.</p> <p>If someone does not have celiac disease but suffers from symptoms of gluten sensitivity, an elimination trial of gluten is often helpful for reducing migraine frequency or severity. The reason I suspect is that removing gluten will reduce chances of an inflammatory response that will activate the trigeminal nerves and trigger pain. Gluten elimination for migraines is still experimental.</p> <p>We need to treat the whole person in medicine. This includes looking at potential triggers for headache and doing an elimination diet can be of benefit. There are so many gluten-free products currently on the market, it makes removing gluten from the diet easier.</p> <p><em>Written by <span>Lauren Green, Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Southern California</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/how-does-a-piece-of-bread-cause-a-migraine-126421" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Why do I get a headache when I haven’t had my coffee?

<p>Caffeine is our favourite drug. But if we miss out on our fix, it can be a real headache, in more ways than one.</p> <p>Caffeine is a stimulant. It quickly enters our brain and blocks the (adenosine) receptors that are responsible for dulling brain activity. By blocking the dulling of our brain, we feel a sense of invigoration, focus and subtle euphoria. These feelings can also enhance our performance of certain focused tasks, like driving or staying awake through the whole lecture.</p> <p>This is the upside of caffeine. The downside is how we feel when we are not getting our usual dose. Because of the anticipated highs of brain activity after our cup, the lows without it seem longer and deeper.</p> <p>The other problem is that caffeine is addictive. When we aren’t getting what we’re used to, we can feel tired, inattentive, irritable and moody. This is known as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18625110">withdrawal</a>. Many people regularly drink caffeinated beverages just to avoid feeling this way.</p> <p>By far the most common symptom of caffeine withdrawal is headaches. These are typically mild and short-lived, usually only lasting for a day or two, although they can sometimes last for up to week. They usually feel a bit like a tense band wrapped across your head and are sometimes called <a href="http://headacheaustralia.org.au/headachetypes/tension-type-headache/">tension-type headaches</a> as a result. However, caffeine withdrawal can also trigger a full-on <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975726/">migraine</a> in some sufferers.</p> <p>Why we get headaches with withdrawal (as well as many other causes) is mostly because our face and head is the most active as well as the most sensitive part of our body. For our brain to accurately know what’s happening, the signals it receives from the senses have to be spot on.</p> <p>Any distortion of the signal and the message can become lost in translation, or even result in the wrong message being received. One theory for headaches is our fuzzy brain misinterprets some of the innocuous signals it gets from our head, and calls them a headache.</p> <p>Some level of caffeine withdrawal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=15448977">would be experienced by maybe half</a> of all regular tea or coffee drinkers, if their regular drug supply would be completely cut off. The more we drink and the more regularly we drink caffeine, the more likely we’d experience withdrawal symptoms if we were to go without.</p> <p>However, withdrawal can happen even in people who usually drink just a single cup every day who then forego caffeine. Equally, only <a href="http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/289/1/285.long">three days</a> of continuous coffee drinking is enough to make you feel bad when the coffee runs out.</p> <p>Caffeine withdrawal only occurs with abstinence. Small amounts of caffeine (just a quarter of a cup) will keep the headaches at bay. Even if the espresso machine is broken and you have to have a (half-less caffeinated) latte, you won’t go into withdrawal.</p> <p>But if you’re going cold turkey, withdrawal headaches typically peak <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.395.79&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">a day or two</a> after removing all caffeine from the menu. Withdrawal does not happen within a few hours of the last cup, despite the protestation of the habitual coffee drinker.</p> <p>Of course, if withdrawal is really the problem, the remedy is simple. Any headache caused by lack of caffeine is rapidly and often completely <a href="http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.395.79&amp;rep=rep1&amp;type=pdf">relieved</a> within 30 minutes to an hour of drinking a cup of tea or coffee.</p> <p>Some of this is the fix and the anticipation of it. In fact, Australian <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26933153">researchers</a> have found giving someone experiencing caffeine withdrawal a de-caf, but telling them it’s caffeinated, is enough to make them feel better. Of course this trick won’t work if you buy the coffee yourself.</p> <p>Surprisingly though, caffeine also has some painkiller properties. Simple pain-killers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, aspirin or paracetamol <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655397/">can be more effective</a> when formulated with some caffeine (in each dose about two to three times that in a regular cup of coffee).</p> <p>For <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5018099/#A33193R29">hypnic “alarm clock” headaches</a> that wake sufferers at night, hangover-headaches and some migraine-sufferers, a cup of tea or coffee can be an effective pain-killer on its own.</p> <p>This analgesia is not just because we feel less stressed or less distracted by pain after a cup of tea or coffee. It turns out the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5366829">same adenosine receptors</a> blocked by caffeine are also implicated in the origin of headache as well as other kinds of pain.</p> <p>More than 90% of all adults drink coffee or tea, rousing us from our slumber and providing the revitalising energy to do the things that need to be done. It’s not hard to imagine the headaches without it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/100163/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Merlin Thomas, Professor of Medicine, Monash University</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-why-do-i-get-a-headache-when-i-havent-had-my-coffee-100163" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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What is sodium lauryl sulfate and is it safe to use?

<p>If you’ve ever Googled the causes of a skin complaint or damaged hair, chances are someone on the internet has pointed the finger at SLS, or sodium lauryl (or laureth) sulfate, a common ingredient in beauty products, washes, toothpastes and even cleaning products.</p> <p>So what does this ingredient do, why is it in everything, and what does the evidence say about how safe it is?</p> <h2>Why SLS?</h2> <p>When we use a wash or beauty product on our skin, it’s probably a liquid made of a water phase and an oily phase. As we know, oil and water don’t mix, so something is required to keep the ingredients together.</p> <p>That something is called a surfactant. A surfactant allows the oil and water molecules to bind together – it’s what’s found in soaps and detergents so we can wash our oily faces or dishes with water and get the grime to disappear.</p> <p>Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, and its efficacy, low cost, abundance and simplicity mean it’s used in a variety of cosmetic, dermatological and consumer products.</p> <h2>Is it harmful?</h2> <p>Our skin’s outermost layer is specially designed to keep harmful stuff out, and this is where a surfactant can cause problems. Using a chemical that weakens this defence mechanism can <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/302244511_Sodium_Lauryl_Sulfate_Water_Soluble_Irritant_Dermatitis_Model">potentially cause our skin harm</a>.</p> <p>And some surfactants are more irritating to our skin than others. For something to be harmful, irritant or allergenic, it has to fulfil <a href="https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:719752">two criteria</a>.</p> <p>It has to have been found in studies to irritate human skin, and it has to have the ability to penetrate the skin. SLS ticks both of these boxes.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1034/j.1600-0536.2003.480209.x">Researchers from Germany tested</a> 1,600 patients for SLS irritancy and found 42% of the patients tested had an irritant reaction.</p> <p>Another <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16283906">study</a>, on seven volunteers over a three and a half month period, found regular contact caused irritation, and the irritation subsided once the skin was no longer exposed to SLS.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7758326">Another study found</a> the warmer the water used with SLS, the more irritating it will be.</p> <p>In fact, SLS is so known to cause irritation, it’s used as a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X9091287L">positive control in dermatological testing</a>. That is, new products being tested to see how irritating they might be to human skin are compared to SLS - something we know definitely to be irritating.</p> <p>If a person is sensitive to SLS, they might find the area that has been in contact is red, dry, scaly, itchy or sore.</p> <p>It’s also important to note there’s <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651417/">no scientific evidence</a> SLS causes cancer, despite what you may read on the internet.</p> <h2>So why is it allowed?</h2> <p>So if it’s known to be irritating to human skin, why don’t the regulatory authorities ban its use?</p> <p>For SLS to be considered dangerous, it would have to be in contact with the skin for a long period of time. Generally, with consumer products such as washes that contain SLS, it’s assumed they won’t be on the skin for very long, meaning the chance of your skin being affected is pretty low. So authorities don’t ban its use, but instead cap the maximum percentage at which it can be used in products.</p> <p>This cap varies based on how long the product is likely to be in contact with the skin. So products that will be on the skin for a prolonged time can contain no more than <a href="https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/iig/index.cfm?event=BasicSearch.page">0.05-2.5% SLS</a> in most countries.</p> <p>All consumer and cosmetic product manufacturers are required to conduct thorough testing and include any adverse findings in the form of warnings on their labels. So on products containing SLS, you should see something like “if this product causes any skin redness or irritation, discontinue use and consult a medical practitioner”.</p> <h2>Who should avoid SLS?</h2> <p>People with a history of sensitive skin, hyperirritable skin and patients suffering from skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), rosacea and psoriasis are best to avoid products containing SLS.</p> <p>There are many safer alternatives available (look for fatty alcohol ethoxylate, alkyl phenol ethoxylate or fatty acid alkoxylate on the label). If you think it might be SLS causing a skin irritation, stop the use of the product and ask your pharmacist or GP for advice. Skin care products also have hotline numbers on the packaging that can be contacted to report adverse effects.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/125129/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Yousuf Mohammed, Dermatology researcher, The University of Queensland</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-sodium-lauryl-sulfate-and-is-it-safe-to-use-125129" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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How stress speeds up your chromosomes’ ageing clock

<p>Ageing is an inevitability for all living organisms, and although we still don’t know exactly why our bodies gradually grow ever more decrepit, we are starting to grasp how it happens.</p> <p>Our new research, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ele.13426">published in <em>Ecology Letters</em></a>, pinpoints factors that influence one of the most important aspects of the ageing process, at the fundamental level of our DNA. It suggests how stress can cause the biochemical body clock built into our chromosomes to tick faster.</p> <p>DNA - the genetic material in our cells - does not float freely in cells’ nuclei, but is organised into clumps called chromosomes. When a cell divides and produces a replica of itself, it has to make a copy of its DNA, and because of the way this process works, a tiny portion is always lost at one end of each DNA molecule.</p> <p>To protect vital portions of DNA from being lost in the process, the ends of chromosomes are capped with special sequences called <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/telomere">telomeres</a>. These are gradually whittled away during successive cell divisions.</p> <p>This gradual loss of telomeres acts like a cellular clock: with each replication they get shorter, and at a certain point they become too short, forcing the cell into a programmed death process. The key question is what this process, which plays out on a cellular level, actually means for our mortality. Does the fate of individual cells really matter so much? Does the ticking telomere clock really count down the remaining time our bodies have to live?</p> <p>Cellular ageing is just one of many components of ageing - but it’s one of the most important. Gradual deterioration of our body’s tissues, and the irreversible death of our cells, are responsible for the most conspicuous effects of ageing such as loss of physical fitness, deterioration of connective tissues leading to skin wrinkles, or neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.</p> <h2>What makes us tick?</h2> <p>Another crucial question is: are there factors that speed up or slow down the loss of our ticking telomeres?</p> <p>So far, our answers to this question have been incomplete. Studies have provided glimpses of possible mechanisms, suggesting that things like <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6220/436/tab-figures-data">infections</a> or even <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jeb.12479">dedicating extra energy to reproduction</a> might accelerate telomere shortening and speed up cellular ageing.</p> <p>This evidence is piecemeal, but these factors all seem to have one thing in common: they cause “physiological stress”. Broadly speaking, our cells are stressed when their biochemical processes are disrupted, either by a lack of resources or for some other reason. If cells lose too much water, for example, we might say they are in “dehydration stress”.</p> <p>More familiar types of stress also count. Tiredness and overwork put us under chronic stress, as does feeling anxious for prolonged periods. <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180712141715.htm">Lack of sleep</a> or <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763246/">emotional stress</a> can alter internal cellular pathways, including telomere functioning.</p> <p>With this in mind, we asked ourselves one simple question. Can various types of stress experienced by an individual actually accelerate their rate of ageing?</p> <h2>Stress and strain</h2> <p>In our research, led by my colleague Marion Chatelain of the University of Warsaw (currently University of Innsbruck), we chose to look at this question as broadly as possible. Many studies have looked at this problem in specific species, such as mice, rats, and various fish and bird species (both wild and in the lab). We compiled the available evidence into a summary of the existing knowledge, across all vertebrate organisms studied so far.</p> <p>The emerging picture clearly suggests that telomere loss is profoundly impacted by stress. All else being equal, stress does indeed hasten telomere loss and accelerate the internal cellular clock.</p> <p>Importantly, the type of stress matters: by far the strongest negative impact is caused by pathogen infections, competition for resources, and intensive investment in reproduction.</p> <p>Other stressors, such as poor diet, human disturbance or urban living, also hastened cellular ageing, although to a lesser extent.</p> <h2>Getting radical</h2> <p>A natural question arises: what makes stress exert such a powerful influence on cellular clocks? Is there a single mechanism, or many? Our analysis may have identified one possible candidate: “oxidative stress”.</p> <p>When cells are stressed, this often manifests itself through an accumulation of oxidising molecules, such as <a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-the-untrue-story-of-antioxidants-vs-free-radicals-15920">free radicals</a>. Residing at the exposed ends of our chromosomes, telomeres are perfect targets for attack by these chemically reactive molecules.</p> <p>Our analysis suggests that, regardless of the type of stress experienced, this oxidative stress might be the actual biochemical process that links stress and telomere loss. As to whether this means that we should eat more <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/antioxidant">antioxidants</a> to guard our telomeres, this certainly requires more research.</p> <p>I know what you’re wondering: does this mean we have discovered the secret of ageing? Can we use this knowledge to slow the ageing process or stop it in its tracks? The short answer is: no.</p> <p>Ageing is too fundamental to our biology to get rid of it completely. But our study does underline an important truth: by reducing stress, we can do our bodies a big favour.</p> <p>In the modern world, it is hard to escape stress completely, but we can make everyday decisions to reduce it. Get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat healthily and don’t push yourself too hard. It won’t buy you eternal life, but it should keep your cells ticking along nicely.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The author thanks his colleagues <a href="https://www.uibk.ac.at/ecology/staff/persons/chatelain.html.en">Marion Chatelain</a> and <a href="https://cent.uw.edu.pl/en/person/prof-marta-szulkin/">Marta Szulkin</a> for their contributions to this article and the research on which it is based.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/127728/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Written by <span>Szymek Drobniak, DECRA Fellow, UNSW</span>. Republished with permission of </em><a rel="noopener" href="https://theconversation.com/tick-tock-how-stress-speeds-up-your-chromosomes-ageing-clock-127728" target="_blank"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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Why it's never too late to explore alternative and holistic medicine

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the growing popularity of alternative and holistic medicine, you may be wondering if it’s something you should try. Science is showing that alternative medicine is a great way to maintain your health and relieve chronic pain. Many types of alternative treatments can also help to keep relieve certain medical conditions and they can often be used in conjunction with your current treatment plan. Here’s why it’s never too late to explore alternative and holistic medicine, no matter what stage of life you’re in.</span></p> <h2>Reasons to consider alternative and holistic medicine</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are many reasons to consider making the switch to alternative and holistic medicine. First, it may help you manage your medical expenses by reducing your need for expensive prescription medications. With alternative therapies, you may even be able to reduce the frequency of your visits to your conventional doctor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Generally, alternative care focuses on one-on-one appointments that are much more personal than seeing a conventional doctor. Alternative practitioners usually treat the patient holistically, which means they work to improve physical symptoms, their underlying causes, and your mental health.</span></p> <h2>Types of alternative medicine to try</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are several forms of alternative and holistic medicine that can be very helpful at any stage of life. Here are some you may want to consider:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Herbal and Nutritional Supplements</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many people are familiar with herbal and nutritional supplements and they can be very helpful for a variety of conditions. Herbs can often be used in conjunction with or in place of certain prescription medications. Nutritional supplements may also help to prevent diseases that become more prevalent as you get older, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In fact, </span><a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol-lowering-supplements/art-20050980"><span style="font-weight: 400;">experts at the Mayo Clinic</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> report that dietary supplements can even be used to lower your cholesterol levels.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chiropractic Care</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chronic back and neck pain are a major issue for people of all ages. Conventional treatments often involve medications that have harmful side effects or even invasive surgery. As you age, the risk of surgery and anesthesia increases, especially if you have kidney or liver problems, so trying alternative treatments first only makes sense. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chiropractic care is a hands-on therapy that involves manipulating the spine and joints to realign the body. It can be a safe and non-invasive way to get relief for neck and back pain, headaches and chronic pain issues.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acupuncture</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Acupuncture has been used to treat maintain health, treat a variety of diseases, and treat chronic pain for centuries. </span><a href="https://www.yinovacenter.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Yinova Center acupuncture in New York City</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> recommends acupuncture treatments for people of all ages who want to relieve pain or treat medical conditions without pharmaceuticals or invasive treatment. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The treatment works by encouraging the release of certain chemicals into the bloodstream by inserting ultra-fine needles into the skin. Acupuncture is also great for relieving stress, anxiety, and depression.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Massage Therapy</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Massage therapy, much like acupuncture and chiropractic care, is a type of hands-on, safe, and non-invasive alternative medicine. Massage is great for improving circulation and relieving pain. It’s especially beneficial for people who can’t be active due to certain medical conditions. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Massage can also be extremely beneficial for reducing stress. It’s a very relaxing experience and the health benefits can be boosted by the addition of certain essential oils. For example, peppermint and lavender essential oils are extremely helpful for relieving headaches, relaxing muscles, and reducing stress.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Naturopathy</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><a href="https://www.lifestylephysicians.com/six-incredible-benefits-of-naturopathic-medicine"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Naturopathy</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> is a form of lifestyle medicine that focuses on restoring the physical, psychological, and structural balance of the patient. They focus on using the healing powers of nature, such as sunshine and fresh air, to improve the health of the patient. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Naturopathic physicians utilize a variety of therapies depending on the patient’s needs, which may include nutrition, herbs, acupuncture, massage and much more. Although naturopathy isn’t as mainstream as some other forms of alternative medicine, it has been successfully used to reduce the symptoms of fatigue, stress, headaches, chronic back pain and more.</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"> <h3><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yoga</span></h3> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While it’s true that yoga isn’t technically a form of medicine, it is an alternative therapy that has significant benefits as you age. If you struggle with joint pain, arthritis, balance issues, or stress, yoga can be especially beneficial. Practicing yoga regularly will improve your balance and stability by strengthening your muscles and improving your flexibility. It can also lower your blood pressure and improve your heart healthy by </span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25177555"><span style="font-weight: 400;">reducing oxidative stress</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, which is one of the leading risk factors of heart attacks.</span></p> <h2>Choosing an alternative healthcare provider</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you decide to give alternative medicine a try, be sure to talk with your doctor first. Certain nutritional or herbal supplements can interfere with prescription medications and there may be other things to consider as well. Your doctor will know what’s safe and what isn’t, depending on your current health condition.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When choosing an alternative healthcare provider, be sure they are properly licensed to work in your state. Ask for recommendations from friends and family to see if they have any recommendations. It’s very important that you’re comfortable talking to the practitioner that you choose because alternative medicine is very personalized.</span></p> <h2>Final thoughts</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Alternative and holistic medicine can be a safe and effective way to complement your current healthcare regimen at any age. As acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care all become more mainstream, they are more likely to be covered by your health insurance as well. If you want to improve your health without pharmaceuticals or invasive treatments, these therapies are certainly worth trying.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Donna Maurer is a content creator and a former writer for an alternative medicine clinic.</span></em></p>

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