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Standing Desks May Have No Health Benefits

Portrait of young woman working with laptop in her workspace

If you work in an office, you probably know at least one person who raves about their standing desk. In fact, it’s hard to ignore all the advertising and claims that standing all day at work can actually increase your energy, lessen back pain and improve your posture. It all sounds pretty impressive, right?

A new analysis, however, has shown that there may actually be no truth to these claims. Have we all fallen prey to a marketing stunt? Take a look at the facts and see what you think.

We have long known that sitting all day is not good for our health. In fact, many studies have even shown it may be fatal over time. Our chances of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and even cancer are increased by living the sedentary office lifestyle, but why does everyone seem to think standing desks are the answer?

This new analysis suggests that there is no evidence-based science to back up the health claims most marketers use when selling these standing desks.

The report was recently published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

What may surprise you is that standing desks actually didn’t make much of a difference when it came to how often people still sit at work. In fact, standing desks only appeared to decrease workplace sitting for between 30 to 120 minutes each day. There was, however, a decrease in the amount of time spent consistently sitting. But is this enough to live up to all the health claims? Analysts aren’t so sure.

What do you think? Do you have a standing desk? Do you feel healthier and more energized? 

Sleep Deprivation to Blame for Mindless Eating

Funky young couple eating pizza on a couch in front of a green wall

Do you find yourself mindlessly eating or suffering from the munchies for no apparent reason? Well, researchers are now confirming their prior suspicions that there is a link between lack of sleep (or poor sleep) and overeating.

The recent research was published in the journal SLEEP this week and actually proves that poor sleep triggers the same “munchies” as marijuana.

While it may seem like a stretch to compare poor sleep with marijuana effects, there is actually a scientific link. The cannabis plant affects certain receptors which were studied by researchers. Those same results appeared in study participants facing poor sleep patterns and that same need to mindlessly eat (commonly known as the munchies) occurred.

In fact, those will interrupted sleep reported feeling hungrier than those who slept a healthy amount. When given access to food, the sleep deprived group consumed twice as much fat and protein as those in the control group. Interestingly, there wasn’t a large difference in calorie consumption by each during regular meals.

This study could help health professionals better understand how the brain works and how to help their patients who overeat or suffer form obesity.

In today’s American society, we have seen a rapid increase in obesity as well as sleep deprivation and now we can finally understand the parallel between the two.

Perhaps with this new information in mind you can get plenty of rest and sleep this weekend with a better understanding of how you are helping your body!



A Hug A Day Keeps the Flu Away?

friendshipBy Emily Murray

While most of us look to the flu shot, perhaps we should be looking toward a more natural approach. A new study has found that those who are less frequently hugged suffer from more sever colds.

This study was published in the journal Psychological Science. In studies past we have learned the benefits that strong social ties can have on general health and well being. Depression and anxiety can lessen with social support but this is the first we have heard of how these ties can impact colds and the flu.

In order to conduct the study at it’s base Carnegie Mellon University, researches called 400 people each day to determine their levels of social support. Then, those in the study were supplied with nasal drops containing the flu or cold virus and then were quarantined for a week while their symptoms were monitored.

Surprisingly enough, those who reported the highest levels of support also had the fewest amount of severe symptoms.

The reason may be pretty simple. When  we feel supported by loved ones in our lives, we typically experience lower levels of stress. Those with lower stress tend to have better overall health.

This season, remember that showing those in your social group your support and love does more than just make them feel good, it supports their health as well!

How to Feel Your Best Over the Holidays

Be Whole Be Happy ConceptBy Emily Murray

The holidays stir up a variety of emotions and memories, for most these are pleasant but even the happiest holidays can lead to stress. There are dinners to cook, parties to attend, gifts to buy, budgets to balance and lots of family time. This year, take time to enjoy the holidays and create great (not stressful) memories. Here are a few tips for feeling your best this season.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of issues and believe it or not, may also be a contributing factor for overeating and seasonal weight gain. Try and stick closely to the your normal sleep schedule.

Drink Water

In addition to sleep deprivation, dehydration is also terrible for your health. Not only will your skin become dry in the winter weather but you may also misinterpret your body’s need for water as hunger.

Take Time for You

With all the company coming and going it may be hard to get the alone time you need. Take time for yourself! Even if this is a small thing like a walk, reading a chapter in your book or a bath – you will feel much better pampering yourself.

New Cancer Risk Associated with Uterine Fibroid Removal Procedure

Mature woman with her female doctor.By Emily Murray

Getting regular pap smears and OB/GYN exams are  part of a normal healthcare routine for women but when results come back abnormal, anxiety levels spike. Nearly 20% to 40% of all women over the age of 35 will develop uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors in the smooth muscle layer of the uterus, at some point in their lifetime. While the majority of these cases do not result in cancer, there are many other uncomfortable side effects that women with fibroids suffer from. The most common include pain and pressure in the pelvic area, trouble emptying the bladder, heavy menstrual bleeding (and prolonged periods), constipation and leg or back pain.

For some women, fibroids may be the size of a small seed or they can be a large mass in the uterus. Depending on size, location, a woman’s age (and a variety of other factors) doctor’s will choose from several treatment options. One of these requires a minimally invasive procedure known as morcellation.

Morcellation essentially grinds up the fibroids with power tools in order to allow small pieces to be removed. In some cases, this is also done for a hysterectomy (or removal of the uterus). Morcellation has been a standard procedure for many years now and has been preferred by surgeons since the downtime women experience is much shorter than that required of other procedures and additionally scars are smaller.

Unfortunately, doctors have begun questioning the procedure due to fears that the grinding process may actually spread cancer in some women. In fact, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is planning to limit the procedure. They also believe that women need to be informed about the potential of this side effect (even if it is believed to be small).

There are other options for hysterectomy and tumor removal and perhaps if women are informed of the risks of morcellation ahead of time, they will be able to go with the choice that seems to be the best move for them.

While most of these fibrous tumors are benign, in the cases of undiscovered malignancy, the grinding process could inadvertently spread the cancerous cells throughout the woman’s body making the cancer more difficult to treat and more deadly as a result.

The New England Journal recently ran an article with the results of 10 studies of more than 30,000 women and discovered that of those who opted for morcellation, 1 in 400 were found to have cancer in the removed tissue. It stands to reason that these women were not warned of the potential for spreading cancer and those who are both for and against banning the procedure seem to agree that more care must be taken to have the risk disclosed ahead of time.

For more information on uterine fibroid treatment,  check out this resource.


“Gut Feeling” May be Most Effective Indicator of Marriage Longevity

BrideBy Emily Murray

Call it “cold feet” or a “case of nerves” but apparently if you are getting a gut feeling prior to your wedding day, it might be a sign that you are headed for divorce.

While this sounds very doom and gloom, researchers studied a group of 135 newlywed couples over four years and found those who subconsciously felt apprehensive about their partner were more likely to have unhappy marriages. In order to conclude this, researchers had participants sit at a computer and then react to a variety of words. These words were either negative or positive and participants hit a key to categorize each type of word. Prior to being shown the word, a photo of their spouse flashed on the screen for 3/4 of a second. Researchers found that those who were unhappy in their marriages were faster to identify a word that was negative than they were a word that was positive and vice versa.

This is because regardless of our ability to reason or rationalize, our subconscious can’t be fooled.

After checking back with the couples four years later, those who took longer to respond to the positive words were generally less satisfied in their marriages.

Along the same lines, other studies have shown that those who had a case of cold feet prior to marriage were also more likely to divorce years later. So what does this mean if you apprehensive about marriage? Well, if you are having second thoughts, it’s wise to pay attention to them and to listen to that inner voice in your head before getting married.

Eating Nuts Linked to Longevity

Nuts backgroundBy Emily Murray

Nuts have long been hailed for their nutritional benefits, but according to a new study they may actually be the key to longevity.

A study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at a large population of men and women. The correlation between nut consumption and longevity was studied in the largest research study of it’s kind. In fact, those who eat seven or more helpings of nuts actually have a 20% lower risk of death after four years than their non-nut eating peers.

So why exactly are nuts so good for you?

It’s long been known that the protein levels, unsaturated fats, vitamins and antioxidants found in a variety of nuts are beneficial. These benefits have been linked to a lower incidence of cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems.

It’s recommended that the average adult enjoy 5 to 6 ounces of nuts each day in order to stay healthy. The nuts included in the study were almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

The great thing about nuts is that they are a natural and healthy addition to many meals or can even stand alone as a snack. Also revealed in the study was the fact that those who ate nuts were also less likely to be smokers, were leaner and in general were in better health. The study spanned over a 30 year time frame and included both men and women. Additonally the study revealed that those who ate nuts were more likely to eat other healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

Are Vitamins Really Worth the Cost?

vitamins, pills and tablets

By Emily Murray

Most of us have been told how important it is to take our vitamins. This typically begins early on as children and we continue the tradition for generations to come. Have you ever wondered if these pills are worth the expense and effort to take each day? According to a new study, vitamins may not keep us that much healthier.

According to a TIME article on the subject, Americans spend a total of $12 billion each year buying vitamins and supplements.

Recently members of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that there is not enough evidence to decide one way or another if these supplements are really able to make a difference on overall health. Heart disease and cancer risk were the main conditions in question since many vitamin and mineral companies claim their supplements can lower the risk of these.

Twenty-six studies were reviewed in depth regarding mineral and supplement use and their ability to lower the risk of certain cancers and diseases. With inconclusive results such as these, is the expense worthwhile? Perhaps this information will change the minds of some Americans, but it stands to reason that if vitamins and minerals do not cause damage and may actually help, it may be wise to continue taking them.

Of course, some of the best preventive health care practices should be used as well. These include eating healthy food, exercising and getting enough vitamins and minerals naturally from foods.

What do you think? Will you continue to take vitamins and supplements even though there is no conclusive evidence that they are effective? 

The Lululemon Debate – Is Fat Shaming Once Again to Blame?

exercise2By Emily Murray

By now, you’ve most likely heard the term ‘fat shaming’ and may have already developed an opinion about it for yourself. In another recent post, we discussed a mother who came under heavy criticism for a photograph she thought was inspiring but many felt was nothing more than a ploy to make other moms feel badly about their bodies. The latest case of fat shaming comes from perhaps an unexpected source, an athletic clothing store.

Clothing outfitter Lululemon recently offended the masses when blaming their recent clothing design glitch on body type, rather than the fabric they used. Here’s a little background on the story leading up to the controversy.

Back in June 2013, the company recalled a certain type of their yoga pants because they actually were receiving many complaints that these pants were see-through when women bent or squatted, revealing far more than many even noticed at first. Naturally, the company issued a recall. But next is where Chip Wilson, co-founder of Lululemon may have taken a mis-step with consumers.

On November 8th, during an interview Wilson explained the supposed reason for the issue –

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t work for [the pants] … It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time.”

With just these few words, a national debate has begun.

Many women feel that this is a personal attack against their bodies. It seems surprising that a company which makes clothing specifically for women who are taking care of their physical health should be made to feel like their bodies are too large for the clothing.

Regardless of intention, it seems Wilson is sticking to his guns. He did take to Facebook to release an apology to consumers but many felt it was not sincere or was simply too little too late.

You can watch the original interview and the apology HERE.

What do you think? Is Wilson’s apology sincere? Is it necessary?



Mediterranean Diet Linked to Longer Life in Women

med dietBy Emily Murray

While we live in a culture where the word “fat” is inherently bad, it’s important not to overlook the importance of “good fats.”

Most of us know about these as they are contained in foods like avocado, nuts and other healthy foods but new studies have found that when women consume these healthy fats frequently, they are 40% more likely to live past 70 years of age.

The study consisted of questionnaires from women ranging in age from their 50s to 60s who were asked to report different habits of their lives including their overall well being and dietary choices. The study took place from 1984 to 1986 initially. Fifteen years later these same women were asked to follow up on questions regarding their health and wellness. They were also examined to check both their mental and physical well being.

Once these facts were examined, it was determined that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were far more likely to exceed the age of 70.

Still not sure what the Mediterranean diet is? The following was quoted in FoxNews

“The Mediterranean diet is characterized by greater intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fish; lower intake of red and processed meats; moderate intake of alcohol; higher amounts of monounsaturated fats, mostly provided by olive oil from Mediterranean countries; and lower amounts of saturated fats,” lead researcher Dr. Cecilia Samieri told HealthDay.

One of the greatest things about the Mediterranean diet is that it tastes great too!



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