Should You Eat a Sugar-Free Diet?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about taking on a sugar-free diet. But does the cost of your suffering really offer you enough benefit to make it worth it? What are the difficulties of a diet of this sort, on top of the lack of sugar?

  1. Often times, when you’re given a list of allowed foods, it makes you want the not allowed foods even more. This promotes a diet mentality and makes people people feel bad when they do indulge in those foods.
  2.  Researchers have actually found that dieting isn’t effective in the long term and can actually lead to more weight gain. When the brain interprets the diet as a restriction, it causes fat storage to build up for future shortages. In addition, if the diet causes stress, the body releases cortisol which can cause the body to store fat.
  3. These diets also advocate avoiding fruit for a certain period of time and then slowly introducing it.

And the list continues. Assuming you don’t want to go on a sugar-free diet, here are some recommendations. Eat two servings of fruit a day and eat plenty of plants, whole grains, beans and legumes. You can eat a little less sugar but you don’t have to go crazy avoiding it. When you do eat foods with sugar, try to eat mindfully to really enjoy the food you’re eating. Learn more for healthy eating.



Weighted Sleep Blankets…Do They Work?

If you are an insomniac or suffer from PTSD or similar types of anxiety, you may want to know about weighted blankets. These blankets have been used for decades in therapy for kids with developmental disorders and for anxious animals. But now they are becoming more popular for people as well.

A study in Sweden in 2015 found that a weighted blanket improved sleep quality for insomniacs by providing the feeling of being cocooned. The pressure stimulation has been shown to reduce cortisol and increase serotonin and melatonin in the brain, all of which can help with sleep.

While more research needs to be done, the findings so far are promising. In 2008, a study was done at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with 32 participants and a 30 pound weighted blanket. They found that 63% of the participants reported lower anxiety after using it.

Certainly, it seems like something worth looking into if you suffer from an inability to get to sleep, or to stay asleep through the night.


Serena Williams Helping Pregnant Women

It is inspiring to see how Serena Williams is working to help moms-to-be around the world. After giving birth to her daughter, Williams experienced a great deal of medical trauma and she wants to prevent other women from having a similar experience. Williams had a c-section after her daughter’s heart rate plummeted. Soon after giving birth, Williams had trouble breathing and a scan revealed that she had blood clots in her lungs. After many complications, doctors saved her life and had to be on bed rest for six weeks.

As Williams recently wrote in an op-ed for CNN, “If it weren’t for their professional care, I wouldn’t be here today. Every mother, everywhere, regardless of race or background deserves to have a healthy pregnancy and birth. And you can help make this a reality.”  She urges readers to donate to UNICEF or to write to governments. It’s certainly inspiring to see someone as well known as Williams putting her energy towards helping others.




3 Tips for Eye Health: Dr. Alan Mendelsohn

Most of us use digital devices during the day – whether we are reading on a Kindle, working on the computer, or checking email on a cellphone, we are on a device. According to the Vision Council, almost 95% of American spend two or more hours each day on a digital device. And if you work at a computer screen, then this number is multiplied many times.

As Dr. Alan Mendelsohn explains in a recent article in the Miami Herald,

“The blue light emissions lead to digital eyestrain, which is characterized by eye fatigue, blurred vision, red and/or dry eyes, general eye discomfort, headaches, migraines and decreased productivity. Counterintuitively, when you “take a break” from work and pull out a cellphone to catch up with texts, social media, etc., you continue to be afflicted by blue light emissions, further exacerbating digital eyestrain.”

Even more dangerous, the blue light emissions can contribute to macular degeneration which is actually the number one cause of blindness in adults. So, what suggestions does Dr. Alan Mendelsohn have to help those of us who aren’t about to part with our electronic devices?

He says that you should sit far away from your devices rather than hovering over them. Interestingly, he recommends wearing sunglasses while you are using your digital devices. He explains that high quality sunglasses have UV protection and blue light blockers and that they can make a real difference if you use them. Finally, Dr. Alan Mendelsohn explains that you should get a blue blocker or filter embedded in your next pair of glasses with a yellow chromophore pigment. This will block the blue rays.

This issue might seem like something that you can ignore – but if you think about how much we all use our electronic devices, making a few changes for your eye health can go a long way.

Become Straw Free and Help the World

Most people don’t realize this but American throw away as many as 500 million plastic straws a day. As Adrian Grenier of the non-profit Lonely Whale points out, “Conservatively, you can guess that Americans will use on average two plastic straws a day, so 500 million is an accurate estimate. But I challenge you to start paying attention to the straws you get in your iced coffee, smoothies, soda, and cocktails. When I’m in New York or LA the number of plastic straws I receive is often closer to 10 a day.”

A number of people and organizations are starting to care, and they are making a difference. Milo Cress started a movement in 2011 called Be Straw Free that encourages restaurants and hotels to only offer straws when people ask for them. Grenier has a Strawless in Seattle campaign which has, so far, helped Seattle to save 2.3 million plastic straws in only three months. They are asking restaurants and businesses to change to biodegradable straws and it’s making all the difference.

It’s certainly a cause worth thinking about and a change that could make all the difference.

The Many Dangers of Postpartum Depression

Not enough people understand the devastating consequences of postpartum depression. An estimated one in every nine women will have some symptoms after giving birth which include mood swings, fatigue and reduced interest in activities. This can certainly make it hard to bond with the baby and to get the things done that any new mother needs to do for herself and her child.

One interesting study conducted by Benjamin Nelson, Heidemarie Laurent and Nick Allen at the University of Oregon looked at how a mother’s depression affect her child’s stress levels and later cell health. They recruited 48 moms with 12 week old infants and followed them for 18 months. When the infants were six months old and then a year they were brought to the lab to be put through some mildly stressful tasks. The details of the study can be found here.

They found that when they collected saliva to see the length of the infants’ telomeres at 18 months, the worse the depression symptoms were in the mother, the higher the cortisol stress responses were in the infant. The study authors originally published their findings here.