Probiotics and Prebiotics: Listen to Your Gut!

Young woman eating yogurt, closeupThere’s been a lot of talk about probiotics those high-fiber foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms said to improve or maintain the body’s “good” garden of microflora (bacteria).

Research is ongoing, but studies have pointed to “gut health” as impacting not only the digestive system, but the immune system as well. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that consuming different strains of probiotics over an eight-week period could reduce body weight and BMI, which are two caution areas related to diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Studies at Johns Hopkins have revealed an altering of blood pressure when different gut bacteria are produced in mice, rats, and people. Good gut bacteria have also been known to help reduce allergy symptoms, inflammation, and skin issues, like acne. Experts have been looking at the effects of probiotics on mood and stress, too.

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Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Are You at Risk?

High Cropped shot of an unrecognizable man suffering with foot cramp in the roomcholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and weight gain can all play significant roles when it comes to heart disease and stroke. PAD — also called Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) — is another concerning condition to be aware of and avoid, because it’s often overlooked and undiagnosed.

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Love Your Heart

Senior African American Couple Walking Through Fall WoodlandThere’s no sugar-coating it (even around Valentine’s Day).

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world, and the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing over 366,800 Americans a year (about one every 43 seconds). It’s the number one killer of women in the U.S., taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Heart issues in women can be more subtle. That’s dangerous, because women often misread the trouble signs while having an actual heart attack for things like acid reflux or flu. In fact, 64 percent of women who die from coronary heart disease (a narrowing of the arteries or blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart) had no previous symptoms. And heart disease is also the number one killer of men. (It doesn’t discriminate.)

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Say ‘Hi’ to Your BMI (Body Mass Index)

woman on a medical weight scale

Obesity brings with it a roster of related health conditions, from cancer, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke, to gallbladder disease, mental illness, osteoarthritis, and type 2 diabetes — to name just a few. So it makes sense to try and maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising often. For adults, that means working up to working out five days a week for 30 minutes each; kids need 60 minutes of exercise daily.

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Pry Yourself Away From Processed Foods

man reading nutrition label.

Packaged foods often make life easier, when there’s little time or energy to cook. But while you may be beating the clock with getting food on the table at home (or in your cube for lunch at work), you’re likely side-stepping healthier eating. According to the American Heart Association, almost 70 percent of the typical American diet comes from processed and restaurant foods.

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Detoxify Naturally by Eating Well!

Cape Town, South Africa

The beginning of a new year is when most of us start thinking about fresh starts, and push the re-set button on food and fitness. The idea of ridding the body of poisons via a “cleanse” that promises to burn fat or lose weight may be tempting. But think twice: Starving yourself by excluding solid food for a week and chugging some low-cal/low-protein miracle drink doesn’t work for healthy weight

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The Flu Is Nothing to Sneeze At

Seasonal cold. Adult man sitting on the sofa and holding a paper tissue while sneezing.

Did you know that a cough or a sneeze can spread the flu up to six feet away? Besides catching the flu months before the winter really hits, you can also catch it even later into the spring (a time not normally associated with flu season). Flu season is at its worst in January and February, and since the vaccine takes a couple of weeks to begin working in the body, the sooner you get vaccinated, the better.

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Eye Exams: Finding Diabetes Warning Signs

Young woman is being examined of her eyesight by optometrist

Did you know that eye exams often provide the earliest chance of detecting diabetes at its onset? (Blurry vision can be a warning sign for type 1 or type 2 diabetes, although some with type 2 may not have this symptom. This is temporary, and vision will return to normal once blood sugars are under control.)

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Take Charge of Type 2 Diabetes

Mature man looking in cooking pot while wife stirsAbout 90 to 95 percent of the 30 million Americans who live with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. About 15 to 30 percent of people with increased risk for diabetes (commonly referred to as prediabetes) will develop type 2 diabetes within just five years. Here’s what’s scary: Many of the 84 million who have prediabetes don’t know it. With prediabetes, an A1C test will show blood sugar levels are high, just not as high as type 2.

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Smoking and COPD: Commit to Quit

man enjoying a walk and fresh air in nature.

We’re all acutely aware of the dangers of smoking, but if you’re dealing with other health conditions, it can also greatly impact your ability to effectively manage those conditions. If you have diabetes, smoking can worsen chronic conditions, like diabetes-related eye problems, blood vessel issues, foot problems, nerve damage, and more. Smoking is also a road that can lead to heart disease, in addition to bladder, kidney, lung, or pancreatic cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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