Category: Lifestyle

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.,_Air.4.aspx





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.



5 Ways to Be an Advocate for Lesbians and other WSW in South Africa

In South Africa we are free. But in the communities that we are living in, we are not free”, Valisa Jara claims, referring to the targeted violence against lesbians, bisexual and women who have sex with women (WSW) in South Africa. Since 1998, at least thirty-one lesbians have been killed in attacks, many of which began with “corrective rape”- an assault in which a man rapes a lesbian, bisexual or WSW in an attempt to “cure” her sexual orientation.

According to research done by the Johannesburg based Forum for the Empowerment of Women, black lesbians who live in isolated townships, are particularly vulnerable. In addition, alarming rates of rape and sexual violence have resulted in high rates of HIV among lesbians and bisexual women in South Africa.

Despite the stigma and discrimination lesbian and other WSW experience in South Africa, they are still fighting for their human rights to be acknowledged and protected. So, with these challenges on the ground, what can we do to combat this violence and advocate for Lesbian and other WSW in South Africa?

1. Recognize South Africa’s homophobia is a colonial export. Same- sex relationships were historically prohibited in South Africa because of the sodomy laws inherited from the Dutch colonists. These laws impacted same-sex relations among various South African groups. We need to recognize the colonial underpinnings of homophobia and have honest discussions on human sexuality in the African context before, during and after the colonial period.

2. Be an Advocate and Act. President Cyril Ramaphosa recently said, “The LGBTI community in South Africa, as much we all have rights, is a community that still needs to be properly supported, properly positioned”. We can be engaged and empowered in the fight against WSW /lesbian stigma by joining advocacy and victim empowerment organizations like OUT, Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL), and others.

3. Educate children on sexual diversity through online platforms. According to a report by The Other Foundation, there is modest support for more education about the human rights and social inclusion of lesbian people in South Africa, both for learners in school as well as community based education. Mila, a website and app, which hosts a large series of videos that feature South Africans, tackling South African-centric issues, can be used to teach children about sexual diversity.

4. Support Reform Initiatives. In recent years, gruesome stories of murder and rape have grabbed South African headlines, but little has been done to improve the mechanisms to monitor hate crimes incidents. We can support multi-sectoral coalitions like the Hate Crimes Working Group which can act to prevent and to combat hate crimes by improving the policing of, and judicial responses to hate crimes; and assist in the development of effective mechanisms to monitor hate crimes incidents.

5. Be an Ally. Many Lesbian and other WSW feel confined by the complexity of intersecting injustices: lack of education, joblessness, powerlessness in family or community, and poverty. Donating to non-profit organization like Micro Rainbow International can help Lesbians and other WSW boost their income and economic opportunities through crowd-sourcing platforms.


Marie Guiraud


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New Technology: Consenting Condoms

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 30% of women will experience physical or sexual violence by either a partner or stranger. Organizations like the WHO, the United Nations, and Equality Now have all declared sexual violence as a global epidemic that needs to be addressed.

An Argentinian company, Tulipan, has attempted to answer this call. Tulipan developed a new condom to emphasize the importance of consent.  The innovative condom requires four hands to open; ideally this translates to two people working together to open the condom. Tulipan promoted their new product on social media with ads what quickly went viral.

While some are praising the company for considering consent when developing condoms, others are critiquing the product. One of the issues people have identified is the four handed approach itself, noting that not everyone has two hands or have the mobility to move their hands in the motions required by the packaging. Another common criticism is the idea of one-time consent versus ongoing consent. The act of consenting and opening the condom together could give the illusion that consent cannot be withdrawn, which is not only false, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what consent means.

Beyond consent, making condoms more difficult to use could result in decreased usage. If this were to happen, then rates of sexually transmitted diseases could increase. Regardless, Tulipan is helping start the conversation about consent and ending sexual violence. We are excited to see more from this company in the future!

By: Abbey Schneider

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Sweet Savings: The Impact of Added Sugar Labels

In 2016, The FDA announced that manufacturers were going to be required to share the amount of added sugar on nutrition labels. A new report from Tufts University indicates that the health related savings of this new regulation will be significant. Researchers used mathematical modeling to predict how much the labels would reduce sugar intake—and consequently, how much of a decrease in diabetes and heart disease the U.S would see.

Over the next 20 years, they predict that it will prevent more than 350,000 cases of heart disease and more than 600,000 cases of type-2 diabetes. The health impact is significant, but the economic impact is staggering. Following the implementation of these new nutrition labels, we can expect to see more than THIRTY ONE BILLION dollars in healthcare savings.

Further, this estimate is conservative. If, like when the FDA ruled that trans fats had to be better labeled, companies respond to the rule by reducing the added sugar content of their products, the impact will be even greater.

Sometimes, small changes can make a big impact. Health communication for the win!

What do you think about the change in nutrition labels? Should the government be doing more to limit the sugar intake of Americans? Leave us a comment!

The toll of college athletics

With the recent NCAA basketball tournament and Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio breaking both legs during competition, college sports are trending on the internet right now.  As we watch video of amazing basketball plays and a twenty-two year old’s career ending injury, it makes us wonder, “Just how much do college athletes put their bodies through for their sports?”


According to the CDC, among twenty-five college sports, there are an average of 1,053,370 injuries each year, and roughly 21% require recovery lasting longer than 1 week.  Typically, injuries incurred during competition are worse than those acquired during practice. Athletes put their bodies through this potential lifelong harm, and they are not allowed compensation above tuition, room and board, and cost of living stipends.


When looking at the lifelong costs of participating in college athletics, those who faced injury often face limited physical activity later in life.  Additionally, former athletes often report worse quality of life as they age when compared to the general public, and in some ways retirement from the sport has been compared with experiencing a death.  As athletes face retirement from the sport, they often feel unprepared to make the transition and struggle with maintaining a self-identity after sports.


Currently college sports is a multi-billion dollar per year industry, and we fans are a big part of this.  Sports help us unite friends, families, and communities as we root for our favorite teams.  Watching these athletes brings us joy and occasional heartache.  Some of us think of them as an extension of our own families.  However, if we care ABOUT them this much, why aren’t we doing more to care FOR them- in the forms of compensation or at least helping them transition into the ranks of us normal people when the sport is over?

“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.




Science Expo: Saturday April 6 from 11:00 to 4:00

What are you doing this Saturday?

If you are still looking for something that will be:

Free ☑

Outdoors ☑

Educational ☑

Fun ☑

Then come join us at the UNC 2019 Science Expo!

The science expo is this Saturday, April 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Cameron Avenue.

There are over 100 hands on activities, including making your own ice cream, looking at insects under a microscope, a “cold water” challenge, and making your own neuron model.

And this year, for the first time ever, there’s an outdoor classroom to engage your whole family. Figure out the cause of a mystery illness, build catapults, take a potato to space, or create some slimy oobleck! It’s up to you – but make sure to register at:

This is your chance to get up close and personal with all the cutting edge science UNC has to offer. Speak with students, researchers, and professors about their research, grab some food from one of the food trucks on site, or just wander around.

We hope we’ll see you there!

Erectile Dysfunction Meds: Should You Order Them Online?

You may have seen advertisements online or on your favorite podcast recently for new online services that promise to provide easy access to medicines for erectile dysfunction (ED) without the “embarrassment” of going in-person to a doctor. The websites for these companies are highly stylized, with a seeming desire to appeal to young adults, particularly web-savvy millennials. But is getting these medications online a good idea?

Drugs for ED available through these sites include sildenafil (both generic and as branded Viagra) and tadalafil (generic of the brand Cialis). Citing statistics that between 25-40% of men under age 40 experience ED, these websites promise to help manage this condition by making sure men get the right treatment.

But what if the treatment you get online for ED is not addressing the true cause of the condition? While a recent scientific review did estimate the prevalence of ED in young men as high as 30%, the key causes  are both psychogenic (depression, anxiety, and partner-related issues) and organic (more likely to be physiologically linked). In addition, some physicians caution that ED in young men may actually indicate an underlying health concern which may remain untreated if people simply seek drugs online.

The American Urological Association’s clinical guidelines  for ED recommend a “thorough medical, sexual, and psychological history; a physical examination; and selective laboratory testing” for evaluation and diagnosis (before treatment). Online companies do not provide this. In response to criticism, these companies say they are reducing the stigma associated with talking about these issues, as well as encouraging the identification of possible health conditions through screening.

This conversation will surely continue, with telemedicine access to drugs expanding. In fact, investors are betting on the size of the market for these medications online, with the latest valuation of one of the companies estimated at $1 billion dollars. In the future, getting your medication online without a visit to the doctor may be commonplace. Currently, though, medical associations have not made formal statements on the safety and quality of these websites. It might be more convenient to order your ED medication from one of these websites, but it still makes sense to go and visit a provider in person if you suspect an underlying health condition is impacting your sex life.

By: Alice Cartwright

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.