What exactly is meant by brisk walking? What is the pace that should be sustained? Some say it is that which is faster then a leisurely stroll. Some say that it requires that we increase our metabolic rate to three times that of sitting still. Other say that it should increase our heart rate to 70% of its maximum. The Centers for Disease Control recommend a pace in which you can talk but not sing. How are we able to figure this out? A study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine put together the results of 38 previous studies that concentrated on the number of steps per minute, heart rates, respiration intensity, different ages and varying body mass indexes to try to come up with a number of steps per minute that would constitute brisk walking. What they came up with was 2.7 miles per hour or simply 100 steps per minute. How do we make this as simple as possible to figure out? Just count the number of steps you take in 6 seconds and multiply it by 10. Following this pace for 30 minutes should be enough for most people to maintain a healthy blood flow throughout their body.
New technology is changing the science of transplants as we now know it. Through use of 3D printers everything from ears to most organs will someday be possible to reproduce. Bio-printing, although in the experimental stage, is expected to be a big part of the future of the medical field. At present many patients die while waiting for a suitable organ donor. Researchers at Wade Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have been creating porous frames resembling the shape of a particular organ they wish to reproduce. The unoccupied spaces can be filled with living cells using the printer’s bio-ink marker. At present bio-printed tissue is being used for drug testing and the first transplantable tissues are expected to be approved within one year. The process involves spraying layer upon layer of different cells and at the same time spraying polymers to help keep a particular shape. If the stems cells come from the patient receiving the transplant, there is little possibility of rejection. Approximately 125,000 people die yearly because they are unable to find a suitable organ donor. The success of 3D printers and bio-technology will make it possible to replace blood vessels, skin, bones, cartilage, organs and tissue in the near future.
Research into the microbes that lie within our gut is constantly being explored. These microbes can affect our weight, mood, our vulnerability to allergies, disease and infection. They can also have an effect on how sexy we are perceived. Researchers at M.I.T. are calling it the “glow of health”. They are finding that these microbes may have a strong effect on our skin, hair and even our stride when walking. Tests were done on male mice in which they were given human breast milk. They not only developed thick lustrous fur but had an increase in testosterone which resulted in larger testicles making them a rodent heartthrob. Female mice showed stronger anti-inflammatory markers, had healthier pregnancies and tended to their off springs in a more caring and loving way. This may suggest that not only do these healthy microbes create hormones that have a tendency to draw healthier people together but in so doing can also ensure their own survival. In another study done in Switzerland, researchers concentrated on the microbes that were responsible for body odor. Women were asked to sniff tee shirts worn by various men. The women preferred the tee shirt worn by a man whose immune system was opposite theirs. This in turn would ensure a healthier offspring with a wider variety of microbes. Having healthy gut bacteria may prove more beneficial then hair gel when seeking a mate.
Just like dogs, rats have an incredible sense of smell. They can pick up scents and extremely faint odors that humans cannot even detect. The African Giant Pouched Rat has a super strong sense of smell which has enabled them to detect land mines and other explosives. They are trained in Tanzania as early as 4 months. They are accustomed to being handled by people and even to ride in vehicles until they reach their destination. By 6 months they have learned to detect the scent of TNT. The rats wear a harness and run along a suspended wire. They are not heavy enough to detonate any of the mines. Since the program began 21 years ago these rats have detected over 100,000 mines also in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. They are now being trained to detect tuberculosis and shipments of endangered animals.
The large-scale intervention by many countries in an attempt to counteract the effects of climate change has been given the term Geo-engineering. One area of concern is the removal of excess Carbon Dioxide. Roughly half of all emissions are removed naturally from the earth. To counteract some of the CO2 emissions a Canadian Village began dispersing 100 lbs of iron rich dust in the gulf of Alaska. Their hope was that it would encourage the growth of plankton a vital food for feeding salmon. The thought process behind this is that plankton growth is sustained by iron deposits usually produced from volcanic eruptions. There is great controversy over this method called iron seeding. Some fishermen report great spurts in salmon hauls while at the same time it is an attempt at absorbing some of the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Whether it works or not it is obvious that new means of reducing our carbon footprint need to be explored.
It is a fact that carbohydrates fuel muscles while decreasing physiological and inflammatory stress brought on by working out. Sugar is the most digestible whether it is in the form of glucose, fructose, or sucrose. However, most athletes resort to a sports drink which not only supplies the necessary carbohydrates but also provides the body with unnecessary artificial flavorings and dyes. A study was done at the lab in Appalachian State University in which cyclists competed in a 47 mile race. Some used only water, others leaned on a sports drink and the last group bananas. The groups that had either the sports drink or eaten a banana had less inflammatory markers in their blood after the race. However, the group that had eaten bananas had less of a particular enzyme known as COX-2 which increases inflammation in the body. Athletes sometimes have a problem with eating bananas because they feel bloated after eating the fruit. The solution may lie in dates which have a considerable higher level of fructose, a natural fruit sugar. This along with the fact that they are a much smaller fruit and are more economical than the cost of a sports drink makes this a better choice.
Latest science is showing that endurance exercise will not make you more vulnerable to sickness as previously thought. How is it that long tiring workouts can have this effect. In the 1980’s most scientists believed that these intense workouts would leave the body so fatigued that it would be susceptible to any number of illnesses. In the decades that followed scientists began to look more closely at the immune system.The findings contradicted what had been previously thought. It seems that during strenuous exercise the immune cells begin to flow into the bloodstream from all parts of the body saturating all the tissues. After extreme exercise the number of immune cells had actually increased which would be in accordance to what our ancestors experienced while they were escaping predators or chasing prey. Research published in Frontiers of Immunology showed that when mice were put through intense exercise their number of immune cells increased and were flooded into the bloodstream. Unlike previously thought, they did not decrease and die off. Instead they migrated to other organs and tissues strengthening the animals immune system. Testing is now being done to verify this in humans and is showing more and more evidence of the benefits of any form of exercise and how it strengthens our immune system.
One of the best ways to stay on track with healthy eating is to cook once but make enough for three meals. However, this can become very boring if you find yourself reheating the same meal every evening. Let me give you an example of how I work around this. The first night I may make a pan of breaded fish filets covered in spices and lemon. On the second evening, I saute an onion with raisins and cover the reheated fish. On the third evening I reheat the fish covered in marinated red peppers and mushrooms. Not only are you incorporating different minerals and vitamins by adding different ingredients but you are able to make each meal a new experience.
Not only is it totally enjoyable sharing a story with a child, but research is showing that it can develop strong neural connections in the child’s brain. Reading has a strong influence on cognitive development. It exercises the brain, improves concentration, increases vocabulary and later on improves their grades in school. By stimulating a child’s imagination they are able to learn about people and places outside their own experience. According to a study done at New York University School of Medicine, children who are read to are able to develop empathy by imagining they are in a similar situation and are able to feel what a character is feeling. It can also be responsible for curbing later problems such as aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention. Phones and tablets take little space and make it so easy to sit in a park with your child and start reading an e-book.