Diet to Reduce Blood Pressure May Help Combat Depression

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Medication. Therapy. These are some of ways people can treat depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But there’s one a surprising one that may help reduce the symptoms: going on a diet.

And not just any diet. The DASH diet.

Let’s backtrack a second. Scientists have known for a long time that food — the kinds we eat, how we digest it  can affect our moods. People who are obese are more likely to have depression, studies have shown; neurotransmitters that alter our moods, such as serotonin and dopamine, are in fact produced by the microbes that live in the gut. There have been so many studies linking diet and depression that Psychiatry Research published a meta-analysis of 21 such studies in April 2017. That analysis concluded what you might expect: a healthy dietary pattern may decrease the risk of depression.

But the relationship is, in many ways, still a correlation. That is, scientists may know that these thing are related, but they haven’t figured out a specific intervention or treatment that would use this knowledge to help patients.

Now, however, it seems they may have stumbled upon a diet that could do just that. It’s called the DASH diet — the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute developed the diet in the 1990s to treat (you guessed it) hypertension, aka high blood pressure.

The diet takes a pretty common sense approach to healthy eating. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy? Good. Foods high in salt and sugar? Bad.

Laurel J. Cherian, an assistant professor of vascular neurology at Rush University Medical Center, performed a study to firm up the relationship between the DASH diet and lower rates of depression. Cherian will present her research at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this month.

“There is evidence linking healthy lifestyle changes to lower rates of depression and this study sought to examine the role that diet plays in preventing depression,” Cherian said in a press release.

For more than six years, Cherian screened 964 participants over the age of 60 for signs of depression every year. She also asked them to complete a 144-item questionnaire focused on the foods they ate. Cherian then divided the participants into three groups based on how closely their diets mirrored the DASH diet.

Even after controlling for variables known to affect depression, such as age and education level, Cherian found that the group that most closely adhered to the DASH diet was less likely to experience depression. And conversely, those that strayed the most from the diet were the most likely to show symptoms of depression.

But don’t throw out your antidepressants just yet.

“I think we need to view food as medicine,” Cherian told The Atlantic. “Medications to treat depression are wonderful, but for many people, it’s going to be a combination of things.”

Hear that? Combination is key. A new diet might not totally clear up symptoms of depression. But, then again, it might not hurt.

Admittedly, we’re not there yet. According to Felice Jacka, a professor of nutritional psychiatry at Australia’s Deakin University, now that we are more certain there’s a link between diet and depression, we need to figure out how to exploit it to help people.

“Given how many observational studies there are already published, the field does not really need more of these,” Jacka told The Atlantic. “What it needs now are interventions that show that if you improve diet, you also improve depression.” (Jacka performed a similar study of her own, published in January 2017, concluding that “people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support,” according to the Wall Street Journal.)

There are lots of benefits to improving your diet, including weight loss and better management of existing health conditions. Improved mood may very well come along with it (that’s what the science suggests), but then again it might not since it’s not a proven treatment yet.

It’s worth trying, at least. But it’s also a good idea to stick to whatever treatments you’re already using for depression.

The post Diet to Reduce Blood Pressure May Help Combat Depression appeared first on Futurism.


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Pressure on Facebook ramps up as Senate Judiciary Committee demands answers

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Pressure is growing on Facebook to explain its failure to protect customers against misuse of their data by a firm of political consultants.

Both US and UK governments have demanded that CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally appear before them to give testimony. But in the case of the UK, Zuckerberg has already refused …



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The best blood pressure monitor for home use

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By Stacey Higginbotham This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here. After spend…
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Wednesday briefing: Cambridge Analytica and Facebook bosses face pressure over privacy revelations

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iPhone needs a blood pressure monitor like Galaxy S9’s

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Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 packs a heart-rate monitor that can also check blood pressure. It’s high time Apple added these features to the next iPhone. Previously, Samsung’s phones could only gauge heart rate, which isn’t actually useful enough to justify adding the sensor. That’s changed now that the new one can also test blood pressure. […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Walmart will offer grocery delivery in more than 100 metro areas amid pressure from Amazon, Target and Instacart

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The company already offers grocery pickup at 1,200 of its stores.

Walmart already doubled down on its grocery pickup service. Now it’s doing the same for grocery delivery.

The big question: Can it succeed at both?

The giant brick-and-mortar retailer just announced that it is expanding its online grocery delivery service from six U.S. metro areas today to more than 100 in total by the end of the year, which should make it available to more than 40 percent of the U.S. population.

The announcement comes amid an onslaught of competition in the grocery delivery space, highlighted by Amazon’s rollout of Prime Now delivery, Target’s $ 550 million acquisition of delivery startup Shipt and Instacart’s streak of signing on big grocery partners.

But it is a bit surprising considering that Walmart has already invested a lot of time and money into its grocery pickup business, which is available at 1,200 stores and allows customers to pick up their online orders without exiting their cars. The company will add the service at another 1,000 stores by the end of this year.

The grocery pickup service doesn’t cost anything extra for shoppers. And that value proposition makes sense because the average Walmart customer has less disposable income than those of Amazon or Target.

But the grocery delivery service? It comes with a $ 9.95 delivery fee. So I asked a Walmart spokesperson who the intended customer is: Walmart’s existing customer or a different customer base the company aspires to reach?

It’s a bit of both, she said, but the rest of her answer made it sound like the latter.

“Online Grocery Deliver will make Walmart more accessible to some customers where it wasn’t before (customers who didn’t want to drive out of the city center to a suburban Walmart, customers who physically can’t get to a Walmart, or customers who only have their groceries delivered these days!).”

Today, Walmart uses partner companies Uber and Deliv to handle deliveries in its six current markets. The company says it will add more partners as it expands, which raises the possibility of a tie-up with Instacart, which recently announced a delivery relationship with Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club.

On one hand, the idea of Instacart partnering with the enemy of all of its regional grocery chains sounds farfetched. On the other hand, it’s 2018 and Amazon owns Whole Foods — which means anything is possible in the grocery space.

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New Sensor Lets You Monitor Blood Pressure With Your Smartphone

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It’s a Tongue Twister

Ever heard of a sphygmomanometer? Probably not by name, but if you’ve ever visited your doctor’s office or an emergency room, you probably had your blood pressure checked by one.

It’s important for doctors to keep tabs on patients’ blood pressure, or the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls, because having blood pressure that’s too high or too low can put people at risk for a number of health conditions.

The traditional arm cuff that produces a numerical readout of your blood pressure is called a sphygmomanometer… say that three times fast. While you’ll find a sphygmomanometer in any healthcare setting, you’re less likely to have one on hand at home — and if you have high blood pressure, which increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, you may want to be able to monitor it without having to make a doctor’s appointment.

Even if you think your blood pressure is fine, consider this: according to the CDC, one in three adults in America have high blood pressure, called hypertension — but many don’t even know they have it.

In a paper published this week in Science Translational Medicine, a team of researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Maryland debuted a new tool to help make it easier to self-monitor blood pressure at home. They developed a sensor that turns a smartphone into a device capable of checking a person’s blood pressure.

A name like “sphygmomanometer” might make it sound like the technology required to determine a person’s blood pressure is complicated, but it’s actually quite straightforward. The researchers simply needed a way to measure changes in a person’s blood volume (they used an optical tool that’s not very expensive) and a transducer that could detect changes in pressure and convert those changes into an electrical signal. The team was then able to 3D print the sensor, which works with a smartphone.

When a smartphone user applies their finger to the sensor, these components physically detect their blood pressure, which can then be interpreted by an algorithm to provide a readout. If that all sounds familiar, it’s probably because many fitness trackers use the same optical tool that the team used, called photoplethysmography.

The team’s sensor, and the smartphone app that accompanies it, could certainly help patients keep an eye on their blood pressure between appointments. But it’s important to remember that using the app isn’t the same as having your blood pressure taken (and interpreted) by a medical professional.

So, for now, it seems we’re not quite ready to bid farewell to the tongue-twisting sphygmomanometer.

The post New Sensor Lets You Monitor Blood Pressure With Your Smartphone appeared first on Futurism.


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The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ can measure your blood pressure

When we read Samsung’s patent about measuring blood pressure with an optical sensor, we imagined it will be used on smartwatches in the future. So imagine our surprise to find out that the Galaxy S9 and S9+ have just such a sensor. Besides blood pressure, the phone can measure your stress levels as well. Samsung also plans to expand Bixbi’s skills to allow it to judge the calories of a meal just by looking at it through the camera. This tech was co-developed with the University of California San Francisco in a collaboration dubbed My BP Lab. Users can opt into a three-week UCFS… – Latest articles

Samsung patents a way for smartwatches to measure blood pressure

Many smartwatches (even smartbands) can measure your heart rate, but very few can measure blood pressure. That’s because to measure blood pressure, you need a tight-fitting band that presses into your hand uncomfortably. A patent shows that Samsung may have figured out a way to make the measurement with a light sensor similar to the heart rate sensors. The patent drawings show a watch, called Samsung Gear X (not to be confused with Gear IconX). The design shown is similar to the original Gear watches and we’re pretty sure it’s just a placeholder (same for the name). The way… – Latest articles

Samsung’s smartphone sales drop in Q4 puts pressure on upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9+

For a company that’s seen a fair bit of turmoil over the last couple of years, Samsung today reported relatively strong earnings, thanks to its surging chip business. Fortunately for Samsung, that strength overcame a mobile handset business that remains in transition.

With less than a month to go before Samsung unveils its new flagship phones, the earnings numbers are a reminder of just how much Samsung’s mobile business has riding on sales of the new Galaxy S9 and S9+, which are not expected to be radically different from last year’s S8 and S8+.

In the company’s Q4 earnings release today, Samsung Electronics reported record results for the third straight quarter. Given a disastrous recall of exploding Galaxy Notes in 2016 and a scandal that saw Samsung’s leader sentenced to five years in jail last year, that’s somewhat remarkable. Samsung said its profits were up 42 percent from the previous year, and revenue rose 23.7 percent.

However, while Samsung did not provide specific numbers, the company noted that “Total smartphone shipments decreased, due to the lineup optimization of low-end models, while shipments of flagship products, such as the Galaxy Note 8, increased from the previous quarter.”

In other words, Samsung has been a company traditionally focused on market share, selling a wide range of smartphones. But it’s been winnowing that lineup, particularly after a couple of rough years that saw it blown out of markets like China, thanks to tough local competition.

Instead it is (once again) trying to follow Apple’s lead and focus more on premium phones with features that set them apart. Thus, increased sales of the flagship S8 are good news, even if it’s not enough to offset the overall drop in lower-end smartphones.

But if Samsung wants to lean harder on its flagship phones, that means the upcoming announcement of the Galaxy S9 and S9+ take on a greater significance.

In spite of leaks suggesting the S9 and S9+ will be fairly close to their predecessors, Samsung is optimistic that the new phones will boost earnings.

“In the first quarter, the company expects the mobile business to improve its earnings, led by an increase in sales of flagship products with the launch of Galaxy S9,” the company said in its earnings report.

And it emphasized that going forward, “Samsung will continue its efforts to differentiate its smartphones by adopting  cutting-edge technologies, such as foldable OLED displays.”

Samsung also said that this year “demand for smartphones is expected to rise, thanks to growing replacement demand for premium smartphones.”

The company certainly has its fans. We’ll soon see if that loyalty will be enough to move the new Galaxy phones in sufficient numbers to boost Samsung’s smartphone strategy.

Apple – VentureBeat