Of the 25 largest cities in the United States, Washington, DC, takes the dubious prize as being the country’s capital of insomnia.
That’s the result of a recent survey by Calm, a San Francisco-based purveyor of meditation and sleep apps. The company based its results on an analysis of its own user data, which showed that DC residents were more likely to interact with Calm’s sleep-connected content.
And yes, people in Seattle really are sleepless, according to the survey: That city ranked second.
Despite its up-all-night reputation, New York City ranks only 21st on the insomnia list. The city where people get the best-quality shuteye? El Paso.
Above are the insomnia top 10.
Zinc Deficiency Linked to Higher Blood Pressure
Having lower-than-normal levels of zinc may contribute to high blood pressure, according to a study at Wright State University in Ohio.
Researchers analyzed data from two groups of mice, one in which the animals were deficient in zinc and another made up of healthy controls. Only those in the first group developed hypertension.
Some of the zinc-deficient mice were then switched to a zinc-rich diet partway through the study. Once their blood levels of this essential mineral rose to adequate levels, their blood pressure readings started to drop.
What’s more, deficient mice who received more zinc started passing more sodium in their urine—a key factor in maintaining proper blood pressure. It has been known that people with kidney disease, as well as those with type 2 diabetes, are more prone to zinc deficiency.
Results were published in the American Journal of Physiology–Renal Physiology.
Looking Good with Apple Cider Vinegar
Long prized by chefs and those looking to lose weight, apple cider vinegar has made its way from the kitchen counter to the bathroom vanity. Women have discovered how ACV can replace dozens of beauty products that just don’t get the job done.
“With no chemicals, additives or synthetic materials, apple cider vinegar can help you achieve true lasting beauty in the comfort of your own home, replacing the expensive, chemical-laden alternatives that can wreak havoc on your skin and do more harm than good,” says Britt Brandon, author of Apple Cider Vinegar for Health (Adams).
She suggests toning your face with a cotton ball soaked in a half-cup each of vinegar mixed with warm water to help remove dirt and dead cells. Or you can soak a facecloth in same mixture, wring it out, and rub to cleanse clogged pores. Brandon suggests rinsing and reapplying “until the skin looks and feels refreshed and clear.”
Swap out the warm water for cool to help soothe skin that has spent too much time catching rays. Brandon says ACV “alleviates the tightening and burning” caused by sunburn.
Don’t forget the rest of your head. “Apple cider vinegar is kind of magic when it comes to hair,” says Suzy Scherr, author of The Apple Cider Vinegar Companion (Countryman).
Scherr uses it twice a month to remove shampoo buildup, adding that ACV also acts as a natural detangler and general revitalizer. She suggests combining a cup each of vinegar and water in a squeeze or spray bottle, then pouring or spraying the mixture into your hair after shampooing, massaging it in, and letting it “sit for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly with water.”
Excess Energy Fuels Cancer Risk?
Researchers have long known that excess body fat is a risk factor for cancer development. Now they are starting to explore another possible reason for this connection: energy overload.
Normally, cells are subject to limits on how much they can proliferate. Cancer overcomes these limitations, allowing cell proliferation to go out of control.
A theoretical study published in Evolution, Medicine and Public Health proposes that cells gaining access to excessive amounts of energy—which happens in conditions such as chronic inflammation, diabetes and obesity—might provide an important key to understanding how cancer develops and progresses.
The study team was led by John Pepper, PhD, a biologist with the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Prevention and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He and his colleagues, using a computer model, found that flooding tissues with energy did cause an increase in cell production.
Pepper says, “One question is, how abundant are the resources cells need for proliferation? If they are more abundant in some tissues, that might be what evolves into cancer.”
US Women Lead the World in Running
American marathoners who are women
The average for all surveyed nations
Highest growth rate in participation worldwide by age range, for people 90–99
In Sickness and In Health
It has been more than two decades since scientists first realized that endocrine disruptors, chemicals that interfere with the body’s hormonal systems, are a significant health hazard. What’s more, such toxins are found not only in polluted water and air but also in such everyday conveniences as plastic bottles and personal-care products.
The problem seems overwhelming, but Leonardo Trasande, MD, tackles it head-on in Sicker, Fatter, Poorer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Trasande, an expert in children’s environmental health, says endocrine disruptors are “laying down multiple paths of disease that will impact our children and their children decades into the future.”
It’s a large claim. However, the author backs it up with research results—in 2014, Trasande was asked to organize a scientific working group on the subject—and stories of his own patients. For example, in describing the case of a nine-year-old, Trasande writes that “her tendency toward obesity and type 2 diabetes may have occurred due to her exposure to chemicals.”
In the last part of the book, Trasande offers advice on how to avoid endocrine disruptors, including eating organic produce whenever possible, and on making one’s voice heard in the public square to reduce the amounts of these chemicals that enter the environment.
That raises the question: How much control do we have over our health? The answer: Quite a bit, according to Alberto Villoldo, PhD, the author of Grow a New Body (Hay House).
Villoldo, a medical anthropologist, left his job at San Francisco State University to spend time among the shamans of South America. Several years later, his own health was severely compromised; offered a choice between going to Miami for treatment or returning to the rainforest, Villoldo decided to “put my future where my mouth was” and went back to the shamans.
Villoldo argues that the discovery of agriculture and grain-growing thousands of years ago put us on the road to where we are today, saturated in the sugar that hijacks our brains and cuts us off from our own inner resources. “We need to bring our connection to Spirit and natural forces back into the healing equation,” he writes.
Like many other authors, Villoldo supports detoxifying the gut with probiotics; practicing intermittent fasting; switching to a high-fat diet; and consuming dietary all-stars like berries, turmeric and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. He also urges the reader to vanquish stress by overcoming fear: “Our fear can make us sick,” Villoldo cautions.
Where Grow a New Body differs from other books of this type lies in what the author calls our need “to break free of worn-out beliefs”; this involves doing the deep soul work necessary to heal our deepest wounds and move past our fear of death. It isn’t a fast or easy process, but one that Villoldo says can help the reader “become the author of a more creative and powerful story that defines your life journey.”
Substances, such as dopamine and serotonin, that transport nerve impulses between cells.
Inactivity Can Kill Senior Mobility
Being inactive and carrying excessive amounts of weight can put mobility at risk for seniors.
That’s the conclusion reached by scientists as George Washington University in Washington, DC. “We found that even for healthy older people, prevention of obesity and an active lifestyle were very important in maintaining health and function as time goes on,” says Loretta DiPietro, PhD, MPH, a professor at GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
DiPietro’s team examined data from 135,220 volunteers, ages 50 to 71, who were participating in an ongoing study of diet and health. Each person’s weight, activity level and lifestyle factors were recorded, after which the team followed them for approximately 10 years.
While none of the participants had problems at the beginning, 37% of the women and 21% of the men had trouble walking when the study period ended. According to results published in the International Journal of Obesity, volunteers who were the most overweight and least active were most likley to have mobility issues.
My dad didn’t think he should have to turn on the air conditioning when we had a swimming pool in our backyard; it was our built-in air conditioner.
—Olympic Gold Medalist Summer Sanders