Friday, May 25, 2018

Do You Have Smartphone Thumb?

As smartphone usage grows, some people are finding it to be a real pain - in the thumb.

"Smartphone thumb" isn't a recognized medical condition but inflammatory tendinitis is. Mayo clinic researchers are studying the activity using dynamic-imaging techniques to watch how texter's bones move.

"One of the hypotheses is that the joints get loose and lax, and because of that, the bones move differently than they would in a normal situation," says Mayo biomedical engineer Kristin Zhao, PhD.

Gripping a cell phone can constrict flexor tendons, and excess smartphone usage may result in pain on the outside of the thumb near the wrist, reduced grip strength, or limited range of motion. These abnormal motions can lead to tendinitis - and potentially osteoarthritis.

To prevent the problem, reduce your repetitive thumb-stress by:

       1. Using your phone's voice-recognition feature to send texts
       2. Switching the hand you use to hold your phone
       3. Incorporating other fingers into your typing method.

To help alleviate hand and thumb pain:
  1. Tap each finger to your thumb five times on each hand. You can sing a song while doing it so you can repeat it for 3 sets.
  2. Lengthening your thumb is very helpful. Pull on it – gently of course. While pulling, give it a light wiggle.
  3. Massage your thumb web.  Give the muscles around your thumb a quick massage.
  4. Gently stretch your thumb back towards your forearm for 10 seconds.  This position is more intense if you straighten your arm out in front of you.
When your hand starts to cramp up and get sore while you're using your phone, that's just your body's way of telling you to take a break. Listen to your body — it's almost always right.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bacteria To Brighten Your Mood

Your gut is the new frontier of neuroscience. For some time, scientists have understood that the bacteria in our microbiomes affect overall physiology. More recently, they've discovered a connection between that bacteria and our brains - the gut-brain axis.

This knowledge has led to the concept of psychobiotics, the probiotics and prebiotics that can improve our mental health. Probiotics are live microbes found in fermented foods - think sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. Prebiotics are bacteria that feed probiotics.

These bacteria are capable of producing and delivering neuroactive substances which act on the brain-gut axis. Evidence is emerging of benefits in alleviating symptoms of depression and of chronic fatigue syndrome.

As researchers explored other aspects of our microbiome, a team found dramatic microbiome imbalances in the feces of participants with bipolar disorder compared to the control group. This reinforces the hypothesis that there is a link between gut health and mental health.

This exciting new research may eventually allow doctors to prescribe psychobiotics as part of a mental-health treatment protocol.  Probiotics and prebiotics may someday be used, either alone or with other treatments to alleviate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues - even, perhaps, autism and dementia.

As we become aware of this up-to-the-minute research, it reminds us to embrace a variety of whole foods, including fermented foods,  in our diet every day for optimal health, energy and well-being.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your (Fermented) Food 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Six Habits of Healthy Women - Part 2

The truth is great health isn't complicated. Besides exercising, eating fruits and veggies, and never smoking, healthy women have six different habits that contribute to a long, high-quality life. I shared three habits last week. Check out these additional three today.

4. Healthy women use a lot of sunscreen.

Use at least one ounce, enough to fill a shot glass spread out over every exposed inch of your body. Some women put it on before they dress to avoid missing spots. Don't forget ears, neck, and, during sandal season, your toes. Try using stick sunscreen on the back of your hands to prevent sticky palms.

5. Healthy women don't fight stress with screens. 

At the end of a long, harried day, the path of least resistance is often paved with wine, ice cream and endless mind-dulling games of Candy Crush. But binge-watching Netflix offers only instant gratification - a little hit of dopamine in the brain's reward center.

Do something instead that fosters a genuine positive emotion; that's what induces feelings of calm and safety and puts the brakes on your body's stress response. One of the best ways to tap into good vibes: connect with others in person, not just via Instagram or Facebook likes.

6. Healthy women are strict about bedtime.

Mix up your meals, your workouts and your social life - but be consistent about getting shut-eye. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is essential to making sure you get enough sleep. Over time, lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes and more. Plus, it's hard to feel productive or fend off stress and mood swings when you're yawning through the day. Set up a relaxing bed-time routine that includes turning off all electronic devices.

Of course, these healthy habits apply to men as well. 
Share the good news, ladies, and keep the men in your lives healthy, too.

Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food