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Viewing posts from: October 2020

The Effects of Hunger on the Body

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Some 37 million Americans are facing hunger today, says Feeding America. Though hunger is not always apparent, the effects on the mind and body can be devastating. Worrying about where your next meal will come from or the inability to feed your loved ones can adversely affect your mental health. And concentrating in school or at work can prove difficult when you're hungry. Roaring stomachs can cause crankiness and aggression, which can impact your everyday life, too. Additionally, skipping meals has been associated with chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Healthy Eating Plan A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal for weight loss. A healthy eating plan also will lower your risk for heart disease and other health conditions. A healthy eating plan: Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts Limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars Controls portion sizes Calories To lose weight, most people need to reduce the number of calories they get from food and beverages (energy IN) and increase their physical activity (energy OUT). For a weight loss of 1–1 ½ pounds per week, daily intake should be reduced by 500 to 750 calories. In general: Eating plans that contain 1,200–1,500 calories each day will help most women lose weight safely. Eating plans that contain 1,500–1,800 calories each day are suitable for men and for women who weigh more or who exercise regularly. Very low-calorie diets of fewer than 800 calories per day should not be used unless you are being monitored by your doctor.

Prioritizing Your Wellness

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The strains of everyday life can affect overall health, says the National Safety Council. To focus on wellness each day, the council encourages you to: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a walk at lunch. Find nearby exercise classes. Choose healthy snacks. Take breaks to stand up and stretch. Get regular medical checkups. Talk to your doctor about alternatives to opioid pain medication.

Prevent Bloating

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Bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal tract fills with air or gas. This uncomfortable feeling can be caused by eating certain foods and constipation, among other reasons. To prevent bloating, the American Academy of Family Physicians says you should avoid: Foods known to cause gas, such as beans and lentils. Chewing gum. Straws for drinking. Carbonated drinks, such as soda. Dairy products, if they cause bloating. Smoking.
Uncovering Causes of Bloating Bloating is often described as the feeling that there is an inflated balloon in the abdomen, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders says. The foundation mentions these common triggers for bloating: Too much gas in the intestine. Abnormally high amounts of bacteria in the small intestine. Imbalance of microorganisms that usually live in the bowel, which could be the result of taking antibiotics. Food intolerance. Increased curvature of the lumbar region of the spine, which decreases the capacity of the abdomen to hold gas.

Don’t Count on Vitamin D to Ease Childhood Asthma

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Vitamin D supplements don't prevent severe asthma attacks in at-risk children, according to a study that challenges previous research. "The reason that's important is there are colleagues around this country and worldwide who are testing vitamin D levels for kids with asthma and giving them vitamin D," said a news release from UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "As a system, it costs a lot of money to run all these tests and give the supplements. We've shown no benefit for children with moderately low vitamin D levels," a hospital news release said. While past observational studies suggested that vitamin D could reduce asthma-attack severity, this is reportedly the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to assess if that's true. The three-year study included nearly 200 children, aged 6 to 16, across seven U.S. hospital systems. All had at least one asthma attack during the year before the study began. Half of the children received 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, and the other half got placebo pills. No one involved in the study knew which type of pill each child was getting. All of the children had vitamin D levels low enough that supplements should have had an effect if vitamin D truly is beneficial for reducing severe asthma attacks. But kids who took the supplements did not have fewer asthma attacks or less reliance on inhaled steroids than those who took placebo pills. The study was published Aug. 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Randomized controlled studies such as this one are considered the gold standard of research. Previous observational studies found that children with low vitamin D levels seemed to have worse asthma.

Understand Social Anxiety

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About seven percent of Americans are affected by social anxiety disorder, a mental illness in which a person feels uncontrollable fear during social situations. These instances may range from answering a question in class to talking to a cashier at a grocery store. Often, people with social anxiety disorder are afraid of being humiliated, judged or rejected, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Though the cause of social anxiety is not known, underdeveloped social skills and genetics are thought to contribute. The agency recommends talking with a doctor if you have symptoms of social anxiety. After a diagnosis is made, psychotherapy, medication or both may be part of a treatment plan.
Help Your Child Cope with Back-to-School Jitters Back-to-school season can be a time of stress for many kids -- even in the best of times. But pandemic fears add to the anxiety many kids will experience with the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, according to a child and adolescent psychologist at UConn Health in Farmington, Conn. Here are some tips to help reduce back-to-school and pandemic-associated anxiety, stress and behavior issues:
  • Keep calm: Parents need to lead by example. Slow down and give your family extra time in the morning so you aren't anxious and rushed. Teach kids to take deep breaths to calm themselves.
  • Start a healthy routine: A nutritious diet, exercise and good sleep are important. Children need a routine and a serene, structured schedule.
  • Keep informed: Parents need to know what is happening with the COVID-19 virus. Consult trusted health organizations and your local school district. Don't rely on social media alone.
  • Be sensitive and keep kids in the know: Talk with your child and be tuned-in to their thoughts, concerns and feelings. Answer their questions. Kids should know what you know so there are no surprises that can cause frustration.
  • Stay flexible: Avoid rigidity. Be aware of your child's expectations.
  • Talk with the teacher: Communicating with your child's teacher is important during these unusual and challenging times. Avoid pushing your child too hard as it could add more stress.
  • Look for warning signs: If your child's mood or behavior changes, or their sleeping and eating schedule is off, talk it over. If necessary, seek professional help.