Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Attractiveness Leads to Happiness...Make That Botox Appointment Now!

Last month a colleague of mine sent me a paper published by the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany.  The paper looked at data from the US, UK, Canada and Germany and found that personal beauty (rated by a researcher on a 1-5 scale) leads to greater levels of happiness (measured by a quality of life questionnaire).  In fact with every increase in personal beauty, there was an incremental increase in happiness in men and even more so in women.  Much of this relationship can be explained by the fact that personal beauty improves other things, including income potential, likelihood of having a significant other, likelihood of having a strong social network.  But even when these things were accounted for, personal beauty was still strongly associated with happiness in women.

I'm not a psychologist, but I have always been intrigued by the research on happiness.  Recently, there was a great overview in The Economist (of all places) on how happiness is greatest early in life and then late in the life.  In the middle, happiness is low.  The data on antidepressant use in the US mirrors this same finding.  Approximately 12% of young woman take an antidepressant but 22% of women ages 45-65 yr take one.  

What if one solution to greater happiness in those middle years is merely investing in one's personal beauty?  Maybe a new outfit, a few sticks of Botox or Juviderm, a bootcamp class or personal trainer?  

Here's a scenario I'm just throwing out there:

SHE: Gosh, I'm feeling more 'glass half empty' these days.
HE: Honey, what you need is a partial highlight and oxygen facial.  I just bought a few Groupons that you can use to get discounts on both of these things.  
SHE: I feel happier already.
HE: I'm sure you do, because I am familiar with the research showing that you will be happier if you look more beautiful.  And I know that "happy wife means happy life".  Money spent on these treatments is just an investment in our overall well-being as a household and that's money well spent. 

Feel free to forward this along...and you're welcome!  ;)


Friday, April 22, 2011

Check Out This Magazine

When anyone mentions the name "Martha Stewart", I immediately have feelings of inadequacy.  The way she effortlessly frosts a ridiculously beautiful cake while fashioning some doily out of crystallized sugar, all the while her  dogs are all perfect and not crapping on her carpet.  Not my life.  

But I just discovered Whole Living. It's been around in some capacity since 1974, when it was called New Age Journal.  Then it was rebranded as Body+Soul in 2002 and acquired by Martha's media company in 2004.  A year ago, the name was changed to Whole Living. 

Don't let the former name, New Age Journal, scare you.  There is nothing new age about this mag.  It's a combination of fitness, health, beauty and green living.  The recipes are easy to follow with pretty pictures (and nutrition information).  Plus, the website has a bunch of good stuff.  Really, it's the closest I've ever felt (and ever will) to Martha Stewart.  

Here's the best part...you can actually leave the magazine out in the open!  I have to cancel my Women's Health  because I don't think my 3 pre-teen daughters need to know "26 New Tips to Drive Your Man Wild".

Any other magazines out there that folks recommend?   

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Hard to Get Fat Eating Nuts

My friends often ask me what I do at my job.  I don't see patients, I don't stand in a laboratory playing with test tubes, and I don't cook/serve people food.  So what do I do all day?  Well today, I looked at pictures of feces.

I know, I know, it's SO glamorous.  You want to be me.  I get that a lot.  
Why was I looking at such pictures?  Because I was reading a new research study on nuts.  Turns out a good portion of nuts are not digested after you eat them.  So the undigested nuts come out the other end, so to speak.  So far, this has been shown for almonds and most recently, pistachios.  This was presented at the Dr. Dork conference I attended last weekend. 

That's not to say it isn't true for all nuts.  Other nuts just haven't been tested yet.  

What does this mean?  It means that the calories that are listed on the labels for nuts are an over-estimation.  In the case of almonds, there are about 150 calories for 20 of those suckers as indicated on the label.  But in reality, they only provide 120-140 calories.  Why do the calories vary?  Because as it turns out, the amount of undigested nuts in feces varies person to person.  It could relate to differences in the digestive process between people, the speed at which food moves from end-to-end, and how well the nuts are chewed in the mouth. 

So if you feed someone nuts and then collect their poop and then magnify the poop so you can see it up real close and personal, there will be little pieces of nuts in there and then scientists will take pictures and cut and paste the pictures into a slide show and present it at a meeting in a room full of Dr. Dorks hanging on the edge of their seats all excited to see microscopic poop. 

Jealous?  ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Research in Nutrition Science

In the past 6 weeks, I've been to 2 scientific conferences on nutrition.  One was targeted to physicians to get them up to speed on nutrition topics and the other was for Dr. Dorks like myself to present new research.  As you can imagine, there is lots of stuff going on in nutrition these days.  Here are a few of the learnings from these meetings:

  1. There is a LOT of concern over people eating too much of specific vitamins and minerals.  Bad things could happen....like cancer.  It seems that folks get into trouble when they combine highly fortified foods and supplements.  For example, eating a bowl of Total cereal, taking a multivitamin and then having a sports bar will exceed the recommended upper limit for many nutrients.  It would be wise to just choose one of these.  So on the days that you eat a bowl of Total cereal, you may consider skipping the vitamin and sports bar.  Teenage boys are notorious for over-eating certain vitamins so if you have one of these creatures living in your home, you may want to mention this. 
  2. Dr. Dorks all agree that it's good to have more healthy bacteria growing in your colon (the good bacteria are called bifidobacteria or lactobacillus).  New research suggests that the best way to get more healthy bacteria in there is by eating the bacteria's favorite food....fiber.  This is very counter-intuitive right?  You would think that eating the good bacteria would be the best way.  But alas, it appears that is not true.  
  3. 90% of all male Dr. Dorks wear the same outfit:  khaki pants, light blue button-down shirt, navy blue jacket.     
  4. At least 30% of the Dr. Dorks at these meetings were overweight or obese, providing evidence that it is really darn hard to attain and maintain a healthy body weight, even when you know how.  
  5. This should come as no surprise, but people that eat the least amount of processed food are skinnier and healthier.  There was much discussion around this with scientists pointing fingers in all directions.  Some feel that the obesity epidemic was caused by women going back to work and relying more on processed foods.  Others are blaming the previous generation for not properly instructing their offspring on how to cook.  And there are still folks blaming air conditioning for the rise in body weights.  
 I will post more learnings later this week....