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Why Everyone in College Keeps Getting Sick

Why Everyone in College Keeps Getting Sick

In college, students have the opportunity to explore new places, new subjects, and new lifestyles. Unfortunately, they also have the opportunity to experience new diseases.

Because so many people are crammed into such a small area, universities tend to be crawling with different diseases that can keep students (and professors) out of class. In some cases, these diseases can pose extreme health risks ― which means staying healthy and disease-free should be of paramount importance.

The Disease Factories that are College Campuses

Before students can set foot on college campuses, many universities require them to receive immunizations for several illnesses that the greater population should never encounter. Vaccines for meningococcal meningitis, pertussis, and human papillomavirus aren’t mandatory for any other life event, so why must college students receive them?

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The answer is simple: university campuses are disgusting. The primary problem, to almost no one’s surprise, lies with the students. The vast majority of campus populations are composed of brand-new adults, recently removed from their parents’ houses and experiencing dramatic lifestyle changes in short periods of time. Though these young people are supposed to assume adult-level responsibility, few practice standard levels of hygiene: throwing out rotting food, regularly cleaning dishes, clothing, and linens, washing hands properly, etc.

Worse, most college students develop bad habits such as neglecting sleep, eating poorly, socializing wildly, and experiencing untenable amounts of stress, which weaken their immune systems and make them more susceptible to contagious disease. The result is a mass of dirty, vulnerable bodies speaking, coughing, and kissing all in the same space, spreading germs back and forth, and creating a haven for disease.

Best Strategies for Avoiding Disease

Perhaps the best way to avoid succumbing to sickness throughout one’s college career is to stay far away from campuses and choose online courses, instead.

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However, for the millions of students who opt to go away to college, there are other solutions. The first was already mentioned above: vaccination. Despite anti-vaxers’ claims, vaccines are quite possibly the primary reason the mortality rates in developed countries are so low. Becoming immunized from certain diseases before attending college is as important as becoming immunized before traveling to certain countries. At the very least, students should obtain the following vaccines on their necessary schedules:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
  • TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) vaccine
  • HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine
  • Seasonal influenza

Additionally, students should practice good hygiene. All hygiene-related rules from parents’ houses apply in college, which means students should avoid sharing food, drink, and linens, have a laundry schedule, shower regularly, and brush their teeth well. Pursuing a degree in public health will equip students with the knowledge of how to stay healthy and keep others safe as well. However, there are a few additional rules students should follow while living in cramped university housing:

Don’t wash dishes in the bathroom. Only slobs eat where they, you-know, so it doesn’t make sense to bring eating utensils in there, either. Most dorms have community kitchens with more sanitary sinks for washing up after meals.

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Always dry off completely. Whether the moistness comes from sweat, rain, or a hot, sanitizing shower, students should try to get dry as soon as possible. Damp conditions are ideal for all sorts of bacteria and fungus, especially when coupled with the warmth of a classroom.

Sanitize the places that touch hands. Doorknobs, mini-fridge handles, bed ladders, keyboards, book covers ― they all could use a regular wipe-down with a disinfecting cloth.

Finally, it should go without saying ― then again, all hygiene rules should ― but everyone in college must be sexually cautious. According to the CDC, half of all sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed in the U.S. are among young people between ages 15 and 24, and plenty of disastrous STDs produce few or no outward symptoms. Because the obvious way to avoid STDs usually isn’t tenable, students should always have latex condoms on hand and get tested for STDs on a yearly schedule.

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No college student can entirely avoid getting sick, but by adopting some minor responsibilities in regards to hygiene, most students can dodge the deadliest diseases. Then, everyone can happily and healthfully explore the new opportunities available only on college campuses.

Featured photo credit: Savannah River Site – CCBY2.0License via flickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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