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How to use (and not misuse) your fitness apps

With 45,000-plus fitness apps out there, we’re not here to share our favorite 11,781. What we do want to share are do’s and don’ts about them, courtesy of physical therapist James Lewis, clinical manager of Allen Sports SpineCare:

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Healthy Living: Staying hydrated


Leia Flure, registered and licensed dietitian joins us for Healthy Living. 

How much water do you really need per day? We’ve all heard the 8 glasses per day “rule” – is it true? General estimate, came about because 8×8 is easy to remember.


1. Everyone is different! How much fluid you need depends on a lot of things, including physical activity, if you’re sick, it’s hot out, etc.


2. It’s important to get enough fluids because dehydration can cause fatigue, constipation, headaches, and you may even eat more because many of us confuse hunger and thirst. So how can you tell if you need more fluid? Thirst not the best indicator because once you’re thirsty you’re already somewhat dehydrated.


3. For a generally healthy person, the best way to know is to look in the toilet bowl! Monitor your urine. Display glasses with different shades of yellow – where is the point where you should probably get some hydration? Urine should be clear to a pale yellow/straw color.

4. So how do you stay hydrated? It doesn’t have to mean chugging water constantly. Any food with moisture counts toward your fluid needs (SHOW GRAPHIC 1). Display: yogurt, fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, popsicles, etc. Beverages like soda, tea, coffee.



High-Moisture Foods

· Fruits and vegetables

· Yogurt

· Oatmeal

· Soup

· Frozen fruit bars

· Beverages (water, soda, tea, coffee, etc.)


5. As far as drinking actual water… (SHOW GRAPHIC 2) Some people find it helpful to carry a bottle of water and sip on it throughout the day. If you don’t like plain water, use a packet of low calorie drink mix, infuse water with fruit, cucumber slices, etc. (2-4 cups of produce per gallon)


Top Tips for Staying Hydrated

· Eat plenty of high-moisture foods

· Monitor your urine

· Carry a bottle of water and sip throughout the day

· Try packets of low-calorie drink mixes

· “Infuse” water with fruit, cucumber slices

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Simple tips to fight inflammation

The awareness of the intersection between inflammation and chronic disease has spawned a plethora of diet plans, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle programs, many implying they offer new ways to improve your health by quelling inflammation. While it is true that scientists are uncovering new complexities and expanding their knowledge of factors that may contribute to inflammation or help counter it, there’s nothing new about inflammation itself. Likewise, much of the heavily hyped guidance for an anti-inflammation lifestyle boils down to the same no-nonsense health advice your grandmother might have given you.

Make healthy food choices

Our diets play an important role in chronic inflammation because our digestive bacteria release chemicals that may spur or suppress inflammation. The types of bacteria that populate our gut and their chemical byproducts vary according to the foods we eat. Some foods encourage the growth of populations of bacteria that stimulate inflammation, while others promote the growth of bacteria that suppress it.

Fortunately, you are probably already enjoying many of the foods and beverages that have been linked to reductions in inflammation and chronic disease. They include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and brightly colored vegetables naturally contain high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols — potentially protective compounds found in plants.
  • Nuts and seeds. Studies have found that consuming nuts and seeds is associated with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Beverages. The polyphenols in coffee and the flavonols in cocoa are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is also rich in both polyphenols and antioxidants.

For additional advice about ways to reduce inflammation, read the Online Guide, Inflammation from Harvard Medical School.

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5 ways to protect your vision – Medical News Today

Your eyes play a significant role in your health. Many steps can be taken to ensure that your eyes are protected and remain as healthy as possible. We have selected the best vision-boosting tips to help you protect your eyes into your golden years.

Many steps can be taken to ensure that your eyes are protected from disease and damage.

Millions of individuals experience eye problems each year. Some eye issues result in permanent vision loss or blindness, while others can be corrected with contact lenses or glasses.

The National Eye Institute estimate that in the years between 2010 and 2050, the number of individuals affected by the commest eye diseases — including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma — “will double.”

Many of us are resigned to the fact that as we age, our eyesight will deteriorate. But could we improve our vision, protect our sight, and prevent many of the diseases that compromise the health of our eyes?

Medical News Today present five ways to protect your eyes from damage and disease and maintain healthy sight.

1. Go for regular eye exams

The best thing you can do to look after your sight is to go for regular eye tests.

Go for regular eye checks with a trained eye specialist who can detect early signs of problems.

Although your vision may appear to be healthy, there is no way to be 100 percent certain unless a trained professional observes your eyes.

Not only does an eye test determine whether or not you need glasses, but it can also spot eye conditions that can be treated effectively if detected early enough.

A type of eye exam known as a comprehensive dilated eye exam is recommended from the age of 60 upwards, or earlier if you are at an increased risk of certain eye diseases.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care specialist adds drops into each eye to widen, or dilate, the pupil. Once dilated, more light enters the eye, which enables the eye care professional to view the macula, retina, and optic nerve and identify any signs of damage and disease.

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2. Eat vision-healthy foods

It is possible to eat your way to healthy vision. You often hear that eating carrots benefits the eyes, but there are plenty of other foods that are important for good eyesight, too.

Eating grapes has been tied to a lower risk of AMD.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to promote eye health. Dark leafy greens, in particular — including collard greens, kale, and spinach — contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that help to prevent the formation of cataracts.

Evidence demonstrates that grapes may also support healthy eyes. In a laboratory model of retinal degeneration, scientists showed that a diet enriched with grapes protected the retina against the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Other research indicated that grapes provide higher levels of antioxidant protection for eyes than lutein alone and may slow or help to prevent AMD.

Studies have found that there are eye health benefits from consuming fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.

Omega-3 fatty acids may improve ocular surface inflammation and symptoms of ocular irritation that are associated with moderate to severe dry eye. They may also help vision cells to survive future disease or injury.

3. Keep your weight under control

Being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk of developing conditions such as diabetes or other systemic disorders, which may eventually lead to vision loss.

Maintain a healthy weight to avoid obesity-related eye conditions.

It is never too late to get your weight under control by eating a healthful diet and exercising regularly to prevent vision complications.

Research conducted by the University of Melbourne in Australia and Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom discovered that considerable weight loss could potentially reverse eye damage caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Another study recently presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held in New Orleans, LA, reported that individuals who are physically active have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma than more sedentary individuals. This finding highlights the importance of leading an active lifestyle.

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4. Wear sunglasses when outside

In addition to being a trendy fashion accessory, the most important role of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV-rays.

A report by the Vision Council in 2016 revealed that while three quarters of people in the U.S. were concerned about eye issues that may arise from UV rays, only 31 percent protect their eyes with sunglasses when they go outside.

When selecting sunglasses, never opt for style over safety. Look for shades that block 99–100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and always buy from a reputable source.

Whether you are heading to the beach, surfing some waves, hiking up a mountain, or cheering for your favorite soccer team, be sure to protect your eyes and wear the appropriate sunglasses.

5. Rest your eyes regularly

If you work all day at a computer screen, you may forget to blink often and end up with fatigued eyes by the end of the day. The National Eye Institute suggest implementing a 20-20-20 rule.

Get outside as much as possible to prevent short-sightedness.

For every 20 minutes that you spend staring at a screen, look at something else that is around 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.

Research indicates that half of the world will be short-sighted by 2050 if we continue with the current trend of spending so much time on near-based electronic devices.

The study, which was published in the journal Ophthalmology, suggests that spending more time outdoors and less time doing activities that require constant up-close focusing could be a strategy that may help to reduce the number of people who experience vision loss.

If you need to wear protective eyewear or glasses as part of your job, get into the habit of wearing the appropriate gear at all times to keep your eyes in tip-top shape and prevent damage or eye strain.

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7 weird health tips that are actually true

When you were a child, your mother probably warned you never to swallow chewing gum as it would get stuck in your gut. Another example is that if your got a seed or pip got in your ear, a tree would start growing inside your head.

We all know that these are just scary tales, but there are in fact a number of seemingly ridiculous health tips that are actually quite true.

The following seven health tips may seem weird, but can help you improve your health and in one instance even save your life:

1. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating

It’s better not to brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they contained a lot of acid. Examples are citrus fruits, tomatoes and fizzy drinks. The abrasive action of brushing can cause the acid to attack the tooth enamel and the layer underneath. It is best to wait at least half an hour before brushing. 

2. Build muscle to fit into a smaller size

A kilogram of muscle weighs the same as a kilo of fat, but muscle is more compact and takes up less space than fat. This explains why a muscular person who weighs the same as a chubbier one will likely fit into a smaller pair of jeans.

3. Eat more calories to lose weight

Carbohydrates on their own may do nothing but spike your blood sugar, leaving you even hungrier than before. Adding proteins and fats like peanut butter and cheese will increase the calorie count of your meal, but will help you get full more quickly and stay satisfied for longer, which will lead to ingesting fewer calories in the long run.

4. Drink a hot beverage to help you cool off

In India it is the norm to drink hot tea in hot weather. It sounds crazy, but according to a study, a hot drink will cool you off faster than a cold drink on a hot day. When you drink a hot beverage, your body produces more sweat which, when it evaporates, cools you off.

5. Exercise to increase your energy levels

After a long day at work, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do, but getting moving can actually energise you. Through exercise, we recharge tired cells by giving them more oxygen. Physical activity that builds muscle strength also improves the efficiency of the mitochondria that produce the energy in the cells.

6. ‘Freeze’ cardiac patients to save their life

Cooling a cardiac arrest patient’s core temperature to below 32.2 degrees Celsius – a process called “induced hypothermia”, either by injecting them with a cold saline solution or placing ice packs on them increases their chances of complete recovery.

Hypothermia – when your core body temperature drops so low that normal metabolism and bodily functions cease – can lead to death, but can also radically slow down the dying process.

7. Close the lid when you flush the toilet

You should always flush the toilet with the seat down. If you don’t, water particles from the toilet will float around your bathroom and finally land on surfaces like your toothbrush. 

Experts say flushing creates an invisible cloud, called “toilet plume”, that’s expelled into the air by the force of the flush.

The toilet plume may contain faecal bacteria and other microorganisms like viruses. 

Image credit: iStock

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Health system unveils renovation renderings

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Warning: Stifling sneezes can be health hazard in rare cases

Tempted to stifle a loud or untimely sneeze? Let it out instead, doctors in England warned Monday based on the very unusual case of a man who ruptured the back of his throat when he tried to suppress a sneeze.

In a case study published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors described their initial confusion when the previously healthy man turned up in the emergency room of a Leicester hospital, complaining of swallowing difficulties and “a popping sensation” in his swollen neck.

The 34-year-old patient told them his problems started after he tried to stop a forceful sneeze by pinching his nose and closing his mouth. He eventually lost his voice and spent a week in the hospital.

“When you sneeze, air comes out of you at about 150 miles per hour,” said Dr. Anthony Aymat, director for ear, nose and throat services at London’s University Hospital Lewisham, who was not involved in the case. “If you retain all that pressure, it could do a lot of damage and you could end up like the Michelin Man with air trapped in your body.”

While examining the sneeze-averse patient, doctors in Leicester heard “crackling in the neck” down to his ribcage, a sign that air bubbles had seeped into his chest. Worried about infection and other possible complications, they admitted him to the hospital, gave him a feeding tube and administered antibiotics, according to details published in BMJ Case Reports.

Dr. Zi Yang Jiang, a head and neck surgeon at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, said he sees one or two cases arising from repressed sneezes each year, making them an “exceedingly rare” occurrence.

Jiang said it was bizarre that a single sneeze could generate enough force to cause the kind of physical damage that usually results from trauma, such as a gunshot wound to the neck. A collapsed lung is among the problems that retaining the air from an imminent sneeze can cause, he said.

“The whole point of sneezing is to get something out of your body, like viruses and bacteria, so if you stop that, those may end up in the wrong part of the body,” he said. Jiang said in most cases, the excess air is later absorbed by the body.

The English patient made a full recovery and was advised to avoid plugging his nose while sneezing in the future. Doctors recommend letting sneezes rip into a tissue instead.

“The safest thing to do — although it’s not socially acceptable — is just to sneeze loud,” Aymat said.

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Revolution in health and social care urged in Wales

Stock image of hospital treatmentImage copyright

Image caption

A long-term health and social care plan is expected to be published in the spring

A “revolution” is urgently needed in the way health and social care is delivered in Wales says a major review.

Without “significantly accelerated” change, services which are already not fit for the future, will further decline, the expert panel warns.

The NHS and social care will be expected to work “seamlessly” together to respond to a person’s needs and to deliver care closer to home.

Ministers say a new plan will take into account the review’s recommendations.

Nine leading international experts, chaired by the former chief medical officer for Wales Dr Ruth Hussey, have been looking at ways to try to put the health and social care system on a stronger footing.

Its findings propose 10 recommendations, including:

  • Shifting resources away from big hospitals, investing in new technology and giving patients more choice about how and where they want to be cared for.
  • Urgent action to address “critical” staff shortages.
  • More to be done to protect the wellbeing of those working in health and care.
  • “More sophisticated methods” of listening to patients and those being cared for and more shared decision making with those it affects.
  • Building on the many great examples of quality improvements at local level with “many driven by heroic individuals in isolation due to lack of support and coordination”.

But it warns that there is too much focus on narrow hospital targets rather than looking at the bigger picture.

It wants a new national transformation programme to drive forward changes.

However the panel warns this “won’t be easy” and will involve “significant test of leadership… at national, regional and local level”.

Without “faster” and “more widespread progress”, access to and the quality of services could decline in the next five years.

Dr Hussey said the scale of the challenge ahead should not be underestimated.

“It is clear that change is needed and even clearer that this should happen quickly,” she said.

“We have detected an appetite for change and a desire to ‘get on with it’. A strong commitment to transform not just how much is done, but what and how it is delivered is needed.”


There are examples of good practice in the NHS and social care, which could be replicated.

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Faster access to stroke specialist help in Newport has improved things for patients

Aneurin Bevan health board has made big improvements in looking after stroke victims after centralising in Newport two years ago and providing a seven-days-a week, high-level service.

After being one of the worst, it is now judged to be the best performing in Wales and mortality rates have also improved.

Dr Yaqoob Bhat, clinical director for stroke medicine, said: “Stroke patients can come at any time – it doesn’t make sense having a different care on Monday and again on a Saturday.

“Also, how quickly you see that stroke patient is important – so being able to see a specialist straight away was one of the biggest changes as well.”

Specialist rehabilitation is also provided at a smaller number of centres to focus more on expertise.

Media captionDoreen Tonkin, who is in her 80s, and occupational therapist Alex Gigg are involved in Aberdare’s ‘virtual ward’

Cwm Taf health board has a “virtual ward” for elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes in Aberdare, with GPs, paramedics, therapists and social services working together.

It also involves charities and a “care and repair” service so people are more able to stay and be looked after in their own communities rather than being hospitalised.

GP Dr Owen Thomas said: “Lots of elderly and infirm people find it hard to get down to the practice and a big number don’t engage well with healthcare for other reasons, like mental health or learning difficulties.

“It’s easy to blame the system but actually we’re part of the system. So we came up with an ambitious plan to design it from the ground up.”

The final report follows interim findings last summer calling for a much faster pace of change in the face of an ageing population.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said he would “carefully consider” the findings ahead of a new long-term plan for health and social care to be published in the spring.

“I believe that what we have seen today from the panel will set firm foundations for the future of health and social care in Wales for many years to come,” he said.

Helen Howson, director of the Bevan Commission think-tank, said: “We can’t afford not to make changes.

“When people are being challenged on their targets, on their resources and on the huge demand on the system, you can understand why we’re in the position we’re in – it’s like a rabbit caught in headlights.”

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Serena Williams Pens Moving Message on Maternal Health After Traumatic Birth Experience

Serena Williams‘s delivery of her first child, daughter Alexis Olympia, was anything but smooth, but she says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

On Facebook, Williams responded to the outpouring of support she received after she shared the details of her traumatic emergency c-section, and the near-fatal blood clots that resulted.

“I didn’t expect that sharing our family’s story of Olympia’s birth and all of complications after giving birth would start such an outpouring of discussion from women—especially black women—who have faced similar complications and women whose problems go unaddressed,” she wrote.

Williams, 36, continued: “These aren’t just stories: according to the CDC, (Center for Disease Control) black women are over 3 times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. We have a lot of work to do as a nation and I hope my story can inspire a conversation that gets us to close this gap.”

The tennis great countered the post’s heavy subject matter with an adorable video of her smiling four-month-old daughter peeking at her from behind a wall. (We suspect Williams’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was involved.)

“Let me be clear: EVERY mother, regardless of race, or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. I personally want all women of all colors to have the best experience they can have,” she concluded. “My personal experience was not great but it was MY experience and I’m happy it happened to me. It made me stronger and it made me appreciate women—both women with and without kids—even more. We are powerful!!!”

Thank you for sharing your story, Serena!

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UK officials call for investigation into European health insurance card program

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