The scent of Gardenia jamsinoides (more commonly known as Common Gardenia or Cape Jasmine) can conk you out as effectively as prescription sleeping pills without all the downsides, according to a new German study. In tests, the fragrant flowers apparently acted on the the exact same neurotransmitter (GABA) that valium does. Here's what that looks like: "In a Plexiglas cage whose air contained a high concentration of the fragrance, the mice ceased all activity and sat quietly in the corner." Kind of intense.
Researchers at Concordia University crunched numbers from more than 100 studies on the effects of recreational drugs on sexual performance. The list of drugs examined was long — cocaine, morphine, alcohol, caffeine, and a slew of others. And the verdict — not good. Almost across the board, drugs led to decreased sexual performance. With a few notable exceptions:More...
One solution to hot weather: huddling in your bedroom in front of the air-conditioner. Another: training your body to be a-okay with the heat. Yoga and running in extreme heat, says Dr. George Lubers, a physician with the Centers for Disease Control, “trains our bodies to develop better and larger sweat glands, to reduce body fat content, which also helps dissipation of heat, [and improve] aerobic capacity.” Oo, larger sweat glands...just what you've always wanted. (via WNYC)
As we age, our brains age too. One sign of this, sluggishness of stem cells in our brains, meaning fewer new neurons to take the place of expiring ones. But new research shows that exercise bathes your brain in a protein that counteracts this slow down. In the study, scientists first identified the protein unleashed when mice ran on a wheel, noting that it counteracted brain cell slow down chemical mechanisms by about 50%. Then they named the protein Noggin. Then they delivered large doses of Noggin straight to the brains of other mice, which became "little mouse geniuses, if there is such a thing." Extrapolation: Exercise can make you a little human genius. In the words of the study's lead author: "If ever exercise enthusiasts wanted a rationale for what they’re doing, this should be it." (via the New York Times)
Low-acid diets are gaining a following. The theory goes like this: Meat and cheese form acid in the body, higher acid levels lead to bone loss, so cut out high-acid foods and you prevent osteoporosis and stay healthy longer. Marion Nestle, a professor in the nutrition, food studies and public health department at NYU takes a look at the theory in her weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Her verdict on the low-acid theory: Dubious.More...
How many servings of chocolate would you say you eat a month?
B) About five.
C) Hm, maybe eight?
D) Somewhere between twelve and infinity.
I hope you said A, B, or C (Though I said D, and I'm okay....) Here's the deal: New research shows a strong link between depression and chocolate consumption. People who eat more than twelve servings of chocolate a month are much more likely be in the "higher depression score" category. Five or fewer servings, and you're likely to be zipping along with no depression whatsoever. Not that anyone's saying anything devastating, like that chocolate causes depression. Just that chocolate is a moody food.
Toning shoes haven't gotten universally great press. Jezebel hated the objectifying EasyTone ads. Starry04 hated them too. Some studies have cast doubts on their toning claims. But now USA Today has gotten a bunch of doctors and researchers together to really rip the shoes. Juicy tibdits:
- "Nothing about these shoes has any redeeming value to me." — David Davidson, national president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine
Earlier this week, we pointed to a new study that showed the formula for figuring out your target heart rate during exercise is different for women and men. The old formula relied on studies of men and assumed women were the same as men, just smaller. Turns out the same fallacy underlies a lot of exercise research. Yesterday, the New York Times pointed to a few notable studies highlighting what happens when instead of assuming women are like men, you actually measure them separately:More...
People with the largest networks of friends live 22% longer than people with the smallest networks of friends, according to a new study conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University. Friends are nice and all, but what do they actually do for your health? The researchers have a theory: Good friends discourage smoking and heavy drinking and other unhealthy behaviors. Here's what's really interesting though — networks of friends make a difference on longevity, but networks of relatives, including children, don't have an impact. My theory: You don't listen when your sister says you should cut your liter-a-day soda habit, put down the cigs, and go to the gym. She's just your sister. But when your friend says it, falls on different ears. Maybe? To reiterate, this theory not yet supported by science, currently just supported by me. But anyone else had this experience?
Lots of studies show that working out as you grow older can reduce your risk of developing dementia. But new research shows the hours of exercise you put in in high school have perhaps the most significant impact on your future cognitive functioning. The study, which looked at close to 10,000 women, showed that while exercise at every stage of life reduced risk of cognitive impairment down the line, once you factored in everything like smoking habits and BMI, the activity that statistically mattered the most was teenage activity. What's up with that? It might have something to do with exercise building your brain while it's in a developmental stage, and researchers also have a theory about building a youthful "cognitive reserve" you can call on later in life. They're not sure yet, but this means you should definitely nix your plans to give you nephew Grand Theft Auto for his birthday. That boy needs a tennis racket, STAT.