Sunday, 27 May 2007

Frugivores: mad about fruit

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Vegetarianism happens on a continuum. At one end, you have those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but supplement with fish. In the middle, you have the lacto-ova vegetarian who prefers plant-based foods but still drinks milk or enjoys eggs and dairy products. Then there are vegans, who not only won't eat meat, but also shun any product that contains or is made using any sort of animal based product. And then, there are those who find their own niche on the continuum, like frugivores.

Frugivores eat only fruit, including a few nuts, tomatoes, and avocados, as well as sunflower seeds. Their reasons stem from ecological (fruit falls from a tree, and the plant need not be destroyed to provide its meal) to health-related, and frugivores claim they feel lighter and full of energy than they ever did when they were eating the typical omnivore diet. Critics worry they'll become sugar addicts, and the diet is obviously missing a few things (complex carbs, for one), but the frugivores quoted in the article say they're healthier than they've been in years.

Personally, balance is an important part of my diet, so going fruit-only would never work for me. What about you?


Cocoa husks could be put to good use

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That lovely chocolate that many of us are fond of can leave behind cocoa husks, which are currently just waste products from the harvesting of cocoa. How about putting those husks to good use as dietary fiber?

Researchers say that cocoa husks could be used for those who like to eat low-calorie meals, as the husks contain both soluble and insoluble fiber -- as well as being high in antioxidants.

As manufacturers continue to find ways to harvest the byproducts of harvesting certain foods (to create even more foods), this one sounds like it's pretty feasible, yes?

Keira Knightley wins lawsuit over being too thin

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Keira Knightley has won her lawsuit against the British newspaper "The Daily Mail" for running a picture of the actress alongside the story headline "If Pictures Like This One of Keira Carried a Health Warning, My Darling Daughter Might Have Lived." Knightley's lawyers say the reason she chose to pursue this was because the article made it seem that she was somehow personally responsible for the death of the 19 yr old girl featured, who had lost a battle with anorexia. Knightley contends that she does not have an eating disorder, and that her weight as an adult has never fluctuated by more than a few pounds.

The court awarded Knightley £3,000 ($5,965) and she plans to donate it along with £3,000 of her own to BEAT, a charity that helps people with eating and mental disorders.

Lots of snacking OK for elderly

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Mindless eating and random snacking all throughout the day may be a big no-no for most of us, but for the elderly it's actually a good thing. Studies show that because seniors are at an increased risk for weight loss, poor nutrition, and decreased appetite snacking can actually help fill a gap and provide necessary protein and nutrients in their diets. Snackers ate an average of 250 calories more per day than non-snackers, and although that's a bad thing for the younger populations, some older adults need all the calories they can get.

Of course it's still important to make healthy choices and avoid things like cookies and chips, but snack away!

Contact lens solution recalled due to mysterious eye infections

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Contact lens wearers, heads up: the CDC has issued a warning about AMO Complete Moisture Plus Multi-Purpose Solution, which is used for cleaning and storing soft contact lenses. Apparently the solution has been linked with the painful and potentially blinding eye infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis.The makers of the lens cleaner, Advanced Medical Optics Inc., has issued a voluntary recall and is recommending that people throw the product away along with the storage case and their current contact lenses (lets hope they're disposable and you haven't just busted out a new 30 day pair!).

It's not immediately clear right now how and why this product is connected to the spike in eye infection cases, but the FDA will be looking into it.

Sickness. Can it do a body good?

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My husband just told me about his grandfather "Dukie" who was a smoker. Dukie started smoking in his teens and had done so consistently until he got sick with bronchitis at some point in his forties. Because of his temporary illness he couldn't smoke, but when he got well he progressed because of a sharp attitude.

Apparently, Dukie had an epiphany that if he could go without smoking completely for that week or so....he could continue to go without smoking forever. Why make the effort to reintroduce a bad habit? From that point on...he never smoked again.

Dukie hit the RESET button on his habits. What a great way to take lemons and make lemonade. I think we all end up with particular aversions when we come down with something. If you end up in the same boat as Dukie and have gone without your nightly ice cream addiction, smoking habits, or alcohol consumption.....take that strange little gift and go with it.

Continue reading Sickness. Can it do a body good?

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Treat your BOSU like a step

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If you own a BOSU or have been eying one up at the gym wondering what the heck to do with it, start simple. Pretend it's a step. You know....like the step, we've been using in group exercise classes for decades. Everything you can do on the step, you can do on the BOSU. The BOSU just adds the extra little element of instability, which in the long run will make you more stable.

Go slow at first, because standing on the dome of a BOSU is significantly different. Take a little time just standing on top to get comfortable, and then slowly add on motions you remember from that step class. Besides reaping the benefits of a great lower body workout the step was famous for.....you'll engage your hips, abs, and back. Core training. Right?

Seven ideas for step training on the BOSU.

  • March on and off.
  • Step up lift one knee, step down.
  • Jog up, jog down.

Continue reading Treat your BOSU like a step

The MedSignals pill box won't let you forget

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Technology is seeping into every part of our lives, bit by bit. And now even pill boxes are getting fancy! No more simple snap-top boxes with a separate section for every day of the week, no...now they come with audible alerts and tracking systems too.

The MedSignals digital pill box not only holds your pills separately by day and dosage, but it audibly alerts you when you're due to take them. It also remembers what time you opened the lid (in case you're either early or late) and tracks the data on a server (which it connects to via the phone line), which then allows you to see at a glance if doses were missed, late, or otherwise.

Sounds great! The downside? At $169 it's not exactly cheap.

Losing your hair? Stress could be to blame

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Stress is such a terrible thing not only because it sneaks up on us and is sometimes hard to pinpoint (and get rid of), but also because it affects every area of our health in one way or another -- none of it good.

Hair loss is a common side-effect of stress, but it isn't always obvious right away. Thinning hair usually happens as a result of long term chronic stresses caused by work, relationships, finances, etc., and is most commonly noticed in the shower or overnight when hair is found on the pillow. And with long-term stressors in your life not only will your hair potentially get thinner, but it will likely appear dull and lifeless also.

Happily, though, it's generally not a permanent situation and as soon as changes are made and stress is relieved your hair will get healthier, shinier, and thicker once again. Your body will always let you know when there's a problem, so make sure you're listening!

Kids with cancer see more medical errors

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There are perhaps not too many things in life more heartbreaking that seeing children suffer through the effects of cancer. In many cases -- and this is hard to believe -- these kids are given incorrect chemotherapy doses in addition to being treated at the wrong times, according to U.S. researchers.

In the practice of medicine, the lack of standards is often to blame for this. It continues to baffle me that there is not a centralized way to create, store and retrieve medical records regardless of physician (many still use paper records and files), so in all honesty, I guess a lack of standards as a cause here is not that surprising.

But, when kids are involved, one would think the care needed to ensure smooth patient handling would be a top priority. Aren't there checklists and specific operating procedures for these kinds of things? Sure there are, and in many cases, the competence of doctors or drug administration officials is not in question at all. Sometimes, though, hard questions need to be asked -- and especially when the lives of children are at stake.

For more information on battling cancer, please visit The Cancer Blog.

The truth about smoothies

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Smoothies are the health food trend of the last few years. People are guzzling this refreshing concoction like there's no tomorrow, and as a result, smoothie places are popping up all over the place and established eateries are adding them to their menu to draw in the 'healthy' crowd. But wait a second ... are you wondering why I just put healthy in quotation marks? Well, I hate to break it to you but smoothies aren't that healthy for you. Don't get me wrong -- they can be, but most of the versions you find in the food court of the mall are lacking in fresh fruits and healthy stuff and making up for it in sugar.

Typically smoothies are somewhat low in fat, but that doesn't mean they're low in Calories. You're looking at around 350 to 500 calories for the most popular varieties, with an amount of sugar that rivals eating a slice of chocolate cake. And most people don't have smoothies for their meal -- it's just something they get to combat the mid-afternoon stomach rumbling, in between meals and errands.

So if you love smoothies (and who can blame you?), avoid buying them and instead make them at home from your favourite fresh fruits, some non-fat plain yogurt, a touch of vanilla, some protein powder and perhaps some honey or splenda to sweeten things up. That's what I do, at least, and it's pretty darn tasty. Do you have a healthy smoothie recipe to share?

Limitless, guilt-free snacks!

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If you find yourself constantly hungry and struggling not to snack, you might be suffering needlessly. Believe it or not there are some foods you really can have as much of as you want of -- "free" foods, so to speak. Here's a quick list of calorie-free (or guilt-free at least) foods to curb your cravings and hunger pangs:
  • Hot tea (with Splenda if you like it sweet). The volume and warmth will satisfy, plus you'll get the awesome benefits of the antioxidants and other properties tea has become so famous for.
  • Water. Same principles as the tea in that the volume will help you feel fuller, plus it can suppress the appetite and help your body metabolize fat. Try drinking a big glass of water before you snack -- you'll eat less.
  • Egg whites. As long as you make them without loads of butter or other additions they're low in calories, high in protein, and have no fat/no cholesterol.
  • Crunchy veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts. Again, as long as you pass on the fattening toppings and ranch dressing you can't really overdo it or eat too many!
  • Citrus fruits and berries. Very low in calories and full of necessary nutrients and vitamins.
  • Sugar-free Jell-O. Easy to make, sweet, and very low-cal!

Ride safely with your kids this summer

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Whether you're parenting babies and toddlers or tweens and teens, biking is an excellent family activity. Cycling together in the great outdoors not only builds family fitness, but creates lifelong memories as well. Bike riding is appropriate for nearly any age rider, but to make it a safe activity you have to follow a few guidelines. Though 97% of parents participating in a recent poll about bike helmets agreed that helmets are important, less than a third of kids wear their helmets regularly.

Here's an article that has just about everything you need to know to get your child safely up on two wheels. Whether he's just starting out on training wheels, she's ready for a bike of her own, or you just need a review of the rules of the road, it's all there. Happy riding!

You have to work harder if you weigh more

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This news is a bit of a bummer: new research shows that overweight people get less benefit from strength training than thinner leaner people do. They have to work harder for the same results.

On the bright side, the differences between groups in the study were small, and experts aren't even sure they even apply to absolutely everybody -- they could have been due to genetic differences, or other things. Also, just because weight loss and muscle mass aren't improving that doesn't mean the body isn't benefiting from the exercise. Bottom line? Don't be discouraged, and don't give up!