Category: Health

Monitoring Your Risk of Stroke Is Very Important for Women

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

A new set of stroke prevention guidelines was recently released by the American Heart Association and it has big news for women.

In the past there wasn’t much difference in the guidelines for men and women. Stroke risk was measured in the same way, as well as treated in a similar way.

The new guidelines warn that women of all ages should pay more attention to their stroke risk than the average man. It is especially important to watch blood pressure and make sure it is within a healthy range before getting pregnant or going on birth control pills.

Women have a higher chance of having the risk factors that are associated with stroke.

These include:

  • Abnormal Heart Rhythms
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine
  • Post-menopausal

Stroke is the third leading cause of death for women. Heart disease and cancer have the first and second places.

Not only do women have the same risks for stroke as men, they have additional risks caused by pregnancy complications, hormone use (birth control, hormone replacement therapy), and other ways that the hormones can become unbalanced.

Symptoms of a Stroke

A stroke happens when either a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or the blood supply to the brain is blocked somehow. When blood can’t get to brain tissue the cells begin to die off.

The symptoms of stroke are similar in both men and women but there are some differences, too.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Drooping of the face
  • Numbness or weakness in arm
  • Trouble understanding

Symptoms in women tend to be more difficult to see. It may be that they really are more subtle or it may be that women have a tendency to try to push through pain and discomfort.

One of the most frequent signs of a stroke in a woman is her sudden inability to communicate. I bet the male doctors laughed when they read that; what do you think?

Stroke Prevention

  • You should be screened for high blood pressure before taking birth control pills. The combination of the two increases the risk of stroke.
  • If you have high blood pressure and are planning on getting pregnant, ask your doctor about low dose aspirin therapy to lower preeclampsia risks.
  • Since women who have had preeclampsia during pregnancy have twice the risk of stroke and four times the risk of high blood pressure later on in their lives.

If you have migraines where you see moving dots or blinking lights, pay close attention to your blood pressure. Obviously quit smoking if you are a smoker — it raises the risks considerably.

As always, the best way to prevent stroke or heart attacks is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, cut back on your saturated fats, drink lots of water, and take a walk everyday. That’s not so difficult to say but with our busy lifestyles it can be really hard to do.

I work at home and you’d think it would be easy to take a break at lunch and go for a walk, right? The truth is that I rarely eat lunch and when I do it’s usually right at my computer — one of the main reasons I constantly battle with sticky keys!

Make a promise to yourself to make time in your day for your health. It’s important.

photo credit: mikecogh via photopin cc

Why Are You Hungry?

Posted on Aug 29, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re like many people, including me, one of your goals is to drop some weight. I stayed on target for January, but then a couple of birthdays, and other special occasions kind of derailed my efforts—not totally, but enough to bring my weight loss to a standstill.

My biggest problem is when I revert to snacking in addition to my meals. For some reason when I start snacking I often can’t find the shut off. I eat more than I should. Then because I’ve “blown it” I tend to throw in the towel for the entire day and eat more!

The purpose for eating is nourishment but that’s not what sends us looking for something to eat. It’s hunger or perceived hunger. It’s that perceived hunger that gets us into trouble. A new study has started to untangle why we eat when we aren’t really hungry.

Over the past 20 years, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) neuroendocrinologist Bradford Lowell, MD, PhD, has been looking at the complicated jumble of neurocircuits in the brain that underlie hunger.

Key among his findings has been the discovery that “Agouti-peptide (AgRP) expressing neurons – a group of nerve cells in the brain’s hypothalamus – are activated by caloric deficiency, and when either naturally or artificially stimulated in animal models, will cause mice to eat voraciously after conducting a relentless search for food.”

The study was published on-line in the journal Nature. The lab using a chemogenetic technique known as DREADDs discovered hunger-inducing neurons in a region of the brain which “has long been thought to have the opposite effect – causing satiety.”

When I read this, of course I wanted to claim it as the problem I face. The study was done using mice. Mice that had already consumed their daily meal and showed no interest in food were exposed to DREADD stimulation. It resulted in a voracious search for something to eat. Sounds like me going through the refrigerator after dinner!

On the other side of the spectrum, mice that had been fasting did not react that way. While they should have been hungry and ready to eat, they ate very little when the neurons were turned off.

This new information is painting a clearer picture of what drives appetite. It’s the hunger-inducing neurons found in the paraventricular nucleus.

According to the study’s author, further study is needed in how the brain controls hunger. ”

“Abnormal hunger can lead to obesity and eating disorders, but in order to understand what might be wrong – and how to treat it – you first need to know how it works. Otherwise, it’s like trying to fix a car without knowing how the engine operates.” (Newswise)

Photo credits: Janet Hudson

Link Round-up: Therapy, Cinnamon Rolls, Gifts, and More

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has tips for getting help for depression and anxiety online, cinnamon roll twists, a gift idea, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie showed us how to make a delicious vegetarian chili.

One Good Thing by Jillee talks about finding a counselor you can visit via Skype.

A Beautiful Mess shared a fabulous gift idea for sisters.

link ru cinnamon roll twists

Annie’s Noms shared a recipe for cinnamon roll twists.

Kenarry shared an amazing mountain home makeover.

Create Craft Love taught us how to make a foam head Halloween candy bowl.

You Brew My Tea shared a DIY upcycled t-shirt scarf craft.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and Annie’s Noms

Identical Twins Test Sugar Vs. Fat in the Weight Loss War

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 by No Comments

Diets which promise weight loss are without number and with them come much controversy. What’s the best approach?

In the weight loss war, sugar and fat have both been demonized, and identical twins Alexander and Chris Van Tulleken decided to find out which approach worked best.

The 35-year-old twins are both doctors and decided that using their identical genetics would be a good way to test the sugar vs. fat weight loss approaches.

According to Alexander they are both “gluttons” and as they’ve gotten older realized they had to pay attention to their diets if they wanted to maintain a healthy weight, but even with their medical training neither of them really knew much about eating well.

Since both sugar and fat have been blamed as the cause for weight gain, that’s where they started. Alexander would cut out carbs for a month and Chris would eat low fat.

Before I mention the results, the problem I see with their approach is that Alexander cut all carbs. To be equal I think Chris should have cut all fat. But the reasoning was that we need some fat, and I think the same is true with carbs. We need some carbohydrates for good health.

Other than those limitations, they could eat however much they wanted and the two of them exercised the same amount. At the end of the month, Alexander lost 9 pounds. Chris lost weight but the amount wasn’t disclosed, but it was less than his brother. I don’t understand withholding that information. It doesn’t give us measurable results.

Aside from that, both were “miserable” on their respective diets. Alexander found that on the no-carb approach he experienced side effects like bad breath, and he felt sluggish and tired and was constipated. The one good side effect is that he wasn’t hungry.

His low-fat brother on the other hand was always hungry and found that eating was no longer enjoyable.

What I take away from this experiment is that balance is important. Instead of a no-carb approach, a low-carb approach would probably have addressed his negative side effects. Low-carb adds leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits to the diet.

Healthy weight loss is more than a number on a scale! We also want to feel good!

Photo credits: 1OneMinuteNews

25 Year Study Brings Benefits of Mammograms Into Question

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 by No Comments

A new 25 year study has added to the building evidence that yearly mammogram screenings in middle-age women do not reduce the chance of death by breast cancer. The 25-year study included almost 90,000 women within an age range of 40 to 59.

This research confirms earlier findings that many of the abnormalities found through mammograms would not have proven fatal even if left untreated.

For the new study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), women were broken into two groups. One received an annual mammogram plus physical breast exams while the other group underwent annual physical exams only. Conclusions show the same number of women died of breast cancer over the 25 years regardless of whether or not they had a yearly mammogram.

The women included in the mammogram group started getting mammograms from 1980 to 1985 at a time when doctors believed the screenings saved lives by detecting breast cancer in its earliest stages when it was the most treatable. The study showed this is not the case and instead “found no reduction in breast cancer mortality from mammography screening […] neither in women aged 40-49 at study entry nor in women aged 50-59.”

This is one more study in a growing trend that shows mammograms have little or no effect on the rate of death from breast cancer. Some of these other studies date back to the 1990s and in 2009 an independent panel of medical experts recommended biennial screenings for women 50 to 74 rather than women starting to get annual screenings at age 40.

Findings show that about 22 percent of breast cancers detected by mammograms were what researchers call over-diagnosed. This means tumors were found that would not have caused symptoms or death, however the diagnosis would have led to tests and treatments the women did not need.

At the other end of the spectrum the American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging called the BMJ study “an incredibly misleading analysis” and said it “should not be used to create breast cancer screening policy as this would place a great many women at increased risk of dying unnecessarily from breast cancer.”

With such mixed messages about mammograms what is a woman to do? I know my personal feelings, and that’s what I’ve followed for years. How about you?

Photo credits: wikimedia

Portion Sizes Made Easy

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 by No Comments

I think one of the biggest reasons so many of us gain weight is that we don’t really understand how much we’re overeating. Serving sizes are listed on packages, but many times people will eat a whole package and not realize they’ve eaten three servings.

While food labels can help us understand how much a portion is, there are other factors that come in to play.

For instance, not all of us are the same size. That means we don’t require the same number of calories and as a result, our portion sizes may not be the same as what is ideal for others. In fact, in this over-sized, jumbo-size meal world we try navigate, it can sometimes look like we don’t have enough food on our plate, when in fact we do.

A serving size of meat should be about the size of the palm of your hand. That means someone with a bigger hand gets a bigger portion. I know it doesn’t seem “fair” but that’s the way our bodies are made. If you want to lose weight or maintain your weight loss, it is important not to overeat.

  • Measure bowls and cups: If you’re like me, you get tired of measuring everything you eat. To make it easier, measure your bowls, cups, etc. and know how much they hold. That way when it comes time to eat you’ll be able to gauge the portion correct for you without actually measuring again.
  • Use a smaller dinner plate: Did you know American dinner plates are bigger than European dinner plates? Using a larger plate makes it easy to overeat and not even know it. Instead, choose a smaller plate. Our correct portions will fill it up with no problem.
  • Don’t eat seconds: I remember my friend coming back from the doctor miffed, because he told her the best exercise she could do is push away from the table to avoid eating seconds. We don’t need seconds, even if it’s delicious. When we choose to go back for more we’ve just supersized our meal!

If you don’t know what a reasonable portion is for you, you can visit the MyPlate site to help you get a handle on what’s right for you and for your kids.

I have one loved one in my life who has gained quite a bit as a teen because she does her best to keep up with what her teenage brother’s eating. It’s a fact: girls don’t need the same amount of calories as boys. That’s a fact I still don’t like but have learned to live with. We don’t all need the same amount of calories and that’s why correct portion awareness is key in helping us maintain a healthy weight.

Photo credits: UrbaneWomenMag

Yogurt Found to Help Prevent Risk of Diabetes

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by No Comments

Health experts have made it clear that adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Now a new study published in Diabetologia Journal of the EASD suggests that eating yogurt four or five times a week as one of those habits may lower the risk.

For this study, researchers in the UK scrutinized the diets of 4,000 people and followed them for 11 years. Their findings showed that people who had the highest yogurt consumption had a 24 percent decreased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who didn’t eat yogurt.

How much yogurt did they eat? Four and a half 4-ounce servings of low fat yogurt each week. According to the study, one of the positive effects of eating yogurt is that it results in the consumption of fewer unhealthy deserts and snacks. Researchers determined that replacing a serving of chips with a serving of yogurt reduced the risk of diabetes by 47 percent.

While I like yogurt, with this kind of logic I can’t help but wonder if the results are due to eating less of other unhealthy foods.

But the research also points to the benefit of eating such a fermented dairy product. It contains probiotics and vitamin K which have been shown to protect against diabetes.  The study looked at the consumption of other dairy products, too, but found only some of them are beneficial to reducing the risk of diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the rate of diabetes continues to grow at its current rate, by 2050 one out of every three people will have it.

I sometimes stand back amazed at the fact that we live in a time of technology and information and know more than ever about health and yet we have around 26 million people in the United States with diabetes. That’s 8.3 percent of the population.

Photo credits: Amazon

When Should You Talk to Your Doctor About Depression?

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

We all feel depressed from time to time, but not all types of depression are the same. Understanding the different types of depression and their the signs and symptoms can help you know when it is time to talk to your doctor about treatment.

Major (Clinical) Depression Symptoms

Most people feel sad or down at some point in life, but with major or clinical depression that depressed mood last most of the day, especially in the morning. It includes a constant feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness, fatigue, and guilt, and is accompanied by a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships.

If you experience these symptoms every day for at least 2 weeks, you should talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Clinical depression can make it hard to do your work, study, and even sleep. Some people experience this once in their life, while others may suffer from it several times in their lifetime.

In men, signs of clinical depression may also include irritability, anger, or drug and alcohol abuse.

Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

A less severe form of depression, Dysthymia, is also known as mild, chronic depression. It has fewer symptoms than major depression. Symptoms can linger for a long period of time, even years. While the symptoms are not as intense, the sadness and depressed mood may still be experienced most days and lead to a loss of enjoyment in things you once looked forward to. It may also disturb sleep patterns with insomnia or excessive sleeping.

Chronic depression zaps your energy and also leads to feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, and hopelessness. Early diagnosis and treatment might help reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms, so if you think this may be you, call your doctor and make an appointment.

The difference in these two types of depression are severity and duration of symptoms. Both of these types of depression may lead to weight loss or gain and may involve recurring thoughts of death or suicide. Those who suffer from dysthymia might also experience periods of major depression which is sometimes referred to “double depression.”

Other types of depression include:

This article is not meant for diagnosis, but to help make you aware of the symptoms associated with depression. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you have questions or think you may be suffering from depression.

Photo credits: Venturist, Vinay Shivakumar

Link Round-up: Contouring, Black Bean Dip, Birthday Party Tips, and More

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has tips for contouring your eyes, a black bean dip recipe, tips for birthday parties and more.

The Tiptoe Fairy shared a fun game that encourages emotional intelligence.

Mind Body Green shared 10 feng shui tips to help you sleep better.

Create Craft Love showed us how to throw a splash party.

Bella Sugar showed us how to beautifully contour your eyes.

link ru black bean dip

A Beautiful Mess shared a recipe for creamy black bean dip.

A Pair and a Spare DIY showed us how to make throw cushions.

Spaceships and Laser Beams showed us how to throw a cute dino dig themed birthday party.

Photo credit: The Tiptoe Fairy and A Beautiful Mess