Weighted blankets might ease insomnia and anxiety, here’s what to know before purchasing one

If 2017 was the year of the Instant Pot, 2018 was the year to gift or get a weighted blanket - a duvetlike bed cover weighing from five to 25 pounds. Never heard of one? Neither had I, until I got this assignment. But they are a hot commodity. For example, the Gravity Blanket, which began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, reports $16.5 million in sales for 2018. The theory is that a heavier-than-normal blanket hugs a sleeper, and may prevent tossing and turning. As a result, the sleeper feels more secure, and sleeps more soundly and for longer periods of time. The concept isn't new. Heavy wraps have been used as a calming mechanism for children with autism, ADHD and other sensory disorders for more than a decade. Parents have swaddled their newborns for centuries. And the idea...

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Agenda pushing: Majority of EAT-Lancet authors (over 80%) favored vegan/vegetarian diets

The EAT-Lancet report, published by The Lancet last week, has been presented as the product of 37 scientists from around the world who gathered to evaluate the science on diet and both human health and the health of the planet. These are separate scientific questions that each deserve careful evaluation. It's important to note that there are significant scientific controversies on both these questions. On diet and health, I can safely say that there is an enormous amount of legitimate scientific dispute surrounding the question of whether a plant-based diet is best for health and also whether minimizing red meat in the diet is healthy or even safe. The best, most rigorous (clinical trial) evidence supports the idea that red meat does not cause any kind of disease. There are also a number of analyses showing that diets low in...

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Holy schmeat! Beyond Meat has plans to make plant-based bacon and steak

Popular vegan meat brand Beyond Meat has plans to make plant-based bacon and steak, CNBC reports. The brand became a favorite around the globe when it launched its iconic Beyond Burger, a vegan patty made from pea protein that looks, cooks, and tastes like beef - it even "bleeds," thanks to the addition of beet juice. Now, Beyond Meat has its sights set on other areas of the plant-based meat market. CEO Ethan Brown revealed to CNBC, "We want to make bacon, we want to make steak, we want to make the most intricate and beautiful pieces of meat." ...

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How super is your poo? The search for ‘super poo donors’ for fecal transplants

Claudia Campenella, 31, works as a student support administrator at a UK university, and in her spare time she is a poo donor. "Some of my friends think it is a bit weird or disgusting, but it doesn't worry me. It's very easy to donate and I just want to help with medical research. I'm glad to contribute." Her faeces, teeming with "good" bugs, will be put into the bowel of a sick patient to help their poorly gut get better. Claudia knows her donation is extremely useful - that is why she does it - but is her poo extra special? ...

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Should you take probiotics if you need to take antibiotics?

Your intestinal bacteria are part of your immune system, and researchers are discovering that microbes of all kinds play instrumental roles in countless areas of your health. For example, beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, have been shown to: Modulate your immune response1 and reduce inflammation2Produce vitamins,3 absorb minerals4 and break down indigestible dietary fiber, turning it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids5Eliminate toxins6 from your bodyBenefit your mood and mental healthBoost weight loss7,8,9Beneficial bacteria also control the growth of disease-causing bacteria by competing for nutrition and attachment sites in your colon. This is of immense importance, as pathogenic bacteria and other less beneficial microbes can wreak havoc with your health if they gain the upper hand. ...

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The ‘dream team’ for the cold and flu season

As we are in the midst of the annual cold and flu season, I want to share the basic plan I use to support my patients during this time. It includes three supplements I use for people of all ages when they feel an acute illness coming on. First, it is important to remember that even though it is common to blame all acute illnesses on microbes, fundamentally, viruses and bacteria are scavengers in nature. Bacteria digest debris in nature, and viruses are intracellular parasites that "infect" cells that demonstrate some type of weakness. In other words, the infectious nature of acute illness is only one side of the story; the other side is the "terrain," or the condition of the person who gets sick. The three supplements I predominantly use for most acute illnesses address both sides of this...

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EAT-Lancet’s plant-based planet: 10 things you need to know

An important new study about global nutrition was published this week that deserves everyone's full attention: "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems." This paper was commissioned and published by The Lancet - one of the world's oldest and most respected medical journals - and penned by an international group of 37 scientists led by Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University. The product of three years of deliberation, this 47-page document envisions a "Great Food Transformation" which seeks to achieve an environmentally sustainable and optimally healthy diet for the world's people by 2050. Its core recommendation is to minimize consumption of animal foods as much as possible, and replace them with whole grains, legumes and nuts: ...

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Mitochondria play an unexpected role in killing bacteria

According to biology textbooks, a macrophage engulfs a bacterium, internalizes it in a toxin-filled vesicle called a phagosome, then shuttles the cellular remains to a lysosome for degradation. But killing microbial invaders turns out to be a lot more complex, with other organelles such as mitochondria-the main sites of energy production in the cell-participating in the process. One piece of evidence for mitochondria's role surfaced in 2011, when researchers curtailed the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) - highly destructive molecules that are byproducts of metabolism - in mouse macrophage mitochondria, and found that the immune cells became less effective at killing bacteria. Four years later, immunologist Mary O'Riordan of the University of Michigan Medical School uncovered another piece of the puzzle when she exposed mouse macrophages to the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This appeared to activate a particular stress pathway...

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It’s the brain-altering drugs stupid: Opioids, SSRIs, anti-psychotics, benzodiazepines & suicidality

This morning, just as I was about to start writing my weekly Duty to Warn column, I glanced through the Duluth News-Tribune and couldn't help but notice a full-page ad on page A3. The ad was titled "Rallying to Address Opioid Addiction". The color-printed ad likely cost well over a thousand dollars and was paid for by an entity that I had never heard of before called "Rx ALI Minnesota" (Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative). The group was apparently a fresh new "alliance" of "concerned" corporate entities that were suddenly interested in the opioid crisis that is affecting all portions of America. Or maybe the interest of some of the major alliance entities sponsoring the ad had some ulterior motives, such as trying to obscure the guilt that they should be acknowledging in actually causing the addiction and suicidality crises in...

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WHO says vaccine hesitancy ranks with Ebola and HIV as global threats

The anti-vaccination trend has landed next to HIV and Ebola as a key global threat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Experts say "vaccine hesitancy" risks reversing progress in fighting preventable diseases. Although various diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, such as diphtheria and meningitis, were on WHO's health threat lists before, in 2019 the organization included "vaccine hesitancy." Among other top 10 threats are HIV/AIDS, the global influenza pandemic, along with the spread of the deadly Ebola virus and Dengue fever, as well as air pollution, lack of primary care and noncommunicable diseases like diabetes. Vaccination remains one of the most "cost-effective" ways to avoid infection, WHO stated, and refusing it directly threatens to cancel out the progress made in fighting preventable diseases. The WHO listed "complacency" and "lack of confidence" among the key reasons why people...

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