Why You’re Snoring and How To Put It To Rest

Do you snore so loud it sounds like you’re sawing logs throughout the night? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s estimated snoring affects around 90 million people.

While some snorers may never realize how loud they are until someone points it out, the snores of a sleeping partner or even even yourself can be loud enough to startle you awake.

But why are you snoring? It turns out there are several possible causes, some more serious than others. We spoke with Harneet Walia, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorder to look at some of the main causes of snoring and how they can be treated.

The causes of snoring

Snoring occurs when there’s a narrowing in the upper airway of the nose and the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. “There’s an enhanced resistance in the airway,” says Dr. Walia, “and the airway is more collapsible.”

Air flow can be blocked by several different factors and some can be more easily treated than others.

Long soft palate or uvula

A long soft palate (roof of the mouth) or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in the back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat, partially blocking the airway. When one breathes, these structures vibrate and bump against one another and a snoring sound is produced

Obstructed nasal airways

People who have partially blocked nasal passages have to make an extra effort to transfer air through them. This can pull together or collapse the soft and dangling tissue, resulting in snoring. Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Defects of the nose, such as a deviated septum (the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps (inflammatory growths) can also cause obstruction.

Sleep position

“Sleeping on the back is more likely to be associated with snoring,” Dr. Walia says. Sleeping in that position can cause the tongue to relax towards the back of the throat, resulting in a partially obstructed airway. A 2009 study of 2,077 sleep disorder patients conducted in Israel found that snoring was caused by sleep position in 54% of patients.

Poor muscle tone in throat and tongue

Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the lower airway. Other factors, like consuming too much alcohol before bed or a lack of sleep, can result in throat relaxation, too, causing snoring.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

One of the more concerning reasons for snoring is obstructive sleep apnea. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea symptoms include daytime sleepiness or tiredness, gasping for air or choking episodes at night and witnessed pauses in breathing while sleeping.

The primary condition of obstructive sleep apnea is, according to Dr. Walia, when someone has repetitive episodes of either stopping breathing or decreased breathing in their sleep.

“These episodes happen regularly during sleep. The disease defining metric for measuring obstructive sleep apnea is called the Apnea-Hypopnea Index, or sometimes the Respiratory Disturbance Index, which tells how bad a patient’s apnea is,” she says.

According to Dr. Walia, the threshold for being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea is five episodes an hour and, if other conditions like hypertension, mood disorders or cardiac issues are present, should lead to treatment even if the patient’s Apnea-Hypopnea Index is at or above that level.

That’s because obstructive sleep apnea can be associated with serious heart damage. “There is a very strong association between sleep apnea and cardiac arrhythmia. Research also shows episodes of upper airway collapse in sleep apnea may trigger arrhythmia events,” says Reena Mehra, MD, Director of Sleep Disorders Research in the Sleep Center of the Neurologic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Other ways that obstructive sleep apnea can increase risk of arrhythmia and heart failure include:

  • Repeated episodes of oxygen lowering (what doctors call hypoxia)
  • Changes in carbon dioxide levels
  • Direct effects on the heart due to pressure changes within the chest
  • Increased levels of markers of inflammation

“Obstructive sleep apnea is still an under-recognized and under-treated disorder,” says Dr. Walia, “and a very common symptom of it is particularly loud snoring. However, absence of snoring does not rule out sleep apnea.”

According to Dr. Walia, the daytime consequences of obstructive sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, impaired concentration, drowsy driving and even poor memory.

Ways to curb snoring

If obstructive sleep apnea isn’t suspected of being the cause of your snoring, “lifestyle changes should always be the first line of treatment,” Dr. Walia says. These include:

  • Dropping extra pounds. For overweight or obese people, snoring may be caused by extra weight around the throat, which leads to the collapse of the upper airway. Because of this, weight loss may decrease the frequency of snoring.
  • Banishing the brew before bed. Alcohol may cause relaxation of the airway muscles while you sleep, so avoid it for several hours before bedtime.
  • Changing your sleep position. Sleeping on your back can cause your airway to close. If you snore, try sleeping on your side to open your airway.
  • Quitting smoking. Doing so may improve nasal congestion and thereby reduce snoring.

Over-the-counter remedies

A trip to the drugstore will show no shortage of over-the-counter solutions for snoring, but they are not always backed by research, cautions Dr. Walia. However, some treatments may help under a doctor’s guidance:

  • Intranasal decongestants. These may be useful if your snoring is caused by nasal congestion — especially the common cold. For chronic nasal congestion, intranasal steroid sprays may be used.
  • Nasal strips. These strips, designed to open the airway, can ease snoring in some patients, says Dr. Walia.

Treatments for serious snorers

About half of those with loud snoring have obstructive sleep apnea. For obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor might order a sleep study in the lab, called a polysomnogram, or a home sleep apnea test.

After diagnosis, these treatments along with lifestyle changes can help reduce snoring and improve your sleep, says Dr. Walia:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is the most commonly used therapeutic treatment for sleep apnea. You’ll wear a face or nasal mask overnight, which forces air through your airway to keep it open.
  • Oral appliances. These mouthpieces increase the size of the upper airway during sleep, advance the jaw and the tongue forward, and can help reduce snoring. They may be safer than surgery and effective in certain patients if used correctly. They can be used in isolated snoring as well, Dr. Walia says.
  • Surgery. The surgery involves removing excessive soft tissue from the throat to widen the upper airway, which can reduce snoring in some cases. You and your doctor should weigh the risks and benefits before surgery — and try other treatments first.
  • Implants. An implantable device can be used in the treatment of sleep apnea in select patients.

5 Strategies to Help You Stop Emotional Eating

You stand at the freezer, steaming over a fight with your spouse and searching for some ice cream to cool your emotions. You sit on the couch and mindlessly munch through a whole bag of chips after a stressful day.

This is emotional eating. You might have heard it called “stress eating,” but “emotional” is more accurate, says registered dietitian Anna Kippen, MS, RDN, LD. Many negative emotions — including anger, sadness and stress — can trigger bad eating habits.

Here’s the problem: The feel-good foods you reach for can actually make you feel worse. Fortunately, there are strategies to help make sure your emotions don’t turn into diet damage in the long term.

1. Get down to the root cause

A bad day at work or a fight with a friend are short-term issues. But emotional eating can stem from bigger issues, too. These include chronic stress, long-term anger, depression and other concerns. If these apply to you, you may benefit from counseling, stress management, exercise and other techniques.

The strategies outlined here can help. But ultimately, you need to identify and address the true source of your emotional eating.

2. Ask why you’re eating

When you walk to the refrigerator, pantry or vending machine, pause and ask a simple question: “Am I really hungry?”

Kippen suggests rating your hunger on a scale from 1 to 5, with one being you’re not hungry at all, and five being you’re so hungry that you would eat the food you hate most in the world.

“It’s too easy to just dive into mindless eating, but by asking yourself this question, you at least recognize your motivation,” she says.

If your hunger clocks in at a level three or four, she suggests grabbing a healthy, balanced snack within 15 minutes or a healthy, balanced meal within 30 minutes. If your physical hunger is lower than that, she recommends trying an alternative activity like drinking a cup of fruity herbal tea or going for a walk.

“Becoming more aware of your hunger level can help you to curb excessive snacking and make better choices,” she says.

3. Swap out your worst snacks

If you don’t have a giant bag of greasy chips at your fingertips, you can’t eat the whole bag. That’s good, because overeating processed snacks can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

If you need a salty snack, stock popcorn (with salt and oil only) instead. You’ll get the whole grains that are one important source of the feel-good hormone serotonin. You’ll also get antioxidants to boost your immune system and far fewer calories than chips. Roasted chickpeas are another great crunchy option with protein and fiber to fill you up.

If stress, anger or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, remember this: The sugar high comes with a low afterward. This low can lead to increased cravings later. And, sweets and processed foods can even make certain mental concerns, including symptoms of depression, worse.

As an alternative to your favorite candy, cake or pies, Kippen recommends keeping a bowl of sweet fruit out in the open. (Studies show you’re more likely to eat fruits and veggies when they are easy to access).

“I also suggest keeping frozen berries on hand that can quickly be thrown into a blender to make a healthy sorbet,” she says.

4. Choose foods that fight stress

Have you ever wondered why people offer hot tea in emotional situations? It turns out there’s more to it than soothing steam. Tea often contains helpful antioxidants. And green tea, matcha tea and white tea contain an amino acid called L-theanine that may help reduce stress levels.

If you tend to snack late at night, try dark cherries. Not only do they offer a sweet treat, but they also help increase natural levels of melatonin to help you sleep. Likewise, salmon and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help with sleep.

The list goes on: Dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fruits and vegetables all have a part to play in maintaining a healthy mind. “The key is stocking up on foods that help with your stress or emotions, and avoiding processed junk that might make you feel worse,” Kippen says.

5. Make emergency packages

If you’re prone to stress-related snacking, prepare for it.

For example, don’t eat any food straight from the package. Grabbing snacks from the package is a recipe for binge eating and overindulgence.

Instead, pre-portion snacks such as nuts, popcorn or sliced veggies into baggies or containers. Consider these your emergency snack packages — or just your healthy snack options on an ongoing basis.

Beyond these tips, it bears repeating: If you need medical help to address emotional issues, ask for it. A doctor can help you tackle stress, depression, anger or any other negative emotions with a full treatment plan.

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Do You Know What’s Growing on Your Loofah?

Natural and plastic loofahs

You may love your loofah, but don’t get too attached. You won’t want the things that can lurk in a loofah to linger.

By their nature, loofah sponges have lots of nooks and crannies, and they’re very porous. When people use a loofah to scrub off dead skin cells, those cells become lodged in the nooks and crannies. And that sets the stage for a bacterial breeding ground, says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD.

Bacteria at home in wet environment

“Loofahs are interesting,” she says. “They’re used in a wet environment and you hang them up in the shower, which is also a wet environment. They don’t ever totally dry out, so the loofah is a beautiful breeding ground for bacteria.”

Loofahs can contain fungal organisms that lead to skin infections. “That’s why it’s important to make sure you keep your loofahs clean, replace them regularly and use them gently — do not rub your skin too vigorously.”

5 tips to good loofah care

So how should you properly care for your loofah? Dr. Piliang offers a few tips:

  1. Dry it daily. Rinse your loofah well after each use. Shake it out thoroughly and hang it in a cool place — probably not in the shower — where it has the best chance of drying out.
  2. Avoid using it for a few days after you shave. Bacteria can enter your skin through any sort of nick or cut, so you shouldn’t use your loofah for a couple of days after shaving your legs, Dr. Piliang says. There’s no reason to use a loofah more than twice a week, anyway, she says.
  3. Never use it on your face or in your genital area. Those parts of the body are sensitive. “You wouldn’t want to scrub them, anyway,” she says.
  4. Clean it weekly. “No matter which loofah you are using, you should clean it at least once a week,” she says. To do so, soak it in a diluted bleach solution for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.  Or put it in your dishwasher.
  5. Replace it regularly. “If you have a natural loofah, you should replace it every three to four weeks,” she says. “If you have one of the plastic ones, those can last for two months.” Usually, but not always: “If you notice any mold growing on your loofah, you should throw it away and get a new one,” she says. “Or if it develops a mildewy or musty odor — that’s a sign you should get rid of your loofah.”

You may also want to consider washcloths as a good alternative to loofahs. They don’t present the same degree of problems. Their physical structure makes them less susceptible to anything lodging in them — and also makes them easier to clean and dry, Dr. Piliang says. Plus, people tend to wash them in the laundry and replace them more often than they would with a traditional loofah.

The Best and Worst Foods for IBS

Safe foods for IBS sufferers

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), knowing what to eat can feel like the holy grail. For some patients, the right diet, along with attention to exercise, can control symptoms without medication.

Dietitian and researcher Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, says she often recommends a special diet of easily digestible food, called a low-FODMAP diet, which you’ll find outlined below.

FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols” – a mouthful to say, but in more common terms, FODMAPs are carbohydrates that may not be digested or absorbed well, Dr. Cresci explains. Undigested carbohydrates are then metabolized by intestinal bacterial to produce excess gas, which leads to abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation.

What foods to limit (and good substitutes)

Here’s a breakdown of what foods to *limit* when you’re following a low-FODMAP diet, as well as some suggested substitutes:

  • Lactose is found in milk and other soft dairy products like cottage cheese, cream cheese, ice cream and sour cream. Anyone can handle a very small amount of lactose, but if you eat more than your intestine can handle, you will get gas and abdominal pain. About half the population is born with low levels of lactase, which metabolizes dietary lactose.
    What to eat instead: Try lactose-free milk, oat milk, rice milk or soy milk as good alternatives to cow’s milk, as well as lactose-free yogurt. For cheese, try any of these three: hard cheeses, brie and camembert. Need butter? Go for olive oil instead.
  • Fruits contain the sugar fructose, which can cause issues for IBS sufferers. Fructose is particularly high in apples and pears, and somewhat high in watermelon, stone fruits, concentrated fruit, dried fruit and fruit juice. Fruits with lower levels of fructose include bananas, citrus, grapes and berries.
    What to eat instead: Eat fruits that are lower in fructose, such as banana, blueberry, boysenberry, cantaloupe, cranberry, grape, orange, lemon, lime, kiwi and strawberry.
  • Certain vegetables cause gas and abnormal bowel habits. Avoid cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, coleslaw and sauerkraut. Also, limit artichoke, brussels sprouts, onions, shallots, leeks and asparagus.
    What to eat instead: Vegetables that are good to eat include eggplant, green beans, celery, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, yam, zucchini and squash. You can enhance flavors of these veggies with herbs. On the safe list, you’ll find: basil, chili, coriander, ginger, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
  • Legumes, or beans, are often called the “musical fruit” because they contain indigestible saccharides. Baked beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans have high amounts. So IBS patients should avoid them, or eat them in very small quantities.
    What to eat instead: While not exactly a substitute for beans, you can enjoy rice, oats, polenta, millet, quinoa and tapioca. Also, as long as you do not have celiac disease, you can eat gluten on a low-FODMAP diet, which is an inaccuracy of some charts.
  • Polyols, sugar substitutes found in sugarless gum and candy, also can cause problems. Avoid them, including sorbitol, mannitol, isomalt, maltitol and xylitol.
    What to eat instead: It is perfectly fine to eat (in moderation, of course) good old-fashioned sugars, other artificial sweeteners that do not end in “ol,” (like NutriSweet® and Splenda®) and honey substitutes (maple syrup, molasses and golden syrup).

The best treatment for IBS

Sometimes IBS is treated with medications, but a change in diet is the first thing we try. A healthy lifestyle — with a low-fat diet, exercise and avoidance of alcohol and cigarette smoking — often makes a great difference. For people who still need help, special diets like a low-FODMAP diet can provide relief.

“While the low-FODMAP diet is often difficult for many to follow, it is often worth seeing if it will ease your symptoms,” Dr. Cresci says. Working with a registered dietitian can help you make the best food choices and maintain a balanced diet.

Your doctor may find that medication is also necessary to keep your symptoms at bay. These therapies include anticholinergic medicines, which calm the spasms, and antidepressants to reduce stress.

5 Healthy Foods You Think Are Unhealthy

5 Healthy Foods You Think Are Unhealthy

When you envision foods that wreck your diet or sabotage your health, what pops into your mind?

There’s a good chance the list of foods you imagine includes options that could actually help you reduce stress, prevent heart disease and ward off certain cancers. Unfortunately, once a food gets labeled “bad for your health,” it never seems to lose that description — even when new studies contradict previous claims.

You can buck the trend. Here are 5 foods to consider adding back to your diet.

Eggs

Old thinking: Eggs will raise cholesterol and your chances of developing heart disease.

New thinking: Eggs are loaded with antioxidants, protein and nutrients vital to good health. For example, a 2011 study found that regular egg consumption helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer due to their high antioxidant content. Additional studies have found that eggs may help reduce blood pressure. Further, new research out of Yale University has found that eggs can be incorporated into a heart healthy diet without negative effects on cholesterol, weight or endothelial function. As with all good things, though, just be sure to eat eggs, and particularly egg yolks, in moderation.

“Unfortunately, once a food gets labeled ‘bad for your health,’ it never seems to lose that description — even when new studies contradict previous claims.”

Nuts

Old thinking: Nuts are too fattening.

In truth, any food consumed in too great a quantity will cause weight gain. However, when eaten in appropriate portions — always check the serving size as a guideline — the protein and healthy fats found in nuts may actually help you lose weight. In addition to weight loss, eating nuts has been associated in several studies with reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Walnuts, which contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, are a particularly good option.

Chocolate

Old thinking: It’s a sweet treat, so it must be bad.

New thinking:The old thinking does apply to chocolate treats with a lot of added sugar. However, dark chocolate — look for cocoa content of at least 70 percent — is loaded with flavonoids, the same beneficial compounds found in berries, red wine and tea. An ounce of chocolate a day has been shown to reduce risks for heart disease, and an ounce and a half may help reduce stress.

Potatoes

Old thinking: All potatoes are too fattening.

New thinking: Certain potatoes may play a role in reducing the risk of a silent killer — but the type of potato matters. A 2012 study found that purple potatoes helped lower blood pressure in hypertensive, obese individuals without causing weight gain. Additionally, potatoes are naturally high in fiber and contain virtually no fat. Sweet potatoes and purple potatoes are tops when it comes to nutrient density, but what you put on your potato (or don’t put on it) will make or break an attempt at a healthy meal. Forgo the sour cream, bacon bits, butter and cheese. Opt for fresh veggies and herbs instead.

Soy

Old thinking: Eating soy increases your risk of disease.

New thinking: Soy is certainly controversial, but as with some of the foods mentioned above, the type of soy you eat matters. Many concerns are associated with highly processed soy products, but numerous studies looking at isoflavones and protein in whole soy sources — think miso, tofu and edamame — demonstrate the benefits associated with this legume. Highlights include reduction in cancers of the breast (for women on certain types of therapy), prostate and colon and improvement in heart health.

Contributor: Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

How to Work Out At Home (Yes, It’s Possible!)

Woman working out at home

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or casual gym goer, the thought of picking up a dumbbell covered in germs is enough to make anyone cringe. And with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) becoming more prominent every day, gyms and fitness centers across the country are closing their doors to help protect members.

If staying active is an important part of your life (as it should be!) you might be wondering how you’re supposed to go about this whole at-home workout thing. Thankfully, it’s easier than you think.

“A lot of what you’ll find with at-home workouts is about maintaining your current level of fitness,” explains exercise physiologist Katie Lawton. “And with workouts, consistency is key.”

Here Lawton shares some practical advice about how to stay active at home.

  1. Find workouts through online videos and apps. The internet is choked full of free workout videos. From yoga, to Zumba, to circuit training that you can do in your backyard. Test out a few workouts to find a series, program or instructor that you like. (Bonus points if you can get other members of your household to join you!)
  2. Walk, run or bike outside. Everyone could use a little fresh air. Hit the pavement in your neighborhood and challenge yourself to walk, run or bike a certain number of minutes or miles. If you’re an experienced fitness buff and you’re really looking to ramp up your heart rate, opt for hills or try a running based HIIT workout.
  3. Focus on body weight movements. Now’s the time to incorporate body weight exercises into your workouts. These tried and true movements include things like pushups, squats, lunges, planks and burpees. They’re convenient, efficient and inexpensive (AKA free). Pick a few different movements and create a circuit workout by completing as many reps of that one movement as possible in one minute. Then rest for a minute and continue on to the next movement and do the same thing. Repeat this for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Order inexpensive fitness equipment online. Things like jump ropes, pull up bars that attach to door frames, suspension trainers and resistance bands are inexpensive items that can pack a punch when it comes to your workouts. Lawton recommends choosing a heavier resistance band and suggests tying the suspension trainer to a tree outside. You could also ask around if other family members or neighbors have old dumbbells or barbells that they no longer use.
  5. Utilize items around your house. Lawton encourages creativity when it comes to working out at home. Run up and down your basement stairs, use a chair for triceps dips or grab cans of soup or a gallon of water as a weight. Even jumping over a shoebox a few times can be a quick burst of cardio.
  6. Get your household involved. If you have kids, chances are they have more energy to burn off than you know what to do with and they’d be thrilled to be involved. Try to incorporate them into your plans to stay active – whether it’s encouraging them to do pushups with you or organizing a backyard obstacle course. Try to walk your dog every day, play tag with your kids or get your whole family involved in a backyard soccer game. Also never underestimate the power of a good dance party! It’s a great way to make memories with your family and burn off some stress and anxiety.

How to Maintain Healthy Diets for Kids While Schools Are Closed

Little girl eating breakfast

If you’re a kid, there are few things better than an after-school snack. Whether it’s salty or sweet, it always hits the spot after the long school day ends and you wait on dinner.

But with kids stuck at home thanks to coronavirus-related school closures, there’s a chance that, just like their parents, their diets could get a bit out of whack.

Previous research has shown children tend to gain weight during the summer months when they’re not at school. So how can parents keep kids from putting on excess weight while school’s out?

Set a meal plan

Dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, says setting a family’s meal plan for the day can go get everyone off to a good start.

“Make sure that you feed the kids breakfast within the first couple of hours of waking up,” she suggests. “Normally, we’re rushing out the door, trying to get to school. That’s not the case anymore, so while you can be a little flexible with the timing, you’ll want to have some form of breakfast within 2 or 3 hours of waking up.”

Keep a meal schedule

It’s also a good idea to keep track of when everyone is eating during the day, including adults. It’s best to make sure kids have something to eat every four to five hours, Dr. Zumpano says, as this will help cut down on all-day grazing.

“Make a note of what time you ate breakfast, make a note of what time you had the snack,” she says. “If you find you’re snacking all day, maybe just go ahead and have a meal. Maybe you’re hungrier than you realized and you’re just snacking throughout the day, because you’re not actually eating a meal.”

Keep an eye on what you eat

It’s easy to fall back on comfort foods when we’re feeling stressed and out of sorts.

And while it’s okay to indulge in a comfort snack here or there, Dr. Zumpano notes we want to make sure kids are getting balanced meals, with plenty of vegetables, at meal time.

“Really focus on the core of meals being a protein source, a fruit and a vegetable,” she says. “And the vegetable portion should exceed the portion of meat and fruit or starch.”

Have some healthy snack options available, too, and portion them out into bowls so kids aren’t eating right out of the box or bag.

Stay healthy through bedtime

If you’ve kept it healthy throughout the day, keep it going all the way. Dr. Zumpano reminds us it’s best to avoid snacks too close to bedtime, as night snacking is typically done out of habit, not out of hunger.

Instead, offer kids a healthy snack like an apple, celery sticks with natural peanut butte or an eight ounce glass of milk an hour or two before bedtime.

Why You Shouldn’t Wear Gloves to the Grocery Store

Man at grocery store with mask and no gloves

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, so do tips and advice on how you can protect yourself.  Plus with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommending face masks during essential trips (like going to the grocery store or pharmacy), you might be wondering if wearing gloves is a logical precaution.

“We’re seeing a lot of people out in public wearing gloves, which isn’t wrong so to say,” says infectious disease specialist Patricia Dandache, MD. “But unfortunately most people aren’t wearing or disposing of their gloves correctly, which defeats the whole purpose.”

There are many factors that play into why gloves aren’t always an effective protection measure outside of direct patient care. There could be a tear or rip in the gloves, you could put them on or take them off incorrectly, but most importantly,  the gloves could give you a false sense of security – and you end up touching everything you please, including your face, leading to self-contamination.

The glove itself is only good protection if the person wearing it follows good protective measures, but unfortunately most people will not.

Instead, Dr. Dandache recommends that your best bet is to go to the store without gloves and follow these steps:

  • Do not touch your face.
  • Do not touch your phone.
  • Practice social distancing while in the store. (Stay at least six feet away from others at all times.)
  • Limit the items or surfaces that you need to touch. (Now isn’t the time to scavenge through the entire apple pile.)
  • Wear a face mask – and do not touch the mask once it’s on your face.
  • Sanitize your hands (if possible) when you transition to your car and immediately wash your hands when you get home after unloading.

“Social distancing, not touching your face, sanitizing your hands after you’re done shopping, followed by washing your hands is a reasonable approach to avoid acquiring the virus in the store,” explains Dr. Dandache.

Gloves do not give you immunity nor permission to touch everything within reach either. Any germs that might be on your gloves can be transferred to all other surfaces and items you touch. This is why it’s counterproductive to wear gloves, yet continue to rummage through your purse or text on your phone while in the store.

The coronavirus can enter your body through mucous membranes, like in your nose and mouth. It does not enter your body through your hands, but the hands can transport the viral particles to the mucus membranes. There’s even the possibility that the virus could stick to the latex in gloves better than it could adhere to your own skin.

Still, for those who swear by gloves, it’s important to avoid cross-contamination when wearing them, otherwise they offer you no protection. It’s also critical to follow the CDC’s recommendation on how to correctly remove them.

“Many people don’t take off their gloves the right way, further contaminating themselves and others around them,” says Dr. Dandache. “And you should never, ever reuse gloves.”

In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick recap of how to safely remove your gloves:

  • Grasp the outside of one glove at the wrist, but be careful not touch your skin.
  • Peel the glove away from your body, pulling it inside out.
  • Hold the glove you just removed in your other gloved hand.
  • Peel off the second glove by putting your fingers inside the glove at the top of your wrist.
  • Turn the second glove inside out while pulling it away from your body, leaving the first glove inside the second.
  • Throw the gloves into the trash immediately. (Don’t leave them in the store parking lot outside of your vehicle or try to reuse them later.)
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer directly after you’ve removed the gloves.

Can Too Many Soft Drinks Shorten Your Life?

Study links all soda to early death
Young woman sipping soda through a straw

Once again, soft drinks are getting linked with negative effects on your health.

And this time, it’s not just the consequences on your waistline and scale. Instead, one study found that consuming any type of soft drink contributes to an early death.

Let’s say that louder for the people in the back.

According to the study – drinking soda shortens your lifespan. Period.

The study looked at data on 451,743 people with an average age of 50. And the results showed that it didn’t matter whether the people were drinking soft drinks with real or artificially added sugar.

“The striking finding was in nearly half a million people, there was an increased risk of death from all causes, including heart disease, with people that consumed sugar-sweetened beverages, sodas, and artificial sweeteners,” says Mark Hyman, MD, who did not take part in the study. Results showed that people who consumed two or more glasses a day of soft drinks, sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened beverages had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular or digestive diseases.

Nothing but bad news

Dr. Hyman says that diet soda is not a “free pass” to consume soda without the negatives.

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, other studies have shown they are linked to obesity, diabetes, increased hunger, and can impact your metabolism.

“Diet drinks have artificial sweeteners in them that affect your brain chemistry, make you hungry, and can slow your metabolism,” says Dr. Hyman. “They affect your gut microbiome in ways that are not good.”

Instead of soda, or sugar-sweetened drinks, Dr. Hyman recommends looking for sparkling water or water with a small amount of fresh fruit added to it. “The key message here is – soda, sugar-sweetened beverages, and artificial sweeteners are not good for you,” says Dr. Hyman. “They contribute to death from all causes and heart disease, so we should not be consuming them.”

5 Best Exercises for People with Diabetes

woman smiling near tree

If you have diabetes, exercise offers surprising benefits. As it lowers your stress levels, it lowers your blood sugar level.

How much exercise is right for you? For people with diabetes, The National Institutes of Health  (NIH) recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise is so important for people with diabetes that the American Diabetes Association recommends that these patients miss no more than two days of aerobic exercise in a row.

5 exercises for people with diabetes

There are many exercises that will benefit people with diabetes. Here are five we recommend:

  1. Walking — Because anyone can do it almost anywhere, walking is the most popular exercise and one we highly recommend for people with diabetes. Thirty minutes to one hour of brisk walking, three times each week is a great, easy way to increase your physical activity.
  1. Tai Chi —This Chinese form of exercise uses slow, smooth body movements to relax the mind and body. In 2009, researchers at the University of Florida studied 62 Korean women assigned to one of two groups—a control group and an exercise group that began a regular practice of Tai Chi. Those who completed the tai chi sessions showed significant improvement in blood sugar control. They also reported increased vitality, energy and mental health.
  1. Yoga — A traditional form of exercise, yoga incorporates fluid movements that build flexibility, strength and balance. It is helpful for people with a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes. It lowers stress and improves nerve function, which leads to an increased state of mental health and wellness. According to the ADA, yoga may improve blood glucose levels due to improved muscle mass.
  1. Dancing —Dancing is not only great for your body. The mental work to remember dance steps and sequences actually boosts brain power and improves memory.  For those with diabetes, it is a fun and exciting way to increase physical activity, promote weight loss, improve flexibility, lower blood sugar and reduce stress. Chair dancing, which incorporates the use of a chair to support people with limited physical abilities, makes dancing an option for many people. In just 30 minutes, a 150-pound adult can burn up to 150 calories.
  1. Swimming — Swimming stretches and relaxes your muscles and doesn’t put pressure on your joints, which is great for people with diabetes. For those with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes, studies show it improves cholesterol levels, burns calories and lowers stress levels. To get the most benefit from swimming, we recommend that you swim at least three times a week for at least ten minutes and gradually increase the length of the workout. Make sure to have a snack and monitor blood sugars. Lastly, let the lifeguard know that you have diabetes before you get in the pool.

 

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Exercise safety

Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor to be sure the exercise you choose is safe and appropriate for your type of diabetes. Remember to start slowly, especially if you have not been physically active for a while.

Below, find other safety tips:

  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercise until you are aware of how your body responds to exercise.
  • Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is less than 250 mg/dl before exercising. For people with Type 1 diabetes, exercising with a blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dl may cause ketoacidosis, which can be a life threatening condition resulting from a lack of insulin in the blood.
  • Do a five-minute warm-up before and a five-minute cool down after exercising.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • Be prepared for any episodes of low blood sugar.  Have something available that can bring sugar levels up, such as hard candy, glucose tablets or 4 oz. of juice.
  • Wear a medical alert ID band. If an emergency occurs, EMS will know how to treat you properly.
  • Always carry a cell phone.
  • Avoid exercising in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
  • Wear proper shoes and socks to protect your feet.

Listen to your body. If you become short of breath, dizzy or lightheaded, stop exercising. Report any unusual problems you experience to your doctor.