Best Health Magazine Canada Live Better. Feel Great Wed, 28 Oct 2020 20:22:02 -0400 en-US hourly 6 Best Health Magazine Canada 32 32 What is Hyperpigmentation? What to Know About Dark Spots and Skin Discolouration Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:47:01 +0000 Hyperpigmentation is when certain areas of skin turn darker. Learn about the different causes and the many different treatments.

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If you have dark spots on your skin or skin discolourations, you may have hyperpigmentation.That’s when patches of skin become darker than the area around them for a number of different reasons, including hormones, acne scarring, or sun exposure. Changes to the melanocytesthe cells which produce skin pigment or colorare the immediate cause of hyperpigmentation.But many different things can spur the melanocytes to start producing more pigment, says Michele S. Green, a dermatologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.Hyperpigmentation is rarely harmful, but is typically a sign of another medical issue. Doctors can successfully treat hyperpigmentation with prescription medications and in-office procedures.Here’s what you need to know about hyperpigmentation.(Related: This is What Skin Cancer Looks Like)

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is the result of something else going on in your body, such as aging cells, hormones, or inflammation, says Carolyn Jacob, a board-certified dermatologist with Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.Experts recognize three basic types of hyperpigmentation: postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), melasma, and lentigines, or sun spots.PIH is the most common type of hyperpigmentation. PIH develops after wounds, burns, or injuriesanything that causes an inflammatory reaction in your body. Acne scars, eczema and psoriasis can all cause PIH.”Any kind of inflammatory insult in the skin can then lead to PIH,” says Chris Adigun, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Dermatology & Laser Center of Chapel Hill in North Carolina. That’s because inflammatory cells flock to the area and stimulate pigment production. PIH can be temporary, but not always.Lupus, psoriasis, eczema, and other inflammatory disorders can cause patches of darker skin, says Dr. Adigun. These are called primary inflammatory disorders of the skin.Addison’s disease (when your adrenal glands don’t make enough of the stress hormone, cortisol) can cause darker skin all over your body. People with Addison’s secrete more of the melanocortin-stimulating hormone, which then spurs more melanin production.This type of hyperpigmentation covers your whole body uniformly. Primary biliary cholangitis, a liver disorder, can also trigger hyperpigmentation.


This type of hyperpigmentation usually shows up on your face and is more common in women than men, says Dr. Adigun.Like other types of hyperpigmentation, melasma more commonly occurs in people with darker skin but can happen in all skin types. These patches can look a lot like age spots, but are usually darker.No one really knows what causes it but hormones from pregnancy (called the “mask of pregnancy”), hormonal birth control, and hormone replacement therapy, are often involved.”Hormones are revving up the cells that create colour,” says Dr. Jacob. And the sun aggravates this, adds Dr. Green.(Related: 24 Things Your Skin Reveals About Your Health)

Lentigines or sun spots

These are age spots or liver spots that show up uninvited in middle age then multiply as you get older.”Over time, from chronic sun exposure, your skin will develop these pigmentation spots,” explains Dr. Adigun.They’re known as solar lentigines and reflect DNA damage that occurred when you were exposed to the sun. (Freckles are considered lentigines.)

Drugs, chemicals, and heavy metals

Foreign substances and medications can also cause hyperpigmentation. Some antimalarial drugs, the antibiotic tetracycline, amiodarone (a heart medication), and some tricyclic antidepressants have been linked to pigment changes.In addition, many of these drugs can make you more vulnerable to the sun. Heavy metals like silver, gold, and mercury can also be to blame.

Hyperpigmentation and the sun

The sun can cause or aggravate hyperpigmentation of all types. That’s because melanin (pigment) absorbs ultraviolet rays as a way to protect your skin. That’s when your skin tans.To avoid sun damage, wear sunscreen whenever you go outside. Look for broad-spectrum products to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays that have an SPF of 50 or higher, says Dr. Green.And look for a sunscreen that’s at least 7 percent zinc oxide, adds Dr. Jacob. “Hyperpigmentation is something that can easily come back. It’s stimulated by UV exposure so you have to have scrupulous UV and infrared exposure management,” says Dr. Green.(Related: Your Guide to 10 Vital Skin Care Practices and When to Start Them)

Diagnosing and treating hyperpigmentation

Doctors diagnose hyperpigmentation and its causes partly by examining the darkened area and taking a medical history. They may also perform a skin biopsy, removing a small piece of the discolored area to be studied under a microscope, says Dr. Adigun. That diagnosis will help guide treatment.If there’s an underlying condition like psoriasis, doctors will treat that first. Beyond that, most treatments are similar, no matter the cause, says Dr. Green.Even the cases that involve a primary inflammatory disease may involve additional treatment specifically for the skin. “Treating the underlying disease is going to give you better results,” says Dr. Adigun.


Most prescription creams used to lighten the skin contain hydroquinone which works by slowing down melanin production. In more severe cases, your doctor might suggest creams that contain tretinoin and cortisone.It can take 3-6 months to see results and these can irritate sensitive skin. You can also try over-the-counter products with kojic acid that may help lighten your skin, says Dr. Jacob.

In-office treatments

Treatment for hyperpigmentation is usually a combination of methods, says Dr. Adigun. “They can be incredibly effective,” she says. These include chemical peels, laser treatments, and microneedling.

When to contact a doctor

Most cases of hyperpigmentation are medically harmless. If darkened spots on your skin are bothering you, you should contact a dermatologist about treatment. If the patches are accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss and fatigue (Addison’s), you should seek help.Consult a doctor if you have pigmented spots that develop in areas that didn’t have a rash or previous marking. That could be cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, says Dr. Adigun. “The proper diagnosis is really needed,” she says.Next: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to Changing Up Your Skin Care Routine

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Eating Poppy Seeds? Here Are the Health Benefits, Nutrition, and Risks Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:41:39 +0000 You may know them best as a bagel topper, but poppy seeds do more than just adorn your breakfast meal.

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You may know them best as something sprinkled on top of a bagel, but poppy seeds are more than just a breakfast topping. These crunchy specks offer nutritional benefits and are used globally in all sorts of baked goods and dishes.Poppy seeds come from the poppy plant, which people have turned to for centuries as the source of opium for pain relief and for ailments like cough and diarrhea.Poppy seeds don’t have the same opiate properties as the plant they come from, but there are some things you should know about eating them.Read on to learn more about the benefits and nutritional value of poppy seeds, and how they can impact your overall health.(Related: 14 Things Doctors Eat for Breakfast Everyday)

What are poppy seeds?

The poppy plant is native to the Eastern Mediterranean, but eventually spread to other temperate parts of the world. Poppy seeds are tiny; depending on where they’re cultivated, they can vary in color, although they’re usually black.”Poppy seeds are kidney-shaped seeds from the opium poppy,” says Jennifer Silverman, holistic nutritionist based in New York City. “They are typically used to add flavor, texture and crunch to food.”Poppy seeds can be eaten whole, ground up and added to a meal, or pressed for poppy seed oil.

Nutrition facts on poppy seeds

Poppy seeds are a source of fibre, which helps to keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. They also contain magnesium, which helps with bone health and blood clotting, and calcium, which also plays a role in bone health.According to the USDA, one teaspoon of poppy seeds contains the following nutrients:

  • Fat: 1.2 g
  • Calories: 14.7 kcal
  • Sodium: 0.7 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0.8 g
  • Dietary Fibre: 0.5 g (about 2 percent of the daily value)
  • Total Sugars: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0.5 g
  • Calcium: 40 mg (3 to 4 percent of the recommended daily intake, RDI, for adults)
  • Iron: 0.3 mg (1.5 percent of the RDI for adult women)
  • Magnesium: 9.7 mg (2 percent of the RDI)
  • Manganese: 0.2 mg (8 percent of the RDI)

(Related: How to Choose the Best Food Habits For Your Health)

Health benefits of poppy seeds

Poppy seeds are rich in certain vitamins, and minerals. They also containmacronutrients(fats, proteins, and carbs).”Manganese is a trace mineral with lots of benefits,” says Silverman. “It helps with bone health, bone mineral density, and blood clotting.” It’s also associated with proper liver function and nutrient metabolism, Silverman adds.Poppy seeds can also be pressed to make poppy seed oil, which has Omega-6 and Omega-9 fats, which have been found to improve overall health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.”Poppy seeds and poppy seed oil also contain polyphenols, an antioxidant associated with a reduced risk of heart disease,” says Silverman.Poppy seed oil contains oleic acid, which may help to heal wounds on the skin. According to the Journal of Drug Delivery and Therapeutics, poppy seeds and poppy seed oil have historically been used to treat headaches, coughs, asthma, and even insomnia. There is little research to back their effectiveness, however.Poppy plants contain the opium alkaloids morphine, codeine, and thebaine (among other compounds), which are known for their pain-relieving and sleep-inducing abilities. Poppy seeds don’t naturally contain these opioid compounds but they can become contaminated during processing and remain that way if unwashed.

Poppy seeds and weight loss

Because poppy seeds are a source of fibre, magnesium, calcium, and healthy fats, these seeds can be a good addition to a healthy diet.Poppy seeds are also low in cholesterol and sodium.

Poppy seed risks and side effects

Small amounts of codeine and morphine may show up in a urine drug test after you eat poppy seeds, according to a report in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology.But washed poppy seeds don’t naturally contain opium compounds, Silverman explains. Unwashed seeds can cause problems if they were exposed to opiates when they were harvested.”This is why people say if you eat them before a drug test, you could test positive for opium,” says Silverman. “Consequently, they’re cleaned thoroughly before hitting the shelves of your favorite grocery stores.”While unwashed poppy seeds (or teas that contain them) are sometimes promoted as a sleep aid or pain reliever, they aren’t safein large quantities they can contain enough opioid compounds to lead to dependency, overdose, and withdrawal, and can even be potentially life-threatening.That said, poppy seeds purchased at supermarkets and grocery stores and consumed in small quantities are safe.(Related: 10 Foods With More Fibre Than Broccoli)

Best way to eat poppy seeds

Poppy seeds are found in many bakery products, like bagels or lemon poppy muffins, but they also can be added to salads and vegetables.”I would use them as a topping, to add some crunch to my favorite cottage cheese or on top of a piece of avocado toast,” says Silverman. “I may also top off a salad or veggie bowl with them.”Ready to give them a try? Get the recipe for our honey poppy seed fruit salad.Next: Should You Be Eating Chia Seeds? Heres What Nutritionists Say

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Ready to Start a Journal? 6 Tips From Therapists to Get Started Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:38:00 +0000 Writing about your feelings can clear your head, beat stress, and usher in happiness. Here's how to start a journal to improve your mental health.

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Write what’s in your headand your heart. Research suggests that writing in a journal can be surprisingly cathartic and beneficial for your mental health.Journaling can take you out of a negative thought cycle and the repetitive thought patterns known as rumination, which are not useful to your growth as a person and can even worsen anxiety and depression. It can also allow for needed perspective on situations you’re struggling with.”Journaling provides the opportunity for people to organize their thoughts and feelings, and by doing so, they develop agency and control over what’s going on in their mind,” says Allison Lobel, psychologist at Wellington Counseling Group in Chicago.If you have anxiety, journaling can help elevate your mood and improve overall well-being, according to a study that compared adults who journaled for 15-minutes three days per week with those who didn’t. The research was published in JMIR Mental Health in 2018.

Types of journals

There are many different ways to start a journal. Think about what might appeal to you and whether you’d like to do something more organized and focused, or something more creative.Some popular types of journals include:

  • Bullet This is a mix of mindfulness and creativity that’s full of notes, to-do lists, reminders, and doodles.
  • Dream You record your nightly dreams or whatever you remember and any reflections on how you feel about them.
  • Laughter Jot down everything that makes you laugh throughout the day
  • Gratitude Take time each day to list several things that you’re grateful for that happened that day or the day before.
  • Creative Creativity can be anything: write or draw, scrapbook or muse.
  • Goal-oriented Keep track of your goals, track your progress, and write inspirational notes to yourself to stay motivated.
  • Collage Use images from magazines or photos and write thoughts about why they moved you.
  • Drawing Draw sketches to describe how you feel or what you’re experiencing.
  • Nature Record what you experience when you’re out in nature. Describe what you see, feel, hear, and touch.
  • Stream of consciousness Write down your thoughts as they come to you.

Know that there is no wrong way to journal, says Lobel. However, journaling is a habit to develop. If you’re interested in starting, here’s how to get into it so you can make the most of the emotional exercise.(Related: Could Laughter Be the Best Medicine for Stress and Anxiety?)

Set a time

Having “journal” on a mental to-do list isn’t enough. For the most success, find a time where you can integrate journaling into your existing routine, which will help you remember and reserve space for it.”I tell people that the bookends of the dayin the morning or before bedcan be effective times to engage in journaling,” says Lobel. Before bed is especially poignant, as journaling can serve as a respite from the active part of your day and serve as a transition to sleep. What’s more, it gets nagging thoughts out of your head and onto paper (where they become less potent).(Related: 9 Sneaky Ways to Carve Out More Me Time Every Day)

Start with something light

If you’re intimidated by seeing your inner self on paper, start by writing out your day, recommends Lobel. Include the mundane, too. You woke up at 7 a.m., made your bed, showered, ate breakfast, and hopped on a conference call. Then, add what you were feeling or experiencing during those things. For instance, you forgot to set your alarm so you missed your workout, and you started the day more stressed out.Even just jotting down what’s on tomorrow’s agenda can have marked effects. People who wrote a to-do list before bed fell asleep faster compared to a group that listed all of their accomplishments for the day, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Keeping a gratitude journalwriting down your blessings, big or smallcan also help you approach life in a more optimistic way and help you achieve your goals.If you’re still struggling, set a timer for three or five minutes, write, and stop when it goes off.(Related: 3 Ways to Change How You Think to Achieve Your Health Goals)

Find a journal you love

You have two choices: write on paper or on the computer/smartphone. Lobel suggests writing on paper. For one, so many of us are stuck in front the computer all day, so journaling on paper can offer a welcome screen break.There’s also a benefit to writing versus typing. “Doing this can internalize a message to you that you’re important enough to take the time to write it down. The slower repetitiveness of hand motions when writing can also be calming,” she says.

Be honest

It’s tough to be vulnerableeven with yourself. Writing it down adds another layer to this because your words are in front of you. You may be tempted to water down your thoughts, but that won’t maximize your benefits. “In my experience with journaling, if I wanted it to be completely effective, I had to be brutally honest on paper and not hold anything back. I always coach clients I work with to do the same,” says Brandon Giostra, a licensed clinical social worker with Delphi Behavioral Health Group in Fort Lauderdale.(Related: A Weeks Worth of Insightful Prompts For Your Gratitude Journal)

Find a private space

Perhaps you were scarred as a teen when mom or a sibling read your diary. Regardless of what you write in a journal now, find a private space for it. (If there’s someone in your household who does not respect boundaries, then hide it.) “Don’t rob yourself of the power of the journal because you fear someone finding it,” says Giostra. It’s also OK if you want to keep the contents private with yourselfno need to go back and reread your entries unless you want to.Treat yourself to a cozy corner in your home, use a fuzzy blanket, put on thick socks, brew a cup of teawhatever makes it feel indulgent so that you look forward to sitting down.(Related: 8 Ways to Do Self-Care During Self-Quarantine)

When to connect with a professional

Sometimes, journaling itself can help you work through struggles or unexamined emotions. In other times, your thoughts may scare or overwhelm you. That may be a sign that you may want to seek outside perspective or help. For example, you can share the contents with a trusted loved one. Or, connect with a therapist for additional help in processing emotions that feel too big for you to handle on your own.Next: 19 Therapist Tips for Finding Hope in Dark Times

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6 Common Myths About Sex After 50 You Need to Stop Believing Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:24:32 +0000 Sex after 50 is surrounded by common myths and misconceptions. Find out the truth about you and your partner’s intimacy with these debunked myths.

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sex after 50

The honest truth about sex after 50

Judging from the images the popular media puts forth, youd think sex was only for twenty-somethings. Nothing is further from the truth. Sex at midlife and beyond is a subject mired in confusion and misinformation. Read on for some common myths, and the straight-up truth about sex after 50.(Related: 49 Interesting Sex Facts You Probably Didnt Know)

sex after 50

Myth #1: Beyond a certain age, people have little interest in sex.

Fact: There is no age limit on sexuality, but for people age 50 and over, sexual satisfaction depends more on the overall quality of the relationship than it does for younger couples. According to a University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, surveying adults 65-80, nearly three in four older adults (73%) indicated they were satisfied with their sex life.(Related: Heres How Many Times You Need to Have Sex to Slow Down Aging)

sex after 50

Myth #2: As a man ages, he loses his ability to get an erection.

Fact: Aging itself is not a cause of erectile dysfunction. However, diminishing hormone levels do precipitate some changes. A man may need more physical stimulation to become aroused, and his erection may not be quite as firm as when he was youngerbut sex is no less pleasurable.(Related: 9 Things That Happen to Your Body If You Stop Having Sex)

sex after 50

Myth #3: Emotional and psychological factors are responsible for a womans lack of interest in sex at midlife and beyond.

Fact: Physical factors can play an even larger role. According to the North American Menopause Society, hormonal changes at menopause can affect a womans sexual response. Low estrogen levels can result in vaginal dryness, causing discomfort during sex. And in some women, lower testosterone levels can mean a lack of energy and a weaker sex drive. Other women find their interest in sex increases after menopause, due, in part, to a shift in the ratio of testosterone to estrogen and progesterone.(Related: 14 Ways to Enjoy Better Sex as You Age)

sex after 50

Myth #4: Masturbation diminishes your ability to enjoy sex with a partner.

Fact: Masturbation can increase sexual pleasure, both with and without a partner. For women, it helps keep vaginal tissues moist and elastic and boosts hormone levels, which fuels sex drive, says the National Womens Health Network. For men, it helps maintain erectile response.(Related: 6 Healthy Reasons to Masturbate)

sex after 50

Myth #5: A mans inability to get an erection is most likely the result of an emotional problem.

Fact: Actually, physical causessuch as circulation problems, prostate disorders, and side effects associated with prescription medicationsaccount for most erectile difficulties. The are prescription remedies as well: sildenafil, vardenafil and others.(Related: 5 Foods That Could Absolutely Kill Your Sex Drive)

sex after 50

Myth #6: Couples at midlife and beyond who dont have regular sex have lost interest in sex or in each other.

Fact: When older couples dont have regular sex, its often because one partner has an illness or disability.Of course, its true that sex isnt going to stay exactly the same as you age. But the changes that take place arent all negative. Once a woman is past menopause and no longer concerned about pregnancy, many couples find it easier to relax and look forward to lovemaking. And partners who are retired or working only part-time often have more time and energy for each other, for making love as well as pursuing other shared activities.By midlife, you know your own body and your partners intimately, and, hopefully, youve figured out how to communicate what you find pleasurable. Its likely that youve shed any sexual inhibitions, and your sexual confidence and experience probably result in better sex for both of you. Just as important, sex may be more emotionally fulfilling because now it is driven less by hormones and more by the desire to share yourself with someone who loves you. Sex after age 65 may take place less often, but many find it becomes more gratifying than ever.Medically reviewed byTia Jackson-Bey, MD.Next: 16 Sex Problems Marriage Counsellors Hear About All the Time

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Gynecologists Confess Which Patient Habits Bother Them Wed, 28 Oct 2020 09:09:22 +0000 Keep your gynecologist happy and focused by avoiding these habits.

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patient habits that bother gynecologists

You worry about your grooming

Your ob-gyn only has about seven to 11 minutes each visit to spend with you, and shes not using that time to focus on how close you shave. I see so many patients who apologize for not shaving their legs, saysMaureen Mulvihill, MD, an ob-gyn in private practice in San Pedro, California. But I dont notice, and Ive never met another physician who does.Nancy Lebowitz, MD, a clinical instructor at NY Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell in New York City,agrees. We dont care about your stubblewe want to make sure everything is healthy down there! she says. Hair is natural, and weve all got it.(Related: 22 Myths Gynecologists Want You to Ignore)

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You cancel because of your period

All the ob-gyns we spoke to said the same thing:Dont cancel your appointmentbecause of your period. Newer Pap smear techniques allow doctors to get accurate results even when its that time of the month, explainsDana Jacoby, MD, an ob-gyn in private practice in Tinton Falls, NJ. Remember, Im an obstetricianI help women give birth. Ive seen a fair share of blood, he says. I prefer my patients keep their appointments. If youre experiencing heavy bleeding and are concerned about it, it actually makes sense for your doctor to see you then to see if there are clues she can find as to why. However, in extremely rare situations, if your flow is exceptionally heavy, Dr. Lebowitz suggests you reschedule, since the lab may make your doctor repeat the Pap.

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You self-diagnose

With over-the-counter antifungal medications, such as Monistat, its easy totreat a yeast infection yourself. But if you have any concerns, see your doctor first. Please dont come in for an appointment while youre in the middle of your treatment, says Dr. Lebowitz. We cant do anything if youve already applied the medicine since it gets too messy for us to do an accurate exam. To fight aurinary tract infectionyoull need prescription antibiotics, which some ob-gyns will provide by phone to your pharmacy. Once you start a round of medication, though, be sure to finish it. Women normally feel better within 24 hours of starting an antibiotic, but that does not mean you stop taking medication, saysBeth Battaglino, RN, president and CEO of HealthyWomen, a non-profit that educates on womens health topics. Its important to take the full amount of whats prescribed, which is normally seven days, so you dont experience a repeat UTI. If youre prone to recurrent infections, see your doctor.

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You dont tell us what meds you take

You may not think your other medications matter to your ob-gynafter all, youre just going in for a Pap smear or to renew your birth control prescription. But your doctor needs to hear it because your drug regimen could affect your care. For example, if she knows you take a medication for blood pressure or an acne drug with high risks of birth defects, that could affect what type of birth control she recommends. To help her, write down the name and dosage of every drug and supplement you regularly take before your next visit. (Related: 10 Important Questions to Ask Before You Take Prescription Medications)

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You dont speak up

Ob-gyns we spoke to swore that they want to hear anything thats on your mind, even if it seems silly or weird or gross. Our responsibility is to help our patients make good health care choices for themselves. Some problems can feel embarrassing, but they are problems we see every day, says Dr. Jacoby. In some cases, getting over your shyness can save your life. Dr. Lebowitz remembers a patient who was embarrassed by a skin rash on her arm: When I asked her how long shed had it, her answer raised a red flagit had been there way too long. After further testing with her primary care doctor, we discovered she actually had lymphoma.(Related: 5 Myths About Your Lady PartsDebunked)

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You dont get tested for cervical cancer

Recent headlines questioning the value ofpelvic examsfor healthy women may have some patients wondering whether they need to even go to the doctor. But the experts we spoke to say theres no doubt that screening for cervical cancer can save lives. We all know of patients who waited too long to get help forred-flag cervical cancer symptomsfor example, foul-smelling dischargeand wound up diagnosed with stage IV cancer, says Battaglino. Current guidelines recommend that women with an average risk for cervical cancer get screened every three years when in their 20s; those aged 30 through 65 should get Pap smears every three years or a combination of Pap and HPV test every five years. (Women 65 and older may not need regular screening if previous tests have been normal.)(Related: What You Need to Know About Getting a Pap Test)

patient habits that bother gynecologists

You seek medical advice on the internet

Most people think thatGoogling their symptomswill help them feel at ease, but if anything, it may just make you feel worse. One symptom could mean a dozen different health conditions. And the next thing you know, youre going into a full-blown panic. Dr. Google is good for general health queries, but if you want legitimate medical advice, ask your doctor for help, not the internet.(Related: Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge)

White headphones and smart phone on wooden table

You talk on your phone during the exams

Nothing irks a gynecologist more than a distracted patient who wastes their time yakking on their cell phone instead of focusing on the matter at handtheir health, says Battaglino.(Related: Addicted to Your Smartphone? You Might Have Nomophobia)

close up of woman's legs in soapy bathtub

You use feminine hygiene products to smell good down there

Dont even bother grabbing that vaginal wash that promises to make your nether regions smell like daisies and wildflowers. Gynecologists do not recommend douching or using feminine deodorant sprays as they can destroy your vaginas natural bacterial flora and increase your risk for infections.Next: 12 Period Mistakes Youre Making Every Month

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How to Treat the Most Common Aches and Pains Caused by Pandemic Life Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:41:41 +0000 Because everyone’s back is a total mess right now.

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These past few months have proven to be extremely challenging for many, as we adapt to all the twists and turns of Covid-19. Keeping active has required some creative thinking but the payoff is big. Fitness and nutrition are cornerstones for improving our immune system. The stronger we are on the inside, the more resilient we are in the fight against disease, mental health and injuries. (Here’s what working from home does to your body.)The trend toward at-home workouts has benefited many, but it comes with its own risks. In our practice, weve seen a spike of injuries in 3 main areas:

  • Neck and shoulders
  • Hips and back
  • Chronic overuse injuries

(Related: 4 Ways to Perfect Your Form During At-Home Workouts)Here are some simple tips to help protect yourself from these common injuries, aches and pains:

Neck & shoulders

We tend to hold a lot of tension in our upper body when were anxious. If youre also logging too many hours hunched over a laptop, and then attempting an upper body strength routine, it can add up to a lot of strain in the neck and shoulders. Heres how to minimize the pain:

  • Ensure that your computer setup is ergonomically sound and that you program 2- minute breaks of moving around for every 20 minutes of sitting.
  • Make sure your training program includes a lot of pulling exercises to improve your posture and upper back strength. A lot of at-home workouts are too heavily weighted toward push pattern movements (planks, push ups, burpees, etc.)
  • Take 5-15 minutes daily in a quiet room, void of all distractions, and breathe deeply to aid your parasympathetic nervous system and maintain calm.

Hips and back

Sitting with poor posture for long periods of time weakens the abdominal muscles, putting an added load on your hips and lower back. Remember to:

  • Use some of those 2-minute breaks to run on the spot, or walk briskly around your house anything to get the circulation going in the legs.
  • Include more than just your favourite muscle groups when youre working out. Popular moves like crunches, jump lunges and jump squats are great, of course, but they can be too much of a good thing. Work on your posture and your stabilizers as well. (Two great exercises to look up: The Cobra and the Bird Dog).
  • Balance out your body when exercising. The more symmetrical the hips and legs are, the less the lower back will take a hit.

(Related: What Is Dead Butt Syndrome? 6 Workout Moves That Help This Painful Condition)

Chronic overuse injuries

Chronic injuries, or repetitive strain injuries, can be crippling at times: Shin splints due to excessive walking; elbow pain from increased computer usage; shoulder stiffness and muscle pulls from doing more work around the house. Sound familiar?For this group of injuries, prevention is really the best medicine. If you start to feel twinges of discomfort, seeking help from a professional (athletic therapist, massage therapist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, etc) before they become serious problems can go a long way.Now that you know how to treat aches and pains from working from home, check out three easy ways to get moving during the pandemic.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Arm Implant for Birth Control Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:22:39 +0000 A doctor explains why Nexplanon is the most effective hormonal birth control option available in Canada right now.

The post Everything You Need to Know About the Arm Implant for Birth Control appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

A device implanted into your arm to prevent ovulation, and therefore pregnancy, may sound a little freaky, but its actually nothing new. Due to a superior level of effectiveness, the arm implant has been a popular birth control option among women outside of Canada for a while, but hasn’t been available here since it went off the market in 2002.Now, a new and improved version is back. Nexplanon, a single-rod arm implant (which is smaller and more comfortable than previous versions) has just been approved by Health Canada for pregnancy prevention. This three-year progestin-only contraceptive is the most effective form of birth controleven compared to an IUD, or getting your tubes tied, says Dr. Ashley Waddington, Family Planning specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Queen’s University.We talked to Dr. Waddington to find out everything you need to know about the birth control arm implant.

Who is and isn’t a good candidate for Nexplanon?

Most people are good candidates. There are very few contraindications to it, but there are a couple things to keep in mind. If somebody has a hormone sensitive tumour, like in breast cancer, I would not want to recommend this method to them. Also, it’s meant to be long-acting, which is not to say it can’t be used by someone looking for a more short-term solution, but if someone told me theyre looking to get pregnant in six months, I might think about a different method for them.(Related: Am I Crazy for Trying to Get Pregnant During a Pandemic?)

Where in the arm is it inserted?

Its inserted just under the skin in the upper-inside part of your arm. It goes about five millimeters below the skin, so it’s really kind of hidden. It’s not recommended to be put in some other part of the body.

How big is the rod? Can you feel it?

It’s really smallabout the size of a matchstick. If you feel for it, you should be able to find it, but it wouldn’t be bothersome to you.

How is it implanted?

Its done in a clinic by a health care provider. So, you get some local anesthetic, or what we sometimes refer to as local freezing, and it’s inserted with a little insertion device (that looks kind of like a stapler), which helps make sure the implant is inserted at the correct angle.

Do you need stitches?

The incision would be so tiny that, typically, you wouldn’t need any stitches.

Is there any recovery time?

Not really. Its common to have a little bit of bruising at the site where it was inserted. There might be a little bit of soreness there for the first day or two. You wont need to take time off work or anything like that, and you can go back to your activities with no restrictions.

Can you work out soon after getting the implant?

Yeah! If your arm is a little bit sore and bruised, you might take that first day off from an arm workout. But once it’s been in place for 24 hours and feels comfortable, the arm can be used again in a normal fashion.

When does it start working?

It starts to work within a few days of being inserted. We always recommend either overlapping the previous birth control method by a week, or using a backup method such as condoms for a week after the implant is inserted. It is important to note that it does not prevent sexually transmitted infections, and so condom use is always encouraged to reduce the risk of acquiring an STI.(Related: 11 Things to Know Before Going Off Birth Control)

What if you dont like it? Can you have it removed soon after it was implanted?

Yes! If you don’t like it for any reason, you could just go back to your health care provider to have it removed.

What are the common side effects?

Bleeding and spotting irregularities, which is really common with all progestin-only methods of contraception. It doesn’t mean it isnt workingit could just be a nuisance. Occasionally, some people experience headaches, but that’s not very common.If you’re having a lot of pain at the insertion site, the implant may have moved. Bring that to the attention of your health care providerbut thats not something that’s likely to happen.

Do you still get your period?

The bleeding pattern can vary widely. You would not expect to get a regular monthly period with it in place because it is suppressing ovulation. Some people will have no bleeding at all with it in place, and others may have occasional light bleeding or spotting. Most often, the bleeding pattern that people experience in the first 3-6 months is predictive of what the bleeding pattern will be over the course of the 3 years the implant can stay in place.If someone has been using this method for weeks or months without any bleeding and they suddenly develop new bleeding, they should be seen by a health care provider to investigate the cause (such as being screened for STIs).(Related: Amy Schumer Wants to Talk About Your Period)

Are there any risks for choosing this implant during the pandemic? What if we go into another lockdown and it’s hard to have in-person access to a doctor?

Once it’s in place and working well, there’s not a lot of risk to having it in. What can be challenging during a pandemic is finding the resources to get it.

How do you find someone to administer it?

The first thing you would do is contact your health care provider and see if that’s something they’ve already done or if they have plans to do it. If not, then they may refer you to somebody that’s been trained.

How is it removed?

A health care provider would administer a little bit of local anesthetic, and then make a really teeny little incision, like much less than a centimeter, just about two or three millimeters at the very tip of where the rod is. Then we can pull it out from under the skin.

How soon after getting it removed can you get pregnant?

Right away! It has no long-term effect on a person’s fertility.(Related: Why You Should Be Tracking Your Menstrual Cycle)

How much does it cost?

The cost is about $300-$350 depending on the pharmacy and dispensing costs. There is no cost to have it inserted or removed, as that is done by a health care provider.This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Next: What Ob-Gyns Want You to Know About Fertility

The post Everything You Need to Know About the Arm Implant for Birth Control appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

How Rumination and Obsessive Thoughts Are Linked to Anxiety and Depression Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:21:36 +0000 It’s normal to stew over things from time-to-time.

The post How Rumination and Obsessive Thoughts Are Linked to Anxiety and Depression appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

It’s normal to stew over things from time to time. To replay that conversation you had with your boss in your head. To still be mad about that thing a stranger said to you. To reel with embarrassment because you said something you shouldn’t have.Sometimes, though, these thoughts can tip into the obsessive and put you on a hamster wheel of negativity. It’s called rumination.

What is rumination?

Rumination is a mind that spinsand often into catastrophic thinking.”Rumination isn’t just thinking a lot about something,” says Stephanie Parmely, a behavioural health psychologist with Dignity Health in Folsom, California. “It’s akin to a cow chewing cud. You’re wrestling over and over again with a thought that tends to be negative.”Getting lost in this sort of negative brain swirl is related to low levels of the neurotransmitter GABA. The presence of GABA in the hippocampus in your brain inhibits unwanted obsessive thoughts, says Parmely.Of course, we all have intrusive thoughts on occasion, but pay attention to how often they’re hijacking your thinking patterns and how much mental space they’re taking up. “I don’t think healthy people ruminate a lot,” she adds. “If it happens continually, that’s possibly a symptom of a mental health problem.”(Related: How to Know If Your Anxiety Is Normal)

5 situations in which rumination may take hold

1. You can’t let go of something trivial

It doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s really not that important. And yet, you can’t let it go.”This is a function of some stress in your brain that’s making it hard to inhibit thoughts,” says Parmely. This, in turn, feeds anxiety.”When you entertain thoughts, it reinforces the connections in your brain that allows those thoughts to happen,” she adds.

2. Did you turn off the stove?

Intrusive thoughts about whether you did or didn’t turn off the stove (and then continually worrying or checking that you did) falls under an obsession that’s identified with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), says Thea Gallagher, assistant professor with the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.Once in a while if you fret about turning off the stove (or locking your front door or closing your garage), that’s normal. But obsessions are problems when they interfere with your life and activities you like to do, according to the International OCD Foundation.

3. You said something offensive

Maybe you were an insensitive jerk to your friend. But maybe you weren’t. Rumination might mean continually replaying that conversation in your head, thinking about what you should or shouldn’t have said, and how that would have changed the outcomeand scolding yourself for it.Face the source of these thoughts and you’ll quiet them down, says Gallagher, who uses exposure therapy as one way to deal with anxiety.”If you feel like you did something wrong, go to the source and ask,” she advises. If someone says that what you said did not bother them, then consider that your interpretation of the situation may be unduly harsh.These thoughts may stem from social anxiety disorder.A type of anxiety that arises during social situations, it’s characterized by fears of humiliation, judgment, or rejection, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In this situation, it’s important to challenge your beliefs.”Even though you may think people are thinking about you in a negative way, that’s not the case,” says Gallagher.

4. You wake up worried

Morning anxietyis real. Rumination may actually be a bid for productivity or a tool to help you figure something out, says Gallagher. “But ruminating is a spiralyou don’t get anywhere except down.”Often this involves worrying about things you can’t control (or expecting the worst) either in the day ahead or far in the future, which only worsens anxiety or depression.

5. Someone said something rude to you

If you’re triggered by a rude comment from your boss, a family member, friend, or someone on social media, stop to think about the deeper reason behind the mental replay, suggests Gallagher. For instance: Do you feel taken advantage of by people?Once you’ve identified that, you can think about what, if anything, you want to do about it. Do you want to confront your sister but are normally conflict-avoidant?”Either push yourself to do something about it or radically accept the situation for what it is and move onto something else,” she says.Again, this takes practice and perhaps a professional to help you develop the skills to tackle problems head-on, or move on.(Related: How to Stop Worrying and Have a Happier Life)

Strategies for managing rumination and obsessive thoughts

When you find yourself overcome by obsessive thoughts or caught in a pattern of rumination, here’s what you can do:

Focus on what you can control

Is there something that you can do to take action? Doing that will help reduce your anxiety because it may help resolve the situation. If it’s completely out of your control, try accepting the uncertainty. This is far harder than it sounds, and so connecting with a therapist can help give you the tools to do this.

Maintain perspective

Depression is about the past, while anxiety is rooted in what can happen in the future, says Gallagher. If you’re ruminating over what could be in the future or stewing in the uncertainty of the unknown, she recommends thinking about the worst-case scenario, the best-case scenario, and the middle ground.

Try mindful meditation

A stronger prefrontal cortex will help you tune out things you don’t want to think about, says Parmely. Mindfulness meditation exercises your brain to help buffer it against obtrusive, distracting thoughts, as well as foster acceptance.

Distract yourself

Start thinking with a different part of your brain. Mindfulness will help with this, but so will other activities like colouring, knitting, crocheting, ortaking a walk, says Parmely.

Start a math problem

Crunching numbers in your head will get you out of the emotional part of your brain, says Parmely. And the math problems don’t have to be complicated. Add 2 plus 2, 4 plus 4 (and so on). Or try a series of subtractions such as 100 minus 7, 93 minus 7 (and so on).

Stand on one leg

The cerebellum is the part of your brain that senses balance and it can get you out of the running thoughts in your head, says Parmely. Stand on one leg or try a yoga pose. A 10-minute yoga routine every morning can help you start off the day in a more mentally balanced mindset.

When to seek help

If you feel like you can’t control your thoughts and the coping skills above aren’t helping with rumination or obsession, consider talking to a therapist, suggests Parmely. Treatment may include cognitive behavioural therapy, support groups, anxiety medication, or antidepressants.Next: 3 Tips to Help You Cope With Covid-19 Anxiety

The post How Rumination and Obsessive Thoughts Are Linked to Anxiety and Depression appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

16 Sex Problems Marriage Counsellors Hear About All the Time Tue, 27 Oct 2020 12:29:56 +0000 We asked marriage counsellors to reveal the most common sex problems they hear, as well as the solutions they offer to resolve them.

The post 16 Sex Problems Marriage Counsellors Hear About All the Time appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Marriage counsellors reveal common sex problems

It’s not uncommon for couples to experience problems with sexual compatibility over time. It can be due to stress, conflicting schedules, fatigue related to work or child-rearing, or some other factor. Some couples even become stuck in sexless marriages or partnerships for months or even years at a time. The loss of intimacy can be damaging to a relationship. However, there are ways to bring back the passion in your sex life, according to couples counsellors.We asked therapists and counsellors to tell us what sexual problems they hear about most often, as well as the solutions they recommend to resolve them.(Related: Why Covid-19 Is Killing Your Sex Drive)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

We don’t have time for sex

“Between jobs, kids, taking care of the household, and social demands, you may feel like there’s no time left for each other,” says Jill Whitney, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist who practices in Old Lyme, Connecticut and blogs about relationships and sexuality. “When you do have time together, it’s more likely to be collapsed on the sofa in front of Netflix rather than romping in the bedroom.”Sex is an important way for partners to connect physically and emotionally, says Whitney. “It deserves to be a priority in your marriage.” She suggests blocking out uninterrupted time together. “Go on dates where you laugh and talk. Then come home early enough that you’re not too tired to get frisky,” she says. “Arrange an overnight babysitting swap with another family so you can bask in bed together on a Saturday morning. Do whatever you need to make sure sex remains a vibrant part of your marriage. It’s an important ‘glue’ that keeps you strong as a couple.”(Related: 9 Things That Happen to Your Body If You Stop Having Sex)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Sex is now boring

It’s not unusual to feel like things have gotten a little stale when it comes to your sex life. However, a 2017 study published in the journal BMJ Opensuggests this feeling can come sooner for women. Researchers found women reported a lack of interest in sex once they were in a relationship for more than a year. “Couples often figure out a pattern of lovemaking that works for them,” says Whitney. “One partner does this lovely thing, the other person does that, and everyone has a good time. Unfortunately, your typical way of making love gets old after a while. Your sex may still be pleasant, but it’s not exciting.” Whitney encourages couples to try something novel. “This could be something as simple as new lingerie, a slow massage, or watching a racy movie together,” she says. If you’re feeling a little braver,discuss your fantasies and try to act on them.(Related: These Are the Most Common Sexual Fantasies)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

My husband wants sex all the time

In heterosexual marriages, “many women want sex just as much as men,” says David Simonsen, PhD, LMFT,marriage and family therapist, who practices in Olympia, Washington. It’s common wisdom, though, that women place more value on the emotional connection as a spark of sexual desire. “They’re more emotionally in tune in the relationship. They don’t want to be intimate because they’re emotionally disconnected from their spouse,” he says. “Men value food, sex, and respect to be happy in a marriage. Women value security and everything that comes with that emotional, physical, etc.”(Related: This Is the Worst Time of Day to Have Sex)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

We’re in a sexless marriage

Definitions of a sexless marriage vary. “Typically this means that the couple hasn’t had some sort of sexual connection in over a year,” says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, an internationally renowned clinical and consulting psychotherapist. Hokemeyer says he explains to couples that they’re not alone. “Some studies put the percentage of sexless marriages at 20 percen,” he says. “Just knowing they’re not alone provides relief and remove the obstacles that have impeded their sexual functioning.”Hokemeyer has the partners discuss why they haven’t had sex. He says he hardly hears anyone say that their partner is not sexually attractive. “In fact, the partners confirm that they still find their partner attractive,” he says. “Life, its responsibilities, and the aging of theirnot their partner’sbodies is the reason for their lack of sexual engagement.” Then the couples discuss and arrange how to make sex part of their life.(Related: 6 Common Myths About Sex After 50 You Need to Stop Believing)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Sex is painful

“Sometimes there are legitimate medical reasons that a woman might not feel comfortable having sex,” says Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. He says one physical condition is vaginismus, when the vaginal muscle involuntarily spasms. When this occurs, intercourse can be painful for a woman.”Her partner should understand that she can’t control over when this occurs; it may happen infrequently or chronically,” he says. “Treatments are available once a diagnosis has been made.” In heterosexual relationships, the penis can also create pain during vaginal intercourse. Couples often go slow at first, and use lubricants. “No matter why sexual problems exist for any couple, it’s vital that they find ways to establish enough trust between them so that they can talk about what is and isn’t working in the bedroom,” he says. “Being in couples counselling may help bridge whatever gaps exist between them so that they can both enjoy a passionate and fulfilling love life together.”(Related: 5 Myths About Your Lady PartsDebunked)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Feelings of fatigue

Constant fatigue can bring your sex life to a halt. “The old, ‘Not tonight; I have a headache’ has turned into ‘Not tonight; I’m exhausted,'” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert, and author of 8 Steps to a Sizzling Marriage. Consider rearranging what’s important in your life so you have enough energy for intimacy. “Long after you leave your career or your neighbourhood, it’s your partner who will be your steady anchor of supportunless you push him away in favour of everything else,” says Carle. “You must decide how important to you your partner really is.”(Related: Why Does My Husband Only Touch Me When He Wants Sex?)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

One person is emotionally ready. The other wants to be physically ready.

“One person, usually the woman, wants to feel close emotionally to her partner before she’s interested in being sexual,” says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, and author of The Sex-Starved Marriage. “She wants to spend time together, talking and nurturing the ‘friendship’ aspect of the relationship.” The other person, usually the man, wants to feel close to his partner physically. “Being connected physically includes sexual, sensual, and affectionate touch and other flirtatious behaviours,” she says. What happens then is a vicious cycle. “If a man initiates sex to connect and the woman rejects the advances because she feels distant emotionally, he becomes hurt. His wife pulls away, becoming more physically averse.” That’s when they need to meet halfway. One person needs to make their partner feel appreciated, and other needs to be more physically affectionate. “Healthy relationships are built on mutual caretaking,” she says.(Related: This Common Thing Happens When a Couple Stops Having Sex)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

One person wants spontaneous sex. The other wants to schedule sex.

“The spontaneous partner associates good sex with ‘when-you-feel-like-it’ approach,” says Robert Taibbi, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and is author of Doing Couples Therapy. On the flip, some like to put it on the calendar.The other partner says spontaneity on midnight on a Tuesday just doesn’t work when you have to get up early in the morning, they can’t relax because the kids are around, or they like being able to do some prepping,” says Taibbi. These couples should find a middle ground and find the best time to have sex. “They need to find some combination that is win-win,” he says.(Related: Better Sex and More Intimacy8 Habits of Connected Couples)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

We aren’t in sync

“One wants to talk dirty and the other is disgusted. One wants to try different things and the other likes to keep it routine,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working It Out Together. “Often couples associate love with wanting the same things.” So, if your partner wants something other than what you want, it can be scary. For example, sex is like eating. “You can have different tastes and appetites but still find a way to enjoy eating together,” she says.Tessina also helps couples talk about their likes and dislikes, without making the other wrong. “Almost always, sexual differences can be bridged with a little of what one partner wants and some of what the other partner wants,” she says. “They can even grow to enjoy each other’s favourite things.”(Related: 14 Ways to Enjoy Better Sex as You Age)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Our sex life is changing

With life comes changes like illness, disability, aging, weight differences, and more. You may need to modify your sex life to go with your new normal. “You and your partner need to learn to adapt and grow as you go through life changes, creating new excitement and renewing energy,” says Tessina. “Tools, sex toys, lubricants, videos, and other aids can help you and your partner enhance your sexual connection and explore new options. Do whatever you can to keep your physical connection alive.”(Related: Everything You Need to Know About Lube)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

We’ve lost our passion

“Turning the heat back on takes an understanding of why the flames went out,” says Tom Murray, PhD, LMFT, marriage and family therapist, who practices in Greensboro, North Carolina. “A big reason for wildfires at the beginning of a relationship is the context; not much was known between you and everything was a mystery.” Now, everyday life stressors like jobs, kids, and a mortgage change everything. “Change the context and reignite the flames,” he says. Try communicating more, putting your phones down, and getting the TV out of the bedroom.(Related: Alright, Tell Me More About Tantric Sex)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

I have no desire to get frisky

When you have little or low drive for sex, try going back to the basics. “Couples should broaden their definition of sex to include activity other than intercourse,” says Mindy Utay, LCSW, JD, a licensed clinical social worker who practices in New York. “It can be any physical contact between partners done lovingly and tenderly.” Utay suggests holding hands, stroking one another, kissing, or just being in each other’s arms. “It takes the pressure off the act of sex and reimagines it,” she says. “This often opens the door to more physical contact and a gradual reconnection through physicality and eroticism.”(Related: 31 Natural Libido Boosters to Help You Have Better Sex)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

Our libidos aren’t in tune

“Couples struggle with not having a desire for a sexual connection at the same time,” says Laura Heck, co-host of Marriage Therapy Radio, who has a private practice in Salt Lake City. You can waste a lot of time waiting to always be on the same page, though. Instead, she suggests that you create sexual desire. “If you know your partner has a tried and true sexual arousal in the evening after the kids are put to bed, then start priming your mind and body earlier in the day,” says Heck.(Related: Whats Normal When it Comes to the Female Libido?)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

We argue. Then I don’t want sex.

You argue about how messy the house is or how they forgot to pay the water bill. This can kill your interest in sex. “Even if one partner can ‘forget’ about the bickering, the other may still be angry,” says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of the forthcoming Joy From Fear. “Many a partner has said to me, ‘I can’t believe he would even think I’d want to have sex after such horrible behaviour.” Manly suggests you both need to make the effort to be more respectful and kind to one another first, then sexual intimacy can grow and blossom.(Related: How to Stop Fighting So Much With Your Partner, According to Relationship Experts)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

I always have to initiate

Resentment happens if one partner feels like they always have to initiate intimacy. “They feel that if they didn’t initiate, nothing would ever happen,” says Lesli Doares, a marriage consultant and coach with a private practice in Cary, North Carolina, and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work. “They’re the one being set up for rejection.” That leaves one partner feeling undesired. “The person with the lower libido becomes the gatekeeper for sex,” says Doares. Adopt a willing mindset and initiate at least once a month, she suggests. Then honour that commitment.(Related: 4 Ways to Have a More Lustful Marriage)sex problems marriage counsellors hear

They won’t try things I want to do

Sometimes a partner only fixates on his or her wants and needs. It does no good when one partner’s needs are ignored. “No one should feel forced to do something that they’re uncomfortable with,” says Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist and relationship coach who practices in McLean, Virginia. Coleman suggests that couples discuss their feelings and reach a compromise. “Both of you should be satisfied and motivated to have a fulfilling sex life,” she says.Next: 13 Sex Problems You Should Take Seriously

The post 16 Sex Problems Marriage Counsellors Hear About All the Time appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

9 Things That Happen to Your Body If You Stop Having Sex Tue, 27 Oct 2020 09:48:01 +0000 A bout of celibacy won’t have lasting effects on your overall health—but you still could be in for some unexpected changes.

The post 9 Things That Happen to Your Body If You Stop Having Sex appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

what happens to your body when you stop having sex

You may feel a change in your libido

How not having sex affects your body can vary based on your health, how old you are, and even what kind of sex you were having. But if youre generally healthy and have only stopped having sex because of a lack of a partner or a conscious choice (and not some other physical reason), there are some changes you could experience. You may feel either a loss of sex driveor an increase in libido!For some people who refrain from sex, they begin to feel more sluggish, with less vitality and hunger for sex, says Sari Cooper, LCSW, certified sex therapist. Out of sight out of mind is how some of my clients describe the scenario. Because its not on your radar, you may tune out sexual desires; but for others, not having sex could make it even more desirable. You might not be thinking about it as much, or you might be thinking about it all the time, says Lauren Streicher, MD, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. Its really variable.(Related: 13 Sex Problems You Should Take Seriously)rainy day | prevent worries

You may feel more down in the dumps

Sex is part physical, part mental. When people have sex, they’re usually having skin-to-skin contact, and this kind of contact is the first primal way we as humans get comforted [as babies with our mothers], Cooper says. Sexual connection give partners loads of skin-to-skin caressing and touch, and can help to regulate one anothers moods, through the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.Dr. Streicher also says sex can help boost your spirits through mood-elevating endorphins. Without the benefit of these natural pick-me-ups, you might be prone to feeling lowbut that doesnt mean youll become clinically depressed. Although studies have shown that depression and a lack of sex are linked, this reflects an association, not cause and effect. If you are a healthy person and you stop having sex, youre not going to become depressed because of it, Dr. Streicher says. You might be depressed because your boyfriend cheated on you and your life is in the toilet, but the specific lack of sexual activity is in no way going to cause [clinical] depression, even though theres a high correlation.(Related: 6 Ways to Fight Anxiety and Depression During Covid-19)grapefruit | vaginal health | myths

Your vaginal walls may weaken

In women entering menopause, not having vaginal penetration can be a use it or lose it type of thing. Without regular frequency of intercourse as you get older the walls of your vagina thin out and can lead to painful sex when you finally get back into the sack, Cooper says.According to the North American Menopause Society, regular intercourse is important for vaginal health after menopause. Older women who are not having intercourse are more likely to have thinning and drying of the tissues, Dr. Streicher says. A big part of this is blood flow, and we know increased activity increases blood flow.(Related: 9 Questions About Menopause Youve Been too Embarrassed to Ask)female lubricant | sex

You may have less lubrication

For older women, the vagina can also have a hard time getting lubricated when you do start having intercourse again. As with thinning of the vaginal walls, this happens as women age because of the lack of hormones such as estrogen. If you take a young woman whos 20 or 30 years old shes going to have plenty of estrogen around to make sure those tissues stay healthy, elastic, and lubricated when shes not having sex, Dr. Streicher says. If you take someone whos 60 and has no estrogen, she has lost that piece of it.Cooper says its important to keep things flowing, even in the absence of a partner: The vaginal lubrication lessens with age, and if you’re not being turned on through self-pleasure, erotic books, videos, or a partner, the juice can begin to lessen more quickly.(Related: Everything You Need to Know About Lube)sex | how to orgasm | when you stop having sex

You may feel moreor lessstressed

Like the other psychological effects of a lack of sex, this one is tricky. People who are less stressed tend to have more sex, but again its an association, not cause and effect, Dr. Streicher says. That said, if sex is a stress reliever for you, not having could it, in fact, cause an increase in your stress level.One small study from Scotland even showed that blood pressure reactivity to stress was lower among people who had had intercourse than those who abstained. But, Dr. Steicher says, for some women sex is actually stressful for a variety of reasons: It may be painful, or it could be one more thing on their to-do list.(Related: Why Exercise Can Be the Most Effective Way to Relieve Stress)UTI | when stop having sex | midsection of young woman wearing underwear

You may lower your risk of UTIs

It might not be a surprise that the risk of sexually transmitted infections go down if youre not having sex, but the rates of urinary tract infections may decrease as well. But this depends on the kind of sex youre having. Its intercourse thats responsible for potentially increasing the risk of recurrent bladder infections, Dr. Streicher says, due to the spread of bacteria that can occur. Eighty per cent of UTIs in premenopausal women occur within 24 hours of having sex, and as the journal American Family Physician stated, Frequency of sexual intercourse is the strongest predictor of recurrent urinary tract infections. If youre not having intercourse, you avoid these risks.(Related: 7 Symptoms of a Urinary Tract Infection Everyone Should Know)Woman is Having Stomach Ache or Menstrual Period, Close-Up Portrait of Young Woman is Suffering From Abdominal Pain at Her Home. Healthcare and Medicine Concept.

You may have worse menstrual cramps

Surprisingly, sex may help alleviate cramps during your period. Although it hasnt been well studied, Dr. Streicher says the rationale is sound. The uterus is a muscle and many women will actually have a uterine contraction when they orgasm, which will cause the blood to expel more quickly, which will in turn decrease menstrual cramps, she explains. Also, there may be an increase in endorphins, which also will help with menstrual cramps. This is an unexpected benefit you lose if youre not having sexbut fortunately, this one doesnt require a partner to remedy.(Related: 8 Unexpected Ways to Alleviate Menstrual Cramps)stop having sex | Frustrated female student sitting at the desk with a huge pile of study books in university library, young asian college student at hard exam preparation in study hall looking tired and weary

You may become less intelligent

OK, not exactly, but two very interesting studies in rodents, one from the University of Maryland and one from South Korea, found that having sex improved their brain function and the growth of brain cells. Much more research is needed, though, before we can say definitely that not having sex means youre missing out on this mental boost. This goes under the heading of interesting preliminary research, but proves nothing, Dr. Streicher says.(Related: 38 Habits to Start Today to Keep Your Brain Healthy at 80)01_sex_foods_that_might_kill_

You retain the physical capacity for sex

Although some groups, such as menopausal women, may have long-term effects from not having sex, generally your body remembers how to do it when you jump back in the saddle. I think thats reassuring to people to say, Hey, weve been on hiatus but its not like its going to shrivel up and die, Dr. Streicher says. Things are going to work just fine. If they worked before theyre going to keep on working, even if youve had a break.Next: Why Covid-19 Is Killing Your Sex Drive

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The One Healthy Apple Recipe You Need to Use Up Leftover Apples Mon, 26 Oct 2020 15:00:26 +0000 Registered dietitian and plant-based diet specialist Cynthia Sass shares one of her favorite healthy apple recipes. Vegan, gluten free, and low in sugar, this is a great way to get more vitamin C, fibre, and other key nutrients found in baked apples.

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This is the time of year to enjoy all the fresh varieties of apples that will never taste better than they do right now. It’s also the best time to make healthy apple recipes. And fortunately for apple lovers, getting your fill of this fall fruit can offer some pretty impressive health benefits.One medium raw apple contains 8.4 mg of immune-supporting vitamin C, which is about 10 percent of the daily value (DV). It has smaller percentages of vitamins E and K, B vitamins, and potassium. One apple also provides at least four grams of fibre. The soluble fibre found in apples has been shown to promote healthy weight loss, support immune function, lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood sugar regulation, and reduce inflammation, according to a 2016 study in Current Atherosclerosis Reports.(Related: 10 Foods with More Fibre Than Broccoli)An April 2020 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound that apples may also be potent protectors of brain health. In a 20-year follow up of more than 2,800 older adults, those who consumed high amounts of high flavonoid foods, including apples, were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias compared with those who had low intakes of flavonoid-rich foods.(Related: How the MIND Diet Can Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimers Disease)

What to do with lots of apples

If you have a bounty of apples, there are plenty of healthy apple recipes to help you incorporate them into your daily eating routine. Apart from snacking, apples make a great addition to savory recipes, from garden salads and slaws to cooked dishes, like braised cabbage and stir-fries.If you want to use up many apples at once, whip up a batch of homemade applesauce. Or, try one of my favorite healthy apple recipes for baked apple slices. They’re delicious straight from the oven, but also can be stored in the fridge for three days, or frozen for a variety of future dishes. They’ll flood your kitchen with the sweet scent of fall, and healthfully satisfy a sweet craving. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.(Related: 13 Surprising Health Benefits of Apples Thatll Have You Eating One a Day)

Cinnamon Spiced Baked Apple Slices

In this simple recipe, I opted for virgin coconut oil in place of butter. In a 2018 BMJ Open study, researchers found that unlike butter, the use of virgin coconut oil resulted in positive effects on blood cholesterol, including increasing “good” heart-protective HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, without increasing “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Virgin coconut oil, which has not been refined, bleached, or deodorized, is also rich in antioxidants known to fend off cell damage and aging.In addition to its characteristic fall flavor, maple syrup also provides at least 24 different types of antioxidants, as well as key nutrients. About one-third cup of maple syrup provides around 30 percent of the adequate intake (AI) for manganese, a mineral that supports healthy bones and collagen production. Cinnamon, another high antioxidant food, has been shown to help regulate blood sugar, and boost satiety.


  • 4 whole medium apples, sliced into 8 wedges (use any type you enjoy)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • teaspoon apple pie spice
  • teaspoon cinnamon


In a large bowl stir together maple syrup, coconut oil, apple pie spice, and cinnamon. Slice the apples, place in the bowl, and toss to coat thoroughly with the spiced mixture. Place the wedges on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 15 minutes. Flip the wedges and bake for an additional 15 minutes.Serve immediately as is, or garnish with a crumble topping made from a combination of almond butter, maple syrup, and rolled oats.To freeze what you don’t use just place the cooled apple slices on a baking sheet so they don’t touch, and place in the freezer for four hours to overnight. Transfer frozen slices to freezer bags, remove as much air as possible, seal, and stash in the freezer for up to six months.Add the frozen wedges to smoothies, thaw and add to plant-based yogurt, or warm on the stovetop to serve with oatmeal or plant-based ice cream.Next: 25 Unbelievably Delicious Apple Recipes to Make This Fall

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11 Health “Myths” That Are Actually True Mon, 26 Oct 2020 04:00:02 +0000 Myths, half-truths, and old wives’ tales related to health are common and may be passed on from generation to generation.

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healthy myths

Make sure your health knowledge is up to date.

The truth is some of the things you heard about your health when you were growing up are actually true. Others, not so much. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction when it comes to health information because sometimes new studies come out that contradictor at least shed new light onprevious research, particularly when it comes to food and nutrition. In other cases, there simply isn’t good scientific evidence one way or another to support or discount an old wives’ tale.Therefore, to help you separate fact from fiction, we identified health myths that evidence suggests have at least a grain of truth.(Related: 59 Rampant Health Myths That Need to Die)Woman holding plastic bag with apples on gray background. Closeup, space for text

True: An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Although eating an apple a day may not keep you from catching a cold, research suggests it is associated with greater health benefits when compared with people who don’t eat them daily. A 2015 study published inJAMA Internal Medicinefound not only were daily apple eaters more likely to “keep the doctor away” with fewer physician visits, but they also used fewer prescription medications compared to non-apple eaters. This type of study, of course, may say something more about the type of people who eat apples daily, rather than the apples themselves. (Although apples do have many health benefits.)Matthew A. Davis, PhD, study co-author, notesapple-eating may be reflective of an overall healthier lifestyle. “There are many other factors exhibited among apple eatersbetter diet and healthier behaviours, for example,” says Davis,associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and University of Michigan Medical School. “When we accounted for these factors, the apple-eating alone does not lead to a reduction in doctor visits. We looked at other medical services andafter taking into consideration healthy behavioursfound that apple eaters used fewer medications. This makes sensea healthy diet is associated with [fewer] health conditions that require medications.”

True: You can catch up on sleep during the weekend

The negative effects of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is well documentedfrom impaired performance and concentration to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even early deathand for a long time, science suggested you couldn’t “make up” missed sleep. In a 2018 studyin theJournal of Sleep Research, Swedish researchers found that people who slept for five hours or less each night had a 65 percent greater chance of early deathcompared with those who regularly got six or seven hours. However, they also foundthat people who slept five hours a night on weekdays, but longer on weekends, lived just as long as those who slept longer every night.”You don’t make up missed sleep in hours, but you do make up missed sleep in recovery value,”saysTorbjrn kerstedt, MD, lead author of the study and a senior professor at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden. As for how many hours of sleep a night you should get, aim for six to eight hours, but keep in mind that quantity doesn’t always add up to quality. “People have different sleep mechanisms,” says Dr. Akerstedt. “Some sleep more efficiently than others. The best criterion for sufficient sleep is the absence of fatigue or sleepiness during the daytime.”(Related: 10 Science-Backed Ways to Get More Shut-Eye)health myths

True: Eating late will make you gain weight

Late-night eaters tend to weigh more and have a higher body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) than those who eat earlier in the day. A 2019 study in the Journal of Obesitysuggests that having a late dinner or bedtime snack is associated with a higher probability of being overweight or obese. Specifically, researchers found nighttime eating behaviours, including late dinner and having a bedtime snack, with skipping breakfast, was associated with a higher risk of being overweight compared with those who did not engage in night eating. The researchers believe this is because eating at night can disrupt your circadian rhythms and your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels.(Related: The Trick to Stop Your Nighttime Stress-Eating Habit, According to Science)health myths

True: Going outside without your jacket may give you a cold

A 2015 animal study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesshows that immune cells in your nose and upper airway may not function as well in cooler temperatures. Plus, viruses can become more virulent in the cold. That’s because cold weather makes the outer membrane of the flu virus solidify, so the germ becomes more durable and easier to transmit, according to the researchers. Once it enters your respiratory tract, the gel coating liquefies and the virus is ready to wreak havoc on your body. Will you immediately fall ill if you go outside without a coat? Maybe not, but keeping yourself warm may help you fight off viruses more effectively.(Related: 5 Cold and Flu Prevention Tips Mom Never Told You)health myths

True: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes

Actually, this is a partial myth: Sitting close to the TV seems to be relatively safe, and research suggests the only potential risks are eye strain and fatigue. However, staring at your smartphone may cause some damage. A study published in 2018 in Scientific Reportsthat looked at laboratory-grown cells suggested that the blue light from a smartphone or computer might harm cells in theretina. Other scientists worry about the potential impact on children, in particular, because of their early exposure. In a 2015 study of 350 kids published inPediatrics,half had their own television and three-fourths their own mobile device by the age of four. Nearly all the children in the study used mobile devices, and most started using them before age one. More study is needed to determine if there are eye-health risks of the light exposure in children.(Related: This Is Exactly What Blue Light Is Doing To Your Health)health myths

True: Spicy foods may lead to weight loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, eating spicy foods that contain capsaicin may help. A 2017 animal study inBioscience Reportssuggests that the capsaicin in chili peppers may help with weight loss by encouraging thermogenesisthe process of creating heat from burning fat. After the researchers added capsaicin to the high-fat diet of mice, they found capsaicin prevented weight gain by turning on thermogenesis in the body. Furthermore, mice from the study did not gain weight even when fed an unhealthy diet high in fat. However, it’s important to note that this study was conducted in mice and not humans. Therefore, the findings may not be directly applicable.(Related: 10 Signs Youre Sabotaging Your Weight Loss)health myths

True: Your allergies will disappear at the first frost

This “myth” is true, but only if you’re allergic to fall allergensnamely, ragweed. (Depending on your location, ragweed season may last six to 10 weeks, peaking in mid-September.) The good news is that cold temperatures will kill ragweed. The bad news is that allergies can still persist if you’re allergic to something that you can be exposed to during the winter, such as Christmas trees, mold, or dust mites. Even the cold itself can cause hives and swelling if you have a rare syndrome called cold urticaria.(Related: The Worst Canadian Cities for Allergies)health myths

True: Pickle juice alleviates muscle cramps

A 2010 study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercisesuggested that pickle juice may be better for resolving muscle cramps than water. In the study, the researchers induced cramps in 10 people who were already dehydrated. Those who drank about 74 milliliters of pickle juice (about 2.5 ounces) had a shorter cramp duration than those who drank water (49 seconds vs. 85 seconds).The researchers aren’t clear on why this occurs, but they theorizethat the pickle juice causes a muscular reflex when it hits the back of your throat that turns off misfiring neurons throughout the body and therefore, the cramp. The vinegar may be responsible for this phenomenon, and other researchers believe that mustard can have the same effect.(Related: Natural Home Remedies for Muscle Cramps)health myths

True: Exercise makes you smarter

It’s not just your body that benefits from exercise; it’s also your brain.A molecule called irisin, which the body produces during endurance exercise, is credited for the brain benefits of exercise. When levels of irisin rise, genes related to learning and memory are activated, and the expression of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) increases, creating new neurons, a 2019 study in Nature Medicine suggests. This may also lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as improve your critical thinkingnot to mention your mood and stress levels.(Related: Why Exercise Can Be the Most Effective Way to Relieve Stress)health myths

True: When it comes to your brain, use it or lose it

Constantly challenging your brain may help stave off cognitive impairment and dementia. A 2017 study in PLOS Onesuggests that playing video games may improve brain function and increase gray matter in the hippocampusthe area of the brain thought to be the center of emotion and memory in older adults, ages 55 to 75. Those who played on their game console 30 minutes every day, for five days a week, over six months experienced an increase in gray matter in their hippocampus and cerebellum, along with improvements in their short-term memory.(Related: 10 Early Signs of Alzheimers Every Adult Should Know)health myths

True: Carrots are good for your eyes

Although carrots may not improve your vision, research suggests that they can help maintain it. The reason lies with beta carotene, a carotenoid (or pigment) that the body converts to vitamin A. Your body uses vitamin A to build proteins for eye cells; if you have too little of it, you might even suffer from night blindness. Furthermore, a 2015 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that people who ate high levels of carotenoids had a 40 percent lower risk of developing advanced macular degeneration, the most common cause of age-related blindness. Don’t like carrots? Sweet potatoes and orange peppers, as well as dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are also rich in carotenoids.Next: 22 Myths Gynecologists Want You to Ignore

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Could You Have Rosacea? Here Are the Symptoms and Treatments Fri, 23 Oct 2020 13:42:22 +0000 This skin condition can cause you to have persistent redness on your face, including red spots or bumps and flushing of the skin. Here are the symptoms, treatments, and home remedies for rosacea.

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Everyone gets red in the face from time to time, whether from heat, sunburn, or blushing from embarrassment. But if your face is persistently red, it could be a skin condition called rosacea.”Rosacea is a chronic skin condition characterized by redness and bumps on the face,” says Channa Ovits, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Westmed Medical Group in Westchester, New York. “Rosacea is common, affecting about 5 to 10 percent of the population, or at least 16 million Americans.”For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, rosacea most frequently occurs in middle-aged, fair-skinned women, but it can affect people of all ages and all skin types. And although it isn’t life-threatening, rosacea can do a number on your quality of life.In one 2019 survey from the National Rosacea Society, more than 88 percent of people surveyed said their rosacea had attracted unwanted attention, and two-thirds said they avoided social situations because of their condition.But there is hope. “Getting control of rosacea will take time and effort, but will allow you the freedom to feel more confident in your skin,” Dr. Ovits says.Read on for more about rosacea, and how you can feel comfortable showing your face again.(Related: What You Need to Know About Rosacea, Straight From a Dermatologist)

Rosacea signs and symptoms

Rosacea is an inflammatory condition that has four main subtypes.Flushing and facial redness:Many people who have rosacea often blush or flush, with their cheeks turning red. This redness and warmth comes and goes and is often an early sign of rosacea. This is also known as erythematotelangiectatic rosacea.Bumps and pimples:Papulopustular rosacea is characterized by spots on the mouth, nose, and forehead that look like acne breakouts. They’re usually red, solid bumps or pus-filled pimples. The irritation is caused by inflammation.Thickened skin:Skin on the face, particularly around the nose, can thicken and become bumpy. Known as phymatous rosacea, this is most common in men.Irritated eyes:Also called ocular rosacea, your eyes may be watery and bloodshot and your eyelids can be swollen.Additional symptoms may include burning, swelling, dryness, and stinging.”People with rosacea can have any combination of those symptoms, and don’t typically have all of them,” says Dr. Ovits. “The physiological cause is not perfectly clear, though the inflamed blood vessels are responsible for a lot of the symptoms, including the flushing and visible blood vessels.”Over time, the redness can become more permanent in the center of the face.rosacea on face

Rosacea triggers

Rosacea on cheeks often appears as sudden, red flushing, and is often triggered by something in the environment. “Those triggers can be spicy foods, red wine, hot food, changes of emotion, changes in temperature, hormonal fluctuations,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut and an associate clinical professor in the department of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.Some people might have very specific triggers like citrus foods, caffeine, or even tomatoes. Stress can also bring on flushing. “People will be, like, ‘I’m in a board meeting and I’m presenting,’ and they’re stressed or they’re hot, and they feel their face flush,” she says.In a vicious cycle, when emotional triggers bring on redness, the embarrassment it creates can make matters even worse. “As strong emotion is a trigger for rosacea, it tends to flare at the worst possible moments, causing significant distress and self-consciousness,” Dr. Ovits says.(Related: Did you know sugar can cause skin inflammation?)

Rosacea causes

The underlying reason people get rosacea is poorly understood. “There is no clear cause of rosacea, but it is likely a combination of hereditary and environmental factors,” Dr. Ovits says. “Contributing factors include overly sensitive blood vessels, alterations in the immune response of the skin, as well as a mite that lives on everyone’s skin, which can cause an inflammatory response for some people.”This mite, called Demodex folliculorum, has been found in high numbers on the skin of rosacea patients; experts aren’t sure why.There also may be an association with menopause. “Although men and women get it, it could be a hormonally mediated thing,” says Dr. Gohara. “One of the reasons why people may notice it more in their fifties and forties is because that’s when women have hot flashes. There are drastic fluctuations where they’re feeling okay, and then the next minute they’re boiling hot and their skin flushes.”Genetic factors may also play a role. “The prevalence of rosacea in individuals of northern European descent suggests a genetic predisposition that may be triggered by ultraviolet light exposure,” says dermatologist Jason A. Clark, MD, adjunct assistant professor of dermatology at Emory University.But people of other backgrounds can have rosacea, too. It may be that the condition is just harder to see on darker skin. “We have traditionally identified rosacea in patients of northern European descent,” says Dr. Clark. “But new data suggests we have been missing individuals of Asian, Latinx, and African ancestry suffering with this vexing skin condition.”Although rosacea is inflammatory, there’s no evidence to suggest it’s an autoimmunedisease, in which the body may be attacking itself.”There’s been a lot of speculation about rosacea and its associations, but nothing that’s been scientifically proven,” says Dr. Gohara, echoing the results of a study published in 2016 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. “People think it could look like an autoimmune condition, but there’s been no proven association between rosacea and an autoimmune tendency as of yet.”(Related: What Your Skin Reveals About Your Health)

Rosacea treatments

Fortunately, there are new and effective prescription treatments for rosacea. “Topical and oral therapies, as well as laser therapies, can treat rosacea,” Dr. Ovits says. “Topical treatments address the underlying mechanisms of rosacea by decreasing inflammation, decreasing mite burden, or shrinking down some of those dilated blood vessels to decrease redness.”Oral treatments include antibiotics that work as anti-inflammatory agents for the skin, similarly to some acne medications.For a more permanent solution to redness, “laser treatments that specifically target blood vessels can greatly reduce both background redness and visible blood vessels,” Dr. Ovits says. “Rosacea is chronic so it is not cured, but it can be controlled.”(Related: 14 Food Rules of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet)

Rosacea home remedies

Avoiding triggers is arguably the best way to avoid flares, “though this is far easier said than done,” admits Dr. Ovits. Some things, like temperature changes, you can’t really avoid. But if, for example, you know a particular spicy food brings it on, don’t eat it. In general, though, Dr. Gohara says there’s not a specific “anti-rosacea diet,” besides eating healthy.In addition, take care of your face with a very gentle rosacea-specific skin-care routine. Dr. Gohara recommends using non-soap, pH-neutral cleansers, and skipping the chemical peels, anti-aging creams, and fun skin masks.Something you can use? “Conceal with green pigmented makeup to counteract redness,” suggests Dr. Ovits. (It doesn’t actually look green on your skin, but has a green base.)And don’t forget sunscreen, both doctors say, as the sun can be a trigger.(Related: The Benefits of a Stripped Down Skin-Care Routine)

When to see a dermatologist

Although you can use these lifestyle changes to help calm your rosacea, it’s still best to see a dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment.”So many patients come in and say, ‘I have sensitive skin,’ ” says Dr. Gohara. “That’s a euphemism for something else that’s going on. You need to tease through that and, generally, a dermatologist is the best person to do that.”Plus, seeing a doctor is important because you may need prescription meds in addition to lifestyle changes. “Prescription products from your dermatologist can help tremendously, in a way that over-the-counter medications simply cannot,” says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. “Nothing beats expert evaluation. If you cannot fix an issue yourself, take comfort in knowing that dermatologists have spent over 13 years in school to help you.”Next: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to Changing Up Your Skin Care Routine

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Vaginal Dryness: It’s More Common Than You Think Thu, 22 Oct 2020 21:51:25 +0000 PRESENTED
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What causes vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness is often connected to the decline of the female hormone estrogen, which can be triggered by childbirth, breastfeeding, and most commonly, menopause. Other causes of vaginal dryness include some medications, stress, and even intense exercise. Its a completely normal, and even common occurrence, but that doesnt mean you have to live in discomfort.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include vaginal irritation, itching or discomfort, painful or more frequent urination, and urinary tract infections. You may feel symptoms all the time, or only sometimes, such as during or after sex, when using tampons or at the end of your menstrual cycle.Despite affecting nearly half of menopausal women, vaginal dryness is a topic that rarely gets the attention it deserves. Women may be embarrassed to discuss it with their health-care provider and end up leaving their symptoms untreated. They suffer alone and in silence.What’s more, vaginal dryness is also associated with a lower sex drive and difficulty with arousal and orgasm. This can lead to discomfort, pain, tearing or bleeding during sex, and ultimately an avoidance of sex altogether. Not surprisingly, this can negatively impact a relationship.

Finding relief for vaginal dryness

The skin of the vulva is very delicate and dryness can lead to uncomfortable rubbing and chafing. In some cases, everyday things like walking, exercising or sitting for prolonged periods could cause soreness and discomfort if the area is not lubricated.There’s no reason you have to live with vaginal dryness. Over-the-counter vaginal lubricants or vaginal moisturizers can help to relieve mild to moderate dryness by supplementing the body’s natural moisture. Whether you need continuous hydration, extra lubrication during intimacy or occasional moisture to soothe outside skin surrounding the vagina, Replens has you covered as the #1 Physician Recommended Vaginal Lubricant in Canada.Replens Long Lasting Vaginal Moisturizer is clinically tested to help prevent dryness from recurring. It delivers long lasting relief and supplements the bodys natural lubrication that lasts up to 3 days per application.For daily or as-needed external moisture, use Replens Moisture Restore External Comfort Gel. It helps soothe irritation of the outside skin surrounding the vagina so normal activities like walking and exercising are as comfortable as they should be.For improved comfort during intimacy, use Replens Silky Smooth Personal Lubricant. This premium, silicon-based formula lubricates for continuous pleasure. The Medical Post and Profession Sant 2020 Survey on OTC Counselling and Recommendations

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Adaptogens for Fertility: What You Need to Know Thu, 22 Oct 2020 20:11:27 +0000 Adaptogens are getting a lot of attention in the fertility space. But are they worth the hype? Experts weigh in.

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For some women, getting pregnant is hard. Roughly one in six couples in Canada experience infertility. Conventional fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are among the most well-known strategies to help increase your chance of conceiving, but adaptogenic plants (commonly known as adaptogens) are also gaining a lot of attention in the fertility space as a natural approach to better your odds. We asked experts to set the record straight about adaptogens and whether or not they are beneficial for fertility.

What are adaptogens?

Adaptogens are non-toxic, plant-based agents that assist in your body’s ability to respond to stress. Classified as “natural health products” under Health Canada, these herbal remedies can be purchased at your local health food store.

Why everyone is talking about adaptogens

Dr. Tracy Malone, a naturopathic doctor and cofounder of Conceive Health (a naturopathic clinic focused on fertility), speculates that patients struggling with infertility tend to gravitate towards adaptogens because they are touted as a natural solution to help modulate stress and curb symptoms of depression and anxiety.Fertility patients tend to suffer from significantly higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety, says Malone. “They are continuously disrupted with early morning appointments, injections, hormones, expense, uncertainty, and so much testing.”

What the research says

Malone says that research has shown that stress levels in patients dealing with infertility are extremely high. A study published in 2018 in Science Dailyshowed that high levels of stress are associated with lower odds of conception for women.Dr. Sony Sierra, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at TRIO Fertility in Toronto, agrees. “I do believe there is a relationship between stress and infertility,” she says.Stress is our bodys response to feeling threatened or harmed in some way. “With respect to the reproductive function in situations of stress, some women report that their cycles become irregular,” says Sierra. “Ovulatory function may be affected, therefore making it difficult to conceive during that time.”Ultimately, every woman’s stress level and ability to cope with stress is different.(Related: Am I Crazy for Trying to Get Pregnant During a Pandemic?)

Can certain adaptogens increase fertility?

Malone says yes, it’s possible. She often suggests adaptogens for patients preparing for fertility treatment to help assist with chronic stress patterns, such as chronic anxiety or a general lack of daily self-care around food, sleep, exercise, and mindfulness.For instance, ashwagandha can help modulate cortisol production and curb anxiety, she says. “Most patients are quite anxious, and this plant is safe to take during preconception.” It can also help improve motility, structure, and function of sperm in males, which is an issue in up to 40 to 50 percent of cases of infertility.Licorice is useful in cases of extreme fatigue or burnout. But if you have pre-existing high blood pressure, Malone warns to be cautious when using this plant. Licorice can gently raise blood pressure, and if taken in large doses, can deplete potassium levels, she says.And, typically, “I’ll use Maca, known as Peruvian ginseng, for patients who have low hormone levels and low libido,” Malone adds.While adaptogens can be helpful during conventional fertility treatment in some patients, some can be counterproductive, so it’s important to judge their use on a case-by-case basis.And Malone says you should always consult with a licensed infertility specialist before trying adaptogens, to ensure they are compatible with any fertility medication you may already be taking.(Related: 10 Facts Every Woman Needs to Know About Fertility)

When is the right time to consider natural treatment for infertility?

Sierra says natural treatments can be seen as assisted reproductive therapy to conventional fertility treatment. Speak with naturopathic doctors who have endocrinology expertise and are familiar with fertility treatments, says Sierra.”At TRIO Fertility, we have naturopathic doctors on-site, and patients are encouraged to consult with one while waiting to see an infertility specialist and during their treatment at any phase,” she says. “Especially in cases where women have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that’s common among women of reproductive age, or reached an advanced maternal age (35 years or older), the addition of naturopathic intervention has been found to be very helpful.”Next: Everything You Need to Know About Vaginal Discharge

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We Found the Absolute Best Pyjamas to Keep Cool at Night Thu, 22 Oct 2020 19:09:13 +0000 These techie pjs from a Montreal company work like active wear.

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Staying cool is key to getting a good nights sleep. Too bad your hormones never got the memo.The often wild fluctuations of hormones that come with perimenopause (which most women enter sometime in their 40s, but it can start earlier) and menopause can bring on damp, clammy night sweats. Synthetic fabrics like polyester blends can be straight-up sweat traps, and even breathable cotton isnt great at wicking away perspiration. So it may be time to upgrade your pjs so they work like activewear, pulling away wetness, odour and bacteria from your skins surface.(Related: The Best Loungewear to Cozy Up In at Home This Fall)Lusom pyjamas | best pyjamas | best pjsEnter clever Montreal brand Lusom, which combines techie fabric with pretty details in traditional pj cuts. Lusoms trademarked fabric draws perspiration and bacteria away from the body through its capillary-like structure, and spreads it quickly over the outer surface of the material so that it evaporates almost instantly. These pjs work like activewear, but look like million bucks.Now that you know about the best pyjamas, check out 10 science-backed ways to get more shut-eye.

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3 Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes This Nutritionist Swears By Thu, 22 Oct 2020 17:12:06 +0000 These homemade salad dressing recipes don't have added sugar or preservatives.

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Salad dressings are a mixed bag. They can be incredibly healthful, or loaded with unwanted ingredients like sweeteners, fillers, and preservatives. Sadly, the latter is true for many bottled brands. Among the wall of options available at my local market, there are only a few pre-made dressings I will personally use or recommend.Products that do earn my approval have high quality ingredient lists that read like a recipe I could have made at home; however, they can also be quite pricey. Fortunately, whipping up do-it-yourself versions in your kitchen is much easier and more affordable than you might think.

How to make salad dressing

I have three favourite simple salad dressing recipes. Each offers a unique flavour profile and texture, and all three can be used in a variety of ways.For example, I use my mustardy balsamic vinaigrette to marinate fresh veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The seasoned tahini can be drizzled over oven-roasted veggies or potatoes, or used as a dip with raw veggies. I also like to toss my avocado dressing with shredded or spiralized veggies for a simple side dish, or add a dollop to lentil or black bean soup.Because the ingredients are ultra fresh, I don’t recommend making larger batches to store. For this reason, the recipes call for smaller portions and are meant to be made for immediate use. However, if you’re cooking for two you can double the ingredients, quadruple for four, and so on. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.Here’s how to make them and why each adds not just flavour, but also a dose of health protection to your dish.healthy salad dressing recipes | balsamic salad dressing

Mustardy Balsamic Vinaigrette

We’ve long known that extra virgin olive oil is heart healthy. But a 2019 study published in Revue Neurologique suggests it also protects the brain and may help prevent late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.As for vinegar, its acetic acid, which provides the sour aroma and flavour, has also been shown to help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and support healthy weight management, according to a 2017 study in Food Chemistry.I love this dressing on a traditional garden salad. For an entre salad, toss the dressing with leafy greens, add other vegetables of your choice, and top with a scoop of lentils for plant protein and fibre-rich energizing carbohydrates. All four of the ingredients in this simple dressing are also antioxidant-rich.Servings: 1Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

Instructions:Whisk ingredients together. Transfer to a sealable jar, and shake well just before serving.Tip: If you want to add another healthy fat source to your salad, like nuts or avocado, omit the oil in the dressing. The vinegar, mustard, and herbs alone will nicely coat and season your greens.(Related: The Safest Cooking Oils to Use for 16 Different Types of Meals)healthy salad dressing recipes | tahini salad dressing

Seasoned Tahini Dressing

The star ingredient in this dressing is tahini, which is made from ground sesame seeds. A two tablespoon portion contains five grams of protein and three grams of fibre.It’s also nutrient-rich, providing copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and thiamin, in addition to antioxidants. The phytosterols in tahini have been shown to help improve artery health and lower blood cholesterol, indicates a June 2020 study in Lipids.Tahini is a great option for those with nut allergies or sensitivities (as long as sesame seeds are not an issue), and it’s a creamy plant-based alternative to dairy-based dressings.I love to pair this dressing with spinach or lightly massaged kale, topped with oven-roasted chickpeas.Servings: 1Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions:Stir the lemon juice and maple syrup into the tahini. Slowly add the water and continue to stir to create a uniform pourable consistency. (Note: The tahini may appear to thicken at first, but continue to add the water a little at a time and stir until smooth.)Fold in the garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add a little more of any of the seasonings if needed, based on your taste and heat preference.(Related: This Tahini Beet Green Bowl Is a No-Brainer Weekday Meal) healthy salad dressing recipes | avocado salad dressing

Avocado Herb Dressing

Avocado is rich in antioxidants and key nutrients like potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, heart, and muscle function. Eating avocado has also been shown to aid weight control and protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes.While traditional guacamole also makes a fantastic salad dressing, this thinner pureed variation takes on a whole new flavour profile. The aromatic basil combined with the garlic, vinegar, and lemon are light and bright, with just the right amount of mouth-puckering tartness.I love to serve this dressing with butter lettuce, topped with white beans, garnished with a few pumpkin seeds or pomegranate arils.Servings: 1Ingredients:

  • Half of a ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch sea salt

Instructions:Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blend until smooth.Next: Recipes for mushroom boats, a pumpkin spice salad, and the perfect chicken noodle soup.

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Your Guide to a Leak-Free Workout (Yes, We’re Talking About Pee) Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:21:17 +0000 Mild to moderate incontinence is a real issue for lots of women. Here are some tips to ensure you make the right kind of splash in your workout clothes.

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For many early devotees of CrossFit, it became de rigeur to have a wee barf after a workout, a badge of honour that youd worked hard. (Some gyms even still feature posters with a Pukie the Clown mascot.) Then it became pees time to make a splash, with videos of CrossFit championships zeroing in on the puddles around the feet of many of the nonchalant female competitors.Sure, its nice to see women unembarrassed by bodily fluids, but lets not confuse common with normal. Its really not a good sign, says Toronto-based pelvic floor physiotherapist Michele Fraser. Its telling me that your pelvic floor is off balance and experiencing some form of dysfunction and can use some assistance.While the term athletic incontinence is gaining a bit of steam, this kind of peeing falls under the stress urinary incontinence umbrella that is, sudden peeing brought on by exercise, coughing or laughing. Its not limited to affecting competitive CrossFitters, either, but tennis players, Frisbee chasers, Pilates-doers, basically anyone moving their body.Its largely caused by a weak pelvic floor the hammock of muscles, ligaments and fascia that hangs out just below your bladder. Aging, past or current pregnancies, and being overweight can cause these bungee cords to soften and slacken, and lax bungee cords arent great at keeping stuff locked down.The problem can even be traced to your urethra, says Fraser, which has a mucosal lining that makes the tubes sides stick together. But a lack of estrogen (caused by post-partum hormone fluctuations, or having chemo, or perimenopause, or menopause) causes everything to dry up including the urethra, leaving that crucial seal less Velcro-y and leaving you with leaks.And then theres pelvic organ prolapse, where your bladder (the cystocele form of prolapse), rectum (rectocele), and uterus (uterine) lose their footing and collapse towards and into the vagina. If your bladder prolapses, it will hang below your urethra, not above it (think water in a slumped balloon) and cause both leaking and a feeling of never being empty.(Related: 9 Questions About Menopause Youve Been too Embarrassed to Ask)

Getting some help

Exercise is crucial for our mental and physical health, but dribbles and deluges of pee are a pretty off-putting side effect. So what to do? First, keep a diary of when its happening. Then, make an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist.For your first appointment, expect a lot of awkward questions. I always tell new clients, Listen, I talk about pee, poo and sex all day, says Fraser. Nothing surprises me. Next, theres an internal exam, either inside the vagina or in the anus, or both, so she can map out your pelvic floor, identifying its weakness and its tensions. (This wont happen, obviously, if your examination is virtual, where the assessment will be based on you sharing your symptoms.) Every pelvic floor tells me a different story, she says, with 99 percent of clients presenting with a combo of weak and tense muscles. And then: The Plan.If you were raised on the advice of womens mags to bang out a few simple Kegels at traffic lights, get ready: todays pelvic floor exercises are a whole lot more sophisticated and nuanced. Never mind the ol squeeze-like-youre-stopping-a-pee clunker. One cue Fraser uses, for example: Imagine a flaxseed at the tip of your urethra. Now imagine pulling it up inside, like an elephant drinking water with its trunk.But doing these exercises in combination with other tools, such as using localized estrogen (it comes in cream, tablet and capsule form) to help improve the integrity of the tissue, should help enormously. You can even put a dab of vaginal moisturizer (Fraser likes the brand Damiva, made in Toronto and available at drug stores) at the tip of your urethra to help it close properly. In the meantime, disposable incontinence products and pee-proof undies can help not only keep you from awkward incidents, but be a great way to gauge your progress.A doctor may suggest a pessary as well, a device that is inserted into the vagina to provide a bit of support for the urethra while you exercise. (Picture a bit of scaffolding propping up the Tower of Pisa), and there are surgical options for serious cases.(Related: 5 Yoga Poses that are Better than Kegels)

Just tell me how the hell I can work out

Fraser is very clear that there is no easy do-this/dont do that solution here, and that its not the exercise necessarily, but how youre doing it, and if your core and intra-abdominal muscles (which are intimately connected to your pelvic floor) are being used properly. That said(Related: 4 Key Body PartsIncluding the PelvisYou Should Exercise Now)

Sure, wear whatever

Typically, walking, swimming and cycling are considered safe activities, as they put very little strain on your bladder, but everyone is different, and any activity over time can cause your muscles to weaken and your bladder to fill up, too! So while you may feel great at the beginning of the hike, you may be surprised by the end.(Related: Why Going to the Bathroom Just in Case Is a Bad Idea)

Maybe throw on the pee-proof undies

Due to their lack of bouncy, sudden movements, Pilates and yoga may seem like innocuous forms of exercise, but can be trouble-makers: if youre doing crunches or 100s, you can be putting pressure on your bladder, while Chaturanga and navasana (boat pose) can cause you to over grip and spill.

And also a pad

Anything high impact can cause trouble, as can holding in your breath (it creates pressure in the intra abdominal space). Lifting heavy weights overhead can also be tough, and sports that involve a lot of changes in direction and stop-start running (like hockey and tennis) can overload your pelvic floor, too.(Related: The Natural Way To Treat Incontinence)

And also bring a shirt to wrap around your waist

As anyone who does CrossFit will tell you, double unders (skipping rope, but with two rounds of the rope with every jump) are the number one way to guarantee making a splash.Next: How to Stop Bladder Leaks From Dictating Your Social Calendar

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How the Pandemic Finally Made Me Confront My Eating Disorder Wed, 21 Oct 2020 21:14:12 +0000 For me, binging is what happens when the fantasy of control comes undone.

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In mid-April, standing at the edge of my kitchen countertop, I looked up from the chicken bones. Newly bare and littered along the bottom of the takeout box, the meat was picked clean from each wing. The hot and ready kind. Prepared at the supermarket, meant to feed an entire nuclear familynot a single 30-year-old woman living alone, during the most devastating pandemic the world had seen in more than 100 years.My hands were coated in chicken grease. My stomach was full and bloated. I was being seized by the familiar sensation of claustrophobia, where my discomfort was no longer contained to the corporeal, but spilled out into pools of failure, shame and disgust. I wanted out of my body and my mind. But I knew there would be no quick relief from the frantic, self-deprecating spirals blooming in my mind.I looked up and into the kitchen window above the sink, to the reflection staring back: a woman, eating and eating and eating. Beyond sustenance, beyond pleasure. While it wasnt the first time I had encountered her, this time, I couldnt turn away.It had been several months since I had returned to this familiar scene. But I couldnt say I had fallen off the wagon. Not when I had never actually acknowledged my binge eating for what it was. Where theres denial, I knew, there can never be hope for recovery. And until that moment in my kitchen, I had never even called it by its name.(Related: What Therapists Need You to Know About Eating Disorders)I was four or five years old when I first became aware of myself in the act of eating, in front of a plate of sliced-up hot dogs my grandmother had boiled for me. I remember her gaze felt pointed, as if she were measuring and weighing me. My mother, a notorious yo-yo dieter, passed on a moral code early on, in which food is easily organized into two categories: good and bad. From there, new concerns took hold: over what I ate, how much I ate, how I ate. It was as if the radio had been turned on for the first time, and the airways flooded with anxious conversations between the women in my life. I was suddenly attuned to their diet talk, which seemed to revolve around how much or how little food they consumed, how they longed for what was perceived to be the forbidden and their feelings of triumph during periods of restraint and control. Somewhere out there existed a neon score board, tabulating my value calorie by calorie. Illuminating my strength, or my weakness, which rested on my ability to control my body and my hunger.Here, in the midst of a global pandemic, I now struggled to feel a sense of control over anything, least of all over what I ate and how much. I hadnt been touched in about a month and found myself dwelling on the memory of it: my mothers hands through my hair as a child, awkward first-encounter handshakes with strangers, the embrace of a friend. At the CBC, on Prince Edward Island, where I worked as a journalist covering the pandemic, I had been relocated to a lonely basement office to ensure physical distancing. The number of deaths globally was still rising. Control had never been more of a fantasy.Coping mechanisms, which I had subconsciously Frankensteined over the yearshabits like maintaining a relatively sparse refrigerator no longer seemed possible. Like everyone else, I had stocked up on supplies. At the beginning of the pandemic, my fridge was full and it terrified me. I was also home more often and in close proximity to it.The low hum of the refrigerator seemed to sync with my anxious thoughts. In those early days, like most everyone else in lockdown, all I could think of was food: the pleasure and comfort of making it, of eating it, of being full. On Instagram and Twitter, people described their adventures in cookies, banana bread, sourdough starters. I imagined the sensation of sticky dough between their fingers, the curve of the rolling pin back and forth, a wine glass covered in a light dusting of flour, the texture of freshly baked bread. I wanted to be one of them. More than ever, I wanted to enjoy food and find comfort in it.(Related: What Are the Signs of an Eating Disorder?)Binge eating disorder is a mental illness that can seriously affect psychological and physical health. Its characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food followed by feelings of shame, distress or guilt afterwards. About one million Canadians are diagnosed with an eating disorder. For many people, binging often follows a period of restrictive eating or dieting. Ive been doing both of these things consciously and subconsciously for what feels like my entire life.When I was about 11 or 12, restrictive eating took the form of thinly sliced turkey weighed on a scale and baby dill pickles wrapped in tinfoil for school lunches. In my first year of university, I limited my meals to sparse, leafy salads and bran cereal. During that particular period, I even convinced a doctor to prescribe me a powerful powdered laxative intended for people preparing for colonoscopies. It came in a gallon-sized jug, which Id pour water into and drink in my dorm room, waiting to feel empty and light-weight.The dream is to occupy the least amount of space, to transform myself into a walking clavicle, to be admired, protruding from thin air. When I deprive myself, I am sparkling and worthy. When I hear the garbled groans of hunger escaping my shrinking stomach, I am accomplished. There is less of me to pinch between fingers. The world and my desires seem to be within my reach.During this time, I live by the code passed down from my mother. I can keep my distance from the bad. I can choose only the good foods: thinly sliced lean turkey. Boiled chicken breasts and cauliflower. I can swim in the fantasy of control. Control over how I am perceived and how much currency I have to move in the world: how loveable or beautiful or desirable or worthy I am.In April, during the first weeks of the pandemic, I was coming off a months-long period of restriction. I kept track of everything I ate on an app and worked out four or five times a week. I was obsessive and preoccupied with food, or the lack of it. Each counted calorie was like a tiny wave lapping up and up, steadily eroding my relationship to food.My workouts led to an injury, and I was forced to take a break from the gym. Not long after, the pandemic took hold. And soon I found myself standing at my kitchen counter claustrophobic and covered in chicken grease. For me, binging is what happens when the fantasy of control comes undone. It can unravel within minutes, over a period of days, sometimes even weeks.It happens when the body and the mind become too tired for the calorie counting and scales and laxatives. It can start with one bite. And another and another. And then youve eaten most of whats in your fridge. The good foods, and the bad. The bananas, the loaf of bread, the cheese, the neglected condiments in the side door of the refrigerator. Its all of the food, all at once and its sand in your mouth.That night, at my kitchen counter, the pandemic, and its imposed isolation, forced to the surface something I had been too afraid to see. In lockdown I was left with only myself. The woman reflected in the window was wilting. Even as she ate and ate, there somehow seemed to only be less of her. If I continued, I knew one day I would leave her excavated. All that would be left would be the good and the bad foods and a body in shock moving back and forth, expanding and contracting. But she would be gone.Next: Another woman shares her experience with having an eating disorder during the pandemic.

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This Is Why You Have Bad Breath—And Here’s What to Do Wed, 21 Oct 2020 21:14:06 +0000 Tackle that bad breath in time for the holidays.

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Whether its morning breath or a nasty mix of a garlic-heavy lunch coupled with an afternoon coffee, most people have regular bouts with bad breath. But some struggle with a particularly potent and consistent version of this socially challenging condition: chronic halitosis. For them, bad breath can be difficult to manageand a source of embarrassment. Many patients [with halitosis] dont like even going to the dentist, says Dr. Anuradha Prakki, an associate professor in the faculty of dentistry at the University of Toronto. They are super shy and dont want to talk about it.(Related: 12 Teeth-Cleaning Mistakes That Make Dentists Cringe)

What causes it?

Halitosis is generally caused by two main factors: poor oral hygiene, such as cavities or gum disease, or a health issue such as indigestion, gastric reflux (when stomach acid goes back into the throat), or gastritis, an inflammation of the lining of the stomach, says Prakki. Some people with diabetes also get a condition called ketoacidosis, in which a lack of insulin in your body causes your breath to smell like nail polish.Other factors that can lead to halitosis are infections such as tonsillitis or sinusitis or autoimmune conditions like Sjogrens Syndrome, which reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth, says Prakki. Some medications that dry out your mouth can also lead to halitosis, as they can prevent saliva from washing away odour-causing bacteria.

Why does it smell so awful?

There are compounds that can be produced in the mouth called volatile sulfur compoundsthats the bad breath smell, says Prakki. She says these compounds, caused by bacteria, mix with acid thats already present in the mouth, and this creates the odour associated with halitosis.(Related: Do You Have Good Dental Etiquette?)

Who can smell it?

If youre someone who has spent years sitting next to a coworker with halitosis, youre well-aware of how bad the smell can be. But people with halitosis arent always aware of the severity of their condition is, says Prakki. Some people dont noticeor they get used to it, she says. Others go through phases where they are aware of the condition and act on it, only to forget to manage it later on. Others can be obsessed with how their breath smells, even if their case isnt severe. If youre unclear on the state of your breath, ask trusted friends and family what they think.(Related: 35 Secrets Your Dentist Wont Tell You)

How to manage halitosis

Handling halitosis means keeping your mouth as clean as possible, says Prakki. Brush your teeth and maintain gum health, she says, and dont forget to clean your tongue whether thats using a toothbrush or tongue cleaner sold in drug stores. Using a mouthwash or zinc-based toothpaste can also keep bacteria at bay. During the day, Prakki advises chewing sugar-free chewing gum to ensure saliva is generated which can keep your mouth clean. For people with dry mouth, she recommends using artificial saliva for lubrication.If youve got halitosis, the important thing is to get help, says Prakki. Talk openly about the problem, she says, and seek assistance from a dentist or hygienist. Staying on top of oral hygiene is the best weapon in the fight against bad breath.Its better than hiding, she says.Next: How To Get Rid of Bad Breath, Once and For All

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Eyelid Dermatitis: What Doctors Need You to Know Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:55:27 +0000 Eyelid dermatitis is a common condition that causes itchiness, redness, and irritation on the eyelids.

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Determining the culprit can be a challenge because symptoms don’t always appear instantly sometimes they occur days after being exposed to a trigger. That’s why it’s essential to get the proper diagnosis and treatment to avoid serious complications that can permanently affect your vision.Here are the most common forms of eyelid dermatitis and how to treat them.

Contact dermatitis

There are two types of contact dermatitis: allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. “The eyelids are a very sensitive area because they feature extremely thin skin that is more easily affected by environment irritants and allergens,” says Shawn Kwatra, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Contact dermatitis is fairly common with 50 to 70 percent of people having either an allergic or irritant eyelid dermatitis.

Allergic contact eyelid dermatitis

This form results from an allergic reaction to the eye. It can take a bit longer to show symptoms the scaling, redness, and itching on the eyelids can take a few days to notice. There are all sorts of culprits for allergic contact eyelid dermatitis, but the more common ones include fragrances, trace amounts of metals in jewellery (such as nickel and gold), topical antibiotics, and nail polish especially ones that contain acrylates, Kwatra says.

Irritant contact eyelid dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis is a non-allergic reaction with symptoms of itching, burning, redness, and scaling almost immediately. Common irritants are detergents, acids, paints and varnish, hair dyes, and anti-aging products with retinoids, dry air, and extremely hot or cold weather.(Related: 24 Things Your Skin Can Reveal About Your Health)


Kwatra recommends gentle skin care regimens and applying petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the affected areas. For more troublesome cases, consider topical corticosteroids like over-the-counter hydrocortisone or a more potent one you can get by prescription. Just be careful not to use too much, too often. “It is important that a topical steroid only be applied for a few days at a time, as the eyelids have extremely thin skin and are more susceptible to steroid-associated atrophy (thinning of the skin) and telangiectasias (which looks like spider veins on your eyelids), warns Kwatra.Beyond cosmetic reasons, excessive steroid use can cause permanent damage. “Steroids can cause thinning of the skin, cataracts, increased eye pressure, and glaucoma. Glaucoma can lead to a permanent loss of vision, so anyone on long-term steroid therapy should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist,” says Dianna Seldomridge, an ophthalmologist at Duke Eye Center of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Atopic eyelid dermatitis

Atopic eyelid dermatitis is a type of eczema, a condition in which the skin cannot maintain moisture naturally, resulting in outbreaks that make the skin dry, itchy, red, and scaly. Typically, eczema targets the face and neck, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. About 12 to 17 percent of people with eczema can also suffer from this condition. “It is not uncommon to see atopic dermatitis patients presenting with a rash on the eyelids. When this occurs, it frequently affects both eyelids but can be unilateral,” says Richard Browning, MD, a dermatologist at the UCHealth Dermatology Clinic, in Cherry Creek, Colorado. But the symptoms don’t always point to eczema, especially if the rash is on both eyelids, Browning says. Allergic dermatitis could be the culprit.


When it comes to do-it-yourself relief, the focus should be hydration. “Applying Vaseline ointment would be the best for symptom relief as the extra hydration from it is often soothing for itch and discomfort. This can be done multiple times daily and is safe on the eyelids,” Browning says. Home remedies, in general, are relatively limited Browning says because once the area is inflamed it will need anti-inflammatory medications to resolve the rash.


If the medications or home treatments aren’t helping and you’re itching and rubbing your eyes excessively, don’t put off a repeat visit with your dermatologist to get your symptoms under control. Since allergies often go hand-in-hand with eczema, you might need further testing or to try a different treatment to manage allergic reactions. It’s critical to stop rubbing your eyes, which causes friction that can lead to vision problems or, in severe cases, vision loss.People with eczema are also more prone to developing conjunctivitis (pink eye), keratitis (inflamed cornea), and keratoconus (thinning of the cornea) compared with that of the general population, says a 2017 Danish study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. “Eye rubbing is a major risk factor for keratoconus, a condition in which the cornea is cone-shaped. This condition may prevent someone from being able to correct their vision with glasses or contact lenses,” says Nathan Hamburger, an ophthalmologist in Steamboat Springs and at the UCHealth, Yampa Valley Medical Center.To treat these complications, you might need specialized contact lenses and corneal cross-linking, a treatment using eye drops and UV light to make the corneas stronger. In advanced cases, a corneal transplant might be necessary, Hamburger says. Keratitis, when caught early, can be treated and usually cured. People with eczema also have a greater risk of developing cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye. “Early treatment of these eye conditions are usually effective at restoring and preserving vision and ocular health,” says Hamburger.(Related: How to Tell Eczema From Other Skin Issues)

Seborrheic eyelid dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory rash on the skin caused by the body’s immune response to an overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast called Malassezia. It is mostly found on the nose, cheek folds, chin, eyebrows, forehead, and scalp. On the scalp, it’s known as dandruff. Browning says seborrheic dermatitis isn’t dangerous. Yet, for the eight to 16 percent of people who get it, it can be very symptomatic, causing redness, itching, burning, and flaking on the eyelid. The overgrowth of yeast may cause worse symptoms for those with compromised immune systems and people with a history of neurological diseases like stroke or Parkinson’s disease, Browning adds.


“Seborrheic dermatitis is treated in two ways by targeting the overgrowth of normal yeast on the skin and/or by targeting the inflammatory response of our immune system to that yeast,” says Browning. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone should do the trick for mild intermittent cases. But dotting your eyelids with hydrocortisone too often can lead to permanent thinning of the skin. Instead, prescription-strength hydrocortisone might be a better option to clear up the rash and avoid prolonged use of topical steroids. “Once clear, maintaining clearance in this often chronic condition is safer with the use of antifungals like ketoconazole (prescription cream),” says Browning.

Practice proper eye care

It’s important to understand the causes of your symptoms in order to seek proper care for your eyelid dermatitis. This will not only help identify the cause of the problem but also help prevent a reoccurrence. Make sure to practice good hand hygiene and be mindful when you touch your face, especially your eyes. If your symptoms persist after treatment, or if you experience a reoccurrence, speak to your doctor to determine what treatment plan may be best for you.Medically reviewed byJessica Wu, MD.Next: Everything You Need to Know About Scalp Care

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Am I Crazy for Trying to Get Pregnant During a Pandemic? Tue, 20 Oct 2020 20:04:48 +0000 I asked ob-gyns to weigh in on the risks of pregnancy and childbirth during the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically for Black expectant mothers.

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Some might call us crazy, but my husband and I recently decided to start trying to getpregnant. Last year, we would’ve approached plans to grow our family with excitement and optimism. But so much has changed, and for many, the beauty of pregnancy andchildbirthhas now been overshadowed by the current pandemic and its perpetratorthecoronavirus. But it appears that I am far from alone.Thousands of women are finding themselves with an unexpected bun in the oven or wrestling with making the hard decision of getting pregnant during such an uncertain and unprecedented time. Having a healthy and happy pregnancy and delivery right now isn’t impossible.However, doctors caution both expectant moms and those who wish to be to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their baby. This is especially true for Black women who have historically experienced significant pregnancy and childbirth-related disparities.

The decision to grow a family during coronavirus

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a notorious planner and preparing for our second child has been no different. My husband and I hoped to start trying for another baby in March, but then the pandemic hit. We thought that surely conditions would improve in the next six months. Well, we were wrong. Getting pregnant right now would involve frequent doctor visits, which would increase my exposure to the virus.Over the last seven months, we had taken such thoughtful care to remain healthy only to now consider something that would put us at a much higher risk ofCovid-19. To be honest, the thought of getting pregnant and having a baby during a pandemic made us cringe. But after researching successful pregnancies during the pandemic and consulting with ob-gyns, we decided we were equipped to take this calculated risk.(Related: What Ob-Gyns Want You to Know About Fertility)

Pregnancy rates during coronavirus

The CDC reported that between January 22 and October 6 of this year, more than 25,000 women were diagnosed with the coronavirus while pregnantalmost 6,000 of whom were hospitalized and 44 subsequently died from the virus.In May, the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that 3.3 million babies will be born in the United States between March 11 and December 16. The organization warned that mothers would face various challenges such as lockdowns and overwhelmed health centers with overextended staff and limitations on resources.The idea of having limited access to medical staff throughout a potential pregnancy and during and after childbirth has been one of the more difficult possibilities for me and my husband to reconcile.One saving grace has been the few people we know who have recently given birth. They’ve shared how responsive and empathetic medical care workers have been during their pregnancies and childbirths.Hearing these stories have served as a light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope that we’ll have a similar experience.In June, a CDC report found that pregnant women diagnosed with Covid-19 are more likely to be hospitalized, are at increased risk for admission to intensive care, and are more likely to be placed on a ventilator than women who aren’t pregnant, even though pregnancy doesn’t seem to raise the risk of death.According to Laura Riley, an ob-gyn at New York-Presbyterian Hospital who chairs the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine, it’s important to remember that we still have a lot to learn about Covid-19 and pregnancyother research has found that pregnancy doesn’t increase the likelihood of being hospitalized, she notes.Having a higher risk of being hospitalized if diagnosed with the virus was one of the main reasons we waited until this point to try to get pregnant. Even as recent as last month, the risk of contracting the virus and then having to be admitted into the hospital was difficult to determine. We weren’t ready to take that chance until we learned that the percentage of fatalities is similar to that of non-pregnant women.Despite the fact that newborns who have tested positive for the virus have presented with mild to no symptoms and have recovered, they still require immediate medical treatment and are at a higher risk of death compared to newborns who are virus-free. Although it remains unclear whether the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby, Riley suggests that expectant mothers follow proper CDC-recommended precautions to further protect themselves and their newborns.

Covid-19 risks are higher for Blacks

In a 2020 State of Black America report from the National Urban League, researchers found that Blacks are three times more likely to contract the virus than whites: The infection rate for Blacks is 62 per 10,000 compared with 23 per 10,000 for whites.One in 1,020 Black Americans have died from the virus compared to one in 2,150 whites. These startling statistics are alarming and carry severe implications for pregnant Black women, which is another reason my husband and I delayed pregnancy for so many months.Numerous factors contribute to making members of the Black community more vulnerable to the virus and more likely to experience severe or even fatal outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with pre-existing health conditions such asdiabetes,obesity, andasthmaare more likely to be hospitalized or to die after contracting the virus.These are medical conditions that are more common in the Black community, says Riley.Poverty and a lack of access to quality medical care and health insurance further exacerbate the prevalence of these medical conditions and impacts the medical attention that many Blacks receive.In the United States, about 14 percent of Blacks are uninsured compared to about nine percent of whites. “Poverty and lack of insurance can also impact Covid-19 care that Blacks receive as well as access to testing,” says Riley.

Pregnancy disparities among Black women

Another health disparity that has severely impacted the Black community is maternal death andpregnancy-related complications. Each year, around 700 women die in the United States from pregnancy or a related complication.However, Black women are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. Although the numbers have slightly declined over the past three years, Black mothers overwhelmingly represent the largest maternal death rates.Laura Sienas, an American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists fellow and a maternal-fetal medicine fellow at the University of Washington, points out that this only increases with age.Age has been my Achilles heel. When I was pregnant with my daughter I was 36-years-old. At the time, I was referred to as a high-risk pregnancy for no other reason than my age. That was two years ago, and here we are trying for baby number two in a pandemic.My age was cause for slight caution two years ago and the pandemic has only added insult to injury. However, my age was also one of the factors that led us to make this decision.Let’s face it: I’m not getting any younger, and the older a woman is the more her chances of experiencing complications during pregnancy increase. This is especially the case for Black women like myself.Equally troubling, says Riley, is that “although most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths have persisted over time.”Relatedly, Black women also experience higher rates ofhypertensionand diabetesconditions that can increase the risk ofgestational diabetesandpreeclampsia, Sienas adds. There are a variety of additional conditions that have been linked to maternal death during and after pregnancy, such as cardiomyopathy, cardiovascular and coronary conditions, hemorrhaging, postpartum infection, and embolism.”Most of these conditions are preventable or treatable,” says Riley, “but similar to Covid-19, they are worsened by poverty, lack of access to care, and the impact of institutionalized racism on quality health care”all of which disproportionately affect Black women.Black women are also almost three times more likely than white women to delay prenatal care, which places Black women at a much higher risk of increased maternal mortality rates.(Related: The Forces That Shape Health Care for Black Women)

Racism in health care

Racism in health careand exposure to racism in everyday life also contributes to the increased numbers of Black women who die during childbirth and experience other pregnancy-related complications. Likewise, the impact of racism also contributes to Blacks being more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).Experiences with racism both within as well as outside of the health care system can dramatically impact medical help-seeking behaviours in the Black community, says Neel Shah, MD, ob-gyn, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and director of the Delivery Decisions Initiative at Ariadne Labs. It can also place Blacks at an increased health risk to various medical conditions. Although I have never experienced racial bias in medical treatment, I know that I’m not exempt from it happening to me, which was another reservation that initially paused our decision to have another child.Our fear was thatwith the weight of limited staff, long hours, and highly stressful circumstanceswe would find ourselves being cared for by medical staff who do not have their biases in check. This made us put it into high gear to find an ob-gyn who we could trust to not only provide consistent, quality, and effective treatment, but also to advocate on our behalf if necessary.Ultimately, we selected a Black ob-gyn who we felt would better connect to some of our experiences and concerns during such a sensitive and stressful time.A 2017 survey conducted for Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 32 percent of Black people feel they’ve been discriminated against by their doctors. Black moms tend to receive different, if not worse, medical and prenatal treatment than white moms regardless of their socioeconomic status.Because Black women experience bothracial and gender-based discrimination, their exposure to racism and discrimination tends to exceed that of any other group. Exposure to racism in everyday life causes many Black women added stress during pregnancy and also negatively affects their health before becoming pregnant, which in turn, can increase the chances of them experiencing negative maternal health outcomes.

What expectant moms can do

Finding out that you’re pregnant or making the decision to plan a pregnancy can be scary under normal circumstancesmuch less, during a pandemic. But Riley and other medical experts say that there are steps that expectant mothers can take to reduce the risk of contracting the virus and to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth even if infected.

Make sure you have quality medical care and insurance

“Securing quality medical care and insurance is critical to properly monitor the overall health and progression of the pregnancy,” says Riley.

Be educated and empowered

Educating yourself aboutpregnancy-related complications, Covid-19, and virus-related precautions are equally as important. It’s important for momsespecially Black mothersto feel empowered to ask their doctors questions and to properly advocate for themselves and their babies.

Seek medical care early and often

The CDC suggests that expectant mothers make it a priority to attend all of their appointments during and after pregnancy. After giving birth, the same applies to your newborn. While pregnant, if you’re experiencing an emergency and have to go to the emergency room, if possible, call ahead of time and tell them that you’re pregnant. The hospital should have a plan to protect you and your baby upon arrival.

Do not put a face shield or mask on your baby

The CDC recommends the use of a face shield or mask for everyone 2 years old and up. Do not put a face shield or mask on your newborn, as both can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation and strangulation.

Breastfeeding and expressing milk

Medical professionals say that it’s fine tobreastfeedor express breast milk for your newborn even if you have recently been diagnosed with the virus, but doing so requires strict adherence to CDC recommended breastfeeding guidelines.However, if you have the virus, it’s suggested you consider having a healthy caregiver who does not have Covid-19, is not at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19, and is living in the same home to feed the expressed breast milk to the baby while also following the necessary guidelines.

Caring for baby while you have Covid-19

If you have been diagnosed with the virus before or immediately after giving birth, it’s important to care for yourself. If you are too sick to care for your baby, try to identify resources to assist you. According to the CDC, if a healthy caregiver is not available, you can care for your newborn if you are well enough.Riley says it’s also important to make critical decisions and to be knowledgeable about the following:

  • Decide if your baby is rooming with you in the hospital after delivery and how to take the proper safety precautions when your baby is in the room with you and after you and your baby are discharged.
  • Follow proper isolation and safety guidelines as indicated by the CDC both during and after your isolation period.

It’s also important to ensure that others in your household who have either been diagnosed with Covid-19 or have come in contact with the virus isolate and avoid caring for the newborn as much as possible.Next: 10 Women Share What It’s Like to Be Pregnant During Covid-19

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What Nutritionists Need You to Know About Smoke Point and Cooking Oils Tue, 20 Oct 2020 20:03:40 +0000 The smoke point of oils (the temperature at which oils burn) can affect taste and quality—and even your health. Here, experts share what everyone should know.

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At some time in the kitchen, you’ve likely seen cooking oil smoke and burn. Watching that smoke billow is an unpleasant sight and smell, forcing you to turn on the exhaust fan and rush to open the windows. But how does it affect the oil’s taste and quality? Is smoking oil really such a bad thing?We spoke with top chefs and registered dietitian nutritionists about what the smoke point of oils means, how overheating oil can alter nutrients, and the potentially harmful impacts of burning and smoking oil.(Related: The 10 Healthiest Cooking Oils, According to Food Experts)

What is an oil’s smoke point?

The smoke point of an oil refers to the temperature at which it begins to smokeand also degrade in both quality and taste. Typically, the odour of an oil becomes at least somewhat foul once it begins smoking.”Food can taste burnt if the oil it has been cooked in has started to smoke,” says Lisa Andrews, RD, a registered dietitian in Cincinnati.An oil’s smoke point affects what you’re able to accomplish with it. For instance, peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 F, which makes it suitable for deep-frying, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Extra-virgin olive oil, on the other hand, has a smoke point of 405 F; that lower number makes this oil better suited for roasting and baking, says the Institute of Food Technologists.Smoke points most often become an issue with higher-temperature cooking, such as sauting, pan searing, stir frying, and pan frying, says Michele Redmond, a chef and dietitian in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It’s important to know the smoke point of an oil because it alters the taste of foodand not in a good way,” she adds. “Knowing some basic smoke point ranges can make you a more efficient, flavour-sensitive cook.”(Related: Canola Oil vs. Vegetable OilWhich is Healthier?)

What smoking oil means

Curious about what happens to an oil once it begins to smoke? A lot. “Oil smokes when direct heat applied to it reacts with oxygen enough to burn and create smoke,” says Redmond.Know, however, that a smoke point of an oil isn’t an exact science. Consider, instead, a smoke point as a range of temperatures. “A single type of oil can have multiple smoke points, depending on the seed variety, processing, fatty acid profile, exposure to air and light, and the amount of trace carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and aromatic compounds,” says Redmond.

High smoke points

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell from an oils fat content whether it has a higher smoke point. A high smoke point oil can be loaded with good-for-you mono- and polyunsaturated fats, or it can depend on saturated fats. Palm oil, with nearly 7 grams saturated fat, 5 grams monounsaturated fat, and 1 gram polyunsaturated fat per tablespoon, has a high smoke point of 450 F, per the USDA database. The same amount of refined avocado oil, on the other hand, which has a smoke point of up to 500 F, contains just under 2 grams saturated fat, 10 grams monounsaturated fat, and 2 grams polyunsaturated fat. The lower levels of saturated fat and high amounts of monounsaturated fat makes avocado a much more nutritious pick if you need something to fry with.Then there are also high-oleic oils to consider (oleic refers to omega-9 fatty acids, a type of monounsaturated fat). One popular example is sunflower oil. “Cooking oils high in oleic acids are less sensitive to heat because they are made using plants bred to have more monounsaturated fats and fewer omega-6 polyunsaturated fats,” says Redmond. “For example, traditional sunflower oil is about 20 percent oleic acid, versus 80 percent in high-oleic acid sunflower oil. This makes it more stable for cooking at high heats and gives it a longer shelf life.”Now, what can happen when oil gets too hot? Let’s investigate.

Smoking oil can change its flavour

Foods readily absorb oil, so anything sitting in smoking oil can absorb acrid and burnt flavours. The No. 1 reason we choose certain foods is because of taste,” says Lexi Endicott, RD, a registered dietitian in Boise, Idaho. “And foods cooked in burnt oil may taste bitter, burnt, or rancid.””Olive and sesame oils have low smoke points,” adds Andrews. “When used in high heat, they will break down and impart an off taste to your food. Avocado and sunflower oil, on the other hand, can tolerate higher temperatures and would be better suited for deep frying or roasting vegetables on high heat.”

Smoking oil can cause your food to catch fire

“If you leave an oil smoking in your pan for too long, you risk it hitting its flash point of catching on fire,” says Redmond. Plus, the clean-up is not fun. As oil thickens, which happens when it catches on fire, says Redmond, it gets sticky and harder to scrub away.

Smoking oil may increase cancer risk

Just as overly grilled BBQ food poses a carcinogenic risk, the same goes for overly heated oil.”As an oil passes its smoke point, the part of the oil’s triglyceride structure is broken apart from the fatty acidsand free fatty acids, aldehydes, and polar compounds are released,” says Endicott. “As the glycerol continues to heat, it is further broken down to acrolein, an irritating compound to the eyes and throat. Increased acrolein exposure may increase cancer risk, as it disrupts normal RNA [ribonucleic acid] and DNA [deoxyribonucleic acid] function.” That increases the likelihood of cell mutations that can lead to tumor growth.Another reason why cooking food in smoking oil is a no go? “The higher the temperature that an oil is cooked at, the increased likelihood of free radical production,” says Endicott. “Free radicals are known to alter cellular function, which may lead to increased cancer risk.”Bottom line: It’s better to not overheat cooking oils. “Healthy fat is incredibly healthy for the health of our cells and cell membranes,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City. “We want the fat we’re consuming to be high quality and not burnt!”That doesn’t mean your cancer risk increases the second your pan starts smoking. “A smoking oil doesn’t mean it immediately oxidizes or becomes less stable,” notes Redmond. “The amount of time an oil smokesand other variables, including the type of fatty acidscan slow these processes. For example, oils high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants can maintain stability well.”

Smoking oil may heighten risk of heart issues

Those same factors that may impact your cancer risk may also affect your risk of heart disease. “Consumption of polar compounds, aldehydes, and oxidized fats may also increase heart disease risk,” says Endicott. “Oxidized fats cause damage to the endothelial lining of blood vessel, which over time can decrease vascular function and therefore damage proper blood flow.”

Smoke points for common cooking oils

Here’s a rough guide to smoke points from the cooking tools company, Anova:oil smoking temperature chart

Smoking oil prevention tips

To avoid problems when an oil reaches its smoke point, here’s what you can do to decrease your risk.”Choose oils that best fit the needs of your cooking application,” advises Endicott. You already know that oils with higher smoke pointsavocado and peanut oilare better suited for roasting and sauting. Unrefined coconut oil is best used for baking and stovetop cooking.And some oils simply aren’t meant to be heated at all. “Flavour-infused oils or expensive artisan oils are better reserved for finishing,” says Endicott. These include unrefined walnut, pecan, or pumpkin oils. You can use them to drizzle flavour on top of just-out-of-the-oven butternut squash, or they can also be swirled onto freshly made dip.You might need to experiment, too. “Sometimes, you won’t know the smoke point of an oil until you try cooking with it,” says Endicott. “If you notice an off smell or flavour, or feel a burning sensation in your eyes, your oil has likely exceeded its smoke point.” An oil will often turn clear just before it begins to smoke.Match your cooking oil to your technique to limit smoke at high heats. Oils with smoke points at or above 350 F pair well with the high temperatures needed for direct-heat techniques like sauting, pan searing, stir frying, and pan frying.

The exception to smoking oils

Like life, almost nothing in the kitchen is clear cut. “In some cases, you may desire an oil that begins to smoke just before cooking,” says Redmond. “Cook’s Illustrated tested how a fast pan sear of meat develops better flavours and texturesand cooks faster when added to a just-smoking pan. It’s a bit contrarian, but this is how chefs cook.”Next: The Safest Cooking Oils to Use for 16 Different Types of Meals

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Should You Be Eating Chia Seeds? Here’s What Nutritionists Say Tue, 20 Oct 2020 19:37:13 +0000 Here’s what you need to know about their nutrition.

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If you’re a fan ofchia seeds, you’re hardly alone. These tiny seeds are becoming so popular, sales are expected to reach more than $88 million by 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence, a marketing research firm. That’s a 5.8 percent increase from 2018.Chia seeds are beloved by nutrition experts, says Jenna Gorham, RD, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist in Montana. It’s easy to see why: Two tablespoons of chia seeds have about 140 calories, nearly six grams of protein, about eight grams of fat (including omega-3s), and 11 grams of mostly soluble fibre. Plus they’re full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.And they’re incredibly versatile. Aside from their popularity as a topping for cereal and yogurt, “chia seeds can be used in many ways,” says Susan Bowerman, RD, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles.They can thicken pudding or overnight oats, as well as boost fibre in baked goods. “They can also be mixed in a 1:3 ratio with water to make an egg replacement that works well for baking,” she says.If you’re seeking chia’s ample health benefits, but worry they’ll ruin the taste of your dish, fret not. “Chia seeds are incredibly mild,” says Gorham. “You’ll hardly notice their taste, but depending on how you use them, you may notice the small seeds or gel-like texture.”Here’s everything you need to know about chia seeds, including their nutritional value, health benefits, plus easy chia seed recipes to make at home.(Related: 10 Foods with More Fibre Than Broccoli)

Different types of chia seeds

“Chia has grown in popularity due to its numerous nutritional properties and health benefits,” says Akua Woolbright, national nutrition director for Whole Cities Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Whole Foods. They’re easy to digest. And, unlike flaxseed, chia seeds don’t have to be ground to improve absorption.Chia seeds are derived from the plant Salvia hispanica L. A major food crop in Mexico and Guatemala as early as 3500 BC, they were offered up to Aztec gods in religious ceremonies.There are white and black chia seeds and they have similar nutritional content. “The black seeds tend to be a bit smaller,” says Bowerman. “Some people find them more palatable when used as a topping on cereal or yogurt, when compared with the white ones.” They’re basically interchangeable in recipes, she adds.

Chia seed benefits

In addition to their nutritional content, chia seeds offer many health benefits.For starters, chia’s fibre and healthy fat content may slow blood sugar spikes and help maintainhealthycholesterollevels, saysBowerman, echoing the results of a study published in 2019 in Nutrients.“They’re also a decent source of calcium, a nutrient many people don’t get much of.”What’s more, chia seeds may also help reduce chronic inflammation. A small study of 30 people with type 2 diabetes, published in Diabetes Care, found that consuming about four tablespoons of chia seeds a day for 12 weeks led to a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.By comparison, the researchers found people with diabetes who ate wheat bran did not see a similar benefit.(Related: Should You Try The Anti-Inflammation Diet?)

Chia seeds and weight loss

Looking to shed pounds? Chia seeds might be a good dietary addition.Part of the reason chia seeds help with weight loss is because they swell and add bulk to dishes, potentially making them more filling and satisfying, says Bowerman. Chia seeds’ fibre content also “supports proper digestion, elimination, and a healthy gut,” adds Woolbright.(Related: Healthy Gut, Happy Life: 10 Ways to a Better Microbiome)

Risks and side effects

Chia is popular and can be added to a variety of dishes, but there can potentially be too much of a good thing.”If you’ve never eaten them, it’s probably a good idea to start gradually with one teaspoon and work your way up to one to two tablespoons to give your body time to adjust to the fibre content,” says Bowerman. “Eating too much could cause mild digestive upset, as would be the case from eating too much of any type of fibre in one sitting.”

Best way to eat chia seeds

Chiaseeds are great blended into smoothies, as well as on salads as toppings, baked into bread or muffins, blended with yogurt, or added to fruit juice, says Melissa Nieves, RD, a registered dietitian at Kemtai, a personal training app. “In short, the possibilities are endless,” she says. “I eat them by themselves.”They’re particularly useful for vegans. “Chia is a great ingredient for plant-based eaters not only because of the protein content, but also because it offers 15 percent of the daily recommended value of iron and calcium, which can often come from animal-based foods,” says Gorham.In fact, chefs looking for an egg replacement when baking can substitute chia seeds, instead. Gorham advises combining one tablespoon of chia with three tablespoons of water, mixing and letting sit for five minutes to create an egg-white consistency.Chia seed pudding is popular due to its consistency, with myriad chia pudding recipes available. “When mixed with liquid, chia seeds absorb it and become plump and softperfect for making pudding,” Gorham said.Here are a few great recipes featuring chia seedseverything from breakfast to dessert recipes.

Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding by Mareya IbrahimThis antioxidant-rich breakfast pudding recipe is courtesy of celebrity chef Mareya Ibrahim, author of Eat Like You Give A Fork: The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive.Four servings


  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or other nondairy milk
  • 12 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tsp. granulated stevia or monk fruit extract
  • 6 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 12 tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut


In a blender, combine the almond milk, vanilla, blueberries, and stevia. Put 1 12 tbsp of the chia seeds into each of four mason jars. Evenly distribute the blueberry-milk mixture over the top of each and stir or shake well. Seal the jars and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight, until thickened. Top each with about 1 teaspoon of the coconut and enjoy cold.(Also, try our Super Simple Vanilla Chia Pudding with Berries.)

Balsamic Roasted Veggies with Toasted Turmeric Chia Seeds

balsamic roasted veggies with toasted tumeria chia seedsThis roasted veggie recipe is courtesy of Ibrahim.Four to six servings


  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 14 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. raw coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp. coconut amino acids
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 2 cups halved Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, coconut oil, amino acids, and white pepper. Add the vegetables and toss to coat with the dressing. Spread the vegetables evenly over a baking sheet. In a small dry skillet, toast the turmeric and chia seeds over low heat for two minutes, taking care not to burn them. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the spices over the vegetables. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are golden brown.(Also, try our Lentil and Brussels Sprout Salad with Creamy Chia Dressing.)

Overnight Orange Figgy Chia Pudding

Perfect for breakfast, as a snack or dessert, each serving of this puddingcourtesy of Elaine Magee, RD, The Recipe Doctoroffers more than 10 grams of protein and six grams of fibre.One servings


  • 1/4 cup milk or milk alternative
  • 1/4 cup Greek vanilla yogurt or plant-based yogurt
  • 1 chopped fresh fig, about 1/4 cup (dried fig, chopped, can also be used)
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tbsp. semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (shredded or shaved toasted unsweetened coconut can be substituted)


In a serving bowl or glass, gently stir the milk and yogurt with the chopped fig, chia seeds, and orange zest. Cover the dish and refrigerate. After about 60 minutes, stir to distribute the seeds evenly and return the covered dish to the refrigerator to sit overnight (or eight hours). Sprinkle mini dark chocolate chips (or toasted coconut) over the top and enjoy.Next, try our Energizing & Nutritious Vegan Ginseng Chia Pudding.

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I Tried a Charcoal Toothbrush to Whiten My Teeth—Here’s What Happened Tue, 20 Oct 2020 19:20:42 +0000 Can a charcoal toothbrush whiten your teeth? To find out, I replaced my electric toothbrush with a charcoal toothbrush for two weeks.

The post I Tried a Charcoal Toothbrush to Whiten My Teeth—Here’s What Happened appeared first on Best Health Magazine Canada.

If you’re like me and wore bracesas a kid, you probably pride yourself on having straight teeth. All those years of monthly orthodontist visits to tighten and loosen screws, replace metal, and deal with tooth pain were not in vain. (I clearly did not have Invisalign.)In fact, it has made me more meticulous with my oral and dental care. I brush my teeth twice a day, floss before bed, replace my toothbrush every three months, and see my dentist twice a year.So, when I heard about activated charcoal toothbrushes and how they promise to remove stains and whiten teeth, I was eager to give it a try.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is not the charcoal used for barbecues, despite looking similar. “Its typically made of coal, coconut shells, olive pits, and other materials,” says Lana Rozenberg, a cosmetic dentist at Rozenberg Dental NYC in New York. “It is then reheated, which oxidizes and activates it.”When activated, it becomes more porous, which many activated charcoal products claim is what allows it to remove plaque and bacteria.

Choosing a charcoal toothbrush

There are many activated charcoal dental products out there, including toothpaste and toothbrushes. I opted for a charcoal toothbrush versus charcoal toothpaste because it seemed like a less messy alternative to getting whiter teeth.Charcoal toothpaste is known for turning your mouth black as you brush and can potentially leave gray stains on your teeth (eek!).I choseDental Experts Soft Charcoal Toothbrush family five pack ($12). At the time, it was the most inexpensive option, came in a variety of colours, and gave me more bang for my buck.

Activated charcoal bristles

Charcoal toothbrushes have distinctive bristles. They’re infused with activated charcoal, which gives them a black, smoky appearance. This eliminates the messiness of some types of toothpaste that require you to rub charcoal powder across your teeth before you brush.The idea behind these coated bristles, says Rozenberg, is that when you brush your teeth, the bacteria get trapped in the bristles rather than spread around in your mouth.In most activated charcoal brushes, the bristles are thinner at the top than at the base, says Henry Hackney, a dentist in Chicago and a member of the American Dental Association (ADA). The soft, thin bristles may be ideal for people with sensitive enamel, says Hackney.”Due to its increased softness and thinness, the [soft] bristle does not damage your teeth and can do its job without causing any pain.”(Related: 12 Teeth-Cleaning Mistakes That Make Dentists Cringe)

My 14-day trial: Using a charcoal toothbrush

Week one

My first day using a charcoal toothbrush was decidedly uneventful. My teeth didn’t look or feel any different. In fact, after using my Oral-B electric toothbrush for so long, I felt as if I wasn’t doing a good enough job brushing my teeth. The charcoal toothbrush was lightweight, simple, and sleek. But it was also nondescript, with the exception of its bristles and its black and blue grip.Now I know it takes time to tell whether a product works, but I couldn’t help thinking that a special toothbrush would wipe away all my lingering coffee, tea, and wine stains after every brush.

Week two

One week later, and I would like to think I saw improvements, but I suspect I was experiencing a kind ofplacebo effect. My lower front teethwhich are prone to staininglooked a little whiter. Could it have been the bathroom lighting? A cleaner bathroom mirror? Or maybe I was just flossing and brushing better to convince myself the charcoal toothbrush is working. Whatever the reason, I did notice the tip of the bristles seemed more faded. This could mean the activated charcoal was wearing off.I continued to use the toothbrush, once in the morning and once in the evening for the entire two-week experiment. By day 14, my brushing was gentler and my gums seemed grateful for it. My actual teeth weren’t actually whiter, though maybe more stain-free.To be honest, I was glad to go back to my electric toothbrush because I personally feel it provides me with a deeper cleaning than a manual toothbrush. However, the ADA says both a manual and electric toothbrush work the same to remove plaque.

Activated charcoal products are a mixed bag

Activated charcoal dental products are still around, probably because they’ve grabbed the attention of many people, including celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow who gave it her GOOP seal of approval.But, do they actually really work? If you go on any brand’s website and check reviews for charcoal toothbrushes, you’ll see a mix.For example, with the Dental Expert’s Soft Charcoal Toothbrush, one Amazon reviewer writes: “These are great toothbrushes! They are very soft but still sturdy enough to do a good job of cleaning. I especially appreciate the head size. So many toothbrushes have such a large head that I have trouble moving them around in my mouth without scraping my gums. My mouth feels squeaky clean after using these toothbrushes, and my teeth do appear to be a little whiter. This five pack is a great value, too.”Like me, this reviewer notices the bristles are extremely soft and the toothbrush itself is gentle around the gums. But what about promoting whiter teeth? Research suggests these activated charcoal products fall short on their numerous claims.

What the science says

A review of studies, published in 2017 in the The Journal of the American Dental Association, suggests there’s no conclusive evidence to support the claims of these products, such as being antibacterial and whitening teeth. There’s no evidence that they’re safe or effective for your teeth; they can be abrasive and leave teeth looking more yellow, according to the ADA.Dentists like Rozenberg agree there’s a lot more that needs to be known before its recommended for dental use.”A lot about charcoal toothbrushes is unknowntheres not a lot of scientific evidence on its benefits or negative implications,” she says.(Related: Strange Symptoms That Can Signal A Serious Disease)

The type of toothbrush dentists recommend

To be sure the toothbrush you choose is safe, effective, and won’t damage your teeth, choose one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. (The seal also applies to toothpaste, water flossers, white strips, and electric toothbrushes.)Currently, activated charcoal toothbrushes do not have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. You can visit the ADA’s “Seal Product Search” to verify whether your product meets the ADA’s standards for dental use.Look for a soft-bristled toothbrush, says Lara Seidman, a general dentist at Fountainhead Dentistry in Hagerstown, Maryland. “The purpose of a toothbrush is to remove plaque bacteria that have adhered to the tooth surface,” she says.Toothbrushes with soft bristles are sufficient to remove plaque build-up without damaging the enamel. Hard bristles can lead to enamel erosion “similar to that seen in abrasive toothpaste, like smoker’s toothpaste [toothpaste that removes brown tobacco stains], or charcoal toothpaste.”If you have build-up that can’t be removed with a soft bristled brush, it most likely needs to be removed by a dental hygienist, says Seidman.Regardless of the toothbrush you choose, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or when it starts to wear and tear.

The takeaway

Activated charcoal dental products may sound alluring, but they may end up doing more harm than good in the end. Activated charcoal is abrasive, but if you’re still curious, use it sparingly, suggests Seidman. “Beware of the potential consequences, especially enamel abrasion.”You can also consult your dentist to talk more about the use of these products. Or, you can discuss the potential of in-office teeth whitening treatments if you want to whiten your teeth.As for me, I went back to using my electric toothbrush. I still have some charcoal toothbrushes left from my experiment. I may use them sporadically if I’m in between toothbrush replacements; otherwise, they live inside my storage closet. When it comes to maintaining good dental hygiene I follow three simple rules: brush your teeth (at least twice a day), floss, and visit your dentist twice a year.Next: Teeth Whitening Mistakes to Avoid

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