About Blogger Eric

I am a guy that reads stories and does my best to make sense out of them, write a blog post on the subject, and push the publish button.

Nighttime Noise Could Possibly Raise Blood Pressure Risk

We’ve long known that some people are light sleepers while others snooze right through extremely loud noises. Though fairly small, a new study shed some interesting light on how sleeping in noisy areas may affect your body. According to this study, your sleeping body registers the effects of noise by temporarily raising your blood pressure. The study monitored a group of volunteers who lived near four busy European airports hosting plenty of inbound and outbound flights every night. Each participant was fitted with a blood pressure monitoring device, which was programmed to gather blood pressure info at 15-minute intervals. To complete their preparations, researchers outfitted each volunteer’s bedroom with a sound recorder and a decibel meter. This allowed the researchers to record all background noise entering the room, along with time and volume indicators.

Astonishingly, researchers found that noise events correlated precisely with spikes in subjects’ blood pressure. These findings covered all types of noise events, from airport noise to traffic sounds or snoring. As one might reasonably expect, researchers noted that louder sound events corresponded with more pronounced spikes in blood pressure. Though most people intuitively realize that it is better to sleep without interruption, it is more surprising to learn that noises can affect your body even as you remain fully unconscious. For people who suffer from abnormally high blood pressure and heart disease at the same time, this topic is naturally of great interest.

Nevertheless, it is too early to draw too many conclusions from this study. Although this study is a step forward, researchers still don’t completely understand the relationship between noise and hypertension. Co-authored by Dr. Jarup of Imperial College London, this recent study only featured 140 study subjects. It may take a much larger study to produce definitive answers regarding this important topic. It is interesting to contrast this study with an earlier sleep study from the same organization. The earlier study monitored a much larger group, which numbered in the thousands. In the previous study, researchers found that regular exposure to night-time highway noise increased hypertension risk for men. However, this effect did not extend to women. Mysterious results like these demonstrate that we have a lot to learn about the human body.

Fortunately, high-quality foam earplugs help a lot when it comes to reducing night noise. To achieve quieter sleep without cutting yourself off from the world, consider wearing one earplug when you retire. This will significantly reduce your noise exposure without leaving you totally unresponsive to stimuli. Remember that there is more than one way to put in an earplug. You’ll want to use a method that ensures a tight seal in your ear cavity. If your foam earplugs fall out of your ear routinely while you sleep, there’s a good chance you’re not putting them in properly.

Why Social Interaction is Critical for Both Physical and Mental Health

A new meta-study of social isolation has come out. It looks at data from 148 different studies with over 300,000 participants. The conclusion is that social isolation can seriously impact your ability to survive. In fact, social isolation can be compared to smoking 15 cigarettes a day for how seriously it seems to negatively impact your health and morbidity.

While this is not really a simple nor straightforward matter, there are studies that indicate isolation is stressful and takes a psychological toll on people. Many people need sounding boards to work out their problems. This is not just an emotional issue, it is a practical one. Humans working together are more able to solve difficult problems.

When you have a health crisis or a personal problem, a strong social group can help make sure you get the care you need. People with cancer who have a strong social network do better. There are many people to make sure small tasks get done, that the person gets driven by someone else to their appointments and that there is someone to talk with to distract them from their misery.

As people get older and their memory and physical abilities begin to fail them, friends and family often play a crucial role in making sure their lives continue to work. In fact, some people die not long after being removed from their social network.

Of course, these are observational studies. So, for example, although depression and social isolation are strongly correlated, it is a chicken and egg problem in that we don’t know which comes first. Does depression cause social isolation? Or does social isolation cause depression?

In some cases, regardless of which actually came first, this can become a downward spiral. Isolation can go hand in hand with deteriorating physical and mental health such that you don’t know how to reach out in order to stop it. It can seem like no one would like you anyway, or like it just takes too much energy to try to do anything. This can create a positive feedback loop where isolation and poor mental and emotional health just breeds more of the same until you can seem to find no way out.

Additionally, it is also well known that bad social connections can be bad for your well being. Consider the fact that when someone is murdered, police look first to their closest connections for possible suspects. Also, consider the standard advice to people with substance abuse problems that they should “change your people, your places and your things.” So, if you wish to live a long and healthy life, choose your friends wisely and try to make whatever social connections you have as positive as possible.

Creating a healthy social network is not a simple matter, and the reasons why one may be lacking a vibrant social network can be complex. But the evidence is clear that social isolation itself strongly correlates to poorer physical and mental health, as well as shorter lifespans.

What in Your Home Is the Biggest Pollutant

Sick building syndrome is not just something you see in commercial or industrial buildings. Residential buildings can have worse indoor air quality than you see outdoors, even in city environments infamous for their poor outdoor air quality.

Small children, homemakers and elderly or housebound individuals typically spend a great deal more time literally at home than most people do. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution.

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer as to what you can assume to be the single biggest pollutant in your home. This will vary from household to household and depend on a variety of factors. You will need to make an effort to determine which household pollutant is the single biggest one in your house. But you can look to the following categories for likely suspects.

New Carpeting
New carpeting can emit a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This is often called off gassing. The exact chemicals involved will depend upon the material in question. How bad it is will depend in part on how much new carpet has been installed.

Broken compact fluorescent bulbs
These bulbs contain mercury, a known neurotoxin. It is classified as a hazardous material and should be handled accordingly. Do not try to vacuum it up. If it gets into carpeting, you can expect to need to throw it out. It probably cannot be ever fully removed.

New plastic products
The softer the plastic, the more likely it is to off gas. This gets worse if they get warm for some reason, as can happen when you run certain electronics with a plastic casing.

Household cleaners and chemicals
Glues, adhesives, paint, paint stripper, pesticides and cleaning products can all introduce problematic fumes into the air. All should properly stored and properly used with good ventilation, among other things.

Furniture
Mattresses, upholstered furniture and many pressed wood items can all be sources of air pollutants. New furniture can give off formaldehyde. Old furniture may be a source of mold, dust, mites and other problems.

Cooking and heating
Fireplaces and wood burning stoves tend to be harder on air quality than some other heat sources, but most means to cook or heat have some fallout in terms of air quality. Passive solar design might be the only means to keep the place warm without somehow harming local air quality.

Although there are many known culprits that can harm indoor air quality, there is no universal answer to this issue. An audit of your home is the best way to determine what is the biggest source of indoor air pollution in your own house.

Cauliflower Pizza and How It Will Take Over Your Life

If you are allergic to gluten, then you have stopped eating delicious pizza to avoid consuming the wheat-based crust. However, chefs have created a pizza recipe that has a cauliflower crust that does not contain gluten. This means that when you can’t consume pizza that contains wheat or gluten, you can bake your own cauliflower crust pizza at home.

Avoid Allergic Reactions From Wheat or Gluten

Tasty cauliflower crust pizza will change your life because it will not cause the same health problems as traditional pizza. The symptoms of having an allergic response to gluten or wheat include:

• Nausea
• Bloating
• Skin rashes
• Weight loss
• Fatigue
• Headaches

The signs of being sensitive to wheat or gluten can vary between each person, but by eliminating these substances, you will begin to feel better within a few weeks.

Cauliflower Contains Numerous Nutrients

Living without consuming wheat or gluten isn’t easy because many of your favorite recipes have these substances as an ingredient. Fortunately, chefs have created alternative recipes so that you can continue to enjoy your favorite foods. You can use cauliflower to make a homemade pizza crust that has a fantastic flavor along with a variety of nutrients that include:

• Vitamin C
• Manganese
• Zinc
• Iron
• Protein
• Calcium

Several food manufacturers have created cauliflower flour that you can buy at a supermarket to make your own pizza crust that doesn’t contain wheat or gluten. However, you can also use raw cauliflower as a crust for your homemade pizza.

How to Make Your Own Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Wash, trim and dry fresh cauliflower before breaking it apart into florets. Place these raw florets in a food processor before grinding the vegetable until it is extremely fine. Pour the cauliflower flour into a mixing bowl before adding two whipped eggs, grated mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, salt and oregano. Stir these ingredients to create a dough ball before spreading it onto an oiled baking sheet. Bake the dough in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove the baked dough from the oven to add your pizza toppings such as tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese or sliced mushrooms before baking it again at the same temperature for 15 minutes.

Do Painkillers have a Link to Increased Risk of Heart Attack

A new study conducted by a group of European researchers and published in the British Medical Journal shows that people who actively take NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to treat pain are at a higher risk for heart attacks than those who do not use these types of drugs for pain relief.

The study looked at over 450,000 people from three different countries that suffered a heart attack. The people ranged in age, health condition, ethnic and economic backgrounds, and were from both sexes. What they discovered is that over 15 percent of these people recently begun taking NSAID prior to their heart attack.

The highest risk group was those that began the drug regiment a month prior to their heart attack and were using prescription strength pain killers. Those in the lowest group were taking over-the-counter (OTC)strength medications and took them infrequently. Those who took the medications most often, even OTC strength had higher risks of suffering a heart attack.

What Does This Mean?

At this point in time, researchers are not sure what their findings mean. They have discovered a connection between these pain medications and heart attack risk, now they have to learn why. Additional studies have begun to discover if this risk has anything to do with other health conditions, the reasons for taking the pain medications, or if something in these medicines themselves are what is causing the increased risk.

Anyone who is currently taking these medications regularly are encouraged to speak with their doctor about any risks that may be associated with their use.

If you are taking pain medications that are considered a NSAID, you are encouraged to take special care to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Make sure that you are eating right and that you get enough exercise each day to keep your heart strong. If possible, reduce use of these medications if your doctor approves and your condition allows.

NSAID drugs include: Voltaren, Rofecoxib, Celebrex, Ibuprofen, and Naproxin. These medications are available in prescription strength alone or mixed with other medications. Some of these medications are available over-the-counter in weaker strengths. Check all medications that you take to see if they contain these medications and then speak with your doctor.

3 Ways to Spice Up Your Walking Workout

Walking is one of the best basic exercises. It can be done almost anywhere and, although you do need a decent pair of shoes, it doesn’t really require any equipment beyond that. But maybe you are getting a bit bored with it. Here are some ways to spice it up.

Get a Walking Buddy.
Especially if you are having trouble finding time to socialize, you can kill two birds with one stone by getting a buddy to join you for your workout. Walking and talking go together nicely. People are typically very comfortable having conversations side by side like this.

It can not only make your walks less boring, it can deepen existing friendships or be the start of new ones. Or get your spouse or S.O. to join you. You may surprised to find it reviving your relationship as well, and without the hassle and expense of seeing a couples counselor.

Explore Your Local Area.
Modern life can be surprisingly confining. Many of us work long hours and also have long commutes. The result is that we sit in our car, sit at our desk, then sit in our car. Then we drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Get a map of your city or neighborhood to carry with you, or just spend some time online looking at the satellite view on Google Maps. You can use a watch or pedometer to tell you that you have hit the halfway mark and it is time to turn around and go home. This gives you substantial freedom to walk new places and learn new things about the place you live.

Have A Destination.
If going for our regular walk for exercise fails to excite you, then start walking as a means to get to different places you want to go. Find a movie theater or other destination that you think you would enjoy and only go when you can walk there. You can also try out new restaurants as your reward, as long as you don’t go overboard on the calories. Enjoy your treat at the end, then turn around and walk home for some additional exercise.

Walking is great exercise with long term potential. If it is starting to bore you, you can spice it up by getting a buddy, going exploring or picking new destinations.

3 Safe Exercises for People With Bad Backs

When you have a bad back due to a chronic health condition or a previous injury, you must choose a form of exercise that doesn’t cause any additional pain. It is important to continue exercising despite having a back problem to avoid gaining weight, but you must avoid developing a new injury that can lead to needing bed rest. To prevent any additional back problems, make sure to discuss your exercise routine with a physician first.

Exercise 1: Swimming In a Heated Swimming Pool

Swimming is one of the best types of exercise for anyone with a previous back injury because the water creates buoyancy to support your body. Experts recommend swimming in warm water to prevent any muscle cramps while protecting the cartilage in your joints. Make sure to find an indoor swimming pool that has heated water so that you can swim comfortably. In addition, you can swim in an outdoor swimming pool when the weather is warm. Avoid swimming in an overcrowded swimming pool where someone will jump into the water above you or bump into you while you are swimming. You may want to participate in classes to learn new swimming strokes or to enjoy water aerobics.

Exercise 2: Gentle Yoga Postures and Movements

Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for you when you have a back problem, but it is important to use certain types of movements and poses. You cannot perform strenuous yoga postures such as handstands, but there are easy positions that are safe for you to do on a daily basis. Before beginning a yoga routine, make sure to have a soft mat or pile of rugs to recline on. You can recline on your back while bending your knees slowly toward your chest to release the tension in your spinal area during a knee twist, or you can kneel on the floor with the palms of your hands on the mat to curl your back into a cat pose. If you have never performed yoga before, then look for a local gym that offers beginner classes.

Exercise 3: Walking Inside or Outside

Walking is a fantastic exercise for any age group, and it is free. You can walk inside a larger building such as a shopping mall when the weather is inclement, but walking outside is also important so that you are exposed to sunlight. Make sure to wear comfortable and supportive shoes that will grip a walking surface to prevent any foot injuries along with protecting your back. When you are on a longer walk, have bottles of water available to prevent dehydration. If you are walking outside, use a protective sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from dangerous ultraviolet light. For additional enjoyment while walking, you can bring along a dog or join a walking group.