Wednesday, 14 February 2007

"Food Dudes" promote kids' health care

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When original and workable programs come along that address the nutritional needs of kids, I instantly become a huge fan in most cases. Programs that encourage healthy eating and the banishment of soft drinks and junk foods are sometimes hard to find, but they are increasing as even parents find out that when you put garbage in a child, garbage sometimes comes out.

The "Food Dudes" of Ireland pitch carrots and broccoli instead of sugary and unhealthy breakfast cereals. The appeal to kids, the Food Dudes are preteen actors playing superheroes in an educational video series.

In other words, these are not boring adults that kids can't relate to -- they are kids near the age of many millions in schools -- and they battle "General Junk". This, from what I can tell, is a very positive program from all respects. Talk about a role model for the U.S. We need it now more than ever.

Bloomberg requests federal gov't help for 9/11 health care

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The amount of health complications by those directly affected by the 9/11 disaster is just now starting to be seen in a widespread way.

As such, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked federal government authorities to provide $1 billion to the 9/11 Victims' Compensation Fund that actually closed in 2004 -- based on the health complications that are now just springing up -- and will continue to do so most likely.

Bloomberg's plea for support states that there will be a $400 million annual bill for the care of problems with 9/11 victims and that the city can't afford to provide this care without fed eral support.

It's the thought that counts: thinking you got a great workout may make you healthier

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Could the perception that you've gotten a good workout offer you health benefits, even if you never broke a sweat? That's something researchers are trying to figure out after an intriguing study published earlier this month.

Researchers compiled a group of 84 female hotel housekeepers and told one group that their daily work responsibilities met the exercise requirements for a healthy lifestyle. The other group was left alone and no further changes were made in either group. Four weeks later, they returned and found that the women in the group that had been told they were exercising were two pounds lighter, had lower blood pressure, and had improved BMI and body fat percentages. The positive changes in their health were significant compared to the control group, especially considering the short period of time.

Researchers don't know if the physical health benefits were direct or indirect, but they do agree that a person's mindset plays a large part in weight loss success. I think it's possible that once these women thought they were improving their health by "exercising," they may have started taking better care of themselves in other ways. What do you think?

Baby vaccine causing severe bowel complications

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The RotaVeq vaccine is being cited as the cause of a serious and potentially deadly bowel disease in 28 U.S. babies.

In a nutshell, all of the babies developed intussusception -- where the intestine gets blocked or twisted. This after having taken the RotaTeq vaccine from all accounts.

Sixteen of the 28 babies required hospitalization and surgery, while the remaining babies required enemas. So how did RotaTeq -- which vaccinates against rotavirus -- cause intestine issues so severe?

Well, it is not known 100% that RotaTeq caused the babies' intussusception. But, in a similar situation, RotaShield -- another rotavirus vaccin e -- was withdrawn from the market in 1999 after a rise in intussusception was noted after its use.

Six tips for beautiful lips

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Just in time for Valentine's Day, here are some great tips for making your lips kissably soft. Winter's cold, dry air and excess of indoor heat make dry and chapped lips a common problem of the season. Lip balms make for a quick-fix, but what irritated lips need are healing from the inside and out.

Lip balms contain skin protectents, but to really create luscious lips you need a product that is rich in anti-oxidants. You can go out and buy products like this one and this one or you can try some of these home remedies. In addition to treatment, an ounce of prevention will help keep lips soft and supple all winter long. Don't abuse your lips by licking or chewing on them, drink plenty of water to keep skin and lips hydrated, and take fish, flax, or borage oil in addition to your multi-vitamin.

So there you have it...your guide to soft and beautiful lips. It's Valentine's Day, why not go put those new, luscious lips to good use?

High carb intake no correlation to colon cancer

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Eating a large amount of carbohydrates does not appear to increase the risk of women developing colon cancer according to a new report.

While eating a good dose of carbs per day may pack on the pounds as all those starches are stored in the body if not burned, the correlation to the development of colon cancer appears to be nil, even though there is experimental evidence to suggest that abnormal sugar and carbohydrate metabolism plays a role in the development of colon cancer.

Cohesive data -- so far -- is lacking for humans, but this recent study from Sweden may be telling to a point. Still, lowering overall carb intake is a way to control weight (as least for me).

Mistaken heart transplants working for infants

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The ability of the rapidly developing human body never ceases to amaze me. In that vein, infants who have heart transplants just after being born have been known to receive donor hearts -- ones that did not match the recipients blood type, though.

Not only are these recipients surviving, these transplants are showing the medical community that the immune systems in infants have a few oddities that can be bypassed using standard surgical techniques which allow terminally-ill babies to develop -- and develop normally.

Will this cut down on the number of kids who die each year waitin g for heart transplants from "compatible" donors? Who knows -- but the outlook looks promising enough.

Biofeedback helps jaw disorder pain

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If you've ever been through a pain coping class to learn to deal with chronic pain, several of you probably know that pain management can be just as mentally controlled as it is physically manifested -- in some cases. A new form of supplemental therapy that deals with the pain that comes along with a common jaw disorder, though, also lower s treatment costs over time, according to a new study.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) affects more than 10% of Americans and it right behind low back pain in terms of being the most pain-causing muscular and skeletal condition.

A recent study in Texas showed that patients were taught about the mind-body relationship, the body's reaction to stress, and relaxation in everyday settings -- including feedback. Result? Lowered levels of pain after one year.

New doctors get experience with "fake" patients

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Here's a question for our female readers -- how many of you enjoyed your last pelvic exam? I can't imagine many of you are jumping up and down shouting, "Me! Me!" Though necessary, pelvic exams are rarely even comfortable and never something we look forward to. Now imagine if you had one four times a week, voluntarily. That's exactly what Kat Wentworth does.

Offering her services and the services of her employees to medical schools, Wentworth and her staff help new and nervous doctors find ease in their bedside manner. Though she guides medical students through plenty of pelvics, "fake" patients across the country can portray a variety of symptoms that might indicate a variety of disorders, giving students the chance to practice their diagnostic skills and then learn from their mistakes.

Don't feel too sorry for Wentworth and her counterparts...they earn good pay for their time. But the services they provide are an invaluable teaching tool for medical students and for future patients. After all, no matter what diagnostic test you're undergoing, no one wants to hear, "Congratulations! This is my very first time," from their doctor, do they?

More fat, less muscle comes with age

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Did you know that increasing fat and decreasing muscle was likely to plague you while you were busy aging? With obesity becoming an epidemic in the U.S., it seems that many older men (and women) are already fatter as they enter old age these days -- and that's not a good thing.

Along with all that muscle that becomes underused, all the extra fat increases risks for arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and disability, according to a new study.

That seems rather obvious, but when taken with age-related body composition changes, are older folks and baby boomers poised to be very unhealthy as they approach those golden ages?

One form of autism, Rett Syndrome, may be curable

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Good news for some parents and children dealing with autism: one form of the disorder, Rett syndrome, may be reversible.

Unlike most forms of autism, Rett syndrome does have a known cause -- mutation of the MECP2 gene. But recent research with mice shows that when the MECP2 gene is restored so is normal function and behavior. Of course more research needs to be done to determine if the result is the same in humans as it is in mice, and then to determine just what the treatment might be. But armed with this new knowledge, scientists and doctors can proceed with a much brighter outlook.

Lawmakers riled up over FDA oversight lapses

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It's not exactly a secret that many informed citizens don't really trust the FDA these days, what with pharmaceutical companies in the back pockets of politicians and so many poisons being in so many things we eat and drink. As always, it remains the consumer's responsibility to research their own health and act accordingly.

Lawmakers took that angle recently when they criticized the FDA's monitoring of the risks of a Sanofi-Aventis antibiotic -- Ketek -- and the recent PR messes with Vioxx and other drugs that were found to be harmf ul to many patients.

The FDA was accused of stifling dissent by the laymakers, and of course drugmakers disagreed as I would expect them to in order for profit protection at all costs.

Intensive care causes smokers to quit the habit

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If you have smoked in the past and ended up kicking the habit for good, what was the secret to your success? Nicotine patches? Sheer willpower? A bout of cancer? Drugs? How about intensive therapy?

U.S. researchers reported this week that an intensive stop-smoking program with at least three months of counseling and free drugs was able to help smokers stop smoking. The program helped 39% of smokers stay tobacco-free for two years.

Now, those numbers sound pretty promising -- between a third and half of smokers that entered this program were able to become smoke-free for two years. That ought to be enough to encourage any smoker to research options to kick the habit.

How many calories... in that box of Valentine's chocolates?

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Happy Valentine's Day! Chances are that many of you are reading this with a box of chocolates sitting on your desk next to the keyboard. After all, candy is the second most commonly received Valentine's Day gift (after, of course, flowers).

But how badly is is that box of chocolates going to mess up your diet plan? A typical serving size of chocolates is 2 pieces, but it's Valentine's Day! If I'm lucky enough to receive a box of chocolates I don't know if I'll have the willpower to limit my intake to only 2 little pieces per serving.

Okay, so let's face our absolute worst-case scenario and say that we end up eating an entire box of chocolates over the course of the day (one pound isn't as large of a box as you might think! The huge heart-shaped boxes can sometimes be two or even three pounds.) Approximately how many calories are in a one-pound box of chocolates?

A) 700 calories
B) 1000 calories
C) 1400 calories
D) 2000 calories

Continue reading How many calories... in that box of Valentine's chocolates?

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Workplace Fitness: 6 steps to a stress-free career

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Pretty much anybody who works for a living has had those days on the job where you just want to pull your hair out and scream. And then march into your boss's office and quit, right then and there, to be rid of the all the stress. Hopefully those days are few and far between, but if they're more common than not you should probably take a serious look at some ways to deal with stress in a healthier way, before you snap and do something impulsive that could land you and your care er in a bad way, or even damage your health.

1) Create a nice work area for yourself. An amazing number of things can impact your stress level while you work, including lighting, temperature, ambience, and even the height of partitions.

2) Take control and increase your status. This is the idea that if you make yourself important and needed, you'll have more control over things like when you take your vacation, how things flow and work in your team, and even your hours/schedule and pay scale.

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: 6 steps to a stress-free career

Five easy ways to change your diet for the better

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When it's time to overhaul your diet, it can feel overwhelming. When you eliminate foods, you have to replace them with something. Unless you want to be stuck eating raw carrots every day for lunch, you're going to have to learn to enjoy and prepare new foods. That kind of change doesn't happen over night, which is why I like the advice from this article. It lists five easy changes you can make to start improving your diet today:
  1. Try new foods: Widen your nutritional horizons by trying something new. Check out All Recipes for some new ideas or try this recipe finder that lets you search by ingredient.
  2. Eat in: Restaurant portions are huge and you have no say over what goes into them. Eating at home -- even in a hurry -- can still mean eating well. Check out Saving Dinner for recipes you can prepare ahead and freeze.

Continue reading Five easy ways to change your diet for the better

Have a Carbon Monoxide detector?

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We've all heard quite a bit about this lately -- installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home or apartment just like the ordinary smoke detector. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, you can't really perceive it in the air -- but it is deadly at a certain concentration.

How many of you has installed carbon monoxide detectors in your home? And, where are the best placed to put them? Many experts suggest near fireplaces and kitchens since those are two main source s of unventilated carbon monoxide problems. Perhaps a few detectors is the key?

Now that the prices of these once-expensive detectors have come down a bit, there's no reason not to have one. It's cheap insurance for older homes that may have "cracks in the pipes."

Preventing mold in the home

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Are you wary of the mold levels in your home? Damp and wet places like showers, tubs, sinks and faucets are all hiding places where mold can grow and prosper -- and in some cases, be deadly.

Simple disinfectants can be an easy way to get rid of the problem, and I've even known people who use simple bleach to ensure mold and mildew stays in its place -- as in, nowhere to be found.

With that -- here are some tips to keep mold at bay.

-- In bathrooms, install an exhaust fan or open a window when showering to prevent moisture build-up.
-- If you have a plumbing leak -- especially in the basement -- repair i t quickly.
-- Avoid carpeting in bathrooms, as it can retain moisture.
-- Scrub bathtubs and sinks at least monthly, preferably with a bleach-based cleaner to kill mold.
-- Clean garbage cans regularly.
-- On humid days, use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.

A guy's workout gear: Nike Airshox and Under Armor

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Guys -- need the "right" apparel to make your workouts comfortable and stress-free? Stress is a hurting foot or a chafing thigh, but I've found surefire ways to beat both. While not the cheapest thing, they make my exercise routine rather nice and enjoyable, if you can believe that.

Under Armor underlayers are essential -- both as a shirt covering and an underwear. Sweat and chafing won't know what hit it when you pout these puppies on.

Into jogging, treadmilling and elliptical use? Try Nike Airshox shoes. These are about the only shoes I've found that take almost all the check away from the heel of your foot and transfer it -- well, so mewhere. Note: I only use these shoes for jogging and running (and equipment use) -- never for standard walking or street use

What to eat for the best Valentine's Day ever

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Looking to spice things up this Valentine's Day? A good place to start may be what you have for dinner, and despite what you may think it's not all about foods with aphrodisiac properties. It's also about avoiding foods that are going to do nothing but make you feel sleepy and sluggish, because feeling like a bloated whale is just not sexy.

Foods like salmon and other seafood are good choices for the Omega-3 fatty acids, and also things high in L-Arginine, like many kinds of nuts, garlic, and ginseng. Whatver what you decide to have, just be sure you don't overstuff yourself. Eating too much of anything can put a serious kink in your plans, romantic or otherwise!

Scientists clone mice from hair follicle stem cell

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As stem cell research marches on these days, there is no lack of news on how using stem cells may be able to one day cur all kinds of diseases and ailments -- and to clone mammals.

The "clone mammals" part is a little disconcerting to many, but researchers have reported as of this week that mice have been cloned using stem cells -- from the hair follicles of those same mice.

The U.S. team of researchers says that the stem cells from adult mice are relatively easy to obtain and inject. Will this be opening the door to more experimentation on the cloning of mammals from their own stem cells? Science marches on.

Get a long, lean body in a Fluidity class

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If I say the words ballet class you're imagination will probably conjure up images of little girls in leotards and tights or performers dancing on a stage. It seems that when we grow up, we outgrow ballet as a form of exercise (unless, of course, you're talented enough to become a professional). It's a shame, really, because ballet is a tough workout that creates long, lean muscles.

Now you can indulge that child inside in a grown up way. Michelle Austin's Fluidity class is a ballet-inspired workout, complete with ballet-style bar. The exercises combine ballet and yoga moves that use a person's own body weight as resistance, which is just how dance rs build their own strength and agility.

Fluidity is also sold as a kit for you to use in your own home, complete with bar. The price is steep, though the kit appears to be complete with everything you need. If you always dreamed of being a dancer, or just of having a dancer's body, this might just be the workout for you.

Breastfed kids climb social ladder more easily

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A new British study concluded that breastfed babies are likely to become better educated and more upwardly mobile adults -- compared to bottle-fed peers. Do you agree with this? The data coming out of the study includes over 3,000 studied babies, for a start.

I'm not sure how a study that began in 1937 can have varying accuracy, but it is what it is. It tracked 1,414 British children into late adulthood -- so yes, I guess it needed to have started earlier.

The main result: those children that were breastfed as infants were 41% more likely to move up the social ladder. For more on the study, see this.

Donating blood is good for you

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Here's one more reason to help your local blood bank: giving blood may actually be good for the donor, as well as the recipient. Donating keeps the body's circulatory system healthy, as it reduces stores of iron.

In a recent study examining men and women with peripheral arterial disease -- a condition where arteries have narrowed, restricting blood flow to the limbs -- blood was drawn from some participants to promote iron reduction. In those aged 43 to 61, researchers saw fewer deaths and fewer nonfatal heart attacks in the iron-reduction group.

According to Dr. Leo Zacharski, who authored the study, letting blood is "safe and inexpensive, and correlates to routine blood donation (and) appears to contribute to improved vascular health."

One billion poor suffer from debilitating disease

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If you have adequate access to health care resources and eat the right things, health should come naturally to most. But to those who live in under-developed and poor countries with little access to health care and nutrition that is far from adequate, disease and malnutrition can set in very easily.

In fact, over one billion people in tropical countries are suffering from debilitating and disfiguring diseases due to the lack of official/governmental neglect, according to po verty and health officials.

Why is it some countries can take care of their own and others cannot? Access to global trade and resources is just one of many reasons, and no amount of help from others can change things in most cases. Countries need to want to change, yes?

Finish this winter with as few colds as possible

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The flu and the cold are so similar, yet so different at the same time. Many of the same methods for avoiding the flu will also help you avoid a cold, but not the single biggest flu-fighter we have -- the flu shot. There is no "shot" for the common cold, and although you can get the flu more than once in a season most people don't. Now colds are another story, with many people getting cold after cold after cold until the warm weather finally hits and they get some relief.

So with all this talk lately of avoiding the flu, don't forget to do what you can to save yourself a cold or two also. See this article for some handy home remedies that just may save you a few boxes of Puffs Plus.