Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


Leave a comment

Sweating the small stuff? Research shows minor events play a major role in decisions

Daniel Bitonti, CTVNews.ca    Published Sunday, November 24, 2013

It happens almost every day to each and every one of us: Those small anxiety-inducing events, from a frustrating, traffic-congested commute, to spilling coffee at your desk.

And a new study out of the University Toronto shows that people who are not in tune with their emotions often let these small events play into unrelated and big decisions.

“The emotions they have, which might be caused for any reason, can carry over to important decisions they make in their life,” Stephane Cote said, a professor at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, who co-wrote the study with Jeremy Yip of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

One experiment Cote and his partner undertook involved a group of undergraduate students.

Students were first given a test on their general emotion-understanding ability, known as the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. Some students were then put into what researchers had determined was an anxiety-inducing situation: told they had 60 seconds to mentally prepare a speech.

In this increased state of anxiety, students were then asked whether they wanted to sign up to get the flu shot at the campus clinic after having read a fact sheet about the flu.

Cote says that students with a low degree of emotional intelligence actually signed up for the flu shot in the highest numbers. But this, researchers determined, was not due to a genuine concern for their health, but rather a result of the anxiety they had about having to prepare a speech. 

“There’s a finding when people are anxious they’re too careful,” Cote said.

Students with a high degree of emotional intelligence were actually less likely to sign up for the flu shot. The conclusion is that while they had made a riskier choice, it was also more rational, based solely on the decision in front of them.

(Perhaps another tidbit to be gleaned from the study: university students really, really don’t like getting shots.)


But arguably the most interesting finding was that another group of students with low emotional intelligence – once made aware by researchers that their anxiety had nothing to do with the decision at hand – were less likely to sign up for the flu shot than those who hadn’t been told this.

The conclusion: simply being made aware that a past event has no relation to current circumstances has an effect on decision making.

And with our financial system predicated on companies and individuals often having to take risks – which often lead to big returns – the research gives us insight into why investors might become risk-averse.

It might also help us with our personal relationships. For example, you might stop to ask yourself why you got mad at our spouse last night. (Perhaps it was that flat tire you got on the way home from work.)

The research can also be applied to the political arena. 

The biggest story right now in Canada is the ongoing drama involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

There’s no question the mayor has engaged (admittedly) in some questionable behavior in recent weeks, including making a lewd comment about oral sex.

But Cote said it could be argued that Ford’s decision to make that comment stemmed from related attacks against him the previous day. Perhaps, just perhaps, Ford was actually in an emotionally-aware state when he said what he said.

Cote thinks, however, that his research could be applied to how city councillors might make decisions in the near future, specifically related to the perceived damage to the city in the wake of the scandal.

For example, when council is restored to normalcy, and an item comes to the floor that is part of the Ford agenda, will councillors now be more likely to vote against it simply because they’re angry at Ford?

For councillors with lower emotional intelligence, this could be something to look out for.

“Anger could lead to people retaliating, to make something they see unfair more fair, and might influence policy decisions,” Cote said.  “Even though the policy decisions have nothing to do with the cause of the anger.”

source: www.ctvnews.ca

Advertisements


Leave a comment

How the ‘Love Hormone’ Works Its Magic

A whiff of oxytocin lit up reward center in men’s brains when they looked at their partner’s face

By Brenda Goodman  HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 25, 2013 (HealthDay News) – Scientists, and women everywhere, have long wondered exactly what keeps a man from straying with a stranger.

From a biological perspective, at least, cheating is easy to understand. The more sexual partners a man has, the more likely he’ll be to pass on his genetic material.

So why do so many men settle down, get married and stick around to raise their kids?

Researchers think they may have found a clue in oxytocin, a hormone released during sex and other intimate gestures like hugging or holding hands that’s been proven to strengthen social bonds in other mammals.

They found that the hormone appears to boost men’s attraction to their mate — even when presented with pictures of other women.

The findings are published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, 20 men who were in committed relationships for 28 months, on average, took whiffs of either oxytocin nasal spray or an inactive placebo spray.

For the first test, the men looked at pictures of their partner, a woman they’d never met, or a house. The photos of the women were carefully matched so one wasn’t more attractive than the other.

In the second experiment, they looked at pictures of their partners or of women they knew but weren’t related to, perhaps someone they saw at work every day.

Then the men rated the attraction they felt to the various faces. Men consistently rated their partners as being more attractive and arousing than the other women and, in most cases, a whiff of oxytocin boosted that effect compared to the placebo.

But what really fascinated the researchers was what happened inside the men’s brains.

Under the influence of oxytocin, two areas of the brain responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure lit up when men saw their partner’s faces. But the sight of other women had the opposite effect, suppressing feelings of pleasure.

“Oxytocin triggers the reward system to activate on the partner’s face, the presence of the partner,” said study author Dr. Rene Hurlemann, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Bonn, in Germany.

“Sexual monogamy is actually quite costly for males, so there must be some form of mechanism binding males and females together, at least for some time,” Hurlemann said. “There must be some benefit, and reward is actually the strongest motivation underlying human behavior.”

An expert who was not involved in the study said the results suggest that couples who keep a high level of intimacy in their relationships can maintain stronger bonds.

“When you’re first becoming intimate, you’re releasing lots of dopamine and oxytocin. That’s creating that link between the neural systems that are processing your facial cues, your voice and the reward system” of a partner’s brain, said Larry Young, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta. He studies the role of oxytocin in social bonding.

As time goes on, and couples become less intimate, Young noted that linkage can decay. But activities that release oxytocin, such as really looking into another person’s eyes, holding hands, kissing and having sex may help restore the connection.

“To me, it suggests that it may be a way to help prevent the decay that can occur that leads couples to separate,” he said.

Hurlemann agreed: “I think this is the only reason that we do hug and touch each other all the time. I think this is the mechanism that keeps oxytocin levels high in relationships.”

source: WebMD News from HealthDay

 


Leave a comment

7 Fruits and Vegetables That Boost Your Immune System

With cold and flu season just around the corner, now it’s more important than ever to get your immune system in the best shape you can. Getting enough sleep and exercise, and keeping your stress level down, can really do a lot for your health. But having a right diet is just, if not more, important. Luckily, there are plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables out there that have immunity-boosting properties.

Tip: Look for foods that are rich in color — that’s a surefire sign that they’re also high in immunity-boosting antioxidants. Red, yellow, purple, blue, and orange fruits and vegetables really fit the bill here.

1. Sweet Potatoes.

And just in time for Thanksgiving! Sweet potatoes owe their orange hue to beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for fighting against disease. Sweet potatoes are actually one of the best fresh sources of immunity-boosting properties out there.

2. Berries.

Packed with Vitamins C and E,berries truly are a nutritional powerhouse. Some of your best bests are common berries like raspberries and blueberries, as well as less common ones like acai and goji. Try eating berries with yogurt, another great-immunity boosting food.

3. Mushrooms.

Mushrooms are one of, if not the best, vegetarian foods for preventing and fighting disease. That’s because mushrooms help the maturation of your white blood cells, and, as some research suggest, might actually help them ward off disease better!


4. Carrots.

Though they probably won’t help you see in the dark, carrots might just help you ward off seasonal colds and flus. Like sweet potatoes, carrots are full of beta-carotene. For the best immune system-boosting results, stick to eating raw carrots.

5. Garlic.

People have been using garlic to ward of disease for thousands of years. And, more and more research suggest, it’s more than just folk medicine. One  prominent study (PDF) found that people who took garlic supplements got few cold symptoms, and, if they did get sick, they were ill for less time than the placebo group.

If you can handle it, try eating a clove of garlic every day. But it doesn’t just have to be the hard way — adding some minced garlic, fresh or cooked, is beneficial.

6. Kiwi.

Kiwifruit is a great natural source of vitamin E, a key nutrient for your immune system. Vitamin E helps protect your body from viral and bacterial infections. Though the jury is still out on whether or not vitamin C helps boost immunity, kiwifruit does have more of the stuff than most citrus fruits, including oranges!

7. Spinach.

Like kiwi, spinach is loaded with vitamin E. But that’s not all. Spinach really packs a huge nutritional punch. it has loads of beta-carotene, folate and vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like copper and iron — all nutrients vital to maintaining a healthy immune system.

Katie Waldeck     November 23, 2013


1 Comment

Tea: 6 Brilliant Effects on the Brain

The British are rightly famous for their tea drinking.
They–I should say ‘we’, as, yes, your humble author is a Brit–manage to down 165 million cups every day, and there are only 62 million of us.

Only the Irish drink more tea than us per person.
We all know about the effects of caffeine on the brain, but research has found two more ingredients of tea with important effects…

1. Green tea may help fight Alzheimer’s

Scientists have found that a natural component of green tea may eventually provide a way of curing Alzheimer’s disease (Rushworth et al., 2013).
Early-stage research has found that a component of green tea–epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)–can disrupt the build up of plaques in the brain, which is what causes the cells to die.
Eventually this may help lead to a cure for the crippling disease.

2. Old brains love tea

While we’ll have to wait for the Alzheimer’s research to progress, tea has been shown to have more immediate effects.
A study of 2,031 people aged between 70 and 74 found that those who drank tea–which contain micronutrient polyphenols, like EGCG–had better cognitive performance (Nurk et al., 2009).
Polyphenols are also contained in red wine, cocoa and coffee.

3. Improved cognition

You hardly need me to tell you that tea makes you feel alert, but it’s down to more than just the caffeine…
Tea also contains theanine, a psychoactive amino acid almost unique to tea.
Although we know much less about the effects of theanine than we do caffeine, there are multiple studies connecting it with enhanced cognitive performance (Einother & Martens, 2013).
How To Get Natural Energy

4. That famous calming effect

Not only is theanine responsible for improving cognition, it also provides the famous calming effect of tea.
When theanine is given to people, their brains exhibit more α-waves, which are indicative of relaxation without drowsiness (Juneja et al., 1999)

5. Tea boosts memory

Theanine, along with EGCG, has also been implicated in improvements to memory.
Korean research by Chung et al. (2011) has found that green tea extract and L-theanine can produce memory improvements in people suffering from mild cognitive impairments.
Mouse studies on EGCG suggest that it helps memory by increasing the production of new brain cells (Wang et al., 2012)

6. Better mental health

All the benefits of drinking tea mean it could be a factor in improved overall mental health.
Hozawa et al. (2009) tested this in a population study of 42,093 Japanese. This study found that drinking green tea was associated with less psychological distress.
The same positive effect of drinking tea has been found in 1,058 elderly Japanese people (Niu et al., 2009).
Theanine has even been tested in the treatment of schizophrenia with some success in reducing anxiety and other symptoms (Ritsner et al., 2011).

Tea for me

Of course tea is a relatively benign substance and most of the effects described here are small.
But when you add these potential benefits to its other pleasures, tea becomes just that little bit more enjoyable.
And, as Henry James said:
“…there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
I’ll raise a cup to that.
source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

Start at the Healthier End of the Buffet

First three food items seen will comprise 66 percent of your total plate, researcher says

WebMD News from HealthDay     By Mary Elizabeth Dallas     HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 21, 2013 (HealthDay News) – Putting healthier foods at the start of a buffet table can help diners pass up more fattening fare, according to a new study.

Researchers found that when healthy foods are seen first, people are more likely to select them and less likely to crave higher-calorie foods that may be farther down the buffet line.

“Each food taken may partly determine what other foods a person selects,” the researchers said. “In this way, the first food a person selects triggers what they take next.”

For the study, published recently in the journal PLoS One, the researchers provided two breakfast buffets to 124 people. In the first buffet, the participants encountered healthy foods, such as fruit, low-fat yogurt and low-fat granola, first. In the second buffet, high-calorie foods, such as cheesy eggs, fried potatoes and bacon, were at the start of the line.



The study revealed that when healthy foods were offered first, 86 percent of the diners selected fruit. But when more fattening foods were seen first, only 54 percent took the fruit. Similarly, when high-calorie foods were at the front of the buffet line, 75 percent of the participants chose cheesy eggs, compared to 29 percent of those on the healthy buffet line.

“The first three food items a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66 percent of their total plate, regardless of whether the items were high- or low-calorie foods,” behavioral economist Brian Wansink, of Cornell University, said in a university news release.

The order of foods in a buffet played a role in what the participants chose to add to their plate, said the researchers, who dubbed this a “trigger effect.”

“There’s an easy take-away for us: Always start at the healthier end of the buffet,” Wansink said. “Two-thirds of your plate will be the good stuff.”


Leave a comment

For Your Health: Organic versus Non-Organic

Organic Index 11.20.13             Organic Consumers Association, November 20, 2013

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s   All About Organics page , our   Myth of Natural page and our  Genetic Engineering page . Consumer demand for healthy, sustainably grown food has grown the organic market from just $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $30 billion today. Increasingly, consumers are saying “No” to foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), “No” to highly processed junk foods, and “No” to foods that come from factory farms.

Health tops the list of concerns about GMOs, junk foods and food from factory farms. But consumers aren’t just rejecting these foods because of their potential to cause health problems. They’re consciously choosing organic for its nutritional superiority.

The health safety benefits of organic foods are well known. For the most part, organic farming prohibits the use of toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, nanoparticles, climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers like toxic sewage sludge or coal waste, and genetically engineered ingredients.

But recent studies reveal that organic foods, especially raw or non-processed, are also substantially more nutritious. They contain higher levels of beta carotenevitamins C, Dand E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants,flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, essential minerals, and significantly lower levels of saturated fats.

Organics

A Nutritional Comparison: Organic Versus Non-Organic

Organically grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn have drastically higher nutritional content than their conventionally grown counterparts, including:

63: Percent more calcium.
78: Percent more chromium.
73: Percent more iron.
118: Percent more magnesium.
178: Percent more molybdenum.
91: Percent more phosphorus.
125: Percent more potassium.
60: Percent more zinc.
Between 20 and 40: Additional percentage of nutrients found in organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce compared with their conventional counterparts.
40: Additional percentage of antioxidants contained in organic fruit and vegetables compared with non-organic.
30: Percentage increase in levels of flavonoids contained in organic vegetables compared with conventionally grown produce.
25: Average percentage organic foods are more nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals than products derived from industrial agriculture.
55: Additional percentage of vitamin C contained in organic tomatoes at the stage of commercial maturity, compared with conventional tomatoes.
79 and 97: Percentage increase in levels of quercetin and kaempferol, both flavonoids, in organic tomatoes compared with conventional tomatoes. A10-year study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared organic tomatoes with standard produce and found that organic tomatoes had almost double the quantity of antioxidants.
139: Additional percentage of phenolic content (associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer) contained in organic tomatoes at the stage of commercial maturity, compared with conventional tomatoes.
57: Additional percentage of lycopene (considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer) contained in organic ketchup with conventional national brands.
50: Percentage increase in levels of antioxidants in organic ketchup compared with conventional major national brands.
30: Average percentage increase in levels of resveratrol (antioxidant linked to reduce risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease) found in organic red grapes compared with conventionally grown red grapes.
49: Average percentage of whole food ingredients contained in organic breads, versus 24 percent in “natural” bread and only 12 percent in conventional bread. Preservative/Additive ingredients made up 27 percent of conventional bread ingredients versus only 10 percent and 7 percent in “natural” and organic bread, respectively.
40: Percentage increase in levels of some nutrients (including vitamin C, zinc and iron) found in organic produce compared with conventional produce.
58: Percentage increase of polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease) in organically grown berries and corn compared with conventionally grown berries and corn.
52: Percentage increase in levels of vitamin C in organically grown berries and corn compared with conventionally grown berries and corn.
8.5: Percentage increase in total antioxidant activity in organic strawberries compared with conventional berries, including 9.7% more ascorbic acid, and 10.5% more total phenolics.
10 Times: The amount of eriocitrin (an antioxidant) contained in a glass of organic lemonade compared with a glass of its conventional counterpart.
3 times: The amount the flavonoid eriocitrin contained in organic lime juice compared with conventional lime juice.

Sources:
State of Science Review: Elevating Antioxidant Levels in …
EU-funded Quality Low Input Food Project Indicates Signif…
Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawb…
The Impact of Organic Farming on Quality of Tomatoes Is A…
Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conve…
A Metabolomic Approach Differentiates between Conventiona…
State of Science Review: Nutritional Superiority of Organ…
Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, The Soil …
State of Science Review: New Evidence Confirms the Nutrit…
A Comparison of Carotenoid Content and Total Antioxidant …
Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients,…
Grains: An In-Depth Study, The Organic Center 
Organic Fruit and Vegetables Really Are Better for Your H…
Organic Food is More Nutritious than Conventional Food, J…
First Step: Organic Food and a Healthier Future, The Orga…

J.A. Yanez et al., “Pharmacokinetics of Selected Chiral Flavonoids: Hesperetin, Naringenin, and Eriodictyol in Rats and their Content in Fruit Juices,” Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition, Vol. 29, pp. 63-82, September 2007

Compiled by Zack Kaldveer, assistant media director for the Organic Consumers Association.


Leave a comment

For Your Health: Organic versus Non-Organic

  • Organic Index 11.20.13             Organic Consumers Association, November 20, 2013 
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA’s  All About Organics page , our  Myth of Natural page and our  Genetic Engineering page . 

Consumer demand for healthy, sustainably grown food has grown the organic market from just $1 billion in 1990 to nearly $30 billion today. Increasingly, consumers are saying “No” to foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), “No” to highly processed junk foods, and “No” to foods that come from factory farms.

Health tops the list of concerns about GMOs, junk foods and food from factory farms. But consumers aren’t just rejecting these foods because of their potential to cause health problems. They’re consciously choosing organic for its nutritional superiority

The health safety benefits of organic foods are well known. For the most part, organic farming prohibits the use of toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, nanoparticles, climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers like toxic sewage sludge or coal waste, and genetically engineered ingredients. 

But recent studies reveal that organic foods, especially raw or non-processed, are also substantially more nutritious. They contain higher levels of beta carotenevitamins C, Dand E, health-promoting polyphenols, cancer-fighting antioxidants,flavonoids that help ward off heart disease, essential fatty acids, essential minerals, and significantly lower levels of saturated fats.


A Nutritional Comparison: Organic Versus Non-Organic

Organically grown apples, potatoes, pears, wheat, and sweet corn have drastically higher nutritional content than their conventionally grown counterparts, including:

63: Percent more calcium.
78: Percent more chromium. 
73: Percent more iron. 
118: Percent more magnesium. 
178: Percent more molybdenum. 
91: Percent more phosphorus. 
125: Percent more potassium. 
60: Percent more zinc.
Between 20 and 40: Additional percentage of nutrients found in organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce compared with their conventional counterparts. 
40: Additional percentage of antioxidants contained in organic fruit and vegetables compared with non-organic. 
30: Percentage increase in levels of flavonoids contained in organic vegetables compared with conventionally grown produce.
25: Average percentage organic foods are more nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals than products derived from industrial agriculture. 
55: Additional percentage of vitamin C contained in organic tomatoes at the stage of commercial maturity, compared with conventional tomatoes. 
79 and 97: Percentage increase in levels of quercetin and kaempferol, both flavonoids, in organic tomatoes compared with conventional tomatoes. A10-year study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry compared organic tomatoes with standard produce and found that organic tomatoes had almost double the quantity of antioxidants.
139:
 Additional percentage of phenolic content (associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer) contained in organic tomatoes at the stage of commercial maturity, compared with conventional tomatoes. 
57: Additional percentage of lycopene (considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers, particularly prostate cancer) contained in organic ketchup with conventional national brands. 
50: Percentage increase in levels of antioxidants in organic ketchup compared with conventional major national brands. 
30: Average percentage increase in levels of resveratrol (antioxidant linked to reduce risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease) found in organic red grapes compared with conventionally grown red grapes.
49: Average percentage of whole food ingredients contained in organic breads, versus 24 percent in “natural” bread and only 12 percent in conventional bread. Preservative/Additive ingredients made up 27 percent of conventional bread ingredients versus only 10 percent and 7 percent in “natural” and organic bread, respectively. 
40: Percentage increase in levels of some nutrients (including vitamin C, zinc and iron) found in organic produce compared with conventional produce. 
58: Percentage increase of polyphenols (antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease) in organically grown berries and corn compared with conventionally grown berries and corn.
52: Percentage increase in levels of vitamin C in organically grown berries and corn compared with conventionally grown berries and corn. 
8.5: Percentage increase in total antioxidant activity in organic strawberries compared with conventional berries, including 9.7% more ascorbic acid, and 10.5% more total phenolics.
10 Times: The amount of eriocitrin (an antioxidant) contained in a glass of organic lemonade compared with a glass of its conventional counterpart. 
3 times: The amount the flavonoid eriocitrin contained in organic lime juice compared with conventional lime juice.

Sources:
State of Science Review: Elevating Antioxidant Levels in …
EU-funded Quality Low Input Food Project Indicates Signif…
Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawb…
The Impact of Organic Farming on Quality of Tomatoes Is A…
Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conve…
A Metabolomic Approach Differentiates between Conventiona…
State of Science Review: Nutritional Superiority of Organ…
Organic Farming, Food Quality and Human Health, The Soil …
State of Science Review: New Evidence Confirms the Nutrit…
A Comparison of Carotenoid Content and Total Antioxidant …  
Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients,…
Grains: An In-Depth Study, The Organic Center 
Organic Fruit and Vegetables Really Are Better for Your H…
Organic Food is More Nutritious than Conventional Food, J…
First Step: Organic Food and a Healthier Future, The Orga…

J.A. Yanez et al., “Pharmacokinetics of Selected Chiral Flavonoids: Hesperetin, Naringenin, and Eriodictyol in Rats and their Content in Fruit Juices,” Biopharmaceutics Drug Disposition, Vol. 29, pp. 63-82, September 2007

Compiled by Zack Kaldveer, assistant media director for the Organic Consumers Association.


source: www.organicconsumers.org