What You Need to Know About the DASH Diet

woman eating salad healthy vegetables
The DASH diet is a diet that I, and many of my colleagues, recommend to patients. The DASH Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it can be a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle when combined with physical activity, limiting salt intake, minimizing alcohol use, quitting smoking and keeping a healthy weight, etc.

A Closer Look at Dissociative Identity Disorder

Mental health and counseling concept, psychologist listening to depressed female patient and writing down notes

By: Anastasia Pollock, LCMHC

Dissociative identity disorder (DID) also known as multiple personalities or, as I like to call it, multiplicity, may seem like a far-fetched, fantasy-like concept, made up for the purpose of entertaining the masses with stories, movies, and television shows. However, the truth is that DID is a very real condition that many people have had to develop in order to survive, function, and navigate the world. It is more common than most think, affecting up to one percent of the population, according to the American Psychiatric Association. That is 1 in 100 people.

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A Closer Look at Arsenic in Gluten-Free Foods

gluten-free

If you’re avoiding gluten, you’re not alone. According to data from market research company Mintel, about one-third of you are giving gluten-free eating a try. Increased demand has resulted in a larger array and improved selection of gluten-free products. Whether you can’t eat gluten because it makes you sick or you’re avoiding it for other reasons, the gluten-free foods you’re subbing in could be exposing you to elevated levels of arsenic.

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Patient Advocates: How Medical Claims Professionals Can Slash Your Hospital Bill

Doctor consulting with a patient.

Overwhelmed by your hospital, doctor, or other medical bills?  Before you freak out — or pay up — you should know that as high as 90 percent of all medical bills contain errors, according to Medliminal, a medical cost containment firm. And guess what?  The majority of those errors are in the provider’s favor —not the patient’s favor.  Fortunately, there are little-known professionals you can hire who specialize in finding and fighting the overcharges on people’s medical bills so you pay only what you owe.

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The Joint Health Struggle: 4 Simple Ways to Support Your Joints

Woman Stretching Her Legs Before Workout

Sponsored by USANA Health Sciences

You may not be able to see them all, but the human body has hundreds of joints. So, it should be no surprise that joint health is a big deal for all of us.

Take a quick moment to look carefully at one of your hands. Slowly curl it into a tight fist. Now, open it and stretch your fingers outward. Curl each finger one at a time and pay close attention to how they move and flex.

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The Girl in the Cage: How Michelle Stevens Survived a Horrific Childhood

crime scene tape with blurred forensic law enforcement background in cinematic tone and copy space

When we explore True Crime stories—I’m always amazed and inspired by the strength and resilience of the human spirit. But Dr. Oz and I’ve never been more inspired than when we met Michelle Stevens.

Most survivors of this level of trauma, violence, and crime cope by numbing the pain through drugs. So it was remarkable to meet a survivor who used her past as a case study for her doctorate thesis.

To appreciate who Michelle Stevens is today, we must go back to the beginning.

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Save Your Winter Skin With 5 Easy Tips

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Here it comes… the time of year that everyone gets a little drier and a little itchier.  As cold weather settles in, there are several reasons that skin becomes drier and then eventually, itchy and uncomfortable. First is the dryness of the season itself. Cold, winter air is drier and more arid as compared to tropical, warm air. Additionally, indoor forced heat is also very drying which makes it almost impossible to avoid dry skin conditions in the winter.  To warm up, often people take hot baths or showers and since hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, this soothing ritual can also worsen dry, parched skin.  All of these issues add up to make the winter the worst season for dry, itchy skin. But there are some easy fixes to keep the skin well-moisturized and comfortable.

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Go With Your Gut: The Basics of Digestive Health

woman-eating-exercise

Written By Toni McKinnon, AsktheScientists.com

You really should start trusting your gut. That’s because it has a huge impact on your mood, brain, and overall health.

The gut—which is a short way to say stomach, small, and large intestines—processes your diet. It absorbs the energy and nutrition you get from your food. So, without good gut and digestive health, your cells aren’t getting what they need to thrive every day.

Any discussion of gut health has to start at the microscopic level with your microbiome. This collection of bacteria and other microbes lives in your intestines and helps you process the food you eat.

It’s totally normal for the gut to be home to trillions of bacteria. There’s actually as many microbial members of your microbiome as human cells in your body. You’ll find them mostly in the large intestine and to a lesser extent in the small intestine, but not much in the stomach. The harsh, acidic environment of the stomach isn’t very inhabitable. Most of these single-celled primitive organisms are just hanging out where the food stays the longest, waiting for free meals.

But you benefit, too. Your gut bacteria help out, breaking down food. And all it costs you is a little bit of space at the Hotel Intestine and a meal.

Adding Probiotics to Your Diet

This win-win symbiotic relationship is typical. Most of the microbes (also called microflora) are harmless if they stay in the right place and in manageable quantities. Of the 40,000-plus different strains and species, there are well-studied bacteria shown to help.

We call these probiotics. And you’ve probably heard that term a lot.

There’s a definition—provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations—that’s widely accepted: “Live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” But most people probably know probiotics as “good bacteria.”

Labeling the bacteria “good” might be going a little bit too far. Even if it’s compelling and simple, it’s not perfectly accurate to start calling some bacteria heroes and others villains. All bacteria are selfish and are just looking after themselves and their descendants. We just happen to benefit from that selfishness sometimes.

Because we do gain health benefits from some, it’s important to maintain a thriving population of bacteria shown to be helpful/useful. Probiotics can help provide reinforcements that can tip the balance of gut bacteria in a positive direction.

Research on probiotics shows ties to healthy digestion, and even healthy immune function. That makes sense because your gut contains a high concentration of immune cells that can help the good bacteria take foothold which helps to support a healthy immune system.

Not all probiotics are created equal, though. When you’re looking for one to help balance your belly, make sure to look at the research. Two of the most clinically studied strains are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.  One of the core benefits of these strains is supporting a healthy gut microbiota by making the gut environment more favorable to the healthy strains of bacteria that already live inside you, so those groups can thrive.

Other Tips for Good Gut Health

Taking a probiotic is just one way to help maintain your gut health. Lifestyle factors can play a big role. That’s because you are the environment for your microbiome, so you have the chance to influence the type of bacteria that coexist with you.

Bacteria are still living organisms, so you don’t have total control. But here are five ways to provide the best environment possible for beneficial bacteria:

  1. Eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables.
  2. Make sure you get plenty of fiber—beneficial bacteria like it and it’s good for overall health.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Get plenty of restful sleep.
  5. Find ways to productively deal with stress.

About the Author

Toni McKinnon RN, CCRP, & USANA’s Director of Health and Science Education

“Nurse Toni” is a Licensed Registered Nurse (RN) and a Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP). Toni began her career at a local trauma one hospital specializing in orthopedic nursing. She joined USANA’s department of Research and Development in May of 1996 to be a resource for health and nutrition information for customers, and to help start the human clinical research program. She has been involved in human clinical research for over 20 years and is a co-author of several scientific, peer-reviewed manuscripts. She has written numerous research-related articles on nutrition and health and has been responsible for overseeing the organization of third-party published research to support product efficacy and safety. She formally joined the Department of Health and Science Education in November of 2014. Toni is the creator of USANA’s Ask the Scientists website and the weekly Nutrition Spotlight eNewsletter. Both resources help educate consumers on the role of nutrition in health.