Health – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca News, entertainment and sports from Langara College journalism students Thu, 08 Apr 2021 18:28:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://www.langaravoice.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LOGO-100x100.png Health – The Langara Voice https://www.langaravoice.ca 32 32 Video: Online activity linked to an increase in eating disorders https://www.langaravoice.ca/video-online-activity-linked-to-an-increase-in-eating-disorders/ Wed, 24 Mar 2021 20:32:59 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=48379 By Meg McLachlan According to the National Initiatives for Eating Disorders in Canada (NIEDC), one in 10 Canadians with an eating disorder, will die from their illness. Langara Voice reporter Meg McLachlan speaks to Gaya Murthy, a long-time dietitian, about the spike in eating disorders during the pandemic and how programs like Zoom can contribute […]]]>

By Meg McLachlan

According to the National Initiatives for Eating Disorders in Canada (NIEDC), one in 10 Canadians with an eating disorder, will die from their illness.

Langara Voice reporter Meg McLachlan speaks to Gaya Murthy, a long-time dietitian, about the spike in eating disorders during the pandemic and how programs like Zoom can contribute to negative body perceptions.

We speak with Shaely Ritchey who explains her struggle and how our online activity is perpetuating negative eating patterns. Ritchey believes the pandemic has exasperated underlying mental health issues for those who struggle with disordered eating. 

In this video, learn how an increase in online activity can contribute to our eating habits. 

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Video: More research needed on foodborne transmission of the COVID-19 causing virus, scientist says https://www.langaravoice.ca/video-more-research-needed-on-foodborne-transmission-of-the-covid-19-causing-virus-scientist-says/ Wed, 24 Mar 2021 20:28:35 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=48358 By Emma Gregory The potential for foodborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 causing virus, has not been established. There has been research into this possibility, none of which rules out the possibility of food contamination or fecal oral transmission. Hamada Aboubakr is a postdoctoral research associate at the department of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at […]]]>

By Emma Gregory

The potential for foodborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 causing virus, has not been established.

There has been research into this possibility, none of which rules out the possibility of food contamination or fecal oral transmission.

Hamada Aboubakr is a postdoctoral research associate at the department of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. He and an associate, Sagar Goyal, submitted a paper for peer review in Sept. 2020, outlining the possibility for SARS-CoV-2 to spread via the fecal-oral route or via food.

The COVID causing virus satisfies their criteria for foodborne transmission, and they conclude that more research is needed into the possibility of this occurring.

Similar conclusions are put forward in a Nature Review paper published in Feb. 2021.

Food becomes a transmitter for viruses when it comes into contact with contaminated feces, often via untreated waste water, as explained in Aboubakr’s paper. This is not the same as the outside of food packaging becoming infected as a result of respiratory droplets.

There is an alternative explanation for enteric symptoms, like diarrhea and stomach upset, exhibited by COVID-19 patients. According to mucosal immunologist Lisa Osborne viral infection of the lungs can be spread to the intestines via the bloodstream.

That being said, according to farm veterinarian Philip Chris, the main route of zoonotic disease transmission from animals to humans is feces.

In this video, Hamada Aboubakr, Lisa Osborne, and Philip Chris discuss the routes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, enteric infection and zoonotic disease. 

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B.C. government tells post-secondary schools to prep for full return to campus this fall https://www.langaravoice.ca/b-c-government-tells-post-secondary-schools-to-prep-for-full-return-to-campus-this-fall/ Tue, 09 Mar 2021 02:51:28 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=48013 By Tyson Burrows The B.C. government on Monday told post-secondary institutions to prepare for a fall return to campus. Anne Kang, minister for advanced education and skills training, issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that the provincial health officer had advised the presidents of the province’s public colleges and universities. “I’m encouraged by Dr. (Bonnie) […]]]>

By Tyson Burrows

The B.C. government on Monday told post-secondary institutions to prepare for a fall return to campus.

Anne Kang, minister for advanced education and skills training, issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that the provincial health officer had advised the presidents of the province’s public colleges and universities.

“I’m encouraged by Dr. (Bonnie) Henry’s advice that a return to in-person instruction can be done safely for this fall for all students, staff and faculty,” Kang said.

Soon after, Langara president Lane Trotter announced to students that with this new information, “planning will be refined and finalized for fall registration to open on June 21.”

The announcements come almost a full year after post-secondary institutions were abruptly forced to shift to online teaching, a move that presented enormous challenges to students, instructors, administration and staff.

Over the past few semesters, a hybridized form of learning was born. Certain hands-on classes were allowed a limited return to campus, while all others remained solely web-based.

The change was welcomed by some students who saw benefits in distanced learning, and students abroad were able to continue working toward their education without hiatus. Other students found online education difficult due to new technologies, equipment required and distance from supports.

“We will not lose sight of those students who may have discovered an appreciation for the flexibility of online learning, or those who may not be able to arrive in Vancouver by September to start their studies in person,” Trotter said.

Trotter said that Langara, along with other post-secondary institutions across B.C., will be working with Dr. Henry to ensure a safe return to on-campus education.

Guidelines will be developed in partnership with the BC Centre for Disease Control, WorkSafeBC, the Provincial Health Office, student associations, labour representatives, Indigenous partners and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

Langara will be launching a brief survey Tuesday morning for students to help guide their planning.

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Fitness facility regulations leave less options to improve well-being https://www.langaravoice.ca/fitness-facility-regulations-leave-less-options-to-improve-well-being/ Thu, 03 Dec 2020 00:41:13 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=47142  By Catherine Mwitta Recent COVID-19 gym closures and restrictions have left some students and community members with limited options for maintaining physical and mental health. Some people have been suffering both physically and emotionally from increased time spent indoors, often as desks, combined with decreased time slots at the gym, and fewer options to exercise […]]]>

 By Catherine Mwitta

Recent COVID-19 gym closures and restrictions have left some students and community members with limited options for maintaining physical and mental health.

Some people have been suffering both physically and emotionally from increased time spent indoors, often as desks, combined with decreased time slots at the gym, and fewer options to exercise outside.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, regular physical activity can improve many aspects of mental and physical health, including cognition, cardiovascular health, stress, anxiety, and depression.

Langara student Kimberlyn Gacusan used to work out at the Langara Family YMCA. After the gym closed, she took on biking, but she said recently she no longer works-out outdoors due to the cold.

“Now that it’s colder [outside] it’s a lot harder to exercise.”

Less options and less motivation

Gacusan said without access to a gym, she feels the lack of work out equipment at her home, and the absence of peers around her.

“I don’t have all the equipment to use in comparison,” she said. “Before I had others to workout around me. [That] kind of motivates me to work out.”

Kathleen Emerson, program coordinator and kinesiology instructor at Langara College, said these recent closures are likely to affect some more than others.

It’s a measure of “how long can people function before they just start to feel too much lethargy,” said Emerson. “For some, if that’s going to the fitness class is the only thing that gets (people) out the door to be active, then they might struggle more.”

Langara men’s basketball player, Jas Dhuduwal, said that booking for gym time at his local recreation centre in Surrey is trickier than before.

“I only get an hour. You can’t do too much in an hour,” Dhuduwal said.

On Nov. 7, the B.C. government announced further COVID-19 restrictions on gyms, stating that fitness centres are no longer allowed to host group physical activities.

Less than two weeks later, the government extended those restrictions from their original set date of Nov. 23 till Dec. 7, declaring that citizens must wear masks while inside all public locations, including gyms.

Emerson said those who are regular exercisers will probably find something to do because they won’t be able to function well without that exercise routine.

“Because they’re missing out on that,” she said. “You know the positive drug that it gives them to be doing that regular physical activity.”

 

Free and low cost physical activity options in the Langara/South Vancouver area

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Voice Radio Ep. 22 – Cycling this winter and the strains of online classes https://www.langaravoice.ca/voice-radio-ep-22-cycling-this-winter-and-the-strains-of-online-classes/ Thu, 19 Nov 2020 21:08:25 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=47030 Produced by Ryan Ng, Veronika Khvoro and Jacob Van Luven Podcast editor Ryan Ng hosts this episode of The Voice Radio. To start, reporter Veronika Khvoro goes over the increase in bicycle demand this winter season as COVID-19 has more people avoid public transit. Then, reporter Jacob Van Luven details the physical strains that students […]]]>

Produced by Ryan Ng, Veronika Khvoro and Jacob Van Luven

Podcast editor Ryan Ng hosts this episode of The Voice Radio. To start, reporter Veronika Khvoro goes over the increase in bicycle demand this winter season as COVID-19 has more people avoid public transit. Then, reporter Jacob Van Luven details the physical strains that students may experience as classes have remained online this semester.

 

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New West students want more COVID-19 mental health support https://www.langaravoice.ca/new-west-students-want-more-covid-19-mental-health-support/ Wed, 07 Oct 2020 17:16:59 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=46703 By Joe Ayres Students are raising concerns over what they say is a lack of mental health support from the New Westminster School District during the COVID-19 pandemic. Four out of the district’s 12 schools have had COVID-19 exposures since the school year started on Sept. 10. To accommodate for increased stress and anxiety, the […]]]>

By Joe Ayres

Students are raising concerns over what they say is a lack of mental health support from the New Westminster School District during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four out of the district’s 12 schools have had COVID-19 exposures since the school year started on Sept. 10. To accommodate for increased stress and anxiety, the district hired an extra 1½ counsellors to the school full-time. This means there are seven counsellors at New Westminster Secondary School, a school of just over 2,000 students. 

The district’s COVID-19 health and safety plan mentions mental health just once when it notes that learning groups decrease the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

A screenshot of the school district’s health and safety plan describing benefits to learning groups.

“So they instated a new counsellor and that’s great. They didn’t do a lot to inform the students of how to reach her. A lot of people didn’t even know she was, like, an option or that she existed,” said Elena Massing, a Grade 11 student and activist at the school.

Massing, along with her peers, organized a student die-in at the New Westminster school board offices on Sept. 22. While the event was planned before the COVID-19 exposures occurred, Massing says that when the exposures were announced it only motivated more students to join. 

The students’ demands include increased funding for mental health support. This increased funding would go towards equal access to support for both remote and in-school students, training for teachers to give better emotional support, and more trained counsellors. 

“A number of the concerns [the student strike] raised are actually around decisions that rest with bodies outside of the school district,” said district superintendent Karim Hachlaf. “But, as it pertains to the pieces we can affect, we’ll continue to collaborate, listen and engage with all members of our community.”

A message written on the sidewalk in front of the New Westminster school board offices.

In 2019-2020 the district spent a total $646,579 on salaries for counsellors. However, in the 2020-2021 budget, released June 11, the district is spending $621,681 on salaries for counsellors. Hachlaf says that the district recognizes the additional stress created by the year and is expecting additional money from the federal government to add to the district’s counselling staff.

Dr. Ashley Miller, a clinical assistant professor in the child and adolescent psychiatry program at UBC, said: “The response of students will depend a lot on the response of the adults around them; the teachers, school staff and their parents. Exposure events are to be expected, and if these are handled with calm and kindness, students will likely manage them quite well.”

Massing said: “I feel like . . . students don’t feel safe with the safety measures that are being put in place. That kind of like contradicts any benefit that they might have received from face to face learning.”

Miller says students returning to school during the pandemic can cope with their anxiety by focusing on what they can control. This includes good hand hygiene, mask-wearing and helping a friend in need. At the same time, maintaining healthy routines outside of school like social distancing, healthy eating and exercise are all an important part of combating anxiety, she said. According to Miller, youth in the district should remember that with public health officials dealing with the pandemic there are many people working towards keeping students safe.

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Vancouver kombucha not symbiotic with new tax https://www.langaravoice.ca/kombucha_tax/ Thu, 05 Mar 2020 00:41:49 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=45744 Sales tax issues fermenting ahead of July 1, 2020 decision on sweetened carbonated beverages]]>

By Rui Yang Xu

Dan Larsen believes in the health benefits of kombucha but worries that new government categorization of the beverage is going to affect customers.

The government will implement a seven per cent sales tax July 1 on sweetened carbonated beverages. The goal is to encourage consumers to consider healthier alternatives, however it remains unclear whether beverages with purported health benefits like kombucha will fall under the new rule.

“It’s an insult to the industry,” said Larsen, owner of Vancouver-based Culture Craft Kombucha. “Our efforts are being negated by the government and aren’t being recognized.”

Larsen said kombucha is a tea beverage fermented with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, also known as a SCOBY or mother.

Photo by: Rui Yang Xu.

Another Vancouver-based brewer, Kristin Zerbin, who owns Hoochy ’Booch Kombucha, said anywhere from a quarter to half a cup of sugar is used in the fermentation process. The end result is that the sugar effectively becomes healthy amino acids, trace vitamins and minerals.

There are also other health benefits to the drink, Zerbin said.

“Kombucha adds beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora.”

While there are many purported health benefits to kombucha, Tanya Choy, a registered dietitian at UBC, said there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.

“All the studies that are relating to kombucha and improved health has been conducted in vitro [test-tube experiments] and it’s also on [non-human] animals.”

VANCOUVER, BC: MARCH 2 2020 — While already pricy, kombucha will become more expensive due to a seven per cent sales tax set to come into effect on July 1, 2020. Photo by: Rui Yang Xu.

Choy also said while most of the sugar that is used in the fermentation process becomes something else, some kombucha brewers still sweeten their drinks to counteract the acidity of the beverage.

“Some flavors contain enough sugar to make up for half a can of pop per cup,” Choy said.

If the seven per cent tax is applied to sales of kombucha, Larsen believes consumers will be the most upset.

“As a producer, I’m still going to get orders, people are still going to sell kombucha. This is something people value as part of their diet now.”

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Sexual health and awareness conference breaking taboos https://www.langaravoice.ca/sexual-health-and-awareness-conference-breaking-taboos/ Wed, 03 Apr 2019 01:15:37 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41982 Talking about sexual healing breaks a double taboo, according to Vancouver-based counsellor Lauren Shay. “We're both talking about sex and we're talking about abuse,” said Shay, who added that many people aren’t having either of these conversations with their friends and families.]]>

Reported by Jennifer Blake

Talking about sexual healing breaks a double taboo, according to Vancouver-based counsellor Lauren Shay.

“We’re both talking about sex and we’re talking about abuse,” said Shay, who added that many people aren’t having either of these conversations with their friends and families.

ConvergeCon, a gathering focusing on conversations about sexuality, interpersonal relationships and activism, took place at SFU Harbour Centre on March 30 to 31.

“Sexuality is such a core part of who we are,” said Gosen. “It’s so important and so many people are shamed for it.”

During ConvergeCon, Shay held a presentation titled Reclaiming Sexuality After Sexual Violence and Abuse.

Shay said the #MeToo movement allowed a lot of people to recognize things that happened to them that weren’t acceptable, things that many people had previously minimized or “pushed down.”

“More people are fully feeling and moving through their trauma, and also feeling validated about having not felt okay,” said Shay.

She said that many programs which help people survive their sexual trauma don’t provide people with what they need when they start to seek healing in their intimacy and sexuality.

“Our society as a whole, we have a lot of stigma when it comes to people who survived sexual violence going on to have desire,” said Shay.

Noah Jensen, who attended Shay’s presentation, said that he believes this discussion is important because victims of sexual abuse are in a vulnerable situation, but they still have the ability to reclaim sexuality.

“I think it’s really important that they learn it from a non-judgemental perspective that sex can be beautiful and it can be empowering,” said Jensen, who also mentioned the current culture of shame surrounding discussions of sexuality.

Shay said the best thing you can do as the friend of a sexual abuse survivor is to be the person who is safe and non-judgemental to talk to.

Kale Gosen, founder of the non-profit Vancouver Sex Positive Society and organizer of ConvergeCon, said this is the first event they’ve ever held at SFU. Gosen said that previously the event had been held at a hotel, but they had gotten in trouble for “talking about sex too much.”

 

 

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Doctors’ notes leave faculty at a loss https://www.langaravoice.ca/doctors-notes-leave-faculty-at-a-loss/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41560 Most doctors’ notes brought in by Langara students are authentic, yet some are forged by students looking to avoid exams or handing in assignments, according to a department chair.]]>

Reported by Rena Medow

Most doctors’ notes brought in by Langara students are authentic, yet some are forged by students looking to avoid exams or handing in assignments, according to a department chair.

And the lack of a definitive policy around doctors’ notes at the college has some instructors and students feeling at a loss.

“You start questioning the authenticity of all of them, because you start seeing runs of fake notes. That’s not really the kind of relationship that I want to have with my students and in my teaching,” said Melissa Roberts, criminal justice department chair.

Langara lacking policy

The college doesn’t have a policy for doctor’s notes, leaving each department to create their own practice around student absences, according to Maggie Ross, the director of student conduct and judicial affairs.

“Langara does give consideration to exceptional circumstances beyond a student’s control that significantly affect a student’s ability to meet requirements of a course,” Ross said. “Such circumstances may include those related to a student’s physical or psychological health verifiable and documented by an appropriate professional.”

Michele Bowers, the department chair of counselling, says Langara’s counselling services are always in high demand.

“Anxiety is probably the top reason why students book appointments with counselors,” Bowers said.

Bower said the forging of doctor’s notes is an issue that speaks to the complexity of student life.

One reason a student might forge a doctor’s note is because it is a service that is not covered by the BC Medical Services Plan. In the Doctors of BC fee guide, the recommended charge for a doctor’s note is $43.90.

Some departments in Langara don’t accept doctor’s notes at all, preferring the honour system.

“I have never agreed to even look at one of these notes. I usually tell students, quite pointedly, “that was a waste of money,” said Wayne Henry, a philosopher instructor.

Alternative to notes

The University of Calgary is one of several post-secondary institutions in Canada to implement statutory declaration forms as an alternative to doctor’s notes.

“Students were having trouble getting appointments during midterms and final exams because there were so many people just trying to get notes,” said Debbie Bruckner, the senior director of student wellness at the University of Calgary.

According to Bruckner, self-declaration forms have lifted the administrative toll on doctors, and students are happy with the new system.

 

Listen to some of the excuses students give for missing class at Langara:

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Health report says that Vancouverites don’t feel connected to their communities https://www.langaravoice.ca/health-report-says-that-vancouverites-dont-feel-connected-to-their-communities/ Wed, 13 Mar 2019 22:46:02 +0000 https://www.langaravoice.ca/?p=41386 Almost half of Vancouver’s residents don’t feel very connected to their city, don’t have a strong group of friends they can rely on, and report more mood and anxiety disorders than Metro Vancouver on average.]]>

Reported by Kirsten Clarke

Almost half of Vancouver’s residents don’t feel very connected to their city, don’t have a strong group of friends they can rely on and report more mood and anxiety disorders than Metro Vancouver on average.

That’s what researchers found when they went out to assess the health of the Lower Mainland and province’s population, asking residents how they would describe their sense of belonging, and how many people they have in their network to rely on.

Health officials say those results are key to understanding the relationship between social connection and health.

“Those in our community that are socially isolated have a 50-per-cent increased risk of all-cause mortality,” said regional epidemiologist Ellen Demlow. That’s a more negative effect than obesity or smoking 20 cigarettes per day.

People who are highly socially connected have a 50-per-cent increased chance of longevity, said Demlow, who presented the survey at Friday’s Metro Vancouver regional planning committee meeting, with the aim of helping directors understand the importance of social connection and social cohesion in local community planning.

The survey found that Bowen Island, the North Shore and Delta ranked the highest in terms of social connection, while people’s sense of community belonging in the majority of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond fell below average.

Only 54 per cent of Vancouver residents feel a connection to their community, landing below the regional average of 56 per cent.

People with high social connections, said Demlow, have stronger immunity, lower rates of anxiety and depression, and greater self-esteem.

The survey also found that projects that directly affect the landscape of a community can be extremely beneficial to someone’s sense of belonging, Demlow said. If there were parks and walking trails in their community, people reported a higher level of social connection. But if people saw others using those public spaces, that connection grew stronger.

The authority’s survey received 33,000 responses when it was sent out in 2013 and 2014. About 15,000 of those were within the boundaries of Vancouver Coastal Health.

“If you’re struggling and you’re feeling disconnected, that’s a huge deal just to feel part of a neighbourhood and a community regardless of how long you’ve been there.”

Neal Lamontagne, Vancouver city planner

One local organization has seen the difference that community belonging makes.

“What I have seen, again and again, is someone who’s feeling lonely, comes here, makes connections, makes friends and they seem pretty happy. It does seem to make a huge difference in their lives,” said Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Collingwood has established a reputation as the neighbourhood house that works to give residents the ability to improve their neighbourhood culturally, socially and physically, said Gray-Grant. Groups have planted gardens together, hosted block parties and come together to make button blankets. Inter-generational groups, with members aged eight to 80, have learned and practised knitting together.

“It’s through those small discussions and projects that people begin to make a friend and get a sense of belonging in their neighbourhood,” said Gray-Grant.

The importance of community belonging, with data to back it up, is becoming an increasingly important factor in city planning, said Neal Lamontagne, a Vancouver city planner.

It’s only in the past five or 10 years, said Lamontagne, that mental health has played a part in the community-planning process.

Lamontagne wants to make communities that encourage interaction. Even casual social links, like waving to your neighbour, or recognizing someone at your local grocery store, are important.

“If you’re struggling and you’re feeling disconnected, that’s a huge deal just to feel part of a neighbourhood and a community regardless of how long you’ve been there,” he said.

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