Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Clothes washers can have direct impact on allergies

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How often do you wash your bedding material? Things like sheets and pillowcases are generally best kept washed at least once a week, and in the right temperature water as well. Eek - there is a difference in washing machine temperature, you say?

That's right -- lower water temperature when you wash won't kill many of those pesky and allergy-causing dust mites that feed on dead skin and live in everyone's bed. Simply washing sheets in low-temp water won't do the trick, and if you're an allergy sufferer, this can be wishful (but worthless) effort.

Want to really kill all those mites? Wash in at least 60-degree (Celsius) water, which may have to be watched since some materials can be damaged by tat kind of material.

Fit Links: Last-minute beach body workouts!

As fabulous as we at That's Fit think this blog is, the truth is there are hundreds of wonderful blogs on healthy living to be seen all over the blogosphere. So in this feature, Fit Links, we'll introduce you to some that have caught our eye.

Procrastinators, it's okay! It's still not too late to get in beach-body shape in time to enjoy all those fun summer activities that require you to wear a swimsuit. Below are three workouts specifically designed to give you fast toning in the places you need it most.

So, choose the workout that sounds the most enjoyable to you, get that body in shape, and enjoy summer. When you're showing off your fit new body, just don't forget to wear sunscreen!

Shape.com's bikini body bootcamp has some fresh moves and routines that mimic real-life boot camp. Give this workout a try if you're looking for something different from your usual gym routine.

Bella Online's workout has animated diagrams, which are really helpful if you're not sure you're performing the movements correctly.

Prevention.com's beach body workout even involves a move called the "beach ball squeeze." Any fitness routine that requires a beach ball is a winner in my book.

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Daily Fit Tip: Pick up the pace with poles

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Are you looking to beef up your walking routine? Try adding a pair of walking poles. Retailing for about $50-$200, the poles resemble those used for cross-country skiing, only these are adjustable and have a rubber tip for stability. Not just your average walking stick, the poles can boost the calorie-burning power of your workout by 20%, build muscle, and help you improve your walking posture and gait as well. The poles come in travel versions, and often have interchangeable tips for walking on pavement or on trails. Not sure what to look for in a pole? Check out this short checklist from eHow.

Are you sabotaging your own treadmill workout?

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The treadmill seems like an easy enough piece of equipment to use, right? You just get on and start walking or jogging, as simple as that.

Or maybe not. Many people aren't getting the most out of their treadmill workout and are actually risking injury because they aren't using it properly. The biggest mistake? Holding on. Not only does it take some of the important work away from your major muscle groups and set up bad posture situations, but it can be downright dangerous due to throwing off your natural stride and body mechanics.

So although the treadmill is an exercise equipment "basic," it's not completely foolproof either! Let go and walk the natural way. If you feel off-balance or unsteady then slow down the pace a little, or adjust the incline. And if the machine prompts you to hold on for a heart rate reading let go as soon as it gives you the result.

You Are What You Eat: Kidney beans

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kidney beansEach week, we'll be offering original recipes and unique ways to use those Super Foods that pack nutritional power. After all, you are what you eat -- make it count!

OK, I knew kidney beans were good for me. But I really didn't know what an amazingly perfect food they were until I began this post. According to World's Healthiest Foods, kidney beans are not only a good source of fiber, protein and iron, but it is chock full of B vitamins, folate, and minerals like magnesium and manganese.

But that's not all, my friends. Dr. Perricone cites kidney beans as high in antioxidants (to battle free radicals), saponins (which prevent genetic mutation) and potassium (to reduce high blood pressure and stroke).

So, how to get more kidney beans into your diet? Start by trying one of my household's favorite chili recipes. We found this one several Christmases ago, when we had more leftover turkey than we knew what to do with. One of the best things about it is the fresh red and green peppers -- they make the recipe.

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: Kidney beans

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Are you an adult picky eater?

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My name is Lauren and I am a picky eater. While it's normal for kids to turn up their noses at food, it's much less likely to find adults who still have hang-ups about certain fare. To be honest, I'm much better now than I was when I was younger. I always hated meat, cooked vegetables (raw was ok) and a variety of cuisine from other countries, but while I still don't eat any meat other than fish, I'm now ok with most other foods.

Some people out there never get over their abhorrence of certain things. There are a range of reasons why picky eaters hate the stuff they do. It could be allergy-related, they could have been turned off something if it was the last thing they ate before suffering from an unrelated stomach-bug or it could be something as simple as disliking the taste, texture or look of a certain item. For example, I can't stand the thick white thing (known as a Chalaza apparently) that attaches an egg white to the yolk and I'll meticulously pick it out whenever I make eggs.

So are there any picky eaters out there? If so, are you willing to share the food item(s) that you refuse to touch and why do you dislike it?

Some neighborhoods short on healthy options

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If you live in certain parts of New York City you may find yourself struggling even more than most to eat healthy. A recent survey shows that Harlem, for example, lags behind "swankier" neighborhoods when it comes to healthy shopping options for its residents. Fast food restaurants largely outnumber grocery stores selling fresh produce and low-fat dairy products, and 1 in 6 of the restaurants are fast food. The affect on the health of the population seems clear, as the Harlem population is up to 4x more likely to be obese or have diabetes than people living in more upscale areas with healthier shopping.

Harlem isn't the only neighborhood dealing with these challenges, and the survey did result in some recommendations that will hopefully make a difference. It makes me think of my own neighborhood, and I wonder if I'm fighting against convenience to eat better. How does your area stack up?

Improper drug use kills 200,000 Chinese per year

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Do consumers take prescription drugs for all the wrong reasons in some cases? Sure -- and according to the latest figures, about 200,000 Chinese people die each year based on improper drug use. Is this a failing of the medical community to educate customers on the proper use of drugs or something else?

The ironic twist here is that many Chinese citizens use "Traditional Chinese Medicines" (TCM) instead of western prescription drugs. these medicines are generally natural and herbal, and Chinese consumers use them carelessly because of that fact.

As with everything, any drug (including herbal remedies) should be taken in moderation and based on how it is prescribed to you. After all, humans can die from drinking too much water too fast, right?

Is your period obsolete? No-period pill slated for approval

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Our male readers likely quit reading after the headline, so fellow females, it should be just us girls in here. And I have a question to ask you: What do you make of the new "no-period" pill Lybrel?

The pill, whose name looks to be a funky phonetic spelling of liberal and is meant to make you think "liberty," is set to be approved by the FDA soon. Traditional birth control pills have women take a 7-day dose of sugar pills after three weeks on the drug, to mimic a women's cycle. Though it seems like you're having a "period," I've read that actually that 7-day break is only there to mimic your cycle and make you feel more comfortable. The period your having has no function at all. That's perhaps why drug makers have been creating drugs that cut back periods more and more. First there were drugs like Yaz that shortened periods to three days or less, then Seasonique cut them back to four times a year. Lybrel promises to eliminate them altogether (although 18% of women in trials reported breakthrough bleeding, so I'm not sure that promise will hold up.)

Continue reading Is your period obsolete? No-period pill slated for approval

Check your antioxidant know-how

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Blueberries, walnuts, sunflower seeds, kale, spinach... even coffee. What do these foods have in common? They're rich in antioxidants. Packing plenty of antioxidant-rich foods into your diet can help your body fight off free radicals (substances that can create damage leading to a number of chronic conditions).

It's important to choose a variety of healthy foods, as different types of antioxidants are thought to work in different parts of the body. Next time you're shopping in the produce section, think of the rainbow. Deeply colored fruits and vegetables from different color categories tend to be rich in different nutrients. It's not a hard and fast rule, of course -- but it's a simple guideline to help you get a variety of nutrients.

Take this quiz to test your antioxidant know-how.

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Mario Lopez

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I wasn't his biggest fan as the trying-to-be-humble-but-really-sort-of-cocky jock A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell and I was really not dialing in to support him as a hot-trotting-but-totally-cocky runner-up on last season's Dancing With the Stars. But this, I can support.

And no, I don't mean the glistening six pack and defined biceps. The stretching, people, the stretching. Whether he's prepping for a vigorous run or winding down from a workout, I fully support Mario Lopez taking measures to warm up or cool down his muscles.

And if he keeps up all this fitness, he may soon challenge fellow Kids Incorporated alum Fergie or Matthew McConaughey as celebrity most-captured by the paparazzi doing something healthier than smoking, clubbing or shopping at Fred Segal.

[via: Glam.com]

Could you be a cyberchondriac?

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When you have a new pain or lump or bump, it's pretty common these days to sit down at your computer to research your symptoms. My OB once told me that I could bring information from "Dr. Google" to him, but that in general, doctors don't like being usurped by a search engine. I think it's good to know as much about your disease or condition as you can, but you have to be smart about using reliable websites to gather information.

When you mix hypochondria with the world wide web, however, sometimes all that research can be unhealthy. A new condition, coined "cyberchondria" is popping up and it's an natural extension of hypochondria, according to health experts. Hypochondria is a condition where an apparently healthy person has an obsessive, unnatural fear of having a serious illness. When hypochondriacs go online, they can spend hours each day compulsively clicking to check out every new little symptom. Because the Internet is nearly bottomless, hypochondriacs can be sucked into a black hole of never ending health information.

Treatment for cyberchondria is medication and behavioral therapy, just like with other similar conditions. Read more about the condition and one man's experience with it here.


Why do we pay attention to rail-thin models?

After watching all the media coverage in Europe about how "skinny" models are being scrutinized for how abnormal they appear to be, I am inclined to agree. What marketing genius believes that selling clothes and shoes can be done by having them posed on what I consider anorexic women?

Apparently it's worked for quite some time, but I still don't get it. Finally, British officials and others in Europe are starting to see that dressing up unhealthy models is probably not the best way to pitch products.

It's amazing that it took until 2007 for this to come under the microscope. What are your thoughts? Do 70-pound, scantily-clad models sell you on what they are wearing?

Fitness advice from Gabby Reece

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Sometimes, when a celebrity offers health and fitness advice, I get a little cynical. After all, if you're paid to be in shape -- if it's your job, and you don't have to do it after hours or while pushing two kids in a hefty double stroller -- it just seems that you might have it a little easy. Or if you have a personal trainer and gourmet chef who'll cook you light, satisfying, gourmet meals...well...I just can't relate.

But then comes along Gabrielle Reece. Her fitness advice for women is so commonsense and so down to earth, I just can't help but have a little respect for her. I especially love this quote:

"If (women) start moving and cut certain foods out, they will be different. Period."

Reece advocates setting reasonable fitness goals, finding a workout that you love, and choosing more healthy foods, but isn't afraid of a cheeseburger every now and then. Most of all, she thinks that women should stop looking at eating right and exercising as "torture" and instead suggests making small changes that can have a big impact on overall health. Now, that's advice I can get behind.

Get your broccoli...in a cake?

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There aren't many vegetables that I really don't like, and even most of those can be saved by making them into bread or cake -- like zucchini for example. But whether you like green vegetables or not we all know it's important to get as many as we can into our diets and this is one way you may not have thought of before: making cake with broccoli!

This beautifully sliced broccoli cake looks really good to me, and it sounds like it would be a great way to get kids and other veggie-haters to get some greens in their diet. I wonder if it's really sweet, or more like a bread? Either way, what a great presentation!

Via Slashfood

Become a fan of aloe vera

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Are you a fan of aloe vera? Many people I know use this amazing plant as food, as a beverage and of course on that skin for perfect suppleness. How about you?

With summer approaching, some folks will inevitably have sunburns from overexposure to the elements. The close you are to the equator, the hotter is generally is and the need for protection can be greatest. But, after seeing what chemicals are in standard sunscreens, I wanted a natural alternative.

While I found those natural products to work wonders, the aloe vera plant is still my number one choice for overall skin conditioning. If you've never tried the raw and real thing, try it this summer -- you'll be in for a treat.

The cure for what ails you: Exercise

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These days, I'm a bit of an exercise enthusiast. I'm not hardcore or anything but I try to get to the gym a few times each week and I walk everywhere. On Sunday mornings when my friends are filling themselves at the brunch buffet, chances are I'm at the gym, feeling the burn instead of the heartburn. Occasionally, I try to lure them over to the healthy side of things but all they think when they think of 'gym' is smelly, sweaty, spandex and hard work. They don't know that exercise feels really good, is addictive and is a wonder drug, according to this.

Not only is exercise good for your body, it's good for your soul. It ups your mood, decreases stress and helps you build self-confidence. I used to think I was never happier than surrounded by bottles of wine and greasy appetizers and intoxicated friends, but I can honestly say that I never feel more alive than when I come off of a good workout and I have a sunny day ahead of me.

What about you?

Bored at work? Here are some tips to keep your brain in gear

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Whether you love your job or you, er, don't love it so much, there are almost always times when you're going to be a bit bored at work. Maybe you're just not into the project you're working on or perhaps you can't keep your mind on things because it's beautiful outside or you've got a holiday coming up that you'd rather be planning. Whatever the reason, it is vital to find ways to keep yourself interested and busy, because being bored for 8 hours a day can turn your mind to mush.

I've just returned to a job after a few months on a holiday-hiatus and believe me, it was tough to come back after weeks and weeks of excitement while traveling. The first thing I did when I got back was ask for a lot more things to do. I didn't want my brain to numb due to repetitive tasks. Being able to mix-up my daily responsibilities has been a big help.

Asking for more to do, is one of 10 helpful tips on staying interested at work from the folks at AskMen.com (don't worry ladies, the tips apply to you too). The suggestions range from volunteering to work on tasks that aren't related to your job to furthering your training. Not only can the tips help keep you from getting bored, they can also help with gaining extra skills and knowledge that may eventually help further your career. So the next time you find yourself under-stimulated, rather than spend your afternoon wasting time on Facebook, try out some of ideas on the list.

Hyperactivity and poor grades the result of genetics?

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Is your child hyperactive? Millions of kids are, an the debate continues to rage on the role of genetics, environment and lifestyle as the cause (or a combination of all three).

Genetic causes are the reason behind school difficulties and hyperactivity, according to a new report. While this is not surprising, I doubt that genetics is the only reason for these things. What do you think?

I generally agree that genetics plays an important factor in why some kids find it hard to focus in school (not for lack of effort) and are labeled "hyperactive" -- but is that the end of the story?

The best low-fat ice creams

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American eat an average of 23 pounds of ice cream every year, can you believe it? I guess I can see how that would happen, but that's a lot of ice cream! No wonder the "light" varieties make up 40% of the ice cream industry! So if you eat ice cream regularly (which it sounds like most of us do) then you've probably noticed that some "low fat" ice cream brands taste better than others, and it may be about more than just brand name and quality.

I don't understand why all the companies don't use it (maybe it's expensive?), but there is a method for making ice cream called "low temperature extrusion" that has been proven to make low-fat ice cream taste creamier by more evenly distributing the little milk-fat globules. If you're looking for low-fat ice cream made in this way they are usually labeled as cold churned, slow churned, or double churned.

Of course it's still important to exercise some self control, because low-fat or not, the calories still add up. And even among the "light" ice cream varieties the recipes and sugar content can vary wildly -- read labels!