A new study has concluded that when we eat our supper is an important factor in reducing risk of certain cancers. The researchers monitored people’s eating times and noticed that prostate and breast cancer risk was connected to later dinners. Your final meal of the day should ideally be before 9pm and two hours before you go to sleep. What’s really neat about this research is that doctors may start considering cancer treatment via diet in addition to modern therapies.
“Our study concludes that adherence to diurnal eating patterns is associated with a lower risk of cancer,” explained ISGlobal researcher Manolis Kogevinas, lead author of the study. The findings “highlight the importance of assessing circadian rhythms in studies on diet and cancer”, he added.
If the findings are confirmed, Kogevinas noted, “they will have implications for cancer prevention recommendations, which currently do not take meal timing into account”. He added: “The impact could be especially important in cultures such as those of southern Europe, where people have supper late.”
You’ve been breathing your entire life and some of us can improve our techniques despite years of practice. Go ahead and think about your breathing right now. Are you breathing using your thoracic diaphragm?
If you’ve attend a yoga class then you might be familiar with the technique of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth using your belly. It turns out that breathing that way is really good for you. It relaxes your mind, lowers your blood pressure, and it’s all thanks to the stimulus of the vagus nerve. Check your breath before you wreck yourself.
When it comes to effective vagal maneuvers, any type of deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing—during which you visualize filling up the lower part of your lungs just above your belly button like a balloon…and then exhaling slowly—is going to stimulate your vagus nerve, activate your parasympathetic nervous system, and improve your HRV.
Some people make time every day to practice diaphragmatic breathing as part of a yoga or mindfulness-meditation routine. Others only take a really deep breath anytime they catch themselves feeling “panicky,” need to have grace under pressure, or want to relieve some frustration. All of these applications of diaphragmatic breathing can reap huge benefits.
Well not just Haydn, or classical music for that matter – a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has shown that the greater an individual’s engagement in cultural activities, the greater the benefit to their personal health. This trend exists across many different artistic and creative pursuits, and affects both men and women. The participants in the study were asked questions concerning their health, satisfaction in life, and levels of anxiety and depression, as well as questions pertaining to their involvement in participatory (playing an instrument, painting, singing, etc.) or receptive (going to a concert or play) culture.
Both types of cultural activity were linked with good health, wellbeing, low stress and low depression even when other factors, such as social background and wealth, were taken into account. In men the effect was most pronounced in those who preferred to get their dose of culture as an observer rather than doing something more hands on.
So next time you’re feeling down or under the weather, get out there and indulge your creative side!
Something like 6 percent of the North American population wears glasses. If you’re amongst these four-eyes, you probably appreciate your local optometrist, who makes your vision possible. Unfortunately, people in developing countries don’t get to have a local optometrist — and that means no glasses. Happily, an inventor has just created glasses that people can adjust themselves, obviating the need for prescriptions and experts. And he’s getting them out to the people who need them.
The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing. During an early field trial, funded by the British government, in Ghana, Silver met a man called Henry Adjei-Mensah, whose sight had deteriorated with age, as all human sight does, and who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle of his sewing machine. “So he retires. He was about 35. He could have worked for at least another 20 years. We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see.”
Apparently the best thing you can do is for your body is give it a good night’s sleep.
But a new study presented at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience shows how disrupting your sleep cycle can interfere with your health and cognitive function. (1) Researchers from Rockefeller University disrupted the circadian rhythms of mice by exposing them to 10 hours of light followed by 10 hours of darkness. After two months of this, the mice were in need of more than a little nap. They had difficulty learning. They were more impulsive. And they got fat, thanks in part to changes in appetite hormones and metabolism.
These changes all reflect a problem with one thing: self-regulation. Even at the most basic task of homeostasis-maintaining normal body temperature-these mice were messed up. One reason why: The researchers found changes in the animals’ medial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain most important for self-control. This area of the brain is especially sensitive to disruptions in sleep and diet.
This isn’t the first study to show that interrupting natural sleep cycles is harmful. A previous study (whose mouse participants were even more unfortunate) found that chronic jet lag can be fatal. (2) Uh, yikes. Suddenly my frequent flier miles are looking less appealing. Another study, this time with hamsters in the unfortunate role of the sleep-disrupted, found that altering natural circadian rhythms results in systemic organ disease. (3)
Plenty of other studies have found that the more common sleep problem-not enough-interferes with stress management, emotion regulation, learning, and willpower.