There Will Be More Plastic Than Fish in the Ocean By 2050

It’s time for Captain Planet and the Planeteers to make a comeback. A new study from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests that plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh fish in just three and a half decades, the Huffington Post reports.

“The best research currently available estimates that there are over 150 million tonnes (165 million tons) of plastics in the ocean today,” it read. “In a business-as-usual scenario, the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne (1.1 tons) of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).”

To make you feel even worse, the World Economic Forum reports that the equivalent of one garbage truck worth of plastic leaks into the ocean every minute.

For those less concerned about the environment (that helps you breathe air and provides your food), there is also a major economic impact. The study found that the loss of plastic materials, which could have been recycled, costs the economy $120 billion annually.

Dietitians, Nutritionists, and Psychologists Have Ranked the Best Diets of 2016

Not all diets are created equal, and no one knows that more than US News & World Report, which, on Tuesday, released a ranking of the best diets for 2016. Some of the diets are designed to help you lose weight, while others focus on lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, and even bettering your chances of conceiving. But one not-so-surprising thing resonates with each plan: They’re all meant to improve health.

After months of combing through medical journals, government reports, and other sources, US News & World Report selected and ranked 38 diets. There were a lot of ties, but one diet came out on top. Here are the diets that made it into the top 10.

But first, here’s how the ranking works:

After choosing the top diets, US News & World Report reached out to a panel of nationally recognised experts in a number of fields, including diet, nutrition, obesity, and food psychology. They rank the diets on a scale of one to five – one being minimally effective and five being extremely effective – for a number of categories, four of which we’ve included here:

1. Ability to help with short-term weight loss: The diet’s ability to help you lose a significant amount of weight during the first 12 months.

2. Ability to help with long-term weight loss: The diet’s ability to help you keep it off for two years or more.

3. Easiness to follow: How easy it’ll be to switch and stick with the diet. It focuses on the ease of initial adjustment, how full you’ll feel, the taste appeal of the food, and any special requirement that might make it difficult for certain groups – like people with diabetes.

4.Health: This is perhaps the most important category, because it tells you how safe the diet is for you. The ranking takes into account the risk of malnutrition and overly rapid weight loss. It also considers any health risks the diet may pose to specific populations, like people with high blood pressure or specific nutrient needs.

Diets evaluated for their health are further ranked from five = extremely safe to one = minimally safe.

Now, on to the rankings …

No. 10. Jenny Craig – Total score: 3.7/5

Founded in 1983 by Jenny Craig and her husband, Jenny Craig Inc. specialises in weight loss and weight management. A number of celebrities, including Mariah Carey, Kirstie Alley, and Queen Latifah, have signed on to the program, which combines customised weight-management counseling with a menu of preprepared meals that customers can either have delivered to their doorstep or pick up at one of the company’s more than 700 centers worldwide.

Here’s how US News & World Report ranked the Jenny Craig diet in four categories:

Short-term weight loss: 3.8

Long-term weight loss: 3.2

Easy to follow: 3.6

Healthy: 4.2

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 8 (Tie). The Flexitarian Diet – Total score: 3.8/5

The flexitarian diet specialises in assisting with weight-loss by emphasising the importance of eating more vegetables and less meat. It’s a perfect fit for those of us who like the idea of being vegetarian but can’t manage to completely slash meat from our diets.

Instead of entirely avoiding meat, most flexitarians try to go vegetarian for three to five days a week. The idea is that by replacing calorie-heavy meats with low-calorie fruits and vegetables, you’ll shed some extra pounds.

Here’s why US News & World Report says this is one of the best overall diets of the year:

Short-term weight loss: 3.4

Long-term weight loss: 3.3

Easy to follow: 3.3

Healthy: 4.2

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 8 (Tie). Volumetrics – Total score: 3.8/5

One of the major pitfalls of diets is that they leave our stomachs grumbling at the end of the day. That’s not the case with Volumetrics, which focuses on feeling full. But it’s a slow process, so don’t expect to drop 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in two weeks on this diet.

According to the diet’s founder, Barbara Rolls, PhD, it’s not the number of calories you consume that makes you feel full, but rather the amount and types of food you eat.

Volumetrics focuses on eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, legumes, and low-fat dairy. But you can still splurge on fatty meats and fried food occasionally.

Here’s how this diet compares with the rest:

Short-term weight loss: 3.6

Long-term weight loss: 3.2

Easy to follow: 3.2

Healthy: 4.4

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 4 (Tie). The Mediterranean Diet – Total score: 3.9/5

A number of celebrities have reportedly turned to the Mediterranean diet, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Penelope Cruz, Elizabeth Hurley, and Isla Fisher.

The Mediterranean diet allegedly follows the traditional cooking style of countries near the Mediterranean Sea. That means lots of fish, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like olive oil. The point of this diet is to promote heart health and prevent disease.

A study of more than 1.5 million healthy adults revealed that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Here’s how this diet stacks up:

Short-term weight loss: 3.0

Long-term weight loss: 2.9

Easy to follow: 3.3

Healthy: 4.6

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 4 (Tie). The Fertility Diet – Total score: 3.9/5

Believe it or not, what you eat may affect your chances of conceiving. “What you eat affects everything from your blood to your cells to your hormones,” Cynthia Stadd, a nutrition specialist at the Berkley Center for Reproductive Wellness and Women’s Health in New York City, told the website BabyCenter.com.

The doctors who founded the fertility diet – Jorge Chavarro and Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health – did so after a study they conducted where they found that women who regularly ate healthy fats, whole grains, and plant protein had a better egg supply than women who had a regular diet of refined carbohydrates, red meat, and saturated fats.

Here’s how the judges thought this diet fared:

Short-term weight loss: 3.0

Long-term weight loss: 2.6

Easy to follow: 3.7

Healthy:4.4

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 4 (Tie). The Mayo Clinic Diet – Total score: 3.9/5

Health experts at the Mayo Clinic created this diet, which purportedly can help you lose up to 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms) in a year. This diet focuses on long-term weight loss by helping you develop a lifestyle designed to help you lose weight and keep it off.

To start, followers are supposed to break five unhealthy habits and add five new healthy habits. This diet is also heavy on the exercise and recommends that followers get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise a day.

By following the diet’s guidelines, which you can find on the Mayo Clinic’s website, you could lose 6 to 10 pounds (2.7 to 4.3 kilograms) in the first two weeks. Not bad!

Here’s what the experts thought:

Short-term weight loss: 3.3

Long-term weight loss: 2.9

Easy to follow: 3.1

Healthy: 4.5

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 4 (Tie). Weight Watchers – Total score: 3.9/5

Anyone who’s considered dieting has heard of Weight Watchers, the popular weight-loss program that claims you’ll lose about 2 pounds (900 grams) a week with two simple rules: eat healthy and exercise.

The diet focuses on eating foods that are high in protein and low in saturated fat, calories, and sugar. The company’s new SmartPoints food plan helps you track your eating habits. Celebrity Jessica Simpson reportedly lost 60 pounds (27.2 kilograms) with the help of Weight Watchers.

Here’s how US News & World Report ranks it:

Short-term weight loss: 4.0

Long-term weight loss: 3.5

Easy to follow: 3.7

Healthy: 4.3

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 2 (Tie). The TLC Diet – Total score: 4/5

No, TLC doesn’t stand for “tender loving care,” but the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet does focus on loving and caring for your body.

The main point of this diet is to lower your cholesterol rather than lose weight. It’s recommended by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program and claims you can lower your cholesterol by 8 percent to 10 percent in six weeks.

Saturated fat is a key culprit in high cholesterol, so this diet focuses on cutting saturated fat by reducing your intake of meat and whole-milk products. And while it’s not focused on weight loss, some followers do shed some pounds.

For a 2004 study, researchers put 120 overweight people on either the TLC or the Atkins diet for six months. On average, the TLC dieters lost 20 pounds (9 kilograms) each; those on Atkins lost 31 pounds (14.1 kilograms).

Here’s why this is one of the best diets of the year:

Short-term weight loss: 3.2

Long-term weight loss: 2.8

Easy to follow: 3.0

Healthy: 4.7

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 2 (Tie). The MIND Diet – Total score: 4/5

The MIND diet focuses on eating foods that may help reduce your risk of neurological disorders – in particular, Alzheimer’s. The name stands for ‘Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay’. You’ll learn more about the DASH diet below.

The diet has you eat foods that the medical literature suggests are good for the brain. These foods fall into 10 categories, including: green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, fish, beans, whole grains, and olive oil.

This is one of the easiest and healthiest diets to follow, which is why US News & World Report ranks it one of the top:

Short-term weight loss: 3.1

Long-term weight loss: 2.9

Easy to follow: 3.7

Healthy: 4.5

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

No. 1. The DASH Diet – Total score: 4.1/5

For the sixth year in a row, the DASH diet has taken first place for best overall diet of the year.

DASH stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” or high blood pressure. The diet tries to instill a lifelong habit of eating that either helps to treat or prevents hypertension. For those with hypertension, the DASH diet may help drop systolic blood pressure by as many as 7 to 12 points.

While salt affects everyone differently, doctors generally agree that reducing sodium intake can help with hypertension, which is what the DASH diet does.

In addition to eating healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, you should limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day. For reference, one slice of frozen pizza has 370 to 730 milligrams!

Here’s how the winner stacked up:

Short-term weight loss: 3.2

Long-term weight loss: 3.0

Easy to follow: 3.1

Healthy: 4.8

Learn more about what experts had to say about this diet here.

Tea Just Gained Major Ground In The ‘Tea Vs. Coffee’ Debate

We recently reported on 2016 being the year of healthy everything — cherries, horseradish, cheese, milk, chocolate… bacon isn’t healthy, but it’s also maybe not as unhealthy as we thought. Even coffee now has potential to improve the strength of your heart (yeah, science!).

With studies diving deeper and deeper into the foods we love, it’s no surprise that we’re just now learning the health benefits of the second most popular beverage on the planet. A recent study posted in the US National Library of Medicine shows that tea saponin — a glycoside compound extracted from tea seeds — reduces obesity-associated neuro-degeneration, shows general anti-obesity effects, and even showed an improvement in cognitive function.

The study was done on healthy and obese mice alike and basically shows that previously untapped elements of tea plants can make you healthier and smarter.

Suck it coffee, tea is back in the ring.

Anti-Aging Drug Could Let You Live Up to 120 Years

What if you could live forever? That’s not quite possible now but a new breakthrough could have you living up to 120 years. According to NZ Herald News, a drug used to treat diabetes is the key to slowing down the aging process.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved trials to see if the drug metformin can help extend the life in humans as it has been proven to do so in animals by researchers. “If you target an ageing process and you slow down ageing then you slow down all the diseases and pathology of ageing as well,” Professor Gordon Lithgow of the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California said.

He added: “I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable. But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”

Metformin increases the number of oxygen molecules released into a cell and that apparently boosts strength and longevity. If the drug tests well on humans, life expectancy can increase up to 50%.

Here’s What Scientists Agree On About Eating Fat

Media coverage of dietary fat has been confusing and contradictory over the years, as seen over the years on Time magazine covers.

Back in the 1960s, the magazine suggested that everyone should lower their total fat intake, which turned out to be bad advice. (Many of the replacements for fat — mainly refined carbohydrates — were actually just as bad for your health.) More recently, there’s been a backlash, and some outlets (including Time) are telling people that it’s just fine to load up on other foods that are rich in saturated fats (like butter). This, too, isn’t quite correct.

In reality, scientists have long taken a more nuanced view on dietary fat that hasn’t been reflected by the headlines. I dove into the research recently and found broad agreement on a few key points.

Scientists do believe that fat can be part of a healthy diet; it just depends on which types of fat you’re eating. Unsaturated fats (found in vegetable oils and fish) appear to be more beneficial for health compared with saturated fats (think butter and red meat), since the latter drive up the bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fats (found in foods like margarine) are a no-no: They not only increase LDL cholesterol but also decrease the amount of good (HDL) cholesterol in your body.

So, the researchers say, you don’t need to worry too much about how much fat you’re eating as long as you’re not eating too many calories. But — and this is important — try to get most of those fat calories from foods rich in unsaturated fats instead of the other less virtuous types.

As University of Auckland researcher Rod Jackson summed up: “The original message was to eat less saturated fat, which got dumbed down to, ‘Eat less fat,'” he says. That was misguided. “But,” he adds, “this latest craze to eat more fat is an equally bad message. The evidence actually says replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat.”

New Study Finds Drinking Coffee Might Help You Live Longer

If you drink coffee on the reg to the point of feeling like a low key drug addict, rejoice: A new study finds your nasty habit might help you live longer. “In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Cheers.

Decaf drinkers also saw benefits, which I find hard to believe, since decaf coffee is dumb baby juice. The findings, published in the journal Circulation and written up by NPR, build on a body of evidence that links coffee drinking with health benefits, like previous research that had coffee drinking linked with a decreased risk of stroke. There was also evidence that a coffee habit cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes, too.

Research has shown, however, that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create anxiety. Well, duh. “Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way,” says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He said the benefits documented in this study are actually “small.”

“There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy,” Maynard said. So, I guess, I don’t know. Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t drink so much coffee that you want to run a mile and jump off a bridge. That’s probably the sweet spot.

Adult Obesity on the Rise in the U.S.

The United States’ obesity rates among adults continue to increase according to a newly released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report supports other obesity figures in the U.S., such as half of the states having an obesity rate of over 30 percent with Mississippi having the highest adult obesity percentage nationwide.

The report showed the upward trend in obesity percentages from 2013-2014 in comparison to a decade ago. The adult obesity rate has jumped to 38 percent from 32 percent. A further breakdown of those percentages shows women have a higher obesity rate than men, leading 38 percent to 34 percent.

One obesity expert, Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina said the study shouldn’t be seen as the end-all be-all because participants might not reflect the nation’s weight. However, the study, which weighs the approximate 5,000 participants for accuracy, has become the reliable source when it comes to analyzing U.S. obesity rates because it actually weighs participants instead of just asking them about their weight. In response to the report obesity experts say they don’t know why the rates are increasing.

Child obesity, ages 2 to 19, was also examined in the report and the rate hasn’t fluctuated in the past decade from 17 percent. Obesity rates in children 2 to 5 did decrease, according to a CDC report last year, stating a 2011-2012 survey showed the rate at 8 percent instead of 14 percent a decade prior.

Why Sleep Interruptions Could Be Worse For You Than a Lack of Sleep

With the hectic and often stressful pace of modern life, it’s no wonder that there’s been plenty of research into the health benefits of sleep and the amount of shut-eye we should ideally be getting. A new study from Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that having our sleep interrupted is just as bad for us as not getting enough sleep in the first place — something to consider the next time you’re tempted to hit that snooze button.

The team of researchers used a pool of 62 healthy men and women to examine how sleep patterns affected the body: the volunteers were monitored over three nights of uninterrupted sleep, forced awakenings or delayed bedtimes, depending on the group they were randomly assigned to. By the second night, those who had been forced to wake up were in a much worse mood than those who had gone to bed late.

“When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration,” explained study lead author Patrick Finan in a press release. On average those who had been forced to wake up eight times through the night reported a drop in mood of 31 percent.

The work of Finan and his team goes beyond the problem of feeling grumpy in the mornings — eventually the research could open up new treatments for long-term insomnia, which is associated with a depressed mood. New parents and on-call medical staff are often subject to frequent awakenings throughout the night, for example, but the effects on the biology of the body aren’t yet fully understood.

In an attempt to learn more about stop-start sleep and how it affects our mental and physical well-being, the researchers used polysomnography tests to monitor brain and body functions — these tests look at brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing patterns and even leg movements to try and work out what’s going on while we’re dozing.

The study found that those who were constantly getting up from bed had shorter periods of deep, slow-wave sleep, as you would expect. What’s more, the statistics showed a reduction in energy levels as well as a reduction in feelings of sympathy and friendliness. If you’ve ever had to regularly rouse yourself in the night to look after a newborn baby, the results may not be all that surprising.

Finan says the findings of the report are also interesting in terms of the cumulative effects of not being able to get enough sleep: bigger differences emerged between the groups after the second night and continued into the third night. The results of the study, which its authors hope will lead to further research, have been published in the journal Sleep.

Study says U.S. Teens Spend 9 Hours a Day in Front of a Screen

Those angry Baby Boomers who say our generation is rotting behind those teeny screens might actually have a point. Common Sense Media just released a comprehensive study called The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, which examined how young Americans use media today.

According to their research, U.S. teens ages 13 to 18 spend about nine hours using entertainment media—excluding the time spent at school or for homework assignments. Tweens between the ages of 8 and 12 average about six hours in front of a screen daily.

“There are distinct types of media ‘diets’ and users. Young people who use similar amounts of screen time spend that time doing very different things on their screens,” the study says, according to Forbes. While many would assume that social media is at the top of the list, teens and preteens average just over an hour of usage.  Only 10% actually listed it as their favorite activity.

When divided by gender, 37% percent of the girls surveyed say they prefer to use their devices for listening to music. Among the boys, 27% chose video games. And 100% of both probably don’t care what the Baby Boomers are saying.

Study Shows Weed May Be a Better Treatment for ADHD Than Adderall or Ritalin

With the mainstream attitude toward weed continuing to shift to a very positive (and quite lucrative) place, an apparent windfall of medical studies have unleashed their findings on the general public in the name of science. We already knew that weed may help heal broken bones, improve your parenting skills, and even bring you closer to one or many gods. But what about that potential day-wrecker known as ADHD?

“Cannabis appears to treat ADD and ADHD by increasing the availability of dopamine,” Dr. David Bearman explained via Leafly. “This then has the same effect but is a different mechanism of action than stimulants like Ritalin and dexedrine amphetamine, which act by binding to the dopamine and interfering with the metabolic breakdown of dopamine.” A German study cited by Metro revealed that 22 of a total 30 participants ultimately chose to discontinue their prescription medication in favor of medical weed.

Though California and Colorado are apparently the only states that currently allow this method of ADHD treatment, the success of this study should (in a perfect world) inspire additional studies aimed at influencing the powers that be elsewhere across the increasingly-in-need-of-a-smoke United States.