The Active Times: 25 Abs Moves Anyone Can Do

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The abs are some of the hardest muscles to tone. The midsection is the first place most people, particularly women, store weight. It’s just the way th…

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The Ice Bucket Challenge Helped Researchers Find a Key ALS Gene

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It was two summers ago that our Facebook feeds were full of videos of friends and family dumping buckets of ice-cold water over their heads to raise money and awareness for ALS—Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Now we can officially say that the social media stunt has made a real-world difference. 

The ALS Association announced this week that scientists have discovered a new ALS gene, NEK1, that's one of the most common genes linked to the neurodegenerative disease, and a potential new target for treatment. This breakthrough research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, is part of Project MinE, which aims to sequence the genomes of 15,000 people with ALS—​an international effort that recieved $1 million in #IceBucketChallenge donations.

RELATED: The Story Behind the Ice Bucket Videos All Over Your Facebook Feed

“The sophisticated gene analysis that led to this finding was only possible because of the large number of ALS samples available,” said ALS Association chief scientist Lucie Bruijn, PhD, in a press release. “The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge enabled The ALS Association to invest in Project MinE’s work to create large biorepositories of ALS biosamples that are designed to allow exactly this kind of research and to produce exactly this kind of result.”

As the Ice Bucket Challenge began to sweep across the nation in 2014, it was criticized as a classic example of "slacktivism," or activism that requires little actual effort (like signing an online petition, for example, or championing a cause in your Facebook status). 

But in just eight weeks, donations to the ALS Association climbed to $115 million and generated worldwide awareness and support for people affected by the debilitating disease. Since that summer, researchers from all over the globe have identified several ALS genes thanks to funding from the ALS Association that resulted from the viral challenge.

RELATED: Why Everyone on Facebook Is Taking the #22Pushups Challenge

John Landers, PhD, one of the lead researchers on the new study called the discovery of NEK1 "a prime example of the success that can come from the combined efforts of so many people, all dedicated to finding the causes of ALS."

This August, the ALS Association is launching a new campaign to generate funds and awareness. Visit the site to learn more about Every Drop Adds Up.


Could I Have Adrenal Fatigue?

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Q: I keep reading about a problem called “adrenal fatigue.” How can I tell if I have it?

A: Well, theres some debate as to whether this even exists. There is a condition called adrenal insufficiency, or Addisons disease, in which your adrenal glands dont produce enough hormones, and youre left feeling extremely fatigued—even light-headed and achy. A blood test can diagnose this. Adrenal fatigue, on the other hand, is a catchall term used to describe a milder form of insufficiency that cant be detected by blood tests. The symptoms linked to it include aches, nervousness, and sleep and digestive problems, in addition to fatigue. But it isnt a recognized medical diagnosis, and for good reason: Theres no scientific proof that slightly low levels of the hormones produced by your adrenal glands, such as cortisol, cause these symptoms. If you feel inexplicably tired, see your doctor to find out if its a sign of a real health issue, such as a thyroid problem or depression.





The Sneaky Early Signs of Dementia You Should Know About

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Very early dementia may cause changes in personality and behavior—in ways that have nothing to do with memory loss, according to researchers who presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto on Sunday.

Older adults who have become uncharacteristically sad, irritable, anxious, rude, or disinterested in friends or family—and who have been that way for at least six months—could be exhibiting warning signs, they say.

The group of experts is proposing a new diagnosis, called Mild Behavioral Impairment (MBI), which could hopefully help doctors recognize brain changes that may lead to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying this progression sooner, they say, might help to pave the way for earlier treatments and better care for at-risk patients.

Along with the new diagnosis, the team also designed an “MBI Checklist” for doctors, which looks at behaviors involving the patient’s mood, level of motivation, impulse control, social appropriateness, and sensory experiences. Caregivers may also be able to use a version of the checklist once it’s finalized.

The checklist asks 34 questions about qualities that many people may recognize in the older adults in their lives. It suggests that doctors consider any behavior that has “been present for at least six months (continuously, or on and off) and is a change from her/his longstanding pattern of behavior.”

A few of these questions include:

• “Does the person lack curiosity in topics that would usually have attracted her/his interest?”

• “Has the person become more easily frustrated or impatient?”

• “Does the person seem to lack the social judgment she/he previously had about what to say or how to behave in public or private?”

• “Has the person developed suspiciousness about the intentions or motives of other people?”

Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer, Alzheimer’s Association, said in a press release that the new checklist could help change the way doctors evaluate patients for possible early dementia.

“Alzheimer’s is a deadly brain disease, and while memory loss is a hallmark of the disease, early symptoms such as anxiety, confusion and disorientation are often more common, troubling, and obvious to family members,” she said.

It is important to note, however, that not every older adult who becomes cranky or loses interest in certain activities is on the road to dementia. And some experts do worry, the New York Times reports, that making MBI an official condition could lead to over-diagnosis, expensive and unnecessary treatments, and needless worry for patients and their loved ones.

Zahinoor Ismail, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Calgary and co-author of the proposed guidelines, says more research is required before the diagnosis and checklist can be put into practice.

“We are still in the very early stages of understanding this new syndrome,” he tells “Clinical trials still need to be set up to see if treating patients identified earlier this way makes a difference in terms of the time on onset of dementia.”

He is hopeful, however, that patients identified with MBI will be monitored more closely by their doctors; previously they might have been ignored.

And while patients and concerned family members shouldn’t jump to conclusions or self-diagnose, he does believe that a shift in a person’s mental or emotional state is worth checking out.

“Yes, later life changes in personality should be brought up with one’s doctor,” he says.

The new checklist isn’t the only exciting news coming out of the Alzheimer’s Association conference this week. Additional new and novel ways the disease may soon be detected earlier have been proposed, as well.

For example, University of Waterloo scientists unveiled a non-invasive eye-scan technology that may help recognize dementia-specific proteins in the brain before a person develops symptoms. And a team from Columbia University reported that a scratch-and-sniff smell identification test might also be useful in predicting cognitive decline.


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Transgender's Classification as 'Mental Disorder' Is Outdated, Study Finds

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TUESDAY, July 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Being transgender is currently classified as a mental health disorder in the World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases (ICD), but a new study suggests that should change.

And, such a change wouldn’t be without precedent. The American Psychiatric Association removed gender identity disorder from the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

For the new study, Mexican researchers interviewed 250 transgender people.

The researchers found levels of distress were more strongly influenced by social rejection and violence than by being transgender.

Seventy-six percent said they suffered social rejection due to being transgender. This rejection most often came from family members, followed by schoolmates/co-workers and friends, the study showed.

Nearly two-thirds were victims of violence due to their gender identity, the researchers found.

Family members were responsible for nearly half of the cases of violence. The most common types of violence were mental and physical violence. Some of those surveyed reported sexual violence, the study revealed.

This study is the first of its kind, the researchers said. Others are now being conducted in Brazil, France, India, Lebanon and South Africa, the researchers added.

Findings from the study were published July 26 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

“Stigma associated with both mental disorder and transgender identity has contributed to the precarious legal status, human rights violations and barriers to appropriate care among transgender people,” study senior author Geoffrey Reed said in a journal news release. Reed is a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“The definition of transgender identity as a mental disorder has been misused to justify denial of health care and contributed to the perception that transgender people must be treated by psychiatric specialists, creating barriers to health care services,” he said.

Reed said some governments have used the definition of transgender as a mental health disorder in courts to deny people their rights in matters of child custody, reproduction and changing legal documents.

Study lead investigator Rebeca Robles said, “Our findings support the idea that distress and dysfunction may be the result of stigmatization and maltreatment, rather than integral aspects of transgender identity.” Robles is from the Mexican National Institute of Psychiatry.

She said these findings need to be confirmed with additional studies before the next approval of the revision of the WHO International Classification of Diseases in 2018.

“Rates of experiences related to social rejection and violence were extremely high in this study, and the frequency with which this occurred within participants’ own families is particularly disturbing,” Robles said.

“Unfortunately, the level of maltreatment experienced in this sample is consistent with other studies from around the world. This study highlights the need for policies and programs to reduce stigmatization and victimization of this population. The removal of transgender diagnoses from the classification of mental disorders can be a useful part of those efforts,” she concluded.

More information

For more about transgender issues, visit GLAAD.


Does Dementia Diagnosis Have Silver Lining for Some?

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TUESDAY, July 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Is it possible that a diagnosis as devastating as dementia could have some positive effects?

Yes, a small study suggests.

Researchers asked 48 people with early dementia or mild cognitive impairment to complete a questionnaire that measured their quality of life and personal outlook after getting their diagnosis.

The “Silver Lining Questionnaire” was designed to measure how much patients believe their illness has a positive impact in areas such as: relationships, appreciation for life, positive influence on others, inner strength and life philosophy.

The questionnaire has been used before with cancer patients. But, this was the first time it was used with dementia/mild cognitive impairment patients, the researchers said.

“The overall assumption is that this diagnosis would have a uniformly negative impact on a patient’s outlook on life, but we were surprised to find that almost half of respondents reported positive scores,” said study author Dr. Gregory Jicha, a professor at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky.

The patients in the study had high scores on areas such as: appreciation and acceptance of life; less concern about failure; self-reflection, tolerance of others, and courage to face problems in life; stronger relationships and new opportunities to meet people.

“The common stereotype for this type of diagnosis is depression, denial and despair,” Jicha said in a university news release.

“However, this study — while small — suggests that positive changes in attitude are as common as negative ones,” he said.

The study was to be presented Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Toronto. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The next phase in this research is to determine the factors that led some dementia patients to see the positive in their diagnosis. That information can likely be used to help other patients, the researchers said.

More information

The Alzheimer’s Association has more on dementia.


Got Ringing in Your Ears? Here's How to Cope With Tinnitus

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You might be the only one who can hear the ringing in your ears, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. A new study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery found that 1 in 10 adults suffers from tinnitus, or the perception of noise that isn't actually there.

For some people it's a high-pitched buzz. Others might hear a low roar, hissing, or clicking. Tinnitus may come and go, or never stop. And doctors may never determine the exact cause of the symptom.

It can be triggered by anything from a buildup of earwax or a very loud concert to a blood vessel disorder or age-related hearing loss. Even some antidepressants and other meds can trigger a phantom noise.

Unfortunately for most chronic cases, there's no cure, as the American Tinnitus Association points out. But there are steps you can take to manage the symptom. For tips on coping with the ringing, we tapped Sarah Mowry, MD, an assistant professor and member of the Ear, Nose & Throat Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, Dr. Mowry's tips for anyone bothered by the noise.

Mask it

If you're having trouble concentrating or resting, turn on some white noise. You could use a sound machine, a fan, or even the TV at low volume. “These help your brain suppress the [phantom] noise so it’s less bothersome,” Dr. Mowry explains. 

RELATED: 7 Best White Noise Machines for a Good Night's Sleep

Try to de-stress

Tinnitus can actually be a sign from your body that it's time to take a breather, says Dr. Mowry. “My patients will say they’re not sure why [their tinnitus is] so bad today, and then it turns out they’re stressed and not sleeping,” says Dr. Mowry. When you put stress management techniques into practice (like breathing exercises, or gentle stretching before bed), you may find that you don't notice the noise as much.

Consider biofeedback

If your usual tension-busting measures don’t help, you might want to look into biofeedback therapy, in which you learn to control your body's physical reaction to stress. Dr. Mowry compares some cases of tinnitus to phantom pain (or sensation perceived in a body part that's been amputated); when a patient is suffering from tinnitus from hearing loss, she explains, it may be that "their brain is trying to fill in missing information" with the phantom noise. "For those patients, we do a lot of biofeedback," she says.

Or tinnitus retraining therapy

A combination of biofeedback, psychotherapy, and music therapy, tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is another option for patients who are struggling to live with the noise, says Dr. Mowry. It can be difficult to find a practitioner, she warns, and may not be covered by your insurance plan. But when nothing else has worked, TRT can make a world of difference.

Join up

It may be helpful to connect with others who are dealing with the same problem, Dr. Mowry points out. By attending meetings of a tinnitus support group, not only will you realize you're not alone, but you'll be able to share coping strategies with the people you meet. 

RELATED: 15 Everyday Sounds and How They Affect Your Hearing

Protect your ears

“Tinnitus gets worse as hearing loss gets worse,” explains Dr. Mowry, which means it's really important to protect your ears when you know you'll be exposed to loud noise. Dr. Mowry recommends taking precautions such as wearing earplugs when you blow dry your hair (seriously!) or go to a concert. Research suggests earplugs really do help: A study published last month found that only 12% of concert-goers who wore them experienced ringing in their ears afterwards, compared to 40% of people who didn't use ear protection.


Katie Seaver: To Diet Or Not Diet: Science Weighs In

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Here’s the question I have for you, no matter what path you are considering going down in terms of eating, weight, and happiness: Where do you want to be, two years from now? And what is going to help you get there?

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Peter Weintraub : Breakfast Rules For Weight Loss

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Main Takeaway: If you’re hungry for breakfast, eat a high-fat, moderate-protein meal consisting of foods like eggs, bacon, sausage, avocado, nuts and seeds and coconut oil. If you’re not usually hungry for it, DON’T EAT IT!

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Strawberry chip protein scone recipe

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Do you have a soft spot for scones? Try these wheat and sugar free, high-protein scones for your next high tea.

What you’ll need

The scones

1 cup oat flour (ground quick oats)
½ cup vanilla protein powder 
¼ cup rolled oats
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 egg white
¼ cup strawberry Greek yogurt
2 tbsp almond milk
3 sachets Stevia
3 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Mixed berry jam

1 cup frozen mixed berries (thawed)
2 sachets of Stevia
2 tsp chia seeds

Natural fat-free whipped ‘cream’ 

½ cup non-fat dry milk 
½ cup ice water 
1 egg white  
1 tsp lemon juice 
¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted (you can use Stevia, quarter teaspoon or to taste)
½ tsp vanilla extract

What you’ll do

The scones

Preheat the oven to 220ºC.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and all the wet ingredients together.

Add the wet to the dry and fold together.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Add heaped tablespoon amounts to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Be careful that the tops reach golden, not brown. Enjoy with tea or cold almond milk.

The jam

Thaw frozen berries and, when thawed, puree. Add the berry puree to a small saucepan and add the Stevia and chia seeds.

Keep stirring the jam over low heat for 5 to 6 minutes – never leaving it unattended or to stick to the saucepan.

Let cool and serve with protein scones or your favourite toast or muffin. 

The cream

Put the ice water, egg white, and non-fat dry milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on high for 4  to 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. Stop the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get the milk powder incorporated.


Add the lemon juice and continue whipping on the highest speed for another minute or two until thick.

Lower the speed and slowly add sugar or Stevia, then vanilla. Beat until well mixed. 


Serve immediately with scones and jam.


Recipe by lifestyle blogger Kris Bitton of I Heart Wellness. 


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