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Evidation Highlights
June 20, 2022

Community Results: The connection between mood and activity levels

2 minutes

Because day-to-day mood is such an important aspect of our wellbeing, we recently began asking members to keep track of their mood by completing a daily offering asking them how they feel. 

We all know that exercise is supposed to make us feel better. In fact, even mild exercise can increase endorphins or feel good hormones. 

And exercise enthusiasts may know this to be true without needing the science. We’ve all heard of “runner’s high”.

But for some, it may be difficult to see or notice the impact activity has on our mood. And understanding how our mood affects our activity levels adds another layer to consider.

Because day-to-day mood is such an important aspect of our wellbeing, we recently began asking members to keep track of their mood by completing a daily offering asking them how they feel. 

In the first two weeks we received 743,401 responses from over 131 thousand members!

Overall, the majority of responses indicated that people were feeling good.

  • Good: 56.9% (423,268)
  • Okay: 37.3% (277,273)
  • Bad: 5.8% (42,860)

The “best” days seem to be Saturday (Good = 59.2%) and Sunday (Good = 58.4%), and the “worst” days seem to be Monday (Bad = 6.1%) and Thursday (Bad = 6.14%). 

In this short time, we noticed a significant connection between those who said they felt “good” and their activity, sleep levels, and resting heart rate. 

More specifically, we took a look at participating members over the first two weeks and examined the relationship between each individual’s self-reported mood and their steps, sleep, and resting heart rate. 

Members who indicated they had a better mood walked more and slept more, and had a lower resting heart rate. 

In fact, we observed that "good" days were associated with an increase of nearly 1900 steps when compared to "bad" days

What does that mean?

Well, it shows that for these members at least, mood and activity levels appear to have some connection. 

It could be that keeping active makes them feel good. Or maybe, feeling good allows them to keep active. 

Curious about how your mood and activity are connected? If you haven’t paired an activity app or wearable to your Evidation app yet, do it today. You’ll earn points for connecting and be eligible to receive more personalized insights.

And stay tuned for more community insights from Evidation!

The daily mood survey is a new offer type we’re currently testing and is only available in the app at this time. If you typically log in on the web, be sure to download the app.

In the News
June 15, 2022

Focus on your Wellbeing this Professional Wellness Month

4 minutes

Professional Wellness Month is a time for employers and employees to evaluate the focus they put on health and wellness in the workplace and at home.

In 2017, health promotion and wellness programs were offered in almost half of all US worksites. And with over 150 million people spending the majority of their waking hours at work, it’s an encouraging number to see.

Professional Wellness Month looks to shed light on the importance of creating a work culture that emphasizes and creates an environment that encourages wellness in the workplace. 

It also looks to stress the importance of a work-life balance for our health.

From financial well-being to our physical well-being, we can participate and celebrate this month in many different ways.

So, how can we celebrate Professional Wellness Month in the workplace?

What are steps we can take to improve our wellness at work and at home?

And, how can we better balance our work and personal lives?

In today’s article we’ll be breaking down the many options you have to celebrate and take part in during Professional Wellness Month.

How to celebrate professional wellness month in the workplace

According to the American Institute of Stress, 

“83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress.”

But there are steps we can take to create an environment that encourages wellness in the workplace.

How can we deal with stress?

Employers and employees can take many different approaches to create a culture that emphasizes the importance of wellness in the workplace. Some ideas include:

  • Workshops -  Workshops can be a great way to teach new concepts and ideas to employees. From education around different health exercises to certain habits and actions we can take. Workshops can serve as a great way to build a healthier working environment. 
  • Resources - having paid sick days, holidays, and health and dental insurance are some of the many ways to develop a healthy work culture that emphasizes the health of its employees.
  • Classes - taking part in different classes may also be a powerful way of creating wellness in the workplace. From meditation classes to fitness circuits, there’s really an endless supply of ideas we can tap into.
  • Events - having some sort of event can help us connect with our coworkers and better our overall well-being through socialization. In fact, being social helps us deal with loneliness and may even help improve our cognitive skills and memory. We can take part in online games with coworkers or laid-back meetings talking about our weekends. Events can be a great way to connect and unwind with coworkers in the workplace.
  • Wellness challenge - creating a wellness challenge for coworkers to take part in not only encourages people to get active, but it’s a great way for people to connect. Exercise increases the release of endorphins (the feel-good chemical), and it’s a great way to maintain a healthy weight. 

Work-Life Balance

Professional Wellness Month is about highlighting the importance of wellness in the workplace. But, it’s also about creating a better work-life balance.

It can be hard to separate the two with the convenience of modern technology and remote work. 

How can we make it easier?

Some ways we can create a better work-life balance include:

  • Unplugging and relaxing - taking a break to spend some time on our hobbies and passions can help us destress and unwind.
  • Detach from work - technology allows us to be constantly connected with work and our duties. If you work at home, try to only work in a dedicated workspace. And when you finish work for the day, make a transition into home life by changing your clothes or going for a walk.
  • Managing our time - we should give ourselves enough time to take care of our responsibilities at work. Learning to schedule our time accordingly and avoid taking on too much if we know it’s going to interfere with our work-life balance is a critical skill.
  • Develop a support system - we can balance our work and personal lives much easier with support. Whether it's coworkers who can cover for us if needed or family members who can help with responsibilities at home. Having a support system is an effective way to find balance.
  • Take some time off - completely shutting off from work and taking time to relax and unwind can be a great way to refocus. It also allows us to mentally and physically recharge.

Closing Thoughts

Professional Wellness Month is a time for employers and employees to evaluate the focus they put on health and wellness in the workplace and at home. 

Whether you decide to participate in new workshops or classes or you choose to take some time off from work completely. Every June we’re reminded of the importance of taking care of ourselves in every aspect of our lives. At home and at work.

Make sure to share this with a coworker, friend, or family member that may need the reminder! 

Your Health
June 8, 2022

National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

6 minutes

Migraines and headaches are often brushed off as insignificant. But they can have a tremendous effect on someone's life. During Migraine and Headache Awareness Month it’s important to spread awareness around these common disorders.

Self-reported migraines and severe headaches affect roughly 1 in 6 Americans.

It’s a common theme, and it happens to many of us. Whether we experience them regularly, or from time to time, headaches present a real problem for many people in their day-to-day lives.

During National Migraine and Headache Awareness month we look to educate and spread awareness around this common condition. We also look to encourage people who experience migraines or chronic headaches to seek help and learn about the treatment options available to them.

In today’s article we’ll be exploring:

  • What migraines and headaches are 
  • How and why migraines and headaches occur
  • Symptoms and signs 
  • Treatment options available
  • How to participate in National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

Keep reading to learn more about migraines and chronic headaches and what you can do to get the help you need.

What are migraines and headaches? How do they happen?

So, what are migraines and headaches?

And what’s the difference between a headache and a migraine?

We often associate both with that throbbing, painful feeling we experience in various areas of the head, but there’s actually more to it than just that.

To begin with, headaches are actually just one of the symptoms of a migraine. Headaches can range in severity and length. But they’re actually different from migraines altogether, we sometimes experience them as a result of a migraine or separately on their own.

Some of the most common types of headaches include:

  • Sinus headaches - clogged sinuses cause this type of headache to occur. When our sinus passages swell up, we experience a sinus headache.
  • Cluster headaches - this type of headache tends to happen daily and sometimes many times per day for several months, and in different areas of the head. When blood vessels become dilated in the brain because of the release of serotonin and histamines we experience this type of headache. Changes in altitude, physical exertion, and bright light may bring on this type of headache. 
  • Tension headaches - these are the most common form of headaches we experience. Hunger, excess stress, and eye strain frequently cause this form of headache. Tension headaches are sometimes felt for prolonged periods of time.

Now, what differentiates a migraine from a headache?

As we mentioned earlier, a headache is just one symptom someone might experience as a result of a migraine. 

Migraines involve nerve pathways and chemicals and they're seen as a neurobiological disease. 

Hormones and chemical compounds like serotonin and estrogen often play a role in the pain we experience when a migraine occurs. 

With more research and as better technology comes to the forefront, we’re starting to get a better understanding of migraines and why they occur. 

A new theory suggests waves of activity from excitable brain cells may cause the migraine by triggering chemicals like serotonin, causing it to narrow blood vessels.

The theory states we experience a migraine when the levels of serotonin and/or estrogen change. 

So, now that we know the potential science behind why we experience migraines, what causes them?

It varies from person to person, but triggers for migraines might include:

  • Allergies - allergies often cause inflammation and irritation throughout the body. This could result in the inflammation of blood vessels, leading to a migraine. 
  • Environments - changes in our stress, diet, or the weather can all trigger the onset of a migraine. 
  • Genetics and family history - if members of your family suffer from migraines, you're more likely to experience them as well. 
  • Gender and hormonal shifts - women are 3 times more likely to experience migraines compared to men. Changes in hormones and menstrual cycles may affect the probability of women suffering from migraines. 

Symptoms and signs

It’s important to understand the symptoms of headaches and migraines and the treatment options available.

Depending on the type of headache you’re experiencing you may deal with different symptoms. With a tension headache, pain is consistent and it feels mild to moderate. It affects both sides of the head (bilateral) and it can worsen while doing certain activities like running or bending over.

Cluster headaches are often intense and have a burning or stabbing-like sensation associated with them. They’re either constant or throbbing. Often, the pain occurs in the eye region or behind one eye and it doesn’t change sides.

Symptoms of sinus headaches may include fever, swelling in the face, bad taste in the mouth, and constant deep pain in the forehead and cheekbones. The pain may get worse with sudden head movements.

Migraines follow a different trajectory.

There are actually four stages people may experience with a migraine: 

  • Prodrome
  • Aura
  • Attack
  • Postdrome 

Not everybody who suffers from migraines goes through all four stages.

A few days prior to a migraine people might experience symptoms during the prodrome phase that could indicate a migraine is coming. This includes:

  • Constipation
  • Neck stiffness
  • Fluid retention
  • Food cravings
  • Frequent yawning
  • Increased urination
  • Mood changes from depression to euphoria 

The aura stage may occur before or even during a migraine. It usually consists of visual symptoms of the nervous system that are reversible, but other irritations may occur as well. Some symptoms include:

  • Vision loss
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Pins and needles sensations in an arm or leg
  • Weakness or numbness in the face or one side of the body
  • Visual phenomena like seeing bright spots or flashes of light

Now, during the actual migraine (the attack phase) people may experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain that throbs or pulses
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch
  • Pain sometimes on one side of the head but more often on both sides

When a migraine is finally over, we enter the postdrome phase. People might feel drained and confused during this time, and sudden movement of the head may cause migraine pain again briefly.

Treatment options

So, now that we know symptoms to look out for, what about treatment options?

What can we do to treat the symptoms we experience? 

Over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen may help alleviate the symptoms we experience with mild migraines and headaches. 

But over-the-counter medications may not be enough for someone who experiences more moderate to severe migraines. Some medications treat symptoms and prevent future migraines from happening. Some of these medications include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Botulinum toxin A (botox) injections

Making lifestyle changes could also help prevent different forms of migraines and headaches from occurring. 

Exercising regularly, getting better sleep, taking part in relaxing activities such as mediation, and even avoiding certain “trigger” foods may help people prevent the onset of migraines and headaches. 

Conclusion - National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

Migraines and headaches are often brushed off as insignificant. But they can have a tremendous effect on someone's life. 

During Migraine and Headache Awareness Month it’s important to spread awareness around these common disorders.

And with over 37 million people in the United States suffering from migraines it’s important that we not only spread awareness but also educate ourselves on symptoms and the treatment options available.

If you’re looking to participate, make sure to spread the word, educate, or even take part in events in your community that work to acknowledge the struggles people who suffer from migraines and headaches may experience.

And make sure to share this with a friend or family member that you feel could benefit from what we’ve shared today!

Research
June 1, 2022

What does Informed Consent Mean?

4 minutes

Researchers use the process of informed consent to give potential participants important information about a study. They do this so an individual understands the purpose of the research, potential risks, benefits, and alternatives available and has the voluntary option to participate based on what is best for them.

At Evidation (formerly Achievement) Studies, our primary goal is to put individuals first.

One way we do this is by ensuring the safety, protection, and comfort of the individuals who participate in our studies. 

To make sure we ALWAYS meet this goal, we follow a standard process for outlining important information related to the study and providing that information to potential participants to support knowledgeable, voluntary decision-making. We call that process Informed Consent.

We hope this information helps you better understand the informed consent process and how it fits into health research as a whole.

What is Informed Consent?

Informed consent is both a process and an action.

Researchers use the process of informed consent to give potential participants important information about a study. They do this so an individual understands the purpose of the research, potential risks, benefits, and alternatives available and has the voluntary option to participate based on what is best for them.  

To provide consent, participants sign an Informed Consent Form (ICF). This form guides a person through all the relevant information related to the study and gives them the option to enroll. At Evidation studies, this process is done online through our online platform.

 

Infographic showing the steps of the informed consent process. Receive the ICF, Read and review the ICF, Understand the information in the ICF, As questions, sign the ICF

What information is in an Informed Consent Form? 

It’s important that study participants understand all the important details of a study before providing their consent (in other words, their permission) to participate. To make sure participants have all the information they need, the Informed Consent Form (ICF) includes the following:

  • The purpose of the research
  • A description of each activity they will need to do and how long each should take to complete
  • What data will be collected, who will have access to the data, how the data will be used, and how we will make sure the data stays safe
  • Potential risks and benefits of participating in the study
  • A statement that participation is voluntary and that participants can withdraw at any time during the study
  • If and how they will be compensated for participating in the study (for example, direct deposit, gift card, travel vouchers, products, etc.)

Evidation Studies puts a lot of time and care into developing the Informed Consent Forms for each study. This helps to ensure that we communicate openly, honestly, and clearly with our participants.

Who creates the ICF?

Every study has a team of individuals dedicated to protecting the safety of participants. This team works together to decide what the ICF should include for each study and then submits it to an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review and approval. An IRB is a group of qualified individuals who work to protect the rights and well-being of research participants. One way they do this is by making sure our ICFs are clear and thorough. 

Why is Informed Consent Important?

Informed consent is important from an ethical point of view, because we need to make sure that everyone who participates in our studies is doing so voluntarily (by choice) and is comfortable with everything the study will involve. 

 Informed consent is also a legal requirement: it has to occur before a participant is enrolled in any clinical research study.  

The guiding principles of the informed consent process are taken from historical documents that focus on respecting the people who participate in research. Documents like the Nuremberg Code and the Belmont Report detail the ethical principles of ‘Respect for Persons’. These principles include:

  • Participants have the choice to agree to participate or not (“voluntary consent”).
  • Participants have the option to withdraw at any time (that is, they are free to stop at any time).
  • People are autonomous and should be treated with respect
  • Protected groups like participants who are unable to consent for themselves/require additional protections. (The consent in these cases may be provided by a caregiver or legal guardian.) 

Who do I contact if I have questions about the Evidation Studies informed consent process?

The Evidation Studies Support team is available to answer any and all questions participants may have about a study before signing the informed consent form, as well as any questions that come up throughout their study participation. We have a team of individuals (dedicated to making the experience as easy and comfortable as possible.

Want to know more about any of our Evidation Studies and how to get involved? Reach out to us at study@evidation.com and one of our friendly team members can help you get started. 

If you want additional general information on health research, we recommend checking out the following public resources: 

Your Health
May 25, 2022

Arthritis Awareness Month

5 minutes

Arthritis is a common condition that affects many Americans. Although it’s most common in older adults, it can be present in children and young adults as well.

According to the CDC, arthritis is one of the most widespread conditions in the United States, affecting about 1 in 4 adults. 

In fact, it’s estimated it affects almost 59 million Americans. 

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to learn more and help spread the word.

Arthritis affects older adults, younger adults, and even children. In fact, approximately 300,000 children may have some type of arthritis. 

And while it’s a common condition, it can sometimes be misunderstood

In today’s article we’ll be sharing:

  • What arthritis is and what causes it
  • The different types of arthritis 
  • Symptoms to look out for
  • Different treatment options available

Keep reading to learn more!

What is arthritis? 

So, what is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints. It usually causes degeneration and inflammation, leading to pain and discomfort.

Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to stay active and move around. Even simple tasks like sitting, walking, or clenching your fists can become difficult and painful. 

And although it’s often thought of and referred to as a single condition, there are actually more than 100 types of arthritis and conditions related to it.

But, what are the distinctions between the many different types of arthritis?

Different forms cause different symptoms and each form might merit distinct approaches to treatment.

What causes arthritis?

To understand what causes arthritis we first need to understand how our joints work.

Soft tissues cushion and protect our joints, this prevents our bones from rubbing against one another. Connective tissue called articular cartilage works to help our joints move with ease and without pain or discomfort.

But not all our joints function the same way. 

Some of our joints have something called the synovial membrane, which is responsible for lubricating our joints. 

There are also tendons and ligaments. Tendons attach our muscles to our bones, ligaments attach our bones to one another, and both of them work to support certain joints such as our knees.

While there are many types of arthritis, and many ways they can affect our bodies, we’ll focus here on the most common.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Each affects  joints differently:

  • Osteoarthritis - causes wear-and-tear damage to cartilage. Cartilage normally allows for slick movement of our joints, functioning as a protective shield on our bones, preventing bone-on-bone contact. Over time, with enough damage, cartilage will deteriorate to the point that our bones are making direct contact and rubbing against each other.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis - causes the body's immune system to attack the lining of the joint capsule (the synovial membrane). The synovial membrane then becomes swollen and inflamed. With time, this condition can destroy bone and cartilage within the joint.

Although osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of this condition, there is another form of arthritis that specifically affects children

  • Childhood or juvenile arthritis - The most common form of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis which is also referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This can cause permanent damage to joints making it difficult for children to go about their day-to-day activities and it could lead to disability. 

Symptoms and treatment options

It’s great to know the science around arthritis, but what are the symptoms?

Understanding and being aware of the symptoms of arthritis can help you better understand if you or your loved ones might be dealing with it.

This can help people get the treatment they need in a timely manner. 

Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms can vary, but there are some common symptoms, including:

  • Soreness
  • Stiffness
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • A decreased range of motion 

If you’re concerned you or someone you know may have arthritis - contact a medical specialist, get a professional opinion, and learn about treatment options.

Treatment options vary depending on the type and severity of arthritis. 

Medications and physical therapy are common forms of treatment. And sometimes if initial treatment doesn’t help, a doctor may suggest surgery. But it depends on how severe the arthritis is and what impact it has on your life.

Some common medications prescribed for arthritis management include

  • Steroids - Corticosteroid medications are often used to slow joint damage and reduce pain and inflammation. They’re sometimes injected directly into the joint or they’re given in the form of a pill. 
  • Counterirritants - Creams and ointments that contain capsaicin or menthol are sometimes used to help with pain and inflammation. The idea is to rub the cream or ointment on the affected joints to help interfere with pain signals.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -  These medications are used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Some common forms include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. There are even anti-inflammatory topical medications now available.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) - these drugs are used to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, in an attempt to protect the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.

Physical therapy and exercise can also help. 

Exercising can help strengthen muscles and improve overall range of motion. And physical therapy could help improve mobility and increase strength to support our joints.

For some though, medication and physical therapy may not be enough. In such cases, doctors may suggest surgery, depending on how serious the condition is.

Some forms of surgery include: 

  • Joint fusion - this is a more common procedure for smaller joints. It involves the removal of the ends of two bones in the joint. The ends are then locked together until they heal into a single fixed unit.
  • Joint repair  - performed through small incisions made over the joints, this surgery involves smoothing out the surfaces of joints to improve function and reduce pain.
  • Joint replacement -  the damaged joint is removed completely and then replaced with a manufactured one. 

Conclusion - Arthritis awareness month

Arthritis is a common condition that affects many Americans. Although it’s most common in older adults, it can be present in children and young adults as well.

With the variety of different forms out there, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of arthritis. In doing so, you can help catch this condition before it gets too serious.

There are many treatment options available that can help with the pain, discomfort, and inflammation that arthritis causes.

Be sure to share this article with a friend or family member who you think could really benefit from learning more about arthritis.

Healthy Eating
May 18, 2022

Mediterranean diet month: What is the Mediterranean diet?

5 minutes

From olive oil to seafood, the Mediterranean diet is one that appeals to people for many reasons. Not only is the food appreciated, but some studies suggest the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

From olive oil to seafood, the Mediterranean diet is one that appeals to people for many reasons. Not only is the food appreciated, but some studies suggest the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The U.S news and world report ranked it as the number one diet to prevent and control diabetes, and it’s recognized as one of the best heart-healthy diets.

Like most new diets we hear of, many of us are skeptical, yet interested at the same time. Could this diet help to better our overall well-being?

You might have questions about the Mediterranean diet, especially if you’re just learning about it.

What exactly is it?

Are there risks? Benefits?

And why do people go on it in the first place? 

Is it worth trying out?

In today’s article, we’ll be diving deep into this topic, and answering all these questions and more. Keep reading to find out if the Mediterranean diet is right for you!

What is the Mediterranean diet? What can you eat?

The diet consists primarily of foods consumed by people in countries around the Mediterranean sea. This includes countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Southern France, and more. 

So, what foods does it include?

The foundation of the diet includes mainly plant-based foods like:

  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Herbs
  • Seeds
  • Spices
  • Legumes
  • Vegetables 
  • Whole grains

Olive oil is prevalent in the diet as well, and it’s one of the primary sources of fat. 

A few other foods consumed in moderation include:

  • Fish and other seafood
  • Dairy
  • Poultry
  • Eggs

Occasionally sweets and red meats are also ingested, but very rarely. Most of the animal protein comes from fish and other seafood. And the red meats that are eaten are non-processed.

So what foods aren’t allowed when on the Mediterranean diet?

As mentioned earlier, people on the Mediterranean diet don’t eat processed meats. Sausage, bacon, lunch meats, and hot dogs are all foods on the ‘no’ list. 

Refined, processed, and hydrogenated oils are also avoided, this includes: 

  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Soybean oil and more

Plus refined grains like white bread and pasta as well as heavily processed foods like candy, sugary desserts, and even frozen meals with lots of sodium should be avoided.

There’s a limit on alcohol as well, red wine is the only alcoholic beverage consumed on the diet.

As we can see, the diet consists primarily of plant-based foods. There are some meats consumed, but they’re not consumed very often, and when they are, they’re from non-processed sources. 

What are the risks and benefits?

During the 1950s, interest in the diet developed. Heart disease seemed to be much less common in countries around the Mediterranean compared to the United States.

And many studies that came after the observations confirmed that the diet helps prevent stroke and heart disease.

But why? 

What’s the difference between the common North American diet and the Mediterranean diet?

Well, to begin with, the Mediterranean diet has a large focus on olive oil for fats. It provides a large quantity of healthy monounsaturated fats, and it’s shown that these fats can help to lower disease risk.

Monounsaturated fat also lowers bad cholesterol levels in the blood, which may result in a lower risk of stroke and heart disease. 

And some of the foods consumed with the diet may also help fight inflammation. Fish contains a high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3 helps fight inflammation and can also lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and it may reduce blood clotting.

But, what’s the difference between the Mediterranean diet and the typical American diet? 

Why are Americans dealing with more heart conditions compared to our Mediterranean counterparts? 

A big reason could be cultural differences in diet. The typical North American diet contains more trans and saturated fats comparatively, and both fats are linked to causing heart disease. The obesity rate in America is also one of the highest in the world, and there are certain conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, linked to obesity.

In saying all that, there are so many factors that could affect our heart health. It’s hard to pinpoint a direct cause as to why Americans are dealing with more heart conditions when compared to people from the Mediterranean.

Besides, there aren’t just benefits to the Mediterranean diet. There is some potential risk involved as well.

The diet doesn’t emphasize portion sizes or the specific amount of foods eaten. This could lead to overeating certain foods, leading to a higher calorie intake, and eventually weight gain.

It’s also a more time-consuming diet as much of the food requires preparation and cooking, plus it may be expensive compared to other ways of eating.

Why do people go on it? Should you try it?

The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. While there could be many different factors affecting this, like genetics and physical activity, our diets can play a huge role.

Doctors sometimes recommend this diet to people who are dealing with chronic conditions such as heart disease. With its large focus on healthy fats, it could prove to be beneficial for many people.

So, is it worth it? 

Should you go on the Mediterranean diet?

Like all diets, it depends on your circumstances, health factors, and motivators.

The diet might be suitable for you if you’re trying to get away from consuming bad fats, and sticking to a diet that’s more plant-based. 

Closing Thoughts - Mediterranean diet explained

In today’s article we covered:

  • What the Mediterranean diet is
  • What you can and can’t eat while on it 
  • The risks and benefits of it
  • Why someone might choose to do it

Hopefully, with everything you’ve learned today, you have a better understanding of the Mediterranean diet and whether it’s right for you.

Like any other diet, the choice is yours to make. 

Research suggests it may have many health benefits, but its cost and preparation time might make it unsuitable for you.

And it’s always best to consult with a medical professional before making big changes to your diet.

Make sure to share this with a friend or family member that’s interested in the diet so they can learn more!

Healthy Eating
May 11, 2022

Health Mythbusting: Do carbs really make you gain weight?

5 minutes

Carbs play an important role in providing us with energy to go about our day. ‍From simple carbs to complex, they both turn into glucose in your body and provide us with energy.

We’ve all heard the notion before about how carbs can make us gain weight. Because of this, they’re often painted as the culprit of all our weight gain woes.

Bread, pasta, and some of our other favorite foods suddenly become outcasted and avoided at all costs. 

And with an obesity percentage of 42.4% in 2017-2018 in the United States, people are genuinely curious about what causes weight gain.

We asked our users some of the most common health myths they believe in, and the idea that carbs make you gain weight came up time and time again. 

So, do carbs really make you gain weight?

If they do, how and why? 

In today’s article, we’ll be breaking down carbs and whether they really do cause weight gain. Keep reading to find out more!

What are carbs and what do they do?

Carbohydrates play a vital role in the healthy function of our body. They make up ⅓ of what’s considered “macronutrients.” 

Macronutrients include fat, protein, and carbs. 

All three are important nutritious components our body needs to maintain our systems and structure and give us energy.

Carbs in particular are in specific foods and drinks such as:

  • Sugar
  • Fiber
  • Starches 

When we consume carbohydrates, our digestive systems break them down into blood sugar or glucose. Glucose is then absorbed by our bloodstream and used as energy.

Depending on how many carbs we ingest, our blood sugar is sometimes affected.

Eating a lot of carbs can increase your blood sugar levels and when we eat too little it can cause low blood sugar levels

So, it’s best to find a healthy balance and consume carbs in moderation.

Different types of carbs

So, what different types of carbohydrates are there?

We can separate carbohydrates into two categories: complex carbs and simple carbs.

But, what makes them different from one another? After all, they both turn into glucose in your body and are then used for energy.

Complex carbs actually take longer to digest. 

This means they increase glucose levels for a longer span of time, producing a more lasting feeling of energy and helping you stay full for longer. They also provide fiber, minerals, and vitamins. 

On the other hand, simple carbs are quicker to digest, this can cause your blood sugar to spike. This leads to a quick burst of energy that’s often followed by a crash, and because they’re so quick to digest, they often don’t leave you feeling full for long.

They both help with increasing energy levels. But complex carbs will help you feel energetic and full for longer, which could be beneficial when dealing with weight gain.

It’s recommended that the majority of the carbs we consume come from complex carbs rather than simple carbs.

You can find complex carbs in foods like: 

  • Whole grains (such as oatmeal and brown rice)
  • Starchy vegetables (like corn and sweet potatoes)
  • Beans and legumes (like chickpeas and lentils)

Processed and refined sugars like soft drinks, syrups, and candy all contain simple carbs. But simple carbohydrates are also found naturally in some foods. 

Fruits, milk, and milk products all possess simple carbs to some degree.

At the end of the day, the majority of your carbohydrates should come from complex carbs. They can leave you full for longer and the energy experienced will be long-lasting. 

It’s okay to consume some simple carbs, but it’s best to get most of your carbs from complex sources.

Do carbs make you gain weight?

So, do carbs actually put weight on you? 

It’s a narrative we’ve heard so often, so it’s no wonder a lot of people might think that they do. But the thing is, carbohydrates alone don’t make you gain weight

In general, your weight depends on:

  • The number of calories you consume
  • How many calories you store 
  • How many calories you burn

Environmental factors, physical activity, eating habits, genetics, and some health conditions can affect all three of these aspects.

With that said, typically if you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight, and if you burn the calories that you ingest every day, your weight will stay the same.

This is why factors like exercise, health conditions, and genetics play a role in our ability to lose, gain, and maintain weight. 

They can affect our ability to burn calories. 

So, while carbs might contribute to the number of calories you eat a day, they don’t directly cause weight gain. But, eating different types of carbs could affect your eating habits and hunger.

Eating complex carbs will help you stay full for longer, in return causing you to consume fewer calories throughout your day. This is one indirect way that carbohydrate consumption could affect our weight.

But in general, there are way too many moving parts when it comes to weight gain to say that carbs alone cause it. 

Conclusion - Do carbs really make you gain weight?

Carbs play an important role in providing us with energy to go about our day. 

From simple carbs to complex, they both turn into glucose in your body and provide us with energy.

Behind the scenes, they work to help us through exercise, days of work, and even time spent with our family and friends.

But the idea that carbs can increase your weight on their own is a false narrative. 

There are so many other factors that affect our weight, that carbs alone can’t be responsible.

Our genetics, physical activity, the total amount of calories we consume, and environmental factors all play a role.

And while some people might lose a lot of weight by cutting carbs, or doing a low carb diet like Keto, it’s not because carbs themselves cause weight gain. 

They’re either lowering the number of calories they consume a day or training their body to burn stored fat for energy, rather than using glucose. And as a result, in both scenarios, losing weight is easier.

But taking part in diets like these has its own set of risks. The Keto diet could cause:

  • Constipation
  • Nutrient deficiency
  • Liver and kidney problems

Cutting carbs and getting most of your nutrition from fats and protein isn’t really sustainable and there aren't enough studies out there to show the long-term effects it could have on the body. 

With another health myth busted, stay tuned for more upcoming blog posts where we’ll be debunking the many health myths that are out there.

Share this with a friend or family member who you think could enjoy some of the information we provided!

Research
May 4, 2022

What is Eligibility?

3 minutes

We encourage all of our members to actively participate in better health outcomes. One way to do that is by joining a research study! Before you can join a research study, you’ll first need to learn if you’re eligible.

Welcome to the next article in our Research 101 Series! This post talks about eligibility for health research studies.

We encourage all of our members to actively participate in better health outcomes. One way to do that is by joining a research study! Before you can join a research study, you’ll first need to learn if you’re eligible. But what does that mean?

Below, we describe the research eligibility process and how this process matches you to the right research opportunities. 

What is the eligibility process?

The eligibility process is a way for researchers to make sure that you’re a good fit for a study. All research studies have rules that outline who is eligible to participate in the study. Those rules are called the eligibility criteria

There are two main reasons for this: 

1. We use eligibility criteria to make sure the participants who are included in the study are able to help us answer the questions that the study hopes to answer. For example, in a study about birth control in women, we would only include women because that is the only group that’s appropriate for the purposes of the study.

2. We also use eligibility criteria to make sure that we don’t include people in studies when they may be harmed by study activities. For example, we would not enroll individuals with heart disease in a study that asks participants to take a daily medication that could have side effects for people with heart disease

The eligibility criteria are usually related to things such as age, sex, medical conditions, or medical history. All of these factors are assessed by researchers and compared to the study definitions to decide if you’re a match for the study. Every study has different eligibility criteria, because every study is different.

How can I find out if I’m eligible for a study?

Once you find a research study that you’d like to participate in, you’ll go through the eligibility process. 

At Evidation, we ask potential participants to answer an eligibility screening questionnaire which is completed online before joining a study. We may also ask you to take part in other eligibility activities, such as interviews or lab tests depending on the study requirements. All of this helps us determine if a person is a fit for the study.

How does eligibility affect me?

By finding the right participants for a study, we’re able to conduct good research. It also allows researchers to obtain meaningful results. Research studies have the possibility to impact healthcare for all, and so it’s important to do them right.

Want to know more about any of our Evidation Studies and how to get involved? Reach out to us at study@evidation.com and one of our friendly team members can help you get started. 

If you want additional general information on health research, we recommend checking out the following public resources: 

Lifestyle & Wellness
April 27, 2022

Stress Awareness Month 2022

6 minutes

Now is the perfect time to learn about stress and the impacts it can have on us physically and mentally. Being aware of stress, and what may be causing it, is a great first step to improving mental health.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and with everything that’s happened over the past few years, it’s no surprise that stress and mental health concerns are at an all-time high. 

That’s why now is the perfect time to learn about stress and the impacts it can have on us physically and mentally. Being aware of stress, and what may be causing it, is a great first step to improving mental health. Try to think about what stress means to you and how you can apply some of these tips to your everyday life. 

What are Stressors?

Stressors are anything that causes the mental or physical tension and strain we sometimes experience. Stressors are often life events or situations that bring about dramatic change. Despite the stigma around stress, small amounts of stress can actually be beneficial as it can be a daily motivating factor. On the other hand, an excess of stress can be detrimental not only to our physical health, but to our mental well-being too.

Work Stress

No matter your scope of involvement in the workforce, you’re bound to feel occupational stress at one point or another. Occupational stress can arise for a variety of different reasons, most commonly job insecurity, work overload, lack of leadership, conflicts, and general dissatisfaction. In today’s age, many people put their career before their personal lives, which can result in negative implications for their lives outside of work. Focusing on keeping a healthy work-life balance is key to feeling fulfilled and avoiding excessive stress in your career.

Financial Stress

We’ve all heard that “money can’t buy happiness”, but in reality, a less-than-ideal financial situation is more likely to cause stress in our lives. 
Some common financial issues that affect many of us include:

  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Debt
  • Poor spending habits
  • Financial emergencies

Addressing these stressors can help improve and fortify your financial health moving forward. Some common ways to help manage financial stress are:

  • Comprehensive Budgeting - Creating a timely budget can help with overspending, thus reducing stress due to monthly monetary concerns. While monthly budgeting may be the most common, taking things a step further and creating weekly or even daily budgets can be a great financial resource. The most important aspect of budgeting is adherence. The use of a budgeting app is a great way to hold yourself accountable.
  • Debt Consolidation - Some individuals who are burdened with debt and overwhelmed at the thought of how to pay it off, find it useful to consolidate by using a special loan for debt consolidation. This can help make repayment terms easier while providing immediate funds to pay off existing debts. For some, the benefits of consolidation, like lower interest rates and single installments each month, create much less of a headache when it comes time to pay.
  • Automate Your Savings - Setting up automatic deposits into a savings account can help ease the stress of remembering on your own and help to further your savings goals. Having a savings account can help you be better prepared for financial emergencies. Accounts with high interest and low or zero monthly fees are a great way to grow your savings and mitigate financial stress.

Although they may seem insignificant, a few minor changes to spending habits and the way we think about money can go a long way towards decreasing the stress and anxiety many of us feel on a regular basis.

Relationship Stress

Work and financial stress aside, there are a number of other factors that can have us feeling anxious or overwhelmed in life. Stress stemming from relationships is one of the most common. Whether it’s personal conflicts, challenges in our relationships, or the social anxiety that can come from social media use, it’s important to be aware of the stress we experience as a result of our relationships. 

Romantic, familial, work, and friend relationships are all prone to stressors that can negatively impact our connection to one another. Differences in communication styles, life aspirations and levels of attachment, along with unmet expectations have the ability to create unwanted divides. Without proper communication, it can be difficult for us to understand one another and support each other’s needs. 

In many situations, talking to one another is enough to alleviate stress. But in some cases, outside help in the form of therapy may be needed. 

Stress & Your Mental Health

Understanding stress and the impacts it has on our mental health is extremely important. Each of us handles stress differently. So it’s important to recognize what works for you and to reach out for help when you need it.

Stress & Your Physical Health

The physical effects of stress can include low energy, insomnia, a weakened immune system, overeating, a loss of libido, digestion problems, and memory defects. Chronic stress, which occurs from extended periods of intense stress, can have significantly adverse effects on health. Untreated chronic stress can result in raised blood pressure, fertility issues, respiratory issues and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Keeping stress levels low is a great way to promote a healthy mind and body.

How Stress Awareness Month Can Help

Stress awareness is important, not just in April, but all year long. Take time each month to check in with yourself mentally. Here are some best practices you may find useful in your stress reduction journey.

Exercise & Diet

One of the simplest changes you can make to better your mental wellness is to optimize your healthy eating and exercise habits. A clean, balanced diet has been shown to improve the ability to cope with stress. The same goes for exercise, which results in the body’s release of endorphins - natural chemicals that improve mood and mental state. While it may take some time to adjust, incorporating a healthy diet and small amounts of exercise can help improve your overall health while also reducing stress levels. Something as simple as using a workout app can help get you into the habit of exercising and eating healthy!

Take Time With Yourself

It’s okay to say no sometimes. Rather than concern yourself with the demands and expectations of others, try to take stock of your own desires and wants. Think about how you want to spend your time and energy compared to how you’re currently spending it. Taking a step back can show you just how much you have on your plate. Making self care a priority and practicing mindfulness in your personal life can be exceptionally valuable and reaffirm your sense of purpose.

Consider Your Support Options

It’s long overdue that we eradicate the stigma around seeking help when we’re not feeling ourselves. Seeking help is a great way to learn to cope with the stress and anxiety that we face every day. Although simply talking to anyone can help, it can be uncomfortable to discuss some feelings with family or friends. Talking to a professional removes this aspect altogether and can greatly improve your mental state.

Sadly, there’s no foolproof cure for stress. But we can all take steps to improve and maintain our mental health and actively monitor stressors. These small steps can make a huge impact on our day to day wellbeing.