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June 2021

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Longevity

Keeping your cool in the age of unreason

Christoper J. (Chris) Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida, is interested in madness, especially among the influential. His latest book is “How Madness Shaped History: An Eccentric Array of Maniacal Rulers, Raving narcissists, and Psychotic visionaries.” He uses “madness,” loosely defined, to mean personality disorders and other ailments that allow a certain effectiveness, and often ruthlessness, that is not possible for those with major illnesses like untreated schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder. These strange people – consider Alexander the Great, Caligula, and Hitler, as extreme examples – sometimes exploit difficult times. They provide simple and simplistic solutions to difficult issues and are often adept at persuasion. Some modern leaders may not be as extreme, or maybe they are still waiting their turn. For a variety of reasons, these oddballs attract followers. Eventually, chaos ensues and they fall from grace. But in the meantime… Today, in

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Health

Dangers of artificial sweeteners in new research

Saccharine, aspartame sucralose. They’re in just about every “diet” soft drink and all kinds of other everyday beverages from fruit drinks and many foods as well. Some new research recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences is now the first to show the pathogenic effects of these widely used sweeteners. It appears that they have a significant effect on two types of gut bacteria, E. coli (Escherichia coli) and E. faecalis (Enterococcus faecalis). Senior author of the paper Dr. Havovi Chichger, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: “There is a lot of concern about the consumption of artificial sweeteners, with some studies showing that sweeteners can affect the layer of bacteria which support the gut, known as the gut microbiota.  “Our study is the first to show that some of the sweeteners most commonly found in food and drink – saccharin, sucralose and

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Longevity

Slow is beautiful

I went to my local mall yesterday for a coffee and some food to go: Indian, Italian, Chinese. The place was pretty quiet. Some shops had closed. A few new ones had opened. Fewer people milling about. Fewer tables in the food court, not all occupied. The food sellers tried to upsell me and I went along. Dress was pretty casual. Yes, it’s summer but there was a different vibe. I asked about retail traffic, the walk-throughs. It was on the way up, a bit, I was told, after the lockdown. The economy has slowed – mostly. Many of the exceptions are high tech. Those crafty billionaires who bet on a different future and nailed it. Young guys like the Shopify crew – new Canadian icons. The already branded who have diversified: actors, athletes, entertainers. The top-of-the-shop always have options. Resource extraction has slowed. Fewer smokestacks popping up in most

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Fitness

Beware the deodorant you choose

Some people sweat more than others. The right deodorant can help. Sweating can be embarrassing, smelly and just downright messy. We’ve all been there. An awkward situation, a really hot day, or a workout at the gym, and all of a sudden our body temperature rises, our face gets red, our palms get clammy, and sweat pours out of our armpits, staining our brilliant white tees. This is the body’s natural response to activity level, stress and extreme temperatures that helps us cool down. What if you were constantly sweating excessively without anything to trigger it? This actually is a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. These people produce more sweat then the average person and they have an over-stimulation of sweat glands. This embarrassing disorder can lead to awkward social situations and can cause people to withdraw from normal daily activities. So what causes it? Hyperhidrosis can be caused by certain

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Longevity

Ube: The new superfood?

If you think the picture for this article is blackberry ice cream, it’s not! It’s a very old and extremely popular dessert made in the Philippines from Ube, called Ube Halaya. Ube is in the sweet potato family and it’s naturally purple. Ube is sweeter than it’s orange companion and has a more nutty and vanilla like taste. Sometimes it is confused with Taro, another root vegetable. Ube is often used for sweets and doesn’t hit your glycemic index so it won’t spike your sugars badly. “Ube is the Tagalog [Filipino dialect] word for tuber that comes for the Dioscorea alata L. plant. The tuber is bright lavender in color,” Richelle Rada, RD, LD, a nutrition coach, says. “In my culture, it is commonly made into a jam called ube halaya, then added to foods like Halo-Halo…

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Health

COVID-19: What would Churchill do?

“Watch out now. Take care, beware the thoughts that linger Winding up inside your head. The hopelessness around you…” Beware of Darkness – George Harrison When Prime Minister Churchill made his radio broadcasts during the Battle of Britain during the Second World War, he told his audience, in effect, to chill. Britain might not be winning the war, yet, he admitted, but they had the right stuff. They were tough. They were brave. They could laugh at adversity. The forces of good would win over evil. It would not be easy, but it would happen. Attitude would be a key part of this. Keep a stiff upper lip. Don’t take all this too seriously. Today, we get the opposite message from those in power — not without some justification. Just today I was speaking to two accomplished women. They are talented, responsible, and well balanced. But they have a problem.

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Health

The controversy over the new Alzheimer’s drug

Just last week, the FDA approved a new drug for treating Alzheimer’s in the United States, Aduhelm. It is not approved in Canada yet, but there’s a storm of controversy over whether it is even effective at all, or at least in the ways intended. This week three scientists on the FDA’s independent neurological drug advisory panel resigned however, stating that the clinical trial data was flimsy at best with one scientist telling the New York Times, “This might be the worst approval decision that the FDA has made that I can remember,” Dr. Aaron Kesselheim. The independent panel had voted to reject the drug with ten “no” votes and one “uncertain” vote. The FDA doesn’t have to listen to the panel, they’re there for a secondary opinion only. Actual regulation of drugs and medical devices is made in-house by FDA scientists. The claim by the manufacturer is that the

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Resonance

Life of Brian

Some people live life so large that no matter how well you know them, you realize this is only a fraction of who they really are. Or were. My friend Brian K. Penney was one of those. Brian died on June 5, 2021 at home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The following day would have been his birthday. He was born on D Day, June 6, 1945, near London, England. This is a fitting correspondence, as Brian’s life was full of dramatic twists and turns. Brian had survived so much I always thought he would live forever. In recent months he had been treated for cancer, but he had survived various heart and lung issues for decades, plus enough stress to kill a regular mortal decades ago. Until his final hours he could be counted on to make a joke, often self-deprecating, during the most difficult circumstances. He was a physicist,

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