Is eating out off the table? Are all gyms and hotels a no-go?

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Cafe Lokal in Vancouver features new dividers and lower occupancy

A new study of COVID-19 dynamics generated a flurry of scary headlines regarding the risks associated with restaurants, gyms, and hotels.

“Covid Superspreader Risk Is Linked to Restaurants, Gyms, Hotels” Bloomberg News

Should you never eat out, go to the gym, or stay in hotel, until we are all vaccinated?

It pays to dig a little more deeply and see how this study applies to your context.

What was the study?

The study, published in Nature in November 2020, was called: Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening. It describes a model of how COVID-19 spreads that incorporates data on where people spent time. …


How do the leading plant-based burgers stack up on taste, environment, and health?

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With the launch of Impossible Burger in Canada, Beyond burger has tough competition. Photo: White Spot

Next-generation veggie burgers are taking off in a big way, with Impossible burger and Beyond burger leading the pack. Both plant-based patties mimic the taste and texture of meat, and promise fewer downsides than the real deal.

Which burger is best?

Let’s see how the plant-based leaders compare to each other, and to beef, across taste, environment, and health.

Taste

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Next-generation veggie burgers can be as indulgent as you want. (Beyond Meat)

Both Beyond and Impossible burgers are excellent ground beef imposters, offering similar taste, texture, and even a bit of sizzle. They are nothing like a traditional bean, rice or mushroom-based patty.

Which plant-based patty is the most realistic?

Most journalists (e.g. Today.com) have reported that Impossible has an edge when it comes to meatiness; my own informal testing of (non-vegan) family members reached the same conclusion. …


Should you pack your bags? What does the evidence say?

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Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

On the surface, air travel seems like a recipe for COVID-19 disaster — a bunch of strangers packed like sardines into a small space, sharing the same smelly air. Yet, recent news headlines and government policies, suggest that in-flight risks may be smaller than feared.

“Flying can be safer than grocery shopping, Harvard study asserts”. CNN

Is COVID-19 truly not spreading on board airplanes? Or, are industry and government agencies downplaying the risks associated with travel, for economic reasons? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

How likely is it that I will get COVID-19 from flying?

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Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash

Boarding an airplane clearly increases your “exposure risk” — the risk that you will be exposed to someone with COVID-19 (see Appendix for sample calculation). Indeed, many public health agencies have mounted dashboards that publicly track in-flight exposures (eg.


An update on COVID-19 exposure and transmission risks

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Back to school in the new normal.

When elementary schools opened this fall, my family opted in. We felt that the small risk of COVID-19 was worth the huge benefits.

Yet, as we kissed our three monkeys goodbye, and returned home to a quiet house, our jubilation was tinged with trepidation.

We knew that our best efforts to estimate the back-to-school risks were crude at best. A month later, we have a much clearer picture of the risks we are all assuming — kids, families, and communities.

As a parent, my big concern is that my kids will get infected, and possibly spread it to others. This story shares what we have learned about exposure risk, transmission risk, and community spread, all of which can help you understand your own risk. …


Navigating COVID-19 testing in the midst of cold season.

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Last Friday, one of my three kids, a newly minted Kindergartener, developed a runny nose. Was it just a cold, or could it be COVID-19? This all-too-common occurrence kicked off our family’s first journey into COVID-19 testing.

To Test or Not to Test?

According to our provincial COVID-19 assessment guidelines, a runny nose alone isn’t enough to trigger testing or stay home from school.

To quote our BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry: “It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose,”. …


Public health data can help you understand risk – if you tread carefully!

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How many students per class? I’m waiting to find out…

This week, I’ll be sending three kids to Elementary school. In person. In a pandemic. The whole family is excited for a taste of normalcy. Yet, part of me wonders: am I crazy? Is this too risky?

Here in Vancouver, case numbers are far higher than they were in June, when schools re-opened during a blissful few weeks of single digit new cases.

Are the current numbers too high? According to our beloved public health leader, Dr. Bonnie Henry, “It’s going to be okay”. …


Breastfeeding is not a pancea. Parents deserve a nuanced look at the science.

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As a new mom, the “breast is best” message hits you loud and clear from all sides — health experts, friends, family, and random strangers. Breastfeeding is framed as the single most important thing a mother can do for her child.

Depending on who you ask, breastfeeding promises to deliver everything from fewer childhood infections, to lower rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer and asthma, to higher IQ. To cash in on these benefits, we are advised to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months, and to continue up to a year or longer.

See the breastfeeding guidelines and benefits promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Health Canada, & World Health Organization. …


We need more honest stories from moms in the trenches. Here’s mine.

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Blissful Earth Mom — Shutterstock

We are told that breastfeeding will be easy, blissful, and intoxicating. After all, it’s natural, right?

For some women, the experience matches the fairy tale. For many others, including yours truly, it most certainly did not.

For me, the pursuit of “liquid gold” for my three children was …messy. Yes, there was bliss, but there was also a steep pricetag, physically, mentally, emotionally, and more.

The current breastfeeding narrative is vastly disconnected from the realities of mothers like me. We expect ourselves — and other mothers — to endure limitless sacrifices for our little ones. To speak negatively about our experience is to complain, and be a bad mother. …


Boost your happiness with small daily practices

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Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

The pursuit of happiness is one of the best investments you can make. While our happiness is heavily shaped by the hand we are dealt (e.g. our genes, and socioeconomic rank), our fates are far from sealed.

Thanks to centuries of philosophy and psychology research, we have a solid understanding of how to make the most of the hand we are dealt.

This article shares a menu of simple, science-based happiness boosters. The fun part is trying them out, and figuring out which ones you can weave into your daily life. You can also keep this list in your back pocket and double-dip when you’re having a low day. …


Does more protein help you spare muscle and lose fat?

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How can we tip the balance towards fat, away from lean? Photo by David Hofmann on Unsplash

The holy grail of weight loss is shedding fat without losing any muscle. You may have heard that the solution to this delicate dance lies in downing tons of protein. Is this true?

It turns out that our bodies generally do a good job of tapping into our fat stores when we are in a calorie deficit. After all, that’s their raison d’être! On average, 70–90% of weight loss comes from body fat (a mix of visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissues). …

About

Chana Davis, PhD

Scientist (PhD Genetics @Stanford) * Mother * Passionate about science-based healthy choices * Lifelong learner * Founder: Fueled by Science

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