Five Surprising Triggers of Chronic Migraines

Chronic migraines can happen as a result of many different factors.

Chronic migraines are defined as more than two migraines a week, or more than 15 headache days per month. Anyone who suffers from chronic migraines will tell you that they are no walk in the park. Migraines are even more frustrating because it isn’t always clear why they happen. Family history and chemical imbalances in the brain are two contributing factors, but there are many other things to consider, like age, sex, and related medical conditions.

What doctors do know, is that migraines have triggers. Triggers are defined as lifestyle or environmental factors that can bring on a migraine. So while you may not be able to control your migraines completely, you can limit your exposure to triggers, and thus reduce the number of migraines you experience per month.

Here are five surprising triggers for chronic migraines: 

Poor Posture- Tense neck muscles as a result of poor posture can irritate nerves in your neck that cause migraines.

Dehydration- Poor hydration can cause stress on all the body’s systems, and trigger migraines.

READ MORE: How to Pinpoint What Triggers Your Migraines

Overusing Medication- Constantly taking over the counter medications for migraines can actually cause more headaches, known as ‘rebound headaches’.

Caffeine and Alcohol- If you regularly drink caffeine or alcohol, skipping a cup or glass can cause a migraine.

Weather Changes- Changes humidity and barometric pressure can trigger migraines, since your eyeballs are actually your body’s response to changes in weather pressure.

Should Pregnant Women Get Vaccinated?

Research has shown that pregnant people are at greater health risk for illness and complications from contracting COVID-19.

Since the vaccines began rolling out in late 2020, there has been a lot of confusion about who should get vaccinated, and what the potential complications might be, especially for pregnant people. From the beginning however, the CDC has stated that getting vaccinated does not adversely affect the health of your child, or increase the risk of birth defects. 

In fact, pregnant people who are unvaccinated are much more likely to experience preterm birth issues or complicated pregnancies from contracting COVID-19.

A recent study from NYU discovered an added benefit to getting vaccinated while pregnant. Newborns whose mothers were vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine were born with high levels of antibodies for COVID-19.

READ MORE: Should Pregnant Women Get the Covid Booster Shot?

This means that pregnant people can not only protect themselves by getting vaccinated, but their unborn children as well.

Babies whose mothers had been vaccinated within 13 weeks of the delivery date had higher antibody levels than those who were vaccinated earlier on in the pregnancy. 

Given how widespread the Omicron variant is, the CDC and public health officials are encouraging all pregnant people to get vaccinated.

At the end of the day we all have to make our own choices. However I am here to tell you that vaccinations have been approved as safe for pregnant people and their unborn children.

Understanding the New CDC Covid Guidelines

The CDC recently released new guidelines, leaving some people more confused than ever.

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling a little discombobulated about this whole pandemic. Initially, it was pretty cut and dry; there was a worldwide pandemic threatening health globally and we all needed to stay indoors to help flatten the curve. When vaccines became a viable solution, the world opened up again and people started walking around maskless.

The variants complicated matters, but being vaccinated and/or boosted became the new norm. Now however, the Omicron variant is overwhelming hospitals everywhere, and spreading even between vaccinated people. So naturally, people are a little confused about what they should or shouldn’t do, and the politics behind it all make it even more complicated and confusing.

On January 4th, the Centers for Disease Control released new quarantine guidelines, which shortened the recommended isolation time. Here is what you need to know:

-If you are positive, but asymptomatic, you can leave isolation after 5 days.

-If your symptoms are improving, and you haven’t had a fever for 24 hours, you can leave isolation.

READ MORE: Should Pregnant Women Get the Covid Booster Shot?

-If you have access to a rapid test, and test positive, you should remain isolated for five more days.

-If you test negative, you can leave your home but are encouraged to wear a mask for 10 days.

-If you are in a high-risk setting (cruise ships, nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities etc..) you should isolate for 10 days after exposure.

When it comes to Covid, I say it’s better to be safe than sorry. I know it’s complicated because people don’t want to go back to global quarantines, or having to wear masks all the time. That being said, we are still in the midst of a global health threat, so we need to dig deep and access our compassion. Wearing a mask and isolating may not be a picnic, but it beats being responsible for someone else’s hospitalization or death.

10 Foods That are Surprisingly Bad for Your Heart

When it comes to heart health, you are what you eat.

One of the best things you can do for your heart is abide by a healthy, nutritious diet. A diet chock full of Omega-3s, potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants is a great way to maintain your overall health, and support your heart.

I know that we don’t often think of our meals in terms of calcium, fiber, and antioxidants, since we are much more concerned with how things taste.

So, if you want to adjust your diet to support heart health, it’s much easier to just add or subtract certain ingredients. 

Here are 10 foods that are surprisingly bad for your heart. The easiest way to make a change in this regard is to just eliminate the items from this list!

Ketchup- Typical processed ketchup contains tons of sugar and sodium. 

Rotisserie Chicken- Rotisserie chickens from supermarkets are chock full of sodium and saturated fat. If you must have a roasted chicken, roast it yourself.

READ MORE: How to Reduce Anxiety with Your Diet

Reduced Fat Salad Dressing– Removed fat in processed foods is often replaced with sugar and salt, especially when it comes to salad dressing.

Fat-free Peanut Butter- If you want a healthier peanut butter, opt for an all-natural, full-fat and sugar-free nut butter. Fat-free peanut butters contain high amounts of sugar.

Flavored Milk Alternatives- Flavored milk alternatives often have hidden sugar and calories, so opt for an unsweetened almond milk instead.

Canned Soup- Canned soups can contain up to 500 mg of sodium per cup. If you’re in the mood for soup, make your own!

Fruit Flavored Yogurt- Processed fruit yogurts can contain up to 6 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Greek yogurt is much better for your heart.

Fancy Coffee Drinks- Fancy coffee drinks are chock full of sugar, fat, and hidden calories. A plain iced coffee with a splash of unsweetened almond milk may not taste as good, but your heart will thank you.

Coffee Creamer- The best way to drink your coffee is black, as flavored coffee creamers contain trans fat, sugars, and hydrogenated oil.

Margarine- In comparison to butter, margarine is full of saturated fat and additives. So ironically, butter is actually better for you.

5 Reasons to Turn Exercise Into a Regular Habit

Exercising regularly has proven long term health benefits.

Everybody knows that exercising is good for you. Working out, or even just being physically active can help reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate depression, and release endorphins which elevate your mood in general. Physical benefits include weight loss, stronger muscles and bones, and an overall increase in quality of life.

That being said, the hardest part of exercising is actually getting out the door to do it. While sporadic workouts are also good for you, the real benefits of exercise come from turning it into a regular habit. From a mental health perspective, exercising regularly can help keep your mental and emotional states regulated. Physically, a regular exercise regimen will help increase your overall health incrementally, and extend your life. 

It only takes 33 days for your body to pick up a habit. So here are five reasons you should turn exercise into a regular habit.

Increased Energy- You may think that exercise would make you tired, but the opposite is actually true. Even if you are tired when you enter the gym, chances are you will feel energized by the time you leave. Regular exercise helps your heart pump more blood, which increases the oxygen circulating through your body. Over time, your body becomes more adept at circulating blood, resulting in higher energy levels overall. 

Reducing Risk of Disease- Regular exercise can help decrease your risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and certain types of cancer. 

READ MORE: Summer is Over. How to Maintain Your Fitness This Winter

Memory and Brain Health- Working out regularly increases blood flow to the brain and supports the production of certain hormones that help to enhance the growth of brain cells.

Sleep Quality- Many studies have shown that regular exercise habits can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and increase the quality of your sleep overall. The circadian rhythms of your body respond to patterns, so exercising regularly is as important as falling asleep and waking at the same time every day.

Better Skin- Oxidative stress is the biggest culprit in terms of skin problems. Free radicals are constantly damaging our skin cells, and our bodies can’t always keep up with the repairs. Exercising regularly promotes better blood flow, and helps create antioxidants that fight free radicals. Exercise also helps our bodies push out toxins that can cause skin issues to arise.

So the moral of the story is, get to the gym a few times a week, and turn it into a habit. Your body will thank you in the long run.

6 Ways to Boost Your Energy Naturally

Energy is something you can never really have enough of.

If you’re like me, your energy is at a premium, and you never seem to have enough of it. The demands of being a mother, a surgeon, and an athlete take a lot out of me each day, and I’m always trying to find ways to supplement my energy levels in natural ways.

Our bodies were designed to constantly create energy, but with the amount that we burn each day, most of us are spending our lives in a deficit. Coffee helps in the short term, in fact it has basically saved my life on multiple occasions. That being said, we can’t ignore that caffeine is a drug, and there are other, more natural ways to create more energy in your day to day.

Here are six ways to naturally boost your energy levels.

Regulate your sleep schedule. The most important thing you can do to maintain your energy is to get the same amount of sleep every night, and to go to sleep at the same time. Our circadian rhythms greatly affect how much energy we have during the day, so a regulated sleep schedule is necessary for your overall health.

Don’t skip meals. The food we eat is the fuel our bodies use to create energy, so a regulated eating schedule will also help create more energy. Skipping processed foods in favor of whole, nutritious options, and making sure you eat regularly throughout the day will help keep your energy levels in the green.

READ MORE: Attention All Coffee Addicts! How to Maintain Your Energy Without Caffeine

Adjust your sugar intake. Sugar highs are a quick, easy fix towards energy, but processed and refined sugar is also really bad for you. Ditching the ho-hos in favor of fresh berries and fruit will give you longer-lasting energy.

Work Out. Besides a regular sleeping schedule, working out regularly is the second best way to support your energy levels. If you’ve ever gone to the gym when you were dead tired, and left feeling energized you understand this concept. Now just rinse and repeat.

Stay Hydrated. Dehydration has a profound effect on energy levels and muscle performance, and yet 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. So if you want energy, drink water. It’s really that simple.

Stop Smoking. The toxins in smoke can greatly reduce your lung capacity, which can contribute to low energy levels. Despite all the other reasons to quit smoking, having more energy during the day is well worth the effort.

Should Pregnant Women Get the Covid Booster Shot?

Many pregnant women wonder if the booster shot is safe for their fetus.

In terms of Covid-19 and it’s variants there is still a lot that we don’t know. One of the weirdest things about this whole pandemic is watching the scientific method play out in real time, as doctors learn more about the disease and potential methods of treatment

Vaccines and vaccine booster shots are the best preventative measures we can take in terms of Covid, but many people question the efficacy and safety, especially for pregnant women.

On October 21s of this year, the CDC released guidelines regarding who should get the Covid-19 booster shot. These guidelines differ depending on if you have had either the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, or the Johnson and Johnson alternative.

The overarching consensus is that in terms of Covid, pregnancy is considering an underlying health condition, as women who are pregnant, or within 42 days of previously giving birth are at a higher risk for contracting Covid-19 and should thus get vaccinated and boosted.

READ MORE:Covid Booster Shots: Should You Mix and Match?

This guideline comes from the CDC, but is backed up by the  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM). These two agencies focus specifically on the healthcare of pregnant women in the US, so they are about as reputable as it gets.

If you are pregnant and considering a Covid booster, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. Not all pregnancies are the same, and there may be specific reasons why you personally should not get boosted.

That being said, as a general rule, Covid boosters are safe for pregnant people, and should be strongly considered for the safety of both yourself, and your unborn child. 

Five At-Home Flu Remedies

Prepare for Flu season with preventative measures.

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Flu season is steadily approaching. After living through a worldwide pandemic I’m sure we are all a little less concerned with something like a common cold, but that being said, nobody likes being sick.

There are a wide range of over the counter medications out there to treat cold and flu symptoms, but they come with side effects. The best way to treat illness is to not get sick in the first place.

I know that is the same justification they use in abstinence education, but in this instance nobody willingly tries to go out and get sick. So if you can prevent an illness just by adding a few things to your diet or taking some supplements, you will only be happier for it.

Here are five at-home flu remedies to prevent and treat the flu.

READ MORE: Seven Tips to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Ginger- Sliced ginger in boiling water can be used to soothe a sore throat, and help alleviate nausea.

Echinacea- Echinacea contains flavonoids with therapeutic properties that can boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and reduce your chances of catching the flu by as much as 50% according to some studies.

Garlic- Garlic contains allicin, which has antimicrobial properties and can help fight cold symptoms.

Vitamin C- Vitamin C can help support your immune system and clear up respiratory illnesses and reduce phlegm when consumed as a drink.

Probiotics – Probiotics found in greek yogurt and supplements can help support your immune system and prevent upper respiratory infections

Could You Have Focal Hyperhidrosis?

If you sweat much more than normal, you may have hyperhidrosis.

We all sweat. In fact, sweating is the body’s natural way of regulating your body temperature. For athletes and other physically active people, sweating is a necessary part of daily life. However, some people sweat more than normal, which can be a sign of a condition called focal hyperhidrosis.

Focal Hyperhidrosis is a skin condition that causes excessive sweating in focused areas, like hands, feet, armpits, and head. The symptoms of focal hyperhidrosis include:

-Excessive sweating in one targeted area

-Sweating soon after waking up

-Sweating on both sides of the body 

-Excessive sweating at least once per week

Focal hyperhidrosis is thought to be genetic, and happens because sweat glands are overactive. 

About 3% of the population suffers from hyperhidrosis, and while it isn’t life threatening or even dangerous, it is inconvenient.

READ MORE: How to Combat Yoga Sweat

Treatments for focal hyperhidrosis include prescription antiperspirants and wipes, iontophoresis (electrical therapy), and botox, which blocks the nerve signals responsible for sweating.

If you think you may have hyperhidrosis, the first step is to get diagnosed. A doctor will take all sorts of things into account, such as family history, age of onset, sleeping issues, and duration of episodes. 

So if you are concerned that you may have hyperhidrosis, don’t sweat it! Just go see a doctor and get on a treatment plan that works for you.

Covid Booster Shots: Should You Mix and Match?

Is it safe to mix and match your vaccine and booster shot?

When it comes to Covid-19, we are all witnessing the process of the scientific method play out in real time. The pandemic hit us all by storm, and since the beginning we have watched scientists battle the disease, learning as they go, and informing the public of their findings along the way. The latest revelation in this process is that booster shots are recommended, and it’s okay to mix and match them.

There has been a lot of controversy around vaccinations, and a lot of misinformation. Last month however, the CDC approved mixing and matching vaccines and booster shots for people at high risk for the disease. This means that regardless of which vaccine you received, it is safe to take either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson booster shots to augment your immunity.

READ MORE: Watch Me Get the Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine

If you have been vaccinated, you have some protection against contracting Covid-19. These booster shots work by increasing the level of antibodies in the blood. Right now, the boosters are being recommended for people in high risk categories, such as the following: 

Age 65+

Age 18-64 with underlying health issues

Age 18-64 who live in long-term care facilities

Age 18-64 who work in high-risk environments

If you are considering getting a booster shot, you should definitely have a chat with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you. That being said, we are all just doing the best we can with the information we have. Getting a booster may protect you, or a loved one from contracting Covid-19, so it’s absolutely worth looking into, especially if you fall into a high-risk category.