Monday, 8 January 2007

Are protein shakes right for you?

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I've heard a lot of buzz surrounding protein shakes in the past few years, so I decided to figure out just what they are and whether or not I should be drinking them, like everybody else seems to be doing. Protein shakes are just that -- shakes infused with protein, often in soy, egg or whey form. The shakes are often fruit smoothie-style -- at least the ones I've had have been. In theory, increasing your protein intake increases your chances of losing weight when you're working out.

Should you be consuming protein shakes? If you're a pro athlete, sure, but otherwise it's not really necessary. Adding protein to a smoothie adds calories -- lots of them. If you already have a balanced diet, t hat extra protein isn't necessary. As for weight-loss, it's a result of decreasing the number of calories you consume, but if you add a bunch of extra calories in the form of a protein shake, that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

What are your thoughts on protein shakes? Have they helped you lose weight?

This winter is allergy friendly

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As much as I hate winter with its freezing temperatures and icy weather, I know it serves a purpose. Here in the Midwest we're experiencing a much warmer than average winter season, and it seems to be happening in other parts of the U.S. as well. Besides being hard on farmland, warm weather this time of year has had other interesting effects -- like doctor's offices getting flooded with patients suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms, in January!

This winter's strange weather patterns have caused a flush of mold spores and other allergens, and many patients making appointments thinking they have a common cold are finding out they really just have allergies. Doctors warn that things may only get worse if the weather stays on the same track -- the official allergy season may start earlier than normal if wildflowers get a head start and trees bud early.

Ugh.

Walking off the pounds: A success story

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Here's some inspiration for your weight-loss journey, in the form of a success story. Allison lost 40 pounds by heading for the hills and walking around the many nature trails in her neighborhood. In order to figure out how healthy her diet was, she started keeping track of what she ate in a food journal. Once she did that, the truth was revealed: she was eating too much junk and fast food. Armed with this information, she started to dish up healthy versions of her favorite dishes, such as whole-wheat veggie pizza with low-fat cheese.

What's even more amazing is that she's kept off the pounds for 4 years, even through a pregnancy.

I love these inspirational stories. What about you?

Scientists find new source of stem cells

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Today the results of a study 7 years in the making have been released: scientists have confirmed an alternative source of stem cells -- from amniotic fluid and placental tissue. This is awesome news because it allows the research and use of stem cells without harming fetuses. Researchers at Wake Forest University and Harvard University hope that these newly discovered cells will hold the same promise as embryonic stem cells and provide continued hope for tissue repair and even engineered organs, but without the controversy. And they believe the amniotic and placental stem cells offer a couple things that embryonic stem cells don't: an almost unlimited supply (think of all the births in the U.S. every year) and, due to that availability, the ability to find a genetic match for practically any patient in need.

Obviously this concept is not completely new, with research having been done for many years. But I hadn't heard much about it before now, and I'm excited that this study has added confirmation to the idea and that the issue is now getting so much attention and publicity. Yay!

Jumpstart Your Fitness: 7 secrets to keep you moving

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Being the month of new resolutions, you'd think willpower and motivation wouldn't be a problem in January. But actually, it might be more important now than ever to find ways to keep yourself going strong. After all, if you develop good habits and coping strategies now for those tough times when you're "just not feeling it," that new goal you set for yourself will have a much better shot at becoming a reality and lasting long term.

Here are 7 tips to keep you on track this month and this year:

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: 7 secrets to keep you moving

Daily Fit Tip: Head for the hills

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Here's an easy way to rev up your already-established walking routine: take the path of most resistance. What does that mean? Take the hard route, the one with all the hills. You might think the because you walk every day, you're in great shape, but trust me -- taking a steep hill will leave you huffing and puffing. And it will up the amount of calories you're burning, not to mention sculpting your legs.

If you're primarily an indoor walker (read: on the treadmill), this plan also works. Just keep increasing the incline on your treadmill, or if you use a fancy treadmill, use one of the pre-set workouts that constantly adjusts the intensity and incline of your walk to mimic a real outdo or stroll.

The world's greatest medical milestone -- vote today!

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Antibiotics? Sanitation? Vaccines? Which do you think is the greatest achievement in modern medicine? The British Medical Journal wants to know.

The journal has been around for 166 years and that's how far back in medical history they're willing to go back. Scaling down 100 nominations to a 15-item short list, the journal wants you and I to weigh in with our vote. So follow the link, read about each nominee, and place your vote. The ballot includes:
  • Anaesthesia
  • Antibiotics
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Computers
  • DNA
  • Evidence based medicine
  • Germ theory
  • Imaging
  • Immunology
  • Oral rehydration therapy
  • The Pill
  • Risks of smoking
  • Sanitation
  • Tissue culture Vaccines
It's hard to choose, isn't it? Each one has had a significant impact on health care over the last two centuries. It'll be interesting to see how people vote.

The contest ends this week, so if you're interested in participating, get over there and vote!

Will there ever be a cure for AIDS?

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We've heard of treatments for AIDS before -- they come in the form of medicines that allow persons infected with the AIDS virus to live longer and fruitful lives. These treatments are quite expensive and do work. But, can the world afford them?

Current treatments attack the virus when it is replicating -- but not otherwise. That alone has kept many a patient alive for extended periods of time recently, when before there was little hope of long-term survival when AIDS came along due to the HIV virus.

This "latent virus" strategy that the HIV virus employs has so far made it impossible to completely rid the body of it. A new strategy is trying to find a compound that kicks latent HIV virii into a "replicating state" where it can then be dealt with and eradicated hopefully.

"Pre-diabetes" -- Could you have it?

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Of those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, almost all had "pre-diabetes" before-hand. Pre-diabetes is defined as blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to actually be diabetes. There may be as many as 54 million people in the U.S. that have pre-diabetes, and it's important to know if you're one of them for 2 main reasons: research suggests that internal damage to arteries and organs may already be happening in the pre-diabetes stage, and it's possible to prevent full-blown type 2 diabetes from ever developing if you take steps to manage your blood sugar early.

So how do you know if you have pre-diabetes? Testing your blood sugar at home isn't the way to go, instead you should see your doctor and have either a fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). As far as treatment if you do have it? Expect your doctor to recommend some diet and exercise strategies, as most people have positive results with losing as little as 10 pounds.

Let's keep walking with our pedometers at hand

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Although the subject of "walking" has made many a story here at That's Fit, do you measure how much you walk every day? If not, a simple $4 pedometer may be the answer to finding out if you're getting the steps in your daily routine that is needed. Well, at least I think I need them -- how about you?

Many exercise pundits and nutritionists say that we must all strive for around 10,000 steps per day -- but my guess is that most of us get less than half that. A 1.5 to 2 mile journey on a treadmill -- walking -- may get you about 3,800 to 4,000 steps, but then the others must come from. ..where? Try seeing how many steps you take a day just in your day's routine -- you may be surprised.

The Mediterranean Diet

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There are a plethora of weight-loss plans to choose from these days, and here's another to add to the list: The Mediterranean Diet. What exactly is it? It's not so much a weight-loss plan as it is a healthy lifestyle choice to be followed indefinitely, not just for a few weeks or so. Based on the eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean, the diet is rich in whole grains, fresh produce, fresh meat and fish, nuts, moderate amounts of healthy fats like Olive Oil, and even the occasional glass of wi ne. The Mediterranean Diet also focuses on lifestyle, encouraging people to eat smaller portions more slowly, surrounded by family and laughter.

The Mediterranean diet has earned a lot of good publicity in the last little while, being linked to both a healthy heart and a healthy brain.

For more information on the Mediterranean Diet, check this out.