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Get sleep, lose weight

By Nathan Mallett
| www.cos-mag.com

Get sleep, lose weight

Chicken wings, ding dongs and super-sized drive-thru binges may not be the only factors contributing to our collective packing on of the pounds. A lack of quality time in the sack appears to be an overlooked cause of the obesity epidemic — at least that’s what one health expert is warning...

More Health Page tidbits:

Another good reason to enjoy that second glass of red wine

Beware of fakers

You can be the master of the stairs

The wind chill factor

Get sleep, lose weight

Chicken wings, ding dongs and super-sized drive-thru binges may not be the only factors contributing to our collective packing on of the pounds. A lack of quality time in the sack appears to be an overlooked cause of the obesity epidemic — at least that’s what one health expert is warning. According to Dr. Julie C. Lumeng, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Center for Human Growth and Development, sleep disruption negatively affects how the body regulates fat storage, appetite and glucose metabolism. And this correlation between lack of sleep and obesity is even stronger in children, says Lumeng. It’s not just kids that are affected — even modest reductions in sleep durations are associated with significant increases in obesity  among adults. “This suggests that an increased risk of [being] overweight is yet another potential consequence of short sleep duration,” she says. Typically, adults need between seven to eight hours of quality shut-eye per night. 

Drink to your health

As if you needed an excuse to enjoy that second glass of red wine. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia believe that your favourite Cabernet, Merlot or Shiraz may actually steel your stomach against food-borne illnesses. According to Azlin Mustapha, associate professor of food science at UM, and Atreyee Das, a doctoral student at the school, many types of red wine, and even grape juice, have anti-microbial properties that defeat food-borne pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and H. pylori. Mustapha and Das point out that a moderate amount of red wine may even actually minimize the effects of a food-borne illness once a person is infected. Researchers suggest that the red wine’s ethanol, pH levels and reseveratrol, the substance that gives some grapes their red coloring, are responsible for the health benefits of vino. Too bad if your pallet leans towards a nice Chardonnay — numerous white wines were tested, but none yielded positive results, the researchers said. 

Beware of fakers

Sure your kid says he’s sick, but is he really? Sometimes it can be hard for moms and dads to tell if junior is actually down with the latest bug or if he’s just looking to ditch class and spend a little quality time with his new video games. That’s why this cold and flu season, the folks at WebMD came up with a list of things to look for the next time your school-aged kid tries to put himself on the sick list before class. First of all, while it’s hard for kids to fake a runny nose or a fever, teenage goldbricks often present with symptoms that don’t stick around for long. For example, watch for a hacking cough that seems nearly fatal at the breakfast table but mysteriously disappears after they’ve missed the school bus. Other budding thespians may complain of a range of hard to disprove maladies like a sore throat, queasy stomach, headache, dizziness, etc. When confronted with a combination of these symptoms, be skeptical. Also, experts point out that truly sick kids usually want to sleep the day away — if yours is still wide awake mid-way through the second or third DVD of the morning, chances are you’ve been had. Finally, WebMD recommends parents think about the reasons their child might want to pull a Ferris Bueller. Could he be trying to duck out of a big test or presentation he hasn’t prepped for? Perhaps he’s avoiding a class bully. Ask questions and be on guard. 

You can be the master of the stairs

Want a get-fit plan made up of a lot of easy steps? Health experts say that you don’t have to look much further than the nearest staircase to find one. According to researchers from the U.K., climbing stairs for as little as seven minutes every day could reduce your risk of developing heart disease by about 60 per cent. Even just simply taking the staircase everyday instead of the elevator at work, school or the mall can offer noticeable health benefits. Frank Eves, a health expert from the University of Birmingham, found that shoppers at a London-area shopping mall were more than twice as likely to take the stairs when they were reminded of the fitness potential of climbing. The experiment was modeled on a 2002 initiative at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta in which stair use was promoted to employees. Experts warn not to go canceling your gym membership just yet — unless you’re climbing six or seven flights of stairs a day, it won’t rival the   advantages of a proper cardio fitness regimen. However, every little bit helps, especially for those who don’t otherwise exercise. “An overweight person might not want to do aerobics or go swimming, but stair climbing is very doable,” says Michael Pratt, a health promotion officer at the CDC. “You can exercise without even really thinking about it.” 

Brrrrr!

If you’ve spent more than one winter in the Great White North, you know all about the concept of the wind chill factor. But what you may not know is

why

a stiff winter gust makes a moderately chilly day feel like you’re in Siberia. According to Environment Canada, moving air takes heat from exposed skin faster than stationary air. So a 40 km/h wind on a -10 C day will remove warmth from the human body just as fast as if it was -20 C with no wind. The first wind chill factor calculations, originally called wind chill equivalent temperatures, were developed during the Second World War by technicians with the U.S. Army who were trying to develop warmer clothing for GIs. Since then, meteorologists, pond hockey players and anyone who spends time outside in the winter have been paying attention to the wind chill factor. Environment Canada revised its wind chill model in 2001 to focus on how the face loses heat rather than the rest of the body. According to the CBC, the coldest wind chill recorded in Canada was at Pelly Bay, Nunavut, in 1975 when 56 km/h winds made the temperature of ‑51 C feel more like ‑92 C. And you don’t have to live North of 60 to know that’s cold. 

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