wellness

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A new investigation by WNPR reporter David DesRoches found that two-thirds of Connecticut schools could be contaminated with toxic PCBs. 

Börkur Sigurbjörnsson / Creative Commons

Today, our show about poo.

First, the 'no-poo' movement. Before the last century, people washed their hair a lot less often than we do today. A little Castille soap, an egg yoke for extra shine, and one hundred strokes with a boar bristle brush would do the trick. It wasn't until John Breck introduced his golden shampoo that everyone wanted to have the long lustrous locks of a Breck Girl. Today, 'no-poo' converts are going back to the basics and they say they're hair has never looked so good.

"If a kid is in first period when they should still be asleep, how much are they really learning?"

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This hour I talk with Dr. Reza Yavari, a metabolic doctor and endocrinologist with offices in Madison and Trumbull, Conn. Yavari, affiliated with Yale University, has coached countless clients, many with health issues like diabetes or obesity, to stay motivated and at a stable weight. He shares his tips in this conversation.

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Science still can't say for sure why we need sleep, though we spend a third of our lives asleep, or trying to sleep. Those trying to sleep include the millions who have some sort of sleep issue, from insomnia to over-sleeping.

Subway to Remove Artificial Ingredients by 2017

Jun 5, 2015
Thomas Hawk / Creative Commons

Fast food sandwich chain Subway announced yesterday that it will join a growing number of companies dropping artificial ingredients from their products. The chain, based in Milford, Connecticut, plans to rework its menu to remove artificial dyes and preservatives by 2017.

Susan Campbell

On April 23, after 20 years on the streets, Salvatore Pinna moved into a Hartford apartment. It was his first ever.

Pinna's is one of the success stories for Greater Hartford’s 100-day challenge to greatly reduce chronic homelessness.

Alexandria Perone/flickr creative commons

The book by a contributor to The New Yorker magazine, The Big Fat Surprise, is rocking the nutrition/health world.

After nine years spent analyzing scientific papers and conducting thousands of interviews with researchers and health officials, the author reports that conclusions about what makes a healthy diet are frequently wrong. 

Mason Masteka/flickr creative commons

This hour I talk with Dr. Reza Yavari, a metabolic doctor and endocrinologist with offices in Madison and Trumbull, Conn. Yavari, affiliated with Yale University, has coached countless clients, many with health issues like diabetes or obesity, to stay motivated and at a stable weight. He shares his tips in this conversation.

Looking for new growth and promising better restaurant experiences for customers, McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbrook is changing how the chain manages global markets and plans to boost the number of franchised restaurants.

"The reality is, our recent performance has been poor," Easterbrook said in a video released Monday. "The numbers don't lie. Which is why, as we celebrate 60 years of McDonald's, I will not shy away from resetting this business."

Ameetav Nangrani / Creative Commons

When was the last time you enjoyed a sugary soft drink? If it's been a while, it may be because health movements have begun to turn consumers away from sodas.

But the sugar content in juices, iced teas, and energy drinks is also very high. It begs the question: why are some connoisseurs now trying to break only their soda habits, and what makes others remain dedicated to their favorite carbonated drink?

Federal health officials Monday changed the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time since 1962, cutting by almost half the maximum amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking supplies.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommended 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water instead of the long-standing range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

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Despite laws in many states that protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke, exposure remains especially high for children ages three to eleven, African-Americans, and those who live in poverty or rental housing, according to a recent report.

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there's all that time standing on your feet. It's one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.

But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors' homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.

You can take your drinks outside on Bourbon Street, but you can no longer bring your smokes indoors.

Effective Wednesday, New Orleans has banned smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos.

The New York Times published an intriguing look at the city's nightlife spots as the ban went into effect.

Here's an excerpt:

Sal Pinna Finally Finds a Home

Apr 16, 2015
Susan Campbell / WNPR

I didn’t think the story would end this way.

Sal Pinna has been homeless for 20 years, since he came to Connecticut from his native Long Island to enroll in a substance abuse program. 

Pinna is a 52-year-old man who loves the Mets, Batman, and Dean Martin. He wants a home, but the myriad forms and appointments that are required have proven to be beyond him. Pinna has diabetes, and he’s been diagnosed with depression, and a few years ago, bipolar disorder. 

Heather Brandon / WNPR

A Manchester social service agency will close its 40-bed homeless shelter July 1 rather than comply with a state order to admit homeless people who abuse alcohol and drugs. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The State Department of Public Health has just released 2013 data on Health Risk Behaviors in Connecticut’s High School Age Youth. This week, WNPR is focusing on one particularly troubling condition described in the report: self injury.

On Wednesday, we learned about how one Connecticut school district is trying to cope with a substantial rise in the number of high school students who are cutting themselves.

In part two, we bring you the story of a Connecticut man’s journey through mental illness and self-injury to recovery. 

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A Russian rocket has carried a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut to the International Space Station, where they will live for a full year, twice as long as people usually stay.

No American has remained in space longer than 215 days. Only a few people have ever gone on space trips lasting a year or more — the longest was 437 days — and they're all Russian cosmonauts. The last year-plus stay in space occurred nearly two decades ago.

Nepal, a country of 25 million, is struggling out of poverty after a decadelong civil war. Squabbling politicians have paralyzed government, and high unemployment means 1,500 youth leave every day for jobs in Malaysia and the Middle East.

So, as the United Nations International Day of Happiness dawns, Nepalis may seem on the surface to have reason to be unhappy.

Hospitals are one of the worst places to try to get a good night's sleep, just when you need it the most. And though many have tried to muffle the noise of beeping monitors and clattering carts, the noise remains a big problem for many patients.

But what if we looked at a night in the hospital as a long overseas flight? As you settle in, they hand out eye masks and earplugs. And you cleverly brought along melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone sold at drugstores everywhere.

Eden, Janine and Jim / Creative Commons

Sixty years ago, patients rarely questioned the authority of their doctors. Like the doctors portrayed on television, these older, wiser, and usually white male doctors would dispense sage advice to trusting parents desperate to make their children well in an age of polio and measles.

Alexandria Perone/flickr creative commons

The book by a contributor to The New Yorker magazine, The Big Fat Surprise, is rocking the nutrition/health world.

After nine years spent analyzing scientific papers and conducting thousands of interviews with researchers and health officials, the author reports that conclusions about what makes a healthy diet are frequently wrong. 

Vox Efx / Creative Commons

A bill that would impose a tax on sugary soft drinks has passed a legislative hurdle.

The measure would assess a one-cent-per-ounce tax on carbonated soft drinks that contain a caloric sweetener. Proceeds from the tax would fund public education and outreach programs on obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

It might seem silly to miss work for a rash. But people who have eczema often have to put a lot of time and money into managing the itchy, inflamed rashes they get over and over. Lindsay Jones, who lives in Chicago, was diagnosed with eczema when she was 2 weeks old.

If you were seeking a seething mass of microbes, it'd be hard to think of a better place to look than the New York City subway system.

Scientists who descended into that subterranean maze in search of its microbial tenants wanted to find out how the 5.5 million people who use the system each weekday influence the microbes, and vice versa.

But the 18-month-long project, which sampled DNA from 466 stations, was no walk in Central Park.

D.C.'s new mayor Muriel E. Bowser surprised advocates for the homeless in the district when she filed an emergency motion late Thursday, hoping to end a mandatory demand to provide all homeless families a private room when temperatures drop below freezing.

Asthma affects children regardless of where they live and whether they are rich or poor. But scientists have long thought that living in poor urban neighborhoods adds an extra risk for this troublesome lung inflammation. A new study suggests that's not necessarily the case.

Asthma is often triggered by something in the environment, so in the 1960s, scientists started looking for places where asthma was especially bad.

Fear is one of the strongest and most basic of human emotions, and it's the focus of Fearless, the second episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show on the invisible forces that shape human behavior.

This segment of the show explores how a man decided to conquer his fear of rejection by getting rejected every day — on purpose.

The evolution of Jason Comely, a freelance IT guy from Cambridge, Ontario, began one sad night several years ago.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

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