- What You Can Do in Your 20s to Prevent Osteoporosis
- This Is What It’s Like to Meditate With Deepak Chopra
- This Is Why ‘Pond Scum’ Holds the Secret to Longevity
- You Asked: Should I Go Gluten Free?
- Here’s Maria Shriver’s Challenge to Corporate America on Alzheimer’s
- Here’s What We Could Be Doing to Stop Pandemics Like Zika and Ebola
- What Women Are Telling their Therapists About Election Stress
- Big Soda-Funded Studies Don’t Often Link Drinks to Obesity
Posted: 02 Nov 2016 09:00 AM PDT
Twenty-somethings have a lot on their minds: finishing school, settling into a career, taking control of their finances. Bone health isn’t always top of mind. When we’re young, our bone tissue is constantly being created and destroyed, so it’s easy to take our rock-solid skeleton for granted. But as we age, this process slows down, and our bodies gradually lose bone faster than new bone is built. For some people, this deterioration causes their bones to become especially weak, brittle and porous, a condition called osteoporosis. People with this disease are more susceptible to bone breakage—particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist—and can also experience pain, limited mobility and stooped posture.
While osteoporosis can develop in both men and women at different ages, it most frequently affects older women who have gone through menopause. (Estrogen levels drop during menopause, and experts believe the hormone helps maintain bone density.) The good news, though, is that there’s a lot you can do in your 20s to strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of getting osteoporosis later on.
“Bone loss is inevitable in women,” says Deena Adimoolam, MD, assistant professor of diabetes, endocrinology and bone disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “But there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can help slow down the process.”
Your bones are still being rebuilt in your 20s, she explains, which means you can continue to strengthen them during this time. Here, a few smart lifestyle strategies that can help offset your risk.
One of the very best things you can do for healthy bones in your 20s is establish an exercise routine you can stick to. But not all workouts are created equal.
“Physical activity has been shown to have beneficial effects on bone health, especially by adding weight-bearing activities into daily workouts,” says Dr. Adimoolam.
In other words, make sure you’re taking advantage of those free weights at the gym, as well as other forms of resistance training like yoga, running, tai chi and brisk walking. Even better, schedule a plyometrics workout: According to a study from Brigham Young University, exercises that involve jumping may significantly improve hip bone mineral density in premenopausal women.
Health.com: 10 Ways to Have Great Posture as You Age
Eat the right foods
The diet choices you make in your 20s can help build strong bones for life: “Calcium and vitamin D are very important for bone health,” says Dr. Adimoolam. She recommends filling your plate with three servings of calcium-rich foods every day. This can include both dairy and non-dairy sources—think milk and yogurt, as well as kale, edamame, almonds and oranges. Foods that are high in vitamin D include salmon and other fatty fish, eggs and fortified cereal.
Other bone-building foods to load up on: Bananas (potassium may help increase bone strength by reducing resorption), prunes (vitamin K may promote bone health) and olive oil (it contains a compound called oleuropein that may prevent bone loss).
Health.com: 10 Ways to Fight Osteoporosis
Maintain a healthy weight
In addition to eating well and exercising, Dr. Adimoolam stresses the importance of aiming for a healthy weight. “Women who are underweight are at risk of developing osteoporosis at an earlier age,” she says. Belly fat could also up your risk: Recent research from Harvard found that premenopausal women who had more visceral fat had decreased bone mineral density.
Health.com: 10 Healthy Calcium-Packed Recipes
Understand your risk factors
Some women have greater risk of developing osteoporosis than others. If these factors apply to you, consider discussing bone health with your doctor. He or she might recommend a bone density scan to start monitoring your bone mass from an earlier age.
You have a family history. If osteoporosis runs in your family—if your mother or grandmother has it, for example—you have an increased risk of developing it yourself. This is especially true if a family member had early-onset osteoporosis, meaning it started before age 60.
You have irregular periods. Because estrogen may be linked to bone density, a woman who isn’t having a regular period may not be benefiting from the hormone’s protective effects on bone health, Dr. Adimoolam explains. Similarly, if your period stops for more than a year and you’re not on birth control, let your doctor know. (Most birth control pills contain estrogen, so if you don’t have your period and you’re on the pill, you don’t have to be too concerned about your bone health, Dr. Adimoolam says.)
You have premature ovarian failure. Women who have this condition, which occurs when the ovaries fail before age 40, have a higher risk of osteoporosis, Dr. Adimoolam says.
You’re a smoker. As if you needed another reason to quit: In addition to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, smoking cigarettes can also contribute to osteoporosis.
Posted: 02 Nov 2016 06:34 AM PDT
I’m not one for meditating. It’s not that I don’t believe in the virtues and benefits of the practice, but my mind tends to wander and instead of coming out of a session feeling zen, I instead emerge worried about my next deadline or the mysterious cough my 4-year-old daughter might have. Oh, and I’m eight months pregnant, so I feel my little girl kicking me pretty much constantly.
But when alternative medicine advocate and meditation guru Dr. Deepak Chopra organizes a small group, 20-minute meditation, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Such was the case at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, where on Tuesday, Chopra led a meditation for the conference’s two-hundred plus attendees.
Meditation has increasingly become a booming business. In 2015, the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld, which breaks out the category from the alternative health care sector. There’s also revenue collected from the growing number of mindfulness apps, like Calm.com and Headspace.
Here’s what the Chopra experience was like:
Chopra first instructed the group to relax their stance and close their eyes with their palms open. He then asked the group to start paying attention to their breathing, and told the group that if their mind wandered that was ok, and to be bring it back to the present.
Chopra then asked the group to ask themselves a series of questions, including: “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”
He asked the audience to try to listen to their heartbeat, and see if they could feel the energy of it in their fingertips.
Chopra also asked the group to repeat their name to themselves, starting with their full name and then shortening it to their first name. And he called on the crowd to say a silent mantra to themselves.
Lastly, he told the group to slowly open their eyes.
I’m surely missing some of the moments—because at times, I felt like I was meditating. Twenty minutes felt more like five, and I returned to the present feeling surprisingly rested. And ready to tackle the deadline for this article.
Posted: 02 Nov 2016 06:18 AM PDT
There’s more to pond scum than meets the eye.
Just ask Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, now the President of the Salk Institute, who earned her Laureate status, in part, for insights gleaned from that lowly life form.
Blackburn is famous for her work on telomeres—the chromosome-capping entities that protect genetic material as it replicates. Telomeres wear down over time, she discovered—and that erosion corresponds to aging.
She also discovered that telomerase, an enzyme plentiful in “pond scum,” but limited in humans, rebuilds telomeres and holds the secret to longevity.
Pond scum, she said, speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday, is “an organism that multiplies forever and ever. We used to say, you could feed and talk nicely to it and it would multiply forever.”
It’s not so easy with human cells. Blackburn says telomerase can be a mixed blessing: while the enzyme allows the renewal of useful, necessary human cells—like blood cells—it also promotes the spread of cancer cells.
It will take more science to discover when telomerase becomes a danger, and how that knowledge might be used to improve health. For now, what we know about telomeres tells us a few basic things about how to live a longer life, says Blackburn, whose book, The Telomere Effect: The New Science of Living Younger, hits stores in January.
Her research has shown that people who exercise, sleep well, eat decent food, and keep a good attitude—“everything your mother told you,” she said—are more likely to preserve their telomeres and live longer. Her studies have also shown that long episodes of stress—dealing with a sick child, for instance—take a toll on one’s telomeres, and contribute to aging.
Of course, telomeres are only one piece of the puzzle, Blackburn explained. While the health of one’s telomeres correspond with longevity, it’s only one factor, she said.
Posted: 02 Nov 2016 05:00 AM PDT
Gluten is a type of elastic grain protein that helps wheat, rye and barley hold their shape. Because of its glue-like properties, gluten is often added to other food products—pasta, sauces, crackers, baked goods—to thicken or bind those products together.
Look closely at that list of foods, and it’s easy to see why some people who ditch gluten experience a wondrously slimming, invigorating health boost. Those sorts of quick-digesting refined carbohydrates tend to be high in unhealthy sugars. And if you’re like the average American, more than half of your daily calorie intake comes from those insalubrious goodies.
“These kinds of junk foods and refined carbohydrates promote weight gain and diabetes and disease,” says Dr. Joseph Murray, a professor of medicine and a gluten researcher at Mayo Clinic. So if you’re eating a lot of cookies, crackers and other grain-based snack foods, any diet that limits your intakes of them is bound to do your health some good. “But for those who don’t suffer from celiac disease, gluten isn’t inherently bad, and gluten-free foods aren’t inherently healthy,” he says.
An estimated 1% of the population has celiac disease, a condition where eating gluten triggers an intestine-damaging immune system response. Abdominal pain, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, weight loss and vomiting are some of the disease’s symptoms.
An unknown percentage of people may also suffer from something called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, says Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. For these people, gluten may trigger many of the same symptoms associated with celiac. “The challenge still remains how to diagnose these patients, since we still do not have validated biomarkers,” Fasano says.
Giving up gluten is a necessity for both of these groups.
A third group of people may indirectly benefit from avoiding gluten. Many gluten-containing foods also contain FODMAPs—a collection of short-chain carbohydrates and food molecules that can trigger or worsen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gut disorders, says Dr. Peter Gibson, head of gastroenterology at Australia’s Monash University.
By avoiding gluten, these people will also dodge the FODMAPs that are the real sources of their guts’ troubles. While that’s good, Gibson says a gluten-free diet is much more strict than a low-FODMAP diet. “Without good evidence that gluten is causing the problem, being so strict seems unnecessary,” he says.
It could also be harmful. “By going gluten free, you’re losing out on the potential benefits of eating whole grain foods,” Murray says. Those benefits include lowering your risk for heart disease and colon cancer. You’re also putting yourself at risk for nutritional deficiencies, namely a lack of folate and other B vitamins. “For pregnant women, a B-vitamin deficiency could increase the risk for a child born with neural tube defects,” Murray says, naming just one of the potential dangers.
Think of it this way: If you had a shellfish allergy, giving up all seafood would keep you out of harm’s way. But it would also unnecessarily cut lots of healthy foods from your diet.
It’s also important to point out that unless you suffer from a gluten allergy or sensitivity, gluten-free cookies, brownies and other baked goods aren’t any better for you than their gluten-containing versions. In some cases, they’re worse. “A lot of the commercial gluten-free foods make up for taste differences by including more fats, sugar, and salt,” Murray says. “So I don’t recommend these even for people with celiac disease.”
Unless you’re suffering stomach pain, headaches, bowel issues or other symptoms mentioned here, there’s no reason to eliminate all gluten from your diet.
If you are experiencing those symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor who can test your blood for celiac disease, Murray says. Celiac is related to some autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and other serious health issues that you’ll need to keep an eye on. “If you have celiac, your family members may have it and not know it, so that’s another good reason to be tested,” he adds.
Bottom line: If your diet’s rotten, going gluten-free may be an improvement. But for most people, ditching all gluten is overkill, and could even hurt your health.
Posted: 01 Nov 2016 07:41 PM PDT
Each October, a parade of major American companies across the business spectrum unite to promote women’s health for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But there’s not nearly as much corporate activism when it comes to another disease with a massive gender gap: Alzheimer’s. And that needs to change if there’s any hope for finding a cure, argues journalist and activist Maria Shriver.
Shriver, who describes herself as a “daughter of Alzheimer’s”—her father died from the disease in 2011—has dedicated her energy to fighting the degenerative illness through her organization, the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. She addressed attendees at the first-ever Fortune Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday during a plenary session with Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona Health Sciences and University of Southern California Professor David Agus.
The session centered on the disproportionate toll that Alzheimer’s takes on women and the promise of data analytics to expose the risk factors for the disease. About two-thirds of American Alzheimer’s patients are women, Agus, the moderator, noted. Two-thirds of the caregivers overseeing Alzheimer’s patients are also women.
But Shriver also called out companies for not doing nearly as much to facilitate research and prevention strategies as they do for other conditions. “Corporate America hasn’t really stepped up on this disease like it has for cancer,” she said, adding that Alzheimer’s isn’t as “sexy” since there aren’t really survivors.
Shriver is trying to change that dynamic. Earlier this year, she launched an initiative with the Equinox Sports Club chain to promote “brain health” for women. “There were several people high up at Equinox whose parents had Alzheimer’s,” she explained, which made them amenable to the idea, despite being a gym.
But there are still plenty of ways corporate America can help tackle Alzheimer’s. “There’s a great opportunity for other companies to step up and say, ‘Women’s brains matter,’” said Shriver. One example could be more active involvement in funding research and awareness about the disease; another might include offering paid leave or compensation for employees who participate in Alzheimer’s clinical trials. Currently, these people generally have to take time off to help promote research.
The benefits would ultimately help men and women alike, since having a mother with Alzheimer’s is one of the major risk factors for children—sons and daughters—developing the disease, according to Dr. Brinton.
“If we save women’s brains, we’ll save men’s brains as well,” said Shriver.
Posted: 01 Nov 2016 07:22 PM PDT
A boiling pot of global conditions, like ubiquitous travel and the growing populations of developing cities, have led to an outbreak of pandemics like Ebola, Zika, SARs, and even the flu over the past decade.
But while the global health industry and national governments and regulators have made a lot of progress, there’s still much more that these groups can do together to better plan, fund, and organize the battle against emerging pandemics, said a group of experts at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, Calif. on Tuesday night.
Once an outbreak occurs, the response is all about speed, said Bruce Gellin, director of the U.S. National Vaccine Program Office.
But the focus on a rapid response belies the need to invest much more in preventing pandemics. “We need a new model, because the one we have now isn’t working,” said Gellin.
Companies and regulators need to better understand the evolution of viruses, and which parts of the viruses are not as variable, said Gellin. The work on flu vaccines, for example, historically began with eggs, and “we’re still making them much the same way,” he said.
Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said there needs to be better systems in place to measure and monitor safety in pandemics. “That’s where big data can be great,” he said.
There also needs to be better anticipation of where and how pandemics occur, said Osterholm. “We can’t go from crisis to crisis,” he said. “We could have anticipated Zika.”
Moncef Slaoui, chairman of vaccines for GlaxoSmithKline GSK -0.40% , said the company’s experience building a vaccine for Ebola was troubling. Slaoui said that GlaxoSmithKline dedicated all of its vaccine project resources to working on one for Ebola starting in August 2014, before bringing a vaccine to trials by February 2016.
While that’s much faster than the traditional process, the world had moved on to Zika and other pressing pandemics by the time the vaccine made it to trials. The process left GlaxoSmithKline vulnerable to significant financial exposure, with a half-baked vaccine and enormous expenses, said Slaoui.
The pharmaceutical giant exec said there needs to be a better way for companies to get involved working on how to “save the world” in these pressing situations. Right now, building vaccines against pandemics is like getting car insurance while you’re already in a car accident, said Slaoui.
Posted: 01 Nov 2016 02:10 PM PDT
This campaign season, news of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been almost entirely unavoidable—and it turns out that’s true inside therapists’ offices, too.
Surveys show most Americans are stressed out about the election. In late October, the American Psychological Association released a survey that found 52% of American adults say the 2016 election is a somewhat significant—or very significant—source of stress in their lives, regardless of whether they’re Republican or Democrat. Another recent ABC News Poll reported that women were more likely than men to report election-related stress: 51% of women reported having stress over the election, while just 39% of men felt the same way.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll reported that Hillary Clinton has a 51-to-41 lead among female voters.
And for some of them, that’s affecting what comes up on the proverbial couch.
“The election is coming up every single day,” says Joanna Ford, a licensed counselor in Denver, Colorado. “Once the videotape of Donald Trump and Billy Bush on that bus came out, it had great impact. For women who are not feeling safe to begin with, this can trigger serious feelings of insecurity and fear.”
That’s the case for Lauren Flower-Kim, a 38-year-old mom living in Brooklyn, New York: “I had a nightmare featuring Donald Trump last night,” she says. “All of a sudden the room is dark and he was looming over me. It was frightening and I think I woke up yelling.”
Republican nominee Donald Trump has been criticized throughout the election for making comments that are insulting to many women. A video released in October revealed him talking about “grabbing women by the p-ssy” and saying “you can do anything” to women when you’re famous. He also publicly called Clinton a “nasty woman” during the third debate, and has not apologized for calling a former Miss Universe “Miss Piggy.” He has also said that he will sue the many women who have come forward with claims that Trump sexually assaulted them.
“More than one client of mine has talked of physical nausea that they relate directly to current political happenings,” says Melissa Lester Olson, a psychotherapist based in Atlanta, Georgia. “Women who I have seen for years are only now bringing up physical and sexual trauma from their past. I think this election is re-traumatizing them. Verbal and emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, discrimination at home or at work—women experience these things often. There have been many reminders [in this election] of experiences that so many of us have had.”
Tanya Bannister, director of Cognitive Therapy for Women in New York City, says many women in her practice are anxious and agitated about the election, particularly after the debates. “The focus tends to be their anxiety about a possible Donald Trump win, and the sense that that would be catastrophic for them, for their children or for the world.” She says about a quarter of the women she sees have brought up the election in a session.
Monica E. Jackson, a counselor and owner of iWin Counseling based in Houston, Texas, says that some of the negativity around this campaign season has made some people feel like women’s issues—the pay gap, parental leave, reproductive rights—were taking a giant step backward. “In America, women have become trailblazers. We now have the decision of whether we want to be stay-a-home moms, CEOs or both. We have heard things in this election that demean women and negates everything we have worked so hard to not be viewed as.”
To combat stress and anxiety spurred by the election, all of the therapists TIME spoke to recommended cutting back on social media, and keeping time spent mulling over the news to the minimum or scheduled time of day.
Posted: 01 Nov 2016 10:46 AM PDT
A team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) looked at 60 studies published between 2001 and 2016 that analyzed the link between sugary drinks like soda and obesity and type 2 diabetes. Their research was spurred by legal proceedings between the soda industry and the city of San Francisco, the New York Times reports. Last year, the city started requiring advertisements for sugary beverages to carry warning labels linking the drinks to diseases like obesity. The beverage industry sued the city and said the labels were misleading and harmed free speech laws. The city hired the author of the new study—Dr. Dean Schillinger of UCSF, who focuses on diabetes—to research the link between sugary drinks and health issues.
During his research, Schillinger found that when studies are funded by the soda industry, they report different findings than studies that are done by independent researchers. In the new report, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Schillinger and his colleagues report that out of the 60 studies they reviewed, 26 did not find a relationship between sugary drinks and obesity or diabetes, and 34 did report a link. All of the studies that did not link the drinks to disease were funded by the beverage industry. Only one of the studies that did report a link was industry-funded.
“This industry seems to be manipulating contemporary scientific processes to create controversy and advance their business interests at the expense of the public’s health,” the study authors concluded in their report.
This is not the first time the soda or sugar industry has been criticized for interfering with public health. In October, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that between 2011 to 2015, 96 national health organizations accepted money from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo or both companies. In 2015 it was revealed that Coca-Cola funded an organization called the Global Energy Balance Network that tried to shift public health messaging away from a focus on diet and onto exercise.
“The reality is we are in a public health war with diabetes right now,” says Schillinger. “In every war there is propaganda. What the public should take away from [these findings] is that we are being played. If you exclude the studies funded by industry and only look at the independently funded studies, it becomes apparent that sugar-sweetened beverages cause obesity and diabetes.”
In a statement emailed in response to the report, the American Beverage Association said that “we have a right—and a responsibility—to engage in scientific research. The research we fund adheres to the highest standards of integrity for scientific inquiry based on recognized standards by prominent research institutions. It contributes to the body of scientific knowledge, meets the needs of regulatory agencies and enables consumers to make informed decisions.”
The group also stated that Schillinger is paid by the City of San Francisco as part of the lawsuit. “It’s ironic that he would write about bias in research when he himself is clearly not an impartial researcher,” the ABA wrote. “This paper is the latest in a trend of pro-tax forces writing speculative opinion papers to influence voters a week before a vote on several ballot initiatives to tax beverages.”
Schillinger says that the industry’s influence on public health through funding and research isn’t a new revelation, but calls the number of studies in the report “remarkable”. “This is not an opinion perspective,” he says. “Any high school student could do this study. You count up the studies and see who funded them. That’s research. That’s fact.”
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