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photo of the week by miki kucevic

photo of the week by miki kucevic

Americans traveling abroad are warned “Don’t drink the water,” but it appears that immigrants coming to the U.S. should be warned “Don’t eat the food.” Michael Pollan gives the best overview that I’ve read of a very important and often overlooked part of our health. Jen Fulwiler lays out six great questions to use when making decisions. A contemporary evangelical Christian take on the ten books everyone should read by the time they’re 25 (it seems I have some catching up to do). And a wonderful short film of “Little Red Riding Hood” – in French. (Both of my only-English-speaking-if-that children loved it.)

:: The Health Toll of Immigration (New York Times)

Becoming an American can be bad for your health.

A growing body of mortality research on immigrants has shown that the longer they live in this country, the worse their rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And while their American-born children may have more money, they tend to live shorter lives than the parents.

The pattern goes against any notion that moving to America improves every aspect of life. It also demonstrates that at least in terms of health, worries about assimilation for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants are mistaken. In fact, it is happening all too quickly.

“There’s something about life in the United States that is not conducive to good health across generations,” said Robert A. Hummer, a social demographer at the University of Texas at Austin.

:: Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (Michael Pollan, New York Times)

Our resident microbes work to keep pathogens from gaining a toehold by occupying potential niches or otherwise rendering the environment inhospitable to foreigners. The robustness of an individual’s gut community might explain why some people fall victim to food poisoning while others can blithely eat the same meal with no ill effects.

Our gut bacteria also play a role in the manufacture of substances like neurotransmitters (including serotonin); enzymes and vitamins (notably Bs and K) and other essential nutrients (including important amino acid and short-chain fatty acids); and a suite of other signaling molecules that talk to, and influence, the immune and the metabolic systems. Some of these compounds may play a role in regulating our stress levels and even temperament: when gut microbes from easygoing, adventurous mice are transplanted into the guts of anxious and timid mice, they become more adventurous. The expression “thinking with your gut” may contain a larger kernel of truth than we thought.

:: Six questions for conquering crazy-think and making good decisions (Conversion Diary)

Whenever I’ve started going down a path that introduced tension, resentment, or other bad vibes into the family, it’s always turned out to be the wrong decision. This isn’t to be confused with short-term sacrifices that may be difficult, like when Joe was studying for the CPA exam and it was super stressful at times but we were both ultimately on the same page about it; it’s more about choices that fundamentally put you at odds with your spouse or your kids. Over and over again, I’ve found that if a call you hear is really from God (and not just your own selfish desires doing their best imitation of the Holy Spirit), one sure sign is that it will ultimately end up strengthening your work in your primary vocation.

:: 10 Books Everyone Should Read by 25-ish (Relevant Magazine)

A good book changes us. The right words speak out what we have hidden in the deepest of places. A good book lifts our eyes beyond the ordinary and shifts our perspective. A phrase or a word picture or a story immediately lodges into our long-term memory, and somehow becomes our phrase, picture, story. But good words – they stick with us. A good book changes us.

This is the power of good words—they are perspective-shifting, heart-understanding, life-changing. So what’s a must-read good book in the midst of the millions of options? Here we humbly offer our top ten books (with our own subtitles) that can change your life by age 25.

:: Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Olive Us)

It’s a familiar story, so you should be able to follow along (and we know you’ll love the visuals no matter what). If you are interested, we have also posted the text in English and French here. It is based on a version Grandpa Blair tells. (We think this might be the most enjoyable way to study French).