Daily Archives: November 20, 2016

Do shoe insoles work?

I have worked at a sports store selling shoes for little over 2 years now. One thing that we are encouraged to push to our customers is shoe insoles. We make it a priority to put the customer who is buying shoes in one of the insoles to feel the difference in comfort. I have wondered if insoles truly do work for people. I have never worn insoles. There are typically two groups of people that wear insoles ; athletes and older people. The athletes wear the insoles for support,comfort,and durability and while the older group of people wear them for support, they have different functions for many different people. This blog post will attempt to answer the question of if shoe insoles really work or if there are numbers supporting insoles.



Types of insoles
To start off, there are two different types of insoles that someone can wear. The two types are insoles and orthoses. Insoles are made my the thousands and made for all types of peoples’ feet. They are often used for athletes, such as runners or football players. They are made for comfort as well as support like I stated previously. There are two types of orthoses. The first is functional, which works on your structure of your foot and keeps it aligned. Accommodative orthoses are made just to cushion ones foot and not worry about the alignment of the foot. throughout studying insoles and various case studies, I came to the conclusion that scientific data does not throughly support if the insole will work or not, it is mostly dependent on the person that is wearing the insole. I did find a specific case study that was particularly interesting.

Case Study
The case study that I examined for the purpose of this blog post actually was not what I expected at all. The case study was an anecdotal case study that examined how using less of an insole and less of a shoe can actually raise your heel, so you are not flat footed. Just over the course of two years, it is proven in this case study that this persons foot was lifted. This not only lifted the heal , but it also aligned the foot too. Like I mentioned before, this was very eye opening for me. I expected it to be the opposite way. This case study was so important because it could help out many runners in what they are doing. The foot that was used saw dramatic changes over time, and at the end of the day her foot practically became healthier, all because she did not use an insole.

Uses of insoles
I never have once used an insole. The case study that I found kind of goes against what I am trying to do, but it shows that not all insoles are the best possible solution for everyone. It is very dependent on the foot of whoever is using it. Athletes use insoles for explosion and command of their feet, in many sports insoles are encouraged if you do not want to get blisters. Older people typically use orthoses because they truly realign their feet and keep them healthy.

I would like to run my own experiment with insoles to see if my arch support increases and the comfort of my shoes changes drastically. In my personal opinion it would be smart to try the insoles out for a short period of time and then stop. It would be logical to do that.





Do Customized or Advanced Insoles Really Work?

Should you drink cold water while eating a meal?

A lot of us may have heard that drinking water while you are eating can increase your weight. However, this has been confirmed by many studies to be untrue. One reason that some people believe drinking water while eating can increase weight is that it can fill up the stomach, which will cause the stomach to get bigger. However, many believe that this is not the case. Many studies have suggested that drinking water while or before eating can cause weight loss, according to this article, drinking water before or while eating can help satisfy our hunger and thus cause us to consume less food. However, the article I found did not mention If it is better to drink cold or warm water while eating to maximize benefits. So, I decided to do a research into this topic and look for any experiments that tested this hypothesis to know whether or not there is a difference in drinking either cold or warm water while eating.


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Alternative Hypothesis: Drinking cold water while eating is better than warm water for your body.

Null Hypothesis: Drinking cold water while eating has the same effects on your body as when drinking warm water.

According to an article in Collective Evolution, drinking water while eating can be helpful in speeding up your metabolism. However, this is not necessarily always true. The article says that drinking cold water while eating can actually have negative effects by making your body consume more energy than when not drinking water at all. The hypothesized causation is that cold water takes more time to be warmed inside your stomach than warm water does. Not to mention that this wasted energy that your body uses to heat cold water should be used for digestion, which could cause weight gain. The hypothesized mechanism is: as the body consumes too much energy in heating the cold water, the digestion system becomes less efficient, which will prevent your body from assimilating food and getting rid of waste and thus cause weight gain. Therefore, the article says that it is better to drink warm water while eating than to drink cold water.

I think that the conclusion that the article reached is very convincing because the article has provided a mechanism for the process. However, the article did not mention enough detail on how the studies, which the article’s conclusion was based on, were done, nor it mentioned the results of other meta-analysis studies that were done on the hypothesis. This could indicate that the results the article came up with could suffer the File Drawer Problem.

Fortunately, I found a study done in 2009 that done an experiment on the effects of cold meals the body digestion system. While it is right that the study does study the exact hypothesis that I mentioned in the post, the study examines the effects of meals of different temperature on the digestion system, which could have similar effects on the body to what cold water does.

The study tested 25 participants, most were males, and gave them three different liquid or solid meals, each with a different temperature. The study measured the efficiency of the digestion system for each meal by measuring the gastric emptying each time participants were given a meal.

The study used a control trial to test the hypothesis, which is, as we learned in class, a method that can provide reliable results. Furthermore, I think that the study could not use the placebo effect because participants can recognize cold meals from hot meals. In addition, the study did not provide any mechanism for the hypothesis being tested nor it provided detail on the exact results, which could help us learn how significant the difference in the digestion system efficiency when the participants were given meals of extreme temperatures and when they were given meals of the room (warm) temperature. The study has also tested a small number of people, which could increase the risk of getting false positive results or due to chance. Not to mention that the participants in the study were 22 males and 3 females. This could result in inaccurate results, as the digestion system in males’ body might be different than that of females.

The study found that when participants were given meals of temperatures more extreme than the body’s typical temperature, their body took more time to digest that meal. Similarly, the hypothesized relationship between cold water and the time the body needs to heat it, suggests that the colder the water is, the more energy the body will need to consumed and time the spent in the process in order to heat it. This correlation, in my view, makes perfect sense to why drinking warm water is better than drinking cold water while eating. However, I still need to be skeptical about the results, so I decided to look for the results of other studies.


Image found HERE

I found another two studies that also test the same hypothesis and came up with the same reults as the previous study did. One study that was done in 1988 found that gastric emptying in the participants’ bodies was less efficient when the participants were given cold liquids. The study also found the hot food, but not extremely hot, took less time in the digestion system than warm food did. The other study, done in 1998, found that liquid meals that have temperatures that are either colder or warmer than the body’s temperature can cause the body to consume more energy and time to digest them.

In addition, I found a study that was done in 1989 the came with a different result than the other studies I mentioned in the post. It found that the temperature of the food people eat has no difference on the digestion system. However, the study results might have a greater chance to be due to chance, because the study has tested many variables such as gastric acid secretion, gastrin release, and gastric emptying, which could cause the study to suffer from the Texas Shooter Problem.

Bottom Line: there are not a lot of studies that did experiments on the hypothesis being tested; however, many meta-analysis studies that had tested similar hypotheses provided good evidence for me to believe that it is better for me to drink warm water than cold water while eating. Furthermore, there are many articles that support the hypothesis that drinking warm water while eating is better than drinking cold water, even though they did not provide evidence for experiments, they did provide a convincing mechanism for the hypothesis. In addition, while it is true that drinking warm water while eating can help you lose weight, drinking cold water has appeared to have less effects on weight loss than the effects that warm water has on your body, such as weight loss, because drinking cold water while eating body causes your body to consume the energy that your body should be using for digestion and therefore, have less energy available to consume for the digestion system.




Should you stop using public toilets?

I am sure my headline has gotten your attention. Allow me to explain.

Public bathrooms have a negative stigma. Some of my friends won’t even use public bathrooms. Instead, they opt to “hold it in” rather than using a public bathroom because of fear of contracting a disease from sitting down on a toilet that has been used by countless other people. Well, they might be right, however, it is not for the reason they say.public_bathroom_toilet

Public bathrooms are dirty. However, the toilets are not the most dirty part of the bathroom.

Before I get into how scientists found this out, I would like to explain why I believe ordinary citizens deny that public toilets are clean.

1. Appeal to Authority:

I know I am guilty of this. Until I came across this, I too believed that public toilets were completely dirty. Why did I believe this? Probably because an authority of mine, probably my parents or an elementary school teacher, likely said public toilets were dirty. But should I have listened to them? Well, you should always listen to your parents as a child, but now that I am older I can say, no, I should not have listened to my parents when it came to the topic of public toilets. They were not experts in the topic, had no data, and like me, they too were probably appealing to their authorities when it came to this topic.

2. Confirmation Bias

There have been many studies on the cleanliness of public toilets. So why does the public not acknowledge this? People do not want to hear something they disagree with. If someone who believes public toilets are dirty, when they see a study like this, they disregard it because it goes against their longly held beliefs. They can even forget they even heard this news. This study must be respected, and if you do not think it’s correct, do the same study and try to find a different result.

Now, on to the science.

The study was published in the National Library of Medicine and posted by Mark R. Liles. Both door handles for the door of the bathroom, both handles for the door of the stall, the knobs of the sink, the soap dispenser, the handle to flush the toilet, the floor in the stall, the floor around the skin, and of course, the toilet seat were all tested for cleanliness for this study (Liles 2011). The study used 12 total bathrooms: six male and six female (Liles 2011).

While there were germs on the toilet, they were more prevalent on other items (Liles 2011). So this study does show the toilet seats are not what you should be worrying about in public restrooms.zbathroom-890x395_c

This is an observational study. How do I know this? The scientists did not randomly pick people to use the bathrooms. People used the bathrooms for a full day without any instructions. This is as observational of a study as you could see. But there is a problem with observational studies: confounding variables.

The first confounding variable that popped into my head was the type of bathroom? Were all these bathrooms the same size and layout? The answer is yes! Another confounding variable can be did the same number of people use these bathrooms? Well that is not made clear by the research. I think the biggest confounding variable is the well-being of the bathrooms occupants. Since they don’t know who is using the bathroom, could the results be the result of sick people using the bathrooms more on the day they did the experiment? It is certainly possible.

The article does not suffer from the File Draw Problem because it was published. Could this be the only study the published and have many results that show the opposite? It could be possible, but not likely.  It is not likely because it has been submitted for peer review, and other studies have not come out to denounce the study’s findings. This is the beauty of peer review and why other scientists should always submit their studies to scientific journals. Science is so toiinformative, in part, because it builds upon past studies. If this study was completely wrong, other scientists could look at the study and explain why. They could also conduct their own studies.

So the answer to my question that I proposed in the headline of this blog has a simple answer. No, you should not stop using public toilets. I would like a meta-analysis to be completed on this topic to ensure that this result was not due to chance. However, until then I will trust this study as it was well conducted, and has not yet been challenged by other scientists even though it has been under peer review for many years.

Can haze induce depressive disorder?

In State College, I always think that the air here is pretty fresh, and I feel very comfortable with blue sky, white clouds and beautiful sunshine. However, in North China, the outside environment is totally different.china-smog A large blanket of brown haze has settled over North China, especially in the big cities because industries emit in the air pollutant. In the daily life, many people choose to wear masks  outside and have air home purifiers to protect their respiratory tracts and lungs. Under this condition, can haze affects people’s mood?

Many people may have the experience that often feel cheerful on sunny days and feel down on dreary days. If this experience appears frequently, even affect normal activities, people should pay attention and find a psychiatrist to consult that whether they have SAD. SAD, seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year. If you have SAD, your symptoms would start in the fall, and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. But, you will feel much better in spring and summer. The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include: circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. To be specific, the period of sunlight reduce in fall and winter. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depressions. Also, reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin which affects mood, and may trigger depression. Lastly, the change in season can disrupt balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in mood and sleep patterns. The study scientists did in Ohio State University prefers the third factor, the level of melatonin.

Three people suicided, in Beijing, China, in one day of 2014 when Beijing was in a pollutionbeijingsmog1haze. So, can haze cause seasonal affective disorder, and then induce suicide? Vice professor Jie Zhong in Psychology of Peking University said that although melatonin levels are related to depression, this kind of influence usually exist in the high latitude regions having polar daylight and polar night, such as Russia, Norway and Denmark. Therefore, he said that haze is just an excuse for depression. From my perspective, this conclusion has no any evidence or experiment to support, so it is not convincing.

Now can we believe that haze has no any relation with depression? No. Scientists have studied the topic of relationship between mood and suicide since the beginning of 20th century. The purpose of that study was to evaluate the hypothesis that sunshine exposure may trigger suicidal behavior. Hence they found that sunshine may have a triggering effect on suicide, and suggests further research in the field of sunshine-regulated hormones, particularly melatonin.

An article published in International Journal of Biometeorology in 2013, studied the citizens in Be’er Sheva, Israel.The main objective of this study was to evaluate the role of the concentration of solid air-suspended particles (SSP) in the incidence of mental disorders. In this area, the desert air streams  which bring with an increased concentration of SSP, appear to be complicated stressors that can excite the multiple breaches in psychological state of weather sensitive persons ( such as ideation, mental derangement, depression, nervous tension, and emotional conflicts). Some of these reactions have several accompanying effects, such as a higher prevalence of attempted suicide consistently associated with depression or violation of routine behavior and nervous tension followed by serious consequences in mental dysfunctions.

What’s more, a research group from Canada and a research group from Seoul National University have done similar studies. The results from Canadian research group indicate a potential association between air pollution and emergency department visits for suicide attempts by collecting emergency visit data in a hospital in Vancouver, Canada. The study in SNU is called “Long-Term Fine Particulate Matter Exposure and Major Depressive Disorder in a Community-Based Urban Cohort”. And its subjects are 560 elders in a local welfare house. Its result is that long-term PM2.5 exposure increased the risk of MDD among the general population. But in my opinion, the subjects limit to some extent the generalization of the findings made in the study.  So we can only regard it as a reference.

From here we see that there is some correlations between haze and depressive disorder, but we cannot conclude that haze can induce or lead to depressive disorder. We need more specific and rigorous experiments to find the causality. However, in some degrees, people cannot ignore this possibility.

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