The Fruit You Need to Be Eating More Of

Shelley Emling, wrote for the  AARP Health Newsletter that we already knew avocados are good for us. After all, they’re packed with protein (the good-quality kind), potassium and antioxidants. But we just didn’t know how good they are for us. Until now.

An April 2017 review of 129 previously published studies related to avocados found that eating the fruit — and eating it often — could ward off metabolic syndrome. Ominously nicknamed the “new silent killer,” metabolic syndrome is the label applied to a deadly combination of three or more risk factors that can lead to stroke, diabetes and heart disease. These risk factors include abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure.

(And yes, you might be tempted to call an avocado a veggie. But technically, it’s a fruit — and more specifically, a single-seeded berry.)

Avocados and their healthy fats appear to have the most dramatic impact on cholesterol levels, which have a positive effect on obesity rates, heart health and blood pressure. But they can help fight off almost every other aspect of metabolic syndrome, as well. And metabolic syndrome is not a condition to take lightly, as it affects 40 percent of Americans 40 and older.

If that weren’t enough, avocados also have been shown to stave off belly fat, the worst kind of fat to carry, and boost metabolism.

“This is just yet another study to show that avocados truly deserve superfood status,” Healthmagazine’s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass told Time magazine. Sass was not one of the researchers involved in the review but agrees that it includes “an impressive range of studies.”

Sass also pointed out that avocados fill you up — which means it’s hard to eat too much of this food that’s high in healthy fat. If anything, people who eat a lot of avocados generally weigh less than those who don’t.

“This is yet another example of how not all calories are created equal,” Sass told Time.

The new review of studies, conducted by Iranian researchers, was published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

Fortunately, American consumption of avocados has skyrocketed in the past four decades, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released in January 2017. Indeed, thanks in part to the avocado’s reputation as a healthy fat, consumption of avocados jumped 1,342 percent between 1970 and 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the bandwagon and whip up some guacamole. For something a bit different, check out AARP’s recipe for a bacon-lettuce-avocado-tomato sandwichor this recipe for avocados stuffed with crab-mango salad.

Bronchitis or Pneumonia?

Matt McMillen wrote for AARP that respiratory conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia symptoms are often hard to differentiate, but this guide can help.

Bronchitis and pneumonia both affect the lungs and share some common symptoms, but they are different diseases that require different treatment. Here’s how you can tell the difference.



The less severe of the two, acute bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the bronchi, the branching tubes that deliver air into the lungs. (Chronic bronchitis is a different subject altogether.)

The most common symptoms of bronchitis include:

  • Coughing with clear, yellow or green sputum (the gunk you cough up)
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Runny, stuffy nose occurring before chest congestion begins
  • Shortness of breath, usually following a coughing jag
  • Discomfort in the center of the chest due to cough

Mild fever

Although yellow or green sputum is often thought to indicate bacterial infection, don’t be fooled.

“Over 80 to 90 percent of bronchitis in otherwise healthy people is viral, not bacterial, in origin, especially if the symptoms of bronchitis follow a cold,” says Homer Boushey, M.D., a lung specialist and professor emeritus of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics. In fact, says Boushey, antibiotics will kill many of the healthy, protective bacteria in your body. “That leaves you more susceptible to disease-causing bacteria.”

Acute bronchitis will most often go away on its own within a week to 10 days, though your mucus-y cough will likely persist for several more weeks.

“It’s just a matter of the body cleaning up the mess,” says pulmonologist Len Horovitz, M.D., of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Most people recover just fine from bronchitis.”


  • An inflammation of the lungs, pneumonia has many of the same symptoms as bronchitis, including:
  • Persistent fever (often high)
  • Cough, often with yellow or green mucus
  • Chills, which sometimes cause shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Confusion (which occurs primarily in older people)

Though many of the signs may be similar, pneumonia is much more serious than acute bronchitis. It’s more often caused by bacteria than by a virus, which means that antibiotics can be used to treat it. However, bacterial pneumonia can be a fast-moving disease that needs attention right away, says Boushey.

“Don’t wait too long to get treated,” he warns. “If you come in with very advanced pneumonia, it may be too late. For people who come in right away, we have good treatments.”

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Elizabeth Millard, a freelance journalist specializing in health and fitness, shared that for many people, the battle with sugar can be particularly ferocious. It can arise during an afternoon slump at work, first thing in the morning, after every meal, in the middle of a workout — or, worst, in the middle of the night. In a sugar-laden world, it becomes too easy to reach for a quick fix.

Cravings tend to crop up when there’s a sense of depletion. However, if you can pinpoint what you lack, it’s easier to make healthier choices instead of going for something sugar-coated.

Here are a few possibilities for what may be driving those sweet cravings:


For many people, a sugar craving in the form of chocolate could signal a lack of magnesium, a common deficiency according to researcher Susan Yanovski from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Yanovski says that around 80% of people in the U.S. may be deficient in the mineral, which can be tied to irritability, insomnia and high blood pressure. If you feel stressed, chocolate may seem like the answer, but it could be your body yearning for magnesium instead.

While the cacao in chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, the sugar in chocolate could turn frequent consumption into a potential problem since it causes insulin spikes and other issues. Instead of chocolate, reach for non-sugar magnesium sources like nuts, seeds, beans and dark leafy greens.


“If we are to prescribe a diet to improve someone’s health, it’s important that we understand what microbes help control those beneficial effects,” says Jeffrey Gordon biologist and professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sugar cravings can sometimes be the result of an imbalance in your gut health, which means that all those good bacteria in your digestive system aren’t working as happily as they could be. Compounding the problem is that eating sugary junk food makes the problem worse.

In his research, Gordon found consumption of sugary food can cause gut bacteria to become dependent on it, and cause rejection when healthier foods are introduced. That’s right: Your gut can actively sabotage your attempts to eat better. But the good news is that it can be retrained, according to Gordon.

By bringing in foods that promote healthier bacteria — particularly options with high amounts of probiotics like low-sugar yogurt and other fermented foods — the good bacteria can replace the saboteurs.



Although sleep might be part of resting, consider adding more non-snoozing time into your day instead of seeing bedtime as your only opportunity to get some stress relief.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” notes that lack of adequate rest can make your body feel depleted in many ways, including nutritionally. This can kick off a need for a “boost” that might come in the form of sugar. While that may provide a temporary surge, it’s very short-lived and can quickly become a habit.

He suggests integrating short rest periods into every day, especially at times when sugar cravings are strong. For instance, instead of that afternoon pick-me-up of sugary snacks, try going for a 15-minute walk outside. Walking is a conscious form of rest, Pang says, because it offers a break from everyday stressors.

Sometimes, sugar cravings can be particularly strong when you have a combination of these factors. For example, you might feel overwhelmed at work, which leads to less-than-ideal food choices that quickly turn into depletion and fatigue.

That kind of chain reaction sets up a condition for cravings. But fortunately, you can easily create healthier habits by taking a moment when the sugar monster appears to consider what you really want instead.


Why Eating Avocados May Help You Live Longer

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LDan Atlanta-based registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in food and nutrition communications, shared the following in an post for My Fitness Pal.

It’s officially California avocado season. If you haven’t joined in on the smashing, scooping, slicing and avocado rose-making yet, now is a good time to jump in.

Avocados are not Instagram-famous for nothing. This bumpy on the outside, creamy on the inside fruit is chock full of good-for-you nutrients. Avocados provide 11% of the daily value for fiber and boast almost 20 vitamins and minerals including potassium and folate.

We know this popular fruit is good for us, but a new review of the scientific literature suggestsregularly eating avocados may help prevent metabolic syndrome. According to theAmerican Heart Association, as many as 34% of American adults may have metabolic syndrome, a group of factors that increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Some of those factors include having extra fat in the mid-section, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels, higher fasting blood sugar and high blood pressure. Read more

3 Ways to Tame Inflammation

Laura Tedesco shared inTivity Health”s  Silver Sneakers newsletter that there are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic.

Acute is generally the good kind. When you stub your toe or come into contact with germs, your immune system leaps into action, summoning its first responders—white blood cells known as neutrophils—to the scene within minutes. They assess the damage and, if they spot an invader like a virus, prepare for battle.

Meanwhile, the cells themselves release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines to help fight invaders and recruit other immune cells to the injury site.

Once the neutrophils defeat the enemy, white blood cells known as macrophages arrive and clean up, allowing your body to heal and resume its normal, healthy functioning. Crisis averted.

Here’s the problem: Sometimes, the switch from killing to cleanup doesn’t happen—trapping your body in a state of chronic inflammation. “It’s usually not pathogen-driven,” explains Wajahat Mehal, Ph.D., M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Yale University. That means the invader isn’t bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.

More likely, it’s an inert enemy: air pollution infiltrating your body, cholesterol burrowing into your arterial walls, gunk building up in your brain. Even stress hormones and self-particles—bits of our own DNA from cells that have died—can send your body into attack mode, Dr. Mehal says.

The constant immune activity wreaks havoc on your organs. Inflamed fat cells promote fat storage. Inflamed arteries develop pimple-like lesions that can burst and cause sudden death. An inflamed liver can lead to fatal cirrhosis. An inflamed brain can open you to dementia.

“Chronic inflammation is like having a sore on the inside of your body that never heals,” says Lori Shemek, Ph.D., author of How to Fight FATflammation!

Make no mistake: Chronic inflammation is bad news. But there’s good news too. You can control and even largely prevent it, says Barry Sears, M.D., an expert in anti-inflammatory nutrition and founder of the Zone Diet. “Eighty percent of your ability to control inflammation comes from your diet, 15 percent comes from moderate exercise, and 5 percent from meditation,” Dr. Sears says.

So let’s fix them, one by one.

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Happy Fourth Of July

5 Non-Stimulant Fat Burners for People Sensitive to Caffeine

Alex Eriksson   at asks, “Do you want to lose fat but maintain muscle mass?” Most people do! One way to support your fat loss goals is to use fat burner supplements along with regular exercise and a proper diet.

The problem with many popular fat burner supplements today is that they contain stimulants that induce changes in your adrenalin release and heart rate. These stimulant-based fat burners also directly affect the nervous system and raise blood pressure. People who are sensitive to caffeine are thus not able to use these supplements for fat loss.

In this light, which supplements can be safely used by caffeine-sensitive people wanting to lose body fat?


Why Some People Don’t Do Well with Stimulants

It has something to do with genetics. The COMT gene is one of the many genes that affect the way stimulants work in the body.

Caffeine increases the production and release of substances called catecholamines. High concentrations of catecholamines in the blood may cause damage in the heart muscle and eventually lead to higher risks of heart attacks.

Catechol-0-Methyl Transferase (COMT) breaks down the catecholamines released through caffeine ingestion. Now, caffeine-sensitive individuals often have COMT genes that aren’t that active. These slow-acting genes are unable to process excess catecholamine activity, leading to higher risks of muscular heart damage and increased heart attack risk. This explains why caffeine-sensitive people often experience rapid heartbeat after ingesting just a small amount of caffeine.


Going for Non-Stimulant Fat Burners

People who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid taking stimulant fat burners for the important reason – stimulant fat burners contain caffeine or stimulants such as ephedrine which increases risks of heart attacks and other heart conditions such as arrhythmia.

So, take your hard work in losing body fat up a notch by using non-stimulant fat burners to speed things up in a safer way. Non-stimulant fat burners utilize healthier substances instead of stimulants to remove excess fat in the body.

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Know the signs of Lyme disease

Sivakami Krishnan, MD  in  Healthy Driven Life shared that the first indication you may have Lyme disease probably won’t be the bug bite.

Lyme disease is transmitted by tiny ticks. They’re so small, you probably wouldn’t even feel their bite.If the tick transmitted Lyme disease, however, you may start to feel like you have the flu. You might even notice a bullseye-shaped rash on your skin.

If you see a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Get a pair of tweezers and follow these directions from the Centers for Disease Control to remove it.

Then, watch for symptoms of illness.

The CDC offers this comprehensive list of symptoms of Lyme disease, which first start 3 to 30 days after a tick bite:

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash:
    • Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
    • Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
    • Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
    • May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
    • Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
    • May appear on any area of the body
    • See examples of EM rashes

If Lyme disease isn’t treated, the symptoms can progress. In the days to months after the tick bite, the CDC reports that you may experience:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints
  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory

People with Lyme disease are often treated with antibiotics, which completely clears up the disease in most cases.

If you suspect you may have contracted Lyme disease, see your doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment.

Why you need to check your blood pressure

Alison Sage, D.O. in  Healthy Driven Life, Healthy Driven Hearts shared that Heart attack. Stroke. Vision loss. Sexual dysfunction are some of the problems you face if your blood pressure gets too high.It’s important to note that high blood pressure comes without symptoms. You don’t feel a thing. Meanwhile, your arteries are being damaged.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common. The American Heart Association reports one out of three Americans older than 20 have high blood pressure. That’s 85 million people.

So how do you know if you have high blood pressure? Have your doctor measure it. If it’s normal, have it checked again in a year or two. If it’s high, your doctor may want you to try measuring it at home to get a bigger picture of the pressure over time.

You can purchase a blood pressure monitor at your local pharmacy or online. Look for one with a cuff that fits around your arm. This Consumer Reports article lays out some features to look for in a home blood pressure monitor.

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Cardiac rehab key to recovery and new lifestyle

Jana Tindall, RN and Lisa Reid, MS from Healthy Driven Hearts shared that cardiopulmonary rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is an essential part of your continued care following a heart attack, heart failure or a heart procedure, such as angioplasty and stent, heart surgery or transplant.

Your doctor will likely recommend you make some changes in your life, and cardiac rehab is key to helping you implement these lifestyle changes and restore your heart health. In fact, cardiac rehab decreases the risk of a future heart event by stabilizing, slowing or even reversing the progression of cardiovascular disease.

The process starts when you are in the hospital, and continues on an outpatient basis with the goal of continuing and/or integrating fitness and wellness into your daily life.

The program consists of three phases and is led by registered nurses, exercise physiologists and respiratory therapists:

    • Phase 1 is focused on educating you in the hospital. You are given information regarding your specific heart condition, activity/home walking program, nutrition, medications, risk factor and lifestyle changes, and emergency planning.


    • Phase 2 begins 3-4 weeks following your hospitalization. You receive an individualized treatment plan and work toward personalized goals with the cardiac rehab team. The team works closely with you as you progress through the program. They monitor your heart rate and blood pressure to evaluate for possible concerns as well as improvements. You attend an exercise program in cardiac rehab 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Each 60-minute session consists of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. There is also an educational component that consists of topics such as stress management, nutrition, risk factor management and overall cardiac education.


    • Phase 3 is a non-monitored, self-directed exercise program offered to you after you complete phase 2. It is important to continue to exercise on your own and make fitness a regular habit. This program is open to anyone who has participated in a cardiac rehab program or has a doctor referral.


Cardiac rehab doesn’t change the past, but it can improve your heart’s future. Your participation and completion of the program will give you the confidence to live well with heart disease.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for cardiac rehab, speak to your doctor and obtain an order for cardiac rehab. You will need to verify your insurance coverage prior to beginning cardiac rehab.