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Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.


Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods

Published July 14, 2021
One reason people eat yogurt is because it contains probiotics — beneficial bacteria and yeasts that improve digestion, provide protection from dangerous organisms, and boost the immune system. But not everyone likes the taste or texture of yogurt, so here are some other foods that offer the same benefits.

Want probiotics but dislike yogurt? Try these foods

Published July 14, 2021
One reason people eat yogurt is because it contains probiotics — beneficial bacteria and yeasts that improve digestion, provide protection from dangerous organisms, and boost the immune system. But not everyone likes the taste or texture of yogurt, so here are some other foods that offer the same benefits.

Is our healthcare system broken?

Published July 13, 2021

The US healthcare system is expensive, complicated, dysfunctional — and broken. The system needs a major overhaul, and the arguments for this fall into a few broad categories: high costs, uneven access, and undue emphasis on areas of spending that do not directly benefit patients

What's the relationship between diabetes and dementia?

Published July 12, 2021
It has been known for many years that type 2 diabetes increases a person's risk for stroke and heart disease, and more recent studies have shown that diabetes also increases risk of dementia. But new research examined the association between when a person first is diagnosed with diabetes and their risk of developing dementia later.

A new treatment for advanced prostate cancer improves survival in phase 3 clinical trial

Published July 12, 2021
Radiation therapy is getting more precise, making it easier to kill tumors while sparing their surrounding tissues. Some newer therapies deliver radiation particles directly to the cancer cell itself. One of these new therapies is now generating promising data for men with the most aggressive prostate cancer.

Preventing sudden heart death in children: 4 questions can help

Published July 9, 2021

It's extremely rare for a child to die suddenly because of a heart problem, but there are several conditions that can lead to a risk of sudden death. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement outlining four questions about personal and family health history that can help identify children who may be at risk.

Band together for stronger legs

Published July 8, 2021
Using your own body weight for exercise is simple and straightforward, but sometimes you need to further challenge your muscles. Resistance bands are versatile, portable, and easy to use to strengthen legs. These four leg exercises with resistance bands will enhance your lower-body workouts.

Supporting a bullied child

Published July 7, 2021

If you learn your child has been bullied, ignore the temptation to fantasize about retaliation and focus on your child's immediate needs instead. Parents can't stop bullies from crossing paths with their children, but they can teach their children how to manage such situations.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: How helpful are pulse monitors and home ECGs?

Updated January 26, 2022

Ads for consumer health monitoring devices make it seem like having ready and regular access to heart rate, heart rhythm, and electrocardiogram data is something everyone needs. While it may help some people with existing heart conditions, how about for an average person without such a concern?

Want more happiness? Try this

Published July 2, 2021
The weight of events of the past year-plus has left many people in need of a mood boost, but even in normal times, people often struggle to find happiness. Positive psychology helps people find ways to improve their mood and life outlook, and trying a few simple techniques might improve your happiness.

New information for parents on myocarditis and COVID-19 vaccines

Published July 1, 2021
Reports of young people developing myocarditis and pericarditis after getting one of the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 have made some parents reluctant to get their children vaccinated. It's understandable to worry about such a side effect, but before choosing not to vaccinate, it's important to look at the whole picture.

Returning to restaurants — and to healthy eating

Published June 30, 2021
Many of us miss dining out. Now that restaurants are offering indoor and outdoor dining again, it's tempting to cut loose and order restaurant meals without thinking about nutrition. But if you're trying to stick to a healthy diet, try these tips when you're out in a restaurant.

Making visits to the dentist easier for people with autism spectrum disorder

Published June 29, 2021

Proper dental care is essential for all children, including learning how to brush and going for regular dental visits. But for children with autism spectrum disorder, the sensory aspects of a dental office may be uncomfortable, difficult, or overwhelming. But there are things parents can do to make these visits easier.

Smoking more than doubles heart risk among African Americans

Published June 28, 2021
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but there is less data available that explores the specific risks African Americans face. A long-running study in Mississippi is doing just that, and found that smoking more than doubles the risk of heart disease among African Americans.

How can you manage anxiety during pregnancy?

Published June 25, 2021

During pregnancy it's completely normal to experience a certain amount of anxiety about the baby, giving birth, and becoming a new parent. But for some women this worry takes over their thoughts and becomes debilitating. There are treatments available that may or may not involve medication, depending on the individual situation.

Using weight loss or sports supplements? Exercise caution

Published June 24, 2021

Magical claims are made in ads for dietary supplements marketed to enhance well-being and solve health problems. But the reality is that most do little or nothing to improve your health, and in some cases weight loss or sports supplements might actually harm you.

Not yet ready for cataract surgery? Try these tips

Published June 23, 2021
Cataracts often affect vision as people get older. The surgery is quick and effective, but most cataracts progress slowly, so in the early stages you may want to make some adjustments to your home and daily behavior to make living with cataracts easier.

Back to the future: Psychedelic drugs in psychiatry

Published June 22, 2021
There is a renewed interest in the potential for psychedelic drugs to be used for medical purposes in the treatment of a variety of psychiatric conditions. Broadly, these drugs are able to induce altered thoughts and sensory perceptions, and research has found them to be beneficial in treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and they can also be helpful for some people in end-of-life situations.

Children not yet vaccinated against COVID-19? What to do

Published June 21, 2021
Now that many people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, it feels like things are starting to return to something resembling normal. But because the vaccines have not yet been approved for those under 12, families with children under this age need to be careful and thoughtful as they plan summer activities.

HIV rates rising: Could new forms of PrEP help?

Published June 18, 2021
Last year, approximately 1.7 million new HIV infections occurred worldwide, and rates of infection are also rising in parts of the US. While a daily pill known as PrEP can help prevent HIV, two new formulations could make it easier for a broader range of at-risk people to use.

Careful! Scary health news can be harmful to your health

Published June 17, 2021
A news story about a worrisome or life-threatening ailment might get you thinking about your own health, especially if you happen to have some of the same symptoms. But dramatic or unusual medical stories can bias your thinking and even negatively affect your health decision-making.

Post-pandemic weight loss: There's an app for that

Published June 16, 2021

There are a myriad of apps and programs designed to help people lose weight, but many companies are offering products that go beyond traditional food tracking, taking a mindfulness-based approach to help people understand why they eat the way they do, and how to make beneficial changes to their eating routine.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia by telemedicine: Is it as good as in-person treatment?

Published June 15, 2021
Chronic insomnia affects between 10% and 15% of adults in the US. A specific form of cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment of insomnia is becoming more accessible because it can be delivered remotely. A recent study investigated how this therapy delivered via telemedicine compared to the same form of therapy delivered in person.

Prediabetes diagnosis as an older adult: What does it really mean?

Published June 14, 2021

Prediabetes often precedes the development of type 2 diabetes, and in young and middle-aged people it's important to identify prediabetes because it may be possible to prevent or delay the development of diabetes. Researchers wanted to know if the implications of being diagnosed with prediabetes are similar for older adults.

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