wellness

Caffeine
6:22 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Coffee Myth-Busting: Cup Of Joe May Help Hydration And Memory

A barista makes coffee using the pour-over method at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
Benjamin Morris NPR

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:51 pm

Despite caffeine's many benefits, there's a belief out there that a daily coffee habit can cause dehydration.

So is it true? Not according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. studied the fluid levels of 50 men who had a habit of consuming about three to six cups of coffee each day.

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Diet Challenge
6:43 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Elm City Goes on a Diet

New Haven officials would like, on average, to see each resident lose three pounds in a new initiative.
Credit Comstock/Stockbyte / Thinkstock

The city of New Haven is going on a diet. City officials, health advocates and Yale University announced the initiative on Friday in the Elm City.

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Chronic pain
3:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pain In The Back? Exercise May Help You Learn Not To Feel It

Janet Wertheimer does a back hyperextension exercise at Boston Sports Club in Wellesley, Mass. Regular exercise has helped control her chronic back pain.
Ellen Webber for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 4:56 pm

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they've recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It's one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

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Paid Sick Leave
12:41 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Study: Paid Sick Leave Has Minimal Effect on Employers

Credit Fuse / Thinkstock

A new study quantifies the impact of Connecticut's first-in-the-nation paid sick leave law, and many employers said they're pleasantly surprised.

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Smoking
10:05 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Anti-Smoking Measures Have Saved Millions of Lives

"The Flintstones" show was once sponsored by Winston cigarettes.

It was 1960 when Winston cigarettes sponsored the popular TV cartoon series, "The Flintstones." Four years later, the U.S. Surgeon General released a groundbreaking report spelling out the harmful effects of smoking, a compilation of the best scientific evidence at the time. 

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Smoking
6:03 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths

Tobacco companies incorporated doctors in their ads, such as this 1930 Lucky Strike campaign, to convince the public that smoking wasn't harmful.
Stanford University

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 3:22 pm

Saturday marks an important milestone in public health – the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Few if any documents have had the impact of this one — both on the amount of disease and death prevented, and on the very scope of public health.

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Mental Health
3:48 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Relieve Anxiety And Depression

Western medicine has questioned the medical benefits of meditation.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 9:38 am

People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.

But doctors have questioned whether this ancient Eastern practice really offers measurable health benefits. A fresh review of the evidence should help sort that out.

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Binge Drinking
2:23 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Drinking Too Much? Don't Count On Your Doctor To Ask

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most of the people who have problems with drinking aren't alcoholics, and having a brief chat with a doctor is often all it takes to prompt excessive drinkers to cut back.

But, it turns out, doctors aren't bringing the topic up. More than 80 percent of adults say they've never discussed alcohol use with a health professional, a survey finds.

Young people and binge drinkers were most likely to be asked about alcohol use, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Weather
9:36 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Deaths Are Bitter Reminder Of Cold Snap's Dangers

This woman in Chicago was well protected from the cold on Monday.
Kamil Krzaczynski EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 11:56 am

While this week's super-cold conditions across much of the nation are fascinating and fun for many of us, there is a far more serious side to the story.

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Diet
8:42 am
Tue January 7, 2014

To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!)

At NPR's Sound Bites Cafe, all food gets coded with one of three circles: Green is reserved for the most healthful dishes; yellow flags the "good choices;" and red signals the high-calorie foods to grab "on occasion."
NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 1:27 pm

Could a little red circle really make me bypass short ribs and mashed potatoes for some cod and rice instead? You've got to be kidding.

Well, a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital sure think so — at least sometimes — and they have a study that backs them up.

It's research that hits close to home: Last April, when NPR moved into new headquarters, we got a snazzy new cafeteria. And little colored circles started popping up on menus.

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Extreme Cold
11:25 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Frigid Temperatures Bring a Risk of Frostbite and Hypothermia

Credit Digital Vision/Photodisc / Thinkstock

When skin and underlying tissues freeze after exposure to very cold temperatures, that's frostbite. Hands, feet, nose and ears are most at risk. The key to treating frostbite is to gradually warm the skin, which may feel red and painful as it thaws. 

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Fast Food
2:41 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

McDonald's Shuts Down Website That Told Workers To Avoid Fast Food

Protesters demonstrate at a McDonald's in New York on Dec. 5. Protesters staged events in cities nationwide, demanding a pay raise to $15 per hour for fast-food workers and the right for them to unionize.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 2:41 pm

McDonald's has decided to shut down a website aimed at providing work and life advice to its employees after it was reported that it had urged workers not to eat the very fast food they are hired to produce.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's said Thursday that information on its McResources Line site had been taken out of context thus generating "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary," according to a McDonald's spokeswoman.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:34 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Scrambling Toward Christmas With Sad Songs, Oscar Isaac, and Tight Flights

Oscar Isaac plays Llewyn Davis in the Coen Brother's new film, "Inside Llewyn Davis."
Credit Mongrel Media Press Photos

A couple of weeks ago, we did a whole show about blood pressure only to have an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association blow a lot of the current thinking about blood pressure right out of the water. We talk to UConn's hypertension expert, Dr. Billy White, about new guidelines saying people over 60 may not need to keep their blood pressure as low as previously thought. 

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Health
3:00 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Do Vitamin Pills Actually Do Anything?

Credit Gubcio/iStock / Thinkstock

A group of doctors in a leading medical journal are issuing a blunt warning to consumers: "stop wasting money" on vitamins. At least 50 percent of Americans use vitamins or dietary supplements, "despite sobering evidence of no benefit," according to the editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Rankings
4:29 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Connecticut is the Seventh-Healthiest State, According to Annual Report

Lake McDonough Reservoir in Connecticut, seen from the Tunxis Trail Overlook Spur in Barkhamsted.
Credit Morrowlong / Creative Commons
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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:23 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Singing Away the Blues

Lucy Ferriss is a writer-in-residence at Trinity College and author of several books, including the forthcoming, The Map of Honor. She also sings with CitySingers choir.
Chion Wolf

I suppose you could say that today's show is about a fairly obvious truth--singing with other people feels good. 

But, it's a little bit more complicated than that. When you go to a church and pick up a hymnal and sing what everybody else sings, it feels okay. And, a fairly complex set of activities takes place in your brain, and that's nice, but it pales in comparison to really singing with others. 

That is, getting together with other people and rehearsing and working toward a truly successful blend of voices.

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Newtown: One Year Later
4:40 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Newtown Decides Against Shooting Anniversary Event

Photos of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sit at a small memorial near the school on January 14, 2013, in Newtown, Connecticut. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:55 am

Residents of Newtown, Conn., have decided against a public commemoration to mark the first anniversary this coming Saturday of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

Instead, the town is endorsing a “year of service” and is asking residents to put a candle in their window on Dec. 14, the day of the shooting, to show their commitment to the idea of service to each other.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:01 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Blood Pressure is One Measure of Future Cardiovascular Disease

Dr. Paul Thompson, Chief of Cardiology at Hartford Hospital
Chion Wolf

Long before we knew how the cardiovascular worked, ancient doctors may have recognized what we call hypertension. It seemed like maybe there was too much blood, so they treated it with leeches. 

Even today, high blood pressure is a little bit mysterious. The way it's typically measured may be the wrong way. And, it's not caused by one single factor so no single drug treats all the things that cause high blood pressure. 

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The Faith Middleton Show
11:21 am
Tue December 3, 2013

The Trauma of Everyday Life

Credit shaire productions/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: I'm featuring New York psychiatrist Dr. Mark Epstein's fascinating new book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, because it explains the big pay-off for learning to notice the small and big traumas we all experience daily in an unpredictable world. By comprehending these traumas, he says, we permit their release, which leads to less stress and a greater sense of feeling fully alive. Dr. Epstein is a Harvard trained psychiatrist with a private practice in New York City. He's interested in the interface of psychotherapy and Buddhist philosophy.

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The Faith Middleton Show
12:52 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Neuroscience: How Mindfulness Increases Well-Being

Credit Toshimasa Ishibashi/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: Neuroscientists are verifying that practicing mindful awareness promotes neuroplasticity in the human brain, activating the “resonance” circuit that leads to a greater sense of well-being.

Renowned mindfulness teacher Dr. Jack Kornfield explains how mindfulness works quickly to transform neural circuits, enhance inner and interpersonal attunement, and deepen the capacity for empathy and lovingkindness.

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Where We Live
8:31 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat: Battling Childhood Obesity

Dr. Ann Ferris
Chion Wolf

It’s Halloween. Do you know what your kids are eating? Is this one of the few days of the year where maybe it’s okay for kids to have a little bit of candy, or are you one of those parents who skips the treats altogether and hands out toys or toothbrushes instead?!

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The Colin McEnroe Show
3:54 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

A Scrutinization of Salt

Credit DaGoaty, Flickr Creative Commons

Salt! It's the only rock we eat!

That gets us into some touchy territory. Some say that salt is a major factor for high blood pressure, and some say that it's more complicated than that. We can't NOT eat salt, but in the grand scheme of things, are we eating more now than ever, or way less?

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Steady Habits
1:06 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Random Bedtimes Breed Bad Behavior In Kids

Play now, pay later: consistency matters when it comes to kids and sleep.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:06 pm

Parents learn the hard way that late bedtimes make for cranky kids the next day. But inconsistent bedtimes may have a greater effect on children's behavior, a study says.

Kids who didn't go to bed on a regular schedule had more behavior problems at home and at school. When those children were put to bed at the same time each night, their behavior improved.

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Extra Virgin
11:28 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Former Connecticut Official Knighted in Italy for Protecting Purity of Olive Oil

Credit Cosasdebeas / Wikimedia Commons

Just as wine lovers want complexity in a great vintage wine, olive oil fans expect purity in their favorite extra virgin. But high-end olive oil is expensive to produce. And in the mid-2000s, fraud was a growing problem.

When Connecticut officials discovered that some imported olive oil was really a cheap knock-off, they leapt into action. Jerry Farrell was commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection at the time.

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The Faith Middleton Show
3:01 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Recognizing Everyday Traumas Leads to Happier Lives

Credit Aislinn Ritchie/flickr creative commons

by Faith Middleton

I'm featuring New York psychiatrist Dr. Mark Epstein's fascinating new book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, because it explains the big pay-off for learning to notice the small and big traumas we all experience daily in an unpredictable world. By comprehending these traumas, he says, we permit their release, which leads to less stress and a greater sense of feeling fully alive. Dr. Epstein is a Harvard trained psychiatrist with a private practice in New York City. He's interested in the interface of psychotherapy and Buddhist philosophy.

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The Faith Middleton Show
3:08 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Authors of Goddess of the Market and Healing at the Speed of Sound

John Baer/flickr creative commons

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right
by Jennifer Burns

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The Colin McEnroe Show
2:40 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

A Salute To Urine!

Wikimedia Commons

In 1978, Indian prime minister Moraji Desai flustered Dan Rather during a Sixty Minutes interview by describing his health practice of drinking his own urine. I'm not sure how many people around the world do this for its supposed health benefits, but there are more than you might think. Rather was grossed out. Desai lived to be 99. So bottoms up! The list of people who have done this includes J.D. Salinger, the singer Kesha and the actress Sarah Miles as well as thousands of Americans who discovered Indian medicinal ideas during their immersion in yoga.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
2:19 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Prenatal Massage, Hypnobirthing, and Other Ways to Manage Having a Baby

Nagobe, Flickr Creative Commons

Home birthing? Doulas? Midwives? Hypnobirthing? Prenatal massage? Today, we’re talking about alternative birthing.

Fifty years ago, it was pretty simple: you went to the hospital, they knocked you out, and you had your baby — while dad smoked a cigar in the waiting room. Or if no hospital was nearby, you gave birth at home and hoped a savvy neighborhood lady could to help out. In later years, the question became home birth versus hospital birth.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
4:17 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Can Fasting Bring You Closer to God?

Flickr Creative Commons, Keoni Cabral

In researching this show, I found one claim that some of the writers of the Constitution fasted to enhance inspiration and mental clarity. I couldn't confirm that, but in 1775, the Continental Congress proclaimed July 20 as a day of "fasting and humiliation."  

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Health Care
4:34 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Study: Kids Can't Improve Their Teeth If They Don't See A Dentist

Each year, children across the country have a hard time caring for their teeth. A new study says that the problem is made worse because kids can't get in to see a dentist. The report comes from the Pew Children's Dental Campaign and makes two big observations.

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