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The Leader-Herald, Health & Wellness, July 2018 – 2

Clean indoor air can help reduce asthma attacks VOCs

Did you know that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million Americans, including roughly seven million children, have asthma? It’s true, and those numbers have steadily risen in recent years. Asthma is more than occasional wheezing or feeling out of breath during physical activity. Asthma is chronic and can lead to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, fast breathing, and chest tightness, states the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In the 21st century, people spend significant time indoors at home, school or work, and indoor air environments could be triggers for asthma. Improving indoor air quality can help people breathe clearly. The AAFA notes that the following agents can adversely affect indoor air quality, potentially triggering asthma attacks.

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are gases released from commonly used products. These can include paints and varnishes, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, new furniture, and new carpet. People with asthma may find that VOCs can trigger attacks. Airing out items, reducing usage of products that are heavily scented and choosing low- or no-VOC products can help. Making cleaning products from baking soda, vinegar and liquid oil soap also can keep indoor air quality high. Homeowners who plan to renovate their homes can consider using the appropriate specifications for HVAC systems to promote good indoor air, as well as address any other potential problems that may be compromising indoor air quality.

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Allergens such as mold, dust mites, pet dander and fur, and waste from insects or rodents thrive in many homes. Ensuring indoor air quality is high can cut back on the amount of allergens in the air. People with asthma can invest in an air purifier and vacuum regularly, being sure to use a HEPA-equipped appliance. Routinely replacing HVAC system filters can help prevent allergens from blowing around the house. Also, frequent maintenance of HVAC systems will ensure they are operating safely and not contributing to poor indoor air quality. Mold can be mitigated by reducing moisture in a home. Moist environments in the kitchen and bathroom may promote mold growth. Ventilation is key to keep mold at bay.

Tobacco smoke

Thirdhand smoke, or THS, may be unfamiliar to many people. A 2011 report published in Environmental Health Perspectives says THS is an invisible combination of gases and particles that can cling to clothing, cushions, carpeting, and other materials long after secondhand smoke has cleared from a room. Studies

have indicated that residual nicotine levels can be found in house dust where people smoke or once smoked. Studies have indicated that smoke compounds can adsorb onto surfaces and then desorb back into air over time. Keeping tobacco smoke out of a home can improve indoor air quality and personal health.

A 2015 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey found that smoking is not just among the most unhealthy habits, but also the most irritating. The survey, conducted by telephone among a random sample of 1,019 adults across the United States, found that 32 percent of participants consider smoking to be the most irritating habit. While smoking and its effects on both smokers and nonsmokers subjected to secondhand smoke can contribute to problems such as heart disease and stroke, 23 percent of those polled cited using crude language as the bad habit that irritates them the most. Twenty percent of survey participants said speaking while chewing food was the bad habit that irritated them the most, while smacking gum (8 percent) and biting nails (4 percent) rounded out the top five. Though smoking might have earned the distinction of most irritating bad habit, 10 percent of respondents admitted lighting up a cigarette was the bad habit they would most likely do in secret.

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Numerous foodborne illness outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli have occurred across the United States and Canada in 2018. And such outbreaks are not limited to North America. In May, more than 40 cases of hepatitis A were reported in six European Union countries, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. When two or more people get the same illness from the same food or drink source, the event is called a foodborne disease outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While infection from salmonella strains and escherichia coli are some of the most notable contagions, other illnesses can occur as well, as evidenced by the EU hepatitis outbreak. Listeria and cyclospora are some other known foodborne illness pathogens. Through the first half of 2018, warnings and recalls have been issued by the CDC for shell eggs, romaine lettuce, dried coconut, chicken salad, kratom, raw sprouts, and frozen shredded coconut due to illness outbreaks. The ramifications of food illnesses are significant. The Food and Drug Administration and the CDC reported that 121 people in 25 states became ill in April 2018 from eating romaine lettuce grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona. Forty-six of those individuals were hospitalized, including 10 who developed a type of kidney failure. One person in California died from the sickness. Increased reporting about foodborne illness outbreaks begs the question as to whether or not more can be done to reduce the spread of these harmful pathogens. Contamination can occur in various places as food makes its way to dinner tables. Long-term prevention of foodborne illness outbreaks involves the cooperation of many people in the production chain — all the way to the consumer, according to the CDC. • Production and harvesting needs to be safe and clean, with efforts to keep food products free of animal waste and sewage contamination. • Inspection of processing plants can help ensure sanitary practices are in place. • Pasteurization, irradiation, canning, and other steps can kill pathogens during food processing. • People who package or prepare foods must properly wash their hands and clean facilities where food is handled.

3 – The Leader-Herald,Health & Wellness, July 2018

Avoiding foodborne poisoning

• Food service workers should not go to work when they are ill. • Foods need to be kept at proper temperatures during transport and when on display at stores. • Consumers should be aware of expiration dates and employ proper food handling and cooking measures. These include thoroughly washing produce, and cooking poultry, meats and other foods to the recommended temperatures. People who experience food poisoning should report each instance to the local or state health department. Identifying symptoms and location can help health officials track illnesses and look for similar exposures.

The Leader-Herald, Health & Wellness, July 2018 – 4

3 beverages to avoid to enjoy better sleep on the road

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A good night’s sleep has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved mood and less chronic pain. While many people go to great lengths to create welcoming sleep environmenrtts in their homes, it can be difficult to recreate such atmospheres while traveling. That only highlights the importance of taking other steps to improve sleep while on the road, including avoiding certain beverages that can compromise one’s ability to get a good night’s rest. 1. Alcoholic beverages: The National Sleep Foundation notes that alcohol may interrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, affecting chemicals in the body that signal it when to sleep or wake up. Alcohol can help induce sleep, but the London Sleep Centre notes that alcohol can be especially disruptive in the second half of the night, reducing rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, which researchers believe is restorative. 2. Caffeinated beverages: It may seem like a no-brainer to avoid caffeinated beverages, as caffeine is a stimulant that can provide a quick boost of energy. However, people who avoid caffeine during and after dinner in the hopes of avoiding sleep trouble may not know that even caffeinated beverages consumed in late afternoon can adversely affect their sleep quality. The NSF notes it takes roughly six hours for half of the caffeine the body consumes to be eliminated. That means half of the caffeine from a coffee consumed around 4 p.m. may still be in the body come 10 p.m. Travelers who typically have trouble falling asleep on the road may want to avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. 3. Soda: Sodas contain caffeine, but people may think choosing caffeine-free sodas can help them sleep better. In fact, the NSF notes that carbonated beverages, including sodas, can trigger a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. GERD can produce a host of negative side effects, including physical discomfort and chronic cough, that can compromise a person’s ability to sleep. Avoiding carbonated beverages two to three hours before bedtime can reduce the likelihood that GERD symptoms will surface, which should help people achieve a more restful night’s sleep. So what can travelers drink before going to bed? While water is always a safe bet, the NSF recommends caffeine-free herbal tee as a relaxing pre-bedtime beverage.

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5 – The Leader-Herald,Health & Wellness, July 2018

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The Leader-Herald, Health & Wellness, July 2018 – 6

Improve GERD symptoms with natural remedies

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a painful erages also may trigger GERD. • Fasting before bedtime. Avoid eating food and concondition in which stomach acid flows up the esophagus and into the mouth. Sometimes called dyspepsia, acid re- suming beverages two to three hours before bedtime. • Lose weight. According to the Center for flux or heartburn, GERD can generate a fiery sensation in the chest and throat that can range from mild to severe. Esophageal Motility Disorders at Vanderbilt University, obesity is the leading cause of GERD. Extra stomach What is GERD? fat puts pressure on the abdomen, pushing gastric acids GERD can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender into the esophagus. Losing weight can reduce this presor ethnicity. In the United States, approximately 20 per- sure. cent of the population has GERD, according to the Na• Eat small meals. Rather than eating a few big meals, tional Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney eat small meals throughout the day. Diseases (NIDDK). Five million Canadians experience • Try natural herbs. WebMD says that some natural heartburn and/or acid regurgitation at least once each GERD remedies contain German chamomile, lemon week, states the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. balm, licorice, milk thistle, and angelica. Also, melatonin, GERD can cause difficulty swallowing, regurgitation a supplement used as a sleep aide, has been suggested to of food or sour liquid, a sensation of a lump in the throat, help relieve heartburn. But the research is conflicting as or chest pain, advises the Mayo Clinic. Some people ex- to whether melatonin is effective. Always discuss supperience intermittent symptoms of GERD, while others plement use with a doctor prior to starting a regimen. experience symptoms with every meal or in between • Drink low-fat milk. Milk may temporarily buffer meals. People who have chronic reflux might also suffer stomach acid, but high-fat milk may stimulate the stomfrom nighttime symptoms, such as disrupted sleep or ach to produce more acid. chronic cough. The NIDDK says GERD also may cause • Chew gum. Chewing gum stimulates the production Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which tissue that is of saliva, which can be an acid buffer, offers WebMD. similar to the intestine replaces the tissue lining the Chewing gum also results in more swallowing, which can esophagus. force acids out of the esophagus. • Quit smoking. Some studies indicate nicotine relaxes Treating symptoms the muscles of the lower esophageal sphincter, the flap In many mild to moderate cases of reflux, individuals that blocks stomach acid from coming into the esophacan rely on lifestyle changes and natural remedies to pre- gus. vent symptoms. • Stay upright. Stay upright after eating a meal for at • Avoid food triggers. Certain foods and beverages, least three hours. In bed, sleep on a slight angle by raissuch as greasy or spicy recipes and alcoholic beverages, ing the head of the bed a few inches. can make GERD symptoms strike. Acidic foods, chocoGERD can be painful, but with a few changes, people late, onions, carbonated beverages, and caffeinated bev- can overcome this condition.


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If the number of gluten-free products stocking store shelves and appearing on restaurant menus are any indication, then the general public has embraced gluten-free living. Many people eat glutenfree diets despite not having Celiac disease, which is a condition that requires people to avoid gluten. However, a voluntary gluten censorship may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. Less than 1 percent of Americans are gluten-intolerant or afflicted with Celiac disease. Despite this, the popularity of gluten-free diets tripled between 2013 and 2014, according to reports from The Kitchn. Although people who are sensitive to gluten may feel better avoiding it, Dr. Daniel A. Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has said others will derive no significant benefit from gluten avoidance and will simply waste money buying the more expensive gluten-free alternatives. People with perceived gluten sensitives may not have aversions to gluten at all. According to a study conducted by Monash University and published in 2013, people with self-reported nonceliac gluten sensitivity, gluten only caused negative symptoms when subjects knew they were eating it. When they believe the food to be something else, participants experienced no symptoms. Other medical experts say that gluten may not be to blame for sensitivity, which may be a result of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs), like grains, beans, dairy, and some fruits. By removing the grain (gluten included), affected individuals feel better, thinking gluten is to blame. Those with no reason to avoid gluten could be putting their health at risk by skipping wheat and other grains. A recent study from Harvard Medical School says those who avoid gluten may be harming their heart health. The study, which tracked the eating habits of 64,714 women and 45,303 men over a period of 26 years, found that long-term avoidance of gluten in adults sometimes caused the reduced consumption of heart-healthy whole grains that affect cardiovascular risk. Study leader Andrew Chan said that individuals who consumed the lowest levels of dietary gluten had a 15 percent higher risk of heart disease. The study concluded that the promotion of gluten-free diets among people for whom it is deemed medically unnecessary to avoid gluten should not be encouraged. There may be other reasons to continue to eat gluten. A study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, titled, “Effects of a gluten-free diet on gut microbiota and immune function in healthy adult human subjects,” found a gluten-free diet may adversely affect gut flora and immune function. This potentially puts people at risk for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their intestinal biome. Another study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that gluten

7 – The Leader-Herald,Health & Wellness, July 2018

Does gluten-free benefit everyone?

Items to consider when outfitting a home gym

Home gyms can make working out more efficient, saving time driving to a fitness facility and enabling people to stick to a workout regimen during inclement weather. Having a gym at home also may motivate people to work out more frequently and more effectively, as they can exercise at any time of day they choose and won’t need to share equipment with fellow fitness enthusiasts. While workouts will vary from individual to individual, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend adults should combine both aerobic and strength training to achieve optimal health. The CDC recommends adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. In addition, the CDC advises adults to include moderate- or high-intensity muscle-strengthening activities, involving all major muscle groups, in their workout regimens two or more days per week. When constructing their home gyms, homeowners should keep CDC recommendations in mind so they can enjoy as complete a workout as possible. The following are some items homeowners can consider when outfitting their home gyms. • Barbells: Barbells aren’t just for biceps. Barbells can be used to work all the major muscle groups, including arms, chest, shoulders, legs, and back. Purchase a set of barbells of various weights so workouts can be varied depending on the muscle group being targeted. • Bench, bar and plates: A bench, bar and plates also can be invaluable to people who want a fitness facility-quality workout at home. Purchase plates of various weights but remember to be cautious with the amount of weight you lift when no partner or spotter is present. When shopping for a bench, look for one that can incline and decline, which increases the range of exercises you can perform at home. • Land line: If the gym will be in a basement or another area of the home where access to a mobile network is unreliable, the presence of a land line in the room can help in the case of emergencies. Those who work out at home will be doing so without gym staff or other fitness enthusiasts nearby, so the land line can be invaluable should someone suffer an injury when exercising alone. If possible, place the land line in the middle of the room so it’s not too far away from any particu-

may boost immune function. After roughly a week on added gluten protein, subjects experienced increased natural killer cell activity, which could be helpful in improving the body’s ability to fight viral infections and cancer. A gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily a healthy one. While such a diet may be necessary for those with Celiac disease, unless a doctor has determined a person needs to avoid gluten, it is wise to include whole grains in a balanced diet.

lar area. • Flooring: Homeowners have various flooring options when outfitting their home gyms. Carpet tiles, rubber flooring, foam flooring, and vinyl tiles are popular options. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice may depend on how the gym will be used. For example, foam flooring may be compressed under heavy equipment, which may be problematic for homeowners who want to include lots of equipment in their home gyms. Before considering which flooring material to lay down, write down your likely workout routine before taking that write-up with you to a flooring contractor who can recommend the best material for you. • Cardiovascular equipment: Homeowners don’t have to reinvent the wheel when purchasing cardiovascular equipment for their home gyms. If a treadmill worked for you at the gym, purchase one for your home gym as well. Cardio equipment can be expensive, but savvy homeowners may be able to find fully functional secondhand equipment online. If you currently have a gym membership, speak with the owner about purchasing a used item directly from the facility. Outfitting a home gym requires homeowners to give careful consideration to their workout preferences so they can tailor their gyms to their specific needs.

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Health & Wellness 2018  

A special supplement to The Leader-Herald. In print and online.

Health & Wellness 2018  

A special supplement to The Leader-Herald. In print and online.