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The top five questions men ask about infertility

The top five questions men ask about infertility

Infertility is often attributed to the female partner. Many do not realise that the male partner contributes equally to the problem.

In my daily fertility clinic, couples ask a variety of fertility questions. Today, I would like to share some of the more common male infertility questions that come up.

I can ejaculate regularly during sex, can I still be infertile?

The answer is yes.

Your semen or ejaculate comprises a mixture of fluids from the seminal vesicles and prostate, as well as the sperm cells.

Sperm cells, which are produced in the testicles, travel through a tube called the vas deferens and mix with fluids from the seminal vesicles and prostate before being ejaculated.

Thus, the presence of semen does not equate to the presence of sperm cells.

Semen can be of normal volume and consistency even without the presence of sperm cells.

Do I have a low sperm count because my semen volume is low?

This is another common misconception. Semen volume does not correlate to the sperm cell concentration in your semen.

Semen volume can be low for various other reasons.

It can be as simple as a short abstinence period before the sperm test or incomplete ejaculation to more serious reasons like retrograde ejaculation and ejaculatory duct obstruction.

Even in a man with low semen volume, the sperm concentration can still be within normal range, i.e. more than 15 million sperm in each millilitre (ml) of semen.

My erection is weak, can I be infertile?

This is a very common question and I can understand why.

A poor erection can directly lead to “infertility” due to the inability to deposit semen in the vagina.

Thus, it is natural for every man to assume that a poor erection leads to infertility.

This is a false alarm.

If erectile dysfunction (ED) is the main issue, there are simple fertility treatments such as intravaginal sperm insemination (IVI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI), that can overcome the issue of semen deposition into the vagina or the womb.

However, I urge men to seek the consultation of a fertility specialist or an urologist to find the root cause of their erection issue.

While fertility treatment can give them an immediate solution to getting pregnant, the couple needs to find a long-term solution that will enable them to get pregnant naturally in future, if they so wish.

I was diagnosed with azoospermia, what can I do?

Azoospermia (no sperm cells seen in the ejaculate or semen) is not the end of the world.

The first step is to see a male infertility doctor, in order to determine the most likely cause for the azoospermia.

This could be due to either a problem with sperm production or a blockage of sperm transport.

Most of the time, the cause is more likely to be related to a problem with production, rather than blockage.

In this situation, several blood tests will be done to assess your sperm production capability, together with assessment of your testicle size. In some situation, a testicular ultrasound will be done.

Hormonal treatment can be started for a few months to stimulate sperm production.

If this fails, a minor surgery is needed to retrieve sperm from the testicles. This procedure is known as surgical sperm retrieval.

Besides hormonal treatment, supplements to improve both quantity and quality of sperm will be recommended.

Once sperm cells are obtained, either via ejaculation or surgery, assisted reproductive techniques can be used to make the couple pregnant.

Is IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) the only treatment in male infertility?

In most cases, the answer is yes. This is because, even if hormonal treatment works, the amount of sperm found is usually minimal.

Furthermore, the effect of hormonal treatment may not last forever. Thus, IVF treatment is more appropriate.

However, there are men with azoospermia who, with hormonal treatment, manage to make enough sperm and successfully became parents with IUI.

Therefore, the treatment options are determined based on the amount of sperm cells available, taking into account the couple’s fertility history.

These are some of the most common questions asked in my male fertility clinic.

My advise to couples diagnosed with male infertility is to come forward earlier, rather than later, to seek help.

Female partners play an important role in supporting their male partners to go through this challenging journey towards parenthood.

Dr Agilan Arjunan is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, and fertility specialist. For more information, e-mail starhealth@thestar.com.my.
Are you always fighting over the office temperature?

Are you always fighting over the office temperature?

What’s the perfect office temperature? Everyone you ask will have a different answer.

For some people, an office climate bordering on frosty is ideal; for others, anything below subtropical necessitates a blanket, fingerless gloves and an illicit space heater.

There’s no one thermostat setting that will make everyone happy. But in a new study, University of Southern California (USC) researchers in the United States offer the temperature that facilitates optimal productivity.

In a study published in the journal Plos One in June 2019, Tom Y. Chang, an associate professor of finance and business economics at the USC Marshall School of Business, and his team looked at how male and female students performed on math, verbal and cognitive tasks at temperatures ranging from 61°F (16ºC) to 91°F (33ºC).

The findings: Women performed better at temperatures between 70°F (21ºC) and 80°F (27ºC), whereas men performed better at temperatures below 70°F (21ºC).

However, women were more negatively impacted by colder temperatures than men were by warmer ones.

So, if an office manager is looking to maximise workplace productivity, where should the thermostat needle land?

“I’m cringing a little bit to say this,” Assoc Prof Chang said. “Seventy-five degrees (Fahrenheit, 24ºC) to me is boiling. That’s hot. I’m very warm at 75.

“But in a gender-balanced office environment, our results suggest that something like 75 degrees might be the optimal temperature to have for optimal productivity.”

This is not the first time the office thermostat battle has made headlines.

A 2015 study published in the journal Nature indicated office temperatures are generally set based on an empirical thermal comfort model from the 1960s, when the workforce was much more predominantly male.

In other words: Offices tend to be climate-controlled to men’s preferences, which we now know comes at the expense of women’s comfort and productivity.

A rash of articles about how the office AC is sexist followed, along with a College Humor video cataloging the very real ordeal of “women’s winter” in workplaces across America.

In rebuttals, the argument was made that this was a dress-code issue, not a thermostat one: Men traditionally wear suits to work, while women’s workwear tends to be lighter and more adaptable to the weather.

But without meaning to, this new study controlled for that – Assoc Prof Chang said that study participants were students, the vast majority of whom were dressed in weather-appropriate casual clothing.

So, even when you control for the dress code, men and women still have different temperature preferences.

The results came as a surprise to Alison Green, author of the advice site Ask a Manager, who’s received a number of letters over the years asking her to weigh in on the thermostat wars.

She said in the past, her advice has been to err on the side of chilly: It’s easier to put more clothes on and warm up than it is to remove them and cool down in a professional environment.

But hearing the results of the USC study, “now I’m questioning my advice,” she said, “especially given the gender divide on this.”

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have a firm ruling on office temperatures: It advises workplaces to be between 68°F (20ºC) and 76°F (24ºC), a fairly wide range.

Assuming your workplace isn’t dangerously hot or cold – if your employees are risking frostbite or heat stroke, then obviously, changes need to be made – Green said managers have some options for helping people acclimate to the indoor climate.

Try to allow space heaters or fans if it’s safe to do so, she said, and loosen up on the dress code when people are trying to stay comfortable at work.

Another option is to rearrange seating, so that the coldest person in the office isn’t positioned directly under a roaring AC vent, and the warmest isn’t baking next to your sunniest window.

In general, she said, as offices across the workforce relax dress-code standards, more people should be able to find clothing options so that they can focus more on work and less on the mercury wars.

In the meantime, science says to set the thermostat in the mid-70s (around 24ºC). – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

23 ‘facts’ you learned about healthy eating and nutrition as a kid that are no longer true

23 ‘facts’ you learned about healthy eating and nutrition as a kid that are no longer true

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Here are three of the biggest lies about nutrition I was fed as a kid:

Low-fat foods are always better for you than high-fat options. Drinking more milk makes your bones stronger. And you’re only properly hydrated once your pee comes out clear.

Nope, nope, and nope.

I didn’t know this at the time, but some of the “facts” about healthy eating that I absorbed as a youngster were clever marketing tactics dressed up as expert guidance about what to eat. Other pieces of advice have since been debunked by scientific research.

Here are a few dozen nutrition myths many of us were told as tots that simply aren’t true.


MYTH: Low-fat products are better for your waistline than high-fat versions of the same foods.

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Reuters/Ho New

It may seem counterintuitive, but eating less fat can actually make your body fatter.

“Fat consumption does not cause weight gain,” doctor Aaron Carroll wrote in his book “The Bad Food Bible.” “To the contrary, it might actually help us shed a few pounds.”

This is because people who skimp on fat (something our bodies need to function properly) are more likely to fill up on sugar and refined carbohydrates instead, and that can lead to measurable weight gain over time. Studies of people around the globe show this to be true time and again.

Fat molecules help our body’s cells stay healthy, and they aid us in absorbing nutrients in the other foods we eat. So if you prefer whole milk to skim, there’s no reason to feel guilty about that.


MYTH: You should “refuel” with electrolytes after a workout.

Sorry, Gatorade-lovers, but electrolytes and performance drinks don’t do anything special for your body.

“Athletes who lose the most body mass during marathons, ultramarathons, and Ironman triathlons are usually the most successful, which suggests that fluid losses are not as tightly linked to performance as sports drink makers claim,” science journalist Christie Aschwanden writes in her 2019 book, “Good to go: What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery.”

Aschwanden explains that your brain is perfectly capable of regulating electrolytes like salt in the body on its own.

“You need enough fluid and electrolytes in your blood for your cells to function properly, and this balance is tightly regulated by a feedback loop,” she said.


MYTH: Your pee should be clear, and you should drink eight glasses of water per day.

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Shutterstock/D. Hammonds

If your pee is clear, you’ll probably need to find a toilet soon, because you’re over-hydrated.

The truth is, the body has a “thirst center” in the brain that helps regulate how much fluid we need, and it’s impressively tuned (though it tends to become less effective as we move into old age). So the most important way to stay hydrated is to listen to your thirst and drink when you feel like it.

Don’t ignore itchings for water or confuse them with hunger, and you’ll generally be fine. And don’t worry too much about the color of your urine, either. A light yellow or straw-like color can indicate you’re well hydrated, but darker urine isn’t necessarily a reason to panic.

“Dark pee might mean that you’re running low on fluid, but it could also mean that your kidneys are keeping your plasma osmolality in check by conserving water,” Aschwanden said.


MYTH: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

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Tella Chen/flickr

Some cereal companies have made a lot of cash off that catchy phrase.

“Many – if not most – studies demonstrating that breakfast eaters are healthier and manage weight better than non-breakfast eaters were sponsored by Kellogg or other breakfast cereal companies whose businesses depend on people believing that breakfast means ready-to-eat cereal,” nutrition expert Marion Nestle wrote on her Food Politics blog in 2015. “Independently-funded studies tend to show that any eating pattern can promote health if it provides vegetables and fruits, balances calories, and does not include much junk food.”

Nestle keeps her own breakfast advice short and sweet: “If you wake up starving, by all means eat an early breakfast. If not, eat when you are hungry and don’t worry about it.”

In fact, studies have shown that people who work out in the morning on an empty stomach can burn up to 20% more body fat during their workouts.

Of course, studies still pop up suggesting that skipping breakfast is linked with early death. But personal trainer Max Lowery recently told Insider that such research may not consider every factor.

“People who are more health-conscious overall tend to eat breakfast because they are following health guidelines,” Lowery pointed out, “whereas people who skip breakfast are usually unhealthier overall because they are ignoring guidelines”

Still, nutritionists often suggest eating something in the first two to three waking hours of the day to avoid getting cranky and hangry.


MYTH: Cereal is a great breakfast food.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Most cereals are ultra-processed. That means they’re infused with preservatives, packaged in plastic bags, and sprinkled with sugar.

Scientists are beginning to zero in on the dangers of processed foods like this: People who rely on these types of convenience foods tend to eat more (about 500 extra calories a day) and gain more weight than people who stick to unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, and other edible plants.

Instead of starting the day with cereal, many dietitians and nutrition experts suggest having a cup of plain Greek yogurt topped with nuts and berries. That will give your body healthy fats, protein, and fiber to keep you full.


MYTH: 100% real fruit juice is a healthy choice.

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Flickr/cjtrigg

Scientists recently looked at the health records of more than 13,400 US adults, and concluded that each additional 12-ounce serving of juice people drank per day was associated with a 24% higher risk of death.

Nutrition experts who study sugary drinks were not surprised by this result, because the way our bodies process the sugar in fruit juice is almost identical to the way we take in sugar from a can of soda. Juice just doesn’t satisfy our bellies like a piece of fibrous fruit does.

“It’s basically sugar and water, and no protein or fat to counteract that metabolism,” Jean Welsh, a nutrition professor at Emory University, previously told Business Insider.

In the same vein, smoothies – which are often loaded with sugar and may not contain all the fiber available in whole fruits – are not a health food, either.


MYTH: Snacking is healthy.

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Shutterstock/David Orcea

Snacking can be a healthful habit, since it keeps people from overeating at meals. But research shows that inserting snacks into your daily routine isn’t necessarily better for your health than eating three square meals a day.

Besides, many readily available snack foods aren’t very good for us, since they are often ultra-processed and high in sugar, so are linked with weight gain and more cancer cases.

“When you eat real, wholesome, healthy foods, you feel full sooner,” Ocean Robbins, grandson of ice cream magnate Irvine Robins (a Baskin-Robbins co-founder) recently told Business Insider. “Your body feels nourished. You actually have the nutrients you need and in time you can have less cravings.”


MYTH: Fasting is bad for your health.

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Clancy Morgan/Business Insider

Taking an occasional break from eating is becoming a popular Silicon Valley trend, and there’s a surprising amount of evidence supporting it.

Intermittent fasting can help people ward off diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. The practice can also boost the production of a protein that strengthens connections in the brain and can serve as an antidepressant. Scientists even think fasting can lengthen our lifespans by keeping cells healthy and youthful longer.

In general, it’s good to give your gut a break for at least 12 hours a day, biologist and circadian rhythm researcher Satchidananda Panda told the New York Times in 2015.

Just don’t overdo it.


MYTH: You’re probably not getting enough protein.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Just because something has lots of protein doesn’t make it healthy.

“Most Americans get more than enough protein from their diet,” public-health experts at the University of California, Berkeley wrote recently in Berkeley Wellness. (Adults over 65 are a notable exception to that rule, though.)

A long-term study of over 131,300 people in the US found that the more animal protein people ate, the more likely they were to die of a heart attack, suggesting that it may be best to favor plant proteins like those from nuts and beans, rather than relying on meat.


MYTH: The food pyramid should be your go-to guide.

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USDA

Let’s get one thing straight: This is a picture of a food triangle on the side of a pyramid.

The “pyramid” above was released by the USDA in 1992, and it suggests there is one ideal strategy for healthy eating that everyone can follow. That strategy, it suggested, was to load up on breads and pastas, eat ample servings of fruits and vegetables (three to five per day), and round out one’s diet with some dairy and protein from sources like meats, nuts, and beans.

But researchers are discovering in study after study that what works for one person may not be right for everyone else. Different bodies respond differently to ingested fats and carbohydrates, so a stable energy source for one person could lead another’s blood sugar to skyrocket then crash.

Nutrition experts generally agree, however, that everyone can benefit from eating more unprocessed foods, like leafy greens, seafood, nuts, and brown rice, while cutting out the processed white bread and crackers found on the bottom of this triangle.


MYTH: Carob chips are healthier than chocolate.

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A chocolatier in the Ivory Coast explains how cocoa is processed into chocolate.
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Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images

Health-conscious dessert-lovers for years bought carob chips instead of chocolate. Carob is made from the dried fruit of Mediterranean carob trees (whereas chocolate comes from cacao). But they might have been better off sticking to chocolate.

“No offense to carob, but it doesn’t taste as good as chocolate,” Robbins said. “It turns out that chocolate’s actually better for you – it’s good for your heart and it’s good for your brain.”

That doesn’t mean you should eat candy bars. But a bit of dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher) here and there could help improve blood flow and protect the heart.

Scientists have found no real link between chocolate consumption and acne breakouts, either.


MYTH: Yogurt is always a healthy choice.

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Getty Images/Joe Raedle

Most prepackaged yogurts in the dairy case are packed with sugar.

If you like yogurt, find a plain one; you can always sprinkle nuts, seeds, berries, or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg on top for flavor.


MYTH: Margarine is better for you than butter, and all oil is bad.

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Business Insider Video

Margarine was a darling toast-topper during the low-fat craze of the 1990s. Made from plant oils like palm oil, canola oil, and soybeans, it was marketed as a “healthier” alternative to animal fats.

But margarine used to include trans fat. Harvard researchers estimate that during the heyday of artificial trans fats in the 1990s, their presence in our food supply led to roughly 50,000 preventable deaths every year in the US. The FDA rolled out a near-universal ban on artificial trans fats in 2018, and most margarines today are trans-fat free.

But butter alternatives are highly processed, and vegetable oils that are lab-heated to prevent spoilage, like those in margarine, can be serious drivers of disease. Often, a key ingredient in margarine is palm oil, which is not nearly as good for our hearts as monounsaturated fats that are in a liquid state at room temperature, like olive oil. Monounsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels and keep our immune systems humming with Vitamin E, making them a healthier choice.


MYTH: Ditch cholesterol-heavy egg yolks and only eat the whites.

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Shanti May / Shutterstock

For most people, there’s no evidence that the cholesterol in eggs translates to higher blood cholesterol.

There is a lot of cholesterol in a chicken egg yolk: more than 180 milligrams, over half our daily recommended dose. But that doesn’t mean we should be wary of a yellow morning omelette.

“Actually, there’s never been a single study that showed higher egg consumption is related to higher risk of heart disease,” Harvard nutrition researcher Walter Willett told The Cut in 2015.


MYTH: You should eat as few carbs as possible.

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France fans enjoy the atmosphere prior to the 2014 World Cup match between Ecuador and France on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Julian Finney/Getty Images

Not all carbohydrates are bad.

Quinoa, bananas, apples, beans, and carrots are all relatively high-carb foods, and studies repeatedly show that people who eat a wide variety of these foods, in addition to whole grains, tend to have trimmer waistlines and lower blood-pressure levels.

It’s true, however, that once grains are stripped of their protein-hefty bran and germ, they’re not great at providing key nutrients or satiating us for hours after we eat. That’s why it’s still a good idea to avoid refined carbs, which are used to make items like cookies and white bread.


MYTH: Counting calories is a good weight-loss strategy.

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Shutterstock/Alan Bailey

A calorie is a calorie, right? Wrong.

Nutritionists increasingly urge people to evaluate foods holistically, rather than based on individual nutrients or calorie counts.

Take avocados, for example. A cup has 234 calories and 14 grams of monounsaturated fat, along with smaller doses of polyunsaturated (2.7 g) and saturated fat (3.1 g). But an avocado also provides good doses of fiber, protein, and potassium,which can help maintain healthy blood-pressure levels. No one would suggest you’d get the same health benefits or stay as full after eating 234 calories’ worth of potato chips (that’d be about 25 chips).

Recent studies have shown that plants are the best choice for our health, and consuming more processed foods – even with the exact same amount of calories on offer – can lead to weight gain.


MYTH: Orange juice will help you get over a cold.

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A vendor sells orange juice during the holy month of Ramadan at a market area in Amman, Jordan on May 8, 2019.
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REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Orange juice is high in Vitamin C, which helps keep our immune systems strong.

But that doesn’t mean that a glass of OJ will fight a cold you already have, or even that it will make your cold go away more quickly. Instead, try sucking on a zinc lozenge – some studies suggest that taking zinc can lead some people’s colds to end quicker.


MYTH: Getting nutrients from vitamins is the same as eating them in foods, so a multivitamin a day keeps the doctor away.

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Shutterstock

Scientists have tested the effects of multivitamins again and again, but they just haven’t found good evidence of any real benefits for our health.

“Show me a single study ever done saying people who took a multivitamin pill … did better. There’s no study,” Ajay Goel, a biophysicist who researches cancer, recently told Business Insider.

The US Preventative Services Task Force does not recommend that people take vitamins or supplements as a preventive measure for heart disease or cancer, the leading causes of death in the US. In fact, there’s evidence that supplements can do more harm than good.

“Extra vitamin A supplements can lead to dangerous, toxic levels if taken too frequently,” Dr. Clifford Lo, associate professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health said in a blog post.

Try getting important vitamins and minerals from fresh fruits and vegetables.


MYTH: Salt is bad for you.

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LoggaWiggler/Pixabay

There isn’t any compelling evidence that salt on its own raises blood pressure or contributes to more heart attacks or death.

It may be the case that people who eat a lot of salt are at risk of developing health problems for a host of other reasons, mostly because their diets and lifestyles are less healthy overall. For example, salt is a great preservative, which means there is a lot of it in processed food, which we know is not good for us.


MYTH: Eating carrots helps you see better.

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Flickr/swong95765

This piece of false information may have originated in WWII, according to Snopes, when Britain pretended that its bomber pilots had freakishly good, carrot-fueled eyesight instead of admitting to using radar to track Nazis.

Carrots are good for eye health, but they cannot help you see better than you already do. Carrots are rich in chemicals called carotenoids, as are spinach, kale, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. Our bodies convert these chemicals from plants into nutrients like vitamin A, which is essential for developing healthy embryos, keeping tissues healthy, and ensuring the immune system functions properly. People who have diets rich in the carotenoid beta carotene, for example, have lower instances of cervical cancer and slight reductions in breast cancer risk.

To keep eyes healthy as we age, researchers who study macular degeneration suggest eating a variety of plants rich in Vitamin C, E, zinc, omega-3’s, and other nutrients. In addition to carrots, that list includes fish, broccoli, nuts, and berries.


MYTH: Coffee is dangerous for your health.

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Reuters

For decades, researchers have been investigating whether coffee drinking is bad for our health. Overwhelmingly, the answer is no.

A wealth of scientific studies suggest that drinking coffee can help people live long lives. Perhaps the best evidence for this comes from two giant studies: one of more than 400,000 people in the US and another of more than 500,000 Europeans. Both studies found that regular coffee drinkers were less likely to die from any cause than people who don’t sip a daily cup of joe.

Other research has even suggested that drinking somewhere in the neighborhood of four cups of coffee per day may be the best dose for aging hearts.

But coffee is not the perfect drink.

“For some people it is unhelpful, because it makes them jittery, and they get addicted to it, and they get headaches if they don’t drink a lot of it,” Robbins said. “And I think our society is a little high-strung sometimes.”


MYTH: Diet soda is fine.

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Shutterstock

Zero calories! No problem then, right?

Diet soda can be a good way to wean yourself off of sugary beverages, but scientists still aren’t sure that it’s a harm-free choice. A recent 34-year study of more than 118,000 men and women across the US found that diet soda and sugar substitutes may not be much better for our bodies than sugary beverages when consumed in large doses.

“Diet soda may be used to help frequent consumers of sugary drinks cut back their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice,” Vasanti Malik, the study’s lead author and a research scientist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a release.

Malik found that women who drank four or more artificially sweetened beverages per day significantly upped their risk of death (the finding didn’t hold true for men, though). The researchers think the explanation for an observed link between diet drinks and death may just be that people who are already overweight drink more diet beverages. But more research is needed.


MYTH: You need to drink a lot of milk to prevent osteoporosis.

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Got Milk?

Got milk? This was a clever piece of advertising drummed up by the California Milk Processor Board in the 1990s to fight declining milk sales.

Milk-mustached celebrities suggested to us for years that there’s something special about the calcium in milk that helps our bones stay strong. But there’s really no evidence to suggest that milk has advantages over other calcium-rich foods like leafy greens and legumes.

We do need calcium to build strong bones, and there is a good dose of it available in dairy; but we also need Vitamins D and K for adequate bone health. Besides, heavy milk drinkers do not appear to be any less susceptible to bone fractures.

These VSOPs (Very Strong Old Persons) are ageing gracefully by keeping active

These VSOPs (Very Strong Old Persons) are ageing gracefully by keeping active

By FOONG PEK FOONG

I would like to honour fathers and grandfathers who, despite their advanced age, are still active and continue to make every day an adventure.

They may be a little slower, stiffer and more forgetful, yet they have made adjustments to their lifestyles to keep up with the changing times. From learning new skills to starting new activities, to developing new hobbies, these men just do whatever it takes to get on in life and live life to the fullest.

Foong Yoke Thong (born 1926)
A month shy of his 93rd birthday, my dad is still going strong and has full control of his mental facilities. Living in the city centre, he walks at least 2km each day to nearby malls for meals, shopping and daily essentials.

Highly methodical, he believes that there is a proper way to do everything, taking his time to do things well. He is blessed with infinite patience and that, I believe, is the key to his longevity. He continues to impart this teaching to his four daughters, even today.

Old man

Foong Yoke Thong is still going strong and has full control of his mental facilities.

Indulging in his hobbies is another contributing factor. His lifelong passion for First Day Covers involves going to the Post Office to first buy the Covers, and then carefully stamping them. Though he has retired from working life, he has not been “pensioned off” as the home handyman and pest controller.

Mentally, he is still active, reading newspapers and doing crossword puzzles. He also diligently cuts out interesting or funny stories to share with his four grandkids. For their birthdays, he would go to Chinatown in search of creative toys as presents, much to the children’s delight.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Foong Yoke Mun (born 1935)

My dad’s younger brother, 84, also leads an active life of mountain climbing, hashing, road running and Towerthon races.

When he was 71, he took just eight minutes to climb 22 floors of Menara MPBJ as part of the 24-hour Towerthon event. He did the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk at 73, white water rafting at 74, and sky diving just before he turned 80.

For his 80th birthday, he had wanted to conquer Mount Kinabalu for the third time, but the earthquake struck. Another disappointment was a hike to Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal in December, which he had to abandon due to extreme cold.

In between checking items off his bucket list, he keeps busy pottering around the garden and rearing fish, starting each day with a 5km walk. He has four children and two grandchildren.

Hashing grandpas

Teh Kan Tong (born 1937)

Fondly known as Uncle Teh, this self-employed professional electrical engineer has been a member of RLC Harriers for the last 20 years. He makes it a point to attend the weekly Tuesday hash runs, never takes shortcuts and completes the full course at walking pace, with his wife Margaret.

Old man

Big stride for Teh Kan Tong, a self-employed professional electrical engineer who has been a member of RLC Harriers for the last 20 years.

For Uncle Teh, life is about enjoying what he does, at his own pace. A typical day for this 82-year old starts with Qi Gong before attending to business matters from 10am.

Twice a year, he joins hiking tours overseas, which includes half-day hikes, in addition to the usual sightseeing.
Uncle Teh is blessed with two sons and a granddaughter.

Bob Yong (born 1938)

Old man

A retired Chartered Insurer, Bob Yong is a member of two hash chapters.

A retired Chartered Insurer, Bob Yong is a member of two hash chapters that run on Tuesdays and Fridays. Armed with a camcorder, Bob does a live recording of the trail and his fellow hashers, posting the videos on FB, YouTube and his personal blog.

For a non-millennial, Bob boldly embraced and successfully navigated the not-so-scary waters of digital technology, 11 years ago. Self-taught via online tutorials, he spends hours letting his creativity and imagination run wild when editing videos and doing song recordings.

Living by the motto “Passion conquers everything”, Bob’s zest for life saw him putting on a pirate costume for a themed event. His other passions include badminton, swimming, ballroom dancing and karaoke. Since 2003, he has been participating in karaoke competitions at inter-club and in-house levels.

He has two daughters and three grandchildren.

Tim Moey (born 1939)

He may have started hashing only at 60, but Tim Moey has definitely made up for lost time.

While in government service as a tax practitioner, he played mostly golf. Later, while attached to the private sector, he took up tennis and ballroom dancing.

Since joining hash, Tim has been enjoying nature while discovering off-the-beaten-track run sites in and around KL. As his fitness improved, running and hiking were added to the mix, opening up more newer and richer experiences.

Now 80, Tim is living testament that it’s never too late to start a new activity. To keep his mind active, he plays Sudoku on his iPad.

He has a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

Old man

Since joining hash 20 years ago, Tim Moey, now 80, has been enjoying nature while discovering off-the-beaten-track run sites in and around KL.

The New York Times’ crosswords group wanted to reach non-native English speakers. The result is the free ‘Tiles’ game and it’s catching on

The New York Times’ crosswords group wanted to reach non-native English speakers. The result is the free ‘Tiles’ game and it’s catching on

Tiles patterns are named after cities. Left to right:

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Tiles patterns are named after cities. Left to right: “Kuala Lumpur,” “Lisbon,” and “New Haven.”
source
The New York Times
  • The New York Times rolled out Tiles, its first game without words, on Monday.
  • The color and pattern matching game has “tilesets” named after cities around the globe.
  • “One additional strategy around launching Tiles is to reach users who may not be native English-language speakers,” The Times wrote in its Tiles press release.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The New York Times released its first word-free game on Monday. It’s called Tiles.

Tiles is a color and pattern matching game with tilesets – grids of patterned squares – that challenges players to select the longest possible sequence of tile pairs with shared elements, like this:

viaGIPHY

The game has different tilesets named after cities across the world. The “Kuala Lumpur” tileset pattern in pink and green is inspired by Peranakan tiles found in Malaysia and Singapore. “Lisbon” is a tessellation-like tileset of yellow and blue based on Parisian and Portuguese tiles. “New Haven,” a color-block tileset, is based on the artwork of Josef Albers, a painter and color-theorist who taught at Yale. “Austin” in brown and mauve is inspired by 70s interior design and Op artist Bridget Riley. “Hong Kong,” is inspired by blue and white Mahjong tiles.

Tiles pattern

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Tiles pattern “Hong Kong”
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The New York Times

“Besides drawing inspiration from different visual styles and cultures, our tilesets also play around with different aspects of visual recognition and pattern matching,” said Robert Vinluan, design technologist at the Times. “All the elements in the Hong Kong tileset are the same color, so you have to distinguish between different shapes and lines. The opposite is true of the New Haven palette, where everything is the same shape but you have to perceive differences in color.”

The game is a free, but being a paid-subscriber to the New York Times crossword yields more settings. Non-subscribers are served a different pattern each day and get just six rounds of the game. Subscribers get access to “Zen Mode,” which allows users to pick their tileset and have unlimited plays.

The Times’ puzzle team was driven to create a game that is both accessible and serene.

“One additional strategy around launching Tiles is to reach users who may not be native English-language speakers,” The Times wrote in its Tiles press release.

A zen game was the request of users, according to The Times Games Expansions team.” The team “noticed that users were writing in late at night asking the company for a game that would help them zone out,” according to AdWeek.

Sam Von Ehren, a game designer leading the Game Expansions team, says in creating Tiles, the team hoped to both “include more people” and give folks “an escape from the news.”

“The crossword can sometimes feel really challenging – and that’s what the appeal of it is – but here we’re trying to welcome more people in” Von Ehren said.

In the few days since it became available, Tiles has won over some devotees.

You can play the game on your computer or phone by going to this special section of NYT website.

Tiles pattern

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Tiles pattern “Austin”
source
The New York Times
1,400 people have died so far in the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history

1,400 people have died so far in the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history

A doctor wearing protective clothing.

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A doctor wearing protective clothing.
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Getty Images/John Moore
  • 1,400 people have died from the current outbreak of Ebola in Central Africa.
  • There have been 2,100 cases so far in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
  • Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, said the outbreak was “truly frightening” and shows “no sign of stopping any time soon.”
  • However, the Wellcome Trust and the UN have not declared it an international emergency.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The Ebola virus epidemic in Western Africa was the most widespread outbreak of the disease in history, killing over 11,000 people and spreading to ten countries, including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain, and the United States.

On June 14, the World Health Organization released a statement declaring another Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda is a health emergency in the region, but does not meet the criteria of an international emergency. The UN also declared the outbreak is not yet a global emergency but it is “an extraordinary event” of deep concern.

However, officials are concerned about the spread of the disease, and the fact there isn’t sufficient money to fight it.

“The Committee is deeply disappointed that WHO and the affected countries have not received the funding and resources needed for this outbreak,” the WHO statement says. “The international community must step up funding and support strengthening of preparedness and response in DRC and neighboring countries.”

Read more: Why Ebola Is Such A Uniquely Terrible Virus

So far, there have been up to 2,100 cases of Ebola in this recent outbreak, and 1,400 people have died.

Jeremy Farrar, the director of the Wellcome Trust, said it was “truly frightening” and shows “no sign of stopping any time soon.”

“If I look back to a similar time in West Africa in 2014, prime ministers and presidents were talking about Ebola,” he said, according to ScienceMag. “Frankly, that has not happened in this outbreak.”

Since the virus spread to Uganda, nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 health centers and clinics have been vaccinated, according to the Guardian.

“There are now more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history bar the west Africa epidemic of 2013-16, and there can be no doubt that the situation is escalating towards those terrible levels,” said Farrar in a statement. “We urgently need a change in response to help stop Ebola spreading and save lives.”

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