If there’s one thing that most of us can agree on, it’s that we’ve lost touch with nature. At the very least, I know we should be spending more time outdoors, and this is especially true for the children of this generation. More screens than ever before have our attention, and while we used to have to be stationary to enjoy them, sitting in front of our televisions, we now have the ability to carry screens around with us at all times, as they so conveniently fit in our pockets. Yet this isn’t making us more active, only more distracted. Think about how many times a day you see children, or adults for that matter, glued to a tablet or phone at a restaurant or on a bus?
Of course, there are many educational games and programs that can assist with learning how to read, or count, or solve puzzles, but are our children missing lessons from the greatest teacher of all? What is the true cost of being disconnected from nature and how is it affecting children today?
What Is Nature Deficit Disorder?
It is now a well-known fact that too little time spent in nature can adversely impact our health, both physically and psychologically. San-Diego based child advocacy expert Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder and chairman and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network, coined the term nature deficit disorder to describe this phenomenon. His book outlines “the human costs of alienation from nature,” and he includes in it documented studies that suggest without regular immersion in nature, we can suffer physical and emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and even obesity. Children, the primary focus of his research, are particularly affected by this lack, which shows up most often as difficulty focusing.
How Can We Fix This?
Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. A stroll through the forest or a dip in the ocean is absolutely free and in many cases very accessible as well. While admittedly, we don’t all have the luxury of living seaside, many people have access to a forest, or even a park with trees somewhere nearby. We often just get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget that perhaps all we really need to clear our heads and feel a bit better is to connect with our beautiful Mother Earth again. Make an effort to get outside during the day. Go to a park or walk on a trail nearby; chances are you’ll feel happier and less stressed almost instantly.
The implications of these findings, especially for children, have become a major discussion point in recent years. Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of the Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program at the Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation, says the international science community in particular is taking note: “Scientists are now beginning to quantify this and they believe communing with nature has a direct biological, psychological value, and these values are measurable,” he says. As adults, we have seen with our own eyes the differences between how children behave and learn now compared to how they did before screens were so prevalent, when they spent their hours playing in and exploring nature.
What Exactly Does Regular Exposure to Nature Do For Us?
Hiking in nature can stop negative obsessive thoughts. In fact, a recent study that was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.
To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.
The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.
Just simply walking in nature can change our brains in ways that positively impact our health. Researchers conducted a study that asked randomly selected participants to spend 50 minutes walking in either a natural or urban setting, and to submit to a series of psychological assessments before and after the walk. They found that volunteers who walked through a lush, green portion of Stanford campus showed improve cognitive function and mood compared to those who walked near heavy traffic for the same period of time. However, while this study showed that nature could have a positive effect on mental well-being, it did not examine the neurological mechanisms underlying this change.
Another study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks, which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.
Has your child been acting out, having a hard time paying attention, or straight up not listening? Maybe it’s time to bring them to a forest, or a park, or the ocean, and let them be free and clear from technology for a while. Chances are, it will help to improve your mood and overall well-being as well. What are you waiting for? Get out there!
9 Studies You Should Be Aware of Before Trying The Ketogenic Diet
- The Facts:
The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.
- Reflect On:
Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?
The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.
But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?
In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.
It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.
Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.
So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.
Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.
In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.
Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.
A New Disease Carrying Tick Species Has Been Discovered
- The Facts:
For the first time in 50 years, a new tick species has been identified in the US. The longhorned tick is prolific and can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at a time. It has health implications.
- Reflect On:
Not long ago, the US government was accused of manufactured disease via ticks, to be used as bioweapons. More on that within the article.
So many problems are created by powerful people, and then these same powerful people like to offer us the solutions. A great example would be false flag terrorism, like lying and staging chemical gas attacks in Syria, and then using them as an excuse to infiltrate, invade and bring ‘democracy’ to that country in order to protect its people. You can read more about that specific example here. This is known to some, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently expressed in a Facebook post regarding global warming, as “disaster capitalism,” the science of how corporations and tyrants profit from the crisis they create, regardless of whether that crisis is staged or real.
When it comes to ticks, it’s hard not to ponder if we’re seeing the same thing play out here. Will the rise in ticks and new tick species suddenly result in the development of more vaccines, ones that are specifically designed to combat the diseases these ticks are carrying?
There are a number of subjects that were once considered ‘conspiracy theories’ that are now no longer in that realm. ‘Conspiracy theories’ usually, in my opinion, arise from credible evidence. The implications, however, are so grand and so mind-altering that many may experience some sort of cognitive dissonance as a result. One of the topics often deemed a ‘conspiracy theory’ is weaponized diseases, and the latest example comes from an approved amendment that was proposed by a Republican congressman from New Jersey. His name is Chris Smith, and he instructed the Department of Defence’s Inspector General to conduct a review on whether or not the US “experimented with ticks and insects regarding use as a biological weapon between the years of 1950 and 1975” and “whether any ticks or insects used in such experiment were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design.”
The fact that the amendment was approved by a vote in the House speaks volumes. Smith said that the amendment was inspired by “a number of books and articles suggesting that significant research had been done at US government facilities including Fort Detrick, Maryland, and Plum Island, New York, to turn ticks and insects into bioweapons.”
Now, for the first time in 50 years, a new tick species has been identified in the US. The longhorned tick is prolific and can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at a time. “In Asia, it causes a devastating disease called “SFTS” — severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome. About 15% of those people have died. It has not happened in the U.S. yet, but epidemiologists are watching closely.” (source)
When it comes to Lyme disease in particular, the Guardian points out that:
A new book published in May by a Stanford University science writer and former Lyme sufferer, Kris Newby, has raised questions about the origins of the disease, which affects 400,000 Americans each year.
Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons, cites the Swiss-born discoverer of the Lyme pathogen, Willy Burgdorfer, as saying that the Lyme epidemic was a military experiment that had gone wrong.
Burgdorfer, who died in 2014, worked as a bioweapons researcher for the US military and said he was tasked with breeding fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects, and infecting them with pathogens that cause human diseases.
According to the book, there were programs to drop “weaponised” ticks and other bugs from the air, and that uninfected bugs were released in residential areas in the US to trace how they spread. It suggests that such a scheme could have gone awry and led to the eruption of Lyme disease in the US in the 1960s.
Could this new tick be some sort of weaponized one? Who really knows.
We are living in a world of extreme secrecy. Much of what was once deemed a conspiracy theory is no longer a conspiracy theory anymore. A lot of information is arising that’s really challenging people’s minds, and some of it is so unbelievable and hard to imagine that cognitive dissonance is a common reaction. In today’s day and age, it’s important to keep an open mind as new information that challenges collective belief systems continues to emerge.
Study Finds Infants of Unvaccinated Moms Fared Better Compared To Vaccinated Ones
Public health officials and doctors, ever more insistent that pregnant women get flu shots, are frustrated that fewer than four in ten American moms-to-be avail themselves of the recommendation. Policy-makers’ disappointment stems not just from their zeal to achieve the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80% coverage of pregnant women but also from their recognition that women who go along with vaccine recommendations during pregnancy are more acquiescent about vaccinating their newborn infants as well.
Yet maternal worries about vaccine-related harm to the fetus are widespread and operate as a principal barrier to higher pregnancy vaccine uptake. Envisioning a day when “even more vaccines” will be added to the maternal vaccine schedule, researchers are studying how to improve uptake and design more persuasive “communication interventions.” Their messaging generally emphasizes a twofold rationale for prenatal flu shots. The first and primary stated aim is to prevent influenza in mothers and babies—but researchers also assert that by preventing such infections, they may be able to prevent unwanted fetal outcomes thought to be linked to influenza infection during pregnancy.
A research team out of South Africa has just published a paper examining the second rationale, comparing four outcomes—fetal death, low birth weight, small for gestational age birth and preterm birth—for infants whose mothers received flu shots or a placebo. In their surprisingly frank conclusions, not only do the researchers report that influenza vaccination during pregnancy was ineffective in lowering risk for the four outcomes, but—ever so cautiously—they also note that the vaccinated infants fared worse.
The 2011–2012 South Africa study was one of three large double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of influenza vaccination during pregnancy funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). As originally described in 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine, over 2,000 mothers received either trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines or placebo between 20 and 36 weeks of pregnancy—in other words, in their second or third (but not first) trimester of pregnancy. (In the U.S., which encourages flu shots during any trimester of pregnancy, studies have identified a heightened risk of autism in the children of women vaccinated during the first trimester.) The researchers followed up on fetal outcomes when the infants reached 24 weeks of age.
Of note, the study used an inert saline placebo. This is unusual in the context of vaccine clinical trials, which nearly always compare one group that receives the vaccine of interest against another group that receives a different vaccine (called an “active comparator”). The use of active comparators can “increase the occurrence of harms in the comparator groups and thereby [mask] harms caused by the…vaccines” being studied. In contrast, an inert placebo enhances the likelihood of detecting differences between groups, if any are present.
Overall, the investigators found “no significant vaccine efficacy” with respect to any of the fetal outcomes. Unexpectedly (to the researchers), they also found that the average gestational age at birth was lower in the vaccinated versus placebo group—a statistically significant result indicative of a greater risk of preterm birth. Although most of the study’s other findings did not attain statistical significance, the pattern of results showed, in another writer’s words, tendencies that were “not reassuring.” Across all analyses, the percentages and rates of fetal death, preterm birth, low birth weight and small for gestational age birth were higher in the vaccine group than in the placebo group. Couching their conclusions with caveats, the authors explain:
[W]e found a slight, though non-significant decrease in the birth weight of infants in the vaccinated group…as well as a non-significant increase in fetal deaths among [influenza]-vaccinated mothers. […] We point this out only as a cautionary word and suggest this observation be explored carefully in larger studies of vaccine safety data bases.
Weak, inconsistent and biased evidence
In 2017, researchers who carried out a systematic review found that “comparative studies of adverse birth outcomes following maternal influenza disease are limited in quantity and have produced inconsistent findings.” In a 2019 paper, an Italian researcher agrees, arguing that it is inappropriate to recommend across-the-board influenza vaccination of all pregnant women in the absence of “strong and consistent” randomized clinical trial evidence—particularly if one also acknowledges that current evidence often exhibits bias. Making specific reference to the South Africa clinical trial, the author notes that the trial “was funded by BMGF and by public sponsors, with the principal investigator in financial relationships with the vaccine producer, and two authors with other influenza vaccine producers.”
The author describes other results from the South Africa trial that, while again not attaining statistical significance, “were not in the expected/hoped direction.” For example, maternal hospitalizations for infections were “numerically higher” in the vaccinated group, as were severe neonatal infections. Overall, the trial produced only “18 less influenza illnesses in vaccinated mothers and their children, to be weighted…against 9 more maternal hospitalization for any infection and 6 more neonatal hospitalization due to sepsis within 28 days of birth.”
In addition to the South Africa trial, the Italian author mentions several other randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in low-income countries that compared influenza vaccination during pregnancy against meningococcal or pneumococcal vaccination; even with an active comparator, the author suggests that these trials [hyperlinks added] do not support influenza vaccination during pregnancy:
The first and larger trial substantially disregarded an alarming excess of infant deaths and serious “presumed/neonatal infections” in the influenza vaccine group. Even in the other small RCT the fetal plus infant deaths were nonsignificantly higher in the influenza vaccine group. In a last large trial the tendency for miscarriage, stillbirth, congenital defects, and infant deaths at 0-6 months were not in favour of the vaccine group. These countries are not comparable to high-income ones, but one could expect that their poverty and demographic conditions would magnify the benefits of influenza vaccination, not the opposite.
A 2013 study that evaluated adverse pregnancy outcomes following influenza vaccination of pregnant women found that “low-risk” women (that is, women without medical complications or co-morbidity) who received the vaccine during the 2009–2011 influenza seasons had an increase in a composite measure of adverse outcomes (miscarriage, fetal demise, preterm birth and neonatal demise) compared to unvaccinated pregnant women—“even after adjusting for confounding factors.” Reluctant to accept the implications of their findings, the authors stated, “We do not believe that influenza vaccination causes adverse pregnancy outcomes in low-risk women; instead our findings likely represent the result of selection bias and residual confounding.”
The same kind of avoidance was apparent in a study that investigated risks for preterm delivery and birth defects following influenza vaccination in three consecutive seasons beginning in 2011. Although the researchers found that women in the vaccinated group had a shorter gestational duration and their infants had an elevated risk of a rare abdominal wall defect called omphalocele, the investigators concluded that their results were “generally reassuring” and that “[t]he few risks that were observed are compatible with chance.”
A questionable policy
Researchers have speculated that influenza infection during pregnancy could be associated with adverse birth outcomes due to “mechanisms such as maternal fever and inflammation,” and they note that “[i]mmunological responses, such as elevated pro-inflammatory cytokine levels…are recognised as an important pathway to preterm birth.” What they generally do not acknowledge is that prenatal vaccination also introduces immune activation risks—and these risks remain scandalously understudied. Instead of bemoaning pregnant women’s “suboptimal” flu shot uptake—or dismissing the risks to a developing fetus from vaccinating the mother during pregnancy as “theoretical”—researchers and policy-makers should be putting their poorly supported pregnancy vaccination recommendations on hold. And members of the public should remember that no vaccines have ever been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “specifically for use during pregnancy to protect the infant.”
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