A few years ago, I developed a site locating on a map all contaminated sites in Montreal, Canada. This was done in an open data hackathon, with a team made of open data specialists as well as McGill University professors specialized in urban development.
I was surprised to discover that data is available for all, at municipal, provincial and federal level. I was also surprised to see that in what appears to be a highly livable Canadian city like Montreal, there were old contaminated sites everywhere. I checked a few addresses. One for example showed on Google Street View a nice colorful kids’ playground, but in fact used to be a contaminated gas station. So we have infants, kids and parents playing on top of chemicals, because the city decided the location wasn’t fit for construction. Nice!
On the southern parts of the city named Griffintown, developers were building luxury condominiums where used to be industrial plants, with Bisphenol A (BPA) and PorpolyChlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) contamination. These chemicals are highly toxic and remain in the environment for a long time, impacting the cardiovascular system, neuronal, cognition and also increases cancer risk.
And this is not limited to Montreal. You can go on Vox’s excellent lead exposure risk map, and discover that many cities like New York City or Philadelphia are blanketed with lead poisoning. This is an acute issue for children. Children that are lead poisoned are at risk of decreased IQ, delayed language acquisition, partial illiteracy, behavioral issues, organ failure, and even death. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that there is no amount of lead exposure that is considered safe for children.
In a previous post, resting heart rate was shown to reflect physical and mental condition. A low resting heart rate correlates with good health compared to a high resting heart rate.
It becomes complex when you consider age. Older people have lower resting heart rate. And individuals with the same age, nutrition and overall fitness level can have vastly different heart rates. For instance, my maximum heart rate when running is around 172bpm while a friend has 200bpm, with the same heart rate sensor. It does not mean however that I am more or less fit than others.
Noise pollution characterizes modern society: busy highways and railroads, bad commute traffic, aggressive motorists, construction, manufacturing plants, loud TVs, vacuum cleaners and neighbours. These are numerous, pervasive, persistent and socially significant.
You probably know about the ill-effects of processed food, lack of exercise, mental fatigue, but have you thought about the long-term consequences of noise pollution?
Is there a recipe to live past 100, and at the same time have a good quality of life?
That’s what Dan Bruettner tries to investigate in his book entitled “The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest”.
With his team, Dan went to Barbagia in Sardinia (Italy), Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa (Japan), Loma Linda (California, United States), Nicoya (Costa Rica). These have relatively a high percentage of centenarians, and low occurrences of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or COPD. Dan interviewed them on their diet, daily lifestyle, social networks and various habits. His findings are then discussed with doctors and health experts.
Grab a bowl of cereal or whatever there is in the fridge for breakfast.
Run to the subway and grab a coffee on my way to work.
A bagel with cream cheese, a shawarma, a muffin or whatever I could find at lunch. This would coincide with my third cup of coffee of the day. Other times, I went to a restaurant for a business meeting and this would be my main meal of the day.
Go to a networking evening event and eat whatever they have. Pretzels, beers, coffee, chips, you name it. If there is no event, I would otherwise pick up a hefty meal from a neighboring restaurant on my way home.
Repeat this five days a week and you have a recipe for disaster. It is a diet composed of processed foods, refined carbs and inflammatory foods that lead to obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, or worse.
Medical conditions like chronic stress, fatigue, hypertension, anxiety, depression are common. Yet medications for them are costly, have adverse effects, lower quality of life and lower longevity.
An innovative and smart idea might just be walking in the nearby forest.
Like meditation or yoga, many make fun of forest walking. “Now that’s for hipsters”. “That’s what my grandpa would do”. “There’s a sucker born every minute”. It’s more trendy to sweat in the gym. Or relax by going to the local Starbucks and please yourself with a Venti Pumpkin latte. At least you can put those on Instagram and share how busy and connected you are.
I have had a Spire for almost a year, using the wearable in various situations. This is my 1-year review on this innovative take on the wearable movement.
Spire embeds its electronics in what looks like a small stone. The wireless charger has a wood finish, and the whole product has a nice Zen design that many Apple fans would appreciate. When clipped to your pants (or bra for women), it’s hardly noticeable and can be worn for up to a week without recharging.
The stone even survives machine washing, which is a rare occurrence amongst wearables.
Like most wearables, it tracks your daily steps, and will alert you if you haven’t moved in a while. The app can list at the end of the day your activity moments with the related events and pictures found on your phone.
Or how the industrial food system transformed a healthy food into a cardiovascular and diabetes risk factor
The picture above shows state of the art steel roller mills. Wheat comes from above and the mill grinds it into white flour.
Those steel roller mills were invented in the 1870s and were a revolution, similar to the electric car in our current days. It was a fast and efficient method that allows the production of the purest and finest white flour at low cost. Even the poorest citizen could now buy white bread, a food reserved previously to the richest. As you can see from above, it is a nice, clean, efficient and modern environment.
By seeing all the benefits, the steel roller mill became so popular that within 10 years most mills in the western world had been replaced. The mechanics of the steel roller mill was soon extended to other grains, such as rice, oats and barley. And thus was born the first processed food and the beginning of our industrial food system.