Tag Archives | Wellness

Why meditation should be taught in schools

Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0

Moyan Brenn (CC BY 2.0

Lea Waters, University of Melbourne

New research in the fields of psychology, education and neuroscience shows teaching meditation in schools is having positive effects on students’ well-being, social skills and academic skills.

A recent meta-review of the impact of meditation in schools combined the results from 15 studies and almost 1800 students from Australia, Canada, India, the UK, the US and Taiwan. The research showed meditation is beneficial in most cases and led to three broad outcomes for students: higher well-being, better social skills and greater academic skills.

Students who were taught meditation at school reported higher optimism, more positive emotions, stronger self-identity, greater self-acceptance and took better care of their health as well as experiencing reduced anxiety, stress and depression. This was compared to before the meditation programs and compared to peers who were not taught meditation.

The review also showed that meditation helps the social life of students by leading to increases in pro-social behaviour (like helping others) and decreases in anti-social behaviour (like anger and disobedience).… Read the rest

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Increased Anxiety Linked to Sitting Down

Joana Coccarelli (CC BY 2.0)

Joana Coccarelli (CC BY 2.0)

Sitting down has been linked to an increase in anxiety.

via Psyblog:

Sitting down all day has been linked to increased anxiety, a new study finds.

Low energy activities like watching TV, working at a computer or playing electronic games may all be linked to anxiety.

The link between sedentary behaviours and worse physical health is well-established.

This study is the first to review the evidence on sedentary behaviours and the psychological impact on anxiety.

Dr Megan Teychenne, who led the study, said:

“Anecdotally — we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior.

Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked.

Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.”

Continue reading.… Read the rest

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Fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat, researchers find

Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0)

Tony Alter (CC BY 2.0)

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology via Science Daily:

In the last 40 years, fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables, has been on the increase in American diets. Because of the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to many soft drinks and processed baked goods, fructose currently accounts for 10 percent of caloric intake for U.S. citizens. Male adolescents are the top fructose consumers, deriving between 15 to 23 percent of their calories from fructose–three to four times more than the maximum levels recommended by the American Heart Association.

A recent study at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois found that, matched calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat deposition.

The paper, “Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet,” was published in Scientific Reports.

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Space travel may be bad for your brain – here’s why

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

Magdalena Ietswaart, University of Stirling and Paul Dudchenko, University of Stirling

There is bad news for those planning to go to Mars in the near future: a study in mice has suggested that radiation in space could cause cognitive decline in astronauts. However, we know from past research that mental, social and physical exercise can boost cognitive functions. With planned Mars missions moving ever closer, it might be be worth exploring activity as a way to counter radiation damage.

There are many hurdles to overcome to get to Mars. The obvious one, of course, is the amount of time it takes – about eight months. But for those brave enough to attempt such a journey, this may well be acceptable. What could be harder to accept, however, are the harmful galactic cosmic rays you’d be subjected to, produced by supernovae far away from Earth.… Read the rest

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Depression may result from “hyperactivity” in “the disappointment circuit” of the brain

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Dr Jeremy Dean writes at PsyBlog:

People who are depressed may have hyperactivity in a part of the brain known as ‘the disappointment circuit’, a new study finds.

Scientists led by Professor Roberto Malinow of the University of California, San Diego, found what could amount to an antidote to feeling let-down.

The study focused on a part of the brain called the lateral habenula, which has been linked to the feeling of disappointment which follows from the absence of an expected reward.

Professor Roberto Malinow, who led the study, said:

“The idea that some people see the world as a glass half empty has a chemical basis in the brain.

What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.”

The neuroscientists found that this area, unlike almost any other in the brain, produces neurotransmitters which both ramp up and damp down brain activity.

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Muscle Strength Is in the Mind

istolethetv (CC BY 2.0)

istolethetv (CC BY 2.0)

via The Atlantic:

“If there are jocks on one side, and it’s a confrontation, the other side, by definition, has to be nerds,” David Anderegg wrote of what he calls the “archetypal struggle” in Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them.

Of course, there are moments—mostly in Disney musicals—when both camps lay down their footballs and their calculators and realize that really, brain and brawn aren’t mutually exclusive—that, in fact, they have more in common than they ever thought.

This is one of those moments.

In a small study recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers found that much of muscle strength is based on brain activity, rather than on the mass of the muscles themselves. Researchers at Ohio University’s Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute, 29 volunteers had their non-dominant arms placed in elbow-to-finger casts for four weeks. (Fifteen others acted as a cast-free control group.) Of the 29, 14 were asked to perform mental-imagery exercises five days a week, imagining themselves alternately flexing and resting their immobilized wrists for five-second intervals.

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Detoxing is Bullshit, a Term Hijacked by Charlatans and Entrepreneurs

epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)

epSos .de (CC BY 2.0)

via The Guardian:

Whether it’s cucumbers splashing into water or models sitting smugly next to a pile of vegetables, it’s tough not to be sucked in by the detox industry. The idea that you can wash away your calorific sins is the perfect antidote to our fast-food lifestyles and alcohol-lubricated social lives. But before you dust off that juicer or take the first tentative steps towards a colonic irrigation clinic, there’s something you should know: detoxing – the idea that you can flush your system of impurities and leave your organs squeaky clean and raring to go – is a scam. It’s a pseudo-medical concept designed to sell you things.

“Let’s be clear,” says Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The respectable one, he says, is the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions.

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An Ancient Way to Heal The Mind Finds New Scientific Support

By daveynin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By daveynin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Sometimes, scientists like to research things that most of us already assume. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have some proof and evidence to get us off the couch and into the woods.

via Psyblog:

Taking group walks in nature is associated with better mental well-being and lower stress and depression, a new large-scale study finds.

The study is one of the first to show that simply walking in nature doesn’t just benefit the body, but also the mind.

Sara Warber, one of the study’s authors, said:

“We hear people say they feel better after a walk or going outside but there haven’t been many studies of this large size to support the conclusion that these behaviors actually improve your mental health and well-being.”

The study evaluated a British program called ‘Walking for Health’ and it involved nearly 2,000 participants (Marselle et al., 2014).

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French Restaurants’ Food Quality Turns to ‘Merde’

PHOTO By Jan Wellmann

PHOTO By Jan Wellmann

This article originally appeared on HoneyColony.

The moment I touch down in a new city I assess the quality of the food and locate the nearest health-food store and gastro-friendly restaurants. Food is thy medicine, and given my allergies to gluten, sugar cane, and dairy, my food options are usually very limited; I have to avoid processed foods like the plague.

When I recently arrived in France, perennially known for its culinary traditions as it is, I was astonished by the amount of prepackaged and frozen foods served in French restaurants and the staggering number of loud-colored labels lining the shelves in grocery stores.

Indeed, I discovered, French restaurants and the French public at large purchased over $94 billion worth of packaged goods in 2013, according to EuroMonitor. This basically includes anything canned and wrapped, such as snack bars, spreads, canned and preserved foods, pasta, ready meals, sauces, dressings, and soup.… Read the rest

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