Hugging…

Posted by Lenny Variano on July 16, 2021

The past year of dealing with the Covid-19 crisis has reminded most people of the need to hug or even feel a friendly touch. A survey before the pandemic hit was conducted by the BBC. The BBC Touch Test was conducted in 112 countries and included 40,000 participants. Half said that they did not get enough physical contact with people. They were referring to contact as simple as an arm around the shoulder to a sympathetic touch. During the pandemic, the number increased to over 60% and is now referred to by the term “Touch Starvation”. Hugging is one of the first sensations we experience as a baby and is necessary for humans to flourish. Hugging increases oxytocin and decreases the stress hormone cortisol. These hormones affect cardiovascular health, sleep, mental health and weight along with reducing anxiety. According to an article published in “Psychological Science” people who give or get hugs often are less likely to get sick. This is the reason why therapy animals exist. A person who doesn’t have a companion or has lost one can receive the same positive effect of hugging by snuggling on a couch with a dog. Just don’t go around giving hugs to strangers you may meet on the street.

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The time of day you choose to exercise may have a great deal to do with control of blood sugar levels as well as cholesterol. Our internal clock mechanism is controlled and synchronized by not only sleep and light but also by the type of food we consume. Most past studies dealt with the time of day we ate and presented very different results. Some encouraged exercise before breakfast while others showed the benefits by working out later in the day on both blood sugar levels and heart rate. Most of these studies did not factor in the type of meals being eaten. A new study published in “Diabetologia” was performed at The Mary Hopkins Institute of Health Research in Australia. It involved 24 sedentary, overweight men who had all their vital statistics recorded before the experiment began.  They were placed on a diet of 65% fat for five days and were then invited back to have all their vitals recorded once more. This was a diet that included extreme amounts of fat to concentrate on how the body would use fat during exercise.  They were then divided into three groups. One group started their exercise routine at 6 AM, the next at 6 PM and the last remained sedentary. The exercise routine was identical. After five days they were again tested. Both, the sedentary and the 6 AM workout group had dangerous increases in cholesterol levels as well as the markers for heart disease. The group that worked out at 6 PM showed less of an impact of the poor diet. Their cholesterol, blood sugar levels as well as the molecules which are markers for heart disease were all lower. The study did not reveal how or why the time of day affected fat metabolism. This study did not encourage the intake of high fat diets which have been proven to be extremely unhealthy.

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Fast moving rotating objects can register in the brain as a blur. This is what happens when you look at the blades of a rotating window fan. It creates what is known as a “brain or motion smear”. In other words, the blades become invisible. There has been great controversy recently about the use of wind power provided by turbines causing the death of a large number of birds. Birds have excellent peripheral vision but do not see as well when looking straight on. In a recent study performed at the Norwegian Institute for Natural Research it was discovered that painting one of the four blades black reduced the number of bird deaths by 72%. The study was conducted on the Norwegian island of Smola and was published in Ecology and Evolution. There were 8 turbines in the research. Half had one blade painted black. It lasted 7.5 years and there were 1,275 sniffing dogs involved. Their job was to sniff out any birds that may have died. The larger birds of prey seem to have benefited the most. Now what to do about the number one cause of bird demise by cats.

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The Trusty Banana…

Posted by Lenny Variano on July 16, 2021

The average American consumes about 27lbs. of bananas a year. What happens to all that waste? Since the 13th century Japan has made use of the silky fibers of the unfurled leaves to make fabric. A banana plant will produce fruit only once in its lifetime which leaves the rest of the plant available to make yarn. It is referred to as Musa fabric and has a texture as soft as cotton and as silky as silk. Yet it is both water and tear resistant. More recently it is now being used to make sneakers and light summer dresses. Clothing from this fabric has been used by H&M. The world of fabrics made from food waste is expanding rapidly. You can now find items such as eye glass frames made from spud waste, silk lace from orange rinds, sneakers made from apple core waste and a leather substitute constructed from mushrooms.

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