Recession’s Health Toll

Many Americans lost their jobs, homes, and retirement savings during the Great Recession, and new research indicates such economic stress can make people physically sick. Between 2007 and 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate doubled from 5 percent to 10 percent and home prices plummeted about 30 percent, on average. Researchers analyzed a long-running heart study to determine how the country’s economic woes affected American health. After examining data collected on 4,600 middle-aged and older adults between 2000 and 2012, they found the recession triggered dramatic increases in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reports The Washington Post. The study also shows that many people stopped taking their medication during the recession—likely because they could no longer afford it or had lost their insurance. Study author Teresa Seeman warns that economic stress, political volatility, and international conflict all may contribute to a range of chronic health issues. “It will be interesting to (Read More)

Saunas’ Heart Benefits

A good sweat in the sauna may be as beneficial for your heart as moderate exercise. That’s the finding of a new study from Finland, which investigated the effects of a 30-minute sauna session on 102 middle aged adults with at least one risk factor associated with heart disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, or high cholesterol. When participants stepped out of a 160-degree dry-heat sauna, their blood pressure had dropped by an average of seven points and their arteries gained elasticity, reports Time.com. Their heart rates had also risen, from an average of 65 beats per minute before the sauna to 81 beats after. “At the moment, we can say that sauna use is recommended, and it seems that more is beneficial,” says study co-author Tanjaniina Laukkanen. The positive effects of saunas are likely linked to heat exposure, which can widen blood vessels and improve blood flow. Sweating also (Read More)

Sun Exposure Reduces Blood Pressure

A little time in the sun can do more than just give you a tan; it may help reduce your blood pressure. The incidence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease correlates with latitude and increases during winter, and researchers from the University of Edinburgh set out to find out why. They hypothesized that the seasonal and latitudinal associations with hypertension could be related to the effects of the sun’s UV radiation on nitric oxide (NO) in the skin, in light of the fact that NO metabolites are abundant in human skin. In the body, NO typically has a vasodilating effect, facilitating blood flow and reducing blood pressure. In 24 healthy volunteers, irradiation of the skin with UVA lowered blood pressure with decreases in circulating NO and increases in NO metabolites. Dietary interventions to increase circulating NO had no effect on these UVA-induced changes, which suggests that the blood pressure reduction was (Read More)

Slash Your Risk of Stroke by 42 Percent with Vitamin C

Each year, over 15 million people worldwide suffer from a stroke. As the second-leading cause of disability and death in people over the age of 60, stroke is devastatingly common. Fortunately, a familiar nutrient can drastically reduce the odds of it occurring. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Stroke: A Journal of Cerebral Circulation found vitamin C to be exceptionally helpful in preventing strokes. Identification and Health Consequences When blood circulation to the brain fails, either from an obstruction or blood vessel rupture, brain cells begin to die from lack of oxygen, indicating that we’ve had a stroke. The event doesn’t discriminate between race, sex or nationality – even babies within the womb can have a stroke. The three different classifications include: Ischaemic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel to the brain becomes blocked. This is the most common form, accounting for 87 percent of (Read More)

Heat for your Heart

Frequent use of sauna can help keep you from developing high blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease, says a study from the University of Eastern Finland. A long-term study found that the risk was reduced by 46 percent in men who had a sauna at least four times a week when compared to those who only had one sauna a week.

Runners Live Longer

Running for two hours a week could add about three years to your life, a new study suggests. Analyzing existing literature on the link between exercise and longevity, a research team found that running at any pace is associated with an up to 40 percent lower risk for premature death, The New York Times reports. The researchers suspect that running reduces common risk factors, including high blood pressure and extra body fat, but say it’s also possible that runners are more likely to have other healthy habits, such as eating healthfully and not smoking. For reasons that aren’t clear, the benefits of other forms of exercise, such as walking and biking, weren’t as striking, accounting for a roughly 12 percent drop in risk of early death. Overall, most people who laced up their sneakers for two hours weekly would end up running nearly six months over the course of 40 (Read More)

Midlife Weight Gain

Americans tend to gain a pound of two each year between early adulthood and middle age. That gradual weight gain may not seem to be a cause for concern, but Harvard scientists warn that the extra pounds add up and significantly increase the risk for chronic health issues and early death. The researchers analyzed the health records of about 118,000 people. Women gained an average of 22 pounds between the ages of 18 and 55, while men packed an average of 19 pounds. The study found that a gain of five pounds was the threshold for health problems. For every 11 pounds a person gained, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose by 30 percent, for high blood pressure by 14 percent, and for cancer by 6 percent. Study author Frank Hu tells MedicalDaily.com that “even a modest around of weight gain may have important health consequences.”

Juicing Vs. Blending

From late night commercials to in-store demos, the battle between the health benefits of juicing and blending is heating up. While these two methods of turning vegetables and fruit into drinks share some similarities, each have its own pros and cons. Here is a quick guide to help you choose the method that is right for you. Juicing Everyone is familiar with drinking fruit juice; orange and apple juice are part of everyday eating. However, did you know you can juice any fruit or vegetable? Juicers let you get the health benefits of raw food quickly and easily. There are many great health benefits from juicing. Juiced food is digested more easily by your body than whole foods. Juicing extracts the nutrients from bulky foods into a relatively small amount of liquid, allowing micronutrients to be easily accessible to your body. Juicing is also pulp free, which will make you (Read More)

Pumpkin: A Super Food

Highly nutritious and loaded with antioxidants, pumpkins are a great super food to incorporate into your diet this fall. Usually used for decor, this under appreciated squash is one of the most beneficial foods that a person can eat. Moreover, it’s inexpensive, available year round either in its whole form or in can form, and can be used in hundreds of different tasty, yet nutritious recipes. Benefits of Eating Pumpkin: Raw pumpkin contains just 15 calories per 1/2 cup Pumpkin is  full of iron, zinc, and fiber- important nutrients for children and women Pumpkin’s bright orange color is a sign that the plant contains high amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene Pumpkins are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Canned pumpkin has less fiber than fresh pumpkin, but more beta carotene.  Pumpkin seeds (Read More)

Let’s Talk Stress [INFOGRAPHIC]

It appears that Americans are having a collective freak-out.  77% of all Americans suffer physical symptoms of stress on a daily basis. Fear and anxiety about politics and the future of the country are a significant source of stress for nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S., new research has found. The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey paints a grim picture of the nation’s collective mental health. Nearly 60 percent of the 3,440 people polled say they consider the present day to be the “lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember,” reports Fortune.com. Pessimism is highest among Democrats and Millennials, but also affects most Republicans and older adults who lived through World War II and Vietnam. “We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” says Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association. The uncertainty and generalized anxiety people have about the country, he said, “feels unique to (Read More)