Author Archives: Elyssa Paige Woods

3 week break 2018!

From LA to Texas

Going from Los Angeles, California to Austin, Texas has some similarities, yet the differences are easily noticeable.  My first day flying to Texas I landed in the Dallas airport where my best friends from high school was there to pick me up and take me to her hometown in Waco, Texas.  She wanted me to be able to have a different “Texas” experience.  With that being said she took me to her family friends ranch to feed some elk.  Check out how I became best friends with these massive animals.  After this atypical Texan experience we headed to Austin Texas where I ate the most amazing barbecue food from Terry Black BBQ. I recommend checking out the menu and taking a visit to Texas!


Should you be gluten free and not have Celiac disease?

1 in every 133 Americans” develop Celiac and 10 times as many people as that will not eat gluten or have gluten be part of their diet. Celiac disease “is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” About five years ago my uncle found out that he has Celiac disease.  A good majority of his life he had lots of stomach problems and never went to go have it checked.  After he found out he had Celiac,  his way of eating was completely changed and now he has to be more conscious of what he puts into his body or else he will feel severe abdominal pains.  This led me to think about how there are so many people who are gluten free in America but do not have celiac to back up their reasoning to be on a gluten-free diet.  Before researching, I thought what could really be the problem going gluten free without having celiac, it seems like a healthy diet?

There are many people that go gluten free even if they have not been diagnosed with celiac. This reasoning, though, is not solely because they want to diet.  There are people who react more to “FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols, which are certain types of carbohydrates including wheat, lentils, and mushrooms that can draw water into the intestine and potentially ferment, causing digestive problems for some people.” This led to a study done in 2013.  A double-blind placebo trial of 37 individuals was conducted.  Two groups were randomly formed and for 2 weeks the individuals were given a small amount of FODMAPs and were either put on low or higher dosages of gluten or a placebo(the control group). A two week break period occurred where the scientists looked at the immune activity and symptoms of the patients to see if anything had changed.  The results showed that gastrointestinal symptoms improved when a lower dosage of FODMAPs was taken and got worse to a similar degree when gluten was taken and only 8% of the people tested were observed to have gluten-free effects.  No third variables could affect this study due to it being a double blind placebo trial and it affectively ruled out reverse causation. So these people who were on gluten-free diets without having Celiac, in reality were not being directly affected by the gluten but by the FODMAPs.  Those individuals thought that if they stopped eating gluten their problems would be fixed. Their experiences of “feeling better” when not eaten gluten are very real but in all actuality no changes occur to their bodies when gluten intake stops.  What is interesting is that when people think that something is suppose to help their body, they can make themselves believe that they are getting better.  Their mind is covering up the fact that no changes have occurred while their gastrointestinal problems are as great as ever before.  This was a very credible study that I think shared a lot of useful information.

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This is the difference of what the inside lining of ones intestine should look like if not damaged by celiac verses damages by celiac.  

There is a difference in the symptoms of celiac verses ones who are affected by FODMAPs.  Some symptoms of celiac include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • numbness(legs,arms,feet)/balance problems


These are all the main symptoms of celiac and how much each of these symptoms are prevalent in one with celiac.  

FODMAPs patients can have gluten sensitivity, but to a much less degree than those with celiac disease. These individuals are usually sensitive to list of foods containing certain carbohydrates. When individuals who are not gluten sensitive or do not have Celiac, completely cut gluten out of their diet they have the chance of it actually backfiring on them.  Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of gastroenterology and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, “there’s nothing magical about a gluten-free diet that’s going to help you lose weight.” What ends up happening is people will go gluten-free but eat the gluten-free snacks that are still high in calories and fat.  People think that going gluten-free means going on a healthy diet.  This is not the case unless you choose not to eat the “bad” gluten free foods as well.  This limits what foods you can eat, leading to overeating and possible weight gain; the opposite of what those individuals were looking for to occur.

Yes and No, to answer my hypothesis above. There are some people who need to go gluten-free because their body cannot tolerate the gluten intake. There are also being who go gluten-free because they think their body is affected by gluten in the same way as celiac disease when in reality has much less of an affect on the internal parts of the body. And then there are the other people who just decide to go gluten free because they think it will be a healthy diet for themselves. Going gluten-free can have both positive and negative effects. If you think that eating gluten is affecting how your stomach feels on an every day basis go get your blood taken, as a blood test is the only way to find out if one has celiac disease or not.


Does Higher College Tuition Lead to Decrease in College Enrollment?

College tuition has been on the rise, and even more so during the 21st century.  Since 2001, public college tuition has almost double in price, from $4,800 to $9,400! This is an outrageous as it has surpassed the rate of inflation in the economy.  So how do families continue to afford these crazy prices? Before researching I assumed that as tuition got higher in price more teenagers would either drop out of college or not enroll in the first place.  I hypothesized this because the median American family does not make enough money to fully pay for their child’s tuition without taking out loans.

A study was done in 2008 by professors Dr. Steven Hemelt and Dr. David Marcotte, that compared college tuition and enrollment rates.  They looked at “total headcount, total number of credits taken, and the number of first-time, full-time freshman” and found all this data from IPEDS, which is an “institution-level data set,” that shows all this information.  The two professors took data from over 600 four-year, public college universities in the United States. This experimental study showed data that an increase of tuition of $100 would bring a decrease in enrollment of .25%, and an increase in tuition of $210 would result in an enrollment decline of about 57 students.  Even though these 57 students were essentially “lost”, the institution is not loosing money because they increased their tuition rates so that money lost from the 57 students is being made up by the other students attending the university.  So yes colleges are loosing students due to increased tuition but not as many as one would think.  Students still want a good education and want to attend the best universities to obtain this so that they can have successful careers.  Families are willing to take out large loans and students are having to pay back these loans for many years post college just for their education.  Even though tuition increases students want to attend the schools has not changed making the enrollment rate not decrease by much each year.


13tuition_chart-articleLarge  Source

This graph shows how much tuition has risen for private four-year universities and public four-year universities over the span of time from 1994 to 2015.

Many other factors have an influence over enrollment rates into universities. Difference in demographics of who is attending the colleges has greatly changed.  The United States has more African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and other internal students attending the many institutions. This individuals want the higher education levels that might not be available in their own countries. This essentially “forces” those students to come to America and pay the high tuition rates which increases the amount of students that have enrolled at that particular school.

StudentTeacherRace1 Source

This graph shows the percentage of students of different races/ethnicities attending Public Schools.  The number of students that are not white, for the first time in 2014, surpassed the percentage of white students attending school.

Although college tuition is still on the rise, students and their families are willing to pay/attempt to pay the high prices if it means guaranteeing better education in the long run. This will not cause dramatic drops in enrollment into public universities as the need for a higher education is needed now more than ever.

Working Out Links to Better Grades in College

College brings up new opportunities, more work, and more distractions for many students.  So staying on task and keeping up with grades can be a difficult tasks for many college students. An outlet is needed to decrease stress levels and be something other than school work that is constant in a college students life.  Before doing any research I did not know if their was a correlation between working out and getting better grades, but knew that for many people working out helps calm themselves and re strengthens their mind in order to be more effective while doing school work afterwards.

A observational study was done in 2013 at Purdue University on the effects of working out in relation to getting better grades.   “Students who worked out at Purdue’s gym at least once a week were more likely to earn a higher grade point average than students who visited less or not at all,” says Tricia Zelaya, assistant director for student development and assessment at Purdue’s Division of Recreational Sports. The data that was found was that students who went to the gym 16 times a month earned a GPA of 3.10 or higher while students who went at least 7 times a month had a GPA average of a 3.06.  This was tracked by students using their ID cards to enter the gym and the scientists looking at the amount those students went to the gym and comparing their overall grades to it.  With this being said third variables could still have been an affect such as, the duration of time each students spent at the gym and/or how hard their classes are that they are taking at the time of the study. This study could have been more reliable if we knew how many students were apart of the study.  Working out is an outlet for these students.  It causes them to be on a more strict schedule if they workout more often, possibly leading to a more scheduled homework and other school work schedule.  Many college students need structure, especially new freshman, and working out on a schedule has them focusing and being more prepared and relaxed when it comes time for their school work.

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This chart shows that the more a students goes to the gym the higher their overall GPA will be.

You might still be thinking well how can exercise essentially make one smarter? Well neurologists have looked into the “exercise hormone” Irisin. When Irisin is released during the exercise period it unveils an increase in levels of brain cognition and “increased the expression of BDNF(link is external) (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).” The neurotrophic factor is involved int the learning and memory processes of the brain, causing these processes to be heightened.  In other words, exercise increases brain function and protects from decline in mental brain functions.

College students should take time out of their day, even for just an hour, and go to the gym.  The long run benefits are very positive in that they help increase grades; I do not know a college student who would not want their GPA to be higher.  Try going to the gym 4 times a week and see if you can see a difference in your grades and school work.


FOMO, the fear of missing out.  Many teenagers and young adults today have the fear of missing out because they feel like they have “feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction”. I have noticed this fear amongst many college students when it comes to going out on the weekend.  Lots of students go out on Thursdays even though they have classes and studies to do on Friday.  Those who choose to stay in to study for a test the next day or have an 8 am class feel like if they do not go out they will be missing out on the new memories being created throughout that night and do not get that experience with the ones that choose to go out that night.  Before researching, I assumed that most young individuals have some type of FOMO.

“The study, to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, is the first study to investigate the fear of missing out.” A research team from the University of California, made a test to find out different people’s level of FOMO; the test can be found on  This test discovered that individuals under the age of 30 were most affected by FOMO.  This fear was prompted out due to the increasing amounts of social media usage and people under the age of 30 are the ones that use the greatest amounts of it.  A doctor at the University discovered that people “psychological needs were deprived” which was the factor that caused ones to constantly check social media and find out what they were “missing out” in that moment in time. This experimental study is based on what each person said in their own test.  The third variables could have been that they were lying on the test, or did not complete the test in an accurate fashion. Also, they did not provide information about their sample size of the experiment so it is unknown how accurate the test could in fact be. This is an example of poor pseudoscience because FOMO is an emotion which is hard to quantify. The scientists have not exactly proved something but that does not mean that something does not exist.

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This chart shows each group and the percentage of people in those age groups that check social media. It shows that people under the age of 35 are on social media the most, leading to increased FOMO in this age group.

The fear of missing out in taking over many peoples lives in todays generation and the way Catherine Chen Ph. D, advises individuals to do in their own lives is just because you say no to some type of opportunity or event does not necessarily mean you are completely missing out.  Other opportunities will come along that you can take on.  It is all what is most important to you in your life at the current moment, you might have to turn down some great opportunities but it is what is best for you at that moment.  How to deal with FOMO is the hard part for many people.  Coping methods can include:

With all this being said one should really think the next time they are feeling the fear of missing out on something that is going on.  The cost of giving into FOMO can be one loosing out in what their other plan was suppose to be or you completely went against your own ideas in that you said you would not go out or go to the big event that was happening that night.  The benefits are that you get to go to the event and maybe it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The costs verses the benefits are things one has to think about when FOMO crosses their mind.




Weight and Gender Differences

Prior to going into my freshman year of college, I continuously would hear people say one thing to many incoming college students.  That was I hope you do not gain the freshman 15.  This was repeated over and over again and I even began worrying that something like this was so common it was going to happen to me.  This led me to question how many people care strongly about their weight.  Do both men and women care? And if so why?  Before doing research, I assumed that women, overall, care slightly more about their weight and body image than most men.  I hypothesized this because women are constantly compared to unrealistic body images from the media.  I believe that this pressure causes women to be more unhappy with their body and less confident about their outer appearance.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-St. Louis conducted a study “examining  gender differences in satisfaction with body parts.” 300 college students were the participants of this experiment, one group were students who were not trying to loose weight while the other group was trying to loose weight. Each individual completed questionnaires which included information on “binge eating, self-esteem, concern with weight and appearance, weight discrepancy and demographics.”  What was discovered was overall women on average wanted to loose 3 pounds more than men did and were more concerned about the toneness of their abs, hips, and butt.  What was also found was that the women in this study were not over weight to begin with.  This was an observational study which means that third variables could have been involved such as the students not being completely honest in the information they sent in to the researchers or that the sample size was not big enough to know how all different men and women feel about their weight and body image.  Here correlation does not necessarily equal causation due to the fact that men who weigh a little more do not then get self-conscious in their body due to less outside pressure while only some women feel this way when weighing a little more.  I think that this was a good study in that many different types of questions were asked but also think that more research has to be conducted in order to know more about how weight gains affects each type of individual.

This chart shows the different weights that men and women are “suppose” to be dependent on their heights.




An individual does not have to be a specific weight.  Whatever makes that individual happy with themselves is a good weight for them to be, not solely based on what a chart says one is suppose to be.

Their are many reasons why women care a great amount about their weight:

  • Body imagine and the media- women are compared to the ideal women in the spotlight, something many people cannot live up to
  • Relationships- women in relationships want acceptance by their significant other and want them to say and feel that the women looks good in her own body
  • Genetics- genetics are not a direct reason why women care about their weight, but poor genetics from ones parents can lead women to feel they have to be thinner even if they are not over weight causing health and eating disorders

Men on the other hand care to a different degree; they do not have as much of the societal pressure that women do in accordance to their bodies, but still want to have the “ideal” body.  Even if men gain a little weight it is easier for them to loose the excess weight than if women were to gain some weight.  Dr James Stubbs, research specialist for Slimming World said “Although women diet more frequently, men are actually more likely to succeed.” This concept is the main reason women care more about gaining weight, it is harder and a longer process for them to loose weight in comparison to men. But men have a bigger concern about gaining weight rather than loosing it.  Many men/ young adults do not “feel” as if they are big enough, try hard but have a hard time gaining the weight they want.  So men and women both care about their weight just in different ways.

Overall, both men and women care to a certain degree about their weight and body-image. More research and experimental studies would have to be conducted in order to find the full details about the relation between gender and weight.

Cell Phone Use Linked To Cancer?

Here we are in todays world, where the amount of cell phone subscriptions is 6.8 billion; there are almost as many cell phone subscriptions as there are people in the world. People in todays world are “addicted” to cell phones due to the fact that their are many applications and other things you can do on a phone rather than just calling another person.  As the use of cell phones has been rising so has many concerns about the radioactive frequency being a possible cause of cancer. Before doing any research I had no complete understanding on this topic, so could not come up with a firm hypothesis.  This leads me to pose the question, can too much cell phone use have the ability to cause cancer?


This shows that the amount of cell phone users is almost equal to the amount of people in the world today.

Cell phones transmit radio waves, which is a way for a brain tumor to form; currently the primary concern in medical field regarding cell phone use.  “The largest case-control study to date” on the topic, The Interphone Study, had 5,000 individuals who were observed throughout this study.  These individuals were looked at over a decade to see if “frequency of calls, longer call time”, or greater cell phone use would have an influence over if an individual would develop a brain tumor or would be at higher risk for getting the tumor.  The study, though,  did not find a link between brain tumor risk and greater cell phone use.  This was an observational study, so some of the participants could have submitted information that they used their cell phone more than they really did or much less than what the case truly was. This is also less reliable due to the fact that the scientists could have looked at the participates cell phone records to find exact durations of time spent talking on the phone. Other third variables could have affected the study such as the participants could have already had health issues making it a higher chance for them to get cancer regardless of phone use, and also sometimes it could take longer than a decade for a brain tumor to show up due to cell phone use.  There was thought of possible increased risk of glioma, but not enough evidence and scientific data to back up if this is a real issue or not. Correlation here does not mean causation and more research would have to be conducted due to the limitations that this study withholds.

“In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared cell phones a Class B Carcinogen, meaning a “possible cancer-causing agent,'”  Two different kinds of brain tumors were thought to be formed from overuse of cell phones: “brain tumors (gliomas) and acoustic neuromas.” Dr. Lennart Hardell, a professor of oncology at University of Örebro in Sweden, analyzed data from two prior studies, one done from 1997-2003 and the other from 2007-2009. Of the patients, 1500 were brain cancer patients and 3500 were cancer free at the time of the study. Third variables were factored into their analysis to make sure that those factors didn’t have an effect on the outcome of the analysis, this included: age, gender, diagnostic year, and the chance of developing deadly brain cancer called glioma.   What was analyzed is that those who were on their cell phones for longer times were twice as much likely to develop glioma than those who were on the phone less.  Due to the fact that the patients logged their own cell phone hours, a bias could have been placed as people could have put more or less time spent on the cell phone than what was actually the truth.  Both the studies are having the biggest problem be that the patients are logging their own information about cell phone use.  If possibly, a single- blind placebo trial was conducted it could help with having third variables be an issue.

The patients on the two studies I have talked about were on the phone for long durations of time. This is what the brain looks like solely prior and post 15 minutes of cell phone use.


Although it shows more thermal heating post cell phone use(red color) does not mean that a brain tumor is going to then form.

Many studies have been conducted on this topic but no firm answer has been discovered.  Very inconsistent information has been found.  Why is this?

  • Recall BiasError caused by differences in the accuracy or completeness of the “recalled”. If one got a brain tumor, one might say cell phone use was higher than what it really was. Could remember something different than what actually happened
  • Inaccurate reporting- Say something occurred more or less than what actually happened.
  • Mortality-  If participant dies the information they have about their own phone use dies with them
  • Changes in technology- Technology is now digital rather than more analog, and many studies are regarding analog technological devices.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries concluded that too much cell phone use is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences,” –Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

This issue, referenced from the quote above, shares insight that it takes a long time to see evidence regarding this issue, just like how it was initially hard to see a correlation between smoking cigarets and lung cancer.  But we shouldn’t be so “easy to accept the absence of evidence to be evidence of absence” discussed in class. Yes more evidence needs to be found and more studies need to be conducted, but their is still a sufficient amount of information out in the word for people to really start thinking about if cell phone use and cancer can really have this terrible link.

Currently, there is no clear cut evidence about whether or not cell phones cause cancer.  Cell phone use is still a fairly new activity in todays world, and I feel that as time progresses and cell phone use gets greater and longer that a clearer answer on this topic will form. My hypothesis did connect with evidence that the world has today, its all unknown as of now and continued to be questioned.  Things that cause cancer have consistently been a very controversial topic and hopefully one day many of the questions society has will be answered.


Should We Stop Eating Red Meat?

When I was much younger, my family would prepare a type of red meat for dinner about 3 times each week.  When I hit around the age of 12, I got so sick of the constant red meat intake that I stopped eating it all around.  I solely would eat chicken, turkey, and fish; and I never went back. Now I have red meat, on an average, only twice per year.  I have heard some controversy about whether or not is healthier for one to stick to a red meat free diet or not.  Before researching, i assumed that it would be much healthier for people to give up eating red meat all together. I hypothesized this because of the high fat content that red meat contains, which could cause many health problems for individuals.

There are many risk factors that consuming red meat causes:

  • Hardens blood vessels
  • Ups risk for type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases


Red meat warning

Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, and his research team, conducted a study between death rate and red meat intake.  Their study included 37,000 men and 83,000 women who did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer prior to the start of the study.  Every 4 years these individuals filled out questionnaire about their eating habits and every 2 years the scientists gathered information on each participants body weight, if they smoked cigarettes, their physical activity level and other important health factors.  “Almost 24,000 participants died during the study, including about 5,900 from cardiovascular disease and about 9,500 from cancer.”  These were the individuals who consumed the largest amounts of red meat.  This was an observational study meaning that some of the individuals could have lied on their questionnaire or other third variables effecting how the results could have been altered. Also, if their was a control group and an experimental group for this study it could have better linked red meat to mortality rates. Ultimately, to get fully accurate results more research would have to be conducted on this topic.



What is known, is that carnitine, a bacteria found in red meat, can greatly increase ones chance of getting a heart attack, stroke, or die.  Researchers found that replacing 1 serving a day of foods such as “fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains” for red meat could lower ones death rate from 7 to 19 percent.  This is a large enough percentage that individuals should consider substituting some of their food intakes for a healthier substitute to have a better positive impact on their overall heath.  The high intakes of cholesterol, and saturated fats in red meat are what can also cause these many health risks.

Even though, it is not 100% proven that red meat should be completely eliminated from humans diets, does not mean that we all should not look at the many risk factors that are associated with large intakes of red meat.  Their are many substitutes, such as having a chicken or turkey burger instead of regular hamburger.  As long as individuals are conscientious of how much red meat they are really eating they can continue having it but have more proportional amounts of it less often.

Go nap or take a lap?

I have always wondered if napping in the middle of the day actually causes one to be able to function better and feel more refreshed.  I for one have never been fond of napping and do other activities to wake me up during the day; this would include working out.  If I am tired I go to the gym, and after a nice workout I feel more refreshed than if I were to nap.  Before researching, I thought that it would be more beneficial to workout in the middle of the day than take a nap.  I hypothesized this because after a mid day nap I would wake up more tired than before verses feeling more alive after an effective workout.  So what is more beneficial?

The best time to nap during the day is between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. This is the time of day when ones alertness is at its lowest level.  Although naps can help this post lunch sleepiness, the nap will only be beneficial if it is between 10 and 30 minutes, any longer will cause “sleep inertia,” the feeling of haziness, and ultimately make one more tired than they were prior to the nap.  A study conducted with 747 pilots from NASA,  the experimental group (half) were allotted 40 minutes to nap and sleeping about an average of 25.8 minutes (this is in-between the good amount of nap time 10 to 30 minutes) and then looked at their performance change. Their   work improvements went from 16% to 34% reaction time improvement compared to no change within the control group of the experiment.  This showed that the randomized control experiment was in fact extremely effective.  Third variables could have been in effect such as the people in the experimental group were not as tired to begin with causing them to not be as groggy when waking up.


How different lengths of naps can effect individuals

An article in the Wall Street Journal states that “altering your diet and implementing intermittent fasting will have a far greater impact than making alterations to your exercise schedule alone.” This was surprising information to me that changing the intake of certain foods has a greater effect of staying more energized than that of working out. This is not ruling out, though, that working out can be beneficial to ones overall daily routine.  After a workout, an individual can get a burst of energy lasting for about 3 hours.  Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, states that sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause one to get tired more easily, and the act of standing up every 10 to 15 minutes can greatly increase ones ability to be productive during mid day fatigue.  It is also noted that working out during the day can cause for better sleep at night, creating less fatigue for the day to come,

32 Solutions For Sleep-02


So which is better, napping mid day or working out?  I believe that both have positive impacts in having one be more productive and energized during the day, dependent on how long the nap or all the workout was completed.  If an individual take a quick nap mid day or just stands up every 15 minutes of doing work their day can be more constructive and cause a larger positive outlook on the day to come. More experiments and studies would have to be conducted to come out with a formal conclusion.  The next time someone tells you not to nap or that working out will cause you to loose study or work time during the day, tell them that you know you will be more refreshed if you do one of these two activities leading you to have a more profitable day.

Should Wet Hair Matter?

Last night I showered and immediately after left my room to go study in the library.  It was extremely cold outside as I made my 10 minute walk to the library; and my wet hair made the outside temperature feel even colder than it truly was.  At this moment I thought, can going outside with wet hair in cold temperatures cause me to get a cold? Before researching, I assumed that my wet hair can cause me to get a cold.  I hypothesized this because every time I go out in the cold for extended periods of time, even without wet hair, I come back with a slight runny nose.

Several studies I found have been conducted where scientists put cold viruses in the noses of two different groups of individuals.  The experimental group was exposed to cold and wet settings while the control group continued being exposed with regular temperatures.  After a few days no changes occurred between the two separate groups.  Even though this along with many other studies continued to say that going out with wet hair cannot cause a cold, I was still confused why I got back to my dorm last night with a runny nose.


Symptoms and duration of the common cold

The reason for the runny nose is the fact that noses warm and create wetness as “the air we breathe travels down into the lungs.” Breathing in the cold winter air causes the moisture in the nose to increase fluid production, and the excess fluid that is produced is what comes out of our noses being the reason for the runny nose; this is not due to a cold forming.


Which symptoms are more common with a cold

Dr. Pritish Tosh from the Mayo Clinic, explains that the only way to get a cold “infection is that you need to be exposed to an infectious agent.”  This explains that just by going outside into cold temperatures does not cause a cold.  Since colds are caused by virus spreading not by being in cold temperatures, I am becoming more convinced that my hypothesis that their is no link between going outside with wet hair and getting a cold.  Causation does not equal correlation in this case.  The next time your mother, grandmother, or another adult figure trying to be wise tells you to not go outside after you shower just tell them that I can only get a cold through an infectious agent and see how they react to your statement.


Many people where I live have turned towards becoming vegan, organic, vegetarian, or gluten free. All those people have very strong views on why they decided to change their diet, and tend to be very opinionated about the reasonings of why this is the case, all for different reasons.  I never really understood how or why someone would want to be a vegan, but all those I talk to about this topic say it is a much healthier diet and more humane.  Where are these people getting all their nutrients from that others get from consuming meat?  With this question in mind I decided to take a closer look on all things vegan.


Percent of Vegans and Vegetarians in the U.S. in 2013

Protein is the main nutrient coming from meat and the main food that vegans give up when deciding to change their eating life style.  There are other foods, though, that vegans can get these nutrients from such as beans, quinoa, tofu, peanut butter ect.  Individuals, though, do not need large quantities of protein as a part of their diet; only 1 in every 10 calories need to contain a protein base.  “For example, a vegan male weighing 174 pounds could have a calorie requirement of 2,600 calories and only need 284 calories from protein.” B-12, coming from animal protein, is the most lacking nutrient, though, that vegans loose on a daily basis.  Even if vegans are able to get protein from other foods is this a fully safe change in diet?

In 1999 Meta-Analysis study compared vegan death rates to non-vegans.

Alternative hypothesis:  death rate is higher in non-vegan eaters than vegan eaters

Null hypothesis: death rate is equal of those non-vegans and vegans

This study was conducted with 753 individuals varying from living in North America and Europe.  What was discovered was vegans had a heart disease rate of .74 and a mortality rate of 1.00 ; only 68 vegan deaths.  Non-vegans had a heart disease and death rate of 1.00, nearly the same as vegan eaters, showing no significant difference between the two death rates.  Although this study found no substancial difference between the two this experiment could have been conducted differently to find more accurate results.  Two groups could have been formed with one as a control group and the other as the experimental.  Both groups starting as people who have a regular diet to start and then half of these individuals change to a vegan diet for a year while the other group keeps a regular diet.  These individuals would be tested prior and post the experiment on different diseases, heart rate, blood pressure levels ect.  So this experiment, I believe is not fully reliable without further experimentation and still unknown if being a vegan is a safe, healthy alternative to a typical diet.

“People are very sensitive about their diets, especially when you challenge what they have always believed,” dietitian Julieanna Hever, RD.  This is a big reason why there are not too many studies conducted about this topic.  More research would have to occur and society would have to become more accepting about the fact that people have different ideas and values when regarding their diets.  This is the same for vegan eaters, they cannot push their values about veganism onto others, because this can cause others to be less accepting about what vegans believe in.

Should I Study Alone?

Studying in a group has never been something that I deemed to be an effective way of learning.  I have always felt that I am more productive studying alone, versus in a group where I would get distracted and just non stop talk with my friends.  What intrigues me, though, is that their are many people who regularly study in groups and find that they learn more, and do better in the course due to the fact that each person in the group teaches one another the material giving them a better understanding on the work.  With this is mind I decided to research more on this topic and try to find out if actually studying in groups can be more beneficial than studying alone or vice versa.

Students in a study group collaborating source

A student conducted an experimental study in his classroom where “half of the class was instructed to complete their work by working in groups; the other half of the class would complete their work by themselves.”  He looked at the students pre and post tests scores and compared them to see if group or individual work has an effect on the students grades.  This specific study lead to a dead end conclusion, where there was no real difference in either group. This lead me to some confusion and questions, were there third variables effecting this, i.e were the people in the groups very effective workers and did not slack off or was the work easy enough that being in a group did not have a positive or negative effect?  This study showed an indirect causation between group studying and individual work.  This study could have been more effective if the researcher did a single-blind placebo trial so that the students would not have know that they were part of a experiment, which could have lead to more accurate results; possibly the students doing more of what they usually do in group assignments such as talking more and getting easily distracted.

There are advantages and disadvantages to group and individual studying.

Pros of group work:
1) Everyone is good at something different, so use these strengths for better understanding
2) Get help with things that you are more unsure of
1) Lead to a socialization session.
2) Some people wont be of help and slack off in pulling his or her own weight
3) People could have a different seriousness about how they should be studying in the group

Pro of individual work:

1) Individuals have less distractions
2)Only have to rely on themselves and not others to get work done


1) Individuals will have only one idea of how to do a problem
2)If individual doesn’t know how to do a problem there are stuck

“Study groups are so effective because they provide a way for students to make the lecture notes their own,” Keith Sawyer, Ph.D., associate professor of education in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.  In the first study conducted by Sawyer at the university , he and an undergraduate student “videotaped and analyzed a study group” of four students for an undergraduate psychology course at the university, who got together prior to every test they had for the course to study their notes.  His conclusion after watching the video at the beginning and end of the students studying together was that at the end the students had a much more free flowing conversation about the material for the test and their words and expressions to one another showed that they understood the material on a higher level. This is still an open ended study in that Sawyer just observed the four students rather than looking at their grades prior and post the studying or using more tangible evidence for his study.  He just observed if they had a better conversation about the topic or not.  Also, the sample size of solely four students cannot come up with 100% accurate results. If a bigger sample size with two separate groups of students their would be less chance for third variables to have an effect on the results. With this I believe that this study needs more work to come up with an accurate result.

group-study-vs-study-alone-2-638 source

To conclude, I still do not know if it is better to study alone or in a group.  I will continue to study alone like I normally do but maybe after studying a little bit alone I could have a group come together for review sessions a few days prior to the test date.  Moe research and studies would have to be conducted in order to come up with a more accurate idea about whether or not studying alone or in a group is more effective.



Effects of Journaling Round Two

On the previous blog period I had posted a blog on the effects of journaling.  Thinking more about my prior blog made me want to elaborate on this topic and delve deeper into positive and negative effects of this hobby.

People journaling to have a safe place to write down their thoughts, or ideas in a small book or notepad for themselves.  imgres





My question from my previous blog still stands; can journaling be a easy way to positively impact ones life?

Journaling provides a great number of benefits to many individuals.  This includes:

  • reduced stress
  • heals past experiences
  • strengthens self worth
  • positive emotional effects
  • higher academic achievement

A study was conducted by Jean Harchelroad at the Pennsylvania State University, to test the effects of journal writing in a mathematics class.  Their were two groups, a control group who did math practice problems at the end of class and the treatment group who journaled at the end of class about new concepts they learned in class that day.  It was discovered that the control group did better on understanding math concepts over the group that journaled.  This study was a double-blind placebo trial in that neither the participants or the the conductor of the study knew what the results would entail. Due to this being a randomized trial, the idea of third variables is not possible, so not outside factors could have effected this study. Another study was conducted on two groups of college students who were told to journal weekly where “one class received targeted information on cognitive-behavioral therapy and one class did not.”  Cognitive-behavioral therapy, CBT, is “goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment” that uses a direct approach for conclusive findings.  Journaling about their personal lives, is the variable being tested in this experiment. Both groups then took self-efficiency tests and it was concluded that the scores for the group that journaled greatly increased.  Both the methods for each study are experimental in that the students are taking an action for a resultant to come out of the situation.

Ones mental heath has also been deemed to benefit from the act of journaling.  A New Zealand researcher conducted his own study and found out that after individuals went through a traumatic experience in their life and then decided to write down their feelings about the occurrence, actually helped those individuals emotional heal faster.  It is unknown though from this study the time frame it would in fact take to actually see the positive results.





In my other blog about journaling I wrote about how students “self-reported” data about journaling after they went through a traumatic experience.  At that time I was unable to come up with a solid conclusion due to the fact that it was a self reported experiment rather than one with a hypothesis and included variables. I dug a little deeper and found out a book called : The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, was written all about how journaling helped people after trama.  The books talks about many studies that were conducted about this topic and how it led people to live a happier fuller life after a tear shedding experience.  Experimental and observational studies were conducted which I believe have reliable background information.

After looking a second time into the ideas and benefits behind journaling, I can say that is no true conclusion if journaling if 100% effective or not.  The research out there has definitely used and experimented using solid methods and coming up with concrete information, but there is still information out there that contradicts the other. This information would have to include more in depth studies about journaling, possibly taking two groups testing their mental state prior and post journaling and have one control group who does not journal and another that does the journaling.  At this point, I think that journaling can have a beneficial effect on people whether its on academic performance, or mental health.  One should try keeping a journal and see if it makes a positive impact on there life over a period of time.


Benefits of Therapy Dogs

During my senior year in high school one of the clubs on campus decided to bring therapy dogs onto campus.  This occurred at the beginning of finals week, with the purpose to promote positivity and happiness during a stressful time of year.  This made me wonder if having these dogs on campus actually took away stress for students and overall created a more cheerful vibe on campus.

Positivity, and the act of lifting ones spirits is the ultimate goal of these therapy dogs.  A study was done with 40 college student.  Half of them took all their tests without ever being in the presence of a therapy dog and the other half took the first exam without the therapy dogs but all the following having used the therapy dogs.  Both groups received similar scores on the first tests but for the preceding ones, the students who used the therapy dogs did significantly better.  It is proven that the usage of therapy dogs decrease anxiety and overall stress levels.  This decrease in stress results in students being able to focus more on their tasks at hand without outside distractions.  They are happier going into tests which allows them to remain more calm; resulting in higher test scores.

These therapy dogs are clinically proven to fight depression in humans.  It has been clinically proven by “Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness” that the second a human pets a dog large quantities of endorphins are released causing individuals great happiness and actually treating and fighting depression. Just having a therapy dog present could clinically cure someone of depression without the use of heavy drugs and costly therapy treatments.  The patients did not know that the outcome of being in the presence of a therapy dogs would greatly help them with their depression, nor did the doctors working with them.  Although this is true, not in every case can a therapy dog help someone fight off their depression; but it is worth in it the cases where is truly will help individuals.

These dogs are like a magic drug, bringing pure joy and happiness to all those around them.  With this being said, it is worth a try to those fighting depression or ones constantly stressed to spend time with these therapy dogs and see what the outcome of the situation result in.


Dogs are humans best medicine

Is Yawning Contagious?

Have you ever wondered why every time you see someone yawning or you have a conversation about yawning you, yourself, yawn?  This constantly happens to me which soon led me to become very curious whether or not yawning is truly “contagious” or just a matter of utter coincidence.  With this being said I did some research and came across some very interesting studies on the topic.

Contagious yawning beings in the early stages of ones life.  Some individuals are more vulnerable to contagious yawning; which can be driven more by time of day, empathy levels, and the amount of social bonding one goes through. A study at Duke University suggests that contagious yawning occurs “in response to hearing, seeing or thinking about yawning.”  This study took a group of individuals who watched a three-minute video on other people yawning. It was then recorded, by the observers, how many times each of the participates yawned while watching the video.  “Of the 328 people studied, 222 contagiously yawned at least once.” This yawning stems from the amount of communication skills each person has.  It is due to the social bonding people go through that link them to connect with other individuals.  These shared experiences and memories that people go through connect them on a different level causing them to be more receptive to others yawning.

Children with autism are less susceptible to contagious yawning.  Autism disables people to pay attention to eye cues and reflexes that are a natural response to yawning.  A study was published in Autism Research and Treatment with 26 children with autism and 46 without.  They were all told to watch video clips of people yawning but were told to look for the people in the video wearing glasses(this was in order to try to get the eye cue response that normally happens to people when contagiously yawning).  Overall only 30% of children with autism yawned in response to the videos; a rate that was equal to the amount of the people in the control group(which was double the amount).  The part of the brain where quick responses and social behaviors are located, are not as apparent in children with the autism which disallows them to have the cognitive response of contagious yawning.  Eye contact is not made as often by individuals with autism, impairing them from having “reciprocal gaze behaviour” with others.   Reverse causation of this matter would be ruled out because contagious yawning does not lead to individuals getting autism, along with other outside third variable factors.

I had never known that there was a true scientific background on the concept of contagious yawning.  My uncertainty was quickly answered when looking into these studies as well as learning that different mental illness can decrease ones ability to “catch” a contagious yawn. Try paying attention next time as your friends yawn and see who around them becomes prone to their yawns and so on.

yawning really is contagious

Yawning is really very contagious

Effects of Journaling

I, myself, write in a journal on occasion.  I write about anything and everything that is going on in my life at that moment, whether good or bad.  Every time I write in it, even if its the smallest of things, I feel like I am able to share either my good or bad problems. This caused some curiosity of whether or not journaling could actually be beneficial to one’s happiness in life and provide one with an escape outlet with the ability to freely express themselves.

Many health benefits have steamed from regularly journaling, including but not limited to; relieving stress, positive emotional effects, and self-confidence.  A study was conducted by American researchers in which two groups of young adults were told to write in a journal.  One group was assigned to write about things they were grateful of along with more positive thoughts, while the other group was told to write about things that bothered them or what made them upset.  In conclusion to this study, my data was consistent with my hypothesis: the positive group showed “greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other group.” The negative writing group did not show any signs of improvement and some individuals became more angered and upset with themselves. There could be a third variable, though,it’s that focusing on the positives and making a point to notice them on a regular basis improves your mood.  I believe that the continuous positive reassurance from journaling creates the positive stigma in one’s daily life.  James Pennebaker, a psychologists at The University of Texas,  agrees with my beliefs in that essentially journaling can be someone’s “antidepressant.”

Even journaling about negative experiences can improve one’s mental and social health.  One could say that journaling could cause negative outcomes because it could make you think more on the bad times in your life and make one self-obsess over what causes them stress.  Although this could occur, more often than not, positive resultants occur.  Another study among college students was conducted where they were told to write for 15 minutes a few days in a row for a month period about the most traumatic experience they have gone through in their lives.  The months after the experiment ended, students were “self-reporting” better mental, emotional, and physical health.  Journaling was a way for these students to alleviate the great pain that was caused from their tragic life experiences.  It was an outlet from the real world, where they were not receiving fake pity from those around them, and instead coming to terms with their own experience and dealing with it in a positive way.  This was a self-reporting experiment that wasn’t to large in size so there could be reasons it is not fully reliable, but even so, this experiment seemed to bring up positive results.  An experiment that could be more reliable could be splitting up two groups of people who have already been journaling for at least in a year in there life and have one of the groups stop journaling all together and see what changes in their mood and mental health.  This could give us another idea of really how positive journaling can be for someone.

I would greatly recommend journaling to others, and now, myself, will try to journal on a more regular schedule to see if the benefits that occurred to the individuals in the studies I found could happen to me as well.  Having a place that is sacred to oneself is a great way to express all types of feelings and emotions and hopefully have it be a new found way that can greatly benefit ones life.  There is no harm in journaling for just 15 each day.  If those 15 minutes can lead to a more positive outlook on life then those are one of the best 15 minutes if a day that could occur.


Who Remembers Dreams?

Have you ever thought about why some nights you can remember your dreams but not other nights? Or why you rarely to never remember your dreams at all? I have constantly asked myself this question with solely the mere understanding that everyone does indeed dream. I find dreaming so fascinating and sometimes the dreams even feel like they were past memories or part of my actually life.  As I dug through some articles and researched more about the dreaming process my questions were answered.

We dream every single night, in fact, even if our conscious mind does not remember what occurred when we wake up. About one to two hours each night we spend in REM sleep, rapid eye movement, which is the time of our sleep that is spent in the dreaming process.  A study was conducted using 36 participants.  These 36 individuals were split into two groups and listened to background music during this study, occasionally hearing their name said to them.  When sleeping, both groups reacted the same way, hearing their name said to them but quietly enough to not get woken up.  “However, when awake, high recallers showed a more sustained decrease in a brain wave, called the alpha wave, when they heard their names, compared with the low recallers.”  The difference between these high and low recallers is that high recallers process sound and have better reflexes than the low recallers making them more aware of their spacial surroundings.  They are better able to perceive the world around them at a higher frequency and notice the details in the things they do.  This allows for the mind at night to be working at a more active pace: this is due to the alpha waves, which decrease the amount of brain stimuli, which would allow for a higher interaction with the outside world.  Since these people are not focusing as much on the outside world when sleeping they can better concentrate on what is happening while they are sleeping.

What I find strange, though, is why is if you are more or less focused the world why that would have to do with your ability to remember what your dream was.  I discovered that people who were more rested had a fresher mind and were ultimately more focused and calm when sleeping.  This concentration leads to being able to remember one’s dream for a prolonged period of time.  It is a fact that if you write down what you remember about your dream within the first 90 seconds after waking up that you will start getting a stronger sense of your dreams and be able to recall and regurgitate them more and more as time progresses.  I actually have a friend who keeps a dream journal and she rereads it quite often.  She tells me about her dreams on a regular basis, and includes detailed descriptions that most normal people would never recall.  Regularly writing down your dreams allows you to hone in on every event that occurs when you dream; this allows for future dreams to be better remembered because one will start having similar dreams each night due to the fact that they are rereading and writing down each dream they have.

Dreaming is a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.  This concept will forever be strange to me as dreaming occurs when your body is at its slowest, calmest point, but can do something as amazing as dream.  I am going to try keeping a dream journal, and see if it helps with remembering and having dreams that stay with me for longer periods of time.  Try this as your own experiment and maybe you will be as surprised with the results as I hope to be with mine in soon time.  Image3

REM sleep stages throughout the entire night

A Positive Outlook On Gum Chewing

I am probably one of the biggest gum chewers out there.  Many of my high school teachers were not the biggest supporter of this habit, but I feel as though the classes that I was able to chew gum in I actually paid more attention and was better focused.  Thinking about this topic made me want to conduct some research and see if gum chewing gum in class made students more focused on the tasks at hand and overall did better in school.

Before I conducted some research on the topic of gum chewing in class, I personally believed that chewing gum could be my cure to staying focused and doing better in school.  I discovered a study that broke 108 8th graders in the same class into two groups. Half the class got to chew gum all day while the control group did not.  These students were followed for 14-weeks only to find out that the students who chewed gum got higher test scores and  were overall more focused during school.  I was not surprised at the results since they paralleled my hypothesis and agree that this experiment was an easy effective way to find out the effects of gum chewing. Dr. Andrew Johnson  believed that this was due to the increase in oxygen flow and glucose to the brain while chewing gum. So why would more oxygen and glucose flow to the brain help in increase test scores? “More oxygen can keep people alert and improve their reflexes.”  The gum chewing allowed this process to occur at a more rapid pace allowing students to instantly become more focused at their current task.

Increase in better and longer memory functions are also deemed to benefit from gum chewing. In 2011, a study was conducted at Lawerence University where students chewed gum for five minutes before taking a series of tests.  As more oxygen and blood flow circulated to brain the students were at a “high” for 15-20 minutes post their gum chewing. After this time period, though, the positive effects of gum chewing started coming down.  I did not really understand why this would happen to these students because it worked for longer periods of time for the 54 eight graders who chewed gum in the other study I found.  I read up more and came across a researcher  who studied these effects and then claimed that the act of chewing gum only warms up the brain giving it a quick start for solely a short amount of time.  The difference between these two studies in that the eighth graders chewed gum at a more constant rate verses the students at Lawerence University only did for a five minute span of time.

Next time when teachers tell you to spit out your gum in class tell them that it is going to help you have a greater performance and better pay attention.  They might just listen to you. Think about this: next time you are about to take a test or do a long homework assignment chew some gum and tract your results, you may just be surprised at the outcome.


An Interesting Science

Hi everyone my name is Elyssa Woods and I am from Los Angeles, California.

I knew that I had to take a science class to fulfill my Gen Ed requirements so during NSO I spent a very long trying to find one that fit well into my schedule.  To be blunt, I had a late NSO date, the middle of July, and that found this was one of the few science classes that worked well with my schedule. My advisor actually told me that this was an amazing science class and that I would actually find it interesting and would be excited to go to class.

All of high school I have wanted to major in business. I am more drawn to marketing and advertising than formulas, science equations and theory’s.  I actually have never disliked science it just has never been something I wanted to spend the rest of my life working on. I am hoping that this class will shed some light into some new knowledge about science and catch my interest in a way that no other science class has before.



Penn State is going to be a big adjustment from my home town

Penn State is going to be a big adjustment from my home town.

Click Link Below

I just thought this was a cool video on some interesting science experiments