Study: Why Procrastination May Hurt Your Heart

woman_making_heartThose of you who consider yourselves procrastinators—and you know who you are—may want to listen up: your foot-dragging ways could be taking a toll on your heart. In fact, researchers from Bishop’s University in Canada say routinely putting off important tasks may lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as high blood pressure.

The findings come from a new study published last month in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. For the purpose of the study, scientists asked a group of people to complete a series of online questionnaires focusing on health and personality traits. Some participants had been diagnosed previously with CVD and hypertension, while others were in good overall health.

When analyzing the survey results, researchers found that the procrastinators in the group were those more likely to suffer from heart disease, possibly because the same inclination toward postponing tasks leads folks to drag their feet when it comes to things like exercising or eating healthy foods—both of which are critical to heart health. Not only that, say experts, but by the time procrastinators finally do get around to these things, they may be even more stressed out about them than normal, the result of which is even more strain on the heart.

Unfortunately, say researchers, the putting-it-off-until-tomorrow gene seems to be a tough one to shake, but it can be done. Try making a personal “to-do” list when it comes to your health, and start with small tasks you can complete each day such as eating more heart-healthy foods or using the stairs instead of the elevator. In addition, consider asking for help from a friend or family who can provide support and encouragement.

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Our Amazing Microbiome: 3 New Studies Spotlight Gut Bacteria

bacteriaDid you know there are more bacteria cells than human cells in your body? Most of them reside in and around your digestive tract, and your personal collection of cells is called your microbiome. The key to a healthy microbiome is making sure the good and neutral bacteria outnumber the harmful bacteria, which is why we so often hear about the importance of maintaining a balanced gut. Here are three new microbiome studies making headlines:

Further Praise for Fecal Transplants
Fecal transplantation refers to the process of transplanting stool from a healthy donor to a recipient in need—typically someone suffering from the infection Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and published in the journal Microbiome found that when people suffering from recurrent C. diff infections received healthy fecal matter (populated with beneficial bacteria) from a donor, positive changes were noted to their intestinal bacteria. What’s more, those changes had long-term benefits—lasting up to five months or more.

Can Poop Predict Obesity?
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee recently embarked on a groundbreaking microbial study that reveals a link between what a population “eliminates” and its estimated level of obesity. Scientists collected and analyzed hundreds of sewage samples from more than 70 metropolitan areas and found they were able to predict the obesity rate of each city with more than 80% accuracy. Weighing in at the top was St. Joseph, Missouri, with a 37.4% obesity rate. At the other end of the scale was Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with a 13.5% obesity rate.

Can Miniaturized Microbiomes Reveal More Gut Bacteria Benefits?
Just think about the more than 100 trillion bacterial cells in your body and how they impact your well-being. Might there be benefits even beyond optimal digestion and immune health? That’s what researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina hope to find out. Using human tissue, scientists have discovered a way to create microscopic bacterial colonies they are calling “mini-guts.” About 15,000 mini-guts will fit on a small chip, which researchers will inject with different types of bacteria in order to test the impact of specific microbes on human health.

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