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Life Lines

Health news you can use.

It Might be Time to Ditch Meat

Can animal viruses transmit to humans? If in doubt, consider the bird flu (H5N1)—an outbreak that began in Chinese poultry farms in 1997—and the swine flu (H1N1)—which most likely started on a factory farm in North Carolina in 2009. Different types of hepatitis have also been found in shellfish and pork. Not to mention that researchers now believe that many cancer cases, particularly breast, colon, and lung, are linked to bovine viruses. 

Viruses do not grow on food in the same way that bacteria do. Instead, viruses use the genetic material of a host cell to develop. In this way, animals can carry viruses, which then affect humans who consume the meat of these animals. 

With the increase in animal illness, why not consider a plant-based diet?

Can Viruses in Meat Really Affect Humans? What You Need to Know,” T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies,, June 19, 2020.  

Two Minutes of Exercise to Sharpen Your Mind!

Looking for ways to improve your mental acuity? Try a little exercise.

Researchers in Sweden analyzed 13 studies that looked at the connection between exercise and the brain. They discovered that as little as two minutes of cardiovascular exercise improved “learning memory, planning and problem solving, concentration” and “verbal fluency” in participants aged 18 to 35. Exercise increased blood flow to the brain, thus helping new cells to grow.

Exercise also offers benefits for those who are older. A study of people with an average age of 66 showed that aerobic exercise gave them the same cognitive benefits. And it’s as simple as going for a brisk walk or bike ride!

Want to Study Better? Just Two Minutes of Exercise Beforehand Could Help,” CNN,, Sept. 11, 2020. 

Stress and What You Can Do About It

Mental stress has a huge impact on the body, elevating certain stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Sustained for long periods of time, these high levels can lead to insulin resistance—a major factor in lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Studies have shown that stress-related disorders can also contribute to autoimmune conditions. 

Managing daily stressors is key to avoiding these conditions. Exercise goes a long way in relieving tension and releasing endorphins—feel-good hormones—in the body. Also, take time to do something enjoyable or connect with loved ones. And last but not least, be sure to get plenty of sleep. 

What Stress Does to the Body and How to Beat It,” American Heart Association,, August 10, 2020.   

Why You Should Try Forest Bathing

When facing a national health crisis of stress-related illnesses in the 1980s, Japan encouraged its citizens to “forest bathe”—spend time outdoors in order to relieve stress. Now, research has shown the effectiveness of this therapy! 

Exposure to the essential oils, or phytoncides, produced by trees has been shown to lift depression, lower blood pressure, and strengthen the immune system to fight viruses. Being out in nature also lowers stress hormone levels. 

A study in the UK found that 120 minutes a week in nature also improved mental health. But it turns out, even just viewing a green space for as little as 40 seconds has brain benefits! 

Whatever your situation may be, find ways to take in these wonderful benefits of nature, perhaps by sitting under some trees or going for a walk in the forest.

Can Forest Therapy Enhance Health and Well-Being? Harvard Health Blog,, May 29, 2020.