Archive for September, 2011

Cost of health

Any idea what the cost of health is? A new World Health Organization (WHO) study says that developing countries could greatly reduce about 60 percent of all disease and premature death for about $1.20 per person annually. Sounds cheap, doesn’t it? The new analysis focuses on chronic or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in poorer countries and concludes that low-cost, high-impact steps to reduce NCD risks could dramatically improve health and quality of life in these countries. What are we talking about? Things like discouraging smoking and alcohol consumption, improving food supply and daily meal quality, and other measures to combat well-understood health risks associated with industrialization and increasing income in the developing world.

So why isn’t this a no-brainer? One reason is the force of tradition and culture, including the related fact of life that the benefits of health efforts are still widely under-appreciated – by regular people and political leaders around the world. Another reason is that not all these countries have popular governments, and of those that do, few have made progressive health and quality of life promotion their basic mission or focus. Add to this mix the influence of monied interests who benefit from an unhealthy status quo. Finally, consider the still only fair leadership by the developed world to show how an overriding focus on health and well-being can look in principle and alter life in practice. The sum of this equation: there remains both much work to do and enormous human quality of life impacts waiting to be had on the cheap today. Learn more about the new WHO study at $1.20 Per Person and explore HumanaNatura’s proposal for health-centered communities and nations via our Community Health Program.

Photo courtesy of Money.

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Time in nature

Can we be naturally healthy as human-beings without regular time in nature? Perhaps, but there is considerable evidence that frequent and intimate contact with the natural world greatly improves our long-term health, well-being, and quality of life. In the least, it affords us an alternative perspective on our lives and the technological and human-centered environment where most of us live today. It may be valuable for this reason alone. If it has been more than thirty days since you were in wild nature, we would encourage a re-immersion as soon as you can. After being away from the natural world, we are often surprised by what we reliably find when we return to it – ourselves.

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Equinox greetings!

Greetings from HumanaNatura at the equinox! In the natural year, we are at the halfway point between the extreme light and darkness of the two solstices. Everywhere on earth, there is a special balance right now – in the mix of light and night at least, and often in other aspects of life as well.

Because of the added natural balance that comes to us and our environment twice yearly at the equinox, HumanaNatura encourages use of this special time for reflection and goal-setting. Now, and every equinox, is an ideal natural time to take stock of our life and personal efforts over the prior few months and specifically to renew and revise our Natural Life Plan. If you do not yet have a Natural Life Plan – guiding your use and personal expression of the advanced HumanaNatura health techniques of Natural Living and Natural Communities – the link above will take you to our planning worksheets and get you started.

Our newest community newsletter was released today as well, which is published eight times yearly in harmony with the natural year. To receive future HumanaNatura newsletters and learn about the benefits of membership in our global practitioner-advocate network, go to Join HumanaNatura.

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Computer doc-ing

After its well-publicized defeat of human trivia geniuses at Jeopardy, it was only a matter of time before IBM’s Watson supercomputer was set upon more socially impactful areas. In the news are reports that a major U.S. health care coverage provider has teamed up with IBM to see if Watson can successfully diagnose medical ailments and authorize treatments – by combing electronic patient medical records and expert care protocols with its artificial intelligence algorithms. While it can sometimes take weeks to see a doctor for non-urgent care, the eventual goal of the project is to render a diagnosis and suggest a course of treatment in less than three seconds, and to do so more accurately than a human physician. An enormous change by any measure.

Though the project is of course fraught with short-term technical and acceptance issues, it is a sign of our times and a likely trend in many other professional and expertise-based service areas. Ultimately, this trend promises to improve service quality, reduce costs and waiting, and curtail the need for human delivery of routine services. It also promises to move employment in these areas toward the creation and oversight of expert systems, and to greatly reduce traditional forms of employment overall. Learn more about Watson’s latest assignment at Supercomputer To Tackle Health Services, and consider the likely human impacts and opportunities waiting in the trend of increasing automation via a new HumanaNatura article by Mark Lundegren, The Real New Economy.

Photo courtesy of IBM Watson.

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What salad

In honor of Facebook’s confusing new release today, a question mark of mixed greens, flanked by an egg scramble and a melange of berries and figs…garnished with random herbs and seasonings we cannot explain…

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Fight plaque!

Need another reason to ensure lifelong cardiovascular health and reduced “bad” or low-density blood cholesterol levels? A new study by Kyushu University has found that high cholesterol levels at mid-life are a strong predictor of the brain plaques and reduced cognitive functioning associated with Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Although the findings are preliminary and additional data is expected over the course of this ongoing longitudinal study, they are significant already and suggest perhaps a 35 percent increase in Alzheimer’s risk via unnaturally elevated blood cholesterol levels. Read more about the new study at Cholesterol-Alzheimer’s Link and review HumanaNatura’s lifelong nutritional and exercise guidelines in the Natural Eating and Natural Exercise sections of our free Personal Health Program.

Photo courtesy of Atherosclerosis

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Real men

News channels have been buzzing the last few days with stories about new findings by Northwestern University researchers – who have concluded that married men undergo a significant “drop” in testosterone levels, when compared with their still-single cohorts. The researchers hypothesize that the lower hormone levels encourage sustained pair-bonding and child-rearing, and are a naturally selected human trait. Some commentators have used the study to mock the manliness of married men, while many more have felt compelled to stand up for men in committed relationships, as if their condition were less manly and somehow unnatural. But what is the real story, and who are the real men?

In our original life in nature, we would expect most adult men to be in relationships and raising children, and single men to be the exception. If their numbers grew too large, single men would have been a source of social instability and reduced general health, due to higher aggressiveness and competition (driven in part by psychological wanting and by the heightened testosterone the new study finds). Thus, the natural baseline in the study is married men, not single ones, and the real headline is that single men have “elevated” testosterone levels, as a consequence of being unnaturally single and encouraging them out of this condition and into stable relationships.

Overall, the heavily biased discussion of the new study, toward treating single men as the benchmark, is a great example of our general modern romance with the primitive “alpha male.” This is more of a problem than most of us realize, since the correct answer is that we are naturally far better served by more intelligent, cooperative, and adaptive “beta cycle” attitudes and behaviors, by both men and women. Learn more about the new study at Testosterone Dips and explore HumanaNatura’s strong emphasis on ensuring naturally healthier and superior beta-cycle life via Understanding Evolution and the Natural Living section of our Personal Health Program.

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