Office lighting experiment suggests workers sleep longer when exposed to more daylight

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the U.S. has found that office workers sleep more hours each night when exposed to more sunlight during the day. In their paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the group describes their experiments in real office buildings and what they learned from them.

Prior research has shown that when office workers are exposed to minimal natural light during their shifts, they tend to sleep less at night than people who are exposed to more sunlight during the day—they also tend to perform less well on cognitive tests. Prior research has also shown that children exposed to more sunlight during the day tend to sleep longer than those who see little daylight. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about the sunlight/sleep connection by carrying out an experiment in two adjacent offices in an office building in Durham, North Carolina.

The experiments involved testing the differences in sleep patterns for people working in nearly identical office environments situated right next to each other—the only real difference was the lighting. One office had the traditional blinds that obscure much of the sunlight coming through the large glass windows. In the other office, the windows were treated with electrochromic glazing technology that allows more sunlight to pass through while still minimizing glare. For the experiment, typical office workers were asked to work in both offices for one week. At the end of the week, the workers were asked to trade offices where they worked for another week. Also, each of the workers was fitted with a wrist actigraph that measured and recorded how long the wearer was asleep each night.

The researchers found that both groups of workers slept longer when they worked in the office with more natural lighting—on average 37 minutes longer. The researchers found that the positive effects of sunlight grew as the week wore on—scores on cognitive tests improved each day. By the end of the week, the workers scored 42 percent higher. The researchers suggest their findings show that lighting should feature more prominently in the workplace, and that doing so would benefit both workers and those who employ them.

Source: Medical Xpress

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Eating more fruit reduces diabetes risk

A new study from the United States has highlighted how people who eat more fruits such as blueberries, apples and pears could help lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to the flavonoids present in them.
The long-term study, which was funded by the US National Institutes of Health, monitored the eating habits of around 200,000 adults for as long as 24 years, with participants having to regularly respond to questionnaires about their frequency of eating different types of foods and beverages.
It was found that those who ate the most blueberries had a 23 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to people who ate no blueberries, while those who ate five or more apples per week had a 23 per cent lower risk compared to people who ate no apples at all.

Although eating such fruits don’t actually prevent diabetes, the research, carried out at Harvard School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reinforces previous studies into the health benefits of flavonoid-rich foods, which also includes vegetables and grains.
An Pan said that for “People who ate a higher amount of blueberries or apples, they tended to have a low risk of type 2 diabetes.”


2–3 oz of walnuts' daily may benefit heart and gut health

A new trial suggests that people who eat walnuts every day may have better gut health and a lower risk of heart disease.
Nuts can be a great source of nutrients and a very healthful “pick-me-up” snack.

Walnuts, in particular, are high in protein, fat, and they are also a source of calcium and iron.
Given walnuts’ nutritional potential, some researchers have been looking at whether these nuts might actually help prevent specific health issues.

In 2019, researchers from Pennsylvania State University in State College found that individuals who replaced saturated fats with walnuts — a source of unsaturated fats — experienced cardiovascular benefits, particularly improvements in blood pressure.
The investigators explain that walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is present in plants.
Following up from that research, the team — which includes assistant research professor Kristina Petersen and Prof. Penny Kris-Etherton — have recently conducted another study to find out more about walnuts’ benefits to health.

The new study — whose findings appear in the Journal of Nutrition — suggests that incorporating walnuts into a healthful diet may benefit the gut and thus lead to better heart health.
“There’s a lot of work being done on gut health and how it affects overall health,” notes Prof. Kris-Etherton.
“So, in addition to looking at factors like lipids and lipoproteins, we wanted to look at gut health. We also wanted to see if changes in gut health with walnut consumption were related to improvements in risk factors for heart disease,” she says.
‘A small change to improve your diet’
The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial involving 42 participants with overweight or obesity aged 30–65.
They wanted to see if — and how — adding walnuts to a person’s diet might influence gut health.
To begin with, the research team asked the participants to follow a standard Western diet for 2 weeks.
Then, at the end of this period, the researchers randomly split the study participants into three groups. One group followed a diet that included whole walnuts, the second group ate a diet that included alpha-linolenic acid but in the same quantity that the walnuts would contain. The third group followed a walnut-free diet in which the researchers replaced alpha-linolenic acid with oleic acid.
The participants followed their assigned diet for 6 weeks and then switched diets until each person had followed all three eating plans. The researchers collected fecal samples from all participants at the end of each diet regimen period. This allowed them to analyze any changes regarding the bacterial populations present in the gastrointestinal tract.
Prof. Kris-Etherton, Petersen, and their colleagues found that individuals who ate 3 ounces (oz) of walnuts as part of an otherwise healthful diet experienced improvements in heart health. The scientists say that these changes were likely mediated by improvements in gut health, as suggested by changes in gut bacteria.

“The walnut diet enriched a number of gut bacteria that have been associated with health benefits in the past,” explains Petersen.
“One of those is Roseburia, which has been associated with protection of the gut lining,” she adds. “We also saw enrichment in Eubacteria eligens and Butyricicoccus.”
The researchers explain that E. eligens has associations with a variety of different aspects of irregular blood pressure. They add that an increase in the population of this bacterium may thus suggest a lower cardiovascular risk.
They also note that an increase in Lachnospiraceae has links with lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and “bad” cholesterol measurements.

The study did not find any significant associations between any changes in gut bacteria following the walnut-free diets and risk factors for heart disease.
“Replacing your usual snack — especially if it’s an unhealthful snack — with walnuts is a small change you can make to improve your diet,” notes Petersen.
“Substantial evidence shows that small improvements in diet greatly benefit health. Eating 2 to 3 oz of walnuts a day as part of a healthful diet could be a good way to improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease.”


Negative emotions cause stronger appetite responses in emotional eaters

Turning to a tub of ice cream after a break-up may be a cliché, but there's some truth to eating in response to negative emotions. Eating serves many functions—survival, pleasure, comfort, as well as a response to stress. However, emotional overeating—eating past the point of feeling full in response to negative emotions, is a risk factor for binge eating and developing eating disorders such as bulimia.
"Even at a healthy BMI, emotional overeating can be a problem," says Rebekka Schnepper of the University of Salzburg in Austria, who co-authored a recent paper in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience.

The study investigated the extent to which individual eating styles and emotional states predict appetite response to food images, by comparing emotional eaters—people who use food to regulate negative emotions—and restrictive eaters—people who control their eating through diets and calorie restriction. (While a person can be both an emotional and a restrictive eater, the two traits were not highly correlated in this study's sample.)

Schnepper and her co-authors found that emotional eaters had a stronger appetite response and found food to be more pleasant when experiencing negative emotions compared to when they felt neutral emotions. Restrictive eaters, on the other hand, appeared more attentive towards food in the negative condition although this did not influence their appetite, and there was no significant change between the negative and neutral emotion conditions.

The findings point towards potential strategies for treating eating disorders. "When trying to improve eating behavior, a focus on emotion regulation strategies that do not rely on eating as a remedy for negative emotions seems promising," says Schnepper.
The authors were compelled to investigate the subject because of a lack of consensus in the literature. "There are different and conflicting theories on which trait eating style best predicts overeating in response to negative emotions. We aimed to clarify which traits predict emotional overeating on various outcome variables," says Schnepper.

They conducted the study among 80 female students at the University of Salzburg, all of whom were of average body mass index (BMI). During the lab sessions, experimenters read scripts to the participants in order to induce either a neutral or a negative emotional response. The negative scripts related to recent events from the participant's personal life during which they experienced challenging emotions, while the neutral scripts related to subjects such as brushing one's teeth. The participants were then shown images of appetizing food and neutral objects.

Researchers recorded participants' facial expressions through electromyography, brain reactivity through EEGs (electroencephalography), as well as self-reported data. For example, emotional eaters frowned less when shown images of food after experimenters read the negative script compared to when they read the neutral script, an indication of a stronger appetite response.
The study chose to only test female participants since women are more prone to eating disorders but, given the limited subject pool as well as the controlled conditions, Schnepper says that "We cannot draw conclusions for men or for long-term eating behavior in daily life." Nevertheless, the study furthers our understanding of emotional overeating, and the findings may help in the early detection and treatment of eating disorders.


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As Many as 80 Percent of People with COVID-19 Aren’t Aware They Have the Virus

Researchers say anywhere from 25 percent to 80 percent of people with COVID-19 are unaware they have the virus.

This allows the novel coronavirus to spread more rapidly throughout a community.
Experts say these carriers without symptoms make it even more important for people to wear face masks in public.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 outbreak.

There may be a lot of people walking around who have COVID-19 but have no idea they are spreading the virus.
The first word of this possibility came in early April from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, Dr. Robert Redfield, in an interview with National Public Radio affiliate WABE.

“One of the [pieces of] information that we have confirmed now is that a significant number of individuals that are infected actually remain asymptomatic. That may be as many as 25 percent,” Redfield said.
Then a few days later, researchers in Iceland reported that 50 percent of their novel coronavirus cases who tested positive had no symptoms. The testing had been conducted by deCODE, a subsidiary of the U.S. Biotech company Amgen.
In another reportTrusted Source, the CDC stated that researchers in Singapore identified seven clusters of cases in which presymptomatic transmission is the most likely explanation for the occurrence of secondary cases.

That report was backed up by a studyTrusted Source published in mid-April that concluded that people with no symptoms are the source of 44 percent of diagnosed COVID-19 cases. In addition, a studyTrusted Source published about the same time reported that people might be most contagious during the period before they have symptoms. Then, in late April, it was reported that the first known person to die from COVID-19 in the United States before she died of a heart attack on February 6 at her home in Northern California.
Finally, two studies published in late May indicated that a high percentage of people with COVID-19 could be without symptoms.
In one study, researchers reported that 104 of 128 people (81 percent) on a cruise ship who tested positive the novel coronavirus were asymptomatic.
In another studyTrusted Source, researchers reported that 42 percent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 were without symptoms.
“Of those of us that get symptomatic, it appears that we’re shedding significant virus in our oropharyngeal compartment, probably up to 48 hours before we show symptoms,” Redfield said. “This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country because we have asymptomatic transmitters.”

How transmission works
“It isn’t a strange idea with respiratory viruses that such an inadvertent transmission could take place,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.
“It’s to the virus’ benefit because if you have seemingly healthy people moving around spreading the virus, that maximizes the transmission,” he told Healthline. “Once you get sick, you tend to restrict your encounters with others.”
To demonstrate how fast the virus transmission works among people who may be unwittingly infecting others, Dr. James Hildreth, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College and an infectious disease expert, illustrated the spread in a public service announcement.
He said people who study virus spread assign viruses basic reproductive spread numbers.
“One that comes to mind is measles. Measles is one of the most contagious viruses we’ve ever known and its number is somewhere between 12 and 18,” Hildreth told Healthline. “By comparison, the COVID-19 virus, it’s basic reproductive number appears to be about 4. What that means is that each person who is infected by the virus has the potential to spread it to four other persons in a susceptible population,” he explained.
“If you do the math, the number of people infected would double every 6 days or so. But the actual data in some parts of the country is the virus is doubling every 3 days,” Hildreth added.
He noted that this novel coronavirus that began in December in a market in Wuhan, China, has infected 1.4 million people in 4 months.
“When you’re dealing with a virus like that, everything we can do to break the chain of transmission is exceedingly important because there are people who are spreading the virus and are not aware of it,” he said.


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