Choosing good carbs with the glycemic index

A rating system called the glycemic index measures how strongly a food affects blood sugar and insulin. Eating foods with a high glycemic index causes blood sugar to climb high quickly. The flood of insulin that follows can eventually cause blood sugar to drop too far, triggering hunger. Foods with a low glycemic index create more gentle ups and downs. Using the glycemic index to choose a healthier diet is easy. There's no need to memorize numbers. Just follow this general rule of thumb: focus on foods with a low glycemic index (55 or less), and try to limit those with a high glycemic index (70 or higher). More »

Hypertension? You're not alone

A third of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than half of them don’t have their blood pressure under control. This is because many people do not have a primary care physician or health insurance, and because blood pressures are often not routinely measured in doctors’ offices. Everyone should have his or her blood pressure checked routinely, especially those who are overweight or obese, living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, eating a high-sodium diet, drinking too much alcohol, or frequently feeling stressed. When it comes to hypertension medication, some experimenting may be needed to find the right combination. (Locked) More »

Fool your brain, reduce your pain

You can help relieve chronic pain by distracting your brain. If you have a demanding enough task, you’ll have less attention to give to your pain. Distractions may release natural painkillers that block incoming pain signals as they enter the spinal cord. Distractions can include memory games or any activity so pleasurable or meaningful that it distracts you from your pain. And you don’t have to choose just one activity. Using your brain to do more things that are rewarding tips the balance away from pain. (Locked) More »

Alternative treatments for knee pain

When considering alternative treatments to avoid a knee replacement, not all therapies are proven effective at reducing knee pain. The best treatments are weight loss and physical therapy, which relieve pressure on the knee joint. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, and therapies such as acupuncture and viscosupplementation, can be effective in some people. There is not enough evidence to show that platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) and prolotherapy are effective. Prolotherapy and viscosupplementation carry a risk of infection. (Locked) More »

Avoid landing back in the hospital

Men are at a significantly higher risk of returning for urgent care within a month after being discharged from the hospital. It appears that men who are socially isolated—single, retired, and depressed—are more likely to return for urgent care. Doctors advise that both men and women should arrange for a caregiver to help at the time of hospital discharge and once at home to ensure adherence to a recovery regimen and physician follow-up. (Locked) More »

You may not need a Pap smear

A number of health organizations have revised screening guidelines for cervical cancer. It’s based on evidence that annual Pap smears do not catch more cancers, but often lead to more invasive diagnostic procedures that can cause complications. Women ages 21 to 65 are now advised to get a Pap smear every three years. Women ages 30 to 65 can prolong screening to every five years if they get a test for human papilloma virus with it. Screening is not recommended for women 65 and older who’ve had normal Pap tests for several years, and not for women at any age who’ve had their cervix removed as part of a hysterectomy. (Locked) More »

Soothing dry eyes

It appears caffeine may help people produce more tears. This may help people with dry eye syndrome, which causes a reduction in tear production and tear ingredients. Dry eyes can lead to tear film inflammation, eye damage, vision problems, and extreme discomfort. Doctors don’t recommend caffeine as a treatment for dry eyes, but do recommend artificial tears, topical anti-inflammatory treatments, and sometimes procedures to plug tear ducts to slow the tear drainage away from the eye surface. (Locked) More »

Preventing psoriasis with exercise

Extremely vigorous exercise may help reduce the risk of new cases of psoriasis. Doctors recommend at least 3-4 hours of vigorous exercise per week (such as tennis, swimming, or running), as long as your doctor says it's okay. (Locked) More »

What you need to know about: vaccines

All adults are advised to get flu vaccines each year. However, immunization doesn’t last a lifetime, so you should check to see if all of your vaccinations are current. You need a tetanus booster every 10 years. All adults 65 or older should get the pneumonia shot once (and a second time after age 65 if the first shot was given when they were younger than 65). The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the shingles vaccine for people ages 50 and older; however, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices continues to recommend that vaccination begin at age 60. More »