The coronavirus pandemic dominated the headlines and our daily lives for the past year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

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Our latest evidence-backed resource hub launched yesterday, this time focusing on exercise and fitness. It covers every aspect of getting and staying in shape. We think you’ll enjoy it.

Next up is a Special Feature on the emerging links between anxiety and inflammation. The evidence is mounting, but it’s far from a simple picture, as Tim Newman explains.

We also explore whether it’s possible to make your hair grow faster, what to eat to strengthen the immune system — and what to avoid, as well as what appears to be a “halo effect” associated with following the Mediterranean diet.

Finally, to mark Endometriosis Awareness Month, we assess the latest research and highlight why more funding is needed to help millions of women with the condition.

We highlight this research below, along with other recent stories that you may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor.

1. Exercise & fitness: In-depth resources for health and well-being

This week saw the launch of MNT‘s exercise and fitness hub. It features 80 articles covering every aspect of getting and staying fit, whatever a person’s age or ability.

First, our editors look at what being fit means, how to start exercising, and the health benefits of regular physical activity. Next, we delve into the science of fitness, including the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise, why muscles are important, and different body types.

With sections on exercise types, weight management, home workouts, and more, this is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their fitness. It’s also a living resource, which our editors will regularly update with the latest exercise and fitness news, product reviews, and recommendations.

Learn more here.

2. Anxiety and inflammation: What is the link?

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What is the relationship between inflammation and anxiety? In this new article, Senior Editor Tim Newman takes a closer look at the evidence, including the latest research on specific inflammatory markers and the role of the microbiome.

The evidence supporting a strong link between inflammation and anxiety is steadily mounting, but it remains a very complex topic. For example, one study found evidence that taking aspirin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, decreased the risk of anxiety, while another investigation did not.

This article also includes a video covering the highlights that is well worth watching. To access the feature and watch the video, please click below.

Learn more here.

3. Can you make your hair grow faster?

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It is difficult to predict which article will emerge as the most popular among those published each week, and this week is no exception. Our investigation of what people can do to encourage rapid hair growth has attracted over 125,000 sessions in only 2 days.

And as the article notes, while speeding up hair growth might not be possible, many factors do affect its growth rate. The article goes into detail about how hair grows and how the overall condition of the body affects hair health.

A healthy diet, caffeine, scalp massage, essential oils, and quitting smoking may all play a role. However, miracle cures and supplements probably do not.

Learn more here.

4. What to eat and avoid to maintain a strong immune system

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Our article on what to eat to support the immune system also proved very popular this week, attracting nearly 110,000 sessions in its first 2 days.

There is good evidence that citrus fruits, foods containing zinc, cruciferous vegetables, garlic, and ginger all help strengthen the immune system. However, there are also foods that weaken it, which our editors explore here too.

To check that what you’re eating gives your body a fighting chance to defeat illness, click below.

Learn more here.

5. What are the 13 factors that shape brain health?

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This week, we reported on new brain health guidelines from experts at the American Heart Association (AHA). They have identified 13 modifiable factors that may affect cognitive ability over a person’s lifetime. The key term here is “modifiable,” as these are all factors that individuals can control and adapt to improve their own health.

This work adds to the AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines, announced in 2017, that identified seven factors to look out for regarding cardiovascular health: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, level of exercise, diet, body weight, and smoking status.

Click below to see the additional six factors the AHA identify that influence brain health and cognitive ability.

Learn more here.

6. Quitting smoking may improve mental well-being

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As we saw above, smoking is a modifiable factor that influences cardiovascular and brain health. Now, a new review supports this, finding that people who quit smoking had a greater reduction in anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms than those who did not.

These benefits emerge within a matter of weeks, which could help motivate more of the 40 million smokers in the U.S. to quit. It’s thought that many may have concerns about the negative mental health effects associated with stopping smoking.

The review, which includes data from more than 169,500 participants, concluded that quitting smoking did not worsen depression, anxiety, or symptoms of stress.

Learn more here.

7. People with dementia may be prescribed interacting drugs

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According to a recent study reported in MNT this week, doctors may be prescribing too many medications to people with dementia.

The research found that nearly 14% of those with dementia take three or more drugs that interact with the brain or central nervous system for more than 1 month. This may result in drug interactions in people aged 65 years or older that accelerate cognitive decline and increase the risk of injury and death.

However, there is a lack of information on drug interactions and dementia available to doctors. This makes decisions about which drugs to prescribe in each case, and for how long, difficult.

Learn more here.

8. Benefits of Mediterranean diet may extend to family members

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People living with someone who follows a Mediterranean diet weight loss program may also find themselves losing weight. That was one encouraging finding of new research covered by MNT this week.

This halo effect increases over time, with relatives of participants losing nearly 3 pounds (lb) more during the first year of the program and another 9 lb in the second year compared with the control group.

“The effect was contagious,” says the study’s principal investigator. The researchers believed this improvement was due to the Mediterranean diet, as they did not see an increase in physical activity among the other family members.

Learn more here.

9. The latest in endometriosis research: Ways forward

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March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and in this Special Feature, our editors outline the latest research on the condition. Up to 6.5 million women in the U.S. may have endometriosis, but it often goes undiagnosed. As many as 40% of women with infertility have the condition.

In this article, our editors focus on studies looking for possible causes and potential treatments, including dichloroacetate, cannabis and cannabinoids, and peptide medications.

However, endometriosis research continues to be underfunded, despite its impact on millions of people. This is why Endometriosis Awareness Month remains important, and why MNT support this campaign with this in-depth Special Feature.

Learn more here.

10. Maintaining health while working from home: 8 tips

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In our final pick this week, we examine the challenges of working from home. How might a homeworker adapt to maintain good physical, social, and psychological health?

Eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, and regular exercise are vital, of course. In addition, learning how to balance work and home life, even when your workplace is your home, should not be neglected, nor should personal connections.

We don’t know how long working from home will continue, but this article will help anyone in this position remain healthy and well. Indeed, some people may come out of lockdown strengthened by the experience.

Learn more here.

We hope that this week’s Recovery Room offers a taste of the stories that we cover at MNT. We’ll be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new stories and features every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interest:

  • Medical Myths: All about tuberculosis
  • 4 women whose work won the Nobel prize for their male supervisors
  • Revenge bedtime procrastination: A plight of our times