TIME Music

Avril Lavigne Is ‘Excited for Life After’ Lyme Disease

Avril Lavigne Celebrates 30th Birthday
Denise Truscello—WireImage/Getty Images Avril Levigne arrives at her 30th birthday celebration at the Bank nightclub in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on September 28, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev.

"It’s like a second shot at life”

Avril Lavigne has been candid about her struggle with Lyme disease, and the singer opened up even more about her illness in a new ABC News interview, in which she criticized doctors who didn’t take her health as seriously as they perhaps should have.

“I was seeing every specialist and literally the top doctors, and … they would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome?’” a teary Lavigne said. “Or, ‘Why don’t you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’ … This is what they do to a lot of people who have Lyme disease. They don’t have an answer for them so they tell them, ‘You’re crazy.’”

Lavigne was bedridden for multiple months, but is about halfway through her treatment now and says she is doing much better.

“I think for me it’s like a second shot at life,” she said. “I want to go out there and truly do what I love, so I’m excited for life after this.”

Watch the interview here.

This article first appeared on EW.com

TIME Infectious Disease

California Lawmakers Pass Strict School Vaccine Bill

The bill ends vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs

The California senate has passed a bill that requires most children in public schools to get vaccinations and ends exemptions from vaccinations for personal beliefs.

The bill only allows for kids with serious health problems to not get vaccinated.

The bill is now heading to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has not said whether he will sign the bill. It would be one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country.

California recently experienced an outbreak of measles that was tied to a Disneyland amusement park. Many of the people infected were not vaccinated.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

New York City Restaurants Are Cleaner Than Ever

18% fewer eateries have been cited for evidence of mice

It’s been five years since New York City instituted a strict grading policy assessing restaurants for cleanliness, food safety and handling—an attempt to address its somewhat unsavory reputation as a mecca for unsanitary eating establishments.

Now, in the latest report, city health officials have some good news: 95% of restaurants now earn A grades, and violations that can contribute to foodborne illnesses have dropped by 11%, giving New York its cleanest report card since the program began.

The requirements and methods of the health inspections are not without critics; even high-end establishments with Michelin-star honored chefs like Per Se were notoriously cited for not maintaining hot foods at high enough temperatures or cold foods at cold enough temperatures, despite commonly used practices of “resting” dishes after they come out of the oven or refrigerator to balance flavor and temperature. But the system works, say health officials. The report says that 37% more new restaurants in the city earn A grades in their first year compared to five years ago, and 18% fewer eateries have been cited for evidence of mice.

The program allows eating establishments one do-over; if they don’t meet criteria for earning an A grade, they have up to 30 days to fix their violations and receive a second inspection before getting the final grade that gets posted on their window. That posting, says Dan Kass, deputy commissioner for environmental health at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is key to the program’s success. “You need transparency in governmental inspection programs,” he says. “It’s the best way to inform the public and encourage them to vote with their feet and the best way to motivate restaurants—especially those that lag behind others in hygiene and food safety practices—to feel motivated to comply [with health regulations.]”

When the letter grading and public posting of the grades began five years ago, says Kass, officials expected about a 5% improvement in grades every year. “We have seen much more rapid change than that,” he says, “and it truly influences the practice of food safety in restaurants.”

The department now plans to launch a food safety workshop for restaurant workers—not just owners—to help them better understand the value and importance of proper handling and storing of food. But the public and prominent posting of letter grades will remain, so diners will still have a quick and easy way of knowing where the restaurant stands with respect to food safety and sanitation. “Inspections and education alone are insufficient to drive restaurants to improve,” Kass says. “Threats of fines may help, but those too are insufficient to move some restaurants to really change practices and put the public’s health first. There is no question that public transparency and making the information available to public at the point of sale is probably the most important driver—at least for the improvements we see.”

In fact, the system is gaining in popularity; Yelp reviews now include the grades or number scores for restaurants in cities that provide them.

TIME medicine

Minnesota Takes Half Step Toward Legalizing Marijuana

547026687
Getty Images

Pills and oils are approved, but smoking marijuana remains prohibited

Minnesota eased a statewide ban on medical marijuana products Wednesday, approving the use of pills and oils for seriously ill patients, while upholding a ban on products that can be smoked.

Under the new law, users will be able to use liquid and pill extracts of marijuana plants, provided they are suffering from serious conditions such as epilepsy, HIV and cancer, the Associated Press reports. The law also restricts sales to only eight dispensaries within the state.

While legalization advocates hailed the new rules as a step forward, they argued that Minnesota’s approach was unusually restrictive, potentially excluding patients living in rural areas or on tight budgets from obtaining the drugs.

[AP]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Strange Link Between Junk Food and Depression

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Candy Chocolate
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Some—but not all—sugars were associated with depressive disorders

Of our many modern diseases, one of the biggest burdens on society is an unexpected one: depression, according to the World Health Organization. And what we eat may be contributing, finds a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

James E. Gangwisch, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia University in the department of psychiatry, wanted to find out whether foods with a higher glycemic index (GI)—a scale that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods by how much they raise your blood sugar—would be associated with greater odds of depression. “When I was a kid, I was almost like a candy junkie,” Gangwisch says. “I noticed for myself, if I eat a lot of sugar, it makes me feel down the next day.” Gangwisch says he stopped eating added sugar years ago but remained curious about whether a junk food diet could make people depressed.

He and a team of researchers looked at data from food questionnaires and a scale that measures symptoms of depressive disorders from postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. The data came from roughly 70,000 women, none of whom suffered from depression at the study’s start, who had baseline measurements taken between 1994 and 1998, and then again after a three-year follow-up.

Diets higher on the glycemic index, including those rich in refined grains and added sugar, were associated with greater odds of depression, the researchers found. But some aspects of diet had protective effects against developing depression, including fiber, whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables and lactose, a sugar that comes from dairy products and milk that sits low on the glycemic index.

Added sugars—but not total sugars or total carbohydrates—were strongly associated with depression.

Though the authors couldn’t pinpoint a mechanism from this study—it was associative—they note that one possibility is that the overconsumption of sugars and refined starches is a risk factor for inflammation and cardiovascular disease, both of which have been linked to the development of depression.This kind of diet could also lead insulin resistance, which has been linked to cognitive deficits similar to those found in people with major depression.

Further research is needed, Gangwisch says, and it’s not yet known whether the results would translate to a broader group of people, including men and younger women. But even now, diet may be worth discussing with people who suffer from depression, Gangwisch says—even though doing so may be difficult. “It’s hard enough to get the general public to avoid those kinds of foods, but it’s even harder to get someone who suffers from depression to avoid them and give them up,” he says. “You don’t want people to feel guilty either…to say, ‘Your diet’s bad and you should change it,’ would take kind of a soft sell approach.” Still, he believes the effort is worth it. “I think it’s important and I think it has a big effect on your mood and how you feel and your energy level,” he says. “If it’s something that people can change, they really would benefit from it.”

TIME Infectious Disease

California Lawmakers to Vote on Tougher Vaccine Measures

The bill would end exemptions from vaccinations for personal beliefs

California lawmakers are expected to vote Monday on a measure that would require most children in public schools to get vaccinations.

The bill, which is headed for a final vote in the California state Senate, would end exemptions from vaccinations for personal belief, and would excuse only children with serious health issues from vaccines, reports the Associated Press. Other unvaccinated children would need to be homeschooled.

An outbreak of measles at Disneyland in December infected over 100 people in the U.S. and Mexico, largely due to pockets of unvaccinated Californians.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not said whether he would sign the bill. If it becomes law, California, Mississippi and West Virginia would be the only states with such strict vaccination requirements.

[AP]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Delicious Banana-Free Smoothie Recipes

From strawberry basil to fudgesicle

Bananas are ubiquitous in smoothie recipes, but don’t go bananas if you’re allergic to the tropical fruits, don’t like them, or just don’t have any on hand: You don’t have to miss out on good-for-you shakes. Just blend up one of these banana-free treats and sip away.

A few notes:

For all of these recipes, combine the ingredients in a blender—preferably high-speed, like the Vitamix ($382, amazon.com)—and blend until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add water a bit at a time until it’s the consistency you like.

We gave suggested serving sizes, but remember that smoothie calories add up. Have a larger serving if the smoothie is a meal. If it’s a snack, pour it into a smaller cup and sip slowly.

Don’t leave out the pinch of salt. Your smoothie won’t be salty, but it will have a brighter flavor.

If you’re going to use almond milk, beware of packaged brands with fillers and sweeteners. One way to avoid all that is to make your own; it’s super-easy to DIY.

  • Strawberry Basil Smoothie

    strawberry-basil
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1 cup frozen strawberries

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    ¼ cup fresh basil leaves

    2 Tbsp. hemp seeds or almond butter

    1 Tbsp. honey

    ½ tsp. vanilla extract

    Pinch of salt

     

  • Peachy-Green Smoothie

    peachy-green
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1 1/2 cups frozen peach slices

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    2 Tbsp. flax-chia or flax-hemp blend (such as Carrington Farms, $6.50 for 12 oz., amazon.com)

    1 tsp. greens powder, optional (I like Sunfood Sun Is Shining, $40 for 8 oz., amazon.com)

    1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey

    ¼ tsp. ground ginger, optional

    Pinch of salt

     

  • Mighty Mango-Coconut Smoothie

    mango-coconut
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 1

    1 1/4 cups frozen mango chunks

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    1 cup full-fat coconut milk

    2 Tbsp. hemp or chia seeds, or flax-chia or flax-hemp blend

    1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

    Pinch of salt

  • Fudgesicle Smoothie

    fudgesicle
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 2

    1 cup milk (preferably coconut, but dairy or almond will work. Rice is too thin)

    1/3 cup raw cacao powder (such as JoyFuel, $18 for 1 lb., amazon.com)

    ½ cup frozen spinach

    ½ avocado, peeled and pitted

    3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

    pinch of salt

    1 cup ice cubes

  • AB&J Smoothie

    abj
    Beth Lipton

    Serves: 2

    1 cup milk (dairy, almond, rice, coconut) or plain yogurt

    1/2 cup frozen spinach

    1 cup frozen mixed berries

    ¼ cup almond butter

    ¼ cup oats

    1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup

    Pinch of salt

    This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME medicine

This Drug Brought Pigment Back for Woman With Vitiligo

skin pigmentation arthritis
Dr. Brett King/Yale

A case study shows promise

Scientists have discovered an existing drug may be able to restore pigment into the skin of people with vitiligo.

Vitiligo is a disorder that causes the skin to lose its pigment, and few treatments are consistently effective. The late singer Michael Jackson is a well-known person who had the disorder.

In the study, which was recently published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, researchers gave a 53-year-old patient with vitiligo who had white spots covering her face, hands and body a drug called tofacitinib citrate, which is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

After just two months, pigment had partially returned to the woman’s face, arms and hands, and after five months white spots on her face were almost completely gone. She had a few spots that remained on other parts of her body.

The findings are encouraging, especially considering she experienced no adverse side effects while taking the drug. Since the study was only conducted with one woman, more research will need to be done to confirm efficacy and safety.

“While it’s one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this patient based on our current understanding of the disease and how the drug works,” said study author Dr. Brett King, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in a statement. “It’s a first, and it could revolutionize treatment of an awful disease.”

TIME Exercise/Fitness

6 Moves That Burn More Fat in Less Time

woman-lunge-exercise-beach
Getty Images

Here's everything you need to know about plyometrics

 

There’s an in-vogue specialized training method that many people are using to get crazy results, and it is one of the fastest methods to get fit in a short amount of time: plyometrics.

Plyometrics are explosive movements that combine power, speed, and strength by working several body parts at once. Since they recruit more muscles than your average exercise—compare a bicep curl, which isolates only that one muscle, with a move that activates your arms, legs, and core simultaneously, like many of the ones below—you burn more calories not only during your workout, but up to eight hours after you’ve finished.

While plyometrics are well-known in the world of sports as a way to help athletes improve their game, they’re starting to take the rest of the fitness world by storm, and for good reason: In addition to toning and sculpting your legs, booty, arms, and abs, plyometrics help to build strength, increase balance and coordination, and improve cardiovascular health.

Before you jump off the couch and head to the gym, make sure you’re ready to handle plyometrics; since the difficulty level is somewhat advanced, being able to perform a proper basic squat and lunge first is important. Once you’ve mastered those moves, you’re ready to move on. Here are 6 plyometrics that will burn fat in no time:

Squat Jumps

Start by getting into the bottom of a squat position. Your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out. Your chest should be out, shoulders back, and core engaged. From here, explode straight up in the air, allowing your feet to leave the ground. Make sure to land softly on your toes when you come down. Doing this will protect your knees and hips. Complete 10-15 squat jumps.

Lunge Hops

Start in a lunge position with your right foot in front and left foot behind you with your left knee about an inch from the floor. From here, explode straight up out of the lunge, switching your legs mid-air and landing softly on your toes. You will now have your left leg in front and right leg behind you. Repeat this until you’ve completed 10 total lunge hops.

Skaters

Start at the bottom of a squat position. Jump to the left, landing on your left leg, while bringing your right leg behind your left ankle. From here, jump to the right side with your right leg, bringing your left leg behind your right ankle. This completes one rep. Complete a total of 30 skaters.

Toe Taps

Find a stable medicine ball, step, or bench. This will be your base for the toe touches. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides. Bring your right toe to the edge of your base. From here jump and switch your feet so that your left toe is at the edge of the base and your right foot is now back on the floor. Repeat this for a total of 30 toe taps.

Medicine Ball Squat Thrusts

Grab a medicine ball and stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold the ball at belly-button height and slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor or lower. (Do not let your knees extend past the tip of your toes.) From here, explode upwards and toss the medicine ball straight in the air. Keep your eye on it so you can catch it and drop right back into the squat position. Do 12-15 medicine ball squat thrusts.

Medicine Ball Burpees

Grab a medicine ball and stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down to the floor and place the medicine ball between your feet while keeping your hands on the ball. From here, jump back into a pushup position, making sure your hands are placed securely on the ball. Jump your feet forward until you are at the bottom of a squat again, then stand up straight. Try to do 10-12 medicine ball burpees.

Liked these moves? Check out A 5-Move Workout To Get Your Butt In Shape

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME A Year In Space

6 Ways Medicine in Space is Completely Different from on Earth

Preparing to make a house call: Scott Kelly, currently aboard the space station for a one-year stay, checks out spacewalk suit of space doc Kjell Lindgren, who blasts off next month
NASA Preparing to make a house call: Scott Kelly, currently aboard the space station for a one-year stay, checks out spacewalk suit of space doc Kjell Lindgren, who blasts off next month

Everything's different in zero-g

You may or may not want to go to space, but here’s something certain: you definitely don’t want to get sick there. Ask the crew of Apollo 7, the 1960s mission in which the commander contracted a cold, spread it to the other two astronauts and all three of them spent the entire mission trapped inside a cramped spacecraft, sneezing, hacking and griping at the ground.

And that was just 11 days in Earth orbit. What about a year aboard the International Space Station (ISS)? What about a two-and-a-half-year mission to Mars. And what about something a wee bit more serious than a cold—like appendicitis or a heart attack or a severe injury? Zero-gravity plays all manner of nasty games with the bones, muscles, organs, eyeballs, the brain itself—never mind the infectious risks that come from sealing half a dozen people inside a self-contained vessel, where a virus or bacterium could simply circulate ’round and ’round, from person to person indefinitely.

These are some of the things that will be on the mind of rookie astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who will spend nearly six months aboard the ISS when he lifts off in late July as part of the station’s next three-person crew. Lindgren is not just a well-trained astronaut, but a specialist in aerospace and emergency medicine—just the kind of expert who will increasingly be needed as the human presence in space becomes permanent.

“If we want to go to Mars some day,” Lindgren said in a recent conversation with TIME, “if we want to get further and deeper into the solar system, we need to start thinking about these things, thinking about the capabilities we need to do an appendectomy or take out a gall bladder.”

There will be no gall bladder or appendix takings while Lindgren is aloft. For now, he and the ISS flight doctors back on Earth are taking only space-medicine baby steps, learning the basics about the radical differences between medical care on the Earth and medical care off it. Here are a few of the most vexing problems they have to learn to solve:

1. Where is that kidney again? On Earth, your organs settle into predictable positions. A doctor palpating your liver or thumping your chest knows exactly where things ought to be. In zero-g, not so much. “The organs may be displaced a little bit,” says Lindgren. “They tend to shift up a little more. The heart may have a little bit of a different orientation, which may be reflected on an EKG.” Other kinds of shifting or compression—of the lungs, stomach, bladder and more—can cause problems of their own.

2. Your bones hate space: Without the constant tug of gravity, your skeleton doesn’t work nearly as hard, which causes it to weaken and decalcify. Astronauts spend many hours a week exercising to counteract some of that, but nothing can reverse it completely. When Russia’s Mir space station was still flying, newly arriving cosmonauts were warned not to exchange traditional bear hugs with crew members who had been there for a while. The risk: broken ribs.

3. Your eyes do too: Astronauts who have been in space for long-term stays often find that their vision grows worse, and it doesn’t always bounce completely back when they return to Earth. The problem is caused by fluid shifting upward from the lower body into the head, compressing the optic nerve and distorting the shape of the eyeball. Eye infections and irritation are more common too—for decidedly ick-inducing reasons. “Dust doesn’t settle in the vehicle like it does on Earth,” says Lindgren. “So things that are liberated, little pieces of metal from equipment or maybe dead skin just float around and cause eye irritation.”

4. But your feet will thank you: You know all of those callouses that you’ve built up on your heel and the ball of your foot after a lifetime of walking around? Say goodbye too them. They serve a purpose, which is to cushion your foot against the shock of walking, but since you’re not walking in space, you don’t need them. Just beware when you remove your socks. The callouses don’t tell you when they’re going to slough off, so the wrong move at the wrong time could leave unsightly chunks of you floating around the cabin. (See, e.g., “ick-inducing,” above.)

5. Try not to need stitches: Suturing wounds is one of the most basic things doctors and other medical caregivers learn how to do, but it will take a little extra work in space. On Earth, sutures are simply laid on a tray along with the other equipment. In space, that’s not possible. “Instead of your sterile suture thread laying in a sterile field, now it’s floating around and running into everything,” says Lindgren. While aloft, Lindgren plans to experiment with different techniques to address this problem; no word on which of his five crewmates will volunteer to be the patient.

6. Eat your roughage: Easily the least glamorous part of space travel is the simple business of, well, doing your business. The space toilets aboard the ISS and the shuttle have come a long way from the bags and tubes of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era. But the human body hasn’t changed much in that time, and when it comes to keeping the intestines operating, a little gravity can help. One lunar astronaut who, for the sake of legacy and dignity will not be identified here, claimed that one of the best parts about landing on the moon was that things that hadn’t been working at all when he was in zero-g, got moving right away in the one-sixth gravity of the moon. History is made by mortals, and no matter where they are, mortals gotta’ do what mortals gotta’ do.

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