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Anchor lead: Periodic fasting may be the best way to lose fat, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Avoiding eating for intervals may help your body use stored fat as an energy source, a review paper by Mark Mattson, a neurosciences researcher at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, shows. Mattson describes what’s needed to induce your body to mobilize fat.

Mattson: Intermittent fasting involves eating patterns with time periods sufficient to cause depletion of liver energy stores and utilization of fat. So if someone is eating three meals a day plus snacks and they’re not getting vigorous exercise then every time they eat they replenish their liver energy stores and they may never tap into the fat. Beyond just using fat there’s a lot that goes on in the body and brain when this metabolic switch occurs.  :30

Mattson says a number of models exist for adopting such a strategy, so fitting one to your own preferences is possible. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Do dog bacteria account for a reduced risk for schizophrenia? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Having a dog very early in life can reduce the risk for developing schizophrenia by about 40%, a study by Robert Yolken and colleagues at Johns Hopkins shows. Yolken says two factors he’d really like to measure are the dog’s impact on a person’s resident bacteria, known as the microbiome, as well as effects on the immune system.

Yolken: One of the data would be that the dog contributes to the microbiome of the children or somehow stimulates the immune system, and therefore this provides a protective effect. The microbiome hypothesis is probably closer to what we’re seeing than the hygiene hypothesis involving allergy and exposures because we did not see a protective effect of cats. We think the difference probably has to do with the microbiome. The dog microbiome is quite different from the cat microbiome. Cats are carnivores, dogs are omnivores, and there are many studies suggesting different microbiomes, that is the bacteria are different. :30

Yolken says for now, he would not counsel parents to acquire a dog to protect their child from schizophrenia. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Can having a dog early in life protect against schizophrenia? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Dogs may indeed turn out to be man’s best friend when it comes to reducing the risk for developing schizophrenia. That’s according to research by Robert Yolken and colleagues at Johns Hopkins.

Yolken: We found when we looked at dogs, much surprising to us was the fact that individuals that remembered having a dog either at birth, or in the first three years of life, had a lower rate of schizophrenia compared to the control group. It was about half of the exposure. We found actually that having a dog slightly later was not associated with very much of a decrease at least not one that we would call statistically significant one that was clearly different in the groups. There was not a protection for bipolar disorder it was just for schizophrenia.  :28

Yolken says looking for environmental factors is critical since twin studies clearly show that they’re important in the development of mental illness, since often one twin will develop such a disorder while the other remains unaffected. Further research may help identify why dog exposure seems beneficial. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Anchor lead: Now that some people have been vaping for years, we’re beginning to see the damage, Elizabeth Tracey reports

People who use electronic cigarettes are still at risk for a host of chronic lung diseases, new evidence concludes. This is especially true for those who use both combustible and electronic nicotine products, the study finds. Panagis Galiatsatos, a lung expert at Johns Hopkins, says he definitely is seeing the impact in his clinic.

Galiatsatos: Our lungs are designed for air. Get in air and breath out the CO2, so anytime you introduce a substance that is foreign to the lungs and especially in an aerosol manner like the vape, you’re going to introduce potential pathologies. So electronic cigarettes cause a little bit of what we call rapid airways – you’re breathing in toxin, you’re going to cough, try to get it out. But then there are actually very extreme diseases. You’re either going to see new asthma development in patients who’ve never had asthma, or their asthma that they’ve had in the background suddenly gets worse. You’re also going to see a whole slew of diseases that are more atypical. :31

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis are also associated. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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If you’ve just had a baby, congratulations! As a new mom, you’re likely noticing some changes to your body and mind.

Gynecologist Shari Lawson at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center says don’t compare yourself to celebrities who seem to regain their pre-pregnancy look overnight—they have help from personal trainers and chefs. Instead, be realistic about working off weight.

As you get back into your eating and exercise routine, keep in mind that breastfeeding burns extra calories. Adding some core exercises, including those all-important Kegels, will help you regain strength and tone.

To keep stress under control, Lawson recommends asking for—and accepting—help from family and friends. Being gentle and patient with yourself will reduce stress and add to the joys of new motherhood.

For more details, check out What Really Helps You Bounce Back After Pregnancy.

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Anchor lead: What will be the impact of federal government action to raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21? Elizabeth Tracey reports

You’ll have to be 21 anywhere in the US to buy tobacco products legally, new federal legislation provides. Panagis Galiatsatos, a lung expert at Johns Hopkins, hopes it helps in our current epidemic of vaping among youth, with 55 deaths and more than 2500 hospitalizations reported recently.

Galiatsatos: The issue of raising the age to 21 is great, it’s a victory. The evidence showcases that one of the main risk factors to drive relapse back to smoking is age that you started smoking. So the younger you are, the more likely you are to relapse. And the reason why that’s the case is the parts of the brain that nicotine influences don’t stop evolving ‘til the age of 25. If you’re introducing nicotine in an abundant manner and in a chemically enhanced manner like a cigarette or an e-cigarette does, that nicotine and that rewiring its doing it’s likely to create that molding of the brain to be permanent.  :30 

Galiatsatos says while he applauds this new law, his own patients who are younger than 21 typically obtain vaping products from friends or simply lie about their age in online purchases, so there’s more work to be done to limit access. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Stretching, flowing, finding your breath and getting centered … yoga is relaxing, but is it really good exercise?

Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry Stewart says that yoga addresses both strength and flexibility, helping you avoid joint pain and cramping. Over time, you’ll also improve your balance. These benefits can support the rest of your exercise program, helping you pursue your aerobic and strength training with less risk of injury.

And yoga offers a special bonus — stress relief — that benefits all-over health.

Johns Hopkins cardiologist Hugh Calkins says that in one study, doing slow-paced yoga sessions twice a week helped ease inflammation, a known culprit for heart disease.

So the next time you’re in tree pose, take a deep, cleansing breath and think of all the good you’re doing for your serenity AND your physical health. For more details, check out The Yoga-Heart Connection.