Good News Monday: Mammo Mia!

There’s a fascinating article in October Vogue magazine about a new device that could change the way health care workers perform breast exams.

Imagine — something faster and more pleasant than squashing your boobs in a giant panini press!

iBreastExam is a handheld cancer screening tool about the size of a travel-sized clothing steamer.  Using Cloud technology rather than radiation, the padded electronic sensor can detect abnormal lumps as small as five millimeters. And it only takes a few minutes to assess multiple quadrants in each breast and then store the info.

Already in use across developing countries where access to radiology and conventional mammograms is limited at best, iBreast Exam is now becoming available to primary care physicians and gynecologists in the U.S.

Despite some limitations — e.g., it’s unable to detect tiny amounts of calcium that may indicate precancerous cells — the tool’s sensitivity is equivalent to a mammogram. For women showing early warning signs, the standard (and proven) mammo would likely be the next step.  But for women with healthy indicators, this might be all that’s needed.

Good news indeed for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

awareness cancer design pink

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Hump Day Hacks: How To Luxe Up Coach

Happy Wednesday! This showed up in my in-box, and while it’s a sponsored post promoting Amazon products, I thought there were some good ideas for adding comfort to a less-than-luxurious coach experience.  CLICK HERE

Plus, some tried-and-true tips:

  • For a late evening or overnight flight, bring makeup remover pads to clean your face (yes, men, too). Then, pat on a creamy, heavy duty moisturizer to combat airplane dryness
  • Lavender-scented hand cream is pampering as well as soothing
  • Compression socks help prevent leg cramps and DVTs (deep vein thrombosis)
  • A small roll-on arnica pain reliever (preferably not too smelly!) —  try Cryoderm or BioFreeze — for the back of your neck, upper shoulders, and anywhere else you can easily reach
  • A lightweight cashmere shawl can function as a wrap, blanket, or be rolled into a pillow
  • Disposable hotel slippers — another layer between you and the less-than-pristine carpeting
  • Sleep mask, preferably silk. Even when the plane is dark, there’s always light coming from someone’s computer or TV screen.
sea of clouds

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Good News Monday: Flu Fighters

 

Cold and flu season is upon us.  And although experts note that “strengthening your immune system” isn’t a quick fix — after all, it is a system with multiple components — there are common sense things that can help.

  1. Get your flu shot.  It’s never a guarantee, but studies have shown it can lessen the severity of illness if you do get sick.
  2. Wash your hands often, and use antibacterial wipes when you’re out and about.
  3. Regular chiropractic adjustments can relieve compression in nerve pathways.
  4. Reduce your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.
  5. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and veggies to boost vitamin C and other nutrients.
  6. Get extra sleep.
  7. Identify causes of chronic stress in your life, and try to address them.
  8. Drink plenty of water, more than normal.
  9. Take in more Vitamin D. 15 minutes of daily sun exposure on unprotected skin is all you need; then apply that sunblock!
  10. Apple cider vinegar thins out mucus in the throat, moving it out of your respiratory system. Hate the taste, or worry about direct contact of acid with your teeth? It’s available in capsules (Amazon has a lot of options) and may help with weight loss.
  11. Exercise regularly.
  12. Don’t smoke. (Did you really need another reason?!)
    1. food salad healthy summerPhoto by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Privacy In An Age Of Oversharing

Click on the computer, glance at social media, open a magazine, and we’re inundated with quotidian tidbits from bloggers, celebrities, bloggerebrities, friends, and casual acquaintances alike.

It’s not that I’m averse to sharing, but most of the time, there’s simply not that much to tell.

Yesterday’s noteworthy discoveries, for example, were as follows: 1) The mysterious nightly clanging in our bedroom heater was caused by a vent not being fully open; 2) our insanely high water bill last month might be due to the Julian Assange of leaks– investigation forthcoming; 3) my “craquelin” cream puffs collapsed into cream pancakes (reasons unknown).

See what I mean?

 

Good News Monday: When Bad Food Happens to Good People

I thought this was so clever: a simple way to tell if food has gone off, without having to guess, sniff, or rely on a (frequently unreliable) sell-by date.

Developed by researchers in London, paper-based electrical gas sensors (“PEGS”) can detect spoilage gases like ammonia and trimethylamine in packaged fish and chicken.

Smartphones can read the data, so you simply hold your phone up to the packaging to learn whether a food is safe to eat.

In lab tests, PEGS identified trace amounts of spoilage gases more accurately than existing sensors.  And since they’re much cheaper to manufacture, the hope is that once PEGS are widely used, the savings for retailers might get passed along to the rest of us as lower food costs.

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No More ‘Sniff Tests’: Cheap Biodegradable Sensors Can Tell Smartphones When Food Has Gone Bad

TGIF! How To Have A Stress-Free Weekend

If I won the lottery, one of the first things I’d do is put a massage therapist on retainer to come de-kink my muscles daily.  (Of course, if I won the lottery I’d probably be a lot less tense in the first place!)

Being on a less luxurious budget, though, I can only manage this monthly at the most. So after several days of traveling last week– always stressful, even when things run smoothly — I enjoyed a much-needed, long massage session yesterday. Which got me thinking about the benefits of massage therapy and why I need to do this more often.

Manipulating the body’s muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and skin does many good things, including a few that aren’t immediately obvious.

Reduces stress. Relaxation is probably the #1 reason people get massages, but there are real health benefits to reducing stress. When you’re tense, you instinctively breathe faster to quickly increase levels of oxygen in your blood. But this also raises your blood pressure. As a result, frequent or chronic stress makes your heart work too hard for too long.

Elevates your mood. Research has shown that massage has a direct impact on lowering the levels of stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine that cause the “fight-or-flight” response. At the same time, it helps release “feel good” neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin.

Improves circulation. As the therapist presses down, blood moves through congested areas. And the release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. That helps get oxygen to all your body’s cells.

Boosts energy. Since massage aids blood flow, it delivers oxygen to all your body’s cells, which we need for energy.

Soothes anxiety.  If you’re not in a relationship or you spend a lot of time alone, it’s especially important to stay literally “in touch” with others. Human touch is a basic need, as long as it’s safe and comfortable.

Encourages restful sleep. Especially if you have your massage later in the day, and keep that relaxed feeling going by taking a warm – not hot – bath before bed.

Reduces muscle tension and pain. By relaxing tight spots throughout your body, massage is an effective way to reduce pain, even for people with chronic conditions. A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that massage therapy was as effective as other treatments for chronic back pain.

Counteracts too much sitting.  Got an office job? Chances are, your posture is suffering and your neck and shoulders are taking a hit. Postural stress can also manifest as pain, soreness or weakness in your lower back and gluteal muscles, aka your butt.

Helps you cope with the pain and stress of chronic conditions and disease, such as stomach problems, fibromyalgia, cancer, and heart disease. Interestingly, women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported feeling less depressed and less angry, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience. That’s pretty amazing, I think.

Eliminates toxins (or does it?) Your therapist may tell you to drink a lot of water to flush out toxins after your massage. But what are toxins anyway? They’ve become a scary buzzword for the buildup of nasty environmental substances that are wreaking havoc in our bodies.

While there are situations that are truly dangerous (e.g., chronic exposure to radon, asbestos and cigarette smoke), it seems that a lot of “detoxing” is more money-making hype than true science, and is at best a temporary “fix”.

Our lungs, kidneys and pancreas are already designed to remove harmful substances. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to drink water and rehydrate after a massage,

Improves flexibility and range of motion by loosening up your muscles.

Relieves headaches. According to researchers at the University of Granada in Spain, a single 30-minute trigger point massage decreased tension, anger status and perceived pain in patients with chronic tension-type headaches.

Boosts immunity. By decreasing levels of cortisol, massage can contribute to stress reduction and management. Massage therapy also increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. According to research from Cedars-Sinai, participants in a Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, which play a large role in defending the body from disease.

Helps you lose weight.  Sorry, massage doesn’t directly cause weight loss. But it helps release endorphins in the body that make us feel happy. And by doing healthy things for our bodies, we build a better relationship with ourselves. Which may make us less likely to use food as a stress reliever.

Have a great weekend! xx, Alisa

adult alternative medicine care comfort

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Hump Day Hacks: Put On a Happy Face

Dear friends,

I’ve been off my writing game for over a week now, thanks to a nasty cold acquired while traveling despite copious applications of hand sanitizer and Wet Wipes.

Finally emerging from my self-imposed cocoon (and beauty purgatory), I wanted to share five quick tips for a flawless finish, now that summer’s in the rearview mirror.

  1. Prime skin with moisturizing sunblock.  I like L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur with SPF 30. Smooths out imperfections, protects from damage, easy to find and quite inexpensive. You might not even need foundation, but if you do…
  2. First, add highlights.  It’s counterintuitive to do this before applying foundation, but makeup artists swear it leaves skin glowier. Dot liquid highlighter (like the classic Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat) on brow bones, cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and the “Cupid’s bow” above the center of your upper lip. Once you add your foundation, the highlights will blend in beautifully.
  3. Get even.  This often means combining lighter and darker shades of foundation to get the right custom color.  At this time of year, you may be phasing out a tan or finding that your face and neck are slightly different from each other.
  4. Apply from the center out.  Start your foundation application with a light dab in the center of your forehead, nose and chin.  Blend outwards with a sponge or brush for a light touch that avoids the dreaded mask look.
  5. Save concealer for last. Let your foundation dry so the concealer has something to cling to, and don’t go more than one shade lighter than your base.

Stay gorgeous!

oval brown wooden framed hanging mirror

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