Friday, 30 March 2007

Do organic crops produce better fruit and veggies?

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There are many that think conventional produce like apples, grapes and oranges don't have the nutrients they used to based on the overusage of the land where many crops are grown. After all, can you really expect the same nutrition value in fruits and vegetables these days than from, say, 30 years ago? Has the land been tilled only a few thousands times since then? Probably.

Concerned folks only buy organic produce, which is grown in lands where farmers respect the environment and practice sustainable agriculture practices as a way of life. But, is it really better produce. Yes, according to recent statements from scientists that provide evidence that organic crops contain higher levels of important nutrients when compared to normal crops.

One of the results included an analysis of organic tomatoes, apples and peaches -- all of which revealed greater concentrations of vitamin C, polyphenols, betacarotene and flavonoids.

Have a pomegranate, for your heart's sake

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The pomegranate is, for all the good press it's received lately, still amazingly unknown and obscure. I think by now most people have at least heard of the pomegranate, although many still probably have no idea what one looks like. Well if you fall into that crowd you might want to make a change, because in addition to all the health benefits most fruits and veggies give, pomegranate juice has also been shown to have a positive impact on both prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.

I've actually never had a pomegranate, so in the spirit of trying new things (and being healthy in the process) I found this group of pomegranate recipes -- I'll be trying the pomegranate yogurt dip first I think.

Stem cells help with macular degeneration

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The usage of human stem cells continues to have its proponents and opponents these days. But in a recent study performed on rats (of course), special cells grown fro stem cells have been shown to protect eyesight from the problems of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness for people older than 50.

The stem cells were derived from human fetal stem cells (called "neural progenitor cells"). These cells protected the eyesight of rats eye diseases similar to human diseases. Conclusion here -- human stem cells showed that they can actually protect failing eye cells.

Are stem cells ready to be used in the treatment of various human physical ailments? So far, that question is being answered by a resounding yes.

Chinese produce and quality control

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Do you trust produce grown and processed in China? With several food scare in recent years, the growing and handling of Chinese produce is apparently increasing quite a bit and has been termed "quasi-organic" as a result.

Now, it seems odd that the recent pet food recall across the U.S. was determined to come from rat poison-contaminated wheat gluten sourced from China (by Menu Foods), so are the signals being mixed here?

It's implausible to think that the sheer volume of produce grown for over a billion people is going to be perfect, all the time. That is impossible -- but from reading this, Chinese growers and producers are making sure they catch everything they can with good practices.

Make your home healthier with these 20 tips

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Did you know that studies have shown that you eat less in a brightly lit kitchen? That's just one of the useful tips I found reading this article about creating a healthier home. Going through each of the major rooms in your home -- the living room, the bedroom, the bathroom, and the kitchen -- the article helps you target problem areas all over your house.

For instance, those of you who have trouble sleeping (and I know there's a lot of you), try to keep your bedroom as quiet as peaceful as possible. That may mean leaving your laptop in the living room and removing the TV, but once you teach your body that the bedroom is for sleeping, it will help you relax and get in those zzzzzs. Other tips include putting in quality, but indirect light, in your living room and (if you can do so without flashing the neighbors) leaving the blinds up in your bathroom so that the bright, natural light will reset your body's clock each morning.

So if you're getting ready to spring clean, take a look at these tips and see if you can improve the "health" of your home!

Sedentary behavior and high blood sugar

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Do you have what is considered to be a "sedentary lifestyle?" This would be a desk job during the day, very little physical movement before and after work (like taking elevators instead of stairs and watching TV instead of walking around the block). If you have this type of lifestyle recent research shows that you may be likely to have high levels of glucose in your blood.

Even though you may not be diabetic (yet), a recent study from Australia concluded the above after examining the association between television viewing and blood glucose levels.

Conclusion (only in women, interestingly): the more time women spent television viewing, the higher were their blood glucose levels two hours after they took the glucose test-drink. Result: get more exercise, whether it be walking or actually some kind of regular exercise on equipment. Something...anything.

Stick to chocolate bunnies: Easter chicks spread salmonella

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It might be hard, but as much as you want to surprise your child with that cute little chick on Easter morning, health officials say it's a better bet to let the birds stay at the farm.

The CDC reports that in 2006, baby chicks were implicated in causing three outbreaks of salmonella -- sickening nearly 100 patients -- across the country and warn that children under 5 shouldn't be handling the animals. The germ is carried in the animals' feces, which can be spread onto clothing, furniture, and anything else the chick comes across. The majority of chicks, who are commonly found at agricultural feed stores this time of year, come from only 20 different hatcheries across the country. Some of those hatcheries have been repeatedly blamed for causing salmonella outbreaks caused by baby-poultry.

Personally, I think that unless you have a barnyard, you have no business bringing home a farm animal that you'll likely later want to dispose of. Take your kids to the petting farm and let them get their fill of baby animals, but if you celebrate Easter, fill their basket with goodies that don't require pet care!

Get the lead out -- of your house, that is

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Living in a home that's nearly 100 years old has its perks -- high ceilings, amazing woodwork, and plenty of character. There are also some drawbacks: a spooky cistern in the basement, the constant hum of renovation, and lead paint.

When we moved into our house, I researched lead paint pretty thoroughly, knowing we'd eventually have a family. We couldn't afford abatement, so it seemed our best bet was to cover it (mostly with drywall) or replace parts of our home altogether. Our children had their lead levels monitored at age 1, and so far, we seem to be ok.

Though we've taken pains to protect our children from the lead paint we know exists in our home, many children live in homes where families are unaware of the lead danger, don't know what to do about it, or can't afford repairs. Experts now say that children should not just be monitored for lead poisoning in their toddler years, when lead levels typically peak, but throughout their childhood. Lead exposure is known to cause learning and behavior problems, and no one really knows how lead exposure affects the older child.

Continue reading Get the lead out -- of your house, that is

That's Fit Weekly Podcast #5: March 30, 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 the fifth and final program of our Spring Into Fitness series, our topic is Foolproof Ways to Boost Your Energy.

Even with spring heading into full force, many of us may still feel run down, lacking in energy and prone to colds. Do you feel tired from the minute you pick your head up from the pillow in the morning until it falls back there at night? Are you battling exhaustion with coffee so you can check off just one more item on your to-do list? Or, do you skip activities you might enjoy because you "just don't have the energy?"

It's okay to be tired after a long, invigorating day filled with activities you love. But far too many of us are chronically exhausted all the way to the bone, brought on by multiple roles and tasks that create energy-zapping stress. To put the spring back into your step, follow these 9 simple tips to give you the boost you need.

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

Kristi Anderson

File Format
9:02:00 length, 8.28 MB size, MP3 format (64kbps)

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

April 5, 2007 Program: We kick off our new April series -- "Step It Up" -- by talking about how to push past exercise plateaus.

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Daily Fit Tip: The best exercises need no equipment

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I'm a total sucker for every "exercise gimmick of the week" that comes along so I've got quite the closet full of unused workout gear. It's not that I think I have to have that stuff to get in shape, but it does make it easier to motivate sometimes when I have something fun to use! But the truth is that some of the best strength training workouts need zero gear. Nada. Nothing. And I'm no expert, but you may even be able to safely do some of them barefoot...

This article lists several extremely effective moves that use only the body's weight for resistance -- and although they all look challenging there's one that looks harder than all the rest: the single leg squat. The author, when explaining how the move works, suggests starting at "0-1" reps, and working your way up to 2 full ones on each side.

Let me know how that goes! (Yeah, yeah...I'll try it too)

Fit Factor: It's more fun on the water

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Well, folks, summer's coming and there's nothing I like more to do when it's hot out than spend a good chunk of time in the water, whether I'm swimming through it or floating over it. What are your favourite water activities? Me, I love canoeing, rafting, tubing and wake boarding. Spending time in a boat is a great way to enjoy the sun and get some activity, so if, like me, you're growing tired of the treadmill, I suggest you head to the nearest lake or ocean for some fun on the water. It's not the first activity that people think of for fitness, but it's fun and it can be a great workout if you want it to be.

For those of you who crave activity, you can spend your water time riding the rapids in a raft or kayak. All you need is a fast-moving river, life jackets and, or course, a boat, but if you're a novice, be sure to seek out the advice of someone who knows the river.

Continue reading Fit Factor: It's more fun on the water

Working in the Workouts: Got eight minutes to spare?

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Owen and MommyEach week, Debbie will share her goals, challenges, successes and tips on how to fit in fitness when caring for a rambunctious toddler.

Well, here I am, newfound motivation at the ready. Am I chomping at the bit to start fitting in the fitness? Not exactly, but I am ready to take baby steps toward regaining my fitness and "me" time.

Where to start . . . Pre-baby, one of my favorite fitness pieces to my day was Jorge Cruise's Eight Minutes in the Morning. I had done this strength training workout for years with amazing results for the amount of time I put into it. The book highlights an eating plan as well, but instead, I focused on the two-muscle-groups-a-day exercises, as I don't like anyone to manage my portion control except me.

Continue reading Working in the Workouts: Got eight minutes to spare?

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Spring pollen getting to you?

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Allergy season is coming into full bloom with spring. Medicines help treat allergy symptoms once they strike, but here are a few hints that can help you prevent symptoms altogether. It is time for that good spring cleaning for your home and your nasal passages that should be put into your everyday routine.

The fresh air is great in the spring tempting us to open our windows and let that cross breeze flow through the house. But if you or your spouse or child are an allergy sufferer you should keep those windows closed and use air conditioning if you're allergic to pollen. Don't use fans since they can stir up dust. Filter the air. There are many brands of air filtration systems that you can put in individual rooms to help filter allergens out of the air. One helpful hint is to cover your air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to filter pollen and use high efficiency particulate air filters. Clean air filters or replace them frequently, once or twice a month. This not only cuts down on allergies but also the electric bill. Clean your home air ducts at least once a year. Keep the humidity in your house below 50 percent to prevent mold growth by using dehumidifiers and especially in the basement where mold is more likely to collect. Be sure to clean your dehumidifiers and filtration systems once a week also. Wash your bedding every week in hot water and vacuum twice a week. If you have indoor pets you should vacuum 4 times a week to cut down on animal dander and also bathe your pets often. Most important is don't allow smoking in your home.

Now that we have cleaned up your home, here is one helpful hint to clean up your nasal passages. Nettie Pots are great for cleaning out the sinus areas. A Nettie Pot is a small ceramic, long spouted, teapot where you put a simple salt and warm water solution and poor into your nose with your head tilted to one side. This flushes out all kinds of stuff. Be sure to do both nostrils.
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Growing older means getting more...positive?

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The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs recently did some research on aging, and surprise surprise they actually came up with something good to say! When a group of older adults and younger adults were both shown groups of positive images, neutral images, and negative images, the older adults reacted more evenly to the positive and negative, while the younger set responded most to the negative pictures.

What does this mean? Researchers are saying it means that older adults are more balanced, and therefore more positive in general regarding their outlooks. Unfortunately, other than a nice bit of news, it doesn't really mean much -- yet anyway. Research will continue towards developing some real-life applications.

New potential asthma therapy burns off muscle in the lungs

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If you've ever suffered an asthma attack, you know how miserable the disease can be. People with moderate to severe asthma, who suffer attacks on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis, truly suffer a lesser quality of life when their asthma is not under good control. Medications have improved over the last few years, but reducing the number of attacks and increasing the number of symptom-free days remains high priority for doctors and patients alike.

A new therapy currently in testing is showing promise, though I have to admit the idea of it took me back a little bit. Researchers are testing a method called "bronchial thermoplasty," and it involves sending a tube with a camera down the nose and into the airways. Once there, doctors can activate a probe that widens the airways and heats up smooth muscle with radio-frequency energy. The heat burns off smooth muscle, which is partially responsible for constriction of the airways. An average of 100 to 200 different airways are treated over three visits.

Participants in the study had 50% fewer attacks and two to three times the amount of symptom-free days compared to how they felt before treatment. One woman in the article said the treatment didn't so much change her life as it did return her life to a normal one, without so much fear of not being able to breathe. The method needs more testing, but if you can get past the idea of burning off the smooth muscle in your airways, it may just offer hope to asthmatics in the future.

Fitting a Bike Helmet

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Tis the season for outdoor sports, and biking is always a popular one. Whether it's your kids or yourself, wearing a bike helmet is a necessity - traumatic brain injuries are easier to come by than you might think. And there's very little point in bothering to wear a helmet if it doesn't fit right, so take a look at these tips for fitting a bike helmet:

  • Adjust the padding so the helmet fits snug, but not too tight, and as low on the head as possible for the most protection.
  • Make sure the helmet fits securely to stay in place even through vigorous shaking or, heaven forbid, a hard knock to the head.
  • The helmet shouldn't move when the buckle is fastened (it shouldn't hurt or pinch, either. You don't want to be tempted to unbuckle it).
  • When you open your mouth wide you should feel the helmet pull down slightly.
  • When you're wearing the helmet and you look up you should just see the rim slightly, and the "Y" on each side of your head should come together just below your ears.

Are you being wise about your beauty?

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Are you "wise about beauty?" When thinking of natural ways to improve one's beauty or when considering cosmetic surgery even, wise and well-researched choices are always of paramount importance if you want to choose the most correct course of action for whatever goal(s) you may have.

The website was designed to help people understand that there are common misconceptions about plastic and cosmetic surgery that simply aren't true. After watching this YouTube video below, this makes sense from a practical perspective.

If you're thinking about plastic surgery to assist you in achieving those "beautiful" goals, what conclusions have you reached? I'd be interested in hearing from readers in the comments section below.

Don't play with your health

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Many people (myself included), are guilty of not taking their health seriously. We've been told a million times (at least), that if we don't make it a priority, we'll pay for it later (blah blah, yadda yadda), but do we listen? Probably not.

Therefore, governments are forever trying to come up with new ways to break through our health and fitness apathy. This clever ad from the Ministry of Health of Portugal is a great example, as it certainly does a good job at grabbing your attention.

The ad's tag line is: "Don't Play With Your Health. Check Your Cholesterol."


[via Neatorama]

Arthritis weaves its way into many workplaces

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Many of us suffer from arthritis, which can turn hands and feet into aching limbs instead of productive, everyday tools. The workplace has a lot to lose from employees with arthritis, as a new study estimates that 7 million U.S. adults are limited in the workplace due to arthritis issues.

In other numbers, that figure represents about 30% of people with arthritis who are 18-64 years old. That's quite a few people in the workplace, is it not?

Although the study's participants tended to be older, the figure still resounds with authority in terms of the overall population in the workforce working everyday with slight or large pain from arthritis. Workplaces and businesses, as a result, are losing untold amounts of productivity while arthritis sufferers slog it through every workday.