project WORLDVIEW  choice info         copyright 2022               Home         

Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #21

Worldview Theme #28A: Hedonistic Orientation               Worldview Theme #28B: Healthy Orientation

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: epicurean, gourmet, playboys and playgirls, recreational drug use, victimless crimes 

for a summary read these 5 entries in order: preventive medicine, nutrition, cardiovascular disease prevention, cancer prevention, mind / body connection

alternative hedonism—inspired by London economist Kate Soper’s 2017 lengthy article “A New Hedonism: A Post-Consumerism Vision”, in her words this provides “a more sustainable and more sensually, spiritually, and aesthetically rewarding way of living” than wasteful, throw away consumerism does.  Alternative hedonists find enjoyment—not in having material possessions—but in experiences and socially just / eco-benign consumption   Getting beyond a “more is better mentality,” they don’t have to work as much, since they aren’t paying for things they don’t need. So they have more freedom, more time for family and personal relationships, more opportunity for civic engagement, etc. They find pleasure in helping people, giving back, teaching, celebrating with friends / music, enjoying nature, hiking, holding hands, love-making.  And simply enjoying that they have time to stop and smell the flowers.  They don’t measure success by how much money you have, the size of your house, the car you drive, a prestigious job title, etc. They don’t equate money and property with pleasure, happiness, and well-being.

AIDS--caused by the HIV virus transmitted sexually, via blood transfusion, by hypodermic needles, or passed between mother and infant, it devastates the immune system.  In 2018 around 38 million people worldwide (particularly in Africa) were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.  While there is no cure or vaccine, increasingly drugs can manage the symptoms.

air pollution--refers to contaminants (chiefly chemical and particulate) that human activities directly or indirectly add to the atmosphere that makes it unhealthy for humans and living things.  Burning of fossil fuels--particularly for transportation--is a major source of such pollution.  While big city smog is an obvious manifestation of local air pollution problems, it also produces regional acid rain and ozone depletion problems, and global climate change.  Besides causing and aggravating respiratory problems, air pollution annually kills 2.4 million people worldwide according to World Health Organization estimates.  Some of these deaths can be attributed to indoor air pollution, caused by cigarette smoke, outgassing from building materials, cancer causing radon gas entering through foundations, etc.

alternative medicine—refers to medical treatments used in place of western conventional ones.  Included here are chiropractic, herbal, naturopathic, homeopathic, Indian / Middle Eastern  (Ayurveda and Unani) and Chinese / Eastern medical treatments.  Use of such medicine in the west is growing—recent surveys suggest that 20% to 40% of British and American adults have turned to alternative medicine in past years. If prayer and faith healing are counted as alternative medical treatments, that higher end of usage rises to around 60%.  While some alternative practices are viewed by mainstream doctors as quack medicine, other alternatives (like acupuncture) are slowly gaining acceptance and seem poised to move into the mainstream.  Some doctors blend conventional and alternative medicine and practice whatever seems to work.

cancer prevention -- Cancer is characterized by rapid, uncontrolled cell division leading to the growth of malignant tumors. Unless there is medical intervention or treatment, such tumors can spread to the rest of the body (metastasis) and death follow shortly thereafter. Here are some generally accepted guidelines to maximizing one’s chances of not dying from it: 1) Don’t smoke; 2) Eat right (see nutrition, good dietary practices) 3) Avoid specific environmental factors known to cause cancer, including ionizing radiation, chemical compounds (arsenic, asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, etc), a few viruses (HPV, Epstein-Barr, etc); 4) Minimize exposure to things with the possibility of causing cancer (pesticides, too much sunshine on unprotected skin, fiberglass insulation, etc.)

cardiovascular disease, prevention of -- Cardiovascular disease refers to heart and associated blood vessel disorders including heart attack, stroke, arterio- sclerosis, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. Here are some generally accepted things you can do to minimize your chances of dying from it: 1) Don’t smoke; 2) Eat right (see nutrition, good dietary practices); 3) Maintain a healthy weight (see weight gain, avoiding); 4) get plenty of vigorous, heart-healthy exercise; 5) Avoid high stress lifestyles; 6) Have regular medical checkups, especially if you are over 40, and pay attention to your blood pressure, lipids (cholesterol most notably), blood sugar, and C reactive protein levels).

carouse--to party, make merry, celebrate, often alcohol fueled 

chakra--according to yoga practitioners / healers, chakras are human body centers that receive, store, express and convey spiritual energy associated with a life force.  Some view them in terms of mediating different levels of consciousness.  There are seven primary chakras--connected with branchings of the nervous system in the spine, and with Chinese medicine acupuncture points. 

cholesterol -- A fatty substance found in the fat, skin, blood, bile, and brain tissues of all animals including humans. It is needed for various life processes: for production of sex hormones, nerve fiber sheathing, vitamin D, etc. At elevated levels, it becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Diets high in saturated fat and trans fatty acids can contribute to elevated cholesterol.

coronavirus disease 2019—a highly infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Striking older people, those with pre-existing conditions, and poor / racial minorities harder than healthy affluent young people, during 2020 infected tens of millions of people worldwide and typically killed 3% to 6% of those infected.  Frequent hand washing, wearing face masks, social distancing offered protection against contacting this virus

dementia, preventive measures to address concerns about—besides getting plenty of exercise, studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based foods and extra virgin olive oil can lower risk of dementia.  

discounting the future -- doing or having (consuming) something now, rather than waiting , or rather than investing the money you would have spent and getting a high return on the investment

disease -- involves breakdown in normal functioning of body systems, in humans, animals, or plants. If the disease extends over a long period of time, typically with symptoms that are long-lasting and progress slowly, it is said to be a chronic disease.

dissipation--wasteful squandering of money, resources, or energy in excessive pursuit of pleasure

energy balance—the Law of Conservation of Energy—roughly speaking that, for a closed system, the system’s total energy stays the same since it cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another, serves as a starting point for understanding certain systems in terms of energy balance.   To simplify things, imagine the systems are closed except for a single energy input. The systems of interest are 1) the Earth, and 2) a human body, and the energy inputs are from solar energy and food intake respectively.  As a first approximation, we imagine that for 1) the Earth’s temperature will stay constant if the energy received from the Sun is matched by energy lost to space, and 2) the human body’s weight will stay constant if the calorie intake supplied as the food is converted to energy is matched by the calories burned by the body as it carries out its activities (which for some may include strenuous exercise.)  Both of these approximations, while good starting points for approaching two problems of interest—global warming and a person’s dieting to avoid weight gain-- need comment.  First, if solar energy received by Earth exceeds what escapes to space the temperature increases. This is what is happening the due to the “enhanced greenhouse effect” as more greenhouse gas--most notably carbon dioxide from humans burning fossil fuel—traps heat energy that otherwise would escape to space.  The increase in land temperatures has been slowed given that the oceans are where some of this excess heat ends up—and their temperature is slow to increase given their tremendous mass and capacity for storing heat. Second, if the human body calorie in = calorie out balance is maintained over the long term weight will stay constant, there can be short-term fluctuations. The “calorie out” side of this will be more difficult for dieters to assess given human body metabolism variations (both in the rate and efficiency of mechanisms involved that are unique to the particular person.) and differences in energy storage “sinks” (èweight gain locations.)                  

epicurean -- originally this referred to one who believes that pleasure -- particularly the art of making one’s whole life happy or filling it with both intellectual pleasure and serenity -- is the highest good. The term was later corrupted and became associated with those who sought sensual pleasures and / or had a discriminating taste for food or drink.

exercise—a disciplined regimen of body activity that promotes physical fitness, health maintenance, and well being.

fasting / time restricted eating—refers to intentionally eating nothing for varying periods of time: from several days to 14 hours or so. While medical interest in fasting can be found in 3000 year old Vedic texts from India, modern research (reported in 2019) links the practice to many benefits, including surprisingly, increased life span (definitely in lab animals, and less certainly in humans.)  Valter Longo of the University of Southern California has documented that people fasting for four days experience “a remarkable rejuvenating effect on the immune system”  Studies investigating old people who lived through periods of starvation also somewhat  support the link between fasting and living longer. But—nearly starving oneself to live longer seems paradoxical and not much fun! Enter time restricted eating. The basic idea here is to fast long enough for a “metabolic switch” to kick in: a switch from the human body burning a stored form of glucose called glycogen, to burning ketones stored in liver fat.  While this transition has positive benefits affecting growth factors and the immune system, the shorter fasts needed for it to kick in (at least 10 to 12 hours—most achievably between the 7 PM end of dinner to a 9 AM breakfast) are associated with other health benefits according to Mark Matson of Johns Hopkins University.  His research shows they “activate genes and signaling pathways that make neurons more resilient” and stimulate “a process called autophagy: the cells go into a stress-resistance and recycling mode where they get rid of damaged proteins.” Another study linked calorie restriction to promoting the growth of gut bacteria increased with increased life spans.

food, calories from– some facts:  The average adult needs 2000 calories per day on average to fully function and not lose weight.   In poor parts of the world many people face a challenge to get them. In contrast, in affluent countries, many worry about consuming too many calories, and many of these folks engage in dieting. In this regard eating one gram of carbohydrate or protein provides 4 calories, but eating one gram of  fat provides 9 calories. Based on these numbers dieters might follow this advice: “Minimize the amount of fat you eat, since you get over twice the number of calories from an equal weight of it versus either equal weights of carbohydrates or protein!”

food, fast or junk -- food readily and inexpensively available in western consumer societies that unrefined tastes may find tasty, often due to excessive salt, sugar or fat content, but is generally unhealthy and sometimes totally lacking in nutritional value (like soft drinks).  Offerings from multinational corporations specializing in fast food or soft drinks are typically heavily promoted with advertising.  

foodie—a word  that seems to mean the same thing as gourmet—that is, someone who is passionate about food, with an enthusiastic and refined interest--although clearly these two terms come out of different cultural backgrounds!  While “foodie” is a term whose increasing use is perhaps unjustified—don’t tell that to those who use it—it seems surprising that it has generated hostility. Critics typically use “childish” in putting it down.           See also gourmet.

free lunch, there is no such thing as a--refers to the belief that neither a person nor a society can truly get something for nothing: even if something appears to be free there are always hidden costs. The costs may have to be paid in the future, someplace far away, by someone else, be distributed over many people, or they may show up in another form (such as an opportunity cost, environmental cost, increased disorder, etc.)  The physical basis for this belief--which becomes a principle for ecologists and others studying closed systems--can be found in the laws of thermodynamics.  Economists link it to opportunity costs incurred when choices are made. (If something is free, no opportunities are forfeited!)

food preparation and processing--steps that are taken before a potential natural food source is actually consumed as food by human beings.  This can involve removing fibrous plant material or animal skin coverings / innards, washing, chopping, grinding, storing, cooking, and additional processing that can include chemical treatment or preserving.  Some health experts urge people to consume most of their food in as natural a state, with as little processing, as possible.

gene therapy–by replacing defective genes with normal genes genetic disease can be cured.  This relatively new field  of medicine dates from the completion of sequencing of the entire human genome in 2001. By 2020, according to USA National Health Institutes Director Frances Collins, specific genetic defects  that cause over 7000 diseases had been identified. Treatments—some increasingly being thought of as “cures”—have been developed for many of them including sickle cell disease.  Gene therapy holds great promise for the future treatment of once thought to be incurable diseases with a genetic basis

gourmet -- a person who is very fond of eating fine, expensive foods, similarly indulging in drink, particularly alcoholic beverages, and brings with this behavior both knowledge and discriminating taste that qualifies him or her as a something of a connoisseur or critical judge of the quality of said food and drink. See also foodie

grabber -- a derogatory term to be associated with those who succeed wildly in their search for wealth and power (sometimes through ethically questionable means) and, instead of using what they’ve won to help those in need or to make the world a better place, excessively indulge, waste and revel in luxury. It has been charged that their real religion is based on “a gospel of their own wealth”.

guilt associated with leisure -- not fully enjoying leisure activities because, lurking in the back of one’s mind, there is a feeling that time is being wasted, that one should instead be engaged in activities benefiting one’s finances, family, or that represent a more productive contribution to society

happiness principle -- from moral theory, a principle that states that seeking happiness for oneself with someone else’s happiness in mind takes moral precedence over seeking happiness that leads to the loss of happiness for someone else.

harm avoidance -- cautious anticipation of difficulty in certain situations results in people characterized by this to plan carefully, pessimistically worry, be shy, socially inhibited and sometimes avoid strangers. At times, such people lack energy to cope with situations that produce anxiety, so they passively retreat or hide from them altogether.

health care costs--in the United States topped $3.6 trillion in 2018, or over $11,170 per resident per year--altogether representing 17.7% of the GDP. This latter figure is the highest of any nation in the world; for comparison Canada, which has a publicly funded health care system, spends 9% of its GDP on health costs.   

health insurance-- protection against hospital and medical care expenses (and sometimes lost income) due to an illness, injury, or accident.  In countries with publicly funded health care systems or related social welfare programs, it is provided free or inexpensively by the government. Elsewhere it can be obtained from private insurance companies. In 2020, private health insurance premiums cost the average U.S. family $13,824; based on 2018 data, 28.6 million people (representing 8.9%)  were uninsured.  

health-wealth gap, the—itself the title of a November 2018 Scientific American article in an issue with a special report on “The Science of Inequality,” the gap between rich and poor it refers to is both a wealth one and a health one—and that this is a problem for everyone. Research shows a direct linear proportional relationship between the income disparity in a country and an index of national health and social problems that includes: life expectancy, teen birth rate, prevalence of obesity, mental health,  homicides, imprisonment, infant mortality, and social mobility. Meaning the higher the income disparity between the top 20% of wage earners and the lowest 20%, the generally higher were all of these things that contribute to health and social problems. The article’s author, Stanford University professor Robert Sapolsky, describes in detail how the gap between rich and poor creates “ongoing social and psychological stresses” that “grind down the body in a host of unhealthy ways affecting our brains, our immune systems, our  DNA.” While things like increases in blood pressure with stress have long been documented, more surprising is what it does to the ends of the chromosomes housing DNA: telomeres get shorter, a type of “molecular aging.”  The poverty, overcrowding, lack of places to buy healthy food (“food deserts”), lack of access to health care, stress, etc all translate into shorter average life expectancies. That figure in one Houston, TX USA area poverty-stricken neighborhood was a full twenty years lower than that in an affluent neighborhood just a few miles away.

homeopathy—a pseudoscientific alternative medical procedure based on the idea that the very substance that causes disease in healthy folks can be used to cure sick people of that disease when given in doses that are tremendously diluted. Critics point out that calculations show the dilutions—typically with water—are so extreme that not even one molecule of the supposedly active beneficial substance would be expected to be present in what the sick person receives!

human body systems–Medical science recognizes ten of them: 1) integumentary: skin / structures derived from it —protects, senses, regulates temp; 2) skeletal: made of bones and cartilage—  provides support and protection; 3) muscular: skeletal, cardiac, internal organ  muscles —they help us move & function; 4) nervous: nerves, brain, spinal cord,  sensory organs—a chief regulatory system;  5) endocrine: glands that release hormones—  with nervous system regulates metabolism;  6) circulatory: heart, blood vessels serve as transport system; lymphatic subsystem defends body vs. disease; 7) respiratory: lungs and air flow paths—supplies oxygen to the blood and gives off carbon dioxide; 8) digestive: stomach, intestines, glands (liver, etc.) that secrete juices to break down food, excrete waste; 9) urinary: kidneys and urinary tract—produces urine,  regulates blood chemistry, removes wastes; 10) reproductive: in male & female versions, consists of gonads, other structures to perpetuate the species.

iatrogenic illness--illness caused by medical treatment.  A 2018 Johns Hopkins University estimate puts U.S. deaths caused by medical error in hospitals at 250,000 / yr.  Prescription drug related mistakes may cause 100,000 / yr. Altogether this is the third leading cause of death in the USA!

introversion vs. extraversion--the contrast between looking within one's self / inner mental state and enjoying solitary pursuits vs. looking outside the self / to others for enjoyment / gratification.  

marginal utility -- the added satisfaction to be had by consuming an additional unit of a commodity. Economic theory suggests that as a person consumes increasingly more of a commodity the marginal utility eventually declines.

marriage and health--research indicates that married people live longer, healthier lives. In particular, it appears that happily married people better cope with stress, and  suffer less from cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, cancer, and mental illness than singles.



meditation--employing techniques to regulate one's attention and produce an inner state of clarity, serenity, and even bliss. Some meditate to calm one's inner self, using it as a sort of mind / body medicine; others to experience higher states of consciousness (even cosmic consciousness) in a mystical / religious quest.  Some techniques--called concentrative--involve narrowing one's mental focus to a pre-selected object or process such as one's breathing; others--called mindfulness--expand one's inner vision in non-critical way to include a whole background or field without thinking or dwelling on any of it.

microbiome, human—It may be that of the roughly 100 trillion cells that call all parts of the human body home, only half of them (or less) are actually human. The rest are foreign cells from bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists living in the skin, mouth, nose, intestines, etc. (This doesn’t includes untold viruses which aren’t packaged as cells!)  Beyond the numbers, the interactions between all of the human cells, tissues, organ systems etc. together with of these foreign inhabitants define a functioning human body ecosystem. In recent decades medical scientists have increasingly recognized the importance of a healthy human microbiome to overall human health—so much so that A Human Microbiome Project doing genetic sequencing published initial results in 2012. That has made news, along with the importance of having good guys in terms of gut bacteria, whether probiotic food supplements do any good, etc

mind / body connection --Wholistic health practitioners have long recognized this important connection, now, increasingly, traditional, reductionist practitioners of western medicine are realizing it as well. If the contents of one’s mind are unhealthy (anxiety-ridden, negative, full of blame, etc) it can literally make the body sick, or get in the way of its getting well. Similarly, psychological health, reducing stress, being upbeat, feeling loved, or having expectations (see placebo effect) etc. can be linked to maintaining or regaining physical health. To underscore the importance of feeling loved / not being lonely, Dr. Dean Ornish writes, "I'm not aware of any other factor in medicine -- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery -- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death."  

naturalistic fallacy -- the (many would say) mistaken belief that what happens in nature is always right, to which some would add things like “nature knows best”, “living as nature intended is best”, “natural foods are healthiest”, etc

naturopath -- a practitioner of naturopathic medicine. Such a doctor takes a wholistic approach to health care -- emphasizing health maintenance through prevention,  and improving health /  treating disease by assisting the body's innate capacity to heal itself. 

neuron–the specialized conducting cells of the brain, nerves and spinal cord–they consist of a cell body, dendrites, and an axon.

nutrition, good dietary practices -- Nutrition is the study of foods and what makes it up -- including the human body’s ingesting, digesting, absorbing, transporting and utilizing food, and the relationship of that food to health and disease.  Here are some good  nutrition motivated diet recommendations -- 1) Eat a variety of foods, and try to maximize eating foods that are in a natural and not heavily processed state; 2) Exercise regularly and in proportion to the amount of food consumed; 3) Eat plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits. (Note: These provide fiber -- which is important to gastrointestinal health, can lower cholesterol, and protect against some cancers -- essential natural nutrients, and some compounds that can help prevent cancer. Whole grains are to be preferred); 4) Keep intake of saturated fat  and low.  Protein should come more from fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and low fat cheeses, and less from red meat. Avoid trans fatty acids. 5)Keep consumption of sugar, salt and sodium low 6) If you drink alcohol beverages, do so in moderation. And, 7) pay attention to labels of ingredients / nutritional information on food packaging!

objectivism and the virtue of selfishness -- as popularized in the 1950s and 60s by Ayn Rand, objectivism values rational selfishness and views altruism as contrary to human nature. It sees the central purpose of a rational person’s life as productive work, and trade (which it links with justice) as “the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships”. Not surprisingly, this philosophy embraces laissez faire capitalism. Socially, objectivist ethics places the highest value on an individual’s happiness, and denigrates his or her putting aside self interest and sacrificing for others -- singling out as mistaken the belief that one person’s happiness necessarily leads to others’ misery. Politically, its basic principle is “no man may initiate the use of physical force against others”. Rand’s philosophy is embraced by many libertarians and many who rail against “the social welfare state”, “the common good”, "progressive income tax structures", etc.

pagan--the term has two somewhat different meanings: 1) a person who believes there are many gods (polytheist);  2) one who enjoys sensual pleasures (hedonist) and has no religion

pandemic—worldwide epidemic of infectious disease

pain, physical-- an unpleasant or distressing sensory experience due to bodily injury or disorder that ultimately can be traced to stimulation of nerve endings found on the skin or internally. It can be mild and localized, or agony affecting the whole body.  Pain lasting longer than three to six months is referred to as chronic pain.

pathology--the study of the nature and origin of disease

physical therapy–is administered to  help people move better.  It includes several types of exercise, training and techniques that make walking and/or  movement safer or easier.  It aims to increase endurance, make joints less stiff, treat muscle strains, strengthen muscles, reduce pain, and improve balance and coordination.  Techniques to treat pain and inflammation are also employed.  The four most common specialty areas of physical therapy are: 1) orthopedic, 2) geriatric, 3)  neurological, and  4) cardiovascular / pulmonary rehabilitation.

placebo--a placeholder / neutral medicine having no active ingredients administered for the patient's need ; see placebo effect    

placebo effect -- An observed effect in an experimental patient group, typically a slight positive improvement in their health when compared to  a control patient group,  that is caused by administering a placebo, defined as a preparation with no medical or pharmacological value.  The effect is believed to be connected to patient expectations. 

playboys and playgirls -- people who have either given up on, or are postponing romance, and instead are seeking sexual partners and associated fun and games aimed at maximizing pleasure while minimizing real involvement and commitment.

polyamory–the practice or philosophy of having more than one loving, intimate relationship and doing so with the consent of all involved.  It promotes idealistic ethical behavior w/o jealousy & possessiveness.

pornography and restricting creative expression–pornography refers to anything that depicts erotic behavior in a way to cause sexual excitement. Many argue that pornography should be protected under laws guaranteeing free speech and creative expression. They rail against laws restricting it, characterizing what is being banned as either (at best) merely artistic expression or (at worse) merely a victimless crime.  Others argue that display of pornography should be restricted–in some cases banned entirely–because it is harmful to society in the following ways: 1) it leads to increases in sex crimes, 2) it is degrading to women, and 3) it perverts the normal sexual development of children. 

positive thinking, the power of–this phrase is the title of a 1952 best-selling book by Christian preacher and author Norman Vincent Peale.  The basic idea behind his book–and behind similar routes to empowerment advocated by various New Age enthusiasts–is that repeating good thoughts brings good things, while continually dwelling on negative thoughts can bring bad things. In short, people create their own reality by their thoughts.  Many, Peale included, consider thoughts to be things.  Some New Agers don't stop there, but connect whatever they are promoting with the mysteries of quantum physics in claiming that all matter is condensed thought.  For others, similar positive thinking / visualization techniques–and belief that God wants you to have abundant wealth–serve as the basis for teaching others how to get rich.  Coupling such "ask, believe, and receive" recipes with the idea that "you can control the world by what you think" methods provides the essence of numerous books about how to obtain wealth and power

prayer, therapeutic effect of -- while accounts of faith healers' successes go back to ancient times, many modern investigators have cited evidence for a positive therapeutic effect on the health of people who pray or are prayed for. Skeptics have dismissed this suggestion or attributed an improvement to a placebo effect. In an attempt to use scientific methods to measure the effect of people praying for the well being of individuals undergoing heart bypass surgery, a three year study involving church groups praying for 1800 patients was conducted. The results, reported in the April 4, 2006 issue of the American Heart Journal, found no statistically significant difference in the survival or complication rates of heart patients who were prayed for versus those who were not.

preventive medicine -- medical care that emphasizes 1) prevention over treatment, and 2) actively working to keep people healthy rather than merely treating their illness, disease, or symptoms of poor health. Tools in this medical approach include health education, nutrition, and public health efforts to provide safe drinking water, a healthy environment, immunizations, etc. A key rationale for preventive medicine is the widespread belief that spending a bit of money on prevention can save many times that amount in avoiding expensive medical treatment costs later.

prostitution, forced--a form of sexual slavery in which someone is forced into working as a prostitute.  Poor women in developing countries are often required by extreme poverty to sell their bodies, or lured into the sex trade by false promises (sometimes of a good job in an affluent country) and are unable to escape.

protein--can be considered at two different levels: 1) in a microscopic sense, proteins are the chief structural component of cells. These large biologically important molecules are built from amino acids. A gene defines the sequence of amino acids in a protein.  2) macroscopically, in a nutritional sense, protein refers to the total nitrogenous (nitrogen containing) material in a plant or animal identified as essential nutrients.  Meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and grains are sources of protein--which vary in their biological availability and nutritional benefits.

publicly funded healthcare--provides medical services financed (to some extent) by government levied tax payments rather than payments to private health care providers or insurance companies. Most affluent countries--and even some not so rich ones like Cuba--have partially or totally publicly funded health care systems.  The United States--the only wealthy country not providing its citizens with universal health care--has programs for its elderly (Medicare) and poor (Medicaid).

prurient--associated with an interest in lust, sexual activity

radiation--refers to energy transmitted as waves or moving particles, and is most fundamentally distinguished by whether it is ionizing or non-ionizing.  Ionizing radiation can be dangerous to living tissue in that it can cause genetic mutations and kill cells. Sources of it are high energy electromagnetic radiation (like x rays and gamma rays) and radioactive (unstable) material often associated with nuclear energy related technologies.  Lower energy electromagnetic radiation--like visible light, microwaves, or radio waves--is non-ionizing. 

recreational drug useWikipedia defines this as “the use of a psychoactive drug to induce an altered state of consciousness for pleasure by modifying the perceptions, feelings, and emotions of the user.” Recreational drugs include alcohol, cannabis (marijuana), nicotine (tobacco), caffeine, prescription drugs (such as pain-killers), and controlled substances (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, psilocybin, etc.)  The money spent on recreational drug use is staggering!  A 2019 report by the RAND corporation estimated USA annual spending on just four of these illicit drugs—cannabis, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine—to be $150 billion/yr. This can be compared with the $158 billion Americans reportedly spent on alcohol in 2017,  $13.6 billion in 2016 on coffee, and $80 billion on cigarettes in 2011) 

Reiki—originating in Japan, this is a healing technique based on touching that supposedly revitalizes energy fields within the body .  The term Reiki refers to the Japanese pronunciation of the life force energy that the Chinese refer to as Ch’i or Qi.  Some think of Reiki as a spiritual practice, others liken it to faith healing or  “laying on of hands”.  Those western medical practitioners who have not warmed to eastern alternative medicine may blast it as pseudoscientific.

ribald--vulgar, coarse, crude –often as applied to such humor

safe sex—sexual activity using methods or devices (such as condoms) that lessen the risk of getting or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases (especially AIDS).

sedentary--associated with a sitting or seated position and lack of physical activity

self control -- generally this refers to exercising restraint over one’s impulses, desires and emotions. Often it can involve deferring a reward or delaying gratification. -- an ability that many cite as a sign of emotional maturity or even intelligence. Some see the process of exhibiting self control as involving a battle between different parts of the mind.

sex tourism—travel, typically by men from affluent countries, to other countries, typically poor, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activities, typically with prostitutes. 

sexually transmitted diseases--also known as venereal diseases, they refer to infections / illnesses that are transmitted through sexual contact.  Examples are AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, etc.  Safe sex practices--notably use of condoms--can prevent or reduce the probability of such transmission.

soft drinks -- Non alcoholic and tasty, actually composed of chemically flavored and colored sugar water with dissolved carbon dioxide gas added. Heavily marketed and promoted so that people associate them with "the good life".

stress hormone / cortisol—produced in the adrenal glands it is released during times of stress and low blood sugar / glucose concentrations. Elevated, prolonged level of cortisol can lead to immune system suppression, increased gastric acid secretion, protein breakdown, decrease in bone formation and muscle  wasting. Inside the brain , in conjunction with adrenaline it can aid storing memories of painful / emotionally charged events—providing a way to avoid them in the future.

tobacco use, health costs of—according to the CDC, the USA annually spends $170 billion per year on medical care to treat smoking-related disease in adults.  Despite its and others’ efforts to point out that “tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, nearly 40 million US adults still smoke cigarettes and about 4.7 million middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.”

victimless crimes -- certain behaviors that most societies frown on, and many have restricted or made illegal, but nonetheless seemingly involve only consenting adults and have no immediately obvious victims. Examples include gambling, prostitution, assisted suicide, recreational drug use, and public drunkenness. 

virtual reality—a technology-provided experience that attempts to simulate the real world--or some imagined version of how the world could be—for entertainment (example: video games) or educational purposes.  

waste treatment--steps that are taken to make waste water or sewage safe to discharge back into the environment. It typically involves removing chemical contaminants and dangerous microorganisms. If sewage is involved, end products of this process can be both liquid effluent and sludge--which conceivably can be used as fertilizer. 

water treatment--steps that are taken to make water fit or more desirable for human consumption. This can include filtering out sediment / minerals, purifying to remove chemical contaminants, disinfecting (boiling, chlorinating, etc.) to remove microorganisms, etc. Unsafe water supplies--chiefly resulting from contamination by pathogenic microorganisms--are the cause of diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and other diseases. Diarrhea alone annually kills nearly two million people worldwide--typically children in developing countries.

weight gain, avoiding -- the bulk of the human diet will be comprised of fats, protein, and carbohydrates and the energy they supply can be measured in calories. Calories consumed per day should be within a certain range to maintain a healthy weight. Since fats contain 9 calories per gram, and both protein and carbohydrates only 4 calories per gram, consuming lots fats leads to relatively lots of calories. This is not a problem in “hunter and gatherer” societies, where lots of physical activity (i.e. exercise) burns lots of calories, but in western sedentary societies it typically is! In general, if one is currently at a healthy weight, if the calories consumed vs. calories burned are roughly equal, one’s weight will be maintained. If calories consumed typically exceed calories burned, weight gain is inevitable. See books with charts of caloric contents of foods and calories burned by different types of physical activity for the details -- which are important! (also see energy balance

wholism (or holism) -- a philosophical orientation that promotes consideration of whole systems , rather than exclusive focus on individual, component parts. This consideration is urged in the belief that the essence of the system can not be grasped by merely analyzing its constituent parts. Examples of systems that lend themselves to wholistic study: a human being, the human species, the Earth’s biosphere, planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, the universe. The opposite approach to wholism is reductionism.

wishful thinking–involves interpreting events / actions of others, decision-making and forming beliefs based on what one desires to be true (rather than what is true) or what is the pleasing to imagine (rather than facing the perhaps grim?) reality behind a situation.   A related orientation–involving deluding oneself and similarly lacking in rational analysis / real world grounding–is "wishing makes it so."  This simplistic, fairy tale, magical, childhood fantasy way of dealing with problems is to be contrasted with the planning / hard work / repeated trials before success that adults solving real problems more typically are faced with.                    

World Health Organization (WHO)–a specialized agency within the United  Nations founded in 1948 and administered from Geneva seeking “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health” Besides promoting human health and well-being, it advocates for universal health care,  monitors public health risks, co-ordinates responses to public health emergencies including pandemics.    

Yoga—from Hinduism, a way to suppress physical and mental activity offering a path to spiritual mastery where the goal is liberating the self; more popularly, a discipline and system of exercises and postures for staying physically fit and maintaining health.



Back to Choice #21