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Wanna Bee Healthy

A Health Blog Written By JMU Students for JMU Students


                The month of April is an important and hectic month for most of us. April brings our school year to a close and summer is almost in sight but while we’re slaving away on finals and dreaming of warmer days we may miss a greater cause for awareness that’s implanted in this month. April is national autism awareness month. April has been the designated month for autism awareness since the 70’s and it is seen as an opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. So give your brain a break for just a few minutes and take this opportunity to see what April really stands for!

According to the official Autism Speaks website, autism is a general term for a group of complex disorders of the brain characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive behavior. The term refers to autism disorders, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive development disorder and Asperger Syndrome. People suffering from autism may have difficulty in motor coordination, attention and communication but many excel in areas of visual skill, music and math. The previously mentioned article states that 1 in every 88 American children is diagnosed with autism every year and the count is only increasing. Don’t be fooled, people suffering from autism look just like you and I, you probably have even had class with at least 1 person living with the disorder. Although autism creates many challenges, those affected by the disorder are typically extremely intellectual and have above average academic abilities.

For many years the cause of autism was unknown. The Autism Speaks website states that research is now delivering answers but first and foremost, there is no one cause to autism disorders just like there is no one type of autism. There have long been rumors surrounding the cause of autism disorders. Among these myths are the assumption that the disorder is brought on by bad parenting and the assumption that the cause is bad prenatal care. Although those are popular beliefs, research has proven otherwise. Over the last five years scientists have found a number of rare gene mutations that are believed to be one of the main causes of autism disorders.

So, why is autism awareness important? Just a few days ago I would have asked myself the same thing. The Autism Speaks website provided me with a great answer. According to the website signs for autism usually present themselves between the ages of 2 and 3. If the disorder can be caught early on treatment can help the child to cope with the symptoms and lead a more normal, relaxed life. Broad awareness of the signs associated with autism can help to assure that children don’t go undiagnosed. It can also help those without autism to understand the struggles of those suffering from the disorder and bring attention to the need for new research.

JMU students are notorious for their social outreach and willingness to be the change. Supporting autism awareness is just another way we can show our big purple and gold heart. Supporting this great cause is simple; it won’t require any of your money or take away from your study time. A great way to show support and awareness for autism is through social media. Admit it, you’re going to check your Facebook or Twitter at least once in the next few weeks, why not post a status or link to raise autism awareness to your friends? If you want to take it a little further you can also purchase puzzle piece t-shirts from various sites online to show your support. Together we can help to raise awareness and support for those affected by autism. Autism speaks, JMU listens.

What are some ways JMU can strive to show support for this great cause?


Do you ever get uncomfortable at the dentist when asked how often you floss? Well, personally, I know I do. Do I lie and say everyday? Or fess up and tell them that I forget most of the time and only floss every now and then. Most of us tend to forget to make flossing part of our daily brushing routine. However, maybe we should start to work flossing into our everyday routines. Past research was found to believe that flossing was correlated with heart attacks. In an article from NPR’s Health Blog, it states that for over 100 years, doctors have believed that gum disease and heart disease occurred together. However, new research is claiming that there is no correlation. But this is not to say we should not continue to practice good dental health.
In a recent study from the American Heart Association journal  Circulation, a panel of  dentists and cardiologists have discovered that there is no evidence that poor oral hygiene can cause cardiovascular disease.  Previous research stated that this correlation exists, but the author of the study Peter Lockhart, the chair of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center, and his panel decided to take a closer look at the science.  They reviewed studies from the past 20 years and found that those studies never controlled for outside factors that could have contributed to both heart and gum disease.
Inflammation is a common link between cardiovascular and oral health, whether in the bacteria that irritates the gums or plaque in the arteries that blocks blood flow.  Medical experts have considered the correlation in the past because it was believed that chemical signals could cause inflammation in other areas of the body or that bacteria from the mouth could enter the bloodstream and cause plaque in the arteries. Essentially, research has proven that there is no causation between flossing and preventing heart disease, but there may be a correlation between the two .

However, it is not clear that these actually cause heart disease, but rather that the two diseases have the same outside risk factors that cause them individually. I had never heard of a connection between flossing and heart health. However, it is reassuring to know that there is no evidence showing a link between unhealthy gums and your heart, especially since I don’t floss nearly as often as I should!

While some college students may floss frequently, I can say that there are also some like me that do not do it often, or even at all.  Although this research disproved previous findings that there is no correlation between flossing and better heart health, this does not mean we should stop flossing or stop visiting the dentist. When we fail to floss we make ourselves vulnerable to other negative health impacts such as tooth decay, gum disease, and tarter build up.Continuing to take care of our teeth and gums is very important to our overall health and should not be overlooked. So keep those pearly whites clean and healthy, and keep flossing folks!
For tips on healthy flossing and the proper method of flossing, see the visual below:

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How manly do you like them?

Birth control pills are a popular form of contraception for college women, whether they are in a relationship or not. But did you know that this could be affecting the type of man you are attracted to? While women have much less testosterone in their systems than men – 10% less than men – what they do have helps to fuel sexual desire, fantasy and the ability to become naturally lubricated in response to arousal, according to CNN.

A recent study shows that women with lower testosterone levels – typically caused by the use of hormone-based oral contraceptives like the Pill – are more attracted to men who also have low testosterone levels (CNN). Further, experiments in a lab have found that women not using oral contraceptives tend to prefer men with high testosterone levels.


Psychologist S. Craig Roberts of the University of Stirling in Scotland and his collaborators distributed online surveys to more than 2,500 women from various countries. According to the results of this study, women who used hormonal contraceptives while choosing their partner were less attracted to males and less sexually satisfied during their relationship compared to those who did not use hormonal birth control. In addition, pill users were happier with their mate’s financial support and other nonsexual aspects of the relationship, however, and they were less likely to separate.

Sexual health expert Dr. Madeleine Castellanos cautions women to think carefully about their choice of contraceptive: “Some of these side effects are so serious that I now urge young women to consider just using condoms and leaving the birth control pills behind.”

But for those who don’t want to give up the Pill, there are women who find that triphasic birth control pills (different amounts of hormones every week) have less of an impact on their sex drive than monophasic pills (same amount of hormones each dose) according to an article from CNN. Examples of triphasic birth control bills include Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Tri-Levien, Tri-Norinyl and Triphasil (Livestrong).

On a personal note, we’re not sure if we agree with these studies. When we first read that The Pill could be affecting who we’re attracted to, we were in shock. We find it hard to believe that the results are true because it seems totally obscure that something could alter who we find physically attractive.

While these new findings are interesting and even questionable, the results are still there. The Pill COULD be altering who you’re attracted to depending on how much testosterone he has. We’re not encouraging you to go on or off birth control, we’re just stating the facts of this research. It’s your decision, but ALWAYS make sure you play it safe and consult with your doctor/medical provider about birth control options and any questions you might have..

What do you all think? Do you think that the Pill could/does alter who you’re attracted to? Let us know your opinion.

**The University Health Center (UHC) offers 3 packs of birth control pills for a price of $40. For more information, visit or call 540-568-6178 to schedule an appointment.

Today we’re going to continue with our thoughts from last week and talk about how we’ve stayed healthy emotionally, physically, and environmentally over the past four years.

You’ve seen it- those weeks in ECL or Carrier where you just can’t seem to find a seat…anywhere. We’re not just talking about finals week, there are many other times in the semester where you may feel stressed out to the max. This can take a serious toll on your emotional, physical, and mental health. I’m always sure to take a study break to socialize with friends, read a good book, or fit in a TV show or two. Since I’m a busy bee at JMU I’ve learned that time management has become not just a skill, but a major life saver. Time management skills come with time, learning from your mistakes teaches you the most! A main resource at JMU is the Varner House, or the Counseling & Student Development Center. You can make an appointment with a professional to talk about what’s bringing you down- and it’s free for all full time students! When you feel like you just can’t go on, you can also hit UREC to let some of that stress out. An article from the American Psychological Association notes that exercise releases the same chemical in the brain that some antidepressants create.

Become best friends with UREC. Try out as many classes as you can and find a variety that you like. Set a schedule for yourself with times you can hit the machines or weight room, and classes that you can attend weekly.Getting into that habit will help you to be in great shape for all the other dimensions of health – social, mental, and emotional.  I’m a loyal yoga fit, and namaste cycler myself, but find what you love by workin’ ii out! Also, there’s literally a whole world outside of JMU for you to play in and explore.It’s also so refreshing to leave JMU’s campus and immerse yourself in the amazing nature. Visit Purcell Park or take advantage of all the hiking trails in the Shenandoah National Park – the Valley is beautiful and you won’t be able to take those mountains for granted much longer.

Downtown Harrisonburg may be small – but it’s certainly mighty. Those few streets pack a variety of ethnic and healthy eateries. Visit the Farmers Market or the Friendly City Co-op to mingle with local farmers and pick up fresh veggies and fruits. Seriously you don’t want to miss it – and by buying this produce you are supporting the ‘Buy Fresh, Buy Local’ Movement that is so important to Harrisonburg’s economy. Local foods are also featured in unique venues like Earth and Tea Cafe, Blue Nile, Little Grill Collective and Bowl of Good. My personal favorite is the Little Grill for amazing and fresh menu items. Please, for the sake of creativity branch out and get something different than just a burger and fries. There’s a whole world of plant-based, veg friendly choices that you may love if you just give them a chance!

What’s next?
We all love JMU and the surrounding community that can offer us a wide variety of healthy options. But what do we do after we leave this beautiful place we’ve called home for four years? The college-to-work transition can be a difficult one- a study in the Journal of Career Development notes the main changes. First, a culture change can always be a shock, and a lack of experience can be intimidating to recent graduate employees. Lastly, there is an expectation of what the working world will be like, which is not always met.

These are challenges that can be worked on in the few months leading up to graduation- so if you’re an underclassman take a look at the transitions the study above suggests. I’ve brought endless copies of my resume and personal statements to professors I look up to, and they’ve always been more than happy to offer a second pair of eyes. Also, be sure to utilize the resources around you. The Career and Academic Planning office offers advice, workshops, and resume building- make an appointment today!

As we go into the real world, we’ll always be thinking of you JMU. You helped us set up for a healthy, successful, and rewarding future. We hope that you all will consider our advice and take advantage of what the top 10 healthiest college we call home has to offer!

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