Vegan quibblers hinder positive change

Rather than welcome vegan diet popularity, vegans are quibbling over terms

vegan diet

I recently read a post on Plant Based News reporting that health expert Dr Oz dedicated an entire episode of his show to the vegan diet, predicting that veganism is going to be the “single biggest movement of 2017.”

That should be good news for vegans.

But instead of welcoming the rise in popularity of vegan diets and the positive knock-on effect for animal welfare, the environment and human health, some vegans are quibbling over terms. Continue reading

Pasture Promise: Asda leads the way for free-range cows and fair deal for farmers

A major supermarket chain supporting farmers and animal welfare by stocking Pasture Promise free-range milk is good news, especially in light of past price wars

Asda will be the first supermarket to stock Free Range Dairy Network milk carrying the Pasture Promise, which is encouraging news for animal welfare advocates. To be awarded Pasture Promise certification, free-range dairy herds must be grazed outside for a minimum of six months each year and farmers aren’t permitted to shoot calves at birth. Continue reading

Create a cafe for hungry garden birds and feel good

Help garden birds through the winter and feel the warmth of nature

Garden birds robin

The rental property we moved to recently was built on land where an old bungalow used to be. Except for three conifers, the garden was cleared and laid to lawn except for an empty flower bed which I turned over the other week hoping to attract robins and blackbirds with worms.

The garden may be neat, but it isn’t bird-friendly. Continue reading

Let’s put the pure back in New Zealand

By Tracy Brighten

New Zealand owl

Imagine British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been invited to give a speech at a university conference on sustainability. Imagine her topic was the discrepancy between the clean, green image created by the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign and the environmental reality. Imagine she wanted to inform the audience of this discrepancy; to persuade them it is economically damaging as well as morally unacceptable; and to motivate them to take action. As a scientist and politician, she knew the importance of commerce, government and environmental groups working together, and as a superb public speaker, she knew the power of words spoken with passion. Imagine this was her speech. Continue reading

Local nature puts a spring in our step

It’s easy to overlook the local nature in our gardens and neighbourhood, but regular contact helps us tap into our roots 

Yellow Flower

Unless we’re lucky enough to live in the countryside, if we want to spend time in nature, we might wait for a day when we can head to a nature reserve, a wildlife sanctuary, or the coast. But in our busy life, days can turn to weeks, and weeks to months while we miss out on local nature.

Truth is that for many of us, the benefits of time in nature can be enjoyed much closer to home. Continue reading

Spending time in nature is good for our soul

By Tracy Brighten

Spending time in nature has many health benefits, yet we find ourselves more removed from the natural world

Walk in nature

In economically developed countries, we enjoy medical and technological advances that improve our health and lifespan. We have education, transport, energy, and communication systems that give us greater opportunities for careers, business and travel, as well as a more comfortable lifestyle.

You might expect people to be happier than ever. Continue reading

REM sleep essential to children’s brain development and learning

By Tracy Brighten

Researchers identify that rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually associated with dreaming, is critical to converting daytime experiences into memories required for normal brain function

REM Sleep

Researchers say their findings help to explain how children’s learning is affected by inadequate REM sleep, and how medication commonly prescribed for hyperactivity or depression interferes with this sleep. Continue reading

Starchy carbs made our brains bigger

By Tracy Brighten

Carbohydrates have been left off the menu by dietary fads favouring protein, but a study on human brain evolution suggests a key role for starchy carbs

Ulluco tubers by Eric

Paleolithic diets are increasing in popularity in the belief that a return to our ancestor’s diet can curb the upward trend in obesity and diet related health issues.

Scientists agree there are health gains when our diet aligns with our evolutionary past because our physiology is optimised for that diet. Yet there is little agreement about what makes up a healthy diet and what comprises the Paleolithic diet of Old Stone Age man. Continue reading

6 steps to fitness for free

By Tracy Brighten

The great thing about keeping fit at home is that there’s no travelling, you don’t need to wear the latest kit, and it’s free. If you have a cross trainer, exercise bike, or weights, it helps, but it isn’t essential. You do need self-discipline though. Copping out is easier when you’re not letting down a training partner.

6 steps to keeping fit at home: Continue reading

Faroe Islands pilot whale massacre ‘a natural way of life’

By Tracy Brighten      Contains graphic images

Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd estimates 250 pilot whales were killed last week. Is it time tradition was buried with whale bones littering the seabed?

Pilot whale slaughter 2 by Sea Shepherd Peter Hammarstedt

Sea Shepherd protestors have been arrested trying to stop the pilot whale hunts in the Faroe Islands, but video footage and photographs by other group members captured the horrors of the mass slaughter.

The whale hunt known as the grindadráp, or “grind”, is a centuries old tradition with recorded history dating back to 1584, according to whaling proponents Whaling.fo. The whale meat and blubber once provided an important food source for the Faroese people, and whale oil was used for cooking and export. Continue reading

Is sleep deprivation causing teenage depression?

By Tracy Brighten

New research reveals a strong link between sleep deprivation and depression in adolescents that could guide better prevention and treatment

Girl on phone late night

In a new study published in the journal Sleep, U.S researchers found that up to 25% of adolescents slept for 6 hours or less per night, and were classed as sleep deprived. With early school times, weekend jobs and social media, it’s no surprise that adolescents don’t get enough sleep, putting them at risk of major depression. Continue reading

Time to get off my backside and confront him

He’s been coming round a lot lately, persuading me and pretending to have my best interests at heart when really he’s a self-serving blighter.

When I’m thinking of going for a speed walk he’s telling me, “weather’s not too good today”. When I’m about to pop my kit on for a cross-trainer workout he’s at my shoulder saying, “you can’t exercise on an empty stomach”. Even when I’m thinking about some gentle stretching after a long stint of writing, he’s there with coffee and biscuits… “homemade why don’t you?” He always seems to catch me off guard.

I should never have listened. I gave in far too easily. I’m not usually such a pushover.

I’ve been thinking about where this copping out will get me and today I’m making a new start. I opened the door and threw him out. “And don’t come back,” I yelled so the neighbours could hear.

I’ve made up my mind to stand up to Mr Excuse.

 

Image credit: Pixabay

Acetaminophen pain reliever may also dull your pleasure

By Tracy Brighten

Next time you take a painkiller, your sensitivity to pain may not be the only thing reduced. You may also be reducing your sensitivity to pleasure

Science Nutshell - Tylenol capsules

Researchers in the U.S have found that the common pain reliever acetaminophen has a previously unknown side effect of reducing positive emotion.

Previous studies show that acetaminophen reduces both physical and psychological pain, but this new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, is the first to examine the effect on positive emotions. Continue reading

Art, music and nature good for our health

By Tracy Brighten

If you feel awe on seeing a breath-taking view, joy on hearing a song thrush’s trills, or contentment on listening to Mozart, you may also enjoy good health

Science Nutshell panoramic view

Researchers in a study at UC Berkeley found a biological pathway between positive emotions and good health that involves pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Cytokines are proteins that interact with immune system cells to regulate the inflammatory response to infection, disease and injury. However, sustained high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be damaging and are associated with type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and clinical depression. Continue reading

Sleep cleanses the brain of toxins linked to Alzheimer’s

By Tracy Brighten

Research revealing that sleep cleanses the brain of toxins has been awarded a top prize in the advancement of science 

Science Nutshell Sleep

Scientists have long sought to establish the function of sleep, proposing that there must be a more essential function than the storing and consolidation of memories, considering an animal’s vulnerability during the sleep state. Sleep is also known to have a restorative effect on the human brain, and lack of sleep impairs brain function, but how does this occur? Continue reading