Working out (is) what's best for our brains and peeling back an inhumane cost of food

by Vivian Diep in January 21st, 2022

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active adults

The latest reason to exercise? Staving off dementia

Fri Jan 7

We’ve heard it time and time again: Exercise helps improve heart health, sleep, and even mental health. And now, researchers are finding that an active lifestyle could also help us hold onto our cognitive abilities in old age and fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The most unique part of this study? It’s the first to use human data in connecting exercise to the important protein regulation that maintains cognition. In the case of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, toxic protein buildup disrupts brain cells and causes neurons to fall apart (neurons work to transmit information in the brain). Researchers worked with elderly patients, who agreed to donate their brains after passing, and ultimately discovered that those who maintained a more active lifestyle — which can be as simple as taking frequent walks — had higher levels of the good proteins and were able to maintain their cognition late in life.  

This and other studies have been working to shift the focus of exercise away from its historic goal of weight loss in an effort to encourage more active lifestyles that benefit us far beyond weight management. In fact, one recent study shows that shifting the focus to fitness instead of weight loss reduces mortality risk by 15-60%. Meanwhile those exercising for the sole purpose of weight loss saw just a 10-15% reduction in mortality risk. Further, it doesn’t take marathon running to reap these rewards, as the effects of exercise follow a steep curve. In other words, every little bit of activity produces a lot of good. So go out, take a literal hike, and start your new year knowing every bit counts a lot.  

Modern day slavery operation discovered in Georgia

Fri Dec 17

Last year, we shared growing concerns over increased human trafficking within U.S. agriculture. It all centers around the U.S.’s H2 visa program, which is split into two categories: H2-A (for agricultural workers) and H-2B (for all other industries). Companies use the H2 program to hire foreign workers for seasonal or short-term work, as long as they prove local labor is insufficient.

Now, a massive investigation has discovered “modern day slavery” at one Georgia operation. The investigators were shocked by the farms in Georgia may have:

  • Recruited migrant workers from Mexico and Central America, charged them illegal fees, and withheld their paperwork or passports. 
  • Forced them to dig onions for pennies per bucket (when paid at all) with their bare hands, sometimes at gunpoint. 
  • Kept them in hazardous living conditions, including cramped, dirty trailers with little to no food. One worker was raped, two others have died. 
  • Sold and traded workers or threatened to harm their families to keep them from filing complaints. 

Since 2015, the alleged crime ring made over $200 million and has brought 71,000 agricultural laborers under fraudulent visa applications. Just 100 workers have been freed. Now, lawmakers are pushing both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for answers to how such conditions have endured and what’s being done to provide government oversight of these farms — who have to petition for approval to recruit migrant workers in the first place.

What could a potential solution look like? The Fair Food Program is one, which audits partner farms across eight states to ensure wages go directly to workers and responds to a 24/7 complaints hotline. Their farms are required to meet certain code of conduct, otherwise they’re suspended from selling their produce to major buyers, like McDonald’s and Walmart.

Below the Fold Bytes

Sorry, You Can't Have Fries With That

A potato shortage is not only upsetting the fast food chains from Kenya to Japan, it’s also bringing import dependency to light. For example,some Kenyans are expressing outrage at local fast food restaurants failing to use Kenyan potatoes. The shortage happened as a result  of COVID-19 (what a surprise…), and the lasting effect is a shrinking crop — at least in the U.S., one of the world’s major potato producers. Read More >>

Under-funded, Over-taxed I.R.S

Tax season is forecast to be heavily frustrating for taxpayers due to staffing shortages and paperwork backlogs. Officials blame inadequate funding. In fact, fewer auditors work with the I.R.S. now than at any time in history since WWII. Delays may even worsen, thanks to pandemic relief reporting and politicians demanding the I.R.S. do more paperwork for transparency. Long story short: File your tax returns electronically. >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

If today’s story wasn’t enough to get moving, another scientific study shows that spending just 20 minutes outside three times a week can significantly reduce cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels as well as ease anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. So this week, we’re asking everyone to prioritize 20 minutes of their day to walk outside. And if, like us, your life runs around your calendar, the Wanderlust Group has a free moveable calendar invite to slot those 20-minutes into your weekly routine!

This Week's Sources

  • Vice: Onion farms and modern day slavery 1 month old | 6 minutes long
  • Below the Fold: Human trafficking in agriculture 3 months old | 3 minutes long
  • Science Daily: Connecting exercise and dementia 13 days old | 4 minutes long
  • NBC News: Canada pledges reparations 17 days old | 10 minutes long

ASCII-ing About the News

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These onion farms have us crying for more than one reason :(

Art Credit: Berrito

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