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A milestone unlike any other in Nashua | Human Interest – The Union Leader

Turning 100 was a walk in the park for Ruth Magnuson Brown. Turning 105 was a piece of cake. But as this lady from Nashua approaches her 107th birthday on June 15, those who know her best say the next celebration might be the most challenging.

Because COVID-19 has halted all visitors to Langdon Place of Nashua, where Brown has lived the past five years, her birthday extravaganza will be limited this year. The staff, however, is committed to offering her a grand celebration and is asking the public send Brown cards of encouragement.

She is really quite a resilient woman, said Bethany Willey, director of marketing and admissions with Genesis HealthCare, which includes Langdon Place.

It is still unknown whether Brown will be able to celebrate in person with her family, so employees are making every attempt to ensure a special birthday.

Cards are already coming in for Ruth. We are asking people to keep sending them, and our plan is to present the cards to her on her birthday, Willey said.

Bonnie Brown Oliphant, Browns daughter, said she at least hopes to see her mother through a window if she cant celebrate with her in person.

When people ask her what is her secret to longevity, she says, It is a secret, said Oliphant, 77. But she has also told people to be wise, but not to act too wise.

Brown was the oldest of 10 children. She graduated from eighth grade and then helped raise her younger siblings, according to Oliphant. Although she never went to high school, she attended business school as a young adult.

Brown worked as a comptometer (mechanical calculator) operator and married Robert Brown, an air traffic controller, in 1938. They had two daughters, and Brown lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas before moving to New Hampshire.

This has been really hard for my mother, Oliphant said of the quarantine. I am really so saddened by it. I pray every night that my mother will not die before I get to see her again. None of us really know.

Brown is described as a smart, health-conscious woman who was driving until she was 92.

She is so tough. She just doesnt quit, and she doesnt give up, Oliphant said.

Brown moved from Texas to New Hampshire at 101 after her other daughter died.

We all kind of held our breath a little since a move is difficult at any age, but here we are several years later and she is still as sharp as a tack, Willey said.

Turning 100 is a major milestone, Willey said. Turning 107 is phenomenal.

To help Brown celebrate, the public is invited to send birthday cards to Ruth Magnuson Brown at Langdon Place of Nashua, 319 E. Dunstable Rd., Nashua 03062.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Never Stopped Reinventing Itself – Vulture

Youd be forgiven for writing off Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a typical freak-of-the-week procedural early in its run. At its launch, its premise was simple: follow the missions of a team of agents from the awkwardly named Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, an intelligence agency with global reach, as they investigate enhanced beings and unusual gadgets. Its formula was familiar, akin to old Syfy staples like Eureka and Warehouse 13. But by the closing episodes of its first season, this premise was blown up along with the eponymous organization, which was dismantled from within by rogue agents and labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. government. And what emerged from the rubble was a fundamentally different show.

Over the course of six seasons, S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved into a science-fiction fantasia, what one character describes as a fifth-dimensional freak show, exploring human mutation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, space exploration, time travel, and even magic (a.k.a. unexplained science, as agents Fitz and Simmons would say). In its previous season, it became a full-blown space opera, equipped with aerial shots of spaceship fleets and the gaseous surfaces of distant planets, not to mention two alien species intent on invading Earth. And when S.H.I.E.L.D. returns for its seventh and final season tonight, it will continue to be a different show from the one that premiered in the fall of 2013. Promotional material promises more time travel, more threats of alien colonization, and more life-model decoys, but its too early to determine where this new mission will take the agents geographically, emotionally, or even temporally the season begins in 1930s New York, but the likelihood of it staying there for long is slim. So whether you wandered away from the show during its first year or some time in a subsequent season, now is a good time to revisit how its reconfigured itself over the years.

What makes the evolution of S.H.I.E.L.D created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen intriguing is not merely that it touches on numerous science-fiction tropes or that it has graduated from episodic to more serialized storytelling over the years. Nor is it the fact that it holds the distinction of being the first show to bring the shared universe of the MCU to the small screen and has subsequently outlasted other Marvel projects scattered across Netflix and Disney-owned ABC, Freeform, and Hulu. (Its the last show produced by Marvel Television under Jeph Loeb, the studio having since folded under the Kevin Feigeheaded Marvel Studios.) No, whats most fascinating about S.H.I.E.L.D. as it enters its endgame is how its committed to the practice of essentially adopting a new subgenre every ten or so episodes, particularly later in its run, which breaks its 22-episode seasons into multi-episode arcs. So while much of season one is a spy procedural, the first half of season four is a ghost story. And around the time Dolores Abernathy began questioning the nature of her reality on Westworld, S.H.I.E.L.D. became a robot thriller, with A.I.D.A., a life-model decoy created to protect field agents, searching for a way to achieve her own humanity in the second half of season four. The series bounds from one subgenre to the next at such rapidity that theres barely time to to wrap your mind around one concept before its on to the next, with characters openly decrying the pace at which the team faces new trials and tribulations. But this breakneck speed also means that there are few filler episodes, allowing the show to maintain its momentum within and between seasons.

Thats not to say that there are no periods of downtime, moments in which, usually after the defeat of some megalomaniac, the agents can recline and enjoy each others company. Because for all of its superhuman phenomena, S.H.I.E.L.D. foregrounds human connection and the capacity of humans to do right by each other. The found-family sentiment is as prevalent here as it is on other long-running workplace-based shows if not more so, since the agents live, work, and regularly face their mortality together. This is particularly true of the relationship between Phillip J. Coulson (Clark Gregg), the team patriarch, a man who has given his life to S.H.I.E.L.D. in every sense, and Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), an orphan whos spent her life searching for her family, only to be traumatized by the truth of her origin.

As the best science-fiction dramas tend to do, S.H.I.E.L.D. grounds its fantastic elements with real emotion. And its marriage of the two is so successful that in season five, which features Inhuman fighting pits and insatiable space roaches, its the civil war that erupts within the team that foments the greatest tension. The question of whether to allow Coulson to die, if saving his life could mean the destruction of Earth, seems easy enough to answer: Whats one mans life when the world hangs in the balance? But the agents are so dedicated to each other and to their mission that, for some, it does become a dilemma, yet another hard choice for people used to making hard choices, having already endured years of personal sacrifice to stave off near-annual extinction-level threats.

After scoring two unexpected season renewals (its no coincidence that the season-five finale is called The End), S.H.I.E.L.D. is going out on its own terms with season seven, a coveted planned conclusion in a television landscape rife with sudden cancellations. Fittingly, the show that originally brought the world of the MCU to the small screen will also serve as an outro to the cinematic universes first phase in television, as Marvel Studios ushers in a new phase with a slew of series produced for Disney+, set to begin rolling out later this year. S.H.I.E.L.D.s longevity is no doubt partly due to its penchant for reinvention, its ability to explode the scope of its storytelling season after season. But while the show has come a remarkably long way from its pilot, with the core group of agents now bouncing around the past, the characters ever-deepening devotion to each other has served as an emotional through line, a constant for the characters (and viewers) to hold on to as the narrative rapidly changes around them. And now, with their final adventure about to begin, theres no better time to join the team.

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Teachers, board happy with new agreement | Worcester County News Bayside Gazette –

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

(May 28, 2020) The Worcester County Public Schools Board of Education signed and approved a ratified 2020-2021 contract agreement between the Worcester County Teachers Association and the Worcester County Educational Support Personnel Association on Tuesday, May 19.

The agreement was presented by Supervisor of Human Resources Dr. Dwayne Abt during the board of education teleconferenced meeting.

Lou Taylor

Normally, the signing would have taken place at the same time, but according to Abt, signatures were obtained prior to the teleconference.

We did have some language modifications, edits and additions, he said.

According to the agreement, the teachers contract has been agreed upon for one step increase to eligible employees and a 2 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA).

The contract will also offer step increases to eligible employees in a 2.5 percent COLA in the food service scales that will be adjusted to meet the minimum wage requirements by law over the next five years.

We also increased our longevity payment $100 from $1,300 to $1,400, Abt said. It is my pleasure to say that we have two signed agreements with our employees and Id like to thank Mr. Gary McCabe, Beth Shockley-Lynch and Mr. Ivory Smith, as well as the committees from the board as well as the association.

Shockley-Lynch, the president of the Worcester County Teachers Association, expressed her gratitude for the support of the agreement.

We would just like to thank the board in all of our support through all of this, she said. Our negotiated contract was ratified at 100 percent. I had no one that was displeased with it. We are very grateful to have the relationship with the board and with the leadership team. So thank you.

Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor also expressed his gratitude for the camaraderie between the organizations.

It is a pleasure to work with you, Mr. McCabe and Mr. Smith, Taylor said. Its been a true team effort through negotiations, and thats carried and even gotten deeper as weve gone through these uncertain times. So thank you for your partnership and for most importantly, keeping our kids first, and all of us doing the right things. It takes both sides and we appreciate that way of working together.

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The cost(value) of human life and disease prevention – Express Healthcare

Prof Rajendra Pratap Gupta, public policy expert & Author, and Dr Rahul K Garg, a physician turned management consultant examine new frontiers to preserve the value of human life

World over and across healthcare systems, both private and public sectors are focussing on prevention. Public sector (Government) wishes to invest more in prevention programmes, and the private sector aims to build a profitable business around prevention. But both have failed to achieve their goal and yet, continue to struggle for success. Two areas which will be helpful to steer the debate further and give a definite direction, would be; one, what is the benefit for investing in prevention and can it be quantified for Return on Investment (RoI)?; Secondly, is the current model of invasive diagnostic tests and doctor centric preventive model, the right way to go or do we need to change our approach. This article looks at preventive care from these perspectives and makes recommendations whether preventive care makes sense and if yes, what is the net present value of prevention and what is the way forward for prevention to succeed.

Cost factor

We cannot assign any value on the cost of prevention unless we define the cost of maintaining a handicapped human body or assess the contribution of a healthy human being. What is it that we are trying to prevent from being lost? This is a tricky question, but there are various methods or ways in which we can calculate the cost of human life or cost of a healthy human being versus a lost monetary value when someone falls sick or is handicapped to perform routine duties.

Cost (Value) of human life

In 1976, Dr Harold J Morowitz, a biophysicist of Yale University, calculated that a human body is worth anywhere between 97 cents to $6 trillion depending on the methodology of costing (Morowitz 1976). The human body is 70 per cent water, the most precious substance responsible for life on earth. The rest 30 per cent of it is carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and some 100 other elements in minute quantities. The by-weight biochemical value of these substances in elemental form is around $ 150. That sounds very frugal valuation of a human body. An average American or European college graduate earns up to $3 million in their lifetime (Social Security 2015). Would this mean that human life is worth a few million dollars in direct earning potential or worth the taxes or the GDP contributions to the country? How to value the cost of continuity to human civilisation? Do we consider this in the notional cost as well? Additionally, a human contributes economically to society and nation in various intangible forms like spreading happiness and providing a support system to fellow humans.

Cost metrics in relation to various parameters

Multiple meta-analyses of 25 year-studies calculated the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) between $4-10 million (Ryan C Bosworth 2017). This is the number used by insurance firms, judiciary, and employers to calculate the monetary pay-out in case of an untimely loss of life. For example, employers pay $2,000 annual insurance premium for each of its 5,000 employees to cover them for $10 million covers. Insurance provider assesses the risk at less than 1 life being lost in a year. But all these numbers rotate around the economic benefit a human can provide. In clinical lingo, all the organs of a human body like bone marrow, kidneys, corneas, heart, lung liver, etc. are worth up to $45 million in a black market for organs (Trace Dominguez 2014). This indicates that we all possess an asset, our body. You can put the maximum insurance cover one can get in India / USA / EU and that could be a fair market value based on income.

Dr Harold J Morowitz demonstrated that if he were to incubate a human from elemental substances, it would cost him $6 trillion in terms of efforts and material resources to do so. Harold was a consultant with NASA and advised them on the thermodynamics and economics of sustaining human life on Mars. The takeaway from his research is that the human body is as valuable as you consider it to be. In consideration, one must acknowledge that the value is directly proportional to total expected life in years and the quality of each year of life. The better quality would mean the ability to live life at free-will and without any morbidity. A deduction to his research can be that preventing disease conditions adds monetary value to the most precious asset we all have, Human body. At this point, we are aligned with the thought that disease prevention is, financially and clinically, an intelligent practice.

Who owns the asset of a human body and who benefits from the deeds of this body? The answer to this question is also the answer to another question: Who should invest money in preventing disease to a human body?

The asset is in principle owned by the individual human being living inside the body. The individual utilises the capabilities of this asset to perform tasks, make a living, and experience life. In addition to this individual, his/her family is benefitted from the activities like cooking food, physical safety provided, companionship, and in some cases, money provided through the skilled use of the asset in the discussion. If the individual is working for an organisation, the employer is benefitted from the activities of perfectly health human body. Our social ecosystem, including society, governments, cultures, and environment are directly or indirectly benefitted from the deeds of an individual over his/her lifetime. All these parties, including the individual, family, employer, government, and society hold direct interest in the physical, mental, social, and spiritual wellbeing of the asset, human body. To be fair and square, every beneficiary should be responsible for the health and well-being of the asset. It is in the interest of every stakeholder to keep every human being as healthy as possible and invest efforts to extend the longevity of life.

It might be difficult to distribute the $6 trillion equity amongst various stakeholders. But what is possible is to identify the role each stakeholder plays in the prevention of depreciation of the asset. In the case of a human body, getting a chronic disease impacting lifestyle and productivity is essentially the depreciation of the asset. Spending time in a hospital for a surgery or for any acute reason is downtime that erodes the productivity of the asset. The comparison of a sacred human body, which is considered a temple in many cultures, to an accounting jargon appears very blunt and cold. However, being more rational about the asset might put the point across the table effectively. The point is, if the human body is not taken care of, it depreciates to a level where chronic diseases dent the experience of living.

Depreciation with time or appreciation with experience? Cost of humans may vary with their age, more age means more valuable unlike durables or white goods! A human being is an appreciable asset, as an adult human with learnt skills is increasingly valuable to society. The value commensurate with the amplitude of the experience and inherent wisdom.

How much should be spent on prevention of diseases on a daily basis and over a lifetime? We must keep in mind that eventually, the human body will perish someday. The aim of prevention is to keep the body disease-free until it dies off just the old age. The answer to how much begins with who should spend time, money, and efforts to keep the body fit. The individual who lives within it has the highest level of control and authority on the asset. An individual holds the majority shares of this asset. While other parties are minor shareholders (stakeholders) to a varying degree. Each stakeholder is an influencer and beneficiary in keeping the asset healthy. Family educates the individual about good habits of hygiene and benefits of exercise. Family provides the basis of balanced diets and spiritual well-being. The society and the government provide the broader infrastructure entailing health education, community wellness programmes, and prevention of epidemics. The employers are interested in keeping up productivity through mental wellbeing, provide some sort of insurance to get treated appropriately and return to work. To keep employees healthy, employers provide gym and yoga memberships, extended health covers, positive working environment, and counselling support. Insurance companies are evolving their role in keeping their clients healthy. Insurance companies have begun rewarding the individuals and employers for good behaviour leading to a healthy outcome. All of the above-mentioned efforts are constructed on the individuals instinct of leading a healthy and healthy life.

Cost of living vs cost of untimely death? DALYS & Absenteeism

The final quest is how much is enough to invest in the asset of interest? Economists have concluded that if somebody lives a year in disability, there are cost implications on the individual and stakeholders. Not only the individual loses the earning potential, but there is also an extra expenditure incurred on medical treatment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) is one lost year of a healthy life. If a prevention strategy can postpone a stroke by 10 years, 10 DALYs are saved. In addition to the money value of DALYs saved, 10 years provide the time to develop the better medical management of stroke. Based on the method of calculation and socio-economic conditions, 1 DALY for an individual could be worth $5,000 or $1 million or any other number. According to WHOs Global Burden of Disease study, respiratory infections cause a loss of 95 million DALYs per year, depression takes 65 million DALYs, cardiac disease is 63 million DALYs, and HIV is 59 million DALYs (WHO 2004). Adding and multiplying these numbers with the economic value of 1 DALY suggest that we are losing more money to preventable causes of disability than the collective GDP of the whole world.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that preventing diseases through vaccination returns $10 to the society for every dollar spent (Cynthia G. Whitney 2014). A meta-analysis of 22 studies demonstrates that employers gain $3.27 in employee productivity for every dollar spent on workplace wellness programs (Katherine Baicker 2010). IBM is saving $130 million (with an RoI of 200 per cent) in insurance premiums and other costs through its flagship health and wellness programs (Carroll 2008). According to the American Diabetes Association, it takes $700 investment per year on lifestyle to prevent diabetes by 10 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) (Jeffrey A. Tice 2016). This saves $12,878 per QALY in terms of medical treatment and complications prevented (Samantha Roberts 2017). An increase in physical activity by 2.5 hours per week reduces the lifetime risk of diabetes by 58 per cent(Sheri R. Colberg 2010). Every individual can save $100 per year in medical costs by keeping a check on weight and blood pressure. Milken Institute suggests that society can save $1 trillion annually through a modest focus on prevention (Bedroussian 2007). All these studies and data conclude that there is an economic benefit in preventing diseases.

Every stakeholder has an interest in keeping health intact for every human body on this planet. The highest interest is in investing efforts on the present-day children to imbibe in them the healthy living practices. This would provide the highest return on investments in the coming decades for the whole society. Irrespective of who spends how much on whose health, the positive spillover effect would benefit the stakeholder collectively. The consensus is to define the disease prevention role for every stakeholder. An individual must keep oneself motivated to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Family, society and government provides a proper ecosystem to help individuals and corporations in working towards the common goal of prevention. Municipality planners should emphasise on the access to fitness facilities for all the residents. Insurance companies and employers should reward positive behaviour. Doing so, there is a lot of money to be saved and generated.

Cost-benefit (Economic value) analysis of keeping people health: Absenteeism, economic contribution and productivity

Sickcare is negative dollars, prevention is positive dollars with RoI demonstrated. In any healthcare systems, 5 per cent of the sickest patients consume over half of the healthcare resources (Zimmerman 2017). If people stay healthy and reduce the burden on health systems, the quality of care would go up as well. The lack of right prevention activities is costing the world 2-3 times of the global annual GDP. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, American annual healthcare spend is $3 trillion to manage chronic and mental conditions (CDC 2019). Productivity loss from these conditions costs another $2 trillion annually to the American economy. A joint report by the World Economic Forum and Harvard University estimates the economic burden of preventable non-communicable diseases will be over $47 trillion (globally) in the next two decades (Bloom 2011). If you connect all these dots, the fair amount of prevention based on Return on Investment can be arrived close to at least 20 per cent with an upside potential of 200 per cent. This should become the thumb-rule for spending on prevention. Start investing in programmes promoting right eating habits, smoking cessation, getting enough sleep, regular physical activity, annual healthcare screening after 40 years of age, vaccination, and prevention of infectious diseases like AIDS and Tuberculosis. Such practices would generate a positive feedback loop between the economy, individual health, and health systems. Since governments, employers, and insurance companies are more informed institutions as compared to individuals and families, it is the onus of the former to spread the wellness literacy amongst the masses. Though the individual is the ultimate go-getter for better health, the positive right-directed influence of the institutional beneficiaries is the key ingredient. A perfect combination of health and wellness policy framing, workplace incentives, societal enlightenment, and willpower to live and die healthy will be all that it takes.

New frontiers to preserve the value of human life

While the truth has always been shining about the secret of a healthy life, few have the resilience to practice it. Eat healthy, sleep early, sleep enough, exercise adequately, breathe healthy air, and keeping mental wellbeing are some of the examples. Mortal humans need a push in the right direction to follow the habits that maximise the outcome of life. Stakeholders like governments, employers, and communities are always looking for affordable solutions that would promote a healthy lifestyle. Technology is one tool that is affordable and is evolving to exponentially increase its relevance in wellness space. There are mobile apps that guide people to drink water on time, sleep on time, help to wake early, improving compliance with an exercise routine, and help in preparing a balanced diet plan. Some of this intervention might seem over-engineered, but that is the part of the fine-tuning process. Wearable gadgets like smartwatches, vitals monitors, activity sensors, etc. are all catalysts aiding individuals to maximise the value of their life. There will always be a financial and common-sense case to invest in technology that helps humans to live healthier, longer, and do more in a lifetime. Right health education, powered by the tools to live well, and supported by the adequate infrastructure to exercise is the key for any nation to unlock their demographic dividend.


Bedroussian, Ross DeVol and Armen. 2007. An UnheAlthy AmericA:The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease. Milken Institute, Santa Monica, CA: Milken Institute.

Bloom, D.E., Cafiero, E.T., Jan-Llopis, E., Abrahams-Gessel, S., Bloom, L.R., Fathima, S., Feigl, A.B., Gaziano, T., Mowafi, M., Pandya, A., Prettner, K., Rosenberg, L., Seligman, B., Stein, A.Z., & Weinstein. 2011. The Global Economic Burden of Non-communicable Diseases. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Carroll, John. 2008. Whats the ROI on Wellness? Managed Care: Wellness, February 1.

CDC. 2019. Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, October.

Cynthia G. Whitney, MD, Fangjun Zhou, PhD, James Singleton, PhD, Anne Schuchat, MD. 2014. Benefits from Immunization During the Vaccines for Children Program Era United States, 19942013. CDC: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), April 25.

Jeffrey A. Tice, Rick Chapman, Karen K. Shore, Matt Seidner, Daniel A. Ollendorf, Jed Weissberg, Steven D. Pearson. 2016. Diabetes Prevention Programs: Effectiveness and Value. Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, San Francisco: California Technology Assessment Forum.

Katherine Baicker, David Cutler, and Zirui Song. 2010. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs. doi:

Morowitz, Harold J. 1976. The High Cost of Being Human. English. The New York Times Company. New York, February 11.

Ryan C. Bosworth, Alecia Hunter, Ahsan Kibria. 2017. THE VALUE OF A STATISTICAL LIFE: ECONOMICS AND POLITICS. Logan, Utah: Strata.

Samantha Roberts, Eleanor Barry, Dawn Craig, Mara Airoldi, Gwyn Bevan, Trisha Greenhalgh. 2017. Preventing type 2 diabetes: a systematic review of studies of the cost-effectiveness of lifestyle programmes and metformin, with and without screening, for pre-diabetes. BMJ Open, November. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017184.

Sheri R. Colberg, Ronald J. Sigal, Bo Fernhall, Judith G. Regensteiner, Bryan J. Blissmer, Richard R. Rubin, Lisa Chasan-Taber, Ann L. Albright, and Barry Braun,. 2010. Exercise and Type 2 Diabetes: The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association: joint position statement. Diabetes Care, December. doi:10.2337/dc10-9990.

Social Security. 2015. Education and Lifetime Earnings: Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis. Social Security. Baltimore, MD, November.

Trace Dominguez, Tara Long, Laci Green. 2014. How Much Are Your Body Parts Worth? Seeker. August 19.

WHO. 2004. Burden of disease: DALYs. World Health Organization. doi:ISBN 978 92 4 156387 1.

Zimmerman, Karen Weintraub and Rachel. 2017. Fixing the 5 Percent. The Atlantic. June 29.

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Where’s the wagyu? | News, Sports, Jobs – Maui News

Kyle Caires takes a selfie with prized wagyu cattle. Photos courtesy of Kyle Caires

Animal scientist Kyle Caires and a research team have found a way to nearly double pregnancy rates in wagyu, a Japanese breed of cattle that typically has low rates of reproduction but is prized for its meat.

By using technologies, such as artificial insemination, and pairing them with nutrition, management techniques and healthy and controlled environments, ranchers can improve their cattles reproductivity for less costs.

And meat lovers and chefs can have more access to high-quality beef.

Outcomes are much better when you work with Mother Nature, instead of against her, and the same is true when raising livestock, said Caires, the Maui extension agent for the University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Therefore, choosing genetics with production levels calving ease, growth rate, milk production to fit a ranchs forage resources, rainfall level and availability of labor, is a great approach for all ranchers in Hawaii.

Caires, who works in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, recently published his research on how to improve the reproductive rates of the Japanese Black. He also spent the last six weeks setting up programs for ranchers and beef producers across Maui County.

Kyle Caires, Maui extension agent for the University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, analyzes cattle embryo samples.

CTAHR programs include educational programs and outreach assistance to ranchers that want to consider estrus synchronization, artificial insemination, semen testing and pregnancy checking. He said that embryo transfers will be offered in the near future.

Excellent pregnancy rates are achieved with integrated approaches that combine genetic improvement strategies with good management practices on a case-by-case basis, not a one-size-fits-all approach, he said.

These safe procedures are no different than what would happen naturally in cattle reproduction, he said. For example, for ranchers breeding first-calf heifers, artificial insemination could help improve productivity because semen from bulls are proven to produce low-weight births, which makes the birthing process easier for first-time mothers, which in turn is better for the cows longevity and health.

Likewise, the semen used in artificial insemination protocols also must pass biosecurity measures to eliminate disease transmission, an added bonus, he said.

In collaboration with researchers from Washington state and Brazil, the article titled, The outcome and economic viability of production using IVF and SOV techniques in the Wagyu breed of cattle, was published May 1 in Veterinary Sciences.

The methods showed a 70 percent decrease in cost compared to typical genetic improvement strategies, Caires said.

Seven ranches on Maui, as well as several on Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and Hawaii island, are utilizing wagyu genetics already. However, due to their lower productivity, Caires said that most ranches maintain wagyu cross-breeds, not pure-breds.

Successful conception rates are between 75 and 80 percent following a single round of artificial insemination, he said, which is much greater than the national average of 60 percent for cows.

Other tips to improve beef reproduction include good nutrition, lowering stress, routine vaccinations, pasture and grazing management, as well as scoping out cows with genetic potential.

All the little things add up to a strong foundation that pays big dividends to set ranchers up for success when using technologies, like artificial insemination, where they can also utilize elite genetics from across the country at a fraction of the cost, he said. In order for AI to be consistently successful at the ranch, reproductive management protocols are used to help ranchers better time the delivery of semen in to match the ovulation event in the cows.

Moving forward, Caires plans to continue his applied research in order to improve genetics, reproductive efficiency and overall productivity for local farmers.

The main goal of our research is to help Hawaiis ranchers remain competitive in a dynamic, ever-changing global beef industry, he said.

To review the results of the study, visit For information about CTAHR programs on Maui, visit

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at

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UTSA professor’s ‘rabbit fever’ vaccine to be tested against coronavirus – San Antonio Express-News

Researchers believe a vaccine originally developed in San Antonio to combat tularemia, the rare and deadly rabbit fever, could also work against the coronavirus.

The San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics, a consortium of four bioscience research institutions, is pitching in $200,000 to find out.

Liz Tullis, the partnerships executive director, said the organization is backing a collaborative study led by University of Texas at San Antonio microbiologist Karl Klose after his proposal beat out 16 others in the city.

Established by UT Health San Antonio, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, UTSA and Southwest Research Institute several months ago, the group vets and jump-starts projects with funding so researchers dont have to rely on the months-long federal grant process, Tullis said.

Each institution is providing scientists to work on the potential COVID-19 vaccine.

On Four major San Antonio institutions bankroll new research program

The Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio, which promotes collaboration in infectious disease research, plans to contribute 25 percent of the total project cost.

Joanne Turner, the centers executive director, said there are about 10 potential vaccines under discussion, but probably dozens of others that are still in the early stages of development.

Even with an accelerated process due to urgency, it may take many months to years to develop a safe and effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, she said. Its also possible that the first vaccines used will be replaced later, once scientists have a better understanding of what protective immunity is and can then design vaccines with improved protection or longevity.

This second wave of therapeutics is most likely where the tularemia vaccine, originally developed by Klose, will fit in.

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Klose, director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, spent the last two decades researching the bacteria that causes rabbit fever, which, while rare, can be used as a deadly bioweapon.

The tularemia vaccine was being tested on bio-threats, including anthrax, with some success, he said, so hes optimistic about whether it could also work against the coronavirus.

He discovered how to deactivate the organisms ability to cause disease, which led to the identification of a vaccine candidate that was safe and effective in several different animal studies.

Scientists will genetically engineer the prototype vaccine to insert the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and then test whether the vaccine can produce neutralizing antibodies against the protein.

Its a general concept that works for lots of different diseases. Theoretically, it should work for the coronavirus, Klose said. Those neutralizing antibodies, he added, are why patients are benefiting from plasma taken from COVID-19 survivors.

On First San Antonio COVID-19 patient receives plasma transfusion from recovered donor

A few weeks before shelter-in-place orders went into effect, the tularemia vaccine had been developed to an advanced stage, with scientists working on formulations for eventual human use, funded by an $18 million grant to the Southwest Research Institute from the U.S. Department of Defense.

More than 140 clinical trials of potential COVID-19 related drugs are underway, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is working to expedite development of a vaccine.

Last week, the FDA issued guidance for researchers and created an emergency program for possible therapies called the Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program.

The federal programs website notes that at least 457 drug therapies were in the planning stages as of May 11.

Klose stops short of saying that his vaccine will be the one that rises to the top, but even if it fails, the vaccines results can help scientists learn more about the coronavirus that emerged in December.

Theres a lot we dont know about the virus because its so brand-new, he said. What I can say is its going to take lots of people throwing everything theyve got at this virus to come up with the best solution.

Read this article:
UTSA professor's 'rabbit fever' vaccine to be tested against coronavirus - San Antonio Express-News

Recommendation and review posted by Alexandra Lee Anderson

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How The ‘Lost Art’ Of Breathing Can Impact Sleep And Resilience – NPR


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Breathing is something we take for granted unless we have respiratory problems or are sick or worried about the coronavirus, which attacks the lungs. In the new book "Breath," my guest, journalist James Nestor, writes about many aspects of how we breathe and how we can train ourselves to breathe in ways that may improve our health and the quality of our sleep and decrease anxiety. He reports on why mouth breathing is related to snoring, sleep apnea and other problems, what the nose has that the mouth doesn't, different breathing techniques to destress, reduce blood pressure and balance the nervous system, and how free divers train to expand their lung capacity so that they can dive deep and stay underwater for up to 12 minutes on one breath.

When possible, Nestor's tried what he's written about, including participating in an experiment at Stanford in which his nose was completely plugged for days to test the impact of breathing solely through the mouth. The results were fascinating, but the experience of total mouth breathing was unpleasant and disrupted his sleep. Nestor is also the author of a previous book called "Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, And What The Oceans Tell Us About Ourselves" (ph). And he helped found a research initiative to investigate how sperm whales communicate with each other through clicks.

James Nestor, welcome to FRESH AIR. How are you?

JAMES NESTOR: Doing very well. Thanks so much for having me.

GROSS: Has your research into breathing taking on a slightly different meaning because of COVID-19, because of its respiratory systems and the anxiety that it's creating?

NESTOR: I think the awareness of breathing has definitely increased. When I first started this research several years ago, a lot of my friends were saying, you're writing a book about breathing? I've been breathing my whole life. Why would you want to write a book about that? But now these are the same friends who are seeing how essential respiratory health is in helping us both prevent the onset of many illnesses and to help us get through illnesses like COVID - to help us better get through them.

GROSS: So you had been a mouth breather, and you did some snoring. You had a deviated septum, which was affecting your ability to breathe through your nose because that kind of clogs part of the nose - or blocks part of the nasal passage, I should say. So to understand whether mouth breathing was really a problem, you participated in a study at Stanford University that forced you to breathe through your mouth. Describe what the setup was.

NESTOR: Yeah. So I had been in contact with the chief of rhinology research, Jayakar Nayak, for months and months. We had had several interviews. We'd been talking a lot. And he was telling me all the wonders of nasal breathing and how bad mouth breathing was. And none of that was controversial. That's very well-established now. But nobody really knew how - all the problems of mouth breathing - no one knew how soon those came on.

So I asked him. I said, well, why don't you test it? You're in a position to test it. He's like, how am I going to test it? It would be unethical to ask someone to plug their nose for a certain amount of time and measure what happens. And I said, well, I'll do it. So it was never, like, a "Super Size Me" study. That wasn't our intention. If - 25 to 50% of the population is breathing through their mouth, so I was just lulling myself into a condition I already knew and that so many other people already knew.

So the plan was, for 10 days, I would have silicone plugs up my nose - me and one other subject, a breathing therapist from Sweden; I convinced him to do this study as well. And for the other 10 days, we would change the pathway of how we breathe and breathe through our noses instead of our mouths. So that was it. That was the setup. And you know, we thought that mouth breathing for 10 days was going to be bad, but we had no idea it was going to be so damaging.

GROSS: How bad was it?

NESTOR: (Laughter) Well, I went from snoring a couple minutes a night to - within three days, I was snoring for hours a night. I developed sleep apnea. My stress levels were off the charts. My nervous system was a mess. We had a whole home lab here at my house, so we were testing each other three times a day every day and writing out all of these metrics. We even had - were looking at blood glucose, how that was affected.

So I felt awful. I felt fatigued - snoring, sleep apnea, all the rest - and even performance - athletic performance really decreased as well. And the good thing about this is, I was able to take these god-awful plugs out of my nose and breathe nasally again. And once I did that, snoring disappeared; sleep apnea disappeared; nervous system came back into balance - I mean, completely transformed by just changing the pathway through which we breathed.

GROSS: So what's in the nose that makes nose breathing better than mouth breathing 'cause mouths don't have that stuff?

NESTOR: So the nose filters heat and treats raw air. Most of us know that. But so many of us don't realize - at least, I didn't realize - how it can trigger different hormones to flood into our bodies, how it can lower our blood pressure, how the stages of a woman's menstrual cycle are correlated to different areas of the nose, how it monitors heart rate - on and on and on - even helps store memories. So it's this incredible organ that is not represented in any of the departments of the National Institutes of Health, and this is something that Nayak has, you know, just hammered down over and over again. He's like, why aren't we studying this more? And why don't people - more people realize how important nasal breathing is? So it's - it orchestrates innumerable functions in our body to keep us balanced.

GROSS: What I found most surprising was that the nose actually has erectile tissue like men's and women's genitals.

NESTOR: (Laughter) So the nose is more closely connected to our genitals than any other organ. So it is covered in that same tissue. So when one area gets stimulated, the nose will become stimulated as well. Some people have too close of a connection, where they get stimulated in the southerly regions - they will start uncontrollably sneezing. And this condition is common enough that it was given a name called honeymoon rhinitis. So the...

GROSS: Wow (laughter).

NESTOR: That - the - yeah. This is the weird stuff you never thought you'd discover when you start writing a book about breathing. But another thing that is really fascinating is, that erectile tissue will pulse on its own, so it will close one nostril and allow breath in through the other nostril. Then that other nostril will close and allow breath in. And our bodies do this on their own, and this switching happens between 30 minutes and every three hours.

And a lot of people think - a lot of people who have studied this believe that this is the way that our bodies maintain balance because when we breathe through our right nostril, circulation speeds up; the body gets hotter; cortisol levels increase; blood pressure increases. So breathing through the left will relax us more, so blood pressure will decrease - lowers temperature, cools the body, you know, reduces anxiety as well. So our bodies are naturally doing this. And when we breathe through our mouths, we're denying our bodies the ability to do this and to keep us in balance.

GROSS: But what about if you can't breathe through your nose because either you have a cold or a respiratory illness or you have a bad deviated septum?

NESTOR: Sure. Around 70% of the population has a deviated septum that's clearly visible to the naked eye. So this is just rampant. And I certainly do. When I got a CAT scan of my head, it was an absolute mess. But some conditions are so severe that you will need surgical intervention for sure. But the vast majority are not. And something Nayak kept telling me is, he said, you know, if a sink is clogged in your house, you're going to find a way of unclogging it. The nose should be considered in the same way.

For noses clogged, you need to find a way of unclogging it. You can do that by breathing more through your nose because it's really a use-it-or-lose-it organ. The more you breathe through it, the more you're going to be able to breathe through it. I was just talking to a clinician who's trained something like 7,000 people to nasal breathe. And only four of them could not breathe through their noses after about three weeks of training. So it's really something - the more we focus on it, the more we really concentrate, the more we're able to open it up and to get all those benefits of nasal breathing.

GROSS: So after you do this experiment about breathing exclusively for your - through your mouth, you decided, at night, to try taping your mouth so that you couldn't breathe through your mouth and you'd have to breathe through your nose. How did that go?

NESTOR: (Laughter) Yeah. So this is something - a hack that I had heard about and was extremely skeptical about. It sounded very dangerous to me until I talked to a breathing therapist at Stanford, who said that she had cured her own mouth-breathing by taping her mouth at night, and until I talked to a dentist, who'd been in the field for 20, 30 years who prescribes this to his patients.

Now, I'm not talking about getting a fat piece of duct tape and taping that over your mouth. That's a really bad idea. I'm talking about a teeny piece of surgical tape about the size of a stamp. Imagine, like, a Charlie Chaplin mustache moved down an inch. And my personal experience with this is it has allowed me to sleep so much better, wake up so much more rested and to not have that dry mouth every morning.

GROSS: So with the kind of tape you're talking about, if your mouth really needed to open, it could because that's not - like you said, it's not, like, really strong tape. It's just, like, surgical tape and a little piece of it. So you're not...

NESTOR: Of course.

GROSS: You're not gagging yourself (laughter).

NESTOR: Yeah. And I'm not prescribing - I'm not qualified to...

GROSS: And you're not prescribing it, and neither am I (laughter).

NESTOR: I'm not prescribing anything. No, no, no.

GROSS: Yeah. Yeah.

NESTOR: I'm saying, this personally worked for me. But don't go on YouTube. Don't go on the Internet and see these people with nine pieces of tape over their lower jaw. It's like, bad idea. I've found all you need is a very small piece of tape. And there's even a product out right now that is being sold as a remedy for snoring. And what is it? It's a piece of tape that you put on your lips at night (laughter). So other people - and they've conducted studies to show how effective it is. So this worked well for me. It's worked well for many other people. But I'm not prescribing anything.

GROSS: And I should mention that my guest, James Nestor, is also not a doctor. He's a journalist. And he's reporting on what he's learned by talking to many researchers and doctors and people who practice breathing techniques and teach breathing techniques. If you're just joining us, my guest is journalist James Nestor, author of the new book "Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art." We'll talk more after we take a short break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with journalist James Nestor, author of the new book, "Breath," about what ancient forms of Eastern meditation, as well as new science, tell us about breathing and how, by controlling our breath through various techniques, we can improve our sleep, our health and decrease our anxiety.

Breathing is automatic. But we can control, when we consciously try, the quality of the breath, the length of inhales and exhales, and how deeply or shallowly we breathe. Can you explain why breath would, for instance, affect anxiety and how breathing in certain ways, certain breathing techniques, can decrease anxiety...


GROSS: ...Anxiety being a very important subject right now.

NESTOR: So for so many of us, we think that it's just important that we're breathing because if we're breathing, that's good. That means we're alive. If we're not breathing, that's bad, you know, we could be dead. But it's how we take those breaths. We take 25,000 breaths a day. And 30 pounds of air enters and exits our lungs every day. So it's how we take those breaths and the nuances of those breaths that I've found play such an important role in health, happiness and longevity.

So specifically, with anxiety, talked to a neuropsychologist, went out to his lab at the Laureate Institute of Brain Research. And he explained to me that people with anxieties or other fear-based conditions, typically, will breathe way too much. So what happens when you breathe that much is you're constantly putting yourself into a state of stress. So you're stimulating that sympathetic side of the nervous system.

And the way to change that is to breathe deeply, because if you think about it, if you're stressed out - a tiger is going to come get you, you know, you're going to get hit by a car - you're going to breathe, breathe, breathe as much as you can. But by breathing slowly, that is associated with a relaxation response. So the diaphragm lowers. You're allowing more air into your lungs. And your body immediately switches to a relaxed state.

So we may not be able to control the function of our hearts, other organs in our body, but we can control our breathing. And when we control our breathing, we can influence so much of how our bodies operate. And that includes - as a treatment or at least a practice for people with anxieties, depression, just changing their breathing, psychiatrists have found, can have a very transformational effect. It seems so simple to be true. But some of these people have been studying this subject for decades. And that's what they've found.

GROSS: There are many different breathing techniques. There are many different breathing meditation styles. What do they all have in common? Is there something they all have in common in terms of inhale and exhale and the basic principles underneath?

NESTOR: So breathing has been studied for thousands and thousands of years. There are seven books of the Chinese Tao that deal only with breathing, what happens when we do it improperly and all of the benefits we can get by doing it properly. So all of those ways, all of the different practices do have one thing in common. And that's because they allow you to slow down and consciously listen to yourself and feel how breath is affecting you. So there is many different tools in this toolbox. If you want to slow down and become more relaxed, you can exhale longer than you inhale. So that will have a very powerful effect on you for relaxation.

If you want to stimulate yourself and get going, you can breathe much faster. So what I've found is, throughout time, throughout millennia, these different cultures at different times, different peoples were discovering the same exact thing over and over. So it's very interesting that, right now, we have the science and the techniques and measurements to really prove what these people have been saying for so long.

GROSS: Why does the exhale quiet the system?

NESTOR: Because the exhale is a parasympathetic response. Right now, you can put your hand over your heart. And if you take a very slow inhale in, you're going to feel your heart speed up. As you exhale, you should be feeling your heart slow down. So exhaling relaxes the body. And something else happens when we take a very deep breath like this. So the diaphragm lowers. When we take a breath in. And that sucks a bunch of blood, a huge profusion of blood, into the thoracic cavity.

As we exhale, that blood shoots back out through the body. So the diaphragm is considered the second heart because it plays such a huge role in circulation. And it lowers the burden of the heart if we breathe properly and if we really engage the diaphragm. So these slow and low breaths, people should be practicing these as much as possible. This is the way your body wants to take an air.

GROSS: If you want to start breathing to calm yourself down, do you have any suggestions for the length of the inhale and the length of the exhale?

NESTOR: Sure. And this was a study I'd stumbled upon that's about 20 years old now, that some Italian researchers gathered a group of subjects. And they had them recite the Ave Maria, so the Catholic prayer cycle. And then they had them recite om mani padme hum, which is a Buddhist prayer. What they found is that it took about 5 1/2 seconds to recite each of these prayers, and then about 5 1/2 seconds to then inhale.

And so by breathing about 5 1/2 seconds out, 5 1/2 seconds in, they found that blood to the brain increased. The body entered this state of balance in which all of the organs, all of the system worked in harmony with one another. And they covered these people with sensors and were able to see all of this all on data sheets. And the study is widely available. So they later found that you don't need to really pray to get these benefits even though you can do that if you'd like.

But just by breathing at this rate, about 5 1/2 seconds in, 5 1/2 seconds out - don't worry if you're a second off, you know, the point is to relax yourself - you are able to get the perfect amount of air into your body and out of your body and really allow your body to do what it's naturally designed to do, which is function with the least amount of effort. And they've taught this breathing - psychiatrists have taught this breathing pattern to people with anxiety, depression, even 9/11 survivors who had this ghastly condition called ground-glass lungs. And it had significant effects on them by just breathing this way.

GROSS: You've said if you exhale longer than you inhale, that that can be very calming. So if both the inhale and the exhale are 5 1/2 seconds, you're not doing a longer exhale. Does that matter?

NESTOR: So the body wants to be balanced, right? We want sympathetic balance. We want parasympathetic balance. So just in regular day-to-day activity, you want to have that balance. Before you go to sleep, you can extend that exhale and become more relaxed. But I would not be extending that exhale before a meeting or before an important phone call.

So you can use these different tools to do different things. You can also inhale longer and exhale shorter if you want a little boost of energy. So the even-steven, like, the most balanced way of breathing that I've found after studying this stuff and talking to the leaders in the field was that five to six seconds in, five to six seconds out.

GROSS: My guest is journalist James Nestor, author of the new book "Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art." We'll talk more after we take a short break. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Let's get back to my interview with journalist James Nestor, author of the new book "Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art." It's about the impact of how we breathe on our health, our sleep and our anxiety level. He investigates different ancient and new breathing techniques that can improve our health and expand our lung capacity. Nestor's previous book, "DEEP," was about free diving, in which divers go deep underwater, for up to 12 minutes, on one breath.

James, you know, in talking about breath and its impact on our health and our anxiety, you referred to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Without going into too much detail, can you just explain briefly what each of them are and why they're relevant to breath?

NESTOR: Sure. The sympathetic nervous system is the system that triggers a fight-or-flight reaction. So when we sense danger, the sympathetic nervous system switches on, floods our bodies with stress hormones and allows us to become meaner and leaner and to fight harder or to run really fast. That's what that does.

So the parasympathetic is the opposite. This is the side of the nervous system that triggers a rest-and-relax response. And we want to be in this state when we're eating food. Mostly, throughout the entire day, we want to be in a parasympathetic state. The problem is that, nowadays, all of us are kind of half-stressed. We're not really running away from a tiger or a lion or fighting for our lives, but we're not really relaxing, either. So we're staying in this gray zone, where during the night, we're half-awake and during our days, we're half-asleep.

So that's what I found was so interesting about breathing, is by just breathing, you can elicit these different nervous system states. So you can take command of something that was supposed to be autonomic. That's what it's called - the autonomic nervous system. But you can control it, and you can stress yourself out if you want, or you can relax yourself, just by breathing.

GROSS: What are the things that we typically do wrong when we breathe? Like, speaking for myself, I think I'm a very shallow breather when I'm not paying attention to my breathing. I think my kind of go-to state is just shallow breaths. So what's wrong with that?

NESTOR: Well, you can think about breathing as being in a boat, right? So you can take a bunch of very short, stilted strokes, and you're going to get to where you want to go. It's going to take a while, but you'll get there. Or you can take a few very fluid and long strokes and get there so much more efficiently. So your body doesn't want to be overworked all the time because, if it is, then things start to break down.

So you want to make it very easy for your body to get air, especially if this is an act that we're doing 25,000 times a day. So by just extending those inhales and exhales, by moving that diaphragm up and down a little more, you can have a profound effect on your blood pressure, on your mental state, on - even on longevity because so much of longevity is correlated with respiratory health and lung size.

GROSS: One of the trips that you took as part of your research was to Philadelphia to go to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and look at their skull collection with Dr. Marianna Evans. And she told you some fascinating things about how the skull has changed through human history - I mean through the evolution (laughter) of human history and how the nose has changed. So tell us some of the most interesting things you learned about how our nose evolved.

NESTOR: So - sure. You know, when I was first starting out researching this book, I thought I had a pretty good idea of where all of the research was going to lead me. I identified the leaders in the field, different areas I was going to go into.

But about six months into it, I realized that so much of what I had planned had to be thrown out because there was a much stranger story several layers deep. And it was the fact that so many of us are breathing poorly not because some sort of psychological problem, not because we're anxious, but because we can't, because our skulls have changed so much, especially in the last 400 years, that it's blocked our sinuses, and it's made us breathe more through our mouths.

And at the beginning, when I heard this, I didn't believe it. But I started talking to biological anthropologists who kept telling me the same thing over and over. They said if you take a skull that's a thousand years old and compare it to a new skull, that skull that's a thousand years old, there's a very good chance its teeth are going to be perfectly straight, whereas the modern skull, there's a very good chance its teeth are going to be very crooked.

So those perfectly straight teeth in that thousand-year-old skull, they would be the same teeth you'd find in a 10,000-year-old skull, hundred-thousand-year-old skull and on back. So just in the past 400 years, humans now have - about 90% percent of us - have some problems with our teeth that make them grow in crooked. And the reason is our mouths have grown so small that our teeth have nowhere to go. So they come in crooked. And another problem with having too small of a mouth is it also gives us too small of an airway to easily take air in and out.

So this was a story about evolution I never heard about in school, that I didn't think could be possibly true, unless you start looking at skulls. So she welcomed me, Marianna Evans, to go to the museum with the largest collection of preindustrial skulls. And time in, time out, didn't matter if the skulls were coming from Asia or Africa or South America, they all had straight teeth. And if you - again, if you look at a skull now, it's a very good chance it's going to have crooked teeth.

GROSS: So the obvious question is, why did skulls get smaller?

NESTOR: Well, I think that - you know, I had learned in school that evolution always meant survival of the fittest. But it doesn't; it means change. And life forms can change for the better or worse, and humans have certainly been changing in ways that are a detriment to our health. And this change, this catalyst that caused our mouths to go smaller, is tied to industrial food. It's not vitamins and minerals, as many people would suspect; it's chewing. The fact is, for the past 300 years, our food has been so processed, so soft, that we're not chewing anymore. So our mouths never quite develop right, which means our airways are clogged.

GROSS: Didn't Dr. Evans also tell you that as the human brain expanded, it left less room for the nose and the mouth?

NESTOR: This was about a million years ago, when we started processing foods, bashing prey against rocks. And we started cooking foods about 800,000 years ago, our brains started growing so rapidly, and they needed real estate. So they took it from the front of our faces, and they took it from our mouths. But these changes happened over tens of thousands of years, these morphological changes. So the changes that happen to our mouths happen very quickly, and we haven't been able to adapt fast enough to really acclimate to it.

So that is one of the reasons why we have so many chronic breathing problems. It's tied to the shrinking of the front of our faces.

GROSS: Well, let me take a short break here, and then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us, my guest is journalist James Nestor, author of the new book "Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art." We'll talk more after we take a short break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to my interview with journalist James Nestor, author of the new book "Breath," about what ancient forms of Eastern meditation as well as new science tell us about breathing and how, by controlling our breath through various techniques, we can improve our sleep, our health and decrease our anxiety.

So you had respiratory problems 10 years ago, when you started all this research into breathing techniques. Have your respiratory problems improved?

NESTOR: I have not had pneumonia since I've been using these techniques. I haven't had bronchitis. I've been breathing clearly through my nose. I've had one stuffed nose in the past year and a half, when I came down with a flu. So I'm not using that as confirmed data that says this stuff works; I'm saying that it worked for me.

And I just want to also make clear that I had no slant going into this world. My job, as a journalist who writes about science a lot, is to take all the data, talk to as many people as I can and come out with a very objective view of what's going on here. That's what I really tried to do with this book. So I don't want to be preaching slow breathing or heavy breathing or whatever. I wanted to present the facts and the studies and say, this is what's worked for people; this is what the science says.

But on a personal point, you know, I will say, you get pretty emotionally invested in the subject once you've been in it for years and years. And once you've seen these people so profoundly transformed, the more you dive into these worlds and become consumed by it, the more you want to feel these benefits and try to understand them in a certain way so you can relay that back to the reader.

GROSS: You know, so many doctors now are trying to figure out how the coronavirus works in the body and why it does the damage that it does and how they can help patients, you know, get over it and recover. And I know that some doctors now, instead of using respirators, are doing what's called proning, in which the person who is having the breathing problems because of the virus, instead of lying on their back, they lay on their side or, I think, on their chest, and that that seems to somehow make it easier for them to breathe. And I'm wondering if you have been reading about that and what your understanding of it is.

NESTOR: So about four weeks ago, five weeks ago, when a patient would have very severe symptoms of COVID, they would bring them in and lay them on their back and sometimes intubate them, and this seemed to work for a lot of the patients. But what they found more recently was that by laying them on their sides or on their stomachs, they could breathe so much better.

I found this was so interesting because 2,000 years ago, Chinese doctors prescribed side-sleeping as well. And then you have a cardiologist 80 years ago, 70 years ago, named Buteyko that asked all of his patients with pneumonia or other respiratory problems to always sleep on their sides. So he would even tape balls to their back so they could not sleep on their backs. So it seems like this science that has been around for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years just keeps popping up in these different ways.

And they've found that prone breathing - and they've even put some patients in a chair because they don't want them lying down - is extremely effective. And a lot of this has to do with how we breathe. When you take a big breath, your back is - more of the lungs are on your back, so your back is going to be expanding. Your chest expands a little bit, but most of that is happening at the back. So when you're lying someone on their backs, they're not going to be able to access their lungs as efficiently.

So it's simple physics. By flipping them around, they're going to be able to breathe better. So this was just another example. I was sending this back and forth to my father-in-law, who's a pulmonologist, been a pulmonologist for 40 years. And I was just like, it's more of the new science of a lost art here. We're just rediscovering all of these hacks that have been around for so long.

GROSS: I didn't realize your father-in-law was a pulmonologist, which means he works with patients who have lung issues. What does he make of the research that you present in the book? Is it consistent with what he's found as a doctor? And I'm wondering if he's adding anything to his toolbox (laughter).

NESTOR: All I can say is we've had some very lively Thanksgiving dinners together talking about this stuff over the years.

GROSS: (Laughter).

NESTOR: But at the beginning, he thought a lot of what I was uncovering - he was like, I never heard of that; I don't know about this. He's a pretty conservative guy in his beliefs, as far as medicine is concerned.

But over the years, one of the most fascinating things for me has been presenting him with more of this research, more of these studies, more of these investigators and scientists who have been saying the same stuff and watching him really change his mind. That's not what I set out to do. I want him to be critical and trust me. He was when I was bringing up a lot of these issues.

But watching him come around and get very exciting about using these other hacks, especially now, especially with COVID, when so many of us aren't breathing well - we've got masks on; we feel tightness in our chest - to be able to focus on our breathing and really allow us to be healthier and to have more of a calmer state of mind. So it's been a fantastic conversation over several years, and he's very excited about some of this really weird stuff I've uncovered.

GROSS: You know, your previous book was about divers who dive deep with one breath, and they can hold one breath for about 12 minutes. How do they train their lungs to expand enough to hold enough air to do all that on one breath?

NESTOR: So the world record is 12 1/2 minutes, the breath-hold. And most divers will hold their breath for eight minutes or seven minutes, which is still incredible to me. When I first saw this - this was several years ago. I was sent out on a reporting assignment to write about a free-diving competition. You watch this person at the surface take a single breath of air and completely disappear into the ocean, come back five or six minutes later. So

the way they were able to do this was by breathing.

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7 Reasons Why Sleep is One Of the Best Age-Defying Treatments – Longevity LIVE

In the day and age of Botox and plastic surgery, people are going the extra mile to make themselves look younger, when in reality, all you need is a little beauty sleep. Skip the endless trials of age-defying oils and lotions, and read the following reasons on why rest is one of the best age-defying treatments out there.

During sleeping hours, especially when your body is in deep or REM sleep, your skin repairs itself. If you do not get enough sleep or are suffering from sleep deprivation, dark circles under your eyes will form, as your body has not repaired itself enough. If you are sure to get a full night of sleep, you will quickly notice that your skin has gained a more youthful appearance.

Human growth hormones are produced at high levels when we are young, yet slow down as we age. However, these hormones still get produced in lower quantities and levels during slow-wave sleep.

If you are lacking sleep and, thus, lacking these human growth hormones, you will most likely experience reduced muscle mass, sagging skin, slower metabolism, and more fat in your stomach. If you find yourself struggling to get to sleep, try to find mattresses that have better contour supportto ensure you are sleeping to the best of your ability.

The most abundant protein you can find in your body is collagen, and this protein is the major component of connective tissues, including your skin. It provides structure to your skin, giving you a youthful look. This protein is made while you sleep, so if you start to get behind on sleep, you will begin to notice visible wrinkles. There are collagen supplements you can take, however, nothing beats getting the real deal made in your very own body.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that naturally decreases when you sleep, and stress is known to cause breakouts. If you sleep a healthy amount, you will not have to worry about these stress breakouts. On the other hand, if you have constant high cortisol levels, it can easily and quickly cause acne breakouts.

Sleeping allows your skin to produce protective antioxidants that reduce damage from UV rays. If you miss out on sleep, you are missing out on these essential antioxidants. You can also take in this defense system through fruits, vegetables, and certain skincare products, but again, the easiest way to get them is by getting your beauty sleep.

Lack of sleep leads to facial inflammation and dysfunctions in your skin barrier, which causes a lack of hydration. Sleeping allows your face to stay hydrated, plump, and youthful-looking, instead of dry and flaky, so be sure to sleep that desert away.

Just like your mind, your skin has some serious stressors, too. While it may not be a new job or an important test coming up, its stressors are also significant. These include inflammation, redness, loss of moisture and elasticity, and inability to repair minor damage, such as sunburn. Sleeping gives your body and skin time to recover and fix all of those issues, leaving your skin more youthful-looking.

If you are trying to repair your skin, obviously the easy solution is getting more rest, but there are other ways to help your skin.

For starters, washing your face consistently is the first step. If you wash your face, yet still seem to struggle from looking tired, use products that contain antioxidants, like vitamin C, to help your skin repair overnight.

Consider using anti-aging skincare products as well. If you do start to use skincare products, do not apply them right before hitting the pillow. Allow the lotions, serums, oils, and any other products you might have used to sink into your skin for at least 15 minutes before you lay down to avoid them rubbing off on your sheets and pillow.

If you find your face to be drier than you would like, consider using an air humidifier. Humidifiers circulate water through the air and provide hydration continuously. Using them will help to leave you with a more youthful appearance.

Besides the scientific benefits of sleep, as Jim Butcher once said, Sleep is God. Go worship.

Want to read more about how to sleep better? Click here for more sleep inspiration.

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After the coronavirus, lets make Cleveland Kindland: Edward Kraus and Stuart Muszynski –

MAYFIELD, Ohio -- During these times of daunting crisis, people are rethinking things as they look to the future. What will social gatherings look like? What will education look like? What will offices and businesses look like? All of these areas are up for grabs. People and companies are thinking out of the box because they have to in order to resume some semblance of normalcy.

Many people are also reflecting on life lessons: cherishing friends and family with new gratitude; appreciating service workers, delivery drivers, restaurant workers, hospital workers, grocery workers, teachers and first responders.

We have also seen abundant kindness: neighbors cheering neighbors; friends caring for the elderly; restaurants serving health care workers; strangers grocery shopping for newfound friends; random cars honking to celebrate birthdays. The list goes on.

Ellen DeGeneres observed on her show, that, This virus has us all isolated but the strength of human kindness means that we are not alone.

Edward Kraus is mayor of Solon.

Even corporations have extended kindness: bankers assisting businesses; mortgage companies and landlords giving abatements; insurance companies refunding premiums; and companies as diverse as Giant Eagle, FirstEnergy, Donatos and KeyBank advertising messages to comfort and inspire.

Media have been overflowing with good news about local heroes. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have documented inspiring stories about courage, caring and compassion. Many companies Cleveland Whiskey, Gojo, Thogus, Eaton, Lubrizol, Swagelok and others have altered production or collaborated to distribute hand sanitizer, safety shields and face masks.

This show of goodwill has created feelings of humanity and goodness despite otherwise grim numbers. Though there are economic disparities that cause stress for families trying to make ends meet, the overwhelming feeling is that people genuinely care.

When have we had this feeling of compassion before? During 9/11? A family wedding or funeral? Maybe never?

Stuart Muszynski is president and CEO of Values-in-Action Foundation.

Consider this new normal compared to the pre-pandemic world in which negative news abounded; insults overwhelmed Twitter; bullying inhabited schools; racism and anti-Semitism populated communities; and mass shootings happened every week.

While were rethinking: What would Cleveland look like if we sustained kindness, compassion and goodwill as the core values of our community?

What if Cleveland became Kindland? What would that mean?

For one, studies have shown that kindness has a viral effect, infecting at least three people in its wake. Kindness increases endorphins, which produce happiness and optimism; decreases cortisol, which produces stress; and increases longevity.

What company doesnt want kind workers? If Cleveland became Kindland and developed a reputation as a kind, respectful and responsible community, would this become an economic development draw? Would companies relocating gravitate to our region? Would kindness increase productivity and happiness among workers? Employee-engagement studies conducted by the University of California indicate that it would.

Prior to the coronavirus, we at Values-in-Action had already embarked on an initiative to make Cleveland Kindland asking leaders to become Leaders of Kindland, mayors to become Mayors of Kindland and citizens to become Citizens of Kindland committed to spreading kindness within the community. Many in Cleveland felt that this would be good for our image and our populace.

As we proceed to a new normal, we hope that citizens, leaders, nonprofits, government entities, companies and media join us in this endeavor. Lets not lose the good feelings we have engendered and the life lessons we have learned to return to business as usual. As we re-examine our lives and the future vitality of our region, lets commit to making Cleveland Kindland.

Edward Kraus, a board member of Values-in-Action Foundation, is the mayor of Solon. Stuart Muszynski is the president and CEO of Values-in-Action Foundation, a Cleveland-based character-education, kindness and leadership nonprofit serving 2,500 schools in all 50 states. To pledge to become a citizen of Kindland, go to

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Is Your Immune System Ready to Fight COVID-19? The Answer is in Your Genes – Longevity LIVE

COVID-19 has caught everyone by surprise. Theres no vaccine or defense, other than the one offered by nature right now your immune system. The world is worried about their health. Knowing how your immune system works at a genetic level may give you some answers you need to improve your odds of recovering from or even avoiding being infected with a virus like COVID-19.

Dr. Yael Joffe, is the Chief Science Officer at 3X4 Genetics. She says COVID-19 can be damaging and may be fatal. The virus triggers the hosts immune system and causes the body to react. Understanding your genes can help. Heres what you need to know.

The problem is that this immune response, in certain cases, can overreact. In order to kill the virus, the immune system floods the body with its in-built cellular defense system. However, when left unchecked the response may cause damage to your own cells, and with COVID-19, particularly the cells in your respiratory system. This being said, these responses differ widely amongst individuals. Partly because of how their genes respond.

Knowing how prepared your immune system is to defend yourself against the virus is a must. Youre gifted with a complex immune system, or cellular defense mechanisms. It springs into action when a toxin or pathogen (viruses and bacteria) overwhelms the body. Dr. Joffe explains: The way these mechanisms act can differ from person-to-person because of your genes. By taking a genetic test you will then be able to tell how ready your immune system is, and whether your cellular defense processes work optimally.

Genes are switches. When a protein or enzyme is needed by the body, the gene is switched on to make that protein. This is true for how the cellular defense system responds.

A number of genes switch on when the virus is detected to mobilize against it and switch off when the virus is killed off and flushed out. The problem with a virus-like COVID-19 is that the response is so powerful, cellular defense mechanisms like inflammation and oxidative stress are turned up so high that the body can be flooded and overwhelmed by the defense mechanisms themselves, causing damage to the cells. How efficiently these on and off processes work differs between individuals. Its partly due to their own genetic makeup. Once you know how optimally your cellular defense processes are working, you can understand better how resilient your immune system is. Then you can take steps to address shortfall.

Dr. Christine Houghton, Founder and Chief Science Officer at Cell-Logic is an expert on the relationship of genes with nutrition. She says knowing more about your genes can help your healthcare practitioner make positive changes through nutrition to improve and optimize these metabolic processes.

While many will be reaching for mega doses of supplements, your system is unique, nuanced, and very complex. A single nutrient like vitamin C, by itself, is nothing compared to the many small, calculated tweaks required at a molecular level to have your immune system work at its prime.

Your bodys core cellular defense processes such as inflammation, oxidative stress, detoxification, and methylation are required to fight off COVID-19. They are activated and switched off via genes. Their reaction time and how efficiently they respond can be adjusted using a personalized, wholesome, and healthy diet, together with targeted nutrigenomic supplements.

Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a master switch that is responsible for switching on (and off) hundreds of genes involved in cellular defense. It responds to the presence of any pro-oxidant molecule in the body that then activates many of the genes involved in the cellular defense processes. If it switches on quickly, you can flush the coronavirus out better. Although there are Ts and Cs to this process. Complications can occur with underlying chronic health conditions.

Houghton says that one way in which we can optimize the function of Nrf2s is by the ingestion of a nutrigenomically active molecule called Sulforaphane. The precursor to Sulforaphane is found abundantly in raw, calciferous vegetables such as broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. Unfortunately, its destroyed during cooking, and a quality broccoli sprout supplement may be required.

As there are many variables, it is important to consult a specialist who can help you prepare your immune system to be strong and resilient. This is especially true in times when there is an unchecked virus on the loose.

Can you prepare your immune system now? Dr. Joffe says the short answer is yes. You can start to optimize your immune system response for COVID-19-like threats through a tailored nutrigenomic dietary plan.

Make an appointment with an accredited nutrigenomic health practitioner and get a nutrigenetic test done to learn about the variability of your genes and your response to diet and lifestyle choices. This will inform them what cellular processes require the most attention. They will then recommend a nutrigenomic plan. They will also let you know what foods to eat to bolster your immune system to fight off a virus. This might also require some nutrigenomic supplements which mimic and optimize natural processes in your body.

Having a healthy immune system supported by an optimally functioning cellular defense mechanism could not only give you the edge in the fight against COVID-19, but will help you live a better, healthier, and longer life.

WATCH Longevitys Q&A with Dr Yael Joffe on genes and COVID-19. CLICK HERE.

As a dietitian who was both disappointed and disillusioned with the dietetics profession, Dr. Joffe was fortunate enough to start working in the field of nutrigenomics in 2000. She obtained my PhD from the University of Cape Town. She explored the genetics and nutrition of obesity in South African women. Today Dr. Joffe regularly speaks at conferences and workshops. She was also part of the team that built the first Nutrigenomic genetic test in 2000 in the United Kingdom. This was three years before the mapping of the human genome.

Dr. Joffe co-authored Its Not Just Your Genes, The SNP Journal, and Genes to Plate. The first gene-based recipe book. She has also published in peer-reviewed journals and been involved in the development and supervision of nutrigenomics courses around the world. Dr. Joffe is currently an Adjunct Professor, teaching Nutrigenomics at Rutgers University and at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She went on to establish Manuka Science in 2014, an online Translational Nutrigenomics training course for health practitioners. More recently she launched the 3X4 Clinic in Cape Town, and 3X4 Genetics. The company brings together expert nutrigenomic practitioners with the best genetic test and user experience. When not working to disrupt health care, she seeks equal parts discomfort and inspiration in open water swimming.

Dr. Christine Houghton Founder Director Senior Scientist Cell Logic has enjoyed a fulfilling and varied career in Nutritional Medicine spanning more than 30 years. Her work continues to stay at the forefront of this rapidly evolving profession. As a clinician, author, and educator, she is dedicated to promoting a model of health care that closely reflects diet and lifestyle choices. She holds a BSc in Biochemistry from The University of Queensland. As well as a Graduate Diploma in Human Nutrition from Deakin University in Victoria. Dr. Houghton is an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Science at The University of Queensland.

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