Did you know that chopsticks help against boredom? That our medicines are destroying the environment? Or that a new blood test can read our inner clock? DW brings you this week's health news, all in one handy guide!
Eat popcorn with chopsticks!
Many of us get bored with our daily routines, our jobs, with the food we eat or the movies we watch. But by performing old activities in unusual and new ways, we can rediscover lost enjoyments. That's the result of a recent study by researchers at the American universities of Ohio State and Chicago.
The study participants were asked to eat popcorn with chopsticks, drink water in a fun manner or watch a movie in an unconventional way. The results showed that doing old things in new ways makes them more exciting and refreshing.
"When you eat popcorn with chopsticks, you pay more attention and you are more immersed in the experience," explains Robert Smith, co-author of the study. "It's like eating popcorn for the first time."
So, get creative! Maybe drink water from a martini glass, move your furniture around or eat your salad with chopsticks instead of a fork.
The toilet: No place for expired medicines!
In recent years, studies have increasingly shown that wastewater around the world contains large amounts of medicinal residues. Most of these medicines have been excreted, but some end up in wastewater because people throw their old tablets and liquid medications into the toilet.
A vast majority of medications recently found in German wastewater treatment plants are painkillers, antibiotics and blood pressure medicines. In 2017, researchers found large amounts of neuropsychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, in unfiltered wastewater and freshwater in the US state of New York.
Not only are these residues potentially harmful for humans, they can also greatly affect animal and plant life. A recent European study, for example, found high concentrations of hormones from contraceptive pills in various mountain lakes. The researchers found high infertility and mortality rates amongst the male fish in these lakes, showing that they were greatly affected by the residues.
Countries are now working to increase the effectiveness of their treatment plants. Old medicines should not be thrown into the toilet, but rather discarded with the standard household waste.
New blood test reads inner clock
For the first time ever, researchers can read a person's inner clock using a single blood test. With the help of special computer algorithms, a team at Berlin's Charité university hospital isolated twelve genes. Found in the blood, these biomarkers allow them to objectively read an individual's inner clock.
Everyone has their own inner clock, which is different from person to person. Some people may be "night owls," whereas others are more likely to be "early birds." This is especially important for determining the best time of day to take certain medicines.
The process is called chronotherapy, and in the future, the researchers hope they can develop a more personalized approach to chronotherapy. This would mean that the time of day in which patients take certain medications would be determined by their inner clock. Consequently, the efficacy of medicines would increase, and side effects could be minimized.