Here’s How Much Exercise You Need Per Week To Live Longer

Agreed. We need to stay active to stay healthy!
— Dr. Dale

From Here’s How Much Exercise You Need Per Week To Live Longer

It’s official: If you want a longer life, you need to get moving.

A recent study published in the journal The Lancet found that the minimum amount of exercise you need to increase your longevity is approximately 150 minutes per week. The research also showed that everyday activities ― like cleaning your room and biking to work ― are just as beneficial as organized workouts when it comes to meeting that goal. 

A team of researchers surveyed people between ages 35 and 70 about their physical activity in order to reach the results. Between 2003 and 2010, more than 140,000 participants in 17 countries completed a one-time questionnaire about how many minutes they had spent being active in the past week. Researchers then checked in with participants on the state of their health for about six to nine years after they took the survey.

Ultimately, people who regularly exercised at least 150 minutes per week had a 28 percent lower risk of death overall and a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease. People who exercised significantly more than that (at least 750 minutes per week) had an additional 20 percent lower risk of death. The results fall in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendations, which is for people to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to improve fitness and decrease mortality risk. 

The authors noted that, while most studies survey high-income countries where exercise is recreational (like a spin class), this study also included low-income and middle-income countries where exercise more often comes as a part of daily life (like biking to work). The results showed that it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do. Walking, housework and having an active job can all give you a longer life as long as you’re reaching those 150 minutes.

“The main takeaway is that any type of activity is good for us,” study author Scott Lear, who leads cardiovascular research at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t matter how we label it, our body sees it the same way... Going for a walk can be just as good as spending an hour gardening or cutting the grass.”

Group fitness trainer Josh Carter also wants to dispel the notion that exercise has to be hard or expensive in order to be effective.

“Movement is movement,” Carter, the owner of Fit Body Boot Camp, told HuffPost. “It doesn’t necessarily need to be hard or re-organize your life. I tell people to just get up 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk if they want to get started. Take the stairs or park far away. It’s two minutes here and five minutes there, but it all adds up.”

Looking for some ways to sneak in some fitness so you hit those 150 minutes per week? Here are some inexpensive options you can try:

Go for a walk instead of a coffee break.

Instead of hitting Starbucks, “most of my employees use their 15-minute breaks to go for a walk around the parking lot,” Carter said. “They talk, they laugh, whatever. Just get your blood pumping.”

Cut your Netflix time in half.

Think of what could happen if you, say, took a brisk walk instead of watching that second “Game of Thrones” episode tonight.

“If people start paying half as much attention to their health as they do to a Netflix marathon ― literally half ― it pays off,” Carter said.

Walk, bike or run to your next event.

The study lists “active transportation” as one of the main ways its healthy participants unintentionally exercised their way to a longer life. Walking to the subway and climbing its stairs counts here. So does running to work or biking to the grocery store. 

Get a workout buddy.

Many of us would be more inclined to practice yoga or go for a run if it were framed as a social hangout. So grab a partner, and lengthen your lives together. Your bodies and minds will thank you.

7 Foods That Can Boost Memory

Try to include these foods in your diet as much as possible.
— Dr. Dale

From 7 Foods That Can Boost Memory

We’ve all been there—forgetting keys, a deadline, a friend’s birthday. Even with all the calendar apps and other tools available, it’s hard to remember everything.

Luckily, there are some foods that can boost your brain function and improve your memory, so you can feel more alert and on top of things.

PREBIOTIC FOODS

Preliminary research suggests a direct link between memory and prebiotic intake, though the reasoning has yet to be established, according to registered dietician nutritionist Maggie Moon, author of The MIND Diet.

“The best bet is to eat foods throughout the day that offer complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber, such as arugula, beets, black beans, nuts, raspberries, and sorghum,” as these can boost microflora in the gut, Moon says.

WALNUTS

“Walnuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, phenols, and even melatonin, the sleep hormone, all of which boost memory and cognitive function,” says Jennie Ann Freiman, MD.

“The list of walnut goodies includes vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, and phenolic compounds that are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, fighting free radicals and oxidative stress that impair brain function,” Frieman says.

Compared with other nuts, walnuts have a particularly high ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, like alpha linolenic acid, which converts to omega-3, says registered dietician Benjamin White. Walnuts also can improve blood flow, which is especially important for sending oxygenated blood to the brain and maintaining proper functions, he adds.

For brain boosting, aim to eat 1 1/2 oz. of walnuts daily (about a handful, or about 20 walnut halves), Freiman says. Include the skins, if possible. Walnut skins contain 90% of the nut’s phenols, so they’re worth consuming, despite their slightly bitter taste, she notes. Phenols are health-boosting in a number of ways, including keeping the gut balanced for better digestion and reduced inflammation, White says.

TURMERIC

You already know that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Turns out that can help improve memory and brain function, says Asher Cowan, MD. Turmeric can boost circulation and blood flow to the brain, which may halt memory deterioration–especially important as we age, he says.

The spice, popular in India, is traditionally paired with fat, and that’s how you should eat it, too. “Turmeric contains predominately fat-soluble nutrients and is best absorbed and utilized when eaten in the traditional way with ghee or coconut oil,” he says. “Use it in stir-fires to sauté vegetables, or put in smoothies with coconut oil. The powder dissolves quickly in the food and from there has easy access to your bloodstream and brain.”

BEET JUICE

Beet root juice is bursting with natural nitrates, which the body converts to nitrites, then nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the brain. “A recent well-designed but short-term clinical trial showed adults performed better on cognitive tasks 90 minutes after drinking and absorbing about two cups (450 ml or 15.2 oz) of beetroot juice,” says Moon. It may also strengthen your athletic performance, says a 2017 study published in the journal Nutrition.

Add some beet juice to your morning smoothie for sweetness and a different flavor profile than the usual, as well as a memory helper. And, make sure to eat a variety of plant foods, like celery, green beans, and spinach, which also provide nitrates, Moon says.

BONE BROTH

Add “brain booster” to bone broth’s list of potential benefits.

“Strange as it may seem, chicken soup is great for your memory,” says acupuncturist and Oriental medicine expert Elizabeth Trattner. “In traditional Chinese medicine, the brain is known as ‘the sea of marrow.’ For thousands of years, one of the best anti-aging and memory loss remedies is soup made from marrow. Chicken soup and stews made with real bone marrow not only improve brain function, but the function of the spleen as well,” which in traditional Chinese medicine is responsible for the thinking process.

EGGS

Here’s another reason to wake up with eggs: The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a key nutrient in eggs, can help keep brain cells sharp, says certified clinical nutritionist Nicole Visnic.

Research suggests that eggs also may help improve cognitive performance factors, such as verbal fluency, problem solving, and memory, says Moon.

Visnic recommends raw, soft-boiled or over-easy eggs to protect the nutrients from the oxidative effects of heat. Add raw eggs to smoothies or use them to make aioli or Caesar dressing.

However, it’s worth being careful: “Food poisoning via salmonella infection from eating raw or undercooked eggs is not extremely common (1 in 20,000 cases according to the CDC); however, the very young, very old, pregnant women, and anyone with a compromised immune system should take extra precautions,” Moon says.

If you love a runny yolk (and who doesn’t?) but don’t want to risk it, look for pasteurized eggs, like these from Davidson’s, she suggests.

GREEN TEA

Is there anything green tea can’t do? This powerhouse beverage has been shown to improve memory, says registered dietician Natalie Rizzo, as it helps messages get around through different parts of the brain, leading to better memory retention.

For a refreshing summertime beverage, try Visnic’s recipe for green-tea lemonade: “Take 16 oz. of green tea, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 10 to 20 drops of liquid stevia, depending on how sweet you like your lemonade. Three 8-oz. cups per day is the sweet spot for this beverage,” she says. “A recent study found that drinking 27.5 grams of green tea extract per day can help with memory function.”

Or try adding green tea to baked goods, marinades, and your morning oatmeal.

Doctors to millennials: Stay home when you have the flu

Be proactive and make an appointment with us for your flu shot!
— Dr. Dale

From Doctors to millennials: Stay home when you have the flu

Flu season is upon us, and before long it's likely to seem like people are coughing and sniffling everywhere you turn. New research sheds light on a group of people who may be especially likely to spread the infection to others: millennials.

According to the new survey of 1,800 American adults released by CityMD, millennials (ages 18-34) who have had the flu or flu-like symptoms were much more likely than those 35 and older to have ventured out the last time they felt sick, potentially exposing friends, neighbors and co-workers. About three-quarters of millennials admitted to going out sick, compared to 56 percent of older adults. 

Of those who left the house, the most common place they went was a drug store, followed by a grocery store. Nearly 40 percent said they went to work sick. Smaller numbers went to a family or friend's house, a restaurant or deli, public transportation, and even the gym while they were ill.

"Most millennials are young and healthy. Many of them probably never even had the flu before so they may think some of their symptoms are just extended cold-like symptoms and so they may underestimate how long it takes to recover from it." Dr. David Shih, executive vice president of strategy, health and innovation at CityMD, told CBS News.

Shih said in general, many healthy young people tend to "think they're invincible."

However, this attitude is problematic because even if they can bounce back quickly, they may be putting others at risk.

"The flu is one of those silent and contagious diseases that we see every year and millions of Americans get the flu. Unfortunately, there are some population segments that are more at risk like the elderly, the very young, and pregnant women," Shih said. "When we have a large population who are out and about in public spaces with the flu, there is a higher exposure."

How serious is the flu?

For many, the flu causes moderate symptoms that ease after a few days, but for others it can lead to severe illness and sometimes even death. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu has caused between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. The numbers can vary widely depending on how severe each year's flu season turns out to be.

Health officials are concerned that the 2017-18 flu season in the U.S. may be particularly bad because the Southern Hemisphere, especially Australia, was hit hard over the past few months with a flu strain that's notorious for causing severe illness, especially in older adults.

People with other serious health conditions are at greater at risk of dying from the flu, but even young and otherwise healthy people can sometimes develop fatal complications.

Will a flu shot really work?

The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu shot before the end of October, if possible, each year. This is the primary means of prevention against the flu.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body, which takes about two weeks after vaccination.

The seasonal flu shot protects against the four strains that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming season.

"Now, there are times where they may be off or they may be wrong, but getting a flu shot will still decrease your likelihood of getting the flu because there's always going to be some minor variations but there's definitely enough similarities for your body to pick up the defenses," Shih said.

Studies have also shown that even people who get the flu despite having gotten the flu shot tend to have milder symptoms and recover more quickly.

How do I know if I have the flu or a cold?

The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Colds are usually milder than the flu and people with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

If you're not sure whether your illness is a cold or the flu, there are tests your doctor can run to find out.

How does the flu spread?

The virus is spread mainly by droplets in the air when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. People who are sick with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away. 

In order to prevent spread of the flu, those who are sick should always cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer. 

Flu germs can also last on surfaces for up to 24 hours, depending on the surface. The harder the surface, the longer germs can last. So, one person with the flu who coughs into their hand and then later grabs ahold of a doorknob or picks up the office coffeepot can quickly infect many others.

How long are people with the flu contagious?

Shih says many people believe that after one or two days, you are no longer contagious. However, that's not true.

"As long as you're coughing, sneezing, dripping, you're exposing germs whether to the air or to a surface," Shih said.

When can I go back to work? 

While it's very common for people to want to get back to work and their daily routines soon after getting sick with the flu, experts advise against rushing things.

The length of the illness will vary from person to person. Young, healthy people may bounce back very quickly, but in others flu symptoms may take up to two weeks to completely go away, Shih said.

"The general advice for a patient is to really take the 3 to 5 days to rest and only exercise and go about your daily business once you feel you have the energy," he said.

How People Under 50 Can Protect Against Colon Cancer

Make your colonoscopy appointment with us today.
— Dr. Dale

From How People Under 50 Can Protect Against Colon Cancer

In whites ages 30 to 49, colorectal cancer death rates have increased by nearly 2 percent annually.

The American Cancer Society recommends beginning colorectal cancer screening earlier for people with a family history of the disease. (Getty Images)

On the whole, colorectal cancer incidence and death rates have been going down for decades. “We’ve made tremendous advances in the treatment for colon cancer to the present day,” says Dr. Wafik El-Deiry, deputy director for translational research and co-leader of the molecular therapeutic program at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Improvements in screening have led to earlier detection and more effective treatment of colon and rectal cancers. Tests like the colonoscopy can find polyps, or abnormal tissue growths. While most of these growths on the lining of the colon (or large intestine) or the rectum are harmless, some develop into cancer over time. When they’re found in the early going, though, these polyps can usually be safely removed.

Yet despite these advances and declining rates of colorectal cancer overall, there’s a counter trend that has been troubling oncologists: While the majority of people who develop colorectal cancer are older, research finds that incidence has been increasing in people younger than 55 since at least the mid-1990s. And a recent study shows colorectal cancer death rates have been creeping up in people 20 to 54 years of age; after declining from 6.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 1970 to 3.9 deaths in 2004, deaths have increased 1 percent annually to 4.3 per 100,000 individuals in 2014.

The study, published last month as a research letter (an abbreviated report) in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the increase was limited to white individuals. Broken out by age in this group, the colorectal cancer death rate increased 1.9 percent for those aged 40 to 49 years, 1.6 percent for those 30 to 39 and 0.9 percent for people 50 to 54 years of age from 2005 to 2014, according to the research.

It’s a small increase,” says Rebecca Siegel, an epidemiologist and strategic director of surveillance information services at the American Cancer Society, who led the research. “But it does strongly suggest that the increase in incidence rates is real and not just an artifact of more colonoscopy use.”

But it's not clear what’s driving the increase and why it’s confined to whites. The differences can’t be explained, for example, by rising rates of obesity that can make it more likely a person might develop colorectal cancer. “Disparate racial patterns conflict with trends in major CRC risk factors like obesity, which are similar in white and black individuals,” the researchers note.

“There’s something that’s going on that’s disturbing, and it needs to be explained and understood,” El-Deiry says. Experts say there’s likely multiple reasons for the trend. “It’s probably many factors – not one factor – that may have contributed,” says Dr. David Lieberman, chief of the division of gastroenterology and professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. “But it’s clearly an important trend, and one that’s going to need further investigation.”

Despite the remaining questions, the latest research findings highlight the need for vigilance when it comes to colorectal cancer, not just among older people, but for those who are under 50. It's at age 50 when the ACS recommends people of average risk for colorectal cancer begin getting screened, such as with a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy – another test that finds polyps.

The ACS recommends beginning colorectal cancer screening earlier for people at increased risk based on their family history. For example, a person who has a first-degree relative – a parent or sibling – who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, should start getting screened at an age 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis of an immediate family member, or at age 40, whichever comes first. “So if your father got colon cancer at 40, you should start getting screened at 30,” explains Dr. Kurt Melstrom, colorectal surgeon at City of Hope, a clinical research hospital in Duarte, California.

Experts say early screening may also be recommended for people whose immediate family members were found to have polyps – particularly if a first-degree relative had a large polyp removed or had several polyps. “It’s something to think about, definitely,” Melstrom says.

Even in the absence of a history of colon cancer, you shouldn’t ignore potential warning signs or symptoms. “If patients are having symptoms that are related to the colon – and the predominant symptom is going to be rectal bleeding, so bleeding from the rectum with bowel movements – that should be reported to their physicians as well,” Lieberman says.

Other symptoms include abnormal abdominal cramping or abdominal pains, which can’t be otherwise explained. Another change you might prefer to keep to yourself: If your poop starts to become a lot more fragmented, hard to get out or very thin, Melstrom suggests talking with your doctor about it. “Of course, all those symptoms are also quite vague, so I would not start to lose sleep over that, as the majority of the time that actually will not be a cancer,” he says. But experts emphasize people who are younger and middle-aged shouldn’t just shrug these things off either, or assume the problem is something like hemorrhoids, since colorectal cancer is more common in older adults. “See your primary care doctor and have them evaluate it,” Melstrom says. “They will refer you to a gastroenterologist to get a colonoscopy if they think it’s appropriate.”

Along with screening and paying attention to possible signs or symptoms, experts recommend making lifestyle changes to lower risk. That includes exercising, shedding excess weight, and not eating a lot of processed red meat – like ham and hot dogs – which has been linked to a higher risk of developing colon cancer. “What I would recommend is that we stay [as] active as possible, eat a nice healthy diet – not an excessive amount of red meat and … processed meat,” Melstrom says.

Research has also shown there’s a link between diabetes and colon cancer. So clinicians recommend making similar lifestyle improvements to lower the risk of developing diabetes, and for those who have it, managing the chronic disease appropriately. The bottom line, experts say, is to be proactive to reduce the toll of colorectal cancer – whether you’re young or old. 

7 Tips For Staying Healthy During What Looks To Be A Horrible Flu Season

These are all good to know!
— Dr. Dale

From 7 Tips For Staying Healthy During What Looks To Be A Horrible Flu Season

With cold weather comes flu season, and this year isn’t looking too great when it comes to avoiding the sniffles—at least if the US follows in Australia’s footsteps.

It’s been one of the worst flu seasons in Australia—and since what happens in the southern hemisphere often informs what the US can expect come fall, it’s time to prepare yourself to fight a strong flu strain.

Experts are saying that with nearly 170,000 cases of lab-confirmed influenza this year compared to less than 91,000 in 2016, it’s been one of the worst flu seasons in the land Down Under.

And since what happens in the southern hemisphere often informs what the US can expect come fall, it’s time to prepare yourself to fight a stronger flu strain.

One strain in particular has been popping up the most in Aussieland, and it’s a tough cookie: H3N2 virus. There’s “every reason to expect that we could have a severe flu season this year,” Robert Atmar, MD, told Today.

To make sure H3N2—or any illness—doesn’t keep you from enjoying pumpkin spice everythingor new, buzzy fitness studios, start focusing on giving your immune system a boost now with these helpful tips.

These 7 immune boosters will help prevent the flu from getting you down this season.

1. Stock up on anything and everything fermented

There’s never been a better time to get your hands on some bacteria-boosting kombucha, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, and other fermented foods, which boosts good gut bacteria. Considering that your gut is the largest part of your immune system, you want to keep it healthy, so start eating probiotics on the daily to stop this flu strain in its tracks.

 

2. Add immune-boosting foods into your diet

There are many immune-boosting foods from which to choose. Having a diverse range in your system is a doc-approved way to help build a strong immune system, which can act as a shield to the flu. Consume a hefty dose of vitamins, like beta-carotene from papaya and carrots, vitamin C from kiwi and berries, vitamin D from mushrooms, magnesium from avocados—you know, all sorts of goodies you probably already devour anyway.

 

3. Add turmeric and ginger into your pressed juice

Amp up the superfoods in your diet by adding some all-star ingredients into your morning juice or smoothie. Keep some ginger and turmeric on hand, which are both known to fight  inflammation and help give the immune system a much-needed boost.

 

4. Start taking relaxing, hot baths

Baths help you de-stress and can improve sleep—basically nonnegotiables for maintaining a healthy immune system. Major health benefits aside, is there really anything better for your well-being than settling into a mermaid-themed soak after a long day?

 

5. Meditate on the daily

Like taking a relaxing bath, meditating is great for the soul—and, arguably, even better for your immunity. Settling in and shutting off your mind on a regular basis helps relieve stress and anxiety, calming your nerves and giving your immune system strength to fight off an infection. In fact, this might finally be a reason to give “dog breathing” a try.

 

6. Try a echinacea tincture

Tinctures are basically tiny bottles with droppers that are full of super-concentrated compounds from natural sources that help with stress, sleep, and so much more. But for boosting the immune system, echinacea’s your best bet: A couple drops a day can naturally fight off viruses before they even start. (And heal you up 30 percent faster if you do get sick.)

 

7. Keep up with a consistent workout schedule

Whether you’re a yogi or a runner, making sure you get in some physical activity on a regular basis is not only great for your physical and mental health, but working out also lowers stress, which builds a stronger immune system—and not having to spend all your hard-earned money on tissues.

These gut-healthy recipes are basically a makeover for your digestive system. And to really benefit your health, here are the supplements you should be taking at every age.

7 Surprising Things That Have Gluten in Them

Gluten is everywhere! Please read if you’re allergic or intolerant.
— Dr. Dale

From 7 Surprising Things That Have Gluten in Them

In case you thought eyeball mites and spinning-induced injuries were the scariest wellness-related things you’d read about this year, you can now add “secret gluten lurking literally everywhere in your home” to the list. As it turns out, simply cutting out the usual pasta and pizza isn’t enough to leave you totally protected. Between unexpected foods, beauty products, and even the actual stuff that makes up your house, there’s a long—and pretty surprising—list of things to watch out for if you’re gluten-sensitive.

“If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, even the smallest amount of gluten is enough to cause a reaction,” says Meghan Telpner, a nutritionist and the author of UnDiet. “A slow trickle of gluten from unexpected sources can make us feel unwell and can contribute to digestive issues, inflammation, and impaired immune function.”

If a product in your home is truly 100 percent gluten-free, it will probably brag about it on the label with some sort of sticker. Most states have allergen laws that require companies to clearly state if something “contains wheat” or “contains gluten,” but it’s also a good idea to learn the names of gluten-containing grains.

If you don’t have any sensitivity to gluten, having it present in your food, home, and products is really NBD. But even so, says Telpner, “it’s important to be aware of what’s in our food, period. What we eat fuels our bodies on a daily basis and sets us on the path to wellness.”

Read on for all of the unexpected places gluten may be hiding out in your home. (Spoiler alert: It’s in the walls.)

 

1. Drywall (and other building materials)

Besides the annoying background noise, there’s another reason why home renovations can be particularly irritating—especially to those with gluten allergies. According to healthy home expert Lisa Beres, wheat gluten is often used to make drywall, and it can become problematic when the dust starts swirling around during construction. It’s also found in particle boards and glue, but you wouldn’t notice it unless your walls were being hacked apart. If possible, look for building products that use cornstarch or some other thickening agent instead, and if you’re doing work in your home, stock up on masks and an air purifier, just in case.

2. Lipstick and powder

Yep, gluten could be in your makeup bag. “Avoid lipsticks and other products that are applied near the mouth, since they can be accidentally ingested,” says Estee Williams, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Madfes Aesthetic Medical Center in New York City. “Also, be careful with powdery products, since they can become aerosolized and ingested.” Unless your makeup is marked with a gluten-free label—like those from certified gluten-free brands Afterglow and Gabriel cosmetics—it may be inflammatory to you if you’re gluten-sensitive.

3. Skin care

If you’re gluten-sensitive, reading the labels on your skin care is just as important as reading the labels on your food. That said, it’s not a problem unless you get it in your mouth…which can happen with moisturizers and lotions. “There is no data that topical gluten exposure can cause or aggravate celiac disease unless it is applied to the skin and then accidentally ingested,” says Dr. Williams. Beware of anything in your products that may have been derived from wheat, like vitamin E (tocopherol), triticum vulgare (wheat bran), secale cereale (rye seed extract), hordeum vulgare (barley), and avena sativa (oat bran), which should be listed in the ingredients.

4. Canned soups

Many canned foods are mmm, mmm… gluten-filled. According to Telpner, they’re often made with wheat-based thickeners, so your best bet is to stick with grandma’s homemade chicken soup (or one of these digestion-friendly recipes) instead.

5. Spices

You may want to think twice before sprinkling cinnamon on your PSL. “Many spice mixes contain gluten as an anti-caking agent,” says Telpner. Since you’re generally using such a small amount of a spice, there may not be enough gluten to make any real difference—but it’s something to watch out for if you’re having a gluten reaction you can’t explain.

6. Sauces and dressings

See ya later, Thousand Island. According to Telpner, many store-bought sauces use gluten as a thickening agent, so read labels carefully. Or better yet, upgrade your daily greens by making your own.

7. Deli meats

Add this to the list of reasons to steer clear of processed meats: While meat is generally safe on a gluten-free diet, ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook options can contain glutenous flours, bread crumbs, or wheat-based sauces. Vegan lunch date, anyone?

 

 

Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!

It’s so important to stay active! Great read.
— Dr. Dale

From Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!

Sedentary behavior—or as those of us outside of academia like to call it: “sitting,” “couch potatoism,” or “binge-watching Game of Thrones with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s”—has long been linked to a host of rotten outcomesobesitydepressiondiabetesmetabolic syndromeheart disease, and lousy health over all. (Honestly, you could sit and read scientific papers on this for days on end: Pubmed, the NIH’s archive of biomedical literature catalogs 4,386 papers on sedentary behavior published just since the start of 2016.)

But a new study published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine (which, unfortunately, is available only to Annals subscribers), sheds new light on the issue and sounds a loud, clanging alarm bell about the lasting health risks of prolonged sitting. And, yes, it’s worth sitting and reading this one.

Keith Diaz, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, and colleagues at five other institutions, somehow managed to convince 7,985 people aged 45 and older to wear an Actical accelerometer (made by Philips Respironics)—which measures physical movement and energy expenditure—on their right hips for more than 10 hours a day over a stretch of at least four days. (Most people wore the device for at least six or seven days, Diaz told me in an interview this morning.) Then the team retrieved the devices, crunched the stored data, and determined how often the study subjects actually got off of their butts during that period and for how long—whether they were at home, at work, or someplace else.

Overall, during a typical 16-hour waking day, the four groups spent an average of 12.3 hours being sedentary—with the mean “bout” of uninterrupted butt time being 11.4 minutes.

But then Diaz and crew divided this giant couch-warming cohort into four different quartiles based solely on movement (that is, non-sitting) patterns—and they waited several years to see whether mortality outcomes differed between the groups.

Differ they did.

After a median four years of post-study follow-up, those in the least sedentary quartile (sitting a mean 649 minutes a day in typically 6.5-minute bouts) had a dramatically lower rate of death from all causes than those in the most sedentary group (835 minutes at rest, in periods of relative motionless averaging just under 20 minutes each).

Not surprisingly, those who were more active also tended to be younger, have less body mass, and have fewer health issues (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease) in general. To account for those differences, the research team did several post-hoc analyses where they controlled for these and other factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, region of residence, education) with three different statistical models. In each case, those who sat the least—and for the shortest periods of duration—had the lowest rate of death from all causes.

Indeed, this duration of couchification is the most telling aspect of the study: Those who got up more frequently—presumably, even to stand and fetch the cable remote…or a glass of water in the kitchen, let us hope—were less at risk. (“Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time also exceeded 12.5 hours per day,” observed David Alter, a Toronto researcher who was not involved in the study, in an accompanying editorial.)

So why is prolonged, unbroken sitting so dangerous? Diaz (who uses a standing desk, take note) says he and his colleagues hypothesize that it might interfere with glucose regulation—encouraging a pathological transformation in muscle tissue that may have parallels to diabetes: “The muscles stop working like they’re supposed to and they stop taking up glucose like they’re supposed to,” he says. (That paper is in the current issue of the journal Circulation—and, unfortunately, is also blocked to non-subscribers.)

Whatever the mechanism of action turns out to be, however, the message is clear: Get off your damn butt, and do something.

4 Things Psychologists Do Every Day To Feel Happier

Here are some great tips to lift your mood!
— Dr. Dale

From 4 Things Psychologists Do Every Day To Feel Happier

While there’s no one secret to happiness, regular self care can go a long way towards boosting your mood. People find joy in different places, so the key is to identify healthy habits that please you — and make time for them daily.

“As Aristotle put it, ‘Happiness is an activity’,” says Jason Wheeler, PhD, a psychoanalyst in New York City. “Lots of things in life just happen to us, but many other things we have to do, and being happy is one of them.”

So what do mental health experts do to harness happiness? We asked three therapists to share the everyday self-care strategies that help them stay positive and grounded, even during times of stress. Here, four of their get-happy habits to try for yourself.

1. Be mindful

The term “mindfulness” probably conjures up images of yoga or quiet meditation, but Wheeler says it’s possible to embrace this way of thinking while doing many different forms of exercise. His mind-body workout of choice is swimming, since the repetitive motions naturally lend themselves to mindful thinking.

“To swim well, I must concentrate just on what I am doing,” he explains. “I exist from stroke to stroke, from breath to breath.”

Plus, swimming is a terrific low-impact workout. “When I’m done, I don’t feel sore, but refreshed and energized,” Wheeler says, adding that 30 minutes to an hour of swimming is the perfect meditative break during a busy day.

2. Take notes

Don’t just get grateful at Thanksgiving. Studies show that expressing gratitude can lead to benefits like better sleep and lower risk of depression. And unsurprisingly, mental health experts are all about it.

“If I’m getting down or feeling anxious, I’ll make a list of things that I’m grateful for,” San Antonio-based therapist Kasi Howard, PsyD, tells Health. “It flips my mindset and keeps me from ruminating on things that are stressful, or from focusing on the negative. Plus, it’s a big mood lifter.”

Ready to try it for yourself? Our gratitude challenge will have you feeling happier and more appreciative in just 21 days.

Studies show that expressing gratitude can lead to benefits like better sleep and lower risk of depression.

3. Sweat it out

Another proven happiness-booster? Cardio workouts. “Running is a source of sanity for me,” says Howard. “Not only is it my stress relief, it’s also when I think of ideas.”

There’s a scientific reason why Howard feels particularly sunny after a sweat session. Exercise causes a spike in adrenaline throughout the body, which is followed by a release of mood-boosting endorphins. And even relatively small amounts of exercise can make a difference; one recent study found that light physical activity was associated with a greater emotional benefit compared to moderate and high-intensity exercise. Sweat, smile, repeat.

4. Connect with others

“I spend a little quiet time with my husband every day talking about ‘us,’” says Gail Saltz, MD, Health’s contributing psychology editor. “Doing so keeps our relationship strong, and that makes me happy.”

Saltz and her hubby may be onto something. Communication is key in all relationships, especially romantic ones. In a 2015 study of newlywed couples published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researchers found that wives who perceived their husbands to be habitually suppressing their emotions reported lower marriage quality over time. So go ahead, express yourself.

Eat These Common Foods to Cut Your Risk Of Colon Cancer

Worth noting!
— Dr. Dale

From Eat These Common Foods to Cut Your Risk Of Colon Cancer

You know whole grains are good for your heart, but they may have another benefit, too, according to a new report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

After reviewing six studies in a meta-analysis, which included 8,320 cases, researchers concluded that eating at least 90 grams of whole grains per day can slash your colon cancer risk by 17 percent.

That’s a pretty big deal, since colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in men, making it the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

And colon cancer is quickly on the rise in young people. People born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer than people born in 1950, a study from the ACS found.

So, how can eating oats and brown rice help prevent colon cancer from forming in the first place? Whole grains are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps reduce insulin resistance—or the inability for your body to absorb blood sugar, causing it to accumulate—which is a known risk factor of colon cancer. Fiber also keeps you regular, which is important, since passing waste quickly reduces the chances of cancer-causing mutations to develop.

Plus, the bran and germ of your grains are packed with certain anti-carcinogenic compounds, like vitamin E, selenium copper, and zinc, the report states.

To get the best bang for your nutritional buck, load up your plate with oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown or wild rice, which are all touted by the American Heart Association

Just bear in mind your diet can only take you so far. Once you hit 50, you should start getting screened for colon cancer regularly, but only a little more than half of people who should get tested actually do so, according to the ACS.

Yet, colonoscopies can save your life, since a majority of people who are diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer are cured. If you have a first-degree family member that suffered from colon cancer, then you should start screenings at 40, or 10 years younger than when they were diagnosed, the American Academy of Gastroenterology recommends.

And if you experience the telltale symptoms—like blood in your stool, abdominal cramping, and persistent constipation or diarrhea—tell your doctor, stat. He or she may recommend a colonoscopy to check what's up.

Thousands Of Americans Still Die Of AIDS Every Year

Very educational.
— Dr. Dale

From Thousands Of Americans Still Die Of AIDS Every Year

Yet antiretroviral therapy can turn the deadly disease into a manageable chronic condition.

Antiretroviral therapy has transformed HIV from a death sentence to a manageable chronic condition for many. Yet as the death of 41-year-old Broadway composer Michael Friedman this past Saturday reminds us, thousands of Americans still die every year from HIV/AIDS.

In 2014, the last year for which these data are available, 12,333 Americans with HIV died of any cause, and 6,721 of them died from causes directly attributable to HIV. 

“AIDS has certainly not gone away,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. “At an average of 20 deaths a day, it’s something that’s occurring regularly.”

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with the disease, although about 15 percent of them don’t know they have it. But HIV/AIDS doesn’t draw the media attention it once did.

“We need to continue to be aware, continue to talk about it and continue to advocate for prevention and treatment resources,” Klausner said.

To Prevent And To Heal 

The message from public health officials is clear: If you test positive for HIV, get into treatment right away. Taking antiretroviral medicines every day can bring HIV levels in a person’s body so low as to be almost undetectable, which drastically reduces the chances of passing the virus to someone else.

At the same time, lower HIV levels drastically reduce the chances that you’ll die of HIV/AIDS complications. Untreated HIV weakens the immune system, leaving a person more susceptible to other infections and cancer. The virus also keeps the body in a state of chronic inflammation, which increases the risk of heart diseasestroke and dementia.

Getting into treatment as soon as possible is key to preventing HIV from wreaking havoc on the body. Federal funds are available for those who can’t afford medication. But still not everyone gets tested soon enough, obtains the medication and/or manages to take it daily. 

The more pills skipped, the more patients run the risk that their virus levels will spike. In rare cases, they may even become resistant to the antiretroviral medication.

“Treatment is great for those who can access it early and take it every day, there’s no question about it,” said Dr. Steven Deeks, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “But a lot of people just cannot get the drugs, or when they do, they can’t take them for a variety of reasons.”

Reasons for not taking medication or missing checkups range from the mundane (too busy, difficulty in scheduling appointments) to the alarming (homelessness, lack of transportation, depression and shame). Many people who need care also struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. 

“So in countries like Switzerland, where there’s a lot less poverty and they have a health care system that delivers these drugs universally, they’re doing better than the U.S., where we have a tremendous amount of social and economic issues that get in the way,” said Deeks. 

The People Most At Risk

AIDS-related deaths are down around the world ― from about 1.9 million in 2005 to about 1 million in 2016. While the numbers are also dropping in the U.S., the country’s staggering socioeconomic inequality and lack of universal health care means that it still outpaces other wealthy developed nations in new HIV infections and falls behind them in widespread testing and treatment.

In the U.S., 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, the last year for which that number is available. The same year, only 29,747 people were diagnosed with HIV in the 31 countries that make up the European Economic Area and whose combined populations are about 200 million more than the U.S. population. 

Klausner pointed to “this great imbalance of the haves and have-nots” in explaining why the American rates of HIV infection and AIDS deaths are still so bad.

In 2015, about half of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. were among people living in the South, which is home to some of America’s poorest citizens and offers the least access to affordable health care. In addition to having the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses and HIV-related deaths, the South is burdened with high rates of diabetes and cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes. 

New HIV diagnoses in 2015 were also concentrated among gay and bisexual men of all races and among black straight women.

“We still have major gaps in our ability to address certain populations, particularly in southeastern parts of the U.S., and particularly among African Americans,” Klausner said.

Subpopulations representing 2 percent or less of HIV diagnoses are not reflected in this chart. The abbreviation “MSM” here stands for men who have sex with other men.

How To Stop More Diagnoses And Deaths

One way to stem the tide of new HIV infections in the U.S. would be to present people who get tested with two pathways, Klausner said. If they test positive, they should receive treatment right away. If they test negative, doctors should still talk with them about a plan to forestall future HIV infection ― potentially including taking a medication like PrEP that substantially lowers the risks of contracting the disease.

While this approach is standard at publicly funded clinics, Klausner said, private-sector health care ― which serves most Americans ― has been slow to adopt such prophylactic medicine. 

“While we say HIV is manageable and AIDS is preventable, it’s much better to prevent someone from getting HIV in the first place,” he said.

Doctors, nurses and other clinic staff should also recognize how much their actions affect patients’ will and ability to follow a treatment plan. A 2015 qualitative study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that simple things like positive relationships with clinic staff, patient-friendly services such as arranging transportation, and even calls to remind people of an appointment were a big factor in helping patients stay on their regimen.