Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Canada mulls banning smoking in apartments

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Smoking seems to be under attack worldwide as people realize that secondhand smoke can be just as devastating to non-smokers as those who smoke cigarettes. The freedom to smoke in your own home or in the open air are still placed where smokers can go to smoke, but if Toronto, Canada gets its way, smoking may be banned from apartment buildings.

What do you think? Smoking in apartment buildings, which generally have interconnected airways for ventilation, can expose non-smoking residents to secondhand smoke -- definitely not a good thing. But then again, one's own living quarters is about the only place left for many to smoke these days with public bans coming to countries around the globe.

Whole grain fan? Search for amaranth

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Are you a whole-grain eater? Many of us choose breakfast time to eat those whole grains in the form of a whole-wheat bagel or unsweetened breakfast cereal. Ever check to see if amaranth is in that whole grain mix, though?

Grain amaranth, like many whole grains, has a high protein count and is a great addition to that whole grain diet when you can find it. Dr. Dorothy Nakimbugwe, a Food Scientist, says that "Grain amaranth has a higher protein quality and quantity than most cereals and grains."

Next time you are looking for that healthy breakfast cereal, check to see if amaranth is included, and choose the one that has it over one that doesn't. Take the taste test and see what you think!

The truth about airplane food

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Here's a shocking admission. I like airplane food. Well, mostly. I had some pretty dodgy chicken in my last cross-pacific flight, but other than that I've typically enjoyed my meals. But most people don't and there may be more to that than meet the eye. According to this, the real problem with airplane food is that at 30,000 feet, your digestive system doesn't work as it usually does, and it's harder for you to digest meal that are high in fat or protein. Also, you tend to lose water when you fly, so to keep everything, erm, moving along, you need to consume more liquids. So the next time you fly, pick the pasta over the steak, eat your vegetables and be sure to ask for extra water.

How does your diet play a role in eczema?

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If you suffer from eczema, I don't envy you. It runs in my family and while I've been lucky with my skin, several relatives of mine struggle with the dreaded condition that leaves them itchy and uncomfortable and prevents them from using so many products on their sensitive skin. But according to this, eczema might not simply be a skin disorder -- it may be symptomatic of something bigger such as a food sensitivity or allergy. That leads to the question: just what role does one's diet play in eczema? Exclusion diets can often give answers as to what foods, if any, trigger or improve the skin condition, but in the meantime, it's best to talk to your doctor. Of course, maintaining a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle should help if you don't already.

I'm interested in hearing from Eczema suffers -- have you found that certain foods have contributed to your symptoms?

Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

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Have fitness questions? Fitz has your answer. Our fitness expert -- and now your own virtual personal trainer -- will help you get fit, increase your overall health and do it in a fun way. Drop your questions here in the Comments section below and we'll choose two per week to publish on That's Fit! Learn more about Fitz here.

Q.Hey Fitz, I just don't like veggies. Do I really need to eat them, or can I take a multivitamin instead. Aaron.

A. Wow Aaron! Out of the hundreds of veggies out there, you don't like any? That seems odd. It's funny. Even though I started teaching fitness at age 18,I too refused to eat any sort of vegetables except for those found in a house salads until I turned 21. I had a mental block against them and considered them gross I guess. Funny thing happened to change my mind. I met the most gorgeous guy in the planet and he cooked me chicken and broccoli one night. I was totally grossed out, but wanting to impress this man.....I gave em a try. Turns out I actually did like broccoli. I also ended up loving the onions and peppers he grilled and put on top of pizza the next week.

I didn't like veggies because I hadn't tried them. I predict you're in the same boat. Veggies are vital to a well balanced diet. They're huge on vitamins, high on fiber and low in calories. Why wouldn't you want to make an effort to love these things? They'll keep your skin pretty, nails strong, vision clearer and digestive system moving at a super pace. Nonetheless! I now love veggies and crave them in large quantities. I also married that hot guy who introduced me to the. So I say, "Try them, try them Sam I AM! You will like cauliflower and yams!"

Q. I had my daughter three years ago and although I have lost a lot of the pregnancy weight, I have been left with a deflated belly. Just a saggy, loose flabby belly. I have been told there is nothing I can do to tighten loose skin. Can I re-tighten my stomach? Or is liposuction/tummy tuck the only solution? Not that I would go that route. Brenda

Continue reading Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

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Workplace Fitness: Ten reasons to encourage fitness at work

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Whether you're in management and have employees under you who may be affected, or if you're just a "peon" looking to influence your employer towards a more health-conscious culture at work, the reasons for encouraging fitness and health at work are pretty much undebatable. What it really comes down to is that healthy people are productive people, and having productive people in a place of business is always a good thing. So if you're compiling a case for your boss to start up a wellness program, or just looking for your own inspiration, here are 10 reasons to encourage fitness and health at work:
  • Reduced absenteeism and reduced health care costs. Fitness boosts the immune system, so fit employees are less likely to catch every cold that makes its way around the office and call in sick or visit the doctor.
  • Higher productivity. Fit employees have more energy, and are better able to stay focused and work harder and faster than out of shape, sleepy workers.

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Ten reasons to encourage fitness at work

How many calories ... in Sushi?

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I recently spent over a month travelling with two calorie-conscious girlfriends. During our trip, we ate a lot of sushi because one, it's delicious; two, it's a healthy choice amongst the array of deep-fried and fat-filled offerings that dominate the dining landscape; and three, we were right by the ocean and reveled the opportunity to get fresh seafood. But I can't help but wonder: with all that rice, is sushi really the best choice calorie-wise? It has lots of valuable vitamins and minerals like omega 3s, but if you're watching your waistline, would it be better to choose something else?

Let's investigate. An average sushi meal that we had would consist of a California roll (6 pieces), possibly another roll of something with a bit of pizazz, let's say a shrimp tempura roll (again, 6 pieces), and maybe a serving of edamame if we were really hungry. How many calories and fat would be in this meal? Would it be:

a) 962 cal, 46 g of fat
b) 863 cal, 31 g of fat
c) 555 cal, 26 g of fat
d) 231 cal, 2 g of fat

Continue reading How many calories ... in Sushi?

New tool for treating hard to reach acne

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Is this really something that hasn't been thought of before? The latest in acne treatment, called ClindaReach from DUSA Pharmaceuticals Inc, combines topical acne medication with an ergonomical tool designed to make it easier to apply in hard-to-reach places -- like the back.

People who suffer from acne on their backs often end up missing treating some areas because they can't reach them all, or they need to ask another person for help -- which is embarrassing. As many as 50 million people across the country suffer from acne, and of those half have it on their backs. ClindaReach is currently being made available to dermatologists and pharmacists, so make an appointment if you're interested in trying it out.

I couldn't find any pictures of the "ergonomically designed tool," but it sounds like a long handle with a clip or something on the end to hold a medication-soaked pad. So again I have to ask, is this really something that hasn't been thought of before? Wow, they're probably going to charge a fortune for it too.

Beef consumption in women linked to lower sperm count in sons

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It's hard to be pregnant these days. Nearly everything is pegged as a potential danger to your unborn baby, and mothers have to weigh the risks of so many foods. If you're pregnant, you now also may want to take a look at your beef consumption, because a recent study linked high consumption of beef to lower sperm counts in men.

Because the study was historical, which means it asked women to report what they remembered eating during pregnancy, researchers can't say definitively that eating beef reduces sperm counts. But reporting high levels of beef consumption was linked with lower sperm counts in the grown sons of the women, up to 24.3% lower in sons of women who ate more than seven servings of beef a week. Experts believe that the link could be due to the six different hormones given to cows to induce growth. Fetuses are especially vulnerable to these types of hormones during early growth and development.

If you're pregnant, researchers are quick to say that study doesn't mean you should avoid all beef products. Pregnant women, especially, need protein. But you may want to consider limiting your consumption, looking for hormone-free meats, or finding alternative sources of protein.

Female beef eater? Consider this

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New research was just released that concluded U.S. women who eat a lot of beef while pregnant give birth to sons who grow up to have low sperm counts. This is just a little unnerving and points to a well-known problem with the beef most of us eat.

Beef provided in the U.S. generally contains a good deal of hormones from injections meant to give beef sellers top dollar for their herds -- but those hormones, added pesticides in cattle feed and other contaminants in cattle feed -- when eaten by pregnant women -- can cause low sperm counts in those new sons.

Researchers said that "In sons of 'high beef consumers' (more than seven beef meals/week), sperm concentration was 24.3% lower." Ouch. Another reason to ditch red meat for health-conscious females.

Southeast suffers high pollen levels

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If you're reading this from the Georgia or South Carolina, your eyes may be too red and watery to see the screen! In the last week, a yellow haze has descended on the country's southeast states creating a boon for car wash businesses and makers of allergy medicine. The culprit? Pollen, mostly from pine trees.

The pollen is sticking around because of a lack of rain. Rain washes the pollen out of the air, but because there's been no precipitation (and none in sight for the next week), the stuff is just hanging there. Pollen counts have hit 5000 and above in an area that rarely sees counts above 120, and residents are feeling it. Watery eyes and irritated respiratory passages have citizens running for relief.

If you live in the Southeast, experts say stay inside as much as possible until the pollen leaves the area, or at least try to limit outdoor activities to early morning, when pollen counts hit their low point.

Jump up, jump up and get down with the kiddos

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On days when my toddler and I are trapped inside due to weather or colds, I feel the pressure to help him burn his crazy-kid energy and to keep myself entertained.

Sometimes our best activity is just jumping around. I turn on a CD we can both groove to and we dance, twirl, hop, skip and get the kind of kooky you can only get in front of family.

On good days, he pulls out his musical instruments or we imitate animals in motion or how Daddy dances for a whole CD. On other days, we collapse in a heap of laughter on the couch after just one song.

Pop in some dance tunes and get grooving with your children. You'll burn a few calories, get your heart pumping and maybe even get your kids to crack a smile. Plus, it will feel good to slough off a couch potato-y rainy day and will be one more way you help your kids enjoy healthy living.

This fun and funny podcast courtesy Land of Nod is another reason to add a little activity to the time you spend with the littlest members of your family. Simply download, jam out and jump up.

Can pizza be a health food?

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Yeah, possibly. Experts have actually figured out how to increase the antioxidants present in whole grain wheat pizza dough -- and we all know how great antioxidants are. Scientists simply let the dough rise longer, and then cooked it at higher than normal temperatures, and what they ended up with was a crust with antioxidant levels as much as 82% higher than normal.

Beware, however, because stacking pepperoni, sausage, and a pound of cheese on top of your healthy crust will defeat any and all good intentions towards better eating. And besides, it sounds like it might be hard to recreate the effect at home so I'll be watching for pizzerias to start offering "healthy" pizzas: with high-antioxidant crusts, lowfat cheese, and tons of veggies and lean meat on top. It actually sounds kinda good!

Anxiety rising on college campuses

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Universities across the country are seeing a rise in anxiety disorders among college students. Many campuses offer mental health services, but aren't equipped to deal specifically with anxiety disorders. The most common mental health complaint, over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.

College is an especially vulnerable time to struggle with the disease. Anxiety disorders often present themselves during early adulthood, and the issues surrounding leaving home, separation anxiety, and learning to take care of themselves, can leave college students floundering.

Experts say that if you know your college-bound teen suffers from mental health issues, the care available on or near campus should be a consideration when comparing colleges. In addition, helping your teen learn about self-care -- doing laundry, cooking, paying bills, making doctor appointments, and regulating their eating and sleeping schedule, can be very valuable in helping smooth the transition between home and campus.

Most surgical angioplasties not needed, says controversial study

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If you've gone in for that balloon angioplasty to help clear those arteries, a new study says that most of them are unneeded because drugs are just as effective.

This new research will surely be quite controversial since over half a million patients undergo surgery each year to have angioplasties performed and those procedures are one of the most common practices in heart care. To state that most of them are unnecessary will raise a few eyebrows for sure.

This study's results found that surgical angioplasties did not save lives or prevent heart attacks in non-emergency heart patients. Hospitals and doctors should worry I suppose -- about those profit margins more than anything.

Five small changes that make a BIG difference

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If you're interested in losing weight, you should begin by making small steps towards a healthier life. So what should these changes be? This article suggests the following:

-Stop drinking juice, soda and any other high-sugar beverage
-Cut down on the fat you use, even if it's healthy fat like olive oil
-Hold the mayo -- it will save you 110 calories per tablespoon
-Boost your fiber intake by switching to whole grains and increasing the amount of veggies you consume
-Opt for grilled instead of fried. And for the record, when something is described as 'crispy' (think chicken) that almost always means it's battered and fried. And if you're not already, pick the skinless variety of chicken over the original version.

Sounds simple enough. What do you think?

Breast MRIs urged for high risk women

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The American Cancer Society is announcing new guidelines in breast cancer detection, and it may mean that more women will be getting MRIs in addition to their mammograms.

Women who have a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes (which can indicated an increase risk for breast cancer), women who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, women who've undergone treatment for Hodgkin's disease, and women with a strong family history of the disease may be adding an annual MRI to their breast cancer prevention efforts. The reason behind the change the finding that MRIs can spot early changes in the breast -- such as abnormal blood flow -- that indicate breast cancer. MRIs can also better detect the disease in dense breast tissue.

Experts urge women to continue to get their yearly mammograms, which are better at detecting calcium deposits than MRIs. Mammograms are also significantly cheaper than MRIs, and MRIs have a higher false positive rate. Mammography is still the appropriate test for most women, but women in certain groups may benefit from having an MRI in addition to their mammogram.

For more information on whether you need to add an MRI to your yearly check-up, read this Q & A on the subject.

Gluten problems? Healthier diet is the answer

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Ever get the feeling that you've eaten too much when you seriously have not? Sufferers of an autoimmune disorder called coeliac disease can feel pain and swelling that leads them to believe overeating may be the cause.

In fact, the gluten protein found in many grains could be the source of that discomfort -- unbeknownst to many that have the disease.

Most folks who know about their condition eat gluten-free products, as they've realized that grains are the root of the problem. Gluten protein is found in large amounts in barley, oats, rye, spelt and wheat. If your doctor states that you need gluten-free foods, these grains may have to be taken out of your daily diet.

A pacemaker for your blood pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is commonly treated with diet and exercise, or medications, or both. But new research suggests there may be yet another option when all the "old stand-bys" fail. A new pacemaker-like device is still undergoing evaluation, but so far the results look promising -- through small electrical shocks into your carotid artery it "tricks" your body into thinking your pressure is higher than it really is, and so your system takes action to lower it.

I'm all for life-saving technology, and people who suffer from drug-resistant hypertension have very few options, but I can't help but be really creeped out by a device that sends electrical shocks through the blood vessels in a person's neck. I keep envisioning Frankenstein.

Top 10 nutrition myths

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We all have ideas about what's good for us and what isn't -- based on everything from scientist research, to old wives' tales to urban legend. Subsequently, two nutrition experts decided to take on what they saw as the "Top 10 Nutrition Myths" and set the record straight.

Among the commonly held beliefs that get debunked are "eating carbohydrates makes you fat," and, the one I learned in school as if it were a commandment, "drink eight, 8-oz glasses of water per day." The former is only true if you're eating carbs to excess (your body uses them for energy in moderation), and the latter seems to be based on an arbitrary number, as, in fact, you only need to replace the water you're losing through breathing, sweating and excrement, which may or may not total 64-oz per day.

You also might be interested to know that not all alcohol isn't bad for you, vitamin supplements aren't necessary for everyone, and consuming extra protein does nothing to bulk up muscles.

Surprised? For more eye-openers, complete with explanations, check out the full article.

Reduce inflammation in your body naturally

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Inflammation is the body's response to tissue damage and infection. There are many conditions that cause inflammation. Genetics play a role, so does the environment. Environmental factors include diet, exposure to toxins, germs, pollutants, and inhalants. Some people have a genetic predisposition to heightened inflammation which can cause them to have an illness such as rheumatoid arthritis. But a commonly overlooked cause of inflammation is poor diet.

Foods that cause inflammation are sugar, simple carbohydrates, and certain fatty acids and oils. To reduce inflammation avoid junk foods such as donuts, pastry, and sugared drinks. Insufficient consumption of fish, fruit and vegetables is as bad for human health as smoking.A diet that reduces inflammation consists mostly of vegetables and fish. In my opinion, the foods that cause the least inflammation and are the most anti-inflammatory are fish such as halibut and salmon, and all kinds of vegetables. Make changes slowly and accept the fact that there may be times when you binge on unhealthy snacks and foods.

There are many other herbs and nutrients that could be taken to reduce inflammation. For instance using curry and cinnamon when cooking is great. Use a variety of herbs and spices. Many of them have antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. For instance, curry has curcumin, rosemary has rosmarinic acid and ginger has vanillin and zingerone. All of these compounds have health benefits. Basil, bay leaves, cumin, chili powder, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, pepper, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic appears to protect against fungal and bacterial infections, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood clots and even cancer. Bee pollen, pomegranate, goji, mangosteen, graviola, green tea extract, and spirulina, are great herbs and additions to add to the body. A calcium supplement is recommended for postmenopausal women.

Cutting down or cutting out your sugar intake is a must to cut down on inflammation. Stevia, a no calorie natural herbal sweetener, is available in liquid or powder in health food stores. Reduce your intake of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin also.

Kids with ADHD risk later alcohol abuse

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A new study out of Pittsburgh concluded that children with ADHD are more likely than other children to abuse alcohol in their teen years.

The study looked at 364 children with ADHD over an eight-year period to determine if children diagnosed with ADHD had a higher propensity to drink compared to those without ADHD. One of the study's researchers stated that "We found that children with ADHD are more likely to report heavy drinking in their teen years, and more problems from drinking, than non-ADHD teens."

Can kids with ADHD successfully transition into adulthood without becoming abusers of alcohol? Absolutely -- but this study explains the habit of drinking in those teenage years could possibly lead to later issues with alcohol.