Physical and psychological benefits of owning a pet in children -- Myth or fact?

Does Your Child Have A Pet? It’s pointless [ New Study ]

Pets are good for your kids. Pets help promote better physical health in kids. They are also key in helping them develop better psychologically.

These are claims that have been made by studies in recent years. And they have been convincing in that they have always had data to backup their claims. But are their claims really true? Not according to a recent study.

If you acquired a dog or a cat in the hopes that it will boost your child’s psychological and mental health, your efforts may likely have been in vain. This is a conclusion that scientists and researchers arrived at after conducting a wider and more extensive research study. Their findings are way different from earlier ones. And as they admit, they too didn’t expect to arrive at this conclusion.

A larger and more-exhaustive research study on the health benefits of owning a pet

This study was carried out by Rand Corporation researchers. They used more advanced statistical tools than the previous studies. And they considered way more factors than the previous studies. It was a wider, more extensive and more exhaustive study done by researchers of an independent health policy research organization.

This study was better than the previous ones because it didn’t have the shortcomings of the earlier studies that concluded that owning a pet has health benefits. According to the researchers, a major flaw of the earlier health research studies was that they failed to take into account the effect that factors, other than pet ownership, might have contributed to the health benefits in their results. A good example of one of these factors is family income.

The Rand researchers conducted their studies with these factors in mind. They used statistical models that took into account the differences in gender, age, income and other factors that might have led to a person being treated differently — this can cause better psychological health.

With this in mind, the researchers pored over data contained in a California Health Interview Survey. They analyzed randomized data from over 5000 households that  had children that were between the ages of 5 and 11.

They then considered additional information. This included diagnosis for conditions like ADHD, language skills, any pre-existing behavior and mood concerns that the parents already had about their child, the type of housing they lived in and the household income. In total, they factored in over 100 variables in their study.

It seemed there were health benefits of to owning a pet

Taken at face value, their findings seemed to agree with the earlier findings. The data seemed to show that children in pet-owning families were in better health. These children also tended to be more physically active. Their parents were also likely to be less concerned about their ability to learn, behavior, feelings and mood.

Until they took a second look

But things changed when they adjusted for the other variables. When factors like household income were taken into account, the link between pet ownership and health benefits disappeared.

No physical benefits. No psychological benefits.

As Layla Parast, a RAND statistician and a corresponding author of the research said:

“ We could not find evidence that children from families with dogs or cats are better off either in terms of their mental well-being or their physical health…. Everyone on the research team was surprised… We had essentially assumed from our own personal experiences that there was a connection.”

Prevent teeth decay dental care

Do you want to prevent tooth decay? Make it slippery – New Study on Dental Care

Tooth decay has a lot of awful effects. It causes pain. It causes tooth loss. And it can lead to infections.

It turns out that all these negative effects can be prevented by simply using one dental care trick: making teeth slippery. This is what researchers at the University of Alabama discovered through a new dental care study.

Blocking production of sticky substance produced by bacteria that causes dental caries

What the researchers did was create a molecule that interfered with how the bacteria that causes tooth decay works. This molecule, an inhibitor, blocks an important enzyme  in the bacteria, making it ineffective as far as causing tooth decay is concerned.

Normally, the bacteria that causes dental caries (tooth decay) produces a biofilm. It uses this biofilm to stick onto the surface of your teeth. And once comfortably anchored, it then starts eating out your teeth.

This is however not possible when this inhibitor is used. This is because the inhibitor blocks the production of this biofilm. When it does, it denies the bacteria (streptococcus mutans) the ability to stick on teeth.

Without the glue, the bacteria finds the surface of the teeth to be too slippery to hold onto. And since it can’t do that, it’s effectiveness as far as causing tooth decay diminishes. This then preserves the teeth or at least reduces the rate at which the teeth decay.

The research  

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers put mice on a diet that promotes tooth decay. They then introduced the inhibitor. They then noted the rate of decay. When compared to other mice, there was a significant reduction in decay rate in the mice that had taken the inhibitor.

This is good news especially given that according to the 2015 Global Burden of Disease study, over 2.3 billion people in the world  suffer from dental caries (tooth decay). Any method of preventing this dental care epidemic is welcome, and this method even more so. This is mainly because of how the inhibitor works.

Specific targeting a superior way of preventing tooth decay

The inhibitor specifically targets the  S. mutans bacteria. This targeted nature of the inhibitor means that it can be deployed without having to risk the destruction of other  useful bacteria. It makes it a better strategy when compared to common dental care practices like tooth brushing and using mouthwash simply because it does not indiscriminately destroy all the bacteria in the mouth.

Good news for dental care. Bad news for harmful bacteria.

lose weight new studies management tips

Is Diet Soda Really Good For Your Weight Loss Goals? A New Study Has The Answer

Diet sodas are popular. Why? Because people believe that they are healthier. They also believe that they have fewer calories, making them ideal for weight loss. Question is: can taking diet soda really help you lose weight? This is what a new study that was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal sought to answer.

A couple of University of Manitoba scientists decided to analyze over 37 studies that followed over 400,000 test subjects. These studies tracked the health of these habitual artificial sweetener users for over a decade. And after going through the data that was collected in 7 randomized clinical trials and more, here is what they found out.

In 6 months, diet sodas and other artificial sweeteners don’t show any weight loss benefit

This was the conclusion that they arrived at after analyzing the data of clinical trials that conducted for 6 months. In all of them, there were no significant gains reported by the people who chose artificial sweeteners.

In the long term, diet sodas are bad for you if you want to lose weight

It turns out that it has all been a myth that people have fallen for. A myth that has been perpetuated by manufacturers with the sole aim of reaping huge profits from gullible members of the public.

Here is what Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba had to say about the study that they had conducted:

“ We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management.”

In their study, they realized that sticking to products that contained artificial sweeteners in fact led to significant gains in body mass index and overall weight.

The “sugar-free” alternatives are way worse than you thought

The review of various studies conducted on the effect of products with sugar-free alternatives like saccharin, aspartame and sucralose also found that these products were far from healthy.

In the long run, they don’t just cause weight gain. They do much worse. They also increase the risks of serious health conditions. Some of the conditions that were linked to diet sodas and other products containing the so-called “sugar-free” alternatives include:

  1. Obesity
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart disease
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Other chronic health problems

If you are into artificial sweeteners, and if you think they are a guilt-free way of indulging a sweet tooth, you should keep Dr. Meghan Azad’s (of the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba) words of caution in mind:

“ Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks of and benefits of these products.”

Given the findings of the study, she and her team have embarked on a new study trying to determine the  effect of these sweeteners on pregnant women. They want to find out if they have an effect on gut bacteria and metabolism in infants. So, if you are expecting, maybe it is time to hold off your “sugar-free” favorites.

This study concluded that artificial sweeteners, like those contained in “sugar-free” products like diet soda, are no good as far as weight loss is concerned. In fact, the data shows that they make things worse. And worse still, they will likely leave you with long-term health effects. Rethinking your weight loss strategy may therefore be a good idea.

Fidgeting, sitting down and your risk of dying - Research Study

Can Being Nervous Save Your Life? A New Study On The Negative Health Effects of Prolonged Sitting Has The Surprising Answer

When people are nervous, they fidget. Same thing happens when they are restless. Normally, when you do either of these, it is considered a bad thing. It is either you are rude or you are just a nervous wreck.

However, according to a recent study, people who fidget may be gaining access to a resource that the rest of humanity doesn’t: immunity from the negative health effects of prolonged sitting.

According to a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, fidgeting can do what even intense exercise couldn’t. It can help you avoid life-threatening conditions. The following are some of the conditions that sitting can cause.

Negative Health Effects of Prolonged Sitting

Heart disease

Sitting for extended periods messes with your blood flow. Muscles also burn less fat. This increases the risks of fatty acids clogging your heart. Add to these the fact that studies show that elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure are common in people who have a habit of sitting for long periods, and you have reason to worry about your heart.

Diabetes and other pancreas-related complications

When you sit for long, your muscles get less sensitive to insulin. Your pancreas, which produces insulin, interprets this as though it hasn’t done good enough of a job. It therefore produces more insulin.

This is insulin that your body didn’t really need. It was produced merely to satisfy a “manufactured” condition. The imbalance caused by extended sitting sessions then leads to an over-productive pancreas. Complications like diabetes follow soon after.

This was confirmed in a 2011 study. This study found that the effect of sitting was so bad to such an extent that it caused a decline in the muscles’ insulin response after just 24 hours of prolonged sitting.

Colon, endometrial, and breast cancer

Studies have consistently shown a relationship between prolonged sitting and increased risks of cancer. And it isn’t just one cancer. There are different theories that try to explain why this happens.

One of the most common ones is that since sitting causes an overproduction of insulin, this in turn accelerates the rate at which body cells grow. This is what then causes the various types of cancers.

Another theory explains this relationship by focusing on the role that movement plays in the production of natural antioxidants. Generally, people who move more, produce more antioxidants.

Antioxidants play a major role in the body’s defense system. They do this by killing cell-damaging free radicals. Some of these radicals can cause cancer. And by killing them, the antioxidants reduce the risks of cancer.

Since prolonged sitting limits your body’s ability to produce natural antioxidants, it denies it access to a key cancer-preventing agent. It therefore leaves it vulnerable to breast, endometrial, colon and breast cancer.

Reduced brain function

Sitting slows down everything. It slows down the rate at which muscles work. It slows down the rate of blood circulation. It also slows down oxygen intake and the ability of the body to produce mood-enhancing and brain-enhancing chemicals. All this slowing down and reduced brain activity eventually has a negative effect on the brain.

Back damage

Your back has soft discs. These discs enable it to be flexible enough to handle most of the demands of daily life. To be able to maintain this flexibility, the soft discs between the vertebrae expand and contract. In the process of doing this, they end up absorbing blood that is rich in nutrients. This process ensures that the soft discs remain as flexible as they should be.

However, this is impossible when sitting for prolonged periods. In a prolonged sitting position, these discs get squeezed unevenly. The expansion and contraction that allows them to get nutrient-rich blood is also not possible when in a sitting position. This eventually results in the hardening of collagen around the ligaments and tendons. This leads to back problems. Disk damage can also follow.

Poor circulation and weak bones

When you walk or engage in activities like running, you stimulate the bones in the lower part of your body to grow. These activities help them grow thicker and stronger. Sitting robs these bones of this stimulation, leading to softer bones. This then leaves you vulnerable to medical conditions like osteoporosis.

The reduced blood circulation that happens when you sit for extended periods also affects your legs. It causes fluid to pool way more than the body can tolerate. This then leads to potentially dangerous conditions including Deep Vein Thrombosis ( a condition characterized by the formation of potentially fatal blood clots in the veins) and varicose veins. Swelling in different parts of the legs is also common in people who have a habit of sitting for prolonged periods.

Death

In a study meant to measure the effect that sitting on the probability of dying, researchers followed a large sample of women for over a decade. They measured the risks of mortality in relation to how much time their test subjects spent watching TV. What they found out was shocking. They found out that people who watched TV for up to 8 hours had a 61% greater risk of dying than those who watched for an hour or less.

Death can be caused by prolonged sitting

The Study

In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers ( Gareth Hagger-Johnson, PhD, Alan J. Gow, PhD and others) analyzed data that was collected from over 12000 women. These women were followed for a period of over 12 years.

On analyzing the data that they collected, they noticed that while there was a definite relationship between prolonged sitting and increased risks of death, this relationship wasn’t as obvious in people who were prone to fidgeting.

On further analysis, they arrived to the surprising conclusion that fidgeting totally eliminated the increased risk of death that is normally associated with prolonged sitting. It turns out that fidgets are miraculously immune to an effect that not even exercise couldn’t cure.

However, this only applied to people who were considered middle to high fidgets. People who were prone to slight fidgeting didn’t enjoy this immunity.

Therefore, whether it is nervousness or boredom that causes your fidgeting, please dial it up a notch! Because immunity does not belong to the slight fidgets!