health

and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to

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The method to achieving what seemed like a superhuman feat was called the Dymaxion sleeping schedule: four naps of 30 minutes taken every six hours. […] Problems began after 36 hours. I was finding it hard staying awake at night. […]

I changed to an easier sleep schedule: the Everyman, where I slept for 3.5 hours at night and took three 20-minute naps in the day. […] After three weeks and a few more obstacles, I finally settled into the new schedule.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

how, hell in tunnels

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Previous studies reveal relationships between birth month and several diseases including atherothrombosis, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and myopia, leaving most diseases completely unexplored. […]

We found 55 diseases that were significantly dependent on birth month. […] Seasonally dependent early developmental mechanisms may play a role in increasing lifetime risk of disease. […]

Looking at all 10 (9 novel) cardiovascular conditions revealed that individuals born in the autumn (September–December) were protected against cardiovascular conditions while those born in the winter (January–March) and spring (April–June) were associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk (Figure 5). Interestingly, one study found that people born in the autumn (October–December) lived longer than those born in the spring (April–June).

{ Oxford University Press | Continue reading }

photo { Garry Winogrand, Los Angeles, 1980–1983 }

‘If youth were not ignorant and timid, civilization would be impossible.’ –Balzac

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In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

unrelated { The benefits of a herpes infection }

Flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress: daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek. Rhubarb tart with liberal fillings, rich fruit interior. Josie Powell that was.

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Physical activity has a multitude of health benefits — it reduces the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and possibly even cancer — but weight loss is not one of them.

A growing body of scientific evidence shows that exercise alone has almost no effect on weight loss, as two sports scientists and I described in a recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. For one, researchers who reviewed surveys of millions of American adults found that physical activity increased between 2001 and 2009, particularly in counties in Kentucky, Georgia and Florida. But the rise in exercise was matched by an increase in obesity in almost every county studied. There were even more striking results in a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that people who simply dieted experienced greater weight loss than those who combined diet and exercise. […]

It’s calorie intake that is really fueling the obesity epidemic. But it’s not just the number of calories we’re eating as how we’re getting them. The sugar calories are particularly bad. […] The World Health Organization now recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for the average adult. […]

The food and beverage industry is most guilty of perpetuating the false belief that the obesity epidemic is simply due to lack of exercise, spending billions to market nutritionally poor products as “sports drinks” while simultaneously promoting the benefits of physical activity. […]

None of this means you should turn in your gym membership card. Working out will make you healthier and less susceptible to disease. No matter what your size, even 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity that breaks you into a sweat five times per week will substantially improve your health and well-being. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, cycling, sex or all three. If it’s longevity you’re after, note that elite athletes in high-intensity sports don’t live any longer than top golfers.

But if weight loss is your goal, your diet is what really needs to change. An analysis by professor Simon Capewell at the University of Liverpool revealed that poor diet (for example, eating too much junk food without enough nuts, whole grains, fruit and vegetables) now contributes to more disease and death than smoking, alcohol and physical inactivity combined.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

“La vieillesse est un naufrage.” –Charles de Gaulle

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Ageing causes changes to the brain size, vasculature, and cognition. The brain shrinks with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. Protective factors that reduce cardiovascular risk, namely regular exercise, a healthy diet, and low to moderate alcohol intake, seem to aid the ageing brain as does increased cognitive effort in the form of education or occupational attainment. A healthy life both physically and mentally may be the best defence against the changes of an ageing brain. Additional measures to prevent cardiovascular disease may also be important. […]

It has been widely found that the volume of the brain and/or its weight declines with age at a rate of around 5% per decade after age 40 with the actual rate of decline possibly increasing with age particularly over age 70. […]

The most widely seen cognitive change associated with ageing is that of memory. Memory function can be broadly divided into four sections, episodic memory, semantic memory, procedural memory, and working memory.18 The first two of these are most important with regard to ageing. Episodic memory is defined as “a form of memory in which information is stored with ‘mental tags’, about where, when and how the information was picked up”. An example of an episodic memory would be a memory of your first day at school, the important meeting you attended last week, or the lesson where you learnt that Paris is the capital of France. Episodic memory performance is thought to decline from middle age onwards. This is particularly true for recall in normal ageing and less so for recognition. It is also a characteristic of the memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). […]

Semantic memory is defined as “memory for meanings”, for example, knowing that Paris is the capital of France, that 10 millimetres make up a centimetre, or that Mozart composed the Magic Flute. Semantic memory increases gradually from middle age to the young elderly but then declines in the very elderly.

{ Postgraduate Medical Journal | Continue reading | Thanks Tim}

Have you monbreamstone? No. Or Hellfeuersteyn? No. Or Van Diemen’s coral pearl? No.

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An analysis of drinking water sampled from three homes in Bradford County, Pa., revealed traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids, according to a study published on Monday.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses a longstanding question about potential risks to underground drinking water from the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The authors suggested a chain of events by which the drilling chemical ended up in a homeowner’s water supply. […]

The industry has long maintained that because fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers, the drilling chemicals that are injected to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there pose no risk. In this study, the researchers note that the contamination may have stemmed from a lack of integrity in the drill wells and not from the actual fracking process far below. The industry criticized the new study, saying that it provided no proof that the chemical came from a nearby well.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Beginning in the summer of 1922, Heidegger occupied a small, three-room cabin in the Black Forest Mountains of southern Germany

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Hairless female genitalia have an obvious association, and that is with pre-pubescent girls. Where there are hairless genitalia, surely the unwelcome suggestion of the childish body is never far away.

Women, more than men, prink and preen our bodies to bend to the rules of attraction – to look more youthful and even, you could argue, more childlike. Leg-shaving, lip-reddening, eyelash-darkening, hair-lightening – all these hint at the flawless childish state. But it is adult women who have sex and, surely, adult women to whom men want to make love.

Removing pubic hair is painful – agony, actually, according to those who have succumbed to waxing the area, which is the most efficient way to go about it. It’s painful when it grows back, and it’s expensive. It is also dangerous. Last year, Emily Gibson, director of the health centre at Western Washington University in the USA, launched an appeal to put a stop to the trend for hair removal because, she claimed, it increases the risk of infection and sexually transmitted diseases. “Pubic-hair removal,” she said, “naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles, leaving microscopic open wounds.” She also said it was not unusual to see patients with boils and abscesses on their genitals from shaving.

{ Independent | Continue reading }

oh my god you don’t have a wine boiler this is embarrassing

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This cure known as “Bald’s eye salve,” a mixture of onion, garlic, leek, wine, cow’s bile and cow’s stomach, actually works for wiping out methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA. MSRA is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, and can cause anything from skin infections to widespread infection and pneumonia. […] Because cow stomach was part of the MRSA remedy, there have been questions about whether corpse medicine may have actually had some effect on health and whether it actually cured anything.

Corpse medicine, or medical cannibalism, is the act of using parts of deceased humans for medicinal reasons. This persists today in such acts as organ transplant and blood transfusions. However, in the past, corpses were used for a wide variety of medical purposes and were thought to be able to cure anything from bleeding to aging to epilepsy. 

{ Bones Don’t Lie | Continue reading }

photos { Michael Massaia }

related { A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression }

‘The animal needing something knows how much it needs, the man does not.’ –Democritus

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On 27 July 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver (although no gun was ever found). There were no witnesses and the location where he shot himself is unclear.

Biographer David Sweetman writes that the bullet was deflected by a rib bone and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs—probably stopped by his spine. He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux, where he was attended by two physicians. However, without a surgeon present the bullet could not be removed. After tending to him as best they could, the two physicians left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe.

The following morning (Monday), Theo rushed to be with his brother as soon as he was notified, and found him in surprisingly good shape, but within hours Vincent began to fail due to an untreated infection caused by the wound. Van Gogh died in the evening, 29 hours after he supposedly shot himself. According to Theo, his brother’s last words were: “The sadness will last forever.”

Van Gogh’s 2011 biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith argue that van Gogh did not commit suicide but was shot accidentally by a boy he knew who had “a malfunctioning gun.”

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

In 1953, Nicolas de Staël’s depression led him to seek isolation in the south of France. He suffered from exhaustion, insomnia and depression. In the wake of a disappointing meeting with a disparaging art critic on March 16, 1955 he committed suicide. He leapt to his death from his eleventh story studio terrace, in Antibes. He was 41 years old.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

In the spring of 1968, Rothko was diagnosed with a mild aortic aneurysm. Ignoring doctor’s orders, Rothko continued to drink and smoke heavily, avoided exercise, and maintained an unhealthy diet.[…] Meanwhile, Rothko’s marriage had become increasingly troubled, and his poor health and impotence resulting from the aneurysm compounded his feeling of estrangement in the relationship. Rothko and his wife Mell separated on New Year’s Day 1969, and he moved into his studio.

On February 25, 1970, Oliver Steindecker, Rothko’s assistant, found the artist in his kitchen, lying dead on the floor in front of the sink, covered in blood. He had sliced his arms with a razor found lying at his side. The autopsy revealed that he had also overdosed on anti-depressants. He was sixty-six years old.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

art { Nicolas de Stael, Still Life with Hammer, 1954 | Mark Rothko, Untitled (Black on Grey), 1970 }

related { the way we glamorise the suicides of famous artists inhibits our understanding of mental illness }

And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more

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Furans are coffee’s dirty little secret. Although we can thank them for the pleasant aroma and delicious flavour of freshly brewed coffee, furans have been labelled as a possible human carcinogen (cause of cancer) in disguise by food safety agencies including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Furans enter our food chain through canned, bottled and jarred processed foods, but 85% of furan exposure in adults is from coffee consumption. All these products undergo ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment and furans are one of the carcinogenic compounds produced. The canned, bottled and jarred foods are sterilized this way to eradicate disease-causing micro-organisms and to increase their shelf-life. Coffee beans are heated to even higher temperatures during roasting. Furans are volatile and not very water-soluble so how you like your coffee, roasted, ground, stored and brewed, will determine how much furan is left in your cup of Joe. […]

Arisseto and colleagues (2011) […] found that furan content was higher in Robusta samples. […]

Altaki and colleagues (2011) found regular decaffeinated or caffeinated brews made with an espresso machine had higher furan content than a drip coffee maker, and instant coffee brews had relatively low levels whilst coffee capsules contained the most. […]

Leaving your cup of coffee to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before drinking will reduce furan amounts by 25% according to Guenther and colleagues (2010).

{ United Academics | Continue reading }

‘We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.’ –La Rochefoucauld

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Many people spontaneously use the word (or sound) “Um” in conversation, a phenomenon which has prompted a considerable volume of academic attention. A question arises though, can someone be induced to say “Um” by chemical means – say with the use of a powerful anaesthetic? Like, for example Ketamine? […]

[V]olunteers who were given “low doses” and “high doses” of Ketamine tended to use the words “um” and “uh” significantly more than those who received a placebo only.

{ Improbable | Continue reading }

‘Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease?’ –Nietzsche

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In the early 1900s, the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip conveyed how the spicy cheese dish Welsh rarebit leads to bizarre and disturbing dreams. Today, the perception that foods disturb dreaming persists. But apart from case studies, some exploratory surveys, and a few lab studies on how hunger affects dreaming, there is little empirical evidence addressing this topic.

The present study examines three aspects of the food/dreaming relationship. […] Reports of vivid dreams were associated with measures indicative of wellness: better sleep, a healthier diet, and longer times between meals (fasting).

{ Frontiers | Continue reading }

photo { Todd Papageorge, Studio 54, 1978–80 }

related { An ingredient in olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy ones }