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5 centenarians share strange secrets to longevity

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 2:45 PM

What is the secret to longevity? This question taunts all of humanity. 

Although we have yet to discover a fountain of youth, centenarians – individuals who live to be over 100-years-old – can potentially give us clues on to how to live longer, healthier and happier lives. By taking a closer look at their lifestyles, genetics and social dynamics, some scientists are trying to find patterns that can show us their secrets.

»RELATED: Alcohol better than exercise to live past 90, study says 

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At the same time, if you ask the centenarians themselves, they often give answers ranging from the seemingly logical to the downright bizarre.

Here are five unusual things centenarians have given credit for their long lives.

(JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Sumo wrestling and hot springs

Just this week, Guinness World Records crowned Masazo Nonaka as the world's oldest living man. At 112, the elderly Japanese man was born all the way back in 1905. That means he would have turned nine the year that World War I began.

Although he moves around in a wheelchair, Nonaka reads the newspaper every morning and feeds himself breakfast. As to the secret to his long life? Well, the centenarian soaks regularly in northern Japan's hot springs and considers watching sumo wrestling to be one of his favorite pastimes.

»RELATED: Here’s why women outlive men even in the harshest conditions, study says

2. Humor and chocolate

Jeanne Louise Calment of France still holds the Guinness record as the world's oldest living person. She died at the impressive age of 122 years and 164 days in 1997. Having definitely lived a full life, Calment sold painting canvasses to Vincent Van Gogh, smoked from the age of 21 to 117 and even became a recording artist at 120-years-old.

Calment accredited her longevity to her sense of humor. When she turned 120, journalists asked her what kind of future she expected. She replied quickly: "A very short one." Also an avid lover of chocolate, Calment reportedly consumed about 1 kilogram (2 pounds 3 ounces) of the stuff each week.

3. Eating less

Currently holding the record as the man to live the longest, Jiroemon Kimura of Japan lived to be 116 years and 54 days. He died in June of 2013. 

Born in 1897, Kimura worked at the post office until he retired at the age of 65. He then went on to live more than another half a century.

And what was his secret? According to him, eating less was the key. He reportedly said that his personal motto was: "eat light to live long". Notably, Kimura's philosophy has increasing support among the scientific community. 

Many scientists and nutritionists believe that a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie intake may significantly slow down the physical processes that make cells heal slower, which opens up the brain and body to disease. Studies have also shown that calorie restrictive diets in mice help combat the effects of aging on the brain.

If the scientists – and Kimura – are right, cutting down on your daily consumption can help you shed a few pounds while also keeping you young.

4. Eat everything ... except pork and chicken

In July of last year, Violet Moss-Brown of Jamaica became the oldest living woman and the oldest living person. She claimed both titles at the age 117 years and 139 days old. A few months later, she died, proud to know that she had claimed both world records.

When asked about her secrets to long life, Moss-Brown suggested there wasn't much to it. However, she did say she never ate pork or chicken. 

"When people ask what I eat and drink to live so long, I say to them that I eat everything, except pork and chicken," she told Guinness

»RELATED: Women happier after age 85 once spouse dies, psychiatrists say

5. Smoking cigarettes

Batuli Lamichhane, who was reportedly 112 in 2016, claimed that her secret to long life was smoking cigarettes.

Born in March 1903, Lamichhane started smoking when she was 17. The centenarian told The Mirror that she smoked some 30 cigarettes a day for the past 95 years.

"I have been smoking for over 95 years. There is nothing wrong with smoking," she said.

But before you rush out to buy a pack of cigarettes, remember that any doctor or scientist will explain to you that smoking significantly increases your risk of heart disease, cancer and a range of other health issues.

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Does your child have a food allergy? Here's how to tell

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 12:26 PM

Mom Criticized For Feeding Child Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich at Target

Food allergies are a growing problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in the cases of children, an allergic reaction to something as simple as sandwich could potentially be life-threatening.

About 4-6 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies, and it's important to know whether your child is among this group.

»RELATED: 8 most common food allergies

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Here's what will help you determine if your child has a food allergy:

The definitive guide to alt-milks like almond, soy and even banana

Common triggers

The most common food allergies in children are reactions to peanuts and milk. Allergies to eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and tree nuts (such as pecans, walnuts and cashews) are also very common. Children can outgrow some allergies, but the most severe ones can last throughout their lifetimes. Allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are often the most severe and the most likely to persist.

Delaying food allergies

You can't prevent your child from developing a food allergy, but you can sometimes delay it in infants by doing the following:

  • Breastfeeding for the first six months if possible
  • Delaying solid foods until your child is at least six months old
  • Avoiding cow's milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts and fish until your child is over one year of age

»RELATED: Food allergies may be linked to baby wipes, study says

Symptoms

When your child is very young, you'll have to be observant to pick up on signs of food allergies that he or she may not be able to communicate. In some cases, a baby can even have an allergic reaction to a food they're exposed to through breast milk. As your child gets older, they'll be able to describe the symptoms better but still may need to be asked questions about how they feel.

»RELATED: Is this pill the answer to severe peanut allergies?

Common symptoms of a food allergy you should watch out for include the following:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, face or other body part
  • Wheezing, congestion or difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

Identifying the allergen

When your child is young, introducing one new food at a time can help pinpoint a potential allergen (allergy-causing substance) more easily. A visit to an allergist or pediatric allergist can definitively identify (or rule out) the food – or foods – your child is allergic to by using a skin or patch test or another method.

(An EpiPen, used to treat anaphylactic shock. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group/TNS via Getty Images))

What are the next steps?

Since there's no medication available to treat food allergies, the goal is to avoid foods that cause your child's symptoms, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. You'll have to learn what foods to help your child avoid and depending on which foods he or she can't eat, vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended.

Some children can be given certain foods carefully in a few months, but only under the direction of a health care provider. This will help you know if your child has outgrown the allergy.

If your child has a food allergy, the doctor will probably recommend an emergency kit that contains epinephrine. This medication, which can be purchased under the brand name EpiPen or as a generic medication, can help stop a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

You, your child (if he or she is old enough) and any caregivers should know how to administer epinephrine if needed. If your child is school age, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) offers tips to help keep them safe while they're at school, starting with a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan that you can download in English as well as Spanish.

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Man dies after eating raw oysters at Florida restaurant, report says

Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018 @ 2:00 AM

How To Avoid Vibrio Vulnificus

A man died from a Vibrio vulnificus bacterial infection after eating raw oysters at a Florida restaurant, health officials say.

>> Texas woman dies after contracting flesh-eating disease from raw oysters

The 71-year-old man reportedly died two days after eating the raw oysters in a Sarasota restaurant. Health officials have not said which restaurant.

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>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Restaurants are swapping out seafood — and it could make you sick 

"We have an individual that consumed some raw oysters and to the best of our knowledge had no exposure to salt water, became severely ill and passed away," said Michael Drennon, disease intervention services program manager at the Sarasota County Health Department.

Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is found in salt water and raw or undercooked shell fish. Health officials warn against eating raw or undercooked shell fish or getting into salt water with open wounds. 

The Florida Department of Health's website says symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or fever.

>> Read more trending news 

The health department's website also reports 16 confirmed cases of Vibro vulnificus this year, three of them fatal. 

According to WTVT, the health department is working with the restaurant to gather information during their investigation into this death. 

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5 signs your relationship is hurting your mental health

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 11:24 AM

7 Signs Your Marriage May Be Over

Everyone in a relationship knows how easy it is to accuse a partner of something they didn't do. It's their fault, you tell them, whether the spat is about towels on the bathroom floor, an angry mother-in-law or a missed restaurant reservation.

Sometimes you know you're wrong the second these words leave your mouth; other times you recognize your mistake in the days to come.

»RELATED: Which ‘down-and-dirty’ men should you spring-clean from your life?

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But the same people often miss a much more critical aspect of their relationship, despite repeated examples and gut feelings that something is wrong. It's far more difficult to realize that your partner may actually be at fault when you suffer from mental health issues.

"Some have the power to uplift our spirits, to lend comfort during life's strains and stresses, to weave fun and playfulness into our day, and to imbue life with a profound sense of purpose," psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, author of “If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?,” told Bustle. "Sadly, others can pull us downward, drain our energy and emotional reserves, fill us with heartache and erode our happiness."

Some of these woeful partners contribute to a condition, like depression, that may have already been present. Others push a person with relatively strong mental health into a rapid decline.

In both situations, it's all too easy to miss the signals. Bustle writer Suzannah Weiss, for example, started obsessive hair picking (trichotillomania), had trouble concentrating on work and wasted lots of time watching television for a good while before she realized an emotionally abusive partner was the root cause of her mental anguish. 

You owe it to yourself to figure out if you're having a toxic reaction to a relationship, psychologist Andrea Bonior told Health.

"Keeping a finger on your own emotions can help you develop insight about the people in your life, so you can choose healthier situations," she said.

And while each person has to weigh a relationship's worth for themselves, there are common signs that indicate a partner's actions are hurting your mental health:

Your self-esteem is slipping. If you can honestly say you were more confident and felt better about yourself before this relationship got going, your partner could be the one lowering your self-esteem, Parker said. The routine might be subtle, like a partner who talks about themselves constantly while asking you very few questions, which can lead you to feel less interesting. (This could also be a symptom that you are in a relationship with one type of narcissist.) Or it could be more obvious, a constant barrage of overt insults that reaches emotional abuse proportions.

"When one of the people you're closest to is making you feel inferior, you may start to believe you are," Weiss noted.

You're always walking on eggshells. A controlling relationship partner can do plenty of damage even without physical threats or violence. "It can simply be that you feel frightened to share your opinions—you're constantly walking on eggshells because you're afraid of your partner's emotional reactions," Bonior noted.

»RELATED: 6 signs it's time to break up with your workplace friend

Your physical health has tanked since the relationship started. Sure, it could be a coincidence. But Parker warned that an unhealthy relationship can cause headaches, insomnia or muscle pain. The link to mental health? If one of those physical problems has erupted due to your relationship, it may indicate an underlying mental issue as well.

You're relieved when your partner checks out. Of course you could just be losing interest, but a physical sense of relief when your partner leaves after you've spent substantial time together could indicate your partner's causing you stress. Give this observation even more credit if your relief when your partner departs is accompanied by "a sense of weight and physical tension in the parter's presence," Parker noted.

When it comes to finding a relationship, experts say timing is everything. In fact, Match.com says it now knows the exact date and time when singles are most likely to meet their, well, match online. Oli Kellett/Taxi/Getty Images(Nedra Rhone/Talk of the Town)

You go to great lengths to distract yourself from the relationship. This is a psychological arc: when you are in a relationship with someone, you will make every attempt to avoid negative thoughts about them. When the negativity threatens, it can cause you so much cognitive dissonance you will do anything to push it to the back of your mind. Some of the distraction techniques can wear away mental health, like oversleeping or playing video games for long hours. 

Of course, eliminating the relationship is not going to magically erase your mental health problems, but it could have a positive impact. "Although many stressors in life can undermine emotional health, the possible role of relationships should not be dismissed," Parker said. "If a romantic relationship is having a negative impact on your psychological well-being, it's vital to turn attention to that."

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What is autism? Things to know about the disorder

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

New Autism Research Could Determine Which Children Are At Risk

Autism is a disorder that has been around since the 1940s, but still has an air of mystery around it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 59 children in the United States has autism.

»RELATED: Baby teeth could be predictor of autism, study suggests

But with a list of different symptoms and causes, it can be hard to know what you should look for and how to tell if your child might be showing early signs. To help you, here's an overview of everything you need to understand about this disorder.

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What is autism?

Autism is also called autism spectrum disorder. It's defined as a range of strengths and challenges related to communication skills, social skills and behavior patterns. In kids, the symptoms will usually show up by 12 to 18 months of age.

In children, the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder will usually appear by 12 to 18 months of age.(ajc.com)

What are the symptoms of autism?

Autism symptoms can be different for everyone, so there are lots of ways to diagnose it. If you think your child might be on the autism spectrum, here are some signs you can look for:

1. Repetitive behavior or use of language

2. Delay in spoken language

3. Lack of interest in relationships with peers

4. Avoidance of spontaneous or make-believe play

5. Little or no eye contact

6. Fixation on specific topics or objects

7. Difficulty understanding other people's feelings

If you believe your child might have autism, it might be a good idea to talk to their doctor. They can usually refer you to a specialist who should be able to give you a better idea of what might be going on. In some cases, a child who shows symptoms of autism could actually have a different disorder with similar symptoms.

What causes autism?

Autism spectrum disorder can be caused by factors like genetics, environmental influences or even a combination of both. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, certain genetic mutations (or combinations of mutations) can:

1. Cause symptoms of autism,

2. Control how severe those symptoms are, or

3. Increase the chances that someone might develop autism once faced with certain factors from their environment.

Unless a person carries the risk of developing autism within their genes, experts at AutismSpeaks.org said that environmental factors probably won't put that child at risk of developing autism.

» RELATED: Can taking folic acid lower the risk of autism? New studies suggest it may help

Is there a cure for autism?

There is no known cure for autism, but there are a small number of people who have been diagnosed and then later moved off the spectrum. Sometimes children will show autism symptoms when they're young and they will grow out of it later. Other times, long-term treatment has helped people make progress. Each case can be completely different.

Treatment options for living with autism can be different based on a person's age and symptoms. In most cases, steady treatment, like therapy, can be helpful.

There are tons of resources out there to learn more about autism spectrum disorder. Autism Speaks has information about events and initiatives for anyone affected by the disorder (including the Global Autism Public Health Initiative). The CDC also offers plenty of statistics and resources through their website.

Locally, you can visit the Marcus Autism Center for pediatric autism treatment and additional resources.

Click here to read about the steps the Atlanta Braves are taking to make baseball games more accessible for fans with autism. 

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