Saturday, May 30, 2020
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A recent review and meta-analysis have investigated whether a plant pigment called quercetin could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In particular, the authors identified that quercetin reduced blood pressure.

Chopped red onion
A compound that occurs naturally in a range of fruits and vegetables, including red onion, may help reduce blood pressure.

Globally, cardiovascular disease is responsible for about 17.3 million deaths each year. As the population’s average age increases, experts expect cardiovascular disease to rise in step.

Researchers have identified a range of lifestyle factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as poor diet, low physical activity, smoking, and consuming alcohol. Certain biological markers, including high blood pressure, raised serum lipids, and high blood glucose levels, also predict cardiovascular disease.

Although lifestyle and medical interventions benefit most individuals, they do not work for everyone. For this reason, some researchers are focused on identifying novel ways to reduce cardiovascular risk.

Introducing quercetin

Researchers from Dongguan Shilong People’s Hospital of Southern Medical University in China are interested in quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid that naturally occurs in a range of foods, including vegetables, fruits, wine, nuts, red onions, kale, and black tea.

According to the authors of the recent review, “Accumulating evidence indicates that quercetin possesses protective anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant effects and may be useful in treating a myriad of chronic conditions.”

However, despite some encouraging results, human studies — rather than animal studies or experiments on tissues — have produced inconsistent results. To date, researchers have carried out few meta-analyses to examine the pooled findings of these studies.

To address this issue, the authors of the current paper analyzed studies that investigated quercetin’s influence over a range of cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure, lipid profiles, and glucose levels. They published their findings in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

Reanalyzing recent studies

In their analysis, the scientists only included research papers that met certain criteria. All of the studies were randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials that had investigated the effect of quercetin for 2 weeks or more and had involved adults.

The scientists identified 17 relevant papers, which involved a total of 896 participants. The studies took place in six countries: Iran, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Korea.

Overall, they identified no significant effect of quercetin on glucose levels or lipid profiles. However, when they only analyzed data from trials that used a parallel design and lasted 8 weeks or longer, quercetin did appear to improve levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and triglycerides.

A study with a parallel design is one in which researchers compare two or more treatments; for instance, comparing the effects of quercetin against those of a control.

The greatest benefit of quercetin, however, was its effect on blood pressure. The findings showed that quercetin lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The authors write:

“The main conclusion was that dietary intake of quercetin significantly lowered [blood pressure].”

Benefits for blood pressure

Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts, and diastolic blood pressure is the blood pressure when the heart is resting between beats. As an example, if someone’s blood pressure is 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), the first number refers to systolic pressure, and the second number denotes diastolic pressure.

On average, quercetin reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.09 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.86 mm Hg.

The authors explain that “a reduction in [blood pressure] of more than 10 mm Hg lowers cardiovascular risk by 50% for heart failure, by 35–40% for stroke, and by approximately 20–25% for myocardial infarction.”

The authors believe that “[t]he favorable effects of quercetin on [blood pressure] found in the current investigation support the use of quercetin as an adjunctive therapy in patients with hypertension.”

In other words, quercetin might enhance the benefits of taking hypertension medication and making lifestyle changes, thus helping reduce cardiovascular risk.

Limitations and holes

As the authors explain, the results are not yet conclusive, and many questions remain. They note that the changes in blood pressure varied depending on the type of quercetin formulation and how long the trials lasted.

The authors also noticed substantial differences among the findings of the studies. These differences might be, in part, due to the size of the trials in the analysis: Four of the 17 trials included fewer than 30 participants.

There were also differences in the design of the studies and the age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) of the participants. These differences make it difficult to generalize and compare among experiments.

Overall, the results are promising, but scientists need to conduct larger, longer-term clinical trials before they can confirm the full benefits of quercetin. If the compound eventually proves to reduce cardiovascular risk, it could benefit vast swathes of the population.

Anxiety commonly causes a change in appetite. Some people with anxiety tend to overeat or consume a lot of unhealthful foods. Others, however, lose their desire to eat when they feel stressed and anxious.

Anxiety is a mental health condition that affects 40 million adults in the United States each year. Changes in appetite are one of many possible symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about the link between anxiety and a loss of appetite, some potential remedies and treatments for the problem, and some other common causes of appetite loss.

Anxiety and appetite loss

When someone starts to feel stressed or anxious, their body begins to release stress hormones. These hormones activate the sympathetic nervous system and trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response.

The fight-or-flight response is an instinctive reaction that attempts to keep people safe from potential threats. It physically prepares the body to either stay and fight a threat or run away to safety.

This sudden surge of stress hormones has several physical effects. For example, research suggests that one of the hormones — corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) — affects the digestive system and may lead to the suppression of appetite.

Another hormone, cortisol, increases gastric acid secretion to speed the digestion of food so that the person can fight or flee more efficiently.

Other digestive effects of the fight-or-flight response can include:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • indigestion
  • nausea

This response can cause additional physical symptoms, such as an increase in breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. It also causes muscle tension, pale or flushed skin, and shakiness.

Some of these physical symptoms can be so uncomfortable that people have no desire to eat. Feeling constipated, for example, can make the thought of eating seem very unappetizing.

Overeating vs. appetite loss

People who have persistent anxiety or an anxiety disorder are more likely to have long-term heightened levels of CRF hormones in their system. As a result, these individuals may be more likely to experience a prolonged loss of appetite.

On the other hand, people who experience anxiety less frequently may be more likely to seek comfort from food and overeat. However, everyone reacts differently to anxiety and stress, whether it is chronic or short-term.

In fact, the same person may react differently to mild anxiety and high anxiety. Mild stress may, for example, cause a person to overeat. If that person experiences severe anxiety, however, they may lose their appetite. Another person may respond in the opposite way.

Men and women may also react differently to anxiety in terms of their food choices and consumption.

One study indicates that women may eat more calories when anxious. The study also links higher anxiety with a higher body mass index (BMI) in women but not in men.

Remedies and treatment

Individuals who experience a loss of appetite due to anxiety should take steps to address the issue. Long-term appetite loss can lead to health problems. Potential remedies and treatments include:

1. Understanding anxiety

Simply realizing that sources of stress can trigger physical sensations can go some way toward reducing anxiety and its symptoms.

2. Addressing sources of anxiety

Identifying and dealing with anxiety triggers can sometimes help people regain their appetite. Where possible, individuals should work to eliminate or reduce stressors.

If this proves challenging, a person may wish to consider working with a therapist who can help them manage anxiety triggers.

3. Practicing stress management

Several techniques can effectively reduce or control anxiety symptoms, including appetite loss. Examples include:

  • deep breathing exercises
  • guided imagery practice
  • meditation
  • mindfulness
  • progressive muscle relaxation

4. Choosing nutritious, easily digestible foods

If people cannot eat much, they should ensure that what they do eat is nutrient-rich. Some good choices include:

  • soups containing a protein source and a variety of vegetables
  • meal-replacement shakes
  • smoothies containing fruits, green leafy vegetables, fat, and protein

It is also a good idea to opt for easily digestible foods that will not further upset the digestive system. Examples include rice, white potato, steamed vegetables, and lean proteins.

People with symptoms of anxiety may also find it beneficial to avoid foods that are high in fat, salt, or sugar, as well as high-fiber foods, which can be difficult to digest.

It can also help to limit the consumption of drinks containing caffeine and alcohol, as these often cause digestive problems.

5. Eating regularly

Getting into a regular eating pattern can help the body and brain regulate hunger cues.

Even if someone can only manage a few bites at each mealtime, this will be better than nothing. Over time, they can increase the amount that they eat at each sitting.

6. Making other healthful lifestyle choices

When a person is anxious, they may find it difficult to exercise or sleep. However, both sleep and physical activity can reduce anxiety and increase appetite.

Individuals should try to get enough sleep each night by setting a regular sleep schedule.

They should also aim to exercise most days. Even short bursts of gentle exercise can be helpful. People who are new to exercise can start small and increase the duration and intensity of activities over time.

When to see a doctor

People should see a doctor if their appetite loss persists for 2 weeks or more, or if they lose weight rapidly. A doctor can check for an underlying physical condition that may be causing symptoms.

If the loss of appetite is purely a result of stress, a doctor can suggest ways to manage the anxiety, including therapy and lifestyle changes.

They may also prescribe medication to those with chronic or severe anxiety.

Other causes of appetite loss

Anxiety is not the only cause of appetite loss. Other possible causes include:

  • Depression: As with anxiety, feeling depressed can cause a loss of appetite in some people but lead others to overeat.
  • Gastroenteritis: Also known as a stomach bug, gastroenteritis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
  • Medication: Some medications, including antibiotics and certain pain relievers, can reduce appetite. They can also cause side effects that include diarrhea or constipation.
  • Intense exercise: Some people, especially endurance athletes, experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and intestinal cramping after periods of intense activity, which may result in a loss of appetite.
  • Pregnancy: Some pregnant women may lose their appetite due to morning sickness or because of pressure on the stomach.
  • Illness: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, can lead to a reduction in appetite.
  • Aging: Appetite loss is common among older adults, possibly due to a loss of taste and smell or because of illness or medication use.

Summary

Anxiety can cause a loss of appetite or an increase in appetite. These effects are primarily due to hormonal changes in the body, but some people may also avoid eating as a result of the physical sensations of anxiety.

Individuals who experience chronic or severe anxiety should see their doctor.

Sometimes, there may be other reasons for appetite loss that also require treatment.

Once a person addresses the anxiety, their appetite will typically return. Without treatment, long-term appetite loss and chronic anxiety can have serious health consequences.

Adnexal masses are lumps that occur in the adnexa of the uterus, which includes the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. They have several possible causes, which can be gynecological or nongynecological.

An adnexal mass could be:

  • an ovarian cyst
  • an ectopic pregnancy
  • a benign tumor
  • a malignant tumor

A family doctor can usually manage benign masses. However, prepubescent and postmenopausal individuals will need to see a gynecologist or oncologist.

Malignant adnexal masses require treatment from a specialist.

In this article, we discuss the characteristics of adnexal masses. We also review how doctors diagnose and treat adnexal them.

Symptoms

People report different symptoms, depending on the cause of the adnexal mass.

People with an adnexal mass may report:

  • severe lower abdominal or pelvic pain that is usually on one side
  • abnormal bleeding from the uterus
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • worsening pain during a period
  • painful periods
  • abnormally heavy bleeding during periods
  • abdominal symptoms, including a feeling of fullness, bloating, constipation, difficulty eating, increased abdominal size, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting
  • urinary urgency, frequency, or incontinence
  • weight loss
  • lack of energy
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • vaginal discharge

Different causes of adnexal masses may have similar symptoms, so doctors usually conduct further investigations to determine the exact cause.

Once the doctor has worked out the cause of the adnexal mass, they can recommend treatment and management.

Causes

Adnexal masses include a variety of different conditions that range in severity from benign growths to malignant tumors.

The cause of adnexal masses could be gynecological or nongynecological.

Some of the causes of adnexal masses include:

  • Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy where the fertilized egg implants somewhere outside the uterus.
  • Endometrioma: A benign cyst on the ovary that contains thick, old blood that appears brown.
  • Leiomyoma: A benign gynecological tumor, also known as a fibroid.
  • Ovarian cancer: These tumors of the ovary may be ovarian epithelial cancers that begin in the cells on the surface of the ovary or malignant germ cell cancers that begin in the eggs.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease: Inflammation of the upper genital tract, which includes the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It occurs due to an infection.
  • Tubo-ovarian abscess: An infectious adnexal mass that forms because of pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Ovarian torsion: A gynecological emergency involving a complete or partial rotation of the tissue that supports the ovary, which cuts off blood flow to the ovary.

Diagnosis

A doctor may diagnose an adnexal mass by:

  • taking a complete medical history
  • asking questions about symptoms
  • conducting a physical examination
  • obtaining blood samples

Most of the time, people will need a transvaginal ultrasound to allow doctors to evaluate the characteristics of an adnexal mass.

Females who have had a positive pregnancy test result and report abdominal or pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding might have an ectopic pregnancy. An ovarian torsion causes sudden, severe pain with nausea and vomiting. Immediate medical attention is necessary to treat both an ectopic pregnancy and ovarian torsion.

People with pelvic inflammatory disease or a tubo-ovarian abscess may experience gradual pelvic pain with nausea and vaginal bleeding.

Early ovarian cancer may sometimes present with nonspecific symptoms. Sometimes, doctors may only detect cancer when the tumor has become malignant.

Malignant tumors may have one or several of the following characteristics:

  • a solid component of the tumor
  • parts of the tumor have thick divisions larger than 2–3 centimeters separating them
  • they are present on both sides of the reproductive tract
  • the presence of fluid filled lumps

Treatment

A doctor will choose the most appropriate treatment depending on the cause of the adnexal mass. Women with an ectopic pregnancy will have to end their pregnancy. A doctor may choose one of the following procedures:

  • the administration of a single or two-dose intramuscular methotrexate
  • laparoscopic surgery
  • a salpingostomy or salpingectomy, which are surgical procedures involving the fallopian tubes

Doctors have not yet determined the optimal management of an endometrioma, according to a study that featured in Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey.

Currently, the possible treatments for an endometrioma include:

  • watchful waiting
  • medical therapy
  • surgical intervention
  • inducing ovulation and using assisted reproductive technology in females with infertility

People with pelvic inflammatory disease will require courses of intravenous antibiotics, which may include:

  • cefotetan (Cefotan)
  • cefoxitin (Mefoxin)
  • clindamycin (Cleocin)

Some people can receive treatment outside of the hospital setting with oral doxycycline (Vibramycin) and intramuscular ceftriaxone (Rocephin) or another third generation cephalosporin antibiotic. In some cases, doctors will need to add oral metronidazole (Flagyl).

In the past, tubo-ovarian abscesses required surgical removal of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. However, doctors can now prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics. A person with a ruptured tubo-ovarian abscess may still require surgery.

Ovarian torsion is a gynecological emergency. The only treatment is surgery to prevent severe damage to the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

People with leiomyomas or fibroids may receive hormonal treatments or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to control the symptoms. Once a person stops taking medication, the symptoms may return, and the fibroids may continue to grow. Surgery is the most successful treatment for fibroids.

The treatment options for ovarian cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Oncologists will consider the following factors before recommending a treatment plan:

  • the type of ovarian cancer and how much cancer is present
  • the stage and grade of the cancer
  • whether the person has a buildup of fluid in the abdomen causing swelling
  • whether surgery can remove the whole tumor
  • genetic changes
  • the person’s age and general health status
  • whether it is a new diagnosis, or if cancer has come back

Risk factors

Risk factors depend on the cause of the adnexal mass. Females with ovarian masses have an increased risk of developing ovarian torsion. More than 80% of females with ovarian torsion have masses of 5 cm or larger.

Doctors diagnose fibroids in about 70% of white females and more than 80% of black females by the age of 50 years. Other factors may increase a person’s risk of developing fibroids, such as:

  • starting periods early in life
  • using oral contraceptives before 16 years of age
  • an increase in body mass index (BMI)

Ovarian cancer can run in families. People with a family history of ovarian cancer may have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Other risk factors include:

  • inherited genetic changes
  • hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer
  • endometriosis
  • postmenopausal hormonal therapy
  • obesity
  • tall height

The likelihood of developing cancer also tends to increase with age.

Summary

Adnexal masses are lumps that doctors may find in the adnexal of the uterus, which is the part of the body that houses the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Not all masses are cancerous, and they do not all require treatment.

Different types of adnexal mass can share many of the same symptoms. As a result, doctors need to collect a full medical history and data from physical examinations, blood tests, and medical imaging, including transvaginal ultrasounds.

Doctors need to pinpoint the location and cause of an adnexal mass to determine the appropriate management and treatment.

Can diet impact mental health? A new review takes a look at the evidence. Overall, the authors conclude that although nutrition certainly does appear to have an impact, there are still many gaps in our knowledge.

Nutrition is big business, and the public is growing increasingly interested in how food affects health. At the same time, mental health has become a huge focus for scientists and the general population alike.

It is no surprise, then, that interest in the impact of food on mental health, or “nutritional psychiatry,” is also gathering momentum.

Supermarkets and advertisements inform us all, at great volume, about superfoods, probiotics, prebiotics, fad diets, and supplements. All of the above, they tell us, will boost our body and our mind.

Despite the confidence of marketing executives and food manufacturers, the evidence linking the food we eat to our state of mind is less clear-cut and nowhere near as definitive as some advertising slogans would have us believe.

At the same time, the authors of the new review explain, “neuropsychiatric disorders represent some of the most pressing societal challenges of our time.” If it is possible to prevent or treat these conditions with simple dietary changes, it would be life changing for millions of people.

This topic is complex and convoluted, but trying to understand the nuances is vital work.

Recently, a group of researchers reviewed the existing research into nutrition and mental health. They have now published their findings in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

The authors assessed the current evidence to gain a clearer understanding of the true influence of food on mental health. They also looked for holes in our knowledge, uncovering areas that need increased scientific attention.

It makes sense

That diet might affect mood makes good sense. First and foremost, our brains need nutrients to function. Also, the food we eat directly influences other factors that can impact mood and cognition, such as gut bacteria, hormones, neuropeptides, and neurotransmitters.

However, gleaning information about how specific types of diet influence specific mental health issues is incredibly challenging.

The reviewers found, for instance, that a number of large cross-sectional population studies demonstrate a relationship between certain nutrients and mental health. However, it is impossible, from this type of study, to determine whether or not food itself is driving these changes in mental health.

At the other end of the scale, well-controlled dietary intervention studies that are better at proving causation tend to recruit smaller numbers of participants and only run for a short period of time.

Lead author Prof. Suzanne Dickson, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, explains the overarching theme of the team’s findings:

“We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence.”

Some specifics

One diet that has received a great deal of attention during the past few years is the Mediterranean diet. According to the recent review, there is some relatively strong evidence to suggest that the Mediterranean diet can benefit mental health.

In their review, the authors explain how “a systematic review combining a total of 20 longitudinal and 21 cross-sectional studies provided compelling evidence that a Mediterranean diet can confer a protective effect against depression.”

They also found strong evidence to suggest that making some dietary changes can help people with certain conditions. For instance, children with drug resistant epilepsy have fewer seizures when they follow a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates.

Also, people with vitamin B-12 deficiencies experience lethargy, fatigue, and memory problems. These deficiencies are also linked with psychosis and mania. For these people, vitamin B-12 supplementation can significantly improve mental well-being.

However, as the authors point out, it is not at all clear if vitamin B-12 would make a significant difference to people who are not clinically defined as deficient.

Much left to learn

For many of the questions the researchers explored in this review, it was not possible to reach firm conclusions. For instance, in the case of vitamin D, some research has concluded that supplementation improves working memory and attention in older adults. Other studies have found that using vitamin D supplements might reduce the risk of depression.

However, many of these studies were small, and other, similar studies have concluded that vitamin D does not have any impact on mental health.

As the review’s authors point out, because “a substantial proportion of the general population has a vitamin D deficiency,” understanding its role in mental health is important.

Similarly, the evidence for a nutritional role in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was quite mixed.

As Prof. Dickson outlines: “[W]e can see [that] an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet seems to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions. But there are comparatively few studies, and many of them don’t last long enough to show long-term effects.”

“There is a general belief that dietary advice for mental health is based on solid scientific evidence. In reality, it is very difficult to prove that specific diets or specific dietary components contribute to mental health.”

Prof. Suzanne Dickson

The authors go on to explain some of the inherent difficulties in studying the impact of diet on mental health, and they offer some ideas for the future. Overall, Prof. Dickson concludes:

“Nutritional psychiatry is a new field. The message of this paper is that the effects of diet on mental health are real, but that we need to be careful about jumping to conclusions on the base of provisional evidence. We need more studies on the long-term effects of everyday diets.”

Lower abdominal pain is pain that occurs below a person’s belly button. Bloating refers to a feeling of pressure or fullness in the abdomen, or a visibly distended abdomen. Sometimes, these symptoms occur together.

Though occasional lower abdominal pain and bloating are common, a person should speak to their doctor if it becomes a regular occurrence. In some cases, this combination of symptoms may indicate an underlying issue that requires medical treatment.

Keep reading for more information on some of the more common causes of abdominal pain and bloating. We also outline various treatment options for this combination of symptoms.

Causes of both abdominal pain and bloating

There are several causes of combined lower abdominal pain (LAP) and bloating. Some relatively harmless, or benign, causes include:

  • consumption of high fat foods
  • swallowing too much air
  • stress

In some cases, LAP and bloating can occur as a result of an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • constipation
  • food intolerances, such as lactose or gluten intolerance
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), although this more commonly causes upper abdominal pain-gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that causes vomiting and diarrhoea
  • diverticulitis, which is inflammation or infection of part of the large intestine
  • ileus, which is a condition that slows the function of the small and large intestine
  • delayed stomach emptying, or gastroparesis, which is a complication of diabetes mellitus
  • intestinal obstruction
  • inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)

Other conditions that can cause LAP and bloating are specific to females. These include:

  • menstrual pain
  • endometriosis
  • ovarian cysts
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • pregnancy
  • ectopic pregnancy

LAP and bloating can also be due to conditions that do not necessarily affect the stomach, intestines, or reproductive organs. These conditions include;

  • drug allergies
  • side effects of certain medications
  • hernia
  • cystitis, or infection of the urinary tract infection
  • appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix
  • kidney stones

When to see a doctor

If the cause of LAP and bloating is relatively benign, symptoms should go away within a few hours to days.

A person should see a doctor if:

  • their symptoms last longer than a few days
  • their symptoms begin to interfere with their daily life
  • they are pregnant and are unsure of the cause of LAP and bloating

People should seek immediate medical attention if vomiting or the inability to pass gas occur alongside LAP and bloating.

People who experience LAP and bloating along with one or more of the following symptoms should seek emergency medical attention:

  • sudden worsening of pain
  • fever
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • bloody stool
  • unexplained weight loss
  • severe nausea and vomiting

Diagnosis

To make a diagnosis, a doctor will begin by carrying out a physical examination. An initial examination will involve applying pressure to the abdomen. This will help the doctor to check the location of pain and to feel for any abnormalities.

A doctor will also make a note of the person’s medical history, and any other symptoms they experience. They may also ask whether there is anything that triggers the pain or makes it worse.

Diagnostic tests, such as urine, blood, or stool tests, may also be necessary. These can help to identify signs of infection or other underlying conditions.

In some cases, a doctor may order one of the following imaging tests to check for abnormalities in the abdomen:

  • ultrasound
  • X-ray
  • CT or MRI

If the imaging tests come back normal, a doctor may perform a colonoscopy for a closer look inside the intestines.

Treatment

The following are some general home treatment options that may help to alleviate symptoms of LAP and bloating:

  • increasing fluid intake
  • exercising to help alleviate gas and bloating
  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications
  • taking OTC antacids

If home treatments do not work, a person should speak to their doctor about other treatment options. These will vary, depending on the cause of LAP and bloating. However, some examples include:

  • prescription medications to treat pain and bloating
  • antibiotics to help treat a bacterial infection
  • emergency surgery to remove a ruptured appendix

Prevention

There are some steps a person can take to help alleviate LAP and bloating. Two key steps include quitting smoking and avoiding trigger foods.

The following are examples of foods that may cause or contribute to LAP and bloating:

  • high fat foods
  • certain plant-based foods, such as cabbage, lentils, and beans
  • dairy products if a person is lactose intolerant
  • carbonated drinks
  • beer
  • chewing gum
  • hard candy

Also, people may benefit from increasing their intake of high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help to prevent constipation and associated bloating.

If an underlying condition is the cause of LAP and bloating, then treating the condition should help to alleviate these symptoms.

Outlook

There are many potential causes of lower abdominal pain and bloating. Some causes are relatively benign and easy to treat, while others may be more serious.

Occasional lower abdominal pain and bloating are usually not a cause for concern. However, people should see a doctor if their symptoms worsen, last more than a few days, or disrupt their daily activities.

People who experience additional symptoms, such as vomiting, fever, or blood in the stool, should seek emergency medical attention.

In some cases, people can prevent lower abdominal pain and bloating by avoiding foods that may trigger these symptoms.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently approved a drug derived from fish oil as an adjuvant therapy for people at risk of experiencing cardiovascular events.

The FDA approve a new fish oil drug to help reduce cardiovascular risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of deathTrusted Source among adults in the United States.

In fact, every 37 seconds, one person dies due to a cardiovascular event in the U.S.

For this reason, it is important to try to prevent poor cardiovascular outcomes in people at risk. Elevated triglyceride levels, which are a marker of blood lipids (fats), are one key risk factor to look out for.

Last week, the FDA issued a statementTrusted Source explaining that they had approved the use of a new drug as an adjuvant therapy to help prevent cradiovascular disease in adults with triglyceride levels of 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher, which count as elevated levelsTrusted Source.

The drug, Vascepa, comes in capsule form. Its main active ingredient is eicosapentaenoic acid. This is an omega-3 fatty acid extracted from fish oil.

As per the FDA recommendations, doctors should only prescribe Vascepa to those with abnormally high triglyceride levels and as an additional therapy to the maximum tolerated dosage of statins. These are the drugs that people usually take to keep their cholesterol levels in check and minimize cardiovascular risk.

“The FDA [recognize that] there is a need for additional medical treatments for cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. John Sharretts, the acting deputy director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

“[This] approval will give [people] with elevated triglycerides and other important risk factors, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, an adjunctive treatment option that can help decrease their risk of cardiovascular events.”

Dr. John Sharretts

Vascepa effectively lowers triglycerides
When triglyceride levels in the blood become too high, it can contribute to the thickening and stiffening of the artery walls. This increases a person’s risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke or heart attack.

Vascepa can safely lower triglyceride levels, thus also helping reduce cardiovascular risk. However, the mechanisms through which the drug achieves this remain unclear.

Nevertheless, a clinical trial involving 8,179 participants has demonstrated the drug’s effectiveness and safety, ultimately leading to its approval by the FDA.

The participants were all aged 45 or older with a history of various heart, vascular, or metabolic conditions. These included coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or diabetes. They also had additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The trial showed that people who took Vascepa had a lower risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event than those who did not take the drug.

According to its manufacturers, Vascepa can lower blood triglyceride levels by around 33%.

The researchers who conducted the clinical trial did, however, note that the drug was sometimes associated with an increased risk of heart problems — specifically atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter — that called for hospitalization. However, this risk was more pronounced in people who already had a history of these two conditions.

Another potential side effect is a higher risk of bleeding — though, again, this is more likely to occur in people already taking other drugs associated with a higher risk of bleeding events, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or warfarin.

The makers of Vascepa advise that people who receive a prescription for the drug take two 1-gram capsules or four 0.5-gram capsules twice per day with food.

However, they warn that people with known allergies to fish or shellfish may experience allergic reactions to this drug, and that they should only take it as advised by their doctor and discontinue the treatment if they do experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Recent research has revealed a mechanism through which fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, might reduce inflammation. A study that tested an enriched fish oil supplement found that it increased blood levels of certain anti-inflammatory molecules.

The anti-inflammatory molecules are called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), and they have a powerful effect on white blood cells, as well as controlling blood vessel inflammation.

Scientists already knew that the body makes SPMs by breaking down essential fatty acids, including some omega-3 fatty acids. However, the relationship between supplement intake and circulating levels of SPMs remained unclear.

So, a team of researchers from the William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom set out to clarify the relationship by testing the effect of an enriched fish oil supplement in 22 healthy volunteers whose ages ranged from 19 to 37 years.

The team conducted the Circulation Research study as a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Therefore, neither the participants nor those who gave them the doses and monitored them knew who received fish oil supplements and who received the placebo.

“We used the molecules as our biomarkers to show how omega-3 fatty acids are used by our body and to determine if the production of these molecules has a beneficial effect on white blood cells,” says senior study author Jesmond Dalli, who is a professor of molecular pharmacology at the William Harvey Institute.

Enriched fish oil increased blood markers

The trial tested three doses of enriched fish oil supplement against the placebo. The researchers took samples of the participants’ blood to test.

Each participant gave five samples over 24 hours — at baseline and then 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours after taking their dose of supplement or placebo.

The researchers found that taking the enriched fish oil supplement raised blood levels of SPMs. The results showed a “time and dose-dependent” increase in circulating blood levels of SPMs.

The tests also revealed that supplementation led to a dose-dependent increase in immune cell attacks against bacteria and a decrease in cell activity that promotes blood clotting.

Inflammation is a defense response by the immune system that is essential to health. Various factors can trigger the response, including damaged cells, toxins, and pathogens such as bacteria.

Some of the immune cells that are active during inflammation can also damage tissue, so it is important, once the threat is over, for inflammation to subside to allow healing. Putting a stop to inflammation is where anti-inflammatory agents, such as SPMs, have a role.

However, if inflammation persists and becomes chronic, then, instead of protecting health, it undermines it. Studies have linked inflammation to heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious health conditions.

Although it remains unclear whether those molecules reduce cardiovascular disease, a press release on the study notes that they do “supercharge macrophages, specialized cells that destroy bacteria and eliminate dead cells,” as well as making “platelets less sticky, potentially reducing the formation of blood clots.”

Research has also shown the molecules to play a role in tissue regeneration. As Prof. Dalli notes, “These molecules have multiple targets.”

Beware of unregulated supplements

An earlier 2019 study in NEJM showed that a prescription formula containing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) could reduce heart attacks and strokes — and deaths relating to these events — in people who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease or already have it. EPA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is present in fish oil.

However, Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, who is a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, MA, and who led that study, says that there is no reliable evidence that over-the-counter supplements can have the same effect.

In the United States, federal regulators have approved two formulations: one containing EPA and a second that combines EPA with another omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently issued a scientific advisory that cautions consumers to avoid unregulated omega-3 supplements.

An earlier AHA advisory had stated that while such supplements may slightly lessen the risk of death following a heart attack or heart failure, there is no evidence that they prevent heart disease in the first place.

Prof. Dalli says that there is a need for further studies to establish whether people over the age of 45 years would experience the same results from enriched fish oil supplements that they saw in the younger volunteers.

Compared with healthy people, those living with chronic inflammation have lower levels of SPMs, he remarks, noting that the enzymes that produce them do not work as well in these individuals.

He suggests that this is the kind of information that developers will need to consider when formulating supplements for treating disease. It will also be important to check that the body is breaking down the supplements into protective molecules.

“We’re still far away from having the magic formula. Each person will need a specific formulation or at least a specific dosing, and that’s something we need to learn more about.”

Prof. Jesmond Dalli

As we approach the festive season, there is bound to be a potpourri of celebrations, parties, and carnivals where food, drinks, and alcohol may likely be consumed with exuberance.

Dietary guidelines and patterns are often disregarded during merry moments like this. So, the saying: “We eat to live and not live to eat” is often dismissed in favour of excessive consumption of food and alcohol, which has negative effects on the health and wellbeing of individuals. Continuous excessive food and alcohol consumption predisposes an individual to non-communicable diseases like, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and hypertension.

Even a moment of indulgence can leave an individual with a bitter experience to deal with for several years. Therefore, one has to be careful about what one eats and drinks this season. Previous articles that reviewed the importance of 100% fruit juice are very relevant to this series. Let us look back on how far we have come on this ‘juicy’ journey. We have had different discussions on 100% fruit juice, its positive impacts on healthy living and why it should be a part of our daily diets. I have also examined topics such as five surprising health benefits of orange fruit juice, healthy ways to revitalise your body after fasting, and antioxidant/healthy living: the role of 100% fruit juice.

Having discussed these topics exhaustively, it is believed that more persons are now aware of the benefits of 100% fruit juice. It is important you apply the knowledge in your day-to-day living, as this season will likely test your discipline and willpower to apply the knowledge.

Eating food goes beyond providing sustenance. Healthy food has curative properties. Scientific evidence recently established the fact that some food nutrients cure certain diseases. An unhealthy diet, inadequate daily physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits are responsible for some chronic non-communicable diseases.

100% fruit juice as the festive season companion
For all the meals that would be consumed during this festive period and going forward, the importance of having a glass of 100% fruit juice alongside meals cannot be overstated. This is because the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines include 100% juice as part of the fruit group, and notes that up to half of the daily fruit intake could come from 100% fruit juice.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 100% fruit juice is equivalent to 62kcal or around three percent of daily energy requirements based on a 2,000kcal diet. In Italy, the recommended daily juice portion is 200ml. In the United States, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines uses a cup equivalent equal to 237 milligrammes, as a reference for whole fruits and fruit juices. We should know that the amount of fruit each person needs each day depends on their level of physical activity, age, gender or other health requirements.
Responsible indulgence – Recommendations on portion control during the festive season

Adequate nutrition is essential for health and well being at every stage of life. No single food by itself, except breast-milk, provides all the nutrients in the right amount that will promote growth and maintain a healthy life. Hence, you must be sure to consume the right foods daily to achieve the right calorie intake. This in turn must be complemented with optimum energy expenditure to achieve good health.

Fundamentally, portion control is a key issue during festive seasons. So, do not be carried away with the hype of celebrations. Keep a check on the quantity of food you consume and your daily calorie intake. You can enjoy your meals this season without compromising on your health and wellbeing.

Additional tips for the festive season
Keep yourself hydrated especially because of higher temperatures at this time. Daily consumption of water and 100% fruit juices will help with this. Avoid staying up late and eating unhealthy snacks, which affect digestion. And you should not eat everything that is presented in front of you. Control the cravings to eat more after you have exceeded your recommended dietary allowance and/or your stomach is full.Finally, do your body system a favour by keeping a pack of 100% fruit juice with you. This should be your companion as you celebrate during the holidays. Have a juicy yuletide season!

A recent review and meta-analysis focus on the role of legumes in heart health. Taking data from multiple studies and earlier analyses, the authors conclude that legumes might benefit heart health but that the evidence is not overwhelming.

It is a no-brainer that nutrition plays a pivotal role in health. At one end of the spectrum, it is common knowledge that eating a diet that is high in sugar, salt, and fat increases the risk of poorer health outcomes.

At the other end, eating a balanced diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is likely to reduce the risk of certain conditions.

However, drilling down to the effect of individual foods on specific conditions is notoriously difficult.

The authors of a recent review in Advances In Nutrition have taken up that gauntlet. They wanted to understand how legumes, which include beans, peas, and lentils, affect heart health.

In particular, they focused on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and CVD mortality. CVD includes coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and stroke. They also investigated legume consumption in relation to diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Study co-author Dr. Hana Kahleova, from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC, explains why investigating heart health is such a pressing matter, stating that “[c]ardiovascular disease is the world’s leading — and most expensive — cause of death, costing the United States nearly 1 billion dollars a day.”

Why legumes?

Legumes are rich in fiber, protein, and micronutrients but contain very little fat and sugar. Due to this, as the authors of the current study explain:

“The American Heart Association, Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and European Society for Cardiology encourage dietary patterns that emphasize intake of legumes” to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and manage diabetes.

Recently, the European Association for the Study of Diabetes commissioned a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Using the results of these studies, they hope to update current recommendations on the role of legumes in preventing and treating cardiometabolic diseases.

In the current review, the authors compared data on people with the lowest and highest intake of legumes. They found that “dietary pulses with or without other legumes were associated with an 8%, 10%, 9%, and 13% decrease in CVD, [coronary heart disease], hypertension, and obesity incidence, respectively.”

However, they found that there was no association between legume intake and the incidence of myocardial infarction, diabetes, or stroke. Similarly, they identified no relationship between legumes and mortality from CVD, coronary heart disease, or stroke.

Although the team identified a positive relationship between consuming higher quantities of legumes and a reduced risk of certain cardiovascular parameters, the authors’ conclusions are still relatively muted. They write:

“The overall certainty of the evidence was graded as ‘low’ for CVD incidence and ‘very low’ for all other outcomes.”

They continue, “Current evidence shows that dietary pulses with or without other legumes are associated with reduced CVD incidence with low certainty and reduced [coronary heart disease], hypertension, and obesity incidence with very low certainty.”

Nutritional difficulties

One of the primary issues that scientists face when investigating nutrition and health is residual confounding. For instance, if someone eats more legumes than average, they might also eat more vegetables in general. Conversely, someone who eats few legumes might eat less fruit and vegetables overall.

If this is the case, it is difficult to pin any measured benefits on the legumes, specifically. They might simply be due to the increase in plant food overall.

Similarly, someone who eats particularly healthfully might also be more likely to exercise. Understanding whether the legume, the overall dietary patterns, or the entire lifestyle influences any given health outcome is verging on impossible.

Another problem centers around self-reporting food intake. Human memory, as impressive as it is, can make mistakes. One paperTrusted Source on this topic states that self-reports of food intake “are so poor that they are wholly unacceptable for scientific research.”

Studies attempt to minimize the influence of these factors as much as possible, but it can be challenging. As the authors explain, “Despite the inclusion of several large, high quality cohorts, the inability to rule out residual confounding is a limitation inherent in all observational studies.”

Despite the difficulties, overall, the authors believe that increasing legume intake could improve the heart health of the population of the United States.

“Americans eat less than one serving of legumes per day, on average. Simply adding more beans to our plates could be a powerful tool in fighting heart disease and bringing down blood pressure.”

Co-author Dr. Hana Kahleova

Although those studying nutrition and disease face many challenges, it is important to continue this line of investigation. Currently, in the U.S., 1 in 4 deathsTrusted Source relate to cardiovascular disease. If a simple change in diet could reduce the risk even a small amount, it might make a significant difference at the population level.

Gas trapped in the intestines can be incredibly uncomfortable. It may cause sharp pain, cramping, swelling, tightness, and even bloating.

Most people pass gas between 13 and 21 times a day. When gas is blocked from escaping, diarrhoea constipation may be responsible.

Gas pain can be so intense that doctors mistake the root cause for appendicitis, gallstones, or even heart disease.

20 ways to get rid of gas pain fast

Luckily, many home remedies can help to release trapped gas or prevent it from building up. Twenty effective methods are listed below.

1. Let it out

Holding in gas can cause bloating, discomfort, and pain. The easiest way to avoid these symptoms is to simply let out the gas.

2. Pass stool

A bowel movement can relieve gas. Passing stool will usually release any gas trapped in the intestines.

3. Eat slowly

Eating too quickly or while moving can cause a person to take in air as well as food, leading to gas-related pain.

Quick eaters can slow down by chewing each bite of food 30 times. Breaking down food in such a way aids digestion and can prevent a number of related complaints, including bloating and indigestion.

4. Avoid chewing gum

As a person chews gum they tend to swallow air, which increases the likelihood of trapped wind and gas pains.

Sugarless gum also contains artificial sweeteners, which may cause bloating and gas.

5. Say no to straws

Often, drinking through a straw causes a person to swallow air. Drinking directly from a bottle can have the same effect, depending on the bottle’s size and shape.

To avoid gas pain and bloating, it is best to sip from a glass.

6. Quit smoking

Whether using traditional or electronic cigarettes, smoking causes air to enter the digestive tract. Because of the range of health issues linked to smoking, quitting is wise for many reasons.

7. Choose non-carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks, such as sparkling water and sodas, send a lot of gas to the stomach. This can cause bloating and pain.

8. Eliminate problematic foods

Eating certain foods can cause trapped gas. Individuals find different foods problematic.

However, the foods below frequently cause gas to build up:

  • artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sorbitol, and maltitol
  • cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
  • dairy products
  • fibre drinks and supplements
  • fried foods
  • garlic and onions
  • high-fat foods
  • legumes, a group that includes beans and lentils
  • prunes and prune juice
  • spicy foods

Keeping a food diary can help a person to identify trigger foods. Some, like artificial sweeteners, may be easy to cut out of the diet.

Others, like cruciferous vegetables and legumes, provide a range of health benefits. Rather than avoiding them entirely, a person may try reducing their intake or preparing the foods differently.

9. Drink tea

Some herbal teas may aid digestion and reduce gas pain fast. The most effective include teas made from:

  • anise
  • chamomile
  • ginger
  • peppermint

Anise acts as a mild laxative and should be avoided if diarrhoea accompanies gas. However, it can be helpful if constipation is responsible for trapped gas.

10. Snack on fennel seeds

Fennel is an age-old solution for trapped wind. Chewing on a teaspoon of the seeds is a popular natural remedy.

However, anyone pregnant or breastfeeding should probably avoid doing so, due to conflicting reports concerning safety.

11. Take peppermint supplements

Peppermint oil capsules have long been taken to resolve issues like bloating, constipation, and trapped gas. Some research supports the use of peppermint for these symptoms.

Always choose enteric-coated capsules. Uncoated capsules may dissolve too quickly in the digestive tract, which can lead to heartburn.

Peppermint inhibits the absorption of iron, so these capsules should not be taken with iron supplements or by people who have anaemia.

12. Clove oil

Clove oil has traditionally been used to treat digestive complaints, including bloating, gas, and indigestion. It may also have ulcer-fighting properties.

Consuming clove oil after meals can increase digestive enzymes and reduce the amount of gas in the intestines.

13. Apply heat

When gas pains strike, place a hot water bottle or heating pad on the stomach. The warmth relaxes the muscles in the gut, helping gas to move through the intestines. Heat can also reduce the sensation of pain.

14. Address digestive issues

People with certain digestive difficulties are more likely to experience trapped gas. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease, for example, often experience bloating and gas pain.

Addressing these issues through lifestyle changes and medication can improve the quality of life.

People with lactose intolerance who frequently experience gas pain should take greater steps to avoid lactose or take lactase supplements.

15. Add apple cider vinegar to water

Apple cider vinegar aids the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. It may also help to alleviate gas pain quickly.

Add a tablespoon of the vinegar to a glass of water and drink it before meals to prevent gas pain and bloating. It is important to then rinse the mouth with water, as vinegar can erode tooth enamel.

16. Use activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is a natural product that can be bought in health food stores or pharmacies without a prescription. Supplement tablets taken before and after meals can prevent trapped gas.

It is best to build up the intake of activated charcoal gradually. This will prevent unwanted symptoms, such as constipation and nausea.

One alarming side effect of activated charcoal is that it can turn the stool black. This discoloration is harmless and should go away if a person stops taking charcoal supplements.

17. Take probiotics

Probiotic supplements add beneficial bacteria to the gut. They are used to treat several digestive complaints, including infectious diarrhea.

Some research suggests that certain strains of probiotics can alleviate bloating, intestinal gas, abdominal pain, and other symptoms of IBS.

Strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are generally considered to be most effective.

18. Exercise

Gentle exercises can relax the muscles in the gut, helping to move gas through the digestive system. Walking or doing yoga poses after meals may be especially beneficial.

19. Breathe deeply

Deep breathing may not work for everyone. Taking in too much air can increase the amount of gas in the intestines.

However, some people find that deep breathing techniques can relieve the pain and discomfort associated with trapped gas.

20. Take an over-the-counter remedy

Several products can get rid of gas pain fast. One popular medication, simethicone, is marketed under the following brand names:

  • Gas-X
  • Mylanta Gas
  • Phazyme

Several of these products are available for purchase online.

Anyone who is pregnant or taking other medications should discuss the use of simethicone with a doctor or pharmacist.

Takeaway

Trapped gas can be painful and distressing, but many easy remedies can alleviate symptoms quickly.

People with ongoing or severe gas pain should see a doctor right away, especially if the pain is accompanied by:

  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • fever
  • rectal bleeding
  • unexplained weight loss

While everyone experiences trapped gas once in a while, experiencing regular pain, bloating, and other gastrointestinal symptoms can indicate the presence of a medical condition or food sensitivity.