Is Stress Causing Your Headache?

Whether it’s all over tension headaches or localized migraines, when you experience more stress, studies have suggested that you will also suffer more and more frequent headaches. A study in Germany followed subjects for 2 years, tracking stress levels, headache types, and headache regularity with 500 adult subjects. If they were to report more stress, they also reported more headaches according to the study. The scale given was 0 to 100, and they found that every 10 point increase in stress led to a 6% increase in headaches.

However, this is still early. The exact links between stress and headaches aren’t 100% clear according to coauthor Sara Schramm MD of the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen University. According to Schramm, the actual causes of headaches may be much more complex, and there’s no simple answer. The good news in a way is that the connection definitely does exist.

Schramm has recommended stress lowering techniques such as yoga and meditation to prevent future issues with unnecessary headaches.

Internet Nutrition Myths That Won’t Go Away

The Internet has burst onto the scene, giving us all sorts of information, both good and bad. Sometimes, you can find a wealth of valuable information for studies, research, school projects, etc. Other times, you get a bunch of myths that, because they’re online, and of course the Internet is always honest, we just can’t get rid of. Even if they were correct at one time, but science has since proven them wrong, we still have them sticking around. Here are just a few of the big ones I’ve heard for a while:

  1. Microwaves Destroy Essential Nutrients

    It’s a common idea, and with all of the ideas about how many harmful chemicals microwaves put out, it’s not all that surprising. Research has shown that there is little to no difference between microwaved foods and foods cooked in other ways. Microwaving may even help some foods to maintain their nutrients when steaming.

    When you are heating your food, you may see some nutrient depletion in general, but they are generally nutrients that aren’t heat stable, such as vitamin C for example. Many nutrients are also considered to be water soluble, which means they could leach into other liquids. If you want to maintain nutrient density, avoid high temperatures in cooking, don’t over-cook, and try to avoid using water or liquid, or use as little as possible.

  2. Cancer Cells Feed On Sugar

    It’s a nice thought, and something that seems so simple, but it’s not true. It has spread under the name of: Cancer Update From John Hopkins. It goes through one of those infamous chain letters, and there are actually many better ways of avoiding or treating cancer such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. This chain letter came about in 2007, and ever since then, the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society have been fighting this fire.

    The only connection that sugars have to cancer is that greater amounts of sugar can contribute to obesity, which can be a factor in obesity and weight gain. The National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society recommend a healthy diet plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and other healthy foods that also sometimes have natural sugars. They recommend staying away from things like extra sodas, desserts, and other unhealthy foods.

  3. Vegetarian Diets Can Change Your Body Chemistry And Make You Skinnier

    They tell you that vegetarian diets lead to your body being more alkaline, which helps you to lose weight. That sounds good and all, but it’s not true. We all understand the basics of alkaline versus acidity, and the pH of 7 is neutral. The truth is that yes, many foods eaten by meat eaters can be unhealthy, and vegetarians in general tend to lean more towards fruits and vegetables, but it depends on the one. If you’re eating nothing but pasta and donuts, is it vegetarian? Sure. But is it healthy and something that will help you to lose weight? That’s a big fat no.

    To change the pH level in your body is difficult, if not near impossible for a reason. Too much alkaline or too much acidity could do quite a bit of damage in a short period, and your body is excellent at maintaining its own homeostasis. Your stomach has to maintain the right acid level to break down foods while your blood is tightly regulated to prevent things like kidney failure. If what you eat had that big an impact on your pH level in your body, most of us would be dead by now.

  4. You Need To Cleanse And Detox Your Body

    Dr Google and Surgeon Bing love to tell you about all of the special detox diets you can follow to get rid of that long black string of goop that is stuck in your GI tract. They tell you that you can flush out your body, rest your GI tract, or cleanse your liver. In fact, there are even some chiropractors that will stick a hose up your butt and supposedly do it for you. The fact that many celebrities and trainers also promote it doesn’t help.

    Despite all the popularity and hype, there is nothing that actually proves or sustains that any of this is true. There is nothing to suggest that starving yourself and making yourself miserable is the pathway to true health. In fact, many suggest that if you drink enough water, that has enough of a cleansing effect on its own. The GI tract, kidneys, and liver are all efficient at cleansing your body. That’s why when one of those organs fails, you have to have serious medical intervention. The weight that many people do actually lose is water weight, and it can be gained back just as quickly. Your best bet is actually to practice a healthy diet and exercise plan and get plenty of sleep.

  5. Canola Oil Comes From The Toxic Rapeseed Plant

    Canola oil is actually made of the crushed seeds of canola plants, not rapeseeds. Yes, they are cousin species, but they have distinctly different nutritional profiles. Rapeseed oil has high levels of erucic acid, which has been linked to heart disease and has been banned in the US.

    Canola is NOT a common workaround. Canola oil has less than 2% erucic acid, meaning it’s not even close to toxic. Canola oil is also one of the most heart-healthy oils with less saturated fat and more omega-3 fatty acids than vegetable oil.

  6. Sea Salt Is Healthier Than Table Salt

    If you see the marketing for sea salt, you will see all sorts of health benefits promised. You will also see that there are various colors, each of which supposedly has special benefits of their own. It’s all advertising though. Regular table salt and gourmet sea salt may come at different prices, but it has the same amount of sodium, which is about 2300mg per teaspoon. As far as other nutrients supposedly found in gourmet sea salt, they don’t really have anything to be excited about. The differences are minimal at best. It may look nice, but it’s not nutritionally superior in any sense of the word.

  7. Negative Calorie Foods

    Negative calorie foods are popular, because you get foods like grapes that are extremely low calorie. Then they tell you that your body needs to use more calories than you get from a bundle of grapes to digest it, making it a negative calorie food. When they figure out the calories in foods, scientists take out the amount of calories you would need to burn it. So when you take that out, you are just doubling the number on one effect. They are low calorie, but there is no such thing as a negative calorie food.

What To Do When You Have Eaten Too Much Sugar

So you’ve cut back on your sugar, trying to do right by your diet, but then you overdo it. You binge on the sugar, and there’s no going back. Of course, don’t panic. One day of eating too much sugar is one day, and you can simply get over that hump and move on. Unfortunately, a number of people end up panicking and letting it ruin their entire diet.

If you have gone on a sugar binge, it’s easy to want a quick fix, and I’m sorry to say, there’s no easy way to undo that kind of damage. It’s not like salt where you can balance it out with more water. For one thing, sugar actually comes with calories that absorb quite quickly into the bloodstream. This can lead to sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels, leading to side effects that may not be so pleasant, depending partially on the person.

The one time when more sugar is not necessarily a bad thing is during intense, sustained exercise. When you’re beating it out, you need to have a quick and lasting energy source. So a mix of sugar for the immediate, and protein for long term energy, is essential.

That aside, if you’re basically healthy and following the basic rules of dieting, you can get away with the occasional sugar binge. Just keep it in line and controlled, and make sure it’s not a daily thing.

Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Fiber

It’s no secret that getting enough fiber can make you healthier, help you to prevent problems, even help you to lose weight while staying regular. Yet, despite all of the media about it, most people just don’t get enough. Women are supposed to get about 25 grams of fiber per day, but most get only 15 grams, according to Keri Gans, a dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet.The better question is, how can you tell if you are getting enough fiber? Here are a few ways you can tell that you might need more:

  • You’re Constipated

    If you are not going to the bathroom at least once a day, chances are you aren’t getting enough fiber. Most assume that constipation is a sure sign that you are lacking, but fiber is an extreme scenario. In other words, if you aren’t going regularly, you are not getting enough fiber.

  • You Have High Cholesterol

    If you find that you have high cholesterol, you may not be getting enough fiber. Fiber can help to lower and control your cholesterol levels, thereby protecting your heart health. If you don’t get enough fiber, you will find that the cholesterol won’t leave your body as effectively, which could explain higher cholesterol levels.

  • You Get Hungry Quickly

    If you are hungry within 45 minutes to an hour after meals, you may not be getting enough fiber. Fiber digests more slowly than other foods, and it can also get you full faster while keeping you full longer. If you want to lose weight, one of the best things that you can do for yourself is get more fiber. So if you find that you are hungry too quickly, you most likely didn’t get enough fiber, at least in that meal.

Major Allergy Myths You Fell For

With all of the hype, sometimes, facts get lost in the fray of things. Take for example Bo Obama. He’s not a hypoallergenic dog. Sure, some dogs do have hair rather than fur, but they can still have the dander that can cause allergies for some people. Likewise, there is no allergy to gluten. Celiac disease is something else entirely. A presentation given at the annual meeting of the American college of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology looks to bust these myths and bring science back into the picture.

After years of dealing with patients who hold fiercely to beliefs that are just wrong about allergies, Dr David Stukus put this presentation together in hopes of fighting Dr Google. Stukus said, It was shocking to me, the amount of misinformation that is available to the general public. He is an allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

  1. If you are allergic to dogs or cats, you should get a hypoallergenic breed

    There is no such thing as a totally hypoallergenic pet. According to Stukus, every single pet will secrete allergens. Long hair doesn’t make a difference as the dander doesn’t actually come from the fur. It comes from saliva, sweat glands, and urine.

    For the real animal lovers, there’s good news. You may be more sensitive to some breeds than others. The only way to tell is by spending time around different breeds. You can tell and go from there. Stukus has instructed his patients to literally rub their faces on the animal.

  2. There is no such thing as a gluten allergy/sensitivity

    There is no such thing as an allergy to gluten, despite all of the people who insist that they are sensitive to gluten and need gluten free foods. Unless you have Celiac disease, you realistically shouldn’t worry about it.

    Stukus says, Gluten has been blamed for all that ails humanity. Celiac disease and wheat allergies would be real. Stukus says, Then there’s this claim about gluten allergy, which doesn’t really exist. It’s not really a recognized allergy. Wheat is a recognized allergy – but a lot of people will misinterpret that as gluten.

  3. Black mold can cause some serious diseases

    If you Google black mold, you will find that it has been linked to a lot of different issues like seizures, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, and even cancer. Stukus clarifies though, This has been attributed to cause all kinds of ailments, but there is absolutely no scientific link of a causal disorder to black mold to any of these disorders. The most black mold is likely to do is realistically to cause allergic rhinitis and asthma, assuming you’re allergic to black mold in the first place.

  4. You shouldn’t get flu shots if you have an egg allergy

    This has hit the fans. Allergists can understand where it comes from to a certain degree. Egg embryos from chickens are used to grow the viruses in vaccines for influenza, rabies, yellow fever, and MMR. However, while the small amount of egg protein that could be in the vaccines sounds concerning to parents, it’s unlikely to have a serious effect.

    It is only if a person has a history of severe anaphylaxis associated with eating eggs that you should be concerned. Even with severe reactions that do not include anaphylaxis, the vaccine is still most likely safe. However, they recommend seeing an allergist before you get a flu shot. There are currently egg free vaccines offered. MMR is safe for anyone with a history of egg allergies, but rabies and yellow fever are currently not.

  5. No milk til age 1, no eggs til age 2, and no nuts til age 3

    Food allergies are scary, and you don’t want to be facing an emergency, I understand. There are some kids who do better when mom doesn’t eat dairy products, and nuts are one of the most common food allergies. However, this is old information that has stayed around despite evidence to the contrary.

    There is no evidence to support the idea that you should avoid these foods in children past 4 to 6 months of age. In the allergy community, the stance has sort of reversed 180 degrees. We used to think avoidance reduced allegies; now, we think early introduction leads to tolerance.

Stukus recommends, Use the Internet for guidance, but don’t rely on it as your sole source of health information. It’s a great place to formulate questions that you can take to physicians.

Diabetics At Lower Risk Of Heart Attacks

While diabetes comes with so many risks it could make your head spin, there is good news. Yes, it’s something that is still associated with obesity, and we still want to get it under control to avoid complications as severe as death and amputations. The risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other heart complications and complications of diabetes are actually on their way out!

In the last 2 decades, the rates of heart disease and stroke fell among diabetics by more than 60% according to a new federal study. The studies have also shown that there has been a significant decline in the rates of diabetes related kidney failure and amputations to go with it. This seems mainly associated with better screening services and medical care, meaning early intervention and better care in general. Interestingly, this has happened while the rates of diabetes have more than tripled.

Dr John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist says, It is great news. The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care.

While there are those suffering purely hereditary forms of diabetes, some of which don’t respond 100% to diet and exercise, the most common type is related to obesity. This year, about 1 in 10 US adults has diabetes, and it has become the nation’s 7th leading cause of death according to the CDC. When obese, you are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, but diabetics seem to have narrower blood vessels, which can lead to these types of heart problems in the future.

In the 90’s, there were key studies that showed diabetics could control their disease blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol with healthy diet and exercise and medical intervention. Researchers have found that people can keep the risk of vision, heart problems, amputations, and other complications of diabetes under control. They are not always inevitable as we might think.

Insurance programs have been extensively expanded to cover things like blood sugar monitors and other diabetes treatments. More diabetics are also being diagnosed earlier and with milder forms. Even with higher rates of diabetes overall, the rate of hospitalization fell from 140,000 to 136,000 along with many other positive signs for those living with diabetes.

Herbs That Can Damage Your Liver

There are plenty of studies that supposedly show that herbs keep us young, heal our hearts, help us to lose weight, and there are some bold companies who have gotten sued and paid millions for claims about curing or even warding off cancer. The problem is that anything can go too far, and in excessive amounts, comfrey for example could actually send you to the hospital, which is why it’s no longer sold in the US. Even excessive amounts of green tea can do some damage to the liver.

This has been a significant enough problem that the American College of Gastroenterology has cautioned consumers specifically about too many natural or herbal products. They caution against the all too common idea that natural products are naturally safer than prescriptions, which just isn’t always true. In fact, according to Dr Herbert Bonkovsky of the Carolinas HealthCare Systems in Charlotte, they’re often not.

Bonkovsky says, Currently, there is not actually very much effective oversight. It’s pretty much up to the manufacturer of these supplements to guarantee what’s actually in there. This could mean companies using much more than the safe dose of a natural ingredient, or it could mean using undisclosed prescriptions or other illegal ingredients. Recently, a number of companies were fined and punished for including the discontinued prescription sibutramine and phenolphthalein, a laxative that was pulled for its potential to cause cancer. The American College of Gastroenterology specifically warns about 5 herbs:

  1. Green Tea

    Green tea is widely seen as a healthy way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. In fact, there are some who recommend 8 cups a day, which is fine. However, the extracts that you get in supplements are concentrated formulas with catechins. Experts now say that catechins can deplete some of the protective molecules in cells such as glutathione that are there to protect us from injury. A high dose of green tea extract can lead in susceptible persons to actually quite severe and even fatal liver injury according to Bonkovsky.

    He continues, We don’t really fully understand the basis for the susceptibility, but it seems likely to be a combination of genetic factors…but also maybe related to their diets, to whether or not they have been drinking alcohol. The FDA has rejected a number of the health claims made by companies trying to push green tea products.

  2. Comfrey

    Technically, this is not supposed to be sold in the US anyway, but it has a toxic substance called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can actually damage your liver. It can even be fatal. Comfrey is not supposed to be sold in the US, except in creams or ointments. But even in this form, I would be careful at the very least.

  3. Kava Kava

    This particular herb comes from the Polynesian islands, and it’s typically thought of as their way to get drunk essentially. There are some religious kids who use it because it’s not technically alcohol, and they can get the same effect, liver damage and all. It has been used to treat anxiety and insomnia, but it is banned in Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, and Britain due to the effects on the liver.

  4. Skullcap

    Traditionally used by Native Americans, skullcap has uses for anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Chinese skullcap is a different species, but both have been tied to potential liver damage. This is often used in products with multiple herbs. So it may be combinations that actually do the real damage, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for.

  5. Chaparral

    An extract of the creosote bush, chaparral is believed to help people with everything from skin rashes all the way up to cancer, though of course I would be very careful about the cancer idea. It is suspected to cause liver damage due to a compound called NDGA, and it may be related to an allergic or immune reaction to the substance as well. However, the cases have been severe enough to lead to emergency liver transplants.

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