Wake Up to Wellness: Issue #9

Health Newsletter

What’s new in the world of health and wellness this week?

We’ve got you covered:

  • The health benefits of being a good person
  • How uterus transplants can offer hope to women who want to have a baby
  • The connection between a ketogenic diet and chronic pain
  • How controlling your anxiety can help you lose weight
  • A surprising benefit of talking to your kids about condoms

How Being a Good Person Is Actually Good for Your Health

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you help a friend in need or spend time volunteering? It’s backed by science.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh recently completed a study where 45 volunteers were given three choices:

  1. Complete a task that benefitted them
  2. Volunteer for a charity
  3. Help a friend in need

Afterwards, the researchers studied the differences in their brain scans based on what they chose. Those who chose to help a friend in need showed more activity in their brain’s “reward centers” and also showed less activity in three other parts of the brain that manage the body’s response to blood pressure and inflammation.

Tristen Inagaki, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and leader of the study, said, “Humans are born especially vulnerable and dependent on others. As a result, we require a prolonged period of intense caregiving following birth in order to survive.”

Check out the full story here.

Uterus Transplants Can Help Women Have Healthy Babies

We’ve all heard about heart and lung transplants, but uterus transplants? This exciting new procedure could be the answer for women who face challenges trying to have a baby.

One in 500 women of childbearing age have a condition called absolute uterine factor infertility (AUFI). The condition prevents pregnancy because they don’t have a fully functioning uterus.

A case study was published this month that marks the first time a woman gave birth after receiving a uterus transplant from a deceased donor. The mother was a 32-year-old woman in Brazil who had a rare congenital condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, causing her to be born without a uterus.

The donor was a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke. The woman got pregnant seven months after her transplant through in-vitro fertilization and the baby was born when she was 35 weeks along, weighing 6 pounds.

While this wasn’t the first time a baby has been born through a transplanted uterus, it is the first time it’s happened with a deceased donor. Dr. Rebecca Flyckt, FACOG, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, who has performed uterus transplants, said, “For those of us that are interested in the deceased donor model, this is really a landmark that proves to us that this approach can have the final outcome that we’re interested in, which is a healthy baby.”

Read the full story here.

Can a Ketogenic Diet Relieve Chronic Pain?

The ketogenic diet continues to gain popularity, but did you know it may be effective at naturally reducing pain? The CDC reports that 46 people die every day from overdose of prescription drugs as they try to manage chronic pain.

A series on CrownMD.net showcased how insulin resistance contributes to the chronic pain associated with arthritis and used the keto diet as treatment. Obesity puts extra strain on one’s joints, contributing to the problem of chronic pain.

Extreme neuron excitability is another factor that leads to chronic pain. In animal studies, researchers have noticed how ketones reduce neuron excitability, which is one reason those suffering from seizures are recommended a ketogenic diet.

Furthermore, the ketone body betahydroxybutyrate (BHB) can block pain pathways in mice and rats, decreasing chronic pain even more. Read the full story here.

Don’t Let Anxiety Thwart Your Weight Loss Efforts

We all know how difficult it can be to lose weight and keep it off, and if you’re one of the 40 million Americans who live with an anxiety disorder, it might be even harder.

Why? There’s a host of reasons. Anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, and studies show that not getting enough sleep can reduce fat loss by up to 55 percent. When you’re tired, you are always less likely to exercise and more likely to make poor food choices.

Anxiety can also cause your cortisol levels to spike, signaling your body to increase fat production. Cortisol is also linked to developing more fat around your middle, called “visceral fat.”

So, what can you do to lose weight and control your anxiety? Make conscious efforts to keep your anxiety at bay and stay on track. Keep a journal, practice mindfulness or meditation, talk with your doctor about medication, and exercise — exercise provides mood-lifting dopamine that combats anxiety.

Read the full story here.

Why It’s Important for Dads to Talk to Their Sons About Condoms

As any parent knows, talking about safe sex isn’t always easy. But, it’s important.

Fathers who talk with their adolescent sons about using condoms helps prevent STDs and unplanned pregnancies, according to researchers. Over the last decade, U.S. government data showed condom use was dropping and STDs were on the rise.

A professor at New York University, Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, conducted a study where researchers interviewed 25 black and Hispanic fathers who had sons aged between 15 and 19 in New York City. The study showed that fathers who regularly talked with their sons about correct condom use reduced the rate of STDs and pregnancies.

Even more, the fathers reported it improved their own condom usage. The study authors commented, “Helping fathers teach their sons about the consistent and correct use of condoms by addressing common communication barriers — and focusing specifically on strategies to avoid condom use errors and problems — is a promising and novel mechanism to increase the use of male condoms and to reduce unplanned pregnancies, STIs, and sexual reproductive health disparities among adolescent males.”

Read the full story here.

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