Sunday, 18 February 2007

You're not the only one Googling the Lemonade Diet

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You know those quiet, still hours late at night or early in the morning when you click through the internet while everyone else is sleeping? Or the (ahem) minute (or two) at work you steal away for a quick search on something that keeps popping into your mind in between projects?

In those moments, you're not alone. Researchers around the globe are busy watching what you're searching for online. Here, one such researcher shares what he's learned monitoring the hits of 10 million internet users a day, specifically graphing how many people are typing "diets" and "exercise" into Google, Yahoo! and other engine search bars.

His brief and interesting sketch of what kind of diets we seek in the New Year is revealing, if not a little embarassing. While our searches certainly don't indicate whether we're actually following a plan or eating healthy, these stats do uncover our preoccupation with getting the skinny on (shake your head with me now) new, flashy and supposedly fast-acting diets.
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Energy drinks and exercise: a dangerous combination

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While energy drinks like Red Bull or Full Throttle can help you push throw a drowsy spell, medical experts say combining the drinks with exercise could lead to serious consequences.

All the drinks contain caffeine, and some contain additional, similar herbs -- which, in "small doses," says Elisa Zied of the American Diabetic Association, "can improve your mental performance and physical performance." However, because the drinks contain at least as much caffeine as a cup of coffee -- if not 2 to 3 times that much -- and excessive amounts of caffeine "increase your risk of getting dehydrated," the drinks can cause cramps, elevated body temperature, and -- when conditions are especially severe -- abnormal heart rates.

If you are a fan of energy drinks, experts advise drinking extra water to "offset the effects that these drinks have on the body."

Not feeling good? Maybe you should check your horoscope

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Could your asthma be flaring up because you're a Pisces? Do you have arthritis because you're a Gemini? Look out...you're an Aries and they're famous for developing back problems later in life. Am I joking? Yes, absolutely, I am, but researchers recently did a study to find out which diseases were more likely to happen to people according to their sign of the Zodiac, and the results were surprising: each star sign appeared to have two or more health conditions associated with it.

I haven't read my horoscope in years, does that mean I should start? No. When the test was repeated, the results were disproved. The study was completed as a tongue-in-cheek exercise to demonstrate to researchers that when they start looking for answers in their work, they need to take care that the conclusions they make are truly proven by the research. Not a bad lesson for us all, though, don't you think?

Eating in large groups ups food intake in kids

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Children are creatures of habit and peer pressure -- much like their adult counterparts in many cases. One area, though, there joining in with the group can have bad effects deals with overeating.

A new study concluded that when children snack together in large groups, they tend to eat about a third more than when they snack with just a couple of friends. That is a little surprising -- there are two groups here (one large and one small). The trick is to find the difference and seal the notion on why kids overeat when there is a bunch of other kids around.

In the study, the children in the larger groups (as opposed to the smaller groups where kids ate less) started to eat sooner and more quickly. They also spent less time socializing than children in the smaller groups. Interesting stuff here, as maybe the obesity gripping some of the nation's kids is a partial function of social setting (in addition to all that junk food, most likely).

How to avoid workout injuries

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Most of us that are into working out have pushed ourselves a little too far -- sometimes to the point where it hurts. This is a normal part of understanding where your limits are, but generally speaking, you should never experience pain while you're exercising. Back pain, neck aches, joint soreness and other symptoms may indicate that your technique is wrong, or you're doing too much, too fast, or that you need to see a doctor.

To minimize the chances that you'll injure yourself, ease into your workout. Your warm-up should take at least 15 minutes, and include things like gentle jogging, or jumping jacks to get your cardiovascular and lung systems going. You should obviously stretch -- but don't overdo it here either. The idea is to get the muscles and joints relaxed, so work slowly, and gradually.

If you're trying something brand new, you may want to seek advice from an expert. There's no shame in asking for help -- especially when poor technique is the leading cause of injury behind bad warm-ups or over-exertion.

Above all, listen to yourself, and use common sense. Your abilities aren't going to dramatically change overnight. Working yourself into the ground today only increases the chances that you won't try again tomorrow.

[via Tips and Answers]

Thigh workout without weights

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Want to shape and strengthen your thighs, but don't want to buy weights? Here's a helpful video I bumped into outlining a few exercises you can do at home without equipment. The site claims you can you get the desired effect by doing the exercises every day for one month. I've yet to try it myself, but if you work correctly, I imagine you'd see and feel a difference.

Is red wine healthy?

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The consumption of red wine has been debated before in terms of the contents of wine actually being quite healthy while some contents being, umm, not so healthy (like overconsumption of alcohol).

The head of research at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in France states that red wine is indeed healthy by explaining how wine works at the cellular level in humans.

As long as consumption is kept at a moderate level, perhaps all that red wine is doing some good inside your body. I know that I am a fan of red wine on occasion.

Liv Tyler doesn't diet anyone

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Liv Tyler was always on a diet. "I've been a model since I was 14, so I've been on a diet my whole life," said the actress in a recent interview with Glamour magazine.

But now that she's a mother, Tyler's dieting days are over. "I didn't want to think about myself or feel insecure about my career, I wanted to think about my child."

The 29-year-old star said that since delivering Milo, her 2-year-old son, she feels more confident.

Especially for a model and Hollywood actress, I can imagine the pressures to look a certain way must be intense. I think it's fantastic that Tyler has found a healthier, more balanced outlook on life now that she has a child.

Magic numbers: five easy ways to measure fitness

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When it comes to health, we often live by the numbers. Weight, BMI, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, it's all important information that tells us something about our health. This article outlines five more magic numbers that are still important, but less well known.

There's some interesting stuff here. For instance, while I know it's important to maintain a healthy weight, I didn't know that maintaining a consistent weight for at least 5 years was also important to the immune system. Another interesting tidbit I found was that, after 48 hours without a workout, the calories you would have burned exercising start getting stored as fat. So if you took yesterday off, get up and get moving!

You can't always live your life by the numbers. After all, getting fit is about creating a lifestyle you can live with...for life. But numbers can be a great way to measure progress or to give yourself a quick reality check. There's nothing like stepping on that scale to find that a few of your own "numbers" have melted away, or fitting into those pants with a new number on the label!

Hitting your head is no small deal: Postconcussive Syndrome

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It's not something that happens to us every day, but most people experience at least a couple good "hard knocks" to the head during the course of their lifetime. Usually it's something minor, like dropping your pen on the floor and hitting your head on the desk on the way back up. But sometimes events like falling during a sports game or slipping off a ladder while cleaning your gutters can cause serious hidden damage, the kind of damage that could stay with you forever.

It's called postconcussive syndrome, and the biggest risk comes when you hit your head frequently (think football players, boxers, etc), and your brain doesn't get a chance to recover fully in between injuries. But everybody should wear helmets when appropriate, pay attention to how they feel, and ask lots of questions if they do have any kind of accident. Just because you have a thick skull and there's no outward appearance of damage (like a big dent or something!) doesn't mean your head is invincible.

Virtual surfing used in physical therapy

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Virtual reality surfing and jogging is being used to help physiotherapy patients regain their balance and, in some cases, find the confidence to walk again.

A new system developed by MOTEK, an Israeli motion simulation company, allows technicians to modify the size of the waves and the wind speed as they put patients through their paces on an imaginary ocean.

While this marks the first time this particular system has been used in medical treatments, virtual reality has been utilized by doctors for some time. It's used to help patients overcome phobias by simulating the feared experience, to aid combat soldiers in overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, or even to distract patients undergoing chemotherapy.

So far, the MOTEK system seems to be producing better and faster results. However, it's important to note that virtual reality cannot replace the healing process, only assist it.

Quit blaming your keyboard -- carpal tunnel is genetic

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Go ahead and google yourself silly -- it won't give you carpal tunnel syndrome. That's according to this study, anyway, that proves what experts have been saying for several years: carpal tunnel syndrome is genetic.

While genetics put people at a greater risk for this repetitive stress disorder, other factors come in to play. Diabetes, thyroid disorder, obesity, even a women's hormones affect how the disorder manifests itself in different individuals. Researchers are convinced that these conditions, in addition to a genetic predisposition, make people susceptible to the repetitive stress disorder, not working long hours at a keyboard.

That isn't to say that typing, hobbies, or other types of repetitive hand movements won't aggravate the condition in a susceptible person...it will. This study won't change the treatment of the disease, and experts -- who admit they don't really understand why the syndrome occurs -- aren't sure what this means as far as recommending steps to prevent the illness. To read more about carpal tunnel syndrome, go here.

Remember more by sleeping more

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By now most people know that sleep is good for you, and that sleep deprivation is bad for you in more ways than one. Well a new study published online in Nature Neuroscience has found yet another negative side effect to add to the "not getting enough sleep" pile: sleep deprivation impairs your brain's ability to make new memories.

What's interesting is that I always thought the information was in there, but I just had trouble remembering it when I was tired. This study seems to show that if you're sleep deprived anything new you try to learn or remember really won't be there -- it doesn't get committed to memory. So no matter how much sleep you "catch up" on later, some memories from that sleepy day just won't exist.

Wow, this explains a lot.

Ovary transplants mean more choices and new hope

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Not too long ago the first ever whole ovary transplant in the United States was performed between twins successfully by Dr. Sherman Silber in St. Louis. And now more recently, a woman who would otherwise be infertile due to chemo and radiation therapy from cancer now has renewed hope, thanks to receiving a new ovary from her sister.

This procedure can not only give many women more options and choices when it comes to fertility and having children, but it can also help restore normal hormone function for women who have undergone early menopause due to any number of causes. So far the surgeries are a success, and although doctors are optimistic about the future, right now only women with close genetic ties (like twins and sisters) are candidates for the procedure.

Even low levels of air pollution can up stroke risk

You may be aware of the negative health effects of air pollution in heavily-industrialized cities, but did you know that it could increase your risk for a stroke?

Researchers from Finland cite that even small environmental levels of fine and ultrafine particulate matter can increase stroke risk -- but the risk only seems to happen in warm weather months. I wonder why?

The researchers compared air pollution levels from 1998 to 2004 with the number of stroke deaths among elderly subjects living in Helsinki, Finland to come up with their conclusions. Strikingly, Helsinki is known to have relatively little air pollution.

Babies form memories, but then forget them

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What's your earliest memory? I can remember one or two events when I was three or four years old, but my most solid memories start around age 4 or 5. That's typical, say experts. But previously, it was thought that infants and young toddlers didn't form memories at all, which is why we can't remember being babies. New studies show that babies do form memories, they just forget them.

Researchers compare brains to a sieve. In adults and older children, the sieve has very tiny holes so much more information is retained. In infants, the holes are very large, so though babies remember things, much is lost after time has passed -- even as little as 24 hours. Forming memories is essential to survival, experts say, so it makes sense that even the youngest of babies would do so.

Want to help your baby develop memory skills? Experts say that the strongest memories are those connected with language and emotion. Talk to your baby about memorable events before and after they take place. Even if your child doesn't remember the event, he or she will bask in the good feelings that were shared.

Have a healthier relationship by fighting fair

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A big part of being healthy is having strong supportive relationships. It's impossible to have a "perfect" relationship, where there are never any arguments or fighting, so to keep things as healthy as possible try these three tips for fighting fair:

  • You are together, so work together. Success and happiness take effort from both people.
  • Try not to attack your partner with insults and stuff like "the silent treatment." No matter how upset you are, hurting each other (especially on purpose) will only make things worse.
  • Keep it between the two of you. It's embarrassing enough to have private problems out there for everyone to see, but it's even worse if the very person you're trying to work things out with is the one who put them there.

Luckily for all of us, fighting isn't all bad. If done right, it can actually make a relationship stronger.