La Dolce Vita – Living the Good Life

As opposed to Americans, who champion their country as the greatest in the world because “it just is,” Italians actually have facts to back up their claims. A number of daily habits, customs and institutions are contributing factors to the country’s high standard of living. The same case may also pertain to other countries in the region like Portugal and France, as well.

Keep in mind that despite its problems, Italy has the world’s eighth largest economy, which is also third largest in the Eurozone. It can and should be considered an affluent country.

According to the latest World Health Organization Statistics, life expectancy in Italy is 80.3 years for males and 85.2 years for females, and total life expectancy is 82.9 years, which lists Italy as fourth in World Life Expectancy ranking. Italians are also very healthy. “Viva l’Italia e gli Italiani,” which means “long live Italy and the Italians,” is true now more than ever.

Additionally, Italy beats the United States in virtually every major health category, including life expectancy and infant mortality. It has, along with every other civilized nation except the United States, a system of universal health care coverage that invariably improves living standards across the board.

Not only is basic access to superb Italian doctors affordable to all, but cost control and subsidy measures are in place for extras including necessary medications, prescriptions and surgeries. Therefore, Italians will not go broke if they fall sick and will not carry heavy financial burdens in order to stay healthy.

Differences in Italian and American health care systems are obvious but they come from decisions usually made by politicians. Italian values and American values have similarities on an individual level.

In the end, Italians want to enjoy life to the max, a desire American culture seems to devalue at the expense of productivity. The average workweek for Italians is slightly shorter, and they have far more vacation time, as well as mandated employer-paid family and maternity leave.

Some conjecture that leisure is the basis of advancement, innovation and arguably happiness. It also can lead to less stress and a lower risk of heart attack and heart disease, among other ailments.

Furthermore, the Italian “pissolino” or “siesta” as they call it in Spain (a short, mid-afternoon nap) has proven to have short and long-term health benefits for its advocates.

In short, Italians have an increased alertness and productivity, which leads to a reduction in the number of mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. In the long-term, it can help combat memory loss, prevent caffeine dependency and foster creativity.

Undeniably, Italians have a tremendous passion for drinking wine and dining well. “Life is too short for average meals,” they say. Studies have proven the wonders of a Mediterranean diet’s for one’s health and longevity. This includes, but is not limited to, lower risk of stroke, developing certain types of cancers, heart disease, type two diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

GMO’s in Italy? They do not exist. Fast Food? It is few and far between. Fast food restaurants are very often concentrated in tourist areas because Italians, on the whole, view the concept as contrary to what dining is supposed to be all about: the time of day when you unwind with good company or loved ones, and celebrate life and the fruit of your labors. Food is a religion in these parts, and it is for the better.

In the United States we stand to gain a lot from incorporating what they seem to have gotten right as a necessary complement to what makes America an exceptional nation.

Just as we have greatly benefited from the Italians through their pioneering architecture, design, cooking, fashion, romance and sport, it has come time to follow suit in bringing a little more “dolce” to America.

R.M. Hochella
Modern Health Perspectives

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Where Do We Stand With Zika?

No country is immune from a potential outbreak, as long as the mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus.

To make matters worse, Zika can also be transmitted by blood transfusions and through sexual contact, particularly oral, anal and vaginal sex, and even by secretions left on sex toys.

Some have called Zika the world’s newest STD.

Why it’s serious

Scientists have learned a lot about Zika in the past year. For one, the virus appears to have mutated as it has spread around the world.

When it first emerged, inconspicuously, from Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947, the effects of infection were mild, nothing worse than a mild cold or flu. Though that’s still true for many today, for others, the consequences of Zika are devastating. Babies are being born with life-altering brain damage to women infected with Zika during their pregnancies, immune-compromised adults are dying of complications, and a Zika-triggered auto-immune disorder called Guillain-Barré attacks the nervous system, causing temporary paralysis and even death.

Vaccine On The Way?

No vaccine currently exists. Even though several private and governmental agencies have versions in the works, the likelihood of having a vaccine ready for public consumption is a year or two away — possibly even more.

A number of groups are screening thousands of drugs that were already approved for human use by the Food and Drug Administration to see whether any might be effective against the Zika virus.

Researchers at Florida State University, for example, just announced that a drug approved to treat tapeworms also appears to block the Zika virus from replicating in Petri dishes in the lab.

Fighting Mosquitoes Where They Live

While scientists scramble to vaccinate and treat, mosquito control officials are doing their utmost to tackle the virus at its source: the mosquitoes themselves. Traditional control techniques emphasize removing standing water, spraying pesticides and larvicides, and encouraging homeowners to keep screens on their doors and windows. That, along with the widespread use of air-conditioning, makes it much easier for developed countries like the United States to keep outbreaks contained. It’s much harder in more economically disadvantaged countries.

Another factor straining traditional control efforts is the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is primarily responsible for this global spread. A crafty creature, she is an aggressive daytime biter who prefers to live close to her favorite blood meal, humans. Over the centuries, she has adapted to urban environments, preferring stagnant water and small containers such as plastic cups, potted plants and discarded tires to lay her eggs.

Once you add that to her tendency to sneak up on victims, often biting on ankles and the back of elbows, you can see how easy it might be for her to feed without a life-threatening slap.

The Zika-infected female can lay an average of 150 eggs at once, scattering them among several sites to improve survival. If dry, the eggs can survive up to a year, says the World Health Organization, but once the wet season arrives, they immediately hatch. Studies show that some of those emerging babies carry the Zika virus, passed on from their mother, making them an immediate threat to any humans in their vicinity.

That’s the worry for Brazil and other South and Central American countries, currently experiencing a drop in Zika cases during the drier winter months. When the rains begin again this fall, those eggs will hatch, and cases could begin to rise, along with the associated risk to pregnant women and their undeveloped fetuses.

Zika’s Long March

In the meantime, Zika continues its travels, hitch hiking in travelers’ blood and via the occasional mosquito hidden in an industrial shipment of goods. Whether the virus will take hold in a country depends on the local environment and a country’s ability to combat the threat.

R.M. Hochella
Modern Health Perspectives

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Do You Have Yeast Infection (Candidiasis)?

Candidiasis can present a wide variety of symptoms, the exact combination and severity of which are unique to each individual case. Because candidiasis can manifest itself through many seemingly unrelated symptoms, the diagnosis is very often missed.


1. Allergies: to foods and/or airborne chemicals; particularly adult-onset allergies. The number of offending substances can keep increasing until an individual becomes so sensitive to the everyday environment that they must live in isolation.
2. Fatique: continual, but often more noticeable after eating.
3. Gastrointestinal: poor digestion (constipation or diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps, heartburn, nausea, gastritis, colitis, etc.)
4. Neurological: carbohydrate cravings, irritability, mood swings, headaches, migraines, “fogged-in” feeling, inability to concentrate/mind “wanders off”, poor memory, confusion, dizziness, M.S.-like symptoms (slurred speech, loss of muscle co-ordination, vision affected), depression and/or anxiety without apparent cause (often worse after eating), paranoia without apparent cause, not in total control of one’ actions (know right thing to do but unable to execute), mental incompetence (sometimes leading to institutionalization), a variety of other behavioral disturbances.
5. Genito-urinary: vaginal infections, menstrual difficulties, impotence, infertility, prostatitis, rectal itch, urinary tract infection/inflammation (urgency, burning).
6. Respiratory: compromised immune system (frequent colds, flus), hay fever, mucous congestion, postnasal drip, asthma, bronchitis, chest pain, frequent clearing of throat, habitual coughing (usually non-productive).
7. Skin: athlete’s foot, jock itch, skin rash, hives, dry brownish patches, psoriasis, ringworm, rough skin on sides of arms which gets worse at certain times of the month or under increased stress.
8. Symptoms resistant to all modes of therapy. The physician may conclude that patient is a hypochondriac and/or neurotic and may suggest tranquilizers, anti-depressants and/or psychiatric help.
9. Clinical history (early childhood): ADD, ADHD, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, SKIN problems (cradle cap, diaper rash, thrush), RESPERATORY problems (chronic ear infection, tonsillitis) or GI problems (colic).
10. Miscellaneous: cold extremities, arthritis-like symptoms, etc.

If you exhibit some combination of these symptoms, you may have candidiasis.

Predisposing Factors:

1. Destruction of the C. albicans natural control mechanism: Broad-spectrum antibiotics (e.g. tetracycline) destroy the healthful bacteria, which control the Candida population.
2. Weakening of host defense mechanisms: A number of factors can compromise the effectiveness of the immune system that is responsible for eradicating invaders such as Candida. Lowered immunity may result from steroid drugs and cancer chemotherapeutic agents, both of which are immunosuppressant. Prolonged illness, stress (all forms), alcohol abuse, smoking, lack of exercise, lack of rest and poor nutrition are also key factors which tend to weaken the immune system.
3. Female anatomy: Women are generally more susceptible to Candidiasis than men for several reasons:
a. Female hormonal levels are constantly fluctuating and sustained high levels of estrogen can occur. This condition tends to impair immune system function.
b. C. albicans growth is stimulated by the female hormone progesterone. Its levels are elevated during pregnancy and in the second half of each menstrual cycle. Synthetic progestins are found in oral contraceptives and also contribute to candida overgrowth.
c. The female anatomy lends itself to the ready migration of C. albicans from the rectum to the genito-urinary system. Vaginal yeast infections are a common result.
4. Poor diet establishes a breeding ground for Candida: The nutrient-poor, low-bulk, high-refined carbohydrate diets of most North Americans will, over a period of years, transform a healthy large intestine into a lifeless pipe caked with layers of encrusted fecal matter (the site of constant putrefaction, fermentation, rancidification, home for toxin-inducing pathogenic bacteria) and an excellent environment for the proliferation of the mycelial tentacles of Candida. (The high-refined carbohydrate diet also serves as a very desirable food for C. albicans which further entrenches it within the microscopic crevices of encrusted fecal matter.) The small intestine, housing a more fluid chyme, does not become so caked with old fecal matter as it does with mucus. This also encourages Candida proliferation.


A drugless approach that works independently of the host’s defense mechanisms is recommended by Modern Health Perspectives. An antifungal rotation to address the pleomorphic ability of the fungus (the fungus has adaptation capabilities); together with the cleansing and adsorbent benefits of the Bentonite and Psyllium is important. It’s also imperative to provide a good source of Acidophilus to replace the yeast overgrowth, together with special attention to diet.

R.M. Hochella
Modern Health Perspectives

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