Cross those legs, ladies (and the gents, if you’re out there): New research has shown that meditating for just a couple of months could have a significant positive effect on your brain.
Research done by the Massachusetts General Hospital and set to be published in the January 30th issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging showed that eight weeks of meditation had measurable effects on parts of the brain that deal with stress, empathy, memory and sense of self. From this article in Science Daily:
The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress… None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.
Here’s the thing with me and meditating—maybe some of you can relate. I’ve done it, and in the right environment (like an ashram in India) I’ve stuck with it. But I’ve had a hard time implementing it into my everyday life outside of those controlled environments, despite my best intentions.
Do you meditate? Do you have advice? The research on it is so compelling that I’d really like to give this practice a proper shot.
The ladies at Jezebel are discussing a new study today that may finally prove that women who are not interested in sex actually have a measurable problem.
According to the study by Wayne State University in Detroit ”hypoactive sexual desire disorder” (HSDD) takes place in the brain. Here’s what the BBC is reporting on the findings:
[The study's] author, Dr Michael Diamond, said it suggested that HSDD was a genuine physical problem.
He recruited 19 women who had been diagnosed with the condition, and compared their brain responses with those of seven others using a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which can measure levels of activation in different parts of the brain by detecting increased blood flow.
The women were asked to watch a screen for half an hour, with everyday television programmes interspersed with erotic videos.
In the seven women who did not have the HSDD diagnosis, increased activity in the insular cortices – parts of the brain believed to be involved in the processing of emotion – could be seen. The same did not happen in the women with HSDD.
This is all very interesting, but we’re kind of with the skeptics on this one. Just because there is a “physical problem,” as Diamond suggests, does not mean that’s where the issue originated, does it? Any number of things could be at the root of a lower libido, from stress to trauma to depression. We’re not scientists, but couldn’t that then be affecting the brain’s response?
Do you we have an expert in the house? Or, hey, just someone with an opinion?
Before you set your alarm to squeeze in that two-hour morning workout, consider the latest findings on sleep and weight:
According to a new study, dieters who sleep less than 6 hours lose 55% less fat and 60% more muscle than those who get more than 8 hours.
Of course, we’re not telling you to skimp on exercise (and we don’t believe in “dieting”), but we’re always looking for more reasons to encourage sleep. And finding after finding indicates an inextricable relationship between sleep and weight.
Like many Americans, if you struggle to maintain a healthy body weight, not enough sleep could be part of the problem.
Have any of you noticed a relationship between your sleep and weight changes?
If you grew up in Canada like we did, you probably grew up loving David Suzuki. The environmentalist and educator has been ahead of so many issues for so long, so we were quite delighted to see that the foundation that bears his name has taken on cosmetics. Yesterday they announced the findings of their months-long research into cosmetics, and they’ve unveiled their own Dirty Dozen, which has a lot in common with the ingredients we warn about in the book (where we show you how to actually find these mysterious things on product labels, and in which products they appear). We like their list!
We’d love to see Canada pave the way for reform, but considering the head of the cosmetics industry in Canada is also a former government health official, we won’t be holding our breath.
You can download the complete PDF here. And read on to see what made their list:
1. BHA and BHT
2. Coal tar dyes
4. Dibutyl phthalate
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
8. PEG compounds
11. Sodium laureth sulfate
This is not the first time we talk about Tata Harper and her clean line by the same name, nor will it be the last. Last month Siobhan raved about her new favorite cleanser, and this past Friday I got a facial from the lady herself while she was visiting L.A. I’m feeling pretty lucky about it too.
Harper (who is seen above making lab glasses look chic) is the picture of an exciting entrepreneur. Sure, it helps that she’s jaw-drop beautiful and has luminescent skin—but it’s even cooler that before she was into beauty she was an industrial engineer, and that she spends half the week on her organic farm in Vermont where she grows many of her own ingredients.
During my facial she explained that it was her stepfather’s cancer diagnosis that set her down the clean path—when doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommended he stop using all of his products that contained synthetics and carcinogens (which was exactly all of them), a dumbstruck Harper had her a-ha moment. Since then she spent six years formulating her perfectly clean line, which launched a few months back.
Is it expensive? Yes, but it is also genuinely high-performance stuff. It won’t be for everyone but if you are in search of luxurious, clean products that deliver, do check them out. The line wasn’t out when we wrote the book but you can be sure that we will continue to review individual products as we try them… In fact, I left my facial with a few pretty bottles in hand, and I look forward to testing them all.
Image of Harper via her site