Julia Belluz writing for Vox:
In two new papers published in the BMJ, the more ultraprocessed — or industrially manufactured — foods a person ate, the more likely they were to get sick and even die. In one study, they were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems. The other linked an ultraprocessed diet to a higher risk of death from all causes.
Those studies followed a first-of-its-kind randomized controlled trial, out of the National Institutes of Health: Researchers found people following an ultraprocessed diet ate about 500 more calories per day than those consuming minimally processed, whole foods.
Sure, potato chips, cookies, and hot dogs are chock-full of salt, sugar, fat, and calories. They can cause us to gain weight and put us at a higher risk of diseases such as diabetes and obesity. But why? What if there’s something unique about ultraprocessed foods that primes us to overeat and leads to bad health?
Ultraprocessed foods are created in factories. They’re pumped full of chemicals and other additives for color, flavor, texture, and shelf life. This processing generally increases the flavor and caloric density of the foods, while stripping away the fiber, vitamins, and nutrients. So these foods are distinct from whole foods (like apples and cucumbers) and processed foods (like vegetables pickled in brine, or canned fish in oil) that rely on only salt, sugar, and oil — rather than a range of complicated additives — to preserve them or make them tastier.
Stephen Harridge & Norman Lazarus writing for the BBC:
The greater health of older exercisers compared to their sedentary counterparts can lead people to believe physical activity can reverse or slow down the ageing process.
But the reality is that these active older people are exactly as they should be.
In our distant past we were hunter-gatherers, and our bodies are designed to be physically active.
So, if an active 80-year-old has a similar physiology to an inactive 50-year-old, it is the younger person who appears older than they should be, not the other way around.
Stephen Rodrick writing for Rolling Stone:
The Centers for Disease Control recorded 47,173 suicides in 2017, and there were an estimated 1.4 million total attempts. Many of society’s plagues strike heavier at women and minorities, but suicide in America is dominated by white men, who account for 70 percent of all cases. Middle-aged men walk the point. Men in the United States average 22 suicides per 100,000 people, with those ages 45 to 64 representing the fastest-growing group, up from 20.8 per 100,000 in 1999 to 30.1 in 2017. The states with the highest rates are Montana, with 28.9 per 100,000 people; Alaska, at 27 per 100,000; and Wyoming, at 26.9 per 100,000 — all roughly double the national rate. New Mexico, Idaho and Utah round out the top six states. All but Alaska fall in the Mountain time zone.
Last summer, I began a 2,000-mile drive through the American West, a place of endless mythology and one unalterable fact: The region has become a self-immolation center for middle-aged American men. The image of the Western man and his bootstraps ethos is still there, but the cliché has a dark turn — when they can no longer help themselves, they end themselves. I found men who sought help and were placed on a 72-hour hold in a hospital ward, and say they were sent home at the end of their stay without any help, collapsing back into the fetal position — the only thing accomplished was everyone in the small town now knew they were ill. I found men on both sides of the Trump divide: One whose anger toward his abusive parents was exacerbated by hours in his basement watching Fox News and Trump while drinking vodka; the other was a Buddhist mortician whose cries for help were met by scorn in a cowboy county that went 70 percent for Trump.
You already know you should eat fruits and vegetables for the nutrients they provide the body. But a new British study has again shown that the health benefits of produce don’t end there. Researchers at the University of Leeds have shown that eating fruits and vegetables can also improve your mood and mental well-being.
Researchers found that people whose diets included more fruits and vegetables reported being happier. Those who ate even just one extra portion of produce a day reported better life satisfaction than those who ate less. Researchers estimated that the extra portion could have the same effect on your mood as walking an additional 10 continuous minutes or more eight days a month.
Previous research conducted in Australia and New Zealand, and published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, showed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables makes people feel happier.
The latest study, entitled Lettuce Be Happy was published in Social Science and Medicine. It is based on a larger group of people who were followed for a longer period of time.
Chemical Structure of Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate, for example, is also illegal in Canada, China, the European Union, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere because it causes cancer. In the United States it has been legal to add to food since it was first patented for use in baking bread in 1914.
Troy Farah writing for The Guardian:
But despite petitions from several advocacy groups – some dating back decades – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers these to be Gras or “generally recognized as safe” to eat, though plenty of experts disagree.
“The system for ensuring that ingredients added to food are safe is broken,” said Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist at the consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Lefferts, who specializes in food additives, said that once a substance is in the food supply, the FDA rarely takes further action, even when there is evidence that it isn’t safe.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA to ban potassium bromate two decades ago due to cancer concerns, but the FDA’s response, according to a letter from the agency, was that it couldn’t examine the issue due to “limited availability of resources and other agency priorities.”
Ephrat Livni writing for Quartz:
Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health analyzed data from nearly 7,000 individuals over 50 years old and concluded that “stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality.” They believe that “purposeful living may have health benefits.”
The new research relied on data from individuals who enrolled in the American Health and Retirement Study (HRS)—longterm research that looks at a cross-section of subjects over time. The original research measured participants’ psychological well-being in 2006, their physical health and, subsequently, causes of death by 2010. The new analysis found that those whose psychological questionnaires reflected a lack of purpose were more likely to die than those who had “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals.”
In fact, people without a purpose were more than twice as likely to die than those with an aim and goals. Purpose proved to be more indicative of longevity than gender, race, or education levels, and more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking, or exercising regularly.
Aaron Reuben, writing in Mother Jones:
Of all the new research, three studies in particular paint a stark picture of the extent to which the quality of our air can determine whether we will age with our minds intact. In one from 2018, researchers followed 130,000 older adults living in London for several years. Those exposed to higher levels of air pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter released by fossil fuel combustion, were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease—the most common kind of dementia—than their otherwise demographically matched peers. In total, Londoners exposed to the highest levels of air pollution were about one and a half times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s across the study period than their neighbors exposed to the lowest levels—a replication of previous findings from Taiwan, where air pollution levels are much higher.
Another, a 2017 study published in the Lancet, followed all adults living in Ontario (roughly 6 and a half million people) for over a decade and found that those who lived closer to major high-traffic roads were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease across the study period regardless of their health at baseline or socioeconomic status. Both of these studies estimated that around 6 to 7 percent of all dementia cases in their samples could be attributed to air pollution exposures.
Those studies from Canada and the UK are certainly intriguing. But the most compelling, and least reported on, study comes from the United States. It was also, incidentally, inspired by our previous reporting.
The disease of loneliness is spreading. And it’s getting worse as we get more attached to technologies that isolate us from others, and away from ‘the real world.’
But the Danish have come up with a simple and elegant way to cope with loneliness. The program is call Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish.
First some background from Jenny Anderson’s piece in Quartz :
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that 22% of Americans, 23% of Brits and 9% of Japanese adults said they felt lonely all the time. When the BBC asked 55,000 people about their experiences with loneliness,33% of respondents said they were “often” or “very often” lonely. Among those aged 16-24, the figure was a shocking 40%.
Vivek Murthy, the former US surgeon general, has declared loneliness an “epidemic,” noting that it was dangerous both in its own right and because of its links to deep societal problems such as addiction and violence: “It’s prevalent, it’s common, and the studies Julianne [Holt-Lunstad] and others have done have shown a robust association with illnesses that we actually care about, including heart disease, dementia, depression and anxiety, and very importantly, longevity.”
Indeed, Holt-Lunstad’s research shows that being disconnected poses comparable danger to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more predictive of early death than the effects of air pollution or physical inactivity.
Craig Timberg and Rachel Siegel writing in the Washington Post:
The World Health Organization issued strict new guidelines Wednesday on one of the most anxiety-producing issues of 21st Century family life: How much should parents resort to videos and online games to entertain, educate or simply distract their young children?
The answer, according to WHO, is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in their second. Those aged 2 to 4, the international health agency said, should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.
The WHO drew on emerging — but as yet unsettled — science about the risks screens pose to the development of young minds at a time when surveys show children are spending increasing amounts of time watching smartphones and other mobile devices. Ninety-five percent of families with children under the age of 8 have smartphones, according to the nonprofit Common Sense Media, and 42 percent of children under 8 have access to their own tablet device.