5 inflammation-fighting food swaps
Inflammation: if you follow health news, you probably hear about it often. When is inflammation helpful? How can it be harmful? What steps can you take to tone it down? What is inflammation and how does it affect your body? If you’re not familiar with the term, inflammation refers to an immune system reaction to an infection or injury. In those instances, inflammation is a beneficial sign that your body is fighting to repair itself by sending in an army of healing white blood cells. As the injury heals or the illness is brought under control, inflammation subsides. You’ve probably seen this happen with a minor ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 10, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Arthritis Autoimmune diseases Health Heart Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?
As many people know, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex condition affecting the intestine, which is the part of the digestive tract that helps digest food and remove water, salt, and waste. But you might not know this: in recent years in the US, IBD is being diagnosed more often among people who are Black, Hispanic/Latinx, East and Southeast Asian, or from other minority groups than it was in past decades. Is this a true rise in cases? Is IBD underrecognized in minority populations? While we don’t have all the answers yet, exploring health disparities in IBD and explaining its symptoms may encourage more p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 7, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa, MD, MPH Tags: Digestive Disorders Health Health care disparities Inflammation Source Type: blogs

Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do
If you’ve learned that your newborn or young child has sickle cell disease, you — and other family members and friends — may have many questions. These days, most cases of sickle cell disease in the US are diagnosed through newborn screening. It’s important to make the diagnosis early, so that babies can be started on penicillin (or another antibiotic) to prevent infection. Getting connected early to a pediatrician for primary care — and to specialists in blood disorders who can work closely with the child as they grow, and with their families — can help prevent complications of the dise...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 6, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Genes Health care disparities Parenting Source Type: blogs

COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know
Vaccines have been heralded as a key measure to slow the COVID-19 pandemic and one day bring it to an end. Every day, millions of American adults are receiving one of the authorized vaccines proven highly effective at preventing severe illness that might otherwise lead to hospitalizations and deaths. In the US, most people over 65 have now been fully vaccinated, protecting the most vulnerable in our population. As an infectious disease specialist, my responses to the questions below are based on what we know so far about infection and vaccines in children and teens. We’ll need to continue filling in gaps as research ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 5, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristin Moffitt, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Parenting Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Happy trails: Take a hike, now
While the COVID-19 pandemic is not over by any means, more people are getting vaccinated, and restrictions are gradually lifting. After too much time spent inactive and indoors, what better way to move your body and enjoy nature than by taking a hike? In many ways, hiking is the ideal antidote to a global pandemic, as it can heal both body and soul. Enjoy the benefits of a hike Like power walking, hiking offers a moderate-intensity cardio workout, provided your route includes some hills or inclines. Trekking on uneven surfaces engages your core muscles and improves your balance. Hiking also is a mood booster. Research sho...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 4, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Healthy Aging Heart Health Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Sleep well — and reduce your risk of dementia and death
This study controlled for demographic characteristics including age, marital status, race, education, health conditions, and body weight. In the second study, researchers in Europe (including France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Finland) examined data from almost 8,000 participants from a different study and found that consistently sleeping six hours or less at age 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk compared to a normal sleep duration of seven hours. The mean age of dementia diagnosis was 77 years. This study controlled for sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and menta...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 3, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Healthy Aging Memory Neurological conditions Sleep Source Type: blogs

COVID-19 vaccines and the LGBTQ+ community
I have a confession: in late 2020, when the first COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the FDA, I was hesitant to get one myself. Despite working in public health and believing strongly in vaccines to keep our community healthy, I was anxious about putting something in my body that seemed so new. I thought: “What if the vaccine is dangerous?” “What about long-term side effects?” I am part of the LGBTQ+ community. Our history may help explain why I hesitated. Are LGBTQ+ people more hesitant to get the vaccine? In March a New York Times article reported that LGBTQ+ people are more hesitant to get the CO...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 30, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sabra L. Katz-Wise, PhD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Health care disparities LGBTQ Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Polycystic ovary syndrome and the skin
Often, the skin can be a window to what is occurring inside your body. For women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, this this may mean acne, hair loss, excessive facial or body hair growth, dark patches on the skin, or any combination of these issues. What is PCOS? Skin and hair issues can be the most readily perceptible features of PCOS, and thus sometimes the reason for seeking medical care. However, features of PCOS also include menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovaries (when the ovaries develop multiple small follicles and do not regularly release eggs), obesity, and insulin resistance (when cells do not respo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 29, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Family Planning and Pregnancy Fertility Skin and Hair Care Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Dental appliances for sleep apnea: Do they work?
Keeping your partner — or yourself — up at night with loud snoring? This might be more than a nuisance. About 25% of men and nearly 10% of women have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious sleep disorder characterized by explosive snores, grunts, and gasps. Tissue at the back of the throat temporarily obstructs the airway, leading to breathing pauses (apneas) throughout the night. Not only does OSA leave people tired and groggy, but it also puts them at risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. The most effective and best-studied treatment is positive ai...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 28, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Dental Health Fatigue Hypertension and Stroke Sleep Source Type: blogs

Terrified of needles? That can affect your health
No one likes getting stuck by a needle. Whether for a blood test, vaccination, or blood donation, needle sticks are something most people would prefer to avoid. Yet, judging only by schedules for routine vaccinations and tests, the average healthy person can expect at least 165 needle sticks over a lifetime. Get hospitalized? That might add dozens or even hundreds more. And the number of needle sticks experienced by people with diabetes, HIV, and some other illnesses hovers in the “don’t ask” range. For many, this may be more of an annoyance than a real problem. But if you have a strong fear of needles or...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 27, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Behavioral Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Source Type: blogs

Life expectancy: How can we address uneven declines?
Not long ago, during pre-pandemic 2019, the reported life expectancy at birth for non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic White, and Hispanic populations was approximately 75, 79, and 82 years, respectively. The higher life expectancy of Hispanic people compared to others in the United States may come as a surprise to some. This phenomenon, known as the “Hispanic paradox,” was first noted in the 1980s, and its legitimacy has been debated since. A host of explanations have been proposed, including hypotheses about the “healthy immigrant” (people who migrate to the US are healthier than those who stay in the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 26, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Numa Perez, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Health care disparities Health trends Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Edibles and children: Poison center calls rise
If a 3-year-old finds a cookie on the table, chances are they are going to eat it. Even if it is made with marijuana or THC, CBD, or other components of cannabis. As more states have legalized the use of marijuana and an ever-widening range of derivative products, it’s not surprising that more children are being exposed — including by eating marijuana edibles. A research brief published in the journal Pediatrics found that between 2017 and 2019, there were 4,172 calls to regional poison control centers about exposures to cannabis in babies and children through age 9. About half of the calls were related to edib...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 23, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Marijuana Parenting Source Type: blogs

Pills and the planet: Environmentally-friendly steps for your medicine cabinet
Most people might not guess that pills (or creams, patches, and inhalers, for that matter) have a big impact on the environment — but they do. Climate change is leading to noticeable effects on the environment, as well as to consequences for our health, such as rising rates of asthma and new patterns of infectious diseases. The key driver of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. Our health care system plays a large role, contributing close to 10% of our nation’s greenhouse gases. The US is also responsible for more than 25% of the world’s total health care emissions. Within our health care system, p...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 22, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Wynne Armand, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Environmental health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Diet, disease, and the microbiome
There is growing interest in the human body’s microbiome and its connection to chronic disease. A new study examines that connection, along with how the foods we eat influence the composition of our microbiome. Microbiome protects host and plays role in disease risk The microbiome consists of the genes of tiny organisms (bacteria, viruses, and other microbes) found in the gastrointestinal tract, primarily in the small and large intestine. The normal gut flora — another term for the microbiome — protects its human host. For the microbiome to flourish, the right balance must exist, with the healthy species ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 21, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes, MS, RDN, CDCES, LDN, NASM-CPT Tags: Healthy Eating Heart Health Probiotics Source Type: blogs

Want healthy eyes? What to know at 40 and beyond
Did the print on that label suddenly shrink? If you’re in your 40s or beyond, you may have asked yourself that question as you struggled to read something that you used to be able to see clearly with no problem. Blame your aging eyes. Much like our joints, our eyes undergo age-related changes. While eye problems can affect people of any age, some conditions become more common after age 40. Getting older? Three common eye conditions Presbyopia. The lens of the eye gets stiffer with age, which makes it harder to focus on objects nearby — hence your label-reading struggles. Many people find satisfaction with inexp...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 20, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Diabetes Eye Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

Could COVID-19 infection be responsible for your depressed mood or anxiety?
Doctors told you that your COVID-19 virus infection cleared months ago. However, even though you no longer struggle to breathe, and your oxygen levels have returned to normal, something doesn’t feel right. In addition to constant headaches, you find yourself struggling with seemingly easy tasks. The fatigue you experience makes moving from the bed to the kitchen feel like an accomplishment. But most troubling for you is a feeling of dread, a nervousness so severe you can feel your heart pounding. Constant worries now keep you from sleeping at night. What are the mental health effects of COVID-19? We are still learnin...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 19, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Stephanie Collier, MD, MPH Tags: Behavioral Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Mental Health Prevention Stress Source Type: blogs

Are antidepressants also pain relievers?
Did you know that antidepressant medications are often prescribed for people without depression? It’s true. Antidepressants are frequently prescribed for chronic pain, especially pain related to nerve disease (called neuropathic pain), chronic low back or neck pain, and certain types of arthritis. In fact, some guidelines for the treatment of chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis) include antidepressants. One antidepressant in particular, duloxetine (Cymbalta), is FDA-approved for these conditions. Just how antidepressants reduce pain is not well understood. One possibility is th...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 16, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Back Pain Bones and joints Health Osteoarthritis Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Anti-Asian racism: Breaking through stereotypes and silence
Like the rest of the country, I awoke on Wednesday, March 17 to the horrific news of a mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people. Six were Asian women, ranging in age from 44 to 74. I immediately went numb. Lulu Wang, the Chinese American filmmaker and director of The Farewell, gave voice to my pain on social media: “I know these women. The ones working themselves to the bone to send their kids to school, to send money back home.” The fact is, I’ve been in a state of numbness for much of the past year. On top of the unprecedented strains that COVID-19 has placed on all of us, Asian Americans like ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 15, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Justin Chen, MD, MPH Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Mental Health Parenting Relationships Safety Source Type: blogs

Can some postmenopausal women with breast cancer skip chemotherapy?
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women. In the last two decades, the treatment of breast cancers has become personalized. This has been possible due to the subtyping of breast cancers. Breast cancers have been subtyped based on the receptors on the breast cancer cell. The most clinically significant receptors — those that have targeted therapies — are the estrogen and progesterone receptors and the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Cancers that have the estrogen and progesterone receptors are termed hormone receptor (HR)-positive cancers. The development of hormone therapy for H...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 15, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Salewa T. Salewa Oseni, MD Tags: Cancer Medical Research Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Stress may be getting to your skin, but it ’s not a one-way street
Are you stressed out? Your skin can show it. Studies show that both acute and chronic stress can exert negative effects on overall skin wellness, as well as exacerbate a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, acne, and hair loss. But it’s not just a one-way street. Research has also shown that skin and hair follicles contain complex mechanisms to produce their own stress-inducing signals, which can travel to the brain and perpetuate the stress response. Stress and the two-way street between your brain and skin You may already have experienced the connection between the brain and skin. Have you ever g...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 14, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS Tags: Skin and Hair Care Stress Source Type: blogs

The art of a heartfelt apology
If you’ve been stuck mostly at home with one or more family members over the past year, chances are you’ve gotten on one another’s nerves occasionally. When you’re under a lot of stress, it’s not uncommon say something unkind, or even to lash out in anger to someone you care about. And we all make thoughtless mistakes from time to time, like forgetting a promise or breaking something. Not sure if you should apologize? Even if you don’t think what you said or did was so bad, or believe that the other person is actually in the wrong, it’s still important to apologize when you’v...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 13, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Behavioral Health Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

How is treatment for myasthenia gravis evolving?
Myasthenia gravis (MG) — a medical term that translates as “serious muscle weakness” — is a rare neuromuscular disease. An estimated 30,000 to 60,000 people in the United States have this disorder, which affects people of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities. Recently updated consensus guidelines have added to our knowledge of different forms of myasthenia gravis and improved approaches to treatment. What are the symptoms of myasthenia gravis? Myasthenia gravis impairs the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles at a site called the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), where nerves make contact with mus...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 12, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Pushpa Narayanaswami, MD, FAAN Tags: Autoimmune diseases Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

Sleep, stress, or hormones? Brain fog during perimenopause
Often when people think of perimenopause, irregular periods and hot flashes come to mind. But some women may notice another symptom: brain fog. You’re reading a letter and suddenly realize your thoughts have drifted off and you need to start again. Or you draw a blank when you’re trying to remember someone’s name, or find yourself standing in a room, wondering what you came there to get. The good news is that these small cognitive blips are probably not anything you need to worry about long-term. Sleep disturbances and stress may be part of brain fog Those times when you are less focused and a bit forgetf...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 9, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kelly Bilodeau Tags: Brain and cognitive health Memory Stress Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Black peer support: A role in mental health recovery
It’s been a troubling year for millions of Americans, marked by public reckonings over inequities in justice, health care, and most certainly mental health care. None of these inequities are new. Estimates suggest that only 22% of Black Americans — fewer than one in four — who need mental health care actually receive treatment. In addition to financial and insurance barriers to mental health treatment, a long history of discrimination in medicine makes it difficult for some people of color to form trusting relationships with medical providers. And that’s one reason why peer support has been gaining ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 8, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Valeria Chambers, EdM, CAS, CPS Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Health care disparities Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

What ’s new in the updated asthma guidelines?
In 2007, The Sopranos was a hit TV show, patterned jeggings were a fashion trend, and the National Institutes of Health–sponsored National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) published the second edition of the Asthma Management Guidelines. A lot has changed since 2007, including in the area of asthma. The NAEPP recently published the third edition of the Asthma Management Guidelines to address these changes. This update reflects recent advances in our understanding of the disease mechanisms causing asthma, and the current best practices to manage asthma symptoms. As such, the updated guidelines are an im...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 7, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kathleen Haley, MD Tags: Asthma Drugs and Supplements Source Type: blogs

Women, alcohol, and COVID-19
Excessive alcohol use is a common response to coping with stress. Alcohol use increased following the September 11th terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The COVID-19 pandemic is following this same path. However, this pandemic is different in its scope and duration. COVID-19 is associated with both negative health and economic impacts, as well as grief, loss, and prolonged stress and uncertainty. The emotional impact of COVID-19 on women According to the U.S. National Pandemic Emotional Impact Report, compared to men, women reported higher rates of pandemic-related changes in productivity, sleep, mood, healt...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 6, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Dawn Sugarman, PhD Tags: Addiction Alcohol Coronavirus and COVID-19 Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Do vitamin D, zinc, and other supplements help prevent COVID-19 or hasten healing?
In this study, people whose symptoms did not require hospital admission were randomly assigned to receive only vitamin C, 8,000 mg/day (the recommended daily amount is 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men) only zinc, 50 mg/day (the recommended daily amount is 8 mg/day for women, 11 mg/day for men) both supplements at the doses above neither supplement. The researchers found that people receiving the supplements, whether individually or combined, had no improvement in symptoms or a faster recovery when compared with otherwise similar patients receiving neither supplement. Proponents of melatonin for COVID-19 have enc...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 5, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

An emerging treatment option for men with recurring prostate cancer after radiation therapy
Prostate cancer is often a multifocal disease, meaning that several tumors can be present in different parts of gland at the same time. Not all of these tumors are equally problematic, however. And it’s increasingly thought that the tumor with the most aggressive features — called the index lesion — dictates how a man’s cancer is likely to behave overall. That concept has given rise to a new treatment option. Called partial gland ablation (PGA), and also focal therapy, it entails treating only the index lesion and its surrounding tissues, instead of removing the prostate surgically or treating the w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Health Living With Prostate Cancer Prostate Knowledge Treatments HPK Source Type: blogs

Want to improve your memory? Get a good night ’s sleep!
There are few things that are as beneficial for your memory as having a good night’s sleep. Let’s understand why. If you’re tired, it’s hard to pay attention, and memory requires attention To remember information, you need to pay attention to it. If you’re tired, you simply cannot pay attention as effectively as you would if you were well rested. That statement seems straightforward, but it brings up another question: why do you get tired? You may feel tired and have trouble paying attention either because you’ve been awake too many hours and sleep pressure is building up, or — eve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Sleep Source Type: blogs

Can fitness counter fatness?
In a recent study, researchers attempted to answer the very question posed in the title of this post. Before delving into the findings of this study and how it fits with what we already know about this topic, let’s define some key terms. What do we mean by fitness and fatness? Fitness, also referred to as cardiovascular fitness or cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), is a measure of the performance of the heart, lungs, and muscles of the body. Muscle performance includes measures of both strength and endurance. Because of the connections between the mind and body, fitness also has an effect on mental alertness and emotio...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 1, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Chika Anekwe, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Source Type: blogs

Summer camp: What parents need to know this year
It’s time to make summer plans, and for many families, those plans include summer camp. After the year we’ve had, the idea of getting out of the house, being active, and seeing other children sounds very appealing. While there is reason to hope that this summer will be better than 2020, the reality is that COVID-19 will still be with us. The vaccines will make a difference, but they aren’t available yet for campers under the age of 16 — and the youth and young adults who make up most of the staff will likely not all have been vaccinated either. So as families make plans, they need to think about COV...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 31, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Exercise and Fitness Parenting Source Type: blogs

Harvard Health Ad Watch: Mitochondria do a lot for you — what can you do for them?
Ever see an ad for a product that sounds awesome and wondered if it was really that good? That happened to me recently. “How are you taking care of your mitochondria?” an announcer asked. Well, there’s a question I’m not asked every day. And it’s one for which I had no answer. Your cells are aging: Can supplements keep them young? This ad and an accompanying website describe their products this way: “a breakthrough range of nutritional solutions” supplements that “work in harmony with your body’s natural processes to rewrite the rules of cell aging” “helps ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 30, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Nutrition Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

Simple, low-cost, low-tech brain training
We’re all looking for ways to boost our brain power. And fortunately, there are plenty of simple, low-cost, low-tech ways to help sharpen cognition. “Low-tech, mentally stimulating activities, especially ones that are challenging, help our brains create new connections. The more connections we have, the more paths our brain has to get information to where it needs to go. This can help with improving cognition overall or in specific areas, depending on the activity,” says Dr. Joel Salinas, a behavioral neurologist and faculty member of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Low-tech bra...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 29, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Brain and cognitive health Healthy Aging Memory Source Type: blogs

School reopening? What parents need to know and can do
It’s amazing how something as ordinary as going to school can become frightening and overwhelming during a pandemic. While some children have been attending school throughout the pandemic, most have been learning remotely, or in a hybrid model of some remote and some in person. As we pass the one-year mark, it has become increasingly clear that children need to get back into their pre-pandemic school routines. It’s not just education that has suffered; being isolated at home is bad for the mental and physical health of children too. The problem is, the pandemic isn’t over yet. While vaccines are giving us...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 26, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Parenting Source Type: blogs

Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? So, what can you safely do?
Congrats on getting your COVID-19 vaccine! You qualify as fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, or two weeks after your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Maybe you’re wondering what you can safely do now that you’re fully vaccinated. As an infectious disease specialist, I’ve provided answers to some common questions. Please keep in mind that information about COVID-19 and vaccines is evolving, and recommendations may change as we learn more. Can I gather with people ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 25, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Amy C. Sherman, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Parenting Relationships Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Omega-3 fatty acids and the heart: New evidence, more questions
This study enrolled over 8,000 patients with elevated cardiovascular risk and high blood triglyceride levels. They assigned half of the study participants to receive 2 grams of Vascepa twice a day, and assigned the other participants a placebo (a pill filled with mineral oil). The results showed a significant benefit of Vascepa over the placebo. Vascepa reduced blood triglyceride levels, but more importantly, it reduced the number of heart attacks and strokes, the need for a heart stenting procedure to open clogged arteries, and death. A subsequent meta-analysis, which included data from over 10 studies, found fish oil ome...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 24, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Alyson Kelley-Hedgepeth, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Heart Health Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

Beyond CBD: Here come the other cannabinoids, but where ’s the evidence?
In the span of a few years, the component of cannabis called CBD (cannabidiol) went from being a relatively obscure molecule to a healthcare fad that has swept the world, spawning billions in sales, millions of users, CBD workout clothing, pillowcases, hamburgers, ice cream — you name it. The concerns of such a rapid adoption are that enthusiasm might be soaring high above the actual science, and that there are safety issues, such as drug interactions, that are given short shrift in the enthusiasm to treat chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and many of the other conditions that CBD is believed to help alleviate. Cannab...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 23, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Drugs and Supplements Fatigue Marijuana Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Zero weight loss from zero calorie drinks? Say it ain ’t so
Are you trying to cut back on calories by making the switch from regular soda to diet soda? Do you prefer carbonated water with a bit of flavor, such as Hint or LaCroix? Or maybe you’ve purchased a carbonating device like SodaStream or Drinkmate? Research suggests that none of these choices may actually help with weight loss. Worse, they might even lead to weight gain! The reason might surprise you. It sure surprised me. The problem with regular sodas isn’t just the calories If you’re drinking two 12-ounce cans of regular Coke each day, you could eliminate 280 “empty” (non-nutritive) calories ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 22, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Returning to sports and physical activity after COVID-19: What parents need to know
While most children and teens who have COVID-19 recover completely, sometimes the virus can have lasting effects. One of those effects can be damage to the muscle of the heart — and if a damaged heart is stressed by exercise, it can lead to arrhythmias, heart failure, or even sudden death. This appears to be rare. But given that we are literally learning as we go when it comes to COVID-19, it’s hard for us to know how rare — and just how risky exercise after testing positive for COVID-19 might be. To help doctors, coaches, gym teachers, parents, and caregivers make safe decisions, the American Academy of ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 19, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Exercise and Fitness Source Type: blogs

Numb from the news? Understanding why and what to do may help
In the spring of 2020, the pandemic catapulted many of us into shock and fear — our lives upended, our routines unmoored. Great uncertainty at the onset evolved into hope that, a year later, a semblance of normalcy might return. Yet not only do people continue to face uncertainty, but many of us have also reached a plateau of fatigue, resignation, and grief. We are living through a time of widespread illness, social and political unrest, economic fractures, and broken safety nets. Whether each of us experiences the ravages of this time close to home or as part of a larger circle, the symptoms of collective trauma are...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 18, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Richard F. Mollica, MD Tags: Behavioral Health Coronavirus and COVID-19 Fatigue Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Racial disparities and early-onset colorectal cancer: A call to action
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women in the US. Thanks in large part to increased screening of those over age 50 in last decade, overall CRC rates have been falling among the general population. However, the incidence of CRC among younger individuals in the US is rising at an alarming rate. Over the past 20 years, the rate of CRC has increased by 2.2% per year in people under age 50. Hidden within these statistics are the significant disparities in CRC incidence and outcomes that exist for African Americans. Compared to whites, African Americans have a 20% higher in...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 17, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew Chan, MD, MPH Tags: Cancer Digestive Disorders Health care disparities Source Type: blogs

4 essential nutrients — are you getting enough?
The newest dietary guidelines for Americans say that many Americans don’t get enough of four vital nutrients. Over time, a shortfall of these nutrients may affect different aspects of your health, from teeth and bones to your heart, gut, muscles, blood pressure, weight, and more. What is a nutritional shortfall? Nutritional advice can be confusing. Eat more of this, less of that. Make sure you get enough — but not too much. It’s no wonder many people have so-called nutritional shortfalls, where their diet lacks sufficient essential nutrients. So, which nutrients do you really need and how much? And what k...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 16, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Agoraphobia: Has COVID fueled this anxiety disorder?
The past year has been hard on most of us. Who hasn’t felt anxious? Who hasn’t wanted to retreat from the world at times? Staying home when possible as COVID-19 rates climbed felt safer — and in many places was required by lockdown rules. Yet, could growing accustomed to feeling less safe in public spaces seed, or feed, the anxiety disorder known as agoraphobia? If you’re wondering whether the discomfort you experience is normal or has crossed a line, read on. What is agoraphobia? People with agoraphobia become anxious in places where they feel helpless, out of control, stuck, or judged. Someone who...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 15, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Bobbi Wegner, PsyD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Mental Health Stress Source Type: blogs

But I don ’t feel like exercising …
Not long after the first fitness magazine was published, a list probably followed soon after, ranking the best fitness equipment. This tradition has continued, with the implicit message: use this and exercise will be yours. And that’s part of the problem, says Dr. Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of biological sciences and human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. There isn’t one “best” anything to achieve fitness. Besides, people already know. They’ve heard the federal recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. They understand that exercise is good for them. Knowledge ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 12, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Behavioral Health Exercise and Fitness Source Type: blogs

You got the COVID-19 vaccine? I have vaccine envy
I admit it: I have vaccine envy. It’s that feeling of jealousy, disappointment, or resentment you feel when someone else gets the vaccine for COVID-19 — and you can’t. I’m not proud of it. We should all be celebrating the astounding speed with which multiple effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines were developed. Millions of people are receiving them daily, bringing the increasingly real possibility of herd immunity closer day by day. So, I should just be patient, right? It’s not easy. Vaccine envy is inevitable Current evidence suggests vaccination could save your life and those around you while...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 11, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Health policy Vaccines Source Type: blogs

Glaucoma: What ’s new and what do I need to know?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide, and the second leading cause of permanent blindness in the United States. An estimated three million people in the United States have glaucoma, a number that is expected to increase to 6.3 million in the next 30 years. Although glaucoma is more common in adults older than 60, it can develop at any age. While there is currently no cure for glaucoma, vision loss can be slowed or stopped if the disease is diagnosed and treated early. What is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of disorders that damage the optic nerve of the eye, which carries visual signals from the re...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 11, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Joan Miller, MD Tags: Eye Health Healthy Aging Source Type: blogs

A look at the 2020 –2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), published by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), provide science-based recommendations on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. The guidelines provide a framework for policy makers and nutrition and health professionals to help individuals consume a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet. They also help inform dietary planning for federal programs including the National School Lunch Program, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), and the...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 10, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Carol Sullivan, MS, RD, CSO, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Could what we eat improve our sleep?
We think of eating a nutritious diet and exercising as healthy behaviors, but sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Why is this? Sleep sets the stage for our days. If we experience sound sleep for seven to eight hours, we arise energized in the morning. Diet, exercise, and sleep work synergistically, and affect one another. All three can have an effect on our daily well-being and longevity. To be well and vital and help prevent certain diseases, like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and many other conditions, we need to prioritize sleep. When we make sleep a priority, we can impr...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 9, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Pegg Frates, MD Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Healthy Eating Mental Health Prevention Sleep Source Type: blogs

What is COVID-19 brain fog — and how can you clear it?
As a cognitive behavioral neurologist, I’ve been hearing from many individuals who are complaining of “brain fog” after infection with COVID-19. So I thought it was worth discussing exactly what COVID-19 brain fog is, and some things to do that might help clear it. What is brain fog? Let’s start by trying to understand brain fog. Brain fog is not a medical or scientific term; it is used by individuals to describe how they feel when their thinking is sluggish, fuzzy, and not sharp. We all experience this feeling from time to time. Perhaps you couldn’t think clearly when you were sick with the f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 8, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Andrew E. Budson, MD Tags: Coronavirus and COVID-19 Health Memory Neurological conditions Source Type: blogs

Heavy metals in baby food? What parents should know and do
If there is anything you can trust to be safe, it should be baby food, right? Well… maybe not. A report from the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform says that commercial baby foods are tainted with dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Which baby food companies are involved? The report was based on information from just four companies that make baby food: Nurture, Beech-Nut, Hain, and Gerber. Arsenic, lead, and cadmium were found in baby foods from all of the companies; mercury was found in the food from the only company that tested for it (Nurture). Of note, three other companies (Walmart,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - March 5, 2021 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Parenting Source Type: blogs