Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

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


A look at the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Published March 10, 2021

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are published by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture and are updated every five years, have been updated for the 2020–2025 period. While each iteration builds on the previous set of guidelines, there are some changes this time around, and some items that could have been changed but were not.

Could what we eat improve our sleep?

Published March 9, 2021

Diet, exercise, and sleep work together, and all three can have an effect on our daily well-being and longevity. Sleep impacts our eating patterns, and our eating patterns affect our sleep: lack of quality sleep may make people eat more, and make less healthy food choices, but certain foods contain substances that may enhance sleep.

What is COVID-19 brain fog — and how can you clear it?

Published March 8, 2021

We’ve all experienced the feeling of sluggish, fuzzy thinking and a lack of sharpness, possibly caused by an illness or a medication. But what if that feeling didn’t go away and your thinking didn’t return to normal? That’s the situation for some people who have recovered from COVID-19, and there can be long-term effects on other organs as well.

Heavy metals in baby food? What parents should know and do

Published March 5, 2021

Worrisome levels of arsenic, lead, and other elements called heavy metals that can harm the developing brain are found in some commercial baby foods, according to a recent report. Here’s what parents should know and can do to protect young children.

My COVID-19 vaccine story –– and what happened next

Published March 4, 2021

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to become more widely available, some people wonder what it’s like to receive one. One doctor shares her story –– including what happened when close family members became sick with COVID.

The hidden long-term cognitive effects of COVID-19

Published March 4, 2021

it is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 affects the nervous system along with the respiratory system. Research is suggesting that this may result in long-term neurologic damage in those who survive a COVID infection, including evidence of effects on cognitive function.

Acne: Considerations for darker skin

Published March 3, 2021

People with darker skin face particular challenges from acne. The release of melanin from skin inflammation can cause scarring or dark spots that can last for months or longer, and this is more likely to occur in people with darker skin. Treatment can help improve or prevent these conditions.

5 unusual headaches: Signs to watch for and what to do

Published March 2, 2021

Some types of headaches are easily recognizable, while others are less common, and if one occurs the symptoms can be puzzling or even frightening. When unusual or frequent headache occurs, take note of the symptoms so that you can describe them accurately to your doctor.

Is crying good for you?

Published March 1, 2021

Crying is a natural response to a range of emotions, but is it good for your health? Crying is an important safety valve: it acts as a safety valve for our emotions, and emotional tears flush stress hormones and other toxins out of our systems.

New school guidelines around COVID-19: What parents need to know

Updated March 25, 2021
After nearly a year of the pandemic, parents want their children to go back to school, but no one wants students or teachers to get sick with COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new guidelines for how schools can accomplish in-person learning safely.

Seeking solace, finding resilience in a pandemic

Published February 25, 2021

Over the past year, so many of us have experienced various forms of trauma, and reported mental health symptoms have increased dramatically. But at the same time, people have shown resilience and found small moments of solace, relief, and even joy in life’s simple pleasures — and these moments help.

Grandparents and vaccines: Now what?

Updated April 5, 2021
Grandparents tired of pandemic video calls are eager to hug grandchildren, and as seniors receive COVID-19 vaccinations, many want to know what their vaccination status means with regard to family and friends. Here are responses to some common questions.

Lowering cholesterol protects your heart and brain, regardless of your age

Published February 24, 2021

Studies have consistently shown that lowering LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular events and death. But do older adults — even those with existing cardiovascular disease — get the same benefits from lowering cholesterol, and do they face any additional risks from taking cholesterol-lowering medication? An analysis of data from previous studies reached some favorable conclusions.

Natural remedies for hemorrhoids

Published February 23, 2021

Hemorrhoids are painful and unpleasant, and difficult to talk about. But they are common among people over 50, and they are not dangerous and can be managed with simple remedies and self-care.

Want to feel more connected? Practice empathy

Published February 22, 2021

Empathy helps people get along with others, but the ability to understand another person’s experience comes more easily to some people than to others. However, the capacity for empathy can be honed and improved like any other skill.

Does your health monitor have device bias?

Updated November 3, 2022

The accuracy of health monitoring devices available to consumers varies, and in some instances skin tone may make a difference –– a problem called device bias. Yet proper function of such devices can have significant implications for the health of those using them.

The link between abdominal fat and death: What is the shape of health?

Published February 18, 2021

Body mass index is commonly used to assess a person’s weight status and health risk, but it does not indicate how much fat a person has or how it is distributed throughout the body — indicators of metabolic health. A recent study analyzed different measures of body shape to determine which are most predictive of premature death.

Why won’t some health care workers get vaccinated?

Updated February 17, 2021
COVID-19 vaccination rates among health care workers in nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been lower than expected. Is this an information problem or does it stem from other issues –– and what can be done?

What’s your approach to health? Check your medicine cabinet

Published February 16, 2021

Attitudes toward health –– broadly, maximalist or minimalist –– tend to form early in life and are embedded in our family’s approach to health and well-being. The contents of your medicine cabinet reflect which approach you prefer.

Grandparenting: Anticipating March 11

Updated February 16, 2021
It’s been almost a year since our lives were profoundly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For grandparents, marking this anniversary with their grandchildren can help them make sense of what they have been through. Asking them questions will help determine how best to commemorate the day.

5 myths about endometriosis

Published February 12, 2021

While as many as one in 10 American women is affected by endometriosis, it can take years to get a correct diagnosis because the symptoms may mimic other common conditions. And myths about this condition may keep some women from seeking help.

Flowers, chocolates, organ donation — are you in?

Published February 11, 2021

February 14th is more than Valentine’s Day –– it’s also National Donor Day, when health organizations sponsor sign-ups for organ and tissue donation. For those in need, such a donation can be life-changing — or lifesaving. If you wonder what can be donated or how, read on.

Can dust mite allergy be treated with a pill?

Published February 10, 2021

For decades, people with an allergy to dust mites took over-the-counter medications for relief, and if those were not effective they could choose to receive a course of immunotherapy shots that lasted years. A newer form of treatment is available in pill form and is taken at home.

Need to revisit screen time?

Published February 9, 2021

Restrictions caused by the pandemic have led both adults and children to spend a lot of time on screens. It’s not great for adults, and it’s more of a concern for kids because too much screen time has effects on behavior, learning, and mood. So, what steps can parents take to change this?

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