All posts by Contributor

Sugary Coffee and Energy Drinks Are Ruining Your Family’s Teeth

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to keep your kids both safe and healthy in any way possible. Obviously you’re going to do your best to keep them out of direct harm, but sometimes even something as harmless as grocery shopping can result in serious damage to the wellbeing of your children.

Buying sugary drinks might give you a few “cool” points for the time being, but you have to weigh these cool points against the damage all that sugar can do to your kids’ teeth. Although popular sports drinks are harmful to teeth, researchers now say that energy drinks actually result in twice as much enamel loss. Energy drinks cause 3.1% tooth enamel loss compared to only 1.5% for sports drinks. Continue reading

Diamond Ring Thought to Be Costume Jewelry Expected to Fetch Thousands at London Auction

 One diamond owner in the United Kingdom is about to get very lucky.

Back almost 30 years ago, the owner bought a diamond ring from a garage sale in London for the equivalent of $13 USD. They mistook the diamond for costume jewelry, and only just found out that it is actually worth thousands. In fact, it is set to go up for auction soon and is hoping to fetch around $45,000 thousand, or ?350,000.

The story of this diamond is a pretty remarkable one. The owner has worn this dazzling gem almost every day, completing chores, shopping, and bathing, and had no idea what was under her nose until a jeweler approached her and mentioned it could hold real value.
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Computer Games and Food Cravings Have More in Common Than Once Thought, Study Shows

Summer is fast approaching, and us moms all know what that means — a season of no school and unhealthy eating. Considering that 90% of U.S. households regularly indulge in frozen desserts, it comes as no surprise that ice cream temptation is exceptionally high in the warmer months.

We all know how hard it can be to say no to our child’s plea for some ice cream because let’s be honest, we always want some ourselves. Despite knowing how important it is to start developing healthy eating habits from a young age, frankly, it is easier said than done.

However, there is a new computer game — I know, I know, but bear with me on this one! — that may make our jobs a little bit easier.

Psychologists at the University of Exeter, England have created an interesting game that helps teach children how to make healthy choices. The game is quite easy to play; the child has to press a button when a healthy food pops up on the screen and do nothing when junk food appears. Then, if the child gets it right, a happy face is shown with healthy food and a sad face with unhealthy food as a way to reinforce positive habits and behaviors.

The goal of the game is to change how the brain works. Lucy Porter, the lead researcher on the project, explains to Science Daily how the brain can be trained to create a healthier association with food:

“The sight of foods like chocolate can activate reward centers in the brain at the same time as reducing activity in self-control areas. Our training encourages people to make a new association — when they see unhealthy food, they stop.”

While this game surely won’t limit the number of ads for sugary food out there, it will give families the opportunity to control their cravings, Porter explains. After all, it is a free game and it may give your child satisfaction when they get rewarded with happy faces for choosing healthier foods — it is the little things that matter, right?

So moms, what do you all think? When released, will you try this out with your family?

Families, Researchers, and Charity Leaders Visiting Africa to Lend a Hand

Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality across the globe, and this disease was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Luckily, researchers have been working tirelessly for decades to come up with better ways to combat cancer in all of its insidious forms. Though a cure is yet to be found, new treatments like proton therapy have been administered to more than 64,000 people with cancer worldwide.

Another debilitating disease that impacts millions of people around the world is malaria. Malaria is much easier to contract than other diseases and has ruined the lives of countless families in struggling African countries for decades. But thanks to technological and medical advancements over the years, efforts to fight malaria across the continent of Africa have cut the rate of infections in half since 2000. Continue reading

Around the United States Shipping Containers Are Being Converted Into Housing

Across the nation, people are converting old shipping containers into low-cost housing. For some, they are an affordable, sustainable way of downsizing; for others, they represent a new tool in the fight against homelessness. But some municipalities and zoning boards are taking steps to limit the number of “tiny homes” made from shipping containers in their districts.
For proponents, the argument for steel shipping container homes is clear. Not only is steel the most recycled product on Earth, with 90% being recycled, but a steel shipping container can last an average of 25 years with almost no maintenance. And since there are an estimated 17 million containers in operation right now, they could serve as a ready-made supply for low-cost housing.
Some design these tiny homes with the very best luxury in mind, like Seattle-based Designer Karen Hirschman, who designed a tiny space as part of a fundraiser for the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.
“We’ve got a full built-in refrigerator with a freezer. We’ve got a full stackable washer and dryer. We’ve got a tankless hot water which takes up about four inches of space underneath a cabinet,” Hirshman said to KVUE. “It comes with all the bedding. It comes with the dishes, the pots, and pans. It’s got towels in the bathroom. We put toilet paper on the holder. It’s ready to go.”
Others, however, see these homes as an invaluable resource in the fight against homelessness. Los Angeles Potter’s Lane is one such example. This innovative housing project was constructed using shipping containers and allows the new residents — mostly homeless veterans — to pay a monthly rent of just $69, with an additional $1,259 being subsidized, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While almost 75% of Americans report living paycheck to paycheck, with 27% reporting no savings at all, the financial struggle of the homeless is often further complicated by either physical or mental disabilities or addiction.
These converted units are a prime example of supportive housing, which assists the homeless population as they transition to a more conventional style of life.
But despite their many benefits, not everyone is on board with these converted units. A Missouri Planning and Zoning Commission in Cape Girardeau has recommended a ban on using shipping containers for homes or businesses, according to the South East Missourian.
But even members of the Commission that voted in favor of recommending the ban seem to understand they are fighting an uphill battle. Kevin Greaser, who voted for the ban, told the South East Missourian: “It is obvious that these types of structures are becoming a little more popular.?

Study Shows Americans Must Use Green Grocery Bags At Least 50 Times to See Any Environmental Benefits

Sadly, Americans continue to damage the environment in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. One of the more not-so-subtle ways is the fact that, according to The Washington Post, Americans have contributed more to global warming than any other country.
But while many Americans disagree about the extent (and existence) of global warming, some environmental issues are more difficult to deny. Case in point: the millions of plastic bags currently filling up landfills and polluting bodies of water.

Already, plastic bags have contributed to a severe decline in the health of vulnerable ecosystems and increased pollution levels at home and abroad.

That’s because a single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to completely degrade inside a landfill. Even then, these plastic items don’t actually biodegrade; rather, they photo-degrade, meaning they break down into small toxic pieces. When these microplastics leak into bodies of water, they end up causing even more damage in the earth’s oceans by resulting in dangerous bioaccumulation in the food chain.

And when you consider the sheer number of plastic bags used today, it’s easy to see why plastic pollution poses such a great threat. For instance, the Galleria Shopping Center in Houston, Texas is one of the most popular shopping establishments in the entire world, with 35 million visitors annually, but that’s just a single site. If all 35 million annual visitors took just one plastic bag, that’s 35 million bags sitting in landfills for the next 1,000 years.
Fortunately, there are non-profit groups that are doing all they can to reverse this global pollution epidemic. Certain volunteer groups and companies spend hours every day cleaning up landfills and teaching people how to properly dispose of various harmful items like plastic bags.

In addition to these programs, some shoppers are doing their part as well.

According to a report from 2011, but which still holds true today, roughly 86% of consumers will spend more money for a better experience. To inspire eco-conscious shoppers, many stores are now encouraging shoppers to use reusable green grocery bags to help prevent further landfill buildup.

However, as ABC News reports, although these reusable bags are a much better option than plastic bags, they need to be used at least 50 times in order for any environmental benefit to be gained.

“If you’re able to do that over a long time frame, then you’re going to have an environmental advantage,” said Associate Professor Dr. Karli Verghese of the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT.

Grocery stores are perhaps the main culprits in the increased buildup of plastic bags, but clothing stores at malls like the Galleria also play a major role.

“If you have a look at some of the plastic bags that are given out by fashion companies, they’re pretty thick plastics,” Dr. Verghese added. “There’s a lot of focus on the supermarket shopping bag but there’s lots of plastic bags that are given out at lots of other shops.”
Ultimately, to permanently reverse the harm done by plastics, shoppers will have to learn to break their addiction to single-serving shopping bags.