Sunday, 24 June 2007

Are you drinking TOO MUCH water when you exercise?

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As much preaching as we all hear about not drinking enough water and how most people live life chronically dehydrated, it's interesting to know that it's possible to drink too much water -- especially when exercising -- and more people do it than you might think. Endurance exercisers are the only ones really at risk, and the problem (called hyponatremia) happens when you drink in more water than your kidneys can excrete. Potentially fatal, it's not something to take lightly, but it is easy to avoid: just respect your own personal "thirst" meter and drink only when your body says you need to.

PETA wants Michael Moore to go veg and lose weight

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Michael Moore -- whose movie Sicko is set for release this month -- isn't known for backing away from an issue, and either is animal rights group PETA. So when Ingrid Newkirk, president of the organization, wrote Michael Moore a letter, he had to know that he may not like what she had to say. Newkirk took Moore to task on his "weighty health issue" and challenged him to take up a vegetarian lifestyle so that he could "become less reliant on the government's shoddy healthcare system," himself. Newkirk urged the filmmaker to take up the 30-day Veg Pledge and take some personal responsibility in creating his own healthy lifestyle by eliminating animal products from his diet.

Will Moore take her up on it? He hasn't said, but he is working on losing a few pounds. What do you think? Was Newkirk's letter over the top or an appropriately worded wake up call?

Listen to ME on the Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy Weightloss radio show

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I was recently a guest on Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy, and it was a blast. The guys are hysterical and they're pretty on top of the health and fitness industry. To listen to the June 21st podcast click here. We talk all about my infinite broken bones from my kickboxing career, movie stuff, and more.

Stuck at a desk all day? Webble your way to fitness!

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Oh the fun of silly under-the-desk exercise gadgets. This one, the Webble, even has a funny name. That name, combined with how it works, totally makes me think of the "weebles wobble" toys for kids (and it seems the people over at Shiny Shiny had the same thought!). It's a kind of wobbly skateboard that you rock and roll your feet back and forth and around on while sitting in a chair. Somehow this works to tone your calves and legs, although I imagine to get much real benefit you'd have to be really going crazy with it (which gives me a hilarious picture in my mind). The Webble comes in two versions for your Webbling pleasure, the regular hard-top Webble and the Webble Air with a mesh "soft top."

I'd get a workout from this, but it would be more from laughter than anything else I think!

Parkinson's disease under the microscope of gene therapy

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As the human genome continues to be unraveled and concentrated on, gene therapies for certain diseases are sure to move to the forefront of medical treatment. In a recent study of a dozen Parkinson's Disease patients, gene therapy was used to reduce symptoms in one of the subjects.

The symptoms were improved dramatically in one of the patients, with no side effects. That, right there, is huge. The problem with many pharmaceutical drugs is that they come with side effects along with the main treatment. those side effects, from what I have seen, can be just as bad as the disease that's being treated!

Although this particular study aimed to test the safety of gene therapy rather than how effective it is, the results appeared to be dramatic in one case -- although scientists have warned that further study is needed here.

Ambulance equipped for obese emergency patients only

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The paramedics team and potential patients in Calgary, Alberta Canada have a new tool at their disposal to make emergency responses and treatment even better: a specialized ambulance for extremely obese patients. Designed to make it safer for both the patients and the paramedics, the "bariatric response team" will be reserved for patients weighing between 400 and 1000 pounds. Equipped with special gear like a hydraulic lift and fancy air mattress to make positioning large patients easier, this new ambulance will mean some patients who used to be unable to transport in an emergency vehicle at all can now do so safely and with dignity.

Oddball news: obese patients fare better after heart attacks

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Talk about odd news -- this one qualifies. In recent research from Europe, it was discovered that obese patients have only half the risk of dying after a heart attack compared to heart attack victims of normal weight.

The lead researcher concluded that "Once a heart attack has occurred and been optimally treated, obese patients switch to a more favorable prognosis compared to normal-weight patients."

This should not be any reason to throw everything we know about healthy nutrition out the window and start becoming more obese than we already are, although I do think this is very good news for current obese and morbidly obese people who are stressing their bodies to the limit with all those extra pounds.

Women prefer personal weight loss advice over groups

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Apparently over 80% of young women are interested in losing weight (I believe it) but aren't sure how to go about it. And when it comes to their preferred way of getting information personalized and individually tailored advice is on top. The studies were done in Australia and found that women in general are moving away from classes and group setups, instead favoring one-on-one sessions with face-to-face interactions with health professionals.

Do you think this rings true over here in the U.S. also? I thought the online weight-loss programs were dong well as far as growth, but maybe not so much. What kind of weight loss advice to you prefer?

How to get kids eating healthy when they're picky eaters

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Most parents have faced the "picky eater" in one or more of their children. It's not easy trying to get that good nutrition down the throats of kids who prefer sugared breakfast cereal and french fries over everything else.

Are there solutions to the picky eater in your family? Sure there are -- but it takes patience and creativity like anything else that deals with getting kids to do what they really need to do (like cleaning those rooms!).

Anyway, here are some great tips from the University of California, San Francisco on getting those kids ready to eat better by using methods that lead them to the right choices.
  • Give your child a variety of foods to choose from, including a fruit, vegetable, protein and starch. Don't only offer foods you know your child will eat.
  • Don't give your child too many high-calorie drinks, which could fill her up and keep her from wanting to eat.
  • Stick to a meal schedule, so that your child will be hungry at mealtime.
  • Keep meals pleasant, in an environment free of TV, argument or stressful conversation.
  • If your child won't eat, don't prepare a different meal just to satisfy her. She'll have another opportunity to eat at her next meal in a few hours.
  • Continue offering your child foods that she has once refused. Her eating habits may change.

Autism 'proteins' looked at as a guide to many brain cells

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Autism is consistently receiving media attention recently, and for good reason. Recent CDC numbers have estimated that one in 150 kids now has autism, although the rise can't be tied to new cases versus more recent identification tools for diagnoses.

Regardless, the search for autism causes continues. Two brain cell proteins, called neuroligin-1 and neuroligin-2, have been found recently to strengthen and balance nerve cell connections. Sound important? It is, according to a team studying autism at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

It was found that one of these proteins excite nerve cells while the other slows down nerve cell activity. As such, mutations and changes in these proteins is being correlated to certain forms of autism, and a deeper understanding of how these proteins react normally and abnormally could be essential to seeing why some kids end up with autistic qualities (or more).

Parents against organized, processed food media

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I'd venture to say that one of the hardest challenges parents of small children (and teenagers as well) face is to try and get their kids eating and drinking healthy products. The constant barrage of TV advertising around junk food and fast food along with the "toys" that come in fast food meals are incredibly hard to overcome for any parent.

After all, marketers will do anything to sell more product, even if it means poisoning kids in the process. Ever seen a normal child drink a soft drink at 9pm at night?That's a study in blood glucose if anything is.

Even though it's hard to combat the crappy foods that almost all kids seem to eat these days, ensuring your child receives doses of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables and decent sources of calcium (hint: more than from dairy) is about as good a duty as parents as there ever was.

Picking the best pain meds

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Several years ago I picked my niece up from the orthodontist. I handed her a Tylenol to help with the pain of having her braces tightened. Before she had a chance to swallow it the receptionist told me that naproxen (found in Aleve and generic versions) is a better choice for relieving pain from dental work. It took me by surprise. At that time, I had no idea that one type of over-the-counter pain medication was better than another for certain types of pain.

This chart breaks down which pain relievers are the best choices for different ouches, bumps, aches, and bruises. Not only is each pain reliever medication effective for different types of pain, there are different lengths of time the medication lasts, possible side effects, and cautions to remember.

Quiz: Are you as fit as you think?

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Body weight, BMI, body measurements, calories eaten, calories burned, ideal body weight, muscle mass, percent body fat...it seems like there is nothing but numbers flying around out there when it comes to measuring people's health! Do you know what they all mean? How do you measure your own personal fitness? Do know if it's really the most accurate for you?

Take this quiz and see how much you really know (I like it because it gives an explanation after each answer), and

"EMMA" pillbox approved by the FDA

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There are lots of pill boxes and pill management systems out there, but this one now has the FDA's stamp of approval. Called EMMA (Electronic Medication Management System), it's a gadget about the size of a breadbox that's designed for older patients and those with complicated dosing schedules. It stores the medications, alerts when it's time to take them, and releases the correct pills into a tray when activated by the patient at the right time. Dosages and times can be accessed and adjusted online by the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.

Neat!

Getting fit after pregnancy: What's realistic?

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When celebrities have babies and seem to almost instantly snap back into beautiful celebrity shape, do you find it inspiring or depressing? Or maybe frustrating is a better word for it, since it seems like they're somehow achieving the impossible.

If you're experiencing frustration in getting your pre-pregnancy figure back, like maybe progress is slower than you'd like, then take a look at this article from WebMD. It's full of great advice on how to be successful (patience and diligence is key) and gives a little dose of reality when it comes to just why and how celebrities are able to do what they do -- saying it's really not even all that healthy sometimes.

And also be sure to check out our own Jennifer Jordan's journey in our weekly That's Fit feature Fit Mama!

What are "free radicals?"

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Ever hear of the "free radical?" No, that is not a reference to a possible future state of Charles Manson, but is a health term that describes the degeneration of human cells which speeds up aging.

Free radicals are highly damaging to our cells, and they occur when some electrons become "unbonded" during the metabolic processes inside our bodies. That causes molecular destabilization, kind of like a rat on crack inside a small tube. That may be a bad analogy, but you get the idea.

These free radicals can start attacking normal cells (causing disease, even) and although they occur naturally (and can even be helpful), too many of them can be disastrous behind the scenes. The next time you eat a food listed as "high in antioxidants," you can know that you're helping your body copy with these potentially nasty electrons.

Can you like yourself too much?

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While most people struggle with even having enough self-esteem, there are some people out there who actually have too much of it. It may seem hard to believe that it's even possible to like yourself too much, but it is. Appreciating your own good qualities and self-worth is one thing, but thinking that you're absolutely "perfect" is something else altogether. Too much self-esteem can lead to negative traits such as self-tolerance, entitlement, victimhood and narcissism -- and the attitude that others are simply there to give.

According to the article on eDiets healthy self-esteem comes not from loving yourself, but from genuinely loving others. Do you agree?

Splenda looks to market leadership in France

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Do you regularly drink beverages with fake sweeteners in them? Aspartame, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda -- there are plenty of scientific and branding names all these fake sweeteners go by.

Splenda, which is an artificial sweeteners that "is made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar," has high hopes for becoming the #1 artificial sweetener in France according to its maker, McNeil Nutritionals LLC. While I don't dispute that Splenda is "made form sugar," it's still not a natural substance. Do research on sucralose and you'll find this out pretty fast.

Although I can't stand to taste of fake sweeteners in anything, plenty of people can and do based on the lower calorie count that can be given not using real sugar. Are chemically-created sweeteners the answer, though? It's probably the less of two evils. Splenda' goal of market leadership in France by 2009 is pretty lofty so we'll see if the French citizenry fall for it hook, line and sinker like many of us have here in America.

Getting the most out of yogurt

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We've all heard a lot of good things about yogurt, but getting the benefits is more complicated that just grabbing whatever looks good off the grocery store shelf. Many yogurts are chock full of sugar, which can easily double or even triple the total calorie count and end up out-weighing any good benefits you were hoping for. Make sure you're choosing brands and varieties that are made with nonfat or low fat milk and have a reasonable sugar/calorie content -- usually around 100-150 calories. If you crave more sweetness adding your own healthy sweets like fruit (pineapple and peaches work great) can make yogurt into a healthy but still tasty treat or meal.

5 tools to train your brain

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Staying sharp mentally is important to all of us as we get older, and thankfully research shows that working out your mind has much the same effect as working out out your body: it gets leaner, more efficient, and better at doing pretty much everything. So if you know you want to "exercise" your mind but aren't sure where to begin, here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Brain Age for Nintendo DS Stimulates the mind with math, reasoning, reading, and drawing tasks. $20
  • The Brain Fitness Program for Windows Based on listening and recall skills it trains you to be faster and more accurate with memory recall of what you hear. $400
  • MindFit for Windows Offers individualized training after "learning" about you through various performance tests. $150
  • Brain Fitness for Windows Works to strengthen short term memory, language skills, and concentration through deciphering, ordering, and classification projects. $65
  • Crossword puzzles They'll definitely keep you entertained, and the thinking won't hurt either! 50¢