Thursday, 28 December 2006

Coming to a supermarket near you: clones!

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After what has been deemed suitable testing, the FDA is ready to to give the green light and allow meat and milk from cloned animals into the food supply. Two separate studies found no nutritional differences between the meat and milk from cloned animals and animals bred conventionally. Since the FDA can not address ethical or moral concerns, they appear to have no reason to say no.

But ethical and moral reasons are just one issue that opponents are raising. Citing that cloning poses significant risk to mother and newborn, as well as food safety issues, the Center for Food Animal Safety filed a petition this week seeking regulation of cloned animals. I think this is an important point, because if FDA approval goes forward as planned, products from these animals won't be labeled and consumers will have no way of knowing if they are eating them or not.

Speaking of consumers, a survey found that 60% of Americans were opposed to using cloned animals for food. That's probably why the International Dairy Foods Association is one of the biggest opponents of the issue. Concerned the wholesome image of milk and other dairy products will be tarnished, the association represents some of the biggest names in dairy -- Kraft, Dannon, and General Mills among them.

Continue reading Coming to a supermarket near you: clones!

A psychological approach to dealing with back pain

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When you have back pain in any form, most would do anything to make the pain go away. How about a non-medical approach?

New research shows that focusing on the mind may be the best approach to treating the back for many people with back pain, chronic back pain or other types of back pain that is recurrent.

I'm anxious to hear from anyone that has been suggested this kind of treatment for back pain in the past -- and if the suggestion was helpful to you at all (when the 'directions' were followed, of course). Things like biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people ways to think and act to help cope with pain -- and I'd be interested to hear if it has worked for you -- long-term.

Regular soda slows down the effects of alcohol

Here's some news that comes just in time for the New Year's Eve celebrations. For all the bad publicity that full-sugar soda gets, there's something positive: it keeps you from getting drunk as fast as sugar-free soda would. So, if you want to wake up the next morning without the foggy pounding head and the lurching stomach, avoid the diet rum and coke and go for the standard version of the drink instead. If you want to keep from embarrassing yourself and creating mortifying memories that your family members will dredge up for years, mix your drink with regular soda. Sure, it's more calories, but alcohol is chalk-full of calories anyway so if that's your major concern then maybe you should be the designated driver.

Keep in mind th at regular soda will still get you drunk, just not as fast. So as always, moderation is important.

Accupunture won't assist with depression in many cases

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Have you ever tried acupuncture? If so, to try and deal with what, exactly? I've known many people who swear by acupuncture, and yet I've heard middling results by others as well. With the subjective nature of people, it's sometimes hard to believe one opinion over another.

New research states that acupuncture -- on its own -- does not appear to be an adequate treatment for depression, although the ancient Chinese medical technique is safe.

This new st udy flies in the face of two previous studies which showed that acupuncture specifically targeted to symptoms of depression was effective.

Cutting back doesn't reduce cancer risk for smokers

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If you smoked 40 cigarettes a day, and you cut back to 20, your lungs are twice as healthy -- right?

Wrong. According to researchers, smokers who cut back compensate for their reduced nicotine intake by inhaling more smoke from the cigarettes they do smoke. So, in a group of smokers who smoke the same number of cigarettes every day, those who cut back still have a higher cancer risk than those who have always been light smokers. In fact, studies show a reduction in tobacco consumption by 62% only results in a 27% reduction in cancer risk.

However, if you're trying to quit, don't be discouraged. Cutting back is easier than quitting cold turkey, and, as long as it's a stepping stone toward stopping entirely, it's still a healthy choice.

Burning off calories: the sequel

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I recently posted this information on how much exercise you would need to get to burn off something you ate. Well, here is some more information -- in the form of a book that compiles 7500 foods and the impact they'll have on your diet. For instance, 8 oz of prime rib will take you nearly 6 hours of yoga to burn off. That whopper? You'll have to walk for 9 miles. Want to know something even more scary? It takes an extra 100 calories a day to gain a pound. What's 100 calories? 5 Ritz Crackers (withou t cheese), a low-fat pudding cup, 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds, a small banana, etc.

This information is frightening, but I think if you practice moderation, maintain fairly active lifestyle and eat healthy, you don't really need to worry about the particulars of how many calories you can burn doing something. Because honestly? That time you spend doing the math is time that could be better spent doing something healthy like going for a walk with your family.

More men getting plastic surgery

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Are more men getting nipped and tucked? It seems so -- rates of minimally invasive cosmetic procedures for men have increase 44% in the last six years. Women's rates are rising as well, but plastic surgeons are seeing more men in their offices than before.

What are they having done? This article outlines the nine most popular procedures. The quick fixes like microdermabrasion, Botox, and hair removal top the list, but men are also going in for liposuction and to remove the fat from under their chin. Surgeons also speculate that body lifts and tummy tucks will also become more popular as gastric bypass surgery becomes more mainstream.

Claiming their p atients diet and exercise and just want to look as good on the outside as they feel on the inside, plastic surgeons expect to see the number of male patients rise in the coming years. What about you? Male or female, would you consider plastic surgery simply for the purpose of improving your looks? Or do you think this trend takes the focus on appearance one step too far?

What do you know about supplements? Take the quiz

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These days, it seems like everyone's medicine cabinet is stacked to the top with vitamins a supplements that promise various benefits. We've come a long way from taking a Flintstone's multivitamin everyday -- now drugstores are full of different nutrients and vitamins. But do we really need them? And what do people really know about those supplements they take diligently every day? Supplements have many health benefits, but they can also have drawbacks.

It's no secret that many people don't know the real story behind the supplements they are taking and it's important to know what we are put ting into our bodies. This quiz can offer some valuable insight into the world of supplements as well as advice on taking supplements. If you're currently taking supplements or are thinking of starting on a supplement regime, I encourage you to take it.

I got 4 out of 5. What about you?

Gene hardwires aging brains for better cognition

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Experts in the field have known for sometime that longevity of life runs in families. Called the "longevity gene," people who posses it have larger size particles of cholesterol in their blood, too big to cause the fatty build up that causes heart attacks and strokes in their younger counterparts.

A recent study in the United States suggests that this same gene may also prevent fatty build up in the blood vessels of the brain, preserving memory and cognition. Participants in the study -- all in their 70s, 80s, and 90s -- who carried the gene all performed much higher on memory tests and showed superior concentration.

For those of us who don't carry the gene, never fear. Experts hope that more research in this area will help them develop a drug that mimics the actions of the longevity gene.

Daily Fit Tip: Cut calories every day

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Healthy living is about fitness but it's also about how much you consume. Cutting calories is a good way to get healthy and feel your best. But cutting calories isn't easy -- or is it? This article offers a list of 100 painless ways to cut calories every day. The tips are simple, like replacing full-fat milk with non-fat, eating dried fruit instead of candy and munching on a whole wheat English muffin instead of a muffin.

If you can cut 100 calories from your diet every day, you can lose a pound of fat a month. This may seem a bit slow but it's a start, and the slower the weight loss, the more likely you are to keep the weight off.

Simple steps to a healthy heart

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With U.S. waistlines expanding and with an aging population, heart disease has become one of the major health headlines of our day. Heart failure -- when a heart can not pump correctly -- affects 5 million people nationwide, and a 1/2 million more new cases will be diagnosed this year. The leading causes of heart failure include heart attack, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

A healthy lifestyle can prevent heart disease. This article outlines six simple steps to good heart health -- including losing weight, dropping the cigarette habit, and limiting alcohol, as well as exercising and having basic blood work done by your doctor.

This article is interesting for its health advice, but also has a stunning list of statistics. Over 100 million people have high cholesterol, 47 million still smoke, and a whopping 73% don't's an eye-opener for sure.

Working hard on a new fit you? Don't ruin it with a fashion flub

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When fashion blunders happen to someone else they are almost always funny, but when they happen to you they're just sad. And I think especially sad if you work hard to keep a fit physique, or have been making an effort to get a fitter physique, and then ruin your look with a major fashion flub. That's not to say that everybody has to be on the cutting edge wearing designer labels and outfits fresh off the runway, but there are some simple across-the-board rules when it comes to dressing yourself for the day. Things like che cking sheer tops in a variety of light levels (before you leave the house) to make sure they aren't see-through, and how to avoid your pants getting caught under your heel when you wear mule-type shoes, are just a couple.

When I first read this article I absolutely broke out laughing -- I saw the phrase "unsightly muffin top" to describe when someone's pants or belt are too tight and cause overhang...

It's such an accurately graphic visual! I couldn't have described it better myself.

Control cholesterol naturally with the right foods

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Cholesterol-lowering drugs can cause liver problems, muscle cramps, and kidney problems. Fortunately, by adding certain foods to your diet, you can combat high cholesterol naturally.

For breakfast, increases the rate cholesterol is removed from your blood by upping your vitamin C intake. While too much might cause intestinal distress (read: diarrhea), most people can tolerate up to 2,000 milligrams daily.

You also might try having a glass of wine with dinner. This will boost your levels of high-density popprotein, or HDL, which, like vitamin C, also works to remove excess cholesterol from your bloodstream. While, of course, too much wine has it's own negative side effects, in moderation it can make blood platelets slippery, thus reducing the chances of a fatal blood clot. If you do chose to imbibe, you should know that wines from Southwestern France contain substances which block a protein associated with heart disease.

HDL -- often referred to as "good cholesterol" -- is also boosted by soy protein found in tofu, soy nuts, and soy burgers.

To reduce bad cholesterol, try eating almonds, or adding a a little cinnamon to your coffee.

Ideas for healthy New Year's resolutions

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The American Medical Association has released a list of ten ideas for New Year's resolutions. Healthy resolutions usually fall into one of two categories: quitting a bad habit or starting a good one. Make your resolution this year to quit smoking, or to cut down on your consumption of sugary soft drinks, fat and/or sodium.

Feeling more pro-active? Resolve to start a healthy new exercise routine, get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked, or wear more sunblock.

Will an apple a day cut it?

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We've all heard the old adage: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But does it really? An apple a day is a great start for someone who doesn't eat a whole lot of fruits and veggies, but is it really the best choice for those of us who are diligent about our produce consumption?

According to this, apples are an OK choice, but not the best by any means. In fac t, each of the produce items that the general population consume most frequently, namely iceberg lettuce, corn, potatoes, apples and bananas, aren't as nutrient-rich as the other things in the produce section at the grocery store. What's more, consuming an apple every day doesn't give us the variety that we need to achieve optimal health benefits. So what should we be eating? Check out this article for more information.

How does your favorite fruit or vegetable stack up?