TIME Research

This ‘Peanut Patch’ Could Protect Against Peanut Allergies

peanuts
Getty Images

Half of those who used the largest patch saw their peanut tolerance increase 10-fold

A small skin patch applied to patients with peanut allergies appears to safely and effectively protect against the sometimes life-threatening condition, researchers said Sunday

“This is exciting news for families who suffer with peanut allergies because Viaskin represents a new treatment option for patients and physicians,” study author Hugh A. Sampson, a doctor at Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

The patch exposed patients to a small dose of peanut protein, ranging from 50 to 250 micrograms, for the course of the study. The study, which evaluated more than 200 patients with peanut allergies for a year, found that the treatment worked, particularly for patients who used the 250-microgram patch. Half of those who used the largest patch saw their peanut tolerance increase 10-fold. Tolerance increased 19-fold for some children treated with the 250-microgram patch.

The researchers, who presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, reported no serious side effects to the treatment.

“EPIT appears safe, well tolerated and effective,” Sampson said. “That’s good news for families who suffer from food allergies.”

Read next: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Gluten

TIME Research

Why Washing Dishes by Hand May Lead to Fewer Allergies

168849264
Getty Images

A new study shows kids in families who hand-wash their dishes have fewer allergies

Households worldwide now have extra incentive for getting family members to do the dishes: It could prevent the development of allergies.

A new and preliminary study, published in the journal Pediatrics, adds to an increasing body of evidence that suggests getting a little dirty does the immune system some good. That thinking is known as the “hygiene hypothesis,” which speculates that the reason kids develop so many allergies today is because their environments are just too clean. Without exposure to bacteria early in life, children’s immune systems don’t become as hardy as they could be.

Research over the years has linked a variety of early lifestyle factors, like having pets, eating fish and living on a farm to a significantly lower risk of developing allergies. Now this new study suggests that hand washing dishes might be the next behavior to add to the list.

“If you are exposed to microbes, especially early in life, you stimulate the immune system in various ways and it becomes tolerant,” says study author Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. “We thought [hand washing dishes] might be important, but we didn’t know, so we asked that question.”

Hesselmar and his team surveyed the parents and guardians of 1,029 Swedish children ages 7 to 8. They discovered that children in homes where the family hand-washed the dishes instead of using a machine were less likely to have allergies. Only 23% of children whose parents used hand dishwashing had a history of eczema, compared with 38% of kids whose families mainly used machine dishwashing. The researchers also found that the result was amplified when kids ate fermented food or food bought directly from farms.

Though the study is only observational and can’t confirm causality, Hesselmar and his team have a few speculations.

It’s not necessarily that the kids are washing the dishes themselves and becoming exposed to bacteria. That might be one form of exposure, but as Hesselmar notes, some of the kids might be too young for that chore. Instead, it could be that long-term use of hand-washed dishes does the trick. Prior research comparing the cleanliness of dishes washed by hand to those washed by machine has shown that machine washing is more efficient and leaves fewer bacteria behind. Living in a household that hand-washes means family members are eating off of plates and cutlery that have more bacteria, and therefore more microbial exposure.

Families who hand-wash may also have other lifestyle factors that contribute to a lower allergy risk. The researchers note that overcrowded housing, low socioeconomic status and immigration status can also be linked to fewer allergies, as well as possibly different modes of dish washing.

“The study was really well done and caveated well, while simultaneously suggesting new areas of research and interesting models,” says Jonathan A. Eisen, a professor at the University of California at Davis. Eisen, who was not involved in the study, is an expert on exposure to microbial communities.

The study still leaves a few questions unanswered, like why hand washing was only associated with a lower likelihood of eczema and not other allergy-related symptoms like asthma, or why the effect was so significant even though dish washing requires the use of soaps, possibly even antibacterial products. Hesselmar says they are asking the same questions and hope to continue looking into the link.

Read next: This ‘Peanut Patch’ Could Protect Against Peanut Allergies

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Infectious Disease

New Killer Virus Found in Kansas

They're calling it Bourbon virus

Scientists are reporting on a new virus, never seen before anywhere, that apparently killed a Kansas man last year.

They’re calling it Bourbon virus, after the county in Kansas where the previously healthy man lived. He’d been bitten by ticks before he got sick so doctors believe the virus is carried by ticks.

“We were not looking for a new virus,” said Charles Hunt, Kansas state epidemiologist, who helped report on the new virus.

“We are surprised. We really don’t know much about this virus. It’s important to find out more from a public health perspective. It is possible that other persons have been infected with this and not known it?”…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Best and Worst Foods to Eat When You’re Sick

sick-woman-sofa
Getty Images

A symptom-by-symptom guide to the eats that will soothe (or strengthen) your symptoms

When you’re under the weather, the last thing you want is to eat something that makes you feel worse. But what if the last thing you want is chicken soup or crackers, and you’re craving ice cream or a glass of wine? It depends on what’s wrong with you, experts say. Here are common symptoms and expert suggestions on foods that help—and hinder—relief.

You’ve got the runs

For diarrhea caused by a stomach virus or a meal that didn’t agree with you, try the BRAT diet, says James Lee, MD, gastroenterologist with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. “Many different things can cause diarrhea, such as Crohn’s disease or colitis,” he says, so see your doctor if symptoms continue for longer than two weeks or sooner if signs of dehydration appear, or if diarrhea is accompanied by fever, blood, severe pain, or severe nausea and vomiting.

Best foods: The BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Oatmeal, boiled potatoes, saltine crackers, and baked chicken or turkey without skin are also safe bets.

Worst foods: Sugarless candy and gum containing sorbitol or other artificial sweeteners, which aren’t digestible and can trigger diarrhea. Other foods that can cause gas and bloating include onions, apples, broccoli, cabbages, and beans. Dairy may also aggravate diarrhea, as well as alcohol and caffeine.

You’re constipated

Constipation can occur when not eating enough fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and veggies, which stimulate digestion. “Adults need between 25 and 30 grams of fiber a day,” says Dr. Lee.

Best foods: High-fiber whole grain breads, nuts, beans, prunes, oatmeal, flaxseed, broccoli, pears, and apples. (Here are the 20 best foods for fiber.) Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day also helps get things moving, says Dr. Lee.

Worst foods: Chocolate, dairy products, iron supplements, narcotics (pain medications) and some blood and anti-depression medications may worsen constipation.

Read more: 10 Ways to Soothe a Sore Throat

You’re feeling nauseous

Feeling queasy makes all foods sound unappealing, but the right ones can ease symptoms by calming stomach acids, says Dr. Lee. “In general, keep food portions small and odors to a minimum.”

Best foods: Saltine crackers or pretzels can help, says Dr. Lee, as does small quantities of dry toast or cereal. Ginger or lemon tea, fresh or frozen lemon slices, and peppermint also work.

Worst foods: Greasy, spicy, or oily foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated drinks can make nausea worse.

It hurts to swallow

When you have a sore throat, several foods can coat your throat and soothe the pain, says Lauren Slayton, RD, founder of Foodtrainers.com and author of The Little Book of Thin (Perigee 2014).

Best foods: Combine peppermint tea (lukewarm, not hot)—which has analgesic and anesthetic effects—and Manuka honey, which is known for its wound-healing properties. Soft, creamy foods such as cream soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt, scrambled eggs, and custards are also soothing.

Worst foods: Avoid hot liquids and hard, scratchy foods such as potato chips, nuts, and granola. The acidic juices from raw fruits and vegetables, as well as orange juice, grape juice, and lemonade can also irritate a sore throat.

Read more: 12 Strange-But-True Health Tricks

Your entire body aches

Foods that ease muscle aches depend on the specific reason for the body aches, says Kristine Arthur, MD, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. “For general muscle aches, food containing magnesium or calcium may help ease soreness,” she says.

Best foods: Magnesium-containing foods include nuts, bananas, beans, leafy greens, and avocados. Foods high in calcium such as canned salmon, yogurt, dark-green leafy greens, and orange juice fortified with calcium also lessen muscle cramping and pain.

Worst foods: Anything that dehydrates you can worsen muscle aches, says Dr. Arthur, particularly alcohol and caffeine.

Your head hurts

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of headaches, says Dr. Arthur, so it’s best to treat that cause first and see if it relieves your pain.

Best foods: Water and other fluids are your best bet. “Drink a bottle of water and wait 20 minutes to see if you feel better,” says Dr. Arthur. Caffeine is known for drying you out, but ironically, it can help in small doses. “But for each cup of tea or coffee, drink an equal amount of water to avoid dehydration,” Dr. Arthur says.

Worst foods: Headache-triggering foods include artificial sweeteners, MSG (found in sauces and soy sauce), aged cheeses (blue, stilton) that contain tyramine, plus chocolate, red wine, hot dogs, deli meats, and dried fruit. MSG is metabolized to glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, says Dr. Arthur. Tyramine links to increased blood pressure, which can trigger headaches.

Read more: 12 Worst Habits for Your Mental Health

You have an earache

Earaches typically accompany other symptoms, says Dr. Arthur, “so they’re not correlated with any food in general.” Since they occur most often with upper respiratory infections, however, foods that clear up congestion can help earaches as well.

Best foods: Clear fluids and chicken soup ease congestion by loosening up mucous in nasal passages. Omega-3s found in salmon and nuts decrease inflammation, and vitamin C found in dark leafy greens, berries, and citrus boost the immune system, says Dr. Arthur.

Worst foods: Dairy can thicken phlegm and worsen congestion, with the exception of yogurt, which contains probiotics, says Dr. Arthur. “Stay away from processed and packaged foods, too, which increase inflammation and lengthen the recovery process.”

You’re red and itchy

A rash could be a symptom of an allergy, says Dr. Arthur. “Keep a detailed food journal to look for links to foods that seem to trigger a rash.”

Best foods: Omega-3 containing foods such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines) and walnut and flax seed oils, as well as foods high in protein are all important for skin health, says Dr. Arthur. “Skin is made up of proteins, so a diet adequate in protein is necessary for skin protein synthesis.”

Worst foods: The most common foods that cause itching are nuts, chocolate, fish, tomatoes, eggs, berries, soy, wheat, and milk, says Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist ($9, amazon.com).

Read more: 20 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health

You have a runny nose

When you have a cold, the worst symptom might be a nose that just won’t stop running. Aside from taking a steamy shower, Slayton suggests drinking warm tea—it may not slow down the drip, but a soothing tea will make you feel better.

Best foods: Try Wakaya ginger tea, suggests Slayton. Ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help clear up a cold faster than just waiting it out. “Apple cider and lemon in water works well, too,” she says.

Worst foods: Spicy foods can cause an immediate runny nose (which then turns into congestion), as may alcohol.

You’re stuffed up

A cold, flu or sinus infection can irritate and inflame blood vessels in your nose, making it hard to breathe. Aside from inhaling steam from a hot shower or using a humidifier, if you’re stopped up due to mucous, some foods can help.

Best foods: Slayton recommends “golden milk,” which includes turmeric, a spice known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Place 2 cups of coconut or almond milk in a saucepan with 1 tsp dried turmeric, 1 tsp dried ginger, a dash of black pepper and honey to taste. Bring to a simmer, allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve warm.

Worst foods: Skip dairy, spicy foods, and sugar, all of which can aggravate symptoms, says Slayton.

Read more: 13 Ways Inflammation Messes With Your Health

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Research

Are YouTube Videos With Alcohol Dangerous?

98324578
Getty Images

A new study shows popular YouTube videos make light of alcohol

Prior research has suggested that teen media exposure to alcohol, whether through TV shows or movies, could influence their drinking behaviors. Now, a new study suggests that online videos may also be a site for negative exposure.

In the new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, a team of researchers watched 70 of the most popular videos on YouTube related to intoxication in order to see what kinds of messages they were sending.

To do that, the researchers searched for the terms “drunk,” “buzzed,” “hammered,” “tipsy,” and “trashed” and chose the most popular and relevant videos in those categories. In order to characterize the videos, they coded each one for a variety of factors, like how much alcohol was depicted, who the characters were and whether the video showed consequences of binge drinking. Overall, the videos contained more men than women, and usually depicted a specific brand. Rarely did the videos show poor side effects like withdrawal.

The videos with the most “likes” tended to be funny, and the overall vibe of the video was upbeat and positive when a specific brand was mentioned. Hard alcohol was the most common beverage featured, even though beer is the most common alcoholic beverage consumed in the United States, the authors note.

In the study, the researchers didn’t make any connections between watching the videos and drinking more or drinking more dangerously. But their findings shed light on what alcohol-related content is available online. The findings are still preliminary, but online videos may be another way to target young people who might be susceptible to messaging.

Conversely, the researchers also view YouTube as a potential venue to reach young people with positive messages about drinking as well. Videos could educate teenagers about the potential consequences of behaviors like binge drinking. Either way, YouTube may be worth further consideration by public health experts, they note.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

How People Around the World Eat Their Yogurt

Americans may be largely alone in their Greek obsession, a new report shows

Any trip down the yogurt aisle makes it all too clear—yogurt is having a moment. Greek yogurt alone soared from 4% of the U.S. yogurt market in 2008 to 52% in 2014. But Greek isn’t the only yogurt game globally. A new report reveals that how (and when) people like their yogurt varies greatly from country to country.

MORE: QUIZ: Should You Eat This or That?

To assess yogurt preferences, DSM Food Specialties, a global manufacturer of food enzymes and ingredients, surveyed 6,000 men and women in six major markets: Brazil, China, France, Poland, Turkey and the United States. More than 53% of people surveyed report eating more yogurt than they did three years ago, even in countries with a robust history of yogurt consumption.

Here’s how people around the world like their yogurt:

  • United States

    Chobani Yogurt
    John Minchillo—AP Images for Chobani

    36% of Americans surveyed preferred Greek yogurt, and the U.S. was the only country whose citizens named it as the favorite variety. Americans were also more likely to eat yogurt for breakfast and the most likely to pair yogurt with fruit.

  • China

    103122353
    Getty Images

    In China, people prefer to drink their yogurt; only 11% eat it by spoon. 54% prefer a probiotic variety, much more than the other markets. A full 83% of surveyed Chinese reported actively looking for probiotics in yogurt, compared to 50% or less in other countries—most choose it for its gastrointestinal benefits. (Not all yogurts contain added probiotics, but it’s a growing trend.) The growth of yogurt popularity in China is somewhat surprising, given the high rate of lactose intolerance in the population—though the survey does show that 60% of Chinese men and women believe lactose-free yogurt is healthier than other yogurt.

  • Brazil

    Muesli with berries and yoghurt
    Getty Images

    Brazilians also like to eat their yogurt at breakfast, and they’re most likely to eat it with cereal, with 55% of the surveyed population doing so. Flavored yogurt is the yogurt of choice for 45%.

  • France

    93330485
    Getty Images

    The French typically eat their yogurt as a dessert (83% do so), and 73% like to eat it on its own, the survey shows. They also prefer the flavored variety.

  • Turkey

    Plain yogurt
    Getty Images

    In Turkey, 77% of yogurt lovers prefer eating it as part of a warm meal, and plain yogurt is the most common kind. Even though yogurt was a staple in Turkey before the recent fad, 60% of Turkish men and women surveyed say they are eating more yogurt now than three years ago.

  • Poland

    Opened cartons of fruit yoghurts, close-up
    Getty Images

    The Polish also love flavored yogurt—51% prefer it—and most eat it as a snack.

    Read next: Hungry Planet: What The World Eats

    Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Health Care

Should Mentally Ill People Be Forced Into Treatment?

A new study finds that involuntary psychiatric treatment programs can keep people from cycling through ERs, jails, prisons, and homeless shelters—and therefore save taxpayers gobs of money. Is it worth it?

During the 1960s, Americans were horrified to learn about conditions within the state mental hospital systems, where patients were often abused and neglected, made to submit to dangerous medical procedures, or simply left live in squalid conditions for life. The popular backlash, made famous through books and movies such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, led to a general consensus against forcing anyone, under any circumstances, to receive psychiatric treatment against their will.

Now that belief is beginning to fade in large part because of simple budgetary math.

As it turns out, it’s just plain expensive for taxpayers to care for the small number of people with serious mental illnesses who refuse treatment and therefore end up homeless, incarcerated or draining the public coffers with multiple interventions and hospitalizations. At the same time, new psychiatric medications and methods have made it possible for people to get well without becoming long-term inpatients in the first place.

A new study, released this week by the Health Management Associates, a consulting firm, found that states and counties that have passed laws to allow local judges to order people into short-term psychiatric treatment spend substantially less money on treating mental illness than states and counties that don’t.

These programs, known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment are basically narrowly tailored safety-net programs designed to stabilize people with serious mental illnesses, and to keep them from ending up in a hospital, homeless or incarcerated. They require states and counties to pony-up a significant amount of cash in the short-term in order to build or maintain inpatient and outpatient facilities and organize a networks of mental health professionals, who are then legally responsible for them.

But that initial expense then ends up paying for itself, the Health Management Associates study finds. The outpatient program in New York City, for example, produced net cost savings of 47%, the study found. In the five counties surrounding New York, it saved 58%, and in Summit County, Ohio, it saved 50%, according to the study. In all three locations, the main cost-savings came from reducing the number of psychiatric hospitalizations. In New York City, the number of such hospitalizations dropped 40%; in Summit County, they dropped 67%. People who are assigned to Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs must fit certain criteria: they must have a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia or another disease with psychotic symptoms, and have a recent history of repeated violence or criminal activity.

Technically, Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs exist in 46 states across the country. But in most places, they are in name only. That’s partly because taxpayers and politicians have been unwilling to spend the cash to to get these pricey programs off the ground in the first place. And it’s partly because the idea itself—allowing judges to force people to receive psychiatric treatment against their will—remains deeply controversial.

Many patient rights advocates argue that any involuntary treatment whatsoever is an violation of a person’s civil rights. Others argue that such programs discourage people with serious mental illnesses from seeking treatment on their own. Daniel Fisher, a psychiatrist and the founder of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, told TIME last year that he worries such programs represent “a slippery slope” back to the kind of mass institutionalization seen in the 1940s and ’50s.

But in many parts of the country, including liberal bastions such as the San Francisco Bay Area, lawmakers are beginning to embrace AOT programs on both fiscal and humanitarian grounds. Although people with symptoms of serious mental illness make up only about 4% of the U.S. population, they account for 15% of state prisoners, 24% of jail inmates and as much as 30% of the chronically homeless population, according to government records. People with serious mental illnesses are also nearly 12 times as likely as the average person to be the victim of a violent crime, like rape, and as much as eight times as likely to commit suicide.

The Health Management Associates study, which was presented to the Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to promoting Assisted Outpatient Treatment programs, is the latest in a long line of similar studies that have attempted to quantify the cost of not treating the seriously mentally ill.

Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, has estimated that the total cost of non-treatment to the government—including things like Medicare, Medicaid, disability support and lost productivity—is as much as $317 billion per year. Other studies have suggested that it costs federal, state and local governments $40,000 to $60,000 to care for a single homeless person with a serious mental illness. There are roughly 250,000 mentally ill homeless people in the U.S. today.

While no single study has looked at the cost of caring for all U.S. inmates with serious mental illnesses, some state and local studies have found that it costs roughly twice as much to incarcerate an inmate with a mental illness as one without and can run states up to $100,000 per inmate per year. There are an estimated 356,000 seriously mentally ill inmates in the U.S. today.

TIME global health

Swine Flu Outbreak Kills 700 in India

Students wearing masks to prevent getting infected by Swine
Pacific Press—LightRocket/Getty Images Students wearing masks to prevent getting infected by Swine flu in Allahabad, India on Feb. 18 2015.

A total of 11,000 people have been infected

A serious outbreak of H1N1 has struck in India, causing more than 700 deaths in the last eight weeks.

More than 11,000 have been infected with the disease commonly known as swine flu, Boomberg reports. The outbreak is thought to be the worst the country has seen since 2009. Infections have seemed to gain momentum over the last week, with the total number of cases doubling since Feb. 11.

While the government said Thursday that there was plenty of medicine available to treat H1N1, hospitals have reported shortages—potentially due to individuals stockpiling the drug as the outbreak worsens.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Exercise/Fitness

6 Rules for Post-Workout Meals

red-dumbbells-green-apple
Getty Images

An ideal recovery meal goes beyond protein

As a sports nutritionist, I consult for pro teams and privately counsel professional and competitive athletes in numerous sports, as well as fitness enthusiasts. Pros and weekend warriors definitely have different nutrition needs, but they do have one thing in common: In order to get the most out of being active, everyone needs to eat properly to help their bodies recover from the wear and tear of exercise.

Here are six rules to follow, and how to prevent overdoing it, which can cancel out the weight-loss benefits of breaking a sweat.

Eat within 30 to 60 minutes after exercise

If you’ve had a particularly tough workout, try to eat a “recovery” meal as soon as possible. Exercise puts stress on your muscles, joints, and bones, and your body “uses up” nutrients during workouts. Post-exercise foods are all about putting back what you’ve lost and providing the raw materials needed for repair and healing. In fact, it’s the recovery from exercise that really allows you to see results in terms of building strength, endurance and lean muscle tissue. Not recovering properly can leave you weaker as you go into your next workout and up your injury risk.

Think beyond protein

Protein is a building block of muscle, so it is important after exercise, but an ideal recovery meal should also include good fat (also needed for healing muscles and joints), as well as plenty of nutrient-rich produce and a healthy source of starch such as quinoa, sweet potato or beans. These foods replenish nutrients that have been depleted and provide energy to fuel your post-exercise metabolism. A great post-workout meal might be something like a smoothie made with either pea protein powder or grass-fed organic whey protein, whipped with fruit, leafy greens, almond butter or coconut oil, and oats or quinoa, or an omelet made with one whole organic egg and three whites, paired with veggies, avocado and black beans.

Read more: 14 Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Diet

Keep it real

The phrase “You are what you eat” couldn’t be more true. Nutrients from the foods you eat food are the foundation of the structure, function, and integrity of every one of your cells. Your body is continuously repairing, healing and rebuilding itself, and how healthy your new cells are is directly determined by how well you’ve been eating. In short, your body is essentially one big miraculous construction site that’s open 24/7. So even if you’re lean and you burn a lot of calories, avoiding highly processed food and eating a clean, nutrient rich, whole foods diet can help you get the most out of all of your hard work. You’ll be rewarded with cells that function better and are less susceptible to premature aging, injury, and disease.

Read more: 5 Reasons to Eat Healthier That Have Nothing to Do With Your Weight

Don’t overcompensate

If weight loss is one of your goals, it’s important to not overestimate how much extra food you “earned” working out. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to eat back all of what you’ve burned. For example, in a one-hour elliptical session, an average woman burns about 490 calories. A large salted caramel Pinkberry contains 444 calories, and a 32 ounce high-protein pineapple smoothie from Smoothie King clocks in at 500 calories. Even if you don’t splurge on treats like these, you may be tempted to sneak a little extra almond butter or be less mindful of your oatmeal or fruit portions. Those extras can add up. And if you’re going to be eating a meal within an hour of finishing up a workout, you don’t also need a post-exercise bar or snack. For more about how to prevent unwanted surpluses from interfering with your goals, check out my previous post Help! Why Can’t I Lose Weight with Exercise.

Read more: 11 Ways to Stop Overeating After Your Workouts

Rehydrate

If you sweat heavily, exercise in high humidity (which prevents cooling of the body), or your workouts last longer than 60 minutes, you probably need a sports drink rather than plain water during exercise. These beverages are designed to keep you well hydrated, but they also provide electrolytes to replace those lost in your sweat (like sodium, which makes sweat salty, and potassium, which helps regulate heart rhythm), as well as fuel to keep you going. If your workouts are less strenuous, shorter, climate-controlled or not so sweaty, plain H2O is probably fine. The general rule of thumb is to drink at least two cups of fluid two hours before exercise, another two cups 15 minutes prior, and a half-cup every 15 minutes during. Post exercise, aim for two cups of water (16 ounces) for every pound of body weight lost, and monitor the color of your urine—if you’re well hydrated it should be pale.

Read more: 15 Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated

Watch your alcohol intake

Many athletes and active people I work with enjoy imbibing a bit after working out. Alcohol in moderation is fine, but be sure to eat first to start the recovery process. Also, it’s important to know that alcohol has been shown to accelerate post-exercise muscle loss and the loss of muscle strength by as much as 40%. It can also interfere with replenishing glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrates you stock away in your muscles to serve as energy “piggy banks.” Less glycogen can translate into a lack of power or endurance during your next workout, so aim for moderation.

Read more: 7 Ways to Keep Alcohol From Wrecking Your Diet

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 3 Breakfast Rules to Follow to Lose Weight

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Research

A Home Screening Test for the Bloom Syndrome Gene Has Been Approved

119021558
Getty Images

Similar genetic testing devices will also soon be exempt from the FDA's premarket review protocols

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed Google-backed company 23andMe to begin marketing a home genetic test for Bloom Syndrome — an inherited condition characterized by shortness of height and increased risk of cancer.

The FDA also announced that it intends to exempt similar genetic testing devices from its premarket review protocol.

Screening tests are largely used by prospective parents who are concerned that their future children may inherent harmful genetic disorders.

“Today’s authorization … along with FDA’s intent to exempt these devices from FDA premarket review, supports innovation and will ultimately benefit consumers” stated spokesman Alberto Gutierrez.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser