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Quick Reads about Wellness
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9 min read

Ingenious: Jack Gilbert: The professor of surgery explains how health emerges from a healthy microbiome.

When I ask Jack Gilbert about the future of medicine, he tells me what he recommends to his graduate students before they head into surgery, “When you go to cut someone open, you don’t just have one patient on the gurney. You have 40 trillion patients, and you have to think of how your actions are going to affect them.” Those trillions of patients are microorganisms, communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and in some unhappy cases—pathogens. But they’re not all free riders. A growing body of research is making the case that the microscopic creatures in our gut, ears, mouth, and on our skin—t
Popular Science
6 min read

Why Doctors Are Still Studying JFK’s Chronic Back Pain

John F. Kennedy on February 20, 1961. Public domain. John F. Kennedy was known for his youth and energy, but in the decades since his death we’ve realized that there was more to the story: The 35th President of the United States actually battled an impressive collection of medical problems. Among these was agonizing back pain that led Kennedy to undertake four surgeries. “This pain affected him nearly continually from his undergraduate years at Harvard until the day of his assassination,” a pair of physicians wrote earlier this month in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. They have examined Ke
The New York Times
8 min read

An Ancient Cure for Alzheimer's?

This article is accompanied by an illustration by Eleanor Davis that is available at no charge to clients of The New York Times Op-Ed service. In 2011, Ben Trumble emerged from the Bolivian jungle with a backpack containing hundreds of vials of saliva. He had spent six weeks following indigenous men as they tramped through the wilderness, shooting arrows at wild pigs. The men belonged to the Tsimane people, who live as our ancestors did thousands of years ago — hunting, foraging and farming small plots of land. Trumble had asked the men to spit into vials a few times a day so that he could map