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Blog posts tagged with 'Well-Being'

Easily Accessible Mediterranean Diet Can Impact Your Health

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Easily Accessible Mediterranean Diet Can Impact Your HealthMetabolic syndrome is defined in the medical community as having three or more risk-related factors that can contribute to a variety of heart and blood sugar concerns. Some risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high glucose levels. Due to many elements such as a lack of exercise, poor diet, and genetics it is estimated that as many as 34% of adults in the US may have metabolic syndrome. However, what if there was a particular diet that could reverse the progression of these risk factors? A recent study in Spain sought to find the answer.

A Dive Into the Mediterranean

Prior studies on the Mediterranean diet have confirmed its positive benefits to cholesterol health and blood pressure, but researchers wanted to see how great an impact this diet could have on people already at risk with metabolic syndrome. The team of researchers analyzed adults, both men and women, ages 55–80 who were at risk for cardiovascular concerns. A total of 64% of the adults assessed for the study qualified as having metabolic syndrome. The subjects were then put onto one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, or a regular low-fat diet.

Following up after almost five years, the results showed that the patients who adhered to both types of Mediterranean diets saw a decrease in blood glucose levels as well as abdominal obesity. A total of 28.2% of the men and women who followed the Mediterranean diets also no longer met the criteria to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome at the end of the study period.

Add the Olive Oil and the Legumes

The Mediterranean diet eschews butters, trans fats, saturated fats, and unhealthy oils in favor of olive oils, omega fatty acids, and unsaturated fats. As one would expect, it also centers around a reduction in meat intake, replacing it with seafood—especially fish that are high in omegas such as salmon and tuna—at least twice a week. However, poultry, eggs, and dairy can also be consumed for meat and protein requirements. The Mediterranean diet also covers other nutrition groups by calling for high fruit and vegetable consumption.

For some people, the tricky part of the Mediterranean diet is getting the good fat content. Luckily, you can satisfy this part in a variety of ways. Apart from olive oil there are a number of foods that provide good fats including avocados, whole grains, nuts, and other various legumes.

An Easier Path Than You Think

Some may think that switching to a Mediterranean diet means having to use exotic ingredients for their meals that are both expensive and restrictive. Many of the foods required to follow this diet, however, are readily available in your grocery store—all you need to do is make a few crucial, yet simple, substitutions which will allow you to enjoy many tasty, healthy meals. And because there are actually many foods containing the good fats and nutrients required, the Mediterranean allows for plenty of variety and experimentation. Evidence continues to mount about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, so while many can get sucked into fad and crash diets, the Mediterranean diet can be a nutritious and fulfilling option out there to help support not only a healthy heart, but greater well-being.

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You and Your Dirty Phone

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You and Your Dirty PhoneAccording to a United Nations report, 6 billion of the estimated 7 billion people in the world use cell phones. With the increasing use of cell phones as a means of staying connected to people and information, more and more individuals are constantly touching their phones throughout the day—and coming into contact with bacteria.

How Your Phone Relates to Health


A recent study sought to look at just what type of bacteria can collect on a typical phone from daily use. Taking samples of 17 people’s smartphone touchscreens as well as their index fingertips and thumbs, researchers discovered more than 7,000 different types of bacteria between all of the samples taken. Unsurprisingly, the individual microbes on each person’s phone closely matched the ones on that individual’s fingers.

“This study confirms that we share more than an emotional connection with our phones—they carry our personal microbiome,” said the study researchers in the June 24 issue of the journal, PeerJ. The term microbiome refers to each person’s unique set of microorganisms that reside in the skin, saliva, and gastrointestinal tract. Over time, your body has adapted to having these bacteria, so there’s no cause for alarm to find such bacteria on personal items such as phones, especially since the average person checks their phone up to 150 times per day.

The close relationship you share with your phone may even make it possible one day to use them as a way to monitor the bacteria you are exposed to in the environment. For example, your phone could be screened before or after entering a medical facility to see if you are bringing dangerous pathogens in or out, according to James Meadow, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon.

Protect Your Phone, Protect Your Well-Being

Just as you are capable of picking up microorganisms from the environment, so too can your phone. “Phones may carry bacteria that we pick up from being outside, or from touching surfaces or other people,” said Meadow. Some bacteria don’t integrate into your microbiome and further research is needed to understand how they affect health.

To help limit the amount of bacteria that may spread between you and your phone, practice the same hygiene habits with your phone as you would your own hands. For example, don’t let your phone come into contact with uncooked food or other unclean surfaces. Wipe it down regularly with an alcohol-free disinfectant wipe because alcohol rubs away the grease-repelling coating on touchscreens. Then dry it with an extra-soft cloth. Use a microfiber cloth—such as the kind used to clean sunglasses—to remove fingerprints and grease from your smartphone’s screen, and use a compressed air can to clear away crumbs and other debris that may get stuck behind buttons. This minimizes the transfer of bacteria to your face, which can cause irritation to your cheek and jawline, or even illness.

In addition to keeping your phone clean, remember to keep your hands clean as well through frequent handwashing. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands under running water with soap for at least 20 seconds to kill germs effectively.

Make Hygiene a Habit

Everyone’s immune system reacts differently to certain environments, and Meadows advises that bacteria on smartphones and the body are not necessarily something to worry about. But good hygiene is something to be practiced for good health, especially if you feel ill often or have a low immune system. Just because you can’t see germs and bacteria on cell phones, door hands, or keyboards it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. By practicing good hygiene, daily immune system support can be easily integrated into your healthy lifestyle every day.

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Science Reveals Instant Mood-Boosting Techniques

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Science Reveals Instant Mood-Boosting TechniquesSeeing the brighter side of life doesn't always come easy to everyone. But what if you could trick your brain into thinking positive thoughts? According to a recent study there are several ways of accomplishing this to help support a positive mind and mood that can influence an overall healthier lifestyle.

Neutral, Duchenne and Chopsticks

Because of the close connection that the mind and body share, researchers wanted to investigate what extent physical signals from the body could influence the mind. Their study centered on smiling. It's already known that feeling good can make you react with a smile, but can forcing a smile, in-turn, make you feel good? To test this hypothesis, researcher Tara Kraft from the University of Kansas gathered 169 participants and trained the volunteers to maintain three separate facial expressions: a neutral expression, a standard smile, and a more empathetic smile called the Duchenne smile, achieved by holding chopsticks in their mouths. While only half the participants were told to smile, researchers explained that having chopsticks in their mouths forced the volunteers to smile without being aware that they were doing so. All of the subjects then participated in stress-inducing tasks such as submerging their hands in ice-cold water and tracing a star with their non-dominant hand while looking at a reflection of the shape in a mirror.

A Smile for Science

Results showed that those who were instructed to smile, (in particular, those who had the Duchenne smiles) had lower heart rates when performing the tasks than those who had neutral expressions. Even those who were unknowingly forced into smiling with the chopsticks in their mouths had a slightly lower heart rate than those who wore neutral expressions. The results, soon to be published in the journal, Psychological Science, give validity to the theory that even a forced smile positively influences the mind into a better mood and can improve other important areas such as stress and heart health. Kraft's research partner, Sarah Pressman, even suggested an everyday application to this theory. "The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment," she said.

A Pose for Positive Moods

While a smile may be the easiest way to spontaneously support a good mood there are other poses that have been shown to help support a positive frame of mind. For instance, one study showed that opening up one's body to occupy more space in what's called a "high-power pose" can have positive mental effects and alter hormone levels, too. Those who held high-power poses were more willing to gamble or take risks, pointing to a higher level of confidence and more positive frame of mind. While meditation has long been linked to promoting a sound mind and mood, a 2008 study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, sought to investigate the benefits that yoga poses have on mental well-being. The study showed that breathing mechanisms and relaxed body posture can also help clear the mind and support lower stress levels.

Taking Control of Your Moods

Maintaining a healthy mood shouldn't be thought of as some insurmountable challenge. Everyone has their ups and downs, and understanding the little things you can do throughout your day can help to provide an instant mood boost. Now that you know how powerful your smile can be, use it wisely and often!

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