pointspace’s June roundup | How important is sleep?

Image: Jenny Pansing/jjjj56cp via Flickr

June has been quite an exciting month on the weather front. Londoners have experienced rain, sunshine, wind, rain, stronger wind, two hot days and then more rain. It is all very confused.

1.  The wind though has been spectacular. I haven’t actually seen a small child being blown away but I’m sure there were near-misses. Besides playing havoc with perfectly coiffed hair and Marilyn Monroe-esque skirt moments, the windy conditions we’ve been experiencing can have a larger impact on our wellness than you think. Fellow acupuncturist, The Acupunc, takes a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) look at the invasion of wind and offers a soothing tea recipe.

2. The furore of New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban gigantic buckets of fizzy drink continues with cries of nanny-state and loss of liberty. In case you missed it, here’s my blog post about the soda ban.

3.  Do you drink tea? You should, it’s a good way to keep hydrated if water is a bit too plain for you. Everyone touts the benefits of green tea, but I would also recommend seeking out pu-erh tea. The flavour is much stronger but still clean and refreshing. Read more to see why tea is good for you.

4.  Lack of sleep can leave you tired and cranky which doesn’t do well for concentration but new research shows that lack of sleep can also lead to unhealthy food choices.

5.  And now for the catch-22: more studies show that obesity and depression are the root causes of daytime sleepiness. The common denominator seems to be that weight is definitely a factor with sleep issues, but is being overweight causing sleep disorders or does sleepiness and fatigue result in weight gain?

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pointspace’s May Round-up | How a little exercise brings big benefits and does a lack of vitamin D affect our health?

Image: AJ Batac via Flickr

What weather we’ve had this month! The wettest drought since records began all the way to the glorious week of summer. The important question, of course, is will it be a washout during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee bank holiday next week?

1.  It’s typical that the weather is a bit rubbish around bank holidays, but a lack of vitamin D means much more than rickets. A Danish study adds to a growing body of evidence that the paucity of sunlight in the UK for most of the year not only makes us miserable, but could actually be doing us harm.

2.  Another preliminary study from Denmark showed that joggers live longer, with an average of 6 more years of life. The interesting thing about this research is that it appears, the “optimum benefit was realized for those who jogged at a slow-to-average pace between an hour and two and half hours done in two to three sessions over the course of a week.”

3.  And now from jogging to just plain moving. Last week I blogged about research showing that sitting is really bad for you. So in the scheme of things: sitting is really bad, standing is good and moving is even better. You would think then that running marathons is much better than sprinting – after all you’re putting in so much more effort for a much longer period of time. As it turns out, that’s another myth, so hurray for us time-strapped people. Time Healthland had an interesting interview this month with New York Times columnist and author Gretchen Reynolds about her new book on how a little exercise brings big benefits.

4.  What do you think is the cause of the obesity epidemic: our more sedentary lifestyles, the lack of exercise, genetics, poor diets or overeating? Carson C. Chow is an investigator at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases trying to figure out why 1 in 3 Americans are obese. The surprising thing about Dr Chow is that he’s an M.I.T.-trained mathematician and physicist using mathematics to solve the problem. His work has brought up some interesting information such as “the fatter you get, the easier it is to gain weight. An extra 10 calories a day puts more weight onto an obese person than on a thinner one”. Read the complete interview here.

5.  As news of a “fat tax” on unhealthy food was being discussed, UK sales of processed breakfast cereals are dwindling with more and more people favouring healthier, more natural alternatives to the sugary brands. Nick Barnard of natural foods company Rude Health says, “I do think, in 20 years’ time, we might look back at the past 100-odd years and say: ‘We took good, natural, healthy, original grains, and turned them into sweet, scientific, industrial concoctions. Why?'” Put that way, it does seem all a bit silly, doesn’t it?

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