Do you really need all that protein, and are the powders and supplements safe?

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry trade group, estimates that 11% of adults took protein supplements in 2016. Americans spent $4.7 billion on protein supplements 2 years ago. That amount is expected to rise to nearly $8 billion by 2020, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Doctors and nutritionists warn that the products are unregulated. The FDA doesn’t approve protein supplements or test them like conventional medications. Because of that, you can’t always be sure what’s in them.

Wayne Campbell, PhD, a nutrition scientist and professor at Purdue University in Indiana who studies protein in the human diet, says there’s likely no reason to worry about the protein itself in the supplements on store shelves.

“I’d be more concerned about the non-protein components of a supplement,” he says. “There may be ingredients in some designer, proprietary supplements that we don’t know what the effects are or what we’re consuming.”

What Else Is In Protein Powder?

There are other concerns, too.  In 2010, Consumer Reports tested 15 protein drinks for heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Three of them had potentially harmful amounts of contaminants, based on federal safety guidelines.

That same year, ConsumerLab, which independently tests supplements, said nearly a third of 24 protein supplements they tested for quality assurance failed. Two of them had a potentially risky amount of lead. Others had more cholesterol or sodium than was listed on the label.


Other, Safer Ways To Get Protein

A better focus for concern may be the amount of protein you eat rather than where it comes from, says kidney specialist Anjay Rastogi, MD, PhD, clinical chief of nephrology at UCLA.

Ideally, you should get 10% to 35% of your calories from protein, and most people should eat between 50 to 60 grams of protein per day, Rastogi says. (You’ll get an entire day’s supply from 6 ounces of skinless chicken.) When you get more protein than you need, whether from food or supplements, your kidneys have to work much harder to process all of it. Rastogi says that could cause harm over the long term, though he says that conclusive research has not confirmed this.

“But,” Rastogi says, “there’s always the potential for damage.”

People with kidney disease or those at risk of developing kidney trouble, which includes people with diabetes, need to be extra careful.

“For many kidney patients, a high-protein diet will cause numerous problems, like harmful buildups of urea, phosphorus, and acids,” Rastogi says.

Supplements Can Add Value

Athletes often boost their protein — via diet, supplements, or a combination — to help with muscle recovery after a workout, and research backs up its effectiveness. In 2009, the International Society of Sports Nutrition said athletes benefit from eating more protein. Protein supplements, the society stated, provide a “practical way of ensuring adequate and quality protein intake for athletes.”

But even if extra protein will help athletes’ performance, says Campbell, overdoing it may be a waste of money.

“If you get about 30 grams of protein per meal,” he says, “then you’ve given your body all the protein that it can absorb, digest, and handle to stimulate the maximum amount” of muscle growth.

Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Washington, DC, recommends that everyone try to get their protein from food. But she recognizes the value of protein supplements for some people.

“I work with a lot of older adults, who may not get enough protein because they’re eating less food or have difficulty chewing or swallowing,” says Maples, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “A protein powder or dry milk may be a good choice for them.”

Kids and Protein Supplements

Atlanta-based pediatrician and nutrition expert Jennifer Shu, MD, says some teens, boys in particular, use protein supplements to help them bulk up. She tries to steer them and their parents away from such products.

“I explain to them that they’re unregulated, that too much protein maybe dangerous to the kidneys, and they get it,” says Shu, who points out that too much protein also can lead to dehydration. “That said, it takes a lot of supplements to go overboard, and most kids are not that consistent with taking anything. In general, I don’t see it as a major problem, but it’s something to be aware about.”

If parents do want to consider a protein supplement for their child, Shu says, they should first get guidance from a pediatrician or a registered dietitian.

Maples agrees: “In general, they’re not for use in kids and teenagers. If there’s a time when a protein supplement would be appropriate, that decision should come from a doctor.”

Buying A Supplement: Best Practices

Protein comes from many sources, and so do protein supplements. One in particular stands out, Maples says.

“Whey, a byproduct of cheese making, is really popular and a great choice,” she says. “It’s easily digested and used by the body.”

Other types of animal-based protein supplements are egg and casein. Unlike animal proteins, most plant-based proteins, which include soy, rice, and pea, lack at least one of the nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

If you buy a plant-based protein supplement, Campbell recommends that you be sure the label says that it contains all essential amino acids, likely a blend of multiple sources of protein. In general, the type of protein does not make much difference.

“It’s the quantity of protein rather than the source of protein that will have major effects on your metabolism, whether it’s for weight loss, appetite control, or recovery from exercise,” Campbell says. read more…


Five ways to cope with migraine


Migraines are not just your average headaches. They can be debilitating, come unexpectedly, and be accompanied by a varied range of upsetting effects, such as extreme nausea, cognitive impairment, and eyesight disturbances. We have investigated the best ways of dealing with them.

According to recent reports, migraine is the seventh leading cause of “years spent with disability” worldwide.

Migraines are severe headache attacks that can last for between 4 and 72 hours. They are often accompanied by severe nausea and vomiting, acute sensitivity to light and sounds, and, in some cases, by temporary cognitive impairment and allodynia, which is when normal touch is felt as painful.

Individuals can start experiencing migraines from childhood, and their prevalence increases well into adulthood, until age 35 to 39. Migraines are up to three times more common in women than they are in men, and the attacks also last longer in women.

Multiple studies link chronic migraine with a decreased quality of life and disrupted activity levels. What, then, are the options of prevention and treatment available to people who face migraines? Here is a list of the five most cited approaches. read more…


Animal advocacy groups press on to save pets affected by #Harvey


People who work with pets and animals might soon notice a boom in the number of little creatures named Harvey.

At least two animal advocacy organizations are telling stories of animals saved in the wake of the former hurricane who rescuers named after the storm that battered Texas.

Those two animals – a baby sheep and a hawk – are among thousands of animals needing help after Harvey, which has left a death toll in the double digits. An army of organizations and workers are finding that the efforts to rescue and transport dogs, cats and other creatures is nearly as intense as that to help humans affected by Harvey.

 “We are actually ramping things up,” Katie Jarl, Texas state director of the Humane Society of the United States, told USA TODAY Friday.

“When you have a population of that many thousands upon thousands of people who have lost homes and people are using the news to just find their family members – can you imagine if it’s that difficult to find your mom and dad how difficult it is to find your cat?” Jarl said.

The rescue effort for thousands of pets affected by the storm will take years, said Jarl, adding that her long days and nights getting animals flown to other parts of the country, returned to owners, treated by veterinarians and rescued from danger have been “powered by coffee.”

Jarl’s organization is one of many that have coalesced to make sure people’s furry companions get to safety and health after the storm that pounded Texas. Every organization and private company that deals with animals seems to be involved: the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Best Friends Animal Society,, Wings of Rescue, PetSmart and many more.

The furry — and not so furry creatures — are often rattled by what has happened and sopping wet when they arrive to safety. Some have gotten sick while waiting for help. Some are found clinging to furniture, while others have been saved from drowning.

The efforts are massive:

— Best Friends Animal Society has taken over the 15-acre Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe, Texas, and made it into Rescue and Reunite Center where animals are being reunited with owners or triaged.

— People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, was in hard-hit Port Arthur rescuing stranded animals by boat in scenes reminiscent of Noah’s Ark.

— On Thursday, a team representing the Humane Society went to hard-hit Rockport, Texas. The workers are sleeping in the local jailhouse because it is the only place still standing with enough beds for them and they are people who have lost everything, Jarl said.

At the Montgomery County Fairgrounds site, 30 employees with Best Friends Animal Society from all over the country were handling veterinary care, animal transportation and other duties, Eric Rayvid, director of public relations and content marketing for Best Friends, told USA TODAY.

“We’re bringing all animals rescued from the flood waters here and letting people know they can come here to find their pets,” said Rayvid, the sounds of barking at the fairgrounds site in the background.

Organizations and companies have donated money, goods and services too, animal advocates said. Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper Real Estate in San Antonio is inviting the public to a pet adoption event planned in conjunction with shelters.

The American Kennel Club Humane Fund has donated $10,000 and a trailer to help with the pet rescue to the city of Houston. paid for about 120 dogs and cats from a shelter in Louisiana to be flown by the humanitarian animal organization Wings of Rescue to Manassas, Va., on Saturday so they would have a safe place to live until they can be reunited with their families.

PetSmart Charities is giving upwards of $1 million in emergency aid and several truckloads  of pet food and supplies to help the animal advocacy groups working on the ground.

The animals that are the recipients of all this help are not always dogs and cats.  read more…

Why We Love Walking Our Dog

It’s good exercise, sure, but the main motivation for grabbing that leash and heading outdoors has to do with your emotions.

Owning a dog and going on regular dog walks both have proven health benefits. But a new study suggests that no matter how many times you hear that pounding the pavement with your pup is good exercise, that’s ultimately not what gets you (and your four-legged friend) up and moving.

According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, dog owners are motivated to walk their pets because it makes them happy—not for health or social reasons. Also up there on the list of reasons? They think it makes their dogs happy, too.

The study analyzed interviews and personal written reflections from 26 people about why, exactly, they walk their dogs. While many owners said they do it to benefit their pooch, the researchers say the importance of the owners’ happiness and well-being was also clear.

But that happiness depends on the owner believing that the dog is enjoying the walk, the researchers noted in their paper. Motivation to walk was decreased when owners had reason to doubt this notion—like when they felt their dog was misbehaving, “lazy,” or “too old” to walk regularly.

The study mainly suggests that dog owners keep doing what they’re doing, since they can still rack up the health benefits of dog-walking even if that’s not the primary goal.

But it does make the case that health advocates might want to tweak their message when promoting dog-walking in order to appeal to more people. (Dog owners are generally more physically active than non-owners, the authors say, but some rarely walk their dogs at all.)

Lead author Carri Westgarth, PhD, a research fellow at the University of Liverpool, says she hopes these findings resonate with dog owners and animal lovers. “Dog walking can be really important for our mental health, and there is no joy like seeing your dog having a good time,” she says. “In this age of information and work overload, let’s thank our dogs for—in the main—being such a positive influence on our well-being.”

She suggests dog walking might be even more beneficial for owners if they were to “leave the mobile and worries at home and try to focus on observing our dog and appreciating our surroundings.” Westgarth also recommends trying new or longer walking routes—or finding new ways to be active with your dog, like playing fetch or hide-and-seek with treats—when you’re feeling particularly stressed.

Taking on a dog is a big responsibility, but volunteering to walk someone else’s dog (or a shelter dog) can also be beneficial for people who don’t have the time or motivation to keep a furry companion. “In particular, older people can really benefit from the company of a dog and motivation to go for a short walk,” says Westgarth.

Westgarth also says she did a lot of self-analysis as part of her research, and she learned that it’s important for dog owners to be critical of themselves. “Ask yourself: Does your dog really ‘look tired’ that day or are you making excuses for yourself?” she says. “Just because your dog is small, would it really not be able to cope with an hour’s walk?” read more…

Peanut allergy immunotherapy may allow consumption of peanuts


Food allergies are very common in humans across the world. There has been a substantial increase in food allergies recently and healthcare experts are trying to figure out ways to prevent such allergic reactions in humans. One of the greatest allergy-causing foods is peanut. Many people react adversely when they consume peanut or peanut-related food items.

A new immunotherapy developed by a team of researchers from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Australia show that the therapy may be quite effective against peanut allergies. The experts have claimed that the effects of the therapy last for over four years. This means that people with the allergy can consume peanuts without showing any adverse effects even after four years of having undergone the treatment.

What is the research about?

The study involved a group of children, all of whom were allergic to peanuts. The researchers provided the immunotherapy to these children, which mainly included a dose of probiotics along with small portions of peanuts. These small doses of peanuts gradually trained the body to forego the #Allergic Reactions.

Allergic reactions to peanuts are caused because of the body’s inability to register peanut as food and instead attack it as a foreign object. This leads to increased white blood cells activity and inflammation around the throat and mouth. Severe cases may cause the throat to swell up so much, that air to the lungs is cut off and may lead to asphyxiation.

In this new immunotherapy treatment, doctors slowly conditioned the children’s bodies to not register peanuts as a foreign body.

The probiotics were used to ensure that the stomach can digest the peanuts without triggering an immune response. Methods such as these have also been posited before, which scientists believe could make peanut allergies non-existent or less severe in case of anaphylactic shock.

What did the results reveal?

The research showed that those kids who received the immunotherapy treatment for 18 months revealed noticeable changes when it came to peanut allergies. 82 percent of the children receiving the treatment showed reduced signs of the allergies. However, what is even more surprising is the fact that 67 percent of the kids who got the therapy revealed to be eating peanuts without any perceivable problems after four years of the treatment, compared to just 4 percent of the children who did not get the treatment. read more…


A contagious #cat #virus is spreading among animal shelters


A contagious and sometimes fatal virus that infects cats has spread sporadically through North Carolina animal shelters this summer.

Feline panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper, causes diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and in some cases death, in cats.

“It’s sort of like the flu in people,” said Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the Animal Welfare Section at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “Some years it’s bad and, some years it’s not so bad.”

The disease prompted the Cabarrus County Animal Shelter to announce Wednesday that it wouldn’t be accepting or adopting out cats through Friday, following an outbreak at the shelter. A representative from the shelter couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

In addition to Cabarrus County, feline distemper has affected shelters in Wake and Lincoln counties, among others, Norris said.

The state issued a statement in June that feline distemper had been appearing in more shelters than normal across the state this summer.

Norris said she isn’t sure what has caused the virus to be more widespread recently, but complimented the response of local shelters in containing the virus.

“This is not a disease because a particular shelter is dirty or is not keeping up with its sanitation,” Norris said. “This is a disease that is found out in the community cats.”

The disease is more commonplace in shelters than in vets’ offices, which rarely encounter the virus, she said. Shelters often deal with stray cats that haven’t had vaccinations, as well as younger and more stressed cats that are more susceptible to the disease, she said.

The state doesn’t have numbers on how many cats have been infected or died from feline distemper this summer, but Norris offered ways to help prevent the spread of the virus.

She urges pet owners to make sure their cats are up to date on vaccinations. Read more 

Shop your cat supplies here.

Keep your #Liver #Healthy, avoid these Damaging Habits

Drinking alcohol isn’t the only bad habit that can destroy your liver. Certain kinds of drugs and supplements, junk food, and even risky sexual behaviors can result in a handful of illnesses and diseases. You may not even realize you’re self-sabotaging one of your body’s most important organs. To keep your liver healthy, try not to engage in the following destructive practices.

1. Taking too many dietary supplements

A woman drinks pills with a glass of water.

Dietary supplements aren’t hard to obtain — and if you aren’t careful, your excessive intake could become problematic. Drug induced liver injury from weight loss and bodybuilding supplements isn’t all that uncommon, says Consumer Reports. Unfortunately, many of these supplements include ingredients not listed on product labels, so it’s challenging to identify the ingredients that could be responsible. Follow the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine’s guidelines to use supplements safely.

2. Not drinking enough water

young woman drinking water.

Your liver is your body’s waste processing organ. It’s one of two major team players in detoxification, or the process of ridding your body of harmful waste. According to, water is an essential part of your body’s detoxification process. It flushes toxins out of your liver for disposal, and helps your kidneys filter these toxins properly. Dehydration can interfere with this process, and lead to liver damage. Most people need anywhere from 64 to 100 ounces of water daily, Mayo Clinic says.

3. Not practicing safe sex

A woman holds a condom behind a bright yellow background.

Practicing safe sex protects you from a number of STDs. It also guards you against certain types of cancer, like the type that can develop in your liver. According to the American Cancer Society, unprotected sex can transmit hepatitis B and C viruses from person to person. These chronic viral infections can lead to liver cells being replaced with scar tissue, eventually causing a disease called cirrhosis. People living with cirrhosis have an increased chance of developing liver cancer and dying.

4. Depending on over-the-counter painkillers

bottle of ibuprofen pills on a white background

Whether you seek over-the-counter relief for your pain or have a prescription, taking too much of certain medications — or too many medications at once, too frequently — can cause significant damage to your liver. Acetaminophen — you might recognize it as Tylenol — has been known to cause liver damage in large doses, says Forbes. Never take a larger dose of a medication than instructed, and make sure you aren’t taking multiple acetaminophen-containing drugs at once.

5. Following a junk food diet

Pile of potato chips.

Consuming high amounts of sugar doesn’t just give you diabetes. According to Harvard Health Publications, diets high in sugar can also lead to the buildup of excess fat in your liver, called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Overloading your body with refined sugars also raises LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease. You don’t have to shun processed foods completely from your diet, but try limiting your intake — for your liver’s sake, if nothing else.

6. Not getting enough sleep

Young beautiful Caucasian woman on bed having headache

Sleep deprivation could prove more damaging than you thought. People with sleep apnea, for example, experience fatty liver disease at higher rates than people without the disease, Anahad O’Connor writes in The New York Times. The exact reason why this happens isn’t clear. However, not getting enough sleep can still damage your liver in other ways, like prompting you to eat more unhealthy food. Try to regularly get at least six or seven hours of sleep to keep all your organs functioning properly.

7. Smoking cigarettes

A cigarette in a hand.

Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs. According to some research, smoking can negatively impact your liver function in a similar way to long-term alcohol use. Inhaling cigarette smoke causes oxidative stress, which can lead to significant liver damage over time as the cells begin to break down. read more…