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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Live 14 years longer…

The four keys to a longer, healthier life

ChatelaineBy James Fell | Chatelaine – Fri, 26 Aug, 2011 12:00 AM EDT

Here’s a “Well, duh!” statement for you: if you don’t smoke, eat healthfully, exercise lots, and take it easy on the booze, you’ll live longer. This is according to a new study from the Center for Disease Control, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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I guess I shouldn’t be too sarcastic, but this really just confirms a bunch of stuff that we should already know. First off, this is not the only study to make pretty much exactly the same statement. Three years ago this study of over 20,000 men and women found that precisely these same four behaviours could help you live about 14 years longer.

People want to believe that they can lose weight without exercise (or with just a little bit of time on some “miracle” machine), or that high-protein diets are key to burning fat, or that drinking alcohol is good for you, but if you used your common sense for a moment, you’d engage in those behaviours that you know – and that science proves – are beneficial:

My point in all of this: stop paying attention to the latest fads, stop making excuses for bad behaviours, and do what deep down you really know is right for living a longer, healthier life.

Finally, about that drinking thing…

I do have one hypothesis, however, and that it might be that my thirst for the hooch is indirectly good for me because it is a reflection of my mindset. I’ve heard it bandied about that people who like to drink are adventure seekers. These same people can also seek adventure with lots of intense activity. I don’t know of any studies that show this, but it’s been suggested that highly active people are more likely to be drinkers than teetotalers.

It’s all food, and drink, for thought.

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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Health, Lifestyles

 

Inequity of Inequality

Black Scientists Receive Less Funding Than Whites

by Amelia T. August 21, 2011 This article was originally posted in Care2 under “the civil rights cause”

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Even with equal training and research records, black scientists still may have a tougher time getting grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to a new study.  This is despite the fact that hospitals and medical schools are ostensibly trying to correct the dearth of minorities among doctors and scientific researchers.

According to ABC,  ”the study found a 10 percentage point gap between black and white researchers in winning the most common type of NIH grant — even though all held doctorate degrees and had similar research experience. Between 2000 and 2006, about 27 percent of white applicants won funding compared with about 17 percent of blacks.”  The study also found differences among Asian and Hispanic researchers, but not the same degree.

That’s a pretty shocking disparity, given that the researchers had the same qualifications.  NIH director Francis Collins said that the data was “deeply troubling.”  But it may be more difficult to determine why black researchers seem to be receiving less funding.

“That’s the frustrating thing about this paper—in most cases, you can come up with a reasonable explanation looking at the observable characteristics, and we haven’t been able to,” explained Donna Ginther, an economics professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence and the lead researcher.

Collins seems dedicated to trying a variety of solutions.  They will test to see if outcomes change if officials make a deliberate effort to purge applications of all hints of the applicant’s race.  There will also be new efforts to train review panelists to overcome racial bias.

In his comments about the study, Collins seemed genuinely chagrined.  Black scientists represent only 1.2% of the lab heads funded by the NIH.  ”These data suggest we are failing even the ones who do make it,” said Collins.

One possible factor is researchers’ likelihood to resubmit their applications.  When their applications were rejected, black researchers were less likely to try again.  This means that mentoring could be a potential solution.

Disparities like these are often due to large systemic issues that can be extremely difficult to tackle.  It’s a serious challenge, but at least Collins seems ready to conduct a rigorous investigation of just why black researchers receive less funding.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in Causes, Diversity To Inclusion

 

Meat comes from where???

by Kayla Coleman August 19, 2011 10:00 am

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In a world where Ronald McDonald once led kids to believe that hamburgers grow in “hamburger patches,” it can be tricky business explaining to kids where the meat for their hot dog, bacon or turkey sandwich comes from.

Ruby Roth’s That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is a wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated children’s book that honestly but sensitively explains the facts of meat production and the notion that animals are sentient individuals. The book is a dream for veg parents who want to explain to their kids (as the title says) “why we don’t eat animals.” It’s also controversial for parents who don’t want their kids to know the truth about meat.

I asked Ruby some questions about her wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated book, as well as the response it got:

Kayla Coleman: How did the idea for your book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals come about? Can you give us a brief description of what it’s about?

Ruby Roth: In 2005 I was teaching art at an elementary school and my students were always curious why I wasn’t drinking the milk or chowing down on the string cheese they were served at recess. When I carefully explained my choices as a vegan, they were actually really interested and had a lot of questions. So I searched for a children’s book to bring them, but couldn’t find one that wasn’t sugarcoated or that didn’t anthropomorphize animals or vegetables — the kids were too street-smart for that. I decided to create one myself, about the emotional lives of animals, factory farming, the environment, and endangered species — all in regards to the foods we eat.

KC: How did you become vegan? Did you learn about the treatment of animals used for food when you were young?

RR: I had a very progressive, liberal, eco-friendly upbringing — my mom was vegetarian, my parents had an organic farm, I got into anti-authoritarian punk rock as a teen, went to UC Santa Cruz, even lived with vegans there….yet it NEVER occurred to me to go vegan myself. This is the power of the meat and dairy industry! I went vegan when I was 20, when a friend challenged me to do it as a health experiment (I used to get tonsillitis multiple times a year). And I stopped getting sick. In fact, I felt so good and loved the transformation so much that I never went back. And then watching the film Earthlings rocked my worldview, too, and solidified my commitment to animals.

KC: The book got some mixed reactions — some people thought it was propaganda that would corrupt and scar kids. Can you tell us about some of the negative and positive reactions?

RR: The negative responses were nearly all the same — concerns about brainwashing, propaganda, scaring children and not allowing kids to have the choice to eat meat. I used every critique to formulate a positive and public response. Meanwhile, I grew more confident about my book because I was reading it to groups of kids and never once experienced a child who was overwhelmed or scared. What I found was that kids responded with great insight, questions and interest, and that it was only ever the adults who freaked out — most likely in fear of change.

KC: Did you have any concerns when writing the book? About traumatizing kids or, since you were working as an elementary school art teacher at the time, even losing your job?

RR: Absolutely. When kids first started asking me questions, I felt like a communist in the McCarthy era — that my answers would get me fired if the children reported to their parents. But there’s nothing illegal about talking about dietary habits. It’s the job of the teacher to provide information. I realized that if I treated their questions like any that a student might ask of a teacher, then I would avoid creating a “taboo” subject. And even IF a parent was angry, or refused to cater to an interested kid at home, that a seed was planted, the word defined for future reference. No one could be validly mad at me for teaching vocabulary.

KC: At the Animal Rights National Conference, you talked about America’s unique idea of “childhood” and how kids don’t need to be as coddled as they are. Can you tell us more about that?

RR: In the west, we think of children as innocent, pure and frail, and treat them accordingly — sugarcoating everything, and avoiding teaching “too much” for their minds. But this concept of childhood is not universal. In other countries, children are treated with various levels of respect for their capabilities, which also differ according to cultural beliefs. My experience of teaching is that sugarcoating information only hinders what a child is capable of — psychologically, emotionally and even spiritually.

KC: Were there any children or parents of children who read the book and then told you they wanted to become vegetarian or vegan?

RR: Yes, there were students of mine who wanted to go vegan, for example. And I saw parents pat them on the back and smile. I imagine that the parents probably cooked some veg meals at home a few times, but lacking info and support, lost interest in keeping it up for their kids. But the most important part is that the seed was planted. The child knows what the word means forever after (I certainly didn’t when I was in elementary school) and you never know what they might do with that information in the future.

KC: Do you have any words of wisdom for parents whose kids say they want to be vegetarian or vegan?

RR: I can understand a parents’ fear of change if they’re not familiar with veganism. But there’s so much supportive information out now and it’s so easily accessible. If your child shows interest, I think it’s the parent’s responsibility to collect information, ameliorate their own fears, and help the child feel empowered by their insight into food and animals. It’s just the worst to see a parent forcing a crying child to eat meat — I’ve seen it — when the solution is simply a few facts the parents need demystified about protein, for example. Especially when there is an abundance of healthier, cleaner, more absorbable, cruelty-free choices that child could be thriving on.

KC: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

RR: My man, urban artist and vegan Justin Bua and I just launched our blog www.WeBeVegan.com and I’m working on my next children’s book, due out next year. Stay tuned at www.WeDontEatAnimals.com! Thank you for your support!

Here is a video of kids’ reactions to Ruby’s book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals:

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Causes, Lifestyles

 

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Aging…finishing strong…

Written by Elayne Clift, a Women’s Media Center blogger…This post  was originally published by the Women’s Media Center.

 

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When 61-year old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad entered the water early on the morning of August 7 in Havana, Cuba, she was fully prepared for the 103-mile swim she would undertake to reach Florida.  She had trained vigorously for two years in order to set a record for open-water swimming without a shark cage, training that included 12-hour daily swims. “I’m standing here at the prime of my life,” she told CNN as she was about to start.  “When one reaches this age, you still have a body that’s strong but now you have a better mind.”

Nyad, for ten years the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world, was nearly halfway into her 60-hour swim when shoulder pain and asthma as well as ocean swells caused her to abandon her goal.  “It was a bitter pill to swallow,” she said, but the lesson is “live your life with passion, show your will, you feel proud of yourself when you go to bed at night.”

It’s a message that resonates with many other older women athletes.  German kayaker Birgit Fischer is one of them.  Winner of eight gold medals over six different Olympic games, she was the youngest Olympic canoeing champion when she won her first gold medal at the age of 18 (1980), and the oldest ever when she won gold at age 42 (2004).

Then there is “the iron nun,” Sister Madonna Buder, a triathlete in her 80s.  At a retreat in 1978 a priest said running would be a good way to harmonize body and soul, so Sister Madonna began jogging.  Several weeks later, at the age of 47, she finished fourth among 300 women who competed on a 7.4 mile run in Spokane, WA.  Four years later, she ran the Boston Marathon.  Then she learned of a triathlon that included running, biking, and swimming.  It changed her life; she has since competed, with record-breaking wins, in more than three dozen triathlons in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Undertaking the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon more than 20 times, Sister Madonna swam 2.4 miles of rough ocean, biked 112 miles, and concluded with a 26.2-mile marathon. In 2005 she opened the competition’s first-ever division for women ages 75 to 79.  Featured on SecondAct.com, she says the extraordinary camaraderie among the athletes who come to Hawaii brings her back year after year.

Hawaii is clearly a haven for older women athletes.  Paddlers, swimmers, runners, surfers and triathletes flock to its shores, While researching a book on aging with strength, champion triathlete Lorenn Walker gathered a group of like-minded women in her home state for a Honolulu Advertiser interview.

One of them, Ruth Heidrich, 67 at the time of the interview, was named one of the “Top Ten Fittest Women in North America” in 1999. A six-time Ironman Triathlon finisher and holder of more than 900 gold medals from every distance from 100 meter dashes to triathlon events, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 47.  “I thought it was the beginning of the end,” she told the Advertiser reporter, “but little did I know it was just the beginning.”

Champion swimmer Diane Stowell, then also 67, wasn’t allowed as a woman to compete in collegiate swimming but she has since won national and world titles for her age group.  She has also surfed, jogged, and paddled for the Outrigger Canoe Club in Honolulu, despite having two torn rotator cuffs.

Audrey Sutherland, a solo kayaker, has paddled more than 8,000 miles along the coasts of Alaska and British Columbia, where she encountered killer whales and grizzly bears. At age 81, she was planning a solo trip to the Cook Islands.

Is there a reason older women athletes do so well? Sports experts say that events requiring pacing, strategy and mental fortitude are often best achieved by older women.  They say there is more to it than physiology and good genes.  Older athletes, particularly women, are more disciplined, more consistent with their training, and smarter competitively because the know how to pace themselves. As one sport psychologist put it, “they know how to use what they have.”

Women may also have the edge over men because they produce more estrogen, which helps protect muscle cells membranes from wear and tear.  And the fact that women generally weigh less than men may give them an additional advantage because there is less stress on the body with a light load to carry.

In an interview with The Huffington Post shortly before her attempted swim, Diana Nyad reflected on the task she had set for herself.  “I think growing old is a beautiful thing. … But when my mom died at 82 … while I was turning 60, I just thought, wow, you know life seems to go by exponentially faster as we get older. …  I want to feel alive … I wanted to do something that just took the most out of me.”  Then she added, “I don’t care what age you are. … Just immerse yourself in your life, … just do it intensely … so that when you go to sleep you’re exhausted every night and you say, whoa, I just couldn’t have done any more with that day.”

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Diversity To Inclusion

 

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