Researchers found that unhealthy workplaces can affect mortality.
Not a newsflash, but another study confirming what we already know…Stress Kills. Or put another way….
Who doesn’t like infographics?!?!
They reduce complex concepts into pictures, and well, “pictures are purty!”
So here’s one that hopefully leaves an impression. It’s all about how sitting down, something most of us do all frickin’ day long at work–only to follow up with a few hours in front of the tube–is killing us.
Okay, Okay, Okay.
I’m back from my quick trip to Argentina and time to get back to the blogging thing. So, let’s dedicate this post to the trials and tribulations of traveling abroad while trying to maintain a plant-based diet. All in all, not a huge problem, even in Argentina, the land of the cow. Despite being the largest consumer of beef per capita, Argentina is also home to a rather attractive and vain population of Italians and Spaniards who stress “It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look; and as such, there is a plethora of health food stores, fitness clubs, and of course, the requisite makeup, perfumaria’s and 1960s era girdles, and assorted “slimming” paraphernalia. Emerging out of this vanity is also a new crop of vegetarian and vegan food options, particularly in Buenos Aires, which to be fair is one of the world’s Mega Cities, and where locals claim anything’s possible, even Veganism. Case in point, a quick search on the Internets yielded a relatively long list of vegan and vegetarian establishments on the Happy Cow web site. As I mentioned on my previous post, I came across this place, “Mas Natural,” on its second day of business (although it’s a second location of a longer established eatery (Esquina de Las Flores).
Mas Natural is located at 993 Esmerelda, Buenos Aires (Phone: 4312-5257)
But vegetarian or vegan restaurant aside, the major lesson of my trip is that eating a plant-based diet on the road was relatively easy and that was with absolutely no planning or preparing on my part. I’m simply not the type of person that packs a lunch. I have enough trouble keeping up with my supplements. I also love to travel and prefer the “When in Rome,” attitude. With that philosophy in mind, I went anywhere with my son and my friend Raul and regardless of the cuisine on the menu, managed to find something healthy and “planty,” to eat. Most notably at a local Parrilla, around the corner from our hotel in the Recoleta district. “Parrilla,” means grill and despite my plant-eating ways, my 18 year old son is not quite ready to give up meat, so I treated him to a genuine Argentine steak house. I figured I just get a salad and some Papas Fritas, which became my “go-to” meal when there was little else on the menu, but to my surprise, the restaurant had a Veggie Grill dish that not only was delicious but huge.
Don’t ask me the name of the place, as we actually thought we were going to Cumaná – Northern Argentine Cuisine (Rodriguez Peña 1149, Recoleta), but ended up at the place next door. Hey! They both looked identical, they both were grills, and they both had long lines. Whatever. Point is, I ate at a trendy place surrounded by beautiful people; I stuffed my face, and I stayed healthy and plant-based. Pretty much a tri-fecta for a guy.
A Guy’s Guide to being Vegan …ish
Why the change?
Lot’s of reasons, but best framed by the following quote.
“The sheer novelty and glamor of the Western diet, with its seventeen thousand new food products every year and the marketing power – thirty-two billion dollars a year – used to sell us those products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves: relying on science and journalism and government and marketing to help us decide what to eat.” Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma
Back in the day, (last year) when I used to suffer constant exacerbations, everyone from my doctor to my work colleagues would say, “It must be the stress.”
And while that makes sense, there has been very little of proof that– until recently.
While I’m not sure if this is definitive, in the December 2009 issue of Journal of Leukocyte Biology , researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center reported that they had discovered that the same part of our nervous system that is responsible for the fight-or-flight response also controls regulatory T cells, which are used by the body to end an immune response once it destroys the foreign element.
How did they do it?
Researchers injected mice with a drug called 6-hyroxydopamine (6-OHDA), which selectively removes sympathetic nerves located in different organs. Another group of mice were injected with a saline solution — because, you know, they didn’t want the mice to know who was getting the drug and who wasn’t.
The 6-OHDA drug severs the link between the nervous system and the immune system, and mice injected with it had twice as many regulatory T cells as the control group in their spleens and lymph nodes. Furthermore, it appears that the increase in regulatory T cells also resulted in an increase of a protein called TFG-beta. This protein directs the development and survival of regulatory T cells.
To see if this result (more T-Cells) would prevent autoimmune diseases from developing, they subjected the mice to conditions known to specifically cause multiple sclerosis in humans. (Hey! If they know what conditions cause MS, why isn’t THAT the lead to this story!?!?!). Nonetheless, after the test the mice treated with 6-OHDA did not develop an autoimmune disease, showing that not only can the “sympathetic nervous system” (our fight or flight mechanism) negatively affect the immune system, but it also shows how it might be possible to prevent or stop autoimmune diseases as a result.
Let’s hope so.
This is a relatively old news story I bookmarked way back when, so as I stress out over the huge amount of work I have to do this week, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the role stress plays on our health.
Stress has been linked to several maladies including blood pressure, stiffen arteries, suppressed immune systems, heighten risks of diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease–just to name a few.
However, neurological science has yet to define all the different ways that stress can impact our body.
But we’re learning news ways every day.
Case in point, a research study published last year in the journal “Science, by Nuno Sousa of the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute at the University of Minho, Portugal describes experiments in which chronically stressed rats constantly regress to familiar routines and rote responses like pressing a bar for food even though they had no intention of eating.
Just how the researchers understood a rat’s intent is not explained, however, they did say that studies of the rat’s brains showed that centers of the brain dedicated to executive decision making had shrunk while those that controlled habit formation had grown.
According to one scientist, not associated with the research team, the findings suggest why humans “get themselves into a rut.”
Fair enough, but the really interesting finding of this study isn’t so much how we respond but what physiologically happens to the brain as a result. We actually see some parts of the brain expand while others shrink. It shows how the brain is elastic and malleable.
What’s more, when the stressed rats were left to relax, their brain changed again, with the executive management portion growing, and the behavioral portion shrinking a bit. This speaks to the incredible recuperative powers of the brain.
Well, considering the stress these rats were subjected to, very incredible.
Warning, animal lovers may not want to hear the rest: but to study the rats’ reaction to stress, the rodents were subjected to what could only be called “Abu Ghraib” like conditions, including electroshock, habitation with larger, more imposing rodents and even water-boarding (“prolonged dunks in water”).
The good news, after just 4 weeks out of prison, the stressed rats were able to modify their behavior and their brain returned to normal– for a rat that is.