Do omega-3s protect your thinking skills?

For people who are healthy and who don’t have a decline in memory and thinking skills, it appears that dietary omega-3 fats may help preserve thinking skills. It is unclear if omega-3 fats from fish oil pills offer the same protection. Eating omega-3s in fish may also be linked to a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, because omega-3s may help to ease inflammation, maintain a steady heartbeat, and prevent blood clots. Both the federal government and the American Heart Association recommend eating two servings each week of fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. (Locked) More »

Should you take a drug holiday?

For some people in certain instances, taking a drug holiday may give the body a chance to reset, recoup, and ramp up the systems that have been suppressed by the drugs. For others, it may provide a relief from unwanted side effects or from long-term risks. A doctor must determine if someone is a candidate for a drug holiday and how long to stop taking a medication. For people who aren’t candidates for a drug holiday, switching to another drug may be an option. (Locked) More »

Easy ways to build better bones

There are many ways to build bone mass and reduce fracture risks. Weight-bearing activities and strength training exert force on the bones, which stimulates them to become stronger. Consuming calcium helps make strong bones, and taking vitamin D aids calcium absorption. Medications called bisphosphonates can help to reduce fractures, but do have rare side effects. Lifestyle change can also protect bone health, such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and removing fall hazards in the home. More »

How to avoid the health risks of too much salt

Too much dietary sodium may increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Dietitians recommend limiting sodium intake to 500 or 600 milligrams per meal, and making sure it comes from healthy sources, like whole-grain breads and cereals. Sodium content is listed on Nutrition Facts labels on packaged food. Another recommendation is to flavor food with spices, such as basil and ginger, instead of salt. It’s best to choose fresh foods, and to avoid processed foods, which are often very high in sodium. (Locked) More »

Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea

There are many treatments for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The gold standard in treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), but some people have trouble adjusting to a bulky CPAP mask. Other options to treat OSA include weight loss, sleeping against a wedge pillow, disposable nasal valves, an oral appliance, and surgery. The latest treatment is an implanted pacemaker that stimulates the tongue to tighten when a person breathes, keeping the tongue from blocking the airway. (Locked) More »

5 ways to give the gift of health

When giving a gift that benefits health, consider the receiver’s interests, and accommodate previous injuries, surgeries, medical conditions, or functional limitations. Ideas for gifts include services, such as a health club membership or a gift certificate for a few sessions with a personal trainer; gadgets, such as a wearable fitness monitor or an automatic pill dispenser; exercise classes, such as tai chi or ballroom dance; workout equipment, such as yoga mats or free weights; and knowledge, such as a Special Health Report from Harvard Health Publishing. (Locked) More »