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Organic food benefits, a myth

Food grown without pesticides or herbicides should not be promoted as healthier because there’s no evidence to show that it contains more nutrients than conventionally grown food, claims a new study.

According to the author of the study, conducted by the School of Molecular Bioscience, University of Sydney, consumers should stick with commercially grown fruit and vegetables because they are cheaper and, therefore, people could eat more of them.

To reach the conclusion, the study surveyed the international literature on organic produce, conducted laboratory analyses of Australian foods and surveyed Australian health professionals about organics.

“We conclude from the analysis that the nutrient composition differs very little between foods that are produced by organic and conventional methods,” said Samir Samman.

“Some health professionals believe that organic foods have more nutrients and elicit favourable effects on health. This advice is given despite the lack of scientific evidence to support it.”

‘Green exercise’ can boost mental health

Just five minutes of exercise in a park, working in a backyard garden, on a nature trail, or other green space can boost mood and self-esteem, according to a new study.

Jules Pretty and Jo Barton explain in the study that green exercise is physical activity in the presence of nature. Abundant scientific evidence shows that activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the sense of well-being. Until now, however, nobody knew how much time people had to spend in green spaces to get those and other benefits.

“For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health,” Pretty said.

From an analysis of 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical health improvements.

New artificial collagen may help treat arthritis

Scientists have created the strongest form of collagen known to science, a stable alternative to human collagen that could one day be used to treat arthritis and other conditions that result from collagen defects.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, forming strong sheets and cables that support the structure of skin, internal organs, cartilage and bones, as well as all the connective tissue in between.

“It’s by far the most stable collagen ever made,” said Ron Raines, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For decades, doctors have used collagen from cows to treat serious burns and other wounds in humans despite the risk of tissue rejection associated with cross-species transplants.

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