Slow Medicine for Depression

sad woman sitting alone

If you struggle with depression, chances are that you suffer from any or all of the following: difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, insufficient energy to function, profound sadness, self-isolating tendencies, lack of motivation, loss of appetite, suffocating feelings of doom and gloom, and suicidal thoughts. Your life may in turn be adversely impacted by a profound struggle to care for yourself – including the basics of eating, bathing, and grooming, as well as working, socializing, and engaging in physical activity. You may end up feeling extreme loneliness, isolation, and hopelessness, to the extent that it is a challenge to even think about reaching out for help. Each of these challenges is likely to feed into each other, exacerbating your struggles. They even may create a chain reaction of events that send you spiraling downward, perhaps endangering your very survival. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: The Risk of Death After Surgery, Training to Help Maintain Your Balance, and the Fruits You Should Be Eating For Weight Loss

Surgery patients who are frailer have an increased risk of death post-procedure. A recent study reported that frail people aged 65 and older were were most likely to have complications after surgery. “About 3 percent of the 200,000 patients who underwent surgery were frail, based on the diagnoses indicator. These patients were an average age of 77 while nonfrail patients were on average 74. Frail patients more often had high blood pressure and had been hospitalized in the previous year. Within a year of surgery, almost 14 percent of frail patients had died, compared to only about five percent of others.” Researchers in the study urged hospitals to create specific recovery areas to care for frail patients after surgery to reduce deaths in the future. (Reuters)

Small exercises could help decrease the amount of times older people fall. Researchers analyzed a few studies and discovered that step training exercises can potentially decrease the risk of falling by 50 percent. “For fall prevention, elderly people may benefit from exercises designed to help maintain balance during everyday activities like getting out of a chair or avoiding obstacles on a sidewalk…In addition to cutting the rate of falls, step training also helped cut the proportion of fallers across the studies roughly in half…” Walking-based exercises were reported to be the most effective for avoiding falls. (Fox)

Fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids may help stop weight gain. After 24 years of research, a recent study revealed that the makeup of flavonoid-rich foods could assist in maintaining a person’s weight. “The ones that had a biggest impact were anthocyanins, found in dark red foods like blueberries, cherries, grapes and strawberries, and flavonoid polymers, found in tea and apples…Every extra daily standard deviation—a unit that varied by produce type—of flavonoids was associated with 0.16 to 0.23 pounds less weight gained over four years. That might sound small, but in the study, one serving of a fruit often provided more than one standard deviation of a class of flavonoids.” The authors of the study encouraged more flavonoid-filled fruit and vegetable consumption to combat obesity in America. (Time)

One Woman Shares Her Experience With PANDAS

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Written by the Executive Director of PANDAS Network JC Konecny

In April of 2014 something very wrong started happening with our then 5-year-old daughter. This sweet, brilliant, beautiful, thoughtful, quiet child began having what looked like panic attacks. She insisted something was stuck in her throat. We took her to several doctors who could not seem to find the source of her problem. After seeing several psychologists and psychiatrists a video of her attacks prompted one of her doctors to suggest that her illness was not psychological, that it seemed to have a physiological source. He sent us to a neurologist, suspecting a brain tumor. Read more  »

What It Really Means to “Catch” a Mental Illness

sad woman sitting alone

Written by The Dr. Oz Show Medical Unit Chief of Staff Michael Crupain, MD, MPH

The book Infectious Madness, by award-winning author Harriet Washington, promises to explain to readers “The Surprising Science of How We ‘Catch’ Mental Illness.” On today’s show, we discussed the provocative idea put forth in this title with Ms. Washington and psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz.

Here’s a major spoiler—but don’t stop reading because this is important: Mental illness is not contagious, at least not in the traditional sense. You can’t catch things like schizophrenia, OCD, or bipolar disorder from someone who has it the way you can catch the flu or other infectious disease.

So what is Harriet talking about when she says you can catch a mental disease? Read more  »

How You Can Help Cancer-Detecting Dogs Help Us

Nose of dog

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.

This week I had my best assignment ever for The Dr. Oz Show! I got to travel to the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Dog Training Center in Philadelphia to witness how they are teaching these magnificent animals to detect cancer. It was heaven as a dog lover because, though the dogs were smart, talented workers, they were also adorable, playful critters. Not to mention as a health geek, it was amazing to see the sheer ambitiousness of what they’re trying to accomplish.

Watch the show to see the dogs in action, but here’s the lowdown: dogs’ sense of smell is about a million times more sensitive than ours. They can detect a single drop of blood in two Olympic size swimming pools —that’s down to the parts per trillion. I watched as three different pooches went through their paces and nailed it more than 90 percent of the time. No other early detection test even comes close for ovarian cancer. Read more  »

American Heart Association Emphasizes Dangers of Heart Attacks in Women

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the U.S., but women are often left out of conversations about heart health. Heart disease and heart attacks have traditionally been thought of as a disease of men and the typical symptoms of a heart attack are, as a result, mostly the ones men experience. But in recent years the medical community has started to realize that this male bias may be doing a serious disservice to women. For the first time in its history, the American Heart Association (AHA) has released a scientific statement on heart attacks in women to bring together what we know about heart disease in women and how the medical community can move forward in preventing this deadly illness. Read more  »

Finding a Quality Nutritional Supplement

Spoon full of colorful pills

Written by Lyle MacWilliam MSc, FP

Have you ever watched shoppers as they try to choose a nutritional supplement? As part of my job to constantly scour health food and other retail stores for the latest brands of nutritional supplements, I have had plenty of opportunities to observe consumer behavior.

Some shoppers use the à la carte approach, choosing a little of this, a smidgen of that, and a whole lot of those because they’re on sale. They rarely have a specific health goal they’re trying to address and they figure everything’s probably helpful. Simply put, it’s very difficult to create a balanced intake of the required nutrients using this method and, besides, it’s generally far more frustrating and often expensive to do so.

Others will pick a particular supplement and scan its label. Then, they’ll choose another and repeat the procedure, comparing one supplement to the other. And often they’ll ask: “What’s a milligram compared to a microgram? What the heck is an international unit? Why does one brand have twice as much vitamin D as the other? Which supplement is best for me? How do I make sense out of all of this?”

Confusing? You bet. After a while they’ll often just scratch their heads and walk away, or they’ll look at the price and choose the least expensive one, which is rarely a good way to go about picking a supplement. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Why You Can Drink Coffee Without Worrying About a Heart Condition, Why Fat on Your Body is Toxic to Your Health, and How Healthy Fats Can Improve Heart Health

The theory that caffeine causes heart palpitations seems to have been disproven. A new study that was released stated that contrary to popular belief, caffeinated teas and coffees are not correlated with irregular heartbeats or any other heart issues. “[Researchers] examined 1,388 people, with an average age of 72, taking part in a larger heart study. About 60 percent said they drank some sort of caffeinated product every day. The team looked specifically at coffee, tea and chocolate and did not ask about super-caffeinated energy drinks. They measured instances of premature ventricular contractions and premature atrial contractions. They could not find any differences in instances of these heart disturbances, no matter how much coffee or tea or chocolate people had.” The researchers stressed that this study was only on specific caffeinated beverage effects on adults: children should not drink any caffeine and caffeinated powders have been proven to be exceedingly dangerous. (NBC)

A study has shown that additional body fat, regardless of how fit a person is, can be dangerous and hazardous to health. In the past a little extra weight wasn’t considered harmful. Now, researchers are retracting those statements. “These results are backed by a prior study published in January 2015 that identified a link between increased levels of fat in the body — regardless of physical fitness — and high levels of inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of all disease, especially chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Another study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2015 observed a correlation between increased levels of white fat tissue and poorer prognosis in early-stage breast cancer.” The best solution seems to be a whole-foods diet and exercise that will help you lose any unwanted fat — particularly fat concentrated around the stomach area. (Fox)

Eating healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts, may lower the risk of heart disease. A recent study has shown that low consumption of healthy fats may contribute to heart disease. “Eating too little vegetable oils contributes to more heart-related deaths than eating saturated fats. In fact, only 3.6% of global heart deaths can be attributed to eating too much saturated fat, while just over 10% of heart deaths can be traced to eating too little plant oils…[but dietary guidelines] continue to stress limiting saturated fats rather than increasing healthy fats…but history shows that when people lower the amount of saturated fat they eat, they tend to replace it with carbohydrates, which can turn into triglycerides and get stored as fat.” Instead of replacing saturated fats with carbs, researchers suggested increasing consumption of healthy fats like fish, nuts, and vegetables for a healthier heart. (Time)

What Women Really Think About Their Bodies

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On today’s show I chat with Editor-in-Chief Michele Promaulayko, of Yahoo! Health on a topic many of my viewers battle frequently: body confidence. Promaulayko’s team found some groundbreaking results on a recent survey they did in order to uncover the truth on what women really think of their bodies. In the team’s research, they found that only one in seven women love their body, more than half of women have negative thoughts toward their body, and on average, women experience 13 negative thoughts about their body each day.

While these statistics may or may not surprise you, here’s some more interesting tidbits I took away from Yahoo! Health’s research: Read more  »

Staying Safe With Snow on the Ground

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If you’re living somewhere on the East Coast, you know that we got a lot of snow this past weekend. I was amazed waking up Saturday to see just how much had fallen. I’ve always loved how snow can transform the landscape overnight and it was wonderful to get outside and wander around with my family. With that said, there can be a dark side to big snowfalls. Icy sidewalks and roads and colder than usual can pose a real danger to people trying to get around during the winter months. I want to take a few moments to remind you of the health dangers present during the wintertime so you can keep yourself safe while enjoying the best of what the winter has to offer. Read more  »