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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

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Want a rich social life? Look within your brain (January 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, January 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scientists have discovered that the amygdala, a small almond shaped structure deep within the temporal lobe, is important to a rich and varied social life among humans. The finding was published this week in a new study in Nature Neuroscience and is similar to previous findings in other primate species, which compared the size and complexity of social groups across those species. The research is important because it opens the door to further research and information regarding how humans develop and use social networks.

"We know that primates who live in larger social groups have a larger amygdala, even when controlling for overall brain size and body size," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, who led the study. "We considered a single primate species, humans, and found that the amygdala volume positively correlated with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans."

The researchers also performed an exploratory analysis of all the subcortical structures within the brain and found no compelling evidence of a similar relationship between any other subcortical structure and the social life of humans. The volume of the amygdala was not related to other social variables in the life of humans such as life support or social satisfaction.

The researchers asked 58 participants to report information about the size and the complexity of their social networks by completing standard questionnaires that measured the total number of regular social contacts that each participant maintained, as well the number of different groups to which these contacts belonged. Participants, ranging in age from 19 to 83 years, also received a magnetic resonance imaging brain scan to gather information about the structure of various brain structures, including the volume of the amygdala.

A member of the the Martinos Center at MGH, Barrett also notes that the results of the study were consistent with the "social brain hypothesis," which suggests that the human amygdala might have evolved partially to deal with an increasingly complex social life. "Further research is in progress to try to understand more about how the amygdala and other brain regions are involved in social behavior in humans," she says. "We and other researchers are also trying to understand how abnormalities in these brain regions may impair social behavior in neurologic and psychiatric disorders."

For more information, or to see the complete study, please visit http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/

Tags:  Intellectual  January 2011  Social 

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New information on how 'starvation hormone' works, could influence diabetes treatments to cancer treatments (January 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, January 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

New findings by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers may connect multiple observations about how the hormone adiponectin functions and eventually could lead to new treatments for conditions ranging from diabetes and weight loss to heart disease and cancer.

In this study, the researchers used models of inducible cell suicide in both pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin, and cardiomyocytes, which are specific muscle cells located in a part of the heart known as the myocardium, to determine how the single hormone could exert such different influences. Ceramides are a family of lipid molecules known to promote cell suicide, or apoptosis. High levels of ceramides have been shown to promote diabetes by sabotaging signaling pathways induced by insulin and killing beta cells. When the researchers introduced adiponectin into cells, they found that the hormone triggers the conversion of ceramides from a destructive force into one that helps cells survive and inhibits cell death.

Dr. William Holland, lead author and postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine, said the new findings have implications for the treatment of numerous diseases including diabetes and cancer.

Dr. Philipp Scherer, professor of internal medicine and cell biology and senior author of the study, discovered, in 1994, that the hormone Adiponectin not only controls sensitivity to insulin but also is known to play an integral role in metabolism and obesity. Prior research has shown that when adiponectin levels are high, the body stores excess fat in adipocytes, or fat cells, to protect against possible starvation during lean times. These fat deposits lie primarily in the subcutaneous tissue.

As a person accumulates more fat, however, adiponectin levels decline. Once adiponectin levels start dropping, the body begins storing fat in dangerous places such as the heart, liver and muscle tissues—where it can cause inflammation and pave the way for heart disease. That's why researchers think that adiponectin levels could be a good predictor of whether someone is at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

For more information on the study, visit http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

Tags:  Diet  Exercise  January 2011  Nutrition  Physical  Weight Loss 

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Fun Facts (January 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, January 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

This January's Fun Facts are dedicated to the many people who hope to quit smoking in 2011. We support you and hope the following lists will help you or someone you love.

About Quitting Smoking...ideas and facts to help you.

  1. Quitting is tough, but you can do it.
  2. Quitting is NOT as tough as dealing with lung cancer.
  3. Make a plan for quitting.
  4. Pick a quit day. Mark it on your calendar.
  5. If you have tried to quit before, consider it practice.
  6. It takes some smokers two, three, or more tries to quit for good.
  7. Quitting often takes more than willpower alone.
  8. Nicotine is more addicting than cocaine or heroin.
  9. GET HELP with physical withdrawals.
  10. Hypnosis and acupuncture work for some people.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within a few hours and peak 48 to 72 hours later. Be ready.
  12. Using an aid to quit smoking can DOUBLE your chances of success!
  13. There is no right way to quit - DO WHATEVER IT TAKES
  14. Ask your friends and family members for emotional, positive, active support.
  15. Ask a friend or family member to quit with you, 'the quit buddy system'.
  16. Join a quit smoking class/program. Attend quit smoking seminars. Quit smoking programs can give you support and help you learn to handle cravings.
  17. Expect cravings. At times you may feel desperate for a cigarette.
  18. When you want a cigarette, distract yourself by taking a walk or reading. When cravings hit, call a friend.
  19. HANG IN THERE, cravings most always pass within minutes.
  21. If you can make it through the first day, you are TEN TIMES more likely to succeed!
  22. Avoid places where you used to smoke. It will make quitting easier.
  23. Avoid other smokers like the plague. Down the road you will be able to be around them, but not now!
  24. Focus on the positive things you feel happening to your body. You will feel steadily stronger, physically, mentally and emotionally.
  25. Within 20 minutes, your blood pressure and heart rate drop (That's a good thing!).
  26. Within weeks, you will be able to breathe easier and deeper, and your circulation will improve (you can FEEL it!).
  27. When you quit, you dramatically reduce your risk of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke and other horrible illnesses.
  28. A year after quitting, your risk of heart attack is cut in half.
  29. Fifteen years after quitting, an ex-smokers risk of heart attack is the same as a nonsmoker's.
  30. Not only will you be stronger and happier, you will probably live 10 to 12 years longer!
  31. When you quit, you will no longer be hurting your friends and family with secondhand smoke.
  32. Right after quitting, people are often emotional. You may feel depressed or anxious. That's normal and o.k.
  33. Talk to others openly about how you feel. Don't keep it bottled up inside.
  34. IT'S NORMAL to be afraid or even convinced that you won't be able to quit for good. Knowing this simply takes away the power of that fear!
  35. It's O.K. to feel sad or lonely without a cigarette. This crutch was with you through much of your life experience. These feelings do pass!
  36. KEEP TRYING! If you smoke again, don't panic. Think about what specific things failed this time, and learn from the experience. Adjust your strategy accordingly, for the next time you try.
  37. Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit—your health, your family, your future. Keep the list handy. These will light your way when the path gets dark and scary.
  38. Reward yourself with the money you save by not smoking.
  39. Exercise and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and popcorn to help minimize weight gain (you will gain weight, it is unavoidable. You can take it off next year, do NOT worry about it now!)
  40. Quitting may be one of the hardest things you ever do. It is also one of the BEST THINGS you ever do.
  41. Yesterday is gone forever, tomorrow never comes.When tomorrow gets here, it will be today.Today is all we have. – Alcoholics Anonymous-
  42. If you're going through HELL, keep going! – Winston Churchill-
  43. We imagine we would be all right if a big crisis arose, but the big crisis will only reveal the stuff we are made of, it will not put anything into us. Crisis always reveals character. – Oswald Chambers-
  44. More than 40,000,000 Americans have quit smoking.You can too! These people are no different than you, they set a quit date and walked through the door!

Dealing with the urge….One Breath at a Time!

When you get the urge to light up, do one or more of these instead...

  1. Count backwards from 100 sloooooowly... By the time you reach 1, the urge has passed!
  2. Write down all the reasons you decided to quit. Add some more. Keep the list handy. These will light your way when the path gets dark and scary.
  3. Reward yourself.
  4. Relax. Breathe. Stretch.
  5. Walk the dog.
  6. Find a new way to relieve stress.
  7. Bake bread. Smell the wholesome, life-affirming, warm bread instead of deadly smoke.
  8. Put a dime in a jar for every cigarette you DON'T smoke. Count them.
  9. Buy something really special.
  10. Pray.
  12. Do needlework, change the oil, fix something, garden, write letters, play the piano.
  13. Eat celery, carrot sticks, and popcorn.
  14. Get support. Call a friend, now! Call your doctor. Call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for friendly advice.
  15. Make "NO SMOKING" signs for your car, home and office.
  16. Take a nap. Take a shower (you can't smoke there!).
  17. Yell, sing, whine, howl like a wolf...
  18. Chew mints, gum, peppermint sticks, cinnamon sticks, straws, or toothpicks. Suck on candy or Halls lozenges.
  19. Kiss someone.
  20. Drink lots and lots of water, fruit juice, or herbal tea.
  22. Join a quit smoking class/program. Attend quit smoking seminars. Quit smoking programs can give you support and help you handle cravings.
  23. Go somewhere you're not allowed to light up... The library, theatre, restaurant, or store. Stay until the urge passes.
  24. Wash and dry all ashtrays. Decide whether you should toss them or pack them away. Throw away all matches and lighters.
  25. Paint. Sculpt. Make a mess. (Your hands will be too dirty to light a cigarette).
  26. Wash your dog. Wash your car. Wash your hair.
  27. Buy sweet-smelling fresh flowers, deeply inhale their scent until your brain feels better!
  29. Travel, now! Jump in your car and TAKE OFF. I found that long travel, with minimal planning, to be a great outlet for me and a time for quality thinking. I did not feel the urge to smoke, and I thoroughly enjoyed the passing scenery and feeling of freedom.
  30. Get a punching bag and beat the hell out of it.
  31. Cook up a spicy hot dish. Hot peppers clean your senses "to the max" and make you feel alive!
  32. Repeat: I don't have to quit smoking forever... I simply choose not to smoke today... All I really have is today... Tomorrow is a promise.
  33. Make your coffee twice as strong.
  34. Sip on pure Maple syrup, right out of the jug. Picture in your mind the season, people, trees and tapping process.
  35. Smile ear to ear. It takes 54 face muscles to frown, only 8 to smile. Smiling makes your brain think you're happy!
  36. Find a stream and study the ripples to the tiniest detail.
  37. Join a gym. Right now. Go ahead! Swim. Jog. Play tennis or basketball. Do jumping jacks.
  38. Avoid temptation. Avoid bars, smokers, and smoky places.
  39. Brush your teeth. Call your dentist for a good cleaning.
  40. Think positive thoughts.
  41. Hang out with a nonsmoker.
  42. Plan out how you will celebrate a whole day without lighting up. Plan celebration for the one week mark, one month, one year!
  43. Look at pictures of your family and friends. Plan to be around for their birthdays, graduations and weddings.
  44. DON'T GIVE UP!
  45. Hold out for five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen.
  46. Say out loud "I can do this! I can quit!"
  47. Know that you can.
  48. YOU CAN.

For more information visit: http://www.quit-smoking.net/

Tags:  Fun Facts  January 2011  Physical  Quitting Smoking  Second-hand Smoke 

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Quotes (January 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, January 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

January's quotes are dedicated to something we wish many during the holiday seasons: Peace. May we embrace it.

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind...War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today. – John F. Kennedy

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. – Mother Teresa

There was never a good war or a bad peace. – Benjamin Franklin

Imagine all the people Living life in peace.You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one.I hope someday you'll join us, And the world will be as one. – John Lennon

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. – Mahatma Gandhi

If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another. – Winston Churchill

If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children. – Mahatma Gandhi

I prefer the most unfair peace to the most righteous war. – Cicero

War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. – Gen. William T. Sherman

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. – Ernest Hemingway

More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars -- yes, an end to this brutal, in human and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between governments. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds. – Mahatma Gandhi

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous. – George Bernard Shaw

We should take care, in inculcating patriotism into our boys and girls, that is a patriotism above the narrow sentiment which usually stops at one's country, and thus inspires jealousy and enmity in dealing with others... Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind which recognizes justice and reasonableness in the claims of others and which lead our country into comradeship with...the other nations of the world. The first step to this end is to develop peace and goodwill within our borders, by training our youth of both sexes to its practice as their habit of life, so that the jealousies of town against town, class against class and sect against sect no longer exist; and then to extend this good feeling beyond our frontiers towards our neighbors. – Robert Baden-Powell

The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend. – Abraham Lincoln

There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. – A.J. Muste

I would say that I'm a nonviolent soldier. In place of weapons of violence, you have to use your mind, your heart, your sense of humor, every faculty available to you...because no one has the right to take the life of another human being. – Joan Baez

How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we march against an enemy. – Nietzsche

The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace be with you. – The Bible, Genesis 43. 23

The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us: 'That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God's creatures. Belief in God is to love one's fellow men.'– Abdul Ghaffar Khan

We can all do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all frustrations and all disappointments. – Abraham Heshel

If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering. That is the secret. Start right now. – Sister Chän Khöng

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. – Thomas A. Kempis

We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small....And for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors...have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims. – Preamble, Charter of the United Nations.

Tags:  Inspiration  Intellectual  January 2011  Peace  Quotes  Social 

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Healthy Holiday Treats: Gingersnaps (December 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

What a wonderful time of the year it is! No sooner than most finish their Thanksgiving turkey, and they’re out the door to begin the holiday shopping. As fun as shopping can be, my favorite part of the holiday season is spending time with my family and making holiday desserts.

There are many more treats you can make this season that are not only delicious, but healthy too!

One of my favorite traditional holiday snacks are gingersnaps. My grandma’s recipe is definitely not the healthiest, with one serving containing about 120 calories and 2.5g of fat. However, through a quick search online, I was able to find a recipe that is a lot healthier, and tastes just as good. If you have a favorite holiday recipe, try searching online for healthier versions: you can combine healthy eating with nostalgia in a holiday win-win relationship!


  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 4 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup sugar (used to roll dough balls in)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Sift together flour, ginger, allspice, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and 1 ½ cups sugar. Stir in applesauce and molasses.
  4. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture and mix together.
  5. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls. Roll the dough balls in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar.
  6. Place the dough balls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies, or 12 to 15 minutes for crispier cookies.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on wire racks.
  9. Enjoy!

Yields 48 cookies

Nutrition Information:

  • Serving Size: 1 cookie
  • Calories/serving: 63
  • Total Fat: 0.3g
  • Cholesterol: <1 mg

Recipe found at allrecipes.com

By Amber Stieve, NWI Intern

Tags:  December 2010  Diet  Nutrition  Physical  Recipes  Social 

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Creating a Family Medical History (November 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Some things about your family you would rather keep private while other facts and stories are told year after year at family gatherings. One thing most families don't talk about is their medical histories. This isn't a topic most bring up at the supper table but maybe it ought to be. Many disorders and diseases are caused by, or related to, genetics. Finding out information like what kind of cancer did Great Aunt Phyllis die from might be very important.

Gathering a family medical tree is a good idea for any family. Discussing such matters might not be fun at the time, but when all is said and done everyone will benefit.

The main thing to look for when talking to family members about their medical history are diseases or disorders that have occurred during their life. Family medical history is also very helpful to doctors. Doctors use this to assess an individual's risk of diseases, recommend treatments or daily lifestyle changes, determine what kind and when screening tests are needed, identify a condition that might otherwise be ruled out, identify other family members who might be at risk, and assess the likelihood of passing conditions on to children.

Here are five easy steps to compiling a family medical tree.

  1. Make a list of all medications and doctors that your immediate family has.
  2. Talk and list all significant conditions that your family members have or have had in the past. Also, mention treatments and results.
  3. Every time you go to the doctor make sure to write down the information. This way your kids won't have any questions in the future and keeps your log up to date.
  4. Go to your family's doctor office and see what information they have on file.
  5. Make sure to organize information well so generations to come will be able to find the information easily.

Compiling a medical history for your family may be an uncomfortable task but could save someone's life in the long run. Knowing your family history can help you and your doctors make better decisions and may lead to a healthier life!

By Jackie Lutze, NWI Intern

Tags:  Family  Medical Care  November 2010  Physical 

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Pineapple Orange Vegetable Dressing (November 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

This recipe was created by my mother just a few months ago. It's light and sweet. The best part is it can go on any vegetables so it can be personalized depending on the dish. Try it on a stir fry, steamed vegetables or your next salad! It's also great if you add tofu, shrimp, or chicken.


  • 1 orange or 2 Clementines
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Minced ginger
  • Dash of salt

In a medium mixing bowl, add squeezed juice from orange or Clementines, pineapple juice, vinegar, and olive oil and mix. Add brown sugar, stirring until mixed thoroughly. Chop two garlic cloves finely and mix in. Mince or grate ginger into the bowl and add a dash of salt.

If you are making a stir fry, add mix to a wok or frying pan. Add vegetables of choice. Cook on medium high until most of the sauce has been absorbed into the vegetables. Serve over rice or noodles. Enjoy!

Tags:  Diet  November 2010  Nutrition  Physical  Recipes  Social 

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Are you "left" politically? It might be in your genes! (November 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Researchers f from the University of California, San Diego and Harvard University have found evidence that our political leanings might be connected to our genetic make-ups. Published in the Journal of Politics, the scientists found that ideology is affected by both social factors and a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4.

The research focused on 2,000 subjects from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. By matching genetic information with maps of the subjects' social networks, the researchers were able to show that people with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene were more likely to be liberal as adults, but only if they had an active social life in adolescence.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter affecting brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. Previous research has identified a connection between a variant of this gene and novelty-seeking behavior, and this behavior has previously been associated with personality traits related to political liberalism.

Lead researcher James H. Fowler of UC San Diego and his colleagues hypothesized that people with the novelty-seeking gene variant would be more interested in learning about their friends' points of view. As a consequence, people with this genetic predisposition who have a greater-than-average number of friends would be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which might make them more liberal than average. They reported that "it is the crucial interaction of two factors—the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence—that is associated with being more liberal." The research team also showed that this held true independent of ethnicity, culture, sex or age.

Source: www.ucsd.edu

Tags:  Intellectual  November 2010  Policy 

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Why so many peanut allergies? (November 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

If you are like me, you might wonder why so many children seem to be allergic to peanuts these days? I happen to be a gen-Xer who doesn't recall such a widespread allergic reaction from my childhood. A recent report from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology theorizes that pregnant women who eat peanuts may put infants at increased risk for a peanut allergy.

Researchers have found that allergic infants may be at increased risk of peanut allergy if their mothers ingested peanuts during pregnancy. The data are reported in the November 1 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Led by Scott H. Sicherer, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, researchers at five U.S. study sites evaluated 503 infants aged three to 15 months with likely milk or egg allergies or with significant eczema and positive allergy tests to milk or egg, which are factors associated with an increased risk of peanut allergy. The study infants had no previous diagnosis of peanut allergy. A total of 140 infants had strong sensitivity to peanut based on blood tests, and consumption of peanut during pregnancy was a significant predictor of this test result.

The researchers concluded that their study does not definitively indicate that pregnant women should not eat peanut products during pregnancy. However, they agree that the research highlights the need for further investigation in order make recommendations about dietary restrictions. In addition, they caution that the study has limitations, including the reliance on the self-reporting of dietary habits among pregnant women. Importantly, the study has thus far only shown an increased risk for positive allergy test results to peanut.

In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that women whose infants were at increased risk of allergies based upon family history consider avoiding peanut products while pregnant and breast feeding. However, the recommendation was withdrawn in 2008 due to limited scientific evidence to support it. The Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR), which was just awarded a renewed $29.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, is conducting this ongoing, observational study to help better understand the risk factors behind a child's developing peanut allergy, as well as allergies to milk and egg. The Consortium is also studying novel treatments for food allergies.

Source: www.maountsanai.org

Tags:  Allergies  Diet  November 2010  Nutrition  Physical 

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Fun Facts (November 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Here is a great way to discover some fun facts about yourself! The University of Pennsylvania offers a free Authentic Happiness inventory online. The inventory is connected to the book Authentic Happiness by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D. The online test will help each individual who completes it to identify his or her top strengths. The idea is…if we know our top strengths, we can capitalize on them to grow into the people we are supposed to be.

Along with the Authentic Happiness Test there are several other tests online to help individuals get more in touch with themselves. Self awareness is defined as understanding what is important to you, understanding how you experience things, knowing what you want, knowing how you feel, and knowing how you come across to others (Weisinger, 1998).

Why is being self aware so important?

  • Self-awareness is the building block to which all elements of Emotional Intelligence are built upon.
  • It is important to gain a full understanding of your emotions and how they relate to others in order to effectively make decisions both in and out of the workplace.
  • By developing self-awareness, you will be more prepared to make decisions that will not only increase your emotional satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of the people you interact with.
  • Emotional intelligence is based on the idea that you must first become aware of your emotions before you are able to alter your behavior for better results. Studies show that managers who maintain a high level of self-awareness are rated as more effective by both superiors and subordinates than those who are not self-aware (Harvard Business Review).
  • Knowledge about the nature of your personality is vital to making sound decisions.

Understanding personal emotions can be difficult, but worth the process. Dr. John D. Mayer, a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire, has identified three categories that he believes people fall into when it comes to identifying and dealing with their emotions.

  1. Self-aware. These people are aware of their moods as they are having them. Their mindfulness helps them manage their emotions. When they are in a bad mood they don't obsess about it, and are able to get out of it sooner.
  2. Engulfed. These are people who often feel swamped by their emotions and helpless to escape them, as though their emotions have taken charge. They are not very aware of their feelings, so that they are lost in them rather than having some perspective. As a result, they do little to try to escape bad moods, feeling they have not control over their emotional life. They often feel overwhelmed and emotionally out of control.
  3. Accepting. While these people are often clear about what they are feeling, they also tend to be accepting of their moods, and so don't try to change them. There seem to be two branches of the accepting type: those who are usually in good moods and so have little motivation to change them, and people who, despite their clarity about their moods, are susceptible to bad ones but accept them with a laissez-faire attitude, doing nothing to change them despite their distress- a pattern found among depressed people who are resigned to their despair (Goleman, 1998).

Shortcomings in Emotional Intelligence come from habit learned early. Self-awareness is the first step to identifying and changing your behaviors. In order to change a habit, you must first notice when you're falling into it, and second, practice a different response.

To discover more FUN FACTS about yourself visit: Authentic Happiness

Works Cited

Goleman, D (1995). Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Goleman, D (1998). What makes a leader? Harvard Business Review, 76(6). 224-231.

Goleman, D (1998). Working With Emotional Intelligence. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Weisinger, H. (1998). Emotional Intelligence at Work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.

Tags:  Emotional  Happiness  Intellectual  November 2010  Social  Spiritual 

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