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HEALTH

5 Benefits of Daily Meditation

While we know meditation helps to soothe the mind and relieve stress, there are many advantages to doing this daily. It’s a skill that you develop more with time. Here are 5 benefits of daily meditation.

Can Help You Control Anxiety

If you’re going through a stressful moment, meditation is good therapy to help you put that energy into something positive. Daily meditation can increase your mental and emotional wellness.

Increases Your Self-Awareness

You get more in tune with your body. This can apply to critical thinking and being able to solve challenges at the moment.

Can Improve Your Sleep

Insomnia is something that everyone goes through at one point in their life. Meditation can help you relax your mind and soothe your body to the point where it’ll be easier to sleep. Not only will you fall to sleep easier, but you’ll have better sleep to rejuvenate you.

A Better Attention Span

Prolonged meditation helps to build focus. You can apply that same level of concentration in your studies or getting a project done for work. 

You Can Meditate Anywhere

All you need is a quiet space where you can calm your thoughts. It doesn’t matter if it’s a room, outside, or an open space. Additionally, you can schedule it for as long or as short as you want to fit in your busy schedule. 

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HEALTH

6 Benefits of Running

Running is one of the most basic exercises that have a host of benefits. Sure, it’s great for your cardiovascular health, but there are other advantages. Here are 6 benefits of running. 

Better Mood

When you get into your stride while running, you release endorphins. Some call it a “runner’s high.” It’s a good way to start your day because you get the energy going in your body.

Improves Your Heart Health

Running has a certain intensity to it that helps your body regulate its heart rate. You’ll have a naturally lower resting heart rate, which is a good indicator of your overall health. Running can help prevent heart disease and other ailments. 

It Doesn’t Cost You Anything

While it may be convenient to go on a treadmill or elliptical at a gym, this is a monthly fee you’ll pay. Running outside is free and it gets you some fresh air. Not to mention, sun exposure is beneficial to you as well. 

Develops a Strong Lower Half

When you’re running, your core and legs are at work. Running after a few months can really help you develop leaner abs and muscular legs. You’ll have more stamina for intense activities.

Great Stress Reliever

When you’re having a bad day, just go for a run. You’ll be able to clear your mind from stressful thoughts. It’s a positive outlet to get rid of frustrations.

You Can Do It Whenever You Feel Like It

If you have an hour-long lunch, just go for a 15-20 minute run. You don’t need to create a tight schedule to go for a quick run to help you get out of your routine. It’s perfect to break up the monotony of the day.

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HEALTH

6 Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

When it comes to the body, it’s about balancing out your calories with the right food and drink. Intermittent fasting helps to keep you on a schedule to maximize fat burning. Here are 6 benefits of intermittent fasting.

Can Reduce Insulin Resistance

It’ll help regulate your blood sugar. Extended intermittent fasting can help someone with prediabetes overcome the disease. 

Helps You Lose Weight

It’ll help you control your eating by putting it in a tighter window. When you have a smaller eating window, you’ll normally have fewer meals. 

Alleviates Inflammatory Issues

When your body has time to digest food and you’re not overeating, this allows the body to detox a bit. Also, you tend to drink more water to compensate for not eating while you’re fasting. It’ll help you flush out free radicals and other toxins in your system. 

Helps You Slow Down Your Aging

Fasting produces beta-hydroxybutyrate, which is a ketone that helps you multiply your youthful cells. Your body goes into ketosis, which happens after fasting for a while, and the excess glucose runs out. Over time, you’ll be able to replace the older cells with youthful cells. 

Improves Mental Clarity

Many people say that the next morning they feel a sense of clarity after intermittent fasting. Seeing as the body isn’t worried about digesting food, the brain releases more hormones to help you focus on your job task or schoolwork.

Increases Energy

Since the body is in a fat-burning state, this actually translates to the body using energy. It’s perfect when you’re working out or moving around. Just make sure to have some water to help you stay hydrated. 

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HEALTH

5 Things Vikings Kept in Their Diet to Stay Healthy

While you may believe that a lot of people hundreds of years pretty much grew what they can and ate what they can, a lot of them did have some type of nutrition. Even the Vikings who have a history of plundering had some stable items that they preferred to eat to keep their strength level up. Here are 5 things they ate to stay healthy. 

They Had Dairy Products Like Yogurt

Since Vikings had goats, sheep, and cows, they were able to get different types of milk for various foods. They would let the milk curdle and develop a culture out of it to create yogurt or pickle it with vegetables to add a unique taste. 

Boiled Meat to Complete Dinner

They boiled meat to let it last longer. Also, they can create a big stew for large feasts. They’ll be able to let it sit overnight while the fat lays on top. It’ll give it a richer taste and actually keep it healthier for a week’s consumption. 

Traveled with Preserved Fish

Fish was such an important main dish to the Viking diet. It has a lot of protein in it to keep Vikings’ muscles strong. Also, they could smoke it and salt it to preserve it for long voyages. It made more economical sense to collect fish and use it later in case they have a journey. 

Fruits and Vegetables Were Essential

They had gardens full of onions and leafy greens. They kept a well-balanced palate. Not to mention, they had spices from cumin to mustard to keep it tasty and add some flair to their cooking. During the winter, they could have nuts and other dried fruits in case it was hard to hunt for meat. 

Multi-Grain Bread Was a Good Addition to Meals

They used a bunch of things from barley, whey, nuts, and honey in their bread for a more multi-grain loaf of bread. If the bread hardened, they would soften it up with skause stew. 

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HEALTH NONE SCI Science

A first: Micromotors used to treat stomach infection

For the first time, nanoengineers have successfully used micromotors — tiny magnesium-based engines no bigger than half the width of a human hair — to treat a bacterial infection in the stomach, according to a statement by the University of California at San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering.

The findings are published in the Aug. 16 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The micromotors are released into the stomach where they swim about rapidly neutralizing gastric acid and releasing antibiotics. Each micromotor has a round magnesium core and is fueled by the reaction of gastric acid with the magnesium, which produces a blast of tiny hydrogen bubbles that propels the micromotor around inside the stomach.

The micromotors are biodegradable and the magnesium cores along with their binding polymer layers are dissolved by the stomach’s gastric acid without harmful effects.

Delivery of drugs to neutralize gastric acid and treat bacterial infections, such as ulcers, by micromotors avoids the use of proton pump inhibitors, which currently are employed to suppress gastric acid production but have several unwanted side effects, including diarrhea, headaches, and depression.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralization with therapeutic action,” said co-first author Berta Esteban-Fernández de Avila, a postdoctoral scholar at UC-San Diego.

The researchers tested the micromotors — loaded with a dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin — in mice infected with Heliobacter pylori. They gave the mice one antibiotic-filled micromotor once daily for five consecutive days.

Once the treatment regimen was complete, analysis of the bacterial count in each mouse’s stomach showed that treatment with micromotors was slightly more effective than conventional treatment using proton pump inhibitors.

While the work is still at an early stage, the results look promising, according to the researchers, who say their work opens the door to the use of micromotors as delivery vehicles for the treatment of diseases.

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HEALTH Research SCI

Green public spaces decrease depression in city dwellers, study says

A new study suggests that greening vacant urban land decreases feelings of depression and increases overall mental health for residents in its proximity. The interesting findings could have implications for all cities across the United States, where approximately 15 percent of land is considered “vacant.”

“Dilapidated and vacant spaces are factors that put residents at an increased risk of depression and stress, and may explain why socioeconomic disparities in mental illness persist,” said lead author Eugenia South of the University of Pennsylvania. “What these new data show us is that making structural changes, like greening lots, has a positive impact on the health of those living in these neighborhoods. And that it can be achieved in a cost-effective and scalable way—not only in Philadelphia but in other cities with the same harmful environmental surroundings.”

Interestingly, the study revealed that interventions of trash clean-up did not significantly alter self-reported mental health.

“The lack of change in these groups is likely because the trash clean-up lots had no additional green space created,” said co-author John MacDonald, Ph.D., a professor of criminology and sociology at Penn. “The findings support that exposure to more natural environments can be part of restoring mental health, particularly for people living in stressful and chaotic urban environments.”

The study reveals how turning blighted neighborhood environments into green regions can create better trajectories for residents’ mental health.

“Greening vacant land is a highly inexpensive and scalable way to improve cities and enhance people’s health while encouraging them to remain in their home neighborhoods,” said senior author Charles C. Branas of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“While mental health therapies will always be a vital aspect of treatment, revitalizing the places where people live, work, and play, may have broad, population-level impact on mental health outcomes,” he added.

The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

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HEALTH HND_Disease SCI

Foodborne illness might be on the rise, report says

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that foodborne illness might be on the rise. Approximately 48 million people get sick from one of 31 pathogens each year, sending about 128,000 people to the hospital and causing 3,000 deaths.

Catherine Donnelly, a professor of food science at the University of Vermont, believes that the increase might at least partly be due to improvements in the tools that detect food contamination as well as outbreak reporting, surveillance, and investigation.

“Surveillance has drastically improved, and state public health labs are linked to databases at CDC, allowing quick identification of patterns of illness and links to food products,” she said. “As a result, we see more reports of foodborne illness.”

“People are tending to eat more produce and eat it in different forms, and those are good things, because we want people to eat more fresh produce, but when that happens, you’re likely to increase the risk,” said FDA deputy commissioner Mike Taylor.

And this risk is likely due to the fact that fresh produce is “sold and prepared without any kill step” to remove illness-causing germs.

“Foods travel longer distances to get from farms to consumers, and pathogens can be introduced along the way,” Donnelly said. “There is wider geographic distribution of centrally produced foods, so when something goes wrong during production, the impacts are widespread.

“Many outbreaks linked to poultry, eggs and meat can be traced back to farms where intensive production practices can lead to [the] spread of highly virulent pathogens,” she said, and some reflect “poor food handling practices.”

Regardless, Taylor doesn’t think there’s cause for a huge alarm.

“People should know that there’s a lot of high tech, high-powered science going into figuring out how to do better at preventing foodborne illness,” Taylor said. “People should know that the system — government and industry — they’re not just sitting back.”

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HEALTH HND_Cancer SCI

Cancer patients who use alternative therapies ‘twice as likely’ to die

A new study of 1,290 United States cancer patients suggests that people who opt for alternative therapies are “twice as likely” to die. Often, these patients refuse life-saving treatments like surgery or chemotherapy in favor of alternative therapies.

“The reality is despite the fact that many patients believe that these types of unproven therapies will improve their survival and possibly even improve their chances of a cure, there’s really no evidence to support that claim…” said Skyler Johnson of from Yale School of Medicine, lead author of the study.

“Although they may be used to support patients experiencing symptoms from cancer treatment, it looks as though they are either being marketed or understood to be effective cancer treatments,” he added.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research United Kingdom’s head information nurse, believes that complementary medicine can increase quality of life and wellbeing for some patients.

“But it is important that patients considering them do not see them as an alternative to conventional treatments that have been shown though clinical trials to make a real difference to survival,” he said.

And Arnie Purushotham, director at King’s Health Partners Comprehensive Cancer Centre, believes that there is a clear difference between complementary treatments and alternative therapies.

“The medical community is united in agreeing that alternate therapy is not an effective means of treating cancer patients,” he said.

“However, there is increasing evidence that complementary therapy like acupuncture, yoga and relaxation therapy may be beneficial in alleviating cancer patients’ symptoms like pain and fatigue.”

The findings were published in JAMA Oncology.

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HEALTH Research SCI

Children are being harmed by food additives, study says

A new study warns that many of the chemicals used to preserve, color, and package food pose dangers to children and pushes for a regulatory system overhaul to protect young people.

Although food chemicals and additives used in packaging have traditionally been deemed acceptable, recent research continues to shed light on their potential to cause life-long health problems.

“We’ve reached a moment wherein we recognize that the science is suggesting that we can’t assume that chemicals are innocent until proven guilty,” said Leonardo Trasande, who is a member of the AAP’s Council on Environmental Health.

“The more we learn, the more we’re worried that they are a problem,” said Irena Buka, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta.

Muhannad Malas, a toxics program manager at Environmental Defence, said that many Canada food additives don’t face rigorous review, and the evidence of their safety is often not strong.

“I think this kind of statement [from the AAP] really sends a clear signal to government in Canada and elsewhere that the issue of exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals and other toxic chemicals in food products is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” he said.

Consumers are being urged to decrease their exposure to potentially harmful additives and chemicals in foods. In addition, they are advised to used frozen or fresh produce whenever they can and store them using stainless steel or glass containers. Plastics are not recommended for use in dishwashers and microwaves.

Chemicals to avoid include artificial food colors, bisphenols, phthalates, and perchlorate.

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HEALTH Research SCI

Babies fed solid food sooner sleep better, study says

A new study suggests that babies fed solid food in addition to breast milk from three months of age sleep better than babies solely breast fed.

“Given that infant sleep directly affects parental quality of life, even a small improvement can have important benefits,” said Michael Perkin, co-author of the study.

But most importantly, babies fed solid food early reported half the typical rate of sleep problems, such as irritability and crying. These problems are of interest to researchers because they decrease the chances of parents successfully going back to sleep.

“The results of this research support the widely held parental view that early introduction of solids improves sleep,” said Gideon Lack, senior author of the study from King’s College.

“While the official guidance is that starting solid foods won’t make babies more likely to sleep through the night, this study suggests that this advice needs to be re-examined in light of the evidence we have gathered,” he added.

“These are interesting findings from a large randomized controlled trial,” said Mary Fewtrell, a nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health who wasn’t involved in the study. “At the RCPCH, we recommend that mothers should be supported to breastfeed their healthy-term infant exclusively for up to six months, with solid foods not introduced before four months.”

“However, the evidence base for the existing advice on exclusive breastfeeding is over 10 years old, and is currently being reviewed in the UK by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition,” she added.

The findings were published in JAMA Pediatrics.