Neurologists say accelerated brain aging in Black people can be countered by lifestyle changes

NBC News

Neurologists say accelerated brain aging in Black people can be countered by lifestyle changes

Curtis Bunn – December 2, 2022

Black physicians are fascinated but not surprised by recent data that suggests Black people’s brains are likely to age faster than those of other races due to stressors such as racism. However, doctors said lifestyle changes and preventative care could help slow some of the decline.

In a study published last month in the journal JAMA Neurology, researchers from Columbia University found racial and ethnic disparities in brain markers of Alzheimer’s disease and related cases of dementia. The scientists analyzed MRI scans of nearly 1,500 participants, and found that Black adults in their mid-50s were more likely than white or Hispanic adults of the same age group to show white-matter lesions in their brains, which are indicators of cerebrovascular disease or cognitive decline.

The authors noted that “social forces” may have played a part in the accelerated brain aging seen among their Black subjects. In particular, the study says the weathering hypothesis — which states that “chronic exposure to social and economic disadvantage leads to accelerated decline in physical health outcomes”— could cause Black middle-aged adults on average to have cerebrovascular disease earlier in life.

JAMA Neurology did not immediately respond to request for interview.

Dr. Philippe Douyon. (Courtesy of Dr. Bouyon)
Dr. Philippe Douyon. (Courtesy of Dr. Bouyon)

Dr. Philippe Douyon, a neurologist in New Jersey at the Inle Brain Fit Institute who hosts The Brain Prophets Podcast, said he’s concerned that some may interpret the study to mean that Black people are naturally predisposed to Alzheimer’s. “That’s not the case at all. A lot of things contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, chronic stress kills neurons or brain cells in the part of the brain responsible for making new memories,” Douyon said.

He also noted that chronic stress as a result “of racism or health inequalities due to racism” can raise someone’s risk of developing cognitive disease. “But I would not want people to think that it has anything to do with the fact that the color of their skin is black,” he said.

Dr. Richard D. King, a neurologist and associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said many people who experience a deterioration in brain function do not realize there’s a problem until there’s been “quite a bit of decline.”

He added that stress can exacerbate hypertension, which can make a person more prone to cognitive decline.

Dr. Richard D. King. (Pete Comparoni)
Dr. Richard D. King. (Pete Comparoni)

“Elevated blood pressure is a very strong risk factor for worsening cerebrovascular disease,” King said. “But two people might respond to the exact same stress in very different ways. It’s a difficult thing to measure on an individual basis.”

Donald Grant, a psychologist and the executive director of Mindful Training Solutions, a firm that designs diversity, equity and inclusion programs for businesses, said the stress of being Black in America can wear on the brain.

“We’re talking about Black folks experiencing these higher degrees of racialized stress, meaning we’re watching ourselves being murdered through racism, we’re watching ourselves not get jobs because of racism,” Grant said. “We’re watching ourselves not get housing and equal opportunities through racism. That creates a unique stress that nobody else experiences and our brains are being impacted by it.”

Minimizing the risk 

Douyon said there are many ways to slow brain aging, including maintaining a healthy diet and getting proper rest.

“You can minimize your risk of dementia by eating healthy — more fruits and grains and vegetables and less animal fats and sweets in moderation,” he said. “You need to make sure you’re getting six to eight hours of sleep every night.”

Douyon said sleep deprivation in someone’s mid-life years — 20s through 50s — can raise the risk of  dementia in their 60s, 70s or 80s. He said it’s important to not only get sleep, but deep sleep, known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

“That’s when the brain essentially clears out the toxins that are developing throughout the day. And when these toxins build up, they develop into plaques and those are the kind of plaques that we see in people with Alzheimer’s,” he said.

King added that it’s also important to keep the mind and body active.

“Exercise is a big one,” he said, “and that’s something that we’re actually pretty good at least until we get older, when we get kind of lazy. But physical activity is my best anti-aging formula.” He recommends spending 30 minutes per day doing “something that’s kind of vigorous and gets your heart rate up — gets you a little sweaty.”

King and Douyon also suggested playing board games, solving puzzles and reading as ways to exercise the brain.

“Learning a new hobby makes a big difference,” King said. “And then staying socially active. Keeping those connections with family with friends, with church and social organizations provide meaningful interaction. If you get isolated, you just don’t do as well as those that maintain those connections.”

In addition, Grant thinks it’s equally important to find ways to manage stress.

One option is through activities like restorative yoga, which Grant said can help address stress and regulate blood pressure and brain function.

Dr. Donald Grant. (Courtesy of Dr. Grant.)
Dr. Donald Grant. (Courtesy of Dr. Grant.)

“Racism creates a unique stress that nobody else experiences,” he said. “We have to begin building stress relief techniques in school that specifically speak to race-based stress and trauma. This type of yoga is one of them.”

King noted that “the study certainly suggests that if we were able to do things like close the socioeconomic gaps and provide more opportunities and reduce the number of microaggressions Black people face, you might see some change in that.”

He added that high blood pressure and diabetes, which are prevalent in Black communities, can be managed with proper health care and while both are very common, they are “very treatable.”

“What gets measured, gets managed,” King said. “And so you have to measure it. You have to go to your primary care doctor and check your blood pressure and blood sugar level. And you have to take your medications on a regular basis.”

Douyon said a holistic approach is likely the best way to slow down brain aging.

“You want to constantly be learning, constantly evolving, learning new skills, interacting with different people, learning new languages, traveling the world, having new experiences,” he said. “Being creatures of habit is killing our neurological potential. So, you don’t want to be sedentary — that causes the brain to atrophy and to shrink. These are things that we can do every day to minimize the risk of us developing something like Alzheimer’s.”

One Type of Exercise May Reduce Risk of Metastatic Cancer by 72%, Research Finds

Bicycling

One Type of Exercise May Reduce Risk of Metastatic Cancer by 72%, Research Finds

Madeleine Haase – December 2, 2022

exercise and cancer
Exercise May Reduce the Risk of Metastatic CancerJustin Paget – Getty Images

We all know that exercise is good for you, but new research shows just how beneficial regular exercise can be for our health.

A study from Tel Aviv University, published in Cancer Researchis the first to investigate the impact of exercise on the internal organs in which metastases (secondary cancerous growths) usually develop, like the lungs, liver, and lymph nodes. And what the researchers found was truly remarkable: aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by 72%.

In a press release, lead researchers Carmit Levy, Ph.D., and Ytach Gepner, Ph.D., said that these findings added new insight, showing that high-intensity aerobic exercise, which derives its energy from sugar, can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by as much as 72%. “If the general message to the public so far has been ‘be active, be healthy,’” they say, “now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximize the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.”

The study included both mice and humans—mice trained under a strict exercise regimen, and healthy human volunteers were examined before and after running.

Human data was also obtained from an epidemiological study that monitored 3,000 individuals for about 20 years—during that time, 243 new cancer cases were recorded. Researchers found that there was 72% less metastatic cancer in participants who reported regularly exercising at a high intensity, compared to those who did not engage in physical exercise.

The mice exhibited a similar outcome, which enabled the researchers to use the animal model to better understand what might be leading to the reduction in cancer. They found that aerobic activity significantly reduced the development of metastatic tumors in the lymph nodes, lungs, and liver of the mice. The researchers hypothesized that in both humans and model animals, this outcome is related to the body’s ramped-up use of glucose for fuel induced by exercise.

“Examining the cells of these organs, we found a rise in the number of glucose receptors during high-intensity aerobic activity—increasing glucose intake and turning the organs into effective energy-consumption machines, very much like the muscles,” Levy says in the press release.

According to the researchers, this happens because the organs must compete for sugar resources with the muscles, which are known to burn large quantities of glucose during physical exercise. As a result, there is less glucose—therefore energy—available for the cancer to metastasize, or grow and spread.

On top of these encouraging findings, Levy explains that “when a person exercises regularly, this condition becomes permanent: the tissues of internal organs change and become similar to muscle tissue.” We all know that sports and physical exercise are good for our health. However, this study in particular examines the internal organs, and discovered that exercise changes the whole body, so that the cancer cannot spread, and the primary tumor also shrinks in size, says Levy.

What is metastatic cancer?

Metastatic cancer is a cancer that spreads to another place which is not the primary location of the cancer, says Carolina Gutierrez, M.D., cancer rehabilitation specialist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and an attending physician at TIRR Memorial Hermann.

How does exercise affect your internal organs where metastases typically develop?

We knew from previous observational studies that exercise has a very important positive impact that can range from decreased risk of recurrence to decreased risk of getting certain cancers, but we didn’t really understand how that works, says Marlene Meyers, M.D., medical oncologist at NYU Langone Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Meyers explains that this study actually sought to look at what happens in mice. “Essentially, what it showed was that mice who exercised at high intensity had an increase in glucose receptors or sugar receptors in these organs.” She notes that the feeling from the researchers is that this increase in receptors competes with the glucose (sugar) that might go to cancer cells, which gives them the energy to spread.

How does exercise reduce your risk for cancer?

There are many reasons why exercise can reduce your risk for cancer, says Gutierrez. “Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and body composition, reduces fat, helps with glucose levels, and helps control high blood pressure. It also helps reduce the risk of diabetes, insulin resistance and in turn reduces a person’s overall cancer risk.”

However, when it comes to how high-intensity exercise, in particular, affects your cancer risk, the science is less clear. “We do know that any exercise can decrease the risk of recurrence in some cancers, so it’s not clear specifically whether high intensity makes as big a difference versus regular exercise, or how long you have to sustain high-intensity exercise or how often,” says Meyers.

In this study, the researchers defined high-intensity exercise as exercise where your heart rate is 80% to 85% of maximum pulse rate, says Meyers. Due to these findings, she says that “high-intensity exercise may be the type of exercise that actually can increase glucose receptors.” In the end, Meyers says that these findings do support what we know about exercise, “but doesn’t clearly say what we should be recommending for humans.”

The bottom line on exercise and cancer

Exercise is good for you, says Gutierrez. “It will help you with your overall health and reduce the risk not only of cancer but of metastases.”

However, Meyers warns that we need to take these promising findings with a grain of salt. “When we see these retrospective studies, we’re relying on what people report…There are many other factors that go into reduced risk, whether it’s exercise alone, exercise and nutrition, where you live, your family history,” she explains.

Future studies need to be more randomized, especially in our survivor populations, says Meyers.

Also, a reminder that exercise is not a substitute for medical care or cancer screenings, and it’s not an end all be all, says Meyers. “Even professional athletes get cancer,” so although exercise can do a whole lot of good for you, there’s no cure for cancer yet.

Suffering from flu, RSV or COVID-19? How you can tell the difference

Good Morning America

Suffering from flu, RSV or COVID-19? How you can tell the difference

Mary Kekatos – December 2, 2022

Suffering from flu, RSV or COVID-19? How you can tell the difference

The U.S. is facing a surge of respiratory viruses, mainly driven by COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Flu and RSV have appeared earlier than usual and have particularly affected children, leading to 78% of pediatric hospital beds being full, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

All three viruses have symptoms that are similar, which can make them difficult to tell apart. But knowing which virus a person has can help them receive proper treatment or, if need be, let them know if they need to isolate.

MORE: Two-thirds of states reporting ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of flu-like activity: CDC

Here are some questions to consider when trying to determine if you have COVID-19, flu or RSV.

What are the symptoms?

COVID-19, flu and RSV are more similar to each other than they are different in terms of symptoms.

One of the only symptoms exclusive to one virus and not the others is loss of taste and smell, which has been a hallmark symptom of COVID-19.

PHOTO: Symptoms of COVID-19, RSV, and Flu (ABC News Photo Illustration, CDC, Mayo Clinic)
PHOTO: Symptoms of COVID-19, RSV, and Flu (ABC News Photo Illustration, CDC, Mayo Clinic)

However, public health experts told ABC News the absence of one of the symptoms does not mean a patient doesn’t have a particular virus and that the only way to be sure is to get tested.

“In most cases, if anybody has generic symptoms, such as fever, cough, runny nose, there’s going to be no real way to distinguish which one is which without a test,” Dr. Scott Roberts, an assistant professor and the associate medical director of infection prevention at Yale School of Medicine, told ABC News.

How quickly did symptoms come about?

Flu symptoms typically appear rather quickly while symptoms of RSV and COVID-19 appear more gradually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 has an incubation period of two to 14 days while RSV has an average incubation of about five days but can be anywhere from two to eight days.

MORE: RSV cases hit 2-year high, CDC data shows

By comparison, flu has an incubation period of one to four days.

“So, if somebody says, ‘I went to Thanksgiving party yesterday where someone had flu and the next day I had a fever,’ I can already tell you that’s flu,” Roberts said. “I know it’s much too fast for it to be COVID.”

How old is the patient?

Public health experts told ABC News that depending on how old a patient is can affect the severity of the disease.

For example, RSV is most severe for infants younger than six months older and young children, particularly those with weakened immune systems or congenital lung or heart disease.

PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: People enter a pharmacy next to a sign promoting flu shots in New York Jan. 10, 2013. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: People enter a pharmacy next to a sign promoting flu shots in New York Jan. 10, 2013. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters, FILE)

“Children under six months of age and children maybe a little bit older who have underlying medical conditions or who were premature, end up with the shortness of breath and the difficulty breathing because their airways are just so small, and they don’t have a lot of reserve there to move air through the small air passages when they’re inflamed,” Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told ABC News.

However, relatively young and healthy adults are not likely to have a severe case of RSV if they get infected.

“In children, we tend to see a lot more of the sort of bronchiolitis respiratory issues with RSV,” Dr. Allison Bartlett, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told ABC News. “Adults, when they get RSV, it tends to be a like a cold. It’s just like one of the colds that you would get every year.”

With COVID-19, age is the number one risk factor when it comes to severe disease and death.

MORE: RSV hospitalizations in seniors much higher than any point in prior seasons

As of the week ending Nov. 19, Americans aged 65 and older make up 92% of all deaths from the virus, according to an ABC News analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What treatments or precautions do I need to follow?

“Not everyone needs to be tested; our pediatricians’ offices and hospitals are overloaded,” Bartlett said. However, figuring what the illness is can help treat the patient and potentially family members or close contacts, she said.

For example, with COVID-19, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines, which include isolating for at least five days — or longer if symptoms don’t improve — and wearing a mask around others.

Additionally, they can be prescribed Paxlovid if they are at risk of severe illness.

With flu, patients can receive Tamiflu to shorten the course of their illness as long as it is given early on and people who are exposed to flu can receive the treatment to prevent them from getting sick.

However, the most important thing a person can do if they are infected — when possible — is to stay home.

“If you’re really, really sick, go the hospital. If you’re not that sick, and it looks like a common cold, then you stay home and don’t infect people,” Doron said.

9 Questions for an Obesity Researcher Who Says Calorie Counting Isn’t the Answer

Bicycling

9 Questions for an Obesity Researcher Who Says Calorie Counting Isn’t the Answer

Donna Raskin – December 1, 2022

three cyclists riding uphill alongside a mountain
9 Questions for an Obesity ResearcherBrian Barnhart

In the October issue of Obesity: A Medical Journal, Barbara Corkey, Ph.D., its former editor-in-chief and emeritus professor of medicine and biochemistry at Boston University published an editorial called “En attendant Godot: Waiting for the Answer to Obesity and Longevity.”

In the piece, she addressed the problematic reality that since the 1970s, the number of Americans with obesity has increased. Experts now agree that gaining and losing weight is less an individual responsibility than previously believed and that diet and exercise “have virtually no lasting impact on weight loss,” Corkey wrote.

In fact, she and other obesity experts agree that rather than each person trying to diet their way to an ideal weight, the solution lies in examining and changing food production systems, as well as other institutions. It now appears that our health issues around weight might stem from the same industries that are contributing to climate change, including industrial farming, according to many experts who contributed to a report published in The Lancet in 2019.

Despite this, many Americans—including many athletes—believe weight is entirely the responsibility of a given individual and not part of a global “syndemic,” as The Lancet report writers called it, meaning when two or more biological factors work together to worsen a disease.

Bicycling talked to Corkey about how to reframe your approach to your weight—and what obesity really means for your health.

two cyclists taking a break on a gravel path discussing things
Brian Barnhart

Bicycling: Why does obesity put people at risk for other diseases?

Barbara Corkey: The answer is tricky. One of the things we know about people who struggle with being overweight or obese is that their body improperly handles eating and the storage of calories. For example, fasting insulin levels should be very low, but they are often very high in people who are going to have other health problems.

Metabolic misinformation can create havoc in the body: You feel hungry when you’re not, you hold onto fat when you don’t need to. The system has been misinformed. However, such metabolic defects do not occur in everyone. You can be overweight and not have those defects, just as you can be thin and have them, but you are more likely to have metabolic health issues if you are overweight.

The weight itself can also have some negative effects, such as on joints or lung capacity.

Bicycling: Should BMI continue to be used as a heath metric?

BC: The answer, in my opinion, is both yes and no. It’s not very precise. There are caveats. It’s like blood sugar measurements: If you’ve just eaten a big meal and your blood sugar level is high, then the number makes sense, but if you fasted and your blood sugar level is high, then you likely have a metabolic defect. One piece of information doesn’t automatically mean you have a disease.

Bicycling: We still see a lot of people who think weight is a matter of calories in versus calories out. How does this thinking hurt people living with obesity?

BC: First of all, it’s complete nonsense. There is no evidence at all that most people intentionally overeat. It doesn’t happen without an interruption of some sort in the metabolic system. It rarely happens in the entire natural world nor did it happen with the vast majority of even humans before 1970. The concept that suddenly everyone lost their willpower is a silly idea.

In my opinion, that misinformation about hunger and satiety is the reason the problem has gotten worse over the last few decades. We’re not saying it doesn’t matter what you eat, because you cannot gain weight without eating, but we’re not defying the laws of nature. It’s not up to you to become overweight or obese—something else is going on, even if you are actually overeating, because that behavior is just one step in the cycle of the problem.

Bicycling: Would you say that dieting is actually one of the habits that causes obesity?

BC: No. I think that dieting is a desperate effort to become more acceptable because we’re so bigoted and mean to people who have extra weight. Professor Rudy Leibel [a diabetes researcher and professor at Columbia University] has done some studies in which he has taken normal weight people and both overfed and underfed them. His goal was to find out what the body does in a controlled environment. In both cases, everyone’s bodies worked hard to maintain the original weight.

We are biologically programmed to maintain whatever weight our body thinks is our right weight. If you diet and then go back to eating the way you used to eat, you’ll regain the weight you lost and maybe more.

Many people have dysfunctional responses to some foods. In fact, a large percentage of certain populations appear to be genetically predisposed to insulin resistance and diabetes, and that’s even before we begin to add in high levels of processed foods without understanding how a healthy body responds to the added ingredients.

Bicycling: What do you think when you read about diet fads, which many people want to start in the New Year in order to lose weight quickly?

BC: Honestly, my first thought is about money and how much money we spend on diets. When the AIDS epidemic began, our government responded well to that and made available funding to try to solve the problem. When I did the last calculation, the United States spent $2,000 per person for AIDS to find a solution. At the same time, we spent under $1 per person to deal with obesity and that’s because we thought anyone can be the right weight if they just try hard enough.

The truth is, we’re not solving this problem because we’re not investing in understanding it and, instead, we leave individuals to deal with it on their own or to rely on unproven systems that make a profit.

Bicycling: It’s complicated for people to take food guidance, such as myplate.gov or the food pyramid and turn it into a shopping list. What is some real-life advice that will help people cook and shop so they can eat more healthfully?

BC: Shopping for real food is a good beginning—go for things you could potentially grow or raise in your backyard, whether it’s fruitsvegetables, or meats. Ideally, those foods are also advertised as being free from antibiotics.

Then, it’s essential to make a weekly menu and to shop once a week. Find recipes that you like that take 15 minutes or less to prepare. It takes longer than that to go to McDonald’s. You can have steak or fish with simple vegetables, and it doesn’t take a half-hour to make these things.

Every week, I make a large salad with a lot of raw vegetables and no dressing. I take some out each night, add dressing and mix in new things (fruit, nutscheese) for variety.

Bicycling: You mentioned culinary medicine in your editorial. What does that mean to you?

BC: If someone sees a doctor with an illness and instead of giving them a drug, they help them to change their eating plan, taking into account what people like, that’s culinary medicine.

Americans aren’t actually eating “real food,” but rather processed creations that are high in calories and low in nutrition. The 10 most abundantly consumed foods in the United States are grain-based desserts, yeast breads, chicken and chicken-mixed dishes, soda, energy drinks and sports drinks, pizza, alcoholic beverages, pasta and pasta dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, beef and beef-mixed dishes, and dairy-based desserts.

The list clearly excludes all fruits and vegetables in their native state, while including very few protein-based foods. In many cases, changing eating habits will change health. Not in all cases, of course, but culinary medicine should be part of the treatment.

Bicycling: Do you think high amounts of exercise, such as cycling and running, help with weight management?

BC: Well, first of all, we know perfectly well that exercise is beneficial especially as you age, although there are things that are not under your control, which include that you just can’t always do what you used to do. We slow down with age, even the most fit among us. Exercise is wonderful and to be encouraged, but it has not been shown to help with weight loss on its own.

Eating More Fruits and Veggies May Improve Your Memory—Here’s Why, According to New Research


EatingWell

Eating More Fruits and Veggies May Improve Your Memory—Here’s Why, According to New Research

Adam Meyer – December 1, 2022

Pineapple & Cucumber Salad
Pineapple & Cucumber Salad

Growing up, you were likely told more times than you can count to “Eat your veggies”—and for good reason. Fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other essential phytonutrients (like antioxidants) that are critical for good health and lowering your risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer—the top two causes of death in the U.S.

Pictured RecipePineapple & Cucumber Salad

While you probably know that fruits and vegetables are good for your body, you might be surprised to hear that they are also important for your brain, and that eating plenty of them may even improve your memory. According to a new study published on November 22, 2022, in Neurology, people who consume more foods high in antioxidant flavonols, which are abundant in several fruits and vegetables, may have a slower rate of memory decline. “Fruits and veggies’ high antioxidant levels, including polyphenols, flavonols and other bioactive compounds, lower inflammation in the body, which may contribute to memory decline,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes Ph.D., M.P.H., RD, a senior clinical dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and author of Recipe for Survival. “Additionally, these foods lower plaques in the brain due to their antioxidant properties and are beneficial for the microbiome, which we know is important for cognitive health.”

These findings are critical for public health, considering that the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) is expected to rise to 12.7 million by 2050. Keep reading to learn more.

RelatedWhy You Should Eat the Rainbow When It Comes to Fruits and Vegetables

What the Study Found

To arrive at these conclusions, researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed 961 participants for an average of seven years. The subjects had an average age of 81 and did not have dementia at the study’s onset Each year, participants completed a food-frequency questionnaire regarding how often they ate certain foods. They were also given annual cognitive and memory tests and asked about various lifestyle factors, including their level of physical activity and how much time they spent doing mentally engaging activities like reading and playing games.

Researchers determined rates of cognitive decline using a global cognition score ranging from 0.5 (no cognitive impairment) to 0.2 (mild thinking problems) to -0.5 (Alzheimer’s disease). Participants with the highest flavonol intake experienced a decline rate that was 0.4 units per decade slower than the decline rate of those with the lowest intake. “It’s exciting that our study shows making specific diet choices may lead to a slower rate of cognitive decline,” said Thomas M. Holland, M.D., M.S., study co-author and medical advisor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush University in a press release. “Something as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more tea is an easy way for people to take an active role in maintaining their brain health.”

What It Means

Researchers noted the slower rates of cognitive decline were likely due to flavonol’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They also determined that the best high-flavonol fruits and vegetables for brain health include apples, broccoli, kale, olive oil, oranges, pears, spinach and tomatoes. But numerous fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, so eating a variety is the best way to reap the benefits. “Typically, the darker the fruit or vegetable, the higher the flavonol content,” says Ellis Hunnes. “Berries are particularly high, as are dark leafy greens. Limited amounts of tea, coffee and red wine are also high in flavonols and can be beneficial for memory and overall health.”

The Bottom Line

A new study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in flavonol antioxidants may reduce rates of memory decline when combined with regular exercise and mentally stimulating activities. Additionally, eating plenty of these high-flavonol foods may help improve brain function, reduce rates of cognitive decline and lower risk of dementia. Consult your health care team about how to include more high-flavonol fruits and veggies in your diet to support your brain health.

Read Next: Best & Worst Foods for Brain Health, According to Dietitians

Only women who suffered in Russian prisons can know Brittney Griner’s agony

AZ Central – The Arizona Republic

Only women who suffered in Russian prisons can know Brittney Griner’s agony

Phil Boas, Arizona Republic – December 1, 2022

The story of Brittney Griner may ultimately turn out to be an historic marker that shows just how completely ignorant Americans were of their world in the early 21st century.

It may show how the people of this country were so removed from history and hard facts we could not comprehend the story of a Phoenix pro basketball player taken prisoner by the Russians.

This is not a story about a woman who did the crime and now must do the time.

If you believe that, you’re not only a fool, you’re a mean and ignorant lout.

Nor is this the story of U.S. indifference to women of color or LGBTQ people, or some sign we need to reform America’s draconian marijuana laws.

If you believe that, you’re indecent. You’re exploiting someone else’s suffering to advance your politics.

The Brittney Griner story is really an old story, a soul crushing tale of how historic events are indifferent to the agony of a single human being.

Brittney Griner could spend her life in prison
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow on July 26, 2022.
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner stands in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow on July 26, 2022.

We all know Griner’s predicament could end tomorrow with a U.S.-Russian prisoner swap. But what few are saying and must know is that it might never end, that Brittney Griner is caught in the awakening gears of a changing world and could conceivably spend the rest of her life in captivity.

Even before the Russians seized upon her as a bargaining chip exactly one week before its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, people were writing and speaking about what she is facing.

They are the only people who truly understand Brittney Griner. They’re women, they’re mostly Russian, and they have endured one of the worst penal systems on earth − the Russian gulag.

After Griner’s sentence:Russian media plays the international victim card

They know that what is in store for her is utterly hair-raising – a misery that few civilized people will ever know or comprehend.

Wait a minute, you say. The gulag? Isn’t that a relic of Soviet communism and Alexander Solzhenitsyn and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”?

No.

The Russian gulag lives. And Brittney Griner is trapped in its gear train.

Human rights violations, torture are common

“Our prison system was never reformed,” said “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, a member of the Russian punk band and activist group Pussy Riot and one of Griner’s fiercest advocates.

In March 2012, “Nadya” was arrested with other members of her band after protesting 40 seconds against Vladimir Putin’s Russia at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

“There was no period after gulag time,” she told the Oxford Union Society. There was talk of reforming Russian prisons, but “they never did it. That’s why we still live in barracks. Still live like slaves. One hundred women are sharing three toilets, and you can imagine what kind of mayhem (that causes) in the morning. It’s no fun.”

Jan Strzelecki, writing in 2019 for The Centre for Eastern Studies, noted that “most Russian penal colonies and prisons were built back in Stalinist times. Despite several attempts to reform the prison system in Russia, they still resemble the Soviet Gulag: human rights violations and torture are common.”

If Russian prisons are bad, Griner is getting the worst of it.

She is serving her nine-year sentence in IK-2, part of a notorious system of Russian penal colonies near Mordovia, a region about 300 miles east of Moscow, The (London) Guardian reports. “The prisons were built in the early 1930s as part of the gulag system of the Stalin era and together make up one of the largest penal complexes in Europe.”

Griner was sent to Russia’s ‘worst’ penal colony

Griner was arrested and later convicted of possessing vape cartridges with tiny amounts of marijuana. Yet, that is immaterial. Her sentence is a sham, because there is no Russian justice system.

In 2016, the acquittal rate in Russia’s criminal courts was a “merciless” 0.36%, reports the news-commentary site Riddle. The prison where Griner is serving her sentence cares nothing about justice or human dignity.

When Pussy Riot learned where Griner was headed, it tweeted out to its 243,000 followers, “Brittney Griner was transported to IK-2 Mordovia, the WORST penal colony in Russia.”

“Nadya” Tolokonnikova told MSNBC, “I’m terrified that Brittney Griner was moved to IK-2. … I was protesting terrible conditions in my penal colony, but I know (about) every chief official who works at IK-2 and I know exactly what human rights abuses they perform on a daily basis and the kinds of tortures that they use against prisoners.”

It has become a common phrase among Russian inmates that “If you haven’t served time in Mordovia, you know nothing about prison.”

Gelena Alekseyeva, a former government minister in Saratov, a port city on the Volga, served 3½ years in Mordovia for abetting commercial bribery.

“When the girls find out that they’re going to Mordovia, they cut their wrists, do everything possible: get sick, swallow nails, just so they don’t have to go there,” she told RadioFreeEurope.

Prisoners are punished psychologically

In a September 2013 letter, Pussy Riot’s “Nadya” described how Russian internment is not just a prison of walls and barbed wire.

It’s a prison of forgotten history, of remote geography; a prison of the mind and of physical deprivation; a prison of concentric circles that surround each inmate and make their lives a living hell.

The female wards of Mordovia are caught in a “medieval” system that most of the rest of the world left behind many decades ago.

To demonstrate that point, “Galena” told the story of the cats.

In Russian prisons cats are common because the places are overrun with vermin. “Mice lived with us. Rats lived with us in the industrial zone. Before you went into the bathroom, you needed to knock – there were special poles for that. So that the rats would scatter, you understand.”

To attack the problem, the prisons introduced cats to kill the rats. But the cats would reproduce and create their own problem, she told RadioFreeEurope. The Russians solved that by gathering up the kittens and throwing them into a sack and then into a furnace.

Starved for companionship, Russian women inmates grow fond of the cats. “There is nothing more dear to the inmates than these kittens and cats. But they can also be used for punishment. So, if you sewed badly today then we will burn the cats! They don’t punish one or two people − they punish a whole brigade.”

They also engage in slave labor

The sewing is a reference to the day labor of Russian women prisoners. In her letter on prison conditions, “Nadya” wrote, “My brigade in the sewing shop works 16 to 17 hours a day. From 7.30 am to 12.30 am. At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday.”

The sewing machines are “ancient” and dangerous, she wrote. “Your hands are pierced with needle marks and covered in scratches, your blood is all over the work table, but still, you keep sewing.”

“Galena” explained how the old industrial sewing equipment makes it very easy to make a mistake.

“The saw cuts the fabric along a chalk line continuously. God forbid, if the saw cuts somewhere else [and not on the chalk line], then all 100 cuts are ruined. I can say that fingers on the saw are chopped off, cut, blood flows. This is definitely unsafe, requiring some training.”

Miss a quota and not only you, but your entire brigade of prisoners is punished. This breeds anger and resentment.

“Prisoners are always on the verge of breaking down, screaming at each other, fighting over the smallest things. Just recently a young woman got stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors because she didn’t turn in a pair of pants on time.”

Prisons turn prisoner against prisoner

Those who disobey orders can be sent outdoors into the Russian winter.

“Nadya” told of one woman from a brigade of disabled and elderly prisoners who was punished this way for an entire day. Her frostbite was so bad “they had to amputate her fingers and one of her feet.”

One of the age-old techniques of Russian prisons is to turn prisoner against prisoner.

In their book “Before and After Prison: Women’s Stories,” a group of Russian sociologists explained that the heavy surveillance in Russian women’s prisons is enhanced by a less formal system of snitching.

“The system of squealing and earning high marks with the management for snooping on others, which was originally created in the Gulag [Soviet-era labor camps], has effectively survived until the present day,” St. Petersburg sociologist Yelena Omelchenko told The Moscow Times.

The result is an inmate population that doesn’t trust one another and routinely acts out in retribution.

“Women are cruel, and they are extremely nasty to each other, vicious as hell,” said Yulia, a prisoner whose story is included in the book. “If you are ill, or weak or old, they will be sure to exploit you, humiliate you, harass you, sometimes just for fun.

“… We were working in a sewing workshop in the colony, and some vicious inmates would cut the items that the girls in my team made so that we would fail to fulfill the plan.”

It’s all designed to dispirit inmates

That cruelty starts at the very beginning.

When Veronika Krass entered prison IK-14 in Mordovia in 2014, her eyes were drawn to the words on the entrance wall.

“Welcome To Hell.”

“When someone enters the colony, there’s a lineup in the yard,” she told RadioFreeEurope. “Everyone yells, ‘Fresh meat has arrived.’ The (new) inmates react of course to this − they are afraid.”

Soon they will be caught up in a system that deprives them of privacy, self-respect, food and their own humanity.

“The food and hygiene were unspeakable,” wrote “Nadya.” “It was a degrading and humiliating experience, and a great trauma for everyone who went through it.

Food consisted of rotten “slimy blackened” potatoes, stale bread and watered-down milk and rancid porridge, she said.

Know what Griner is facing before you speak

In her prison, “Galina” said, “It was awful, and really felt like barracks. And there was only one toilet room − with two toilets in it − per one detachment of three hundred people, who had a total of half an hour in the morning to use this toilet. It was surreal. […] We hardly ever had hot water, and the toilets, if they broke, would not be repaired. It was a concentration camp.”

Wrote “Nadya” in her letter, “Life in the colony is constructed in such a way as to make the inmate feel like a filthy animal who has no rights.”

“When the pipes get clogged, urine bursts forth from the washrooms and feces fly. We have learned to clean the sewage pipes ourselves, but the results do not last long: the pipes get backed up again. The colony does not have a cable for cleaning pipes. We can wash our clothes once a week, in a small room with three faucets from which cold water drips.”

In women’s prisons, toilets and showers do not have partitions. The sociologist Omelchenko said the “devastating lack of personal space” was intentional. “Whether you are eating or working or sleeping or showering, and even when you are using the toilet, you are exposed to others.”

“When I discovered, during the course of my research, how they renovated a toilet in one colony, I was stunned,” Omelchenko recalled. “In front of a row of holes in the ground − not separated by partitions − they placed a large mirror. I am still not fully convinced that the person who was responsible for that interior design solution was not in fact a moral sadist.”

Before you condemn Brittney Griner for breaking Russian law or before you use her story to score cheap political points, you need to understand what she is facing.

You need to know that the one man who holds the key to her release, a tyrant name Vladimir Putin, is also the man most responsible for the barbaric conditions in which she now lives.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. 

4 Best Arizona Cities To Retire on $2,500 a Month

Go Banking Rates

4 Best Arizona Cities To Retire on $2,500 a Month

Sam DiSalvo – November 30, 2022

tonda / Getty Images/iStockphoto
tonda / Getty Images/iStockphoto

With warm weather and relatively affordable living costs, Arizona has long been a popular destination for retirees. While the average monthly costs of the necessities (rent, groceries, healthcare and utilities) total $2,626 across the U.S., there are several cities in Arizona where you can live on even less.

GOBankingRates has identified the Arizona cities where not only could you live on $2,500 a month in retirement, but where you could also live well. Only cities with livability scores of 65 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 100) were considered. These are the best Arizona cities for retirees to live on $2,500 a month.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com
Phoenix
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,397
  • Livability score: 65

Although Phoenix is the most expensive city on this ranking, it’s still relatively affordable compared to other places in the U.S. At $341, the average monthly cost of groceries for a person age 65 or older is less than the national average of $350. And healthcare is also more affordable — the average monthly cost for this age group is $512 in Phoenix, while the national average is $556.

Take Our Poll: How Do You Typically Split the Restaurant Bill?

Thunderbird Conservation Park lo / Shutterstock.com
Thunderbird Conservation Park lo / Shutterstock.com
Glendale
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,369
  • Livability score: 73

Affordable housing and groceries make Glendale a smart choice for retirees on budgets. The average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,196, while the average monthly cost of groceries for those age 65 and older is $339.

benedek / Getty Images/iStockphoto
benedek / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Tucson
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,063
  • Livability score: 65

Tucson is the most affordable city on this list: The average rent for a one-bedroom is $962, the average monthly cost for groceries is $335, the average monthly cost for healthcare is $453 and the average monthly cost for utilities is $313. However, the No. 1 city has Tucson beat in terms of livability, as well as the percentage of the population that’s 65 and older, which is 14.8% here.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Mesa
  • Total monthly expenditures: $2,456
  • Livability score: 77

Although Mesa is not the cheapest city on this list, it has the highest percentage of people age 65 and older at 16.6% and the highest livability score. There’s no shortage of things to do in Mesa, with Wild West towns for history lovers, mountains and lakes for those seeking outdoor adventure, museums, restaurants, shopping, golf courses and more.

Why It’s So Important to Get Enough Magnesium

Men’s Health

Why It’s So Important to Get Enough Magnesium

Emilia Benton – November 30, 2022

close up of human hands he is taking pill
The Health Benefits of MagnesiumMStudioImages – Getty Images

When it comes to getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function, chances are you’re familiar with the big ones, like iron, vitamins C and D and calcium. You’ve probably also heard about magnesium but probably haven’t been sure if you really need to prioritize it. Experts will be quick to tell you it’s important.

According to New York City-based Bianca Tamburello, RDN, a registered dietitian in New York City, magnesium plays an important role in many body functions, including regulating blood pressure and blood sugar, creating energy, and maintaining optimal bone health. That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough.

Why is magnesium important?

While magnesium deficiency isn’t common among healthy individuals, you want to be sure that you have the optimal amount. Research has shown that low magnesium intake can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, heart disease, stroke, migraine headaches, asthma, and colon cancer. According to Tamburello, getting enough magnesium is also important in aiding the body in proper absorption of calcium and potassium, two other important minerals.

Can you take too much magnesium?

It is possible to get too much of a good thing, which is why it’s important to seek counsel related to your individual needs before starting to take a magnesium supplement, Tamburello says. Getting too much magnesium through a supplement can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain.

“Taking a magnesium supplement is not for everyone, so you should talk to your doctor before starting one,” she says. While high magnesium levels seem to have some beneficial effects—they’ve been associated with a decreased risk of osteoporosis and diabetes, and the lessening of lessen migraine symptoms (if your magnesium levels were low), explains Tamburello, there are risks of getting too much. It can be toxic, she says. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should take no more than 350 mg of a magnesium supplement daily. Additionally, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that men 31 and older aim for 420 mg of magnesium per day through food alone or through food and a supplement combined.

“It’s important to note that the magnesium supplement daily limit (350 mg) is lower than the overall recommended daily magnesium intake (420 mg from foods, beverages, and supplements),” Tamburello explains. “This is because the body reacts differently to concentrated amounts of minerals and vitamins found in supplements.”

Can you get enough magnesium through food?

You can, especially if you fill up on magnesium-rich foods including pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, salmon, almonds and almond butter, peanuts and peanut butter, raisins, and chickpeas, Tamburello says. Fruits such as guava, banana and dried figs are also high in magnesium, as are vegetables including spinach and Swiss chard.

If you’ve confirmed with a health care professional that you do need more magnesium, Tamburello recommends trying to bring your levels up through food first, rather than through supplements. Natural sources provide other key vitamins and minerals as well as magnesium.

The bottom line: Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a magnesium deficiency. A healthcare provider can help you determine if you can get back on track by simply tweaking your diet, or if adding a supplement can be beneficial.

Winter holidays bring more heart attack deaths than any other time of year

New Media Wire

Winter holidays bring more heart attack deaths than any other time of year

November 30, 2022

(NewMediaWire) – November 30, 2022 – DALLAS The joy of the winter holiday season is often marred for many as research shows that more people die from heart attacks during the last week of December than at any other time of the year. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says being aware of this annual phenomenon and taking a few important, heart-healthy steps may save lives.

“The holidays are a busy, often stressful, time for many of us. Routines are disrupted; we may tend to eat and drink more and exercise and relax less. We’re getting too little sleep and experiencing too much stress. We also may not be listening to our bodies or paying attention to warning signs, thinking a trip to the doctor can wait until after the new year,” said American Heart Association Chief Clinical Science Officer Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA. “While we don’t know exactly why there are more deadly heart attacks during this time of year, it’s important to be aware that all of these factors can be snowballing contributors to increasing the risk for a deadly cardiac event.”

Scientific research finds an uptick in cardiac events during the winter holiday season. A study published in Circulation, the flagship journal of the American Heart Association, reported that more cardiac deaths occur on December 25 than on any other day of the year; the second largest number of cardiac deaths occurs on December 26, and the third largest number occurs on January 1.

Winter weather has been noted as a trigger for increased heart attack risk due to restricted blood flow though constricted vessels causes by cold temperatures. However, another study published in Circulation found that even in the mild climate of Los Angeles County, about a third more heart attack deaths occur in December and January than in June through September. These findings were supported by a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association by researchers in New Zealand, where the December holidays fall during that area’s summer season.

“Research also shows that the biggest increases in these holiday heart attack deaths are among people who are not in a hospital. This highlights the importance of recognizing symptoms and seeking immediate medical care. Don’t ignore heart attack warning signs because you don’t want to spoil the holidays, the consequences could be much worse,” Elkind said. “It also calls attention to the need for increased awareness of knowing how to perform hands-only CPR. You could be out holiday shopping, enjoying an office party or spending time at a family gathering and witness someone having a heart attack and going into cardiac arrest. Starting CPR immediately and calling 9-1-1 could be the difference in life or death in those situations. Hands-only CPR is something nearly everyone can learn and do.”

Elkind notes that while it’s important to live heart-healthy all year long, there are a few tips you should gift yourself and your loved ones as we approach the holiday season:

  • Know symptoms and take action: Heart attack signs vary in men and women and it’s important to recognize them early and call 9-1-1 for help. The sooner medical treatment begins, the better the chances of survival and preventing heart damage.
  • Celebrate in moderation Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself, there are still ways to eat smart. Look for small, healthy changes and swaps you can make so you continue to feel your best while eating and drinking in moderation, and don’t forget to watch your salt intake.
  • Plan for peace on earth and goodwill toward yourself: Make time to take care of yourself during the busy holiday. Reduce stress from family interactions, strained finances, hectic schedules and other stressors prevalent this time of year, including traveling.
  • Keep moving: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and this number usually drops during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Get creative with ways to stay active, even if it’s going for a family walk or another fun activity you can do with your loved ones.
  • Stick to your meds: Busy holidays can cause you to skip medications, forgetting them when away from home or not getting refills in a timely manner. Here is a medication chart to help stay on top of it, and be sure to keep tabs on your blood pressure numbers.

The American Heart Association has more on ways to live heart-healthy during the holidays and all year long at heart.org.

Why Is My Pee Cloudy? Surprising Reasons for Cloudy Urine, According to Doctors

Prevention

Why Is My Pee Cloudy? Surprising Reasons for Cloudy Urine, According to Doctors

Madeleine Haase – November 30, 2022

Why Is My Pee Cloudy? Surprising Reasons for Cloudy Urine, According to Doctors

If you see something that looks off in your toilet bowl after urinating, don’t be too quick to flush away your worries (and the contents). While cloudy urine isn’t always cause for concern, it’s important to pay attention to what’s in your toilet bowl—there is a chance something more serious is at play.

When you think of normal, healthy urine, it’s typically transparent, no matter the color. Cloudy urine, on the other hand, can appear white, flaky, and greenish. But it’s mostly described as murky—as in you can’t see through it, says S. Adam Ramin, M.D., urologist and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles.

So if you’re asking yourself, why is my pee cloudy? Read on to find out what the reason might be behind your cloudy urine and how to treat it.

Causes of Cloudy Urine
Dehydration

When you’re putting less water into your body than what’s leaving it, you can become dehydrated which can lead to less-diluted, cloudy urine. People can usually correct early dehydration simply with more water consumption.

Other symptoms of dehydration may include:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Decrease in urination
  • Dry skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramping
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), also known as bladder infections, can also cause cloudy urine, says Dr. Ramin. Urinary tract infections are one of the most common causes of cloudy urine. The cloudy look of the urine typically comes from a discharge of either pus or blood into the urinary tract. It could also be a buildup of white blood cells that indicates the body is trying to eliminate invading bacteria.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, females are more likely than males to get UTIs. In fact, around 50–60% of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime.

Other common UTI symptoms include:

  • Pain, burning, or stinging when you pee
  • A strong urge to pee all the time, but peeing doesn’t bring relief
  • Cloudy, bloody, or discolored urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pressure, cramping, or pain around your bladder/pelvis
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fever
Prostatitis

In men who have prostate infections, the prostate can start making secretions that could be milky, white milky fluid, says Dr. Ramin. “So sometimes with prostate infections, men can have a cloudy appearance to their urine.”

Vaginitis

Another kind of infection that can result in cloudy urine is vaginitis, or an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching, and pain. The most common types of vaginitis include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and trichomoniasis. Bacterial vaginosis results from an overgrowth of the bacteria naturally found in your vagina, which upsets the natural balance. Yeast infections are usually caused by a naturally occurring fungus. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite and is often sexually transmitted.

Other important vaginitis signs and symptoms can include:

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Some common sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia may cause cloudy urine.These diseases prompt the immune system to produce white blood cells that, when mixed with urine, give it a cloudy appearance.

Possible symptoms of STIs other than cloudy urine include:

The best way to prevent the spread of STIs is to use protection during sexual activity. Regular testing for STIs can help people receive an early diagnosis and treatment.

Kidney infection

UTIs can lead to a kidney infection, a serious type of infection in the kidneys. An untreated kidney infection can lead to permanent kidney damage. It is rare for kidney infections to cause cloudy urine, but it still happens, says Dr. Ramin.

Symptoms of a kidney infection may or may not include those of a UTI and may also include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Pain in your back, side, or groin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cloudy, dark, bloody, or foul-smelling pee
  • Frequent, painful urination

People should see their doctor as soon as possible if they are experiencing these symptoms for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early treatment of a UTI can help relieve discomfort and prevent complications.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can also cause a cloudy appearance to the urine, says Dr. Ramin. Small stones may pass without incident, but larger stones can block the urinary tract and cause a UTI. The most common symptom of passing kidney stones is severe pain below the ribs, generally near one side or the lower back. The pain may radiate to the lower abdomen or groin.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Bloody, or dark-tinged urine
  • Foul-smelling urine

Some kidney stones do not require treatment and will pass on to the urinary tract independently.

Proteinuria

Some patients who have cloudy urine may have higher levels of protein in their urine, a condition known as proteinuria, says Dr. Ramin. Causes may include relatively harmless symptoms, including dehydration or intense exercise, or more serious, including kidney disease or immune disorders. Patients with proteinuria “typically have some kind of kidney failure, diabetes out of control, or high blood pressure out of control, that causes protein to spill into the urine,” explains Dr. Ramin.

Certain kinds of food

This is a more rare scenario, but some foods can be responsible for your cloudy urine. Beets, in particular, can make urine look cloudy pink or red, says Dr. Ramin.

Medications

According to Dr. Ramin, cloudy urine can also be a result from certain chemotherapies and antibiotics.

How to treat cloudy urine

Cloudy urine is only a symptom, not a disease, says Dr. Ramin. “So once a person has cloudy urine, we have to determine what the source of the cloudy urine is.”

This typically means that a urologist will do a urinalysis with a urine culture, a test to check for bacteria or other germs in a urine sample. “If the culture grows bacteria, then we will prescribe antibiotics that are targeted towards the specific bacteria grown in urine,” says Dr. Ramin.

Sometimes we find there is no infection, says Dr. Ramin. “In which case, a urinalysis can let us know if there is protein in the urine…If we find a high concentration of protein in the urine, then we have to work up and find out why.” As stated before, these patients typically have some kind of kidney failure, or prolonged high blood sugar or high blood pressure, that causes protein to spill into the urine.

Aside from a urine culture and urinalysis, there are other tests that might be done to diagnose the reason behind your cloudy urine. Those tests may include a pelvic ultrasound, a prostate ultrasound, or a kidney ultrasound, says Dr. Ramin. He adds that “sometimes we may need to do a CT to get better imagery and understand the situation better.” Moreover, he notes that sometimes urologists also perform cystoscopies to physically look inside the urethra, the prostate, and the bladder to determine the source of the problem.

How to prevent cloudy urine

The best way to prevent cloudy urine is to stay hydrated, says Dr. Ramin. “Drink a lot of fluids, including water and electrolytes.”

However, if a person is having cloudy urine for a long time, “it’s very important that they see a medical professional to make sure it’s not a sign of something more serious,” he warns.

When to see a doctor

If your cloudy urine was a one-time occurrence and it has cleared up on its own, and if you are not experiencing any other symptoms, then you are most likely fine and seeing a medical professional is not necessary, says Dr. Ramin.

However, “if it’s a continued process, that each time you urinate you are seeing cloudy urine over a day or two, it’s important for you to go see a doctor,” says Dr. Ramin. In addition to that, he notes that “if you’re having other symptoms such as burning with urination, urgency with urination, frequent urination, pain in the pelvic area, fevers, and/or blood in the urine, those are all signs that they should immediately seek medical attention.”