Can a Mediterranean diet help you live longer? Should night owls be going to sleep earlier? The top health tips from this week's headlines.

A set table with healthy foods
Among this week's health headlines: Eating a Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce women's mortality risk, according to new research. (Getty Images)

Hello, health and wellness enthusiasts. I’m Natalie Rahhal, your guest guide to this week’s health headlines and what they might mean for you. Read on to learn how to incorporate some good-for-you habits into your day-to-day life (and maybe cut a few things out).

Here’s what our team learned this week:

  • Another dairy farm worker has been infected with bird flu; that marks the third this year and only the fourth ever in the United States. Health officials still say the risk to the average person is low, but the government is preparing in case things get worse. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep your distance from wild birds and livestock, and definitely don’t drink raw milk.

  • Guess what else is coming to the States this summer? Trillions of cicadas. If that doesn’t freak you out, you might try eating one — so long as you read health editor Rachel Grumman Bender’s guide to consuming them safely first.

  • A new study finds that young people are drinking less alcohol compared to older generations, Korin Miller reports. Experts have some ideas about why, and suggestions about what the rest of us can learn from the kids these days when it comes to cutting back on booze.

  • Is it time to invest in a shower head filter? TikTokers claim it’s the secret to avoiding skin and hair problems caused by hard water and chlorine in your water supply. Here’s what experts told reporter Kerry Justich about the trend.

  • Want some reasons to feel hopeful about the future? Us too, and we've got them. Columnist Marcia Kester Doyle spoke to older brides about what makes later-in-life relationships work, and why it’s never too late for love. And I convinced three experts on aging to tell me their secrets to living a good life for longer.

  • Headed to the beach? More than just fun, it's also good for your mental health, freelancer Amelia Edelman writes, especially if you implement these expert-approved tips.

Here are more suggestions for improving your well-being this week:

Many doctors agree that the Mediterranean diet is among the healthiest. It’s been linked to lower risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and high blood pressure, as well as certain types of cancers. Now a new study which tracked women over a 25-year period found that those who more closely followed the diet were 23% less likely to die of any cause. The researchers also found that the diet, plant-based and rich in healthy fats) helped reduce inflammation and insulin resistance while improving metabolism.

There’s still a lot of mystery around the fundamentals of sleep — why we need it, how much we need and how to get it. And some studies suggest that you shouldn’t fight your natural inclinations about when to sleep. But the latest research finds that everyone’s mental health is better when they go to bed early — even people who consider themselves night owls. Those who stayed up late had higher rates of mental and behavioral disorders.

It’s tempting to try to bond with colleagues by venting about work stress and how busy you are. But trust us, your co-workers really don’t want to hear about it, according to a new report published in the journal Personnel Psychology. Not only did so-called stress bragging turn co-workers off, the stress was contagious, leading to higher levels of burnout. So let’s try a different icebreaker, shall we?

Many experts (and parents) consider smartphones a leading suspect in the rising rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers. But the devices may not be all bad, new research suggests. Teens’ moods were slightly better, on average, while they were using their phones, according to the study of 253 adolescents between ages 12 and 17. Results from a second study suggest that smartphone use doesn’t cause depression to worsen over time in young adults (although those who were depressed tended to use social media more, and vice versa).

Nearly 2.5% of kids in the U.S. are allergic to peanuts, and rates have risen by at least 21% since 2010, according to a national data published in 2017. But new research suggests that giving a child peanut butter early on might help avoid allergy issues. The National Institutes of Health study found that 71% fewer children developed peanut allergies if they were fed products made from the nut between infancy and age 5, compared to kids who avoided peanuts. Of course, it’s always best to consult with your child’s pediatrician first.