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Make the most of your brain as you age

(BPT) – It is important to remember the health of our most complex organ: our brain. While the brain constantly changes throughout our lives, it’s critical that we take steps to help us stay on top of our game as we age.

Help give your brain a boost in the right direction by implementing these 10 brain-healthy habits.

Get moving

Studies show that being physically active may help reduce some risks to your brain health. It doesn’t matter what activity you do as long as you get your heart pumping for 30 minutes most days.

Eat up

By watching your diet, you may be able to help increase your chances of staying engaged as you age. Try eating a healthy, low solid-fat diet — one that is low in saturated and trans fats — with lots of veggies and fruits.

Know your blood pressure

High blood pressure in midlife can have serious effects on your brain health down the road. If your blood pressure is high, talk to your doctor about how to get it under control.

Drink moderately, if at all

Alcohol may affect older adults differently than it had previously and even make them feel “high” without increasing the amount they drink. This can make you more likely to become confused or have accidents.

Get some shuteye

Poor sleep can not only have serious physical effects but can impact memory and thinking, too. Seven to eight hours of sleep a night may help you keep your brain healthy.

Discover a new talent

When you learn new things, you engage your brain and help reduce some risks to it. Challenge your brain on a regular basis by trying something you haven’t done before.

Stay connected

Regular engagement in social activities may be good for your brain. Stay connected and make it a point to keep in touch with your family and friends.

Talk to your doctor

As you age, changes in brain function, including short-term memory loss, are expected. If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctor at your next appointment.

Mind your meds

A medication that didn’t trigger side effects in the past can cause an abnormal reaction and even change your cognitive function as you age. Talk to your doctor about all of your medications.

Maintain your balance

Regular balancing and strengthening exercises may help reduce your chances of a fall-related head injury. Work to improve your balance and talk to your doctor if you fall.

To learn more about steps that may help keep your brain healthy, visit BrainHealth.gov.

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Debunking the ‘seasonal’ allergy myth and reducing exposure year-round

(BPT) – Seasonal allergens are a popular scapegoat for a multitude of reactions: sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes. During the summer months, pollen – one of the most common allergens – is floating around, even visibly so in some places. Researchers approximate that some 50 million in the U.S. alone believe themselves to be victims of seasonal allergies, and spring to be the season that most affects them.

But the idea that we’re more exposed to allergens during one time of year versus another is something of a myth, as the most common allergens are actually found indoors. Pollen is indeed lowest in wintertime, and this is especially true in colder climates. But we’re exposed to allergens throughout the year, mainly because many of the most common allergens are actually related to indoor villains like dust mites, animal dander and mold.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to reduce your exposure to allergens, including some pretty unique ones, like washing your hair before bed! But the majority of effective measures focus on the circulation and quality of the air around you. While we can’t do much in the short term to improve the quality of the air outside, the most powerful means of tackling our exposure to allergens comes from addressing the air inside, which is up to five times more polluted than the air outside.

To reduce your allergen exposure throughout the year, consider the following steps:

Not all filters are created equally. The “filter triangle”, the amount of air flow a filter allows and how well it traps particles, must be in balance if the device is to do its job properly. If the filter blocks air flow, that will cause problems, as will one that doesn’t catch enough particles. A high efficiency particulate filter will improve the clean air delivery rate, or the amount of air (in cubic feet) stripped of all particles of a given size per minute. Make sure this measurement matches up with the size of the room, and of course take care to switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioning units as often as possible.

Adjust the humidity level indoors, ideally to less than 50 percent, via a humidifier. Dust mites and mold are the most common allergens indoors, and both thrive in humid environments. Dust mites eat the dead skin cells that we shed, and when the environment is damp, those softened skin cells provide a feast. To reduce dust mites, and the conditions in which they’re most comfortable, it is important to keep humidity levels below 50 percent, according to the AAAAI. The good news is that once an effective humidifier is up and running, most dust mite populations will disappear within a few days.

Purchase an air purifier. Air purifiers help improve the quality of air flow in the rooms of your home by filtering out pollutants, allergens and irritants like cigarette smoke. A purifier like the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System, which uses state-of-the-art technology to effectively remove 99.99 percent of particles as small as 0.007 microns as they pass through the unit, lessens exposure to these pollutants, allergens and irritants.

Consider your car. Allergens can enter through your car windows and sunroof, so roll everything up and set the vent setting to recirculate as often as possible. Allergens can also accumulate in your car’s air filters over time, so be sure to have them switched out frequently. Vacuum the seats and any other upholstered surface regularly, as dust mites can settle into the fabric. Be sure to clean up any spills quickly and thoroughly to prevent the accumulation of mold as well.

While it’s nearly impossible to completely rid the environment of pollutants, allergens and irritants, taking proactive, preventative measures can significantly reduce your exposure to common culprits like dust mites, pet dander and mold. Arm yourself with quality filters, the Atmosphere Sky Air Treatment System and a clean car to reduce your exposure to allergens year-round. After all, quality of air is quality of life.

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Every single person needs this essential nutrient. Are you getting enough?

(BPT) – We’ve all heard the saying “knowledge is power.” When it comes to good health, most people recognize the important role nutrition plays in a healthy lifestyle. However, according to a recent study by the Global Nutrition and Health Alliance (GNHA), despite efforts to eat a balanced diet, 98 percent of people do not get enough omega-3 (O3) to reach the optimal range. People should take action to ensure they are consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and help support brain, joint and eye health.

This National Health Education Week (Oct. 16–20, 2017), empower yourself with practical tips and knowledge to help ensure you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

1. Get to know the basics

Every human has a basic nutritional need for omega-3 fatty acids. Considered “essential” because the body needs them to function but can’t create them on its own, O3 must come from dietary sources. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA), have been associated with overall heart health and improving eye, brain and joint performance as we age. You can find out your O3 levels with the Omega-3 Index test.

2. Eat right

A growing number of expert bodies and health professionals recommend up to 1,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day. Since our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids naturally, you can increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient by eating at least two fatty fish meals per week, as well as fortified food and beverages, such as milk and eggs. Sources of fatty fish include coldwater fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.

3. Bridge the gap

In reality, diet alone may not be enough. Study findings show that 82 percent of people believed they didn’t need to take a supplement to have a balanced diet, yet almost none of them had an O3 level in the optimal range. Whether it’s due to limited access to fresh, quality foods or dietary preferences, if you are like many others who do not consume significant amounts of fish on a regular basis, O3 supplements may be the key to ensuring optimal nutrition.

The GNHA is a group of doctors, scientists, dietitians and health and medical experts focused on educating consumers and health care professionals about optimal nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about the GNHA study findings, visit http://www.globalnutritionhealth.org/.

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Organic is always non-GMO, but is non-GMO organic?

(BPT) – If you’re a parent, you’ve probably come across ongoing debates regarding the term “organic” and what should go into your child’s body. But, what about organic versus non-GMO? A recent study from Perrigo Nutritionals revealed that more than half of moms didn’t know that organic is inherently non-GMO.

So, what’s the real difference? Organic is always non-GMO, but, unlike non-GMO, products labeled organic also guarantee:

* No use of toxic pesticides or chemical/synthetic fertilizers.

* No use of antibiotics or synthetic hormones, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

* Support for organic farming practices and animal health and welfare.

* Regulated by the federal government under the USDA.

“It’s important to understand the difference between these labels so you can make the right nutritional decisions for you family,” says Jessica Turner, best-selling author and founder of the Mom Creative blog.

Looking beyond the non-GMO label doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, especially since purchasing all organic can add up. As a mother of three, Turner believes the following products are worth the extra splurge for organic instead of just non-GMO for your child.

Baby food

As a child starts eating solids, many organizations recommend going organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen,” such as apples, bell peppers, peaches, etc., to avoid pesticides. Purchasing baby food? Make sure you look for the USDA Certified Organic label, not just a non-GMO certified label, to avoid all those chemicals.

Milk

Milk is a nutrient powerhouse when it comes to your child’s nutrition with vitamin D, calcium and protein, but it can sometimes contain not-so-good ingredients. Organic milk brands have no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMO anything. Going organic also supports a better life for the cows since they have access to pastures.

Infant formula

The Perrigo Nutritionals study said 43 percent of moms purchased organic foods for their babies when they started eating solids, but only 10 percent purchased organic infant formula. So why not choose organic for your baby from the very beginning? Choosing organic brands may be worth the extra investment since it will ensure you are avoiding pesticides and hormones.

Skin care

Skin care products, like lotion, diaper cream, shampoo and soap, are being absorbed into a baby’s bloodstream. Since their skin is more porous than adults’ skin, products from organic/natural lines may be worth the extra splurge to ensure your child is being exposed to the fewest chemicals.

At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, err on the side of buying organic since organic is always non-GMO, plus more. For more information on organic versus non-GMO, visit www.choose-organic.com.

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Running with Purpose: Athlete Hits Her Stride, Despite a Surprising Asthma Diagnosis

(BPT) – With temperatures becoming more comfortable, there’s a good chance Brooke Curran is logging miles on a run through her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. Though her training often requires her to run dozens of miles each time she laces up, Curran wasn’t always a serious runner. In her mid-twenties, she was a stay-at-home mom with three young kids. She took up running then as a way to get out of the house and steal a few moments for herself each day.

“Even if it was just a few miles a couple times a week, it gave me such a sense of accomplishment,” said Curran.

Following the shock of September 11, 2001, she decided it was time to get serious about checking items off her bucket list, and right at the top was running a marathon.

During one of her marathon training runs, Curran experienced shortness of breath and a painful burning in her chest. Having always considered herself pretty fit, she was concerned about the onset of these new symptoms and immediately made an appointment to see her respiratory specialist. He diagnosed her with asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB).

“People often think EIB and asthma are just the same thing. But even though the symptoms are similar, asthma and EIB are actually very different conditions,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist and immunologist and national spokesperson for the Allergy and Asthma Network. “As runners begin to lace up their sneakers and get outdoors this time of the year, it’s important to know the difference. EIB symptoms are temporary and can be triggered by aerobic activity – like running – while asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the large and small airways of the lungs. Many people with asthma also have EIB.”

Though surprised by her diagnosis, Curran’s doctor reassured her that EIB is a treatable condition. After discussing her symptoms, Curran’s doctor prescribed an inhaler with a dose counter so that she could keep track of how much medication she had left. To prevent EIB symptoms, Curran uses her inhaler 15 to 30 minutes prior to each workout or race, as directed by her doctor.

Since then, EIB hasn’t stopped Curran from hitting her stride. Around the time of her diagnosis, she decided she wanted to unite two of her greatest passions – running and her local community – and launched the RunningBrooke Foundation. Since 2009, Curran has run over 100 marathons, including at least one on every continent – including Antarctica – and at least one in every state, to raise money for her foundation. To date, she has raised more than $1 million for at-risk and underserved kids in Alexandria.

And Curran has no plan of slowing down, now that she is able to manage her EIB symptoms.

“As I travel the world to compete, it’s crucial that I know how many doses remain in my inhaler and if I need to refill before I hit the road for my next run,” said Curran. “Thanks to my dose counter, I can keep track of the medicine that helps me keep running for the kids who need it most.”

To learn more about the RunningBrooke Foundation, visit RunningBrooke.org. For additional information on the importance of dose counters, visit KnowYourCount.com.

Ms. Curran has been compensated for her time in contributing to this program.

July 2017

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Don’t let the flu bug you this year

(BPT) – Flu season is upon us, and many healthcare facilities are urging you to start preparing now with vaccines. Ironically, one of the places where you need to be careful is at the doctor’s office or healthcare clinic.

The number of people in and out of clinics this time of year increases the chance that someone will leave behind a harmful pathogen. Being in close proximity with people who may already have the flu can put you and your family at risk. You can reduce this risk by following some simple instructions from healthcare cleaning experts.

“Healthcare-acquired infections can be a threat to everyone, especially the elderly and young children,” said Steve Zimmerman, director of healthcare services for ServiceMaster Clean, one of the nation’s leading cleaning and janitorial service providers. “Most facilities do a good job of sanitizing their waiting areas, but sick people can spread their illnesses through the touch of a door, magazine or pen — leaving you vulnerable to pick up germs you can’t see.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 9 million to 35 million people will get the flu each year, 140,000 to 710,000 will be hospitalized because of it, and 12,000 to 56,000 will die from the illness. The CDC recommends a vaccination each year for those six months of age and older.

While the vaccine may help protect you from the flu, cleaning experts urge everyone to avoid high-touch areas as much as possible.

What are high-touch areas? In a healthcare setting, Zimmerman defines high-touch surfaces as anything that multiple people will likely touch during their visit. Some high-touch surfaces are hard to avoid, such as door handles and chair armrests. That’s why it’s wise to wash hands often and use hand sanitizer when necessary. But there are other high-touch areas you can avoid, such as:

* Magazines. These are nearly impossible to disinfect once they have been contaminated. Don’t pick them up while you’re waiting.

* Toys. Bring your own toys to help prevent your child from picking up an illness from another child.

* Restrooms. They can harbor lots of pathogens unless cleaned often. If you must go, limit touching surfaces in the restroom, wash your hands thoroughly and use hand sanitizer if it’s available.

* Ink pens. Think about how many hands touch the ink pens in facilities — whether signing in or filling out paperwork, bring your own and eliminate the possibility of sharing germs.

* Coffee urns. For many Americans, coffee is a must. If you pick up a coffee pot or stop in your favorite coffee shop, take hand sanitizer with you and use immediately after you pour a cup.

Zimmerman also points out that if you schedule visits for the early morning, you are less likely to contract the germs that typically accumulate, since cleaning crews often perform a deep clean at the end of each day.

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Metastatic breast cancer patients tell their stories through art and photography


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(BPT) – This post is brought to you by Eisai Inc.

When most people think of breast cancer, they think of the pink movement, and often times, “beating” the cancer. A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer (MBC), a late stage of the disease in which the cancer has spread beyond the breast, is different. There is no cure and, until recently, the number of people living with MBC in the United States was basically unknown. A new study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates more than 150,000 people are living with metastatic breast cancer.

Although the MBC population is larger than ever before, an estimated 17 percent increase from 2000 to 2010, the implication is positive as it means people are living longer in spite of their diagnosis and sheds light on the increased need for more services and research focused on MBC.

The NCI study brings attention to a growing community of people with MBC whose meaningful lives and stories are largely unheard. To give voice to those living with MBC and bring to life the reality of living with MBC, #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was created by METAvivor, an organization dedicated to funding research focused on the metastatic breast cancer, in partnership with Eisai Inc. #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project uses art to empower people with MBC to share their experiences, educate others about this disease and encourage donations for more MBC research.

“The metastatic community really wants to be involved in research. The more people we can educate about metastatic disease, the more money we can raise for research that will ultimately help us to live longer and better-quality lives,” said Leslie Falduto, who lives with metastatic breast cancer and participated in the project. “Participating in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project was a very powerful moment for me. I felt confident. I felt like art. I felt good about what I was doing for my community and I felt good about myself.”

The 16 people living with MBC chosen to participate in #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project tell their stories through the powerful and artful combination of body painting and underwater photography. Created by Ren and Keith Dixon, a married couple who have both lost loved ones to metastatic breast cancer, the storytelling begins in an interview with Ren Dixon, the body painting artist. After discussing their MBC experience, Ren visually represents each person’s experiences through the use of vivid color and symbols painted directly on their body. Next, Keith Dixon captures the mood and emotion of the patient’s personal journey through underwater photography.

“It is important for women and men to see that you can live a life, a fruitful and loving life, with metastatic breast cancer,” said project participant Sheila McGlown. “I think #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project brought out the boldness in me. It allowed me to express myself and my life experiences in a way I never thought I would be able to and it made me proud — proud of being a voice for young women, proud of being a voice for African-American women, proud of being a voice for veterans and proud of being a voice for the breast cancer community.”

From July 2017 to October 2018, one patient a month will be showcased, through images and video from the photoshoot, on MBCinfocenter.com and METAvivor’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts (@metavivor). The images will also be featured at an art gallery reception in New York City and made into a calendar. These calendars are available for free with a donation to METAvivor, which can be made at www.metavivor.org/store/. Donations will go to METAvivor to support research specifically for metastatic breast cancer.

A fundamental component of #ThisIsMBC Serenity Project is the belief that women and men with MBC should live their lives as fully as possible and take advantage of all resources available to them. Many educational resources and helpful information about metastatic breast cancer exists at MBCinfocenter.com. To support METAvivor’s ongoing commitment to funding MBC research, which could help those living with this disease, consider making a contribution at https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/thisismbc.

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The simple plan that can keep your cholesterol in check

(BPT) – For legendary TV personality and Emmy-award winner Regis Philbin, everything changed on a seemingly ordinary day back in 1992. While in Miami shooting a television commercial, the popular host — who usually plowed forward with his various commitments as though nothing could stop him — experienced something that day that almost did.

“All of a sudden, I was getting pains in my chest,” he recalls. “I thought maybe I was getting sick. I couldn’t believe it but they took me to a local Miami hospital and the doctors there discovered I had a blocked artery. My wife Joy flew down to join me and I had to have an angioplasty.”

The process was a success and Philbin continued on with his busy lifestyle. But 15 years later, his heart health problems returned. “I found out in 2007 that I had to have triple bypass surgery,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t sleep the night before. At 6 a.m. they rolled me into the operating room. I was there at the hospital for the next week, walking up and down the hallways.”

Helping to protect heart health

High cholesterol affects over 100 million Americans and is a major risk factor for heart disease — the number one cause of death in America. Philbin now aims to be a success story, not a statistic.

It has been 10 years since Philbin’s triple bypass surgery, and since then he has been working diligently to ensure he makes it another 10 or more without a heart episode. Today, Philbin works to protect his heart health and keep his cholesterol in check with a simple and effective plan — he monitors his diet strictly, mostly choosing chicken and fish over beef, and follows a strict treatment regimen that includes the right statin medication for him.

“I know every day my statin is working to control my cholesterol,” he said.

Lipid expert Dr. Eliot Brinton, M.D., president of the Utah Lipid Center and Fellow of the Fellow of the American Heart Association and National Lipid Association, knows how important statin medication can be in helping patients lower their cholesterol. “For most patients with high LDL cholesterol, a statin is a must. Statins are usually easy to take and lower cholesterol very effectively,” said Dr. Brinton.

“Yet, according to a new survey of patients with high cholesterol, more than half of former statin users say they abandoned their statin because of side effects, and about a third say they stopped taking their statin without first discussing it with their doctor. It’s important to know that there are several statins, some of which are less likely to interact with other medications, but still lower cholesterol very well. If you’re not happy with the statin you’re currently taking, please, talk to your doctor to see if another statin may work better for you.”

Philbin agrees. When he first started taking a statin, he experienced muscle pain. He spoke with his doctor and switched to the statin that he is now taking, which worked for him. “Most people don’t know there are multiple statin medications, and that they can work with their doctors to identify the one that is most appropriate for them,” he said.

Take Cholesterol to Heart

Statins have been proven to help reduce cholesterol levels, yet 50 percent of people who are prescribed a statin stop taking their medication within one year of starting it. In many cases, patients don’t understand the consequences of stopping their statin.

Philbin wants to change that.

To help patients make better, more informed treatment decisions, Regis and Joy, his wife of more than 35 years, joined Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation on the new Take Cholesterol to Heart initiative. The campaign encourages patients to speak frankly to their doctors about any challenges with their current statin therapy, and to partner to find another statin that works for them.

“We want to inspire people to talk to their doctor through this Take Cholesterol to Heart initiative,” said Joy Philbin. “People with cholesterol or heart issues shouldn’t think they are limited to just one treatment option. They can work with their doctor to find a statin medication that works for them.”

To learn more about statin medications for high cholesterol and how to support your own health, visit www.TakeCholesteroltoHeart.com. You’ll find helpful tips for speaking with your doctor to establish the right statin for you. You can also learn more about your personal cholesterol medication considerations and access a cholesterol 101 management guide, a medication reminder checklist, and additional results of the recent cholesterol survey. Any or all of these resources can help you build a foundation for your cholesterol treatment. Because, as Philbin says, establishing and sticking to the right treatment plan for you can truly make all the difference.

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Open talk about open enrollment


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(BPT) – Where does open enrollment — the yearly act of enrolling in employer-provided insurance benefits — fall among other annual must-dos? And how do people feel about the process overall?

The third annual “Open Talk about Open Enrollment” poll took a pulse of the nation’s feelings about just that, with surprising results. Read on for the findings:

* Completing open enrollment beats attending a karaoke birthday party. Respondents were asked about a list of activities they would choose to never do again. In this case, most preferred the yearly ritual to activities such as karaoke birthday parties and watching the same cartoon over and over to appease a toddler.

Similarly, when asked to rank (in order of preference) a list of annual to-dos, including open enrollment, the majority said they’d much rather complete the annual ritual over budgeting for the holidays, spring cleaning and raking fall leaves.

* Many would spend 30 spare minutes completing open enrollment. When asked about their preferences on how they would prioritize 30 minutes during their day, the majority of respondents said that they’d spend that time completing open enrollment above all other options, including getting an oil change or a manicure, waiting in line at a coffee house and fitting in a cycling class.

* Age might actually matter. When asked about how they react when receiving open enrollment announcements, those over the age of 45 are more likely to download or set information aside to review with their spouse, compared to their younger counterparts. Ten percent of those under 45 are more likely to talk about benefit selections with their coworkers, compared to only 5 percent of those over age 45.

* Not all are aware of what vision insurance benefits are available when they retire. Just 21 percent of respondents are aware that their employer offers post-retirement vision insurance benefits. However, of those, 82 percent are likely to enroll. On the contrary, if an employer does not offer post-retirement vision insurance, nearly two-thirds either don’t plan or don’t yet know if they will obtain these benefits elsewhere, through VSP or otherwise.

As the only national not-for-profit vision care and coverage company, VSP strongly advocates access to eye care and eyewear for everyone. Vision insurance is typically one of the easiest, quickest and least expensive benefit options to review and select.

Your eye health and overall wellness are too important to dismiss, so check the vision care box. If you have the benefit option, take it. Learn more at www.SeeMuchMore.com.

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Feeling stressed? Have some salt

(BPT) – Stress. No one wants it, but we all experience it from time to time. Higher levels of stress can cause problems at work and at home. But stress is not just hard on your mental well-being; it is also hard on your body and can lead to many negative health outcomes.

Stress levels can also increase significantly when economic times are tough. In England, the British Health and Social Care Information Centre found that stress had increased by 47 percent during that country’s recession and that stress was the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, affecting 20 percent of the population. Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, an expert on stress, was alarmed and told The Independent, “I have never seen figures like this before. Stress is a trigger mechanism for a whole range of conditions, from heart attacks to immune system disorders, mental illness and depression and anxiety.”

Everyone is familiar with comfort foods, but the key comfort foods that have been shown to actually reduce stress all contain salt. Stress is characterized in the human body by high levels of the hormone cortisol, referred to as the “stress hormone.” Scientific research has shown, in animals and in humans, that increased levels of salt consumption are effective in reducing levels of cortisol.

Research from the University of Haifa, published in the science journal Appetite, confirmed the relationship between salt and stress in humans. Researchers found an inverse correlation between salt and depression/stress, especially in women. Craving salty foods may very well be a biological defense mechanism we evolved to cope with daily stress.

The researchers reviewed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) using 10,000 individuals and demonstrated that depression and stress were higher in individuals who consumed less salt, a trend more prevalent in women than men. They noted that the relationship of higher depression with lower salt intake in humans was consistent with the results of other animal studies. They also found that young people, up to the age of 19, selectively choose foods that are higher in salt, indicating a natural feedback mechanism driving them to consume higher salt foods and rewarding them with more vigorous growth.

Other good stress-relieving tips include getting a good night’s sleep and taking time off to focus on relaxation and regular exercise, which has added health benefits. Of course, with exercise, another benefit of salt becomes apparent, as this vital nutrient is necessary to remain properly hydrated and healthy. When you sweat, you lose not just water but also electrolytes (including sodium) which need to be replenished.

The fact remains that whether they are called comfort foods or mood stabilizers, research indicates salty foods are effective at making us feel better and reducing our heightened stress levels, a common condition in today’s ever-changing world. So, the next time you finish a stressful day and want to wind down and relax, don’t be surprised if you instinctively reach for a salty snack.

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