Amazon Seller Central Reports

Seller Central Reports

Just caught your first glimpse of the Seller Central dashboard? If it’s giving you a headache, don’t worry. It can make even seasoned sellers freeze like a deer in the headlights. Join us as we look at some of the most important Amazon Seller Central reports to see what they do and why they matter.

People with an individual seller account don’t have much visibility over their orders on Amazon. However, sellers who sign up for the Professional selling plan on Amazon have access to a dashboard packed with business tools. These include stats and reports to help them make informed pricing decisions and boost sales.

Available for download in .csv format, these reports show important data less than 2 years old. But back in 2015, the dashboard was crammed full of reports. Remember this beginner’s guide? So, some of the reports were moved to the Amazon Selling Coach. Others became part of the Sales Dashboard section. A few more were grouped in the Business Reports section.

You’ll find Business Reports in the Reports tab on Seller Central. Clicking it takes you to a new page. The Sales Dashboard is the default view. Simply click on one of the options on the left-hand side to access the business report you need. Also, don’t forget to check sales trends. This Seller University tutorial shows you how.

Back in 2015, Elena shared some tips on business reports. The Detail Page Sales and Traffic report is an example. Her tips are still relevant and insightful. So, when you budget for the new season or set up your pricing strategy, be sure to focus on the columns she mentioned:

  • Buy Box Percentage
  • Unit Session Percentage
  • Order Item Session Percentage

The Sales Dashboard is a nice way for those with a Pro Amazon account to visualize sales. It features a Sales Snapshot for the day. You’re also shown sales bar charts sorted by category. On top of that, there’s a year-on-year sales comparison graph with a custom date range and a toggle switch for table versus graph view.

Being able to compare this week’s sales with similar values from the previous year will reveal the effect of your current pricing strategies, inventory practices, and advertising efforts. Depending on the type of inventory you have, the dashboard could also help you single out your best performing brands and categories.

On most venues, the Amazon Selling Coach can feature recommendations directly on the Seller Central homepage. Otherwise, you may need to access it via the Reports tab. If you sell on Amazon JP, for instance, you may prefer to view your Selling Coach reports on your phone via email.

Whichever way you access your recommendations, they’ll always refer to one of these five topics: Inventory, Pricing, Products, Fulfillment, and Advertising. Here’s a quick run-through of how each type of recommendation can help you:

  • Inventory recommendations are there so you never run out of stock.
  • Product opportunities feature popular items that would sell well on other venues.
  • Pricing suggestions show you products you may be able to sell for the lowest price.
  • Fulfillment opportunities show items you could convert to FBA.
  • Advertising suggestions highlight items eligible for paid campaigns.

Free shipping is a major incentive for Prime members, so many professional sellers sign up for FBA. If you fulfill all or part of your Amazon orders via FBA, then you need to check your FBA Business Reports often.

These reports are designed to help sellers track their performance on Amazon. Unfortunately, Amazon FBA Business Reports don’t come in a standalone section in Seller Central. Instead, they’re scattered across the website.

You’ll find FBA inventory, stranded inventory, bulk fix inventory, sales tax, and removal reports in various subsections of the Inventory tab, for instance. But the FBA Sales Lift tool, shown in the second tutorial above, is displayed on the Sales Dashboard. It compares sales before and after conversion to FBA.

FBA Sales LiftWhether you’re an experienced seller or you’re just starting out on Amazon, it wouldn’t hurt to read up on your Seller Central reports. You can check the help pages or watch some of the many Seller University or Seller Education tutorials.

Melanie

Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments, and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed

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Medical News Today: Paleo diet meal plan: A simple guide

The paleo diet is an eating plan that mimics how prehistoric humans may have eaten. It involves eating whole foods that people could theoretically hunt or gather.

Advocates of the paleo diet reject modern diets that are full of processed foods. They believe that returning to how hunter-gatherers ate may cause fewer health problems.

The paleo diet is not safe for everyone. Doctors do not know its effects on children, pregnant women, or older adults. People with chronic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, should also speak to a doctor before trying a paleo diet.

This article explores paleo principles and provides a 7-day paleo diet meal plan to follow. Read on to learn how to eat like our ancestors.

What is a paleo diet?

Couple chopping vegetables and cooking in kitchen for paleo diet
People who support the paleo diet claim that it can aid weight loss and reduce the risk of some health conditions.

The focus of the paleo diet is on eating foods that might have been available in the Paleolithic era. The paleo diet is also known as the stone age diet, hunter-gatherer diet, or caveman diet.

Before modern agriculture developed around 10,000 years ago, people typically ate foods that they could hunt or gather, such as fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

The development of modern farming changed how people ate. Dairy products, legumes, and grains became part of people’s diets.

Proponents of the paleo diet believe that the human body has not evolved to process dairy, legumes, and grains and that eating these foods could increase the risk of certain health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Foods that a person can eat on the paleo diet include:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • lean meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • herbs
  • spices
  • oils that come from fruit or nuts, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil

People following a paleo diet tend to choose grass-fed, organic meats because these are the least processed.

Foods to avoid on the paleo diet include:

  • grains, including wheat, oats, and barley
  • legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts
  • dairy
  • trans fats (hydrogenated oils)
  • refined sugars
  • artificial sweeteners
  • low-fat or diet products
  • salt

People following the paleo diet should drink lots of water. Some people on this diet also drink black coffee or green tea, but they avoid all soft drinks and juices with added sugar.

Getting regular exercise is another vital part of the paleo lifestyle.

7-day paleo diet meal plan

We have created a 7-day paleo diet meal plan with the intention of providing a guide for people who want to try this way of eating.

People can make changes to each meal according to their personal preference. Fruits, nuts, and seeds make excellent snacks or desserts.

Day 1

Green smoothie with apple and avocado on chopping board

On the first day, a person could eat the following:

  • Breakfast: Avocado, kale, banana, and apple smoothie with almond milk.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with fried seabass, pumpkin seeds, and an olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Roast chicken with a stuffing of onions, carrots, and rosemary.

Day 2

Chicken salad in bowl top down view with olive oil in jar

On the second day, use the leftovers for lunch and enjoy fish for dinner:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with wilted spinach, grilled tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with leftover roast chicken and an olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Oven-baked salmon with asparagus and broccoli fried in coconut oil.

Day 3

Beef and pepper stir fry

On day 3, use any leftover salmon from the previous day:

  • Breakfast: Chopped bananas with blueberries and almonds.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad leaves with leftover salmon and an olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Beef stir-fry with mixed peppers, using coconut oil to fry.

Day 4

Boiled eggs peeled on a plate.

On the fourth day, start with a protein-packed egg:

  • Breakfast: Broccoli fried in coconut oil with toasted almonds and a poached egg.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad with tuna, boiled eggs, seeds, and olive oil.
  • Dinner: Harissa-baked chicken wings with steamed broccoli.

Day 5

Mixed berries in a bowl including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries

On day 5, a person could prepare the following:

  • Breakfast: Coconut milk, mixed berries, and spinach smoothie.
  • Lunch: Butternut squash, broccoli, and tomato omelet with mixed salad.
  • Dinner: Red pepper, broccoli, baby corn, and salmon stir-fry.

Day 6

Curry or turmeric vegetable soup

On the sixth day, start with a savoury breakfast:

  • Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, and tomatoes fried in olive oil.
  • Lunch: Mixed vegetable and chicken soup with turmeric.
  • Dinner: Grilled lamb chops with wilted spinach and spiced red cabbage.

Day 7

Mushroom and leek omelet in pan

On day 7, add healthful fats by using avocado:

  • Breakfast: Spring onion, tomato, and mushroom omelet.
  • Lunch: Mixed salad with chicken, avocado, seeds, and olive oil.
  • Dinner: Slow-cooked beef stew with mixed vegetables.

Health benefits of paleo

People claim that the paleo diet offers many health benefits, which include promoting weight loss, reducing the risk of diabetes, and lowering blood pressure.

In this section, we look at the scientific evidence to see whether research supports any of these claims:

Weight loss

An older 2008 study found that 14 healthy volunteers achieved an average weight loss of 2.3 kilograms by following the paleo diet for 3 weeks.

In 2009, researchers compared the effects of the paleo diet with a diet for diabetes on 13 people with type 2 diabetes. The small study found that eating the paleo way reduced participants’ body weight and waist circumference.

A 2014 study of 70 postmenopausal women with obesity found that following a paleo diet helped participants lose weight after 6 months.

However, after 2 years, there was no difference in weight loss between participants following the paleo diet and those adhering to regular Nordic nutrition recommendations. These results suggest that other healthful diets may be just as successful at promoting weight loss.

The authors of a 2017 review noted that the paleo diet helped reduce weight in the short term but concluded that this result is due to caloric restriction, or consuming fewer calories.

Overall, the research suggests that the paleo diet may help people lose weight initially but that other diets that reduce calorie intake may be just as effective.

More research is necessary before doctors recommend the paleo diet for weight loss. Currently, doctors advise people to follow a calorie-controlled diet and exercise more to lose weight.

Reducing diabetes risk

Will following a paleo eating plan reduce a person’s risk of developing diabetes? The results of some initial studies are promising.

Insulin resistance is a risk factor for diabetes. Improving a person’s insulin sensitivity decreases the likelihood that they will develop diabetes and can help those who have diabetes reduce their symptoms.

A small study in 2015 compared the effects of the paleo diet with those of a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association on people with type 2 diabetes.

While both diets improved the participants’ metabolic health, the paleo diet was better at improving insulin resistance and blood sugar control.

An older 2009 study of nine sedentary volunteers without obesity also found that the paleo diet improved insulin sensitivity.

There is a need for more recent research on the paleo diet and diabetes, but the evidence to date suggests that eating like a hunter-gatherer may improve insulin sensitivity.

Lowering blood pressure

Studies into the impact of the paleo diet on blood pressure is ongoing.
Research into the impact of the paleo diet on blood pressure is ongoing.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. Some people think that the paleo diet can help keep blood pressure in check and promote heart health.

An older 2008 study of 14 healthy volunteers found that following the paleo diet for 3 weeks improved systolic blood pressure. It also decreased weight and body mass index (BMI). The study did not include a control group, however, so the results are not conclusive.

A 2014 study supported these early findings. Researchers compared the effects of the paleo diet with those of a diet that the Dutch Health Council recommend on 34 participants with characteristics of metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease.

Results showed that the paleo diet reduced blood pressure and blood lipid profile, both of which can improve heart health.

Although initial studies suggest that the paleo diet may reduce blood pressure and support heart health, more recent and extensive studies are necessary to make any conclusions.

Summary

Followers of the paleo diet aim to eat in the way that our prehistoric ancestors did. They seek out whole, unprocessed foods and avoid processed foods, grains, legumes, and dairy.

Paleo advocates argue that our bodies are unable to process foods that emerged after the development of farming.

A paleo meal plan may support weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood pressure in the short term. The results of small, initial studies support some of these health effects, but more research is necessary to confirm them.

The paleo diet may not be safe for everyone, so it is best to speak to a doctor or dietitian before making significant dietary changes.

For people who are interested in trying the paleo diet, the 7-day meal plan above is a good place to start.

39 Teacher Appreciation Quotes and Sayings to Show Thanks

Teachers and educators play a vital role in the lives of children. They help mold young minds and encourage students to challenge themselves on a daily basis. Parents trust teachers to look after their little ones and help them grow to become intelligent, caring people. It’s a job that requires lots of patience, understanding and a lifetime of dedication. With all that they do, it’s only right that we let teachers know how much they are appreciated!

It can be hard to put in words exactly how much of an impact a teacher has made in the lives of you and your family. We’ve compiled some of the best quotes and sayings to offer you inspiration for expressing your gratitude. Whether it’s for Teacher Appreciation Week or a thank you gift at the end of the school year, these teacher appreciation quotes and messages will help the educators in your life know how much you admire and cherish them.

Teachers make a huge impact in the lives of children and young adults and these quotes are the perfect way to let them know how important they are. Pair a quote with one of the messages to make it unique to the teachers in your life.

Quotes for teachers

  • “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” – Lady Bird Johnson
  • “The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” – Robert M. Hutchins
  • “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
  • “Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me.” –  Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)
  • “Not all superheroes wear capes, some having teaching degrees.” – Unknown Author
  • “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.” – Carl Jung
  • “A good teacher is like a candle — it consumes itself to light the way for others.” – Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
  • “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry Love
  • “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.” – Alexander the Great
  • “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X
  • “What a teacher writes on the blackboard of life can never be erased.” – Unknown Author
  • “Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” – Bob Talbert
  • “Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.” – Chinese Proverb
  • “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, and touches a heart.” – Unknown Author
  • “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey
  • “Teaching is a very noble profession that shapes the character, caliber, and future of the individual. If the people remember me as a good teacher, that will be the biggest honor for me.” – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
  • “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
  • “Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.” – Sidney Hook

Messages for teachers

  • Thank you for creating a fun and safe educational environment for my child!
  • All the hard work you put in day after day doesn’t go unnoticed — thank you for everything.
  • We’re so lucky that (child’s name) has you as a teacher!
  • You have made such a positive impact on my child’s life and I can’t thank you enough.
  • Not only are you a wonderful teacher, but you are also a wonderful role model for all of your students.
  • For all the late nights, early mornings and weekends spent grading and preparing lessons — we thank you for caring so much about our children!
  • There are not enough words to thank you for all that you do!
  • You are an inspiration to all students who are lucky enough to call you their teacher.
  • Thank you for pushing the children in your class to always be their best selves — you are helping them become wonderful young adults!
  • It makes me so happy when my child comes home excited about the day they had at school — thank you for making those days so constant.

Teacher appreciation puns and gifts

If words are not quite enough to let the teachers in your life truly know the impact they have, you can always opt for a small token of appreciation. To help get an extra smile, we’ve put together some hilarious puns  and little gifts to show your thanks.

Gift idea: A gift card to a local coffee shop

Pun for card: Thanks a latte for being such a great teacher!

Gift idea: A batch of homemade cookies

Pun for card: Thank you for making me one smart cookie!

Gift idea: A box of donuts

Pun for card: We donut know what we would do without your hard work.

Gift idea: A gift card to the movie theater

Pun for card: This year has been picture perfect thanks to you!

Gift idea: A basket of bath bombs and shower gel

Pun for card: You are a scent-sational teacher!

Gift idea: A candle

Pun for card: You light up the classroom!

GIft idea: Pack of new highlighters for classroom

Pun for card: Thank you for being the highlight of my child’s year!  

Gift idea: A gift card to a local nail salon

Pun for card: Mani thanks for all your hard work!

Gift idea: A mini succulent or flowers

Pun for card: Thank you for helping me grow this year.

Gift idea: A bottle of wine

Pun for card: No one is wine-ing that we have you as our child’s teacher!

Great teachers are the people who make a lasting impact on our lives. Whether they’re teaching from a textbook or sharing some of life’s most important lessons, those who make it their mission to educate deserve recognition and appreciation. By taking the time to express your gratitude for a teacher, you’ll let them know how much their hard work truly means to you. If you want to go the extra mile, consider making a homemade thank you card paired with one of our teacher appreciation quotes to show how much you value the work that they put in!

Sources

Global Digital Citizen | Canva | Bits of Positivity | American Greetings | Skip To My Lou | Curated Quotes | Ferns N Petals

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Medical News Today: Diabetes: Could a pill replace insulin injections?

Researchers have developed a new pill that can deliver insulin straight into the stomach wall. Will injections soon be a thing of the past?
White pill
An easy-to-swallow pill could replace daily insulin injections.

When type 2 diabetes is at an advanced stage, the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. At this point, doctors usually recommend daily insulin injections to manage blood sugar levels.

However, research has cited a phobia of needles as one of the most significant barriers preventing those with type 2 diabetes from taking insulin.

By radically changing the delivery of insulin, Robert Langer, a professor at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, and his colleagues hope to make insulin treatment more palatable.

The research features in the journal Science.

Using microneedles to deliver the drug

The team came up with an innovative new design for a pill that consists of a biodegradable capsule containing an insulin microneedle. When a person swallows the pill, insulin injects directly into the stomach wall.

As the stomach lining does not have any pain receptors, the researchers believe that this way of delivering the drug will be free of pain.

“We are really hopeful that this new type of capsule could someday help diabetic patients and perhaps anyone who requires therapies that can now only be given by injection or infusion,” explains Langer.

Microneedles are millimeter-size needles that scientists originally developed to penetrate the skin without causing pain.

The microneedle in this study had two components: a tip comprising compressed insulin, which penetrates the stomach wall, and a biodegradable shaft, which holds the tip in place.

Inside the capsule, the needle attaches to a compressed spring and a disc that the team created using sugar. The sugar disc dissolves when the capsule enters the stomach. By doing this, it releases the spring, allowing the microneedle to inject into the stomach wall.

This mechanism sounds deceptively simple, but what stops the microneedle from firing off in the wrong direction and missing the stomach wall?

“As soon as you take it, you want the system to self-right so that you can ensure contact with the tissue,” says Giovanni Traverso, an assistant professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Taking inspiration from tortoise shells

The solution came from an unlikely place. Native to Eastern and Southern Africa, the leopard tortoise, which has a high domed shell, is an expert at self-righting.

Inspired by the tortoise shell’s shape, the researchers used computer modeling to design the capsule. Irrespective of how the capsule lands in the stomach, its self-righting ability ensures that the needle makes contact with the stomach wall.

“What’s important is that we have the needle in contact with the tissue when it is injected,” explains Alex Abramson, a graduate student at MIT and first author of the study. “Also, if a person were to move around or the stomach were to growl, the device would not move from its preferred orientation.”

After its injection into the stomach wall, the microneedle tip dissolves, and insulin enters the bloodstream. In the current study, this took roughly an hour, but the researchers can control the rate to some extent through the way in which they prepare the microneedle.

So far, the researchers have shown that they can deliver doses of up to 5 milligrams using this system.

The capsule itself passes through the digestive system without causing any side effects.

Further work on the capsule system is ongoing. The team is hopeful that this new design could spell the end for a host of drugs that it is currently only possible to deliver by injection.

Our motivation is to make it easier for patients to take medication, particularly medications that require an injection. The classic one is insulin, but there are many others.”

Giovanni Traverso

Medical News Today: Could this chemical help explain anxiety?

A recent study on anxiety examined the role of glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter. The findings could help scientists develop more effective interventions.
Anxious young woman
A new study digs into the neuroscience of anxiety.

Almost everybody experiences anxiety in one of its forms.

Over time, evolution honed anxiety as a survival mechanism; it forms part of our “fight-or-flight” response.

The heart pumps a little faster, and there might be a sensation of nausea as the body prepares for action.

Although anxiety is a natural response, it can spiral out of control for some people.

Rather than being a protective force that helps us navigate everyday life, it becomes a burden that impacts well-being. Also, being more prone to anxiety increases the risk of developing an anxiety disorder and depression.

Beyond mental health, anxiety might also have physical effects; the authors of the new study write that sustained high levels of anxiety “may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America say that anxiety disorders impact almost 1 in 5 adults in the United States each year.

Anxiety disorders are as common as depression, but until relatively recently, they received much less attention.

Because of its growing prevalence, the neurological mechanisms that are involved are receiving increased attention. The latest study, which now appears in The Journal of Neuroscience, investigates the role of glutamate in the hippocampus.

What is glutamate?

Glutamate is an amino acid and the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. In recent years, studies have hinted that glutamate might be involved in anxiety.

Reductions in glutamate activity seem to increase anxious behavior, and glutamate levels within the hippocampus — which is the part of the brain primarily involved in regulating emotions and memory — seem particularly important.

Earlier studies have also concluded that two other regions of the brain work with the hippocampus to modulate anxiety; called area 25 and area 32, these regions form part of the prefrontal cortex.

However, our understanding of glutamate’s role in anxiety is not fully formed — other studies have produced conflicting results.

As an example, a study using nonanxious rats found that a reduction of activity at some glutamate receptor subtypes in the hippocampus actually reduced levels of anxiety.

The authors of the latest study wanted to examine the role of glutamate in anxiety in more detail. To get a clearer picture, they ran a series of experiments on marmosets.

Glutamate and anxiety in primates

First, the team tested each marmoset’s anxiety levels when introduced to an unfamiliar human (one of their handlers wearing a mask). As expected, the animals with the greatest levels of anxiety — or high-trait anxiety — had significantly lower levels of glutamate in their hippocampus.

High-trait anxiety correlated with glutamate levels in the right anterior hippocampus.

Next, they artificially increased the level of glutamate in the highly anxious marmosets. They found that once glutamate levels reached normal levels, the animals responded less anxiously in psychological tests.

This second arm of the experimentation gave the researchers evidence of a causal relationship: Anxious primates naturally had lower levels of glutamate activity, and when glutamate was increased in the anxious primates’ hippocampi, anxiety was reduced.

To gain more information about the role of brain areas 25 and 32, the team carried out further experiments.

Blocking activity in these regions, they found that the anti-anxiety effects of increasing glutamate were abolished when area 25 was out of action. Blocking area 32, however, did not make a difference.

The study authors suggest that the hippocampal-area 25 pathway could be an interesting target for future pharmaceutical interventions. Overall, the authors outline their conclusions:

These findings provide casual evidence in primates that hippocampal glutamatergic hypofunction regulates endogenous high-trait anxiety, and the hippocampal-area 25 circuit is a potential therapeutic target.”

Though scientists are still unpicking glutamate’s role in anxiety, studies such as this bring us closer to having a full understanding.

Medical News Today: What are the symptoms of an iron deficiency?

Iron deficiency is when there is not enough iron in the blood. It can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness, among many others.

Iron is a mineral that is vital for many bodily functions. It supports the transportation of oxygen in the blood. It is also essential for the correct development and functioning of cells, and the production of some hormones and tissues.

If a person’s iron levels fall too low, it can disrupt these functions and may lead to iron-deficiency anemia. In most cases, this condition is easily treatable.

This article will discuss the symptoms of iron deficiency, as well as when to see a doctor.

Symptoms

Tired fatigue and sad or stressed woman sitting on edge of bed.
Iron-deficiency anemia can cause fatigue and dizziness.

The symptoms of an iron deficiency vary, depending on its severity, as well as a person’s overall health.

For a mild or moderate iron deficiency, a person may not experience any noticeable symptoms.

Sometimes, a lack of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. This is when the body does not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood.

Iron-deficiency anemia can cause symptoms that include:

  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • sensitivity to temperature
  • cold hands and feet
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • difficulty concentrating
  • heart palpitations
  • restless leg syndrome
  • cravings for nonfood items, such as ice or dirt

There are also several physical signs of an iron deficiency to look out for, such as:

  • brittle nails
  • cracks at the sides of the mouth
  • hair loss
  • inflammation of the tongue
  • abnormally pale or yellow skin
  • irregular heartbeat or breathing

Causes

Cooked baked beans in dish on wooden table
Beans are a healthful plant-based source of iron.

Iron deficiencies occur when an insufficient amount of iron is present in the blood.

There are several potential causes for a lack of iron, including the following:

Diet

Iron is in many different types of foods, including fish, fortified cereals, beans, meat, and leafy green vegetables.

The National Institutes of Health recommend that male adults get 8 milligrams (mg) of iron per day and that female adults get 18 mg per day before 50 years of age and 8 mg after that age.

Iron malabsorption

Some medical conditions and medications may prevent the body from absorbing iron properly, even when a person is eating plenty of iron-rich foods.

Conditions that can cause problems with iron absorption include:

  • intestinal and digestive conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease
  • gastrointestinal surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery
  • rare genetic mutations

Blood loss

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells. It contains most of the body’s iron. For this reason, blood loss can result in iron deficiencies and anemia.

Blood loss can be a result of injury, or too frequent blood tests or donations. But it can also occur with certain conditions or medications, including:

  • internal bleeding from ulcers or colon cancer
  • regular use of aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • heavy menstrual periods
  • urinary tract bleeding
  • rare genetic conditions
  • surgery

Other conditions

Other conditions that may cause iron deficiency include:

Iron is particularly important during periods of growth. For this reason, children and pregnant women have a higher risk of developing iron deficiency and anemia than others.

Diagnosis

A doctor may initially perform a physical examination when diagnosing iron deficiency.

They will also ask about a person’s symptoms and any risk factors, such as heavy menstrual bleeding or an underlying medical condition.

If a doctor suspects an iron deficiency, they will usually order a blood test.

The results of these tests can provide information such as the total amount of red blood cells and iron content in the blood.

If the doctor suspects internal bleeding, further tests may be necessary. These could include:

  • a fecal blood test
  • an endoscopy
  • a colonoscopy

Treatment

A doctor may prescribe iron pills to treat iron deficiency.
A doctor may prescribe iron pills to treat iron deficiency.

The exact treatment for an iron deficiency will depend on the cause and severity of the condition.

In most cases, a doctor will prescribe iron pills. These are medicinal supplements that have more iron than over-the-counter multivitamin supplements.

In cases where iron malabsorption is an issue, it is possible to deliver iron intravenously. This is also an option in other cases, such as in cases of significant blood loss. In the most severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

If internal bleeding is a cause of the deficiency, it may require surgery.

A doctor may also suggest dietary changes to include more iron-rich foods. Learn about a variety of iron-rich foods in this article.

When to see a doctor

Anyone experiencing symptoms of an iron deficiency should speak to a doctor. The doctor can provide a simple blood test to get quick answers.

If a person’s iron levels are normal, there may be another problem causing their symptoms. It is best to work with a doctor to get a definitive diagnosis.

Restoring iron levels to normal can occur within 1 or 2 months of treatment. A doctor may recommend taking iron pills for longer to help create an iron “store.” In severe cases, however, more intensive treatments may be necessary.

Summary

An iron deficiency can cause many symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, and cold hands and feet.

A doctor can usually diagnose an iron deficiency using a simple blood test. Treatment may involve taking prescription iron supplements for several months.

In cases where an underlying medical condition causes the deficiency, a person may require more extensive treatment.

Medical News Today: What can we see with an abdominal ultrasound?

Abdominal ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of structures and blood flow in the abdomen. These ultrasound images are a useful way of examining organs, tissues, blood vessels, and other structures within the abdomen.

Ultrasound imaging involves sending high-frequency sound waves into the body. These waves reflect off of organs and other structures inside the body. A receiver then picks up these response signals.

It is possible to create images by analyzing the data that these signals create.

The abdomen contains many important body parts that often require monitoring. Ultrasound imaging is important for helping doctors identify problems in the abdomen, such as appendicitis or kidney stones.

Purpose

Man having abdominal ultrasound
A doctor may recommend an abdominal ultrasound to diagnose the cause of abdominal pain.

There are several major organs in the abdomen. Using an abdominal ultrasound, it is possible to create images of these organs. This can help identify abdominal problems that may be causing symptoms.

Major organs in the abdomen include the:

  • appendix
  • large and small intestine
  • stomach
  • gallbladder
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • bladder
  • spleen

As well as the organs, it is possible to use ultrasound to image other important structures in the abdomen, such as tissues, blood vessels, and abnormal growths.

For example, a doctor may wish to inspect the abdominal aorta, which carries blood between the heart and abdominal organs.

In some cases, it may be necessary to use a Doppler ultrasound. This type of ultrasound can detect changes in blood flow through the abdomen.

Because the abdomen contains many important body parts, several problems can occur there. Such problems could range from inflammation to abnormal hormonal responses, and they can sometimes indicate the presence of another condition.

A doctor may use an ultrasound to diagnose conditions such as:

Procedure

Technician putting gel on ultrasound scanner
A technician will place gel on the abdomen before an ultrasound.

An ultrasound scan will usually require little preparation.

The exact preparation details will vary depending on the nature of the problem and the doctor.

A doctor may advise against eating or drinking for up to several hours before the scan.

To perform an abdominal ultrasound, a person lies flat on their back on an examination table.

The procedure involves the use of a transducer. This is a wand-like device that sends high-frequency sound waves into the body and picks up the responding signal.

Before they begin, the doctor will apply a gel to the abdominal skin. This helps sound waves pass through the abdomen more efficiently by removing small pockets of air that may interfere. The gel is water-based and easy to clean off after the procedure.

The doctor will then place the transducer on the abdomen. They will move the device around the area to create a better image of the abdomen. The transducer may press lightly on the abdomen, but the procedure should not feel uncomfortable.

Certain types of ultrasound can create sounds during the procedure. For example, a Doppler ultrasound will emit clicking sounds in response to any changes in blood flow.

This process will continue until the ultrasound image contains a sufficient amount of detail for its intended purpose. It is possible to display the ultrasound image immediately and to take photographs for future examination.

After completing the ultrasound, the doctor will clean any remaining gel from the abdominal skin.

The procedure should take 30–45 minutes to complete.

The doctor will typically send the ultrasound images to a radiologist for analysis. Radiologists are specialists who can analyze images from X-rays and ultrasound tests. They will send the results of their analysis back to the doctor, who can use them to make a diagnosis.

Risks

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultrasound imaging has “an excellent safety record.” The procedure is highly unlikely to cause any negative effects or complications.

Ultrasound imaging is much safer than other types of medical imaging procedures, such as CT scans or X-rays.

This is because CT scans and X-rays use ionizing radiation. In some cases, this can have an adverse effect on the body and cause reactions. Ultrasounds, however, do not use any radiation and do not pose these risks.

Ultrasounds may have some minor effects on the body, though, such as raising the temperature of surrounding tissues.

The FDA also warn that the long-term effects of ultrasound imaging are currently unknown. While the procedure is safe, women who are pregnant should limit the number of ultrasound scans they undergo as a precaution.

Takeaway

Abdominal ultrasounds are safe procedures. The risk of any complications or adverse effects is very low in comparison with other types of medical imaging.

The method offers a quick way to examine structures within the abdomen that can aid the diagnosis or monitoring of health conditions.

Medical News Today: What foods are off limits while pregnant?

Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in the body, and pregnant women should consider adjusting their eating habits to adapt to these changes. Diet is one of the most important factors that can affect a pregnant woman’s overall health and the health of her child. Important foods to avoid include raw shellfish and undercooked eggs.

Eating a healthful diet is essential during pregnancy, but there are some foods that pregnant women should avoid altogether. Many people understand the risks of eating high-mercury fish or raw meats, but there are also other foods that many people would not expect to cause potential issues during pregnancy.

Pregnancy affects the immune system, which may make some women more susceptible to infection. Many foods carry bacteria or other infectious germs that may cause problems during pregnancy. Even in cases where the pregnant woman does not feel sick, some of these germs may still affect the fetus.

Fish

White fish steaks with greens, sprouts and beans on plate
Fish can have a high mercury content, which is unsafe for the fetus.

Though many people see fish as a good, clean source of protein and nutrients, such as fatty acids, the type of fish a pregnant person eats is very important.

Some fish tend to be high in mercury, which is very toxic and cause problems for both the pregnant parent and the fetus.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (USDHHS), pregnant women should avoid the following fish:

  • big eye tuna
  • marlin
  • swordfish
  • king mackerel
  • shark
  • orange roughy
  • Gulf of Mexico tilefish

They also recommend avoiding all raw or undercooked fish, such as from sushi or sashimi. Uncooked fish may contain parasites or harmful bacteria. Cook all fish to 145℉.

However, many fish are still safe to eat while pregnant. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) note, some fish contain lower levels of mercury, including:

  • anchovies
  • sardines
  • herring
  • catfish
  • flounder
  • salmon
  • canned light tuna
  • tilapia

These fish choices can help provide helpful nutrients, and the FDA recommend eating two to three servings of these fish each week.

Alcohol

Though some people may think they can drink small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy, there is no safe level for alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that any alcohol in the woman’s blood passes to the fetus through the umbilical cord. This may cause a range of physical or mental developmental issues.

Most doctors will advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol.

Raw shellfish

While pregnant, it is best to avoid all raw seafood, especially raw shellfish. The USDHHS food safety website notes that raw shellfish, such as oysters, crab, and clams, may be a potential source of Vibrio bacteria, which can cause cholera and other infections. Cook all shellfish to 145 °F.

These infections may cause loss of water and electrolytes in the body, which can be severe and potentially fatal. They may also cause a change in the immune system that puts the child’s health at risk.

A study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases reports that there is a link between abnormal changes in the immune system during pregnancy and other issues, such as poor fetal growth, preterm birth, and preeclampsia.

Deli meats or other cured or undercooked meats

Deli meats and soft cheeses are not safe to eat during pregnancy.
Deli meats and soft cheeses are not safe to eat during pregnancy.

Some types of meat could harbor the potentially dangerous Listeria bacteria.

According to the CDC, Listeria infections may be particularly dangerous for pregnant women and newborns. Listeria can also lead to miscarriage.

To avoid contracting Listeria, cook all meat to 165℉ before eating it. This includes all meats that a person would normally eat cold, such as sliced meats from a deli.

This may be more difficult for cured meats, such as Serrano ham, pepperoni, or pancetta, so it may be best to avoid these meats.

Raw or undercooked greens and sprouts

Greens and sprouts are generally great foods to add to the diet as they contain large amounts of fiber and nutrients. However, some greens or sprouts may contain bacteria, such as Salmonella or E. coli, which can cause infection.

A study in the Clinical Microbiology and Infection notes that bacterial infections of the blood, of which E. coli infections are among the most common types, are potentially fatal during pregnancy. It is essential to avoid E. coli while pregnant.

The CDC note that E. coli infections are hard to pin down because they can derive from many different sources.

An E. coli infection can cause a variety of problems, including food poisoning, urinary tract infections, and respiratory illness.

About 20 percent of E. coli infections are due to contaminated foods, which may include greens and sprouts.

Avoid raw or undercooked sprouts, such as:

  • mung beans
  • alfalfa
  • clover
  • radish

Always use fresh, new sprouts and cook them thoroughly before eating them.

The USDHHS also warn against eating salads made in a store deli. Be wary if the salad contains ingredients that may carry bacteria, such as ham, chicken, or seafood.

Raw or undercooked eggs

Eggs are a simple source of protein and nutrients, but undercooked or raw eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria. The CDC note that a Salmonella infection typically lasts about a week, though it may be more serious in people with compromised immune systems and very young children.

Pregnant women can prevent infection by avoiding sources of raw or undercooked eggs, such as:

  • poached or fried eggs with a runny yolk
  • lightly scrambled eggs
  • salad dressings that contain egg, such as Caesar dressing
  • tiramisu
  • eggnog
  • artisan or homemade ice cream
  • cake batter
  • cookie dough
  • hollandaise sauce
  • casseroles and other products containing eggs

When buying eggs, choose pasteurized eggs. The pasteurization process kills all bacteria in the egg, reducing the risk of infection. Always check the labels of store-bought products containing egg to check for pasteurization. Cook all eggs and products that contain eggs to 160 ℉.

Soft cheese

Many kinds of cheese contain helpful bacteria, but some contain harmful bacteria as well.

The USDHHS recommend that pregnant women avoid soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as:

  • feta
  • Gorgonzola
  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Roquefort
  • queso fresco

Soft cheese may contain harmful bacteria, such as Listeria or E. coli. It is safer to eat hard varieties, such as Swiss or Cheddar cheese. Pasteurized cheese is an even better choice, so check the label to ensure the cheese is made from pasteurized milk.

Caffeine

Barista pouring caffeinated coffee into mug in cafe
Drinking high amounts of caffeine may increase the risk of pregnancy loss.

While some people can enjoy a small amount of caffeine during pregnancy, doctors often recommend that pregnant women avoid it completely because caffeine can pass to the fetus.

A fetus is unable to break down caffeine, which can cause problems.

As a 2016 study in Public Health Nutrition notes, pregnant women who consume higher levels of caffeine may run the risk of pregnancy loss, though the research is still inconclusive.

Unpasteurized milk or fruit juices

The USDHHS advise pregnant women to avoid both unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized fruit juice.

Unpasteurized milk may contain E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella.

These bacteria can cause severe infections in pregnant women, especially if their immune system is already stressed. Always drink pasteurized milk and check the labels of any milk-containing foods to confirm this.

Unpasteurized juice or cider may be a source of E. coli. Avoid raw fruit juices or cider, including fresh squeezed juices, such as orange or apple juice. Boil any unpasteurized juice or cider for at least 1 minute to eliminate bacteria before letting it cool and drinking.

Takeaway

Though there are some restrictions to the diet while pregnant, these restrictions help to ensure the health of both woman and child.

As pregnancy causes many changes in the body, doctors may recommend individual dietary options.

By working with a doctor or nutritionist, most people can find a diet plan that helps them avoid problematic foods during pregnancy.

Medical News Today: Humans can learn new foreign words while asleep

Recent research reveals for the first time that people can learn new information while they are asleep.
woman asleep with book
Learning can also occur during sleep, new research shows.

Scientists already know that sleep consolidates learning of new information that we acquire during wakefulness.

Now, researchers at the University of Bern in Switzerland suggest that learning can also take place during deep, or slow-wave sleep.

In a study that features in the journal Current Biology, they show how associations with new foreign words can occur at certain phases of slow-wave sleep.

Much sleep research concerns the processes that stabilize and consolidate memories that form during periods of wakefulness.

There is now considerable evidence that replay during sleep strengthens memories and embeds them in the previously acquired knowledge store in the brain.

The study authors note that many deem it impossible that learning can take place during sleep because “sleep lacks the conscious awareness” and the necessary brain chemistry and activity.

In addition, studies that have examined sleep learning in humans have yielded conflicting results.

Learning during daytime naps

The researchers were intrigued by the question: If the sleep state strengthens a “memory trace” that forms during wakefulness, then why can’t the sleep state itself form a memory trace that endures into wakefulness?

Using electroencephalograms (EEGs), they recorded brainwave activity in 41 healthy male and female volunteers as they took a daytime nap and while they underwent subsequent memory tests.

During the nap, the volunteers also wore in-ear headphones through which the researchers played recordings of numerous verbal word pairs.

They devised each word pair so that one word was a familiar, native-language word while the other was a made-up “pseudoword.”

For example, they paired the word “house” with the pseudoword “tofer.” In another pair, the familiar word was “cork,” and the pseudoword was “aryl.”

After the nap, the volunteers underwent a test of their “sleep-formed associations.”

The test presented them with random samples of the pseudowords. At each presentation, they had to say whether the object the word described could fit inside a shoebox or not.

The results showed that the size classification of the pseudowords was better than chance if the “acoustic presentation of the second word of a pair during sleep repeatedly hit an ongoing slow-wave peak.”

Timing of encoding is key

Slow-wave, or deep sleep is the most beneficial stage for consolidating memories that form in the period of wakefulness that precedes it.

As the brain enters slow-wave sleep, its cells gradually synchronize their activity. They fall into a pattern that alternates every 0.5 seconds between brief periods of universal activity and inactivity. Periods of activity appear as peaks on EEGs.

The researchers found that the volunteers only encoded the association between a sleep-played, familiar, native-language word and its pseudoword under two conditions.

The first condition was repetition of the word pair, and the second condition was that the acoustic presentation of the second word had to coincide with an active phase of slow-wave sleep.

In other words, the volunteers were better able to correctly classify “tofer” as being too large to fit into a shoebox if they had heard the word pair “house-tofer” several times, and the second word had occurred while their brain cells were in an active phase of slow-wave sleep.

Co-first study author Marc Züst, Ph.D., says that they also observed that retrieval of sleep-learned words during the test coincided with activity in the hippocampus and language areas of the brain. The hippocampus plays a key role in memory and learning.

These are the same brain areas that are active when learning occurs during wakefulness.

These brain structures appear to mediate memory formation independently of the prevailing state of consciousness — unconscious during deep sleep, conscious during wakefulness.”

Marc Züst, Ph.D.