Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone is working from home today or at least managing to stay warm and dry somewhere. I know—it's cold outside, which makes it hard to concentrate on anything but where your next mug of hot chocolate is coming from (you should try this recipe, btw), but the show must go on, right?
So once again we've rounded up the most interesting, newsworthy, and fun health-related stories we could find on the web this week. Check them out and, as always, let us know what we missed! Tell us in the comments or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.
1. The paleo diet might not have been so great for our ancestors. Louise Humphrey, a paleo-anthropologist in London, examined the remains of 50 ancient people who lived and died in a cave near Morocco an estimated 15,000 years ago and discovered that they all had severe tooth decay. "I was quite surprised by that," Humphrey told NPR. "I haven't seen that extent of caries in other ancient populations." Based on further research, Humphreys surmises that the ancient population had a thing for acorns, which could have exacerbated tooth decay and rotted their teeth. While this doesn't prove one way or the other that the paleo diet was harmful (hello, cavepeople didn't have toothbrushes...or toothpaste...or floss), it provides an interesting counter to the argument that the paleo diet is the way to go.
2. Meditation might help anxiety and pain. Long been thought to make one more mindful and possibly relieve stress, 30 minutes of daily meditation may also alleviate pain, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University. Researchers examined a variety of patients who suffered from medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, heart disease, insomnia, and substance abuse, and found that while there was low evidence that meditation improved the subjects' overall quality of life, there was moderate evidence to suggest that meditation did improve their levels of anxiety, depression, and pain after eight weeks.
3. A watch might tell you when you'll kick the bucket. In news that's not weird or creepy at all, the makers of a new watch called Tikker have supposedly found a way to calculate approximately the time you'll die. Yup, that's right: The watch tells you down to the very second when you're going to keel over! The idea behind the watch is that if the wearer is constantly reminded of his or her mortality, he or she will find a way to live a more fulfilling, genuine life. I know I'm not a doctor, but I would think that constantly being reminded of your mortality could stress you out just a little bit, and hasn't it been shown that stress can cause you to die sooner? See, I just saved you from an early death. You're welcome.
4. The Mediterranean diet can help fight diabetes. The Mediterranean diet pops up again and again in the news, and for good reason: Study after study shows that people who follow the recommendations live longer, suffer fewer rates of heart disease and stroke, and may have better memories than those who follow other diets. Now it seems it could reduce the risk of diabetes, even without exercise. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that the combination of vegetables, seeds, and fish that are often found in the Mediterranean diet may help the body fight inflammation and insulin resistance, which are often precursors to diabetes.
5. A guy lost 37 pounds eating nothing but McDonald's. In an attempt to discover how fast food would affect his health, John Cisna, an Iowa school teacher, ate nothing but McDonald's for three months. Surprisingly he said he lost 37 pounds as well as improved his cholesterol. That said, we don't advocate eating nothing but fast food every day. Cisna also upped his exercise and stuck to a strict 2,000 calories a day, so maybe those had something to do with it? Plus it remains to be seen whether he experiences any negative side effects from the added salt and sugar he was consuming.