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‘Jersey Shore’ Star JWoww Opening Clothing Store At American Dream Mall

“Jersey Shore” star Jenni “JWoww” Farley is opening a clothing store at Bergen County’s American Dream Mall.

Heavenly Flower will focus on “mommy and me” as well as maternity clothing.

Farley, a mom to 4-year-old Greyson and 6-year-old Meilani, store

“I’m a mom, and so many of my fans who have grown up watching me on television are now moms, too,” Farley said.

“The Heavenly Flower collection is fun, stylish and affordable for women and kids and the realization of a longtime dream of mine.

“I can’t think of better place to bring this idea to life than at American Dream.”

Heavenly Flower is set to open in May in the Garden Court at the East Rutherford megamall.

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How Much Will Your Insurance Cover In A Medical Emergency?

Forty hours of in-home nursing care can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 (or more) a month, depending where you live in the United States. And that 40 hours still leaves 128 hours a week — if you need 24-hour care — where you’re on your own, paying out of pocket.

If you’ve ever had to deal with your health insurance provider over an extended illness, pregnancy, or bureaucratic snafu, you’ve probably been lost in a morass of numbers. Health insurance is difficult enough to figure out as it is, let alone in a time when you’re highly stressed dealing with a medical crisis.

We’d like to know how you, our readers, feel about your insurance and whether it has been there for you when you needed it most. Please leave a comment if you’d like.

Once the poll has closed, we’ll share our findings with you.

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How to Choose a Diet and Stick with It

Dieting can be an overwhelming experience. Choosing a diet type is tough. So, ask yourself some basic questions to make it a little less stressful.

Choosing a diet isn’t easy. Where do you even start? Keto? Paleo? Atkins? Mediterranean? Some variation of all of the above, that includes something you can actually enjoy? Some diet types have been around a long time, while others burst into attention every once in a while, capturing everyone’s attention before fading away and leaving in even more confusion in an already complex situation. With all the information out there, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices.

But don’t fret, because choosing a diet is not as hard as choosing to diet. You’ve already taken a hard step, and with a little guidance you can start down the path towards better health.

Answering some basic questions can help narrow down your choices. Be honest with yourself, and use what you learn from the following questions to target a few diet options.

What are My Goals? 

The diet you choose should reflect not only your goals, but what you expect from changing what you eat. Think about what you want the outcome to be.

Are you interested in maintaining weight and eating healthier? Or are you trying to lose weight? Do you want to count calories? How about carbs? Maybe a low-carb diet works or focusing on smaller meals throughout the day.

Consider your approach to exercise. Are you interested in fitness or gaining muscle? Diets that are high in protein can help with that.

Focusing on your goals helps you find different paths to the finish line. If you’re not sure where to start, try talking to a dietician.

If you want to focus on losing weight only, then you need to consider the calories in and the calories out — how much you eat versus how much you consume every day. Consume more than you eat and your weight will drop, but this is a simplistic approach that doesn’t consider other aspects related to your health, such as nutrient intake and vitamins. It also doesn’t consider your body type.

What is My Body Type?

Having an awareness of your body type is important when it comes to choosing a diet. There are basically three different categories that most people fall into.

  • Ectomorph: Long and lean, difficult to build muscle even after long periods in the gym.
  • Endomorph: Big, with higher body fat. A tendency to store body fat usually makes it more difficult to lose weight, particularly around the gut.
  • Mesomorph: Muscular and well-built, with a higher metabolism. Usually easy to add muscle.

While your body type probably most aligns with one of these three, many people have characteristics of all of them. It’s also important to know that whatever body type you are, it’s possible to lose weight and develop muscle. Understanding your body shape can go a long way toward choosing the best diet and improving your health.

How Much Time Do I have to Cook?

Picking the proper diet has to take into account your current lifestyle. Eating home-cooked meals helps with weight loss. But that may not be realistic for you. How much time do you have per week to prepare your meals? Are you comfortable cooking, or do you usually eat out? A new diet can be doomed from the start if it requires too drastic a change to food choice and lifestyle.

Cooking is not mandatory in dieting, but it can be an important ally. Studies have shown that the food we cook tends to be healthier than what we buy, and you also have complete control over what you include in your food.

What is My Budget?

Some diets can be pricey, since they may require special ingredients or meal replacements. That’s not even considering membership to a gym or the cost of exercise equipment. Actually sitting down and coming up with a budget for a proposed diet is key to sustaining it. If you need to, look into different alternatives to minimize the financial stress of an expensive diet — although in truth, dieting shouldn’t really be expensive.

If you diet is asking you to exclusively eat some things, which also turn out to be expensive, you might want to consider if this is actually the best approach.

When and How am I Going to Exercise?

You may not like to exercise, but it is a vital component to taking your fitness and health seriously. You don’t have to train for a marathon or take up kickboxing, but it’s important to make space for exercise in your plans. In addition to helping control your weight, regular exercise can improve your mood, increase your energy, and even help control food choices.

Healthy adults should try for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. But this can vary depending on factors like weight and age. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer to help come up with the best plan for you.

What Types of Food Do I Like?

You don’t have to torture yourself on a diet. In fact, the more you like the foods that make up your diet, the more likely you will stick with it. Many low-calorie diets will swap calorie-dense foods like meat and bread for more nutritious options like vegetables. If you don’t love eating something like fish, don’t pick a diet that incorporates a lot of fish. It seems simple. But ask if the food you’ll be eating is sustainable for you.

Answer Honestly to Find What Works Best

It’s important to be realistic about your diet options. If you’re looking to simply lose weight, for example, you’d think that the diet that can drop the most pounds would be best. But what if it requires you to eat food you hate? What if it is cost prohibitive? These answers are important. They may be the key to finding a sustainable diet. That’s because the bottom line is the best diet for you is the one you can stick to.

Diet Type and
Examples
Sustainability Flexibility Nutrition Level
Balanced
(DASH, WW (Weight Watchers), Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean)
High. Focuses on long term changes to your eating habits. High flexibility. Most foods can be eaten in moderation. High. Focus is on eating a balanced diet.
High protein
(Dukan, Paleo)
It varies, but the diet can be hard to stay on due to restrictions. Not flexible. Diet consists of mainly lean meat and dairy. Some plans may be insufficient and require supplements.
Low carb
(Atkins, South Beach)
It varies, but the diet can be hard to stay on due to restrictions. Not flexible. Diet limits carbs and focuses on fats and protein. Some plans may be insufficient and require supplements.
Low fat
(Ornish)
It varies, but the diet can be hard to stay on due to restrictions. Not flexible. Diet consists of very little fat and animal products. High. Focus is on eating a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Meal replacement
(Jenny Craig, HMR, Medifast, Nutrisystem, SlimFast)
It varies, but the diet can be hard to stay on due to restrictions and high cost. Not flexible. Replacement products are used for one or two meals per day. Some plans may be insufficient and require supplements.
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Lifestyle

Construction to begin on first-of-its-kind Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park

CASTILE, N.Y.  — Construction is set to begin on a one-mile, Autism Nature Trail at one of New York’s largest state parks.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced on Friday that construction has began on a first-of-its kind nature trail at Letchworth State Park, specifically designed with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.

According to the Office, activities along the trail will support and encourage sensory perception, featuring eight stations offering a range of experiences. These will range from quiet engagements to active exploration and adventure.

The Autism Nature Trail has been supported by a campaign and the State Office of State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It so far has raised $3 million toward a full $3.7 million goal. The Office plans to continue fundraising to establish an endowment for long-term maintenance and programming.

“The overwhelming response to the fundraising campaign for this important new destination at Letchworth State Park is impressive and exciting,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “Designed by experts, the Autism Nature Trail will be a safe and inclusive space outdoors where all are welcome to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits of outdoor recreation. I am tremendously grateful to the many donors and partners who have joined this effort to overcome some of the barriers to outdoor recreation.”

Planned stations along the trail include the following:

  • “Sunshine Slope:” a gentle sloping maze in a natural clearing
  • “Music Circle:” a space for running, jumping, climbing, balancing and testing strength, coordination and confidence
  • Specialized elements such as cuddle swings, gliders, and “alone zones”

Additionally, the one-mile trail will be adjacent to the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park. The trail and stations will be marked with signage telling visitors what to expect as they approach each curve and station.

The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State agenda, including enhancing New York State parks.

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Refuge in a Storm: With Clothing Giveaway St. Luke’s, Christhouse Continue Providing a Community in Need

PATERSON, NJ – Established under the auspices of St. Luke CDC, and located on Fair Street in the City’s 4th Ward, Christhouse has provided a beacon of hope for area residents since 1997. The non-profit community organization serves as an arm of St. Luke’s Baptist Church to provide outreach to area residents by providing food, clothing, and more.

On Monday morning, more than a dozen members from the congregation oversaw long tables and hanging racks of clothing, as a steady stream of local residents stopped by for the free giveaway of clothing provided by a collection taken in the Town of Secaucus.

Pointing to the quality of the clothes on offer, including name brand items like Ralph Lauren Polo, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said his counterpart, Mayor Michael Gonnelli, reached out to arrange for the collaboration.

“We are happy that St. Luke’s made this happen,” Sayegh added.

Asked by TAPinto Paterson what drove them to spend time in below freezing temperatures to participate in the giveaway volunteers on hand answered with a near unanimous: to help others.

These included Sherri Bass, a Clifton resident and recent member of St. Luke’s. “I was looking for a new church home. I chose St. Luke’s,” the California transplant said before adding that the church’s focus on the community made it a good fit for her. Participating in such service projects, she said, is “second nature.”

“I love the fellowship here,” she concluded.

Identifying himself as Keyshawn, a man wearing a winter jacket and stocking cap took several minutes to examine shirts and pants. “I am showing my appreciation for this by coming and receiving clothes,” Keyshawn stated, as he finished filling a bag.  “For me, the best thing in life is giving.”

A trio of friends, Yvonne Bauer, Crystal Sullivan, and Mamie Salmon, worked together at several tables helping visitors find the proper size for their choices. Bauer, who said she moved to Paterson about five years ago from Pennsylvania, gave thanks that a change in the weather made the giveaway a bit easier. Perhaps aided by some divine intervention Bauer described that “the forecast predicted an ice storm but that didn’t happen.”

Before the pandemic, Bauer said, Christchurch was open for the public to receive food and clothing three times a week but has been limited to twice a month due to the outbreak. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, clothing is distributed outside rather than inside the building, according to workers.

“I love to volunteer. I’m working for the Lord,” Bauer exclaimed.

Even with the reduced hours the support of Christhouse has been extremely helpful to local families, including her own, during the public health crisis, Gloria Mayoria said.

“I worked at a cosmetic factory, in Totowa, but when the coronavirus came, I was laid off and have not worked since,” the married mother of three explained.

“Money has been a big problem so this is a good thing.” Mayoria summarized.

Surveying the results of the work as ones that made him happy Daryl Bell, a lifelong Patersonian, 17-year members of St. Luke’s, and the director of Christhouse relayed that while all the men’s clothing was gone there were plenty of items left for children.

The giveaway will continue on Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Christhouse is located at 269 Fair Street.

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Lifestyle

Paterson Veterans Honor Black Soldiers, Raise of African American Flag at Memorial to All Who Served

PATERSON, NJ – The service of African Americans from Paterson and Passaic County, was held at Veterans Park at Hayden Heights on Thursday. Regardless of where or in what capacity those soldiers served, it was said, all risked, and many gave, life and limbs to protect our nation’s freedom, life, and liberty.

“Why are we here?” Tony Vancheri, president of the Paterson’s Veterans Council asked at the outset of the event. “We don’t need a special day, or week, or even a month to honor our brave men and women here at Veterans Memorial Park. Why?  Because they are honored every day of the year at Veterans Memorial Park’s, ‘Hill of Heroes.’”

For Vancheri, who served as a combat medic with the US Army for four years in Vietnam it was important to point out that those who served around him, and in every war and conflict since the nation’s fight for independence, have been “brave men and women soldiers are from every nation, culture, religion, and every color.”

“That’s why we are here today to show solidarity, not with just Paterson but with all America.  We must be all brothers and sisters if we are going to make America,” Vancheri continued, punctuating his point with an emphatic “the greatest country in the world.”

“And this is why we are at Veteran’s Park, to raise the Africa American flag together, as President Biden said, ‘We are all Americans.’”

Offering a bit of a lesson was Paterson historian Jimmy Richardson who, through meticulous research, has discovered the history of 18 African Americans from Passaic County that served in the Civil War.  Richardson was also able to locate discharge papers for 11 of the soldiers, including those of George Walker and Robert Smalls.

“George Walker was originally from the same town, Beaufort, South Carolina, that Robert Smalls was from,” Richardson recounted.  “Smalls was a slave, but 30 days after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Declaration, he enlisted in the Union Army.  Smalls became the first African American in history to be the captain of a military boat which ferried ammunition and supplies.”
Richardson said that Smalls garnered national fame for his service, and believes that Walker and Smalls may very well have known each other because they were from the same town and both fought in the war.

Walker moved to Paterson at the conclusion of the conflict and lived at 52 Jersey Street until his death in 1881, at the age of 62.  Walker is buried at Laurel Cemetery, in Totowa.

Richardson said that from historical records available, he can account that six of the 18 soldiers were originally from out of state and is unsure how many, besides Walker, resided in Paterson.  12 of the Army servicemen are buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, in Totowa, four in Cedar Lawn Cemetery, in Paterson, and two in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, in Totowa.

The red, green, and black striped banner was unfurled and triumphantly waved in the wind, courtesy of two Department of Public Works employees, Carlos Pieveschi and Stacy Ward. Pieveschi, stationed in a movable cup that was attached to a work truck, was lowered to the proper height and able to reach and secure the flag to the flagpole.

“The red of the African American flag represents the blood of soldiers that was shed, the black represents solidarity, and the green represents the wealth that is had by the continent of Africa,” Mayor Andre Sayeth stated to conclude the ceremony.

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The 4 Best At-Home Workouts to Help You Lose Weight, According to Experts

On any normal year, mustering up the motivation to not only make a fitness-focused resolution, but also following through on that plan, can be challenging enough.

Throw in a pandemic and rampant gym closures for the better part of 2020 (and now well into 2021), and that goal can feel downright impossible. Without access to dumbbells, barbells, expensive cardio machines, and that charismatic indoor cycling instructor who both frightens and motivates you, how is it possible to plan for (and stick to) a goal like losing weight or gaining more muscle?

Listen: It’s okay to grieve time lost at the gym (and also loathe the notion of jumping up and down next to your dining room table). But staying in your own home and away from others is still the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So even if your local gym or fitness studio is open, depending on how dense the spread of the virus is in your local area, you may not want to enter it just yet.

Plus, as Liz Davis, clinical exercise physiologist from Columbus, Ohio-based explains, an at-home workout can be particularly effective when it comes to reaching a fitness goal. “Earlier in the pandemic, I used to have this mental roadblock that I had to be in a gym to achieve my goals,” she tells Health. “But that quickly changed. The home is a perfect place to achieve a fitness goal, even with little space and equipment. You just have to transition your mindset and find a workout that works for you.”

A quick note of importance before we dive in: Weight loss is complicated, and it takes much more than just adding a few more steps or workouts to your routine. The most significant factor in your ability to lose weight is maintaining a calorie deficit, which, you guessed it, stems mostly how much food you’re eating: “Think about it,” Davis prevously told Health: “To burn 100 calories, you might need to walk for 45 minutes. To consume 100 calories, all you need is a few spoons of ice cream.”

That said, exercise can work to supplement a weight loss goal. Here are some of the best workouts you can do from home that can help, according to experts.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

While exercise alone won’t cause you to lose weight, if there’s one workout that can give you a slightly sharper edge than others, it’s HIIT: alternating between short, intense bursts of energy with less intense (or completely restful) periods in between.

“Any time you’re doing a hard burst of activity with a shorter recovery, your heart rate and temperature go way up,” Davis explains, noting that those two physiological changes have a direct impact on your metabolism. As your body works to bring those two variables back down (or achieve homeostasis) for the next few hours, you’re still burning calories.

And the best part of all? No equipment (or abundance of space) is required, making it a perfect at-home workout.

Your go-to digital HIIT programs at home

Le Sweat by Charlie Atkins ($16.99 per month with your first week free) contains over 100 exercise programs, including HIIT, that require only your body, a small space to move, and tons of motivation.

Les Mills ($15 per month on IOS and Android with your first month free), an app with over 1,000 workouts ranging between 15 and 55 minutes in length, contains a trove of heart-pounding, equipment-free HIIT routines.

Strength training

While Davis notes that weight training won’t burn a ton of calories in the moment, it will help to increase your muscle mass—which can affect your resting metabolic rate, or how many calories your body is able to burn at rest. And the more calories you burn at rest, the easier it can be to maintain (or potentially lose) weight.

And although you do need weight (or resistance) to strength train, it certainly doesn’t need to be in the form of dumbbells. Anything that has mass (including your own body, for bodyweight exercises) can be used to build muscle.

“It’s the muscle fatigue, rather than actual weighted equipment, that determines if you grow stronger,” Davis explains. “As long as you take whatever exercise you’re doing to a point where you’re fatiguing your muscles, you will see strength gains.”

What this means: So long as you’re feeling a burn from a biceps curl with a full wine bottle, or performing reverse lunges with your own bodyweight, you’re working to strengthen your muscles and potentially increase their mass.

Davis favors Costco-brand gallons of bleach (to replace kettlebells or dumbbells) while doing front squats. “I don’t know how much it weighs, only that it makes me tired after 12 or so reps. That’s the most important factor.” (FYI: She recommends picking an object, be it gallons of bleach or a suitcase filled with books, that will fatigue you in 12 to 15 reps.)

Your go-to digital strength training programs at home

The Nike Training Club (free for IOS and Android, but prices increase with premium subscriptions) is a favorite of Josh Honore, NASM-CPT, a trainer and coach for Row House. “Their versatile workouts get my muscles pumped without needing heavy weights in as little as 20 minutes.”

If you want to get in on the Peloton craze (but aren’t willing to fork over the cash to buy a bike or treadmill), you can still try the app. With a subscription ($13 per month for IOS and Android), you can access their library of equipment-free workouts––including strength sessions.

Dance

Dancing—be it in the form of ballroom dancing or trendy TikTok dances—has the potential to contribute to weight loss. That’s because it’s a form of aerobic exercise, which the American Diabetes Association notes can support weight management. It can also increase joint mobility and spinal flexibility, key factors in preventing injury (and ensuring you are limber enough to execute living room burpees and jump squats with confidence).

But perhaps the most critical benefit of all—especially right now? Dancing is straight-up fun. “Dancing has an emotional, energizing component that can’t be beat,” Davis says. “But it’s a super-effective way to burn calories, too, often without you even knowing you’re doing it” She notes that she often tracks her cardiovascular workouts using her heart rate monitor, and frequently finds that dancing will produce the highest heart rate—something she credits to the joy she’s feeling while doing it.

Your go-to digital dance programs at home

While the obé (or Our Body Electric) app ($27 per month) contains several types of exercises to choose from (HIIT, strength, etc.), the dance classes are arguably its biggest draw. Why? Expect to learn “moves TikTok hasn’t dreamed of” (according to its website) with a pastel-colored, 80s-inspired backdrop and super enthusiastic instructors to lead you through.

Another digital workout program channeling 80s Jane Fonda energy, 305 Fitness ($28.99 per month) is a hardcore HIIT session disguised as a dance class. Expect to jump, slide, dip, and of course, twerk your way to an elevated heart rate.

Yoga 

As anyone who’s taken a vinyasa or Bikram yoga class will tell you, it’s entirely possible to get your heart rate soaring during flows—especially when the room is heated. While a direct tie between yoga and weight loss is pretty murky, it might help you execute other exercises that do maximize calorie burns (HIIT, strength training, and dance) with more efficiency, Davis says.

“Any kind of strengthening and stretching is beneficial for weight loss because it will make your body stronger and more limber. This makes it possible to tackle your cardio and weight sessions with more intensity.”

Your go-to digital yoga apps at home

I love the YogaSix mobile app ($19.99 per month for IOS and Android) because it covers multiple aspects of yoga, from slow flows all the way to fast-paced power flows,” Honore explains. “All levels of yogis can find happiness and a challenge on this app.”

One of the top-rated yoga apps on the iTunes Store and Google Play, Yoga for Beginners, also happens to be one of the most economical ones (free for IOS and Android). Choose from beginner-friendly flows and yoga targeted toward specific parts of the body (like back and abs).

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Breastfeeding research improves lives and advances health, but faces conflicts

Breastfeeding and breast milk provide big opportunities to support maternal, infant and population health. This is especially true during the current pandemic because breastfeeding can help alleviate food insecurity, and research shows the breast milk of women who have recovered from COVID-19 offers a source of COVID-19 antibodies.

Breastfeeding saves lives and prevents illness. It is environmentally friendly and profoundly important to children’s long-term development. After all, breast milk is the only food that has evolved specifically to feed humans.

Breastfeeding matters

Beyond supplying nutrition, breast milk provides personalized immune protection and shapes the developing microbiome. Scientists have discovered enzymes, hormones, antibodies and live cells in breast milk, and these bioactive components could hold the key to developing new therapies—not only for COVID-19, but also autoimmune diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Yet, remarkably, we still don’t fully understand the composition of breast milk, or the biological basis for its many health effects. In fact, more scientific papers have been published on headaches than breastfeeding, and more federal research dollars from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada have been invested to study corn than breast milk.

The act of breastfeeding also supports mother-infant bonding and helps to prevent breast and ovarian cancer in mothers. Unfortunately, most mothers do not even meet their own breastfeeding goals, let alone achieve recommendations of exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by 18 months of breastfeeding along with other foods.

This is particularly concerning during this pandemic, when mothers infected with COVID-19 may be separated from their newborns (despite World Health Organization guidance to the contrary) and breastfeeding support is often unavailable because public health visits are being canceled and lactation services have been suspended in many places.

Tensions abound

Every parent knows that infant feeding is a complex issue, often evoking strong emotions based on personal experience. Difficult or negative breastfeeding experiences can fuel a defensive “breastfeeding denialism” attitude.

Conversely, some breastfeeding advocates refuse to acknowledge that for some families, formula is necessary for medical, personal, societal or socioeconomic reasons. These extreme attitudes cause a tense and unproductive environment for researchers working to generate inclusive evidence-based guidance for infant feeding.

Industry partnerships also cause tension in this field because the infant feeding industry frequently violates the World Health Organization code for marketing of breastmilk substitutes, and transgressions have worsened during the pandemic. However, due to lack of funding for breastfeeding research, scientists are often faced with choosing between industry funding or no funding at all.

Unfortunately, these tensions often detract from the energy and resources that breastfeeding advocates, researchers, health professionals and policy-makers could be using to advance their shared goal of supporting maternal and child health.

What can be done

Of course, members of the diverse breastfeeding advocacy and research communities will not always agree—but we should aim to find common ground and work together. There are many stakeholders involved, each with a role to play:

  • Governments and nonprofit funding organizations should acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding and breast milk and invest more resources into this field.
  • Researchers should build interdisciplinary teams to study breast milk as a biological system and think broadly about “breastfeeding challenges” in the context of complex social systems—including social inequities, parental leave policies, lactation difficulties and donor breast milk.
  • Companies, researchers and advocacy groups should co-develop a conflict of interest framework for research on breastfeeding and breast milk and reporting of results.

Messaging is key to achieving these goals. All groups need to communicate effectively with each other, and with the health-care, research and public sectors. This means providing or sharing clear resources to convey scientific evidence free of conflict of interest, targeted to each audience, such as fact sheets for policy-makers, engaging videos for the public and infographics for health-care providers.

Stakeholders also need to actively discredit unfounded claims and misinformation, such as unsubstantiated health claims made by infant nutrition companies, or rumors about the transmission of COVID-19 via breastfeeding, when there is no evidence of this occurring.

Looking forward

Progress in breastfeeding, breast milk and lactation research is being hampered by tensions among researchers, advocates and industry.

As breast milk scientists, breastfeeding researchers and lactation specialists, we are concerned about these tensions and their potential to impede or delay discoveries in our field. Last year, we held a workshop to discuss these concerns and develop solutions.

Our workshop paper was written before the pandemic, but its recent publication is timely. The pandemic has brought researchers together in ways that seemed impossible before.

Breast milk research that would normally take years has been completed in months with unprecedented efficiency. A global network of human milk banks was established in a matter of days to share information about safe operations during the pandemic. Milk scientists and breastfeeding researchers are meeting monthly with the WHO to speed up the transition from discovery to policy.

We hope these trends will continue beyond the pandemic and become the new standard for doing and sharing research.

COVID-19 has also emphasized both the importance and fragility of breastfeeding support systems, which have suffered considerably due to current restrictions. The pandemic has also highlighted the potential of breast milk to inform new avenues of biomedical research, such as milk antibodies as potential therapeutics.

We hope this added urgency will encourage researchers, advocates, funders and policy-makers to work together to accelerate progress in supporting breastfeeding and breast milk research.

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5 Shower Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Skin

You probably don’t put too much thought into your daily shower—it’s just something you do every day to get clean and, depending on your routine, wake up or wind down. But certain habits may actually be leaving you with dry, itchy skin, or even prone to a raging infection. Nix these sudsy saboteurs before you lather up next.

Your water is too hot

Dry, itchy skin? Scalding showers might be to blame. “If there is tons and tons of steam coming out, then that’s a sign that your shower is too hot,” says Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. In addition to drying out your skin, Dr. Piliang warns that hot showers can cause eczema to flare up.

You don’t have to give up steamy showers entirely. To get the same soothing effect, Dr. Piliang recommends letting the steam build up before you step under the water. “First turn on your shower as hot as you want it,” she explains. “Let it get nice and steamy and warm in there, and after it’s all heated up, turn it down to a comfortable temperature and then get in.” This way you can enjoy the heat without irritating your skin.

You’re using a harsh soap

You may love that squeaky-clean feeling that comes from scouring your skin, but soaps with antibacterial agents or harsher detergents may be causing more harm than good.

That squeaky sensation happens when all of the natural oils have been stripped from the skin. In contrast, “when the oils are present, they act as a lubricant so your hand will slide smoothly over the skin,” says Dr. Piliang. Without that barrier, your skin is even more exposed to hot water, whipping winds, and other things that dry it out.

What’s more, triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient used in some soaps, has been linked to more serious health concerns. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that the ingredient is not toxic to humans, but studies in animals have suggested that triclosan may alter hormone levels. Other lab studies have linked the chemical to contributing to the development of antibiotic resistance.

Dr. Piliang recommends skipping antibacterial soaps in the shower, and looking for products that are fragrance-free and contain added moisturizers. Everyone’s skin is different, so you may need to try a few different products to find the one that’s right for you.

You’re scrubbing too much

Unless you’re covered in grime (from say, working outside all day), the only places that need major soaping are your armpits and groin. Water does the job for everything else—even after a sweaty workout, explains Robynne Chutkan, MD, the founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and author of The Microbiome Solution ($16, amazon.com).

In addition to those natural oils, your skin is also crawling with “good” bacteria that are crucial for skin health. Scrubbing down from head-to-toe, even if you’re using a milder soap, can still strip your skin of this beneficial bacteria that helps protect you from acne and eczema flare-ups, and yep, dry skin.

You’re not cleaning your razor

Razors can collect bacteria from your skin, and can then breed more germs while sitting in a damp, dark shower. That’s why you must rinse it with scalding hot water before each use, says Sanford Vieder, MD, of Lakes Urgent Care in Michigan. Skipping this step can opening you up to infection, especially if you cut yourself, but even if you don’t.

“When you use the razor you can obviously nick yourself and give yourself a cut, but the razor is also going to make very microscopic tears in the skin that can be a portal of entry for bacteria or fungus,” adds Dr. Piliang.

You should replace your razor blade completely about once a week. “If you use a dull blade you are at a greater risk of cutting your skin and creating an entryway for that bacteria to come in,” warns Dr. Vieder.

You’re skipping gym shower etiquette

Your years of dorm living may be long behind you, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the practice of wearing flip flops when you use a communal bathroom.

“Athletes foot and warts can be picked up in public places,” warns Dr. Piliang. “Wearing shower shoes or flip flops on your feet when you’re in and out of the shower can help avoid these problems.”

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Lifestyle

How to Know if You Have Herpes, According to Doctors

We tend to talk about herpes in hushed tones, as if having herpes is somehow a badge of shame. But this viral infection is incredible common, not a big deal at all from a health standpoint, and best of all, it can be effectively treated.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about just how many people live with it. Worldwide, 491.5 million people have been diagnosed with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). HSV-1 is the virus that causes cold sores on the mouth and lips, but both types of herpes can infect either the mouth, genitals, or anus. One in five women ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes, per the Office on Women’s Health.

“Herpes has such a negative stigma around it, and many people get very upset at a diagnosis,” Taraneh Shirazian, MD, ob-gyn at NYU Langone in New York City, tells Health. Part of the reason for this is that this sexually transmitted infection (STI) is episodic—meaning that after an outbreak clears up, it lives dormant in your nervous system until something triggers the virus to cause another outbreak. (Not everyone who has herpes will experience subsequent outbreaks, however.)

Another reason a herpes diagnosis is so upsetting is because people think it means the end of their sex life. But Dr. Shirazian tells patients that herpes can be managed—decreasing the risk of passing it to others as well as reducing or even preventing future outbreaks for yourself.

Before getting into exactly how it’s managed, you’ll want to know the signs that might indicate you have herpes. Unlike other STIs, which can be diagnosed via tests, herpes is usually diagnosed when certain symptoms appear. These are the six signs to watch for, and how to know if you should go to the doctor:

Blisters on your vulva or vagina

Who hasn’t seen a wayward bump on their vulva and automatically panicked? But there is a difference between bumps (like in-grown hairs, for example, or skin irritation) and sores from herpes. “What I tell women is that herpes lesions are ulcerated,” says Dr. Shirazian. (Ulcerated means that they will have a small little crater or clearing in the center.)

While you can have any number of blisters, they also tend to appear in a tiny cluster of one to three lesions, she says. And though they typically show up on mucus membranes, they can also form on regular skin of your private parts as well. They may appear on the vagina, vulva, perineum, anus, butt, and upper thighs.

Pain and/or itching in or around the blisters

Lesions are usually very painful to touch—especially during the first herpes outbreak, which tends to be more severe. “The main thing that brings women into the office with herpes is pain,” says Dr. Shirazian. Bumps that you find just by chance when sudsing up in the shower or toweling off probably aren’t herpes. “Herpes lesions will make themselves known and felt,” she says. They can also itch, especially as they begin to scab over and heal.

Burning when you pee

Herpes lesions can cause a lot of pain and burning when you pee, if your urine stream runs over any open sores on your vulva or outside your vagina near your urethra. A urinary tract infection (UTI) also causes burning, Jee Shim, MD, an ob/gyn at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills in Queens, New York tells Health. Occasionally it can be tough to tell the difference between herpes burning and UTI burning, but herpes might cause more of an immediate stinging.

Flu-like symptoms

Herpes is caused by a virus, and some people can have a flu-like response to an infection, including fever, headache, and enlarged lymph nodes in the groin, Donna Neale, MD, assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine tells Health.

These flu-like symptoms often happen with just the first episode, says Dr. Shim. While the initial outbreak can be painful and tough to get through, it does get better. “With recurrent episodes, the symptoms tend to be less severe and shorter in duration than primary episodes. You can still—but rarely—develop [flu-like] symptoms, but most people will only develop painful lesions,” she explains.

Tingling or pain before blisters form

If you know you’ve been exposed to herpes, you might want to watch for “prodromal” symptoms. “About 50% of people will have symptoms such as itching, tingling, or pain on genital skin before blisters or sores appear,” says Dr. Shim. Usually you’ll experience an outbreak later, but it’s possible to have this tingling or itching and have no sores show up, she says.

No symptoms at all

You can be infected with the virus, but it might not cause any symptoms, says Dr. Neale. “Herpes is not always straightforward with painful red ulcers,” she says. “Not everyone has symptoms the first time, and some people find out later in life they were exposed to herpes. If you’re diagnosed, it doesn’t mean it’s a new and primary infection,” she says. Keep in mind that even if you are asymptomatic, you can still pass the virus onto a partner.

How herpes is diagnosed

Your first step is to make an appointment with your gynecologist if you have a lesion on your genitals or believe you were exposed to herpes. “Google really can’t tell you if you have genital herpes or not,” says Dr. Shim. A diagnosis of herpes can be made with an exam, but your doctor will also order a culture swab from the sore to confirm the virus.

Your doctor can give you advice on easing symptoms, shortening their duration, and preventing outbreaks in the future. Taking the antiviral drug Valtrex daily can decrease transmission to a non-infected partner, says Dr. Shirazian. Maintaining general healthy habits—the stuff you always hear like eating healthy, staying active, and getting enough sleep—go a long way to keeping your immune system strong to minimize outbreaks.