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Health

The Great Awakening

For Outside Magazine, I spent a night in a strip mall in Fremont with a bunch of electrodes attached to my head, doing a sleep evaluation. I can't say it was the best night I ever had, but it made me even more obsessed with my eight hours a day than I was before. And believe me when I say that I take my sleep seriously.

As little as 20 hours without sleep leaves you with the same impaired attention and slow reflexes of someone who is legally drunk. Chris Eatough, six-time winner of the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenaline Championship mountain-bike race, says that during a day-long competition, his vision will occasionally stop. "I'll be flying downhill with rocks and trees to dodge," he says, "and I'll get a snapshot of the trail that doesn't change for four or five seconds."

Omega-3 Phatty Acids

Oct. 17, 2006 | I can't say I've ever eaten yogurt fortified with microencapsulated fish fat before, but hell, there's a first time for everything. I'm in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and Ian Lucas, executive vice president of global marketing at a marine research company called Ocean Nutrition, has just handed me a spoon. The yogurt sitting between us is flecked with peach, but it also contains a surprise: powdered oil from smushed anchovies, encapsulated in pork gelatin. You might say it's surf and turf in a cup. It's also just one of a slew of newly developed food products that have been fortified with omega-3 fatty acids. With the yogurt still in front of me, Lucas pours a large, cold glass of fish-oil fortified milk as I rip open a bag of omega-3 tortilla wraps -- all products that contain what's referred to in industry circles as designer lipids. Food technologists working the world over have been busy figuring out how to shrink fish oil capsules to microscopic size and bake them into bagels. Entire companies have devoted themselves to breeding algae laden with omega-3, which can be dried into flakes and used as animal feed, or sprayed as powder and used in food products. There are already omega-3-fortified eggs and infant formulas on the market (not to mention margarine, gummy candies, orange juice, fruit chews, nutrition bars, chocolate, bread, pizza crust and, yes, yogurt) -- and eventually there will be omega-3-fortified cake. There will be cookies. There will be omega-3 ice creams and cheeses. Research has even begun on omega-3 pâté.

I'll admit it: I went through a year of my life where I was obsessed with omega-3 fatty acids. Luckily for me, Salon shared the love.

Alternet: Will Saying Thanks Make Us Happier?

Positive psychologists endorse several research-tested [gratitude] exercises. These include keeping a "gratitude journal," where you record a running list of things for which you're grateful; making a conscious effort to "savor" all the beauty and pleasures in your daily life; and writing a "gratitude letter" to some important person in your life whom you've never properly thanked.

These gratitude exercises all sounded pleasant enough, but would they work for me? While I'm not currently depressed, I'm very aware that depression runs in my family: I'm the only person-including the dog-who has not yet been on Prozac. So I decided to indulge in all three of these exercises over a six-week period, risking the possibility that I might become an insufferably happy and cheerful person. 

Originally written for Greater Good Magazine, this piece is about a 6-week gratitude experiment in which I overdosed on gratitude exercises to see if they'd have a positive effect on my mood.

Say 'Ah' to Acupuncture

After my tongue exam, Bianca and her classmates ask questions about my overall state. Do I have trouble sleeping? No. Am I generally hot or cold? I fluctuate. And how is my appetite? Healthy! Then their professor, Hua Ling Xu, chair of the AIMC Oriental Medicine Department, identifies treatment points on my wrists, shoulders, hands, ankles, and the backs of my knees. As I lie face down on the table, Xu swabs each point with alcohol, flicks it with her finger, and briskly taps sterile needles into my body.

I did a first-hand investigation of acupuncture for Health Magazine.