Wellness Wednesday – 3/10/21
Let’s face it: some health and wellness advice can get a bit redundant. Eat your vegetables, sleep enough, drink more water. This week, let’s shake things up. We’ve got some interesting links in the lineup that include surprising, out of the ordinary scientific research on mushrooms, reading, music and more. Buckle up and get ready for some weird science.
Eat More Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D and zinc, and are known to lower blood pressure while giving your immune system a boost. A recent research study also found that increasing the amount of mushrooms in your diet increases vital nutrients, while having “minimal to no impact on overall calories, sodium or saturated fat.” Specifically, an 84-gram serving (described by researchers as “five medium white mushrooms”) “resulted in an increase in potassium, copper, selenium, riboflavin and niacin, but had no impact on calories, carbohydrate, fat or sodium.”
If you’re looking to add these nutrient-packed fungi into your diet, here’s 54 mushroom recipe ideas that are worth trying.
Hold on, I’m not done with mushrooms yet. If you won’t eat mushrooms, like my mom, what about living in one? Scientists have developed a “mushroom brick” that can help architects and engineers fight climate change. Check out this article by Justin Calma, and the included video about these revolutionary mushroom bricks.
“Materials made with mycelium, the fungal network from which mushrooms grow … produce far less planet-heating carbon dioxide than traditional materials like cement,” Calma writes. “An added bonus is that mushrooms are biodegradable, so they leave behind less harmful waste than traditional building materials. Mushrooms can even help with clean-up efforts, feeding off things that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill, like sawdust or agricultural waste.”
Most of us have a general idea of what our body needs to survive and remain healthy. Nonetheless, we often still lack vital vitamins and antioxidants, (like us New Englanders and vitamin D in the winter) and our body actually tells us when it needs a boost. Refer to these five signs your body is missing key nutrients — for you might realize your body is missing something. I learned that bleeding gums means you may need more vitamin C, and skin redness or irritation is linked to consuming sugar, salt and refined grains.
More Books, More Music, Better Brains
Now moving from the physical to the mental. Who doesn’t love to read, right? Whether you read for pleasure, or read to learn, reading isn’t just an intake of information — it actually rewires your brain. This article from Inc.com found that there is increasing scientific research supporting the fact that reading “doesn’t just fill your brain with information; it actually changes the way your brain works for the better as well.” One of my favorite things in the article was the fact that reading exercises our ability to empathize: “If a character in your book is playing tennis, areas of your brain that would light up if you were physically out there on the court yourself are activated.”
Reading exercises your brain, and music connects it. Another recent research study found that long term musical training resulted in increased brain connectivity. The study, described here, found that “musicians also had stronger white matter connections between auditory regions and lobes involved in various types of high-level processing. Musicians that began their training at a younger age had stronger structural connections than musicians with a later start. These results demonstrate how experience shapes the brain, especially early in life, and how enhanced musical skills are represented in our brain.” Knowing this, I might need to tell my older brother that my little nephew due in July does not need to be a wide receiver, but a jazz musician.
Ease Loneliness With Rituals
All this talk about our brains reminds me that we are nearing one year of COVID-19 lockdowns. Quarantine and social distancing have altered everyone’s lives, and for those living alone or missing loved ones, the past year has been especially difficult. If you are experiencing increased loneliness, read about this study that found that odd rituals can help. From dunking a tea bag repeatedly to licking the cream off an Oreo, researchers found these unique rituals alleviated loneliness in participants. With daylight savings coming this weekend, don’t forget that brighter, longer days are ahead.
Good Reads and Listens
Get Walkin’. Dust off your treadmill and get ready to try out the latest workout trend: the 12-3-30. This is a simple workout that guarantees significant calorie burn. All you need to do is set your treadmill to an incline of 12, walk at a speed of 3 miles per hour, and continue this for 30 minutes.
Horror Buffs. Have you found yourself drawn to horror films lately? This article from Psychology.com discusses the reasoning behind why people are drawn to horror movies during the ongoing pandemic. Check it out, then go watch Ari Aster’s Midsommar!
Listen to Trees. For a unique way to relax, check out Tree.fm, which allows you to listen to the sounds of forests from around the world. It’s a great way to take a break from work, lose your eyes and travel to peaceful nature in far away countries right at your desk.