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Short sleep linked to body mass, waist size


Getting one extra hour of sleep each night might shave a third of an inch off your waist and a couple of pounds off the number on the bathroom scale, a recent study suggests.

Among some 1,600 people in the UK, researchers found that those who slept more than eight hours a night had lower body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight relative to height – and slightly smaller waists when compared to people who slept less than seven hours.

Longer sleepers also had slightly higher levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.

“Most of the findings are in line with what experimental sleep loss studies have shown. I think maybe a plus of this is that obviously it’s a much larger sample than something you would see in a laboratory,” Namni Goel, a sleep researcher at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who wasn’t involved in the study.

For the study, published in PLoS One, Gregory Potter of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, and his colleagues analyzed four years’ of data from a national diet and nutrition survey that also tracks other health and lifestyle habits among people in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The available data included self-reported sleep records and food diaries for 1,615 adults, along with height and weight and blood pressure readings. In addition, about half of the participants agreed to provide blood samples so the study team could examine various measures of metabolic health such as cholesterol, blood sugar and thyroid hormone levels.

Researchers divided participants into three groups based on their average sleep duration. The bottom third had an average of 5.88 hours of sleep per night, with a range of plus or minus 52 minutes. The middle third had an average of 7.26 hours of sleep per night, plus or minus about 15 minutes, and the top third got an average of 8.44 hours of sleep at night, plus or minus 40 minutes.

The study team found that people in the top third for sleep duration had BMIs that were about two points lower – the equivalent of roughly 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) – compared to people in the lowest third.

The longest sleepers also had waist circumferences averaging 1.6 inches (4 centimetres) smaller than the shortest sleepers.

Each extra hour of sleep was tied to a third of an inch (0.9 cm) difference in waist size and 0.46 of a BMI point, the study team reports.

There were slight improvements with more sleep in some blood markers, but after researchers adjusted for other factors, the differences were not statistically significant, meaning they could have been due to chance.

The study team also didn’t find any association between sleep duration and diet or calorie intake, although Goel noted that food and sleep diaries are often inaccurate.

There are currently ongoing studies trying to figure out the mechanisms behind sleep and weight issues, said Goel, but she thinks it’s clear the source of the weight gain is overeating.

“Some of it is that when people are sleep deprived, they tend to go for high calorie, fatty, good tasting foods, and one of the ideas behind that is that it may be that some of the reward centres in the brain are affected by sleep loss. Those centres stimulate people to go for those higher fat foods,” she said by email.

Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, noted that short experimental studies in research units show that short sleep increases hunger, increases appetite and increases food intake.

Klein, who wasn’t involved in the study, said people can get better sleep by focusing on a combination of two things: getting more sleep for the hours spent in bed and increasing the time they allocate for sleeping.

“Things like keeping the room where you sleep cool and dark, don’t have a lot of lights on before bedtime, keep it dark, don’t watch TV in bed,” he said by email.

“Go to bed earlier, wake up later. Those are things that can be done by really making sleep a priority,” Klein added.

(SOURCE: PLoS One, online July 27, 2017.)
(Shereen Lehman)

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Sziget Festival 2017-Óbuda Island 8/09/2017 09:00 – 8/16/2017 23:00

Cheerful revelers come together to celebrate summer and freedom at Budapest’s biggest outdoor extravaganza, happening every August on the city’s expansive Óbuda Island.

The weeklong jamboree is filled with an exciting lineup of concerts by world-famous and local performers, presented alongside mind-boggling daytime activities like theater performances, new-circus gigs, alfresco sports programs, ability games, and art workshops, while lots of chill zones await the festival crowds across the island.

Some of the performers confirmed to hit the stage during Sziget Festival 2017 include Major Lazer, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Two Door Cinema Club, Tom Odell, Bad Religion, DJ Shadow, Mac DeMarco, Vince Staples, W&W, Oliver Heldens, GTA, Kensington, Oh Wonder, and GusGus.

Stay tuned, as more names are expected to be revealed soon.

(Photo: The event’s Facebook page.)


Jousts in Diósgyőr and other programs for the weekend


One of the greatest historical games will be held in the castle of Diósgyőr this weekend:

the medieval festival will include realistic jousts, marching with torches, the presentation of several traditional groups and the royal household of the recently reconstructed stronghold.

According to, the castle and the square of jousts next to will be the venues of the medieval festival, which is an event with long traditions behind it. The tournaments and other attractions will take place on 29th and 30th July.

The time traveling festival fills both days with tons of different programs. The castle was reconstructed in 2014 with the need of being historically accurate to its medieval past, so it provides an authentic environment to the festival depicting the everyday life in the age of knights.

Jesters, knights, squires, dancers, craftsmen, artists and master bakers “return” to their posts after centuries. And, of course, no royal court can be called royal without the king and the queen, so they also take their places on the throne. The medieval atmosphere is completed by historical presentations, tournaments and armored shows.

Traditional groups also participate in the festival, such as the Szent György Lovagrend (Saint George Knighthood) from Visegrád, the Vermes tribe, the Fekete Sereg Lovagrend (Black Army Knighthood) and the Aranysarkanytyús Lovagrend (Golden Spur Knighthood). Buhurt Arena is the place for guests who are curious about some realistic fights: there they can witness the joust of armored knights.

The tournament and the other combats, which will also involve cannons and weapons, will continue during the night, and the climax of the entire event will be the battle under the night sky.


(,Posted by Gergely Lajtai-Szabó)


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Nearly all NFL players in study show evidence of brain disorder CTE


Ninety-nine percent of former NFL players who donated their brain to science turned out to have the devastating disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to a new report.

Researchers found evidence of the degenerative brain disease in 110 out of 111 deceased National Football League players, said study co-author Dr. Daniel Daneshvar. He is a researcher with the Boston University School of Medicine’s CTE Center.

“A remarkable proportion of the athletes who played at the highest level develop neurodegenerative disease,” Daneshvar said. “This is incredibly concerning, because of the sheer numbers” of men who have ever played the game professionally.

Evidence of CTE also was found in 91 percent of brains donated by college football players, 88 percent of those from Canadian Football League players, and 21 percent of brains donated by high school players, the researchers found.

According to Dr. Gil Rabinovici, an associate professor of neurology with the University of California, San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, “CTE changes could also be detected in some individuals who played at the collegiate and even high-school level, suggesting lower levels of exposure may be sufficient to lead to brain injury.”

The report includes the autopsy results from 202 brains, with CTE diagnosed in 177 brains.

“In this study,” Daneshvar noted, “we more than double the total number of cases of CTE in the world’s literature.”

CTE tends to occur in people who experience repetitive brain trauma. It shows up at autopsy as aberrant protein clumps and other signs of brain damage, according to the nonprofit Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Previous studies have suggested that both full-fledged concussions and sub-concussive blows — jarring head impacts but not actual concussions — can contribute to the risk of CTE, Rabinovici said.

People with the disorder experience problems with thinking and memory, mood disorders, and behavioral problems, Daneshvar said. Lack of impulse control, aggression, depression, impaired judgment, memory loss, paranoia, confusion and progressive dementia are some of the symptoms that can occur.

Prior research has uncovered CTE in dozens of former NFL players. They include Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster; Junior Seau, linebacker for the San Diego Chargers; Ken Stabler, the Oakland Raiders quarterback; and Frank Gifford, running back for the New York Giants.

The new study results were published July 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that among patients with severe CTE, 89 percent had experienced behavioral or mood problems, 95 percent had had difficulty with thought and reasoning, and 85 percent had had signs of dementia.

The severity of CTE found in a player’s brain varied with their level of play, according to the new report.

Most brains from players at advanced levels showed signs of severe CTE, including 86 percent of professional players and 56 percent of semi-professional or college players.

On the other hand, all high school players diagnosed with CTE displayed mild signs of disease, the investigators found.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear there’s a likely relationship between exposure to repetitive hits to the head and development of CTE,” Daneshvar said.

While the study doesn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, he said the differences in this sample tend to support the idea there is an association between playing football and the development of neurodegenerative disease.

Also, no position on the field appeared to be safer than any other when it comes to CTE, Daneshvar explained.

“Amongst the NFL and college players, we have a wide array from all positions on the field that develop CTE,” Daneshvar said. “It’s unclear there was a position that an athlete could play that could not develop CTE.”

Daneshvar and Rabinovici noted the numbers from this report cannot be applied to all football players in general, since these brains were specifically donated to be examined for CTE.

“This is quite a biased sample,” said Rabinovici, who wrote an editorial accompanying the article. “The patients were nearly all impaired during life. Families whose loved ones were sick during life are intuitively more likely to commit to brain donation, in part to get an explanation for what caused their loved one’s symptoms,” he explained.

“In addition, the study was heavily weighted towards former professional players, and relatively few patients played at the high school level or lower,” Rabinovici continued. “So we are looking at a sample of some of the sickest individuals who likely were exposed to a very high burden of traumatic brain injury.”

Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death. To understand the full extent of the problem, doctors need to be able to detect CTE in living people, Rabinovici said.

“Because of the limitations of an autopsy-based study, we really don’t know how common CTE truly is in the NFL, let alone in the millions of others who played the game at a lower level, or who participate in other contact sports,” Rabinovici said.

While new methods for CTE diagnosis are in the works, “nothing is ready for prime time yet,” he said.

(By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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That’s why the science of happiness has gained more attention in recent years —researchers have started to produce reports on happiness around the globe, and positive psychology, which focuses on what makes individuals and communities thrive, has skyrocketed in popularity.

At this point, we actually know a fair amount about how certain behaviours, attitudes, and choices relate to happiness, though most research on the topic can only find correlations.

Researchers think that roughly 40 percent of our happiness is under our own control; the rest is determined by genetics and external factors. That means there’s a lot we can do to control our own happiness.

Here are nine happiness-promoting behaviours backed by science.

1. Relationships are essential. A major study followed hundreds of men for more than 70 years, and found the happiest (and healthiest) were those who cultivated strong relationships with people they trusted to support them.
Source: The Harvard Study of Adult Development

2. Time beats money. A number of studies have shown that happier people prefer to have more time in their lives than more money. Even trying to approach life from that mindset seems to make people more content.
Source: Business Insider

3. But it helps to have enough money to pay the bills. People’s well-being rises along with income levels up to an annual salary of about $75,000, studies have found. (That number probably varies depending on your cost of living, however.)
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

4. It’s worth stopping to smell the roses. People who slow down to reflect on good things in their lives report being more satisfied.
Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

5. Acts of kindness boost the mood. Give your friends a ride to the airport or spend an afternoon volunteering. Some research has shown that people who perform such acts report being happier.
Source: Review of General Psychology

6. Breaking a sweat is about more than burning calories. Studies show that increased levels of physical activity are connected to higher levels of happiness. Exercise tends to help mitigate the symptoms of some mental illnesses as well.
Sources: American Psychological Association, BMC Public Health

7. Fun is more valuable than material items. People tend to be happier if they spend their money on experiences instead of things. Researchers have also found that buying things that allow you to have experiences — like rock climbing shoes or a new book to read — can also increase happiness.
Sources: Psychological Science, Journal of Consumer Psychology

8. It helps to stay in the present in the moment. Several studies have found that people who practice mindfulness meditation experience greater well-being.
Sources: Journal of Clinical Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

9. Time with friends is time well spent. Interactions with casual friends can make people happier, and close friendships — especially with happy people — can have a powerful effect on your own happiness as well.


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Many people think that getting fit means devoting your life to the gym and slogging it out for hours. And unsurprisingly, that can be pretty off-putting.

But increasingly we’re realising that short workouts can be much more effective than long ones, if you just know what to do.

It turns out that just a minute’s exercise a day can have a hugely beneficial impact on your health.

Four tips to get yourself back into exercise
According to a study by the Universities of Exeter and Leicester, women who do 60-120 seconds of high-intensity weight-bearing exercise a day have four per cent better bone density than those who do less than a minute.

Women who exercise for over two minutes have even stronger bones, with density six per cent higher than those who do under a minute.

After the age of 30, people tend to lose more bone mass than they gain, and the higher your bone density, the lower your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

The study was conducted on over 2,500 female participants, and it’s women who are most at risk of osteoporosis, with bone density declining significantly after the menopause.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, a tenth of women aged 60 are affected by osteoporosis, and this rises to two-thirds of women aged 90.

What’s more, one in three women over the age of 50 and one in five men of the same age will suffer from osteoporotic fractures.

But further research needs to be done to work out how best one should undertake exercise in order to improve bone density the most.

“We don’t yet know whether it’s better to accumulate this small amount of exercise in bits throughout each day or all at once, and also whether a slightly longer bout of exercise on one or two days per week is just as good as one to two minutes a day,” said lead author Dr Victoria Stiles.

“But there’s a clear link between this kind of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise and better bone health in women.”

6reasons why women should lift weights

To reach their conclusions, the researchers asked their participants to wear activity monitors for a week and then compared this data to measurements of their bone health.

The activity data was broken down into single seconds to understand how people move in their daily lives.

“We wanted to make every second count in our analysis, because short snippets of high-intensity activity are more beneficial to bone health than longer, continuous periods,” Stiles said.

“We were careful not to ignore short bursts of activity throughout the day.”

Many people, although not consciously exercising, engage in non-exercise activity thermogenesis – or NEAT – over the course of the day, and this can be enough to improve your health.

If you want to increase your bone health, start with simply trying to walk more, and from there you can incorporate short bouts of running too.

There are limitations to the study’s findings though.

“Because this is a cross-sectional study – which assesses data taken from a subset of the population at a particular point in time – we can’t be sure whether the high-intensity physical activity led to better bone health, or whether those with better bone health do more of this exercise,” Stiles clarified.

“However, it seems likely that just one to two minutes of running a day is good for bone health.”

It’s not the first study to suggest you can drastically improve your health with just a minute’s exercise either: earlier this year, researchers from found that 60 seconds of intense exercise broken up into 20 second blasts as part of a ten-minute workout can be as effective as a 45 minute endurance workout.

No more telling yourself you just don’t have the time to keep fit then.


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With scientific research drawing new conclusions all the time, it’s hard to keep up with what we should be eating.

Is butter bad for us or not? Should we still be drinking smoothies and juices if they’re so sugary? What if they have veggies in too? And is dairy good or bad?

So many questions, so much confusion.

But there are certain rules many of us believe that it turns out are completely false and could be hindering our health.

We spoke to registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert to find out five of the most common nutrition lies and what the truth really is.

1. Eating too many eggs is bad for you

Many people fear eating too many eggs because because they’re high in cholesterol, which has been believed to increase the risk of heart disease. But despite their high cholesterol levels, Lambert explains that eggs don’t actually raise the bad cholesterol in the blood.

“In fact, eggs consistently lead to elevated levels of HDL (the ‘good’) cholesterol, which is linked to a reduced risk of many diseases,” she told The Independent, adding that there are countless studies now demonstrating how eggs are not associated with heart disease.
Lambert believes eggs are in fact a faultless food, given they’re high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and unique antioxidants – a claim few foods can make.

“Eggs contain all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) in the right ratios, so our bodies are well equipped to make full use of the protein in them,” Lambert says, “Eggs also score high in satiety which measures the ability of foods to induce feelings of fullness.”

The general consensus nowadays is that eating up to three whole eggs a day is perfectly fine, and although there’s no proof that eating more is bad for you, it’s something that hasn’t been researched enough yet.

2. Vegetable oils are healthy

According to Lambert, the claim that vegetable oils are healthy “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Previous studies have shown that polyunsaturated fats lower your risk of heart disease and this is the main reason people think vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, are good for you.
The seven biggest post-workout mistakes you’re making
“However, it is important to realise that there are different types of polyunsaturated fats, mainly omega-3s and omega-6s,” Lambert says.

“While we get omega-3s from fish and grass-fed animals, the main sources of omega-6 fatty acids are processed seed- and vegetable oils. Importantly, we need to get omega-3s and omega-6s in a certain balance and all too many people are eating too little omega-3 and too much omega-6.”

These seed and vegetable oils are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart disease, which is now the biggest killer in the world.

The main reason vegetable oils are dangerous is because they’re subjected to toxic chemicals when being processed.

“If you want to lower your risk of disease, eat your omega-3s but avoid the refined seed and vegetable oils,” Lambert says. “Again importantly, this does not apply to other plant oils like coconut oil and olive oil which are typically low in omega-6 and extremely healthy in moderation.”

3. Meat is bad for you

A lot of the meat on our supermarket shelves today is miles away from what our ancestors ate – animals are reared in captivity and the meat is highly processed. This means that some meat can have a negative effect on your health, but not all meat is created equal.

Lambert cites the largest study of diet and disease ever to be undertaken (and still ongoing), aptly named EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition): “It reported in 2013 that for the 448,568 participants, processed meat increased the risk of death, while no effect was seen for unprocessed red meat.”

She says that it’s perfectly fine to eat unprocessed, properly cooked red meat once a week, as it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and loaded with healthy proteins and fats that have profound effects on our health.

When it comes down to it, eating healthily is about balance.

“There is no one right way to eat for everyone,” Lambert points out. “We are all unique and what works for one person may not work for the next. But, once you start eliminating whole food groups like meat, you do run the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”

4. All calories are equal

Some people say that if you want to lose weight, you simply need to create a calorie deficit. But that’s not true. What you eat is more important than the number of calories you’re consuming.

“Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body and the foods we eat can directly impact the hormones that regulate when and how much we eat, as well as the amount of calories we burn,” Lambert explains.
6 nutritionists reveal what they actually eat for breakfast
Eating protein will reduce your appetite in comparison to the same amount of calories from fat and carbs because protein is high on the satiety index, which keeps you full.

What’s more, it’s a lot easier to overeat – or harder to stop eating – certain foods than others. Think about how easy it is to polish 400 calories of ice cream compared to the same amount of broccoli. Quite.

So the foods to focus on – which are high on the satiety index – include potatoes, beef, eggs, beans and fruits, whilst you should avoid sweets and cake, unsurprisingly.

“Whether you choose fulfilling foods or not will have a major difference on energy balance over the long term because a calorie from a boiled potato is not the same as a calorie from a doughnut,” Lambert says.

“Even though calories are important, saying that they are all that matters when it comes to weight or health is completely wrong.”

5. Eating fat makes you fat

Back in the 1970s, it was decided that fat made you fat, and supermarket shelves were brimming with low-fat and fat-free products.

Now, however, this outdated advice has been proven totally false. And what’s more, many low-fat products are actually laden with sugar to make up for the lack of flavour from fat.

But Lambert believes telling people to eat more fat is problematic: “Without the correct nutritional information there is a danger that the majority will misread this information. Many embark upon a daily diet of fatty meats and dairy and start to exclude the carbohydrates, fruit and even vegetables.”

Here’s what you should be eating to get your fix of healthy fats, according to Lambert:

Oily fish – Don’t let the high calorie content of the likes of salmon and mackerel fool you, they are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
Avocado – These fruits are rich in oleic acid, a fat that reduces blood pressure
Full-fat yoghurt – Containing probiotic bacteria which supports your digestive health, be sure to buy natural, full-fat yoghurt with no added sugar
Nuts – A handful of almonds a day can lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) and assist with blood sugar control
Butter – Rich in Vitamins A and D as well as fatty acids, butter can increase good cholesterol. Opt for unprocessed, organic varieties.
“Despite fat having more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, diets that are high in fat do not make people fat,” Lambert explains.

Eating a diet that is high in both carbs and fat will make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat. In actual fact, studies have shown that people who eat lots of healthy fats lose more weight than those who follow low-fat diets.

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Best coffee in Asian cities

Come cafe hop with ST’s foreign correspondents as they show you the best java joints in the region.

Whether you are a new-age aficionado of the third wave coffee movement, or an old-school purist who considers a kopitiam kopi-o the only cup of joe, The Straits Times’ new microsite will have something for you.

Coffee Capitals is a guide to cafes in five regional cities, written by The Straits Times’ foreign correspondents who live and work in them.

Indonesian bureau chief Francis Chan says Indonesia exported about $1.38 billion worth of coffee last year. In Jakarta, cafes offer everything from hearty cuppas to candy confections that employ ingredients such as Nutella and caramel to give the brew a sugary kick.

Head for Bangkok for great food to go with your coffee, says regional correspondent Tan Hui Yee, who is based in the city of angels. Although the mountains in northern Thailand are dotted with artisanal coffee plantations, she says consumption has outstripped production in the kingdom.

Philippine correspondent Raul Dancel credits the mass market chain Starbucks with having reawakened Filipinos’ love affair with the bean, and offers a local’s guide to the hidden gems to get your java fix in Manila.

Taiwan might be thought of as a land of tea houses, but Taiwan correspondent Jermyn Chow says coffee joints are fast catching on as young people work and play in these caffeine-fuelled places in Taipei.

Japan correspondent Walter Sim, who is based in Tokyo, says the city is dotted with old school kissatens (coffee houses) as well as slick new designer cafes. Whether you want your cup of joe in the smoky (literally, since they allow smoking) ambience of a kissaten, or in a trendy space, Tokyo is the destination.

So before you book your regional getaway, check out our website for the best coffee joints in these Asian cities.