Author: Caroline Reed

Health Benefits of Going Green

House plants have always been a staple of many people interior and exterior design. Our fascination and attraction to greenery is long-ingrained in human history. However, new research is show that there may be serious health benefits to being exposed to greenery. A UCLA study has shown that increasing “greenness” in urban settings can improve mental health.

In addition to this, there are a number of other studies which suggest positive relationships between greenness and a number of disease outcomes, such as obesity, preterm birth outcomes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. These studies provide interesting and exciting glances into an emerging field, which highlights the importance of greenness and preserving natural landscapes. These things can improve public health, and likewise benefit our natural environment.

 

 

http://dailybruin.com/2019/04/09/ucla-study-suggests-spending-time-in-green-spaces-may-improve-mental-health/

https://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/2017/11000/Interrelationships_Between_Walkability,_Air.4.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181932/

http://med.miami.edu/news/residential-blocks-with-greater-greenness-linked-to-lower-risk-for-alzheime/

 

 

 

 

A Need to Address Student Stress

For both collegiate and graduate students, stress is a commonplace experience. Research findings are showing that students are experiencing anxiety at troubling and increasing rates. Nearly one in five American college students is burned with an anxiety disorder. Stress – specifically financial stress – is expected to be one of the factors underwriting this epidemic.

Although stress is traditionally defined as “how the brain and body respond to any demand”, particularly those which are negative – such as traumatic events, major life changes, etc. However, with stress can come a range of unexpected physical side effects. This includes but is not limited to: headaches, low energy, aches and pains and insomnia. Over time, when someone endures prolonged stress, it can lead to more serious consequences, such as anxiety and mental health deficits.

Experiencing some stress is a normal and necessary part of everyone’s lives. However, as mentioned above, excess stress can yield serious adverse health consequences. It’s important to keep one’s stress in balance, and healthline.com has provided a short list of ways to help reduce stress:

  • Talk about your stress to a friend, or family member
  • Listen to music
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Exercise
  • Be mindful
  • Get better sleep

 

https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/anxiety-epidemic-hits-american-college-students-at-campuses-nationwide/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/10-ways-to-relieve-stress

 

 

 

Lack of Diversity in Fashion: impacts on mental health

Today, when one looks through the catalogues and social media accounts of many well-known fashion brands, homogeneity can be expected. When focusing specifically on women’s fashion, there is a major issue of lack of representation in diversity of models. This applies to many fronts: lack of diversity in race, body size, body type, etc. Trans-women and women who don’t conform to gender “norms” are often excluded, and brands rarely depict models with visible health conditions and/or disabilities.

This lack of representation can have seriously negative impacts on the mental health of many people of different ages. Most often, models are skinny, tall, and white. When these are the only women being depicted in the media as desirable – it can weigh heavily on the shoulders of those who do not and cannot conform to these standards.

The good news: the tides seem to be changing. Certain brands have begun to combat these patterns in fashion branding. This is not in an attempt to tear current models down, but rather to lift women of all shapes, sizes, colors and statuses up. Aerie – a women’s clothing and lingerie brand – has taken on the frontline in this battle. In 2014, Aerie launched “AerieReal”, an admirable campaign to promote the beauty of all types of women in an untouched beauty campaign. Brands like Aerie serve as a beacon here and sets a positive example of how to better promote the physical and mental health of their customers.

https://www.entitymag.com/diversity-fashion-moves-slower-models-catwalk/

https://www.hercampus.com/school/western/fashion-and-mental-health

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/aerie-all-women-project-ad-diversity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVJDs9nVbsY

 

 

Fear vs Hope: Appeals & Climate Change Communication

Communicating the health consequences of climate change can be challenging, especially when the audience is full of climate-deniers. In the field of climate change communication, there is often much debate over the usage of fear appeals vs. hope appeals. In the past, many campaigns have leaned towards using fear as a persuasive tactic. However, now, the tides seem to be shifting away from this. Yale University has researched climate communication on many fronts and finds that fear may actually lead to further pushback and disbelief of global warming.

At the same time, messages which lack realism on the severity of climate change are not found to resonate either. These messages often fail to generate interest or understanding in the importance of the issue, and often fail to inspire audiences to believe and/or take action on the issue.

Instead, the right communication tactic requires a perfect “cocktail” of emotion.  Behavioral scientists believe that these messages cannot be over-simplified into “fear” or “hope” appeals. Instead, each message should be thoughtfully tailored to the desired audience. And through this, Yale University offers a couple of important points to keep in mind through message development:

  • Connect with audience
  • Provide information at beginning
  • Address the concept of “urgency”
  • Be persuasive
  • Use credible messengers
  • Use opportunities well
  • Connect with viewer’s values and beliefs
  • Create a sense of “uniting and conquering.”

 

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/04/climate-fear-or-hope-change-debate

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2012/01/helping-the-cause-or-making-enemies/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-017-0021-9?WT.feed_name=subjects_scientific-community-and-society

 

 

 

Allergies on the Rise Alongside Global Temperatures

It is becoming well-known that the impacts of climate change will extend far beyond environmental damages. Climate change is anticipated to affect many different aspects of human health. Infectious disease, temperature related illness and injury, and food safety are just a few areas which may be prone to yield serious consequences for human health. Within this, we are already seeing the impacts of climate change on health now.

Allergy season is upon us and is also vulnerable to on-going changes in our climate. It is understood that climate change is and will continue to affect air quality in a number of ways. These damages include increases in levels of regional ozone, particulate matter, and even allergen production. Rates of allergies have been on the rise – and while there are many theories as to why this may be, these rates have increased alongside rising temperatures. Increasing levels of CO2 and rising temperatures have been shown to amplify the allergenic effects of pollen and mold spores. Much of this is due to warmer temperatures, as it allows trees to be able to pollinate earlier in the season and for longer periods of time.

These events highlight the importance of supporting policy which acknowledges and addresses global warming as a threat. Climate change is not just an environmental issue – it is an issue of human health and quality of life. As we continue to see environmental changes and damages from climate change, we can expect to see continued impacts on human health.

 

 

https://health2016.globalchange.gov/

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/climatechange/health_impacts/index.cfm

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/programs/geh/climatechange/health_impacts/asthma/index.cfm

https://www.climatecentral.org/news/report-pollen-allergies-climate-change

 

 

 

 

 

“Goop” Brand and Fake Health Products

Valued at $250 million dollars in 2018, the “Goop” brand has taken commercial health and beauty market by storm. While many of this company’s products are harmless – such as lotions and accessories – there are a number of products which have generated a lot of negative feedback. In 2018, Goop was charged for false claims regarding two of their products. At this time, the brand was selling “vaginal eggs” (made of rose quartz).  Supposedly, following vaginal insertion, these eggs could help balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase bladder control. None of these claims are backed by research, and even came under direct criticism from a renowned gynecologist and other medical professionals. Similarly, another one of their products – an essential oil – was criticized for false claims of preventing depression.

Despite this, Goop brand has continued to grow, gaining more revenue and customers. Although this brand has gained an exceptional amount of media attention, it only represents one of many brands falsifying health-related products. Companies like Goop often claim they provide “alternative treatments” to mainstream or pharmaceutical agents. But in reality, many of these fake products can be completely useless or even harmful. Many of these products are expensive, and wrongfully solicit money for worthless/harmful products. Additionally, products or methods which make claims to prevent serious diseases – such as depression or cancer – are providing false hope and might delay needed medical treatments. With internet culture in full-swing, it’s important to research the legitimacy of any alternative health products/claims, and to trust expert advice when necessary.

 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/05/health/goop-fine-california-gwyneth-paltrow/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/style/goop-gwyneth-paltrow-dr-jen-gunter.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-fake-health-news-may-be-influencing-you-to-make-dangerous-decisions

 

 

 

Media Misconceptions: Why Juicing is NOT a Healthy Trend

Misleading health trends are nothing new in the age of social media. Every week there seems to be a new diet to “cleanse” or lose weight. Amongst these things, “juice cleanses” are a trend which have been popularized multiple times. There is a common misconception that drinking only fruit juice is as good for you as eating whole fruits. Drinking fruit and vegetable juice can provide some health benefits in moderation. However, a recent Harvard study shows that juicing may cause more harm than good. Consuming whole fruits does bestow a number of health benefits and can actually reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. In comparison, drinking juice alone does not provide the same benefits and can actually increase risk for type 2 diabetes.

Much of this has to with nutrient loss in the juicing process. When fruits and vegetables are juiced down, the final product contains concentrated amounts of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. However, important nutritious components – such as fiber and antioxidants – are left behind. This is problematic because it omits some of the key elements which make fruits and veggies so healthy. In addition to this, juice is very concentrated, and so there are relatively higher levels of sugar when drinking juice than when eating whole fruits. It is important to take everything in moderation, and to not jump on trends before understanding the issue.

 

 

 

https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/pa34n7/juice-diets-are-bullshit

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23990623

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/21/health/juicing-fruit-vegetables-food-drayer/index.html

 

 

 

Early Dietary Interventions May Reduce Allergy Development

With increasing rates of allergies in kids, it’s not surprising that parents are looking for more information on how to reduce their child’s risk. The determinants of a child’s potential allergic development are still unclear. However, a youth’s surrounding environment, pharmaceutical intake and lifestyle are suspected to play major roles in this narrative. Specifically, food allergies are on the rise, and affect 5.6 million children in the United States alone. Many of these allergies are to common foods – like dairy, fish, and peanuts – and can be life threatening.

Early diet is suspected to play a role in allergy development, and new parents are desperate to know how introducing foods at specific times may or may not prevent food allergies. This dynamic can be difficult to navigate, but fortunately there is an abundance of research and literature on this topic. Just recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a report which can serve as a guide for nutritional interventions in the context of allergy prevention. The report shows that there is no evidence to support that waiting to introduce allergenic foods beyond 4-6 months might prevent allergy development. Rather, on the contrary, an earlier introduction of such food to high-risk children (with a family history of allergies) may in fact be protective to allergy development. Overall, the study promotes that habitual eating habits and diversity in food choice are the best way to promote an infant’s healthy diet and reduce risk of allergies.

 

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/prevalence-of-allergies-and-asthma

 

https://www.foodallergy.org/life-with-food-allergies/food-allergy-101/facts-and-statistics

 

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/03/15/peds.2019-0281

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/18/health/food-introduction-allergies-report/index.html

 

 

 

 

What’s Actually Bad For Our Skin?

In today’s age, it’s hard to keep up with what things are good for our skin, bad for our skin, or don’t affect it at all. Skin care is tied into beauty, and thus many people are often searching for a “secret trick” or “hack”. Due to this, many different products and techniques have been recommended. Many of these approaches have are rumored to provide drastic improvements in one’s skin clarity, texture, and overall health. Alongside these claims, we see many people generating fear around certain exposures, and it’s important to examine what can actually harm our skin.

There are many negative things in our lives that can have unexpected side effects. Stress, for one, can play a large role in the health of one’s skin. Experiencing excessive stress can prompt new outbreaks or aggravate pre-existing conditions, like psoriasis, eczema and hives. As many already know, smoking is a habit with many negative health outcomes. However, few often attribute smoking to skincare, and are unaware of the damage it can cause. Nicotine reduces blood flow to one’s skin, and thus smoker’s often have skin which is more wrinkled, thin and less likely to heal if injured.

Alongside these negative factors, there are those which are a bit more complicated. UV rays – coming from sunshine – are a mixed bag. A little sunlight is good for you, it prompts one’s skin to make Vitamin D, which is essential to many bodily processes. However, without proper protection , sunlight can be extremely damaging to skin. Excess exposure to UV rays can cause mutations in your DNA, which can later lead to cancer. Because of this, it’s important to wear protective sunscreen, clothing, and protective gear when exposing oneself to strong sunlight for long hours.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/27/health/skin-myths-truths-partner/index.html

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/the-effects-of-stress-on-your-skin

https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/bad-skin-habits#1

https://www.cancer.net/blog/2015-07/10-tips-protecting-your-skin-sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debate Over Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is one of the newest and most powerful medical advancements of our time. With this privilege, comes promising opportunities to predict, diagnose, treat and even cure certain diseases. One of the most common applications of this testing is in breast cancer patients. Understanding a patient’s genetic lineage can tell doctors a lot about the cancer they are treating.

Some sources  insist that all breast cancer patients should be genetically tested – although there is still quite a bit of debate over this stance. Although there are a lot of perks to genetic testing, some believe it’s an elaborate standard to adhere by, and don’t believe that all providers can or will offer this option.

These conflicting messages are confusing, and creates dynamics which are difficult for patients to navigate. Despite some disagreement, a number of well-respected scientists and clinicians insist that these tests can save cancer patients’ lives.  Dr. Mary-Claire King is a renowned geneticist who discovered the BRCA gene mutation in 1990 and its links to breast cancer. She is one of the many scientists who has come out to speak about the importance of genetic testing in cancer patients. She advocates for the utility of these tests, and insists they are necessary to help prevent and reduce risk of cancer threats.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/health/genetic-test-guidelines-breast-cancer-bn/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/health/brca-genetic-testing-recommendation-study/index.html

https://www.gs.washington.edu/faculty/king.htm