Tuesday, November 29, 2016

9 Health Editors Share How They Practice Self Care

Between long hours at work, weekend chores, dinner plans with friends, and time for your family, your calendar is overflowing. But can you remember the last time you took an hour, maybe even two, for yourself? If you had to think longer than a few seconds, you may want to consider taking a step back and reevaluating your schedule. Prioritizing everyone else in your life may seem honorable, but the reality is, totally neglecting yourself isn’t good for anyone. In order to take care of others, you first need to take care of yourself. (It’s kind of like the safety messages on airplanes: “In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.”) So whether you’re facing a rough patch or simply going through the day-to-day grind, self-care should always be on your agenda. Need some inspiration on how to spend your me-time? Here are some self-care practices the editors at Health swear by.

RELATED: 5 Powerful Mantras to Help You Quiet Anxiety, Beat Self-Doubt, Manage Stress, and More

Sweat it out

"It’s the answer you always hear, but making time every day to exercise is my form of self-care. I’m a firm believer in that saying, ‘You’re only one workout away from a good mood.’ In particular, boxing is a huge physical and mental release for me, and barre classes take me back to my ballet days, which feels especially therapeutic. My other self-care move is curling up in my giant fuzzy blanket and watching Sex and the City reruns. It’s mindless and relaxing and just feels great sometimes." —Jacqueline Andriakos, associate editor

Tune in to YouTube

"When I’m feeling down, I typically turn to my favorite form of escapism: YouTube videos. Having a moment when I can just veg out, slap on a calming sheet mask, and watch a video by one of my favorite YouTubers (looking at you, Estée Lalonde and SoothingSista), allows me to momentarily get out of my own head. It might sound silly, but just like reading a good book, watching a good YouTube video takes me out of my own world and into someone else’s, even if just for 10 minutes. It’s enough time for me to put my thoughts and feelings into perspective and luckily, if I need more than 10 minutes of down time, there’s a whole YouTube world out there waiting for me to enjoy.”—Julia Naftulin, editorial assistant

RELATED: 8 Relaxing Gift Ideas for a Friend Who’s Stressed to the Max

Create a relaxing routine

“I’ve recently started a new nighttime self-care routine that I think has been helping me de-stress and fall asleep a little more easily. Step 1: Turn off the TV around 10 p.m. and force myself to stop refreshing my Facebook feed. Step 2: Make a cup of chamomile tea. Step 3: Turn off all lights in my bedroom, light a few candles, and set up my yoga mat. Step 4: Do the “Bedtime Yoga” sequence from Yoga by Adriene. It’s a 36-minute gentle yoga routine that includes moves to help you unwind and relax muscles, plus a short meditation to set your intentions for the following day." —Kathleen Mulpeeter, senior editor

Grab some knitting needles

"Lately I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. At first it was for practical reasons (I’m making my husband a scarf for Christmas), but I’ve found it has emotional benefits too. The repetitive motion is super soothing, almost meditative—it’s a great before-bed wind-down activity. I’m just bad enough a knitter that I have to concentrate a little on what I’m doing—I can’t knit on autopilot—so it’s very absorbing. I can be sitting on the couch or at the sidelines during my kids’ sports activities and find that 30 minutes has gone by without my even noticing. There’s the satisfaction of having something real and tactile to show for my time. Best of all, it keeps both hands busy so I stay off my phone!" —Jeannie Kim, executive deputy editor

"A few years ago I was going through a rough period in my life and I decided to take up knitting at night when I was having a hard time sleeping. My aunt had taught me the basic stitch when I was a teenager, so I went to my local Michael’s store and bought a bright chunky ball of yarn and got started. Since then, I’ve knit scarves for everyone I love, and this winter I’m planning on paying it forward with a knitting circle making scarves for homeless people in NYC." —MaryAnn Barone, social media editor

RELATED: A Meditation for Dealing With Conflict

Escape with Friends

"There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, lighting some great smelling candles, having a cup of tea and reading a good book in my bed. If I’m not in the mood to focus on a book, I’ll instead put on Friends or some other happy, funny TV show in the background and play games on my iPad. I could do that for days." —Chelsey Hamilton, editorial assistant

Pound the pavement

"If I can, I head out for a run. Especially in the cold weather, a run is very meditative for me—hearing each foot strike and a steady breath can be extremely grounding. And as someone who can’t sit still, classic meditation/breathing exercises do almost nothing for me to relax. Running is also a huge confidence boost—I feel powerful and in control of my body and mind. In training for races, I’ve forgotten how much a run can absolutely turn around my perspective. When you’re going out for a predetermined amount of miles, at a certain pace, on already tired legs, it can feel like such a chore. But last week, when I was feeling stressed and antsy, I decided to head out the door and run for however long I felt like. I came back feeling relaxed and re-centered." —Alison Mango, editorial producer

Pick up a good read

"I know it sounds cliché, but getting lost in a book is my favorite form of self-care. With a two-year-old at home, I don’t have that much time to read. But I sneak in 10 minutes here and there—on the bus, while my son naps, before bed. Right now I’m halfway through Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, and it is exactly the escape I need." —Catherine Di Benedetto, features director

RELATED: 7 Health Truths We Wish We Knew In Our 20s

Laugh at what you know

"For me, self-care is curling up on the couch and watching a TV show that makes me laugh. When I’m feeling stressed, my go-tos are reruns of Seinfeld, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and The Office—I’ve seen all the episodes more times than I can count, but that’s the beauty of it. Watching them helps shut off the negative part of my brain for a while." —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to Stop Feeling Guilty About Everything

Constantly feeling guilty gnaws at your emotional well-being and causes negativity to snowball. “It can make you feel defeated, anxious, or even depressed,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And we often beat ourselves up for no good reason, she adds: “Most of the time, we manufacture guilt in our minds simply because of the ridiculous expectations we set for ourselves.” Yank yourself out of the spiral with this three-week plan to being your own best friend. 

Week 1: ID your guilt triggers

“If you can learn to pause and recognize when you feel guilt coming on, you’re halfway toward fixing the problem,” says Whitbourne. So right off the bat, get to the bottom of what makes you feel the most remorse. 

Pay attention: Notice any moments you feel guilty, as well as what prompted the pangs (you missed a deadline, you spent a lot of money). It may help to take some notes, either on paper or in your smartphone. 

Check the frequency: Did you get ticked at yourself each time you bought a $15 lunch this week? Do you lie in bed every night wishing you’d been more patient with your kids? Track how often specific subjects leave you regretful. 

Group the majors and minors: At the end of the week, pinpoint the issues that incited guilt more than once or weighed on you more heavily than others. (You’ll deal with the lesser regrets in week three.) 

RELATED: 5 Reasons You Always Feel Guilty (and How to Stop Being So Hard on Yourself) 

Week 2: Change your perspective

“You don’t want to try to just be ‘over’ a guilt that’s coming up a lot for you,” says Whitbourne. “Pull it out, look at it and come up with some alternative interpretations.”

Envision a redo: Think (or even talk out loud) about what you wish you were doing differently—maybe you want to have a better attitude at work, or you think you should reel in your spending by creating a budget. “It doesn’t mean you have to go out and make some drastic change right this minute, but you’re talking about it, and that’s productive,” says Susie Moore, a life coach in New York City and the author of What If It Does Work Out?

Pick a different emotion: “Guilt and sadness and anxiety are all on a continuum in a way,” says Whitbourne. “And when we’re stressed, it’s easy to be self-critical.” Try asking, “Wait, does it really make sense to be feeling guilty at this moment? Or am I letting stress get to me?” 

Realize you’re human: "Perfectionism is often what drives guilt,” says Whitbourne. “At some point, you have to just accept your limitations.” Moore adds that it can even help to tell yourself, “No mom or wife or employee is doing everything flawlessly.”

RELATED: This Is What the Scary Side of Perfectionism Looks Like

Week 3: Shake off the small stuff

“To say you will never feel guilty again about something silly would be ridiculous,” says Whitbourne. “But it’s important to recognize when you may be blowing things out of proportion.” Practice short-circuiting your regret when it’s truly unnecessary. 

Reframe a fail: Look at it with a practical eye. Instead of “I shouldn’t have left the office early today with my current workload,” tell yourself, “I needed to cut out in order to attend this doctor’s appointment that was long overdue." 

Laugh it off: "Humor is one of the greatest antidotes to guilt," says Whitbourne. Poke fun at yourself: You ran out of time to bake and brought a store-bought dessert to the holiday party? How dare you even show up! 

Find a silver lining: Let’s say you’re upset because you slapped together your gift wrapping this year. "Well, you also didn’t go to the department store and have them wrap it for you,” says Whitbourne. “You’re showing the person that you love them enough to put in the effort.”

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The Lung Cancer Symptoms You Need to Know, Even If You've Never Smoked

Ashley Rivas was 26 when she noticed she was getting tired earlier than usual on her runs. Over the next few years, the X-ray technician from Albuquerque, New Mexico, developed a persistent cough and wheezing, which her doctors attributed to exercise-induced asthma. She had other symptoms, too: weight loss, fever, and several bouts of pneumonia. Still, when Rivas finally decided to perform a chest X-ray on herself, cancer was the last thing on her mind. 

The image revealed a mass on her right lung that turned out to be a malignant tumor. Rivas was 32 and had never smoked a cigarette in her life. "I want people to know lung cancer can happen to anyone,“ she says.

Rivas has joined the American Lung Association's Lung Force campaign, to spread the word that her disease isn’t just a smoker’s affliction. "It’s true that the majority of people with lung cancer have some history of tobacco use,” says ALA spokesperson Andrea McKee, MD, the chair of radiation oncology at Lahey Hospital Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. “Having said that, 15% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer have no history of tobacco use—and they may be quite young.”

Other known risk factors aside from smoking include a family history of the disease, as well as exposure to certain air pollutants, such as asbestos, arsenic, radon, even diesel fumes, says Dr. McKee. Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide; and each year, it kills more women than breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer combined. 

RELATED: 25 Breast Cancer Myths Busted

If it’s diagnosed early, the disease is actually highly curable, Dr. McKee says. Luckily this was the case for Rivas. She had her tumor removed in 2013, and is now thriving. (She ran a half-marathon last year!)

But only about 16% of cases are caught at stage 1. “Usually it’s like a 7- to 8-millimeter nodule sitting in the middle of a lung that doesn’t have any symptoms associated with it,” says Dr. McKee. Most patients are diagnosed later, once the tumor has grown large enough that it’s “pushing on an airway, resulting in some breathing problems,” she explains.

That’s what Marlo Palacio experienced just before the holidays in 2013, when she developed a cough unlike any cough she’d ever had before. “I would feel like I was out of breath or gagging,” she says. At first, the social worker from Pasadena, California, assumed she’d picked up a bug from her toddler son. But six weeks later, the cough hadn’t gone away. Doctors diagnosed Palacio—an otherwise healthy, 39-year-old non-smoker—with stage 4 lung cancer. 

At stage 4, lung symptoms like Palacio had (and others such as pneumonia and coughing up blood) may be accompanied by problems elsewhere in the body, such as back pain, bone pain, headaches, weight loss, and confusion, says Dr. McKee. That’s because “once the disease has spread, [it’s] usually having an effect on a system outside of the lungs,” she explains.

After several different treatments, Palacio developed a new, isolated tumor in September. But she says she is doing well, physically and emotionally. "I’m feeling pretty positive that this will be something that we can just eliminate and maintain,“ she says. "I just accept that this is a lifelong fight for maintenance, and keeping my cancer down.”

RELATED: 6 Cancer-Fighting Superfoods

Dr. McKee is hopeful that rising awareness of lung cancer, and advances in screening will mean fewer late-stage diagnoses in the future—because catching the disease early can make all the difference

Frida Orozco knows that fact first-hand. She was diagnosed with stage 2 in her late twenties, a few months after she developed a dry cough. "I started to feel a pain every time I coughed on the lower side of my ribs, and also on the left side of my chest, near the clavicle,“ she says. When Orozco came down with a fever, headaches, and dizziness, she went to an urgent care facility; a chest X-ray revealed the mass in her lung. 

But today, the 30-year-old student at Borough of Manhattan Community College happily reports she has been in remission for a year and a half. "You can’t even tell I’ve been through all of this,” she says, “except for the scars.”

RELATED: 15 Thyroid Cancer Facts Everyone Should Know

So when should you get a lingering cough checked out? “To be safe, I would say that any cough that you’re concerned about that’s persisting beyond a few weeks, you should talk with your doctor,” says Dr. McKee. “A cough shouldn’t linger beyond two or three weeks.”

If you suspect something is not right with your health, follow up, urges Rivas. “You know your body better than anybody,” she says. “Push, because you’re probably right. My pulmonologist told me that if I hadn’t caught [my cancer] when I did, I would’ve died. And it was because of my persistence. I knew something was wrong, I kept pushing.”

To learn more lung cancer, check out the ALA’s Lung Force campaign.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Easy Things You Can Do Tonight For a Healthier Tomorrow

Whether you feel like you fell off the horse throughout today or you’re motivated and ready to make tomorrow a day that your body will thank you for, there’s a lot of small things that you can do right now to gear up. The key to staying on track is not so much about mental toughness or strictness and more about planning ahead and being prepared. Knock out these small tasks tonight and you’ll be on the path for a better tomorrow.

Pack a Lunch

Not only is this sure to save you money, you’ll most likely save big on calories, too. Whip up a stir fry or a grain bowl that you can reheat, or pack a hearty salad (greens on top so they don’t get soggy!) with a light homemade vinaigrette. Other great options would be an egg salad or turkey sandwich on your favorite whole wheat bread with an apple or yogurt on the side.

Have a Cup of Tea

Skip a heavy dessert and any late night eating, and wind down your day with a hot, cozy cup of (ideally decaffeinated) tea. Doctor it up with a little honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, a splash of milk, or squeeze of lemon juice. You could even make your own Chai tea mix. Not only is this a great beverage for your immune system, but it’s the perfect hydrating drink before bedtime.

Portion Out Snacks

Remember, being prepared is the name of the game, so don’t wait until the last minute to realize that you’re starving and need something ASAP. That’s usually when you’re most likely to fall off track. Keep a bag of almonds, a piece of fruit, homemade energy bars, whole wheat crackers, or a bag of carrots on hand in case you come down with a bad case of the munchies.

Get Breakfast Ready

Whether it’s hard-boiling some eggs, making muffins, prepping a bowl of overnight oats, or lining up mini egg breakfast cups, take some time to make sure that you’ll have a well-balanced breakfast that you can fit into your morning routine. Extra bonus points if it’s a breakfast you’re looking forward to. Nothing adds a little extra motivation to get out of bed than a yummy breakfast waiting for you.

Eat a Balanced Dinner, and Eat it Slowly

Just because you may feel like you’ve eaten unhealthily or consumed too many calories today, skipping your last meal doesn’t necessarily reconcile this. Instead, eat a well-rounded meal with a lean protein, some healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables. Eat it nice and slowly to create a feeling of satiation. This way, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning feeling fueled and ready to go.

Drink a Glass of Water

This one almost requires no justification. A hydrated body is a happy one, and as a bonus, one extra glass of water before bed time can be great for your skin.

Start a Food Journal

Writing down what you’ve eaten that day is a great exercise for most people to have a reflective look at the foods they have consumed. This helps in holding yourself accountable, and also setting new goals to make changes in your diet.

Set the Alarm Clock One Hour Earlier

Channel some of your motivation into a power workout tomorrow morning before class or work. Starting your day with some physical activity is a great way to rev up your metabolism, release some endorphins, and get you in a focused, rejuvenated mindset for the day to come.

Don’t Sweat Today

The good thing about falling off track is that there’s always tomorrow to get back to your routine and start fresh. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes there will be days where you have no other option but to roll with the punches. Take it day by day, and regardless of how you feel about today, tomorrow is the perfect opportunity to lead the healthy, happy lifestyle you are reaching for.

This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com.

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Spending Money on Experiences Makes You a Better Person 

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of practicing gratitude—how it can boost your mood, help you treat others better, improve physical health, and keep stress and fear at bay. Now, here’s a little trick for how to automatically infuse more gratitude into your life: Spend more money on experiences, and less on material objects.

“Think about how you feel when you come home from buying something new,” Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Cornell University and co-author a new study on gratitude, said in a press release. “You might say, ‘this new couch is cool,’ but you’re less likely to say ‘I’m so grateful for that set of shelves.’”

“But when you come home from a vacation, you are likely to say, ‘I feel so blessed I got to go,’” he continued. “People say positive things ab­­­­out the stuff they bought, but they don’t usually express gratitude for it—or they don’t express it as often as they do for their experiences.”

Gilovich’s new study shows that people not only express more gratitude about events and experiences than they do about objects; it also found that this kind of gratitude results in more generous behavior toward others.

To examine these patterns, Gilovich and his colleagues looked at 1,200 online customer reviews—half for purchases made for the sake of doing (like restaurant meals, show tickets, or vacations), and half for purchase made for the sake of having (like furniture, jewelry, and clothing). They weren’t surprised to find that reviewers were more likely to bring up gratitude in posts about the former than the latter.

“People tend to be more inspired to comment on their feelings of gratitude when they reflect on the trips they took, the venues they visited, or the meals they ate than when they reflect on the gadgets, furniture, or clothes they bought,” the authors wrote in the journal Emotion.

First author Jesse Walker, a psychology graduate student at Cornell, says that experiential purchases may elicit more gratitude because they don’t trigger as many social comparisons as material possessions do. In other words, experiences may foster an appreciation of one’s own circumstances, rather than feelings of falling short or trying to measure up to someone else’s.

The researchers also performed several experiments with either college students or adults recruited from an online database. In one experiment, 297 participants were asked to think about a recent purchase over $100, either experiential and material. When asked how grateful they were for that purchase on a scale of 1 to 9, the experiential group reported higher scores (an average of 7.36) than the material-possessions group (average 6.91).

In a similar experiment, participants also said that the experiential purchase made them happier than the material one, and represented money better spent—findings that echo previous research on this topic.

Finally, the researchers performed two exercises to determine how purchase-related gratitude might affect how people behave toward others. In both, participants were asked to think for a few minutes about a meaningful purchase, either experiential or material. A few minutes later, they were given a seemingly unrelated task of dividing $10 between themselves and an anonymous recipient.

Which group was more charitable? Those who had been tasked with remembering an experience or event gave away about $1 to $2 more, on average, than the material group.

Co-author Amit Kumar, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Chicago, says that this link between gratitude and altruistic behavior “suggests that the benefits of experiential consumption apply not only to the consumers of those purchases themselves, but to others in their orbit as well.”

These findings can certainly apply to individuals looking to be more grateful in their everyday lives, Gilovich says, but they may have implications for communities and governments, as well.

“If public policy encouraged people to consume experiences rather than spending money on things, it would increase their gratitude and happiness and make them more generous as well,” he says. Funding organizations that provide these experiences—such as public parks, museums and performance spaces—could be a good start, he adds.

If you’re looking to express more gratitude as you spend time with family, shop for gifts, and juggle your packed schedule this upcoming holiday season, you can keep the researchers’ advice in mind.

“All one needs to do is spend a little less on material goods and a little more on experiences,” the wrote in their paper. “In addition to enhancing gratitude, experiential consumption may also increase the likelihood that people will cooperate and show kindness to each other.”

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Why This Fitness Blogger Is Showing Off Her Belly Rolls

Ashlie Molstad knows the true value of self-acceptance. In a recent post, the social media star known as Foodie Girl Fitness shared two pics of herself taken minutes apart. In the first, she’s standing tall in a sports bra and underwear, looking sculpted and strong. In the second, she’s perched on a chair so we can see how the skin on her stomach rolls as soon as she sits down.

“If I’m going to show you the posed, put together, professional sides of me,” the 31-year-old fitness coach wrote in the caption, “I’m gonna make damn sure you see the not so flattering sides too.”

Molstad’s greater message: Loving yourself means loving your body, belly rolls, cellulite, jiggly arms, and all—and tuning out the constant societal pressure to somehow achieve physical “perfection.” As she so powerfully put it, “Our bodies aren’t broken. The message society is trying to tell us {by airbrushing everything, erasing dimples and rolls and fluff} is.”

Of course, reversing what we’ve been taught to think about our appearance is challenging. But it’s worth it, she urges. "We’ve been told for years that we’re not good enough until we {insert any of the thousands of ideas of perfection that has been fed to us over the years}. But I call BS. I say that the real magic happens when we embrace who we are, at every angle and size.”

RELATED: Aly Raisman Shuts Down the Boys Who Used to Make Fun of Her Muscular Arms

We especially love that Molstad looks equally happy in both images, which have been shared nearly 60,000 times. But her confidence doesn’t always come easily, she admits. “This doesn’t mean I don’t also struggle with embracing this body I was given, but it does mean that I understand working on loving me is the most important job I will ever have.”

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Your Phone Is Covered in Molecules That Reveal Personal Lifestyle Secrets

There are many ways your phone can provide glimpses into your personality: Your choice of apps, your music and photos, even the brand of smartphone you buy, to name a few. But new research reveals another surprising piece to the what-your-cell-says-about-you puzzle. Turns out analyzing the molecules, chemicals, and microbes left behind on a mobile device can tell a lot about its owner—including the person’s diet, health status, probable gender, and more.    

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that this type of profiling could one day be useful for clinical trials, medical monitoring, airport screenings, and criminal investigations. It also serves as a reminder of the lasting chemical residues of the foods we eat, the cosmetics we wear, and the places we visit. In some cases, researchers could pinpoint ingredients from personal-care products that the owner of the phone hadn’t used in six months!

“You can imagine a scenario where a crime-scene investigator comes across a personal object—like a phone, pen, or key—without fingerprints or DNA, or with prints or DNA not found in the database,” said senior author Pieter Dorrestein, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, in a press release. “So we thought—what if we take advantage of left-behind skin chemistry to tell us what kind of lifestyle this person has?”

RELATED: A Smart Guide to Scary Chemicals

Dorrestein’s previous research has shown that molecules analyzed from skin swabs tend to contain traces of hygiene and beauty products, even when people haven’t applied them for a few days. “All of these chemical traces on our bodies can transfer to objects,” Dorrestein said. “So we realized we could probably come up with a profile of a person’s lifestyle based on chemistries we can detect on objects they frequently use.”

For their new study, Dorrestein and his colleagues swabbed four spots on the cell phones of 39 volunteers, and used a technique called mass spectrometry to detect molecules from those samples. Then, they compared those molecules with ones indexed in a large, crowd-sourced reference database run by UCSD.

With this information, the researchers developed a personalized lifestyle “read-out” from each phone. They were able to determine certain medications that the volunteers took—including anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal skin creams, hair loss treatments, antidepressants, and eye drops. They could identify food that had recently been eaten, such as citrus, caffeine, herbs, and spices. And they detected chemicals, like those found in sunscreen and bug spray, months after they’d last been used by the phones’ owners.

RELATED: 6 Ways Your Mobile Devices Are Hurting Your Body

“By analyzing the molecules they’ve left behind on their phones, we could tell if a person is likely female, uses high-end cosmetics, dyes her hair, drinks coffee, prefers beer over wine, likes spicy food, is being treated for depression, wears sunscreen and bug spray—and therefore likely spends a lot of time outdoors—all kinds of things,” said first author Amina Bouslimani, PhD, an assistant project scientist in Dorrestein’s lab. In fact, the researchers were able to correctly predict that one study participant was a camper or backpacker because of residue from DEET and sunscreen ingredients on her phone.

This was a proof-of-concept study, meaning that it only showed that the technology exists—not that it’s ready for market. To develop even more precise profiles, and to be useful in the real world, the researchers say more molecules are needed in the reference database. They hope it will grow to include more common items including foods, clothing materials, carpets, and paints, for example.

Dorrestein and Bouslimani are conducting further studies with an additional 80 people and samples from other personal objects, such as wallets and keys. They hope that eventually, molecular profiles will be useful in medical and environmental settings.

Doctors might employ this technique to determine whether a patient really is taking his or her medication, for example. Or scientists could use it to determine people’s exposure to toxins in high-risk workplaces or neighborhoods near potential pollution sources. And, of course, molecular profiling could help criminal investigators by narrowing down the potential owners of objects, or understanding people’s habits based on items they touch, they wrote in their paper.

RELATED: These Personality Traits Are Linked to a Healthier Sex Life

As creepy as all this may sound, personality-specific microbes likely aren’t the most alarming things hiding on your cell phone. Other research shows that our tech devices are popular spots for germs like the flu virus and antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Unless you plan to rob a bank and leave your phone behind as evidence, germs are probably your biggest threat at the moment. To keep buildup to a minimum, and harmful bugs at bay, try to remember to clean your screen and case regularly with a disinfectant wipe.

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Amy Schumer Posted About Loving Your Body and It Is Perfection

Friday, November 11, 2016

If You Do This Before Bed, Your Sleep Will Seriously Suffer

How glued are you to the main screen in your life? Very, if you’re like most of us; survey data suggests that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times each day.

All of that smartphone screen time is likely taking a toll on our sleep, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE. People who used their phones more, especially around bedtime, got less and worse sleep than their peers.

That’s concerning, says Dr. Gregory Marcus, one of the study’s authors and director of clinical research for the division of cardiology at University of California, San Francisco. “There’s growing evidence that poor sleep quality is not simply associated with difficulty concentrating and being in a bad mood the next day,” he says, “but may be a really important risk factor to multiple diseases.”

For the 30-day study, 653 adults all across the country downloaded an app that ran in the background of their phones and monitored screen time. The people in the study recorded how long and how well they slept, following standardized sleep scales.

People interacted with their phones about 3.7 minutes per hour, and longer screen activation seemed to come at a detriment. “We found that overall, those who had more smartphone use tended to have reduced quality sleep,” Marcus says.

The study doesn’t prove that using screens more causes worse sleep. (In fact, it might be the other way around: “We can’t exclude the possibility that people who just can’t get to sleep for some unrelated reason happen to fill that time by using their smartphone,” Marcus says.) But other research supports the idea that screens work against slumber. Some data suggests that the blue light your phone emits suppresses melatonin, a hormone that helps the human body maintain healthy circadian rhythms. “We also know that emotional upset, or just being stimulated apart from smartphone use, can adversely affect sleep quality, and that engaging with Twitter or Facebook or email can cause that sort of stimulation,” Marcus says.

Reactions to extended screen time might vary from person to person. But if you have difficulty falling asleep or getting good sleep, look to your smartphone, Marcus says. “Because sleep quality is so important, I think it’s useful for individuals to take these data and at least give avoidance of their smartphones an hour or so before they go to bed a try to see if it helps.”

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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Repealing The Affordable Care Act Could Be More Complicated Than It Looks

After six controversial years, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, may be on the way out, thanks to the GOP sweep of the presidency and both houses of Congress Tuesday.

“There’s no question Obamacare is dead,” said insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. “The only question is whether it will be cremated or buried.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Wednesday that repealing the law is something that’s “pretty high on our agenda.”

But promising to make the law go away, as President-elect Donald Trump did repeatedly, and actually figuring out how to do it, are two very different things.

“Washington is much more complicated once you’re here than it appears to be from the outside,” said William Pierce, a consultant who served in both the George W. Bush Department of Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill for Republicans.

For example, a full repeal of the health law would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Given the small GOP majority in the Senate, “they would have to convince six or eight Democrats to come with them to repeal. That seems highly unlikely,” Pierce said.

Republicans could—and likely would—be able to use a budget procedure to repeal broad swaths of the law. The “budget reconciliation” process would let Republicans pass a bill with only a majority vote and not allow opponents to use a filibuster to stop movement on the bill.

But that budget process has its own set of byzantine rules, including one that requires that any changes made under reconciliation directly affect the federal budget: in other words, the measure must either cost or save money. That means “they can only repeal parts” of the law, said Pierce.

Republicans have a ready-made plan if they want to use it. The budget bill they passed late last year would have repealed the expansions of Medicaid and subsidies that help low- and middle-income families purchase health insurance on the law’s marketplaces, among other things. President Barack Obama vetoed the measure early this year.

That bill also included, as Vice President-Elect Mike Pence promised in a speech last week in Pennsylvania, “a transition period for those receiving subsidies to ensure that Americans don’t face disruption or hardship in their coverage.” The bill passed by the GOP Congress at the end of 2015 set that date at Dec. 31, 2017.

Delaying the repeal date could work in Republicans’ favor, said Laszewski. “Then they’ll turn to the Democrats and say, ‘Work with us to replace it or be responsible for the explosion,’” he said.

But Tim Westmoreland, a former House Democratic staffer who teaches at Georgetown Law School, said that strategy won’t work. “I don’t think people will see the Democrats as responsible if it all blows up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Republicans have only the broadest outlines of what could replace the law. Trump’s campaign website has bullet-point proposals to allow health insurance sales across state lines and to expand health savings accounts—which allow consumers to save money, tax-free, that can be used only for health care expenses. House Republicans last summer offered up a slightly more detailed outline that includes creating “high-risk pools” for people with preexisting health conditions and turning the Medicaid program back to state control through a block-grant program.

Yet even Democrats are convinced that Obama’s signature accomplishment is on the chopping block. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they can’t really mean it. They wouldn’t really take health insurance away from 20 million people’” who have gained it under the law, John McDonough, a former Democratic Senate staffer, said at a Harvard School of Public Health Symposium last week. “How many times do [Republicans] have to say it before we take them seriously?”

One possibility, according to William Hoagland, a former GOP Senate budget expert now at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, is that Republicans could use the budget process to combine tax reform with health policy changes. “And a reconciliation bill that includes reforms in Obamacare and tax reform starts to become a negotiable package” that could attract both Republicans and potentially some Democrats, who are also interested in remaking tax policy.

But if Congress does pass the GOP’s “repeal” before the “replace,” it needs to make sure that insurers will continue to offer coverage during the transition.

“Are [Republicans] going to invite insurers in and listen?” said Rodney Whitlock, a former House and Senate Republican health staffer. If there is no acceptable transition plan, “insurers can say the same thing to the Republicans that they’ve been saying to Democrats,” said Whitlock, which is that they are leaving the market.

That’s something that concerns insurance consultant Laszewski, who says that already there are more sick than healthy people signing up for individual coverage under the law. With probable repeal on the horizon, he said, that’s likely to get even worse. “A lot of [healthy] people will say, ‘Why sign up now? I’m going to wait until they fix it.’”

And if that happens, he said, there might not be any insurers offering coverage for the transition.

This article originally appeared on KHN.org

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Helpful (and Realistic) Way to Manage Your Post-Election Emotions

The election is finally over. But it’s safe to say that, as a nation, the tensions and anxieties related to this historic race—and its outcome—aren’t going away anytime soon. While about half of the country is celebrating Donald Trump’s victory today, many others are facing feelings of disappointment.

If you’re in the latter group, you may be looking for ways to cope. Should you avoid the news, or wallow in it? Will you feel better by sharing your thoughts on social media, or worse?

Yes, it’s a cliché but you can start by taking a deep breath—literally—says Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center. It won’t change the outcome of the race but that simple act has been scientifically proven to help curb anxiety and refocus your attention. That’s important, says Winston, because dwelling on negative emotions will only push you deeper into sadness and despair.

And since stress is an inevitable part of life no matter what your political persuasion, Winston says mindfulness is a skill everyone can benefit from learning. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you feel calmer in no time.

1. Focus on your breath. Mindfulness is about living in the present moment with openness, curiosity, and willingness, says Winston. That concept may be hard to grasp right now, but you can start small—by bringing your attention to your breath for a few minutes, and tuning out everything else around you.

Try to practice mindful breathing for a minimum of five minutes a day, says Winston. (To get started, listen to a guided tutorial on UCLA’s website.) “Once you get used to it, you can do it anytime in the day you need it,” she adds—like when a political conversation gets heated, or you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by the news.

2. Tune into your whole body. If you end up in a heated conversation, notice what’s going on with your body in that moment: Feel your feet on the floor, your heart racing, and the heat rising in your cheeks, for example.

Acknowledge those feelings, but don’t let them take over. “If you notice there’s anxiety or anger there, then you can bring consciousness to it and not necessarily be so reactive when you choose to respond,” Winston says.

Pinpointing your emotion may even have a soothing effect in itself, she adds. “Research shows that when we are aware of feeling and we label it correctly, it calms down the primitive part of the brain, and activates the part that helps with impulse control instead.”

3. Maintain perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts about worst-case scenarios. But remind yourself that that’s exactly what they are—and that dwelling on them won’t change things or help you feel better.

“Mindfulness teaches us that we shouldn’t believe everything we think,” says Winston. “When a thought comes into your head—‘I have to leave the country,’ or ‘I’ll never talk to my relatives again’—you don’t have to follow that train of thought.” Instead, take a deep breath (see No. 1), bring yourself back to the present, and do your best to take things one step at a time.

4. Be proactive, not reactive. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t mean you should just sit back and give up on your beliefs and your passions. But it does mean you should think before making rash decisions while emotions are running high.

“Mindfulness can help you act for change, but from a place of wisdom and compassion rather than a place of reactivity—two very different ways of acting that can have completely different results,” says Winston. “When you practice it over time, you cultivate a quality of even-mindedness and balance, even amidst the ups and downs of life.”

5. Acknowledge your judgments. Mindfulness can be especially valuable when talking with others who have different opinions. (You may not feel up to doing that at all today, says Winston, and that’s okay. But doing so at some point, with mutual respect, will be an important step toward bridging the divides in our country.)

It’s only human—and totally normal—to form opinions about why a person feels the way they do. But you can acknowledge those judgments, in your head, without letting them go any farther. Remember, you don’t have to believe everything you think.

“Everyone wants the same thing deep down—to be safe, happy, and healthy,” she says. “So instead of writing someone off before really hearing them out, see if you can listen to these deeper needs and come to an understanding.”

6. Practice gratitude. “There is some neuroscience around the idea that people can’t have both fear and gratitude in their minds at the same time,” says Winston, “so doing some kind of gratitude practice right now can definitely be helpful.”

Call a loved one and tell them how much you appreciate them. Spend a few minutes writing down things you’re thankful for. Or just take the opportunity to bring awareness to the time you spend with your favorite people, places, or activities.

These strategies certainly won’t solve all of the country’s challenges, nor will they erase your anger or anxieties. But that’s not the point of mindfulness—and that’s what makes it realistic.

“It’s not about trying to get rid of these feelings,” says Winston. “It’s about giving yourself tools so you can tolerate them and be at peace with them, so you can then move onward and upward.”

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Next Week’s Supermoon May Be a Once in a Lifetime Event

Fall 2016 is proving to be an exciting season for stargazers, with three consecutive supermoons (which happen when the moon is closest to Earth) occurring in October, November, and December. But the upcoming supermoon on Monday, Nov. 14 will be particularly special, due to a unique alignment of the Earth, moon, and sun. The moon will be the closest it’s been to the Earth since January 26, 1948—the next similarly large supermoon won’t occur until November 25, 2034. In short: You won’t want to miss it.

On the night of the supermoon, the diameter of the moon could appear up to 14 percent larger and the total area of the moon may look up to 30 percent larger and brighter, according to Jonathan Kemp, a telescope specialist at Middlebury College Observatory. The moon appears so large due to its positioning on its orbit.

“The moon’s orbit is not a circle, but rather an ellipse, just as with the planets,” Kemp says. “On average, the moon is about 239,000 miles away from the Earth. When it is at perigee, or its closest point to Earth, it can be about 225,000 miles away. When this happens during full moon, the apparent size of the moon, as seen from Earth, appears to increase.”

This month, the full moon will occur within about two hours of the moon’s perigee, causing the extra-special supermoon. And because there is typically one supermoon per year, the fact that there are three in three months is also pretty spectacular.

The best way to view the supermoon is look for it low in the sky (as it rises or sets near the horizon) with foreground reference points (like buildings) to provide some context, Kemp says. Because it’s a full moon, it will rise as the sun sets, and set as the sun rises. With binoculars, you’ll get an even more exciting sight.

“When the moon is full, the larger craters show ‘ray’ features, which look like lines pointing away from the crater, spanning much of the surface of the moon,” says Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. “These 'rays’ are streams of rock that were ejected when the crater was formed by a colliding asteroid long, long ago.”

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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Saturday, November 5, 2016

This New Patch Can Monitor Patient’s Vital Signs With High Accuracy

Hospital patients could have their vital signs tracked without cumbersome wires and complex monitors once a new startup’s wearable monitoring patch hits the market.

VitalConnect is building a lightweight, disposable patch that can be affixed to a patient’s chest and wirelessly sends vital signs including heart rate, ECG read out and rate of breathing to a mobile app. The patch has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and provides clinical grade accuracy in monitoring, the company said.

“It is very small, comfortable and fully disposable,” Dr. Nersi Nazari, VitalConnect’s CEO, said on Wednesday during a demonstration at the Fortune Brainstorm Health conference. One patch can be worn for four to five days and can survive getting wet in the shower, he noted.

The patch, which could also be worn by patients at home, has the ability to detect if the wearer has fallen down. If a fall is detected, the patch can wirelessly notify a doctor or other party.

VitalConnect is also developing a cloud-based service to analyze the health data collected by the patches. The software ultimately could help physicians decide how to treat a patient or decide when the patient is ready to be discharged from the hospital, Nazari said.

For more about medical wearables, see: Can a Wearable Fitness Device Predict Your Heart Attack?

“The data is sliced and diced and analyzed to the condition that the doctor is looking at,” Nazari explained. “We do not want to bombard doctors with so much data that it’s just not useful.”

VitalConnect, founded in 2011, is seeking to combine expertise in bioengineering and data analytics. Nazari previously worked on semiconductor chip design at Marvell Semiconductor. Joseph Roberson, the company’s chief medical officer, was formerly chief of otology-neurotology-skull base surgery at Stanford University.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Good News: You've Got a Better Brain Than You Think

If babies could gloat, they would. The rest of us may have it all over them when it comes to size, strength and basic table manners, but brain power? Forget it. The brain you had at birth was the best little brain you’ll ever have. The one you’ve got now? Think of a Commodore 64—with no expansion slots.

That, at least, has been the conventional thinking, and in some ways it’s right. Our brains are wired for information absorption in babyhood and childhood, simply because we start off knowing so little. At some point, though, absorption is replaced by consolidation, as we become less able to acquire new skills but more able to make the most of what we do know. What’s always been unclear is just what that point is. When does our learning potential start to go soft? A new paper published in Psychological Science suggests that it might be later than we thought.

The study, led by cognitive neuroscientists Lisa Knoll and Delia Fuhrmann of University College London, involved a sample group of 633 subjects, divided into four age groups: young adolescents, roughly 11–13 years old; mid-adolescents, 13–16; older adolescents, 16–18; and adults, 18–33. All four groups were trained and tested in two basic skills, known as numerosity discrimination and relational reasoning.

In the numerosity tests, people sitting at computer screens were flashed a series of images of large clusters of dots. Each cluster consisted of a mixture of two colors and the task was to select which color was more plentiful. That was easy enough when the ratio of one color to the other was 70-30, but it got harder as it went to 60-40, then 55-45, and finally 51-49. The challenge was made greater still since every screen was flashed for one fifth of a second. All of the subjects were tested three times—once at the beginning of the study, once three to seven weeks later and once nine months after that. And all were required to complete 12-minute practice sessions at some point before each test.

The relational reasoning part of the study followed a similar training and testing schedule, and involved subjects being flashed a screen filled with a three-by-three grid. The first eight boxes of the grid contained abstract designs that changed sequentially in terms of color, size or shape. The bottom right box was left blank and subjects had to choose which of a selection of images best completed the pattern.

Both puzzles are the kinds of things that routinely appear on tests of basic intelligence and predictably give subjects fits—not least because there exactly many occasions outside of the testing room that either skill has any real-world use. But numerosity discrimination and relational reasoning are basic pillars of our mathematical and logical skills, and the better you do at them the more that says about your overall ability to learn.

So how did the kids—with their nimble brains—do compared to the ostensibly more sluggish adults? Not so well, as it turned out. In the relational reasoning portion of the test, the 18 to 30 age group finished first over the course of the three trials, followed closely by the 15 to 18 year olds. The mid-adolescents—13 to 16—trailed at a comparatively distant third, with the 11 to 13 year olds last. In other words, the results were exactly the opposite of what would be expected from traditional ideas of learning capability. In the numerosity discrimination, the order of finish was the same, though the improvement across the three trials was less for all groups, with only the adults and the older adolescents seeming to benefit much from the three practice sessions.

“These findings highlight the relevance of this late developmental stage for education and challenge the assumption that earlier is always better for learning,” said Knoll in a statement accompanying the study’s release.

The reason for the findings was less of a surprise than the findings themselves. Brain development is a far slower process than it was once thought to be, and neuroscientists know that this is especially true of the prefrontal cortex, which in some cases is not fully wired until age 30. This has its downsides: impulse control and awareness of consequences are higher-order functions that live in the prefrontal, which is the reason young adults are a lot likelier to make risky choices—cliff diving, drunk driving—than older adults. But learning lives in the prefrontal too, which means the knowledge-hungry brain you had when you were young may stick around longer than you thought.

“Performance on executive function tasks undergoes gradual improvement throughout adolescence,” the researchers wrote, “and this might also contribute to improved learning with age.”

Ultimately, the brain—like the muscles, joints, skin and every other part of our eminently perishable bodies—does start to falter. The good news is, it’s a tougher organ than we thought it was, and it’s ready to learn longer.

This article originally appeared on Time.com.

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Why an $80 Artificial Knee Outruns a $1,000 Version

Contrary to what many people may believe, it’s not war or landmines that are the primary causes of amputations in impoverished countries.

In places like Kenya or India, amputations are often the result of more commonplace and unfortunate incidents, like automobile accidents or train mishaps involving businesspeople on their commutes to work.

Each year, tens of thousands of people in low-income nations suffer amputations, explained Dr. Krista Donaldson, CEO of medical device non-profit D-Rev, at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego Wednesday.

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Modern prosthetic limbs are often expensive, she said, with some devices costing upward of $1,000, making it hard for struggling medical clinics to afford them. And even when those devices are donated to clinics operating in impoverished nations, frequently those devices go unused, and the clinics are unable to perform the maintenance required to keep them functional.

“Most medical devices are designed for places like here, not low-income clinics,” Donaldson said in reference to clinics in wealthy nations that can more easily afford and maintain the prosthetics. D-Rev created more affordable prosthetic limbs to help amputees worldwide who don’t have access to the medical devices.

For instance, Donaldson showed off a recently developed artificial knee that costs $80 and contains the organization’s custom technology such as an embedded spring that helps amputees move the artificial leg forward as they walk.

The artificial knee was also designed to accommodate uneven terrain and rocky roads, unlike other devices built with smoother, paved surfaces in mind.

Currently, the knee is being used in 17 countries, but she hopes to bring it many more nations over the next three-to-five years.

For more from Brainstorm Health, click here.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Why Songs Get Stuck In Your Head—and How to Get Them Out 

This Is the Compelling Science Behind Fitness Trackers

I wear a fitness tracker that monitors how many steps I take each day. Ask me why, and I’ll tell you I’m not quite sure. Push me, and I’ll say it’s fun. It sort of appeals to my sense of achievement to know if I hit my Fitbit-suggested target every day of 10,000 steps.

My dichotomous enjoyment/ambivalence isn’t unusual. The companies making the trackers claim that counting your steps leads to better health. But as a user the evidence feels shaky. Stacey Burr, vice-president of wearable sports electronics for the German sneaker maker Adidas, makes a powerful argument that such nitpicking misses the point. How to use the collected information is “the next frontier,” she says. “Right now it’s about how to get people moving more and to stay with it.”

The data backs up Burr’s assertion. Just 1% of the U.S. population engages in regular vigorous exercise, she says. Seventy percent is “inactive,” a description that applies to an appallingly high percentage of children. View fitness trackers from that perspective, and the focus shifts from ‘what does this information mean?’ to ‘just getting inactive people moving is a good thing.’

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Burr, a founder of a sensor-based clothing business called Textronix that Adidas bought, spoke Wednesday at a lunch panel on “The Exercise Cure: The High-Tech Science of Fitness” at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. She says a huge opportunity for combating childhood obesity is teaching kids to be active. School systems have begun experimenting with heart-rate monitors, for example, that kids wear during gym class. Grades are based on minutes of elevated heart-rate activity, and baseline measurements can shift for children of different athletic abilities. Burr says educators have found correlations between more activity and better attendance, behavior, and academic achievement.

Yes, there’s a commercial angle here. Adidas ADDYY -6.07% has released a wrist-based heart-rate monitor for kids called Zone. It’ll be good for kids if the product succeeds.

Maybe this fitness-tracker thing really is about more than fun.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Can a Wearable Fitness Device Predict Your Heart Attack?

The tech industry has trumpeted the promise of wearable fitness and health devices to improve care by empowering patients with a critical resource: data. But turning a stream of information into predictions of outcomes isn’t an easy task. And there are still a number of significant obstacles before this sort of tech can get us to a point where, say, a Fitbit or Jawbone-like device can accurately assess someone’s risk of a heart attack.

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute; John Carlson, president of medical solutions at Flex FLEX -0.90% ; Dr. David Rhew, chief medical officer and health care head at Samsung Electronics America; and Dr. Dave Albert, the founder and chief medical officer at AliveCor, were among the featured guests during a breakfast discussion at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference on Wednesday. And they grappled with the regulatory and technological obstacles to developing the kind of products and services that might tell someone that they’re at imminent risk of a catastrophic heart-related incident.

Part of the problem is that current technology available to consumers only picks up on heart rhythms. That can be useful from a personalized standpoint, but it’s not the same as actually predicting an arterial problem. And it certainly doesn’t give Americans all the information (and, more importantly, the medical context) that they need to make the right decisions about their medical care when it comes to anticipating a disastrous heart problem.

Subscribe to Brainstorm Health Daily, our brand new newsletter about health innovations.

“There’s no wearable that’s likely going to provide that,” said Topol. There’s just too much uncertainty and fluctuation among available consumer devices, which would have to go through the intensive Food and Drug Administration medical-device clearance process before they could actually provide more information to caregivers. The exact genetic and biological warning signs of a brewing heart attack also aren’t totally clear yet.

But Topol expressed hope that, regulatory snags aside, the technology will eventually get there — as long as firms can collect enough relevant data about the exact biological risk factors and warning signs for a heart attack or a stroke.

This presents its own problem, as Flex’s Carlson and AliveCor’s Albert pointed out. Creating a consumer product like Fitbit isn’t the same as developing an FDA-cleared medical device. The latter proposition is far more cumbersome and even more expensive.

Click here for more from the Brainstorm Health conference.

Gaining FDA clearance “takes the development cycle from six months to three years,” said Carlson. Albert added that becoming an FDA-cleared device involves following a host of manufacturing rules that can gum up the works, and that there are legitimate risks to allowing this sort of tech (especially when it comes to things like “predicting” heart attacks) to run wild.

“There will always be false positives and false negatives,” said Albert. “And those results can influence patients behavior and incur, at the very least, a financial and emotional toll on them if they act on it.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

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Is Virtual Part Of the Hospital Of The Future?

Hospitals in the future will certainly include telemedicine, where telecommunications technology can help diagnose and treat patients remotely in the comfort of their own homes, according to a panel of medical experts on Wednesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. 

Dr. Randall Moore, president of Mercy Virtual, explained that his hospital is a $54 million hospital with no hospital beds. The aim is to streamline hospital care so that a patient is admitted only when it is absolutely necessary, reducing costs as well as stress on the patient, who could be treated from the comfort of their home.

He recalled the care of one patient, an 87-year-old woman who had been hospitalized 13 times in just a few years due to cancer and other health issues. In nine months, with Mercy’s virtual care, the patient was hospitalized only once.

“The reduction in cost was dramatic and she had a better quality of life,” Moore said. He explained that the beauty of how Mercy is handling telemedicine is to make virtual care one part of a holistic care plan, as opposed to relying solely on virtual care.

Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of American Well, a company that provides telemedicine technology to health care companies, said that it doesn’t make sense to provide virtual care without in-person physical care. “It’s how to make care teams fully centric,” he explained.

Telemedicine, which is expected to be worth more than $34 billion globally by the end of 2020, is still very much in its early days, he added. “Right now 2% of health care is done online. In the future, it will be 20% to 30% of care,” Dr. Schoenberg added.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What It's Like To Meditate with Deepak Chopra

I’m not one for meditating. It’s not that I don’t believe in the virtues and benefits of the practice, but my mind tends to wander and instead of coming out of a session feeling zen, I instead emerge worried about my next deadline or the mysterious cough my 4-year-old daughter might have. Oh, and I’m eight months pregnant, so I feel my little girl kicking me pretty much constantly.

But when alternative medicine advocate and meditation guru Dr. Deepak Chopra organizes a small group, 20-minute meditation, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Such was the case at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, where on Tuesday, Chopra led a meditation for the conference’s two-hundred plus attendees.

Meditation has increasingly become a booming business. In 2015, the meditation and mindfulness industry raked in nearly $1 billion, according to research by IBISWorld, which breaks out the category from the alternative health care sector. There’s also revenue collected from the growing number of mindfulness apps, like Calm.com and Headspace.

Here’s what the Chopra experience was like:

Chopra first instructed the group to relax their stance and close their eyes with their palms open. He then asked the group to start paying attention to their breathing, and told the group that if their mind wandered that was ok, and to be bring it back to the present.

Chopra then asked the group to ask themselves a series of questions, including: “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?”

He asked the audience to try to listen to their heartbeat, and see if they could feel the energy of it in their fingertips.

Chopra also asked the group to repeat their name to themselves, starting with their full name and then shortening it to their first name. And he called on the crowd to say a silent mantra to themselves.

Lastly, he told the group to slowly open their eyes.

I’m surely missing some of the moments—because at times, I felt like I was meditating. Twenty minutes felt more like five, and I returned to the present feeling surprisingly rested. And ready to tackle the deadline for this article.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Here’s Why Pond Scum Will Live Longer Than You

There’s more to pond scum than meets the eye.

Just ask Nobel Prize-winning scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, now the President of the Salk Institute, who earned her Laureate status, in part, for insights gleaned from that lowly life form.

Blackburn is famous for her work on telomeres—the chromosome-capping entities that protect genetic material as it replicates. Telomeres wear down over time, she discovered—and that erosion corresponds to aging.

She also discovered that telomerase, an enzyme plentiful in “pond scum,” but limited in humans, rebuilds telomeres and holds the secret to longevity.

Pond scum, she said, speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday, is “an organism that multiplies forever and ever. We used to say, you could feed and talk nicely to it and it would multiply forever.”

It’s not so easy with human cells. Blackburn says telomerase can be a mixed blessing: while the enzyme allows the renewal of useful, necessary human cells—like blood cells—it also promotes the spread of cancer cells.

It will take more science to discover when telomerase becomes a danger, and how that knowledge might be used to improve health. For now, what we know about telomeres tells us a few basic things about how to live a longer life, says Blackburn, whose book, The Telomere Effect: The New Science of Living Younger, hits stores in January.

Her research has shown that people who exercise, sleep well, eat decent food, and keep a good attitude—“everything your mother told you,” she said—are more likely to preserve their telomeres and live longer. Her studies have also shown that long episodes of stress—dealing with a sick child, for instance—take a toll on one’s telomeres, and contribute to aging.

Of course, telomeres are only one piece of the puzzle, Blackburn explained. While the health of one’s telomeres correspond with longevity, it’s only one factor, she said.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Love Ashley Graham? Here Are 9 Other Body-Positive Activists You Should Follow Too 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This Is the Best Time of Day to Do Everything, According to Your Chronotype

Everyone has a biological clock that governs the rhythm of their day, and not everyone’s clock keeps the same time. That’s why some people are early birds, and others night owls. But according to sleep specialist and psychologist Michael Breus, PhD, there are more than just larks and owls in this world. 

In his new book The Power of When ($28, amazon.com), Breusargues that the majority of us fall into four categories (which he’s named after mammals, not birds) and that knowing your “chronotype” will help you figure out the best time of day to do just about everything—from when to have your first cup of coffee to the ideal time to exercise, have sex, and more.

Below, we pulled a few tips from his book on how to be more productive throughout the day, whether you’re a “dolphin,” “lion,” “bear,” or “wolf.” Read on to see which chronotype describes you best, and learn how you can tweak your routine so you stay energized longer. (To find out more about your personal chronotype, check out Breus' online quiz.)

If you’re a light sleeper and wake early, but not fully refreshed…

You’re likely a dolphin. Breus named this group of people after the ocean-dwelling mammal because real dolphins only sleep with half their brain at a time. The name is a good fit for folks who are prone to restless sleep and insomnia, he explains. While “dolphins” tend to feel groggy in the a.m., they should exercise first thing, says Breus. Even the sleepiest heads can go from exhausted to pumped after a bout of intense physical activity. His recommendation: After a fitful night, do 100 crunches and 20 push-ups, to raise your blood pressure, body temp, and cortisol levels before you start your day.

RELATED: How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

If you rise bright-eyed at dawn, and feel sleepy by mid-afternoon…

You’re likely a lion. Like real lions, people with this chronotype are at their best in the morning; as the day goes on, their energy level takes a dive. Breus suggest scheduling your most important tasks between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Mid-morning is “when you are best equipped, hormonally speaking, to make clear, strategic decisions,” he writes. This is also when you’ll get hungry, since you’ve been firing on all cylinders for hours. But a smarter strategy is to snack earlier, around 9 a.m., and wait to eat lunch until after 12. Lions tend to crash an hour or two post-lunch, so it’s best to eat later rather than earlier. If you can, eat outside or take a walk on your break; the exposure to sunlight will help you feel more alert.

If you make good use of the snooze button and get tired by late evening…

You’re likely a bear. About half of people fall into this category, named after those diurnal (active in the day, restful at night) creatures known for their long, deep sleeps. People with this chronotype have a sleep/wake pattern that matches up with the solar cycle, says Breus, which is lucky for them. They require a solid eight hours (at least) of quality z’s, and often need a few hours to fully wake up. To put a pep in your step in the first part of the day, Breus suggests prioritizing a hearty, high-protein breakfast around 7:30 a.m. “Bears usually reach for high-carb choices like cereal or a bagel,” writes Breus, but “eating carbs in the morning raises calm-bringer serotonin and lowers cortisol levels, which you need to get up and moving.”

RELATED: How to Get More Energy, From Morning to Night

If you don’t get to sleep until midnight or later (and struggle in the mornings)…

You’re likely a wolf. Named for the nocturnal hunters, “wolves” are most alert after the sun has set—typically around 7 p.m., according to Breus. They don’t feel tired until very late at night, and have trouble getting up before 9 a.m. Wolves tend to down several cups of coffee in the morning. But since this is when your “wake-up” hormones are flowing, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you wait until “your morning cortisol release has run its course,” says Breus. Around 11 a.m. is when a cup of joe will do you the most good. And take it black. Sugar and cream could cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin that may slow you down more.

Another tip: Bathing in the evening rather than the morning could help you nod off at a more reasonable hour. When you get out of a hot shower or warm bath, your core body temperature drops, he writes, “signaling to the brain to release melatonin, the key that starts the engine of sleep.”

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