Is it safe to go vegan in older age?

The health benefits of all vegetarian diets are well documented: lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. But it’s unclear if a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, has even greater health benefits than a less restrictive meatless diet, such as a diet that allows fish or eggs. Few studies compare vegetarian diets. However, it’s clear that the vegan diet carries risks for nutrient deficiency and is so restrictive that it can be difficult to maintain over the long term. More »

Do vitamin D supplements reduce risk of early death?

While many studies have found that people with very low blood levels of vitamin D have higher rates of early death, there’s no guarantee that raising blood levels of vitamin D can help. A 2019 study in The BMJ found that vitamin D supplements did not reduce early death from all causes, nor from heart and other cardiovascular diseases. However, vitamin D supplements did appear to reduce the risk of early death from cancer by 16%. And there may be other possible benefits from vitamin D supplements. Many studies of this are under way. (Locked) More »

Is it too late to save your posture?

It’s usually not too late to improve posture, even with rounded shoulders or healed compression fractures. The key is strengthening and stretching the upper back, chest, and core muscles. Shoulder strengtheners include scapula squeezes and rows. Core strengtheners include modified planks or simply tightening the abdominal muscles, pulling the navel in toward the spine. It’s also important to cut down on activities that have led to poor posture, such as sitting slouched for long periods in front of a computer or TV. (Locked) More »

Top tools to make bathing safer and simpler

Many tools in a wide range of prices can make bathing safer and simpler. Low-cost tools include long-handled scrubbers, a small stationary shower bench or chair, and nonslip floor treads or a rubber mat. More expensive tools include waterproof alert buttons, shower transfer benches, or walk-in shower kits. People who aren’t sure which tools they need can talk to an occupational therapist for an in-home assessment, which is sometimes covered by Medicare. (Locked) More »

7 strategies to fight winter breathing problems

Even in healthy people, cold, dry air can irritate the airways and lungs. It causes the upper airways to constrict, or narrow, and it can also disrupt the moisture layer that lines the lower airways in the lungs. This effect may be more exaggerated in people with respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Ways to avoid cold air problems include covering the nose and mouth with a scarf when outside, keeping indoor air temperatures from falling below 64° F, and using a humidifier to keep the air from becoming too dry. (Locked) More »

Can a dietary supplement help ease your depression?

Some supplements may ease depression symptoms. Supplements that may help include fish oil, methylfolate, N-acetylcysteine, St. John’s wort, and vitamin D. It’s not generally considered dangerous to take certain over-the-counter supplements, but there are some risks. For example, St. John’s wort has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of many drugs, and omega-3 supplements may increase bleeding risk in people taking blood thinners. It’s best to talk to a doctor before starting a supplement regimen. More »

Bit by bit, Americans are eating healthier

Americans appear to be eating higher amounts of high-quality carbohydrates, plant protein, and unsaturated fats. However, much of the American diet still seems to be coming from low-quality carbohydrates. More »

What to do about the heartburn medication recall

Due to medication recalls, people who take heartburn medication that contains ranitidine are advised to talk to their doctors about whether to keep taking it. One alternative: switching to a similar drug in the same class. More »