health

Gargling to prevent colds – Just an old Japanese wives’ tale?

When I was a college student doing homestay in Tokyo, I mentioned to my host mother one day that some if my classmates had been passing a cold around, and I hoped I wouldn’t catch it too. “Oh, you should gargle,” she told me.

I was a little skeptic, and not just because she had previously told me that there was a pressure point in my ring finger that would make me feel warm during the winter, which she demonstrated by squeezing it with all her might (it worked in the sense that pain produces a sensation similar to heat). I’d never heard of the theory that just gargling, even with ordinary tap water, would keep you from catching a cold, but it turns out this is a pretty common belief in Japan, which some researchers say is scientifically sound.

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Is cola-flavored soy milk the answer to our prayers? We find out

A while back, food conglomerate Kibun and soy giant Kikkoman announced a couple new flavors for their popular Tonyu Inryo line of soy milk. In and of itself, this wasn’t too surprising, as new varieties are regularly swapped in and out of the Tonyu Inryo lineup.

One of the new flavors caught the eye of our junk food loving team, though: healthy cola. Ordinarily, the words “healthy” and “cola” are in such direct opposition that we expected the package to be contain a paradox-induced black hole, or to at least be completely empty inside. To our surprise, though, Kibun was indeed able to develop its healthy cola soy milk, and we wasted no time in trying it.

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How to get free healthcare in Japan without insurance

Brace yourselves, Republicans and Libertarians: it turns out Japan’s social safety net provides free healthcare to people that need medical attention but have no money or insurance. It’s like Obamacare’s angry, ‘roided-up samurai cousin.

That’s because there’s a somewhat vaguely-worded provision in Japanese law that states the government is obligated to provide care for those with “troubled livelihoods,” at low or no cost, regardless of insurance coverage. “Troubled livelihood” is kind of a broad definition, which ensures that those without the means to pay for medical treatment – even if they aren’t necessarily poor, homeless or unable to work - can still see a doctor.

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Seven reasons to eat sushi (other than because it tastes great)

Sushi already has a lot going for it. It’s tasty, one of the quickest, most easily accessible contact points for Japanese culture, and with its extensive use of raw fish, a boon for those who can’t cook anything without burning it.

Even better, almost every ingredient that goes into or is traditionally eaten alongside sushi is bursting with health benefits, right down to the cup of green tea of green tea that generally caps off the meal.

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Health Tip: Drinking live pig’s blood may lead to worms in your brain

I’m sure we can all agree that at the end of a long workday there’s nothing better than enjoying a nice glass of pig’s blood. I don’t mean that bottled crap you buy in the supermarket, chocked full of additives and high fructose corn syrup. I’m talking about the real-deal piping hot blood straight from a live pig.

However, before you go ahead and take a nice drink, take heed. As one young man from Guangxi, China learned, drinking too much live pig’s blood (i.e. any) can actually be bad for your health.

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Cover up out there! 21 dead in Japan from virus spread by mites

In general, Japan has very few animals that’ll kill you, as most local wildlife falls outside the three danger areas that trained zoologists refer to technically as poisonous, gigantic, and fangy.

However, you only need to kill a man once to show him you mean business. A check mark in any one of those boxes is cause for concern, which is why authorities in Japan are warning people about deadly poisonous mites that’ve been found in the country.

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Seoul anti-suicide initiative backfires, deaths increase by more than six times

Like many of the world’s largest and oldest metropolises, Seoul owes part of its development to its location on the banks of a river. In the case of the Korean capital, being situated along the Han River contributed to the flow of goods and resources necessary for a large community centuries before the development of trains or automobiles.

The Han River still flows through Seoul today, where the body of water is crossed by the Mapo Bridge. But while the bridge was built with the purpose of serving as a transit artery, it’s also been darkly co-opted by those looking for a place to end their own lives, and the site sees more suicides than almost any other in Korea. Unfortunately, a public service campaign looking to reverse the tragic trend has had the opposite effect, with suicides at Mapo Bridge increasing more than sixfold since the campaign began.

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Chinese classroom introduces roller coaster-style desks, hopes to protect kids’ eyesight

What’s this strange contraption? Perhaps a headrest, or some kind of anti-cheating device? Maybe it’s something for the kids to hold on to when English grammar classes get too exciting to bear!?

Actually, this classroom has been fitted with these specially-designed desks as a measure of preserving their kids’ precious eyesight.

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? Part 2: Men’s edition

We recently ran down a number of reasons why so many people in Japan will strap on a surgical mask even if they aren’t feeling sick. One of the most common reasons is that for women, slipping on a mask is less of a hassle then carefully applying makeup, but the cultural phenomena of perfectly healthy Japanese wearing masks isn’t strictly a female thing.

Today, we present the testosterone-packed follow-up to our previous report, as we explore why healthy Japanese men wear masks.

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Why do Japanese people wear surgical masks? It’s not always for health reasons

Like kimono and T-shirts with English writing (sometimes vulgar, sometimes comical, always unintelligible), the number of people you’ll see in Japan wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Sure, Japan is a hard working society, and the spread of productivity-sapping sickness is always a concern at schools and workplaces, but that doesn’t seem like reason enough for the proliferation of facial coverings that sometimes has Tokyo offices looking more like an operating room.

Health concerns are only part of the equation, though, as recent studies have revealed multiple reasons people in Japan wear masks that have nothing to do with hygiene.

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Young man collapses a lung from yawning too hard, and so can you

It’s a Monday and you might find yourself struggling to get back into work mode from the weekend. Sitting in your workspace you feel the urge to stretch your mouth into a satisfying yawn.

If you happen to be a tall thin man in young adulthood, STOP! That innocent little stretch might turn into something much more painful and kind of gross. Such and incident happened to a 26-year-old Chinese man last month.

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Manga legend Shigeru Mizuki’s longevity seems to come from lots of burgers and desserts

Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan’s most loved comic artists, having created the manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro in 1959. Although the serial ended after a 10-year run, the light-hearted story about the traditional Japanese spirits called yokai still has a strong following today, thanks to multiple animated and live-action adaptations premiering as recently as 2008.

Mizuki isn’t resting on his laurels either, despite turning 92 next month. He started a new manga series just last December, and the energetic nonagenarian has recently released a book cataloguing the eating habits that have resulted in his long life. So what does his diet consist of? A surprisingly large amount of junk food.

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Study shows broccoli sprouts may regrow hair, and not just on Chia Heads

Whoever coined the phrase “Vanity, thy name is woman,” clearly was not a balding man. From implants to Rogaine, men (and some women) with thinning hair are willing to pay a lot of money to keep their cranium covered. A recent study suggest they might be better off making a trip to the greengrocer to return their locks to lusciousness.

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“Diet with Your Girlfriend” app lets you do the exact opposite of that

So Japanese dudes dating digital anime girls has been a big thing in the western media lately because “OMG weird Japan!!,” but if there’s one thing the news stories get right it’s that there are a whole lot of “digital girlfriend” apps available for a very specific type of person.

One such app hopes to encourage users to slim down by dieting with their digital girlfriend – the idea being that the more you diet, the more she diets, and the slimmer and more attractive she gets. Never mind that some people don’t actually adhere to those cliched classical standards of beauty and might actually prefer a girlfriend that isn’t horrifically skinny (and may, themselves, not actually want to be horrifically skinny); the developers made a far more glaring error in coding the game to allow players to do the exact opposite of what the game’s title suggests.

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Toast with fermented soybeans and honey may not be good-looking, but it is good eating

There are plenty of Japanese foods that meet little to no resistance on the Western palate. Soba noodles and beef bowls tend to go down easily for new arrivals, and while the weirdness factor may take some time to get over, not too many people have complaints about the flavor of things like raw fish and cod roe.

There is, however, one hurdle in Japanese gastronomic assimilation that is so high that some people never clear it: natto, or fermented soybeans. Recently, we took on the notoriously challenging (and smelly) natto with the help of a powerful ally, honey.

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Tottori University researchers discover a simple way to possibly cure all forms of cancer

Alright, it doesn’t look so simple from the above image, but on 25 January, Tottori University announced that researchers have found a method to successfully transform a cancerous tumor into non-threatening tissue. Although the research that went into it is incredibly complicated, the result is a single molecule that may be able to universally reverse cancerous cells in a relatively brief amount of time.

The announcement doesn’t hold back its enthusiasm either, proclaiming that from this discovery “the dream of the eradication of cancer is at hand.”

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9 things we know about Nintendo’s plans for the near future following today’s conference

It’s been a tough couple of years for Nintendo. While the 3DS continues to sell well and gamers the world over salivate like Pavlov’s dog every time they are drip-fed another snippet of information about the forthcoming Smash Bros. games, Wii U sales are dismal, and even Super Mario 3D World, which critics judged to be one of the greatest Mario outings of all time, was met with comparatively little fanfare from consumers.

Today, Nintendo’s company president Satoru Iwata made a number of announcements, hinting at new hardware that would focus on “health and welfare”, tapping into mobile gaming, giving solid launch dates for upcoming titles, and announcing the decision to bring Nintendo DS games to the Wii U. Here’s what we know so far, in one handy list!

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Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

I was on the subway one morning during one of my very first trips to Tokyo when I spotted two unaccompanied elementary school-age girls riding through downtown together. How could two kids who weren’t old enough to drink even a sip of coffee without freaking out be traversing the country’s densest urban center all by themselves?

In Japan, though, very young kids commuting to school without any kind of adult supervision isn’t anything unusual, and as such no one paid the two unaccompanied tykes any mind.

Likewise, sometimes things that seem like the most natural way of raising kids to parents overseas might seem totally bizarre to Japanese adults, as this collection of reactions to parenting around the world by Japanese experts and expats shows.

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Super limber Chinese lady shows world insane stretching routine【video】

Have you made that New Year’s resolution to be healthier but just can’t seem to make the commitment to work out? Is the only flexible thing in your life the elastic band around your sweatpants after you gorge yourself on cake? We think we can motivate you into a more active lifestyle by seeing a Chinese lady in her 50s doing her morning stretching routine that will be sure to shame you into eating healthier and exercising more!

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Beauty is pain: A journey through one South Korean woman’s plastic surgery 【Photos】

If you have been paying attention to South Korean pop culture, then you are probably already aware of the huge popularity of plastic surgery as evident by some startling before-and-after images. Plastic surgery is fast becoming as Korean as kimchi, soju or Samsung as one in five women there admit to going under the knife in the name of beauty.

But while seeing before-and-after images demonstrate a surgeon’s skill, you may not be seeing the long and probably very painful process that goes on in between the two pictures. A Korean woman recently posted the many stages of her recovery after plastic surgery, which provides a much-needed context about the lengths people go for the sake of beauty. Click below to see how she looked while her body healed from the procedure!

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