Trying to Lose Weight? Ditch the Diet Soda

October 20th, 2021

Glass of soda with ice and a strawDiet drinks containing artificial sweetener sucralose may increase food cravings and appetite in women and people who are obese, according to a new study.

Diet Soda Study

In the study, 74 people were asked to drink 300 milliliters of fluid-beverages sweetened with table sugar, sucralose or water, which served as a control. The participants did so at three different sessions.

In the two hours that followed, MRIs checked how brain regions involved in appetite and food cravings reacted when participants were shown pictures of food. There was increased brain activity in those brain areas after women and people who were obese had drinks containing sucralose, compared with drinks containing real sugar.

Furthermore, a blood test showed levels of hormones that tell the body, “I feel full” fell after sucralose-containing drinks, suggesting that artificially sweetened drinks may not be effective in suppressing hunger.

In addition, women, but not men, who drank sucralose-containing drinks ate more at the snack buffet, the study showed.

The study found males and people with healthy eating habits did not have an increase in either brain reward activity or hunger response, which suggests they are not affected in the same way.

One hypothesis is that it’s not the artificial sweetener itself that has a direct effect on the body. The idea is that artificial sweetening may confuse the body by tricking it into thinking sugar is coming. Since the sugar never comes, it may blunt the body’s anticipatory response and remove the ability to efficiently metabolize sugar that’s consumed later. 

The findings were published in the journal “JAMA Network Open.”  

Quitting Soda

Ready to remove soda from your diet? Take small steps to quitting soda:

  1. Start small: Quitting cold turkey is not as successful as gradual progress. Set small incremental goals that are challenging yet reachable.
  2. Sparkling water: If it is the carbonation you crave, swap out soda for sparking water instead.
  3. Add flavor to your water: Perhaps sipping plain water doesn’t sound appealing. Fortunately, there are many flavor options. 
  4. Switch to green tea: If you rely on daily sodas for caffeine, quitting can be difficult and lead to headaches and tiredness. Try green tea which is packed with antioxidants and has up to 28mg of caffeine.
  5. Avoid triggers: Breaking any habit can be difficult. Be mindful of when and where you tend to drink soda.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of American adults drink one sugary soda a day.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows everyone loves the sweet fizz of a bottle of soda, but maybe it is time to think about cutting back. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Increasing Space Between Letters Could Help Dyslexic Children

October 13th, 2021

Group of children sitting and reading Increasing the amount of space between printed letters could help make reading easier for dyslexic children, according to a new study.

New Dyslexia Study

The new study tested the effects of “extra large” letter spacing on school children’s reading speed and accuracy.

The study included 32 children with dyslexia and 27 without, matched for age and IQ scores. The researchers had the children read aloud four short texts, with or without extra letter spacing. Kids without dyslexia read five percent faster; on average the improvement was bigger among children with dyslexia at 13 percent.

Children with dyslexia also tended to skip fewer words when reading from roomier texts. There was no effect on other reading errors, like saying the wrong word or mispronunciations.

The study was published in the journal “Research in Developmental Disabilities.”

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words.

Signs of dyslexia can be difficult to recognize before a child starts school, but some early clues may indicate a problem:

  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games
  • Late talking
  • Learning new words slowly
  • Problems forming words correctly
  • Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors

Once a child reaches school age the teacher may be the first to notice a problem. Severity varies, but the condition often becomes apparent as a child starts learning to read:

  • Avoiding activities that involve reading
  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions
  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things
  • Reading well below the expected level for age
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing

Dyslexia affects 18 to 20 percent of Americans, according to the International Dyslexia Association.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be kept up to date on the world of health.  Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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WHO Announces Global Strategy to Eliminate Meningitis

October 7th, 2021

Apple sitting next to small weightsThe World Health Organization (WHO) announced its first-ever global strategy to eliminate meningitis.

Ending Meningitis

The WHO’s plan aims to cut cases in half and reduce deaths by 70 percent by the end of the decade.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis causes about 250,000 deaths each year and can lead to fast spreading epidemics.

The WHO said the strategy could save 200,000 lives per year and greatly reduce disabilities caused by the bacterial form of the disease.

The WHO says the disease kills one out of every 10 people who get bacterial meningitis, mostly children and young people, and leaves about 20 percent with a lasting disability like seizures and vision loss. 

Signs and Symptoms

Early meningitis symptoms may mimic the flu. Symptoms may develop over several hours or over a few days. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Headache with nausea or vomiting
  • No appetite or thirst
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Severe headache that seems different from normal
  • Skin rash
  • Sleepiness or difficulty waking
  • Stiff neck
  • Sudden high fever

Bacterial meningitis happens when bacteria enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain and spinal cord.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the world of health. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Not Making 10,000 Steps? 7,000 Works Too

September 29th, 2021

Heart wearing stethascopeWhile 10,000 steps a day is great, 7,000 daily steps may go a long way, according to a new study.

Keep on Moving

A new study finds that middle age people, who walked at least 7,000 steps a day on average, were 50 to 70 percent less likely to die of any cause over the next decade. This is compared to those who took fewer steps.

The study involved 2,110 adults ages 38 to 50 who in 2005 and 2006 wore a device called an accelerometer for about a week to track their steps. During the follow up period, which averaged almost 11 years, 72 of the participants died, most commonly from cancer or heart disease.

In analyzing the data, the researchers controlled for body mass index, smoking and other factors that could have affected the findings.

Results showed that people appeared to gain more health benefits the more steps they took, with greatest statistical reduction in mortality risk between 7,000 and 10,000 steps. After that, the benefits leveled off.

Quicker steps were not necessarily better, the study showed. Step intensity, or the number of steps per minute, didn’t influence the risk of dying.

For the average adult, taking 2,000 steps equals about one mile, depending on one’s stride.

Estimates show that people get as many as 5,000 steps a day just going about regular activities of daily living.

The study was published in the journal, “JAMA Network Open.”

Take a Walk

A regular brisk walk can help you:

  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Improve muscle endurance
  • Improve your balance and coordination
  • Improve your mood, cognition, memory, and sleep
  • Increase energy levels 
  • Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
  • Prevent or manage various conditions
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Strengthen immune system
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles

The faster, more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to get moving! Get yourself in the habit of taking a walk every day. IAA knows your body will thank you. 

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Drones may Provide Help During Cardiac Arrest

September 15th, 2021

DroneA study done in Sweden found that drone delivery was a feasible way to get automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to the scene of a cardiac arrest. In fact, the drone beat the ambulance by a few minutes. Since mere minutes can mean the difference between life and death, the early findings are encouraging, researchers said.

Drones Delivering AEDs

AEDs are portable versions of defibrillators doctors use to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. The devices automatically analyze a person’s heart rhythm to gauge whether a cardiac arrest is in progress. AEDs are available in public places, but most cardiac events happen at home, which causes a problem if an ambulance cannot arrive quickly.  

In a pilot study, three AED-equipped drones integrated into a regional medical system covering about 80,000 people. When a suspected cardiac arrest was reported to emergency services, both an ambulance and if possible, a drone was dispatched.

Over three months, 53 possible cardiac arrests were called in. A drone was dispatched to 12. In the cases where the drones couldn’t be sent, it was because of the weather or darkness or because the emergency struck in a “no-fly zone.”

When a drone could be sent, the study found it beat the ambulance 64 percent of the time, typically by two minutes.

The findings were published in the “European Heart Journal” and presented virtually at the European Society of Cardiologists annual meeting.

Much still has to be done, as the study still leaves open the issue of what happens after the AED arrives. Bystanders would need to be willing and able to use the device.

Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. The condition usually results from a problem with your heart’s electrical system, which disrupts your heart’s pumping action and stops blood flow to your body.

Sometimes other signs and symptoms occur before cardiac arrest. These might include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Fast breathing, fluttering or pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

But sudden cardiac arrest almost often occurs with no warning.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Keep up to date with IAA!

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