Floating Suncatchers…

sun catchersThese are also known as water-based solar panels. They are usually placed in reservoirs, water treatment ponds or any body of water that is not used for recreation. The benefits of these water based panels are that they can prevent water from evaporating and deter algae from growing.  The water also acts as a cooling agent for the solar panel. They are proving to generate up to 57% more energy than roof top panels. The panels are made of a non-corrosive material and are on a tracking system which allows them to move toward the direction of the most sunlight. Japan has been in the forefront of their use due to the unavailability of large areas of land for traditional solar panels. They are now becoming extremely popular in Australia and in the United States.

The More the (not so) Better…

Multitasking babyDoes juggling 3 oranges require as much brain power as multitasking? How many times have you attempted to eat breakfast while opening mail, answering a text, watching the morning news all while talking to your significant other?  Although so many of us are convinced that we are skilled at multitasking, studies are showing that it is actually bad for us. I myself am guilty of falling into the same misguided way of thinking and then turning around to find something is burning on the stove.  Ourmultitasking spiral brains are better equipped at managing one task at a time. That is, performing a particular task with total mindfulness. Jumping from one task to another is actually where the term “scatter brain” originated. When we jump from one task to another it requires another part of the brain to take over that particular action.  Which means that we are not multitasking but instead the brain is actually shutting down one task as it moves on to the next. In so doing we may take longer to perform a particular task which can increase our level of stress thereby increasing the levels of multitasking writingglucocorticoids (adrenaline, cortisol etc.) in our bodies. Research has shown that only 2% of people are capable of multitasking successfully. The other 98% are only lessening their productivity. Devoting ourselves to executing one particular task actually means you will do it efficiently and completely and in turn make it much more enjoyable.  A possible solution is called informal practice. That is, taking a simple task that we perform daily such as doing the dishes, brushing your teeth or even walking the dog, and giving your complete concentration to performing it. This can help you slow down and get into the zone which can prepare you to begin monotasking (paying attention).

Let’s Get Dirty…

Dirty handsHow did we become so obsessed with cleanliness? We have exfoliating agents for every part of our body. Antibacterial soaps are now the replacement for a bar of ivory soap. It has become common practice to carry Purell in our bags. How can we possibly think of taking a shower unless the water is near boiling point and there is a loofah to aid us in removing the outer top layer of skin. Some of us have even resorted to extreme methods of cleansing our insides. We go on week long juice fasts and have colonics to remove anything that may be sitting in our lower intestines and colon. Is Bacteria such a threat that we will go to extreme measures to remove it from our body? Perhaps because we takeDirty juice antibiotics when we have a bacterial infection we have somehow come to the conclusion that all bacteria is harmful. Some bacteria live in total harmony with us. We have a mutual relationship and have come to depend on each other for survival. We all know of the benefits of probiotics which is just a term for good bacteria. Human beings have from 3 to 5 lbs. of these healthy microbes circulating within our bodies. Not only do they keep our digestive system in tact but they can also recognize and help destroy bacteria which may later become harmful to us. It is now believed that what we eat, our genes and environment all contribute to the makeup of the microbes within us. In this way it is not hard to understand dirty Mudthat we all have a different makeup. This may explain why gut bacteria may affect the weight of a person, diseases such as Autism and even skin conditions such as eczema. That is to say people with similar characteristics share similar bacteria makeup. Since the average person plays host to nearly 10,000 microbes in their system, they are now being looked upon as a source of health as opposed to disease. The connection is also being made on how they may affect hormone and cholesterol levels as well as our absorption of vitamins. Researchers are studying how a healthy amount of bacteria in the system may be the answer to obesity as well as cancer prevention by strengthening the immune system. Maybe it is time to go back into the garden and start making mud pies just as we did when we were children. However, we should stop at the point when we are about to taste them.

Exercise and Cancer…

Exercise involves biological stress which can lead to controlled short term inflammation in the body. A study with mice is looking into how the immune system may fight cancer byExercise increasing adrenaline. At the university of Copenhagen, scientists injected melanoma cells into two groups of mice. One group were given exercise wheels and the other group were forced to remain sedentary. After 4 weeks the active group showed better signs of fighting off the disease. This group possessed high levels of Adrenaline which alerted Interleukin-6, a substance released by working muscles, which in turn activated the natural killer cells. Lesions were both smaller and less in the active group.

Antibiotics Instead of Surgery…

no surgeryThe general consensus is that the appendix is a vestigial organ (inherited from our ancestors and of no use). It is now looked upon differently. The Appendix is attached to the large intestine (colon) and it is believed to be a repository for healthy bacteria. People who have had it removed are more likely to suffer from bouts of diarrhea. When inflamed it now may not be necessary to surgically remove.  Doctors are now considering giving the patient the option of being treated with antibiotics to reduce the inflammation. There is strong evidence that this has been effective in many cases of appendicitis.  However, extended studies have not yet been done and many doctors are against the “watch and wait “procedure.

Weight Loss Tip-Add a Little Zest…

  wine vinegarCertain additions to your way of eating can prove to be less expensive, more flavorful and low calorie. Here are three suggestions.

1.Combine red wine vinegar with thyme and parsley, heat and saute’ your chicken.

2.Grate orange rind avoiding the white and add to oil and vinegar as part of your salad dressing.

3.Dried figs are a great addition to pancakes, omelettes and cereal.

Take a Whiff of This…

Scent cookiesWhy is it when we encounter a scent it sometimes stirs in us a particular memory? It can bring to mind something pleasant or an unpleasant emotion. “Associate Learning” is the term by which an item can be linked to an individual’s past experiences. Our olfactory sense is the only one of our senses that has a strong neurological link to our emotions. Lavender, vanilla, coffee and roses have a strong affect on the nervous system and can reduce anxiety.  For this reason, aromatherapy is now being incorporated in treatment of sleep disorders. These scents have been shown to reduce breathing rate and blood pressure.  Athletes run faster after smelling peppermint and children score higher in tests after having been exposed to the scent of strawberry. Certain smells can trigger memories in people who are suffering from memory loss. scent monkeysParticipants in florally scented rooms used more cheerful phrases when asked to sit down and write a short passage. Even if a particular smell is unpleasant it can have a positive effect on an individual. Babies who were exposed by mothers in the womb to the smell of cigarette smoke, alcohol or garlic had a preference later for exposure to these smells. Certain scents can increase work productivity as well as increase how much we spend in a place of business or how much a person will gamble in a casino. This is why so much attention is given to the scent smell childof whatever environment we may find ourselves in. Tests have even shown that certain women can pick up the scent of genetic differences in men that would enable them to produce offspring with stronger immunity. Realizing what a positive or negative impact the scent of our immediate environment can have on our mood can make the difference in our quality of existence. Try heating some cloves and cinnamon when you are in a holiday spirit. Simmer some lime and coconut oil when you long for some time in the tropics. Or just sit back, put up your feet and let the scent of vanilla surround you.

Hip Hop Psych…

Although not exactly classified as hip hop the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams is being cited by researchers as having possible use in therapy for patients with mental illness. hip hop soloHip-hop is rooted in rap which was first introduced in the 1970’s. It has now grown to become a major cultural and commercial powerhouse. The success of the play “Hamilton” is an indication of how it has weaved itself into our culture and how it is now being accepted by so many diverse audiences. In the United Kingdom researches have found that it can have a major impact in the treatment of Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.  The treatment is now being referred to as Hip hop psych. Hip hop is rich in references to psychiatric illnesses, drug abuse, domestic violence and poverty which is linked to severe cases of mental illnesses. This in turn hits a familiar note with troubled youths who are trying to deal with society and are unsuccessful at it. Most of what we have come to associate rapper’s lyrics with is cursing, seeking money and exploitation of women but there are also rappers who are are describing the harsh realities of society and even suggesting coping mechanisms for young people to deal with these in a positive way. Therapy consists of encouraging troubled youths to write and rap what they are feeling and where the see themselves in the future as being a positive force in society. This has led to the creation of the national campaign “hip hop forHip hop dancing mental health” who main message is to help troubled youths “beat the blues with positive mental health tunes. The goal is to encourage rappers, charities and medical groups to explore more deeply the true potential of hip hop. Through the use of rap it now believed that we can possibly reverse the effects of destructive parental mistreatment and the absence of strong role models with a path that is comfortable and familiar to these younger adults.

Needle Free Diabetes Care…

Diabetes self care can become a tedious process if you are trying to be conscientious about managing the disease. Glucose monitors and insulin pumps are the best options Glucose monitortoday for automating the complicated daily progress of blood management. Even those involve pricking the skin. Echo Therapeutics of Philadelphia, Pa. is working on a transdermal biosensor to replace the poke with a patch. This instrument would be able to give a reading through the skin. The procedure would entail scraping the top layer of skin cells with a toothbrush like device and this in turn would send a signal to a remote monitor that would set off an alarm if a person’s levels go out of range.

Healthy Weight Loss Tip…Put the Scale Away

Weighing yourself every morning if you are trying to lose weight, can prove to be more Scaledetrimental than constructive. Our bodies can fluctuate by a few pounds from day to day. This can be the result of water retention which can vary greatly. Seeing a higher number on the scale then you are expecting can lead to discouragement and even sabotage of healthy eating. People who are trying to lose weight can become “scale obsessed” and start to lose focus on their way of eating and add unnecessary stress to their lives. Weekly weighing can give a more accurate reading of your progress.