In the News: Study Reveals Why Cutting Carbs is Hard, Laughing at Yourself May Improve Health, Diet Drinks May Cause Weight Gain

Study reveals why cutting carbs is so challenging. If you’ve ever tried to quit eating carbohydrates and found yourself in a cold sweat gawking at a chocolate chip cookie just days later, you are not alone. Researchers have devoted a lot of time and resources to finding out why cutting carbs is so universally difficult. While many people assume they lack willpower or discipline, it may be a bit more complicated than that. Insulin may play a role in regulating hormones, which is tied to obesity. When insulin is elevated, the body stops burning fat and starts burning carbs, and the more insulin you release, the more you will want to eat carbs. In order to avoid this trap, you need to avoid these types of foods along with social triggers, and plan ahead to make smarter choices. Wondering if your body is resistant to carbs? Take this quiz. (NYT)

Laughing at yourself can improve mental health. Have you ever noticed someone tripping on the street and laughing at themselves? On the opposite end, have you seen someone fall and try to act like nothing happened? As it turns out, of these two camps, those who are able to laugh at themselves may not only have a healthy outlook on life but also greater well-being overall. In a recent study, researchers found that laughing at yourself can improve your heart health, help you handle life’s obstacles better, manage pain more effectively, and surprisingly even boost your short-term memory. Feeling blue? Try these five at-home therapy hacks to boost your personality. (NBC)

Diet drinks have been linked to weight gain. While diet drinks often seem like ideal alternatives to sugary sodas, it turns out that they may not be any better. New research shows that people who regularly consume diet drinks have an increased BMI and a higher risk of developing heart disease. Belly fat in particular, seems to be linked to diet drinks, which is risky because a high waist circumference increases the odds of developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and other health problems. While it’s possible that those who drink diet soda are simply eating more sugary foods in addition to these beverages, scientists also believe that artificial sweeteners may be negatively impacting gut health as well. If you want to wean yourself off of diet drinks, try these infused waters instead. (INDEPENDENT)

What is Glioblastoma? A Closer Look at This Aggressive Form of Brain Cancer

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, brain tumor,

Yesterday Senator John McCain’s office announced that he has been diagnosed with a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma. The release went on to say that all portions of the tumor visible on imaging have been removed and that the senator and his family were reviewing the next steps. So what exactly is glioblastoma and what are the possible next steps?

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In the News: Best Time of Day to Exercise Revealed, Forest Bathing on the Rise, Speech May Show Signs of Mental Decline

Best time of day to exercise revealed. The age-old debate about optimal workout times has always been met with confusion. While many people swear that early morning workouts are the key to success, others cannot fathom waking up earlier than necessary to do any form of exercise. According to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, research shows that working out in the evening (HIIT in particular) may be the most beneficial. Scientists have found that strength and flexibility peak in the second half of the day, and that perceived exertion is at its lowest, allowing you to work harder and feel it less. In trying to find an explanation, experts point to the circadian rhythm, since it plays a role in these factors. Find out more about the best time of day to work out here. (CNN)

Forest bathing on the rise.  We’ve all heard about the importance of spending time in nature and breathing in the fresh air but it turns out this activity my have a deeper purpose. Known as “forest bathing”, retreating into nature has been found to not just boost mood but also improve immunity and overall wellbeing. While it may sound like water is involved, forest bathing translates to soaking in your surroundings, no bathing suit required. Unlike hiking or camping, this experience requires simply walking through forests, smelling, touching, listening, and watching the beauty around you. Also known as nature therapy, this practice can greatly reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and serve as a form of medicine. Ready to get outside? Make sure to follow these summer safety tips first. (NPR)

Speech may reveal signs of mental decline. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that the way we speak may reveal insights into our mental health. This speech analysis study, which was the largest of its kind, also showed that certain aspects of language may be affected earlier than other parts of the body, allowing physicians to uncover mental deterioration before it becomes too late. With around 47 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, the prospect of an earlier diagnosis is very promising. Another study found that hearing loss may indicate mental decline as well, which can also play a role in catching conditions like Alzheimer’s at the very onset of the illness. (ABC)

In the News: Snortable Chocolate On the Rise, Coffee May Increase Longevity, FDA Approves New Cancer Treatment

Snortable chocolate on the rise. A product called Coco Loko is making waves among the party crowd in Europe in recent years. This snortable chocolate powder claims to reduce stress and act as a stimulant, giving users a sense of euphoria and calm focus. While this product isn’t dangerous when consumed orally, inhaling it may create issues. According to Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency physician, this powder may get stuck in the lungs if it doesn’t stay in the nose and that can create respiratory issues. People with asthma, pulmonary issues, or lung diseases are urged to avoid snorting Coco Loko for the sake of their safety. Want to enjoy chocolate the healthy way? Try these guilt-free recipes. (CNN)

Coffee may increase longevity. Coffee lovers have one more reason to celebrate: several studies have found that consistent coffee consumption lowers death rates from a wide variety of causes. While many may assume only a certain amount is beneficial, it turns out that the more cups you drink, the greater the result. In an American study that took place over 16 years, participants who claimed to drink four or more coffee drinks daily, were linked to an 18% lowered chance of death than the others. In a European study, researchers studied 520,000 people in 10 different counties over 16 years and they found similar results. In the U.S. study, researchers found that decaffeinated coffee provided the same benefits as the caffeinated kind, which means the longevity potion doesn’t necessarily lie in the caffeine. Learn more about the pros and cons of drinking coffee here. (ABC)

FDA approves new cancer treatment. A new cancer treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight their cancer has been approved by the FDA. Known as a “living drug”, this treatment, takes cells from the patient’s body, changes the genes, and then fuses those changed cells back into the body, essentially using its own immune system to fight the disease. While concerns about safety and cost are a factor, this revolutionary treatment is a huge advancement in the field of cancer research. Are you snacking on these six cancer-fighting foods? Add them to your diet today. (NPR)

One Viewer’s Experience on the Mono Diet

green vegetables

The Monotrophic Diet, often known as the Mono Diet, is based around the concept of eating only one item per meal. On this regimen, you’re allowed to eat unlimited quantities per meal, as long as you stick to the same food. The only beverage you’re allowed while on the diet is water. Here is one person’s experience on the Mono Diet. If you’re thinking about trying this out, make sure to speak to your physician first before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.

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In the News: Forgetfulness May Make You Smarter, Mindfulness May Reduce Blood Sugar, Lectin-Free Diet is the Latest Diet Fad

Forgetfulness may make you smarter. As it turns out, having a perfect memory may not be as brag-worthy as it seems. A report out of the journal Neuron, indicates that forgetting everyday things may increase intelligence. Researchers at the University of Toronto posit that the point of memory is to improve decision-making by only retaining the most important things and releasing the rest. When studying memory and brain activity in mice, researchers found that old memories were regularly swapped with new ones, which lead to more informed decision-making and increased activity in the hippocampus. (CNN)

Mindfulness may reduce blood sugar. Penn State University researchers studied 86 overweight and obese participants to determine how stress impacted their health. They randomly assigned mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) courses to some women and assigned general health courses to the other women. After tracking the results for eight weeks, they determined that the MBSR group was significantly less stressed than the group in the general health courses. While both groups did improve in terms of mood, sleep, and psychological issues, only the MBSR group had lowered blood sugar levels. While more research is required, these findings show that practicing mindfulness may provide significant physical benefits. Feeling stressed? Here’s how to go from manic to mindful in just five minutes. (TIME)

Lectin-free diet is the latest diet fad. Just as going gluten-free was a huge diet trend just a few years ago, it appears that going lectin-free is the new big thing. Lectins are specific proteins found in grains and beans. While research has shown that lectins may have positive and negative effects, a lot of online gurus are writing them off entirely, suggesting that lectins can cause irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and inflammation. However, nutritionists point out that the the type of lectin you choose, and the preparation, can play a role in terms of health benefits. If you are indeed suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, try this plan to find relief. (WP)

In the News: Eating Vegetable Protein May Prevent Early Menopause, Eating Certain Foods Before Bed May Improve Sleep, Long-Term Breastfeeding Linked to Cavities

Eating more vegetable protein may prevent early menopause. A study at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, scientists have found that consuming foods like whole grains, tofu, and soy may prolong reproductive function and keep early menopause at bay. They also found that eating enriched pasta, certain types of bread, and cold cereal could also push off the start of menopause and that eating animal protein didn’t produce the same effect. For a woman on a 2,000 calorie diet, experts recommend eating three to four servings of these veggie protein foods, with the servings fluctuating based on BMI, age, and lifestyle habits. The next stage of research will have to look at the impact of soy-based protein versus non-soy vegetable protein to determine how it effects the ovaries. Wondering if you’re at risk for early menopause? Take this quiz. (SD)

Snacking on certain foods before bed may improve sleep quality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a third of adults are not sleeping enough. As it turns out, diet can play a role in how effectively you snooze. Researchers suggest eating foods high in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that your body converts into melatonin and serotonin, both of which help you relax and feel drowsy. Snacks rich in this ingredient include granola, unsweetened cereal, whole grain crackers, milk, and turkey. You can also snack on oranges, bananas, and pineapples to increase melatonin. Looking to sleep better? Find out your sleep chronotype first. (CNN)

Long-term breastfeeding linked to more pediatric cavities. According to Pediatrics journal, breastfeeding children for two years and up can increase the likelihood of cavities. When studying 1,129 children in Brazil, researchers found that 23.9% had severe cavities and 48% had at least one cavity. Children who were breastfeed for over two years had more than double the risk of having serious dental issues, whereas kids who were only breastfed for a year or less had a much smaller risk. When looking at the reasons, experts explain that a lot of these breastfeeding sessions take place at night and more frequently over all, which makes it difficult to keep the teeth adequately clean during these hours. Another explanation links prolonged breastfeeding with a higher consumption of sweets and a lower income background, which can explain why there are dental health issues. (CNN)

Easy Ways to Cultivate Good Health in the Garden

 

woman gardening

There are many more ways to stay healthy and fit than simply just going to the gym. In fact some options are right in our own backyard. While gardening may not be considered exercise by some, it can actually build or maintain strength, stamina, and flexibility. Some studies have shown that it can also reduce the prevalence of heart disease, obesity, anxiety, and depression and improve one’s perceived quality of life. Some research even indicates gardening reduces the chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50%. Want to learn more?

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