Improve Your Skin by Showering Less

There are a million products out there which claim to be great for skin and will even improve it, what if there’s a simpler way? In a new book, Clean: The New Science of Skin, the easiest and best solution for improving you skin is to stop over cleaning it with too much soap. In North America it’s common to shower everyday, which leads to water wastage and to poor skin health; whereas, in other cultures it’s more common to shower every 2-3 days. Once you stop showering everyday your skin will thank you and so will the planet.

Of course, you should keep washing your hands!

But what soap hoarders and hawkers overlook is that wiping out our symbiotic microbes may make us more vulnerable to other, unexpected maladies. First-line eczema treatments, for instance, include topical antibiotics, cleansers, and drugs that dampen immune response, but some researchers say these approaches can make the condition worse in the long run. “Perturbing the skin barrier by washing or scratching can change the microbial population,” Hamblin notes. “That can rev up the immune system, which tells the skin cells to proliferate rapidly and fill with inflammatory proteins.”

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Africa Free of Wild Polio

We can deal with diseases, viruses, and other health ills through collective efforts. This week it’s been announced that the entire continent of Africa is free of polio spreading in the wild. After decades of working to eradicate it, people can now rest easy. There was no single solution that worked, instead it was a series of measures that culminated in such success!

Polio is a virus which spreads from person to person, usually through contaminated water. It can lead to paralysis by attacking the nervous system.

Two out of three strains of wild polio virus have been eradicated worldwide. On Tuesday, Africa has been declared free of the last remaining strain of wild poliovirus.

More than 95% of Africa’s population has now been immunised. This was one of the conditions that the Africa Regional Certification Commission set before declaring the continent free from wild polio.

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A Torrent of Good News About Our Understanding of COVID-19

Dr. John Campbell has been the most levelheaded individual providing regular updates on the state of COVID-19 that I’ve been able to find (other than government and academic reports). Since February he’s been tracking the development of COVID-19 and our response to it. Along the way he’s been doing an excellent job of educating viewers on all he’s learned. A really great thing about Dr. Campbell is that he readily admits what he doesn’t know and if he’s wrong about something he provides an update, thankfully he rarely speculates (unlike other YouTubers who benefit from fear mongering).

Here’s his latest video and it’s all about how we’re getting better at fighting COVID-19 and understanding how our bodies respond to the virus.

Cleaning Our Air Can Save Millions of Lives, Trillions of Dollars

fog
fog

Thanks to the pandemic we’ve all gotten a taste of cleaner air, and we all want that to continue. Clean air isn’t just good for better views of the horizon and a more pleasant place it to live, it’s also good for global health and for government coffers. Yes, governments can save money if we pollute less (despite Chevron’s best efforts).

Importantly, many of the benefits can be accessed in the near term. Right now, air pollution leads to almost 250,000 premature deaths a year in the US. Within a decade, aggressive decarbonization could reduce that toll by 40 percent; over 20 years, it could save around 1.4 million American lives that would otherwise be lost to air quality.

Of the potential yearly deaths prevented, Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois remarked at the hearing, “That’s a huge number. That’s nearly three times the number of lives we lose in car accidents every year. It’s twice the number of deaths caused by opioids in the past few years. And it’s even more than the number of Americans we lose to diabetes each year.”

If the numbers are shocking, it’s because the science has been developing rapidly. First, says Shindell, “there’s been a huge upsurge in work in developing countries, in particular China,” which has produced larger data sets and a wider, fuller picture of the real-world effects of exposure.

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We Evolved to Walk and it’s Great for our Health

a couple, bicycles

Walking is great! Most of us have heard that we should get 10,000 steps a day to maintain our health, but walking is more than just taking steps. Shane O’Mara in his book In Praise of Walking explores what walking is all about (hint: it’s everything that makes us human). It matters where we walk too, so be sure to get out into some nature for a meaningful walk instead of sticking to concrete.

O’Mara, a professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College in Dublin, writes in straightforward prose, methodically presenting research and studies in support of his thesis that walking has not only been crucial to human evolution but is essential to our health. Studies show that regular walking mobilizes changes in the structure of our brain that can increase volume in the areas associated with learning and memory. He dedicates a chapter to the science behind human navigation and describes how the selective memories of our wanderings are central components of our experiences and ability to make “maps of the world we have experienced.”

O’Mara argues that walking influences many aspects of cognition — how we think, reason, remember, read, and write. In particular, there is a vital relationship between movement of the body and the flow of thinking. “Since antiquity it has been recognized that a good walk is an excellent way to think problems through,” he writes.

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