Women ratchet themselves up the social ladder, 1 high heel at a time

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When moving to richer locations, women embrace local trends, when moving to poor locations, women ignore them. CREDIT: Gilt

Fashion seems to embrace two opposite goals–fitting in with the crowd and standing out from it. Now new research reveals that the choice to fit in or stand out depends on who exactly the crowd is – and the size of their high heels. That is, women adjust their fashion to look similar to the rich but different from the poor.

Kurt Gray, a co-author at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his colleagues investigated thousands of shoe purchases made by women who move to different cities, showing that women adopt the local trends when moving to wealthier cities but ignore them when moving to lower socioeconomic (SES) cities.

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Yeast infection linked to mental illness

This is a person with an oral Candida infection. CREDIT : WikiCommons, source James Heilman, M.D.

This is a person with an oral Candida infection.
CREDIT : WikiCommons, source James Heilman, M.D.

In a study prompted in part by suggestions from people with mental illness, Johns Hopkins researchers found that a history ofCandida yeast infections was more common in a group of men with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder than in those without these disorders, and that women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who tested positive for Candida performed worse on a standard memory test than women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who had no evidence of past infection.

The researchers caution that their findings, described online on May 4 in npj Schizophrenia — a new publication from Nature Publishing Group — do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between mental illness and yeast infections but may support a more detailed examination into the role of lifestyle, immune system weaknesses and gut-brain connections as contributing factors to the risk of psychiatric disorders and memory impairment.

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Apples or fries

There has been a lot of enthusiasm for nudging individuals to eat better without restricting choice by making healthy foods more visible, attractive, and convenient. One such effort is for restaurants to serve meals with a default healthy side, such as sliced apples instead of fries, while still allowing the customer to opt out of the healthy side in favor of their preferred side dish.

While this strategy has proven to work well with adults in certain settings, researchers Brian Wansink, PhD, and David Just from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab tested out this strategy with young children to see if they would opt out of the healthy option. “We guessed that children would opt out of a healthier default when much-loved fries were an option,” explains David Just. “We were surprised that this was the case even for a relatively attractive healthy option like apple slices.”

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Ocean views linked to better mental health

Ocean viewHere’s another reason to start saving for that beach house: New research suggests that residents with a view of the water are less stressed.

The study, co-authored by Michigan State University’s Amber L. Pearson, is the first to find a link between health and the visibility of water, which the researchers call blue space.

“Increased views of blue space is significantly associated with lower levels of psychological distress,” said Pearson, assistant professor of health geography and a member of MSU’s Water Science Network. “However, we did not find that with green space.”

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Can yoga help those experiencing depression, anxiety or PTSD?

Seniors practicing yogaAcross the country, health and human service providers have shown a growing interest in using yoga as an option for treating people who experience mental health problems. But a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that while there are some promising benefits to using yoga, there isn’t yet enough evidence to support the practice as a standalone solution for improving mental health and well-being.

“I really wanted to know if yoga is something we should be suggesting to people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression, or anxiety or various traumas. What does the evidence really say?,” said Rebecca Macy, a researcher who works with violence and trauma survivors who headed up the study at the UNC School of Social Work.

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