Lifestyle Works

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Is Our Sleep Afffected By Smartphones
With reference to Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on May 2, 2023

What are the effects of cell phones on sleep quantity and quality?

“Sleep is crucial to the development of physically and psychologically healthy children,” but a number of factors have been identified as interfering with sufficient sleep, including the use of electronic media devices. These days, most children and nearly all adolescents have at least one such device “in their sleep environment, with most used near bedtime.” Such use is associated with “inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, with excessive daytime sleepiness.” There are calls to minimize access to these devices at bedtime, but “which comes first, media use or sleep problem?” Are the kids and teens not sleeping because they’re on their phone, or are they on their phone because they can’t sleep?

“Higher media use has been consistently associated with more irregular sleep patterns, shorter sleep duration, as well as more sleep problems.” Are we pushing back our bedtime because we’re so caught up in whatever we’re reading, writing, watching, or playing, or does using our devices key us up so we have trouble falling asleep? In college-aged students, it may be more of the reverse—not sleeping leading to pulling out their screens rather than just staring at the ceiling. In early childhood, though, it may be a bit of both. How might screen time interfere with sleep?

Use of smart-phones and tablets may not just push back bedtimes and overstimulate us. The “light emitted from devices affects circadian timing” by interfering with the production of melatonin, the sleepiness hormone that starts ramping up as soon as the sun goes down. When we put a screen in front of our face, the excess light at night may confuse our brain. Of course, if you’re checking email with the lights on, then you’re already overexposed and the little bit of extra light from the screen may not make much difference. But, if you’re in the dark and need to send off that final message, then adjusting the light settings on your screen to be more yellow may help [as the longer wave lengths of the yellow light doesn’t have as much affect on your circadian rhythm as the shorter wave lengths of blue light.]

Can Ginger Help a Diabetic
With reference to Michael Greger M.D. FACLM on May 4, 2023

Ground ginger and ginger tea are put to the test for blood sugar control.

“Diabetes is reaching pandemic levels…and requires safe, affordable, and effective therapies.” So, what about ginger’s “potential in prevention and treatment”? In a petri dish, increasing exposure to ginger compounds improves blood sugar uptake of muscle cells almost as much as the popular diabetes drug metformin.

In the first study of its kind, diabetics were randomized to take a teaspoon of ground ginger a day for two months. It was hidden in pill form, so the researchers could compare results with subjects taking identical-looking sugar pill placebos. The result? Ginger supplementation decreased the levels of insulin, which is a good thing, as well as lowered levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, but without a significant effect on blood sugars. Now, heart disease is the leading killer of diabetics, so a 13 percent drop in bad LDL cholesterol would be reason enough to shell out the nickel a day it would cost to add that much ginger to your diet.

julia-topp-Xz4M49O8QcE-unsplash.jpgResearchers gave subjects even less ginger, just 1.6 grams, less than a teaspoon a day, but did so for 12 weeks, and ginger did in fact reduce blood sugar levels, as well as decrease inflammation, cutting C-reactive protein levels in half.

What about scaling down to just eight weeks, but, this time, using a higher dose—3.0 grams a day, which is about one and a half teaspoons? Researchers found a significant decrease in fasting blood sugars and long-term blood sugar control in the ginger group, “thereby showing the effect of ginger in controlling diabetes.” In fact, the placebo group continued to get worse, while the ginger group got better.

Similarly, researchers saw amazing results in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with a teaspoon a day for 12 weeks and also recorded improvements using a teaspoon and a half, where all of the participants in the ginger group were better and all of those in the non-ginger group were worse.

So much significant difference, just because of a small amount of an inexpensive, safe, simple, and side-effect-free spice. If you put together all of the studies, “the combined data clearly demonstrated” that ginger can lower blood sugar levels and improve long-term blood sugar control—and do so at a totally manageable dose. You could just stir a teaspoon of ginger powder into a cup of hot water and drink it. How easy is that? So, “overall…‘adding a little spice to our life’ may serve as a delicious and sensible way to maintain a healthy body.”

If one plant can do all of this, can you imagine if your whole diet was centered around plants?

soup-g3312862a0_1920.jpgRecipe of the Month

Ginger Carrot Soup


1     medium onion  chopped       3t    grated fresh ginger
3     garlic cloves                             6c     vegetable broth
3c     carrots (chopped)                 1.5T     white miso paste    
2     small apples (chopped)        1.5T     apple cider vinegar
   Heat 1/2 cup of water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the apple, ginger, and vegetable broth. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.
   Add the miso to the soup along with the apple cider vinegar.
   Transfer the soup to a blender, or use a stick blender, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.