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The Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Healthcare Solutions

Robots performing surgeries? New hip joints “printed” on command? “House calls” made from hundreds, even thousands of miles away? What seemed like science fiction just a few years ago has become an everyday reality as technology is revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered.

Innovation changes health care for the better

Back in 2010, a video of a surgical robot sewing a split grape back together seemed so improbable, it went viral, garnering more than 5 million views [“Suturing a Grape,” YouTube clips (various uploads).] Fast forward to today, and robot-assisted surgery is firmly in the mainstream, used for gallbladder, prostate, gynecologic and kidney surgeries. The benefits of this minimally invasive technique are significant, including faster recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and less patient down time.

3D printing, still in its relative infancy, is already making massive contributions in healthcare. 3D-printed joint components have been used in more than 100,000 hip replacement surgeries over the past decade, according to a GE Report from March of 2018. The next evolution for 3D printing will be even more spectacular, promising the ability to print artificial organs, blood vessels, and even synthetic ovaries.

At a time when there is a shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas, telehealth is becoming a viable alternative to an in-office visit.

Virtual medical providers enable doctors to treat millions of Americans each year through internet and telephone consultations. That’s based on estimates from a recent J.D. Power study from July 2019, which found 9.6% of the adult population has used telemedicine in the past year. More than 75 percent of hospitals use telehealth services, too, as noted by the American Hospital Association Fact Sheet dated February 2019. Patients can consult with a doctor via phone or video, and receive diagnoses and prescriptions. Some employers use telehealth to provide virtual health clinics for employees.

Managing the cost

While such health innovations are exciting, they come at a cost. That’s where supplemental insurance can play a key role, enabling employers to offer a benefits option that provides added financial security over and above traditional health insurance. Beyond financial security, supplemental insurance also offers employees peace of mind.

“Employees are increasingly shouldering the high cost of medical care, especially when it comes to new medical solutions,” says Teresa White, president of Aflac U.S. In fact, 85 percent of employees see the need for supplemental insurance benefits to cover such costs, according to the Aflac WorkForces Report.

Adding to the challenge is the complexity of what’s covered and what isn’t under traditional health insurance.

“Health care today isn’t simple,” says Virgil Miller, Aflac EVP and chief operating officer. “Some consumers are confused by their benefit options and what their health care plans cost and cover. Our annual Aflac WorkForces Report found that just 39 percent of employees have a full understanding of their health insurance policies.

“And with medical debt being the most common reason people fall behind on bills, supplemental benefits such as Aflac’s should be a priority on every smart preparation checklist. Aflac helps cover the expenses health insurance doesn’t.”

Innovations improve insurance, too

Customer concerns like these led Aflac to create online tools like its easy-to-use critical illness calculator. “The calculator makes it easier for consumers to understand typical out-of-pocket heath care expenses and how Aflac’s critical illness coverage can help cover the costs health insurance doesn’t cover,” Miller says.

Aflac sees technological innovation as essential in serving its policyholders. To provide good customer service, Aflac worked with several industry experts on a technique called journey mapping to understand the various touch points and pain points customers have. “Through journey mapping, our customer experience teams created reliable road maps of where we needed to take our technology in the future,” adds Keith Farley, vice president of innovation for Aflac.

One byproduct of this research is an advanced mobile app called MyAflac. With the MyAflac mobile app, policyholders can handle myriad healthcare-related tasks, ranging from filing a claim to signing up for direct deposit of their insurance payments, right from their phones. Combined with Aflac’s One Day PaySM initiative, it helps get payments into the hands of policyholders faster than ever. “Our goal is to help policyholders worry less about finances and focus more on recovery, which can lead to better health outcomes,” adds Miller.

Innovation is woven into every level of Aflac’s culture. Farley points to My Special Aflac Duck as a perfect example of this. “This isn’t just a toy, it is a high-tech robot that interacts with children, helping provide them with comfort as they move through their cancer treatment. As a company, we have been blown away by the response,” Farley says.

The company has invested millions of dollars into this program including donating to cancer research, developing the duck and giving away more than 5,000 of them to pediatric cancer patients at more than 220 hospitals in 47 states.

Innovation is also at the heart of how Aflac designs its benefits policies. Aflac’s cancer policy, for example, helps policyholders take greater advantage of cutting-edge medical techniques. “Genetic testing helps identify potential health risks and help people understand and prepare for potential risks. Screenings can also save lives. Aflac’s cancer policy is designed to reflect the evolution of patient needs and challenges, and it helps cover modern approaches to prevention, early detection and diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care,” White says.

At Aflac, innovation is more than saving money and improving efficiencies. It is part of its mission to help employers support their employees to lead healthier and happier lives. At the end of the day, it’s about growing consumer trust and satisfaction, Miller says.

One Day PaySM is available for certain individual claims submitted online through the Aflac SmartClaim process. Claims may be eligible for One Day Pay processing if submitted online through Aflac SmartClaim, including all required documentation, by 3 p.m. ET. Documentation requirements vary by type of claim; please review requirements for your claim(s) carefully. Aflac SmartClaim is available for claims on most individual Accident, Cancer, Hospital, Specified Health, and Intensive Care policies. Processing time is based on business days after all required documentation needed to render a decision is received and no further validation and/or research is required. Individual Company Statistic, 2019.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999

By Anita CampbellCEO, Small Business Trends

Source: The Technologies Driving Tomorrow’s Healthcare Solutions

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https://www.job-applications.com/afla… An Aflac benefits consultant talks about the interview process, interview questions, how to get a job and what its like to work for Aflac.

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Health Authorities Know What’s Potentially Causing Vaping-Related Deaths

Topline: The CDC announced on Thursday that vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in skincare products that is dangerous when heated or inhaled, is a “very strong culprit” in the spate of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths have for months perplexed and alarmed federal health officials.

  • The CDC determination comes from a study that examined 29 samples from patients with vaping-related lung illnesses. All 29 of them contained traces of vitamin E acetate.
  • No other potential toxins were detected.
  • Vitamin E acetate is a chemical commonly found in skincare products, and it isn’t dangerous when applied to the skin or swallowed. But when heated and inhaled through vaping devices, the chemical can cause harm to a patient’s lungs.
  • Vitamin E acetate has been recently used in black market products containing THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, as a thickening agent.
  • But officials do not yet know exactly where the vitamin E acetate is coming from.
  • THC was found in 23 of 28 patients, including three who said they had not used THC products, while nicotine was detected in 16 of 26 patients.
  • Officials cautioned that there could more than one toxin causing the illnesses, and more evidence is needed to establish a causal link between vitamin E acetate and the injuries.

Crucial quote: “These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs,” said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, in a press call Thursday. “And the samples reflect patients from across the country.”

Key background: As of Tuesday 2,051 cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported along with 39 deaths, according to the CDC. The cause of the lung injuries and deaths have prompted health officials to warn against vaping altogether and for state and federal lawmakers to mull or impose vaping sale bans.

Further reading: Read the CDC’s report on the study here.

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: Health Authorities Know What’s Potentially Causing Vaping-Related Deaths

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Vaping & E-Cigarette related illnesses & deaths have gathered significant media attention. Join Dr. Seheult of https://www.MedCram.com as he illustrates key points about vaping and E cigarette-related acute pulmonary illness & disease symptoms, diagnosis, CXR, and CT scan findings that we understand at this time. More information and studies are needed as vaping deaths and hospitalizations in 2019 continue to rise (some are calling it a “vaping epidemic”). See the second video in this series on the treatment of vaping associated pulmonary injury: https://youtu.be/7TO7Cfi_o38 Links to articles from the New England Journal of Medicine referenced in this video: Pulmonary Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use in Illinois and Wisconsin — Preliminary Report: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056… Vaping-Induced Lung Injury: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056… Instructor: Roger Seheult, MD Co-Founder of MedCram.com Clinical and Exam Preparation Instructor Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine. Visit https://www.MedCram.com for top-rated medical videos, over 30 hours of category 1 CME and CE, and over 100 free lectures. MedCram: Medical education topics explained clearly including: Respiratory lectures such as Asthma, COPD, and vape / E cigarette related lung disease. Renal lectures on Acute Renal Failure and Adrenal Gland. Internal medicine videos on Oxygen Hemoglobin Dissociation Curve and Medical Acid Base. A growing library on critical care topics such as Shock, Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), and Mechanical Ventilation. Cardiology videos on Hypertension, ECG / EKG Interpretation, and heart failure. VQ Mismatch and Hyponatremia lectures have been popular among medical students and physicians. The Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) videos and Ventilator-associated pneumonia bundles and lectures have been particularly popular with RTs. NPs and PAs have given great feedback on Pneumonia Treatment and Liver Function Tests among many others. Dr. Jacquet teaches our FAST exam tutorial & bedside ultrasound courses. Many nursing students have found the Asthma and shock lectures very helpful. We’re starting a new course series on clinical ultrasound/ultrasound medical imaging. Recommended Audience – Medical professionals and medical students: including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, EMT and paramedics, and many others. Review and test prep for USMLE, MCAT, PANCE, NCLEX, NAPLEX, NBDE, RN, RT, MD, DO, PA, NP school and board examinations. More from MedCram.com medical lectures: Blog: https://blog.medcram.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MedCram Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/1/+Medcram Twitter: https://twitter.com/MedCramVideos Subscribe to the official MedCram.com YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/subscription_… Produced by Kyle Allred PA-C Please note: MedCram medical videos, medical lectures, medical illustrations, and medical animations are for medical education and exam preparation purposes, and not intended to replace recommendations by your doctor or health care provider. #Vaping #ECigarettes #vapingdeaths

This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season

Harvard Medical School graduate and lecturer, Stephanie Taylor, is something of an Indiana Jones of medicine. She’s a determined scientist who can’t seem to sit still. Along with a resume full of accolades and publications, she’s a skydiver with 1,200 jumps. She solves haunting medical mysteries. “Anything that seems scary, I say I need to learn more about that,” she explained in a recent interview

While practicing pediatric oncology at a major teaching hospital, Taylor wondered why so many of her young patients came down with infections and the flu, despite the hospital’s herculean efforts at prevention. Her hunch: the design and infrastructure of the building contributed somehow.

Dr. Taylor embarked on a quest to find out if she was right. First, the skydiving doctor made a career jump: She went back to school for a master’s in architecture, and then began research on the impact of the built environment on human health and infection. Ultimately, she found a lost ark.

She and colleagues studied 370 patients in one unit of a hospital to try to isolate the factors associated with patient infections. They tested and retested 8 million data points controlling for every variable they could think of to explain the likelihood of infection. Was it hand hygiene, fragility of the patients, or room cleaning procedures? Taylor thought it might have something to do with the number of visitors to the patient’s room.

While all those factors had modest influence, one factor stood out above them all, and it shocked the research team. The one factor most associated with infection was (drum roll): dry air. At low relative humidity, indoor air was strongly associated with higher infection rates. “When we dry the air out, droplets and skin flakes carrying viruses and bacteria are launched into the air, traveling far and over long periods of time. The microbes that survive this launching tend to be the ones that cause healthcare-associated infections,” said Taylor. “Even worse, in addition to this increased exposure to infectious particles, the dry air also harms our natural immune barriers which protect us from infections.”

Since that study was published, there is now more research in peer-reviewed literature observing a link between dry air and viral infections, such as the flu, colds and measles, as well as many bacterial infections, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding more research. Taylor finds one of the most interesting studies from a team at the Mayo Clinic, which humidified half of the classrooms in a preschool and left the other half alone over three months during the winter. Influenza-related absenteeism in the humidified classrooms was two-thirds lower than in the standard classrooms—a dramatic difference. Taylor says this study is important because its design included a control group: the half of classrooms without humidity-related intervention.

Scientists attribute the influence of dry air to a new understanding about the behavior of airborne particles, or “infectious aerosol transmissions.” They used to assume the microbes in desiccated droplets were dead, but advances in the past several years changed that thinking. “With new genetic analysis tools, we are finding out that most of the microbes are not dead at all. They are simply dormant while waiting for a source of rehydration,” Taylor explained. “Humans are an ideal source of hydration, since we are basically 60% water. When a tiny infectious particle lands on or in a patient, the pathogen rehydrates and begins the infectious cycle all over again.”

These findings are especially important for hospitals and other health settings, because dry air is also associated with antibiotic resistance, which can devastate whole patient populations. Scientists now believe resistant organisms do not develop only along the Darwinian trajectory, where mutated bacteria produce a new generation of similarly mutated offspring that can survive existing antibiotics. Resistant pathogens in infectious aerosols do not need to wait for the next generation, they can instantly share their resistant genes directly through a process called horizontal gene transfer.

According to her research, and subsequent studies in the medical literature, the “sweet spot” for indoor air is between 40% and 60% relative humidity. An instrument called a hygrometer, available for about $10, will measure it. Every hospital, school, and home should have them, according to Taylor, along with a humidifier to adjust room hydration to the sweet spot.

Operating rooms, Taylor notes, are often kept cooler than other rooms to keep gown-wearing surgical staff comfortable. Cool air holds less water vapor than warm air, so condensation can more easily occur on cold, uninsulated surfaces. Consequently, building managers often turn humidifiers off instead of insulating cold surfaces. This quick fix can result in dry air, and Taylor urges hospitals to bring the operating room’s relative humidity up, even when it is necessary, to maintain a lower temperature. Taylor’s research suggests this reduces surgical site infections.

Taylor travels the country speaking with health care and business groups to urge adoption of the 40%–60% relative humidity standard. And she practices what she preaches. “My husband has ongoing respiratory problems and had at least one serious illness each winter. Ever since we started monitoring our indoor relative humidity and keeping it around 40%, even when using our wood stove, he has not been sick. Our dogs also love it because they do not get static electricity shocks when being petted in the wintertime!”

The bad news is that it takes on average of 17 years for scientific evidence to be put into medical practice, according to a classic study. The good news is that Taylor is on the case, and she’s on a crusade against the destruction of bacteria and viruses. She’s not waiting 17 years. Jock, start the engine.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I run an organization called The Leapfrog Group with a membership of highly impatient business leaders fed up with problems with injuries, accidents, and errors in hospitals. I can’t stand the sight of blood but I’ve worked in healthcare over 20 years, including a rural hospital system, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s health policy office, and the National League for Nursing. Follow me on twitter: @leahbinder.

Source: This Inexpensive Action Lowers Hospital Infections And Protects Against Flu Season

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The flu season in the U.S. has already claimed a number of lives in what the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) has called one of most severe flu seasons in nearly a decade. “People often forget that tens of thousands of Americans will die each year from influenza infection; the vast majority of those who die are those who have underlying medical comorbidities,” says Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic. “They have heart disease or lung disease, and influenza tips them over and they end up dying from their underlying medical comorbidity, or chronic illness.” More health and medical news on the Mayo Clinic News Network http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/

4 Wellness Trends You Have To Try

Wellness is seeping into every aspect of our lives, from exercise and diet to sleep and work. According to the Global Wellness Summit, complete health also has become a big business, raking in $4.2 trillion a year worldwide.

As GWS prepares for its annual conference of industry professionals at Grand Hyatt Singapore October 15 to 17, we asked organizers to share their insights on the latest trends in approaches to wellness.

Nature Immersion Getaways

GWS reports that there’s a wave of global urbanization, with 55 percent of the world population living in cities. That number is projected to jump to 68 percent by 2050. A consequence of this surge in urban living is that people are seeking ways to immerse themselves deeper into nature. Hotels are accommodating by moving workouts and spa treatments into the great outdoors. But nothing captures this trend more than the rise in forest bathing.

Today In: Lifestyle

Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, began in Japan in the 1980s. Despite the translation, the practice doesn’t literally mean to take a bath among the trees. Instead, it focuses on soaking up the essence of the forest. The practice is supposed to aid immune systems, reduce blood pressure, ease stress, boost energy and improve sleep.

Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona steeps you in its pristine Oak Creek surroundings with its Connecting with Nature offerings. Led by a certified forest bathing facilitator, the personalized sensory sessions encourage you to absorb the gushing waters, towering trees, red rocks, blue skies and local wildlife. You’ll receive a journal to record your experience. Another option is a nighttime forest immersion. Star bathing helps you find peace under the serene starlit sky amid the wooded backdrop. When the darkness of night envelops your sight, your other senses are heightened.

Tough and Transformative Wellness

Travelers want to visit wellness destinations that push them harder to conquer challenges, engage in extreme experiences and, ultimately, transform them, GWS reports.

Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire in England has devised The Escape, an antidote to boring old fitness routines. Amid the property’s 500 countryside acres, the two-day bootcamp includes an outdoor meditation session, two “extreme” exercise classes, a nutrition masterclass, tailored treatments in the spa, yoga, tai chi and a highwire adventure.

Chatham Bars Inn hosts an ongoing Wellness Weekend series that features interactive itineraries hosted by wellness experts in stunning Cape Cod. The activities consist of mindfulness workshops, motivational lectures, personal coaching and plenty of exercise at the Four-Star hotel.

In Mexico, Four-Star Grand Velas Los Cabos targets women with its five-night Alpha Female Adventure Getaway. The rigorous schedule includes a power hike through the Sierra de la Laguna biosphere reserve, swimming in a hot spring, snorkeling and paddleboarding. The getaway also comes with a four-handed tequila massage, an 80-minute treatment that releases muscle tension. A therapist rubs the liquor into the skin to reduce inflammation.

Sleep Performance

Alongside exercise and diet, sleep is essential for optimal health. And the focus on rest across the travel industry has been one of the biggest wellness trends.

Hotels are rethinking the sleep experience. Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner is attacking stress-induced insomnia with a holistic approach. Partnering with sleep experts at Longeva, the D.C. hotel created a spa treatment that fosters a good night’s rest, a special snooze-inducing room service menu with dishes like almond butter banana dark chocolate toast (the treat’s high magnesium relaxes muscles, and bananas have tryptophan, the same amino acid in turkey that makes you drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner), a TV station that serves as a sleep machine and a take-home kit so that you can continue deep slumbers in your own bed.

The newly opened Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards in New York City was built with sleep in mind. The wellness hotel’s rooms have total soundproofing, blackout blinds and mattresses made with temperature-regulating natural fibers to prevent night sweats. If that’s not enough send you to dream land, you can employ the assistance of an Equinox sleep coach.

Digital Detox

For all the good they provide, smartphones also have sparked a slew of problems: they cause an “always on” work mentality, the overconsumption of negative news and a social media addiction that has led to an anxiety and depression crisis, GWS says.

More travelers want to go to a place to unplug, clear their minds and recover. Mandarin Oriental launched a digital wellness initiative at all of its spas in 2018. In collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, the program teaches ways to manage your relationship with technology and the stress that can accompany a constantly connected digital lifestyle. Experience it at Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou’s luxurious Five-Star spa. The 100-minute Digital Wellness Escape homes in on the head, eyes, neck, shoulders, hands and feet.

Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing turned its offerings into a two-night package that includes a 90-minute treatment, a class pass to nearby Pure Yoga in WF Central as well as breakfast and a healthy lunch at Café Zi.

 

 

Source: 4 Wellness Trends You Have To Try

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Last year some of the big wellness trends were collagen, intermittent fasting and CBD oil. But 2019 brings a new set of ways to be our best selves.

Heart Checks While You Shop: NHS Announces Plan To Have Pharmacies Check Shoppers’ Heart Health In Bid To Cut Deaths

Shoppers will be offered on-the-spot NHS heart checks to detect signs of killer conditions.

High street pharmacies will be overhauled under the national plan to prevent up to 150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.

The country’s most senior doctor said the new approach would be a “game changer,” helping to identify risks far earlier, with advice on lifestyle overhauls as well as targeted medication.

Pilot schemes have seen some types of strokes fall by a quarter.

From October, chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service,” which includes mobile electrocardiograms to spot irregular heartbeats, as well as checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to every pharmacist in the country within three years.

An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas’ Hospital  Credit: AFP

The plans aim to identify those at risk far earlier, when treatment and lifestyle changes are most likely to be effective.

Pharmacists will be expected to dole out advice on exercise and diet, with results passed directly to GP practices, who can prescribe the right medication.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said: “Heart disease and strokes dramatically cut short lives, and leave thousands of people disabled every year, so rapid detection of killer conditions through high street heart checks will be a game-changer.”

The plans, launched to coincide with the world’s biggest heart conference, follow proposals to scrap “one size fits all” health MOTs at GP surgeries.  In future, GPs will be expected to increasingly target checks on those thought to be at greatest risk, due to their medical and genetic history, while routine screening tests are offered by pharmacists.

Heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer, with deaths from heart attacks, strokes and circulatory diseases accounting for 160,000 deaths in the UK every year.

More than 7 million people are living with heart and circulatory diseases.

Speaking at the European Society for Cardiology (ESC) conference, in Paris, Professor Bryan Williams, author of its guidelines on disease prevention, said: “This is hugely important. Heart disease and stroke remain the most important cause of premature death and disability and we have the means to prevent the many of them.

“The key is early detection of those at risk and doing this is a way that is convenient for the public, not having to wait for a GP appointment that could be done simply the local pharmacy.”

Chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service,” which includes mobile electrocardiograms to spot irregular heartbeats, as well as checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

Yesterday Dexter Canoy, clinical epidemiologist from the University of Oxford, presented research showing that raised blood pressure at the age of 40 is a clear indicator of the risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes in later life.

He said: “We need to find ways to target the people who aren’t seeing their GP regularly – the middle-aged men who think they are healthy, but haven’t actually been checked.”

“If opening it up to pharmacies and shopping malls means that people are more likely to have their blood pressure checked, that could make a significant difference,” he said, calling for proper evaluation of the measures.

The checks are part of a new £13 billion five year contract for community pharmacists which aims to expand their roles and offer earlier detection of diseases.

More than 100 pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside have begun offering blood pressures screening services, under a local initiative, backed by the British Heart Foundation, with plans to recruit more than 200 more chemists to the service as it expands.

Medics said widespread use of the monitors by pharmacies, hospitals and individual patients could cut costs, speed diagnosis and avoid preventable hospital admissions.

Pilot schemes in Lambeth and Southwark in south London identified more than 1,400 patients suffering from atrial fibrillation – an irregular heart rhythm –  who should have been taking blood thinning drugs, but were not. In total, 1,300 of the patients have now been put on the medication, leading to a 25 per cent reduction in the rate of strokes linked to their heart condition.

Keith Ridge, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “This new contract makes the most of the clinical skills of local pharmacists and establishes pharmacies across England as local health hubs – open in the evenings and at weekends – where people can go for an ever-increasing range of clinical health checks and treatment.”

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Millions of people in England are living with conditions such as high blood pressure which, if left untreated, significantly increase the risk of having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke. Reaching more people and encouraging them to check their blood pressure, working with them to lower it where necessary, will play an absolutely critical role in saving lives in the coming years.”

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Source: Heart checks while you shop: NHS announces plan to have pharmacies check shoppers’ heart health in bid to cut deaths

Life-Changing Hacks For Coffee And Weight Loss

You may not be thinking of all of the goodness in your coffee when you wake up, stumble to the kitchen, and put on that pot. But, in addition to providing warmth, comfort, and a boost of fuel you need to start your day, that cup of Joe has amazing health benefits.

Your morning cup of coffee is filled with good-for-you antioxidants that can protect cells and combat free radicals in your body that cause illnesses and disease. Caffeine (in moderation) is also effective at boosting your metabolism for fat-burning benefits.

And, if you want to increase those benefits even more, this is the one calorie-burning nutrient nutritionists say you should start adding to your coffee for a flat stomach.

woman holding latte with latte artThanks to the popularity of diets like the Keto Diet, many people are getting on board with the fact that fat isn’t so bad for us after all.

The latest coffee craze is one that may have its roots in Keto logic, but has expanded to become mainstream popular thanks to three factors: it’s unusual, tasty, and, according to many who have tried it, works wonders when it comes to giving you energy and helping you burn stubborn fat.

woman leaning on counter drinking coffee out of mug

Drinking Bulletproof Coffee For Weight Loss

Add Butter To Your Coffee

To those already in the know, “bulletproof” coffee is coffee that has been spiked with butter. A few tablespoons of grass-fed butter can give your coffee a rich, buttery flavor that many say tastes like creamer. But its unusual and unexpected health benefits are what keep coffee lovers coming back for more.

espresso machine making a latteWhile there’s no denying that adding butter to your coffee also means adding upwards of 200 calories to a beverage that contains zero calories, some nutritionists say the benefits may outweigh the negatives.

“This may make the drink slower to digest and absorb, therefore potentially prolonging the effects of the caffeine,” Jaclyn London, MD, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute told Good Housekeeping. “As for the grass-fed distinction, proponents tout the slightly higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and some vitamins that come from cows grazing on an all-green diet.”

woman holding blue coffee mug

Correlation Between Bulletproof Coffee And Weight Loss

There is still a lack of data on whether bulletproof coffee truly helps your health, London says, and the only evidence that currently exists stems from research performed on rats. If it’s any consolation, those rats did experience higher metabolism and energy burn levels after drinking coffee with butter.

woman eating breakfast of yogurt cereal and strawberries in bedAccording to London, bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight — but that depends entirely on your overall diet.

“Bulletproof coffee could help you lose weight if you use it to replace a daily sugary short stack, or if you currently don’t eat breakfast at all,” London told Good Housekeeping. “In that case, BPC may provide a sense of fullness that you might not have experienced otherwise. Eating more calories from longer-lasting sources of energy can help you cut back on random grazing later on.”

But be aware because bulletproof coffee could also backfire on you: drinking your calories and sources of fat could make you feel more “ravenous,” London says. You could end up consuming even more calories each day.

cinnamon sticks and grown cinnamon on a table

If you aren’t sold on the idea of putting butter in your coffee, don’t worry. There are plenty of other healthy coffee additive alternatives that won’t pack on added calories and fat. Alternate coffee add-ons to consider include cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and coconut milk.

Source: Life-Changing Hacks For Coffee And Weight Loss

Entrepreneur Dave Asprey first added butter to his coffee to boost his brainpower. Now, he reveals what he learned about his brain to achieve his weight-loss goals. Subscribe to Dr. Oz’s official YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/1QhiDuv

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How Exercise Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk by Changing Your Brain

Senior woman on bicycle by beach

More and more studies are showing how regular exercise benefits the brain, and in particular, the aging brain. What’s less clear is how exactly exercise counters the cognitive decline that comes with aging and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

To find out, for nearly a decade, Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and his colleagues have studied a unique group of middle-aged people at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Through a series of studies, the team has been building knowledge about which biological processes seem to change with exercise.

Okonkwo’s latest findings show that improvements in aerobic fitness mitigated one of the physiological brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s: the slowing down of how neurons breakdown glucose. The research, which has not been published yet, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association on Aug. 9.

Okonkwo works with the 1,500 people on the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP)—all of whom are cognitively normal, but have genes that put them at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, or have one or two parents who have been diagnosed with the disease, or both. In the latest study, Okonkwo recruited 23 people from the WRAP population who were not physically active. Eleven were asked to participate in an exercise regimen to improve their aerobic fitness for six months, and 12 served as the control.

All had their brains scanned to track Alzheimer’s-related brain changes including differences in how neurons metabolized glucose, since in people with Alzheimer’s glucose breakdown slows. At the end of the study period, the group that exercised more showed higher levels of glucose metabolism and performed better on cognitive-function tests compared to the controls.

“We are carrying our research full circle and beginning to demonstrate some causality,” says Okonkwo about the significance of his findings.

In their previous work, he and his team identified a series of Alzheimer’s-related biological changes that seemed to be affected by exercise by comparing, retrospectively, people who were more physically active to those who were not.

In this study, they showed that intervening with an exercise regimen could actually affect these processes. Taken together, his body of research is establishing exactly how physical activity contributes to significant changes in the biological processes that drive Alzheimer’s, and may even reduce the effect of strong risk factors such as age and genes linked to higher risk of neurodegenerative disease.

For example, in their earlier work his group confirmed that as people age, the presence of Alzheimer’s-related brain changes increases—including the buildup of amyloid, slower breakdown of glucose by brain cells, shrinking of the volume of the hippocampus (central to memory), and declines in cognitive function measured in standard recall and recognition tests.

But they found that in people who reported exercising at moderate intensity at least 150 minutes a week, as public health experts recommend, brain scans showed that these changes were significantly reduced and in some cases non-existent compared to people who were not active. “The association between age and Alzheimer’s brain changes was blunted,” says Okonkwo, “Even if [Alzheimer’s] got worse, it didn’t get worse at the same speed or rate among those who are physically active as in those who are inactive.”

In another previous study, they found the benefits of exercise in controlling Alzheimer’s processes even among those with genetic predisposition for the disease. When they divided the participants by fitness levels, based on a treadmill test and their ability to efficiently take in oxygen, they found that being fit nearly negated the effect of the deleterious gene ApoE4. “It’s a remarkable finding because it’s not something that was predicted,” says Okonkwo.

In yet another previous study, Okonkwo and his team also found that people with higher aerobic fitness showed lower amounts of white matter hyperintensities, brain changes that are signs of neuron degeneration and show up as brighter spots on MRI images (hence the name). White matter hyperintensities tend to increase in the brain with age, and are more common in people with dementia or cognitive impairment.

They form as neurons degrade and the myelin that surrounds their long-reaching arms—which helps nerves communicate with each other effectively—starts to deteriorate. In people with dementia, that process happens faster than normal, leading to an increase in white matter hyperintensities. Okonwko found that people who were more aerobically fit showed lower amounts of these hyperintensities than people who were less fit.

Given the encouraging results from his latest study of 23 people that showed intervening with exercise can change some of the Alzheimer’s-related brain changes of the disease, he plans to expand his small study to confirm the positive effect that exercise and better fitness can have in slowing the signs of Alzheimer’s. Already, his work has inspired a study launched earlier this year and funded by the National Institutes of Health that includes brain scans to track how physical activity affects biological factors like amyloid and glucose in people at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The cumulative results show that “there may be certain things we are born with, and certain things that we can’t change ]when it comes to Alzheimer’s risk], but a behavior like physical exercise might help us to modify that,” says Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

By Alice Park

Source: How Exercise Lowers Alzheimer’s Risk by Changing Your Brain | Time

A Low-Fat Diet May Lower the Risk of Dying from Breast Cancer

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Breast cancer treatments have come a long way in recent decades, but understanding how to prevent tumors from forming in the first place has been a major challenge.

In a new study being presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago next month, researchers report intriguing evidence that a low-fat diet, similar to the kind doctors recommend for heart health, is also linked to a lower risk of dying from breast cancer.

The study analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a large trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that studies the health effects of hormone therapy, diet and certain supplements on the health of more than 160,000 postmenopausal women. In this trial, researchers led by Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, an investigator at LA Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, focused on a group of nearly 49,000 women who were randomly assigned to follow either a low-fat diet or a control diet for 8.5 years. The low-fat diet group aimed to reduce their fat intake to 20% of their total daily calories and to increase the consumption of fruit, vegetables and grains. None of the women had breast cancer at the start of the study.

After the study ended, the rates of new breast cancers were about the same in the two groups, but women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the interim had a 35% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those on the control diet. Even 20 years after the study ended, the women who ate the low-fat diet continued to have a 15% lower mortality risk. And in the longer follow-up data, their risk of dying specifically from breast cancer was 21% lower than that of the women who didn’t change their diet.

“This is a very exciting result for us,” says Chlebowski. “Now we have randomized clinical trial evidence that dietary moderation, which is achievable by many, can have health benefits including reducing risk of death from breast cancer. That’s pretty good; it’s hard not to be happy about that.”

The study is the first to rigorously test a potential factor that could influence deaths from breast cancer. Earlier observational studies did not assign volunteers to specific diets but looked at cancer outcomes depending on what people, on their own, chose to eat. In this study, volunteers were provided with dietary guidelines to follow about what to eat. “Until this study, we lacked any data from a prospective randomized control trial, which is the gold standard, for showing that a dietary approach really does reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer,” says Dr. Neil Iyengar, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study. “Many of us who are proponents of considering diet and exercise in the cancer treatment plan are excited by this trial data because it is the first to show in a very robust way that we can improve outcomes and prevent cancer-related deaths just by changing the diet.”

In a separate sub-study, the research team also showed that the longer women were on the modified diet, the lower their risk of death during the study period. The results should give doctors more confidence in considering diet when discussing treatment options with women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. While the study did not find a significant connection between dietary changes and the incidence of new breast cancer, the results do suggest that modifying the diet can lower a woman’s risk of dying from any cause, or from breast cancer, if she is diagnosed with the disease.

The reason for that, says Iyengar, may have to do with the diet’s “dose.” It’s possible, for example, that the effect of the dietary change is greater on tiny tumors in the breast tissue that are already established, although they aren’t robust enough yet to lead to a diagnosis of breast cancer. “The effect of this diet may be stronger in preventing the growth of already established tumors rather than preventing the development of tumors,” he says. “What this trial does is position us to take a deeper dive, now that we know we can effectively change the tumor or cancer behavior with diet.”

Chlebowski plans to dig deeper into the data to find out more about how diet is working to lower deaths from breast cancer. During the trial, women provided blood samples both at the start of the study and one year later, so he and his team may find factors that changed among the women on the diet compared to those on the control plan.

In the meantime, he hopes cancer doctors will talk about diet with their patients who might be at higher risk of developing breast cancer. Though not all women in the study were able to lower their fat intake to 20% of their daily calories,“these dietary changes are achievable by many,” he says. Even though not all of the women on the low-fat diet met the target, the study showed that the modifications still reduced risk of dying from any cause and from breast cancer. “It’s about taking smaller pieces of meat, and adding vegetables to the plate to balance things out,” he says.

By Alice Park

Source: https://time.com/

 

Sugar and anxiety are connected in surprising ways

 

There are some things you know are going to make your anxiety worse: WebMDing your stomach ache, foregoing sleep to list all the ways your work presentation could go wrong, calling your friend who freaks out about everything…But treating yourself to a scoop of Rocky Road or a cupcake from your favorite bakery, that’s going to make you feel better right?

Sometimes, 100 percent yes. But other times, that sweet treat can backfire, sneakily causing all sorts of changes that can lead to the opposite of feeling good: anxiety. Here, health experts break down the relationship between sugar and anxiety, and what you can do to combat it.

How are sugar and anxiety related?

The problem with sugar, says hormone health educator Candace Burch, is that it causes blood sugar spikes and drops, which directly affects mood. “The rush of sugar leads to sugar highs, giving a lot of energy, but then the lows lead to feeling sluggish and down.”

“Sugar can exacerbate your feelings of anxiety because of the way our bodies respond to digesting them,” adds Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition, a New York-based nutrition practice. “[Sugary foods] cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop faster than they would after eating non-high-sugar-foods. This quick spike and drop causes you to feel uneasy and can even at times mimic a panic attack.” Having low blood sugar levels can actually put the body into a stress response, which, as Zeitlin mentions, can increase anxiety.

Our bodies obviously don’t like being stressed or anxious, says Zeitlin. People combat that in various ways, including reaching for sugary foods. “Foods high in sugar trigger the release of serotonin, which is a feel good hormone,” Zeitlin says. “We are trained to eat sugar and feel good, which makes it understandable why people stress eat, because they just want to feel better when they are feeling stressed and anxious.”

However, when your body is stressed or anxious, you also have higher levels of cortisol (a.k.a. the “stress hormone”). Zeitlin says when this happens, your body suppresses the release of insulin, the hormone that takes up glucose to use for energy. You now have a one-two punch of spiked blood sugar levels (since you’re eating more sugar to combat your stress) and storing excess sugar as fat since you’re not turning it into energy. “So, eating more sugar when you are stressed or anxious just amplifies the amount of sugar your body would naturally have already flowing, and contributes to more severe drops in blood sugar and more drastic drops in your mood,” she says. Enter a cycle of turning to something sweet every time they need another energy and mood boost, and a subsequent rollercoaster of ups and downs which can also contribute to feelings of anxiety.

This sugar-and-anxiety cycle isn’t just relegated to the daytime hours. “High-sugar foods can keep you up because of their energy that prevents your natural stress-booster of sleep from kicking in,” Zeitlin says. “When we don’t get enough sleep we feel even more anxious and stressed because our body missed an opportunity to process it properly.” You’re now going into the next day with less sleep, and thus lower energy levels and higher stress levels. And what do many people reach for to combat stress and anxiety? You guessed it: sugar.

And “high-sugar foods” doesn’t just mean candy, cookies, and cake. “Studies have found that women who eat more refined carbohydrates (baked goods, candy, white breads/rice/cereals, bagels, etc) were more likely to suffer from depression and mood swings because of the drastic peaks and deeps in blood sugar levels,” Zeitlin says.

How to keep sugar from contributing to anxiety

Of course, this isn’t just to freak you out and make you throw out all of the dairy-free ice cream in the fridge. Lots of other things can contribute to anxiety, including stress, coffee, work, and even family relationships—so cutting out Oreos isn’t the magic bullet for reducing anxiety. But the impact of sugar on anxiety levels can affect anyone, says Zeitlin—and if you have an existing anxiety disorder, sugary foods will likely exacerbate your condition, she adds.

One way to combat this is certainly to reduce your sugar intake, including processed foods and breads. It’s also a good idea to load up on foods low in sugar and high in fiber (think veggies, fruit like berries, and whole grains)—Zeitlin says they have a much more even effect on your blood sugar, which can help cut back on feelings of “increased anxiety.” She also recommends stopping eating about two hours before you go to sleep. “This gives your body time to properly digest and process the food—sugary or not—and let that energy subside in time for you to actually fall asleep and stay asleep.”

When you are eating foods higher in sugar, Burch suggests pairing it with foods higher in fiber and healthy fats. “This slows the absorption of sugar, preventing it from spiking blood sugar as much,” she says, and thus making it less likely to put you in an anxiety spiral.

But all this comes with a big caveat: Changing one’s diet shouldn’t be the only thing a person does to fight back against anxiety. “Changing your diet to limit high-sugar foods will not treat or cure your anxiety disorder, but it will help manage it better and optimize the times you are feeling good and less anxious,” says Zeitlin. Psychologist Gail Saltz, PhD, says some ways to reduce anxiety not related to food include deep breathing, working out, and (to bring it all full circle) getting enough sleep. If none of these lifestyle changes are helping, it’s essential to see a professional to help you come up with a treatment plan.

“Sugary foods contribute to mood swings and anxiety. Period,” Zeitlin says. And now that you understand the connection, it’ll be easier to be more mindful when you are consuming foods with sugar in them.

Additional reporting by Jessie Van Amburg.

If you want to cut out sugar completely but don’t know how, here’s some tips. And if your anxiety is worst in the morning, this could be why.

By: Emily Laurence

 

Source: Sugar and anxiety are connected in surprising ways | Well+Good

I’ve Lost 15 Pounds on the Noom Diet App, and Here’s What I Eat in a Day

I’m a fitness editor, and I live a pretty healthy lifestyle — I exercise five to six days a week, eat a whole-foods-based diet, and get at least seven hours of sleep a night — but in January of this year, I found my weight creeping up on the higher end of what I find comfortable. I’ve struggled to keep weight off my whole life, and thanks to my bipolar II medication, general stress, and love of happy hour, this has only gotten harder as I’ve gotten older.

I also have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which means I need to be careful with my weight: women with PCOS are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance (and women with PCOS have a harder time losing weight, which makes this all a fun cycle).

All of that being said: I wanted to check out the Noom weight-loss app to see if it could help me shed some pounds and get back on track with a healthy lifestyle. Created with the help of registered dietitians and other experts, the Noom app aims to not only help you lose weight, but also change your behaviors and reevaluate the thought processes behind the decisions you make. Each day includes new articles on topics such as portion control, staying motivated, identifying your social triggers, and how to decode a restaurant menu.

Noom also includes a daily calorie target, which adjusts based on how much activity you got that day (you manually log your exercise or sync up to your Fitbit or Apple Watch). One of my favorite features of Noom is the comprehensive food log where you type in what you ate and track your daily calories. If your food isn’t in Noom’s database, you can manually add the nutrition information. It also provides a color-coded breakdown of your food based on how calorie-dense they are: green (fruits, veggies, most whole grains, complex carbs), yellow (lean meats, starches, eggs), and red (typically processed junk food but also healthy calorie-dense foods like oils and nuts). You are supposed to aim to eat as many green and yellow foods as possible and limit your red foods to 25 percent or less of your diet.

The biggest adjustment for me was keeping track of everything I ate. Sure, I eat a pretty well-balanced diet, but I’m often tempted by treats in the work kitchen or all of the tasty snacks sent to my office. After hours, it’s easy for me to let one glass of wine turn to three and get carried away with the free chips and salsa. Signing up for Noom really helped me figure out where I tend to overeat and track the true size of a healthy portion: 1/4 cup of almonds is a good-sized snack. Half a bag is not.

After four months on Noom, I’m down 15 pounds! Not as fast as I would have liked, but I do realize that slow and steady wins the race. I didn’t do anything radical aside from read the Noom articles, log my food, work out, and pay attention to my daily calorie budget. Although every day is different for me food-wise, here is an example of what a typical day of eating looks like.

What I Eat in a Day on Noom

My daily calorie target depends on how much activity I’ve done that day. If I’ve worked out and walked 10,000 steps, my calories will be closer to 1,500-1,600 a day. If I skipped a workout and laid on the couch all day (hello, hungover Sundays), my calorie target is closer to 1,200-1,300 a day. Here is an example of a day where I had a moderate workout:

Breakfast: protein smoothie (430 calories)

  • 1 scoop Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Chocolate Shake (170 calories)
  • 1/2 banana (52 calories)
  • 1 tablespoon Perfect Keto Pure MCT Oil (130 calories)
  • 1.25 cup 365 Organic Almond Milk Unsweetened (50 calories)
  • 1 cup baby spinach (7 calories)
  • 3 flowerets of raw cauliflower (9 calories)
  • 3 giant frozen strawberries (12 calories)

Lunch: breaded chicken breast with quinoa and broccoli (405 calories)

  • 3 ounces chicken breast (175 calories)
  • 1/4 serving 365 Everyday Value Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs (25 calories)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (40 calories)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (111 calories)
  • 1 cup roasted broccoli (54 calories)

Afternoon snack: almonds and collagen water (180 calories)

  • 17 Blue Diamond Gourmet Almonds, Rosemary and Sea Salt (120 calories)
  • Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water, Strawberry Lemon (60 calories)

Dinner: baked salmon with quinoa and broccoli (397 calories)

  • 3 ounces cooked salmon (195 calories)
  • 1/2 cooked quinoa (111 calories)
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli (55 calories)
  • 1 pat of butter (36 calories)

Daily total calories: 1,412

Food Color Breakdown

Image source: Noom app

On this day, I did a pretty good job of loading up on mostly green foods, a nice amount of yellow foods, and limiting my red foods. I know some of my diet staples are red (like MCT oil and almonds), but I’m going to keep eating them — I just pay attention to the portion sizes.

The Takeaway

I tend to eat the same things over and over, which is one way people find weight-loss success: it takes the guesswork out of having to plan so many meals each week. I also try and meal prep on Sundays, and on this particular day, I made big batches of quinoa in the rice cooker and broccoli (both steamed and oven-roasted) to last for lunches and dinners. I also baked breaded chicken breasts for lunch and salmon fillets for dinner to get my protein in.

My protein smoothie can sometimes be my biggest meal of the day. I make a calorie-dense smoothie like this after my big morning workout to refuel my body and keep me full well until my late lunch. Sometimes I need to supplement with a mid-morning snack, but most days I’m satisfied until 2 p.m. or so.

If I have a day where I know I’m going to be getting drinks after work or want to make room for a delicious chocolate chip cookie from the break room, I make adjustments in my diet the rest of the day. Maybe I’ll skip the MCT oil in my smoothie or forgo an afternoon snack. Sometimes I’ll trade in my quinoa at lunch for double the veggies or leave out the butter on top. Every little tweak or adjustment counts toward my daily calorie target. And while I didn’t reach for something sweet after dinner on this day, I usually have some type of dessert each day that’s less than 100 calories: a square of dark chocolate or a dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe’s.

I have never felt deprived doing Noom and I always listen to my hunger cues. Noom has really opened my eyes to what an accurate portion size is and how to plan your meals around your daily calorie target. I still have a little ways to go to hit my goals, but tracking everything in Noom makes it a little easier.

 

 

Source: I’ve Lost 15 Pounds on the Noom Diet App, and Here’s What I Eat in a Day

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