Kate Dailey is the health and lifestyle editor for Newsweek.com. She blogs at The Human Condition.
After ten weeks, DIY Checkup is coming to a close. We discussed a lot of valuable topics over the course of the summer, but the most important one – the one that might get lost in two plus months of information – is that when it comes to being healthy, simple is better.
In the course of this summer's DIY-Checkup series here on The Takeaway. We've found ways to take control of our health in simple ways. Kate Dailey, health editor for Newsweek, has been with us the whole way.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of medicine deemed "alternative" or "complimentary" to established medicine. We discuss four popular forms: acupuncture, chiropractics, osteopathy and homeopathy.
We have long been aware that there is some connection between having strong friendships and being in good health. But a new study shows that social connections are fundamentally important to our well-being. In fact, not having many strong relationships can be as bad for your health as smoking… and even worse than not exercising. What is a "healthy" social life for you? How many friends and relationships are enough for you?
Today we talked about the value of social networks – a term that researchers use to describe the relationships and community ties we have throughout or life, whether it’s coworkers or family or a Tuesday night book club. Of course, when we hear “social network” these days, we tend to think about our virtual connections – Facebook friends, twitter followers, avatars we meet in Second Life.
But when it comes to health benefits, how “virtual” are those friendships? Can you garner the same benefits from online social networks as you can from off line relationships?
Today on the show, we discussed the importance of sleep. And most people, if asked, would readily admit they don't get enough. A CDC survey taken in 2009 found that only 30 percent of those surveyed reported sufficient sleep over the past 30 days. Products like Red Bull and Five Hour Energy exist to serve the ever-growing market of people who feel tired and listless throughout the day, and the market to help people sleep is expanding rapidly: one report found that the sleep aid market will be worth $759 billion by 2013.
For most Americans, getting eight hours of sleep a night tends to fall into the same category as flossing and wearing sunscreen: We know it's a good idea, and we feel vaguely guilty when called on it ... but we still don't tend to do it. (A recent study found nearly one in five adults feels moderately to excessively sleepy during daylight hours, which is one sign we're not getting enough sleep at night.)
Our sleep and our health are closely related. Do you get enough sleep, most nights? How do you cope when you don't? How important do you find a good night's sleep?
Today on the show we talked about the stigma associated with mental health issues. But stigma isn't just discrimination or disdain for people with mental health issues. In fact, some of the experts I've spoken to say they've seen that type of stigma disappearing in the past few years. What remains is more insidious: the idea that a mental health problem as something that happens only to other people.
50 million Americans will suffer from a mental health issue this year. But only a quarter of them will seek treatment from a mental health professional. And one in three mental health consumers in the United States report being turned down for a job once their psychiatric status became known.
Share your story: How do you maintain your peace of mind? Have you been able to find good therapy for mental health issues?
There's no shortage of trendy health fads like the "master cleanse," Acai remedies, vitamins and spring waters, but are any of these actually good for you? Newsweek health reporter Kate Dailey sheds light on what works and what trends you should avoid.
Do you have questions about a health fad? Let us know and Kate will answer your questions later this week.
Some 80,000 chemicals are on the market and immediately available to Americans; many of these chemicals are manufactured for use in our daily lives, including as food additives. According to a recent report released by President Obama's Cancer Panel, we should at least be "concerned" about the issue of carcinogens in the environment we live in. But what exactly should we worry about, and how can we reduce our exposure?
This week, we're looking at how worried people should be about exposure to toxic chemicals. Here’s the reality: there are chemicals everywhere, so trying to avoid them completely may be futile. For instance: A recent study found questionable levels of pesticides in frozen foods, while another noted that canned goods were at high risk for BPA exposure. An all-organic diet has been shown to reduce exposure to pesticides; eating only organic vegetables will also minimize the risk of BPA and other chemical exposure (unless you cook or store them in damaged Teflon, or certain plastic containers). Even if you could go all organic all the time, using only environmentally sound storage and cooking devices, doing so can be expensive — not to mention impractical ... and paying a premium for food that doesn't kill you seems unjust. In some cases the risks associated with chemical exposure are not as great as the alternative.
In our DIY Checkup series we've been talking about simple strategies to help take control of our health. Last week we spoke about setting long term health priorities with Dr. Andrea Price, who said that it is important to get to the doctor for your regular checkups. But for many, just making an appointment can be challenging.
Takeaway listener Hugh Appet responded on our website:
"One of the doctors mentioned as an example, someone who has not been to a doctor in five years. How about 20? Why don't insurance companies make it mandatory? The big thing, for me, is phobia. I tried making an appointment with my forcibly chosen primary care doctor under my health plan. The phone receptionist was so brusk that I couldn't get out what I needed to. So no appointment.
This week, we talk with Newsweek health reporter Kate Dailey and Dr. Pauline Chen about how to navigate the chaotic health system to find the right doctor and how to build a trusting relationship with your doctor once you make it to the office.
How do we plan for a longer, healthier life? According to an Annals of Internal Medicine study, there are four simple priorities people need to have in order to get healthy: quit smoking; eat five servings of fruits or vegetables each day; get to a "healthy" weight; and exercise vigorously for 100 minutes each week.
Whether you’re worried about high blood pressure or diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease, there are just four steps you need to significantly cut your risk and improve your health. (For reasons I explain below, I like to think of them as just three and half steps.)
What does "healthy" mean in America today? From trendy diets to calorie-burning shoes, we get so many confusing messages about what we need to do to be healthy that we lose sight of the goal. Maybe it's time to reconsider how we define health.
What does healthy mean to you? When it comes to maintaining your health, what works for you?
A study published yesterday in the Journal Pediatrics links pesticide exposure in children to a diagnosis of ADHD. When chemicals are everywhere, how can we keep ourselves and our children safe?