Vaccination effectiveness — it’s important to de-stress
“Expecting Amy” chronicles Amy Schumer’s stress-filled pregnancy and her remarkable resilience — a result, in part, of her unsquashable sense of humor. At a checkup when she sees a sonogram of her pea-sized fetus, she tells it, “You’re going to get bigger, and we don’t want you to be body shamed. Eventually you’ll be the size of a lima bean, and that’s fine.”
Finding ways to counter stress (humor is a powerful antidote) is essential for a healthy pregnancy. It’s also vital for getting the best results from your COVID-19 vaccine.
According to researchers at Ohio State University, stress and depression interfere with your immune system’s response to vaccines, so they take longer to begin to protect you from infection and the protection lasts for a shorter length of time.
The researchers also say there are benefits from using even short-term stress-busting techniques to strengthen your immune response: Getting vigorous exercise and a good night’s sleep the day before you’re inoculated will improve your vaccine response.
Other immune-strengthening techniques include:
■ Guided imagery, a meditative process that the Cleveland Clinic says “helps create harmony between the mind and body.” Google “Johns Hopkins Guided Imagery” for a link to an instructive video.
■ Progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that releases stress from your toes to the top of your head. For instructions visit https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/topics/mindfulness-and-relaxation.
■ Taking a daily multivitamin and getting a good night’s sleep in combination with stress-relieving techniques super-boosts vaccines’ effectiveness.
■ And walking 10,000 steps a day is the foundation of stress relief and good health!
High doses of misinformation can lead to diabetes
In October 2020, a study by the Digital New Deal found the number of interactions with false content on Facebook had spiked 242 percent since 2016. But social media isn’t the only place where news gets skewed so innocent bystanders — like you — get skewered.
A recent study declared “high doses of saccharin don’t lead to diabetes in healthy adults.” That’s misleading in so many ways.
■ Many people with serious health issues consider themselves healthy. For example, while 60 percent of seniors have one or more chronic medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, 82 percent of them rate their health as excellent, very good or good. They may mistakenly think this study’s findings apply to them.
■ In this country, few people meet the “healthy adults” standards that the researchers used: a body mass index of around 22, HDL in the upper 50s, a glucose reading in the upper 80s or low 90s. Instead, 74 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese; over 100 million have diabetes or prediabetes (elevated glucose levels); and around 45 million don’t meet the HDL target.
■ Other studies have found that artificial sweeteners may tip the balance into diabetes — especially if using them makes you think you can eat more ultraprocessed foods than before!
The smart choice is to enjoy sweet flavors from whole fruits and 70 percent cacao chocolate (1 ounce a day). You want to retrain your taste buds to love the food that loves you back — not trick ’em with fake flavors and nutrition-empty calories.
For your child’s future mental health, make smart choices today
When moms were interviewed about the qualities they hoped their children would develop, a survey from Motherly found kindness was No. 1, followed by attributes such as respect, resilience, curiosity, intelligence, generosity and bravery. All are characteristics of an emotionally healthy child, teen and adult.
But those traits may turn out to be more difficult to nurture than parents expect. Around 20 percent of 12 — to 18-year-olds now have prediabetes — and we suspect an alarming number of kids even younger are on that hazardous glide path. These youngsters may develop persistently elevated insulin levels and new research reveals that can harm their mental health.
Scientists at Cambridge University tracked over 10,000 people to study how insulin levels and body mass index in childhood correlates with depression and psychosis in young adulthood. They found that persistently high insulin levels from mid-childhood were linked with a higher chance of developing psychosis as an adult. They also found an increase in BMI around the onset of puberty was linked with a higher chance of developing depression as an adult, especially for girls.
For their future happiness, it’s essential that you help your children get at least an hour of physical activity daily and eat a diet that maintains a healthy weight. That means cutting out highly processed foods, added sugars and syrups, red meats and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole. Life is challenging enough for kids these days without having to battle emotional problems that might have been avoided with simple adjustments to everyday habits.
Foods that cool chronic inflammation
Love Fest 2021, this year’s free music extravaganza out of Chardon, Ohio, is being held virtually on June 26, streaming live on YouTube. Now that’s something to love that’s loving you in return — just what Dr. Mike says is the dynamic that makes for a perfect meal plan. You want to love the foods that love you back.
Quick check: Do you have sore joints, headaches, dry skin patches, bleeding gums, frequent muscle cramps or digestive and stomach woes? Well, chances are you’re loaded with chronic inflammation that’s triggered by belly fat, lack of physical activity, chronic stress, smoking (anything) and or excess alcohol intake. Maybe even a lack of soul-soothing music!
The hyped-up state means that your immune responses, designed to protect you from disease, are instead causing you to rust from the inside out. White blood cells, which fight off infection, can turn on you and attack nearby healthy tissues and organs. Yikes! But you can turn that around.
Tune into foods that love you and help cool chronic inflammation: salmon, sea trout, sardines, turmeric, olive oil, walnuts, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, berries, chili peppers — and coffee. You can find ways to prepare these nutrition powerhouses that’ll make you a broccoli lovin’ foodie. Check out the recipes in Dr. Mike’s “What to Eat When Cookbook” for tasty treats like Smokin’ Baba Kalamata and Vegetable Ragout. On DoctorOz.com there’s Bright Butternut Squash Noodle Bowl with Broccoli & Chicken and Grilled Chicken with Walnut Pesto Zoodles (zucchini noodles) and many other inflammation fighters.
Finding your whey
Joe Manganiello, of “Spider-Man,” “Magic Mike” and “Justice League” fame, is known for his ultra-defined abs and his love of smoothies made with whey powder, water and banana to boost his bodybuilding.
But you don’t have to be aiming for a cinematic physique to use whey powder to build and retain muscle — especially as you’re losing weight, doing resistance exercises or getting, ahem, older.
Whey is a protein that separates out from milk when cheese is made. It contains the amino acids leucine, isoleucine or valine. So how much and what kind of whey protein might make sense for you?
■ If you have liver or kidney issues, be careful about increasing your protein intake without talking to your doc.
■ Some studies find there’s a limit to how much is beneficial. As a rule of thumb, if you’re a highly active person or you’re on a weight-loss regimen and want to preserve muscle mass, then a daily intake of 0.45 to 0.68 grams for every pound you weigh should do it. If you’re sedentary, aim for 0.36 grams for every pound. But if you are obese, do NOT follow these recommendations — they’ll result in super-high doses. Take what you would if you were a BMI of 25 to 27.
■ Folks who get gassy or bloated from whey proteins should try whey isolate or hydrolysate. Vegans can use a plant-based protein powder.
Whatever form you choose, try adding it to pasta sauces, drinks, casseroles and soups. That’s the whey!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.