Living Healthy

Health is about much more than medicine. We show you what's new to help you attain and maintain a healthy life

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School Lunch Debate: What’s At Stake?

While 90 percent of schools have made the transition to new school lunch standards, some schools insist that the standards are unworkable. (Photo: USDA)

While 90 percent of schools have made the transition to new school lunch standards, some schools insist that the standards are unworkable. (Photo: USDA)

By Allison Aubrey and Jessica Pupovac, NPR

School lunches have never been known for culinary excellence. But to be fair, the National School Lunch Program — which provides free or reduced lunches to about 31 million kids every day — has never aimed to dazzle as much as to fill little bellies.

In 2010, Congress gave the Federal School Lunch Program a nutrition make-over. New regulations called for:

  • Increasing the amount of whole grains served in school cafeterias
  • Shifting to fat free or low-fat milks
  • Limiting the amount of calories that can come from saturated fats to 10 percent
  • Offering fruits and vegetables on a daily basis
  • Implementing caloric minimums and maximums for each meal

Those were just the first steps. By the school year starting this fall, schools are also required to: Continue reading

Fruit Juice vs. Soda? Both Beverages Pack a Wallop of Sugar

Minute Maid 100 percent apple juice has more fructose per liter than Coke and Pepsi. (Trisha Weir/Flickr)

Minute Maid 100 percent apple juice has more fructose per liter than Coke and Pepsi. (Trisha Weir/Flickr)

By Eliza Barclay, NPR

When it comes to choosing between sodas and juices in the beverage aisle, the juice industry has long benefited from a health halo.

’100 percent fruit juice is as bad as sugar-sweetened beverages for its effects on our health.’  

We know that juice comes from fruit, while soda is artificial. In particular, the sugars in juice seem more “natural” than high fructose corn syrup — the main sweetener in so many sodas. After all, we’ve gotten rid of most of the soda we used to offer kids at school, but schools can still offer juice.

But a study published online in the journal Nutrition, shows that on average fruit juice has a fructose concentration of about 45.5 grams per liter, only a bit less than the average of 50 grams per liter for sodas. The sneakiest — and sweetest — juice is Minute Maid 100 percent apple, with nearly 66 grams of fructose per liter. That’s more than the 62.5 grams per liter in Coca-Cola and the 61 grams per liter in Dr. Pepper. Continue reading

In Humboldt County, Hupa Woman Teaches Healthy Cooking via YouTube

Meagan Baldy demonstrates a stir-fry of local salmon, kale and mushrooms. (screen grab from YouTube)

Meagan Baldy demonstrates a stir-fry of local salmon, kale and mushrooms.The channel is aimed at improving the health of Native Americans.  (screen grab from YouTube)

By Samantha Clark

Tucked away in far northern California, in Humboldt County, is the small community of Hoopa. With just 3,000 people, it’s the big city on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.

Like other Native American groups, the Hupa suffer from high rates of obesity and diabetes. That’s where Meagan Baldy comes in. She runs the Hoopa Community Garden and sought to educate her fellow Hupa people about eating local, traditional foods. But trying to change people’s habits is never easy.

She started by offering a “farm box” – a box of free produce, whatever is in season. But people failed even to pick up their boxes. Baldy discovered that people didn’t know how to prepare most produce.

Serving the vegetables to her own family was a battle at first, so it must have been for others as well, Baldy reasoned. So, she snuck in greens and tried cooking them in creative ways. Continue reading

Key Drivers of the Rise in Double Mastectomies: Anxiety and MRIs

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Nancy Shute, NPR

The number of women getting double mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis has been rising in the past 10 years, even though most of them don’t face a higher risk of getting cancer in the other breast.

More than two-thirds of the women who had the double mastectomy had no risk factors that would make it more likely that they would get breast cancer again.

That has cancer doctors troubled, because for those women having the other breast removed doesn’t reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or increase their odds of survival. And they don’t know why women are making this choice.

Worry about the cancer coming back is one of the biggest reasons, according to a study of women in California and Michigan that tried to figure out which women decided on a double mastectomy, and why.

Women who had a breast MRI were more likely to decide on a double mastectomy, even if the scan didn’t show more cancer. Continue reading

In California, 1 in 3 Hospitalized Patients over 34 Has Diabetes

Hospitalizations for patients with diabetes on average cost about $2,200 more than for patients who didn’t have the disease. (Getty Images)

Hospitalizations for patients with diabetes on average cost about $2,200 more than for patients who didn’t have the disease. (Getty Images)

By Daniela Hernandez, Kaiser Health News

In California, roughly one in three hospitalized people over 34 years old has diabetes, increasing the complexity and cost of their care, according to a report released Thursday.

“If you have diabetes, it’s more challenging to treat anything.”
Hospitalizations for patients with diabetes on average cost about $2,200 more than for patients who didn’t have the disease, regardless of the reason they were admitted, according to the report by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

“Diabetes … affects most body systems in one way or another,” said Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy and one of the authors of the study. “If you have diabetes, it’s more challenging to treat anything.” Continue reading

Study: Does A Junk Food Diet Make You Tired?

 

UCLA psychology professor Aaron Blaisdell studied what happened to rats when they were fed a junk food diet. (Photo/Chris Richard)

UCLA psychology professor Aaron Blaisdell studied what happened to rats when they were fed a junk food diet. (Photo/Chris Richard)

By Chris Richard

A new UCLA psychology study has found evidence that being overweight may make people tired and then become more sedentary, not the other way around.

The rats on the junk food diet rested nearly twice as long as the lean rats.    
 Researchers got the proof from testing rats, whose physiology is similar to that of human beings.

A team led by psychology professor Aaron Blaisdell of UCLA’s Brain Research Institute put one group of 16 rats on the standard lab diet, largely ground corn, wheat, soybean and fish meal. A second group got a highly processed and refined diet, with casein as the main protein source, soybean oil, sugar and a little starch: a rat’s version of junk food.

It may be no surprise that after three months, the junk food eaters got fat. Continue reading

Emotional Symptoms Can Linger After Kids’ Concussions

Emotional symptoms such as frustration, and sleep difficulty can start more than a week after the initial injury and may be a sign of more serious concussion. (Paul-W/Flickr)

While headaches and fatigue are the most common concussion symptoms, nearly one in five patients may also suffer emotional symptoms. (Paul-W/Flickr)

By Brian Lau

That big hit your child took on the football field was over a week ago. He says his headaches are gone — but he’s just not himself. He can’t sleep and he just snapped back at you when you asked him how he was doing. You wonder if this is just normal teenager behavior or a sign of the concussion.

Frustration, irritability, and sleep difficulty a week or more after injury may signal a more serious concussion.
Concussions are diagnosed by physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, difficulty thinking clearly, or fatigue after a head injury. But those physical symptoms may evolve into emotional symptoms during the days and weeks after an injury according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Yes, headaches and fatigue were the most common symptoms immediately following a concussion, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. But emotional symptoms such as frustration, irritability, restlessness, and sleep difficulty were seen in up to 17 percent of patients a week or more after injury and may be a marker of a more serious concussion. Continue reading

Hoarding Can Start Early, But Harder to Spot Signs in Teens

Teens may not have had enough time to accumulate a lot of stuff, but they may still  have symptoms. (Tara R./Flickr)

Teens may not have had enough time to accumulate a lot of stuff, but they may still have symptoms. (Tara R./Flickr)

By Maanvi Singh, NPR

Hoarding disorder is generally diagnosed in older adults, after their inability to discard things and their anxiety over possessions leave them unable to function. But it may take root much earlier in life, though psychiatrists say they’re just starting to figure that out.

Study shows 2 percent of teens may have the disorder.

Hoarding symptoms may look different in teenagers than they do in adults, researchers reported at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting this week in New York.

A seriously cluttered living space is one of the main signs of hoarding disorder in adults. But teens who show some of the symptoms of hoarding usually haven’t collected nearly as many things as adults, says Volen Ivanov, a psychologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Continue reading

Study: Heavy Bleeding Very Common As Women Approach Menopause

So common that it will help doctors determine when bleeding is normal, when interveetinon is necessary. (Getty Images)

The researchers hope their findings will help doctors and patients understand what “normal” bleeding is during perimenopause. (Getty Images)

 By Jennifer Huber

I could hear the fear and panic in my friend’s voice over the phone. She was having her period, but bleeding so heavily that she was debating whether to go to the emergency room. Yet she wasn’t sure. She wondered if she might be over-reacting, if her experience was simply what happened as a woman approached menopause.

More than three-fourths of women in the study reported periods lasting at least 10 days.

As women get older, their periods can begin to change. This perimenopausal time typically starts when a woman is in her 40s and lasts about four years. (The average age of menopause, when periods stop, is 51.) For some women, the transition means unpredictable, prolonged or heavy bleeding, and that can be frightening. Now new research shows that these changes may be quite normal.

In the study, researchers from across the country, including UC Davis and UCLA, reviewed data from 1,320 women ages 42-52 who kept detailed records of their menstrual cycles over time. The researchers found that instances of heavy or prolonged bleeding were very common. Continue reading

Words Matter: To Get Kids to Help, Try Switching How You Ask

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Maanvi Singh, NPR

Motivating children to stop playing and help out with chores isn’t exactly an easy sell, as most parents and teachers will attest. But how you ask can make all the difference, psychologists say.

“Helping” versus “being a helper.”

If you say something like, “Please help me,” the kids are more likely to keep playing with their Legos. But ask them, “Please be a helper,” and they’ll be more responsive, researchers report this week in the journal Child Development.

Being called a helper makes kids feel like they’re embodying a virtue, says Christopher Bryan, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego and one of the researchers behind the study.

“It’s really important to all of us to be good people,” Bryan says. Helping is nice, but helpers are good people.

Continue reading