Veröffentlicht am

New study proves the power of produce prescriptions

With heart disease and obesity rampant across the globe, it’s hard to avoid falling victim to costly medications and fad diets. But new research reveals a simple, yet effective, way to support our heart health once and for all. 

It seems like every second story in the news cycle is about the latest trending weight loss method. And while mankind has been transfixed on achieving peak physical condition since the dawn of time, we’ve entered a brand new age of pursuit. 

With weight loss injections, such as Ozempic and Wegovy,  dominating the market, more people are turning to quick and easy fixes when it comes to slimming down for their health. 

But researchers behind a new study diving into the impact fresh fruit and vegetables have on our overall health have released their latest findings, proving once and for all the power of healthy, unprocessed nutrition.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

What the study entailed

Facilitated by the American Heart Association, the study followed several groups of adults with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Doctors authorised ‘produce’ prescriptions to the participants, encouraging an increase in their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

“Patients received electronic cards or vouchers to access free or discounted produce of their choice at retail grocery or farmers‘ markets,” says study lead author Kurt Hager, Ph.D., M.S.

Receiving a median monthly allowance of $63.00 USD, participants purchased fresh produce from local food stores and farmers markets.

At the commencement of the study, participants were asked to complete questionnaires about their fruit and vegetable consumption, health status, and food security, as well as undergo testing of their general health stats. At the study’s conclusion, all questionnaires and physiological tests were repeated for comparison.

The results speak for themselves 

At the conclusion of the study, an overwhelming majority of the participants recorded measurable reductions in their blood pressure, body mass index and blood sugar levels.

Adult participants reported their average intake of fruits and vegetables increased by almost one cup per day, and children involved in the study recorded an average increase of a quarter cup per day.

When initial readings of systolic blood pressure were compared with data at the conclusion of the research, the participants were found to have experienced a decrease of more than 8 mm of mercury. Of the participants who entered the study with high blood pressure, a decrease of nearly 5 mm in diastolic blood pressure was recorded.

Blood sugar amongst the participants was found to have decreased by 0.29 to 0.58 percentage points among adults with diabetes.

BMI also significantly improved across the board, with adults categorised as obese recording a reduction of 0.52 kgs per square metre among adults with obesity.

„This analysis of produce prescription programs illustrates the potential of subsidised produce prescriptions to increase consumption of nutritious fruits and vegetables, reduce food insecurity and, hopefully, improve subjective and objective health measures,” says Dr Mitchell Elkind, chief clinical science officer of the American Heart Association. 

More than just nutritional benefits

Not only did the study prove its measurable success through physiological factors, the research team found additional socioeconomic benefits, such as an increase in food security. 

„We know that food insecurity impacts health through several important pathways, including overall dietary quality,” said Hager. “But also through stress and anxiety, mental health and tradeoffs between paying for food and other basic needs such as housing costs, utilities and medications.”

Despite only lasting several months, participants attended nutrition classes throughout the study period, promoting and instilling long-term healthy habits.

While the study was conducted in a controlled setting, it still offers great news for anyone looking to naturally support their heart health. Outside of the study, you don’t actually need a prescription for fresh fruits and vegetables. They’re easily accessible, an economical alternative to other forms of nutrition,  and promote sustainability. 

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Pollution is worse for your health than smoking and alcohol, experts say

New research has shed light on just how bad pollution is for your health, and it’s actually knocking years of our lives.

Experts are calling for more investments to be made into the air we breathe, after experts discovered in some countries, air pollution is a greater risk to our health than smoking and alcohol.

This is a staggering discovery, given air is essential to human existence.

According to the annual Air Quality Life Index report, air pollution reduces the average lifespan globally by 2.3 years. In some of the most polluted countries, it’s reduced by almost 7 years.

The report has labelled this environmental crisis the “greatest external threat to human life expectancy.”

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

The effects of inhaling unclean air are comparable to smoking, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found, adding that it causes three times the damage of alcohol use, and five times the damage of injuries sustained in a car crash.

In the US alone, polluted areas of California showed residents who were exposed to high levels of fine matriculate matter presented symptoms of health distress on the brain and lungs.

So, if this is the impact air pollution is having in America alone, what about the worst affected continents? According to the report, as noted in the New York Post, Africa and Asia contribute to more than 92 per cent of the global life expectancy loss. 

The publication noted that air pollution is now a greater threat to public health than HIV/AIDS and malaria.

“Three-quarters of air pollution’s impact on global life expectancy occurs in just six countries, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, China, Nigeria and Indonesia, where people lose one to more than six years off their lives because of the air they breathe,” said Michael Greenstone, Air Quality Life Index creator and Milton Friedman distinguished service professor in economics.

In 2023, the World Health Organization estimated that 99 per cent of the world was breathing potentially toxic air, meaning Australians are suffering, too.

“After surviving a pandemic, it is unacceptable to still have seven million preventable deaths and countless preventable lost years of good health due to air pollution,” says Dr María Neira, the director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

Now experts like Greenstone, Neira and Christa Hasenkopf, director of the Energy Policy Institute air quality programs and AQLI, are urging the higher powers to invest in infrastructure to help with air quality, something that’s lacking in these countries.

Researchers see this as an opportunity for further funding to “collaboratively build the infrastructure that is missing today.”

“Timely, reliable, open-air quality data, in particular, can be the backbone of civil society and government clean air efforts – providing the information that people and governments lack and that allows for more informed policy decisions,” Hasenkopf told the New York Post.

Here in Australia, we do far better than most countries on the pollution index. According to the Australia Air Quality Index, Katherine in Western Australia is the most heavily polluted city in Oz, followed by Cooma in NSW and Wangaratta in Victoria. 

As for the cleanest air Down Under? In real-time, Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is the safest spot, followed by Ivanhoe in Victoria and Andamooka in South Australia.

But unless pollution on a global scale is significantly reduced, we’ll all be suffering the consequences for years to come.

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Beer googles are a myth, science says

Next time you pull the old ‚beer goggles‘ excuse for a drunken hookup, you might need to think again, because researchers say they’re a myth.

Have you ever consented to a drunken hookup with someone you thought was super-attractive, only to regret locking lips with them the next morning?

Did you blame the party pash on being intoxicated? Well, you might need to refrain from using ‚beer goggles‘ as an excuse, because researchers have discovered that it’s actually not true at all.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

The study enlisted 18 pairs of men in their 20s to test the effect of „alcohol-induced mirage“, and found that the participants didn’t budge on how attractive they found people regardless of their state.

“Conventional wisdom would suggest that alcohol leads people to perceive others as more physically attractive,” Dr Molly Bowdring, study author and Stanford University professor, told The New York Post.

Alcohol did, however, give participants a confident spring in their step. The study participants consumed around three standard drinks in a little over 30 minutes, and what happened was that they were more likely to approach people they found attractive as a result. 

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to look at whether people choose to interact with more attractive people after drinking,” Dr Bowdring explained, who noted that previous studies have explored similar notions, but participants were drinking alone. This time, participants were seeing people in real, social situations.

“Because physical attractiveness plays a pretty key role in our social experiences, we wanted to better understand how does alcohol influence that.”

On the plus side, alcohol can positively “alter our social motivations” in the sense that it can give us a dose of  Dutch courage, to take a leap of faith, something anxiety may stop us from doing in sober circumstances. 

However, it can also lead us to higher-risk situations as our ability to judge potential danger is severely lessened, and, as many of us know, it can also lead us to regret things we may have said thanks to that extra dose of confidence.– not to mention the plethora of health considerations. 

No one likes a moral hangover, so it’s always best to drink in moderation and remember to hydrate with some trusty water between each alcoholic bevvy. Your head and moral compass will thank you.

Source link

Veröffentlicht am

Three Ways Your Business May Be Killing Your Employees and Customers

Yes, you read the title of this article right! Three overlooked causes of serious health problems are having a detrimental impact on the health of employees and customers. Fortunately, important research is bringing these vital business health concerns to light. According to a landmark 2018 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), leading Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) in homes and businesses are:

* Environmental noise;

* Air quality; and

* Water quality.

Governmental health agencies worldwide are actively studying SDoH using advanced cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems. This article will discuss the importance of these findings on business owners. Other articles in this series will present inexpensive methods for improving health in polluted business environments.

Environmental Noise

Both indoor and outdoor factors contribute to the level of noise in homes and businesses. Indoor sources of noise include ventilation systems, white noise machines, and appliances and other machines. Outdoor sources of noise include cars, trucks, airplanes, playgrounds, schools, and construction and other urban activities.

According to the WHO report, the expansion of urban activities, highways, airports, and low-quality building construction increases the level of noise that people are exposed to in homes and businesses. All told, these factors are known as „environmental noise.“

In addition to hearing loss and lack of sleep, SDoH studies have revealed that excess noise has other detrimental effects on health. Guidelines based on AI analysis of SDoH found that the relative risk for death by heart attack or stroke increases 14% for every 10 dBA increase above the annual average of 45 dBA daytime and 35 dBA nighttime.

For example, a 50 dBA turbine installation that meets current US and EU standards, running all day, every day imposes a 7% increased risk of heart attack and stroke annually on people exposed to the turbine’s noise.

Since the typical business office „cruises along“ at 55 dBA, it’s easy to see the negative effects that noise is having on employees‘ health!

Consequently, WHO noise guidelines of 45 dBA day and night will soon be adopted in the US by the NIH, HUD, NIOSH, EPA, and HHS. This means it behooves businesses to proactively implement measures for reducing noise.

Air Quality

As opposed to noise, poor air and water quality are more „silent killers.“ In business, owners are responsible for providing a healthy workplace by ensuring proper building construction and maintenance. Management of moisture requires proper control of temperatures and ventilation to avoid excess humidity, condensation on surfaces and excess moisture in materials. Ventilation should be distributed effectively throughout spaces, and stagnant air zones avoided.

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can also result from the presence of furnishings and building materials containing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, radon, and others. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been linked to certain diseases like asthma. In addition, substances such as asbestos and radon do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after many years of exposure. Poor outdoor air quality results from vehicle exhaust, industrial pollution, commercial manufacturers and construction sites.

Poor air quality is a major health concern. Like noise, AI analysis found increased risk of serious stroke and fatal heart attacks when poor air quality (indoor and outdoor) is present. AI analysis of SDoH found that the relative risk for death by heart attack or stroke increases 14% when you live and work breathing poor quality indoor and outdoor air.

Water Quality

Significant adverse health effects have been associated with inadequate plumbing systems in businesses and homes stemming from poor design, incorrect installation, alterations, and inadequate maintenance.

Numerous factors affect the quality of water within a building’s piped distribution system. Poorly designed plumbing systems, for instance, can cause stagnation of water and provide a suitable environment for the proliferation of Legionella.

Moreover, improper plumbing materials, pipes, fittings and coatings can result in elevated concentrations of lead in drinking-water, and inappropriate materials can be conducive to bacterial growth.

According to the EPA, there is evidence that several metals found in drinking water (such as lead and arsenic) may contribute to heart disease or aggravate its symptoms. In addition, Stroke reports that even low exposure to arsenic is associated with an increased risk of stroke. To the surprise of investigators, AI analysis of SDoH found that the relative risk for death by heart attack or stroke increases 14% when you live and work where you drink or breathe (yes breathe) poor quality water. Researchers discovered that toxins such as lead, arsenic and even radon can be found in municipal and well water in quantities 100 times or more than found in poor quality air. Of even greater concern is that even if you do not drink the water coming from the faucet at home and work, the water that is aerosolized while running that faucet to wash your hands and aerosolized when flushing the toilet can carry enough contaminants to increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.


In conclusion, excessive environmental noise, poor air quality, and poor water quality can all lead to serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke. When these Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) are present in your businesses, they can quite literally be killing your employees and customers. Now that the findings are in, the next step for business owners is action.

Source by Allison A. Sakara

Veröffentlicht am

Here’s how to protect yourself against the most common parasites

In the wake of a world-first parasite discovery in Australia, people’s interest in the little passengers has piqued. But the risk of acquiring a parasite isn’t as high as you think. 

Regardless of whether you religiously scroll the top stories every morning on the bus, or instead spend that time immersed in your favourite playlist, there’s no doubt you’ve seen the latest parasite discovery. 

In a world-first this week, a neurosurgeon stumbled upon an 8cm live worm inside a woman‘s brain, and the discovery has enlivened Australia’s reputation as home to the world’s worst creepy crawlies. And while it seems this infamous parasite has rooted itself firmly in the world’s news cycle for the foreseeable future, there’s really no need for mass hysteria

Dr Tom Snelling, professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, breaks down exactly which parasites are worth taking up metaphorical space in our brains.

Like what you see? Sign up to our newsletter for more stories like this.

Above all, the infectious diseases physician warns against unnecessary stress, saying despite recent headlines, critically serious parasite infections are incredibly rare in Australia. 

Even so, Dr Snelling says there’s plenty of common parasites that you’re bound to come across at some point in your lifetime, so it’s worth being aware of their impact. 

Common parasites in Australia

“There are a number of parasites that commonly infect people, but they only rarely cause serious infection,” he says, of well known parasites such pinworms, head lice and scabies, each infamous for causing itching in the anus, on the scalp, and on the skin respectively. 

In remote and tropical parts of Australia, we occasionally see other types of worm infections of the bowel, but these only occasionally cause serious problems.

“One worm, Strongyloides, may become a problem in people with very suppressed immune systems because of therapy for cancer or organ transplantation,” explains Dr Snelling. “Likewise, giardia and cryptosporidium are parasites that can occasionally cause severe diarrhoea, especially in people with weakened immune systems.” 

Like immuno-suppressed people, pregnant women can also face a greater risk of more severe symptoms, with a particular parasite infection, toxoplasma, causing serious harm to the developing foetus.

“Serious parasite infections occur more frequently in other parts of the world, and we sometimes see serious infections in people returning from overseas,” says Dr Snelling, explaining worm infections seen in other countries can be a common cause of anaemia and severe fatigue.

What can we do to avoid becoming a parasite’s new host?

According to Dr Snelling, parasites can be acquired from other people, form the environment, or by eating contaminated food. In the case of the headlining Australian brain parasite, the woman became an unsuspecting host after foraging, cooking and eating native greens containing traces of contaminated carpet Python droppings. 

“The best way to avoid infection is by washing hands with soap before eating, and thoroughly washing raw foods, including leafy vegetables.” Dr Snelling says. 

Aside from practising good food hygiene, the infectious diseases expert encourages us to be wary of animals, even our beloved cavoodles. 

“Animals can carry parasites and potentially harmful bacteria, so it is important to make sure you and your children wash your hands with soap after handling animals or their poo,” he says. “This includes things like snails and slugs.”

So are all parasites evil, hellbent on sucking us dry of our health and vitality? The answer isn’t quite as simple as you’d expect.

“It’s possible that some parasites might have a positive effect on the immune system,” Dr Snelling says. “ It’s theorised that the human immune system has evolved to handle parasitic infection to a certain extent, and that some exposure might reduce the risk, or even improve certain allergic and immune-related conditions.”

Now, in what seems to be a modern-day nod to mediaeval leech therapies, researchers have started investigating whether certain parasites could one day be used as a therapeutic strategy. 

But as Dr Snelling reiterates, these investigations are still in their early stages, and to date no medical or scientific expert is encouraging people to deliberately expose themselves to parasites– unless of course it’s the Oscar winning Korean thriller.  

Source link