10 Game-Changing Stories of “˜11

Every day headlines fight for your attention amid twitter feeds and newspaper covers, and among the clutter, every once in awhile a little piece of news can stop you in your tracks, making you rethink what you’re eating, wearing and doing for yourself and your family.We sifted through the past year to find stories that are worth remembering as you think about the choices you’ll make in 2012.Watch out:Fake sugar may make you pack on the pounds.Drop the diet soda! Recent studies show that artificial sweeteners may lead you to eat more and gain more weight than real sugar. Why? When you taste sweet foods, your body prepares to burn calories, but when no calories come, your brain isn’t sure what to do. Over time, your brain’s natural link between eating and burning calories breaks down, throwing off your metabolism. You wind up eating more and burning fewer calories—no matter what you eat. Instead, let natural sweeteners (like fruit or honey) satisfy your sweet tooth and if you really need a sugar fix, opt for the real thing.QUIZ: Measure Your Daily Diet Drinking apple and grape juice may mean consuming arsenic and lead, too.On November 30th, a Consumer Reports investigation declared that there are unhealthy levels of arsenic and lead in apple and grape juice. Dr. Oz found arsenic in nearly a third of the apple juice samples he tested two months prior, sparking a conversation about the safety of long-term apple juice drinking in children. With the mounting evidence against apple juice, the Food and Drug Administration may enact guidelines and regulations to deem what is safe in the coming years.Your new toning shoes dont live up to their claims. Back in July, we busted toning shoes for not making you any more toned than your average sneaks. Then, on September 28th, the Federal Trade Commission officially put their foot down on the toning shoes claims. The only way they may help your fitness? By inspiring you to move more!QUIZ: How Much Fitness Are You Getting?Exposure to toxins could pack on the pounds.Environmental pollutants in things like plastics, pesticides and drinking water could interfere with metabolism and may even contribute to the rise in obesity and diabetes, researchers suggested earlier this year. The theory goes that if your gut microbes are exposed to certain chemicals, it may increase fat storage, trigger overeating or affect energy regulation. Of course, it likely takes high-level exposure to get to that point, but it’s worth detoxifying your environment to make sure you’re not affected. What’s in your drinking water? Are you using BPA-free plastic and cans?Amp it up:Adding coffee to your day could help your health.Wake up and smell the coffee: Aside from decreasing your chance of getting endometrial and skin cancer, drinking caffeinated coffee (the equivalent of about two Grandes at Starbucks) may lower your risk of depression, too! Take it to the workplace: One study suggests that caffeinated coffee helps women thrive during group tasks. Is there anything a little morning java can’t do?!Eating fruits and vegetables can change your heart disease risk, if it runs in your family.What you eat could actually lower your genetic heart disease and heart attack risk. In one study, a “prudent diet” high in raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and dairy products fared better than other diets when it came to decreasing heart disease risk. In fact, it reduced risk to the same level as someone who isn’t predisposed to the disease! Get creative ways to work these into every meal, stat.Women have mind blowing sex, in more ways than one. Yes, people are studying sex, intently! Thanks to an fMRI study tracking brain responses to physical touches, scientists found that women can experience pleasure in more ways than traditionally thought. It also turns out, what turns women on isn’t the same for all women. Sexperts may think this is old news, but the rest of us need to brush up on our sex ed!QUIZ: Are You Sexually Satisfied? Talk about it (at your next cocktail party):Your man may be using male birth control in the not-so-distant future. Think it’s only the woman’s responsibility to prevent pregnancies? As of late, there’s more than one form of male birth control in the works. Four, at the moment. Some work similarly to the Pill, using hormones to prevent pregnancy. The largest hurdles on the horizon for scientists: developing a method with relatively safe side effects and something that men will feasibly follow.That breakup you had? It was physically painful.New research backs up what you probably know: When you get burned by an ex, it hurts—literally. Brain activity scans show that the emotional pain of a breakup mirrors physical pain, like the kind you feel when you get burned by fire. Ouch.QUIZ: What’s Your Relationship Style?Real bodies on TV can make you feel worse.We know that airbrushed ads and the medias scrutiny on women can make self-esteem plummet. But new research suggests that TV shows that feature real women in an effort to promote positive body image actually have the opposite effect—they make us feel bad about our bodies, too. What gives?QUIZ: How’s Your Self-Esteem?

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