Wednesday, 7 February 2007

This is how I feel smoke-free, 1 month later

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It is no news flash that there are many rewards in trying to stop smoking. After smoking bans started popping up all over the place, the urge to spread the health benefits to those already hooked seems just as important as ever. That appears to be the same reasoning behind why this author decided to convey how he feels at the end of one month of being completely smoke-free< /a>.

After trying to kick the habit many times before, he prefaces the article by saying he's been an ex-smoker in his past, but that it takes a mental transition to finally curb the habit. Now he is psychologically prepared to be a non-smoker for good, and this is how he feels.

Mentally he says he feels stronger, relaxed, more confident and more attentive. He's also more efficient since he doesn't get caught going outside every so often for a smoke. Socially speaking, the author says he is now able to better interact with people since he doesn't reek of fumes. On the physical side of things, he doesn't get out of breath as easily and his frequent coughing is all but gone.

Like it's been said before, these are only a few of the reasons to kick the routine of nicotine. This guy seems to have all of the pros for going cold turkey. Although it probably won't be as easy as just dropping it so abruptly, even a slow transition to a smoke-free life is better than leading one fueled by lighting up daily. Don't believe it?

Food packages with fruit pictures don't always have fruit ingredients

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Do you ever wonder what the real ingredients are in those trendy and colorful food packages you see all over the place in just about every grocery store?

I've grown accustomed to looking at the "Nutrition Facts" labels for almost all foods I buy -- but something that is just as important are the ingredients inside all those foods. If a package says "All Natural" or "Contains Real Fruit Flavor", those lofty claims are sometimes not all what they seem.

"Real Fruit Flavor" says "real fruit" to many consumers, but not all claims such as this one mean anything. "Real Fruit" and "Real Fruit Flavor" are two completely different things, yes?

Yogurt: the next thing in beauty products?

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We eat yogurt for the calcium, for the healthy bacteria, even to keep our digestive systems regular. But with the release of Essensis this month, we'll now may be able to eat yogurt to improve our skin.

The French dairy company Danone plans to launch Essensis in France and Spain in February, followed by Belgium and Italy next month. The company claims the new yogurt -- with borage oil, vitamin E, and green tea antioxidants -- will nourish skin from the inside and that consumers should expect results after a mont h of eating the new product.

The move toward functional food products is clearly on the rise. We see yogurts -- like Activia -- which can soothe constipation, bottled waters infused with vitamins, even the launch of super-powered Diet Coke Plus, rumored to happen this spring. Danone is taking advantage of this trend to create a new kind of product, what the article calls "nutritional cosmetics."

Whether it works or not remains to be seen, and I'm sure we'll see other companies will follow suit with similar products before too long. If you're interested in eating your way to better skin, here's an article that can get you started.

Exercise won't increase that knee arthritis risk

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Are you into low-impact exercise like Pilates or using an elliptical machine every day? There are those that are fearful of higher-impact exercises like jogging or even running -- for fear of developing joint issues down the road as those knees and even hips are jostled around like screws in a jar.

But, recent studies have shown that moderate exercise doesn't increase the risk of developing arthritis in the knees of older adults -- and even if they are overweight. That comes as a surprise, since conventional wisdom says the more impact joints get (without the proper cushioning), the more like problems are to develop with those joints.

Erectile dysfunction count in U.S.: 18 million

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We all seem to see these "male enhancement" commercials o TV these days that are 1) really goofy (male enhancement of...what?) and 2) a oil can really do those things? Well, I am being a little cheeky ere, but you get the jist.

More than 18 million men in America suffer from erectile dysfunction these days -- a huge amount all things considered with the current state of the .S. population and all.

But, help may be available in more than a little pill according to a new study from respected medical institution Johns Hopkins' University. The c ure, if you will? Simple lifestyle changes suggests the new research. things such as ensuring regular exercise and physical activity may be the end-all, be-all of getting rid of that impotence problem -- are you up for it?

Exercise gets you more from your flu shot

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Working out before you get your flu shot may help you get better results. In a study of 60 college students, the women who worked out by lifting weights 6 hours before receiving their flu shot developed more antibodies over the following 5 months than the women who didn't do any strength training. And the men who lifted weights had a greater cell-mediated response over the following months, but didn't have any more antibodies.

Why the difference between men and women? Researchers aren't sure, but with this in hand they are sure now that exercise stimulates antibody production, and that they've got a good start on finding simple things people can do to boost vaccination results.

Fatty-tissue stem cells transplanted into heart

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The promise of using stem cells in various treatments for all types of ailments continues to garner national and global attention these days ... but would you believe that stem cells from fatty tissue could eve be used in the heart itself? Sounds like an oxymoron, eh?

But, doctors have accomplished just that -- liposuction stem cells were used to transplant into a patient's heart recently in an odd reversal of fortune medical situation. It's odd that stem cells fro a part of the body that is a result of excess fat (most likely) was used to repair heart t issue in semi-breakthrough fashion.

Will John Edwards have a different view on universal health care this time?

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With the presidential hopefuls now beginning to throw their hats into the ring for the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections, one thing that will be at the top of everyone's campaign platform will be health care, and re-vamping the system here in the U.S. to tray and take care of the 40+ million citizens who don't have health insurance -- and thus, little access to health care.

John Edwards -- the 2004 Presidential running mate of candidate and U.S. Senator John Kerry -- will be running for president in 2008 -- and many eyes and ears will be wondering if he'll trot out a same-old incremental plan to help make health insurance more affordable.

Will Edwards put forth a plan that covers every U.S. citizen this time, unlike his previous plan? If so, I'll be very interested in hearing the details as they come out of his campaign. Read link - subscription required for full access.

Workplace Fitness: Feel like eating breakfast, even when you're in a rush

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Few things are more difficult, in my opinion, than making yourself eat breakfast when you just don't feel like it. Our brains are wired against eating when we're not hungry, and when you're rushing off to work in the morning it's easy to think you're doing yourself a favor and saving calories by skipping that first meal. Many people aren't hungry when they first get up, feeling anywhere from downright nauseous when they think of eating to simply n ot hungry or like they need a few hours to let their stomachs "wake up." Combine that with a rushed morning schedule, where there's so much to do and so little time, and it's easy to see how breakfast takes a back seat.

Sadly, this tendency not to eat in the AM doesn't help your weight loss and health efforts at all, and may even be preventing you from being your best on the job. And although many of us know this it's just so hard to make yourself eat something when you really don't feel like it. So, instead of preaching the benefits of eating breakfast yet again, this article gives us more useful information -- tricks and ideas on how to actually feel like eating breakfast in the morning:

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Feel like eating breakfast, even when you're in a rush

How good are DIY cholesterol tests?

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If you're afraid of having high cholesterol levels, you've probably been to our primary care physician recently to have some bloodwork done in order to measure those HDL, LDL and Triglyceride levels.

But what about do-it-yourself tests you can administer at home in private? Are they trustworthy? Most likely, they are cheaper than a visit to the doctor's office (maybe), but without being as thorough, these tests are nothing ore than a rough indication -- or are they?

Want the lowdown on which home cholesterol testing kits can be trusted? Try this on for size and see for yourself -- and do your own research when you make your choice.

Are some recent birth control products too dangerous?

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The plethora of birth control methods leaves nobody out these days -- from pills to devices to chemicals to...well, you get the picture. With the release of quite a few new birth control "pills" on the market in the last few years, there have been some safety concerns on several of these products.

From the possibility of developing blood clots to other complications, and advocacy group is pushing for the banning of birth control products (or renewing a protest, I should say) against birth control products that have these possibly dangerous side effects like tw ice the risk of blood clots and the like.

The advocacy group also sad that newer contraceptives are no better than older ones that did not show more risks for patients.

Can loneliness be linked to Alzheimer's Disease?

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It's been said in the past that people with a small social network of family and friends have a higher risk of Alzheimer's Disease, and a new study corroborates those finding by stating that lonely individuals are twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The new study focused on the effects of emotional isolation in which people perceive themselves as feeling socially isolated and disconnected from others. This can happen even in this day and age when there are more people in the U.S. and on the planet than ever, and can happen even if people are surrounded by family and friends.

The previous study in this area focused on actual social network size, which this new study focused in on a person's perception of being alone, regardless of social network size.

Bigger warnings coming to cigarette packages, probably

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I've always wondered why the warnings on cigarette packages and cartons did not appear more prominently on said packaging. After all, those warnings -- which are mostly disregarded by smokers in the first place -- utilize language that i, well, bland and uninteresting. No wonder most smokers do not pay attention.

But, like other countries before it, those cigarette warnings may be getting larger in the near future -- and these newly revamped warnings may be much larger and more graphic instead of just containing mere words.

A recent study indicated that nearly 15,000 adult smokers in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia were used to test the effectiveness of the warning labels used in those four countries. In a non-surprise event, the U.S. labels -- by far the smallest and least detailed -- were also the least effective. Imagine if we saw labels like the one above on cigarette packages here in the U.S.

Signs of heat exhaustion (in winter!)

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It's hard to imagine anyone collapsing from heat exhaustion in the middle of winter, but the season -- while having a direct affect on the number of cases -- does not preclude folks from having heat-related illnesses.

Furnaces that are turned up too much, overdoing it when exercising in hot conditions and even too much exposure to the sun (even in winter) can lead to even slight heat-related illnesses. how do you know if you're being affected?

Try these symptoms on for size:

* Weakness or dizziness with nausea or headache.
* Cool, clammy skin and/or excessive sweating.
* Ashen color.
* Extre me thirst, loss of appetite and dry mouth.
* Weak or tired muscles that may cause collapse or cramping.

Do you need more vitamin D?

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Last week, we talked about how the rules on sun exposure and sunscreen might be changing. When we spend a short time in the sun each day, our bodies manufacture vitamin D, a necessary nutrient and something that's hard to get as efficiently elsewhere. A recent study has now found that having appropriatly high levels of vitamin D circulating in yo ur body can significantly reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

If you're taking a daily vitamin, you're probably getting about 400 IU of vitamin D each day, in addition to the amount you get through milk or fish. Some experts believe that's not enough, and are suggesting people add vitamin D supplements to their diets. Part of the reason many of us are deficient in the vitamin is that it's only available in a few foods -- mostly milk and oily fish like mackeral -- and because of we don't get enough sunshine.

What's an appropriate amount of time in the sun? Experts say 15 minutes for fair-skinned people and 25-minutes for those with darker skin, and that you should have about 50% of your skin exposed. Also, delay taking a shower right away or d ipping into the pool; your vitamin D levels will get a boost from allowing sweat and oil to sit on your skin a little longer.

Continue reading Do you need more vitamin D?

How many calories ... in an Arby's Turkey and Swiss Sandwich?

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I'm not much of a red meat eater, but I do love a good turkey sandwich, so when I saw that Arby's had introduced a line of Market Fresh Sandwiches, I was pumped. Veggies, some lean protein and fresh multigrain bread are an ideal alternative to processed cheese sauces on fatty cuts of meat in white bread. I was even more excited when I tried them -- they're delicious! But my experience has told me that delicious things from fast-food restaurants are sometimes too good to be true. Is this one of those instances? Let's see. How many calories does the Roast Turkey and Swiss sandwich at Arby's have?

a) 869 cal, 65 g of fat

b) 725 ca l, 30 g of fat

c) 550 cal, 24 g of fat

d) 466 cal, 18 g of fat

Continue reading How many calories ... in an Arby's Turkey and Swiss Sandwich?

St. John's Wort: Is it or isn't it good for depression?

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Frustratingly enough, the jury is still out on this one. But in reading this article it does sound more promising than not. St. John's Wort, otherwise known as Hypericum Perforatum, has been used for more than 2400 years -- maybe even by Hippocrates himself. And in the majority of studies performed in both past and recent years there has be en at least some relationship shown between taking the herb and experiencing a decrease in signs and symptoms of depression. There have been contradicting studies also, but they seem limited to how St. John's Wort affects people with minor symptoms compared to more serious ones.

Although it is generally mild and safe as far as herbal supplements go, don't take it too lightly. St. John's Wort can have some significant side-effects like dizziness, photosenstivity, and even decreased fertility. And never, ever, take St. John's Wort if you're already taking other meds for depression.

Bottom line? St. John's Wort may be right for you, but be sure to check with your doctor first.

Cherries get a makeover as the new "superfruit"

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Hey, haven't you heard? Cherries are the new "it" fruit and can cure everything from gout to arthritis and prevent cancer as well. Oh, you haven't heard that yet? Well, with their new campaign -- focused especially on the Internet community -- the Cherry Marketing Institute hopes we'll all soon be looking at tart cherries in a whole new light.

Studies have shown that there really is something special about tart cherries. They're rich in antioxidants, which are known t o fight cancer-causing free radicals. Some studies suggest that cherries -- which are rich in melatonin -- can improve sleep, and others say they've been drinking cherry juice for decades to relieve arthritis and gout as well. Though the CMI calls them the new "superfruit," the FDA warns that claims can not be put on product packaging unless they've been scientifically proven.

For years, tart cherries have been viewed as a dessert food. Even today, as I did a cursory search for cherry recipes, I mostly found recipes with the words "pie" or "cobbler" in the title. (Though I did find this list, which promises a few non-dessert type dishes.) It'll be interesting to see cherries rise through the ranks of nutritious foods and shake off their former fat and sugar filled image. Anyone have a recipe for a cherry smoothie?

Arkansas passing bill for cleaner shopping carts

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What you aren't aware of can't hurt you, right? We wish. Here is something that doesn't ring a bell every time we go to pick up our groceries: the handles of shopping carts are literally crawling with disgusting bacteria and germs. Okay, so the fear of using such a common item could border on obsessive compulsive, but that isn't stopping the state of Arkansas from passing legislation encouraging businesses to clean up those buggies.

How is this for following up with your constituency: legislator Fred Allen from Little Rock put the "Arkansas Health-Conscious Shopper Program" bill into action after hearing from many older women during his campaigning last fall. They voiced concerns over not wanting to go shopping due to the dirty nature of grocery carts. Mr. Allen thought they were on to something so he pitched the legislation and even cited a University of Arizona study which uncovered the truth about the matter.

It turns out that shopping cart handles are one of the dirtiest public surfaces you can touch, right next to public door handles and vending machines. Makes you think twice before putting your child in the front seat of one, doesn't it? Don't worry though, as germy as they might appear you would be hard-pressed to find medical cases where someone died from picking up their weekly shopping list.

Video games good for your eyes!

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A recent study by the University of Rochester found a surprising benefit of playing video games: improved eyesight. Researchers discovered that those who played action video games for a few hours a day bettered their vision by 20 percent.

But wait -- aren't video games supposed to hurt your eyesight? What gives?

According to professor Daphne Bavelier, who led the study, "These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."

And with that in mind, I'll feel justified in playing a little more Mario Kart than normal.