It’s possible to be too clean? Surely not?

Monday, 23 November, 2015

Long showers, possibly several times a day, may feel as if they are at the forefront of a healthy, clean, lifestyle, but the reality sounds like another matter all together. Being “too clean” runs the risk of removing too much of the “good bacteria” that helps keep us in good health:

Overall obsessive washing “disrupts the normal flora which keep you healthy by competing with harmful organisms”, says Ruebush. “Operating your immune system in an environment of sterility is like a sensory deprivation for the brain. Eventually, it goes insane, thus the increased amount of allergy and autoimmunity associated with persons who try too hard to avoid all exposure to anything in their environment,” she says. A long shower every day may not be advisable, as it removes the “good bacteria” from our skin. But you should wash around your genitals and anywhere you sweat a lot. And you should change your underwear every day.

So now you know.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

I was actually quite ill until my sickness was revealed to be a hoax

Friday, 13 November, 2015

If you’re going to, for whatever reason, fake an illness, and then begin posting about it online, again for whatever reason, be sure your deception doesn’t come to the attention of Taryn Wright, a Chicago based Futures trader by day, and hoax hunter the rest of the time:

In the last three years, I’ve chronicled 17 different hoaxes on my blog, often exposing the identities of the people behind them. A few of the hoaxers were scammers trying to make money, but the majority manipulated people online just for the attention that comes when you have a sob story.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Treat every visit to the hospital emergency room as if it’s your last?

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015

Ashleigh Witt, a Melbourne based doctor, talks in frank terms about how emergency rooms at hospitals might go about assessing the best treatment, or care, options for critically ill patients, especially where the prognosis is not so hopeful. It’s thought provoking stuff, particularly when you place yourself in that category.

You see, as doctors, we have the ability to keep a person alive indefinitely. If our lungs fail, we can put a tube down your throat and have a machine breathe for you. If your kidneys fail, we can attach you to a machine that filters the toxins from your blood. We can even mimic the function of the heart. We can fill your veins with tubes and lines and attach you to life support. If the patient in front of me is 21, we usually do all of those things. If the patient in front of me is 101, I probably would do none of those things and focus on their comfort.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Beating substance addiction, a collective, not individual, effort?

Monday, 2 November, 2015

If the opposite of addiction is connection, then an addiction may arise as a result of a person’s surroundings, rather than on account of the particular substance they are abusing, this according to another way of looking at forms of dependency. To rally against addiction then, may require a fundamental change in the way we interact with others.

There are likely plenty of solutions to the problems in the world, and our own lives, it’s just that the answers may require far more thought and effort, than many are prepared to acknowledge.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Is our obsession with sleep keeping us from a good night’s sleep?

Thursday, 29 October, 2015

Sleep once used to be a simple matter. Conventional wisdom stated that we spent a third of our lives sleeping, which equated to about eight hours a day. That was pretty straightforward, and easy to follow, and left eight hours for work or study, and another eight for play. Or rather commuting, household and family duties, and then play, if you were lucky.

Then people began to think it about it more, because today sleep is all but trending. Was the norm really the norm, or should it be questioned? It was Robert Owen, a Welsh social reformer, who in 1817 devised the slogan “eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”, as part of a drive to bring about the introduction of an eight hour working day.

The politics of sleep, surely not?

Possibly though the notion was a little too socialist for some sensibilities, and required further examination. After all, late conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is said to have managed to get by on just four hours sleep a night, so maybe the rest of us should as well, meaning the work day could be extended to twelve hours duration instead? Then again, no.

It’s to hard to know when earnest evaluation of the eight hour sleep concept began, or thought to how much sleep – full stop – was required, given eight hours has only been the convention for a relatively short span of our history. Or why, for that matter. Sleep is vital for our health and well being, so it’s something people are interested in. Maybe that’s the reason.

Eight hours sleep sure, but not all at once

In his book, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published in 2005, Roger Ekirch, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, said that during medieval times, while people used to sleep for eight hours, it was not continuous. Typically sleep was broken into two four hour periods, and in-between, people would be active for up to two hours, before going back to bed.

I wonder how much thought people of the day gave to this segmented pattern of sleep. Was it a case of “eight hours labour, six hours recreation, four hours first rest, two hours recreation, four hours second rest”? I doubt it, but the idea of broken slumber has merit, and after a few hours sleep, people were more energised. A boon for intimacy, perhaps. Or creative pursuits even.

We can thank the light bulb, and the internet, for less sleep

While we once may have slept for eight hours, albeit with an intermission, there has been concern that the arrival of electricity, and the light bulb, began cutting into this time, leading the world to its apparent sleep derived state. Recent research carried out by Jerome Siegel, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, finds this may not quite be the case though.

Siegel studied the sleep habits of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies in Africa and Bolivia, and found that generally these people sleep for six and a half hours, and perhaps an hour more in winter. And nor did they retire at sunset, with some staying awake, by the light of the fire, for three and half hours afterwards. So much for artificial lighting disrupting our “eight hours” sleep.

So who do we look to for guidance in this matter?

There’s a lot to be learned from the people in the world who are going places, or in their time, did. I’m talking about the likes of Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, Richard Branson of Virgin, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Marissa Mayer the CEO of Yahoo!, US polymath Benjamin Franklin, TV host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, and Barack Obama.

Guidance you will find, but not consistency. According to this infograpic of sleep routines of the successful and influential, by Homearena, the amount of sleep per night can vary from five to eight hours. Does that mean light bulbs and the internet affect some of these people, but not others? I doubt it. Instead, I’m beginning to think it’s different strokes for different folks.

Go your own way

Forget the studies, the headlines, the trending topics on social media, because it seems to me that sleeping patterns are individual to each of us. If medieval segmented sleep works for you, go for it. Likewise eight hours straight. Or four hours. All things remaining equal, do what is right for you, if you can. It’s time to stop to talking about sleep, I think, so we can all get some sleep.

Read more posts on related topics

, , ,

One bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Hold the bacon. No, wait…

Wednesday, 28 October, 2015

Monday must have been worse than usual for bacon lovers, who would have woken to news that the World Health Organisation had seemingly declared that bacon, and other processed meats, such as sausages and hot dogs, to be cancer causing, or “probably carcinogenic”, to people.

A group of 22 scientists reviewed the evidence linking red meat and processed meat consumption to cancer, and concluded that eating processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

The announcement certainly caused a stir, and there were early suggestions that the fast food, and farming, industries could be turned on their heads, and that packets of bacon might soon have to bear health warning labels, possibly a little like those seen on cigarette packs.

It’s now apparent that these sentiments may have been somewhat overcooked, and do little more than show that bad news sells. The risks from the consumption of bacon, and other processed meats, are perhaps no where near as dire as some of the early reporting suggested:

The main thing the IARC established was a casual link between eating processed meat and certain types of cancer in humans, chiefly colorectal cancer. But the actual risk is quite modest – and far, far smaller than the cancer risks from smoking. Munching on the occasional bacon strip simply isn’t that dangerous.

So it comes down to moderation, a point Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s new chief scientist, also makes. Gorge yourself on bacon, or anything for that matter, and problems will strike sooner or later. And now that we’ve cleared up that matter, hopefully, let normal programming resume.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

It’s harder to lose weight since we came back to the future in 1985

Thursday, 15 October, 2015

This is incredible. Apparently it is harder to lose weight today, than it was several decades ago, even though diet and exercise regimens, in some cases, remain unchanged. So what gives? As it happens, a number of factors are contributing, some that we have a certain degree of influence over, others not so much, that include:

  • We’re sleeping less than we used to
  • We’re more stressed that we used to be
  • We’re consuming more prescription drugs than we used to
  • We’re eating more meat than previously
  • We’re partaking of more artificial sweeteners

These are not the only contributing factors, but it must be possible to exert some control over at least a couple of these items.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Don’t let the dust mites bite, so don’t make the bed

Wednesday, 14 October, 2015

I’ve never been one to encourage the making of beds in the morning, I just don’t go for this character building stuff in that regard, go running or something else instead, that’s character building. Back to making, or rather not making beds though, it appears that there are health benefits in leaving them unmade:

According to reports, making your bed every morning may be bad for your health. The reason is dust mites; they don’t just look nasty, they are nasty. In the average bed there’s as many as 1.5 million microscopic mites crawling around and feasting off the skin cells you shed while you sleep. In the morning, if you make your bed immediately, all of the skin cells, sweat, mites and their droppings – which can cause asthma and allergies – will be trapped underneath. However, if the bed is left unmade, the mites, dead skin, the sweat, all of it, will be exposed to fresh air and light.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

The end of syringe and needle injections? Here’s hoping…

Friday, 24 July, 2015

We may be about to see the end of vaccinations, and the like, being administered by syringe and needle. There is a now a small patch like object, made up of several hundred minute spikes, or needles, containing medicine, that painlessly dissolves into the skin. This I look forward to.

At first all the needles are sticking straight up, and by the end of the “injection”, the patch is completely smooth. The needles dissolve when they’re exposed to the water in your skin cells, and you’re vaccinated without any pain at all.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

It’s not what is the best sunscreen, but the best way to apply it

Tuesday, 21 July, 2015

As someone – fair skin red head – who wears sunscreen every day, to some extent, even with all this wintery… Antarctic vortex weather we’re experiencing, I still took time out to read this in-depth sunscreen study. And seriously now is the time, the warm, sunny, weather will be back before you know it.

I’m not familiar with the specific products reviewed, but some of the points made about the use of sunscreen bear mentioning, namely most of us probably aren’t applying it in the correct quantity, and, more should be applied after swimming, or sweating, even if the product label says this isn’t necessary.

It still washes off quite easily. Better to be safe than sorry. Better still, become semi-nocturnal like me, and not have to worry about being in the Sun at all.

After spending 25 hours on research and interviews, and many more wearing sunscreen on our bodies, we’ve determined that the best sunscreen for everyday use is the one you’ll use correctly. But most people are doing it wrong – which means you probably are, too.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,