Gabrielle Canon

Gabrielle Canon

Editorial Fellow

Gabrielle is a Renaissance scholar and graduate of USC, where she recently received a master's in Specialized Journalism. Her work has also appeared in LA Weekly, the Huffington Post, and the National Catholic Reporter. Connect with her on Twitter @GabrielleCanon or email gcanon[at]motherjones.com

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Important Advice From the CDC: Don't Poop in the Pool

| Thu May 14, 2015 5:04 PM EDT

On Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a very important message for anyone planning to swim this summer: Don't poop in the pool. Also, try not to be in a pool where someone else has pooped. At least, if you can avoid it, don't swim with your mouth open in a pool if you, or someone else, has pooped nearby.

These are just a few of the ways you can try to avoid getting norovirus—a nasty and highly contagious stomach virus that sometimes makes its way onto cruise ships—as you enjoy all sorts of aquatic activities that are not limited to pools. Lakes have high levels of poop-related-risks it seems, as the CDC announcement describes how some people in Oregon swam in a lake last year and ended up getting the virus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. The outbreak ended up sickening 70 people, some of whom didn't even swim in the lake (state health officials found, however, that swimmers were over twice as likely to get sick). 

Other important tips include not peeing in the water, not vomiting in the water, and maybe skipping swimming that day if there's a chance you might do any of those things.

This important message comes in honor of Healthy and Safe Swimming week and is mostly geared toward children (or parents of children) who are not only more at risk for norovirus but are also prime suspects of doing things in water that one shouldn't do. They also, apparently, are bad at swimming with their mouths closed. Per the CDC's press release:

"Children are prime targets for norovirus and other germs that can live in lakes and swimming pools because they’re so much more likely to get the water in their mouths," said Michael Beach, Ph.D, the CDC's associate director for healthy water. "Keeping germs out of the water in the first place is key to keeping everyone healthy and helping to keep the places we swim open all summer."

This Is Why You Crave Sugar When You're Stressed Out

| Thu Apr. 23, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

Here's something that won't come as a surprise to anyone who has ever devoured a pint of Rocky Road after a miserable day at work: Researchers at the University of California-Davis recently found that 80 percent of people report eating more sweets when they are stressed. Their new study, published in the the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, offers a possible explanation.

Sugar, the researchers found, can diminish physiological responses normally produced in the brain and body during stressful situations. With stress levels on the rise, this could explain why more people are reaching for sweets.

The three-phase study involved 19 women, ages 18 to 40, who spent three days on a low-sugar diet at the research facility. Saliva samples and MRIs were taken and stress was induced through timed math tests. After being discharged, over the course of 12 days, the women consumed sweetened drinks three times a day. Half had beverages sweetened with the artificial sweetener aspartame, while the rest had drinks sweetened with real sucrose. This phase was followed by an additional three-day stint at the facility during which MRIs and saliva samples were taken again.

After the 12-day period, the group that had sucrose-sweetened beverages showed higher activity in the left hippocampus (an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory that is sensitive to chronic stress) and significantly reduced levels of cortisol (the hormone released in response to stress) compared to those who had artificially sweetened beverages.

While this study was one of the first to show that sugar can reduce stress responses in humans, it followed up on previous studies that found similar conclusions in animal subjects. The researchers noted the need for future research—especially on whether long-term sugar consumption has the same effect.

"The concern is psychological or emotional stress could trigger the habitual overconsumption of sugar," lead author Kevin D. Laugero told Science Daily. Not exactly great news for those of us who enjoy eating our feelings.

17 Everyday Items That Use a Whole Lot of Water

| Tue Apr. 21, 2015 6:45 AM EDT

If you live in the West, particularly in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered a 25 percent mandatory reduction in household water use, you may have started taking shorter showers. Perhaps a spiky array of cacti now dwells where your lawn used to be. Maybe you've even stopped drinking almond milk.

But even those of us who don't live in California are thinking more about how much water our lifestyles require—after all, much of the country is now in drought, and climate models project that dry spells will become more and more common all over the world in the years to come. A few years back, we crunched the numbers on the water footprints of a few common items:

 

Icon credits (via Noun Project): Microchip—Rabee Balakrishnan; Apple—Ava Rowell; Beer—Fabian Sanabria; Wine—Philippe Berthelon Bravo; Can—Blaise Sewell; Coffee—Okan Benn; OJ—Blaise Sewell; Diaper—Isabel Foo; Chicken—Ana Maria Lora Macias; Cheese—Elliott Snyder; Hamburger—Pei Wen (Winnie) Kwang; T-shirt—Sergi Delgado; Paper—Evan Udelsman; Beef—Jon Testa; Jeans—Pranav Mote;

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