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Staying healthy through the holidays; keeping anxiety under control

By Whitney Fetterhoff,

Indulgences: The holidays and your liver

Whole Living, November

Who doesn’t love to indulge over the holidays? Most of us are guilty of turning to foods we’d shun at other times of the year: butter-rich cakes and cookies, rum-infused eggnog (you don’t want to think about how many egg yolks are in it), cocktails, creamy overripe cheeses. As Susan Blum, founder of the Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, N.Y., puts it in “Whole Health News,” “This time of year your liver often gets kicked into overdrive. It has to work harder to process all that rich food and alcohol under conditions of too much stress and too little sleep.” She suggests preparing ahead. Start the day with a cup of hot water with lemon juice, which is packed with antioxidants and Vitamin C. Amino acids found in protein — shoot for 60 grams of protein a day — are also crucial for liver function, so load up on beans and seeds. Luckily, there is a great power food that is already a holiday staple: the cranberry. We’re talking about the raw fruit, not the sugary Thanksgiving side dish. Eat them with your oatmeal or blend them into a salad dressing, and your liver will thank you come January.

Anxiety: When phoning it in is a good thing

NIH News in Health, November

Anxiety is a condition that affects only a few adults and must be treated with drugs, right? Wrong. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from long-term anxiety, and drugs are only a partial solution, according to “Worried Sick: Living With Anxiety Disorders,” an article in the newsletter of the National Institutes of Health. As NIH neuroscientist and psychiatrist Daniel Pine puts it, “Everybody has anxiety. The tricky part is how to tell the difference between normal and abnormal anxiety.” In addition to meds, cognitive behavior therapy, a form of talk therapy, has proven helpful. Denise Chavira, a psychologist at the University of California at San Diego, is studying ways to make CBT more accessible to kids in rural areas by using the good, old-fashioned telephone to teach parents how use CBT with their kids. According to Chavira, “the phone is a less intense form of treatment, given that it only involves the parents and sessions are shorter. But even that mode can be really effective.” Meanwhile, the article says, NIH is working on imaging the brain in action; seeing “trouble spots in real time” perhaps will lead to new therapies.

— Whitney Fetterhoff

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