Study: Drinking More Than Two Sodas Daily Can Increase Risk of Death

tongpatong/iStock via Getty Images
tongpatong/iStock via Getty Images

Soda has never been part of a healthy diet. In addition to promoting weight gain and concurrent health issues, it can be particularly tough on teeth thanks to its sugar and acidic content. And now it appears that we have more evidence that picking up a soda bottle may have even more dire consequences. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, drinking two soft drinks daily is associated with a higher risk of death from a variety of ailments.

The study looked at 451,743 healthy subjects from 10 European countries that had been recruited for the long-running European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, or EPIC. The participants provided information between 1992 and 2000.

The researchers examined the subjects' reported consumption of soft drinks and their overall mortality rate during a follow-up period of between 11 and 19 years later, which saw 41,693 deaths in that time. Mortality among those who consumed more than two sugary drinks a day was higher than those reporting consumption of less than one drink a month. This was in spite of the fact high-volume consumers were an average of roughly two years younger than their low-volume counterparts.

Notably, the study found that the cause of death differed among subjects who reported drinking artificially sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened options. Drinks with artificial sweeteners were associated with circulatory diseases like coronary artery disease. Sugar-laden drinks were linked to digestive diseases, which can include ailments involving the liver and intestines.

The study’s authors drew two possible conclusions. One, fructose in sugary drinks leads to liver lipogenesis, a precursor to liver disease in non-alcoholics. Artificially flavored drinks might introduce glucose intolerance. Deaths among those consuming the artificially flavored beverages were consistent even among those with a healthy body weight. The authors were careful to note that long-term effects of sweeteners are still poorly understood.

[h/t MarketWatch]

Doctors at a British Hospital Are Now Prescribing Houseplants for Depression

Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to take a trip to the countryside to reap the mental health benefits of being around nature—a single plant might just do the trick (as long as you can keep it alive).

Fast Company reports that the Cornbrook Medical Practice in Manchester, England, is one of the first in the country to prescribe houseplants to help treat anxiety and depression. It’s part of a horticultural therapy program led by a local nonprofit called Sow the City, which leads initiatives to foster community gardens in Manchester.

It’s just as much about building a sense of community through gardening as it is about the therapeutic advantages of caring for your own house plants. “There’s evidence that people who are socially isolated have worse health outcomes,” Sow the City director Jon Ross told Fast Company. The organization has also assisted Cornbrook Medical Practice in establishing its own herb garden, which patients are welcome to help maintain. Ross and his team work closely with doctors at different offices to optimize each garden for its particular clientele—sometimes, that means building a small, flora-filled sanctuary that’s just for rest and relaxation.

Other times, it’s a fully-fledged vegetable garden. For a “Hospital Beds” program at another hospital, Sow the City installed raised vegetable beds where long-term mental illness patients can soak in some sunlight, socialize with each other, and take pride in seeing the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors flourish. There’s an added physical health benefit, too: The patients get to eat the produce. “We really don’t have good food in our public hospitals,” Ross said.

Sow the City also makes sure that no green thumbs are necessary to participate in any gardening party. Its members populate the gardens with already-healthy, easy-to-tend plants, and they’ll even train patients on how to care for them.

If you’re thinking a garden might improve your own quality of life—doctor’s orders or not—here are 10 easy-to-grow plants for first-time gardeners.

[h/t Fast Company]

You’re Probably Brushing Your Teeth All Wrong

busracavus/iStock via Getty Images
busracavus/iStock via Getty Images

No matter how much you hate brushing your teeth, there's no getting around it: Regular brushing helps you maintain a healthy mouth as well as a healthy heart. But even if you've been doing it since you were tall enough to reach your bathroom sink, there's a chance you're not brushing your teeth properly. Fortunately, improving your brushing habits can be as simple as tweaking your technique and taking an extra minute out of your day.

According to Popular Science, the key to productive brushing is duration. Both the American Dental Association and the British Dental Association recommend brushing for at least two minutes at a time twice a day—usually in the morning and at night. Two minutes may not sound like a long time, but unless you're counting down the seconds, it's hard to know exactly how long you've brushed. The easiest fix for this is setting a timer: That way, you can brush mindlessly without worrying about when to stop.

That's not to say every brushing session that hits the two-minute mark will have the same results. When you brush, your goal should be to clean every tooth without abusing your gums. That means gently sweeping the bristles in short, back-and-forth motions at a 45-degree angle to your gums. If your gums feel sore, even after you switch to a gentler technique, the problem may lie in the brush itself. Make sure you choose a tool with soft bristles, as stiff bristles will only cause damage to the sensitive areas of your mouth.

Sometimes even setting a timer, upgrading your toothbrush, and improving your technique isn't enough to combat the central problem of oral hygiene: It isn't very exciting. The more you dislike brushing your teeth, the less likely you are to do it, so you should find any opportunity you can to make it a more rewarding experience. One trick is listening to your toothbrush sounds: Research has shown that people who listened to audio of their brushing played back to them felt cleaner and more accomplished afterwards.

[h/t Popular Science]