August 9, 2016
What’s with the cupping?
A number of Olympians, including Michael Phelps, have been photographed with large red circles on their skin. They are the result of a practice known as “cupping,” an ancient therapy where heated cups are placed on the skin. The technique, a form of acupuncture, is done by lighting flammable liquid in a glass cup. Once the flame goes out, the drop in temperature creates suction, which promotes blood flow and leaves the red spots. Athletes use it to ease aches and pains, and to help with recovery due to constant training and competing. So far, the repeated effect of cupping therapy over time is not known, but it’s generally believed to be safe.
A CDC report found that that U.S. men and women weigh about 15 lbs more than they did 20 years ago. The average man is 5 ft 9 in and weighs 196 lb, and the average woman is almost 5 ft 4 in and weighs 169 lb. For men, that’s 15 lb and for women, 16 lb heavier, than we were 20 years ago. Heights were about the same at that time.
And we’re anxious.
Over the past eight years, Google search rates for anxiety have more than doubled. “So far, 2016 has been tops for searches for driving anxiety, travel anxiety, separation anxiety, anxiety at work, anxiety at school and anxiety at home.” Additionally, searches for “anxiety in the morning” and “anxiety at night” have increased significantly. Two factors that were found to cause anxiety: major recession and one less expected factor – opiate withdrawal.
Do you floss?
The American Dental Association recommends regular flossing to reduce the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay. They estimate that about 40 percent of Americans floss daily, 20 percent don’t floss at all, and 27 percent lie about it. I’m guessing a good amount of people floss once a year, on the day of their annual teeth cleaning. It turns out that few studies on the effectiveness of flossing have been completed. “Overall there is weak, very unreliable evidence which suggests that flossing plus toothbrushing may be associated with a small reduction in plaque at 1 or 3 months.” Despite the lack of evidence, I immediately felt the need to floss after reading this article.
In food news.
Almost antibiotic-free McNuggets. After making a pledge last year, McDonald’s is no longer serving chicken raised on antibiotics that are important in human medicine. This is a response to the concern that the more antibiotics are given to animals, the more quickly bacteria could become resistant to it. About “70 percent of medically important antibiotics (classes of drugs also used in human medicine) in the U.S. are sold for use on animals, not people.” The FDA is encouraging farmers who raise livestock to reduce antibiotic use. Chicken served at McDonald’s may still contain ionophores, a type of medicine that is not used to treat people.
Super. Foods like salmon and kale have been called “superfoods.” It turns out that the label doesn’t have an established definition. “Despite thousands of websites and lifestyle articles devoted to superfoods, there is hardly any published research in peer-reviewed scientific journals.” The European Union forbade food companies from using the term on food labels unless they could use an approved piece of research to back up a health claim. The U.S. does not have similar regulations.
The challenge of de-prescribing.
Nearly 60 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug. An estimated 15 percent take five or more medications, which is known as polypharmacy. As medication lists grow, so can the many side effects. It’s hard for doctors to “de-prescribe” medicines, citing that when “patients expect treatment, we are more likely to prescribe a drug—whether medication is needed or not.” Often patients want to stay on a drug that has helped them, even if it was prescribed for a condition that was temporary. Additionally, discontinuing a drug prescribed by another physician, gives doctors pause, because “physicians hesitate to step on another doctor’s toes.”
Pass it on.
Use this link to share healthy bites with your friends.