Review Category : Health

Don’t Forget: Memory Problems Affect All Ages

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Remembering things seems to get harder as we get older. Virtually anyone who reaches middle age can attest to that.

Yet, a new study from UCLA and Gallup researchers reveals that memory issues can start cropping up when people are only in their mid-20s, which can’t be blamed on an early onset of dementia.

In polling 18,500 adults starting at age 18 through 95, 14 percent of young adults admitted having memory problems that increased to 22 percent among middle-agers and 26 percent of those considered elderly.

What the researchers learned was that certain factors common with all age groups contributed to memory problems. Depression, in particular, can impair cognitive processes involved in remembering.

Other conditions that also affect the memory are physical inactivity, high blood pressure and a lack of education. Naturally, a combination of these problems is going to hit the memory even harder.

Dr. Gary Small of the UCLA Longevity Center says people would do well for themselves to address physical and mental health issues because minor recall problems “are often precursors to more significant memory decline later in life.”

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Maria Menounos’ Secrets to the Perfect Beach Body for the ‘Everygirl’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — TV personality Maria Menounos was once a size 14, tipping the scales at 160, until she completely revamped her approach to nutrition and exercise and dropped 40 pounds.

Now, she’s sharing her secrets in a new book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness, which includes tips and recipes for an easy transition into summer.

Menounos’ motto is being healthy, not skinny, and she achieves that in 11 key ways:

Make social hour your workout hour.
Some of the best conversations/brainstorms happen while walking and talking.

Drink hot water.
Keep an electric kettle in your kitchen or office. It aids with digestion. Think of it as melting food in your stomach. It’s warm and comforting like coffee, but cleaner. You can squeeze fresh lemon in for flavor.

Always be moving.
If you think exercise only comes from a trainer or gym membership, you’re wrong. Incorporate small, cumulative activity throughout the day. When going to the grocery store, park as far away from the entrance as possible. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t love. If you hate the gym, figure out another way to keep fit and get your steps in. Get an electronic wristband to count your steps.

Eat following a 75/25 plan.
Aim to eat real or whole foods like fresh fruit, veggies, chicken, legumes, nuts and veggies 75 percent of the time. The other 25 percent you’ve got room to play.

Don’t attempt a 180.
Rather than making enormous, drastic changes, Menounos’ strategy is to ease out of old habits and into new ones slowly and realistically for maximum staying power.

Plan ahead.
Take pictures on your phone of the exercises you like so you don’t have to lug a book around.

Set reminders.
Keep workout clothes and a bag in your car and by your bed. If you see them, it reminds you to do it. No one ever regrets working out and says, “I wish I hadn’t done that run/workout/hike/swim.”

Sunday is “Prep Day.”
Make meals for the week on Sunday that you can keep at work. Always keep almonds, apples, or bananas with you, in your purse or car.

Keep a food journal.

Ban dieting.
Don’t “diet” and don’t use the word “diet.”

Set a curfew.
Don’t eat after 7 p.m. — put a note on the fridge!

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Boston 6-Year-Old with OCD Leads Million Steps Walk

Kelly Davidson(BOSTON) — Cameron Lucas-Pelletier was only a toddler when his parents noticed he had a nervous tic, “fluffing” his hair with an “unsettled look,” and began repetitive touching.

But his anxiety quickly escalated as he developed an irrational fear of scissors, afraid he would hurt himself, and he wondered at bedtime whether an earthquake or a fire would destroy his house.

“It got bad fast. He wasn’t his normal self,” mom Jiliane Lucas of Foxboro, Massachusetts, said. “In school, he would not hold a pencil and it hindered his handwriting. He was afraid to see his friends hold a pencil because he thought they’d get injured. Imagine being in a classroom with 30 kids. It was so overwhelming.”

Cameron, now 6, was soon diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, which affects the brain and behavior, causing severe anxiety that gets in the way of normal living and thinking.

But today, with early diagnosis and treatment, he is overcoming his disease, and will serve Saturday as one of the grand marshals for the second annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD 5K Walk in Boston, which will bring together advocates, families and medical professionals who want to raise awareness about obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“He is really good,” Lucas, 29, told ABC News. “The past two years have been a whirlwind, but we are dealing with it. He has made amazing progress and is now learning to embrace it. …It has been quite humbling to look back over the past two years when he was afraid of life, of himself and his own thoughts. Now he wants to help others.”

The OCD walk was inspired by advocate Denis Asselin, who walked one million steps from Philadelphia to Boston as a memorial to his son, who had OCD-related body dysmorphic disorder, a cruel condition that made him magnify every imperfection he imagined on his face. He had suffered from the disorder since the age of 11 and killed himself at 24.

As many as 20 percent of all children in the United States suffer from a mental disorder, about 7 to 12 million and the rate is rising, according to the Centers for Disease Control. OCD affects an estimated half million children and 2 to 3 million adults in the United States, it says.

OCD typically starts in early adolescence or in young adults, but it can occur at any age, preying on a young child’s worst fears and anxieties, according to the Boston-based International OCD Foundation, which is sponsoring this weekend’s parade. Last year, 300 participants raised $75,000.

“Most people have no idea that OCD starts in childhood,” said Jeff Szymanski, the foundation’s executive director. “Without early and effective treatment, OCD can have a devastating effect on these young lives.”

But he said that while developing OCD at age 4 is “not unheard of, it’s not the norm.”

Often, there is a genetic component. Lucas, Cameron’s mom, said she, too, has suffered from OCD since childhood, but had no idea her anxious and intrusive thoughts and irrational fears had a name.

“There is something like a 1 in 4 chance of some sort of OCD-like anxiety passed on to a kid genetically,” Szymanski said. “But your subtype doesn’t get passed on. What gets passed on is your wiring. But just because you have the wiring, doesn’t mean you are going to develop it. Environment, parenting and experiences shape it.”

Lucas, who worked as a behavioral therapist and was taking care of Cameron’s 3-month-old sister when the symptoms began, was quick to notice her son’s irrational thoughts. “I saw it coming before anyone else did,” she said. “I was crying out for help, for somebody to tell me I am not crazy.”

Cameron had to always know “Why?” or “What if, Mommy?” she said. He had difficulty at recess and felt stigmatized socially.

While OCD cannot be cured, it can be managed and his mother says Cameron is proof that OCD doesn’t mean the end of a happy childhood.

Cameron is on a low dose of antidepressant medication and, in therapy, he is learning to control his irrational fears, Lucas said.

“I say to him, ‘Cameron, how likely is it that the house will burn down?’” Lucas said.

“’Probably not, and if it did, we would save you, then go next door and call the fire department,’” she tells him. “We think out loud together and it gives him a sense of security.”

Experts like Szymanski say exposure therapy is the standard of care, but when a child is resistant to that, medications are considered “as a back-up therapy.”

“At first I felt so helpless, but he is doing better because we have been proactive and found a group,” she said. “We do it together and he enjoys knowing he is helping others.”

But now, with help and Cameron’s new activism, things are getting better. “I say, ‘You have brown hair, brown eyes and you have OCD.”

This year, walk organizers have made Cameron a superhero cape with his nickname: “Captain Never Give Up.”

He participated in the 2013 OCD walk and “loved it,” according to his mother.

“I was crying in tears,” she said after last year’s experience. “He found comfort, like a warm hug. ‘You understand me and don’t judge me or my parents — we are like the rest of the world.’”

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‘Wounded Warrior’ Poised to Make Motocross History on Prosthetics

Warrior Built(NEW YORK) — Off road in the California desert, Jesse Williamson is getting ready for the Baja 500, a grueling 500-mile dirt bike race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

But Williamson also faces an additional challenge.

Unlike the other racers, he is attempting to become the first double-amputee to compete in the race.

The retired Marine lance corporal, currently living in Wildomar, California, lost his legs below the knee from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in August 2009. All his buddies in the vehicle died.

It transformed his life in a flash.

When he came back home, as he tried to recover, he got hooked on pain medications, slipped into depression and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The things I was doing up there — not too proud of. I got into doing heroin,” Williamson, 23, said.

His friend 1st Sgt. Nick Hamm, a fellow Marine also from Wildomar, California, who was also wounded twice in combat, came to the rescue.

Hamm recruited Williamson to join Warrior Built, a foundation he created to provide new motivation, camaraderie and support as veterans transition back to life after war.

The foundation provides vocational therapy in the Warrior Built Garage, a space devoted to off-road biking in Lake Elsinore, California. It is staffed entirely by combat veterans.

“Every time I am able to help someone else, I get a little piece of myself back,” Hamm, 37, said.

Thirty-five combat vets work at the garage rebuilding bikes and their lives. The foundation aims to help 100 veterans by the end of the year.

“We just start talking among the other,” Hamm said. “The good, the bad, the ugly.”

The Baja 500, which is Thursday to Sunday, will be the third race for Williamson, Hamm and friend and combat veteran Eric Nolan.

In November, Williamson was the first double-amputee to compete in the Baja 1000, a 1,000-mile motorcross race. In the Imperial 250, the team came in second place in their class despite a sandstorm so bad two-thirds of the riders were unable to finish.

The sandstorm was not a problem for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. They took the brutal conditions in stride, sleeping outside in tents and sleeping bags.

“You know there’s a lot of sports that are hard, but ours the ultimate consequence is death,” Williamson’s trainer, Ryan Hughes, said.

For these wounded warriors, motocross offers a new mission, a reason to soldier on.

“Continue to stay in the fight no matter your struggles,” Williamson, whose birthday is Saturday, said. “Just keep pushing on.”

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Family Finds Teen’s Secret Message Days After Cancer Death

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Days after 13-year-old Athena Orchard died from cancer, her family discovered a hidden message on the back of her mirror.

“Happiness depends on ourselves,” she wrote. “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story.”

Athena was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, after discovering a tiny lump on her head in December, according to Caters News Agency.

She collapsed at home around Christmas, and doctors found the cancer in her spine, left shoulder and head. After undergoing a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery to remove the spinal tumor, she started chemotherapy.

Though Athena had once been athletic and enjoyed boxing, soon she was too weak to leave her bed, her mother Caroline Orchard, 37, told Caters.

Athena died May 28 in the United Kingdom.

As her parents went through her belongings in the days that followed, they discovered the mirror’s message.

“She never mentioned it, but it’s the kind of thing she’d do,” Athena’s father, Dean Orchard, 33, told Caters. “I started reading it, but before long I had to stop because it was too much. It was heartbreaking.”

Athena wrote about love, happiness and illness. The Orchards say they’ll never get rid of the mirror.

“Every day is special, so make the most of it,” Athena wrote. “You could get a life-ending illness tomorrow, so make the most of every day. Life is only bad if you make it bad.”

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Third Grader’s Heimlich Saves Choking Friend

iStock/Thinkstock(EDINA, Minn.) — A Minnesota third grader is being hailed the “Heimlich Hero” by the Edina School District.

During an end-of-the-year school picnic, Zach Furman and Aiden Roberts, both 9 years old, looked to their friend Fletcher Dypwick sitting by himself, wanting him to join the rest of the class. But something was wrong.

Roberts ran to alert their teacher, Colin Friden, while Furman realized Dypwick was actually choking on his lunch.

Remembering a technique his father taught him two weeks earlier, Furman grabbed his friend, went behind him, and started performing the Heimlich maneuver. After five or six thrusts, little by little, chunks of food started coming out of Dypwick’s mouth.

It appears he was choking on a French fry.

“The situation went from scary, to nerve-racking, and then he was kind of a celebrity with his friend Zach,” mom Nikki Dypwick told ABC News.

Mom had the boys over at her house for a play date to celebrate and to say “thank you so much for being there for him” on that sunny afternoon on May 22.

“The boys were so concerned about him, it was unreal,” she said. “They were looking to invite him over…my son literally just wanted to eat, so he sat down and started eating, it was really that simple. He wasn’t running around. He just choked, which is kind of scary.”

Both teachers and the administration could not be more proud of the trio.

“They’re a very caring group of people who will help a friend in need,” Friden, 50, told ABC News. “If anything happens, you can tell the compassion that they have, especially for 9-year-olds, it’s pretty amazing when it comes out.”

Friden has been teaching third grade for 13 years at Concord Elementary and says, “I think that’s why it’s so much fun to be a teacher. Every day is a little different.”

Among his third grade classmates, Furman is seen as a little hero at Concord Elementary School. “The kids told him when he came back the next day what a great job he did and patted him on the back,” Friden said.

“I was amazed at Zach’s courage to act. It was great, really how the boys worked together to keep their friend safe,” Principal Rick Sansted told ABC News. “It speaks to the community that we are trying to build here at Concord.”

“I’m really very proud, proud of their actions and caring for one another,” Sansted added.

The boys have their last day of third grade on Friday.

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‘Plus-Size’ Has Fashionistas Fuming

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Support is mounting for fashionistas who want to ban the word “plus-size.”

The term is offensive and outdated, according to models like Robyn Lawley and Tyra Banks. Their point is that models are models — no matter what their size.

And the term is less important as more full-figured models get gigs typically reserved for “straight-sized” models.

“You’re going to see a lot of crossovers happening where girls with curves are working for mainstream [brands],” Becca Thorpe, a former model and now an agent at Muse Model Management in New York, told ABC News. “I’ve seen the transition happen over the past couple decades — from, ‘I’m in the plus division’ to just, ‘I’m a model.’”

“Real-sized” model Robyn Lawley recently told Clique magazine she hates the term.

“I don’t think anyone should be called plus-size,” she said. “I think it’s derogatory to anyone — it’s a label. I’m a model; I don’t think I need ‘plus-size’ in front of it.”

Banks has said she prefers to call girls with curves “fiercely real” and Queen Latifah once told Women’s Wear Daily that plus-size is “a word that we need to bury.”

Body image expert Robyn Silverman said the word on its own isn’t a problem, it’s how it’s perceived.

“On the front side, there’s nothing wrong with it,” she told ABC News. “However, what’s happened is that the term has morphed. Instead of describing clothing size, it’s describing a body size with this negative connotation.”

Not everyone has such vitriol for the term “plus-size.”

Thorpe said it’s still a useful descriptor in the modeling industry to help find clients the type of model they want for a job.

Writer Nicolette Mason pointed out that when it comes to clothes, plus-size remains an important distinction.

“Especially when you’re shopping for clothes and need to find your size,” said Mason, author of Marie Claire’s popular fashion column, “Big Girl in a Skinny World.” “Until plus-sizes are more readily available to satisfy the two thirds of American women who wear a size 14 or higher, there does need to be some terminology.”

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More People Losing Sleep over Their Pets

iStock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, Minn.) — It seems that more people are complaining that their furry companions are making it harder for them to get a restful sleep, based on new figures from the Mayo Clinic.

More than a decade ago, only 1 percent of those who went to the Mayo Clinic’s sleep center blamed their dog, cat or bird for disrupting their sleep. By 2013, that figure increased to 10 percent.

So what changed? Lead author Dr. Lois Krahn explains it could be that more households in the U.S. now feature multiple pets.

Kahn says some of the complaints of pet owners are that their animals snore, whimper, wander around the house or need to go outside.

This latest study indicated “that while the majority of patients did not view their pets intolerably disturbing their sleep, a higher percentage of patients experienced irritation,” according to Kahn.

As a result, she recommends that “sleep specialists should ask about companion animals and help patients think about ways to optimize their sleep.”

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High School Principal Comes Out to Students at LGBT Event

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Woodrow Wilson High School principal Pete Cahall stunned many of his D.C. students when he came out during the school’s gay pride celebration.

“That was so unexpected,” gay school senior Tao Marwell told ABC News affiliate station WJLA-TV in Washington. “I had no idea. I have so much more respect for him now.”

His hands trembling, his voice shaking, his speech stuttered, Cahall confessed something Wednesday he said he had waited many years to say publicly.

“I am a proud gay man that just happens to be the principal of Wilson High School,” he said as students cheered and clapped, according to WJLA.

It all unfolded at the school’s second annual gay pride celebration during Wednesday’s lunch hour. When Cahall was handed the microphone, he looked overwhelmed and uneasy, WJLA reported.

He said he had only told a small circle of friends about his sexuality, not even his family.

“I have been in the shadows, but I am liberated today,” Cahall told the audience. “I have not made this declaration before, because I did not want my kids [the students] to think differently, or not respect me.”

Cahall said the fears were obstacles in his mind because of the culture of when and where he grew up, not providing any details.

After the announcement at the LGBT event, Cahall was still shaking as students walked up to offer him hugs, WJLA said.

Cahall has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Human Rights Campaign director Ellen Kahn said, “What he did was very bold and courageous.”

LGBT students are consistently bullied because of their identifies, both verbally and physically, she said. “He is in a high school where some students probably already find themselves to be attracted by the same sex, or have claimed to be a group of LGBT,” Kahn added. “When an adult comes out, it delivers a very powerful message.”

But not everyone welcomed the news.

Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kansas, organization known for anti-gay picketing at military funerals, plans to protest Wilson’s Pride Day Monday.

“You should be hanging your heads in shame for such a thing,” the church declared on its website regarding the gay pride event. “Since your teachers haven’t taught you the basic lesson of why God destroyed Sodom, we’ll help you out.”

Nearly 1,000 Wilson students have signed up for a peaceful counter-protest Monday.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who tweeted that the school has his full support, called Westboro church “backward thinking” and its message “a disgrace.”

“In my best biblical reference,” Gray said, “they can go straight to hell.”

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Get Fit for Summer: 16 Daily Tips to Shape Up, Slim Down

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The official start of summer is June 21, but it’s not too late to shape up and slim down before you hit the beach.

Fitness guru Harley Pasternak, the celebrity trainer behind the bikini-perfect bodies of stars like Jessica Simpson, Katy Perry, Megan Fox and more, shared 16 quick diet tips to help you reach your fitness goals and stay motivated each of the 16 days until summer and beyond.

“It doesn’t require any surplus of money and it doesn’t require a drastic amount of exercise or drastic amount of dieting,” Pasternak, the author of The Body Reset Diet, told ABC’s Good Morning America.

  1. Drink caffeinated tea or coffee. Studies show that 250 mg of caffeine consumed with a meal can increase the calories spent metabolizing the meal by 10 percent. Another study showed a 5 percent increase in daily calorie burn when consuming three cups of tea.
  2. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
  3. Add some avocado to your meals. Research shows healthy fats, like those found in avocados, can help keep you full between meals.
  4. Spice it Up! Hot peppers, as well as chili peppers, contain capsaicin, which will cause the body to start expending more energy as heat, increasing your total calorie burn.
  5. Behold, the power of protein! The addition of protein to your meal can increase your metabolism, according to research.
  6. Sleep more to burn more. Studies have shown a link between poor sleep and higher body fat. A study from Brigham Young University found that people who get less than 6.5 hours of sleep and more than 8.5 hours of sleep have higher body fat.
  7. Get fit with fiber. Make sure you have at least 10 grams of fiber with each meal (and 5 grams with each snack). Fiber will make you feel fuller longer and lowers your body’s insulin response to sugar.
  8. Get back! Focus on strengthening the muscles on the back of your body to create the illusion of a longer leaner body. See Pasternak’s Fierce Five workout, which consists of four sets of 20 reps each of these: reverse lunges, single arm dumbbell rows, stiff leg dead lifts, lying dumbbell tricep extensions, plus four sets of minute planks to strengthen the core.
  9. Take the stairs. Using an activity monitor, you should strive to stride a total of 14,000 steps a day, he says.
  10. Call your friends on the go. Instead of sitting down to chat, take a walk and burn some calories at the same time.
  11. Exercise while entertained. A study out of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found watching a video while doing cardio significantly lowered your rate of perceived exertion, making it feel easier to exercise. And the more distractions, the better: Another study found those who exercised while listening to music and watching a personal TV completed longer exercise sessions than those who only listened to music or only watched TV.
  12. Reign in your alcohol consumption, but not for the reason you think. Believe it or not, it’s not only the extra calories from alcohol that make people gain weight. It’s also because alcohol diminishes your ability to burn fat and weakens your inhibitions.
  13. Got milk? Studies show that people who add more dairy to their diet can actually burn more fat. Try some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
  14. Get up and walk. Get off the subway one stop earlier or park your car a block away.
  15. Stop eating when you’re three-quarters full.
  16. Burst away your belly. Research shows that adding a few bursts of high-intensity cardio bouts through the day can increase your total calorie burn.

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