Today’s Headlines: The Good News About Americans’ Diets, Google’s New Symptom Search Feature, and Why You Should Eat More Vegetables

New data shows that Americans are eating healthier foods and eliminating sodas and other sugar-filled drinks. Although the standard American diet has a poor reputation, a recent study shows that our eating habits are better than before. “Overall, the percentage of Americans with poor diets based on these AHA standards dropped from 56 percent to 46 percent during the study period. The proportion of people with ideal diets was low but inched up to 1.5 percent from less than 1 percent.” The study noted several factors such as household income, race, and geographic location that were influential when it came to healthy eating. While the increase is a step in the right direction, American diets still need improvement overall. (Fox)

Google wants to help you accurately search your symptoms. Google’s search results for symptoms can be unhelpful and sometimes make matters worse. “On Monday, it [Google] rolled out a new feature called symptom search. The next time you use the Google search app for iPhone and Android to look up something like “my tummy hurts,” “skin rash,” or “headache on one side,” you’ll see about a half-dozen digital cards you can swipe through right below the search box. Each of these cards briefly describes a common health problem related to your search term. Google worked with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic to build the symptom search cards. Where possible, the cards will mention whether self-treatment options are available, or whether a related health problem is serious enough to warrant professional medical care. Beneath the cards, you’ll see the same old list of website links—helpful or unhelpful as they may be.” While no online information is more sufficient than a visit to your doctor, Google hopes this new system will help you get more information on the health issues that affect you. (WSJ)

Add more vegetables on your plate to decrease your risk for diabetes. New research has found that increasing the amount of plant-based foods and decreasing the amount of animal-based foods in your diet may benefit your health overall. “On average, adults who ate a plant-based diet with few animal products cut their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. But when researchers distinguished between healthful and unhealthful plant-based foods, they found that diabetes risk dropped by 34 percent among the healthful plant-based eaters. Notably, there wasn’t a benefit to plant-based eating when a person consumed a lot of refined carbohydrates and starchy vegetables. In that case, a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increased slightly.” Plant-based foods are filled with many nutrients that can help balance and stabilize blood sugar levels and metabolism. (NYT)

5 Non-Medicinal Ways to Relieve a Headache or Migraine

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This week, I want to talk about a health problem that’s nearly as prevalent as the common cold – headaches. The World Health Organization estimates that over half of all adults suffer from current headache disorder (meaning, they’ve had at least one headache in the past year). Neurologists classify headaches into two categories – primary and secondary. Primary headaches are the most widespread and include tension headaches (the most common), migraines (which affect more women than men), and cluster headaches (which affect more men than women). Since June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, here are five natural and alternative ways to relieve the symptoms of this recurring pain.

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An Easy Trick to Move More This Summer

Runner athlete legs running on stairs. woman fitness jogging workout wellness concept.

Summer can be an extremely exciting time for all of us, school is out and it’s finally time for family vacations and weekend getaways. We can’t wait to explore new horizons and enjoy ourselves. But what happens to our workout routine when we take a break from it all? Because let’s face it, exercise usually gets left behind. What if there was a way to sneak in your workout no matter where you go without paying gym fees or lug any equipment with you in your suitcase? There is! Let me introduce you to the Summer Elevator Busters Challenge! Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: How Heavy Drinking Can Hurt Your Heart, The Danger of Driving with Dementia, and Forgiveness Could Help Relieve Your Stress

There may be a link between heavy drinking and the development of atrial fibrillation (afib). A new study has drawn a correlation between heart health and alcohol based on hospital records in Texas. “The analysis found that people living in dry counties, where sales of alcoholic beverages are prohibited, had a higher risk of being hospitalized for a heart attack or congestive heart failure than people living in wet counties, where such sales are allowed. But residents of wet counties were at elevated risk for a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation…Prevalence of atrial fibrillation was about 5% higher in wet counties, while prevalence of heart attacks was 17% lower. New hospitalizations for afib during the study were 7% higher in wet counties while those for heart attack were 9% lower.” While drinking in moderation is not necessarily harmful, make sure to steer clear of excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking. (WSJ)

Those with dementia should stop driving as their disease progresses. So far, no cognitive tests have been able to figure out if and when it is safe for a dementia patient to operate a car. “People with dementia have up to eight times the odds of being in a car accident compared with other seniors. But in the early stages of the condition, people with a dementia diagnosis can often drive safely, the study team writes in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society…” A person does not need to give up their license and right to drive as soon as they are diagnosed. However, he or she will need to be monitored by doctors and family members and eventually stop driving in the future. (Fox)

Forgiveness may be the key to helping you manage stress. A small preliminary study looked at the correlation between forgiveness, stress, and mental health. Researchers hypothesized that the ability to cope could make stress more manageable. “[They] looked at the effects of lifetime stress on a person’s mental health, and how more forgiving people fared compared to people who weren’t so forgiving. No surprise, people with greater exposure to stress over their lifetimes had worse mental and physical health. But the researchers also discovered that if people were highly forgiving of both themselves and others, that characteristic alone virtually eliminated the connection between stress and mental illness.”  (Time)

Where You’re Not Applying Sunscreen (But Should Be)

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Think you’re covered when it comes to sunscreen? Surprise: most of us aren’t using it appropriately. One study showed that most people apply only 25-50 percent of the amount of sunscreen they actually need. Plus, we often miss many of the most sun-sensitive spots. Extra important? Men are even less likely to apply sunscreen appropriately, putting them at increased risk for many skin cancers.

Remember, when you’re out in the sun, most people need to apply just under a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen to their whole body. To avoid feeling like a 1970s lifeguard, apply half as a first layer, wait a few minutes and then apply the second coat.  Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Heart, Coffee No Longer Considered Carcinogenic, and The Connection Between Diabetes and Weight Loss

Sleep apnea may increase the risk for heart problems. Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing while you’re sleeping. It has been linked to heart issues in past research but new research has shown that the risk still remains even when heart health has improved. “All the participants had undergone angioplasty, the clearing of a blocked heart artery, including placement of a tube called a stent to keep the artery open…The researchers then tracked participants for an average of five and a half years. During that time, 10 people with sleep disordered breathing and three without sleep breathing issues died. Major adverse events like heart attack and stroke had occurred in more than 20 percent of those with sleep breathing issues, compared to 8 percent of those without breathing problems.” In previous research, sleep apnea was linked to other heart issues such as “high blood pressure, elevated glucose and abnormal heart rhythms.” (Fox)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reduced its warning about coffee. This news comes 25 years after the WHO said that coffee may be carcinogenic and possibly lead to cancer. “The about-face by the WHO came after its International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] reviewed more than 1,000 studies that showed coffee is not a cancer culprit…However, the IARC said that drinking very hot beverages is now classified as ‘probably carcinogenic.’ The group based its findings on what it described as limited evidence from epidemiological studies that showed positive associations between cancer of the esophagus and drinking very hot beverages. The studies targeted places such as China and South America, where tea or maté is often consumed at temperatures of about 158 degrees Fahrenheit—roughly 10 degrees hotter than people in the U.S., U.K. and Europe are accustomed to drinking coffee or tea.” Water used to make coffee should not exceed 205 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be consumed until the hot liquid has cooled down. (WSJ)

Losing weight can improve the health of people with diabetes. If you have diabetes, a new study suggests that losing at least seven percent of your body weight can lower your blood pressure and help maintain blood sugar and cholesterol levels. “Larger weight loss improved blood sugar control, systolic blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels more than lesser weight loss at year one and year four, as reported in Diabetes Care. Blood sugar control tended to improve in the first year and then worsen again. At year four, it was only still improved among people with large weight losses – and that was true regardless of whether the large weight loss had later been regained.” This study was only observed over a four-year period so long-term benefits are not known. (Reuters)

5 Health Symptoms Men Should Watch Out For

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When was the last time you went in for your annual checkup? In honor of Men’s Health Month, I want to discuss the importance of paying attention to your body and visiting your primary care physician on a regular basis. If you’re healthy, a yearly visit might be sufficient but if you have a family history of any disease, have a pre-existing condition, or have suffered an injury, you may have to follow up with a doctor or specialist more often. A doctor’s visit is as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as clean eating and consistent exercise. If you have any issues or symptoms, especially any of the below, don’t be afraid to speak up and let your doctor know.

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Today’s Headlines: Even 15 Minutes of Exercise is Beneficial, Whole Grains Linked to Longer Lifespan, and How Your Job Affects Your Workout Schedule

For seniors, fifteen minutes of exercise a day may be sufficient. A new study has found that even though senior citizens struggle to meet the government-recommended amount of exercise throughout the week, it may not be necessary as long as they are moving a little. “The study authors found that the risk of death lowered during the study as people exercised more. Even people with low physical activity levels, half the recommended amount, had around a 22% lower risk of death compared to inactive people. The researchers say that amount of exercise is the equivalent of a 15 minute brisk walk every day.” If you are age 60 or older, make sure that you are moving on a daily basis to help your health. (Time)

Eating whole grains may decrease your risk of death. Researchers have found a correlation between whole grains, which American don’t eat enough of, and longevity. “People who ate the most whole grains were about 16 percent less likely to die of any cause during the study than those who ate the least, almost 20 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and more than 10 percent less likely to die of cancer. For every additional serving of 16 grams of whole grains, cardiovascular disease-related death risk declined by 9 percent and cancer death risk by five percent…” The research suggests that we all should be adding more brown rice, oats, and other whole grains into our daily diets. (Fox)

Your job may be the reason you’re not exercising enough. A new study shows that your occupation can influence your exercise habits. “What they found was that overall, 43% of employed adults did not get the recommended amount of exercise. And people in production jobs, which likely involve more physical labor, tended to exercise less in their leisure time than people with managerial or more office-based occupations; 51% of people with production jobs failed to meet the exercise recommendations compared to only around 30% of people with professional and managerial jobs. In fact, people with more sedentary jobs reported the highest amounts of recreational physical activity.” Education was also flagged as an indicator for fitness: people with a higher education seemed to exercise more frequently. (Time)

Picky About Protein?

Scoop of Isolate protein powder chocolate deluxe flavour  poured isolated on white background

Written by Toni McKinnon

Sponsored by USANA Health Sciences

We’ve become very picky eaters when it comes to the sources of the foods we eat, and the food industry has taken notice. Take protein, for example. We want to know where it comes from, and precisely what’s in it. Luckily for us, there are now a wide variety of pure protein sources available to meet the demands of even the most finicky protein consumers.

Whey protein can now be sourced from cattle that have not been treated with synthetic hormones (no added rbST or rBGH) and processed using low-temperature pasteurization to minimize denaturing of the protein. High-quality soy protein can be sourced from plants that are not genetically engineered. There are even unique protein blends that can provide complete protein (a protein is considered complete when it contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids that humans cannot produce on their own). One such unique blend utilizes both pea and potato protein. Both are exceptional sources of amino acids and when combined, provide an excellent pure protein source. Read more  »