We get it: The holidays are all about taking a break from the real world, indulging, and relaxing. But while you were hibernating at home chowing down on leftover Christmas cookies and champagne, there have been some seriously awesome announcements on the interwebs. Here are eight amazing stories from other news outlets, and five of our own, to catch you up after a week or two away.
You can overdose on Brussels sprouts!
Roasted Brussels sprouts are a staple among the Greatist team. But if you like chowing down on these green gems as much as we do, take note: Research suggests they can be pretty dangerous for people taking blood thinners. The sprouts are packed with vitamin K, which can promote blood clotting — but that’s only dangerous for people with heart problems or on blood-thinning medication. Rest assured, if your heart is healthy, then there’s no harm in going back for a second serving.
The number of apps for health and fitness is growing fast.
About 19 percent of smart phone users have at least one health-related app on their phone, reports the Charlotte Observer. This is cool news, since science is finally starting to uncover how certain apps are actually making people healthier.
7-Eleven has introduced healthier options.
The home of the Big Gulp is hopping on the healthy-food bandwagon. Instead of neon-colored Slurpees, self-serve nachos, and cigarettes, select locations of the nationwide convenience store are making room for yogurt, fresh fruits and veggies, and portion-controlled meals. What’s awesome about this shift is 7-11 is looking at what customers want, which is healthier options.
Being neurotic may have a few health benefits.
A team of researchers has discovered that neurotic people (who also are typically highly organized and plan ahead) have lower levels of a specific biomarker for inflammation and chronic disease. They call it “healthy neuroticism,” but there are still many gaps to be filled before neuroticism is deemed to have tangible physical benefits. Until then, work on keeping those stress levels under control.
Eating more fruit and veggies can make you more happy.
A new paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research analyzing three British studies concluded that eating five to seven servings of fruit and veggies could lead to increased happiness and improved overall well-being. Scientists aren’t sure if gnawing on some greens actually boosts mood or if happier people just tend to eat healthier, but with all the health benefits associated with eating fruits and veggies, it doesn’t hurt to see for yourself.
Stress is just as bad as smoking.
It’s not news anymore: Cigarettes come with some serious health risks. But a new report covering a handful of studies found that another vice common among millions — stress — can also have negative affects on our health. Being stressed may raise your risk of a heart attack by 27 percent, according to Salon. Researchers explain that stressing out can increase blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), which could up the risk for a heart attack. Scientists equate high stress levels to smoking five cigarettes, so quit the Camels and try to manage stress for the healthiest and happiest heart.
Late-night eating interferes with your internal “food clock” on a molecular level.
That midnight snack isn’t so innocent after all. Our bodies develop their own hunger cycles after we unconsciously “set” them with our regular eating habits. Researchers at UCLA examined what happens when you mess with the established feeding times of two types of mice: those with a gene believed to regulate internal “food clocks,” and those lacking the gene. They began to give the mice snacks in the middle of their sleep cycles and recorded the results. The study found that those mice with the gene began to wake up in the middle of the night on their own and indicate hunger. Now, mice are clearly different from humans, but researchers believe the results can help us better understand human eating cues and patterns, too.
Considering pain good makes it easier to tolerate.
A recent study found that participants engaging in a painful exercise felt less pain when they were told the exercise would be beneficial, reports Runners World. The reason? Their bodies released more natural pain-killing substances. Another study using two groups of participants (one told that a painful activity was not good for them, another told it would cause beneficial changes to their muscles) found that those told the painful action would be beneficial could tolerate it for significantly longer than those told it would harm them.
Science says it’s really hard to break an addiction to high-fat foods.
Forget drugs and alcohol — certain foods may be addictive, too. A new study found when mice were taken off a six-week diet rich in saturated fats, they experienced anxiety, cravings, and withdrawal. Again, humansaren’t the same as mice, but the study supports other research that continually eating unhealthy foods can train our bodies to reach for more of the bad stuff.
Smoking can make hangovers worse.
Those of you who need another reason to put down the pack of cigarettes, listen up. A new study shows that smoking while drinking can make hangovers even worse. The study couldn’t conclude why, but previous research has linked nicotine receptors to receptors for alcohol and junk food, too, suggesting that those addicted to nicotine may also tend to overindulge in those libations.
There’s no such thing as IQ.
According to new research, the concept of an intelligence quotient (IQ) isn’t completely sound. Researchers suggest intelligence can be broken down into three types of cognitive abilities: short-term memory, reasoning skills, and verbal aptitude. Results from 100,000 volunteers who took an online IQ test (measuring memory, reasoning, concentration, and planning abilities) and 16 of those participants who also had their brains scanned with fMRI machines indicate there is no one number that can predict performance on all categories.
College women binge drink more than men.
Frat boys, step off the throne — it turns out that college women might actually take the cake when it comes to over-drinking and unhealthy lifestyles (probably not something to brag about). Recent research on Spanish undergraduates found that, while men drink more often, women are more likely to binge drink.
We launched HealthYear!
Whether it’s losing a little weight, losing the sugar craving, getting better sleep, or running a 5K, most people make at least one resolution to start the new year off on the right (and healthy) foot. But people often drop the ball after the literal ball is dropped — failing to keep their resolutions. To help make those resolutions stick, insert HealthYear: A tool to make sure those goals for 2013 become a reality. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to eat better, sleep more, stress less, booze less, run a 5K, or get stronger, HealthYear is the best way to share your goals and keep yourself on track.
Anything else in health and fitness news recently you want to share with us?Add it in the comments below!