Thursday, 8 March 2007

Is that a cold or allergies that you have there?

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Have you been suffering from a runny nose, an itchy throat, sinus pressure and a feeling of lethargy? If so, do you know if you actually have a cold (a viral infection) or are just suffering from an allergic reaction to something in the immediate environment?

It's sometimes hard to tell, as many of the symptoms between the two are very similar. But, if in doubt, you can take this small quiz over at iVillage and find out exactly what your malady is most likely to be.

One quick sign usually does it for me -- the running of a fever. If I'm having an allergic reaction to something, there is generally no fever -- but there sure is if I have a cold!

Is overseas surgery an option for most of us?

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If you were in need of an advanced form of surgery, would you consider going overseas to receive a procedure? Many Americans are opting for this due to the huge prices of surgical techniques in the U.S. in the last decade or so.

Due to malpractice insurance and other factors, the cost of major surgeries these days is staggering -- with many procedures costing well over $10,000 -- and that is just for starters.

Would you elect to go overseas -- like to Thailand -- to receive a major medical procedure? There are many areas in the Pacific Rim where the doctors are trained at Western medical institutions and the actual facilities are as good as any you will find in the U.S.

The cost for surgeries, though, is so much less than it is here in the U.S. that flights across the pond for treatment are happening more and more. Is it worth the medical risk to save all that money? You get to make that decision.

Can banning smoking cause the upheaval of civilization?

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There is talk in countries around the world on the concept of banning smoking in public places. On one hand, not subjecting non-smokers to the bad effects of secondhand smoke is a very good idea. On the other hand, there are those that fear for the civilized world if cigarettes are banned from almost all public places.

The addiction to nicotine is no laughing matter, and it's one that has caused millions of smokers to give up in frustration when trying to quit only to fall back into the habit. There are also quite a few psychological reasons that quitting smoking fails so often (how cigarettes "relax" oneself).

Would banning cigarettes (like in China) really cause countrywide upheaval? If so, it goes to show just how dangerous drugs can be when consumed by a good portion of the population into a completely addictive state. Make no mistake about it -- tobacco is a drug, and the cigarette is probably the best refined version of it.

Medical mini-robot travels around inside body

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Do you remember that movie Inner Space? The one where Dennis Quaid gets miniaturized and injected into Martin Short? Quaid's character spent the whole movie piloting his craft around Short's body, and the audience got a refresher course in human anatomy.

That could never happen though...right? Right? Maybe not the miniaturization part, but this week scientists from Japan's Ritsumeikan University unveiled a prototype of a micro robot that can be set loose inside a patient to target disease, apply medications, and send information back out to physicians.

Medical technology is truly a marvel, isn't it?

Green foods are packed with nutrition

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Are you a fan of green foods? These foods -- including fruits and vegetables -- are great sources of vitamins and minerals in many cases (including fiber). All things considered, these kinds of foods are some of the best we can all consume.

Try a kiwi, a stalk of broccoli and even a mango -- talk about some great foods that are great for you. This article talks about the marketing correlation between upcoming St. Patrick's Day and eating "green foods" -- and I think it's a great angle.

Eating "all the colors of the rainbow" is a great idea as well. Ever try onions, differently colored bell peppers and chicken b reast on a flamed skewer with fresh pineapple chunks? A healthy and sensible meal that tastes great -- and is wonderfully colorful.

McDonald's introduces a new, bigger burger

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Here's just what America needs -- a bigger burger from McDonald's. At a whopping 860 calories, McDonald's new Angus beef Third Pounder is being tested at 600 McDonald's locations across southern California. If the bigger burger alone isn't enough for you, you can also slap on a slab of cheese or some bacon. Surprisingly, or not, the burger is a hit and may lead to the corporation offering it nationwide.

McDonald's developed the Third Pounder to be a "high end" burger, to compete with other fast food restaurants like Burger King and Hardee's. My question for McD's is, if they really wanted to go high end, why not have a smaller, leaner burger with fresh veggies and a whole wheat bun? Does the world really need another gigantic, artery-clogging burger? They charge $3.99 for the Third Pounder, but I'd pay even more for some reasonably healthy menu items. What about you?

Does dieting create an impulse shopping mentality?

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Yikes -- a new study explains that dieting can cause an increase in impulse shopping for many of us. So, if you're thinking about a diet, hide those credit cards and cash wads from plain sight if you can!

The conclusion that the researchers note is that opportunities for impulse purchasing have increased wildly in recent times, something I agree with. It's so easy to whip out that credit card and shop on the web (or using TV shopping) and it's even easier when out and about to suck cash from all those ATMs that seem to be everywhere -- including inside hair salons and other odd places.

The details of the study are here, and they are quite interesting. It's a testament to how the proliferation of instant gratification has affected how we consume these days.

70% of women have sleep problems

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The National Sleep Foundation recently conducted a poll of women and their sleeping habits, and a whopping 70% of women report sleeping problems on at least some nights -- with 29% using some kind of sleep aid on a regular basis. The survey included 1,003 women between the ages of 18 and 64 from all around the country, and pregnant women/new moms came out as getting the worst sleep, with aging women next.

Experts at the National Sleep Foundation encourage all women to "make sleep a priority," and give some advice on what they call proper sleep hygiene -- which includes things like keeping a regular schedule and having a relaxing bedtime routine. With this being National Sleep Awareness Week, it's as good a time as any to give this issue some attention!

Improve your confidence with these 7 tips

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Many people assume being confident is a personality trait, and to a certain extent they're right -- but while some are naturally more confident than others, the rest of us can learn to act the part.

The site Top Achievement has listed 7 straightforward ways to believe in yourself -- even when that seems impossible.

For instance: If you were confident, how would you be acting? ... What would you be thinking? ... By asking yourself these questions, you are literally forced to answer them by going into a confident state. You will then be acting "as-if" you are confident. Now just forget you are acting long enough and pretty soon you'll develop it into a habit.

You've probably heard most of the suggestions before, but, as with most lists, the benefit is organizing your thoughts, and giving yourself a consistent method for overcoming daunting situations. Read on with confidence!

[via Lifehacker]

Are you a secret smoker?

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Have you been lying about your smoking habit to your employer, your family, or even your doctor? A recent British survey finds you're not alone. In fact, 1 in every 10 Brits are "secret smokers," who actively try to conceal the fact that they're addicted to nicotine -- with upwards of 30 percent lying to their doctors, and more than a third masking the habit from their families.

Most only smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes a day, but this can still lead to significant health problems. According to Angela Chalmers, a pharmacist, "Higher levels of carbon monoxide in your bloodstream means less oxygen is getting around to your body. It can also affect the elasticity of the lungs, meaning you are putting yourself at risk of asthma and aging your lungs well beyond your years."

While seven out of ten "secret smokers" plan on quitting this year, by denying their habit, "they may find it harder to give up," says Amanda Sandford, of the charity Action on Smoking and health.

Instead of quitting, there's always the other alternative -- coming out of the smokers' closet. Neil Rafferty, of Forest, a smokers' lobby group, calls smokers to action by saying: "It's your body and your life and you should tell the health freaks to butt out."

So, are you a "secret smoker?" Who are you hiding your habit from, and why? (Don't worry, the comments are anonymous.)

Got baby weight to lose? Take a walk

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I had to actually read the first few paragraphs of this article a few times to make sure I wasn't missing something. Researchers found that when new moms walked more, ate fewer trans fats, and watched less TV, they were more likely to shed the baby weight and return to their pre-pregnancy weight than women who cho se TV over walking. At first glance, I thought to myself, "Did they really need to do a study to figure that out?"

But when I kept reading, I realized there really was valuable information in this article. Despite the media portraying new moms in Hollywood seeking out personal trainers and going on extreme diets to whip themselves back into shape after pregnancy, this study proves that women need not go to such lengths to get their pre-pregnancy body back. A 30-minute daily walk goes a long way toward easing that weight off at a healthy pace. That's good news since walking is an exercise that's accessible and easy to take on, even with a new baby in tow. So if you're looking to shed that baby fat, turn off the TV, grab the stroller, and take a hike!

Eating raw: the ultimate natural diet

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Have you ever "eaten raw?" This kind of diet entails not eating processed foods or any other types of pre-packaged foods that have been through some sort of processing. It's the "processing" phase that can rid foods of vital nutrients and inject all kinds of bad things into foods for the sake of shelf life over nutrition.

That's not to say some pre-packed foods can't be nutritious -- just the opposite. Raw cocoa, nuts and grains can be bought and used to spruce up that salad or other healthy meal. In fact, raw nuts are probably one of the best natural snacks you can give your child these days, in an age of Cheeto s and candy bars.

It's true that some folks don't have the money or time to shop for natural foods -- but the only asset you have in life is your health (beyond money, fame, possessions, etc.). Isn't it a good idea to treat it wisely? Try www.rawfood.com for ideas -- there are plenty of them. Oh, I have no interest in that company beyond being a great place to shop for all-natural foods.

Are orange tomatoes better for you?

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Orange tomatoes? Huh?

Don't worry, you're not color-blind. As far as I know, all the tomatoes at your local supermarket are still red. However, food scientists at Ohio State University have grown a new kind of tomato -- that, yes, is orange in color -- that may be better for you than the more traditional red variety.

Apparently these new tomatoes contain a type of lycopene -- an antioxidant that's believed to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and age-relate eye problems -- that's easier for your body to use.

In fact, even though traditional tomatoes contain far more lycopene than the orange-colored younger siblings, researchers found that, because the antioxidant is easier to absorb in orange tomatoes, those who ate it had 2.5 times more lycopene in their bloodstream than their red-tomato-eating counterparts.

While it may be difficult to get your hands on orange tomatoes for at-home consumption, researchers suggest trying orange or gold-colored heirloom tomatoes. They haven't been tested to see what type of lycopene they contain, but it's worth a shot.

Woman awakes after 6 years in vegetative state, then relapses

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How does the brain work in a vegetative state? What causes people to wake up -- suddenly completely lucid -- only to sink back into what looks essentially like a coma?

These are the questions plaguing neurologists in the wake of Christa Lilly's mysterious awakening after 6 years in a vegetative state. After 3 days of talking with family, doctors, and a local television station, she relapsed.

With her first words in 8 months, Lilly told her mother, "I'm fine." While it was frustrating learning how to talk again, eating without a feeding tube was apparently easy. "I've been eating cake," she told reporters.

Dr. Randall Bjork, Lilly's neurologist, had never seen this kind of awakening, saying "I'm just not able to explain this on this basis of what we know about persistent vegetative states."

Bjork was quick to dismiss comparisons to the widely publicized Terri Schiavo case, which involved an emotional legal battle surrounding the decision of whether or not to take Schiavo -- who had been in a non-responsive vegetative state for many years -- off life support, allowing her to die.

Lilly is minimally conscious, said Bjork, therefore making it possible for her to wake again.

Artificial vs natural -- Trans fats in the news again

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Is this whole "trans fat" thing going too far? In reading this article it seems like maybe it has, to me anyway. The latest twist in this ongoing issue is that not only are artificial trans fats (the kind created by the partial hydrogenation process or when some oils are heated for deep fat frying) being eliminated, but many naturally occurring trans fats also -- like the ones found in butter.< br />
Many bakeries are being forced to substitute things like palm oil and margarine in their recipes in place of butter, because their customers are demanding to see "trans fat free" on the label of their cookies, muffins, croissants, etc. It doesn't matter that butter contains such small amounts of trans fats, or that the majority of the trans fats Americans do eat are the artificial kind from other kinds of foods.

I think it's great that everybody is so energetic about this issue, because trans fats really are a health hazard, but this is a bit much.

Obese couples may suffer from lower fertility

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If you're trying to conceive and both you and your spouse are considered by be obese, it may be harder than you think to get pregnant. This from new research that suggests there are extra challenges to obese couples who want to have children.

In the study from Denmark, obese couples were almost three times as likely to take more than a year to achieve a pregnancy when compared to normal-weight couples trying to achieve pregnancy at the same time.

In previous studies and research, it's been said that weight can affect fertility in women -- but not couples as an entity really. This study takes into account couples instead of just women and it also suggests a causal association between excess weight in both partners and decreased fertility. However, the researchers noted there is no proof here -- just a suggestion of an association.

Should the FDA release more drug safety data?

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It's amazing how much advertising I see on television these days regarding the various prescription drugs that give the appearance of treating any condition under the sun -- when I watch commercials for research purposes, anyway.

Should the FDA release more specific detail on the trials prescription drugs go through and make those results available to the public? I say yes -- patients and doctors should have unfettered access to this information as a way to make the best and most informed decision about possible treatments. Any patien t should be suspicious of prescription drugs that have not had data released on how these drugs worked (or did not) in all the trial testing each mush go through before being allowed for sale (here in the U.S., anyway).

It's really a shame and a disservice to the population that current rules allow drug companies to keep data secret. Side effects can sometimes be worse that the condition that is intended to be treated -- but if patients don't know this, an informed decision cannot possibly be made.

It's really seems to be a complete smokescreen in that the FDA and pharmaceutical companies say drug information needs to be protected so that competing manufacturers can't use the data to produce competing versions of drugs. This is the response to allowing your customers to know about your products -- ones that directly affect the most cherished thing we can every have -- our health? Sounds like political nonsense to me. You?

That's Fit Weekly Podcast #2: March 8, 2007

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We're always looking for fresh and innovative ways to blog about news and trends fit for helping you live a healthy life. Now, thanks to Saturn, we bring a new voice to our efforts with the launch of our That's Fit Weekly Podcast. Each Thursday, we'll go from blogger to broadcaster as we discuss topics relevant to pursuing your health and fitness goals.

In today's show, our topic is Six Steps to a Better Walking Workout. Walking is such an easy way to jumpstart your spring fitness program --but you can get sidelined before even stepping out the door if you're not properly geared. You've got the motivation, now get the information on the right shoes, socks, clothing, water carriers, sun protection and pedometers to keep your walking workouts on track.

Have comments on our current shows or ideas for future podcasts? Or, do you have a burning health and fitness question you'd like answered on an upcoming installment? Comment right here and we'll do our best to provide the helpful information you're looking for!

There are several ways to receive the That's Fit Weekly podcast: Subscribe to our RSS feed, through iTunes, or just hit the MP3 file directly -- your choice!

Receive That's Fit Weekly Podcast using one of these methods:
[RSS] Add The That's Fit Weekly Podcast feed to your RSS feedreader and have it delivered automatically
[MP3] Download the podcast directly
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast directly in Apple iTunes

Host
Kristi Anderson

File Format
8:16 length, 3.79 MB size, MP3 format (64kbps)

Intro/Outro Music (great workout music!)
Artist:
Bill
Song: Sound Scientist

March 15, 2007 Program: How proper diet fits into a new spring fitness routine

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FitBeauty Finds: Apricot eye cream feels as good as it smells

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Let's just say I'm at that thirtysomething age where creases have gotten comfortable in the corners of my face.

These tiny life lines certainly have their specific beauty -- they mark the many times I've smiled adoringly at my husband, laughed at my toddler's antics, grinned and giggled with my girlfriends, squinted to read a great book late into the night, winked at funny kid sitting across from me.

As beautiful as the accumulation of those moments is, I am still reaching for the creams to smoothe out, hydrate and fill in whatev er I can.

My grandmothers were both devoted to Oil of Olay and I remember fondly the pink bottle on each of their vanities and the fresh smell as they circled it over their faces and dotted it around their eyes and and smoothed it up their arms faithfully every morning and before bed.

While both my grandmothers still have beautiful skin and have aged quite gracefully in their combined 187 years, I feel the need to meet my creases with a moisturizer made more for my own sensitive skin.

That's why I was delighted to find a sweet little tube of Apricot Eye Care cream by Better Botanicals. Although I bought mine in the beauty aisle, it smells like it was plucked from a produce bin (seriously). It is c reamy without being greasy and in one use, made my winter-dry eyelids feel moisturized again. I haven't taken a magnifying glass to my crinkles but I do feel like the area around my eyes looks refreshed and I know it feels better.

Like all Better Botanical skin care, facial and bath products, the eye care cream is centered in Ayurveda, and made with vegetarian, food-grade ingredients. You won't find animal products, petroleum derivatives, synthetic colors or fragrances on the ingredients list.

Given all this natural goodness, I anticipated spending a lot for this eye cream. Because I am pretty picky about my products and pretty price-conscious, I was delighted that it rang in right at $15, much less than many drugstore eye creams that are loaded with the dreaded ingredients endi ng in "yl."

As I try other Better Botanical products -- and you can be sure I will --- I will let you know if they all feel and smell as good as the eye cream. Until then, I have to say, with all these creases drowning in all this apricotlicious cream, I like what I'm seeing.

Daily Fit Tip: Eat more Fish

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I don't eat much red meat, and poultry and tofu can get boring so I try to get a fair amount of fish in my diet. Considering the ocean is a 10-hour drive away, that's not easy - it's expensive and hard to find the freshest picks - but considering the amount of benefits that fish has, it's worth it. It's packed full of important nutrients like omega-3, and its low in fat and high in protein. As long as you're not deep-frying it, it's one of the healthiest eats out there since vegetables. And it's delicious - though not everyone agrees with that statement. Do you?

Take tips from top chefs on cooking with your kids

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I am sure I'm not alone in feeling the frustrations of feeding a child and trying to feed that child healthy foods. It's just too easy to slip into a grilled cheese/spaghetti/taco rut and even easier to just delete veggies from a picky kid's plate.

My own kid could survive on syrup and hummus (yes, probably served together), I haven't given up just yet. I'm still d etermined to teach my young ones to eat well and enjoy many kinds of food. That's why I'm loving a new feature on ParentCenter.com called Kitchen Confidential: Meal time secrets from top chef parents. The famous, featured chefs (and their offspring) weigh in on feeding picky eaters, sneaking in the good-for-you stuff, staples you need to keep stocked in your own kitchen and other tips that will help parents feed their children well.

While the info isn't revolutionary by any means, it certainly is inspiring. So much so that I may just scratch take-out Thai from tonight's menu and see if what I can sneak in mix up for a better dinner with the kiddo tonight.

Lung cancer screening may not save lives?

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While CT scans may be helpful in some situations, a new study concluded that using that time-tested method to screen smokers and former smokers for lung cancer really does not save lives after all.

In what will probably become a controversial study, the results -- analyzed by the American Medical Association -- looked at lung cancer deaths and cases of advanced lung cancer among 3,246 smokers.

The results then pointed to other former smokers who had annual CT scans for about four years and found that, based on a several-variable mathematical model, there would be 33.4 cases of ad vanced cancer. The real number was 42. Then, the model predicted 38.8 lung cancer deaths and there were 38.

This sheds some dark light on how good CT scans can be at predicting and screening for lung cancer at all. It does not help that one of the co-authors of the study said ""We don't see a trace of evidence that a single life was saved, that a single case of advanced cancer was avoided."

Got food allergies? Get a Food Allergy Buddy card

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Eating out with food allergies has got to be a difficult experience. Not only do you have to be very careful what to order, you have to rely on the people preparing your food and the wait staff to remember your requirements, and in some cases, if someone makes a mistake, it can be a life threatening.

If you have a food allergy and love to eat out, check out the Food Allergy Buddy card. Follow j ust a few simple steps online and the card will be created for free to print out and use at your next restaurant outing. Though I don't suffer from food allergies myself, I created a dummy card to see how they looked. The cards include your name, a list of allergies, an emergency contact number, and a place for your server to write in your table number. It was a very simple process, and there was even a space for additional allergies not listed.

The cards fit in your purse or wallet and designs for children are available. The cards might also be nice to hand to your child's teacher or day care provider. I love simple solutions to difficult problems, and this card seems to fit that bill. Has anyone ever used one of these? I'd love to hear about it!

(via ediets)
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Can a hot pepper kill fat cells?

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Apparently it can, in a test tube anyway. Tiawanese researchers have been spending time mixing the compound Capsaicin (commonly found in hot red peppers) with baby fat cells because I guess they just became curious one day what would happen if they did.

There's no information yet if this works the same in the human body, but when the scientists put the two together in a test tube the fat cells died before maturing. The article doesn't say if they know whether the effect is the same on mature cells, or how much of the compound they used -- as far as wondering just how many peppers might we have to eat?

But don't go chugging hot sauce yet -- there's no data as of now to show it will do anything other than give you watery eyes and heartburn.

Do you participate in "fat talk?"

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Have you ever been involved in a conversation with a group of women, only to have someone start complaining about their body? What happens next? Do the other women join in and complain about their bodies? Do you? Some researchers are calling this phenomenon "fat talk" and have trying to find the reason behind why it happens.

Sadly, it appears that not only is fat talk acceptable, it's expected in many situations. Studies completed on a college campus found that when female students began talking negatively about themselves, their conversation partners joined in and expressed dissatisfaction with their own bodies. Even when women had a positive body image, they joined in the fat talk anyway, or stayed silent out of fear of social rejection. Since these same studies found that students were more likely to like woman who participated in fat talk than women who didn't, those woman who stayed silent may have felt they had no other choice.

So do we really hate our bodies or do we just say we do because it's what we learn through our social interactions? I don't know, but I suspect that when we talk poorly about ourselves, we feel poorly about ourselves, and that it becomes a vicious cycle. I've seen fat talk and I've particip ated in fat talk, and after reading this article I'm going to make every effort not to do so again. So help me out, That's Fit readers...when someone starts complaining about their bodies, what do you say?

(via Diet-Blog)

It's never to late to change your life.

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My 59 year old, male client Jody showed up to train on Friday, March 3rd with paperwork to validate all of his hard work. Jody's been training with me since December 22, 2006. He showed up at 320 pounds and on March 5th, 2007 he's down to 286 pounds. A spectacular loss of 34 pounds. He's been working out with me or on his own almost every day of the week since, and has adopted eating habits of the fittest. No diets......just common sense.

Besides wanting to lose lots of weight, Jody and I discussed the goals he had for his life. He wanted to golf without low back pain, sleep free of apnea, fly without seat-belt extenders, sit in bleachers comfortably at the NCAA final four, and most importantly live long and well with his amazing family. Since Jody was a diabetic, I felt it important to point out that he was on his way earning blindness and limb loss. Jody grimly nodded.

Friday was such a proud day. He had visited his internal medicine doctor and came back with fabulous results. His blood sugar levels had dropped by 60% and his doctor proclaimed we'd worked a miracle. He's almost in the normal range. Jody showed up with his 'report card' and we cheered about his results. The doctor seemed to lose any concern about Jody's diabetes. I mentioned how nice it was that he wasn't going to have to worry about shots or blindness. At that point he confessed that before he began training he was waking up with blurry vision! I was shocked. Jody's only comment was that he guessed it was 'never too late'!.

Continue reading It's never to late to change your life.

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U.S. Congress looking at school junk food laws

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Are public school food menus good or bad? There are probably reams of opinions on that very subject, but the U.S. Congress is contemplating way to make junk food sales in schools way more restricted than it is now

Junk food is surely contributing to the prevalence of obesity in younger schoolchildren these days, along with all the good tasting but highly no-nutritious processed food most kids eat. Would helping curb bad food in schools help this problem? Opinions will vary, but I say yes.

Will regulation come to vending machines in schools any time soon? Your guess is as good as mine, but I think the nation's public school system needs it.

Prevent cancer with the inflatable super colon

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Introducing the Super Colon, an educational tool used by preventcancer.org.

From the website: The SUPER COLON, an inflatable, 20-foot long, 8-foot high replica of a human colon, is an interactive educational tool that is teaching people all across America that colorectal cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable!

Inside the Super Colon, you'll see healthy colon tissue, tissue with non-malignant colorectal disease, colorectal polyps and various stages of cancer. You'll also learn about the importance of cancer screening, prevention tips, and your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Sound like fun? You can bring the display to your community by contacting scolon@preventcancer.org. Act fast though, as they're already booked through 2007, and are now taking reservations for 2008.

[via Neatorama]