We’re back from our break, but that doesn’t mean everything has changed. Those new year resolutions will only work if you have lots of support. Of course, we mean the support of hard science. Joanna Zhang lays out the scientific backing so hopefully we won’t relapse this semester.
Winter Break means going home and eating food every waking moment because dining hall food has permanently traumatized our taste buds. But now that Bwoggers are back on campus, it’s time to cut the bad eating habits. It turns out that what you eat affects how you sleep. A recent study by the Institute of Human Nutrition at CUMC has shown that constantly eating food with low fiber, high saturated fat, and high sugar content lead to lighter and easily disrupted sleep. Participants who were given meals prepared by a nutritionist with lower saturated fat and higher protein fell asleep faster than those who self-selected meals. In fact, a single day of increased fat and decreased fiber intake could noticeably affect sleep quality. Although this week is syllabus week, the rest of the semester will only deteriorate, so Bwoggers should at least try to make sure the daily 5 to 6 hours of sleep is enjoyable.
Did you pick up some alcohol or nicotine dependency last semester? It’s okay, we understand. Well if you made some lofty new year resolutions to quit one or the other, it’s probably best to quit both altogether. Traditional treatments for alcohol abuse does not include smoking mainly due to the fact that it’s deemed too hard for the patients, but according to the Mailman School of Public Health, recovering alcoholics who continue smoking have a higher chance of relapse. Both daily and non-daily smokers had around twice the likelihood of relapsing back to alcoholism compared to nonsmokers. While it has yet to be determined exactly why this is the case, past research has shown that there’s significant neurochemical and behavioral links between smoking and drinking.
But don’t fret if your New Year’s resolutions aren’t exactly panning out. Lee Goldman, chief executive of CUMC and dean of Columbia’s medical school, recently published a book titled Too Much of A Good Thing arguing that many of our problems lie in our genes. According to Goldman, we are currently living with genes that were designed for survival thousands of years ago. For example, the inability to commit to a diet stems from when humans were still roaming for food, while the tendency for high blood pressure is due to high salt levels in modern diets which had never been the case in the far past when salt was extremely rare. He notes that everyone’s genes is different, and so to better treat and prevent diseases, we must look at a patient’s genes instead of generalizing. Goldman concludes that while behavioral changes is worth an attempt, we must realize that sometimes our genes will win.
That’s it for this week! Did you make any resolutions for 2016? We recommend sticking it out for another week or so before giving up so you can at least say you tried.