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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Today’s Headlines: The Link Between a Healthy Heart and Brain, How Trees Can Reduce Stress, and Why Air Pollution Could Be Dangerous to Your Health

Practicing a heart-healthy lifestyle may also have great benefits for your brain. A new study has shown the importance of being health-conscious. “Researchers looked at seven factors that can contribute to better heart health: never smoking or being an ex-smoker; healthy body weight; 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise; a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish with little salt and sugar; and cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar in the ideal ranges. The more heart-healthy traits participants had at the beginning of the study, the better they scored on brain processing speed, or the ability to quickly perform tasks that require focused attention.” While there were some drawbacks to the study, overall it showed that the brain and the heart are linked: therefore it is important to have a healthy lifestyle to take care of both. (Reuters)

Going outside, or looking at pictures of nature, may decrease stress and increase happiness. Greenery has been shown to improve mood, but a recent study has shown that perhaps just looking at a photo of nature may be beneficial. A new study had students look at pictures on a computer screen: “Half the pictures displayed urban spaces full of buildings and parked cars; the rest were green places…Having viewed the photos, the students tackled a series of increasingly difficult computerized math… When the students saw green spaces after the math stressor, their parasympathetic nervous systems kicked in, lowering heart rates, for example.” The green space pictures did not help the students’ stress when viewed before the test, they only helped afterwards to calm down and de-stress. (NYT)

The polluted air you’ve been breathing in may increase your risk for diabetes. Researchers were not completely sure of the link between pollution and diabetes but they observed “an increased risk of high cholesterol and impaired processing of blood sugar” while doing the study. The researchers suggested that “It’s possible that air pollution causes inflammation in the body, which triggers a chain reaction that makes it harder for people to process blood sugar…Some previous research has linked air pollution from traffic and other sources to an increased risk of type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, which happens when the body can’t properly use or make enough of the hormone insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.” A study of this nature has not been frequently tested on human subjects; however the researchers seemed hopeful in finding a link. (Fox)

The post Today’s Headlines: The Link Between a Healthy Heart and Brain, How Trees Can Reduce Stress, and Why Air Pollution Could Be Dangerous to Your Health appeared first on The Oz Blog.

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