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How your diet could be causing puffy under-eyes – and the foods to avoid

We have all tried the drugstore concoctions and expensive creams to try to eliminate our puffy under eye bags before a work meeting or dinner date – but the only way to help reduce puffiness and dark circles is to understand where it is stemming from.

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Whether it’s lack of sleep, stress or environment, your eyes can be sensitive to puffiness and dark circles. 

We have all tried the drugstore concoctions and expensive creams to try to eliminate our puffy under eye bags before a work meeting or dinner date – but the only way to help reduce puffiness and dark circles is to understand where it is stemming from. 

Roshni Patel, BSC (Hons) MCOptom reveals the truth behind bags under our eyes, the causes of them and some advice on how to help reduce them;

‘Bags under the eyes are commonly associated with a lack of sleep, and appear as mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes, primarily as a result of fluid accumulation. They are predominantly a cosmetic concern and rarely ever are a sign of a serious medical condition.’

‘Though the most recognisable and familiar is a lack of sleep, eye bags can result from a wide variety of different causes’.

1. Fluid retention

Fluid retention can become more of a problem as we age. The skin under the eyelid becomes thinner and can result in puffy eyes.

This can be especially more noticeable in the morning and can be prominent after having a salty meal, which causes greater fluid retention in the body. 

2. Allergies

Pollen, dust and pet allergies are a common reason why people suffer with puffy eye bags. If you are not sure which is causing it, you can get an appointment with your GP who may refer you to an allergy clinic. This will help determine the cause and hopefully reduce your exposure to the allergen. 

3. Smoking

Smoking can contribute towards puffy eye bags as the nicotine found in cigarettes disrupts sleep patterns. This does not only lead to tiredness but also a build up on fluids as your body has not had a chance to fully rest and restore. Smoking also breaks down skin’s elasticity and collagen production reduces which can cause the skin to look puffy or sag. 

4. A hereditary condition

Unfortunately for some, puffy under eyes is not to do with their outside environment but is a hereditary condition. Autoimmune conditions are also known to cause puffy under eyes. If you do have a family history of puffy under eye bags, people do find cold compresses in the morning or before you go out can reduce the appearance temporarily. 

5. Sun exposure

Much like when we burn, our bodies are defending our skin from further damage. If your eyes are suffering from too much sun exposure, then the natural response is inflammatory – this is your body’s way of trying to protect your eyes. Sun damage and excess heat commonly cause swelling and puffiness. 

6. Eczema

For those living with eczema, the winter air can make puffy eyes considerably worse – this is due to the dry air. Atopic dermatitis can occur, causing irritation around the eyes and eyelid, this can lead to puffiness as the skin’s natural defence mechanism is to protect your eyes. 

So, how can we remedy our puffy eye bags? 

  • Longer and more consistent sleep: lack of rest is the most common reason for eye bags, but sleeping efficiently with regular hours can contribute to a healthier lifestyle in general.
  • Use antihistamines: allergies can sometimes result in puffy eyes. By taking antihistamines, you can reduce the effects of the allergy, including puffiness.
  • Reduce stress: stress can lead to worse sleep and puffy eyes. Dealing with it with options like exercise and lifestyle decisions can help protect your mental health, and reduce the toll on your body.
  • Eat less salt and have more iron-rich food: salt encourages fluid retention in the body and can result in fluid build-up under the eyes. A reduction in salt intake may assist with reducing puffiness. For those that struggle with anemia, eating iron-rich foods may also help to reduce symptoms as they allow the increase of oxygen to reach the tissues in your body and avoid the appearance of dark circles.
  • Remember to take your makeup off before bed: After a long day, it’s important to wash your face and remove all makeup before going to sleep. Leaving eye makeup on overnight can irritate your eyes and as a result can increase your chances of infection which can make your eyes become red and puffy. 
  • Cold or caffeinated compress: caffeine and cold can both help to lessen the appearance of bags under the eyes. A cool green tea bag applied under the eyes may reduce puffiness.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake: Dehydration can lead to dark circles under your eyes and bags, so cutting out or reducing your intake of alcohol which contributes to dehydration may help relieve this appearance.
  • Use sun cream: sun exposure can accelerate the effects of ageing and ultimately lead to bags under the eyes as the tissues weaken. Use sun cream to protect your body from UV rays.
  • Include retinol cream in your everyday skin routine – Retinal is a cream that’s been used to tackle acne, aging, psoriasis and even certain cancers, and is an ingredient that is related to vitamin A. Retinal can help tackle eye bags as when applied to the skin it can improve collagen deficiency. It is typically applied as a cream gel or liquid form and is applied once a day.
  • Stay hydrated – dehydration can be a significant factor to experiencing under-eye bags. It’s important we are keeping our water levels replenished each day, with experts recommending drinking around 13 cups of fluids a day for men and 9 for women.

For more information, head to Lenstore at https://www.lenstore.co.uk/eyecare/bags-under-your-eyes.

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5 Steps for women to reduce their risk of COPD

Women tend to develop COPD earlier in life than men and are more likely to have severe symptoms and be hospitalized with the disease. The good news? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for COPD.

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If you’re a woman who tries to stay healthy, you may exercise several times per week, watch what you eat and get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. But are you listening to your lungs?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a leading cause of disability and death in the United States, takes an especially heavy toll on women. You may think problems like shortness of breath, frequent coughs or wheezing are just signs of getting older, but it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and discuss them with your doctor.

COPD is a serious lung disease that causes breathing problems and worsens over time. It has often been considered a man’s disease. Yet more women than men have been diagnosed with COPD in the past decade, and over the past 20 years more women have died from it, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women tend to develop COPD earlier in life than men and are more likely to have severe symptoms and be hospitalized with the disease. The good news? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for COPD.

Don’t Smoke

You probably already know cigarette smoking is harmful  but did you know that women may be more vulnerable to the effects of smoking? Women who smoke tend to get COPD at younger ages and with less cigarettes smoked than men. COPD is the leading cause of death among U.S. women smokers.

If you do smoke, it’s never too late to quit.

If you thought vaping was a healthy alternative to smoking, think again. Researchers are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, but they may contain as many, if not more, harmful chemicals than tobacco cigarettes.

Avoid Pollutants

Among people with COPD who have never smoked, most are women. Women may be more vulnerable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Women’s smaller lungs and airways mean the same amount of inhaled pollutants may cause more damage.

Working in places like nail salons, hair salons or dry cleaners can expose you to harmful chemicals. If you’re exposed to chemical fumes at your job, talk to your employer about ways to limit exposure. Better ventilation and wearing a mask can help.

Stay Current on Vaccines

People at risk for COPD are more likely to have serious problems resulting from some vaccine-preventable diseases. Ask a health care provider about getting vaccinated against the flu, pneumococcal disease and COVID-19.

Talk to Your Doctor About COPD

Women with COPD tend to be diagnosed later than men when the disease is more severe and treatments are less effective. If you think you could be at risk, or you are having symptoms, bring it up with your health care provider. Treatment can ease symptoms and improve your ability to exercise.

Learn More to Breathe Better

Find more information on COPD from NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better program at copd.nhlbi.nih.gov.

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2 Steps to save a life

“By equipping people with Hands-Only CPR training, we are empowering them to spring into action if a loved one needs help, as the majority of cardiac arrests occur at home.”

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More than 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur annually outside hospital settings. However, a hands-on emergency intervention like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

According to the American Heart Association, 70% of cardiac arrests – electrical malfunctions in the heart that cause an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupt the flow of blood to the brain, lungs and other organs – occur at home, but often family and friends who witness a child, spouse, parent or friend going into cardiac arrest hesitate to perform potentially lifesaving CPR for fear of making the situation worse.

“By equipping people with Hands-Only CPR training, we are empowering them to spring into action if a loved one needs help, as the majority of cardiac arrests occur at home,” said Dr. Anezi Uzendu, M.D., interventional cardiologist and American Heart Association volunteer.

As part of its Hands-Only CPR campaign, nationally supported by the Elevance Health Foundation, the American Heart Association aims to increase awareness about the importance of bystander CPR and offers these two simple steps:

1.      Call 911.
2.      Push hard and fast in the center of the chest of the individual experiencing cardiac arrest.

Using the beat of a familiar song with 100-120 beats per minute, such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, can help you stay on pace with the necessary compressions.

“Being able to efficiently perform Hands-Only CPR in the moment can mean the difference between life and death, and by following these two simple steps we can increase someone’s chance of survival from cardiac arrest,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., board certified emergency medicine doctor and chief health officer at Elevance Health. “As a longstanding supporter of the American Heart Association, we remain focused on working together to improve health inequities in our communities by expanding access to training and increasing the number of people who learn and feel confident performing Hands-Only CPR to save lives.”

To find more information, watch a livestream video demonstration of Hands-Only CPR or download a first aid smartphone app, visit heart.org/CPR.

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What you eat could contribute to your menstrual cramps

Roughly 90% of adolescent girls experience menstrual pain. Most use over-the-counter medicine to manage the pain but with limited positive results. Evidence has highlighted that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods, oil, and sugar reduce inflammation, a key contributor to menstrual pain.

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Despite the fact that menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is the leading cause of school absences for adolescent girls, few girls seek treatment. An analysis of relevant studies suggests that diet may be a key contributor, specifically diets high in meat, oil, sugar, salt, and coffee, which have been shown to cause inflammation.

Roughly 90% of adolescent girls experience menstrual pain. Most use over-the-counter medicine to manage the pain but with limited positive results. Evidence has highlighted that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in processed foods, oil, and sugar reduce inflammation, a key contributor to menstrual pain.

This analysis was designed to study the effect of diet on menstrual pain and identify which foods contribute to it and which can reduce it. Research was conducted through a literature review that found multiple studies that examined dietary patterns that resulted in menstrual pain. In general terms, these studies found that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids reduce it. The muscles in the uterus contract because of prostaglandins, which are active in inflammatory responses. When measuring the Dietary Inflammatory Index, it was found that those on a vegan diet (that excluded animal fat) had the lowest rates of inflammation.

“Researching the effects of diet on menstrual pain started as a search to remedy the pain I personally experienced; I wanted to understand the science behind the association. Learning about different foods that increase and decrease inflammation, which subsequently increase or reduce menstrual pain, revealed that diet is one of the many contributors to health outcomes that is often overlooked. I am hopeful that this research can help those who menstruate reduce the pain they experience and shed light on the importance of holistic treatment options,” says Serah Sannoh, lead author of the poster presentation from Rutgers University.

“Since menstrual pain is a leading cause of school absenteeism for adolescent girls, it’s important to explore options that can minimize the pain. Something like diet modification could be a relatively simple solution that could provide substantial relief for them,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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