Health & Wellness


Infectious disease experts concerned about Ebola mutating and becoming airborne

Monrovia woman ebola

A woman in Monrovia carries the belongings of her husband, who died after he was infected by the Ebola virus.
Today, the Ebola virus spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood and vomit. But some of the nation's top infectious disease experts worry that this deadly virus could mutate and be transmitted just by a cough or a sneeze.

"It's the single greatest concern I've ever had in my 40-year public health career," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota."I can't imagine anything in my career -- and this includes HIV -- that would be more devastating to the world than a respiratory transmissible Ebola virus."

Osterholm and other experts couldn't think of another virus that has made the transition from non-airborne to airborne in humans. They say the chances are relatively small that Ebola will make thatjump. But as the virus spreads, they warned, the likelihood increases.

Comment: There is some evidence that Ebola has already become airborne. The fact is, a number of health workers and researchers who have not had any direct contact with Ebola victims, have themselves become infected.

Every time a new person gets Ebola, the virus gets another chance to mutate and develop new capabilities. Osterholm calls it "genetic roulette."

As of Friday, there have been 4,784 cases of Ebola, with 2,400 deaths, according to the World Health Organization, which says the virus is spreading at a much faster rate now than it was earlier in the outbreak.

Comment: Ebola is certainly out of control in western Africa and the rest of the world is in great peril. For a better understanding of this global threat see:


Ditch the grains, heal your brain

© Thinkstock
Since the Wheat Belly revolution, people all over the world have reported amazing results: being able to reverse type 2 diabetes, shedding layers of dangerous visceral body fat that encases the organs, and revving up to super-charged energy levels. But we started to does ditching wheat - and all grains for that matter - impact the brain? We turned to William Davis, MD, best-selling author of Wheat Belly and the mastermind behind the new Wheat Belly Total Health, to learn more about the benefits of the grainless brain.

The concept is quite simple - although removing grains from your life could be a bit tough, thanks to the fact that they're in so many foods and we've become addicted to them. That's where Dr. Davis' new total health plan comes into play. "Remove grains from your diet, and your brain is released from the control of their mind-active components. It is liberating, wonderful, and empowering," he says. "Your brain can be restored to its normal alert, energetic, calculating, and creative state."

Dr. Davis explains the incredible ways your brain could heal (after withdrawal) when you cut grains from your diet:

'Want to make yourself sick with McDonald's? Pay more!' Ecuador to introduce fast food tax

While encouraging, this move is also a veritable Sign of the Times, where people have to be forced to stop eating processed frankenfoods that send them to an early grave.

McDonalds in Quito, Ecuador
Ecuador's leftist president Rafael Correa is taking on US-owned fast food chains in a bid to combat the escalating obesity problem in the country.

"We are moving past poverty-related problems since the country is progressing a lot, and moving on to problems of affluence. People are dying from bad food, not a lack of food. People will stop eating so many McDonald's and Burger King hamburgers with the tax. This favors the production of our traditional gastronomy," said the politician, who has become well known for his strident anti-American rhetoric since assuming power in 2007.

"If you want to make yourself sick, that is your problem. We are in a free country. But those who deliberately affect your health, they should contribute a little more to the healthcare system to help you once you are ill."

Correa's PAIS Alliance holds more than two-thirds of the seats in the country's legislative assembly, and while internet memes bemoaning state interference in people's diets have appeared on the internet, the law is sure to be passed in the coming months.

Though the politician did not outline the severity of the penalties, or who would be covered by the law, the target of his ire was clear.

"We're talking about these big chains where meat is cooked in pans of oil used over and over, which is a threat to public health," said Correa in his local radio address.

Ebola is 'spreading like wildfire': Liberians under grave threat

With Ebola's death toll surging and a top United Nations official declaring that "the rate of acceleration is now picking up dramatically," Liberian officials have been making dire pronouncements about the deepening crisis in their country.

At a news conference Thursday, finance minister Amara Konneh said Liberia is at "war with an enemy we don't see." Two days earlier, the Ebola-ravaged country's defense minister, Brownie Samukai, delivered a harrowing warning of his own.

"Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence," Samukai told the U.N. Security Council. "The deadly Ebola virus has caused a disruption of the normal functioning of our state."Ebola, he added, "is now spreading like wildfire, devouring everything in its path. The already weak health infrastructure of the country has been overwhelmed."

Comment: Ebola is certainly out of control in western Africa and the rest of the world is in great peril.

For better understanding of this global threat see also:

Red Flag

Study: Living near fracking sites increases risk for skin and respiratory problems

© Reuters
A rig contracted by Apache Corp drills a horizontal well in a search for oil and natural gas in the Wolfcamp shale located in the Permian Basin in West Texas
Those who live in close proximity to fracking sites exhibited a greater likelihood to suffer skin and respiratory problems than those who lived farther away from natural gas wells, according to a new study of Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale region.

The study, "Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania," published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who reside within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, well were significantly more likely to endure ill health effects than those living two kilometers away.

A Yale-based research team addressed 492 individuals in 180 households in southwestern Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus shale has attracted its fair share of the fracking surge seen throughout the United States. Washington County alone has 624 active gas wells, 95 percent of which have been used for fracking.
Eggs Fried

New study: Healthy diet and lifestyle choices may actually re-program your brain

Perhaps it is no surprise that scientists have finally demonstrated what many of us have already intuitively discovered... By making conscious lifestyle choices, it is possible to 'train' your brain to crave healthy foods instead of junk foods!

Even though we are conditioned to love and even rely upon the fat-filled, sugar and carb overload we experience from many unhealthy foods, we are not intrinsically bound into this cycle: It is possible to alter the brain's reaction to unhealthy foods through changes in diet and education, according to a new study published on Monday in Nutrition & Diabetes.

According to study co-contributor Susan B. Roberts Ph.D. in their Monday press release, "
We don't start out in life loving French fries...This conditioning happens over time in response to eating - repeatedly! - what is out there in the toxic food environment."
Scientists have long theorized that over a lifetime of eating these toxic foods, we form unhealthy food addiction circuits in the brain that are difficult to reverse or break, leading to a lifetime of junk food cravings and long-term consequences like sickness and obesity.

Virologist expects 5M dead as Ebola threatens to destroy Sierra Leone and Liberia

Ebola patient
Liberian nurses tend to one of a thousand patients with Ebola.
The killer virus is spreading like wildfire, Liberia's defense minister said on Tuesday as he pleaded for UN assistance. A German Ebola expert tells DW the virus must "burn itself out" in that part of the world.

His statement might alarm many people.

But Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he and his colleagues are losing hope for Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic.

"The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed," he said. That time was May and June. "Now it is too late."Schmidt-Chanasit expects the virus will "burn itself out" in this part of the world.

With other words: It will more or less infect everybody and half of the population - in total about five million people - could die.

Stop the virus from spilling over to other countries

Schmidt-Chanasit knows that it is a hard thing to say. He stresses that he doesn't want international help to stop. Quite the contrary: He demands "massive help." For Sierra Leone and Liberia, though, he thinks "it is far from reality to bring enough help there to get a grip on the epidemic."

According to the virologist, the most important thing to do now is to prevent the virus from spreading to other countries, "and to help where it is still possible, in Nigeria and Senegal for example." Moreover, much more money has to be put into evaluating suitable vaccines, he added.

Comment: While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities - including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia - gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. Unlike Senegal, which has closed its border to Guinea because of the outbreak, Liberia has no plans to do so and has stated that they are not legally allowed to do so by international treaty. It is estimated that the country will require approximately $1.2 million dollars in order to properly educate its citizens, treat the virus, isolate those who contract it, and work to contain the deadly outbreak. Perhaps in this instance, breaking the international treaty would have been a good safety measure. Mr. Schmidt-Chanasit has made a bold statement. Let's hope he is erring to the high side, but prepare for the worst. So far, humanity is not winning this war...exponentially.


Killing addiction with kindness

Cat Nelson* took her first shot of heroin when she was 13 years old. By 17, she was using drugs regularly. By 20, she was in and out of rehab, trying to get clean. Today she is 28. She has legal problems. She has been homeless. She does sex work to support her habit. She has hepatitis C. And she still uses drugs.

She wants to stop.

Cat's story is all too common, especially as addiction to opiates such as pain pills and heroin continues to skyrocket all over the country. Kids are starting young, getting hooked and spending years trying to get clean. Some will succeed. Some will not. All will be left with emotional and physical scars. But for many, the stigma of drug use, of being crushed under society's collective judgment and condemnation, is worse than anything.

Comment: A Top Doc Explains Why Kind Love Beats Tough Love When Treating Addiction:
Using punishment to try to rehabilitate people who have already suffered years of punishment doesn't work.

Dr. Mate's book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, which was a No. 1 bestseller in Canada, advocates for the compassionate treatment of addiction, a position that is increasingly receiving international attention.

Based on Gabor Maté's two decades of experience as a medical doctor and his groundbreaking work with the severely addicted on Vancouver's skid row, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts radically re-envisions this much misunderstood field by taking a holistic approach. Dr. Maté presents addiction not as a discrete phenomenon confined to an unfortunate or weak-willed few, but as a continuum that runs throughout (and perhaps underpins) our society; not a medical "condition" distinct from the lives it affects, rather the result of a complex interplay among personal history, emotional, and neurological development, brain chemistry, and the drugs (and behaviors) of addiction. Simplifying a wide array of brain and addiction research findings from around the globe, the book avoids glib self-help remedies, instead promoting a thorough and compassionate self-understanding as the first key to healing and wellness. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts argues persuasively against contemporary health, social, and criminal justice policies toward addiction and those impacted by it. The mix of personal stories - including the author's candid discussion of his own "high-status" addictive tendencies - and science with positive solutions makes the book equally useful for lay readers and professionals.


What toxins did you apply today?

When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was watch my grandmother get ready to go out. She would sit at her vanity in bright pink curlers, dab on foundation makeup, ring her eyes with liquid eyeliner and paint her lids with pearlescent sky-blue shadow (after all, it was the 1970s).

Then came blush and flame-red lipstick. The best part was when she powdered her face with the puff from her gold Max Factor compact. She then pulled out her curlers, one by one, and wielded a fine-toothed pink comb to tease her hair into an enormous and magical beehive. Her final step was to apply what seemed like an entire can of hairspray. She emerged from this mist a goddess.

Fast-forward three decades. As an environmental-health advocate, I now know that my grandmother's mascara probably contained a preservative with the neurotoxin mercury, and her red lipstick was most likely made with some lead. As she sprayed her hair, she may have inhaled vinyl chloride, a potent liver carcinogen. Chances are her foundation had a few toxic ingredients as well.

Comment: Applying toxins daily? Don't think carcinogenic chemicals lurk in your 'beauty' products? Read the following articles:


Cuba sending 165 health workers to Sierra Leone to fight Ebola outbreak

"We still need about 500 to 600 doctors coming from abroad and at least 1,000 or more health care workers," the Cuban health minister says
© AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh
Cuba will send 165 health workers to Sierra Leone in October to fight the Ebola virus outbreak that has already killed over 2,400 people, the Cuban health minister said on Friday.

A team of 62 doctors and 103 nurses will remain in Sierra Leone for six months, Roberto Morales Ojeda told a news conference with the head of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan.

Chan said: "If we are going to go to war with Ebola, we need the resources to fight."

"Cuba is world famous for its ability to train outstanding doctors and nurses and for its generosity in helping fellow countries on the route to progress and I am extremely grateful for the generosity of the Cuban government and these health professionals for doing their part to help us contain the worst Ebola outbreak ever known," she said

Comment: See: Ebola - What you're not being told

Switching to a ketogenic will offer protection.

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The Ketogenic Diet - An Overview