Sunday, 10 June 2007

No more ties: Give a healthy father's day gift

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Father's Day is one week away... do you know what you're getting for dad yet? My dad is particularly hard to buy for. He actually gets upset if you spend too much money. (Apparently, he's convinced all of his children are headed for the poor house and one little gift for him is going to be the thing that finally breaks the bank.) Despite his official hard-to-buy-for status, I've noticed my dad tends to prefer useful items, especially things that could be described as a "gadget." If you're as stumped as I am about what to buy for your dad, why not opt for a gift that supports health and wellness? There are plenty of options that suit any budget:
  • Low cost: Gift certificate for a healthy restaurant, pedometer, food basket (fruits, nuts, etc.), grill utensils, golf balls, garden tools.
  • Mid-range: Walking shoes, tickets for a sporting event, tennis racket, a summer pass to local parks, massage gift certificate, session with a personal trainer.
  • Pricey: Exercise equipment, gym membership, golf clubs, bike, weekend getaway (at a location with plenty of activity choices).
Perhaps the best health-related gift you could give your dad is a day together -- go hiking at a nearby park, visit a beach, or play a round of golf together. For more ideas, check out this top ten slideshow of father's day gifts.

Are you a good role model for your kids?

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If living better for your own health isn't enough motivation, what about living better for your children's health? Your kids watch and learn from everything you do, so are you showing and teaching them the right eating and health choices? Things you may not even think about, like reaching for the salt shaker all the time or piling your plate high with meat and potatoes (while leaving out the vegetables and grains) soak into your children's sensitive personalities and help to form the habits and lifestyle perspectives they will carry with them through life. Are your kids soaking up good stuff or bad?

And remember that making an effort to be a good role model for your kids and leading by example won't just help them, it will help you too!

Can a healthy diet include rats and frogs? Gross!

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When I think healthy eating, I think of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources. But when this guy thinks of healthy eating, he reaches for the frogs ... and rats. Ummm ....... gross! Apparently, he used to suffer from terrible stomach aches, which he says have disapeared with his new diet. I can relate (sort of) because as someone with constant stomach woes, I tend to eat some rather nasty concoctions suggested by various medical professionals to help alleviate the problems. But you know,a chalky smoothie is one this -- a wriggling frog is quite another. Sorry, not buying it.

What do you think? Would you eat frogs and rats for your health?

The Global Warming diet: Healthy for you AND the environment

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A diet that shrinks your clothing size and your impact on the environment? Sounds too good to be true but a new book by American chef Laura Stec and environmental expert Eugene Cordero called the Global Warming Diet attempts to do just that, and I think it's a great idea -- obesity and climate change are two of the most important issues out there these days and this seems to be a sort of 'kill two birds with one stone' kind of endeavor. Let's face it -- we could all use with a wake-up call that encourages to work on both our health and our environment.

However, I haven't actually read the book. Have you? If so, what do you think?

Babies like to "kangaroo" with dads too

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Swedish researchers recently discovered that, when babies were separated from their mothers for a short time following a c-section, fathers made an excellent stand in. Twenty-nine babies born by c-section were observed. Half of the babies laid in their hospital bassinets and fathers were allowed to sing and touch their babies, but not hold them. The other fathers in the study held their newborns skin-to-skin on their chests. The babies that were being held cried less, were more calm, and became drowsy in a significantly shorter time.

Skin-to-skin touch between mothers and babies has been encouraged for some time now, especially with preemies. It stands to reason that skin-to-skin contact with any loving caregiver would benefit a baby more than being left to lie in their bassinet. The important point that I see coming out of this study is that fathers need not take a backseat in the care of their newborn. Between constant breastfeeding, being afraid of handling the baby, or cultural or family influences, sometimes it's difficult for dads to step into their new role. This study shows that fathers are significant caregivers too, something many of us already knew.

Powerplate machine helps MS patients build muscle tone

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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disease of the central nervous system. One of the most prevalent symptoms of MS is difficulty with balance and walking. It's important for MS patients to exercise regularly in order to maintain muscle tone and improve balance. Stretching and swimming are common exercise choices for patients with advanced MS. The Powerplate exercise machine is a good therapeutic addition to their exercise routine.

The Powerplate machine vibrates the body to help build muscle tone. In addition, the machine helps with circulation and pain relief. According to the manufacturer's website, the Powerplate machine also offers benefits to patients with Parkinson's, osteoporosis, and arthritis as it allows them the opportunity to build and tone muscle while working within their physical limitations.

The 'Apple Jacket' makes toting snacks handy and stylish

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Anything that can make life easier, healthier, and less stressful is definitely worth having as far as I'm concerned. And this 'Apple Jacket' by Jacqueline Dufresne will not only make your life a little brighter by being so darn cute (it's even got a little knitted leaf sticking off the side!) but it will also make it handier to bring a healthy snack along with you in your purse or bag. It offers just enough protection to keep an apple from getting bruised up (or impaled) by your car keys, or an orange from getting everything all sticky with its oily skin.


Via CribCandy

Pardon my French, but your plate is too big

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Americans. So unrefined, so unsophisticated, so fat. We have this thing called -- how do you say? -- over indulgence? You know, from McDonald's to homemade dinners -- healthy or not, we just love to super-size. But not the French. Their favorite foods include cheese, pastries, wine, and other fattening fare but, despite that, only 7 percent of French adults are obese -- one-third the obesity rate here in the United States.

How did the French get so damn lucky? It's not enough that they have the sexiest accents or live in the most romantic cities. No, they also get to enjoy some of the richest (and unprocessed) cuisine on earth and then they wash it down with champagne.

According to a new American-French study, researchers have discovered the simple reason that our French friends are so thin. They eat smaller portions!

Continue reading Pardon my French, but your plate is too big

IBM's disease prediction software donated to health officials

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Computer software has come a long way in the last 20 years. Through the Internet, vast millions of PCs can be "tied" together to form a large distributed computer network that can crunch on problems like possible asteroid collisions, disease prediction and weather modeling (to name a few).

IBM's contribution took a standing ovation this week, as the computer services giant released software that can predict the spread of infectious diseases among many separate countries.

In terms of epidemic outbreaks, this kind of software would allow global disease planners to curtail global health problems more quickly and efficiently, possibly saving millions of lives. The better news here is that IBM donated the software to scientists and public health officials.

A guide to killing cravings

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Die cravings die! There are very few issues in life I feel that strongly about (I'm really not a violent person), but cravings are definitely one of them. If it weren't for cravings I don't think I would have ever gained this weight I'm trying to get rid of in the first place!

eDiets has come up with what they're calling The Ultimate Guide for Killing Cravings, and it includes steps like identifying your triggers, understanding you'll have setbacks, preparing a game plan for how you'll cope when the cravings hit, and realizing that you do have control over your own behavior.

And I'm thinking letting out a war cry every so often might not hurt either.

Steven Tyler looks emaciated on purpose

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Ever notice how gaunt Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler always looks? Especially in those skinny, shiny pants he's been wearing since the late 70s? I always thought it was the sex, drugs and rock and roll--you know, the rock star lifestyle. But apparently he works--works hard actually--to keep that herion addict physique. He doesn't want to look like other older musicians who've put on weight, so he really watches what he eats and does 250 crunches a day. Seriously. That's dedication. All to maintain his 145-pound weight, which is pretty skinny for a man (say it with me -- dude looks like a laaaaaady)

I agree that being healthy and watching what you eat is a great idea but getting a new pair of pants isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just a sign that you're moving with the times. What do you think?

Teen dies from using too much muscle cream

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17 year old Arielle Newman died in April from what is now being described as an over-dose of anti-inflammatory muscle cream. As a cross country track runner for Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, NY, her body absorbed high levels of the active ingredient commonly found in anti-inflammatory sports products such as Bengay and Icy Hot: methyl salicylate. Ms. Newman was reportedly using the cream frequently along with up to two other products containing the ingredient.

Methyl salicylate poisoning is extremely rare and doctors aren't sure if it was due to overuse or simply that her body absorbed an abnormal amount of the chemical. The makers of Bengay, Johnson & Johnson, have expressed their condolences to the family and are reminding consumers about "the importance of reading the label on this and all over-the-counter medicines to ensure safe and proper use."

An explanation for deja vu

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Ever have deja vu? That eery feeling of having seen, heard or felt something before is common among people all over the world. Treatments for memory-related problems are nder the microscope of U.S. scientists, who are studying the deja vu phenomenon as a possible help to cetain memory problems.

A "mental map" of places and experiences are stored in the brain's hippocampus area, and it's that areas that researchers are interested in. When two experiences are too much alike, the map that separates them overlaps and the deja vu effect is noticed as memory lines blue.

This "malfunction" in the brain's ability to sort through new information could be possibly helped in the future by a form of gene therapy, which would help the brain separate out like experiences even if they were close in nature.

Not ALL vegetables taste terrible!

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I actually like vegetables (I know, I'm a weirdo) but some taste better than others, that's for sure. And like anything it's all too easy to get stuck in a rut and end up eating the same vegetables over and over -- it's hard enough to get enough on a daily basis without making them boring on top of it!

I think this post over at Cranky Fitness is a great reminder for all of us to sit down and really think about what kinds of vegetables taste the best to us. Whether you can think of a whole list or you're struggling to come up with just one, it's well worth the time and effort to figure it out. Having a few good recipes of your favorites (or at least some you can stand if you're a real veggie-hater) in your "arsenal" when you hit the grocery store is a great way to get those vegetables not only in the basket, but also onto your dinner plate (no letting them rot in the fridge!).

Bollywood star loses 220+ pounds

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Accomplished Bollywood musician, Adnan Sami, has lost over 220 pounds in the past year. Sami is a singer, pianist/keyboardist, and has recently ventured into acting. Sami reports that his weight ballooned after a painful divorce -- stress and depression took a toll on him and he found himself eating for emotional reasons. His weight spiraled out of control until finally his doctors warned him that his weight was endangering his health... even his life. The news was understandably shocking and saddening and Sami felt ready to give up, but his father wouldn't let him. His father convinced him to try to lose the weight and regain his health.

Sami came to the US and started a strict program of healthy eating, virtually eliminating oils, sugars, rice, and bread. In time, he came to enjoy vegetables and appreciate their subtle flavors. His diet and subsequent weight loss was drastic, but Sami was under the supervision of doctors and nutritionists who closely monitored his health. Sami states that his weight loss has given him a "new lease on life."