Cancer Mistakes: Fixing Them Before Affected or Fatal

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death around the globe. In the United States, men have just under a one in two chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, while women have a little more than one in three risk, according to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Cancer Facts & Figures 2009.

While about 5 percent of cancers are thought to be hereditary, a far greater amount are influenced by factors within your control. As ACS states:

“Increasingly, researchers agree that poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are among the most important contributors to cancer risk … Except for quitting smoking, one of the most important ways to help reduce your cancer risk is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, to be physically active on a regular basis, and to make healthy food choices.
The evidence for this is strong: Each year, about 550,000 Americans die of cancer; fully one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying excess weight.”

Your Weight Influences Your Cancer Risk

While it’s well known that smoking will increase your cancer risk, it is lesser known that obesity can as well. And in fact a 500-page report, “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective” — put together by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund — analyzed more than 7,000 clinical trials and found obesity already causes as many cases of cancer as smoking, and one day may surpass it. Likewise, a UK study of more than 1 million women found that increasing body mass index (BMI, a standard for measuring your weight to height ratio) was associated with a significant increase in the risk of cancer for 10 of the 17 cancer types they examined. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine back in 2003 also found that
overweight and obesity may account for 20 percent of all cancer deaths among U.S. women, and 14 percent of those among men. In all, the study found that 90,000 cancer deaths could be prevented every year if Americans maintained healthy body weights.

What’s Your Diet Got to do With It?

Your diet impacts your cancer risks even independent of your weight, for good or for bad. One federal study of more than half a million American men and women found that eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily for 10 years gave men a 22 percent greater risk of dying from cancer compared with men who ate just 5 ounces of red meat a week.

Women who ate a lot of red meat had a 20 percent greater risk of dying from cancer than did women who ate less.
Processed foods, including white flour, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup and others, also increase your cancer risk. A Canadian study of over 400 men aged 50 to 80 found those whose eating habits fell into the “processed” pattern (processed meats, red meat, organ meats, refined grains, vegetable oils and soft drinks) had a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer than men in the other groups. Men who ate the most processed foods had a 2.5-fold increased prostate cancer risk. Yet another study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers, and

Prevention found that refined carbohydrates like white flour, sugar and high fructose corn syrup is also linked to cancer. The study of more than 1,800 women in Mexico found that those who got 57 percent or more of their total energy intake from refined carbohydrates had a 220 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who ate more balanced diets.

On the other hand, healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, can reduce your risk significantly. For instance, researchers isolated phytochemicals called glucosinolates from broccoli sprouts. When chopped, chewed and digested, these compounds change into isothiocyanates, which are powerful compounds that may inhibit cancer.

In a study by Ohio State University researchers, the isothiocyanates were able to stop cancer cells from spreading in two human bladder cancer cell lines and one mouse cell line. What’s more, the compounds had the greatest effect on the most aggressive of the cancers. Another good example are raspberries, which contain ellagic acid. Research at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) found ellagic acid slows the growth of abnormal colon cells in humans and prevents cells infected with human papilloma virus (HPV), which is linked to cervical cancer, from developing.

Countless studies have linked a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet to fighting off cancer, so for best results try to include as many fresh fruits and veggies in your diet as possible.

Exercise Your Way to a Lower Cancer Risk

A lack of physical activity is also a cancer red flag. For instance, the Nurses’ Health Study found that moderate exercise of one or more hours a day reduced women’s colon cancer risk by 30 percent, compared to women who exercised less. “Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control, and can also reduce your risk by influencing hormone levels and your immune system,” ACS reports.

Priming Your Genes to Fight Cancer

It’s interesting, and important, to note that your genes play a major role in whether or not you develop cancer — but not in the way you might think. If you have a family history of a certain cancer, it does not necessarily mean you will get it. Your genes may or may not express this tendency, which is just as true in a person with a family history as without. What directs your genes to either express a certain disease or not is often related to external factors, such as your diet and even your stress levels.

As ACS reports: “All cancers involve the malfunction of genes that control cell growth and division … most cancers do not result from inherited genes but from damage to genes occurring during one’s lifetime. Genetic damage may
result from internal factors, such as hormones or the metabolism of nutrients within cells, or external factors, such as tobacco, chemicals, and sunlight.”

Take, for example, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that dietary
changes, exercise and stress reduction changed the expression of hundreds of genes in men with prostate cancer. In some cases, the healthy lifestyle positively affected genes that help fight cancer, while in others it turned off genes
that promote cancer development. This also helps to explain why cancer can sometimes recur after treatment such a surgery, even if you’ve been told all the cancer was “removed” and you’re in the clear. As reported by Newsweek, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients’ eating habits influenced whether or not colon cancer returned after surgical removal. Those who ate a Western diet were three times as likely to have the
cancer return compared to those who ate a healthier diet that was rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat.

“The surgery clearly had not removed all their colon-cancer cells: prior to the surgery, some cells had already spread from the primary tumor. The Western diet had somehow stimulated the growth of these small deposits of residual cancer cells,” Newsweek reported.

Cancer Preventive Lifestyle Tips

There are plenty of steps you can take to protect your health and fight cancer as much as possible. Some of the best strategies to try out include:

  • Lose Weight
  • Quit Smoking
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Drinking alcohol in excess increases your risk of various cancers.
  • Eat More Raw Foods. Not only do certain cooking methods generate cancer causing substances, but raw foods are rich in health-boosting enzymes that are destroyed by cooking. Enzymes help you to assimilate and digest nutrients, produce and regulate hormones, and renew and repair your cells, among countless other

For those of you interested in trying out some delicious, enzyme-rich raw food recipes, the book “Alive in 5:” Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes is highly recommended. Even those who are new to raw foods will enjoy the simple recipes (most can be prepared in five minutes!) for lasagna, spaghetti marinara, stuffed mushrooms, broccoli in cheese sauce, apple pie and more.

  • Eat More Fruits and Vegetables: They’re loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients,
    such as phytoestrogens.
  • Limit Intake of Processed Meats and Trans Fats: Processed meats, like lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon and sausages, have been linked to prostate and other cancers.
  • Exercise Regularly. Exercise will reduce your risk of just about every type of cancer.
  • Avoid Exposure to Environmental Chemicals and Air Pollution. As air pollution inside the home is one of the fastest-growing causes of disease, leading health organizations now strongly recommend you use a high-quality air purifier in your home.

Meanwhile, dirt and the dust it turns into in your home is generally composed of about 20 “ingredients,” and many of them are toxic. To properly rid your home of this dust and dirt, throw away the cotton mops, sponges, cotton rags and common household cleaning solutions like Pine-Sol. Chemical cleaners, meanwhile, are primary sources of phenols that can cause respiratory, cardiac and other bodily damage.

  • Get the Proper Amount of Vitamin D. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels is known to protect against cancer, according to the Vitamin D Council. Experts say 15-20 minutes of sunlight a day is an ideal amount for a light-skinned person to produce the right amount of vitamin D.

Manage Your Stress. Positive emotions and reduction of stress support your immune system, which may contribute to slowing the progress of cancer and warding it off in the first place. As ACS points out, “Ten or more years often pass between exposure to external factors and detectable cancer.” What this means is that during this time you may be able to make lifestyle changes that can stop cancer from occurring in your body. Now is the time to start taking advantage of the steps that can keep you, and your family, well.


The Healing and Strengthening Power of Touch

The power of touch is displayed perhaps no more poignantly than during the first few months of life. Babies who are not hugged and held during these first months will not thrive and grow like their cuddled peers. In fact, a study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that infants who were held, snuggled and touched had better
mental and motor skills than those who were not. Physical touch is so important that the Medical
Center actively recruits volunteer “cuddlers” to help give the nearly 700 critically ill newborns in their care
each year regular hugs and snuggles. “We know the importance of tactile stimulation to an infant’s overall health and well-being,” Dr. Robert Kimura, chair of neonatology, told the Los Angeles Times. “These folks are invaluable members of the healthcare team.”

But we need physical touch not only as babies; we also need it as adults. Studies have shown that therapeutic touch benefits adults in the following ways:

  • Reduces stress (touching releases two feel good brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine)
  • Lessens pain
  • Reduces symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease such as restlessness, pacing, vocalization, searching and tapping

One study even found that women’s anxiety about potentially receiving a mild electric shock diminished
significantly when they touched their husband’s hand, and also lessened to some degree by touching a stranger’s hand.

Touch is a Powerful Form of Communication, Stress Relief

A pat on the arm or a high-five can sometimes express far more than words. According to Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, touch is actually “our richest means of emotional expression.”

As the New York Times recently reported, even brief episodes of touch can communicate a wide variety of powerful emotions, emotions that have a significant impact on other people.

For instance:

  • Students whose teacher gave them a supportive touch on the back or arm were nearly twice as likely to volunteer in class.
    A sympathetic touch from a doctor gives patients the impression that their appointment lasted twice as long.A massage from a loved one can ease pain and depression while strengthening your relationship

Research by psychologist Dr. Karen Grewen also found that hugging and handholding reduces the effects of stress. Two groups of couples were asked to talk about an angry event, but one group had previously held hands and hugged, while the others sat alone.

It was found that:

  • Blood pressure increased significantly more among the no-contact group as compared to the huggers.
  • Heart rate among those without contact increased 10 beats a minute, compared to five beats a minute for huggers.

What’s more, Grewen suggests that warm contact such as hugs and handholding before the start of a rough day “could carry over and protect you throughout the day.”

What are Some Ways to Benefit from Touch?

One of the simplest ways is to hold hands with your spouse, hug your friend or neighbor, and be generous with pats on the back, high-fives, fist bumps and other forms of physical communication. You can also get a massage, from either a loved one or a professional massage therapist. Massage therapy decreases stress hormones in your body
and, according to the Touch Research Institute:

  • Facilitates weight gain in preterm infants
  • Enhances attentiveness
  • Alleviates depressive symptoms
  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces stress hormones
  • Improves immune function

If you’re giving or getting a massage at home, use a non-greasy massage oil that is completely natural (i.e. containing only beeswax, lanolin and light mineral oil). Another great way to experience the profound benefits of touch is with Reiki, a gentle, hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan. This ancient form of energy healing
is based on the idea that we all have an invisible “life force energy” (or Ki) that flows through our bodies and causes us to be alive. This energy, however, is often disrupted by our own negative thoughts and feelings (both
conscious and unconscious ones). If your Ki becomes too low, you are at an increased risk of becoming stressed out, sick, tired and unhappy. During Reiki, a practitioner channels the healing energy through their hands and into the

The energy naturally flows where the negative thoughts and feelings are attached, thereby clearing any blockages and restoring a normal flow of energy. In other words, Reiki clears and heals the clouded energy pathways and allows the life force to flow through again. Staying “in Touch” Mentally is Important Too Physical touch is incredibly important, but it’s also beneficial to stay mentally in touch with those around you as well. So often we remain isolated, even as we’re surrounded by countless people each day.

Reaching out with a smile, friendly hello and deeper, meaningful conversations will add much fulfillment to your life. If you find it difficult to stay in touch with those around you, including your friends and family, don’t be hesitant to take advantage of technology. You can use Skype to reconnect with loved ones all over the world, for instance, or send photos back and forth to share
even while you’re apart. And while you’re together, engage in meaningful activities such as taking walks and
exercising together that can strengthen your emotional bond while enhancing your health. Spend time together with your loved ones while getting in a workout.

Also take advantage of meal times, rides in the car, even trips to the grocery store to catch up and share the little details of your day with one another. You may also benefit immensely by setting aside time each week specifically to chat with your significant other.

As Dr. Peter Reznik, a mind/body integrative therapist stated:

“One of the ways to help your romantic relationship thrive is to have regular “state of the union” dialogues. That is, once a week create a special time (it may be only 10-15 minutes), during which you sit in front of each other and
ask questions like “Where are we as a couple?” and “Has there been anything that we must discuss?”

If one or both of the partners has grievances the other is not to explain why they did what they did, unless they are specifically asked, but to say, “I am sorry this {whatever the problem is} made you feel uncomfortable, what can I
do to make things better for you?” A “state of the union” discussion will be most fruitful when sharing statements
are used, as opposed to accusations.” You can adjust this exercise to use with your children, parents, siblings and close friends as well, and use it regularly to stay in touch with those around you.

Ideally, you’ll embrace a combination of physical touch and mental closeness with those in your life. This will lead to more fulfilling relationships and closeness in your personal ties that makes life worth living! French couples touch three times more time touching than American couples. So what are we waiting for? Grab your partner, friend or family member and give them a big hug today… tomorrow … and even twice or more a day!
Of course we are also advocates of holding hands in public, known by many as PDA (Public Display of Affection) — especially those married for 10 years or more. Go for it … and Enjoy Life that Much More … Every Day!

Do Sports Drinks Really Work … and Are They Healthy?

We won’t mention any names, but one of the country’s leading sports drinks claims its “unique blend of fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrates has been shown time and again to be an optimal hydrator, keeping athletes at the top of their game.”

Among its benefits, the sports drink’s website says, are a special blend of sodium, potassium and chloride that
replenishes minerals lost through sweat, along with electrolytes to help regulate a number of body functions.

But a closer inspection of the sports drink label reveals ingredients that are arguably not healthy at all. Among them
high-fructose corn syrup, listed as the #2 ingredient after water, sucrose syrup (a sugar solution) and yellow 5, an
artificial food coloring.

What’s Wrong With These Ingredients?
Most people drinking sports drinks do so because they think they’re a healthy way to rehydrate after a sports game or

But downing most sports drinks is akin to downing a few cans of soda. For starters, using the ingredients from the sports drink label mentioned earlier, is high fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that may be worse for you than sugar. Many experts have, in fact, suggested that HFCS, particularly those in sweetened drinks, are at least partly responsible for the obesity epidemic in America. 

When glucose is consumed, a set of reactions occur in your body allowing it to be used as energy, and production of leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite and fat storage, is increased. Meanwhile, ghrelin, a stomach hormone, is reduced, which is thought to help hunger go away.

When fructose is consumed, however, it “appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn’t increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin.
That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain.”
Next, most sports drinks contain even more added sugar, which may give you a burst of energy in the short-term but will inevitably be followed by a major crash. Yellow 5, which gives this particular sports drink its characteristic bright yellow glow, can cause allergic reactions, primarily in people sensitive to aspirin.

Research has shown that sports drinks can also erode tooth enamel, even more than carbonated cola products, especially if you sip them for long periods of time. Drinking Sports Drinks May Negate Your Entire Workout
If you’re running a marathon or engaging in some other type of extremely intense exercise for a long period of time, the extra calories, sugar and electrolytes in a sports drink may be justifiable.

But for the average gym-goer or child in sports after school, water is sufficient to rehydrate
your body. “Unless they’re running marathons, which we do not recommend for kids, water is the best choice for quenching their thirst,” Harvard sociologist Steven Gortmaker told the Chicago Tribune. Further, a typical 20-ounce sports drink contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar and 130 calories, which is more calories than you might burn off during your workout. For the sports drink we examined above, the label lists 14g of sugar for one-quarter of the bottle.

If you drink the whole bottle, as many do after a workout, you’re downing 56g of sugar! And according to Joanna Dolgoff, a child and adolescent weight-management expert, in the Chicago Tribune, drinking one sports drink a day for one year could cause you to gain 13 pounds!

Quench Your Thirst During or After a Workout!

Drinking water is one of the best ways to quench your thirst before, during and after a workout. Experts typically recommend drinking an additional two to three cups of water within two hours of finishing your workout. You should then keep drinking  water regularly, as even if you don’t feel thirsty it’s still quite possible to be dehydrated.

Good Fats to Feel Better Vs. Fats Causing Depression and Heart Disease Why Even Skinny People Need to Know Their Fats!

Many Americans are under the impression that “fats” is a four-letter word … a substance that must be shunned in your diet if you want to stay thin and avoid heart disease and other health issues. But this misguided nutritional dogma could actually be putting your health at risk, as all fats are NOT created equal — and, in fact, some fats are absolutely essential for your body to function optimally.

Repeat after us: All fat is not my enemy — and many fats are
actually my friend.

1. Trans Fats (Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Fats)
In the realm of fats, there are two types you should definitely try to limit in your diet, the first being trans

Trans fats are a synthetic type of fat found in margarine, shortening, fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers. Anything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil also contains them. Trans fat poses various serious health risks. It raises your body’s level of bad cholesterol (LDL) while
scrubbing away the good cholesterol (HDL) that keeps your arteries clean. Your arteries can become clogged,
making them inflexible, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

Trans fat can also increase triglycerides and inflammation, a direct link to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. While many food manufacturers have removed trans fats from popular processed foods in recent years, there is a labeling “catch” you should know. The FDA allows food manufacturers to round to zero any ingredient that
accounts for less than 0.5 grams per serving. So while a product may claim to be “trans-fat-free” it can legally contain up to 0.5 grams per serving. While this may seem like an insignificant amount, over time this small fraction can add
up, especially if you eat more than one serving at a time.

A good rule of thumb? Trans fat is formed when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, a process called hydrogenation. So if a food label lists hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat or oil, it contains trans fats in some level, even if the label says “0.” Avoid such foods at all costs. A National Academy of Sciences panel actually ruled that trans fats are so dangerous, the only “safe” level is zero, so it could not set a safe daily intake level. Rather, they recommend that people consume as little trans fat as possible.

2. Refined Polyunsaturated Fats from Vegetable Oils
You may have been expecting to see saturated fats as the second dietary villain, but polyunsaturated fats are actually what you should look out for.

Polyunsaturated fats (omega-6 fats), which are found in soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and others, are typically described as heart healthy — they may help to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease — BUT they are often highly processed and are quite perishable.

This means that the fats easily become rancid, and rancid fats may contribute to oxidative stress and damaging free radicals in your body. Further, when polyunsaturated fats are eaten in excess, as they are in the typical American
diet, they can lead to the formation of excess prostanoids, which are chemicals that increase inflammation in your body.

One study published in Psychosomatic Medicine even found that people with more omega-6 fats in their blood compared to omega-3 fats (which we’ll discuss shortly) were more likely to suffer from depression and have high
levels of inflammation-promoting substances like tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6 — which increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other diseases.
Which Fats are Your Friend? While you should strive to reduce trans fats and polyunsaturated fats from refined
vegetable oils in your diet, the following fats should be a regular part of your healthy diet.

1. Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats, found in fish and fish oils and also some plant foods, are excellent for your heart. They’re anti-inflammatory and make blood less likely to clot inside arteries, prevent erratic heart rhythms, and prevent cholesterol from becoming damaged or oxidized. Omega-3 fats have also been found to reduce the risk of many other health conditions including macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. When consuming omega-3 fats, it’s important to be sure you’re getting some in the animal-based form, as opposed to only the plant-based form found in flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fat, while the omega-3 fats in fish oil, cod liver oil and krill oil are called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). It’s these latter two forms of omega-3 that seem to be responsible for most of the benefits, suchas helping to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s
disease and more. Getting back to flaxseeds, ALA is a precursor to EPA, which means it is converted to EPA in your body. When converted, it can provide the benefits that EPA has to offer, BUT only a small percentage actually gets converted. So, in order to receive the same benefits of the omega-3 in fish oil, cod liver oil or krill oil, you would need to take in A LOT of flaxseeds. This is the drawback to consuming omega-3 fats in plant form, even though flaxseeds
are often — and somewhat misleadingly — thought of as a superior form of omega-3 fat.

2. Monounsaturated Fats
Most everyone agrees that monounsaturated fats, the kind found in avocados, olive oil, seeds and nuts, are exceptionally healthy and should definitely be included in your diet. Increasing foods that contain these healthy fats can raise your HDL levels without harming your total cholesterol. Further, according to the American
Heart Association: “Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s
cells. Monounsaturated fats are also typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans need more of.

3. Saturated Fats
The health benefits, or lack thereof, of saturated fats is one of the most hotly debated topics among conventional and alternative medicine practitioners. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fats are the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, but the “lipid hypothesis,” the one that claims foods high in
saturated fats drive up your cholesterol levels, which clog your arteries and lead to heart disease, may be based on entirely flawed science. In his book The Cholesterol Myths, Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD explained that Ancel Keys, who performed the study upon which the Lipid Hypothesis is based, used cherry-picked data to prove
his point that countries with the highest intake of animal fat have the highest rates of heart disease

According to Keys this is what the data showed, but Dr. Ravnskov revealed that the countries used in the study were handpicked, and those that did NOT show that eating a lot of animal fat lead to higher rates of heart disease were
left out of the study, leading to entirely skewed, and faulty, data. So, many experts actually believe that saturated fats are good for you. They’re necessary for energy, hormone production, and cellular membranes, among
other biological functions, and according to Mary Enig, PhD, your diet shouldcontain at least 25 percent of fat as saturated fat.

The Weston A. Price Foundation expands on the many roles of saturated fats: “Contrary to the accepted view, which is not scientifically based, saturated fats do not clog arteries or cause heart disease. In fact, the preferred food for the heart is saturated fat; and saturated fats lower a substance called Lp(a), which is a very accurate marker
for proneness to heart disease. Saturated fats play many important roles in the body chemistry.
They strengthen the immune system and are involved in intercellular communication, which means they protect us against cancer. They help the receptors on our cell membranes work properly, including receptors for insulin, thereby protecting us against diabetes. The lungs cannot function without saturated fats, which is why children given butter and full-fat milk have much less asthma than children given reduced-fat milk and margarine.
Saturated fats are also involved in kidney function and hormone production. Saturated fats are required for the nervous system to function properly, and over half the fat in the brain is saturated. Saturated fats also help suppress inflammation. Finally, saturated animal fats carry the vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, which we need in large amounts to be healthy. Human beings have been consuming saturated fats from animals products, milk products and the tropical oils for thousands of years; it is the advent of modern processed vegetable oil that is associated with the epidemic of modern degenerative disease, not the consumption of saturated fats.”

A Low-Fat Diet May Cause Heart Disease and Depression

It’s very important that your diet include a variety of healthy fats, as adhering to the low and no-fat craze of decades’ past could put your health at risk. Numerous studies have linked low-fat and low cholesterol diets to increased risks of depression, suicide and aggressive behavior. And one of the largest studies on low-fat diets — a $415-million federally funded study of close to 49,000 women — found that those who ate a low-fat diet had the same rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who did not limit their fat intake, and no changes in weight gain or loss were observed between the groups either. Further, a new study presented at the American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in 2010 revealed that replacing saturated fat in your diet with carbohydrates may actually increase your risk of heart disease.
So it’s very important that your diet includes plenty of healthy fats if you want to stay optimally healthy and protect your heart.

You can get most healthy fats by eating a wide range of animal foods, fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado, but you may want to supplement with additional omega-3, such as: OmegAvail Lemon Drop Smoothie: A delicious tasting, high potency, emulsified fish oil product with superior bioavailability OmegAvail™ Lemon Drop Smoothie is a wonderful option for children and those who prefer not to swallow pills. It is also very convenient to use, as it quickly
dissolves for easy mixing in water, juice, or blended beverages. It may also be taken alone.

OmegAvail Synergy: Enhanced with the addition of lipase, a digestive aid, this unique formula contains a blend of wild deep-sea sourced fish oils containing the omega-3 fats (EPA/DHA) in theTruTG™form, the omega-3 fat alpha linolenic acid (ALA) from flax seed oil and the most important omega-6 fat, GLA, from borage oil.

Remember, fats are not your enemy and many are actually your friends. If you want to
support your heart health, your mood and your long-term health, consuming healthy fats is
a smart choice and a veritable necessity.

Does Getting Older Make People Happier?

Many people do not look forward to getting older, and will instead do everything in their power, including resorting to plastic surgery, to escape the hands of time. But what if all our fears of aging — and our preconceived notions that it means we will be dependant on others, lonely and unfulfilled, slower mentally and crumbling physically — are actually unfounded? What if getting older would actually make us happier? As it turns out, the “golden years” are aptly named as numerous studies show people do get happier as they get older. New research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 2009 annual meeting found that people in their 80s and 90s generally report being happier than younger people, and feeling less negative emotion such as sadness, anxiety and anger. Susan Turk Charles, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, pointed out several reasons why happiness may increase with age. She indicated that older adults: May better regulate their emotions, avoiding negative experiences and limiting their exposure to stressful situations Interact mostly with close friends and family members, which may lead to more positive social experiences and increased well-being compared to interactions with new acquaintances. Typically do not have exposure to work stress. Are generally treated with respect, and may be less likely to be confronted with an argument. Limit the time they spend thinking about negative things and focus on positive aspects instead. May think of memories in a more positive light. This is not the first study to suggest that age may lead to a brighter outlook. Research by Yang Yang, a University of Chicago sociologist, published in American Sociological Review, involved 28,000 people between the ages of 18 and 88. The findings were based on face-to-face interviews that took place periodically from 1972 to 2004. While overall happiness levels fluctuated during the study period, at every stage older Americans were the happiest. Further: The likelihood of being happy increased 5 percent with every 10 years of age. About 33 percent of Americans said they were very happy at age 88, compared to just 24 percent of those aged 18 to early 20s. “The good news is that with age comes happiness,” Yang told USA Today. “Life gets better in one’s perception as one ages.” How to Make Aging a Graceful Process for You “It’s never too late to change the two most important ingredients to graceful aging -attitude and lifestyle,” says meditation expert Mary Maddux, whose guided meditations are featured on a relaxation cd. You can choose to accept aging with gusto and embrace it as a natural and joyful part of your life, a choice that becomes easier when you let go of some common myths surrounding the aging process.

Here Maddux debunks some common aging myths once and for all: Myth #1 – The older I get, the worse my body will feel. The increasing stiffness and aches & pains that often come with age are not a result of age, but are due to lack of movement (if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it).

Although there are some changes in our tissues as we age, we can continue to remain remarkably flexible and free of pain through something as simple as regular stretching. Myth #2 – It’s too late to start taking care of myself … it won’t do any good at this age. A healthy lifestyle has been found to be one of the most important factors in how we age. Improvements in lifestyle (with the 3 key areas being good food, exercise and regular relaxation and rest) will bring improvements at any age. Myth #3 – I’m getting too old to learn new things (“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”) Research shows that older people can, and do, learn new things. Attitude plays an important role here – if you think you can’t, you won’t try. People who believe they can learn new things do! Myth #4 – Sex is only for the young. People can, and do, continue to enjoy sex well into their senior years. We are sexual beings throughout the life cycle, but sexuality is experienced differently at different ages. Changes in hormones will affect our experience of sex, and we may need to find different ways to be intimate. Relaxation is key here so that we don’t panic when things don’t happen the way they used to. We’re not “over the hill”, but we simply need to give ourselves some “breathing room” to become familiar with our changing physiologies. Myth #5 – The older I get, the less attractive I become. There is nothing more attractive than someone who has “aged well.” Haven’t you ever noticed that special “radiance” of an elderly person who is at peace with themselves and life? Attractiveness has absolutely nothing to do with age! Three Steps to Living Healthy at Any Age As Maddux points out, leading a healthy lifestyle is also key to keep enjoying your life well into your golden years. Some easy ways to take charge of your lifestyle in a positive way right now include: 1. Exercise Regularly. Exercise at a level that’s comfortable for you, and do it regularly, rather than overdoing it by exercising too often or too strenuously. And if you would like to increase muscle strength and endurance or recover more quickly from workouts, try adding supplemental carnosine to your exercise and fitness plan. Carnosine is a multi-functional dietary supplement that is very helpful for preventing accelerating aging. Muscle levels decrease 63% from age ten to age seventy, which may account for the reduction in muscle mass and function seen in aging humans. Your body’s carnosine levels decline with age so supplementing with it may provide broad-spectrum shield against protein degradation. An excellent beginning or addition to any exercise routine, simple as it may sound, is stretching. A few wellperformed stretches can do wonders for your body and your mind. 2. Relax and Find Ways to Relieve Stress. Trying to fit too many tasks into a day, or filling your time with too many stressful activities, will wear you down, no matter how many fruits and vegetables you eat. Organize your life so you have time to appreciate little enjoyments, spend time with family and friends who make you feel good, and take time for yourself when you need it. Enhance your relaxation with more magnesium, specifically magnesium L-threonate, a superior form of magnesium that crosses the blood brain barrier and helps to support relaxation, recall and anxiety reduction. It is
Does Getting Older Make People Happier? excellent as part of an anti-aging program as researchers at MIT conclude that elevating brain magnesium levels with magnesium L-threonate may be a beneficial in enhancing cognitive abilities and preventing age-related memory decline. 3. Eat a Healthy Diet, With Lots of Antioxidants. Antioxidants can be vitamins, minerals or enzymes, and they exist in foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts and other whole foods) and certain supplements. Want some help to fortify your diet with antioxidants? As follows are a list of the top 20 antioxidant foods and six disease fighting super antioxidants you’re likely not getting enough of. If you’re looking for a quick way to get more fruits and veggies into your diet, Roberta Anding, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman, suggests creating an antioxidant “power salad.” To make it, she says, “Put together a salad with a variety of mixed greens. Then I’d throw in some dried cranberries or blueberries from the health food store, toss in a few nuts, with a low-fat salad dressing … choosing [fruits and vegetables] from the colors of the rainbow.” Aging simply does not have to mean declining in every area of life. With proactive attention to your lifestyle, attitude and health regimen, you can enjoy your life as you age radiantly and healthfully.

Keeping Your Kids Healthy After Halloween: Coming Down from the Sugar High

Keeping Your Kids Healthy After Halloween: Coming Down from the Sugar High

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If your kids are feeling a little foggy, achy, or sniffly after Halloween, they are responding to the massive sugar highs (and lows) that could set the pace of their health for the entire winter season. Coming into the holidays prepared with some helpful and healthy Halloween tips for parents can make a big difference.
Sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
Believe it or not, sugar is considered to be a drug that is more addictive than cocaine. You can help your kids recover from the aftermath of Halloween by encouraging them to drink a liquid probiotic each day. Several ounces of Passion Fruit Biotic a day can support children’s gut health and boost the immune system.
For many of us, the upcoming holidays are tricky. This is because so many celebrations involve food and family. And to have a good time, we often feel the need to participate — even though it may wreak havoc on our health later.
Nothing is more effective for preventative care than diet. This is especially true for anyone who struggles with imbalances in the gut, such as gas, bloating, and headaches, and more serious disorders like an autoimmune disease.
When managing these chronic health conditions, everything that we choose to eat or give our children matters.


Part of what makes sweets and sugary treats so much fun is the good feeling that we get when we eat them.
As it turns out, we are naturally wired from infancy to succumb to the titillating effects of sugar.
For example, in newborn babies sugar is an effective painkiller. So much so that doctors prefer to either give sugar water to an infant or to let a newborn nurse before vaccination, circumcision, or a heel prick.
This is because mother’s milk, which is full of sugar, and sugar water are both able to reduce the sensation of pain. Physicians speculate that the analgesic effects of sugar are available until an infant reaches around one year of age.1,2
Drugs that oppose the certain opioid receptors in the body can also block the numbing effects of sugar. According to researchers, this suggests that the opioid pathway is involved.3
This means that sugar may stimulate the release of endorphins.
Endorphins are natural opiates that are made within the body. Endorphins are responsible for things like a “runner’s high,” the bonding that occurs between a mother and her newborn, and even the numbing effects of sugar.


If sugar can stimulate the release of endorphins in infants, what does this mean for children and adults who need a daily sugar fix? The addictive and drug-like effects of sugar do not end in infancy.
It turns out that sugar is more addictive than cocaine and surpasses what is known as the “cocaine reward.”4
However, just because the human body is designed to translate sweets as a sedative does not mean that we should indulge in sugar with abandon. And yet, we have.
In the past 200 years, we have seen an incredible increase in sugar consumption. Consider the fact that:
  • In 1822, the average person consumed 6.3 pounds of sugar a year.
  • In 1999, the average person consumed 107.7 pounds of sugar a year.
  • Today, the average person consumes about 3 pounds of sugar a week, or 150 to 170 pounds a year.
  • This adds up to 3,550 pounds of sugar over a lifetime.
This may be due to the fact that we see sugar — especially refined and heavily processed sweet stuff — as food. While sugar offers a way for cells to produce energy, too much of it causes the body to become saturated with sweetness. Type II diabetes is not the only disease related to excess sugar consumption.
Too much sugar can:
  • Interfere with healthy hormone function
  • Promote hair growth on the upper lip in women
  • Contribute to stiff joints
Sugar stimulates the reward centers in the brain, making us feel happier. And sugar is addictive. The more we have, the more we want. Fortunately, there are other ways to boost the mood that do not involve addiction.
Plenty of research over the years has suggested a relationship between mood disorders and a poorly functioning digestive tract.
Things like anxiety and depression are no longer dominated by the brain. We now know that an imbalanced inner ecosystem can contribute to serious psychological disorders.
When we talk about an imbalanced inner ecosystem, we mean things like:
  • Food allergies and autoimmune disorders, which can trigger an inflammatory response in the gut and the entire body. Inflammation creates the ideal terrain for an imbalanced inner ecosystem.
  • Gut dysbiosis, which is another way to say bacterial overgrowth.
  • Candida overgrowth, which thrives in an environment that is unregulated and undernourished.
While many Americans self-medicate with sugar, only to feel groggy and stiff the next day, little do they know that they are also contributing to gut dysbiosis, gut infection, and Candida overgrowth. Sugar overload can even cause problems with mental health.
This is one big reason why we urge parents to give kids daily probiotics, whenever possible and especially when sugar comes in the picture. Sugar may temporarily lift the mood, but it also can lead to a psychological crash. Yet UCLA researchers confirmed in 2013 that eating probiotics can affect brain function too.Taking probiotics regularly may reduce the focus on recurrent bad feelings, according to 2015 research from the Netherlands.Baylor researchers also used a single species of gut bacteria to reverse some autism-related behavior in mice in 2016.7


After Halloween and before Thanksgiving and the holiday season is the perfect time to focus on boosting the immune system and building the inner ecosystem:
In the weeks after Halloween, there are often piles of leftover candy in the house. The first step is to introduce a few ounces of Passion Fruit Biotic, a probiotic-rich beverage that not only contains beneficial bacteria but also beneficial strains of yeast that will help the inner ecosystem fight the growth of pathogenic bacteria and yeast that can be fed by too much sugar. It is important to stop the growth of pathogenic bacteria before it starts to affect the immune system over the winter months.
The sour flavor of fermented foods will help offset the craving for a sweet taste. Making cultured vegetables is easy at home and can be a family activity. Kids have a great time making cultured vegetables. Eating even a few spoonfuls once a day will be a great way for your child to increase living enzymes and probiotics to boost digestion and improve gut health.
3. BED Cookies
Try making delicious cookies that your kids will love that are gluten-free and sugar-free! Lakanto is a sugar substitute that is easy to use with no aftertaste, found in this recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
4. Increase Fiber
Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of certain nutrients, like carbohydrates, and thus helps to prevent peaks and valleys in your child’s blood sugar. Gluten free oats, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa are all options to replace the gluten-rich grains that make up the Standard American Diet. We also love konjaku Miracle Noodles, made from yam flour of the konnyaku imo tuber and totally different from the commercial pastas that can bog down a well-functioning digestive tract. These gluten-free, calorie-free, and low-carb Japanese noodles can be prepared with raw butter, coconut oil, or ghee in a veggie stir-fry to naturally increase fiber intake as a healthier pasta swap.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

Halloween and sugar go hand-in-hand. It’s no wonder that so many kids are addicted to sugary treats because of the good feeling that they get when they eat them. Sugar can stimulate the release of endorphins and has been considered more addictive than cocaine.
Yet too much sugar in the diet can lead to type II diabetes, imbalanced hormones, irregular hair growth in women, and stiff joints. Sugar can affect the health of the digestive tract, which has been linked with mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
You can help your kids to recover from the sugar overload of Halloween to boost their immune health before the holiday season with these helpful tips:
  1. Offer your kids a few ounces of probiotic-rich Passion Fruit Biotic each day to support the gut with friendly bacteria and fight pathogenic bacteria that can be fed by excess sugar.
  2. Make cultured vegetables as a family to improve digestion and gut health.
  3. Make gluten-free and sugar-free Body Ecology chocolate chip oatmeal cookies as a healthy alternative to sweet treats.
  4. Increase fiber intake to slow down the absorption of certain nutrients, like carbohydrates, and regulate your kids’ blood sugar. We recommend trying gluten-free, calorie-free, and low-carb konjaku Miracle Noodles instead of traditional pasta to up the fiber at your next family meal.


  1. B Stevens, et al. Sucrose for analgesia in newborn infants undergoing painful procedures. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001069. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001069.pub2.
  2. EM Blass, et al. Sucrose as an analgesic for newborn infants. Pediatrics, 1991;87:215-218.
  3. EC Rebouças, et al. Effect of the blockade of mu1-opioid and 5HT2A-serotonergic/alpha1-noradrenergic receptors on sweet-substance-induced analgesia. Psychopharmacology, 2005;179:349-355.
  4. M Lenoir, et al. Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(8): e698.
  5. Kirsten Tillisch, Jennifer Labus, Lisa Kilpatrick, Zhiguo Jiang, Jean Stains, Bahar Ebrat, Denis Guyonnet, Sophie Legrain-Raspaud, Beatrice Trotin, Bruce Naliboff, Emeran A. Mayer. Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology, 2013; DOI:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043.
  6. Laura Steenbergen, Roberta Sellaro, Saskia van Hemert, Jos A. Bosch, Lorenza S. Colzato. A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.04.003
  7. Buffington et al. Microbial reconstitution reverses maternal diet-induced social and synaptic deficits in offspring. Cell, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.06.001

Understanding Glycogen, Your Body’s High-Performance Fuel

Put 100 runners around a pre-race dinner table, and they won’t agree on much. Training talk may cause shouting matches; shoe talk could cause friends to come to blows over terms like “drop” and “stack height.” But one thing most would agree on is what to eat—a big pasta buffet.

Pasta has earned its vaunted place at pre-race meals everywhere because of its impact on glycogen. You have probably heard the term “glycogen” bandied about before, and you may have even used it yourself when ordering your pre-race meal.

I know that when I order at restaurants, I am implicitly saying, “I’ll have the large glycogen pizza, please, with a side of glycogen breadsticks.” But what is glycogen, and how can you use it to avoid the dreaded bonk?


The Basics

Glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose stored in the liver and muscles that acts as a fuel source for exercise. Glycogen metabolism is the process by which these stored carbohydrates are used as fuel, involving many enzymes with chemical compositions that fill a quarter of a page. While the glycogen-to-fuel process is complex enough to fuel many PhD dissertations, the basic takeaway is that excess carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles, turning pasta into performance.

Among other things, the breakdown of glycogen is used in ATP synthesis, which is essentially how energy transfer happens in cells. Even though glycogen only accounts for a minimal amount of total stored energy in the body, lower-burning fat takes too long to go through the same process to fuel sustained moderate exercise, so at around 55 to 65 percent of VO2 max for most athletes, glycogen stores become essential to maintain performance levels (though exact intensity depends on many athlete-specific factors).

Think of fat and carbohydrate burning on a spectrum, with high-intensity efforts involving mostly carbohydrates and low-intensity efforts involving mostly fat. Both energy sources are important for running.

According to cycling expert Dr. Iñigo San Millán, at race pace, most athletes will burn two to three grams of carbohydrate per minute. Even at lower intensities, most athletes will burn one to two grams of carbohydrate a minute (though this rate can be adjusted with training). Most athletes store 300 to 500 grams of glycogen when fully fueled, equating to about 90 to 120 minutes of intense exercise.

Glycogen burns rapidly but is refilled at a drip, usually replenishing at a rate of two to five percent per hour after exercise. Empty glycogen stores can take a full day or more to restore.

Three ways glycogen is important for endurance athletes.

1. Glycogen fuels performance for most trail runners.

If your training and racing goes beyond low-level aerobic exercise, you will need to use glycogen to perform at your peak potential. According to a paper in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, chronically low glycogen stores in athletes can cause fatigue and even induce a “catabolic” state involving muscle breakdown by requiring the body to rely on proteins and amino acids for fuel. That is one reason why low energy availability over time may contribute to a reduction in performance, and even overtraining syndrome.

Related: 4 Natural Energy-Gel Alternatives

2. Glycogen re-synthesis can improve recovery.

As outlined by an article in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, because glycogen helps muscles recover and avoid cannibalizing themselves for fuel after high-intensity exercise, replenishing glycogen can preserve muscles and accelerate recovery. Topping off glycogen stores will help you get ready for another run sooner.

3. Training in a glycogen-depleted state can enhance some training adaptations and improve aerobic efficiency.

While the body generally needs glycogen to perform at a high level, it can be trained to use its glycogen stores more strategically. An article in the journal Sports Nutrition outlines how running in a glycogen-depleted state can enhance markers for adaptation to training and make the body better at burning fat. Some top ultrarunners like Zach Bitter and Jeff Browning take it one step further, using a low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet to train their body to burn mostly fat at relatively fast paces. However, LCHF diets are complex and controversial, and should be undertaken solely for training purposes when preparing for low-intensity events, at the advice of an expert.


How should you maximize glycogen fueling in your own training?

1. Train with adequate glycogen stores by eating carbohydrates in your daily diet.

Don’t overthink things. Just prioritize a balanced diet rich in healthy carbohydrates like whole grains, along with plenty of good fat and rich protein. Since glycogen levels take many hours to fill up, what you ate yesterday is often more important than what you eat the morning of. Avoid food restriction and eat guided by hunger.

2. After runs, prioritize replenishing glycogen through carbohydrate intake.

After exercise, the body is aching to top off glycogen stores. Chocolate milk is often cited as a good post-run drink due to its mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. While it’s hard to think of a more delightful nutrition suggestion, any similarly carbohydrate-rich food will work.

3. During runs, replenish glycogen as you go.

As glycogen levels drop, so, too, does performance for most athletes. For runs long enough to begin burning stored glycogen (usually 60 to 90 minutes or longer), practice refueling as you go. For most athletes, 200 to 300 calories per hour of mostly carbohydrates—like gels or sports drink—is a safe bet, adjusting for body type and background.

4. You can’t replenish glycogen as fast as you can burn it, so temper your effort level.

In events 90 to 120 minutes and below, if you start with full glycogen stores, you can pretty much go as hard as you’d like and avoid low-glycogen bonking. Over that, you need to pace yourself to avoid running on empty.

As a thought experiment, imagine that a typical athlete has about 360 grams of carbohydrates stored as glycogen, and can replenish 60 grams per hour while burning 180 grams per hour. With no carbs, the athlete goes two hours until bonking. Even with adequate carbs, the athlete will bonk in less than three hours. So the key is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates burned per hour by reducing intensity so the body can burn more fat. In other words, pace yourself to achieve the optimal fat-to-carbohydrate burn rate to avoid bonking.

My general glycogen-related pacing guideline is: you can go hard in events less than two hours, moderately hard in events two to three-and-a-half hours (glycogen can mostly be replenished at strong efforts), moderate for events three and a half to five hours (when fat burning becomes more important), easy/moderate up to eight hours and easy and conversational in anything over that.

5. Do some runs (including some longer runs) in a glycogen-depleted state.

You can use glycogen depletion as a tool to enhance training adaptations. An approach I use with some of the ultra athletes I coach is to do every third long run at very low intensity in a glycogen depleted state (no carbohydrates since the evening before), doing back-to-back long runs every month (even with normal fueling, this type of schedule causes glycogen depletion naturally) and doing short doubles on one or two workout days most weeks. However, to keep it simple, you can just do your daily morning run without breakfast occasionally. (Note: Dr. Stacy Sims, author of the book “Roar,” indicates that glycogen depletion may be less useful—and possibly detrimental—for some female athletes due to hormonal shifts. Very few of the professional female athletes I coach aim for glycogen depletion in a structured way, though will sometimes do back-to-back long runs and doubles for other reasons.)


David Roche runs for HOKA One One and NATHAN, and works with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play.

Adverse Events Dramatically Up for Cosmetics & Personal Care Products

A new JAMA Internal Medicine study is placing cosmetics and personal care products under the microscope. A significant number of active ingredients marketed to soften, clean, sooth, plump, lengthen and boost are causing serious injury or worse, according to a study from Northwestern Medicine.  The study authors are calling for both doctors and consumers to report all related adverse events to the FDA.

Consumer complaints for cosmetics and personal care products have doubled in a one-year period. However, these reports are falling on deaf ears because the industry is under minimal scrutiny and manufacturers are not required to gain pre-approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One product had more than 21,000 adverse reports sent directly to the manufacturer but only 127 of those made it to FDA. Worse yet, the product is still on the market (see more below).

The Northwestern study reports consumer complaints more than doubled for cosmetic products from 2015 to 2016, with hair care products being the biggest offender. Baby products, unclassifiable products, personal cleanliness products, hair care products and hair coloring products had the highest proportion of self-reports of a serious adverse health outcome, such as serious injury, death, disability.

“The FDA has much less authority to recall cosmetics from the market in stark contrast to drugs or medical devices,” said corresponding author Dr. Steve Xu, a resident physician in dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “It’s harder for the FDA to get harmful cosmetics off the shelves.”


Why Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Need Stronger Oversight

Since cosmetic manufacturers are not required to submit adverse health events to the FDA, the haircare, cosmetics, personal care current data sources to track product safety are significantly limited. Even though there were more than 5,000 events reported to the FDA from 2004 to 2016, it’s likely only the tip of the iceberg, Xu said. He suspects many events are not reported by consumers or doctors.

This is really a wake-up call,” Xu said. “The point of the paper is to broaden the awareness of this database and the need for everyone to participate in reporting adverse events from cosmetics.”

The most common complaints in the database were for hair care products, skincare products or tattoos, the study found. The number of overall adverse events jumped from 706 in 2015 to 1,591 in 2016, with hair care products seeing the largest increase.

“This is a $430 billion-a-year global industry with millions of products on the market,” Xu said. “But we are only getting, on average, between 200 and 400 adverse events per year. That represents significant under-reporting. If we want more public safety and to keep dangerous products off the market, the first step is the make sure we have reasonably good data. The key point of our results is we don’t have it.”

 An ongoing investigation

In 2014, the FDA sent letters to manufacturers Chaz Dean and Guthy Renker LLC in response to 127 consumer complaints of hair and scalp problems related to the WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners. Only then did the FDA discover that the manufacturers had already received 21,000 consumer complaints of scalp irritation and alopecia.

If this was a drug, the story would be much different in regards to regulatory action,” Xu said. “Three or four people can be wrong, but it’s hard to ignore 21,000. It’s concerning when 21,000 people complained to the manufacturer, and the FDA received only 127 of those due to poor reporting from the manufacturer.”

The FDA’s investigation on WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products is ongoing, and the products are still available, Xu said.

The problem with cosmeceuticals 

What concerns Xu the most are products that contain cosmeceuticals, which market themselves as cosmetic products but with an “active ingredient.”

“Although not explicitly studied, this cosmetic product class is becoming a growing problem,” Xu said. “Many of these products are really making drug-like claims but are skirting the FDA approval pathway by presenting themselves as a cosmetic. At the very best, these products are making unsubstantiated marketing claims for products that may or may not work. At the very worst, there are actual drug components in these products that can cause real harm.”

In 2016, Sen.Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) presented the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which aims to tighten cosmetic regulation. Xu said he hopes the study’s findings raise awareness in support of the bill. “Feinstein’s bill is a first step forward in the right direction,” Xu said. “I would have liked an explicit push towards cosmeceutical regulation. Overall, the FDA should have the power to order recalls and mandate that manufacturers declare their products’ ingredients and report every adverse consumer health event to the FDA.”

Kwa M, Welty LJ, Xu S. Adverse Events Reported to the US Food and Drug Administration for Cosmetics and Personal Care Products. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 26, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.2762

10 Healthy Snacks for Kids That Don’t Taste Healthy

Does it sometimes feel like getting your child to eat nutritious snacks is impossible? With the right foods and recipes, you can create healthy snacks for kids that are so tasty, your kids won’t even realize they’re eating something good for them. “Getting kids to eat healthy foods is all about rethinking the ingredients,” says Laura Fuentes, creator of kid-friendly recipe site MOMables and author of “The Best Homemade Kids’ Snacks on the Planet.” The trick? Use healthy ingredients, but prepare them in a kid-friendly way. “Instead of steamed broccoli for example, put broccoli on a pizza,” Fuentes explains.

Try these 10 deliciously good-for-you snacks and make your kid’s lunchbox the most enviable one at school.

1) Freeze Healthy Popsicles

“Popsicles seem like a treat, but they can actually be healthy when you make them at home with fresh fruits and yogurt,” explains Fuentes. Invest in some freezer molds and get creative with fruits. Recipes like these chocolate avocado popsicles from Momables are easy to make and taste great, and they’re filled with healthy antioxidant-rich ingredients. They’re also easy for a babysitter to grab out of the freezer for a healthy snack without the prep!

2) Make Snacktime Pop

“Popcorn is a delicious, whole grain snack that kids love to customize!” says culinary coach Samantha Barnes, the founder of Kitchen Kid and Raddish Kids. Skip the preservative-laden microwave variety and pop your own in just a few minutes with a popcorn maker or on the stove, then let kids add their own toppings and mix-ins, such as Parmesan cheese, dried cranberries or dried seasonings.

3) Build a Better Bento

“Offering smaller portions and a variety of options are great ways to encourage picky eaters to try healthier foods,” says Jenna Rammell, a cofounder of children’s lifestyle blog Small Fry. Put small healthy items, such as chopped veggies, fruits or a handful of nuts into compartmentalized bento boxes. Kids will get excited about eating all the different sections, explains Rammell.

4) Offer Fresh Fruit

Fruit offers kids a sweet treat, but little do they know just how nutritious those strawberries and blueberries actually are. Fuentes suggests mixing a bowl of fresh berries with yogurt for a simple, healthy (but still sweet!) snack.

5) Slice Sweet Potato Chips

If you have a chip lover on your hands, skip the deep fryer and swap in nutritious ingredients like sweet potatoes or apples, which are packed with vitamins. These baked sweet potato chips from Small Fry will fill those chip cravings while packing a nutritious punch.

6) Get Dotty With Yogurt

If snack packages are any indicator, kids are attracted to fun and colorful snacks. Take advantage of that with these frozen yogurt dots from Lady Behind the Curtain. Your kids will have fun making (and eating) this dessert-like treat with all the nutritional benefits of all-natural yogurt.

7) Start Dipping

Store-bought dips like hummus and guacamole make a protein-rich snack that will keep kids fuller longer and less likely to be nibbling constantly. “Kids love to dip!” says Fuentes. “And tasty dips make a great way to sneak in vegetables.” Offer veggies such as carrot sticks to dip into the hummus or sliced cucumber to dunk into guacamole.

8) Whip Up Banana Ice Cream

Yes, “ice cream” can be healthy — as long as it’s not actually ice cream. The texture and flavor of this frozen blended banana recipe from Raddish Kids is so similar to real ice cream, your kids will hardly notice that they are simply eating pureed fruit.

9) Power Up With Smoothies

Smoothies offer a tasty way to sneak in fruits and vegetables your picky eater might not otherwise try. When made at home, smoothies can be filled with fresh fruits and dark leafy greens, says Barnes. “A favorite after-school snack in our house is our Super-Power Milkshake, made with frozen bananas, milk, kale, cocoa powder, peanut butter and a squirt of agave,” she explains. Make your own “milkshake” with frozen fruits and veggies to get your kids slurping up vitamins in no time.

10) Granola Bars

Some snacks that your kids already love, like granola and protein bars, may seem like a healthy option, but in fact they are loaded with sugar and other processed ingredients. Give kids the tastes they love with a healthier twist by making your own variety using wholesome ingredients. Start with these five-ingredient no-bake granola bars from Minimalist Baker, and customize them with your kids’ favorite add-ins.

The key to getting kids to eat healthy is to only offer healthy options, says Rammell. Continually offer wise snacking choices.

For more healthy snacks for kids, read Got Fruit? Try Homemade Fruit Snacks!

Shahrzad Warkentin is a freelance writer with several years of experience covering topics like parenting, health and lifestyle, and is a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles.

The Evolving Evidence on Chiropractors for Low Back Pain

The majority of people experience low back pain at some point during their lives—and it can be a miserable experience. Research shows that low back pain is the most common cause of missed work days.

To provide relief, doctors have typically prescribed oral medications. In some cases, surgery can repair back problems. But the traditional medical establishment has long frowned upon chiropractic care for lower back pain—until now.

Last month, the American College of Physicians issued a formal recommendation that doctors include spinal manipulation in the tools they use to treat back pain. The change comes after two new systematic reviews found a visit to the chiropractor can provide improvements for people with low back pain.  Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

As recently as 2012, a systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration analyzed 20 randomized-controlled trials and found that spinal manipulations were no more effective than other intervention for back pain and no more effective than “sham” or fake spinal manipulations, where a medical provider pretended to adjust the spine. The authors did note that spinal manipulations were safe, and that the evidence in the review was of “low to very low quality.”

This year, a new review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the opposite—that spinal adjustments helped improve pain and function for people with low back pain. The authors evaluated a total of 26 randomized-controlled trials conducted since the previous Cochrane Collaboration review. Of them, 15 studies including more than 1,700 patients found evidence that spinal manipulation improved low back pain by about 10 points on a 100-point scale. Separately, 12 randomized-controlled trials including nearly 1,400 patients found that spinal manipulation improved the function of people with low back pain.

A second systematic review published this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine evaluated a wide range of alternative treatments for back pain, including tai chi, exercise, acupuncture, massage and spinal manipulation. The analysis found some evidence that spinal manipulation helps to reduce pain for people with chronic low back pain.

On the whole, the evidence suggests that seeing a chiropractor can reduce pain levels and increase function for people with chronic low back pain. There is another take-home message here too: The evidence on medical treatments—whether traditional or not—is constantly evolving as researchers better understand how to design studies and evaluate data.