The holiday season is filled with opportunities to spend time with family, friends, and food. Unfortunately, many of our favorite holiday dishes are not the healthiest. To help make smarter choices, the US Department of Agriculture suggests: opt for unsweetened applesauce or bananas instead of butter when baking; include all food groups in your holiday meals; choose whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy; skip gravies and sauces that can be loaded with salt and fat; sip on seltzer or water with fresh fruit slices; reduce sugar in recipes, or opt for yogurt and fruit instead of a pie or cake; emphasize conversation and fun, and focus less on food; include exercise in your festivities; and find healthy ways to use holiday leftovers in soups and omelets. United States Department of Agriculture, November 2016
Depression among teens and young adults in the US is on the rise, with adolescent girls showing the greatest vulnerability.
Researchers analyzed data on more than 172,000 American teens and nearly 179,000 young adults from the US National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. The data showed the risk of major depressive disorder for teenage boys increased from 4.5% in 2005 to 6% in 2014, while the risk for teenage girls rose from 13% to 17% during the same period. One expert notes, “There are many stressors which impact our youth and could in fact increase the rates of depression in people who are vulnerable to depression. These stressors are not limited to social media and/or cyberbullying.” Pediatrics, November 2016
Migraines linked to cardiovascular disease risk.
New research shows that women who experience migraines have more than double the risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack. The study tracked more than 900 American women with an average age of 58 who showed signs of heart disease between 1996 and 1999. After adjusting for risk factors, researchers found that migraine headache patients were nearly twice as likely to suffer from cardiac problems, such as heart attack or stroke, than those with no migraine history. American Heart Association, November 2016
Poor sense of smell may signal Alzheimer’s risk.
New research suggests that a person’s sense of smell may help predict their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Among a group of 183 seniors, those who had the greatest difficulty distinguishing between odors performed more poorly on tests of recognition and memory, suggesting a greater risk for Alzheimer’s. Principal investigator Dr. Mark Albers comments, “It is well recognized that early diagnosis and intervention are likely to produce the most effective therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease—preventing the onset or the progression of symptoms… If these results hold up, this sort of inexpensive, noninvasive screening could help us identify the best candidates for novel therapies to prevent the development of symptoms of this tragic disease.” Annals of Neurology, November 2016
Chronic back pain affects balance.
In this study, 13 subjects with chronic, recurrent, non-specific low back pain and 13 subjects without low back pain participated in a series of experiments to measure the effect of chronic low back pain on standing balance. The investigators found that individuals with low back pain exhibit altered late brain processing of posture with altered kinematic and muscle responses, and these responses correlated with reports of pain-related fears and activity interference. The findings demonstrate that chronic back pain can negatively affect the ability of the brain to manage balance. Neuroscience, October 2016
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