Dementia Rates in the U.S. Fell 24% from 2000 to 2012, But…

The thought of developing dementia in old age is terrifying for many, especially if they’ve watched a loved one suffer under its grip. A bit of good news, though; a study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that overall dementia rates in the United States fell 24% from 2000 to 2012. That means about one million fewer Americans had the condition. [1]

Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and a coauthor of the new study, said:

“It’s definitely good news. Even without a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or a new medication, there are things that we can do socially and medically and behaviorally that can significantly reduce the risk.”

The term “dementia” refers to a loss of memory or other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease, caused by a buildup of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, is the most common form of dementia. Vascular dementia, which can occur after a person has suffered a stroke, is the 2nd most common form of dementia.

Source: Alzheimer’s San Diego

Determining the Numbers

The study, which began in 1992, looked at over 21,000 adults over age 50. Data were collected on the individuals every two years. Researchers conducted detailed interviews with the participants about their health, income, cognitive ability, and life circumstances. The investigators also conducted physical tests and body measurements, and took blood and saliva samples. They discovered the following:

  • Dementia prevalence among adults 65 and older decreased from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012
  • Participants who had more education had the lowest rates of dementia
  • The average years of education increased significantly from 11.8 years in 2000 to 12.7 years in 2012.
  • The drop in dementia prevalence occurred despite a significant age- and sex-adjusted increase in between the data-collection years in the cardiovascular risk profile (e.g., prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity) among older U.S. adults.

Read: How to Stay Sharp and Avoid Dementia as You Age

Contributing Factors to the Decline

The reasons behind the drop in dementia rates aren’t clear, but there are some findings that stand out.

The JAMA study shows – as do past studies – that both early education and lifelong education appear to help keep the mind healthy and sharp. The authors suggest that perhaps education ought to be viewed as “a potent strategy for the primary prevention of dementia in both high- and low-income countries around the world.”

In fact, according to the authors, past studies have shown that:

“…the relationships among education, brain biology, and cognitive function are complex and likely multidirectional; for instance, a number of recent population-based studies have shown genetic links with level of educational attainment and with the risk of cognitive decline in later life.”

Additionally, highly educated individuals are more likely to not smoke, to get more exercise, and to eat a healthier diet. This is also true of people who have more cognitively complex occupations.

Source: Public Health England

Better access to healthcare also played a role in the decline, the researchers wrote.

Dementia is Still a Serious Problem

The advice embedded in the results is clear: stay active, both physically and mentally. Never stop learning. Eat right. Don’t smoke. More people are getting the message that staying propped up in front of the TV is hazardous to health, and are heeding the warning.

Overall, the drop in dementia rates could be largely due to the better control of cardiovascular risk factors, like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Keith Fargo is the director of scientific programs and outreach, medical and scientific relations, at the Alzheimer’s Association. He said:

“If you control those risk factors, it’s natural to expect that rates of vascular dementia will go down. It’s also reasonable to expect that Alzheimer’s-related dementia may go down as well because now, instead of having both, you have Alzheimer’s in an overall healthier brain.” [2]

Read: How Music ‘Radically’ Improves the Brain, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s

However, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss remain a huge public health challenge and a significant financial burden. There are currently about five million Americans suffering with dementia. As people continue to live longer, that number is expected to triple by 2050. [1]

The number of Americans over age 65 is expected to double by 2050, to 84 million. That means that even if the percentage of elderly people who develop dementia is smaller than previously estimated, the total number of Americans with dementia will continue to increase, according to Fargo. He said:

“Alzheimer’s is going to remain the public health crisis of our time, even with modestly reduced rates.”

Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said:

“What we need now is to educate middle-aged people, since that’s where the risk factors are most important. Unfortunately, as the baby boomers turn 80, I worry that the silver tsunami will swamp this benefit.” [2]

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] UPI

Alert.Psychnews

Alzheimer’s San Diego

Public Health England

It’s a Mindset: In Order to Get Fit, You Must THINK of Yourself as Fit

If you know you’re not as physically active as you should be, stop thinking about it and start doing something about it. People who view themselves as lazy compared to others are more likely to die at a younger age, even if their actual activity levels were the same. [1]

That means people who thought they were less active than their peers likely weren’t reaping the full benefits of exercise, all because of their negative attitude.

Lead author Octavia Zahrt, a Stanford PhD student in organizational behavior, says she knows firsthand how negative self-talk and toxic comparisons can make a solid effort seem lazy.

She explained:

“I am from Germany, and back there I felt really good about my activity level. I biked to work, and went to the gym maybe once a week.”

Zahrt says that when she moved to California, she was suddenly “surrounded by people who exercise all the time. Compared to them I felt really inactive, and I developed what I know now was a really negative mindset about my physical activity.”

The ‘Side Effects’ of Negative Attitudes

That feeling of inadequacy led Zahrt and her faculty adviser, Alia Crum, PhD, to study the possible effects of such an attitude on long-term health. The duo analyzed data from more than 61,000 adults who were surveyed between 1990 and 2006 followed until 2011.

The participants were asked about their activity levels, and some were given accelerometers to wear so they could track their real-time activity for a week. All of the volunteers were also asked, “Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about as active as other persons your age?”

The researchers found that those who believed they were less active than others were 71% more likely to die during the study’s follow-up period. That was the case even after the team adjusted for disability, general health status, and demographics, plus actual activity levels.

Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it – you could be bending and lifting a lot at work, or weeding the garden and mowing the lawn every weekend and still have a startling higher risk of death just because you don’t consider those activities “exercise” and you don’t consider yourself “fit.”

The researchers found that, most of the time, the participants underestimated their activity levels when comparing themselves to others.

Zahrt said:

“It can be easy to compare how much exercise we get with the people around us, as opposed to what’s recommended for everyone. Plus, a lot of people think that exercise has to mean running or going to the gym, and they don’t give themselves credit for all of the other activity they do – cleaning their house, walking to the store, carrying their kids, those sorts of things.”

I hate to credit a saying that’s become so cliché, but in this case, it’s gospel truth: Attitude is everything.

Crum first studied the “placebo effect” of exercise a decade ago. She explained:

“These women were getting lots of exercise, but when we asked them they didn’t have the mindset that their work was good exercise.” [2]

The participants – all hotel attendants – were given a presentation explaining that all the heavy lifting, walking, and physical labor they did at work was good exercise. Then, Crum and her teammates tracked the women for a month.

Crum said:

“The women who started to look at their work as good exercise had improvements in blood pressure and body fat.”

She added:

“What’s surprising to me is how robust the accumulated evidence is on the power of mindset in shaping our health, and yet people are still so shocked when they hear results like this.” [1]

Yes – How You Think Affects Your Health (and much More)

People shouldn’t be shocked because there is a ridiculous amount of scientific evidence that how you think affects your health, for better or for worse. Seriously, let’s look at just a few examples.

In the End…

You have to see yourself as an active person, but be careful; it would be so simple to actually backslide and become less active than you should be. It’s important to recognize the activeness revolving around certain activities, but be sure not to over-estimate the value of those activities and then avoid other exercises because of it.

One more thing – and I’ll be blunt… If your idea of “exercise” is walking to the fridge, or going to the mall once a month, telling yourself you’re plenty active won’t make it so. You deserve to be realistic with yourself.

Crum said:

“This is not an excuse to just stop doing anything but believe you’re doing everything. It’s a reminder that, yes, you should work to get active in your life – but you should also be mindful of those negative thoughts that can creep in and the effects they might have.

Just because you didn’t get to that Spin class or that fancy new fitness class, doesn’t mean you’re not as healthy as those who do.” [1]

Zahrt agreed, adding:

“If we can change our perceptions to view all activity as good activity, we think that could be a first and really important step to improving our health.”

Sources:

[1] Health

[2] NPR

A Third of Fast-Food Packaging Contains Dangerous Chemicals

Most people are aware that fast-food has no redeeming qualities, but never give a second thought to the paper their burgers come wrapped in. But even fast-food packaging can make you sick, as pointed out by research published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. This is yet another example of how fast-food wrappers contain dangerous chemicals – called fluorinated chemicals. [1]

Researchers tested 400 fast-food packages from various restaurants in the U.S. and found that more than a third of them contained poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. These chemicals are everywhere – in non-stick pans, pizza boxes, cell phones, and even in backpacks. In fast-food wrappers, they are used as a coating to repel moisture. [2]

Two PFAS – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) – have been shown to cause:

  • Testicular and kidney cancer
  • Liver malfunction
  • Hormonal changes
  • Thyroid disruption
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Lower birth weight and size
Source: Run Healthy Lifestyle

Xenia Trier, a chemist at the European Environment Agency who was not involved with the study, says:

“These chemicals are very convenient. You can use something like paper. If it’s untreated it will soak fat, it will soak water. As such it’s not very efficient as a food container. If you impregnate these food containers with these [chemicals] they get this magic—they work for everything.” [1]

She adds that, “unfortunately we do know they are quite toxic and have been associated with many diseases.”

Past studies have shown that PFASs on food packaging can seep into your food, said Laurel Schaider, a research scientist at the Silent Spring Institute and one of the authors of the paper.

She said:

“These studies have found that the extent of migration depends on the temperature of the food, the type of food and how long the food is in contact with the paper. And it depends on which specific chemical” is in the packaging. [2]

In 2011, after the FDA reviewed packaging materials, several manufacturers voluntarily agreed to stop using PFASs in their food packaging products. The presence of elements of fluorine may not be manufacturers’ fault, the researchers say. Rather, it may have entered the system from the use of recycled materials. [3]

Recently, the FDA has been urged once again to launch a study into the consequences of using chemicals like phthalates in food packagingThis is more proof that our food packaging is tainted with toxins.

Would You Like Toxins With That?

For the study, which involved researchers from 5 different institutions, more than 400 samples of fast-food packaging was collected from 27 leading U.S. food chains, and divided into 6 categories:

  • Food contact paper (sandwich wrappers and pastry bags)
  • Food contact paperboard (pizza and French fry boxes)
  • Non-contact paper (outer bags)
  • Paper cups
  • Other beverage containers (milk and juice containers)
  • Miscellaneous (lids) [2]

Food contact papers were divided into 3 categories:

  • Sandwiches
  • Burgers
  • Fried foods

Of the food contact papers tested, 46% tested positive for fluorine, a marker of PFASs. Food contact paperboard came in 2nd, at 20%, followed by other beverage containers at 16%. All of the other categories tested negative for fluorine.

Tex-Mex food packaging and dessert and bread wrappers were the worst offenders, and were more likely to contain fluorine than other categories of food packaging. [3]

Avoiding PFASs

Hopefully you don’t eat fast-food often, but even if you’re a once-in-a-while diet cheater, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from PFASs:

  • Take food out of its packaging immediately.
  • Ask that your fries of dessert be served in a paper cup or noncontact paper bag – that outer bag that all your items are usually put into when you get your food. [2]

There are plenty of fluorine-free products that manufacturers can use, so if the idea of eating something that was wrapped in chemicals used to main raincoats bothers you, pressure your fast-food chains to cut out PFASs.

Schaider says:

“I think that this study provides yet another reason to support the idea that eating more fresh food and more home-cooked meals is better for our health, but it’s hard to avoid the convenience of fast food, especially in people’s busy lives.”

Sources:

[1] Popular Science

[2] CNN

[3] Consumer Affairs

Run Healthy Lifestyle

Could Probiotics Be Used as a Viable Treatment for Depression and IBS?

Many depression sufferers also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a small study suggests that taking probiotics may ease both conditions.

Researchers from McMaster University in Canada conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial that uncovered a link between probiotics and mood improvement in 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate depression or anxiety. The study also showed that probiotics caused changes in regions of the brain related to emotional processing. [1]

For the study, participants were divided into two groups and followed for 10 weeks. Half of the subjects took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum, and the other half took a placebo.

After 6 weeks, 64% of those who took probiotics had decreased depression scores, compared to 32% of those who took a placebo.

Functional MRI scans revealed that improved depression scores were associated with changes in several areas of the brain involved in mood regulation. The authors wrote that those changes “support the notion that this probiotic has anti-depressive properties.” [2]

The findings did not indicate that those in the probiotic group experienced statistically significant independent changes in anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, or pain. But those in the probiotic group did report improvements in overall symptoms of IBS and in quality of life.

“In a placebo-controlled trial, we found that the probiotic BL reduces depression but not anxiety scores and increases quality of life in patients with IBS. These improvements were associated with changes in brain activation patterns that indicate that this probiotic reduces limbic reactivity,” the study concluded.

Read: Our Gut is Our “Second Brain” – It Affects Mood and Health More than You Know

One explanation for the improved depression scores could be that as their physical symptoms improved, their emotional symptoms followed suit. But Dr. Roger McIntyre, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto, thinks it’s more likely that the probiotics may actually be working on the brain itself.

“We know that one part of the brain, the amygdala, tends to be red hot in people with depression, and it seemed to cool down with this intervention. It provides more scientific believability that something in the brain, at a very biological level, seems to be affected by this probiotic.” [2]

Gastroenterologist and lead researcher Premysl Bercik, M.D., added:

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.” [3]

Antidepressants are known to disturb “good” gut bacteria, so probiotic supplements – which produced few side effects in the study – could be a safe, natural way to treat depression.

The probiotics were manufactured and provided by Nestlé, which also funded the study. The food company reportedly was not involved in collection, analysis, or interpretation of the study data.

Sources:

[1] Gastroenterology

[2] Time

[3] Science Daily

Study: Vaping Raises Risk of Heart Attacks, Strokes, Depression

E-cigarettes may be an effective way of helping people to quit smoking regular cigarettes, but studies show that vaping is far from safe. According to the research, people who vape are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes, and depression.

Using the National Health Interview Survey, researchers compared people who reported vaping to with those not reporting any e-cigarette use and found that e-cigarette users had a:

  • 55% greater risk of having a heart attack
  • 44% greater risk of circulatory problems
  • 30% higher risk of having a stroke
  • 10% higher risk of coronary artery disease

The risks were found to be significant for both regular e-cigarette users and those who only imbibe occasionally, though occasional users had slightly lower risks.

Read: Flavored Vape Juice Creates Irritating Chemicals in E-Cigarettes

In a news release, Mohinder Vindhyal, a researcher at the University of Kansas School and the study lead author, said: [2]

“Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use. These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”

Those who reported vaping were more likely to complain of depression, anxiety, and emotional problems, the study found. These problems were 2.2-fold more common with e-cigarette use, and the risk was higher among vapers than among tobacco smokers. [1]

Read: Even Without Nicotine, E-Cigarette Flavorings may Damage Blood Vessels

Vindhyal said: [2]

“When the risk of heart attack increases by as much as 55% among e-cigarette users compared to nonsmokers, I wouldn’t want any of my patients nor my family members to vape. When we dug deeper, we found that regardless of how frequently someone uses e-cigarettes, daily or just on some days, they are still more likely to have a heart attack or coronary artery disease.”

I suppose the main question is: did vaping lead to issues such as heart attacks, strokes, and depression in this study, or are people who experience these issues simply more likely to vape than others?

Sources:

[1] MedPage Today

[2] UPI

Study: Consuming This Kind of Drink is Shortening Your Life

There are many “secrets” to leading a long and healthy life (though they aren’t really secrets). One of them – which I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again – is to limit sugar intake (especially added sugars). One of the best ways to do that is to cut down on sugary, health-hazardous beverages.

According to numerous pieces of research, any sugar-sweetened drink can cut years off of your life, including sports drinks, fruit drinks, and energy drinks. Just because there is a picture of fruit on the label doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption.

And, as you will see, just because you see the word “diet” on the label, you shouldn’t assume that means “healthier.”

Read: Avoid These Drinks to Help Prevent Brain Shrinkage, Dementia, and Strokes

Findings of a Recent Study

To look for a potential link between sugary drink consumption and early death, researchers analyzed information from more than 80,000 women and 37,000 men in the health profession and followed the participants for about 30 years. Each participant was asked to complete a survey about their diet every 4 years, and they answered questions about their lifestyle and overall health every 2 years.

The more sugary drinks a participant consumed, the greater their risk of death was during the study period.

  • Those who consumed 2-6 sugary drinks per week were 6% more likely to die during the study period, compared to those who drank less than 1 sugary drink per month.
  • People who drank 1-2 sugary beverages per day were 14% more likely to die during the study period, compared to those who drank less than 1 sugar-sweetened drink per month.

The findings remained unchanged after researchers accounted for other risk factors for early death and disease, including smoking, alcohol use, physical activity levels, and consumption of fruit and vegetables, and red meat.

In a statement, lead study author Vasanti Malik, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, said:

“Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages) and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity.”

Strong Link to Heart Disease

In the study, sugary beverage consumption was particularly strongly linked with an increased risk of death from heart disease. Participants who drank 2 or more sugary drinks per day had a 31% higher risk of early death from heart disease, compared to those who imbibed infrequently.

Dr. Walter Willett, study co-author and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the same institution, said:

“These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors; and the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for early death.”

Read: Soda Consumption Tied to Increased Coronary Heart Disease Risk

Another Main Cause: Cancer

The second main cause of early death in the study was cancer, primarily of the colon and breast. [2]

Another important takeaway from the study was the finding that diet drinks may not necessarily be safer alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages. Women who consumed 4 or more servings of artificially-sweetened drinks per day had an increased risk of early death. [1]

Compared with women who drank sugary beverages less than once a month, women who had more than 2 servings a day had a 63% increased risk of early death. Men who did the same had a 29% increased risk. [2]

That doesn’t necessarily mean that diet drinks directly caused early death in those people; it may be that people with known heart disease risks switched to diet drinks because of their existing health conditions.

Read: Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

The team said that more research is needed to better examine the link between high diet beverage consumption and heart disease. Another important thing to note is that the study revolved around surveys and self-reporting – which is a method notoriously-known for its inaccuracies.[1]

The study is published in the journal Circulation.

Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] CNN

Giving Up on Losing Weight? Here’s How to Stick with It

If you’ve never tried to lose weight, let me fill you in on something: It can be hard if you don’t know what to do. What’s more, though it can be frustrating only losing a few pounds at a time, that’s the healthiest way to do it. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as it you think. I’m here to help you NOT give up on your weight loss goals.

In the United States, 1 in every 3 people are obese, compared to 1 in 5 just 2 decades ago. But unlike in years past, Americans are now less likely to try to lose the extra weight. People surveyed between 2009 and 2014 were 17% less likely overall to say they’d tried to lose weight in the previous year compared to those surveyed between 1988 and 1994. [1]

It’s a problem when the simply ‘overweight’ have given up on weight-loss the most, putting them at risk of becoming obese.

Senior researcher Dr. Jian Zhang, an associate professor of epidemiology at Georgia Southern University, says:

“This is not good. We are missing the opportunity to stop overweight from becoming obesity.” [1]

Mixed Messages

It’s hard to adhere to a healthy eating pattern when you’re not sure what that even means. Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says:

“First they were told don’t eat fat, and now we are telling patients to reduce simple carbohydrates. While I believe that reducing carbohydrates is key, what the public hears is, ‘I might as well eat what I like because all this advice has not worked.’” [1]

It wasn’t long ago that fat was considered a harbinger of stroke and heart disease, and weight gain. People turned to low-fat and fat-free food, believing them to be the healthy alternatives. In reality, these products are loaded with added sugar to improve flavor, which leads to an increase in those health conditions, as well as diabetes and obesity.

The other sad reality is that people are so used to hearing about the obesity epidemic in America, many have come to believe that obesity is the “new normal” and something they must simply accept.

Read: 4 Mantras for Lasting Weight Loss

Overweight is the New Norm

The researchers behind a study published last year point to a 2010 study in the journal Obesity which detailed “a generational shift in social norms related to body weight.” According to that body of research, between 1998 and 2004, both men and women became less likely to classify themselves as overweight, even when their body mass index (BMI) proved otherwise. [2]

Then there’s the very real frustration of having lost weight only to regain it. It’s easy to feel like a failure when you’ve watched the pounds you’ve shed start to creep back onto your frame. The authors of the new report wrote:

“The longer adults live with obesity, the less they may be willing to attempt weight loss, in particular if they had attempted weight loss multiple times without success.” [2]

According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, after dieting, the body undergoes a series of changes designed to make sure that all the lost weight is gained back.

Thanks for that slap in the face, nature.

6 Simple Tips to Just ‘Stick with It’

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need a plan. And no matter how often the food and ‘nutrition’ industry shifts, stick to that plan and see if it works. As many people can tell you, simply deciding to “diet” and getting rid of unhealthy food in your home may not be enough to sustain you for the duration of your weight-loss.

Here are a few tips to help you on your journey.

1. Set Reasonable Goals

If you want to lose, say, 100 pounds, then you need to start small. There’s no way you can really lose 100 pounds quickly, so you need to set smaller goals that help you get to your ultimate one.

June Kloubec, Ph.D., a professor in the department of nutrition and exercise science at Bastyr University, explains:

“Most experts agree that losing more than 2 pounds per week is difficult to sustain and an unhealthy way to manage weight loss.” [3]

Read: Eating These 3 ‘Fatty’ Foods Can Make You Thinner

Instead, try setting a goal of losing just 5 pounds. You could pick a date to achieve that goal by – but I would simply aim to lose 1-2 lbs per week. If you don’t lose that for 2 weeks straight, re-evaluate your lifestyle and think about cutting something else from your normal diet.

The absolutely best thing you can do for yourself, at least for a few weeks or months, is to vehemently track your calorie intake. No one wants to do it, but it may be the key to your weight loss goals.

2. Reward Yourself

When you reach a new goal, don’t just pat yourself on the back, celebrate! Try including a reward for each 5 pounds lost, for example, so that you have further motivation. I would recommend that you stay at that goal for at least 2 weeks, though, before rewarding yourself.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

There’s a reason people have weight loss blogs. It’s easier to stick to something when there are other people holding you accountable. If you mess up and “fall off the wagon,” confess it to someone. Consider some safe-but-annoying repercussions, too, like completing a household chore you’ve been avoiding. Maybe wash the dishes by hand, even if you have a dishwasher. [4]

4. Invest in Your Health

Got an extra $150 burning a hole in your wallet? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you’d only spend that money on something you’re really serious about, because that kind of cold cash doesn’t come around often. If it does, consider joining a gym or athletic club. If you’re not wild about the idea of working out in front of other people, buy a piece of exercise equipment.

One important note here is that you don’t need cardio to lose weight – you simply need to burn more calories than your taking in. So, if you hate cardio, just focus on diet.

5. Make it Sustainable

Don’t make the mistake that I did. About a decade ago, in an attempt to lose weight, I ate mostly salad for lunch every day at work, with things like apples and bananas for snacks. There wasn’t any protein in those salads, either. I didn’t lose any weight, but I was starving and miserable.

The tricky thing about losing weight is that is usually means you need to eat less…but if adopt a diet that is simply unsustainable, you’ll binge and ultimately end up kicking yourself while your down.

Pick something that works for you. There are so many different diets, and 99% of them can work as long as your body is burning more calories than it is taking in. The Mediterranean diet, the Ketogenic diet, the Paleo diet, and many more are tried and true ways to lose weight – if the diet works for you.

Read: Eat More Protein to Lose Weight and Prevent Diabetes

6. When You Mess up, get up, Dust Yourself off, and Keep Going

Accidents happen. Office birthday cakes happen. You get the idea – temptation is everywhere so you might as well accept that you’re going to “mess up” sometimes. It’s OK. In fact, you shouldn’t really deny yourself your favorite foods. It’s more important that you eat them in moderation, and infrequently.

When you do mess up, though, remember that it doesn’t cancel out the great progress you’ve already made. Even if it’s Day 2 and the only victory you have under your belt so far is that you ate more green beans than meat at dinner last night.

Sources:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Los Angeles Times

[3] Self

[4] Everyday Health

Toxic Weedkiller Dicamba Drift Damages Crops Across America

Roughly 383,000 acres of soybean crops have been injured by the weed-killer dicamba as of June 2018, according to University of Missouri plant sciences professor, Kevin Bradley.

Dicamba destroys everything it touches, other than the crops that are genetically engineered to withstand it. “Dicamba drift” is a well-known term associated with the herbicide because the chemical can be picked up by the wind and land on neighboring non-targeted fields, stunting plants’ growth, and leaving them wrinkled or cupped.

Non-targeted crops and trees have been harmed by dicamba drift for numerous growing seasons, according to Bradley, who has tracked the damage caused by the weed-killer extensively.

In 2017, Monsanto’s (now Bayer) new dicamba-based herbicide, XtendiMax, was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on the company’s Xtend soybeans and cotton. That growing season, XtendiMax reportedly damaged an estimated 3.6 million acres of off-target crops in more than 2 dozen states.

Many crops were also devastated in 2016 when 10 states reported hundreds of thousands of crop acres damaged by the apparent misuse of older, unapproved versions of dicamba.

The summer of 2018 has fared a bit better, but the damage was still palpable, according to Bradley.

“Many growers in [Missouri] have adopted the Xtend trait so they don’t experience dicamba injury on their soybean crop for a third season in a row. Since the adoption of the Xtend trait is so high in this area, relatively speaking there seem to be fewer soybean fields with injury this year compared to last.

However, just as in the past two seasons, there are still fields of non-Xtend soybean in this area showing injury from one end to the other.

More surprising to me than that has been the extent of the trees that are showing symptoms of growth regulator herbicide injury in that part of the state where the adoption of this trait is so high.”

Compared to 2017, 2018 has seen more cases of off-target movement of the chemical to specialty crops, vegetables, ornamental plants, and trees, said Bradley. [2]

Read: Complaints About Crop Damage Spur Temporary Ban on Dicamba in 2 States

He writes in the report:

“I have personally witnessed this increasing problem of off-target dicamba injury to “other” crops and tree species in the calls I have received, field visits, and “windshield surveys” of Missouri that I have taken the past few weeks, especially when driving around southeast Missouri last week.”

Here are the soybean injury numbers in 2018 (could actually be much more), by acres, in individual states, according to the University of Missouri: [1]

  • Arkansas 100,000
  • Illinois: 150,000
  • Indiana: 5,000
  • Iowa: 1,200
  • Kansas: 100
  • Kentucky: 500
  • Nebraska: 40
  • Missouri: 25,000
  • Mississippi: 100,000
  • Tennessee: 2,000

Sources:

[1] EcoWatch

[2] AgProfessional

PrairieFarmer

These Common Household Toxins are Poisoning Children

People relax on sofas and walk across their kitchen floors without giving it a second thought, but a study shows that toxic chemicals used in furniture and vinyl flooring to make them fire-resistant could be poisoning children. [1]

The problem is most prevalent in public housing where scientists say children have toxin levels in their blood and urine up to 15 times higher than those who aren’t exposed.

The flame-retardant chemicals, called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), are linked to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer, and other diseases.

Flame Retardants: 5 Dangerous Facts About These Toxins

Despite efforts to reduce the prevalence of PBDEs, they continue to persist, said Dr. Heather Stapleton of Duke University.

The full scope of the dangers posed by polybrominated diphenyl ethers is unknown because few studies have investigated how or if the chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstreams of children who are exposed to them.

Stapleton said:

“There are concerns that these chemicals could affect the developing brain.

In homes with flame retardants, particularly for children who spend most of their time indoors, they have widespread exposure, for example in household dust.”

PBDEs fall under the umbrella term semi-volatile organic compounds. They are found in electronics, furniture, and building materials. In pieces of furniture like sofas, they are found in the foam inside of the cushions.

In the past, PBDEs were used in most couches, rugs, and TVs. Research shows these chemicals can stunt the development of the brain and reproductive system. Phthalates, used in vinyl flooring and carpets, as well as food packaging, have been linked to obesity because the chemicals change the way the body stores fat.

Source: Environmental Working Group
Source: Environmental Working Group

Improvements are Being Made, But…

In the United States, great strides have been made to reduce the prevalence of PBDEs. When Stapleton first tested consumer products for the fire-retardants, 80% contained PBDEs. Her most recent tests showed about 20% of consumer products contained the toxins.

But U.S. regulators have stopped short of banning PBDEs and they continue to persist in the environment, particularly in public housing, where older flooring, furniture, and other products have not been swapped out for safer ones.

What’s more, the toxins keep showing up in unexpected places, including in farmed fish, even though both the U.S. and European Union (EU) have placed restrictions on PBDEs in fish-farming waters.

The Study

For the study, which began in 2014, Stapleton and her colleagues analyzed indoor dust and air from inside the homes of 190 families and 203 children, along with foam from inside furniture. They collected blood and urine samples from the children to test for the prevalence of PBDEs. [2]

Stapleton said:

“We quantified 44 biomarkers of exposure to phthalates, organophosphate esters, brominated flame retardants, parabens, phenols, antibacterial agents, and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”

Children from homes with vinyl flooring had levels of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite – a chemical linked to respiratory and skin conditions, multiple myeloma, and other health problems – in their urine that were 15 times higher compared with children who were not exposed. [1]

Children who lived in homes that had a sofa in the main living area that had PBDEs in the foam had a 6-fold higher concentration of PBDEs in their blood.

PBDEs are still so prevalent that they have even shown up in marine organisms in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. The toxins can linger for years and bind to other particles in the water that can carry them throughout the ocean. Studies have found that PBDEs and other organic pollutants are prevalent in fish worldwide.

Children may suffer the ill effects of PBDEs even if they haven’t been directly exposed to it. A study published in 2017 found that prenatal exposure to the chemicals may lead to lower IQ scores in children.

Reducing Exposure to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers

Like anything else, know that we’re always bombarded with toxins from various sources; it isn’t great, but in some respect, it’s simply part of our lives and society – unless you want to live in a bubble. So while I wouldn’t overly stress about this, it’s good to know that these toxins do exist, and there are some simple things you can do to reduce exposure without stressing yourself into a jumbled ball of yarn.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Sources:

[1] Daily Mail

[2] Earth

Images Source:

Environmental Working Group