Sunday, 28 January 2007

Coffee OK to consume while pregnant?

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If you're pregnant, have yo changed you dietary habits to ensure the best possible nutrition is supporting that about-to-be-born baby? Many caring soon-to-be-mothers do just that -- they eat right, abstain from alcohol and smoking and even exercise.

But, how about coffee? In a recent and rather rigorous study on the effects of coffee on late-term pregnancies, it was found that there was no link between moderate caffeine consumption late in pregnancy and and either preterm delivery or low birth weight.

Naked jogger surprisingly polite

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Sue Bowdoin was out riding her horse when she was passed by middle-aged man in nothing but sneakers. "He passed me and said 'Good evening.' I thought: Ugh!"

She's not the first person to bump into the nude fitness enthusiast. A number of park users at the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve have reported spotting the exhibitionist, but rangers have yet to arrest him.

Apparently all that running isn't doing much good. According to Bowdoin, "He's frumpy. Plain. Not in good physical shape. It's not a pretty sight."

Diet and exercise equal in shedding pounds?

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For those of you who follow both the "diet and exercise" way of losing weight and staying trim, do you know which method actually works better?

There are some people I know that swear by daily exercise as the reason they stay lean and trim -- and yet others say that portion control and calorie counting are the answer (even without exercise).

Which is correct? U.S. researchers now say that both dieting and exercise are equally effective at losing and keeping off the pounds. Do you agree?

The colors you wear can affect how you feel

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What season are you? If you don't know what I'm talking about then keep reading. Whether it's through official color therapy, or the difference in how you feel between putting on a red or a yellow sweater, color can have a significant impact on your life -- whether you like it, or believe it, or not.

Based on a lifetime of getting dressed every morning, most adults have a general idea of which colors look good on them and which ones don't. But not everybody takes that knowledge into consideration when clothes shopping or when picking out an outfit for work. Making a conscious effort to wear your best colors can help you feel and look younger and more vibrant, while taking emphasis off your imperfections and highlighting your assets.

Bottom line: next time you feel drab or dull take a look at your outfit, could it be partially to blame? If you think so, but aren't sure what colors you should be wearing (or what "season" you are), answer these questions to find out.

Caffeinated donuts are finally here!

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You're almost certainly aware that donuts aren't good for you. Caffeine, on the other hand, besides just giving you a jolt, has been found to have many positive side effects. So what happens now that a scientist has figured out how to give you both at once?

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the caffeinated donut.

Dr. Robert Bohannon, a molecular scientist, says he's figured out how to add caffeine to baked goods -- without the bitter after taste you find in coffee. In fact, each of these action-packed pastries is the equivalent of two cups of coffee. Zing!

While that's certainly exciting -- especially when that second cup of coffee won't get your over the hump in the morning -- this doesn't change the fact that donuts are packed with sugar and fried in oil full of trans fats.

Besides, I like drinking coffee.

Crisco's going trans fat-free

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With every food-related product and establishment proudly proclaiming that they're Trans Fat Free, it's no surprise that Crisco has jumped on board. The brand of shortening has followed a formula that hasn't changed in, get this, 95 years. The new recipe will still include a small amount of Trans fats, but as it's under .5 g per serving, it can legally declare itself to be trans fat-free.

Keep in mind, though, that shortening has a lot of saturated fat and though it's better for you than, say, lard, it should definitely be consumed in moderation.

Nike's 2007 Considered line is a step in the right direction

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On days like today, the sidewalks coated with a thin layer of dirty gray slush, I really miss summer and being barefoot in the backyard. But as much as I love the feeling of fresh air on my feet, I don't think the barefoot running trend will ever be for me.

One way I can come close: Nike's new C onsidered line for 2007. The top shoe in the picture, the Watercat, is a water shoe that claims to offer all the support that Nike is famous for while leaving your foot almost bare, with an exoskeleton type design.

Want another reason to like these shoes? The Considered line is the beginning of a new, sustainability-focused attitude from Nike. While the company definitely has a long way to go before being a truly "green" brand, but it's exciting to see Nike headed in the right direction. Considered products require fewer chemicals in production, create less waste, and even are made intentionally lighter than other athletic shoes to consume less fuel and create less emissions in the shipping process.

The world's oldest person now lives in Connecticut

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How old do you have to be to be the oldest person in the world? 114 is the magic number, as of Wednesday anyway when 115 year old Emiliano Mercado del Toro passed away in Puerto Rico. According to the Connecticut Post, Emma Faust Tillman, at 114 years old, is now the oldest person in the world. Ms. Tillman never smoked or drank, and the article doesn't say specifically but it doesn't sound like she was ever married or had any children. Genes may also be helping her out, as her siblings lived to 108, 105, and 102 yrs old.

There are all kinds of theories on why some people live so long and how the rest of us can do it too. Is it lifestyle? Geography? Or even how old your mom was when she gave birth to you?

I get a headache just thinking about it.

Tyra Banks lashes out at critics of her weight

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Former Model and current TV personality Tyra Banks is addressing people who have made fun of her weight with immature comments like "America's Next Top Waddle". Tyra, who is 5'10 and 161 lbs -- well within a healthy range by the way -- is angry about the effects these comments have on her fans, who value her as a role model because she's not as skinny as most supermodels. Seriously though, who are these people making fun of a gorgeous woman with a healthy weight? Nicole Richie and her fellow anorexics who think that looking like a heroin addict is preferable to having some womanly curves? Get a grip people.

I don't watch much TV and haven 't seen Tyra since her stint on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire (I'm totally dating myself here) but from recent pictures of her, I think she looks fabulous, and I hope she doesn't succumb to all the Hollywood ridiculousness that goes on concerning weight.

Your best friend could be your diet's worst enemy

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Are you surrounded by "personal drainers?" This article from ediets.com is actually a little depressing when it comes to considering how your friends can really hurt a good diet plan by undermining and sabotaging you at every turn, either intentionally or not. If you hang with like-minded health-conscious types you'll be more successful getting through your weak moments than if you spend time with friends that are just annoyed by your dieting efforts and will tempt you at every turn with pizza and beer.

I think the point is valid, but I'd also like to think I can find a way to lose weight without finding an entirely new group of friends first, even if my best friend isn't as into it as I am.

What to know about teeth whiteners

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Having whiter teeth can brighten your whole appearance, making you look younger and more attractive almost instantly. And whether you have it done professionally at the dentist's office, or use a do-it-yourself kit at home, it's a pretty basic process.

All teeth whiteners do their whitening with peroxide, and they only differ in how the peroxide is delivered and how strong the peroxide concentration is. You'll get a much stronger and more effective treatment at the dentist, but it'll cost a lot more too. And if you have dull teeth you should know that smoking and coffee-drinking aren't the only culprits -- things like blueberries, red wine, and even tomato sauce can cause discoloration. Also, you won't get the effect you want if you have gum disease so don't even bother (unless you're going for a two-tone look).

Whitening your teeth is really just a cleaning process that has surprisingly few side-effects, so if you're looking to give your looks a boost it might be something to consider. Just make sure you don't overdo it and end up with a glow-in-the-dark/Cheshire cat smile!

Arnold Schwarzenegger issues fitness challenge for youngsters

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Kids need to be more active, and who better to inspire and encourage them than body building champ AND California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Good ole' Arnie has issued a fitness challenge to the children of California, encouraging them to get between 30 and 60 minutes of activity at least three times a week. But tell me: What defines activity? Is it playing the bowling game on the Wii? or getting outside and playing soccer with friends and actually getting some sunshine and social interaction? I think only the latter should count, especially since those lucky California kids can actually venture outside in January, unlike us here in the arctic north.

What do you think of the plan?

Kids in the UK are getting pedometers to encourage active lifestyles

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According to this, Kids in the UK will be getting something other than knowledge from their schools -- they're getting pedometers too. Pedometers are praised are praised by health professionals because they are a great way to measure whether you're getting the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

Pedometers are successful tools for adults trying to lose weight but will they work as ef fectively for kids? I'm thinking of the kids from unhealthy homes, where Chinese take away is on the menu every night and the only exercise is jumping up when their football team scores. What will pedometers do for them, when they have virtually no other healthy influences? Adults trying to rid themselves of extra pounds are looking for ways to be healthy; kids who don't know their lifestyle is unbalanced probably won't give a hoot about what's good for their heart and general health.

What do you think?

Exercises that are easy on the knees

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I know from experience that the knee is one of the more vulnerable joints on the body -- especially for active people who spend lots of time running and walking. So it's important that we learn to look after our knees, and take measures to not only treat injury but to prevent it as well. eDiets has come up with a series of easy knee-friendly exercises that can help build muscle in the joint without straining it.

If you already have trouble with your knees like I do, I find it's a good idea to find exercises that don't put too much pressure on them. Using the elliptical trainer and swimming are two of my favourites.

What do you do for you knees?

New fibroid treatment means more options

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Fibroids are non-cancerous muscle fiber growths that occur in the uterus, and 40% of women develop them during child-bearing years -- thankfully often without symptoms. But when fibroids do cause problems it's no small issue with heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic soreness, and pain being the most common symptoms that, until recently, almost always led to the same treatment. Having a hysterectomy has been the only option for women with problematic fibroids, but now there's the myomectomy -- a less invasive procedure that gives w omen another option.

Having a myomectomy may mean a faster surgical recovery and the continued option of childbirth, but it also means there's still a chance fibroids could return and a hysterectomy will be needed after all. But what's important here is that women now have a choice, and that's always a good thing.

Find your diet and fitness personality

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When it comes to dieting and fitness, having a workout buddy or someone you can lean on when the cravings hit can be an important part of your support system. But does that mean that what works for your friend (or co-worker or family member) will work for you? Not necessarily.

Everyone has their own personal strengths, interests, and unfortunately, vices. You may be a chocoholic, while your friend can't stay away from potato chips. You may love to walk while listening to music while your friend might get her fitness kicks at a group volleyball game. Knowing your likes and dislikes is essential for success.

Spar kpeople has two short and sweet quizzes to help you sort out your diet and fitness personality. They were pretty accurate and included several good tips. (For the record, I'm "carb and calorie crazed" (no surprises there) and when it comes to working out I'm an "exercise goal getter.") Check it out and tell me what you think!

How much time have you spent dieting? You may be surprised

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Are you on a diet right now? If so, you're not alone; a recent poll in the UK found that the average British women spends a lifetime total of 31 years on a diet. And before you start feeling left out, gentlemen, the average British man spends 28 years slimming down.

I really think this finding says a lot -- and not necessarily about weight loss. It makes me wonder about two different things: 1) How many of us say we are on a diet, when we really aren't? Have we created a "diet culture" where we're perennially claiming we're on a diet, even if we're going home at night and quie tly eating Ben and Jerry's in front of the TV? and 2) Are we having trouble with the distinction between dieting and a healthy diet?

I ask these questions, because WOW that seems like a lot of years to spend on dieting. And if those numbers aren't artificially inflated by the things I mention above, then those findings just make me really sad. Are we really spending over 1/3 of our lives fighting the battle of the bulge?

One fact that brightened my day -- most British women reported that they dieted to improve their appearances. No, that's not what made me smile, it was the fact that when asked what they thought was the ideal body type, they didn't pick supermodel svelte. Instead, they chose curvaceous women like Marilyn Monroe. So even if we're spending far more time "dieting" than we really should be, at least we're choosing realistic role models.

What is "normal weight obese" syndrome?

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According to research published last year, having a good BMI may not be a reliable way of judging your health. And according to a recent study from continued research, now there's even more data to support the hazards of being thin but still having an unbalanced amount of body fat. People with normal weight obese (NWO) syndrome usually have higher levels of inflammation-causing proteins, which puts them at risk for developing cardiovascular disease or obesity in the future.

The good news is that if you are "fat on the inside" you're still better off than people who are obese in the more traditional sense. People with NWO syndrome don't usually suffer from the expected side-effects of being overweight like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol.

So next time you're calculating your BMI to figure your health standing, do your body fat percentage as well.

Good news on the flu front

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This year the flu season started a few weeks earlier than anticipated in Europe, but thankfully it hasn't been too severe so far. And as for in the U.S., the season actually started a little late by a few weeks (I'm impressed they can call it down to the week anyway) and so far the vaccine has been keeping up with demand. Also pleasantly surprising is the fact that we know the flu vaccine mutates regularly (which is partly why each year is so risky when it comes to whether or not the vaccine is going to be effective) but this year it looks like the majority of flu strains ar e ones that were expected, and that the vaccine is effective against.

In the U.S. the flu season starts in October and goes through March, so we're over halfway through. Somebody tell that to the guy in this photo...

One state makes Weight Watchers a Medicaid benefit

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West Virginia, one of the country's most obese states, has now incorporated Weight Watchers into its Medicaid program. As many as 75,000 people will be eligible to participate in the Weight Watchers program for free. Patients will need to have a doctor's referral and a BMI within a specific range, and then they'll get classes for 16 weeks complete with the supportive group sessions and food point planning.

Top supporters of this new approach have high hopes, for both their state's overall health and that of the nation. If successful in W.Va. the program will likely be tried in other states as well.