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Updated: 12 hours 12 min ago

Expert Shares Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips

14 hours 56 min ago

THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Thanksgiving meals can pose a challenge for people who have to eat a gluten-free diet, an expert says.

Many traditional Thanksgiving dishes — such as turkey, corn, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce — are gluten-free, but “when it comes to pies, stuffing, gravy, etc., gluten-free substitutes may need to be considered,” Dr. Anca Safta, director of the Gluten and Allergic Digestive Disorders program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, said in a center news release.

“For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it’s never a good time to cheat. But removing gluten from a Thanksgiving menu doesn’t have to take the joy out of the holiday,” she said.

People with celiac disease or NCGS need to educate their family and friends about their condition. Most people don’t mind going gluten-free for one meal if they understand the harm — such as pain and intestinal damage — that gluten can cause to people with celiac disease or NCGS, according to Safta.

Look for the gluten-free (GF) label on foods. In most cases, gluten-free alternatives to gluten-containing grains, condiments, sauces and dishes can be bought at a store or made at home.

Gluten-free doesn’t mean taste-free. In fact, a gluten-free version of a dish may actually taste better than the original. Experiment beforehand to test and perfect gluten-free recipes, Safta suggested.

“What’s a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and macaroni and cheese? Well, there’s no need to find out,” she said. “Make the pie crust with gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, and find gluten-free elbows. No one will have to give up his or her favorite dish, just certain ingredients.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about celiac disease.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Turkey Fryer Mishaps Can Cause Serious Burns

14 hours 57 min ago

THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Celebration can quickly turn to tragedy if popular turkey fryers are misused on Thanksgiving Day, experts say.

Over the last decade, more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have occurred while people were using turkey fryers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“I have actually cared for a patient who tried to deep fry the turkey indoors, which absolutely should not be done in any circumstances,” Dr. Arthur Sanford, a burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System, said in a university news release.

“And I cannot stress enough that the turkey must be moisture-free. A frozen turkey in hot oil is a recipe for tragedy,” he added.

Sanford offered a number of other safety tips for people using turkey fryers:

  • Purchase a newer fryer that has a sealed lid to prevent oil spills.
  • Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures. Never use the fryer in, on or under a garage, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire. Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on and keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
  • Do not cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing the turkey. Wear goggles or glasses to protect your eyes.
  • Make sure the turkey is fully thawed and dry when placed in the hot oil. Water can cause the oil to spill over, triggering a fire or explosion. Be careful with marinades.
  • Don’t overfill the fryer with oil. Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatters and to prevent burns. Turn off the fryer immediately if the oil starts to overheat.
  • If the turkey fryer catches fire, do not use water to try to douse it. Have a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires with you when using a turkey fryer and familiarize yourself with the extinguisher beforehand.
  • If you or someone else suffers a burn, get immediate medical aid.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before or while using a turkey fryer. Wait until dinner to have a drink.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for the safe preparation of your holiday meal.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Don’t Let Chronic Heartburn Spoil Your Thanksgiving Feast

14 hours 57 min ago

THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Planning on seconds at Thanksgiving Day dinner this year? If you suffer from chronic heartburn — clinically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a few steps may help minimize the aftereffects.

Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, offers up these tips to help manage GERD on Thanksgiving:

  • Pace yourself. Rather than have one big meal, have at least two small meals throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to have a healthy snack of veggies before the main course is served.
  • Don’t eat just before bedtime. Bigger meals should be eaten at least three hours before going to sleep to avoid an acid reflux flare-up.
  • Opt for water. Rather than soda or wine, drink water to avoid aggravating your symptoms. Drinking plenty of water will also aid in digestion and help you stay hydrated.
  • Limit certain foods. Do not overindulge on carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice. It’s also a good idea to avoid spicy or tomato-based foods as well as foods high in fat.
  • Avoid caffeine. To prevent a flare-up of GERD symptoms, pass on the coffee or other caffeinated beverages.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking irritates the lining of the stomach, esophagus, nose and sinuses.
  • Leave the belt at home. Tight or restrictive clothing or accessories can increase heartburn-related discomfort.
  • Walk. Taking a stroll before or after Thanksgiving dinner can aid in digestion and boost metabolism.
  • Gargle with salt water. At the end of the day, gargling with salt water can help remove acid and soothe stomach irritation.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on GERD.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Want Kids to Eat Better? Get Them Cooking

14 hours 57 min ago

By Alex Kramer
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Getting kids involved in the kitchen, through cooking classes or at home, may make them more likely to choose healthy foods, according to a recent review.

Cooking programs and classes for children seem to positively influence children’s food preferences and behaviors, according to the new research. And, although the review didn’t look at long-term effects of such programs, the findings suggest that such programs might help children develop long-lasting healthy habits.

“It is important to expose children to healthy foods in a positive way,” said Derek Hersch, the lead author of the study who also works with a cooking education program called Food Explorers at the Minnesota Heart Institute Foundation. “Creating habits and behaviors at this age is the most important part of it.”

This research comes at a time when childhood obesity rates have been rising rapidly. More than one-third of adolescents in the United States were obese in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This trend has been caused, at least in part, by a significant decrease in the amount of meals that people consume at home since the 1980s, according to background information in the study. People are more likely to eat at restaurants, where meals are more calorie-dense and less nutritious, the study noted.

Sara Haas, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, noted that time is a factor. “It has a lot to do with eating more convenience foods because parents are lacking time, and may not have learned to cook healthy meals,” she said.

Cooking education programs, such as Food Explorers, teach children about new healthy foods and how to prepare them. They also stress the importance of eating five fruits and vegetables every day. A volunteer parent explains a new food to the group, and the kids make something based on the lesson, such as fruit skewers or spinach salad. Depending on the program, kids may be sent home with information about healthy foods to bring to their parents, the review explained.

“If you get them involved in cooking, they are 100 percent interested and want to do more — it’s amazing,” said Haas, who is also a chef.

Hersch and his study team reviewed eight other studies that tested different types of cooking education programs. Children in these classes were between 5 and 12 years old, according to the review. Hersch’s goal was to learn more about developing an efficient program to encourage healthy food choices that last a lifetime.

“We found that it is particularly important to expose kids to healthy foods on a number of occasions,” Hersch said. “This makes them feel comfortable with the new foods, which helps them build healthy habits.”

Because each study included in the review was designed somewhat differently, it was difficult for the researchers to make any strong conclusions. However, some of the trends the researchers saw included increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber, a greater willingness to try new foods and increased confidence in the ability to prepare foods.

Hersch and the study authors recently published their findings in the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy.

Both Hersch and Haas emphasized the importance of getting parents involved in their children’s eating habits. Parents who are unable to enroll their kids in a cooking class can achieve similar benefits by having their kids help them while they prepare meals at home, Hersch noted. Children are more comfortable at home, which makes them more receptive to new foods because they will make the connection to a positive experience, according to Hersch.

While reviewing this topic, Hersch found that there is a lack of research in this area. There has not been a long-term study to see if children who take these courses are more likely to choose fruits and vegetables as adults. There also haven’t been studies to see if children who participate in cooking programs are less likely to become obese.

None of the current studies looked at whether or not the classes had an impact on the children’s attitudes towards unhealthy foods, such as foods laden with fat and sugar, according to Hersch. He explained that these limitations likely result from the fact that cooking programs want to focus their limited resources on their children, rather than publishing their research.

“From personal experience, I just know that kids really enjoy it,” Haas said. “You can take the most introverted kid and they just come alive when you get them involved in cooking.”

More information

There are more tips on helping kids eat better at the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition.

Categories: Health & Fitness

The Only Yoga Sequence You Need for Killer Legs

15 hours 3 min ago

I love showing off my legs in short skirts and tights. And that’s all thanks to yoga—it has helped me get toned and feel sturdier on my feet (even in high heels). Having leg strength also lets me ace challenging ski slopes, ice-skate and chase after my son as he climbs up the sledding hill.

The trick to lean legs: lunges. In yoga, we do a variety of lunges, from Crescent Lunge to High Lunge to Warrior 1 and Warrior 2. This particular sequence is one of my favorites because in addition to defining your calves and quads, it activates your balance, core and brain. When you have to focus on the moves so intensely, you’re forced to put your mind to work to get better results.

RELATED: 3 Relaxing Yoga Stretches

Step 1

Stand at the front of your mat and place your hands on your hips for support. Step your left leg back into a lunge, making sure your right knee is directly above your ankle and your left leg is straight. Hold this position for 3 deep breaths.

Photo: Alex Beauchesne

RELATED: Best Yoga Poses For Your Trouble Spots

Step 2

Next, straighten your front leg on an inhalation, and then bend it on an exhalation into the original lunge pose. Repeat this 3 times.

Photo: Alex Beauchesne

RELATED: Fight Cellulite Fast With Yoga

Step 3

Now, keeping hips exactly as they are (try not to move them up and down), bend your back leg on an inhalation and straighten it on an exhalation into the original lunge. Repeat 3 times.

Photo: Alex Beauchesne

RELATED: A 5-Minute Yoga Routine For Stronger Arms

Step 4

Finally—and here’s the real brain tease—straighten your front leg as you bend your back leg on an inhalation; then bend your front leg and straighten your back leg on an exhalation. It will feel like a teeter-totter motion. Repeat 3 times. Step to the front of your mat and repeat the entire sequence with your opposite leg.

Photo: Alex Beauchesne


Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor and healthy lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is an ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. She serves as Health’s contributing fitness editor and is frequently seen on national TV. Her latest in a large collection of fitness DVDs is YogaSlim. Follow her on Twitter @KristinMcGee and like her page on Facebook.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Everything You Need to Know About Eyelid Bumps

15 hours 33 min ago

Getty Images

I have a weird bump on my eyelid. What is it?

Eyelid bumps are nothing to blink at! Fortunately, they often go away on their own. The most common type is a stye, a pimplelike bump on your lash line. The inside of your eyelids are lined with special oil glands that keep your eyes lubricated. Styes form when bacteria get into these glands, giving you a painful, sometimes pus-filled bump. They may also arise from an infection of a hair follicle. The best move is to wait it out, but you can speed up the draining process by doing warm compresses with a washcloth for 10 minutes four times a day. Styes that stick around for longer than several days may need to be drained by a doc. Just don’t try to squeeze it yourself, which could spread the infection.

RELATED: 9 Worst Eye Care Mistakes You’re Making

If the bump is more like a hard lump under the skin, it’s probably a chalazion, which develops when the oil gland gets blocked with thicker than normal oil secretions or by a stye that wouldn’t heal. Chalazia are often painless but can persist for months. Warm compresses are a good remedy here, too, but if it doesn’t go away or if it becomes painful (a sign it’s infected), your ophthalmologist can drain it.

Another culprit: milia, or small white bumps caused by trapped keratin (a protein produced by the skin) under your eyelid. These can appear anywhere but often show up around your eyes. Milia typically clear up on their own, but your doctor can scrape them away if they’re bothersome.

RELATED: Should You See an Eye Doctor?

A lump that bleeds or doesn’t go away with treatment could be a skin cancer. Removing eyelid skin cancers can be tricky, but your derm can refer you to a surgeon trained in Mohs micrographic surgery, in which skin is removed layer by layer until you‘re cancer-free. Good news: This is highly effective and minimizes scarring.

RELATED: How to Perform a Self-Exam for Skin Cancer

Categories: Health & Fitness

Steer Clear of Cold Meds for Babies, FDA Advises

Wed, 2014-11-26 15:37

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Most babies and young children don’t need medicines if they have a cold, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2 because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects, the agency warned.

American adults average about three colds a year, but children get them more often. When children get a cold, parents might want to give them pain relievers, decongestants and other medicines, but often the best approach is rest and care, the FDA said in a news release.

“A cold is self-limited, and patients will get better on their own in a week or two without any need for medications. For older children, some OTC medicines can help relieve the symptoms — but won’t change the natural course of the cold or make it go away faster,” Dr. Amy Taylor, a medical officer in FDA’s Division of Pediatric and Maternal Health, said in the news release.

Antibiotics are useless because they treat bacterial infections, while colds are usually caused by viruses.

Coughs are a normal symptom of a cold and actually provide some benefits, Taylor noted.

“Coughs help the body clear the mucus out of the airway and protect the lungs; so you don’t want to suppress all coughs,” she said.

Non-drug treatments to ease coughs in children with colds include giving them plenty of fluids, especially warm drinks to soothe the throat.

While most children with colds do not need to see a doctor, Taylor said parents should call the doctor if they see any of these symptoms:

  • A fever in an infant aged 2 months or younger, or a fever of 102 Fahrenheit or higher at any age.
  • Signs of breathing problems, including nostrils widening with each breath, wheezing, fast breathing or the ribs showing with each breath.
  • Blue lips, ear pain, not eating or drinking, signs of dehydration.
  • Excessive crankiness or sleepiness, a cough that lasts for more than three weeks, or worsening condition.

“You have to know your child,” Taylor said. “With small infants, fever is a major concern, and you need medical advice. If you are worried about your child’s symptoms, at any age, call your pediatrician for advice.”

More information

The American Lung Association has more about the common cold.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Early Trial Promising for Ebola Vaccine

Wed, 2014-11-26 15:37

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — An experimental Ebola vaccine appears to be safe and produces an immune system response that could protect people against the deadly virus, according to early clinical trial results reported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The success of the phase I clinical trial for the vaccine paves the way for field-testing it in the Ebola-stricken West African nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone as early as January, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The genetically engineered vaccine caused no major side effects in 20 healthy adults who received a dose in September at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., the researchers report in the Nov. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine also created an immune system response in humans very similar to that of monkeys who, once inoculated, survived lab tests that exposed them to potentially fatal doses of Ebola, Fauci said.

“All in all, one can say this is a successful vaccine, from the standpoint of phase I,” Fauci said. “Now the critical question is, will it work?”

Ebola has killed more than 5,450 people during the West African epidemic, according to the World Health Organization. In response, international efforts to develop a preventive vaccine have accelerated.

The current vaccine, developed by the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline, is based on a virus called chimpanzee-derived adenovirus, which causes a common cold in chimps but has no effect on humans.

Researchers have spliced portions of Ebola’s genetic material into the chimp virus, to trick the immune system into creating Ebola-attacking antibodies without exposing the body to the virus itself.

The clinical trial enrolled volunteers aged 18 to 50. Ten volunteers received a low-dose injection of the vaccine, while another 10 received the same vaccine at a higher dose.

Within a day of vaccination, two people who got the higher dose developed a fever, which was “short-lived and easily handled,” Fauci said.

“There were no real red flags when it comes to safety,” he said.

At two weeks and four weeks following vaccination, the researchers tested the volunteers’ blood to determine if anti-Ebola antibodies were generated. All 20 volunteers developed such antibodies within four weeks of receiving the vaccine, but antibody levels were higher in those who received the higher-dose vaccine.

“The results of the vaccine trial are promising and show that this particular vaccine is able to induce protective levels of immunity,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior associate with the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “The trial also begins to provide a basis for selecting the optimal dose needed to achieve protection against Ebola.”

Two other phase I trials for the vaccine are ongoing in the United Kingdom and Mali, with results expected by year-end, the NIH said.

But based on the success of the Bethesda trial, researchers hope to begin delivering the experimental vaccine to people in Liberia and Sierra Leone within a couple of months, Fauci said.

Fauci could not say how many people would receive the vaccine in the field trials. “We don’t have the exact number,” he said. “In order to determine efficacy, you’ll have to vaccinate thousands of people, not just hundreds of people.”

The vaccine in question is one of two experimental Ebola vaccines that experts have said could be ready in time to combat the current epidemic.

The second vaccine, also genetically engineered, is based on a virus common to cattle and horses called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). This is in the same family as the rabies virus but causes only flu-like symptoms in infected humans.

Produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada based on research by NewLink Genetics of Iowa — the second vaccine is also being tested in phase I trials.

Thomas Geisbert, an Ebola expert and a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, believes the VSV-based Ebola vaccine may be the way to go.

Although clinical trial results for the NIH/GlaxoSmithKline vaccine are “promising,” other experimental Ebola vaccines based on chimp adenovirus have not provided protection against more aggressive strains of the virus, he said.

Geisbert believes the vaccine pursued by Canadian researchers could be more effective and produce longer-lasting protection.

“It remains to be seen if they are equally or nearly equally as safe,” Geisbert said. “If it turns out that they are, then I think the VSV-based vaccines will be the front runners.”

More information

For more on Ebola virus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Harm From Baseball Concussions May Linger, Study Finds

Wed, 2014-11-26 14:37

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Even after they’re cleared to play following a concussion, baseball players’ batting skills are worse than normal, which suggests they may not be fully recovered, a new study suggests.

“Although players who sustain a concussion may be symptom-free and cleared by MLB [Major League Baseball] protocol to return to play, the residual effects of concussion on the complex motor skills required for batting may still be a problem,” said principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Bazarian, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester in New York.

Researchers looked at 59 MLB players who suffered a concussion between 2007 and 2013. During their first two weeks back in action, the players’ batting performances were much poorer than those of 63 players who had been away from the game due to the birth of a child or death of a family member.

The batting averages of the two groups were .234 vs. .264. Their slugging percentages were .359 vs. .420 and their on-base plus slugging percentages were .654 vs. .747, according to the study presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in New Orleans.

A batter’s brain and neural networks have to be in top condition to achieve the hand-eye coordination, reaction time, body stability and balance, and swing control needed to hit a ball that takes about 400 milliseconds to travel from pitcher to batter, Bazarian said in a university news release.

After a concussion, brain function can be impaired for weeks or months. Learning more about how concussions affect batting performance can assist in determining when a concussed player is ready to return to the lineup, the study said.

After strains and bruises, concussions are the most common injuries in professional baseball, accounting for about 2 percent of all injuries that result in loss of playing time. Concussions among high school and college baseball players are rising by about 14 percent a year, the researchers said.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sports concussions.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Too Few Americans Undergo Dementia Screening

Wed, 2014-11-26 14:37

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — More than half of Americans with dementia have never undergone screening of their thinking and memory skills, a new study suggests.

As reported online Nov. 26 in Neurology, “approximately 1.8 million Americans over the age of 70 with dementia have never had an evaluation of their cognitive [mental] abilities,” study author Dr. Vikas Kotagal, of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, said in a journal news release.

The finding is important because “early evaluation and identification of people with dementia may help them receive care earlier,” he said.

The new study included almost 300 people with dementia, aged 70 and older, who were taking part in the national Health and Retirement Study. According to the researchers, 55 percent had never had their thinking and memory abilities evaluated by a doctor.

With an early diagnosis of dementia, families can watch loved ones for problems, help them with day-to-day tasks, and make plans for care, Kotagal said. These types of interventions can greatly improve the quality of life for people with dementia, he added.

The study also found that married people were twice as likely to have undergone dementia screening compared to single people.

“It’s possible that spouses feel more comfortable than children raising concerns with their spouse or a health care provider,” Kotagal said. “Another possibility could be that unmarried elderly people may be more reluctant to share their concerns with their doctor if they are worried about the impact it could have on their independence.”

The study also found that people with more severe thinking and memory problems were more likely to have been evaluated by a doctor than those with less severe signs of dementia.

Factors such as race, socioeconomic status, number of children, and whether children lived close to their parents did not affect whether or not people with dementia had been checked for memory and thinking problems, the study authors noted.

One expert agreed that more must be done to boost dementia screening rates.

“Dementia affects one in eight persons over the age of 65 in the United States and one in three persons over the age of 80,” said Dr. Gayatri Devi, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Despite this, there are no established guidelines for screening procedures,” Devi said. “As a result, many adults with dementia do not get diagnosed and are not given access to available treatments,” she explained.

“Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for maintaining quality of life in this debilitating condition,” Devi said. “There are economic benefits to society as well.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about dementia.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Some People May Be Pre-Wired to Be Bilingual

Wed, 2014-11-26 14:37

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Some people’s brains seem pre-wired to acquire a second language, new research suggests. But anyone who tries to move beyond their mother tongue will likely gain a brain boost, the small study finds.

The brain “becomes more connected and integrated after learning,” said study co-author Ping Li, co-director of the Center for Brain, Behavior and Cognition at Pennsylvania State University. But it’s even more interesting, Li said, that “the brain networks of the more successful learners are better connected even before learning takes place.”

Li’s team is studying how brain wiring relates to the development of second-language skills. “We know that if the learning of a new language is successful, key brain regions responsible for handling languages will become activated. But we don’t know how these different regions are connected with each other as a network,” Li said.

In the new study, recently published in the Journal of Neurolinguistics, the researchers hoped to identify the changes that occur in the brain network after learning. They also wanted “to make predictions as to what network changes might or might not occur so as to predict individual differences,” Li explained.

To find the answers, they recruited 39 native English speakers and asked 23 of them to study Chinese vocabulary over six weeks. The researchers scanned their brains with MRI machines before and after the language course.

Participants who were the most successful at learning Chinese also had the best-connected brains in terms of links between brain regions that handle certain thinking and language skills, the researchers said.

It’s not clear how many people are pre-wired to do better at learning a second language, Li said, and it’s not known if training can improve this kind of brain wiring. Nor is it clear how these brain connections fit in with factors such as stress and motivation that may also affect the ability to master a second language, Li said.

Still, these connections could be helpful in the long run. Researchers do know that bilingual speakers seem to take longer to reach dementia, on average, than people who speak just one language, Li noted.

“This could be due to the constant everyday uses of multiple languages, which involves efforts from a lot of brain regions and their connections,” Li said.

The research suggests that studying a new language even for a brief period of time can have benefits, said Kara Morgan-Short, director of the Cognition of Second Language Acquisition Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“The results reviewed in this article are seen across groups of learners, so even learners who are not particularly talented may show these benefits as well,” said Morgan-Short, who wasn’t involved with the study.

Not everyone who’d like to improve their brain has the time to pick up Spanish, French or Chinese. Fortunately, there are alternatives. “If you can’t learn a new language, doing other cognitively challenging activities could be equally useful to the brain,” Li said, “although they may train only one or a few parts of your brain, unlike language learning.” Specialists often point to board games, card games, puzzles and educational classes as examples of brain-stretching activities.

As for the idea of priming your brain to acquire a new language, Morgan-Short said that’s not possible at this time.

“However, there is some research that suggests that bilinguals are better than monolinguals at learning subsequent languages,” she said. So learning a second language “in the first place may prepare one’s brain to learn language better. Also, there is some evidence that people with a significant amount of music experience are able to learn aspects of language more easily.”

More information

For more about how the brain works, see Harvard Medical School’s Whole Brain Atlas.

Categories: Health & Fitness

4 Reasons You’ve Got to Try Bone Broth

Wed, 2014-11-26 14:30

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See you later, fresh pressed juice: The new hot drink in town is bone broth. Gwenyth Paltrow recommended it on Goop. Quartz called it a “miracle drink.” And now, at least in New York City, there’s a take-out window called Brodo where you can get a piping hot cup of bone broth to go.

Yes, bone broth. As in the liquid you get from simmering the bones of a healthy animal with spices and herbs. As with other food trends (we’re looking at you, ancient grains and fermented foods), bone broths are certainly nothing new. A broth is a just seasoned stock, and chefs make stocks from bones all the time as a base for soups and sauces. But even before there were chefs, we were making broth; in fact, it’s likely that humans have been boiling bones to make the nourishing liquid for up to 20,000 years.

RELATED: Home Remedies Doctors Swear By

What’s so great about it? You’ve probably already heard that science now backs up your grandma’s favorite cold remedy—chicken noodle soup. Well the base of chicken soup is yep, mineral-rich bone broth. So it’s not surprising that other broths have similar healing powers. Here are a few, according to Amy Myers, MD, an Austin-based functional medicine physician and author of the forthcoming book The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases ($20, amazon.com).

It aids digestion

The gelatin extracted from the bones can help heal and protect the lining of the digestive tract, which means you absorb more nutrients from foods.

It’s good for your bones

Calcium and other minerals in bone broth help repair bones.

RELATED: 11 Foods For Healthy Bones

It may help joint pain

Glucosamine, found in the fluid that lubricates our joints, is also in bone broth. This substance (also made synthetically and sold in supplement form) can help alleviate inflammation and relieve joint pain.

It boosts hair and nails

Bone broth contains collagen and gelatin, both of which help strengthen nails and hair.

RELATED: 10 Myths About Hair Loss

How to make it

Making bone broth is easy really: you just have to simmer the bones in water, using spices and aromatics (like onions and garlic) to flavor it. Here are some tips for making flavorful bone broth you’ll love to sip or add to soups and sauces, from Alexandra Borgia, chef-instructor at the Natural Gourmet Institute, a culinary school in New York.

Get organic bones. Source them as best you can from a butcher or a high-end grocery store. The best bones will make the best broth. Best doesn’t necessarily mean “expensive.” For example, with chicken, you can save the carcass from a roasted chicken or buy wing tips, necks, and backs from a butcher, all of which won’t cost much.

Roast the bones. This is optional, but it will give your broth more flavor. Spread the bones on a baking sheet and roast at 400ºF for about 45 minutes, or until browned. Alternatively, you can blanch the bones quickly in boiling water to get rid of excess blood.

RELATED: Top 7 Natural Cold Remedies

Flavor your broth. Start with cold, filtered water. Along with the bones, add mirepoix (a mix of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery, by weight, all evenly chopped), plus herbs and spices. For example, add a head of garlic, cut in half crosswise. Toss in bay leaves, fresh thyme and peppercorns. (Avoid parsley, which will get slimy.) These items will be strained out, so you don’t have to worry about how they look. Roast the mirepoix with the bones for added depth of flavor, if you like.

Add vinegar. The acidic environment created by adding vinegar will pull more nutrients out of the bones. The best one to use is apple cider vinegar; buy one that is unpasteurized, preferably with some sediment in it. That floaty stuff in the bottle, called the “mother,” contains good bacteria that is beneficial for your gut.

Cook at a simmer. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Skim off any scum that collects on the surface (a slotted spoon is best for this). Let it simmer for as long as you can, several hours at least. The longer it simmers, the more the flavor develops and the more nutrients you will get out of the bones.

RELATED: 7 Tools Every Natural Kitchen Needs

Cool off and store it. To cool the broth, put the pot in the kitchen sink and surround it with ice and water. Stir the broth often. This will help to cool it down quickly, before bacteria can develop. (Putting a big pot of hot broth in the fridge can actually bring up the temperature inside your fridge, which is also not safe.) Skim the fat that collects at the top. To store, put the broth in ziplock bags or ice cube trays and freeze.

Here’s a tip: You can make bone broth just as easily in a slow cooker. Add all the ingredients to the cooker, cover and cook on low for several hours, up to a full day.

Or, if you’re short on time, use a pressure cooker.

Want to read more? Pick up Nourishing Broth by Sally Fallon Morell ($17, amazon.com), which is both a reference book and a cookbook about bone broth.

RELATED: Old-Fashioned Food Remedies That Really Work

Categories: Health & Fitness

Some Newly Insured Under ‘Obamacare’ May Have Trouble Finding Doctors

Wed, 2014-11-26 13:15

Getty Images

By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Millions of Americans bought health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act in the past year. Now, several shortcomings in the system have been discovered.

In some markets, doctors are reluctant to take on patients who bought health insurance plans through the state and federal exchanges that were created by “Obamacare.”

“I think doctors have a couple of problems with the exchange policies,” said Dr. Austin King, an otolaryngologist and president of the Texas Medical Association.

People often don’t understand their insurance coverage, so staff members have to educate them, “and that adds to the hassle of seeing these patients,” King said.

Another problem: Doctors are wary of the law’s provision giving people with subsidized coverage a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for failing to pay the premium. Doctors fear they could end up on the hook for care provided to people who lose their coverage, King explained.

Recent news reports also indicate that some doctors in states like New York and Florida are reluctant to accept Obamacare patients because reimbursement rates are well below those of traditional health insurance plans.

“We are hearing from a lot of physicians that the fees that they’re being paid by the exchange plans are substantially below the fees that are paid by the same companies in the commercial plans. So that’s one of the reasons why a lot of physicians don’t want to participate in the exchange,” said Dr. Andrew Kleinman, a plastic surgeon and president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. “I’ve heard fees as low as 50 percent of the Medicare rate,” he added.

For consumers buying health plans on the New York State of Health, the state exchange, trying to find a doctor “is rather difficult,” partly because provider fees are inadequate and also because provider directories are often inaccurate, Kleinman explained.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has urged consumers shopping for health insurance this open enrollment season “not to rely solely on provider lists offered by insurance companies.” He advises consumers to call both their providers and the health plan before signing up during the current enrollment period. Enrollment began Nov. 15 and will end Dec. 15 for current enrollees who want their health insurance plan changed on Jan. 1 and for newcomers who want a health insurance plan in place on Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has acknowledged that it miscalculated how many people had signed up and paid for exchange plans in 2014, Bloomberg News reported. The actual number is 6.9 million, not 7.3 million as federal officials announced in September. Apparently the agency erroneously included dental plan subscribers in its earlier count.

Some problems that people using Obamacare this past year encountered, such as a lack of timely access to care and physician shortages in certain urban or rural areas, aren’t new at all. They’re only new to the people who now have insurance for the first time, experts said.

These are “significant issues in our health care system, ones consumer advocates like myself have been working on for many years,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California in Sacramento.

Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas, added: “There are going to be people that have a hard time finding doctors. And I don’t know if it’s because doctors don’t want to take Obamacare, or if it’s always been hard to find psychologists who speak Spanish [in a particular city],” for example.

In California, some health-plan shoppers learned after the fact that many health plans on Covered California, the state insurance exchange, have very limited, or narrow, provider networks.

“People need to know what they’re buying,” Wright said. “They need to know, ‘Is their doctor in the network?'”

Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to tighten up oversight of these plans, now requiring annual reviews to ensure that the plans are meeting standards for appointment wait times, timeliness of care and availability of providers of care, among other requirements.

During last year’s open enrollment, many consumers in Tennessee flocked to one of the cheapest plans on the marketplace — a BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee offering, labeled plan “E,” with a limited network of doctors.

People signed up “not realizing that their physician that they had already been going to for years may not have been in that network,” said Katie Dageforde, assistant general counsel at the Tennessee Medical Association.

Some physicians, unaware of BlueCross’ new health plan offering, mistakenly told patients they participated in all of the insurer’s plans, she said.

Georgia also has its share of narrow networks. By limiting the provider network, health plans can leverage greater discounts from providers to help keep premiums low.

But networks must provide access to providers who are within a reasonable distance and who can offer timely appointments, said Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, an Atlanta-based consumer advocacy organization. If not, health plans need to go back and make changes.

“Most people are having a good experience [with their health plans], but we are watching the network adequacy issue,” she added.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a standards-setting organization, is watching it, too. It is currently revising its model regulation for network adequacy. Consumer advocates said that regulation may put pressure on states with lax oversight to beef up their own regulations.

More information

HealthCare.gov has tips for choosing a marketplace plan.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Obesity Tied to Half a Million Cancers Worldwide, Report Shows

Wed, 2014-11-26 13:00

Photo: Getty Images

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Obesity is associated with close to 500,000 new cancer cases worldwide each year, and nearly two-thirds of obesity-related cancers occur in North America and Europe, a new report shows.

The analysis of data from 184 countries showed that excess weight was associated with 345,000 (5.4 percent) of new cancers in women in 2012, and 136,000 (1.9 percent) of new cancers in men in 2012.

Among women, postmenopausal breast, endometrial and colon cancers accounted for nearly three-quarters (250,000 cases) of obesity-related cancers, while colon and kidney cancers accounted for more than two-thirds (nearly 90,000 cases) of obesity-related cancers in men.

Excess weight was associated with about 8 percent of cancers in women and 3 percent of cancers in men in developed nations, compared with 1.5 percent of cancers in women and 0.3 percent of cancers in men in developing nations.

In 2012, the highest number of obesity-related cancers was in North America, with more than 110,000 (23 percent of the worldwide total), while the lowest number was in sub-Saharan Africa, with 7,300 cases (1.5 percent of the global total). In Europe, there were 66,000 obesity-related cancer cases.

Rates of obesity-related cancers varied widely among countries. Among men, rates were particularly high in the Czech Republic (5.5 percent of new cancer cases in 2012), Jordan and Argentina (4.5 percent), and the U.K. and Malta (4.4 percent). Among women, rates were highest in Barbados (12.7 percent), Czech Republic (12 percent), and Puerto Rico (11.6 percent).

Rates were lowest in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 2 percent in men and less than 4 percent in women, according to the study published Nov. 25 in The Lancet Oncology.

“Our findings add support for a global effort to address the rising trends in obesity. The global prevalence of obesity in adults has doubled since 1980. If this trend continues, it will certainly boost the future burden of cancer, particularly in South America and North Africa, where the largest increases in the rate of obesity have been seen over the last 30 years,” study leader Dr. Melina Arnold, of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said in a journal news release.

“If 3.6 percent of all cancers are associated with [overweight and obesity], that is nearly half a million cancers, but this number is large mainly because the world population is large,” Dr. Benjamin Cairns, from the University of Oxford in the U.K., wrote in an accompanying editorial.

“Global health resources specifically for cancer prevention are not so large, and the resources targeted at obesity must be balanced against those for other important causes of cancer, particularly infections and tobacco use, which are each associated with much larger proportions of cases,” he said.

While the study showed an association between obesity and the rising number of cancer cases worldwide, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about obesity and cancer risk.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Could Popular Heartburn Drugs Upset Your ‘Good’ Gut Bugs?

Wed, 2014-11-26 13:00

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Heartburn drugs such as Prilosec and Nexium may disrupt the makeup of bacteria in the digestive system, potentially boosting the risk of infections and other problems, a small new study suggests.

The research doesn’t confirm that these changes make it more likely users will become ill, and study authors aren’t recommending that anyone stop taking the so-called proton pump inhibitors.

However, these antacids “should be used at the lowest dose that provides adequate relief of symptoms, and attempts to discontinue their use should be considered periodically,” said study co-author Dr. John DiBaise, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

According to Harvard Medical School, billions of dollars are spent annually on antacid drugs in an attempt to combat heartburn, ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD. Old standbys such as Maalox and Mylanta have been supplanted by more effective, more expensive drugs, including proton pump inhibitors. These include Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Protonix (pantoprazole) in addition to Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole).

“Despite years of safe and effective use, in recent years there have been an increasing number of reports suggesting potentially harmful effects and harmful associations with their use,” DiBaise said.

Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors has been linked to infection with a germ called Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea, he said. Researchers have also connected the medications to vitamin deficiencies, bone fractures and pneumonia, among other conditions.

In the new study, researchers sought to understand what happens to the trillions of germs in the digestive system when people take omeprazole, the generic name for the drug best known as Prilosec.

Ten participants, aged 18 to 57, took 20 or 40 milligrams of the drug a day for 28 days. Researchers analyzed the study participants’ stool samples to understand the germs in their guts.

“These microbes have evolved with us to participate in our normal development and metabolism, and perform certain functions that we would not be able to accomplish without their help,” DiBaise said. Many scientists believe that people’s risk of disease goes up when their normal germ makeup changes, he said.

The researchers found evidence that the medications disrupted the balance of bacteria in the digestive systems of the participants, and the changes lasted for at least a month after they discontinued the drug. It didn’t seem to matter whether they took the higher or lower dose, DiBaise said.

DiBaise cautioned that the study doesn’t prove that the drug causes users to become more vulnerable to C. difficile infections. However, it shows that the drug “creates a situation in the gut microbial environment that may increase an individual’s susceptibility,” he said.

The researchers suggest additional research is needed with a larger group of study participants.

What should users do for now? According to DiBaise, proton pump inhibitors are “the most effective medications to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease.” If patients don’t have the most severe symptoms, he said, other types of heartburn drugs might help. Also recommended: eating smaller portions, losing weight, not lying down for two hours after eating, and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and “trigger” foods.

Dr. David Johnson, chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, said patients shouldn’t become alarmed about “the safest class of therapy I’ve used in the 34 years being a doctor.”

The new research won’t stop him from prescribing the drugs, Johnson said, adding he’s “hesitant to make too much out of this.” Even so, “the key message is that patients should talk to their care provider and discuss the need for these medications and justify their continued use.”

The study was published Nov. 24 in the journal Microbiome.

More information

For more about proton pump inhibitors, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Don’t Let High Altitude Ruin Your Holiday Trip

Wed, 2014-11-26 12:37

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — When you’re planning your holiday get-away, don’t forget to factor high altitude into your vacation sports — such as skiing or hiking, a sports medicine specialist cautions.

Outdoor explorers may fail to take altitude into account when visiting high-altitude recreation areas, which puts them at risk of developing fatigue and other symptoms related to being high above sea level, according to Dr. Melissa Tabor, an assistant professor of sports medicine and osteopathic principles and practice at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“No matter how great of an athlete you are, if you are coming from sea level or lower altitudes to a higher altitude area, you need to prepare,” Tabor said in a news release provided by the American Osteopathic Association. Tabor recently gave a presentation on preparing for high-altitude activities at the Osteopathic Medical Conference in Seattle.

People under 50 more likely to get altitude sickness, Tabor said.

Folks should be on the lookout for signs of altitude sickness: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disturbances and poor eating. Other more serious symptoms include confusion, inability to walk, shortness of breath and coughing blood. In extreme cases, altitude sickness can even cause death, according to Tabor.

Fortunately, treatment is often simple — move to a lower altitude, she noted.

To lower your risk of developing altitude sickness, Tabor suggests these cautions:

  • Acclimate to higher altitude by spending days — or weeks, if possible — at a higher altitude before any strenuous activity.
  • Plan ahead and get information about the location where you’re traveling. You may be able to find websites created by mountain resorts and local governments with details about ascending and descending.
  • Climb slowly and check guidelines from the Wilderness Medical Society.
  • Listen to your body and don’t climb any more if you feel lightheaded or have a headache. Descend within two to four hours if the symptoms don’t go away.
  • Stay hydrated and drink before you’re thirsty.
  • Consider renting a portable hyperbaric chamber to help you adjust to altitude.
  • Talk to a doctor for advice and possible prescriptions for medications that may help you adjust to altitude.

More information

For details about preparing for traveling to high altitude, try the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Categories: Health & Fitness

U.S. Adult Smoking Rate Drops to New Low: CDC

Wed, 2014-11-26 12:37

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Fewer American adults are smoking cigarettes than ever, health officials said.

In fact, the rate of cigarette smoking has dropped from about 21 percent in 2005 to 18 percent in 2013. That means the number of cigarette smokers dropped from 45.1 million to 42.1 million, despite the increasing population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However,”we still have a long way to go, and if we don’t bend the curve down faster, over 5.5 million kids who are alive today will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

Smoking is a major — and modifiable — risk factor for death and disease, he said.

“Smoking has a major impact on people’s lives,” McAfee said. “If you’re a smoker you’re at risk of dying 11 to 12 years earlier than if you are not a smoker,” he said.

Although cigarette smoking is at a 50-year low, in some groups the proportion of smokers is higher than the average, McAfee said.

“Leading the pack, cigarette use is highest among those below the poverty level at almost 30 percent, compared to 17.8 percent in the general population,” he said.

Other groups that continue to smoke at higher than average levels are the less educated, American Indians/Alaska Natives, men, people who live in the South or Midwest, people who have a disability, people with mental health issues, those who abuse drugs or alcohol, and people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, McAfee said.

Tobacco companies target some of these groups, he said.

“Particularly among the lesbian/gay/bisexual community and people with substance abuse, there is evidence that, for decades, the tobacco industry has consciously pursued marketing campaigns aimed at these vulnerable populations,” he said.

McAfee said effective strategies that reduce smoking include increasing the cost of cigarettes, increasing taxes on cigarettes and passing more smoke-free laws. In addition, education, anti-smoking media campaigns and providing better access to tobacco cessation programs are essential, he said.

The bulk of the burden to cut smoking falls on states, but they spend less than 2 percent (about $500 million) of the $25 billion they get from tobacco taxes and the tobacco settlement on anti-smoking programs, he said.

The report was published online on Nov. 26 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Susan Liss, executive director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said, “It’s not surprising that there has not been more recent progress. States have cut and severely underfunded tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In addition, progress at the state level in enacting higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws has slowed greatly.”

Still, most of the news from the new report was good. According to the data, not only has the number of smokers decreased, but those who smoke, smoke less.

The researchers found that the proportion of those who smoke every day decreased from 81 percent in 2005 to 77 percent in 2013. In addition, the number of smokers who smoke only on some days increased from 19 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013.

The average number of cigarettes smoked each day also decreased from 17 in 2005 to 14 in 2013, the report said.

Moreover, the number of smokers who smoked 20 to 29 cigarettes per day dropped from 35 percent in 2005 to 29 percent in 2013. And, the number who smoked fewer than 10 cigarettes per day increased from 16 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013, the researchers found.

Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior consultant for scientific affairs at the American Lung Association, said it is significant that smokers are smoking less.

“That means that we are not left with hardcore smokers who have to have their pack a day or more,” he said. “This suggests that there is still room to decrease the smoking rates.”

More information

For more information on smoking, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Do This Workout to Have A Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

Wed, 2014-11-26 09:06

It’s almost Thanksgiving, so you’re probably already thinking about your favorite holiday dishes, like grandma’s garlic mashed potatoes and mom’s perfect pumpkin pie. And, like a lot of us, you’re probably planning to splurge a little (or a lot) at Thanksgiving dinner. This delicious food-fest only comes once a year, so there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself a little. But, of course, you don’t want to overdo it either, so if you’re planning a splurge, you might want to commit to burning off some of the extra calories by breaking a sweat first thing on Thanksgiving morning.

RELATED: 4 Exercises to Beat a Fitness Plateau

This quick, high-intensity workout will torch calories and start your Thanksgiving off on the right foot so you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday without guilt. Perform each exercise at high intensity for 60 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat the series of six exercises 2-3 times for an even more challenging workout!

Exercise demonstrations:

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

Categories: Health & Fitness

10 Metallic Nail Polishes You’ll Love

Wed, 2014-11-26 09:02

Lisa Shin

Nail the right shade for your skin tone with this handy cheat sheet.

If your skin has a warm cast: Go for the gold

“Golden hues enhance yellow undertones, giving hands a warm glow and more youthful look,” says New York City celeb manicurist Jin Soon Choi. (First row, left to right.)

1. Pearl power—YSL La Laque Couture in Doré Orfévre, $27; neimanmarcus.com.

2. Festive flecks—Nails Inc Special Effects in Belgrave Square, $15; amazon.com.

3. Luxe lacquer—OPI in OPI with a Nice Finn-ish, $10; ulta.com.

4. Subtle shimmer—Deborah Lippmann in Autumn in New York, $20; sephora.com.

5. 14k cool—Julep Color Treat in Mahima, $14; amazon.com.

RELATED: 10 Foods for Stronger Nails and Thicker Hair

If your skin has a cool cast: Stick with silver

“The blue hues in silver shades counteract pink undertones, creating a flattering contrast that brightens your skin,” Choi notes. (Second row, left to right.)

6. Cosmic color—Smith & Cult in Bang the Dream, $18; smithandcult.com.

7. Steel appeal—Nars in Amarapura, $20; neimanmarcus.com.

8. Frosted finish—Essie in Jiggle Hi, Jiggle Low, $9; nordstrom.com.

9. Precious metal—JinSoon in Mica, $18; nordstrom.com.

10. Sparkle on—Sally Hansen Big Glitter in Costume Glitters, $6; at mass retailers.

RELATED: 29 Expert Beauty Tips Every Woman Should Know

Categories: Health & Fitness

Weight Could Influence Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief

Wed, 2014-11-26 07:37

By Alex Kramer
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) — People with rheumatoid arthritis may be more likely to achieve remission if they maintain a healthy body weight, according to new research.

The study found that those who were heaviest had almost 65 percent reduced odds of disease remission. Being underweight also lowered the odds of remission.

“Medication for rheumatoid arthritis is not as effective on the overweight population,” said Dr. Susan Goodman, the study’s lead author and a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Findings from the new research were presented earlier this month at the American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in Boston. Studies presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

It’s also important to note that while this study found a link between weight and rheumatoid arthritis remission, it wasn’t designed to show whether or not weight was actually responsible for changes in remission status.

Almost 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic condition that causes painful joint swelling that can lead to joint deformity, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The disease is three times more common in women, and typically begins between ages 30 and 60, the Arthritis Foundation reported.

A major goal of treatment is to induce remission — defined as no or low inflammation or no signs of active disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients who achieve remission experience a significant reduction in symptoms, according to Goodman. Patients have achieved remission when they no longer have fatigue, swelling in their joints and short-lived morning joint stiffness, she noted. Patients are significantly more likely to attain these results if they adhere to a specific plan to combat the disease, Goodman said.

The current study followed nearly 1,000 patients — who developed the disease at an early age — for three years.

The researchers found that people who were underweight had 45 percent lower odds of achieving remission than people of normal weight. And, people who were obese (a body mass index — or BMI — of 35 to 40) or morbidly obese (a BMI over 40) had about 50 to 60 percent lower odds of achieving remission of their rheumatoid arthritis, according to the study. BMI is a measurement that roughly estimates how much body fat a person has.

“Obesity is a major barrier that stops people from responding to treatment,” said Daniel White, an assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., who reviewed the study’s findings.

The investigators also found that certain patients were more likely to achieve a sustained remission. These included people who don’t smoke, as well as those who start treatment with a drug known as methotrexate. The study also found that people who respond quickly to treatment often enter a sustained remission.

Goodman said the researchers were surprised to see that obesity appeared to play such a big role in whether or not someone went into remission. She suspects that inflammation associated with obesity may be the reason why.

The researchers aren’t sure why being underweight might affect whether or not a person is able to go into remission. Goodman said it’s possible that people who were underweight may have been more likely to be smokers or to have another illness that caused inflammation. She said she hopes to have a larger group of underweight people in a future study to be able to draw stronger conclusions about this group.

Whatever your weight, Goodman said physical activity is often helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis. She said exercise can help prevent some of the joint swelling that comes with the disease.

White agreed that “there has been strong evidence for years that physical activity is beneficial for joint function.”

Soon after starting medication, Goodman counsels her patients to start a regular low-impact exercise regimen. Running and jogging can be painful for sore joints, but regular walking, cycling and swimming are very beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis patients, she said.

But, she added that physical activity is often extremely difficult for people who have just been diagnosed with the condition. Inflamed joints can be very painful, she noted.

More information

Learn more about rheumatoid arthritis from the American College of Rheumatology.

Categories: Health & Fitness