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2021 Publication Archive

“Seafood Has Few Downsides”

Jan 10, 2021

Health experts often advise: “Eat more fish.” The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. As a lean, readily available protein, fish is widely considered a healthy food choice that billions of people around the world rely on for nutrition. Seafood, which includes fish and shellfish, offers health benefits for the general population—including pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to protein, fish provides healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, and E, plus iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Fish are also good sources of vitamin D and phosphorus. The guidelines note that eating about 8 ounces of seafood per week is linked to fewer cardiac deaths among people with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease, based on scientific evidence. However, fish has also been the subject of public health advisories, due to the presence of contaminants that can be harmful to health. Seafood is the main source of human exposure to methylmercury, a powerful neurotoxin. In the United States, 82% of population-wide exposure to methylmercury comes from eating marine seafood and nearly 40% is from fresh and canned tuna. When ingested at high levels, this heavy metal can cause nerve damage in otherwise healthy adults, young children, and during fetal development. The fish with the highest mercury levels include king mackerel, marlin, shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna, and tilefish. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommend that pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish (the kind with lower mercury levels) per week and that adults, in general, eat at least 8 ounces per week.

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“Sleep Linked to Good Mental Health”

Jan 03, 2021

We sleep for 1/3 of our lifetimes or about 24.9 years. People who cannot sleep, die. Rats die after about 17 days of total sleep deprivation. A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that future lifestyle interventions targeting sleep quality may be most beneficial at improving mental health and wellbeing. Young adults should prioritize getting good quality sleep, but they also stress the importance of eating well and exercising often since “physical activity and diet” are secondary but still significant factors. The study ranked sleep, physical activity and diet as influencers of good mental health. Sleep, physical activity, and a healthy diet can be thought of as three pillars of health, which could contribute to promoting optimal well-being among young adults. Sleep quality outranked them all as the strongest predictor of good mental health. People who slept close to 10 hours per night reported fewer depressive symptoms, but not enough (<8 h) or too much sleep (>12 h) had people reporting more symptoms of depression. Eating moderate servings of raw fruit and veggies each day also correlated with better wellbeing. Some previous research suggests healthy behaviors such as eating well or exercising often can have a synergistic effect on wellbeing. Researchers have shown no adverse effect of nighttime exercise on sleep. In fact, exercise and sleep can be mutually beneficial. Disrupted sleep has been linked to poor mental health before, including depression and other mood disorders.

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