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100 years ago, a train carrying Spanish flu pulled into Calgary. Within weeks, Alberta was in crisis

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Exactly one century ago, the Spanish flu was sweeping through Alberta, and Edna Traunweiser felt she had to do something to help.

Her only brother was one of about 6,000 Albertans who had been killed on the front lines of the war. He died in spring 1918.

The 29-year-old Calgarian had some training as a nurse but had yet to graduate. Still, she registered to help ailing soldiers at Sarcee camp hospital, located north of the Elbow River in what’s now Signal Hill.

Within one week, she’d contracted the illness. Within two weeks, she had pneumonia, and was buried a day after the war’s end.

“It killed nearly as many Canadians as the First World War did,” said Janice Dickin, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. “But when you start looking at histories of the country, they will go on and on and tell you about what happened in the war, but you get one line for the flu epidemic.”

While people in the prime of their lives were the main victims of both the war and the flu, the war primarily claimed young men. Women (mainly volunteer nurses and expectant mothers), Indigenous people, and members of the working class were hit hard by influenza.

4,000 Albertans died, 38,000 fell ill

Traunweiser’s grave is one of 384 in Calgary, and more than 4,000 across the province, each marking a victim of the Spanish influenza between 1918 and 1920.

Alberta had a population of just about 500,000 at the time. More than 38,000 fell ill — about 13 per cent of the population back then.

Those are just the recorded cases — some historians estimate the death toll may be even higher.

This photo, published in the Calgary Herald on Oct. 24, 1918, shows staff at the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Calgary wearing masks during the Spanish influenza epidemic. To try and slow the outbreak, the province ruled people must wear masks outside their homes. (Glenbow Archives)

As much as five per cent of the global population is estimated to have died from the flu, far more than the number of people who died in the war.

“[Traunweiser’s] death coming so soon after the loss of her brother is an almost insupportable grief to her parents,” read an article from the Calgary Herald, reproduced in the Grand Forks Sun in 1918. “The death … will come as a great shock to a large number of friends with whom Miss Traunweiser was very popular.”

Historian Harry Sanders visited Traunweiser’s grave in Calgary’s Union Cemetery on Armistice Day — now known as Remembrance Day — to pay his respects and see if anybody had placed a stone to remember her by.

“You go there, and you can read it’s the Traunweiser family plot, but nothing marks her grave,” he said.

Edna Traunweiser, who died after contracting the Spanish influenza while working as a volunteer nurse in November 1918, is buried here in her family plot in Calgary’s Union Cemetery. (Sarah Rieger/CBC)

The flu, which was a strain of H1N1, first appeared in Alberta a little more than a month before Traunweiser’s death.

Troops were being mobilized to join the Siberian Expeditionary Force.

Sick soldiers, returning from the front, encountered healthy ones who were boarding trains headed for Vancouver to depart for Russia.

Train travel enabled the illness to spread across crowded barracks and hospitals in a matter of days, wrote historian Mark Humphries, in a book on the impact of the First World War and the Spanish influenza on Canadians.

The name was a misnomer. Spain wasn’t participating in the war, so its press was freer to report details about the number of people impacted by the pandemic than countries that didn’t want to let their enemies know exactly how many of their soldiers and citizens were sick or dying, according to the American College of Physicians.

The first train carrying the virus pulled into Calgary at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, 1918, and 12 soldiers were removed and quarantined at Sarcee camp, Humphries wrote. 

Two days later, the province’s health board met for the first time to declare a plan for the developing epidemic.

Women managed the crisis

“Both professional female nurses and volunteers now took the lead role in managing the crisis at the level of home and community,” wrote Humphries.

He quotes one nurse, who said, “It is dangerous — undoubtedly. So is overseas service; yet that did not hinder enlisting to any large extent. It would be better to have the flu than to carry through life the uneasy feeling that by your indifference you allowed some other woman to die.”

“Particularly at that time disease was women’s work, and it still is women’s work,” Dickin said. “None of that stuff is valued in this culture.”

Nurses and teachers working as volunteer nurses during the Spanish flu epidemic at an isolation hospital in Lloydminster in 1918. (Glenbow Archives)

Those struck by the illness were those impacted by the city’s rapid urbanization, living in “cramped, slum-like conditions,” wrote Sanders in a column about the epidemic.

Many were young mothers, some whose husbands had left for the war.

“If you know the dates of the flu epidemic, you could look in Calgary cemeteries and often you will find a woman and she is buried with a child,” said Dickin.

“You just have to assume what that would do to a population of losing young mothers.”

By January 1919, the city’s children’s shelter had filled with dozens of orphans, including six from one family.

First Nations were decimated

If Calgarians were hit hard, those living on reserves were hit harder.

Hobbema — now Maskwacis — was devastated. More than 12 per cent of the population died. 

Humphries wrote that a Royal North-West Mounted Police (now RCMP) investigation at the time found Indian agents were placing First Nations families in quarantine, then refusing to feed them.

Within a few weeks, the government and officials, like Calgary’s medical health officer Cecil Mahood, were scrambling to come up with a solution, as makeshift hospitals filled with otherwise healthy people, many aged 20 to 40, who fell rapidly ill.

Public places like schools and theatres were closed in some cities and towns, and hours were restricted.

“Since the flu would inevitably spread, the major efforts of Mahood, his small health department and the many volunteers, were aimed at simple relief of the symptoms, keeping the sufferer comfortable until recovery or death, and to slowing down the spread of the flu as much as possible,” wrote Dickin in an article on the epidemic.

‘Horrifying’

“It’s horrifying to think of it. These are places that we know and here was a time when you might die, you might drop dead in public as some did,” said Sanders.

Calls for female nurses, female drivers to ferry the volunteers on their rounds, and female cooks for soup kitchens to supply quarantined and bedridden patients, were made almost daily in Calgary’s paper.

“Men seem to have largely escaped being persuaded, impressed, or shamed into volunteerism. There are several reasons for this, the obvious being that many men were overseas with the army … but another reason existed: the epidemic was seen as a chance for women to do their bit for the war and for civilization,” Dickin wrote.

Residents of a small Alberta town recall their deadly brush with 1918’s Spanish flu. 6:09

One volunteer nurse — who had no formal training other than a first aid certificate — described the fear as she left Calgary for Drumheller’s makeshift hospital.

“Word that I was going to Drumheller spread through the coach. People stood up to get a glimpse of me — but they kept their distance. Their fear of the disease was so great that they wouldn’t even pass by my seat to go to the washroom,” wrote Gertrude Charters in a 1966 issue of Maclean’s magazine, recounting her experience as a young woman in October 1918.

“When we arrived at the school we found 32 men on those low couches. Six men had died in the night … even as a man was dying, another was waiting to occupy his bed.”

Masks made mandatory

By the end of October, the province ruled everyone must wear face masks outside their home to stop the spread of the disease, loitering was banned and police were given the authority to quarantine people if deemed necessary.

“There’s a well-known photograph taken in Calgary on Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day, which was a joyous day in Calgary. And you can see that people are not wearing their masks and authorities … let them get away with it that day,” Sanders said.

Calgarians celebrate Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, with a victory parade at city hall. Many in the crowd wore masks, as the Spanish influenza epidemic was sweeping through the city. However, police didn’t strongly enforce the rule that everyone must wear masks at public gatherings during the celebration. (Glenbow Archives)

Doctors worked to develop a vaccine, but the science was still in its infancy, and doctors focused on inoculating people against bacteria caused by the flu, instead of the viral H1N1 strain. It would be decades before the country would be able to sequence the vaccine and make it available free of charge to Canadians.

Ineffective as they were, the first doses were also came too late — not being distributed until the epidemic was already beginning to peak.

In some cases, the attempt to distribute vaccines hurt more than helped.

“They were so clueless that they were trying to take some of the vaccines to the Inuit populations in the Northwest Territories,” said Dickin. “But the same police that were bringing in the vaccine were bringing in the disease.”

Schools and other public buildings reopened in December after the Christmas holiday, leading to another wave of the illness sweeping through in 1919. It resurfaced again in 1920.

‘A sad postscript’

In 1922, Dr. Mahood’s wife Ina died from influenza.

“It’s just kind of a sad postscript,” said Sanders.

The pandemic had a lasting impact on the country’s health care, as it was one of the factors that led to the creation of a federal department of health.

In the 1930s, researchers finally established the pandemic had been caused by a virus and not bacteria, leading to the introduction of the first seasonal flu vaccines, which were introduced in Alberta in 1943. An H1N1 vaccine wasn’t released until much later, in 2009. 

Men in Alberta wear masks, likely made of cheesecloth and twine, during the Spanish influenza epidemic. (Library and Archives Canada / PA-025025)

The last major H1N1 pandemic hit Canada in 2009, with more than 1,600 cases in Alberta and 71 deaths. Researchers don’t know when the next global pandemic will hit, but it’s a common refrain among scientists to say it’s a question of “not if, but when” another will hit.

Seasonal flu also continues to be a danger. According to the latest data available from Alberta Health Services, as of Dec. 20, 15 Albertans have died so far this flu season, 741 have been admitted to hospital with lab-confirmed influenza and there are 3,806 recorded cases in total.

By that time, 1,162,696 doses of influenza vaccine had been administered province-wide.

It’s a stark difference to a century ago.

“Here, at a time when there are people who won’t get their shots or won’t even get inoculations for their children, we’re talking about a time when the authorities … could arrest you for not wearing a mask in public,” said Sanders. 

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Researchers warn about the severe psychological distress caused by eating junk food

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(Natural News) Does junk food make you sad? While the current state of the American food industry is more than enough to make anyone feel depressed, new research from Loma Linda University demonstrates a link between junk-laden diets and psychological distress. Based on their findings, it appears that what you eat can and does affect your mental health — and that the prepackaged garbage peddled as “food” can have a seriously deleterious effect on your emotional well-being.

Even after adjusting for other external factors, the scientists found this relationship held steady: The more junk food a person ate, the more distress they reported feeling. When you consider the physiological effects junk food has on the body, it is no wonder that people report feeling like they are more distressed: They are in distress, they just don’t know it’s because of what the “food” they’re eating is doing to them on the inside.

Estimates suggest that the average American gets 60 percent of their daily calories from processed or junk food. Junk food consumption is a widespread problem here in the United States. Now, there are questions about whether or not junk food is a driving force in the plague of insanity (and stupidity) striking the U.S.

Scientists link junk food to poor mental health

Published in the journal International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in early 2019, a study from Loma Linda University scientists finds a link between poor diet and poor mental health. Even after adjusting for external factors such as gender, age, education and income level, the association between junk food intake and mental illness remained.

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Study leader Jim E. Banta, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor at the school, says that their conclusions support the findings of previous research. To conduct their study, Banta and his team looked at data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The scientists used 240,000 phone surveys conducted by CHIS between 2005 and 2015, and included data on socio-demographics, health status and health behaviors.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavorial medicine,” Banta said of the findings.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction,” he added.

The fact that scientists in the 21st century are only now just beginning to even consider the possibility of a relationship between nutrition and mental health is truly disturbing. Natural health practitioners have long been aware of the importance of good nutrition for total well-being, including mental state.

Is poor nutrition turning America insane?

Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known cause of depression. B vitamins, iron, selenium and magnesium also support good mental health and deficiencies in these nutrients can also cause depression and anxiety. There is a growing body of research which strongly supports poor nutrition as a causative factor not only in depression, but in other mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and more.

For example, Dr. Banta notes that some research has linked high sugar consumption to bipolar disorder, while fried foods and processed grains are linked to depression. There is no ignoring the link between diet and disease — whether it is of the body or of the mind makes no difference.

Nearly 60 percent of the American population’s diet comes from disease-causing food, and it is hard not to wonder if obesity, heart disease and death aren’t the only problems being caused by junk food diets.

Are the increasingly insane leftists just running around in a nutrient-deprived, sugar-spiked frenzy? Whether you’re talking about the inanity of “social justice” score-keeping or the rapid acceptance of censorship to silence conservatives, it’s clear that the far left is missing a few bolts upstairs. A diet of GMOs, pesticides and toxic food additives will do that to you, though.

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Eat healthier to improve your physical and mental well-being

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(Natural News) The physical health and mental well-being of a person depend a lot on nutrition and the food that he eats. Diet also influences the risk of developing chronic diseases. While the relationship between physical health and diet is well-understood, little is known about how diet and its quality influence the development of mental disorders. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany investigated the behavioral effects of a Western diet on pattern separation – the process of keeping items distinct in memory. They discovered that a diet consisting of increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids (Western diet) harms memory. The results of their study were published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

The Western diet impairs pattern separation

In this study, researchers investigated the utility of spatial separation – a behavioral process associated with the hippocampus – in the assessment of dietary interventions and the behavioral effects of the transgenerational administration of a Western diet on pattern separation. Pattern separation is the process of keeping items distinct in memory and is mediated by the hippocampus. Previous studies have suggested that there is a relationship between hippocampal function and diet quality in both humans and animals.

To examine the association between them, the researchers used rats, feeding over seven generations a diet containing increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids. This diet composition is characteristic of a diet known as the Western diet. The researchers administered it transgenerationally because previous studies have shown that interventional diets need to be implemented over several generations to induce behavioral effects.

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They compared the spatial pattern separation (or local discrimination) performance of these animals with that of rats fed a standard diet. For the test, they presented the rats two locations and allowed them to learn across trials to respond to the correct location. During spatial discrimination training, they designated a location as the correct one and rewarded the rats if they touched the correct location. They reversed the correct and incorrect locations every time the rats successfully got the correct ones nine times out of 10 trials.

The researchers found a separation-dependent difference between the standard and Western diet groups in the number of discriminations performed in the pattern separation task. The rats fed with a Western diet performed fewer discriminations. Rats with lesions in the dorsal hippocampus showed impaired pattern separation when the locations were close together but not when they were far apart. The researchers associated this impairment with hippocampal dysfunctioning. Their results align with previous studies which demonstrated that consumption of a Western diet impaired cognitive functions, damaged brain regions, and contributed to the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. Their results confirmed that pattern separation could be negatively affected by transgenerational administration of a Western diet.

The researchers concluded that spatial pattern separation can help detect the effects of dietary interventions and that the Western diet can impair pattern separation.

How to make your diet healthier

A healthy diet can provide many benefits, the most important of which is the prevention of chronic diseases. Here are some things that you can do to make your diet healthier:

  • Eat slowly
  • Choose whole grains
  • Add probiotics to your diet
  • Increase your protein intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid frying food and eating fast food
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Try new and healthy recipes
  • Eat vegetables first before every meal
  • Eat fruits instead of drinking them
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop drinking sweetened beverages
  • Get adequate sleep

Eating healthier and becoming aware of your nutritional needs will not only improve your physical health, but these will also benefit your mental and emotional well-being.

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Apples: Eat them to keep the doctor away – and boost stem cell therapy

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(Natural News) There is some truth behind the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are superfoods, and they are good sources of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and boost the immune system. They also contain dietary fiber, which is good for digestion and the maintenance of gut microbiota. But there is more to apples than just being healthy, antioxidant fruits. In a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research, researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea showed the beneficial effect of apple extracts on the proliferation of adult stem cells. They also identified the possible molecular mechanisms underlying apple’s pro-proliferative effects.

Apple ethanol extracts can enhance the proliferation of stem cells useful for tissue regeneration

Tissue regeneration using adult stem cells (ASCs) has significant potential in the treatment of many degenerative diseases. It also provides a promising means of repairing chronic tissue or organ failure due to injuries, congenital defects, and aging. Stem cells are essential in regenerative medicine because they can be used directly in cell replacement therapies. However, studies on their application in clinical settings suggest that age negatively affects the proliferation status and differentiation potential of ASCs. This presents a possible limitation in their therapeutic use.

In the hopes of addressing this limitation, researchers turned their attention to the pro-proliferative activity of apples. Apples are rich sources of valuable phytochemicals that are known to be beneficial to human health. They possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anticancer activities. These antioxidants can help maintain human cells and protect them from harmful oxidation products. In addition, apples contain metabolites that could ensure longevity and increase the number of human cells in culture. (Related: Apples could hold key for increasing lifespan.)

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Because of this, researchers hypothesized that apple extracts might exert beneficial effects on ASCs. They obtained apple extracts using ethanol as the extraction solvent and tested these on human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) and human cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CB-MSCs). They also used 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and Click-iT 5-ethynyl-2?-deoxyuridine flow cytometry assays to evaluate the pro-proliferative effects of the extracts.

The researchers found that treatment with apple extracts promoted the proliferation of ADSCs and CB-MSCs. Apple extracts also induced the stepwise phosphorylation of p44/42 MAPK (ERK), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), S6 ribosomal protein (S6RP), eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4B, and eIF4E in ADSCs. p44/42 MAPK (ERK) is a signaling pathway involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Inhibition of this pathway results in cell apoptosis. mTOR is a key signaling node that coordinates cell cycle progression and cell growth. p70S6K is a cytokine that regulates cell growth by inducing protein synthesis. eIFs, on the other hand, are proteins or protein complexes involved in translation and protein biosynthesis.

The researchers also reported that apple extracts significantly induced the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in both ADSCs and CB-MSCs. VEGF is a potent angiogenic factor, which means it promotes the formation of blood vessels. VEGF also plays a role in other physiological functions, such as hematopoiesis, wound healing, and development. IL-6 is a promoter of proliferation. The researchers further confirmed that the apple extract-induced proliferation of ADSCs under serum-free conditions is mediated by ERK-dependent cytokine production because when they pre-treated cells with PD98059, a specific ERK inhibitor, it inhibited the phosphorylation of the mTOR/p70S6K/S6RP/eIF4B/eIF4E pathway.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that extracts from apples are potent pro-proliferative agents, and the beneficial effect of apple extract on the proliferation of ASCs may overcome the limitation in their therapeutic use in tissue regeneration.

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