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Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects?

Small study suggests vitamin B might help, but reducing pollution levels remains the priority

There’s a lot of evidence to show that breathing in dirty air can harm your heart. But a small new study suggests that daily vitamin B supplements might counteract that effect.

While two hours of exposure to concentrated air pollution had a negative effect on heart rate and levels of illness-fighting white blood cells, “these effects are nearly reversed with four-week B-vitamin supplementation,” according to study co-author Dr. Andrea Baccarelli. He’s chair of environmental health sciences at Columbia University in New York City.

One lung health expert was cautiously optimistic about the findings.

“It is interesting that pretreating with B vitamins may prevent some of the deleterious effects of exposure to this pollution,” said Dr. Alan Mensch, senior vice president of medical affairs at Northwell Heath’s Plainview Hospital in Plainview, N.Y.
“It must be kept in mind, however, that since this study only included 10 healthy patients, it might not be applicable to an entire population,” he added. Plus, preventing air pollution in the first place “takes precedent over developing methods to prevent its deleterious effects,” he said.

The new research involved 10 healthy nonsmokers, aged 18 to 60, who took a placebo for four weeks before being exposed to fine-particulate air pollution for two hours.

The “fine particulates” – microscopic specks – were 2.5 micrometers in diameter, the researchers said.

Inhalable particles that are “2.5 micrometers or smaller are potentially the most dangerous form of air pollution due to their ability to penetrate deep in the lungs and adjacent bloodstream,” Mensch explained. Once inhaled, “they can travel to various organs throughout the body,” he added, causing inflammation and ill effects on cardiovascular health.

“Populations exposed to high particulate-associated air pollution have increased heart attacks, lung cancer, DNA mutations, and premature births and deaths,” Mensch said.

Overall, fine-particle pollution contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly through harm to the cardiovascular system. This type of air pollution is believed to be the most common trigger for heart attack, the study authors noted.

But could a simple daily vitamin supplement help curb this smog-linked damage?

To find out, Baccarelli’s group gave the 10 participants vitamin B supplements for four weeks before again exposing them to the fine-particle air pollution for another two hours.

This time, the vitamin B supplements were linked to a near-reversal of the negative effects of the pollution on the volunteers’ cardiovascular and immune systems, the researchers said. This included healthy changes in each person’s heart rate and their white blood cell levels.

Baccarelli stressed that preventing pollution should always be the first measure in safeguarding people’s health, however.

“Pollution regulation remains the backbone of public health protection against its cardiovascular health effects,” he said in a university news release. “Studies like ours cannot diminish — nor be used to underemphasize — the urgent need to lower air pollution levels to — at a minimum — meet the air-quality standards set forth in the United States and other countries.”

Another lung expert agreed that the vitamin supplements could help blunt the health effects of dirty air.

The new study is “evidence that vitamin B provides benefits against the development of atherosclerosis in healthy adults who are exposed to air pollution,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

While it remains unclear just how the supplement works in this regard, “this finding recommends vitamin B, which is of course safe and has no side effects, as a buffer against coronary artery disease,” Horovitz said.

The study was published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

 
By Robert Preidt       HealthDay Reporter       FRIDAY, April 14, 2017
Sources: Alan Mensch, M.D., senior vice president of medical affairs,  Northwell Health’s Plainview and Syosset Hospitals, N.Y.;  Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Columbia University, news release, April 12, 2017        WebMD News from HealthDay  


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Are Eggs Healthy?

In some ways, eggs are very good for you.

First of all, they are a nutrient-dense food. They contain high-quality protein, meaning eggs offer all nine essential amino acids that can’t be made by humans and therefore must come from our diets. Protein in eggs can help build and preserve muscle as well as boost satiety, both of which are important for weight control.

Eggs are also one of the few food sources of vitamin D and a source of the nutrient choline, which may help protect against birth defects in infants. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2) and the antioxidant selenium, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which help keep our eyes healthy.

Most of an egg’s calories, vitamins and minerals are found in the yolk.

But what about the cholesterol in eggs? It’s true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, which is also found in the yolk, but they’re low in saturated fat, which is the bigger culprit when it comes to raising blood cholesterol levels. Because of this, eggs get the green light according to the government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In fact, one recent meta-analysis found that higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. And a 2016 Finnish study involving more than 1,000 men concluded that egg or cholesterol intakes are not associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease, even in those who are genetically predisposed to experience a stronger effect of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol.

What is more likely to affect your health is how eggs are prepared, as well as which other foods you combine with them. One large poached egg has 71 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat, and an omelet made with spinach and one yolk is also a lean choice. But a serving of eggs Benedict with bacon and Hollandaise sauce has about 800 calories and 26 grams of saturated fat.

So feel free to enjoy eggs, but watch how you eat them. And balance eggs with other healthy fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

By Lisa Drayer, CNN     Fri April 14, 2017
 
Lisa Drayer is a nutritionist, author and health journalist.
 
source: www.cnn.com


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Still Cooking with Aluminum Foil? You’ll Want to Read This

Cooking and baking with aluminum foil is fast and convenient, and makes cleanup a cinch, but it’s not without health risks.

A lot has changed since aluminum arrived on the scene back in 1910, after the first aluminum foil rolling plant, Dr. Lauber, Neher & Cie, opened in Emmishofen, Switzerland. The first use of foil in the United States came about in 1913, when it was used to wrap Life Savers, candy bars, and gum. Eventually, aluminum foil made its way into American kitchens as a way to bake fish or roast vegetables on the barbecue, to line baking pans, and to trap steam when cooking.

And we’re using tons of it—so much that experts are getting concerned. Because according to research, some of the foil used in cooking, baking, and grilling leaches into your food, which can pose health problems over time.

According to the World Health Organization, human bodies are capable of properly releasing small amounts of aluminum efficiently, so it’s considered safe to ingest 40mg per kilogram of body weight of aluminum per day. Unfortunately, most people are ingesting far more than this.

Scientists have been looking at the potential threat that overexposure to aluminum may have on human health for years, and have found some disturbing results. For example, researchers have found high concentrations of aluminum in the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also found that high aluminum intake may be linked to a reduction in the growth rate of human cells, and may be potentially harmful for patients with bone diseases or renal impairment.

A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science investigated the amount of aluminum that leaches into food cooked with foil. The amount varied based on factors such as temperature and acidity (fish and tomatoes are highly acidic), but the findings showed conclusively that aluminum foil does leach into food cooked in foil. “Aluminum foil used in cooking provides an easy channel for the metal to enter the human body,” the study authors wrote. “The increase in cooking temperature causes more leaching. The leaching is also highly dependent on the pH value of the food solution, salt, and spices added to the food solutions.”

Ghada Bassioni, Associate Professor and Head of the Chemistry Division at Ain Shams University, conducted research with a group of colleagues that explored the use of aluminum for cooking and preparing food particularly at high temperatures. “The acidity of the food would enhance further leaching of aluminum into the meal,” she said, adding: “How aluminum will actually harm your body depends on many factors like your overall well-being and consequently how much your body can handle accumulation of it in relation to the allowable dosages set by the World Health Organization.”

So should you stop cooking with aluminum foil? It seems the general consensus is that we should, at the very least, cut way back.

For grilling veggies, you can get a stainless steel grilling basket, or even reusable skewers. Use a glass pan when roasting veggies in the oven; use a stainless steel cookie sheet under baking potatoes as opposed to aluminum foil to catch the mess; and even try replacing foil with banana leaves when wrapping foods for baking!

BY ALEXA ERICKSON
 
source: www.rd.com


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Trans Fat Bans May Have Cut Heart Attacks, Strokes

Pending FDA regulations should remove nearly all of this unhealthy substance from your diet, experts say

Could the contents of your cupcake affect your heart attack risk?

It seems so, according to a new study that found lower rates of heart attack and stroke in communities that restrict trans fats in foods.

Trans fats, which are found in products such as baked goods, chips, crackers and fried foods, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In response, some U.S. cities have implemented policies to reduce trans fats in restaurant food.

“Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population. Trans fats are deleterious for cardiovascular health, and minimizing or eliminating them from the diet can substantially reduce rates of heart attack and stroke,” said study author Dr. Eric Brandt. He’s a clinical fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the Yale School of Medicine.

The researchers compared 2002-13 data from New York counties with and without restrictions on trans fats.

The study found a 6 percent decline in hospitalizations for heart attack and stroke in areas with trans fat restrictions compared to those without within three years of implementing no trans fat policies.

“It is a pretty substantial decline,” Brandt said.

Although the study found a link between trans fat restrictions and a lower heart attack and stroke risk, it’s important to note that the study wasn’t designed to prove a direct cause-and-effect link.

In 2018, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration ban on partially hydrogenated oil in foods will nearly eliminate dietary trans fats nationwide.

The study findings suggest that the FDA’s move to restrict trans fats in all foods will have widespread benefits, according to Brandt.

“Even though some companies have reduced the amount of trans fat in food, current FDA labeling guidelines allow up to 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving to be labeled as 0 grams, leaving consumers to scour labels for hidden trans fats, usually labeled as partially hydrogenated oils,” Brandt explained in a Yale news release.
“With the upcoming FDA regulation, people need not be so vigilant. A nationwide trans fat ban is a win for the millions of people at risk for cardiovascular disease,” he said.

The study was published April 12 in the journal JAMA Cardiology.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, April 12, 2017

 

By Robert Preidt       HealthDay Reporter
 
WEDNESDAY, April 12, 2017      HealthDay News       WebMD News from HealthDay
 
source: www.webmd.com


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Why We Procrastinate

Last minute taskers rejoice: psychological research proves that procrastinators are not necessarily lazy. Often, they are people who fear failure and rejection but don’t know the right strategies to reveal and conquer that fear.

Oh. Well that’s not much better than “lazy,” but at least we have a legitimate excuse.

One of the more obvious reasons why people procrastinate is to avoid doing something unpleasant. However, this is actually not as simple as it may sound. While some tasks are the embodiment of boredom, others may lead to procrastination because they scare you, on a subconscious level. Psychologists call this contributing factor to procrastination “fear of failure” and outline a few important dimensions. As a result, we can see that procrastination is not necessarily the product of laziness or lack of motivation. Deciphering the fear that lurks at the back of your mind is what really counts.

According to one of the most popular therapeutic approaches, called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), we all have certain basic assumptions about ourselves, either positive or negative, known as core beliefs. Core beliefs are a part of the subconscious and start to form at a very young age, as soon as you are able to perceive yourself and the world. As you grow, your experiences and interactions with others, and how you internalize them all contribute to building and solidifying core beliefs. According to CBT, our thoughts, emotions and actions are the effect of these self-perceptions. Nonetheless, since they are buried deep in the subconscious mind, often we don’t realize what our core beliefs are unless we work toward understanding them.

Even when we know that fear of failure causes procrastination, that’s too broad of a concept. Apprehension may be brought about by a variety of core beliefs and so, in order to clean up the sticky mess that is procrastination, we need to look into some research-based triggers, behind that fear.

We Seek What We Believe

According to self-verification theory we behave in a way and connect to people who verify our own beliefs about ourselves. If those self-perceptions are positive, then we engage in productive behaviors and seek people who evaluate us positively. If, however, one’s self-beliefs are negative, then this becomes a steppingstone to procrastination. In short, we self-sabotage rather than engaging in productive work. That is why procrastinators tend to occupy themselves with meaningless tasks. Have you noticed how some people remember to clean out the fridge, binge-read all of their bookmarked articles and go on endless YouTube loops, just when they’ve got some less appealing chore to do? According to professor Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., who has been studying procrastination for years, this self-handicap is the direct result of fear. Procrastinators swap out important tasks for futile activities because when you don’t engage in that something scary, there is no chance to fail at it. Thus, self-handicapping is a way to verify our own negative self-perceptions—we deprive ourselves of opportunities because of a deeply rooted belief that it is impossible to succeed.

Are You Good Enough?

How you perceive your own competence and ability to deal with a task on your own is also a contributing factor to fear of failure. Self-determination theory, which deals with people’s motivation, explains the importance of intrinsic incentives. When a person is keen to engage with a task because of internal stimuli, such as beliefs and needs, they become intensely invested. In contrast, motivation that comes from external sources is short-lived and inefficient. Feeling competent and autonomous builds intrinsic motivation and people are, therefore, less likely to procrastinate. On the other hand, when you doubt your own abilities and fear that you can’t handle the task on your own, you are more likely to put it off.

What Will Others Think?

Doubts about one’s self-worth may lead to an intensified need for the approval of others. If your core beliefs include a suspicion that you are not good enough and that you should continuously prove yourself to others, in order to feel deserving, this may contribute to fear of failure and therefore, procrastination. Fearing shame can lead to putting off a task, or even avoiding efforts to improve your skills. Often, the subconscious belief here is that the longer you dodge a task, the longer you’ll protect yourself from negative evaluations by others, as well as shame. On the other hand, procrastinators who fear shame, often strive for perfection, so that others view them as worthy and competent. In that way, if they feel they can achieve anything short of perfection, they put off a task for as long as possible.

What Can You Do About It?

As you can see, procrastination is not a simple behavioral problem. In fact, it can be viewed as a symptom of deeply rooted fear and self-doubt. Using CBT techniques on your own, or working with a therapist, can help you reveal your negative core beliefs and therefore understand what it is that you fear. Furthermore, you can benefit from the principles of self-regulation theory. Monitor your thoughts, emotions and behavior, see how they impact your tendency to procrastinate and experiment with different behavioral strategies to see what works best for your personal case.

Liya Panayotova is a clinical and counseling psychologist, 
with interests in the cognitive-behavioral sciences. 
Her experience includes working with anxiety, depression, difficult relationships, 
addiction, motivation, children, grief and many more.

 

By Liya Panayotova   March 24, 2017  
 


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Overcoming Codependency: Breaking the Cycle of Unhealthy Relationships

“A codependent person
is one who has let another person’s behavior
affect him or her
and who is obsessed with
controlling that person’s behavior.”
~Melody Beattie

From a young age, I felt insecure in my own skin. I was a highly sensitive child and, subsequently, struggled with low self-worth for most of my life.

Although I had many friends and a good family, I consistently looked for approval outside of myself. I grew up believing that the opinions of others were the only accurate representations of my core worth.

As a teenager, I witnessed the crumbling and eventual demise of my parents’ marriage. During these years, I felt a lot like an island.

I was often plagued with a dark, mysterious unhappiness. The standard teenage growing pains conglomerated with the trauma of losing my familial identity. In a desperate attempt to counter these negative feelings, I sought the approval of others; when it was not provided, I felt like a failure.

I was caught up in vicious cycle of seeking outside confirmation that I was good enough.

At school, I adopted the role of boy-crazy-funny-girl. I wanted to be adored and nurtured and cherished.

I kept a list of all the cute boys at my school and spent hours daydreaming about a blissful, fairy tale love.

I consistently focused on seeking happiness outside of myself. This habitual practice, over time, led to an inability to be content unless something or someone was providing validation. Most of the time, I felt like I was not good enough.

This falsely instilled belief led me into a decade-long struggle with codependency.

The first codependent relationship I was involved in began when I was nineteen. He was ten years older than I was, and, unbeknownst to me at the time, a cocaine addict.

Our routine was unhealthy and unproductive. We would spend our weekends drinking and gambling at a local pool hall. More often than not, I spent my entire weekly paycheck by the end of Saturday night.

He belittled me, called me names, and consistently criticized my appearance and weight. He compared me to his previous girlfriends. I began to see myself as an incomplete person, one who was in need of major repairs and upgrades. I was so emotionally fragile that the wind could’ve knocked me over.

In a frantic effort to self-preserve, I adopted several fear-based behaviors. I became obsessed with him. I was controlling and jealous. I needed to know everything about his past. I wanted desperately for him to accept me.

Over the ten months we spent together, I neglected my body and mind. My weight dropped a staggering thirty pounds. I was completely disconnected from my family and friends. I developed severe anxiety and suffered crippling panic attacks. I knew something had to change, so I gathered the courage and left him behind.

I thought that I was rid of this unhealthy and unsatisfying lifestyle, but the bad habits carried into my next two relationships.

I spent four years with a person that I loved very much; however, his alcohol dependency brought all of my insecurities and controlling behavior back into play.

We spent four years flip-flopping between wonderful loving moments and horrific physical fights that left us both numb and depressed.

When this relationship ended, I sought comfort in yet another unavailable partner, one that could not provide me with the stability that I so badly needed.

Such is the nature of the codependent person. We seek out what is familiar to us, but not necessarily what is good for us.

After logging close to a decade-worth of codependent hours, I finally faced myself. I knew that if I didn’t make significant changes, I would be forever trapped in a life that was unconducive to my spiritual and emotional growth.

In a scene eerily similar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love bathroom breakdown, I faced the music. I got myself a small apartment and started my recovery.

The first few days spent alone were absolutely torturous. I cried and cried. I had trouble doing basic tasks, like walking my dog or getting groceries. I had completely turned inward, nurturing my turmoil like an old friend. Anxiety-ridden and lonely, I did the only thing I could think of: I asked for help.

The first step I took was ordering Melody Beattie’s book Codependent No More. This is probably the most significant self-improvement book I have ever read. I felt a weight being lifted as I read, page by page.

Finally, I was able to understand all of the behaviors, feelings, and emotions I had struggled with for so long. I was a textbook case, my highlighter affirmed as I completed the “codependency checklist.” Perhaps some of these questions will speak to you, as well.

  • Do you feel responsible for other people—their feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and destiny?
  • Do you feel compelled to help people solve their problems or by trying to take care of their feelings?
  • Do you find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others than about injustices done to you?
  • Do you feel safest and most comfortable when you are giving to others?
  • Do you feel insecure and guilty when someone gives to you?
  • Do you feel empty, bored, and worthless if you don’t have someone else to take care of, a problem to solve, or a crisis to deal with?
  • Are you often unable to stop talking, thinking, and worrying about other people and their problems?
  • Do you lose interest in your own life when you are in love?
  • Do you stay in relationships that don’t work and tolerate abuse in order to keep people loving you?
  • Do you leave bad relationships only to form new ones that don’t work, either?

(You can read more about the habits and patterns of codependent people here.)

After acknowledging my codependency, I connected with an online support group for family members of addicts/alcoholics. This gave me a platform to share my story, without judgment, and little by little, I healed my aching heart.

The most significant things I learned on this journey are:

1. Without change, nothing changes.

This is such a simple yet profound truth. It’s reminiscent of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The cycle of codependency can only be overcome by establishing and nurturing a super-loving relationship with yourself. Otherwise, you will continually find yourself in unhealthy, codependent relationships.

2. We can’t control others, and it is not our job to do so.

Over the years, I was constantly trying to control and micromanage other people’s behavior, in an effort to escape my own negative feelings.

I chose partners with alcohol and drug dependencies. Often, I chose angry and avoidant men. By focusing on what was wrong with them, I could ignore what was empty and unfulfilled in me.

I thought, naively, that this would give me a feeling of stability. In fact, it did the opposite. Surrendering the need to control other people provides us the necessary space to connect with ourselves.

3. Love and obsessions are not the same.

I falsely believed for many years that love and obsession were one and the same. I gave so much of myself to my partners, naively thinking that this was the road to happiness.

I’ve learned that real love requires both partners to have unique, individual identities outside of the romantic relationship. Time alone, time with friends, and time to work on personal projects allows you to really connect when you are together, without feeling suffocated. We build trust when we afford ourselves, and our partners, some breathing room.

For many years I neglected my own needs. I now prioritize personal time to do individual activities: reading, writing, walking, reflecting. I started to heal once I learned to incorporate self-love rituals into my life. One of my favorite things to do is spend the evening in a warm bubble bath, light some candles and listen to Alan Watts lectures.

4. Life is not an emergency.

This is a biggie! I consistently lived in a high-stress vortex—terrified of people, abandonment, and life itself.

I worried so much about all of the things that were outside of my control—often, other people. I realize now that life is meant to be enjoyed and savored. Good and bad things will happen, but with a centered and balanced heart, we can get over any obstacles.

The key to balance, for me, is to live fully in every moment, accepting life for what it is. Even when I’m feeling down, I know that the Universe has my back and everything in life is unfolding as it should.

If you don’t hold this belief, it might help to remember that you have your own back, and you can handle whatever is coming. When you trust in yourself, and focus on yourself instead of others, it’s much easier to enjoy life and stop living in fear.

By Ariane Michaud
 


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Optimistic people are 23% less likely to die of cancer and 30% less likely to die from heart diseases.
  • Porphyrophobia is the fear of the color purple.
  • When people feel physically cold, they seek out psychological warmth, like watching a romantic movie that will make them feel warm inside.
Optimistic people are 23% less likely to die of cancer
and 30% less likely to die from heart diseases.
  • Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per day.
  • Eating mangos one hour before smoking marijuana can heighten the effects.
  • 85% of people have experienced a dream so real that they were not sure if it happened in real life or not.
Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact