Loneliness Crisis Is Deadly

Loneliness Crisis Is Deadly

A recent USA Today article gathered data from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, showing that loneliness has increased dramatically in the United States. According to the article, 61% of adults ages 18 to 25 feel profound loneliness. Harvard professor Jeremy Nobel has established an initiative called “Project Unlonely” to address this loneliness crisis.

Professor Nobel classifies three types of loneliness:
(1) Psychological loneliness – not having anyone to trust or confide in
(2) Societal loneliness – feeling systemically excluded because of such things as gender, race, or disability
(3) Spiritual loneliness – feeling disconnected from oneself.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory report says that loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 26%, equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The American Heart Association says that feeling lonely increases a person’s risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%, indicating that the loneliness crisis is deadly.

The U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says that the solution to loneliness is to take 15 minutes a day to reach out to someone you care about or look for ways to serve others. He says that when we are with someone else, we must give them our full attention and put away our devices. He further states that schools, companies, and healthcare facilities must adopt strategies to reduce loneliness.

Nowhere in the USA Today article is the Church mentioned. The fact is that the teachings of Christ offer a real solution to loneliness. Read Acts 2:41-47, and you will see an excellent cure for loneliness. Read Matthew 25:31-40 and see what Jesus considers essential in how we live our lives. Christians can avoid the loneliness crisis by becoming active in building relationships and serving others.

Having a relationship with Christ gives us an understanding of our purpose for existing. Loneliness results from a world dominated by “survival of the fittest” and “looking after # 1.” The loneliness crisis in America has become an epidemic and is just part of the collateral damage that comes from rejecting God.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Americans are lonely, and it’s killing them” by Adrianna Rodriques in USA Today 12/27/23

The Feel-Good Hormones

The Feel-Good Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through our bloodstream. You can describe them as signaling molecules that work to set things in motion. The name comes from a Greek word meaning “setting in motion.” Hormones are produced in various areas of our bodies and are sent through the bloodstream to signal some action or response. Good health requires a balance of hormones, and proper diet, exercise, and rest help to keep them in balance. The feel-good hormones are four classes of hormones that, as you might guess, do things that make us feel good.

ENDORPHINS- Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, synthesizes and stores them. Endorphins help to mask pain, reduce stress, and improve mood. When we push through a painful task or strenuous exercise, endorphins are there to help us. 

DOPAMINE- Two areas of the brain produce dopamine, and you can think of this hormone as the brain’s reward system. Exercise, eating a food we like, or accomplishing a task can cause the brain to release dopamine, giving us a pleasurable feeling. The use of some drugs and alcohol can release a flood of dopamine, giving us a sense of euphoria, a “high.” But coming down from that high can lead to depression and a desire for more of the drugs. Normal activities or exercise stimulate dopamine more slowly, and the effect of the hormone remains longer. Good stewardship of our bodies and health calls for avoiding harmful drugs and alcohol.

OXYTOCIN- Some people call this feel-good hormone the love hormone. Touching, hugging, or sexual activity can trigger the release of oxytocin. The brain’s hypothalamus produces it, and the pituitary gland releases it into the bloodstream. Oxytocin can help improve social interactions and give us a desire to develop stronger connections with others.

SEROTONIN- Serotonin is a natural mood booster, and depression can result from a low level of this hormone. Serotonin performs many functions and is produced by the central nervous system in various areas of the body. Serotonin improves memory and learning and promotes relaxation. Exercise, as well as exposure to sunshine and the outdoors, can increase the production of serotonin. Meditation and quietness in prayer can also reward us with this mood-boosting hormone.

The feel-good hormones are part of good health, and a healthy lifestyle boosts them. However, too much of a good thing too quickly is not healthy. Alcohol and drugs can give us a high but only lead to a letdown. A healthy lifestyle involves proper diet, exercise, rest, prayer, meditation, thankfulness, and balanced relationships with others. Incorporating those things into our lives is the best way to enjoy the blessings God has for us.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Loneliness Contributes to Bad Health

Loneliness Contributes to Bad Health

Medical science has now shown that loneliness contributes to bad health. One of the benefits of being a Christian is what the Bible calls “koinonia.” That Greek word can be translated “fellowship” or “communion.” In Acts 2:42, the first-century Church met in constant fellowship, and Hebrews 10:25 urged Christians not to forsake gathering together. We see in the scriptures that Christ’s disciples were together constantly. Today, fellowship with people who share your values and beliefs is a significant contributor to good health. 

A study of 18,000 diabetic adults in the United Kingdom showed that “loneliness may be a bigger risk for heart disease in diabetes patients than a bad diet, smoking or a lack of exercise or depression.” Researchers found that over ten years, the chance of developing cardiovascular disease was up to 26% higher in patients with high loneliness scores. Dr. Lu Qi, a professor at Tulane University, said, “We should not downplay the importance of loneliness on physical and emotional health. I encourage my patients with diabetes who feel lonely to join a group or class and try to make friends with people who have shared interests.” 

God’s statement that “it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) should not be restricted to the marriage relationship. Loneliness contributes to bad health, and God knows what humans need for good health. I have observed that men who lose their wives and live alone have a reduced life expectancy, but the Church provides a remedy for that loneliness. On a personal note, I remember vividly the negative effect my wife’s death had on my health. My relationship with other Christians in the months following her death has contributed to my living to see my 85th birthday. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: “Insider Report” from Yahoo News for June 2023. 

Worship and Health

Worship and Health

We need to know that there is a connection between worship and health. What God tells us to do in worship is not for God’s benefit but ours. God doesn’t need our money, so that is not why we give. He doesn’t tell us to sing because He likes good music. Likewise, prayer is not because God needs us to tell Him what is going on or what we need. Jesus makes it clear that God knows what we need before we ask. (See Matthew 6:8.)

Worship and health are connected because all acts of worship are for our well-being. Christianity Today published a report of studies showing reduced health risks for people who attend worship services regularly compared with those who never attend. Consider these comparisons:

Those who attend have an 84% lower risk of suicide than non-attenders.
Those who attend have an 82.9% lower risk of depression than non-attenders.
Those who attend have a 50% lower risk of divorce than non-attenders.
Those who attend have a 33% lower risk of illegal drug use than non-attenders.

The report also quoted Gallup polls showing that confidence in organized religion has dropped from 68% in 1975 to 36% in 2019. In addition, a Barna Poll showed that in 1911 43% of Americans said they went to church every week, and in 2020 that number was 29%. Harvard University researchers Tyler Vanderweele and Brendan Case collected the data, so it is an academic investigation by recognized scholars.

The connection between worship and health is another example of the correlation between rejecting God and having problems with suicide, depression, drug use, and instability in relationships. Jesus said, “I come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That is not just true of life after death, but in living every day through all we experience on Earth.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Christianity Today, November 2021, pages 37-42.

Singing is Good for Your Health

Singing is Good for Your Health

A Finnish study has found that singing is good for your health. In addition, it showed better verbal fluency in elderly singers compared to non-singers. The study says that these findings make sense because singing requires regulation of attention, versatile information processing, linguistic output, learning, and memorization.

Several New Testament passages talk about singing, including Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Romans 15:9, and 1 Corinthians 14:15. The New Testament presents singing as part of worship, and everyone should participate in worship. Merely being entertained by someone who is blessed with great musical talent is not participating in worship.

In our day of four-part harmony, it is easy for everyone to learn to sing in their comfort range. In the Old Testament, the Psalms were songs. Music for worship in Jesus’ day mainly consisted of chants that everyone could join.

A person can be tone-deaf and still participate in singing in Christian worship. Although many religions use singing as a part of their worship activities, group participation is unique to the worship system of Christians.

Singing is not what takes place in the meetings of atheists. When I was an atheist, the only songs I remember were songs that carried a pornographic or comedic message. Music was not something we all participated in, but it was a vehicle of entertainment.

Making melody in your heart” (Ephesians 5:19) is a proven way to improve your mental health. Furthermore, like everything God tells us to do, it has a purpose and benefits our well-being. Therefore, singing is good for your health, both physical and spiritual health.

— John N, Clayton © 2021

Reference: Readers Digest. September 2021, page 58.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia are a Growing Problem

Alzheimer's and Dementia are a Growing Problem

Recently a critic suggested that if God were so great, He wouldn’t allow dementia and Alzheimer’s to be a part of the human experience. There is no question that Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem in today’s world. Those of us who have had family members develop these disabilities can testify how hard it is for family and loved ones. Is the inability of a mother to recognize her children or husband a failure in human brain design?

The Alzheimer’s Association has released data showing that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other dementia. Since 2000, the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s has more than doubled. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women, and more than six million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. We don’t know all of the causes and contributors to Alzheimer’s. Still, we know enough to tell us that Alzheimer’s and dementia are related to our environment, our growing life expectancy, and our lifestyles.

In the past, people just didn’t live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. Life expectancy brings many age-related health issues. For that reason, Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem. Diet and physical activity are related to Alzheimer’s. In modern life, we do a lot of sitting and consume many foods that are not good for our brains. The same conditions that have caused heart disease and diabetes also produce Alzheimer’s and dementia. God did not design humans to sit behind a desk with no exercise and eat foods that negatively affect our brains. The Alzheimer’s Association has shown that multiple vaccinations for flu and pneumonia reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Our brains are incredible devices that allow us to survive and do amazing things. We clearly see God’s design in how our brains work, but human activity and choices have contributed to a decline in brain health. Alzheimer’s and dementia are a growing problem but not an indication that God failed in His design. It shows that the neglect of our brains and our choices in life have caused problems that prevent our incredible biological computers from handling all the data we want them to retain. We must take care of the good things God has given us, and our brains are among the most important.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from the Spring 2021 issue of Alzheimer’s Update on alz.org

Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine, and Whiskey

Alcohol-Free Beer, Wine, and Whiskey

An alternative to alcohol consumption that many people are not aware of is alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. This is not going to be acceptable for someone who is drinking for the drug effect of alcohol. However, for those who drink for social or taste reasons, alcohol-free drinks are becoming a big plus. According to market analysis groups, global consumption of no alcohol beverages is growing two to three times faster than alcohol consumption.

Alcohol-free bars have opened around the world. For example, in Austin, Texas, Sans Bar has live music and various alcohol-free drinks. The founder is a former addiction counselor who has been sober for 14 years. New and old businesses are manufacturing alcohol-free beverages. Anheuser-Busch has introduced an alcohol-free Budweiser Zero beer. Small companies like Spiritless and Ritual Zero Proof have opened and are producing no-alcohol whiskey, gin, and tequila.

Drinking may not be an issue for most Christians. But for people struggling with health issues due to alcohol, athletes, and pregnant women, the social pressure to drink may be counteracted by alcohol-free beer, wine, and whiskey. Christians should be reminded of Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to “Abstain from all appearances of evil.” We hope that non-alcoholic drinks could be viewed as a tool to address problems, not as a social lubricant.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Associated Press article by Dee-Ann Durbin

Healthy Microbiome Design

Healthy Microbiome Design

The colonies of microbes living on and in our bodies make up what is called our microbiome. The bacteria outnumber our own body cells by a ratio of ten to one. Your body is host to 100 trillion bacteria of at least 10,000 different species. Before you start to worry about that, most of the bacteria will not hurt you. More than that, you couldn’t live without a healthy microbiome.

Some bacteria are essential to make our immune system work to prevent infection. Others make it possible for us to digest the food we eat. Bacteria are on our skin, in our lungs, in our mouths, especially in our gut. Your digestive system needs a good balance of bacteria for proper digestion. Some medical experts think that an imbalance of gut flora (bacteria) leads to irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

There has been a boom in sales of probiotics in pills, liquids, and yogurts in recent years. These contain bacteria that may help your digestive system, but the amounts and types of bacteria may not necessarily be the ones needed for your system. Everyone has a somewhat different microbiome, and, as we recently posted, it all starts in our mother’s womb. Breastfeeding further adds beneficial bacteria to the baby’s flora.

When we take antibiotics, we can kill some beneficial bacteria resulting in digestive and other health problems. Science is trying to determine what is required for a healthy microbiome so that doctors can treat various issues that many times come from our poor choices regarding our health and diet. God designed a system that works, and we are just beginning to recognize that and learn how to take care of it.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Chemicals in Cosmetics – What Price Beauty?

Chemicals in Cosmetics – What Price Beauty?

A large percentage of the problems we have in life are our own doing. One of the places where this is becoming increasingly apparent is in the chemicals used in cosmetics.

The list of human problems is multiplying as more chemicals are used in beauty aids. Toluene is a solvent used in nail polishes and has been linked to miscarriages and some cancers. Foundations and eye shadows contain parabens, which disrupt hormones causing allergies and have been linked to miscarriages, cancer, and ADHD. Lipsticks and other cosmetics contain formaldehyde which causes cancer. Shampoos and conditioners contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can cause liver damage, thyroid disease, and developmental issues. Many perfumes and deodorants contain phthalates which contribute to asthma, diabetes, and ADHD.

In their winter edition of Solutions magazine, the Environmental Defense Fund published stories of women working in beauty salons who have had miscarriages. The list of diseases they link to beauty products includes many soaps and lotions.

We cannot blame God when we use chemicals in cosmetics that cause serious diseases or organ failure. The real issue here is that most of us don’t know what will harm us and what will not. We urge our readers to look at the product labels to see the chemicals in cosmetics and lotions to ensure that what we use to improve our looks doesn’t cause serious health issues.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Potential Health Problems of Space Travel

Potential Health Problems of Space Travel

More and more data shows that leaving Earth and venturing into outer space away from Earth’s constant gravity and the protection of our atmosphere and magnetosphere is much more destructive than anyone imagined. One of our regular readers sent us a quote from NBC News about the potential health problems of space travel. Here is what it says:

“The number of deaths due to heart disease among the Apollo lunar astronauts is almost five times greater than that in non-flight astronauts, or astronauts who never flew missions in space, researchers from Florida State University found. Compared to astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO), the heart risk among Apollo astronauts is four times higher. There were no differences between LEO and non-flight astronauts.”

We recently reported on the astronaut twin study, which showed physical changes even in low Earth orbit. We don’t yet know what potential health problems of space travel may become evident in the long-term.

Micro-gravity and exposure to radiation seem to combine to cause bodily harm. Earth’s magnetic field is more protective than science has understood. Working in the International Space Station is less of an issue because the LEO means that some of Earth’s protections still function. Going to Mars may be impossible with the present spaceship design.

We will be interested in future data on travel to the Moon and prolonged existence in outer space. We know that God’s design of planet Earth makes it suitable for life, but we are not fully aware of the potential health problems of space travel. You can read the full NBC report from HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2021