Medical Notes this week…

This flu season is officially “moderately severe,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it’s likely to get worse. It’s a result of this year’s predominant flu strain—an H2N3 virus that’s much stronger than the virus that dominated last year. Vaccines are also less effective against H2N3 viruses. Some experts estimate that this year’s vaccine is about 30 percent effective at best. That’s still markedly better than the vaccine did in Australia during winter there six months ago when officials said it was only 10 percent effective.

If you want to cut down on sugar and carbs get more sleep. A study in the “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” shows that when people increase their sleep time they don’t have as much of a sweet tooth. A group of study subjects received advice on how to sleep better and increased their sleep time by as much as 90 minutes a night. They ended up making better nutritional choices–cutting down the sugar in their diets by as much as 10 grams a day and also ate fewer carbs.

And finally, to increase strength and power in your workout, swear out loud. A study in the “Journal of Psychology of Sports and Exercise” finds that cursing increases power while riding a stationary bike by nearly five percent and increases hand grip strength by more than eight percent. Researchers can only speculate why it occurs, but they know that swearing is handled by brain regions that don’t normally process language.

And that’s Medical Notes this week.

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