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Wishing You a Healthy New Year

In your quest for health, don't reach for products--reach for a lifestyle.

On the last day of this year, you may be thinking about making resolutions to will improve your health. Dr. Max Hammonds shares three absolute rules for reaching success:

  1. There are no magic pills--none. Quick-fixes don' exist and are a waste of time.
  2. One size does not fit all. Find what works for you.
  3. It takes time to heal. Never start programs that end in just a few weeks. 

PositiveTip: Carefully follow Dr. Hammonds nine simple steps to good health. Happy New Year!

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Teens Perception of Pot Changing

The marijuana industry wants to grow its profits while downplaying the health risks.

After marijuana was legalized in Washington and Colorado, teens perceived it less harmful and use of the drug in this group increased--especially in the younger teens. A large national survey has found even in states without laws allowing recreational use, the perception of the harmfulness of marijuana declined significantly following passage of these laws. While these laws are aimed primarily at adults, they also effect the younger generations.

PositiveTip: Don't let the rising popularity of marijuana blind you from the adverse effects.

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Sleep Deprivation Common on the Street

Insominia and fatigue common when living on the streets with no fixed address.

This time of the year many of us savior the blessings of home and family. A survey from France compared age, sex, and location-matched individuals in the general population with homeless people and found they got significantly less sleep. The homeless, especially women, were most likely to report sleeping less than 4 hours per night. Additionally, 41% of the homeless experienced insomnia compared with only 19% in the general population.

PositiveTip: Homeless shelters can assist individuals by improving alertness, health, and the ability to face daily challenges.

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Hearing Loss First, then Dementia?

The worse the hearing loss, the greater the risk of developing dementia.

Researchers with the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging have found a strong association between hearing loss and dementia. When compared to individuals with normal hearing, those with mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss had, respectively, a 2, 3, and 5 fold, increased risk of developing dementia over the 18 year study. This correlation held true even when age, diabetes, hypertension, and other confounders were ruled out.

PositiveTip: Have your hearing tested by an audiologist, and if needed, wear hearing aids to hear better and to protect your brain.

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The Slippery Slope of Dishonesty

One evil habit, if not firmly resisted, will strengthen into chains of steel, binding the whole man.

A fascinating series of computer-based experiments on 55 participants discovered that with each successive lie, MRI evidence showed progressively decreasing activity in the amygdala. This decreasing emotional response illustrated that small acts of dishonesty tend to become ever more blatant and less disturbing. An early health reformer once stated: "One wrong act prepares the way for another." (Child Guidance 202). So true!

PositiveTip: Remember: unethical behaviors tend to escalate. We must stay on the path of honesty.

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Sugar Tax Impact in the U.K.

A three-tiered U.K. sugar tax is set to reduce health care costs.

Based on a report last year from the U.K. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, the U.K. has decided to implement in 2018 a three-tiered tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB):

  • High tax: >8 g sugar/100 ml
  • Moderate tax: 5-8 g/100 ml
  • No tax: <5 g/100 ml

Researchers have now estimated, based on modeling scenarios, this will significantly benefit the prevalence of obesity (150,000 fewer obese), type 2 diabetes, and a reduction in dental caries.

PositiveTip: Reduce your consumption of refined sugars to cut your risk of disease.

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Holiday Shots Fired in the War on Sugar

New study suggests that restricting junk food is based on junk science.

A systematic review of the the evidence supporting current recommendations for significantly lowering sugar intake says they are based on weak  evidence. However, an accompanying editorial says this is not trustworthy because it was funded by an organization (ILSI) supported by Coca-Cola and other food and beverage manufacturers. These are similar to claims made by the tobacco industry discrediting evidence on the harmfulness of tobacco.

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Just for Fun: Naming Body Parts

The early scholars named body parts after what they looked like!

Have you ever wondered why bones and organs and muscles are named the way they are? In most cases the names were chosen so they could easily be remembered--in early Greek or Latin. For instance, the hole at the bottom of the skull is named the "foramen magnum." Very impressive? It simply means a "really big hole." 

PositiveTip: Have a little fun this holiday season by educating yourself on the naming of body parts--then share this new knowledge with your guests!

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Obesity and Teen Screen Time

Five or more hours per day of screen time significantly associated with obesity in teens.

The Center for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System collects data from grades 9-12 yearly. When looking at the self-reported data on the amount of screen time outside of school work, researchers found 20% were spending 5 plus hours per day of screen time and this was associated with 272% greater odds of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption compared to those who did not watch TV.

PositiveTip: Help your teens limit the amount of screen time to lower their risk of obesity.

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Preventing "Holiday Heart Syndrome"

Habitual moderate drinking and binge drinking predisposes people to atrial fibrillation.

Holiday revelers be warned: it is well known that heavy drinking, even in the occasional binge, leads to atrial fibrillation (AF). Now in a sobering review, Australian scientists report even though small amounts of alcohol are considered by many to be cardioprotective, these benefits do not extend to AF.

PositiveTip: This holiday season stay safe and healthy by avoiding all alcoholic drinks.