Monday, 9 April 2007

Internet supplements -- use extreme caution

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Do you buy herbal vitamins and supplements over the Internet? Sure, it's very easy (and cheaper in many cases) to buy things these days via the web. But, can you really trust all that information you read in your research and what supplement sellers provide?

It's accepted science and prudent marketing that supplement and vitamin makers using disease-prevention claims cite specific and verifiable scientific studies that back up those claims -- but those studies are rarely referenced anywhere. So, you're reading what you end up believing -- with little to no shred of proof.

The old saying goes here, "question everything".

Cancer cases to double by 2030

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We need a cure, and quick. According to the latest numbers at the rate it's going cancer diagnoses will double by the year 2030.

Why this sudden growth expected in upcoming years? Experts blame a combination of factors, including population growth, longer life expectancy, and more people smoking in the developing world. And in those poorer countries is where the increases in cancer diagnosis is expected. It seems that although we're working harder in the developed world to lead healthy lifestyles, habits like smoking are on the rise elsewhere. And of all places, in those countries they don't have the health care to do much about it.

Last minute egg stuffers -- with a healthy twist

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OK! I....I mean the Easter Bunny just finished hiding eggs around the house for my two little tots. At the last minute, the Easter Bunny had to come up with healthy alternatives to stuffing these dear little people full of teeth-rotting sugar tomorrow morning. Mission accomplished! If the big furry one shows up to your house last minute, here are some great alternatives to candy in eggs.

  • Goldfish
  • Cheerios
  • yogurt raisins
  • stamps
  • stickers
  • raisins
  • deflated balloons
  • coins
  • dollars
  • erasers
  • teeny nail polish bottles
  • barrettes
  • ribbons
  • bows
  • key chains
  • put a five dollar bill in a surprise egg

Good luck! Happy Easter! Don't let the bunny hide the eggs where they can't be found again!

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Suggestions for insomnia? Anyone?

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Ugh I'm am the pathetic victim tonight. I went to sleep at 11:00pm exhausted. My two year old son woke up at both 1:00AM and 1:45AM screaming. I calmed him down once, and changed his diaper once, but was able to fall back to asleep after each event. Then he woke up screaming at 2:30AM. Desperate, I bring him into my bed. He falls asleep and I stay awake. My husband comes home from fighting crime at 3:30AM and goes to sleep. I am STILL awake! It's 4:57AM and after three hours of lying in bed staring at the inside of my eyes, I've got my rear end up to ask for help.

Fortunately, I only experience this nonsense once in a blue moon. I can imagine though, that lots of you get stuck with insomnia far more often. What works for you? If you've found some spectacular way to get back to snoozing.....preferably without any sort of drugs, let us know! We've got a whole comment section available to share your thoughts. My kids are guaranteed to wake up at 6:30AM. I've just considered whacking myself over the head with a frying pan. That seemed to work so well in the old cartoons. Help!

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A Star Trek tricorder for modern dentists?

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Okay, so here's some cool technology: a hand held device that can assess dental disease in mere minutes. With just a drop or two of your saliva, the handy gadget can analyze proteins and chemistry to not only determine if you have periodontal disease but also how severe the case is. The researchers are hopeful that in the future this technology can be used to help with identifying other diseases, like prostate and breast cancer.

The article compares it to a Star Trek tricorder, but I don't remember the tricorder needing spit samples.

Women pay more for high-deductible health care

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Harvard Medical School researchers stated this past week that those high-deductible health insurance plans are biased against women patients. Why? Well, because women need more routine medical exams than their male counterparts.

So, are employer-based medical plans with high deductibles discriminating against women? That is the conclusion I read from this research. The study's lead author, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, said that "High-deductible plans punish women for having breasts and uteruses and having babies."

Now that's pretty direct, yes? If you're a woman, what has been your experience here?

Still, only 1 in 7 adults eat right and exercise

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The health, wellness, and dieting industry is HUGE. Literally billions and billions spent every year by Americans trying to eat right, exercise more, and just generally live healthier lives. Or so they say...

Surprisingly, after all the media and industry growth, according to a survey recently by the CDC only 1 in 7 adults actually does eat healthy and exercise. That's just sad! And on top of those already depressing numbers is the fact that if anything that is an overestimation, the reality may actually be worse.

Lets all do our part to not be in the majority -- in this case!

Beauty salons the new evening hot spot?

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It's a Saturday night and I just want to go out and relax, listen to to some music, and have a drink or two -- see you at the...spa? Yep, the latest rage in beauty treatments and relaxation seems to be for spa and beauty salons to stay open late into the night, serve drinks, and play music you'd probably expect more in a club setting.

The salons that have joined this craze say it makes for a nice social mix of young "up and comings" getting dolled up before heading out on the town and the older more mature crowd that's winding down for evening. It's not only less crowded at that time, but the atmosphere caters to mingling and meeting people -- beauty salons are becoming the new social hot spots.

Yes, sexy lawyer, come over and talk to me while I sit with foil in my hair under a large dryer that looks like a space helmet. Perfect.

Merck's Arcoxia found to be too risky

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It seems like the more popular some pharmaceutical drugs become, the more and more we hear about the side effects of certain drugs that make many of us shudder. In that vein, a few high-profile medical heart experts from the U.S. stated that Merck's arthritis drug Arcoxia showed risks that should effectively ban its use in the U.S.

In addition, the medical experts stated that Arcoxia posed unacceptable dangers in the 63 countries where it is already sold. Both Dr. Steven Nissen Dr. Curt Furberg concluded that "All versions of Arcoxia should be taken off the market now."

Nissen and Furberg were also an ardent critics of Merck's Vioxx drug as well -- and that drug went crashing down in history just a few years ago after patients starting dying from heart complications while using that drug.

Will L-Carnitine help you lose weight?

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No, basically, it won't. Not supplements of it, anyway. L-Carnitine is an amino acid that helps body fat travel from storage areas to "burning areas," but your body makes it's own naturally so if you eat right and exercise you shouldn't need to supplement it. It's not a "more is better" kind of situation.

It's one of those things that sounds good in theory, and if it makes you feel better then do what you gotta do. But just make sure you're not using it as an excuse not to worry about your diet or activity level, because bottom line (I know, it sucks!) diet and exercise are the real keys to success.

Jumpstart Your Fitness: Try the Shoe Diet

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No, this isn't a program for shoe shop-aholics. The Shoe Diet is about rewarding yourself for a job well done, a goal reached, pounds and inches successfully lost. It's about the power of looking forward to something and how motivating it can be in helping you to overcome those bumps and slumps and plateaus along the road to your ultimate goal.

Shoes can help you look thinner, feel sexier, and the majority of women love the whole idea of going shopping for them in the first place. What better way to motivate yourself than by the promise of new shoes floating on the horizon?

So here's the gist of the Shoe Diet:

Continue reading Jumpstart Your Fitness: Try the Shoe Diet

Make your workout a good fit...for you!

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You could make a line of women a mile long, all of whom were the same weight, and you'd likely have as many different body shapes as you did women. Weight is only one part of the equation when it comes to being healthy and fit, and we all have our trouble zones. That means that one workout does not always fit all.

This article outlines four different workouts for four very different women. Workout tips, strength training exercises, and a diet makeover are all part of revamping these women's routines to give them the body they want. (By the way, I would love someone to do that for me...what a treat.) For instance, one woman with low energy was eating far too many simple carbs and junk food, while another who was trying to lose fat needed to add more calcium to her diet.

Whether you fit the profile of one of these women or not, there are some great tips here, including exercise examples and nutrition ideas. Check it out!

We'll pay anything for those magic berries

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There has been so much good press lately regarding the health benefits of fresh fruit, especially fresh raspberries and blueberries, that more and more shoppers are putting fruit on the weekly grocery list. Credited with helping in the fight against one of the biggest illnesses in this country, cancer, it's no wonder fresh fruit is getting so popular. So that's great and all, but there is a downside to this sudden interest in the produce aisle: prices are skyrocketing. Berries are flying by air, floating by sea, and traveling by truck from all over the world in an attempt to meet the drastically rising demand.

Of course it's never a good thing when prices at the grocery store go up, especially when it's related to something in the "health food" category. But hopefully people won't get too discouraged -- spending a few extra bucks on fresh fruit is so much better for you than blowing it on a big bag of Doritos.

Major U.S. drought coming by 2021?

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Drought conditions generally are not welcome anywhere these days. A lack of moisture makes for uneven crops and other agricultural conditions that raise food prices and create supply and demand imbalances -- and that's not good for producers or consumers.

Climate scientists said late last week that Texas may even face a future of consistent drought conditions as bad as the record dry years of the 1950s because of global warming. While there are supporters and foes of global warming, specific scientific data supports a rise in coming global temperatures, right?

Whatever your position on global warming, a trend towards a drier, hotter southwestern U.S. may be coming in the next 15 years and it's feared dust bowl-like conditions could re-emerge -- and not in temporary fashion.

InsideOutside wear: your own personal sixth sense

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Would you like to be alerted the next time your ex enters the gym where you're working out? Or be alerted when you're running through a neighborhood full of unleashed dogs just waiting to chase you? InsideOutside wear can't do that just yet, but they're on the right track.

The idea of this highly sophisticated and sensor-filled clothing is that users can pre-program it to tell them when they're getting near situations that make them uncomfortable. Right now, the website uses a combination of Google maps and GPS coordinates for users to highlight locations they don't like. When you come within range of your chosen targets, the clothing heats up or cools down to send you a warning.

InsideOutside hasn't gone retail yet, but the possibilities really are endless...for high-tech enthusiasts, anyway. I'm not sure that the practical applications of sensor-laden clothing would translate for the rest of us, or would it? What do you think?

Mental shopping lists better for healthy choices

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Like Rigel wrote on a few weeks ago, a study was recently completed on the effects of making a grocery shopping list. It stands to reason that those who make (and try to follow) a shopping list have reduced chances of making unhealthy impulse purchases.

In a recent Duke University study, the conclusion was that making a grocery shopping list actually lead to more unhealthier purchases because of decreased impulse control that comes from making a list. Sounds odd, I know.

The solution in my book? If you do your grocery shopping using a list, make a promise to yourself to only follow the list and to not deviate from it at all for any reason. How strong is your shopping list will, eh?

Breaking bad habits

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A huge part of losing weight, getting fit, and staying that way is learning to break your old bad habits. We may all know what we're supposed to be doing for a healthy lifestyle, but most of aren't following through -- not really anyway.

So start by sitting down with a notebook and jotting down some of the things that you know get in the way sometimes. When do you feel guilty? That's probably one. Next, analyze yourself and think of what might help you get past it next time it crops up: make a battle plan.

And last, hand pick some new good habits you're going to work on. Whether it's stuff you're already doing that you want to be better at, like eating breakfast every day, or something you haven't done yet at all but should, like starting a walking program, write it down and really work at doing it regularly. If you stick with it through the starting "rough patch" it will eventually become habit, and second nature.

Here are five foods to keep away

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Dieters can sometimes disagree on what foods to avoid. Some dieters eat healthy and maintain a decent figure by avoiding some types of foods and others have luck with entirely different approaches.

Are there "universally bad" foods to avoid, though? According to an article over at eDiets, there are indeed some foods you want to try and stay away from. I'm no fan of red meat or partially hydrogenated foods (trans fats) -- so what is on your list? Fats? Carbs? Refined sugars? Sweets?
  • Doughnuts
  • Ramen noodles
  • Chicken nuggets
  • French fries
  • Hot dogs

Five simple mistakes people make at the gym

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If you're going to take the trouble and time to go to the gym to work out, you want to make the best of your time, right? Many people don't, however, and a few quick cheats can easily add up to a low-intensity workout that wastes your time and leaves that fat you're trying to blast stubbornly in place.

So if you want to make the most of your next cardio workout, check out this article that defines five common mistakes and easy ways to fix them. For instance, you treadmill walkers out there...did you know that walking on a treadmill with no incline burns 10% fewer calories than walking outside on level ground? That's because the treadmill helps to propel you forward. Instead, make sure you increase the incline, and better yet, vary it during your workout. Also, do you hang on to the sides or console of your elliptical or treadmill? That no-no will cost you calories as well. Keep your weight evenly balanced on your feet so that your leg muscles don't get a chance to share the load with the machine.

Checking your form and making sure you're using cardio equipment properly will help you spend your time at the gym doing what you came to do -- building endurance, burning fat, and creating a stronger, healthier, and more fit physique.

Can Tai Chi prevent shingles?

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When I was in high school, I developed a painful rash that looked a lot like poison ivy -- but seemingly came from nowhere and hurt like crazy. After visiting the doctor I learned that I had shingles.

Though it normally affects people over 50, the disease is relatively common. Fortunately, researchers may have found a way to prevent the uncomfortable skin condition: the ancient martial art of Tai Chi.

In the study, volunteers aged 59-86 either took Tai Chi for 12 weeks, or were enrolled in health education classes without any mention of martial arts -- Tai Chi or otherwise. After six months, those who'd taken Tai Chi had almost doubled their immunity levels against shingles.

Inspired to try it? Here's a website that'll take you through the basics, or head down to your local martial arts studio to take a class with others -- chances are, even if they don't teach it, they'll know someone who does.