Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.
Source: The Conversation
Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?
There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.
I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.
Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.
Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.
Metalheads and headbangers
Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.
One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.
Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.
Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.
Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.
Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.
So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!
About this neuroscience research article
Source: The Conversation Media Contacts: Nick Perham – The Conversation Image Source: The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.
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A sheriff’s department in Washington state shared a story about an elderly man who killed his ailing wife and then himself, apparently because they did not have enough money to pay for medical care. The devastating story was shared on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page and has gone viral.
A 77-year-old man called 911 and told the dispatcher, “I’m going to kill myself,” according to the sheriff’s department. He indicated he had prepared a note with instructions and the dispatcher tried to keep him on the line, with no success. The man disconnected the call, and when deputies arrived at the house, they sent a robot mounted camera inside.
Both the man and his wife were found dead by gunshot wounds. Detectives are investigating it as a likely murder-suicide.
Murder / Suicide near Ferndale
At 0823 hours this morning deputies responded to the 6500 block of Timmeran Lane near…
“Several notes were left citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care,” the sheriffs department’s post reads. “Next of kin information was left in a note and detectives are working with out of state law enforcement to notify the next of kin.”
The identity of the couple has not been released. Their two dogs were brought to the Human Society for care. Several firearms were also impounded.
“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said, according to the post. “Help is always available with a call to 9-1-1.”
Americans spend more on health care than citizens of any other country, and that gap is projected to widen. Health care spending is expected to consume almost 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product by 2027, according to a recent estimate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Suicide rates have increased among all age groups in the U.S. between 2008 and 2017, including those age 65 and over.
How to get help for yourself or a loved one
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or thinking about suicide, talk to someone who can help, such as a trusted loved one, your doctor, your licensed mental health professional if you already have one, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
If you believe your loved one or friend is at risk of suicide, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department or dial 911. It’s important to remove access to firearms, medications, or any other potential tools they might use to harm themselves.
For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.
Both Bill and Hillary Clinton reacted to President Trump’s Monday morning remarks on the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, dismissing his push for mental health-based reform and calling for the ban of “assault weapons.”
Trump addressed the nation Monday on the deadly shootings that occurred over the weekend, resulting in more than 30 fatalities and dozens of injuries. He unequivocally condemned racism, bigotry, and white supremacy, calling them “sinister ideologies” that “must be defeated.”
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America, hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul.”
While the president called for bipartisan solutions – including “red flag” laws – he urged lawmakers to address the festering mental health crisis in the nation as well.
“Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun,” the president noted.
Both Clintons took issue with Trump’s position.
“People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “The difference is the guns.”:
People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.
Former President Bill Clinton took it a step further and renewed calls for an “assault weapons” ban, despite the fact that the 1994 ban did not have any tangible effect.
“How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks?” Clinton asked.
“After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths,” he claimed. “When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.”:
How many more people have to die before we reinstate the assault weapons ban & the limit on high-capacity magazines & pass universal background checks? After they passed in 1994, there was a big drop in mass shooting deaths. When the ban expired, they rose again. We must act now.
“The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004 and, although crime fell during that time, a ‘detailed study found no proof’ the decline was due to the ban,” Breitbart News’s AWR Hawkins reported.
Even the New York Timesadmitted that “the law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.”
Hard numbers showed the percentage of “assault weapons” recovered by police during the ban only rose from 1 percent to 2 percent.
On top of all this, the Times points out that “assault weapons” are not the gun of choice for criminals anyway–and never have been. “In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, FBI data shows.” And as Breitbart News reported on January 15, 2013, deaths in which an “assault rifle” were involved constituted less than .012 percent of the overall deaths in America in 2011.
The nitty-gritty details of the 1994 assault weapons ban demonstrate the fundamental flaws in the left’s solutions for gun violence. The 1994 assault weapons ban identified five features and barred any semi-automatic rifle that possessed two of the five. Flagged features included a flash suppressor, pistol grip, collapsible stock, bayonet mount, and a grenade launcher. As the list demonstrates, the features were primarily cosmetic and did nothing to increase firepower.
The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories. A rifle with both a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock? Perish the thought.
A collapsible stock does not make a rifle more deadly. Nor does a pistol grip. Nor does a bayonet mount. Nor does a flash suppressor.
The New York Timesadmitted in 2014 that Democrats manufactured the term “assault weapons” in order to ban a “politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features’” and added that those weapons “only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.”
In recent years, in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, Republicans tend to talk about new policies related to mental health. In response to the latest slayings, we’re hearing many of the same familiar refrains.
Here, for example, was Donald Trump’s unscripted comments to reporters yesterday afternoon:
“[T]his is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”
And here’s how the president followed up on the point this morning, reading scripted comments:
“[W]e must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”
There are all kinds of relevant angles to comments like these, which seemed to refer to general policy preferences, not specific legislation. For example, the idea of imposing “involuntary confinement” on the mentally ill is the sort of approach that easily could be abused and applied too broadly. Policymakers would have to deal with the challenges with great caution and care.
But hanging overhead is a problem that’s tough for GOP officials to explain away: the last time they tackled a policy related to guns and mental health.
As regular readers may recall, one of the very first measures tackled by the Republican-led Congress in 2017 was, of all things, a gun bill.
When an American suffers from a severe mental illness, to the point that he or she receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are a variety of limits created to help protect that person and his or her interests. These folks cannot, for example, go to a bank to cash a check on their own.
As recently as 2016, they couldn’t buy a gun, either. The Social Security Administration would report the names of those who receive disability benefits due to severe mental illness to the FBI’s background-check system.
At least, that was the policy. Less than a month into the Trump era, Republicans passed a measure to block the Social Security Administration’s reporting policy, keeping the names out of the FBI system, and making it easier for the mentally impaired to buy firearms.
To be sure, the old system had flaws and was the subject of some legitimate criticism. It’s very difficult, for example, for someone to have their names removed from the background-check system once they’re on it.
But the GOP measure made no real effort at reform. It was more of a blunt object than a scalpel.
And two years later, it’s a political headache, too. The Republicans talking today about the mentally impaired having access to guns are the same Republicans who voted to expand gun access for the mentally impaired.
It happened again … twice in less than twenty-four hours. Are any of us surprised? And can anybody help?
When a panel of seven doctors was asked how many had seen a gunshot victim within the past week, three hands went up. “I think people think that if their loved one gets to the hospital, that there’s magic there. But sometimes it’s just too much for us,” said Dr. Stephanie Bonne.
If there was ever a time for preventive medicine, it’s now, says a group of doctors.
“A grandfather was shot yesterday,” said Dr. Roger Mitchell. “A son was shot yesterday. Yesterday – a mother was shot yesterday. And then the day before that, there were five other people that were shot that were connected to Americans in this country.”
They’ve had enough, and seen enough.
“The only thing worse than a death is a death that can be prevented,” said Dr. Ronnie Stewart. “And to go and talk to the mom of a child who was normal at breakfast and now is not here, is the worst possible thing. And honestly, it drives us to address this problem.”
Drs. Stewart, Boone and Mitchell, along with Drs. Albert Osbahr, Niva Lubin Johnson, Chris Barsotti and Megan Ranney were in Chicago this past winter as more than 40 medical organizations, who normally operate separately, joined forces to address the 40,000 firearm-related deaths that occur each year.
Nothing like this has ever happened, they said. “And we recognize that this is an epidemic that we can address,” said Dr. Barsotti.
Their meeting followed a tweet from the National Rifle Association last November that helped fuel a movement: “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”
Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane. Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves. https://t.co/oCR3uiLtS7
— NRA (@NRA)
In response, Dr. Bonne, a trauma surgeon in Newark, N.J., snapped a picture pof the waiting room and posted it to Twitter along with this message: “Hey, N.R.A., do you wanna see my lane? Here’s the chair that I sit in when I tell parents that their kids are dead.”
“And you hit send. And then what happens?” asked medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook.
“I was part of a chorus,” Dr. Bonne replied.
A chorus of thousands of medical professionals who responded #ThisIsOurLane.
“Our motto is do no harm, for physicians. But I think the community felt that harm was being done to us by that tweet,” said Dr. Lubin-Johnson.
Dr. Ranney said, “I remember sitting there and thinking, how can you lecture docs, many of whom are gun owners, about what we do and don’t know?”
Dr. Ranney is chief research officer for Affirm, an organization trying to address gun violence through the same tools doctors use to combat problems like obesity, the opioid crisis, and heart disease.
This public health approach is not new: in the 1950s, doctors worked with the auto industry to help make cars and roads safer. In the ’60 and ’70s, they spoke out against the dangers of tobacco; and in the ’80s and ’90s, to combat HIV and AIDS, they promoted safe sex and research.
Today, the focus is gun violence in all its forms. It may surprise you to know that mass shootings make up less than 1% of firearm-related deaths. The leading cause is suicide, followed by homicide, and then accidents.
But good answers on how best to prevent these deaths are hard to come by. That’s because of 1996 legislation defunding any research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promoting gun control.
Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), who appended an amendment to a spending bill disallowing government funds from beings used to, in whole or in part, advocate or promote gun control, told the House, “This is an issue of federally-funded political advocacy … a[n] attempt by the CDC to bring about gun control advocacy all over the United States.” $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget was re-allocated, and it had a chilling effect on almost all firearm research.
“What was lost was 20-some years of effort to understand and prevent a huge health problem,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, whose work on handgun violence lost government funding after Congress passed that 1996 legislation. “Consciously, deliberately, repeatedly, over and over, we turned our back on this problem. It’s as if we, as a country, had said, ‘Let’s not study motor vehicle injuries. Let’s not study heart disease or cancer or HIV/AIDS.’
“And the result, I believe, is that tens of thousands of people are dead today whose lives could have been saved if that research had been done.”
In 2018, Congress said government dollars could be used to research gun violence, just not to promote gun control. But Dr. Wintemute says federal research into gun violence is still underfunded.
While private donations for research are now increasing, Dr. Wintemute has over the years spent more than $2 million of his own money to continue his research at the University of California-Davis.
Dr. LaPook asked, “Are you a wealthy man who can afford to just do that, as a rounding error?”
“It’s not rounding error,” he laughed. “But I live a very simple life. I earn an academic sector, ER doc’s salary.”
“So, you are changing your lifestyle in order to fund this research or have in the past?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“What drives you to do that?”
“People are dying,” Dr. Wintemute replied. “Given the capacity to do it, how can I not? It really is just that simple.”
His work has led to some surprising conclusions. For example, his studies revealed that in some states comprehensive background checks as implemented had no effect on the number of firearm-related deaths. That’s in part because of a lack of communication among agencies.
“We have learned that probably hundreds of thousands of prohibiting events every year do not become part of the data that the background checks are run on,” Dr. Wintemute said.
Consider the 2017 shooting of 46 parishioners at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Due to a domestic violence conviction, the shooter should had been stopped from buying any guns, but that information was never shared with the FBUI, which oversees the background check system.
“So you think, okay, it’s not as effective as we want, but it can become effective if we do A, B, and C?” Dr. LaPook said.
“There’s no question about it,” Dr. Wintemute replied.
But it’s policy proposals from doctors on issues like background checks and registrations that concern gun-rights advocates.
Dr. LaPook said, “The point the N.R.A. was trying to make with its [“stay in your lane”] tweet was, what makes doctors experts on gun policy?”
“Doctors are not experts on gun policy unless they do their homework,” said Dr. Wintemute. “What doctors are experts on is the consequences of violence. If doctors choose to be, they can become experts on policy.”
When asked if advocating for gun control part of the mission of Affirm, Dr. Megan Ranney said no. “This is about stopping shooters before they shoot,” she said.
The NRA did not respond to “Sunday Morning”‘s repeated requests for an on-camera interview. However, in a phone conversation earlier this year, two representatives said the organization does support research into gun-related violence, but expressed concern that – say what they will – the ultimate goal of many who advocate such research is to take away the guns of responsible citizens.
Dr. Ronnie Stewart said, “We’re not well-served by this overly-simplistic view of simply two sides fighting each other. We have to work together. And that includes engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.”
For these doctors, the issue isn’t about whose lane it is; it’s about what they can do.
As Dr. Stephanie Boone said, “I know that the house of medicine can fix this.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) today declared that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which surfaced in August 2018, is an international emergency. The declaration raises the outbreak’s visibility and public health officials hope it will galvanize the international community to fight the spread of the frequently fatal disease.
“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our effort,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. “We all owe it to [current] responders … to shoulder more of the burden.”
As of today, Ebola has infected more than 2500 people in the DRC during the new outbreak, killing more than 1650. By calling the current situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, has placed it in a rare category that includes the 2009 flu pandemic, the Zika epidemic of 2016 and the 2-year Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa before it ended in 2016.
The declaration does not legally compel member states to do anything. “But it sounds a global alert,” says Lawrence Gostin, a global health lawyer at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. During the West African epidemic, for instance, the U.S. Congress supplied $5.4 billion in the months after WHO’s emergency declaration.
Even as they declared the emergency, WHO officials attempted to tamp down reactions they said could harm both the DRC’s economy and efforts to stop the outbreak. “This is still a regional emergency and [in] no way a global threat,” said Robert Steffen, the chair of the emergency committee that recommended the PHEIC designation and an epidemiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, during a press teleconference today. He added in a written statement: “It is … crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region.”
The DRC’s minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, issued a statement accepting the declaration but expressing concern about its motives and the potential impact on his country. “The Ministry hopes that this decision is not the result of the many pressures from different stakeholder groups who wanted to use this statement as an opportunity to raise funds for humanitarian actors,” Kalenga wrote. He said such funds could come “despite potentially harmful and unpredictable consequences for the affected communities that depend greatly on cross-border trade for their survival.”
Steffen’s committee previously declined three times, most recently last month, to recommend that WHO declare the outbreak an international emergency. What changed, he said today, was the 14 July diagnosis of a case of Ebola in the large, internationally connected city of Goma, from which 15,000 people cross the border into Rwanda each day; the murders last weekend of two health workers in the city that is currently the Ebola epicenter of the DRC; a recurrence of intense transmission in that same city, Beni, meaning the disease now has a geographical reach of 500 kilometers; and the failure, after 11 months, to contain the outbreak.
Funding is also at issue. In June, WHO announced its funding to fight the outbreak fell $54 million short; today, accepting the emergency committee’s recommendation, Tedros said the funds needed to stop the virus “will run to the hundreds of millions. Unless the international community steps up and funds the response now, we will be paying for this outbreak for a long time to come.” (A written report from today’s meeting added: “The global community has not contributed sustainable and adequate technical assistance, human or financial resources for outbreak response.”)
When the first known Ebola case in Goma was diagnosed this week, concern spiked about international spread. In addition to being a metropolis of nearly 2 million people where Ebola may spread quickly and be difficult to trace, Goma has an international airport. Separately today, the government of Uganda, in conjunction with WHO, issued a statement describing the case of a fish trader who died of Ebola on 15 July; she had traveled from the DRC to Uganda on 11 July before returning to the DRC.
“Although there is no evidence yet of local transmission in either Goma or Uganda, these two events represent a concerning geographical expansion of the virus,” Tedros said. The risk of spread in DRC, [and] in the region, remains very high. And the risk of spread outside the region remains low.”
Last month, the outbreak’s first known Ebola fatalities outside the DRC were reported in a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother. The two had traveled from the DRC to Uganda after attending the funeral of a relative who died from Ebola.
Health officials are also worried about the safety of those battling the outbreak. Since January, WHO has recorded 198 attacks on health facilities and health workers in the DRC, killing seven, including two workers who were murdered during the night of 13-14 July in their home in Beni. The two northeastern DRC provinces that have experienced the outbreak are also plagued by poor infrastructure, political violence, and deep community distrust of health authorities.
Josie Golding, epidemics lead at the Wellcome Trust in London applauded the declaration of the public health emergency. “There is a grave risk of a major increase in numbers or spread to new locations. … This is perhaps the most complicated epidemic the world has ever had to face, yet still the response in the DRC remains overstretched and underfunded.”
Gostin called the declaration “long overdue. Until now the world has turned a blind eye to this epidemic. WHO has been soldiering on alone, bravely alone. And it’s beyond WHO’s capacity to deal with all of this violence and community distrust.”
PHEICs are governed by the International Health Regulations, a global agreement negotiated in the wake of the 2003 SARS outbreak. The regulations, in force since 2007, stipulate that a PHEIC should be declared when an “extraordinary” situation “constitute[s] a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “potentially require[s] a coordinated international response.”
WHO officials also today addressed the thorny conflict over whether a second, experimental Ebola vaccine, in addition to a Merck vaccine that has already been given to 161,000 people in the DRC, should be deployed there now. Officials worry that Merck’s stockpile—although it is being stretched by reducing the dose of the vaccine being given to each recipient—will be depleted before the outbreak ends. But on 11 July, Kalenga gave a firm “no,” rejecting the use of any new experimental vaccine in the country because of unproven effectiveness and the potential for public confusion. (A Johnson and Johnson [J&J] vaccine that has been shown to be safe in healthy volunteers is waiting in the wings and its use has been advocated for by several infectious disease experts.)
But today, Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said the organization still supports introducing the J&J vaccine if it can win “appropriate national approval.” “The Ministry has expressed concern about introducing a second vaccine … mainly around the issue of confusion in the local population. We are working through those issues about where and when the vaccine could be used,” Ryan said.
David Heymann, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and formerly WHO’s assistant director-general for Health Security and Environment, said today’s emergency declaration may have set a precedent. “The Emergency Committee appears to have interpreted the need for funding as one of the reasons a PHEIC was called—this has not been done in the past.”
Our smartphones—we’d feel lost without them. They serve many purposes; sometimes they are a quick way to distract fussy or “bored” children and keep them occupied. There’s a growing amount of evidence, however, that the use of electronic devices can be harmful to children.
A recently published population-based study of over forty-four thousand participants looked at the effects of screen time on children aged two to seventeen years and is the newest to point to a very disturbing issue:
“After 1 h/day of use, more hours of daily screen time were associated with lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks.” (1)
Screen time included television, smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. On a scale of low use of one hour a day, moderate use at four hours a day, and high use at seven or more hours a day, the incidence of depression, anxiety, and mental illness was twice the rate for high users than low users. Even moderate users were found to experience lesser psychological well-being than low or no users of personal electronic devices. The observations in the study were consistent regardless of race, sex, and socioeconomic status.
This is particularly disturbing when you take into account that pre-teens spend an average of six hours a day in front of a screen and most teenagers average more than nine hours—and that’s apart from using computers for school work. (2)
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Poor Physical Health
The relationship between children’s screen time and poor physical health has been definitively established.
A great body of research has linked children’s excessive screen exposure to poor diet, childhood obesity, diabetes, poor sleep, and lowered general physical fitness. (3, 4, 5, 6) As we know, it’s impossible to separate physical from mental health. When someone spends an inordinate amount of time looking at a screen, necessary daily motor movement is reduced significantly. A comprehensive Canadian study found detrimental effects across the health board for children who engage in more than two hours of screen time on a daily basis and recommends no more time than that, in favor of physical activities. Children are not meant to be sedentary. (7)
Mental Health and Cognitive Development
Other research has found a relationship between impaired brain development in young children and exposure to electronic devices. The younger the child, the greater the relative rate of development; “the critical period” between birth and age three is when the neural network is most rapidly forming and laying the foundation for the rest of life. Children’s experience and environment during this time is extremely influential in how the brain grows. (8)
Higher amounts of screen time for young children has been directly associated with poor brain development and behavioral problems. (9, 10) In fact, more than two hours a day of screen time in pre-school children can delay mastery of language and cause underdeveloped memory, poor reading and math skills, and sometimes trouble distinguishing virtual from physical reality. (11)
Giving Your Child a Smartphone is Like Giving them Drugs
Giving your child a smartphone is like “giving them a gram of cocaine,” warns Mandy Saligari, a top addiction therapist working in the United Kingdom. (12)
Long periods of time spent messaging on Instagram, Snapchat or any other social app can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Some studies have shown that “coming off” smartphones can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Screen Time and Adolescents
Pre-teenagers and teens are no less at risk for harm caused by too much screen time. As children get older, their use of electronics changes from entertainment and education to social interaction—often replacing face-to-face human contact. With increased use, many adolescents become addicted to their devices, as the brain releases dopamine (the pleasure hormone) with certain visual stimuli and engagement. (13) Ninety-one percent of teens access social media on at least an occasional basis, with more than half more than once a day. (14)
This excessive use of electronic devices can cause a hormone imbalance and affect neurotransmitters in the brain. This imbalance can affect behavioral and emotional responses; addicted adolescents can experience anxiety, depression, impulsivity, and insomnia. (15) “Facebook Depression” is a real condition characterized by mental health and self-esteem issues.
From an article published by the American Psychological Association:
“[Among students in grades 8, 10, and 12] psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest.” (16)
Further, adolescents who spend a lot of time on their smartphones can develop “text neck”: a repetitive strain injury caused by hunching over a handheld device. Muscle pain in the neck, shoulders, and back can result from the commonly-assumed head-forward posture. The Cleveland Clinic reports that an increasing number of teens and pre-teens are being treated for pain associated with this condition. If left unaddressed, “text neck” can create other musculoskeletal problems, including respiratory, heart, and circulatory issues. (17)
Additionally, physical manifestations of cell phone dependence or addiction can include the development of vision, hearing, and tactile problems. Common behaviors associated with other types of addiction (including substance abuse and gambling) have been linked to teens’ screen addiction as well. (18)
Screen Time Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following daily maximum screen time limits for children:
Digital media has its place in children’s lives, as long as it doesn’t replace real-life experience or interactive learning and personal relationships. The consequences of overuse can influence children’s physical and mental health in the short and long terms.
The children who have been detained in overcrowded, squalid migrant camps at the border aren’t just facing poor living conditions. They are also facing higher risks of serious mental health problems, some of which could be irreparable.
The big picture: Children are fleeing life-or-death situations in their home countries, and instead of healing their psychological and emotional trauma, federal officials are exacerbating the damage through means that the medical community views as flagrant violations of medical ethics.
The literature is clear: People who seek asylum and are detained in immigration camps, especially children, suffer “severe mental health consequences.” Those include detachment, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which put them at higher risk for committing suicide.
What they’re saying: Medical professionals remain appalled at what they’ve seen and are raising alarms the U.S. immigration system is still needlessly hurting the already vulnerable mental health of these kids.
Marsha Griffin, a pediatrician in Texas, visited the Ursula detention center in late June with colleagues from the American Academy of Pediatrics. She recalled a young boy in a cage crying because his father had been taken to court and he had lost his aunt’s phone number. Another child relinquished his space blanket, saying it led to nightmares. “This is child abuse and medical neglect,” Griffin said.
Between the lines: Parents and other adult caregivers are usually the only source of stability for children. Every expert interviewed said separating them in any capacity is psychologically damaging and morally intolerable.
“The children who are separated — I’m speechless,” said Rachel Ritvo, a child psychiatrist who has practiced at Children’s National Medical Center. “That was what was done in slavery. That’s what was done in the Holocaust.”
The bottom line: “Most kids will have lasting scars from what they have seen or are enduring right now,” said Wes Boyd, a psychiatrist and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School who has evaluated more than 100 asylum seekers in the past decade. “They’re going to need as much medical help as they do legal help.”
It was an early summer morning at the San Ysidro Health Center, situated on the Mexican border. A flu outbreak gripped a nearby ICE detention center, where a larger humanitarian crisis continued to unfold, threatening the future of hundreds of children.
In a small conference room, brimming with 20 or so of the San Diego area’s most diverse academic and activist minds, Nadine Burke-Harris sat at the head of the table. The 43-year-old pediatrician from San Francisco was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become California’s first-ever state surgeon general in February. The role is part policymaker, part spokesperson, and full-time advocate for the state’s public health. All of which were needed to protect children at the border, as Burke-Harris later opined in the Washington Post.
In a country where Black people, immigrants, and women all report being unseen by medicine—in research, in practice, and in policy—Burke-Harris is all three. And she is poised to become one of the most powerful women in U.S. state-level government. Ever.
With that new leverage, Burke-Harris has heaved her political and medical capital not toward the expected battle cries—curing cancer, ending HIV infection, or undoing the opioid crisis—but on an affliction which most people don’t even know they experience: toxic stress. “I am not a surgeon general who is going to just tell people to eat right and exercise,” she said.
To Burke-Harris, toxic stress is not about enduring a long line at Starbucks, being ghosted, gentrification, or negativity. It cannot be cured by a warm bath, a juice cleanse, exercise, or meditation. It’s what she calls “higher allostatic load”: the ongoing wear and tear from structural instability, and it bears heavily on people of color, women, queer people, homeless people, poor people, and anyone whose existence is systematically marginalized. This is called John Henryism or weathering, and is worse than a cradle-to-grave crisis: It’s womb-to-grave.
Burke-Harris, pictured left, visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor
Black women in the U.S. have double to triple the likelihood of giving birth to a premature child as their white counterparts, quadruple the risk of dying in childbirth, and double the risk of their infant dying within the first year after birth. Meanwhile, a 2018 research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association flagged the suicide risk of black boys aged 5 to 11 as triple that of white boys. Working-class men of color who escape the school-to-prison for-profit pipeline must try 16 times harder to get a therapy appointment than a middle-class white woman. A 2016 Journal of Health and Social Behavior study found that 30 percent of therapists responded to calls for help from middle-class white people, 21 percent to middle-class black women, and 13 percent to middle-class black men.
It’s a good thing, then, that Burke-Harris has been readying herself for a role like this for her whole adult life. Burke-Harris was born in Canada to Jamaican parents; her father brought the family to Palo Alto when he got a Fulbright to teach biochemistry at Stanford. But she knows what it feels like to never feel quite settled in a country. She watched her mother nurse a brother’s 105-degree fever rather than go to the hospital, fearing it might endanger their immigration status. Nonetheless, she climbed quickly: undergrad at Berkeley, medical school at UC Davis, a public health degree at Harvard, and a residency at Stanford, where she was the only black person in her class. In medical school, someone assuming she was a janitor barked that she should “get a mop and mop up that mess.” She declined.
When asked if it’s stressful—as a public official, as a woman, as a minority, as an immigrant—to shoulder California’s hopes, she resists. “Why would I choose that when I can choose joy?” she said.
But Burke-Harris isn’t an advocate in the way one might presume. At the luncheon in San Diego, her telling of a story about an asthmatic 10-year-old girl took a sharp turn from anecdote to diagnosis, casually racing through medical specifications. She paused. “I’m new to public office,” she said unapologetically. “I’m a doctor.” The room erupted in laughter—Burke-Harris’s as well.
She debuted in the national consciousness as many these days do, via a viral video. In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times since it posted in 2015—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. “Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the risk of heart disease and lung cancer,” she said, “and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.” The talk was about childhood trauma and toxic stress, which she later outlined in more detail in her book, The Deepest Well. The clinic she ran in one of the worst neighborhoods in San Francisco has been envied nationally and mimicked—badly—in New York.
But for all her scientific rigor, she is full of surprises. “Did you see Night School?” she asked me in the car, racing between back-to-back meetings. “There’s a scene in there where Tiffany Haddish asks Kevin Hart ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ I’m probably the only person who cheered the medical accuracy there.”
Her friends say it’s not by chance that she reached this level. “Even back then, it was clear that she was guided by a fierce desire to help those who could not help themselves,” said Vivek Murthy, who, at 37, became the nation’s youngest-ever U.S. Surgeon General in 2014. Murthy and Harris-Burke are fellow alumni in the Soros Fellow program and share a dorky coffee mug with their faces on it. And they are aligned on their approach to health. “For most people and policymakers, prevention is less tangible than treatment,” Murthy said. “It’s much easier to picture treating someone with a heart attack than it is to imagine altering the complex threads that determine whether a future heart attack occurs.”
Kimberlydawn Wisdom is Michigan’s state surgeon general, the first state SG in the country, and a close friend. She said Burke-Harris’ appointment is a dream outcome. “California has the power to change the game as no other state,” Wisdom said. “Suddenly I can picture, in my own lifetime, every state and territory having their own surgeon general. It’s just too bad there’s only one Nadine. She’s proof that we’re evolving as a society to include not just diversity but also different perspectives, the true strength of real diversity.”
In her TED talk—watched 2.3 million times—she discussed a kind of man-made pathogen tied to 7 out of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S.
California’s reputation as a game-changer is well-earned. In 1990, San Luis Obispo, nestled in the central part of the state, became the first city in the world to ban all indoor smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants; California was the first state to ban smoking in the workplace in 1995 and, in June, Beverly Hills became the first U.S. city to ban tobacco sales.
California similarly has been a leader in requiring LGBTQ history in schools and banning gay conversion therapy, pushing for over-the-counter access to PrEP for HIV, legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, and pioneering needle exchanges. Pregnant Californians are entitled to four months of paid leave and new parents get three months (unpaid) to bond with their newborn, compared to the federal law, which doesn’t protect any amount of time. This year, California also passed a law much more revealing of baked-in bigotry: it became the first state to ban race-based hair discrimination.
Back in San Ysidro, Burke-Harris toured a maternal health building, complimenting breastfeeding posters (some in Tagalog), praising a cooking program that teaches recipes based on local grocery coupons, and asking lab technicians what software they’re using. But it was later, meeting with other pediatric activists, that the impact of her training became clear. “Working with children, we’re working with families and working with generations,” she said.”There’s a built-in comprehensiveness.” It makes for one hell of a training ground for public policy.
But before launching any new programs, Burke-Harris wants more data, so she helped pass a law requiring all recipients of Medicaid in California to have their Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores evaluated and reported. This provides a metric through which to measure toxic stress.The program is $45 million to implement and $60 million to follow through over three years.
Burke-Harris visiting with community members. Image: Office of the Governor
That’s music to Bruce Baldwin’s ears. Baldwin, a 63-year-old tobacco prevention treatment coordinator in California’s rural north, always thought early experimentation with alcohol and stronger drugs—beginning at 12—derailed his life. People would tell him to “be a man, tough it out.” But then he got sober, and his problems remained. It was only with more awareness that he realized his ACE score—the impact of an impoverished childhood without a mother—played a part too. “ACE scores go back further than you can even remember. Your body remembers, though.” He’s hoping Burke-Harris’ impact will help more people like him. “She changed my life with a YouTube video,” he said of her TED talk. “Imagine what she’ll be able to do with real power.”
As both of us packed our things into TSA trays at San Diego’s airport, I asked Burke-Harris to name something she wanted to be common knowledge a generation from now. “Heart attacks start in childhood,” she said without hesitation. “That’s why this is so important. It is the root of the root of pretty much every root. It’s where, how, and why everything begins.”
I asked her about her frequent analogy that toxic stress will be for the 21st century what infectious diseases were to the 20th century. Does that mean her goal is to be the Jonas Salk of our time?
“Yes,” she said with searing determination, her eyes aglow with the superpower of being seen. “That’s exactly what I want to do.”
LIVERPOOL, England — No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. That’s the claim coming out of the United Kingdom that is sure to ruffle some psychologists’ feathers.
More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before. Multiple factors can be attributed to this rise; many people blame the popularity of social media and increased screen time, but it is also worth considering that in today’s day and age more people may be willing to admit they are having mental health issues in the first place. Whatever the reason, it is generally believed that a psychiatric diagnosis is the first step to recovery.
That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.
Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the definitive guide for mental health professionals, and provides descriptions for all mental health problems and their symptoms. The five chapters analyzed were: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related disorders.
Researchers came to a number of troubling conclusions. First, the study’s authors assert that there is a significant amount of overlap in symptoms between disorder diagnoses, despite the fact that each diagnosis utilizes different decision rules. Additionally, these diagnoses completely ignore the role of trauma or other unique adverse events a person may encounter in their life.
Perhaps most concerning of all, researchers say that these diagnoses tell us little to nothing about the individual patient and what type of treatments they will need. The authors ultimately conclude that this diagnostic labeling approach is “a disingenuous categorical system.”
“Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.
According to the study’s authors, the traditional diagnostic system being used today wrongly assumes that any and all mental distress is caused by a disorder, and relies far too heavily on subjective ideas about what is considered “normal.”
“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Professor John Read comments.
Half of the Democratic presidential contenders taking this week’s debate stage support Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ambitious government takeover of health care, a plan dubbed “Medicare for All.” Current polls show that as many as 70 percent of Americans are willing to jump on the Medicare for All bandwagon, so they’re just giving the people what they want.
But polls also show that Americans who are more likely to support the proposal are also less likely to understand it. When the nation faces the prospect of a total health care overhaul, that’s a frightening thought.
Many developed nations are struggling with government-managed health care, but Sanders’ proposal goes further toward a reckless single-payer system than anything ever tried around the world. The astronomical $33 trillion price tag alone, which Bernie has no concrete plan to fund, will be paid for by generations of Americans. Costs aside, the rosy benefits under Bernie’s proposal, in which the government supposedly covers everything from surgery to dental care, would prove costly in more ways than one.
While many developed nations are currently struggling with their single-payer systems, no one has ever attempted a program as far-reaching as Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal, which seeks to abolish all private insurance and replace it with a government-managed system that completely pays for all procedures. According to its proponents, including leading presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, organizing all insurance under the government would reduce administrative costs. But in reality, we’d simply be throwing gasoline on a fire.
For one thing, the U.S. government doesn’t have a stellar record of efficiency or quality in health-care management. Just look at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ utter neglect of veteran’s healthcare. Even if Sanders could miraculously fix government mismanagement, his idea of eliminating all cost-sharing between the insurer and the health-care consumer has been proven to worsen costs.
Already, the majority of our health-care spending goes toward only 5 percent of the population, most of whom suffer from preventable chronic illnesses. When President Obama eliminated surcharges for pre-existing conditions, people lost their financial reward for living healthily. Unsurprisingly, life expectancies have fallen in the past years (due to preventable conditions), and health-care costs have grown. Today, over half of health-care is spent on 5 percent of the population, largely on preventable chronic conditions.
Bernie and co. are now proposing to take this failed idea to an extreme: eliminating all personal responsibility for health care. Under his plan, consumers could get a medical procedure done, or new glasses, orthotics, or teeth cleanings, all for free, whether or not the procedures are medically necessary.
An extensive economic study by the RAND Corporation proved just as much: without cost-sharing, consumers are likely to drive up the tab by getting more care than they need. In other words, Bernie’s plan would cost even more than $33 trillion. Although, at that point, what’s a few trillion dollars anyway—right?
The alternative Bernie could offer—rationing services—would be equally harmful. Many nations with single-payer have already been forced to ration their care due to the overwhelming burden of paying for everyone. In Canada, more than 1 million people are waiting for some type of procedure. In the United Kingdom, people are unable to receive a life-changing corrective surgery for their blindness.
To strike a balance between draconian rationing and prodigal spending, the United States has, for decades, successfully employed a freer system. When people have to pay for their choices, whether that’s the choice to have an elective operation or the choice to live unhealthily, everyone makes the choice right for them—without imposing the cost of their choice on anyone else. While 71 percent of Americans appreciate their current private insurance, under Bernie’s plan, they’d no longer have that choice.
Now that many top Democratic presidential hopefuls have rallied behind Bernie’s radical proposal, the American voter is left with their own choice: Do we want an expensive and deeply flawed overhaul of a life-saving sector, or should we continue to try and fix our free market system, which has produced the best specialty care in the world?
If the folks on this week’s debate stage get their way, this may be the last health-care decision you ever get to make.
Dates have long been used as sweeteners and a quick snack, or meal even, for centuries. They are cholesterol-free and very low in fat. Plus they’re energy boosters, making them a suitable snack for the health-conscious. Also, they’re rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, A1 and C, proteins, dietary fiber, iron (11 percent), potassium (16 percent), calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. The soluble and insoluble fibers and amino acids present in dates can also help to improve the digestive system.
Despite these benefits, one cup of dates has around 29 mg of fructose and a high glycemic index, which can increase blood sugar levels significantly. So, why do many people who choose to eliminate excess sugars from their lifestyle still consume dates? Well, it seems that dates are naturally rich in nutrition despite being rich in fructose, so there’s a trade-off. Some even consider dates the most ideal food.
As you can see, there are 61 grams of carbohydrates in a serving size and only 6 grams of fiber to counteract those carbs. Even though there is not that much fiber, still, all of the other ingredients, vitamins, and minerals make dates benefit the body immensely. How? Well, as aforementioned, the magnesium found in dates can reduce blood pressure, and they have anti-inflammatory benefits, reducing inflammation in the arterial walls and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other inflammation-related health ailments.
Ultimately, dates are good for overall health despite their fructose concentration. Even if your diet is a sugar-free one, devoid of high-fructose corn syrup, agave, honey, coconut sugar, and cane sugar, you probably still eat fruit, and dates are a fruit too, with loads of benefits. When picking out your dates, look for plump ones with unbroken, smoothly wrinkled skins, and avoid those that smell rancid or are hardened. Dried dates keep for up to a year in the refrigerator while fresh dates should be refrigerated in tight, sealed containers and can keep for up to eight months.
Next time you need to sweeten a plant-based recipe, make your own energy bars, or mask the green flavor in your smoothies, look no further than the humble date. Their lovely flavor and beneficial qualities bring sweetness to any food. Sure, they aren’t sugar-free, but they won’t hurt your efforts to reduce your sugar. What you really want to do is reduce artificial and refined sugars from your diet, not the beautiful, natural sugars in whole dates.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
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Sure, she can often drive you crazy by using your stuff without asking permission, singing annoyingly, or taking the last piece of candy. At the same time, however, she is one of your closest, most trusted supporters, a true friend, a play buddy, and a great accomplice in pranks.
Of course, we could be listing such wonderful sister qualities endlessly.
But what many people don’t think about is the connection between having a sister and our mental health.
So, if you haven’t called your sister recently to tell her how much you love her, you are about to be given a good reason to do so. Sisters can improve our mental health, and this is how it all works.
А 2010 Brigham Young University Brigham Young University study discovered having a sibling encouraged children to be more kind and helpful. And apparently, if you have a sister, regardless of the age gap, it’s even better.
The research involved 395 families with two or more children, including at least one child between the ages 10 and 14. The adolescent child was filmed while giving answers to questions about a sibling closest in age. A year later, researchers followed up with the families.
“What we know suggests that sisters play a role in promoting positive mental health,” Alex Jensen, an assistant professor at the School of Family Life at BYU, told Motherly, “and later in life they often do more to keep families in contact with one another after the parents pass.”
In addition, the study discovered that having a sister can help you become a kinder and more giving person.
This is due to the fact that sisters promote positive social behaviors such as altruism and compassion when they show love and affection.
But that doesn’t mean that brothers don’t matter. The study found that loving siblings impact each other positively no matter their gender or age differences.
“Sibling affection from either gender was related to less delinquency and more pro-social behaviors like greater kindness and generosity, volunteering, and helping others,” the study’s lead author, BYU professor Laura Padilla-Walker, told ABC News. “Even if there is a little bit of fighting, as long as they have affection, the positive will win out. If siblings get in a fight, they have to regulate emotions. That’s an important skill to learn for later in life.”
Do you have a sibling? If so, how would you describe your relationship? Share your stories with us in the comment section below.
The state of the back and the blood circulation in the pelvis is the basis of female health. Poor blood and lymph circulation can cause all sorts of different problems like gynecological diseases, belly pain, pain in the lower back, hemorrhoids, sexual disorders, and problems with the intestines. In yoga, there are exercises that first and foremost impact important female body functions and can prevent some health issues.
We at Bright Side have collected the basic asanas that help the body to recover and feel great. And the best time to do them is right in the middle of the day — if that’s not possible, you can do them any time that’s convenient for you.
How to do it. Sit straight, put your feet together, and spread the knees out to the sides, lowering them as close to the floor as you can. You can lean on the wall with your shoulder blades in order to control your posture. The lower back shouldn’t touch the wall. Stretch upward.
The time: 1-3 minutes.
The effect: Relieving tension from the belly and the inside of the hips, increasing the mobility of the hip joints, and stabilizing the menstrual cycle.
How to do it. Sit down on a plain surface, the back should be straight, and the legs should be crossed so the knees are on top of the feet. Put your left arm behind you and put your right arm on your left knee. When breathing in, stretch upward, and do a twist, hold it for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
The time: 2 minutes.
The effect: Relaxing the back, improving digestion, and decreasing the waist size.
3. Сandlestick at the wall
How to do it. While lying on your back, lift your legs, straighten them, and put them against the wall, you can spread them at shoulder width. Spread your hands to the sides. Relax, stretch your legs, and slowly breathe in, expanding your rib cage and melting your shoulder blades into the ground. Hold this position and try to breathe slowly and deep.
The time: 3–5 minutes.
The effect: Opening the chest, relaxing the shoulders and the belly, increasing the circulation of the lymphatic fluid, decreasing leg swelling, stimulation of the organs of the abdomen, and getting rid of tiredness and bad moods.
4. Hero pose
How to do it. Sit on your knees and then slowly release the legs and lower your buttocks between your heels, the feet should be on the sides of the hips. Press your palms together in prayer position in front of your body. Stretch your neck and your back and open your chest. Breathe deep.
The time: 1 minute.
The effect: Stretching the hip muscles and the muscles between your legs, relieving period pain, and improving the mobility of hip joints.
How to do it. Sit down with your back straight and spread your legs as wide as you can. When breathing in, lift your hands up. When breathing out, lean forward as much as you can, but don’t round your back, instead only lean in as much as you can while keeping your back straight.
The time: 1 minutes, 8–10 times.
The effect: Making the back stronger, getting rid of spasms in the groin, stimulating blood circulation in the pelvis, improving the function of the ovaries, regulating the menstrual cycle, and preventing cellulite.
6. Downward facing hero pose
How to do it. Sit on a mat, your pelvis should be on your heels, spread the knees to the sides — keeping the feet together, lean forward with your chest. Stretch your hands forward as far as you can, put your forehead to the floor, hold this position.
The time: 1 minute.
The effect: Relaxing the lower back and the neck and stimulating blood circulation in the small pelvis area.
7. Downward facing dog
How to do it. From a sitting position on your heels with your knees spread to the sides, put your hands as far forward as you can, stretching well. Lift your pelvis, and straighten your arms and legs. Move the weight of your body to the legs, trying to put the heels on the floor. Keep your legs and back straight, without bending them or rounding the back.
The time: 2 times, 30 seconds each.
The effect: Regeneration of brain cells, bringing color to the face, stretching the back of the hips, decreasing the signs of cellulite, stretching the back, and removing neck spasms.
8. Dancer’s pose
How to do it. From a standing position, lift your right leg behind you, bend it at the knee and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull it back and up. Drop your right leg and move it forward, repeat on the other leg.
The time: 30–40 seconds for each leg.
The effect: Improving posture, kidney function, and metabolism.
9. Shoulder bridge
How to do it. Lie on your back, bend your legs at the knees, put your feet shoulder-width apart, and put your arms along your body. Lift the pelvis and bend the back, without lifting the shoulders, neck, or head from the floor.
The time: 1 minute.
The effect: Eliminating back pain, making the abs stronger and preventing painful periods, decreasing the amount of waist fat, and improving digestion.
How to do it. Lie on your back, and if you need to, put a small pillow or comforter under your head. Bend your knees and pull your feet as close to the pelvis as possible. Spread the knees to the sides and put the feet together. Put your hands by your sides. Relax completely when breathing out.
The time: 3 minutes.
The effect: Relaxing the muscles, a positive influence on the mood, a slow stretching of the lower back and the inside of the hips, stimulating the blood circulation in the small pelvis, and improving the circulation of the lymphatic fluid.
These exercises are also great because you don’t need any special preparation before them. You can do them at home or outside. Do you know any other effective exercises you could share with other people?
Illustrated by Natalia Okuneva-Rarakina for BrightSide.me
California becomes first state to provide health care coverage to some undocumented adults
Published 9:41 AM EDT Jul 10, 2019
In this May 9, 2019, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gestures towards a chart with proposed funding to deal with the state’s homelessness as he discusses his revised state budget during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli, AP
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to provide health care coverage to young, undocumented adults, a $98 million measure targeting almost 100,000 people.
The immigrants, ages 19 to 25, are eligible for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The law signed Tuesday was a win for Newsom, who rejected as too expensive a state Senate plan to include adults 65 and older living in the state illegally.
President Trump has called the plan “crazy.” Newsom shrugs off the criticism, calling California “the most un-Trump” state in the nation.
Newsom signed the measure the same day the state forecast an average premium increase of less than 1% for 2020 in the state’s individual insurance marketplace, the lowest such rate change in the state program’s history.
The coverage expansion and the low average premium hike are mostly being funded through restoration of the individual mandate that requires California residents to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependants. Californians who fail to purchase insurance would face a state tax penalty.
The plan is similar to a part of President Barack Obama’s health care law that Republicans in Congress eliminated as part of the 2017 overhaul to the tax code.
Not that the state is desperate for cash: California is projected to have a surplus of more than $20 billion, the largest in 20 years.
“The bold moves by Gov. Newsom and the Legislature will save Californians hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums and provide new financial assistance to middle-income Californians, which will help people get covered and stay covered,” said Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director.
Lee said California is “building on the success of the Affordable Care Act” and expanding coverage to hundreds of thousands of people. The California Immigrant Policy Center lauded the inclusion of undocumented young adults but called the plan “bittersweet.”
“The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions'” said Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
Newsom has pledged to further expand coverage in the future. The new rules are effective in January and are part of a larger effort to ensure everyone in the state has access to health insurance.
A comprehensive analysis of nearly 1,500 scientific studies, government reports, and media stories on the consequences of released Wednesday found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows the drilling method poses a profound threat to public health and the climate.
69 percent of original research studies on water quality found potential for, or actual evidence of, fracking-associated water contamination;
84 percent of original research studies on human health risks found signs of harm or indication of potential harm.
“There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends,” the Compendium states.
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York, said in a statement that “the case against fracking becomes more damning” with the publication of each edition of the Compendium.
“As the science continues to come in, early inklings of harm have converged into a wide river of corroborating evidence,” said Steingraber. “All together, the data show that fracking impairs the health of people who live nearby, especially pregnant women, and swings a wrecking ball at the climate. We urgently call on political leaders to act on the knowledge we’ve compiled.”
According to the Compendium, the first edition of which was published in 2014, the “feverish pace” of U.S. fossil fuel extraction — which has accelerated under President Donald Trump — “has spurred a massive build-out of fracking infrastructure,” putting air quality and water sources at risk in communities across the United States.
In addition to the harmful effects of fracking on those who live near oil and gas development projects, the Compendium found, the drilling practice is “also at odds with the emerging scientific consensus on the scale and tempo of necessary climate change mitigation and with rising public alarm about the impending climate crisis that this consensus has amplified.”
“Despite efforts by the gas industry to suppress all health data on fracking, the Compendium documents the serious harm fracking holds for pregnant women, children, and those with respiratory disease,” Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, interim executive director of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a statement. “We need to ban fracking.”
The sixth edition of the Compendium comes just days after more than 100 environmental groups sent a letter urging Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to investigate the link between fracking and the emergence of rare childhood cancers in rural Pennsylvania counties.
As Steingraber — one of the letter’s signatories — told online environmental outlet The Daily Climate on Wednesday, much of the data in the Compendium comes from Pennsylvania, which is home to over 100,000 active oil and gas wells.
“What makes fracking different from any other industry I’ve studied in public health is that there’s no industrial zone,” Steingraber said. “It’s taking place literally in our backyards, and unfortunately some of the best evidence for both polluting emissions and emerging health crises is coming out of southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Thousands of illegal immigrants in California will be able to receive state-funded health insurance under a law signed Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The law, SB-104, extends health care benefits to everyone 19 to 25 years of age who is income eligible, regardless of their immigration status, CNN reported.
Officials have estimated about 90,000 people will be covered by the law, with a cost of about $98 million per year. Coverage will take effect in 2020. California will be restoring the individual mandate to have health insurance in order to collect revenue that can pay for the new law. The Obamacare mandate was removed nationally by the GOP-controlled Congress in 2017.
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California already covers health care for illegal immigrants under 19.
Although Newsom balked at a $3.4 billion-per-year proposal to expand health care coverage for illegal immigrants regardless of age, he has also said that he will increase coverage.
President Donald Trump has condemned the law.
California doesn’t “treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants,” he told reporters on Monday, the Associated Press reported.
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“At what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they are doing. And it’s mean. And it’s very unfair to our citizens, and we’re going to stop it. But we may need an election to stop it, and we may need to get back the House,” Trump said.
But Newsom said California is right where he wants it to be.
Should illegal immigrants get taxpayer-funded health insurance?
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“If you believe in universal health care, you believe in universal health care. We are the most un-Trump state in America when it comes to health policy,” Newsom said, according to NPR.
At least one Republican state legislator foretold troubles from the law.
“We are going to be a magnet that is going to further attract people to a state of California that’s willing to write a blank check to anyone that wants to come here,” state Sen. Jeff Stone said.
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“We are doing a disservice to citizens who legally call California their home.”
CNN earlier this month released the results of a national poll on giving illegal immigrants government-funded health care. The poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed were opposed to giving health care to illegal immigrants while 38 percent supported the concept.
Government-funded health care for illegal immigrants has become a central issue as Democrats seek to select their 2020 presidential nominees.
Linda J. Blumberg of the Urban Institute is one of the many critics of insurance for all and said it might create “strong incentives for people with serious health problems to enter the country or remain longer than their visas allow in order to get government-funded care,” The New York Times reported.
A new survey out this week is an important step forward to demolishing one of the principle talking points against Medicare for All.
No doubt, you’ve heard this one: “People love their insurance! Under Medicare for All, you’ll lose your private insurance and your doctor.” Uh, no.
A Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted after the first Democratic presidential primary debates found that when people hear the real story—that under Medicare for All you can keep your preferred doctors and hospitals, support climbs to a clear majority of 55 percent. Support among Democrats gets to 78 percent.
Even if you go to a provider that is “in your network,” you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is “out of network.” That’s not choice, it’s robbery.
For independents it’s a big leap of 14 points, up to 56 percent support. That support eclipses the disinformation peddled by the health care industry, their lobbyists, their mouthpieces in Congress—and too many in the media—that if you lose your private insurance you will lose your preferred doctor or other provider.
The inconvenient truth for the lobbyists and their cheerleaders is that Medicare for All offers real choice, not the illusion of choice under the profit-focused insurance system. Medicare for All means one health card, good anywhere. You can go to any doctor, any hospital or clinic or other provider you prefer.
That, of course, is the opposite of how the present, market-based, insurance system works.
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Nearly all private insurance corporations restrict choice by forcing you into a narrow network, with a limited set of doctors and hospitals that are part of their network, usually dictated by a medical group that contracts with the insurer. Many insurance companies actually re-negotiate with the medical group every year, meaning you get handed a new network and can overnight lose that trusted doctor, the specialists you count on, and which hospitals are in your narrow network.
It gets worse. If you “choose” to go outside the network, to a provider you liked before, or one closer to home, the insurance company slams you with a huge additional charge, or you get rejected when you walk in the door.
Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.
Further, even if you go to a provider that is “in your network,” you may still get hammered with a surprise medical bill by a physician, or other provider on call that night at the hospital, or lab or supplier the hospital generally uses who is “out of network.” That’s not choice, it’s robbery, and generally you don’t know you were “out of network” until the bill comes. Check out why so many people are starting GoFundMe accounts to pay for medical bills when they thought they were “in network.”
Under Medicare for All, the two actual bills, H.R. 1384 in the House and S. 1129 in the Senate, narrow networks are gone. All networks are gone. So are all surprise medical bills. So are all out of network charges. So are all premiums, all deductibles, all co-pays for such basics as emergency care, doctor’s visits, mental health, dental, vision, long term care, and so much more.
Nurses see the damage every day. Our patients denied care, making painful choices of whether to get the care they need, or facing catastrophe with astronomical hospital bills.
Imagine that. Under Medicare for all, real choice, guaranteed care. No wonder the desperate lobbyists and all their gang are so desperate to hide the truth.
California governor Gavin Newsom has finalized a deal with the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature to provide full health benefits to low-income illegal immigrants under the age of 26.
Newsom’s office released an outline of the state’s 2020 budget Sunday night that calls for $98 million in new annual spending to make some 90,000 previously uninsured illegal immigrants eligible for the state’s Medicaid program, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The new spending will be offset by a fine on uninsured Californians similar to the “individual mandate” imposed at the federal level under Obamacare and subsequently reversed by the Trump administration.
Cynthia Buiza, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, celebrated the expansion of health benefits for younger illegal immigrants but lamented the exclusion of elderly illegal immigrants.
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“For California’s immigrant communities, today’s budget deal is bittersweet,” Buiza said in a statement. “The exclusion of undocumented elders from the same health care their U.S. citizen neighbors are eligible for means beloved community members will suffer and die from treatable conditions. And the exclusion of many immigrants from the Earned Income Tax Credit will perpetuate the crisis of economic inequality in our state.”
The provision of health care to young illegal immigrants represents a compromise between Newsom and Democrats in the legislature who have long demanded that the budget include funds to provide benefits to all California residents regardless of immigration status.
The budget, which must still pass a final vote in the legislature in the coming weeks, includes a total $213 billion in annual spending, which California Democrats believe they are well-positioned to cover considering this year’s budget surplus.
“The budget agreement we’re finalizing tonight builds on the strong budget proposal of the governor, while adding significant legislative priorities,” said Democratic state senator Holly Mitchell, who leads the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. “The budget agreement maintains our agreement to responsible budgeting, which includes the largest reserves in history — over $20 billion — finally paying off the remaining wall of debt from the Great Recession and making supplemental pension payments.”
Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s illegal immigrants reside in California and that number is rising as record numbers of asylum-seekers continue to arrive at the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego each day. In 2018, half of all births in California were paid for by the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, and 30 percent of those babies were born to mothers in the country illegally.
Most Americans don’t believe that their tax dollars should go to fund health care benefits for those who have entered the country illegally, but a surprisingly high minority does, according to a new CNN poll.
The CNN survey of 1,613 American adults — conducted June 28-30 by independent research company SSRS — found that while 58 percent of Americans are opposed to the idea of taxpayer-funded health insurance for illegal aliens, 38 percent of respondents were on board with the idea; 3 percent were undecided.
Unsurprisingly, two-thirds (66 percent) of Democrats surveyed said they supported taxpayer-backed health insurance for illegal immigrants, while only a scant 10 percent of self-described Republicans supported it. And 63 percent of independents said they opposed the idea, as opposed to the 34 percent in favor of it.
The poll also found similar enthusiasm levels between Republicans and Democrats on voting in next year’s presidential election. At least 75 percent of Democrats answered that they were “extremely/very enthusiastic” compared to 73 percent of Republicans.
The CNN/SSRS poll has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.
Not so long ago, a debate about whether or not to open up publicly funded health insurance benefits to illegal aliens would have sounded like the satire of past election cycles, but that’s just where things are right now in the 2020 Democratic primary.
Meanwhile, the state of California has gone out ahead of the 2020 Democratic field and has begun offering state medical benefits to illegal alien adults. President Donald Trump criticized the move Monday, telling reporters that California’s elected officials “don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants.“
Estimates put the current cost of illegal immigration to the U.S. somewhere between $75 billion and $150 billion every year; however, those estimates don’t account for the record-breaking border numbers the U.S. has seen over the last few months or what will happen if the U.S. incentivizes even more illegal immigration with new health care entitlements.
Sanford Health, top surgeon defrauded millions from government, complaint alleges
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Published 3:28 PM EDT Jun 28, 2019
The Sanford Medical Center stands on Friday, June 28, in Sioux Falls.
Erin Bormett / Argus Leader
Sanford Health and one of its most lucrative surgeons have been accused of defrauding the federal government out of millions of dollars while also harming patients in a stunning complaint filed in federal court.
The 111-page complaint, filed by two Sanford doctors in August 2016, was unsealed by a federal judge late Thursday. On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota filed a motion to intervene in the case, bringing the specter of government sanctions and even criminal charges.
The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Wilson Asfora, a neurosurgeon with Sanford, defrauded the federal government by performing unnecessary spine surgeries. The complaint also alleges that Asfora and Sanford had an elaborate scheme in which Sanford bought medical devices from a company owned by Asfora, and that Asfora then implanted the devices in patients, creating an incentive to perform unnecessary surgeries and a violation of federal law.
Dr. Wilson Asfora in 2009.
Argus Leader file photo
More: Sanford Health announces massive merger plan with Iowa’s UnityPoint Health
The court filing, brought by two of Asfora’s colleagues, Drs. Dustin Bechtold and Bryan Wellman, alleges that Sanford’s leadership ignored complaints from doctors and intentionally covered up Asfora’s surgical errors. It also alleges that Sanford and Asfora billed Medicare and other programs for care that was never provided. Those accusations, if true, could get the health system suspended from government health programs, including Medicare, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues.
The filing says that Sanford’s executive leadership, including President and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft, and doctors who were supposed to ensure patient safety, ignored repeated warnings and complaints that Asfora was performing unnecessary surgeries.
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Dr. Allison Suttle, Sanford’s chief medical officer, denied the allegations in a statement to the Argus Leader.
“Dr. Wilson Asfora is an exceptionally talented surgeon who provides excellent care to his patients,” she said. “His unique skills and expertise are a great asset to our region. He has saved the lives of hundreds of patients. The allegations in this lawsuit have been investigated and were found to have no merit. Sanford Health is confident in the care provided to our patients and will continue to provide quality care. We will vigorously defend this baseless suit.”
At one point, in October, 2015, Sanford fired Asfora. The complaint says that Asfora ran into Wellman and another spine surgeon, Dr. Troy Gust, and told them he had “dirt and skeletons” on Sanford. Asfora predicted he would be reinstated, and he was two weeks later.
The complaint includes 50 pages of accounts in which Asfora is alleged to have performed unnecessary surgeries on patients. In those accounts, Asfora not only performed the surgeries, but he also filled patients with unnecessary screws and medical devices manufactured by his company, Medical Designs, that were then billed to the federal government.
Asfora and Sanford, the complaint alleges, received kickbacks by using medical implants in unnecessary surgeries. Medical Designs produced medical screws and spacers used in spinal fusion surgeries. The complaint alleges that Asfora used those devices on spinal fusion surgeries that were unnecessary in order to generate profits for himself.
“One level,” says a summary of one patient’s fusion, “was all that was medically necessary for this patient. Dr. Asfora put in three additional cages, which this patient did not need, but which Dr. Asfora personally benefited from financially. Dr. Asfora never saw this patient prior to surgery. Three of these levels were off-label, medically unnecessary, and medically tainted by kickbacks.”
It’s not the first time that Asfora and Sanford have been in trouble with violating federal anti-kickback laws. An Argus Leader investigation in 2014 revealed that Asfora formed an entity known as a Physician Owned Distributorship. PODs allow their doctor-owners to profit off of devices that they implant, which critics say increases the likelihood of doctors performing surgeries for financial gain.
Sanford and Asfora agreed to pay $625,000 in fines for violating anti-kickback rules.
Surgeons with the Orthopedic Institute had a separate POD, but they abandoned their POD amid concerns about violating federal law. Asfora continued his POD, which the complaint attributes to more frequent and aggressive surgeries performed by Asfora.
Watermelon is one of my all-time favorite fruits. It is very cleansing, alkalizing and mineralizing—excellent for flushing out the kidneys and bladder, healing and preventing a wide range of ailments.
Watermelon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family which comprises fruits like cantaloupe, pumpkin and similar plants that grow on vines on the ground.
Watermelons can be round, oblong or spherical in shape; light to dark green in color, with lighter mottling stripes.
Its succulent flesh is commonly bright red in color but there are also other varieties with dark brown, orange, yellow, pink and even white flesh.
Watermelon Nutrition Data
The water content in watermelon is extremely high at 92%. It is rich in beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B5 and smaller amounts of B1, B2, B3 and B6.
This big fruit is a rich source of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and smaller amounts of copper, iron and zinc.
As in tomatoes, watermelon is loaded with lycopene, the red carotenoid pigment that gives the fruit its red color. This important antioxidant is powerful in neutralizing harmful free radicals in our body.
Perhaps, one of the most important compounds in watermelon is citrulline. Read on to learn more about what citrulline can do for your body.
Health Benefits of Watermelon Juice
Watermelon juice is very cleansing, alkalizing, diuretic and mineralizing.
Watermelon is so rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. The benefits of drinking watermelon juice is that it is easily digestible and the nutrients are quickly absorbed by your body at the cellular level.
Drawing from the rich antioxidant and beta-carotene, the health benefits of watermelon are immense.
It is alkalizing
Consuming foods that are highly acidic will cause your blood to be acidic, potentially lowering your immune system and increasing the chances of developing a chronic disease.
The key to fighting and preventing diseases then, is to create an alkaline environment in your body. Due to its high water content, watermelon has a very alkaline pH, making it an excellent food for reversing symptoms of acidosis (over-acidity).
Harmful pathogens—parasites, harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts—thrive in an acidic body, whereas an alkaline environment neutralizes the toxic condition, preventing cell damage and aging.
Watermelon has a 92% water content and is rich in electrolytes, making it an excellent rehydrating food. This is important, as dehydration causes the body to be acidic.
Reduces inflammation in the body
Recent studies have discovered that watermelons have 1.4x the lycopene content of tomatoes when compared in the same volume.
Lycopene is the phytonutrient in the fruit that gives it its red-pink color. And, in watermelon, this antioxidant is available in abundance.
Unlike lycopene from tomato that needs to be processed for best bioavailability, the lycopene from watermelon is available directly to the human body immediately after consumption. What this means, is that no processing of the watermelon is necessary to enjoy the benefits of lycopene.
Thanks to lycopene and other powerful nutrients in watermelon juice, they act as inhibitors for various inflammatory processes. Reducing inflammation provides relief and healing to individuals suffering from body and muscle aches, and various forms of arthritis.
Protects against asthma and allergy attacks
The presence of lycopene in high concentration in watermelons, plus its easy bioavailability, helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in cases of asthma and allergies.
Several studies reported lower rates of wheezing and allergic rhinitis in children who consumed antioxidant-rich foods such as watermelon.
Oxidative stress resulting from excessive free radicals in the body, can have a harmful effect on the airway function, causing asthma and allergy attacks. In this case, consumption of watermelon juice helps raise the immune responses in preventing attacks.
The arthritis.org website agrees that watermelon is beneficial for individuals suffering from various forms of arthritis.
Studies show that watermelon can lower C-reactive Protein (CRP)—a measure of body-wide inflammation linked to arthritis flares and heart disease.
Watermelon is rich in carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which is beneficial for individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, reducing painful inflammatory joint conditions.
Treats conditions in the renal system
Among all fruits, watermelon has the highest amount of amino acid citrulline, a word derived from citrullus, a Latin word for watermelon. This compound is found in the highest concentration in the white rind (the white matter just under the skin).
This is why it is beneficial to include the rind when juicing watermelon, especially if you have a kidney or bladder issue.
High concentrations of citrulline and vitamin C (ascorbid acid) in watermelon rind juice help to break down kidney stones, clean out the kidneys and bladder, and reduce inflammation caused by free radicals.
The citrulline in watermelon is also key in making this fruit richly hydrating and naturally diuretic. The natural diuretic effect ensures that your kidneys and bladder are effectively flushed of toxins, thus reducing fluid retention in the body.
Ladies who have PMS issues with water retention may find relief when drinking watermelon juice a week prior to their menstruation, and also prevent bloating.
At the first sign of an urinary tract infection (UTI), start drinking freshly-extracted watermelon juice—flesh, seeds, rind and all—till symptoms are gone.
Calms the gastrointestinal tract
Like most fruits, watermelon juice has a natural laxative effect that helps improve regularity, for a healthy digestive system.
Watermelon juice helps to calm the gastrointestinal tract, regulates pH levels, reduces inflammation and acidity. This makes it an excellent, healing drink for individuals suffering from acid reflux.
Watermelon juice is one of the best juices to drink when one’s constipated. If you have chronic constipation, make it a point to drink a glass of watermelon juice daily to improve regularity. This is especially useful for children who are constipated—most kids love watermelon juice and it is easy to have them drink it.
To relieve that occasional constipation, drink a big jumbo glass of watermelon juice (about 20-30 ounces) on empty stomach.
Provides electrolytes to your body
Watermelon juice is rich in various minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphorus) to replenish electrolytes lost after a good workout.
If you have any of these symptoms, chances are that you have an electrolyte imbalance: muscle aches, spasms, twitches and weakness; restlessness, frequent headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations, fatigue, numbness and pain in joints, and dizziness.
Drink watermelon juice consistently every day to supply your body with these rich minerals until your symptoms disappear.
Improves eye health
Watermelons contain high levels of beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) that is converted into vitamin A (retinol) in your body when needed.
If you’ve read that vitamin A is toxic at high levels, that is only referring to supplementary sources (synthetic) and doesn’t apply here. Dietary sources (natural foods) of vitamin A is non-toxic at all, even in high amounts.
Beta-carotene is the red pigmentation that gives watermelon flesh its color. It is an antioxidant that protects your eyes from free radicals damage.
One of the main causes of eye problems is due to low intake of antioxidants and vitamin A in one’s diet. So it makes sense that when you flood your system with watermelon juice (or other high-antioxidant juices) that is rich in these compounds, they help to nourish and improve your eye health.
Vitamin A is essential for good vision, and it protects your eyes from various eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, retinal degeneration, night blindness and the like.
Lowers the risks of strokes and heart attacks
The health benefits of watermelon is just endless. The combination of high antioxidants, lycopene and other essential vitamins and minerals in this fruit plays an important role in reducing the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Studies show that the rich nutrients in watermelon, along with lycopene are health-promoting agents that reduce risk of cardiovascular disorders.
High consumption of lycopene in watermelon has been observed to reduce the thickness of the internal layer of blood vessels, thus reducing the risk of myocardial infarction.
Risks of heart attacks, ischemic strokes and artheroslerosis are also much reduced when oxidation of LDL is prevented by drinking watermelon juice.
The diuretic effect of watermelon juice flushes out toxins and excess salt out of your body. This process causes the walls of your blood vessels to relax and widen, thus improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. This can be observed even after drinking just one glass of watermelon juice.
Eliminates toxic wastes from your body
Watermelon is one of the best fruits to be included when doing a juice cleanse. Alternatively, you can also do just a watermelon detox as it is effective for removing toxic wastes from your body that are slowing down your metabolism.
When toxins are eliminated, it is only natural that your largest organ, your skin, will have a healthy glow. You may expect clearer, smoother skin that is properly hydrated.
Individuals who suffer from itchiness on the skin as a result of acidosis toxicity, may also find relief after a watermelon juice detox.
Protects against various cancers
Watermelon is a valued source of natural antioxidants with special reference to its lycopene, ascorbic acid and citrulline. These compounds have been shown to act as protection against chronic health problems such as cancer.
In fact, watermelon has the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene has been extensively researched for its antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.
It is reported to be especially protective against cancers of the prostate, lung, colorectal, endometrial and breast.
Improves sexual health
As discussed above, drinking watermelon juice relaxes and dilates your blood vessels and increases your overall energy and stamina. This works well for athletes as well as for men who needs that extra energy in bed!
Watermelon acts as a natural viagra, according to an Italian study. Consuming watermelon juice that has high content of citrulline has been found to improve erection hardness in men suffering from mild erectile dysfunction.
In the study, men with mild erectile dysfunction (erection hardness score of 3) received L-citrulline supplementation for a month. L-citrulline is the natural form of citrulline.
50% of the men were found to have an improvement in the erection hardness score from 3 (mild ED) to 4 (normal erectile function), with no adverse effects.
Number of intercourses per month increased, and all participants reported being very satisfied with the treatment.
Aids weight loss
Like all fruits and vegetables, watermelon is very low in calories. Consumption of 100 grams of watermelon provides about 30kcal. It contains almost 92% water and 7.55% of carbohydrates, out of which 6.2% are sugars and 0.4% dietary fiber.
Eating watermelon or drinking of its juice is very satiating and fulfills your body’s need for all the nutrients that it needs. It makes you feel full for longer.
And, because watermelon helps to keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy, prevents constipation, water retention and bloating, and removes toxins from the body—these all contribute to gradual weight loss.
As your body becomes healthier, weight loss often comes naturally.
Watermelon For Individuals With Diabetes Mellitus (Type 2)
Experimental studies have indicated that patients with high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) are more prone to risks of coronary complications. Elevated oxidative stress and LDL oxidation are major contributory factors.
As discussed above, watermelon juice is excellent in countering both these conditions: oxidative stress and LDL oxidation.
Lycopene in watermelon has the potential to reduce oxidized cholesterol in diabetic state. It has the ability to decrease body glucose and raise insulin level in type 2 diabetes.
In a study, watermelon extract was administered to diabetic rats. At the end of the study, a rise in insulin level 37% whilst decline in glucose 33% were observed. The study concluded that watermelon extract is a hyperinsulinemic and hypoglycemic product.
So, can you have watermelon if you have diabetes?
The answer depends on your overall diet. If you generally watch your diet and eating foods mostly low in sugar, it would not hurt for you to eat watermelon, even drink watermelon juice in moderatioin. Here are some tips:
While watermelon extract may not be easily available (per study above), perhaps for individuals who have diabetes—opt for watermelons that are less ripe. This article tells you how to pick ripe watermelons, the opposites are true for picking unripe watermelons.
The flesh of a less ripe watermelon will be lightly pinkish, not red, and will be low in sugar content.
Wash the watermelon clean, include the watermelon rind and skin in your juicing to enjoy its full benefits of kidney cleansing.
Health Benefits of Watermelon Seeds
Eating a small amount of watermelon seeds can give you the chance to enjoy its many nutrients and benefits.
Watermelon seeds are packed full of healthy fats. These fats can decrease your appetite, help you feel full, and strengthen your hair, skin, and nails.
Watermelon seeds are rich in zinc and magnesium, two essential minerals that the vast majority of Americans do not get enough of. Zinc and magnesium can help boost your metabolism, give you more energy, and prevent depression. These minerals also support mental clarity.
Another surprising nutrient you’ll find in watermelon seeds is iron. One ounce of watermelon seeds has 25% of the iron that a grown man needs every day. Hitting your recommended daily iron intake can prevent fatigue, improve mental functioning, and prevent anemia.
Watermelon Consumption Tips
So, the question is: Is eating too much watermelon bad for you?
While watermelon is great and beneficial for all the health conditions we discussed above, eating too much of anything in the long term may have an adverse effect.
It is fine though, to eat watermelon or drink its juice for a season, therapeutically, depending on the severity of your health condition.
Here are some tips on preparing and consuming watermelon.
Some of the links I post on this site are affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). However, note that I’m recommending these products because of their quality and that I have good experience using them, not because of the commission to be made.
About Sara Ding
Sara Ding is the founder of Juicing-for-Health.com. She is a certified Wellness Health Coach, Nutritional Consultant and a Detox Specialist. She helps busy men and women identify their health issues at the root cause, in order to eliminate the problems for optimum physical/mental health and wellbeing.
Earlier this month, in one devastating algorithmic stroke, Google removed many of the top natural health and health freedom websites from their organic search results — some losing as much as 90% of their traffic.