Preliminary: Hide Your Household Food

Modern_kitchen_gnangarra

“Modern kitchen gnangarra” by Photographs by Gnangarra…commons.wikimedia.org. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 au via Wikimedia Commons

A new study suggests that a key to over eating and obesity is ease of accessibility to the food.  By not scattering food across the house and keeping junk food hidden, one can reduce risk of obesity.

Study Findings

  1. Quantity of Food Less Important Than Access: The study found that both obese participants and non-obese participants spent the same amount of money on food.  Among the main differences was the availability.  Obese participants were more likely to have food spread around their house, with snack foods more easily accessible.  The constant reminder of food may be the cause of over-eating.
  2. Fast Food: The study also found that obese people spend more money on fast food.  Alone, this may seem obvious, but in the context of the study, it isn’t necessarily the increased caloric intake from fast food, but rather the ease of availability.
  3. Inconclusive Causality: Whether over-eating causes change to environment or environment causes a change in eating habits is unclear, however the link still exists, and changing one might still change the other.

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Preliminary: Eat a Square Dark Chocolate Specifically in the Afternoon to Improve Alertness

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“Dark chocolate Blanxart” by John Loo – Flickr: Chocolate. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A new study published by the Journal NeuroRegulation has found that consumption of dark chocolate lowers the blood pressure, while simultaneously increasing the EEG activity in the brain.  This means that small amounts of high-cocoa dark chocolate can be used to fight the afternoon slump.

Benefits of Dark Chocolate

  1. Improved Alertness: This study is the first to conclude that dark chocolate has an effect on mid-day cognitive function.  When it is too late for coffee, yet not early enough to stop working, try eating dark chocolate to improve alertness.
  2. High in Anti-oxidants: When high in cocoa or cacao (raw cocoa), chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, the benefits of which YMMT has already reported on.
  3. Lower LDL Cholesterol: A result of flavonoids, the lowering of this type of cholesterol is key to cardiovascular health.
  4. Increased Blood Flow: Dark chocolate can help to pump blood from the arteries to the heart, greatly reducing risk of cardiovascular mortality.

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Improve Cognitive Function With the Mediterranean Diet

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“Mediterranee 02 EN” by O H 237 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine studied older populations in Spain.  Thise who dined on the “Mediterranean Diet” heavy in olive oil and nuts, saw greater retention of cognitive function into old age than those who ate more “western diets.”

Tenants of the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Olive Oil: Olive oil, as YMMT has already reported, is among the healthiest fats in which to cook food.  This study specifically focused on olive oil within the diet and its effect on cognitive function, however previous studies have shown the benefit of olive oil on cardiovascular health.
  2. Nuts and Legumes: Nuts are high in nutrients and calories, meaning they fill you up without dependence on carbohydrates.  We recommend eating a handful of nuts a day.
  3. Whole Grains: Whole grains not only forgo the massive sugar quantity of processed breads and pastas, they also ferment within the gut, improving the gut microbiota.
  4. Vegetables: Any diet high in veggies is good.  The mediterranean diet focuses on specific vegetables that give you the most nutrients.  See this list from Dr. Gourmet.
  5. Fish: Replacing red meats with fish has huge benefits.  Fish is leaner, high in protein, and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  However, always consider mercury content, and try not to eat fish every day.

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Fulfill Cravings with Healthy Alternatives

Our cravings are indications that our body desires a certain nutrient found within the substance we crave.  However, the psychological addiction to sugar causes us to seek out foods that are full of sugar and possess lower quantities of the nutrients we needs.

Nutritional Replacements for Common Cravings

  1. Chocolate: If you really want chocolate, switching exclusively to dark chocolate is a perfectly healthy choice, however if you are trying to eliminate sugar altogether, try raw nuts, seeds, or legumes. 
  2. Sugary Drinks or Soda: This one is easy.  Simply drink a glass of water and then reassess whether or not you actually want a soda.
  3. Oily Snacks: Odds are, you are craving calcium.  Instead, try to eat green veggies, such as Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens or Kale.  Cheese and Legumes are also high in Calcium.
  4. Breads: While whole grains are perfectly healthy, most of the time we crave sweeter breads, such as croissants.  Instead, satisfy this craving with foods that are high in protein, such as meats, fish, nuts, and legumes.  
  5. Salty Foods: This craving results in a lack of chloride, so try eating raw goat milk or fish, or simply replace the salt with unrefined sea or Himalayan salt.  

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Use a Dishwasher is Even Smarter

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“Dishwasher open for loading” by Carlos Paes – http://www.sxc.hu/photos/147434. Licensed under Copyrighted free use via Wikimedia Commons

A growing body of evidence refutes myths that hand washing dishes is both healthier and better for the environment.  In fact, hand washing dishes wastes more electricity and water, and is far less sterilizing that modern dish washers.

Why Use a Dishwasher?

  1. It Saves Water: Modern dishwashers use controlled bursts of super heated steam to blast dishes clean and heat sterilize their surfaces.  In order to use less water than an Energy Star Certified washing machine, you would have to run the tap for less than 2 minutes or use a stopped up sink to clean an entire load’s worth of dishes, posing issues regarding cleanliness.
  2. It is More Sterile: Modern dishwashers use water heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature than the human hand cannot possibly withstand.  On top of that, using one sink full of water in order to compete with the water-saving capabilities of a dishwasher is horrendously unclean, contaminating the dishes as they are being cleaned.
  3. It Saves Energy: This point may seem counter intuitive, but using water also uses energy, especially if the water is hot.  Since most hand washers use water as hot as they can handle, they are eating up energy at a much higher rate than a dishwasher would.

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To Improve Health, Start with Small Changes

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“Steel ruler closeup” by Ejay – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

New research from the United Kingdom suggests that small, incremental changes in diet can have huge long term benefits.  Unless told otherwise by a physician, plan on starting small and working your way towards a fully healthy diet.

Why Are Small Changes Better?

  1. Easier To Achieve: Setting smaller goals, as opposed to overhauling an entire eating pattern all at once, leads to greater success rate.  It is far easier to stick with a diet that slowly weens you off the products you are programmed to crave than one that drastically changes your life all at once.
  2. Healthy Even in Increments: The study concludes that small changes have a big impact.  Researchers estimated that they could raise the average life expectancy of the UK by 8 months through small changes to diet.
  3. Less Environmental Impact: Another UK study has shown that small changes taking place on a large scale can greatly reduce the carbon footprint.   It is easier to get large scale responses out of small diet changes, and implementing diets that are lower in red meats can have huge impacts on the environment.  Currently, western diet accounts for huge drains on resources and massive outputs of greenhouse gases yearly.  If everyone even slightly reduced their consumption of red meats, a huge change in food production based greenhouse gases would occur.

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Improve your Health at Work

Lewis_Hine_Power_house_mechanic_working_on_steam_pump “Lewis Hine Power house mechanic working on steam pump” by Lewis Hine –  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A large study conducted in 2011 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who work 11 hours a day or more were 67% more likely to have a heart attack compared to those who worked a standard work day.  The reality for many people is that we have to work.  Here are some scientifically supported tips to make working better for you.

Things You Can Do at Work To Live Longer

  1. Try Working Only 7-8 Hours: It isn’t clear why, but it seems that limiting daily work lowers cardiac risk.  It could be that those more prone to work long hours have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and are naturally predisposed to both work more and die young.  However, it could be that the body simply gets worn out, and needs more time to recover than just the hours spent asleep.
  2. Avoid Sitting: As YMMT has already reported, sitting for long periods of time greatly increases overall mortality.  It is possible that working 11 hours a day or more simply increases the long period of stagnancy that can cause major health problems.
  3. Take Breaks: If you have to work long hours, or are merely health conscious, make sure you get up and walk around once every couple hours, outside if possible.  Even 2-minutes every hour of focused, fast paced walking can decrease overall mortality and counteract the long term effects of sitting.

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Wear a Suit to Think More Abstractly and Feel More Powerful

Dinner_Jackets,_1898. “Dinner Jackets, 1898.” by W. D. F. Vincent – The Cutter’s Practical Guide to Jacket Cutting and Making, Embracing Lounges, Reefers & Patrol Jackets, in all their Varieties, Also Including the Cutting and Making of Robes and Gowns, Being Part IX of The Cutter’s Practical Guide to the Cutting and Making of all Kinds of Garments. The John Williamson Company Ltd., 1898.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that wearing formal clothing increases the brain’s abstract thought.  This, in combination with other studies relating abstract thought to feelings of power, can lead to the wearer of a suit having greater feelings of power and self assuredness.

Recommendations on Power

  1. Dress Well: The study concludes that formal wear helps to focus the mind away from the little details that bog us down.  By dressing sharply, one will find oneself thinking more broadly about their lives and whatever task is at hand.
  2. Faking it Helps: This data goes hand in hand with an earlier concept that YMMT has already reported on: faking it can actually cause you to become it.
  3. Power Pose: While wearing your best, try to hold a pose of strength for two minutes.  This combination will help stimulate hormones that clear your head and deter stress.  This will increase your broad reasoning skills and give you a nudge in abstract thought.

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Choose White, Unprocessed Meat over Red Meat

 

Standing-rib-roast

 

“Standing-rib-roast” by Michael C. Berch. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

A new medical review conducted by the School of Pharmacy and Medical Science at the University of South Australia has found a direct link between the consumption of red and processed meat and type 2 diabetes.

Alternatives

  1. Ditch Cold Cuts: Cold cuts on sandwiches are heavily processed meats, generally separated and cured chemically.  These meats also contain high levels of sodium nitrates, which the study has linked directly to diabetes.
  2. Eat Fish or Chicken: Besides being leaner, these meats lack substances such as trimethylamine N-oxide, a naturally occurring chemical found to be a major factor in the development of diabetes.  Avoid meats such as pork and beef to avoid such chemicals.
  3. Avoid Snack Meats: Jerkies and other snack meats are some of the most highly processed meats on the planet.  Avoid at all costs.

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Replace One Sugary Drink Per Day With Water

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 “Soda jerk NYWTS” by Alan Fisher, World Telegram staff photographer – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3c13825

While Sugary drinks should be avoided in general, especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup, a new study has found that replacing one drink per day with water is all it takes to dramatically reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.

Study Findings

  1. 22% Increased Risk of Diabetes Per Serving: This increase can be mitigated by as much as 14% by replacing  by simply drinking water once a day instead.  Each drink replaced with water can further reduces risk.  Drinks include sodas, lemonades, sweetened tea and coffee, fruit juices, and sweetened waters.
  2. Do not Sweeten Coffee or Tea: While many people believe the taste to be unbearable without sugar, simply taking one’s coffee or tea either black or with only milk can greatly reduce the risk of diabetes.  Try going one week without sugar in your coffee or tea, and you will find that your tastes change with your behavior.
  3. Avoid Soft-Drinks: As YMMT has already reported, high-fructose corn-syrup should be avoided at all costs, and this study adds onto the mounting evidence against its consumption.  Furthermore, artificially sweetened soft drinks were found to be just as harmful, so “diet” sodas should be avoided as well.  

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Do Important Work Within 2 Hours of Waking

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“Sun rise at CuaLo” by Handyhuy – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

A study undertaken by the University of Negev and Columbia Business School has found that the mind fatigues similarly to the body, with different factors effecting how quickly the fatigue takes place.  By getting important tasks out of the way early in the morning, you can guarantee a mind unclouded by the little things that wear us down.

Suggestions to Avoid and Utilize Desicion Fatigue

  1. Make as Few Decisions As Possible Before Working:  Making small decisions and avoiding temptations add up and wear down the day’s supply of mental energy.  Try deciding what to eat for breakfast the night before or, like Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, come up with a way to avoid thinking about what to wear that day.
  2. Do Important Work in the Morning: Scientists found that 3 P.M. is the worst time to get work done.  Every hour leading up to that time is a slow decent into fatigue.  Get up and get to work on things you know need to get done, and things you know how to accomplish, before that fatigue can set in.
  3. Use Fatigue for Creative Endeavors: Other studies have found that creativity is bolstered by this very same fatigue that causes difficulty in getting work done.  Plan your mornings around tasks that you have already laid out, and afternoons and evenings around problem solving and brainstorming.

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Play Action Video Games to Increase Brain Function

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“Chicony Wireless Keyboard KBR0108″ by S. de Vries – User SdeVries on nl.wikipedia – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

While moderation is key due to physical risk factors, a new study published confirmed that playing action video games with regularity increases the amount of gray matter in the brain.  By making an effort to master an action game, you can significantly increase the function of key parts of your brain.

Study Findings

  1. Improved Insular Cortex Region: The study focused specifically on this region of the brain, which is associated with the “higher” cognitive functions such as focused attention on a task, motor control tasks, language processing, empathy, compassion, and speech articulation.
  2. Not Just Games: The repetitive, focus-oriented nature of action video games can be found in other activities such as artistic endeavors and sports.

Recommendations

  1. Moderation: Video games may be excellent for the brain, but they promote physical stagnation.  Sitting down for more than 2 hours a day can have serious detrimental health affects.
  2. Vary Tasks: Alternate playing video games with other activities that require intense focus and skill.

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Walk a Little Faster

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Photo Credit: listofsports.com

You Made Me Think has already reported the benefits of simply walking during the day.  A new study from the Annals of Internal Medicine have confirmed the finding previously reported on, but have added that increasing speed and duration by small increments can improve over all health beyond simply losing weight.

Walking Recommendations

  1. Any Walking Helps: The study found that in all participants, regardless of walking intensity, weight loss was achieved.  This standard intensity regiment fit the government’s guideline of 75 minutes of exercise a week.  One group did not walk but improved diet, and still saw improvement in waist circumference.
  2. More Benefits from Intense Walking: Another group walked faster and for longer duration (3.3 hours/week) and saw lower blood-glucose levels than any other group.  If you push yourself just a little harder, you will see more systemic improvement in health beyond simple weight loss.

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Avoid Micro-Exfoliating Beads

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Photo Credit: “Nurdles 01 gentlemanrook” by gentlemanrook – originally posted to Flickr as Plastic Pellets – “Nurdles”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Micro-Exfoliating beads help to open the pours of skin to allow for deeper cleansing and, theoretically, healthier skin.  However, these beads pose a serious waste problem.  They are too small to be filtered by water treatment facility and are ending up polluting oceans and lakes all over the world.  Reviews from Avkaplan Niva and the IVM Institute for Environmental Studies expose the extent to which these beads have inundated the environment in a short time.

Environmental Impact

  1. Inundation: A study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin tested water from the great lakes and found that, depending on proximity to cities, the water contained between 43,000 micro-plastic particles/km² and 466,000 particles/km², the latter representing a large percentage of water born particulate matter.
  2. Impact on Sea-Life: According to Niva, wild caught fish are found with 1 to 7 microplastic beads in their digestive system when examined.  Ingestion through mouths and gills has been observed in lab settings, posing serious risk to smaller fish.
  3. Chemical Impact: The many chemicals used in the production of plastics leak out into the water and into the animals that ingest them.  Furthermore, it is possible that the plastics act as vectors for absorbed chemicals already present in the water, aiding in their accumulation and fauna ingestion.  Plastics are helping to kill the ocean, and micro exfoliating beads are leading the charge.

Alternatives to Micro-Beads

If you want to exfoliate your skin while avoiding these plastics, these alternatives provide an environmentally conscious means of doing so:

  1. Honey: Honey is a natural exfoliate, but beyond that it acts as a humectant, which means it locks moisture onto the skin.  Honey also contains anti-bacterial properties which can keep pathogens detrimental to skin health away from the surface.
  2. Biodegradable “Beads:” Small objects such as rice, apricot seeds, and walnut shells can be mixed into other skin care to produce the same effects as the plastic beads.
  3. Konjac Sponge: If you want the rough, pour opening properties of microbeads, consider a Konjac Sponge.  Made from a root of the same name, this sponge will open pours and clean off dead skin.

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Being a Night-owl Increases Risk of Disease

Tyto_alba_-British_Wildlife_Centre,_Surrey,_England-8a_(1)

Photo Source: Wikipedia

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has found a link between staying up late and diseases such as diabetes and obesity.  A healthy, circadian sleeping schedule is recommended for maximum health.

Study Findings

  1. Evening Type Vs. Morning Type: The scientists categorized two types of “Chronotype,” that is “individual circadian preference in behavioral and biological rhythm relative to external light-dark cycle.”
  2. Associated Diseases: For men, staying up later is associated with Diabetes and Sarcopenia, the technical term for age related muscle loss.  In women, only metabolic syndrome was associated with staying up late.  However, these factors all become serious, men or women, as age increases.

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Eat an Apple and Drink Green Tea Daily

Red_Apple Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Eating apples and drinking green tea have long been associated with positive health through nutrients and anti-oxidants, however a new study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research has found the two foods to be especially beneficial in the long term prevention of heart attack and stroke.

Study Findings

  1. Key Compounds Break down VEGF: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the driving compound in the blood behind the formation of new blood vessel formation, the over abundance of which can lead to poor cardiovascular health.  Green tea and Apples contain specific polyphenols, which are found in all fruits and vegetables, that seem to specifically block VEGF.
  2. Cancer Prevention: VEGF is also responsible for a process known as angiogenesis, which directly boosts the growth of cancer cells.  By diminishing VEGF in the blood cell, you can greatly reduce the factors within your own body that promote the growth of tumors.

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Warning: Calcium Supplements Linked With Macular Degeneration

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology has found a link between increased doses of Calcium supplements with age-related macular degeneration.  If you take calcium supplements, especially if you are over 68, avoid taking more than 800 mg per day.

Supplement Recommendations

  1. Avoid Supplements: If possible, it is far healthier to avoid vitamin and mineral supplements in lieu if a proper diet.  Instead, focus on eating a variety of foods packed with all the vitamins and minerals you’ll need.  Please refer to our page on Powerhouse Vegetables and Proper Cooking Methods to retain the most nutrients.
  2. Restrict Dosage: If a doctor recommends them, or if you are unable to fulfill your nutritional needs through diet, than the optimal choice would be to restrict intake to the minimum.  In the case of calcium, this study found that 800 mg and over saw negative impact on health.

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Warning: Muscle Building Supplements Greatly Increase Risk of Testicular Cancer

SONY DSC

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

If you take muscle building supplements that contain creatine or androstenedione, you are 65% to 177%  more likely to develop testicular cancer.  It is recommended to avoid these products or cease using them if are already supplementing.  Researchers believe that the increased incidence of testicular cancer beginning in the 1970’s can be directly correlated to the increased consumption of these supplements.

Risk Factors

  1. Multiple Supplements: If you regularly use one of these supplements, you are 65% more likely to develop testicular cancer; if you use more than one these supplements, that number shoots up to 177% more likely.
  2. Long Term/Early Use: Men who began their supplement intake before the age of 25 are at increased risk, as are men who have taken a supplement for more than 3 years.

Suggestions for Mitigating Cancer Risk

  1. Avoid Supplements Entirely: Many alternatives exist that are proven to work as well, if not better than supplements intended to build muscle after a workout.  YMMT recommends chocolate milk, but even fast food has been shown to be just as effective.

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Wash New Clothing Before Wearing

 

LGwashingmachine

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A study conducted by Greenpeace found that 20 major clothing brands use highly toxic chemicals during their textile manufacturing process, and that those chemicals remain on the clothing once retailed.  It is important to mitigate chemical exposure buy first washing the new clothes regardless of whether or not it is specified on the garment.

Study Findings

  1. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE’s): NPE’s are highly toxic surfactants that find widespread use in industrial settings, with uses such as detergents, dust-control agents, and deicers.  Their use on an industrial scale leads to widespread human contact and serious environmental impact due to large-scale dumping.  NPE’s are highly toxic to aquatic life and can disrupt hormones in humans.
  2. Brands to Avoid: NPE’s were found in 63% of articles tested.  All of the brands included in the study had at least one garment that contained NPE’s.  Brands that were found to use NPE’s are Giorgio Armani, Benetton, BLAŽEK, C&A, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Spirit, GAP, G&M, Jack Jones, Levi’s, Mango, M&S, Meters bonwe, Only, Tommy Hilfiger, Vancl, and Vero Moda.
  3. Cancer Causing Chemicals: More toxic chemicals called Phthalates and amines, both linked with types of cancer, were found in these brands: Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara.   

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Warning: Statin Efficacy Deliberately Inflated

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  Photo Credit: Wikipedia

If you take cholesterol lowering statins, you may be at serious risk, according to a new article published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology. According to the article, Statin’s do indeed lower cholesterol in the blood, but do not lower risk of overall cardiovascular disease or mortality.

Statistical Issues

  1. Only Successful in 1% of Subjects: Pharmaceutical researchers presented that statins lower heart attack risk by 36%, when in reality, subjects taking a placebo had a 3% rate of heart attacks, while Lipitor users had a 1.9% rate of heart attacks, a difference of only 1.1%.
  2. Benefits Do Not Outweigh Rewards: The side effects of statins are severe, with many people gaining weight, losing energy, and showing decline in muscles.  However, the biggest risk is that users of statins may not be taking as many measures to prevent cholesterol related heart attacks as they would be if they weren’t taking the pill, greatly increasing their risk of heart disease while taking a pill that does nothing more than lower their quality of life.

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