Posts Tagged "Smart Living"

4Nov

Sweeteners can be ‘hidden’ in your kids’ food — and parents may not even know – National

by BBG Hub

Allidina says these sweeteners can be found in a variety of products children consume, including everything from Jell-O to some juices like Sunny D to ice cream. Other items include pop, cereal bars, yogurt and more.

She says anytime you see labels like “low sugar,” “reduced sugar” or “no sugar” should be a red flag.

“Technically, artificial sweeteners are not sugar and sometimes food companies mix them with real sugar to decrease the total sugar in the food.”

When your child loves sweetness

But some children just love sugar and sweet-flavoured food and often, parents struggle to remove it from their diet. And when sugar or sweetness is hidden, it can be even harder to monitor what your child eats.

“Navigating sugar with kids is tricky, but not impossible,” Allidina said.

“Skip the artificial stuff — especially for kids. We get the sweetness but with 0 calories, which can lead to more sugar cravings to fill the void.”

Parents should also focus on introducing whole foods without packaging or wrappers.

“These foods include, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and lean protein as much as possible.”

READ MORE: What happens to your body when you stop eating sugar?

And besides carefully reading labels, look at the ingredient list.

“Try to stay clear of foods that have sugar listed as the first three ingredients – sugar has many names,” Allidina continued. “If these foods are your kid’s favourite, you can still offer it but less frequently.”

When you can, be a role model yourself.  “If your child sees you consuming soft drinks and sugary foods daily, then you need to change,” she stressed.

“Remember, kids learn by example. So make sure you are doing your part.”

Sometimes, though, you can’t escape sugar. Children end up consuming sugar at school or at birthday parties with friends. It’s important to look at a child’s diet overall, Allidina said.

“Start with simple swaps such as replacing or diluting juice for water or milk and cut back on the frequency of sugary treats.”




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4Nov

Eating alone may not be good for your health: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Plenty of people eat lunch at their desk or gobble down a takeout dinner between driving their kids to extracurricular activities.

More Canadians are living alone than ever before, too, government data shows, meaning many home-cooked meals are eaten solo.

While attention is often focused on seniors eating and living alone, Kate Mulligan, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health, says the issue affects everyone.

“We see younger people — millennials, for example, or even younger — who are ordering in a lot or may not even have cooking facilities in their apartments,” Mulligan said.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

But is eating alone actually that bad for your health? According to research, the harms may outweigh the benefits.

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How eating alone can harm you

“Eating alone is associated with a whole range of poor outcomes, and they’re correlated with similar outcomes for loneliness in general,” Mulligan said.

“When you eat alone, you’re more likely to eat standing up, you’re more likely to eat junk food and you’re less likely to think about mindful consumption.”






Benefits of shopping for your own food


Benefits of shopping for your own food

Because food can be a social experience, missing out on eating with others can make people feel isolated. One study out of Japan found that living and eating alone may increase the risk of depression in older adults.

Canada’s Food Guide also encourages people to eat with others. The guide says eating alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially for seniors.

The physical implications vary, but research suggests solo dining habits can negatively impact a person’s health.

One Korean report concluded that eating alone may be a potential risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems including too much fat around the waist and elevated blood pressure. The condition — which can be caused by poor diet and lack of exercise — increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, HealthLink BC points out.



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READ MORE: Spending time alone isn’t weird or sad — it’s actually healthy

Eating alone can also affect what you eat.

A U.K. study found that older adults were at risk of having a lower-quality diet if they lived and ate alone.

Researchers found that being single or widowed was associated with a lower food variety score, especially for men. The study also found that lower levels of friend contact were linked to eating a reduced variety of fruits and vegetables.

Another Korean study concluded that people who eat alone have a nutritional intake below the recommended amount.






Easy meal prep for students


Easy meal prep for students

According to Mulligan, people may be more inclined to mindlessly eat or snack when they are by themselves compared to when they’re enjoying food with others. This can result in poorer food choices.

“We’re less conscious of what we’re doing when we’re alone or when we’re in a rush or in transit,” Mulligan said.

“With isolated seniors, for example, they often just don’t feel it is worth the effort to go through and prepare healthier foods when they’re alone.”

There’s also the impact on the planet. A recent article published in Quartz pointed out that solo eating can contribute to food waste.

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Research shows that more than half of food produced in Canada is wasted. Furthermore, avoidable food waste in the country produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

How eating alone can benefit you

There are certainly benefits to spending time alone and learning to enjoy your own company.

A recent article published in the New York Times unpacked the ways people can enjoy eating alone and highlighted its benefits: a sense of self-indulgence and needed quiet time.

READ MORE: Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health

Eating alone while travelling is often unavoidable and can be a great opportunity to connect with others.

Mulligan says for parents with young children, a meal alone can be an enjoyable break.

Still, this doesn’t mean solo dining should be the norm.






10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit


10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit

“I’m sure for some people and in some circumstances, it can be quite joyful to eat alone,” she said. “But that doesn’t make it healthier in the long run.”

To combat the effects of eating alone, Canada’s Food Guide suggests making plans to meet with friends or family members for meals and participating in community celebrations. It’s also a good idea to organize a rotating dinner event where people take turns hosting meals.

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At work, try to eat lunch in a common space with a colleague.

Mulligan puts it this way: “The evidence is pretty clear: in general, eating with other people is good for us.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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3Nov

Own a house with your partner? Here’s what happens if you break up – National

by BBG Hub

The last thing you expect when you buy a home with your long-term partner is to break-up shortly after.

But that’s exactly what happened to Nora, who asked Global News to change her name for privacy reasons.

Nora and her boyfriend dated for about three years before they decided to buy a house together in an Ontario suburb.

At the time, she was given financial advice to put the home in her name because she was earning more money while her partner was finishing school. Nora also took advantage of the government’s first-time homebuyers tax credit.

READ MORE: ‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child

Only a year after living in the home together, Nora and her boyfriend split. They didn’t have any formal agreement about their property and who would be responsible for paying what.

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Their mortgage was in Nora’s name, and the couple had another personal loan, too.

“I ended up getting a lawyer because I was very unsure [of my rights] and it was a ton of money we were talking about,” Nora said.

“She unfortunately advised me that he could get up and walk away if he really wanted to, and I would have to take him to court to try and get the money that he owed,” she said.






Must-have tips for first time home buyers


Must-have tips for first time home buyers

Thankfully, Nora and her ex-boyfriend came to an agreement through her lawyer. The pair decided they would sell the house, and he would be responsible for his half of their outstanding debt.

“I was, in all honesty, very lucky, but it was incredibly stressful,” said Nora.

“I had no idea the sort of risk I took.”


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The importance of a cohabitation agreement

Nora’s experience is not that uncommon. More Canadians are in common-law relationships today than in the past, data shows, and many are buying homes together.

More than one-fifth of all couples — 21 per cent — were living common law in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. This is a big jump from about 6 per cent in 1981.

READ MORE: More millennials are signing prenups — and experts say that’s a good thing

What’s more, the government agency says many adults now choose to live common law before marriage. The latest available data found that 39 per cent of married 25- to 64-year-olds lived common law with their current spouse before getting married.

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But common-law partners don’t have the same rights married couples do, and many don’t understand the risks of buying a home together, says Diana Isaac, a family lawyer at Toronto’s Shulman Law Firm.



In Ontario where Isaac practices, common-law couples do not have any automatic rights to property like married couples do. This means if a couple lives together but their home is only in one person’s name, as in Nora’s case, a cohabitation agreement is important.

A cohabitation agreement is essentially a contract that outlines how a couple will deal with assets like property and spousal support should they break-up or one person dies, Issac says. It helps prevent future legal issues, and clearly outlines who owns what.






Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting


Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting

These agreements are especially vital if property is only in one person’s name (i.e. “on title”) but both parties put money into it. Cohabitation agreements are also valuable when one partner moves into another person’s house, and begins contributing to the household.

This is because if a couple splits, each person keeps whatever they technically own — including property.

“If the person is not on title and they have contributed to the home, the title would take precedence,” explained Isaac.

“The individual that is not on title would have to prove their contributions by way of a trust claim in order to have an equitable interest, which becomes very complicated and very costly.”

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In cases like Nora’s, if she and her boyfriend didn’t come to a post-split agreement, she would have been on the hook for the house, Isaac said.

READ MORE: Canadians fear debt almost as much as they fear death

“When that mortgage statement comes through and your name is on there, you’re responsible for it.”


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Laws vary across Canada for common-law spouses

Common law legislation varies from province to province. In Ontario, couples are considered common law if they’ve lived together for three years or more. If they have a child together, a couple becomes common law sooner.

In B.C., couples are considered common law if they’ve shared a home in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or they’ve lived together under two years but have a child together.






Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit


Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit

The Civil Code of Quebec currently does not recognize common-law couples (or “de facto spouses” as they’re called in the province). In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec does not have to give common-law spouses the same rights as married couples.

In 2018, efforts were put forward to change Quebec’s legislation regarding common-law couples.

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In Manitoba, all laws in the province governing property rights of married couples are applicable to common-law partners who have been living together in “a conjugal relationship for at least three years.” Common-law couples can also register their relationship at the Vital Statistics Agency.

It is important couples understand the laws in their province so they can make informed decisions. Isaac suggests couples talk to a lawyer to draft cohabitation agreements prior to moving in together.

READ MORE: ‘The current system is broken’: changes coming to Sask. divorce and separation laws

Nora wishes she knew about Ontario’s laws earlier. She wants unmarried partners to know it’s important both parties protect themselves if they’re going to put money into property together.

If her ex didn’t agree to cover his half of their home, it would have been up to her to figure it out.

“When it was deemed that there was no way this relationship was going to be salvageable … I had no interest staying in [the house],” she said.

“It just had too many bad memories.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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2Nov

What it’s like to get cancer as a parent: ‘I began planning out my next 5 years’ – National

by BBG Hub

When Fiona Kingsley Boyer was six months pregnant, she started to notice bruising on her legs.

She was also very itchy, symptoms she thought were normal for someone carrying a child.

That February of 2018, the 32-year-old woman from Scarborough, Ont. says doctors noticed a lump on her neck.

READ MORE: Cancer can severely damage your mental health. Why don’t we talk about it?

She went to the ER to get an X-ray on a Sunday night and by Monday, she got the grim news: she had cancer.

“I was like, ‘What about the baby? Because all you think about is the baby… you don’t care about yourself.’”

Kingsley Boyer was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was induced a month early before her due date and started chemotherapy two weeks after giving birth.

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Fiona Kingsley Boyer pregnant. Photo courtesy of Fiona Kingsley Boyer. Art by Laura Whelan. 

Doctors told her the cancer wouldn’t impact her unborn child, but Kingsley Boyer panicked.

“For days I thought I had days to live,” she said. “I began planning out my next five years with my kids.”

Getting a cancer diagnosis is one hurdle to jump over on your own, but when you have kids, it can add another layer of guilt, fear and anxiety. Some parents are separated from their children during chemotherapy, while others have a hard time explaining the diagnosis to their child.

Telling your kids about the ‘C’ word

Erlanger A. Turner, a licenced psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, tells Global News most parents struggle to tell their children about their diagnosis.

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“It is important to be honest; most children will notice changes in their environment,” he explained.

“Be prepared to openly discuss your chronic illness but keep the conversations age-appropriate for your child.”

You can start with a conversation about what cancer is or offer reading material to older children.

“Having a cancer diagnosis also comes with some uncertainty,” he continued. “It is OK to talk with your child about what is involved in treatment. Finally, be prepared for your child to be anxious or worried about your health.”






5 ways cancer can impact mental health


5 ways cancer can impact mental health

Some children will think your cancer diagnosis is their fault. Open communication about what the cancer is and where it came from can help clear up confusion.

Kingsley Boyer and her husband didn’t tell their three-year-old right away. The two waited to find out if Kingsley Boyer would lose her hair or not, because she knew it would bring up questions. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treatable, especially when it’s detected early.

“We told her mommy was ‘very sick,’ but she was going to get better,” she continued. “We made sure it was clear I was going to get better.”


Fiona Kingsley Boyer with her daughters. Photos courtesy of Fiona Kingsley Boyer. Art by Laura Whelan. 

How your outlook on life can change

Just trying to be a parent can be tough as well.

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“This may be the result of your body being exhausted from treatment or wanting to make sure they your child have an enjoyable time with you,” Turner said.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta mom uses art to help her cope with breast cancer

Some parenting styles also changes, he notes, and parents become more laid back. But it is still important for parents to discipline their child for inappropriate behaviour or breaking rules.

“Children may exhibit different behaviour to cope with their parent’s cancer such as anxiety, anger, or behavioural problems at school,” he explained.

“If you feel that you are struggling with finding effective behaviour management strategies, you should consider working with a licenced mental health professional or psychologist that can work with you and your family to help you cope with your diagnosis and improve your relationship with your child.”



Terri Mah’s outlook on life in general changed when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in May, 2017. Mah had noticed pain on the left side of his body after his family moved from Saskatoon to Calgary that year.

Terri Mah and his family. Photo courtesy of Terri Mah. Art by Laura Whelan

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The 47-year-old told Global News he was already stressed about moving, helping his two kids adapt to a new city and being a caregiver for his father-in-law, who also had cancer.

“It was such a hard thing to deal with because we had brought my father-in-law here and one month before I got diagnosed he passed away,” he said.

“Taking my kids to the hospice and saying goodbye… it was such a hard thing for me. That’s all I could picture… laying there and saying goodbye to my kids.”

Mah is now cancer-free and his children played a huge part of his healing. They motivated him, kept him going and today, he realizes his outlook on parenting and is quite different.

“[Cancer] made me stop and think,’You know what? Family is the most important to me… I am going to stop take that time and spend it with them.”

Some parents feel guilty after their diagnosis

For others, there is a sense of guilt. A cancer diagnosis could mean extra hospital visits, chemotherapy or extended bed rest — all of which takes time away from a child.

“Talk with your family about expectations and create a new plan for how to enjoy time together,” Turner said.

“For example, maybe you can’t play outside with your child but instead can play a board game or read a book together. The most important thing is that you are maintaining a good connection and making memories.”

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For others, it becomes a loss of identity.

Mary Yusep, 27, is a single mom based in Edmonton. Yusep was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in fall 2018. Her son was five at that time and she didn’t tell him about the diagnosis at first.


Mary Yusep at the hospital. Photo courtesy of Mary Yusep. Art by Laura Whelan

There were some moments during her treatment where Yusep also had to be in isolation. She couldn’t speak with her son or even be in the same room with him.

“It was really heartbreaking,” she says. “It was a bit of a loss of identity. I have a cancer identity and it’s peeling away my motherhood.”

Today she has told her son the details of her diagnosis as well as her healing process. “He [would say], ‘mom don’t forget your medicine.’ It’s a journey that we’re on together.”

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Mary Yusep and her son. Photo: Mimi Siffledeen. Art by Laura Whelan

Parents need more support

Julie Michaud, 38, was first diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in September 2010. By May 2015, her cancer progressed to Stage 4.

“It returned in my sternum and lung,” she told Global News. “Last year it spread to my lungs and liver and a mass on my chest on top of remaining in my sternum.

“I am currently on my fifth round of chemotherapy.”

The Halifax-based woman was devastated. She was 40 weeks pregnant and felt a bump in her breastbone. “All I could think about was I would not see my three children grow up.”


Julie Michaud and her family. Photo courtesy of Julie Michaud. Art by Laura Whelan. 

She finds herself holding onto hope by continuing treatments, but she says the options for parents with terminal cancer get fewer and fewer.

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“We cannot find any immunotherapy options for me within Canada that I can apply for,” she explained.

She says cancer patients need more support, especially those who are parents.

“Treatments exhaust you, appointments take up a lot of time, you get hospitalized, you don’t get to be a normal parent,” she says.

“Fear that this will be the last birthday I see or the last holiday I’ll be a part of is constant, especially with the dwindling options for treatment.”


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Michaud says support is needed for partners, as well.

“We’ve had to rely on friends and family to make everything work,” she continued. “There’s no assistance for partners supporting cancer patients and their children, causing the possibility of burnout. We need more support available for parents with young children.”

For Kingsley Boyer, support also happens when we are honest about our cancer journey. She started documenting her story on social media for other parents to relate.

READ MORE: The stigma of more children after one is sick — Why some parents feel guilty

And growing up in a Sri Lankan and Tamil community, Kingsley Boyer also knows how hush-hush her own family would be if they found out about a family cancer diagnosis. For some communities, cancer is still seen as tucked away or a taboo.

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“We wanted to be as open as possible.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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2Nov

‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child – National

by BBG Hub

Your child will eventually pop the big question — “where do babies come from?” — and your answer will have a lasting impact on the way they think about what it means to be part of a family.

This is especially true if your child was adopted or conceived with donated sperm or egg (also known as third-party reproduction), because their origin story will affect them in many ways as they age,

That’s why, in Shelley Steenrod‘s opinion, it’s crucial to be open and honest with your child. She’s a professor of social work at Salem State University in Massachusetts.

READ MORE: How to build a growth mindset in your kids: ‘They are going to be unstoppable’

“It’s essential for kids to know who they are and where they have come from,” she said. “It’s very important for them to integrate all aspects of themselves and their history into their whole self.”

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If you choose not to tell your child the truth, you run the risk of them finding out later in a different way — like through a DNA test.

“We live in such a high-tech world, children are going to find out one way or another,” said Steenrod. “As the holder of that information, you want to be somebody who shares it with your child in a way that’s going to be loving and nurturing and not surprising.”

Here, Steenrod and other experts share tips for telling your child their unique origin story in a loving way.

Tell the truth from the beginning

Keeping your child’s story a secret can inadvertently associate adoption and third-party reproduction with feelings of “guilt and shame,” said Steenrod.

“Families can be created in all different kinds of ways, and that’s something to be celebrated.”


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That’s why it’s critical to tell the truth from the outset. For Steenrod, this means talking openly about your child’s origin story long before they ask questions about it.

“You’re building it into the narrative of your family’s story and planting seeds that later, can become flowers … you can then tug on and pull on to talk about more complex pieces of adoption,” she said.

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Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant


Why a 27-year-old Canadian woman chose to be single and pregnant

Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Ontario, agrees: “We need to start having these conversations with children right away,” she said.



“We are where we came from.”


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Martyn recommends building the story in a physical way, using something like a scrapbook. This will give your child an item they can go back to and say, “this is where I came from.”

“Emphasize how important they are, how much they were wanted and how much they were loved,” she said. “If this is what they are told early, they’re never going to question it.”

Expect to talk about it often

Your child’s origin story is a big part of who they are, so they’ll likely have questions about it for years to come.

At first, said Steenrod, focus on the basics. “Say ‘I want to tell you how families are made’ and then include all the ways out there,” she said. “Totally normalize it.”

Slowly and when you think they’re ready, reveal to your child a little bit more of the story.






Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea


Why training your child like a dog may be a bad idea

As your child grows up, they’re going to develop the cognitive and emotional resources necessary to have more advanced conversations about it.

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“There may come a time when they start to think, ‘If my birth mom could choose not to keep me, she could have chosen to keep me. Is there something wrong with me?’” said Steenrod.

That’s when you want to re-emphasize “the child’s strengths and how lovable they really are.”

READ MORE: How to stop a bully when it’s your own child

If your child’s origin story contains trauma or some other adult subject matter, it can be tricky to find a good time to tell them the whole truth.

According to Martyn, it’s up to you and your empathy to know when it’s the right time.

“At a very young age, it would be [something along the lines of] ‘your biological mom wasn’t able to take care of you because she was having a hard time,’” she said.






Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids


Challenges of parenting highly sensitive kids

When the child gets old enough, you can elaborate on struggle and pain — feelings that children understand. If their biological mother suffered from addiction, for example, you can explain the science behind addiction.

“All the while, you’re emphasizing that [the child] was your greatest gift,” Martyn said.

Emphasize love, connection and commitment

Many parents worry how this news will affect a child.

Parenting expert Caron Irwin suggests focusing on “tangible examples of the love and connection and commitment that your family has” during and after each discussion.

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“The thing that makes a family is the traditions and the rituals and the love and the connections and the things that you have that are unique among you all,” she said.

If you’re worried, try following the conversation with a “photo album of a special vacation” or “finish up … with the special hug that you have with your child.”

“Those kinds of things are going to … give them security,” she said.

READ MORE: Sisters ‘pre-create’ wedding photos with dad who only has months to live

Martyn backs this up — it can feel like the truth might hurt them, or it might make you less of a parent, but that’s not the case.

“They don’t need to be protected from their origin story,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong. That’s why we have to re-frame it and celebrate these differences.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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2Nov

Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health – National

by BBG Hub

Friendships are an important part of a healthy life, but research shows men struggle to keep them.

Men often have fewer close friends as they age, experts say, which directly impacts their mental well-being.

According to a 2016 survey by U.K.’s Movember organization, men lack “social connectedness.” The survey found one in 10 men couldn’t recall the last time they made contact with their friends, and older men were at greater risk of social isolation.

What’s more, over half of the men surveyed reported having two or less friends they would discuss “a serious topic” with, and 19 per cent of men over 55 said they lacked a close friend — period.

READ MORE: 28 per cent of men believe they could lose their job if they discuss mental health at work

“Men tend to not have deep friendships in the way that many women do, which denies them the opportunity to share deeply personal and emotionally sensitive information with others,” said John Ogrodniczuk, the director of the University of British Columbia’s psychotherapy program and founder of men’s depression resource HeadsUpGuy.

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“Because of this, many men can end up feeling lonely, even though they may indicate that they have friends in their lives. In fact, after surveying more than 5,000 men who had visited HeadsUpGuys, we learned that loneliness is one of the most frequent stressors in men’s lives.”

Why friends are important

A lack of close friendships can negatively affect not only men’s mental health, but overall well-being, says Dr. Ari Zaretsky, the psychiatrist-in-chief at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“Having a social support system has been shown to promote resilience, not only for mental illness but even for physical illness,” Zaretsky said.






How to help take care of your mental health while in school


How to help take care of your mental health while in school

Research also shows that social interactions have a positive effect on life satisfaction.

A recent study on the role of friends found that good-quality friendships help people feel supported. When people have less frequent social interactions, researchers found, they reported lower life satisfaction.

Joshua Beharry, a B.C.-based mental health advocate and project coordinator at HeadsUpGuys, experienced this first-hand. When he was dealing with severe depression 10 years ago, he hid his symptoms from his friends.

He believed he could handle his mental health issues on his own, even as his condition worsened.

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“This led me to basically waiting until I was so sick that I couldn’t hide my symptoms anymore,” Beharry said.

Beharry says his friends realized something was wrong when he kept cancelling plans and became increasingly withdrawn. Once he admitted he was struggling with depression and sought treatment, his friends were supportive.

READ MORE: Cancer can severely damage your mental health. Why don’t we talk about it?

“Instead of having to continue to hide how sick I was from my friends, I could finally be open with them,” Beharry said.


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“They were much more supportive and understanding than I had expected, asking lots of questions about what I was going through and what they could do to help.”

This is not surprising to Zaretsky, who says social support is key to dealing with mental health issues like depression.

While Zaretsky believes in a comprehensive approach when it comes to tackling mental health issues — which can include medication and psychotherapy — friendships are an integral part of the recovery process.






Focusing on men’s mental health


Focusing on men’s mental health

And you don’t need a large group of friends to notice the benefits, Ogrodniczuk points out. The amount of friends one has is less important than the quality of those friendships.

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“Strength is demonstrated by actually allowing yourself to be vulnerable,” Ogrodniczuk said.

“It’s often a very scary thing for many men, but when they actually do open up to others, they find that they deepen their relationships and have a stronger sense of self.”

Why men may have fewer friends

There are a few reasons men may have fewer friendships — especially as they age.

When men get into romantic partnerships, they often become inclined to lean on their spouse for emotional support and therefore put less emphasis on maintaining outside friendships.

READ MORE: Vast majority of workers with mental health issues keep it secret from their boss

“A lot of guys recognize that friendships are important, but don’t make the maintenance of such relationships a priority in their lives, instead prioritizing other things like work and family,” Ogrodniczuk said.

Men may also rely on their partner’s social network, meaning should a separation occur, they are left with fewer close relationships.

Notions of masculinity are also factors. Experts say it’s common for men to view mental health struggles as signs of weakness, and avoid talking to friends about problems as a result.

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Ogrodniczuk says the influence of “masculine socialization” can cause men to doubt what is “permissible” in friendships. For example, men may question whether or not it is OK to tell a friend they need help or open up to them about something serious.

This can lead to more surface-level friendships or acquaintances rather than deep, meaningful friendships. Casual friendships may be harder to maintain, too, experts say.






New study says more men are working themselves to an early grave


New study says more men are working themselves to an early grave

Zaretsky echoes this, adding when men do speak about their issues with others, they’re often self-conscious.

“They sometimes do it reluctantly,” he explained, “and I think that they have difficulty many times with talking about feelings and thoughts.”

How can men improve friendships

So how can more men move past these factors and develop meaningful connections? In order to improve and maintain friendships, men need to recognize the importance of close relationships and make them a priority, Ogrodniczuk said.

If a man is struggling with mental health issues, Ogrodniczuk suggests starting a conversation with someone they trust.

READ MORE: ‘It feels like failure’: Why Canadian workplaces should offer stress leave

“Sometimes it’s as simple as saying something like, ‘I’ve been feeling like sh-t lately and I’m not really sure what’s going on. Can I run some things by you to get your take on them?’” he said.

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Plus, Beharry says stigma around mental health issues is slowly eroding, and there’s less taboo around talking about struggles today than there was 10 years ago.

“There are a lot of male celebrities and athletes who have spoken out about depression as well, which I think goes a long way in opening up important conversations and helping to shed ideas that associate mental health issues with weakness,” he added.

Beharry now understands the benefit of opening up.






Becoming a dad can take a toll on men’s mental health


Becoming a dad can take a toll on men’s mental health

He says since being upfront about his mental health struggles, more men have reached out to him with similar experiences, too.

“Some people are better at listening and others are better at helping you out with tasks and keeping up with life,” he said.

“If the first person you talk to doesn’t really help, don’t get discouraged and shut down more; keep reaching out and building supports.”

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2Nov

Social media can be toxic, but some argue it isn’t as bad as we thought – National

by BBG Hub

Much has been said about the potential negative impacts of social media — especially for young people.

It’s been called addictive, anxiety-inducing and dangerous. In fact, a study recently conducted in the Montreal area reported a link between spending “too much time” on social media or watching television and increased symptoms of depression among teens.

But now, in an effort to shed light on the positive aspects of social media, experts are urging the public to reconsider.

READ MORE: ‘Instagram therapy’ is on the rise, but experts say it could be harmful

Amy Orben, a college research fellow at the University of Cambridge, is one of those experts. In a recent interview with Scientific American, she said the negative headlines about social media seemed sensationalist — so she set out to disprove them.

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She analyzed data from numerous studies about social media use and while going through one linking increases in depression and suicide to screen time, she found what she was looking for.

“I figured out that tweaks to the data analysis caused major changes to the study results,” Orben said in the interview. “The effects were actually tiny.”






Twitter announces ban on all political advertising


Twitter announces ban on all political advertising

In May, Orben published some of her own research on the matter with two other researchers. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, found that technology was no worse for teenagers’ well-being than eating potatoes.

“We found that social media use is not, in and of itself, a strong predictor of life satisfaction across the adolescent population,” researchers said.

“With the unknowns of social media effects still substantially outnumbering the knowns, it is critical that independent scientists, policymakers, and industry researchers cooperate more closely.”


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READ MORE: With social media, you don’t need to grieve alone

“Doing so will provide parents and policymakers with the reliable insights they need on a topic most often characterized by unfounded media hype.”

Julie Smith agrees with Orben’s findings. She’s a media literacy expert and a professor of communications at Webster University in Missouri.

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“I tend to view social media as a tool. It all depends on how it’s used,” she said. “It all depends on how the platforms are used and what the intentions are.”

“You can build things with a hammer, and (you) can destroy things with a hammer.”


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Smith largely blames the news media for the bad reputation pinned to social media.

“Fear is such a great motivator and a great seller,” she said. “People keep watching the news to find out what the next terrible thing is going to be … So we portray social media as something terrible.”

In Smith’s opinion, this does social media a disservice. “We’re not talking about the positives” — of which there are many, Smith said.

The benefits of social media

Smith asked her students how they feel about social media. While some responses were about the bad — like an “inability to determine what’s real and what isn’t” and “the devaluing of some experiences if they aren’t considered post-worthy” — many were about the good.

Among them, students said social media allows them to connect with people “from all over the world” based on shared niche interests, and that it offers “a real chance” for developing entrepreneurial skills.



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“Growing up in this world, they are very aware of the pros and cons,” Smith said.






Mom behind blue bucket Facebook post overwhelmed by global reaction


Mom behind blue bucket Facebook post overwhelmed by global reaction

Smith acknowledges that social media can have a dark side, but she believes there are as many positives — if not more.

“Think of all the jobs that have been created by these platforms that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” she said.

She always encourages her students to use social media as a way to figure out who they are and what they want from the world.

“I tell my students (to) find people who have their dream job … Follow them and follow who they follow,” Smith said. “It’s a way for people to learn about what’s happening in various industries before they even get out of school.”

READ MORE: Twitter announces ban on all political advertising

According to Diane Pacom, the vast amount of information at our fingertips is extremely powerful, and it can be used for good or bad. She’s a professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, and she believes a critical lens is what will make a difference.

“Young people aren’t created equal,” she said.

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“Some aren’t as critical as they should be … They’re the ones who are more vulnerable.”


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How to teach media literacy

Pacom said young people should be taught what it means to be a good “digital citizen” from the outset.

In her view, it requires “a lucidity, a perspective which is there for a common good” and a “knowledge of the different value systems that exist” within the online universe.

“It’s the idea of making young people aware of the dangers, but not only the dangers,” she said. “Show them the negative and positive aspects … exactly the same as regular citizens.”

In teaching youth about media literacy, Smith focuses on coaching instead of preaching.

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“They know so much more about it than we do anyway,” she said.

“Let’s start coaching them on correct ways to build a profile; correct ways to share their skills and talents; correct ways to curate the people you’re following and who’s following you.”

READ MORE: Unplugged: Why these people deleted social media and prefer life offline

She also believes it’s crucial to teach people not only how to use social media, “but how social media is using them.”

“On a lot of free websites … they’re not the customer, they’re the product being sold,” she said. “I’m not sure they understand that.”

“The biggest highway in (your city) has terrible parts and it has easy parts. It’s a part of life. You have to learn to deal with the traffic no matter what.”


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The need for nuance

When it comes to discussions about social media in the media and beyond, Jenna Jacobson said context and nuance are critical.

“There’s some research that points to the negative sides of social media … but there needs to be a focus on the context and the content,” said Jacobson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Retail Management in Toronto.

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READ MORE: Inside the ‘Wild West’ of social media influencer marketing

“Everyday, there are new changes … Rather than a net positive or a net negative, I think it’s more interesting to see how individuals are using the platforms, the governance of the platforms.”

She argues that media literacy is necessary for all generations — not just young people. “We need to understand the terms and conditions, the privacy policies, the algorithms, the black box practices that we don’t talk enough about,” she said.

But Jacobson also advocates for accountability on the part of individual social media platforms.

READ MORE: Is generation Z glued to technology? ‘It’s not an addiction; it’s an extension of themselves’

“Being able to determine what is a fake social media account, being able … to adjust our privacy settings, being able to understand that we’re not seeing all sides, we’re not seeing the full picture based on our friend’s posts, that there’s algorithms at play,” she said.

“We are now starting to look to the platforms to say, ‘there needs to be changes.’”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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31Oct

20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Why do women still feel guilty? – National

by BBG Hub

Michelle Bilodeau wasn’t even sure she wanted to have kids, but after meeting her now-husband, she realized she was open to trying.

“I started seeing myself as a mother, likely because I had found a person who I could see myself going through parenthood with,” Bilodeau, 40, told Global News.

When the Toronto resident discovered she was pregnant in October 2015 — a little more than a year after the couple had gotten married — she was both nervous and excited.

READ MORE: Women share experiences for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Days after she found out, Bilodeau had to take a five-day work trip to British Columbia. She returned home with some back pain but brushed it off as a symptom of flying for several hours.

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She woke up the next morning and spot bleeding. She looked it up online and found some spotting is relatively normal during the early stages of pregnancy — she tried not to worry. But by the time she got into work, there was a lot more blood.

Bilodeau went to see her doctor, who confirmed the grim news: she was having a miscarriage.






What is a molar pregnancy?


What is a molar pregnancy?

She had only been pregnant for around six weeks and had only known about it for a few days, but it was still extremely traumatizing.

“It was really early, obviously, but you get really attached to the idea,” Bilodeau said. After returning home from the doctor’s office, she stayed in bed for 24 hours straight.

“It really was pretty devastating.”


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But Bilodeau returned to work the next day in an effort to “push away” her negative feelings about it.

“I didn’t want to reflect too hard on what had happened,” she said.

She worried that she had done something — perhaps the travel, the work, drinking alcohol before she knew she was pregnant — to trigger the miscarriage.

READ MORE: Using ibuprofen, other common painkillers around time of conception linked to miscarriage risk — study

“I also thought that because I didn’t really know if I had wanted a child, that maybe I’d willed it in some way,” she said.

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“Even after talking to my GP, who said that miscarriages are generally biological and not caused by one particular thing, I still felt like I maybe contributed to it.”






Meghan Markle opens up about the stress of being in the spotlight as a new mom


Meghan Markle opens up about the stress of being in the spotlight as a new mom

Roughly 15 to 20 per cent of Canadian pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC).

And like Bilodeau, most women who experience pregnancy loss have feelings of grief, guilt and remorse.

A 2013 study found that after a miscarriage, 30 to 50 per cent of women experience anxiety and 10 to 15 per cent experience depression, typically lasting up to four months.

READ MORE: Mother who had multiple miscarriages reflects on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

In her work, Dr. Kim Garbedian, a doctor at the Hannam Fertility Centre in Toronto, has seen how miscarriages can affect a person. She’s constantly trying to evolve the way victims of pregnancy loss are cared for, both physically and mentally.

“The important thing for patients to realize is there’s two parts to healing from the miscarriage,” she said.

“The bleeding is gone and the cramping is gone, but the emotional symptoms are still there — and that’s OK.”


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In her work, Garbedian encourages patients to “take a step back after and focus a little bit more on themselves.” Since everyone is different, healing will look different for everyone.

“Some patients want to dive right back into work because that’s how they cope best, but other people actually need a week off to just take a minute,” she said.



“I think both strategies are OK, and that’s our job — to help the patients figure out what’s best for them.”

Stigma can make the experience even more isolating

There’s a stigma around miscarriages and other forms of pregnancy loss, and it can further damage people who have lost pregnancies. Bilodeau experienced this first-hand.

After her miscarriage, Bilodeau was ashamed and racked with guilt. At first, she only told her boss and two of her closest friends, but that was it.

READ MORE: Why women shouldn’t feel pressured to wait to announce their pregnancy

“A few months before I miscarried, I had met up with a work colleague for coffee and she told me about having a miscarriage, and we discussed how women didn’t talk about miscarriages,” she said. “We thought that it was an awful thing for women to go through in silence.

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“Because miscarriages are generally hidden from society, I feel like it was hard for me to open up.


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“Once I was a few months away from it, I remembered that conversation with my colleague and I knew that telling my story could potentially help other women so I became much more vocal about it.”

Bilodeau started going to therapy earlier this year, and it’s something she discusses with her therapist as well.

For Garbedian, talking about pregnancy loss and educating people is the first step to ending the stigma.

The different kinds of pregnancy loss

According to the SOGC, there are two main types of pregnancy loss: miscarriage and stillbirth.

Most miscarriages happen in the first eight weeks, while stillbirths typically happen after 20 weeks of gestational age.

“The most common reason for a first-trimester miscarriage (before 13 weeks) would be abnormal chromosomes,” said Garbedian. “Probably about 70 per cent of all early pregnancy loss is due to abnormal chromosomes — meaning that the parents both have completely normal genetics, but either the wrong sperm or egg is chosen.”






Why pregnant women should get the flu and whooping cough vaccine


Why pregnant women should get the flu and whooping cough vaccine

She says that while pregnancy loss is still devastating, abnormal chromosomes is the “answer we want” because “it means, most likely, everything else is OK and it was just a spontaneous event.”

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“That really is the bulk of abnormal pregnancies in the first trimester,” she said. The risk of miscarriage increases in women older than 40.

Miscarriage in the second trimester (after 13 weeks) would require more investigation and testing, said Garbedian.

READ MORE: TV anchor’s abnormal pregnancy causes cancer — ‘Unfortunate, dumb luck’

A stillbirth is typically more traumatizing because it happens “after the patient has known they’re pregnant for several weeks,” Garbedian said.

“They’ve usually had ultrasounds [and] usually an anatomy scan so they’ve actually seen the baby … and the heartbeat.”

After about five months of pregnancy, a loss can be extremely difficult to process.

“That’s quite a bit down the road … [they’re] very emotional experiences.” 

Getting pregnant again

It took Bilodeau awhile before she was ready to try to get pregnant again.

According to Garbedian, being nervous or scared is completely normal. The most important thing is that a person’s doctor is doing everything they can to reassure them that it’s OK to try again.

“Reassure them that it’s normal and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with their uterus or … their eggs or their sperm,” she said.






Things you may not know about your baby bump and pregnancy


Things you may not know about your baby bump and pregnancy

Being able to say “we did all the tests to rule out anything that could reoccur in other pregnancies” is Garbedian’s goal in her work.

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“The important part … for us is to always treat patients as individuals. Some people need no reassurance whatsoever and they’re really quickly ready to go into another pregnancy, and other patients actually just need to take a break,” she said. “I think both are OK.”

It took Bilodeau about five months to be ready to try again, and when she did, she got pregnant almost immediately. She and her husband were really excited, but she was also more nervous because of what happened the first time.

READ MORE: Baby bumps aren’t all the same size — here’s why

“My miscarriage definitely influenced my pregnancy. I was very nervous the entire time,” she said. “Anytime there was like a cramp or a little pain or something, I would worry that there was something wrong.”

As she was dealing with this unique mix of emotions, people around Bilodeau began to call her second pregnancy a “rainbow baby.”

The term was coined to describe the baby you have after a pregnancy loss, and it’s supposed to symbolize feelings of hope and renewal — but for Bilodeau, it didn’t sit right.






One-third of pregnant women think cannabis is okay to use during pregnancy, review says


One-third of pregnant women think cannabis is okay to use during pregnancy, review says

“It kind of trivialized things for me,” she said. “I’ve never referred to my daughter as a rainbow baby.”

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However, she understands how it could help other women be more open and honest with their experience.

I know it’s a way for women to talk about miscarriage because … it’s so hard for women to talk about,” she said. “But I think women should be open enough to say they had a miscarriage and call it what it is — which is a miscarriage.

“We should be allowed to talk about it. We should talk about it, especially with each other, because it happens so frequently.”


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30Oct

Cursing helps you crush your workout, experts say – National

by BBG Hub

Do you feel like swearing whenever you’re on a stair climber? If so, it may be a good idea to let those F-bombs out.

Research from the U.K.’s Keele University and Long Island University Brooklyn has found that swearing during exercise can improve performance and even help you deal with pain. The findings, recently published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, say cussing can boost both physical power and strength.

During one experiment, researchers asked participants on a stationary bike to swear while peddling. They found that using foul language produced a 4.6 per cent increase in initial power during a 30-second cycling test compared to those who didn’t curse.

READ MORE: New to working out? Here’s how to overcome exercise anxiety

In a separate test, swearing also resulted in an eight per cent increase in maximum handgrip strength over non-swearing subjects.

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“Swearing appears to be able to bring about improvements in physical performance that may not be solely dependent on a stress response arising out of the shock value of the swearing,” Richard Stephens, the study’s co-author and professor of psychology at Keele University, said in a statement.

“We know that swearing appears to be handled in brain regions not usually associated with language processing. It is possible that activation of these areas by swearing could produce performance improvements across many different domains.”

Wait, so how does swearing boost workouts?

One reason why swearing can improve workouts is because it raises our pain threshold, research suggests.



Previous research done by Stephens found that cursing can have a “pain-lessening effect.”






How exercise can help students get better grades


How exercise can help students get better grades

In one study, Stephens and his research team asked some participants to stick their hand in ice-cold water and cuss, then do it again using non-offensive words.

The team found that “swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing.”

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why bad words are linked to a reduction in pain but think swearing can trigger humans’ “fight-or-flight” response.

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When our bodies are in this heightened mode, certain hormones are released that help the body react to possible danger. This state can help us perform in tough situations.

READ MORE: Here’s why you might ‘black out’ when you’re anxious

Researchers suggest the accelerated heart rates of the volunteers who swore indicate an increase in aggression, which reflects the common fight-or-flight response of “downplaying feebleness” to appear stronger and more pain-tolerant.

“What is clear is that swearing triggers not only an emotional response but a physical one, too, which may explain why the centuries-old practice of cursing developed and still persists today,” researchers wrote.

Swearing may also be a distraction method.






If obesity runs in your family, you may want to start jogging


If obesity runs in your family, you may want to start jogging

According to David Spierer, the co-author of the swearing and exercise study and a professor health science at Long Island University, using curse words during exercise might divert your attention.

“Cursing may allow people to shut down their inhibitions and somewhat veil the effort and the pain of this really difficult task,” Spierer said in a statement.

“Using swear words might be helpful in any circumstance where muscle strength and a sudden burst of force or speed is required.”

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So next time you’re at the gym, try letting out a few curse words — just be sure you don’t scream them.

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29Oct

More pregnant women are using cannabis despite its dangers: study – National

by BBG Hub

More pregnant women are using cannabis, research shows, despite warnings of its danger from health officials.



According to a recent U.S. study, the number of women who use cannabis while expecting has increased, and the number of women who use cannabis in the year before pregnancy has nearly doubled.

Researchers surveyed 276,991 expectant mothers in northern California and found the number of women who said they used cannabis in the year before their pregnancy grew from 6.8 per cent in 2009 to 12.5 per cent in 2017.

READ MORE: More Ontario women using cannabis while pregnant despite warnings

While the number of women who reported using the drug while pregnant was smaller, it still increased from 1.9 per cent to 3.4 per cent during the same time.

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Among the women who reported using the drug while expecting, daily cannabis use increased from 15 per cent in 2009 to 21 per cent in 2017.

The findings, published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, suggest that increased acceptance of cannabis use and a lack of awareness around fetal harm are factors in the uptick.

The researchers point out that evidence suggests heavier cannabis use might be “associated with worse neonatal health outcomes.”

“Despite this risk, however, U.S. data suggest that 71 per cent of pregnant women who used cannabis in the past year perceive no or slight risk in using cannabis once or twice a week,” the researchers wrote.






One year of legal cannabis


One year of legal cannabis

Another study by the U.S.’s National Institute on Drug Abuse yielded similar results.

Data collected from 467,100 pregnant women across the U.S. showed past-month cannabis use, daily cannabis use, and occurrence of cannabis use had all increased over the last 15 years.

Between 2002 to 2003 and 2016 to 2017, past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4 per cent to seven per cent among pregnant women overall.

During their first trimester, 12 per cent of women reported using the drug as of 2017, up from just under six per cent in 2003.

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What are the risks of using cannabis while pregnant?

The FDA recently released a warning about women using cannabis while expecting or breastfeeding, saying that “marijuana use during pregnancy may affect fetal brain development.”

If a woman uses the drug while pregnant, THC — a cannabinoid found in cannabis — can enter the fetal brain from the mother’s bloodstream, the FDA says.

READ MORE: Cannabis during pregnancy linked to higher risk of pre-term birth

The government agency also said if a mother uses cannabis while breastfeeding, it can remain in breast milk. This exposure can affect a newborn’s brain development and “result in hyperactivity, poor cognitive function, and other long-term consequences.”

The U.S.’s National Institutes of Health also raised concern around expectant moms and cannabis.

“Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with effects on fetal growth, including low birth weight and length, and these outcomes may be more likely among women who consume marijuana frequently during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters,” the NIH wrote.

A recent study out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute found that cannabis use in pregnancy was associated with “significant increases in the rate of preterm birth.”

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Why are women using cannabis while pregnant?

Canadian researchers say more women are using cannabis during pregnancy because they are not informed of its risks.






Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis


Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis

Research out of the University of British Columbia found that around one-third of pregnant women think it’s safe to use cannabis while expecting and are unaware of potential health risks to their child.

The findings, published earlier this year in the journal Preventive Medicine, looked at data from six U.S. studies and found that “more women seem to be using cannabis during pregnancy than ever before, even though evidence of its safety is limited and conflicting.”

The UBC researchers found that one of the main reasons women may think cannabis is safe is because there’s not enough communication between patients and doctors when it comes to the drug.

READ MORE: Study finds ‘scarce evidence’ to support cannabis as a treatment for mental health disorders

“We know that from other types of research that when there’s no communication and there is lots of uncertainty in literature — which is true for cannabis use — then it is very important that health-care providers … educate [patients] about risk,” Hamideh Bayrampour, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at UBC’s Department of Family Practice, previously told Global News.

“When there’s no communication, women may feel like [cannabis use] is not significant or important.”

Bayrampour added that her findings also indicate that many women don’t consider cannabis to be a drug, or that it’s a harmful one.

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