Wellness Library

Wellness Library articles contain step-by-step guides to diseases and conditions, ranging from how a baby develops and grows, to memory care for Alzheimer's patients. Resources include information on disease and condition management, prevention and self-care, when to consult a physician, what to ask the physician and educational quizzes to test knowledge and track symptom progression.

What is HealthDay’s Wellness Library?

HealthDay's Wellness Library is a collection of more than 1,500 original encyclopedic health and medical articles. The reference-style library features informative articles, special reports, first-person essays, quizzes and much more. Arranged into 42 topic centers ranging from Alzheimer's to Women's Health, the Wellness Library offers "what you need to know" content on a wide variety of topics.

The stories contain step-by-step guides on diseases and conditions, ranging from how a baby develops and grows, to memory care for Alzheimer's patients. Resources include information on disease and condition management, prevention and self-care, when to consult a physician, what to ask the physician and educational quizzes to test knowledge and track symptom progression.

Why Do Leading Medical Media and Hospitals Use the Wellness Library?

While large research hospitals may have ample resources to create their own health and wellness libraries, regional hospitals and health facilities such as Citrus Valley Health Partners, Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana and Northern Hospital of Surry County know they need to provide basic patient education as part of their service. They turn to HealthDay's Wellness Library as a turn-key solution for a fraction of the cost of making it themselves. HealthDay even takes care of reviewing and updating the content annually to ensure it stays up to date.

This deep and focused body of easy-to-understand and informative content is an excellent reference tool for engaging clients. Because of the highly granular nature of the content, clients find exactly what they are interested in reading, thus reducing bounce rates. The Wellness Library is also an excellent range of content from an SEO client acquisition standpoint.

Clients whose business model depends upon client behavioral change, such as wellness platforms, leverage this content to educate and inspire clients.

How is it Delivered?

Because of the encyclopedic nature of the Wellness Library, delivery could not be easier. The content can be delivered as an XML file, via API, or through HealthDay's EZ-Post JavaScript widget, which is simply plugged into your page.

  • Encyclopedic Content
  • 1,500 Pieces of Original Health/Medical Content
  • 42 Topic Centers of Information
  • Raises Website/Application IQ
  • Excellent Health Content for SEO Strategy Campaigns
  • Excellent Health Content for Client Engagement

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Do You Need an Insulin-Resistance Diet?

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FRIDAY, Feb. 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- People with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome may have been advised about the value of an insulin-resistance diet.

But this way of eating can benefit most people interested in balancing blood sugars, whether that’s to help treat or prevent chronic conditions, or just to gain more energy and better mood control.

"An ‘insulin-resistant diet’ is a diet or eating plan that supports balanced blood sugars in the body,” explained Rahaf Al Bochi, a registered dietitian and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition in Duluth, Ga.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream enter into cells, explained Al Bochi, who is also a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“When cells don’t respond to insulin anymore, they are ‘insulin resistant’ and blood sugars can rise,” she said.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) explains it this way: Some people build up a tolerance to insulin, requiring more to get muscle, fat and liver cells to take up glucose. It can be chronic or temporary, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Why this develops is not clear, but reasons can include genes, age, inflammation, other physiological stress and some medications. Lifestyle, too, such as being inactive or overweight can play a role.

A recent study of hibernating bears may eventually improve understanding about human diabetes, especially type 2, which is the most common form in people. Insulin resistance is a precursor to that disease and is affected by obesity and inactivity.

But a person doesn't have to be overweight to have insulin resistance, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is a diet for insulin resistance?

The best diet for insulin resistance aims to pair carbohydrate foods with protein and fat, Al Bochi said.

Protein and fat foods might include meat, chicken, fish, cheese, avocado, oil, beans, nuts and seeds. Carbohydrates could include bread, pasta or a range of other items, such as dairy or fruit.

Blood sugar rises more slowly when protein, fat and carbs are eaten together compared to just eating carbohydrates on their own, Al Bochi said.

A 2019 research review published in Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine noted an emphasis on reducing intake of simple sugars from sweet drinks, desserts and excessive fruit juice.

“Many studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of consuming complex, low-glycemic-index carbohydrates that are rich in dietary fiber," the review noted. "An insulin-resistant patient’s diet should be rich in whole grains and high amounts of non-starchy vegetables and raw fruit.”

Health benefits of an insulin-resistance diet

No single test will indicate whether someone is insulin-resistant, according to the CDC. A health care provider may make that diagnosis if a person has high blood sugar; a high level of triglycerides in their blood; a high level of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol; or low level of “good” (HDL) cholesterol.

A good indicator of how many people have insulin resistance is to note how many have prediabetes. That’s about one-third of adults, more than 84 million people in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

A person can improve their insulin resistance with a healthy diet, regular moderate-intensity physical activity and weight loss, the clinic suggests.

These lifestyle modifications can reduce insulin resistance over time; lower blood glucose levels; and decrease blood pressure and bad cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol, according to the clinic.

How to balance your plate

Aim for a plate that is half vegetables, one-quarter carbohydrates and one-quarter protein and fat, Al Bochi said.

Vegetables should be non-starchy, the ADA's Diabetes Plate Method recommends.

Al Bochi offered an example of a food combination for insulin resistance: Adding avocado and egg to a person's morning toast will balance blood sugar by pairing the fat and protein with the carbohydrate.

“Choose fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts because these can also help lower blood sugars,” Al Bochi suggested.

Eating foods that have a low-to-moderate glycemic index (GI) can also help manage insulin resistance, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Low-GI foods are beans, legumes, apples, berries, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, other non-starchy veggies, nuts, dairy, fish and meat. High-GI foods include white bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies, watermelon and dates, among others.

Insulin-resistance diet food list

So, what specific foods should you eat?

While the list of non-starchy veggies is long, some examples are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, pea pods, tomatoes and peppers, the ADA suggests.

Protein sources can include lean meats, fish or even cheese in small amounts, as well as plant-based foods, such as beans, hummus, lentils, peas or tofu.

Fruit choices are plentiful, but they are considered a carbohydrate.

Sources of monounsaturated fat include avocado, canola oil, olive oil, olives, peanuts and peanut oil, safflower oil and some nuts, according to the ADA.

Polyunsaturated fat sources can include oily fish, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds, tofu, eggs and sunflower seeds.

Al Bochi also suggests consulting with a registered dietitian for personalized nutrition tips.

SOURCE: Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, Olive Tree Nutrition, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Androstenedione: A Banned Bodybuilding Supplement You Should Avoid

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THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Androstenedione is one of those supplements that was peddled to athletes for years as a quick path to bulging muscles and high testosterone levels, but it carries some grave dangers.

Also known as "andro," the dietary supplement was once touted to enhance athletic performance by stimulating muscle growth and boosting testosterone levels. But once it enters the body, it acts like a steroid and can pose similar health risks.

In October 2004, President George Bush signed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, which reclassified androstenedione from a supplement to an anabolic steroid, making it and other steroid-based drugs a controlled substance. They are currently banned in sports.

This was because a small number of studies of androstenedione led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to believe that its use may increase the risk of serious health problems because of its conversion in the body to the hormones testosterone and a particular form of estrogen.

While over-the-counter androstenedione supplements are now banned, doctors can still prescribe it for medical purposes.

According to a study published online recently in the journal Molecules, doctors can offer androstenedione shots for preventing or treating certain chronic diseases.

Androstenedione's dangers

But the supplement is linked to numerous side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, long-term use of androstenedione supplements by men can result in testicular atrophy, impotence and the development of female characteristics such as breast enlargement.

Women who use these products may develop male characteristics such as male pattern baldness, deepening of the voice, increased facial hair and enlargement of the clitoris. Women can also develop abnormal menstrual cycles, abnormal bleeding and blood clots. Androstenedione can also increase the risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer.

Among children and teens, androstenedione can put them at risk for the same hormonal effects as adults, as well as for early onset of puberty and premature cessation of growth.

Andro supplements can also damage the heart and blood vessels in anyone who takes it, raising the risk for heart attacks and strokes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Drug interactions

Not only can these supplements cause unwanted side effects: They also can interact dangerously with a number of other medications.

According to Drug Bank, concentrations of androstenedione can increase when taken with the head lice drug abametapir or decrease when used with the heart drug amiodarone.

Other interactions include increased concentrations of androstenedione in the presence of the prostate cancer drug apalutamide and decreased concentrations when used with aprepitant, which is used to prevent nausea from chemotherapy.

The drug HIV drug atazanavir can also increase the concentration of androstenedione, as can the erectile dysfunction drug avanafil (Stendra).

When androstenedione is used along with the asthma drug beclomethasone dipropionate, severe edema may occur. That's also the case with the arthritis drug betamethasone.

Also, the ability to metabolize androstenedione can be affected when the drug berotralstat is used. Berotralstat is used to prevent angioedema, a hereditary swelling of the face, according to Drug Bank.

"While andro products may seem to have short-term benefits, the science shows that these same properties create real and significant health risks," then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan said when the supplements were first banned.

"While the products are advertised to athletes, they have the potential to get into the hands of our impressionable youth who may believe these products will help their development," McClellan said. "Anyone who takes these products in sufficient quantities to build muscle or improve performance is putting himself or herself at risk for serious long-term and potentially irreversible health consequences."

How Many Daily Steps Do You Need to Lose Weight?

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MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- It’s clear that staying active is key to being healthy, and fitness trackers and smartwatches have become popular tools for tracking activity.

But just how many steps does someone need to take to lose weight?

That’s not such a simple a question.

While evidence is limited on exactly how many steps a day it takes to lose weight, experts say to get about 150 to 300 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise weekly, said Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and Institute for Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

That’s about an average of 22 minutes per day on the low end and 45 minutes on the high end, Paluch said.

“And we do know that for weight loss and weight maintenance, you really need to get to that higher end,” Paluch said.

“We do need to exercise more often at this moderate to vigorous intensity to really see weight loss,” Paluch added, but “we really haven't figured out how much that equates to in terms of steps per day.”

Tracking steps

That doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t track their steps.

“These types of devices can really help us with tracking and goal-setting,” Paluch said.

Harvard Health cited a review of recent studies that found people who were overweight or obese and who had chronic health conditions were helped in losing weight by wearing fitness trackers.

In the reviewed studies, participants had weekly goals for steps or minutes walked and were most successful when those programs lasted at least 12 weeks.

Those 10,000 steps

The idea of getting 10,000 steps is not new, but proving that number works is more challenging.

Yet, a study published in the journal Obesity found that getting 10,000 steps per day, with about 3,500 of those as moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 10 minutes at a time, was found to be associated with enhanced weight loss in a behavioral intervention that included a calorie-restricted diet.

Another study, published recently in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that for every 2,000 steps a study participant logged, their risk of early death dropped by between 8% and 11%, up to 10,000 steps. Researchers also found that 9,800 steps per day showed the greatest benefit.

And a recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine, found walking 10,000 steps a day reduced the risk for dementia, heart disease and cancer.

More walking or running equals more calories burned, Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans said about the study when it was published.

"Generally, we say 100 calories are burned per mile walked or run," Lavie noted.

Getting started on walking to lose weight

Don’t get discouraged if you get only modest weight loss. Even that can have big benefits. Losing just 5% to 10% of total weight can improve blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walking can also reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, according to the Mayo Clinic, which says most Americans walk about 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day.

Figure out how much you walk, then add 1,000 extra steps every two weeks, the Mayo Clinic suggests, by walking the dog, hiking together as a family or parking farther away from your destination.

Setting the pace

Pacing can also make a difference.

“We do know that intensity does tend to matter for weight loss. So, getting in more brisk walking, that's really where we feel confident that if you do enough of it that could support weight loss,” Paluch said.

This could be done in short intermittent bouts or in longer organized workouts.

It may be that for a particular person the goal isn’t the steps but the minutes of physical activity. Or it could be counting the miles per day and being aware of how many they achieve at a brisk pace.

Even with robust exercise, in most cases, diet is crucial for weight loss, Paluch noted.

“Physical activity can provide lots of additional improvements in other health factors, but without any nutritional program, it's very difficult to lose weight,” Paluch said. “They really go hand in hand when we think about weight loss. It is the combination of being active and following a structured diet.”

SOURCE: Amanda Paluch, assistant professor, department of kinesiology, Institute for Applied Life Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Step Up! Here's How to Start a Healthy Walking Habit

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MONDAY, Jan. 30, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Starting a walking routine is simple because it requires so little: comfortable, supportive walking shoes and your own two feet.

Unlike gym workouts, the initial expense is small and the schedule is flexible.

“Walking's a great way to work out because we can integrate it into our daily lives,” said Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology and Institute for Applied Life Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“And if you can just fit it around your house or within your neighborhood, it's one of the most convenient options,” Paluch said.

The benefits abound, too.

Even a single bout of walking at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity can improve sleep, memory, ability to think and anxiety, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Harvard Health noted some surprising benefits, including that walking can reduce sugar cravings, ease joint pain, boost immunity, counteract obesity genetics and reduce breast cancer risk.

More well-known benefits include lowering high blood pressure and the risk for type 2 diabetes, helping someone maintain a healthy body weight and strengthening the musculoskeletal system, according to Colorado State University.

A Texas clinical trial credited a half-hour of power walking or jogging five times weekly with better blood flow in and out of the brain in research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

“Taking just a few more steps per day, that's a great way to get started. A walking program is really nice because it fits a very broad population,” Paluch said.

Answers to top walking questions

Breaking up a longer workout into shorter “bouts” of activity can be helpful for beginners, Paluch suggested.

Think about where you are physically, and then progressively increase your walking time from there, Paluch advised.

You might wear a step-counting device for a few days to figure out your baseline steps. Say, it’s about 4,000, which is common, then add about 500 more steps per day for the next week, she suggested.

“Just think about trying to make each increase a habit, right? So, we don't want to just jump into it and say, we're going to go out and walk five miles,” Paluch said. “Our goals become more achievable when we think about those in bite-size pieces and, also, we prevent injury."

Walking at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity is more helpful for someone wanting to incorporate walking into a weight-loss plan, she added.

A 150-pound person who walks briskly will burn about 297 calories per hour, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

How many calories can you burn during a 40-minute walk? According to Livestrong, you can burn between 160 calories and 296 calories, depending on your weight and walking speed.

Walking more is best, the ACS suggested, citing a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That study found more steps were linked to lower death rates from heart disease and cancer.

Mayo Clinic offers tips on starting a 12-week walking schedule, suggesting five minutes of slower-paced walking at the beginning and again at the end of a walking workout to warm up and cool down. It recommends five walking days per week.

A brisk walk means you’re breathing hard, but can still talk, the Mayo Clinic noted. A moderate intensity walk means you can walk, but can’t sing, Paluch said.

A faster pace appears to be important for good health. Harvard Health noted that regular walking reduced risk of heart disease and early death, especially for those who walked at a pace of 3 miles an hour or faster.

University of California, Berkeley, offers some tips on walking techniques.

Shoulders should be relaxed. Your head should be upright with your chin in a neutral position. Feet should be close to an imaginary line in the center of the pavement ahead of you.

The heel should strike first. One foot should always be on the ground. Swinging bent arms with each step will burn 5% to 10% more calories.

UC Berkeley, suggests finding stride length with a move like a ski jumper. Lean forward at the ankles and then step with your right food forward to catch yourself before falling. That’s the proper stride length for you.

Strategies to keep your routine on track

Paluch offered some tips for not losing ground with your walking workout:

  • Keep your walking shoes close by. “The idea is to try to eliminate the barriers as much as possible,” Paluch said.
  • On a busy day, walk a few flights of stairs instead of a more typical workout. It all counts.
  • Don’t feel defeated if you miss a day. “When we can't get it all, get at least some and that will continue to help with habit formation,” Paluch said.

SOURCE: Amanda Paluch, assistant professor, department of kinesiology, and Institute for Applied Life Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

You Can Prevent Sports Overuse Injuries

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FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- “Move it or lose it” the saying goes, but too much exercise or playing sports can lead to overuse injuries.

These injuries include damage to bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles due to repetitive actions, such running, throwing, biking, lifting and swimming, to name a few.

An overuse injury can be the result of poor training techniques such as doing too much too fast; not warming up or cooling down; failing to take enough time to recover after exercise; or not doing the proper cross training to support the activity.

Shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement is an overuse injury in the rotator cuff -- the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. It is caused by “repetitive overhead activities while the shoulder joint is in a forward rotated position,” said Jessica Moyer, owner of Viva Stretch in Jacksonville, Fla., and a sport rehabilitation specialist for nearly 20 years.

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, pain is usually felt when lifting overhead, and is most common in active adults in their 30s and 40s. In a hospital release, Dr. Lawrence Gulotta, head of the shoulder and elbow division at the hospital's Sports Medicine Institute, says this type of injury often stems from poor technique and rushing when lifting weights.

How to prevent it: Moyer recommends strengthening the scapular, or shoulder blade, muscles. “This is important to keep the shoulder in the proper position to prevent injury,” she said.

It's also important to “maintain a full range of motion in the shoulder,” Moyer added. To stay flexible, be sure to warm up and be consistent with stretching.

IT Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band or “ITB” is a band of connective tissue that runs from the hip to just below the knee on the outside of the leg. When the load on that tissue exceeds its strength, the band tightens and pulls on the side of the knee, Moyer explained.

This overuse injury is common in runners and cyclists, but can also be found in other athletes. It starts with pain on the outside of the knee that builds during repetitive activity. It can be accompanied by clicking, popping or snapping sensations.

How to prevent it: Moyer offers this advice: "Focus on hip and core strengthening while also maintaining flexibility of the hip flexor, piriformis (a pear-shaped muscle located in the gluteal region of the hip/proximal thigh) and hamstring muscles.”

Runner’s knee

Runner’s knee occurs when “the kneecap is pulled in the wrong direction by muscle tightness, causing the kneecap to rub over the bone behind it,” Moyer said. The pulling is often caused by tight hip flexors, hamstring or ITB muscles, she said.

It brings dull pain around the front of the knee and sometimes is accompanied by weakness in the knee cap, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Rubbing, grinding or clicking in the knee cap may also be experienced.

How to prevent it: Proper warmup and stretching of the hip flexor muscles, ITB and hamstring muscles before and after repetitive activities such as running and biking is a must. Moyer noted that strengthening the quadricep muscles will help keep the kneecap in proper alignment during repetitive exercise.

Shin splints

Medial tibial stress syndrome, commonly known as “shin splints,” is an overuse injury with symptoms in the tibia, the large bone in the lower leg. It is aggravated “by tightness in the calf muscles, which pull on the shins when running or jumping,” Moyer said. It is common among runners and dancers.

Shin splints cause pain and tenderness on the shin bone. More severe cases will be accompanied by swelling and can lead to stress fractures if left untreated, according to the Mayo Clinic.

How to prevent it: Stretching is key, Moyer said. Stretch the calves -- "both the gastrocnemius muscle with the knee straight and the soleus muscle with the knee bent” -- before and after strenuous activities such as running and jumping, she recommended.

In addition, the Mayo Clinic says proper footwear is important as are training techniques such as slowly increasing in frequency and intensity of activity.

Plantar fasciitis

Like shin splints, plantar fasciitis results from tightness in the calf muscles, Moyer said. “It can also be a result of improper footwear, limitations in the mobility of the big toe, and weaknesses in the ankles, knees and hips,” she added.

The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes and supports the arch of the foot. Overuse can lead to inflammation and pain in the heel, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

How to prevent it: It's important to maintain flexibility in the foot and the ability to fully extend the big toe at the joint, Moyer advised. Proper footwear and proper training techniques are also important.

How to avoid overuse injuries

Moyer offered these tips:

  • Warm up properly before exercise and cool down properly after -- and be consistent about it.
  • Allow the body time to recover after an intense workout.
  • Make cross training a part of a workout routine.
  • Gradually ramp up on exercise frequency and intensity.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Always listen to your body.

Overuse injuries come in many forms and can be very painful. They can also hinder performance. Fortunately, they can easily be prevented with proper care and good form.

SOURCE: Jessica Moyer, PT, DPT, owner, Viva Stretch, Jacksonville, Fla.

Fiber: It's Important to Your Child's Diet, Too

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FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Just like adults, children need lots of fiber in their diets.

Fiber is part of what fuels a child’s normal growth and development. It helps them feel full longer, controls blood sugar levels, reduces cholesterol and promotes regular bowel movements, according to Children's Health of Orange County, Calif. (CHOC).

"We see improvements in disease management like diabetes with lower spikes in blood sugar after meals when fiber intake is adequate. Improved satisfaction and satiety from the food we are consuming is evident when they contain more fiber, and this ultimately impacts weight management," said Stephanie Di Figlia-Peck, nutrition coordinator at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York City.

A child who is still hungry will continue to eat, she said, so "a filling, satisfying, higher fiber meal will end the eating episode sooner."

However, most American children aren't getting enough fiber in their diet. A recent study in the journal BMC Pediatrics found that few young children were getting the recommended amount of fiber in their diet. Those who got more fiber tended to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nut butter and legumes, along with fewer fats.

"Fiber tends to be the misunderstood, scarcely present dietary constituent that eludes many. This is especially true for today’s youth who eat more processed, and ultra-processed, foods than generations of the past," Di Figlia-Peck noted.

Foods are stripped of their natural dietary fibers as they are transformed into packaged items with innumerable ingredients, combined to manufacture convenient, doctored versions of the foods they once were, she said.

"Many high-fiber items contain prebiotics that fuel the gut microbiome, facilitating a winning partnership as undigestible plant components from dietary fibers, like inulin, chicory root and resistant starch, provide a fuel source for the abundant, vitally important network of bacteria and organisms that modulate health, impact disease risk and enhance well-being," Di Figlia-Peck said.

These microbiome benefits are important for all ages and it is never too early to start eating more fiber, she said.

How much fiber do kids need?

Children ages 1 to 3 need about 14 grams of fiber a day, children ages 4 to 8 need about 16-20 grams, kids ages 9 to 13 need about 22-25 grams and those ages 14 to 18 need about 25-31 grams, CHOC says.

It can be difficult to know how much fiber is in foods by reading the package label, Di Figlia-Peck said.

"Food labels are inherently confusing when the wording on packaging fails to match numbers on the nutrition facts panel," she said.

A common example encountered on cereal packaging may highlight "made with 12 grams of whole grains," yet the label reflects a mere 1 or 2 grams of fiber in the box.

High-fiber foods for kids

Fiber-rich foods for kids include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

There's lots of fiber in grains like oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and air-popped popcorn. Fiber-rich legumes include kidney beans, lentils and black beans. Edamame (soybeans) and almonds are also fiber-rich, according to CHOC.

Vegetables rich in fiber include broccoli, avocado and jicama. Fruits like raspberries, blackberries, pears, oranges, bananas and apples are also rich in fiber.

One large pear with skin has 7 grams of fiber, one cup of fresh raspberries has 8 grams of fiber, half of a medium avocado has 5 grams of fiber, 1 ounce of almonds has 3.5 grams of fiber, half a cup of cooked black beans has 7.5 grams of fiber, 3 cups air-popped popcorn has 3.6 grams of fiber, and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds have 10 grams of fiber, Di Figlia-Peck said.

Some less well-known fiber powerhouses include dark chocolate (70% or higher) and apples. "Dietary fiber intakes are best tolerated with adequate hydration and a gradual introduction and increase in fiber sources," she noted.

For even more fiber-rich foods see the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Getting fiber into your kid's diet

"Making food fun and enjoyable improves acceptance, and theme nights can be a fun way to entice children and adolescents with catchy names and wordplay," Di Figlia-Peck said. "Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday and Salad-Bar Saturday are all the craze."

Here are more tips to increase the amount of fiber in your child’s diet:

  • Leave the skins on fruits and vegetables
  • Use whole wheat flour
  • Replace white bread and cereals with whole grains
  • Add fruit to whole-grain cold or hot cereals
  • Add fruit, nuts or whole-grain granola to yogurt
  • Add vegetables to scrambled eggs, omelets or pasta
  • Aim to offer whole grains that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • Choose whole fruit instead of juice
  • Include fruit and vegetables with every meal
  • Put veggies, like lettuce, tomato or avocado on sandwiches
  • Add beans to soups and salads
  • Add bran to baked goods
  • For snacks, offer air-popped popcorn, whole-grain crackers, fruit or vegetables.

"Enormous potential exists to shape habits and make eating high-fiber foods the norm, not the exception, with family-based meal planning," Di Figlia-Peck said. "Families have a multitude of options to utilize plant-based sources to create high-fiber versions of common delicacies."

SOURCE: Stephanie Di Figlia-Peck, MS, RDN, Lead Registered Dietitian Pediatric Service Line, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, New York City

What Is the Mediterranean Diet, and How Can It Help You?

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THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- If you're looking for a healthy way to eat that has stood the test of time, the Mediterranean diet may be your best bet.

"There are many health benefits to the Mediterranean diet," said Rahaf Al Bochi, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "The Mediterranean diet has been associated with lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and cognitive decline. It is also associated with improved fertility and pregnancy outcomes."

But exactly what is the Mediterranean diet?

"The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, herbs and spices," Al Bochi said. "Dairy, fish and poultry are consumed a few times a week, whereas red meat and processed meat is enjoyed less frequently."

It also emphasizes mindfulness and enjoyment of food. "Part of that is to be mindful of your body’s hunger and fullness cues, to guide you on the amount of food to be consumed, and that would help you reach your health goals," she said.

"The Mediterranean diet is more than just foods to eat," Al Bochi said. "It is a lifestyle that encourages eating with friends and family, socializing over meals, mindfully eating food and incorporating daily movement."

How to begin the Mediterranean diet

"To get started, focus on one food you can add to your meals and build on that starting point," Al Bochi said.

The American Heart Association says that the Mediterranean diet is a term that describes traditional eating habits in the 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. While it focuses on healthy eating, it allows for moderate amounts of wine with meals and dessert is OK, though it is usually fruit rather than sweets.

The diet also limits added sugars, sugary drinks, salty, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.

This type of diet has many health benefits, including a big role in helping to prevent heart disease and stroke, by preventing obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Mediterranean diet health benefits

All that healthy eating translates into better health, experts say.

Some evidence exists that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may help the body remove excess cholesterol and keep blood vessels open, the AHA says.

And commenting on a recent study in the journal Neurology about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet for brain health, Heather Snyder, vice president for medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association, said the diet might also help ward off dementia.

"When we look at Alzheimer's and cognition and cognitive decline, we have consistently seen diets like the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower risk in later life. What they all have in common is that a balanced diet makes sure your brain has the nutrients that it needs," Snyder said. "I think what we know is what's good for your heart is good for your brain, so eat a balanced diet."

A Mediterranean diet food list

Harvard Health suggests switching from the fats you use now to extra virgin olive oil in cooking, salad dressings and instead of butter. Here are some other foods you want to eat:

  • Have a handful of raw nuts every day as a replacement for processed snacks.
  • Add whole-grain bread or other whole grains to your meals. Use dense, chewy, country-style loaves without added sugar or butter. Try bulgur, barley, farro, couscous and whole-grain pasta.
  • Begin or end each meal with a salad. Choose crisp, dark greens and seasonal vegetables.
  • Add more and different vegetables to the menu, at least three to four servings a day.
  • Eat at least three servings a week of legumes like lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas.
  • Eat less meat, consuming it only occasionally or use it accompanied by lots of vegetables, as in stews, stir-fries and soups. Eat two to three servings of fish and poultry a week.
  • Drink a moderate amount of wine instead of other alcoholic beverages. Replace beer or liquors with wine. (Two 5-ounce glasses per day for men, and one glass per day for women.)
  • Cut out sugary drinks. Replace soda and juices with water.
  • Eat fewer high-fat, high-sugar desserts, and instead enjoy poached or fresh fruit. Save cakes and pastries for special occasions.
  • Get the best quality food available.

SOURCE: Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LD, Olive Tree Nutrition, spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Athletic Heart Syndrome: What It Is, Symptoms and Treatments

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THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- It’s no secret that athletic endurance and strength go hand-in-hand with a healthy heart.

“Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, enabling it to pump a greater volume of blood with each heartbeat,” said Dr. Deepak Bhatt, editor of the Harvard Heart Letter, in a recent Q&A.

The enlarged heart muscles that athletes may develop are also the hallmark of a condition known as athletic heart syndrome (AHS), often called "athlete’s heart," according to the Cleveland Clinic.

What is athletic heart syndrome?

When a person does vigorous-intensity exercise for more than an hour a day on the majority of days, changes in the heart may occur, according to the Cleveland Clinic. One of the main changes is thickening of the left ventricle wall. Another marker of AHS is that the space in your left ventricle gets larger.

A study of Olympic athletes published inCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging revealed that AHS shows up differently in the hearts of women and men, although electrical and muscular size changes occurred in the hearts of both.

Compared to men, women in the study had relatively larger increases in the size of their right and left ventricle cavities. The absolute dimensions of these cavities in women were smaller than those of men.

An electrical measurement called T-wave inversion (which can indicate the presence of heart trauma or disease) was also more common in women than in men. Finally, the inflow/outflow ratio between the ventricles was higher in women than in men. That ratio for the right ventricle was, however, lower in women than in men.

Lead author Dr. Flavio D'Ascenzi, an assistant professor of sports cardiology at the University of Siena in Italy, said in a statement that these results indicate “a sex-based approach for interpreting the complex features of 'athlete's heart' in women is needed."

What are the symptoms of AHS?

Athletic heart syndrome has no symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, that's one feature that may distinguish AHS from serious heart disease or trauma. Chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath, and lower performance levels are all associated with serious heart conditions.

Even though AHS has no symptoms, “endurance athletes and other people who exercise a great deal often have lower-than-average heart rates, sometimes even below 40 beats per minute,” Bhatt said. “More oxygen gets delivered to the muscles, so the heart needs to beat fewer times than it would in a less-fit person while at rest.”

Is athletic heart syndrome dangerous?

A study of more than 21,000 men published in JAMA Cardiology revealed that high-volume, high-intensity exercise did not raise the risk of heart disease in middle-aged male athletes.

“For the past decade or so, there's been increasing concern that high-volume, high-intensity exercise could injure the heart," lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Levine said in a news release on the study. "We found that high volumes of exercise are safe.” He's a sports cardiologist and professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

While AHS is not dangerous to athletes’ health, it does share some features in common with certain heart conditions that may be harmful, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In particular, a set of conditions that affect the heart muscles, collectively known as cardiomyopathy, could be a reason for the heart’s size and electrical changes.

For this reason, health professionals will use several tools to test an athlete’s heart. The diagnostic tests include an echocardiogram to measure the heart’s shape and an electrocardiogram to measure its electrical output, as well as cardiopulmonary exercise testing; a chest X-ray; MRI imaging; and stress tests. These tests help determine if AHS is the sole cause of the heart’s changes, or if cardiomyopathy is present.

“We are cautious in interpreting test results,” Dr. Tamanna Singh, co-director of the Cleveland Clinic’s sports cardiology department, said in a recent newsletter. “Most positive findings in athletes with no heart disease symptoms are false positives. That’s why we rarely rely on a single test.”

How is athletic heart syndrome treated?

Since AHS is not considered a medical condition, no treatment is necessary, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Most athletes who want to reverse the syndrome can simply reduce their exercise training intensity and volume.

With athletic heart syndrome, you can expect your heart to stay healthy over the long term, making it one of the more positive "syndromes" known to science.

Five Great Cardio Workouts You Can Do at Home

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TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2023 -- You might have heard that doing cardio, or aerobic, exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart, lungs and cardiovascular system healthy and strong.

Yet finding the time for the gym or even a trip to the local park can be a challenge when work and home responsibilities start to add up.

The good news? There’s a growing list of exercises that are now considered to be "good cardio." The better news? A number of these are at-home cardio workouts that you can do in the comfort of your living space.

According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), adding in more "everyday" activities is a great way to get some moderate-intensity workouts.

Dr. Ben Levine, a cardiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, agrees. In a recent blog post, he said, "My patients often ask me, 'What's the best type of exercise for heart health?' Here's what I tell them: I don't care what type of exercise you do as long as you do something!"

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that to ensure you’re getting all the benefits of cardio exercise, your target heart rate should be 64%-76% of your maximum heart rate for moderate-intensity physical activity and 77%-93% for vigorous physical activity.

Here are five cardio workouts at home that can help you meet those guidelines, plus they’re affordable, require no travel time and might even help you check a few items off your weekly "to-do" chores list.

1. Jumping rope

According to the NHLBI, jumping rope for just 15 minutes is considered a moderate-intensity workout.

One recent study of college-aged males published in the Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology found that the group who jumped rope twice daily for 12 weeks had better rates of oxygen absorption by volume (known as VO2 max score) than the control group who engaged in their normal activities. This higher score indicates an improvement in fitness and health levels, especially heart and lung health, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

2. Climbing stairs

If you've got stairs leading to your apartment or inside your home, you’re in luck. Carrying heavy loads of groceries or other packages up the stairs could be considered a vigorous workout, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It recommends 75-150 minutes of this type of workout or 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week in its publication, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

"Moving more and sitting less have tremendous benefits for everyone," then HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar said in the introduction to the guidelines.

3. Cardio yoga

While not all forms of yoga will give you an aerobic workout, the HHS states in its Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that the more intense forms like power and Vinyasa yoga are considered moderate-intensity activities.

Yoga also strengthens muscles, and, according to one study published recently in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. In fact, it was significantly more effective than both traditional aerobic exercise and Zumba dance classes at lowering blood pressure.

The bottom line? "A regular exercise routine will help you keep your heart healthy for years to come. Jog, swim, golf, hike, play basketball, dance, do yoga -- whatever you love to do," said Levine.

4. Cleaning the house

Few people look forward to housecleaning, but if you apply the right kind of elbow grease, it just might double as your cardio workout. According to the NHLBI, washing the windows or floors for 45-60 minutes provides a moderate level of aerobic exercise.

What's more, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that older women who did a minimum of four hours a day of movement, including cooking and other housework, had a 43% lower risk of heart disease and a 30% lower risk of stroke than the women who did less than two hours a day of these chores.

"The study demonstrates that all movement counts towards disease prevention," study first author Steve Nguyen, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Diego, Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health, said when the study was published. "Spending more time in daily life movement, which includes a wide range of activities we all do while on our feet and out of our chairs, resulted in a lower risk of cardiovascular disease."

5. Gardening

Digging, moving plants, pulling weeds, raking and mowing can all get your heart rate up and help you break a sweat. In fact, the American Heart Association considers gardening a moderate-intensity aerobic workout.

"Why does gardening seem to be so beneficial to health? It combines physical activity with social interaction and exposure to nature and sunlight," Dr. Richard Thompson, past president of the Royal College of Physicians, said in an article published recently in the Clinical Medicine Journal.

"Working in the garden restores dexterity and strength, and the aerobic exercise that is involved can easily use the same number of calories as might be expended in a gym," he added.

Seafood in Pregnancy: To Eat or Not to Eat?

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TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women hear a lot of “Do this” and “Don’t do that” advice about what is safe to eat.

But one recommendation that’s particularly important involves seafood: During pregnancy, women need to eat enough seafood to gain the health benefits, but not so much to raise the risk of some significant consequences. They also need to be careful about how the fish they eat is prepared.

"Fish is an important source of nutrients, and its consumption should not be avoided," said Dr. Vaia Lida Chatzi, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), who led a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

"But pregnant women should stick to one to three servings of fish a week as recommended, and not eat more, because of the potential contamination of fish by mercury and other persistent organic pollutants," Chatzi advised.

Eating fish during pregnancy

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish are notable. These nutrients are credited with a lot of health gains — during and outside of pregnancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that one of the nutrients found in fish, choline, supports development of the baby’s spinal cord and cognitive development.

In the USC study on the health benefits of fish in pregnancy, the researchers found that the children of mothers who ate fish one to three times weekly during pregnancy had better waist circumference, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, all markers of metabolic health. That research was done when the children were aged 6 to 12.

Conversely, a study that measured the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA in pregnant women’s blood concluded that those with the lowest levels during the first and second trimesters were 10 times more likely to have a preterm birth compared to those with the highest levels. EPA and DHA are commonly found in fish. That research was published in the journal EBioMedicine.

A lack of fatty acids in the diet may cause cellular stress to the placenta or mother, Dr. Kelle Moley, senior vice president and chief scientific officer for the March of Dimes, said when the study was published.

"We should probably be making sure that women have these fatty acids in early pregnancy and throughout pregnancy," Moley added.

How much seafood can pregnant people eat?

Foodsafety.gov notes that fish provide protein, minerals and vitamins.

Among the nutrients in fish are omega-3 and omega-6 fats, iron, iodine, choline, protein, selenium and vitamins D and B12, according to the FDA.

The agency recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat 8 to 12 ounces of safe fish varieties each week.

Seafood to avoid during pregnancy

Some fish are just too problematic for pregnant moms in any quantity because they can contain high levels of methylmercury, according to the FDA. Mercury passes through the placenta, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that can harm the baby.

The FDA recommends avoiding:

  • king mackerel
  • marlin
  • orange roughy
  • shark
  • swordfish
  • tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico
  • bigeye tuna

Pregnant women should also avoid having more than one 6-ounce serving per week of certain fish, such as albacore tuna, because of its mercury content, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

If eating fish caught by friends or family, check for health advisories in those waterways or limit it to one serving of this and no other fish for the week, ACOG advised.

Safe seafood during pregnancy

The FDA offers an exhaustive list of fish that are considered “best choices” during pregnancy, as well as those that are “good choices.” It recommends two to three servings from the best list or one from the good choices list weekly. A serving is 4 ounces.

Best choices are:

  • Anchovy
  • Atlantic croaker
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Black sea bass
  • Butter fish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Cod
  • Crawfish
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Lobster (American and spiny)
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Pacific chub mackerel
  • Perch (freshwater and ocean)
  • Pickerel
  • Plaice
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Scallop
  • Shad
  • Shrimp
  • Skate
  • Smelt
  • Sole
  • Squid
  • Tilapia
  • Trout, freshwater
  • Tuna, canned light (includes skipjack)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

Good choices are:

  • Bluefish
  • Buffalofish
  • Carp
  • Chilean sea bass/Patagonian toothfish
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi mahi/dolphinfish
  • Monkfish
  • Rockfish
  • Sablefish
  • Sheepshead
  • Snapper
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Striped bass (ocean)
  • Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean)
  • Tuna, albacore/white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen
  • Tuna, yellowfin
  • Weakfish/seatrout
  • White croaker/Pacific croaker

Can you eat sushi when pregnant?

You really shouldn’t.

Foodsafety.gov lists sushi, sashimi and ceviche, as well as raw oysters, clams and scallops, as foods to be avoided by pregnant women because they may contain parasites or bacteria, including listeria, which has been linked to severe pregnancy complications.

All seafood should be cooked to 145° Fahrenheit, foodsafety.gov advises.

Use caution with smoked fish, too, also because of listeria risk, unless it’s cooked to 165° F, canned or shelf-stable.

Mayo Clinic offers some suggestions about knowing when fish is fully cooked: Fish should appear opaque and flaky; shellfish like scallops, shrimp and lobster should be milky white; and fish in shells that open, such as clams, should only be eaten once they’ve been cooked until open.

How to Stop Smoking Weed

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Cannabis dispensaries are cropping up nationwide now that marijuana is legal for medical and/or recreational use in many states.

But just because something is legal doesn't mean it's good for you (think: cigarettes and alcohol), especially when used in excess.

Marijuana has a high concentration of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the component in weed that gets you high. It can be smoked in joints, blunts, bongs and vape pens, or it can be consumed as "edibles" in food forms, such as weed brownies, gummies, cookies or cakes.

Risks of smoking weed

The health risks of smoking tobacco are well known, but the health risks associated with smoking weed are less publicized.

Brain changes

The THC in weed changes the way your brain works, just like other drugs do. It tends to affect the parts of the brain tasked with learning, attention, ability to make decisions, memory, reaction time, emotions and coordination. Developing brains are most at risk for these changes.

Excessive use of marijuana may cause a permanent IQ loss of as many as 8 points if you start smoking it at a young age, according to research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Today's marijuana is stronger than ever and may be addictive for some people. About 1 in 10 people who use marijuana will get hooked, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The younger you start, the greater your chances of addiction (about 1 in 6 if you start smoking weed before 18 years old), SAMHSA says.

Unlike addiction, marijuana use disorder occurs when you're not able to stop smoking marijuana or using it in its other forms, even if it's creating problems in your life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Other health risks

Other health risks may develop from smoking weed, including:

  • Relationship issues
  • Poorer educational achievement
  • Career achievement reduction
  • Long-term coughing
  • Excessive phlegm
  • Wheezing
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Immune system challenges

Smoking marijuana may also raise your risk of stroke, heart disease and other cardiac conditions.

Plus, if you're pregnant, smoking marijuana may cause low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth or complications with the baby's brain development.

How to stop smoking weed

Deciding to stop smoking weed is the first and most crucial step in your quitting journey. It can be difficult, especially if your friends all seem to enjoy it occasionally and without issue.

If weed affects major life factors, such as your career, relationships, finances or physical or mental health, it's likely time to consider kicking the habit.

If you don't know where to start, here are 5 ways to stop smoking weed:

Set a quit date

Pick a date, put it in writing and devise an actionable plan to stop smoking weed. Keep your reasons for quitting top of mind by writing them down so you can refer to them when you feel the urge to smoke weed.

Set yourself up to win: Checking in with a substance use counselor or addiction specialist may help you better understand your options and highlight the benefits of quitting marijuana.

Go cold turkey

Some people just immediately stop using weed on their quit date. The downside? Withdrawal symptoms.

Common signs of marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Weight changes

As a general rule, withdrawal symptoms usually last for 1 to 2 weeks. Some people may experience withdrawal symptoms for longer, especially if they're heavy users. This condition is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Set yourself up to win: Get rid of any marijuana bowls, bongs or pens around your home, as well as other supplies, such as rolling papers and lighters. Throw out any edibles.

Taper off

Tapering off weed involves gradually cutting back before your quit date deadline and decreasing your usage in small increments.

Set yourself up to win: Portion out marijuana ahead of time and cut down on your usage over a set period.

Join a support group

Regardless of whether you go cold turkey or taper off weed, joining a support group such as Marijuana Anonymous (MA) may help. This 12-step program involves regular meetings where attendees can share stories and tips on how to stay the course.

Set yourself up to win: Find an MA meeting that fits your schedule. Meetings are offered virtually, in-person and over the phone.

Treat any underlying health problems

Some people smoke weed to self-medicate emotional or physical problems, such as depression, anxiety, pain or sleep issues. Talking to your doctor about what else you can do to help relieve these underlying issues may help reduce the chances that you’ll turn back to marijuana.

Set yourself up to win: Stay up to date on all of your medical appointments so you can do all you can to help treat and prevent any underlying medical issues you may have.

Other troubleshooting tips

  • Avoid places, activities and people you associate with smoking weed after quitting, as these can be triggers.
  • Focus on the new things you're doing instead of smoking weed.
  • Keep your reasons for quitting at the top of your mind.
  • Quickly leave any environment that triggers your urge to get high.
  • Instead of giving in to an urge, call a friend or family member, head to a support group meeting, take an exercise class, go shopping or do another activity that takes your mind off smoking weed.

Staying the course will be easier when quitting weed's positive mental and physical effects become evident. They include:

  • Improved focus
  • More energy
  • Better moods
  • Greater motivation

You'll also stop coughing and wheezing and have less phlegm in your throat.

Cut yourself some slack

It's not easy to quit smoking weed, and relapses happen. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if you were a heavy user for many years, your chance of relapse begins to fall roughly 2 years after your last use and continues to drop over 5 years. For people who smoked less, your chance of relapse decreases at 2 weeks and continues to drop over 6 months from your last use. The key is not to let a slip-up be a significant setback. Instead, hit reset and start your quitting journey over.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): What We Know About Marijuana.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Marijuana.

American Lung Association (ALA): Marijuana and Lung Health.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Addiction (Marijuana or Cannabis Use Disorder).

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Is marijuana addictive?

Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation: The cannabis withdrawal syndrome: current insights.

Semel Institute at UCLA: Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).

Cleveland Clinic: How To Stop Smoking Weed.

Want to Lose Weight? Here Are the Best Exercises to Shed Pounds

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MONDAY, Jan. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to picking the best exercise to lose weight, there is no one right answer.

That's because the right answer is variety, mixing and matching types of exercise to keep the body guessing and improving.

"The body adapts to the demands we put on it," said Dr. Russell Camhi, who works in primary care sports medicine for Northwell Health's Orthopaedic Institute in East Meadow, N.Y.

"If we do the same exercise regimen over and over, results are bound to plateau," he explained. "Now this doesn’t mean you have to change exercises every day or every week, but a little variety will help the body change and grow."

The key to weight loss is a blend of exercise and nutrition, with the latter responsible for about 80% of the heavy lifting, according to Camhi.

It’s important to reduce calories while increasing physical activity, according to the Mayo Clinic, which recommends cutting about 500 to 750 calories a day to lose 1.5 pounds per week.`

Though diet plays a bigger role than exercise, physical activity can help with weight maintenance, as well as counter loss of bone density and muscle mass, the Mayo Clinic noted.

A high amount of physical activity would be necessary to lose weight unless also adjusting diet, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's not clear exactly how much exercise would be needed for weight maintenance because that varies greatly by person, according to the agency.

“Exercise is important and imperative for health and longevity, but all efforts to lose weight will fail without a nutrition program,” Camhi said.

A recent study published in the journal eBioMedicine found that for certain people who are slow to lose weight, exercise had an even bigger impact.

The ability of muscle cells to burn energy varies widely between people, senior study author Mary-Ellen Harper, research chair of mitochondrial bioenergetics at the University of Ottawa in Canada, noted when the study was published.

"We found that the slow losers responded much better to exercise than the fast losers did," Harper said.

Best exercise combo for weight loss

If a person's primary goal is to lose weight, Camhi suggests a combination of steady-state cardio and weight training.

The cardio session should be around 30 minutes, repeated about two to four times per week.

Weight-training sessions should be 30 to 60 minutes with sets of 8 to 12 reps per exercise and low rest time in between sets.

"Steady-state cardio will burn fat when in the target HR [heart rate] zone," Camhi said.

It’s easy to calculate the target zone. Just take 220 and subtract your age from that number to determine your maximum heart rate.

Your target heart rate zone is 50% to 70% of that number.

Heart rate monitors can be useful to track those numbers, Camhi said, but there are less technical ways to measure your exertion levels.

"Fat-burning zone is the point where you can hold a conversation, but it is a little challenging as you are primarily breathing through your mouth, not just your nose," Camhi said.

Getting started

It's important to start a cardio routine wisely. Begin with low-impact exercise, such as biking, swimming or using an elliptical machine, Camhi said. Walk on the treadmill, with running intervals.

Later, work up to full running or a step-climbing machine, once you’ve built up tolerance and have less risk of injury.

"Good entry weight-training exercises are squats, lunges, step-ups, pushups, rows, and planks," Camhi said. "It is imperative to include legs and large muscle groups when weight training for weight loss."

It's also important to keep your workouts fun to stay motivated, advises the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Take a class or work out with a buddy. Try dancing, yoga, karate or softball.

Meanwhile, cut back on screen time or other sedentary behaviors.

"The most important thing is that you do exercises that you enjoy and are practical, so that it is easier to sustain what you are doing," the NLM suggests.

Nutrition.gov suggests checking your body mass index (BMI) before you start and working with your doctor to come up with a goal for your weight loss.

Set an intermediate goal, such as 10 pounds. Even small amounts of weight loss can pay off in big health benefits, the website advises.

If you get stuck, be ready to shake it up.

"If progress plateaus for more than one to two weeks, it is time to change up your exercise routine," Camhi said.

SOURCE: Russell Camhi, DO, primary care sports medicine, Northwell Health's Orthopaedic Institute, East Meadow, N.Y.

The B Vitamins: Put Them on Your A List

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THURSDAY, Jan. 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- B vitamins. These powerhouse nutrients help your cells function at their best, protect your brain and heart, support your immune system and can even improve your mood and energy levels.

This critical class of vitamins needs to be part of a healthy diet.

According to Harvard Health, B vitamins help enzymes do their jobs, including releasing energy from carbohydrates and fat to breaking down amino acids and carrying oxygen and nutrients around the body.

Two of the most essential ones are B6 and B12.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is found in many foods, but it is also added to foods and supplements. B6 is a coenzyme that helps more than 100 enzymes perform various functions, including the breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, according to Harvard Health.

Meanwhile, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is found in meats and fish. It can also be added to foods or supplements. It's needed to make red blood cells and DNA, and it also has a role in the function and development of brain and nerve cells.

What is vitamin B6 good for

B6 helps maintain normal levels of the amino acid homocysteine, high levels of which can cause heart problems. B6 also supports the immune system and keeps the brain healthy.

A recent study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental found that taking vitamin B6 supplements may even help relieve depression and anxiety.

"The functioning of the brain relies on a delicate balance between the excitatory neurons that carry information around and inhibitory ones, which prevent runaway activity," study author David Field, an associate professor at the University of Reading's School of Psychology and Clinical Sciences in the United Kingdom, said when the research was published. “Vitamin B6 helps the body produce a specific chemical messenger that inhibits impulses in the brain, and our study links this calming effect with reduced anxiety among the participants.”

The Recommended Dietary Allowance of B6 for men aged 14 to 50 is 1.3 milligrams (mg). For those 51 and older, it is 1.7 mg. For women aged 14 to 18, it's 1.2 mg. For women aged 19 to 50 it's 1.3 mg, and for women 51 and over, 1.5 mg. During pregnancy and lactation, the amount increases to 2 mg, Harvard Health says.

Sometimes higher amounts of B6, up to 100 mg, are prescribed. High doses of B6 should only be done under the supervision of a doctor because too much B6 can be toxic.

Too much B6 can cause numbness in the feet and hands, loss of control of body movements and nausea, according to Harvard Health.

Vitamin B6 foods

Vitamin B6 is found in a variety of animal and plant foods:

  • Beef liver
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Fortified cereals
  • Chickpeas
  • Poultry
  • Some vegetables and fruits, especially dark leafy greens, bananas, papayas, oranges and cantaloupe

What is vitamin B12 good for

Vitamin B12 helps break down a protein called homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine are linked with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke because it can contribute to the formation of blood clots and free radical cells, and it affects normal blood vessel function. Inadequate vitamin B12 can increase levels of homocysteine.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men and women aged 14 and older is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) daily. For pregnancy and lactation, that increases to 2.8 mcg daily, according to Harvard Health.

No upper limit has been set for vitamin B12, as there is no toxic level. However, a recent study in the journal JAMA Network Open suggests that supplements of 25 mcg per day or higher may raise the risk of bone fractures.

On the other hand, vegetarian diets that exclude meat can result in a vitamin B12 deficiency with potentially serious health conditions.

One recent study in the BMJ found that although a vegetarian diet reduced the risk for heart disease, it increased the risk of stroke.

Commenting on the study, Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said, "Vegans and strict vegetarians need to be mindful of obtaining certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from their diet and supplements."

Heller advised: "You can't go wrong cutting back on red and processed meats such as beef, pork and ham, and adding lentils, chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower to your meals."

Vitamin B12 foods

Foods rich in B12 include:

  • Fish, shellfish
  • Liver
  • Red meat
  • Eggs
  • Poultry
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Enriched soy or rice milk

Is My Child Too Skinny? Advice on When to Be Concerned

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WEDNESDAY, Jan. 18, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- While childhood obesity gets a lot of attention, some kids struggle with the opposite issue — they have trouble gaining weight.

So, how can parents know if their child is “too skinny?”

While the best resource is likely a child’s pediatrician, experts have also weighed in on the topic.

“Underlying health conditions can result in children and adolescents being underweight. Additionally, underweight can indicate malnutrition,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in a recent study about the prevalence of underweight kids in the United States.

Just over 4% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 were underweight in the United States in 2018, according to the study.

To help figure out if your child is too skinny, here’s what to know.

Children are considered underweight when their body mass index (BMI) is below the 5th percentile for their age and gender on growth charts, according to the CDC study.

If a child is underweight, the pediatrician may ask more about medical history or could order testing to check for undiscovered health issues, Dr. Gary Kirkilas, a general pediatrician at Phoenix Children's Hospital, explained in a recent American Academy of Pediatrics article.

"Children below the 5th percentile could have a nutritional shortfall — either not taking in enough calories or burning up more calories than they are getting, or both," Kirkilas said. "There are also medical conditions and medications that can cause kids to gain or lose weight more easily. Most children have multiple contributing factors to their body weight."

Warning signs

Parents can watch for several signs that their child may be underweight, pediatric registered dietitian Jennifer Hyland said in a recent Cleveland Clinic article.

Signs that a child may be underweight include declining on the growth chart at annual pediatric visits.

Other concerns would be that they’re not outgrowing clothes each season. Their ribs may also stick out, Hyland added.

Your child’s doctor has been recording your child’s weight and height over time, according to Nemours Children’s Health. The doctor can look at a full array of clinical information when evaluating your child's weight, including health, physical activity, eating habits and family medical history.

It’s possible that kids in that 5th percentile range could be short on nutrients — either not eating enough or burning more than they’re eating, the AAP said.

Health issues that can cause a child to be underweight include food allergies, hormonal or digestive problems or medications, such as those used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the Cleveland Clinic story.

Hectic sports schedules for older kids may also contribute to being underweight.

And diet also makes a difference: In a recent study in the journal Pediatrics on meat-free diets, vegetarian children were about twice as likely to be underweight, though 94% of the 9,000 kids in the study were not underweight.

It may also simply be that your child is a picky eater, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

This is more of a trait than a phase, according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics.

While 29% of the 300 kids in that study ate all foods offered, about 14% were considered picky. None of the kids in that particular study were underweight.

Still, "it can be very stressful for parents to deal with a picky eater," senior researcher Dr. Megan Pesch, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, said at the time.

Simple exposure to different foods could help, Pesch suggested.

Gaining weight

Hyland advised against eating in front of electronics, excessive snacking or using fruit juices and protein powders to encourage weight gain.

Instead, she suggested adding olive oil or other healthy oils and nut butters.

For anyone aged 2 and up, a healthy meal pattern will include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, protein foods and oils, according to the CDC, which also noted that “empty calories” make up about 40% of children’s diets. Sodas and desserts were among the big offenders.

How can you help skinny kids gain weight in a healthy way?

Keep meals and snacks nutrient-rich, advised the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Good protein sources also include eggs, bean soups and hummus, according to the academy. Add avocado slices to burgers and salads. Smoothies can boost calories and be loaded with nutrients.

“If your child is getting enough calories but still does not seem to be gaining weight appropriately, continue to work with [your] doctor to discover any underlying conditions,” the academy noted. “Chances are good, though, that with some patience and conscientious meal and snack plans, your child will strike a healthy height and weight balance.”