Weekend reads: Why cannibalism wasn't about the calories

The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Rachel Schulze's reads

Handle anger with mindfulness. In his weekly meditation series, New York Times reporter David Gelles breaks down how to mindfully experience anger—an emotion that can lead us to do things we later regret, but which, if practiced mindfully, can help us know when our boundaries have been crossed or when our needs aren't being met. Gelles breaks it down into several steps: Start by recognizing and respecting your anger, then refocus your attention from what is spurring your anger to your physical body and how it is experiencing the emotion. After assessing how you can "skillfully respond to what is making you angry," Gelles urges readers to "commit to taking" that skillful action—be it a having difficult conversation or taking a nap.

Eating for your brain. People associate the term "diet" with weight loss, but Judith Graham reports for Kaiser Health News that "diets designed to boost brain health, targeted largely at older adults, are a new, noteworthy development in the field of nutrition." Two such diets—the MIND diet, from researchers in the United States, and the Canadian Brain Health Diet—draw on research that suggests certain nutrients help protect brain cells while combating inflammation and oxidation, Graham reports. 

Sam Bernstein's reads

How many calories are in a whole adult male body? About 143,000, according to a new study on cannibalism in Nature Scientific Reports. The new calorie-count calculation is important to researchers who want to understand why evidence of human cannibalism shows up in the archeological record. The new number suggests humans weren't very appealing prey compared to the calorie count and relative ease of hunting other animals. James Cole—an archaeologist at the University of Brighton who authored the study—said human cannibalism may have been opportunistic. "The motivation might have been more social in nature," he hypothesized. "It could be around something like territory defense—and interloper comes and you attack them and then—you eat them."

Mongolia's innovative approach to palliative care. Mongolia ranks 141 in gross national income per capita—but 28 in the Economist's 2015 Quality of Death Index. Over the past 10 years, Mongolia has launched a range of initiatives to dramatically improve palliative care, from increasing access to pain medication to covering home visits from doctors under the country's national insurance program. Doctors sometimes travel for hours to ger's—large tents that many people in the country call home—to help manage pain, support family members, and coordinate assistance with other government agencies. 


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