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Health News You Can Use | Vol. 28 No. 6 | Sep-Oct 2018

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BRAIN DAMAGE FROM SPORTS INJURIES

Research continues to show the serious link between Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)—degenerative brain diseases—and injuries sustained by players of soccer and American football. An increasing amount of ex-professional football players are reporting brain injuries and diseases supposedly connected to concussions. In response to these reports, the US Soccer Federation banned headers (a technique that involves head contact with the ball) for players ages 10 and under. The fascination and fanaticism with these sports can be diminished by not glamorizing them and discouraging children’s involvement—thereby minimizing their risk of CTE. There is no risk-free route to fame and wealth in the sports field. Head Injuries, Dementia a More Pressing Topic for Young Players,” Sports Illustrated, www.si.com, Oct., 3 2017.

THE BENEFITS OF FOREST BATHING

Taking a “forest bath” has been shown to yield impressive health benefits. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is the intentional Japanese practice of immersing yourself in nature through walking or thoughtful meditation. An experiment performed on 12 healthy males, 37 to 55 years of age, measured the effects on the immune system after a day of forest bathing. Nearly all the participants had a significant increase in blood levels of natural killer cells and anti-cancer proteins. The effect lasted for seven days. A similar study showed that forest bathing also decreased depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion. The benefits of forest bathing could not be replicated in another group of middle-aged men who took a tourist visit to a city environment.

These effects can be gained through any exposure to nature in an outdoor environment, including eating in nature, gardening, camping, and hiking. Spending time in nature can be suited to any level of fitness and enjoyed anywhere. Just visit a park or garden and allow all your senses to soak in the sights, sounds, and smells. “For Your Health,” Time, www.time.com, May 1, 2018.  

THE BRIGHT SIDE OF SUN EXPOSURE

Getting more sunlight may lead to weight loss, suggests new research. Fat cells that regulate metabolism, subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT), were extracted from patients that went through weight loss surgery. It was observed that scWAT cells “tend to shrink under the effect of the sun’s so-called blue light….” As a result there would be less fat storage. Peter Light, the leading researcher, suggested that “the insufficient sunlight exposure we get 8 months of the year living in a northern climate may be promoting fat storage and contribute to the typical weight gain some of us have over winter.” Get some sun while you can! Weight loss breakthrough: Sunlight is key,Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com, Jan. 11, 2018.

GOOD NEWS FOR YOUR SWEET TOOTH

Consuming 200 grams (equal to 8 soda cans) of sugar a day can be beneficial—as long as all of that sugar is in the form of unrefined and whole fruit. Study participants ate 20 servings of fruit daily for a few weeks. Their weight, blood pressure, insulin, and lipid levels had no adverse effects from that diet.

Health professionals recommend a restricted amount of fruit intake for diabetics because of fructose. However, a study with diabetics showed that the recommendation wasn’t necessary. Group one had the same calories as group two with the exception of higher fruit consumption. At the end of the trial, both groups had reduced blood sugar levels, body weight, and waist circumference. While fructose and table sugar cause problems when they are added to foods, whole, unrefined fruit, on the other hand, is beneficial in almost any amount. Fruit Has Fantastic Health Benefits, But Can You Eat Too Much Fruit?” Food Revolution Network, foodrevolution.org, Feb. 24, 2017.

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