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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? 

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Why People With Anxiety Experience Life Differently


For those suffering from anxiety, each day can be a series of challenges. Thankfully, we have evolved as a society to understand that anxiety is a real condition, not something that can be controlled by the person experiencing it. Sadly, there is still a stigma in many areas of the world and hopefully research can continue to prove it’s a health condition like any other…not a choice.

The more research that’s done, the more we understand about anxiety and how it impacts the brain. The latest study in the journal Current Biology, showed that variances in the brain actually cause anxiety sufferers to view the world differently than their peers.

Essentially, the brain’s ability to change and reorganize itself by creating new connections (plasticity) is impacted in those with anxiety. The result is that those with anxiety are less able to differentiate between threatening situations and safe ones. They are put in to a constant state of “flight” that is beyond their control.

Even after the stimuli was no longer present in the experiment, the brains of those with anxiety held on to the experience far longer. Essentially the line between threatening and non-threatening experiences is blurred.

Perhaps the greatest take-away from this study confirms what anxious individuals already know – there is no way for it to be controlled since the brain truly doesn’t know the difference between a safe experience and a threatening one.

With each new scientific discovery like this one we take away a new understanding of mental illness but this sadly doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a stigma.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25% of those with a mental illness feel that people approach their illness with understanding.

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Starbucks Sandwich Recall: What You Should Know

butter croissants, bacon and egg

Starbucks joins the growing list of retail chains with recent food recalls. Last week, 250 stores recalled their Starbucks breakfast sandwiches due to potential Listeria contamination.

The item in question is the 6-ounce sausage, egg, cheddar cheese English Muffin sandwich. It’s made by Progressive Gourmet Inc in Wilmington, MA. If you aren’t sure if the sandwich you have purchased is involved in the recall, the recalled products are being identified as any with the “best before” date of August 7, 2016.

These sandwiches were only sent to 250 stores, all located in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

While most people can recover from Listeria, it can be deadly in the elderly as well as children.

Listeria is a bacteria that infects a person when consumed through food. This is most commonly known as a type of food poisoning. There are both mild and severe cases. The most common symptoms are sudden fever, chills, severe headache, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms. In some, these may become more severe and require medical treatment.

Starbucks announced that their recall was conducted “out of an abundance of caution” when Listeria was found on a surface in the production facility during routine testing.

The good news is that no one has reported any sickness directly related to these sandwiches as of yet so chances are, this is just a precaution.

Other forms of food poisoning have wrecked havoc on restaurants rendering their brands questionable by a large portion of consumers. The recent Chipotle E. Coli outbreak spelled disaster for the company.


The following are the most common sources of Listeria according to FoodSafety.gov

  • Ready-to-Eat deli meats and hot dogs
  • Meat spreads of refrigerated pates
  • Raw dairy and milk products
  • Soft cheese with unpasteurized milk
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Raw sprouts

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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!



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Daylight Savings Time Linked to Increased Stroke Risk


Most of us feel a little thrown off when we turn the clock ahead or back as a result of daylight savings time, but new research shows there may be something else to keep an eye on when we switch the clocks this year on Sunday, March 13th.

It’s no surprise that when we change the clock, we disrupt our normal sleep patterns – even if only slightly. This period of transition however is believed to increase a common type of stroke called ischemic stroke.

The American Heart Association claims that the ischemic stroke accounts for about 87% of all stroke cases.

Study researcher Ruuskanen and his team looked over the data from an entire decade of stroke cases in Finland. Upon closer examination of the more than 3,000 people who were hospitalized the week after daylight savings time the rate of stroke increased in nearly 12,000 patients who entered the hospital either two weeks before or two weeks after that week.

After studying the data further, researchers discovered an 8% higher risk of stroke during the two days following the daylight savings time adjustment. After those first two days, however, the risk is no higher.

Specific people are at a higher risk, mainly cancer patients and those over the age of 65. In fact, the risk is 25% and 20% higher, respectively.

Deaths in the hospital as a result of stroke increase the week after daylight savings as well.

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New Study Shows Being Overweight Linked to Poor Memory

a man of European appearance thirty years, he recalls thinking on a gray background

While it’s common knowledge that being overweight isn’t healthy, it may come as a surprise to learn it’s impact on memory.

It appears that changes to the brain, which occur as a side effect of obesity, actually may cause harm to memory. In addition it may also cause people to eat more and continue to gain weight. This according to a new study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Researchers are suggesting that those who are overweight actually have a lower likelihood of remembering their previous meals and may overeat as a result. The health professionals involved in the study based some of their findings on date collected in previous studies showing that obesity negatively impacts the hippocampus. This is the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. The frontal lobe of the brain is also responsible for problem solving, decision making and emotions.

The study consisted of 50 participants ranging in age from 18 to 35 and within a BMI 18 to 51. Participants ranged in body types and weights and those with a BMI of 30 or more fall into the obese category.

Their memory was tested by taking part in treasure hunt games on a computer. They would hide objects and then take part in memory tests the next few days which would require them to find where the items were hidden and when.

When all the information was gathered and tested, those with a higher BMI were outperformed by those with a lower BMI.

Researchers still have more testing to do but this shows us that memory is something that is more important than we thought and is something we rely on in our daily lives.

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Study Shows Chocolate Improves Brain Function

Chocolate swirl background. Clean, detailed melted choco mass.

For those who love chocolate, this news will be well received. A new study has found that eating chocolate actually improves cognitive brain function.

This information was discovered from studying data collected from the sixth part of the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study.

The new study published in the journal Appetite observed the dietary habits, cognitive function and cardiovascular risk factors of 968 participants ranging in age from 23 to 98.

The study revealed that those who consumed chocolate showed improved cognitive function. This was determined by having participants preform cognitive tests, visual-spatial memory and organization, working memory, scanning and tracking,abstract reasoning and a mini-mental state examination.

So why is chocolate so good for cognitive health?

Essentially, it comes down to the cocoa flavanols. The best of all the chocolate types for these benefits is dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate have slightly lowered levels of flavanols.

Another positive discovery in this study is that flavanols may also protect against normal cognitive decline and even conditions like dementia.

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Delirium Linked to Antibiotic Use

Antibiotics. Medical Report with Composition of Medicaments - LIght Green Pills, Injections and Syringe. Blurred Background with Selective Focus.

A new report has highlighted another side effect of antibiotic use that many of us never even expected – delirium. This state of mental confusion is often blamed on other medications (or on the infection itself) but according to Dr. Shamik Bhattacharyya and his study associates, antibiotics may be to blame more often than we think.

Some of the most common signs of delirium are mental confusion, hallucinations and agitation.

The lead author of this study, a neurologist from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reviewed more than 70 years of case reports of patients who were given antibiotics and also experienced delirium. Seven of 10 of these patients were discovered to have abnormal electrical brain activity.

Often when confusion or mental agitation occurs and an infection is present doctors see it as par for the course. It’s been recognized over the years that confusion can be a side effect of certain antibiotics but it often isn’t the first place doctor’s look when symptoms begin.

Additional statistics from a recent CBS News article state that more than 262 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed annually in the U.S.

The study identified three types of antibiotic-related delirium.

It’s important to note that the elderly are at the highest risk of suffering from these ill side effects. In light of the study findings, researchers are encouraging doctors to consider antibiotics as a potential cause for delirium. The elderly often experience confusion or agitation in the hospital and it’s become somewhat expected as part of getting older. Hopefully, this information will now give doctors another tool to help their patients.

Once antibiotic use is discontinued, patients are able to return to a healthier mental state in many cases.



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Florida Declares Health Emergency Due to Zika Virus

flyToday, Florida governor Rick Scott has declared a health emergency in four counties as a result of the Zika virus.  This mosquito-born illness is not showing any sign of slowing down and what started mainly in South America has now shown us that we are not safe from infection here in the U.S. either.

So what is it? Essentially this virus is linked to deformities in babies born to infected mothers. These deformities include impaired brain function and also a smaller than normal-sized head.  What officials originally believed about the virus is now being challenged as well. It appears that not only mosquito bites but also sexual contact with an infected person may cause infection.

One thing we know for sure is that at least nine cases of the virus have been reported in Florida. It’s currently believed that all these cases involved infection in other countries. With the newly discovered possibility of spreading the infection sexually, however, we are seeing a real possibility of the infection rapidly spreading.

In Brazil however officials are still claiming there is no concrete evidence that the virus is being spread through sexual contact. As a result of recent speculation, Brazil’s Health Ministry has announced that they will be calling for deeper investigation into the recent Texas report that a person in the state spread the infection through sexual contact with someone who had recently visited the affected area.

Currently there is no cure and immunization for the virus. In addition, we are observing the side effects in babies but we still don’t know the extent of the damage to adults.


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Key Health Information May Be in Your Sweat

Copy-spaced image of a cheerful sportswoman in sweatband in the park

For most of us, sweat is the unavoidable, yet rather undesirable, consequence of exercise, heat or stress but science has proven there may be a lot of valuable information in sweat. So how does it go from what’s typically wiped away carelessly to a major hub of health information? The answer lies in a new form of wearable technology according to a new study published recently in Nature.

The study allowed scientists to monitor the levels of sodium, potassium, glucose and lactate in 14 men and women through the use of sticky electronic sensors. The participants then wore a special headband that contained a flexible circuit board allowing the data to stream to a smartphone app for monitoring.

So how much sweat is needed to produce a proper reading? Less than you probably think. The scientists involved in the study discovered that just one fifth of a drop of sweat contained valuable information. In order to fully test the scope of the product, participants completed a variety of exercises both indoors and outdoors and some hydrated well while other did not. In just this small amount, researchers could see electrolyte levels of dehydration in those who went without water and regular levels in those who were hydrated.

Researchers have stated that the information gathered in sweat is similar to some of the things we gather in a blood test but the perk is that sweat can be gathered more frequently allowing for long-term monitoring.


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