Friday, 4 May 2007

Keep in the shade -- for the most part

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While "getting some sun" on a regular basis is very good for you (produces vitamin D inside the body), too much exposure to the sun's rays has been linked to cancer. Specifically, skin cancer (melanoma). Just how much is enough, then, when it comes to sun exposure?

I'm no fan of sunscreens due to all the chemicals used (and the atrocious smell). The solution is to limit your exposure, right? A new review of research shows that limiting sun exposure is better for the prevention of skin cancer than using sunscreen alone.

The next time you think about spending an entire day under those rays, you may want to re-think and only spend a partial day (or a few hours) outside underneath our golden friend.

[correction noted]

Feeling lost in your late 20s? Learn from those who've been there.

Growing up I always thought that by the time a girl was 30 she'd pretty much have her life figured out. Now, with a few more years and a bit of knowledge behind me, the only thing I know is that I don't know a thing! It seems like everyone else around me is getting married, having children, buying a home, accelerating their careers and doing all the other things that "grown-up" women do while I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow-up.

It can be pretty intimidating deciding what is best for you rather than just going with the grain and doing what everyone else is doing. How does a 20-something female figure out what is best for her personally and what will make her happy without the wisdom of an entire life behind her?

I find that when I'm at a major crossroads and trying to decide what i want or need out of life, the best advice always comes from those who have been there before. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other older and wiser females have benefited from years of successes and some failures. So next time you're freaking out about your next big step - whether to use the money you've saved on a down payment on a condo or to take off on the trip of a lifetime, for example - go ask a girl with a little bit of experience and perspective.

Diabetes may affect male fertility

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If you're a male and have type 1 diabetes, you may have an above-average amount of DNA damage in your sperm. As a result, your fertility may be dampened quite a bit.

A new study concluded that after a small amount of research that will most likely lead to a much broader range of research in order to fully investigate this possible correlation.

While lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes are well-suggested for anyone, this is yet another possible reason to ensure your fertility causes problems when the thoughts of becoming a parent start raging through that head.

Fit Factor: Hate lifting weights? Some alternatives

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I'm a bit of cardio-holic. When I go to the gym, my time is usually spent on the elliptical trainer, treadmill or bike. That other half of the gym, the one with the weight training area, goes neglected. It's not that I'm afraid of weights, don't know how to use them or don't know their benefits -- it's that they're, well, boring. This is something I thought I was largely alone in until I read a post by regular reader Crabby McSlacker. She dislikes lifting weights too. Do you too? For this week's feature I'm going to suggest some things that will give you the benefits of weights but without the drawbacks.

Continue reading Fit Factor: Hate lifting weights? Some alternatives

Daily Fit Tip: Don't skip the soup

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Next time you're out to eat don't automatically dismiss the waitress when she goes to tell you the "soup of the day" -- having a cup of soup before your meal may actually help you eat less overall, instead of more. A study coming out of Penn State looked at low-calorie soup containing the following ingredients: chicken broth, broccoli, potato, cauliflower, carrots and butter and and found that regardless of how the soup was prepared (smooth, chunky, etc) the individuals who ate soup as a first course cut their over-all meal intake by 20%, compared to those who did not have soup.

I often avoid ordering soup before my meal, thinking it's just going to be extra calories thrown on top of the grand total. Maybe I need to rethink that theory!

Recipe Rehab: Potato Salad

Our weekly feature, Recipe Rehab, takes a recipe -- sometimes basic, sometimes decadent and sometimes just plain unhealthy -- and turns it into a scrumptious and healthy dish, pumped up with nutrition. Sometimes all it takes is a few alterations to prepare a dish that would make even your nutritionist proud.

Let's face it - potatoes aren't all bad for you. They have plenty of essential nutrients, and even contain compounds that may elevate your metabolism. But the stuff we put on them isn't all that good. This lightened version of potato salad is perfect for summer cook-outs and won't break your diet.

Guilt-Free Potato Salad
1 1/2 pounds red skinned potatoes potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ounce bacon -- cooked, fat drained and crumbled
3 egg whites, boiled and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 dill pickles, chopped
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

In large saucepan, place potatoes in enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients while potatoes are still warm and gently mix together. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Rehab Rundown

  • Bacon was reduced from 2 to 1 ounce
  • Egg whites were used in place of whole eggs
  • Fat-free yogurt was substituted for sour cream, still giving a tangy flavor without the fat
  • Low-fat mayonnaise was substituted for mayonnaise and the amount was reduced by half

Rehab Reveal

Based on 1/6 recipe




434 (72% from fat)

201 (30% from fat)




Saturated Fat















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Working in the Workouts: Exercise sneak attack

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

The longer I do this renewed fitness thing, the more I realize that there really are no excuses for doing absolutely nothing. Man, was I lame! Now that I have crossed back over to the other side after an exercise hiatus, I am dumbfounded as to how I could have let life get in the way so much that I completely stopped everything.

Really? You think you are so busy that you don't have time for any exercise at all? I say . . . impossible! I really haven't made exercise a top priority; I merely added it to the long list and I make sure that I am sticking with the pieces I have made routine and that I think about how to fit in more every day. So in that spirit . . .

Continue reading Working in the Workouts: Exercise sneak attack

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Diagnosed with heart disease? 10 questions to ask

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When it comes time to visit your doctor, you may think you have a nice mental list of questions you want to ask. But often, in the hustle and bustle of a busy doctor's office, even our best laid plans get set aside. Doctors are busy, they may have questions of their own, and it's easy to forget what your concerns are. When you're dealing with a new diagnosis, the stress can be magnified. You may have a thousand questions about your condition, but your doctor only has time to answer so many, and you want to be sure those questions with the highest priority get answered.

WebMD has come out with a list of 10 questions to ask your doctor about heart disease. If you've recently been diagnosed with heart disease, print out this list and take it to your doctor's visit. I think it's always a great idea to take a long a friend or family member as well, to help you remember and understand what the doctor is telling you. Are there any questions that should be added to this list? What do you think?

Having a hobby = Less stress and more fun!

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People with hobbies are shown to be happier and less stressed than those without, but unfortunately the definition of a hobby is "something you do in your free time." Free time? What free time? It's easy when you're so busy and pulled in so many different directions to lose sight of the things that you love to do for fun, and when you do it can take a real toll on your stress levels and your health. So follow these three steps to less stress and more happiness!
  • Hobbies are a great way to follow your dreams in a small and manageable way. Sign up for a class or join a club that relates to something you've always wanted to try.
  • Search out organizations that relate to your newfound (or rekindled) hobby and see what they have to offer.
  • Recruit a buddy to go along for the ride. Friendships also suffer in today's bustling world, and there's no reason you can't multi-task and solidify friendships while working on a fun project.

Annual shot prevents osteoporosis fractures for a year

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When it comes to treating osteoporosis, the gold standard today is a daily oral bisphosphonate pill. But the pills aren't easy to take. Besides the issue of daily compliance, patients also have to be fasting to take the pill, drink a full glass of water, sit up straight, and worry about the risk of acid reflux. That's a lot to think about in a daily pill, especially if you're elderly and mobility is an issue.

So those in the field of osteoporosis treatment are excited by a recent hopeful study. The study found that a yearly IV injection of the drug could prevent bone fractures as well, and the dose lasts an entire year. The 15-minute IV could be given at an annual check up and eliminate the need for a daily dose.

The method has not been approved by the FDA and even when and if it is, it won't be for everyone. But for those suffering from osteoporosis and struggling with the daily pill, it may eventually be an alternative that can improve the quality of life for patients.

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Kate Bosworth catches air

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KatebosworthKate Bosworth and British model boyfriend James Rousseau bounce it out on an aqua trampoline in Hawaii. Now, see, you can get some fun and frolicking activity in while you are on vacay (and no, lifting that pina colada doesn't count).

Kate Bosworth's career spans from The Horse Whisperer to Superman Returns. The actress has come under some fire for being drastically thinner than her Blue Crush days, where she powered it out on the waves, playing a hardcore surfer girl.

The Future of Food

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If you're concerned about how food is grown and processed in the age of trying to feed nearly 300 million people every day, the documentary titled The Future of Food may be on your watch list soon.

The film details the changes from standard agriculture practices from 50 years ago to the factory-run processed industry of today, where yields are cared about more than quality, and where volume is the top priority over safety.

While I didn't agree with everything in the documentary, I feel it is a very worthwhile 90 minutes to anyone who is concerned with the rapid rate of obesity in the U.S. and the breakout of diseases that are being possibly caused by poor nutrition.

Melamine from tainted pet food won't hurt humans

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As if the recent pet food recalls one after another threatening the health of our pets wasn't stressful enough, those reports were quickly followed by news that the responsible contaminating ingredients had gotten into the human food supply through hogs and chickens. But finally some good news: although the chemical melamine has been found in the feed of some animals, none has been found in the meat supply intended for humans. And in addition, even if small amounts of melamine were consumed experts don't believe it would pose any real health threat to humans.

So, a tentative sigh of relief. For at least one angle of this horrible mess anyway.

Shrink your brain... by drinking heavy!

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So, you want to kill a few brain cells at the bar tonight? Before you answer, think about this: drinking lots of alcohol over long periods of time shrinks your brain! It sounds like a bad science fiction movie, but this bit of information comes from studying 1,800 people who were classified as non-drinkers, former drinkers, low, moderate and high drinkers.

Women and men react differently to booze, so it should come as no surprise to find out that our brains shrink differently too. For every jump in classification, there was a 0.29 percent shrinkage in women and 0.2 percent in men. How does this happen? Well, compare those brain-shrinking percentages to the natural reduction in brain size we all exhibit as we age, which is 0.19 percent per year.

It turns out that the more we drink alcohol, the more we accelerate this natural shrinking of the brain. But it's worth noting these shrinking trends aren't directly comparable to brain performance... yet.

Spring clean for a healthier pantry

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Do you know what's lurking in your pantry? On a recent foray into the back of mine, I found a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter -- yes, one of the salmonella-contaminated jars from the recall a few months ago. I had no idea it was there, since we usually buy natural peanut butter, but there it was. If you haven't cleaned your cupboards in a while, this spring is a great time to check expiration dates, organize, and even stock up your cupboard with healthier foods.

Ready to get started? Here are some tips to help you clean out your fridge, freezer, and pantry and to start fresh with a more organized system. Toss out everything that's past it's shelf life (and consider buying smaller packages to prevent waste, if you find yourself throwing out a lot) and don't forget to check the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door; at our house, that's where condiments go to die.

Once you've done that much, there's one more step you can take to improve your health. Take a good hard look at your pantry and gather up your junk food. If you're trying to lose weight or just want to improve your health, anything that's high in calories and low in nutrition really doesn't belong there. Take a bold step and donate the food, then replace it with high quality, nutritious alternatives. Check out this list from Ediets to get you started!

Ginseng and ginkgo show no problems with drug interaction

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The natural herbal supplements known as ginseng and ginkgo biloba won't interfere with prescription and over-the-counter drugs insofar as absorption, according to a new information.

Herbs like St. John's Wort have been known to interfere with prescription drugs, but that does into carry over into all herbs like some folks or doctors may believe.

The amount taken, the time and many other factors have to be considered when mixing prescription drugs with natural herbs -- and this mix of variables is called "pharmacokinetics." Are you on certain drugs but still continue taking ginkgo biloba and ginseng? Rest assured that most likely, you're in the clear in terms of getting benefits from the absorption of those prescriptions.

Sumseeds: Energy-infused sunflower seeds

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For those of us who need regular caffeine fixes throughout the day (some days more than others!) there is yet another option besides coffee, Redbull, and Mt Dew. Dakota Valley Products, based out of Sioux Falls SD, has begun to successfully market energy-infused sunflower seeds.

The creators were inspired by the fact that many people munch on the seeds as a snack, and are also looking for a healthier alternative to energizing but sugary sodas and coffees. So the idea to take sunflower seeds to the next level by adding caffeine, lysine, taurine, ginseng was born. For now SumSeeds are only being sold locally in the Sioux Falls area, but it won't be long before they're available nationwide and even overseas.

I'm as hooked on coffee and caffeine as the next person, but after reading a few months ago about caffeinated donuts, and now caffeinated sunflower seeds, I think it's all getting a little ridiculous -- seriously!

What happens when you hit a weight loss plateau?

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If you've decided recently to lose weight, you probably embarked on some kind of exercise routine and slowly saw the pounds come off. That was exciting, wasn't it? It usually is.

What happens when that weight loss stops even though you keep exercising? It's called a "plateau" and every person who has tried to lose weight has probably seen it. What if there are more pounds to safely lose?

Adjusting one's diet is key here. Changing your diet to one of healthy and nutritious foods and cutting out things like refined carbs and sugars is a good start. It's hard, but it just may lead to a lifetime of feeling better along with keeping that weight at bay.

Teens visit Puff City to reduce asthma symptoms

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Spring has sprung and with it so have allergy and asthma symptoms in those who suffer. When it comes to treating asthma, compliance is a top priority. Controller medications like inhaled corticosteroids don't stop an attack, but instead work to prevent an attack from happening. To do that, they must be taken every day. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to convince kids and teens that taking their daily medication is important.

A new web-based program called Puff City was recently used by over 300 high school students in Detroit. Researchers found that the program reduced incidences of night symptoms, days off school, and reduced activity when compared to other generic online asthma programs. It's the first web-based program that targets inner-city youth to be evaluated in a community setting, and the results suggest it may be a good tool to teach youths to take care of their asthma.

Want to take a peek at Puff City? Check out a demo here, and see what you think!

World walking 10% faster

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Everyone talks about how "life moves faster these days," and, according to a recent study, it appears that they're right.

Research teams went to 32 different countries and timed men and women as they walked down the street. They then compared this information with results from a similar study in the 1990s, and found that the average person has picked up the pace -- with most of us walking 10% faster.

The quickest walkers are in Singapore, where the average time it took to walk 60 ft was 10.55 seconds. Copenhagen and Madrid followed, with the people of New York (the only U.S. city on the list), ranked 8th amongst the world's fastest-moving populations.

On the one hand, moving too fast can lead to stress, anxiety, etc -- but on the other, a brisk walk is a great way to keep in shape!

[via Spluch]