Silence. How often do you truly get to experience this? Nowadays, silence is a very rare commodity indeed as we are constantly bombarded with noises from people, traffic, airplanes, music, advertisements, construction and the list goes on. I’ve been thinking a lot about silence and how much I would like some as I’ve been travelling and am constantly subjected to honking cars, screaming tourists, and clanking sounds all around me. Silence, is actually not something that is very easily obtainable -silence is golden. So how important is silence and is it a detriment to the well-being of our minds if we don’t have it?
In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that actually used silence as a marketing product. Their campaign aimed to entice people to visit Finland to experience the beauty of the silent land. The campaign released a series of photos of single figures in nature along with the headline, “Silence, Please.” Another tagline was added by Simon Ahnolt, an international country branding consultant that said, “No talking, but action.”
Finland is onto something here. In their campaign we are seeing the beginning of using silence as a marketing technique as it is something that is becoming more and more attractive as it is becoming more and more rare. Really, think about it, how often are you in complete silence? Noise pollution is something we deal with every single day and often, we don’t think twice about it. Scientific studies are now showing that silence is much more important for our brains than you might think.
Science For Silence
A study published in 2013 in the journal, Brain, Structure and Function, used various types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study, but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of complete silence per day they actually developed new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain that is associated with memory, emotion and learning new things.
The growth of new brain cells doesn’t always mean improved health benefits, but in this instance one of the researchers, Imke Kirste, says that these new cells appeared to become functioning neurons.
“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons and integrate into the system.”
So, basically this means that silence can actually grow your brain.
Another study from 2001 defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was perceivably resting, it was still perpetually active and internalizing and evaluating information. Follow up research found that this default mode is also used in the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote that the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.”
When the brain is in a resting state it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious work space,” according to Moran and colleagues.
In other words, when the mind is not distracted by noise or goal oriented tasks there lies a quiet space that allows your conscious work space to process things in a different manner. In these periods of silence your brain has the freedom that it needs to realize it’s place in your internal as well as external world.
As Herman Melville once wrote,
“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”
Silence Has The Opposite Effect On The Brain As Noise
Noise, at pretty much any levels cause stress and tension to the body, silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal, Heart – discovered that just two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, go figure.
The effect of noise pollution on our ability to perform a cognitive task has been studied extensively. Noise can interfere with task performance at work and school and can also be the cause for a decrease in motivation and an increase in the making of errors. Cognitive functions that are most commonly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving. You may be able to relate to this if you’ve ever tried to read or study and another person is blaring music or watching T.V. close to you, it’s almost impossible to concentrate.
Interestingly, a number of studies have also shown that children that live in houses or go to schools which are near airports or under airplane flight paths, railways, or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their cognitive and language skills.
Luckily, This Can Be Resolved
The human body is a truly remarkable thing, and the brain – well, this is beyond comprehension. In other words, it is beyond the brain to fully understand the brain, how about that? It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources and according to the attention restoration theory, when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can actually recover some of it’s cognitive abilities. When exposed to silence the brain can let down it’s heightened sensory guard and restore some of what has been lost through exposure to excess noise.
If traveling to Finland is out of your reach, don’t worry, there are many other ways to find silence. If you live in a city it might be more of a mission, but it is always possible. The sounds of nature don’t really count as noise pollution, so if you can go for a walk through a forest, or a quiet park or sit by the beach, maybe even try out a sensory deprivation tank – you can experience the benefits that come from experiencing silence. We all need it, but it’s so easy to forget about it in our buys, go, go, go type of world we’ve created. Luckily from awareness comes change, and we can choose to make time to do what’s best for our mind, body and soul.
Johnson & Johnson Found To Have Knowingly Allowed Asbestos In Their Baby Powder
- The Facts:
Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.
- Reflect On:
Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?
We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.
Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.
Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity
One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.
Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.
Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.
The Testimony of Scientist James Webber
Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.
In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:
During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.
“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.
Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.
And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.” (source)
And It’s Getting Worse
The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:
Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…
Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.
It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.
Prescription Infant Formulas Found To Be Contaminated With Aluminum
- The Facts:
Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.
- Reflect On:
Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?
You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.
Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.
A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:
Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.
Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:
Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.
There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.
As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.
The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.
In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:
Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.
There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.
It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.
In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.
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.
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