Today’s Headlines: How Sugary Drinks Can Affect Your Health, Why Shingles Could Increase Your Risk for Death, and the Herb That May Help You Fight Off a Cold

Drinking sodas and other sugar-based beverages may be very dangerous. A new study reports that too much sugar creates a significant amount of visceral fat in the body over time. “Visceral fat emerges deep within organs; it’s embedded in the liver, pancreas and intestines…In the current study, Caroline Fox…and her colleagues tracked changes in visceral fat concentrations in a group of about 1,000 people over six years. They found that people who drank the most sugared beverages had the highest increases in visceral fat over that time. The scientists also showed that the visceral fat was biologically more likely to cause health problems.” Health issues such as diabetes and heart disease were some of the mentioned problems that could develop over time. (Time)

If you have shingles you may also develop a stroke or heart attack. A recent study found that older adults who develop shingles could be twice as likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack within a week of diagnosis or the onset of symptoms. “There are two possible causes, they said. The virus may be replicating inside the walls of the arteries, causing fatty buildups to break off and cause a stroke or heart attack. Or it might be the pain causing stress that sends the blood pressure up, they said.” The study suggested that prescribed antiviral drugs could help lessen the chances but that it is important to monitor older people that develop this condition. (NBC)

The herb echinacea could potentially aid in your recovery from a cold or the flu. Both a 2012 and 2015 study showed that echinacea might be a credible, natural, way to treat the flu like any other medication would. “Echinacea—long debated as a possible nostrum for colds and flus—is typically sold as capsules or as a tincture, or alcohol extract, which can be mixed with water and taken several times daily. Laboratory research suggests the herbal remedy may hamper the ability of viruses to infect a host. It also may regulate the immune system, either by stimulating it or preventing an overreaction responsible for symptoms, scientists say.” Researchers cautioned against the use of echinacea if severe flu symptoms, like pneumonia were present, in which case more conventional antiviral medications would be a better option. Overall, scientists agreed that echinacea is safe and has some beneficial properties but warned against its use in extreme cases of illness and for those who are allergic to similar flowers like daisies or dandelions. (WSJ)