Bottled vitamins might seem a convenient way to get all the important nutrients, but the best delivery method is still just eating actual healthy food. “We have plenty of studies showing that when we look at food as the bioavailable source of certain nutrients of vitamins and minerals, they tend to be one of the best options,” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio. For example, you can take a capsule of fish oil, but eating wild fatty fish makes it easier to control what you’re getting. The supplement industry isn’t regulated in the same way as food. Kirkpatrick suggested that the best way to get a mix of vitamins and minerals is eating more colorful foods. Aim for getting six different colorful foods in your diet daily. A bowl of oatmeal can help get one color. Adding blueberries is a second one. Even coffee counts. The beverage is loaded with antioxidants. Check with your doctor about whether you might be deficient in certain vitamins, Kirkpatrick advised. Vitamin D, in particular, is one that may require taking a supplement to get enough of it. “Vitamin D is typically poorly absorbed through food,” Kirkpatrick explained in a clinic news release. “A D3 supplement is more mimicking the UV rays of the sun, that’s where we get the best vitamin D.” More information…  read on >  read on >

An exercise program, even if it’s not as intense as national guidelines suggest, could help breast cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy reduce fatigue and have a better quality of life, new research suggests. Researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia included 89 women in this study — 43 participated in the exercise portion; the control group did not. Exercisers did a 12-week home-based program. It included weekly resistance training sessions and 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise. Researchers found that patients who exercised recovered from cancer-related fatigue more quickly during and after radiation therapy compared to the control group. Exercisers also saw a significant increase in health-related quality of life, which could include measures of emotional, physical and social well-being. “The amount of exercise was aimed to increase progressively, with the ultimate target of participants meeting the national guideline for recommended exercise levels,” said study leader Georgios Mavropalias, a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Medical and Health Sciences. “However, the exercise programs were relative to the participants’ fitness capacity, and we found even much smaller dosages of exercise than those recommended in the [Australian] national guidelines can have significant effects on cancer-related fatigue and health-related quality of living during and after radiotherapy,” Mavropalias said in a university news release. The Australian national guidelines for cancer patients call for 30 minutes of moderate…  read on >  read on >

Many women experience back pain during pregnancy and a new study review suggests an ancient treatment can help. Acupuncture provided significant relief of lower back and pelvic pain, according to an analysis of 10 trials from various parts of the world. The findings were published Nov. 21 in BMJ Open. “Acupuncture significantly improved pain, functional status, and quality of life in women with [lower back/pelvic pain] during the pregnancy,” wrote the researchers, who included Dr. Wei Dong, from the Department of Orthopaedics at the Kunming Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. “Additionally, acupuncture had no observable severe adverse influences on the newborns,” they said in a journal news release. The 10 trials were conducted between 2000 and 2020 in the United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Spain and Brazil. In all, the trials included 1,040 healthy women. On average, they were in their 17th to 30th week of pregnancy. Each had lower back and/or pelvic pain and were treated by trained acupuncturists, physiotherapists or midwives. Seven of the 10 trials described body acupuncture. The other three described ear lobe acupuncture. The findings varied but trial results for nine studies suggested that acupuncture significantly relieved pain during pregnancy. Four studies reported on the potential of acupuncture to restore physical function, showing significant improvements. In the five studies that recorded impact on quality of life, findings…  read on >  read on >

Shoveling snow is a strenuous workout that poses risks for people with heart conditions. “We have to think of shoveling snow as a pretty significant exertion, like an exercise,” said Dr. Donald Ford, chair of family medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio. “So if you’re going out to exercise, people who have heart conditions or people who have risk for heart conditions, may need to talk to their doctor before they engage in that.” That includes folks with risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, Ford said. The doctor can advise whether shoveling is safe, and if so, how much. If you do get the go-ahead, taking frequent rest breaks is a good idea, Ford said in a clinic news release. Even if you’re in shape, warm up before your first scoop. Stretch out the muscles of the back, arms, shoulders and legs. Do a brief aerobic warmup to get the blood flowing, such as walking in place, hopping up and down, or even spending a few minutes on the treadmill, he suggested. Once you’re outside, lift with your legs — not your back. “Make sure you’re lifting from the center. Keeping your body upright, not reaching over,” Ford said. Using an ergonomic shovel, which has a longer, bent handle, will help prevent back pain, he noted. It enables a…  read on >  read on >

Stress affects gut health and intensifies pain, which — for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — can make traveling to see family during the holiday season excruciating. “People living with IBS often say the holidays are especially stressful, above and beyond the typical holiday stress most people report having,” said Tiffany Taft, medical social scientist and clinical psychologist at Northwestern Medicine, in Chicago. For the 15% of Americans who live with IBS, Taft offered some tips as they gather for the season. “Stress directly affects IBS through the gut-brain axis, which includes parts of the brain that are part of the body’s fight-flight-freeze response,” she said. “Stress can amplify pain, alter the motility of the gut — either speed up or slow down, depending on the person — and change the composition of the gut microbiome.” That can make symptoms more severe. For some, that may mean more frequent trips to the bathroom. For others, it may mean fewer than usual. Symptoms can include increased stomach pain and cramping, bloating and increased urgency to go to the bathroom. Taft said the holidays can create stress because some people have family members who aren’t understanding or supportive about IBS. They may worry or be anxious about asking for changes to the holiday menu because of dietary needs. Rather than have an unpleasant conversation, the person…  read on >  read on >

That new television, cabinet or appliance you’re looking to snag on Black Friday or Cyber Monday could bring unexpected dangers to your home. So don’t forget to buy a kit to anchor it to the wall and keep it from tipping over and harming young kids, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges. “With the holiday shopping season upon us, it is critical to anchor your new TV or furniture to the wall to help prevent tip-over incidents,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “Even if a TV or piece of furniture comes without an anti-tip-over kit, you can order them online or purchase them at your local hardware store for $20 or less,” he noted in a commission news release. Since 2000, 581 deaths caused by furniture, TV or appliance tip-overs have happened in the United States. Of those, 472 involved children. Just last month, the CPSC approved a mandatory safety standard for dressers, chests and other clothing storage units. This ensures they meet new minimum stability requirements designed to prevent furniture from tipping over. Until more stable furniture makes its way into the marketplace, the CPSC said consumers should anchor their furniture. You can repair a wall after removing a furniture anchor if you redecorate or move, the commission noted. If anchoring is not an option, it recommended placing TVs on a sturdy, low…  read on >  read on >