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Health News You Can Use | Vol. 26 No. 6 | Sep-Oct 2016

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PREGNANT MOMS AND MARIJUANA

Marijuana use during pregnancy is associated with a five-fold increase in risk of pre-term births. This comes from an Australia-based study which analyzed data from over 5,500 pregnancies across Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The study found that 36 percent of marijuana users delivered at less than 28 weeks’ gestation, with 64 percent at less than 32 weeks. By comparison, the rate for non-users was 5 percent at 28 weeks, and 16 percent at 32 weeks. With such an increase in risk, the study advises total abstinence from marijuana use during pregnancy. “Marijuana use in pregnancy is a major risk for pre-term birth,” ScienceDaily.com, May 12, 2016.

FORGIVENESS IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Being forgiving towards yourself and others can help protect against stress and its toll on mental health, according to a new study in the Journal of Health Psychology. Surveys were given to 148 young adults, assessing their levels of lifetime stress, tendency to forgive, and mental and physical health. Greater exposure to stress over one’s lifetime was found to result in worse mental and physical health. However, by being forgiving towards oneself and others, this connection was virtually eliminated. While the reasons are hard to determine, researchers speculate that people with more forgiving attitudes may adopt better coping skills or have dulled reactions to major stressors.

Loren Toussaint of Luther College in Iowa says, “Forgiveness takes that bad connection between stress and mental illness and makes it zero. I think most people want to feel good and it offers you the opportunity to do that.” “Forgiving Other People Is Good For Your Health,” Time.com, June 16, 2016.

DRINK WATER  TO MANAGE WEIGHT

A study of nearly 10,000 adults found that staying hydrated by drinking more water and eating water-loaded fruits and vegetables could help with managing weight. They found that as a person’s size increases, so also does the amount of water needed for them to stay hydrated. However, many people confuse possible symptoms of being thirsty—dry mouth, low energy or alertness—with hunger, which could worsen weight problems. One way to increase water intake while still indulging feelings of hunger: try eating more water-laden foods, such as cucumbers, celery, watermelon, raw broccoli, carrots, plums, apples, and peaches. Not only do these fruits and vegetables include valuable nutrients and water, they are also low on calories! “The new secret to losing weight? Water,” CNN.com, July 11, 2016.

THE HEALING POWER  OF NATURE

Can spending time in nature have a clinically therapeutic effect on the body? Yes! Japanese researchers have discovered a wide range of positive health benefits. The clean air, the quiet atmosphere, even the aromatic compounds that trees and plants emit contribute to measurable biological changes. One researcher found that a 40-minute walk in a forest lowered the stress hormone cortisol, compared with walking in the lab. Spending regular time in nature also increased the number of cancer-fighting cells in the blood, gave a general

overall boost to the immune system, lowered blood pressure, and lead to less depression and anxiety.

While these benefits are strongest outside, even having a plant in your room or looking at trees out the window can provide many of these benefits. “The Healing Power of Nature,” Time.com, July 14, 2016.

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