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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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What people living with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) need to know

Black-and-white ketch of an eye with long lashes; tiny blue pills on the iris and a drug molecule on the pupil are the only source of color.
Black-and-white ketch of an eye with long lashes; tiny blue pills on the iris and a drug molecule on the pupil are the only source of color.
Illustration by Christi Williams for Elemental

“I couldn’t open or close my eyes without pain. It was like salt or shards of glass… all I could do was go to bed,” said 71-year-old Beth, who was diagnosed with age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in both eyes last year.

Beth is one of 11 million Americans — a number expected to double by 2050 — suffering from this leading cause of vision loss in the developed world. …


How exposure to misinformation inoculation sometimes makes things worse

Image: Cathy Scola/Getty Images

While on vacation, Marcial Conte, the Brazilian publisher of my first book, met a woman who asked about his work. Upon learning he was responsible for A Mentira do Glutén: E Outros Mitos Sobre O Que Voce Comê (The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat), she lit up.

Her husband, she said, had followed my revolutionary diet protocol and changed his life. Pounds melted away. Myriad health problems resolved themselves.

“She told me to thank you for saving her husband’s life with the ‘UNpacked Diet,’” Conte grinned at me. “Incredible, no? …


Why you might want to stop talking about your anxiety and try this instead

Photo of a woman putting her hand to her collarbone
Photo of a woman putting her hand to her collarbone
Photo: Kittiphan Teerawattanakul/EyeEm/Getty Images

Let’s back up 50,000 years or so. Imagine you’re a Neanderthal taking a leisurely stroll through the fields. Suddenly, in the nearby bushes, you hear a tiger. In a nanosecond, your entire body starts reacting. Your pulse quickens, your breathing gets shallow, your eyes dilate, your body starts producing adrenaline.

Everything happening in your body is good; you’re prepared to survive this tiger encounter. There’s just one small problem. It wasn’t a tiger. It was a tiny prehistoric weasel. …


How pharma weaseled its way into the bedroom and left us wanting

Animation: Julia Moburg/Medium; Source: Getty Images

Female sexual desire has always been suspended on a tricky societal tightrope. In the past, it was something to be repressed and undiscussed. Violate these norms — or just appear to — and the consequences were grim. Today, for many women, the pendulum has swung in the other direction: Wanting and having a lot of sex is frequently portrayed as an integral part of leading a healthy, balanced, modern life.

Despite these complex expectations, female sexuality remains under-researched and little-understood. This extends to common sexual issues, including a drop-off or complete disappearance of sexual desire, which most women experience at…


(L) Central Meadville, MS; (R) Mark Thornton, Franklin County emergency management director, at the courthouse in Meadville, Mississippi, on March 19, 2021. Photos: Annie Flanagan for Elemental

How rural areas could affect our Covid-19 immunity

Along a winding roadway festooned with lanky longleaf pines, a sign welcomes you to Meadville, Mississippi, population 519.

“Oh, we’re bigger than that,” says Cynthia Ann Wilkinson, a Mississippi State Extension agent, to the journalist who mentioned the sign in passing. Her co-worker and office associate, Suzanne Brown, intrigued and in disbelief, Googles the recent Census data. “It’s actually 604,” she says.

Meadville is the government seat of Franklin County, a 567-square-mile patch of rural America — one square mile for every 14 people. There are only two traffic lights here but more than two dozen churches. …


THE NUANCE

Why this time of year can trigger feelings of pleasure, pain, or a bit of both

Illustration: Kieran Blakey for Elemental

Spring is a season of rebirth and renewal. Flowers sprout, leaves bud, and the natural world wakes up from its long winter hibernation. Likewise, a lot of people feel rejuvenated as the days grow longer, sunnier, and warmer.

But for some, the transition from winter to spring can be a rocky one. …


There are plenty of people whose health can’t afford a daily drink

Photo: Lisa Schaetzle/Getty Images

I am an alcoholic in recovery.

Before I quit drinking five years ago, I meandered through a slippery contemplation phase for several years. I knew I had a problem, but the perceived relief I got from drinking outweighed my desire to do something about my addiction. Instead, I tried to follow the safe drinking guidelines as a way to manage my relationship with alcohol.

Safe drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Moderate weekly drinking would then be less than seven drinks…


Our excitement with getting back to normal can’t cover up how strange the journey back there will be

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

I’m writing weekly for Medium about my experiences as an emergency medicine doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read my previous posts on vaccine inequities, the variants, and more, here.

The summer is starting to look spectacular. The White House recently announced the U.S. will have enough vaccines by the end of May to inoculate every American adult. By the Fourth of July, we should be able to start celebrating our independence from Covid-19.

It’s about time. We’ve all had our fill of Zoom meetings, classes, and weddings. …


What’s more, they’re looking to eradicate infectious diseases entirely

Photo: Fiordaliso/Getty Images

“Unless we’re screened for coronaviruses and then shot out into space, leaving all other animals and nature behind, we’re going to have coronaviruses.” So says Benjamin Neuman, PhD, chief virologist at Texas A&M’s Global Health Research Complex. Neuman is no stranger to coronaviruses — he has been working with them for decades. His expertise even landed him a spot on the international committee that named SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. SARS-CoV-2 is the most recent member of the coronavirus family, which also includes the viruses that caused the SARS and MERS outbreaks.

The world’s changing climate and growing population…


YOUR POOR PANDEMIC BRAIN

Your executive control center has helped your mental health survive the pandemic thus far. Here’s how to strengthen it for the future.

Illustration: Carolyn Figel

A lot has been written (including by this reporter) about the mental health toll of the pandemic, and for good reason. The latest numbers from the National Pulse Survey, a weekly mental health screen conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, estimate that nearly 40% of Americans are currently experiencing symptoms of either anxiety or depression, a 50% increase over pre-pandemic times.

In some ways, though, it’s surprising that this number isn’t even higher given the stress, trauma, loss, and loneliness of the past year. The vast majority of people have spent the last…

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