What Makes You Tick: Pest Causes Allergy to Red Meats

By Marisa Ross

Attention, carnivores: If you like chowing down on a nice T-bone steak or juicy hamburger, you might want to take some precautions the next time you dine near a woody area.

A recent incline in cases of lone star tick bites is causing concern for red meat lovers everywhere. The tick, which causes the rare allergy to meats like beef, lamb, goat and bison, was first discovered a few years ago, but there have been more reported allergies in the past few months, especially in the southeastern region of the U.S., including Florida.

So, if you’re planning on cozying up to a campfire as the temperatures drop this holiday season, learn some safety precautions about this critter and how to protect yourself from it.

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Image Courtesy of AFPMB

What is a lone star tick?

Named for the white spot on adult females’ backs and for its initial appearance in Texas, this tick is as small as a newspaper print “o” but can swell to a “0” when it feeds on blood, according to a UF entomologist.

How can it cause a red meat allergy?

These ticks contain a sugar called alpha-gal, which is also found in red meat. Humans do not produce this sugar. When the lone star tick bites them, the sugar is seen as a foreign contaminant, so the body’s immune system creates antibodies to fight it off. Therefore, it is difficult for future consumption of red meat. Researchers aren’t sure if the long-term effects are permanent, but they have linked these tick bites with mild to severe allergies.

What are the symptoms?

Reported symptoms range from mild redness and itchiness to hives and anaphylactic shock. Some people may even experience a reaction from proximity to smoke on a grill used for red meat. Other side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in blood pressure and trouble breathing. Ultimately, consumption of red meat with this tick-induced allergy can be fatal.

How can you protect yourself?

If you can’t avoid brush areas, make sure to wear clothing with full coverage. Spraying anything you plan to wear in wooded areas with permethrin, a type of insecticide available online and at pharmacies, will likely protect you against the pest. Besides wearing effective bug spray and layers, be aware of ticks when hiking, fishing or enjoying outdoor activities.

Baring It All: A Year in Review

By Rachel Kurland

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Image Courtesy of bdhq

This year’s trendsetting color: nude.

Some of pop culture’s favorite celebrities have bared it all — Jennifer Lawrence, Keira Knightley, Kim Kardashian. But why? They claim to do it for art or a societal statement, but a little research shows that it’s just for shameless self-promotion.

Some people, however, support their nakedness. The Guardian published an article encouraging the revealing breast movement:

“They’re making clear that their breasts, or lack thereof, are not public property — that our body parts are just that: one part of who we are and how we experience the world.”

But by posing for these photos and publishing them, they are in fact making their bodies public property — quite the opposite of the point trying to be made.

In my opinion, these celebrities do it for the publicity more than anything else. The media frenzies created by these bare-breasted women gives them more attention, which leads to an ever-so-cleverly planned movie or fashion line debut at the same time as their stripped snapshot.

Let’s take a closer look. Although Lawrence said the leaking of her personal nude photos was a “sex crime,” she posed nearly nude on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Knightley approved her topless photo shoot only if the photographers agreed that they would not Photoshop or retouch her for the sake of positive body image. What she didn’t say was that her new film “The Imitation Game” is coming to theaters soon, giving her some media attention right before her big premiere.

Kardashian just wanted to go for it, assuming her selfie game wasn’t strong enough. But four years ago, The Daily Beast disclosed that the star said she’s “never taking (her) clothes off again, even if it’s for Vogue.” Kardashian added, “I don’t want people to be like, ‘All she’s good for is, you know, being naked.’” And now, well, there’s the Paper Magazine (NSFW) photo that “broke the Internet.”

They each have their own personal gains that go against what they unveil to the public — even contradicting their own statements about self-respect.

These women should learn to respect their bodies and themselves. Positive body image is great to support, and if these celebrities or any other females are proud to flaunt what their momma’s gave them, all the more power to them. But what’s the point if the only thing these photos do is give people a reason to point and stare, criticize and gossip? These women are idolized — some are wives, mothers or role models for others. Is this the example the public should follow? Is taking your clothes off for the world to see the only way to have self-confidence?

Advertisements showing support for breast cancer awareness or a healthy body image, for example, at least do something positive for the public unlike sharing naked photos on Twitter. If you are going to promote a cause, actually do it for the cause, not self-promotion. In a time where young adults idolize female figures, they deserve role models with a purpose.

Celebrities should admit their true intentions and personal gains for posing nude and stop pretending that they’re doing it for a “good cause.”

Admit it ladies!

7 Tips to Combat the Holiday Blues

By Noelia Trujillo

For many, this season is colorful — bright lights adorning homes, adorable ornaments beautifying Christmas trees, alluring wrapping paper blanketing presents and festive foods galore.

I got my personal fix of these annual luxuries this week while decorating my home and tree with family. But then the worry began trickling in: What gifts should I buy? How many? Will people like them? How can I afford everything when I’m practically broke? I couldn’t help but feel anxious and wish I didn’t have to fork up so much green in the coming months.

Courtesy of Will Montague

Courtesy of Will Montague

Turns out, I’m not alone. Simply searching “holiday stress” online will result in numerous articles listing facts about the holiday blues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Ronald Nathan, PhD, clinical professor at Albany Medical College in New York, told WebMD people tend to blame traffic, crowds and the pressure of consumption, but their biggest fault is in their unreasonable expectations.

What happened to ‘Tis the season to be jolly’? Instead of settling for seasonal blues this holiday season, try these seven tips to boost your mood:

Focus on physical health
It’s tempting to overindulge in holiday treats, especially when you’re stressed. Mayo Clinic suggests filling up on healthy snacks before holiday parties, getting lots of rest and doing physical exercise daily.

Sniff some citrus
Researchers found “citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.”

Disconnect from technology
Texts, emails, phone calls and more can send adrenaline pumping and elevate stress during your holiday preparations. Take a technology or social media fast to focus on personal encounters and connections with family and friends.

Get rid of expectations
The holidays won’t be perfect or feel the same as when you were a child. Enjoy what you can with those you have around you, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Seek the sunlight
When you’re feeling down, try to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine outdoors or near a window. It stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and can combat SAD.

Give back to others
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night.” While we stress about what gifts to buy or how to cook the perfect holiday meal, these individuals are living in shelters or on the street. Instead of worrying about our needs or wants, donate food, money, gifts or time to those in need.

Say I love you often
Seeing others light up at the sound of these sweet words is beautiful. There’s no better way to feel good than making others feel loved.