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40 Ways to Stop Gaining Weight

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Let’s face it, plenty of people have gained weight during the pandemic and lockdowns. While you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself about it—it was a really, really tough year—you may be itching to lose some of it in an effort to feel lighter and happier with your body. But how? We talked to plenty of experts in the field—nutritionists, dietitians, personal trainers and doctors—to get simple tips to get the scale moving. In fact, you may be surprised at just how easy it is to avoid gaining weight!

1. Don’t skimp on protein

“Protein is vitally important to keep your muscles happy and healthy, which is important because muscle is one of the main drivers of calorie expenditure,” says Nick Peters, a certified personal trainer with QuickHIT Fitness Labs.

2. Keep sipping

Many people find it daunting to realize just how much their bodies need to stay hydrated and healthy. “One way to make sure you’re consuming enough water every day is to get a water bottle with clear volume measurements on it,” says Peters. “Keep it next to you while you’re working as a constant reminder to take a sip and stay healthy.” A good rule of thumb is to aim for half your body weight in ounces per day (for example a 200-pound person should aim for 100 ounces of water).

3. Make activity a consistent priority

This past year many of us learned that regular physical activity is crucial for our bodies to stay in shape. “Make sure you find something that works for you, and stick with it for the long haul,” says Peters. “Whether that means long walks, regular bike rides or a workout routine at the gym, staying consistent is key.”

4. Add resistance to your workout

Strength training is one of the most effective ways for people of any age to stay in shape. “It’ll help you build lean muscle, increase bone density and burn fat even when you’re not working out,” says Peters.

5. Fill up on fiber

Like protein, fiber helps us to keep feeling full, longer—so you’ll be less likely to want to reach for a snack shortly after a major meal. “Fiber is also generally found in foods naturally lower in calories like fruits and vegetables, so it’s a great nutrient to focus on when trying to maintain your weight,” says Kylie Morse, Registered Dietician at Fit Body App.

Related: 20 Foods High in Soluble Fiber

6. Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time

Being prepared with some of your meals and snacks can help you to make more nourishing food choices, says Morse. It also helps to avoid skipping meals, which can result in overeating later in the day.

7. Utilize tools to help stay on track

While tracking calories shouldn’t turn into an obsession, it is a good way to start noticing patterns. “As a dietitian, I like to remind everyone that calorie tracking is simply another tool in the tool chest,” says Morse. “When it comes to weight loss, calorie and macronutrient awareness is the key.” It’s good to know how calories are calculated for food. 

8. Choose lower-calorie alcohol options

“If you drink alcohol, avoiding sugary or high-calorie drinks can help you to maintain your weight while still enjoying a drink or two every now and then,” says Morse. She notes that some lower-calorie drink options include red wine, seltzers, vodka and tequila. Here are four rules to follow for low-calorie cocktails.

9. Don’t drink your calories

“This can help to save you hundreds of ‘empty calories’ and tons of added sugar,” says Dr. Josh Axe author of the best-selling book Ancient Remedies. Make plain water your beverage of choice followed by coffee (unsweetened), teas, sparkling water and clear broth.

10. Cut out added sugar and refined carbs

“Neither of these are filling; in fact, they tend to make you eat and crave more and more, contributing to a higher calorie intake,” says Dr. Axe. Reduce your intake by avoiding things like sweetened dairy products, cereals, granola, desserts, ice cream, breads, rolls and pasta.

11. Figure out your calorie needs

“First learn about the calories your body needs based on your age, gender and activity level, then learn about the calorie content of foods you eat repeatedly so you can make swaps for lower-calorie items where needed,” says Dr. Axe.

12. Keep a food journal

“This can be an eye-opening habit that helps you better grasp how much you’re really eating each day, plus it points out patterns such as times you may be snacking out of boredom or stress rather than due to real physical hunger,” says Dr. Axe.

13. Consider trying intermittent fasting

“This tool involves shortening your ‘eating window’ to about 8 or 9 hours each day, meaning you fast (you only drink water, coffee, tea) for the other 16+ hours,” says Dr. Axe. “Fasting can help promote healthy blood sugar levels, boost your body’s ability to burn fat and stabilize your appetite.”

Related: 21 Tips to Help You Succeed at Intermittent Fasting

14. Cook more often at home

One of the simplest ways to nix calories and processed ingredients from your diet is to make your own meals rather than relying on take-out, frozen, packaged foods or restaurants, notes Dr. Axe.

15. Flavor your food with low-calorie ingredients

The better that healthy food tastes, the less likely you’ll be to stray and crave junk foods. Dr. Axe suggests boosting the taste of healthy meals with ingredients like good quality sea salt and spices, herbs, vinegars and quality olive oil.

16. Add high-intensity intervals to your workouts

“Rather than always doing steady-state cardio exercises like running or biking, try adding challenging intervals into your routine in which you really push yourself hard for short bursts—such as 1 or 2 minutes at a time before resting and repeating,” suggests Dr. Axe. This can help give your metabolism a boost, challenge your muscles and may promote fat loss.

Related: 8 Best At-Home HIIT Workouts on YouTube 

17. Sip on vegan broth throughout the day

“I like this one from Grace’s Goodness Organics which is packed full of nutrients,” says Christina Towle, a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Founder of Hudson Valley Nutrition. “It is so satisfying yet still low in calories.” She explains that it helps the body rest between meals so that it can play ‘catch-up” in processing previous meals. This results, she explains, in faster metabolization, which ultimately results in weight loss.

18. Be cautious of your sugar intake

“High-sugar foods and beverages are usually high in calories and fat that result in weight gain,” says Towle. “If you desire something sweet, take a teaspoon of high-quality raw, manuka honey like this one from Manukora that is packed full of antioxidants and also tastes delicious to satisfy cravings.”

19. Sleep

Many studies confirm that sleep helps with weight loss. “To help sleep, sip on a sleep tea at night,” suggests Towle. “It will help calm you down and keep you out of the kitchen.”

20. Go the extra mile

“Walking is a great way to keep off the pounds—in fact, walking over 10,000 steps a day can assist you in losing up to a pound a week,” says Steph Boll, a certified personal trainer and founder and editor of Spikes and Heels. Parking at the furthest point from the entrance of the shop, doing a few laps around the office, or walking to fetch the kids from school instead of driving can contribute to your daily goal of ten thousand steps.

21. Buy healthier everyday essentials

“Of all the things in your kitchen, there are two items most households consume on a daily basis: bread and milk,” says Boll. “By switching from full cream to fat-free milk and from white bread to whole wheat, your daily carb and fat intake will dramatically drop.”

22. Use smaller plates

“This helps you have more control over the portions you eat,” says Dr. Ahmed Helmy, a plastic surgeon. “You serve up a smaller amount of food which reduces the risk of overeating.”

23. Drink sparkling water

“The carbonation helps to make you feel full, while the water content provides hydration to your body,” says Dr. Helmy. “This acts as an appetite suppressant and gives you an excuse to skip on the sugary soda.”

24. Start with a salad

“Try to focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables first before other foods, so start with a big salad before lunch or dinner,” says Heather Hanks, a nutritionist with Instapot. She notes that vegetables are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to support weight loss naturally. They are very filling and will help you consume fewer calories during the rest of your meal.

25. Take a brief walk after meals

Not only is this a great way to sneak in some more exercise, but walking after meals helps with digestion so you can avoid bloating,” says Jen Hernandez, a Registered Dietitian board-certified in renal nutrition. When focusing on weight loss, it’s good to make sure you’re not keeping on weight simply from water or constipation. She suggests aiming for 10-15 minutes after your meal.

26.  Make substitutions

“If you enjoy chips and salsa between meals, substitute carrot sticks in place of chips,” says Hernandez. “If you like sweeter snacks, top your favorite low-sugar yogurt with some cherries.”  She suggests sautéing some sliced apples with a little coconut oil and cinnamon for a warm and satisfying dessert.

27. Drink coffee to stimulate your metabolism

“Research has shown that caffeine and coffee can increase your metabolic rate in both normal and obese individuals,” says Dr. Allen Conrad, owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales PA. He explains that your metabolism slows down as we age, and stimulating your metabolism will help you maintain a constant weight.

28. Avoid eating really big meals at one time

“Eating a lot of calories in one meal can lead to your body storing the extra calories as extra weight,” says Dr. Conrad.

Related: What is the Paleo Diet?

29. Pack your gym bag the night before

“When you are tired in the morning, you may find excuses why not to go to the gym,” says Dr. Conrad. Getting everything packed and ready to go will help you keep consistent with your exercise program.

30. Sign up for a morning class with a friend

“Working out with a friend helps motivate you, and signing up for a morning class will help get you in a routine,” says Dr. Conrad.  Make it a class you like, so you look forward to it.

31. Walk at lunch

“The most common reason someone stops exercising is that they say they can’t find time,” says Dr. Conrad. By creating ways to keep active, like a lunchtime walk, you will help prevent weight gain.

32. Eat all meals and snacks at a table on a plate without screens

“When we eating standing up or while on the phone our body does not recognize
that we are eating and we tend to have too much or not feel full,” says Dr. Lori Fishman, a psychologist specializing in weight management and an attending psychologist in the Optimal Wellness for Life Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. Eating mindfully and paying attention to our food will help us feel more satisfied and help maintain a healthy weight.

33. Avoid getting to the point where you feel starving

“If you allow too many hours to go by without eating, your body will crave high-glycemic or processed foods for a quick fix,” says Dr. Fishman. You’ll end up feeling hangry. Instead, she suggests trying to eat on a schedule, consuming a meal or snack every three hours.

34. Get out of the diet mindset

“When we go on a strict diet and then eat something not approved, we call it cheating,” says Dr. Fishman. “This often makes us feel terrible about ourselves and we tend to keep eating poorly, feeling that we already ruined the diet so what is the point?” A healthier mindset allows for treats on occasion because you live a healthy lifestyle most of the time. Losing weight safely helps keep it off.

35. Minimize triggers in the home

If you’re about to pick up a box of cookies at the grocery store and say to yourself, “If I buy these they will disappear in 5 minutes” then do not buy them,” advises Dr. Fishman. Avoid having foods in the home that are difficult to control. “It is better to go have one good ice cream cone out than to have a gallon of ice cream in your freezer for instant access at all times,” says Dr. Fishman.

36. Doing something is better than doing nothing

“If you say to yourself, I don’t have time to exercise so I can’t do it today you’re missing an opportunity to do maybe a 10-minute walk or workout instead,” says Dr. Fishman. It is better to do 10 minutes of moving than no moving at all.

Related: 25 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

37. Schedule exercise in advance

If you make your moving time part of your daily routine or schedule it like a work meeting or appointment, you are more likely to make it a priority and get it done, notes Dr. Fishman.

38. Watch out for hidden sugar

Dr. Fishman warns that just because something says organic, 100% fruit, or all-natural does not mean it won’t cause weight gain. Check the grams of sugar in the drinks you are ordering.

39. Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods 90% of the time

“Unprocessed, unrefined foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, lean proteins and healthy fats provide nutrients and phytochemicals that optimize metabolism and cellular health, minimizing fat gain,” says Michelle Tierney, a Registered Dietitian and certified personal trainer.

40. Exercise for 30-60 minutes per day at least 4 days a week

Consistent exercise not only burns calories while you’re engaging in it, but it also builds muscle, which burns more calories at rest, contributes to metabolic health, and helps balance energy input and output explains Tierney.

Up next: A healthy diet doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are 80 Delicious, Affordable Foods to Try Today.

Sources

  • Nick Peters, certified personal trainer with QuickHIT Fitness Labs
  • Kylie Morse, Registered Dietician at Fit Body App
  • Dr. Josh Axe, author of Ancient Remedies
  • Christina Towle, Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Founder of Hudson Valley Nutrition
  • Steph Boll, certified personal trainer, founder and editor of Spikes and Heels
  • Dr. Ahmed Helmy, plastic surgeon
  • Heather Hanks, nutritionist with Instapot
  • Jen Hernandez, Registered Dietitian and board-certified in renal nutrition
  • Dr. Allen Conrad, owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center
  • Dr. Lori Fishman, psychologist specializing in weight management and an attending psychologist in the Optimal Wellness for Life Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Michelle Tierney, a Registered Dietitian and certified personal trainer
  • Sleep Foundation, “Weight Loss and Sleep”
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MOV Parent: Time for the lunch bell | News, Sports, Jobs

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The summer months are coming to an end and school is getting closer and closer. When you go back to school it can be difficult to start or continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to choose unhealthy lunch and snack ideas. However, I want to share with you the importance of packing a healthy lunch and preparing a healthy snack when your kids go back to school.

1. Eating a healthy diet can improve your health today and for years to come. Think about how your food choices will be made up throughout the day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.

2. It is important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, as well as dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, drinks, and snacks with limited added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

Some of the negative effects that unhealthy school lunches have on children are mental and physical problems. Eating the wrong diet can lead to obesity or other weight problems. A child with poor diet is more likely to develop diabetes, kidney stones, and heart disease. Without proper nutrition, a child’s academic performance will decline. Sleep behavior is also affected when children do not eat enough nutritious foods. These children may also exhibit more aggressive behavior and lower attention spans.

When I was in school I packed my own lunch. Most of the time I just tossed everything I could find into a bag and called it lunch. I would wrap anything from cookies to leftover pizza. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood why I should choose healthier options. I decided to work on a healthier lifestyle and now cucumber and melon are my favorite food when I wrap lunch.

Becoming more aware of what to give your child for lunch, what your child is packing for lunch, and what groceries you bring around the house can help them feel better, be better, and be healthier.

As a parent, you can help your child choose healthier options by:

1. Regular family meals

2. Serving a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks

3. Be a role model by eating healthily yourself

4. Avoid fighting over food

5. Include children in the process

Figuring out the best lunch options for your child can be difficult. You could try some of these options:

* Turkey + cheddar roll-up, fresh berries, yogurt and trail mix

* Cheese quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries

* Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, graham crackers, cheese spread and a peach cup

* Turkey slices, cheese cubes, pita wedges, hummus, baby carrots and celery

To make lunch more attractive to your child, try different foods. Some ideas include:

* Make potato salad or pasta salad multi-colored. Use fun noodles or add hard boiled eggs, beans, peas or small cubes of meat for extra protein.

* Cut raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of low-fat dip.

* Add a piece of fruit for dessert, washed and ready to eat, or a packet of fruit salad.

* Try reduced-fat cheese cubes or cheese spreads with whole grain crackers.

* Few children can resist yogurt, a good source of protein and calcium that is now available in many different flavors and shapes.

* Choose healthy snacks. Pack pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, dried flakes, or trail mix.

After a long day at school, your children will be hungry. Having healthy snacks for your children after school is important. You can have a snack ready and waiting for them or allow them to choose from the healthy options you have around the house.

The American Heart Association has a list of healthy snack options divided into categories based on cravings. Some of these snacks are:

* Apples and pears

* Bell pepper slices

* Popcorn

* Nuts and seeds

* Carrots and celery sticks

Make sure you find the right ones that suit your family’s needs.

While I was in grades 3-12, I got involved in post-school sports. It was important to have a healthy snack before training and games. The snacks I always chose were apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter.

I also enjoyed applesauce. My parents bought the sugar-free version and I added cinnamon. These were simple and healthy snacks that I could grab on my own.

“There is nothing unhealthy about educating young people about nutrition.” – Pierre Dukan

***

Megan Zwick is a program assistant in Family and Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County. She can be reached at zwick.54@osu.edu.

***

resources

* Stadler, M. (2018, August). Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas. (2018, August 14).

* Hopkins, A. (2019 August 15). 15 Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat

* What is MyPlate?

* Dukan, P. (n.d.). Healthy eating quote. 34 Best Quotes About Healthy Eating For You And Your Children.

* Schuna, C. (no year). The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches. LIVESTRONG.COM.

* Ben-Joseph, EP (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy nutrition (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Children’s health.

* School lunches. Harvard Health. (2015, July 16).

* Healthy snacking. www.herz.org. (nd).

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7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

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When your stomach is fine, you never think about it – but when you don’t, it’s hard to think about anything else. The group of microorganisms that live in and make up your gastrointestinal tract play a role in almost every aspect of your health, from preventing chronic disease to maintaining your immune system. So it’s no wonder that you feel lousy when things get out of hand.

But what exactly is your gut feeling? And is it possible to improve your gut health? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the intestine?

The human intestine is much more complex than even experts once realized – it comprises a multitude of internal organs that are involved in the digestive process to absorb nutrients from food and excrete waste, explains Rushabh Modi, MD, a certified physician in both internal medicine and Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “Typically, this refers to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon, with the pancreas and liver being crucial as supporting organs that help make digestive enzymes,” he says.

How your gut keeps your body healthy

In addition to absorbing and transporting nutrients to all tissues in the body, the intestine is critical to maintaining fluid and salt levels and eliminating waste, explains Dr. Modes. “Many vital nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and iron have special transporters that only exist in the intestine,” he adds. Iron, for example, needs stomach acid to be absorbed effectively – and B12 also needs certain receptors in the stomach and middle intestines to be absorbed. “These nutrients are difficult to obtain in any other way and they are essential for normal physiological function,” adds Dr. Modes added.

The gut is also one of the body’s most important disease control systems. “The acid in the stomach kills the bacteria and viruses that can inadvertently be ingested through food, and the digestive tract is an important way of introducing antigens to boost immune function and protection in the body,” says Christine Lee, MD . Gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The digestive tract also digests the foods ingested and extracts the essential nutrients that the body can absorb for vital use.”

New research has even uncovered a link between poor gut health and several neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and depression. One such study from the Université de Genève found that people with Alzheimer’s have different types of bacteria in their gut than those who do not have the disease.

8 signs your gut is suffering

If your gut is unhealthy, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms, even if it’s mild or rare:

  1. gas
  2. Flatulence
  3. Acid reflux
  4. heartburn
  5. diarrhea
  6. constipation
  7. Changes in stool
  8. Inexplicable weight loss
    1. “Since food digestion and waste production are the two most important functions of the intestine, if there are problems in these areas, the intestine can often be the cause of the problem,” explains Dr. Modes. Acid reflux and heartburn have also been linked to the gut, although you may feel the pain further from the core of the problem. Flatulence is also becoming more common, so Dr. Modi notes that patients view them as almost a normal reaction to eating certain foods.

      If you experience unexplained weight loss despite eating regular meals, it may indicate that your body is unable to digest or absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat and that there is a problem in your digestive system, according to Dr. Lee.

      How to improve your gut health

      The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to support your gut health. Here are some of the strategies doctors recommend.

      Eat a wide variety of healthy foods

      A diet made up of several different food types can result in a more diverse microbiome made up of more types, according to a report published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, explains Dr. Lee, strengthens our microbiome and increases its resilience.

      The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those with the highest fiber content that help your digestive tract function properly. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams per day.

      And cut down on unhealthy foods. “The more fat, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health gets,” said Scott David Lippe, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is especially important to keep in mind at dinner, as restaurants tend to consume salt, fat, and fat because they taste good.

      Try to leave out dairy products

      If you experience gas, gas, or loose bowel movements after drinking milk or eating cheese, you may be lactose intolerant. “This affects many adults, especially those who have no Northern European ancestry,” says Dr. Lip. “A quick and easy test is to drink a glass of regular milk – if you feel unwell, you are lactose intolerant.” If you are not ready to give up dairy products, you can also try taking lactose tablets before consuming dairy foods take.

      Consider a probiotic

      These tiny little microorganisms aid your metabolism and help rebalance your microbiota, says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, gastroenterologist and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Psychiatry, UNC Division of Gastroenterology at the UNC School of Medicine. He recommends taking them when you have symptoms of an unhealthy bowel; however, there can be no other benefit. In fact, there isn’t a lot of research to prove the benefits of probiotics for the gut.

      For example, a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology found that probiotics positively affect the gut microbiota of people with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but do little to improve the gut microbiota of healthy people. “If you are taking antibiotics or have diarrhea, taking probiotics can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Lip. However, he recommends trying to get your fair share of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi first.

      Include more prebiotics in your diet

      “Prebiotics are not bacteria, they are foods that good bacteria like to eat,” explains Dr. Milstein. “We have to feed the good bacteria and starve the bad bacteria.” He recommends eating foods rich in bacteria such as walnuts, berries, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, asparagus, leeks and whole grain products. “The diet is personalized, but putting some fruits and vegetables and fiber on our plate with every meal helps keep gut and brain health,” adds Dr. Milstein added.

      Monitor your vitamin D levels

      Recent research in Nature Communications has examined the relationship between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels and found that deficiency in the nutrient plays a key role in increasing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, plays. Any form of disruption of the GI barrier, according to Dr. Drossman commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” which can increase a person’s risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional GI diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. “Most people with leaky gut have very low levels of vitamin D and very low levels of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA,” he says. He recommends that most people consume at least 5,000 IU (125 µg) of vitamin D3 daily and consume sufficient fish oil (or the vegan equivalent) of 1,000 mg DHA per day. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

      Manage your stress level

      Stress not only puts a strain on your mental health, but also on your physical well-being. Chronic high stress can, according to Dr. Drossman directly affect your gut health. While removing stressors from your life isn’t always possible, stress management strategies like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, or yoga can help, says Dr. Drossman. “It’s also a smart idea to see a psychologist to see if brain and gut therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness) can be used,” he adds.

      Get a good night’s sleep every night

      When you don’t get enough sleep, your whole body is affected, including your intestines. In fact, new research shows how closely your gut microbiome and the quality of your sleep really are. A study by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found that poor sleep, for reasons as yet unknown, can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can then manifest itself in a variety of other health problems, including autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.


      Jenn Sinrich is a veteran writer, digital and social editor, and content strategist specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and relationships.

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    YOUR HEALTH: When heart health is a matter of race

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    PITTSBURGH – Up to 1 in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy.

    Their hearts have enlarged, thickened, or stiffened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

    Now, new research examines racial differences in the outcomes of these heart patients.

    “If we don’t give patients good medicines and the like over time, they will develop into what is known as clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath and leg swelling,” said Dr. Shazli Khan. Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    People with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms may be very mild to begin with.

    Dr. Khan examines racial differences in cardiomyopathy outcomes.

    She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a period of six years.

    “What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of many chronic diseases,” said Dr. Khan.

    “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher diabetes rates.”

    If black patients are on optimized heart failure therapy and continue to have symptoms, they can get additional benefit from taking hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, known under the brand name BiDil.

    Previous research suggested that black patients had a much higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, including chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes.

    “In fact, they died more than the white cardiomyopathy patients,” said Dr. Khan.

    Researchers found that black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15% more likely to die than white patients.

    Dr. Khan says the study results suggest that providers should emphasize earlier interventions.

    “That they come in to fill their medication, make appointments, give them resources, and educate them about the long-term effects of certain medical conditions.”

    Patients are advised to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken or fish.

    Also, focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Doctors will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history.

    You will also be asked when your symptoms are occurring, such as whether exercise is causing your symptoms.

    If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, several tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis, including an X-ray test to see if your heart is enlarged.

    Several blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney, thyroid, and liver function, and to measure your iron levels, and a treadmill test to see your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing while you run on a treadmill.

    Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate symptoms, determine your physical fitness, and see if exercise is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.

    If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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