Health News Roundup for March 1-6

(Note: This feature will typically be posted on Saturday mornings; however, this week I got a little behind due to my son's birthday. His Minecraft cake took a lot longer to make than I expected. :) But there was some interesting health news and topics that I came across last week so I decided to go ahead with this posting even though it is late.)

Sleep

"Think twice the next time you don't get as much sleep as you need: A new study suggests that missing just 30 minutes of shuteye during weeknights could boost your weight and disrupt your metabolism."(Read more from healthfinder.gov.)

"Sleeping keeps humans alert and ready for the 9-to-5. Whether that rest fuels them for work, school, or parenting, it is essential to daily function, performance, and even appearance. During Sleep Awareness Week 2015, the National Sleep Foundation’s trying to drive the broken-record medical advice to the public: Get more sleep." (Read more at MedicalDaily.com.)

Autism

"Genetic influences on autism are estimated to be between 74-98%, a Medical Research Council study of 258 twins suggests." (Read more at bbc.com.)

Cholesterol

"Cholesterol is a waxy material that is produced naturally by the liver. It protects the nerves, produces hormones and makes cell tissues, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. However, too much cholesterol can be a bad thing — which is why it's important to manage it and keep it at reasonable levels." (Read more at livescience.com.)

"My patients often ask me if there are any foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the so-called "bad" cholesterol that can cause artery-clogging plaque to form in your coronary artery walls, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. My answer is a qualified "Yes," since high LDL can be the result of many factors, including poor genes, obesity, and lack of exercise. For this reason, not everyone will react to dietary changes the same way, and optimal LDL levels are different for every individual." (Read more at everydayhealth.com.)

Heart Attacks

"Women having heart attacks get to the hospital for treatment later than men and are more likely to die, a new study finds." (Read more at nlm.nih.gov.)

Foods

"Peanut butter and jelly. Soup and salad. Spaghetti and meatballs. There are a few classic pairings that will never go out of style. But some food duos do more than just excite your taste buds—they could even boost your health. It's a concept called "food synergy." While eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is key for helping your body stay healthy, the idea is that some foods can interact in ways to provide even more value. So stick to eating your favorite superfoods, but know that serving these 11 combos could pack a more powerful punch of nutrition.(Read more at health.com.)

"Closely following the Mediterranean diet can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, another study suggests." (Read more at nlm.nih.gov.)

Germs

"Perhaps you were as grossed out as we were by that recent Weill Cornell Medical College study that showed New York City's subway system to be teeming with bacteria. Over an 18-month period, geneticist Christopher Mason and his team collected DNA from handrails, kiosks, seats, and turnstiles across the MTA to reveal a lush, invisible ecosystem containing more than 15,000 different kinds of microbial life. Ick, right?" (Read more at citylab.com.)

Headaches

"Millions of Americans suffer from debilitating headaches. According to Mayo Clinic, a primary headache is caused by “problems with or over activity of pain-sensitive structures in your head.” But there are also lesser-known, even strange causes of headaches." (Read more at everydayhealth.com.)

Allergies

(These 3 articles are from the previous week but worth mentioning in case you missed them.)

"A new study suggests that parents who wash their dishes by hand, rather than in a dishwashing machine, may unwittingly lower the likelihood that their children will develop allergies." (Read more at nytimes.com.)

"Turning what was once conventional wisdom on its head, a new study suggests that many, if not most peanut allergies can be prevented by feeding young children food containing peanuts beginning in infancy, rather than avoiding such foods." (Read more at nytimes.com.)

"There’s been public debate as to whether or not gluten sensitivity is a real condition or just some sort of uniform delusion manifested in hypochondriacs and picky eaters. A viably testable condition that one in every hundred Americans does suffer from is celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that can destroy the small intestine if confronted with the wrong diet of the wheat protein known as gluten. In the shadow of celiac disease sufferers, however, is a smaller group of people with similar symptoms who do not test positive for the disease. So far, medicine has failed to conclusively identify the condition, known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), with a physical explanation — until now." (Read more at medicaldaily.com.)