Giant pink condom put onto Sydney’s Hyde Park obelisk

Covering a structure in the centre of Sydney will remind residents to have safe sex in the lead up to the Gay and Lesbian Mari Gras, a health promotion service says.

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How Bad Is It to Hold in Your Poop?

We can all agree that pooping is good for you. (There are few such universal, unequivocal truths in the health world.)

But the urge can sometimes come at the most inopportune moments. Perhaps you’re in the middle of an important client meeting, on a hot date, or in an airplane and have a fear of letting it out in the sky (totally reasonable fear, by the way). So you do what any rational adult would do:

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You hold it in until you can go a little bit later. It can’t be that bad, can it? To be honest, we can’t believe we’re talking about this either, but somebody’s got to ask the question, and we’ve got answers.

The Need-to-Know

How Bad Is It to Hold In Your Poop?

Simply put, poop is a combination of waste material and bacteria, as a result of your body’s digestive process. After you eat, it takes your body a little less than 53 hours for it to do its thing and push that BLT sandwich from your mouth through your digestive tract and out the other end (fun fact: the food spends roughly 40 of those hours just in your large intestine, a.k.a. your colon). When the digested food finally reaches the end, the rectal walls are stretched, and that sends a complex signal to the brain that it’s “go-time.”

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Everyone’s schedule and frequency are going to differ–some go a few times a day or once every couple of days. The important thing is that you’re on a more or less regular schedule. So, when you’ve got to go, it’s best that you “listen to your body.” But if you’ve got to hold it in for whatever reason, the feces returns to your colon, where more water is absorbed and stored until the next time you do need to go.

And that’s where you can get into some deep sh*t.

“Holding in your poo on the rare occasion is fine, but [shouldn’t be] done all the time,” says Alison Chen, N.D., and author of What Your Poo Says About You. Keeping in your bowel movement can lead to unnecessary constipation, Chen says, because the longer you hold the stool in your colon, the more water is absorbed and the harder it becomes. Those factors could potentially cause colon damage due to the effort and strain of expelling it later on.

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“Holding your poop can result in distended bowels and problems with normal stooling in the near future,” says Spencer Nadolsky, D.O., a family physician, who added that the bowels can reshape over time. And another not-cool consequence: When you hold, the muscles of your rectum stretch and send the signal to stop responding to the urge to go, which can sometimes result in slower emptying of the colon when it’s time.

Both medical experts agree it’s not harmful to hold in your poop from time to time, but you definitely shouldn’t make a habit of it.

Okay, so that’s one mystery solved, but what about farts? (Laugh all you want, inquiring minds need to know!) “Holding farts in isn’t as bad, because it is air that needs to be released,” Chen says, “but it is still pressure that is building up inside.” Not to mention that it’s downright uncomfortable.

The Takeaway

It’s best to poop and fart as you need to.

There are few understandable reasons to legitimately fight the urge (like maybe if you were the President giving a public speech) to defecate, but in all other cases, you should avoid holding bowel movements when possible. Fact of the matter is: Everyone poops and should poop when they feel the urge to — even in the middle of a romantic dinner. Just show your date this article to make it extra convincing.

More from Greatist:

How Masturbation Affects Your Sex Drive

The Right Way to Shave, According to Experts

When’s the Best Time to Shower: Morning or Night?

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February 29th is Rare Disease Day: 4 Reasons You Should Care

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Before my daughter passed away from a rare disease I had never heard of “Rare Disease Day” and knew next to nothing about the impact rare disorders have on society. Over the past few years I have learned that rare diseases play a larger role in public health than most people realize and deserve consideration from the medical community, policy makers, and the general public.

A rare disease is defined by the National Institute of Health (NIH) as any disease that affects less than 200,000 people at a given time. The last day in February is an internationally recognized day set aside to raise awareness of the impact that rare diseases have on society. Here is what you need to know:

1. Rare diseases aren’t actually that rare.
While each individual rare disease affects only a small percentage of the population, there are over 7,000 rare diseases. When combined, they collectively affect 10% of the general population or 30 million people. Of these 30 million people, roughly half are children and 4.5 million of them won’t live to the age of five.

2. Of the 7,000 rare diseases only 4% have an effective treatment.
When my own daughter was finally diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder known as metachromatic leukodystrophy I momentarily felt a sense of relief. The agony of watching helplessly as her health declined and visiting expert after expert who all seemed baffled by her condition appeared to be at an end. Until the neurologist’s next piece of information. The disease is terminal. And there is no cure. While our family was “lucky” to have at least had a treatment option for slowing down the disease progression, there is little to nothing the medical community can do for the vast majority of children diagnosed with a rare disorder.

3. Rare disease research faces practical challenges that, if solved, could shift thinking for how medical research is conducted in the industry as a whole.
There are a number of barriers inherent to researching rare disorders. Patients are often scattered over a large demographic and even finding an adequate number people affected by a particular disease to conduct a well-designed clinical trial can be challenging. Additionally, medical literature describing key characteristics of a particular disease are scarce or non-existent, making it difficult for experts to build on previous knowledge. The current, traditional model of research and drug development that conceives of research results as intellectual property and sets up competition among researchers is unrealistic with such small patient populations. In order to overcome this barrier, some rare disease experts are leading advocates for revolutionary new research models that are more collaborative and open-sourced. This shift in philosophy to sharing vital research results more openly will benefit drug discovery as a whole by potentially reducing the costs and inefficiencies associated with replicating research in drug development.

4. Researching rare genetic disorders will increase the chance of finding cures for more common diseases.
Many rare diseases of a genetic nature are “single gene disorders”(the result of just one faulty gene). By contrast, many common diseases are polygenic (the result of the interaction of several different genes) and multi-factoral (in part due to many factors such as life-style and environment). The ability to isolate the single cause of a rare disease simplifies the research process since there are fewer variables to consider. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis whose symptoms don’t show up until adulthood must be studied taking into account the many factors that have influenced the disease process over the course of an individual’s lifetime and may benefit from the information that could be learned from similar degenerative rare diseases.

Until the last couple of decades rare diseases were truly neglected in the medical community and by society in general, even earning them the nickname “orphan diseases”. Fortunately, through a combination of legislation and advocacy, more people are beginning to understand why everyone should care about Rare Disease Day.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


Are You Eating Too Much Soy?

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Photo: Pond5


By Kristen Domonell for Life by Daily Burn

Between tofu and tempeh, miso and soy milk, and the ever-popular edamame, there’s certainly no shortage of soy on the shelves of your local food store. Long touted by health-minded folks as a better-for-you, eco-friendly alternative to meat, soy is a favorite among followers of increasingly mainstream plant-based diets. Yet, do a quick Google search for “soy” and some of the first results include headlines like, “The Dangers of Soy” and “Is Soy Bad for You?”

So what’s the deal? Here’s what you should know about the pros and cons of eating soy.

The Benefits of Swapping Hot Dogs for Soy

One of the biggest benefits of eating soy is that it can replace foods that may compromise your health, says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE. “If we are talking about soy in its whole form such as edamame, tofu and whole soy milk, then it is healthier than meat in the sense that soy provides an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals — without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat,” she says.

It’s the same rationale the Meatless Monday campaign uses to validate the claim that forgoing meat one day a week can lower your risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. You’re probably (or, hopefully!) swapping out less healthful foods, such as red meat, in favor of plant-based foods. And while there’s some evidence that soy might slightly lower your risk of heart disease, the effects are minor — but more on that below.

But Is Soy Really a Superfood?

Aside from the idea that eating more soy might lead you to eat less meat, there’s not much evidence that soy itself produces health benefits. Claims that it lowers cholesterol, calms hot flashes, prevents breast and prostate cancer, aids weight loss and wards off osteoporosis are all based on preliminary research, inconclusive evidence or overstated claims according to a 2014 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health report.

For example, while the American Heart Association used to advocate eating soy as part of a “heart healthy diet,” they have since backed off that recommendation because the data did not support such a claim, says Heather Patisaul, a developmental biologist at North Carolina State University who has studied the effects of eating soy. “For most people the benefits of soy on heart health are very small: a few cholesterol points but not much else,” she notes.

In fact, an American Heart Association review of 22 randomized trials found that eating 50 grams of soy a day only lowers LDL (aka: bad) cholesterol by three percent. To put that in perspective, you’d have to eat one-and-a-half pounds of tofu or drink eight, eight-ounce glasses of soy milk a day in order to consume 50 grams of soy. And that’s a lot of tofu, even for the most dedicated of soy fanatics.

The Darker Side of Soy

Soy has a shadier side, too — most notably regarding the effect it may have on your hormones. That’s because soy contains isoflavones — a type of phytoestrogren that mimics the effect of estrogen on the body. When you eat lots of soy, it has the potential to disrupt estrogen-sensitive systems in your body, including the reproductive system (which includes the brain, the pituitary gland and the reproductive organs), says Patisaul. There have even been cases where women have eaten so much soy (think: 60 grams a day for a month) that they’ve temporarily shut down their menstrual cycle, Patisaul says. “The developing brain is also very sensitive to estrogen, as is the mammary gland and the heart,” she notes.

It’s the same argument you’ve likely heard against using plastic water bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA), except that soy is even more estrogenic than BPA, according to a review of research on the pros and cons of phytoestrogens by Patisaul and her team. Beyond that, the NIH states that soy’s possible role in breast cancer is “uncertain” and advises that, “women who have or who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions (such as ovarian or uterine cancer) should be particularly careful about using soy and should discuss it with their health care providers.”

“Because everybody is different, it is impossible to know what the ‘right’ amount of soy is, but people can certainly go overboard,” says Patisaul. “For people wanting to achieve a reasonably healthy protein intake without experiencing possibly negative effects of soy, there is no need to have soy at every meal or to replace all foods [like milk and cheese] with soy-based ones.”

The Takeaway

So should you give up soy for good? Not necessarily. Eating some soy can be a healthy way to cut back on meat while still making sure you’re eating enough protein. But too much of a good thing has the potential to take its toll on your hormones and your health. “For healthy adults, I think about soy the way I think about things like sugar, alcohol and caffeine,” says Patisaul. “Moderation is key.”

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20 Meal Prep Tips From the Best Preppers We Know
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