A hundred years ago, it must have been easier to focus. Today is a different story- just walk down a city street and your attention can be pulled in 500 directions. Bright LCD billboards, advertisements in every store window, brand names and symbols on every car, t-shirt and pair of shoes all vie for your attention. Not to mention the smartphones that keep silence out of our lives with texts, phone calls, and emails following us literally everywhere we go. We can hardly have a complete conversation with someone face to face without a cell phone interrupting. Want a list of more common distractions? Recently, something in an article about meditation jumped out at me. It said that regular meditation, even for just 2 months, already helps the brain out. It actually makes the memory center of the brain - called the hippocampus - bigger! Chronic stress, on the other hand, actually makes the hippocampus smaller. Tips to help you focus: Get enough sleep Exercise regularly Take breaks regularly Try meditating Try using airplane mode on your phone for a set amount of time Choose a place where you will not be interrupted Set priorities (what is really the most important?) and manage your time so that you can be 100% present in what you are doing. The most important things will plague your mind all day, so take care of those first. Communicate to your friends and loved ones when you will be able to respond to their call or texts; you don't have to do it right away (unless it is a work phone and part of your job). Jot down nagging thoughts that won't leave your mind alone & deal with them later. Have more ideas on how to focus? Please comment below! :)
Recently, I heard about someone with breast cancer who starved their body to avoid chemotherapy. Ever since, the guts and I have been wondering: Can you starve cancer by following a certain diet? Or is it only a preventative measure? Because not eating seems.. hard. So we starting researching and came across this July 2013 Ted Talk by William Li about diet and cancer prevention. That's 200% awesome if you don't have cancer. But what if you already have it? Researchers already knew, in 1923, that cancer cells use a ton of glucose (the nutrient we get from digesting carbohydrates) - more than regular cells. This is because they grow much faster than normal cells, so they need the extra energy. If you starve your body, even for a few hours, your cells can switch to using fat or protein. But do cancer cells do the same thing? Research from MIT says yes. Lucky for us, then, in July 2013 some great people at the University of Southampton have found something that cancer cells need for survival that normal cells don't need. More research from July 2013, thanks to the Thomas Jefferson University, resulted in this study about starving cancer cells through manipulating diet. Have you tried a diet approach to overcoming cancer, or know someone who has? Or do you think it's all a bunch of bunk?
This month is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Chances are, if you don't have the disease, you don't know much about it (unless you work in the health field). So to understand Celiac disease, we first have to know what a little thing called gluten is. Gluten is a protein in grains like wheat, oats, barley, and rye. It means "glue" in Latin, because it holds bread together and gives dough its stickiness. Different grains have different amounts of gluten; the more gluten, the chewier it makes your baked goods. For example, the flour used for bagels and pizza has more gluten than the flours used in light, crumbly pastries. So what does gluten have to do with Celiac disease? If gluten goes into the small intestine of someone with the disease, it causes an immune system reaction. This means gas, bloating, etc. "True celiacs" will have these reactions even if they eat a small amount of gluten. Other people may just be sensitive to gluten and need to eat less of it. More about Celiac disease here.
Bones do a lot for us. Without them, we would probably look like blobs and have to roll around to get places. Our muscles wouldn't be very effective, either. Besides structure, the bones do even more. Along with our teeth, bones hold 99% of the calcium in our bodies! Calcium is pretty important because the body uses it to keep our blood from getting too acidic. Here's how: when there's too much acid floating around in your blood, calcium gets pulled out of your bones to neutralize the acid. That calcium then ends up in the urine and is flushed out of the body. For more reading about calcium, diet, and bone health, here are a couple links: See what Harvard has to say about dairy. Great article on acidity, calcium resorption, & diet. A nerdy, scientific article from the American Society for Nutrition. All about Calcium, Dairy & Osteoporosis from the American College of Nutrition.