From endometriosis symptoms to supplements recommended to pregnant women — the Healthnews team looked at searches that have trended in 2022.
Google receives more than 1 billion health-related questions every day. While some are suffering from cyberchondria, a repeated search for medical information online that results in excessive concerns about health, others find helpful tips to improve their lives.
Supplements for pregnant women
Insufficient vitamin intake during pregnancy increases the risk of complications and infant health problems. No wonder there were thousands of searches for prenatal supplements in 2022.
While pregnant women should follow their doctor's advice, a 2022 study on supplements published in the journal Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology offers general recommendations.
According to research, prenatal supplements should contain 1200 mcg of pre-formed vitamin A, such as retinol, and 1000 mcg of mixed carotenoids, such as alpha and beta-carotene or lutein. Taking mixed carotenoids alone is insufficient to maintain normal vitamin A levels.
When it comes to vitamin C, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 85 mg/day for pregnant women, while the tolerable upper limit is 2000 mg/day.
Most women in the U.S. lack vitamin D, which decreases substantially at the start of pregnancy if not supplemented. The recommended RDA of vitamin D is 600 IU/day for pregnant women, with the tolerable upper limit of 4000 IU/day. The study notes that women receive about 26% of their vitamin D from their diets.
Lat pulldowns to strengthen the back
As 52% of Americans plan to exercise more next year, searches for lateral pulldown may increase even further. This exercise activates and strengthens the upper back, shoulder girdle, arm, and forearm muscles.
Lat pulldown can be performed with many types of equipment, including resistance machines, adjustable cable columns, and elastic resistance equipment, such as bands or tubing.
The exercise is typically performed seated and facing toward the machine. A long bar attached to the cable is pulled towards the chest while trying to put shoulder blades together. After a short pause at the bottom of the move, arms are slowly extended to starting position. About 10-15 repetitions are recommended.
More evidence of the benefits of a vegan diet
This year people continued searching for information about a vegan diet. About 2% of Americans follow this diet based on plants, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts.
A 2022 analysis of 11 observational studies found that a vegan diet might be beneficial for weight loss, as it is associated with a reduced calorie intake. Moreover, there is weak evidence that the diet may lower the risk of mortality and cancer but increase the risk of fractures.
While a vegan diet improves levels of LDL-cholesterol, fasting glucose, and HbA1c in people with diabetes or at high cardiovascular disease risk, it may have adverse effects on HDL-cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Many internet users searched for the symptoms of endometriosis, a condition affecting more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain, including very painful menstrual cramps, chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis, as well as pain during or after sex. Women with the condition may also experience intestinal pain or painful bowel movements.
Other symptoms are bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, infertility, and digestive problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea.
Reducing levels of cortisol
Among the stress-related searches, people were looking for information about cortisol, a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is often called a "stress hormone" because one of its many functions is to regulate the body's stress response. It helps to stay alert and triggers the release of glucose for fast energy.
When chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high for long periods, it can cause inflammation and lead to physical and mental health problems.
The signs of higher-than-normal cortisol levels may include weight gain, fatty deposits between your shoulder blades, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, excessive hair growth in females, and muscle weakness in your upper arms and thighs.
Levels of cortisol may be lowered by getting quality sleep, exercising regularly, learning to limit stress, practicing deep breathing exercises, and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology. Evidence based recommendations for an optimal prenatal supplement for women in the US: vitamins and related nutrients.
- ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. The Lat Pulldown.
- Taylor and Francis Online. Evidence of a vegan diet for health benefits and risks – an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational and clinical studies.
- Office on Women’s Health. Endometriosis.
- Cleveland Clinic. Cortisol.
- Cleveland Clinic. How to Reduce Cortisol and Turn Down the Dial on Stress.
- UVA Health. Googling Your Symptoms? You May Have Cyberchondria.