Bad for the Bone
The average American consumes more than 100 pounds of sugar a year. And that’s not just bad for our weight— it may also be bad for our bones. “Sugar causes inflammation in the joints, making arthritis and other conditions worse,” according to Victor Romano, MD, a board-certified orthopedics and sports medicine doctor. Sugary foods cause a spike in insulin, which starts a cascade of biochemical reactions that lead to inflammation. Research also shows that sugar depletes important minerals needed for proper muscle contraction and relaxation. If you suffer from joint and/or muscle aches, boost your intake of foods with anti-inflammatory properties, including omega-3-rich fish, chia, and flaxseed, as well as curcumin and turmeric, which have been found to assist in alleviating joint pain.
Hug it Out
A new study published in a recent issue of the journal PLOS One finds that hugs shield us from the harmful effects of a bad mood that comes from conflicts with others. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University say people who consider themselves huggers have better overall health and stronger relationships. They analyzed data of 404 men and women between the ages of 21 and 55. Participants, who were all in good health, were interviewed every night for two weeks about their interactions with others each day. The researchers found that people who received a hug on the same day they experienced a conflict with another person showed a smaller decrease in positive emotions, and a smaller increase in negative emotions, compared with those who were not hugged. In other words, being hugged at some point in the day may have prevented them from feeling more upset. In fact, hugs were shown to help reduce bad moods in participants through the following day, as well.
Let the (Sun) Light In
We know that sunlight has mood-boosting benefits. Studies also show that people with higher levels of vitamin D, called the “sunshine vitamin,” have a lower risk of disease. And now a new study published in the journal Microbiome revealed that the sun offers another perk: it can kill disease-causing bacteria. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oregon, set up 11 identical dollhouse-size rooms. Some of the rooms were exposed to daylight through regular glass, some rooms were exposed to ultraviolet light only, and other rooms were kept completely in the dark. The miniature rooms were then filled with dust to replicate an actual living environment and placed outside for 90 days, after which the rooms’ bacterial levels were tested. The rooms exposed to daylight had fewer germs than their darkened counterparts. In fact, the sunlit rooms had 50 percent less viable bacteria. However, researchers did not expect the UV rooms to perform as well as they did. In fact, the rooms exposed only to UV light fared even better than the naturally lit rooms, as they had the lowest bacteria levels of all. That said, researchers still do not know what the optimum level of light is — the perfect amount for killing germs, that is — but they hope further studies will yield this information so architects and builders can incorporate this information into future designs.
54% of dog owners would actually consider ending a relationship if they felt like their dog didn’t approve of their love interest. —rover.com
Zap Stress Fast
The holidays have come and gone, but the stress that comes with them is still around. Stress can make you sick—when you’re under stress your body produces adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones that can impair the ability to fight off disease. Follow these stress-relieving tips to help you go from OMG to Om in minutes.
- Get Moving: Release feel-good chemicals in your body with a quick walk around the block, or walk up a few flights of stairs. Even simple stretches like head rolls and shoulder shrugs will help relax your body.
- Breathe: Deep breathing counters stress by slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Sit upright, close your eyes and slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your breath start in your belly and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse and exhale through your mouth.
- Crank Up the Tunes: Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and decrease anxiety. If listening to chill tunes isn’t your thing, blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes — and sing at the top of your lungs!
Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States will develop Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050 it is estimated that nearly 14 million people will have it.
Should Muscle Mass be considered a vital sign?
It’s standard protocol for doctors to check a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and weight at the start of a visit. But is that enough to give them a true sense of a person’s overall health? A team of researchers is now making the case for muscle mass to be considered a vital sign for health-care practitioners to check. After reviewing 140 studies connecting muscle mass to various health outcomes and conditions, the researchers say that people with less muscle have worsened physical functioning, poorer quality of life, and an overall lower survival rate, particularly when dealing with chronic ailments. “Muscle mass should be looked at as a new vital sign,” argues Carla Prado, an associate professor at the University of Alberta and principal author of the paper published in the journal Annals of Medicine. “If health care professionals identify and treat low muscle mass, they can significantly improve their patients’ health outcomes. Among their findings, Prado points to research showing that breast cancer patients with greater muscle mass are 60 percent more likely to beat the deadly disease. Similarly, stronger patients in a hospital’s intensive care unit have a higher survival rate, require less time on a ventilator, and are more likely to be discharged sooner. Low muscle mass is also linked to a greater risk of complications during and after surgery.