You’d Never Guess This Chickpea Cookie Dough Is Healthy

We’ve heard about dessert hummus and edible, egg-free cookie dough. And thanks to one blogger, these two examples of deliciousness have been combined to make the ultimate treat: a protein-packed cookie dough recipe. The secret ingredient? Chickpeas.

“I have a major sweet tooth,” Krista Rollins, creator of Joyful Healthy Eats tells Health. “I also just had a baby so was trying to satisfy that sweet tooth while trying to lose that baby weight. Enter this chickpea cookie dough! It’s amazing. The key to the smooth texture, even though tedious, is peeling off some of those chickpea skins!”

Chickpeas are extremely versatile, gluten-free, and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Research even suggests that consuming them can lower your risk of diabetes and help you lose weight.

With Rollins’ recipe, you can make this nutrient-rich cookie dough yourself. All you need are seven ingredients: chickpeas, peanut butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, chia seeds, and 60% cacao chocolate chips or cocoa nibs. (The full recipe and instructions are here).

Cookie dough that doesn’t put you at risk of contracting salmonella and has health benefits? We’re heading to the nearest grocery store for a can of chickpeas.

Why Your LaCroix Obsession Isn’t So Healthy

Put down that can of key lime LaCroix for a second. We have to talk.

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I’ve been asked by Insta-friends and clients alike several times recently: How much La Croix  is too much LaCroix? Sorry, but you may not totally love my answer.

Let me first jump off my high nutritionist horse and lead with the good: It’s absolutely a better option than soda, diet or otherwise. In the grand scheme of things, drinking excessive amounts of sparkling water is very far down on my list of concerns with clients at my Foodtrainers NYC office. But if you’ve already cleaned up your diet, are eating veggies and mainly whole foods, pay attention to ingredient labels, and take your health seriously, here are a few factors to consider.

There is a lot of confusion over what “natural flavors” actually means and, in general, I steer very clear foods that include them on the ingredient label. These “natural” flavors are often more similar to “artificial” ingredients, and can sometimes include preservatives. (Related: Whoa! This Company Is Adding Weed to Sparkling Water)

LaCroix’s website says “the flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit used in each of our LaCroix flavors. There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, these extracted flavors.” I don’t mind this explanation if it’s true and the taste is actually derived from an essential oil (LaCroix didn’t return my emails to confirm).

My main concern is that these intense flavors can make you crave that and expect it every time you grab a drink (plain ol’ tap water is never going to provide that for you). That’s what happens when you overdo it on sugar. Often people who think water is boring (I hear it more than you can imagine) are overdoing heavily flavored foods and drinks.

Not only are all those bubbles not great for your teeth (carbonation comes from CO2, carbon dioxide, which reacts with water to form carbolic acid, which may wear away tooth enamel). It also may not be great for your weight. One study published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice found that rats that had carbonated drinks ate more and gained more weight over a six-month period than those that drank flat drinks or plain water. The bubbly-bev rats also had more of the appetite-increasing hormone ghrelin, which signals your body to eat more, which can explain the weight gain.

The thing about LaCroix that scares me the most can actually be found in many packaged products around the supermarket such as other canned beverages or vegetables, and even in your “healthy” protein powder. BPA-based plastics are used to line food and drink cans to protect against metal contamination, but these endocrine disruptors bring on a host of health problems on their own.

Plus, some studies show that BPA can seep into the food and drinks. While LaCroix and other canned product manufacturers are quick to point out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in food, it’s not something I agree with or would suggest to my clients. FWIW, the state of California, for example, includes BPA in its Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals that are “known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

So, if you don’t want your hormones to be all out of whack—this can cause a host of health problems such as thyroid and metabolism issues, irregular periods, and changes to your mood, energy, or fertility—I’d ditch cans for glass bottles. (And, sorry, no; it doesn’t count if you just pour the canned drink into a glass.) It turns out, LaCroix actually does sell some products in glass bottles, so grab them if you can hunt them down!

So, my answer to the question of how much LaCroix is too much? Ideally, I’d suggest you max out at one or two sparkling water drinks a day, drink them from a glass bottle, and add your own fresh flavoring (slice of lemon, lime, or grapefruit) for an extra boost. My personal favorite (unflavored) brands are Topo Chico, Mountain Valley, and Gerolsteiner. If you cannot live without a little lemon/lime flavor, Spindrift uses real fruit extracts.

What to Do If Eating Out Gives You Food Guilt

Guilt is the result of breaking a rule you’ve set for yourself. When it comes to eating, there are often so many contradicting rules in our heads that we’re bound to mess up at almost every meal. For example, if you’re restricting sugar, gluten, and dairy and trying to achieve the perfectly “balanced” life everyone is always talking about, you’ll likely fall short somewhere.

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Evaluate the rules you’ve set for yourself, and consider whether they truly create an approach that suits your lifestyle and health goals. Ask yourself some questions. Are there times when eating unhealthy foods is worth it to you? Are you satisfied with eating a salad at lunch but not at dinner with friends? Are you particularly upset if you are pressured off your meal plan? Use this info and write, “I want to be a person who…” and fill in the blanks.

If you want to be a person who “eats healthy during the day but enjoys delicious meals when the food is high-quality and you’re laughing with friends,” that bigger meal out can feel more acceptable and your guilt may go down. You’ll also be able to identify times and treats that don’t feel as worth it (think: movie popcorn), which will help you curb unhealthy eating before you make choices that spur a guilt spiral.

The One Kitchen Gadget That’s Actually Worth Buying According to Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard isn’t a big fan of kitchen gadgets, but there’s one she can’t live without—especially in the summer.

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Cherry pitters, the chef said, are worth every penny.

“I think sometimes people go a little crazy with gadgets,” the Girl & the Goat chef said at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. “There are lots of really unnecessary gadgets. But a cherry pitter—it’s pretty sweet. If you’re going to eat cherries for the seaon, it’s definitely worthwhile.” (We like this one, which is only $9 on Amazon)

A device that quickens the tedious process of pitting cherries makes summer pies and salads much easier to prepare. Plus, cherry pitters work on more than just cherries.

“I’m a big olive person, and there are definitely olive this works for,” Izard added.

While Izard doesn’t love fresh cherries, she pits them all the time to put in pie—”When you cook cherries you end up with a totally different flavor profile. When you cook them they get all mooshy and lose that brightness,” she said.

Izard’s demo at the Classic focused on easy entertaining. She started the event off by making a quick cocktail out of the liquid leftover from pickling rhubarb and Fresno peppers. Whenever she quick-pickles vegetables—which she does a lot—she saves the liquid to mix into cocktails, vinaigrettes, and soda water.

“You take a vegetable, you [can use] various vinegars depending on what it is,” Izard said. “A sugar and salt mixture, you just pour it over and make a very simple version of a quick pickle.”

One of her favorite pickle juice concoctions? The leftover liquid from green strawberries mixed with seltzer.

This Strain of Bird Flu Kills One-Third of Patients

New fears are starting to grow as there’s a strain of bird flu that’s killed over one-third of those it infects. Some experts warn that it has the potential to be the next pandemic.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, has multiple subtypes. But, two have become the most concerning.

One strain of the bird flu, identified as H7N9, was first detected in people in 2013 in China, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Before 2013, this strain hadn’t been seen in any other population except birds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the five years after the disease was found in humans, health officials have battled multiple outbreaks.

However, one good piece of news is that the virus doesn’t infect humans very easily. Most bird flu infections are transmitted between birds and only spread to humans who have close contact with the animals.

“Most of the human infections (found in China and Asian countries) occurred in people who had close contact with poultry, either raising them or seeking them in an open market environment,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

What’s the risk of a global outbreak?

Although this virus was found in China, experts worry that in today’s globalized world it can have ramifications across continents.

This year, experts have already detected cases of global spread: Two cases of the virus were seen in Canada and one case in Malaysia. The CDC also reported that two cases of H7N9 were found on farms in Tennessee last year, despite having weaker features for human transmission.

In its current form, the virus has little to no ability to transmit person-to-person.

However, scientists at the CDC using the Influenza Risk Assessment Tool have identified the Asian lineage H7N9 virus as “having the greatest potential to cause a pandemic as well as potentially posing the greatest risk to severely impact public health if it were to achieve sustained human to human transmission.”

Although there’s potential for a pandemic, in its current form it’s unlikely. Horovitz believed “human-to-human transmission of this virus hasn’t been demonstrated, so the potential for a pandemic isn’t high.”

The CDC advised that travelers to China take “common sense precautions.” This includes avoiding contact with any birds and washing your hands with antimicrobial soap. Further, if you’re going to consume poultry products, ensure that they’re fully cooked. Currently, neither the CDC nor the WHO has issued travel warnings against going to China since the transmission from person-to-person is low.

Horovitz added that “since contact with sick poultry is a clear risk, birds that succumb to H7N9 shouldn’t be handled by farmers and those in the poultry industry. But this is a warning mainly for Asia.”

Scientists warned that despite low chances of person-to-person transmission, it’s not impossible. Last year, scientists published that the three mutations they identified, if occurring at the same time, can make person-to-person transmission of H7N9 a feasible and deadly reality.

The symptoms of H7N9 are similar to the more familiar yearly influenza virus. Those with the virus can develop a high fever, cough, and sometimes shortness of breath.

However, these symptoms tend to progress to worsening pneumonia. Some can develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, where the lungs don’t have the ability to oxygenate blood, resulting in septic shock and multi-organ failure. People at the greatest risk include those who are pregnant, young children, and those over the age of 65.

Fighting ‘Disease X’

The warnings regarding the avian flu came amid the naming of ‘Disease X’ in a list of 10 priority diseases requiring immediate attention from the WHO. This list was created after the 2014 Ebola crisis which infected over 28,500 people and killed 11,000. Disease X is a currently unknown pathogen to scientists that could infect global populations. It’s a made-up term used to raise awareness about new and upcoming diseases.

Other popular viruses that made this top 10 list include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Zika. Although scientists haven’t said if Disease X is the H7N9 virus, some warn for early awareness.

Historically, the 1918 Spanish flu had the highest death rate of all known flu pandemics. At that time, anywhere between 1 and 40 percent of people who contracted the illness died. Death rates depended on community readiness and ability to combat and prevent illness. Using this historical information, health organizations are keeping a close eye on H7N9.

Although these findings are concerning, Horovitz reiterated that “since human-to-human transmission doesn’t appear to occur as far as we know at present, the public should be reassured that a pandemic is unlikely now.”

Why the Loss of Your Pet Could Be the Hardest to Bear

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.

pet loss

If you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, you know just how true that old adage is.

From dogs to cats to canaries to lizards, we humans form unbreakable bonds with our furry, feathered, and scaled friends.

In a way, nearly every treasured pet is a therapy animal. They may not have certificates or wear special vests that give them upgraded seating status on airplanes, but they greatly enhance our lives in a number of ways.

Numerous studies have shown evidence that pets not only provide companionship and bring joy, they can also help people recover or better cope with a wide range of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.

And when a pet dies, it can be an emotionally devastating experience that can have a negative impact on our both our mental and physical health.

In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine reports one 61-year-old woman began experiencing severe chest pains following the death of her dog. She was admitted to the ER where doctors diagnosed her with takotsubo cardiomyopathy — otherwise known as “broken-heart syndrome” — a condition with symptoms that mimic a heart attack.

After being treated with medications she eventually recovered, but the death of her Yorkshire terrier literally broke her heart.

The loss of a cherished pet can be every bit as difficult as losing a person — or in some cases, even worse.

Researchers have found that social support is essential for recovery during the grieving process. However, while others are typically quick to help comfort an individual who is grieving the loss of another person, society’s attitude toward pet loss is very different.

People are often denied sufficient support following the death of a pet, which can increase emotional distress and lead to feelings of shame and isolation.

This can be particularly difficult for children who are experiencing the loss of a pet for the first time.

Pet loss can be especially hard for kids

Leah Carson, now a young adult, remembers her first pet. It was a gentle Golden Retriever mix named Sandy.

“We grew up together and she did everything with our family. I remember playing in the snow, hiking, and [sweet moments like] Sandy following me to my room when I came home from school,” Carson says. “When I was about 11-years old, Sandy got cancer and we had to put her to sleep. I cried a ton. I was so sad and confused. It was the first time I’d ever lost someone I loved. Afterward, there was so much quiet in her absence.”

Carson’s memories of Sandy are both heartwarming and heartbreaking, especially for those who’ve personally experienced similar loss at a young age.

Roxanne Hawn, author of “Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate,” understands that children are especially vulnerable to misunderstanding and grief following the death of a pet. She points out there are a variety of ways parents and adults can help kids through the grieving process.

“I suggest taking on memorial projects to focus your grief, and your kids’ grief, in productive ways,” Hawn says. “It’s better to embrace grief through action rather than ignore it.”

Hawn says grieving as a family can help children better process the loss, and she suggests activities in which each family member can participate as they feel the need.

“Have everyone write down as many happy memories as they can on colorful scraps of paper, and place all those good thoughts into a pretty bowl,” she says, offering one example. “Anytime someone experiences a surge in grief, they can grab one of those slips of paper and, at least for a moment, remember a happier time. Children who can’t yet write or spell can contribute drawings of their pet instead.”

Hawn also suggests allowing children to keep a pet’s beloved memento with them such as a collar or favorite toy — especially during the days immediately following the loss — its presence can help.

Age doesn’t make it easier

With a lifetime of experiences, senior citizens might seem as if they’d be better equipped to deal with the loss of a pet, but the opposite is often true.

“Losing a pet is extremely difficult for seniors. It is more than normal grief,” Lisa Frankel, PhD, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist tells Healthline. “Seniors have already dealt with so much loss: friends, family, life structure, hope, physical contact, community.”

She adds, “Pets, especially dogs, give them purpose, companionship, a reason to exercise and socialize. When a dog dies, all of that is gone.”

In Frankel’s practice, she works with many patients who are experiencing deep grief from the loss of a pet. She points out how feelings of guilt and shame can often complicate the grieving process. She cites examples of people who have lost their pet to coyote attacks or being hit by a car say they feel they could have done more to save their pet. Also, she points out others who have made the difficult decision to euthanize their pet are haunted by their decision.

She urges people who have lost a pet in these circumstances to be compassionate and forgive themselves, as well as spend time with others who understand their feelings. She also suggests organizations such as pet grief support groups, which can be a great comfort for some.

“Individual therapy can be helpful as well,” Frankel says. “Many people have a hard time opening up in groups and do better with individual counseling. If therapy triggers other losses or traumas, these losses might also have to be looked at. Grief that is really debilitating or lasts exceptionally long might be complicated by the association of the loss to other losses and trauma. Individual therapy might be really important to understand this connection and to work it through.”

How to cope

While no one approach to coping will work for all people who have lost a pet, there are many options and resources available to help.

In addition to the suggestions Frankel offered, she also recommends two books, “How to ROAR: Pet Loss Grief Recovery” by Robin Jean Brown and “The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies” by Wallace Sife, founder of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

The blog Pet Loss Help has published an expansive list of bereavement resources which includes numerous pet-loss support hotlines and information about support groups in different states, as well as additional online resources.

Being Allergic to Red Meat May Hurt Your Heart

We’ve all heard it a million times: too much red meat is bad for your heart.

Now researchers are starting to pay closer attention to a specific allergy to red meat caused by a tick bite that could play a prominent role in developing heart disease.

What makes you allergic to red meat?

In a new study published this week in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology — a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association — scientists claim to have for the first time identified this link.

Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, generally referred to as simply alpha-gal, is an oligosaccharide (a form of carbohydrate) found in the cells of non-primate mammals including cows, sheep, and pigs — aka, the animals humans tend to eat.

Alpha-gal was previously identified by doctors as the cause of allergic reactions, including potentially fatal anaphylactic shock in humans. Now they are pointing their finger at it for its role heart disease.

“This study brings to light that inflammation can cause injury to the inner lining of the heart vessels and lead to heart attacks,” said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City. “Those that are allergic to alpha-Gel have an increased propensity for heart disease, likely due to inflammation, however this is likely not the only underlying factor in those who have heart disease and this allergy.”

Bhusri was not directly involved with the study itself.

In the study, researchers conducted intravascular ultrasounds of 118 subjects to observe atheroma, the buildup of plaque, inside the arteries of the heart. They also tested for the presence of alpha-gal allergy.

Alpha-gal allergy was detected in roughly one-quarter (26.3 percent) of the participants, and researchers discovered a “significant association of atheroma burden and volume” in those patients with the alpha-gal allergy. In some cases, individuals with the allergy had 30 percent more plaque accumulation than those who did not.

“Previous studies have shown that non-specific markers of allergic disease were associated with atherosclerosis, but this never included a specific allergen. Identification of a specific allergen is intriguing because it suggests that dietary avoidance of the specific allergen may be beneficial,” said first author Dr. Jeff Wilson, a researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

How a tick bite revealed the red meat allergy

Alpha-gal allergy is a relatively new discovery and is not always easy to identify.

In 2002 it was first discovered by Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, also at the University of Virginia, that the allergy was likely from an unexpected source: a breed of tick common to certain areas of the United States known as the lone star tick (Ambylomma americanum). It is primarily found in the Southeastern United States, as well as parts of New York, New Jersey, and New England.

Platts-Mills was investigating why some individuals were having allergic reactions to the cancer drug cetuximab, which contains alpha-gal. He found that those with a history of lone star tick bites were prone to allergic reactions while using the drug.

It’s still not understood how lone star tick bites trigger alpha-gal sensitivity, but they’re recognized as the primary culprit.

When a tick bite causes alpha-gal sensitivity in a human, it modifies their immunological response to eating meat. For these individuals, when meat is ingested, the body has an allergic reaction. Among other mechanisms, the body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) as a response to the perceived threat of alpha-gal entering the body.

This reaction has previously been observed as the cause of allergy symptoms, such as hives, nausea, stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, asthma, and headaches.

In prior research, it has also been identified as the cause anaphylaxis in otherwise apparently healthy individuals.

However, unlike most allergies in which symptoms present almost immediately, alpha-gal allergy may not show signs for up to six hours after eating meat. This makes it harder to identify and treat.

“The best way find out if you are sensitized to alpha-gal is to get the blood test. We currently only recommend it for people who notice allergic symptoms after eating red meat. In the future it is possible the blood test could be used to screen for individuals, particularly those with histories of tick bites and who live where lone star ticks are common, who could be at heightened cardiovascular risk because of the sensitivity,” said Wilson.

Researchers believe that identifying the association between tick bites, alpha-gal sensitivity, and heart disease could have important implications for future care. Among those affected by the allergy, specialized care and guidelines may need to be developed.

However, third-party experts contacted by Healthline agreed that the results, while interesting, certainly require more research, with a larger pool of patients.

“The study does raise interesting questions, as any good study does. It provides some answers, but I don’t think we can definitively say whether there’s a causation here or not. At this point it’s strictly an association study,” said Dr. Brian Silver, vice chair of neurology at Massachusetts Medical School, speaking on behalf of the American Heart Association.

Asthma Drug Shows Potential for Alzheimer’s Treatment

Anyone who’s gone through the pain of watching a loved one endure Alzheimer’s disease knows the importance of hope.

Hope that they’ll get better. Hope that a cure will soon be found to stop the degenerative disease.

While new research suggests that an old asthma drug could be given a new purpose to help protect the brain during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, experts not associated with the study are hopeful, yet guarded.

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have published research showing that, for the first time, a prescription drug currently on the market to treat asthma may help prevent some characteristic brain lesions that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

The condition affects almost 6 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In their study published in Molecular Neurobiology, researchers say the drug zileuton — a leukotriene biosynthesis inhibitor — can slow, stop, and potentially reverse the aggressive development of tau proteins, “the second-most important lesion in the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Zileuton is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by prescription to treat asthma. It’s sold in 600-milligram tablets under the brand name Zyflo.

What the study revealed

In their study, the Temple researchers administered zileuton to mice in a laboratory.

These mice were genetically engineered to have similar tau proteins in their brains as a human with Alzheimer’s.

In the trial, however, the mice were given the human version of the tau protein, a move other researchers said adds to the validity of the study.

Mice that didn’t receive the drug had degrading memories and problems understanding their physical spaces, two common traits associated with Alzheimer’s.

Mice that were given the drug over four months, on the other hand, behaved like normal mice.

Overall, the treatment decreased inflammation and tau development, and improvement in synapses in the mice’s brains.

In other words, the mice given the asthma drug had fewer symptoms typically associated with Alzheimer’s.

The drug accomplished this, the study explains, by focusing on leukotrienes, a substance found in both the lungs and brain. It’s been linked to inflammation, a common culprit in asthma and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Domenico Praticò, the senior investigator of the study and chair of Alzheimer’s research at Temple University, said the medication was able to “rescue” mice with established Alzheimer’s disease by interfering with the development of leukotrienes.

“At the onset of dementia, leukotrienes attempt to protect nerve cells, but over the long term, they cause damage,” Praticò said in a press release. “Having discovered this, we wanted to know whether blocking leukotrienes could reverse the damage, whether we could do something to fix memory and learning impairments in mice having already abundant tau pathology.”

Apparently, to some degree, it did.

The researchers concluded their study by saying their research represents “an ideal target with viable therapeutic potential” for treating the development of harmful tau proteins in human patients.

“This is an old drug for a new disease,” Praticò said. “The research could soon be translated to the clinic, to human patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Reaction to the study

That’s going to be the first hurdle of many the research has to clear before doctors start prescribing variations of asthma medication to people with Alzheimer’s.

Jimmy El Hokayem, PhD, is the head of program development for Biorasi, a Miami-based company that runs clinical trials for large drug companies, including those testing potential Alzheimer’s treatments.

He said, overall, it’s best not to get excited about studies done on animals.

“Mice are not humans,” he told Healthline. “Drugs can behave very differently in humans than in mice, producing unwanted side effects or even lacking the efficacy seen in the animals.”

But, he said, the study did address treatment, not prevention, as real-world patients are most likely to get treatment long into the development of tau proteins.

Overall, El Hokayem said there were many strengths to the research and since the drug is already approved for use in humans with asthma, it could be fast-tracked through the approval process with the FDA.

“Despite the inherent limitations of animal studies, anything that raises hope for patients can be important,” he said.

Heather Snyder, PhD, the Alzheimer’s Association senior director of medical and scientific relations, said early-stage research that uncovers potential new ways to treat other dementias “is critically important,” but the obvious next step is to determine if the drug therapy will be safe and effective for humans.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is pleased to have funded earlier work by this research team and we look forward to seeing additional research into the use of leukotriene inhibitors for dementia,” Snyder told Healthline. “The drug being tested in this study is already available on the market for another condition, which means we know a good deal about it from previous studies.”

Overweight Young Adults Twice as Likely to Binge Purge Than Thinner Young Adults

Researchers say medical professionals need to do a better job of diagnosing eating disorders among obese and overweight adults 18 to 24 years old.

Obese and overweight young adults are twice as likely than their slimmer peers to try to control their weight through unhealthy means such as binging, purging, using laxatives, or forcing themselves to vomit.That’s the finding of a recent study from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

The researchers analyzed information from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health that followed 14,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24.

They found that among young women, 29 percent in the obese or overweight category reported using unhealthy weight-control techniques, compared with 16 percent of underweight or healthy-weight women.

Among young men, the rate of unhealthy weight control techniques was also higher in the obese or overweight category with 15 percent reporting such behaviors compared with 7 percent in the underweight or healthy-weight category.

Dr. Jason Nagata, author of the study and a fellow in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and the Eating Disorders Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, says eating disorders in overweight or obese young adults is not being properly diagnosed.

“Our adolescent and young adult clinic is caring for more and more young people with both obesity and eating disorders. The intersection between obesity and eating disorders is under-recognized. Clinicians and parents should be aware that eating disorders can occur in young people who are overweight or obese,” Nagata told Healthline.

He adds this research highlights that eating disorders don’t just impact teenage girls.

“A common misconception is that disordered eating occurs only in thin females. We show that disordered eating behaviors are over three times more common in young adults with obesity than those who are underweight,” he said.

What the numbers reveal

At least 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder.

Of all mental health illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate, with at least one person dying every 62 minutes as a direct result of an eating disorder.

Environmental factors, genetics, and personality traits are some of the factors that can contribute to creating a risk for an eating disorder.

In the UCSF study, Nagata and his colleagues found an association between eating disorders and race and sexual orientation.

Of the 14,322 young adults from the study, those who identified as homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual were 1.62 times more likely to have disordered eating compared with those who identified as heterosexual.

“Sexual minorities have high rates of disordered eating behaviors and may experience greater dissatisfaction with their body image than their heterosexual counterparts,” Nagata said.

The young adults who reported that they were Asian/Pacific Islander were 1.66 times more likely to have disordered eating, compared with the young adults in the study who said they were white.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Isanders report the highest rates of binge-eating behaviors, However, these symptoms may be under-diagnosed as these young adult populations may receive less frequent healthcare services,” Nagata said.

Difficult to get a diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis for disordered eating can be difficult for a person who is overweight or obese.

Lauren Smolar, director of programs at the National Eating Disorders Association, says this can be due to doctors making incorrect assumptions about the health or habits of an overweight person.

“With an over-emphasis on weight in the health community, it is especially difficult for a higher-weight person to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. This is especially true for those with higher-weight bodies struggling with atypical anorexia or other restrictive disorders. Too often, when someone presents in a higher-weight body, clinicians assume things about that person’s health behaviors, which may or may not be correct. We need to move toward a standard of care where everyone, regardless of weight, is assessed for all eating disorder symptoms,” she told Healthline.

A common misconception of disordered eating is that it only impacts those who experience visible weight changes.

But Smolar says this isn’t always the case.

“Across the weight spectrum, there may or may not be visible signs of disordered eating or eating disorders. Outward appearance and changes in appearance cannot be the only indicator used to determine whether someone is struggling. Often there is a lot of shame for someone struggling with disordered eating behaviors, and assuming a person’s health by how they may look means that a health professional may miss key warning signs,” she said.

Some warning signs

Apart from changes in weight, some warning signs that a person may be struggling with disordered eating include consuming more or less food than normal, becoming secretive or uncomfortable around food, becoming obsessive or stressed about food, and withdrawing socially.

“Clinicians and parents should be aware that eating disorders occur in people who are overweight and obese. They should ask if and how young people are trying to lose weight and discourage unsafe practices, which can lead to severe illness and hospitalization,” Nagata said.

Dr. Vijaya Surampudi is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Human Nutrition and works in the Center of Obesity and Metabolic Health at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She says many people who are overweight can feel shame that prevents them from reaching out for help. It is then they turn to disordered eating.

“Many people assume that because someone is overweight they just eat too much and have no self-control. Unfortunately, in the field we work in we know it is just a symptom of something else. It has been stated before that food is the most overused ‘drug’ to treat anxiety or depression, and exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant. Many people then start to feel ashamed or hopeless to reach out for help so they start to develop disordered eating patterns to work on weight control,” she told Healthline.

For many people, disordered eating can be a lifelong battle.

“Many of my patients I see actually will self-report they have been dieting from childhood which was likely disordered eating or binging with restricting or purging. It is unfortunately a lifelong struggle with their relationship with food once it starts so early,” she said.

Children Forcibly Separated from Parents Could Face Lifelong Health Consequences

In one photo, a little girl looks up at a U.S. Border Patrol agent, her expression filled with grief as her mom is arrested. In secretly captured recordings, voices of toddlers inside detention centers cry out for absent parents.

The images and sounds of immigrant children separated from moms and dads at the U.S. border has raised a groundswell of anger nationwide this week.

But mental health experts and pediatricians say they also worry about the long-lasting effects of family separation on fragile young minds. Some even say children who watch the images on television or hear parents and adults talk about it are also at risk.

“It is a form of child abuse,” said Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a recent interview this week on “CBS This Morning.”

Kraft and other experts raised opposition and concern recently about the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which includes separating and detaining immigrant children from parents who seek amnesty.

The issue garnered so much negative attention that President Donald Trump said he’d change his policy on Wednesday, weeks after it went into effect, so that parents and children would be detained together.

However, at the time of publication, it remains unclear how children will be unified with their parents already in detention.

Even though the policy has officially ended, mental health experts worry that damage may already have been done.

The impact of ‘toxic stress’

Many of these children have already faced a series of stressful events in their own countries and on their way to the border, mental health experts note. Without a parent to offer comfort, trauma can persist and lead to behavioral issues that society will ultimately pay for.

“We know very young children who are exposed to this type of trauma go on to not develop their speech, not develop their language, not develop their gross and fine motor skills, and wind up with developmental delays,” Kraft added.

In a strongly worded statement that called the practice of separation cruel and needless, the president of the American Psychological Association (APA) cautioned that the ripple effects could be costly, even after the policy has ended.

“While we are gratified that President Trump has ended this troubling policy of wresting immigrant children from their parents, we remain gravely concerned about the fate of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated and are in shelters,” Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, said in a new APA statement today. “These children have been needlessly traumatized and must be reunited with their parents or other family members as quickly as possible to minimize any long-term harm to their mental and physical health. In the interim, they should be assessed for and receive any needed mental or physical health care by qualified health care professionals.

In a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the authors point out that constant movement can lead to “toxic stress.”

“Toxic stress, which is caused by prolonged exposure to heightened stress, has detrimental short- and long-term health effects,” said the AAP statement. Children in particular can experience long-term consequences from this stress, as their brains are still developing.

Toxic stress is defined “as the excessive or prolonged activation of the physiologic stress response systems in the absence of the buffering protection afforded by stable, responsive relationships.”

Stress can flood the body with inflammatory hormones and set off a cascade of “neuroendocrine-immune responses.” These include elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and respirations.

If that stress continues, it can lead to toxic stress that can alter the architecture of a child’s developing brain.

“Toxic stress early in life plays a critical role by disrupting brain circuitry and other important regulatory systems in ways that continue to influence physiology, behavior, and health decades later,” authors wrote in a 2012 AAP statement.

As the brain architecture changes, it can result in children being at risk for a multitude of health conditions as they age. According to AAP authors, this includes “maladaptive coping skills, poor stress management, unhealthy lifestyles, mental illness and physical disease.”

Adults traumatized as children speak out

The pictures of crying children being separated from their parents echoes historical events of the past. It’s led some people, who have gone through similar situations, to condemn the new policy.

On social media, stories emerged from people across generations, including Holocaust survivors, refugees whose families sought amnesty, and U.S.-born citizens who remember being detained inside Japanese-American internment camps.

They all say the images of children held in warehouse-like conditions reignited negative memories of similar events through the last century.

The impact of those events during their childhood continue to haunt them into adulthood.

“You take a child away from the parents, the home, from everything that they know, they are never the same,” said Rachelle Goldstein, co-director of the Hidden Child Foundation, a New York-based organization which represents Jewish Holocaust survivors who were hidden during the war. Goldstein was 3 years old when she was separated from her parents in Belgium.

In a video released through the Anti-Defamation League, Goldstein said many of the hidden children during the Holocaust are now in their 70s and 80s. But they’ve never forgotten the feelings of being alone without a parent.

“They still think of that and it still hurts. It still aches,” she said. “A young child in particular, and a mother, they are one in a sense. It’s one entity. How can you break that up?”

Actor George Takei, now 81, said in a column he wrote for Foreign Policy that remaining with his family is what got him through those years he lived in an internment camp, set up for Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“At least during the internment, we remained a family, and I credit that alone for keeping the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul,” he wrote. “I cannot for a moment imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been thrown into a camp without my parents.”

The health risks of trauma

Such stories are common among the thousands of children who attend classes within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), says School Mental Health Director Pia Escudero.

LAUSD is the second-largest district in the nation. Because Los Angeles serves as an entry point for families from many countries fleeing wars and instability, the district has set up special programs for children and parents who already have faced trauma.

“Trauma is an event that renders an individual or family or community helpless,” Escudero said. “A situation where a family is disrupted and children are taken away is very much within a traumatic event. For a government or entity to induce separation is very traumatic.”

She says professionals watching recent events worry that family separation can make a child feel unsafe long after they’re reunited.

Children who feel unsafe are more likely to harbor distrust toward adults and turn to a fight-or-flight mentality. They may skip school or make bad choices in friendships.

“We see the trajectory of untreated trauma,” Escudero said. “Many times, it looks like ADHD, or like inattentive children.”

She also says “vicarious trauma” remains concerning. Children seeing other children suffer can fill them with fear or “hyperarousal.”

She says the school district developed a model for parents that can be helpful during any kind of overwhelming events, including natural disasters. The model includes listening to a child express fears, protecting them from ongoing images and talk on television and social media, connecting them to groups or services that can help, and projecting a level of calmness.

“If we do the right thing,” Escudero said, “we can mitigate the impacts of trauma.”