Monday, 19 March 2007

High blood sugar amount tied to cancer risk

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A recent study concluded that there was an association between cancer and higher than normal blood sugar levels. The study looked at 65,000 participants and was recently published in the industry journal Diabetes Care.

The researcher in charge of the study, Dr. Par Stattin from Sweden, added that by avoiding excessive fat and other dietary risk factors, and by getting regular exercise, "you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes -- and cancer." This all seems rather obvious to me, but we'll press on.

The study revealed that a group of 31,304 men and 33,293 women had glucose (blood sugar) measurements available reported 2,478 cases of cancer. In addition, women showed an increased cancer risk with rising blood sugar levels.

Despise exercise? Learn the fine art of distraction.

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There are two trains of thoughts out there. One that says to stay completely focused on every moment of your workouts to get the best out of it, and then there is mine. Mine says do whatever it is you need to do to accomplish your goal, make the time fly by, and allow your training to remain as enjoyable as possible so you continue to go back to it.

For example. I love exercise! In fact, I've made my career out of it. I'm also human. Sometimes my four mile jog just becomes freaking dull and if I don't have anything to take my mind off of the constant 'left, right, left, right' in my mind I would just be one more quitter in the world. So this is what little Miss Fitzness does to pursue her amazing goal of ultimate fitness. I get on the treadmill, stepper, gauntlet, rower, etc, completely armed. I bring an mp3 player, cell phone with ear piece, magazine, and then I usually set up in front of a T.V. At that point I set my magazine with many pretty pictures (think Cosmo or Glamour) on the machine and start to run. Then I choose my noise. Sometimes I chat, and sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I talk on the phone, while looking at pictures and then check out the scroll on FOX News.

Does any of that make my workout suffer? Heck no! It allows me to complete it. All of these nonsensical distractions allow me to avoid any silly chatter in my head that would talk me out of finishing. In fact, usually I end up going harder than I planned, because I'm not bored to death! On the flip side, when I'm training for my sport, Full-contact Kickboxing, I'm 100% without interference. Fully focused. Ready for everything. If you are an athlete, I encourage you to do the same.

Continue reading Despise exercise? Learn the fine art of distraction.

The Diet Detective's Count Down

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The Diet Detective's Count Down: 7500 of Your Favorite Food Counts with Their Exercise Equivalents for Walking, Running, Biking, Swimming, Yoga, and Dance by Charles Stuart Platkin is the perfect book for those looking to balance out their daily exercise with their calories consumed. Mr. Platkin has obtained the caloric counts for a massive amount of food, including meals from all of your favorite restaurants. He also gives you an idea on how much exercise you'll need to do to burn each item off.

Calories burned vs. calories consumed is the ultimate decider on weight loss, gain, or maintenance. If you're curious to find out what your favorite lunch is truly worth, this book will come in handy.

Tree bark extract linked to rare eye cancer treatment

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Research released this past Friday showed that an extract from the bark of a South American tree might lead to better treatments for a rare form of eye cancer.

The eye cancer, which is a deadly childhood eye cancer that is very rare (retinoblastoma) affects about 1 in 15,000 children and causes about three percent of all children's cancer. In most cases, the condition is fatal and it affects kids more in developed countries than in developing ones.

Researchers tested the tree bark extract (beta-lapachone) to determine if it could cause those "out of control" eye cells that lead to retinoblastoma eye cancer to commit suicide (hence, stop multiplying). The results of the study found that beta-lapachone significantly blocked rapid cell growth of human tumor cells -- the ones responsible for this deadly form of eye cancer.

Starting from scratch for leaner legs

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Looking for leaner legs? Who isn't these days. Even if you're not necessarily looking to lose weight (and who isn't these days!) you'd probably still like some more toning and definition to go with all your cute shorts, skirts, and swimsuits waiting to be worn this upcoming summer season.

There are a lot of leg exercises out there, but some of the old staples like squats and lunges might be too strenuous if you're just getting started or have a lot of weight to lose. This 3 step plan intended to be added to whatever you're already doing will help you not only lose weight, but also shape your legs along the way without worry about over-doing it or getting hurt.

Is Hershey's chocolate promoting fitness? You bet!

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I just noticed the coolest thing on the inside of a Reese's peanut butter cup package my daughter and I shared. It actually has a message on the inside of the wrapper that says "Candy is a treat. Please consume in moderation." Amen to that, and thank you Hershey's! I'm so excited that they're making this effort.

Do they have to do it? No! Is it a thoughtful message sent from a company that could make a fortune off of people over-indulging? Yes! So.....I say thank you to Hershey. Not only do I adore and enjoy your milk chocolate as a 'sometimes' treat, but I value your interest in the health of your consumers. This fitness expert is sending you a moral high five. Way to go!

Are most breakfast cereals worth eating?

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Do you know what is inside that colorful breakfast cereal box that your youngster tears into each morning? Breakfast cereal can be a healthy way to start a day or a sugar trip that has no nutritive value for anyone based on what's inside the box. In fact, most food can be classified this way, along with quite a few "gray" areas in the middle.

In this eDiets explanation, the addition of sugar into most breakfast cereals means more useless calories -- something I completely agree with. In fact, the addition of agave nectar or fresh blueberries into a non-sweetened cereal is the best way to give the sweetness needed without all that refined sugar and high-glycemic sugar rushes.

Is the cereal aisle really just another candy aisle? You bet it is -- and it can be proven pretty easily just by looking at the ingredients and "Nutrition Facts" labels in the side of that colorful box.

Take the stress out of making decisions

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There are so many things to think about when it comes to making decisions in your life, especially regarding health and health care services, that it will help alleviate a little of the stress if you go into any big decisions with a plan.

Start by defining the problem or situation, and breaking it down into smaller pieces if you can. Think about who is going to be affected -- just you, or are others involved? Then gather ideas, information, and other perspectives and write them all down. Look at what you've written down and evaluate all of your options and alternatives, including thinking through exactly how each would play out. And perhaps most importantly, realize that there is rarely a perfect answer, so being realistic with yourself and planning carefully can help make dealing with some of the more unpleasant aspects or results that much more bearable.

Canned fruits and veggies are healthy too

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On the heels of the latest news from the CDC that most Americans aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables comes new data from a study funded by the canned food industry that says canned fruits and veggies are often just as nutritious, if not more, than fresh or frozen. Experts still say that over-all fresh is still the best, but since we don't all have our own personal farms it just isn't a real possibility to always have fresh food handy. But not only are canned goods often equal nutritionally, but some nutrients like vitamin C and lycopene are actually more abundant and available in canned items versus fresh.

One thing to be careful of however, is that many canned foods have added sodium. Look for low levels of added salt and sugar, and try to incorporate a variety of canned, frozen, and fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible into your diet year round.

Jumpstart Your Fitness: Time saving tips for your workout

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You know, you don't have to spend every waking hour working out in order to see results, even though it feels that way sometimes. If you've been struggling to find enough time for exercise, maybe the following tips for getting more workout in less time will work for you.

Circuit Training Circuit training is just working out one muscle group after another without a break in between sets. So you might work your arms, shoulders, legs, and abs all in a row before taking a short (1 minute) breather and then doing it over again. Working out this way will help you burn more calories faster than focusing on one area at a time.

Split up your routine It's actually better for your body if you give the different parts some time to rest between heavy workouts. So instead of working everything every day, try splitting things up. Maybe lower body and cardio one day, and upper body with cardio another day.

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: Time saving tips for your workout

Daily Fit Tip: Take a nap

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I've often said that life would be better if I could only get a daily nap in, like we did in kindergarten. I honestly think I would be more productive in the afternoons at work, when the mid-afternoon slump takes hold and refuses to allow me to concentrate until I've had a coffee or a brisk walk outside. In Europe, they take afternoon naps - why can't we? After all, it's been proven that afternoon naps increase alertness, improve mood and enhances mental performance, according to this. If studies like this keep popping up, what do you think the chances are that our workplaces will adopt an afternoon nap policy? I am keeping my fingers fiercely crossed

Your fitness plan should grow with you

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As you grow older (there's no avoiding it, we all do!) your health and fitness needs change along with the rest of you. Plus, other factors that can affect your health and fitness goals, like marriage, children, and work, happen along the way and can really throw a kink in the works if you're not ready to roll with the punches.

Whether it's being in your twenties and risking injury due to that "I'm invincible!" feeling, or being in your 40s and struggling to find time between obligations to family and work, different age groups definitely face different obstacles. But understanding what challenges you are facing, and will face in the future, can go a long way to helping you overcome them. After all, knowing is half the battle, right?

Stressed at work? Being happily married may help

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After a long hard day at work, a little quality time with your sweetie may just improve your health. That's what Canadian researchers found when they studied the blood pressure of 229 healthy adults. Those who reported high job stress and martial disharmony had an increase of three points in their systolic blood pressure reading. On the other hand, participants who were stressed out at work, but reported marital bliss, were more likely to have dropped their systolic reading by three points.

Chronic stress can create inflammation in the body, caused by stress hormones. It appears that the comfort of a loving and non-stressful relationship at home can reverse that trend, despite having a stressful job. But when work and home are filled with stress or tension, it apparently can affect a person's health.

So if you find yourself stressed out at every turn, keep an eye on that blood pressure. Interested in reading more? Here are a couple of articles that may help you reduce stress at home or at work.

Black henna and hair dye: an allergy connection

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Summer's on its way and with it will come festivals, art fairs, and other celebrations where temporary tattoo artists sell the gift of body art, without the pain or permanency. But did you know that henna tattoo that looks so great with your strappiest sandals might leave you with a lingering health problem?

Pure henna is safe for the skin, but black henna has an added ingredient known as para-phenylediamine, or PPD. PPD is found in many commercial hair coloring products, among other things, but in black henna the PPD levels can reach over 15%. These high levels can trigger a PPD sensitivity, and when people later go to the salon to have their hair colored, they unknowingly set off a sometimes serious allergic reaction.

You can still get that tattoo, just make sure your temporary tattoo artist can confirm that their henna is PPD-free. If the ink is jet-black, has little or no scent, or should be removed within one hour, you may want to stick with searching for the perfect ankle bracelet instead.

The best 10 breakfast cereals

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In a follow-up to my breakfast cereal post from this morning, many of you may be wondering what the top breakfast cereals may be. There is another great list here that has a very good "top-10" list of healthy breakfast cereals, many of which I've seen before (but have never eaten).,

I'm a big fan of the Kashi company since their products contain all natural ingredients -- from cereals to crackers to frozen microwave meals. Now, there are some products this company makes that contain "autolyzed yeast", but for the most part, there are many great food products from this company. Kashi "GoLean" cereal is one of those items -- talk about an excellent breakfast cereal! Add your own natural sweetener in there (just not table sugar) and you've got a very decent breakfast.

Just remember -- you may need to add your own sweetener to these cereals to satisfy that "sweet tooth". Stevia, agave nectar and fresh fruit are great -- and healthy -- ways to do this.

BMI inaccurately calls some college athletes overweight

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Anyone who's working toward being fit for life knows that you can't define your progress solely by a number. Weight, measurements, BMI...they all play a part, but the big pictures is all about how you feel, your endurance, your progress. Body Mass Index (BMI) is just one way to measure your fitness, but a new study recently found that, especially in college athletes, it may need some adjusting.

Nearly 500 college age students, about 1/2 athletes and 1/2 non-athletes, had their body fat measured and compared to their BMIs. A body fat percentage over 20% was considered "overfat." What the study found was that, especially in male athletes, the BMI inaccurately predicted "overfatness," much of the time. Because of the greater amount of muscle mass found in college-age athletes, experts believe the BMI thresholds for this group should be raised.

Read more on what BMI is, how it applies to you, and why it's used to define obesity here.

How to create a stronger core

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Whether you're taking a fitness class, following a workout DVD at home, or working with a personal trainer, you'll probably hear your fitness instructor at some point talk about "strengthening your core." Your core muscles are deep with in your torso and pelvis, and it's their job to hold you upright and and keep you balanced as you go about your daily routine. Keeping your core muscles strong will improve your posture, prevent back pain, and prevent injury as well. The core is your center of gravity, so keeping it strong will improve your performance in almost every fitness activity.

Interested in learning more about strengthening your core? The nice thing about core exercises is that you don't need any equipment and many of them can be done anywhere you have some floor space. Check out this slide show from for a nice tutorial in exercising your core.

When is soda healthy? Try never

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Are you a fan of soda and soft drinks? Although these beverages taste just about as good as anything, they have just the opposite nutritive effect. In fact, most soft drinks (if not all) are not good for you from a nutrition perspective. That is, unless you have a metabolism that relies entirely on sugar alone.

If you see descriptive words like these: Classic, Effervescent, Exciting, Bold, Sophisticated -- remember, they are just words. It's sad that almost every consumer really needs to do tons of research about everything they eat and drink (if health conscious, anyway), but the reason for the obesity epidemic and record diabetes conditions is due to something. Why not try to get nutrition right regardless?

Pet food recall causing stress with pet owners

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Over this past weekend, the massive pet food recall has started almost every pet owner into a frenzy of overreaction. After all, most pet owners love their pets dearly -- me included.

Although this is a little off-topic for That's Fit, I felt it necessary to post something nonetheless due to the emotional stress that could occur (and is happening most likely) over this situation. After digging into the details, only wet foods (not dry) are affected, and the recalled list of actual products (UPC code list here -- PDF File) should give pet owners some guide into the media madness that is going on right now.

It's important to understand exactly which foods (brands and products) and exactly what the issue is here. As this situation develops further (into more brands and products, possibly), rest assured we'll cover it here. Until then, be watchful of the specifics and make sure Fido or Kitty is okay with the food you've chosen for each.

Get the facts before having cosmetic surgery

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The technology improves every year, and as a result more and more people are electing to go under the knife for voluntary cosmetic surgeries. But did you know, that as commonplace as it has become, as many as 40% of people who had something done wish they had learned more about the procedure, risks, and healing process before they went through with it? That's not to say that they were all unhappy with how things turned out, in fact 80% report being satisfied with the overall experience. But there is definitely something to be said for understanding what you're in for and what to expect.

So if you're considering cosmetic surgery you might want to take a hint from those who've been through it -- do your homework, and then some.