Gwyneth Paltrow was outed for drinking a Guinness while pregnant, but a brand-new study claims she may not have done anything risky. It seems British docs think two glasses of wine a week or the equivalent doesn’t add up to developmental problems in kids.
We think they’re off base. A fetus’ alcohol tolerance level is unknowable. And we don’t know what environmental stressors may switch on genes that pass along vulnerability to alcoholism or learning disabilities. The responsible thing is to say “no” to anything that might cause problems for your baby.
Stress can follow you around when you’re pregnant: Your body is going through dramatic changes, and your emotional life may be, too. So, if you need to unwind, try these alternative stress-relievers.
1. Make sleep a priority, and try a pregnancy pillow to help you find a comfortable position.
2. Don’t overeat; you need only 100-300 extra calories a day. Putting on excess weight strains your body even more.
3. Eat nutritious foods (nothing with added sugars and sugar syrups, and no red meats); rely on veggies, fruits and lean protein, and take prenatal vitamins (from three months before conception until you’re done breastfeeding).
4. Don’t stop exercising. Make it appropriate to your health and stage of pregnancy. Walking is always good (at least 30 minutes daily).
5. Gather friends and family around for support. Lean in, and you’ll be able to find the strength to resist that drink for a few more months.
Nixing noise pollution
If you live in a noise-filled environment (a big city or near an airport or construction), high decibel levels can increase stress and blood pressure, and compromise sleep and heart health. And for people who are sound-sensitive (those losing their hearing, ironically, or those who are hyperreactive), environmental noise pollution also causes anxiety, anger, even violence and social withdrawal.
U.S. Census Bureau surveys reveal that noise is people’s No. 1 complaint about their neighborhood and the major reason they want to move. We hope city governments come to realize that keeping sirens, jackhammers and traffic noise around 70 to 85 decibels is a quality-of-life issue. But until they do, we’ve got surprising ways you can protect your ears, health and sanity.• Use sound-blocking headsets and foam earplugs with a noise-reduction rating (NRR) of 33. They block out about 15 decibels. That means the jackhammer across the street emitting 100 decibels will tone down to a bearable 85. Not quiet, but far less destructive.
• Try taking lipoic acid (some studies indicate a dose of 600 milligrams), and ask your doc if you can take two baby aspirin (drink a half-glass of warm water before and after) and vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. They reduce inflammation, protect auditory and other nerves, and reduce damage from stress hormones.
• Fit in some active de-stressing. To deal with noise-induced stress, meditate in the morning for five to 10 minutes, and during the day make time for aerobics (we like walking 10,000 steps daily) and strength training.
Passing the smell test
When you smile at the scent of roses or recoil at the stench of rotting food, you can thank your 6 million “smell cells.” But some folks, because of illness, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, neurological problems, medications, a zinc deficiency, thyroid disease or for no known reason at all, lose their ability to smell. That’s called anosmia.
However, people with no smellers can detect some scents, such as menthol. It registers on pain and temperature sensors, not smell receptors. And non-smellers often can taste salty, bitter, sweet and sour flavors, but those like raspberry that require taste and smell to register don’t make any impression. Sometimes anosmic folks register spices like pepper as sensations in the facial nerves, so they’re felt rather than smelled.
If you can’t tell whether a carton of milk passes the smell test, we suggest you get temporary smell-blockers such as polyps or sinus congestion cleared out and get tested for serious triggers, such as Parkinson’s. Next step? Try our duo of scentsible tips.
• Fight inflammation (research highlights pro-inflammatory cytokines in nasal mucus as possible triggers of anosmia) by avoiding the five food felons: any grain that’s not 100 percent whole, all added sugars and sugar syrups, and most saturated fats and all trans fats.
While it’s true that youngsters do forget names, math facts and when Dad said to be home, many folks 50 and older notice that their recall (what year did we go to California?) isn’t what it used to be.
When you have such a senior moment, it’s just a stutter in what’s called episodic memory, and rarely is it long-lasting. But if you’re concerned about your recall, talk to your doc about stress, sleep problems, depression, thyroid disease, diabetes, vitamin B-12 deficiency, excess alcohol use, infections and your medications. They’re all possible memory-busters. And try our unforgettable, brain-boosting tips:
1. Walk fast for at least 30 minutes daily, heading for 10,000 steps a day. Any exercise, but especially aerobics that make you sweat, is the very best memory enhancer.
2. Cut body-wide inflammation with omega-3 DHA from salmon or ocean trout; and take 900 mg of DHA from algal oil daily. Add in more omega-3s: walnuts, canola and extra-virgin olive oil.
3. Try the spice turmeric to reduce triglyceride levels, increase fat burning and keep blood sugar steady. Dr. Mike carries packets of yellow mustard, full of turmeric, to add to snacks and meals.
4. Take two baby aspirins daily (if your doc approves) with a half-glass of water before and after.
5. Get romantic. The neurotransmitter dopamine helps control information flow and memory.
Cool down those cyber-rants
Blogs, chat rooms and social media have made cyber-rants a fixture in millions of folks’ daily lives. And whether you post an online opinion piece or simply read others’ invectives, research shows it doesn’t dispel anger, it amps it up.
So, if sharing upset with an online community doesn’t ease frustration, what will? Good self-care and opening up your heart to others.• Maintain the right diet. Banish the five food felons (most saturated and trans fats, any grain that’s not 100 percent whole, and all added sugars and sugar syrups). Inflammation from eating red meat and sugary, fatty, processed foods contributes to physical and emotional stress. Replace with omega-3-rich fish, like salmon; and lots of veggies and fruit.
• Increase physical activity. Start walking 30 minutes daily; aim for 10,000 steps a day.
• Reduce stress. Ten minutes of meditation daily lowers blood pressure and relaxes muscles.
• Pursue interests. Make time for hobbies; break the cycle of work, TV, sleep, work, TV sleep … you’ll delight and surprise yourself.
• Practice generosity; pitch in on a community project; offer a co-worker support; take time to listen to a family member. Look at the world from another’s point of view. You’ll be amazed at how frustration disappears.