Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (

  • Are Headphones Bad for Your Hearing?

    How safe are headphones?How safe are headphones?Let's talk a little bit about how headphones came to be in the first place. Headphones were developed in 1910 by Nathaniel Baldwin in Utah. According to Smithsonian magazine, he sold the first pair of headphones to the U.S. Navy, who found them to be a vast improvement over the mechanism that Naval radio operators were using. Fast forward to just after World War II: John Koss, jazz musician and the founder of Koss Corp., developed the first headphones designed specifically for music, closely mimicking the sounds of a concert-filled hall and quickly attracting music-lovers.

    For about 30 years, headphones looked the same until Sony came up with little earphones that fit in your ear to accompany its Walkman. They didn't reach their peak of popularity until 2001 when Apple and Steve Jobs introduced the iPod and shipped each one with white earbuds - instantly recognizable in the ears of millions of Apple-using teens and adults today.

    Headphones have always been a danger to our hearing, if

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  • This is the Best Way to Train a Puppy

    Training a puppy doesn't have to be a drainTraining a puppy doesn't have to be a drainAdding a puppy to a household can be fun and hectic, especially if you already have a dog. Anyone taking the plunge - including the Obamas, who recently welcomed Sunny, a Portuguese water dog, to their pack - will benefit from some training. Dog trainer Sarah Wilson, author of "My Smart Puppy," offers tips for training a puppy and setting a course for many happy years together.

    Begin training on Day One
    Wilson describes puppies as "little learning sponges," so help them acclimate to bath time, car rides and daily walks as soon as possible. In addition to her own 9-year-old pooch, Wilson cares for a 10-week-old poodle-golden retriever mix named Button that already has learned the ropes. Button knows the "sit" and "down" command, she comes when called and doesn't mind having her nails done. Fun, short sessions keep Button engaged. Treats also help set a positive tone.

    "Her tail is wagging a mile a minute, but we are learning to communicate and forging a foundation," Wilson says.

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  • How the Government Shutdown Affects Animals

    The panda cam at the National Zoo has gone dark. Oh no!The panda cam at the National Zoo has gone dark. Oh no!The government shutdown doesn't only affect the American people, but also the nation's animals. Take a look at how the government's failure to pass a spending plan will change the daily routines of animals in zoos, parks and wildlife refuges.

    Cameras off
    The National Zoo's beloved panda cam - as well as its dozen other animal Web cameras, including one for the newly arrived Sumatran tiger cubs - has gone dark. The zoo is now closed to visitors, but the shutdown won't affect care of the animals. Veterinarians and all staff involved in the feeding and cleaning of animals are considered essential employees.

    Out of work
    Washington's budget impasse means 800,000 Americans won't be getting paid, but ivy-munching goats are also out of work. On Friday, Larry Cihanek removed his Nubian goats from the Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook, N.J., and from Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, N.Y., in anticipation of the park closings. The herds had been helping eradicate poison ivy from

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  • 4 Things Your Hair Says About Your Health

    What does your hair say about your health?What does your hair say about your health?Most of us view our hair as separate from the rest of our body, but like our nails, hair is an extension (pun intended) of our body that can give us clues as to our overall health. Herein, four hair signs that something may be amiss.

    If you once had thick, lustrous hair that turned fine and limp, first look to see what you've been doing to your hair lately. Have you been swimming a lot in chlorinated water? Did you dye your hair recently? These things, among others, can cause your hair to lose its luster. But limp, dry hair may also be a sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones, causing your metabolism to slow down. Other signs of hypothyroidism can be sudden weight gain, unexplained fatigue, and being cold all the time. If you suspect hypothyroidism to be the culprit, talk to your doctor about testing your thyroid levels. If you do have an underactive thyroid, you can often take medication to supplement your

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  • 5 High Fiber Foods You Should Be Eating

    Fruits and veggies are better for you than you thinkFruits and veggies are better for you than you thinkby Jenni Grover, MS RD LDN, Mother Nature Network

    Fiber helps feed beneficial gut bacteria. It speeds up digestion. It can change how other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed by the body. And some types of fiber absorb water in the digestive tract and help avoid constipation.

    In fact, eating enough fiber is absolutely crucial to maintaining a healthy digestive system. And maintaining a healthy digestive system is central to overall well-being.

    The average healthy male under the age of 50 is supposed to eat as much as 38 grams of fiber a day - the equivalent of 5 full portions of kidney beans - and for women, the figure is 25 grams.

    But there's more to think about than just how much fiber you are getting, namely how many different types. Because the term "dietary fiber" covers a wide range of different plant-based substances that your body needs to function healthily, I recommend to my clients that they eat a broad mix of different high fiber foods.

    Incorporating the following

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  • Cute Animals Launch 'Adorable Care Act'

    Chicks dig the Adorable Care ActChicks dig the Adorable Care ActThe Affordable Care Act has had its share of critics, but kittens, sloths and baby bunnies aren't among them.

    In fact, America's cutest critters are such fans of Obamacare that they launched their own social media campaign to promote it.

    The "Adorable Care Act," which has a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, recently gained national attention when the White House's official Twitter account retweeted one of its images.

    The photo of a mouse sitting on a tiny swing read, "I can rest easy knowing that lifetime caps on health coverage have been eliminated! Thanks, Adorable Care Act!"

    The Adorable Care Act social media campaign features several images of puppies, ponies and other baby animals alongside supportive messages of Obamacare, but the Obama administration insists it's not behind the precious political move.

    Also see: 15 cute animals that could kill you

    The White House issued a statement Thursday saying it's not responsible for the cute campaign, but that "the Adorable

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  • This Lost Dog was Found Thanks to Google Maps

    Sonya was found thanks to Google MapsSonya was found thanks to Google MapsWhen Los Angeles resident Patrick Pittenger went to Google Street View to show his girlfriend where he worked, he was surprised to see the stray dog he'd been feeding for the past month.

    He'd been tempted to adopt the dog he'd named Sonya. He often saw her sheltering beneath vehicles to escape the sun, and he worried about the toll the summer temperatures could take on her, but he had to consider his own dog who has immunity problems.

    But Pittenger saw Sonya's presence on Google Maps as a sign; he knew he had to rescue her.

    He contacted local animal rescue group Hope For Paws, which has become well-known in the area, thanks to its heartwarming rescue videos.

    Eldad Hagar, the group's co-founder, agreed to make the rescue if Pittenger could find a foster home for Sonya.

    Luckily, Pittenger knew just the person for the job - his mom. She was already fostering another dog and agreed to take Sonya until they could find her a forever home.

    A couple days later, Hagar rescued Sonya and

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  • When Teams Lose, Depressed Fans Reach for Junk Food

    Did your favorite sports team just lose?Did your favorite sports team just lose?Losing is hard to swallow for NFL fans - and they ease the pain of a loss by eating more junk food.

    Researchers Pierre Chandon and Yann Cornil examined data from Americans who took part in a nutrition study and found that those living in cities with an NFL team ate more the Monday after a loss. People ate 10 percent more calories and 16 percent more saturated fat, compared to their typical habits. In contrast, they ate slightly fewer calories and less saturated fat on the Monday after an NFL victory.

    There was no pigging out on Mondays among people who lived in cities without an NFL team, the researchers reported in a recent online issue of the journal Psychological Science.

    "Past research shows that when people are feeling down, they tend to consume comfort foods in order to feel better," says Cornil, a Ph.D. candidate at the graduate business school INSEAD in Singapore.

    Cornil says fans can take the team defeat as a "personal defeat" and threat to their self-esteem.

    Also see:

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  • One-eyed 'pirate' Kitten Becomes Internet Star

    Sir Stuffington dressed as a pirateSir Stuffington dressed as a pirateA one-eyed kitten with a disfigured jaw has become an Internet sensation since he was rescued from the streets of Oregon.

    Known as Sir Stuffington, the 6-week-old kitten arrived at Multnomah County Animal Services in Troutdale, Ore., on Sept. 13 along with his two brothers.

    The shelter determined that the kitten's missing eye and jaw disfigurement were the result of an unknown injury, but in addition to those ailments, Sir Stuffington also had a heart murmur, upper respiratory infection, flea anemia and the highly contagious calicivirus.

    After treating his severe flea infestation and giving him antibiotics, the shelter placed Sir Stuffington and his brothers with foster parent Blazer Scaffer.

    Inspired by the tiny kitten's rescue story, Scaffer decided to share it with the world and created a Facebook page for Sir Stuffington.

    She began posting photos and updates about his progress, but it wasn't until she posted a picture of him dressed as a pirate that his popularity really took

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  • Retired Military Dog Helps Marine Heal

    Dog at memorial serviceDog at memorial serviceA four-legged soldier and a Marine confined to a wheelchair are helping each other heal at McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Va.

    Yeager, a 7-year-old black Labrador, has completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Iraq and sniffed out more than 100 improvised explosive devices.

    The heroic dog saved countless lives and has been awarded two Purple Heart military medals, but in April 2012 his heart was broken when his handler, Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

    The explosion also injured Yeager. The dog took shrapnel to the nose and chest, and he lost part of an ear.

    Also see: 5 lesser-known facts about service dogs

    But the loss of his handler was the hardest for Yeager. At Tarwoe's memorial service, the dog lay down beside the Marine's cross and refused to leave.

    "They had to pull him away," Marine Sgt. David Tupper told WTVR. "Since he was also injured, it was kind of like a two-way street. He lost his handler, but was also going

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