Bloating is when your belly feels swollen or enlarged after eating.

It is usually caused by gas or other digestive issues.

Although bloating may be a symptom of a serious medical condition, it is usually caused by something in the diet.

Here are 13 foods that can cause bloating, along with suggestions on what to eat instead.

1. Beans

Beans are a type of legume.

They contain high amounts of protein and healthy carbs. Beans are also very rich in fiber, as well as several vitamins and minerals.

However, most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which belong to a group of carbs called FODMAPs.

FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process.

For healthy people, FODMAPs simply provide fuel for the beneficial digestive bacteria and should not cause any problems.

However, for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, another type of gas is formed during the fermentation process. This may cause major discomfort, with symptoms like bloating, flatulence, cramping and diarrhea.

Soaking and sprouting the beans is a good way to reduce the FODMAPs in beans. Changing the soaking water several times can also help.

What to eat instead: Some beans are easier on the digestive system. Pinto beans and black beans may be more digestible, especially after soaking.

You can also replace beans with grains, meat or quinoa.

2. Lentils

Lentils are also legumes. They contain high amounts of protein, fiber and healthy carbs, as well as minerals such as iron, copper and manganese.

Because of their high fiber content, they can cause bloating in sensitive individuals. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.

Like beans, lentils also contain FODMAPs. These sugars may contribute to excessive gas production and bloating.

However, soaking or spouting the lentils before you eat them can make them much easier on the digestive system.

What to eat instead: Light colored lentils are generally lower in fiber than darker ones, and may therefore cause less bloating.

3. Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks are another very common cause of bloating.

These drinks contain high amounts of carbon dioxide, a gas.

When you drink one of these beverages, you end up swallowing large amounts of this gas.

Some of the gas gets trapped in the digestive system, which can cause uncomfortable bloating and even cramping.

What to drink instead: Plain water is always best. Other healthy alternatives include coffee, tea and fruit-flavored still water.

4. Wheat

Wheat has been highly controversial in the past few years, mainly because it contains a protein called gluten.

Despite the controversy, wheat is still very widely consumed. It is an ingredient in most breads, pastas, tortillas and pizzas, as well as baked goods like cakes, biscuits, pancakes and waffles.

For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, wheat causes major digestive problems. This includes bloating, gas, diarrhea and stomach pain.

Wheat is also a major source of FODMAPs, which can cause digestive problems in many people.

What to eat instead: There are many gluten-free alternatives to wheat, such as pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, almond flour and coconut flour.

5. Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous vegetable family includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and several others.

These are very healthy, containing many essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron and potassium.

However, they also contain FODMAPs, so they may cause bloating in some people.

Cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest.

What to eat instead: There are many possible alternatives, including spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

6. Onions

Onions are underground bulb vegetables with a unique, powerful taste. They are rarely eaten whole, but are popular in cooked meals, side dishes and salads.

Even though they’re usually eaten in small quantities, onions are one of the main dietary sources of fructans. These are soluble fibers that can cause bloating.

Additionally, some people are sensitive or intolerant to other compounds in onions, especially raw onions.

Therefore, onions are a known cause of bloating and other digestive discomforts. Cooking the onions may reduce these digestive effects.

What to eat instead: Try using fresh herbs or spices as an alternative to onions.

7. Barley

Barley is a commonly consumed cereal grain.

It is very nutritious, since it is rich in fiber and contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals like molybdenum, manganese and selenium.

Because of its high fiber content, whole grain barley may cause bloating in individuals who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.

Furthermore, barley contains gluten. This may cause problems for people who are intolerant to gluten.

What to eat instead: Refined barley, like pearl or scotch barley, may be tolerated better. Barley can also be replaced with other grains or pseudocereals like oats, brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat.

8. Rye

Rye is a cereal grain that is related to wheat.

It is very nutritious and an excellent source of fiber, manganese, phosphorus, copper and B-vitamins.

However, rye also contains gluten, a protein that many people are sensitive or intolerant to.

Because of its high fiber and gluten content, rye may be a major cause of bloating in sensitive individuals.

What to eat instead: Other grains or pseudocereals, including oats, brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa.

9. Dairy Products

Dairy is highly nutritious, as well as an excellent source of protein and calcium.

There are many dairy products available, including milk, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and butter.

However, about 75% of the world’s population can’t break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. This condition is known as lactose intolerance.

If you’re lactose intolerant, dairy can cause major digestive problems. Symptoms include bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: People who are lactose intolerant can sometimes handle cream and butter, or fermented dairy like yogurt.

Lactose-free milk products are also available. Other alternatives to regular milk include coconut, almond, soy or rice milk.

10. Apples

Apples are among the most popular fruits in the world.

They are high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, and have been linked with a range of health benefits.

However, apples have also been known to cause bloating and other digestive issues for some people.

The culprits are fructose (which is a FODMAP) and the high fiber content. Fructose and fiber can both be fermented in the large intestine, and may cause gas and bloating.

Cooked apples may be easier to digest than fresh ones.

What to eat instead: Other fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, mandarins, oranges or strawberries.

11. Garlic

Garlic is incredibly popular, both for flavoring and as a health remedy.

Like onions, garlic contains fructans, which are FODMAPs that can cause bloating.

Allergy or intolerance to other compounds found in garlic is also fairly common, with symptoms such as bloating, belching and gas.

However, cooking the garlic may reduce these effects.

What to eat instead: Try using other herbs and spices in your cooking, such as thyme, parsley, chives or basil.

12. Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols are used to replace sugar in sugar-free foods and chewing gums.

Common types include xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol.

Sugar alcohols are also FODMAPs. They tend to cause digestive problems, since they reach the large intestine unchanged where the gut bacteria feed on them.

Consuming high amounts of sugar alcohols may cause digestive issues, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.

What to eat instead: Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, but it is easier on digestion than the ones mentioned above. Stevia is also a healthy alternative to sugar and sugar alcohols.

13. Beer

Everyone has probably heard the term “beer belly” used before.

It refers not only to increased belly fat, but also to the bloating caused by drinking beer.

Beer is a carbonated beverage made from sources of fermentable carbs like barley, maize, wheat and rice, along with some yeast and water.

Therefore, it contains both gas (carbon dioxide) and fermentable carbs, two well-known causes of bloating. The grains used to brew the beer also often contain gluten.

What to drink instead: Water is always the best beverage, but if you are looking for alcoholic alternatives then red wine, white wine or spirits may cause less bloating.

Other Ways to Reduce Bloating

Bloating is a very common problem, but can often be resolved with relatively simple changes.

If you have persistent digestive problems, then you may want to consider a low-FODMAP diet. It can be incredibly effective, not just for bloating but for other digestive issues as well.

However, make sure to also see a doctor to rule out a potentially serious medical condition.

Take Home Message

If you have problems with bloating, then chances are that a food on this list is the culprit.

That being said, there is no reason to avoid all of these foods, only the ones that cause you problems personally.

If you find that a certain food consistently makes you bloated, then simply avoid it. No food is worth suffering for.

Source: Healthline 

Whether you’re at home or out and about, endless tasty food options and the wide availability of quick snacks make it easy to overeat.

If you’re unaware of portion sizes, overeating can easily spiral out of control and lead to various negative health consequences.

One way to get this habit under control is to first understand how overeating affects your body.

Here are 7 harmful effects of overeating.

1. May promote excess body fat

Your daily calorie balance is determined by how many calories you consume versus how many you burn.

When you eat more than you expend, this is known as a calorie surplus. Your body may store these additional calories as fat.

Overeating may be especially problematic for developing excess body fat or obesity because you may be consuming far more calories than you need.

That said, overconsuming protein doesn’t likely increase body fat due to the way it’s metabolized. Excess calories from carbs and fats are much more prone to boost body fat.

To prevent excess fat gain, try filling up on lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables before eating higher carb and higher fat foods.

2. May disrupt hunger regulation

Two major hormones affect hunger regulation — ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and leptin, which suppresses appetite.

When you haven’t eaten for a while, ghrelin levels increase. Then, after you’ve eaten, leptin levels tell your body that it’s full.

However, overeating may disrupt this balance.

Eating foods high in fat, salt, or sugar releases feel-good hormones like dopamine, which activate pleasure centers in your brain.

Over time, your body may associate these pleasure sensations with certain foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories. This process may eventually override hunger regulation, encouraging you to eat for pleasure rather than hunger.

Disruption of these hormones may trigger a perpetual cycle of overeating.

You can counteract this effect by portioning out certain feel-good foods and eating them at a slower pace to allow your body to register its fullness.

3. May increase disease risk

While occasional overeating likely doesn’t affect long-term health, chronic overeating can lead to obesity. In turn, this condition has consistently been shown to increase disease risk.

Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, is one of the main risk factors for metabolic syndrome. This cluster of conditions raises your chances of heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.

Indicators of metabolic syndrome include high levels of fat in your blood, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

Insulin resistance itself is closely linked to chronic overeating. It develops when excess sugar in your blood reduces the ability of the hormone insulin to store blood sugar in your cells.

If left uncontrolled, insulin resistance may lead to type 2 diabetes.

You can reduce your risk of these conditions by avoiding high calorie, processed foods, eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables, and moderating portions sizes of carbs.

4. May impair brain function

Over time, overeating may harm brain function.

Several studies tie continual overeating and obesity to mental decline in older adults, compared with those who do not overeat.

One study in older adults found that being overweight negatively affected memory, compared with normal weight individuals.

That said, more studies are needed to identify the extent and mechanisms of mental decline related to overeating and obesity.

Given that your brain comprises approximately 60% fat, eating healthy fats like avocados, nut butters, fatty fish, and olive oil may help prevent mental decline.

5. May make you nauseous

Overeating on a regular basis can cause uncomfortable feelings of nausea and indigestion.

The adult stomach is approximately the size of a clenched fist and can hold about 2.5 ounces (75 mL) when empty, though it can expand to hold around 1 quart (950 mL).

Note that these numbers vary based on your size and how much you regularly eat.

When you eat a big meal and start to reach the upper limit of your stomach’s capacity, you may experience nausea or indigestion. In severe cases, this nausea may trigger vomiting, which is your body’s way of relieving acute stomach pressure.

While numerous over-the-counter medications may treat these conditions, the best approach is to regulate your portion sizes and eat slower to prevent these symptoms in the first place.

6. May cause excessive gas and bloating

Eating large amounts of food may strain your digestive system, triggering gas and bloating.

The gas-producing items that people tend to overeat are spicy and fatty foods, as well as carbonated drinks like soda. Beans, certain veggies, and whole grains may also produce gas, though these aren’t overeaten as often.

Furthermore, eating too fast may promote gas and bloating due to large amounts of food rapidly entering your stomach.

You can avoid excess gas and bloating by eating slowly, waiting until after meals to drink fluids, and reducing your portion sizes of gassy foods.

7. May make you sleepy

After overeating, many people become sluggish or tired.

This may be due to a phenomenon called reactive hypoglycemia, in which your blood sugars drop shortly after eating a big meal.

Low blood sugar is commonly associated with symptoms like sleepiness, sluggishness, rapid heart rate, and headaches.

While not fully understood, the cause is thought to be related to excess insulin production.

Though most common in people with diabetes who administer too much insulin, reactive hypoglycemia may occur in some individuals as a result of overeating.

The bottom line

It’s easy to overeat if you don’t pay attention to how much you eat or how full you feel.

Indeed, this common habit may lead to bloating, gas, nausea, excess body fat, and a higher risk of several illnesses.

Therefore, you should work to prevent overeating by reducing your portion sizes, eating fewer processed foods, and orienting your diet around whole foods.

If you desire, you can consult a dietitian to help you create an eating plan that promotes long-term health.

Source: Healthline

A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function.

It can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children.

In contrast, good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be healthier.

Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.

If you want to optimize your health or lose weight, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.

Here are 17 evidence-based tips to sleep better at night.

1. Increase bright light exposure during the day

Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm.

It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep.

Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.

In people with insomnia, daytime bright light exposure improved sleep quality and duration. It also reduced the time it took to fall asleep by 83%.

A similar study in older adults found that 2 hours of bright light exposure during the day increased the amount of sleep by 2 hours and sleep efficiency by 80%.

While most research involves people with severe sleep issues, daily light exposure will most likely help you even if you experience average sleep.

Try getting daily sunlight exposure or — if this is not practical — invest in an artificial bright light device or bulbs.

2. Reduce blue light exposure in the evening

Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect.

Again, this is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.

Blue light — which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts — is the worst in this regard.

There are several popular methods you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure. These include:

  • Wear glasses that block blue light
  • Download an app such as f.lux to block blue light on your laptop or computer.
  • Install an app that blocks blue light on your smartphone. These are available for both iPhones and Android models.
  • Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
3. Don’t consume caffeine late in the day

Caffeine has numerous benefits and is consumed by 90% of the U.S. population.

A single dose can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance.

However, when consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.

In one study, consuming caffeine up to 6 hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.

Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.

If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.

4. Reduce irregular or long daytime naps

While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep.

Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night.

In fact, in one study, participants ended up being sleepier during the day after taking daytime naps.

Another study noted that while napping for 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function, longer naps can harm health and sleep quality.

However, some studies demonstrate that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps don’t experience poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep at night.

If you take regular daytime naps and sleep well, you shouldn’t worry. The effects of napping depend on the individual.

5. Try to sleep and wake at consistent times

Your body’s circadian rhythm functions on a set loop, aligning itself with sunrise and sunset.

Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid long-term sleep quality.

One study noted that participants who had irregular sleeping patterns and went to bed late on the weekends reported poor sleep.

Other studies have highlighted that irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin, which signal your brain to sleep.

If you struggle with sleep, try to get in the habit of waking up and going to bed at similar times. After several weeks, you may not even need an alarm.

6. Take a melatonin supplement

Melatonin is a key sleep hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to relax and head to bed.

Melatonin supplements are an extremely popular sleep aid.

Often used to treat insomnia, melatonin may be one of the easiest ways to fall asleep faster.

In one study, taking 2 mg of melatonin before bed improved sleep quality and energy the next day and helped people fall asleep faster.

In another study, half of the group fell asleep faster and had a 15% improvement in sleep quality.

Additionally, no withdrawal effects were reported in either of the above studies.

Melatonin is also useful when traveling and adjusting to a new time zone, as it helps your body’s circadian rhythm return to normal.

In some countries, you need a prescription for melatonin. In others, melatonin is widely available in stores or online. Take around 1–5 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.

Start with a low dose to assess your tolerance and then increase it slowly as needed. Since melatonin may alter brain chemistry, it’s advised that you check with a healthcare provider before use.

You should also speak with them if you’re thinking about using melatonin as a sleep aid for your child, as long-term use of this supplement in children has not been well studied.

7. Consider these other supplements

Several supplements can induce relaxation and help you sleep, including:

  • Ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with many benefits, it may aid sleep, relaxation, and stress reduction, but the evidence is limited. Take 250 mg 30–60 minutes before bed.
  • Glycine: A few studies show that taking 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can improve sleep quality.
  • Valerian root: Several studies suggest that valerian can help you fall asleep and improve sleep quality. Take 500 mg before bed.
  • Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can improve relaxation and enhance sleep quality.
  • L-theanine: An amino acid, L-theanine can improve relaxation and sleep. Take 100–200 mg before bed.
  • Lavender: A powerful herb with many health benefits, lavender can induce a calming and sedentary effect to improve sleep. Take 80–160 mg containing 25–46% linalool.

Make sure to only try these supplements one at a time. While they’re not a magic bullet for sleep issues, they can be useful when combined with other natural sleeping strategies.

8. Don’t drink alcohol

Having a couple of drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones.

Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.

It also alters nighttime melatonin production, which plays a key role in your body’s circadian rhythm.

Another study found that alcohol consumption at night decreased the natural nighttime elevations in human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a role in your circadian rhythm and has many other key functions.

9. Optimize your bedroom environment

Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep.

These factors include temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement.

Numerous studies point out that external noise, often from traffic, can cause poor sleep and long-term health issues.

In one study on the bedroom environment of women, around 50% of participants noticed improved sleep quality when noise and light diminished.

To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean, and enjoyable place.

10. Set your bedroom temperature

Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly affect sleep quality.

As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good night’s sleep when it’s too warm.

One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise.

Other studies reveal that increased body and bedroom temperature can decrease sleep quality and increase wakefulness.

Around 70°F (20°C) seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it depends on your preferences and habits.

11. Don’t eat late in the evening

Eating late at night may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of HGH and melatonin.

That said, the quality and type of your late-night snack may play a role as well.

Interestingly, one study discovered that a low carb diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs aren’t always necessary, especially if you’re used to a low carb diet.

12. Relax and clear your mind in the evening

Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.

Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia.

In one study, a relaxing massage improved sleep quality in people who were ill.

Strategies include listening to relaxing music, reading a book, taking a hot bath, meditating, deep breathing, and visualization.

Try out different methods and find what works best for you.

13. Take a relaxing bath or shower

A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better.

Studies indicate that they can help improve overall sleep quality and help people — especially older adults — fall asleep faster.

In one study, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed improved sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply bathing your feet in hot water can help you relax and improve sleep.

14. Rule out a sleep disorder

An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems.

One common issue is sleep apnea, which causes inconsistent and interrupted breathing. People with this disorder stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping.

This condition may be more common than you think. One review claimed that 24% of men and 9% of women have sleep apnea.

Other common medically diagnosed issues include sleep movement disorders and circadian rhythm sleep/wake disorders, which are common in shift workers.

If you’ve always struggled with sleep, it may be wise to consult your healthcare provider.

15. Get a comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow

Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel.

Apart from the relaxing environment, bed quality can also affect sleep.

One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress for 28 days, revealing that it reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improved sleep quality by 60%.

Other studies point out that new bedding can enhance sleep. Additionally, poor quality bedding can lead to increased lower back pain.

The best mattress and bedding are extremely subjective. If you’re upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preference.

It’s recommended that you upgrade your bedding at least every 5–8 years.

If you haven’t replaced your mattress or bedding for several years, this can be a very quick — although possibly expensive — fix.

16. Exercise regularly — but not before bed

Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health.

It can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia.

One study in older adults determined that exercise nearly halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep and provided 41 more minutes of sleep at night.

In people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18%.

Although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, performing it too late in the day may cause sleep problems.

This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.

However, some studies show no negative effects, so it clearly depends on the individual.

17. Don’t drink any liquids before bed

Nocturia is the medical term for excessive urination during the night. It affects sleep quality and daytime energy.

Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others.

Although hydration is vital for your health, it’s wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening.

Try to not drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed.

You should also use the bathroom right before going to bed, as this may decrease your chances of waking in the night.

The bottom line

Sleep plays a key role in your health.

One large review linked insufficient sleep to an increased risk of obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults.

Other studies conclude that getting less than 7–8 hours per night increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re interested in optimal health and well-being, it’s recommended that you make sleep a top priority and incorporate some of the tips above.

Source: Healthline 

Fresh meat spoils quickly, and freezing it is a common preservation method.

Freezing meat not only helps preserve it, but storing meat at temperatures below 0°F (-18°C) for several days might even help minimize the risk of some foodborne illnesses like toxoplasmosis.

Still, you may wonder whether meat can be frozen more than once.

This article reviews whether it’s safe to refreeze meat.

Is refreezing meat safe?

There might come a time when you thaw frozen meat and then decide not to cook some or any of it.

In this case, it’s safe to refreeze the meat until a later date as long as the meat was thawed and stored properly in the refrigerator the first time it was removed from the freezer.

Although refrigerator thawing is not the only way to thaw meat, it’s the safest way to do so if you think that you might want to refreeze some or all of the meat.

As a general rule of thumb, meat can be refrozen as long as it:

  • was stored properly in the refrigerator while it thawed
  • was refrozen within 3–4 days
  • was not left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours
  • did not spend more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F (32°C)
The effects of thawing and refreezing meat

Refreezing meat can be done safely, but the quality of the meat may be affected.

For example, freezing and thawing meat more than one time might cause color and odor changes, moisture loss, and increased oxidation of its fat and protein.

Oxidation is a process in which electrons are transferred from one atom to another. When this occurs in meats, it can lead to a significant deterioration in quality.

Any changes to a meat’s ability to retain moisture might also significantly affect the tenderness and juiciness of the meat.

Interestingly, in some cases, chilled storage and freezing meat more than once may have positive effects on these factors.

However, it appears that the type of meat in question, as well as the exact number of freeze-thaw cycles that the meat undergoes, all influence how the meat will respond to being refrozen multiple times.

Beef

For example, one study observed how various freeze-thaw combinations affected beef steak cuts. Researchers found that a combination of freezing, thawing, and aging the steaks increased tenderness, compared with fresh steaks that had been aged but not frozen.

In addition, a literature review of research on the effects of cool and frozen storage on red meat found that freezing meats for a shorter period of time might help prevent some of the negative effects that freezing can have on the quality of red meat.

Lamb

A study of Australian-raised lamb ribs compared how freezing and storing the ribs at various temperatures affected quality markers like juiciness, texture, and shrinkage.

The researchers found that lamb stored at deep-freeze temperatures between -58°F (-50°C) and -112°F (-80°C) remained more tender once thawed, compared with lamb stored at normal freezing temperatures -0.4°F (-18°C).

Pork

Pork loin is a commonly eaten cut of meat that comes from the rib cage of a pig.

Two recent studies have examined the effects of freezing and thawing on pork loin specifically.

The first study compared three freezing-thawing sequences on pork loin quality.

Each sequence caused increased discoloration of the meat, but researchers found that aging the pork prior to freezing it could be an effective way to maintain the tenderness of the meat.

A second study suggests that freezing and then thawing pork loin does not significantly affect the tenderness of the meat. On the other hand, the juiciness of the meat might decrease after freezing and thawing it.

Poultry

A study including 384 supermarket shoppers in Turkey found that the most commonly used thawing techniques for frozen chicken included using the refrigerator, microwave, warm water, tap water, and countertop.

Researchers determined that none of the thawing techniques had a significant effect on the color or texture of the chicken.

However, thawing in the refrigerator or microwave resulted in approximately 18% less shrinkage than the other thawing methods.

Yet, additional research has found that the more times a chicken breast is frozen and thawed, the more likely you are to notice changes in its color and juiciness.

How to thaw meat safely

For best results after refreezing meat, you’ll want to fully thaw the meat prior to cooking it.

Here are three different methods you can use to thaw meat safely:

  1. Refrigerator thawing. Thawing could take anywhere from 1–7 days depending on the size. Once thawed, meats should be cooked within 3 days.
  2. Cold water thawing. This is a quick thawing method that entails placing the meat in a plastic bag under cool running water. Meats thawed this way should be cooked right away.
  3. Microwave thawing. Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked right away, as the thawing process might significantly raise the temperature of certain portions of the meat.

Remember, if there’s even a slight chance that you might want to refreeze some or all of the meat before cooking it, make sure to employ refrigerator thawing.

Alternatively, meat thawed under cold water or in the microwave should be cooked right away to ensure safety.

The bottom line

Meat is often frozen to preserve and keep the product safe when it’s not going to be eaten right away.

As long as the meat has been stored properly and thawed slowly in the refrigerator, it can be refrozen safely multiple times.

If done correctly, refreezing meat does not pose any health risks.

Although, depending on the type of meat and how many times it’s refrozen, the quality of the meat could be negatively affected.

Use an approved thawing method, such as thawing in the refrigerator, if you believe that you might want to refreeze all or some of the meat you have thawed.

Source: Healthline 

To help maintaining the active routine of parents, students and carers the Notts School Games Organiser Network and Active Notts created a weekly programme full of activities. The recommended dose of daily exercise is 60 minutes of average intensity workouts from which this weekly resource gives fun ideas for 30 minutes.

The activities are on daily cards, where there is a suggested order and time interval for each exercise. Among the exercises there are tips of how to create a golf course around your home or how to play tunnel ball or even how to keep distance from others. It is ideal and advised to do these exercises every day but the most important is to have fun and keep your body moving! The Schools organise virtual competitions each Friday, more details can be found on the schedule page and on the Friday activity card.

Check out the activities below

Week 1 

Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-golf-activities

 

Exercises for Secondary School students :
secondary-schools-virtual-golf-activities
Week 2
Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-football-activities
Exercises for Secondary School students:
secondary-schools-virtual-football-activities
Week 3
Exercises for Primary School students:
primary-schools-virtual-netball-activities

 

Exercises for Secondary School students:
secondary-schools-virtual-netball-activities

Source: Active Notts

Pineapple juice is a popular tropical beverage.

It’s made from pineapple fruit, which is native to countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, India, China, and the Philippines.

Many cultures use the fruit and its juices as a traditional folk remedy to treat or prevent various ailments.

Modern research has linked pineapple juice and its compounds to health benefits, such as improved digestion and heart health, reduced inflammation, and perhaps even some protection against cancer. However, not all evidence has been conclusive.

Here are 7 science-based benefits of pineapple juice, based on the current research.

1. Rich in nutrients 

Pineapple juice provides a concentrated dose of various nutrients. One cup (240 mL) contains around:

  • Calories: 132
  • Protein: less than 1 gram
  • Fat: less than 1 gram
  • Carbs: 33 grams
  • Sugars: 25 grams
  • Fiber: less than 1 gram
  • Manganese: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Copper: 19% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 15% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 14% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 12% of the DV
  • Folate: 11% of the DV
  • Potassium: 7% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 7% of the DV

Pineapple juice is particularly rich in manganese, copper, and vitamins B6 and C. These nutrients play an important role in bone health, immunity, wound healing, energy production, and tissue synthesis.

It also contains trace amounts of iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, choline, and vitamin K, as well as various B vitamins.

2. Contains additional beneficial compounds

In addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals, pineapple juice is a good source of antioxidants, which are beneficial plant compounds that help keep your body healthy.

Antioxidants help neutralize unstable compounds known as free radicals, which can build up in your body due to factors like pollution, stress, or an unhealthy diet and cause cell damage.

Experts believe that the antioxidants in pineapple juice, particularly vitamin C, beta carotene, and various flavonoids, are in large part to thank for its potential beneficial effects.

Pineapple juice also contains bromelain, a group of enzymes linked to health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and stronger immunity.

3. May suppress inflammation

Pineapple juice may help reduce inflammation, which is believed to be the root cause of many chronic diseases.

This may largely be due to its bromelain content. Some research suggests that this compound may be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — but with fewer side effects.

In Europe, bromelain is approved for use to reduce inflammation caused by trauma or surgery, as well as to treat surgical wounds or deep burns.

In addition, there’s evidence that ingesting bromelain before surgery may help reduce the level of inflammation and pain caused by surgery.

Some studies further suggest that bromelain may help reduce pain and inflammation caused by a sports injury, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the knee.

That said, research has yet to test the direct effects of pineapple juice on inflammation.

Therefore, it’s unclear whether the bromelain intakes achieved through drinking small to moderate amounts of pineapple juice would provide the same anti-inflammatory benefits as those observed in these studies.

4. May boost your immunity 

Pineapple juice may contribute to a stronger immune system.

Test-tube studies suggest that bromelain, a mixture of enzymes naturally found in pineapple juice, may activate the immune system.

Bromelain may also improve recovery from infections, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, and bronchitis, especially when used in combination with antibiotics.

However, most of these studies are dated, and none have examined the immunity-boosting effects of pineapple juice in humans. Therefore, more research is needed to confirm these results.

5. May help your digestion

The enzymes in pineapple juice function as proteases. Proteases help break down protein into smaller subunits, such as amino acids and small peptides, which can then be more easily absorbed in your gut.

Bromelain, a group of enzymes in pineapple juice, may particularly help improve digestion in people whose pancreas cannot make enough digestive enzymes — a medical condition known as pancreatic insufficiency.

Animal research suggests that bromelain may also help protect your gut from harmful, diarrhea-causing bacteria, such as E. coli and V. cholera. 

Moreover, according to some test-tube research, bromelain may help reduce gut inflammation in people with inflammatory bowel disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

That said, most studies have investigated the effect of concentrated doses of bromelain, rather than that of pineapple juice, and very few were conducted in humans. Therefore, more research is needed.

6. May promote heart health

The bromelain naturally found in pineapple juice may also benefit your heart.

Test-tube and animal studies suggest that bromelain may help reduce high blood pressure, prevent the formation of blood clots, and minimize the severity of angina pectoris and transient ischemic attacks — two health conditions caused by heart disease.

However, the number of studies is limited, and none are specific to pineapple juice. Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

7. May help fight certain types of cancer

Pineapple juice may have potential cancer-fighting effects. Again, this is likely in large part due to its bromelain content.

Some studies suggest that bromelain may help prevent the formation of tumors, reduce their size, or even cause the death of cancerous cells.

However, these were test-tube studies using concentrated amounts of bromelain that were much higher than those you’d ingest from drinking a glass of pineapple juice. This makes it difficult to project their results to humans.

Therefore, more research is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

Possible precautions

Pineapple juice is generally considered safe for most people.

That said, bromelain, a group of enzymes naturally found in pineapple juice, may enhance the absorption of certain drugs, especially antibiotics and blood thinners.

As such, if you are taking medications, consult your physician or registered dietitian to make sure it’s safe to consume pineapple juice.

This beverage’s acidity may also trigger heartburn or reflux in some people. Specifically, those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may want to avoid consuming large amounts of this beverage.

Despite its potential benefits, it’s important to remember that pineapple juice remains low in fiber yet high in sugar.

This means it’s unlikely to fill you up as much as eating the same quantity of raw pineapple would. Therefore, it may promote weight gain in some people.

What’s more, while drinking small amounts of juice has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, drinking more than 5 ounces (150 mL) per day may have the opposite effect.

Therefore, it’s likely best to avoid drinking too much pineapple juice, and when you do, stick to 100% pure varieties that are free of added sugars.

The bottom line

Pineapple juice contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds that may protect you from disease.

Studies link this beverage to improved digestion, heart health, and immunity. Pineapple juice or its compounds may also help reduce inflammation and perhaps even offer some protection against certain types of cancer.

However, human studies are limited, and it’s unclear whether the effects observed in test tubes or animals can be achieved by small daily intakes of pineapple juice.

Moreover, this beverage remains low in fiber and rich in sugar, so drinking large quantities each day is not recommended.

Source: Healthline

What is iodine?

Also called iodide, iodine is a type of mineral that’s naturally found in the earth’s soil and ocean waters. Many salt water and plant-based foods contain iodine, and this mineral is most-widely available in iodized salt.

It’s important to get enough iodine in the diet. It regulates hormones, fetal development, and more.

If your iodine levels are low, your doctor might recommend supplementation. You shouldn’t take supplements without checking with your doctor first.

Read on to learn more about the uses and side effects of iodine, plus recommended daily amounts by age.

11 uses of iodine

Iodine is considered an essential mineral for our bodies. It’s particularly important during pregnancy, and exposure in the womb may even help prevent certain health conditions later in life.

The following is a list of some of the most important uses and how they benefit the body.

1. Promoting thyroid health

Iodine plays a vital role in thyroid health. Your thyroid gland, which is located at the base of the front of your neck, helps regulate hormone production. These hormones control your metabolism, heart health, and more.

To make thyroid hormones, your thyroid takes up iodine in small amounts. Without iodine, thyroid hormone production can decrease. A “low” or underactive thyroid gland can lead to a condition called hypothyroidism.

Given the wide availability of iodine in western diets, thyroid health isn’t typically impacted by low iodine levels in the United States.

You can get enough iodine from your diet by eating dairy products, fortified foods, and salt water fish. Iodine is also available in plant foods that grow in naturally iodine-rich soil. You also can get the mineral by seasoning your food with iodized salt.

While iodine promotes overall thyroid health, too much iodine can have a negative effect on the thyroid gland. That’s why you shouldn’t take iodine supplements without your doctor’s recommendation.

2. Reducing risk for some goiters

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. Your thyroid may become enlarged as a result from either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland.

Non-cancerous thyroid nodules (cysts) can also cause thyroid gland enlargement.

Sometimes a goiter develops as a direct response to iodine deficiency. This is the most common cause of goiter worldwide, though it’s not as common a cause in the United States and other countries with access to iodine-rich foods.

Iodine-induced goiters may be reversed by adding iodine-rich foods or supplements in the diet.

3. Managing overactive thyroid gland

Your doctor may recommend a special type of iodine called radioactive iodine to treat an overactive thyroid gland. Also called radioiodine, this medication is taken by mouth. It’s used to destroy extra thyroid cells to help reduce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.

The risk with radioactive iodine is that it can destroy too many thyroid cells. This can decrease the amount of hormone production, leading to hypothyroidism. For this reason, radioactive iodine is usually only recommended after anti-thyroid drugs have failed.

Radioactive iodine is not the same thing as iodine supplements. You should never take iodine supplements for hyperthyroidism.

4. Treating thyroid cancer

Radioiodine may also be a possible treatment option for thyroid cancer. It works in much the same way as hyperthyroid treatment.

When you take radioactive iodine orally, the medication destroys thyroid cells, including cancerous ones. It may be used as a treatment following thyroid surgery to make sure all cancerous cells have been removed from the body.

According to the American Cancer Society, radioactive iodine treatments significantly improve the chances of survival for people with thyroid cancer.

5. Neurodevelopment during pregnancy

You need more iodine in pregnancy. That’s because iodine intake during pregnancy is linked to brain development in fetuses. One review found that babies whose birth mothers had an iodine deficiency during pregnancy were more likely to grow up with lower IQ’s and other intellectual delays.

The recommended daily intake of iodine during pregnancy is 220 mcg. By comparison, the recommended amount in non-pregnant adults is 150 mcg a day.

If you’re pregnant, ask your doctor about iodine supplementation, especially if your prenatal vitamin doesn’t have iodine (many do not). Iodine supplements may also be necessary if you’re deficient in the mineral.

You’ll also need to continue monitoring your iodine intake if you’re breastfeeding. The recommended daily amount of iodine while nursing is 290 mcg. That’s because the iodine you take up from diet and supplementation is transferred via breast milk to your nursing infant. This is a crucial brain developmental period, so infants need 110 mcg per day until they’ve reached 6 months of age.

6. Improving cognitive function

The same neurological benefits of iodine during pregnancy may extend to healthy brain function during childhood. This also includes a reduced risk of intellectual disability.

It is likely your child gets all the iodine they need through their diet, but if you have any questions about their iodine intake, talk to their pediatrician.

7. Improving birth weight

As with brain development, iodine during pregnancy is associated with a healthy birth weight. One study of pregnant women with goiters found that 400 mg of iodine taken daily for six to eight weeks was helpful in correcting goiters related to iodine deficiency. In turn, there was an overall improvement in birth weight in newborns.

While iodine intake can impact a baby’s birth weight and overall development, it’s important to note that the above study focused on women in developing areas who were already deficient in iron.

Unless your doctor has determined you are iodine deficient, taking supplements aren’t likely to impact your baby’s weight at birth. In fact, taking iodine unnecessarily can cause health issues.

8. May help treat fibrocystic breast disease

It’s possible that iodine supplements or medications can help treat fibrocystic breast disease. This non-cancerous condition is most common in women of reproductive age, and it can cause painful breast lumps.

Although there is some promise that iodine might help with fibrocystic breast cysts, you shouldn’t attempt self-treatment. Only take iodine for this condition if your doctor specifically recommends it. Otherwise, you could be at risk of side effects from iodine toxicity.

9. Disinfecting water

Iodine is just one method of water disinfection. This may be especially helpful if you don’t have access to potable water due to traveling or effects from a natural disaster.

Two percent liquid iodine tincture may be added to water in five-drop increments per one quart of clear water. If the water is cloudy, add ten drops per quart.

Iodine tablets may also be used, but the instructions can vary by manufacturer.

Despite the role iodine can play in disinfecting drinking water, there’s also some concerns that it can increase total iodine intake in humans and lead to adverse health effects. Total iodine intake shouldn’t exceed 2 mg per day.

10. Protection from nuclear fallout

In the case of nuclear emergencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of potassium iodide (KI) to protect the thyroid gland from radiation injuries. These are available in tablet and liquid formulas.

While not completely foolproof, the sooner KI is taken, the better the thyroid is thought to be protected in the event of this kind of emergency.

There are serious risks associated with KI, including gastrointestinal upset, inflammation, and allergic reaction. You’re also at increased risk for thyroid disease. Your risk for complications is higher if you already have thyroid disease.

11. Treating infections

Iodine can be used topically in a liquid form to help treat and prevent infections. It works by killing bacteria in and around mild cuts and scrapes.

Topical iodine should not be used on newborn babies. It should also not be used for deep cuts, animal bites, or burns.

Follow directions on the packaging for dosage information, and do not use for more than 10 days unless directed by your doctor.

How much iodine do you need?

To reduce our risk for iodine deficiency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has the following recommendations for daily intake based on age:

Age Daily recommended amount in micrograms (mcg)
birth–6 months 110 mcg
infants between 7–12 months 130 mcg
children 1–8 years old 90 mcg
children 9–13 years old 120 mcg
adults and teens, 14 and older 150 mcg
pregnant women 220 mcg
nursing women 290 mcg
Side effects of iodine

Possible side effects from too much iodine include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • burning sensations in the throat and mouth
  • stomach pain

In more severe cases, iodine toxicity may lead to coma.

You shouldn’t take iodine if you have a thyroid condition, unless recommended by your doctor.

Young children and the elderly are more prone to iodine side effects.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency can only be diagnosed via urine tests.

The symptoms of low iodine levels are primarily detected through thyroid symptoms, such as:

  • a visible goiter
  • thyroid gland that’s painful or tender to the touch
  • breathing difficulties, especially when lying down
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fatigue
  • extreme feelings of coldness, despite normal temperatures
  • hair loss
  • depression
  • brain fog
  • unintentional weight gain
Who should take iodine?

Your doctor might recommend iodine supplements if your levels are low. The only way to know for certain is by checking your levels through a urine test. After that point, your doctor may recommend a supplement.

Iodine is available in stronger formulas through a prescription. However, these are used for serious health conditions only. For example, your doctor may recommend prescription-strength iodine if you’ve been exposed to radiation or have an overactive thyroid gland.

If you suspect you need iodine support, check with your doctor to see if you’re a candidate.

Takeaway

Iodine is an essential nutrient. People with access to iodized salt, seafood, and certain vegetables are able to get enough iodine from their diet.

In some cases, you may need iodine supplementation to help reduce your risk for iodine deficiency, or as a treatment for certain medical conditions, such as underactive thyroid or goiter.

Talk to your doctor about your specific iodine needs.

Source: Healthline

Bananas are one of the most popular pre-workout snacks.

They’re not only portable, versatile, and delicious but also rich in carbohydrates and easy to digest.

Plus, they’re highly nutritious and may offer other added benefits for exercise performance due to their content of important nutrients like potassium.

This article takes a closer look at whether you should eat a banana before your next workout.

High in carbs

Like other fruits, bananas are a good source of carbs, with about 27 grams of carbs in 1 medium banana.

Carbs are either broken down into glucose (sugar) or converted to glucose, which is a main source of fuel for your body.

Consuming carbs can increase glycogen stores, which is the form of glucose stored in the muscles and liver that’s used for energy during many types of exercise.

Eating carbs before exercise can be especially beneficial for workouts with a longer duration, such as biking or jogging, as doing so can delay how soon your body has to use its glycogen stores and improve performance.

One study in 11 people found that consuming carbs 15 minutes before running enhanced endurance and increased time to exhaustion by nearly 13%.

However, because they’re relatively high in carbs, bananas may not be ideal as a pre-workout snack for those on a low carb or ketogenic diet.

Easily digestible energy source

In addition to supplying a good number of carbs in each serving, some of the carbs in bananas are fiber.

Fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, providing your cells with a steady stream of glucose to help you power through your workout.

Ripe bananas are also rich in simple carbs and low in fat, making them easier to digest than many other foods.

In fact, bananas are often recommended for those experiencing digestive issues like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

For this reason, bananas may be a good choice as a pre-workout snack, as they can provide your body with long-lasting energy without weighing you down or causing stomach upset.

Rich in potassium

Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and provide about 10–14% of the recommended daily value for this nutrient in just one medium banana.

Potassium is an important mineral that regulates blood pressure levels, maintains nerve function, and controls fluid balance.

It also helps support muscle health and muscle contractions.

In fact, low levels of potassium can cause muscle cramps, which are characterized by sudden, painful contractions of the muscle.

Given that potassium is excreted through sweat, it’s important for those who are physically active to consume plenty of potassium-rich foods and beverages to replete your electrolytes.

One study in 230 women found that those who experienced muscle cramps generally consumed lower amounts of potassium.

Eating a banana prior to working out can help you meet your needs for potassium to promote muscle function and prevent cramps.

The bottom line

Bananas are rich in nutrients like carbs and potassium, both of which are important for exercise performance and muscle growth.

They’re also easy to digest and can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, making bananas a great snack option before your next workout.

Enjoy bananas alone or try pairing them with a good source of protein like yogurt or peanut butter for an easy pre-workout snack.

Source: Healthline

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly. Arthritis is most commonly seen in adults over the age of 65, but it can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. Arthritis is more common in women than men and in people who are overweight.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are the most common symptoms of arthritis. Your range of motion may also decrease, and you may experience redness of the skin around the joint. Many people with arthritis notice their symptoms are worse in the morning.

In the case of RA, you may feel tired or experience a loss of appetite due to the inflammation the immune system’s activity causes. You may also become anemic — meaning your red blood cell count decreases — or have a slight fever. Severe RA can cause joint deformity if left untreated.

What causes arthritis?

Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue in your joints. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move and put stress on them. A reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue cause some forms of arthritis.

Normal wear and tear causes OA, one of the most common forms of arthritis. An infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate this natural breakdown of cartilage tissue. Your risk of developing OA may be higher if you have a family history of the disease.

Another common form of arthritis, RA, is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect the synovium, a soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.

RA is a disease of the synovium that will invade and destroy a joint. It can eventually lead to the destruction of both bone and cartilage inside the joint.

The exact cause of the immune system’s attacks is unknown. But scientists have discovered genetic markers that increase your risk of developing RA fivefold.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

Seeing your primary care physician is a good first step if you’re unsure who to see for an arthritis diagnosis. They will perform a physical exam to check for fluid around the joints, warmor red joints, and limited range of motion in the joints. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist if needed.

If you’re experiencing severe symptoms, you may choose to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist first. This may lead to a faster diagnosis and treatment.

Extracting and analyzing inflammation levels in your blood and joint fluids can help your doctor determine what kind of arthritis you have. Blood tests that check for specific types of antibodies like anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody) are also common diagnostic tests.

Doctors commonly use imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scans to produce an image of your bones and cartilage. This is so they can rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as bone spurs.

How is arthritis treated?

The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints. You’ll learn what works best for you in terms of controlling pain. Some people find heating pads and ice packs to be soothing. Others use mobility assistance devices, like canes or walkers, to help take pressure off sore joints.

Improving your joint function is also important. Your doctor may prescribe you a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results.

Medication

A number of different types of medication treat arthritis:

  • Analgesics, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), are effective for pain management, but don’t help decrease inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) and salicylates, help control pain and inflammation. Salicylates can thin the blood, so they should be used very cautiously with additional blood thinning medications.
  • Menthol or capsaicin creams block the transmission of pain signals from your joints.
  • Immunosuppressants like prednisone or cortisone help reduce inflammation.

If you have RA, your doctor may put you on corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which suppress your immune system. There are also many medications to treat OA available over the counter or by prescription.

Surgery

Surgery to replace your joint with an artificial one may be an option. This form of surgery is most commonly performed to replace hips and knees.

If your arthritis is most severe in your fingers or wrists, your doctor may perform a joint fusion. In this procedure, the ends of your bones are locked together until they heal and become one.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy involving exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint is a core component of arthritis treatment.

What lifestyle changes can help people with arthritis?

Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight reduce the risk of developing OA and can reduce symptoms if you already have it.

Eating a healthy diet is important for weight loss. Choosing a diet with lots of antioxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, can help reduce inflammation. Other inflammation-reducing foods include fish and nuts.

Foods to minimize or avoid if you have arthritis include fried foods, processed foods, dairy products, and high intakes of meat.

Some research also suggests that gluten antibodies may be present in people with RA. A gluten-free diet may improve symptoms and disease progression. A 2015 study also recommends a gluten-free diet for all people who receive a diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease.

Regular exercise will keep your joints flexible. Swimming is often a good form of exercise for people with arthritis because it doesn’t put pressure on your joints the way running and walking do. Staying active is important, but you should also be sure to rest when you need to and avoid overexerting yourself.

At-home exercises you can try include:

  • the head tilt, neck rotation, and other exercises to relieve pain in your neck
  • finger bends and thumb bends to ease pain in your hands
  • leg raises, hamstring stretches, and other easy exercises for knee arthritis
What is the long-term outlook for people with arthritis?

While there’s no cure for arthritis, the right treatment can greatly reduce your symptoms.

In addition to the treatments your doctor recommends, you can make a number of lifestyle changes that may help you manage your arthritis.

Source: Healthline 

Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and happy experiences in a woman’s life.

However, it can also be a confusing and overwhelming time for some mothers-to-be.

The internet, magazines, and advertisements flood women with advice on how to stay healthy during pregnancy.

While most women know that high mercury seafood, alcohol, and cigarettes are off-limits during pregnancy, many are unaware that some vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements should be avoided as well.

Information on which supplements are safe and which aren’t often varies between sources, making things more complicated.

This article breaks down which supplements are believed to be safe to take during pregnancy and explains why some supplements must be avoided.

Why take supplements during pregnancy?

Consuming the right nutrients is important at every stage of life, but it’s especially critical during pregnancy, as pregnant women need to nourish both themselves and their growing babies.

Pregnancy increases the need for nutrients

During pregnancy, a woman’s macronutrient intake needs grow significantly. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

For example, protein intake needs to increase from the recommended 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight for non-pregnant women to 0.5 grams per pound (1.1 grams per kg) of body weight for pregnant women.

However, the requirement for micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, increases even more than the need for macronutrients.

Vitamins and minerals support maternal and fetal growth at every stage of pregnancy and are required to support critical functions like cell growth and cell signaling,

While some women are able to meet this growing demand through a well-planned, nutrient-dense diet, others are not.

Some pregnant women may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for various reasons, including:

  • Nutrient deficiencies: Some women may need a supplement after a blood test reveals a deficiency in a vitamin or mineral. Correcting deficiencies is critical, as a shortage of nutrients like folate has been linked to birth defects.
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum: This pregnancy complication is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting. It can lead to weight loss and nutrient deficiencies.
  • Dietary restrictions: Women who follow specific diets, including vegans and those with food intolerances and allergies, may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals to prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
  • Smoking: Although it’s critical for mothers to avoid cigarettes during pregnancy, those who continue to smoke have an increased need for specific nutrients like vitamin C and folate.
  • Multiple pregnancies: Women carrying more than one baby have higher micronutrient needs than women carrying one baby. Supplementing is often necessary to ensure optimal nutrition for both the mother and her babies.
  • Genetic mutations like MTHFR: MTHFR is a gene that converts folate into a form that the body can use. Pregnant women with this gene mutation may need to supplement with a specific form of folate to avoid complications.
  • Poor diet: Women who undereat or choose foods that are low in nutrients may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiencies.

In addition, experts like those at the American Congress of Obstetrics and
Gynecology recommend that all pregnant women take a prenatal vitamin and folic acid supplement. This is advised to fill nutritional gaps and prevent birth defects like spina bifida.

For these reasons, many moms-to-be turn to vitamin and mineral supplements.

Herbal supplements during pregnancy

In addition to micronutrients, herbal supplements are popular.

One study found that around 15.4% of pregnant women in the United States use herbal supplements.

Alarmingly, over 25% of these women didn’t inform their doctor they were taking them.

While some herbal supplements may be safe to take during pregnancy, there are far more that might not be.

Although some herbs can help with common pregnancy complications like nausea and upset stomach, some may be harmful to both the mother and baby.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much research regarding the use of herbal supplements by pregnant women, and much is unknown about how the supplements can affect expectant mothers.

Supplements considered safe during pregnancy

Just as with medications, your doctor should approve and supervise all micronutrient and herbal supplements to ensure that they’re necessary and taken in safe amounts.

Always purchase vitamins from a reputable brand that volunteers to have their products evaluated by third-party organizations like the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).

This ensures that the vitamins live up to specific standards and are generally safe to take.

1. Prenatal vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are specially formulated to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy.

They’re intended to be taken before conception and during pregnancy and lactation.

Observational studies have shown that supplementing with prenatal vitamins reduces the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous complication characterized by high blood pressure and possibly protein in the urine.

While prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace a healthy diet, they may help prevent nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy.

Since prenatal vitamins contain the vitamins and minerals that pregnant women need, taking additional vitamin or mineral supplements may not be necessary unless suggested by your doctor.

Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed by doctors and available over-the-counter.

2. Folate

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and fetal growth and development.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in many supplements. It gets converted into the active form of folate — L-methylfolate — in the body.

It’s recommended that pregnant women take 600 ug of folate or folic acid per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities like cleft palate and heart defects.

In a review of five randomized studies including 6,105 women, supplementing with folic acid daily was associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects. No negative side effects were noted.

Although adequate folate can be obtained through diet, many women don’t eat enough folate-rich foods, making supplementation necessary.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women of childbearing age consume at least 400 mcg of folate or folic acid per day.

This is because many pregnancies are unplanned, and birth defects due to a folate deficiency can occur very early in pregnancy, even before most women know they’re pregnant.

It may be wise for pregnant women, especially those with an MTHFR genetic mutation, to choose a supplement that contains L-methylfolate to ensure maximum uptake.

3. Iron

The need for iron increases significantly during pregnancy, as maternal blood volume increases by nearly 50%.

Iron is critical for oxygen transport and healthy growth and development of the fetus and placenta.

In the United States, the prevalence of iron deficiency in pregnant women is around 18%, and 5% of these women are anemic.

Anemia during pregnancy has been associated with preterm delivery, maternal depression, and infant anemia.

The recommended intake of 27 mg iron per day can be met through most prenatal vitamins. However, pregnant women with iron deficiency or anemia need higher doses of iron, managed by their doctor.

Pregnant women who are not iron deficient should not take more than the recommended intake of iron to avoid adverse side effects. These may include constipation, vomiting, and abnormally high hemoglobin levels.

4. Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin is important for immune function, bone health, and cell division.

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of cesarean section, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and gestational diabetes.

The current recommended intake of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU per day. However, some experts suggest that vitamin D needs during pregnancy are much higher.

All pregnant women should speak with their doctor regarding screening for vitamin D deficiency and proper supplementation.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body. It plays critical roles in immune, muscle, and nerve function.

Deficiency in this mineral during pregnancy may increase the risk of chronic hypertension and premature labor.

Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may reduce the risk of complications like fetal growth restriction and preterm birth.

6. Ginger

Ginger root is commonly used as a spice and herbal supplement.

In supplement form, it’s most commonly used to treat nausea caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, or chemotherapy.

A review of four studies suggested that ginger is both safe and effective for treating pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, with up to 80% of women experiencing them in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Though ginger may help reduce this unpleasant pregnancy complication, more research is needed to identify the maximum safe dosage.

7. Fish oil

Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two essential fatty acids that are important for fetal brain development.

Supplementing with DHA and EPA in pregnancy might boost infant brain development and decrease maternal depression, though research on this topic is inconclusive.

Although observational studies have shown improved cognitive function in the children of women who supplemented with fish oil during pregnancy, several controlled studies have failed to show a consistent benefit.

For example, one study involving 2,399 women found no difference in the cognitive function of infants whose mothers had supplemented with fish oil capsules containing 800 mg of DHA per day during pregnancy, compared with infants whose mothers did not.

This study also found that supplementing with fish oil did not affect maternal depression.

However, the study found that supplementing with fish oil protected against preterm delivery, and some evidence suggests that fish oil may benefit fetal eye development.

Maternal DHA levels are important for proper fetal development and supplementing is considered safe. The jury is still out on whether taking fish oil during pregnancy is necessary.

To get DHA and EPA through diet, pregnant women are encouraged to consume two to three servings of low mercury fish like salmon, sardines, or pollock per week

8. Probiotics

Given increased general awareness of gut health, many moms-to-be turn to probiotics.

Probiotics are living microorganisms that are thought to benefit digestive health.

Many studies have shown that probiotics are safe to take during pregnancy, and no harmful side effects have been identified, aside from an extremely low risk of probiotic-induced infection.

Additionally, several studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, and infant eczema and dermatitis.

Research on probiotic use in pregnancy is ongoing, and more about the role of probiotics in maternal and fetal health is sure to be discovered.

Supplements to avoid during pregnancy

While supplementing with some micronutrients and herbs is safe for pregnant women, many of them should be avoided.

1. Vitamin A

Although this vitamin is extremely important for fetal vision development and immune function, too much vitamin A can be harmful.

Given that vitamin A is fat-soluble, the body stores excess amounts in the liver.

This accumulation can have toxic effects on the body and lead to liver damage. It can even cause birth defects.

For example, excessive amounts of vitamin A during pregnancy has been shown to cause congenital birth defects.

Between prenatal vitamins and diet, pregnant women should be able to get enough vitamin A, and additional supplementation is not advised.

2. Vitamin E

This fat-soluble vitamin plays many important roles in the body and is involved in gene expression and immune function.

While vitamin E is very important for health, it’s recommended that pregnant women do not supplement with it.

Supplementing with vitamin E has not been shown to improve outcomes for either mothers or babies and may instead increase the risk of abdominal pain and premature rupture of the amniotic sack.

3. Black cohosh

A member of the buttercup family, black cohosh is a plant used for a variety of purposes, including controlling hot flashes and menstrual cramps.

It’s unsafe to take this herb during pregnancy, as it can cause uterine contractions, which could induce preterm labor.

Black cohosh has also been found to cause liver damage in some people.

4. Goldenseal

Goldenseal is a plant that’s used as a dietary supplement to treat respiratory infections and diarrhea, although there’s very little research on its effects and safety.

Goldenseal contains a substance called berberine, which has been shown to worsen jaundice in infants. It can lead to a condition called kernicterus, a rare type of brain damage that can be fatal.

For these reasons, pregnant women should avoid goldenseal.

5. Dong quai

Dong quai is a root that has been used for over 1,000 years and is popular in Chinese medicine.

Though it’s used to treat everything from menstrual cramps to high blood pressure, evidence regarding its efficacy and safety is lacking.

Pregnant women should avoid dong quai, as it may stimulate uterine contractions, raising the risk of miscarriage.

6. Yohimbe

Yohimbe is a supplement made from the bark of a tree native to Africa.

It’s used as an herbal remedy to treat a range of conditions from erectile dysfunction to obesity.

This herb should never be used during pregnancy, as it has been associated with dangerous side effects like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and seizures.

7. Other herbal supplements considered unsafe during pregnancy:
  • saw palmetto
  • tansy
  • red clover
  • angelica
  • yarrow
  • wormwood
  • blue cohosh
  • pennyroyal
  • ephedra
  • mugwort
The bottom line

Pregnancy is a time of growth and development, making health and nutrition a top priority.

While some supplements can be helpful during pregnancy, many can cause dangerous side effects in both pregnant women and their babies.

Importantly, while supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals may help fill nutritional gaps, supplements are not meant to replace a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods, as well as getting enough exercise and sleep and minimizing stress, is the best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.

Although supplements can be necessary and helpful in certain circumstances, always check with your doctor regarding doses, safety, and potential risks and benefits.

Source: HealthLine