Here’s What to Expect Before, During, and After an MRI

MRIs sound like a nightmare—but they don’t have to be.

Getting an MRI scan probably doesn’t top your list of ways to spend your free time, unless you like lying in tubes that make loud and mystifying noises. Can’t relate!

Unfortunately, sometimes getting an MRI (which stands for magnetic resonance imaging) is just a medically necessary evil. In that case, you’ll have to schlep over to your local radiology clinic or hospital to spend some quality time inside a machine that lets doctors see what’s up inside your body. If the thought sends shivers down your spine, there’s some good news: MRIs often aren’t as scary as they seem.

In case you’re not familiar with the test, an MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to make detailed pictures of your insides.

When you’re inside an MRI machine, its magnetic field temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body, according to the Mayo Clinic. Radio waves make these atoms create very faint signals—and those are used to make cross-sectional images. Those images are layered on top of each other to give doctors a really good view of the inside of your body that they can see from different angles.

Doctors will often turn to an MRI when they suspect you have an injury or illness that an X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound won’t pick up, Mina Makary, M.D., chief diagnostic radiology resident at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. “It provides excellent anatomical detail of the soft tissues, which is helpful for the evaluation of specific conditions,” she explains.

There is a huge range of issues an MRI can spot, including disk abnormalities in your spine, joint problems, tumors in various organs like your kidneys and ovaries, structural problems in your heart, and brain injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic.

You don’t usually have to do a ton of preparation before you get an MRI.

In most cases, you’ll make an appointment to have your scan done and just show up with zero prep work, Kerry L. Thomas, M.D., a radiologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, tells SELF. But if you’re undergoing a pelvic or abdominal MRI, your doctor may ask you to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours beforehand. Skipping food and beverages for a bit will improve the image quality by causing less movement in your gastrointestinal tract, Bachir Taouli, M.D., a professor of radiology and director of body MRI at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, tells SELF.

There are a few things that can mess with your test, which is why it’s so important to be upfront and honest about your health history.

If you have tattoos, the Mayo Clinic advises asking your doctor whether they might impact your test results, since some darker inks can contain metal. “The most important part of having an MRI is that you do not have any metal on for your scan,” Dr. Thomas says. “The machine is very a strong magnet, and metals can cause problems.”

It’s also important to tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Medical experts don’t understand the effects of magnetic fields on fetuses, and your doctor may recommend using an alternative test or postponing the MRI until after you give birth, the Mayo Clinic says.

Once you arrive at the appointment, you’ll need to remove all metal you might be wearing, like rings, earrings, or glasses and fill out a checklist to make sure you don’t have metal inside your body, like an artificial heart valve, pacemaker, or cochlear implants. Your doctor may also ask if you have a copper IUD (sold under the brand name ParaGard), since copper is a metal. While it’s safe to get an MRI when you have a copper IUD, the prescribing information recommends doing it at what’s known as 1.5 Tesla (the unit used to measure MRI strength), which isn’t as powerful as the 3.0 Tesla often used for MRIs, Dr. Taouli says. This is to avoid the (very minimal) chance of the magnet affecting the metal in the IUD.

Depending on why you’re having your MRI, you may need an injection of a contrasting agent beforehand.

In some cases, your doctor will want to perform an MRI with contrast, which means you’ll be injected with a contrasting agent like gadolinium right before your MRI. Gadolinium lights up when you get a scan and can help doctors get a better look at your brain, heart, and blood vessels. This can aid them in making a diagnosis of things like cancer or an inflammatory condition like multiple sclerosis, Suresh Mukherji, M.D., chairman of the department of radiology at Michigan State University, tells SELF. The American College of Radiology notes that the use of contrast agents is “not completely devoid of risk,” pointing out that some people may have side effects ranging from minor discomfort to “rare severe life-threatening situations.” According to the ACR, the adverse event rate for gadolinium-based contrast media (GBCM) ranges from 0.07 percent to 2.4 percent, which includes mild reactions (like coldness or warmth, headache, nausea) to more severe allergic-like reactions.

The ACR notes that millions of MRIs are done with contrast every year without issues. Allergic-like reactions and severe life-threatening anaphylactic reactions are uncommon, but can happen in less than 1 percent of cases, according to the ACR.

Some people also worry about after-effects. The ACR notes that residual gadolinium was recently found in the brain tissue of people who received multiple gadolinium-based contrasts in the past. The Food and Drug Administration also released a safety alert stating that the brain can retain gadolinium deposits, but also said it found no evidence that this is harmful. Ultimately, the FDA says that the benefits of an MRI with contrast exceed the potential risks.

If you’re nervous about having an MRI with contrast, talk to your doctor about why they requested this particular test and whether you have other options.

Once you change into a gown, it’s time to get into the MRI machine.

The machine will typically be long and tube-shaped with one or two open ends, though newer “open” MRI machines may not be closed on the sides. An MRI technician will ask you to lie down on a table and will often hand you a headset to put on before the actual test gets started. “Patients are given a headset to allow for communication during the MRI scan,” Dr. Taouli explains.

When it’s time for your test to begin, the technician will go behind a partition and the platform you’re lying on will move into the MRI machine. The table you’re on might move you around to allow for better imaging, but you’ll typically need to keep your body as motionless as possible during your exam. “It is critical to lie still during an MRI examination as any movement can disrupt the images being formed, and the exam will need to be repeated,” Dr. Makary says. The only exception is during a functional MRI, when the technician might ask you to perform small tasks like tapping your thumb against your fingers to see how your brain works, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It’s probably going to be loud and you might feel kind of claustrophobic, but there are some things you can do to make getting an MRI as comfortable as possible.

While there’s some variation depending on your injury or illness, MRIs can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s a lot of time to be amped up with anxiety, so there are a few steps you can take to stay calm.

During your MRI, you’ll hear really loud noises like thumping and tapping as the machine goes to work. If you already know that’s going to freak you out, you can ask for earplugs. The MRI technician may also be able to play music through the headset you’re wearing, so you can ask if this is a possibility when setting up your scan. You might also want to ask if you’ll be able to use an “open” MRI machine rather than one closed at the sides, or at least one that’s newer and might be roomier than past models.

Even though the inside of newer MRI machines aren’t exactly palatial, they’re better than they used to be. Older MRI machines had ceilings that were very close to a person’s face and head, making it easy to feel claustrophobic during your scan, according to the USCF Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging. The tunnels in newer MRI machines are bigger and, while you still might feel a little claustrophobic, you have more space than you would have in the past.

Even better, depending on the part of your body being evaluated, you may not need to have your entire body or head inside the machine at all.

If you’d like to have other options, too, ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for sedation, anesthesia, or an anti-anxiety drug they can prescribe for you to take beforehand. You can also ask about the possibility of holding a “panic button” that you can press if you’re getting scared and need to stop the exam.

It’s worth discussing all of this with your medical team way before your appointment. This will allow you to take advantage of any accommodations possible, just in case, and also to better anticipate exactly what the process will feel like.

You really don’t need to do anything special after your scan.

You’ll simply change back into your clothes, grab your stuff, and go about your day. There also aren’t any restrictions on what you can do after the test. “Patients can resume their normal activities immediately after the MRI scan,” Dr. Taouli says. (Unless you had any drugs for sedation or anxiety, in which case you may need someone to drive you home; be sure to ask your doctor about this beforehand.)

Beyond that, you’ll just need to wait to hear from your doctor about your test results. This might feel as anxiety-provoking as getting the MRI itself, which is why it’s a good idea to ask how long it’ll take for you hear back, along with potential next steps you can expect based on their findings so you’re prepared for all outcomes.


14 Interesting Facts About Women That Even Women Didn’t Know!

Since time immemorial, women have always been viewed as beautiful, mysterious beings, capable of swooning us with a bat of their eyelid. Even though they aren’t just a tool for men to satisfy their carnal desires, as they have proved through leaps and bounds.

Despite that, a complete understanding of any being is impossible, for something always crops us that stun us into a stupor. Some of them are ludicrous, but they affirm the preconceived notions that women have been burdened with for centuries.

Bachelors take notes, these facts about women could be important for you, if you try to approach a single lady.

1. Woman Meaning

1. Woman

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has been the first known instance when the word ‘woman’ came in usage. The word is a portmanteau of the Middle English word ‘woman’ that means ‘wife of a man’.

2. Eyes Blink

2. Blinking Eyes

A woman fluttering her eyelids have ensnared men for centuries. So, it is somewhat unsurprising that they blink twice more than we men do.

3. Third Nipple

3. Third Nipple

Chandler’s third nipple? Scientifically, 2% of women population has the third nipple.

4. Talking

4. Woman Talking

Before undermining the intellectual and literate status of a woman, one should keep in mind that they speak close to 20,000 words a day, 13000 more than men.

5. Colors

5. Colors

Even been disconcerted when a woman asks you to choose between navy blue, cobalt blue, and royal blue, for they just blue to you? This is because some women have a mutated gene, leading them to see a myriad of colors.

6. Heart disease


To identify and diagnose a woman with cardiac arrests, look for signs of nausea, shoulder pain, and indigestion.

7. Sex ratio


The sex ratio of Russia favors women more, for there are 9 million more women.

8. Pregnancy8. Pregnancy

Tragically, one female in every 90 seconds dies during pregnancy, due to faulty and sub-par health care.

9. After Sex Thoughts

9. After Sex

The man’s mind thinks of turning and sleeping after sex. A woman wants to kiss, cuddle and talk.

10. Trust

10. Trust

If you want a woman to trust you, grab her and hold her for over 15 seconds.

11. Computer Science

11. Computer Science

Lady Ada Lovelace was the first computer engineer. She worked on the Analytical Engine.

12. Height

12. Height

Women who are considerable more statuesque, or simply, tall, are more likely to be afflicted by cancer than women who are short.

13. Flexibility

13. Flexible

Have you ever noticed that a woman can answer your call just by turning her neck, where you have to complete displace yourself from your previous position? This is because they have a more flexible neck.

14. Ears

If you’re ranting at a woman who isn’t interested, she would always plug her ears with her fingers, rather than her hands, as men do.

These facts might make someone a bit more informed about women, but there is a lot left, to understand them. The trick is to respect them as equals and treat them with the love and care they deserve. They will pour their heart out to you.

Is Nonalcoholic Beer an Effective Recovery Drink?

Story at-a-glance

  • Germany’s success in the 2018 Winter Olympics — tying for first with Norway with 14 gold medals and taking second place overall with a total medal count of 31 — has some speculating about the role nonalcoholic beer may have played as a “sports drink”
  • Studies show alcohol-free beer fights inflammation and reduces upper respiratory tract infections in athletes participating in intense training and competitions
  • While some believe the plant-based polyphenols in beer make it a healthier postworkout choice than commercial sports drinks, many beers contain toxic ingredients such as GE corn, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and propylene glycol
  • In my opinion, the best rehydration beverages are pure, clean water for shorter periods of moderate exercise and coconut water for lengthy strenuous workouts and competitions.


By Dr. Mercola

Is it possible nonalcoholic beer was partly responsible for Germany’s success in the 2018 Winter Olympics? According to German ski team doctor Johannes Scherr,1 the answer is a resounding yes. Scherr says nearly all of his athletes drink nonalcoholic beer during training and some continued drinking it as a recovery beverage during the Winter Games. Research conducted by Scherr and others show alcohol-free beer fights inflammation and reduces upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs).

Nonalcoholic beer is so intertwined with German sports, the brewery Krombacher shipped 3,500 liters (about 924 gallons) of it to the athletes’ village in Pyeongchang, South Korea. German Olympic athletes such as alpine ski racer Linus Strasser and biathlete Simon Schempp are among those who routinely use beer as a recovery drink.

While it may be difficult to directly link the nonalcoholic brew with Germany’s success, the country tied for first with Norway with 14 gold medals and took second place overall with a total medal count of 31. While those results are impressive, you may be wondering about the science behind beer as a sports drink. Is nonalcoholic beer an effective rehydration and recovery drink?

The Science Behind ‘Recovery Beer’ for Athletes

According to The New York Times,2 Scherr, who in addition to his role as an Olympic team doctor is also a sports medicine teacher at the Technical University of Munich, made the discovery about “recovery beer” in 2009. At the time, Scherr noticed athletes who drank nonalcoholic beer suffered fewer URTIs than athletes who had received a placebo. In addition, Scherr noted athletes who consumed nonalcoholic brew also experienced significantly reduced inflammation, which enabled them to recover faster between competitions.

Scherr’s double-blind study, which was financed by a brewing company and published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise3 in 2012, involved 277 healthy male runners. The men, ages 31 to 51, were participants in the Munich Marathon. Each runner consumed 1 to 1.5 liters of nonalcoholic beer daily for three weeks prior to and two weeks immediately following the race.

The placebo group received a similar foamy nonalcoholic beer with the polyphenols removed. The objective of the research was to determine if nonalcoholic beer, which contains antioxidant, antipathogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, could benefit athletes. To Scherr’s surprise, the results indicated the group of beer-drinking runners, as compared to the placebo group, experienced:4,5

  • A 20 percent reduction in the activity of white blood cells, a good indicator of inflammation
  • More than a threefold reduction in the incidence of postrace URTIs

Given the outcome, German athletes are not the only ones benefiting from nonalcoholic beer as a recovery beverage — a 2016 Chilean study6 published in the journal Nutrients found soccer players who downed nonalcoholic beer before their workouts stayed better hydrated than their peers who drank regular beer and water.

Polyphenols and Beer: What’s the Connection?

The high concentration of polyphenols contained in beer is what researchers believe delivers the powerful immune-boosting effects uncovered by Scherr and his colleagues. According to Runner’s World, “beer is known to include more than 2,000 organic and inorganic chemicals, including more than 50 polyphenols from barley and hops.”7

One of Scherr’s research partners, David Nieman, a professor in Appalachian State University’s department of health and exercise science, has studied the health benefits of phenols. He suggests phenol-rich diets help lower inflammation and curb your risk of illness. In addition to their antiviral properties, Nieman states, “[Polyphenols] have a very unique molecular structure that can actually regulate the genes that control inflammation.”8

To be effective as a recovery beverage, nonalcoholic beer has to be formulated properly, says associate professor and dietitian Ben Desbrow, Ph.D., from Griffith University in Australia.9 Traditional beer provides an insufficient amount of carbohydrates and electrolytes to benefit your body after exercise, notes Desbrow, who has been experimenting with formulations that will provide the beneficial properties of a rehydration drink without the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

In a 2013 study published in International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,10 Desbrow and his colleagues found that beer with a lower alcohol content and added salt provided better hydration than traditional compositions. Given its status as a plant-based beverage, Desbrow and his team believe reduced-alcohol beer has more naturally occurring nutrients than commercial sports drinks.

“A properly formulated beer beverage is likely to do you no more harm than you are likely to get from a sports drink,” said Desbrow.11 A 2015 study,12 also involving Desbrow, reflects that making changes to the electrolyte concentration of low-alcohol beer appears to more significantly impact an athlete’s postexercise fluid retention than small changes made to its alcohol content.

The History of German Nonalcoholic Beer

Although nonalcoholic beer has been around in Germany since 1973, Scherr notes only in the past decade have beer companies been more intentional about pitching nonalcoholic products to health-conscious consumers. Once the scientific research was completed, the public began to respond to alcohol-free beer. As such, according to Euromonitor International, consumption of nonalcoholic beer in Germany grew 43 percent from 2011 to 2016, even as overall consumption of beer declined.13

According to The New York Times,14 Germans fall in second place behind Iran as the nation consuming the most nonalcoholic beer. It’s no surprise then to learn that Germany has worked hard to develop brewing techniques designed to perfect and differentiate the flavor of alcohol-free brews.  The work seems to be wildly successful based on the fact more than 400 nonalcoholic beers are now available on the German market. Below are a few of the tactics German breweries have used to market their nonalcoholic beers exclusively as sports drinks:15

  • Bavarian brewery Erdinger touts its nonalcoholic wheat beer as “the isotonic thirst quencher for athletes”
  • Heineken alcohol-free beer, which is dubbed “Heineken 0.0,”16 will be featured in vending machines at McFit Fitness locations nationwide
  • Nonalcoholic beer is made available to runners at the finish line of most major German marathons, with Erdinger supplying 30,000 bottles of its “Alkoholfrei” beer to finishers of the 2017 Berlin Marathon

In a press release announcing its sponsorship of a 2015 marathon in Orange County, California, Erdinger had this to say about its sober brew:17

“Brewed under the strict Bavarian Purity Law of 1516, which requires high-quality, only natural ingredients, Erdinger Non-Alcoholic replenishes the body with essential vitamins including B9 and B12, which help reduce fatigue, promote energy-yielding metabolism and support the immune system. The brew contains less than 0.5 percent of alcohol by volume, and is low in calories with just 125 per serving.”

Alcohol-Free Beer Versus Traditional Sports Drinks: Which Is Better?

Traditional sports drinks like Gatorade do not have much of a following in Germany. One reason for this may be the high sugar content. Nonalcoholic beer has a lower sugar content than most sports drinks and a taste that is preferred by Germans. “It tastes good, and it’s good for the body,” said Strasser after finishing his second run in the men’s giant slalom at the Winter Olympics. “Alcohol-free wheat beer, for example, is extremely healthy.”18

German speed skater Moritz Geisreiter says he drank nonalcoholic beer from the grocery store before switching to a custom sports beverage created by a nutritionist. “[Nonalcoholic beer is] a nice solution for someone who doesn’t want to pay dozens of euros a week for a nutrition drink,” he said during an interview at the Olympic speedskating oval in Gangneung, South Korea.19

Despite their increasing market share and tremendous popularity, particularly in the U.S., sports drinks are a terrible choice. They are overmarketed to children and teens and promoted as a necessity after even mild activity. In my opinion, they are among the worst beverages you can consume. If you don’t believe me, take a look at some of the ingredients featured in one popular brand:

Citric acid Glycerol ester of rosin High-fructose corn syrup (Glucose-fructose syrup)
Modified food starch Monopotassium phosphate Natural flavor
Red 40 Salt Sodium citrate
Sucrose syrup Water

Many sports drinks contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of a comparable serving of soda. In addition, as reflected above, these unnaturally neon-colored beverages are filled with toxic ingredients such as artificial flavors, artificial colors and high-fructose corn syrup. On top of that, the low-calorie and sugar-free versions most likely contain artificial sweeteners, which are even worse for you than fructose.

An additional concern is the fact the sugar content of a single sports drink (roughly 29 grams) represents nearly TWICE the daily recommended fructose allowance if you are insulin resistant, and it’s 4 grams over the suggested limit if you are noninsulin resistant! Because your liver has to process all that sugar, you put yourself at risk of chronic metabolic disease and insulin resistance when you overconsume sugar.

Unchecked, insulin resistance can progress to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. The metabolism of fructose by your liver also creates a number of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up your blood pressure and can cause gout. Before you decide if nonalcoholic beer is a better choice than commercial sports drinks, it’s important to consider some of the ingredients commonly found in beer.

Caution: Your Favorite Beer May Contain Toxic Ingredients

If the ingredients in commercial sports drinks not only have you concerned, but also thinking beer may be a better choice for hydration and recovery, think twice. You may be surprised to learn that most beer, particularly brands produced in the U.S., contain toxic ingredients known to damage your health, such as genetically engineered (GE) corn, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, as well as bisphenol A (BPA),carrageenan, caramel coloring, monosodium glutamate and propylene glycol, to name a few.20,21

Based on stricter regulations around food safety as well as bans on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), European beers are typically a better choice, as are organic beers. About German beers, the Food Babe says:22

“German beers are … a good bet. The Germans are very serious about the purity of their beer and enacted a purity law called ‘Reinheitsgebot’ that requires all German beers to be only produced with a core ingredient list of water, hops, yeast, malted barley or wheat. Advocates of German beers insist they taste cleaner and some even claim they don’t suffer from hangovers as a result.”

If you choose to use nonalcoholic beer as a recovery beverage after strenuous workouts, be sure to do your homework and choose a brand that has a clean ingredient list. Better yet, consider coconut water.

Coconut Water: Your Best Source of Natural Electrolytes

While alcohol-free beer has secured its place as a popular and well-liked rehydration beverage for German athletes, including many who competed in this year’s Winter Olympics, I believe coconut water is still the best rehydration drink on the planet. Coconut water is a well-known source of natural electrolytes and boasts an outstanding nutritional profile. It’s so well-regarded, in fact, coconut water was used intravenously, short-term, during World War II to help hydrate critically ill patients in emergency situations.

Coconut water is particularly beneficial if you engage in activities resulting in profuse sweating. You can drink it plain or add fresh citrus juice for flavor. Beyond its alkalizing effects, coconut water possesses unique nutritional qualities due to the fact coconut palms grow in rich volcanic soils and mineral-rich seawater. Coconut water is:

  • A powerhouse of electrolytes and natural salts, especially magnesium and potassium
  • Full of cytokinins, or plant hormones, which have antiaging, anticancer and antithrombotic effects in humans
  • Light, low-calorie and low in sugar, but pleasantly sweet
  • Packed with amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes, organic acids and phytonutrients
  • Rich in natural vitamins (particularly B vitamins), minerals and trace elements, including iodine, manganese, selenium, sulfur and zinc

Coconut Water Is the No. 1 ‘Sports Drink’

For most amateur athletes and casual exercisers, sports drinks are not only unnecessary and costly, but also, they can damage your health. A tiny fraction of the people who consume sports drinks derive any benefit from them. Due to the number of toxic ingredients, most sports drinks do more harm than good. Fortunately, natural coconut water is free of toxins and artificial ingredients. (Watch out for bottled varieties though, as they often contain unhealthy additives.)

If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a low to moderate intensity or engage in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), clean, pure water is the main beverage you need to stay hydrated. It’s only when you’ve been exercising for more than 60 minutes, in high heat or at extreme intensity levels, involving profuse sweating, that you may need something more than water to replenish your body.If you need electrolytes, coconut water will provide them. If you don’t need electrolytes, intaking them certainly won’t hurt you. To restore your salt balance, you might want to add a tiny pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your glass of coconut water.

How to read less news but be more informed, according to a futurist

You might think someone who gets paid to predict the future would be mad for gadgets and forever spouting off on social media. But you’d be wrong. Writer and futurist Richard Watson may teach London business students and Silicon Valley tech companies how to think about crafting tools for tomorrow, but he’s not even on Twitter.

A woman surfs the Internet on her smartphone in Moscow's subway, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014.

What’s more, Watson doesn’t really follow the news in any conventional way. He reads Sunday newspapers, in print, retrospectively. He’s not trying to catch up but to check and see which of the many headlines turned out to be relevant a few weeks or a month later. In other words, Watson is neutral about current events. He’s placing any given moment in a much greater context than the day or the week. Watson’s scale is grand and includes all of human history and its possible futures. In this very long view, nothing is such a big deal, although anything may become relevant eventually.

Instead of focusing on what everyone is already talking about, Watson hunts down unusual knowledge. He shared with Quartz his approach to creating a smart information filter—a net that captures what’s happening and what really matters without making you a slave to information of fleeting importance.

1. “Practice selective ignorance”

You can’t read or think about everything, so keep that in mind when choosing materials and pick quality over quantity, and try to create a wide context. In other words, triangulate between breadth and depth. The more information is available, the less we tend to digest, and people are increasingly tuning out even while they consume, so it makes sense to consume less and better data.

2. “Burst the bubble”

Watson advises that we randomly pick up books and magazines, and strike up conversations with strangers. These random acts of interest in strangers and unusual communications break your information consumption routines and expose you to unique insights.

3. Find the “tall poppies”

The futurist advises that each of us cultivate a network of curious and remarkable people who are hungry for interesting information and can guide our thinking. Such remarkable characters are called “tall poppies” in some companies, and Watson believes collecting these human blooms drives success.

4. Hit the road

“Travel. But again take the path untrodden,” Watson urges. “We are herd animals and the temptation is always to follow the herd. Try not to.”

5. Find sources you trust

Follow reliable, thoughtful, forward-looking publications and journalists online and let them do the heavy lifting, finding the most interesting info for you. If the publication or person is focused on thoughtful analysis and not panic news, you’ll hear worthwhile insights. Watson especially recommends perusing weekend editions of quality newspapers.

6. Chill out

“Relax,” writes the futurist. “The important news will find you. It will.” Watson is confident that relevant information makes its way to us, and that much of what we fuss over daily is just stuff that will soon be forgotten.

7. Carve out designated reading time

“Have a think week every year,” Watson says. Microsoft founder Bill Gates takes time to reflect on the future of technology from deep in a forest, for example. He reads dozens of academic papers during a solitary and studious retreat in the woods, which helps to fuel innovative thinking all year long.

8. Embrace silence

“Learn how to look and listen deeply,” Watson recommends. “Stop talking. Start listening. Be curious all the time.” Find quiet settings that elicit a certain reverence, like deserts, mountains, and even churches, places where reflection and contemplation come easily.

9. “Get off social media”

Common knowledge is common, and there’s a glut of it online. But surprising info collected by curious oddballs is precious, valuable, and worth hunting down. Watson says, “Become cynical about trends. Watch for counter-trends. Visit the fringe.”

10. Go dark

Finally, switch communications off once a week and every evening. If you are brave, Watson says, dare to own no cellphone.

Watson’s approach is counterintuitive but consistent, and can be basically summed up in one principle: Be contrarian. Get smart by not worrying about where the crowd is going.

Ageing and inflammation in patients with HIV infection


Nowadays, HIV+ patients have an expected lifespan that is only slightly shorter than healthy individuals. For this reason, along with the fact that infection can be acquired at a relatively advanced age, the effects of ageing on HIV+ people have begun to be evident. Successful anti-viral treatment is, on one hand, responsible for the development of side effects related to drug toxicity; on the other hand, it is not able to inhibit the onset of several complications caused by persistent immune activation and chronic inflammation. Therefore, patients with a relatively advanced age, i.e. aged more than 50 years, can experience pathologies that affect much older citizens. HIV+ individuals with non-AIDS-related complications can thus come to the attention of clinicians because of the presence of neurocognitive disorders, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, bone abnormalities and non-HIV-associated cancers. Chronic inflammation and immune activation, observed typically in elderly people and defined as ‘inflammaging’, can be present in HIV+ patients who experience a type of premature ageing, which affects the quality of life significantly. This relatively new condition is extremely complex, and important factors have been identified as well as the traditional behavioural risk factors, e.g. the toxicity of anti-retroviral treatments and the above-mentioned chronic inflammation leading to a functional decline and a vulnerability to injury or pathologies. Here, we discuss the role of inflammation and immune activation on the most important non-AIDS-related complications of chronic HIV infection, and the contribution of aging per se to this scenario

Soccer Is Basically Medicine, Some Researchers Argue

Compared to inactive people, recreational soccer players have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as less fat mass, a research review suggests.

Compared to some other forms of exercise, including running and Zumba, soccer may also be just as beneficial to health, with added social, motivational and competitive benefits, the study team writes online January 25 in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Soccer training is an effective broad-spectrum prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases for participants across the lifespan, independent of age, gender, fitness level or soccer skills,” said senior study author Peter Krustrup, a professor of sport and health sciences at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense.

“Altogether, comprehensive research shows that soccer is medicine, soccer is for almost all and soccer is for life,” Krustrup said by email.

Exercise has long been a cornerstone of the non-pharmaceutical treatment approaches to a range of diseases influenced by lifestyle habits such as high blood pressure, diabetes and bone deterioration. Plenty of previous research also links high-intensity interval training to improved cardiovascular fitness and strength training to gains in bone and muscle health.

For the current study, researchers examined data from 31 previously published studies of the effects of soccer on blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat composition, metabolic health and jumping ability. Across all of the studies, researchers looked for the size of the effect soccer appeared to have on these different aspects of health and compared it to no exercise or to other forms of exercise.

Soccer was much better for blood pressure than being inactive. When researchers looked at systolic blood pressure (SBP), they found soccer was associated with average decreases of 4.2 mmHg. With diastolic blood pressure (DBP), soccer was linked to average decreases of 3.89 mmHg.

The size of the benefit tied to soccer appeared even bigger among people who had slightly elevated blood pressure or already had mild hypertension.

The American Heart Association defines hypertension as SBP of 130 mmHg or higher and DBP of 80 mmHg or higher. When people had slightly elevated blood pressure that wasn’t yet above the threshold for hypertension, soccer was associated with decreases of 10 mmHg SBP and 7 mmHg DBP.

People with mild hypertension who played soccer experienced average decreases of 11 mmHg SBP and 7 mmHg DBP, compared with inactive individuals.

Soccer players also had a resting heart rate of about 6 beats per minute slower than inactive individuals.

Only a few small studies included in the analysis compared soccer to other forms of exercise. They found that compared to a running regimen or to the cardio dance exercise Zumba, soccer held its own with regard to blood pressure, body fat, heart rate, LDL “bad” cholesterol and jumping performance.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove that soccer directly benefits health.

Football, as soccer is called in most places outside the U.S., obviously isn’t the only way to get exercise, but the current study results suggest that it may be one of the best options around, said Andre Seabra, director of the Portugal Football School, Federacao Portuguesa de Futebol and a sports professor at the University of Porto.

“The evidence of health benefits combined with the fact that football is very popular, cheap and easy to implement, and has very simple rules, are more than enough reasons for the population to choose to practice it,” Seabra, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

9 Health Benefits of Oranges Backed By Science

9 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Oranges

The orange is both a literal and symbolic embodiment of the sun, from whose light it is formed. As a whole food it irradiates us with a spectrum of healing properties, the most prominent of which some call “vitamin C activity,” but which is not reducible to the chemical skeleton known as ‘ascorbic acid.’ Science now confirms the orange has a broad range of medicinal properties, which is why the ancients knew it both as a food and a medicine.

As our increasingly overdiagnosed and overmedicated population leaps lemming-like over the cliff of pharmaceutically-driven conventional medicine, with most drugs carrying a dozen or more adverse side effects for every benefit advertised, we can find great wisdom in Meryl Streep’s quote:

“It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.”

~ Meryl Streep

Indeed, many common fruits and vegetables “crouching” at the local produce stand have “hidden healing powers,” and have been used as both medicines and nourishing foods since time immemorial. We’re only just beginning to understand how these foods contain vitally important information-continaing molecules, such as microRNAs, which profoundly impact the expression of our entire genome.

I firmly believe that access to fresh, organic produce is as vital a health necessity as access to water, and clean air. Over the course of hundreds of millions of years, the bodies of our ancestors (whose genes our still within our own) co-evolved with higher, flowering and fruiting plants, and the tens of thousands of phytocompounds (and informational molecules) they contain, many of which now regulate and maintain the expression and health of our genes. Therefore, without the regular consumption of these foods, the developmentn of suboptimal health, and likely many feared acute and chronic diseases, is inevitable.

Orange is one such food-medicine marvel, containing a broad range of compounds increasingly being recognized to be essential for human health. We consider it a sweet treat, its juice a refreshing beverage, but do we ever really reflect on its medicinal properties? has indexed no less than 37 distinct health benefits its use may confer, all of which can be explored on our Orange Medicinal Properties research page.  What follows are some of its most well-established therapeutic applications, divided into three parts: the juice, the peel and the aroma:

The Juice of the Orange

Many of us mistakenly look to orange juice today as a dangerous source of highly concentrated fructose – simple “carbs” – without recognizing its profound medicinal properties. We sometimes think we can get the vitamin C activity oranges contain through the semi-synthetic ‘nutrient’ ascorbic acid, without realizing that an orange embodies (as do all whole foods) a complex orchestra of chemistries, the handiwork of millions of years of evolution, which is to say a process of intelligent biological design.  The ‘monochemical nutrient’ – ascorbic acid – is merely a shadow of the vitamin C activity that is carried and expressed through only living foods. The orange, after all, looks like a miniature sun, is formed as a condensation of energy and information from sunlight, and therefore is capable of storing,  and after being eaten, irradiating us with life-giving packets of information-dense gene-regulating nutrition, by a mechanism that will never be fully reducible to or intelligible by the chemical skeleton we know of as ascorbic acid.

The Medicinal Properties of Oranges

Given that thought, here are some of the evidence-based benefits of orange juice:

  • Orange Juice Improves “Good” Cholesterol: While it is debatable that lowering so-called “LDL” cholesterol is nearly as good for heart health as statin drug manufacturers would like for us to believe, raising “HDL” cholesterol does seem to have real health benefits. This is, however, quite hard to do with diet and nutrition, and impossible through medication. Other than taking high-dose fish oil, few things have been studied to be effective. Except, that is, orange juice.  A 2000 study found that the consumption of 750 mL of orange juice a day, over a 4 weeks, improved blood lipid profiles by decreasing the LDL-HDL cholesterol ratio by 16% in patients with elevated cholesterol.[1]
  • Orange Juice Boosts Bone Health: A 2006 animal study in male rats found that orange juice positively influenced antioxidant status and bone strength.[2]
  • Orange Juice (mixed with Blackcurrant Juice) Reduces Inflammation: A 2009 study in patients with peripheral artery disease found that orange and blackcurrant juice reduced C-reactive protein (11%)  and fibrinogen levels (3%), two concrete measures of systemic inflammation.[3] A 2010 study found that Orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin induced toxicity.[4]
  • Orange Juice Boosts Weight Loss: A 2011 study found that children who regularly drank orange juice consumed an average of 523 calories a day more than children who did not drink orange juice regularly. Yet surprisingly, there was no difference in the weight levels between the orange juice consumers and the non-orange juice consumers.[5]
  • Orange Juice May Dissolve Kidney Stones: A 2006 study found that orange juice consumption was associated with lower calculated calcium oxalate supersaturation and lower calculated undissociated uric acid, two indices of lowered urinary calcium stone formation.[6]
  • Orange Juice Extract Suppresses Prostate Proliferation: Despite the fructose content, a 2006 study found a standardized extract of red orange juice inhibited the proliferation of human prostate cells in vitro.[7]

The Peel of the Orange

The peel of the orange contains a broad range of potent, potentially therapeutic compounds.  These include pectin and flavonoid constituents, such as hersperiden, naringin, polymethoxyflavones, quercetin and rutin, various carotenoids, and a major odor constituent known as d-limonene, which makes up 90% of the citrus peel oil content, and is a compound that gets its name from the rind of the lemon, which contains a significant quantity of it. It is listed in the US Code of Federal Regulations as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and is commonly used as a flavoring agent.  D-limonene has been studied to have potent anti-cancer properties, including against metastatic melanoma.[8]

The whole peel extract has been studied to have a wide range of benefits:

  • Orange Peel exhibits Anti-Arthritic Properties: A 2010 study found that orange peel extract significant suppressed vaccine adjuvant-induced arthritis in a preclinical model.[9]
  • Orange Peel (Flavonoids) Exhibit Anti-Cancer Properties:  A 2007 study found that orange peel extract inhibited tumorigenesis in a preclinical mouse model of adenomatous polyposis and increases programmed cell death.[i]  Two additional 2007studies found that orange peel extract has anti-breast cancer properties. The first, by exhibiting chemopreventive properties against mammary tumor lesions in an animal model.[10] The second, by inhibiting breast cancer cell lines in vitro.[11] Additionally, a 2000 study found that flavanone intake is inversely associated with esophageal cancer risk and may account, with vitamin C, for the protective effect of fruit, especially citrus fruit, on esophageal cancer. [12] Finally, a 2005 study found that carotenoids from orange may help to reverse multidrug resistance.

The Aroma of the Orange

The physiological mechanisms by which aromas may have therapeutic properties (aroma-therapy) are well-established. The small molecules that comprise the aroma of things, are capable of entering directly through the nostrils and into the olfactory lobe, thus enabling them to have profound affects on deep structures within our brain, and as a result our entire bodily and emotional infrastructure.

  • Orange Scent Reduces Anxiety, Boosts Mood:  A 2000 study found that the aroma of orange essential oil reduces anxiety, generates a more positive mood, and a higher level of calmness in women exposed to it in a dental office waiting room.[13]  This finding was confirmed again in a 2005 study, where ambient odors of reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment.[14]

Clearly oranges have a lot to offer as a medicinal food, beyond the obvious aesthetic pleasures they afford. Science may never plumb the depths of their value to our body and mind, but what has been revealed thus far is compelling enough to put it back on the list of ‘super foods’ which we aspire to consume more of in order to nourish ourselves on a deep level.


[1] E M Kurowska, J D Spence, J Jordan, S Wetmore, D J Freeman, L A Piché, P Serratore. HDL-cholesterol-raising effect of orange juice in subjects with hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Nov;72(5):1095-100. PMID: 11063434

[2] Farzad Deyhim, Kristy Garica, Erica Lopez, Julia Gonzalez, Sumiyo Ino, Michelle Garcia, Bhimanagouda S Patil. Citrus juice modulates bone strength in male senescent rat model of osteoporosis. Nutrition. 2006 May;22(5):559-63. Epub 2006 Feb 10. PMID: 16472977

[3] Christine Dalgård, Flemming Nielsen, Jason D Morrow, Henrik Enghusen-Poulsen, Torbjörn Jonung, Mogens Hørder, Moniek P M de Maat. Supplementation with orange and blackcurrant juice, but not vitamin E, improves inflammatory markers in patients with peripheral arterial disease. Br J Nutr. 2009 Jan;101(2):263-9. Epub 2008 May 28. PMID: 18507878

[4] Husam Ghanim, Chang Ling Sia, Manish Upadhyay, Mannish Upadhyay, Kelly Korzeniewski, Prabhakar Viswanathan, Sanaa Abuaysheh, Priya Mohanty, Paresh Dandona. Orange juice neutralizes the proinflammatory effect of a high-fat, high-carbohydrate meal and prevents endotoxin increase and Toll-like receptor expression. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Apr;91(4):940-9. Epub 2010 Mar 3. PMID: 20200256

[5] O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Rampersaud GC, Fulgoni VL 3rd. One hundred percent orange juice consumption is associated with better diet quality, improved nutrient adequacy, and no increased risk for overweight/obesity in children. Nutr Res. 2011 Sep;31(9):673-82.associated with better diet quality, improved nutrient adequacy, and no increased risk for overweight/obesity in children. Nutr Res. 2011 Sep;31(9):673-82.

[6] Clarita V Odvina. Comparative value of orange juice versus lemonade in reducing stone-forming risk. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Nov;1(6):1269-74. Epub 2006 Aug 30. PMID: 17699358

[7] Federica Vitali, Claudia Pennisi, Antonio Tomaino, Francesco Bonina, Anna De Pasquale, Antonella Saija, Beatrice Tita. Effect of a standardized extract of red orange juice on proliferation of human prostate cells in vitro. Fitoterapia. 2006 Apr;77(3):151-5. Epub 2006 Feb 23. PMID: 16530345

[8], D-Limenone’s Anti-Cancer Properties

[9] Gang Chen, Zhongyi Yin, Xuxu Zheng. [Effect and mechanism of total flavonoids of orange peel on rat adjuvant arthritis]. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2010 May;35(10):1298-301. PMID: 20707201

[10] Sadanori Abe, Kunhua Fan, Chi-Tang Ho, Geetha Ghai, Kan Yang. Chemopreventive effects of orange peel extract (OPE). II: OPE inhibits atypical hyperplastic lesions in rodent mammary gland. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):18-24. PMID: 17472462

[11] Igor N Sergeev, Chi-Tang Ho, Shiming Li, Julie Colby, Slavik Dushenkov. Apoptosis-inducing activity of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones and polymethoxyflavones from orange peel in human breast cancer cells. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Dec;51(12):1478-84. PMID: 17979096

[12] Marta Rossi, Werner Garavello, Renato Talamini, Carlo La Vecchia, Silvia Franceschi, Pagona Lagiou, Paola Zambon, Luigino Dal Maso, Cristina Bosetti, Eva Negri. Flavonoids and risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer. Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 10;160(7):1009-13. PMID: 17192901

[13] J Lehrner, C Eckersberger, P Walla, G Pötsch, L Deecke. Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients. Physiol Behav. 2000 Oct 1-15;71(1-2):83-6. PMID: 11134689

[14] J Lehrner, G Marwinski, S Lehr, P Johren, L Deecke. Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):92-5. PMID: 16095639

[i] Kunhua Fan, Naoto Kurihara, Sadanori Abe, Chi-Tang Ho, Geetha Ghai, Kan Yang. Chemopreventive effects of orange peel extract (OPE). I: OPE inhibits intestinal tumor growth in ApcMin/+ mice. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):11-7. PMID: 17472461

Wanna Clone Your Dog Like Barbra Streisand? Here Are Four Things You Need to Know.

In Brief

When Barbra Streisand’s beloved pet dog passed away, she used cells taken from its cheek and stomach to produce two clones. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in doing the same.

This week, a Variety cover story broke the most newsworthy animal cloning story since Dolly the sheep. Before Samantha, Barbra Streisand’s well-loved Coton de Tuléar, passed away in 2017 at the age of 14, her owner had her clonednot once, but twice. Cells from the dog’s mouth and stomach were used to create the two clones, which are called Miss Scarlett and Miss Violet.

If you’re thinking about following Streisand’s example and are dead-set on bringing Fido back to life, here’s are a few things you should know.

It’s Not Cheap

Streisand didn’t reveal which company she entrusted with cloning her pet, but the options currently available are rather expensive. A South Korean lab called Sooam Biotech has reportedly carried out the procedure over 600 times, and charges $100,000 per attempt, while the Texas-based ViaGen Pets asks for a more reasonable $50,000 each time, according to a report from the New York Times.

It’s Not Fool-proof

That price tag is even more distressing when you learn that making a genetic copy of your pup is far from a guarantee. Sooam Biotech estimates that its cloning process works about a third of the time, per NPR. Other dogs are used as surrogates, and provide eggs, and their welfare has to be taken into account when we consider the ethics of cloning – is it really fine to have a dog miscarry unnecessarily?

The Cloned Dog Might Not Act The Same

Our genes do not dictate who we are. Identical twins can sometimes act, or even look, pretty different. The same is true for cloned dogs. Pet cloning company My Friend Again writes on the FAQ on its web site: “If the new clone grows up in the same environment as the original dog than the personality will be the same or closely similar.” Closely similar. 

Don’t Leave it Too Late

Still thinking of cloning your dog? It’s best to plan ahead.

If your dog is still alive, you can take it to the vet to get the biopsy sample required for cloning – an eight-millimeter piece of skin from its abdomen, according to Business Insider. If it’s already passed away, you’re not completely out of luck, but you’ll need to wrap its body in wet towels and keep it in the refrigerator until you can take it to a vet and get those samples. Not exactly letting Fido rest in peace.

Maybe Consider Adoption

By bringing another animal into the world, you might be leaving one more to die. Every year, around 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized in the U.S. alone because nobody wants them. Also, it’s way cheaper to adopt from a shelter, or even from a breeder, than to clone the family canine.

7 Traits Kids Get From Their Fathers

7 Traits Kids Get From Their Fathers

Here’s Why Paper Cuts Hurt So Damn Much, According to Science


You wouldn’t think that a flimsy piece of paper could inflict such sharp pain on the human body, but of all life’s little annoyances, paper cuts are one of the worst.

While not overly serious in the grand scheme of things, they sure provide a lot of pain for such a minor injury. So why do paper cuts hurt so much, even if they don’t pierce the skin?

Turns out, it’s your nerve endings that are mainly to blame: we’ve got more pain receptors in the tips of our fingers than almost anywhere else in the body, which you might have already realised if you’ve ever tried to pick up something very hot.

“Fingertips are how we explore the world, how we do small delicate tasks,” dermatologist Hayley Goldbach from the University of California, Los Angeles, told Jason G. Goldman at the BBC. “So it makes sense that we have a lot of nerve endings there. It’s kind of a safety mechanism.”

These nerve endings are called nociceptors, and they warn the brain – through the sensation of pain – about high temperatures, dangerous chemicals, and pressure that could break the skin.

Some blame also lies with the paper, though – paper edges are not as smooth as they might appear from a distance, and can leave a rough trail of destruction on the skin, rather than a good, clean nick.

Finally, paper cuts are usually not deep enough to activate the body’s natural defence mechanisms – such as blood clotting and scabbing – so the damaged nerve endings in our fingers are left exposed.

Not only that, but the open wound is flexed and strained every time we use our hands until the skin is repaired.

All of which means that paper cuts are disproportionately painful – or at least, that’s what we can assume based on the limited evidence we’ve got. In the absence of a queue of volunteers lining up to slice open their fingers with paper, scientists have to use what they already know about the body to take an educated guess.

“We can use our knowledge of human anatomy to help us out here,” said Goldbach. “It’s all a question of anatomy.”

But you can do a little scientific experimentation on yourself to personally examine the hypothesis. Get hold of a paperclip, then bend it so the two ends are close together and pointing in the same direction.

Try poking your back or legs and see if you can distinguish between the two sharp points, then try again on your hands or your face. It’s much easier to feel both points the second time around because of the extra nerve endings.

Congratulations – you just discovered two-point discrimination, which is the ability to recognise two distinct impressions on the skin, and not confuse them as one.

In Scientific American’s Instant Egghead video below, researchers suggest that there could be a psychological element to paper cuts as well: in our minds, the pain is made all the more acute because it was caused by something so small and apparently harmless.

So now you know the science behind paper cuts. But the most important tip? Exercise extreme caution around stationery.

A version of this article was first published in September 2016.

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