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Pandemic

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Health

The 101 on your immune system

Your immune system defends you from constant threats. Look after it so it can look after you. Part One: How your immune system works THE ABC’S OF IMMUNITY We don’t realize it as we go about our day, but our immune system is engaged in a constant life-or-death drama, fighting threats too small to see and winning most of them most of the time. In this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, it helps to get a big-picture view of the immune system. Without it, we would all be sick, dying, or dead. In the article How the Immune System Works, in Medical News Today (2018), Tim Newman explains that “without an immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. It keeps us healthy as we drift through a sea of pathogens. This vast network of cells and tissues is constantly on the lookout

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Longevity

Editor’s Notebook: Putting plagues in perspective I

We complain about this pandemic and, yes, it’s bad by modern standards, but let’s have a little perspective. Infectious diseases have plagued humanity since forever—and sometimes they seemed to last forever. “The Great Plague of London, from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England,” notes Wikipedia. “It happened within a centuries-long pandemic that originated in Central Asia in 1331 (the first year of the Black Death) and lasted until 1750, killing an estimated 100,000 people—almost a quarter of London’s population—in 18 months.” The good news is that it was on a much smaller scale than the earlier Black Death pandemic. “It became known afterwards as the ‘great’ plague mainly because it was the last widespread outbreak of bubonic plague in England during the 400-year Second Pandemic.” What — 400 years! We complain if we can’t fix a problem in weeks, months

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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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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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Resonance

Foxes and sharks, eagles and wolves

Who is an ally? Who is an enemy? What is good? What is bad? It can be hard to tell. There are many Sufi proverbs to this effect. Let’s explore this from where I sit in tree-lined suburbia, outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, a small city in a small province of Canada. Canada has a large landmass and many natural resources, but a small population. The economy, measured by GDP, is smaller than that of California. Let’s keep this in perspective. A few days ago, I left the blinds open as I prepared for a morning Zoom meditation with Yogiji in Rishikesh, India. It was grey, raining. No direct sunlight. I was facing east, looking out the front window onto the tree-lined yard. Didn’t need the blinds. I stared at my open laptop, which connected me to the internet – to India, to Yogiji’s computer in Rishikesh at the upper reaches

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Health

COVID and Gut Health

From long-haulers to nearly symptomless and everything in between, COVID-19 is proving to be a complex and nasty virus. New research is showing there are some symptoms you shouldn’t ignore when it comes to your gut. And gut health plays a vital role in your overall body health and even your brain health. Early on during the pandemic, Chinese medical researchers found that stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal) and some fecal-oral transmission was one clear source for the spread of the virus. While it was known that oral and nasal transmission were a factor, this added to the complexity of how the virus moved amongst humans. “…

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Health

Research starts into COVID-19 and Long-Term Care Homes

As most Canadians know, COVID-19 has hit long-term care facilities (LTC) across Canada hard. From Halifax to Vancouver. The data shows that LTC’s account for about 60% of deaths from the virus and 70% if we include retirement homes. And it’s not just the residents that are getting the virus, it’s the care workers as well. As we seek to understand why, the federal government, through the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) is providing $5.8 Million to support two studies that will investigate the various aspects of immunity and how people are responding to vaccines in LTCs. For now, these studies are focusing on Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. Although Atlantic Canada was hit hard in LTCs it would seem that part of the country, as usual, is not being included in the studies, which is odd given Nova Scotia itself has one of the highest ageing populations in Canada.

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Longevity

What the future wasn’t

Looking back over half a century, we had some incredible visions of the future. One historian said it was the end of history at the turn of the century. Until it wasn’t. For those of us over 45, we’ve often recalled the cartoon series The Jetsons, mostly because they had flying cars. They haven’t arrived yet, but there are over 50 companies working on them. Some funded by major automotive companies like Hyundai and Volkswagen. The most promising of them use drone helicopter technology. But the reality of flying cars for common, everyday use by anyone is still very far off. Mass use is constrained by battery technologies, lack of regulation around navigation methods and more. Which of course, brings us to self-driving cars. Elon Musk opined they would be available by 2020. We all know what a dumpster fire 2020 turned out to be and no self-driving cars from

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