3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon French’s mustard
Salt and pepper to taste cayenne
optional ingredients: Half-n-half (a petite splash), relish (a touch)
(from Deborah Kotz, US News and World Report)
Coinciding with the first week of summer, a study published today underscores the importance of getting adequate amounts of sunlight for its vitamin D-boosting benefits. The research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows that those with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes over an eight-year period compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. The researchers cite “decreased outdoor activity” as one reason that people may become deficient in vitamin D. Another recent study found an increased risk of heart attacks in those with low vitamin D levels.
In the winter, it’s impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun if you live north of Atlanta because the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere. But summer is a great time to stock up on the nutrient. When the sun’s UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place that enables skin cells to manufacture vitamin D. If you’re fair skinned, experts say going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun—in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen—will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of the vitamin. Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D, and many folks don’t get enough of the nutrient from dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified milk.
The government’s dietary recommendations are 200 IUs a day up to age 50, 400 IUs to age 70, and 600 IUs over 70. But many experts believe that these recommendations are far too low to maintain healthful vitamin D levels. They advocate for supplementation in the winter of about 2,000 IUs per day and a dose of daily sunshine in the summer.
Given all the upsides of basking at least briefly in the summer sun, many experts now worry that public-health messages warning about skin cancer have gone overboard in getting people to cover up and seek the shade. U.S.News got in touch with Robyn Lucas, an epidemiologist at Australian National University who led a study published in the February issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology. Her finding: Far more lives are lost to diseases caused by a lack of sunlight than to those caused by too much.
Have we gone too far in promoting protection from the sun?
Possibly. Sun protection messages arose in response to rapidly increasing rates of skin cancers, and they were an essential public-health message. But we now recognize that some sun exposure is important for health, at the very least, to maintain healthful vitamin D levels. (Sunscreen blocks out nearly all UV radiation.) Taking this into account, the Cancer Council of Australia has eased its sun protection message a little over the last few years and now recommends that if you’re out in the sun for relatively short periods, with a UV index less than 3, which indicates a moderate amount of UV rays hitting your area on a given day, then sunscreen and other sun protection (like hats and protective clothing) are not required. Beyond this, I believe we all need a little unprotected time in the sun during the middle hours of the day when the sun is at its highest and UV-B rays can penetrate the atmosphere.
How much sun is it safe to get without sunscreen?
It’s difficult to quantify how much since skin pigmentation affects how much radiation your skin absorbs: The darker the skin, the more it’s protected against skin cancer but the less able it is to absorb UV-B rays. It also depends on how much skin is exposed and the time of day. If you’re fair skinned and sunning yourself outside in a bathing suit at noon, you only need a few minutes without sunscreen. If you’re already tan or of Hispanic origin, you need maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person, but we need more research on this because the studies that have suggested this have been small. We’re starting a study later this year to establish how much skin pigmentation, clothing, sunscreen, and seasonal change affect vitamin D levels, so we should know more about all of this in the near future.
Can I make vitamin D driving in my car on a bright, sunny day on my way to work?
No. For one thing, UV radiation doesn’t penetrate glass; that’s why you can’t get a burn or tan if you’re driving with your windows closed. (The heat you feel is infrared radiation from the sun, which doesn’t have any health impact beyond making you overheated or causing sunstroke if you get an excessive amount.) Even if you’re driving in a convertible, though, you probably won’t get a good dose of UV-B rays if you’re driving in the early morning when the sun is still low in the sky. Taking a stroll during lunchtime is your best bet.
On a recent site visit to a client, I asked the wellness leader at this manufacturing location about his absenteeism rate. He shook his head and said, “It’s pretty non-existent.”
And turnover? “Same.”
When walking into the factory itself, you get the sense of a positive culture immediately. It’s in the employee’s eye contact, the easy conversations, and spontaneous laughter around.
While chatting with him just before lunch, an employee came in the door, signed in, said hello, and went back into the plant. After he left I asked, “Is he just now coming in?”
“Yeah, his shift doesn’t start until four, but he’s coming in to hang with the guys before it starts.”
This is exactly the kind of positive workplace culture that should lead to greater productivity, over and above the flatlining absenteeism and turnover. In fact, the plant manager also let me know that their production schedule had increased dramatically over the past six months. Although orders were way up, they hadn’t been able to fill the slots needed to meet the demand. Instead, employees are putting in overtime to the tune of six and seven days per week.
Despite this extra work, the employees were upbeat, positive, contributing to the common goal, and showing up to work with no one grumbling.
Clearly they established a healthy culture reflected in decreased absenteeism and increased productivity within an environment that employees want to come to work in. This is the ideal. But how did this happen?
The most visible element of their wellness culture is the ping pong room. It began with a single table just less than a year ago, and has expanded to three tables over time. In this room, the bulletin board contains the brackets for the competitions and the walls are painted with images of hip ping pong players. To encourage participation for those who are not as skilled, they have established a “developmental league.”
My conversation with the plant manager frequently returned to the fun and engaging table tennis challenges, but what made this cultural transformation work was not about the tables at all. They’re just a specific instance of a general principle.
Soccer Leagues Are Nice Too, But Insufficient In Themselves For The Same Reason
For example, we witnessed a similar cultural change at another manufacturing workplace in Europe. They could not care less about ping pong, but they loved soccer and set up four-person teams in rotating leagues that swapped around periodically. Almost everyone played. They couldn’t wait to get in, play and talk smack with their mates about this form of competitive comradery.
Absenteeism? Negligible. Turnover? Non-existent. Productivity? Consistently high.
In both cases, the tables and teams were necessary but by no means sufficient to bring about the cultural change. There were far more important elements at work that were not so obvious. For example, behind the scenes there was a clear commitment to the health of the employees from the middle and upper management. This commitment was expressed in two-way communication by reaching out to employees, gathering their thoughts, then taking those comments seriously. There were no punitive measures to compel participation. In fact, employees played over their allotted lunch hours and rules were relaxed around getting back to work.
Traditional thinking would consider all of this as sloppy work practices because the employees weren’t showing up exactly on time, fun is considered frivolous, and communications are more horizontal than top-down. However, the payback on productivity and good attitudes went well above any stray minutes missed here and there.
Even though the teams and camaraderie were the most visible expression of these healthy culture examples, had the sites not implemented key elements of support, communication, and common purpose, the ping pong rooms and soccer fields would have remained unused.
The bottom line is that a positive worksite ecosystem must be grown first, regardless of your field of play.
Bottom line? Drink as little as 1 diet drink per day, and you could get brained!
Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests.
They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
(Reuters Health) – Chronic lower back pain is equally likely to improve with yoga classes as with physical therapy, according to a new study.
Twelve weeks of yoga lessened pain and improved function in people with low back pain as much as physical therapy sessions over the same period.
About 10 percent of U.S. adults experience low back pain, but not many are happy with the available treatments, Saper and colleagues write in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The American College of Physicians advised in February that most people with low back pain should try non-drug treatments like superficial heat or massage before reaching for medications (reut.rs/2strnGw).
Physical therapy is the most common non-drug treatment for low back pain prescribed by doctors, according to Saper and colleagues. Yoga is also backed by some guidelines and studies as a treatment option, but until now no research has compared the two.
For the new study, the researchers recruited 320 adults with chronic low back pain. The participants were racially diverse and tended to have low incomes.
The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One group took part in a 12-week yoga program designed for people with low back pain. Another took part in a physical therapy program over the same amount of time. People in the third group received a book with comprehensive information about low back pain and follow-up information every few weeks.
At the start of the study, participants reported – on average – moderate to severe functional impairment and pain. More than two-thirds were using pain medications.
To track participants function and pain during the study, the researchers surveyed them at six, 12, 26, 40 and 52 weeks using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ).
Scores on the RMDQ measure for function declined – meaning function was improving – by 3.8 points over the 12 weeks in the yoga group, compared to 3.5 points in the physical therapy group. Participants who received education had an average RMDQ score decline of 2.5.
Statistically, participants ended up with similar functional improvements whether they underwent yoga, physical therapy or education.
More people in the yoga and physical therapy groups ended up with noticeable improvements in function, however.
People would feel a noticeable improvement with a four to five point drop on the RMDQ, write Dr. Douglas Chang, of the University of California, San Diego and Dr. Stefan Kertesz of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in an accompanying editorial.
They write that 48 percent of yoga participants and 37 percent of physical therapy participants reached that goal, compared to 23 percent of people who were in the education group.
For achieving noticeable differences in pain, physical therapy was again no better or worse than yoga. After 12 weeks, people in the yoga group were 21 percentage points less likely to used pain medications than those in the education group. That difference was 22 percentage points for physical therapy versus education.
The improvements among the people in yoga and physical therapy groups lasted throughout the year, the researchers found.
“If they remain the same after one year, it’s a good bet that their improvement will continue on,” Saper told Reuters Health.
One treatment method won’t help all or even most patients, wrote Chang and Kertesz in their editorial.
“Nevertheless, as Saper and colleagues have shown, yoga offers some persons tangible benefit without much risk,” they write. “In the end, however, it represents one tool among many.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2tlqWyc Annals of Internal Medicine, online June 19, 2017.
Known as poor man’s food in Italy, this meal is fit to serve a king!
Are you trying to stop drinking soda? This drink is a nice alternative and is much lower in sugar and the perfect beverage for a picnic on a warm summer day.