The science of what we eat is failing us– The New York Times, June 19, 2023
Harvard University medical researchers explain why the state of nutrition research is so poor, and how the problems afflict much of the research into dietary and lifestyle claims around things like coffee, wine, dark chocolate, fad diets, the amount you exercise—you name it. Medical researchers need to take advantage of natural experiments to study the impact of diets, which remain undertaught and underused. Nutrition research needs a credibility revolution of its own.
Your phone is a mindfulness trap: Relying on apps for meditation is a recipe for distrac—hold on, I just got a text– The Atlantic, June 23, 2023
The most popular mindfulness apps (Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer and Ten Percent Happier) all offer neat, quick repackaging of traditional meditation disciplines which might take months or years to accrue. Plus, they are disciplines, anchored in study, practice and instruction. Maybe you’re going through a bout of insomnia? To put you to bed, here’s a spoken lullaby from actor Matthew McConaughey. The author takes on the recent app-ification of mindfulness.
Indoor air quality is the next big human health and climate worry– The New Republic, June 19, 2023
The climate crisis and broader environmental degradation once appeared confined to the great outdoors: rising oceans, bracing wildfires, surging temperatures, plastics in the ocean, smog in the atmosphere. But now the call is coming from inside the house. Indoor air pollution—and its myriad human health effects—is a pressing public health issue, experts declared in a commentary in the journal Nature earlier this year. For instance, indoor spaces contain, on average, higher concentrations of pollution than outdoor air in communities across the US.
The great convergence: On a global scale the world is growing more equal than it has been in over a century – Foreign Affairs, June 14, 2023
A formidable précis from one the world’s most prominent experts in the field. The dominant narrative about inequality is the following: Across the globe, the gap between the rich and the rest has widened year after year, spreading anxiety, stoking resentment and roiling politics. The reason? Globalization has enriched certain elites while hurting many others, making them susceptible to populist politics. This narrative is true, but only if we look at each country on its own. At the global scale, the story of inequality in the 21st century is the reverse: The world is growing more equal than it has been for over 100 years. This means that people in the lower-income groups of rich countries (historically ranked high in the global income distribution) are now being overtaken, in terms of their incomes, by people in Asia. Implications are consequential because different global income positions correspond to different consumption patterns—certainly in health and wellness.
How much social interaction do you actually need? – Vox, June 13, 2023
The crux: The dangers of loneliness are innumerable, but too much social interaction can be equally draining. In truth, “humans need a balanced diet of social nutrition, including time alone, to thrive.” Fending off both loneliness and social exhaustion is a highly specific endeavor; yet, as research shows, many people don’t have the self-insight to figure out “the right dose of time spent with others”. An interesting insight: The more “relational diversity,” or the broader the “social portfolio” a person has in their social repertoire, the higher their wellbeing. The bottom line: Feeling socially fulfilled is very much an idiosyncratic process—some rules apply but everybody is different.
A Striking Stat
The number of people with diabetes is forecast to double by 2050, from 529 million in 2021 to 1.3 billion. No country or age group will see a decline.