If you’re binge watching all 12 episodes of “Homeland,” 13 of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” or 10 of “Mozart in the Jungle,” you’re not alone. About 58 per cent of Americans have binge watched a show. But bingeing isn’t just for couch potatoes in training. Americans are super-bingers of alcohol and food, too.
One in six U.S. adults binge drinks. That’s defined as having four or more drinks if a woman and five or more if a man, within two hours. But when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently examined data on 400,000 adults, they discovered that the average binge drinker does so 53 times annually, downing seven drinks each time!
The toll is profound: Health risks include car crashes, falls, burns and alcohol poisoning; violence, including homicide, suicide and domestic assault; STDs; high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and liver disease; and cancer of the breast, throat, liver and colon.
And binge eating — overeating compulsively, often in secret and when not hungry — is also more common than previously realized. It affects 2.8 million people in the U.S. The health risks are obesity (two-thirds of bingers are obese), as well as arthritis, sleep apnea, some cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes (much the same as binge drinking).
For binge drinking and binge eating, seek counselling and 12-step programs, work with your doctor to improve your health, and learn mindful meditation to ease depression or anxiety. If you’re binge watching TV, get up and move around every 30 minutes, or only binge watch while on a treadmill or exercise bike. Then, you’ll be the star!
IMPROVING OUTCOMES FOR STROKE SURVIVORS
When Tiger Woods tied for fifth place at Bay Hill last month, it showed that his twoyear-long recovery from knee and back surgeries was paying off. Now Tiger fans expect fewer strokes every time he plays.
That same principle of stroke recovery applies to the seven million Americans who are stroke survivors. But far too many aren’t getting back in their game because they’ve missed essential post-stroke recovery steps.
According to the American Heart Association, fewer than one in 100 stroke survivors is following all the recovery guidelines. They include: not smoking, getting regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, plus achieving normal body mass index, blood pressure, glucose levels and total cholesterol. And we’d add two more: Learning how to manage stress and getting post-stroke rehab.
Rehab — done as early as possible — boosts quality of life. It involves putting together a team of doctors, family, caregivers, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists and others. To help figure this out, check out
Search for “Choosing the Right Stroke Rehab Facility.”
BLOCK OUT LIGHT AT NIGHT
Chances are you’ve spent more than one night tossing and turning. Up to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder. But if you’re rapper Eminem and a tour means you’re not in the same time zone for more than a night or two, getting a good night’s sleep is an extra challenge. His solution (odd, but the right impulse) is to put tinfoil on his hotel room windows to make sure not a ray of light gets through.
Studies confirm that darkness is linked to better sleep quality, and to a happier outlook. But in the United States and Europe, 99 per cent of the public can’t experience a natural dark night! So, whether you have insomnia or not, you may want to adopt Eminem’s strategy of light-blocking (but use something more permanent than tinfoil).
For a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers measured the bedroom light of over 800 older Japanese people. Participants kept sleep diaries and were followed for two years. At the end of that time, people who were exposed to more than five lux of light (a 100-watt lightbulb gives off 60 lux) when trying to sleep at night were more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who slept in total darkness.
Why? Light at night might interfere with your body’s internal clock and release of the sleep hormone melatonin, throwing off your brain chemistry.
TURN OVER A NEW LEAF: LEAFY GREENS CAN IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH
Ever wondered why a dish prepared with spinach is said to be “Florentine?” Well, it’s because Catherine de Medici, who was from Florence, was a super fan of this super green. She liked it so much that in 1533, after she had married Henry II and become queen of France, she decreed that every meal in the palace be served with spinach.
In the 1500s, anyone who survived childhood (around 40 per cent did not) might live to be 50 or even 60. But clever Catherine lived to the age of 70 — and you can bet the spinach helped!
Recent research published in Neurology reveals that eating a serving of leafy greens a day is associated with a sharper memory and a slower rate of cognitive decline. The other benefits are equally impressive: Greens like spinach are rich in fibre, which is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. They also help fight certain cancers. In a study that tested eight common vegetables for their anti-cancer properties, a nutrient found in leafy greens was the strongest when it came to inhibiting human cancer cell proliferation. A diet rich in collards, kale and other greens also is associated with a reduced risk for Type 2 diabetes. Plus, those leafy powerhouses are low-cal, but keep you feeling full.
THE AUTHENTIC RISKS OF FAKE POT
ProCon.org says that 1,246,170 people are cardcarrying medical marijuana users. A 2017 Yahoo News/Marist poll found that 52 per cent of Americans over 18 have tried marijuana. Furthermore, 44 per cent of those who tried it once still use it today.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that with the cost of one ounce of legal pot in Colorado going for around $160, synthetic weed costing around $30 an ounce is becoming increasingly popular.
Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what’s in artificial pot (the toxic “get you high” chemicals put on random vegetation change all the time) — and nothing proves that more than the recent rash of medical emergencies in Illinois, including bleeding from the eyes and ears, and deaths that are associated with smoking a batch of the synthetic stuff.
Add to that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that says kids who use synthetic marijuana are far more likely to inflict or become victims of violence, engage in risky sex and have mental-health issues than kids who use just marijuana or neither. And if teens vape the fake weed, they also may have three times more evidence of toxic chemicals like acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide and crotonaldehyde in their system than nonusers.
If adults are going to make marijuana legal, they must take responsibility for educating children about the health risks associated with synthetic (and real) pot and vaping.