Get Talking! It’s Good for You


Published: July 13, 2018

RH Weekly News Roundup – 13 July 2018

Get Talking! It’s Good for You

Social connections play an important role in our physical health and overall well-being. A recent study examined different types of social conversation and their impact on our happiness. For this study, participants wore an Electronically Activated Recording device (or EAR) which was set to turn on intermittently for short periods of time throughout the day. The research team was able to capture, and then classified, daily conversations for over 480 participants. These participants also completed surveys to measure life satisfaction and personality assessments.

People who engaged in a greater number of conversations classified as “substantive” were happier; this correlation was found for both introverts and extrovert personality types. Contrary to previous study results, conversations classified as “small talk” did not have any impact on participant’s well-being – good or bad. The study authors hope that additional research will reveal whether having more substantive conversations make people happy or if happier people have more substantive conversations. While not exactly surprising, these results are still a good reminder. For all aspects of health and wellness – whether food, exercise, stress reduction or social connection – quality and quantity do matter.


Exercise Bands May Beat the Blues

Over the years, scientific studies have found exercise to be an effective treatment for depression, especially mild to moderate cases. But most of the research focused on aerobic or mind-body exercises – like runningwalking or yoga. But, a recently published report summarised the results of 33 previous clinical trials that focused instead on the effects of anaerobic exercise on depression. These trials combined tracked the effect of resistance training – like lifting weights, using exercise bands, or doing body-weight exercises like push-ups – for over 1800 participants. The results indicate the use of resistance training significantly reduced the symptoms of depression – and the correlation held true regardless of how physically healthy people were, how much exercise they were assigned to do, or how strong they got as a result of completing their workouts.

Many of the trials included in the study failed to include information on whether or not the participants were taking antidepressants, so it’s unclear whether or not medication is a factor. Also, these studies focused on people with mild to moderate depression; the benefits may not apply to cases of more severe depression. And as always, further studies are needed to nail down some of the details. But there does appear to be evidence that exercise – in any form – can be useful for treating mild cases of depression. This can be good news for people who find resistance training easier to fit into their current lifestyle or level of fitness.



New Rules for Braiders?

In Africa, it’s easy to find talented hair braiders, wherever you are. The same can’t be said for African women in the diaspora; outside of big cities, it can be a challenge to find someone with both skill and the money to secure a styling license. But this may soon change in the United States where a conservative lobbying group has jumped in to assist braiders to bypass the legal need for the cosmetology requirement for licensing in New Jersey.

While the group seeks to reduce government regulations in business and private affairs, the braiders complaint is the need to spend a small fortune for classes that cover everything braiders don’t need (chemicals, colour treatments, and the like) while there aren’t any covering the practical skills braiders use. The motion to dispense the licensing requirement has already passed the state Senate and, as it has bi-partisan support, is merely awaiting the governor’s signature.


Walk Your Way to Better Health

Walking is probably the most recommended form of exercise. If you include walking in your fitness regimen, you’ll get a number of benefits including improved mood, reduced joint pain, better immune function, and lower blood pressure. It even helps keep you “regular.” And, walking is actually a great way to live longer; it has been proven to reduce the risk of premature death. A recent study found a relatively easy way to increase this particular benefit – walk faster.

After comparing mortality records with the results of several population-based surveys, Australian researchers were able to compare the effect of different factors – walking pace, age, sex, weight – had on longevity. They found that walking at an average pace had a 20% reduction in mortality when compared with walking at a slow pace. And walking at a brisk or fast pace was linked with a 24% reduction in risk of premature death. The effects were even greater for older people. Walkers 60 years and up who reported walking at an average pace had a 46% reduction in risk; fast pace walkers in this age group had a 53% reduction.

Want to give it a try? For the purposes of this study, 5 to 7 kilometres per hour was considered a fast pace; but it is important to respect your current fitness level rather than concentrate on a specific number. After a warm-up, walk at a pace that makes you slightly out of breath; sustain that pace until it is time to cool-down. And don’t forget to stretch afterwards to prevent injury.


Soup for More than Your Soul

The savoury flavour found in meat, fish, and cheese is umami – the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, bitter and sour.  A recent study attempted to identify behavioural and cognitive changes in women after consuming an umami-rich broth. After being outfitted with special equipment that measures brain activity and eye movement, a group of women consumed a bowl of savoury chicken broth each – some with monosodium glutamate (MSG) added and some without. Then the study participants ate a buffet meal where they could choose and eat freely. After drinking the umami-rich broth with MSG, participants made better food choices at the buffet and consumed less saturated fat overall during the meal.

So, will having a cup of delicious savoury broth before a meal help you lose weight?  Maybe.  This small study observed an interesting one-time effect in a laboratory setting; an effect that may not translate neatly to the real world and over long periods of time.  And it should be noted that the sponsor of this study was Ajinomoto, Inc. makers of Asian foods and additives like the MSG used in the study. Still, numerous studies have shown how consuming a low-calorie soup prior to a meal often results in a reduction in total calorie intake by up to 20%. Give it a try to see if it works for you.

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