Daydreaming, coasting on autopilot or absent mindedness are names sometimes given to mind-wandering. The experience usually happens when someone is involved in a task that is demanding but at times not very interesting. In fact when a person’s mind does not wander it is an indicator of how happy they are in the present and the activity they are engaged in. Research on this subject has determined that people spend about 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other then what they are doing. Problem is that these hours spent mind-wandering are not happy hours and can come at an emotional cost. Unlike animals, humans have a tendency to ruminate on the past and contemplate on what may happen in the future instead of taking part in the present and what it has to offer. In a research study of 2,250 people who were surveyed on 22 different activities, happiest activities were love-making, exercising and good conversation. The most unhappiest activities which encouraged mind wandering were resting, working at what was not their passion, or using a home computer. So it seems that a person’s mind-wandering is the cause, not the consequence, for a person’s unhappiness. Many philosophical and religious traditions teach their practitioners to live in the moment and resist mind wandering. All their teachings emphasize that not being present leaves more room for making errors while performing important tasks by limiting mental capacity. At times mind-wandering can expose one to an innovative idea but the majority of time spent daydreaming has proven to be more of a drain. Take time to fully engage your mind in what is surrounding you. Take pleasure in your home, family, pets and friends. If you find that you are constantly drifting off and thinking about something other then what you might be doing, maybe it is time to explore another avenue. Meditation, martial arts, dancing, yoga and breathing are all methods that may help one be more present.
Scientists have discovered that fish can become depressed and may be the key to developing antidepressants. According to the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences of Troy University in Alabama the neurochemistry between fish and humans is very similar. Fish are tested in what is called a “novel tank test’. A Zebrafish is dropped into the tank. If it sinks to the bottom it is a sign of depression as opposed to if it swims to the top and begins to explore. Severity is measured by how much time it spends in either location. It is by these observations that the researchers have determined that this is a form of depression. If depressed a fish usually loses interest in both food and exploration. Given a mild antidepressant the fish will eventually swim to the top of the tank a sign that it has overcome the depression. Not only do fish show the capability of using tools but they are also able to recognize faces. If a tank has an adequate amount of space and vegetation a fish will explore and be in constant motion, a sign that a fish is happy in its environment.
Planning meals can be extremely difficult, whether it is because of family activities or a busy demanding career. If your goal is to put together a healthy meal plan in the evening, having theme nights for the week may help. In other words make one night a “Breakfast for Dinner Night”. Just making an omelet with all the leftovers in the fridge and a salad is one quick way of putting together a healthy meal. Another night could be a “Meatless Monday”. Simply combining beans, frozen vegetables and a whole grain such as quinoa is enough for a light healthy meal which can also give your digestive system a rest. Another option could be a hearty soup and salad night. Having a menu schedule for the week takes the worry out of eating healthy. Planning also removes the possibility of overeating.
Fennel, cumin, dill, coriander, anise, caraway and of course parsley are all considered part of the same family. They all have the ability to suppress gas.The theory behind this is that they are rich in essential oils which can increase the effect of digestive juices and kill bad bacteria. Of all the above, fennel and coriander were found in a 2016 study to be natural bactericides. Their ability to delay gastric emptying showed great promise to those participants who suffered from colitis, abdominal pain and cramping. Start incorporating some of these herbs in your cooking not only for digestive health but also for a variety of new taste sensations.
In Tanzania the people of the Hadza community have a diet that consists of the animals they kill, honey, berries and whatever grows wild. They eat what may be considered a true hunter-gatherer diet. In studying this group scientists have discovered that their gut bacteria undergoes different annual changes. Some of their microbes completely disappear only to return at another time of the year along with the change in diet. The study was conducted by the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Stool samples were compared with Italians from Bologna. The Hadza hosted much more abundant and rarer forms of gut microbial species. This led researchers to collect samples four times a year to see if the composition varied. There were extreme differences in the samples taken during the wet season as opposed to the dry season. This discovery is new for any human microbiome. The seasonal change in their diet lead to a predictable change in their gut bacteria. The composition is more similar to traditional older societies than to modernized industrial diets. Since industrialized nations eat the same foods year round, a clue to the rise in disease because of the loss of certain strains of bacteria may be the reason. This can be of significant value in possibly decreasing the causes of inflammation in the body, a source of chronic illnesses in our society. This would encourage us to explore more deeply the suggestion of a rotation of diet.
After an injury, not only athletes but also physically active people have one thing on their mind. How can I get back in the game. This kind of thinking can backfire and short circuit recovery. Post-traumatic osteoarthritis can exhibit itself decades later if adequate attention is not given to rehabilitation. Previously thought of as a disease which affects senior citizens it is now becoming prevalent in younger people as well. The odds of developing osteoarthritis after not treating an injury properly are six to one. According to research done by a team at the University of Iowa, it is the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones that is often damaged. These tissues are what cushion and stabilize bone and need sufficient time and care to heal properly. Osteoarthritis can be prevented or even seriously curtailed. Physical therapy which includes a program of strength and flexibility to all the supporting muscle groups can produce positive effects. For example, if a knee is injured attention should be given to strengthening the quads, hamstrings and hip muscles. Moderate activity is encouraged as long as it does not stress the particular joint in question.
In a study recorded in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga works as well as physical therapy in relieving back pain. There were 320 participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 64. Everyone had persistent back pain either moderate or severe. Subjects were divided into 3 groups and the experiment lasted 12 weeks. Group 1 was assigned weekly sessions of yoga. Group 2 was given 15 physical therapy sessions over that period and the last group was basically given educational material about back pain problems. At the end of the study both the yoga and physical therapy groups had similar outcomes. Half were relieved of their problems and half reduced all pain medication. The educational group had only about 20% that said they had reduced their pain level. Consistency remained higher in the yoga group which more of the participants found to be much more enjoyable. It allowed them to either do it in the privacy of their own home or be in a social situation when they felt they needed more support.
According to new research, heat may be much more beneficial for muscle recovery then ice. Researches at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden invited fit men and women to be tested on arm-peddling machines. The exercise was designed to exhaust arm muscles with periods of slow and intense intervals. Once the glycogen (carbohydrate fuel source) storage was depleted in the muscles they no longer had any strength. After which they slipped cuffs on their arms that were pre-heated to 100 degrees F or chilled to 5 degrees F by the coils within them. It turned out that the muscles recovered quicker with heat but only if it was accompanied with a resupply of glycogen. Because of this experiment researchers feel that after a long marathon it may be best to sit in a relaxing warm bath while eating a chocolate bar.
It seems that how one eats has become an important subject since nutrition is now a topic of discussion. I will try to break it down a bit. To begin with there are Vegans. Vegans restrict themselves to eating only what has grown from the ground. This is an extremely disciplined diet and these people usually have to be conscious of their Vitamin B12 levels. Vegans usually have very low cholesterol levels. Vegetarians go a step further. They are broken down into several categories. There are ovo-vegetarians who are vegan based but consume eggs. Next are lacto-vegetarians who will add dairy to their vegetarian lifestyle. That is not to say that an ovo-lacto-vegetarian doesn’t exist. There are also those who consider themselves pesco-vegetarians which add only certain fish to their vegetarian diets. Vegetarians on a whole usually have much less obesity and heart disease but again being conscious of well rounded vitamin intake is an important factor. An omnivorous diet is one that includes a wide variety of both animal and vegetarian foods. Care has to be taken with this diet since there are no limitations. A conscious effort has to be made to consume high quality in both categories of meat and vegetables. Carnivores are rare since their intake is basically meat. Although meat helps with muscle and tissue repair, existing solely on it can put a lot of stress on the digestive system. A macrobiotic diet is one in which only cooked foods are consumed. Raw foods are considered too hard on the system to digest and certain fish are included but they are only 5% of the diet. Last but not least is a new term which many people seem to be comfortable with, it is a flexitarian. This diet combines vegetables with smaller portions of fish and meat. Whatever way of eating you feel comfortable with make sure that it remains an enjoyable experience. Quality food is important but since we are in the Holiday season, enjoying what it has to offer in moderation is something to look forward to. Who can resist a piece of homemade pumpkin pie?
Researchers studied about 600 patients by following their recovery from open heart surgery for 17 months after their operations. Afternoon surgery produced fewer major complications such as acute heart failure. In a follow up study patients were divided into 2 groups. Some to receive morning, others to receive afternoon surgery. They discovered that the level of troponin, a measure of heart muscle damage, was significantly different in the afternoon group. Conclusion is that the genetic mechanism that protects tissue under stress functions differently in the afternoon and may prove to be more beneficial for the patient.