The Best Apps for Managing Stress

Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In the short-term, low level stress can help us focus and improve our performance. It can give us the boost we need to finish a big project or make an important decision. However, I think we can all agree when we say that an overabundance of stress is the absolute worst.

First, a quick primer on stress: Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life.  When your brain perceives a threat (anything from a fast approaching deadline to a fast-approaching wild animal), it signals your body to release a burst of hormones that increase your heart rate and raise your blood pressure. This “fight-or-flight” response fuels you to deal with the stressful situation at hand. Once the threat (or stress-inducing trigger) is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. However, given the nonstop complications of modern life,  many of us rarely return to that relaxed state, merely hopping from one stressor to another.

It’s easy to get stressed out from day-to-day demands. Luckily, there are healthy ways to manage your stress.

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Monday Morning Round-Up #8

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Stanford and UC Berkeley researchers develop wearable sweat sensor as diagnostic tool via Mobi Health News 

In the form of a wrist-worn band embedded with flexibile sensors and microprocessers, researchers at Stanford and the University of California Berkeley are unlocking the molecular insights from sweat that could diagnose cystic fibrosis, diabetes and other diseases.

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Monday Morning Round-Up #7

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

American Heart Association survey finds patients uncertain about how to best manage their cholesterol via the American Heart Association

According to a new survey from the American Heart Association, nearly 90 percent of the patients with high cholesterol surveyed said they understood it was important to manage their cholesterol levels. But 45 percent said they weren’t confident in their ability to do so, and another 40 percent said they were confused about how to go about it.

How Apple, Google, and other tech titans aim to shake up the way we treat disease via Stat News

Silicon Valley has audacious plans for shaking up the way we diagnose — and cure — disease. But the life sciences are far more challenging than the tech titans of this world might realize: There are countless regulatory hurdles, health care delivery obstacles, and — most of all — the challenge of untangling the extraordinarily complex biology of the human body.

From physician to felon: A doctor warns how easy it is to be bribed via The Washington Post

On Tuesday, internist Michele Martinho spoke to a small audience at the Georgetown University School of Medicine as both a physician and a felon, her world upended by an aspect of medical practice for which she received no training despite all those years of education. She accepted monthly payments of $5,000 to refer patients to a New Jersey facility, Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, for blood tests and other screenings. Such referrals are illegal in medicine because of the potential that doctors will put their financial interests ahead of the needs of their patients.

Incidence Trends of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes among Youths, 2002–2012 via The New England Journal of Medicine

More children are being diagnosed with diabetes every year — but the extent of those increases differs dramatically across ethnic groups. A new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the incidence of type 1 diabetes in kids rose by 1.8 percent annually between 2002 and 2012. But in Hispanic children the rise was 4.2 percent. A similar trend was seen with type 2 diabetes: The annual rise was .6 percent for white children, compared to 3.1 percent for Hispanics, 6.3 percent for blacks, 8.5 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 8.9 percent for Native Americans.

Asbestos Deaths Remain A Public Health Concern, CDC Finds via NPR

A recent CDC analysis found that thousands of people are still dying each year from a type of cancer called malignant mesothelioma that is associated with inhaling asbestos fibers, even briefly or in small amounts. Even after decades of regulation, between 1999 and 2015 there were 45,221 mesothelioma deaths in the U.S. The majority of those who died were men.

Working Outside: Making it Work for You

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 11/19/15.

Feeling a little down sitting at your desk? Or is the stress of the day making you irritable and overwhelmed? The remedy may be closer than you think – a short stint outside could be just what the doctor ordered!

In 2005, Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” to describe the feelings of anxiety and depression that many people feel when they spend too little time outside. There’s a reason we all fondly remember recess from our childhood – taking a brief break from the hard chairs and florescent lights of our offices and classrooms can make a huge difference in our health and mood. This beneficial time outside is something adult Americans are largely missing. Read on to discover the health benefits of taking your work outside, as well as some tips on how to make working outside possible and productive.

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The College of Medicine Health Sciences Campus has plenty of greenspace to take advantage of!

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5 Reasons to Eat Seasonally

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on March 24th, 2016. 

As you walk through the produce aisles of your favorite grocery store, you may notice different fruits and vegetables on display sporting messages like “At Seasons Peak!” or “Now In Season!” throughout the year. If you’ve never thought about grabbing those veggies while they’re hot, maybe you should! As National Nutrition Month slowly comes to a close, take a moment to introduce yourself to the concept of Seasonal Eating, and the benefits of adopting this nutritious habit.

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5 Ways the Natural Medicines Database Has Your Back

If you’ve ever found yourself wandering down the aisles of your local grocery store staring pensively at the rows upon rows of vitamins, natural remedies and supplements, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to determine if any of these products can safely support your health and wellness goals. To wrap up this month’s focus on nutrition, we’d like to introduce you to a database you may not know much about which can help you tackle those tough questions. Here are some ways the Natural Medicines database can help you out, and why you should add it to your arsenal of reliable health resources.

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Monday Morning Round-Up #6

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Study: App-based visits seem viable for post-surgical follow-ups via Mobi Health News

Women recovering from breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy may be just fine checking in with their doctors via their smartphone rather than having to visit in person, a small study published in JAMA Surgery suggested.

Facing significant yellow fever outbreak, Brazil appeals for more vaccine via Stat News

Brazil, in the grips of an unusually large yellow fever outbreak, has asked for millions of doses of vaccine from an international emergency stockpile. The body that maintains and manages the stockpile, the International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision, has approved the release of more than 3.5 million doses of the vaccine, according to the Brazilian office of the Pan American Health Organization.

Experimental Stem Cell Treatment Leaves Three Women Blind via Kaiser Health News

An experimental treatment — which blinded three women after stem cells from abdominal fat were injected into their eyes — was advertised on a government-run clinical trial website but lacked proper safeguards, researchers reported Wednesday. The report in the New England Journal of Medicine notes that the procedures were part of a national rise in the number of clinics harnessing stem cells from fat to treat a variety of diseases — even though many have not been proven to work.

New evidence shows that the lungs are a site of platelet biogenesis via Nature

Our bone marrow is constantly churning out platelets, but researchers have turned up new evidence the lungs are pumping out tons of platelets, too. Platelets are the smallest type of blood cell circulating around the body. In a mouse study published in Nature, researchers found platelet-producing cells called megakaryocytes churn out nearly 10 million platelets per hour.

Harvard researchers develop low-cost, smartphone-based male fertility test via Mobi Health News

Scientists have developed a method to test for male infertility that doesn’t require much more than a smartphone. By building an app and pairing with a custom-made 3D-printed case that can magnify sperm and reveal the number of sperm and their motility, researchers at Harvard Medical School affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General have devised a cheap, quick and convenient way for any man to perform his own semen analysis.

The Health Benefits of Owning Pets

Today is possibly the best holiday of the whole entire year – National Puppy Day! The Health Sciences Library is full of animal lovers – collectively the library staff owns more than 20 animals! If you are obsessed with love animals like I do, you already know that spending time with furry friends can improve your mood and make you feel cozy inside. However, did you know that there are actually a myriad of health benefits to owning a pet? And for those of you who aren’t pet owners – many of these benefits also take effect if you just spend quality time with an animal, so you can still reap the benefits through playing with another person’s animal for a bit!

Increased physical activity

It’s no secret that owning a pet increases your likelihood to engage in physical activity – after all, most animals need to be walked and/or played with multiple times a day. This increase in physical activity is very healthy, and can even help you lose excess weight.  A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health of more than 2,000 adults found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don’t own dogs at all.

Spending time with animals can help you get moving more often.

Improved heart health

Spending time with an animal on a regular basis can also improve your heart health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings show that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t.

Improved mood

Not only do pets offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness.

In an ongoing study, a University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have found that interacting and petting animals creates a hormonal response in humans that can help fight depression. Rebecca Johnson, one of the researchers on the team, discusses the findings: “our preliminary results indicate that levels of serotonin, a hormone in humans that helps fight depression, rise dramatically after interaction with live animals, specifically dogs.” The research also suggests that interacting with animals can increase the levels of prolactin and oxytocin in a person’s system, helping regulate their mood.

Your pet’s love can help improve your mood.

Improved immunity

Johnson also says that interacting with animals can give you more than a short-term mood boost, it may also have longer-term human health benefits. “Oxytocin has some powerful effects for us in the body’s ability to be in a state of readiness to heal, and also to grow new cells, so it predisposes us to an environment in our own bodies where we can be healthier.”

As you can see, interacting with animals is a fun and enjoyable way to take care of both your mental and physical health. Why don’t you celebrate National Puppy Day with on of the dogs (or cats) in your life?

Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

https://consensus.nih.gov/1987/1987healthbenefitspetsta003html.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6563527

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422527/

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/benefits-of-pets/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-and-risks-of-pet-ownership

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/05/14/1552.aspx

 

Tips for a Healthy Spring

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on April 14, 2016. 

Springtime brings with it a flurry of activity and a sense of renewal. The flowers bloom, the weather warms, and I get an intense drive to clean my home and refresh it for a new season. Although this season abounds with fresh opportunities, it also brings its own health concerns (pollen, anyone?). Follow these tips to help you have a healthy spring and enjoy the best of the season!

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How will you stay healthy this spring?

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Celebrating Pioneering Women in Medicine: March is Women’s History Month!

Happy Women’s History Month!! Although you don’t have to go far to run into a brilliant female medical student, faculty member, of staff member at the UCF College of Medicine, medical education was not always so. The first American woman to become a medical doctor (Elizabeth Blackwell), obtained her medical degree in 1849, but it has been a slow journey to the more diverse (though still imperfect) medical education system in the U.S. today.

In a previous post, In Celebration of Brilliant Women: March is Women’s History Month, I discussed the current state of the gender disparity in medical education: “Although it is clear that women have come a long way in American history, the glass ceiling seems to be alive and well in academic medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, although nearly half of American medical students and medical residents are women (47% and 46%, respectively), only 16% of deans, 15% of department chairs, and 33% of senior associate/vice deans are women. As of 2014, only 22 out of the 141 deans of American medical schools were women.” Happily, the UCF College of Medicine is ahead of this national curve, and the numbers of women in academic medicine are slowly changing to match those of the larger medical profession.

We love celebrating and supporting the awesome female medical students, faculty, and staff studying at and employed by the UCF College of Medicine, as well as celebrating influential women in medicine throughout history. We’ve rounded up some of these female pioneers in medicine for your Women’s History Month reading pleasure:

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