World Happiness Report: India Ranks 139th

Of the 10 top countries in the list, nine were in Europe. Finland was followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, and New Zealand.

Finland has been declared the world’s happiest country for the fourth year running, according to the World Happiness Report 2021 published on Friday by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Meanwhile, India ranked 139th out of the 149 countries in the list — a slight improvement since last year, when it was ranked 140th. Of the 10 top countries in the list, nine were in Europe. Finland was followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Austria.

The report evaluated levels of happiness by taking into account factors such as GDP, social support, personal freedom, and levels of corruption in each nation. But this year, the authors had a unique new challenge to address in the report — the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on nations around the world.

“The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally,” one of the authors, Jeffrey Sachs, said. “The World Happiness Report 2021 reminds us that we must aim for wellbeing rather than mere wealth, which will be fleeting indeed if we don’t do a much better job of addressing the challenges of sustainable development.”

With the pandemic wreaking havoc across the globe, this years’ report provided two different sets of rankings — one was the usual list based on the the average of three years of surveys taken in 2018-2020 by Gallup, while another focussed solely on 2020 to understand how Covid impacted subjective well being.

According to the authors of the paper, trust was the key factor used to measure happiness in each country. Nations where citizens had more faith vested in its institutions and had greater income equality were considered to be more successful in combating the pandemic.

Afghanistan remained the least happy country in the world, as per the list. Meanwhile, the United States slipped one spot to number 19. A number of Asian countries fared better this year than they had last year, while China moved to the 84th spot from the 94th.

“Surprisingly there was not, on average, a decline in well-being when measured by people’s own evaluation of their lives,” John Helliwell, another author of the report, said.

The Effect of Covid: Weight Gain For all Americans

I f you’re like most Americans, the past year has been a time of fear, anxiety and often profound tedium—but also of worsening dietary habits. Take 328 million people and confine them to their homes for weeks and months on end and they’re going to start eating more and exercising less. That means, no surprise, weight gain. A study published March 22 in JAMA took a crack at determining just how many pounds the average American packed on in between February and June 2020, and came up with about 7.08 lb. (3.24 kg).

Even before the pandemic began, the researchers, all from the University of California, San Francisco, were involved in a program known as the Heart eHealth Study, in which 250,000 volunteers share their blood pressure, electrocardiograms, weight and more by entering them into a phone app or connecting the phone to Bluetooth-enabled devices if they own them. There is no set frequency with which the volunteers are expected to participate, but the more often they log on and contribute their readings, the more data the researchers can collect. The goal is to learn more about the lifestyles and patterns of underlying health that lead to heart disease and how it might be possible to reverse them before trouble starts. When, in mid-March and early-April of last year, 45 states issued shelter-in-place orders, it got the research team wondering about what the sudden shift to a more sedentary lifestyle would do to eating habits and body mass.

To determine this, the team selected a broadly representative sample group from their existing pool of heart health subjects: 269 people from 37 states, with a median age of 51.9 years, and close to evenly divided between men and women. Over the course of four months, from Feb. 1, 2020—before pandemic-related social restrictions began—to June 1, 2020, the investigators collected a total of 7,444 weight readings from their sample pool. Over that time, the subjects gained an average of 0.59 lb. (0.27 kg) every 10 days.

That was unsurprising, to an extent, given the fact that so many Americans were forced to adapt to a much less active lifestyle. But it was especially troubling because so many of the subjects included in this study had actually been losing weight before the four month period began, says Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist, UCSF professor of medicine, and a coauthor of the study. “This means that their healthy behavior was not just interrupted, it was actually reversed.”

Equally worrisome, the 250,000 people from whom the 269 were selected were by no means precisely representative of the entire population. The mere fact that they enrolled in the Heart eHealth Study and that some own the bluetooth-enabled scales, ECGs and blood pressure cuffs that help them participate means that they are surely more health-conscious than much of the rest of the population. Merely to have their data included in the new weight study, they had to step on the scale a minimum of twice in the four-month study period, something that many other people may not do for months at a time.

“It might be that the general population has actually experienced more weight gain than our sample group has,” says Marcus. “It might be that this is just the tip of the iceberg.” As data from the Heart eHealth program continue to pour in, Marcus and his colleagues are keeping an eye on the 269 subjects and maintaining a record of their readings. They have not decided whether they will publish a follow-up study on their weight-gain or loss, but, says, Marcus, “It will be interesting to see what happens after all of the shelter in place orders are lifted.”

Massachusetts and Connecticut Hold 8 Out of the Top 10 Best Places to Live

Expertise.com, a resource that evaluates and publishes the best local experts, has published a comprehensive report on the safest cities and towns in the U.S. The study ranks the safest to most dangerous cities and towns with a population of 10,000 or more. Research experts collected data from the FBI Crime Database and used a detailed methodology to assess each municipality.

The top five safest cities are Wayland, Massachusetts, Frederick, Colorado, Weston, Connecticut, Clinton, Massachusetts, and Sagamore Hills, Ohio. Massachusetts and Connecticut held 8 out of the top 10 best places to live, three cities from Connecticut and five from Massachusetts.

In contrast, the five most dangerous cities and towns are spread across various states. The lowest ranking areas on the list are Muskegon Heights, Michigan, Tukwila, Washington, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

“The pandemic has created more opportunities to work remotely, and people now have the flexibility to explore other cities,” says David Franklin, General Manager of Expertise.com. “This study was conducted to help Americans assess different relocation options and address public safety concerns.”

Researchers at Expertise.com accessed crucial data from the FBI’s 2019 National Incident-Based Reporting System. Each city was evaluated based on the number of violent crimes, other crimes to persons, and other crimes to property per 1,000 residents. The report highlights 1,434 cities and towns and the final scores were generated using a percentile rank formula.

Top 10 Safest Cities and Towns in America

  1. Wayland, MA
  2. Frederick, CO
  3. Weston, CT
  4. Clinton, MA
  5. Sagamore Hills, OH
  6. Newtown, CT
  7. Madison, CT
  8. Franklin, MA
  9. Medway, MA
  10. Hopkinton, MA.

Why The Rich Seem Happier?

In a surprising finding in 2010, a study revealed that money could make you happier, but there was actually an “enough” point — a level after which happiness tended to plateau even with rising income. Now it turns out the “enough” point may be a myth.

In the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Matthew Killingsworth reports that, after tracking the lives of over 33,000 volunteers in the US for seven years, he is yet to see the happiness plateau

In a new study published on January 26, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Matthew Killingsworth, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School reports that, after tracking the lives of over 33,000 volunteers in the US for seven years, he is yet to see the happiness plateau.

Technology helped Killingsworth capture real-time data on his volunteers (a total of over 1.7 million data points by the end of the study), allowing him a deeper look into their lives, he says. At least thrice a day, the volunteers were asked multiple-choice questions that called on them to rate: “How do you feel right now?” and “Overall, how satisfied are you with your life?” From time to time they were also asked about their sense of financial security, their sense of control over their lives, among other factors.

The Surprising Link Between Marriage and Heart Health

People in marriages that steadily get sweeter have lower cholesterol and healthier weight than marriages that stay the same, according to a new 16-year study. But both were preferable to marriages that got worse: couples in them were more likely to develop high blood pressure later in life.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, isn’t the first to suggest a link between marital quality and heart health. But most research has only looked at relationship satisfaction at one point in time, which makes it tough to determine whether marriage really has a protective effect on health, or if healthier people simply tend to be in happier marriages.

The new research measured marital ups and downs over the years to see if they went along with changes in heart health. To do so, researchers analyzed data from a long-running study of parents and children in Britain, in which fathers were surveyed about their marriage quality when their children were about 3, and again at about age 9.

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More than 2,000 people completed the survey once at the start of the study and again six years later, and 620 completed a follow-up analysis about a decade after the study’s start. At that time, the men had their blood pressure, resting heart rate, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and fasting glucose levels measured, all of which indicate heart-disease risk factors.

Interestingly, there was very little difference in cardiovascular risk profiles between men who had consistently good relationships and those who had consistently bad ones during the study. But after adjusting for several influencing factors, including age, education, height and household income, the researchers noticed small but distinct patterns for men whose marriages had either improved or deteriorated during that time.

Men who said their marriage got better over the years had lower LDL—or “bad”—cholesterol and healthier weights (about 1 BMI unit less) at the end of the study, compared to those whose relationship satisfaction was consistently good for those years.

Meanwhile, those whose relationships got worse ended up with blood pressure an average of 2.74 points higher than those with consistently good marriages.

The researchers write in the paper that it makes sense that changes in marital quality could trigger these types of changes in cardiovascular health, and that they may not become obvious until after a “latency period” of several years.

The fact that people in consistently good marriages fared no better than those in bad ones is contradictory to other research, but the researchers say their data about marital quality over time may paint a more complete picture. People in unchanging relationships may become habituated to their circumstances, the authors hypothesize, which may keep them from benefiting as much as those whose relationships steadily improve.

The study, however, can’t draw cause-and-effect conclusions. The authors point out that a large number of people dropped out before the final measurements were taken and that those who remained were more likely to report better marriage quality and fewer health and financial problems.

Because the people in the study are still relatively young, it’s also unclear whether more risk factors will actually lead to more heart disease. The researchers also don’t know if their findings would apply to women—but in the paper, they refer to a 2014 study in which worsening relationships were linked to worsening cardiovascular health more strongly for wives than for husbands. (Men “may be less likely to internalize a poor relationship than women,” the authors of that study speculated.)

There are still a lot of unknowns about the link between marital quality and heart health. But in their paper, the authors raise the possibility that working to improve the former may help improve the latter. “Further research needs to determine if effective marriage counseling, or when appropriate, abandoning a deteriorating relationship, has longer term physical health benefits over and above psychological well-being,” they write.

Like Wine, Environmental Conditions Impact Whiskey Flavor

Flavor differences in whiskey can be discerned based solely on the environment in which the barley used to make the whiskey is grown, a new study suggests.

This is the first scientific study that found the environmental conditions, or terroir, of where the barley is grown impacts the flavor of whiskey, according to researcher Dustin Herb from the Oregon State University.

“Understanding terroir is something that involves a lot of research, a lot of time and a lot of dedication. Our research shows that environmental conditions in which the barley is grown have a significant impact,” Herb said.

Initially, the team focused on the contributions of barley to beer flavour. Their research found notable differences in the taste of beers malted from barley varieties reputed to have flavour qualities.

Then, the team attempted to answer the question of whether terroir exists in whiskey.

Herb designed a study, published in the journal Foods, that involved planting two common commercial varieties of barley in Ireland, Olympus and Laureate, in two distinct environments — Athy, Co. Kildare and Buncloudy, Co. Wexford in 2017 and 2018.

Athy is an inland site and Buncloudy is a coastal site. They were selected in part because they have different soil types and different temperature ranges and rainfall levels during the barley growing season.

The crops of each barley variety at each site in each year were harvested, stored, malted and distilled in a standardized way. Once distilled, the product is called “new make spirit.” (It isn’t called whiskey until it is matured in a wooden cask for at least three years.)

The researchers used gas chromatography mass spectrometry and the noses of a six-person trained sensory panel to determine which compounds in the barley most contributed to the aroma of the new make spirit.

That analysis, along with further mathematical and statistical analysis, found that the environment in which the barley was grown had a greater contribution to the aroma of the whiskey than the variety of the barley.

In Athy, it was more positively associated with sweet, cereal/grainy, feinty/earthy, oily finish, soapy, sour, stale and moldy sensory attributes and in Bunclody it was more associated with dried fruit and solventy attributes. (IANS)

Indian Culture Vs. Same Sex Marriage

“It is against Indian culture” that is what the Supreme Court says now, when activists are debating that it is the right time to push for legalizing homosexuality. Two years back, the government ruled out that same-sex marriages cannot be legalized. But Indian government affirms that according to our culture, “Marriage is the unity of a man and woman.”

Now the question is, what is so specific about Indian culture.

Hinduism is against Homosexuality and is unacceptable to most Hindus. Hinduism teaches that the ‘natural’ thing is for men and women to marry and have children. On the contrary, those who go against this natural relationship are violating their own dharma.Joys

In Sikhism, The Guru Granth Sahib only mentions marriage in relation to a man and a woman forming a spiritual union.

The Quran mentions sex between men several times, in the context of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, in which some city inhabitants demand sexual access to the messengers sent by God to the prophet Lot. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin and perversions; hence it is ‘Haram,’ Islam has for centuries been much more tolerant than Christianity.

The biblical emphasis upon the loving union of male and female, as an integral part of God’s creation ordinance, establishing family only by a man and woman.

Even Rituparna Borah, co-director of Nazariya Queer Feminist Resource Group, remarked, “There are so many differences in how people live across the country.”

Indian Supreme Court has made it clear that it is neither possible nor practical to call one person a husband and the other a wife in same-sex marriage. India’s solicitor general is staunchly against the legalization of same-sex marriage. As per Delhi High Court in September, “our laws, our legal system, our society, and our values do not recognize the marriage, which is a sacrament, between same-sex couples.”

When the Indian government talks about our culture, they are definitely referring to the good old Hindu upper-caste culture. This particular petition is not challenging Hinduism. In fact, it helps to glorify the fact that Hinduism allows so many weird relationships according to Hindu mythology. The sculptures at Ellora caves, Khajuraho, and Konarak temples may be exceptions, but they reveal so much of the erotic relationships of Indian community in the ancestral days!

On the issue of same sex marriages Wikipedia clarifies with a bit of history “Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in India nor are same-sex couples offered limited rights such as a civil union or a domestic partnership. On the contrary in 2011, a Haryana court granted legal recognition to a same-sex marriage involving two women. After marrying, the couple began to receive threats from friends and relatives in their village. The couple eventually won family approval”.

 

Off late in October 2020, two women, Kavita Arora and Ankita Khanna submitted a petition in a Delhi court for their constitutional right to marry. They arguing that without official recognition, they are “strangers in law.”

Several same-sex marriage petitions are pending with different levels of judiciary courts. Whereas On 12 June 2020, the Uttarakhand High Court acknowledged that even though same-sex marriage may be illegal, cohabitation and “live-in relationships” are protected by the law.

Yet in approval to a petition filed in the Delhi High Court by a same sex couple requesting to legalize gay marriage, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the Indian Government affirmed that same sex marriage is against Indian culture – that is the latest update on the same sex marriage issues in India.

 

The government has affirmed that it is neither possible nor practical to call one person a husband and the other a wife in same-sex marriage. The affidavit states that this will lead to many legal issues.

 

The affidavit was filed by the Central Government in a High Court notice seeking permission for same-sex marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act. The court will reconsider the petition in April. “Living together as partners and having sex with a person of the same sex cannot be compared to the Indian family concept of husband, wife and children, ”the Center said.

 

Plaintiffs cannot claim same-sex marriage as a fundamental right. The Center also said that registering same-sex marriages violates existing legal provisions .’ Parliament has designed and framed marriage laws in a country governed by individual laws relating to different religions’ customs. These laws only acknowledge a man’s unity with a woman that provides legal permission through religious permission. Any intervention in this regard will completely upset the delicate balance of individual laws in the country,” the affidavit said. India’s solicitor general has taken a stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“There are so many notable LGBTQ personalities in India. The acronym LGBTQ describes the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community.

India’s LGBTQ community is not focused on marriage equality right now. What they want is acceptance from their families, communities, and society. It is not their fault or decision, but they are born like that; others should not discriminate against them.

Hence the case and the counter affidavit by the government attracted much relevance now. The plaintiffs cannot claim same-sex marriage as a fundamental right. The Center also said that registering same-sex marriages violates existing legal provisions .’’Indian Parliament has designed and framed marriage laws in a country governed by individual laws relating to different religions’ customs. Any intervention in this regard will completely upset the delicate balance of particular rules in the country,” the affidavit said.

In a country with so many religions of very conservative customs and faith prevail, the court has a Herculean task to manage the already sensitive issue of same-sex marriage and redressing the grievances of the LGBTQ activists in the long run.

Money vs. Happiness

The question whether the rich are more satisfied with their lives is often taken for granted, even though surveys, like the Gallup World Poll, show that the relationship between subjective well-being and income is often weak, except in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia. Researcher Daniel Kahneman and his collaborators, for example, report that the correlation between household income and reported life satisfaction or happiness with life typically ranges from 0.15 to 0.30. There are a few plausible reasons. First, growth in income mostly has a transitory effect on individuals’ reported life satisfaction, as they adapt to material goods. Second, relative income, rather than the level of income, affects well-being — earning more or less than others looms larger than how much one earns. Third, though average life satisfaction in countries tends to rise with GDP per capita at low levels of income, there is little increase in life satisfaction once GDP per capita exceeds $10,000 (in purchasing power parity). This article studies the relationships between subjective well-being, which is narrowly defined to focus on economic well-being in India, and variants of income, based on the only panel survey in India Human Development Survey (IHDS).

Why do we need a new measure of well-being when there is already a widely used, objective welfare measure based on per capita income? There are several reasons. The first stems from the distinction between decision utility and experienced utility. In the standard approach to measure well-being, ordinal preferences are inferred from the observations of decisions made supposedly by rational (utility maximising) agents. The object derived is decision utility. In contrast, recent advances in psychology, sociology, behavioural economics and happiness economics suggest that decision utility is unlikely to illuminate the utility associated with different experiences — hence the emphasis on measures that focus more directly on experienced utility, notably using subjective well-being (SWB) responses.

We draw upon the two rounds of the IHDS for 2005 and 2012. An important feature of IHDS is that it collected data on SWB. The question asked was: compared to seven years ago, would you say your household is economically doing the same, better or worse today? So, the focus of this SWB is narrow. But as it is based on self-reports, it connotes a broader view that is influenced by several factors other than income, assets, and employment, like age, health, caste, etc.

There is a positive relationship between SWB and per capita expenditure (a proxy for per capita income, which is frequently underestimated and underreported): the higher the expenditure in 2005, the greater was the SWB in 2012. The priority of expenditure, in time, rules out reverse causation from high SWB to high expenditure, i.e., higher well-being could also be associated with better performance resulting in higher expenditure. High expenditure is associated with a decent standard of living, good schooling of children, and financial security. As India’s comparable GDP per capita in 2003 (PPP) was $2,270, well below the threshold of $10,000, it is consistent with extant evidence.

Aspirations and achievements

In order to capture the gap between aspirations and achievements, we have analysed the relationship between SWB and ratio of per capita expenditure of a household to the highest per capita expenditure in the primary sampling unit. Although this is a crude approximation to relative deprivation, we get a negative relationship between SWB and this ratio. In other words, the larger the gap, the greater is the sense of resentment and frustration, and the lower is the SWB.

The larger the proportionate increase in per capita expenditure between 2005 and 2012, the greater is the SWB. To illustrate this, we construct three terciles of expenditure in 2005: the first representing extremely poor, the second the middle class, and the third the rich. If the proportionate increase in per capita expenditure is highest among the extremely poor and lowest among the rich, the higher will be the SWB of the extremely poor. This is indeed the case.

This provides important policy insights. One is that in a lower-middle-income country like India, growth of expenditure or income is significant. However, the widening of the gap between aspirations and achievements or between the highest expenditure/income of a reference group and actual expenditure/income of a household reflects resentment, frustration and loss of subjective well-being. So, taxing the rich and enabling the extremely poor to benefit more from economic opportunities can enhance well-being. In conclusion, objective welfare and subjective well-being measures together are far more useful than either on its own.

(Veena S. Kulkarni teaches Sociology at Arkansas State University and is a co-author for this article. Raghav Gaiha is Research Affiliate, Population Studies Centre, University of Pennsylvania; Vani S. Kulkarni teaches Sociology at University of Pennsylvania. The Oped was published in the Hindu and at IPS)

A Full Year Of Americans’ Life Expectancy Lost Due To Covid

Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year in the first six months of 2020, the federal government reported on Thursday, the largest drop since World War II and a grim measure of the deadly consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Life expectancy is the most basic measure of the health of a population, and the stark decline over such a short period is highly unusual and a signal of deep distress. The drop comes after a troubling series of smaller declines driven largely by a surge in drug overdose deaths. A fragile recovery over the past two years has now been wiped out.

 

The data gives the first full picture of the pandemic’s effect on American expected life spans, which dropped to 77.8 years from 78.8 years in 2019. It also showed a deepening of racial and ethnic disparities: Life expectancy of the Black population declined by 2.7 years in the first half of 2020, slicing away 20 years of gains. The life expectancy gap between Black and white Americans, which had been narrowing, is now at six years, the widest it has been since 1998.

 

“I knew it was going to be large but when I saw those numbers, I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Elizabeth Arias, the federal researcher who produced the report, said of the racial disparity. Of the drop for the full population, she said, “We haven’t seen a decline of that magnitude in decades.”

 

Still, unlike the drop in life expectancy caused by the long-running, complex problem of drug overdoses, this one, driven largely by Covid-19, is not likely to last as long because deaths from the virus are easing and the population is slowly getting vaccinated. The last time a pandemic caused a major decline in life expectancy was 1918, when hundreds of thousands of Americans died from the flu pandemic. Life expectancy declined by a whopping 11.8 years from 1917 to 1918, Dr. Arias said, bringing average life spans down to 39 years. But it fully rebounded the following year as deaths eased.

 

Data released by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) has revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a decline of one year in the life expectancy of Americans during the first half of 2020 as the first wave of novel coronavirus hit the country. This is the biggest fall in life expectancy in the US since World War 2.

 

Life expectancy at birth is defined as the number of years a baby born today can expect to live. A baby born between January-June 2020 in the US had a life expectancy of 77.8 years, which is a full year shorter than the 78.8 years a baby born in 2019 is expected to live. In terms of gender divide, it was 75.1 years for males and 80.5 years for females.

The hardest hit has been the Black community, which saw a drop of 2.7 years in their life expectancy, to 72, followed by the Hispanics whose life expectancy declined 1.9 years to 79.9 years and Whites, who saw a drop of 0.8 years in their life expectancy to 78. The 6 year glaring chasm between the life expectancy of the Blacks and the Whites reverses a trend of narrowing the gap since 1993. There was no preliminary data for Asians and Native Americans

Living With Partner Linked To Higher Well-Being Amid Pandemic

Not your kids or pets, but living with your romantic partner can help you feel more socially connected during the pandemic, which may ultimately lead to higher well-being, a new study suggests.

 

The study indicates that people living with a romantic partner were most likely to improve in social connection after social distancing measures.  “Research prior to the pandemic has long shown that partners are one of the strongest predictors of social connection and well-being,” said researcher Karynna Okabe-Miyamoto from the University of California – Riverside.

 

“And our research during the current Covid-19 pandemic has shown the same. Living with a partner uniquely buffered declines in social connection during the early phases of the pandemic,” Okabe-Miyamoto added.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team included more than 800 adults in two studies. In the studies, participants reported their perceived social connection before and during the pandemic.

 

They were asked to rate statements such as “I felt close and connected with other people who are important to me” and “People are around me, but not with me.”

They were also asked to declare their social distancing adherence and whether they travel outside of the home for work.

 

Looking at participants before and during the pandemic, the researchers said that people living with a romantic partner were most likely to improve in social connection after social distancing measures.

 

Working outside the home did nothing to help people feel socially connected, nor did video calls with friends and family, the team said.

 

The researchers said the finding is consistent with past research that affirms romantic relationships lead to a greater sense of wellbeing and feeling connected. (IANS)

4 Steps to Walk Away From Loneliness

There are plenty of times where we may be alone—working remotely, commuting solo, or even living by ourselves. Just because we’re by ourselves doesn’t mean we feel lonely. Sometimes we thrive in this “alone time,” allowing us to do activities we enjoy on our own.

But many of us don’t like to admit we all feel lonely from time to time.

According to a 2018 survey by Cigna, nearly half of Americans reported sometimes or always feeling alone, and one in five people reported never feeling close to people.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines loneliness as “…discomfort or uneasiness from being or perceiving oneself to be alone….” The APA cites various reasons for loneliness, such as a lack of companionship or a lack of desired closeness in relationships.

Certain situations, such as moving to a new city, or a major life change, such as divorce, can contribute to feelings of loneliness. Any events that may negatively impact your social circles may make you feel lonely.

Mental health conditions can also play a factor. Someone with social anxiety may struggle to interact with others, even though they may crave human connection.

“Humans need social connections,” explained Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, psychologist and senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital. “When we don’t have them, it’s harder for us to handle things on our own. There are some issues and problems in this world that are best dealt with as a community.”

We can even feel alone when we’re surrounded by other people. For example, you may feel alone if traveling to a country where the language is unfamiliar to you. Often, teens who feel misunderstood by their parents and siblings may feel lonely at home.

“Some of us are introverts,” Coyne said, “but at the same time, we have a herd mentality. We need connections to survive.”

Confronting Loneliness

Regardless of the reason, loneliness is painful. Even worse, it can lead to mental health issues, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease, and physical conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

We can take steps, however, to cope with loneliness and even change our state of mind.

Step 1: Practice Gratitude

Studies have shown that acts of gratitude can help us feel more positive and have stronger relationships.

Think of the people in your life you appreciate. They may include someone from the past who had a major impact on your life, such as a mentor in your youth. Or they could be someone you see more frequently, such as the friend who recently helped you move.

Consider sending this person a handwritten card or letter, reaching out by email, or calling to express your appreciation. Not only will you likely brighten someone’s day with your action, but you will make yourself happier by fostering the connection and being kind.

Even silently recognizing a good person or situation in your life can develop a sense of gratitude.

Keeping a gratitude journal, in which you write about what you feel grateful for, can improve your mental health. Gratitude journaling helps us realize what we have in our lives as opposed to what we lack.

For a more targeted approach to gratitude journaling, follow the Three Good Things exercise in which you write about three good things (large or small) that happened throughout your day. Try the practice daily for a set period of time, such as one week, and note if your sense of loneliness has shifted.

Love and Isolation in the Time of COVID

Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz help us understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an increase in feelings of loneliness, while simultaneously creating difficulties in couples’ relationships from too much closeness.

Step 2: Participate in Meaningful Activities

By pursuing your passions, your mind and spirit are engaged, decreasing feelings of loneliness. By joining a recreational sports team, library book club, volunteer effort, or other activities you enjoy, you are also more likely to meet others who have shared interests.

If you find that you don’t see your friends as often as you’d like, consider setting up a recurring virtual gathering. Having a date and time planned in your calendar (for example, 2pm every other Tuesday) will encourage everyone to meet automatically and make it easy to maintain your connections with each other.

Step 3: Remember That You Are Unique

Feeling “less than” can contribute to feelings of loneliness.

Try to avoid comparing yourself to others. It is only human to look at someone else and feel sad when their surface-level feelings or apparent situation seem happier than our own.

“We have pretty critical minds,” said Coyne. “Our mind has evolved to be our threat detector. And our brain is going to be keeping an eye on things like: Are you doing all the things to connect? Are you keeping up with the Joneses?”

With these questions, she explained, some information can be useful—and some is not. “The only way to really tell is to defuse—step back and notice—that my mind is having a field day with my social interactions,” Coyne said. “And that gives me the liberty to ask: Is this helping me? Or can I organize my thoughts and mental energy in another way?”

Sometimes, if we get hooked on negative social evaluations, we can get stuck in organizing our behavior around avoidance. “As a result, you might not behave in a way that benefits you the most and instead you’re feeding negative personal judgment,” Coyne explained.

Alone and lonely are not the same; finding moments of solitude is healthy for the mind and body

Such comparisons can create a sense of distance from others. However, that increases our sense of isolation. It’s important to realize we never know what is going on in someone else’s life.

We all have good times as well as challenging periods in our lives—and keeping this universal truth in mind can help us feel connected. On the other hand, remember that you are unique: There is no one else on earth like you. It can be satisfying to recognize that you are doing what you can with what you have.

Step 4: Connect With Yourself

Solitude is different from loneliness because it is the state of being alone without necessarily feeling lonely. The word often implies there is an opportunity for reflection or doing things we enjoy.

While there are various ways you can reduce loneliness through connecting to others, consider the relationship you have with yourself and how you can enrich it. If you can do this, you may feel less isolated.

“Change your criteria for success,” said Coyne. “Don’t ask: Am I keeping up with whoever is in my social circles? Am I keeping up in a way that my mind says is comparable to others? Instead, ask yourself: Am I being true to myself today? Have I been kind or a good friend? Did I do things that are consistent with what I value?” Engaging in small mental choices and small habitual changes over time can give you a sense of self-efficacy, esteem, and comfort with yourself.

Set aside a period of time each day to check in with yourself. You could meditate, pray, practice yoga, or read a couple of pages of a spiritual text. This practice can be done in as little as five minutes, but it’s helpful to do it every day so it becomes a healthy habit.

Connecting with yourself doesn’t mean turning inward and calling it a day. We’ve all heard it before, but it’s so important to exercise and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. What we eat directly affects our body and mind.

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, consider cutting back on alcohol because it can make you feel worse. Additionally, getting enough sleep—7-9 hours per night for adults—is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

Even if You Feel Lonely—You Are Not Alone!

If you are feeling lonely, reach out to an understanding loved one. If your feelings of loneliness don’t go away or feel unbearable, or if you are feeling anxious or depressed, contact a mental health professional.

“How do you know if you’re taking care of yourself and your social relationships in a way that’s vital to you?” asked Coyne. “A good way to look at it is to ask yourself some of these questions: Are you avoiding doing things? How’s your mood? Do you feel disconnected? Do you feel guilty for not talking to friends, or are you talking yourself into social situations?” All of these can be signs that you need to take steps toward developing good, intimate, and authentic relationships.

Consider taking the step of making connections through a support group. Support groups address a variety of issues, from specific mental health conditions to various challenges, including grief and physical illness. Many groups are free and available online.

If you need help right away, contact a hotline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1.800.273.8255. Even if you’re feeling lonely, know that you are not alone.

Study Highlights Importance, Complexities Of Family Mealtimes

Mealtimes are a central aspect of family life, affecting the health and wellbeing of both children and adults. Although the benefits of healthy mealtimes are straightforward, helping all families realise those benefits is quite complicated, new research suggests.

The study highlights ways in which some solutions — such as an exclusive focus on improving food access or on improving mealtime preparation and organisation skills — may be less effective if done in isolation. “Family mealtimes are probably one of the most fundamental and frequent tasks that families engage in. If we are going to improve the health of children and families, effectively addressing family mealtimes will require some attention,” said Allen Barton from the University of Illinois in the US.

For the study, published in the journal Appetite, the team studied more than 500 families with elementary school-aged children throughout the state of Illinois. Family members responded to a host of questions on food security, food planning and preparation, and mealtime organisation. The researchers analysed the data for patterns and identified three distinct groups or family profiles.

The first profile, which comprised 55 per cent of the sample, was characterised as food secure and having high levels of household organisation. The families in this group reported the lowest levels of food insecurity and household chaos among the three profiles, as well as the highest levels of efficacy in preparing food.

The second profile was at the opposite end of the spectrum and included 27 per cent of the sample. “This group not only reports they are food insecure, but they also report the lowest levels of confidence in preparing and planning meals and most difficulty in daily structure and routine in the home,” the researcher said.

The third profile group, which comprised 18 per cent of the sample, had food security levels that ranged between the other two groups, but they reported levels of meal planning efficacy and household chaos similar to families in the food secure group.

That food insecurity is co-occurring with other family risk patterns means efforts to promote healthy family mealtimes should address multiple aspects, the researcher said. The researchers also identified specific differences among the groups in food preparation strategies and mealtime behaviours.

In particular, families in the second profile reported fewer weekly meals together, higher technology use during meals, and greater usage of away-from-home food preparation strategies than families in the other groups. All these behaviours correlate with less healthy food consumption and outcomes, the researcher said. (IANS)

Definition Of A Good Friend, According To Big B

Bollywood star and icon Amitabh Bachchan on Sunday offered the definition of a good friend. The actor said a good friend could be compared to white colour and explained why he feels this way.

“Good friends are like white colour, if you mix any colour in white, a new colour can be formed. But even if all colours of the world are mixed together, it cannot create white,” Amitabh Bachchan wrote in Hindi.

Last week, the veteran actor took to social media to celebrate his film “Black” completing 16 years of its release date. Talking about the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial, Big B (also referred to Amitabh Bachchan) said “Black” is a movie which was made way ahead of its time.

“It has been 16 years… since Debraj Sahai. “Black”…a movie way ahead of its time. Every dialogue, every instance in the movie was so beautifully crafted that it has engraved its existence in everyone’s heart, including mine. #16YearsOfBlack #RaniMukerji #SanjayLeelaBhansali,” Amitabh Bachchan recently shared on Instagram.

In the critically acclaimed film, Big B played Debraj Sahai, teacher of a differently-abled girl ‘Michelle McNally’ born with visual and hearing impairment. The character of Michelle was played by actress Rani Mukerji.

On the work front, Bachchan is currently shooting for the Ajay Devgn directorial film “MayDay”. Directed and produced by Devgn, “MayDay” also stars actress Rakul Preet Singh. (IANS)

(Picture: Statesman)

Indian Couple Takes The Plunge To Marry Underwater

Talk about making the wedding unique! Scuba diving proposals are fairly common, but have you ever come across an underwater wedding? This couple here from Tamil Nadu literally took a plunge as they dived down 60 feet underwater to get married! The underwater wedding happened off the coast of Neelankarai in Chennai, and yes, we are as intrigued as you are!

A couple literally took the plunge and got married 20 metres underwater off the coast of Chennai, a city in southern India.  V Chinnadurai and S Swetha donned traditional clothes and exchanged garlands in a Hindu ceremony – all underwater.

And if you think that the couple are some pro divers who decided to have an underwater wedding, you couldn’t be more mistaken. The bride, Shwetha took special scuba diving lessons to prepare for her big plunge! And they had a whole wedding setup underwater, with an arch made with coconut leaves, decor with flowers, banana leaves and even jaimalas! And instead of the usual scuba suits, the couple wore traditional clothes! The groom wore a veshti and the bride wore a saree.

The entire ceremony was recorded before the couple swam back up to celebrate with family and friends. Plus, they had another agenda for their wedding too, they wanted to create awareness about waste accumulation in the sea. Now isn’t that a wedding to remember?

(Footage courtesy of Temple Adventures)

Men Are Not Expressive In Their Friendships

Expressing yourself leads to better mental health, something that’s crucial for us all during a global pandemic. But, it turns out that Indian men are not keen on showing emotion, no matter how close the bond with their friend is.

A recent survey by YouGov India & McDowell’s No1 Soda has revealed that most friends prefer to not express their true emotions. The survey conducted across the country among men in the age group of 25-45 years aimed to understand the complex nature of Indian friendships. Here are some of the findings. 

 

  60% of the people said they call/reach out to their family members and partners every day. However, when it came to best friends, less than one-third (28%) stated that they are able to keep in touch on a daily basis. 

  However, over 50% of them are likely to reach out to their friends first and foremost if they were left stranded in the middle of the night, indicating that the relationship is not just casual, but one that’s based on dependability. 

    Close to 7 in 10 (68%) say that they don’t actually tell their best friends how they feel about them very often. This was further validated where the respondents said, even though friends are trusted to come to the rescue in difficult times, talking to them about feelings or emotions is somehow not the “norm”, and is saved for times of need. 

  The reasons indicate that they believe the bond to be stronger than words can express. Whilst 44% say that they don’t do it “Because it is not .. 

  Whilst 44% say that they don’t do it “Because it is not required, they know how I feel”; another 38% say that its “Because they mean more to me than I can express in words.” 

  Data suggests that they are most likely to do it when things are not right – like when either of them is facing any stress in personal life (56%), or when either of them is heart broken or had their heart broken (42%) 

The survey also brought forth statistics that confirmed that nearly 40% of the men interviewed in this survey agreed that the frequency of calling/reaching out to their friends had gone down compared to a time before the pandemic. Whereas, 7 in every 10 men also indicated that the pandemic has not been able to shake their bond – while on one hand, 38% of the men agreed that talking to a friend helps them feel normal during these times, another 32% say that despite the physical restrictions, their friendship has remained strong.

Alarming Rate Of Nation’s Opioid Deaths

On 5th July 2020, Ikonkar Manmohan Singh Sandhu, a young 23 year old boy, died from an opioid overdose in Michigan just months before he was to be married. He is by no means an isolated case in the Indian American community.

 

A small group of doctors are sounding the alarm on the nation’s opioid crisis. Dr. Arun Gupta is one of those who is urging health authorities to wake up to this catastrophe, which is ripping through communities with scant regard for race, gender, educational level or financial standing.

 

To be fair, before COVID-19 ravaged the country, the growing opioid addiction was giving the nation’s health officials sleepless nights. The pandemic put this issue on the back burner and while more Americans are dying from the virus, it can be just as deadly if left unchecked.

 

Opioid overdoses have killed more than 70,000 young people annually between the ages of

18-54 for the past five years. In 2011, the CDC reported that overdose deaths superseded auto accident deaths for the first time in 32 states This is now virtually true for all 50 states. The organization also reported that more than 700,000 young Americans have died between 1999- 2017 from poly drug overdose. That number is expected to be as high as one million by the end of 2020. The report further states that, “preventable disease & retroactive analysis show that most of these deaths were unintentional.”  Isolation, stress and the depression, that came in the wake of the pandemic is shooting cases through the roof. “Parents are burying their children and children are burying their parents,” says Dr. Gupta.

 

Dr. Gupta is quick to rid you of the rosy view that Indo American families have been unaffected by this affliction. It is a growing trend in the community, he says, largely due to parents’ unrealistic expectations for their children or the ABCD generation that faces conflicting cultures. What worsens it, is that many are either in denial or wary of seeking professional help for fear of being stigmatized or shunned. These are lives that could have easily been saved, he laments, much like the case of a distant relative who died because the family hesitated to reach out for help or were unaware of the problem.

 

A physician for 34 years, of which 14 are as a doctor of addiction management, Dr. Gupta has seen enough to be worried. He has been charting the surge in cases throughout the nation for the past decade and is seeing it played out at his doorstep – the rural region of Monroe, Michigan where he runs his private practice.

 

For 11 years, Dr Gupta was the local prison doctor where he saw the interplay of drugs and death up close and the ineffectiveness of the administration’s efforts to curb it. This pushed him to change tracks from being a general physician to addiction management. Rural communities, he observes, are more prone to opioid addiction than urban areas where the population is better educated and have higher paying jobs. The problem is compounded when there is family instability, lack of education, poverty,  physical, mental and sexual abuse in childhood, mental illness or addiction both in the family and the patient.

 

So why are addictive opioids prescribed in the first place and how do they hook us? About 25 years ago, pharma company Purdue, manufacturers of the painkiller Oxycodone, pushed the government to sanction prescribing painkillers for non-cancer related pain. The American Pain Society also classified pain as the fifth vital sign after blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and weight. Statistically, 40% of the country’s population is in chronic pain and many require pain medication to carry out their daily activities or even go in to work.

 

Addiction starts innocuously enough with a prescription for a painkiller to treat post-surgery or chronic pain as in instances of back pain. Consuming these painkillers diminishes the pain but also brings on a euphoric feeling as it raises dopamine – the brain’s pleasure hormone. Celebrities like Michael Jackson were known to use them before a performance, a term referred to as, “spotlight euphoria.” Additionally, it changes the perception of reality for those dealing with psychological issues such as an inferiority complex or anxiety,  these people now start “liking themselves and feeling good.” This altered reality quickly spirals into an emotional and social need followed by dependence and cravings for the painkiller.

 

The signs of addiction are evident in drastic mood changes, lethargy or impaired decision-making, among others. Discontinuing the painkillers could lead to a host of withdrawal symptoms such as chills, tremors, body aches, bone pain, vomiting, diarrhea or irregular respiration. However, Dr. Gupta clarifies that not everyone gets addicted to painkillers and the risk of  addiction is only about 10%.

 

Soon, Oxycodone grew so popular that it began to have, “street value.” When prescriptions ran out, users turned to the streets where it could be obtained illegally. Hustlers began faking health issues to procure and sell these painkillers giving rise to the term “pill-mill.” The cost of one milligram of Oxycontin is one dollar so someone using 1000mg was spending $1000 a day. While insurance took care of legitimate prescriptions, those who were addicted were shelling out their own money. This, of course, was done in connivance with “some doctors who played the game.” Dr. Gupta estimates that about 1000 doctors have been apprehended so far for violating this practice and have “tarnished the image of doctors.”

 

There is an obvious connection between mental disorders and addictive disorders and its consequences can sometimes be life threatening. Doctors, however, are required by law to treat pain with painkillers even if there is a sense/awareness that this medication could become addictive to the patient. On the other hand, if doctors practice caution in prescribing pain medication, they risk a bad review on their practice, something every doctor understandably wants to avoid.

 

In 1999, the Center for Disease Control went on record for the first time and shared its report of 4000 young Americans who died from drugs. The government scrutinized the problem and rolled out the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. For the first time, this law allowed practicing doctors to learn and treat addiction with an FDA approved drug. The law also stipulated that any practicing doctor could complete an addiction program and receive a X DEA license which would allow them to treat 30 patients per month for a year. If the doctor’s records are found in order, they could treat 100 patients per month. Past President Barack Obama signed a law that would allow some doctors with specific credentials to treat 275 patients a month. This number was controlled to prevent its misuse but sometimes the best-intentioned laws have unintended consequences.

 

This one did.

 

Only 4300 doctors in the US can treat 275 patients a month and Dr. Gupta is one of them. It’s a drop in the ocean for the estimated 20-40 million people who need help overcoming their addiction. There are more than 100,000 healthcare providers in the country that include doctors, nurses and physician assistants who have the necessary X- DEA credentials  to treat opioid use disorders. But less than 20,000 are actively involved in dealing with the growing opioid epidemic in the country. This lack of access to a healthcare provider aggravates the problem leading to more deaths than recoveries. Meanwhile, the pandemic has not made things easier. There is excessive stress and limited counselling due to the shutdowns and prescriptions cannot be given on the phone without the necessary drug testing. This explains the rise in overdose deaths and addiction cases in the past nine months.

 

Apart from flawed policy, the American Society of Addiction states that every doctor who graduates from medical school is required to study addiction management. There are 179 medical schools and approximately 9000 residency programs in the country and not one of them teaches this course.  Moreover, addiction management is not considered on par with other areas of medical specialization and neither do insurance companies view addiction like other chronic diseases such as blood pressure or diabetes.

 

In 2002, a drug Buprenorphine was approved for addiction treatment and ten years later another drug Zubsolv made it to treatment plans. These drugs block the opioid receptors in the brain and reduce a person’s craving for the painkiller. Another ingredient in the drug, naloxone, reverses the effects of opioids. Together, they prevent withdrawal symptoms and deter the abuser from snorting or injecting it. Dr. Gupta pairs medication with counselling, and non-addictive medication in cases of insomnia or anxiety. Recovery takes anywhere from six weeks to six months depending on the severity of the addiction, but the struggle to remain clean continues for the rest of their lives.

 

With death rates from opioid misuse surging, more than 500 laws were enacted in the last 10 years against doctors, pill mills and pharmaceutical companies to curb the problem but this has only exacerbated the issue. Addicts are now forced to go to the streets instead of visiting a doctor for treatment. Dr. Gupta notes that national autopsy results over the last 5 years consistently show that fentanyl, heroin and cocaine are the first three drugs in more than 55% of the people with drug overdose deaths as opposed to prescription medication.

 

Over the past few years, Dr. Gupta has presented more than 150 talks to schools, doctors, healthcare systems and social organizations like Rotary clubs and the Kiwanis Club to highlight the gravity of the problem and his message that addiction can be cured. He is talking to elected officials to leverage their influence and galvanize the government to rethink the limit of patients and allow greater access to people who want to overcome their addiction. 

 

Addiction, he warns, has become synonymous with a death sentence in this country.

 

 

(Picture Courtesy: Times Herald)

Unintentional Drowning Risk Factors: How and Where People Drown

Unintentional drowning is a terrifying experience with an astonishing prevalence. New World Health Organization statistics indicate that drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death, accounting for 7% of all such deaths – 320,000 annually. What’s more, there are indications that this figure is underestimated. By analyzing the reasons why people lose their life to water, and focusing on improving standards in those areas, global authorities can help to minimize this figure.

The danger of watercraft

According to the CDC, two primary risk factors involved with drowning are an inability to swim and a lack of life jacket use. This is clearly not an issue in shallow water, and is rather associated with recreational craft usage. This could be a way to vastly reduce the amount of deaths in water, and is dependent on standards being implemented that seek to raise awareness of drowning risks on watercraft and ensure that all who embark take the necessary precautions. This will be a very constructive first step in addressing the wider problem.

A poverty gap

According to WHO statistics, low and middle income countries account for 90% of all drowning deaths. Conversely, developed countries such as the USA experience the majority of their deaths in the developed income category – generally, those taking leisure events. The likely cause of many people in low income countries losing their life to drowning stems from a need to undertake economic activity in poorly regulated environments. It is important that governments, internationally, who profit from cheaper labor, put pressure on for better standards and support this economically.

Better medical care

Improving medical care will help to save some lives in these countries, and it will also help to raise awareness of factors that can influence drowning. CNN note that conditions such as epilepsy and heart disease can create risk factors that are otherwise not present. Having a solid healthcare and support system in place to ensure people are aware of these risks and can respond accordingly is going to be important in ensuring that all people have equal access to safe swimming and a reduced risk of drowning.

Bringing these factors together can create real change across the world. Drowning is an avoidable death in the majority of cases, and much can be done to stop it impacting families globally. As always, the power lies in the hands of lawmakers.

This could be a way to vastly reduce the amount of deaths in water, and is dependent on standards being implemented that seek to raise awareness of drowning risks on watercraft and ensure that all who embark take the necessary precautions. This will be a very constructive first step in addressing the wider problem.

WHO ARE YOU?

This question, when I heard it for the first time, really raised my blood pressure with a bit of anger raged in my subconscious mind. He was staring at me as if I am a stranger, seeing him for the first time. I have been reading his favorite books and sometimes feeding him for the last few months, all turned futile and null today.
I have been volunteering in a reputed Retirement Home in Kentucky, often with my boss Robert Meihaus during our weekends. This Resident who has been an Executive Officer with Reserve Bank of India for more than 30 years is now under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. He very rarely speaks and his soft and feeble talks in Kannada and Hindi, could not be recognized by the Caregivers; that is where my services were of great importance to the facility.

Once I understood the depth of the disease tormenting his brain; gradually I became very patient and did spend my time according to his wishes. Every time I went to his room, miserably I was a stranger to him.
In the United States, an estimated 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This catastrophic figure is growing rapidly with the aging population.
Let me reiterate some thoughts on this tormenting disease I recently read, which elaborates the importance of our Coconut Oil to deal and manage this hiding enemy, which might have already hooked some of our relatives, or maybe awaiting for us at the threshold to creep in at any moment.
One of them to be a model patient on this topic is Mr. Stevenson. His wife, Dr. MarIanne learned that her husband had severe Alzheimer’s disease. (Thanks Dr. Mary and Steve Newport)
“When the doctor examined her husband at the hospital, he asked Stevenson to paint a clock. Instead, he drew a few circles and then drew a few figures without any logic. It was not like a clock at all!.
The doctor pulled her aside and said: “Your husband is already on the verge of severe Alzheimer’s disease!”
It turned out that it was a test of whether a person had Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. MarIanne was very upset at that time, but as a doctor, she would not just give up. She began to study the disease. She found out Alzheimer’s disease was associated with glucose deficiency in the brain.
Her research says: “The dementia of the elderly is like having diabetes in the head! Before one has the symptoms of diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease, the body has already had problems for 10 to 20 years.”
According to Dr. Marianne’s study, Alzheimer’s disease is very similar to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The cause is also an insulin imbalance. Because insulin has a problem, it prevents the brain cells from absorbing glucose. Glucose is the nutrition of brain cells. Without glucose, brain cells die. As it turns out, these high-quality proteins are the cells that feed our bodies. But nutrition for our brain cell is glucose. As long as we have mastered the source of these two kinds of food, we are the masters of our own health!
The next question is, where to find glucose? It cannot be the ready-made glucose that we buy from the store. It is not from fruits such as grapes. She started looking for alternatives. Ketones are necessary for brain cells. Ketones cannot be found in vitamins. 
*Coconut oil* contains triglycerides. After the triglycerides in *coconut oil* is consumed, it is metabolized into ketones in the liver. This is the alternative nutrient for brain cells!
After this scientific verification, Dr. Marianne added *coconut oil* to her husband’s food. After only two weeks, when he went to the hospital again to do painting and clock tests, the progress was amazing.
Dr. Marianne said: “At that time, I thought, has God heard my prayers? Wouldn’t it be coconut oil that worked? But there is no other way. Anyway, it’s better to continue taking the*coconut oil*. Dr. Marianne clearly knew the capabilities of traditional medicine. 

This progress was not only intellectual but also emotional and physical.: “He could not do his running earlier, but now he can run. He could not read for a year and a half, but he can read again now after taking *coconut oil* for three months.”
Her husband’s actions had already begun to change. He did not speak in the mornings. Now she noticed a lot of changes: “Now after he gets up, he is spirited, talking and laughing. He drinks water himself and takes utensils for himself on his own.” On the surface, these are very simple daily tasks, but only those who have come to the clinic or have demented relatives at home can experience the joy: It is not easy to see such progress!
After frying the greens & onions in coconut oil, making cakes with coconut, after taking 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut oil per meal, 2-3 months later, his eyes too can now focus normally.
Her studies proved that *coconut oil* can improve the problem of dementia in the elderly. Apply *coconut oil* to bread. When coconut cream is used, the taste is unexpectedly good.
Dementia is caused because nutrients cannot be transported to brain cells, and nutrients must be passed from the body to the brain by insulin. Especially for diabetic patients it’s not easy to get insulin secretion. “Nutrition cannot get to the brain. When brain cells are starved to death, they are deprived of intelligence.”
*Coconut oil* contains medium-chain triglyceride, which can supply nutrients to the brain without using insulin. So, it can improve Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. You won’t lose anything by trying this, as coconut oil is natural and has no side effects.
I also hear that many scientific studies are happening in clinical trials, to stop the hidden death clock that is inside each of our cells: because many experts affirm that the same death clock is the root cause of virtually all aging and chronic diseases.
Be not be scared to survive in an increasingly dangerous world: though we do not know what is in store for us!

The Covid-19 Baby Boom

In June of 2020, three months after the COVID pandemic began in earnest in the United States, we wrote a report suggesting that the public health crisis and associated recession would result in 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021. Six months later, we have been asked several times if we have an updated estimate. We have revisited the issue and stand by our initial prediction of a large reduction in births. Based on our previous methodology and a labor market that improved somewhat more quickly than we anticipated, we place more emphasis on the lower range of our original estimate, likely closer to 300,000 fewer births. However, additional factors that we did not incorporate into our model – in particular, ongoing school and day care closures – might very well mean a larger reduction in births than that.
It will still be several months before birth data will become available that will enable us to count the “missing” births. Additional survey evidence has come out, though, since we released our initial report that supports a coming baby bust. Corroborating evidence generated since our June report supports our prediction of a baby bust next year. A survey conducted by Laura D. Lindberg, Alicia VandeVusse, Jennifer Mueller and Marielle Kirstein of the Guttmacher Institute reveals that that 34 percent of American women have either delayed their plans to have a child or reduced the number of children they expect to have as a result of the pandemic. A different survey conducted by Francesca Luppi, Bruno Arpino, and Alessandro Rosina shows that European women similarly report that they plan to postpone giving birth or have fewer children.
Levels of sexual activity have also fallen. In one survey (conducted by Justin Lehmiller, Justin Garcia, Amanda Gesselman, and Kristen Mark of the Kinsey Institute), almost half of adults surveyed report a decline in their sex lives. In another (conducted by Devel Hensel, Molly Rosenberg, Maya Luetke, Tsungchieh Fu, and Debby Herbenick at the University of Indiana), those with young children and, particularly, those with school-age children report the largest declines in intercourse.
One way to gauge individual behavior is to examine what they search for in Google; these data are available through Google Trends. A study by Joshua Wilde, Wei Chen, and Sophie Lohmann based on these data supports our prediction of reduced fertility. The authors report that searches for pregnancy-related terms, such as “ClearBlue” (a pregnancy test), “ultrasound,” and “morning sickness” have fallen since the pandemic began. Based on the reduced searches for pregnancy-related terms, the authors of that study forecast a reduction of births on the order of 15 percent, an even larger drop than what we forecasted.
In the six months that have elapsed since our original June report, labor market conditions have improved more rapidly than experts were predicting back in June. A key element of our forecast for declining births was based on our empirical analysis that found that a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate is associated with a one percent drop in the birth rate. We applied that estimated relationship to the expectation of a seven to 10 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, which was in line with Federal Reserve expectations.
From today’s vantage point, it looks more likely that unemployment will have risen by around 5.5 percentage points in the year following the start of the pandemic (April 2020 through March 2021) from 3.5 percent to roughly nine percent. This estimate is based on observed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for April through November and assumes little change in the next few months. Using this revised expected change in unemployment, we would predict a 5.5 percent reduction in births from the unemployment effect alone. Applying that to the number of births in 2019 (3.75 million) suggests 206,000 fewer births in 2021.
Our original forecast also incorporated an additional reduction in births coming from the anxiety and social conditions associated with the public health crisis. We incorporated this into our forecast by examining the experience of the 1918 Spanish Flu. Back then, every spike in the death rate attributable to the flu was associated with a dramatic reduction in births nine months later. We relied on that evidence to increase our forecast based solely on labor market conditions by one to three additional percent, or another 38,000 to 114,000 fewer births.
The public health crisis has unfolded much as anticipated in the spring and similar in magnitude to the 1918 experience. That pandemic led to 408,000 deaths in the year after it began. Currently 290,000 deaths have occurred as of December 8 and 539,000 deaths are forecast to occur by April 1. The population of the United States is three times as large today as it was in 1918, but medical care has significantly improved, which should have reduced the death rate for a similar level of disease. We see no reason to alter our forecast based on these data. Combining the updated impact of the recession with our earlier additional impact of the public health crisis indicates that we should expect a baby bust in the range of about 245,000 to 320,000.
Yet there are reasons to believe that our July prediction might understate the impact on fertility. Ongoing school closures are putting tremendous strain on families that may reduce their willingness to have more children. Restrictions on public gatherings and social encounters might mean fewer new couplings that could lead to pregnancies, intended or otherwise. The extended nature of this crisis also is likely to create large structural changes in the economy; a sizable share of the jobs lost will be permanent. The longer the duration of the income loss that workers expect, the more likely it is that delayed births will never happen. We did not attempt to make any predictions based on these additional factors because we had no previous context or data from which to draw empirical conclusions.
It will still be several months before data will be available on the number of post-pandemic births that we can use to begin to assess our forecast. In the meantime, we have revisited our prediction based on the most recent evidence available. As of now, we stand by our prediction of a COVID baby bust of around 300,000 fewer births. But the longer the pandemic lasts, and the deeper the economic and social anxiety runs, it is feasible that we will see an even larger reduction in births with an increasing share of them averted permanently.

30 Writing Prompts about Love: What is a writing prompt?

A prompt is a writing exercise in the form of a single word, phrase, or even a photo used as a starting point to focus and practice creative writing. This exercise is important for writers of any level to expand their craft and explore new grounds. It can be the inspiration behind an idea, an article, or even a whole work of fiction. The point is to begin writing whether it is on the specific topic of the prompt or an entirely different one that you wander to.
Why use writing prompts?
Overcome writer’s block. There is nothing more daunting than a blinking cursor on your screen. Whether you are in the middle of your piece or trying to come up with something new, a prompt can get you going in a new direction. Resetting your brain to a new angle can be just what you need to finish your work or turn on a creative light bulb.
Expand creatively. Working with prompts can actually be a great way to start building your own ideas. Some prompts can lead you to new avenues that you have not yet explored as a writer. The more you wander into new territories, the more imaginative and creative your writing can be. In addition, the materials you end up writing following a prompt can in fact prove to be worth pursuing. You never know what could come out once you start writing, sometimes, it can be way more than you expected.
Form a habit. If you are an aspiring writer, you might be struggling with making a habit out of writing or finishing your pieces on time. Doing more and more writing exercises can be genuinely beneficial to improve your skills as well as help you write more regularly. The more you train your brain using these prompts, the easier you will find writing to be.
Get immersed in the community. During your search for writing prompts, you will encounter many blogs, forums, and Facebook groups that share ideas, review writing and offer support. Getting involved in these communities can be great for any writer in order to meet like-minded people and form meaningful relationships with fellow writers.
30 writing prompts about love and relationships
Writing about love may seem trivial to some, but it is actually one of the most sought-after genres of fiction. Love is at the core of the human condition, and it is what drives us to do a lot of what we do even if it is irrational or strange. That’s why love is at the center of any powerful story from Wuthering Heights to Star Wars.

It is not the easiest thing to write about love especially with so many clichés out there. To write a realistic and moving love story, whether it is romantic or Platonic, a writer must dig deep within themselves and be truly vulnerable in their expression. It means to look past the clichés and tropes and find the truth between characters.

Even if writing about love is not your forte or your preferred genre, a spice of love in your horror, thriller, or adventure piece of fiction is necessary for an emotional dimension to your storytelling.
So without further ado, here are 30 writing prompts that can inspire your next piece of writing:

  • Friends with benefits: happily ever after or a terrible idea?
  • Enemies forced to work on a common goal: will they or won’t they?
  • Their break up was a mistake but is it too late?
  • They are from different worlds. Can they find a way?
  • Lies have corrupted their relationship. Is there room for a second chance?
  • Forced apart by reasons beyond their control. Will they ever find their way back?
  • Afraid of rejection: what happens when you risk it all for love?
  • Fighting for a cause: romance within the wreckage
  • What happens when they reveal their true supernatural selves?
  • When time travel and love collide in a single second. Can they find each other?
  • They found love in a lucid dream. Can it become a reality?
  • Can love survive with a workaholic partner?
  • How to hold on to the person of your dreams?
  • How to choose the perfect partner for you?
  • How to make your partner feel loved?
  • Signs your relationship is healthy
  • Red flags that mean you need to run from your relationship
  • How does love make you a better person?
  • How can an unhealthy relationship affect you?
  • Communication: the key to a successful relationship
  • Love clichés that actually ring true
  • Unexpected places to meet new people
  • Finding love in a hopeless place
  • The most challenging parts of maintaining a relationship
  • The unforgivable sins of love, lust, and betrayal
  • How to save a failed relationship?
  • Can long distance really work?
  • How to revive romance in a dead relationship?
  • How to heal a broken heart?
  • The power of ‘I love you’

Love is all around us wherever we look. From the love our mothers give us to the support we shower our friends with finding the one, love is an essential part of your story. When you write characters, love has to be part of their story too. These prompts can help you find the angle of romance in your fiction piece or inspire you to write your own version.