DW's Health News: Why fish pedicures are a bad idea

Did you know that fish pedicures can cause deformations in your toenails? Or that if you feel young, your brain has probably stayed young, too? DW brings you this week's health news, all in one handy guide!

Fish pedicures – A bad idea!

If you've ever wondered what it's like to get a fish pedicure don't. The treatment uses "doctor fish," known as Garra rufa, that nibble dead skin off your feet. It trended about 10 years ago and is still popular, despite some concerns over hygiene. The hot water tub that you place your feet in is often re-used, as are the fish patient after patient and various fungi and disease-causing bacteria have been detected at fish pedicure spas.

On top of that, a new report in the journal JAMA Dermatology suggests your toes may effectively stop growing after a fish pedicure. This seems to have happened to a 20-year-old woman, who presented with a six-month history of abnormal toenail growth after a fish pedicure. Researchers think the fish may have caused the nail plate to temporarily stop producing, a condition called Onychomadesis. So you might want to rethink the whole fish-pedicure-treatment idea.

92-year-old Johanna Quaas from Germany is the world's oldest gymnast. And she's fit as a fiddle!

Feeling young makes your brain young

People who feel younger than their age seem to show less signs of aging in their brain. Researchers in Korea used the common magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to scan the brains of 68 healthy people aged 59 to 84. They also asked them a series of questions. Their results showed people who felt younger than their age scored better in memory tests, considered themselves to be healthy and were less likely to report symptoms of depression.

In short, the brains of people who felt younger had more structural characteristics of a younger brain. "If someone feels older than their age, it could be a sign for them to evaluate their lifestyle, habits and activities that could contribute to brain aging, and take measures to better care for their brain health," Dr. Jeanyung Chey of Seoul National University said.

A healthy diet is the key to preventing obesity in adults and children

How moms can prevent obesity in kids

Mothers who want to strongly reduce their children's risk of becoming obese have to develop five healthy habits themselves: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, drinking only in moderation and not smoking.

Researchers from Harvard University discovered that children whose mothers followed these habits were 75 percent less likely to become obese than children whose mothers didn't follow a healthy lifestyle. When children and mothers worked together to follow these five healthy habits, the obesity risk was 82 percent lower.

This discovery is important because global childhood obesity is on the rise. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that more than 41 million children under the age of five were overweight. Overweight children often grow into overweight adults, who are more likely to develop diabetes, cardiovascular and other diseases. 

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar makes you fat!

Sugar is converted to fat in the body about two to five times more quickly than starches. In other words, when we consume sugar, we’re feeding our fat cells. The fructose in sugar is also metabolized by the liver, which can contribute to fatty liver disease. That can promote insulin resistance and lead to Type 2 diabetes – with a lifelong impact on your health.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar affects your mood!

In small amounts, sugar promotes the release of serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood. But too much sugar can promote depression and anxiety. Sudden shifts in blood sugar levels can also lead to irritability, anxiety and mood swings.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar contributes to aging!

We already know that sugar has a variety of health effects, but it also affects the skin. That’s in part due to glycation, the process whereby sugar molecules bind to collagen fibers. As a result, the collagen fibers lose their natural elasticity. Excess sugar also damages microcirculation, which slows cell turnover. That can promote the development of wrinkles, make you look older than your age.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar is harmful to your gut!

The microflora of your gut promote digestion and protect your digestive system from harmful bacteria. Consuming too much sugar gets your gut microflora out of whack. Fungi and parasites love sugar. An excess of the Candida albicans yeast can lead to a host of annoying health symptoms. And sugar also contributes to constipation, diarrhea and gas.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar can be addictive!

In overweight people, the brain responds to sugar by releasing dopamine, in much the same way that it responds to alcohol or other addictive substances. Test it yourself: avoid all sugary foods and beverages for ten days. If you start to get headachy and irritable after a day or two, and start craving sugar, then you could be suffering from sugar withdrawal.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar makes you aggressive!

People who consume excess sugar are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior. Children with ADHD are also affected by sugar. For these children, too much sugar affects concentration and promotes hyperactivity. That’s why it’s a good idea for children to avoid eating sugar during school hours.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar weakens the immune system!

Excessive sugar consumption makes it harder for the immune system to ward off disease. After consuming sugar, the immune system’s ability to kill germs is reduced by up to 40 percent. Sugar also saps the body’s store of vitamin C, which white blood cells need to fight off viruses and bacteria. Sugar also promotes the inflammatory response, and even minor inflammation can trigger numerous diseases.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar promotes Alzheimer’s disease!

Studies have shown that excess sugar consumption increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study showed that insulin resistance and high blood sugar values – both of which are common in diabetes – are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar increases cancer risk!

Cancer cells need sugar to proliferate. An international research team headed by Lewis Cantley of Harvard Medical School is researching how sugar might contribute to the growth of malignant cells. He believes that refined sugar may be what causes cancer cells to develop into tumors. He’s still testing that hypothesis but recommends that even slender people consume as little sugar as possible.

Bitter truth about sugar

Sugar makes you stupid!

Excess sugar consumption may have a negative impact on memory. According to a study carried out by Berlin’s Charité University Hospital, people with high blood sugar levels have a smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain that’s key to long term memory. In the study, people with high blood sugar also performed more poorly on tests of memory than those with low blood sugar levels.

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