Tag Archives: health

Quote

For the few (I hope) young people who think they have nothing to fear from COVID-19

I recommend you read this: ‘Feeling Like Death’: Inside a Houston Hospital Bracing for a Virus Peak – The New York Times.

Sure, your survival rates may be higher than someone much older than you. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t suffer intensively and be weakened for much longer in the future.

Quote

Your brain is dirty. There’s only one way to clean it

Sleep. At least according to this:  ‘Waves’ of fluid clear the brain of toxins during sleep, say researchers – Big Think.

When you sleep, your brain is designed to wash away toxic chemical buildup in your brain. If that toxic buildup is allowed to stick around (due to lack of sleep), bad things happen to your brain and you.

So clean your brain. Get some sleep. See the article to understand more of this.

Quote

How giving up coffee affects you


This may not be something you want to try during the pandemic, but if you ever thought about giving up coffee or any other form of caffeine, read this: This Is What Happens to Your Body During a Caffeine Detox.

I was impressed by how detailed the article was. Also how your nervous system changes over time. Remarkable!

Quote

Lighten your mental load by lifting a physical one: lift weights to lift depression

You may hate lifting weights, but if you struggle with depression, even from time to time, then you should consider it.

More details, here: Resistance Training May Help Relieve Depression (Time)

What are you looking at in terms of exercise? It says:

He recommends following the guidelines provided by the American College of Sports Medicine: doing strength training at least two days per week by performing eight to 12 repetitions of eight to 10 different strength-building exercises each time.

Sounds hard, but it isn’t. And if you need some exercise routes, go to Darebee and find some routines you need.

Quote

Why running may help your brain

Based on this older study (For Your Brain’s Sake, Keep Moving – The New York Times), it seems like running helps the brain grow better. It’s a good read. It may also explain, at least in part, why people’s brains are not doing so great lately with the lockdown due to the pandemic.

We rightly attribute running to helping our muscles and our cardiovascular system. It seems to help our nervous system as well. Try to get out and move if you can.

Quote

Sweden is acting as a control for social distancing

There will be much discussion about social distancing in the future, and much of that discussion will center on whether or not it has been worth it. One of the ways to better discuss this is to be aware of what Sweden has done. Here’s some key points from this piece Coronavirus: Is Sweden have second thoughts on lockdown? | The Independent:

Sweden, in contrast with most of Europe, has not enforced a lockdown on its citizens. In the balmy Easter weather, people sit and soak in the spring sunshine.

Despite the mounting concerns of experts both at home and abroad, Sweden continues what Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist, has called a “low-scale” approach. He insists this “is much more sustainable” in the long run.

But Sweden’s cases are rising. The country of some 10 million now has more than 10,000 cases and 887 deaths. Its total death toll is higher than that of all the other Nordic countries put together.

The government has said repeatedly that the main cornerstone of their strategy is to protect the elderly. Since the beginning of the crisis, they have been asked to stay home but despite these measures, the virus has spread to one-third of nursing homes in Stockholm, which has resulted in a spike in fatalities.

Prime minister Stefan Lofven recently admitted in an interview with daily Svenska Dagbladet that “Sweden has not succeeded in protecting it’s elderly”. Mr Lofven also warned citizens to prepare for possibly up to “thousands” of deaths.

In the long term Sweden may ultimately have less deaths and suffering because of their hands off approach. Right now, they are doing much worse than other countries practicing social distancing.

It has been very hard for people to social distance but they have because they believe it is worth it. Sweden is now acting as a control in this global experiment and may save many lives globally by showing that social distancing is the way to go. I hope they end the experiment soon.

Quote

On ventilators

I’m not a ventilator expert, but I am curious as to what it takes to get more to patients who are sick due to COVID-19. This will give you some answers as to what it takes to get more out there: Why U.S. hospitals don’t have enough ventilators – The Washington Post

Quote

Five ways to think about flattening the curve and other things related to COVID-19

Chances are you’ve seen this chart: it’s strongly related to the justification for all the dramatic changes that have been happening. Now there’s some counterarguments that it will not work: Squashing the curve? | plus.maths.org

First off, the chart is a model, and like all models, it makes assumptions. For COVID-19, the first  assumption it makes is that the outbreak will rise and then drop off. I am not sure this is true, and I don’t know if anyone else is certain either. There are good reasons to make this assumption, but certainty will come later.

Another big assumption this chart makes is that social distancing will bring the cases down so that there is enough health care capacity to handle it. I think social distancing will bring things down, but the health care capacity could still be overwhelmed.

Is social distancing useless then? I think that is the wrong question, and the wrong way of thinking about things. So how should you think about things?

First: think skeptically. I would say you should keep an open mind but be skeptical about information on the Internet. Things are changing all the time, and there is so much we don’t know. Be doubtful of anyone with strong certainty about this.

Second: think optimistically. My thinking was pessimistic before, but I think I am changing to being optimistic about how we deal with the disease. There are lots of positive signs out there and there are many people working to get more resources thrown at this.  It will make a difference.

Third: think maximally.  Continue to wash yourself with soap often. Continue to practice social / physical distance. Continue to do anything that a recognized authority says will help. More action is better than little or no action. Some action may be no better than eating chicken soup, but you don’t know. Just make sure you are following a recognized authority.

Fourth: think practically. You have to make tradeoffs. Some people have to travel outside to get to work or get groceries.  Try to minimize them. But don’t beat yourself up either. Do the best you can. Be cautious, but don’t panic.

Fifth: think and act healthy. The better you take care of your health, the better off you will be. There are other ways to get sick besides COVID-19 that could also land you in the healthcare system. That won’t help.

Quote

How to wash your hands better


The number one thing you can do to stay well is wash your hands often, and chances are you are doing it wrong by missing spots. For more on how to do it right, see: Map of Areas Most Often Missing During Handwashing

Quote

How should you exercise as you get older?

Like nutrition advice, exercise advice seems to change as often as clothing fashion changes. It can be hard to keep up, and easy to get skeptical that any advice is solid. However, if you want to keep up and are not skeptical, read this: How Smart Exercise Keeps You Younger for Longer.

My take, which is a variation of this, is simple: do a range of exercises, from cardio, to strength, to stretching to balancing. A fitness routine that includes all this is better than a fitness routine that just focuses on one or two areas. And any fitness routine is better than no fitness routine.

Quote

What is pink noise and why you might need it if you have trouble sleeping or relaxing

I was aware of white noise, but I didn’t realize there is a range of noises associated with colour:

Both pink and white noise are members of an entire color family of sound including black and brown noise. Sounds are assigned these colors based on how energy is distributed over several frequencies, according to Healthline.com. White noise, for example, is comprised of energy that is equally distributed across all audible frequencies. Brown noise, sometimes called red noise, consists of higher energies at lower frequencies—think thunder and deep, roaring sounds.

Pink noise, on the other hand, is a shade deeper than white noise. It’s similar to white noise in that it includes all audible frequencies; however, unlike white noise, energy is not distributed equally among them.

I have found that the rain sounds I listen to are more pink noise than white noise, and I prefer it for sleeping. If you are having trouble sleeping or relaxing, try listening to some pink noise.

For more on it, see: Pink Noise Sleep Benefits | Apartment Therapy

Quote

Is warning people about how much exercise it takes to work off a meal a good idea?

According to this, it is: ‘Four hours to walk off pizza calories’ warning works, experts say – BBC News. For example, if you were to buy a pizza or a chocolate bar, they argue that…

Appreciating it would take four hours to walk off the calories in a pizza or 22 minutes to run off a chocolate bar creates an awareness of the energy cost of food, they say.

That’s true. But it’s also not a great comparison. It’s pretty much a given that exercise is not a great way of losing weight, so most foods will come across as requiring a lot of exercise to work off the food. And it may be a lot more exercise than most people do. This will just end up shaming more people than it benefits.

I think a better approach would be to highlight what percentage of your recommended caloric allowance a selection of food is. I believe this would be much better. Foods have something similar already: they tell you what percentage of vitamins, fibre, etc. a selection of food provides for your diet. They could do the same thing with calories. Hey, on some days when you hadn’t had much to eat, something that provides you 50% of your daily calories may be fine.

No matter what, providing health guidance is never simple. But if I had to decide, I’d go with percentages.

Quote

How to make your brain healthier

Easy. Follow these five tips:  ‘I’m a neurologist, and these are the 5 things I do to keep my brain healthy’ | Well+Good

Some of them are easy and obvious, some not. And some are a 2 fer: exercise your body and you help your brain, too.

 

Quote

Even weekend exercisers get to live longer

Image of person running

Hard to believe, but according to this:

Working out only on the weekends or otherwise compressing your total physical activity into one or two prolonged runs or a single vigorous basketball or soccer game each week could lessen your risks of dying prematurely almost as effectively as more frequent, shorter workouts spread throughout the week, according to an interesting new study of the so-called weekend warrior phenomenon.

So you had a bad week and never hit the gym once. Don’t despair: sneak a weekend workout in and do yourself a favour.

Quote

On being grateful (and a good alternative to it)


I have read in many places that it is good to be grateful. To be thankful. Here is one such article: What Does It Mean to Be Grateful? – Mindful. If that works for you, then I recommend it.

I find a simpler and just as effective approach is to acknowledge when something is good. Wake up feeling rested? Say “This is good”. Enjoy your cup of coffee or tea or even just being up? Acknowledge that “This is nice”. As you go through your day, make an effort to consciously acknowledge all the good things big and small in your life. You’ll find many. And if you can’t, that’s ok too. Work to appreciate the good things in the bad. Rainy, overcast day? Good for flowers. Monday? A new week to do something good. Etc. If you struggle to think of any, talk to a friend or some other council.

You have lots of good things in your life. As you appreciate them, you will better appreciate your life in general. And that too is good.

Quote

How to Harness Your Anxiety


Easier said than done, I know. But worth addressing. And not impossible. Good luck! Anxiety may seem like a tiger, but it can also be a horse: you can get a grip on it, break it, and use it to your advantage even.

How to Harness Your Anxiety – The New York Times

Quote

The case against the Keto Diet

There are a million or so cookbooks for the Keto Diet. If you’ve been tempted to buy one and try it, read this first: What is the Keto Diet—And Does It Work? (Spoiler: Nope) | Chatelaine. 

Sounds like a poor idea. Judge for yourself.

Quote

Not all mindfulness is the same


If you think all mindfulness is the same, then read this: Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds.

Key quote:

a new study from the Max Planck Institute finds that three different types of meditation training are linked to changes in corresponding brain regions. The results, published in Science Advances, have a lot of relevance to schools, businesses and, of course, the general public.

Mindfulness can be helpful for many reasons. But how you pursue it can yield different results. Something to keep in…mind.

Quote

Moodnotes: an app to document your thoughts and moods


If you are using CBT to deal with your mood, consider this app:  Moodnotes: a  Thought Journal, Mood Diary, CBT App.

It helps you quickly capture your mood, but it also help you deal with distorted thinking that contributes to poor moods or worse.

I am cautious about recommending such apps, because I worry what the app developers will do with the data. I have looked at their privacy policy and it is easy to understand and it says they won’t keep specific data. So I am cautiously recommending it.

Ten good wellness links


Because we all could use some good advice as to how to be healthier and happier:

  1. The Health Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation: The Science Behind The Practice | SELF
  2. The Little Handbook for Getting Stuff Done : zen habits
  3. Give Up Comfort : zen habits
  4. When Negative Thoughts Keep You Down: How to Break the Addiction
  5. In a Hurry? Try Express Weight Training – The New York Times
  6. Two psychologists have a surprising theory on how to get motivated — Quartz at Work
  7. How to Cope with a Toxic and Estranged Family Relationship
  8. If You’re Too Busy For These 5 Things: Your Life Is More Off-Course Than You Think
  9. What I Learned Doing Push-Ups Every Day for a Month
  10. Surprisingly simple tips from 20 experts about how to lose weight and keep it off – Vox
Quote

Do you need 10,000 steps per day to be healthy?

According to this, no. What do you need? Like somewhere in the range of 4000-7500. Key quot:

… women who took 4,400 steps per day, on average, were about 40 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period of about four years compared with women who took 2,700 steps. The findings were published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Another surprise: The benefits of walking maxed out at about 7,500 steps. In other words, women who walked more than 7,500 steps per day saw no additional boost in longevity.

Walking is great exercise. But if you are unable to get in your 10,000 steps one day, don’t fret.

Quote

Seven good links for old people

For those of us who are feeling old, or simply are old.

      1. A Checklist Before Dying – The Billfold – a good checklist to review, sooner than later
      2. An Ode to Being Old – Outside – Pocket – on the virtues of being old
      3. This 65-Year-Old Dentist Left It All Behind to Work the Line at America’s Best New Restaurant | Bon Appétit – this story made me feel good about getting old. Maybe you will too after you read it.
      4. The Future of Aging Just Might Be in Margaritaville – The New York Times – who knows?
      5. Neuroscience Shows That 50-Year-Olds Can Have the Brains of 25-Year-Olds If They Do This | Inc.com – not just for 50 year olds.
      6. Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders – it’s true. But you can fight it.
      7. Am I ‘Old’? – The New York Times – Old is a state of mind to some degree. But at some point, no matter how good you feel, you are old.

     

Quote

Five links to help you with intermittent fasting

It’s not for everyone, and you can make a case that it is not a good way to be healthy or lose weight. But if you are interested in knowing more about it, here’s some good links I’ve found on this form of fasting.

  1. Intermittent Fasting for Beginners – The Complete Guide – Diet Doctor
  2. The Easier Way to Do Intermittent Fasting – Elemental
  3. Fast Diet facts and science – Business Insider
  4. Intermittent Fasting: What Is It, and Should I Try It? – GQ
  5. Intermittent Fasting: The Definitive Guide – The Mission – Medium

Bonus link, here

 

Quote

Why suicide is falling around the world, and how to bring it down more

This fact is promising and the article in the Economist is worth reading (you don’t need a subscription to read it.)

Key quote for me:

Nonetheless, beyond America’s gloomy trend is a more optimistic story: that at a global level, suicide is down by 29% since 2000 (see article). As a result, 2.8m lives have been saved in that time—three times as many as have been killed in battle. There is no one reason. It is happening at different rates among different groups in different places. But the decline is particularly notable among three sets of people.

via Why suicide is falling around the world, and how to bring it down more – Staying alive.

 

What people died of in the 18th century

Is not what you might think. Some are the same, such as the casualties list. But the diseases show their age. (Who dies of an itch?) Fascinating how people saw illness in the 18th century (not that long ago).

The chart is via Naomi Clifford | Bill of Mortality 1743. You can get more details on it at the link.

4 behaviors that may cut the risk of cancer by 30 percent

Everyone wants to lower their risk of cancer. This piece can help with this: 4 behaviors that may cut the risk of cancer by 30 percent – Vox. The main point of the piece was that:

… people who never smoked or smoked for only a few years and people who drank no or only small amounts of alcohol (one or fewer drinks per day for women and two or fewer for men). It also included people with a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, and people who exercised vigorously for at least 75 minutes per week or moderately for 150 minutes…

…were at a lower risk of getting cancer than people who did not do these things.

Smoking and drinking are easy for you to monitor. If you want to track your BMI and fitness level, consider getting a digital scale and a fitness tracker. I use the Fitbit Aria scale to track my BMI and my Apple Watch to monitor my exercise. Of course you can monitor those things just as well with a simple scale, a watch, a pencil and a notepad. Regardless of how you do it, I encourage you to take action in the New Year to lower your risk of cancer.

A good list of light therapy lamps for S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

The bad news: for people in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting colder and darker.

The good news: if you are one of those people who suffer from S.A.D., then this is an excellent list of lights that can help you deal with it: The Best Light Therapy Lamps for Seasonal Affective Disorder | Apartment Therapy

Better still, there is a wide range of price points and some of them, like this one, are relatively inexpensive.

Check out the list. If you know someone who struggles with this, then consider this an excellent gift idea.

How to work wellness into your work day

A good thing to consider as you start your week is: does your work day contribute to staying well, or does it do the opposite? One way to know is to compare you typical workday to something like this one: How To Schedule Wellness Into Your Workday And Still Get Stuff Done.

You don’t need to do all the things in that article, but if you do none of them, consider incorporating some of them into your work day. I believe you will see your attitude towards work improve and your workday will feel better.

Work / life balance is important. But having a work routine that is balanced in itself is a better way to enjoy your work and stay healthy, especially during the winter months.

Deal with social media better by having less opinions

Word cloud
Social media bombards us with opinions. Such bombardment tugs at us to form our own opinions, but this is is a trap that leads us to be unhappy. As this piece (Free Your Mind by Having Fewer Useless Opinions) argues:

The more opinions you have, the more time and energy you end up wasting to defend those opinions, and the more small amounts of stress you accrue. But the less you have, the more time and energy you have to focus on the deep opinions you have.

I think this is a great idea. There are lots of reasons not to have an opinion on things: you don’t have knowledge on a topic, you don’t have interest on a topic, you prefer to focus your thoughts on other topics. Much of popular culture can be dismissed this way, as can many political scandals.

So let others spend their time fretting and fussing over such things and spend your time focusing on the things you think matter.

Where Apple is going next

According to this source, Apple is going into the Health Care Industry: Apple Is Going After The Health Care Industry, Starting With Personal Health Data.

I think a more general statement is that Apple is going to be looking into expanding into services, be they health care, banking, or something else.  They’ve already been successful with Apple Pay.  I expect they can find niches in health care and other industries that they can easily fit into. Plus they can work with partners to deliver tools to people and health care providers that can save everyone in terms of health care costs.

I’m looking forward to Apple bring forth innovations in health care that results in lower costs and better care. I hope they can deliver.

For more on some current health features from Apple, go here.

There may be different forms of depression


Most people understand depression does exist and it is different and more severe than routine sadness or tiredness. Recent studies in depression indicate that there may be different categories of this mental illness. As this piece highlights, Brain Scans Show 4 Different Types of Depression | Mental Floss, there may not be just one medical profile for people with depression, but…

different medical profiles. Patients in subtypes 1 and 2 described feeling more fatigue, while people in subtypes 3 and 4 had trouble feeling pleasure.

One significant thing about this separation is that there are different treatments for different subtypes.

If you suffer from depression or know someone that does, or want to have a better understanding of the disease, I recommend that piece. That said, if you think you may be suffering from depression, always seek out professional help.

(Image is a link to the web site http://namila.org/)

Standing All Day Is Twice as Bad as Sitting for Your Heart | Runner’s World

Standing desk
Perhaps the hype around the standing desk is finally going to die. Here’s hoping. Based on this source,  Standing All Day Is Twice as Bad as Sitting for Your Heart | Runner’s World, standing all day is no good either. It mentions an interesting study….

… just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that finds jobs that require a lot of standing to be much worse for your health than jobs that require mostly sitting. The new study is a surprising counterweight to the ubiquitous “sitting is the new smoking” message

Like anything, standing or sitting at your job should be done in moderation. Ideally you would have a work station that allowed you to easily switch from sitting to standing (like the one in the image above from http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/). If you don’t have a set up like that, at least try and find opportunities to stand and sit throughout the day. Better still, get a walk or two in as well.

Be good to yourself and your body.

 

On ASA, Tylenol and Advil

Aspirin
If you take any of these meds then you really should read this: Should you take Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin for pain? Here’s what the evidence says. – Vox

I was surprised by what they said about Tylenol.  You might be surprised by what’s in here as well.

As for me, I have found when I have had a sore back, ASA was the best thing to relieve the pain.

Like any medicine, consult with your doctor or pharmacist before taking. You should especially consult with them if you are taking such medicine on a regular basis.

(Image from bayer.com)

Is ‘Blue Monday’ a thing


According to Snopes (snopes.com), it is not. As in, there is not a specific day that is the most depressing day of the year.

That said, if you read carefully, you can see why people accept this notion. January can be a difficult month for many reasons. You might feel that the entire month is filled with Blue Mondays. Take it easy on yourself, especially if you have challenging resolutions you are trying to complete.

Good luck. Stay healthy.

(Image, via The Sun, shows the so called formula for calculating Blue Monday)

Should you take St John’s wort for depression, and other advice on supplements

This is a wonderful interactive chart that shows you how worthwhile (or worthless) certain supplements are, based on evidence (as opposed to anecdote or worse): Snake Oil Supplements from Information is Beautiful.

If you are a fan of a certain supplement, you can use this chart to discover what it is good for. And if you have a certain health concern, you can use the chart to determine what may work and what’s a waste of money.

If you like this, check out more of the charts on the information is beautiful site. They have lots of good charts.

Veganish: for bacon loving vegan wannabes, a possible option

You may want to become a vegetarian or vegan but you may also be reluctant to give up eating things like bacon or fish. If you are experiencing this dilemma, then this question might appeal to you:

“The most effective question we can ask is not how can we increase the amount of vegetarians and vegans,” he says, “but rather, how can we reduce the amount of meat consumed?”

If this appeals to you, then I recommend this article: Love Bacon AND Animals? ‘Reducetarianism’ May Be For You. Still interested? Then I also recommend this book by Mark Bittman: VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good.

A mental health first aid check list you might find useful

If you know someone is physically injured, you apply First Aid to either repair the injury or limit it until you can get further help.

Likewise, I think of this list as a form of mental health first aid: Eponis | Sinope – Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up. It’s not meant to replace professional help, if you need that, but it may be the thing you need to get you through a rough patch (speaking from personal experience).

Some thoughts on ebola and the measles

There’s been so much written and spoken about ebola in the recent hysteria concerning it that I hesitate to add to the noise. Instead, what I want to do is highlight another disease: the measles. I want to highlight this one because it is a disease that there is little hysteria associated with it. If anything, people sometimes think it is a right of passage, like acne or puberty.

Now look at this simulation: How quickly Ebola spreads compared to other diseases – Washington Post.

The measles may not be as deadly as ebola, but as a disease it spreads faster and is deadlier than anything else, save ebola and smallpox. Despite that, more and more there are people not immunizing against it.  To me, that is stupid and irresponsible.

People who aren’t vaccinated or whose children are not vaccinated against the measles (and other diseases on that list with vaccines) should get vaccinated.