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What's Up Magazine

Five Things to Consider in 2015

Jan 26, 2015 03:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds

1. Power Outage Outrage

Maybe the most expensive consequence of those frozen and falling tree branches and power lines this time of year is the wasted foods in our freezers and refrigerators. How do you decide what to toss; how do you decide how long is too long? You ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that’s how. They actually have figured all this stuff out.

Here are some things to throw out if they have been at above 40 degrees for more than two hours:

• Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish and soy or meat substitutes.
• Salads: meat tuna, shrimp, chicken or egg.
• Gravy, stuffing, broth.
• Pizza—with any topping.
• Soft cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack,    Ricotta, mozzarella.
• Dairy: milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt eggnog, soy milk.
• Baby formula if opened
• Rather obvious: eggs, custards, puddings, quiche.

Bottom Line: For details about what you can keep and for how long, visit And make sure you keep your mobile devices charged so you can look this stuff up.

2. Nighttime Light Exposure Suspected in Soaring Obesity Rate

That’s a headline that grabs your attention. Even more so when you consider the supposition is presented by the respected Endocrine Society.

Their premise is that the growth of waistlines over the past few decades coincides with a major societal change: increased exposure to electric lights during the night. Whether the source is massive-sized televisions, overhead lamps, glaring LED bulbs, street lights, or, once again, those good old hand-held devices, nighttime light exposure is disrupting circadian rhythms and likely fueling obesity rates, according to a review of past research published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrine Review.

Bottom Line: Maybe this is a reason to root for those power outages—or at least don’t curse the darkness when they occur.

3. Sitting is the work of the devil

Or so the health media community would have us believe. Hyperbole aside, we do sit too much. Saurabh Thosar, a postdoctoral researcher who has published on the subject, informs us that “American adults sit for approximately eight hours a day. The impairment in endothelial function is significant after just one hour of sitting.”

A study Thosar participated in at Indiana University found that sitting for a prolonged period of time can result in the diminished ability of blood vessels to expand. Muscles are not pumping blood to the heart as efficiently as they should.

But there is a remedy: Get up and move around. Researchers found that the ability of the arteries in the legs to expand was reduced by as much as 50 percent after just one hour of sitting. However, participants in the study who got up and walked for just five minutes of every hour sitting had no reduction in the function of their arteries during a three hour period.

Bottom Line: Want to kill two health worries with one stone? Start drinking lots of water while you work at your desk all day. The amount of trips to the lavatory should balance nicely with the sitting time. Just remember to take your time and stroll.

4. Texting Will Lead to a Generation in Chronic Pain

“Text-Neck” is what they call it. Millions of otherwise healthy young people spend one to two and a half hours each day looking down at their phones and mobile devices. Dr. Kenneth Hamsraj, a New York orthopedic surgeon and author of Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine, points out that the adult head weighs 10–12 pounds and the added pressure of looking down at electronics can cause irreversible injury. “Constant stress on the back of the neck can lead to degenerative disk disease which can be irreversible. Bone spurs start to grow and people get pinched nerves or herniated disks that can lead to really intense pain.”

And if the threat of constant pain isn’t enough of a deterrent, people who spend a lot of time looking down at their devices can also develop wrinkles near the neck and chin, a condition once called Blackberry Neck.

Bottom Line: When you are drinking all that water and standing up and walking to the restroom, for heaven’s sake leave your smartphone behind.

5. It isn’t all doom and gloom

The latest research studies, according to the Harvard Medical School publication Harvard Heart Letter, have given us a lot to celebrate:

Moderate alcohol consumption protects against heart disease and stroke. Drinking increases “good” HDL cholesterol, reduces blood clotting factors, and may make blood vessels less vulnerable to atherosclerosis.

Chocolate improves blood flow through the arteries. There’s also evidence that dark chocolate may lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.

Coffee drinkers may be less likely than coffee abstainers to have heart attacks, suffer strokes, or develop diabetes. Research also suggests that coffee is good for your brain and may lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or dementia.

Frequent sexual intercourse (twice a week) is associated with reduced risk of heart attack, research suggests. It also revs up the metabolism, may help regulate menstrual cycles, and give the immune system a boost. —S.H.

Bottom Line: Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow…we’re going to be just fine!