Things That Matter

This Boy Ate A Ton Of French Fries And Pringle’s And Now Doctors Blame His Poor Diet For His Blindness

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A British teenager is the first believed to have gone blind solely due to a poor diet of junk food. This has to be one of every young person’s worst nightmares. How many of us were raised to believe that it’s in those formative teen years we are able to indulge in all the bad foods we want before our slower metabolism kicks in with age? 

Before we did that bizarre experiment in tenth grade, where you put a penny in Coca-Cola and it dissolves due to the acids, I singularly lived off of soda. I did not drink water. My Dominican abuela would put a teaspoon of sugar in my brother and I’s Sunny Delight orange juice. I am not saying this is right (it’s definitely not the best way to live), I am just saying it is not uncommon for young people to make the worst possible food choices when left to their own devices. And of course, junk and fast food companies aren’t so innocent. 

The combination of aggressive marketing along with food scientists who make artificial flavors taste better than real food and more addictive, has had damaging effects on public health. So while it might be your first instinct to roast this boy, let’s consider all the social factors that made his blindness possible in the first place.

How can junk food make you go blind? 

Scientists from the University of Bristol examined the case of a young boy who slowly lost his hearing and vision over the course of four years. The boy who was a picky eater since elementary school, only ate Pringles potato chips, white bread, processed ham and sausage, and avoided many nutritious foods.

He first saw a doctor at 14, complaining of tiredness. He was not on medication and had a normal BMI. Tests revealed he had low vitamin B12 levels and anemia. After treating him with B12 injections, a year later, he showed signs of hearing loss and vision. Doctors were baffled. By the time he was 17, he became legally blind. Doctors detected low vitamin B12, low copper, selenium, vitamin D and bone level density, along with high levels of zinc.

Essentially, he was malnourished. 

Developing countries face similar health hurdles.

Researchers from the Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital determined he had nutritional optic neuropathy. For the patient, the blindness was permanent, although it is reversible if detected early. Typically, a case like this in the developed world would be the result of bowel problems or medication that obstructs the absorption of nutrients. 

However, poor diet was the cause for the 17-year-old. Nutritional optic neuropathy is typically found in patients from developing nations with poverty, famine, drought, and war. 

A cautionary tale. 

“Our vision has such an impact on quality of life, education, employment, social interactions, and mental health,” said study lead author Denize Atan, an ophthalmologist at Bristol Medical School and Bristol Eye Hospital. “This case highlights the impact of diet on visual and physical health, and the fact that calorie intake and BMI are not reliable indicators of nutritional status.”

Researchers believe this is an extreme case but caution against a junk food diet. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat the Popeye’s Fried Chicken sandwich, it just means it can’t be the only thing you eat over the course of a decade.

“Although it is an extreme example, it highlights the importance of having a wide and varied diet to ensure that you get the profile of nutrients and micronutrients that are needed for healthy development,” Gary Frost, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at Imperial College London, told CNN.

Because this teenager is anonymous lots of questions remain. Why didn’t the parents intervene sooner? Will they be held accountable? Why weren’t doctors able to address the seriousness of the child’s diet sooner? 

We should hold food companies more accountable.  

Food scientists intentionally make foods unnaturally delicious and addictive because their goal isn’t to make people healthy, it’s to sell more food products.

“Humans have an inherited preference for energy-rich foods — like fats and sugars — and thus natural selection has predisposed us to foods high in sugar and fat,” Jennifer Kaplan, a teacher at the Culinary Institute of America, told Salon. “Food scientists know this and create ingredients that are far higher in fat and sugar than occur in nature. The most common such sugar is high-fructose corn syrup and is therefore intrinsically addictive.” 

study in 2013, showed that high fructose corn syrup, the artificial sweetener used in most prepackaged foods, is as addictive as heroin and cocaine because of the way it releases dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone that tells your brain it is being rewarded.

When society ain’t looking out for you and the adults in your life ain’t looking out for you, well it is hard to stand a chance. Let’s hope this patient’s cautionary tale helps someone make more thoughtful food choices.

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

Things That Matter

A Video Of A Woman Singing ‘Fallaste Corazón’ To Her Abuelo With Dementia Is Going Viral After He Remembered The Lyrics

We all know that growing old is inevitable in this life and that our days on Earth are numbered. Regardless of that truth, it’s human nature to either feel afraid of growing old or to feel melancholy when it comes to thinking of growing old. What can be even more painful is seeing our parents, our aunts and uncles, or our grandparents growing old and imagining a life without them in it. 

Last week, one woman on Twitter shared a video of her grandfather who has dementia singing along with her to “Fallaste Corazón” by Pedro Infante in a fleeting moment of lucidness. 

In the video, you can see the woman singing with such passion to her grandfather who is attentively watching her sing and who later begins to sing along to the lyrics as well.

 Dayis, on Twitter, shared that her “tata” doesn’t remember a lot of things due to his dementia but in an effort to help him with his dementia, she sings to him every day. 

“Today he remembered the song fallaste corazón and I swear I was trying so hard not to cry,” she writes. “This many is my life.”

According to Alzheimers.net, there are many reasons as to why music boosts brain activity.

According to the site, “musical aptitude and appreciation” are two of the last remaining abilities in dementia patients, music can bring emotional and physical closeness, music can shift moods and stimulate positive interactions, and it evokes emotions that bring back memories.

Since musical aptitude and appreciation are the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, “music is an excellent way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.” In later stages of dementia, patients are also prone to losing the ability to share emotions with their caregivers or family members but through music, they can still reach that emotional and physical closeness they once had. Further, singing to and with dementia patients is engaging and it leads to patients “exercising more mind power than usual.” 

People who saw the touching video on social media were not only quick to share their reactions after watching it but they also shared their own personal experiences with family members and loved ones who had dementia. 

One Twitter user replied to @Dayannagmusic03 and shared that they couldn’t stop watching the video. 

The Twitter user went on to say that their grandfather also has dementia but notices sometimes that “something around him has triggered a memory” and to see that, they said, is the best feeling in the world. 

The woman who initially posted the video shared that her “tata” is currently on “stage 6” of dementia and although it’s been a long and rough battle, “he always seems to remember certain songs.”

“When he does, it warms my heart with joy,” she continued to write on Twitter. 

It’s safe to say the video had a lot of people in their feels and rightfully so.

We love to see raw and touching moments like these. 

The 0:50 mark made us ugly cry too.

This is right when her grandfather starts to faintly sing along with her and man, she sings with so much emotion too. 

Other folks on Twitter sent their blessings to her family and her grandfather.

We hope her grandfather continues to have more moments like this. 

People on Twitter also compared the heartwarming video to the movie Coco.

Remember the scene toward the end of the film when Miguel sings to Mamá Coco and she begins to remember? I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING. 

Others said what we’re all thinking… just thinking about our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents getting old hurts a little bit more as we keep getting older ourselves. 

We’d like to keep believing their invincible and will live forever. 

Another Twitter user @missmalindakat tweeted that she had never seen anyone sing with more “heart and passion” than in that video.

One Twitter user shared her own video of her grandfather in a similar situation who also seemed to remember the lyrics to “El Rey” by Vicente Fernández when her great aunt sang it to him.

It’s touching to see other folks sharing their similar experiences and videos in an effort to support one another. This video has also amassed over 47,000 views on Twitter. 

Listen to “Fallaste Corazón” in full on YouTube below:

One Latina Talks About Breaking Down The Walls Of Stigma In The Latinx Community

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One Latina Talks About Breaking Down The Walls Of Stigma In The Latinx Community

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In an ideal world, we would all play active roles in breaking down the mental health stigma. Dinner talks would be filled with

 “¿Mijo, cómo te has sentido?” 

“¿Cómo vas con tu medicina?” or

“¿Sigues yendo a yoga?” 

Showing emotion would be encouraged and vulnerability would be praised. 

But you and I both know, this isn’t the case when it comes to the world we live in. Growing up in the Central Valley, surrounded by what seemed like endless tomato fields, with two farm-working parents, I will be the first to admit that conversations about mental health were non-existent. Up until my last year of undergrad, I believed that anxiety attacks were an over-exaggeration of weak, pitiful people who couldn’t handle a little stress. Until of course, it happened to me. I suffered my first anxiety attack one night during my last semester at Fresno State. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced, and it changed my life forever. 

During the years that followed, I fought against cultural norms. For me, nothing else had worked, so I said ‘yes’ to therapy and anxiety medication, even when my family opposed it or didn’t quite understand it. It was hard. I felt misunderstood and out of place. I was conflicted about how people would judge me and my family if they found out that I sought outside help. 

But I am happy to report that things did get better. Therapy and medication helped tremendously, and my parents eventually came around to supporting my decision to seek help, primarily because they began to see the progress I was making. 

So yes, even though these conversations are tough, I believe they are absolutely necessary to ensure the wellbeing of our families and our future generations. Mental health conversations have to become an integral part of our families, especially within the cultural context.

There’s no doubt about it, the Latinx culture is beautiful! Its richness is felt in the music, food and strong family values. However, many aspects of the culture are not conducive for growth. Not being able to comfortably talk about our mental health because of the ensuing stigma is definitely one of them. Truth is, if we want to move our Latinx families forward, we must find ways to play a role in normalizing mental health conversations within our traditional families. There is no room for inaction. 

The good news is, you don’t have to be a hardcore mental health advocate to help! 

Empowered Bystanders Matter

We can choose to either be an empowered bystander or play an active role in this. Both can be equally important in normalizing these conversations. First, we must acknowledge that not everyone wants to be outspoken and actively pushing change forward. Regardless, empowered bystanders can still make a difference with what may seem like small insignificant acts. 

Here is how you can help as an empowered bystander: 

Withdraw from toxic dialogue.

Oftentimes within traditional family dynamics, we witness ideologies that are toxic for people experiencing mental health issues. Conversations in family reunions can sometimes be offensive and discouraging. As an empowered bystander, you have a choice to partake in this dialogue or completely withdraw from it. By simply choosing not to laugh at an offensive joke, for example, you take a subtle yet firm stance that you are not here for this, you do not agree with this behavior. 

Compare apples to apples.

You may not suffer from a mental health issue, but you can still observe and pinpoint opportunities for conversation. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say one of your siblings is contemplating taking medication for their mental health but is discouraged by your parent who says things like: 

“¡You don’t need that, you are not crazy,” or

“¡Que locuras! Mejor ponte a limpiar tu cuarto, es lo que debes de hacer!” 

As an empowered bystander, you have the power to respectfully interject and propose an idea like:

“Pa, how is that different from you taking your daily blood pressure medicine, you take that every day for you to function.”

In doing so, you suddenly propose a new thought, a new perspective. You don’t force change; you simply ask questions and initiate thoughtful conversations.  

For those of us who are personally impacted by mental health issues, and feel strongly about creating change, here is how you can help as an active participant: 

Embody and embrace the rebel persona. 

Within the cultural family context, we must acknowledge that taking an active role in breaking the mental health stigma often comes with feeling isolated. We will not always fit in. Understanding this upfront will make it easier to cope. We have to understand that our immediate family will not always be our frontline cheerleaders. This is 100% okay. Whether we receive support within our family or not, it is vital that we seek some type of support, through friendships or support groups. 

Be the example.

Do you suffer from a mental health issue? Do you take medication? Do you go to therapy? Living without shame and using your experiences to offer insight and a different perspective in conversations with folks is key to normalizing this subject within our families. Own your experiences, so they become the shining light for others struggling to find their voice. Showing them that you can thrive with your condition is the best type of education we can provide to our families.

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