Wednesday, 31 January 2007

How much do you know about healthy choices? Take the quiz

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Which offers more health benefits: Ketchup or Tomatoes? Seeing as ketchup is mostly sugar, I would choose tomatoes every time. But apparently it's ketchup (the organic kind), according to this quiz. Oops, I just gave away the first answer, but the rest are up to you. They might surprise you! I know a few threw me -- and I'm someone who is fairly knowledgeable about healthy foods.

What's your score?

Six states get A's for fixing child obesity

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People have been heralding American obesity for years now like it was the coming apocalypse. It seems like news is always buzzing with trans fat and companies who aren't using it anymore. But how often do we hear about the other good news in the war against fat?

Here's some good news: a record-breaking six states have received "A's" for their efforts in passing legislation and public-policy to combat child obesity. The grading comes from the University of Baltimore Obesity Initiative who awarded California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee top marks. These are the states who are doing what they can politically to change the trend we're seeing in kids.

The legislation includes support for obesity research, nutrition standards for schools, and a requirement for schools to measure every student's body mass index. It'll cost time and money, but they're hoping the new public policy in these Grade A states will reverse the trend of childhood obesity that has been doubling over the past 20 years.

Getting the most out of your running shoes

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If you are an avid runner, you know the importance of having good shoes -- supportive, comfortable, sturdy shoes that can handle the city streets, park paths or changing terrain where you run. You may have those fabu shoes, but do you know how to be good to them back?

What are the best ways to care for your running shoes and just how much mileage can you really get out of the good ones?

This article offers simple, straightforward advice for getting the most out of your running shoes, a great follow-up after you've found the perfect pair. Also, check out the pointers on when to retire your running shoes, including an easy at-home inspection and (my favorite tip) using your running log to keep track of the life of your shoes as well as your own miles.

Chicago bicyclists brave the cold

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More and more Chicagoans seem to be braving harsh winds and subzero temperatures to continue cycling through the city's brutal winter months. Even when their feet get numb, or they have to pedal down the street in overcoats, commuters, messengers, and fitness buffs push on through the snow.

But, while the sport's seasonal enthusiasts like the less-crowded streets this time of year, that's not the only reason for the increased interest. The Windy City has been working hard to promote bike riding as part of a larger environmental effort. The city already had 250 miles of bike lanes, and as part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's quest to make the Chicago "the most bicycle-friendly" city in the U.S., they've added 25 more -- along with thousands of new bike racks.

If you're thinking about biking through the ice, make sure to take the proper precautions. Wear layers of thermal clothing instead of bulky coats to avoid overheating. Also, make sure you're in bright colors, so you're visible motorists on darker winter days. You can also "winterize" your bike by adding fenders -- both to keep salt off the bike, and to keep yourself dry.

Any winter bike riders out there? Why do you do it?

Smokable painkillers?

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These days, almost every painkiller boasts that it can relieve your pain the fastest. But what if instead of waiting 15 or 20 minutes for relief, you could have it in seconds?

A new "smokable" painkiller from Alexza Pharmaceuticals Inc might just make that a possibility. They're developing drugs that can pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream -- much like nicotine in cigarettes.

The plan is to create an inhaler that looks like a small hip flask, which patients would be able to carry around in their pocket book. Inside the inhaler would be a battery-operated package that heats up a small amount of the drug in liquid form, which would subsequently produce a vapor that the patient could suck into his or her lungs.

Results of a mid-stage clinical trial of the company's migraine drug will be available by the end of March. However, consumers most likely won't have access to the product until at least 2010.

New food pyramid offers renewed nutrition suggestions

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After quite a long while with an outdated USDA Food Pyramid guide, the USDA has unveiled a new Food Pyramid that changes things quite a bit. For example, I never understood why dairy and meat had so much emphasis on the old pyramid (way too much) -- and why fresh fruits and vegetables were not at the "foundation".

Anyway, the new Food Pyramid has vertical bands that represent food groups and the serving suggestions per day as well we multiple areas where physical activity is encouraged (that is awesome), Maybe in 2020 we'll g et another version, eh?

If you're not already, start snacking

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Snacks and snacking usually get a pretty bad rap, but it's really just because of the food most people pick to snack on. The truth is that snacking can be really good for you, and for your diet. Snacking between meals can help hold off hunger pains so you don't end up binging, it boosts your metabolism to help you burn more calories, and it gives you more energy so it's easier to get moving and exercising. Just make sure you pick healthy snack foods, and not potato chips and ice cream, or you'll cancel out the positive benefits.

Public smoking bans spreading in Europe

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After all the bans on smoking in public places here in the U.S., the European Union has urged nations within that bloc to do the same -- and many countries are following along to the better health of their own citizens.

Smoking in public places may seem like a "right" to many, but when that smoke crosses some invisible barrier and affects other patrons, that is where the line must be drawn.

Ireland, Italy and Sweden have already banned smoking in public places -- which European country is next?

Is going to college bad for your memory?

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They need to stop doing studies on college and higher-education, because every time they do I just get more confused.

The latest research finds that people with higher educations suffer faster memory loss as they age. The study looked at people over age 70 and asked them to remember 10 words. The same people were tested up to 4 times between 1993 and 2000, and those with more schooling had a greater loss than those with less. Given, they had more "knowledge" to start with, but a lot of good that did them since they ended up at the same place as their less-educated counterparts in the end.

Okay, so college reduces your risk of stroke as you get older, but now it also increases your risk of memory problems. However will we choose?

Eschewing the kids menu: Children can be food snobs

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I don't have kids, but all the kids I know have pretty much the same diets: Chicken fingers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (on white, with the crusts cut off no less), spaghetti, etc. I even know one kid who will only chicken fingers -- for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegetables are a no-no, while anything sweet and full of empty carbs are a yes please! But, as was reported on Blogging Baby, there are kids out there who prefer the finer foods in life, such as dim sum, sushi, baba ganouj and much more. Apparently, among a certain group of gastronomically-influenced parents, "It's a badge of urban sophisticate honor to have your kid be an adventurous eater".

I think turning kids onto fresher, healthier, less processed foods in a great idea. My well-travelled parents regularly gave me fine things like caviar, fresh seafood and stinky cheeses and to this day, I am an adventurous and healthy eater. But is it feasible to feed stuff like this to kids?

How many calories... in a Caramel Pecanbon from Cinnabon?

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The smell is almost hypnotic... fresh cinnamon buns being pulled from the oven at Cinnabon. And there in the display rack, sitting like cinnamon bun royalty above the rest of their selections, sits the Caramel Pecanbun. Something about the way they make the buns from scratch right in front of you... it almost fools the mind into thinking they might be healthy.

But I'm also not blind. I see the caramel, I see the pecans, and I know there's butter in that dough. So I already know the nutritional details on one of these guys has got to be pretty bad. But I've decided that I need to finally know: how bad is it, exactly?

How many calories and how much fat is in a Cinnabon Caramel Pecanbun?

A) 5 90 calories, 29 grams of fat
B) 700 calories, 33 grams of fat
C) 880 calories, 45 grams of fat
D) 1100 calories, 56 grams of fat

Continue reading How many calories... in a Caramel Pecanbon from Cinnabon?

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Demi Moore quits dieting for daughters

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Three cheers for Demi Moore, who seems to have not let celebrity get in the way being a good role model for her daughters. The actress says that she doesn't want her daughters to obsess about their bodies, which means she had to quit obsessing about her own. She stopped dieting and trying to create that perfect body that she worked so hard for earlier in her career. Her three daughters have different body types, and she wants them to be comfortable in their own skin.

Though I can't think of a mother that doesn't want that, it's awesome to see a celebr ity who still has a successful career make that move for her children. Too often, it's celebrities that are providing the unhealthy images in the first place. So good for you, Demi!

Want to help your daughter develop a positive self-image and plenty of self-confidence? Take a few moments to look over this excellent article on the subject.

Workplace Fitness: Ways to help your career that you might not expect

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When people think of boosting their career, things like working late at the office and getting lots of "face time" with the boss usually come to mind. But in reality being successful, at anything, means taking care of yourself. Stress and a busy schedule can cause you to fall into bad habits and inadvertently sabotage yourself and your career. If you're not getting enough sleep, or you're eating the wrong foods or hitting "happy hour" a little too often, how are you supposed to be your best at work? And if you're not at your best, there's the risk that "coworker Bob" will be, and you just might be overshadowed and outperfo rmed.

Nobody wants to be less than their best, especially in the competitive world of today's workplace. So to get ahead, or stay ahead, it might be worthwhile to take a look at your priorities, and these suggestions for success, that although are common enough may not be your first thoughts regarding benefiting your career:

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Ways to help your career that you might not expect

Bubblewrap used to make prosthetic limbs!

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A 15 year old kid in Nashville, TN has invented an artificial skin-like covering for prosthetic limbs using bubble wrap. The kid, Grayson Rosenburger, found his inspiration through a combination of his parents' work with prosthetic patients in Africa and the Sealed Air Corp's inaugural Bubble Wrap competition for young inventors. Many amputees in Africa can't afford anything but the metal rod version of a prosthesis, but later this year Grayson plans to travel with his parents to start putting his invention to use in the real world by offering people his low-cost bubble wrap alternative.

I spend my time popping the bubbles and giggling anytime I get a hold of bubble wrap packaging, so it's good to know there's people out there doing things that are seriously worthwhile!

Critical water shortage by 2080 feared

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Although the debate continues to rage on about global warming, glacier melting, natural resource plundering and the like, one thing is certain -- the civilized and industrialized world as we know it (even the less-civilized world) cannot survive without two things -- the sun and a supply of fresh water.

The future is an unknown, but many experts fear that a lack of fresh water supplies -- more than anything else -- will leave millions *dry* and as critical water shortages in China and Australia occur, along with parts of Europe and the United St ates.

A new global climate report states that by the end of the century, climate change will bring water scarcity to between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people. The problem? There are expected to be almost 9 billion people on the planet by then.

Getting rid of 'eye gunk' using lasers

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Have you ever looked at a bright object or light and saw little "floating things" that seem to live on the top of your eyeball? Many of us have seen these objects that appear almost transparent, but are sometimes madding nonetheless.

How about laser surgery to get rid of these things forever? While the "objects" are hardly a recurring nuisance for most of us, certain ye doctors -- who call them "vitreous opacities" -- can obliterate them using laser technology, although the procedure has drawn regulatory scrutiny lately.

Nearly everybody has 'floaters' or will develop them at some point. They are easily recognizable as they float through a person's field of vision -- looking like specks or even snakes.

Exposure to sun is good for you

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Ever hear the phrase "stay out of the sun!"? I have and I bet at some point you have as well from your parents or guardians. But many of us now know that decent amounts of sun exposure is actually very beneficial to health.

After all, human civilizations were almost always formed under thousands of years under direct sunlight, so it is presumptuous for us to think that we always need to use sunscreen or sunblock to ensure we don't get "any" sun.

Sun exposure, after all, helps the body produce its own Vitamin K -- think of it (no more supplementation...well, sort of). Seriously though, about 10 minutes of exposure to the sun (as much of your lovely bod as possible) is suggested by many health experts -- even for light-skinned folks.

Study finds brain bleeds in 25% of newborns

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When I was pregnant with my first child, my OB wouldn't schedule an ultrasound after 5 weeks gestation. He said that as long as the baby and I appeared healthy, there wasn't any reason for it. With my second child, I had a different doctor who scheduled two or three throughout the pregnancy. The final ultrasound set off a flurry of tests and follow up ultrasounds when they thought there was something wrong with the baby's kidneys. Several ultrasounds later, I finally gave (normal, uncomplicated) birth to a healthy, happy child. None of those tests were necessary and in the end caused me more stress and worry than anything else. As my first d octor said, "Sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous."

That's a very long story to explain to you how I feel about this story. I can see myself hovering over my firstborn, worrying over the umbilical cord. If I had known about brain bleeds, I probably wouldn't have been able to relax enough to enjoy the little sleep I got those first few weeks. Expectant mothers don't need more to worry over, we do enough of that already. Though I have no medical training and don't want to be glib about this finding, my instincts tell me that this is a normal side effect of birth and that the findings won't change anything in the long run about labor and delivery. Any moms or OBs out there interested in chiming in?