Parents of kids with asthma and allergies should prepare a plan to keep them safe as schools reopen, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) says. Along with guarding against COVID-19, it's important to protect against cold, flu and other viruses that pose a risk to children with asthma. That includes wearing masks, washing hands and using hand sanitizer whenever possible. "We don't know what this fall and winter will bring, but if COVID-19 cases are again on the rise, it's important to keep everyone safe from the flu virus and out of the hospital, a news release said. Flu shots are crucial -- along with the COVID-19 vaccine for kids who are old enough. (The Pfizer vaccine is approved for those 12 and older.) While flu numbers were down last year because folks stayed home, a news release said a flu shot this year can keep kids from getting sick with something that can be prevented. It's also important for kids with asthma and allergies to avoid triggers. For example, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) given off by new carpeting can cause wheezing and sneezing. Parents should consider: Is there new carpeting in school hallways? Are there open windows where pollen can drift into the classroom? Could a class pet be causing allergies? Is there mold in the bathrooms? It's important for parents to discuss potential triggers with school officials to help control their child's symptoms. Work with an allergist to make sure your child's medications are appropriate for their height and weight, their asthma action plan is up to date and that symptoms are under control, the ACAAI recommends. Ideally, this should be done before school begins. Children with asthma under the care of an allergist have a 77 percent reduction in lost time from school, according to the ACAAI. If your child has food allergies, work with your allergist and school staff to create an action plan that lists the foods your child is allergic to, what treatment is required, as well as emergency contact information, the ACAAI urges.
People suffering from regular migraines despite medication might consider investing in a yoga mat. That's according to a new trial that tested the effects of a gentle yoga practice -- with slow-paced physical postures, breathing exercises and relaxation. Researchers found that people who added the practice to their usual migraine medication suffered about half as many headache attacks as they normally did. In contrast, study patients who stuck with medication alone saw only a small decline in migraine flare-ups. The findings appear in the May 6 online issue of the journal Neurology. Worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have migraine headaches, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. For people who suffer frequent episodes, there are medications that can help prevent them. But it may not be enough. "The good news is that practicing something as simple and accessible as yoga may help much more than medications alone," researchers said in a journal news release. "And all you need is a mat." Instruction helps, too, however. In this study, migraine patients first had classes with a yoga teacher three times a week for one month. After that, they practiced at home with a manual for another two months. By that three-month mark, their average headache frequency had dropped. They also felt their migraines were less disruptive to their daily lives, based on a standard rating scale. Migraines cause episodes of intense head pain, along with symptoms like nausea, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light and sound. Some people need to take preventive medication, but lifestyle choices -- including sufficient sleep, regular meals and exercise -- are always key, experts said. "Physical exercise is one important part of migraine management," researchers said. But a problem for some people is that higher-impact exercise, like running, can be a migraine trigger. So yoga may offer a lower-impact way to be active. Beyond physical exercise, yoga includes other ways to practice "mindfulness" -- such as breathing practices, relaxation techniques and meditation. A caution, though, is that yoga exists in many different styles. The practice in this study consisted of gentler poses and plenty of breath work and relaxation -- not the fast-paced and strenuous styles offered in many real-world classes. Researchers recommended people with migraines avoid "hot yoga," which is practiced in heated rooms, since dehydration is a major trigger of headaches. It's wise to know what kind of yoga you're getting into beforehand.
Think about some of your favorite recipes. Do they include heavy cream by the cupful? Butter by the stick? Those meals may be tasty, but they aren't doing your heart any favors. Fortunately, you don't have to throw out your recipe books -- or sacrifice flavor -- to make your meals more heart healthy. All it takes is a little translating. When the casserole recipe calls for heavy cream, you read "evaporated skim milk." In your mind, two cups of all-purpose flour can transform itself to one cup of all-purpose flour plus one cup of whole-wheat flour. With just a few simple substitutions, you'll be well on your way to a low-fat, high-fiber, heart-friendly diet. Tweaking recipes Here are some easy and satisfying ways to tweak your recipes. These tips have been collected from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Cancer Society, the Ohio State University Extension Service, and the Purdue University School of Consumer and Family Sciences. Instead of one large egg, try two large egg whites. If baking, replace half of the eggs with egg whites. (For instance, instead of using two whole eggs, use one egg and two egg whites.) Desserts and breads baked with egg whites only tend to be tough. You can also use egg substitutes in recipes. Generally, one-forth cup of egg substitute is equal to one whole egg. If a recipe calls for two or more eggs, you can use one whole egg and use either egg whites or egg substitutes for the others. Go easy on the oil. If a recipe calls for a cup of oil, use 3/4 or 2/3 of a cup instead. If making a sweet bread such as banana bread, cut the oil in half and replace it with pureed plums or prunes, mashed banana, applesauce, or canned pumpkin. However, it's best not to skimp on oil when making yeast breads or pie crusts. (Eliminating the oil completely makes for a pretty "gummy" product.) When baking, use one cup of plain low-fat yogurt instead of one cup of sour cream. You'll hardly notice the difference, and you'll end up with 350 fewer calories, 44 fewer grams of total fat, and nearly 28 fewer grams of saturated fat. If you're baking something sweet, you can replace regular sour cream with nonfat sour cream. Don't try this in a savory casserole -- nonfat sour cream turns sweet when heated. Think skim. Skim or 1 percent milk makes a perfect stand-in for whole milk. Cut down on heavy cream. If making soup or a casserole, use evaporated skim milk instead. If baking, use light cream. Instead of evaporated whole milk, try evaporated skim milk. Switch to healthier fats. That means cutting out lard, butter, palm oil, coconut oil, and shortenings made with these oils. Instead, use healthy oils such as olive, canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, sesame, peanut, and cottonseed. You can use low-fat or nonfat cheese in place of regular cheese. Since nonfat cheese doesn't melt, though, it's not a good choice for cooked meals. Another alternative is to decrease the portions while boosting the flavor. Instead of adding a cup of regular cheddar, use 3/4 cup of extra sharp cheddar. Likewise, 3/4 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan will add just as much zip as a cup of the grated stuff from the shaker. Low-fat cream cheese is a good alternative to regular cream cheese. Keep in mind that nonfat cream cheese will get very runny in cake frosting and dips. If you add nuts to a recipe, reduce the quantity and make sure to toast them. This helps bring out the flavor with fewer calories. When cooking with all-purpose flour, use half of the usual amount. Then complete the recipe with whole-wheat flour, an excellent source of fiber. (If the flavor seems a little strong, you can cut back a bit on the whole-wheat flour.) If you're on a low-sodium diet, you can reduce (or eliminate) the salt in many recipes without killing the flavor. Try adding herbs and spices instead of salt.
For anyone who might be step-obsessed, a new study suggests that all those steps might also add years to their life. Folks who took about 7,000 steps a day had a 50 percent to 70 percent lower risk of dying from all causes during after 11 years of follow-up when compared with people who took fewer steps each day. These findings held for Black and white middle-aged men and women. And quicker steps weren't necessarily any better, the study showed. Step intensity, or the number of steps per minute, didn't influence the risk of dying. The study appears in the Sept. 3 issue of the journal JAMA Network Open. "Step-counting devices can be useful tools for monitoring and promoting activity in the general public and for patient-clinician communication, the study said. "Steps per day is a simple, easy-to-monitor metric and getting more steps/day may be a good way to promote health." The study said that 7,000 steps/day may be a great goal for many individuals who are currently not achieving this amount. We also found in our study that accumulating a greater number of steps/day was associated with an incremental lower risk of mortality until leveling off at approximately 10,000 steps/day. This is a very nice study with a great message: "Live longer, walk more," the study said. "There's no need to join a gym, no need to purchase equipment, just start walking." The research wasn't designed to say how, or even if, taking more steps reduced the chances of dying. But "exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk by improving blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, improvement of hyperglycemia [blood sugar] in diabetes, and contributing to weight reduction," the study reported.
Living may be easier during the warmer weather seasons but that doesn’t mean your wellness goals should be swept under the rug. To help, here is a range of healthy suggestions for the summer, whether you’re at home, road tripping with friends and family, or grilling in your backyard. Develop an action plan: Use this time as an opportunity to develop a nutritionally balanced meal plan that focuses on real, whole foods that charge your metabolism and help you feel energized. A structured meal plan can help you lose weight and get healthier. For example, the company’s Metabolic Plan focuses on repairing metabolic health with whole foods that are affordable, simple to prepare and easy to find in a restaurant or convenience store. It’s effective because:
- You stay fuller longer and don’t have to fight with hunger and cravings
- You can eat delicious foods that you want to eat—you are in control
- There’s no diet isolation. You eat the same foods as your family and friends