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Daily Archives: December 12, 2016

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This Self-Care Twitter Bot Is Here to Try to Make Your Online Life Healthier

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While social media can be a great way to connect, online harassment and trolls can sour Internet life; however, a new Twitter bot is trying to make self-care important part of your life online.

The bot, which you can find on Twitter @tinycarebot, offers gentle reminders to its followers to improve their health and well-being. Some examples of their encouraging messages are “breathe deeply please” and “please remember to look up from your screen.”

The bot was created by Twitter user @jonnysun, who explained in a tweet that he made the bot easy and tangible self-care reminders because he was “obsessively on twitter lately.”

Since the account was created four days ago, it’s garnered close to 25k followers. See some of the best self-care tips it’s recommended below.

 

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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Have Scientists Discovered a Possible Way to Stop Zika Virus in Its Tracks?

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FRIDAY, June 17, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Scientists say they’ve identified a potential way to prevent Zika and similar viruses from spreading in the body.

They pinpointed a gene pathway that is vital for Zika and related viruses to spread infection between cells. The researchers found that shutting down a single gene in this pathway prevents these viruses from leaving an infected cell.

“We wanted to find out if we could identify genes present in the host cells that are absolutely required by the virus for infection,” said study senior author Dr. Michael Diamond, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The discovery suggests a potential target for new drugs to fight Zika and other flaviviruses such as dengue and West Nile, according to the researchers.

“Out of about 19,000 genes that we looked at, we only found nine key genes that the virus relies on for infection or to spread,” Diamond said in a university news release.

“All of [the nine] are associated with an important part of the cell that processes viral particles, which is essential to spreading the infection,” he said.

Of those nine genes, disabling one called SPCS1 reduced viral infection but appeared to have no harmful effects on human cells, he added.

“Flaviviruses appear to be uniquely dependent on this particular gene to release the viral particle,” Diamond said.

“In these viruses, this gene sets off a domino effect that is required to assemble and release the viral particle,” he said. “Without it, the chain reaction doesn’t happen and the virus can’t spread. So we are interested in this gene as a potential drug target because it disrupts the virus and does not disrupt the host.”

The research was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The study was published June 17 in the journal Nature.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Zika virus.

This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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Men Exposed to Zika Virus Should Use Condoms for Next 6 Months, Says CDC

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Men who know they’ve probably been infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus should not have sex without a condom for six months, according to new federal health guidelines released Friday.

Numerous cases of sexually transmitted Zika infection—which is thought to cause severe birth defects in some cases—have been confirmed in the United States, said officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Mounting evidence supports a link between Zika and microcephaly, and possibly other problems such as miscarriage,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, co-lead of the Pregnancy and Birth Defects Team of the CDC’s Zika Virus Response Team, said during an afternoon news conference.

“The rate of these conditions is not known yet,” she said. “We know there is a risk, but it is important to remember that even in places with active Zika transmission women are delivering apparently healthy infants.”

The goal of the latest CDC guidelines is to give doctors the best advice possible to share with their patients about pregnancy planning and sex, Jamieson added. However, they are are based on the best evidence to date, and not on a definitive understanding of Zika, she noted.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that’s been tied to thousands of cases—mainly in Brazil—of a severe birth defect called microcephaly. In microcephaly, a newborn’s head is smaller than normal, with the potential for long-term neurological damage.

While the bulk of Zika cases leading to microcephaly may occur via maternal infection during pregnancy, cases of sexual transmission from a man to his female partner have come to light, the CDC said.

A team led by CDC investigator Alexandra Oster notes that, as of March 18, there are now “six confirmed cases of sexual transmission in the United States associated with this outbreak.”

Just how long might the Zika virus linger in semen? According to the report, semen collected from one man still showed signs of the virus 62 days after he began to exhibit fever linked to Zika infection.

Zika infection is usually a transient, mild illness in adults, and many cases may occur without symptoms, experts say. However, because of the risk to babies, the CDC is advising that men with known or suspected infection with Zika refrain from sex—or only have sex with a condom—for six months after a diagnosis.

The agency also advises that, for couples involving a man who has traveled to or resides in an area endemic for Zika:

• the couple refrain from sex, or use condoms during sex, throughout the duration of a pregnancy.

• they refrain from sex, or use condoms during sex, for eight weeks if the man has returned from travel to a Zika-endemic area but has not shown signs of infection.

• for couples living in a Zika-endemic area, they refrain from sex or engage in sex only with a condom for as long as active Zika transmission persists in that area.

The latest guidelines also recommend that women who know they’ve been infected, have no symptoms but have recently been to a Zika-endemic area, or think they might have been exposed via sex, should wait at least eight weeks before trying to get pregnant.

The CDC has also advised that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If a pregnant woman must travel to or live in one of these areas, she should talk to her health-care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

On Friday, CDC officials also said that 273 U.S. residents in 35 states have now tested positive for infection with the Zika virus.

“All are travel-related or sexually transmitted cases,” Jamieson said. “In addition, there have been 261 cases reported from Puerto Rico, 14 cases from American Samoa and 11 cases from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of these, 99 percent are presumed to be locally transmitted by mosquitoes in the territories.”

In the majority of Zika infections, symptoms included rash (97 percent of cases), fever and joint pain.

“Zika virus disease should be considered in patients with acute onset of fever, rash, arthralgia [joint pain], or conjunctivitis [pink eye] who traveled to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission or who had unprotected sex with someone who traveled to one of those areas and developed compatible symptoms within two weeks of returning,” the CDC said.

And earlier this month, scientists reported more evidence supporting a link between the Zika virus and microcephaly.

Researchers now believe that one in every 100 pregnant women infected with the virus during the first trimester will give birth to a baby with the birth defect.

The Zika virus is suspected of causing an epidemic that started last spring in Brazil, where there have been more than 5,600 suspected or confirmed cases of microcephaly.

Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can occasionally lead to a fatal form of paralysis.

Speaking earlier this month, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said that “we are learning more about Zika every day. The link with microcephaly and other possibly serious birth defects is growing stronger every day. The link to Guillain-Barre syndrome is likely to be proven in the near future, and the documentation that sexual transmission is possible is now proven.”

First discovered in Uganda in 1947, the Zika virus wasn’t thought to pose major health risks until last year, when it became clear that it posed potentially devastating threats to pregnant women.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It is not expected to pose a significant threat to the U.S. mainland, federal health officials have said in the past.

In Puerto Rico, however, the situation is “of great concern,” Frieden said.

“Puerto Rico is on the frontline of the battle against Zika,” said Frieden, who had just returned from the island. “And it’s an uphill battle.”

By next year, Frieden said, there could be hundreds of thousands of cases of Zika in the territory, and “thousands of infected pregnant women.”

In a separate report released Friday, the CDC stressed that effective contraception needs to be made much more readily available to Puerto Ricans. In a statement, the agency noted that, “approximately two-thirds of pregnancies in Puerto Rico are unintended, indicating a potentially unmet need for access to birth control.”

The agency said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will boost its efforts at family planning education in Puerto Rico, so that women can help prevent unintended pregnancies — especially those jeopardized by Zika infection.

The Zika virus has now spread to over 38 countries and territories, most in Latin America and the Caribbean. The World Health Organization estimates there could be up to 4 million cases of Zika in the Americas in the next year.

More information

For more on Zika virus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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23 Must-Try Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas

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Your mornings are short on time and stressful enough! Make breakfast a cinch by taking some time over the weekend for these meal prep ideas. A healthy, delicious, and filling breakfast will be ready in minutes.

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45 Photos Proving the Elf on the Shelf Isn’t Afraid to Sweat a Little

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While many Elves on the Shelf are mischievous with an excessive sweet tooth, pounding Froot Loops, chocolate bars, and marshmallows while washing it down with containers of maple syrup, some Elves are trying to look and feel their best by showing their healthy side. Check out these fit-minded Elves — they just might inspire the kiddos to leave Santa kale smoothies instead of cookies this Christmas.

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Transform Your Abs With This 2-Week Crunch Challenge

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Show your abs some love and take our crunch challenge! Perfect for those new to strength training, the plan is short and sweet — it takes just a few minutes each day for the next two weeks. At the end, you’re sure to notice stronger, more defined abs. Instead of doing basic crunches, this challenge involves five crunch variations to target different areas of your midsection.

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Here’s the 14-day plan followed by instructions for the five different variations. It’s not advised to skip right to day 14 (if you want to be able to laugh the next day without rolling over in pain), so follow the plan and adjust it as needed according to your schedule and ability level. To make things easier, we’ve created a printable version to help keep you on track.

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These 14 Fit Women Kept Us Inspired All Year Long

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We have a confession to make: we have more than one fit crush from 2016. We can’t pick just one! And we’re sure you’re feeling similarly . . . there were so many moments of inspiration from these healthy and active celebrities in 2016, and we’re grateful for the motivation they provided throughout the year. Come on, who else watched Teyana Talor in the “Fade” music video and ran to the gym? (*Guilty*) We’re even more revved up for a healthy new year, thanks to some awesome fitspiration from these 14 women. Here’s our list for our top fit crushes of 2016.

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Do These 6 Things on Sunday to Lose Weight All Week Long

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You know you should be eating right and exercising all week to reach your weight-loss goals, but when you’re so rushed between work and family responsibilities, it’s tough to have time to make it happen. A little planning goes a long way, so here are some things you can do on Sunday to ensure you stay on a healthy path all week long.

Plan Your Workouts

Don’t just think to yourself that you’ll squeeze in a run here and a trip to the gym there — plan it out. Sit down with your weekly calendar and jot down every workout just as you would doctor’s appointments and meetings. Use this time to call your fitness buddy or trainer to make dates, check out studio schedules to find classes you want to take, and check the week’s weather to figure out which days will be best for outdoor workouts.

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Hit the Hamper

Nothing puts a damper on a workout more than not being able to find a clean sports bra, so do a couple loads before Monday, making sure you have everything you need, from your running tights to yoga tops to the towel you use to wipe sweat from your brow. Lay out your outfits for each day’s workout so you’re not running around the house Tuesday morning trying to find your missing sock.

Gather Your Gear

Collect whatever you need to work out — a yoga mat, sneakers, or earbuds — and make sure everything is set so you can easily grab the items throughout the week. Pack your gym bag, and put it by the door or in your car so you won’t forget it when you leave for the day. If you exercise at home, put your favorite fitness video in the DVD player and lay out your dumbbells and resistance band. Sunday is also a great time to make a couple new playlists to inspire your kick-ass workouts (if you don’t have time, subscribe to our workout playlists on Spotify).

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jenny Sugar
Plan Your Meals and Snacks

Sit down and write out a weekly eating plan including all meals and snacks for the week. If you need a little inspiration, check out these healthy recipes. After making out a grocery list to include everything you’ll need to whip them up, hit the health food store and stock up for the week. Since produce is best enjoyed within a few days of purchasing, note what fruits and veggies you’ll want to pick up halfway through the week.

Make things even easier by prepping in advance: wash, cut, and store veggies to be used in dinner recipes, cut up fruit for smoothies or snacks, and cook up some whole grains and store them in the fridge. Cook some of these make-ahead breakfasts in advance, like a week of overnight oats, or turn on the crockpot to make something you can eat a few nights that week, like these under-400-calorie meals.

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Pack It Up

If you’ll be away from home during the day, cut down on the temptation to go out to lunch or grab a cookie by packing lunches and snacks from home. Making five salads for the week is easy and healthy, or you can whip up a big pot of soup and freeze small portions in glass containers to grab for lunch. Also set aside 10 snacks for the week (two per day), such as Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and containers of carrots and hummus, or measure out 100-calorie portions of trail mix, whole-grain crackers, or cereal. It’ll probably take about an hour to get it all ready, but it’ll end up saving you time during the rest of the week.

Hit the Hay

Once everything is all set, take a nice hot bath, slip on your PJs, and hop into bed early. Unwind with an evening yoga sequence or a calming book, and you’re more likely to have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed for the week ahead.

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Forget the 80/20 Rule! This Trainer Says to Follow the 90/10 Rule to Lose Weight

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If this is the year you’ve committed to finally losing weight and getting in shape, we asked trainer Autumn Calabrese, creator of the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme fitness and nutrition programs, to share what she thinks is the number one way to finally reach your weight-loss goals.

“The number one thing people need to do to lose weight in 2017 is be consistent. You need to be consistent with your workouts, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise four to five days a week,” she said. An easy way to get in the habit is to choose four or five specific days of the week, as well as one specific time, such as Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6 a.m. Think of these as important appointments you’ve made with yourself that you cannot skip out on. The first two to three weeks will be the hardest, but once you’re used to working out on the same days and times each week, it’ll feel weird not to.

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Autumn also said, “You also need to be consistent with your healthy eating. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time but you do have to be on top of it. I like the 90/10 rule. I know a lot of people say 80/20, but if you’re really trying to lose weight then 90 percent of the time you need to be eating healthy, clean food in the proper portions.” Autumn says it’s OK to splurge on one cheat meal once a week, but make sure it’s a cheat meal, not an entire cheat day. “If you do these two things, work out and eat right consistently, you will lose weight and keep it off.” Autumn reminds us that “being healthy is a journey, not a destination.”

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14 Dance Workouts That Are So Fun, You'll Forget It's Exercise

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Let’s DANCE! These workouts make exercising more fun, less painful. You’ll be sweating away to your very own dance party, whether you choose a 30-minute jam sesh or a three-minute quickie. And we’re not talking about low-intensity workouts, guys — this is heart-pounding, calorie-torching cardio!

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