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Cost of living: if you can’t afford as much fresh produce, are canned veggies or frozen fruit just as good?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250">Evangeline Mantzioris</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>The cost of living crisis is affecting how we spend our money. For many people, this means tightening the budget on the weekly supermarket shop.</p> <p>One victim may be fresh fruit and vegetables. Data from the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/australians-consuming-fewer-vegetables-fruit-and-less-milk#:%7E:text=Paul%20Atyeo%2C%20ABS%20health%20statistics,278%20to%20267%20to%20grams.%E2%80%9D">Australian Bureau of Statistics</a> (ABS) suggests Australians were consuming fewer fruit and vegetables in 2022–23 than the year before.</p> <p>The cost of living is likely compounding a problem that exists already – on the whole, Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating">Australian dietary guidelines</a> recommend people aged nine and older should consume <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/fruit">two</a> serves of fruit and <a href="https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups/vegetables-and-legumes-beans">five</a> serves of vegetables each day for optimal health. But in 2022 the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/health-conditions-and-risks/dietary-behaviour/latest-release">ABS reported</a> only 4% of Australians met the recommendations for both fruit and vegetable consumption.</p> <p>Fruit and vegetables are crucial for a healthy, balanced diet, providing a range of <a href="https://theconversation.com/were-told-to-eat-a-rainbow-of-fruit-and-vegetables-heres-what-each-colour-does-in-our-body-191337">vitamins</a> and minerals as well as fibre.</p> <p>If you can’t afford as much fresh produce at the moment, there are other ways to ensure you still get the benefits of these food groups. You might even be able to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables.</p> <h2>Frozen</h2> <p>Fresh produce is often touted as being the most nutritious (think of the old adage “fresh is best”). But this is not necessarily true.</p> <p>Nutrients can decline in transit from the paddock to your kitchen, and while the produce is stored in your fridge. Frozen vegetables may actually be higher in some nutrients such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25526594/">vitamin C and E</a> as they are snap frozen very close to the time of harvest. Variations in transport and storage can affect this slightly.</p> <p><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf504890k">Minerals</a> such as calcium, iron and magnesium stay at similar levels in frozen produce compared to fresh.</p> <p>Another advantage to frozen vegetables and fruit is the potential to reduce food waste, as you can use only what you need at the time.</p> <p>As well as buying frozen fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, you can freeze produce yourself at home if you have an oversupply from the garden, or when produce may be cheaper.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.growveg.com.au/guides/freezing-vegetables-and-herbs-the-garden-foodie-version/">quick blanching</a> prior to freezing can improve the safety and quality of the produce. This is when food is briefly submerged in boiling water or steamed for a short time.</p> <p>Frozen vegetables won’t be suitable for salads but can be eaten roasted or steamed and used for soups, stews, casseroles, curries, pies and quiches. Frozen fruits can be added to breakfast dishes (with cereal or youghurt) or used in cooking for fruit pies and cakes, for example.</p> <h2>Canned</h2> <p>Canned vegetables and fruit similarly often offer a cheaper alternative to fresh produce. They’re also very convenient to have on hand. The <a href="https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can#gsc.tab=0">canning process</a> is the preservation technique, so there’s no need to add any additional preservatives, including salt.</p> <p>Due to the cooking process, levels of heat-sensitive nutrients <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jsfa.2825">such as vitamin C</a> will decline a little compared to fresh produce. When you’re using canned vegetables in a hot dish, you can add them later in the cooking process to reduce the amount of nutrient loss.</p> <p>To minimise waste, you can freeze the portion you don’t need.</p> <h2>Fermented</h2> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/">Fermentation</a> has recently come into fashion, but it’s actually one of the oldest food processing and preservation techniques.</p> <p>Fermentation largely retains the vitamins and minerals in fresh vegetables. But fermentation may also enhance the food’s nutritional profile by creating new nutrients and allowing existing ones to be <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9352655/">absorbed more easily</a>.</p> <p>Further, fermented foods contain probiotics, which are beneficial for our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10051273/">gut microbiome</a>.</p> <h2>5 other tips to get your fresh fix</h2> <p>Although alternatives to fresh such as canned or frozen fruit and vegetables are good substitutes, if you’re looking to get more fresh produce into your diet on a tight budget, here are some things you can do.</p> <p><strong>1. Buy in season</strong></p> <p>Based on supply and demand principles, buying local seasonal vegetables and fruit will always be cheaper than those that are imported out of season from other countries.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t shun the ugly fruit and vegetables</strong></p> <p>Most supermarkets now sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables, that are not physically perfect in some way. This does not affect the levels of nutrients in them at all, or their taste.</p> <p><strong>3. Reduce waste</strong></p> <p>On average, an Australian household throws out <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">A$2,000–$2,500</a> worth of food every year. Fruit, vegetables and bagged salad are the <a href="https://www.ozharvest.org/food-waste-facts/">three of the top five foods</a> thrown out in our homes. So properly managing fresh produce could help you save money (and benefit <a href="https://endfoodwaste.com.au/why-end-food-waste/">the environment</a>).</p> <p>To minimise waste, plan your meals and shopping ahead of time. And if you don’t think you’re going to get to eat the fruit and vegetables you have before they go off, freeze them.</p> <p><strong>4. Swap and share</strong></p> <p>There are many websites and apps which offer the opportunity to swap or even pick up free fresh produce if people have more than they need. Some <a href="https://www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/environment/sustainable-lifestyles/community-fruit-and-vege-swaps">local councils are also encouraging</a> swaps on their websites, so dig around and see what you can find in your local area.</p> <p><strong>5. Gardening</strong></p> <p>Regardless of how small your garden is you can always <a href="https://www.gardeningaustraliamag.com.au/best-vegies-grow-pots/">plant produce in pots</a>. Herbs, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chillies and strawberries all grow well. In the long run, these will offset some of your cost on fresh produce.</p> <p>Plus, when you have put the effort in to grow your own produce, <a href="https://mdpi-res.com/sustainability/sustainability-07-02695/article_deploy/sustainability-07-02695.pdf?version=1425549154">you are less likely to waste it</a>.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229724/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/evangeline-mantzioris-153250"><em>Evangeline Mantzioris</em></a><em>, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/cost-of-living-if-you-cant-afford-as-much-fresh-produce-are-canned-veggies-or-frozen-fruit-just-as-good-229724">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Exercise, therapy and diet can all improve life during cancer treatment and boost survival. Here’s how

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-newton-12124">Rob Newton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>With so many high-profile people <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/mar/23/cancer-charities-princess-of-wales-speaking-about-diagnosis">diagnosed with cancer</a> we are confronted with the stark reality the disease can strike any of us at any time. There are also reports certain cancers are <a href="https://www.cancer.org/research/acs-research-news/facts-and-figures-2024.html">increasing among younger people</a> in their 30s and 40s.</p> <p>On the positive side, medical treatments for cancer are advancing very rapidly. Survival rates are <a href="https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.21763">improving greatly</a> and some cancers are now being managed more as <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/long-term-health-concerns/cancer-as-a-chronic-illness.html">long-term chronic diseases</a> rather than illnesses that will rapidly claim a patient’s life.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/managing-cancer/treatment-types.html">mainstays of cancer treatment</a> remain surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy. But there are other treatments and strategies – “adjunct” or supportive cancer care – that can have a powerful impact on a patient’s quality of life, survival and experience during cancer treatment.</p> <h2>Keep moving if you can</h2> <p>Physical exercise is now recognised as a <a href="https://www.exerciseismedicine.org/">medicine</a>. It can be tailored to the patient and their health issues to stimulate the body and build an internal environment where <a href="https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/tre.884">cancer is less likely to flourish</a>. It does this in a number of ways.</p> <p>Exercise provides a strong stimulus to our immune system, increasing the number of cancer-fighting immune cells in our blood circulation and infusing these into the tumour tissue <a href="https://jitc.bmj.com/content/9/7/e001872">to identify and kill cancer cells</a>.</p> <p>Our skeletal muscles (those attached to bone for movement) release signalling molecules called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7288608/">myokines</a>. The larger the muscle mass, the more myokines are released – even when a person is at rest. However, during and immediately after bouts of exercise, a further surge of myokines is secreted into the bloodstream. Myokines attach to immune cells, stimulating them to be better “hunter-killers”. Myokines also signal directly to cancer cells <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254623001175">slowing their growth and causing cell death</a>.</p> <p>Exercise can also greatly <a href="https://wchh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/tre.884">reduce the side effects of cancer treatment</a> such as fatigue, muscle and bone loss, and fat gain. And it reduces the risk of <a href="https://doi.org/10.2337/diacare.27.7.1812">developing other chronic diseases</a> such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Exercise can maintain or improve quality of life and mental health <a href="https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tbj/2022/9921575/">for patients with cancer</a>.</p> <p>Emerging research evidence indicates exercise might increase the effectiveness of mainstream treatments such as <a href="https://aacrjournals.org/cancerres/article/81/19/4889/670308/Effects-of-Exercise-on-Cancer-Treatment-Efficacy-A">chemotherapy</a> and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41391-020-0245-z">radiation therapy</a>. Exercise is certainly essential for preparing the patient for any surgery to increase cardio-respiratory fitness, reduce systemic inflammation, and increase muscle mass, strength and physical function, and then <a href="https://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440(18)31270-2/fulltext">rehabilitating them after surgery</a>.</p> <p>These mechanisms explain why cancer patients who are physically active have much <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2019/06000/physical_activity_in_cancer_prevention_and.20.aspx">better survival outcomes</a> with the relative risk of death from cancer <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/fulltext/2019/06000/physical_activity_in_cancer_prevention_and.20.aspx">reduced by as much as 40–50%</a>.</p> <h2>Mental health helps</h2> <p>The second “tool” which has a major role in cancer management is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016045/">psycho-oncology</a>. It involves the psychological, social, behavioural and emotional aspects of cancer for not only the patient but also their carers and family. The aim is to maintain or improve quality of life and mental health aspects such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression, sexual health, coping strategies, personal identity and relationships.</p> <p>Supporting quality of life and happiness is important on their own, but these barometers <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1349880/full">can also impact</a> a patient’s physical health, response to exercise medicine, resilience to disease and to treatments.</p> <p>If a patient is highly distressed or anxious, their body can enter a flight or fight response. This creates an internal environment that is actually supportive of cancer progression <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/stress-fact-sheet">through hormonal and inflammatory mechanisms</a>. So it’s essential their mental health is supported.</p> <h2>Putting the good things in: diet</h2> <p>A third therapy in the supportive cancer care toolbox is diet. A healthy diet <a href="https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/coping/nutrition/benefits.html">can support the body</a> to fight cancer and help it tolerate and recover from medical or surgical treatments.</p> <p>Inflammation provides a more fertile environment <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2022/reducing-inflammation-to-treat-cancer">for cancer cells</a>. If a patient is overweight with excessive fat tissue then a diet to reduce fat which is also anti-inflammatory can be very helpful. This <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.709435/full">generally means</a> avoiding processed foods and eating predominantly fresh food, locally sourced and mostly plant based.</p> <p>Muscle loss is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rco2.56">a side effect of all cancer treatments</a>. Resistance training exercise can help but people may need protein supplements or diet changes to make sure they get enough protein to build muscle. Older age and cancer treatments may reduce both the intake of protein and compromise absorption so <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561421005422">supplementation may be indicated</a>.</p> <p>Depending on the cancer and treatment, some patients may require highly specialised diet therapy. Some cancers such as pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and lung cancer can cause rapid and uncontrolled drops in body weight. This is called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8233663/">cachexia and needs careful management</a>.</p> <p>Other cancers and treatments such as hormone therapy can cause rapid weight gain. This also needs careful monitoring and guidance so that, when a patient is clear of cancer, they are not left with higher risks of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that boost your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes).</p> <h2>Working as a team</h2> <p>These are three of the most powerful tools in the supportive care toolbox for people with cancer. None of them are “cures” for cancer, alone or together. But they can work in tandem with medical treatments to greatly improve outcomes for patients.</p> <p>If you or someone you care about has cancer, national and state cancer councils and cancer-specific organisations can provide support.</p> <p>For exercise medicine support it is best to consult with an <a href="https://www.essa.org.au/Public/Public/Consumer_Information/What_is_an_Accredited_Exercise_Physiologist_.aspx">accredited exercise physiologist</a>, for diet therapy an <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/working-dietetics/standards-and-scope/role-accredited-practising-dietitian">accredited practising dietitian</a> and mental health support with a <a href="https://psychology.org.au/psychology/about-psychology/what-is-psychology">registered psychologist</a>. Some of these services are supported through Medicare on referral from a general practitioner.</p> <hr /> <p><em>For free and confidential cancer support call the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/support-and-services/cancer-council-13-11-20">Cancer Council</a> on 13 11 20.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226720/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rob-newton-12124">Rob Newton</a>, Professor of Exercise Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-therapy-and-diet-can-all-improve-life-during-cancer-treatment-and-boost-survival-heres-how-226720">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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Menopause can bring increased cholesterol levels and other heart risks. Here’s why and what to do about it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/treasure-mcguire-135225">Treasure McGuire</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years, typically between 45 and 55. As women approach or experience menopause, common “change of life” <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9244939/">concerns</a> include hot flushes, sweats and mood swings, brain fog and fatigue.</p> <p>But many women may not be aware of the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32705886/">long-term effects</a> of menopause on the heart and blood vessels that make up the cardiovascular system. Heart disease accounts for <a href="http://world-heart-federation.org/what-we-do/women-cvd/">35% of deaths</a> in women each year – more than all cancers combined.</p> <p>What should women – and their doctors – know about these risks?</p> <h2>Hormones protect hearts – until they don’t</h2> <p>As early as 1976, the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/970770/">Framingham Heart Study</a> reported more than twice the rates of cardiovascular events in postmenopausal than pre-menopausal women of the same age. Early menopause (younger than age 40) also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25331207/">increases heart risk</a>.</p> <p>Before menopause, women tend to be protected by their circulating hormones: oestrogen, to a lesser extent progesterone and low levels of testosterone.</p> <p>These sex hormones help to relax and dilate blood vessels, reduce inflammation and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10503403/">improve lipid (cholesterol) levels</a>. From the mid-40s, a decline in these hormone levels can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10362825/">contribute to unfavourable changes</a> in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight gain – all risk factors for heart disease.</p> <h2>4 ways hormone changes impact heart risk</h2> <p><strong>1. Dyslipidaemia</strong>– Menopause often involves <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002671/">atherogenic changes</a> – an unhealthy imbalance of lipids in the blood, with higher levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C), dubbed the “bad” cholesterol. There are also reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C) – the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL-C from blood. These changes are a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10503403/">major risk factor for heart attack or stroke</a>.</p> <p><strong>2. Hypertension</strong> – Declines in oestrogen and progesterone levels during menopause contribute to narrowing of the large blood vessels on the heart’s surface, arterial stiffness and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35722103/">raise blood pressure</a>.</p> <p><strong>3. Weight gain</strong> – Females are born with one to two million eggs, which develop in follicles. By the time they <a href="https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/fertility-information/getting-pregnant/ovulation-and-conception">stop ovulating</a> in midlife, fewer than 1,000 remain. This depletion progressively changes fat distribution and storage, from the hips to the waist and abdomen. Increased waist circumference (greater than 80–88 cm) has been <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18359190/">reported to contribute to heart risk</a> – though it is <a href="https://theconversation.com/good-news-midlife-health-is-about-more-than-a-waist-measurement-heres-why-226019">not the only factor to consider</a>.</p> <p><strong>4. Comorbidities</strong> – Changes in body composition, sex hormone decline, increased food consumption, weight gain and sedentary lifestyles impair the body’s ability to effectively use insulin. This <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11133069/">increases the risk</a> of developing metabolic syndromes such as type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>While risk factors apply to both genders, hypertension, smoking, obesity and type 2 diabetes confer a greater relative risk for heart disease in women.</p> <h2>So, what can women do?</h2> <p>Every woman has a different level of baseline cardiovascular and metabolic risk pre-menopause. This is based on their genetics and family history, diet, and lifestyle. But all women can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8351755/">reduce their post-menopause heart risk with</a>:</p> <ul> <li>regular moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking, pushing a lawn mower, riding a bike or water aerobics for 30 minutes, four or five times every week</li> <li>a healthy heart diet with smaller portion sizes (try using a smaller plate or bowl) and more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains</li> <li>plant sterols (unrefined vegetable oil spreads, nuts, seeds and grains) each day. A review of 14 clinical trials found plant sterols, at doses of at least 2 grams a day, produced an average reduction in serum LDL-C (bad cholesterol) of about 9–14%. This could reduce the risk of heart disease by <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10731187/">25% in two years</a></li> <li>less unhealthy (saturated or trans) fats and more low-fat protein sources (lean meat, poultry, fish – especially oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids), legumes and low-fat dairy</li> <li>less high-calorie, high-sodium foods such as processed or fast foods</li> <li>a reduction or cessation of smoking (nicotine or cannabis) and alcohol</li> <li>weight-gain management or prevention.</li> </ul> <h2>What about hormone therapy medications?</h2> <p>Hormone therapy remains the most effective means of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15495039/">managing hot flushes and night sweats</a> and is beneficial for <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18418063/">slowing the loss of bone mineral density</a>.</p> <p>The decision to recommend oestrogen alone or a combination of oestrogen plus progesterone hormone therapy depends on whether a woman has had a hysterectomy or not. The choice also depends on whether the hormone therapy benefit outweighs the woman’s disease risks. Where symptoms are bothersome, hormone therapy has <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33841322/">favourable or neutral effects on coronary heart disease risk</a> and medication risks are low for healthy women younger than 60 or within ten years of menopause.</p> <p>Depending on the level of stroke or heart risk and the response to lifestyle strategies, some women may also require medication management to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8351755/">control high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels</a>. Up until the early 2000s, women were underrepresented in most outcome trials with lipid-lowering medicines.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25579834/">Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ Collaboration</a> analysed 27 clinical trials of statins (medications commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol) with a total of 174,000 participants, of whom 27% were women. Statins were about as effective in women and men who had similar risk of heart disease in preventing events such as stroke and heart attack.</p> <p>Every woman approaching menopause should ask their GP for a 20-minute <a href="https://www.health.gov.au/news/heart-health">Heart Health Check</a> to help better understand their risk of a heart attack or stroke and get tailored strategies to reduce it.</p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/treasure-mcguire-135225">Treasure McGuire</a>, Assistant Director of Pharmacy, Mater Health SEQ in conjoint appointment as Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Bond University and as Associate Professor (Clinical), <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/menopause-can-bring-increased-cholesterol-levels-and-other-heart-risks-heres-why-and-what-to-do-about-it-228010">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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I can’t afford olive oil. What else can I use?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>If you buy your olive oil in bulk, you’ve likely been in for a shock in recent weeks. Major supermarkets have been selling olive oil for up to A$65 for a four-litre tin, and up to $26 for a 750 millilitre bottle.</p> <p>We’ve been hearing about the health benefits of olive oil for years. And many of us are adding it to salads, or baking and frying with it.</p> <p>But during a cost-of-living crisis, these high prices can put olive oil out of reach.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at why olive oil is in demand, why it’s so expensive right now, and what to do until prices come down.</p> <h2>Remind me, why is olive oil so good for you?</h2> <p>Including olive oil in your diet can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve heart health through more favourable <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1548">blood pressure</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/9/5356">inflammation</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475319302662">cholesterol levels</a>.</p> <p>This is largely because olive oil is high in <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/4/12/1989">monounsaturated fatty acids</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300823/">polyphenols</a> (antioxidants).</p> <p>Some researchers have suggested you can get these benefits from consuming up to <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.1041203/full">20 grams a day</a>. That’s equivalent to about five teaspoons of olive oil.</p> <h2>Why is olive oil so expensive right now?</h2> <p>A European heatwave and drought have <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2024-04-27/olive-oil-alternatives-what-you-can-use-in-cooking/103761718">limited</a> Spanish and Italian producers’ ability to supply olive oil to international markets, including Australia.</p> <p>This has been coupled with an unusually cold and short growing season for Australian <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2023-08-02/record-olive-oil-price-set-to-increase-again/102675452">olive oil suppliers</a>.</p> <p>The lower-than-usual production and supply of olive oil, together with heightened demand from shoppers, means prices have gone up.</p> <h2>How can I make my olive oil go further?</h2> <p>Many households buy olive oil in large quantities because it is cheaper per litre. So, if you have some still in stock, you can make it go further by:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>storing it correctly</strong> – make sure the lid is on tightly and it’s kept in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet. If stored this way, olive oil can typically last <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218649/">12–18 months</a></p> </li> <li> <p><strong>using a spray</strong> – sprays distribute oil more evenly than pourers, using less olive oil overall. You could buy a spray bottle to fill from a large tin, as needed</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>straining or freezing it</strong> – if you have leftover olive oil after frying, strain it and reuse it for other fried dishes. You could also freeze this used oil in an airtight container, then thaw and fry with it later, without affecting the oil’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-022-04078-9">taste and other characteristics</a>. But for dressings, only use fresh oil.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>I’ve run out of olive oil. What else can I use?</h2> <p>Here are some healthy and cheaper alternatives to olive oil:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>canola oil</strong> is a good alternative for frying. It’s relatively <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/canola-oil">low</a> in saturated fat so is generally considered healthy. Like olive oil, it is high in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23731447/">healthy monounsaturated fats</a>. Cost? Up to $6 for a 750mL bottle (home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sunflower oil</strong> is a great alternative to use on salads or for frying. It has a mild flavour that does not overwhelm other ingredients. Some <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/conjugated-linoleic-acid-versus-higholeic-acid-sunflower-oil-effects-on-energy-metabolism-glucose-tolerance-blood-lipids-appetite-and-body-composition-in-regularly-exercising-individuals/6C035B5C6E9FD7C9D6D7F806ADA56983">studies</a> suggest using sunflower oil may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Cost? Up to $6.50 for a 750mL bottle (again, home brand is about half the price)</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>sesame oil</strong> has a nutty flavour. It’s good for Asian dressings, and frying. Light sesame oil is typically used as a neutral cooking oil, while the toasted type is used to flavour sauces. Sesame oil is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.6428">high in</a> antioxidants and has some anti-inflammatory properties. Sesame oil is generally sold in smaller bottles than canola or sunflower oil. Cost? Up to $5 for a 150mL bottle.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How can I use less oil, generally?</h2> <p>Using less oil in your cooking could keep your meals healthy. Here are some alternatives and cooking techniques:</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>use alternatives for baking</strong> – unless you are making an olive oil cake, if your recipe calls for a large quantity of oil, try using an alternative such as apple sauce, Greek yoghurt or mashed banana</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use non-stick cookware</strong> – using high-quality, non-stick pots and pans reduces the need for oil when cooking, or means you don’t need oil at all</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>steam instead</strong> – steam vegetables, fish and poultry to retain nutrients and moisture without adding oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>bake or roast</strong> – potatoes, vegetables or chicken can be baked or roasted rather than fried. You can still achieve crispy textures without needing excessive oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>grill</strong> – the natural fats in meat and vegetables can help keep ingredients moist, without using oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use stock</strong> – instead of sautéing vegetables in oil, try using vegetable broth or stock to add flavour</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>try vinegar or citrus</strong> – use vinegar or citrus juice (such as lemon or lime) to add flavour to salads, marinades and sauces without relying on oil</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>use natural moisture</strong> – use the natural moisture in ingredients such as tomatoes, onions and mushrooms to cook dishes without adding extra oil. They release moisture as they cook, helping to prevent sticking.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228788/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> </li> </ul> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lauren-ball-14718">Lauren Ball</a>, Professor of Community Health and Wellbeing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emily-burch-438717">Emily Burch</a>, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-cant-afford-olive-oil-what-else-can-i-use-228788">original article</a>.</em></p>

Food & Wine

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Yes, adults can develop food allergies. Here are 4 types you need to know about

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316">Clare Collins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p>If you didn’t have food allergies as a child, is it possible to develop them as an adult? The short answer is yes. But the reasons why are much more complicated.</p> <p>Preschoolers are about <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">four times more likely to have a food allergy</a> than adults and are more likely to grow out of it as they get older.</p> <p>It’s hard to get accurate figures on adult food allergy prevalence. The Australian National Allergy Council reports <a href="https://nationalallergycouncil.org.au/about-us/our-strategy">one in 50 adults</a> have food allergies. But a US survey suggested as many as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">one in ten adults</a> were allergic to at least one food, with some developing allergies in adulthood.</p> <h2>What is a food allergy</h2> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">Food allergies</a> are immune reactions involving <a href="https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/allergy,-asthma-immunology-glossary/immunoglobulin-e-(ige)-defined">immunoglobulin E (IgE)</a> – an antibody that’s central to triggering allergic responses. These are known as “IgE-mediated food allergies”.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms that are <em>not</em> mediated by IgE are usually delayed reactions and called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">food intolerances or hypersensitivity</a>.</p> <p>Food allergy symptoms can include hives, swelling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, throat or chest tightening, trouble breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, dizziness, low blood pressure or <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/acute-management-of-anaphylaxis-guidelines?highlight=WyJhbmFwaHlsYXhpcyJd">anaphylaxis</a>.</p> <p>IgE-mediated food allergies can be life threatening, so all adults need an <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/newly-diagnosed/action-plan-essentials">action management plan</a> developed in consultation with their medical team.</p> <p>Here are four IgE-mediated food allergies that can occur in adults – from relatively common ones to rare allergies you’ve probably never heard of.</p> <h2>1. Single food allergies</h2> <p>The most <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">common IgE-mediated food allergies</a> in adults in a US survey were to:</p> <ul> <li>shellfish (2.9%)</li> <li>cow’s milk (1.9%)</li> <li>peanut (1.8%)</li> <li>tree nuts (1.2%)</li> <li>fin fish (0.9%) like barramundi, snapper, salmon, cod and perch.</li> </ul> <p>In these adults, about 45% reported reacting to multiple foods.</p> <p>This compares to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25316115/">most common childhood food allergies</a>: cow’s milk, egg, peanut and soy.</p> <p>Overall, adult food allergy prevalence appears to be increasing. Compared to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14657884/">older surveys published in 2003</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15241360/">2004</a>, peanut allergy prevalence has increased about three-fold (from 0.6%), while tree nuts and fin fish roughly doubled (from 0.5% each), with shellfish similar (2.5%).</p> <p>While new <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">adult-onset food allergies are increasing</a>, childhood-onset food allergies are also more likely to be retained into adulthood. Possible reasons for both <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38214821/">include</a> low vitamin D status, lack of immune system challenges due to being overly “clean”, heightened sensitisation due to allergen avoidance, and more frequent antibiotic use.</p> <h2>2. Tick-meat allergy</h2> <p>Tick-meat allergy, also called α-Gal syndrome or mammalian meat allergy, is an allergic reaction to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or α-Gal for short.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33529984/">Australian immunologists first reported</a> links between α-Gal syndrome and tick bites in 2009, with cases also reported in the United States, Japan, Europe and South Africa. The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">US Centers for Disease Control estimates</a> about 450,000 Americans <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7230a2.htm">could be affected</a>.</p> <p>The α-Gal contains a carbohydrate molecule that is bound to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38318181/">protein</a> molecule in <a href="https://alphagalinformation.org/what-is-a-mammal/">mammals</a>.</p> <p>The IgE-mediated allergy is triggered after repeated bites from ticks or <a href="https://www.insectshield.com/pages/chiggers">chigger mites</a> that have bitten those mammals. When tick saliva crosses into your body through the bite, antibodies to α-Gal are produced.</p> <p>When you subsequently eat foods that contain α-Gal, the allergy is triggered. These triggering foods include meat (lamb, beef, pork, rabbit, kangaroo), dairy products (yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, cream), <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin">animal-origin gelatin</a> added to gummy foods (jelly, lollies, marshmallow), prescription medications and over-the counter supplements containing gelatin (<a href="https://www.drugs.com/inactive/gelatin-57.html">some antibiotics, vitamins and other supplements</a>).</p> <p>Tick-meat allergy reactions can be hard to recognise because they’re usually delayed, and they can be severe and include anaphylaxis. Allergy <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/mammalian-meat-tick-faq">organisations produce management guidelines</a>, so always discuss management with your doctor.</p> <h2>3. Fruit-pollen allergy</h2> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy, called pollen food allergy syndrome, is an <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">IgE-mediated allergic reaction</a>.</p> <p>In susceptible adults, pollen in the air provokes the production of IgE antibodies to antigens in the pollen, but these antigens are similar to ones found in some fruits, vegetables and herbs. The problem is that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">eating those plants</a> triggers an allergic reaction.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">most allergenic tree pollens</a> are from birch, cypress, Japanese cedar, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/latex-allergy">latex</a>, grass, and ragweed. Their pollen can cross-react with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">fruit and vegetables</a>, including kiwi, banana, mango, avocado, grapes, celery, carrot and potato, and some herbs such as caraway, coriander, fennel, pepper and paprika.</p> <p>Fruit-pollen allergy is not common. Prevalence <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38002141/">estimates are between 0.03% and 8%</a> depending on the country, but it can be life-threatening. Reactions range from itching or tingling of lips, mouth, tongue and throat, called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20306812/">oral allergy syndrome</a>, to mild <a href="https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/skin-allergy/urticaria-hives">hives</a>, to anaphylaxis.</p> <h2>4. Food-dependent, exercise-induced food allergy</h2> <p>During heavy exercise, the stomach produces less acid than usual and gut permeability increases, meaning that small molecules in your gut are more likely to escape across the membrane into your blood. These include food molecules that trigger an IgE reaction.</p> <p>If the person already has IgE antibodies to the foods eaten before exercise, then the risk of triggering food allergy reactions is increased. This allergy is called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37893663/">food-dependent exercise-induced allergy</a>, with symptoms ranging from hives and swelling, to difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30601082/">Common trigger foods include</a> wheat, seafood, meat, poultry, egg, milk, nuts, grapes, celery and other foods, which could have been eaten many hours before exercising.</p> <p>To complicate things even further, allergic <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33181008/">reactions can</a> occur at lower levels of trigger-food exposure, and be more severe if the person is simultaneously taking non-steroidal inflammatory medications like aspirin, drinking alcohol or is sleep-deprived.</p> <p>Food-dependent exercise-induced allergy is extremely rare. Surveys have estimated prevalence as between <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1555415517300259">one to 17 cases per 1,000 people worldwide</a> with the highest prevalence between the teenage years to age 35. Those affected often have other allergic conditions such as hay fever, asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and dermatitis.</p> <h2>Allergies are a growing burden</h2> <p>The <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36509408/">burden on physical health, psychological health</a> and health costs due to food allergy is increasing. In the US, this <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38393624/">financial burden was estimated as $24 billion per year</a>.</p> <p>Adult food allergy needs to be taken seriously and those with severe symptoms should wear a medical information bracelet or chain and carry an <a href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-to-use-an-adrenaline-autoinjector-epipen-anapen">adrenaline auto-injector pen</a>. Concerningly, surveys suggest only <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30646188/">about one in four adults</a> with food allergy have an adrenaline pen.</p> <p>If you have an IgE-mediated food allergy, discuss your management plan with your doctor. You can also find more information at <a href="https://allergyfacts.org.au/">Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia</a>.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223342/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/clare-collins-7316"><em>Clare Collins</em></a><em>, Laureate Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-newcastle-1060">University of Newcastle</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-adults-can-develop-food-allergies-here-are-4-types-you-need-to-know-about-223342">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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What are heart rate zones, and how can you incorporate them into your exercise routine?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>If you spend a lot of time exploring fitness content online, you might have come across the concept of heart rate zones. Heart rate zone training has become more popular in recent years partly because of the boom in wearable technology which, among other functions, allows people to easily track their heart rates.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537749/">Heart rate zones</a> reflect different levels of intensity during aerobic exercise. They’re most often based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is the highest number of beats your heart can achieve per minute.</p> <p>But what are the different heart rate zones, and how can you use these zones to optimise your workout?</p> <h2>The three-zone model</h2> <p>While there are several models used to describe heart rate zones, the most common model in the scientific literature is the <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/9/1/article-p100.xml">three-zone model</a>, where the zones may be categorised as follows:</p> <ul> <li> <p>zone 1: 55%–82% of maximum heart rate</p> </li> <li> <p>zone 2: 82%–87% of maximum heart rate</p> </li> <li> <p>zone 3: 87%–97% of maximum heart rate.</p> </li> </ul> <p>If you’re not sure what your maximum heart rate is, it can be calculated using <a href="https://www.jacc.org/doi/full/10.1016/S0735-1097%2800%2901054-8">this equation</a>: 208 – (0.7 × age in years). For example, I’m 32 years old. 208 – (0.7 x 32) = 185.6, so my predicted maximum heart rate is around 186 beats per minute.</p> <p>There are also other models used to describe heart rate zones, such as the <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/14/8/article-p1151.xml">five-zone model</a> (as its name implies, this one has five distinct zones). These <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/9/1/article-p100.xml">models</a> largely describe the same thing and can mostly be used interchangeably.</p> <h2>What do the different zones involve?</h2> <p>The three zones are based around a person’s <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200939060-00003">lactate threshold</a>, which describes the point at which exercise intensity moves from being predominantly aerobic, to predominantly anaerobic.</p> <p>Aerobic exercise <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/difference-between-aerobic-and-anaerobic">uses oxygen</a> to help our muscles keep going, ensuring we can continue for a long time without fatiguing. Anaerobic exercise, however, uses stored energy to fuel exercise. Anaerobic exercise also accrues metabolic byproducts (such as lactate) that increase fatigue, meaning we can only produce energy anaerobically for a short time.</p> <p>On average your lactate threshold tends to sit around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/OAJSM.S141657">85% of your maximum heart rate</a>, although this varies from person to person, and can be <a href="https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00043.2013">higher in athletes</a>.</p> <p>In the three-zone model, each zone loosely describes <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/physiology/articles/10.3389/fphys.2015.00295/full">one of three types of training</a>.</p> <p><strong>Zone 1</strong> represents high-volume, low-intensity exercise, usually performed for long periods and at an easy pace, well below lactate threshold. Examples include jogging or cycling at a gentle pace.</p> <p><strong>Zone 2</strong> is threshold training, also known as tempo training, a moderate intensity training method performed for moderate durations, at (or around) lactate threshold. This could be running, rowing or cycling at a speed where it’s difficult to speak full sentences.</p> <p><strong>Zone 3</strong> mostly describes methods of high-intensity interval training, which are performed for shorter durations and at intensities above lactate threshold. For example, any circuit style workout that has you exercising hard for 30 seconds then resting for 30 seconds would be zone 3.</p> <h2>Striking a balance</h2> <p>To maximise endurance performance, you need to strike a balance between doing enough training to elicit positive changes, while avoiding over-training, injury and burnout.</p> <p>While zone 3 is thought to produce the largest improvements in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1440244018309198">maximal oxygen uptake</a> – one of the best predictors of endurance performance and overall health – it’s also the most tiring. This means you can only perform so much of it before it becomes too much.</p> <p>Training in different heart rate zones improves <a href="https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&amp;type=pdf&amp;doi=38c07018c0636422d9d5a77316216efb3c10164f">slightly different physiological qualities</a>, and so by spending time in each zone, you ensure a <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/bf00426304">variety of benefits</a> for performance and health.</p> <h2>So how much time should you spend in each zone?</h2> <p>Most <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2023.1258585/full">elite endurance athletes</a>, including runners, rowers, and even cross-country skiers, tend to spend most of their training (around 80%) in zone 1, with the rest split between zones 2 and 3.</p> <p>Because elite endurance athletes train a lot, most of it needs to be in zone 1, otherwise they risk injury and burnout. For example, some runners accumulate <a href="https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/22/5/article-p392.xml?content=pdf">more than 250 kilometres per week</a>, which would be impossible to recover from if it was all performed in zone 2 or 3.</p> <p>Of course, most people are not professional athletes. The <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity">World Health Organization</a> recommends adults aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, or 75–150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.</p> <p>If you look at this in the context of heart rate zones, you could consider zone 1 training as moderate intensity, and zones 2 and 3 as vigorous. Then, you can use heart rate zones to make sure you’re exercising to meet these guidelines.</p> <h2>What if I don’t have a heart rate monitor?</h2> <p>If you don’t have access to a heart rate tracker, that doesn’t mean you can’t use heart rate zones to guide your training.</p> <p>The three heart rate zones discussed in this article can also be prescribed based on feel using a simple <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2004.00418.x">10-point scale</a>, where 0 indicates no effort, and 10 indicates the maximum amount of effort you can produce.</p> <p>With this system, zone 1 aligns with a 4 or less out of 10, zone 2 with 4.5 to 6.5 out of 10, and zone 3 as a 7 or higher out of 10.</p> <p>Heart rate zones are not a perfect measure of exercise intensity, but can be a useful tool. And if you don’t want to worry about heart rate zones at all, that’s also fine. The most important thing is to simply get moving.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228520/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-bennett-1053061">Hunter Bennett</a>, Lecturer in Exercise Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-heart-rate-zones-and-how-can-you-incorporate-them-into-your-exercise-routine-228520">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How extreme dieting can affect bone health

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>In a recent Instagram post, the actor Jameela Jamil revealed she has poor bone density, despite only being in her 30s. Jamil blamed this finding on 20 years of dieting – urging her followers to be aware of the harms diet culture can do to your health.</p> <p>Bone density is important for many reasons, primarily because it acts as a reservoir for many of the important minerals our bones need to function well. Many factors can affect your bone density – and as Jamil has pointed out, diet is one component that has a significant effect on bone health.</p> <p>Bone is a living tissue. This means our skeleton <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1521690X08000869">grows and remodels itself</a> according to the stresses and strains it’s put under. Everything from fractures to exercise require our bones to change their shape or density. This is why a weightlifter’s skeleton is <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00298721">much denser</a> than a marathon runner’s.</p> <p>The biggest skeletal changes we experience happen in our younger years. But bones keep changing throughout our lives depending on how active we are, what our diet consists of, and if we’ve suffered an injury or disease.</p> <p>Bones are <a href="https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/what-bone">made of proteins</a>, such as collagen, as well as minerals – largely calcium. This is a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430714/">key mineral</a> for us, as it keeps our bones and teeth strong and helps repair and rebuild any injured bones.</p> <p>But other minerals and vitamins are also important. For example, vitamin D supports calcium, playing a key role in <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2761808">bone mineralisation</a>. This is where calcium <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279023/">combines with phosphate</a> in our bones to create the mineral crystal <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264100/">hydroxyapatite</a>. This crystal is crucial to our bone mineral density (also known as “bone mass”), as it helps bones remodel and maintain their structural strength.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dexa-scan/">Dexa scans</a> – the type of scan Jamil referred to in her post – can measure the density of these crystals in bones. The <a href="https://theros.org.uk/information-and-support/osteoporosis/scans-tests-and-results/bone-density-scan-dxa/">more hydroxyapatite crystals</a> detected, the healthier the bones are.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/591182/original/file-20240430-18-u30byz.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="The interior of bones, showing four depictions of bone density – from healthy to severe osteoporosis." /><figcaption><span class="caption">The more crystals detected, the better your bone density.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-illustration/osteoporosis-4-stages-one-picture-3d-524364046">Crevis/ Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>We hit peak bone mineral density in our <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35869910/">late teens and early 20s</a>, when our body has grown to full size and our metabolism is working its best. From here, it’s possible to maintain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684300/">stable bone mass</a> into your late 30s for women and early 40s for men, with the right diet and activity. But after this point, it begins to decline.</p> <h2>Bone density</h2> <p>We accrue calcium over many years. It initially comes from our mother, then later from our diet. Our body accrues calcium so it can adapt to times when calcium demand is greater than what we can get from our diet – such as during pregnancy, when the foetus needs calcium to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3355895/">build its own bones</a>.</p> <p>However, relying solely on this skeletal calcium reserve can’t be sustained for lengthy or repeated periods, because of how long it takes to be replenished. This is why diet is so important for bone density – and why a poor diet can cause extreme damage, especially when certain food groups or minerals are consistently left out.</p> <p>For instance, studies have shown consuming soft drinks, (<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17023723/">particularly cola</a>), more than four times a week is linked with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071508/">lower bone density</a> and increased fracture risk. This is true even after adjusting for many other variables that affect bone density.</p> <p>These carbonated and energy drinks contain <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966367/">varying levels of vitamins</a> – often with none of the minerals, including calcium, that the body needs to function optimally. This causes the body to draw on its reserves if calcium isn’t being delivered elsewhere in the diet.</p> <p>Diets high in added sugar can also have a detrimental affect on the skeleton. Excess sugar causes inflammation and other physiological changes, such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9471313/">obesity</a>. Consuming high amounts of sugar is linked with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748414/">reduced calcium intake</a>, especially in children who substitute milk for sugary drinks. Excess sugar consumption also causes the body to <a href="https://jps.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s12576-016-0487-7">excrete excess calcium</a>, instead of reabsorbing it in the kidney as the body normally would.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25491765/">Low- and high-fat diets</a> have also been associated with increased risk of <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteoporosis/">osteoporosis</a> (a condition that weakens bones) in women – though larger studies are needed to better understand the effects of removing whole food groups on bone health.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/anorexia/overview/">Anorexia nervosa</a> also has a significant affect on <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30817009">bone density</a> – affecting a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959847/">majority of people</a> with the condition.</p> <p>Low bone mineral density – especially in the spine – puts people with anorexia at <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6959847/">increased risk of fractures</a> because their bone thickness is reduced, increasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, which is associated with increased fractures.</p> <p>Anorexia in young adulthood is particularly challenging. This is the stage where the skeleton is building itself to reach peak <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15574617/">bone mass</a>, so it’s depositing calcium at a record pace. When diet is insufficient and the body already starts drawing on its mineral reserves, there’s a potential that the bone density or calcium reserves in the body will never be optimal – increasing fracture risk for the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6746661/">rest of that person’s life</a>.</p> <h2>Can bone health be fixed?</h2> <p>Optimal bone health starts in utero, but our prepubescent years are key to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26884506/">setting our skeleton up</a> for later life. People who are behind the curve in early life may have difficulty achieving their peak, as poor bone mineral density can affect everything from our appetite to how efficient our gastrointestinal tract is at absorbing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971894/">important nutrients</a> (including calcium). Supplements have a limited effect because our body can only absorb a set amount of any <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8746734/">vitamin or mineral at a time</a>.</p> <p>While it’s possible to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5684300/">limit some of the decline</a> in bone density that naturally happens as we age, some of the choices we make – such as not consuming enough calcium – can accelerate the decline. Biological sex also has a significant impact on our bone health in old age – with post-menopausal women at greater risk of osteoporosis because they <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5643776/">produce less oestrogen</a>, which helps keep the cells that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424385">degrade bone</a> in check.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228321/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty </em><em>Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-extreme-dieting-can-affect-bone-health-228321">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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If you have money anxiety, knowing your financial attachment style can help

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p>The number of people struggling with money in Britain is at a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2024/mar/18/record-numbers-of-uk-people-in-debt-warns-charity">record high</a>. Financial charities say that people are contacting them for help with debt, paying bills and insolvency. The campaign group Debt Justice found in a <a href="https://debtjustice.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/WalnutOmnibus-Debt-Justice-Policy-Development-Weighted.xlsx">survey</a> that 29% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 25% of 25- to 34-year-olds had missed three or more bill payments in the last six months.</p> <p>A majority (65%) of people don’t think they can survive on their savings for three months without <a href="https://www.money.co.uk/savings-accounts/savings-statistics">borrowing money</a>. Statistics from the UK’s financial markets regulator show that more than one-third of UK adults have less than £1,000 in savings. And a survey by Money.co.uk found that 30% of Brits aged 25-64 do not save at all <a href="https://www.pensionsage.com/pa/Nearly-one-third-of-Brits-are-not-saving-for-retirement.php">for retirement</a>.</p> <p>With figures like that, is it any wonder that 75% of people in the UK feel <a href="https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/about-us/news/financial-strain-driving-uks-anxiety#:%7E:text=Almost%20three%2Dquarters%20of%20the,cited%20job%20insecurity%20or%20unemployment">anxious about money</a>?</p> <p>The current state of the economy is particularly scary for young people. Unless you were born with a trust fund (not most people), you are likely part of the first generation to be financially worse off than <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/11/politics/millennials-income-stalled-upward-mobility-us/index.html">your parents</a>. Retirement seems like an impossibility, and you’re unlikely to own your own home. Eighty percent of people in their early 20s worry about <a href="https://www.youngminds.org.uk/parent/parents-a-z-mental-health-guide/money-and-mental-health/#Thelinksbetweenmoneyandmentalhealth">not earning enough</a>.</p> <p>It is important to start planning for your financial future early in your career, but you may find it overwhelming. The good news is, there are ways to overcome this.</p> <h2>Finding your financial attachment style</h2> <p>As a psychotherapist and finance researcher, I work with people to help them to increase their financial confidence and find the motivation to start planning. This often starts with understanding what influences their relationship with money.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences/article/bowlbyainsworth-attachment-theory/6D35C7A344107195D97FD7ADAE06C807">Attachment theory</a> is a psychological concept introduced in the late 1950s. Your attachment style – which can be, for example, secure, anxious or avoidant – explains how you approach creating emotionally intimate relationships with other people. Some people feel secure building relationships, while others are extremely anxious. Some avoid close relationships altogether.</p> <p>Attachment style can also apply to your finances. If you feel confident and safe when it comes to money, you are secure in your relationship to saving and spending. But if the thought of opening an ISA or filling out a tax return, let alone planning for retirement, fills you with dread and panic, you may be anxiously attached. And if you if you push money worries to the back of your mind, you are likely avoidant.</p> <p>Attachment theorists and psychotherapists like me think that attachment styles are shaped by childhood experiences – for example, how well you were looked after by your parents or carers, and how safe and loved you felt.</p> <p>The way money was handled in your family growing up is likely to have set the blueprint for your <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200225114410.htm">financial attachment style</a>. Outside influences like education or work experiences may shape this too.</p> <p>Although financial education is part of the <a href="https://maps.org.uk/en/work-with-us/financial-education-in-schools">school curriculum</a> in the UK, 76% of children leave school without sufficient <a href="https://maps.org.uk/en/media-centre/press-releases/2024/hundreds-of-thousands-leaving-school-without-money-skills#:%7E:text=In%20its%20poll%20of%201%2C012,knowledge%20they%20need%20for%20adulthood">financial knowledge</a> to manage their lives. Similarly, financial services like banks have done a poor job helping people establish secure financial relationships. Complex and <a href="https://www.pwmnet.com/private-view-blog-time-for-the-financial-industry-to-jettison-the-jargon">off-putting language</a> has placed a barrier between those who know about money and those who need to learn.</p> <p>If you feel unable to keep up with financial terms, or that you don’t understand money, this is likely to hurt your confidence in your financial planning abilities and fuel a more avoidant attachment style.</p> <p>Identifying your attachment style can help you nurture a better relationship with money. You will be able to understand and predict how and why you react to finances in certain ways. And, it can provide confidence by reminding you that money struggles are not necessarily your fault.</p> <h2>Getting over financial anxiety</h2> <p>Some of the recent financial trends spreading on social media may give an insight into your attachment style. Are you <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/select/what-is-loud-budgeting-trend-can-it-work/">“loud budgeting”</a> (being vocal about why you aren’t spending money)? This could be a sign of financial confidence and that you have secure financial attachment. Or are you “doom spending” (spending money you don’t have instead of creating a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2024/jan/31/are-you-loud-budgeting-or-doom-spending-finance-according-to-gen-z">nest egg</a> for the future)? You may be avoidant.</p> <p>Healthy relationships with <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/lifes-challenges/maintaining-healthy-relationships-and-mental-wellbeing/#:%7E:text=People%20with%20healthy%2C%20positive%20and,such%20as%20stress%20and%20anxiety">people</a> and <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/lifes-challenges/money-worries-mental-health/#:%7E:text=Our%20mental%20health%20might%20be,earning%20enough%20or%20currently%20unemployed">money</a> are both critical for our survival and mental health. As an adult, you have the power to improve these relationships. But because attachment patterns were formed early on, they are difficult to change. Therapy and other support can help you adopt healthier habits, as can increasing your financial knowledge.</p> <p>If you want to change your relationship with money, you should try to be mindful of what may be influencing you. While financial advice on social media may be useful and help young people feel more empowered to <a href="https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/financial-advisor/adults-financial-advice-social-media/">talk about money</a>, it can also <a href="https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health">increase anxiety further</a> and be <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-get-your-financial-advice-on-social-media-watch-out-for-misinformation-222196">full of misinformation</a>. A good place to start for accurate and helpful information is the government’s <a href="https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en">Money Helper website</a>.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225243/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ylva-baeckstrom-1463175">Ylva Baeckstrom</a>, Senior Lecturer in Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/kings-college-london-1196">King's College London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-have-money-anxiety-knowing-your-financial-attachment-style-can-help-225243">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How tracking menopause symptoms can give women more control over their health

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p>Menopause can cause more symptoms than hot flushes alone. And some of your symptoms and reactions might be due to the menopause, even if you are still having periods. Research shows that keeping track of those symptoms can help to alleviate them.</p> <p>People sometimes talk about the menopause as though it were a single event that happens when you are in your early 50s, which is <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397#:%7E:text=Menopause%20is%20the%20time%20that,is%20a%20natural%20biological%20process.">the average time</a> to have your last period. But the menopause generally stretches between the ages of 45 and 55. And some women will experience an earlier “medical” menopause because of surgery to remove the womb or ovaries.</p> <p>The menopause often happens at one of the busiest times of life. You might have teenagers at home or be supporting grown-up children, have elderly parents, be employed and have a great social life. If you feel exhausted, hot and bothered, irritable and can’t sleep well, you might be tempted to think that it is because you never get a minute’s peace. But that is why monitoring symptoms is important.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2023/03000/Symptom_monitoring_improves_physical_and_emotional.7.aspx">My team recently tested</a> the effects of tracking symptoms and emotions during the menopause. We asked women to rate 30 physical and 20 emotional symptoms of the menopause.</p> <p>The physical and psychological symptoms included poor concentration, problems with digesting food, stress and itchy skin, as well as the obvious symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. Women tracked positive emotions like happiness and contentment, and negative emotions like feeling sad, isolated and angry.</p> <p>There were two groups of women in this study. One group recorded their symptoms and emotions every day for two weeks. The other group recorded their symptoms and emotions once at the beginning of the fortnight and once at the end.</p> <p>The results showed that the women who monitored their symptoms and emotions every day reported much lower negative emotions, physical symptoms and loneliness at the end of two weeks than at the beginning, compared to the other group.</p> <p>As well as this, although the loneliness scores of the group who monitored every day were lower than the other group, women in both groups said that being in the study and thinking about symptoms helped them feel less lonely. Simply knowing that other women were having similar experiences seemed to help.</p> <p>One participant said: “I feel more normal that other women are doing the same survey and are probably experiencing similar issues, especially the emotional and mental ones.”</p> <h2>Why does monitoring symptoms help?</h2> <p>One reason why tracking might help is that rating symptoms can help you notice changes and patterns in how you feel. This could encourage you to seek help.</p> <p>Another reason is that noticing changes in symptoms might help you link the change to what you have been doing. For example, looking at whether symptoms spike after eating certain foods or are better after exercise. This could mean that you change your behaviour in ways that improve your symptoms.</p> <p>Many menopause symptoms are known as “non-specific” symptoms. This is because they can also be symptoms of mental health, thyroid or heart problems. It is important not to think your symptoms are “just” the menopause. You should always speak to your doctor if you are worried about your health.</p> <p>Another good thing about monitoring symptoms is that you can take information about how often you experience symptoms and how bad they are to your GP appointment. This can help the doctor decide what might be the problem.</p> <p>Websites such as <a href="https://healthandher.com">Health and Her</a> and <a href="https://www.balance-menopause.com">Balance</a> offer symptom monitoring tools that can help you track what is happening to your physical and emotional health. There are several apps you can use on your phone, too. Or you might prefer to note symptoms and how bad they are in a notebook every 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/209004/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/deborah-lancastle-1452267">Deborah Lancastle</a>, Associate Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-wales-1586">University of South Wales</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-tracking-menopause-symptoms-can-give-women-more-control-over-their-health-209004">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Eye infections might seem like a minor complaint – but in some cases they can cause blindness and even death

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p>When you think of eye infections, what comes to mind? Puffy, swollen bruised feeling eyelids that get glued together with gunk overnight? That feeling of having grit in your eye that can’t be cleaned away? Eye infections may seem like a relatively minor – if unsightly and inconvenient – complaint, but they can also be far more serious.</p> <p>Take the deadly outbreak of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5022785/">antibiotic resistant</a> bacteria <a href="https://www.cff.org/managing-cf/burkholderia-cepacia-complex-b-cepacia"><em>Burkholderia cepacia</em></a> in 2023-24, for example.</p> <p>Between January 2023 and February 2024, contaminated brands of lubricating eye gel were linked to the infection of at least 52 patients. <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/contaminated-eye-gel-outbreak-death-b2523446.html">One person died</a> and at least 25 others suffered serious infections.</p> <p>The outbreak has now subsided and products are <a href="https://www.gov.uk/drug-device-alerts/specific-brands-of-carbomer-eye-gel-recall-of-aacarb-eye-gel-aacomer-eye-gel-and-puroptics-eye-gel-potential-risk-of-infection-dsi-slash-2023-slash-11#update-2-april-2024">back on the shelves</a> but it isn’t the first time that <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8335909/">medicinal products</a> have led to outbreaks of <em>B cepacia</em>.</p> <p>The bacterium is an opportunistic pathogen known to pose a significant risk to people with cystic fibrosis, chronic lung conditions and weakened immune systems. The infection likely progresses from the mucous membranes of the eyelids to the lungs where it leads to pneumonia and septicaemia causing <a href="https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/17/2/295">death in days</a>.</p> <p>But it’s not just <em>B cepacia</em> that can threaten our health. Something as simple as rubbing our eyes can introduce pathogens leading to infection, blindness and, in the worst case, death.</p> <p>Bacteria account for up to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16148850/">70% of eye infections</a> and globally <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9032492/">over 6 million people</a> have blindness or moderate visual impairment from ocular infection. Contact lens wearers are at <a href="https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/contact-lens-related-eye-infections">increased risk</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pWsx8i1kaxs?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>The eye is a unique structure. It converts light energy to chemical and then electrical energy, which is transmitted to the brain and converted to a picture. The eye uses about <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11556/">6 million cones and 120 million rods</a> which detect colour and light.</p> <p>Eye cells have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8775779/">no ability to regenerate</a> so, once damaged or injured, cannot be repaired or replaced. The body tries its best to preserve the eyes by encasing them in a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531490/">bony protective frame</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482428/">limiting exposure</a> having eyelids to defend against the environmental damage and ensure the eyes are kept lubricated.</p> <p>Despite our bodies’ best efforts to shield the eyes from harm, there are a number of common eye infections that can result from introducing potential pathogens into the eyes.</p> <h2>Conjunctivitis</h2> <p>The outer-most layer of the eye, the sclera, bears the brunt of exposure and to help protect it, it is lined by a thin moist membrane called the <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/24329-conjunctiva">conjunctiva</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RZ4danuJwd0?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>The conjunctiva is <a href="https://innovations.bmj.com/content/9/4/253">highly vascularised</a>, which means it has lots of blood vessels. When microbes enter the eye, it is this layer that mounts an immune response causing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8328962/">blood vessels to dilate</a> in the conjunctiva. This results in <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/symptoms.html">“pink eye”</a>, a common form of conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, allergens or viruses and typically heals by itself.</p> <h2>Blepharitis</h2> <p>Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid and usually affects both sides. It can cause itchy eyes and dandruff-like flakes. It’s most commonly caused by <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/09273948.2013.870214"><em>Staphylococcus</em> bacteria</a>, or the <a href="https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/blepharitis/background-information/causes/">dysfunction of the glands</a> of the eyelids. It can be treated by <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blepharitis/">cleaning the eyes</a> regularly.</p> <h2>Stye</h2> <p>A stye (also called <a href="https://www.college-optometrists.org/clinical-guidance/clinical-management-guidelines/hordeolum">hordeolum</a>) is a painful infection of the upper or lower eyelid. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5370090/">Internal styes</a> are caused by infection of an oil-producing gland inside the eyelid, whereas <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28723014/">external styes</a> develop at the base of the eyelash because of an infection of the hair follicle. Both are caused by bacteria, typically <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/1874715">the <em>S aureus</em> form of the <em>Staphylococcus</em> species</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/INKrGOdy824?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Styes can be treated by holding a clean flannel soaked in warm water against the affected eye for five to ten minutes, three or four times a day. Do not try to burst styes – this could spread the infection.</p> <h2>Keratitis</h2> <p>Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea, the transparent part of the eye that light passes through. The cornea is part of the eye’s main barrier against dirt, germs, and disease. Severe keratitis can cause ulcers, damage to the eye and even blindness.</p> <p>The most common type is bacterial keratitis; however, it can also be caused by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7998329/">amoeba</a>, which can migrate to other parts of the body – including the brain – and cause infection and <a href="https://theconversation.com/nasal-rinsing-why-flushing-the-nasal-passages-with-tap-water-to-tackle-hay-fever-could-be-fatal-225811">even death</a>.</p> <p>Noninfectious keratitis is most commonly caused by wearing contact lenses for too long, especially while sleeping. This can cause scratches, dryness and soreness of the cornea, which leads to inflammation.</p> <h2>Uveitis</h2> <p><a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/uveitis/">Uveitis</a> is inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Although relatively rare, it is a serious condition and usually results from viral infections such as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8501150/">herpes simplex</a>, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29023181/">herpes zoster</a> or <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-09126-6_40">trauma</a>. Depending on where the inflammation is in the eye, the symptoms can be anything from redness, pain and floaters to blurred vision and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1772296/">partial blindness</a>.</p> <h2>Exogenous endophthalmitis</h2> <p>This is a rare but serious infection caused by eye surgery complications, penetrating ocular trauma (being stabbed in the eye with a sharp object) or foreign bodies in the eye. Foreign bodies can be anything from dirt and dust to small projectiles such as shards of metal from drilling, explosives or soil from farm machinery and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7286045/">many other sources</a>.</p> <h2>Dacryocystitis</h2> <p>Dacryocystitis is the inflammation of the nasolacrimal sac, which drains tears away from the eye into the nose. This condition can be <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8443113/">acute</a>, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/6700662">chronic</a> or <a href="https://www.jebmh.com/articles/a-study-of-congenital-dacryocystitis.pdf.pdf">acquired at birth</a>. Most cases are caused by <a href="https://bmcophthalmol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12886-020-01792-4"><em>Streptococcus pneumoniae</em> and <em>Staphylococcus aureus</em></a> bacteria.</p> <p>The condition mainly affects newborns and those over 40. Seventy-five per cent of cases are women and it’s most commonly found in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6039673/">white adults</a>. It can lead to the stagnation of tears, creating a breeding ground for microbes.</p> <h2>Careful with contacts</h2> <p>Proper eye hygiene reduces the risk of all these conditions – and this is even more important for contact lens wearers.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uENHAntJOIA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Appropriate hygienic cleaning of lenses is paramount. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30789440/">Non-sterile water</a>, <a href="https://www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/contact-lens-care">spit</a> and other fluids can transfer <a href="https://www.science.org/content/article/bacteria-living-your-contact-lens-solution">potentially dangerous</a> <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482476/">microbes</a> into the eye – a warm, moist environment that makes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria – leading to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9542356/">localised infection</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972779/">blindness</a> or progress to a more serious <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9835757/">systemic infection or death</a>.</p> <p>Any persistent and painful redness or swelling of eyes should be checked by a registered health professional.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227252/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adam-taylor-283950">Adam Taylor</a>, Professor and Director of the Clinical Anatomy Learning Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/lancaster-university-1176">Lancaster University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/eye-infections-might-seem-like-a-minor-complaint-but-in-some-cases-they-can-cause-blindness-and-even-death-227252">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Vitamin D supplements can keep bones strong – but they may also have other benefits to your health

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-hewison-1494746">Martin Hewison</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p>Most of us don’t worry about getting vitamin D when the weather’s warm and the sun is shining. But as winter approaches, accompanied by overcast days and long nights, you may be wondering if it could be useful to take a vitamin D supplement – and what benefit it might have.</p> <p>During the summer, the best way to get vitamin D is by getting a bit of sunshine. Ultraviolet rays (specifically UVB, which have a shorter wavelength) interact with a form of cholesterol called <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278935/">7-dehydrocholesterol</a> in the skin, which is then converted into vitamin D.</p> <p>Because vitamin D production is dependent on UVB, this means our ability to make it <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/#:%7E:text=From%20about%20late%20March%2Fearly,enough%20vitamin%20D%20from%20sunlight.">declines in the winter months</a>. Vitamin D production also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24494042/">depends on where you live</a>, with people living nearer to the equator making more vitamin D than those living nearer the poles.</p> <p>Vitamin D deficiency is a <a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a804e36ed915d74e622dafa/SACN_Vitamin_D_and_Health_report.pdf">problem in the UK</a> during the winter months. This is due to its northerly position and cloudy weather, and lack of time spent outdoors.</p> <p>One study of over 440,000 people in the UK found that <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33309415/">18% were vitamin D deficient</a> during the winter months. Vitamin D deficiency was even higher in certain ethnic groups – with the data showing 57% of Asian participants and 38% of black participants were vitamin D deficient. This is because the melanin content of skin determines a person’s ability to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946242/#:%7E:text=Skin%20pigmentation%2C%20i.e.%2C%20melanin%2C,%5B7%5D%20and%20more%20generally.">make UVB into vitamin D</a>.</p> <p>Given the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the UK, and the importance it has for our health, in 2016 the UK’s Science Advisory Council on Nutrition outlined recommendations for the <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-vitamin-d-and-health-report#:%7E:text=In%20a%20change%20to%20previous,aged%204%20years%20and%20older">amount of vitamin D</a> people should aim to get in the winter.</p> <p>They recommend people aim to get ten micrograms (or 400 IU – international units) of vitamin D per day. This would help people avoid severe deficiency. This can be achieved either by taking a supplement, or eating <a href="https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/foods-high-in-vitamin-d">certain foods</a> that are rich in vitamin D – including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel and wild salmon. A 100 gram serving of fresh herring, for example, would have approximately five micrograms of vitamin D.</p> <p>The clearest benefit of taking a vitamin D supplement is for <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/">bone health</a>. In fact, vitamin D was <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3899558/">first discovered</a> 100 years ago because of its ability to prevent the disease rickets, which causes weak bones that bend.</p> <p>Although rickets <a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rickets-and-osteomalacia/#:%7E:text=The%20number%20of%20rickets%20cases,from%20sunlight%2C%20can%20develop%20rickets.">isn’t very common</a> in the UK today, it can still occur in children if they lack vitamin D. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain, tenderness and muscles weakness, as well as increased risk of osteomalacia – often called “soft bone disease” – which leads to weakening or softening bones.</p> <p>The reason a lack of vitamin D can have such an effect on bone health is due to the vitamin’s relationship with <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18844850/">calcium and phosphate</a>. Both of these minerals help keep our bones strong – but they require vitamin D in order to be able to reinforce and strengthen bones.</p> <h2>Other health benefits</h2> <p>In addition to its effects on the skeleton, a growing body of research is beginning to indicate that vitamin D supplements may have additional benefits to our health.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/42/10/5009.long">research shows</a> there’s a link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of catching certain viral illnesses, including the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19237723/">common cold</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7231123/">flu</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7385774/">COVID</a>.</p> <p>Similarly, several studies – <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32904944/">including my own</a> – have demonstrated in cell models that vitamin D promotes immunity against microbes, such as the bacteria which causes tuberculosis. This means vitamin D may potentially prevent some types of infections.</p> <p>Vitamin D may also dampen inflammatory immune responses, which could potentially protect against autoimmune diseases, such as <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29243029/">multiple sclerosis</a> and <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2020.596007/full">rheumatoid arthritis</a>.</p> <p>One 2022 trial, which looked at over 25,000 people over the age of 50, found taking a 2,000 IU (50 micrograms) vitamin D supplement each day was associated with an <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-066452">18% lower risk</a> of autoimmune disease – notably rheumatoid arthritis.</p> <p>Vitamin D supplements may also be linked with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/381/bmj-2023-075230">major Australian study</a>, which looked at over 21,000 people aged 60-84, found that participants who took a 2,000 IU vitamin D supplement a day for five years had a lower risk of suffering a major cardiovascular event (such as stroke or heart attack) compared to those who didn’t take a supplement.</p> <p>It’s currently not known why vitamin D may have these benefits on these other areas of our health. It’s also worth noting that in many of these trials, very few of the participants were actually vitamin D deficient. While we might speculate the observed health benefits may be even greater in people with vitamin D deficiency, it will be important for future research to study these factors.</p> <p>While it’s too early to say whether vitamin D supplements have broad health benefits, it’s clear it’s beneficial for bone health. It may be worthwhile to take a supplement in the winter months, especially if you’re over 65, have darker skin or spent a lot of time indoors as these factors can put you at <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-deficiency/faq-20058397#:%7E:text=However%2C%20some%20groups%20%E2%80%94%20particularly%20people,sun%20exposure%20or%20other%20factors.">increased risk of vitamin D deficiency</a>.</p> <p>The research also shows us that we should be rethinking vitamin D supplementation advice. While in the UK it’s recommended people get 400 IU of vitamin D a day, many trials have shown 2,000 IU a day is associated with health benefits.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219521/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/martin-hewison-1494746"><em>Martin Hewison</em></a><em>, Professor of Molecular Endocrinology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-birmingham-1138">University of Birmingham</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/vitamin-d-supplements-can-keep-bones-strong-but-they-may-also-have-other-benefits-to-your-health-219521">original article</a>.</em></p>

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What are the most common symptoms of menopause? And which can hormone therapy treat?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p>Despite decades of research, navigating menopause seems to have become harder – with conflicting information on the internet, in the media, and from health care providers and researchers.</p> <p>Adding to the uncertainty, a recent <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(24)00462-8/fulltext">series in the Lancet</a> medical journal challenged some beliefs about the symptoms of menopause and which ones menopausal hormone therapy (also known as hormone replacement therapy) can realistically alleviate.</p> <p>So what symptoms reliably indicate the start of perimenopause or menopause? And which symptoms can menopause hormone therapy help with? Here’s what the evidence says.</p> <h2>Remind me, what exactly is menopause?</h2> <p>Menopause, simply put, is complete loss of female fertility.</p> <p>Menopause is traditionally defined as the final menstrual period of a woman (or person female at birth) who previously menstruated. Menopause is diagnosed after 12 months of no further bleeding (unless you’ve had your ovaries removed, which is surgically induced menopause).</p> <p>Perimenopause starts when menstrual cycles first vary in length by seven or more days, and ends when there has been no bleeding for 12 months.</p> <p>Both perimenopause and menopause are hard to identify if a person has had a hysterectomy but their ovaries remain, or if natural menstruation is suppressed by a treatment (such as hormonal contraception) or a health condition (such as an eating disorder).</p> <h2>What are the most common symptoms of menopause?</h2> <p><a href="https://srh.bmj.com/content/early/2024/02/21/bmjsrh-2023-202099.long">Our study</a> of the highest quality menopause-care guidelines found the internationally recognised symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause are:</p> <ul> <li>hot flushes and night sweats (known as vasomotor symptoms)</li> <li>disturbed sleep</li> <li>musculoskeletal pain</li> <li>decreased sexual function or desire</li> <li>vaginal dryness and irritation</li> <li>mood disturbance (low mood, mood changes or depressive symptoms) but not clinical depression.</li> </ul> <p>However, none of these symptoms are menopause-specific, meaning they could have other causes.</p> <p>In <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2015/07000/moderate_to_severe_vasomotor_and_sexual_symptoms.6.aspx">our study of Australian women</a>, 38% of pre-menopausal women, 67% of perimenopausal women and 74% of post-menopausal women aged under 55 experienced hot flushes and/or night sweats.</p> <p>But the severity of these symptoms <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2015/07000/moderate_to_severe_vasomotor_and_sexual_symptoms.6.aspx">varies greatly</a>. Only 2.8% of pre-menopausal women reported moderate to severely bothersome hot flushes and night sweats symptoms, compared with 17.1% of perimenopausal women and 28.5% of post-menopausal women aged under 55.</p> <p>So bothersome hot flushes and night sweats appear a reliable indicator of perimenopause and menopause – but they’re not the only symptoms. Nor are hot flushes and night sweats a western society phenomenon, as has been suggested. Women in Asian countries are <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/fulltext/2022/05000/prevalence,_severity,_and_associated_factors_in.9.aspx">similarly affected</a>.</p> <p>Depressive symptoms and anxiety are also often linked to menopause but they’re less menopause-specific than hot flushes and night sweats, as they’re common across the entire adult life span.</p> <p>The <a href="https://srh.bmj.com/content/early/2024/02/21/bmjsrh-2023-202099.long">most robust guidelines</a> do not stipulate women must have hot flushes or night sweats to be considered as having perimenopausal or post-menopausal symptoms. They acknowledge that new mood disturbances may be a primary manifestation of <a href="https://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674(23)00905-4?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867423009054%3Fshowall%3Dtrue">menopausal hormonal changes</a>.</p> <p>The extent to which menopausal hormone changes impact memory, concentration and problem solving (frequently talked about as “brain fog”) is uncertain. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2022.2122792">Some studies</a> suggest perimenopause may impair verbal memory and resolve as women transition through menopause. But strategic thinking and planning (executive brain function) <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2022.2122792">have not been shown to change</a>.</p> <h2>Who might benefit from hormone therapy?</h2> <p>The Lancet papers <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(24)00462-8/fulltext">suggest</a> menopause hormone therapy <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(23)02799-X/fulltext">alleviates</a> hot flushes and night sweats, but the likelihood of it improving sleep, mood or “brain fog” is limited to those bothered by vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats).</p> <p>In contrast, the highest quality <a href="https://srh.bmj.com/content/early/2024/02/21/bmjsrh-2023-202099.long">clinical guidelines</a> consistently identify both vasomotor symptoms and mood disturbances associated with menopause as reasons for menopause hormone therapy. In other words, you don’t need to have hot flushes or night sweats to be prescribed menopause hormone therapy.</p> <p>Often, menopause hormone therapy is prescribed alongside a topical vaginal oestrogen to treat vaginal symptoms (dryness, irritation or urinary frequency).</p> <p>However, none of these guidelines recommend menopause hormone therapy for cognitive symptoms often talked about as “brain fog”.</p> <p>Despite musculoskeletal pain being the most common menopausal symptom in <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2016/07000/prevalence_and_severity_of_vasomotor_symptoms_and.6.aspx">some populations</a>, the effectiveness of menopause hormone therapy for this specific symptoms still needs to be studied.</p> <p>Some guidelines, such as an <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2023.2258783">Australian endorsed guideline</a>, support menopause hormone therapy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fracture, but not for the prevention of any other disease.</p> <h2>What are the risks?</h2> <p>The greatest concerns about menopause hormone therapy have been about breast cancer and an increased risk of a deep vein clot which might cause a lung clot.</p> <p>Oestrogen-only menopause hormone therapy is <a href="https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23">consistently considered</a> to cause little or no change in breast cancer risk.</p> <p>Oestrogen taken with a progestogen, which is required for women who have not had a hysterectomy, <a href="https://www.moh.gov.my/moh/resources/Penerbitan/CPG/Women%20Health/CPG_Management_of_Menopause_2022_e-version-1.pdf">has been associated with a small increase</a> in the risk of breast cancer, although any <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/371/bmj.m3873.full.pdf">risk appears to vary</a> according to the type of therapy used, the dose and duration of use.</p> <p>Oestrogen taken orally has also been associated with an increased risk of a deep vein clot, although the risk varies according to the formulation used. This risk is avoided by using estrogen patches or gels <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/364/bmj.k4810.full.pdf">prescribed at standard doses</a></p> <h2>What if I don’t want hormone therapy?</h2> <p>If you can’t or don’t want to take menopause hormone therapy, there are also effective non-hormonal prescription therapies available for troublesome hot flushes and night sweats.</p> <p>In Australia, most of these options are “off-label”, although the new medication <a href="https://australianprescriber.tg.org.au/articles/management-of-menopause.html">fezolinetant</a> has just been <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/resources/artg/401401">approved</a> in Australia for postmenopausal hot flushes and night sweats, and is expected to be available by mid-year. Fezolinetant, taken as a tablet, acts in the brain to stop the chemical neurokinin 3 triggering an inappropriate body heat response (flush and/or sweat).</p> <p>Unfortunately, most over-the-counter treatments promoted for menopause are either <a href="https://srh.bmj.com/content/early/2024/02/21/bmjsrh-2023-202099.long">ineffective or unproven</a>. However, cognitive behaviour therapy and hypnosis <a href="https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/abstract/2023/06000/the_2023_nonhormone_therapy_position_statement_of.4.aspx">may provide symptom relief</a>.</p> <p><em>The Australasian Menopause Society has useful <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/health-info/fact-sheets">menopause fact sheets</a> and a <a href="https://www.menopause.org.au/health-info/find-an-ams-doctor">find-a-doctor</a> page. The <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13697137.2023.2258783">Practitioner Toolkit for Managing Menopause</a> is also freely available.</em><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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225174/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/susan-davis-10376">Susan Davis</a>, Chair of Women's Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/monash-university-1065">Monash University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-are-the-most-common-symptoms-of-menopause-and-which-can-hormone-therapy-treat-225174">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Here’s why having chocolate can make you feel great or a bit sick – plus 4 tips for better eating

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p>Australians are <a href="https://www.retail.org.au/media/sweet-spending-boon-predicted-for-easter-retail">predicted</a> to spend around A$1.7 billion on chocolates, hot cross buns and other special foods this Easter season.</p> <p>Chocolate has a long history of production and consumption. It is made from cacao beans that go through processes including fermentation, drying, roasting and grounding. What is left is a rich and fatty liquor that is pressed to remove the fat (cocoa butter) and the cacao (or “cocoa”) powder which will then be mixed with different ingredients to produce dark, milk, white and other types of chocolates.</p> <p>There are several health benefits and potential problems that come in these sweet chocolatey packages.</p> <h2>The good news</h2> <p>Cacao beans contain <a href="https://foodstruct.com/food/cocoa-bean">minerals</a> like iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus and some vitamins. They are also rich in beneficial chemicals called <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23150750/">polyphenols</a>.</p> <p>These are great antioxidants, with the potential to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">improve heart health</a>, increase <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25164923/">nitric oxide</a> (which dilates blood vessels) and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488419/">reduce blood pressure</a>, provide food for gut microbiota and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1908">promote gut health</a>, boost the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/">immune system</a> and reduce inflammation.</p> <p>However, the concentration of polyphenols in the chocolate we eat depends largely on the cocoa solid amounts used in the final product.</p> <p>In general terms, the darker the chocolate, the more cocoa solids, minerals and polyphenols it has. For example, dark chocolates may have around <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">seven times more polyphenols</a> compared to white chocolates and <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10942912.2011.614984">three times more polyphenols</a> compared to milk chocolates.</p> <h2>But also some bad news</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the <a href="https://theconversation.com/treat-or-treatment-chocolate-is-good-but-cocoa-is-better-for-your-heart-3084">health benefits of cocoa solids</a> are easily offset by the high sugar and fat content of modern-day chocolates. For example, milk and white chocolate eggs are on average 50% sugar, 40% fat (mostly saturated fats) – which means a lot of added kilojoules (calories).</p> <p>Also, there may be some side effects that come with ingesting chocolate.</p> <p>Cocoa beans include a compound called theobromine. While it has the anti-inflammatory properties responsible for some of the health benefits of chocolate, it is also a mild brain stimulant that acts in a similar way to caffeine. The mood boost it offers may also be partly responsible for how much we <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00030/full?crsi=662496658&amp;cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&amp;cicada_org_mdm=direct">like chocolate</a>. Dark chocolate has higher theobromine compared to milk and white chocolate.</p> <p>But accordingly, overindulging in chocolate (and therefore theobromine) may lead to feeling restless, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3672386/">headaches</a> and nausea.</p> <h2>What else is in your chocolate?</h2> <p>Milk and dairy-based chocolates may also cause stomach upset, abdominal pain and bloating in people with <a href="https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/health-advice/lactose-intolerance">lactose intolerance</a>. This happens when we don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to digest milk sugar (lactose).</p> <p>People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate up to 6 grams of lactose without showing symptoms. Milk chocolate can have around <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310258/">3 grams of lactose</a> per 40 grams (the size of a standard chocolate bar). So two chocolate bars (or the equivalent in milk chocolate eggs or bunnies) may be enough to cause symptoms.</p> <p>It’s worth noting that lactase enzyme activity dramatically declines as we age, with the highest activity in newborns and children. So lactose sensitivity or intolerance may not be such an issue for your kids and your symptoms may increase over time. Genetics also plays a major role in how sensitive people are to lactose.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6815241/">Allergic reactions</a> to chocolate are usually due to the added ingredients or cross-contamination with potential allergens such as nuts, milk, soy, and some sweeteners used in the production of chocolate.</p> <p>Symptoms can be mild (acne, rashes and stomach pain) or more severe (swelling of the throat and tongue and shortness of breath).</p> <p>If you or your family members have known allergic reactions, make sure you read the label before indulging – especially in a whole block or basket of the stuff. And if you or your family members do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after eating chocolate, <a href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid">seek medical attention</a> immediately.</p> <h2>4 take home tips</h2> <p>So, if you are like me and have a weakness for chocolate there are a few things you can do to make the experience a good one.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/202848/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <ol> <li>keep an eye out for the darker chocolate varieties with higher cocoa solids. You may notice a percentage on labelling, which refers to how much of its weight is from cocoa beans. In general, the higher this percentage, the lower the sugar. White chocolate has almost no cocoa solid, and mostly cocoa butter, sugar and other ingredients. Dark chocolate has 50–100% cocoa beans, and less sugar. Aim for at least 70% cocoa</li> <li>read the fine print for additives and possible cross-contamination, especially if allergies might be an issue</li> <li>the ingredients list and nutrition information panel should tell you all about the chocolate you choosing. Go for varieties with lower sugar and less saturated fat. Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are better ingredients to have in your chocolate than sugar, creme, syrup, and caramel</li> <li>finally, treat yourself – but keep the amount you have within sensible limits!</li> </ol> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/saman-khalesi-366871">Saman Khalesi</a>, Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Heart Foundation &amp; Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/cquniversity-australia-2140">CQUniversity Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heres-why-having-chocolate-can-make-you-feel-great-or-a-bit-sick-plus-4-tips-for-better-eating-202848">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Summer’s over, so how much sun can (and should) I get?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katie-lee-228942">Katie Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-neale-891731">Rachel Neale</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/qimr-berghofer-medical-research-institute-1811">QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute</a></em></p> <p>As we slide of out summer, you might be wondering how careful you need to be about sun exposure. Excessive exposure causes <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/about-us/policy-and-advocacy/prevention-policy/national-cancer-prevention-policy/skin-cancer-statistics-and-issues/uv-radiation">skin cancer</a>, but sun exposure also has <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">benefits</a>. How do you balance the two?</p> <p>A new <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">position statement</a> from cancer, bone health and other experts <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Sun-Exposure-Summit-PositionStatement_V1.9.pdf">aims to help</a> Australians balance the good and bad effects of sun exposure by taking into account their skin colour, risk of skin cancer, and where they live.</p> <h2>What are the benefits of sunlight?</h2> <p>Ultraviolet (UV) radiation (the wavelengths in sunlight that cause skin cancer) also leads to vitamin D production. <a href="https://dermnetnz.org/topics/vitamin-d">Vitamin D</a> is very important for maintaining strong bones, and is likely to have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">multiple other health benefits</a>.</p> <p>But vitamin D probably isn’t the whole story. Sunshine, including UV radiation, is thought to affect health in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">other ways</a> such as improving our mood and reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases and infections. So for many people, avoiding the sun and taking a vitamin D supplement may not be the best approach.</p> <h2>How much time does it take to make vitamin D?</h2> <p>It’s complicated, but for most people and most of the year across most of Australia, it’s a lot less than you think.</p> <p>The <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/php.13854">amount of time needed</a> depends on the amount of skin covered by clothing and the intensity of UV radiation (indicated by the UV index). More skin exposed and higher UV index equate to less time needed.</p> <p>Both the UV index and the amount of the year that UV radiation is high increase as you get closer to the equator. In summer, all of Australia is bathed in sunshine. But in winter, opposite ends of the country have <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/php.13854">very different exposures</a>.</p> <p>In summer, everybody except those with deeply pigmented skin can make enough vitamin D in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">just five minutes</a> between 9am and 3pm, anywhere in Australia, provided they are wearing shorts and a T-shirt.</p> <p>In winter it’s a different story. In <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">Darwin and Brisbane</a>, 5–10 minutes between 10am and 3pm will do the trick, but in <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">Hobart</a>, factoring in winter clothing, it will take nearly an hour in the middle of the day.</p> <p>Hover your mouse over the lines below to see the length of exposure needed at specific times of day.</p> <p><iframe id="X5szQ" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/X5szQ/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Staying out for longer than needed doesn’t necessarily make more vitamin D, but it <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub#bib25">does cause skin damage</a>.</p> <h2>Hang on, what about those with darker skin?</h2> <p>People with deeply pigmented, brown to black skin accumulate both vitamin D and DNA damage at a much slower rate than people with lighter skin tones.</p> <p>When UV radiation hits a DNA strand, it causes the DNA to become distorted. If the distortion isn’t fixed, it will cause a mistake when the DNA is copied for a new cell, causing a permanent mutation that sometimes leads to cancer.</p> <p>Melanin, the brown pigment in the skin, absorbs UV photons before that can happen, and the high melanin content in the darkest skin tones provides <a href="https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.201701472R">60 times</a> as much UV protection as the small amount in very fair skin.</p> <p>The flip side is the risk of vitamin D deficiency is much higher than the risk of skin cancer.</p> <p>The new statement accounts for this by putting people into <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">three groups</a> based on their risk of skin cancer, with specialised advice for each group.</p> <h2>Highest skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This includes people with very pale skin that burns easily and tans minimally, but also people with darker white or olive skin who can tan easily but have extra skin cancer risk factors because they:</p> <ul> <li>have had <strong>skin cancer</strong> before</li> <li>have a <strong>family history</strong> of melanomas</li> <li>have many <strong>moles</strong></li> <li>are taking <strong>immunosuppressant</strong> medications.</li> </ul> <p>For these people, the harms of sun exposure almost certainly <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub">outweigh the benefits</a>.</p> <p>These people should wear sunscreen every day the <a href="https://www.arpansa.gov.au/our-services/monitoring/ultraviolet-radiation-monitoring/ultraviolet-radiation-index">UV index</a> is forecast to get to <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/peak-health-bodies-recommend-new-approach-to-sunscreen-use/">three or more</a>, and use the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">five sunsmart steps</a> whenever the UV index is above three:</p> <ul> <li><strong>slip</strong> on clothing covering as much of the body as possible</li> <li><strong>slop</strong> on SPF30+ sunscreen on areas that can’t be covered up</li> <li><strong>slap</strong> on a hat</li> <li><strong>seek</strong> shade</li> <li><strong>slide</strong> on sunglasses.</li> </ul> <p>They shouldn’t spend time outdoors deliberately to make vitamin D, but should discuss vitamin D supplements with their doctor.</p> <h2>Intermediate skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This means people with dark white/olive skin that sometimes burns but tans easily, and who don’t have other skin cancer risk factors.</p> <p>These people should still apply sunscreen as part of their usual routine on all days when the UV index is forecast to get to <a href="https://www.assc.org.au/peak-health-bodies-recommend-new-approach-to-sunscreen-use/">three or more</a>, but they can spend enough time outdoors to get a “dose” of vitamin D on most days of the week.</p> <p>Once the time needed for their vitamin D dose is up, they should also use the <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">slip-slop-slap-seek-slide</a> steps to avoid accumulating DNA damage.</p> <p>If they’re unable to do this because of health or lifestyle factors, like being housebound, working night shifts, or always covering up with clothing, they should see their doctor about whether they need vitamin D supplements.</p> <h2>Lowest skin cancer risk</h2> <p>This covers people with deeply pigmented brown to black skin that rarely or never burns.</p> <p>These people can <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1326020023052949?via%3Dihub#bib14">safely spend enough time outdoors</a> to make vitamin D and get the other benefits of sunshine. But because more time is needed, it can be difficult, particularly when the weather is cold. Vitamin D supplements might be needed.</p> <p>They don’t need to routinely protect their skin, but might need to <a href="https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/be-sunsmart">slip-slop-slap-seek-slide</a> if they are outdoors for more than two hours.</p> <h2>How do I get the feel-good effects of sunshine?</h2> <p>Spending time outdoors in the early morning is the best way to get the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9976694/">feel-good effects</a> of sunshine. An early morning walk is a great idea for all of us, but it won’t make vitamin D.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224144/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/katie-lee-228942">Katie Lee</a>, PhD Candidate, Dermatology Research Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-neale-891731">Rachel Neale</a>, Principal research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/qimr-berghofer-medical-research-institute-1811">QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/summers-over-so-how-much-sun-can-and-should-i-get-224144">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Altitude sickness is typically mild but can sometimes turn very serious − a high-altitude medicine physician explains how to safely prepare

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brian-strickland-1506270">Brian Strickland</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-colorado-anschutz-medical-campus-4838">University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus</a></em></p> <p>Equipped with the latest gear and a thirst for adventure, mountaineers embrace the perils that come with conquering the world’s highest peaks. Yet, even those who tread more cautiously at high altitude are not immune from the health hazards waiting in the thin air above.</p> <p>Altitude sickness, which most commonly refers to <a href="https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000133.htm">acute mountain sickness</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2010.02.003">presents a significant challenge</a> to those traveling to and adventuring in high-altitude destinations. Its symptoms can range from <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2017.0164">mildly annoying to incapacitating</a> and, in some cases, may progress to more <a href="https://doi.org/10.1183/16000617.0096-2016">life-threatening illnesses</a>.</p> <p>While <a href="https://doi.org/10.18111/9789284424023">interest in high-altitude tourism is rapidly growing</a>, general awareness and understanding about the hazards of visiting these locations <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2022.0083">remains low</a>. The more travelers know, the better they can prepare for and enjoy their journey.</p> <p>As an <a href="https://som.cuanschutz.edu/Profiles/Faculty/Profile/36740">emergency physician specializing in high-altitude illnesses</a>, I work to improve health care in remote and mountainous locations around the world. I’m invested in finding ways to allow people from all backgrounds to experience the magic of the mountains in an enjoyable and meaningful way.</p> <h2>The science behind altitude sickness</h2> <p>Altitude sickness is rare in locations lower than 8,200 feet (2,500 meters); however, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430716/">it becomes very common</a> when ascending above this elevation. In fact, it affects about <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">25% of visitors to the mountains of Colorado</a>, where I conduct most of my research.</p> <p>The risk rapidly increases with higher ascents. Above 9,800 feet (3,000 meters), up to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430716/">75% of travelers</a> may develop symptoms. Symptoms of altitude sickness are usually mild and consist of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2017.0164">headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and insomnia</a>. They usually <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rceng.2019.12.009">resolve after one to two days</a>, as long as travelers stop their ascent, and the symptoms quickly resolve with descent.</p> <p>When travelers do not properly acclimatize, they can be susceptible to life-threatening altitude illnesses, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resp.2007.05.002">high-altitude pulmonary edema</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/1527029041352054">high-altitude cerebral edema</a>. These conditions are characterized by fluid accumulation within the tissues of the lungs and brain, respectively, and are the <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">most severe forms of altitude sickness</a>.</p> <p>Altitude sickness symptoms are thought to be caused by <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">increased pressure surrounding the brain</a>, which results from the failure of the body to acclimatize to higher elevations.</p> <p>As people enter into an environment with lower air pressure and, therefore, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.18036">lower oxygen content</a>, their <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">breathing rate increases</a> in order to compensate. This causes an increase in the amount of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/s1357-2725(03)00050-5">oxygen in the blood as well as decreased CO₂ levels</a>, which then increases blood pH. As a result, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093%2Fbjaceaccp%2Fmks047">kidneys compensate</a> by removing a chemical called bicarbonate from the blood into the urine. This process makes people urinate more and helps correct the acid and alkaline content of the blood to a more normal level.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iv1vQPIdX_k?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Tips for preventing or reducing the risk of altitude sickness.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>The importance of gradual ascent</h2> <p>High-altitude medicine experts and other physicians <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(76)91677-9">have known for decades</a> that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">taking time to slowly ascend is the best way</a> to prevent the development of altitude sickness.</p> <p>This strategy gives the body time to complete its natural physiologic responses to the changes in air pressure and oxygen content. In fact, spending just <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">one night at a moderate elevation</a>, such as Denver, Colorado, which is at 5,280 feet (1,600 meters), has been shown to <a href="https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-118-8-199304150-00003">significantly reduce the likelihood of developing symptoms</a>.</p> <p>People who skip this step and travel directly to high elevations are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taad011">up to four times more likely</a> to develop altitude sickness symptoms. When going to elevations greater than 11,000 feet, multiple days of acclimatization are necessary. Experts generally recommend ascending <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2010.1006">no more than 1,500 feet per day</a> once the threshold of 8,200 feet of elevation has been crossed.</p> <p>Workers at high altitude, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2020.0004">porters in the Nepali Himalaya</a>, are at <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2018.06.002">particular risk of altitude-related illness</a>. These workers often do not adhere to acclimatization recommendations in order to maximize earnings during tourist seasons; as a result, they are more likely to experience <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/environmental-hazards-risks/high-elevation-travel-and-altitude-illness">severe forms of altitude sickness</a>.</p> <h2>Effective medications</h2> <p>For more than 40 years, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm196810172791601">a medicine called acetazolamide</a> has been used to <a href="https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682756.html">prevent the development of altitude sickness</a> and to treat its symptoms. Acetazolamide is <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557838/">commonly used as a diuretic</a> and for the <a href="https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma">treatment of glaucoma</a>, a condition that causes increased pressure within the eye.</p> <p>If started <a href="https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.09-2445">two days prior</a> to going up to a high elevation, acetazolamide can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.09-2445">prevent symptoms of acute illness</a> by speeding up the acclimatization process. Nonetheless, it does not negate the recommendations to ascend slowly, and it is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">routinely recommended only</a> when people cannot slowly ascend or for people who have a history of severe altitude sickness symptoms even with slow ascent.</p> <p>Other medications, including ibuprofen, have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2012.08.001">shown some effectiveness</a> in treating acute mountain sickness, although <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.10.021">not as well as acetazolamide</a>.</p> <p>A <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2028586/">steroid medication called dexamethasone</a> is effective in both treating and preventing symptoms, but it does not improve acclimatization. It is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">recommended only when acetazolamide is not effective</a> or cannot be taken.</p> <p>Additionally, it is important to <a href="https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-to-high-altitudes">avoid alcohol during the first few days at higher altitudes</a>, as it impairs the body’s ability to acclimatize.</p> <h2>Unproven therapies and remedies are common</h2> <p>As high-altitude tourism becomes increasingly popular, multiple commercial products and remedies have emerged. Most of them are not effective or provide no evidence to suggest they work as advertised. Other options have mixed evidence, making them difficult to recommend.</p> <p>Medications such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2007.1037">aspirin</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1183/13993003.01355-2017">inhaled steroids</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1089/ham.2011.0007">sildenafil</a> have been proposed as possible preventive agents for altitude sickness, but on the whole they have not been found to be effective.</p> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/hcp026">Supplements and antioxidants have no proven benefit</a> in preventing or treating altitude sickness symptoms. Both normal and high-altitude exercise are popular ways to prepare for high elevations, especially among athletes. However, beyond <a href="https://doi.org/10.1097/jes.0b013e31825eaa33">certain pre-acclimatization strategies</a>, such as brief sojourns to high altitude, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2013.12.002">physical fitness and training is of little benefit</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://missouripoisoncenter.org/canned-oxygen-is-it-good-for-you">Canned oxygen</a> has also exploded in popularity with travelers. While <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0140-6736(90)93240-p">continuously administered medical oxygen</a> in a health care setting can alleviate altitude sickness symptoms, portable oxygen cans <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">contain very little oxygen gas</a>, casting doubt on their effectiveness.</p> <p>Some high-altitude adventure travelers sleep in <a href="https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131040-00002">specialized tents</a> that simulate increased elevation by lowering the quantity of available oxygen in ambient air. The lower oxygen levels within the tent are thought to accelerate the acclimatization process, but the tents aren’t able to decrease barometric pressure. This is an important part of the high-altitude environment that induces acclimatization. Without modifying ambient air pressure, these <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2014.04.004">tents may take multiple weeks</a> to be effective.</p> <p>Natural medicines, such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1580/08-weme-br-247.1">gingko</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s40794-019-0095-7">coca leaves</a>, are touted as natural altitude sickness treatments, but few studies have been done on them. The modest benefits and significant side effects of these options makes their use <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2019.04.006">difficult to recommend</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8469948/">Staying hydrated</a> is very important at high altitudes due to fluid losses from increased urination, dry air and increased physical exertion. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186%2Fs12889-018-6252-5">Dehydration symptoms</a> can also mimic those of altitude sickness. But there is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1580/1080-6032(2006)17%5B215:AMSIOF%5D2.0.CO;2">little evidence that consuming excessive amounts of water</a> can prevent or treat altitude sickness.</p> <p>The mountains have something for visitors of all interests and expertise and can offer truly life-changing experiences. While there are health risks associated with travel at higher elevations, these can be lessened by making basic preparations and taking time to slowly ascend.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222057/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/brian-strickland-1506270"><em>Brian Strickland</em></a><em>, Senior Instructor in Emergency Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-colorado-anschutz-medical-campus-4838">University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/altitude-sickness-is-typically-mild-but-can-sometimes-turn-very-serious-a-high-altitude-medicine-physician-explains-how-to-safely-prepare-222057">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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MH370 disappearance 10 years on: can we still find it

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charitha-pattiaratchi-110101">Charitha Pattiaratchi</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p>It has been ten years since Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH370 <a href="https://theconversation.com/lessons-to-learn-despite-another-report-on-missing-flight-mh370-and-still-no-explanation-100764">disappeared on March 8 2014</a>. To this day it remains one of the biggest aviation mysteries globally.</p> <p>It’s unthinkable that a modern Boeing 777-200ER jetliner with 239 people on board can simply vanish without any explanation. Yet multiple searches in the past decade have still not yielded the main wreckage or the bodies of the victims.</p> <p>At a remembrance event held earlier this week, the Malaysian transport minister announced <a href="https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/malaysia-says-mh370-search-must-go-10-years-after-plane-vanished-2024-03-03/">a renewed push for another search</a>.</p> <p>If approved by the Malaysian government, the survey will be conducted by United States seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity, whose efforts were unsuccessful in 2018.</p> <h2>What happened to MH370?</h2> <p>The flight was scheduled to fly from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft within 60 minutes into the flight over the South China Sea.</p> <p>Subsequently, it was tracked by military radar crossing the Malay Peninsula and was last located by radar over the Andaman Sea in the northeastern Indian Ocean.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=375&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=375&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=375&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=471&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=471&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579774/original/file-20240305-18-vdbysn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=471&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A map of the region showing the initial search areas on 8-16 March." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The planned route, final route and initial search area for MH370 in Southeast Asia.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370#/media/File:MH370_initial_search_Southeast_Asia.svg">Andrew Heenen/Wikimedia Commons</a>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Later, automated satellite communications between the aircraft and British firm’s Inmarsat telecommunications satellite indicated that the plane ended up in the southeast Indian Ocean <a href="https://hub.arcgis.com/datasets/4c94d33cfc144f7d8b78943dee56e29b/explore">along the 7th arc</a> (an arc is a series of coordinates).</p> <p>This became the basis for defining the initial search areas by the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau. Initial air searches were conducted in the South China Sea and the Andaman Sea.</p> <p>To date, we still don’t know what caused the aircraft’s change of course and disappearance.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579749/original/file-20240305-25-p456o1.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Location of the 7th arc and the origin of debris locations for simulations undertaken by the University of Western Australia.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Google Earth/Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What have searches for MH370 found so far?</h2> <p>On March 18 2014, ten days after the disappearance of MH370, a search in the southern Indian Ocean <a href="https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/2014/considerations-on-defining-the-search-area-mh370">was led by Australia</a>, with participation of aircraft from several countries. This search continued until April 28 and covered an area of 4,500,000 square kilometres of ocean. No debris was found.</p> <p>Two underwater searches of the Indian Ocean, 2,800km off the coast of Western Australia, have also failed to find any evidence of the main crash site.</p> <p>The initial seabed search, led by Australia, covered 120,000 square kilometres and extended 50 nautical miles across the 7th arc. It took 1,046 days and was suspended on January 17 2017.</p> <p>A second search by Ocean Infinity in 2018 <a href="https://oceaninfinity.com/conclusion-of-current-search-for-malaysian-airlines-flight-mh370/">covered over 112,000 square kilometres</a>. It was completed in just over three months but also didn’t locate the wreckage.</p> <h2>What about debris?</h2> <p>While the main crash site still hasn’t been found, several pieces of debris have washed up in the years since the flight’s disappearance.</p> <p>In fact, in June 2015 officials from the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau determined that debris might arrive in Sumatra, contrary to the ocean currents in the region.</p> <p>The strongest current in the Indian Ocean is the South Equatorial Current. It flows east to west between northern Australia and Madagascar, and debris would be able to cross it.</p> <p>Indeed, on July 30 2015 a large piece of debris – a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaperon">flaperon</a> (moving part of a plane wing) – washed up on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean. It was later confirmed to belong to MH370.</p> <p>Twelve months earlier, using an oceanographic drift model, our University of Western Australia (UWA) modelling team had predicted that any debris originating from the 7th arc would end up in the western Indian Ocean.</p> <p>In subsequent months, additional aircraft debris was found in the western Indian Ocean in Mauritius, Tanzania, Rodrigues, Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa.</p> <p>The UWA drift analysis accurately predicted where floating debris from MH370 would beach in the western Indian Ocean. It also guided American adventurer Blaine Gibson and others to directly recover several dozen pieces of debris, three of which <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/where-blaine-gibson-now-malaysia-airlines-mh370-debris-hunter-1787369">have been confirmed</a> to be from MH370, while several others <a href="https://www.airlineratings.com/news/mh370-debris-now-for-the-facts/">are deemed likely</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=602&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=602&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=602&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=757&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=757&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/579756/original/file-20240305-22-q62h9n.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=757&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A detailed satellite map showing locations of debris found on the shores of Africa and Madagascar." /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Predicted locations of landfall from results of University of Western Australia drift modelling. The white dots indicate predicted landfall of the debris. The aggregation of many dots, particularly close to land, is an indication of the density of particles – higher probability of debris making landfall. These are highlighted by red circles.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Charitha Pattiaratchi/UWA, Author provided</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>To date, these debris finds in the western Indian ocean are the only physical evidence found related to MH370.</p> <p>It is also independent verification that the crash occurred close to the 7th arc, as any debris would initially flow northwards and then to the west, transported by the prevailing ocean currents. These results are consistent with other drift studies undertaken by independent researchers globally.</p> <h2>Why a new search for MH370 now?</h2> <p>Unfortunately, the ocean is a chaotic place, and even oceanographic drift models cannot pinpoint the exact location of the crash site.</p> <p>The proposed new search by Ocean Infinity has significantly narrowed down the target area within latitudes 36°S and 33°S. This is approximately 50km to the south of the locations where UWA modelling indicated the release of debris along the 7th arc. If the search does not locate the wreckage, it could be extended north.</p> <p>Since the initial underwater searches, technology has tremendously improved. Ocean Infinity is using a fleet of autonomous underwater vehicles with improved resolution. The proposed search will also use remotely controlled surface vessels.</p> <p>In the area where the search is to take place, the ocean is around 4,000 metres deep. The water temperatures are 1–2°C, with low currents. This means that even after ten years, the debris field would be relatively intact.</p> <p>Therefore, there is a high probability that the wreckage can still be found. If a future search is successful, this would bring closure not just to the families of those who perished, but also the thousands of people who have been involved in the search efforts.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224954/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charitha-pattiaratchi-110101"><em>Charitha Pattiaratchi</em></a><em>, Professor of Coastal Oceanography, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-western-australia-1067">The University of Western Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/mh370-disappearance-10-years-on-can-we-still-find-it-224954">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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How can I stop overthinking everything? A clinical psychologist offers solutions

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kirsty-ross-1513078">Kirsty Ross</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a></em></p> <p>As a clinical psychologist, I often have clients say they are having trouble with thoughts “on a loop” in their head, which they find difficult to manage.</p> <p>While rumination and overthinking are often considered the same thing, they are slightly different (though linked). <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/nov05/cycle">Rumination</a> is having thoughts on repeat in our minds. This can lead to overthinking – analysing those thoughts without finding solutions or solving the problem.</p> <p>It’s like a vinyl record playing the same part of the song over and over. With a record, this is usually because of a scratch. Why we overthink is a little more complicated.</p> <h2>We’re on the lookout for threats</h2> <p>Our brains are hardwired to look for threats, to make a plan to address those threats and keep us safe. Those perceived threats may be based on past experiences, or may be the “what ifs” we imagine could happen in the future.</p> <p>Our “what ifs” are usually negative outcomes. These are what we call “<a href="https://ccbhc.org/hot-thoughts-what-are-they-and-how-can-you-handle-them/">hot thoughts</a>” – they bring up a lot of emotion (particularly sadness, worry or anger), which means we can easily get stuck on those thoughts and keep going over them.</p> <p>However, because they are about things that have either already happened or might happen in the future (but are not happening now), we cannot fix the problem, so we keep going over the same thoughts.</p> <h2>Who overthinks?</h2> <p>Most people find themselves in situations at one time or another when they overthink.</p> <p>Some people are <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/nov05/cycle">more likely</a> to ruminate. People who have had prior challenges or experienced trauma may have come to expect threats and look for them more than people who have not had adversities.</p> <p>Deep thinkers, people who are prone to anxiety or low mood, and those who are sensitive or feel emotions deeply are also more likely to ruminate and overthink.</p> <p>Also, when we are stressed, our emotions tend to be stronger and last longer, and our thoughts can be less accurate, which means we can get stuck on thoughts more than we would usually.</p> <p>Being run down or physically unwell can also mean our thoughts are <a href="https://healthify.nz/hauora-wellbeing/m/mental-health-and-your-body/">harder to tackle</a> and manage.</p> <h2>Acknowledge your feelings</h2> <p>When thoughts go on repeat, it is helpful to use both emotion-focused and problem-focused <a href="https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9">strategies</a>.</p> <p>Being emotion-focused means figuring out how we feel about something and addressing those feelings. For example, we might feel regret, anger or sadness about something that has happened, or worry about something that might happen.</p> <p>Acknowledging those emotions, using self-care techniques and accessing social support to talk about and manage your feelings will be helpful.</p> <p>The second part is being problem-focused. Looking at what you would do differently (if the thoughts are about something from your past) and making a plan for dealing with future possibilities your thoughts are raising.</p> <p>But it is difficult to plan for all eventualities, so this strategy has limited usefulness.</p> <p>What is more helpful is to make a plan for one or two of the more likely possibilities and accept there may be things that happen you haven’t thought of.</p> <h2>Think about why these thoughts are showing up</h2> <p>Our feelings and experiences are information; it is important to ask what this information is telling you and why these thoughts are showing up now.</p> <p>For example, university has just started again. Parents of high school leavers might be lying awake at night (which is when rumination and overthinking is common) worrying about their young person.</p> <p>Knowing how you would respond to some more likely possibilities (such as they will need money, they might be lonely or homesick) might be helpful.</p> <p>But overthinking is also a sign of a new stage in both your lives, and needing to accept less control over your child’s choices and lives, while wanting the best for them. Recognising this means you can also talk about those feelings with others.</p> <h2>Let the thoughts go</h2> <p>A useful way to manage rumination or overthinking is “<a href="https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/Options.pdf">change, accept, and let go</a>”.</p> <p>Challenge and change aspects of your thoughts where you can. For example, the chance that your young person will run out of money and have no food and starve (overthinking tends to lead to your brain coming up with catastrophic outcomes!) is not likely.</p> <p>You could plan to check in with your child regularly about how they are coping financially and encourage them to access budgeting support from university services.</p> <p>Your thoughts are just ideas. They are not necessarily true or accurate, but when we overthink and have them on repeat, they can start to feel true because they become familiar. Coming up with a more realistic thought can help stop the loop of the unhelpful thought.</p> <p>Accepting your emotions and finding ways to manage those (good self-care, social support, communication with those close to you) will also be helpful. As will accepting that life inevitably involves a lack of complete control over outcomes and possibilities life may throw at us. What we do have control over is our reactions and behaviours.</p> <p>Remember, you have a 100% success rate of getting through challenges up until this point. You might have wanted to do things differently (and can plan to do that) but nevertheless, you coped and got through.</p> <p>So, the last part is letting go of the need to know exactly how things will turn out, and believing in your ability (and sometimes others’) to cope.</p> <h2>What else can you do?</h2> <p>A stressed out and tired brain will be <a href="https://mentalhealth.org.nz/resources/resource/stress-and-how-to-manage-it">more likely</a> to overthink, leading to more stress and creating a cycle that can affect your wellbeing.</p> <p>So it’s important to manage your stress levels by eating and sleeping well, moving your body, doing things you enjoy, seeing people you care about, and doing things that fuel your soul and spirit.</p> <p>Distraction – with pleasurable activities and people who bring you joy – can also get your thoughts off repeat.</p> <p>If you do find overthinking is affecting your life, and your levels of anxiety are rising or your mood is dropping (your sleep, appetite and enjoyment of life and people is being negatively affected), it might be time to talk to someone and get some strategies to manage.</p> <p>When things become too difficult to manage yourself (or with the help of those close to you), a therapist can provide tools that have been proven to be helpful. Some helpful tools to manage worry and your thoughts can also be found <a href="https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Anxiety">here</a>.</p> <p>When you find yourself overthinking, think about why you are having “hot thoughts”, acknowledge your feelings and do some future-focused problem solving. But also accept life can be unpredictable and focus on having faith in your ability to cope. <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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223973/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kirsty-ross-1513078"><em>Kirsty Ross</em></a><em>, Associate Professor and Senior Clinical Psychologist, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/massey-university-806">Massey University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-can-i-stop-overthinking-everything-a-clinical-psychologist-offers-solutions-223973">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Not all mourning happens after bereavement – for some, grief can start years before the death of a loved one

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-graham-wisener-1247893">Lisa Graham-Wisener</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queens-university-belfast-687">Queen's University Belfast</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/audrey-roulston-1512057">Audrey Roulston</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queens-university-belfast-687">Queen's University Belfast</a></em></p> <p>For many people, grief starts not at the point of death, but from the moment a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.</p> <p>Whether it’s the diagnosis of an advanced cancer or a non-malignant condition such as dementia, heart failure or Parkinson’s disease, the psychological and emotional process of grief can begin many months or even years before the person dies. This experience of mourning a future loss is known as <a href="https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_1006-1">anticipatory grief</a>.</p> <p>While not experienced by everyone, anticipatory grief is a <a href="https://spcare.bmj.com/content/bmjspcare/early/2022/02/10/bmjspcare-2021-003338.full.pdf?casa_token=IWNMDFN5SoIAAAAA:2EybwyPcKu73VdrACTNk7jITor-mMIXK8rv76arXgdjV9cA2Y0MV0LyZLLwcYe1rZUAQymOzFYo">common</a> part of the grieving process and can include a range of conflicting, often difficult thoughts and emotions. For example, as well as feelings of loss, some people can experience guilt from wanting their loved one to be free of pain, or imagining what life will be like after they die.</p> <h2>Difficult to define, distressing to experience</h2> <p>Anticipatory grief has proved <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/02692163221074540#bibr13-02692163221074540">challenging to define</a>. A <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/02692163221074540#bibr13-02692163221074540">systematic review</a> of research studies on anticipatory grief identified over 30 different descriptions of pre-death grief. This lack of consensus has limited research progress, because there’s no shared understanding of how to identify anticipatory grief.</p> <p>Therese Rando, a <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781315800806-9/grief-mourning-accommodating-loss-therese-rando">prominent theorist</a>, has proposed that anticipatory grief can help prepare for death, contributing to a more positive grieving experience post-bereavement. Rando also suggests that pre-death mourning can aid with adjustment to the loss of a loved one and reduce the risk of <a href="https://www.cruse.org.uk/understanding-grief/effects-of-grief/complicated-grief/">“complicated grief”</a>, a term that describes persistent and debilitating emotional distress.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AapGn60DZSA?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>But pre-death mourning doesn’t necessarily mean grief will be easier to work through once a loved one has died. Other <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953621005724?casa_token=I9mbdSv3d3gAAAAA:MqxN5X_iWbcqa6BYj7IXmImUviheOQWAVA4UBy6795UDuS1uOHG9b245qMkyOiLcvjv_SU6yVA">research evidence</a> shows that it’s possible to experience severe anticipatory grief yet remain unprepared for death.</p> <h2>Carers should seek support</h2> <p>Carers of people with life-limiting illnesses may notice distressing changes in the health of their loved ones. Witnessing close-up someone’s deterioration and decline in independence, memory or ability to perform routine daily tasks, such as personal care, is a painful experience.</p> <p>It is essential, then, for carers to acknowledge difficult emotions and seek support from those around them – especially because caring for a loved one at the end of their life <a href="https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/carers-friends-family-coping-support/your-mental-health/">can be an isolating time</a>.</p> <p>Where possible, it can also be beneficial for carers to offer their loved one <a href="https://compassionatecommunitiesni.com/our-programs/dying-to-talk/">opportunities to reflect</a> on significant life events, attend to unfinished business, and to discuss preferences for funeral arrangements. For some, this may involve supporting loved ones to reconnect with friends and family, helping them to put legal or financial affairs in order, talking about how the illness is affecting them, or making an <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/universal-principles-for-advance-care-planning/">advance care plan</a>.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wrJaTXW1Xvk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Talking is key</h2> <p>Living with altered family dynamics, multiple losses, transition and uncertainty can be <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07481187.2021.1998935">distressing for all family members</a>. It may be difficult to manage the emotional strain of knowing death is unavoidable, to make sense of the situation, and to <a href="https://hospicefoundation.ie/i-need-help/i-am-seriously-ill/how-to-talk-to-those-you-care-about/">talk about dying</a>.</p> <p>However, talking is key in <a href="https://www.cruse.org.uk/about/blog/important-conversations-death/">preparing for an impending death</a>. Organisations who offer specialist palliative care have information and trained professionals to help with difficult conversations, including <a href="https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/diagnosed/talking-children/children">talking to children</a> about death and dying.</p> <p>Navigating anticipatory grief can involve self-compassion for both the patient and carer. This includes acknowledging difficult emotions and treating oneself with kindness. Open communication with the person nearing the end of their life can foster emotional connection and help address their concerns, alongside support from the wider circle of family and friends.</p> <p>Extending empathy and understanding to those nearing death – and those grieving their impending loss – will help contribute to a compassionate community that supports those experiencing death, dying and bereavement.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/221629/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lisa-graham-wisener-1247893">Lisa Graham-Wisener</a>, Lecturer of Health Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queens-university-belfast-687">Queen's University Belfast</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/audrey-roulston-1512057">Audrey Roulston</a>, Professor of Social Work in Palliative Care, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queens-university-belfast-687">Queen's University Belfast</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-mourning-happens-after-bereavement-for-some-grief-can-start-years-before-the-death-of-a-loved-one-221629">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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How long does back pain last? And how can learning about pain increase the chance of recovery?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-wallwork-1361569">Sarah Wallwork</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lorimer-moseley-1552">Lorimer Moseley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p>Back pain is common. One in thirteen people have it right now and worldwide a staggering 619 million people will <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186678/">have it this year</a>.</p> <p>Chronic pain, of which back pain is the most common, is the world’s <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186678/">most disabling</a> health problem. Its economic impact <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92510/">dwarfs other health conditions</a>.</p> <p>If you get back pain, how long will it take to go away? We scoured the scientific literature to <a href="https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/196/2/E29.full.pdf">find out</a>. We found data on almost 20,000 people, from 95 different studies and split them into three groups:</p> <ul> <li>acute – those with back pain that started less than six weeks ago</li> <li>subacute – where it started between six and 12 weeks ago</li> <li>chronic – where it started between three months and one year ago.</li> </ul> <p>We found 70%–95% of people with acute back pain were likely to recover within six months. This dropped to 40%–70% for subacute back pain and to 12%–16% for chronic back pain.</p> <p>Clinical guidelines point to graded return to activity and pain education under the guidance of a health professional as the best ways to promote recovery. Yet these effective interventions are underfunded and hard to access.</p> <h2>More pain doesn’t mean a more serious injury</h2> <p>Most acute back pain episodes are <a href="https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/75af0cfd-6182-4328-ad23-04ad8618920f/attachment.aspx">not caused</a> by serious injury or disease.</p> <p>There are rare exceptions, which is why it’s wise to see your doctor or physio, who can check for signs and symptoms that warrant further investigation. But unless you have been in a significant accident or sustained a large blow, you are unlikely to have caused much damage to your spine.</p> <p>Even very minor back injuries can be brutally painful. This is, in part, because of how we are made. If you think of your spinal cord as a very precious asset (which it is), worthy of great protection (which it is), a bit like the crown jewels, then what would be the best way to keep it safe? Lots of protection and a highly sensitive alarm system.</p> <p>The spinal cord is protected by strong bones, thick ligaments, powerful muscles and a highly effective alarm system (your nervous system). This alarm system can trigger pain that is so unpleasant that you cannot possibly think of, let alone do, anything other than seek care or avoid movement.</p> <p>The messy truth is that when pain persists, the pain system becomes more sensitive, so a widening array of things contribute to pain. This pain system hypersensitivity is a result of neuroplasticity – your nervous system is becoming better at making pain.</p> <h2>Reduce your chance of lasting pain</h2> <p>Whether or not your pain resolves is not determined by the extent of injury to your back. We don’t know all the factors involved, but we do know there are things that you can do to reduce chronic back pain:</p> <ul> <li> <p>understand how pain really works. This will involve intentionally learning about modern pain science and care. It will be difficult but rewarding. It will help you work out what you can do to change your pain</p> </li> <li> <p>reduce your pain system sensitivity. With guidance, patience and persistence, you can learn how to gradually retrain your pain system back towards normal.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>How to reduce your pain sensitivity and learn about pain</h2> <p>Learning about “how pain works” provides the most sustainable <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/376/bmj-2021-067718">improvements in chronic back pain</a>. Programs that combine pain education with graded brain and body exercises (gradual increases in movement) can reduce pain system sensitivity and help you return to the life you want.</p> <p>These programs have been in development for years, but high-quality clinical trials <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2794765">are now emerging</a> and it’s good news: they show most people with chronic back pain improve and many completely recover.</p> <p>But most clinicians aren’t equipped to deliver these effective programs – <a href="https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(23)00618-1/fulltext">good pain education</a> is not taught in most medical and health training degrees. Many patients still receive ineffective and often risky and expensive treatments, or keep seeking temporary pain relief, hoping for a cure.</p> <p>When health professionals don’t have adequate pain education training, they can deliver bad pain education, which leaves patients feeling like they’ve just <a href="https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(23)00618-1/fulltext">been told it’s all in their head</a>.</p> <p>Community-driven not-for-profit organisations such as <a href="https://www.painrevolution.org/">Pain Revolution</a> are training health professionals to be good pain educators and raising awareness among the general public about the modern science of pain and the best treatments. Pain Revolution has partnered with dozens of health services and community agencies to train more than <a href="https://www.painrevolution.org/find-a-lpe">80 local pain educators</a> and supported them to bring greater understanding and improved care to their colleagues and community.</p> <p>But a broader system-wide approach, with government, industry and philanthropic support, is needed to expand these programs and fund good pain education. To solve the massive problem of chronic back pain, effective interventions need to be part of standard care, not as a last resort after years of increasing pain, suffering and disability.<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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222513/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-wallwork-1361569">Sarah Wallwork</a>, Post-doctoral Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lorimer-moseley-1552">Lorimer Moseley</a>, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences and Foundation Chair in Physiotherapy, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-long-does-back-pain-last-and-how-can-learning-about-pain-increase-the-chance-of-recovery-222513">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Running or yoga can help beat depression, research shows – even if exercise is the last thing you feel like

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-noetel-147460">Michael Noetel</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p>At least <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.665019/full">one in ten people</a> have depression at some point in their lives, with some estimates <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379720301793">closer to one in four</a>. It’s one of the worst things for someone’s wellbeing – worse than <a href="https://www.happinessresearchinstitute.com/_files/ugd/928487_4a99b6e23f014f85b38495b7ab1ac24b.pdf">debt, divorce or diabetes</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-so-many-australians-taking-antidepressants-221857">One in seven</a> Australians take antidepressants. Psychologists are in <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-cant-solve-australias-mental-health-emergency-if-we-dont-train-enough-psychologists-here-are-5-fixes-190135">high demand</a>. Still, only <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003901">half</a> of people with depression in high-income countries get treatment.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/384/bmj-2023-075847">new research</a> shows that exercise should be considered alongside therapy and antidepressants. It can be just as impactful in treating depression as therapy, but it matters what type of exercise you do and how you do it.</p> <h2>Walk, run, lift, or dance away depression</h2> <p>We found 218 randomised trials on exercise for depression, with 14,170 participants. We analysed them using a method called a network meta-analysis. This allowed us to see how different types of exercise compared, instead of lumping all types together.</p> <p>We found walking, running, strength training, yoga and mixed aerobic exercise were about as effective as <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-cognitive-behaviour-therapy-37351">cognitive behaviour therapy</a> – one of the <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychiatry/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00004/full">gold-standard treatments</a> for depression. The effects of dancing were also powerful. However, this came from analysing just five studies, mostly involving young women. Other exercise types had more evidence to back them.</p> <p>Walking, running, strength training, yoga and mixed aerobic exercise seemed more effective than antidepressant medication alone, and were about as effective as exercise alongside antidepressants.</p> <p>But of these exercises, people were most likely to stick with strength training and yoga.</p> <p><iframe id="cZaWb" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/cZaWb/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>Antidepressants certainly help <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/article/S0140-6736(17)32802-7/fulltext">some people</a>. And of course, anyone getting treatment for depression should talk to their doctor <a href="https://australia.cochrane.org/news/new-cochrane-review-explores-latest-evidence-approaches-stopping-long-term-antidepressants">before changing</a> what they are doing.</p> <p>Still, our evidence shows that if you have depression, you should get a psychologist <em>and</em> an exercise plan, whether or not you’re taking antidepressants.</p> <h2>Join a program and go hard (with support)</h2> <p>Before we analysed the data, we thought people with depression might need to “ease into it” with generic advice, <a href="https://www.who.int/initiatives/behealthy/physical-activity">such as</a> “some physical activity is better than doing none.”</p> <p>But we found it was far better to have a clear program that aimed to push you, at least a little. Programs with clear structure worked better, compared with those that gave people lots of freedom. Exercising by yourself might also make it hard to set the bar at the right level, given low self-esteem is a symptom of depression.</p> <p>We also found it didn’t matter how much people exercised, in terms of sessions or minutes a week. It also didn’t really matter how long the exercise program lasted. What mattered was the intensity of the exercise: the higher the intensity, the better the results.</p> <h2>Yes, it’s hard to keep motivated</h2> <p>We should exercise caution in interpreting the findings. Unlike drug trials, participants in exercise trials know which “treatment” they’ve been randomised to receive, so this may skew the results.</p> <p>Many people with depression have physical, psychological or social barriers to participating in formal exercise programs. And getting support to exercise isn’t free.</p> <p>We also still don’t know the best way to stay motivated to exercise, which can be even harder if you have depression.</p> <p>Our study tried to find out whether things like setting exercise goals helped, but we couldn’t get a clear result.</p> <p>Other reviews found it’s important to have a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31923898/">clear action plan</a> (for example, putting exercise in your calendar) and to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19916637/">track your progress</a> (for example, using an app or smartwatch). But predicting which of these interventions work is notoriously difficult.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04128-4">2021 mega-study</a> of more than 60,000 gym-goers <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04128-4/figures/1">found</a> experts struggled to predict which strategies might get people into the gym more often. Even making workouts fun didn’t seem to motivate people. However, listening to audiobooks while exercising helped a lot, which no experts predicted.</p> <p>Still, we can be confident that people benefit from personalised support and accountability. The support helps overcome the hurdles they’re sure to hit. The accountability keeps people going even when their brains are telling them to avoid it.</p> <p>So, when starting out, it seems wise to avoid going it alone. Instead:</p> <ul> <li> <p>join a fitness group or yoga studio</p> </li> <li> <p>get a trainer or an exercise physiologist</p> </li> <li> <p>ask a friend or family member to go for a walk with you.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Taking a few steps towards getting that support makes it more likely you’ll keep exercising.</p> <h2>Let’s make this official</h2> <p>Some countries see exercise as a backup plan for treating depression. For example, the American Psychological Association only <a href="https://www.apa.org/depression-guideline/">conditionally recommends</a> exercise as a “complementary and alternative treatment” when “psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy is either ineffective or unacceptable”.</p> <p>Based on our research, this recommendation is withholding a potent treatment from many people who need it.</p> <p>In contrast, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists <a href="https://www.ranzcp.org/getmedia/a4678cf4-91f5-4746-99d4-03dc7379ae51/mood-disorders-clinical-practice-guideline-2020.pdf">recommends</a> vigorous aerobic activity at least two to three times a week for all people with depression.</p> <p>Given how common depression is, and the number failing to receive care, other countries should follow suit and recommend exercise alongside front-line treatments for depression.</p> <p><em>I would like to acknowledge my colleagues Taren Sanders, Chris Lonsdale and the rest of the coauthors of the paper on which this article is based.</em></p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223441/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-noetel-147460">Michael Noetel</a>, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/running-or-yoga-can-help-beat-depression-research-shows-even-if-exercise-is-the-last-thing-you-feel-like-223441">original article</a>.</em></p>

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