Medical News Today: Can apple cider vinegar help with eczema?

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Medical News Today: Inverse psoriasis and jock itch: What’s the difference?

Both inverse psoriasis and jock itch can cause a person to have an itchy and uncomfortable groin, buttocks, or inner thigh area.

Inverse psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that affects the skin folds, including the folds around the genitals. Because of the location, people can confuse inverse psoriasis with jock itch or other fungal infections.

There are a number of differences between psoriasis and jock itch that can help people identify the cause of their skin rash.

In this article, we look at the similarities and differences between inverse psoriasis and jock itch, what triggers them, and how to relieve their symptoms.

Psoriasis and jock itch

Underarm or armpit psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis can affect the armpits and groin.
Image credit: DermNet New Zealand

Inverse psoriasis is a form of psoriasis — an autoimmune skin condition — that affects folds in the skin. Inverse psoriasis affects between 3 and 7 percent of all people with psoriasis and can play a role in genital psoriasis.

People with inverse or genital psoriasis develop red, painful areas of skin in the folds of the body, especially areas that experience sweat or skin-on-skin friction, such as:

  • armpits
  • groin
  • under the breasts

People are more likely to develop inverse psoriasis if they are overweight or have another form of psoriasis.

Jock itch, on the other hand, is not caused by an autoimmune disease, but by a fungus known as tinea cruris.

Jock itch causes an itchy, round-shaped rash near the groin area, on the buttocks, and on the inner thighs. Similarly to inverse psoriasis, sweat and friction can contribute to jock itch.

People are more likely to develop jock itch when they sweat a lot, making this a very common problem for athletes. People who are overweight are also at increased risk for developing jock itch.

Differentiating between inverse psoriasis and jock itch is easier when people know the symptoms and triggers of each.


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Symptoms of psoriasis and jock itch

Symptoms of inverse psoriasis and jock itch can be very similar. They can both cause itchy, red skin in the groin area. But some nuances help tell the two conditions apart.

Whereas a rash caused by inverse psoriasis will be smooth and often shiny, one caused by jock itch is typically accompanied by peeling or flaking skin.

Symptoms of inverse psoriasis include:

  • smooth areas of redness in the groin, armpits, or under breasts
  • red areas that may appear shiny
  • tenderness and pain
  • patches of inflamed skin in the skin folds, without flaking

Symptoms of jock itch are similar to those of inverse psoriasis, and include:

  • red skin, primarily in the creases of the groin, which may spread outwards
  • circular or half-moon shaped areas of redness
  • skin flaking or peeling
  • cracked skin
  • itching, burning, or stinging

Triggers

Man cycling outdoors
Heavy sweating and friction from tight clothes can trigger both psoriasis and jock itch.

Different factors trigger inverse psoriasis flares and jock itch outbreaks.

Triggers for an inverse psoriasis flare vary from person-to-person. These triggers are likely to include the following:

  • illnesses and infections, such as strep throat or respiratory infections
  • high levels of stress
  • certain medications, such as lithium, antimalarials, and some blood pressure medications

While science does not prove it, some people with inverse psoriasis suspect allergies and diet may also trigger psoriasis flares.

Unlike inverse psoriasis, a fungus that lives on the skin causes jock itch. Hence, anything that gives the fungus a better environment to multiply may trigger jock itch.

These triggers include:

  • heavy sweating from exercise, sports, or hot weather
  • friction from tight clothing or skin rubbing against skin
  • moist skin or skin that a person has not dried properly
  • sharing clothing, towels, or exercise equipment with others

Inverse psoriasis and jock itch also share some common triggers.

Both conditions are more likely to develop in areas that are sweaty or experience friction. They are also both more common in people who are overweight or obese.

In some cases, weather can trigger a flare of inverse psoriasis or make a person more likely to develop jock itch.


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When to see a doctor

People who know they have either inverse psoriasis or jock itch may not need to see a doctor each time they have a flare of psoriasis or an outbreak of jock itch.

But people should talk to their doctor any time they experience skin changes that they have never had before, when home treatments do not work, or if they suspect an infection.

Treatment and remedies

Shower
Showering after sweating may help prevent and treat jock itch.

Treating both inverse psoriasis and jock itch involves managing delicate skin in sensitive areas of the body.

Gentle treatment options include home remedies and both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications.

Practicing good hygiene can help with both conditions. Take daily showers with warm water and gentle soap. After a shower, make sure to dry the skin thoroughly with a clean towel.

Maintaining a healthy weight can also ease symptoms of both psoriasis and jock itch.

People with inverse psoriasis may benefit from the following home remedies:

  • avoiding and managing stress
  • noting and avoiding any trigger foods or allergens
  • taking baths with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salt, or gentle bath oils
  • moisturizing regularly with a gentle moisturizer
  • staying away from very hot water and soap with irritants
  • getting exposure to sunlight each day

People who experience frequent jock itch outbreaks can try the following home remedies:

  • showering immediately after exercise or sports
  • changing clothing after sweating
  • wearing clean underwear every day
  • keeping the groin, buttocks, and thigh area clean and dry
  • using powder in the groin area to absorb extra moisture
  • treating any other fungal infections on the body, such as athlete’s foot
  • not sharing clothes or sports equipment with others
  • wiping down athletic equipment after use
  • avoiding tight-fighting clothing

In the case of psoriasis, If home remedies do not help, a doctor may recommend the following treatments:

  • steroid creams and ointments used sparingly on uncovered skin
  • other topical medications
  • UVB light therapy
  • biologics

Doctors may recommend OTC antifungal creams, sprays, or powders to treat jock itch. In severe cases, they may prescribe prescription-strength antifungal medication.

People with inverse psoriasis flares can also develop a fungal infection around the groin. Doctors will usually recommend an antifungal medication, as part of the treatment.


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Outlook

Inverse psoriasis is a skin condition that causes a red rash in the skin folds, often around the groin. Doctors may associate it with genital psoriasis. Jock itch causes a similar red rash around the crotch, so that people may confuse the two.

People can manage both inverse psoriasis and jock itch with specific lifestyle changes and treatments.

Discovering the proper treatment for inverse psoriasis can take some trial and error. People should consult with their doctor to find what works for them.

Cases of jock itch are generally mild to moderate and tend to resolve with no medical involvement needed. When necessary, doctors usually treat jock itch with antifungal medications.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323158.php

Medical News Today: Type 2 diabetes: Five genetic ‘clusters’ may explain evolution

Currently, there is one standard therapeutic approach for type 2 diabetes, despite the fact that the condition evolves in different ways in different people. A recent study mapping genetic data for this condition may lead to a more personalized strategy.
five dna strands
Five newly identified ‘soft clusters’ of genetic variants could explain the personal variations in type 2 diabetes.

Teams at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University — as well as other top-tier research institutions in Cambridge, MA — have been working to find a good way of assessing which ranges of factors are most likely to determine the development of type 2 diabetes in a person.

“When treating type 2 diabetes,” reports senior study author Jose Florez, “we have a dozen or so medications we can use, but after you start someone on the standard algorithm, it’s primarily trial and error.”

“We need,” he continues, “a more granular approach that addresses the many different molecular processes leading to high blood sugar.”

The researchers’ recent work led to the identification of five clusters of genetic variants that may influence distinct subtypes of type 2 diabetes. These findings now appear in the journal PLOS Medicine.

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A more accurate genetic ‘map’

In diabetes, our bodies are unable to regulate blood sugar, chiefly due to issues with the secretion or the use of insulin, a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas.

The two most widely recognized subtypes of type 2 diabetes are those driven by insulin resistance (in which the body does not process insulin correctly) and insulin deficiency (in which the pancreas simply does not produce enough insulin).

Research released this spring in The Lancet, however, has argued that there are several subtypes of type 2 diabetes, focusing on the influence of factors such as the body mass index (BMI), insulin resistance, and how well beta cells in the pancreas function.

However, the team behind the new study says that these factors can change throughout a person’s lifetime and as the condition progresses.

They argue that a more reliable way of identifying which relevant factors play a more important role in disease progression for each person is by looking at their genetic makeup.

Thus, they identified five “soft clusters” of genetic variations grouped based on which diabetes-related mechanisms they impact, such as the presence of high triglyceride levels.

Soft clusters are so called because they take into consideration the fact that one genetic variation may, at the same time, impact more than one trait and this, the scientists argue, is a much more workable framework than a “hard cluster” approach, which does not allow for such overlaps.

“The soft-clustering method,” notes study co-author Miriam Udler, “is better for studying complex diseases, in which disease-related genetic sites may regulate not just one gene or process, but several.”

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Development driven by one mechanism

Of the five genetic clusters that the team identified, two are linked with the improper functioning of beta cells, though each of them impacts proinsulin — the precursor of insulin — to a different degree.

The other clusters are all linked to insulin resistance. However, one is obesity-mediated, another is mediated by lipodystrophy (misdistribution of fats throughout the body), and the third is mediated by the malfunctioning metabolism of fats in the liver.

Florez and colleagues verified these findings by analyzing relevant data collected via the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium, a public database accessible to researchers.

The scientists also looked at information collected from four different groups of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, calculating each person’s genetic risk score for each of the five clusters of genetic variations.

Almost a third of all the participants scored highly for just one cluster, which also suggested that, in most people, a single mechanism may facilitate type 2 diabetes.

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“The clusters from our study seem to recapitulate what we observe in clinical practice,” says Florez, adding, “Now we need to determine whether these clusters translate to differences in disease progression, complications, and response to treatment.”

The study authors also claim that theirs provides the most detailed overview of the genetic factors that underlie the development of type 2 diabetes in different individuals.

“This study has given us the most comprehensive view to date of the genetic pathways underlying a common illness, which if not adequately treated can lead to devastating complications,” says Udler.

She also points out that the methods used in the recent study “can help researchers make steps towards precision medicine for other illnesses as well.”

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323159.php

Medical News Today: Alzheimer’s burden will double by 2060, warn CDC

A report newly published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia in the United States will double by the year 2060.
senior person of color
By 2060, the number of African American people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will have reached 2.2 million.

About 5.7 million individuals in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

This neurodegenerative disease is one of the leading causes of disability and the sixth-leading cause of mortality in the U.S.

With annual healthcare costs of more than $250 billion, the disease also puts a significant strain on the nation’s healthcare system.

Additionally, unpaid caregivers spend over 18 billion hours tending to those living with Alzheimer’s.

Age is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, as the population of the United States — along with that of the world — increases, it is important to ask: how many people will develop this form of dementia in the coming decades?

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set out to investigate, and they published their findings in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Researcher Kevin Matthews, who currently works at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta, GA, is the first author of the paper.

He and his colleagues also looked at race and ethnicity, which are two “important demographic risk factors” for Alzheimer’s. This made the study the first one to predict Alzheimer’s prevalence based on race and ethnicity.

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U.S. Alzheimer’s burden will double by 2060

Matthews and his colleagues used population projections obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau to calculate the projected number of seniors with Alzheimer’s in the year 2060.

To calculate the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers accessed data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; specifically, they examined the number of Medicare Fee-for-Service beneficiaries aged 65 and above.

The study revealed that compared with 2014, when the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia was 5 million, in 2060, this number will grow to 13.9 million.

In terms of the population percentage, it represents an increase from 1.6 percent of the entire U.S. population in 2014 to 3.3 percent of the projected U.S. population in 2060.

“[Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias] burden will double to 3.3 percent by 2060 when 13.9 million Americans are projected to have the disease,” write the study authors.

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Also, the authors caution that in 2060, 3.2 million Hispanic people and 2.2 million African American people aged 65 and above will be living with the condition.

African American people have the highest risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias; 13.8 percent of African American people who are aged 65 and over have the condition. Hispanic people fall second, with 12.2 percent, and non-Hispanic white people come third, with 10.3 percent.

American Indian people and Alaska Natives fall fourth in the lineup, with 9.1 percent, and Asian and Pacific Islanders come fifth, with 8.4 percent.

“These estimates,” conclude the authors, “can be used to guide planning and interventions related to caring for the [Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias] population and supporting caregivers.”

Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the CDC, comments on the findings, saying, “Early diagnosis is key to helping people and their families cope with loss of memory, navigate the healthcare system, and plan for their care in the future.”

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This study shows that as the U.S. population increases, the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will rise, especially among minority populations.”

Dr. Robert R. Redfield

The study also draws attention to the well-being and support needs of those caring for people with dementias. An early diagnosis could help people at risk plan for specialized professional care.

Matthews says, “It is important for people who think their daily lives are impacted by memory loss to discuss these concerns with a healthcare provider.”

“An early assessment and diagnosis is key to planning for their healthcare needs, including long-term services and supports, as the disease progresses.”

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Medical News Today: What to know about radiation dermatitis

Radiation dermatitis is one of the side effects of cancer treatment radiotherapy that people experience most often.

Also known as radiodermatitis, it happens when radiation therapy damages the outer layers of a person’s skin.

An estimated 95 percent of people who receive radiation therapy will have some form of radiation dermatitis, including redness, skin dryness, or skin peeling.

This article will explore radiation dermatitis, including what causes it, and how people can ease the symptoms at home.

What is radiation dermatitis?

Radiation dermatitis. Image credit: CDC/ Robert E. Sumpter, 1967
Radiotherapy may cause radiation dermatitis.
Image credit: CDC/ Robert E. Sumpter, 1967

Radiation dermatitis is a common side effect of radiotherapy, which is one of the most frequently used treatments for cancer.

Radiation dermatitis can vary in severity. Some people will experience mild redness and itchiness, while others may suffer painful, broken skin that is prone to infection.

The effects of radiation dermatitis typically arise within a few days or weeks of starting radiotherapy, depending on the dose of radiation, and a person’s skin sensitivity.

The symptoms only appear on the areas of skin that doctors had to expose to the radiation.


Symptoms of radiation dermatitis

Symptoms of radiation dermatitis include:

  • skin redness or pinkness, known as erythema
  • skin swelling, or edema
  • dry, peeling skin, called dry desquamation
  • skin that thins and weakens called moist desquamation
  • blisters or skin ulcers

The severity of radiation dermatitis varies between people and radiation doses in the following grades:

  • Grade 1, faint redness and skin peeling
  • Grade 2, moderate redness and swelling, skin thinning in the skin folds
  • Grade 3, skin thinning more than 1.5 centimeters across, not just on the skin folds, plus severe swelling
  • Grade 4, death of skin cells and deep skin ulcers

Sometimes, these effects can also develop weeks or years after radiotherapy has finished. This is called radiation recall.

In severe cases, the symptoms can restrict movement in the affected limb, which can interfere with day-to-day activities. People may find it difficult to wear clothes on the sensitized areas.


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Causes

Person undergoing radiation therapy wearing mask on face.
Radiation therapy can destroy cancer cells.

Radiation therapy is when doctors use high-energy waves, such as X-rays, or gamma rays, to destroy or damage the cancer cells. These rays make tiny breaks in the DNA inside the cells, stopping it from growing and dividing.

During the treatment, doctors also unavoidably expose normal cells that are near the cancer cells to the radiation. This includes skin cells, and the damage causes radiation dermatitis.

In most cases, the cells will recover and return to normal after the course of radiotherapy has finished.


Risk factors

The likelihood of developing radiation dermatitis during radiotherapy depends on several things. These are called risk factors.

People have a higher chance of skin problems if they are:

  • older
  • malnourished
  • a smoker
  • have overlapping skinfolds
  • have poor skin strength before radiation therapy
  • obese
  • undergoing chemotherapy also
  • have another health condition, such as diabetes or kidney failure

Genetics also play a role, meaning some people are more susceptible to radiation dermatitis than others.

The type of radiotherapy someone has, as well as how and to which part of the body doctors deliver it, can also make a difference.

People are more likely to get radiation dermatitis if their treatment involves the following:

  • high doses of radiotherapy
  • radiotherapy on a large area of the body
  • radiotherapy over a long period of time

Radiation to the head, neck, breast, chest wall, the vulva or near the anus is more likely to cause radiation dermatitis.

Home treatment

Person putting moisturizer lotion on their hands
Gentle lotions and moisturizers may ease the symptoms of radiation dermatitis.

The American Cancer Society offer advice to people suffering from mild skin problems, during cancer treatment.

If the skin is dry, it may be red, rough and flaky, or cracked or bleeding. In this case, the organization recommend:

  • putting mineral or baby oil in bath water or applying it to damp skin after a shower
  • washing with cool or warm water
  • avoiding any scrubbing of the skin while washing
  • using an alcohol-free moisturizer twice a day
  • avoiding colognes or after-shaves that contain alcohol
  • using an electric razor
  • drinking lots of fluids

If the skin is itchy, a number of soothing methods are worth trying. These include:

  • applying calamine lotion or witch hazel
  • bathing in warm water
  • adding baking soda, bath oil, or a mesh bag of oatmeal to bath water
  • using a mild, unscented soap
  • using baking soda instead of deodorant
  • avoiding alcohol-based skin products
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • getting plenty of rest

It is essential for people to resist the urge to scratch itchy skin, as this can lead to sores and scarring. Calm the itch by wrapping a bag of crushed ice in a damp towel, and holding it on the itchy skin.

Other top tips include:

  • keeping nails clean and short to prevent scratching
  • wearing clean fabric gloves
  • gently rubbing the skin instead of scratching so as not to break the surface
  • wearing loose, soft clothing


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Medical treatment

While people can care for mild skin irritations at home, it is important for them to speak to their cancer care team if they experience any of the following:

  • itching that does not go away after 2 or more days
  • very rough, painful skin
  • yellowish skin
  • tea-colored urine
  • open or bleeding skin
  • a rash that gets worse after using creams or ointments
  • blisters, bright red skin, or crusts on the skin
  • signs of infection, such as pus or tenderness near broken skin

If itching is stopping someone from sleeping, their healthcare team may prescribe medications to ease the sensation.

If the skin irritation is accompanied by hives, which are itchy white or red welts on the skin, shortness of breath or swelling of the throat or face, it could be an allergic reaction. This reaction requires emergency medical attention.

Outlook

Radiation dermatitis is a common side effect of radiotherapy, which can damage skin cells as it fights cancer cells. Symptoms include redness, skin peeling, and ulceration. It usually begins to resolve after treatment ends. In some cases, it can appear years after radiotherapy has finished.

People can treat the symptoms of radiation dermatitis at home using soothing skincare routines. Healthcare teams may also provide creams and other treatments.

Source Article from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323155.php

Medical News Today: What are the best sources of omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a healthful and essential type of fat, and they offer many health benefits.

Fatty fish is an excellent dietary source of omega-3. People can also meet the recommended omega-3 intake by eating plant-based foods, including omega-3-rich vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acid, which are called ALA, DHA, and EPA.

Plant sources, such as nuts and seeds, are rich in ALA, while fish, seaweed, and algae can provide DHA and EPA fatty acids. Eating a variety of omega-3 sources is important.

In this article, we list the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including omega-3 supplements.

Fish sources of omega-3

Fatty, oily fish is an excellent source of DHA and EPA, which are two key types of omega-3 fatty acid.

The following types of fish are some of the best sources of these fatty acids. For each fish below, the serving size is 3 ounces (oz):

1. Mackerel

Sources of omega-3 and healthy fats
Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits.

Mackerel is a small, fatty fish that people commonly eat smoked, often for breakfast.

A serving of mackerel contains:

  • 0.59 g of DHA
  • 0.43 g of EPA

Along with omega-3s, mackerel is rich in selenium and vitamin B-12.

2. Salmon

Salmon is one of the most popular and highly nutritious types of fish available. There are several differences between wild and farmed salmon, including some variations in the omega-3 content.

One serving of farmed salmon contains:

  • 1.24 g of DHA
  • 0.59 g of EPA

One serving of wild salmon contains:

  • 1.22 g of DHA
  • 0.35 g of EPA

Salmon also contains high levels of protein, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins.

Learn more about the differences between wild and farmed salmon here.

3. Seabass

Seabass is a popular Japanese fish.

One serving of seabass contains:

  • 0.47 g of DHA
  • 0.18 g of EPA

Seabass also provides protein and selenium.

4. Oysters

Oysters are a favorite shellfish that restaurants tend to serve as an appetizer or snack. Unlike many other seafood sources, oysters contain all three major classes of omega-3s.

One serving of oysters contains:

  • 0.14 g of ALA
  • 0.23 g of DHA
  • 0.30 g of EPA

Oysters are also rich in zinc and vitamin B-12.

5. Sardines

Sardines are a small, oily fish that people can buy in cans and eat as a snack or appetizer.

One serving of canned sardines contains:

  • 0.74 g of DHA
  • 0.45 g of EPA

Sardines are also a good source of selenium and vitamins B-12 and D.

6. Shrimp

People around the world eat shrimp as both an appetizer and a component of many meals.

One serving of shrimp contains:

  • 0.12 g of DHA
  • 0.12 g of EPA

Shrimp is also rich in protein and potassium.

7. Trout

Rainbow trout are among the most popular and healthful types of fish.

One serving of trout contains:

  • 0.44 g of DHA
  • 0.40 g of EPA

In addition to omega-3s, trout is a good source of protein, potassium, and vitamin D.


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Vegetarian and vegan sources of omega-3

8. Seaweed and algae

Nori seaweed in a bowl with seeds on top.
Seaweed is a nutrient-dense food.

Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are different forms of algae that many people eat for their health benefits.

Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.

The DHA and EPA content varies depending on the type of algae and the particular product.

There are many ways to include these foods in the diet. For example:

  • Nori is the seaweed that most people use to wrap around sushi.
  • Seaweed is a tasty, crispy snack.
  • Chlorella and spirulina make a healthful addition to smoothies or oatmeal.

Seaweed is also rich in protein, and it may have antidiabetic, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties.

People can find chlorella and spirulina in health-food stores or online. Shop here for chlorella and spirulina.

9. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They are also high in fiber and protein.

Chia seeds contain 5.055 g of ALA per 1-oz serving.

People can use these seeds as an ingredient in granola, salads, or smoothies, or they can mix them with milk or yogurt to make chia pudding. Mixing chia seeds with water also creates an egg substitute that vegans can use.

Many health-food stores now stock chia seeds, and it is also possible to buy them online.

10. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds contain 2.605 g of ALA in every 3 tablespoons (tbsp).

They are also rich in many nutrients, including:

  • protein
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • zinc

Research suggests that hemp seeds are good for a person’s heart, digestion, and skin.

Hemp seeds are slightly sweet and make an excellent addition to granola, oats, snack bars, salads, and smoothies.

Hemp seeds are available to buy online.

11. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain 6.703 g of ALA per tbsp.

Flaxseeds are one of the most healthful seeds that people can eat. They are rich in many nutrients, including:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • magnesium
  • manganese

These seeds may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.

As with chia seeds, people can mix flaxseeds with water to create a vegan egg replacement. It is also easy to incorporate them into the diet by adding them to oatmeal, cereal, or salad.

Flaxseeds are available to buy online.

12. Walnuts

Walnuts contain 3.346 g of ALA per cup.

These nuts are a great source of healthful fats, including ALA omega-3 fatty acids.

People can enjoy walnuts on their own, in granola, or in a trail mix, snack bar, yogurt, salad, or cooked dish.

13. Edamame

A half-cup of frozen edamame beans contains 0.28 g of ALA.

Edamame beans are immature soybeans that are particularly popular in Japan. They are not only rich in omega-3s but are a great source of plant-based protein.

Boiled or steamed edamame beans work well in a salad or as a side dish.

14. Kidney beans

Kidney beans contain 0.10 g of ALA per half-cup.

Kidney beans are one of the most common beans to include in meals or eat as a side dish. People can add them to curries or stews or eat them with rice.

15. Soybean oil

Soybean oil contains 0.923 g of ALA per tbsp.

Soybeans are popular legumes from Asia. Many people use soybean oil for cooking.

The oil is also a good source of:

  • riboflavin
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • folate
  • vitamin K

People usually serve soybeans as part of a meal or in a salad. Soybean oil works well as a cooking oil and in salad dressings.

Omega-3 supplements

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and fish oil.
Omega-3 supplements can vary in quality.

People who cannot meet their omega-3 dietary requirements and those who experience high levels of inflammation may benefit from taking omega-3 supplements.

There are several types of omega-3 supplement to choose from, including:

  • Fish oil: Fish oil is the most common omega-3 supplement, and it offers the highest available dose. Fish oil supplements include both DHA and EPA.
  • Cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is rich not only in DHA and EPA omega-3s but also in vitamins A and D.
  • Krill oil: Krill oil is another seafood oil that is rich in DHA and EPA.
  • Algae oil: For people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, algae oils are an excellent source of omega-3s. However, they contain a lower dose than most fish oil supplements, so people may need to take more of them. There are also fewer brands, and they may be more expensive. Some brands include only DHA, but a brand with both DHA and EPA will be more beneficial.
  • ALA supplements: Flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seed supplements contain only the plant-based omega-3 ALA, which is not sufficient on its own. The seeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids, which can be inflammatory. This means that these supplements do not contribute to a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the body. Although ALA supplements are not a substitute for fish or algae oil, they can be an excellent additional supplement to include in the diet.

The amount of omega-3 in each of these supplements depends on the type of supplement and the specific brand.

Certain plant-based supplements, such as some algae and ALA supplements, include gelatin and are not suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Always read the label carefully.


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Outlook

Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital component of the diet as they can minimize inflammation and keep the body healthy.

People should bear in mind that the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the body plays a role in preventing inflammation. In addition to increasing their omega-3 intake, people should limit their consumption of foods high in omega-6.

Foods that are typically high in omega-6 fatty acids include processed foods, tofu, nuts, seeds, and meat.

A variety of fish, vegetarian, and vegan sources can help people increase their omega-3 intake, and omega-3 supplements are also available.

It is essential to include all three main types of omega-3 in the diet and to keep the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio in balance. People who wish to avoid seafood sources can meet their requirement using plant-based sources and algae supplements.

Before making dietary changes or using supplements, people should talk to a doctor and a registered dietitian to ensure that they will be meeting all their nutritional and health needs.

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Medical News Today: What to know about ear eczema

Eczema can appear anywhere on the body, including the outside of the ear or inside the ear canal.

People with ear eczema may notice dry, flaky skin in or around their ears. This symptom may develop after contact with specific triggers, such as beauty products or metal jewelry.

Ear eczema may lead to infection and inflammation of the ear canal, called acute otitis externa. Using a range of treatment and prevention methods, people can often reduce ear eczema symptoms and flares.

What is ear eczema?

Ear eczema <br>Image credit: Klaus D. Peter, 2008</br>
Eczema can develop inside or outside the ear.
Image credit: Klaus D. Peter, 2008

Ear eczema is a red, itchy rash that develops on the outside of the ear or inside the ear canal.

Ear eczema can sometimes arise without any triggers, in which case it is called aural eczematoid dermatitis. People who are prone to seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis are more likely than others to have aural eczematoid dermatitis.

Contact with certain irritants can also cause ear eczema. This type of eczema is called contact dermatitis. Soaps, hair dyes, and metal jewelry can all trigger contact dermatitis in and around the ears.

Babies and children commonly get areas of eczema on the face, including the ears. This inflammatory skin condition is not contagious.


Symptoms

Ear eczema causes symptoms that are similar to those of eczema on other parts of the body. People with ear eczema may experience:

  • dry, scaly skin around the ear
  • dry, scaly skin inside the ear canal
  • redness and swelling
  • itchiness in or around the ear canal
  • clear discharge from the ear

The symptoms of ear eczema can also affect the area behind the ear and the crease where the ear attaches to the head.

For most people, the symptoms of eczema will be mild to moderate. However, in some cases, the itching can become intense and lead to the following:

  • red, swollen, or dark skin
  • areas of very dry, sensitive skin
  • scaly patches that may be rough or leathery
  • oozing, bleeding, or crusting areas of inflamed skin
  • infected skin in the ear canal

People should avoid scratching eczema, as this can lead to very inflamed areas of skin that may bleed and make eczema symptoms worse.


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Causes

Doctors and researchers are not sure exactly what causes eczema, but they believe that many factors may play a role.

These factors might include a gene mutation that affects a protein called filaggrin, which develops a protective barrier on the skin. This mutation could leave the skin vulnerable to irritation and infection.

Many people with eczema also have overactive immune systems. When they encounter a trigger, their immune system reacts by causing skin inflammation.

Common triggers for eczema include:

  • soaps, detergents, and baby wipes
  • common allergens
  • some metals, including nickel
  • scented lotions, soaps, and perfumes
  • rough fabrics, such as wool
  • some disinfectants
  • cigarette smoke
  • stress
  • heat
  • infections


Diagnosis

Doctors can often diagnose eczema, including ear eczema, with a routine physical examination. As well as carrying out a visual assessment of the area, they will ask the individual about any symptoms.

In some cases, doctors may order skin tests to help diagnose the specific form of eczema or identify which allergens are triggering the person’s symptoms.

Home remedies

The primary treatment for people with eczema generally involves using home remedies and making lifestyle changes.

Home remedies for ear eczema include the following:

  • washing the ears each night with warm, but not hot, water
  • using fragrance-free moisturizers on the ears immediately after bathing to lock in moisture
  • preventing any triggers, such as jewelry, from coming into contact with the ears
  • wearing a hat that covers the ears in cold weather, as cold temperatures can trigger flares
  • avoiding irritants that have caused eczema flares in the past
  • using over-the-counter (OTC) anti-itch creams that contain hydrocortisone, which reduces itchiness and swelling
  • switching to gentle cleansers and products that are suitable for sensitive skin


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Treatment

eardrops may help otomycosis
A doctor may recommend ear drops for eczema in the ear canal.

For some people with ear eczema, home remedies and lifestyle changes are insufficient to manage the condition.

It may take some trial and error to find an effective treatment for ear eczema. However, a doctor can recommend different treatment options or combinations of treatments.

The treatment for ear eczema may include a combination of the following:

  • ear drops, if the eczema is in the ear canal
  • prescription creams for the skin, such as antifungal creams, steroids, or barrier creams
  • systemic medications that reduce the immune system’s response to triggers
  • biologics, which are medications that target the immune system reaction
  • phototherapy, which uses a machine to shine UVB light onto affected areas of skin

What else could it be?

People may mistake ear eczema for other skin conditions with similar symptoms, including:

  • psoriasis
  • skin allergies
  • fungal infections
  • dandruff

In most cases, a doctor can identify eczema and recommend suitable treatments.


Outlook

Ear eczema is not usually severe. However, the itchiness and dry skin can be frustrating, and these symptoms can get worse if people scratch the affected area. Eczema inside the ear can also make people prone to ear canal infections.

However, with proper treatment, eczema generally clears up with no long-term effects. Most people with ear eczema can successfully manage their condition with the help of a doctor and some home remedies and lifestyle changes.

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Medical News Today: What does your ‘microbiome cloud’ say about you?

Particles, microbes, and chemicals bombard us every second of every day. For the first time, scientists have taken an in-depth look at the swarm of activity that follows us wherever we go.
Man in exposome cloud
Is the exposome the next medical frontier?

We are familiar with the genome (the sum of our genetic material) and microbiome (the totality of microbial guests that reside in us and on us).

The exposome, however, comprises the range of bacteria, chemicals, viruses, plant particles, fungi, and microscopic animals that make contact with us during our daily lives.

Scientists have not studied the exposome in much detail; its inherent complexity and the huge variability among people are just two hurdles currently facing researchers.

Recently, a team from Stanford University School of Medicine in California has made a valiant attempt to make inroads into this murky topic.

Prof. Michael Snyder, Ph.D., led the study. He explains why the exposome is exciting and why it is important, saying, “Human health is influenced by two things: your DNA and the environment.”

“People have measured things like air pollution on a broad scale, but no one has really measured biological and chemical exposures at a personal level.”

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“No one really knows,” he says, “how vast the human exposome is or what kinds of things are in there.”

Aside from the fascinating insights that this type of work could produce, there is a variety of ways that it could enhance our knowledge of certain conditions and their causal factors.

For instance, if people with seasonal allergies monitor their exposome throughout the year, they could pin down exactly what they are allergic to; this could, potentially, help them avoid that particular allergen in the future.

The intriguing findings were published earlier this week in the journal Cell.

Exposing the exposome

To explore this most nebulous phenomenon, scientists monitored 15 participants using a bespoke piece of technology: a modified air-monitoring device. It was strapped to the arm and took in tiny “breaths” from the surrounding air; a sub-micron filter traps anything that is sucked in, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They were followed for around 2 years.

The team returned the devices to the laboratory after use, and experts analyzed their contents, including DNA and RNA testing.

Some people were monitored for 1 week and others were monitored for 1 month. One participant — Prof. Snyder himself — wore the measuring device for the whole 2-year period. Altogether, the volunteers visited 50 separate locations.

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Unraveling the intricate genetic information within the trapped biological matter presented another challenge for the team.

Study co-author Chao Jiang, Ph.D., explains this issue, stating, “Scientists had assembled separate bacteria, viral, or fungi databases, but to fully decode our environmental exposures, we built a pan-domain database to cover more than 40,000 species.”

This vast new database holds information on bacteria, viruses, animals, fungi, plants, and more. It’s fully searchable, allowing the scientists to develop a clear picture of all the organisms that had been caught. They scrutinized the samples in unprecedented depth.

No one has ever done a study this deep before. We ended up with about 70 billion readouts.”

Prof. Michael Snyder, Ph.D.

Surprising differences

The scientists were particularly surprised in the variation that they saw between people who lived in relative proximity.

In one part of the study, four participants who all lived in the San Francisco Bay Area of California were closely monitored for 1 month. Each person lived in a different part of the region: Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Redwood City, or San Francisco.

“It turns out, even at very close distances, we have very different exposure profiles or ‘signatures,'” explains Prof. Snyder.

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“These personal signatures are essentially traces of specific fungi, plants, chemicals, and bacteria that are consistently seen on or around a single person, but that vary between people,” he adds. “Many environmental aspects contribute to this microscopic amalgam — pets, household chemicals, flowers in bloom, and even rain.”

The bottom line is that we all have our own microbiome cloud that we’re schlepping around and spewing out.”

Prof. Michael Snyder, Ph.D.

Everyone’s exposome signature was unique; for instance, the person who resided in San Francisco had relatively high levels of “sludge bacteria” — the type you would find in sewage plants. Prof. Snyder, on the other hand, had consistently high levels of fungi. He thinks he may have an explanation for this anomaly:

“The guy who painted my house,” he explains, “was a really environmentally friendly, green person. And he avoided using paints with a substance called pyridine in it.” Pyridine kills fungi and, as pyridine levels in paint are reduced, fungus levels are likely to increase.

Prof. Snyder wore his device for the entire 2-year period, including during national and international travel, so his samples (as expected) showed the most variety.

However, despite differences between individual people, the team located certain chemicals in most samples. These included DEET (an insect repellent) and several carcinogens.

Although this study only involved a small number of people, it suggests that the exposome can be charted. With the reams of data that this technique makes available, the next challenge will be to harness and make sense of them all.

That will take much more work. Until more results come in, the exposome remains a mysterious beast. However, now that an entry point has been found, more research is sure to follow.

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Medical News Today: Why a regular bedtime may benefit your heart and metabolism

New research — which is now published in the journal Scientific Reports — examines and highlights the importance of regular bedtimes for optimal heart and metabolic health.
clock on bedside table
Going to bed at the same time each night may keep both your heart and metabolism healthy.

The cardiometabolic health risks linked to sleep deprivation are numerous.

These health risks include weight gain, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, however, is also vital for health.

A study from last year reported that “social jet lag” — that is, the difference in sleep and waking times between the weekend and the weekdays — can also raise the risk of heart disease.

Previous studies have also suggested that obesity and diabetes may be on the cards for those who hit the snooze button on weekends.

Now, new research from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, adds to the mounting evidence suggesting that regular bedtimes are key to a person’s heart health and the good functioning of their metabolism.

Jessica Lunsford-Avery, Ph.D. — an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences from the Duke University Medical Center — led the new study.

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Bedtimes and cardiometabolic health

Lunsford-Avery and team examined the sleeping patterns of almost 2,000 adults aged 54–93, who had no history of sleep disorders.

The volunteers all wore sleep tracking devices that picked up on the slightest variations in bedtime patterns. The adults wore the devices for 7 days and kept a sleep diary.

The researchers examined the link between bedtime patterns and markers of cardiometabolic risk, and they calculated a 10-year projected risk of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes markers, such as high blood sugar and hemoglobin A1.

Overall, volunteers with irregular bedtimes had a higher body mass index (BMI), higher levels of blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and higher levels of hemoglobin A1C, and they were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the following decade than individuals with regular sleeping patterns.

Also, the volunteers who went to bed and woke up at varying times had a higher risk of depression and stress than their more disciplined counterparts.

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“[S]leep irregularity may represent a target for early identification and prevention of cardiometabolic disease,” conclude the authors. However, they also point out that their study is observational and cannot say anything about causality.

“From our study,” reports Lunsford-Avery, “we can’t conclude that sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep. Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other.”

“Perhaps there’s something about obesity that disrupts sleep regularity,” she states. “Or, as some research suggests, perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body’s metabolism which can lead to weight gain, and it’s a vicious cycle.”

“With more research,” says Lunsford-Avery, “we hope to understand what’s going on biologically, and perhaps then we could say what’s coming first or which is the chicken and which is the egg.”

Either way, the new findings help establish who is at risk of developing serious cardiometabolic conditions.

Heart disease and diabetes are extremely common in the United States, are extremely costly and also are leading causes of death in this country. To the extent we can predict individuals at risk for these diseases, we may be able to prevent or delay their onset.”

Jessica Lunsford-Avery, Ph.D.

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Medical News Today: Stress-regulating brain area larger in depression, bipolar

The left side of the hypothalamus was revealed to be 5 percent larger in a new study of people with affective disorders such as depression and bipolar.
hypothalamus cross section
New research emphasizes the role of the hypothalamus (depicted here) in depression and bipolar disorder.

Over 16 million adults in the United States have had at least one episode of major depression during the past year.

In fact, depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the U.S.

At least 9 million more people aged 18 and over are living with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The precise underlying causes for both of these conditions remain unknown, but neuroscientists are unraveling more and more aspects that can affect a person’s chances of developing these disorders.

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The neurobiological roots of depression

Functional MRI and other new imaging techniques have allowed researchers to locate several brain areas and networks that are at play in affective disorders. For instance, in the case of depression, studies have found treatment-resistant depression is associated with decreased hippocampal volume and a smaller amygdala.

The hippocampus is a region area heavily involved in memory formation and learning, whereas the amygdala is a small brain structure involved in emotional processing and the response to what is perceived as danger or stress.

In fact, the entire endocrine stress response system, or “HPA-axis,” is disrupted in people who have depression. The axis between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands is overactive, which previous research established as a “core neurobiological feature of major depression.”

Normally, the HPA-axis raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol to ensure that the body is better equipped to handle a situation perceived as dangerous or threatening.

After the threat passes, the HPA-axis is also responsible for lowering cortisol and diminishing other stress responses back to normal levels.

However, in the case of individuals with depression, these structures are in “overdrive” even in the absence of objective danger. New research aimed to clarify the role of the hypothalamus in this hyperactive chain reaction.

A team led by Stephanie Schindler, a doctoral researcher working in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at University Hospital Leipzig in Germany, studied the volume of the hypothalamus in affective disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression.

The findings were published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

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Left hypothalamus 5 percent larger

Schindler and her team examined the brains of 84 people, of whom: 20 had depression but did not take any medication for it, 20 had depression but also took medication, 21 lived with bipolar, and 23 were controls who did not have an affective disorder.

They used MRI to study the participants’ brains and high‐precision volumetry to determine the size of their hypothalami.

Overall, they saw that people with an affective disorder had a 5 percent increase in the volume of the left side of their hypothalamus, on average.

We observed that this brain region [the hypothalamus] is enlarged in people with depression as well as in those with bipolar disorder, two types of affective disorders.”

Stephanie Schindler

Importantly, in the case of people with depression, hypothalamus size correlated directly with the severity of the condition.

Medication did not affect the size of the brain region. The researchers warn that beyond the links they found, not much can be inferred on the causality underlying the findings.

“Higher activity could lead to structural changes and thus to a larger volume of the hypothalamus normally the size of a one-cent coin,” explains study co-author Stefan Geyer.

The authors write, “Supported by emerging evidence that the stress response may be related to structural and functional asymmetry in the brain, our finding suggests a crucial role of the hypothalamus in mood disorders.”

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