Most Americans seem to be deficient in Vitamin D. The cure seems to be easy enough. It is a matter of taking in the suns’ rays for at least 20 minutes a day. Here in the northeast it becomes a little difficult for at least six months out of the year. Rich sources of Vitamin D are egg yolks, salmon and liver. Mushrooms are not often mentioned as a high source of this vitamin. In fact it is one of the few vegetarian sources of Vitamin D. It seems a little strange that a fungus that grows in the dark should be a rich source of the so needed vitamin. Interestingly enough, if you were to let mushrooms lie in the sun for a couple of hours before you use them the potency of Vitamin D will greatly increase. Actually, just 5 minutes in the sun increases their potency to more then the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D.
Adding sweeteners is a major concern for people trying to limit sugar consumption and especially for those with medical concerns such as diabetes. Stevia is one option. It is made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums and has no effect in raising blood sugar levels. There is however a new option. Since many claim that stevia has a bitter after-taste a new product called “Eversweet” promises to deliver a more pleasant after-taste. “Eversweet” is produced by the fermentation of yeast. When simple sugars are added to Baker’s yeast, the yeast will digest them and in turn will convert them into a calorie free sweetener.
The reduced risk of knee arthritis may be another benefit of fiber rich foods. Two studies with over 6,000 participants were published in the “Annals of Rheumatic Diseases”. With the increase of fiber in the diet there was a noticeable decrease of arthritic pain in the groups by as much as 30%. Some smaller studies produced results by as much as 60%. There was no noticeable difference in results even when age, sex, race, education, caloric intake, physical activity or types of fats were taken into consideration. How fiber reduces inflammation is unclear. Considering how it has been proven to reduce weight, improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of diabetes, it is probable that there are many more benefits that have not yet been discovered.
People who suffer from back pain are discovering the benefits of acupuncture as another option to pain medication. According to the National Institute of Health and an article printed in The Practical Pain Management, studies have suggested that acupuncture works particularly well in addressing back and neck pain, degenerative joint disease, as well as relieving the intensity of tension headaches and migraines. Acupuncture is able to accomplish this by controlling endorphin levels which are key in transporting signals along the central nervous system.
An article in The American Journal of Epidemiology reported that sitting and too little exercise can speed aging by as much as eight years. A group of 1,481 women, average age 79, wore motion sensors for one week, after which a white blood cell count was taken. Those that were more sedentary with little exercise proved to have shorter telomeres. Telemeres are caps at the end of our DNA strands. The shorter and more frayed they are the more susceptible a person may be to to heart disease, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and shorter life expectancy.
Dogs can play an important part in social interactions when it comes to children with autism. Children with autism who have a pet in the home have stronger social skills. This according to a study done at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction. The presence of an animal in the home made children more comfortable about introducing themselves and responding when something was asked about their pet. This form of assertiveness is extremely difficult for children with autism. The smaller the animal is the stronger the connection seems to be whether it is a small dog, cat, rabbit even a reptile. Since every child with autism is such a special situation, certain animals may elicit a better response then others.
Scientists from George Mason University have isolated a substance in a Kimodo Dragon that may have powerful germ killing abilities. Results were published in the ”Journal of Biofilms and Microbiomes”. Tests were done on mice that had wounds infected with two different strains of bacteria. DRGN-4 as the substance has been named, punched holes in the outer membrane of the bacteria while dissolving the biofilm that glues bacteria together. The Kimodo Dragon was selected because of its strong immune system. They can survive severe wounds, even lost limbs and live in filthy environments without getting infected. The dragons are revered and endangered in their native Indonesia. Researchers had to locate a Kimodo Dragon in a zoo to obtain a blood sample to work with. They can weigh as much as 100 pounds and are extremely dangerous with sharp serrated teeth. No anesthesia was admitted and four tablespoons of blood were finally secured. The sample proved to be a rich source of 40 substances including one with strong antibiotic qualities.
According to a study by The American College Counseling Association conducted in 2013, one in three college students is extremely stressed out and has sought counseling services. College campuses across the United States and around the world are reporting an increase in cases of depression, anxiety and ills brought on by stress. In an attempt to lend a helping paw, officials are arranging “pet therapy” events to help spread some cheer especially during exam times. Most of the dogs that make visits to the college campuses are all volunteers. Research has shown how contact with these furry friends can decrease blood pressure and stress hormones while increasing the hormones that encourage happiness.
Two studies, one done at New York University and the other at John Hopkins University were conducted on the effects of psilocybin (an hallucinogenic derived from mushrooms) and the therapeutic benefits in treating cancer patients. The results were published in The Journal of Psychopharmacology. Cancer-related psychological distress afflicts about 40% of cancer patients who found traditional therapy unsuccessful. Fear of the cancer returning after being told they are either cured or in remission prevents former patients from getting on and enjoying life. Administrating psilocybin is usually accompanied by a playlist of selected music which is believed to enhance the positive effects of the drug. Experiments have shown that relief from anxiety and depression are within the next day in contrast with antidepressants which take several weeks to take effect. This is vital since these patients need help immediately. The theory is that psilocybin interrupts the circuitry of self-absorbed thinking. At present trials are underway in the U.S. and Europe to treat forms of alcoholism, tobacco addiction and PTSD in this manner.
Many look to synthetic sugars as a way of decreasing the amount of calories they consume. However, short as well as long studies have proven that children as well as adults show significant weight gain by using synthetic sugars. It stems from the fact that only part of the brain is stimulated by synthetic sugars and the reward centers are left with a craving for the energy which would usually accompany using real sugar. The enhanced appetite brought on by sweetness is encouraged by synthetic sugars which only increase sugar cravings and dependence. So go ahead and use a teaspoon of honey or maple sugar and enjoy nature instead of something that has been chemically altered.