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Survey finds 4 in 5 Americans take vitamins, but it could be causing them more harm than good

More than 86 percent of Americans take some form of over-the-counter vitamin or supplement in attempt to improve their health. After all, it can’t hurt — right? Unfortunately, no. Taking vitamins does come at a cost. According to a recent survey on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, only about a quarter of people (24 percent) actually received test results indicating a nutritional deficiency. “Numerous investigations show the alleged benefits are unproven and in the worst cases, vitamins and supplements can be harmful,” said Mike Varshavski, DO, an osteopathic family physician. People with documented nutritional deficiencies can most often and most effectively correct the problem with a change in diet. Since supplements don’t work as well as most people assume, taking vitamins can distract or deter people from taking other steps to treat their ailments, like improving nutrition or moderate exercise. As the multibillion dollar vitamin industry grows, Dr. Varshavski says…

7 reasons you should eat more cherries

When you eat cherries, you can enjoy so much more than just their delicious sweet taste. Yes, they’re the perfect quick snack — just rinse and go — but those tiny cherries are loaded with big health benefits too. Here are 7 good reasons to start snacking on this superfood today: 1. They’re a low-sugar sweet tooth fix Sweet cherries are delicious and sweet, but unlike that double scoop ice cream cone, they have zero added sugar. What’s more, they’re low on the glycemic index (22) compared to other fruits [grapes (46), peaches (42), plums (39)], which means their natural sugars will be released into your bloodstream more slowly, and you won’t feel that spike and crash of high-sugar snacks. All this makes them a go-to for folks with diabetes. 2. They’ll bring you better sleep If you’re tossing and turning all night long, try drinking cherry juice — or…

Here’s how to keep food safe when it’s extra hot outside

Picture this: Relaxed al fresco lunches, backyard barbecues with friends, and simple snacks with the family car camping. What you see as summer fun,  bacteria and viruses also see as a raging good time. Around 48 million people will get sick from a foodborne illness this year, according to the CDC. Hot weather is the perfect environment for bacteria to flourish, so it’s especially important during the summer months to make sure you’re keeping your food safe. So what can you do to prevent those gnarly nights camped out in the bathroom? Here are 7 ways to make sure your food stays safe when it’s hot out: 1. Keep things cool on the road If you’re headed on our a car adventure, keep your cooler near the air-conditioning, rather in the trunk or in the direct path on sunlight. 2. Keep hands clean Always wash your hands before and after…

Eating for smoother, healthier summer skin

Long summer days are made for backyard barbecues, poolside picnics, and rosé all day. But all of that sunshine can have real consequences for your skin. The good news is that there are tons of delicious foods you can eat to help your skin recover from all of the summer excess — and also keep your complexion glowing long after the warm-weather has faded.  “There’s a big impact on how much your diet can effect the health of your skin,” said Dr. Ivy Lee, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in Pasadena, California and clinical assistant professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. “What we’ve learned is that whatever is good for your heart health is good for your skin as well.”  That means farm-fresh fruits and veggies, healthy fats and plenty of water. But it’s just as much of what you don’t eat as what you do.…

Your kitchen towel could be loaded with bacteria, study shows

We were already weary of kitchen sponges, but now we know to look out for kitchen towels, too. Kitchen towels do many duties from wiping to drying, holding hot things and cleaning surfaces. They’re ubiquitous in households around the world, but now we know, those pretty patterns might be hiding some dangerous secrets. A new study from the University of Mauritius reported by the American Society for Microbiology found that family size and type of diet factor into the growth rate of the bacteria on kitchen towels that can lead to food poisoning and other serious infections. Researchers took an up close look at 100 kitchen towels after one month of use and found that 49 percent of the towels contained high levels of bacterial growth. The bacteria count increased with the size of the family and also when children or extended families were present. In households where towels  had more than…

Why you should always toss your expired pancake mix

Let’s be honest. When you come across an expired food item in your pantry, unless it’s from prehistoric times, you probably continue on and eat that item anyway. After all, those dates are just put there as a guideline, right? For most food items the actual risk is pretty low, but when it comes to pancake mix, you might want to think twice. So why not pancake mix? Well… it could kill you. That’s the official report following several case studies examining a number of freaky stories about people who claim they experienced life-threatening symptoms after eating expired pancake mix. One study published in the American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology covered the story of a 19-year-old man who ate pancakes made from an opened mix that was two years old. After eating the pancakes, the man went into anaphylaxis — a life-threatening allergic reaction, often caused by food, that makes…

Skipping breakfast could increase risk of heart disease, study shows

You’ve heard it before — “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But that still doesn’t stop you from slapping the snooze button and skipping out on the first meal of the day in favor of a few extra quality minutes of shuteye. But you might want to think twice. We already know a good breakfast can help you lose weight, but a new study suggests that skipping breakfast might increase your risk of death from heart disease. The study was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers used data from 1988-1994 on more than 6,500 people between the ages of 40 and 75, who had been asked how often they ate breakfast in the morning. Responses showed that 5.1% almost never ate breakfast; 10.9% rarely ate breakfast; 25% had breakfast somedays; and 59% had breakfast every day. The researchers followed up with the…

Eating garlic could help protect your memory, new study shows

You might miss out on some smooches, but a new study suggests that consuming garlic may help protect your memory. Scientists at the University of Louisville found that eating garlic may reduce age-related problems with memory. As it turns out, allyl sulfide, the same sulfide compound that gives us “garlic breath” also improves our gut health, which is one factor in cognitive function. If people eat more garlic, the study’s authors believe people could see a reduced risk in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For the study, researchers gave oral allyl sulfide to 24-month-old mice (basically 56 to 69 years of age in human years). They then compared these mice with 4- and 24-month-old mice not receiving the allyl sulfide supplement. The older mice that received the garlic showed better long and short term memories, as well as a healthier gut bacteria, than the mice that didn’t receive…

You should never cook frozen chicken in a crock pot, USDA says

Crock-pots are all about convenience. You throw in some ingredients, go about your business, and whip out a delicious, hot meal a few hours later. No one takes the time to prep ingredients a whole day before for a crock-pot. That’s why it was so disconcerting to learn that taking chicken directly from the freezer and plopping it in the popular countertop appliance is a big no-no. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, slow cookers, as a whole, are safe. But in a section called “Slow Cookers and Food Safety,” the department elaborates and says that you should, “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it in a slow cooker.” Unfortunately, microwaving it last minute isn’t even an option! Man, these guys are tough. The reasons are based on bacteria. The USDA explains that because your slow cooker is, well, slow to reach any cooking temperature…

Soda could cause cancer tumors to grow, study shows

Think your 3 p.m. Coca-Cola pick-me-up isn’t a huge problem? You might want to reconsider. New research revealed that your sugary soda addiction could actually cause serious health problems — even cancer. According to The Sun, it was the increase in bowel cancer cases in people under 35 that spurred the interest of Dr. Lewis Cantley, of Cornell University, to look for answers. Cantley, along with his colleagues, suspected that an increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup was to blame. To test the theory, cancer-prone mice were fed high-fructose corn syrup (amounting to about one can of Coke per day for a human). The study showed that the tumors were “directly eating the sugar… the cancer was using fructose and glucose together to more than double its growth rate.” Yikes! Excluding skin cancers, bowel cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. According to the American Cancer…