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Hatha Yoga Boosts Brainpower
June 2015

Improve Cognitive Health

hatha-yogaResearch from Wayne State University, in Detroit, has found that hatha yoga can significantly improve cognitive health in as little as two months. Researchers tested 118 adults with an average age of 62 years. One group engaged in three, hour-long hatha yoga classes per week for eight weeks, while the other group did stretching and strengthening exercises for the same duration. The participants underwent cognitive testing before and after the eight-week  period.

At the end of the trial, the hatha yoga group showed significant improvements in cognition compared to the other group. The yoga group also recorded shorter reaction times, greater accuracy in high-level mental functions and better results in working memory tests.


Source: Journal of Gerontology

 
Solar Harvest
June 2015

New Technology Makes Windows Power Producers

SolarWindow Technologies, Inc.SolarWindow Technologies’ new window coatings are a “first of its kind” technology that could turn the buildings we live and work in into self-sufficient, mini power stations. They can generate electricity on see-through glass and flexible plastics with colored tints popular in skyscraper glass.

The coating can be applied to all four sides of tall buildings, generating electricity using natural and artificial light conditions and even shaded areas. Its organic materials are so ideal for low-cost, high-output manufacturing that the technology is already part of 42 product patent applications.

When applied to windows on towers, it’s expected to generate up to 50 times the power of conventional rooftop solar systems while delivering 15 times the environmental benefits. For example, a single SolarWindow installation can avoid the amount of carbon emissions produced by vehicles driving about 2.75 million miles per year, compared to 180,000 miles for conventional rooftop systems.

 
Strawberries Reduce Blood Pressure
April 2015

Lower Levels Through Fruit Consumption

strawberriesAstudy published in the World Journal of Diabetes concluded that the regular consumption of a flavonoid-rich strawberry beverage reduces blood pressure in people with Type 2 diabetes. The study divided 36 subjects, all with moderately high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, into two groups—the first drank the equivalent of one serving of fresh strawberries per day made from freeze-dried berries, and the other group drank the same amount of an imitation strawberry-flavored drink over a six-week period. Blood pressure was tested at the beginning and end of the study for all participants.

At the end, the group drinking the real strawberry beverage registered significantly lower diastolic blood pressure than at the outset; it was also lower than the imitation strawberry group. The average diastolic blood pressure of the group drinking real strawberries went down by 6.5 percent and the systolic dropped by 12 percent. The strawberry-flavored group’s systolic blood pressure was also reduced, but only by 3.7 percent.

 
Sustainable Shopping Tips
April 2015

Smart Choices Help Our Home Planet

eco-green-shoppingThe buy local movement and popularity of local farmers’ markets continue to grow, but we can do even better when it comes to sustainable shopping. A recent Greendex.com survey on environmental impacts of consumer behaviors in 18 countries reports that more Americans are eating local and organic foods and say they’re going to consume less meat and bottled water. Nevertheless, we continue to eat the most processed and packaged foods and the fewest fruits and vegetables of all the countries surveyed. Evidently, we need to literally put our money where our mouths are.

The Greendex survey cites several basic ways to make our diets more sustainable. These include eating more vegetables and less beef and lamb (recognizing the greater environmental impact of raising animals); participating and supporting community supported agriculture and fishery initiatives; economizing meal planning; and storing food properly in the refrigerator to maximize space and freshness periods.

When grocery shopping, peruse the perimeter aisles first, where whole foods are stocked, instead of the interior shelves, which typically comprise processed foods according to MotherEarthLiving.com.

More cooperation between the public and private sectors and individual involvement can also increase sustainability in communities around the world. Rachael Durrant, Ph.D., a research fellow with the UK-based Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group, cites in a recent paper the need for improved understanding of the key roles that civil society organizations play within processes of large-scale social change and warned that many communities are vulnerable to grave environmental and social risks.

Durrant lauds “greener, fairer and healthier practices, such as community gardening or cookery classes,” plus “those that change the rules of the game through campaigns or lobbying to coordinate and facilitate activities of other groups.” Supporting food and farming management that’s independent, cooperative and welcomes volunteers, for example, is highly beneficial.

 
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