Your Body: Getting your sugar fix without killing your diet

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Your sweet tooth is real. New research shows that bacteria in our gut could actually be sending signals to our brain telling us to eat more sugar.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women, and no more than 37.5 grams for men.

But the average person is getting about three times that amount. So how do we maintain our healthy eating goals while still satisfying those cravings? Here are some of my tips:

  • Try a flavored tea. Simply tasting a fruity or sweet flavor may be enough.
  • Reach for real fruit instead of cookies, cakes or ice creams. It’s natural sugar and better than those baking items.
  • Chew some gum. It may satisfy your sweet craving and save you calories at the same time.

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Bed bugs resistant to more pesticides, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The rise of bed bugs in the last few decades may be due in large part to the their ability to resist insecticides used to kill them.

Exterminators have turned to new chemicals to combat the pest, but a new study finds that bedbugs are showing resistance to these insecticides as well.

In light of this, the best approach to getting rid of bed bugs should include "physical, mechanical, and cultural control measures" such as traps and mattress encasements in addition to insecticides, a new study concludes.

The study published in the Journal of Economic Entomology found that bed bugs are showing a lower susceptibility to two common pesticides containing either containing chlorfenapyr or bifenthrin.

"No one was looking at if bedbugs were resistant to [those]forms of insecticide," corresponding author Ameya Gondhalekar, an assistant professor Entomology at Purdue University, told ABC News.

To assess if bedbugs are becoming more resistant to insecticides containing chlorfenapyr or bifenthrin, researchers tested 10 different populations of bed bugs from across the country. As a control, researchers used a specific bed bug strain that is known to be susceptible to the insecticides being tested.

Researchers tested the effects of both pesticides on each of the 10 field strains, then compared each to the control.

They examined how much insecticide it took to kill each strain of bed bug and how long it took for the bed bugs to die once they were exposed. Researchers found that the concentration needed to kill bed bugs was higher in one of the test populations when compared to controls.

The control bed bugs died after seven days of exposure to chlorfenapyr and after three days of exposure to bifenthrin.

But it took more than seven days to kill the 10 test populations of bed bugs from around the country when they were exposed to chlorfenapyr. It also took more than three days to kill all the test populations when exposed to bifenthrin.

Gondhalekar said that the findings don't mean the insects are unstoppable.

"The big message is that you should not rely on insecticide only, but use a multitude of options," he said. "Regular monitoring and detecting infestation early" to help keep any outbreaks from spiraling out of control is important.

The study recommends a combined chemical and non-chemical approach to bed bug infestations that could include traps, hot steam, physical removal and mattress encasements.

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Some fitness trackers may fall short in measuring heart rate accurately, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your favorite wristband fitness-tracker may be good at measuring your steps, but not as accurate at monitoring your heart rate when you are at rest or exercising, according to a new study published Monday.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that four popular wrist-worn fitness trackers fell short in measuring heart rate during moderate exercise.

A co-author said the study aimed to help inform people who use the popular devices.

“We wanted to help provide people with some guidance and feedback and learn about how accurate this [heart-monitoring] feature was,” said co-author Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin.

Researchers examined four wrist-worn fitness trackers on the market in early 2016, each of which depends on a light-emitting diode (LED) to measure heart rate from tiny changes in skin blood volume as reflected by light on the wearer's skin.

Such wrist-worn devices have the advantages of being unobtrusive, useful for long-term wear and, as previous research has shown, generally accurate in measuring the number of steps a person takes, the study says.

But the researchers found that the four devices tested were less accurate in measuring heart rate during exercise in comparison with an electrocardiograph, the most accurate way to track heart rate.

For the study, a group of 40 healthy adults aged 30 to 65 wore the fitness trackers when they were at rest and during 10 minutes of treadmill exercise at 65 percent of the maximum heart rate.

All of the devices were more accurate in measuring heart rate when the wearers were at rest than during exercise, the study said.

When participants were at rest, the Fitbit Surge's measurement of heart rates was the closest of the four devices to the electrocardiograph (EKG) reading. Among the three other wrist-worn trackers, the Basis Peak was furthest off in its heart rate measurement during rest, and the Fitbit Charge and Mio Fuse were in the middle.

During the 10-minute exercise test, none of the four trackers was in close agreement with the EKG heart-rate readings.

In addition to discrepancies between the activity trackers’ heart-rate measurements and EKG readings, the four wrist-worn devices also showed inconsistencies in measuring the same heart rate in the same person under the same conditions, the study said.

Researcher Cadmus-Bertram said people undergo various physical changes during exercise that can affect heart-rate measurement.

“Heart rate is easiest to measure during rest, but once you start exercising, more variables come into play including sweat, which may have an effect”, said Cadmus-Bertram.

The study concluded that more research is needed on the heart-rate monitoring feature on wrist-worn fitness trackers before they can be used to help clinicians advise patients on heart issues.

Some physicians say the activity trackers on the whole are helpful motivational tools.

"Awareness is a separate issue from accuracy," Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women's heart health of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told ABC News. Awareness of activity levels makes people more motivated, and these devices are useful for that."

She said, however, that people should not mistake a fitness tracker for a medical diagnostic tool.

"All of these monitors help motivate people to exercise, but you can’t use these monitors as diagnostic tools or rely on them to give accurate answers to what’s going on from a cardiac perspective," she told ABC News.

Cadmus-Bertram agreed that even an imperfect fitness tracker could help many people better understand their health and wellness needs.

“We didn’t find (trackers) to be perfectly accurate,” she said. “But they don’t need to be perfectly accurate for most people wanting to live a more active lifestyle.”.

In a statement to ABC News, Fitbit officials said the trackers are not meant to be medical devices but give other valuable wellness measurements not measured by an EKG, such as estimated maximum oxygen consumption during exercise, which can indicate cardiovascular fitness.

“Fitbit is committed to making the best activity trackers on the market for consumers who want information to make informed decisions about their health and fitness, and we stand behind our heart-tracking technology,” Fitbit said in its statement. “Fitbit trackers are not intended to be medical devices and, unlike chest straps, wrist-based trackers fit conveniently and comfortably into everyday life, providing continuous heart rate for up to several days without recharging (vs. a couple hours at a time) to give a more informed picture of your overall health. “

We conducted extensive internal studies which show that Fitbit’s PurePulse technology performs to industry standard expectations for optical heart rate on the wrist. There also is independent scientific validation of the accuracy of Fitbit's sleeping heart rate, and Consumer Reports independently tested the heart rate accuracy of Fitbit Charge HR and Surge, and gave both products an “excellent” rating.”

Mark Gorelick, chief science officer for Mio Global, said in a statement that there is a need for devices that help people understand their own heart rate changes. He emphasized that the company's Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) could help people target their heart rate zones more easily.

"Mio has an extraordinary reputation for optical heart rate accuracy, and the introduction of our Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) technology makes heart rate zone training easy because people only need to know one number to understand the impact their exercise is having on their health,” Gorelick said.

“It is generally understood that health benefits are amplified during moderate- to high-intensity exercise, but most consumers don't know how to interpret their heart rate data. PAI is a simple, scientifically validated activity metric that helps consumers understand the intensity of their exercise, based on their personal profile and heart rate data, and empowers them to proactively manage their health and reduce risk of lifestyle-related diseases," Gorelick said.

The Basis Peak activity tracker was voluntarily recalled last December after some of the devices caused burns on users.

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'Top Chef' alum shows how to use natural dyes to create festive deviled eggs YORK) -- With Easter just days away, it's time for observers of the holiday to grab a few pearly white eggs and a dozen or so vibrant dyes to create festive ovals that look good enough to eat. But, this year also might be a perfect time to try cooking some colorful eggs that you really can eat. These festive eggs can leave decorative baskets for the Easter dinner table.

'Top Chef' second runner-up Marcel Vigneron, owner of Wolf restaurant on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, shows how to create a special deviled-egg dish with an Easter twist, using natural food dyes such as beets and Matcha to add a pop of color to a classic hors d'oeuvre.

The former titular star of SYFY's 'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen' took ABC News' Olivia Smith through a demonstration of how with such ingredients as turmeric and dried hibiscus a deviled-egg dish becomes an angelic masterpiece.

Here's the step-by-step egg-dyeing guide, as explained by the chef himself.

1) Start by boiling eggs in their shells for about 12 minutes (or however long you'd prefer) and then place them in ice cold water. 2) De-shell the eggs using a hard surface or with cold water to make removal easier. 3) Place the eggs in separate bowls based on which colors you'd like to dye them. 4) Fill the respective bowls with either the hibiscus flowers or the turmeric and pour boiling water into the bowls. 5) Let sit for about 12 hours in the liquid concoctions.

Check out the video to see how the radiant eggs transform into a delicious treat to add to this year's Easter menu.

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Indiana grandma marries high school prom date 64 years later

Courtesy of Anna Harris(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) -- These prom dates were a match made in heaven in 1953, but their true love wouldn’t be rekindled until 64 years later, when they finally walked down the aisle.

Joyce Kevorkian and Jim Bowman, both 81, have lived long, happy lives with their late spouses until becoming widowed in recent years. They remained in touch “once in a blue moon” throughout the decades, but it wasn’t until a recent letter Bowman sent Kevorkian that sealed the deal on their fate together.

“Our spouses were both adversely affected by strokes,” Bowman told ABC News. “I came to visit and we began to find we both still liked all the things we liked 64 years ago, and she’s more beautiful today than she was 64 years ago.”

The high school sweethearts were both previously married and raised their own families. But after losing their spouses of 58 and 53 years respectfully, and each fighting off loneliness while grieving, they’re “so happy” to have one another to celebrate happy times with again.

“It was just like there was a spark that was smoldering inside of our hearts and neither one of us knew it because there was no reason to explain our high school sweethearts to our then-happily married marriages,” Bowman explained. “But then when we came back together, that spark was begging to ignite again.”

The two wed on April 1 with an intimate ceremony in the meditation room at Kevorkian’s senior living facility in Notre Dame, Indiana. The bride’s granddaughter, Anna Harris, was her maid of honor.

“It was really sweet. I was with her when he proposed,” Harris, 21, said. “He did it over the phone. It was fun. That was the day I really noticed how much happier she was.

“She hangs up the phone and she goes, ‘Well that was a strange phone call. He asked me to marry him,’” Harris recalled of the December day they spent Christmas shopping together. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what did you say?’ And she said, ‘Well I think that sounds like a good idea.’ It was funny. You could see on the phone how obviously in love she was. She was all giggly. It’s really sweet.”

Harris posted touching photos of the lovebirds’ wedding to Twitter where they’ve now gone viral.

“It makes me feel really good that I could share her story and that can spread and make other people happy,” she said.

The newlyweds think their love story is “kind of unique” but admit they “had no idea how many would care” about their rekindled romance.

“We’re just two 81-year-old fools married on old Fools’ Day,” Bowman said with a laugh.

Kevorkian is thrilled her husband is still the gentleman she remembers from prom night all those years ago.

“He was fun and considerate and nice when he was a young man,” she explained. “There aren’t a whole lot of gentlemen left in the world. My husband was a gentleman and I was very happily married to him. So it was nice to find he was the same kind, considerate man that he was when he was in high school.”

The two honeymooned in Brown County State Park and visited Harris at Indiana University on their way home.

“We plan to make the best of every moment we have left,” said Bowman.

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Bat reportedly found in salad spurs CDC investigation

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Officials from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating after a dead bat allegedly was discovered by two people eating a prepackaged salad in Florida.

The CDC announced on Saturday that it is working with the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate. The two unnamed customers reported eating part of the salad from a Florida Wal-Mart before finding the animal, according to the CDC.

Fresh Express, which makes the packaged salads and distributes them at Wal-Mart, issued a limited recall for the Organic Marketside Spring Mix on Saturday.

"The recall was necessitated when Fresh Express was notified that extraneous animal matter was allegedly found in a single container of the salad," the company said in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution, all salads manufactured in the same production run are being recalled."

Officials from Fresh Express also said that the company “seriously and rigorously complies with all food safety regulations” and highlighted the many steps that are taken to safeguard food quality.

“In addition, a range of stringent controls are in place during growing and harvesting to mitigate against field material from entering the raw product system,” company officials said. "In manufacturing, additional controls including thorough washing and filtration systems as well as visual inspections that are designed to eliminate unwanted debris."

The bat remains were sent to a CDC laboratory for rabies testing, but due to its deteriorated condition, CDC investigators could not rule out it if it had been infected with rabies.

"In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment," the CDC said in a statement.

The two people who ate the salad are currently in good health with no sign of rabies infection and there have been no other reports of bat carcasses found in any other packaged salads, according to the CDC.

The CDC is also recommending that anyone else who ate the recalled salad and found animal material in it contact their local health department. Customers who have purchased the salad can return it for a full refund or call the Fresh Express Consumer Response Center toll-free at (800) 242-5472 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time for help.

Fresh Express released the information below about which salad mix is being recalled:

"The item subject to the recall is 5 oz. Organic Marketside Spring Mix marketed in a clear container with production code G089B19 and best-if-used-by date of APR 14, 2017 located on the front label, and UPC code 6 8113132897 5 located on the bottom of the container. The recalled salads were distributed only to Walmart stores located in the Southeastern region of the United States."

Additional information on the investigation can be found here.

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Author shares tips to fight rising health care costs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As the political debate over healthcare continues to rage in Congress, one thing many Americans can agree on is that the cost of healthcare in the U.S. has become too high.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, a doctor and former New York Times reporter who wrote the book An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back, gave tips in an interview with ABC News on how to protect yourself from being hit with exorbitantly high medical bills or how to fight back when that does happen.

Her new book examines where things went wrong and how patients can take back their rights within the healthcare system.

Wanda Wickizer, 51, from Virginia, told ABC News that following the death of her husband she lost her health insurance. Wickizer, who considers herself to be a normally healthy person, was working part time and raising two children, and felt she could not afford health insurance, so she went without it.

On Christmas Day in 2013, Wickizer ended up in the emergency room after suffering a series of debilitating headaches and vomiting. She later found out that a blood vessel in her brain burst, and the treatment required 15 days in the hospital and a medical evacuation.

Wickizer says, however, that even worse pain came later, when the bills for her treatment began coming in.

"The bills started coming in, we'd open them and it was just like unbelievable," Wickizer said. "I mean the helicopter was $50,000."

The total cost of saving her life that day amounted to nearly $500,000, Wickizer said.

"I cried a lot ... I couldn't pay all these bills and they kept saying, 'Well, you have to,'" she said.

Rosenthal cites Wickizer's healthcare nightmare as proof that the cost of American healthcare has been hijacked.

"You're both a patient to the good guys, and an ATM machine to the bad guys," Rosethal said, but added that the medical professionals are not the only ones to blame for the skyrocketing costs of healthcare.

"Patients don't speak up, don't assert their needs," Rosenthal said. "Patients have been complacent."

One thing Rosenthal recommends patients start doing is to understand that they hold a lot of power when they are getting treatment.

"[What] every patient should know is you have power, you have control," Rosenthal said. "Don't just write a check."

She added that before any treatment, ask your doctor how much tests, exams, and even surgery will cost. If additional testing, like x-rays or blood tests are required, demand that your doctor use in-network facilities.

Wickizer's fight to contest her medical bills took more than two years, and she said that during this battle she often wished that she had never even gone to the hospital.

"I would have died, but I wouldn't have had went through this," Wickizer said.

Wickizer said that eventually she reached an undisclosed settlement.

"We were never asking for me not to pay anything," Wickizer said. "I just wanted to pay what I had, what was fair."

In her book, Rosenthal goes into detail about what questions you should ask your doctor, how to read a hospital bill, how to dispute a hospital bill, and how to negotiate with your insurance provider. She also examines the U.S. healthcare system holistically, questioning why things such as drugs, childbirth, and surgery are more expensive in the U.S. than nearly anywhere else in the world.

Rosenthal shared the following templates with GMA for patients to use when protesting certain healthcare bills. She also recommends utilizing websites such as Health Care Bluebook and Clear Health Costs to better educate yourself on what your medical bills should look like.

To Tackle a Surprise Out-of-Network Bill

Dear Sirs:

The bills enclosed were for out-of-network services performed on __________ during my admission to __________ Medical Center, a hospital that is in my insurance network. I went to __________ Medical Center precisely because it was in my network. I was not informed of these providers' out-of-network status and did not consent to being treated by any out-of-network providers. Since I did not give informed consent for treatment beyond the terms and network of my insurance policy, I suggest you contact my insurer to work out payment; I will pay only that portion of the bill that I would have paid for in-network services. Please stop this effort to collect a bill I do not owe for a service I was never informed would be out-of-network. If I get another notice, I will report this collection effort to the __________ State Department of Insurance and __________ State Department of Consumer Affairs.


To Obtain Medical Records and Itemized Bills

Dear Sirs:

I have now requested my medical records/itemized bill __________ times and have yet to receive the material. It is my right to receive these records in any form I request under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act within thirty days and for a reasonable handling and processing fee. If this material is not quickly forthcoming, I will file a complaint with the federal Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which prosecutes HIPPA violations.


To Challenge Outrageous Charges/Billing Errors

Dear Sirs:

I'm writing to protest what I regard as excessive charges for my operation/hospitalization/procedure at your medical facility. The operation/hospitalization/procedure was billed to my insurer/me at $_____. This total included several itemized charges that were well above norms for our nation and our region, such as a $_____ charge for __________ and a $_____ charge for __________. The Healthcare Bluebook says a "fair price" is $_____ and $_____. Likewise, my bill includes entries for treatments I simply did not receive, such as $_____ for __________ and $_____ for __________. Before sending in any payment, I'm requesting that your billing and coding department review my chart to revise the charges, or explain to me the size and the nature of such entries. I have been a loyal customer of your hospital for many years and have been happy with my excellent medical care. But if these billing issues are not resolved, I feel compelled to report them to the state attorneys general/consumer protection agency, to investigate fraudulent or abusive billing practices.


An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back will be in bookstores nationwide on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

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Your Body: Baby boxes for first-time parents

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

First-time parents tend to take help anywhere they can get it. And now, a company called Baby Box is looking to educate new parents and bring awareness to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The Baby Box Company distributes boxes filled with diapers and other newborn necessities to new parents. The box itself also acts as a mattress that the baby can use as a bed.

Now, we don’t know exactly what causes SIDS but it seems that both physical and sleep environmental factors are involved. Babies born with low birth weight or who have had recent upper respiratory infection may be at higher risk.

These boxes are specifically designed to be safe sleeping environments for infants. They’re also available online.

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Study: Talking to your dog is a sign of intelligence

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — If you've talked to your dog or named your car, you're not only normal, you're smart.

Anthropomorphizing — that is giving human qualities to plants, animals, or things, proves that humans are "uniquely smart" creatures on this planet.

This is according to University of Chicago behavioral science professor Nicholas Epley.

Epley tells the publication Quartz, that rather than outgrowing the tendency to attribute human qualities to say, your teddy bear, "Recognizing the mind of another human being involves the same psychological processes as recognizing a mind in other animals, a god, or even a gadget. It is a reflection of our brain’s greatest ability rather than a sign of our stupidity."

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Recall issued after dead bat found in packaged salad 

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A dead bat found in pre-packaged salad has caused Fresh Express to pull one of its products.

The company announced a recall of some of its Organic Marketside Spring Mix after two people in Florida said they found a dead bat in their packaged salad, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bat was sent to the CDC's rabies lab for testing and "the deteriorated condition of the bat did not allow for CDC to definitively rule out whether this bat had rabies."

"CDC is supporting Florida local and state health officials in evaluating the people who found the bat in the salad," the CDC said in a statement. "In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment."

Fresh Express, which sells its salads at Walmart, said in a statement that the company and the retail giant "acted immediately to review all relevant records, launch an intensive investigation and initiate product removal and recall procedures."

For details on the recall, learn more from Fresh Express HERE.

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