Women Like The Smell Of Guys Who Eat A Certain Diet

What we eat can influence more than our waistlines. It turns out, our diets also help determine what we smell like.

A recent study found that women preferred the body odor of men who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables, whereas men who ate a lot of refined carbohydrates (think bread, pasta) gave off a smell that was less appealing.

Skeptical? At first, I was, too. I thought this line of inquiry must have been dreamed up by the produce industry. (Makes a good marketing campaign, right?)

But it’s legit. “We’ve known for a while that odor is an important component of attractiveness, especially for women,” says Ian Stephen of Macquarie University in Australia. He studies evolution, genetics and psychology and is an author of the study.

From an evolutionary perspective, scientists say our sweat can help signal our health status and could possibly play a role in helping to attract a mate.

How did scientists evaluate the link between diet and the attractiveness of body odor?

They began by recruiting a bunch of healthy, young men. They assessed the men’s skin using an instrument called a spectrophotometer. When people eat a lot of colorful veggies, their skin takes on the hue of carotenoids, the plant pigments that are responsible for bright red, yellow and orange foods.

“The carotenoids get deposited in our skin,” explains Stephen. The spectrophotometer “flashes a light onto your skin and measures the color reflected back,” says Stephen. The results are “a good indicator of how much fruits and vegetables we’re eating,” he says.

Stephen and his colleagues also had the men in the study complete food frequency questionnaires so they could determine the men’s overall patterns of eating. Then the men were given clean T-shirts and asked to do some exercise.

Afterward, women in the study were asked to sniff the sweat. (Note: The methodology was much more scientific and precise than my breezy explanation, but you get the picture.) “We asked the women to rate how much they liked it, how floral, how fruity,” and a bunch of other descriptors, explains Stephen.

It’s a small study, but the results were pretty consistent. “Women basically found that men who ate more vegetables smelled nicer,” Stephen told us.

Men who ate a lot of meat did not produce a sweat that was any more — or less — attractive to women. But meat did tend to make men’s odor more intense.

“This is not the first study to show that diet influences body odor,” says George Preti, an adjunct professor in the dermatology department at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

A study published in 2006 found that women preferred the odor of men who ate a non-meat diet, “characterized by increased intakes of eggs, cheese, soy, fruit and vegetables.”

But Preti points out that the relationship between diet and body odor is indirect.

Some people think if they eat a garlic or onion — or a piece of meat — they will smell like that food. “But that’s not what happens,” Preti says. Your breath might smell like the food you eat, but not your sweat.

Body odor is created when the bacteria on our skin metabolize the compounds that come out of our sweat glands.

“The sweat doesn’t come out smelly,” Preti explains. “It must be metabolized by the bacteria that live on the surface of the skin.”

Now, of course, at a time when good hygiene and deodorant use are commonplace, is the smell of our sweat a big concern?

I put that question to the happy hour crowd at a bar down the street from the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“I’m pretty OK with my smell,” Stefan Ruffini told me. That evening he was ordering a burger on a bun and a side of fries, along with a beer. When I told him about the findings of the study, he laughed it off.

“I’ve got a girlfriend, so I don’t worry about these things,” he said.

The study did not assess diet and odor attractiveness among same-sex couples.

“As a lesbian, I haven’t smelled a man in several years,” Stacy Carroll, who was also at happy hour, told me. “I eat a lot of produce, I have a girlfriend, so it’s working out.”

Carroll says people who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables are more likely to be interested in their health — “feeling good, looking fit” — than their smell.

Science Confirms Plant-Based Protein is the Same as Protein From Meat

No matter what you eat, ensuring that you’re getting enough protein is one of the biggest concerns that many of us have. Not only is it essential for those looking to build muscle, protein is good for muscular health, overall. For a long time, animal-based products have been at the forefront of our obsession with protein. However, as more and more people eschew animal products in favor of plant-based foods, plant-based proteins, such as pea protein, have been on the rise. As we start to see more plant-based proteins making their way into stores, naturally, many of us are asking which type of protein is the best. Well, one group of researchers had the same question — so they got answers.

A recent study published in this month’s issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that if muscle-building protein is what you seek, plant protein is just as good as animal protein. Researchers in this study analyzed the dietary protein intake of a sample of nearly 3,000 men and women, ages 19 to 72, as well as the sources that the protein came from such as dairy, meat, fish, poultry, fast food, and legumes. Then, they analyzed the participants’ lean muscle mass, bone-mineral density, and quadriceps strength. The results revealed that those who consumed low amounts of protein had the lowest measures of muscle mass and strength while those who ate a high protein diet had better muscular health. In both instances, researchers found that there were no significant differences in musculoskeletal health in relation to the type of protein participants consumed. However, the amount of protein consumed by participants did not seem to have a significant effect on bone-mineral density.

According to the study’s lead author, Kelsey Mangano, PhD, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, “as long as a person is exceeding the recommended daily allowance for protein, no matter the source in their diet, they can improve their muscle health.” But, Mangano also advises other factors that should be taken into account when choosing a protein source: “Choose protein sources that are lean—limiting saturated fat—and also those that are low in sodium.” What’s lean, free from saturated fat and sodium, and high in protein? Legumes!

Not only can plant-based protein go head-to-head with animal proteins, choosing plant-based proteins might be the better choice overall. A 2016 study conducted by the University of Copenhagen revealed that those who consumed meals made from legumes felt fuller for a longer period of time. Not only that, participants in the study who consumed a legume-based meal rather than a meat-based meal were shown to consume 12 to 13 percent fewer calories during the next meal. So, go ahead and give that pea protein a try.

A Good Diet Helps People Recover From Depression

Crane your head into the diet, health, and fitness aisle of your local Barnes & Noble, and it won’t take long before you come across dieting books that promise to help repair both body and mind. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find some that claim all our mental woes can be fixed with a new diet.

But nutrition science is a tricky thing to get right. Even once-common tenets of dieting advice — i.e., avoid nearly all fats, eating foods high in cholesterol is bad — have been scratched in recent years. And when it comes to our eating habits and our mental health, there’s been no smoking gun of a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two, just research that suggests the two are connected somehow. A recent study published last January in BMC Medicine, however, appears to be the strongest bit of evidence yet that our minds really are what we eat.

Sixty-seven volunteers dealing with moderate to severe depression were recruited by Australian scientists to take part in a randomized controlled trial. Half were given regular hour-long sessions with a dietician for 12 weeks, intended to help them stick to a modified version of the popular Mediterranean diet, while the other half received social support sessions that let them talk about whatever was on their mind instead. By trial’s end, the dieting group reported a significantly better improvement in their level of depression, and 32 percent even experienced a remission of their symptoms entirely, compared to 8 percent of people in the control group.

While the findings are based on a small group of people and preliminary, the authors wrote, they’re also the first to directly test whether an improved diet can improve our mental health. And if they hold up under scrutiny, it could signal the potential of using dietary counseling to help patients recover from depression, alongside standard treatments like medication and therapy.

Staples of the Mediterranean diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, while the modified diet includes the addition of nuts and legumes. All the volunteers recruited had reported poor diets prior to the study’s start, but volunteers in the dieting group reported eating more of these healthier foods during the trial. Afterwards, the control group was offered a chance to join group nutritional counseling sessions.

While this sort of research can’t tell us why certain foods could relieve depression, it’s thought our diets influence inflammation and how we process stress, and even the kind of harmless bacteria found in our guts, all suspected factors in depression. Some research has also found that people with mental health problems tend to be more malnourished than the general public to begin with, which a good diet could obviously address. And the flurry of positivity that often surrounds changing our lives for the better could also account for a boost in mood, the researchers said.

Importantly, most of the volunteers were already being treated for depression while in the study. Meaning that, contrary to some more dubious claims tossed out by health gurus, a new diet alone shouldn’t be seen as the miracle solution to depression and other mental health disorders. Coupled with the emerging research showing that exercise can also keep us mentally fit, though, it’s fair to say that we can do a lot outside of the doctor’s office to stay on top of our brain game.

How Healthy Is Your Diet? A New At-Home Test Can Answer the Question for You

Pretty soon you won’t be able to lie to your doctor about your diet. Scientists have developed a new five-minute urine test that can measure the health of a person’s diet.

According to a study from Imperial College London, the test analyzes levels of biological markers in urine produced when foods are digested. By looking at the markers, the test can distinguish between different types of food a person has consumed. The results are accurate enough to even differentiate between types of fruits.

Researchers tested the technology by comparing urine samples of the study volunteers with their reported dietary log. The team correctly identified the diets of all 291 participants.

While researchers are still developing the tool, they hope that eventually doctors, and even those trying to lose weight, can use the test to monitor their food intake. Instead of depending on self-reporting or food diaries, this assessment will allow doctors to detect and measure amounts of fat, sugar, fiber and protein in a patient’s diet.

Still, more work needs to be done before the product reaches consumers. Study co-author Dr. Isabel Garcia-Perez said said that researchers “need to develop the test further so we can monitor the diet based on a single urine sample, as well as increase the sensitivity. This will eventually provide a tool for personalized dietary monitoring to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’re not at the stage yet where the test can tell us a person ate 15 chips yesterday and two sausages, but it’s on the way.”

How Nutrition Apps Are Misguiding Users

People trying to improve their diet today are often helpless without an app, which is unfortunate, because most nutrition apps are inadequate, according to a new analysis.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an update to its dietary guidelines in early 2016, Tania Dhawan was a third-year medical student at George Washington University working to investigate the effects of diet on heart health. Dhawan discovered that no one was investigating whether smartphone apps designed to help users maintain a balanced diet were incorporating the evidence-based guidelines.

For the analysis, presented Sunday at the conference of the American Heart Association in New Orleans, Dhawan and her collaborators looked at 32 free apps from the “featured” sections in the Android and Apple app stores. To evaluate these apps, the researchers created an index based on five components such as whether they allowed users to track foods, not just calories and whether they informed users of the daily recommended limit of a particular nutrient and warned them if they were about to go over it.

Apps like Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal ranked high on the researchers’ index. Others, such as Calorie Counter by FatSecret, Foodzy, and Calorie Counter by Everyday Health, fell short. Overall, three quarters of the apps received low scores because they didn’t recommend daily amounts of food groups like dairy or carbohydrates, and 84 percent didn’t get into subgroups like leafy greens or whole grains. She also discovered that Android has a wider selection of diet apps (probably because their “featured apps” section was bigger at the time), and the Apple versions tended to have more bugs.

Overall, the choice of diet and nutrition apps alone can be overwhelming—there are 400 apps to choose from, she says. Dhawan didn’t investigate whether the paid versions of these apps are any more helpful or specific, since most people choose the apps that are easiest to acquire.

The choice of the wrong app could put a person’s whole diet out of whack. “I think there is a potential to be misleading to the consumer,” Dhawan says.

She gives the example of a person seeking to lose weight with the help of a calorie counter that didn’t track food groups. He might think that he’s doing great because he’s not going over 1,800 calories per day. “But if you’re having a lot of fried foods, an app like that doesn’t really have the means to call you out on it,” Dhawan says. The dieter may increase his sodium level and not even know it, which could elevate his risk of heart disease.

Some patients of Dhawan’s, especially older ones, tend to follow directions very closely and probably wouldn’t notice if a nutrition app was leading them towards poor health.

If a person wants to change her diet and doesn’t know much about nutrition, Dhawan suggests that simply reading the USDA nutrition guidelines are a good place to start. Having more background knowledge can help users figure out if their free nutrition apps are really helping them maintain a balanced diet. Another good choice? Seek the advice of a doctor or nutritionist.

Dhawan and her collaborators hope to publish a full study of their analysis in early 2017.

We’ve Long Blamed Carbs For Making Us Fat. What If That’s Wrong?

It’s one of the most hotly contested areas of dieting: How much do carbohydrates matter when it comes to weight loss?

If you ask a number of celebrities and authors of diet books, it’s pasta, bread, and cookies that stand between you and a svelte physique.

These low-carb proselytizers make very specific claims about the effect cutting carbs has on the body, suggesting that it can speed up fat loss and increase calorie burn. Indeed, many dieters have found at least short-term success following low-carb schemes like the Atkins or Dukan diet.

In July, a group of researchers published the best test of those claims to date in the journal American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

They didn’t find evidence that carbs are the magic key to weight and fat loss. But the study demonstrates just how controversial and fraught the low-carb idea is, and how, despite all the magical claims, there’s a lot we still don’t understand about this diet.

The carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis

The main scientific model behind the low-carb approach is the “carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis,” which journalist Gary Taubes, Harvard professor David Ludwig, and others have extensively promoted. It suggests that a diet heavy in carbohydrates (especially refined grains and sugars) leads to weight gain because of a specific mechanism: Carbs drive up insulin in the body, causing the body to hold on to fat and suppress calorie burn.

According to this hypothesis, to lose weight you reduce the amount of carb calories you eat and replace them with fat calories. This is supposed to drive down insulin levels, boost calorie burn, and help fat melt away.

This method arose as an alternative to the classic approach to dieting, in which calories in general are restricted. So instead of just cutting calories, you’re supposed to change the kinds of calories in your diet to lose weight.

But what’s often lost in all the boosterism around the low-carb approach is that it is still an unproven hypothesis in science.

Most tests of low-carb diets have involved either measuring what people eat over long periods of time or assigning people to different diets, and then tracking their weight and health outcomes. But people can’t always stick to the diets they are assigned to for long periods. And when you measure what people are eating naturally, there’s always a chicken-and-egg problem, which is why many diet studies are marred by confounding factors and flaws.

A new study tested the low-carb model — and found little success

The study, led by National Institutes of Health obesity researcher Kevin Hall, tried to address those limitations in an effort to see whether a very low-carb diet (and resulting drop in insulin) led to that often-touted increase in fat loss and calorie burn.

Hall and his colleagues confined 17 overweight and obese patients to the hospital for two months, where they measured their every movement and carefully controlled what they were eating. (Diet researchers call this the “gold standard,” since it was an extremely well-controlled experiment, with all food provided, and it used the best technologies for measuring energy expenditure and body composition.)

For the first month of the study, participants were put on a baseline diet, which was designed to be similar to what they reported they were eating outside the hospital, including lots of sugary carbohydrates. For the second month, the participants got the same amount of calories and protein as they did in the first month of the study, but this time they ramped up the amount of fat in their food and got far fewer carbs.

The researchers were then able to measure what happened to the participants’ insulin production, and related energy burn and fat loss, when they ate fewer carbs.

The results weren’t nearly as dramatic as low-carb boosters claim. “In this case,” Hall said, “we saw daily insulin secretion drop substantially within the first week and stay at a low level. But we only saw a small transient increase in energy expenditure during the first couple of weeks of the [low-carb] diet, and that essentially vanished by the end of the study.”

That short-lived increase in calorie burn amounted to about 100 extra calories per day — less than the 300 to 600 calories promised by low-carb gurus. And compared with the baseline diet, the low-carb diet did not cause subjects to experience an increase in fat loss. To be more specific, it took the full 28 days on the low-carb diet for the subjects to lose the same amount of fat as they did in the first 15 days on the baseline (higher-carb) diet that wasn’t even designed to get them to lose weight.

In other words, the researchers did not find evidence of any dramatic effects after switching to a low-carb diet.

“According to the insulin-carbohydrate model, we should have seen an acceleration in the rate of body fat loss when we cut insulin by 50 percent,” Hall said. But they didn’t, which he thinks suggests that the regulation of fat tissue storage in the body has to do with more than just insulin levels and their relationship with the carbs we eat.

The new results also echo a previous study of the insulin-carbohydrate model, wherein Hall found that people who cut fat in their diets have equal or greater body fat loss than those who cut carbs.

“These studies represent the first rigorous scientific tests of the carb-insulin model in humans,” Hall added. “The public needs to understand that this [insulin-carbohydrate] model now has pretty strong evidence against it.”

Can pasta and bread lovers now rejoice?

The study is a real blow to the low-carb camp, said Richard Bazinet, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. “For the [insulin-carbohydrate] hypothesis to be true, you’d expect they’d lose more weight, and have increased energy expenditure in the low-carb group. But the researchers just didn’t see that.”

But before we throw out the low-carb approach to weight loss and load up on a bowl of linguini, let’s be clear: This study had some important limitations, leading some researchers to react more cautiously. It lacked a control for comparison, and while the baseline diet was designed to keep participants at about the same levels of energy burn they experienced outside of the study, the participants started to lose weight on that diet too. So they were already slimming down by the time they started their low-carb month.

And while the study was designed to overcome some of the limitations of real-world diet studies, a highly controlled setting that amounts to confining people to a hospital and lab isn’t exactly representative of how people actually live and eat.

“These points, along with the small sample size and short-term follow-up, prevent the ability to draw conclusions about the effects of a very low-carbohydrate versus usual carbohydrate diet,” said Deirdre Tobias, an associate epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (We also asked Harvard’s David Ludwig, a leading insulin-carbohydrate hypothesis proponent, for comment but he did not reply to our request.)

What’s more, one of the promises of the low-carb, high-fat diet is that when people start eating this way, they naturally cut back on calories because they’re more satiated (from the protein and fat in their diet). This study didn’t measure that either, since the participants were forced to stick to strictly measured menus.

But as Bazinet points out, “The study … doesn’t see any [relationship between a decrease in insulin and an increase in fat loss]. Show me a better study that supports this.”

There isn’t any, he added.

Other big studies comparing popular diets of different macronutrient compositions also suggest that the low-carb approach probably isn’t a sustainable solution for weight loss. While low-carb diets seem to outperform their higher-carb counterparts in the short term, that effect goes away after about one year.

Another recent review of the research on different types of diets in the Lancet found that low-carb diets outperform low-fat diets. But as a related commentary (also authored by Hall) pointed out, the difference in weight loss among groups of dieters was tiny: “Participants prescribed low-carbohydrate diets lost only about 1 kg of additional weight after 1 year compared with those advised to consume low-fat diets.”

Tobias urged dieters not to lose sight of the bigger picture. “Low-carb versus low-fat should not be the focus for people selecting a weight loss diet.” The focus, she said, should be on improving the quality of food that people eat instead.

Most Vitamins Are Useless, But Here Are The Ones You Should Take

It seems like simple, obvious advice: eat your vegetables, get some exercise, and – of course – take your vitamins. Or not. Decades of research has failed to find any substantial evidence that vitamins and supplements do any significant good.

In fact, recent studies skew in the opposite direction, having found that certain vitamins may be bad for you. Several have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, for example, while others have been tied to a rise in the risk of kidney stones.

And a large new study out Wednesday suggests that despite this growing knowledge, Americans’ pill-popping habits have stayed basically the same over the last decade.

So here are the vitamins and supplements you should take – and the ones you should avoid:

Multivitamins: Skip them – you get everything you need with a balanced diet.

For decades, it was assumed that multivitamins were critical to overall health. Vitamin C to “boost your immune system”, Vitamin A to protect your vision, Vitamin B to keep you energized.

Not only do you already get these ingredients from the food you eat, but studies suggest that consuming them in excess can actually cause harm.

A large 2011 study of close to 39,000 older women over 25 years found that women who took them in the long term actually had a higher overall risk of death than those who did not.

Vitamin D: Take it – it helps keep your bones strong and it’s hard to get from food.

Vitamin D isn’t present in most of the foods we eat, but it’s a critical ingredient that keeps our bones strong by helping us absorb calcium.

Getting sunlight helps our bodies produce it as well, but it can be tough to get enough in the winter. Several recent study reviews have found that people who took Vitamin D supplements daily lived longer, on average, than those who didn’t.

Antioxidants: Skip them – an excess of these has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, and you can eat berries instead.

Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants found in plentiful form in many fruits – especially berries – and veggies, and they’ve been touted for their alleged ability to protect against cancer.

But studies suggest that when taken in excess, antioxidants can actually be harmful. A large, long-term study of male smokers found that those who regularly took Vitamin A were more likely to get lung cancer than those who didn’t.

And a 2007 review of trials of several different types of antioxidant supplements put it this way: “Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality.”

Vitamin C: Skip it – it probably won’t help you get over your cold, and you can eat citrus fruits instead.

The Vitamin C hype – which started with a suggestion from chemist Linus Pauling made in the 1970s and has peaked with Airborne and Emergen-C – is just that: hype.

Study after study has shown that Vitamin C does little to nothing to prevent the common cold. Plus, megadoses of 2,000 milligrams or more can raise your risk of painful kidney stones.

So get your Vitamin C from your food instead. Strawberries are packed with the nutrient.

Vitamin B3: Skip it and eat salmon, tuna, or beets instead.

For years, Vitamin B3 was promoted to treat everything from Alzheimer’s to heart disease. But recent studies have called for an end to the over-prescription of the nutrient.

large 2014 study of more than 25,000 people with heart disease found that putting people on long-acting doses of Vitamin B3 to raise their levels of ‘good’, or HDL, cholesterol didn’t reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, or deaths.

Plus, people in the study who took the B3 supplements were more likely than those taking a placebo to develop infections, liver problems, and internal bleeding.

Probiotics: Skip them – the science isn’t advanced enough yet for them to have a significant benefit, and you can eat yogurt instead.

Probiotics – pricey bacterial supplements that can cost upward of $1 per pill but are found naturally in smaller amounts in yogurt and other fermented foods – have become a big business with a market of roughly US $23.1 billion in 2012.

The idea behind them is simple: Support the trillions of bacteria blossoming in our gut which we know play a crucial role in regulating our health.

But putting that idea into actual practice has been a bit more complicated. So far, the effects of probiotics have been all over the map. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don’t. So rather than shelling out for a pill that promises to be a cure-all, snack on a parfait.

Zinc: Take it – it’s one of the only ingredients linked to shortening a cold.

Unlike Vitamin C, which studies have found likely does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold, zinc may actually be worth it. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold.

In a 2011 review of studies of people who’d recently gotten sick, researchers looked at those who’d started taking zinc and compared them with those who just took a placebo. The ones on the zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Vitamin E: Skip it – an excess has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, and you can eat spinach instead.

The antioxidant Vitamin E was popularized for its alleged ability to protect against cancer. But a large 2011 study of close to 36,000 men found that the risk of prostate cancer actually increased among the men taking Vitamin E compared to the men taking a placebo.

And a 2005 study linked high doses of Vitamin E with an overall higher risk of death. So if you’re looking for more Vitamin E, make yourself a fresh spinach salad and skip the pill. Dark greens like spinach are rich with this stuff.

Folic acid: Take it if you’re pregnant, or if you might want to get pregnant.

Folic acid is a B vitamin which our bodies use to make new cells.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that women who are currently pregnant or who want to get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily because their bodies demand more of this key nutrient when they are carrying a growing fetus.

Additionally, several large studies have linked folic acid supplementation before and during pregnancy with decreased rates of neural-tube defects, serious and life-threatening birth defects of the baby’s brain, spine, or spinal cord.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

5 Ways Beer Is Good For You

If you enjoy a beer at the end of the day, it may do more than just relax you after a long day at work. Researchers are finding that there are many ways beer can be beneficial — when it’s consumed in moderation, of course. These health and social benefits of beer may surprise you.

Beer is brain food

Researchers found a compound in hops called xanthohumol might help to fight free radical damage in the brain and also slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The idea, according to the study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry , is that xanthohumol might guard brain cells from damage, preventing or slowing down diseases associated with the brain degeneration.

Beer makes you happy and friendly

Again, moderation is the key to this benefit. Researchers studied what consuming enough beer to raise your blood alcohol to .4 grams per liter (amount of beer consumed varied by each person’s weight) did to people’s emotions. Half of the people in the study were given alcoholic beer, and half were given non-alcoholic beer, according to Science Daily .

Those given the beer with alcohol were more likely to recognize happy faces more quickly, want to be with others in a happy social situation, and “has a surprising effect on sexual perception,” according to researchers from the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland.

The subjects (30 men and 30 women) took a range of tasks, including a face recognition test, an empathy test and a sexual arousal test. What researchers learned is that all the tasks were easier after drinking about half a liter of beer, especially for those who were more socially inhibited to begin with.

Beer is rehydrating

Philadelphia’s Fishtown Beer Runner’s Club ends its group runs at a local bar with a beer. While that may seem like it might cancel out the good a run does, science says differently, according to Drink Philly . A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition compared how well beer rehydrated someone after exercise to how well water did. The conclusion? If you’re healthy, beer in moderate amounts will hydrate as effectively as water.

Beer provides iron

Beer is rich in iron, and dark beer has more of the mineral than light beer, according to Science Daily . Iron helps carry oxygen from your lungs to muscles and organs. Without it, you will feel more tired and cranky. Researchers from University of Valladolid in Spain looked at 40 brands of beer and found that dark beer has more free iron than light or non-alcoholic beers.

Beer aids in digestion

This one may come as a surprise since drinking too much beer can leave you feel bloated, but beer may make it easier to digest food, according to Everyday Health . University of Vienna researchers found that the bitter acids in beer trigger the release of gastric acid in the stomach, and that acid is important for food digestion. It also curbs the growth of bad gut bacteria.

Of course, the detriments of drinking too much alcohol far outweigh the benefits of moderate drinking. If you’re going to drink beer for its benefits, do so lightly.

New Report Finds Serious Health Risks From Taking Dietary Supplements

Millions of people in the U.S. use dietary supplements, but a new report may have you taking a closer look at what is in your medicine cabinet.

Logan Stiner’s family has been taking on the supplement industry after the healthy 18-year old suddenly died from a powdered caffeine supplement.

“He had no idea what he was doing,” says his mother, Katie Stiner.

A new Consumer Reports’ investigation finds serious health risks from supplements including vitamins, probiotics, and weight loss pills.

Researchers have identified 15 ingredients to always avoid, including kava, red yeast, and caffeine powder.

Lisa Gill, Deputy Content Editor at Consumer Reports outlines some of the risks, “Liver failure, kidney failure requiring kidney transplants, seizures, heart problems.”

Unlike prescription drugs, manufacturers don’t have to prove safety and effectiveness for supplements.

The government is doing nothing to ensure that the supplements on store shelves are safe,” says Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School.

In fact, a recent study found more than 23,000 people end up in the E.R. each year because of supplements.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition which represents the supplement industry maintains that “overwhelmingly, dietary supplements are safe and play a valuable role in helping Americans live healthy lifestyles.”

But experts caution patients should speak to their doctor before taking any supplement.

Consumer Reports recommends consumers look for a United States Pharmacopeia, or USP, label if they must take supplements. That means the product was tested for potency and purity.

How to Boost Metabolism with a Smoothie

Want to boost metabolism to lose fat, lose weight, and increase energy? Having breakfast is key and so is eating 6 mini meals a day and that’s super easy to do if you incorporate a metabolism boosting smoothie into your day.

Things You’ll Need

  • blender
  • 8 oz. low fat milk or soy milk
  • 1/2 to 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1/2 cup fresh berries
  • 6 oz. low-fat yogurt
  • 2 scoops whey protein powder
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter or flaxseed oil
  • makes 2 servings so save one for later!

Instructions

  1. Pour milk, yogurt and frozen berries into blender. Cover and use the ice crush or grate setting to mix for about 30-60 seconds. Time may vary due to type of blender.Uncover and add fresh berries, whey protein powder, and natural peanut butter or flaxseed oil. Cover and use the blend or puree setting to mix for about 30-60 seconds.

    Switch to whip setting and blend for about 60-90 seconds. Smoothie should be thick and slow to pour out of blender.