SpaghettiOs: Salve for the Human Heart

Though we usually don’t think of canned pasta as health food, for one Massachusetts mom SpaghettiOs have calmed both her and her autistic daughter’s souls during the pandemic. Because her autistic daughter’s routine has been so sorely interrupted it is the only food she will eat and it has been in short supply during the pandemic.

While many went crazy buying toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Crystal MacDonald had just one product she needed to find: SpaghettiOs. Her daughter, Ashlyn, is mostly nonverbal and the 11-year-old has taken comfort during the pandemic in SpaghettiOs with meatballs.

MacDonald believes that because food is a more intense experience for her daughter than the average person that the SpaghettiOs are the only food with the right balance of texture and flavor she could handle. Without her routine, which is vital to her daughter’s and many other autistic people’s mental health, she couldn’t handle eating other foods. MacDonald believes the predictability of taste and texture bring Ashlyn a sense of control in these troubling times.

When local stores ran dry MacDonald spent her time calling or visiting up to 20 out of the way stores each day. Eventually she took her quest to social media and the Sun Chronicle eventually featured MacDonald in a August piece about food shortages amidst the pandemic.

MacDonald has already received hundreds of cans in support and the Campbell’s Soup Company has now heard of her story and is committed to sending MacDonald and Ashlynd a one-year supply of the calming SpaghettiOs.

 

Viewpoints: Do Blood Pressure Medications Pose a Risk for Mood Disorders?

Studies have noted that depression can raise the risk of heart disease and can also make recovery from cardiovascular diseases more difficult than normal. Similar bodies of past research have also shown that blood pressure medications themselves may increase the risk of depression.

A new report, however, by the American Heart Association found that this does not seem to be the case.

The new study published in the journal titled Hypertension found that not one of the forty-one leading medications used to treat high blood pressure increased risk of depression. And the study even found that nine of the medications might actually lower the risk of depression in patients.

The authors wrote in the study that both results were “highly surprising.”

Research from 2016 noted that blood pressure meds that we call calcium antagonists and those we call beta-blockers might lead to higher risk of hospital admissions for mood disorders.

The same study reported that angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers might be associated with a lower risk for mood disorders.

The authors of the 2016 study wrote that cardiovascular meds, depending on the medication, might lower or heighten the risk of mood disorders. However, the new researcher seems to suggest only the latter is true.

 

A New Poll Investigates How Pets Help Us During the Pandemic

According to a new study 70% of people who spent a lot of time with their pets during the pandemic feel like they know them much better.

Many recorded behavioral changes in their pets, 60% in fact. 27% said their pet’s behavior improved while 17% claimed it had gotten worse. The study found that during the pandemic 36% percent had more active pets, 31% thought they were acting needy, and 27% of people reported they had trouble going up or down stairs while 26% of those polled reported behavior based in curiosity.

With the incredible increase in pet adoptions and people spending lots of time at home it is probably no great surprise that almost 3/4th of those polled (72%) said that they wouldn’t have gotten through stay at home orders with out their pets.

The survey polled 2,000 dog and cat owners of which 81% said their pets helped keep their morale up. They said the rocky period made them feel closer to their pets.

However, these pet owners are now concerned about their furry pals when they go back to work and to life. 70% reported that they thought their pets liked the extra time their owners were at home and it has 66% worried their pets won’t react well to them not being around as much.

56% of people say they plan to stay home more to lessen the sudden shock to their pets if they had suddenly returned to their normal lives. About 33% said they plan to take their pets with them more often when the leave and almost half (42%) said they would continue to work from home after the pandemic.

 

How to Make Salad Healthier With Homemade Dressing

Have you ever read the rather long list of ingredients in most of the dressing you buy in a store? Between the colorings and the unnecessary flavorings and the ingredients used for preserving, most of them just don’t need to be in them. Low fat and no fat store bought dressings also have lots of added sugar you can avoid. It’s fairly simple to make a vinaigrette right at home.

Here is a simple Orange Poppyseed Dressing that we have made and love!
Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb honey (optional to taste)
2 Tb white wine vinegar
1 tsp poppy seeds

Mix first four ingredients with a whisk. Whisk in poppyseeds.
Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

You can experiment with other citrus such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine. You can adjust the sweetness with honey.

Remember that olive oil in the refrigerator will solidify so you will need to take out the dressing a little earlier to bring it back to room temperature.

Robotic Pets Offered as Solution to Senior Loneliness

Isolation has been a big part of stopping the spread of Covid-19 and those many of those most vulnerable to the illness, as we know, are the elderly. Their isolation often has come at the cost of loneliness due to social distancing.

As the US finds itself in the eighth month of fighting Covid-19 and there still being restrictions on nursing home visitation in some places, advocates for the elderly are trying to find creative ways to help decrease loneliness in seniors due to lack of social contact.

The Alabama Department of Senior Services has piloted a program to provide seniors with very lifelike robotic pets. One Alabama senior simply used the word “Pretty” to describe the robotic companion she was provided. According to officials it is the first word this senior has uttered in a long time.

In Alabama, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania state agencies have partnered with Ageless Innovations to combat loneliness by providing companionship and comfort through lifelike robotic pets for seniors.

Joy for All Companion Pets are made to look, feel and sound like real pets in an attempt to create a solution that is all benefit and little downside (no need for medical care, feeding, training etc).

In New York state agencies reported that 70% of pilot participants reported a decrease in isolation after one year of owner a Joy for All Companion Pet.