Awesome Is Good For Your Health

February 27, 2015 9:02 am 0 comments

Awesome news: Awe is a goodimgres thing, and awesome experiences can be good for your health. That’s the verdict of researchers at the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. The Wall Street Journal reports on their research and other experiments suggesting that awesome experiences can improve academic performance, fight depression, and reduce inflammation. In one project, the Journal reports, researchers asked 119 undergraduates to rate how often they felt seven positive emotions including awe. The researchers found that those who reported feeling awe the most had the lowest levels of inflammation markers in their saliva. Other research conducted by Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that simply writing about a past awe experience increases kindness and compassion. The Journal reports that one study randomly divided 300 participants into three groups and watched one of three video clips, and then gave them a test to measure generosity involving giving away lottery tickets.  People in the group watched the most awesome group said they would give away approximately 25 percent more.

Married Sex Gets Better, Eventually

February 26, 2015 8:29 am 0 comments

First, the neimages-1ws: after interviewing 1,656 married Americans ages 57 to 85, sociologists at Louisiana State University, Florida State University and Baylor University have determined that for many married couples, sex gets better. Did someone ask “When”?  That’s the tricky part. As Jan Hoffman reports in the New York Times, the uptick–no not an unheaval- was found in couples who had been together for at least 50 years. Yes, five decades. And as the researchers put it: “an individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years.” The Times quotes Samuel Stroope, the lead author and an assistant professor of sociology at L.S.U. say this: “Sexual frequency doesn’t return to two to three times a month, but it moves in that direction.” Could be worse news.

For Post-Exercise Pain, Yes, Mussels

February 25, 2015 8:16 am 0 comments

imgresNo, it’s not just clever wordplay. Researchers at Indiana University have shown that taking a supplement of omega-3 PCSO-524, a marine oil lipid derived from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, significantly reduces post-exercise muscle damage. An Indiana University news release reports that the researchers tested 32 men who exercise less than three times a week for less than 30 minutes at a time — and randomly gave them either the marine oil supplement or a placebo for 26 days before a muscle-damaging exercise session and for 96 hours afterwards. The exercise session consisted of high intensity running for 20 minutes downhill on a treadmill, and the body’s reaction to the muscle-damaging exercise regimen was tested immediately, and at 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours post-workout. What did they find? The envelope please…The men who were given the supplement had less muscle soreness, less muscle pain, less strength loss, less fatigue and even less inflammatory proteins evident in their bloodstreams. Two more things: The pharmaceutical name of the supplement is Lyprinol, or Omega XL in the United States, and it used to reduce the effects of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and exercise-induced asthma. And this: the Indiana study was funded by Pharmalink International LTD, the company that develops Lyprinol.

Taking A Sauna May Be Good For The Heart

February 24, 2015 8:01 am 1 comment

It’s not exactly a strenuous cardio workout, but taking a sauna may diminish the risk of death from unfortunate cardiac event. Science Dailyimages reports that researchers at the University of Eastern Finland looked at death rates from a sudden cardiac event and heart disease over a 21 year period in 2,315 middle-aged men (42 to 60 years old). What did they find? The envelope please….Compared with men who took one sauna a week, the risk of a sudden cardiac event was 22 percent lower for 2 to 3 sauna bathing sessions per week and 63 percent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week. The risk of fatal heart events was 23 percent lower for 2 to 3 bathing sessions per week and 48 percent lower for 4 to 7 sauna sessions per week compared to once a week. Cardiovascular disease death also was 27 percent lower for men who took saunas 2 to 3 times a week and 50 percent lower for men who were in the sauna 4 to 7 times a week compared with men who indulged just once per week. For all-cause mortality, sauna bathing 2 to 3 times per week was associated with a 24 percent lower risk and 4 to 7 times per week with a 40 percent reduction in risk compared to only one sauna session per week. Wait, there’s more: The amount of time spent in the sauna seemed to matter too. Compared with men who spent less than 11 minutes in the sauna, the risk of sudden cardiac death was 7 percent lower for sauna sessions of 11 to 19 minutes and 52 percent less for sessions lasting more than 19 minutes.

Processed Foods Are Addictive, Relatively Speaking

February 23, 2015 8:13 am 1 comment

imgresOK, no one is suggesting a danger of  being hooked on french fries, but researchers at the University of Michigan are persuaded that processed foods, including french fries, pizza, and chocolate, are more addictive than foods that aren’t processed. A U Michigan news release reports that previous studies in animals have shown that highly processed foods, or foods with added fat or refined carbohydrates (like white flour and sugar), may be capable of triggering addictive-like eating behavior. Surveys conducted by the Michigan researchers found that people with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes reported greater problems with highly processed foods, suggesting some may be particularly sensitive to the possible “rewarding” properties of processed foods. Yikes! What to do? The researchers suggest savoring the rewards of brown rice and salmon.

Latest Dietary Advice: Fat Isn’t All That Bad; Sugar Is

February 20, 2015 8:22 am 0 comments

imgresThe latest advisory from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which convenes every five years, has some good news and some bad news. First the good news, which isn’t all that good. As Anahad O’Connor reports in the New York Times, the panel dropped a suggestion from the previous guidelines that Americans restrict their total fat intake to 35 percent of their daily calories. Why? Because, O’Connor reports, a decades-old emphasis on low-fat diets prompted an explosion of processed foods stripped of fat and loaded with sugar, and studies show that replacing fat with refined carbohydrates like bread, rice and sugar can actually worsen cardiovascular health. And now the bad news, which isn’t all that bad, or all that surprising: sugar is the devil. And a very popular devil at that. The Times reports that Americans consume 22 to 30 teaspoons of added sugar daily, half of which come from soda, juices and other sugary drinks. How much sugar should be eating? The panel recommends a limit of 12 teaspoons a day– or roughly 10 percent of daily calories for most adults.

For Online Dating, Two Words of Advice: Honesty, Details

February 19, 2015 8:16 am 0 comments

The headline for the University of Iowa news release imagesabout research into online dating puts it nicely: Love is about being real, not perfect.” How do they know? Because researchers at the school created eight online dating profiles—four men and four women—with various combinations of two perspectives. One perspective, “Selective Self-Presentation,” highlighted only what’s “good” about a person and downplayed the rest. The other, “Warranting,” contained information easily traced to a real person. The profiles were placed in OKCupid and shown to 317 adults who said they were using or had used an online dating service. There were 150 men and 167 women, and the mean age was 40, all of whom were asked to judge the profiles and decide which ones they would contact. Yes, the researchers expected that the high selective self-presentation—those who sounded perfect—and high warranting— those who provided specifics that could be traced to a real person—would be the most popular, but no, that was not the case. Instead, the researchers found that people were turned off by profiles that sounded too good to be true. They also found the more specific information a profile contained that could be traced to a real person, the more the viewer trusted the profile. “You want to balance all that is wonderful about yourself with some things that aren’t negative, but more humble or realistic about yourself,” says study author Andy High. “It’s important to put your best foot forward, but maybe not in your best pair of shoes.”

Can Mindfulness Make Exercise More Rewarding?

February 18, 2015 7:50 am 2 comments

images-1Can mindfulness make exercise more rewarding? A group of researchers at Utrecht University in The Netherlands thinks it might. Gretchen Reynolds reports in the New York Times on their research, which surveyed 400 physically active adults, asking about daily exercise habits, personalities, typical feelings during any given exercise session, mindfulness in general, and mindfulness during exercise. Leaving aside for the moment what exactly is meant by “mindfulness,” the envelope please… The study revealed, unsurprisingly, that people who exercised most were the same people who were most satisfied with exercise. It also revealed, as Reynolds tells us, that “people who reported being mindful during exercise also generally reported satisfaction with exercise.” Now the confusing part: there was little correlation between the amount of mindfulness people reported and their exercise habits. How to explain that? “The message is that mindfulness may amplify satisfaction, because one is satisfied when positive experiences with physical activity become prominent,” says Kalliopi-Eleni Tsafou, a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Utrecht University who led the study. “For those experiences to be noticed, one must become aware of them. We would argue that this can be achieved by being mindful.”

Breaking A Sweat A Few Times A Week Cuts Heart Disease In Women

February 17, 2015 7:54 am 1 comment

images-2That’s right. Women who are physically active enough to break a sweat a few times a week have a lower risk of heart disease than inactive women. How do we know? Because researchers at University College in Oxford studied the health and exercise records of 1 million women, average age 56, following them for nine years. Science Daily reports that women who regularly did such activities as walking, gardening and cycling–enough to cause sweating or a faster heart beat — two to three times per week were about 20 percent less likely to develop heart disease, strokes or blood clots compared to participants who reported little or no activity. Wait, there’s more, and it’s strange: among active women, there was little evidence of further risk reductions with more frequent activity.

Culinary Aphrodisiacs: What Works, What Works Badly

February 13, 2015 7:53 am 1 comment

As Valentines imagesDay approaches, Geezer passes on some advice from the New York Times  that could be useful, or not. Writer Sarah Kershaw takes the search for culinary aphrodisiacs to medical researchers and food studies scientists and comes away a big picture answer: of all the senses, only smell bypasses the conscious parts of the brain and goes directly to the limbic system, the region responsible for basic memory, motivation and emotion. That’s one reason there is a strong connection between scent, emotion, and sexual attraction. On the more practical level, readers hoping for what the Times describes as a “satisfying conclusion” to a Valentines dinner should steer clear of cherries, whose smell, the Times reports, “caused a sharp drop in excitation among women, as did the smell of meat cooked over charcoal.” What scents work in a good way? The paper cites one experiment that correlated penile and vaginal blood flow with various smells. Men responded to the scent of doughnuts mingled with licorice. For women, the Times reports, first place for most arousing was a tie between baby powder and the combination of Good & Plenty candy with cucumber. Coming in second was a combination of Good & Plenty and banana nut bread. Food for thought there. Or for other things. Read more in the New York Times.

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  • Gordo: Interesting that they use a 1 times per week as the con
  • Jean: I have always thought that there was "crack" in fast fo
  • Phil: Gary...I could not agree more. "Being present" during a
  • edwords: In other words, the extra time exercise 'nuts' put in,
  • Gary: It makes sense but is indeed, hard to explain well. If