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Salt Reduction Makes an Impact in the U.K.

While still too high, the English are benefitting from lower salt consumption.

Between 2003 and 2011 stroke deaths in the U.K. decreased 42% (P<0.001) and ischemic heart disease fell by 40% (P<0.001). During the same time salt intake decreased by 1.4 g/day (P<0.01) measured by 24-hour urinary sodium. The findings of this 8-year study appear to support a key role for lower salt intake. Despite this progress, the 2011 average salt intake in England (8.1 g/day) is still 35% higher than the recommended 6 g/day.

PositiveTip: Make intentional efforts to eat less salty foods!

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A Surprising Reason for Migraine Strikes

Relaxation after high stress may trigger migraines.

Researchers may know why migraines sometimes strike the weekend after a stressful week. The debilitating pain of a migraine headache is five times more likely to strike in the first six hours after a reduction in heightened stress. Evidence suggests that the stress-hormone cortisol, which spikes during heightened stress, may trigger a migraine as its blood levels drop during relaxation from the stress.

PositiveTip: Deep breathing, walk breaks and other stress management techniques can avoid chronic elevated stress and the potential migraine fallout.

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Suicides a Major Part of Firearm Deaths

Eighty-eight people die every day in the U.S. from firearm injuries.

Mass shootings capture our attention via the media. They are terrible events and we hate to see the senseless suffering. Most may not be aware that there are 88 deaths each day in the U.S. due to firearm injuries. In rural areas suicides were the major cause of these deaths, and in the cities homicide.

PositiveTip: Alcohol and substance abuse combined with isolation and the ready availability of a gun can be a deadly mixture.

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Alcohol Accelerates Cognitive Decline

Drinking 2.5 drinks per day adds 5.7 years of cognitive aging to middle-age men.

Middle-aged men who drink 2.5 alcoholic drinks each day (36 grams of alcohol) are significantly more likely to experience cognitive decline in all areas, especially memory. This association for women was not as strong, but women who drink 19 grams or more of alcohol each day seem to experience faster declines in executive function. The specific type of beverage consumed made little difference.

PositiveTip: Preserve your brain's health--avoid all alcohol!

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Public Smoking Bans Save Lives

Preliminary results link smoking bans with reduced cardiovascular disease.

Michigan's state-wide ban on indoor smoking may have helped save lives. American College of Cardiology researchers found that cardiovascular disease related hospitalizations reduced by 2% from 65,329 people to 64,002. On top of these 1,327 lives affected, in-hospital deaths related to cardiovascular disease decreased by 0.38%. The study wasn't able to eliminate all potential confounders, but adds to growing evidence for the potential benefits of public smoking bans.

Positive Tip: Support local efforts to eliminate smoking indoors and seek help in quitting if you smoke.

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Physical Activity Keeps Kids Fit

Elementary school kids who did not participate in exercise gained weight.

Physical education has declined dramatically in most elementary schools. Researchers found that a 9-month, after school exercise program for 8 and 9 year old elementary school children improved their physical fitness and helped them control their weight. The control group showed no improvements. This program provided moderate to vigorous physical activity 5 times per week.

PositiveTip: Provide your children regular physical activity--even if school does not.

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TV Portrayals of Smoking Influences Adults

Reduction of smoking instances on prime time TV associated with less adult smoking.

Kids tend to start smoking more often when they are exposed to tobacco advertising. Tobacco use on television also seems to influence adults. Researchers found as smoking was shown less on prime time TV from 1955 to 2010 (five smoking instances per hour to 0.29 per hour), U.S. adults smoked less. This reduction was half that attributed to raising cigarette taxes over the same period.

PositiveTip: Avoiding exposure to smoking (and other harmful habits) may reduce cravings and encourage positive change.

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Fat Teens Have Shorter Lives

Obese kids and adolescents appear to face an early death.

Adults who were overweight or obese during their adolescence were significantly more likely to die before reaching 50 years old than their normal-weight peers. While life-expectancy gains of the last 50 years have been very encouraging, this analysis of more than 2 million Israelis from ages 17 to 50 suggests this progress may be wiped out as a result of the obesity epidemic of today.

PositiveTip: Parents must do all they can to encourage their kids to maintain a healthy weight.

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Chalk-up More Benefits to Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle intervention can reduce the long-term risks of diabetes.

A 23 year follow-up of 6-years of lifestyle intervention among a group of patients who had impaired glucose tolerance in China found a 45% lower risk of diabetes and a 41% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Patients were randomized to diet-only, exercise-only, both diet and exercise or standard medical care groups. There were some marked gender differences, and the authors suggested men may not have been as adherent.

PositiveTip: Choose an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for good long-term outcomes!

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Longevity Linked to Plant-rich Diets

Moms are right: Eat your fruits and veggies!

Consuming seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily reduced all-cause mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease according to a large British study. The average consumption was just under four portions per day. It is not hard to eat seven servings as the standard portion size for most fruits and vegetables is one-half cup. This study also found that canned fruits are linked with increased mortality, possibly because of the high sugar content.

PositiveTip: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, mostly fresh, for a healthy life.