Summary of “The science behind the Mediterranean diet might be flawed thanks to a retraction of a major study”

In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published a landmark study that found that people put on a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower chance of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease than people on a low-fat diet.
Yesterday the journal retracted the study-providing a new reason for skepticism about how effective the now-popular Mediterranean diet really is.
One was the 2013 NEJM article on the Mediterranean diet.
The study was supposed to randomly assign participants to either the Mediterranean diet with a minimum of four extra tablespoons of olive oil a day, the same diet but with at least an ounce of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet.
The end result is that the study’s overall findings are still accurate in one sense: There is a correlation between the Mediterranean diet and better health outcomes.
In another sense, the paper was entirely wrong: the Mediterranean diet does not cause better health outcomes.
This retraction is another blow to the public perception of the Mediterranean diet as a touchstone for healthy eating, weight loss, longevity, and disease-risk mitigation.
A major study in 2017 found that if you adjusted for income, the diet doesn’t actually improve heart health: Only wealthy people get the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Feel Busy All the Time? There’s an Upside to That.”

Feeling busy – that is, perceiving oneself to be a busy person – thus makes individuals feel that they’re prized, important members of society.
We found that the perception of oneself as a busy person – having what we call a busy mindset – can actually increase people’s self-control via a boost in self-importance.
Across eight studies, we activated a busy mindset through various means.
In some studies, we exposed participants to messaging that subtly suggested that they were busy individuals.
While half of our studies focused on food consumption, we also examined the effect of a busy mindset on other types of everyday decisions, such as exercising versus relaxing, or spending money versus saving it for retirement.
Compared with the control group, participants who had been primed to feel busy were more interested in completing additional surveys.
As predicted, a dampened sense of self-importance eliminated the self-control effect: Just like the control group, participants who felt busy but decidedly not important preferred to receive a brownie rather than an apple as a reward for participating in the study.
On random days over three weeks of the summer term, near the food stations we posted signs that said: “Good to go, for busy students!” On other days, the posters said: “Good to go, for summer students!” On other days we used no sign at all.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The “marshmallow test” said patience was a key to success. A new replication tells us s’more.”

How the new study changes the story Over the years, the marshmallow test papers have received a lot of criticism.
The marshmallow test in the NIH data was capped at seven minutes, whereas the original study had kids wait for a max of 15.
Most of the predictive power of the marshmallow test can be accounted for kids just making it 20 seconds before they decide to eat the treat.
Perhaps it’s an indication that the marshmallow experiment is not a great test of delay of gratification or some other underlying measure of self-control.
What the latest marshmallow test paper shows is that home life and intelligence are very important for determining both delaying gratification and later achievement.
Reducing income inequality is a more daunting task than teaching kids patience.
Increasing IQ is a more daunting task than teaching kids patience.
Watts says his new marshmallow test study doesn’t mean it’s impossible to design preschool interventions that have long-lasting effects.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Columbia and Yale scientists just found the spiritual part of our brains”

So the human search for meaning recently took a physical turn as Columbia and Yale University researchers isolated the place in our brains that processes spiritual experiences.
In a new study, published in Cerebral Cortex on May 29, neuroscientists explain how they generated “Personally relevant” spiritual experiences in a diverse group of subjects and scanned their brains while these experiences were happening.
“Although studies have linked specific brain measures to aspects of spirituality, none have sought to directly examine spiritual experiences, particularly when using a broader, modern definition of spirituality that may be independent of religiousness,” the study explains.
“We observed in the spiritual condition, as compared with the neutral-relaxing condition, reduced activity in the left inferior parietal lobule, a result that suggests the IPL may contribute importantly to perceptual processing and self-other representations during spiritual experiences,” the study explains.
These changes in the brain may help explain why, during spiritual experiences, the barrier between the self and others can be reduced or even eliminated altogether.
“Spiritual experiences are robust states that may have profound impacts on people’s lives,” explains Yale psychiatry and neuroscience professor Marc Potenza, in a statement about the work.
Spiritual experiences involve “Pronounced shifts in perception [that] buffer the effects of stress,” the study says.
By cultivating spiritual experiences in addition to strengthening our intellectual abilities, people can lead emotionally richer lives and develop more open minds, scientists say.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Problem with “Learning Styles””

Indeed the notion that people learn in different ways is such a pervasive belief in American culture that there is a thriving industry dedicated to identifying learning styles and training teachers to meet the needs of different learners.
A recent review of the scientific literature on learning styles found scant evidence to clearly support the idea that outcomes are best when instructional techniques align with individuals’ learning styles.
Most previous investigations on learning styles focused on classroom learning, and assessed whether instructional style impacted outcomes for different types of learners.
It also raises the possibility that learning styles do matter-perhaps a match between students’ individual learning styles and their study strategies is the key to optimal outcomes.
More than 400 students completed the VARK learning styles evaluation and reported details about the techniques they used for mastering material outside of class.
Given the prevailing belief that learning styles matter, and the fact many students blame poor academic performance on the lack of a match between their learning style and teachers’ instructional methods, one might expect students to rely on techniques that support their personal learning preferences when working on their own.
Do we persist in our belief that learning styles matter, and ignore these tried and true techniques?
The popularity of the learning styles mythology may stem in part from the appeal of finding out what “Type of person” you are, along with the desire to be treated as an individual within the education system.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Yogurt Healthy?”

Whenever I’ve been prescribed antibiotics, I’ve always been told to eat a yogurt so that the antibiotics don’t eat up all the “Good” bacteria in my system and leave me with a yeast infection.
Breath bad? According to a 2005 study, you should eat six ounces of yogurt a day.
A pair of new studies suggest there might be something about yogurt after all.
It’s not really clear how the yogurt was reducing the inflammation.
Childs told me it’s not really clear how often people have to eat yogurt or probiotics to see benefits from them.
“The results were mixed and not uniformly positive, and the elevated sugar content in yogurt may have clouded possible benefits.” Plus, he added, if the “Eating challenge” the women were given had been a healthier meal, instead of the sausage sandwiches, they might not have seen as significant of an anti-inflammatory benefit from the yogurt.
Maybe, if you have an otherwise healthy diet, yogurt and its healthy microbes could nudge you toward even better health by reducing inflammation.
There’s little risk attached to eating yogurt anyway.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Does the American Dream require a big American home?”

One of the most deeply-embedded pieces of the “American Dream” is the desire for a large, spacious home with lots of sitting rooms, corners, nooks, and crannies.
A research team affiliated with the University of California studied American families and where they hung out the most inside their homes, how clutter builds, and the general stress level associated with living big.
Families hardly used their yards, devoted money to renovating little-used areas of the home instead of fixing obvious problems, and relied on heating up frozen meals instead of using large and luxurious kitchens to cook.
It’s all too common to feel like our big homes represent our success or status in life.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median single-family home built in 2016 was over 2400 square feet.
In general, the larger the home the bigger the risk.
If owners of big homes lose their jobs, their homes don’t suddenly get cheaper.
Here’s the truth: The American Dream shouldn’t compel you to buy a home that you cannot afford or maintain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What’s really behind ‘gluten sensitivity’?”

Some researchers are convinced that many patients have an immune reaction to gluten or another substance in wheat-a nebulous illness sometimes called nonceliac gluten sensitivity.
“If we did not know about the specific role of gluten in celiac disease, we would never have thought gluten was responsible for [NCGS],” says Stefano Guandalini, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois.
Without biological markers to identify people with NCGS, researchers have relied on self-reported symptoms measured through a “Gluten challenge”: Patients rate how they feel before and after cutting out gluten.
In 2012, he contacted researchers at the University of Bologna in Italy to obtain blood samples from 80 patients their team had identified as gluten sensitive on the basis of a gluten challenge.
His team found that most patients couldn’t reliably distinguish pure gluten from a placebo in a blinded test.
Before analyzing patient responses, Lundin was confident that gluten would cause the worst symptoms.
Lundin points out that the patients in Alaedini’s study didn’t go through a blinded challenge to check whether the immune markers he identified really spiked in response to wheat or gluten.
“Patients are withdrawing gluten first, then lactose, and then FODMAPs-and then they are on a really, really poor diet,” she says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Weekend lie-ins could help you avoid an early death, study says”

Researchers have found that adults under the age of 65 who get five or fewer hours of sleep for seven days a week have a higher risk of death than those who consistently get six or seven hours’ shut-eye.
“I suspected there might be some modification if you included also weekend sleep, or day-off sleep.”
Once factors such as gender, body mass index, smoking, physical activity and shift work, were taken into account, the results revealed that those under the age of 65 who got five hours of sleep or under that amount seven days a week had a 65% higher mortality rate than those getting six or seven hours’ sleep every day.
There was no increased risk of death for those who slept five or fewer hours during the week but then managed eight or more hours’ sleep on weekend days.
“The assumption in this is that weekend sleep is a catch-up sleep,” said Åkerstedt, though he noted the study did not prove that to be the case.
While the study did not investigate the link between sleep patterns and mortality rates, Åkerstedt said it was possible little sleep had a negative effect on the body, while consistently lengthy sleep could be a sign of underlying health problems.
The study had limitations; participants were only asked about their sleep patterns at one point in time.
An expert on the human “Body clock” but who was not involved in the research, said the study offered a more nuanced view than previous research, which had suggested that both very little or a lot of sleep was bad for health and longevity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Gross Is it to Wear Your Shoes in the House?”

Your shoes are covered in bacteria, viruses, germs, and parasites.
In 2016, a study by researchers at the University of Arizona set the germophobic world on fire with a report that said the average shoe sole is covered with 421,000 bacteria and that 90 percent of those bacteria transfer directly to a clean tile floor on first contact.
A 2017 study on shoe bacteria by the University of Houston showed that more than 26 percent of shoes examined test positive for C. diff, a bacteria that causes a potentially deadly super diarrhea.
Adalja also pointed out the fallacy of presuming that taking off your shoes means you won’t be tracking bacteria indoors when you walk around.
A recent study of the germiest, most bacteria ridden places in your home pointed to a bunch of areas you’re probably not putting your shoes or bare feet anywhere near.
So some bacteria you drag in on your shoes could actually be good?
“You’ll find all the scary bacteria that you think about, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get infected by them.” Adalja says our immune system, including our skin, is highly skilled at keeping these pathogens from making us sick.
“Energy seems to be very misplaced on just worrying about things in your house when you’re constantly out in the environment dealing with bacteria all the time, and people are very resilient to them.

The orginal article.