Category: Lifestyle

Crash or DASH- choosing the right diet

February is heart month.  We’re often told that in order to keep our hearts healthy we should maintain a healthy weight.  Many people try to do this by dieting, but do diets really make us healthier?

New research has emerged that meal replacement crash diets (typically consuming only 600 to 800 calories each day) can temporarily worsen heart function [1].  This means that if you have heart problems, these diets could actually make your health worse instead of better.  If you’re looking for a healthy way to lose weight, you may want to check out the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute’s DASH diet.  In January, U.S. News and World Report ranked the DASH diet as the best overall diet plan for the eighth year in a row [2].  The DASH diet also claimed first place in the healthy eating and heart disease prevention categories.

If you feel like dieting, stop and ask yourself why you’re doing it.  If you’re trying to get your heart in shape, you may want to rethink that overly restrictive diet.

 

References

[1]   European Society of Cardiology (ESC). “Crash diets can cause transient deterioration in heart function.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202123836.htm

[2]  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2018, January 3). DASH ranked Best Diet Overall for eighth year in a row by U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2018/dash-ranked-best-diet-overall-eighth-year-row-us-news-and-world-report

 

“May the odds be ever in your favor”: Pyeochang 2018

The month of January has come and gone (for which many of us are very grateful) and now were off to the month of love, my birthday and this year is extra special with the Winter Olympics!  I’m excited for the endless spins of the figure skaters, the incredible jumps of the alpine skiers and the freighting tobogganing trails of the bobsledders. The games begin on Thursday in Pyeochang, South Korea about 80 miles from Seoul, the country’s capital and this is the second time the games have been held in South Korea (the other was the Summer Games in 1988 in Seoul).

This year’s games consist of 102 events and will feature new events added for the first time including big air snowboarding, freestyle skiing, mass-start speed skating and mixed doubles curling. While there are new events this game there are some returning athletes that won’t be joining the games also known as the Russians. After a state-sponsored doping scandal that has unfolded over the past few years the Russians are banned from competing under the Russian flag but are welcome to compete under a neutral flag. It will be interesting to see which ones of them will show and which ones will show their loyalty to Putin.

The live opening ceremonies will be on Friday February 9th at 3:00am EST but for those of us who don’t want to get up in the middle of the night the will be replayed later in the day on NBC at 8 pm EST.  Let the games begin!

References:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/olympics-2018-pyeongchang-winter-games-south-korea/story?id=52026112

https://www.olympic.org/

 

 

In 2018, is “Time Up” for the Grammy Awards?

Last Sunday marked the 60th Annual Grammy Awards presented by the Recording Academy. After the show ended, a number of pieces were shared across the web regarding the breakdown of winners. While Award Shows such as this year’s Golden Globes offering a timely critique of the violation of power, with bold statements of (TimesUp), the Grammys seemed to stumble to acknowledge the inherent misogyny in the Music Industry.

Lorde, who was nominated for Album of the Year for (Melodrama), did not perform because she was not offered a space to perform a song from her album. All of the other nominees in the category were men, and were offered a space to perform (Important to note: Jay-Z reportedly declined an offer to perform).

At a mid-point of the evening, the President of the Recording Academy addressed viewers, and gave a speech where women were encouraged to [come forward and share their truth]. But these words did not seem to correlate with the evening’s award winners. Of the categories awarded on the live broadcast on CBS, only one went to a female artist, with Alessia Cara taking home the trophy for Best New Artist. Even this win has had its fair share of criticism, with break-out star SZA having lost to Cara, and failing to take home a single award, after being the female artist with the most nominations at five.

At the very least, this year’s Grammy Awards felt dated. Some may argue that those who are voting members of The Recording Academy are out of touch with modern music, instead basing artistic value in forms of music that are more “respectable” and “tolerable” to white male audiences. If you have yet to read about this controversy in the Music Industry, I have included some further reading below.

 

Sources:

The New York Times- Grammy 2018 Winners: Full List – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/arts/music/grammy-winners.html

Spin Magazine – Grammys Producer on Lorde-Less Show: “There’s No Way We Can Really Deal With Everybody – https://www.spin.com/2018/01/grammys-lorde-snub-theres-no-way-we-can-deal-with-everybody/

Vox – 3 Reasons Why The 2018 Grammys Fell So Flat – https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/1/29/16943952/2018-grammys-recap-awards-winners-losers-boring

Bare cupboards and full bellies: Food Purchasing patterns change over time

Food purchasing patterns are a pretty good indicator of what people eat on a regular basis.  If you purchase healthy food, it’s presumed that you eat healthy food.  Recently, research from the United States Department of Agriculture revealed that food purchasing habits are changing over time. The grocery carts of younger food shoppers’ look vastly different than previous generations’. According to one report, they may even be empty.

Millennials, anyone born between 1981 and 1996, tend to purchase more premade meals and eat away from home more than older generations [1].  Restaurants have become more popular among youth and time spent preparing meals at home is decreasing.  Overall, older generations consume food in restaurants and bars about 70 percent less than millennials. Millennials spend a large portion of their income on pasta, sugar/sweets, and prepared foods, and as they acquire more disposable income they purchase more vegetables to prepare at home.  These findings could indicate that although millennials are more likely to eat out as they move farther into their careers and acquire more household income, they could gravitate toward purchasing more fruits and vegetables.

While millennials gravitate toward healthier foods, we should pay attention to nutritious food options and the food available to lower-income millennials.  Foods prepared by restaurants and bars and premade foods are often high in sodium and sugar.  Fast food restaurants are notorious for these types of foods (think cheeseburgers, deep-fried French fries, milkshakes, and slushies) and found more often in lower-income communities.  These foods put people at risk for hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

Nutritionists could encourage eating and cooking at home more often because hello it’s cheaper, made just the way you like, and you know what’s going into your meals that’s not always feasible with busy schedules.  We can, however, consider the following tips for healthier meals away from home:

  1. Choose less processed foods. Foods that are less processed often have less sodium and sugar added. If you can choose between apple slices and an apple turnover, the apple is always a better option. Less sugar. More fiber.
  2. The more fruits and vegetables the better. Fruits and vegetables add a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to a diet. They also provide fiber, fill you up without so many calories and help you hydrate.
  3. Ask for nutrition facts. Nutrition labels which include sodium, calories, sugar, vitamins, etc let you know exactly what’s in your food.  If you need to cut back on sugar intake, you’ll know exactly how much you are getting.

References:

[1] https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/86401/eib-186.pdf?v=43097

It all started with a meme: The Tide Pod Challenge

In the past few weeks on social media there has been an influx of tweets, Instagrams and Facebook posts about the “The Tide Pod Challenge”. As with many of these social media trends and dares its popularity arose with satirical memes about consuming these pods plastered across the internet. Most likely these memes were inspired by the aesthetics of the pods themselves and described by many as “candy like”.  Teenagers took the memes quite literally and began challenging each other to consume the pods by biting them or perhaps even frying them up before popping them in their mouths.

While this challenge can seem quite hilarious and definitely inspires some chuckles, this challenge is extremely dangerous and has severe health consequences. In the first few weeks of 2018 there have been 37 reported cases of teenagers consuming these pods (the same number of reported cases in all of 2016). Health consequences of consuming these pods include but are not limited to blood pressure changes, seizures, poisoning, burns to the mouth, abdominal pain and vomiting.

In efforts to stop this challenge social media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook are removing content that shows people doing the challenge and Tide has released a new advertisement with NFL player, Rob Gronkowsi, to dissuade the behavior and to highlight the dangerous health effects of consumption.

If you know someone that has consumed these please call the National Poison Help Hotline 1-800-222-1222

References

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/01/13/teens-are-daring-each-other-to-eat-tide-pods-we-dont-need-to-tell-you-thats-a-bad-idea/?utm_term=.5381ab7e8fef

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/tide-pod-challenge.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/tide-pod-challenge-health-risk-advert-dangers-consume-swallow-eat-a8166666.html

Top 5 “Wins” for Health in 2017

2017 has been one for the books! Our country inaugurated a new president, two major hurricanes swept through the South, the first solar eclipse in a 100 years, the riots in Charlottesville, and most importantly the royal engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In the health-related realm there were many notably scientific and policy advances that occurred this year. Here is my top 5 list of these occurrences.

  1. US Federal Court requires tobacco companies to put out corrective statements about harmful health effects of smoking as a consequence for misleading the public about this through advertisements
  2. First diagnosis of CTE in an alive patient (traumatic brain injury typically seen in football players)
  3. First baby born from a uterus transplant
  4. Development of a digital ingestion tracking system. This is a new technology with the ability to monitor drug adherence after the pill has been taken
  5. Decrease in daily consumption of sugary beverages consumed by Americans since 2014

There were many more significant health-related achievements over this year. What is your top 5 list?

 

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/health/soda-pop-sugary-drinks.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

 

http://abcnews.go.com/US/nfl-player-confirmed-1st-diagnosis-cte-living-patient/story?id=51181721

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/first-baby-born-from-a-uterus-transplant-in-the-u-s-delivered-in-texas/

 

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/14/health/fda-digital-pill-abilify/index.html

 

https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/media/2017/corrective-statements

New Year’s Resolutions: How to achieve them in 2018

As the holidays are quickly approaching, schools are letting out for their winter breaks, work holiday parties are filling up our weekends and everyone is ready to put behind this year and begin anew.  Over the years my resolutions have been the stereotypical ones: eat healthier, go to the gym and usually tend to break them by the end of January along with the majority of Americans.  About 40% of Americans make resolutions each year with only about 8% achieving their goals. How do we go about making our resolutions more successful?

A CBS News article published some tips on how to make your resolutions more achievable:  

  • Be honest with yourself
  • Stick to one thing
  • Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely)  
  • Adapt your environment
  • Track your progress
  • Celebrate with success and be compassionate with setbacks

Happy resolution making!!

Cigarette package

Federal Courts Take on Big Tobacco

It’s been a big week in terms of wins for public health and tobacco control. On November 26, 2017, tobacco companies such as Phillip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds were mandated by the US federal court to place full page corrective statements about the negative health effects of tobacco products. These ads will be placed in newspapers, magazines and television ads. The corrective statements are black and white ads that detail effects of smoking, addictiveness of smoking and lack of significant health benefit of switching to low tar and light from regular cigarettes. The tobacco companies have been advertising false information for years about their products which lead to these mandated statements.

These mandated statements came out of lawsuit that began in 1999 where the Justice department sued these major companies of civil fraud and racketeering violations. For those of us (myself included) not familiar with the legal jargon it means lying (or misrepresenting) information to the public and when organizations run illegal businesses. Now eighteen years later, these companies are required to make up for these actions.

As a current health communication student though my initial thoughts are these basic ads enough? It seems very intentional by these companies who have developed colorful and intricate ads to sell their products are using plain black and white ads for their corrective statements. It definitely is a step in the right direction but will be interesting to see how these simple ads impact attitudes towards their products.

 

“I’ll have a blue christmas without you”

This time of the year is it hard not to get swept up in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, extravagant amount of food and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. As we move through these next few weeks, it’s important to consider this time is not always merry for those around this. The holiday blues is a term coined to those who have feelings of anxiety and depression around the holidays due to the extra stress and expectations from this time of year. It differs from clinical anxiety and depression due to its temporary state. Holiday blues can look like fatigue, tension, loneliness, isolation and sadness. There are many triggers associated with them as such as less exposure to sunlight, changes in your diet and exercise routine, or inability to be with loved ones during the holiday season. Particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions are at risk for the holiday blues.

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has provided suggestions on how to avoid the holiday blues

  • Stick to normal routines
  • Sleep
  • Eat and drink in moderation
  • Exercise
  • Set goals and reasonable expectations for holiday shopping, cooking, entertaining etc.
  • Listen to music or other outlets for relaxation

To those experiencing the holiday blues, remember that this time of year is temporary and these feelings are short term. Happy Holidays!

The Glamorization of Murder

After many hours of class, homework, and work, I always look forward to my nightly routine of sitting down to watch Law and Order before going to bed. One may question, why are you excited to watch a show about solving murder cases? I ponder this myself about why do I enjoy this show? It makes me contemplate how murder has rapidly infiltrated our media channels and completely transformed media content. Murder in these contexts is not only considered a crime but into one of the most popular plot twists to our favorite television shows and movies. Our society has become obsessed with finding out the motive and understanding why the perpetrator killed the person. This obsession is not only seen all over television programs and movies but in our daily new outlets as well.  Is this obsession and constant perpetration of violence in our media glamorizing murder and in turn making this crime more socially acceptable?  I am guilty of this myself when I hear my friends discussing a new television show that they have been binging about solving a murder and I am immediately intrigued and want to know more. Through this glamorization process do perpetrators want the fame and recognition and to become the next plot line of the Law and Order or 60 minutes? While this has been my own anecdotal thoughts, there is a recent research that has found that contagion (exposure in media about previous incidents) predicts mass shootings and school shootings. Further research is need to explore this and better understand this phenomenon. In the meantime, let’s think about the implications of this type of obsession on our society.