Saturday, 21 April 2007

Test your healthy living IQ

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Thanks to reader Dan who sent us this link to MUSC website, which has a page devoted to helpful heath-related quizzes. It's a great chance to brush up on your healthy living facts. The fact is, North American's are in the midst of an obesity crises and while this is not news to many, there are still people who are clueless when it comes to things like exercise, nutrition and much more. The quizzes are pretty straightforward -- I took the obesity and healthy lifestyle quizzes and while I knew most of the answers, it's always good to take a refresher course when it comes to the most important thing in your life: your health.

What did you score?

Nursing shortage affecting patient nutrition in UK

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Nursing shortages in Britain may be causing patient nutrition to take a nosedive. If there are not enough nurses and the existing staff becomes overwhelmed due to lack of time, patients who need to supervised while they eat aren't properly looked after.

Patients about to undergo treatment or who have undergone certain treatments (chemicals, surgery, etc.) generally have a dietary plan they must follow to ensure adequate preparation or recovery is performed.

Could this happen to the U.S., where the explosion of baby boomer hospital visits is sure to happen in the next 10-15 years? Health care seems the place to be for future growth.

Dr. Weil's tips for eating well

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vegetablesI recently posted on spa cuisine, giving tips and recipes so that you could incorporate spa cooking in your own kitchen.

Dr. Andrew Weil develops integral health programs for the featured spa in the article (Miraval in Arizona) and gives some tips for eating well on the Epicurious site.

This health guru provides simple tips; small changes you could make in your lifestyle that will pack a big punch, according to him. For instance, drink tea. That's it? I can do that. And that is the feeling you will get from most of the tips Dr. Weil provides.

So now you have all the power -- ways to cook like the spas do, and tips for healthy eating. Put them all together, and I'll be over for dinner next week!

400-pound man runs Boston Marathon...and finishes!

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Rigel wrote this week about an astronaut running the Boston Marathon in space and how inspiring her story was. Here's another story that may help you get up off that couch. Jacob Seilheimer weighed 438 pounds when he decided he was going to run this year's Boston Marathon, and just like that he went out and started training. This week, he unofficially entered the race (80 pounds lighter than when he made the commitment) and he finished it. Sure, he was dead last. Sure, it took him 9 hours. But he committed to a goal, a very difficult goal, and he stuck with it.

I'm not recommending that you do what Jacob did. In fact, Jacob got a lot of flack for his training methods. Most doctors would have told him to start by walking a few minutes several times a week and build up slowly, and I'm guessing most running experts would agree.

But you just can't argue with Jacob's spirit. Like the astronaut running the marathon strapped her treadmill, Jacob's story makes me feel more than a little guilty for sitting here and wanting to have "just one more" of the Newman's-Os that are calling me from my kitchen. You don't have to train for a marathon, but having a long-term fitness goal to strive for can help you keep your eye on the prize.

U.S. Senate sees progress for drug safety bill

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Will the U.S. Government increase its oversight of the pharmaceutical industry's torrent of prescription drugs any time soon? That is the basis of a new bill in the U.S. Senate that saw some action this past Wednesday.

Companies that fail to perform extensive post-approval studies will be under the microscope in a huge way and there may be a possible advertising ban on new drugs that are marketed to consumers for two years after initial introduction. In addition, the safety of new medicines would be reviewed 18 months and three years after they reach the market.

Is this all good news for consumers? From the outset, it sounds very good and I am sure is a response to the recent Vioxx and Celebrex healthy fiascos from previous years. Or, is there some kind of hidden agenda here? What do you think?

Weight loss: low-GI diet same as cutting calories

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If you're spending much of your day trying to figure out the glycemic load of each food you eat in an effort to lose weight, you may just be wasting your time. That's according to new research that put two groups of people on a diet. One group followed a plan full of low-glycemic foods, while the others simply cut calories. In the end, both groups lost similar amounts of weight.

For the average person, cutting calories and eating a healthy diet -- the advice we've been hearing for ages -- seems to still be the best way to go to shed those pounds. That's not to say a low -glycemic diet isn't still a useful tool. People with type 2 diabetes or people who secrete large amounts of insulin may still have more success on a diet with a low-glycemic load. And if a low-GI diet is working for you, there's no reason to stop doing what you're doing.

Experts remind us that even if you choose an "anything goes" kind of diet that simply restricts calories, it's still important to focus on nutrient-rich foods and leave the junk food out.

Ten reasons why children need to exercise

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Do you worry about your kids getting enough exercise? I know I do. In the spring, summer, and fall it's not a problem, but in the winter I'm constantly trying to come up with ways to get them moving. Past generations of children spent so much time outside, it was hard for parents to get them in for dinner. But for a lot of different reasons -- video games, computers, safety concerns, among them -- it seems like kids are spending more and more time indoors.

It really is important that kids learn to love exercise. Not only will it help them stay healthy now and prevent gaining extra weight in childhood, it will teach them to build habits that will last them a life time. Here's a list of the top 10 reasons why kids should exercise. Exercise relieves anxiety, builds interpersonal relationships, builds confidence, improves sleep, enhances school performance, and prevents disease. Plus, it's fun!

Every reason on that list is a good one. Need some ideas? Next time your child says, "I'm boooorrrred," here's a list of 50 ways for kids to exercise. And Mayo Clinic has an excellent article for turning your little former couch potato into an exercise fan. (If your kids still need convincing, here's an article just for them.) Spring is the perfect time to teach kids to be active and to get them in shape for some summer fun.

What did you have for lunch today?

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tortillasBy now, if you follow my posts, you'll have noticed that in addition to being somewhat of a health nut (I try anyway), I am also a foodie. My passion is to help people understand that the two can collide, and you don't have to give up luscious food to eat healthily.

I am pretty proud of the healthy lunch I had today, so I wanted to share it with you (well, not literally). Why should you care? Maybe you don't, but . . . it was such an easy lunch to prepare that you'd think for sure it couldn't possibly be this healthy.

Do I have your attention?

Continue reading What did you have for lunch today?

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Serving Suggestion: Bob's Red Mill whole grains

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One the best meals of the day (out of 5 or 6 smaller ones) is breakfast. Instead of sugared cereals and fattening cow's milk, a good dose of whole-grain oats and fresh blueberries does the trick every time. Add in a little soy milk and that's a decent and healthy breakfast.

Make no mistake -- there is a world of nutritional difference in the oat world. Processed and rolled oats most likely have been stripped of all the important nutrients that make them healthy in the first place. Solution? Go for whole-grain oats.

The best mass market brand? Bob's Red Mill from my experience. It's easy to find, it's whole-grain (not processed) and they taste great. It's a staple for my breakfast many times each week.

The truth about eating at your desk

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I'll admit it: I'm an occasional desk diner. Usually, I head to the company lunchroom or out to a restaurant with friends, but sometimes there's just not enough time in the day and I end up chowing down a sandwich or salad in front of the computer while I attempt to type at the same time. Desk dining is on the chopping block at WebMD -- not only does it subtract from precious time you should be spending doing something else, it's also unsanitary. Unconscious eating leads to over-eating and, as the article points out, have you ever noticed how much food-related tidbits end up in your keyboard? It's positively gross.

I spend a good 10 hours a day in front of a computer. My hour lunch break away from that seems like forever when I have things on the go, but in all honesty, I think it's necessary to break free of the cyber-world for a measly 60 minutes, if not for my eyesight then my precious sanity. I'm guessing quite a few of you are in the same boat. So this lunch hour, get up, walk around and eat somewhere else. If you're really too busy, just take a five minute break. It will do you a world of good.

Save your eyesight from that computer monitor

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Want to save your eyesight? If you are like most of us these days, you may spend hours and hours in front of the computer screen both at work and at home.

Is your eyesight suffering because of all that "screen time"? If so, there are 7 good eyesight habits you can follow to reduce that strain every single day. That is, if you put in the effort to making sure you follow all the steps.

This article over at eDiets gives a great amount of detail on how to throw that eye strain away as much as possible. Here's a summary:

1. Look away from the screen regularly.
2. Position your monitor properly.
3. Use friendly lighting.
4. Minimize glare on the computer screen.
5. Take regular, short breaks.
6. Blink more often.
7. Position yourself directly in front of the computer.

Smaller portions are the key to guilt-free snacks

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All the dieting experts are saying it lately: total deprivation does not work. It leaves you craving things you normally might not, because when you can't have it, you want it. Here's a better idea: why not allow yourself a few smart indulgences? The key to a 'smart' indulgence is to indulgence in moderation. AOL offers up these great indulgences. What made the list? Hershey kisses for the chocoholics, Cool Whip light for the creamy sweettooths, Air-popped popcorn for those who need something salty, plus a few more. I'm a cheese fiend so one of my favourite treats is a mini babybel or a couple of non-fat laughing cow wedges.

What treats do you allow yourself?

Bean soup for the veggie lover's soul

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I've been toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian. I don't eat a lot of meat, but I'm not willing to put my kids on a vegetarian diet, so I'm trying to find a balance between cooking for them and cooking for me and not cooking two different meals every time we eat. One of my answers has been bean soup.

I got on a bean soup kick this winter. I make a large pot of it each weekend and then heat it up for lunch throughout the week. I know I'm getting plenty of protein each time I eat it, and it's a great way to sneak in some vegetables. The beauty of bean soup is, once you get the hang of it, you really don't need a recipe. I clean out the leftover veggies in my fridge, and saute them in a little olive oil. (If you like your meal to be fat-free, you can saute them in some vegetable broth instead.) Then add beans, fresh or dried thyme, and water or vegetable broth. It's a no-brainer, and it turns out a little different every time.

Last night I adapted this recipe and made my best version yet:

Continue reading Bean soup for the veggie lover's soul

That's Fit Weekly Podcast #8: April 20, 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 third episode of our April "Step It Up!" series, our topic is The Benefits of Strength Training. Proper strength training can help us to look better, feel better and function better. Here are 10 reasons why you should pick up your weights today and get started.

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
9:06:00 length, 8.33 MB size, MP3 format (128kbps)

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

April 27, 2007 Program: We wrap up our April "Step It Up!" series with a conversation about staying motivated.

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What do old wives' tales tell us about keeping healthy?

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appleWe've all heard at least one old wives' tale: an apple a day keeps the doctor away, don't you know. But maybe the old wives of yesteryear knew what they were talking about.

It seems that science is actually backing up some of the old wives' tales. Studies done support the notions that feeding a cold and starving a fever, that boy babies cause longer labors for their moms, and that people with joint pain know when it is going to rain, among others.

Some old wives' tales that have no basis in science -- as of yet -- are that people exhibit wacky behavior during a full moon and I am sorry to say that early birds aren't healthier, wealthier or wiser.

So eat those apples, feed that cold, don't catch a chill and eat your fish. Then you'll be as healthy as all those old wives.

132 million flu shots coming for next season

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In order to be properly prepared for the upcoming flu season, many of the flu vaccine makers will be making available a record 132 million vaccine doses ready for the 2007-2008 flu season.

That is quite a few doses indeed. U.S. government officials state that 200 million Americans should receive flu vaccinations every year, although it's unclear how that number is being arrived at.

Currently, there are four global companies that will be supplying the 132 million doses, although an Australian company may be added as a fifth company. They are: Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and MedImmune Vaccines.

Fasting: is it good for you?

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I saw a poster the other day advertising the 30-hour Famine charity event. If you haven't heard of it, you're supposed to fast for 30-hours to raise money for impoverished countries, and also to learn what it's like to go hungry like so many men, women and children in our world are forced to do everyday.

My first impression of this is that it must be unhealthy and/or completely impossible because come on, that's more than an entire day and night without food. How do you sleep or even function when you're starving? Yeah, I know people do it all the time but not well-fed North Americans like us who are plagued with an overabundance of food. But that's the point of the exercise -- to make you realize how good you have it.

Anyway, back to the health issue. I did some research and found this advice from WebMD on fasting. The question: is it healthy? The answer: Occasionally fasting for religious practices, longevity and even detoxification won't do you much harm, but there's not much evident that it does you any good either. One thing they do know is that fasting is not an effective weight-loss tool and can be quite dangerous if you're not careful.

Have you ever done a fast?

Fruity cocktails count as health food?

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I thought April Fool's was a few weeks late when I read this story, but it's true. Researchers from the U.S. and Thailand are claiming that a fruity cocktail may count as health food. Say what?

The research states that adding alcohol to fruit increases the antioxidant nutrients. While that may be the case, is increased alcohol consumption to gain enhanced antioxidants a good solution? Adding ethanol (found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits) boosted antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries according to the research.

Now, if we could get rid of that high-fructose corn syrup and fake coloring in most fruity drinks mixes, we'd be on to something right?

Brain surgery case turns tragic

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When someone travels halfway around the world to have a brain tumor removed, the entire process and situation can be drained in concern and worry. After all, removing a brain tumor is no small matter for even the most experienced neurosurgeon.

After reading the story below, it's hard to know what to think. A brain surgery that was performed for free by an Oklahoma City hospital ended up in a teenage brain surgery that is now brain dead due to post-op infections that invaded his body. Is there anyone to blame here? You make that call.

Jenny Craig's latest diet spokesperson: Valerie Bertinelli

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She graced the cover of PEOPLE magazine last week -- 80s TV star Valerie Bertinelli is on a promotional kick to let people know that she is the new Kirstie Alley, as in the new TV icon whose turned to Jenny Craig for help with her weight (and her career slump as well?) Bertinelli says she's doing the whole weight loss thing in the public eye because she's just like everyone else -- a working mum. Jenny Craig is a popular weight-loss program that uses pre-packed foods to aid in weightloss, though how that kind of diet plan pays off during the maintenance phase of the diet is unclear to me. What's also unclear is if she too will appear on Oprah in her bikini.

What do you think ... is she an inspiration to all or just money and publicity-hungry?

Considering that new E85 vehicle purchase?

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Bethany posted a few days ago that Ethanol has come out for its possible bad health effects based on recent resaerch. Oh no! What do do! All jokes aside, this is kind of a serious issue with "Green" driving habits all the rage these days.

It's pleasing to see that many auto manufacturers are now making E85-compatible vehicles that work on regular gasoline or the ethanol/gas compound known as E85. E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% standard petroleum gas that burns much cleaner and reduces dependence on foreign oil (according to its supporters).

Is E85 a bad thing in any way? As Bethany stated, a new study from Stanford seems to think so, as E85's widespread use could pose a threat to human health -- this being reached as a conclusion of said study.

So, instead of harmful emissions going away with no ill effects, the damage would transfer from the environment to human health. The conclusion states that if every vehicle in the United States was powered by fuel made primarily from ethanol instead of gasoline, there would likely be an increase in the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations.

What should we choose? A better and more smog-free environment or our capacity to breathe?

Small indulgences that will have a BIG impact on your diet

As I pointed out in this post, some small indulgences are A-ok for your diet ... in moderation. But there are some bite-sized eats out there that aren't ok if your trying to lose weight, or, really, even if you're not. eDiets has made a list of these things, which includes chicken wings, mozza Sticks, stuffed mushrooms and jalapeno poppers. I know, they're so good, but not worth it. A single wing can have 160 calories, and let's face it -- who has just one wing? I've been known to eat 20. Yikes! And mozza sticks? So wonderfully gooey and delicious, but at 350 calories for 2 (no, that's not a typo), I think I'll have to pass while I'm trying to get myself ready for bikini season. It's sad but true: not everything is ok in small portions.

I wonder -- is there anyway to make these things yourself and cut the calories?