Sleep as a competitive edge

 

 

sleep as a competitive edgeThe majority of us need around 7-9 hours of restorative sleep with a smaller percent of us needing less to feel fully rested. That’s the foregone conclusion of the overwhelming research on sleep.

But here’s how I frame it. Many of us don’t get enough zzz’s to function anywhere close to the top of our game. And that doesn’t matter, because what do we tell ourselves? That to be competitive, to be more successful, all we need to do is sleep one hour less to gain one more hour of productivity in the day.  But who is the beneficiary? Only a very small fraction of the population can “get away” with less-and the stars probably don’t line up that your one of them.

Sleep deprivation-A performance killer

If you want advice on sleep? Look to what the sleep experts have to say. And better yet? Someone who knows a thing or two about winning a competition.

Harvard sleep expert and professional sports team go-to-advisor on sleep, Dr. Charles Czeisler, weighs in, “Like a drunk, a person who is sleep deprived has no idea how functionally sleep-deprived, he or she truly is,” he was quoted as saying. “Most of us have forgotten what it feels like to be awake.”

You probably heard this before. If you are burning the candle at both ends, eventually you won’t stay on top of your game. According to Czeisler, if you average just 4 hours a night, day after day, your memory, cognition, problem-solving and performance speed will be just as cognitively impaired as someone who has stayed up 24 hours straight.

Take, for instance, the performance of Major League Baseball players on less than ideal sleep. According to a 1995 study, as reported in the Atlantic, if the visiting team is flown in on a red-eye, the home team scores more than 1.2 points. Back-to-backs have seen nose-dives in the performance of the NBA and other Major League teams.

More Zzzz’s? Who can benefit?

But it doesn’t take being a Major League player whose performance could benefit from more sleep. People who are chronically sleep deprived, from working long hours- including those who need to make a decision, process a new memory, or use critical thinking skills- could benefit. Research has shown that consolidation of memories specifically occurs during sleep. And, according to an MIT study, before we can transform short-term memories into long- term memories, the sleeping brain must be able to replay experiences we have had while awake.

The upshot

If today you are sleep deprived and tomorrow you need to be on “top of your game,” what’s the takeaway? Sleep expert Czeisler’s advice to the Major League players might help to explain.

On the eve of game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, Czeisler got an emergency call from the team physician of the Boston Bruins. Their game against the Vancouver Canucks was scheduled for 5 pm the next day with a team practice scheduled at 10:30 am. “Cancel the practice,” Czeisler advised. “The guys need to take a nap to perform at their best.”

Czeisler calculated that a 10.30 nap in the morning would equal a 1:30 nap in the afternoon in Boston. He also knew that memory, skill and performance speed would be affected if the team could not recoup the lost sleep.

He went on to unexpectedly advise that the team then sleep at least 9 hours the very next night after the game. Czeizler stated: “It’s the sleep after the lesson, game or event that is most important.” He went on, “Interestingly, if you don’t sleep the night after training, then if you sleep the next night and the next, you never learn.”

The night of the Stanley Cup? The Bruins ended a 39 year Stanley Cup drought with their 4:3 win. Was it a striking turnaround, or simply good sleep?

 

Bad breath, explained (and how to fix it)

Toothbrush

I’ve brushed, flossed and swooshed with mouthwash. Got on my Sunday best. Clean clothes-check. Shiny shoes-check. Ready for that business meeting or exciting new date.

STOP! Hold everything… I wonder, “Do I have bad breath?”

Blowing into your own hand won’t tell you-our bodies get used to our own odors. But eventually, someone will notice you’ve got bad breath. A friend may not say something to you, but if they step away from you when you begin to speak, it’s a clue and something you shouldn’t ignore. There might be important medical or dental issues to address.

What is Bad Breath?

Bad breath is also known as halitosis. The unpleasant odor comes from Volatile Sulfur compounds (VSC) produced as waste products by gram (-) anaerobic bacteria lurking in your mouth.  These bacteria don’t like oxygen, so they thrive in the hidden recesses such as below the gums and on the taste buds of the tongue, where there is little oxygen.  As these bacteria proliferate and the concentration of VSC’s rises, other people will begin to notice you have bad breath.

What are the causes?

Medical reasons for halitosis include:

1.       Chronic Sinusitis 2.       Lung Diseases
3.       Acid reflux 4.       Kidney disease
5.       Post nasal drip 6.       Cancer
7.       Chronic allergies 8.       Liver disease
9.       Diabetes 10.   Gallbladder dysfunction
11.   Depression 12.   Thyroid disorder
13.   Tonsillar infections 14.   Autoimmune-Sjögren’s Syndrome
15.   Tonsillar Stones 16.   Stomach-H.Pylori infection

Dental Reasons:

1.       Dental decay 2.       Dry mouth (medications, dysfunction of salivary glands, mouth breathing)
3.       Periodontitis (inflammation of gum and bone tissues) 4.       Overgrowth of Gram (-) anaerobic bacteria or yeast infections in the mouth
5.       Oral infections 6.       Improperly fitting dentures
7.       Oral cancer

Lifestyle Reasons

  1. Smoking or chewing tobacco
  2. Diet (garlic, spicy foods, onions
  3. Alcohol
  4. Stress

 

Oral products not working?

You may have tried mouthwash, rinses, sprays, various kinds of toothpaste- all to no avail or only with temporary relief. Lately, science has suggested a much more effective approach to beat bad breath.

Keep the bacteria in your mouth at bay

You’ve heard about probiotics-we often discuss it on GRWellness. Probiotics are good bacteria to fight bad bacteria. They help with digestion and things going very smoothly in terms of our bowels. But how can probiotics treat bad breath?

Probiotic strains that fight bad breath

Studies have shown that certain Probiotic strains have great potential treating halitosis by nurturing more helpful bacteria in the oral cavity. Strains such as Streptococcus salivarius (K12), Lactobacillus salivarius and Weissella cibaria can decrease undesirable bacteria and improve periodontal disease. According to the International Journal of Oral Science (2012), Weissella cibaria possess the ability to inhibit VSC production and shows potential as a novel probiotic for the oral cavity.

 

Before you begin

You won’t find probiotics for oral health in the yogurt aisle. Look instead for a chewable tablet with the species included online or at your local health food store.

Where can I learn more about probiotic species? Check out our Cliff Notes version on Probiotics here.

If you choose to get your probiotics from a supplement, keep in mind that probiotic supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The research behind them is also in the early stages.

Prevention tips:

  1. Brush and floss your teeth to remove plaque and food debris. Especially, after eating meals.
  2. Scrape the back of your tongue (also improves taste sensation).
  3. Hydrate your oral cavity by drinking plenty of water.
  4. Increase saliva with lozenges or gum
  5. For chronic dry mouth, oral products such as Biotène® may help.
  6. Discuss your medications with your doctor. Side effects of many medications can cause dry mouth.
  7. Schedule regular trips to the dentist. Go in for a cleaning every six months to remove plaque and tartar build-up. If you have periodontal or gum disease, see your dentist every three months or sooner, as directed.
  8. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Avoid sweets.
  9. Be sure to see your physician on a yearly basis for a routine physical to prevent and treat any underlying medical conditions.

 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure, treat illnesses, or prevent disease. Consult with your physician prior to taking any nutritional supplements or starting any treatment plan.

Half-Time Show Brings Discussion about Tolerance

tolerance

During the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga’s athletic performance was all about celebrating inclusion and the spirit of equality while 172 million American football fans looked on. She wanted a memorable performance at a time of national division.

But the six- time Grammy-Award winner was met with the dark side of social media. Bullying criticism about her figure began within minutes of her show.

Lady Gaga hit back with a positive message.

“I heard my body is a topic of conversation. So I wanted to say, I’m ‘proud’ of my body and you should be ‘proud’ of yours, too.”

She then went on to quote her hit ballad, “Million Reasons.”

“No matter who you are, or what you do, I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed.”

Bullying, intolerance, jealousy, hatred – it’s all out there. It’s everywhere. And more recently it has ramped up on social media with serious consequences to the health of the victims. Cyberbullies and body-shamers use social media to spout hateful hashtags and pathetic posts. This behavior can cause depression, anxiety and eating disorders, especially among teens.

Thankfully, Lady Gaga has used her experiences to help changed consciousness. Already a victim of bullying, and having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result, Gaga decided to empower young people, and inspire them to create a kinder and braver world. She launched the not-for-profit ‘Born This Way’ Foundation in 2012. Through this, she is inspiring others to seek the help and support they need to recover.

The voices of Lady Gaga, and other celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Ellen DeGeneres, Julianne Moore, Katy Perry, raise the volume so that everyone can hear the STOMP Out Bullying™ message loud and clear:

Say…

“NO to victimization, NO to anti-bullying legislation that does not work and NO to the hate and intolerance of others.” “We do say YES to choosing kindness, YES to teaching empathy, YES to accepting others NO MATTER™ what they look like, their race, their beliefs, or their sexual orientation or gender, and YES to becoming responsible and kind digital citizens.”

STOMP Out BullyingTM http://www.stompoutbullying.org

So with this in mind, here are three steps to start you thinking about how we might fight back, and help make a kinder, braver and more tolerant world.

 

  1. Challenge others to be kind

“When you judge another, you do not define them. You define yourself.” Wayne Dyer, Philosopher.

When you’re kinder to others, you are kinder to yourself. Smile at a stranger, remember to say please and thank you, and let another person go ahead of you. The more kindness you give, the more kindness you’ll get right back.

 

  1. Stand up for others

If you know someone who is being bullied, say something. Making positive change has to start somewhere. All it takes is to make a stand. Chances are, your courage will inspire others to take a stand too.

Document and report any bullying and intolerant behaviors you see to internet service providers, law enforcement, or school authorities.

 

  1. Cherish the differences

One thing of which we can be certain is that we’re all different. Whether you are interacting socially or professionally, challenge the decisions you make about others based on snippets of information – looks, stereotypes, or cultural differences.

 

Resources

The following resources are collated at the Born This Way Foundation. For more information and Resources visit the Born This Way Foundation and Stopbullying.gov.

Body Image

National Eating Disorders Association

Confidential information and referral helpline for individuals who are struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is. – Visit the National Eating Disorder (NED) website.

Substance Abuse Issues

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Searchable directory of drug and alcohol treatment programs. View the location of facilities around the country that treat alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse problems. | Visit the website.

Sexual Abuse

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

A 24-hour phone and chat service to help victims of sexual assault or abuse. 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) | Visit the website to chat with a counselor.

LGBT and Questioning

The Trevor Project

A 24-hour hotline, chatting and texting service. Trained counselors provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Visit the Trevor Project website.

Suicide Prevention

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

A 24-hour, toll-free, confidential, suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. 1-800-273-TALK . Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.    

GR Employee Assistance Program

Toll-Free crisis line, counseling, referral services, legal services, and other dedicated resources for GR employees. Visit the website on the GR intranet.

 

Lady Gaga may be an international household name, but her message started out small. Remember that courage comes from the heart and comes in all shapes and sizes. Like Gaga, let negativity be your inspiration to create positive change.

Big change starts with small actions, and it’s never too late to start. So, in the words of Lady Gaga…

“Be you. And be relentlessly you.”

Lady Gaga, 2017

 

 

Don’t forget the bouquet!…And these eight healthy ways to celebrate Valentine’s day

 

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Valentine’s day is just around the corner….still plenty of time to express your innermost feelings to someone you love. What better way to show your sweetheart what you feel for them than with a gift that will make them happy and healthier, too!

  1. ‘Forget me not’ with a basket of Blooming Daisies’s fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements. Strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes, and pineapple daisies from this basket provide a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
  2. You won’t leave your Valentine in the dust behind with this bicycle built for two. Build communication, make fitness fun, and share in the joy of riding. Become a tandem duo!
  3. Make Valentine’s Day extra sweet with the Yonanas Classic, a healthier option for a fruit-based frozen dessert and ice cream alternative.
  4. Want to win over your Valentine? Make that someone special a healthy home cooked meal. Substitute pasta for veggies using a Spiralizer. You can create spaghetti-like spiral shapes with zucchini or your favorite veggies, perfect for that anti-oxidant packed, loving meal.
  5. This Valentine’s day, toss the chocolates. Protect your loved one’s heart with a basket of dried fruits and nuts. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats protect those you love by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
  6. Pamper your sweetheart with the gift of massage. Sooth the mind, body, and spirit of your loved one this Valentine’s day.
  7. Show the little Valentine in your life how big your heart is for them with this anatomically correct heart plush. Perfect for hugging or ‘beating,’ it comes with a built-in science lesson and educational booklet.

    There’s no one like your Valentine. Write a love letter today- and mail it. The most loving thing you can do is convey by pen and paper what another means to you, from the bottom of your heart! Perfect for mother, father, a friend, or significant other this thoughtful gift creates a lasting memory.

 

Have a great Valentine’s Day!

Break Out of Your Bubble in 2017

people-on-bubble

Most of us live inside a 24/7 bubble that defines us. We listen to one news station, hang out in the small radius of our neighborhoods and dress in one style of clothes.

What if we got out of our bubble this year and resolved to interact differently with others or learn something new?

There are pragmatic benefits to learning new perspectives to call on. It helps us adapt to new situations, feeds innovations, and deepens our character. Therefore, making us more inspiring and encouraging to others. 

Here are a few tips to burst your bubble, jump start your health, and end a few 2016 woes:

1.    Bring patience to the office

Not everyone thinks exactly as you do, so it is important to understand where others are coming from.

2.    Ground yourself

Spend time with those who don’t have the same privileges as you do. Working with others who are less privileged than you, helps to produce a more sensitive and equal society.

3.    Perform small acts of kindness

Generosity and giving to others has shown to improve mental health, sense of belonging, and well-being.

4.    Expand your network

Interact with people from different cultures, walks of life, professions, and generations. It will give you a new perspective on your world.

5.    Make yourself happy

Don’t forget to focus on yourself. Take a trip, work on art, listen to music and sleep on a beach – whatever makes you happy.

6.    Find new ways to manage stress

Practice time management, reframe your problems, adjust old standards. Will today’s issue matter in one month, six months or a year from now? If the answer is no, put your energy elsewhere.

7.    Work on your mental health

Learn meditation, yoga or Tai Chi. Try something new to find out what brings you joy.

8.    Pick one new healthy habit each month

Let February be ‘eat leafy greens month’ or ‘take the stairs month.’

9.    Quit one bad habit each month

Pick one: Quit smoking, sugary foods, eating late at night… the choice is yours!

10.    Spend more time with loved ones

The key to an ideal work-life balance is organization and a calendar to schedule downtime. Be sure to plan meals together as well as excursions that are healthy, balanced, and fun!

                Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2017!

 

 

Why Go Paleo?

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Neanderthals, or cavemen, may have been hairy brutes that became extinct 40,0000 years ago.

Some think they were wiped out by climate change…

Others think they were killed off by a little romance and a candlelit dinner or two with Homo sapiens…

But whatever you think, don’t blame it on the mammoth steak…

 

AKA the CAVEMAN DIET

Once regarded as lumbering cave-dwellers on a carnivorous diet, it turns out they may not have been “so barbaric after all”. Or at least in terms of what they ate.

More recent science brings us a somewhat unexpected story about the Neanderthal diet. It turns out that the food they ate kept them healthy and fit.

At least for some 10,000 years…

The scoop comes from finding the planet’s oldest “human” poop.  Revealing that a caveman, like  Fred W. Flintstone, wasn’t such a bone-head after all because he ate of all things- many, many, vegetables.

Yep, you heard that right. Turns out that Fred W. and his cave-dwelling kind gave us the bare bones to what we now call, ‘The Paleo Diet’

So how can I go Paleo?

  1. Eat more protein. High protein foods should make up 19-35% of daily calorie intake. Choose: Meats, seafood and poultry.
  2. 2. Eat less carbs. Complex (vs. simple) carbohydrates should make up 35-45% of daily calorie intake. Choose: fruits, veggies with a low glycemic index, which won’t raise blood sugar levels quickly.
  3. Up your fiber intake. Choose: Non-starchy fruits and veggies with more fiber content than grains have.
  4. Increase potassium, lower sodium intake. Choose: Fresh foods vs. processed foods-fresh foods usually have higher potassium than sodium, which is important for good blood pressure control.
  5. Go for a moderate to high “good” fat intake-i.e. mono and polyunsaturated fats. Daily diets should have ideally three times more Omega 3 fats than Omega 6 fats to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Omega 3 fats have many other health benefits such as being important for healthy brain function and good skin. Choose: Fatty fish, olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado.
  6. 6. Increase foods high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant phytochemicals. Choose: Meats, seafood, fruits, veggies. Try free-range meats, rich in vitamins B12 and A. Fruits and veggies are rich in phytochemicals and vitamins C and A.
  7. Aim for a net alkaline dietary load. The goal is to maintain an overall alkaline environment within. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies to offset acids from eating meats and fish. A prolonged dietary acid load can increase your risk of health conditions such as high blood pressure and kidney disease.

(Source: www.dietplan-101.com)

 

Final food for thought:

Yesterday’s man?

Caught his own food

Could win a fist-to-claw with a Saber-tooth tiger

Strong, fit, and lean

Ran very fast

Today’s man?

Couldn’t catch a fly

Channel surfs

Orders dinner online

Also known as the species, Couch potato

 

And, suffers from obesity, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, or cancer from unhealthy lifestyle and diet

 

The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure or treat any disease. Before beginning any diet, consult with your physician to see if it is right for you.                                                    

 

 

 

 

Taking Probiotics? Here’s the ‘Cliffs Notes’ version of what you should know

 

probiotics

Ten health benefits of probiotics

Science has encouraging evidence that probiotics can be beneficial in the treatment or prevention of a variety of health issues.

Research suggests that probiotics, which contain ‘friendly’ bacteria can help…

  1. Produce vitamins such as B6, B12, and K2
  2. Absorb minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium
  3. improve our mood, including anxiety and depression
  4. Periodontal disease and oral health
  5. The immune system- such as help fend off colds and flu.
  6. Treat and prevent gastrointestinal (GI) infections
  7. Prevent urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections
  8. Improve GI conditions such as irritable bowel, acid reflux, and constipation
  9. Improve skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea
  10.        Prevent or tackle Antibiotic associated diarrhea

 

But before you walk down the yogurt aisle…

What you should know:

There are hundreds of probiotic-containing yogurts and supplements on the market. They contain varying species, strains and amounts of probiotic bacteria.  And it’s far from a “one size fits all” situation.

The properties of one species or strain within that species may be better at targeting a specific health issue than another.

 To lift the curtain

Considerations when buying probiotics:

  1. Evidence based. Choose brands that have been scientifically tested.
  2. Variety is key. Unless you have been recommended a specific strain by a practitioner, stick with a product that has multiple strains of bacteria.
  3. Shelf life. Use products that displays potency at the time of expiration
  4. Quality and quantity.  Benefits can be dose-dependent. So choose a product with high amounts of ‘good bacteria’ or at least 20 billion CFU colony forming units.
  5. Read up. If you are trying to support a specific aspect of your health, do your homework first. Find out which species of friendly bacteria would be helpful to you before you invest.

I won’t leave you in the dark…

So how do you know which probiotic to use? I’ve got you covered, with a few tips on who’s who and what’s what in the different probiotic strains:

Lactobacillus

One of the most important bacteria groups, this one already lives in your gut. Lactobacillus helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall, and absorb minerals and vitamins. It also produces lactic acid, creating an acidic environment-useful to prevent growth of unfriendly, undesirable guests that thrive in an alkaline environment.

Some important strains of the Lactobacillus species, and what their job involves

  1. L. acidophilius. Concentrates in the small intestine where it targets digestive processes. Good for occasional stomach upset, diarrhea, cramping, and gas. Can help relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Supports the immune system. Beneficial for vaginal and urinary tract health. Can help mitigate the side effects from antibiotics.
  2. L. rhamnosus. Helps to process sugar and relieve symptoms of allergies and inflammation. Helps prevent ‘Traveler’s diarrhea’. One of the better strains for vaginal and urinary tract health.
  3. L. fermentum. Plays a role in processes involved in producing superoxide dismutase and glutathione, which are powerful antioxidants. Can help to reduce cholesterol.
  4. L. salivarius. Helps to improve oral health and prevent bad breath. May help control cavities in healthy adults.

Bifidobacterium

This species helps to produce the same acidic environment as the Lactobacilus species, which aids digestion and the immune system, as well as to help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

What’s different? 

This group produces B-complex vitamins and vitamin K, has antioxidant properties, scavenges and neutralizes free radicals known to contribute to age- related diseases, and helps with inflammation.

  1. bifidum. One of the main groups found in the large intestine. The first to colonize the intestines of babies. Prevents growth of molds, yeasts and bacteria in the intestines. Good for overall digestion, aiding in the breakdown of carbohydrates proteins and fats.
  2. longum. Good for detoxification. Has antioxidant properties. Helps in scavenging free radicals to neutralize them. Helps to relieve inflammation.
  3. infantis. The name speaks for itself. Important for infant health. The first gut microflora that mom passes on to her offspring. It lives inside our intestines throughout our life-span. Improves digestion, immune system, and proven to fight allergies. Helps prevent kidney stones.

Bacillis

Stays in the gut longer than any other species, which is better for protection. Good stability in conditions of heat, moisture, and light, therefore this species survives stomach acid and the gastric barrier. Colonizes the small intestine.

  1. coagulans. Helpful in general digestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Helps some of the symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),  Crohns disease, rotavirus, H.pylori,  may be helpful to prevent cancer-causing agents. Ramps up the immune system. Known for its ability to maintain healthy vaginal PH and flora.

Streptococcus

Secretes powerful anti-microbial molecules known as BLIS or Bactriocin-Like Inhibitory Substances. This species is good for oral health. It’s used to inhibit oral candida and undesirable bacteria, and is used as a bad breath remedy.

  1. salivarius K12.  The ten percent of us that naturally carry this species in our throat have fewer sore throats and strep throat infections. This species improves dental plaque scores, provides protection against ear infections, and decreases volatile Sulphur compounds that cause bad breath.
  2. salavarius M18.  Improves dental health of gums and teeth.

 

Before you begin

If you choose to get your probiotics from a supplement, keep in mind that probiotic supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The research behind them is also fairly early days.

Although, not widely reported, it is still possible to have side-effects from taking probiotics, especially if you are taking other medications or have certain health conditions. Therefore, consult with your physician prior to starting probiotics or any supplement to see if they are right for you and your health.

Looking for foods to get you started?

Try these: Yogurt, Kefir, Miso Soup, Kombucha (fermented) tea Tempeh, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Soy Milk, Dark Chocolate, Microalgae “blue algae”, Olives, and (yes)-pickles.

 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and not meant to cure, treat illnesses, or prevent disease. Consult with your physician prior to taking any nutritional supplements or starting a dietary treatment plan.

 

 

 

 

Probiotics: Could they hold the key to more than a gut feeling?

 

Research suggests that microbiota in our gut could have the power to influence more than just our physical health….

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Friendly bacteria

Anyone who has seen a yogurt ad has probably got this: probiotics – the good bacteria in yogurt – are good for our gut health and immune system. But what you probably haven’t heard much about is how these bacteria could also affect our minds.

Earlier studies have shown how the brain can send signals to our gut. If we are stressed, anxious or depressed, it often translates to how our gastrointestinal tract behaves. But recent studies have been looking into whether the signals can also travel the other way

Prebiotics: Food for thought?

A recent study, published in Psychopharmacology, investigated whether prebiotics, AKA a special ‘food’ for the good bacteria already in our gut, can affect our mood. They looked at anxiety in particular, which is closely related to the stress hormone cortisol.

According to their findings, feeding the microbiota in our digestive tract does appear to have a positive effect on our mood.

Psychologists have long heralded that our mental well-being strongly affects our physical health- for instance, when stress and other emotions cause a myriad of digestive issues.

However, the thought that the bacteria in our gut can have an effect on our mind has become a very interesting question in the field.

Probiotics: Researchers weigh in

Dr. Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist and neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, set out to clarify the effects of probiotics on mood.

Their study, involving healthy women, found that those who regularly ate yogurt containing beneficial bacteria found in probiotics, altered brain function.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer says, appreciating that the idea is not going to be a pill easily swallowed by everyone. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

After feeding the women yogurt containing probiotics, the researchers scanned their brains using an MRI. The researchers found that the parts of the brain involved in anxiety weren’t so active after the probiotics. They also found more activity in parts of the brain related to cognition i.e. learning and experiences.

Another gut feeling

Another study in the Netherlands found that probiotics could help to overcome sad moods or even prevent depression. The triple blind placebo-controlled and randomized pre-and post- assessment trial revealed that after four weeks of taking a multi-species probiotic, participants had a significant reduction in their overall reactivity or negativity to sad thoughts. Pointedly, the group taking probiotics experienced reduced obsessive and aggressive thoughts when they were put into a sad mood.

The authors were not able to determine how probiotics helped overcome sadness, but according to Time, theorized that the bacteria in the gut helped to reduce intestinal inflammation or raised Tryptophan, an amino acid associated with Serotonin-the “feel good” neurotransmitter of the brain responsible for stable moods.

Body and mind: A two- way street

So it seems as though it’s not only our minds that can stress our gut – the gut seems to stress us right back.

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” Kirsten Tillisch says. “Our study shows that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.”

To the eye ‘you are what you eat’ has taken on a whole new meaning.

 

 

 

GRWellness Health News for June, 2016

listening to loud music

Exposed to loud noise? Science has a reason that earplugs matter

 

What are people doing?

Listening to loud noise without ear plugs.

 Why do they do that?

Loud and low frequency sound stimulates the sacculus, a tiny organ in the inner ear that has a neural connection to those parts of our brain associated with reward and pleasure.  It’s why people love to blast their music. According to electrical engineer and author, Dr. Barry Bessler, “Raising the loudness of the music elevates the intensity of the experience.”

What they should be told

Hearing loss doesn’t just happen to old men who use power tools.

It can strike at any age if you don’t protect your hearing. The argument is that the majority of kids and their parents- who should be modeling how to protect their hearing-  don’t wear earplugs when they go to concerts. What parents and kids should be told is that exposure to loud noise is the most common reason that 1 out of 10 Americans today have trouble understanding normal speech.

What it takes to lose your hearing

Very little. So hear this: sound pressure in air is measured in decibels (dB’s). The lowest sound is barely audible, almost silent and measured at zero dB A whisper is 30 dB. Talking to a spouse? 60 dB, on a good day.

Every 10 dB increase is heard ten times louder than the sound before. So prolonged exposure to anything over 85dB starts to become damaging to your ears. For instance, maxing out your MP3 player at 105 dB, or sitting in a sports crowd or rock concert is a blast at 120-129 dB

Don’t try this at home.

Acoustic trauma and permanent hearing loss can occur from short-term exposure to 140 dB or more from noises not more than 100 feet away, such as rock music at its peak.

 How will you know your causing damage?

People rolling up their car windows while stuck listening to your music at a stoplight could be a clue. But the truth is that you may not know until it is too late.

According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), “Noise-induced hearing loss is cumulative, invisible, and permanent. It’s cumulative because the damage can start when we are young and get worse over time. It’s invisible because it can happen without even noticing it until it’s too late, and it’s permanent because, unlike a broken arm that gets better over time, we can’t “heal” our hearing. Once it’s damaged, it’s damaged for good.”

What can be done to help?

Turn it to the left. Turning down your music to 60% of the maximum volume is a guideline recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Wearing ear plugs can prevent hearing loss and tinnitus or ringing in the ears. If you are regularly exposed to loud noise, keeping a set of ear plugs handy in the glove compartment of your car or your wallet is one way of making sure you always have ear protection.

For parents of rock-stars in the making, Listen to Your Buds, is a campaign to educate both parents and kids on safe listening habits when using personal audio devices.

And If you think you may have a hearing problem, get evaluated by a certified audiologist.

One more time, please repeat that?

Ok…Again, people are not aware of the benefits of earplugs. If they were, we would have fewer people shouting, “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”

Look up in the sky! 13 genetic superheroes could lead us to life-saving cures, for real.

super power person

 

Who should you call for help when Batman is busy?

A superhero with good genes. Scientists are now studying people who have “super powers” that mean they stay healthy despite the disease-carrying genetic cards dealt to them. In other words, they have a genetic mutation that could lead to a particular disease, but they never get the disease.

Plain dumb luck? Perhaps. But maybe more than that. Researchers have found that these people inherited a gene that produces a protein that protects them.

What planet do genetic superheroes live on?

Not ours, apparently. But scientists, after searching the DNA of over half a million people, have found 13 individuals who are resistant to fatal childhood genetic diseases that they have inherited. The researchers hope that studying what’s unique about their special protein-producing abilities could lead to life-saving cures.

Genetic disease? What do you say to a friend who can’t remember high-school genetics?

You got this. Remember that monk and those yellow and green pea plants? Uh-huh. All 13 superheroes were carrying genes for the disorder according to Mendelian genetics. Which means that the genes occur in families through the inheritance of a single defective gene. Conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s chorea, and fragile X syndrome reflect the inheritance pattern that is known as Mendelian.

Why won’t the 13 superheroes phone home?

The 13 don’t know they possess superpowers.

And researchers are unable to contact them due to rules around protecting anonymity of people whose DNA is stored in data banks.

“The researchers could not re-contact the majority of resilient individuals for further study because of a lack of necessary consent forms.” Dr. Daniel MacArthur, from Massachusetts General Hospital in the US said. Which means that basically, the study is hamstringed.

“Finding genetic “superpowers” will require other kinds of heroism – a willingness of participants to donate their genomic and clinical data, and a commitment by researchers and regulators to overcome the daunting obstacles to data-sharing on a global scale.”

 

Health Tip for Week of June 13

drinking lemon water

 

Drink 16 oz. of water with freshly squeezed lemon as soon as you wake up in the morning. Water not only re-hydrates you, but it fires up your metabolism, increases your energy levels, and will help your kidney’s flush out toxins first thing in the morning.

GRWellness News- Week of May 9, 2016

mosquito large

 

Quote of the week

“Addiction is a preventable disease” – President Obama before an audience at the National Rx and Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Indeed.

What’s up?

Many Americans are misinformed about the Zika Virus and pregnancy. A recent Harvard poll found that 40% believe Zika Virus can harm future pregnancies for a women not pregnant when she gets infected. Stop.

 What do we know?

First things first. Zika can only affect an unborn baby when mom is infected while pregnant.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence that prior Zika virus infection poses a risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.”

What should we know?

Women who have the Zika Virus should wait at least eight weeks after symptom onset before trying to get pregnant, and men should wait at least six months. That means men should wear condoms or completely abstain from sex during this time.

So if you’ve recently decided to throw precautions to the wind and try for a baby; beware. If your Zika symptoms started less than six months ago (guys) or less than 2 months (girls) you’ll need to salvage those precautions from whatever windy place they were thrown to. Or hang on a bit longer. Before trying for a baby, that is.

For more answers to your questions on Zika, click here: Or visit the CDC website for updates

Give Peace Sleep a Chance

lennon and ono

What are people are complaining about?

 Being discriminated against for sleeping in.

Have you recently caught flack or abuse for sleeping in? Have been bugged by phrases such as, “the early bird gets the worm”, or “the second mouse gets the cheese?”

Or was it more like: “Nice of you to join us today” (snarky dictum of teachers, parents, and bosses everywhere) (from Brian Resnick on the discrimination against late sleepers.)

‘Oh well’, you might be thinking, ‘I’ve been this way my whole life, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.’ The truth of the matter is, and contrary to what your mother thinks, sleeping in may not be so bad after all.

What to say to your boss when you show up late

“Chill. Not everyone has the same internal sleep-wake cycle or biological clock.”

You can explain that the majority of us go to bed somewhere between 10-11pm and wake up around 6 or 7am. However, 20% of people are night-owls and have the unique ability to override their internal clocks.

Not only are they in good company, after all, President Obama is a night-owl, but research shows that people who like to burn the midnight oil often reap the daylight benefits.

They might just have a higher IQ, and could even be more creative (hint to bosses everywhere). Starting tomorrow, let’s all hit the snooze button. Twice.

And just when you thought things were getting better

soda fizzle

The good news?

Soda consumption fizzles to new 30- year- low. The bubble may have finally burst for soda manufacturers.

Beverage Digest, an industry tracker, found that falling demand led soda consumption in 2015 to hit its lowest since 1985.

The bad news?

Energy drinks and other sports drinks sales have been rising over the last few years, especially among Millennials. Market research provider Mintel expects the energy drink market to grow by 52% from 2014-2016.

Sorry folks. Expect Gen Y to become even more jittery.

Health Tip For Week of April 26, 2016

Do this…

meditation

………and don’t forget to breath!

Go fetch! (…me a Date)

Want her number? You should read this story- It’s got legs.

Pitbull dog

Picture copyrighted to Redheadedninja “Used with permission”

Ladies and gentleman, make no mistake about it. You’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. You should have been looking in all the dog places, instead. At least, that’s according to Deborah Wood, author of The dog lover’s guide to dating: Using cold noses to find warm hearts. Wood claims that dogs are the ideal date bait. And, according to science, she might be right.

Animal attraction

Anthropologist Peter Gray and his research team from the University of Nevada gave the matter some thought. The team looked at the role pets play in the dating arena. They set out to ask questions such as do pets increase your sex appeal? and are some pets better at scoring a date than others?’

The researchers noticed that females put more time into direct care-taking while males put more energy into their reproductive success. Therefore, the researchers hypothesized that single women will place more value on how a potential mate treats a pet while men will be more likely to employ their pet as a “social tool” to attract a potential mate.

Given that dogs require more care than a cat, they also hypothesized that owning a dog would trump owning a cat in the dating arena. A dog being a better indicator of a person’s ‘warm and fuzzy’ caregiving capabilities.

The study

Gray and his colleagues collaborated with PetSmart – a pet supplies company – to recruit 1,210 single pet owners via the online dating site, Match.com.

Online subjects were given a 21-question survey on how pets factored into people’s dating lives. It included questions such as ‘What is the hottest pet a guy could own? And, ‘If your date’s pet could fit into her handbag, is that a turn-on, a turn-off, or neither?’

The Results: <drumroll>

  1. Can’t buy me love. That’s right. Ditch the expensive pet shop. Instead, get a rescue pet. Not only is it way cooler and more ethical to adopt a dog but here’s a hint: It also brings your SexyBack. Yeah.

          Survey says: 59% of the singles said pet adoption makes you more attractive.

  1. Barking up the wrong tree. Whatever you do, don’t tell a gorgeous girl in the room that you hate cats. Chances are she has three of them.

          Survey says: 66% of men and women would not date you if you don’t like pets.

  1. Head of the pack. There is nothing more appealing to a gal then when you act all lovey-dovey with your pet, right in front of her. It shows you do have a soft and nurturing side. And gals, if you really love cats and you want to hug every cat, and you’re sorry, but all you can think about is cats, well, it might just be a problem. 

          Survey says: 70% of singles would judge their date based on the way they acted                         towards a pet. Sorry, e-harmony cat lady.

  1. This dog can hunt. Guys, you got this one.  

          Survey says: 22% of men and 4% of women admitted to using their dog as a date bait.             Meet your new best wingman.

  1. There’s no dog in this fight. If you’re a ‘cat person’, be prepared to stick with your own kind.
    Survey says: ‘Cat people’ are more open to relationships with ‘dog people’ than ‘dog people’ are to ‘cat people.’ If you wanna hold her hand? Looks like you both need to be cat people. Or you both need to be dog people.…or
  1. Pet purse peeve. Pooch-in-a-designer-bag? Looks like she’s an uptown girl, living in an uptown world.

         Survey says: If a women’s pet can fit in her handbag, she’s just turned off 28% of the             men.

 And last but not least, here’s the clincher….

     8. She’s only got puppy eyes for you. If you want to be sexy, get a dog.

          Survey says: 72% of women say a dog is the “hottest pet a guy could own.”

 

Well, the cat’s outta the bag on this one. It looks like owning a dog truly is the ultimate date bait. And adoption is the trifecta – not only is it smokin’ hot, it saves lives, and may even just win you a date.

For more information on how you can adopt your next pet, visit your local pet adoption agency or visit http://www.adoptapet.com/dog-adoption

shutterstock_181627364 (003)

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