Can't sleep? It could be your iPad

Published: Monday, September 03, 2012 @ 3:00 PM
Updated: Monday, September 03, 2012 @ 3:00 PM

Is setting down your iPad the last thing you do before bed? New research shows that all of those nighttime hours spent with your tablet can wreak havoc on your sleep.

The bright light emitted from these tablets can suppress melatonin. That's a hormone that helps control sleep and wake cycles, called circadian rhythms.  

The researchers only looked at the iPad, iPad 2, and a tablet known as the Asus. Using these tablets for two hours on their brightest settings suppressed melatonin by about 22%. The findings appear in the journal Applied Ergonomics.

“If they are bright and they are big and are close to your eyes, they have more potential to disrupt your melatonin than the TV, which is usually farther way,” says researcher Mariana Figueroa. She is an associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

iPhones and other small gadgets may not affect circadian rhythms. “Smaller devices emit less light,” she says. But even if these devices aren't zapping the body’s melatonin supply, they may still be disrupting sleep by delaying your bedtime, she says.

Not ready to give up your tablet before bedtime? Follow these four tips to make sure you use them in a way that does not leave you tired all day long.

1. Invest in a Filter

Inexpensive filters can help turn down the glare and block out melatonin-zapping blue light, says Figueiro. Look for one that cuts off wavelengths below 520 nanometers (nm). “You can still see the screen and do your task, although the color is compromised.”

2. Dim the Lights

In the study, participants used the tablets at full brightness, but you don’t have to, she says.  “Use the automatic dimmer function at night,” she says. Turn off the lights in your bedroom as well.

3. Distance Yourself From Your Tablet

“Proximity is an issue,” says Michael Breus, PhD. “When we use these devices, we hold them closer to our face than we would a TV or a computer.”

4. Impose an E-Curfew

“These devices are faking out our body and saying it’s morning when it’s night,” Breus says. This disruption in circadian rhythms can affect learning among school-aged children. “Impose an electronic curfew,” he suggests.

SOURCES: Michael Breus, PhD, sleep expert, Norfolk, Va.Wood, B. Applied Ergonomics, 2012, study received ahead of print.Mariana Figueroa, associate professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Here’s how much fruit juice children should drink, according to new guidelines

Published: Monday, May 22, 2017 @ 12:19 PM

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Next time you're grocery shopping for your kids, think twice before adding a carton of fruit juice to your basket. The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its guidelines on all juices, advising parents to pull back on how much they serve their little ones.

» Related: What Atlanta dietitians feed their kids 

Previous recommendations said parents should wait to give their babies juice until after six months, but its latest update is suggesting that they wait one year. 

In fact, infants should only be fed breast milk or infant formula for the first six months. After six months, moms and dads can then introduce fruit to their diet, but not fruit juice. 

>> Read more trending news

“Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories,” said Melvin B. Heyman, MD, FAAP, co-author of the statement. “Small amounts in moderation are fine for older kids, but are absolutely unnecessary for children under 1.”

» Related: Should we slap a tax on sugary drinks? 

Scientists laid out instructions for older children, too. Toddlers who are ages 1 to 4 should only have one cup of fruit a day. Four ounces of that can come from 100 percent fruit juice, but it should be pasteurized and not labeled “drink,” “beverage” or cocktail.” 

For children ages 4 to 6, fruit juice intake shouldn't exceed four to six ounces a day. 

The amount increases just slightly for children ages 7 to 18. They can have up to two and a half cups of fruit servings, but only eight ounces of it should be juice. 

Top 15 crusaders for health in America's food industry

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry 2012.

Amongst all the junk food commercials and donut sandwiches, there are a handful of health heroes. These aren’t just people who eat organic greens for lunch and free-range eggs for dinner; they’re moving and shaking the way we think about our food, including where it comes from, the implications it has on our environment, and what our meals mean for our bodies. Here, we recognize 15 superstars (in no particular order) that have devoted themselves to improving American’s relationship with food.


1. Marion Nestle
Nestle has got her hand in nearly every facet of America’s food industry. Her blog, Food Politics, covers topics from nutrition and biology to health policy and food marketing. She’s been teaching nutrition for nearly four decades and currently teaches sociology, food studies, and public health at NYU. Nestle is the author of many books, but her latest — “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” — is all about understanding the intersection of health and food amidst all the mass marketing and misinformation put forth by major food manufacturers. Currently, Nestle updates her blog regularly and presents at universities and conferences on topics such as genetically modified foods and the role food companies play in our food system. (Photo:


2. Michael Pollan
As one of the foremost activists for change in the overwrought food industry, Pollan is an outspoken and often controversial figure in the food and farming space. Though probably best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which hung out on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years), Pollan has continued to write. In his most recent book, “Cooked”, Pollan explores how cooking connects us to plants, animals, farmers, and culture (amongst other things). (Photo by Ken Light)


3. Michelle Obama
After launching the Let’s Move! campaign at the start of 2010, the First Lady has made healthifying America’s eating habits (especially for kids) her job. The ultimate goal is to eliminate childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lives with good food and a little extra physical activity. This year, Obama held the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” where she asked children ages eight to 12 to whip up nutritious, tasty, and affordable recipes. Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the White House kids’ “State Dinner” with the winner of this year’s challenge. (Photo:


4. Mark Bittman
As an author and New York Times writer,Bittman likes to weigh in on what’s wrong with the American diet. A part-time veganhimself, Bittman is an advocate for the “flexitarian” diet — which means eating vegan during the day, but allowing for more flexible consumption after 6 pm. His super popular book, “How to Cook Everything”, is a go-to resource for basic kitchen skills. Not only does he push for humans to stay healthy, Bittman relentlessly encourages us to keep the environment happy and healthy, too. Oh, and in his spare time, he runsmarathons(Photo:


5. Mike Bloomberg
As the mayor of New York City, Bloombergtakes his role seriously, making waves in the name of public health. From smoking bans tosoda bans, Bloomberg’s initiatives aren’t without controversy and backlash. Passionate about combating obesity, he’s pushed for salad bars and healthier menus in school cafeterias. Plus, he’s managed to eliminate trans fats from tons of restaurant items, and make it mandatory for chain restaurants to clearly post calorie counts on menus. We’re excited to see what goals Bloomberg sets (and reaches) next. (Photo:

For the full list of 2013's top health crusaders in the food industry, go to

Eating your way to strong memory and mental health

Published: Monday, May 15, 2017 @ 10:40 AM

Did you know nutrition may play a role in anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease? Studies are finding that certain nutrition deficiencies or overloads can affect different chemical and inflammatory processes leading to such conditions.

First, we have chemical substances throughout our body called neurotransmitters that are like little communicators. Some of the common neurotransmitters found in the brain include serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Serotonin works with different brain processes including mood, appetite, sleep and memory. Dopamine works with cognition and pleasure. Norepinephrine is the flight-or-flight neurotransmitter and therefore increases alertness and attention in the brain.

How does what we eat effect neurotransmitters? The pathways to make the neurotransmitters need essential micronutrients like Vitamin B6 and iron. Therefore if we are not eating a healthy diet and lack some of these nutrients, we may also be deficient in these neurotransmitters.

RELATED: Does government play a role in children eating healthy?

Then we also have inflammation. Inflammation in our body can cause damage to our blood vessels and cells in our brain leading to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Different lifestyle choices such as exercise and sleep can help to decrease inflammation. Also, a healthy diet full of antioxidants such as different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can also decrease inflammation and protect the brain.

A diet high in foods such as fruits, vegetables and healthy fatty oils from fish, avocados and olive oil can help to decrease inflammation. One diet shown to help decrease inflammation is the Mediterranean diet, for it is high in these foods and essential nutrients.

So, to fight against memory loss and to encourage mental health, make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Beware of processed foods or foods that have few vitamins and minerals.

MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS: Here’s the skinny on red meat.

VIDEO: This is how colorblind people see the world

Published: Monday, May 01, 2017 @ 10:37 AM

Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Approximately one in 12 men and one in 200 women in the world are colorblind, according to the Colour Blind Awareness organization.

>> Read more trending news

Though colorblind people are usually able to see things as clearly as everyone else, they’re unable to fully see red, green or blue light, according to the Colour Blind Awareness website.

Business Insider put together a video using Colblindor’s online color blindness simulator to show you how people who are colorblind see the world.