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BMI and the Embarrassing Inaccurate Measuring of People

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BMI and the Inaccurate Measuring of People

BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases
that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk
for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2
diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Americans keep putting on the pounds — at least according to a report released this week from the Trust for America’s Health. The study found that nearly two-thirds of states now have adult obesity rates above 25 percent.

That seems reasonable and a good place to start in getting your baseline measures as you move forward in making decisions about your health but what if this measure was wrong?  What if you learned that this basic idea was based in incorrect ideas about the human body and was a leading means to both discourage good health and punish people who have the best intentions to improve themselves?

Health professionals have been using body mass index, or BMI, to help decide whether people are overweight or underweight for more than 100 years. Researchers in population studies, doctors, personal trainers, and others use the BMI in their work.

The use of body mass index to determine individual health should be scrapped immediately, Reports have long warned that obesity strategies failed to promote healthy behaviors and could be contributing to body-image pressures.

There are a myriad of reasons why BMI isn’t as accurate a measure of health as many of us were brought up to believe, but one of the main ones is that BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle. A pound of fat takes up a much larger volume on the body than a pound of muscle, even though they of course weigh the same. The drawbacks of using BMI is that some people are more muscular and this will make your BMI higher, even in a healthy person.  Even something as benign as your framesize (this is the idea that some people are skinnier than others and some people are broader than others, the classic ‘ectomorph’ and ‘endomorph’ comparison). A broader person will have a higher BMI which will result in a higher BMI.

Gender is another pitfall of BMI. At the same BMI, women will usually have more body fat than men.

What is wrong with BMI has been the same problems that have plagued it from the start.

1. The person who dreamed up the BMI said explicitly that it could not and
should not be used to indicate the level of fatness in an individual.

The BMI was introduced in the early 19th century by a Belgian named Lambert
Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. He was a mathematician, not a physician. He produced
the formula to give a quick and easy way to measure the degree of obesity of
the general population to assist the government in allocating resources. In
other words, it is a 200-year-old hack.

2. It is scientifically nonsensical. There is no physiological reason to square a person’s height (Quetelet had
to square the height to get a formula that matched the overall data. If you
can’t fix the data, rig the formula!). Moreover, it ignores waist size, which
is a clear indicator of obesity level.

3. It is physiologically wrong. It makes no allowance for the relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat
in the body. But bone is denser than muscle and twice as dense as fat, so a
person with strong bones, good muscle tone and low fat will have a high BMI.
Thus, athletes and fit, health-conscious movie stars who work out a lot tend to
find themselves classified as overweight or even obese.

4. It gets the logic wrong. The CDC says on its Web site that “the BMI is a reliable indicator of
body fatness for people.” This is a fundamental error of logic. For
example, if I tell you my birthday present is a bicycle, you can conclude that
my present has wheels. That’s correct logic. But it does not work the other way
round. If I tell you my birthday present has wheels, you cannot conclude I got
a bicycle. I could have received a car. Because of how Quetelet came up with
it, if a person is fat or obese, he or she will have a high BMI. But as with my
birthday present, it doesn’t work the other way round. A high BMI does not mean
an individual is even overweight, let alone obese. It could mean the person is
fit and healthy, with very little fat.

5. It’s bad statistics. Because the majority of people today (and in Quetelet’s time) lead fairly
sedentary lives and are not particularly active, the formula tacitly assumes
low muscle mass and high relative fat content. It applies moderately well when
applied to such people because it was formulated by focusing on them. But it
gives exactly the wrong answer for a large and significant section of the
population, namely the lean, fit and healthy. Quetelet is also the person who
came up with the idea of “the average man.” That’s a useful concept,
but if you try to apply it to any one person, you come up with the absurdity of
a person with 2.4 children. Averages measure entire populations and often don’t
apply to individuals.

6. It is lying by scientific authority. Because the BMI is a single number between 1 and 100 (like a percentage)
that comes from a mathematical formula, it carries an air of scientific
authority. But it is mathematical snake oil.

7. It suggests there are distinct categories of underweight, ideal,
overweight and obese, with sharp boundaries that hinge on a decimal place.

8. It makes the more cynical members of society suspect that the medical
insurance industry lobbies for the continued use of the BMI to keep their
profits high. 
Insurance companies (which are private companies who must answer to shareholders and make the largest profits possible)  sometimes charge higher premiums for people with a high
BMI. Of course they do – it is ‘science’ and it is a good excuse to squeeze more money out of consumers, which is the heart of ‘capitalism’. Among such people are all those fit individuals with good bone and muscle
and little fat, who will live long, healthy lives during which they will have
to pay those greater premiums.

9. Continued reliance on the BMI means doctors don’t feel the need to use
one of the more scientifically sound methods that are available to measure
obesity levels.

Those alternatives cost a little bit more, but they give far more reliable
results

10. It embarrasses the U.S.  Do I need to mention that it is embarrassing for one of the most scientifically, technologically and
medicinally advanced nations in the world to base advice on how to prevent one
of the leading causes of poor health and premature death (obesity) on a 200-year-old
numerical hack developed by a mathematician who was not even an expert in what
little was known about the human body back then.

 

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Giant Study Finds Viagra Is Linked to Almost 70% Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s

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Giant Study Finds Viagra Is Linked to Almost 70% Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s

6 DECEMBER 2021

The only word missing from this article is the word “throbbing” (but I digress).  It is an important study.

——————

Usage of the medication sildenafil – better known to most as the brand-name drug Viagra – is associated with dramatically reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, new research suggests.

According to a study led by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, taking sildenafil is tied to a nearly 70 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to non-users.

That’s based on an analysis of health insurance claim data from over 7.2 million people, in which records showed that claimants who took the medication were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the next six years of follow up, compared to matched control patients who didn’t use sildenafil.

It’s important to note that observed associations like this – even on a huge scale – are not the same as proof of a causative effect. For example, it’s possible that the people in the cohort who took sildenafil might have something else to thank for their improved chances of not developing Alzheimer’s.

Nonetheless, the researchers say the correlation shown here – in addition to other indicators in the study – is enough to identify sildenafil as a promising candidate drug for Alzheimer’s disease, the viability of which can be explored in future randomized clinical trials designed to test whether causality does indeed exist.

“Notably, we found that sildenafil use reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer’s in individuals with coronary artery disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are comorbidities significantly associated with risk of the disease, as well as in those without,” explains computational biologist and senior author of the study, Feixiong Cheng from the Cleveland Clinic.

It’s not the first time sildenafil use has been linked with better health outcomes, with the drug previously showing promise in a range of different scientific contexts, including cancer and malaria research among others.

Here, Cheng’s team began by building over a dozen endophenotype modules, using computational techniques to map genetic factors that could hypothetically govern the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease.

With 13 of these modules in hand, the researchers then looked at what kinds of FDA-approved drugs might hypothetically help against the identified phenotypes.

Out of over 1,600 such medications already approved by the FDA, sildenafil turned out to be one of the most promising candidates.

That might sound baffling – given the drug is so far used in the main only for treating erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension – in the research community, there were already signs the sildenafil compound might have other kinds of health benefits, given its interactions with the amyloid and tau proteins implicated in Alzheimer’s pathology.

“Recent studies show that the interplay between amyloid and tau is a greater contributor to Alzheimer’s than either by itself,” Cheng says.

“We hypothesized that drugs targeting the molecular network intersection of amyloid and tau endophenotypes should have the greatest potential for success… Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, presented as the best drug candidate.”

The hypothesis appears to be borne out by the health insurance data, with the team finding sildenafil users had a 69 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to non-users – a reduction that was notably stronger than other kinds of medications also investigated in the study, including losartan, metformin, diltiazem, and glimepiride.

Of course, the researchers emphasize that none of this establishes causality, but on that front there may be other promising leads.

In separate experiments studying human brain cells in vitro to explore how sildenafil might confer protection against Alzheimer’s cognitive decline, the researchers observed that neurons treated with the drug showed elevated growth and reduced tau accumulation.

It’s early days, but those effects could well have something to do with the reduced chances of developing Alzheimer’s in the insurance cohort. To that end, it’s important to follow these leads further, the team says.

“We are now planning a mechanistic trial and a phase II randomized clinical trial to test causality and confirm sildenafil’s clinical benefits for Alzheimer’s patients,” Cheng says.

“We also foresee our approach being applied to other neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to accelerate the drug discovery process.”

The findings are reported in Nature Aging.

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Why Are My Joints So Stiff? What Can I Do?

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Why Are My Joints So Stiff? What Can I Do?

You’re Getting Older

As you age, your cartilage — the spongy material that protects the ends of your bones — begins to dry out and stiffen. Your body also makes less synovial fluid, the stuff that acts like oil to keep your joints moving smoothly. The result: Your joints may not move as freely as they used to. It sounds a little crazy, but the best thing you can do is keep on trucking. Synovial fluid requires movement to keep your joints loose. 

It’s Morning


When you’re asleep and still for several hours, the fluid that helps your joints move easily can’t do its job. That’s why you wake up with knees or hands that are stiff and swollen. To make it better, try to move around more during the day.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

A joint is the place where two bones meet. The end of each bone is covered in a layer of rubbery stuff called cartilage. This keeps them from rubbing together. But cartilage can wear away over time or after an injury. When it’s gone, the bones hit one another, and sometimes, tiny pieces break off. The result is a stiff, swollen, painful joint.

Treating Osteoarthritis

Your first move might be to do fewer things that bother the joint in question. Over-the-counter drugs can help with pain and swelling. If they don’t, your doctor might inject stronger treatments directly into problem areas. You can wrap joints to protect them and stop overuse, but this could weaken your muscles, so don’t overdo it. Some people need surgery, but it’s rare. Your doctor will discuss these treatments plus others, such as physical therapy and losing weight, with you.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Your immune system is supposed to protect you from outside germs. Sometimes, it attacks the lining of your joints instead (your doctor will call this the synovium). RA is most likely to affect your wrist or finger joints, but it can show up anywhere in your body. It often causes constant pain and stiffness. Sometimes, it stays in the background and only flares up now and then.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis


Doctors treat RA with medications that slow or stop the disease process. You might hear yours call them DMARDs, which stands for disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. The goal is for you to have no signs of inflammation in your body. Your doctor will refer to this as this remission. Along with drugs, you can also take care of yourself — eat well, rest when you need to but keep moving, and take good care of your joints.


Another Type of Arthritis


OA and RA are the most well-known, but other types also affect your immune system and result in stiff joints:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis: This type mostly affects your spine, but it can make your hips, hands, or feet feel stiff.
  • Gout: The first sign of this build-up of uric acid in your body is often a searing pain in your big toe.
  • Infectious arthritis: It often starts with an infection somewhere else in your body that travels to one big joint, like your hip. Your doctor might call it septic arthritis.  

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

People with psoriasis, or who have family members with it, are most likely to get psoriatic arthritis, which often combines a skin disorder (psoriasis) with joint inflammation (arthritis). Signs include swollen fingers and pitted nails. The joints of your hands, fingers, feet, knees, and other places may feel stiff or throb. The pain might appear only on one side of the body, or it could be symmetrical on both sides.

Treating Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Treatments for PsA can be similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis. The main goal is to lower the swelling and inflammation in your joints. You may take your medication by mouth or through shots or infusions. Some doctors may not be very familiar with PsA. It’s best to find a specialist called a rheumatologist who has experience treating PsA.

A Change in the Weather

Did your grandma say they knew when a storm was coming because their joints ached? They were right. Doctors aren’t sure why, but joint pain seems to get worse when the weather changes. It’s most common when the air pressure (the weather forecaster will call it barometric pressure) falls. That typically happens just before a storm.  


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7 essential amino acids build proteins, protect your brain

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7 essential amino acids build proteins, protect your brain

A new lab study in Science Advances has identified the specific essential amino acids that protect the brain from neurodegeneration. In fact, in the lab mice, they “robustly rescued” the critters from existing cognitive damage.

Research has long known that lack of healthy protein can contribute to age-related loss of mental agility. But you can make sure your diet supports brain health by including foods that deliver specific AAs, the building blocks of protein.

Your amino acid diet plan: Lysine is found in black beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and soy; leucine is in beans, legumes and soy, as well as (low-fat and nonfat) dairy. Phenylalanine is in nuts, fish, beans, soy, poultry and (low-fat and nonfat) diary.

In the lab experiment those three essential AAs were supplemented with other AAs: isoleucine, histidine, valine and tryptophan. They’re found in nuts, peanuts and seeds, whole grains, fish and poultry — and valine is in vegetables and mushrooms. 

One note: A study in lab mice found that isoleucine seems to cause aging of muscles and liver. It’s found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts and seeds. 

So, the best idea is elimination of red meats and full fat cheese and dairy, and moderation for the rest — they’re protein-building foods.

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Lecanemab Effective in Clearing Amyloid in Early Alzheimer’s

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Lecanemab Effective in Clearing Amyloid in Early Alzheimer’s

The monoclonal antibody lecanemab, taken at a bi-weekly dose of 10 mg/kg,  completely cleared amyloid within 18 months in 80% patients with early Alzheimer’s disease (AD), results of a phase 2b study show.

“These data show lecanemab removes plaque quite quickly,” Michael Irizarry, MD, vice president of clinical development for neurology at Eisai, the drug’s manufacturer, told Medscape Medical News.

Lecanemab is a humanized immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) monoclonal antibody that selectively targets amyloid beta (Aβ) protofibrils.

In addition, amyloid clearance appears to correlate with a slowing of cognitive decline, suggesting the drug has an impact on the disease process.

The findings were presented at the 14th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) conference.

14th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) Conference: Late-breaking readout Roundtable 5. Presented November 10, 2021.

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Fast Food Adds Pollution to Your Food

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Fast Food Adds Pollution to Your Food

You should want to walk away from fast foods. (On your 10,000 steps a day, you probably hit 3-plus miles per hour.) A new study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology tested fast food to see if it contained 11 potentially harmful chemicals (phthalates and their replacement plasticizers). The chemicals migrate from packaging into the food and are linked to a long list of serious health problems, including fertility issues, metabolic disruption, and, for kids, learning, attention and behavioral problems.

Overall, the tested samples of hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos and cheese pizza were polluted with 10 of those chemicals. Meats — chicken burritos and cheeseburgers — were the most contaminated. Cheese pizza had the lowest levels of all chemicals that were investigated.

So do yourself and your kids a favor — ditch fast foods pronto and work on limiting the foods you buy that are packaged in plastics. Biomarkers of phthalates exposure are detected in virtually all of the U.S. population. Let’s see how fast you can walk away from them — starting now.

But you can’t do it alone. Write your government representatives. Let them know that although some phthalates are banned from toys and other products, they’re still used in food packaging. Stronger regulations are needed to keep phthalates and replacement plasticizers out of our foods.

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Dr. Lane’s Thoughts XXXXII

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Dr. Lane’s Thoughts XXXXII

1) The dilemma of getting a college degree: You need the degree to get the job – that is understood: some jobs do involve advanced training or understanding of information or skills to be done correctly.  The employer has specific standards that must be met and the college degree is their standard so the employer demands the education to offer the job.

People take out student loans because that is how you afford to go to college (it is even called ‘good debt’).  You leave owing at least $50,000+ for that education. Yet, the jobs offered to you don’t pay enough to live on and repay the loans for the education.  

This is the dilemma of the modern world of employment in the United States.

2) Donald J. Trump explained: 

a) Trump can’t believe that everything he does is not anointed as ‘good’ because he, himself, did it.

b) He can’t believe that people don’t get out of his way to let him do whatever he wants and whenever he wants (which has been his lifestyle his whole life).

c)  that anyone should be allowed to disagree with him.  The media is his ‘enemy’ for telling the truth about him and other politicians for defying him.

d) that knowledge and information should be allowed to exist that disagrees with his gut (which is how he governed in life and as president because he has poor education skills in reading and writing)

 e) that he should take time to contemplate anything (he ‘leads with his gut’ as he has often stated)

f) that laws apply to him, 

g) that people either think he is a loser or can barely stifle the desire to call him that

h) that he represents the worst impulses in men and the Republican Party,

i) that speaking out about him is a sign of strength in his former colleagues (e.g. Liz Cheney)

j) that people who speak out for him and support him indicates a full weak personality that is usually craven and uneducated or pandering for ratings or approval.

3) The “new” Republican Party (GOP) explained:

a) they believe their constituents are too dumb to disagree with them

b) protecting the rich and convincing people that their policies will make them rich enough to be protected by tax laws will be good for this country

c) Protecting the rich who are the prime polluters and destroyers of the climate is good because it works in the short-term.  They also fight regulations that try to protect the environment because that helps these same rich people.

d) Creating fears of any race other than White is important to their party’s identity.

e) Making people see others as their enemy is a good way to win elections

f) Voting against measures that help people is good for the party while simultaneously crowing about those same achievements (if they succeed) as a personal achievement because they know that their constituents won’t look to see how they voted.

g) Money is power so those without money don’t deserve power or even for their voices to be heard

h) The modern GOP hates women unless they are married to rich men or, in business,  simulate the behaviors of avarice more commonly found in men.  The 

i) Republicans routinely vote against measure that help women if they only help women.  The truth is that Women’s ‘Rights = Human Rights.

j) They hate immigrants despite the truth that they are related to immigrants who cam to the US from somewhere else.

k) They pretend that they are the party of fiscal responsibility because it sounds good while demonstrating a lack of fiscal knowledge of any kind.  Just saying “no” to spending for things that protect people, improve the lives of people, or the environment is not showing responsibility; it is a short-term answer to financial responsibility that will become a problem later (the principle of “kicking the can down the road”).

l) That the Republican Party is the ‘party of Lincoln’ when it is as far afield from the standards of Abraham Lincoln as could be possible.  Nothing in the modern GOP aligns with a single principle of the party that Abraham Lincoln was a member of.

4) I want to take a moment to remind all of you that despite all that you read about or hear about:

a) 99% of people are not suffering from a chronic disease like CVD, diabetes, or ESRD

b) 99% of people are not in prison or planning to commit a crime

c) 99% of babies do not have a bad birth or are otherwise damaged during the birth

d) 99% of people do try to get along with each other

e) 99% of people are doing their best not to be racist or behave in a racist way

f) 99% of people are trying to drive well

g) 99% of countries are not planning to go to war with 99% of other countries

h) 99% of people have a roof over their head and food to eat

i) 99% of people are not being raped or sexually molested

j) 99% of marriages are working pretty well

k) 99% of people who want to be employed have a job

l) 99% of people want a safe and clean environment

m) 99% of people are afraid of climate change

n) 99% of people want honest politicians who represent them well

REMEMBER: most people most of the time want things to be good for everyone.  We hear only the bad news because it is unique and is about a small percentage of bad people.

5) Why do people who have strong opinions about issues in politics think that writing or discussing or tweeting their opinions will make one bit of difference to the people they think need to be ‘informed’?  You write and read and watch from sites that you are interested in and not the people who you think need to get their news from your sources – those people intentionally avoid your sources.

To make this clear: you are speaking into a cardboard box with a fake microphone that serves the purpose of you thinking that you are reaching a audience.  It is all make-believe to comfort you and calm you while the people in charge are going about their ‘business as usual’.

Has there ever been a person who stated “I felt the opposite on this issue but when I read (or heard) that opposing viewpoint I was swayed by their words and sense of purpose and changed my mind”.  The only people who have changed their mind about anything in my memory have been the thousands of unvaccinated people who barely survive COVID-19 who ‘wake up’ to how dangerous the virus is and now state that they were wrong about vaccines (but still won’t tell their family and friends to get vaccinated).

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5 Reasons Your Teen Might Be Depressed

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5 Reasons Your Teen Might Be Depressed

Nearly three million American teens, ages 12 to 17, experience depression each year, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report also found that 1 out of 9 teens have had a major depressive episode sometime in the last year. And those rates continue to rise: jumping 11 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Typical depression symptoms include a loss of interest in things that were once pleasurable, extreme sensitivity to things like rejection and failure, sleeping problems and decreased energy levels. When teens are depressed, you may notice their performance in school starting to slip and their overall motivation decline. Experts don’t know exactly what causes depression, but various factors are thought to contribute to the disorder.

We talked to Scott Adams, PhD, Director of Youth Psychology and Quality at the Medical Center of Aurora in Colorado, to find out the most common signs of depression and the reasons that may be behind the mental health condition’s spike.

1. Self-esteem issues
A lot of the teen depression cases that Adams sees are related to low-self esteem. 

Teens who experience bullying, academic problems, body issues like obesity or even those who are questioning their sexuality or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) are at higher risk for depression, says Adams. In fact, one study found that adolescents with low self-esteem between the ages of 12 and 16 were at a higher risk for developing depression later on, up to 20 years down the road. Why? Some researchers think having low-self esteem as a teen makes for less emotionally resilient adults.

2. Health conditions
People who live with long-term diseases like asthma or chronic pain syndromes are at increased risk of depression. Bipolar disorders, personality disorders and anxiety disorders can all coexist with depression, too, says Adams. “If they have a physical disability that sets them apart from other kids their age, that would be a risk factor,” says Adams.

3. Genetics and family problems
If someone in your family has a history of depression or mental illness, your child may be more at risk for inheriting the disease. Studies show that while it’s not always the case, depression can be hereditary. Teens who experience even normal stressful life events, such as divorce, death in the family, dysfunctional family dynamics or exposure to a family member with suicidal thoughts also have an increased risk of depression, says Adams.

4. Social media and unrealistic expectations
Another possible reason for depression in teens is the increasing popularity of social media. “When using social media, they are faced with unrealistic expectations of how they should be and who they should be,” says Adams. Looking at actors, bloggers and other teens all day every day can cause teens to put more pressure on themselves.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains the term “Facebook depression,” as the depression that teens may feel after spending large amounts of time on social networking sites only to feel unaccepted by their online peers. Over half of American teens log on to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter more than once per day, while about 22 percent log on more than 10 times per day. 

5. Lack of sleep
We’re all grumpy if we don’t get enough sleep, but when teens skimp on sleep, they have bigger issues than just a little bit of moodiness. 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens get 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. One study shows teens who go to sleep after midnight are 24 percent more likely to experience depression than teens who go to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier. 

Depression and sleep dysfunction often go hand-in-hand as depression can also cause insomnia or other sleep disorders. And while researchers still aren’t clear as to why poor sleeping habits may lead to depression, a tired teen may have impaired judgment and may have a hard time dealing with regular daily stress.

If your teen is experiencing depression symptoms that interfere with their everyday lives, the first thing you should do is talk to your family doctor or a mental health physician. Here are 5 other ways Adams says you can help your teen if you think they’re depressed.

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Good and Bad Fats: The Ultimate Guide

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Good and Bad Fats: The Ultimate Guide

Remember when any fat was bad fat? When the only difference between a croissant and a Krispy Kreme was snob appeal? Now that (happily) science has found that some fats are good fats, it’s all about avoiding the bad guys. But if sorting out omega-3s from saturated fats makes you want to drown your frustration in a quarter-pounder and fries (a whopping 56 grams of the ickiest stuff), here’s a simple list that rates fats, from the top dog to the don’t-even-think-about-it.

TOP FATS: THE OMEGA-3s

Among the best fats on the planet, omega-3s add years to your life by dramatically reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. They may also stave off arthritis, depression, and some cancers, and might even tame menstrual cramps and postworkout soreness. Looking for clear, soft skin and great hair? Omega-3s do that, too.

Eat these frequently:

  • Fatty fish, such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, and tuna
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts

GOOD FATS: THE MONOS

All monounsaturated fats are kind to your heart because they raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol (the kind that clogs arteries). But virgin olive oil, the MVP of monounsaturates, does more. For starters, it contains micronutrients that are needed for hormone and enzyme production. But olive oil also boasts compounds that may fight breast and colon cancer as well as boost the cancer-fighting power of other foods.

Delicious sources are:

  • Olives
  • Virgin olive oil (be sure it’s virgin; processing destroys nutrients)
  • Canola oil
  • Peanut and other nut oils
  • Nuts
  • Avocados

PRETTY GOOD FATS: THE POLYS

Most polyunsaturated fats are heart-friendly, but, with the exception of omega-3s, they don’t have the star power of other healthy fats. Also, poly fats contain omega-6s, which are healthy unless you get too many of them — and most Americans get up to 25 times more omega-6s than they need. Omega-6s should be eaten more sparingly because they can overwhelm the superstar omega-3s. Overall, try to get most of your polyunsaturated fats from omega-3 sources.

Find them in:

  • Corn, soybean, safflower, canola, sunflower, and cottonseed oils
  • Fatty fish (canned light tuna counts)

LOUSY FATS: THE SATS

Saturated fats are mainly trouble because they raise blood cholesterol to artery-clogging levels. In one study, eating a single slice of carrot cake and drinking a milkshake that were high in sat fat hindered the body’s heart-protective functions. Loading up on saturated fats may also harm brain molecules that help form memories, raising the risk of dementia.

Skimp or skip:

  • Meats, particularly with visible fat
  • Poultry skin, fat, and dark meat
  • Whole-milk dairy foods, including butter, full-fat cheeses, ice cream, sour cream
  • Most hard margarines (those in stick form)
  • Coconut and palm oils
  • Lard and shortening

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT ‘EM: TRANS FATS

These fats are so scary that they’re being banned in some cities, and food manufacturers and restaurants are working fast to find substitutes. Trans fats are formed when liquid oils are zapped with hydrogen, turning them solid (like stick margarine). Processed foods that contain trans fats have nearly eternal shelf life — ironically, that’s why trans fats were invented: to keep food from going bad. But trans fats turned out to boost bad cholesterol, decrease good cholesterol, gum up arteries, and set off inflammation throughout the body, which can trigger a host of problems, from stroke to diabetes.

BYPASS COMPLETELY: (sorry about this)

Though things are changing quickly, be suspicious of any fast or processed food that’s not labeled trans-fat-free (packaged-food labels must now list trans fats), including:

  • All deep-fried foods — chips, French fries, onion rings, donuts, etc.
  • Many fast foods
  • Candy
  • Commercial baked goods — cookies, pies, cakes, rolls, muffins, etc.

Bottom line: Stay away from trans fats the way you’d avoid highways on the day before Thanksgiving. Clog city.

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Get Rid of Belly Fat — Eat and Don’t Stress

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Get Rid of Belly Fat — Eat and Don’t Stress

If you want to banish belly fat, you have to do something fairly counterintuitive: eat.

Yep, that’s right. Don’t starve yourself. Eat. Research shows that dieting too intensely or tracking every morsel too closely creates the perfect conditions for adding belly fat, not subtracting it.

Don’t mess with stress
A new study tracked the tension levels of 121 female dieters for 3 weeks and showed some concerning results. Those who followed a strict low-cal eating plan—consisting of prepackaged meals totaling 1,200 calories a day—experienced a significant rise in their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And that can spell big trouble when it comes to belly management. Cortisol tells your body to store more calories in your midsection, exactly where you don’t want it. On top of that, feeling stressed-out can make sticking with any weight loss plan feel darn near impossible.

Take note of this
Researchers also found that the women who kept super-detailed food diaries felt way more stressed-out than the people who were inclined to wing it. So while it’s good to think about what you’re putting into your mouth, don’t obsess about it. Watch portion sizes, choose healthy foods, be aware of how many times you visit the snack cupboard, but don’t make things too difficult. Here are some additional tension-free ways to target a tubby-free torso:

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