a ucla student welfare commission publication
tired all the time? best ways to fight fatigue! foods for try for a mood boost!
be happy! simple steps to a happier you laughter: the best medicine
the science of happiness
which foods are better raw? find out! spring 11 | vol 11 | issue 4
editor’s note If there is one thing that underlies humanity,
I think we can agree that it is likely the pursuit of happiness. Humans have been struggling to understand happiness for as long as we have walked the earth. And a look around the world will show you that in all cultures in all parts of the world, people pursue that which makes them happy, whatever that may mean: family, friends, health, employment, sunshine, warm laundry, puppy love, or just plain old free time. Whatever the case, happiness is uniquely and undoubtedly personal, and no one can define it for you, or tell you exactly how to get there. Yet no matter how personal it is, the route to happiness is rarely a solo journey. I’m reminded of this every time I come home to an empty apartment: that often, despite how much gratification, and fulfillment I can get out of my personal work, the greatest comfort, and often the greatest joy, is being able to spend time with those around me. For me, that's one of the greatest and simplest ways to celebrate life – and to be, of course, happy.
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For the times spent alone, luckily, there are also ways to find happiness, sometimes in the most unexpected places. As the quarter goes on, and pieces of my life inevitably pile up into what is
known as clutter, it is another joy for me to fold and tuck away life’s extras and to enjoy the clarity that’s been burrowed underneath. This morning, prior to writing my editor’s letter, I revisited my to-do list, which almost always is an unsettling and overwhelming affair. But, this morning, I did something that I have vowed to do more often in similar scenarios: I dropped the list, put on running shoes, and bolted out the door for a jog. Then, I dined at a great Indian restaurant with a great friend, and came back and organized my place. Each of these brought me happiness in its own unique way. Together, they show that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for more happiness, even if it takes a little bit of de-cluttering. And that, ultimately, is what this issue is about. While we don’t think we can tell you what happiness is, we’ve uncovered some tips on how to fit more happiness into any schedule. As our cover story, “Happiness in Ten Easy Steps” on page 28 shows, more happiness can be as simple as volunteering your time, learning something new, performing a random act of kindness, or simply sitting in a quiet spot and enjoying your favorite read. We hope this issue reminds you of the many ways you can always get more happiness out of your everyday routine, and that happiness is often as easy as stopping to smell the roses. Cheers,
Elizabeth Wang Director & Editor-in-Chief
Total Wellness is a division of the Student Welfare Commission that is dedicated to spreading awareness of and sharing knowledge on issues of student health and health care. By providing an understanding of health and lifestyle issues, elucidating health concepts, providing recommendations for physical, mental, and social well-being, and making visible and accessible various health resources, programs, and events occurring at UCLA, Total Wellness seeks to empower students with up-todate and accurate knowledge on the appropriate management of their health.
total wellness Director & Editor-in-Chief Art Director Assistant Director Research Editor Finance Director Food & Nutrition Editor
Elizabeth Wang Karin Yuen Grace Lee Leigh Goodrich Stephan Chiu Anna Wong
Staff Writers Fritz Batiller, Yessenia Chaiu, Joy Cuerten, Jennifer Danesh, Sandeep Dhillon, Amarbir Gill, Jenny Hong, Julia Horie, Cindy La, Melody Lavian, Nicole Lew, Shamim Nafea, Trang TJ Nguyen, Jennifer Wilson, Shannon Wongvibulsin, Eric Yu, Danna Zhang, Lillian Zhang Design Chloe Booher, Amorette Jeng, Grace Lee, Jennifer Shieh (Intern), Elizabeth Wang, Karin Yuen Advisory & Review William Aronson, MD
Professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP, PhD
Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing
Katherine Grubiak, RD
UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center
Dena Herman, PhD, MPH, RD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Public Health
Eve Lahijani, MS, RD
Nutrition Health Educator, UCLA Bruin Resource Center
Melissa Magaro, PhD
Clinical Psychologist, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
William McCarthy, PhD
Adjunct Professor, UCLA School of Public Health
Rena Orenstein, MPH
Assistant Director, Student Health Education
Allan Pantuck, MD, MS, FACS
Associate Professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Elisa Terry, NSCA-CSCS
FITWELL Services Program Director, UCLA Recreation
Alona Zerlin, MS, RD
Research Dietitian, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
Total Wellness is a free, student-run, biquarterly publication published 7 times a year and is supported by advertisers, the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, the On Campus Housing Council (OCHC), the Student Welfare Commission (SWC), UCLA Recreation, and the Undergraduate Students Association (USAC). Contact 308 Westwood Blvd., Kerckhoff Hall 308 Los Angeles, CA 90024 Phone 310.825.7586, Fax 310.267.4732 firstname.lastname@example.org www.totalwellnessmagazine.org www.swc.ucla.edu Subscription, back issues, and advertising rates available on request Volume 11, Issue 4 © 2011 by Total Wellness Magazine. All rights reserved. Parts of this magazine may be reproduced only with written permission from the editor. Although every precaution has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the published material, Total Wellness cannot be held responsible for the opinions expressed or facts supplied by authors. We do not necessarily endorse products and services advertised. The information in Total Wellness is not intended as medical advice and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult a health care provider for clarification.
contents IN EVERY ISSUE Editor’s Note In the News Q&A Food Pick Credits
Get Active 6 Walk this Way 8 The Guide: Shopping for Athletic Shoes
Eat Right 9 Raw vs. Cooked: The Scoop on the Raw Food Debate
12 All about Apples 14 The Facts in a Nutshell 16 The Soy Controversy
Mind Matters 18 Why Do We Dream? 20 Mood-Lifters Body In Focus 22 Healthy Living through Probiotics Living 25 How to: Improve your Diet on the Cheap
FEATURES 28 32 36 38 40 44 46 48
Happiness in Ten Easy Steps The Science of Happiness Making Sense of Happiness Healthy Humor Fixing Fatigue Redefining Waste Meet the Chef Mastering the Power Nap
ON THE COVER 40 20 28 38 32 09
Best Ways to Fight Fatigue Food for a Mood Boost Simple Steps to a Happier You Laughter: The Best Medicine The Science of Happiness Raw Foods
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cover: elena elisseeva/istockphoto; dra_schwartz/istockphoto
2 4 5 50 51
in the news
what’s happening in
news - updates - discoveries
// by leigh goodrich | design by elizabeth wang RESEARCH & NEW FINDINGS
Liposuction not as effective as previously thought
Soil quality to blame for decreased nutrition in produce
A new study published in Obesity highlights a major issue with liposuction, the most common plastic surgery procedure in the country. Researchers found that when fat is removed from one area of the body (for example, the hips and thighs), it eventually resurfaces in another area, such as the upper body. In the experiment, researchers gave one group of nonobese women liposuction and had a control group that was told they could receive surgery after the study results were released. Within the next year, the women who had surgery regained the fat that was taken out, and yet were still pleased with the removal of the fat from one area of the body that made them self-conscious. Interestingly, the majority of the control group, after seeing these results, still opted to have the surgery.
While fruits and vegetables are undoubtedly packed with nutrients, a recent article in Scientific American highlights the nutritional decline that has steadily marked produce in the past decades. Highlighting studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and the British Food Journal, the article describes how declining soil quality and increased use of crop manipulation is to blame. Lower levels of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C and more have been attributed to agricultural practices that emphasize size, speed of growth, pest resistance, and climate adaptability over nutritional quality. While sticking to organic produce can dampen these effects, it’s important to note that vegetables are still nutritional superstars.
Social life shown to decrease dementia risk
Previous evidence has suggested that maintaining social relationships throughout life offers multiple heath benefits. A new study published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society shows that the most social older adults in the study had a 70% lower risk of cognitive decline than those who were least social. By following participants for over a decade who did not have dementia symptoms at the start, researchers were able to identify that the social isolation came before the dementia and not the other way around. Scientists hypothesize that the benefits of social activity include stress relief and help reduce dementia risk simply by the increase in neural activity.
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Researchers make progress towards curing diabetes
The latest issue of Sleep includes a study that followed sleep patterns of participants over five years and concluded that six to eight hours of sleep is optimal for cognitive function. Researchers collected data for over 5,000 people once from 1997 to 1999, and then followed up from 2003 to 2004. They noted the average number of hours of sleep per night, and analyzed the data of people who increased or decreased their sleep compared with those whose sleep patterns did not change. They found correlations between both increases and decreases in sleep with lower cognitive function, as measured by memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and verbal fluency. While it is easier to rationalize the results of decreased sleep, it is more difficult to understand why more sleep would be detrimental. Study authors hypothesize that perhaps increased sleep is an indication or side effect of other health problems. t w
Though a cure is still far away, scientists at the Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Center have made leaps and bounds in diabetes research. In a study published in an upcoming issue of Developmental Cell, the study authors showed that other cells can be converted into pancreatic beta cells, deficits in which cause malfunctions in diabetes. By manipulating the DNA of related endocrine cells with methyl tagging, researchers successfully turned them into beta cells. This research furthers understanding of the mechanism of diabetes, and hints at potential cures and treatments.
percentage of patients who continue smoking even after a diagnosis of lung cancer
source: time magazine, inc.
percent increase in the number of ER visits from 2004 to 2008 caused by ecstasy
percentage of US adults taking dietary supplements, reported from 2003-2006
top doodle: faye brown/istockphoto; plant: ansonsaw/istockphoto; pillows: karam miri/istockphoto; right: evgeny karandaev/istockphoto
Six to eight hours sleep optimal for cognitive performance
Q&A How do dental health and overall health relate?
// by anna wong | design by karin yuen
Many people associate health with fat, the heart, skin, etc., but most may not consider the mouth when it comes to general health. In fact, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, “the signs and symptoms of many potentially life-threatening diseases appear in the mouth first.” The importance of oral health has recently started a movement to widen the role of dentists such as measuring their patients’ blood pressures and even monitoring glucose levels for those at risk for diabetes. Considering the fact that most people visit their dentist more frequently than their physician, this sort of movement could be a major step in the screening process of medical conditions. Here are some ways your oral health may link to your general health:
❯❯ Studies have shown that those with periodontal disease (infection of the gums and bone that surround the teeth) exhibited increased levels of systemic inflammation. In fact, a 2003 meta-analysis of periodontal disease and the risk of heart disease published in Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology & Endodontics suggested that periodontal disease may be associated with a 19% increase in future risk of cardiovascular disease.
❯❯ In a 2005 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, 12,110 individuals participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that those who maintained a normal weight, exercised regularly, and consumed a high-quality diet were 40% less likely to have periodontitis when compared to individuals who did not engage in any of these beneficial behaviors.
❯❯ According Dr. William Maas, the director of the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC) Division of Oral Health, “people with diabetes are more likely to have gum (periodontal) disease.” A 2001 study published in Annals of Periodontology suggested that diabetes and periodontal diseases are bidirectionally associated, meaning that diabetes may affect dental health and dental health may affect glycemic control. A later 2008 study from Diabetes Care concluded that “participants with intermediate levels of periodontal disease had a two-fold increased odds of incident diabetes” when compared with periodontally healthy participants.
❯❯ Bacteria in tooth plaque in the mouth may trigger endocarditis,
❯❯ Osteoporosis can often be first detected through symptoms in
the mouth, according to Dr. David Wong, DMD, DMSc, Professor and Associate Dean of Research at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Some of these early signs of osteoporosis include loose teeth and gums barely attached to the teeth. A dentist can take an x-ray to see whether or not there is decreased bone density in the jawbone. t w
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total wellness ▪ spring 2011
inflammation of the lining of the heart. This can happen when an overload of bacteria leads to gingivitis, which is characterized by red and swollen gums. Oftentimes gingivitis leads to bleeding of the gums when flossing or brushing, allowing the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and stick to other parts of the body such as the inner lining of the heart. Though this is a very rare case, proper dental care can never hurt.
â?Żâ?Ż walk this way with heart-health benefits and more, regular walking is a step in the right direction Too tired to head to the gym? An effective alternative could be a nice, brisk walk. Walking is an easy and refreshing way to boost your physical health; it is not only a beneficial mode of exercise for older adults, but also a typical activity that college students engage in every day while moving from class to class. Walking is a great option, especially for individuals looking for a social and lower intensity exercise. Read on to discover the health benefits of walking, along with some tips on how to make the most out of your walking regimen.
According to the Journal of American College Health, 50% of college students are not meeting the recommended amounts of physical activity. There are a few reasons why a fast-paced walk outside might be a more attractive option to get moving, as opposed to jogging or running. Walking can also be used as an extra form of exercise that can be added to an already established exercise routine. Because of its slower intensity, walking can be a group activity, as it allows for shared conversation and bonding between walkers. This is an important quality of walking because social interaction has been found to be very beneficial for mental health. Also, walking is a low-risk activity, with a small chance of injury, unlike other more intense sports. No special skills or expensive equipment are required to take a walk, making it a convenient and free activity, an activity that can be done anytime, anywhere, even while doing other things such as listening to music or talking on the phone. Best of all, walking is completely and totally accessible to people of all ages and from all athletic backgrounds.
// by melody lavian| design by karin yuen and amorette jeng
total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
walk your way to better health the payoffs when you hit your stride: enhance your mood
care for your body
A 2002 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise analyzed the impact of taking daily walks on the mood of participants. Though the participants were not excessively tense or anxious at the study’s onset, their anxiety levels did decrease significantly as a result of their walking regimen. A similar 2000 study, published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found comparable boosts in mood as a result of 10-15 minute rapid, outdoor walks in groups. When compared to a sedentary control group of 26 undergraduate participants, the group of 26 undergraduates in the walking group self-reported better moods and higher heart rates on their post-study evaluations after power walking. So, stepping outside, even for only 10 minutes, can be an uplifting and simple way to achieve a state of happiness and contentment.
Research shows that you do not need to walk for a single, long period of time to accrue physical benefits. The same 2002 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise also found that even three 10-minute walks throughout the day led to multiple health advantages. The participants in this study included 21 middle-aged individuals who took either three short walks or one long walk a day, five days a week for six weeks. Both groups saw increases in their high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (known as “good” cholesterol), and decreases in triacylglycerol and total cholesterol levels. The good news is that this study shows that incorporating short bouts of walking into a hectic lifestyle is not only easy, but also has a measurable effect on health. College students can easily incorporate brisk walks into their routines, as walking to and from class usually takes anywhere between 10-20 minutes anyway.
improve your memory Recent evidence has found that walking is not only good for your body, but also the mind. A 2005 article published in Current Opinion in Psychology reviewed the impacts of physical exercise, and found that physical activity, on the whole, helps individuals maintain better overall health and cognitive function. Walking is a simple and effective way to protect your health, and a 2008 study published in Psychological Science found that interacting with nature while walking could also improve memory. The undergraduate participants in this study who took an hour long walk in a park close to campus showed more improvements in scores on a memory test than individuals who took a walk in a downtown area near campus filled with heavy traffic.
To get the most out of power walking, try some of the following:
❯❯ Bring a pedometer. Keeping track
of how many steps you are taking can motivate you to keep moving. A 2005 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise actually found that women walked, on average, a whole mile farther when counting their steps as opposed to just timing themselves. ❯❯ Bring a friend. Walking with friends will not only make walking more fun, but it will also make it harder to give up with someone to cheer you on by your side. ❯❯ Avoid the shuttle and walk to class. If you live off campus but within walking distance to school, it can be tempting to simply drive, ride the bus, or take the shuttle to campus. However, walking will not only help the environment by reducing automobile emissions, but it will also energize you before class. ❯❯ Warm up before; cool down after. Although walking is not a high-impact activity, it is still important to adhere to basic guidelines for exercise to make your walking experience an enjoyable one.
Where to Walk? While the UCLA campus is a beautiful place to take walks – with its intricate architecture, lush foliage, and expansive terrain – there are plenty of places around Los Angeles that can accommodate longer periods of activity. If you’d like to get away, here are some other options:
❯❯ Try the Temescal Canyon Loop for
amazing views and a seasonal waterfall (note: this is a fairly strenuous, 4 mile hike) ❯❯ For a moderately easy walk, try the Hollyridge Trail, which will give you an outstanding close-up of the famed Hollywood sign ❯❯ Griffith Park offers a wide range of trails for all skill levels ❯❯ For somewhere closeby, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica will allow you to walk alongside the ocean or even do some window shopping if you’re interested Wherever you choose to go, just remember that walking is an easy, affordable, and time-effective exercise that fits into the life of even the busiest college student. Thirty minutes or so a day will keep you feeling positive and well.
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Interestingly, a recent 2010 study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that walking can actually increase the size of the hippocampus, a component of the brain involved in memory processing. The participants in this study were 120 men and women, aged around 60 years old. These participants were assigned to either a walking group or a low-intensity exercise group. The participants in the walking group took three walks per week, while the low-intensity exercise group participated in more gentle activities such as yoga and resistance training. The study lasted a year, and after this time, the participants in the walking group actually experienced a 2% increase, on average, in the volume of the hippocampus, while the other group experienced a reduction of about 1.4%. The implications of this study suggest that this simple mode of exercise may play a very significant role in memory, especially as we grow older. t w
the guide ❯❯ shopping for athletic shoes // by leigh goodrich| design by karin yuen How much can a shoe really impact your workout? Much more than just protection for your feet, modern athletic shoes are designed specifically to enhance exercise and tailor to different activities and needs. Not only can the right athletic shoe help you avoid blisters and discomfort, but it can also protect against injury and strain. Of course, when faced with hundreds of brands, designs, and advertised benefits, how do you find that perfect fit? ❯❯ stick with what you like. If you find a shoe that you
love, stick with it. While athletic shoes definitely need replacing, don’t feel the need to buy the latest model if the one you have fits you right. If you find one in particular that’s perfect, consider buying an extra pair or two. Oftentimes, companies will discontinue or change models, making it difficult to get an exact replacement.
❯❯ shop prepared. When trying on shoes, make sure to bring
a pair of socks that you would typically wear when working out. If you use orthotic inserts, try shoes on with those as well. Make sure there is about a finger’s width of distance between your toes and the tip of the shoe. Measurements may vary between brands and models, so shop by fit, not necessarily labeled size. Also, don’t hesitate to walk, jog in place, or jump around a bit in the shoes while in the store. You want to be sure that the shoes fit comfortably before you leave.
❯❯ go sport-specific. Consider buying a sport-specific shoe if
What about toning shoes?
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Marketing for toning shoes has been quite extensive recently, with certain brands promising to get you in shape, improve your posture, tone your lower body, boost your metabolism, and more. So, why all the hype? Toning shoes are designed as “rocker bottom” models, meaning they are intentionally unstable to promote motion from heel to toe. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM), podiatrists have prescribed custom versions of these shoes for many years to treat particular gait problems or pain. In today’s setting, they are purchased, sometimes for over $100, to add a component of exercise to walking, in an effort to lose weight or tone muscles. The advertising claims regarding this, according to the AAPSM, are grossly overstated. A 2010 study published in Gait and Posture found that
these shoes were effective in activating certain extrinsic foot muscles, suggesting that they can strengthen that muscle group and improve balance. However, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), this has little impact on fitness. In their own study, ACE found that none of the three toning shoes tested (Skechers, MBT, and EasyTone) created a significant change in exercise response or muscle activation compared to a normal running shoe. While many consumers report feeling sore after wearing toning shoes, this makes sense because of the change in balance, not necessarily because you’re burning extra calories or “shaping up.” Also, your body adjusts and adapts to this new walking pattern fairly quickly. Bottom line – if you’re looking to get a full workout, try more than just a new pair of sneakers.
❯❯ replace as needed. Depending on the wear and tear,
aim to replace athletic shoes about every year. Of course, if this is not a hard and fast rule. Running shoes tend to last 350 to 500 miles, while other guidelines state that if you run at least twice a week you should replace shoes twice a year. Perhaps more practical advice is to simply notice the way your shoes look and feel, and buy a new pair when the material is worn, indicating a loss of shock absorption and stability. Importantly, don’t wait until the shoe is practically falling apart to replace it – slight wear and tear can make an impact on the comfort and feel of the shoe.
❯❯ know your foot type. Pronation, defined as the way
your foot rolls from heel to toe, will determine the best fit during exercise. To test your pronation and arch height, you can perform a “wet test.” Simply wet the bottom of your feet and step on a paper bag or other darkly-colored material. Analyze the imprint for information – you can trace the outline with a pencil before it fades. A normal arch should show a curve along the inside edge with the dark outer band spanning about half the width of the foot. A low arch, also known as overpronating or flat feet, would show hardly any curve. A high arch or underpronation, on the other hand, would have a very thin dark band on the outer edge of the foot from toe to heel. t w
olivier blondeau/istockphoto; right: elena elisseeva/istockphoto
you do that activity three or more times a week. This will cushion your feet and ankles against repetitive movements and certain pressure points. For example, basketball players benefit from high-top shoes with more ankle support for jumping, while runners use shoes with more flexibility and protection from impact.
eat right As part of a growing health consciousness, many people are
raw vs. cooked the scoop on the raw food debate // by julia horie | design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang
turning to Raw Foodism, an intense (often vegan) lifestyle consisting solely of uncooked foods, with the goal of losing weight, slowing aging, and/or preventing disease. This begs the question – are all raw foods better than those that are cooked? There are several factors to consider when weighing the costs and benefits of eating raw food. In general, fruits and vegetables in their natural, raw states contain more nutrients than cooked produce, as well as a higher water content, which prevents overeating. While some minerals, like calcium and zinc, are not affected by heat, other water-soluble nutrients, like vitamin B and vitamin C, may be lost with cooking. However, cooked foods have their benefits, too – for certain vegetables, heat actually enhances bioavailability, digestibility, and taste. As the “raw vs. cooked” debate heats up, a growing body of research suggests that restricting a diet solely to either raw or cooked foods may not be the optimal choice — healthy eating demands a balance between the two. Different foods are affected differently when exposed to heat. Listed on the next page is your guide to several foods to help make your choice (to cook or not to cook?) a little easier.
➺ total wellness ▪ spring 2011
the guide ❯❯ to cook or not to cook?
Different foods are affected differently by heat – find out when choosing one over the other may make a difference!
The perks of raw: Raw carrots are great sources of fiber and contain many other nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene. They also contain a cancer-fighting substance called falcarinol, which is better retained in uncooked carrots. The perks of cooked: When it comes to bioavailability, cooking carrots makes beta-carotene more accessible to the body. This essential antioxidant is converted into vitamin A, a vital player in aiding vision, reproduction, bone growth, and immunity. Raw carrots also have tougher cell walls, making digestion more difficult and cutting the amount of beta-carotene available to the body to less than 25%. The verdict: Cooked carrots retain a great amount of vitamins, while making the important antioxidant betacarotene more accessible for the body to use. When cooking carrots yourself, it is best to cook the whole carrot before cutting it, as this minimizes leaching of precious water-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, and brings out the carrot’s sweeter side. Of course, raw carrots are still a great option – just remember to chew them thoroughly or grind them up in a refreshing juice to optimize their bioavailability.
The perks of raw: Eating tomatoes in their natural state preserves vitamin C and folate, which fight off damaging free radicals and promote healthy cell growth. Though vitamin C levels may decline by as much as 10% when tomatoes are cooked for just two minutes, this is not a significant loss.
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The perks of cooked: Cooking tomatoes makes lycopene three to four times more bioavailable than raw tomatoes per unit volume. Lycopene is an important antioxidant that may reduce the risk of prostate, breast, lung, and skin cancers. The heat breaks down their cell walls, releasing valuable nutrients, such as lycopene, making it more readily absorbed by the body. Cooking reduces the water content as well, so you can get more lycopene per serving. The verdict: There are far fewer sources of lycopene than there are for vitamin C. Get your vitamin C from other fruits and vegetables and stick to
cooked tomatoes to maintain sufficient lycopene intake. Plus, adding cooked tomato products like sauces on top of vegetables can double your servings of produce.
The perks of raw: Just one cup of raw spinach supplies half the recommended daily value of vitamin A and is loaded with over 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K. It also provides some folate, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, vitamin B2, and manganese. Spinach happens to be one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables out there. The perks of cooked: Spinach contains high amounts of lutein, another carotenoid that, like lycopene, is more available to the body when the spinach has been processed through chopping or cooking to release the lutein from the cellular structure. Spinach contains considerable amounts of oxalates, compounds that can limit calcium and iron absorption in the body, leaving only 2-5% available for the body to use. According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, boiling spinach decreases the oxalate content by 87%, thus increasing the bioavailability of the calcium and iron in the spinach. The verdict: Spinach fuels the body with a powerful nutrient-punch in both its raw and cooked forms. The healthiest way to cook spinach is to boil or steam it for one minute. Although this drains the spinach of some water-soluble vitamins, it also allows the oxalates to leach into the boiling water. This also brings out a sweeter taste from the spinach. Since spinach has such a high water content, it shrinks considerably when cooked, condensing its valuable nutrients while simultaneously increasing its
The perks of raw: Broccoli has the highest amount of isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in many cruciferous vegetables that enhance the body’s detoxification system and exhibit anti-carcinogenic properties. However, these chemicals require the presence of an important enzyme in order to function in the body. Heat deactivates this enzyme, thereby decreasing the bioavailability of
elena elisseeva/istockphoto; right top: ugurhan betin/istockphoto
isothiocyanates by 18-59%. These valuable antioxidants are also present in other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy. The perks of cooked: When broccoli is steamed, its fiber-related components have an easier time binding to the bile acids in the digestive tract, making for easier bile acid excretion and consequently lowering cholesterol. It may also seem unreasonable to endure the bitter bite of raw broccoli when a greater amount of nutrients can be consumed from an equal volume of cooked broccoli. The verdict: When it comes to eating broccoli, choosing between its raw and cooked forms is ultimately a matter of preference. If eating raw broccoli is unbearable, steaming it is a comparably nutritious option. By minimizing the loss of isothiocyanates, steaming preserves the broccoli’s bioavailability and takes the bite out of this otherwise difficult-to-chew vegetable. This rule of thumb can also be applied to other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy.
After analyzing the costs and benefits of eating raw versus cooked foods, it is difficult to say that one method is superior over the other. Experts and ongoing research demonstrate that the answer is not as clear-cut as we may like. The best recommendation is simply to increase consumption of natural, fresh fruits and vegetables while cutting out highly processed foods. A person on a 2,000 calorie diet should aim for nine servings, or 4 ½ cups, of fruits and vegetables per day.
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total wellness ▪ spring 2011
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to convince us that if food tastes better, we are more likely to eat it. Cooked vegetables present more options and are sometimes more appealing to eat – just remember that all cooking methods are not created equal. Deep fried foods are notorious for producing dangerous free radicals and releasing them into the body. Heating oil to such high temperatures causes oxidation of the fat, which uses up the antioxidants obtained from the diet that could otherwise combat free radical formation within cells and tissues. Use shorter cooking times, and choose to steam vegetables over frying them, as this will retain the greatest amount of antioxidants and vitamins. Add spices like tumeric, rosemary, ginger, and garlic, to your meals – not only do they enhance flavors, but they also bring a plethora of antioxidants to the table to compensate for those lost in cooking the vegetables. Lastly, take time to chew your food to optimize digestion and appreciate the medley of tastes harmonizing in your mouth. t w
With more then 2,000 kinds of apples in the world, this classic fruit boasts variety unlike any other. A look into the many picks to choose from: // BY JENNIFER WILSON | DESIGN BY KARIN YUEN AND ELIZABETH WANG Known as the fruit that keeps the doctor away, apples boast numerous health benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol to even improving dental health. To start off, they contain copious amounts of antioxidants – so much, in fact, that apples are considered to have the second most antioxidant activity amongst the most commonly eaten fruits in America. Antioxidants help to repair DNA damage caused by free radicals, which otherwise can lead to heart disease and cancer development. In addition to antioxidants, apples are rich in fiber, which interestingly enough can help reduce the amount of tartar buildup in your teeth. To top it all off, let’s not forget to mention that this magnificent fruit is a source of various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, essential for the immune system and maintaining gums and teeth, and potassium, important for heart function and muscle contractions. Talk about a fruit champion!
the guide ❯❯ gala This apple has a distinctive reddish orange color with yellowish tints. It is crisp in texture and crunchy when bit with a juicy sensation. Gala apples are a great snack on the go and excellent for salads and baking.
granny smith Originating from Australia, Granny Smith apples are bright green apples with an occasional pink blush. They have a crisp texture which makes them superb for salads. Known for their tart flavor, Granny Smith apples are a good choice when it comes to baking because of their high acidity and ability to hold their shape under cooking. They are also suitable for caramel dipping.
honeycrisp Introduced in Minnesota, Honeycrisp apples are big and red with green hues and a yellow background. They have an ultra crisp texture and a sweet-as-honey, tart taste which makes them ideal for salads, baking and snacking. Honeycrisp apples are juicy with a clean and refreshing taste.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
when are they in season?
September to June
October to June
October to April
September to November
October to December
September to January
September to April
October-late spring/ early summer
pink lady Also known as the Cripps Pink, Pink Lady apples range from magenta to pink in color with a few green spots and a creamy, dense flesh. They are medium in size and have a crisp texture. They have a tart and sweet flavor and are known for their resistance to browning when cut, which is ideal for salads. Because of their sweet, tart flavor, Pink Lady apples are also ideal for baking, juicing and preserves. Pink Lady apples also pair well with fresh strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit and mango for a refreshing fruit salad.
gala, granny smith, honeycrisp, fiji, red delicious, golden delicious: natallia bokachi/istockphoto; pink lady, braeburn: craftvision/istockphoto
apple varieties fuji A Japanese apple with American parents, Red Delicious and Ralls Janet, Fuji apples have a reddish color with hints of yellow and green. Fuji apples are sweet and juicy with a crisp texture and have a long shelf life, which makes them great for salads, baking and sauce.
red delicious Famous for its association with Johnny Appleseed and being an all-American apple, Red Delicious apples have red skin and yellow flesh. They have a slight tartness and a sweet yellow, crispy taste which makes them an excellent snack or part of lunch. Among apples, Red Delicious apples, are one of the varieties that contain the most antioxidants.
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braeburn Super crisp with yellow flesh and dark red skin, Braeburn apples are sweet with a tangy flavor. They are aromatic and juicy, excellent for snacking and salads and for making applesauce. Include these in your next dessert recipe!
total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
Golden Delicious apples are large, yellow apples with a tender, yellow flesh. They have a mild sweet and juicy taste with a very thin flesh. Golden Delicious apples are ideal for baking because of their natural sweetness. If used, less sugar is needed in pies and sauce recipes. According to Carina Norris, a British nutritionist, Golden Delicious apples contain copious amounts of quercetin, a powerful antioxidant with additional antihistamine and anti-inflammatory effects. t w
the facts in a
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
uts and seeds are an easy way to give your body some wholesome and beneficial nutrition while satisfying your hunger. They pack a powerful punch of fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants and are indisputably a great source of essential fatty acids. As a snack or even as components of meals and desserts, nuts and seeds can make a healthy contribution to a balanced diet. As one of the most energyrich foods consumed, nuts and seeds are commonly marked as high-fat, highcalorie snack foods. Yet a study reported in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition asserts that “nut consumers have a lower BMI than non-consumers,” a phenomenon that can be attributed to the tendency of individuals to stay fuller for longer periods after eating these tasty morsels. More importantly, studies suggest that controlled portions have been linked with healthy weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. It is crucial to note, however, that these health benefits result when nuts and seeds replace processed carbohydrates and saturated fats and are not simply added to high fat, high calorie diets. Eaten with this consideration, the health benefits of nuts and seeds are numerous. So, if you’re nutty for nuts or silly for seeds — or even if you just want to fill up on some facts about these snacking favorites — then read on.
l l e t sh
// by sandeep dhillon
| design by trang tj nguyen pistachios The pistachio is unique in its green coloring and the fact that, unlike other nuts, it can be roasted and salted without being shelled. According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, pistachios may have beneficial effects on the body’s triglyceride levels and are quality snack items for those looking to lose weight. Research also suggests that the process of de-shelling the nut slows down consumption rate and increases satiety. A 2008 study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that pistachios, when eaten in portioncontrolled servings, decrease risk of cardiovascular disease and lower LDL cholesterol, and they beat out other commonly eaten nuts as the richest source of protein, phytosterols, and potassium (though they compete with sunflower seeds as the best source of phytosterols).
almonds Almonds are an excellent addition to a healthy diet because they improve satiety and contribute positively to body function. Although commonly blanched or slivered, almonds are actually more beneficial if consumed with their skins. A 2010 study published in the official journal of the European Federation of Immunological Societies found that, compared to blanched almonds, unblanched almonds enhanced immune response to viral infection and also acted as anti-inflammatory agents. Almond skins contain flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, improve the absorption of vitamin C, and contribute to the health of blood vessels. Almonds may also decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease amongst individuals with type II diabetes due to their beneficial effects on blood lipid profiles and glycemic control.
chia seeds The chia seed has been popularly touted as a “weight-loss seed,” but the claim that this seed leads to rapid weight loss is not supported by scientific research. However, the chia seed is stocked with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and even calcium. More research needs to be done to determine the exact nature of this seed’s effect on human health, but its nutritional value alone is substantial. In fact, the chia seed surpasses even blueberries as an antioxidant source, making it a powerful contribution to any healthy diet. Unlike flax seeds, which are absorbed by the body more effectively if ground, chia seeds can be eaten in their whole seed form.
flax seed: draconus/istockphoto; brazil nuts: simon krzic/istockphoto; hazelnut: kaan ates/istockphoto; sunflower seeds: antimartina/istockphoto; walnut: frans rombout/istockphoto; pistachio nuts: morepixels/istockphoto;chia seeds: kjekol/istockphoto; almonds: sasimoto/istockphoto; pumpkin seeds: igor dutina/istockphoto
Pumpkin seeds aren’t just a tasty leftover from Halloween, but are actually a great way to incorporate trace minerals and essential fatty acids into your diet. They are an excellent source of magnesium, which is essential to heart health, assists in energy production, and helps regulate levels of calcium, copper, potassium, and zinc in the body. Magnesium also plays a significant role in bone strength, nerve function, and heart rhythm. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein, manganese, zinc, and phytosterols, and they have been linked to prostate health. Also, you can grab a handful (or mix them with cereal or granola) for a good dose of beta-carotene and vitamin A.
Of the different kinds of walnuts, the English walnut and the black walnut are most commonly consumed (the former more so than the latter). Though they are calorie-dense, with up to 200 calories per ounce, walnuts are nutrient powerhouses that offer the mightiest dose of omega-3s and heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats of all nuts. They can help reduce blood cholesterol, keep blood vessels healthy, ward off heart disease, and are also purported to have cancer-fighting properties due to their high antioxidant content. With a relatively high content of the trace minerals manganese and copper, these tree nuts provide small amounts of a variety of minerals and vitamins, including B-6, thiamine, folate, and phosphorus . Interestingly, walnuts have the lowest content of phytosterols and, because of their high fat content, are best eaten in moderation.
Either shelled or hulled, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, selenium, folate, and phytosterols. Phytosterols, compounds found in plants, can help reduce the absorption and production of serum LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Sunflower seeds contribute to heart health, and their high levels of phytosterols may lead to decreased risk of certain cancers, such as breast and prostate cancers (though research is ongoing to determine the exact nature of this association). Most importantly, sunflower seeds are a whole food source of vitamin E (according to the USDA, a one-ounce serving provides 76% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance), an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease.
Typically featured in creamy lattes or decadent desserts, hazelnuts (also known as filberts) bring more to the table than just flavor. Providing soluble fiber and a healthy dose of iron, potassium, magnesium, and folate, hazelnuts are a tasty and nutritious addition to a well-rounded diet. Like other nuts, hazelnuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower LDL cholesterol, and they contain oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), which raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. Research has discovered that hazelnuts inhibit the formation of cataracts in rats and suggests that, in appropriate doses, hazelnuts may be beneficial to humans in the same manner.
Flax seeds are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, aiding in digestion and colon health, and also provide lignans. The latter may protect against certain kinds of cancers that involve hormones — such as prostate and breast cancers — by blocking enzymes used in hormone metabolism and interfering with tumor cell growth. As rich sources of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (a form of omega-3), flax seeds have been associated with improved cardiovascular health, though studies are ongoing to determine their effects on coronary diseases. The most effective way to enjoy the benefits of this seed is to consume it in its ground form.
Brazil nuts, the seeds of giant trees in the Amazon jungle, are characterized by their large size. Like most other nuts, they provide a source of arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels and improves blood pressure. Compared to other nuts, Brazil nuts contain the highest level of the essential mineral selenium, which has antioxidant properties that may protect against different cancers, including rectum, prostate, lung, and colon cancer. Keep in mind that selenium in high doses is toxic, so excess consumption should be viewed with caution. A one-ounce serving of unblanched Brazil nuts provides about 780% of the recommended daily intake of selenium. t w
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
the soy controversy // by amarbir gill| design by karin yuen
Soy, a staple food in Asian countries for thousands of years and an
excellent source of plant protein, has recently found itself the subject of controversy in the world of health and nutrition. Public attention on soy has focused particularly on a hypothesized relationship to breast cancer in women. Despite its reputation as an anti-cancer and antioxidant agent, concern about the safety of soy has continued to grow among consumers. Here, Total Wellness takes a look into the growing controversy:
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
It has been proposed that many of soy protein’s health benefits are derived from its two major isoflavone antioxidants, genistein and daidzien. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens, natural compounds that are produced by plants but not the body, but which can mimic one of the body’s primary sex hormones, estrogen. As phytoestrogens, soy isoflavones are structurally similar to estrogen but act differently in the body. Consequently, by selectively binding to anti-proliferative forms of the estrogen receptor, they are able to interfere with estrogen hormone function and metabolism, and part of their theoretical anti-cancer role may be derived from this phenomenon. Conversely, it has also been theorized that since breast cancers are stimulated to grow when estrogen binds to estrogen receptors, soy isoflavones, due to their structural similarity, may in fact facilitate breast cancer tissue growth by similarly binding to those receptors. However, as mentioned in a 2000 study in the Journal of Nutrition, it is important to note that soy isoflavones bind very weakly to the classical form of estrogen receptors found in the breast and uterus, which mediate cell proliferation, but bind very strongly to the newly discovered beta estrogen receptor. As discussed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000, beta estrogen receptors not only modulate the activity of the classical receptors but they also demonstrate anti-proliferative effects in the uterus and prostrate. One of the major “anti-soy” studies to gain public notoriety was published in Cancer Research in 2002. The study demonstrated that large doses of genistein could stimulate growth of breast cancer tissue in a line of mice with compromised immune systems. It is important to note, however, that this study delivered genistein at a much greater concentration than that found in a diet incorporating moderate levels of soy.
Moreover, a 2004 study in the International Journal of Cancer demonstrated that the same line of mice, when supplemented with genistein at levels closer to those found in the blood of individuals who consume soy, demonstrated no growth of cancer tissue. In fact, when genistein was combined with tea extracts it was shown to significantly reduce growth. Most recently, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition last year found that women consuming moderate levels of soy have less incidence of breast cancer than those who do not incorporate soy into their diets.
soy and women’s health The researchers of a 2008 study published in the British Journal of Cancer found that Asian women showed decreased risk of cancer with increasing consumption of soy, whereas Western women, possibly due to their lower total level of consumption, showed no correlation. This suggests that soy consumption at the levels in Asian populations (minimum of 10 mg/day), which is currently not experienced in the Western world, could lead to a decreased risk of cancer. The potential benefits of soy are not merely preventative. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association measured the effects of soy intake on the risk of death and recurrence in breast cancer survivors in China. The researchers found that among women already diagnosed with breast cancer, those who consumed soy had a 32% lower risk of death and a 29% lower risk of cancer recurrence. Though the results have been inconsistent, the literature on the whole suggests that it is safe to consume soy, and that women consuming moderate amounts of soy throughout their life have lower breast cancer risk than women who do not consume soy.
sorting fact from fiction
what about men? Just as soy may help lessen the proliferation of breast tissue in women, so too has it been implicated in helping men fight prostrate cancer. Since soy is similar in many respects to the female hormone estrogen, there has been a long-standing stigma surrounding soy consumption in males. However, a study conducted last year and published in Fertility and Sterility demonstrated that soy food products and isoflavone supplements have no adverse effects on male testosterone levels. Indeed, data from a 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that soy consumption could actually lead to a 26% reduction in risk of prostrate cancer in men, though the decreased risk was seen mainly in Asian and not Western populations.
a healthy heart In 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed the claim that consuming 25 grams of soy daily can help lower the risk of heart disease and improve cardiovascular health. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that a diet substituting soy protein for animal products reduced the risk of coronary artery disease by lowering lipid counts, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Similarly, a study published two years later in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggested that a dietary intake of at least 20 grams of soy protein and 80 milligrams of isoflavones lowered high blood pressure and cholesterol levels among Scottish men, providing further support for the FDAâ€™s claim that consumption of soy can help reduce risk for heart disease.
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something to keep in mind Although the benefits of soy seem to outweigh the claims of risk, there is one potential caveat that bears mentioning. Some argue that soy may act as an anti-thyroid agent by disrupting endocrine function and causing the swelling of the thyroid gland and neck to form a goiter. Although it is not certain whether soy alone can sufficiently decrease the bodyâ€™s concentration of thyroid hormone to result in the formation of a goiter, it may be advisable for individuals already lacking a sufficient source of iodine to increase iodine intake if consuming soy. Some foods high in iodine include seaweed, sea kelp, eggs, and meat. Indeed, a study published in Thyroid in 2006 showed that, by itself, soy intake neither significantly affects thyroid function nor causes hypothyroidism in individuals with normally functioning thyroid glands; however, in hypothyroid patients soy may decrease absorption of hypothyroid medication. t w
Keep in mind that soyfoods contain about 3 milligrams of isoflavones for every gram of protein. Both men and women can take advantage of the full spectrum of anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits offered by soy by incorporating around 25 grams of soy protein, which can deliver up to 80 milligrams of isoflavones.
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total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
Recommended soy intake
why do we dream? // by yessenia chaiu | design by amorette jeng
Dreams are a mysterious phenomenon of the human mind, influencing our emotions and senses during our unsuspecting sleep. They may include a realistic rendition of a previous day’s events, a fantastical mumbo jumbo of strange images, or even a spine-chilling, hair-raising nightmare that can haunt for days to come. Yet even after a century of research, postulation, and experimentation, the theory behind dreaming is still an unsolved mystery that continues to perplex and mystify. Can understanding the process of dreaming illuminate how we can improve our physical and mental health? Here we look at a few of the most prominent perceptions about modern psychoanalysis.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
the early stages of psychoanalysis: the freudian theory
Sigmund Freud, often called the “father of psychoanalysis,” is one of the earliest and most prominent figures in the sphere of dream analysis. In Freud’s famous 1900 publication The Interpretation of Dreams, he interpreted dreams as visual and emotional manifestations of repressed desires, motivations, and thoughts from the unconscious mind. According to Freud, repression is a natural process of human development, and these closeted desires and memories perpetually slip into our consciousness through dreaming. The memories of conscious experiences and events created when the mind is awake are reworked and generate illogical and even unrecognizable forms in the mind during sleep. Dreams
are essentially driven by subdued impulses, which are then fulfilled by recycling and reconfiguring the material of latent thoughts. Dreams may thus represent memories and reflections of the past, warnings or worries about the future, or fulfillment of suppressed wishes. It is the translation of these immaterial thoughts into an equally complex sensorial image in the brain that results in the irrational, absurd, and eccentric dreams that most people experience.
an introduction to sleep, REM, and modern psychophysiology Overriding Freud’s dominant dream theory of the 1900s was the advent of psychophysiological analysis, which began in 1953 with the discovery of REM and non-REM sleep — cycles of brain activity that occur in timed stages throughout normal sleep. A person will usually undergo five cycles consisting of non-REM periods followed by REM periods during a night. The length of each stage is specific for each individual and differs depending on age, but about 20-25% of one night’s sleep is spent in the REM stage. During non-REM sleep an individual may experience slow eye movement activity, while REM sleep, in addition to rapid eye movements, is distinctively characterized by activation of the brain, more rapid breathing, temporary muscle paralysis and body temperature dysregulation. REM sleep is particularly important for stimulating brain regions involved in learning specific mental skills.
reverse learning In analyzing the existence of dreams, we cannot help but wonder whether dreams have given us a fitness advantage against our ousted predecessors. In 1983, Francis Crick (the Nobel prize winner who helped describe the structure of DNA) and Graeme Mitchinson in Nature argued that, in order to prevent an overload of the brain’s memory systems, dreams were adapted to get rid of cognitive debris as a “reverse learning” process. Dreams
Many psychoanalysts, including Freud, interpret dreams as manifestations of subconscious unrest and anxiety, where an analysis of dream content can provide an uncensored view of internal conflicts and a means to resolve reallife problems. Although dreams have been the subject of intense scrutiny and curiosity for decades, the scientific world has yet to uncover the purpose and function behind dreaming and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, in which dreams are most frequent. Current interdisciplinary research on dreams focuses on both the physiological and evolutionary aspects, suggesting innovative ways to understand this mysterious phenomenon. However, while recent advancements in scientific technology have allowed more experiment-based research on dreams, the understanding of how and why dreams occur is still widely debated.
were therefore seen as a process used to eliminate useless and irrelevant memories. However, under this theory, humans who do not experience REM sleep, and therefore do not get rid of useless memories, are more likely to experience fantasies, imaginary sequences and even hallucinations. One of the major counterarguments to Crick and Mitchinson is the fact that humans who lack REM sleep for specific periods do not exhibit those predicted behavioral changes.
the activation-synthesis model This interchanging model between REM and non-REM sleep became the basis for a 1977 landmark theory posited by Hobson and McCarley, known as the “activation-synthesis hypothesis,” which delineates how dreams are a result of uncontrolled brain activation during the REM period. According to a 2010 article published in Consciousness and Cognition, individuals recall dreams that are most abundant, emotionally complex, and visually vivid right after an awakening from REM sleep. Neuroimaging tests demonstrate that region-specific brain activity occurs during REM, in which particular dream features correlate with selective activation and concurrent deactivation, of brain regions. Under the activation-synthesis theory, dreams are responses to nervous system stimuli, randomly interpreted by the brain as a series of sensorial images, emotions, and hallucinations. Thus, dreams are often strange and irrational because the brain attempts to attribute meaning to arbitrarily generated signals. Because REM sleep is actively associated with learning, it has been suggested that dreaming may play an active role in developing and fine-tuning mental capabilities. As of now, there is no conclusive evidence to show which specific areas of the brain are responsible for dreams. Various bio-imaging research studies show that while non-REM sleep is regulated by forebrain structures (particularly the hypothalamus), REM sleep is primarily controlled by simple brainstem nuclei. However, other studies suggest that dreaming is more likely to be regulated by the higher forebrain regions that characterize non-REM sleep.
At this point in time, it is still extremely difficult to correlate a specific signal of brain activity to a type of dream processing. While some people remember many dreams in one night, others rarely remember having dreamt at all. Whether or not dreaming has an adaptive advantage is yet another unanswered mystery. But in considering how dreams have persisted for generations, it is likely that REM sleep and dreaming may have provided a strong, survival advantage. t w
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total wellness ▪ spring 2011
In contrast, a 2005 article in Evolutionary Psychology suggests that dreams, in addition to being a kind of “threat rehearsal,” also function as a virtual way to train and develop brain cognitive abilities. The time spent dreaming acts as a rehearsal for real life events and situations, and inevitably affects the way the brain will develop and react consciously. The experiences collected while dreaming affect how an individual will communicate and react in the real world, and therefore, affect the general fitness of the individual and species. Subsequently, dreams should reflect risky, unwanted, or adverse situations that we can rehearse and learn to respond accordingly to in the physical world. Interestingly enough, a 2005 report in Evolutionary Psychology documented a 1966 dream study showing that 80% of surveyed dreams were negative thoughts, in which most contained threatening images such as animals and male strangers.
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mood-lifters The mood-food connection is not just a common myth – certain foods really have been found to affect mood. Take a look at how a quick trip to your fridge or pantry could be a potentially mood-changing experience.
// by melody lavian| design by karin yuen The urge to reach for a crunchy handful of chips, a silky piece of chocolate, or a sugary bite of cookie when feeling down is not uncommon. Most have experienced the mood-food connection through the consumption of certain foods. According to UCLA professor of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Dr. Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, compounds from foods can act on the brain to affect emotion. Not only can food help recharge your body’s physical needs, but it can also refuel a dreary outlook on a particularly tough day. A look into the best foods that may aid against the blues
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Chocolate is a delicacy often used to combat feelings of sadness or distress. According to a 2007 study published in Appetite, this tasty treat may lift a negative mood almost immediately (but only if the chocolate is pleasant tasting) unlike other, more neutral foods and drinks, such as water. However, it was concluded that though chocolate can quickly improve one’s mood, the effects only last, on average, three minutes. Researchers attribute the short effects of chocolate to its palatability – that is, its agreeableness of taste to the palate, and the feelings of reward gained through its consumption. Thus, the chocolate’s instantaneous effects on mood are likely due to positive responses that taste buds have to the sweet flavor, as opposed to being induced by inherent mood-boosting factors. Of course, it is important to note that overindulging on delicious chocolate desserts can lead to excessive caloric and sugar intake. Though excessive chocolate consumption is not the most beneficial practice due to the presence of fat and sugar, eating a small piece of chocolate can be comforting enough on its own to rapidly change a glum attitude. While milk chocolate is sweeter, dark chocolate with high cocoa concentrations contains flavonoids — plant compounds that boast multiple benefits, especially related to cardiovascular health. Some of these benefits include protection against the formation of blood clots and clogged arteries, as well as boosts in brain function. If you enjoy its taste, try a small piece of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate the next time a sour mood hits.
left: zsuzsanna kilian/stock.xchng; right (in order): ermin gutenberger/istockphoto; yinyang/istockphoto; floortje/istockphoto
Chocolate: A True Mood Lifter?
What do Leafy Vegetables, Asparagus, and Peas Have in Common?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mental Health According to cross-national research, higher rates of omega-3 fatty acid consumption have been linked to lower rates of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. A 2002 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry explored this phenomenon in patients diagnosed with major depression by randomly adding either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo to a pre-existing antidepressant medication treatment. Sixty percent of participants in the omega-3 group experienced a significant decrease in their Hamilton Depression Score – a rating used to measure the severity of an individual’s depressive symptoms – after a three-week period, while those who received placebos did not improve significantly. Even without a diagnosis of depression, omega-3’s are a definite necessity, contributing heavily to brain function; not only can omega-3 fatty acids assuage the impact of depression, but their anti-inflammatory properties also protect against such health issues as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Tryptophan and Serotonin Tryptophan is an amino acid linked to serotonin production in the brain. Depression, sleeping problems, and anxiety are often connected to an imbalance in serotonin levels. Tryptophan can also elicit a calming effect, staving off headaches and insomnia. Foods heavy in tryptophan include dairy products, peanut butter, turkey, eggs, and chicken. Though high carbohydrate “comfort” foods such as a creamy bowl of macaroni and cheese, or flaky, flavorful breads do provide ample amounts of tryptophan, remember that these choices can be very calorie-dense and high in fat and will most likely leave you feeling uncomfortably full rather than pleasantly satisfied. Some healthier, less heavy options include yogurt and bananas.
While certain foods can be helpful for trumping feelings of sadness or distress, adhering to healthy eating habits will also contribute to a positive state of mind. One way to keep your physical and emotional satisfaction levels high is by simply eating enough healthy food throughout the day. Keeping your sugar levels constant, while avoiding candies, for example, will allow you to avoid unpleasant feelings and general crankiness. More specifically, eating a hearty breakfast each morning, accompanied by a snack a few hours later, is a wholesome habit that will help you feel good. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for maintaining a positive and energized mood. The results of a 2001 study published in Physiology and Behavior support this old adage, though the researchers of this study did find new information that alters the message a bit. Eating breakfast improved mood in the 150 female participants, but only if they ate a snack later. The consumption of breakfast alone did not improve mood, and actually worsened it, perhaps due to the fact that eating large meals tends to result in sleepiness and lethargy, which a snack can help counteract. The results of this study also support the recommendation that eating regularly during the day can help elevate a mood brought down by unpleasant feelings caused by extreme hunger. When the body is deprived of food for a prolonged period of time, blood glucose levels drop, sometimes resulting in a condition called hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Glucose powers the body with energy, and when the body is stripped of this energy, it reacts negatively. Side effects of low blood sugar include nausea, jitteriness, restlessness, and irritability. To prevent this, be sure to eat proper amounts of nutritious food throughout the day. Just remember to keep your meal choices light and fresh, rather than heavy and processed.
The Bottom Line Perhaps the simplest way to affect mood through food is to ensure your diet is balanced and nutritious. With these suggestions in mind, take note of how your food choices influence your emotions the next time you take a snack break. t w
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Choosing foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be as simple as ordering a lean dish of fish when dining out – salmon, tuna, and halibut are tasty choices – rather than opting for a typical hamburger or steak. Another easy option is adding flax seeds into everyday meals such as a classic PB&J sandwich or a morning bowl of cereal. Also, try buying breads and cereals infused with these fatty acids. Crushed flaxseeds can also be simply added to cups of yogurt, and even pancake batter. Other delicious sources of omega-3 fats include walnuts, legumes, and winter squash.
These three foods are all a good source of folic acid, a B vitamin that is necessary for cell development and known for its multiple health benefits. Not only can folic acid protect against the development of some cancers, heart attack, and stroke, but a 2000 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that it can also uplift the mood of individuals fixed in a depressed state. In fact, people with major depressive disorder have been found to possess lower folate levels than those who are not depressed. Researchers have postulated that folic acid may ameliorate depressive symptoms because it mediates the regeneration of tetrahydrobiopterin, an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine – both of which play a role in the stabilization of mood. Deficiencies in norepinephrine have been linked to depression. Dark leafy greens, whole wheat breads and pastas, lentils, and fruits are all foods that are naturally rich in folic acid and can be smoothly incorporated into a healthy diet.
Some General Tips
body in focus
healthy living through probiotics For some, food is simply nutrition, sustenance — something to tide you over until the next wave of hunger strikes. For others, food is pleasure — something to be savored with every bite. But have you ever thought of food as functional, or even beneficial for your health beyond providing your body with energy? New studies in probiotics, which focus on “good bacteria” that are beneficial for our health reveal that there may be more utility in a cup of yogurt than you think. // BY LILLIAN ZHANG | DESIGN BY AMORETTE JENG, KARIN YUEN, AND ELIZABETH WANG
❯❯ what are probiotics?
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Nobel Prize laureate, Eli Metchnikoff, found the first evidence of benefits of probiotics in 1907 while working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France studying lactic acid bacteria (LAB) fermentation of milk. Metchnikoff hypothesized that it might be possible to alter the microflora in our bodies to replace harmful microbes with more helpful and useful ones. Around the same time, French pediatrician, Henry Tissier, published a paper in the journal French Society of Biological Sciences describing healthy children with a high number of Y-shaped bacteria in their stool samples. In contrast, children with diarrhea had a low number of these bacteria in their stool. As a result, Tissier suggested that
these Y-shaped bacteria could be administered to patients with diarrhea to help restore the healthy gut flora and alleviate their diarrhea. These preliminary studies by Metchnikoff and Tissier were the first to suggest that bacteria might be used in ways that would benefit the host organism. After further study, the term “probiotic” was coined in 1953 by German scientist Werner Kollath in his paper “Nutrition and the Tooth System” to describe organic and inorganic supplements that were necessary to restore patients’ health after eating too many refined and highly processed foods. In 1964, German scientist Ferdinand Vergin published a paper titled “Anti-und Probiotika” in which he suggested that while antibiotics upset the microflora of the gut with large-scale killing of bacteria, probiotics on the other hand, could help to restore this balance. Since then, the term “probiotics” has seen many changes in its definition until the FAO and WHO decided on its most recent definition: “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
According to a 2001 joint report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics, which means “for life”, are classified as live microorganisms, generally bacteria, that when administered in sufficient amounts have been thought to confer health benefits to the host. These bacteria are similar to the “good” bacteria that are normally found in the gut.
❯❯ how can probiotics help?
inflammatory diseases and bowel syndromes
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have been thought to have several beneficial effects on the immune system. A 2001 study published in the British Medical Journal suggested that children who consumed probiotic milk experienced fewer respiratory tract infections. Another 2001 article published in Caries Research found evidence that consumption of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in milk resulted in less dental decay in children. More recently, a 2010 article published in Nature Medicine found evidence that the “good” bacteria present in the body keep the immune system primed to more effectively combat future invasions by pathogenic bacteria. Because the immune system is constantly in a state of baseline activity due to its interactions with innate bacteria, it is more readily able to respond to invasion by pathogenic non-resident bacteria. These findings suggest that prolonged use of antibiotics may alter the efficacy of the immune system so it does not function properly, and furthermore, may explain why probiotic therapies have shown positive results in counteracting the negative effects of these antibiotics.
A 2010 article published in Nature Medicine found evidence that the “good” bacteria present in the body keep the immune system primed to more effectively combat future invasions by pathogenic bacteria.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
Although it has been suggested by some research studies that probiotic bacteria may improve lactose intolerance or aid with constipation, further research must be done on these issues before any strong claims about these potential benefits of probiotics can be made. Additionally, while probiotics have been found to have numerous beneficial effects on human health, Dr. Im notes that currently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of probiotics for treatment or prevention of any human diseases. However, she remains hopeful that sometime in the future, enough evidence will be obtained regarding the positive attributes of probiotics to gain approval by the FDA.
probiotic sources, continued on next page
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A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggested that strains of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 could be used to treat women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Patients were administered the probiotic via a capsule containing 108 colony forming units (cfu), which is a measure of the number of viable bacterial cells present in a given sample. After the 4-week trial, patients who had been given the probiotic showed significant improvements in abdominal pain, bloating, bowel dysfunction, and passage of gas in comparison to the placebo group. Another study published by researchers at UCLA in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology in 2009 focused on the positive effects of the probiotic bacteria Bacillus polyfermenticus for various bowel disorders. Dr. Eunok Im, PhD., an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Medicine- Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA said that this study revealed that Bacillus polyfermenticus promoted angiogenesis, or the formation of blood vessels, in mice that were recovering from
Infectious diarrhea, which represents a major global health problem, is responsible for the death of several million people per year. Several probiotic strains of bacteria, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 have been identified in multiple studies for use in prevention and treatment of acute diarrhea caused by rotavirus in children. Rotavirus, a type of double-stranded RNA virus, is one of several viruses responsible for causing stomach flu and is the leading cause of severe diarrheal disease and dehydration in infants in both developed and developing countries. According to the WHO, rotavirus is responsible for between 20-70% of all hospitalized cases of diarrhea and 20% of all diarrheal deaths in children under the age of 5. However, in addition to diarrhea caused by rotavirus, there is evidence to suggest that diarrhea caused by other enteropathogens, or intestinal pathogens, such as Salmonella, may also be alleviated by consumption of probiotics and probiotic foods by inhibiting growth or adhesion of these pathogens.
inflammation of the colon, which is a common symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These results suggest that Bacillus polyfermenticus may be used clinically to facilitate intestinal wound healing when recovering from these diseases.
❯❯ where can i find probiotics? yogurt Yogurt has long been associated with bacteria and for this reason, it is the food most commonly thought of when probiotics are mentioned. The main bacteria found in yogurt, Lactobacillus acidophilus, is part of the normal vaginal flora and the acid produced by this species is thought to help control vaginal yeast infections.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
When considering yogurt as a probiotic food of choice, Dr. Im warns that it is important to consider which bacteria strains are included in yogurt that claims to have probiotic effects since not all strains of bacteria included in yogurt have been shown to have health benefits. Dr. Im also notes that the number of bacteria is important and says that the generally accepted threshold for the number of bacteria necessary to have an effect is approximately 108 cfu, which is the amount generally used in scientific studies. It is therefore important to look for the National Yogurt Association's (NYA) Live & Active Cultures seal to ensure that the yogurt contains a significant amount of live and active bacterial cultures. On December 16, 2010, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that there was not enough evidence to support claims made by Dannon that their yogurt products, such as Activia and DanActive could improve constipation and help prevent colds. Dr. Carey Strom, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine specializing in gastroenterology, the study of the digestive system and its disorders, at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA states that while he supports prescription of probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and diarrhea, there is no solid evidence of benefits
for gastrointestinal problems. However, Dr. Strom also notes that while there is no strong evidence, patients do appear to see some benefits, so consumption of these probiotics in the yogurt can only help, not hurt.
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probiotic supplements The next time you make a trip to the pharmacy, consider stopping by the supplements aisle to take a look at the selection of probiotics that are offered. While probiotics may be useful for people suffering from frequent diarrhea, constipation, or any kind of irritable bowel symptom, Dr. Im suggests researching commercial probiotics and double-checking to ensure that the bacteria strains present in the probiotic product have health benefits that are supported by scientific evidence. Additionally, Dr. Im says that probiotic supplements may also be beneficial for individuals who are interested in boosting their immune function. However, as with any dietary supplements, Dr. Im cautions that if you have any existing illness or are interested in taking probiotics to treat a specific disorder, you should talk to your physician first.
other food sources While most people are aware that bacteria are present in many yogurt products, there are other foods you may turn to that have been known to contain beneficial bacteria as well. These foods include those produced by fermentation, such as buttermilk, miso, sauerkraut, and kim chi. t w
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how to: improve your diet on the cheap
// by jenny hong| design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang The average person in the
U.S. spends between 11 and 16% of his or her income on food. And that’s not all – according to the Consumer Price Index provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the index for food had just posted its largest increase in two years this January, which means that buying food will prove to be an even heavier burden. And Americans are hardly a well-nourished bunch. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33% of American adults were obese in 2008, and 8.3% of the American population was affected by diabetes as of 2010. Because lower income groups are most often linked to obesity and diabetes – both of which are strongly related to poor eating habits – the general trend is that people who spend less money on food tend to have poorer diets. Enter the cost conundrum. Whereas the unhealthiest and most processed foods such as fast food have maintained relatively low prices, the costs of natural and unprocessed foods such as organic produce and meats have soared to obscene heights.
habit of buying seasonal produce to save money year-round. Buying seasonal food can also help keep dinners interesting by requiring a change of ingredients depending on the time of the year.
3. Eat before you grocery shop
It’s a known fact that people tend to make more impulse purchases at the grocery store when they are hungry. An easy way to save money and prevent overestimating your grocery needs during your next tripis to eat before you shop. Although this rule is not an absolute one (don’t scarf down on a meal every time you plan on grovery shopping), a good rule of thumb is to avoid scheduling shopping trips when you are absolutely famished. A grumbling stomach makes aisles of junk food all the more enticing.
BUDGET TIP #2: PAD YOUR WALLET AND EAT FRESH BY BUYING SEASONAL.
The price paradox is a delicate one, and although it may seem that financially-restricted students are doomed to consume foods that have either been fried, frozen or picked up in the drive-thru window, eating right while on a budget proves to be not as difficult as it seems. A look into wallet-friendly ways to improve your diet on the cheap:
Although dining out may offer its conveniences – namely optimizing time and energy use – we can all agree that it gets a little pricey, especially over the long run. To eat at a fraction of the cost, cook one extra meal every week. Not only will it keep your wallet padded – it will also allow for a more handson approach to eating, in which you can regulate the type of food that goes on the dinner plate. Oftentimes, restaurants may sneak large amounts of calories, salt and fat in their foods to ensure they cater to any palate. Cooking an additional meal every week is one way to sidestep this trap. At the end of the month, or even year, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how many greens – and calories! – you have saved following this simple pointer.
2. Purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The benefits of purchasing seasonal foods are twofold: it saves money and secures higher quality produce. Because seasonal fruits are available locally, the costs of import as well as storage are reduced. The savings are reflected in lower prices and fresher produce in larger abundance. Make a
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
BILLS: ZORANI/ISTOCKPHOTO; BAG: GINOSPHOTOS
1. Cook one extra meal every week
4. Preplan your meals for an entire week.
Take your grocery shopping list to the next level and preplan your meals for a full week. Knowing what you’ll need for a set period of time will ensure that you buy the appropriate quantity of food and prevent overbuying and wasting. Preplanning will also reduce the number of emergency one-item grocery runs, which can also waste time, gas, and money. And here’s another reason to whittle down your grocery shopping to just one simple list: having one on hand every time you shop will ensure you’re actually looking for something specific, instead of wandering towards any unnecessary products that might catch your attention.
total wellness | spring 11 coming in june
greener planet, healthier you reusing old things, composting and more! PLUS green restaurants: eco-dining in LA
5. Shop around
Bargain shopping is a great and useful strategy. For instance, some stores that carry cheap fruits may not always carry meat for the same bargain. An easy way to find the best price for each food item is to subscribe to weekly newsletters from nearby stores and page through them before heading off to your next shopping venture. Oftentimes, coupons offering additional discounts are included. Next, keep an eye out for sales, and stock up on any items that you’re bound to buy more of eventually i.e. cereal, rice, pasta noodles, etc.
6. Buy in bulk
Warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club offer many of their products in large quantities for reduced prices. For an annual membership price of $40 and $50 at Sam’s Club and Costco respectively, shoppers can access hordes of groceries and merchandise in warehouse quantities for wholesale prices. But before you proceed to the checkout line, keep two observations in mind. First, the price of certain items at these stores can be higher for the same exact ones offered in supermarkets. This is especially true when comparing brand-name items to store-brand ones, or when regular grocery stores are having sales. Therefore, a little research wouldn’t hurt. And second, be especially wary of purchasing large quantities of perishables. Although bulk quantities for lowered prices may be tempting, they can oftentimes lead to waste – a silent siphon of your hard-earned greens! If investing in a warehouse membership doesn’t seem to be worth the price, collaborate with a close friend or relative and split the cost of a membership card. As long as the cardholder is present during the purchase, anyone’s groceries are fair game. Keep in mind that fresh fruits and vegetables will continue to be pricier than a bag of potato chips or a frozen corn dog. An improved diet will require meals that implement healthier ingredients to begin with so feel free to look up new recipes to accessorize with fruits and vegetables. For instance, dishes such as minestrone soup contain healthy ingredients that are also on the more affordable side. By purchasing them in season, shopping around, or buying in bulk, the meals can quickly go from being affordable to being quite a bargain. t w
how bad is LA pollution? food as medicine: a look into functional foods
ALSO ten anxiety busters the ultimate first-aid guide
You can also check out the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center on the web at www.recreation.ucla.edu/ MAC for more water sports such as rowing, surfing, windsurfing, and sailing. They can also be contacted at (310) 823-0048 or MAC@recreation.ucla.edu.
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"If you want to be happy, be." – leo tolstoy, Russian author, essayist and philosopher (1828-1910)
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
total wellness ❯❯ on the cover
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
A look into ten easy ways to find more pleasure in life because, let’s face it – who can't use a little more happiness?
// by nicole lew | design by karin yuen, elizabeth wang, and trang tj nguyen 28
left: elena elisseeva/istockphoto; original illustrations by trang tj nguyen
happiness in ten easy steps
Whether it be at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, or a Boys and Girls club, volunteering is a rewarding experience, enabling people to help others and make a difference in the community. In fact, a 2001 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior showed that volunteer work enhanced six different aspects of well-being – happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression. There are many clubs and organizations around campus that volunteer in the community – squeeze in a few hours between studying to volunteer because your mood will benefit as much as the charity will.
tip: Visit the UCLA Volunteer
Soak up the Sun
Living in Los Angeles has many benefits – the nightlife, the beaches, and, importantly, the seemingly endless sunshine. Thus, it’s time to take advantage of the natural mood-lifting effects of the sun! A 2008 study published in The Lancet showed that in 101 healthy men, the rate of production of serotonin, commonly known as the “happiness hormone”, was directly related to the duration of bright sunlight received. Instead of hibernating in the library, grab your books and find a quiet spot outside to soak up the sun.
Break a Sweat
Though heading to the gym or going running at the track is not always conducive to the schedule of a busy college student, physical exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. According to Dr. Christian Roberts, a professor in the UCLA School of Nursing, “it has been estimated that physical inactivity may cause up to a third of depression, which is preventable by the incorporation of physical activity; exercise has both anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects and protects against harmful consequences of stress.” Adding regular exercise to your schedule might add that daily mood boost that you need.
tip: Tired of the same gym routine? Check out a group exercise class at the John Wooden Center!
Volunteer your time
tip: There are many quiet places to study outside at UCLA such as Kerckhoff patio and the Sculpture Garden!
tip: Stream UCLA radio live at
Now is the time to take that one activity you have always wanted to try, or that one skill you have always wanted to learn, off the backburner. Though sometimes challenging, learning something new is an extremely gratifying confidence booster. Increased confidence, in turn, directly relates to increased happiness. Start by signing up for a class, borrowing a book from the library, or doing some research online, and soon enough you will be both a more well-rounded and happier person.
tip: The John Wooden Center offers a diversity of skill classes such as African drumming, photography, and martial arts.
Although writing a few sentences a day in a notebook may not seem particularly meaningful, many historical figures such as George Washington and Oscar Wilde kept journals, which are now seen as historical documents. Perhaps, they reaped the many healing benefits of journaling. Journaling can help reduce stress by allowing your thoughts to be released from your mind onto paper. A 2005 study published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment showed that expressive writing positively affects mood and emotional health, in addition to physical health. Though journaling is often used as a healing tool for those suffering from trauma, its benefits as a stress reliever and mood booster are universal.
tip: Unlike traditional writing, journaling can include anything from goals and inspirations to experiences and reflections, and can be written in any style, both structured and unstructured.
Learn Something New
Write in a Journal
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Music is like medicine, without the pills and prescriptions. Music has the ability to elicit positive emotional responses by causing the brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters associated with decreased feelings of pain and stress, and by decreasing the body’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Because of this, music therapy is frequently used to treat those with mental, developmental, and learning disabilities through alleviating pain and managing overall wellness. A 2006 study published in Heart suggested that music has the ability to induce an arousal effect, through tempo, and a relaxing effect, though slow and meditative rhythms. To better your mood, turn on your favorite, upbeat song and start your own music therapy.
Blast your Music
With the hectic nature of college life, finding the time to quiet one’s mind and meditate may seem impossible. However, the hustle and bustle of daily life is the main reason why meditation is healthy. The practice of meditation typically consists of sitting quietly, focusing on one’s breath, and often internally repeating a word or phrase. A 2008 study published in Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that mindful-based stress reduction such as mediation and gentle yoga was directly related to decreased perceived stress and depression and increased psychological well-being. Meditation, the art of calming one’s mind while in a relaxed position, is the perfect means for relieving stress.
tip: The John Wooden Center offers two beginning meditation classes – Wednesdays, 9:45-10:30 am and Sundays 6:50-7:30 pm. .
Find a Four-Legged Friend
Many say that a dog is a man’s best friend. But, there are other benefits of having pets besides companionship, including improvements in health and mood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having pets is linked with reductions in blood pressure, high levels of which are directly correlated to stress. Also, having a pet or even just playing with a friend’s pet can provide many of the positive feelings associated with happiness. A 1998 study by the American Psychiatric Society showed that, in hospitalized patients with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, animal-assisted therapy was correlated with reduced anxiety levels. Your four-legged (or two-legged) friend might hold the secret to decreasing anxiety and increasing happiness.
tip: During finals week, UCLA dorms often host “Furry Friends for Finals” on the hill, an event that allows student to interact with dogs to de-stress during exams.
The simple addition of living plants, such as flowers, to your life may not only brighten your room but also your mood. A 2005 study published in Evolutionary Psychology showed that women who were presented with flowers reported more positive moods three days later than women who did not receive flowers. The study also showed that flowers presented to older adults elicited not only positive moods but also enhanced episodic memory, the memory of autobiographical events. Other health benefits of not just flowers, but all houseplants, include decreases in bacteria, mold spores, and indoor dust in the home. Simply adding a vase of flowers on the table or a decorative houseplant to a room may boost not only your mood but also your health.
tip: According to the National Gardening Association, to increase the longevity of your flowers, you can make your own homemade preservative, consisting of: 1 cup 7-up 1 cup water ½ cup household bleach Some of the fresh cut flowers with the longest vase life include: alstroemeria, aster, celosia, cosmos, gypsophila, lavatera, rudbeckia, scabiosa, snapdragon, statice, sunflower, yarrow, and zinnia. t w
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Brighten your Room with some Living Greens
See the Glass as Half Full, Not Half Empty
During hardships and challenges, maintaining an optimistic attitude, also known as positive psychology, has the power to benefit your health, regardless of the outcome. A 2010 study published in Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health showed a positive relationship between optimism and coping during stressful situations. The study also revealed that optimistic people have a higher quality of life. Your attitude on life may have more of an impact than you think, so avoid imagining the worst possible scenario after a stressful situation like missing the bus or forgetting to complete an assignment.
tip: “An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” – Winston Churchill
Calm your Mind
Get certified. Save lives. Cost: $5 UCLA Undergraduates, $10 Community members www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/uclacpr
15 Easy Ways to Cure a Bad Mood
Need a “quick-fix” for a bad mood? Try one of these ideas to quickly boost your mood!
one: Enjoy a cup of tea. two: Take a walk outside. three: Start a dance party. four: Look at old pictures. five: Take a warm bubble bath.
six: Call an old friend. seven: Read a good book. eight: Gaze at the stars. nine: Re-watch your
favorite movie. ten: Do a random act of kindness. eleven: Take a nap. twelve: Practice deep breathing. thirteen: Sing out loud. fourteen: Rearrange and de-clutter your room. fifteen: Laugh.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
the science of
happiness // by lillian zhang | design by karin yuen and trang tj nguyen An Amazon.com search of the word
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
left:dra_schwartz/istockphoto; right: original illustration by trang tj nguyen
“happiness” yields over 20,000 results, with book titles detailing the “Happiness Hypothesis,” the “Happiness Advantage,” the “Art of Happiness,” or even the “How of Happiness.” According to a 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.4 billion drugs were prescribed that year —118 million were antidepressants, making them the most common class of drugs prescribed in the U.S. Millions of people devote their time and energy to chasing “happiness” and even more time attempting to define and quantify it. Even the Founding Fathers of the United States believed that all men shared an equal right to the “pursuit of happiness.” So what exactly is this elusive “happiness” and why does it have such a hold on humanity?
what is happiness? In everyday terms, “happiness” is often used synonymously with “contentment,” “joy,” “pleasure,” and “satisfaction.” Often categorized as a “state of mind,” happiness remains largely undefined in colloquial terms. Famed psychologist Sigmund Freud proposed one of many early theories on happiness and how it could be achieved. He argued that the main goal of mankind is to attain happiness. Freud’s pleasure principle stated that happiness could be achieved through having all of one’s needs met, but even then, one was not at peak happiness. The best form of happiness, Freud proposed, could only be achieved when one was faced with extreme suffering – starvation, homelessness, and other despondent circumstances. The realization that this suffering is possible would cause one to appreciate his own circumstances and consider himself “happy” because he had escaped this potential suffering, lending credence to the cliché, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” For many years, this theory persisted – that happiness was merely the absence of suffering or misery. Dr. Nancy Etcoff, PhD, a psychologist from the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Mind/Brain/ Behavior Initiative, says that this Freudian way of thinking largely “reflects the anatomy of the human emotion system.” We are equipped with a positive and negative emotion system. However, the negative emotion system is much more sensitive than the positive emotion system. For example, humans are able to distinguish between “sweet” and “bitter,” reacting positively to sweet flavors, and negatively to bitter ones. However, our ability to distinguish bitter tastes is much sharper than our ability to detect sweet ones: we can detect bitterness at one part per two million, whereas we can detect sweetness at only one part per two hundred. This extreme sensitivity to negative things explains why people are generally more
disappointed by losing than they are pleased by winning, and why one negative comment can take at least five times as many positive comments to counterbalance it. However, the science of happiness is beginning to move away from this Freudian idea of “doom and gloom” happiness, in which a person’s emotions fall somewhere on a linear spectrum between “happy” and “sad.” By Freud’s logic, the less “sad” you get, the more “happy” you become, but as reason and experience may tell you, this is often not the case. When you become less sad, you simply become “less sad” – happiness does not always follow. For years, psychotherapy focused primarily on making people less sad, returning them to a “zero” from a “negative,” completely leaving out the possibility of boosting happiness above the “zero” level. Dr. Etcoff contends that happiness is increasingly being viewed as a parallel system between positive and negative emotions, where each system needs to be addressed separately for one to truly be “happy.” The field of positive psychology focuses on the “beyond zero” aspect of mental health. Created in response to the bias of classical psychotherapy to treatment of mental illness as opposed to promotion of mental wellness, positive psychology has gained much support in recent years. Dr. Martin Seligman, PhD, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, selected positive psychology as the theme for his term as president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1998, ushering in a new era of psychology. Much of the knowledge we have about the science of happiness stems from studies that were initiated under the umbrella of positive psychology, helping to scientifically ground an often-ambiguous subject.
what makes us happy?
In our perpetual quest for happiness, we often find ourselves thinking in terms of what we lack and how this impedes our ability to be happy. “If I was richer/more successful/in a relationshp – then I would be happy.” You might be surprised to learn just how wrong you are.
the claim: happiness is genetic.
conclusion: A certain amount of happiness is indeed genetic, but the rest is left for us to shape.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
In a highly publicized article published in Psychological Science in 1996, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that approximately 80% of one’s happiness is based on one’s genes. This data, based on tracking identical twins, demonstrated that these genetically identical individuals had happiness levels that were highly correlated with each other, even when the twins were raised separately in different households. This research left us with the disparaging thought that, as Dr. David Lykken, PhD, put it, “perhaps trying to be happier is as futile as trying to be taller.” However, recent research has sparked new hope. A 2009 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analyzed data from 60,000 adults and found that in contrast to the previous study, only 50% of one’s happiness was related to genes. Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside says that of the 50% of happiness that is not genetically determined, 10-15% is based on life circumstances, such as sex, income, health, and marital status, and 40% is based on one’s own actions taken to intentionally increase happiness. This means that a significant portion of our happiness can be controlled by what we choose to do.
the claim: happiness is being rich.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
conclusion: Money can buy you satisfaction – to a point. After the $75,000 threshold, more money may not do you more good, happinesswise.
the claim: happiness is having a social network. It may seem like common knowledge that family and friends make someone happier, but in a 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal, these sentiments were tested and validated by scientific methods. The study followed approximately 5,000 individuals for 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study of cardiovascular health in individuals from Framingham, Massachusetts. When happiness was analyzed, researchers found that clusters of happy and unhappy people were clearly visible amongst the surveyed individuals, and furthermore, an individual’s happiness extended up to three degrees of separation, such that the friend of one’s friend’s friend was impacted. Thus, people who were surrounded by many happy people were more likely to become happy in the future, demonstrating that an individual’s happiness is dependent on the happiness of those they are connected to, such as friends and family.
conclusion: Happiness is infectious. Are you willing to spread the “disease”? the claim: happiness is being young. Some people assume that the older we get, the less happy we will be. However, a recent survey by the CDC found that people between the ages of 20 to 24 report feeling sad for an average of 3.4 days a month, compared to just 2.3 days for people ages 65 to 74. Additionally, a 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated that people generally showed an increase in their psychological wellbeing after the age of 50. Stress and anger generally declined after the early 20s, worry was elevated through middle age and then began to decline, and sadness remained consistent for all age groups. Due to the general decrease in all of these negative factors, the researchers concluded that there was a postmidlife increase in general wellbeing and happiness.
conclusion: Happiness does not always come with youth, and in fact, may be elevated with old age.
left (in order):tomislav forgo/istockphoto; zudy-box/istockphoto; steve cole/istockphoto
“Money can’t buy you happiness.” Though we’ve all heard this old adage, it cannot be denied that sometimes it seems that a billion dollars could be the solution to all our woes. However, according to a 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we might not need a billion dollars – we just need $75,000. The study, conducted by economist Dr. Angus Deaton, PhD, and Nobel Laureate Dr. Daniel Kahneman, PhD, analyzed more than 450,000 responses to a daily survey that asked participants how they felt the previous day, if they were living the best life possible for them, and what their annual income was. Surprisingly, lower income itself did not cause people sadness, but rather made people feel more burdened by the problems they were already experiencing. For example, among divorced individuals earning less than $1000/month, 51% reported feeling sad the previous day. In contrast, only 24% of divorced individuals earning more than $3000/month reported these same feelings of sadness. However, once an individual’s annual income reached $75,000, the increase in happiness seen with increased income disappeared. Interestingly, the study found that an individual’s disposition and life circumstances had a greater influence on his happiness than money did after an individual was earning more than $75,000 per year. In general, the study concluded that 85% of Americans, regardless of their annual income, feel happy each day. As Dr. Lykken puts it, “people who go to work in their overalls and on the bus are just as happy, on the average, as those in suits who drive to work in their own Mercedes.” In fact, Dr. Edward Diener, PhD, commonly referred to as “Dr. Happiness,” concluded from a 1980s survey of Forbes 100 wealthiest Americans that even the extremely rich are only slightly happier than the average American.
chemical happiness On a biological level, happiness manifests itself in the brain through a number of different chemicals:
dopamine: the motivator
melatonin: the balancer
Serotonin, the happiness “hormone,” is actually a neurotransmitter derived from tryptophan, an amino acid found in many protein-based foods, but most famously in turkey. Serotonin deficiencies have been associated with symptoms of depression, aggression, and anxiety. A 2006 paper published in Science described depressionlike states in mice that lacked a protein important for serotonin signaling throughout the brain. For all these reasons, drugs that alter serotonin levels, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat depression and anxiety disorders.
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm, or daily cycle of sleep and wake, day and night. As a result, disruption of melatonin levels causes tiredness and lethargy, or alternatively, insomnia. Melatonin was also reported in a 2006 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to relieve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or “winter blues.” Patients with SAD often have normal mental health throughout the year except in one season, most commonly winter, during which they experience symptoms of depression.
endorphins: the relievers
oxytocin: the love bug
Endorphins, commonly associated with the phenomenon known as “runner’s high,” are released by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus during exercise, pain, excitement, love, and orgasm. Endorphins mimic opiates in their function and are known to produce analgesia, or pain relief, and a general sense of well-being. A 2008 study published in Cerebral Cortex documents runner’s high, the state of euphoria that results from long-distance running and allows runners to continue running, despite pain. Using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, researchers were able to visualize endorphin release in the brain before and after athletes went running, and found that release of endorphins corresponded with feelings of exhilaration and runner’s high.
Though the hormone oxytocin is most commonly associated with its functions in female reproduction, recent studies have brought to light oxytocin’s role in regulating feelings of love, empathy, and connection to others, giving oxytocin its reputation for being the “love hormone.” In a landmark article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, oxytocin binding in the brain of a female prairie vole during sexual activity was found to be important for pair bonding and the formation of a monogamous relationship with her sexual partner. In contrast, in polygamous voles, little or no oxytocin binding in the brain was observed. Additionally, a 2003 paper published in Nature showed that nasal administration of oxytocin resulted in increased trust among human participants, thus implicating oxytocin in promoting social behaviors and interactions. t w
from the experts: what is happiness? Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD:
“A combination of frequent positive emotions, plus the sense that your life is good.” Dr. Martin Seligman, PhD :
“The pursuit of engaging and meaningful activities.” what is happiness NOT? Dr. Edward Diener, PhD, (aka. “Dr. Happiness”):
Getting everything right in your life. “If you have no goal other than your personal happiness, you’ll never achieve it. If you want to be happy, pursue something else vigorously and happiness will catch up with you." But even the experts agree: no one can define happiness for you. You define it for yourself.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
The brain’s reward system is largely governed by the chemical dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter released in the brain, meaning that it transmits signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. Dopamine is commonly associated with feelings of enjoyment and motivation, which cause a person to continually seek out behaviors that stimulate this dopamine release. In 1954, James Olds and Peter Milner published a paper in the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology describing their now famous experiment in which they electrically stimulated the nucleus accumbens (a collection of neurons in the brain that receives input from dopaminergic neurons) of a rat’s brain. Rats pushed a lever in the testing apparatus that sent a stimulus through an electrode connected to the rat’s brain. What they saw was that rats that received the electrical stimulation repeatedly returned to the lever to continue pressing it, disregarding any desire to eat, sleep, or copulate. This discovery highlighted the brain’s reward system, which causes release of dopamine in certain regions of the brain, triggering feelings of motivation and desire. Dopamine release gives the stimulus incentive salience, transforming it into something that requires attention, induces desire, and must be obtained or sought out. In this situation, the electric stimulus produced by pressing the lever triggered dopamine release, giving the lever incentive salience, and causing the rats to “need” to continuously push the lever. Olds and Milner referred to this feedback loop as positive reinforcement – pushing the lever caused dopamine release, which created a desire in the rat to push the lever again and again.
serotonin: the happiness “hormone”
making sense of happiness // by trang t.j. nguyen | design by trang t.j. nguyen
t has long been known that utilizing the five senses can stimulate regions of the brain associated with emotions and memory. Sensory receptors located throughout the body and head connect to nerve fibers that convey feelings of sensation to the brain, indirectly or directly causing emotional responses. Read on to discover how you can enhance your mood by tapping into your five basic senses.
total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
Research shows that a strong connection exists between odors and emotion. Cortical structures processing olfactory stimuli are localized within the limbic system, a region of the brain that plays a role in learning, memory, and emotion, and can recognize over 10,000 scents. Oftentimes, the emotional response linked with the scent is related to the association of the scent with an experience. A 2008 study published in Science found that after exposure to electric shocks in conjunction with an odor, subjectsâ€™ olfactory senses adapted their storage of odor information to be linked to the shocks. In other words, positive responses to scents result from positive experiences associated with the scent, while negative responses to scents result from negative experiences, such as the shock, associated with the scent. Additionally, a 2004 study published in Psychology Reports reported that relaxing odors have the ability to decrease heart rate, which can aid in the reduction of anxiety and stress levels.
TIP: Aromatherapy makes use of this therapeutic effect of scents on mood. Scents commonly associated with certain moods include: Romantic: jasmine, rose, sandalwood, gardenia Energetic: citrus scents: lemon, lime, grapefruit, verbena, orange Calming/Relaxing: lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, chamomile Refreshing/Uplifting: eucalyptus, mint, pine, citrus scent
The first of the five senses to be developed in the human embryo is the sense of touch, and is the only sensation that can be experienced throughout all areas of the skin rather than in just one localized area. Touch receptors connect to nerve fibers below the skin, and are able to send messages of tactile sensations, such as pain, heat, cold, texture, and pressure to the brain, where they create emotional and hormonal reactions. The health benefits of nurturing touch include the reduction of stress and fatigue, the easing of pain, immune system improvement, and the lowering of blood pressure. Additionally, nurturing touch aids in the release of serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, oxytocin, a hormone that encourages social bonding, and endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote the feeling of well-being while reducing pain. In fact, a 2010 study published in Developmental Psychobiology suggests that maternal-infant contact plays a critical role in reducing stress responsiveness and improving health outcomes in newborn babies. tip: Show your appreciation for a friend or loved one with a pat on the back or a massage to enjoy the positive effects of touch.
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TIP: According to Developing your Child’s Creativity by Victoria Wilson, different colors are associated with the following emotional responses: Blues: calming, restful Yellows: happiness, creativity Oranges: excitement Reds: passion, excitement Greens: peacefulness, nature, imagination Purples: deeper shades associated with depression Black: anger, fear Browns/neutrals: sadness Pink: pale tones are calming, brighter
TIP: While sound preference varies, the following sounds are commonly associated with positive emotions: Relaxation: sounds of nature (birds chirping, falling rain, etc.), music with a slow rhythm Energizing: Fast-tempo music
Visual perception is the interpretation of light stimuli received by the eye, assembled into a representation of the position, shape, and color of objects in space. It has long been known that different colors and shades of colors influence both our mood and behavior. In fact, a 2004 study published by the College Student Journal at the University of Georgia found that the relationship between color and mood are very closely linked. Students were presented with different groups of colors and subsequent responses were based on the familiarity with the color in reality – for example, the color green induced positive responses such as relaxation because, according to a majority of subjects, it was associated with sights of nature. Furthermore, a 2004 study published in the Journal of Genetic of Psychology reported that bright colors elicited positive emotional associations while dark colors achieved the opposite. For this reason, many believe that painting a room a soft yellow or green can energize a home. Since not all of us have the luxury of designing our dorm rooms, instead of reaching for that black t-shirt, choose the bright yellow one next time!
Taste receptors, contained within taste buds, are connected to nerve fibers that allow the brain to perceive five different tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). While foods that make us happy vary strongly by personal preference and association, a 2005 study published by Physiology and Behavior suggests that tastes and foods we associate with happy emotions vary with gender. The study found that males favor savory comfort foods like steak, while females prefer sweet comfort foods like ice cream and chocolate. Furthermore, certain types of foods aid in the stimulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine and the production of the mood-affecting chemical serotonin. Food items containing high concentrations of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin used in the production of serotonin, and tryptophan, an amino acid that eventually converts to serotonin, are considered "happy foods." TIP: Examples of ‘happy foods’: Milk, chicken, bananas, leafy green vegetables t w
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
five senses: adrian niederhäuser/istockphoto; red poppy: okcaha baxnakoba/istockphoto
Whether associated with positive or negative experiences, sound and music have been known to stimulate regions of the brain associated with emotion and memory. Much like with other senses, personal preference and association can dictate whether responses will be positive or negative. Additionally, according to a 2010 study published by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, sounds or music with a slow and steady rhythm have the ability to lower heart rate, reduce stress, and increase production of oxytocin. Furthermore, a 2011 study in Nature Neuroscience found that music can arouse feelings of intense pleasure, measured by a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
healthy humor // by eric yu | design by amorette jeng
There may be truth to the old proverb “laughter is the best medicine” after all. Recent discoveries in the past decade have elucidated ways in which laughter may affect human physiology, suggesting that positive emotions accompanied by the act of laughing may literally come with a host of health benefits. This idea has always been somewhat grounded in common perception as opposed to rigorous scientific support. It makes sense – after all, aside from a bit of abdominal pain, who can say that a good laugh has ever made them feel worse? Now, scientific research is backing up these claims. Read on to see what a good laugh can do for your physical and mental health.
the best stress relief
While past findings have suggested a link between cheerfulness and cardiovascular health by virtue of emotional state changes such as decreased anxiety, scientific examination of what exactly happens to our heart during a session of mirth have been sparse.
We’re all familiar with stress, whether it be concocting the perfect Valentine’s Day plan or getting ready for a week of final exams. While stress induces increased alertness, energy, and acuity, it also comes with a range of negative effects on physical and emotional markers, such as muscle tension and irritability. Long-term or chronic stress compounds these temporary symptoms, leading to long-lasting effects such as impaired immunity and depression. All these physiological changes are mediated by biomolecules called hormones that are released during the perception of environmental threats.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
A recent 2010 study published in The American Journal of Cardiology explored just this by closely monitoring the heart rate, blood pressure, and arteries of two different subject groups comprised of healthy young adults with normal cardiovascular function. Each individual was either presented with a documentary film or a comedy. They found that in the comedy group, laughter was accompanied by temporarily increased blood flow that decreased arterial stiffness and lasted for 24 hours. Mood state surveys taken before and after both film presentations indicated no apparent emotional changes, suggesting the physical mechanism of laughter as the culprit of these physiological effects. While the study’s use of young healthy adults restricts experimental implications for older individuals or those with cardiovascular disease, it does provide compelling evidence that the simple act of laughter may go a long way for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Studies as early as 1965 have shown that different emotional states elicit different kinds of hormone release, but it was only until the last decade that the hormonal effects of laughter were studied in detail. A 2008 study published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that the mere anticipation of laughter has the power to reduce stress hormones. In this study, the experimental group was told to anticipate a laughter event, and blood was drawn before and after this disclosure in both sample populations. In blood samples of the experimental group, researchers found an average 39% decrease in cortisol and
to better your sense of humor 1. let go of the negativity
Looking for the comedic value in stressful situations expands perspective, improves our sense of humor, and might even calm you down.
If laughter doesn’t come easily to you, take it slow and start off with a smile. In fact, studies have shown that smiling comes with some health benefits associated with laughing by ‘’tricking” your body.
3. read the funnies for breakfast
The comics section of the newspaper is an easy find, and the internet is a comic strip gold mine too.
increased blood flow
70% decrease in epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) – all hormones critical in the induction of stress responses. These results may indicate that just the mere expectation of laughing is involved in stress level reductions.
So remember, if your roommate catches a cold, it just might pay off to flip on some Dave Chapelle and laugh out loud.
Current theories about the evolution of laughter from primate experiments suggest that laughter evolved as a natural expression of surprise that something initially perceived as threatening is actually not. Evidence of stress-related hormonal changes surrounding our humor response may support such notions of laughter as an innately anti-stressful behavior.
While it’s pretty intuitive that we laugh as an expression of happiness, research studies in the past decade have sought to answer the question of whether we laugh because we are happy, or whether we are happy because we laugh. Supporting the latter explanation, recent investigations into emotional effects of laughter suggest potential therapeutic properties of having a good laugh against psychological ailments such as depression. For example, a 2011 paper published in Geriatrics & Gerontology International examined the mental health of community-dwelling elderly individuals undergoing weekly laughter therapy over a period of one month. The results indicate that while laughing did not necessarily make the subjects happier, there were noticeable declines in depressive symptoms, insomnia, and poor sleep quality in the group that received laughter therapy. While these improvements could be due to other factors (for example, subjects also underwent increased physical activity during the therapy sessions) and are mainly based on self-reports in the form of surveys, such studies support laughter therapy as a viable low-cost way of maintaining positive states of mental health. Although laughter does not directly cure diseases, laughter therapy seems to notably improve recovery rates in patients as well. Additionally, it is very efficient in terms of its cost-to-effect ratio. For these reasons, laughter therapy has recently experienced rapid growth across health care facilities of America.
boosted immune system It is well-known that a biological system undergoing stress suppresses the immune system through a variety of processes. By drawing a connection between laughter’s stressmoderating and stress’ immune-suppressing effects, scientists have theorized a possible link between humor and our ability to fight off diseases. While earlier studies have alluded to such beneficial effects of humor, it is only recently that researchers directly examined immune response changes caused by laughter in detail. In a 2001 study published by Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, healthy subjects were exposed to humorous videos. Blood samples were drawn before, during and after viewing the videos and comprehensively analyzed for various markers of immune system activity. Results indicated significant increases in a wide range of immune-related activities including natural killer cell activity, immunoglobulins, active T- and B-cells, and leukocytes. Remarkably, these changes persisted 12 hours after subjects had seen the humorous videos. While implications that can be drawn from this are limited by the subjects’ variable activities within the 12-hour window, the uniformity of the results across a fairly large sample population (52 in total) provides striking evidence for humor-associated immune benefits.
the take-home message: We have only just begun to discover the importance of laughter to our physical and mental health and its specific role in our biological system. The findings presented support the relevance of laughter for our immediate health and reflect the progress that has been made in elucidating the mechanisms by which laughter affects our overall health. While there is still much exploring to do into the effects of laughter, a host of evidence does indicate discrete beneficial effects of laughing for both the mind and body. Thus far, there has been no evidence that laughter has any detrimental physical or mental effects. Couple this with the general idea that laughter is just plain fun, and you have some compelling reasons for indulging your funny bone. Next time you’re feeling sick, tired, or blue, remember that a good laugh may be an effective addition to your usual routine. t w
4. share your humor
Laughing is much easier when you've got company, and one of the funniest ways to have a good laugh is by sharing a joke.
5. learn to laugh at yourself
One of the biggest obstacles to a healthy sense of humor is an overly serious sense of self. Start by making yourself the butt end of your own jokes and you'll naturally get better at identifying humor in any situation.
6. do something silly
Break the routine that's been stifling your humor with something straight up silly that suits your style.
7. divulge an embarrassing moment Practice turning what might be a socially terrifying moment for you into a funny story. You might have to exaggerate a bit, but that's alright – your listener won't know.
8. comedy over tragedy
Try watching more comedies and cutting back on heavy dramas. Not only will you get to explore different types of humor, but you'll also get to feed your funny side.
9. buy a funny poster
Promote your growing sense of humor by creating a surrounding environment that will make you laugh. Continuous exposure to humorous perspectives keeps your sense of humor on its toes and ready to go.
10. list 'em out
Make a list of all the funny things you saw, heard, or thought today. Keeping track of the things that make us laugh reminds us that life is full of funny situations from one moment to the next.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
However, a study published in the same journal in 2003 suggests that it takes more than just watching a comedy to see enhanced immune responses. While the authors used a similar procedure outlined in the aforementioned 2001 experiment, they decided to take a closer look at what subjects were doing while they were watching the videos. Interestingly, they found that only subjects who laughed out loud during the funny film had enhanced immune systems, while those who did not laugh did not exhibit any significant changes in immune functioning. While there is still much scientific exploration to undertake in this topic, subsequent studies have shown similar results, giving this theory more grounded scientific credence.
fixing fatigue Feeling tired all the time? A look into top reasons why you might experience unnecessary fatigue, with tips on ways to re-energize.
// by shannon wongvibulsin | design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang 01 | the problem: too much caffeine
While drinking caffeine is commonly used to counteract fatigue, consuming too much caffeine can actually cause you to become more tired. By depending on this stimulant, you can fall into a cycle of sleep deprivation that becomes progressively worse as caffeine interferes with your ability to fall asleep at night. Without seven to eight hours of sleep a night, you are likely to feel tired when you wake up in the morning and automatically brew yourself a cup of coffee, heightening the problem of caffeine overdose. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about six hours is required for just half of the caffeine consumed to be eliminated. In fact, a 2002 study in Sleep Medicine, the official journal of the World Association of Sleep Medicine and the International Pediatric Sleep Association, found that drinking caffeinated coffee (130 mg of caffeine per cup) in the afternoon and evening hours caused a decrease in both the total amount and the quality of sleep, and increased the amount of time required to fall asleep.
try: breaking the cycle
❯❯ Avoid drinking or consuming
caffeinated products at least eight hours before going to bed: Since it takes many hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, it is important to avoid caffeine at least eight hours before bed if you want to fall asleep easily and get a good night’s rest.
❯❯ Cut back on the amount of caffeine you
consume each day: By gradually drinking less caffeine, you will allow your body to acclimate to lower levels of the stimulant and avoid shocking your body with caffeine withdrawal effects such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability. The Mayo Clinic suggests cutting back by drinking a smaller cup of coffee or drinking less caffeinated soda each day. Try slowly reducing the amount of coffee you drink by setting up a game plan to decrease your daily coffee consumption. For instance, you can plan to drink only 3/4 of a cup of coffee per day for 2 days, then 1/2 a cup per day for 2 days, etc.
Without seven to eight hours of sleep a night, you are likely to feel tired when you wake up in the morning and automatically brew yourself a cup of coffee.
vikavalter/istockphoto; right: sascha burkard/istockphoto
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
The best way to overcome caffeine dependence is to get more sleep. Though this is a luxury that some people can’t always afford, there are some simple ways to reduce the consumption of caffeine and increase your chances of getting a restful night of sleep.
02 | the problem: unhealthy eating habits
Not supplying the body with enough calories or eating foods that are poor in nutrition are common mistakes that result in fatigue. Dieters who over-restrict caloric intake can prevent their bodies from meeting the minimum energy requirements to get through the day. On the other hand, eating too much of certain foods can be just as much of a problem. According to Dr. Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP-C, PhD, Associate Professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, overconsumption of high glycemic index foods results in a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and causes the body to release extra insulin into the bloodstream. Dr. FitzGerald warns that “many people find that they become mentally and physically sluggish when their blood sugar level rises and drops back down following consumption of high glycemic index foods since the majority of brain function is significantly influenced by the level of glucose in the blood.” In addition to meeting the body’s energy needs, it is also important to ensure that the foods you consume supply the nutrients required for proper functioning of the body. In the United States, the most common nutritional deficiencies are iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Lack of these nutrients can result in anemia, which commonly manifests as feelings of fatigue, weakness, and headaches. Vegetarians are especially at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, since this nutrient is not naturally found in foods of plant origin.
Try: Better eating habits
❯❯ Begin the day with a wholesome meal
❯❯ Increase your intake of fiber and omega-3
fatty acids: Eating more fiber can help carbohydrates enter the bloodstream at a slow and steady pace, resulting in sustained energy levels. Fiber-rich foods, such as raisin bran, beans, and apples, make great snacks and are easy to incorporate into your daily meals. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids fuels the brain and aids in maintaining mental alertness. Common sources of these oils are fish and walnuts.
❯❯ Eat foods high in iron and vitamin B12:
Many vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to properly function and since the majority cannot be produced by the body, it is important that your diet supplies these nutrients. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can be prevented by consuming foods from animal sources such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and cheese. Vegetarians should consider taking vitamin B12 supplements or eating fortified foods such as cereals or soy milk to meet their nutritional needs. Iron is naturally found in both plant and animal sources. However, depending on what you eat with your meal, you could enhance or impair iron absorption. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron from plant foods, so drinking orange juice along with your meal can facilitate iron absorption. Dr. FitzGerald suggests that iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach or swallowed down with a glass of vitamin C-rich juice, such as orange juice, to ensure maximum absorption. Additionally, since studies on the effect of calcium on iron absorption show that calcium inhibits iron absorption, Dr. FitzGerald suggests that “those with high iron requirements (e.g. adolescents and menstruating and pregnant woman) should try to restrict calcium intake with main meals, which contain most of the dietary iron, and that calcium supplements, when needed, should preferably be taken when going to bed.”
Many people find that they become mentally and physically sluggish when their blood sugar level rises and drops back down following consumption of high glycemic index foods since the majority of brain function is significantly influenced by the level of glucose in the blood. – Dr. Leah FitzGerald, Associate Professor of the UCLA School of Nursing
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
and eat frequent, smaller-sized meals or snacks: Starting the day off with a well-balanced breakfast is a healthy way to fuel up and avoid hunger pangs and overeating throughout the day. However, avoid highsugar breakfast foods, such as pastries, donuts, and lattes. Instead, incorporate foods low in fat and sugar into your breakfast such as whole grain breads, cereals, oats, vegetables, legumes, and low glycemic index fruits such as apples and grapefruits. A 2003 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who skipped breakfast had a lower daily energy intake and ate larger, less frequent meals compared with individuals who began their day with a wholesome meal. Eating smaller meals more
frequently is an effective way to provide the body with a sustained source of fuel. On the other hand, loading up in a single meal can result in drowsiness from the energy drain of powering the digestion of large amounts of food. Additionally, rising blood sugar levels from the meal results in mental and physical sluggishness in some people.
03 | the problem: boredom
h in the classroom: Try to get engaged in the lecture and pay attention to the professor. Make connections from your reading or prior knowledge to what the professor is discussing. Thinking critically will stimulate the mind and make things more relevant and interesting. Additionally, avoid relying on class handouts and instead become an “active” learner since taking notes will not only help you absorb the material, but it can also prevent you from dozing off. h at the workplace:
When possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator, print at a printer that is not the closest to you, and eat at a different location than your desk. Take a short walk down the hall, organize your desk, or have a short chat with your coworker. Keep the break short but mentally refreshing to assure that you are reinvigorated when you tackle your work again.
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
h when you’re trying to study: Plan ahead by having healthy snacks and a reward system prepared. For instance, you could refresh yourself with five minutes on Facebook after studying one chapter of organic chemistry. Making a goal and receiving an immediate payoff can help keep you focused. However, if you find it difficult to concentrate when studying alone, try making it more exciting by working in a group or studying with a partner.
Everyone gets bored once in a while, but if you often find yourself following monotonous, repetitious, and routine activities, you may be suffering from fatigue because there’s not enough excitement to stimulate your brain. As described in a 2000 review article of the psychophysiology of fatigue published in Biological Psychology, boredom is defined as a special type of fatigue that results from low levels of stimuli to activate areas of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions. Since the late 1930s, studies have found that boredom is related to a sleep-like feeling that results from low arousal and lack of interest. Boredom can develop into a major problem when it consistently triggers feelings of fatigue and results in reduced productivity and decreased levels of performance.
Try: Mixing it up
Get your brain engaged in whatever you are doing and prevent your mind from drifting off and becoming disinterested. If you find yourself tired of your daily routine, try something new once in a while. Spice up your day by taking a new route to class or work, eating something different, or trying out a new activity. Anything novel to your mind can help you fight the fatigue that accompanies boredom.
05 | the problem: dehydration
Water is the main component of the human body and many dietitians agree that it is the most essential nutrient. When the body loses more fluids than the amount restored, normal body functions can no longer continue since water is essential for all biochemical processes that occur in the body. The National Academies Press: Dietary Reference Intakes explains that water is responsible for nutrient transport, regulating muscle contractions, maintaining blood volume, removing waste products, and many other operations within the human body. As a result, dehydration manifests in many physical symptoms including fatigue.
Try: Regular rehydration
Drink water regularly rather than waiting until you are thirsty. If you are thirsty, you are most likely dehydrated. Carry a water bottle to assure that you can constantly hydrate yourself. Since drinking caffeinated beverages including coffee, tea and soda can result in dehydration, try to drink water along with these beverages. Dr. FitzGerald warns that it is not wise to drink beverages containing caffeine when trying to hydrate since caffeine acts as a diuretic causing the body to excrete fluid rather than retain it. If you do drink a caffeinated beverage, a good “general rule” is to supplement it with double the amount of water. Although eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is a common recommendation, drinking water is not the only way to keep your body hydrated. Consuming succulent fruits and vegetables also restores fluids to your body.
04 | the problem: multitasking
Doing too many things at once drains glucose and increases the rate of exhaustion. Glucose is the brain’s source of fuel and without adequate glucose levels, the brain can no longer function properly. Multi-tasking requires the mind to go back and forth between multiple tasks. The high energetic costs of multi-tasking cause fatigue to quickly develop, leading to errors and exhaustion.
Try: Streamlining your work
Rather than trying to complete multiple projects at once, try to prioritize and tackle one or two tasks at a time. Periodically take short breaks to allow your mind to relax and reduce the rate at which glucose levels decrease.
curvabezier/istockphoto; right: zack blanton/istockphoto
if you feel tired, boredom may be part of the problem. try these next time you need to perk up:
06 | the problem: allergies
When the immune system stimulates a response to a harmless foreign substance and considers it a threat to the body, the resulting inflammatory reaction to the allergen can be draining on the body. Common symptoms of allergies are congestion, runny nose, itchy skin, and swollen eyes. As the immune system battles this harmless invader, the body fatigues and exhaustion increases, especially when allergies interfere with the ability to get quality sleep. According to Dr. Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy & Immunology at the UCLA School of Medicine, “no matter what the source may be, inflammation can cause early unwanted fatigue. This could be from lack of sleep, uncontrolled allergies, or stress from any reason. Therefore, reducing those sources of inflammation can calm the mind or body down and cause not just lack of illness, but actual wellness.”
Try: Alleviating your symptoms
Not getting enough exercise can actually make you feel tired. When you are sedentary, your metabolic rate decreases and you become more exhausted. In contrast, when your body is physically active, your metabolic rate increases and you become more energized. Additionally, exercise stimulates the production of endorphins. According to Dr. Robert Gotlin, Director of Sports Rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “endorphins are our body’s natural hormones that get released when we are doing something that requires a burst of energy – they are the things that make us perform, make us move and exercise tends to increase those levels.” Regular exercise can also improve sleep and further enhance energy levels.
Try: Getting active
Make an effort to incorporate more physical activity into your routine. You don’t have to make a big commitment to the gym to gain the benefits associated with exercise. Start out small. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. If possible, walk or bike to get around rather than drive your car. When parking, avoid looking for the closest spot and instead, park further away from the office or store.
08 | the problem: poor posture
Having good posture is not only a bonus for appearance, but it is also a benefit for health. When you don’t stand or sit up straight, it is harder for the heart to pump blood, and blood flow is reduced. Because poor posture strains your muscles and bones, this unhealthy habit can result in decreased energy levels and feelings of pain and weakness, which can result in poor concentration and interfere with daily routines. According to The University of Texas Health Science Center, “poor posture can affect the position and function of major organs.” In some cases, improper positioning of the body’s main organs through bad posture will not only increase fatigue but also heighten the chances of organ malfunction.
Try: Strengthening your core Be conscientious about your posture. If you find it difficult to monitor your own posture, form a pact with a friend and work together to keep each other straight. Additionally, swapping out your desk chair for a yoga ball can help improve your posture and strengthen your core. Increasing your core and upper back strength can also benefit your posture, since poor posture and muscle imbalances are interrelated. t w
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
If you suffer from allergies, there are many ways you can reduce the symptoms or attempt to prevent allergic reactions. To alleviate sinus congestion, the Mayo Clinic recommends rinsing out the sinuses with a saline solution. One of the most popular methods of nasal irrigation is the use of a Neti pot, which the Mayo Clinic describes as “a ceramic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp.” The Neti pot helps thin the mucus and flush it out from nasal passages. Increasing the speed and coordination of the cilia, or hair-like structures in the sinus cavities, is the basic mechanism behind the functioning of the Neti pot and other nasal irrigation techniques with saline solution. With greater coordinated motion, the cilia can more effectively remove the mucus and irritants from the system. Neti pots can be purchased from most drug and health food stores and online. For those who are allergic to certain airborne particles, make an effort to keep living areas clean and reduce exposure to dust mites or pet dander. For severe cases, consider installing an air filter in your home.
07 | the problem: lack of exercise
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
In a consumer-orientated society driven by supply and demand, it
is no wonder that waste becomes a byproduct of old habits, new tastes, forgetfulness, and if nothing else – buying too much. A 2009 article published by the Public Library of Science reported that 150 trillion calories a year – about 40% of the US food supply – is wasted in this country. This is a 28% increase from 1974 and equates to roughly 12,000 million pounds, or a third of purchased foods altogether. Those are alarming statistics similarly echoed in many other countries around the world.
There are many reasons to avoid wasting food; with food prices rising, it’s increasingly important to be efficient and resourceful. Not only are food’s effects on the body important, but its effects on the health of the planet are also noteworthy. Even organic and biodegradable food items that end up in landfills take time to degrade. For food to compost properly it needs light and air; in landfills, it has neither. Instead, food devoid of light and air produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas with 23 times the effect of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Global methane emissions from garbage alone are estimated to be as high as 70 million metric tons a year. Whether you are opposed to waste for ethical reasons or you’re just anxious about saving money, reducing waste makes sense. The following are some easy tips to facilitate this effort.
// by cindy la| design by karin yuen and elizabeth wang 44
original illustration by trang tj nguyen
giving life to leftovers
ten ways to reduce food waste: 1. Friend the freezer.
Obviously, freezing food increases its “lifespan.” Especially if you are crunched for time, cook a week’s worth of food in one day and freeze the remaining leftovers. Not only will you spend less time cooking, but you’ll also save money. If you think you won’t be using a particular item for a while, stick it in the freezer and you can enjoy it up to several months later.
2. Organize your fridge.
Temperature differences can make food spoil faster. According to the USDA, bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140°F. Arrange foods by keeping items that tend to have a greater chance of spoilage – such as dairy products – towards the back of the refrigerator, and make sure that the refrigerator is set around 37 to 40°F for the best results.
3. De-clutter and keep foods separated.
Cleaning out the refrigerator ensures that foods and leftovers don’t languish on crowded shelves and go bad. If you notice a fruit or vegetable that’s ripening faster than its surroundings, separate it from the group. The fumes coming off certain foods, for example, may hasten the ripening of other foods. Bananas are notorious for speeding up the ripening process of other fruits.
4. Get creative!
Think of ways to reuse leftovers in a creative way. By mixing and matching different types of foods, you have the potential to get in touch with your culinary creativity and recycle leftovers into new meals. Here is a website that offers direct recipes from the food you have right at home: http://www.supercook.com
5. Rethink "re-use".
6. Revive old food.
You can revive stale cereal with the use of your oven. Spread the cereal on a single layer baking sheet and put it into an oven for 3-5 minutes. Take it out and let it cool. Once it is cool, the cereal will be crisp for more than a few days.
Glancing at a neighbor’s plate of scrumptious food may prompt an interest or curiosity to try it. But before you decide to grab a plate of your own, ask if you can have a small sample first. For students living in the dining halls, if you know you cannot finish something, don’t be afraid to ask for smaller portion sizes. For those who are dining out, ask for a takeout box when you order your meal and when it comes, put half of it in the box before you start to eat. By doing this, you end up eating what you can finish, and the leftovers remain in perfect condition.
8. Make a list of leftovers.
Put a magnetic pad on your refrigerator. When you put a leftover in, note the item and date so that you can keep track of all the food inside the refrigerator. Refer back to the list when browsing for a snack so that leftovers are not forgotten.
9. Be open-minded.
Expiration dates are meant to act as a guideline. Use your judgment and your senses to decide if something deserves a tossing or if it can last a little while longer. While you should stray on the side of caution, keep in mind that certain manufacturers use product labeling dates as a marketing strategy to increase sales. Sports drinks such as Gatorade last longer than expiration dates suggest, but items such as milk need to be evaluated more carefully. It is also important to consider the difference between packaging terms. Labels of "best if used by" give a rough indication of the last date the product will retain its maximum freshness and flavor. Depending on the product, these dates can be flexible, and passing the date might lead to decreased quality or staleness but not sickness. The labels of sell-by or pull-by dates are meant to give grocers an indication of when to remove their product from the shelves, but that's not necessarily the last date that is acceptable for consumption.
10. Plan ahead.
Plan your grocery shopping and meals carefully to avoid waste. Eat before you go grocery shopping. Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach makes it more difficult to resist the temptation of satisfying your current cravings. You might find that once you get home, you have bought more food than you need. t w
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Find different uses for foods. You might be surprised by the different ways you can make use of food that is no longer edible. Shriveled-up citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges can be used as cleansers, old lemons can freshen dishwashers or garbage disposals, and dried out onions can help to clean your oilstained grills.
7. Share or ask for smaller portion sizes.
While students may complain about monotonous dining hall dishes, the dorm food is an absolute delicacy when compared to much of the grub served in school lunches across the country. With the White House and the media alike emphasizing the need for healthier food to curb the obesity epidemic, school lunch programs have become a major target. Cue Jamie Oliverâ€™s entrance.
// by leigh goodrich| design by elizabeth wang
total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
meet the chef
As a British celebrity chef, Oliver got his start on the BBC
hosting extremely popular and award-winning series like “The Naked Chef,” “Jamie’s Kitchen,” “Jamie’s School Dinners,” and “Jamie at Home.” Each TV show accompanied a cookbook, reinforcing the host’s efforts to make cooking hands-on, accessible, and enjoyable. Besides becoming an incredibly successful television star, Oliver also became a leader for a number of culinary-related movements. Most prominently, he launched a national campaign in England called “Feed Me Better” to reform the school meal program. His petition and efforts worked – in 2005 the government gave extra funding to retrain cafeteria employees, improve the meals, and purchase equipment. With these experiences, Oliver came to America, the obesity capital of the world, and settled in Huntington, West Virginia to film the first season of “Food Revolution.” In reality TV style, Oliver exposed the health crisis of many schools – cafeterias serving choices of pizza or chicken fingers five days a week, filling mandated vegetable quotas by giving French fries, and feeding children chocolate or strawberry flavored milk that contains more sugar than soda.
"We’ll be giving nutritional advice, shopping advice, cooking here. We’ve got a mobile truck that will be going around the whole of LA, wherever we want to, and it basically opens up as a massive gig venue." Over the course of the show, Oliver taught families and schools about nutrition and healthy eating, and trained school chefs in cooking nutritious food. As evidenced by the high ratings, the first season of “Food Revolution” succeeded in engaging the American public. What followed was a step in the right direction, including the recent passing of the child nutrition law, but the fight is by no means over.
While it is certainly a challenge, Oliver hasn’t given up hope. In fact, a possible sign of progress was the district’s director of food services asking Oliver to plan three weeks of menus that meet regulations and cost, at most, 77 cents per serving (the current standard). Whether or not Oliver succeeds in impacting LA lunch programs, the need is clearly there. A 2010 study published in the American Heart Journal found that middle schoolers who ate school lunches were 29% more likely to be obese than their peers. And since childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, the time to act is now. t w
What he’s doing here:
“The food revolution is this – we’re going to be based here in town. We’re going to open five of these kitchens around the area, in conjunction with the Heart Association, giving free cooking lessons to people who can’t afford it – five dollars for anyone that wants to make a donation. We’ll be giving nutritional advice, shopping advice, cooking here. We’ve got a mobile truck that will be going around the whole of LA, wherever we want to, and it basically opens up as a massive gig venue. We can do demonstrations in front of thousands of people. We can take it into a school, into a classroom.”
The support he’s raised:
“This is not a TV show, it’s a campaign. Two months ago we got a donation from Chipotle – a million dollars. Why did they give us this money? He said to me, the owner, ‘because I believe that your voice can go further than mine. I love what you’re doing. It’s what I believe in. God bless you.’ No one does that. Have you ever heard of that? We’re working with the Heart Association. We’re working with Bing. Any intimate story that I tell, from a family in East LA, a moment that touched your heart, information that helps you save money or feed your children or yourself better, through Bing we can bang that across communities, we can get that across the whole of America.”
What his mission is:
“At the moment, I can’t step foot in one single school in LA, which is not good … They’re doing loads of things great. It’s about looking at the things they’re struggling with and not doing great. That’s what we want to do. But also, I want to get into the schools because it’s really important I empower parents to know what’s going on – where the food comes from, how it’s processed, what goes in it, what they do like and what they don’t like.”
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
For his second season of “Food Revolution,” Oliver planned to head into Los Angeles schools and give them the same makeover he gave to West Virginia cafeterias. The problem is, he can’t get in. The Los Angeles Unified School District has denied Oliver rights to film in any of its schools, effectively blocking his influence in the classroom. While trying to get a foot in the door, Oliver set up shop near UCLA, creating Jamie’s Kitchen right on Westwood Blvd. This location has since moved to West Adams, close to a school he is trying to work with. The goal is to create a space where the general public, including low-income families, can go to get cooking lessons and advice about healthy eating. Oliver plans to re-open the Westwood location in the future. The second season of Food Revolution premiered to disappointing ratings, with new episodes being delayed until May 27.
While his kitchen in Westwood was briefly open, Oliver hosted an event in the venue, speaking to students, parents, press, and activists. Total Wellness got the inside scoop on his goals, his progress, and more.
mastering the power nap
Most college students are all too familiar with afternoon energy
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total wellness â–Ş spring 2011
slumps. Whether a result of insomnia, midterms season, or a late night out, sleep disturbances can negatively affect concentration and school performance. However, a quick 20-minute nap can be just the right fix to regain alertness and fight off drowsiness. Of course, a nap canâ€™t make up for the four or more hours of sleep you skipped last night, but it may give you the energy to make it through the day. Here are some strategic tips to make your naps as successful as possible.
1. Keep the power-nap for 20 minutes. A 20-minute nap will keep you from entering deep stages of sleep while simultaneously increasing your alertness and productivity. This amount of time is easy to fit into your schedule and can increase cognitive function for one to three hours, according to an article published in Progressive Brain Research in 2010. And remember, after only 20 minutes, the risk of sleeping through your alarm is low.
2. Monitor the length of your nap. To avoid feeling groggy upon waking, sleep either for 20 minutes or for approximately 90 to 110 minutes. This will allow your body to progress through an entire cycle of sleep and wake up outside of the rapid eye movement (REM) phase in sleep. Due to difference in brain waves that differentiate sleep stages, and the fact that your REM phase brain waves are the deepest and most restful stage of sleep, it is easiest to wake up right after a REM stage. Longer naps are preferred by more sleep-deprived individuals and correlate with improved cognition for a longer period of time. However, keep in mind that taking long naps frequently may be associated with certain health conditions and long-term adverse health effects. See your doctor if your fatigue is consistent.
3. Avoid pressing snooze! If after waking from your nap you feel more tired, don’t fret. Sleep inertia, or the grogginess that accompanies waking from a nap is natural. Simply remind yourself that certain areas of your brain reactivate faster than others. This is a direct result of the presence of higher concentrations of adenosine. Adenosine, which increases during sleep deprivation, is related to brain cells’ metabolism and doesn’t dissipate immediately. Washing your face or stretching can help you overcome the post-nap daze. Taking naps during the afternoon will also minimize these consequences.
4. Nap in the afternoon. You are more likely to sleep well between 1 and 3 pm. Even when midterms and finals alter your sleep cycle, the body experiences a natural dip in energy between these hours. Naps taken in the early afternoon don’t affect our circadian rhythms as much, and allow maintenance of nighttime sleep patterns. It will also help you avoid falling asleep during late classes.
5. Don't feel guilty. People all around the world take naps, or siestas. Large corporations such as Google and Nike have already invested in napping rooms or quiet meditation locations. And as you may already know, the Mediterranean region is particularly well-known for this habit, as are China and Japan. Besides increasing your energy, taking naps may very well reduce your risk of drowsy automobile accidents or below-average performance on tests. Lack of sleep is also associated with decreased heart rate variability and elevated blood pressure – symptoms that often indicate unhealthy behavior. t w
u Use white noise to block out sounds.
Many people find that calming sounds such as rain, or even consistent humming noises, help them fall asleep. Interestingly enough, a Japanese study conducted in 2005 and available in the Research Reports of the Ashikaga Institute of Technology, found that subjects who slept in white noise conditions had larger increases in the amount of time they spent in REM sleep, which is known to be the rejuvenating phase.
u Try meditating.
A 2010 study in the Behavioral and Brain Functions Journal showed that meditation appears to provide shortterm improvements in reaction time and performance. It is thought that yogis who spend a large amount of time in meditation are able to function on less sleep by spending ample time meditating. However, more research on this topic is necessary.
u Enjoy some comfort food.
Unfortunately, a lot of information relating food to sleep onset is inconclusive and requires more analysis. However, the process of falling asleep is largely psychological. For this reason, a glass of warm milk and honey may be quite effective to induce sleep onset. As may a bite of your mom’s homemade banana bread. But don’t overdo it!
u Exercise instead.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, exercising can reduce fatigue by increasing levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. The impact of exercise often lasts three hours or more. So even if you don’t decide to hit the gym to fight fatigue, make sure you don’t exercise just before bedtime.
The UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services offers a quarterly 3-session group called "Say Goodnight to Insomnia". Visit counseling.ucla.edu for more information!
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
TIP: If you notice that you are uncharacteristically tired for several days despite a good amount of rest, consider seeing your physician. If you just need to catch up on sleep, however, the next time you feel your eyes are getting weary reach for the pillow, not the coffee.
If you are still having trouble falling asleep...
food pick ❯❯ Grapefruit Juice and Medications
from the cookbook
// by anna wong | design by karin yuen
Grapefruit Chicken Satay Salad
2 large pink or ruby-red grapefruits 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste 8 cups roughly chopped romaine lettuce, (about 2 hearts) 1 cup sliced radishes, (about 8 radishes)
Grapefruit is a popular healthy breakfast choice, and rightfully so. Just half a grapefruit can provide you with plenty of vitamin A and C for the day and all for the low cost of 52 calories. And an interesting fact: grapefruit actually got its name because of how it grows in clusters like grapes. Sounds like this fruit has some intriguing stories to share. So what else does grapefruit have up its sleeve (or peel)? Here are some essential health benefits you won’t want to miss out on: t
Half a grapefruit contains 28% of your daily value of vitamin A, important for making rod cells in your eye, which help you adapt to low-lighting; 64% of your daily value of vitamin C, essential for the immune system and healthy connective tissue; and 8% of your DV of dietary fiber, which helps with the movement of food through the digestive system.
Remove grapefruit peels and cut grapefruit into segments; put these aside for now. Line a baking sheet or broiler pan with foil and preheat broiler. Combine dry mustard, garlic powder, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, pepper and salt in a large bowl and toss well with chicken. Place the chicken onto your baking sheet or broiler pain, and broil the chicken until cooked all the way through, about 5 minutes. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and hot sauce until smooth. Toss chicken and lettuce together. Serve the salad topped with radishes and the reserved grapefruit segments.
The pink and red color of a grapefruit comes from a phytonutrient called lycopene. Lycopene has antioxidant capabilities, which protect cells from DNA-damaging free radicals. Also, according to the American Dietetic Association, “several studies suggest that the consumption of lycopenerich foods is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.”
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
A type of dietary fiber called pectin in grapefruit may lower cholesterol. In fact, a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that an increased intake of dietary fiber, especially pectin, protects against the progression of atherosclerosis, a disease in which fatty substances thicken artery walls.
Grapefruits contain a phytonutrient called limonoid, which is what gives grapefruits their bitter taste. Some studies suggest that limonoids may have anticancer, cholesterol-lowering, and antiviral properties. (Tip: if you can’t stand the bitterness of grapefruit, try dabbing a little bit of honey on it or pouring a small amount orange juice to sneak in some sweetness.) t w
SOURCE: eatingwell.com and livestrong.com
Grapefruit has long been associated with the so-called magical property of helping people lose weight. It turns out there may be some truth to this belief. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food studied 91 obese patients and found that “half a fresh grapefruit eaten before meals was associated with significant weight loss” when compared with those who drank grapefruit juice, consumed a grapefruit capsule, or had a placebo.
1 medium ruby red grapefruit fresh 1/2 cup onions red raw 2 tbsp fresh mint 2 medium carrots 6 pieces water chestnuts sliced 1/2 tsp fresh ginger root 4 tbsp onions, green 1 yields lime juice raw 2 tsp sugar 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper Peel and cut grapefruit into slices. Very, very thinly slice the red onion and lightly chop the mint leaves. Clean and peel the carrots. Then use a peeler to create carrot shavings.Thinly slice the green onions and water chestnuts. Toss all together with the grapefruit. Juice the lime and grate the zest into the bowl and mix well. Peel about 1/2 inch of ginger root then slice the root thinly. Add into mixture. Sprinkle the sugar and cayenne and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. This salsa works well on fresh greens or as a special topping on fish.
top: yasonya/istockphoto; lower right: yasonya/istockphoto; right: zorani/istockphoto
Be careful of mixing drugs with grapefruit juice because this may unintentionally lead to an increased dosage of that drug. A class of compounds called furocoumarins in grapefruit inhibits a major enzyme in your intestine that is involved in metabolizing and absorbing certain drugs. Drugs that are affected by furocoumarins include medications for allergies, heart failure, blood pressure, epilepsy, and cholesterol. Make sure to inform your doctor if you are on medications and consume grapefruits frequently.
We would like to acknowledge the following people for their contributions to this edition. We would also like to make special mention of the following UCLA physicians, professors and faculty members who donated their time and expertise to ensuring the accuracy of content published in the following articles:
Nancy Reifel, DDS, MPH, REHS, Assistant Professor, Public Health and Community Dentistry, UCLA School of Dentistry
walk this way
Christian Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing
raw vs. cooked
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
all about apples
Katherine Grubiak, RD, UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center Introduction by Anna Wong
making sense of happiness •
the facts in a nutshell
Alona Zerlin, MS, RD, Research Dietitian, UCLA Department of Medicine, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
the soy controversy
Allan Pantuck, MD, MS, FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Urology, UCLA School of Medicine
why do we dream?
Dennis McGinty, PhD, Adjunct Professor, UCLA Department of Psychology
Melissa Magaro, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Affective Disorders Program Coordinator, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
Melissa Magaro, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Affective Disorders Program Coordinator, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
cover & table of contents Designed by Elizabeth Wang
Leah FitzGerald, RN, FNP-C, PhD, Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Division of Allergy & Immunology, UCLA School of Medicine •
healthy living through probiotics
mastering the power nap
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Director, UCLA Center for Human Nutrition
Kathleen Lambird, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
food pick: grapefruits
Eve Lahijani, MS, RD, Nutrition Health Educator, UCLA Bruin Resource Center
total wellness ▪ spring 2011
Melissa Magaro, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Affective Disorders Program Coordinator, UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services
the science of happiness
Leigh Goodrich, Anna Wong, and Elizabeth Wang
Karin Yuen and Elizabeth Wang
Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology at UCLA
Eunok Im, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine-Digestive Diseases, UCLA School of Medicine
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