Category: Lifestyle

Early Dietary Interventions May Reduce Allergy Development

With increasing rates of allergies in kids, it’s not surprising that parents are looking for more information on how to reduce their child’s risk. The determinants of a child’s potential allergic development are still unclear. However, a youth’s surrounding environment, pharmaceutical intake and lifestyle are suspected to play major roles in this narrative. Specifically, food allergies are on the rise, and affect 5.6 million children in the United States alone. Many of these allergies are to common foods – like dairy, fish, and peanuts – and can be life threatening.

Early diet is suspected to play a role in allergy development, and new parents are desperate to know how introducing foods at specific times may or may not prevent food allergies. This dynamic can be difficult to navigate, but fortunately there is an abundance of research and literature on this topic. Just recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a report which can serve as a guide for nutritional interventions in the context of allergy prevention. The report shows that there is no evidence to support that waiting to introduce allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months might prevent allergy development. Rather, on the contrary, an earlier introduction of such food to high-risk children (with a family history of allergies) may in fact be protective to allergy development. Overall, the study promotes that habitual eating habits and diversity in food choice are the best way to promote an infant’s healthy diet and reduce risk of allergies.

 

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/prevalence-of-allergies-and-asthma

 

https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/food-allergy-101/facts-and-statistics

 

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/03/15/peds.2019-0281

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/18/health/food-introduction-allergies-report/index.html

 

 

 

 

What’s Actually Bad For Our Skin?

In today’s age, it’s hard to keep up with what things are good for our skin, bad for our skin, or don’t affect it at all. Skin care is tied into beauty, and thus many people are often searching for a “secret trick” or “hack”. Due to this, many different products and techniques have been recommended. Many of these approaches have are rumored to provide drastic improvements in one’s skin clarity, texture, and overall health. Alongside these claims, we see many people generating fear around certain exposures, and it’s important to examine what can actually harm our skin.

There are many negative things in our lives that can have unexpected side effects. Stress, for one, can play a large role in the health of one’s skin. Experiencing excessive stress can prompt new outbreaks or aggravate pre-existing conditions, like psoriasis, eczema and hives. As many already know, smoking is a habit with many negative health outcomes. However, few often attribute smoking to skincare, and are unaware of the damage it can cause. Nicotine reduces blood flow to one’s skin, and thus smoker’s often have skin which is more wrinkled, thin and less likely to heal if injured.

Alongside these negative factors, there are those which are a bit more complicated. UV rays – coming from sunshine – are a mixed bag. A little sunlight is good for you, it prompts one’s skin to make Vitamin D, which is essential to many bodily processes. However, without proper protection , sunlight can be extremely damaging to skin. Excess exposure to UV rays can cause mutations in your DNA, which can later lead to cancer. Because of this, it’s important to wear protective sunscreen, clothing, and protective gear when exposing oneself to strong sunlight for long hours.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/27/health/skin-myths-truths-partner/index.html

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/the-effects-of-stress-on-your-skin

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/bad-skin-habits#1

https://www.cancer.net/blog/2015-07/10-tips-protecting-your-skin-sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Movement Can Go A Long Way

In today’s society, we can access so many resources without having to put in any real effort.

Everything is available in an instant via our smartphones.  We used to have to go to the store to buy household goods, now we can have them delivered to our doorstep the same day by Amazon.  We used to have to go to the bank to deposit a check, now we can take a picture of a check on our smartphone and the money will be deposited moments later.

We barely have to move a finger anymore, but it’s actually in our best interest that we do keep moving (fingers, toes, arms, legs, etc.).

It is estimated that 322 million people worldwide live with depression.  Pulling yourself away from society’s convenience tools and getting in a little physical activity daily can help to protect your mental health.

While previous research only showed physical activity and depression were linked, a recent New York Times article highlighted an innovative study by Choi et. al (2019) found that simple physical activities — jogging for 15 minutes or simpler activities like walking, gardening, or doing housework for closer to an hour — can actually protect against developing depression.

If you are considering suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available by phone 24-hours per day by just calling 1-800-273-8255.

If you’re a UNC student struggling with depression, UNC offers counseling and psychological services through the UNC CAPS program.

 

We all deserve the ability to be happy without depression getting in the way.

– Alex Kresovich

For more information, check out:

Choi, K. W., Chen, C. Y., Stein, M. B., Klimentidis, Y. C., Wang, M. J., Koenen, K. C., & Smoller, J. W. (2019). Assessment of bidirectional relationships between physical activity and depression among adults: a 2-sample mendelian randomization study. JAMA psychiatry.

Food for Thought: How Our Diet Affects Our Mental Health

Few would argue that a healthy diet can provide a wide variety of physical health benefits, such as reducing risk of heart disease, protecting against certain cancers, and preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, few have talked about the potential mental health benefits that may go hand-in-hand with a nutritious diet. Now, research is showing that a diet full of fruits and vegetables may influence an individual’s life satisfaction.

The study was based in Australia and followed a large cohort of nearly 40,000 individuals who increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Over the course of five years, this work showed that individuals reported increased mental well-being and life satisfaction as they ate more fruits and veggies.

Although this study is quite recent, the idea that a healthy diet might impact our mental health is not new. Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit, has been promoting similar messages for quite some time. Their group has shown that involving key nutrients in your diet and avoiding negative substances can have huge impacts on mental health. These messages promote a healthy diet, but do not advocate that this is curative or causative. It’s important to take these things into consideration when choosing a meal, and to never discount the power of nutrition.

 

 

 

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-nutrients-health

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953618306907?via%3Dihub

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/healthy-diet-eating-mental-health-mind

 

 

Cartoon with 6 arms. Holding a wrench, light bulb, clock, magnifying glass, and USB stick

Boost your productivity and your health without taking any extra time out of your day

Have your ever gotten to the end of your work day and wondered where your time went?  Some research suggests that during an eight-hour workday, most Americans are only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes.  This means we’re spending over five hours at work surfing the web, posting on social media, and being otherwise distracted.

Productivity experts suggest that after focusing on one task for twenty-five minutes, we benefit from taking a short break.  Others say that we can productive time can extend up to 90 minutes before we need a break.  Either way, for many companies, their most productive employees take more breaks than anyone else.

If you’re looking for ways to spend this new downtime, consider taking a snack break.  While this may elicit thoughts of chocolate and potato chips, “exercise snacks” are one other way to use this time.  Exercise gets your blood moving, which can improve focus, increase energy, and improve your memory– all of which can help your get more done in the day.  Your exercise time doesn’t have to take up your whole lunch break, instead it can be just a short burst of activity.  One article from the New York Times says that “as little as 20 seconds of brisk stair climbing, done several times a day might be enough to improve fitness.”

If you’re feeling yourself slump, take a break and get moving.  Both your body and your boss may thank you for it.

 

 

 

https://onlinemasters.ohio.edu/blog/benefits-of-a-shorter-work-week/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2017/02/06/want-to-get-more-done-try-taking-more-breaks/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2012/05/08/6-ways-exercise-makes-you-smarter/#5611b1dd305d

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/well/move/20-second-exercise-fitness-interval-training.html

Get Outside to Absorb Vitamin D

Some 75% of US teens and adults are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D, also known as the sunlight vitamin, is associated with obesity, heart disease, and cancer. People with low Vitamin D are more likely to deal with these issues and many more than those with normal or above normal levels.

What can you do to increase your Vitamin D levels?

Scientists say that getting just 10 minutes of exposure to the sun is enough for most people to maintain appropriate vitamin D levels. But it’s not enough to sit in front of a window on a sunny day. Our bodies use UVB light to help us process vitamin D, and unlike UVA light–the light associated with aging– this light doesn’t make it through windows. So take advantage of any sunny days we get this spring and spend a few minutes basking in the sunshine. Your body will thank you.

 

Additional Resources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/vitamin-d-deficiency-united-states/

FDA Crackdown on Misleading Dietary Supplements

The United States is in the midst of a scientific wave. We are lucky to live during a time where new and effective medicines have changed the way we can prevent and treat chronic disease. However,  we have begun to see that fraudulent claims and products accompany this innovation. Amongst these deceptive products, dietary supplements are amongst the guiltiest parties.

The dietary supplement industry is extremely prosperous, with a market size of nearly $112 billion. Although some dietary supplements are effective, there are many which provide no benefit or can even cause harm to a consumer. Many false products make sweeping claims which have absolutely no backing evidence – such as dietary supplements which advertise that they can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Dietary supplements do not have to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before hitting the market. They can only be taken down afterwards if they have shown to cause adverse health outcomes or if the product is fake/misleading.

Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a statement regarding just this. This press announcement calls for a new, massive regulation of dietary supplements. The FDA is addressing this issue because they believe ineffective dietary supplements can cause a great deal of harm when people take them as alternatives to approved treatments. This new statement provides a hopeful potential of establishing a more honest and less misleading supplement market.

 

https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2018/02/17/fake-supplement-issue-no-one-talking-beware-amazon/

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm631046.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm631065.htm

 

 

Blame it on the Alk(aline)?

These days, it’s hard to keep up with what’s truly “good” or “bad” for your health. However, through all the changing trends, one thing has been steadfast: water. Water is one of the most necessary and obvious components for healthy living. Now, people are turning their eyes towards alkaline water, wondering if there’s a way to make drinking water even more healthy.

Alkaline water is just like regular water, except it has a higher pH level. pH levels dictate how acidic or non-acidic (basic) your water is. If it has a higher pH level – like alkaline level – it’s more basic than regular water. Alkaline water has salts and metals which make it unique from normal drinking water. It’s more common than you think, brands like Smart Water and Essentia offer alkaline water products.

So why drink it? Many sources claim drinking alkaline water has a number of health benefits. According to those who support it, alkaline water is rich in antioxidants, can help balance pH levels, lead to better hydration, boost the immune system, and many more benefits. However, like many nutritional fads, there is still not conclusive evidence these claims. And like anything going into your body, it’s important to consume everything in moderation.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/29/health/alkaline-water-benefits-explainer/index.html

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/what-alkaline-water-does-to-your-body/

https://alkalinewatermachinereviews.com/alkaline-water-benefits/

https://www.healthline.com/health/alkalosis

 

Brown Fat is Good Fat

Picture this: near-freezing temperatures, more darkness than daylight, and the pain of breathing in brittle, cold air. These conditions sound pretty terrible for exercise, right? Think again. Taking the time to exercise outside during winter can have a range of benefits, as long as one is also mindful of the risks.

Research has shown that exercising outside in cold weather (50°F or colder) can actually be beneficial for your health in a number of ways. This experience has been shown to boost one’s metabolism. Exercising in cold weather increases the production of brown fat by 45%, which is a type of fat that is highly calorie-burning. Having more of this type of fat generally aids metabolic function, and can contribute to active weight loss. Alongside this, it has been shown that outdoor recreation is in general a healthier choice than the indoor alternative. Studies have found that those who exercise outdoor regularly have lower risks for cardiovascular disease.

These studies are promising, but it’s always important to keep in mind the risks of exercising in frigid weather. Those who have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and/or sedentary lifestyle should be extra careful during these conditions, as exercising in cold weather can lead to higher risk of heart attacks.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24423363

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27089974

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/25/health/winter-exercise-jampolis/index.html

 

photo of buses and a bicycle stacked on each other

Public transit can help with your new year’s resolution

The recent new year brought the usual onslaught of new years resolutions, and for many people, this meant increasing their activity levels.  Of course, there are the usual ideas of joining a gym or getting work-out equipment for the home, but did you know that taking public transportation can also help with this goal?

Studies have shown that people who take public transportation are more likely to utilize active travel methods, and they are typically more active than those who drive. Additionally, some are suggesting that if you take the time to relax while you commute, you may be able to reduce your stress levels, which has been shown to help weight loss efforts.

On top of the personal health benefits, when people opt for public transit instead of driving, they help reduce the amount of air pollution we breathe in.  Air pollution has negative effects on our lungs and cardiovascular systems.

So if you can, ride the bus. It helps you and your community.

 

 

 

http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/policies/individual-incentives-for-public-transportation

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/21/upshot/stuck-and-stressed-the-health-costs-of-traffic.html

 

https://www.prevention.com/weight-loss/g20439118/how-to-prevent-weight-gain-due-to-stress-and-anxiety/