Articles in section: 'Health and Living'

As Usual, It Will Be an Unusually Bad Allergy Season

An Unusually Bad Allergy Season, AgainI don’t know about you, but I never had allergies. That is, in my childhood and in my twenties, I didn’t know what hay fever and such things were, other than that they were things that afflicted certain other people, and I sure was glad not be one of them: they seemed to be sad human beings, turned into miserable sniveling wretches by pleasant weather and the blooming beauty of nature. It was sometime in my early thirties, with hindsight, that I became inexplicably taken with occasional strange bouts of sneezing that would not stop until they decided to no matter how much I blew my nose or yelled curses at the universe. But these were just annoying fits, I supposed. Then one beautiful spring day I was walking down the avenue, greatly admiring the trees on both sides in full bloom, the white and pink blossoms gorgeous and filled with delight in the radiant sunshine, when suddenly I began sneezing uncontrollably, and sniveling like a wretch, and then my eyes began watering, and then they started itching like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and the terrible truth abruptly dawned upon me: I’m allergic! [Read more →]

Brisk Walks “Boost Your Memory”

Brisk walks boost your memoryTime was that the average human being would go for a brisk walk pretty regularly, for the purpose of fetching water, or firewood, or pursuing a comely potential consort, or escaping from aggressive neighbors wielding spears, or retrieving the newspaper from the lawn. But the internet has changed all that. Now we can achieve all of those things by merely tapping our fingers. And our fingers have never been in finer shape. [Read more →]

Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella

Let a smile be your umbrellaResearchers have found a dramatic link between the presence of smiles in photos taken during childhood and young adulthood and the future happiness of the people in those photos (see WSJ article by Matthew Hertenstein). Most specifically, a study of hundreds of college yearbook photos found that those individuals who smiled least were about five times more likely to get divorced later in life versus those who smiled most. Further research indicated that even photos taken at the age of 10 illustrated a strong correlation between a full-faced smile and a future successful marriage, versus a flat or stoic look and the likelihood of experiencing divorce(s) instead. The better-smiling types also seem to live substantially longer.

It seems clear enough that the more research that is done, the more associations there will be between smiling in youthful photographs and successful outcomes in every area of life. This is very depressing for someone like me. Were one to go through my childhood photos, one would conclude that I should be divorced four or five times by now. As it happens, I have failed to get started on even my first divorce. I can only conclude that my wife’s far more cheerful and smiling nature as a child has somehow outweighed the grim misery with which her future husband was obviously burdened. So, therein lies a key lesson for the non-smilers: do not marry someone as sour-faced as yourself. [Read more →]

84-year-old patient in “vegetative” state responds to stimuli

After performing a series of recently-developed tests, doctors and scientists report that an 84-year-old man, presumed to be in a vegetative state since 2006, showed “significant” brain activity when shown family pictures and offered other stimuli. A statement from Ben Gurion University in Israel, whose scientists participated in the tests, is quoted here:

“[The patient], presumed to be in a vegetative state since 2006 due to brain haemorrhage, was scanned to assess the extent and quality of his brain processing using methods recently developed by Professor Monti and collaborators,” it said.

“Scientists showed [the patient] pictures of his family, made him listen to his son’s voice, and used tactile stimulation to assess to what extent his brain responded to external stimuli,” it said in a statement.

“To their surprise, significant brain activity was observed in each test in specific brain regions, indicating appropriate processing of these (stimuli).”

Although this sounds dramatic—and rightly so—it is not unprecedented. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 (and noted then in this space) found similar results in a number of patients who were also diagnosed as “vegetative.”

Ariel SharonWhy then are the results for this particular patient in the news today? It is because the patient’s name is Ariel Sharon, and he is a former prime minister of Israel. In 2010, several years after his medical crisis, a hospital manager involved with the care of Sharon was quoted as saying that “The part of the brain that keeps his body functioning, his vital organs, is intact, but beyond that there is nothing, just fluid.”

Yet, although he remains incapable of speaking or of making substantial communicative gestures, the results of these tests will make his family feel vindicated in believing that Ariel Sharon is in fact still “there,” despite what various medical professionals have maintained, and despite the voices of all those who have advocated disconnecting the feeding tube and “allowing” him to die (of starvation). Will he ever recover something like normal consciousness and the ability to communicate? No one can say. [Read more →]

Public Health Advisory

Yours truly usually chooses not to participate in flu epidemics, but it seems possible I may have been drafted into the one currently sweeping the country. At any rate I’ve been experiencing a variety of the associated symptoms for some days.

The most annoying is probably the persistent cough. Perhaps no medications have been purchased at such cost, for so long, and with such futility as those labeled as “cough suppressants.” They seem pretty good at producing a variety of effects, but rarely much in the way of cough suppression.

Most people would already know that honey is good for a cough, but some may not know that studies have shown (see NIH and Mayo Clinic) that simply imbibing a teaspoon or two of the pure stuff seems to work as well and better than common cough medicines, and I would attest to the truth of that. Especially at night, when you’re not going to be drinking anything else, swallowing some and letting it coat your throat and lay there seems to have definite soothing effect on the coughing demon. [Read more →]

A Bacon Sundae from Burger King

Are you worried that eating that high calorie lunch is going to leave you with no room for dessert? Fret no more: With the new Bacon Sundae from Burger King, you can satisfy cravings for sugar, fat and salt all in one go.

Bacon Sundae from Burger KingThe Bacon Sundae, being rolled out for a limited time to participating restaurants nationwide, includes vanilla ice-cream, chocolate fudge, caramel and crumbled bacon bits along with one honest-to-goodness-no-kidding crispy slice of bacon. [Read more →]

New York Nanny Bloomberg takes a really big gulp (but this battle was lost long ago)

The world seems agog at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest attempt to forcibly improve the health of his subjects. He is proposing—and seems very likely to be able to fully implement—a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz at restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and street carts (i.e.: pretty much anywhere other than standard grocery stores, where fortunately you’ll still be able to take home a 2-liter Pepsi and embrace death by high fructose corn syrup).

A move like this is tailor-made for lengthy expressions of outrage over the incremental loss of freedom in modern American society. And, you know, have at it, by all means—but as for me (who happens to be a citizen of New York City), this particular effort is only good for chuckles. Is reducing the size of the available drink actually going to keep those who want to drink more from doing so? Are such people too dumb to realize that they can just order two 16 oz drinks in order to get the more fully-thirst-quenching 32 oz quantity which they desire? No one is really being prevented from doing anything here. It’s merely a perfect example of government nannyism run amok, expending pointless effort and over-regulating private enterprise with the vain goal of altering gluttonous human nature. A good knee-slapper is what it is.

As to the broader question of the rise in power of the health fascists, I believe the decisive turn in that battle was fought and lost (or won, depending on your point of view) years ago, and it too happened in New York. [Read more →]

I Hear They’re Dying to Get in There

Archangel slays devilIt seems that I’ve traversed a line of some sort, and passed a milestone detectable only by elite marketing professionals. Age-wise, I am somewhere in my forties (I make a conscious effort not to keep precise records anymore), and I was as of this afternoon feeling reasonable healthy. I returned from a quick run around in the park with my dog, and opened the mailbox to find a single item addressed personally to me. [Read more →]

The scandal and tragedy of over-medicated kids

A psychologist named L. Alan Sroufe who was there in the beginning when conditions like “A.D.D.” were first characterized as problems, and who believed treatment with drugs like Ritalin was correct and helpful, pens an interesting column in the NY Times: Ritalin Gone Wrong: Children’s A.D.D. Drugs Don’t Work Long Term. Read it and weep. [Read more →]

Sitting, your health, and Donald Rumsfeld

There has been considerable evidence accumulated through various studies that sitting for many hours each day—as so many people do as a matter of course at work, not to mention in recreational screen-watching—is extremely hazardous to one’s heath, especially when it comes to heart disease. A new report today has a cardiologist stating that it is every bit as dangerous as smoking. [Read more →]

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