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Mood foods and you

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As anyone who's ever seen me try to navigate a menu at an Indian restaurant can attest to, I have virtually no tolerance for spicy foods. For years I avoided them like the plague, until a few months ago when someone slipped a few serious Jalapenos onto a deli sandwich I was eating. As my eyes began to water and I gritted my teeth, waiting for the fire to die out, a friend said "Sure it hurts, but doesn't it feel good, too?" And through the pain, I realized he was right: something about that spiciness was tickling my brain. I had a heightened sense of awareness, a boosted mood and, all told, a sense of humor about the jalapeno trick I might not have had a few minutes prior. Suddenly I was hooked: hot peppers are mood food!

Naturally, I wanted to find other mood foods, and figure out how to maximize my brain power via the foods I eat. One thing I learned about food and mood a long time ago was that if I was ever feeling down, an unhealthy lunch of drive-thru burger and fries was an almost instant pick-me-up -- leading to an inevitable crash about 40 minutes later. So Wendy's was definitely off the mood food list. (It's easy to see how eating can become a cycle of addiction for the morbidly obese: you eat to feel better, but then you feel worse than before, the easiest cure for which is just a drive-thru away. Yikes.)

To help navigate the menu of mood foods, here are some tips:

"¢ Want to avoid the post-lunch snoozies? Stay alert with protein: five ounces of grilled chicken at lunch will promote the creation of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain, which will help keep you sharp all afternoon.

Kill stress with foods rich in magnesium, like sesame seeds and spinach. They fight stress hormones and reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.

Fat-free carbs fight insomnia. Try eating your favorite fat-free carb-heavy snack (like popcorn) a half-hour before bed. It creates serotonin, which relaxes you -- but fat will slow the process.

Get happy with fish. According to Men's Health, "a study in Finland found that people who eat more fish are 31 percent less likely to suffer from depression." Grilled salmon or sushi are a great way to go (and if you have a family history of high cholesterol, like me, the Omega-3 oils in salmon will do your heart good, as well).

Remember the antioxidants ... or you might not remember anything. Your brain is an organ that needs lots of oxygen, so oxidants can really affect its function. Antioxidants like colorful fruits and vegetables help "pick off the free radicals that wear away at your memory."

Which mood foods help you?

Info source: Men's Health

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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