Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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Top 10 Healthiest New Year’s Resolutions

This year, pick one of these worthy resolutions, and stick with it. Here’s to your health!

New Year, healthier you

New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: They’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain.

Each January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way. A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. While about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later, a 2002 study found.

It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm months after you’ve swept up the confetti, but it’s not impossible. This year, pick one of the following worthy resolutions, and stick with it. Here’s to your health!

Lose weight

The fact that this is perennially among the most popular resolutions suggests just how difficult it is to commit to. But you can succeed if you don’t expect overnight success. “You want results yesterday, and desperation mode kicks in,” says Pam Peeke, MD, author of Body for Life for Women. “Beware of the valley of quickie cures.”

Also, plan for bumps in the road. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and have a support system in place. “Around week four to six…people become excuse mills,” Dr. Peeke says. “That’s why it’s important to have someone there on a regular basis to get you through those rough times.”

Stay in touch

Feel like old friends (or family) have fallen by the wayside? It’s good for your health to reconnect with them. Research suggests people with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t.

In fact, a lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as alcohol abuse and smoking, and even more than obesity and lack of exercise, a 2010 study in the journal PLoS Medicine suggests.

In a technology-fixated era, it’s never been easier to stay in touch—or rejuvenate your relationship—with friends and family, so fire up Facebook and follow up with in-person visits.

Quit smoking

Fear that you’ve failed too many times to try again? Talk to any ex-smoker, and you’ll see that multiple attempts are often the path to success.

Try different methods to find out what works. And think of the cash you’ll save! (We know you know the ginormous health benefit.)

“It’s one of the harder habits to quit,” says Merle Myerson, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program at St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, in New York City. “But I always tell people to think of how much money they will save.”

Save money

Save money by making healthy lifestyle changes. Walk or ride your bike to work, or explore carpooling. (That means more money in your pocket and less air pollution.)

Cut back on gym membership costs by exercising at home. Many fitness programs on videogame systems like Nintendo’s Wii Wii Fit Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect Your Shape Fitness Evolved can get you sweating.

Take stock of what you have in the fridge and make a grocery list. Aimless supermarket shopping can lead to poor choices for your diet and wallet.


Cut your stress

A little pressure now and again won’t kill us; in fact, short bouts of stress give us an energy boost. But if stress is chronic, it can increase your risk of—or worsen—insomnia, depression, obesity, heart disease, and more.

Long work hours, little sleep, no exercise, poor diet, and not spending time with family and friends can contribute to stress, says Roberta Lee, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City, and the author of The Super Stress Solution.

“Stress is an inevitable part of life,” she says. “Relaxation, sleep, socializing, and taking vacations are all things we tell ourselves we deserve but don’t allow ourselves to have.”


We tend to think our own bliss relies on bettering ourselves, but our happiness also increases when we help others, says Peter Kanaris, PhD, coordinator of public education for the New York State Psychological Association.

And guess what? Happiness is good for your health. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions were about 20% less likely than their gloomier peers to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. Other research suggests that positive emotions can make people more resilient and resourceful.

“Someone who makes this sort of resolution is likely to obtain a tremendous personal benefit in the happiness department,” Kanaris says.

Go back to school

No matter how old you are, heading back to the classroom can help revamp your career, introduce you to new friends, and even boost your brainpower.

A 2007 study found that middle-age adults who had gone back to school (including night school) sometime in the previous quarter century had stronger memories and verbal skills than those who did not. What’s more, several studies have linked higher educational attainment to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“You are gaining a sense of accomplishment by gaining new knowledge, and you are out there meeting people and creating possibilities that were never there before,” Kanaris says.

Cut back on alcohol

While much has been written about the health benefits of a small amount of alcohol, too much tippling is still the bigger problem. (In fact, binge drinking seems to be on the rise.)

Drinking alcohol in excess affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and can increase the risk of depression, memory loss, or even seizures.

Chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and mental deterioration, and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.

Get more sleep

You probably already know that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood—and appearance. But sleep is more beneficial to your health than you might realize.

A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. And sleep is crucial for strengthening memories (a process called consolidation).

So take a nap—and don’t feel guilty about it.


The joys and rewards of vacations can last long after the suitcase is put away. “We can often get stuck in a rut, and we can’t get out of our own way,” Kanaris says. “Everything becomes familiar and too routine.”

But traveling allows us to tap into life as an adventure, and we can make changes in our lives without having to do anything too bold or dramatic.

“It makes you feel rejuvenated and replenished,” he adds. “It gets you out of your typical scenery, and the effects are revitalizing. It’s another form of new discovery and learning, and great for the body and the soul.”

by Alyssa Sparacino


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Why This Cardiologist Recommends Probiotics For Heart Health

There’s no doubt that when the hottest topics in medicine for 2014 are compiled, the microbiome will be on everybody’s short list. This mass of bacteria has fascinated the nation and filled headlines. The fact that we have perhaps 100 trillion bacteria living in our bodies, estimated to be 10 times the number of cells in our body; the fact that our bacteria weigh at least 5 pounds; the fact that the Human Microbiome Project is completing an analysis of every bacteria in test subjects; all have become almost matter of fact.

For most of my years of practice, the gut and the heart seemed remote. However, the view that systems of the body don’t function alone, but interact in a complex, interconnected web — the foundation of functional medicine — has gained favor. In the last few years I’ve recommended foods and supplements containing probiotics to my heart patients, and the science is demonstrating important benefits to support this.

Here are seven conditions probiotics may help improve:

1. Congestive heart failure

In a study about to be published, 20 patients with this serious disorder were treated with S. boulardii-containing supplements or placebo. Improvements in heart function and a reduction in cholesterol and inflammatory markers were seen in the group treated with probiotics.

2. High cholesterol levels

A number of studies indicate that one of the benefits of a healthier GI tract is a lower blood cholesterol level. A recent analysis of the published data found important support for this observation, and I’ve seen similar improvements in patients I have treated.


3. Low vitamin D levels

A benefit of probiotic therapy and a healthier gut is an increase in vitamin D levels in the serum, which has proven essential in heart function.

4. Blood pressure

An analysis of nine studies using probiotics found a reduction in blood pressure compared to placebo. This was particularly true when therapy was continued for over eight weeks with more potent preparations.

5. Diabetes mellitus

Although more studies are needed, improved glucose control and lower measures of inflammation have been seen when probiotics are administered to patients with diabetes.

6. Anxiety

I spend a fair amount of time counseling cardiac patients on measures to manage anxiety and use adaptogens and other nutraceuticals. Data are highlighting the role of the gut in neural pathways to the brain impacting mood and psychological state. Preliminary studies indicate improved mood in subjects given probiotics.

7. Obesity

I see the obesity epidemic in my clinic every day, and excess weight identifies individuals at higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Early work suggests that probiotics may make weight loss and management more successful.

It has long been said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and that somewhat dated truth may be prophetic. The updated version is “through his or her microbiome.”

It’s becoming clear that optimal heart health requires optimal GI health, with avoidance of unnecessary antibiotics by prescription and from food sources, along with avoiding excesses of alcohol, sugar, trans fats, and perhaps genetically modified foods. Leighton Meester offered the advice to “Follow your gut and your heart. You’ll almost always make the right choice.” In my cardiology clinic it now appears that the advice is pretty much the same.

by Dr. Joel Kahn   December 24, 2014 

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The Healthiest Mushrooms

Certain fungi are potent disease fighters and a wise addition to your diet. Though some are more effective than others, we’ve sorted out which mushrooms pack the most powerful – and healthy – punch.

White button mushrooms: Studies have shown that this popular mushroom has been effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer in both animal and human cells. Not getting enough? Nix the chips or crackers for dips, and try using white button mushrooms to dip instead. They’re the perfect bite-sized substitution and can be easily found at any grocery store.

Crimini mushrooms: These mini-Portobello mushrooms have a delicious meaty flavor. If you’re trying to lose weight, blending crimini mushrooms with ground turkey is a great way to cut half the fat without losing taste. The high-fiber mushroom mixture works well for any meat-based dish — tacos, meat sauce, hamburgers and more.

Maitake mushrooms: Loaded with antioxidants and potassium, these hearty mushrooms have been known to lower the risks of high blood pressure and stroke. Also known as “Hen of the Woods,” Maitake mushrooms have a nutty, woodsy flavor that’s perfect for soups and sides. You can even drink them! There are mushroom-based coffees that taste the same as the regular stuff, but are packed with Maitake’s disease-fighting nutrients.



8 Types of Mushrooms and Their Health Benefits

There are many types of mushrooms that offer a long list of health benefits. Mushrooms are an odd looking group that goes by the name of fungi pronounced, fun gee or fun guy. Essentially it is neither a plant nor an animal it is a fungus, hence the group name. Although mushrooms may not be a number one menu favorite you may think twice about pushing them aside during your next encounter.
Note: If you have gout do not eat mushrooms.
White Mushroom for Weight Loss and Prostate Cancer Prevention- This category includes the familiar button mushroom, cremini and the Portobello. The white mushroom has a special carbohydrate that stokes the metabolic fire and maintains blood sugar levels. A strong metabolism means more burned fat. Three ounces per day for four to six weeks has been said to yield substantial weight loss (this does not mean that exercise and healthy eating is not required). These mushrooms are also high in selenium which not only aids weight loss but is showing to have positive effects on prostate cancer.
Shiitake Can Fight Tumors- These flavorful, meaty mushrooms contain lentinan which is a natural anti-tumor compound. It has been developed by the Japanese into a beneficial anti-cancer treatment. In turn, it is an excellent source of vitamin D and fighting infection. Four to five ounces per day is recommended.
Reishi: The Super Anti-‘Shroom- This mushroom that looks like a large brown and white flower made of wood, has the following properties: anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. In addition, reishi mushrooms contain gandodermic acid which helps reduce cholesterol which in turn can lower high blood pressure. A few ounces per day is a good addition to a meal.
Maitake Mushrooms for Breast Cancer- A half of a cup per day of maitake mushrooms is said to be able to sweep the system, find abnormal cells and cause them to self-destruct. At the same time, these trumpeting bushels can trigger the body to release killer immune system cells.
Oysters for HIV – Oyster mushrooms are being studied as a possible defense against HIV. Due to its high anti-oxidant compounds, these mushrooms can be a life saving ingredient.
Chanterelle: The Other Anti ‘Shroom – Looking like a single mini-trumpet this mushroom has been associated with anti-microbial, bacterial and fungal properties. They are also high in vitamin C, D and potassium.
Porcini for Anti-Inflammation- A meaty mushroom similar to the Portabello has been used as a successful anti-inflammatory. It contains the compound ergosterol which is capable of cytotoxicity which is the process of attacking enemy cells.
Shimeji Fights Tumors Asthma and More- These are the tiny capped, long stemmed species that can be found in many Asian soups or as a garnish. Be sure and pay close attention to this one as it contains beta-glucans. According to the National Cancer Institute of Japan this compound is a successful remedy for retarding and destroying growing tumors. Shimeji mushrooms can also help diabetes, asthma and certain allergies by enhancing the immune system and boosting its healing capabilities.


8 Chores With Unexpected Scientific Health Benefits

Why washing dishes, making your bed, dusting, and other common chores can lower stress, boost happiness, and protect against heart disease. You’ll never look at your To-Do list the same way again.

Wash dishes: Reduce anxiety

People who cleaned their plates mindfully (they focused on smelling the soap, feeling the water temperature, and touching the dishes) lowered their nervousness levels by 27 percent, found a recent study of 51 people out of Florida State University’s psychology department. People who didn’t take as thoughtful approach to their dish washing did not experience a similar calming benefit.

Dust with a lemon cleaner: Be happier

A citrusy scent is a potent mood booster, according to a 2014 Japanese study. When participants spent as little as ten minutes inhaling yuzu (a super-tart and citrusy Japanese fruit), they saw a significant decrease in their overall mood disturbance, a measure of tension, anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue and anger, PureWow recently reported.

iStock/petek arici

Make your bed every morning: Boost productivity

Your nagging mom was right: Starting your day with a freshly made bed is what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit”; one that has a ripple effect to create other good behavior. In his book, Duhigg notes that making your bed every morning is linked to better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking to a budget. Bedmakers also report getting a better night’s sleep than those who leave their covers messy in the morning, per a National Sleep Foundation poll reported by WebMD.

Clean up your yard: Prevent a heart attack

Need motivation to break out the vacuum cleaner? People who did the most yard work, housecleaning, and DIY projects had a nearly 30 percent lower risk of a first-time cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke compared with those who were the most sedentary, according to a new Swedish study of 3,800 older adults.

Banish kitchen clutter: Lose weight

A recent study showed that people with super-cluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. The likely reason: It’s harder to make healthy food choices in a chaotic kitchen. Organizing guru Peter Walsh, author of Cut the Clutter, Drop the Pounds, has been inside of hundreds of people’s homes. He says once people get finally get organized, they tend to experience a number of other unexpected perks, including weight loss, without strict dieting!

Mow the lawn: Feel more joyful

There’s something to that grassy scent. Australian researchers discovered that a chemical released by freshly cut grass makes people feel more relaxed and more joyful.

Grow flowers and vegetables: Lower depression risk

In a study out of Norway, people diagnosed with different forms of depression spent six hours a week gardening; after a few months, they experienced a notable improvement in their depression symptoms, and their good moods continued for months after the study ended. Doing a new activity and being outside in nature can certainly help, but some experts believe that dirt itself might be a depression fighter, according to Health.com. Christopher Lowry, PhD, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been injected mice with a common, harmless bacteria found in the soil. He’s found that they experience an increase in the “release and metabolism of serotonin in parts of the brain that control cognitive function and mood, much like serotonin-boosting antidepressant drugs do,” the site reported.

Share chores with your spouse: Have a better sex life

When men perceived their contribution to household chores as fair, couples have more frequent and satisfying sex, according to a 2015 study from the University of Alberta. “If a partner isn’t pulling their weight in housework, either one will have to pick up the slack, or the chores will remain undone. This will develop tension and bitterness in the relationship, which will transfer into the bedroom,” according to MedicalDaily.

By Lauren Gelman

source: www.rd.com

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8 Fascinating Things We Learned About Sleep In 2015

Scientists dove deeper into the mystery of sleep this year.

12/22/2015    Carolyn Gregoire    Senior Health & Science Writer, The Huffington Post

Turning off your devices and practicing mindfulness can help you get better sleep, research suggests.
Arianna Huffington has shared the big idea that she thinks will define 2016 — and it’s probably not what you would expect.

“Sleep. That’s right, sleep!” Huffington wrote in a Dec. 16 blog post. “How much and how well we sleep in the coming year — and the years to follow — will determine, in no small measure, our ability to address and solve the problems we’re facing as individuals and as a society.”

As more individuals wake up to the importance of sleep, scientists are continuing to learn more about the mechanics of sleep and the necessity of a good night’s rest for physical and mental health, productivity, cognitive function, psychological well-being and longevity.

These major findings in the field of sleep research provide a fascinating glimpse into the role of sleep in our lives — and represent an important step toward addressing sleep deprivation.

Here are eight of the most important things we learned about the science of sleep this year.

1. Smartphones are messing with our sleep.

One-third of Americans check their phones within five minutes of going to bed, according to a recent survey — and that’s bad news for their sleep.

If you’re among the 71 percent of Americans who sleep with or next to their smartphones, know this: A study published in January in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that using light-emitting electronic devices before bedtime can cause it to take longer to fall asleep, suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, delay the circadian clock and increase next-day drowsiness. Yikes!

2. Sleep is critical to emotional intelligence.

Skimping on sleep doesn’t just make you feel crappy — it also makes you more likely to be insensitive to the needs of others.

A University of California, Berkeley study published in July in the Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep loss significantly hindered participants’ ability to accurately read the emotions of others — a key component of emotional intelligence.

“This is especially concerning considering that almost two-thirds of people in developed nations fail to get sufficient sleep,” study author Matthew Walker told The Huffington Post. “The real-life implications become clear when you consider professional and societal circumstances where sleep deprivation is common — be it doctors and medical staff, military personnel or new parents. The accurate identification and recognition of emotional signals, as well as the need to be guided by them, is utterly critical.”

“Almost two-thirds of people in developed nations fail to get sufficient sleep.”

On the bright side, the researchers found that dreaming actually boosts an individual’s ability to accurately read facial expressions.

3. Mindfulness can help you fall (and stay) asleep.

Meditation is known to lower stress levels, lessen feelings of anxiety and depression, and trigger the body’s “relaxation response,” so perhaps it should come as no surprise that it can also help you get a good night’s sleep.

University of Southern California psychologists found that a six-week course of mindfulness meditation improved sleep quality for older adults who had trouble falling and staying asleep and who felt sleepy during the day. After the six weeks concluded, the participants fell asleep faster, woke up less often during the night and experienced less daytime sleepiness.


4. Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help.

Sleeping pills aren’t the only option for people experiencing insomnia. A large-scale review of studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in August suggested that talking to a therapist should be a first line of defense when it comes to treating insomnia.

Analyzing data from more than 1,162 study participant with sleep issues, the researchers found that cognitive behavioral therapy improved sleep efficiency by nearly 10 percent. Moreover, patients who underwent CBT fell asleep 19 minutes earlier and slept for an average of 7.6 minutes longer than those who did not.

“One major advantage is that [cognitive therapy] involves teaching skills to patients that they can then maintain lifelong and use whenever symptoms recur,” researcher James Trauer of the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre wrote in the study.

5. The brain’s circadian clock has a “reset” button.

For the first time, neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University found a potential way to control the brain’s master “circadian clock,” which is responsible for maintaining a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. By activating a certain group of genetically altered, light-sensitive neurons in the brain with a beam of light, the researchers were able to manipulate neurons in such a way that the body’s internal circadian rhythms shifted.

The discovery of this “reset” button represents a promising first step towards more effective pharmaceutical treatments for seasonal affective disorder, jet lag and sleep issues associated with shift work.

6. Sleep helps us access our memories.

We’ve long known that when the mind is at rest, the brain is busy consolidating and storing memories. A new study from the University of Exeter in England showed that sleeping not only helps us to store our memories, but also enables us to better access them.

“Sleep almost doubles our chances of remembering previously unrecalled material.”

The researchers found that after sleeping, we’re more likely to recall facts that we couldn’t remember while still awake.

“Sleep almost doubles our chances of remembering previously unrecalled material,” study author Nicolas Dumay said in a statement. “The post-sleep boost in memory accessibility may indicate that some memories are sharpened overnight.”

7. Early humans’ sleep patterns probably weren’t so different from ours.

When you imagine how our ancestors slept, you might think they got way more sleep before the days of smartphones and electricity.

But the idea that modern life is ruining sleep is nothing more than a myth, says UCLA sleep researcher Jerome Siegel. Siegel found that people living in traditional cultures (such as hunter-gatherers from Tanzania and Namibia who are not exposed to the trappings of modern society) sleep about 7 to 8.5 hours per night — roughly the same amount that people in modern societies do.
However, one major difference between traditional and modern sleep patterns did emerge. For individuals living in traditional cultures, insomnia and sleep disruptions were almost nonexistent, whereas these afflictions were common for those living in modern cultures.

8. Good sleep can keep your memory strong and ward off Alzheimer’s.

Scientists continue uncovering more and more evidence of the critical role of sleep in memory. A new study from the University of California, Berkeley showed that poor sleep can contribute to memory problems and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. How? Sleep contributes to a toxic accumulation of beta-amyloid — a protein known to trigger Alzheimer’s — in the brain.

“Over the past few years, the links between sleep, beta-amyloid, memory, and Alzheimer’s disease have been growing stronger,” Berkeley neuroscientist William Jagust, who is one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “Our study shows that this beta-amyloid deposition may lead to a vicious cycle in which sleep is further disturbed and memory impaired.”

These and other findings suggest that prioritizing sleep may be one of the best things we can all do to keep our minds sharp and prevent Alzheimer’s.


Is Yogurt the Secret to Happiness?

Recent research reveals fascinating new connections between gut and brain — and yogurt’s mood-boosting abilities.

Scientists have long known that the brain sends signals to the gut, a process that reveals why stress, for example, can express itself through gastrointestinal symptoms. But it wasn’t until 2013, when researchers at the UCLA uncovered the first evidence that the signal can go the other way as well: from gut to brain.

By studying a group of women who regularly ate yogurt — and with it, the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics — they found that ingested bacteria in food can affect human brain function, effectively altering the way the brain responds to the environment. Specifically, the researchers found that the bacteria in yogurt may help relieve anxiety and stress by reducing activity in the insula, the region of the brain responsible for emotion.

“Many of us have a container of yogurt in our refrigerator that we may eat for enjoyment, for calcium or because we think it might help our health in other ways,” said Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine in the digestive diseases division at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “When we consider the implications of this work, the old sayings ‘you are what you eat’ and ‘gut feelings’ take on new meaning.”

The study is just one of many that comprise a growing body of research examining how gut flora, and the fermented foods that contain it, such as yogurt, impacts mood. Since 2008, when the U.S. National Institutes of Health launched the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year initiative to identify and characterize the microorganisms in both healthy and diseased humans, “the profound appreciation for the influence of such organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year,” writes Peter Andrey Smith in a New York Times Magazine article in June.

These helpful bacteria like probiotics do a lot for us, from extracting energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates and increasing the growth of intestinal epithelial cells to synthesizing vitamins and suppressing the growth of pathogens.

Now a new study recently published in the journal Food Research International indicates that there may be other, completely different reasons why yogurt has the power to make us happy, and it has to do with the way expectation impacts mood and possibly even scent.

Conducted by a team of European researchers from Finland, Austria and the Netherlands, the study found that eating vanilla yogurt made people feel happy. Specifically, eating vanilla yogurt resulted in the study’s participants projecting more positive emotions than when they ate other flavors. Additionally, yogurts with less fat gave people a stronger positive emotional response, while yogurts with different fruits did not have much difference in their effect on emotions.

The researchers also found that liking or being familiar with a product had no effect on a person’s emotion. But most tellingly, what did affect mood was how they felt after eating the yogurt compared to what they expected to feel before eating it. In other words, their moods were influenced by their expectation — either being pleasantly surprised or disappointed after eating the food in question.


“We were looking for a valid, quick and not too expensive and time-consuming method to measure the emotions or mood changes evoked by food,” said Jozina Mojet from Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands, lead author of the study. “This sort of implicit method can reveal the complex interactions between the different factors involved in a situation, which, based on his or her memory and expectations, is given meaning by the person under investigation.”

In addition, the strong positive emotional response elicited by eating vanilla yogurt supports earlier evidence that “a subtle vanilla scent in places like hospital waiting rooms can reduce aggression and encourage relationships among patients and between patients and staff,” according to the study’s press release.

To determine the effect of different yogurts on mood, the researchers exposed 24 subjects to a pair of yogurts of the same brand and marketed in the same way, but with different flavors or fat content. They used various analytical methods in the study, including tracking the subjects’ eye movements as they looked at the packaging, reading their faces while they ate the yogurt and a mood-based autobiographical reaction time test.

Notably, the researchers also used a new emotive projection test (EPT), in which study participants were shown photographs of other people and asked to rate them on six positive and six negative traits. “The idea behind the test is that people project their emotions onto their perception of others, so their judgment of others can indicate their own mood,” writes Lucy Goodchild van Hilten, senior marketing communications manager for life sciences at Elsevier, the publisher of Food Research International.

“We were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, we could get information about products independent from whether people like them,” said Jozina Mojet, lead author of the study. “This kind of information could be very valuable to product manufacturers, giving them a glimpse into how we subconsciously respond to a product.”

The study supports the findings of an earlier study by researchers at University College London that lower expectations lead to a greater level of happiness.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” said Robb Rutledge, the study’s lead author. “We find that there is some truth to this — lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

‘Our computational model suggests momentary happiness is a state that reflects not how well things are going but instead whether things are going better than expected,” write the study’s authors.

Could eating yogurt and lowering expectations help to combat depression? While more research is needed, these studies suggest the answer is yes. In the meantime, for a quick and easy mood booster that’s also safe and healthy, try some vanilla yogurt. And try not to expect too much out of it.

By Reynard Loki / AlterNet December 15, 2015

Reynard Loki is AlterNet’s environment and food editor. Follow him on Twitter @reynardloki. Email him at reynard@alternet.org.

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13 Health Benefits of Oranges

“Orange strengthens your emotional body, encouraging a general feeling of joy, well-being, and cheerfulness.” – Tae Yun Kim

Who doesn’t love a delicious and juicy orange as a snack? They are popular with athletes because they can be easily eaten for a burst of energy. I enjoy eating one or two oranges a day most of the year for that same energy-boosting effect.

13 Health Benefits of Oranges:

1. Helps Prevent Cancer
Oranges are rich in citrus limonoids, proven to help fight a number of varieties of cancer including that of the skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.

2. Prevents Kidney Diseases
Drinking orange juice regularly prevents kidney diseases and reduces the risk of kidney stones.

Note: drink juice in moderate amounts. The high sugar content of fruit juices can cause tooth decay and the high acid content can wear away enamel if consumed in excess.

3. Reduces Risk of Liver Cancer 
According to two studies in Japan eating mandarin oranges reduces liver cancer. This may be due in part to vitamin A compounds known as carotenoids.

4. Lowers Cholesterol
Since they’re full of soluble fiber, oranges are helpful in lowering cholesterol.

5. Boosts Heart Health
Oranges are full of potassium, an electrolyte mineral is responsible for helping the heart function well. When potassium levels get too low, you may develop an abnormal heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia.


6. Lowers Risk of Disease
Oranges are full of vitamin C which protects cells by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.

7. Fights Against Viral Infections 
Studies show that the abundance of polyphenols in oranges protects against viral infections.

8. Relieves Constipation
Oranges are full of dietary fiber which stimulates digestive juices and relieves constipation.

9. Helps Create Good Vision
Oranges are rich in carotenoid compounds which are converted to vitamin A and help prevent macular degeneration.

10. Regulates High Blood Pressure
The flavonoid hesperidin found in oranges helps regulate high blood pressure and the magnesium in oranges helps maintain blood pressure.

11. Protects Skin
Oranges are full of beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant protecting the cells from being damage which also protects the skin from free radicals and prevents the signs of aging.

12. Oranges Alkalize the Body
Although oranges are acidic before you digest them, they contain many alkaline minerals that help to balance out the body after they are digested. In this respect, they are similar to lemons which are one of the most alkaline foods available.

13.  Provides Smart Carbs:
Oranges like all fruits have simple sugars in them, but the orange has a glycemic index of 40.  Anything under 55 is considered low. This means as long as you don’t eat a lot of oranges at one time, they won’t spike your blood sugar and cause problems with insulin or weight gain.

by Diana Herrington