Healthy meals: 3 easy steps to success
Healthy meals don’t just happen — you need to make them happen. Here are three easy steps to get you on your way. Step 1: Make a plan The first step is to plan your menu for the week. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just jot down what you and your family would like to eat. Then think about ways to make your choices healthier. Substitute chicken breast for steak and add more vegetables, for example. Can you streamline your cooking? Consider cooking a large batch of grains on the weekend and using them in more than one meal. Step 2: Shop smart You’ve already planned your menu. Once you make your shop...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Nutrition Source Type: blogs

Cannabis is medicine — don’t make it taste good
Most of the clinical fiascos I’ve seen and heard about associated with cannabis consumption have involved the use of cannabis edibles, going back to the days when two bohemian college roommates visited Amsterdam, took two “space cakes,” waited 30 minutes, took two more, and spent the next 20 hours clinging to each other and hiding in the closet. I asked, “How was Amsterdam?” In unison, they replied, “We don’t know.” I was surprised recently to be accused of “reefer madness” when I suggested, on Twitter, that cannabis shouldn’t be formulated into gummy bears ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Marijuana Mental Health Safety Source Type: blogs

I see you –– but don’t ask me how I’m doing
On the worst day of my life, I noticed how many times an hour Americans ask some version of “how’s it going?” without actually wanting to know the answer. It happens when we pass each other in the halls at work, at the park, in line at Starbucks. We ask when making small talk before getting down to business. It even happens when we are waiting for the test results that reveal we have cancer. How’s it going? On January 19, 2018, I parried that question five or six times before one of my best friends at the office asked it. It felt like I would be lying to not answer. “This week, man—&rdqu...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Adam P. Stern, MD Tags: Cancer Health Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Human insulin may be a lower-cost option for some people with diabetes
Of the estimated 23 million people in the US who have been diagnosed with diabetes, more than 30% take daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar (glucose) levels. Chances are good that someone you know has been startled by the high cost of this medication. The high price of insulin Prices for this essential medication have been rising faster than overall health care costs. From 2002 to 2013 prices tripled, doubling again from 2012 to 2016 and continuing upward since. Patients can be charged hundreds or even thousands of dollars for insulin at the pharmacy. And insulin costs can vary depending on type and amount...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - June 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Elizabeth Bashoff, MD Tags: Diabetes Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

FDA curbs unfounded memory supplement claims
I must have seen the commercial for Prevagen 50 times. Perhaps you’ve seen it, too: “You might take something for your heart… your joints… your digestion. So why wouldn’t you take something for the most important part of you… your brain? With an ingredient originally found in jellyfish! Healthier brain, better life!” Like many heavily-advertised supplements, this one makes many claims. The bottle promises it “improves memory” and “supports: healthy brain function, sharper mind, clearer thinking.” Never mind that the main ingredient in jellyfish (apoaequor...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 31, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Brain and cognitive health Drugs and Supplements Memory Vitamins and supplements Source Type: blogs

Topical treatment helps prevent actinic keratosis from developing into skin cancer
In this study, 624 patients with multiple actinic keratoses were randomized to treatment with one of the four aforementioned field-directed treatments. The primary endpoint of the study was the percentage of patients who had at least 75% reduction in their number of actinic keratoses after one year. The study found that the percentage of patients who achieved this goal was significantly higher in people treated with topical fluorouracil (75%), compared to those treated with topical imiquimod (54%), photodynamic therapy (38%), and topical ingenol mebutate (29%). This seminal study highlights the important role of field-dire...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kristina Liu, MD, MHS Tags: Cancer Health Immunotherapy Skin and Hair Care Source Type: blogs

Are certain types of sugars healthier than others?
Most people consume many different types of sugars from a variety of foods and beverages in their diet. A high intake of sugar is linked to an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. But whether some sugars are healthier (or worse) than others remains a question of interest to many. Sugar basics Sugar provides energy that our cells need to survive. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, a macronutrient that provides energy (in the form of calories) from foods and beverages we consume. Carbohydrates are classified into two subtypes of sugar: monosaccharides, or “simple sugars...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Vasanti Malik, ScD Tags: Diabetes Diet and Weight Loss Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

Anxiety in college: What we know and how to cope
Even amid the rush of final exams and graduation celebrations at this time of year, college beckons with the chance to live on your own, find new friends, and explore interesting ideas. Yet for college students — as well as high school students and parents craning for a glimpse down the road — these changes can also be stressful. Overnight, college students separate from their traditional support system of family and friends. They also face many new challenges, such as living with roommates, managing heavy workloads, and developing an independent identity. It’s no surprise that anxiety often spikes during...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 28, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA Tags: Adolescent health Anxiety and Depression Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Beer before wine? Wine before beer?
Apparently, this is an important question for people hoping to avoid hangovers — at least, it was important enough that researchers have published a study about it. And we may now have an answer. Researchers enrolled 90 adults between the ages of 19 and 40, randomly assigning them to one of three groups: Group 1 drank beer until their breath alcohol level was at least .05%, then drank wine until it was at least .11%. That’s well over the limit of what can get you charged with drunk driving in the US. Group 2 drank wine until their breath alcohol level was at least .05%, then drank beer until it was at least .1...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Alcohol Behavioral Health Folk remedies Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Measles: The forgotten killer
As a medical student, the place I dreaded most was the ward at the children’s hospital where they kept the chronic ventilator patients. Unlike the other floors, where there was shouting and laughter and tears, and all the commotion and turbulence of youth, here it was dark and lifeless and eerie, with no sound except the hum of the ventilators, and the rattle of air being forced through plastic tubes. It was a place of failure and defeat, the desolate aftermath of some vast and tragic battle. An unexpected aftermath of measles My patient was a teenager who had been in a coma for years. His limbs had stubbornly twiste...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: John Ross, MD, FIDSA Tags: Children's Health Infectious diseases Men's Health Vaccines Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Ketamine for major depression: New tool, new questions
Ketamine was once used mainly as an anesthetic on battlefields and in operating rooms. Now this medication is gaining ground as a promising treatment for some cases of major depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the US, recent estimates show 16 million adults had an episode of major depression in the course of a year. Suicide rates rose substantially between 1999 and 2016, increasing by more than 30% in 25 states. Because of its rapid action, ketamine could have a role to play in helping to prevent suicide. Why is ketamine exciting for treating depression? If a person responds to ketamine, it c...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert C. Meisner, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Health trends Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Public policies to stop kids from drinking sugary drinks
Added sugar is bad for kids. It can lead to cavities, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. That’s why it’s recommended that children get no more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugar. The problem is that according to recent data, added sugar makes up 17% of the daily calories of the average child and teen. Almost half of that comes not from food, but from sugary drinks. Pediatricians have long said that children and teens should avoid sugary beverages, including juices with added sugar and soda. Yet consumption has not gone down. Some of that has to do with habits, which can be notoriously hard to ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 21, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Nutrition Parenting Source Type: blogs

Herpes infection of the cornea
The clear tissue at the front of the eye is known as the cornea, and it must remain crystal clear in order for an individual to see clearly. The herpes viruses can infect the cornea, causing damage to tissue and possibly causing lasting visual impairment if not quickly identified and treated. Herpes simplex: the cold sore virus One of the most common infections of the cornea is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV type I and HSV type II), or the cold sore virus. The most common question from patients with HSV infection of the cornea is “How did I get this?” The answer is fairly simple. The virus is everywher...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 20, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Emma Davies, MD Tags: Eye Health Infectious diseases Source Type: blogs

What causes kidney stones (and what to do)
Stone disease has plagued humanity since ancient times. Kidney stones have been identified in Egyptian mummies. The Hippocratic oath describes their treatment: “I will not use the knife, not even verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.” Who gets kidney stones and why? The lifetime risk of kidney stones among adults in the US is approximately 9%, and it appears that global warming may be increasing that risk. (As the climate warms, human beings are more likely to get dehydrated, which increases the risk of stone formation.) There are four major types of kidney sto...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Kevin R. Loughlin, MD, MBA Tags: Health Healthy Aging Kidney and urinary tract Source Type: blogs

Treating constipation with biofeedback for the pelvic floor
Constipation is often clinically defined as having three or fewer bowel movements a week. Sometimes this is about expectations; people generally feel like they’re not “healthy” if they don’t have a bowel movement every day. But three bowel movements a week can be normal for some people, especially if that has been their pattern for a long time. There are many other factors that affect how people perceive bowel movements. According to the Rome IV criteria of constipation often used in research, frequency alone doesn’t explain all complaints of constipation. Patients complaining of two or more o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Judy Nee, MD Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Digestive Disorders Health Source Type: blogs

Microbiome: The first 1,000 days
In the United States and other developed countries, we have seen a shift over the past several decades in the types of illness people struggle with. Public health campaigns around vaccination, sanitation, and judicious use of antibiotics have largely eradicated many infectious illnesses. As the nature of disease has shifted to inflammatory conditions, we’ve seen a striking increase in allergy and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis. The microbiome — the varied and teeming colonies of gut bacteria inside of us — may be helping ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Allan Walker, MD Tags: Digestive Disorders Family Planning and Pregnancy Inflammation Probiotics Source Type: blogs

Young children are swallowing objects twice as often as before
When my oldest daughter was 3 and my older son was 18 months old, I once entered the living room to find my daughter feeding my son quarters. She had found them between the cushions of the couch, where they had presumably fallen from my husband’s pants pockets. Luckily I intervened before any were swallowed, but it was a close call (after that, my husband had to empty his pockets at the door as soon as he came home). Children, especially children those under 5 years of age, often put things in their mouths that don’t belong there. Part of it is how they explore the world. Putting something in their mouth is as ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 14, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Children's Health Parenting Safety Source Type: blogs

Big problems for big toe joints
Big toe joint problems aren’t fun, as many people know from personal experience. Red, swollen, or misshapen joints can be unsightly. Still worse, though, is the pain –– and sometimes the risk of immobility –– that accompanies big toe joint problems. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to help relieve pain and keep you from slowing down. Big toe 101 The big toe has two joints, but the one most vulnerable to problems is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. It connects the first long bone (metatarsal) in the forefoot to the first bone of the big toe (phalanx). The MTP joint bends with eve...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 13, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Heidi Godman Tags: Bones and joints Exercise and Fitness Foot Care Health Source Type: blogs

Undoing the harm: Tapering down from high-dose opioids
For many years, health care providers like me were told that we were undertreating pain and that pain was a vital sign that needed to be measured. Concurrently, we were reassured that opioids were a safe and effective way to treat pain, with very little potential for development of abuse. As a result, opioid prescriptions in the United States skyrocketed. A common way to compare opioids is to calculate their strength relative to morphine, called morphine milligram equivalents, or MMEs. In 1992, our country dispensed 25 billion MMEs of prescription opioids; by 2011, that number had reached 242 billion. Meanwhile, opioid-rel...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Scott Weiner, MD Tags: Addiction Pain Management Risks and Prevention Source Type: blogs

Stool transplants are now standard of care for recurrent C. difficile infections
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), also known as stool transplantation, is a procedure in which stool from a healthy donor is placed into the gut of a patient in order to treat a certain disease. FMT is not a new concept, but in the last six years it has become a standard-of-care therapy for the treatment of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Treating infection with C. difficile Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that is ever-present in our environment. Many people have C. diff in their bodies without issue; it is not the bacteria itself that makes you sick. However, under certain conditions,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Jessica Allegretti, MD, MPH Tags: Health Infectious diseases Tests and procedures Source Type: blogs

The latest deadly superbug — and why it’s not time to panic
I have to admit it: recent news reports about a newly described “superbug” are worrisome and at least a little bit terrifying. This time, it’s not a flesh-eating bacterium or drug-resistant tuberculosis — in fact, it’s not a bacterial infection at all. It’s a fungus called Candida auris (C. auris). If the first part of the name sounds familiar, that may be because other Candida species (such as Candida albicans, glabrata, and tropicalis) cause common vaginal and skin infections. They’re often called yeast infections and while quite bothersome, they only rarely cause serious illness...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Health Health trends Infectious diseases Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

5 ways we can help our children succeed
In the wake of the recent college admissions scandal, in which rich parents paid thousands or even millions of dollars to bribe coaches or have someone else take standardized tests for their children so that they could get into elite colleges, there has been a lot of discussion about admission to elite colleges — and about what it takes to succeed. All parents want their children to succeed in life. Going to an elite college can help, mostly in terms of networking and resume-building, but is that the ticket to success? Probably not. True success and happiness in life comes from being able to create, persevere, roll w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 7, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Intensive treatment of blood pressure helps prevent memory decline in older adults
This study, as well as the larger SPRINT study, also demonstrated that overall intensive treatment of blood pressure in older adults is safe. However, we do know that some individuals may develop dizziness, imbalance, and in rare instances strokes with intensive blood pressure lowering. For that reason, it is important to discuss your blood pressure management with your primary care physician and follow his or her recommendation. How do cardiovascular risk factors affect brain health? We have evidence from studies of the population, studies of brain scans, and studies of animals, that treatment of cardiovascular risk facto...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 6, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Gad Marshall, MD Tags: Alzheimer's Disease Brain and cognitive health Heart Health Hypertension and Stroke Memory Prevention Source Type: blogs

Going public with sobriety
Alcoholism is hardly a rare disorder in the United States. According to recent studies, 12.7% of adult Americans currently suffer from alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism; according to other studies, 29% will meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their adult lives. If you add drugs to the mix, addiction (substance use disorder, including alcoholism) is even more common: it is estimated that in 2015, 20.8 million Americans met criteria for a substance use disorder within the prior year. Given how common this problem is, one might think addiction would be readily accepted by o...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Peter Grinspoon, MD Tags: Addiction Alcohol Source Type: blogs

The trouble with new drugs
When a drug is approved by the FDA, it may seem like it’s only a matter of time before some unexpected side effects are discovered. Perhaps it seems that way because it’s true! According to a study of all drugs approved between 2001 and 2010, the FDA announced alerts, warnings, or recalls on about one-third of them in the years after their approval. Some of the side effects were minor and easily managed. For example, there might be a warning to avoid taking a new medication at the same time as another medication. But sometimes the “side effect” is death. And that’s the case with a new warning ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Drugs and Supplements Health Source Type: blogs

Baby boomers and hepatitis C: What ’s the connection?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is spread through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis C infection can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Most people with acute hepatitis C eventually develop chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C usually does not cause symptoms, which is why most people with hepatitis C don’t know that they are infected. Left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Why screen baby boomers for hepatitis C? Why are we recommending screening of adults in the baby boomer generation? To understand this, it’s worth reviewing how we got here. In 199...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - May 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Raymond Chung, MD Tags: Health Healthy Aging Infectious diseases Screening Source Type: blogs

Spring training: Moving from couch to 5K
Need a little motivation and structure to ramp up your walking routine this spring? Want to wake up your workouts? Consider trying a couch-to-5K program. What is a couch-to-5K program? These free or low-cost coaching plans are designed to help would-be runners train for a 5-kilometer race, which is about 3.1 miles. The programs are available online, or as apps or podcasts. They typically feature timed walking and running intervals that gradually phase out the walking over a period of about nine weeks. Why try a couch-to-5K program? “The purpose of a couch-to-5K program is to give you time to acclimate and start to en...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 30, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Exercise and Fitness Health Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Highly accurate test reveals recurring prostate cancer
After being treated for prostate cancer, some men will experience a rise in PSA levels suggesting that new tumors lurk somewhere in the body. Finding these tiny cancerous deposits before they grow and spread any further is crucially important. But it’s also a challenge, since the budding tumors might be too small to see with standard tools such as magnetic resonance imaging. Now scientists in California have published results with an experimental imaging technique that detects recurring prostate cancer with the best accuracy reported yet. Importantly, some of the unveiled tumors were “still curable with targete...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Charlie Schmidt Tags: Living With Prostate Cancer HPK Source Type: blogs

TAVR: Aortic valve replacement without open-heart surgery
There has been a flurry of news recently about a procedure called trans-catheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for the treatment of the common heart condition aortic stenosis (AS). You may even know people who have had this procedure performed. What exactly is TAVR? And what’s all the excitement about? What is aortic stenosis? First, it’s important to understand the condition that TAVR is designed to treat, aortic stenosis. The aortic valve is the last structure of the heart through which blood passes before entering the aorta and circulating throughout the body. The aortic valve has three flaps, called leafl...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 29, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Pinak B. Shah, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Mother ’s Day: Tools for coping when celebration brings pain
Mother’s Day is fast approaching. As an infertility counselor, I always greet the holiday with mixed emotions. I look forward to the lilacs in full bloom, the feeling that spring is finally here, and the chance to wish some of my clients a long awaited “Happy First Mother’s Day,” knowing that they struggled for years with infertility or recurrent miscarriage. However, I am also reminded of what a difficult day this is for many women –– not only those struggling to become moms. It’s hard for women who have lost their mothers, mothers who have lost children, women who placed children...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 27, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Mental Health Relationships Source Type: blogs

Ease anxiety and stress: Take a (belly) breather
Quick: think of three things that make you feel anxious or stressed. Most of us have no trouble reeling off answers. And people who suffer from anxiety disorders — such as social anxiety, phobias, or generalized anxiety — may have a variety of triggers that send anxiety soaring. While belly breathing alone can’t fix deep-seated anxieties, it works well as a tool to help ease anxiety and garden-variety stress. Regularly engaging in belly breathing (or trying the mini strategy described below) can help you turn a fight-or-flight response into a relaxation response that’s beneficial to your health. How...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 26, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Matthew Solan Tags: Anxiety and Depression Health Stress Source Type: blogs

Phytonutrients: Paint your plate with the colors of the rainbow
Did you know that adding color to your meals will help you live a longer, healthier life? Colorful fruits and vegetables can paint a beautiful picture of health because they contain phytonutrients, compounds that give plants their rich colors as well as their distinctive tastes and aromas. Phytonutrients also strengthen a plant’s immune system. They protect the plant from threats in their natural environment such as disease and excessive sun. When humans eat plant foods, phytonutrients protect us from chronic diseases. Phytonutrients have potent anti-cancer and anti-heart disease effects. And epidemiological research...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 25, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN Tags: Health Healthy Eating Source Type: blogs

MitraClip: Valve repair device offers new treatment option for some with severe mitral regurgitation
Mitral valve regurgitation (MR), a condition in which the mitral valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the heart’s upper chamber, is the most common disease of the heart valves. It can cause symptoms such as cough, fatigue, and trouble breathing. The risk of MR increases with age. Until recently, there were only two methods of treatment for MR: medication and open-heart surgery. During this surgery, the surgeon accesses the heart by opening up the breastbone. He or she either repairs or replaces the mitral valve while a heart-lung machine takes over the job of the heart and lungs while the h...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 24, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tsuyoshi Kaneko, MD Tags: Health Heart Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Activity: It all counts
This study included a wide variety of activities. We can discover an activity that we enjoy, and do it regularly. We can also work activity into our regular day. I saw a sign hanging on a door recently, a brightly colored advertisement: “Free Exercise Equipment Inside! Open This Door for Your Free Workout Machine!” The door led to the stairwell. And that’s the idea. Every little bit counts, so if you are blessed with the ability and the good health to move your body, do it! Park farther away from the entrance of stores and walk extra. Grab a basket, not a cart, and work your biceps while you shop. While w...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 23, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Exercise and Fitness Prevention Source Type: blogs

Infertility: Extra embryos –– too much of a good thing?
For infertility patients, an IVF cycle can feel like a numbers game. How many follicles are developing well? How many oocytes are retrieved? How many will fertilize? And most important, how many embryos will be ready to transfer into the womb? Although many people say “it only takes one,” I have found that most people going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are hoping for several. Why do people hope for several embryos? If it only takes one, why hope for more? For those struggling with infertility, safety in numbers may feel heartening. Some families hope to have more than one child, and welcome the chance t...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 22, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Men's Health Women's Health Source Type: blogs

Eating breakfast won ’t help you lose weight, but skipping it might not either
Yet another study has dispelled the popular “you have to eat breakfast” myth, and I’m thrilled. The breakfast cereal aisle is the most nutritionally horrifying area of the supermarket, crawling with sugary carbs in all shapes and flavors, all disguised as health food. It’s true — eating breakfast is not associated with eating less nor with weight loss, which begs the question: can skipping breakfast help with weight loss? What does research tell us about eating breakfast? A plethora of intermittent fasting studies suggest that extending the overnight fast is indeed associated with weight loss,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 19, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Diet and Weight Loss Health Nutrition Source Type: blogs

The heart and science of kindness
Kindness (noun): the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; a kind act. — English Oxford Living Dictionaries Ombudspeople like myself have a unique view of the institutions they serve. Some of us fondly refer to it as the “view from the underbelly” of our organizations. The urgent calls we get aren’t to share a recent act of kindness. Visitors who arrive at our offices often do so feeling under siege from less than kindly forces. We hear repeatedly of our visitors’ desire to be treated with kindness, and of the wish that they could themselves rise above unkindness to be their be...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 18, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Melissa Brodrick, MEd Tags: Mental Health Relationships Stress Workplace health Source Type: blogs

How to handle stress at work
If you’re currently working, you probably know what it feels like to be stressed on the job. A must-do project arrives without warning. Three emails stack up for each one you delete. Phones ring, meetings are scheduled, a coworker drops the ball on a shared assignment. How does your body react to work stress? Imagine for a moment that your boss has emailed you about an unfinished assignment (a stressor). Your body and mind instantly respond, activating a physical reaction called the fight-or-flight response. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, and your muscles tense. At the same time you might say to yours...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 17, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Nicole J. LeBlanc, MA Tags: Anxiety and Depression Stress Workplace health Source Type: blogs

What to do with that foam roller at the gym?
The foam roller is possibly the least intimidating piece of equipment in the gym. It’s light. It’s no-tech. And like most things in the gym, you’ve heard something about its benefits, seen a few people using it, and wonder if you should be doing the same. What is myofascial release? Foam rolling is a myofascial release technique. The fascia is a sheet of fibrous connective tissue made of collagen that surrounds muscles. It holds muscles in place and helps them glide through their range of motion, says Carina O’Neill, DO, medical director of Spaulding Outpatient Center–Braintree. Think of the r...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 16, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Back Pain Exercise and Fitness Health Source Type: blogs

5 reasons we need to help kids live “heads up” instead of “heads down”
I was recently at an accepted-students day at a local university with my daughter, and the president of the university spoke of how youth these days live a “heads down” life. We need them to be more “heads up,” he said. He is right. He is quite literally right that our youth are “heads down.” Our children and teens, like the rest of us, have their faces in their phones more often than not. We’ve grown used to it. Everywhere we go, kids are looking down at their phones and other devices. This could have real implications not just now, but for their future — because looking dow...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 15, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Claire McCarthy, MD Tags: Adolescent health Parenting Source Type: blogs

Is obesity a reason to avoid joint replacement surgery?
“Come back when you’ve lost 40 pounds.” That’s something obese patients have heard often when being evaluated for a hip or knee replacement for severe arthritis. And sometimes the recommendation is to lose even more — 50, 75, or even 100 pounds… as if that’s an easy or realistic prospect. As you might expect, patients hearing this often feel disappointed and disheartened. After all, most have already tried hard to lose weight with limited success. Their arthritis pain impairs their ability to exercise, and decreasing activity has contributed to their weight gain. So being told to ...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 12, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Robert H. Shmerling, MD Tags: Arthritis Bones and joints Health Surgery Source Type: blogs

Brain-gut connection explains why integrative treatments can help relieve digestive ailments
During the 20th century, medicine became very good at compartmentalizing different systems of the body in order to understand them better. However, today we are increasingly realizing that different systems of the body are interconnected and cannot be completely understood in isolation. The brain-gut connection is one very important example of this phenomenon. Anatomy of the brain-gut connection What exactly is the connection between brain and gut? The brain sends signals to the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI), tract via the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system and the parasympathetic (“rest...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 11, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Michelle Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Digestive Disorders Health Mind body medicine Pain Management Source Type: blogs

Can you strong-arm diabetes?
There is a strong link between diabetes and fitness. Many studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes lose more muscle mass and strength over time than people with normal blood sugars. This is thought to be a major reason why diabetes is associated with functional limitation, impaired mobility, and loss of independence. Studies have also shown that combining aerobic and resistance training can not only improve blood sugars in people who have diabetes, but can also prevent diabetes from developing. For these reasons, scientists are very interested in the relationship between diabetes and fitness, teasing out the dif...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 10, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Monique Tello, MD, MPH Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Easy daily ways to feel more connected
I’ve got some legitimate skills: in no particular order, making pesto, finding lost LEGO pieces, and having debates in my head. That last one might be my specialty. I work for myself and by myself, tumbling around thoughts and words all day. But it doesn’t stay at my desk. I get into internal beefs, turning imagined conversations and arguments over and over. I need to find ways to pull out of my head, to feel more connected and less isolated every day. Getting out of your head One difficulty is that it’s normal to be in your head. “It’s always there and comfortable. It’s reassuring to yo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 9, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Steve Calechman Tags: Health Mental Health Mind body medicine Relationships Source Type: blogs

Will blue light from electronic devices increase my risk of macular degeneration and blindness?
Every day, retinal specialists are asked about the risks from blue light emitted from electronic devices. (Retinal specialists treat conditions affecting the retina, a thin tissue at the back of the eye that is responsible for vision.) Many people ask whether blue light will increase their risk of age-related macular degeneration and blindness. The short answer to this common question is no. The amount of blue light from electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, LCD TVs, and laptop computers, is not harmful to the retina or any other part of the eye. What is blue light? Blue light is visible light between 400 and...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 8, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: David Ramsey, MD, PhD, MPH Tags: Eye Health Source Type: blogs

Lead exposure and heart disease
When we think about the health effects of lead contamination, the biggest worry is for babies and young children. Lead, a heavy metal that is widespread in the environment, can harm developing brains. But growing evidence suggests that low levels of lead in the blood may also raise the risk of heart disease in adults. Last year, a study in Lancet Public Health found a link between lead exposure and a higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The data came from more than 14,000 people in the United States who were adults in the late 1980s. The association persisted after researchers controlled for many confounding f...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 5, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Julie Corliss Tags: Environmental health Heart Health Source Type: blogs

Discontinuation syndrome and antidepressants
Discontinuation and change are part of life. We all start and stop various activities. Jobs change, relationships change. So, too, may medical treatments, such as antidepressants that help many people navigate depression and anxiety. Planning changes in advance tends to make things easier and smoother. You may start a medication for treatment and discover that it’s not helping your particular medical issue. Or perhaps you’re having side effects. Or maybe your condition has improved, and you no longer need the drug. If so, working with your doctor to change or stop taking an antidepressant slowly may help y...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 4, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Christopher Bullock, MD Tags: Anxiety and Depression Mental Health Source Type: blogs

Addressing weight bias in medicine
You happen to be among the two-thirds of Americans with overweight and obesity (defined as a body mass index of 25 or greater), and you are just thrilled to go to your next doctor’s appointment, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, if you have a diagnosis of overweight or obesity, you might find the doctor’s office to be the least inviting place to be. Maybe you find that there are no chairs to accommodate you in the waiting room. When the medical staff takes your blood pressure, you might find that they struggle to find the right size cuff. You might feel as though you are weighed in a disrespectful fashion. Or maybe,...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 3, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP, FTOS  Tags: Health Source Type: blogs

Infertility: Other people ’s pregnancies
When you are having difficulty becoming or staying pregnant, it often seems as if everyone around you –– friends, family, colleagues –– is pregnant. How can you navigate your world and maintain your relationships while coping with the pain and isolation infertility so often brings? Support for navigating other people’s pregnancies In my experience, solid relationships survive infertility. It can be excruciatingly painful when you learn that a friend is pregnant. But if your relationship is based on mutual respect and caring, you will get through it. Trust this, while considering the suggestion...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 2, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW Tags: Fertility Infertility Source Type: blogs

Vulvar health: Navigating the nether regions
As an obstetrician/gynecologist, I spend my days examining women’s reproductive organs. My patients come to my office with a variety of concerns, some of which can be grouped under the heading of vulvar health. However, many women do not feel comfortable discussing precisely what is bothering them. And rather than use the anatomically correct word — vulva — my patients often tell me, “I have a problem down there.” My job is to figure out what they mean, explain helpful points about vulvar and vaginal health, and empower them to understand their bodies. A look at the anatomy To begin, let&rsquo...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - April 1, 2019 Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Huma Farid, MD Tags: Health Sexual Conditions Women's Health Source Type: blogs