Nicole Guest Blogs: Too young to diet?

This Guest Blog is from Nicole Praefke, one of Dr. T’s Health Psych students:

While it is obvious that childhood obesity is a rising problem in the United States, it is not so obvious what approach should be taken. There are parents that put their children on strict diets, there are parents that will do nothing because they believe their child will “grow out of it,” and there are many parents in between these two extremes. Dr. Keith Ayoob, as Liz Neporent points out in Childhood Obesity: Is 7 Too Young to Diet?, affirms that losing weight should always be about health and not weight especially in a child who is very vulnerable to acquiring body image issues. However, he emphasizes the importance of a child with obesity losing weight. Therefore, the most healthy way for a obese children to lose weight is to give them the healthy portions and make sure they get enough exercise through their play time. It is probably the case that this same suggestion applies to adults, so adults who strive to be healthy should eat right, control their portions, and exercise, but they should not extreme diet. Read more about this important debate here.

Haley Guest Blogs: A (mentally) healthy diet

Haley McNamara, one of Dr. T’s Health Psych students, guest blogs again!:

Does your diet affect your mental health? In the scientific community, this is a difficult question to answer. Many studies on diet and nutrition rely upon notoriously inaccurate self-reporting measures. Furthermore, it is the minerals and nutrients found in food have an effect on the brain, not the food itself. All foods have an individual makeup, and it is therefore difficult to measure exactly what an individual consumes in their diet. Researchers have discovered that a “Mediterranean diet” high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and cereal is correlated with reduced risk of developing dementia, depression, and ADHD in children. The positive effects of a healthy diet on mental health may be due to substances in fruits and vegetables that decrease neuroinflammation. Another theory suggests that diets that are high in saturated fats can create “insulin resistance.” The inability to use insulin properly in turn has adverse consequences on neurological functioning. As it turns out, eating an apple a day really can keep the doctor, and psychiatrist, away. Read more about it here.

Izabel Guest Blogs: Green Tea and Chocolate Have Cognitive Benefits

Izabel Khalilione of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again:

The research performed by Joseph Steiner and colleagues from John Hopkins University shows that green tea and cocoa may help in the prevention of neurocognitive impairments in patients with HIV. Patients with HIV have lower levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), the protein which leads to  survival and growth of brain cells responsible for learning, memory and higher thinking. Fortunately, it seems that the antioxidants in green tea and cocoa cross the brain’s blood barrier, and protect the brain neurons by producing BDNF. As a result, drinking tea and eating chocolate (moderately, of course) correlated with stronger cognitive activity.

Reed Guest Blogs: TED Talk on Eating and Exercise

Reed Vierra, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students, guest blogs again!:

In this talk, AJ Jacobs, an editor at Esquire and author of “Drop Dead Healthy,” discusses the “extreme” methods he went through in order to become as healthy as possible. Many of these extreme methods include following typical medical advice that is more difficult to follow than he thought, such as dermatologists’ advice to apply a shotglass of sunscreen every 2 hours! One of the more interesting points he covers is that many individuals’ quest to optimize their health actually worsens their health in some regards–especially since they often reduce and neglect their social connections.

Ken Guest Blogs: Falling Can Be Fatal

This Guest Blog Post is from Ken Huang, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

This New York Times article by Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a professor and vice chairman of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, discusses falling and the heavy consequences that falling has for the elderly. We don’t usually tend to think of falling as that serious of an incident — we might get a scraped knee or a bruised elbow, but it’s not life threatening most of the time. However, for senior citizens, falling can be deadly. Reports from the CDC state that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will fall each year and “in that demographic, falls are the leading cause of injury death.” For women, who tend to have weaker bones at older ages, falls are twice as likely to lead to fractures than compared to men. However one-third more men die from falls than as compared to women. This isn’t just an issue for the elderly, but for the rest of us as well; injury from falls costs our society over $30 billion in medical treatment fees. The good news is that falls are largely preventable through a combination of approaches. Exercise, osteoporosis screening, properly house-proofing (installing stability bars in showers, removing tripping hazards, etc.), monitoring medications that can cause dizziness and motion problems, etc. are just some of the ways that falls or the dangerous affects of falls can be reduced.

Izabel Guest Blogs: Yoga for Caregivers

This Guest Blog Post is from Izabel Khalili, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

When people become victims of prevalent diseases, their caregivers also become victims in a way, suddenly taking on stress and depression. According to a research done by the scientists in the University of California Los Angeles, it seems that a low-cost yoga program can improve the quality of life for caregivers and help them cope with their hardships. Researchers found out that meditation helps in reducing depression and increasing mental health. They also found that daily yoga practices, as short as 12 minutes per day, could reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning in caregivers. Meditation also increased caregivers’ telomerase activity and thus reduced cellular aging. These benefits, which only appeared in the researchers’ experimental group in eight weeks, suggest that incorporating a yoga program for the caregivers mentally help them deal with the difficulties they face in caring for the ill.

Julie Guest Blogs: Treatments for Back Pain Not Effective

This Guest Blog Post is from Julie Nam, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

Epidural injections are often used to relieve back pain. However, a recent study under the guidance of Dr. Kris Radcliff found no significant differences between spine patients who had injections and the control group. Injected patients actually had less improvement than the control group. Although the study is small and may have outside factors, the unexpected results brings our attention of “what a pain” it is to treat pain.

Zhiqiao Guest Blogs: Mineral Diet Associated with PMS

This Guest Blog Post is from Zhiqiao Dong, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

Diet and nutrition are significant factors in the overall function of the body, and dietary supplements of various minerals have become increasingly popular with consumers. This new article on a women’s health study suggests some minerals, including iron and potassium, have been linked to the development of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The 10 year study on over 3000 women was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and found that iron may reduce the risk of PMS while potassium may increase the risk. In the study, women with the highest intake of iron were 40% less likely to be clinically diagnosed with PMS compared to women with the least intake of iron. Potassium, however, had the opposite effect. Women with the most intake of potassium were 43% more likely to be diagnosed with PMS than those with the least. On the other hand, researchers noted that too much iron or too little potassium may also harm the body. Therefore, a balanced diet with a variety of food, vitamins and minerals is still key to health!

Connie Guest Blogs: Breaking Myths on Dieting and Obesity

This Guest Blog Post is from Connie Liu, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:

There have been countless statements made about obesity that society has believed in, when in reality, these “facts” are merely just myths not backed up by reliable medical evidence. One myth, which you may be familiar with, is that eating less or exercising more will lead to massive weight loss over time. This assumption is based on the idea that “3,500 calories are equal to one pound” (so if a person eats 100 calories less than normal every day for one year, they would mathematically lose at least 10 pounds by the end of the year). However, this equation was only used for short-term experiments and therefore, does not apply to long-term conditions. Another myth dieters believe in is that setting up attainable, gradual goals results in weight loss. However, studies have actually found that dieters who set the most ambitious goals lost more weight, which suggest that psychological attitudes play a prominent role in successful weight loss. These are just two out of several weight loss mythbusters. For more, you can read on over here.

Brandon Guest Blogs: Consciously Unconscious

This Guest Blog Post is from Brandon Rokos, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:
Waking up midway through the procedure isn’t something most people think about before going under the knife. But for a small group whose senses remain active throughout the surgery, this is the reality. These patients report being able to hear the equipment buzzing around them as they lay on the operating table unable to move. Even worse is that anesthesiologists cannot reliably test to see whether a patient is fully unconscious or not. However, a recent neuropsychological study at Massachusetts General Hospital used electrical signals to detect the brain function of subjects in hopes of monitoring their level of sedation and understand what really constitutes being fully unconscious. Researchers administered a general anesthetic called propofol and tracked electrical signals while the subjects performed a task to test their consciousness. It is hoped that the usage of distinct electrical signals can reveal more about the brain and its relationship to the psychological behaviors of consciousness and unconsciousness, and furthermore, fuel research that ensures patients are properly sedated before medical procedures.