Monday, 26 February 2007

Pregnancy hormone may help treat MS

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The symptoms of multiple sclerosis have been noted to ease for women during pregnancy, and scientists believe it's due to the hormone prolactin. In MS the human body attacks the myelin that surrounds nerves, and it's been thought that during pregnancy the immune system no longer attacks the myelin. Now, though, according to data published in the Journal of Neuroscience, it seems the body could be repairing myelin as well. This means that prolactin could be used in the future as an official treatment for MS -- although it does have a tendency to increase inflammation, so that would need to be addressed somehow.

So far the theory has only been tested in mice, but researchers are optimistic.

Dressing for the gym

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Fitness fashion is a huge industry, which offers a tremendous variety of options. No matter where you exercise, you're bound to find lots of people looking a lot of different ways. In the gym I attend, styles run the gamut. I see elderly men in bikini bottoms, women in thong leotards with leg warmers, sweatsuits with holes in them, and then the fanciest Nike and Under Armour gear you can buy. There is always something new and exciting to see as I turn a corner, wardrobe-wise.

I personally dress for comfort and function. I'm never fancy, but I'm neat. If I could interview everyone else in the gym I'm sure I'd hear the same response. But does it really matter what you wear? Kinda. But only in a way that certain pieces of clothing can hinder your ability to perform your workout. Dress in heavy clothes, you may get too hot to work to your potential, or they may cause you to pass out. Too tight clothing might restrict your movements. Extra long pants could get stuck in a pedal. Too-short shorts could prohibit you to go through a full range of movements ... while still maintaining your dignity.

For the most part, function is key when dressing for the gym. High fashion is irrelevant. Wear what you feel comfortable in, and wear what will be most conducive to getting you through your workout safely. If your budget doesn't allow for super stylish brands, don't sweat it. The most stylish thing you could do is be at the gym. And when you're exercising, you're always looking great!

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Why women tolerate their husbands

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Reading the recent blog here on That's Fit about "Why men ignore their wives" prompted me into a little fun research myself. So if men ignore their wives, why do women put up with it? The websites were endless. WOW. It seems that women tolerate a lot of certain behaviors from their spouses like being ignored, being fussed at or looked down upon and even being abused physically because of cultural beliefs, economic factors and personal fears. There is the disgrace of being a statistic, of being a divorcee. With our divorce rate hovering somewhere between 50 percent and 60 percent it is not hard to see that men and women really can not get along. Maybe the high divorce rate can be contributed to being ignored. wink wink...

But one study in particular stood out to me on why divorce rates are climbing. It emphasized that attraction in the work place between men and women has always been relevant but men had always held the dominant jobs in the work force. But that statistic is changing with women bosses increasing and more jobs like doctors, lawyers, police officers, fire fighters, and even politics with many women now leading in congress and the senate. Women are beginning to have equality in leadership roles. Many women who do well professionally find few men who are secure enough to be with them.

Being a man and being masculine are two different things. A man is a boy who has reached a certain age. A masculine man is a boy who has finally matured as an adult. Some men never reach that maturity. So I guess women have to look at being ignored by their husbands the same way they look at th eir children that ignore them when asked to do their chores.

Hitting stuff is great for the body and mind

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Kickboxing aerobics and tae-fitness classes have been the rage for the past few years. To some, they are a bit more fun and interesting than the traditional dance aerobics style group fitness classes. Instead of screaming "reach", instructors yell "punch" and the students go wild. Men are more inclined to venture into these fighting style classes as well. All good news.

As a competitive kickboxer of a little more than a decade I understand the lure. I was compelled toward the sport as a teen, and finally found a legitimate trainer at age 20. My first fight came soon after. I didn't invent kickboxing so I can truly brag about it. It works every muscle in your body from head to toe. It offers the benefits of intense cardiovascular training, builds strength, and increases flexibility. Not to mention it burns a bazillion calories. Oh! And so far, fighting is the most fun thing I've ever done in my life.

Back to those classes. I'm a fan of anything that makes people huff and puff, but if you're into that you may want to take it further. Find a class that utilizes equipment such as heavy bags, focus pads or kicking shields. Hitting the air is fun, but hitting an actual heavy bag is amazing. To me, hitting willing opponents........PRICELESS!

To find a martial arts school near you, visit

Continue reading Hitting stuff is great for the body and mind

Daily Fit Tip: Be a food snob

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In this modern world, we are generally confronted by two food choices: fast, cheap, convenient but overly processed and ultimately unhealthy prepared foods, or slow, expensive, freshly prepared food. Those who habitually choose the latter are called food snobs, and while some might think them elitist for choosing quality over quantity, I have to disagree. I think we should all be eating foods that are fresh, if for no reason but our health. I'm not saying we have to eat filet mignon every night -- being a food snob CAN be affordable. But if we choose the meals we make ourselves over the ones we pick up at the drive-thru window, I think we'll all be healthier and happier. Plus, if we spend more on food, we're les s likely to eat tons of it, right?

Finding a way

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November 26th I brok e my left foot. I broke it bad. In fact, I broke two bones in the foot, and tore both a muscle and ligament. When I do it, I do it right I guess. Sentenced to crutches for 10 weeks, I was given a grand opportunity to practice what I preach. Being Miss. Fitzness Trainer, I'm constantly telling others to 'find a way' to make it happen. Stop making excuses I say. Now it was my turn to find a way.

Going 10 weeks without working out was not an option. Sure I could lift weights, but cardiovascular workouts are a definite must for me. Now what? I absolutely could not partake in my favorite workouts; kickboxing, running, jumping rope. I couldn't even swim! So I had to search around the local gym. Fortunately I am a member of the Gainesville Health and Fitness Center which is probably one of the most beautiful and complete gyms in the country. If it weren't.....I would have been screwed. GH&FC has two kayak machines. Whoopee! I mean that both seriously and sarcastically. Grateful to have something to do to make me huff & puff without putting pressure on my boo boo, and annoyed because it's one of the most boring and tedious things I've done in my life.

First day I lasted 10 minutes and cursed like a sailor. Second day I begrudgingly conquered 20 minutes. Argh! Of course it was also the ONLY machine in this monstrous gym with no television attached. It was awful! Nonetheless. Because I felt obligated to all those nice folks I told to find a way, I stuck it out....and cursed a lot. I'm glad I did.

Continue reading Finding a way

Cholesterol plays a role in Alzheimer's Disease?

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By now, most of us know that lowering cholesterol (the LDL kind, anyway) is better for overall health. There are many new studies and reports that are linking cholesterol to specific female afflictions, however. These are yet further reasons why monitoring cholesterol intake is very important.

In the upcoming issue of Harvard's Men's Health Watch, the interwoven play among cholesterol levels, psychological function, and neurologic disorders in men are pondered at length.

The result? Well, there are loose (b ut tightening) controls on high cholesterol levels being linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Then, there are studies that state the opposite. What to believe? That is unsure right now, but one thing is pretty certain from all this recent data -- HDL (good) cholesterol levels appear to help preserve mental function in older people (as in, trying to battle Alzheimer's Disease.)

107 year-old attributes long life to lack of sex

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There's thousands -- maybe even millions -- of theories on what helps you live longer, healthier lives. Some are based on scientific evidence, and others...well...just aren't.

Such is the case with Chan Chi, one of China's oldest people, who at 107 years of age, still enjoys the occasional cigarette. So how has he lived this long? According to Chan, "I don't know ... Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have lived a sex-less life for many years -- since I was 30."

He also cites a low-fat diet and regular dawn exercises as factors in his longevity.

But after over a century of life and nearly 80 years of abstinence, there's one last vice Chan would like to give up: smoking. I think he'll succeed. If there's one thing this man has, it's the willpower to quit.

Is it child abuse? UK boy could be removed from family over obesity

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Here's a debate we may be seeing more of if we can't slow the trend of childhood obesity. An 8-year-old boy British boy may be removed from his family today because authorities feel his family isn't doing enough to help him lose weight. At 14 stones (196 pounds) the child is morbidly obese, and his doctors fear that he faces imminent health problems, and even his family admits he has difficulty walking.

The family is condemning authorities, saying they weren't given enough direction or support to help the boy lose weight. They also say that, though he lost 14 pounds over the last year, he should have lost much more based on his diet.

The family says they'll be devastated if authorities remove him. Child protection authorities claim that he'll be unhappy, unhealthy, and that his care amounts to child abuse. Either way, it's a heartbreak for everyone involved. What do you think? Should his parents be given more support to help him lose the weight? Or should he be removed for his own safety?

Nutritional support for stress management

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Does nutrition have a direct impact on stress levels? You bet it does, as you can't fight the effects of stress without giving your body the best fuel to fight with. In addition to the right kind of eating for stress reduction, there are several nutritional supplements that can aid in stress reduction -- do you take any of them?

Foods that help the body adapt to stress include proteins, Carbohydrates, Walnuts, Vitamin C, Almonds, Pine Nuts and the B Vitamins. All of these substances increase the body's toolkit for fighting stress from many angles.

While there are good nutritional benefits for fighting stress, there are a few areas of nutrition to stay away from when it comes to stress fighting. White sugar, stimulating beverages (soft drinks) and alcoholic beverages need to be stayed away from during times of extreme stress since these substances lessen the body's toolkit to take on stress.

Breath test shows promise in diagnosing lung cancer

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Could the future of diagnosing lung cancer be as simple of a breath test? U.S. researchers say that it's possible, and that they've developed a test that proves it.

Researchers know that cancer tumors create compounds that are different from healthy tissue. In theory, those compounds should be exhal ed with the breathe of lung cancer patients. The researchers in this study developed a hand held device with 36 small spots of different compounds that would react to those exhaled by someone with lung cancer. The device found 3/4 of the patients with lung cancer, and it cleared 72% of healthy patients. Researchers admit that the test isn't accurate enough yet, but that it proves such a test could work.

Early diagnosis of lung cancer is critical, since most cases aren't discovered until they've spread. A simple, inexpensive, non-invasive test such as this one could save thousands of lives every year.

Jumpstart Your Fitness: By getting your sweetie onboard

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Sadly, my weight seems to go up and down with my relationships, and I should probably get a grip on that. The people we spend time with can have a huge impact on how we live and what we eat, and getting your significant other onboard with your efforts towards a healthier lifestyle, complete with weight-loss and a fitter physique, is key to your success.

So what if you're dealing with a TV loving nacho addict with an exercise al lergy? Try these tips:

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: By getting your sweetie onboard

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Health problems that take away sexual satisfaction

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Many health problems can get in the way of having a good sex life. Side effects from prescription medication, depression and sexually transmitted diseases cuts down on the amount of pleasure and activity. Consult with your physician if you are not satisfied with your sex life or if you do not have any sex drive at all. The University of Michigan released a report on 9 health issues that can effect your sexual satisfaction.

Many common drugs can have side effects that impact sexual health, including medications that treat blood pressure, heart conditions and depression. Heart attacks or cardio problems don't have to end your sex life. A physician can give you the go ahead to return to a sexual relationship not long after surgery or pacemaker implants. People with sexually transmitted diseases were encouraged not to sustain from sex but to increase protection from spreading the disease. Lowering alcohol consumption can increase sexual pleasure. Poor body image and self esteem especially in women decreased the desire to have sex. Menopause and pregnancy were two other issues for women and can easily be treated with lubricants and topical estrogen creams. And stress, oh yes that hidden killer that is believed to contribute to heart attacks and other poor health issues, is a killer of sexua l desire also.

That caffeine buzz could make you blah

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While caff eine has been reported to boost energy and endurance during long-distance activities such as 10-K runs, it may hinder your efforts on shorter, more intense workouts.

According to a recent study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, researchers gave either 6 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight (approximately three cups of strong coffee for a 130-pound woman) or a placebo to 17 men and women, then evaluated them on two one-minute maximum effort cycling tests. The group that received the actual caffeine had higher blood levels of lactic acid produced by overworked muscles; it also took them considerably longer than the uncaffeinated cyclers to reach "peak power" (pedaling all out).

If you're planning exercise like sprints or a few rounds of boxing, save the Coke for later. *On that note, Coca-Cola products will soon be labeling all of their beverages for caffeine content. Just another great move on behalf of corporate America which allows you smart fitness-minded consumers to make educated choices.

Is excess weight just unused talent?

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Now here's an interesting idea: People who are carrying around excess weight (according to this doctor, specifically those who are 50 pounds or more overweight) are really just extraordinarily talented people that are repressing and suppressing their unique gifts. He says that by realizing your true potential you can change your body and your life.

I will agr ee that overeating definitely has an emotional element to it, sometimes. His idea makes some sense, but I don't know that it's as simple as he makes it sound. Seriously, sometimes those French fries are just too good to resist -- no matter how talented I may be! I will say, though, that this is very motivating in positive way.

So, then, following this logic -- if America is one of the fattest countries in the world, that makes us one gifted bunch of underachievers!

Living with lupus like American Idol contestant Leslie Hunt

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Recently the disease lupus has come to the front of headlines with the American Idol contestant Leslie Hunt. You can't catch lupus from another person. It isn't cancer, and it isn't related to AIDS. It is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is out of c ontrol and it attacks healthy tissues in your body and not germs. The disease can involve many parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain. Some of the most common symptoms of lupus are, red rash or color change on the face, often in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks, painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever, chest pain with deep breathing, swollen glands, rheumatoid arthritis, extreme fatigue, unusual hair loss, pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress, sensitivity to the sun, low blood count, depression, trouble thinking, and memory problems. Other signs are mouth sores, unexplained seizures or convulsions, hallucinations, repeated miscarriages, and unexplained kidney problems.

What causes lupus is unknown and there is no cure for the disease. Anyone can get lupus but 9 out of 10 people who have it are women. Talk to your doctor and take a history of your health problems. Many people have lupus for a long time b efore they find out they have it. I wasn't diagnosed with it until I was 45 years old. It's important that you tell the doctor about all your symptoms. This information, along with a physical examination and the results of blood, urine, and other laboratory tests, helps the doctor decide whether you have lupus or something else.

People with lupus have limited energy and must manage it wisely. Ask your health care team about ways to cope with fatigue. Learn to pace yourself and set realistic goals. Consider support groups to help you over come the depression, anger, and sadness that comes with the disease. Put yourself on a very healthy diet that will help boost the immune system and cut down on inflammation in the body. Try to alleviate stress as much as possible and do moderate daily exercises to build up joint strength. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with lupus learn more about the disease at the L upus Foundation of America.

Obsession of Hollywood stars

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So what is with all of the obsession of Hollywood stars and is it healthy? Tabloid sales sky rocketing, hair styles being influenced, clothing and party trends being copied. Is it turning the heads of the young away from moral values? Where are the individual influences of us commoners. European countries scoff at our obsession of movie and television actors as if we treat them as royalty. The media does entire shows to cover the lives of the people in Holly wood. Hollywood movie stars make millions of dollars from their fan support and people love to see them any chance they get. It is just like the day time soap opera title implies, the bold and the beautiful make it in the world. The mild, meek and average stand by. Even the fashion magazines proudly print the famous faces of Hollywood on the front covers of their spreads instead of the industry runway models and big corporations have them advertising their products in commercials.

Here recently are several examples. The death of Anna Nicole Smith is played out night after night in the entertainment news and in tabloids. A person that was best known for partying around Hollywood, marrying a man way older than her, has a dispute over who is the father of her baby, and over doses on drugs. And the unexplained behavior of Brittany Spears and her trips to rehab. I don't get it. I don't get why Americans care about this.

So when is the last time you aske d your child or teenager who they admired and who they wanted to be like. Is it too late to instill the values of the hard working class citizens again or are we completely given in to the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown and all the fast tracking easy come easy go images that it implies. Are we teaching nothing but dazzling good looks and becoming an actor will go far in getting you noticed? I think healthy habits in choosing what matters in this world need to be evaluated.
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Working from home and staying focused

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Keeping a work and home life balance when you work out of your home can be very difficult. By balance I mean finding ways to give proper attention to my family and household chores and not letting my work suffer and getting my work done without making my family feel neglected. Being a workaholic does not help when my office is the first door on the right coming out of my bedroom in the mornings. It is also tough to concentrate on work when family and pets fi nd their way into the office and beg for attention.

Helpful hints on what has made it easier for me to work out of my home and still give family and pets the attention they need. I wake up at least one hour before everyone else except for the dog who follows me around everywhere. That gives me time to walk and feed the dog, and a little time to take care of myself or have a nice hot soak in the bath. Which leads me to my next hint, get cleaned up and dressed before starting to work. You never know when the doorbell is going to ring. Set a daily time with your spouse or partner. Determine when and how much time you are going to devote to your job and how much time you are going to spend with family or doing household chores and stick to that plan. Work less or not at all on the days your spouse or partner has off from their job. Come up with a daily menu plan so that you have at least one meal a day together. Come up with a daily work schedule at least one or two days in advance and try to stay as focused on finishing those task before starting new ones. And last but not least, know when to walk out of the office door and stay out.
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Natural family planning method as effective as birth control pill

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Are you looking for a more natural method of contraception? Then this news may both surprise and please you. A recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction found that the symptothermal method is just as effective as the birth control bill in preventing pregnancy.

In the symptothermal method (STM) of birth control, women learn to recognize the natural rhythm of their monthly cycle and the cervical signs of impending ovulation. During that time, couples either abstain or use a barrier method of birth control (condom, etc.). The study showed that the method, when used correctly, had an unplanned pregnancy rate of .6 to .9 percent, equal to that of the pill.

The key phrase is when used correctly. All forms of birth control (except abstinence) carry the risk of pregnancy and that includes the symptothermal method. As with any new method of contraception, it's a good idea to do your research ahead of time!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

Lose your loose pants

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The first thing you should do if you've lost a significant amount of weight is toss your old clothes. Sure, it's fun to flaunt your new bod around the office with obviously saggy slacks, but you need to get rid of them and fast!

Why the urgency? You need to remove the ability to grow back into them. Shrinking out of your clothes is an awesome accomplishment and the best way to celebrate is to say adios to all of the things you never want to be able to wear again. I hound my personal training clients about this all the time. Keeping your too-big sizes around is literally a way of giving yourself permission to regain the weight you've lost.

Clothes are costly and you're far better off spending that cash on smaller clothes you are proud to wear. And, they'll keep you in check. If you should slide and start putting a a few pounds back on........pain in the waistband is certain to prove as a sturdy reality check. So run, don't walk to your closet and make a grand donation to your favorite cause. In fact. Run to lots of different closets and burn a bunch more calories. Maybe your new pants will be your old pants soon!

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Living with bipolar

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Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness, is a condition that affects more than two million Americans. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are thought to be caused by an imbalance of key chemicals in the brain. Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, medicine can play a key role in helping to manage symptoms and extreme mood swings. It can help make behavior more even and predictable.

Bipolar disease also has an impact on millions of family members and friends. It is tough watching someone you care about struggle with emotional and physical stresses. Depression affects everyone in the house. So what can you do to help out someone that you care about or live with, that has a bipolar condition?

Number one is to know the disease and that it is a chemical disorder and you nor your loved one can control it all the time even with medication. Recognize the symptoms and mood changes so that you can encourage them to see their professional health care provider. Encourage the person to stick with their prescribed treatments no matter how good they feel at the moment. Learn the difference between a good day and a manic day and let them recover at their own pace. Take advantage of support groups. There are several resources available for families and friends of people with bipolar disorder. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the nation's leading patient-directed, illness-specific organization. The organization's mission is to improve the lives of people living with mood disorders.

5 surprising food myths exposed

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It's easy to see how misconceptions and misinformation could spread around nowadays, with all kinds of new studies coming out one after another -- seemingly contradicting each other every time. Well here's an article that claims to clear up a little of a the confusion, clarifying the real truth on some of the most common food myths.

Is fresher is always better? No. For example, many flash frozen vegetables retain the majority of their nutrients, while their fresh counterparts' health value degrades over time as they age sitting on the shelf. And doesn't "natural" on the label means less processed? Also not always t rue. In fact, most of the time foods carrying the word "natural" are more processed and less healthy than some of those that don't.

Read the full "In Pictures" article at for the truth behind 3 other common food myths, including my favorite about how sometimes a meal can be good because of what is has (not what it doesn't have).

Colorado high school bans energy drink after students fall ill

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After six students fell ill and two were hospitalized, all Colorado public high schools banned energy drink Spike Shooter from its hallways. Over 200 of the state's 7-11 stores pulled the product as well, after finding out the drink was not intended to be marketed to adolescents.

The drink made students feel shaky and made their heart ra ce. Spike Shooter contains the same amount of caffeine as two to three cups of coffee, and the manufacturer says that it was never intended to be used by children and teenagers. Labels on the can warn "Read label before drinking" and tell users to start with a half-can serving their first time using the product.
The company also warns that those taking certain medications or with certain medical conditions should stay away from their product.

This story serves as another reminder to read your food labels. Just because a product is sold in your favorite store (and I applaued 7-11 for be responsible enough to know their customer base and remove the product) doesn't mean that it is safe or suitable for you or for everyone. Keep that in mind when you're trying something new, especially if it contains supplements or excessive amounts of certain ingredients, that you should make sure it's appropriate for you.

What are bad diet choices beyond trans fats?

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With the battle against trans fats in full force in private restaurants, cities and even universities, some experts say that all the attention trans fats are receiving are taking away from other legitimate causes for the bad pieces of people's diets these days.

How about saturated fats and unsaturated fats? These fats are found naturally in many meat and dairy products and can be dangerous as well if overconsumed.

With more than trans fats being in the foods we eat, some nutrition and health analysts say the preoccupation with trans fats has gone too far. To a point, I agree with that -- but better to attack the wo rse option first then attack others as they come along, yes? The restaurant chains are marking the cutting of trans fats like the next big thing, although many of them are replacing trans fats with other unhealthy oils.

Traumatic events easier to remember

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In a discovery that directly refutes the long-accepted theory that people repress difficult memories in order to cope with traumatic events of the past, Canadian researchers now believe that it's more difficult to recall happy memories.

At the beginning of the five year study, participants were asked to give details about a horrible experience from the past few months -- sexual assault, domestic violence, etc -- as well as details of a more positive experience, like a wedding, vacation, or birth of a child.

According to Stephen Porter, lead author of the study, when researchers interviewed participants five years later: "We were surprised at how consistent (the traumatic memories) were relative to the good memories in life which had deteriorated dramatically and looked nothing like the reports that we heard about years ago."

In fact, in a questionnaire where the maximum possible score was 36, participants recalling traumatic memories scored an average of 30, while those recalling a positive one averaged only 15.

Sigmund Freud must be turning in his grave.

Peanut butter salmonella outbreak reaches 43 states

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The recent salmonella outbreak as a result from infected peanut butter containers has spread to 43 states as of last evening, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC said that the outbreak had widened to 329 people in 41 states so far.

The FDA last week indicated that all Peter Pan peanut butter bought since May 2006, and all of Wal-Mart's "Great Value" peanut butter with the batch code 2111 should be discarded. That's over a half of a year of peanut butter, which m akes one think -- "wow, we're just now finding out?"

ConAgra, which makes the Peter Pan brand along with many store brands like the "Great Value" brand at Wal-Mart, said that tests by some states found the salmonella bacteria in peanut butter produced at its Sylvester, Georgia, plant.

Exercise machines to work with your iPod

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Exercise is exercise, and for the majority of people it will never be that great of a time. But that's why toys like the iPod exist, and why companies like Life Fitness are planning to cash in a little on that fun factor.

Their new fitness machines will be designed specifically to make the most of working out with your iPod. With ports for users to plug in their iPod and headphones, and liquid crystal display touch screens for scrolling through your play lists and watching your videos, you may never want to step off that treadmill.

Well, maybe not never.

European Union may need two years to deal with possible flu pandemic

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We always hear about an upcoming "flu pandemic", but if one were to poke its nasty head up into civilization, would countries in Europe be prepared? Most likely not, as it will take at least two years before the European Union is fully ready to deal with a flu pandemic.

Two years? Sounds like quite a long time, even though all EU countries have completed basic flu preparedness. Even so, the making of all those plans operational is another matter entirely -- hence the two-year period.

EU officials said that "We need to maintain the current political climate and momentum to continue and fi nish this work ... according to our estimate, we need another two to three years to respond well to a pandemic."

Eight reasons why your diet isn't working

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Does dieting seem hard to you? Of course it does, dieting is hard for everybody. But does it feel like it's especially more difficult for you than for your friends or co-workers who are also fighting the battle of the belly bulge? It may just be perception on your part, or it may be something else. Check out this list of eight hidden diet disasters in the making and see if you aren't unknowingly sabotaging your own success.

Number one is my absolute favorite, because I can officially raise my hand and adm it I'm a "supertaster." It's not that I have no willpower, it's my faulty tastebuds! Supertasters taste more of the bitterness of fruits and veggies and so therefore may not have their sweet tooth satisfied by that orange or banana. Undertasters have a high tolerance for sugar and may eat more to feel satisfied.

But really, there are some other surprising things in this article. Not having enough sex? You might be eating to compensate. Overly sensitive? You might be packing on a layer of fat to buffer yourself from the world. Spending a lot of time eating with friends? You may be eating up to 96% more than you need to. Interesting stuff!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to check my taste buds to prove once and for all that the candy bar I ate after lunch was not my fault. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Most Germans want restaurant smoking ban

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Smoking bans are going fast and furious in U.S. states and countries around the world as non-smokers have had it with breathing in that toxic second-hand smoke. In addition to Scotland, it looks like a majority of Germans also favor a smoking ban in restaurants.

A poll determined that most German citizens no longer wanted smoking permitted in public restaurants, as 61% of 1,000 people surveyed said they would like to see smoking forbidden in general in restaurants.

Although 35% were against a ban in restaurants, Germany's Chancellor took the middle ground at least in terms of smoking in government building, agreeing on a proposal for a smoking ban in some government buildings since strict rules may have run afoul of some German laws according to legal experts.

A pacemaker, for the bladder?

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Amazingly, a group of researchers at Duke University have brought the idea of a pacemaker to control bladder function one step closer to reality. No, it won't be for over active bladder, but instead for people who have lost all bladder function due to spinal cord injury or neurological disease. They have found a way to stimulate the nervous system to both contract the bladder (hold it), and to relax the bladder (urinate). Currently many patients in need of this type of device have to use catheters, which come with their own set of negative side effects like urinary tract infections.

I think this sounds like a great discovery, but in reading the article I wish they didn't have to test it so much on animals -- poor cats!

Color coding foods

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Ever thought about color coding your foo d to gain optimum health benefits? As a past chef we always emphasized making plates appealing to the eye as well as the taste buds. Now it seems that a rainbow array of food colors daily not only is pretty to the eyes inviting pleasures of the pallet but eating 5 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day can give you the benefits of better health. So the next time you are making that platter of food for a party, or special gathering, keep these food colors in mind to not only make a beautiful table but to give your guests some healthy choices to eat. Remember to buy organic foods for the healthiest intake of nutrients and vitamins.

Blue and purple foods like blueberries, raisins, plums, and eggplant help with urinary tract health, memory function, and healthy aging. Green foods like avocados, green apples, cucumbers, and honeydew help your vision and give you strong bones and teeth. White, tan, and brown foods such as bananas, garlic, mushrooms and ginger keep the heart healthy and help keep cholesterol levels normal. Yellow and orange foods such as cantaloupe, peaches, sweet potatoes, and lemons help boost the immune system and also help your vision and keeping a healthy heart. Eating red foods like strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and tomatoes keep the urinary tract healthy and aid in memory function and also a healthy heart.

Donating blood may improve your health

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Donating blood is not only a great way to contribute to the good of the community, it may contribute to your good heart health, as well. That's according to a new study published by the American Medical Association, that found that giving blood every six months led to fewer heart attacks and strokes in test participants ages 43 to 6 1.

Excessive iron is thought to contribute to heart disease, especially at its early stages. Donating blood on a regular basis reduces the iron stores in the body and this study supports the theory that reducing iron appears to preserve heart and vascular health.

What a win/win situation, huh? Give blood to someone who needs it and do your own body good at the same time. To learn more about donating blood, visit the American Red Cross.

One more reason not to eat at KFC/Taco Bell: Rats gone wild!

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Rats, rats and more rats! That's what you'll find inside one KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in NYC's Greenwich Village neighborhood.

At least a dozen rodents were captured on video earlier today, running rampant throughout the restaraunt, climbing on tables, counters and children's high chairs. The footage is making its way around the Internet, and TV news crews have already been at the seen, capturing the action and taking comments from disgusted onlookers.

With health inspectors on sight before the restaraunt even opened to the public, a spokesman for KFC and Taco Bell released the following statement: "This restaurant has been closed and we are addressing the issue with the franchise owner. We will not allow this store to reopen until is it completely resanitized and given a clean bill of health."

With this coming in addition to previous reports of an E. coli outbreak linked to to Taco Bell, things aren't looking good for the discount restaurant chain.

Atkin's "Simply Good" nutrition bars introduced

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Are you a fan of the Atkins Diet? Millions of people have used this method to drop pounds by not eating a load of carbohydrates at every meal (while still eating too much fat really), and the Atkins Diet has spawned entire lines of processed and prepared foods. After reading some of the ingredients in those packages, I'll stay far, far away, thank you very much.

Anyway, Atkins Advantage looks be be introducing its first all-natural product line -- Atkins Advantage Simply Good nutrition bars. I'll wait until I inspect the ingredients in these bars, but they look god so far on paper and will come in three f lavors upon launch in March: Honey & Oat, Mixed Berry and Chocolate Chip Peanut. These bars will be featured as having higher protein and fiber and lower sugar -- as well as zero trans fats.

U.S. hospital group chimes in on universal health care

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With political groups and possible U.S. Presidential candidates all chiming in on what needs to be done to fix the American health care system, a group of hospitals has put forth its plan to tackle the issue of covering the nation's 47 million uninsured.

The proposal from the Federation of American hospitals includes mandatory coverage for all and subsidies for the working poor. Although the group only covers about 20% of the hospital industry, its latest proposal stands in line with all the other suggestions that range from privately-funded health ca re accounts to free health care for all.

This latest proposal would increase federal spending by $115 billion and would actually build on -- not replace -- the employer-based health system where most Americans already receive health coverage.

Myth or fact about bay leaves and roaches

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In my recent move to Virginia, we found an older home to move into that was built in the early 1900's. We love the spacious rooms, hardwood floors, and stone architecture. But one problem we have had is keeping control of a roach population due to a damp basement and lots of leaves and foliage around the house. I hate putting out toxic chemicals because of our family dogs and birds and also our health. I try to use as many natural cleaning and organic products as possi ble. Cleaning thoroughly of course usually takes care of the situation and maintaining a safe and healthy way to store outside and inside trash usually helps cut down the amount of nesting roaches. But it seemed like they were here to stay and were fine with sharing the space with us as the new dwellers in the home.

In a conversation with my 93 year old grandmother a few days ago, she mentioned that she always kept bay leaves out in her cabinets to keep roaches away. I wondered if this was one of those old wives tales or a myth so decided to do some research on the subject and found out several websites that recommended putting bay leaves out to keep away roaches. At a few dollars a box for bay leaves it is well worth a try to keep harmful chemicals out of my house. It makes my cabinets and trash areas smell nice too.

Employers becoming more nutritionally aware in Africa

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Employers around the world have a vested interest in helping employees eat right and take care of themselves emotionally and physically. If they don't bad workplace performance can happen and lost productivity can cause untold amounts of loss, both in soft and hard dollars.

That concept is not lost on companies operating in Africa, as many are now offering an enriched porridge which is being used to boost the health of thousands of Africans. Why? To reduce absenteeism and boost the health of African workers.

The porridge is e-pap, which is a ma ize-based cereal developed for the poor. It contains 28 essential nutrients and was originally developed to protect Africans naturally against the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.

Smoking ban coming to Maryland?

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Smoking bans are already instituted in public places in many U.S. states, as well as public restaurants and buildings where non-smokers tend to want a toxic-free breathing area.

Add the state of Maryland to that group, which is apparently poised to jump on the bandwagon that bans smoking in enclosed public spaces. With the U.S. Surgeon General specifically stating that second-hand smoke clearly kills people, this move by Maryland (and others) could not have come sooner.

A U.S. official with the Department of Health and Human Services added that "Despite the great progress that has been made, involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke remains a serio us public health hazard that can be prevented by making homes, workplaces and public places completely smoke-free."

So true it is -- although private homes are, well, private homes. That is one area that will always be open to smoking most likely.

Automated trendmill rebuilds muscles after stroke

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In partially paralyzed stroke patients, using a specially-designed treadmill with assistance from robot-driven leg supports may help rebuild muscle mass in those patients, according to German researchers.

The Lokomat's research team stated that the success of physical rehabilitation after a stroke depends on active walking exercises -- and assistance from a robotically enhanced treadmill made exercise possible for stroke victims -- who generally find that the after-effects of stroke make exercise almost impossible.

Although the Lokomat was initially designed to help treadmill training in paraplegic patients, it seems naturally suited to assist partially paralyzed victims of stroke.

3 steps to wellness

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When dealing with illness, be it a simple cold or something major, one of the best things you can do is pay attention to your body and take care of yourself. This article relates health to a straight line, and then goes with the idea that there are 3 steps to take to get yourself down that line to a place of wellness.

Whether you buy into the idea that these steps can really "cure" you or not, the advice is still good -- it never hurt anybody to reduce toxins and add antioxidants, and it certainly won't make anything worse to reduce some stress in your life.

Dean Foods says no to milk from cloned cows

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When the news came out that the FDA had passed preliminary approval to allow milk and meat from cloned animals into the food supply, public reaction was mixed. Sixty four percent of people polled said that they had at least some level of discomfort with buying milk or meat from cloned animals, and dairy companies were listening.

Smaller companies like Ben and Jerry's have already made a pledge not to use foods from cloned animals in their products. This week food giant Dean Foods made their own stand, saying that milk from cloned cows would not be allowed into their products. Dean Foods is the largest milk company in the United States and also owns the popular, though sometimes controversial, Horizon Organics.

Obviously, Dean Foods is trying to protect their bottom line with their statement and worry that if consumers think their wholesome milk products have been sullied by clones, they may choose an alternative. What's interesting to me is that, though Dean Foods has said that milk or meat from clones will not be allowed in their product, this article points out that they did not say whether milk and meat from the offspring of clones will be allowed. Those who promote cloning say that it won't be the actual cloned animals themselves tha t make their way into the food supply, but generation after generation of their offspring. It'll be interesting to see if Dean Foods takes their ban that one step further, or if this is just a PR move to placate their customers. What do you think?

Girl scouts cut trans fats from cookies

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If a Girl Scout comes knocking on your door this week peddling cookies, she may have an interesting tidbit of information for you: each serving of Girl Scout cookies is now trans-fat free.

By finding what they thought were suitable replacements for partially hydrogenated oils, the bakeries that create the addictive little cookies reformulated the recipes to reflect a healthier attitude. Not only did they want to sell a better product, Girl Scout leaders claim, but they also thought the change sent a better message the the girls in their programs. The Girl Scouts will also now be offering a sugar-free cookie and one that has reduced amounts of saturated fats.

Before you eat a whole row of Tagalongs or fill up on Thin Mints, remember that these cookies are still a treat. In fact, as the Girl Scouts themselves point out, they aren't even technically free of trans fats. Each serving has less than a half of gram trans fats, which allows foods to be labeled as trans fat free, but if you eat two or three (or four or five) servings, you'll be packing on 1-3 grams of unhealthy fats as well as loads of sugar. Kudos to the Girl Scouts, though, for making their annual sale a little bit healthier.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Health care spending to double within 10 years

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If we think we're spending quite a bit on health care now, imagine that some estimates have health care spending doubling within 10 years from now. In other words, we'll be spending $4.1 trillion by 2017 on annual health care instead of the current $2.1 trillion we're spending now -- and that's just in the U.S.

It's shocking to see that nearly 20 cents of every dollar spent in 10 years will go toward health care. Of course, many will ask what the causes are. One of the biggies is an aging population, as the "leading edge of the baby boom generation becomes eligibl e for Medicare."

With the baby boomer generation at staggering levels (70 million+), it's easy to see why we'll be spending so much more on health care in 10 years. Add that to the fact that people are living longer (as what's been widely reported), and there are your spending increases.

Facial wrinkles can go away with low-energy plasma waves

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Are you into making your skin look as young and new as possible? A new study shows that many low-energy treatments with a plasma skin regeneration tool can give your skin that new appearance with better results instead of that one-time high-energy treatment.

The spirit of graduality seems to be coming into place here, since multiple small treatments may be better than a few high-energy treatments.

The good news, though, about multiple low-energy plasma generation treatment s is that there is quite less healing time since large, high-energy sessions take so much more time to heal. Combine that with the propensity for short-term psychological results and you just might have a winner.

Lying is great for your health

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If you're one of those people who plan to go to the gym, yet somehow talk yourself out of it before the end of the d ay ... you need to stop. Truth be told, we all get busy, we all get tired, and we all have a bazillion things to do. I'm positive the reason you planned to go the the gym, or wherever else it is you exercise, is because you know it's wonderful for you and you want the results. You probably even have a bag packed with exercise clothes in the trunk of your car. Use them!

The secret to getting past this self-defeating instinct is to trick yourself with really small goals. Instead of just bailing out, tell yourself you'll only walk for five minutes on the treadmill. Or plan to only do bicep curls. Odds are, once you get on the treadmill you're going to want to go a little further. You probably won't want to ditch the gym after doing just bicep curls either. Being in the gym just feels good, and the atmosphere will more than likely inspire you to do what you originally set out to do.

Have you ever finished a workout and thought, "Gosh, I wish I hadn't done that?" No! Nobody does that, because exercise feels great and the sense of accomplishment feels even better. And, even if you do just walk for five minutes, it's certainly better than nothing. I guess a little lying isn't always a bad thing.

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