Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Fun Fact Friday

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.

  • 40% of people who are rejected in a romantic relationship slip into clinical depression.

  • Dogs can see sadness in humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating cuddling.

  • Having sex only 3 times a week, has proven to make you look 5-7 years younger.

~ Happy Friday!~
Advertisements


1 Comment

Rage Disorder Linked To Common Parasite Carried By 30% of People

Around 30% of people are thought to carry the parasite often caught from a common domestic pet.

People with impulsive anger problems could have a parasite in their brain, a new study suggests.

Those who continually display behaviours like road-rage could be infected with a common parasite rather than having a psychological disorder.

Around 30% of people are thought to carry the toxoplasma gondii parasite — it is often present in, and caught from, cat faeces.

Professor Emil Coccaro, who led the research said:

“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior.
However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues.”

The conclusions come from a study of 358 adults.

The results showed that people with ‘intermittent explosive disorder’ (that’s rage issues to you and me!) were twice as likely to test positive for the toxoplasma gondii parasite in comparison to a healthy control group (22% versus 9%).

Across all the people in the study, those who tested positive for the toxoplasma gondii parasite had significantly higher levels of aggression and anger.

Dr Royce Lee, a study co-author, said:

“Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats.
We don’t yet understand the mechanisms involved–it could be an increased inflammatory response, direct brain modulation by the parasite, or even reverse causation where aggressive individuals tend to have more cats or eat more undercooked meat.
Our study signals the need for more research and more evidence in humans.

Professor Coccaro said:

“It will take experimental studies to see if treating a latent toxoplasmosis infection with medication reduces aggressiveness.
If we can learn more, it could provide rational to treat IED in toxoplasmosis-positive patients by first treating the latent infection.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Coccaro et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


2 Comments

Dancing Can Reverse The Signs Of Aging In The Brain

As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness, which can be made worse by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.

“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. “In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that lead to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”

Elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68, were recruited to the study and assigned either an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.

While previous research has shown that physical exercise can combat age-related brain decline, it is not known if one type of exercise can be better than another. To assess this, the exercise routines given to the volunteers differed. The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group were challenged with something new each week.

Dr Rehfeld explains, “We tried to provide our seniors in the dance group with constantly changing dance routines of different genres (Jazz, Square, Latin-American and Line Dance). Steps, arm-patterns, formations, speed and rhythms were changed every second week to keep them in a constant learning process. The most challenging aspect for them was to recall the routines under the pressure of time and without any cues from the instructor.”

These extra challenges are thought to account for the noticeable difference in balance displayed by those participants in dancing group. Dr Rehfeld and her colleagues are building on this research to trial new fitness programs that have the potential of maximizing anti-aging effects on the brain.

“Right now, we are evaluating a new system called “Jymmin” (jamming and gymnastic). This is a sensor-based system which generates sounds (melodies, rhythm) based on physical activity. We know that dementia patients react strongly when listening to music. We want to combine the promising aspects of physical activity and active music making in a feasibility study with dementia patients.”

Dr Rehfeld concludes with advice that could get us up out of our seats and dancing to our favorite beat.

“I believe that everybody would like to live an independent and healthy life, for as long as possible. Physical activity is one of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to this, counteracting several risk factors and slowing down age-related decline. I think dancing is a powerful tool to set new challenges for body and mind, especially in older age.”

This study falls into a broader collection of research investigating the cognitive and neural effects of physical and cognitive activity across the lifespan.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Frontiers. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Kathrin Rehfeld, Patrick Müller, Norman Aye, Marlen Schmicker, Milos Dordevic, Jörn Kaufmann, Anita Hökelmann, Notger G. Müller. Dancing or Fitness Sport? The Effects of Two Training Programs on Hippocampal Plasticity and Balance Abilities in Healthy Seniors. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 11 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00305

Source:     Frontiers     www.sciencedaily.com


Leave a comment

Health Tip Tuesday

Get smelly. 

Garlic, onions, spring onions and leeks all contain stuff that’s good for you. A study at the Child’s Health Institute in Cape Town found that eating raw garlic helped fight serious childhood infections.

 

Heat destroys these properties, so eat yours raw, wash it down with fruit juice or, if you’re a sissy, have it in tablet form.


Leave a comment

13 Ways to Keep Plastics Out of Your Food

Take action to protect your food—and your family—from BPA.

Our exploding use of plastics may be causing population decline in the industrial world. The possible cause? “Chemicals in commerce.” Namely plastics.

Our bodies have receptor sites for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. These sites fulfill various important bodily functions. Imagine if instead of real hormones the receptors receive chemicals that mimic hormones, such as are found in plasticizers. This fools the body into thinking it has the real thing until, oops, the plasticizer or other hormone disrupting chemical derails the system. Called endocrine disruption, this phenomenon was brought to worldwide attention in 1996 with the seminal book Our Stolen Future.

There are a number of before-and-after reports of people eating food that had been stored in plastic packaging who then have their blood drawn to see horrifying spikes of the plasticizer bisphenol a (BPA). The discussion about the experiment in the book Slow Death by Rubber Duck is the most famous. Many plastic items are made with BPA, and parents especially have put pressure on companies to drop it. Unfortunately, the common “BPA-Free” substitute, BPS, may cause hyperactivity.

A 2014 NIH study reports that “Growing evidence from research on laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans supports the view that BPA produces an endocrine disrupting effect and adversely affects male reproductive function.”

Phthalates such as DEHP are designed to make plastic soft, such as for plastic food wrap. DEHP has been reported in an NIH study to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality and male hormone levels in general. The problems can go beyond low sperm quality, to include low libido, cancer and erectile dysfunction.

Worse, experimental results actually suggested that multiple generations of exposure may have increased male sensitivity to the chemical. Niels Erik Skakkebaek, an adjunct professor in endocrine disrupters, has for years advocated the concept that poor semen quality is part of a bigger phenomenon, called testicular dysgenesis syndrome.

One real challenge with the research is that scientists have only measured plasticizers in urine since 2000. Skeptics will say there isn’t nearly enough research to prove that plastic exposure is causing low sperm count. Industry is fighting hard to keep BPA on the market and FDA is changing course due to that pressure.

BPA isn’t just bad for men. Research has shown that BPA exposure can impact pregnant women’s thyroids and has been linked to cell damage in post-menopausal women.

The mandate of the precautionary principle is to take preventive action in the face of scientific uncertainty in order to prevent harm. Carolyn Raffensperger is the founding executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network. She says the precautionary principle “has three building blocks. One is scientific uncertainty. The second is the likelihood or the plausibility of harm. The third element is precautionary action….the Precautionary Principle invites action: it says you’ve got to take action.”

Here are ways to take action to protect your food from BPA.

1. Smell and taste test.

Can you smell or taste plastic? If you can smell plastic, track down the source and remove it. If you can taste plastic, don’t eat that type or source of food again.

2. Use glass or stainless steel.

Avoid drinking from plastic bottles and choose glass or stainless steel instead. Make a special point to avoid polycarbonate, the “hard” plastic with a recycling code of #7 (more about this in #5, below). And be sure to use glass baby bottles for infants.

3. Avoid processed food.

If there was ever a reason to stop eating processed foods, this is it. The plasticizer adipate (DEHA) is used as an additive in all sorts of foods, including ones you wouldn’t expect, such as fat, dairy and egg-based deserts, frozen fish, processed fruit and breakfast cereals. It is a chemical that helps material resist high temperatures and is also used in foods as a bulking agent, stabilizer and thickener.

4. Skip plastic food wraps.

DEHP (phthalates) are found in food wrap and many kinds are made of PVC, #3 on the recycling code. It’s especially important to refrain from storing hot, fatty food in plastic as the plastics easily migrate into the food. So skip the cling wrap and go for glass food storage containers. Never heat food in plastic in a microwave.

5. Check recyling codes.

Check for #3 and #7 recycling codes, and use plastic-free alternatives for the products. #3 is commonly used for packaging of salad dressing, ketchup, mineral water, cooking oil, mouthwash, shampoo, etc. #7 is commonly found in aseptic packaging and baby bottles. It is also found in some reusable water bottles, stain-resistant food storage containers, most canned foods, and hard plastic water bottles. Read more about toxic plastics in “The 10 Most Contaminated Foods in Your Fridge.”

6. Don’t burn plastic.

Don’t burn plastic, whatever you do. Don’t start a fire using any food packaging in the fireplace or wood stove, don’t clean up a campsite before you leave by burning packaging, and don’t burn food packaging in the backyard burn barrels. Breathing these chemicals is not a good idea!

7. Make food essentials at home.

Buy products packaged in glass or learn to make your own: 10 Healthy Food Essentials You Can Make at Home.

8. Skip canned foods and soda.

Just skip canned food and soda until the industry finds plastic-free alternatives. Epoxy resins containing BPA are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans. Note that aseptic packaging, such as Tetra Pak, is BPA-free, but does contain low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

9. Check your wine and beer containers.

Wine that has been fermented in BPA-resin lined vats will contain BPA, as will wine that touches synthetic corks that are made with BPA. Happily, it is extremely rare for wine to be fermented in BPA-resin lined vats to begin with. Most wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Wines that have BPA are fermented in concrete fermentation vats, but check your vineyard to make sure, if local. Also, beer cans are lined with BPA, so choose glass bottles instead.

10. Avoid plastic food containers.

Polycarbonate is a hard plastic, so those hard plastic food storage containers are out. Instead of storing food in plastic, use glass.

11. Store filtered water in glass containers.

You need filtered water. Most counter-top water filters have a polycarbonate receptacle. You can manage a few workarounds for this. Place the top of the filter on top of a big glass or stainless steel jug so the water will pass through the filter and be stored in a clean container.

12. Swap out plastic kitchen appliances for glass.

The receptacles of many kitchen appliances, like coffee makers, blenders and food processors are plastic. Most coffee makers have a plastic reservoir to hold the water. Most blenders, food processords and popcorn makers are made entirely of polycarbonate. For coffee, you can use a glass French press. Make sure you don’t put hot fatty food into kitchen appliances as they suck up plastic the most.

13. Avoid handling receipts.

The thermal paper for cash register receipts carries large amounts of BPA. When you shop for food, try not to handle the receipt with your exposed hand.

Find more plastic alternatives at LifeWithoutPlastic.com
 
By Annie B. Bond      AlterNet        September 13, 2017

Annie B. Bond is the author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999). She is the co-author of True Food: Eight Simple Steps to a Healthier You, winner of the Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World.


3 Comments

Why Letting Yourself Make Mistakes Means Making Fewer of Them

Allowing mistakes is the best way to avoid making them.

Think back to the last time your boss assigned you a new project or task at work, or the last time you tried to tackle something really difficult in your personal life.  How did it feel?  I’m guessing scary, right?

While some people seem eager to tackle new challenges, many of us are really just trying to survive without committing any major screw-ups.  Taking on something totally new and unfamiliar is understandably frightening, since the odds of making a mistake are good when you are inexperienced.  Small wonder that we greet new challenges with so little enthusiasm.

How can we learn to see things differently?  How can we shift our thinking, and approach new responsibilities and challenges with more confidence and energy?

The answer is simple, though perhaps a little surprising:  Give yourself permission to screw-up.   Start any new project by saying  “I’m not going to be good at this right away, I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay.”

So now you’re probably thinking, “If I take your advice and actually let myself screw up, there will be consequences.  I’m going to pay for it.”  Fair enough.  But you really needn’t worry about that, because studies show that when people are allowed to make mistakes, they are significantly less likely to actually make them!  Let me explain.

We approach most of what we do with one of two types of goals: what I call be-good goals, where the focus is on proving that you have a lot of ability and already know what you’re doing, and get-better goals, where the focus is on developing your ability and learning a new skill.  It’s the difference between wanting to show that you are smart vs. wanting to get smarter.

The problem with be-good goals is that they tend to backfire when things get hard.  We quickly start to doubt our ability (“Oh no, maybe I’m not good at this!”), and this creates a lot of anxiety.  Ironically, worrying about your ability makes you much more likely to ultimately fail.  Countless studies have shown that nothing interferes with your performance quite like anxiety does – it is the goal-killer.

Get-better goals, on the other hand, are practically bullet-proof.  When we think about what we are doing in terms of learning and improving, accepting that we may make some mistakes along the way, we stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.

Just to give you an example, in one study I conducted a few years ago with my graduate student, Laura Gelety, we found that people who were trying to be good (i.e., trying to show how smart they were) performed very poorly on a test of problem-solving when I made the test more difficult (either by interrupting them frequently while they were working, or by throwing in a few additional unsolvable problems).

The amazing thing was, the people who were trying to get better (i.e., who saw the test as an opportunity to learn a new problem-solving skill) were completely unaffected by any of my dirty tricks.  No matter how hard I made it for them, students focused on getting better stayed motivated and did well.

Too often, when the boss gives us an assignment, we expect to be able to do the work flawlessly, no matter how challenging it might be.  The focus is all about being good, and the prospect becomes terrifying.  Even when we are assigning ourselves a new task, we take the same approach – expecting way too much too soon.

The irony is that all this pressure to be good results in many more mistakes, and far inferior performance, than would a focus on getting better.

How can you reframe your goals in terms of getting better? Here are the three steps:

Step 1:  Start by embracing the fact that when something is difficult and unfamiliar, you will need some time to really get a handle on it.  You may make some mistakes, and that’s ok.

Step 2:  Remember to ask for help when you run into trouble.  Needing help doesn’t mean you aren’t capable – in fact, the opposite is true.  Only the very foolish believe they can do everything on their own.

Step 3: Try not to compare yourself to other people – instead, compare your performance today to your performance yesterday.  Focusing on getting better means always thinking in terms of progress, not perfection.

Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D.   The Science of Success    Feb 01, 2011


1 Comment

How To Master Self-Acceptance

In 1969, the psychiatrist Thomas A. Harris, M.D., wrote a self-help manual called, I’m OK — You’re OK, which became a runaway bestseller and a catch phrase of the 70s.

“OK-ness” is a subjective assessment of the self, based on ideas and feelings — mostly from the past. If I had a family who praised, appreciated, adored and guided me, I’d probably end up feeling “OK” about myself, no matter what happened externally. But if I had parents who ignored, demeaned, shamed, or belittled me and my needs, I’d probably end up feeling bad and not OK about myself, no matter what happened externally.

As a psychotherapist for more than 20 years, I’ve seen supermodels doubt their good looks, and wealthy people feel financially insecure. “OK-ness” or self-esteem is like the rudder of a sailboat: when it’s deep, the vessel can endure huge waves; when it’s shallow or missing, the boat can capsize in puddle-deep water.

The road to mastering self-acceptance is long and winding, but here are four important reminders to help you along the way:

1. Know that whatever has been done can be undone, and vice versa.

I love this sentiment about human freedom, and I love that as a therapist. When I witness someone with an arid past and bad sense of self, recover or discover a fundamental sense of OK-ness, I like it. The hard-earned sense of OK-ness claimed through completing a 12-step program, or therapy, or just plain life-lessons, is so sweet.

Now here’s what I really like — in response to Dr. Harris’ statement, “I’m OK, You’re OK,” psychiatrist Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross came up with this: “I’m not OK, and you’re not OK. But that’s OK.” Now there’s a humanism I can live with! In her model, I don’t even have to be OK to experience OK-ness!

2. Admit your flaws, laugh at your quirks, and know that you will screw up.

Self-acceptance means knowing that it’s not a sin or stupid to not know what you don’t know. Self-acceptance says that maybe you’re not right about something, but you’re right within the core of your being.

How do you come by knowing this “core self,” you ask? In quietude, when the mind finally settles down — when each breath signals, “I am alive,” and you really get it and feel it at full measure. That means taking the time to be quiet, maybe on a regular basis. So yes, even though self-acceptance seems naturally sweet and easily attainable, it still takes effort to be with it. You still have to reach for it.

That’s where the age-old quest for enlightenment comes in; the element we seek out in everything we pursue: aliveness, fun, joy, depth, love and rest.

3. Love and accept other beings.

I see this firsthand in therapy groups week after week: people sharing and accepting the supposedly unacceptable things about each other. That kind of concentrated love and support can bust through years of wall-building, through negativity and self-condemnation. That kind of kindness that heals hearts and lives fully. When others reach out to us with unconditional acceptance, it helps us reach in and find it there, too.

Outside love from others can help, but is not the final measure of successful self-acceptance. The true flower of self-acceptance grows in a deeper garden, in a place inside of us beyond any layers of holding back or hiding out. It’s a precious flower planted by God long ago, when we were innocent and original. All we have to do to find our way back there is to become as simple and guileless as we once were.

To rediscover our innocence and reclaim it as our core — that is a solid foundation for full self-acceptance.

4. Accept the dark side, too.

Goodness and light are easy to accept because, well, they’re good, and it’s easier to feel good about goodness than it is to feel good about badness. We humans collectively honor goodness and dislike the dark side. But every yin has its yang. Every good thing about us and in us, casts a shadow, and we need to reckon with it and yes, make peace with it, to round out the self-acceptance picture. The Dark Side is important, and ignoring it can lead to problems.

For instance, did you know that Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi was far from the divine and perfect being we often look up to? In his autobiography, he fully confessed that he not only contained the seeds of violence within himself, but also acted on them in his life.

I honor the man who admits his to dark side, and then transforms it into humility and determination to be non-violent. I accept Gandhi as my hero because he kept on going beyond his mistakes. He continued to work on perfecting himself, flaws and all. He didn’t hide his imperfections, but challenged himself with them to reach new depths of personhood. Heck, if it turns out that not even Gandhi is OK, then that must really be OK!

by Andy Roman    March 18, 2015