Have Your Healthiest Thanksgiving Yet

Family at the dinner table at the Thanksgiving day.

I always always find myself with mixed feeling around Thanksgiving time. On the one hand, it serves as a great excuse to get the whole family together for a reunion you would rarely otherwise have. On the other hand, it can be one of the most hectic and stressful weekends of the year, especially if you’re traveling. Many of my patients tell me it derails their exercise regimens and diets they’ve been working on for months. Like me, you’ve probably wondered if it’s even possible to have a healthy, low stress Thanksgiving. Well I’ve got news for you. Not only do I think it’s possible, I think it’s within your reach this year. Spend a few minutes with me learning how to make this Thanksgiving a healthy one without significant sacrifices. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Fruits and Vegetables That Can Help Post-Menopausal Women, Genetically-Modified Salmon, and Diabetes Risk in 45-Year-Olds

Lycopene, found in fruits and vegetables that are red, may help post-menopausal women’s bones. A recent study has shown that lycopene may have the ability to increase bone mass and density. “Markers of bone breakdown, called bone resorption, were significantly decreased after lycopene treatment compared with untreated controls. Bone resorption contributes to accelerated bone loss, especially after menopause, the study said. Lycopene appears to shift the balance slightly toward osteogenic, or bone-building, activity, the researchers suggested.” The researchers have not yet tested this theory on humans, but encourage older women to eat red foods—such as tomato sauce—more frequently. (WSJ)

The FDA has stated that genetically-modified salmon is safe and has been approved to be sold in the U.S. The FDA issued a statement saying that genetically-modified salmon poses no risk to humans or the environment. “‘The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,’ said Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.” This salmon is the first GMO animal to be approved for purchase and consumption in the U.S. (NBC)

If you’re approaching 45-years-old, you have a high risk of developing diabetes. A research study found that half of all 45-year-olds may develop pre-diabetes symptoms and then one in three of those 45-year-olds might become diabetic in some point in their lives. “Over about 15 years, 1,148 people developed elevated blood-sugar levels, 828 developed diabetes and 237 started taking insulin to control their diabetes. The study team translated these results into population risk levels at age 45 and found that about half of people would develop pre-diabetic blood-sugar levels before their death, 30 percent would develop full-blown diabetes and 9 percent would start taking insulin.” The study was not conclusive in the scientific reasoning behind this risk but urged everyone to maintain a healthy diet and exercise to lower the risk. (Washington Post)

Sharecare Top 5: Tips to Survive Cold and Flu Season, HIV Must-Know Facts, and 7 Yoga Poses You Can Do On an Airplane

sick woman allergies sneeze tissue
This week on Sharecare we’re giving you pointers to avoid getting a cold or the flu, helping you to stay limber and relaxed during your holiday travels, and filling you in on the latest news about HIV.

1. Taking to the air this holiday season? Fight the stiffness that comes with flying in a cramped seat with these simple yoga moves that can be done on an airplane – even in economy!

2. It’s that time of the year again – and we don’t mean Thanksgiving. ‘Tis the season for runny noses, hacking coughs and scratchy throats — but you don’t have to be the next victim. Protect yourself against cold and flu viruses with these virus-busting tips.

3. If you or a loved one is living with rheumatoid arthritis, you’re familiar with the swollen, achy joints that come with the disease. But did you know that RA could also elevate your heart disease risk? Learn what you can do to protect your heart.

4. Strokes – a.k.a brain attacks – can be sudden and scary. But about 80% of strokes are preventable with little lifestyle changes that boost your health. Discover five easy ways to reduce your stroke risk.

5. News that actor Charlie Sheen has HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is making headlines. Here’s what you need to know about HIV, including how to prevent it, recognize symptoms and learn about treatment options for a long, healthy life.

Scientists Uncover Likely Cause of Stretch Marks

Applying moisturizer on belly

If you’re anything like the billions of women who have given birth or had their weight yo-yo at some point in their life, you’re probably pretty familiar with stretch marks. But in spite of its near universality, little is known about where they come from and why they don’t go away. Now a team of researchers has finally figured out some of the mystery in a paper published this week. Their findings might lead to better treatments in the future to help the skin recover after sudden episodes of rapid expansion.

Who gets stretch marks?

It’s thought that stretch marks occur any time the skin is forced to expand faster than it’s able to simply by stretching (the quick response) or by growing new skin (the very slow response). Some examples of people in this situation are: pregnant women, those rapidly losing or gaining weight, or children or teens going through a growth spurt. It’s clear that the skin of stretch marks is different from normal skin. What wasn’t known was exactly how it was different from normal skin that caused it to look and act so differently. This is where this research paper comes in. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Helping Hearts With Exercise, the Truth About Bookworms, and Big Versus Small Stressors

Exercising as a social activity can help heart failure patients. It’s important for everyone to exercise, but heart failure patients especially in order to decrease their risk of additional or more severe heart problems later in life. Lead researcher Dr. Lauren Cooper on this study found that “‘patients with higher levels of social support and fewer barriers to exercise exercised more than patients with lower levels of social support and more barriers to exercise…This is important because patients who exercised less had a higher risk of death from cardiac causes or hospitalization due to heart failure compared to patients who exercised more.”’ A main reason this study was done was to find additional ways to help people—who tend to be older in age–with heart failure because getting them to move and improve their health can be a challenge. (Fox)

Good news: the germs in library books probably won’t make you sick. While there are many things—bookworms, silverfish, bedbugs, and cold and flu causing bacteria—hiding in your library books, there’s not enough of them to make an impact. Infectious disease professor from the University of Chicago, Michael David, says that “Books are no better hosts for bacteria and viruses than many other objects…All pathogens need a critical mass—a minimum number of bacteria or viruses—for an exposed person to become infected. Most require very high numbers.” But, if you’re really still worried about the books you bring home, just make sure to thoroughly wash your hands to keep up good immune-boosting hygiene. (WSJ)

If you’ve experienced major stress in life, studies show you don’t sweat the small stuff. A study had participants explain both life and daily stresses they encountered in relation to how old they felt they looked every day. “Interestingly, the researchers found that the men and women who had experienced a major stressful event in the past year were overall less upset by smaller daily stresses. The people who had not experienced a major stressor were more likely to feel much older on a stressful day whereas those who had dealt with a stressful event didn’t change much in their opinions of how old they felt.” The researchers concluded the study by confirming a valuable life lesson: “The results suggest that as difficult and traumatic as they can be, stressful experiences can be sources of strength from which people can draw during future trying times.” (Time)

Can We Talk? The Dos and Don’ts of Having “The Talk” With Your Kids

Family eating pasta with sauce

Written by CASAColumbia

During tonight’s National Night of Conversation, parents around the country are preparing for one of the more difficult conversations they’ll have with their children over dinner: alcohol and drug use. Research tells us that teens who are educated about the risks of drugs from their parents are less likely to use. In fact, most teens credit conversations with Mom and Dad as their main reason for deciding not to do drugs.

But having those conversations can be challenging as many parents are not sure what to say, or when and how to say it. As you embark on your conversation, keep these four things in mind:   Read more  »

How to Know Your Risk Factors for Addiction

Doctor consulting with a patient.

Written by President of the American Academy of Family Physicians Wanda Filer, MD, FAAFP, MBA

If you want to know whether you’re at risk for addiction, start by looking at your family tree.

While your family history certainly isn’t the only risk factor for addiction, it’s a very important one. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, genes are responsible for about half the risk for alcoholism and drug addiction. I always tell my patients that what you don’t know can hurt you. After all, you can’t know your level of risk until you know your family history. Read more  »

Purging Plastic: If You Can Do Only 3 Things, These Are the Ones

Plastic Containers

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.

When we asked two New York families to purge as much plastic as they could from their lives, I felt secretly guilty. You see, I was asking them to do something I myself have not done all the way. And isn’t that modern life? There is so much advice about how to live wisely and healthily that if we tried to follow it all, we’d have little time left to live at all!

Therefore, for those who feel overwhelmed (supermoms, I’m talking to you), here are the top three takeaways about purging plastic. If you do nothing else, do this: Read more  »

The Good News About Omega-3-Fortified Foods

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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.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, which means I’m used to the rap that we reporters cover only negative news. So I was pleased–on several levels–when we tested foods fortified with omega-3s for a segment on The Dr. Oz Show and found that they all met or exceeded the amounts promised on the labels. We tested different brands of milk, eggs, and peanut butter, and they all passed! Read more  »