5 Habits That Are Draining Your Energy – Dr. David B. Samadi

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We rely on energy to get through the day, the week, the year. We know that losing out on sleep can leave us feeling drained, but sleep deprivation is only one of a long list of possible reasons behind feeling exhausted.

The following are some of the typical pitfalls which will cause chronic fatigue:

You don’t drink water. Even slight dehydration will cause a drop in energy level. This may be surprising, but dehydration actually makes your blood thicker, meaning your heart has to work harder to pump oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs, ultimately slowing you down.

You don’t eat breakfast. It’s not called the most important meal of the day for nothing! Skipping breakfast can often leave you feeling lifeless the rest of the day.  We rely on breakfast to kickstart our metabolism after a goodnight’s sleep. The body continues to burn through food and nutrients even as we sleep, leaving our stores depleted by morning.  A meal shortly after waking up is important to replenish these depleted energy stores and re-energize the body.

You have a drink to unwind. Many adults enjoy an alcoholic beverage after a long day of work, to help them unwind before bed.  However alcohol can actually interrupt your sleep at night.  Initially, the alcohol will depress the nervous system and produce a tranquilizing effect helping you to fall asleep. But as it breaks down while you sleep, it gives your body a surge of energy, likely to wake you up at night.

You stay up late on weekends. Altering your sleep cycle on the weekends can leave you feeling tired by the time Monday rolls around.  It is unrealistic to expect people to stay in on the weekends to avoid a case of the “Mondays,” but trying to stay close to your regular bed time, or at least wake time, is essential for your body. Keeping your sleep patterns regular will keep you feeling fresh throughout the day.

You check your phone in bed. The light given off by your most prized electronics – phones, TVs and tablets – can actually throw off your sleep cycles. Your body typically follows the rule of if it’s bright it’s time to get up, if it’s dark it’s time for sleep. The glow from the modern tech devices that surround us can keep us awake for longer, and make it difficult for our bodies to wind down.

So you know what you are doing wrong, but what can you do to boost your energy levels throughout the day? The best way to keep energy up is to eat well. The general rule of thumb for high-energy foods is to eat those high in fiber, but low in glycemic index.

Glycemic index (GI) measures the variation in blood sugar levels according to foods consumed. Foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, tend to have a low GI. Consuming foods with high GI will cause a spike in blood sugar and energy, translating to a jolt of energy followed by a crash. This constant up and down will leave you exhausted. For this reason we look to foods with low GI to create a sustained level of energy.

Here are some foods that will give you that much-needed boost:

  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Black beans
  • Walnuts
  • Oats

It is important to remember that energy not only refers to physical strength and alertness, but mental health as well. Whether the issue is committing yourself to too many social obligations, or always saying yes to a new project at work (even during your time off), it is important to take time for yourself. It is easy to overlook stress and anxiety as a cause of prolonged fatigue, but this can be both physically and emotionally taxing.

Getting outdoors, meditating, and regular exercise boosts strength, endurance, and energy. This movement not only delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues, but provides an influx of endorphins, boosting both your energy and mood!

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Shaking Hands is Disgusting – Here’s What Else You Can Do – Nicky Milner

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The traditional handshake plays a central role in our daily lives. We shake hands with people we know and those who are new to us. A handshake communicates our personality and mood to people and we use them as a mutually acceptable way of agreeing to seal the deal in endless scenarios.

But if you stop all that handshaking for a moment and take a closer look at the science behind this gesture, things might not seem quite so pleasant. This is in part because the human body contains many different types of bacteria. Some are good and we rely on these to help keep us healthy. Others are not so good and might make us sick.

We constantly gain and lose bacteria and so we are never sure when we might pick up an infection. Surfaces act as a route of transmission for bacteria and therefore every time we touch a surface we share bacteria unknowingly. This is why the risk of picking up an infectious disease is increased in places such as toilet seats. But have you ever thought about what bacteria you share when shaking somebody’s hand?

The power of a handshake

According to research from the University of Colorado, on average we carry 3,200 bacteria from 150 different species on our hands. And yet, shaking hands can be an everyday occurrence. It is considered to be an accepted means of greeting people and is the epitome of politeness in diverse cultures – especially in the Western world. As well as being a means of greeting people, it is also used to build rapport and trust with people. Ignoring a handshake is deemed to be impolite and rude.

Research has shown that on average, we will shake hands on average 15,000 times in our lifetime. So there are lots of opportunities for spreading bacteria between people – particularly if they are carrying potentially infectious bacteria that could make us ill. This includes faecal bacteria, which is quite common on hands.

This risk increases even further when we don’t wash our hands regularly – which is why good hand hygiene is essential. And of course, if the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics then we could inadvertently playing a role in spreading antibiotic resistance within our environment.

Fist pumps preferred

Some hospitals are so concerned about the spread of germs via handshakes that they are looking at creating handshake-free zones. Good hand hygiene and regular hand washing is often very low in hospitals. And hospital acquired infections are a major concern in healthcare institutions.

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The hospital environment is regularly monitored for the presence of potentially infectious agents that can be acquired by a patient during a stay there. Critical care wards, and those containing vulnerable patients (such as the very young, elderly and immunocompromised) are especially important since patients are more prone to severe infections.

Research performed in neonatal intensive care wards – where sick newborn babies are cared for – explored the potential for handshake free zones. The wards ran a trial to see if they could discourage handshaking and actively encourage alternative greetings – such as fist bumps, smiling and eye contact – to try to reduce the person to person spread of infectious agents.

Alternative hand shakes

But it’s not just limited to fist pumps – around the world there are many different ways of saying hello and you don’t have to look far to find “healthier” ways of greeting. The New Zealand Maori, for example, rub noses and foreheads in their traditional hongi greeting and the Japanese bow to each other. Then there are the “dap greetings” such as high fives and fist bumps – which are commonly used by young people in the Western world.

Research has shown that the amount of bacteria transferred through a handshake is twice as much when compared to a high five. Significantly lower numbers of bacteria are also transferred when a fist bump is used. This is largely due to the difference in surface areas that are in contact with each other – despite the greeting taking the same time and number of bacteria on the surface of the person initiating the greeting on each occasion.

So, is the traditional handshake being replaced with more diverse and healthier options? This will take time – if it happens at all. But that said, as awareness of infectious diseases grows and people actively try to reduce the spread of infection, perhaps there could be a future where we all high five and fist pump rather than formally shake the hands of those we meet. Or at the very least better adoption of handwashing.

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How to Minimize the Risk of Food Poisoning – Chiara Zarmati

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The year is not yet half over and already there have been seven documented multistate outbreaks of food poisoning. The latest involved eggs in their shells containing salmonella and packaged chopped romaine lettuce contaminated with the especially dangerous “hamburger bug” E. coli O157:H7.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the romaine outbreak involved 172 people sickened across 32 states, with one death.

The other outbreaks so far this year, all involving salmonella, were traced to dried coconut, chicken salad, an herbal supplement called kratom, raw sprouts and frozen shredded coconut. Last year, there were eight multistate outbreaks, and in 2016, there were 14.

With summer and its accompanying picnics and outdoor food fests fast approaching, more outbreaks are likely to mar the fun of unsuspecting diners this year. We live in a global food economy and most people purchase and consume foods produced thousands of miles away that are often packaged in bulk to simplify food preparation at home and in restaurants.

Meat, poultry and fish may come from huge farms where hundreds of thousands of animals are raised together, increasing the chance that food poisoning organisms will spread widely before they are detected.

More than 40 million cases and 3,000 deaths are estimated to result from food poisoning in this country each year. One person in six is typically sickened each year, according to the C.D.C., and the problem is getting worse.

Cases are no longer mainly tied to foods made with raw eggs (like homemade mayonnaise and eggnog) or undercooked meat and poultry. Harmful organisms now show up in foods that were not considered a problem years ago, like raspberries, cantaloupe, ice cream, salami, scallions, parsley, apple cider and even toasted oat cereal.

You can protect yourself up to a point if you take proper precautions with the foods you purchase. Most important: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If a food is meant to be refrigerated, don’t keep it at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit any longer than it takes you to get from store to home — an hour or two at most. In hot weather or a sun-drenched vehicle, transport the food in an ice-filled cooler or insulated bag.

Once home, store the foods safely. Never place raw meat, poultry or fish in the fridge where it can drip onto other foods, especially foods already cooked and fresh fruits and vegetables that may be consumed raw.

Don’t defrost frozen foods on the counter. Take them out of the freezer in ample time for them to thaw in the fridge or use a microwave oven with a defrost feature.

Food safety experts advise against rinsing raw meat, poultry and fish in the sink; it risks spreading noxious organisms on surfaces that will later come into contact with foods eaten raw. However, produce can and should be washed even if you plan to peel or cook it unless it comes in a package labeled triple-rinsed or ready to use. Rinsing, again, risks cross-contamination.

Be doubly sure to wash melons, especially cantaloupe and others with rough skins, before cutting into them lest you transfer nasty organisms from the surface of the fruit to the flesh within. But experts do not recommend using soap or bleach on foods.

Don’t assume that because the food was locally grown or from a farmers’ market, it’s free of potential hazards. Large producers operate under strict rules to prevent contamination; small local farmers may not adhere to the same constraints.

Before preparing to cook, use soap and warm water to wash your hands, under your nails and up to your wrists. Use a commercial cleanser or a solution of one teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water to clean kitchen surfaces.

When prepping foods, use separate cutting boards and knives for raw animal foods and produce, even produce you plan to cook, or wash the equipment thoroughly with soapy water between the two.

Always refrigerate foods that are being marinated, even if the marinade is acidic. Never use the same marinade on the food after it has been cooked — unless you boil it first for 10 minutes — and don’t reuse it to marinate something else.

Cook animal products to the proper temperature: 160 degrees for ground meat; 165 for poultry; 145 for pork and fin fish; until the flesh is opaque for most shellfish, and until shells open for clams, oysters and mussels. After a food is cooked, put it on a clean platter.

If you’re hosting a buffet and expect prepared or raw food to remain unrefrigerated for hours, use a portable burner (like a chafing dish) to keep hot foods hot and set those that should be cold over crushed ice.

But no matter how carefully you handle food at home, it is difficult if not impossible to reduce your risk of food poisoning if you rely heavily on restaurant-prepared and takeout foods. All it takes is one food handler along the line who harbors a noxious organism and fails to take needed precautions against contaminating the food being prepared and served.

You may be able, however, to help protect others. If you have good reason to suspect a particular source of your resultant misery, you may curb its spread and prevent others from getting sick by reporting your experience as soon as possible to your local health department and the establishment where you purchased or consumed the food.

That said, pinpointing the cause of a food poisoning incident can be very tricky. It may — or may not — originate with the last food or drink you consumed. Different organisms take varying amounts of time to produce symptoms that might be recognized as food poisoning, and the “transit time” it takes for food to make its way through the digestive tract varies from person to person.

For example, while an attack of Staphylococcus aureus typically occurs in two to four hours after consuming a contaminated food, it can take as long as two days for a norovirus or Yersinia infection to cause misery, and E. coli O157:H7 can take up to 10 days before it results in bloody diarrhea and possible kidney failure.

And if you want to know how efficient your digestive tract usually is, eat a cob of corn and notice how long it takes before undigested kernels appear in your stool. This could help you pinpoint the source of a suspected food poisoning attack.

Also, while the most common symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, several organisms — shigella, Yersinia and Clostridium perfringens — only cause diarrhea, and a severe infection with Listeria monocytogenes involves mainly fever. A hospital-based lab may be able to quickly identify the cause with a DNA test on a stool sample.

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How Often You Should Clean Your Home, According To Science – Vivian Manning

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Cleanliness can be somewhat subjective: some folks wear things once and feel compelled to wash them, while others wear them five times before exposing them to some kind of soap. But when it comes to cleaning your home, there are some standards to consider, if only for your health’s sake.

If you saw what lived on your surfaces under a microscope, your skin might crawl: Teeny tiny bacteria and microbes consisting of viruses, soil, fungi, bacteria, animal dander, pollen, sweat, excretions and skin cells all invade your spaces on a regular basis. According to research in Popular Science, the life span of a germ varies greatly depending on the bacteria and the surface.

E. coli (intestinal bacteria that can make you sick) can live for a few hours to a full day, while the calicivirus (a.k.a. the stomach flu) can live for days or weeks. So how often should you clean your tub, or wipe down your toilet or change your sheets, before they become something of a biohazard? Probably more often than you think.

Try This Science-Backed Cleaning Schedule

We asked two experts, Jason Tetro, microbiologist, visiting scientist at the University of Guelph and author of The Germ Code and The Germ Files, and Becky Rapinchuk, a cleaning expert, and author of the books Simply Clean and The Organically Clean Home, for their advice.

How often should you change the sheets?

Once a week — two at the most. Though most bacteria on sheets is environmental (like dust) and mostly harmless, the bacteria and fungi, along with the dirt and oils sloughed off during sleep, can cling to sheets and your skin, contributing to acne and dandruff. To keep your bed clean, change your sheets once a week (as Rapinchuk recommends), or a minimum of every two weeks (as Tetro recommends), and wash them in hot water.

Disinfect the sinks?

Every day. Even if they look clean, sinks can get really gross — Tetro says the bathroom sink accumulates fecal matter (from washing your hands after you use the bathroom). Also, bacteria from food, like E.Coli and Salmonella, can contaminate the kitchen sink, especially if you’ve been handling raw meat. When water splashes back up onto your hands, they’re contaminated, too. To stay on the safe side, wipe down your sinks daily.

Vacuum rugs and wash floors?

One to two weeks. Rugs should be vacuumed weekly (more often if you have pets) to keep dust, dirt and allergens at bay. Give floors a good wash or steam once every couple of weeks, says Tetro. You might want to wash your kitchen floors a little more often, due to food bacteria that can spread around.

Wipe down the bathroom?

Once a week at least. Tetro says your bathroom is the ultimate bacteria host; E.coli can be found within six feet of the toilet and in the sink. To keep it at bay, disinfect the toilet and sink at least once weekly, and the bathtub every two weeks — more if you shower often. Your shower curtains should be disinfected weekly to avoid mildew, which can cause skin, eye and throat irritation in some people.

Swap out towels?

It depends on the room. Bath towels become loaded with bacteria (including staph and fecal) and if your towel doesn’t fully dry, that bacteria can grow. Plus, dandruff-causing fungi can also grow in them, Rapinchuk recommends swapping out bath towels every other day. Your kitchen towels collect bacteria every time you handle food and wash your hands. Tetro recommends washing those weekly, unless you handled raw meat. In that case, wash the towel immediately.

Swap out sponges?

Every few days. Your kitchen sponge gets awfully germy, with billions of bacteria on every square inch, says Tetro. But don’t get freaked out — most of the bacteria isn’t harmful. Because washing sponges with soap and water doesn’t really work, Tetro recommends dropping them into boiling water for 2 minutes, putting them in the microwave for 2 minutes while damp every couple of days, and replacing them when they deteriorate.

Wipe down doorknobs?

Once a week (in some rooms). Though doorknobs accumulate a lot of bacteria, they need only need to be washed infrequently, says Rapinchuk. However, doorknobs in the bathroom and the kitchen are bound to catch a lot more bacteria, so disinfecting them at least once a week might be a good idea, especially if there’s an illness in the house.

Does all this cleaning seem daunting? If you can’t seem to keep up, do your best. Rapinchuk recommends, at the very least, making your bed every day, if only because it encourages a productive mindset. It literally takes seconds and can set up your day for success, and, hey, it may remind you that your sheets could use a good wash.

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