15 Things You Need To Know Today (May 2)

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1. Great news: Coffee and wine can contribute to a healthy gut.

While medications like antibiotics can have a negative impact on the gut, a new study reports that a diet consisting of a variety of fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, yogurt, and buttermilk can contribute to diverse and beneficial gut bacteria that could help prevent illness. (Health Day)

2. Chickens are taking over backyards in New York City.

As spring arrives, the city's backyard chicken population is in the thousands, supplying hen-warm eggs, chicken dinners, and a little taste of farm life. One vendor says it has shipped more than 3,000 birds to the city in the last three years, and 34 community gardens now keep flocks. (NY Times)

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3. Walt Whitman was Paleo way before it was a thing.

“Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else,” Whitman, who lived to a ripe old age of 72, writes in a newly discovered 47,000-word manifesto on how to live a healthy life that he originally published in the New York Atlas in 1858 and is now being republished by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. Some other words of advice? Wake up early. Exercise. Take cold baths. Wear comfortable shoes. Go to bed early. (mindbodygreen)

4. There is such thing as being too empathetic.

A new study explores the interrelationship of empathy and mentalization (the ability to understand what other people know, plan, and want). The research suggests that "activation of the insula, which forms part of the empathy-relevant network, can have an inhibiting effect in some people on brain areas important for taking someone else's perspective. And this, in turn, can cause excessive empathy to impair social understanding." The implications are still unclear. (ScienceDaily)

5. Vegan restaurant owners are receiving death threats.

The couple that runs the LA-based Cafe Gratitude chain is receiving alarming death threats because they slaughter animals on their farm. A protest is planned at their flagship restaurant, and the couple has been inundated with threatening messages since the story was reported on a vegan blog. (Hollywood Reporter)

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6. Parents' attitudes toward failure shape kids' beliefs about intelligence.

New research from Psychological Science says, "Parents who tended to view failure as a negative, harmful event had children who were more likely to believe that intelligence is fixed. And the more negative parents' attitudes were, the more likely their children were to see them as being concerned with performance as opposed to learning." (ScienceDaily)

7. The first commercial test for Zika has just gotten emergency approval from the FDA.

The current testing process requires patients to see a doctor who has to go through the health department to get samples tested, with results taking up to three weeks. It is hoped that the new authorization will shorten the wait for results and make it easier for people to get tested in the U.S. (CNN)

8. The best thing to do after a concussion may not be to rest.

A new study says you should actually try to get moving. It found that youth who exercised within seven days of a head injury had nearly half the rate of persistent post-concussive symptoms a month later. (ScienceDaily)

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9. Teen birthrates are at an all-time low.

A new report finds that teens are now having fewer babies than ever, thanks to better access to contraception plus lower rates of having sex. The decrease was especially pronounced among Hispanic and black teens, whose birthrates fell 51 percent and 44 percent, respectively, since 2006. (NPR)

10. Scientists may have found a way to improve poop transplants.

Fecal microbiota transplants, which use fecal matter from donors to transport healthy bacteria into the gut, has already been shown to be successful in curing those with Clostridium difficile. Now, a new study suggests that more personalized donor selection could make for better transplants and open them up to be used for other conditions. (Washington Post)

11. Nearly all of America is using less coal.

A new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that U.S. coal use is down 29 percent compared to 2007 levels, and nearly every state is using less of the environmentally destructive resource. (EcoWatch)

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12. Lyme disease may prove a huge problem this summer.

It's one of the fastest growing diseases in the Western world, and nearly 300,000 cases are now diagnosed in the U.S. each year. (Daily Mail)

13. The gut microbiomes of babies have an impact on autoimmunity.

Another study supports the idea that we should be living dirty. By looking at the gut microbiomes of babies from three different countries, researchers found evidence that supports the hygiene hypothesis—that exposure to pathogens early in life is beneficial to the education and development of the human immune system—and shows interactions among bacterial species that may account for the spike in immune disorders seen in Western societies. (ScienceDaily)

14. A new neighborhood in Germany will be completely car-free.

By eliminating roads entirely, designers hope that the area will be a close-knit community of people who spend tons of time outdoors. "By getting rid of the [pavement] barrier between households, you then increase interactions between neighbors, and the community then starts to bond." (Fast CoExist)

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15. Air pollution is now associated with even more cancers, plus premature birth.

A new study finds that long-term exposure to fine-particle air pollution—formed by the gasses of cars, power plants, and other sources—is associated with much higher mortality rates from cancers of the breast, upper digestive tract, and other organs. Air pollution has already been linked to lung cancer and heart disease, and a separate study this week also linked it to premature births in pregnant women. (Washington Post)

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