New UK research has found that the warm glow we feel after helping others is real, with brain scans showing that the reward centre in the brain is activated after an act of kindness.
Carried out by psychologists at the University of Sussex and published in the journal NeuroImage, the new meta-analysis included 36 existing studies with a total of 1,150 participants who had undergone brain fMRI scans while making kind decisions.
The researchers analysed for the first time what happens in the brain when people are kind because of genuine altruism – which is when there’s nothing for them to gain from it – and when they act with strategic kindness – when they hope for something in return.
The findings showed that the reward areas of the brain are more active, meaning they use up more oxygen, when people act with strategic kindness.
However, acts of altruism in which there is no hope of personal gain also activated the reward centre. Moreover, some brain regions were actually more active during altruistic acts of kindness, suggesting that there is something unique about being kind with no hope of gaining something in return.
“We know that people can choose to be kind because they like feeling like they are a ‘good person’, but also that people can choose to be kind when they think there might be something ‘in it’ for them such as a returned favour or improved reputation,” said lead author Dr Daniel Campbell-Meiklejohn.
“Some people might say that ‘why’ we give does not matter, as long as we do. However, what motivates us to be kind is both fascinating and important. If, for example, governments can understand why people might give when there’s nothing in it for them, then they can understand how to encourage people to volunteer, donate to charity or support others in their community.”
“The same issues could also apply when we think about interactions between family, friends, colleagues or strangers on a one-to-one basis,” added co-author Jo Cutler. “For example, if after a long day helping a friend move house, they hand you a fiver, you could end up feeling undervalued and less likely to help again.
“A hug and kind words however might spark a warm glow and make you feel appreciated. We found some brain regions were more active during altruistic, compared to strategic, generosity so it seems there is something special about situations where our only motivation to give to others is to feel good about being kind.” – AFP Relaxnews
- Gisele Bündchen shared health tips in her new book.
- Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Gisele Bündchen is one of the most recognized and successful models in the world, so naturally people are curious to know how what she consumes to stay in great shape.
In chapter seven of her new book, “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life,” the 38-year-old detailed what she eats and drinks to maintain good health.
“I don’t call my nutritional regimen a diet, but rather healthy eating habits, so I can maintain a high level of vitality and the mental clarity to have a productive and enjoyable life,” she wrote.
In her early years modeling, Bündchen used to consistently drink mocha frappuccinos with whipped cream, smoke cigarettes, and eat fried foods to get through her busy days. In addition, the panic attacks that she experienced in her ’20s “completely transformed” the way she ate. Now, Bündchen is more “thoughtful” about what she eats because her metabolism has slowed down.
Here’s what Bündchen’s diet looks like.
She starts off her morning with water and half a lemon and green juice.
While putting together school lunches for her children, she drinks a juice blend that typically consists of celery, cucumbers, half an apple, turmeric, ginger, and lemon juice.
For days when Bündchen plans to do intense workouts, she’ll concoct a smoothie with berries, cacao powder, hemp seed, flax seed, chia seed, and coconut milk.
Bündchen takes plenty of vitamins
Food is her primary source for getting nutrients, but she takes vitamin C, vitamin D, and a B multivitamin, in addition to acupuncture and an intravenous shot of vitamins.
Twice a week, she fasts until lunchtime
“I always feel incredibly energized from this mini fast,” Bündchen said. “It takes a lot of energy for our bodies to digest the food we eat, and I think it’s a good idea to sometimes give our digestive system a rest.”
For lunch, Bündchen’s go-to is a salad or soup
She’ll eat salad with seed crackers and avocado. For a bowl of soup, Bündchen will add chickpeas and a variety of vegetables. In the summertime, she enjoys two or three spring rolls (made from two slices of apple and avocado, cabbage, carrots, and cucumber) with a tahini dipping sauce.
She is careful to avoid foods and beverages that leave her feeling exhausted
When Bündchen relied on cheeseburgers, fries, and other unhealthy foods, she often felt sluggish afterward.
“The only thing I felt like doing was curling up in a ball and falling asleep,” Bündchen wrote in her book.
This led to a constant cycle of drinking cups of coffee with plenty of sugar for energy.
“After so much caffeine, I would start to fall apart both physically and emotionally,” she added.
“Once in a while I might still drink one or two small cups of coffee, usually if I’m flying overnight and then going directly to a studio,” Bündchen said. “The difference is that now I understand that caffeine is a powerful upper, and I treat it as such. “
Bündchen, husband Tom Brady, and their kids have all adopted a “whole-food, plant-based diet”
The model said that they opt for “organic and local ingredients, including raw or lightly steamed vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, with the occasional small piece of meat or seafood added into the mix.”
Additionally, Bündchen eats seafood once a week and meat twice a month, avoiding big fish that contain large concentrations of mercury.
She can’t completely resist sweets, but eats desserts with modified recipes and no processed sugar
To add sweetness to meals, Bündchen uses dates or fresh honey from two hives that the family owns. Her desserts are also “a blend of avocado and coconut,” since those are considered healthy fats. For a healthy spin on ice cream or mousse, Bündchen combines avocados, bananas, and raw cacao powder.
Bündchen is “a big believer in small portions” and snacks in moderation
The model said that she loves cheese, but eats it “sparingly.” Bündchen also eats dark chocolate every day, “even if it’s only a bite.” Additionally, her family enjoys hummus paired with chopped celery, carrots, and cucumbers.
“I just serve small portions that I know will satisfy me, without leaving me feeling overfed or tired,” she said. “I also feel lighter, more vital, and ready to tackle the day.”
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
- There are some things that can increase your chances for diabetes.
- Evgeniy pavlovski/ Shutterstock
If you don’t have it, you may be confused about what exactly diabetes is and what can cause it. Generally, diabetes is a condition where the body has chronically high levels of sugar in the blood.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1, which is an immune disease diagnosed earlier in life, and type 2, which develops in adults and is usually a result of modifiable risk factors.
But what exactly increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes? Here are 10 things you might not know can increase your risk.
Smoking can increase your chances of developing diabetes.
- Smoking makes your body more resistant to insulin.
- Mesk Photography/Shutterstock
Add this to Healthline’s list of adverse effects of smoking: smoking can make your body more resistant to insulin (the hormone which keeps blood sugar levels normal), according to studies by Ronnemaa and Gunton and colleagues. Even if you don’t have diabetes already, smoking can reduce blood sugar control.
For helpful resources and information on quitting smoking, check out the National Institutes of Health SmokeFree website.
Chronic use of some recreational drugs can increase diabetes risk.
- Stimulants increase your blood sugar.
- Reuters/ DEA
The Global Diabetes Community notes that certain stimulant drugs can increase your blood sugar. If these drugs are consumed on a regular basis, the resulting high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Amphetamines (“speed”/amphetamine, meth/methamphetamine), MDxx compounds (ecstasy/molly/MDMA), and ADHD drugs used as concentration aids (Adderal/”Addy”/Vyvanse) can all increase blood sugar levels and put you at risk.
Some medications can affect your risk.
- Some medications can increase your blood sugar.
- Wikimedia Commons
Steroids, anti-ADHD medications, anti-psychotics, some asthma medications, and other drugs may increase blood sugar, according to GlobalRPH. Generally, the benefits of these medications to treat health conditions outweigh their effects on blood sugar, so speak with your doctor and pharmacist for more information.
Chronic stress can put you at a higher risk.
- Your body releases sugar in your blood when you are stressed.
- Sutterstock / ChingChing
Sustained periods of emotional or physical stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise. When your body undergoes a stress response, sugar is released into the blood to help supply adequate energy where it’s needed, according to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of San Francisco.
“Stress may make your blood sugar go up and become more difficult to control,” the organization notes. When this stress is chronic, your risk for diabetes can be higher.
Your diet can influence your risk.
- Eating lots of sugar can lead to diabetes.
- Elena Bailoni/Spoon University
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Long periods of eating foods high in sugar, as well as experiencing significant weight gain, can increase your risk for diabetes.
The 2018 American Diabetes Association (ADA) Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes highlights “steady consumption of inexpensive carbohydrate-rich processed foods,” “binge eating,” and food insecurity (“unreliable availability of nutritious food”) as risk factors for increased blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes.
Not getting enough exercise puts you at risk for diabetes.
- Long periods of being sedentary can also lead to diabetes.
The ADA warns in their statement on Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes that significant periods of sedentary time can result in “poorer [blood sugar] control.” Even light to moderate aerobic exercise “enhances insulin action,” better-controlling blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours.
The type of exercise you do might matter, too. According to the ADA, “combining endurance exercise with resistance exercise may provide greater [blood sugar] improvements, and [high-intensity interval training] may be superior to continuous aerobic training in adults with diabetes.”
High cholesterol levels can change your diabetes risk.
- Bad cholesterol is tied with diabetes.
High levels of “bad” cholesterol (specifically, triglycerides) is a risk factor for poor blood sugar control, according to the ADA. In addition, low levels of “good” cholesterol (known as high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) may increase your risk for diabetes, though newer studies provide conflicting results.
Certain types of diabetes are associated with pregnancy.
- Gestational diabetes can happen just during the pregnancy.
- Universal Pictures
Pregnancy can result in the development of gestational diabetes (GD), a special type of diabetes induced by the changes associated with being pregnant. Most cases of GD resolve by themselves after delivery, but GD can be a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes later in life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “gestational diabetes doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms.” Don’t worry- tests for the condition are usually part of routine screening during early prenatal visits with your doctor.
Ignoring the symptoms of pre-diabetes can lead to a diabetes diagnosis.
The 2018 Standards for Care in Diabetes defines pre-diabetes as “the term used for individuals whose glucose levels do not meet the criteria for diabetes but are too high to be considered normal.”
Although the Mayo Clinic specifies that prediabetes may lack symptoms, in some cases pre-diabetic people may experience increased urination, increased thirst, and velvety brown patches on the skin. If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor right away.
Some factors which you can’t change increase your risk for diabetes.
- A person receives a test for diabetes during Care Harbor LA free medical clinic in Los Angeles
- Thomson Reuters
Although there is a lot you can do to lower your diabetes risk, a few things increase our risk from birth. Non-Caucasian ethnicity, male sex, genetic factors, a family history of diabetes, and certain medical conditions (like polycystic ovarian syndrome) can increase your baseline risk for diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Make sure to talk to your doctor to discuss your risk factors if you have questions.
Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
- Winter is coming: tissues at the ready.
- Aleksandra Suzi / Shutterstock
- Cold and flu season is fast approaching.
- Break out the antibacterial gel.
- You’re unlikely to avoid getting ill altogether, so here are a couple of techniques to try if you get a blocked nose.
It’s coming up to that time of year where everyone in your office is going to have the sniffles. No amount of hand gel or avoiding the communal kettle will stop the cold virus getting you – there’s just too many germs around.
If you do get struck down with a cold, one of the most annoying symptoms is a blocked nose. It can linger around even when you feel better, and it feels like you spend most of your weekly budget on tissues.
Rather than endlessly blowing your nose (which you’re probably doing wrong anyway), there are a few techniques for clearing a blocked nose you can try.
According to Prevention magazine, there is one superior method. In a video, the health site explains the tongue tap technique. First, you press your tongue to the top of your mouth and then press between your eyebrows on your forehead. Press, tap, and release for about 20 seconds.
“What it does is it rocks a bone called the vomer bone back and forth, and it actually clears everything that’s congested,” said Amy Rushlow, the managing editor of Prevention.
You can also try putting your head back and pinching your nose, then holding your breath for as long as you can. Take a breath when you finally have to, and your sinuses should be clear.
“Your brain realises that you’re not getting in enough oxygen, so your survival mechanism kicks in, clearing your sinuses so you can get in air,” said Rushlow.
You can watch the whole video below.
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There are a few other tried and tested methods to clear a blocked nose on Medical News today. They include:
- Taking a hot shower – The steam from the shower may help drain mucus away, although it’s just a temporary fix.
- Flush out the sinuses with neti pots – They have been used for hundreds of years to clear nasal passages of mucus.
- Eucalyptus oil – Place a few drops of the oil into a cup of boiling water and inhale the steam.
- Try a decongestant – They are available over the counter and work by narrowing the small blood vessels in the nose, which reduces swelling.
- If they won’t do it, he doesn’t take them on as a client. Andrew Wittman pictured.
- Andrew Wittman
- Andrew Wittman is a mental toughness coach; he’s also a Marine Corps veteran, a former police offer, and a former federal agent.
- In his book “Seven Secrets of Resilience for Parents,” Wittman says he asks his CEO clients to keep handwritten logs of their sleep, nutrition, and fitness activities.
- From there, Wittman looks for ways to tweak their daily routines to be healthier.
- If a CEO is unwilling to keep the log, Wittman won’t work with them.
When he works with CEOs, Andrew Wittman likes to get the full picture.
Wittman is a mental toughness coach; he’s also a Marine Corps veteran, a former police offer, and a former federal agent. In his book “Seven Secrets of Resilience for Parents,” Wittman shares the first thing he does when he works with executives who come to him seeking help with stress reduction.
“I have them text me an image of their handwritten journal noting their sleep, nutrition, and fitness activity for each day,” Wittman writes. “If they are unwilling to do so, I don’t take them on as a client. Why? Just like you and me, they own their sleep, their nutrition, and their fitness activities.”
Wittman knows from experience that, when life gets overwhelming, we tend to shortchange ourselves on sleep, skip workouts, and grab whatever’s handy to munch on. This “circle of habits,” as Wittman calls it, only increases stress levels.
Keeping a handwritten journal, Wittman says, is a way to hold yourself accountable for these behaviors.
Once he reviews a client’s journal, Wittman helps them tweak their daily routines to incorporate more healthful habits. For example: Turn off the TV late at night, and read a book instead. Take a walk at lunchtime. Befriend “health nuts,” so you pick up their eating habits.
In some cases, keeping a journal of your health behaviors can yield some big surprises. Quartz reported that many people get more sleep than they think, possibly because people are inclined to make themselves seem busy by reporting that they only sleep a few hours a night.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported on a study that found people tended to overestimate vigorous exercise activities and underestimate their sedentary times.
Wittman says attending to your own health before trying to, say, handle crises at work, is crucial. “It is putting the oxygen mask on yourself first on the airplane,” he writes, “and then helping the kids with their masks.”
Do 7-minute and 10-minute workouts really work?
This question crosses your mind as you realize that today, once again, you don’t have enough time to exercise. Your schedule feels out of control… And your energy level seems to be dropping.
Will only a couple of minutes of exercise be worth it?
Here’s what you should know:
- Quick workouts DO have benefits for general health & fitness
- Quick workouts are NOT ideal for achieving more specific goals (such as losing belly fat, building bigger arms or butt, etc.)
BENEFITS OF QUICK WORKOUTS
What benefits can you get from very short workouts?
- An increase in cardiometabolic health can be achieved with as little as a 4-minute workout routine. Several studies noted a positive effect of high intensity exercise in overweight and/or sedentary individuals. For those with very low levels of fitness, this can mean a significant decrease in mortality risk.(1, 2)
Can you do high intensity exercise if you are overweight?
Yes, stationary cycling and walking (especially uphill) can be done at a high intensity even if you are overweight and have a low fitness level. Jogging is an option, too, but remember to increase the distance slowly to avoid injury. A combination of walking and jogging is a good start.
- Better control of blood sugar levels has been noted in overweight individuals following a 2-month short, but high intensity, period of exercise. Plus, short workouts don’t make you as exhausted as regular workouts, so your appetite won’t overwhelm you right after you finish.
- Improved mental focus is noticeable after completing just 10 minutes of vigorous exercise. This makes short workouts a great option when you need to take a break between two mental activities.(3)
Keep in mind:
The studies that show evidence of benefits from short workouts include high intensity, “all-out” exercises, such as sprints, done over a course of 8+ weeks. What does this mean for you? When opting for a short workout, aim to keep the intensity high, at about 8 in a range of 1 to 10 level of discomfort.
Is a short workout better than no workout?
Clearly, the answer is yes! Quick, short workouts are great when you travel, have only 10 minutes for a workout before you have to take a shower, or just want to gain more focus throughout the day.
However, if your goal is something other than being more focused and improving your health, keep reading…
SHORT WORKOUTS: GOALS & EXPECTATIONS
Despite what the media wants you to believe, there is no shortcut to success. Quick workouts can be a great tool to use on your road to success. But they shouldn’t be your only choice if you want to achieve a specific goal.
If your goal is to…
- Lose weight: For optimal weight loss, focus on a caloric deficit. Diet and exercise will both play a role here. Since weight loss takes time and consistency, short workouts are a good option to stay on track when you run out of time. But for faster results, they shouldn’t be your first & only choice.
- Get a six pack: Having visible abs is about losing weight without losing muscle mass. Short workouts are a great option on days when you want to focus on cardio, but want to add a quick muscle pumping routine to your day.
- Build muscle: For bigger arms or glutes you’ll have to work a bit more than 10 minutes a day. However, on days when you don’t have time for a full workout, you can still squeeze in a good, focused pump in a just a couple of minutes with the help of isolation exercises. For inspiration check out best bodyweight exercises for each muscle group.
What results can you expect if you do a 10-minute workout every day?
If you live a sedentary lifestyle and are out of shape, you can improve your general fitness with 10-minute workouts. Focus on short bouts of vigorous exercise (over 90% of your HRmax) and stay consistent for at least a month. 3-5 times a week is enough.
For achieving specific fitness goals, it’s still better to have a training plan, such as this 12-week bodyweight training plan that you can do at home.
Speaking of a quick workout…Next time a commercial break is on TV, you could test yourself to see how many of these Burpee variations you can do with good form without stopping. 😉