Today’s blog post is written by Kristina Saudargaite who is the founder of inBelly. This organization is already helping children at schools to have better food by identifying and classifying additives. Now, inBelly wants to branch out to another sensitive target group, the elderly. Read Kristina’s story here:
My name is Kristina Saudergaite and I love food. I love eating, cooking, going to the grocery store etc. I also love knowing what I eat. For this purpose, my friends and I once looked at the ingredient list. We saw many chemical names that we could not understand or tell how they affect our health. Thus, we checked.
The results shocked us! Commonly used E250 is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as probably carcinogenic to humans or in simple words it is likely to cause cancer. E211 or sodium benzoate is not harmful on its own; however, it reacts with vitamin C and releases benzene – a known toxin. And who does not eat products often containing E211 such as shrimps together with a slice of lemon or maybe drinking Must with a salad
These are only a few examples; but food is increasingly stuffed with chemicals and this puts our health at risk.
The amounts of additives that may cause adverse effects are regulated by the EU. The problem lies in the fact that tests are made on healthy individuals (or animals). However, sensitive subgroups such as the elderly may be much more susceptive to the additives and adverse health effects related to them. Nursing homes do not have enough information to make sure that the food they buy do not contain harmful ingredients.
inBelly has the expertise and a rigorous database on food additives. Moreover, we have a technological solution that enables to quickly check if a product contains anything harmful.
In Sweden we have found many food products containing additives banned in other countries, such as Canada and/or linked to diseases. This knowledge exists in academia and in public documents but since the information is presented in a complicated and scattered manner, it rarely reaches the wider public. inBelly is unique since it uses official and scientific information about food additives and depicts it in a non-scientific “easy-to-understand” kind of way. The app simply shows a sign indicating that the scanned product contains additives banned in other countries. Our service innovation lies in using a mobile solution to translate knowledge from academia into simple visual signs in order to make the information quickly and easily available to everyone. With our mobile app people can scan barcodes and get information whether this particular product contains any ingredients that may be linked to diseases. The initiative won the Stockholm Innovation award in the service category 2012.
We are currently using this knowledge to help pre-schools to choose better food. We are cooperating with the chef at Globala Gymnasium to go through the products they purchase and analyse if any of them contain additives that may be harmful. This helps the institutions to ensure better food.
Since the elderly, similarly to children, is a sensitive group, we plan to offer our services to help nursing homes to go through the food they serve the elderly and check if they contain harmful additives. This would ensure good quality food and best possible health and wellbeing for the elderly.
Follow inBelly on facebook.com/inBelly or on Twitter @inbelly_guide
Rates of social isolation are only increasing — not only because of an inherently Western attidude being adapted in so many cultures where individualism is favored over family — but because of new techniques, paradigms, and interventions of health that directly have been improving the global age of survival. Without the ability to counterbalance this increasing age due to a lack of technology to keep our neurons from diminishing over time, for example, or the lack of decreasing the rates of non-communicable, age-related diseases, it remains for us thus as a major obstacle in attaining the state of “living in balance,” as the world-renown statistician Hans Rosling once so eloquently put it in a Global Health lecture at Karolinska Institutet, year 2011. If we are to make no further progress to keep our foundation in supporting the elderly, we will inevitably crumble and shall once again be “dying in balance” as our ancient ancestors have done with leaping infant mortality rates. In our situation, it may be waves of elderly who will be at the brunt end of the sword. It appears to be so that in the near future, when our fertility rate will balance itself, our situation is reversing. Not enough children already now in high income countries will not be able to support or give attention to the growing needs of their elders.
One solution to help diminish this problem is the introduction of elderly-friendly pets. While a large motivation for them may be food and a home, pets are able to give unconditional attention to their owners. They are just as capable of banishing social isolation.
Several pet-elderly-friendly foundations, for example, exist in Pennsylvania within the United States, such as The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Hope for the Animals. Organizations such as these promote the well-being of pets and seniors, and ultimately try to create a win-win situation. While this animal-elderly strategy may seem to be overly simplified, there certainly is nothing wrong in the logic. In fact, the simplicity of such a strategy as giving pets to seniors to banish isolation may also be its brilliance: this initiative can reach far, and across countless homes. If the elder would like a pet, there is nothing to lose aside from allergies, but then you can always find yourself a breed not privy to causing such a reaction.
HLA-DR molecules can be altered genetically in such a sense to lead to the pathway of the so called “Cinderella Slipper” coined by the work of researchers Peter K. Gregerson of the Feinstein Institute of Medical Research, Lars Klareskog of the Karolinska Institute, and Robert J. Winchester of Columbia University. They have discovered that having one HLA risk gene coupled with being a smoker will quintuple the risk of developing the autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis – so called the “Foot” that fits into the Cinderella Slipper. Having two HLA risk genes together with being a smoker makes that risk ten times higher in developing Rheumatoid Arthritis when compared to having one risk gene.
For their work, these three researchers have been awarded the 2013 Crafoord prize in polyarthritis research. Watch the video here:
This means that particularly for middle-income countries with high and rising rates of smoking, high population, and high rates of aging, Rheumatoid Arthritis will pose a truly serious problem in the coming future unless preventative mechanisms will come into play concerning smoking, i.e. education campaigns, warning labels, and increased taxation.
The New York Times’ Personal Health blog included an article written by Jane Brody: “Staying Independent in Old Age, With a Little Help.” Here, the writer mentions how the majority of American elderly prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. A barrier remains, however, as the homes they stay in are outdated relevant to the modernization of our people and the rate at which aging is increasing. Therefore, solutions are mentioned here — both on the house level and the community level — that may allow for elderly to live as independently as long as possible. House level solutions include the installment of grab bars, curbless showers, and the removal of steps. Community level changes include the provision of cluster housing in walkable communities within the vicinity of stores and public transportation.
While these solutions will help prevent social isolation and improve human elderly factors, one must also be aware of the signs of when one should consider moving an elder to a more supportive environment. These signs have been mentioned by Paula Spencer Scott, senior editor at Caring.com. Accidents, falls, diminishing health, slow recovery, inability to leave the house, not picking up the mail, not checking food expiration dates, fluctuating behavior, and increased loneliness are one of few signs to tell when the time may be right. Not only these, but if it takes considerable time and effort to care for this person and you are becoming affected if you yourself are the care provider, it is probably the right time to let him or her come to a place where he or she can be helped with a more constant environment of support. The question remains if these facilities will remain available in the coming future with enough staff. This will of course remain a concern and, to boldly say, should be a target addressed in all coming worldly or national health meetings of any kind.
If your body was a mobile phone, your liver would be the SIM card
Although this post is not particularly tailored to the stereotype of Irish men who not only fashionably drink some ale at the Green Dragon tavern (rather, quite more than a hobby), naturally, it would be important for this group of individuals — and of course those who follow that bandwagon, namely, the particular binge-drinking bandwagon — to read this!
It is so that with a healthy liver you are a liver.
While being a liver — one who lives — you can live when there is an organ that clears toxins from your body, converts food into energy, regulates the levels of cholesterol; among several others. Of course, that is why this organ is called a liver! You can’t live without it.
Henceforth, as once a liver takes a considerable amount of time to restore itself after being diseased or taking a large amount of damage, one should consider as one ages that this organ must be kept healthy. Not to sole out this from any other vital organs — of course general health is directly related to holistic wellness — but let us take some time to appreciate what our liver does for us.
Therefore, my liver, I liver you!
If your body was a mobile phone, your liver would be the SIM card:
Fats!?-they are bad for your health! Especially for the old with predisposition to heart ailments, diabetes etc., they are a strict no. Is this true? Well not entirely. Contrary to popular belief, fats are actually important for a healthy living. They provide energy as well as protect the cell walls. Besides they also aid digestion of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
The word to go with fat is moderation. Eat moderate amounts and the right kinds, fats will help one sail through old age better. The average elderly should consume about 2-3 teaspoons of “good fat” everyday. This allowance should not be wasted on cakes, biscuits or sugary drinks. Instead pick items from the following list of food items:
- Fish such as salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, anchovies, mackerel, eulachon, char and herring
- Flaxseed or walnut oils (these oils are only to be used cold, not to be heated)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, ground flaxseed)
- Vegetable oils (olive, canola, soybean, peanut, sesame oil)
- Soft tub margarine made from the oils above that say ‘non-hydrogenated’ on the label
- Wheat germ
- Omega 3 fortified foods such as eggs, yogurt, soy drinks
Use the above sources-mix and match to help you body receive the right kind of fats. Things to avoid are:
- Hard margarines
- Vegetable shortening
- Whole milk including coconut milk
- Cream, sour cream and ice cream
- Cheese and paneer
- Fatty red meat (pork hock, sausage, bacon, preserved meats)
- Palm and coconut oils
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Baked items (cookies, pies, cakes, pastries)
Fat is after all not so bad and it helps keep your body healthy. If one knows how to use it well, it is a food for the soul :)!
Today gives rise to a new state of mind for the baby boomers. As our elderly are expected to retire during ages 60-65; start playing golf, cleaning the garage and priming up the garden, it brings forth question: Do they want to do this for the rest of their years?
According to Global Action on Aging (GAA) of New York, the elderly appear to have a strong incentive to contribute to society by having a will to stay in the workforce. Trends have shown that working men between ages 62 and 74 in the past decade have risen by about 40%, whereas working women in these ages and in this same time period have risen by 60%. A large proportion of elderly in the States report low amounts of savings, and though while financial reasons are a large contributor to the elderly staying in the workforce, apparently it is not the only one. “All the research we’ve done shows that, even when the money issue is put aside, people don’t want to do nothing.” - Tammy Erickson, author of “Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation” (Harvard Business School Press, 2008)
“Call it a second phase, an encore, a reinvention. Just don’t call it retirement. More people are entering their mid-60s — stuck, perhaps, with dismayingly skimpy savings accounts, but blessed with sound health and many years ahead of them — and deciding that retirement doesn’t top their agenda.” - Katy Read, The Courier-Journal
“My speculation is that the more mature the individual, the more self-reflective or self-aware they are, the more likely to recognize that they need to retool, to kind of reinvent themselves.” – Jeff Hudson, program director for continuing education and customized training at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota
Perhaps the wave of baby boomers caused a silver evolution and revolution in and of itself; consciously, or unconsciously, as a self-protective mechanism by our elders themselves, to help contribute to the aging world. If it be conscious, however — striven with willpower — it will probably make the outcome much more successful. Willpower is the tool needed to reinvent yourself for a reinventing future, whether is it re-educating yourself, taking on a new initiative, or quite simply charting out a new path to meet your dreams.
People Don’t Want to Retire: Many Seniors Prefer Reinventing Themselves
Former Seattlites are Reinventing Themselves in the Hills of San Miguel
Do you remember back in the day with vague glimpses of memory when your teachers would ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Naturally, it would be normal to think about all kinds of professions swimming in your mind.
How different would it be, however, if we ask the question, “What do you want to be when you grow old?”
It may be quite hard to imagine an answer like, “I want to be a monster truck rally daredevil,” as most might imagine themselves lounging in bed, nearly a century old, ponderously trying to recall in the noon what they had for breakfast a mere few hours ago. This is probably why our teachers never bothered to ask the question.
Unfortunately, if you wish to have it revealed how many minds pondered over this question by briefly swimming in the external consciousness of mankind, i.e. surfing the internet, you may not find much more than Adam Sandler’s “I Wanna Grow Old With You.”
How would our world view that question if our elders are given voices? What is life like for them, and is it really all that bad? Did they want to end up where they are now, or had they wished they thought of it? These types of questions with their answers could, for example, help prevent waves of mid-life crises. Perhaps when we think about questions such as these, more waves of innovative technology, paradigms and solutions may arrive to address fields concerning the elderly.
“What do you want to be when you grow old?” I want to be a wise man; healthy, and full of spirit; reading several books a week and even playing chess and tennis regularly. Lastly, I would wish to pass on whatever knowledge I have to my children so that they, one day, could do the same.
It is right to ask the question, is it not? We will all get to that destination in one way or another. I daresay that – for me – it will be fascinating to experience how it all will turn out.
So then, now it’s your turn. What do you want to be when you grow old?
Could music therapy be used for treatment of chronic conditions? Could it even prevent them from arising? Let us explore.
The biological effects of music therapy through clinical research have been explored before the turn of the century by GR Watkins of University of Illinois at Chicago, USA. In 1997, he both reviewed and confirmed the usefulness of the effects of music therapy on anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate.
Taking into consideration the death tolls from cardiovascular disease — the largest worldly contributor to chronic disease deaths — we need to find ways to maintain a healthy heart. We definitely can – for example – reduce our trans-fatty acids intake, but there are several pieces to the puzzle. Let us see if anything more recent has discovered similar phenomena as was discovered by Watkins.
A meta-analysis in year 2012, conducted by RS Loomba et al., apparently discovered the same phenomena as Watson’s findings, but here they report major effects. They mention the purported effects of music therapy on relieving anxiety and statistically reveal significant decreases both in systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as heart rate. With these findings, further studies should triangulate these effects of music therapy after being incorporated into chronic disease prevention and chronic care management programs. Finally, allopathic facilities should aim for integrative care initiatives and involve music therapy as part of holistic treatment — particularly for those who seek complementary or alternative modes of treatment.
1: Watkins GR. Music therapy: proposed physiological mechanisms and clinical implications. Clin Nurse Spec. 1997 Mar;11(2):43-50. Review. PubMed PMID: 9233140. 2: Loomba RS, Arora R, Shah PH, Chandrasekar S, Molnar J. Effects of music on systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate: a meta-analysis. Indian Heart J. 2012 May-Jun;64(3):309-13. PubMed PMID: 22664817.
More than half of the elderly with dementia are over age 80 in high-income countries. Alzheimer’s — a purportedly incurable disease starting with mild memory loss and ending with severe brain damage and death – is the most common form of dementia. Indeed, progress for treating such conditions has not had much haste. Perhaps something is hiding within the alternatives — some formula or combination that may change a dreary caterpillar into a fluttering butterfly. Antioxidants, Asian ginseng, cat’s claw, ginkgo, and grape seed extract have all been proposed as alternatives for treating Alzheimers and dementia. Let us, for example, focus on the extract from the ginkgo biloba leaf from the ginkgo tree — a unique plant species widely known and particularly respected both for its use in traditional medicine and for its symbolism in China, Korea, and Japan.
In addition to its explored potential effects such as improved blood flow, prevention of oxidative cell damage from free radicals (i.e. “aging”), and prevention of platelet aggregation and blood clotting, ginkgo has been purported to act with nootropic, or memory enhancing, properties. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted by the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), of the National Institutes of Health, USA, found some promising results for ginkgo extract as treatment for dementia. Ginkgo biloba extract in this study was able to show an indication of reduced risk of progression of dementia and a smaller decline in memory when compared to the placebo group. It followed 118 volunteers age 85 or older who used 80 mg of ginkgo extract three times per day over a time period of 42 months.
To conclude, ginkgo extract has large potential for treating dementia, but an evidence base just as large is required. Broad clinical trials must commence to address the effectiveness of this treatment.
NCCAM (2012) Alzheimer’s disease and CAM. Retrieved May 9th, 2012, from: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/alzheimers.htm
NCCAM (2012) Pilot study provides new insight on effect of ginkgo extract on dementia in the elderly. Retrieved May 9th, 2012, from: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/022608.htm
A topic not actively discussed includes the potential therapeutic effect of architecture as well as horticulture to produce an innovative effect in preventing or slowing the development of chronic disease. Could architecture regarding the application of human factors and re-engineering serve as a significant treatment for the elderly?
The Medical Architectural Research Unit (MARU) of London South Bank University evaluated some European cases of architecture that specifically targeted the elderly, as cited in the World Health Design organization’s website. Field visits from 2005-2008 included Finland, Spain, and France.
Various facilities that focus on dementia care were visited by MARU and offer innovative architectural experiences with holistic approaches that appear to influence the elderly. The Viola-koti of Tampere and Kamppi Service Centre of Helsinki facilities are highlights of Finland, and include human factors-oriented recreational facilities with special exercise activities and workshops; multi-level saunas; and buildings with bi-folding windows that give elderly a wonderful view of the on-goings of the world even in the times of cold, dreary winter months. Next, in Spain, the Madrid Alzheimer Centre has been engineered to conduct bio-mechanistic studies on the probable causes of Alzheimer’s, while at the same time influencing those staying at the clinic with units of residence all independent of each other in design – each topped with well-protected, inspiring courtyard gardens. By understanding ways to incorporate a whole spectrum of care, a central garden even is integrated as being part of a horticultural therapy program. Finally, in Paris, France, the Residence de l’Abbaye allows the elderly in a secure environment simulated as a ‘salon’ on a ‘street of activities’ to learn and discuss about the matters of modern politics and societal issues, keeping their worldly lore active and up-to-date.
This process of course is up to the human experience and how we each individually perceive phenomena. Therefore, architectural human factors and re-engineering would have – like any method of therapy – different effects on different individuals. Yet, the truth remains: an often under looked yet obviously significant stimulus is there, right before our eyes, influencing how we move, perceive, and experience our world. What would our world be like, after all, if our city squares were circles, and our buildings ovals instead of rectangles?
World Health Design (2012) Elderly Care: Active Ageing. WorldHealthDesign.com. Retrieved April 19th, 2012 from: http://www.worldhealthdesign.com/Elderly-Care-Active-Ageing.aspx
“Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), primarily cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are responsible for 63% of all deaths worldwide (36 million out of 57 million global deaths)” – World Health Organization, 2011
Noncommunicable diseases – also referred to as chronic diseases – remain the number one global cause of deaths worldwide and cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart disease remains at the top of the pedestal. Chronic diseases significantly concern the elderly, as 75% of 36 million global deaths attributable to chronic disease occurred beyond age 60 in 2011. In this report, we must highlight Japan – the country with the highest average elderly age yet the lowest cases of heart disease.
As early as 1981, Professor Geoffrey Rose of Epidemiology wrote an article in the British Medical Journal about taking the action of preventing CVD. He showed staggeringly low numbers of how Japan in 1968 had just over 100 deaths per 100,000 population attributable to coronary heart disease (CHD), whereas before the United States was able to drop their rates considerably over time, in 1968 they had the highest number – with over 800 deaths per 100,000 population. Sweden was around the middle, with approximately 450 deaths per 100,000 population. Further, Rose adds, “The Japanese owe their low rates not to their genes but to their way of life: when they move to America they rather quickly acquire American rates.” In addition to affirming Japan’s low death ratio, the United States and Australia had shown drops of 25% till year 1977, indicating that therapeutic advancements and prevention strategies can considerably reduce the deaths from CHD – which represent approximately half of CVD deaths (Iso, 2008). Japan has been able to keep their low CHD death ratio similar with a slight drop till 1977 (Rose, 1981) and has considerably dropped further – with over a 50% drop from this time frame to year 2000, having now around 37 deaths per 100,000 population (Iso, 2008). Dr. Hiroyasu Iso of Social and Environmental Medicine wrote in the Journal of the American Heart Association that Japan still has the lowest CHD ratio of high-income countries – between one-third and one-fifth that of the United States.
The decline of CHD deaths in Japan is attributable to the decline of mean systolic blood pressure levels and the prevalence of smoking. However, an issue is arising with a high prevalence of western fast-food diets increasing the mean serum total cholesterol and triglyceride levels (Iso, 2008). It is curious as to how Japan started with such a low ratio of deaths from CHD, and as we have heard from Professor Rose, it is due to their lifestyle. Is this lifestyle perhaps significantly affected by the practice of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) or Traditional Medicine (TM) involving the use of exercise, herbs, or other techniques? In order to explain a counterbalance for a high-fat-intake diet, I recommend collaboration with a national research organization such as the Japan Society of Oriental Medicine to investigate how the effects of Japanese Traditional Medicine, i.e. Kampo, derived from Chinese Traditional Medicine might be attributable to the low incidence of CHD deaths in Japan.
According to Dr. Johan von Schreeb of Karolinska Institute’s Public Health Sciences, approximately 1/3rd of Japan’s population is over age 60 and the country has the highest average aged population in the world – leading with 84 as the mean age of life expectancy. Prevention of chronic diseases is on the forefront of today’s world, with so many medical advances leading not only high-income countries but countries all over the world to jolt up in life expectancy. And as life expectancy rises, so does the demand for prevention of chronic disease. Is there a golden formula somewhere out in the Far East that could face this issue? As the country with the leading population of elders, perhaps there really is something about Japan that the world could need.
The Epoch Times. Image Retrieved April 4th, 2012: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/world/40000-japanese-aged-100-over-survey-says-22351.html
World Health Organization. 10 FACTS ON NONCOMMUNICABLE DISEASES. September 2011. Retrieved March 29th, 2012: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/noncommunicable_diseases/facts/en/index.html
Schreeb, Johan von. Lecture on Disasters & Relief. January, 2012. Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Stockholm. IHCAR Department of Public Health Sciences.
Hiroyasu, Iso. 2008. Changesin Coronary Heart Disease Risk Among Japanese. Journal of the American Heart Association 118:2725-2729.
Rose, Geoffrey. 1981. Strategy of prevention: lessons from cardiovascular disease. British Medical Journal 282:1847-1851.
I was recently at a fair in Sweden called Worldclass Senior Life where one of the many booths belonged to a company called Suntech. At Suntech’s booth, instead of a pile of brochures and a bowl of candy, Suntech had rigged a beach with sand, sun chairs and parasols. Here, the fair visitors could take a break from the intense fair and enjoy the bright sun light. Swedish company Suntech is the first one to simulate real sunlight worldwide, meaning that they produce light that contain the whole spectrum of the real sun with wave-lengths of the exact same proportions. Compared to light therapies that can be found in hospitals, Suntech’s light is 10 times stronger but the light is still on a controlled and safe level as 90% of the UV radiation is filtered out.
The Suntech light is particularly suitable for elderly. They can enjoy a quiet indulgence in an environment that affect all senses. The ones that have enjoyed holidays in the sun earlier in their lives get the chance to relive the experience inside the nursing home. The light makes people happier and more alert at the same time as it serves as a meeting place for elderly at the nursing home. Research has shown that the light helps the body to produce vitamins and it affects the epiphysis positively. The immune defense is strengthened at the same time as the replicated sun’s heat mitigates stiffness and muscle pain.
Nursing homes installing a Suntech room are free to design their own scenography; Suntech can build anything from a coastal landscape in the archipelago to a tropical beach including light, sound and wind. In its smallest design, which fits 7 people, the price for the Suntech room is approximately 25.000 USD.
26-year old French fashion designer, Fanny Karst, is the co-founder of Old Ladies Rebellion, a fashion brand for pensioners who dares to stand out. She wanted to revolutionize the stylish options available to women her grandmother’s age and offer them something else than cheesy suits and navy cardigans. The clothes are designed specifically to give older ladies fashion-forward shapes in a style that suits them, which involves a lot of hiding, shaping, and flattering. Fanny Karst believes that too often with age, women cease to dress pretty because they think they are looked over. Old Ladies Rebellion proves that you can be elegant and a little bit rock’n’roll at any age.
I certainly find this young designer with a degree in fashion print from Central St Martins School in London very bold to design clothes for women three times her age and to use models walking down the catwalk with crutches in an environment obsessed with youth and where you are considered old at 24.
Read below interview to find out why Fanny Karst thinks it is so great to design for older ladies and who she would dream of designing for.
Jane Fonda recently held a speech about what she calls “Life’s Third Act” which refers to the ages 60-90 and the fact that we on average today live 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did. Life’s Third Act is a whole second adult lifetime that has been added and Jane Fonda discusses how to make the most out of these years and how you can during this time free yourself from your past in order to become whole. As she approached her 60th birthday she did a life review where she studied the life she had lived in order to realize who she had really been. She also talks about the upward ascension of human spirit and how to avoid what she calls decrepitude.
This is a very inspiring speech by Jane Fonda who herself is more than a decade into her “third act” and has had three extraordinary careers as an Oscar-winning actress, an activist and a best-selling fitness guru. The speech was organized by TED, which holds conferences offering free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers.
Hands can make tools, and hands can be tools themselves.
When one really takes time to think about it, hands are incredible. The science of touch is a rarely discussed topic, primarily due to the sensitivity the topic entails when taking some cultural and social norms into consideration. But the fact is, without touch, we would not be here. It is proven that babies do not develop properly if they do not have skin contact. Apparently, touch is required as a triggering mechanism for promulgation of brain activity, emotional response, as well as the immune system.The touch of a newborn baby’s hand forms tears in the eyes, and the touch of an elder’s hand cannot help but make one think of the wisdom one can learn of the world. The touch of hands have incredible potential. Just as they have let us discover fire, craft tools, and even use smartphones, they have been used in treatment for as long as history can recall.
Two such forms of the application of hands for treatment include massage and acupuncture. While massage involves direct skin contact through the hands, guided by fluid movements, acupuncture involves the intuition of the hands to gently guide needle tools serving as extensions of the hands — affecting meridians of the body that are stimulated through touch. Without the needle tools, this is known as acupressure.
According to the American News Report, studies have shown that, for massage, treatment is effective for treating pain regarding inflammation after exercise (reducing inflammation of acutely damaged skeletal muscle), osteoarthritis knee pain (pain reduction), chronic low back pain (significant pain reduction), and fibromyalgia (pain reduction and improved quality of life). Exhaustive amounts of studies exist for acupuncture, and publications from the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences revealed, for example, the potential of acupuncture treatment for depression as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Regarding CFS, acupuncture has shown to significantly improve quality of life.
These are just two methods of the science of touch, but this is an almost endless avenue to explore. Ready for an adventure? The skies are the limits… but not for the hands. Hands built space programs.
Hands are incredible.
Greenville Hospital System. The Magic Hour. Retrieved May 24th, 2012 from: http://www.ghswomens.org/the-magic-hour.php
American News Report. Studies Show Massage Relieves Chronic Pain. Retrieved May 24th, 2012 from:
PubMed. Development of studies on on neurochemical mechanism of acupuncture underlying improvement of depression. Retrieved May 24th, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22073894
PubMed. A meta analysis on randomized controlled trials of acupuncture treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrieved May 24th, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20209981
PubMed. Randomized controlled study on influence of acupuncture for life quality of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Retrieved May 24th, 2012 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19873911
Dating back to myriads of years, the idea of immortality has always been one of the core fascinations of mankind. Mystical locations and potions such as the legendary fountain of youth and the fabled elixir of life have added weight to the possibility of living forever in the past. Yet today, it appears that longevity remains a more realistic target than the very much mystified immortality; and we are now living longer life spans.
According to UN statistics, global life expectancy is presently 68 years. Romans during the Roman Empire only had life spans of 22 to 25 years. This steep contrast in figures can be traced to the improvements in hygiene and nutrition, and the advances in medical and disease control worldwide over the centuries. With education, individuals are also seeking for the scientific composition of a healthy body, marrying the elements of healthy diet and lifestyle to push the barriers of longevity.
In the Balearic Islands, doctors studied the lifestyle of a man who lived till the age of 114 years. He led a physically active life, cycling to work in his family orchard until the age of 102 years, and considered the intake of his local diet as the key ingredient to his longevity. Various cultures however, differ on what they perceive to be the secret recipe to a lengthened life span. The Japanese swear by their vegetables while the Greeks and French remain adamant that olive oil and red wine respectively, are the essentials. Majority of Americans are faithful to their regular exercise routines in contrast to cigars, which the Cubans believe is the secret recipe to longevity.
Because the genetic makeup of an individual is so sophisticatedly diverse, the real secret recipe to longevity may never see light. On a brighter note, we as mankind have that innate ability to forage and process knowledge to our advantage; through proper diet and hygiene, regular exercises, smoke-free lifestyle, and stress limitation, we are already very well accustomed to the fundamental bricks for building a healthy body.