Eating Right for a Healthy Mouth

woman-eating-salad

Any health professional will tell you that eating right is important. A healthy fat, low-sugar diet filled with fruits and vegetables, beans, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains is recommended for optimal overall functioning and health. But what about your teeth? Which foods are best for a healthy mouth? Not surprisingly, the same rules apply.

In general, foods that are good for the rest of your body are also good for your mouth. In recent years, however, numerous studies have been done that identify the specific effects of individual nutrients on oral health. In fact, the type of foods we eat impacts the ecosystem of 600 species of bacteria in the mouth. Alkaline foods as opposed to acidifying foods create a more favorable environment for the good bacteria to thrive. As you might expect, examples of alkalinizing foods are the green leafy vegetables and fruits, and the acidifying foods that can be a problem are proteins like fish and meat. Clearly, it’s balancing act, and by eating correctly we can keep ourselves in a healthy bacterial balance. Read more  »

Best Approach for Common Female Surgery Still Up for Debate

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Giving birth is often a painful, arduous, and exhausting experience, but women can also experience other medical issues as a result of all that pelvic stress as they get older. One of those problems is pelvic prolapse, which affects a significant number of women who have given birth. While there are many options for surgery to fix the problem, figuring out which one is best can be a tough call for surgeons and their patients. A team of physicians and researchers combed through the research on these two procedures and published their findings to help doctors and women make better decisions about which option might be right for them. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Effects of Exercise on the Brain, the Link Between Concussions and Suicide, and How Education May Improve Dementia Statistics

Middle-aged people who do not frequently exercise may have lower brain volume over time. Brains shrink as they age and this fact may be unavoidable. However, recent research suggests certain things can speed up the shrinking: “the new findings add inactivity to a growing list of factors like smoking, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure that are thought to accelerate the process… The study included 1,583 people enrolled in the long-running Framingham Heart Study who took a treadmill test to assess their fitness levels…two decades later, people with below average fitness in the first test had smaller total brain volume than the others. Each 8 mL/kg/min of exercise capacity below the average performance level in the first test was associated with enough reduction in brain volume by the end of the study to amount to two extra years of brain aging, according to the results in Neurology.” The study urged older people to start to exercise—at least 2-3 hours per week—to prevent any rapid aging. (Fox)

Concussions could increase the likelihood of suicide. While brain trauma has always been considered one of the symptoms of suicide risk, concussions have recently been added as a risk factor. “The suicide rate in Ontario, Canada, where the study was conducted, is approximately nine per 100,000 people, according to the study. In the U.S. as a whole, it’s about 12 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study conducted in Ontario gathered information on 235,110 individuals who had a history of concussion over a 20-year period, from 1992 to 2012. In the group there were 667 subsequent suicides — equivalent to 31 deaths per 100,000 people, or three times the suicide rate in the population as a whole, researchers found.” Risk increased exponentially with the increase number of concussions a person had. (ABC)

The risk of dementia could be correlated to education. A new study has shown that having a high school education, among other factors, may delay dementia. “The study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, provides the strongest evidence to date that a more educated population and better cardiovascular health are contributing to a decline in new dementia cases over time, or at least helping more people stave off dementia for longer.” More research needs to be done, however, since this study was only performed in one suburban area with a small population that was mostly of the same race. (NYT)

Facing Up to Addiction

Shattered brown beer bottle

Friends star Matthew Perry is opening up about his difficult past with substance abuse. During an appearance on the BBC Radio 2 program The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, Perry revealed that he was, “a little out of it” during three seasons on the hit sitcom, alluding to his past addiction to alcohol and prescription medicine.

How is that possible? Brain damage from addiction may actually make it that much more difficult to even realize you have a problem, says addiction psychiatrist Joel Holiner, MD, executive medical director of Green Oaks Hospital in Dallas, Texas. “We know that taking alcohol and drugs affects the frontal cortex of the brain and even the limbic region, which could affect judgment, impulse control problem-solving issues, and even memory,” adds Dr. Holiner. Read more  »

Slow Medicine for Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss

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Many of us feel a sense of “lack,” or deprivation, in some area of our lives. Looking for comfort and escape, many of us turn to food. We then berate ourselves for being “bad” and go on punitive diets, in what often becomes a never-ending, vicious cycle. Diets fail not only because they “feed into” this deprivation cycle but also because they fixate on the food itself, with a litany of do’s and don’ts – making us obsessed with what goes into our mouths. Ironically, this stress leads us right back to food. Sustainable weight loss comes from nourishing ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, in a never-ending positive loop. By “feeding” our hunger on each of these levels, we shift our core relationship with food, coming into harmonious balance and gently shedding pounds, with less of the effort or struggle. Read more  »

Deadly Window Blinds: A Hidden Hazard in Your Home

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Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her via Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

It sounds like a freak accident, but it’s not. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly once a month a child dies by strangling in the cords of window blinds. That’s why CPSC has long-considered corded window blinds one of the top five hidden hazards in our homes. We got the word out in an on-air segment on The Dr. Oz Show recently, and now I’m following up with more life-saving details. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The New Bacteria Behind Lyme Disease, the Importance of Sighing, and the Relationship Between Exercise and Menopause

A new bacterium has been discovered that can carry Lyme disease. This bacterium comes from the same type of deer tick as the more commonly known Borrelia burgdorferi but does not always carry the same symptoms. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the Mayo Clinic and health officials from Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota said in a press release Monday that the bacteria Borrelia mayonii, as well as the previously known bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, can cause Lyme disease…If treated early with antibiotics, its early symptoms of fever, headache and fatigue can pass after two to four weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. The CDC said in the release that the newly discovered bacteria is associated with those symptoms plus nausea and vomiting, as well as diffuse rashes and a higher concentration of bacteria in the blood. The first-discovered bacteria were associated with a rash that forms a ‘bull’s eye’ shape.” Currently the CDC believes the new bacteria are only in the Midwest. (Fox)

Sighing is an important movement for lung function. New research stresses not only the importance of sighing, but also where the reflex happens in the brain. “Most humans heave an involuntary sigh an average of 12 times an hour…These types of sighs are not related to emotion…Instead, they provide an extra gust of air that helps to re-inflate some of the 500 million tiny balloon-like sacs in our lungs called alveoli…[The]…part of the brain, called the pre-Bötzinger complex, is well known as the core of the breathing control center of the body. The new work could help scientists develop drugs that can induce sighing in people who don’t naturally sigh enough, or be used to inhibit sighs in those who suffer anxiety and other psychological disorders that can lead to too much sighing.” Researchers now want to look into other parts of the brain that might be affected by stress or emotion. (LA Times)

Exercise may help reduce hot flashes. A new study found that exercise was likely correlated to the symptoms women experience during menopause. “Standardized scales that rated menopause symptoms showed that sedentary women, compared with active women — who did exercise three or more times a week — had more symptoms overall, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, bladder problems and joint pain. They were also more likely to have more-severe menopause symptoms, including insomnia and depression.” The study encourages middle-aged women to make exercise a part of their daily routines in order to help them in the long run. (Washington Post)

Deciding When to Seek Help for Your Heart

A doctor with stethoscope examining red heart

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, I see people all the time with heart issues. Often I see people after having had a heart attack, but I also sometimes see them before. So often I hear people say that they didn’t realize how much trouble they were in. Even the ones who have had a heart attack may not have know that’s what it was when they were having it. Others didn’t even know their heart was at risk. The hard thing about heart disease is it’s silent and it can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. So this week I want to dedicate the blog to helping you get the information you need to understand your heart health and to figuring out when something really is wrong with your heart. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Not Your Usual Valentine’s Day Tip, 3 Mindset Shifts That Boost Weight Loss, 5 Bogus Health Myths, and More

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Check out the latest news and views on Sharecare this week:

1. Can you catch a cold from going outside with wet hair? Does spicy food lead to stomach ulcers? Learn the facts and ease your worries about common health fables.

2. Dropping unwanted pounds can be tough, and negative self-talk doesn’t make it any easier. Use these three mental strategies to get closer to your weight loss goal.

3. Who wouldn’t like to give their love life a boost? Watch this video from sex therapist Sari Cooper to learn one simple way to turn up the heat on your relationship.

4. This winter’s blizzards have taken a toll on the roads, damaged homes, caused power outages and even claimed lives. Find out what you need to know to stay safe before, during and after a winter storm.

5. Are you on caffeine overload? How about your kids? Even if kids don’t drink coffee, they may have more caffeine in their diets than you suspect. Learn about the potential health problems – and which foods to avoid.