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Monthly Archives: May 2016

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Do You Need to Anti-Age Your Attitude?

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Are you extra world-weary? It may be time to get reacquainted with your inner child—for the sake of your health. Adults who reported feeling older than they were had a 10 to 25 percent greater chance of being hospitalized over the next 2 to 10 years, according to new research. “One of the main reasons we feel old is stress,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, New York Times best-selling author of Miracles Now ($16, amazon.com). Try her tips to turn back your mental clock and anti-age your attitude.

RELATED: The Best Advice from the Happiest People on the Planet

1. Be mindful

“A daily meditation practice will lower your cortisol levels, increase your energy, and enhance your memory,” explains Bernstein.

2. Channel your childhood

“Do some kind of physical activity that brings you back to your youth,” suggests Bernstein. Think trampolining or even simply dancing to old high school hits in your room.

RELATED: How to Eat Your Way to Health and Happiness 

3. Get grateful

“The best way to feel younger is to focus on gratitude,” says Bernstein. One way to do it: Make a nightly list of things you’re thankful for.

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The Genetic Reason You're Drawn to Certain Guys

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How many times have you gone on a blind date with a guy who seemed perfect on paper (i.e., according to his profile, or your matchmaking friend’s review)—but in person, your chemistry could only be described as … crickets? 

It could be your (or his) DNA, suggests a new study published in the journal Human Nature. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, have discovered a connection between several genetic traits and attraction. 

For their study, they recruited 262 young, single Asian Americans to take part in a speed-dating scenario. After each three-minute “date,” the researchers asked the participants how desirable they found the other person to be, and whether they were interested in a second date. The researchers also examined the daters’ DNA.

RELATED: 20 Weird Facts About Sex and Love

What they found? Men with a gene variant linked to leadership and social dominance were considered more attractive; while women who had a gene variant linked to sensitivity were seen as more desirable.

In other words, “speed-daters were more attracted to men and women who had gene variants that were consistent with prevailing gender stereotypes,” explains lead author Karen Wu. (Though Wu and her team note that their experiment should be replicated to see if the results are consistent across cultures and ages.)

This isn’t the first time DNA and romance have been linked: A 2014 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that carriers of a certain genotype were more likely to stay single. So do findings like these mean we all have some sort of superhero gene-detecting ability?

Not quite, says Wu: “Speed-daters were most likely detecting the underlying genes through their partners’ behaviors during the date."

​RELATED: 19 Ways Your Body Changes When You Fall in Love

But let’s be clear: No one is suggesting that you act delicate to land a second date. Or that men go all macho to impress a lady. Of course, “there are many other factors that also contribute to dating success,” Wu points out. Like, if you and your date have anything in common. Or you’re physically attracted to each other. Or you want the same things, or share the same values. You get the idea.

Besides, Wu adds, “We found the [DNA] effect to be fairly small.”

The golden rule of dating—proven outside the lab time and time again—still holds true: Above all, it’s best to be your awesome self.

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How to Fall Asleep Fast, According to 6 Health Editors

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Sleep experts have tons of tricks to getting a better night's rest: go easy on the caffeine and alcohol, take a warm bath before bed, keep the thermostat set low, ban TV and mobile phones from the bedroom, and so on. But for Health's editors, the bedtime behaviors that help us fall sleep fast aren't exactly scientifically proven—and in some cases, they'd make the experts cringe. But they work for us, and research shows we're better off for it: the health benefits of sleep include sharper memory, lower stress, and lower risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Read on for our tried-and-true before-bed routines. 

Sip warm milk

"When I'm having trouble falling asleep, I go into the dark kitchen, heat up some milk and sip it in bed. The funny thing is we have published stories reporting that there is no good science to back up this folk remedy, so maybe it's just placebo effect, but it always works for me." —Lisa Lombardi, executive editor

Follow a specific routine

"I rarely have trouble falling asleep. I think it's because I follow a pretty specific routine every evening to get relaxed and ready for bed. In the hours before bedtime, I often watch a little TV, but only comedies—I've found that high-stakes dramas and gory scenes from Game of Thrones stress me out and keep me up later than I'd like. When it's time to head to bed, I wash my face and brush my teeth, and follow that up with my night cream, which is my one big beauty indulgence: Estée Lauder Resilience Lift Night ($86; nordstrom.com). The sweet floral scent helps tell my body it's bedtime. After I get into bed, I read a book until I can no longer keep my eyes open, and then roll onto my left side to fall asleep. Yes, it HAS to be my left side—not sure why!" —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor

Sniff some lavender

“Lavender is my go-to scent when I want to relax and fall asleep fast. I am obsessed with my DW Relaxing Lavender Candle ($28; amazon.com)—so much so that I’ve burned through the 13-ounce jar…twice. I’ll usually have the candle burning while I’m getting my clothes and bag ready for the next day and then I will blow it out right before I get into bed (safety first!). The lingering scent helps me drift right off to sleep.” —Lindsey Murray, assistant editor

Stretch it out

"I used to be a terrible sleeper, but I've really worked on it over the last few years since I've learned how crucial good sleep is to overall health. I stretch for around 15 minutes (also working on my flexibility, another area that needs improvement!), and drink a magnesium supplement that helps relax me (Natural Calm, $25 for 16 oz.; amazon.com). After getting ready for bed, I put coconut oil on my face, then get into bed, set my Beddit sleep tracker ($80; amazon.com), and read a book until I feel my eyes drooping. Then I smooch my husband and drift off." —Beth Lipton, food director

Jot notes in a journal

"I have a 5 Year Diary ($12; amazon.com) that I write in every night before I go to bed. Every page in the book has five paragraph entries, so you can see what you were doing on that specific date five years in a row. There's only enough space to write 3-5 sentences about your day, so it's not as daunting as a traditional journal page might be. I started mine when I first moved to New York City three years ago, and I love looking back and seeing what I've done, who I've been with, and how drastically my life has changed. As you write and gather more entries, it's a great way to gain perspective on your own life while also benefitting from the daily therapeutic benefits of journaling." —MaryAnn Barone, social media editor 

Slip into a food coma 

"Experts may not approve of my approach to falling asleep, but it works for me. I eat small meals throughout the day, and I really look forward to a robust dinner around 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. As soon as my tummy is full, I start getting sleepy. After I brush my teeth, I watch some TV on the couch. I find it really comforting to doze with the TV on if my boyfriend is still awake and actively watching it. If he’s not watching it with me, then I’ll turn the TV off and head to bed. I turn onto my stomach and usually fall asleep within 10 minutes or so." —Janet Lawrence, senior video editor

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How to Tell If Your Obsession With Healthy Eating Has Gone Too Far

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Q: How do I know if my obsession with healthy eating is normal?

Trying to be a generally healthy eater is, well, healthy. But the fact that you used the word obsession is a tip-off that you’ve possibly crossed the line between having a positive interest in nutrition and suffering from an obsessional behavior. There is a fine distinction between what’s normal and what’s not, but if your need to follow specific restrictive food rules interferes with your ability to socialize normally or affects your work or family life, then it’s no longer good for you and is considered to be orthorexia.

What is orthorexia? It’s a type of disordered eating in which the goal is not to achieve a certain physical appearance but to discipline yourself enough to eat only the types of foods that you’ve deemed healthy. Weight loss might happen, but it’s not the point. Symptoms include sticking to a rigid food regimen without having a medical reason to do so—maybe you follow a strict zero-sugar or raw-food diet—as well as avoiding major food groups and imposing numerous limitations on yourself about where and with whom you can eat. (You might, say, get overwhelmed by a last-minute invite to meet friends for appetizers because it will force you to eat food you didn’t cook yourself.)

RELATED: 20 Signs You're Too Obsessed With Your Weight

Not sure if this is you? One good test is seeing whether you can break your eating rules. If you’re able to, from time to time, enjoy a food or drink that you typically consider an indulgence and then move on, I wouldn’t call your behavior an obsession so much as a lifestyle preference, and that’s perfectly fine. On the other hand, if you become wracked with stress, guilt and self-criticism at the thought of having some sort of food slipup, it’s a major red flag.

Orthorexia isn’t something to shrug off. While those with orthorexia may think they have a grasp of what nutritious eating means, they often don’t eat a diet that’s varied enough to provide the right nutrients, which can cause them to become malnourished and vitamin-deficient. As with other disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia), people even starve to death in the most extreme cases. They may also end up alienating friends and family because they’re constantly planning their lives around food.

RELATED: Subtle Signs of Eating Disorders

That’s why, if you’re at all concerned, I urge you to practice straying from your rules and not beating yourself up afterward. If you find it difficult, seek out a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders to help you get to the root of your behavior. (Many patients I’ve treated for orthorexia are actually dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder.) Having an open, honest conversation with an expert can help you develop a different understanding of what constitutes “healthy.”

Gail Saltz, MD, is a psychiatrist and television commentator in New York City who specializes in health, sex, and relationships.

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White Gazpacho

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White Gazpacho   Recipe
White Gazpacho
White gazpacho is made with bread, almonds, grapes and garlic and is one of the traditional Spanish gazpacho variations. In this white gazpacho soup recipe we add cucumbers and honeydew, whir it in a blender and it becomes silky, a little toasty (from the almonds) and refreshing.


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If You're Taking an Antidepressant for a Reason Besides Depression, You Should Read This

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One in 10 Americans is taking an antidepressant, according to the latest stats from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a new study suggests that depression may not be the only reason: Doctors are increasingly doling out prescriptions for antidepressants to treat other conditions—from sexual dysfunction to eating disorders—according to the research published in the journal JAMA.

The study analyzed more than 100,000 prescriptions for antidepressants written by 158 doctors in Quebec over the last decade. Of those scripts, 44.8% were written to treat a disorder that was not depression. And 29.4% of the drugs were given for an off-label indication. (For the purposes of this study, that meant the drug had not been approved by the FDA or Health Canada to treat the condition in question.)

RELATED: The Most Depressing Time of Year? Suicide Rates Spike in Spring

The researchers found that many of the off-label scripts were for insomnia (10.2%) and pain (6.1%). But doctors were also prescribing antidepressants for migraines, ADHD, digestive system disorders, and symptoms of menopause. 

“The problem isn’t with off-label [use] in general," says study co-author Jenna Wong, a PhD candidate at McGill University in Montreal. "For some antidepressants there is good documented research to show they can treat certain conditions. But there’s a problem when medications are used off label with no scientific evidence at all.” 

She points out that when your MD prescribes a drug, you assume it has been approved as a treatment—in other words, that it's been through a regulatory process designed to help keep you safe. But clearly that's not always the case.

An off-label treatment might not be inherently bad, but it does open you up to side effects—and it may not even help you feel better, says Wong. 

“For so many of these conditions, there aren’t really great medications known to be effective," says Wu. "If a patient asks their doctor for something to relieve their symptoms, and are given an antidepressant, they should be aware that it may be off label.” 

​RELATED: Fish Oil Plus Antidepressants May Be One-Two Punch for Depression

The takeaway? It’s important to be involved in your care—even when you’re understandably eager to find a cure for what ails you. That doesn’t mean you need to dig into the scientific literature yourself. But ask your doctor questions—like why an antidepressant might be appropriate, what the research says about it. It’s up to doctors to scrutinize that kind of information, says Wong. Then, discuss the pros and cons of the drug with your provider. The technical term is "shared decision making," and the idea is that together, you and your doc can come up with a plan that’s right for you.

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How to Get Rid of a Muscle Knot

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Q: What is a muscle knot, and can massages get rid of them?

It's not entirely clear what causes muscle knots—but your muscles don't literally get twisted and tied. Experts think that these muscle adhesions (also called myofascial trigger points) likely result from repeated tension and overuse in a specific area. Hot spots for tightness are the neck, shoulders, and back. Clenching your muscles out of stress or anxiety can create knots, or they can develop due to an injury, poor posture, or even long periods of inactivity.

RELATED: The Best Post-Workout Stretches

Massage is in fact one of the best ways to release the tension. If a pro massage isn't an option, you can DIY it: Put firm pressure on the area, either by lying on a tennis or lacrosse ball or foam roller; hold for about a minute while taking deep breaths. Heating or cooling the area may also help ease the contraction and reduce any associated pain. Taking an OTC pain reliever can also help. If the discomfort won't go away, check in with your doctor; she may recommend physical therapy. 

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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New York Legislature Passes Bill to Eliminate the ‘Tampon Tax’

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Early this year, the “tampon tax” made headlines when California legislator Cristina Garcia introduced an Assembly Bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. According to a press release from her office, California women coughed up $20 million annually in taxes for these products, despite them being, in Garcia’s words, a "basic necessity." Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo stated that New York State will no longer tax feminine hygiene products, a move that will take effect in the next sales-tax quarter.

Supporters of the bill maintain that tampons and other feminine hygiene products are necessities, and should be treated as other tax-free healthcare items.

Politico reports that the unanimous Senate vote only took “about one minute” on Monday before the bill headed to Governor Cuomo’s office. New York will join a handful of states that lifted the "luxury tax" on these items—a tax many (including President Barack Obama) have called sexist and unjust. Ten other states, including California, are considering similar legislation.

“Repealing this regressive and unfair tax on women is a matter of social and economic justice,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “I look forward to signing it into law."

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Surgery Should Be An Option for Diabetics: Experts

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New guidelines appearing in the journal Diabetes Care from a group of diabetes experts say that gastric bypass surgery, currently only considered as a way to treat obesity, should also be an option for people with type 2 diabetes, even if they don’t need to lose weight.

That conclusion is supported by the American Diabetes Association and 45 international medical societies, and represents a major shift in the way doctors think about the disease. While diabetes involves imbalances in hormones and metabolism, there’s enough evidence, the doctors say, that bariatric surgery, which involves shrinking the size of the stomach, can not only physically affect how much people eat but also how the body breaks down calories and metabolizes them as well.

RELATED: Gastric Bypass Surgery Highly Effective in Treating Type 2 Diabetes

The new guidelines suggest that for most people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, if they don’t respond to existing therapies to control their blood sugar levels, bariatric surgery be discussed as an option for them, even if their BMIs are 30-35; currently doctors only consider the operation for weight loss for people with BMI greater than 35 if they also have other health problems such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea.

What the recommendations don’t provide, however, is a precise formula for when people with diabetes who have BMIs that fall between 30 and 35 should turn to surgery. For now, Francisco Rubino, professor of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King’s College London and one the lead authors of the guidelines, says that “surgery would almost never be a front line intervention for the disease,” meaning that people would have to try current therapies, including insulin and sugar-controlling medications, first. They should also try to adjust their diet and lifestyle as well, and only if those don’t work, then consider surgery.

RELATED: Teens Keep Pounds Off After Weight-Loss Surgery, Study Shows

But having surgery as an option, says Rubino, could go a long way toward helping doctors to rule out treatments that don’t work sooner. Until now, they would simply continue to increase the dose of anti-diabetes drugs since they didn’t have much else to give their patients. But now, they wouldn’t have to keep these people on medications and could consider surgery instead. Doctors will need to monitor people with diabetes who decide to get the operation, and not everyone with diabetes may be a candidate for surgery, but Rubino is convinced that more people with diabetes will be able to control their disease with the new recommendation.

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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