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Why You are Attracted to Some People and Not Others

magnetismWhen we talk about attraction, we often think of romantic relationships. The truth is, there has to be something that draws us to friends too, right? Well, a new published study has found the key to attractiveness – understandable emotions.

We are drawn to people who we understand and can relate to. From their intentions to their emotions, if we feel we are on the same level of understanding, we can build a relationship. At least this is the theory put forth in the study published in the journal PNAS.

Researchers put this theory to the test in order to learn if there is a neural mechanism that helps a person be able to read another person’s emotions and therefore be attracted to them.

The gathered roughly 90 people to watch video clips of women whose faces displayed what we recognize as fear or sadness. After the conclusion of the videos, participants were asked to rate their confidence that they read the emotions correctly. In addition to this, researchers watched brain activity in the participants throughout the viewing.

The results concluded that the more certain a person was about the woman’s emotions, the more attracted they were to her. It appears that when the brain can successfully identify an emotion, the brain’s reward system is activated and attraction results.

So do great minds really think alike? Well, it appears that like minds, at least, are well matched for attraction.

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Insomniac? There is Something the Matter with Your White Matter!

man in bed with eyes opened suffering insomnia sleep disorderA small Chinese study has finally produced a potential answer to the questions surrounding insomnia.

Why do certain people experience the inability to sleep or have restless nights trying to sleep? The answer may come down to abnormalities in the brain’s white matter.

The white matter of the brain is considered the tissues that create connections and allow information to be carried between the different parts of the brain.

The specific portions of the white matter that has the abnormalities leading to insomnia are the areas which regulate sleep, wakefulness and cognitive function. When these connections of white matter are interrupted, we exhibit the results of this by having difficulty falling or staying asleep.

It’s believed that nearly 5% of adults suffer from insomnia, a type of sleep disorder.

The study involved the use of an advanced MRI technique and the recruitment of 23 people with primary insomnia in addition to 30 other healthy participants.

This advanced MRI method known as DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) looks at the pattern of water movement in the white matter. These movements help them identify any irregularities that may be present.

Often, those suffering from insomnia also report depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. It’s often been debated which came first – the lack of sleep or emotional disturbance.

While the brain is constantly restoring itself, researchers remain unsure if insomnia treatment could actually restore lost connections in the white matter.

There are still many questions surrounding the study but we may be getting one more step closer to understanding and successfully treating those who suffer from insomnia.



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Study Reveals That BPA is Still Present in 60% of Cans

tin can on a white background

Over the past 5 years, consumers have been reminded about the dangers of Bisphenol A, better known as BPA.

Most commonly BPA is associated with potential hormone disruption. The groups at highest risk are pregnant women and young children. You would think that due to these campaigns, BPA would be removed from cans and other products by this time.

A new report, however, revealed that grocery stores across the country are still housing a variety of different BPA containing cans.

The report was compiled by a group of non-profit organizations to highlight the potential dangers consumers are still subject to.,

The surprising result is that more than two thirds of the cans that were tested contained BPA. Some companies claim that BPA has been removed, however, there is no true confirmation as to what they are replacing this chemical with.

So what companies should we be on the lookout for?

The report found that 71% of Del Monte cans and all of Campbell’s contained BPA. Additionally, 50% of General Mills cans contained BPA.

The following brands have claimed to steer away from BPA and were free of it – Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Hain Celestial Group and ConAgra.

In light of the recent findings, Campbell’s came forward this week to announce that they will discontinue the use of BPA in their can lining by the middle of 2017.

Healthy eating advocates, Whole Foods, has vowed to eliminate BPA products completely. A few items were still found to be packaged in cans containing BPA.

Evidence has also shown that BPA can cause infertility, obesity, diabetes and other reproductive problems.


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Caffeine Intake in Fathers Linked to Miscarriage

Man sitting at a cafe in Stockholm. He is typing on his smart phone and holding his coffee. Behind him there is a woman sitting at the table and looking away. Hipster and vintage look.

Expectant mothers must watch everything they consume, that’s something we are all familiar with but what about dads-to-be?

It appears that men who consume more than two caffeinated beverages a day in the weeks leading up to conception are at an increased risk of experiencing a miscarriage.

For women, the risk of miscarriage may also increase if she drinks more than two caffeinated beverages each day during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

The fact that a man’s caffeine intake can impact the pregnancy is pretty surprising. We have become familiar with the idea that what a woman does pre-pregnancy will impact her baby but the idea that a substance like caffeine can impact it is a bit more unexpected.

You are probably wondering why this happens, right? Well, currently so are study researchers. These findings were part of an observational study so further research is needed.

One theory is that caffeine may be responsible for turning off certain genes in either the sperm or the egg. There is currently no research that can fully back this theory .

Another finding is that women who take multivitamins before and during pregnancy have a decreased risk of miscarriage, taking down the risk by down by 79%.

Both male and female consumption of two caffeinated beverages daily was associated with a shocking 74% greater risk of miscarriage.

Current recommendations for women still stand – maintaining a healthy weight, taking vitamins and seeing a doctor all decrease the chances of a miscarriage occurring. Now, men may start rethinking their diet prior to conception as well.

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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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