Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Artificial skin breakthrough can heal wounds

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If this sounds like something out of Star Wars or science fiction, hear it out. An organization called Intercytex Group has found a breakthrough in regenerative treatments. Enter the artificial skin. Okay by itself this is not new. However, the group has developed a novel lab-made living skin that lasts longer and even heals wounds!

Anyone who has gone through extensive surgery or needed a skin graft knows what makes this so innovative. Currently the best option for these treatments involves transplanting skin from one part of the patient's own body to another part. This can leave even more wounds. But imagine if there was a chance to use artificial skin which would heal naturally without painful skin grafts.

Maybe someday we can expect spray-on skin? Perhaps, but not any time soon. The company still has to move the product through clinical trials before they can even begin to consider marketing it. If that time gap means building a quality solution to take care of serious wounds, then I'm sure the world will wait.

Morning sickness could be good news

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If you've dealt with, or are currently experiencing, a pregnancy where morning sickness is an issue you're probably thinking how on earth can nausea and vomiting be a good thing? Well a new study shows that women who suffer from morning sickness during pregnancy have a lower risk of getting breast cancer later in life. The study that found this connection looked at many pregnancy-related issues, but only nausea and vomiting seemed to have any connection to breast cancer risk -- even down to the severity of symptoms (the worse the sickness the lower the risk).

This was only one study, so experts say they don't really know what it means just yet. But it sounds promising! A sort of 'silver lining' to one of life's more unpleasant side-effects.

Natural cures for acid reflux

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Acid reflux affects millions of people in the United States, and the sale of antacids and acid reducers is a billion dollar industry. Though there are popular and effective drugs out there, there are simpler and safer (and cheaper!) ways to ease the symptoms without taking long-term medication and suffering its possible side effects:
  • Eat smaller meals.
  • Skip the high fat foods (which will improve your health in other ways as well!)
  • Quit smoking.
  • Go to bed on an empty stomach (put at least 3 hours between your last meal and bedtime.)
  • Exercise before you eat.
  • Know your trigger foods and avoid them.
If you practice all of those GERD-reducing habits and are still having trouble, experts say that there's some evidence that calcium citrate powder and powdered digestive enzymes may help reduce symptoms as well. For more information, and to learn how to treat another common stomach ailment -- gastritis -- read the full article here.

Fructose-sweetened drinks are not a good choice

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It takes diligent effort to find beverages these days that are not sweetened with some form of sugar -- whether it's real or fake. Fructose, glucose, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, NutraSweet, Splenda, cane syrup -- talk about being confused!

On top of controlling sugar intake to maintain proper health, a new study suggests that there is yet another reason to avoid fructose (specifically): it may harm those all-important arteries.

The study concluded that fructose-sweetened drinks can promote the development of fatty acid deposits in arteries past what glucose-sweetened beverages can provide.

The next time you whip out that sweet drink, see what kind of sweetener is in there -- and drink at your own risk (for many reasons).

Healthy Handful: Reasons to avoid wheat

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wheatWhat? Avoid wheat? At first glance, this post doesn't seem to make any sense. Aren't we supposed to be eating a lot of whole grains?

If you choose to be a grain eater, there are plenty of ways to indulge in whole grain goodness -- quinoa, spelt berries, millet and buckwheat, just to name a few. But you may want to rethink wheat.

1. Wheat can cause nasty headaches. Try avoiding wheat and see if your migraines go away.

2. Wheat can be contaminated with myotoxins, a natural fungus that can cause health problems like diabetes, asthma, even cancer.

3. Intolerance to wheat can be connected to repeated miscarriages. If this is a problem for you and it is undiagnosed, you may have a problem with gluten.

4. The herbicides used on wheat may be linked to birth defects.

5. Eating wheat can increase your chances of dying of lymphoma if you have a hidden intolerance to wheat, and may also increase your risk of heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Yikes! You might try avoiding wheat for a month or so and then add it back, keeping track of your symptoms along the way. If you feel better avoiding wheat, then you probably should. There's always brown rice pasta and spelt bread.
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Your memory: Keep it in the best shape you can

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One of my biggest fears is losing myself in a Dementia-fueled haze, in which I forget relatives, experiences and years of my life, as my great aunt Doze has. Losing one's memory is such a tragedy, and something to be avoided at all costs. While we can't control the future and what happens to our bodies and minds down the road, we can take steps to prevent age-related dementia such as memory loss.

Memory loss is due to a number of things--genetics, lifestyle, environment--but what much of it comes down to is this: use it or lose it. Just like any of your other muscles, you have to exercise your brain to keep it strong. This includes engaging in social activities, doing puzzles like sudoku, using your imagination, etc. Your lifestyle also plays a big role. It's important to get a well-balance diet and to be active, for your brain as well as your waistline.

For more information, read this article and let me know your thoughts.

Do you suffer from a panic disorder?

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For those who have experienced a panic attack, the moment is not something they'll soon forget. I remember freaking out at a restaurant in London once. I had no reason to panic about anything but suddenly my heart started to pound, my vision got blurry and I was so afraid that people would notice that I felt like I had to get out of there, fast!

It is normal to feel a fight or flight response when in a dangerous situation. During a panic attack, all of the same responses occur, such as elevated heart rate, sweating and increased blood flow to the limbs, but often for no reason at all. When these attacks occur often, you could be dealing with a panic disorder.

This disorder can be debilitating for those trying to endure it. But it is important to know that there are ways to treat the ailment so you don't have to suffer needlessly. Take a look here for lots of information on the condition including a definition, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention. After reading the articles, if you suspect that you may be dealing with a panic disorder, it is important to go see your doctor as they can start you on the road to recovery.

Should you go veg?

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Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, right? According to Dr. Mao over at Yahoo Health, one way to increase your chance of longevity is to eliminate meat from your diet. Dr. Mao says that vegetarians:
  • have a decreased risk of degenerative disease
  • reduce their risk of cancer
  • may avoid heart disease
  • have lower blood pressure
  • are less likely to be obese
  • have a decreased risk of developing osteoporosis
Of course, to achieve those goals, your vegetarian diet must be low in fat, high in fiber, and well balanced. You can't eat soy hotdogs out of a can every day and expect to be healthy! Dr. Mao also suggests that if you do eat meat, limit your intake to the weekends to reduce the health risks and choose fish over other types of meat as often as possible.

What do you think of Dr. Mao's advice?

Getting your daily greens

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Do you get your daily greens? That's not a golf term, of course -- it's a nutrition term. The amount of vegetables that is suggested by experts is probably not eaten daily by a majority of citizens in the U.S. Well, that is if my informal data collection is taken as proof.

But are there ways to get those daily greens without popping those fresh vegetables? Sure there are. There are supplements in tablet or powder form. Products like Emerald Balance is a great way to get a full day's worth of those veggies quick without fixing an entire meal.

Now, I've tried many superfood and green food powders myself, and the one listed above is among my favorites based on taste alone. Whichever you pick, your body will thank you. That is, of course, you are getting your daily greens directly from those tasty vegetables.

Is it okay to eat soft cheese?

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If you read my posts often, you probably already know that I love cheese. With an unadulterated passion. mmmmm.

Anyway, a friend of mine is pregnant, and when I suggested we snack on a cheese tray at a recent visit, she told me she couldn't eat any soft cheese, like brie and feta. I thought this was a bit strange so I decided to look in to it and figure out why soft cheese isn't safe for pregnant women. Turns out that while hard cheese is made with pasteurized milk, soft ones aren't, and can harbour harmful bacteria (called listeria) that can be fatal to babies, seniors and other people with weak immune systems.

I've eaten plenty of brie in my time and have never gotten sick from it, but I don't like the idea of eating bacteria that can kill people. Should I avoid my favourite soft cheeses, or are my chances of getting ill pretty slim? eDiets says you're better safe than sorry, but what do you think?

Lose weight with The Diet Plate

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Portion control is a big buzzword in diet and weight loss lingo and learning to control how much ranks up there with what you eat. The Diet Plate, manufactured in the UK, can help you with both of those crucial weight loss musts by giving you a guide every time you pull out your dinner plate.

The Diet Plate helps you portion out servings of carbs and protein, as well as fruits and vegetables and fats. It's also a visual tool that -- in recent studies -- helped diabetics lose an average of 5% of their body weight over a six month period, a rate that's similar to the success of popular weight loss drugs.

The plates are also colorful and attractive and you can buy a children's version, cereal bowls, or a family pack as well.

Does allergy medicine belong at school?

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Controlled dangerous substances have been a problem in schools for as long as I can remember. Even legit uses for certain medications and pills are closely watched in many schools for fear of them falling into the wrong hands or being abused (or pick another reason).

But, severe allergic reactions that can happen to kinds while at school are among the more important situations that require immediate treatment. To that end the American Medical Association supports having certain allergy medications available at schools for children that need fast access to them.

In what seems to be the norm, schools have banned certain clothing items, cellphones, medications and everything else that could pose a possible threat to students and faculty. While there is nothing wrong with taking precautionary measures, there -- of course -- needs to be exceptions like this.

Save your sanity: 7 ways to make flying with kids easier

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Traveling with kids can be challenging and stressful at the best of times but add in a airplane flight, and even more possible complications arise. Over the next few months lots of families will be heading to the skies on summer holidays so, just in time for your trip, here are some things to consider in order to keep your kids happy and healthy during a flight.

Don't fly with infants under a week old as their lungs aren't fully developed and oxygen levels on a plane could vary during a flight. Give older kids gum to chew to help with air pressure changes during take off and landing, while younger kids can suck on thumbs, soothers or a bottle.

Make sure to give anti-nausea medication 30 minutes to an hour before the flight in order for it to take effect at the right time -- you don't want it to wear off before take off but you also don't want it to start working too late. Also, bring a few activities in your carry-on -- coloring books, stories or travel games all work -- to keep bored children entertained. If you'd like a few more tips to make traveling with kids easier, take a look at the piece mentioned above.

What are your numbers? CDC conducts sex history survey

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When I was in junior high my friends and I knew next to nothing about sex. I went to a Catholic school and when your sex education classes are taught by a nun, well, you can imagine how ineffectual they are. When I switched to the public high school however, kids were a bit more knowledgeable. Scary knowledgeable when, at my current age and parent status, I reflect on it. Kids today seem to be aware of things even sooner; so have things changed through the years? As a nation, are we sexually active earlier than we used to be? Even in the wake of sexually transmitted diseases do we have more partners than before? The National Center for Health Statistics conducted a survey on sexual behavior, orientation, and attraction.

The survey questioned men and women ranging in age from 15-44. Some of the surveys results include:
  • 12% of males and 10% of females from ages 15-19 had engaged in oral sex, but not vaginal intercourse. The number drops to 3% by ages 22-24.
  • 30-44 year old males report an average of 6-8 sexual partners; women in the same age group report about four.
  • 3% of males and 4% of females report having sexual activity with a member of their same sex within the past 12 months. When a similar question was asked except the time frame expanded to over their lifetime the numbers rose to 6% for males and 11% for females.
  • 29% of men who had engaged in male-male contact had been tested for HIV. Only 14% of men with no same-sex contact had been tested.

It's not just about the food

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We all know that America has a weight problem. Most people seem to think it's because we eat too much, which is certainly true; but it's also because we move too little!

Our world, our environment, has changed dramatically in the last 25 years and physical activity has been engineered out of our lives. We have remote controls, garage door openers, robotic lawn mowers, and electric windows. We also have drive-in banks, restaurants, dry cleaners, pharmacies and believe it or not, near where I live, there's a convenient store that has a drive-up window where you can purchase lottery tickets. These days you can stay seated for almost anything. And, when I was a kid and got into trouble, I had to come inside. Now when a kid gets in trouble parents cut off video games, phones and TV (in our house, this is called 'electronic lock-down') and send the kids outside for punishment . The truth is we need to stop avoiding physical activity, instead we need to embrace it.

The human body has about 60 trillion cells and every single one of them is positively impacted when we move -- so if you want to lose weight, improve your health, and feel better, then eat a little bit less and move a whole lot more!

Why you should pull out the tape measure

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Weighing ourselves is something which we have been brought up to do. It is even something that we are required to do each time we visit the doctor's office. There are even some of us (and you know who you are) who weigh ourselves obsessively, day after day. Yes, there is no doubt that if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, the scale can be a very effective tool -- it's just not the only tool. So go ahead -- dig through your junk drawer, it's time to pull out your measuring tape.

Next time, you should absolutely take your measurements with a tape measure so you can see your results in a different and much more rewarding way. For at least a few days, measure wherever you want, but make sure you're consistent each time you measure and try not to get on the scale. You might be surprised with the results and you might find it a lot more rewarding. This is especially effective for areas like your waist, chest, and thighs. Remember that some areas, such as your biceps, may gain inches if you are developing larger muscles.

Here are some areas that you can measure that should show results:

Continue reading Why you should pull out the tape measure

Diet and exercise both needed for long-term weight loss

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Weight loss, like any health scenario, needs a detailed and goal-oriented approach if ultimate success is to happen. A combination of diet, exercise and long-term weight maintenance are all pieces of keeping that weight off for, well, ever.

Eating well is a central key in losing weight. On top of that, a good exercise regime is a great tool in terms of maintaining that weight at a certain level. Now, the term "exercise" means different things to many people, and there are many activities that qualify. Walking, Pilates, treadmilling, using a rowing machine and lifting weights are all exercise -- but for each exercise there is a specific purpose.

What can work best for the goal of permanent weight loss? How you eat and what you eat goes hand-n-hand with exercise to give your body proper and healthy weight loss, so what do you do? Some decent insight into this common problem can be read here -- and then your preparation can begin if it hasn't already.

Cat Cora's cooking secrets

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I'm addicted to the food network, but often I find that their oh-so-yummy looking meal ideas aren't the healthiest -- they're heavy on the fats and not so much on the healthier stuff. Do you find that too? Or do I just have a knack for turning on the TV when the fettucine alfredo comes out?

Anyway, celebrity chef Cat Cora has weighed in on her lifelong love love of food, and has admitted she's got a new talk show in the works that addresses issues like obesity. She's very health-conscious and has offered her tips on preparing healthy meals, including:

-Adding flavour without adding fat, with things like fresh herbs and vinegar
-Buying seasonal produce, and organic foods when possible
-Grilling your meats instead of frying to leave out additional fat
-Substituting unhealthy ingredients for healthy ones

What do you think?

Elderly bones weakened by antidepressant use

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One thing elderly people do not need is fragile bones. The reasons that lead to that condition vary widely, but such accidents like broken hips, legs and arms due to weak bones is never a good thing. What contributes to weak bones, though?

A lack of calcium has always been tied to this problem, a fact the dairy industry has capitalized on for decades. But what about antidepressant drugs? Depression hits elderly people also, and the use of these drugs has been linked to weakened bones in two separate studies that were released this week.

These antidepressants (called SSRIs) were found to cause bone loss in older men and women, and that age group represents about 60% of all U.S. prescriptions for such products. In other words, the results of these two studies are quite significant to the older population, because who wants weak bones at age 70 or 80?

3% of Americans have diabetes, but don't know it

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In what I consider a very scary situation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta has now said that 3% of the people in the U.S. who have type 2 diabetes don't even know they have it. I mentioned the diabetes prospects in a post this morning, but this situation is even scarier.

That's right -- these 6.2 million people (roughly) are walking around not knowing that diabetes lurks inside of them. What's the cause? Perhaps a lead researcher with the CDC said it best: "There is a relationship between these missing patients with diabetes and lack of health care access."

But who are these patients? The CDC used national health surveys to find people who ended up having diabetes (much to the surprise of each one). You don't get treatment if you don't know you have a problem, right? This is scary, folks.

Air conditioning may be making you fat

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It turns out that all that energy we use to heat and cool our house is energy that we aren't using to heat and cool our bodies; and it's making us fatter. A recent report published in the International Journal of Obesity, shows that weight problems are just as likely to be caused by air conditioning, lack of sleep, a decrease in the number of smokers (smoking suppresses appetite), new medicines and other environmental causes.

That's right, being hot or cool is somewhat uncomfortable and stressful for our bodies which, in turn, increases or decreases our body temperature ... and burns calories. The extremes, of course, produce shivering and sweating, but milder energy use occurs as well as we move above or below 72 degrees.

That's not to say that diet and exercise aren't important, it just means that there is evidence linking obesity to other equally plausible factors in our advancing society -- and more research still needs to be done.

Could 100 days of sex save your marriage?

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One day, Doug and Annie Brown looked around and realized that they had it all: the kids, the careers, the mini-van, the house...but what they'd lost in the process was the active sex life they'd had before they had it all. Determined to put the heat back into their marriage, they challenged themselves to have sex every day for 100 days. Not only did they spice up their marriage, they also have a book deal about their "marathon," set for release in fall of 2008.

So can 100 days of sex really rekindle your passion for each other? Marriage counselors are torn, saying that trouble in the bedroom usually means trouble in your marriage that needs to be addressed. For the Browns, it worked because not only were they paying attention to their sexual health, they were also putting more effort into their marriage as well. Read more about the Brown's story here.

How to practice yoga from the comfort of home

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Have you always been curious about yoga but can't afford the price of a beginner's class? Or are you shy and too nervous to take your first steps in a studio surrounded by a group of strangers? While yoga is all about doing your personal best and not judging anyone else's practice, it can still be intimidating to try those twisty poses for the first time among a crowd. And for some, classes just aren't an affordable option.

The good news is that it is still possible to get into yoga from the comfort of your own home. There is a huge variety of books, videos and DVDs on the practice that can either be bought or taken out from the library. The Internet is a great resource as well, as there are many sites that break down poses into simple steps, which can help you ensure that you are doing them correctly (one of the drawbacks of learning without an instructor is there is no one to help you keep bad habits from developing). For some other ideas on how to get started at home, take a look here. Namaste.

Fit Links: Avoid a camping disaster

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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.

The great family camping vacation: think hiking and fresh air and sitting around a campfire... it sounds wonderful! Camping can be a healthy, fun family vacation, but there's also plenty of dangers involved and some are more obvious than others. Before you and your family head out into the wilderness this summer (or even just take the RV to the lake) get informed with these blogs:

Love the Outdoors and All About Camping are two great places to start learning ways to make your camping trip a safe and healthy one.

Joy of Camping even has a bear safety video, in addition to other safety videos and general camping tips.

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Daily Fit Tip: Try baking with flaxseed

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Flaxseed is an excellent addition to any diet. Not only is it rich in alpha linolenic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid, flaxseed is also rich in lingans which are linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. You can take flaxseed supplements, but it's also easy to add flaxseed to your diet. Substitute ground flaxseed for your favorite cooking oil by following this ratio: 3 T. ground flaxseed = 1 T. of oil. If you're replacing all of the fat in a recipe with ground flaxseed, be sure to increase the liquid in your dish by 75%, as ground flaxseed soaks up water. In addition, keep a close eye on baked goods, because flax browns faster than other fats. Happy baking!

Quirky parenting tips that just might work for you

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If you've been a parent for more than five minutes, then you probably know that for every published parenting method out there, there's a kid who knows how to defeat it. As my kids grow, I find myself relying more and more on flying by the seat of my pants parental intuition than I ever did on any one advice book. I love, however, a great work around and when I see or hear something that I know will work with my kids, I have no shame in taking it on as my own. "No feet where you eat," for instance, is a big hit in our house and keeps my toddler from using her booster seat as her own personal lounge chair.

Here's a list of 7 quirky discipline ideas that work (for the author, at least.) I see at least one on the list that I use with my preschooler ("I can't understand you when you speak like that.") and at least one I'm going to try when we clean up after lunch today ("You can't be in the room when I'm working unless you work, too."). I've found that my own kids are much more likely to cooperate when I make things simple and fun, and involve them in the process. Many of these ideas fit that bill.

What about you? What kind of parenting tricks do you use to keep your household running smoothly?

Supplements get new rules

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One concern about taking vitamins, herbal remedies, or dietary supplements has been the fact that there is no real regulation of the industry. According to Steve Mister, president and CEO for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, most companies are responsible about testing their products to ensure that they contain the raw ingredients they claim to include, but there have been reported instances where labels don't match the products, as well as complaints of contamination.

In response to those issues, the FDA has issued a new rule that companies who produce these types of products must test the strength and purity of the ingredients in their products, and must also make sure they identify all of the ingredients on the label. If they fail inspection, they'll need to revise their labels or may even face litigation. Manufacturers have three years to comply to the new rules.

Critics say that, while this addresses the labeling issue, there's still no way for consumers to know if the supplement they're taking is safe for them or if it even works. So while the new rule will ensure the ingredients in supplements are consistent, it's still up to the consumer to do the research and find out if a product is right for them.

Useless body parts

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By the time you were in middle school, chances are you knew someone who'd had their tonsils or appendix out (or had undergone one of these procedures yourself). I remember it happening so often, in fact, that I lived in constant fear of suddenly being rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation -- and I wondered, once I'd had the surgery, how would life be different? What would change once I was missing these seemingly important parts of my body?

Obviously, the answer is "nothing." It's common knowledge that both the appendix and the tonsils are "useless" body parts, in that the only reason they're a part of our bodies is because they served a purpose for our evolutionary ancestors.

But did you know that our bodies are full of parts like this? Take, for instance, the extrinsic ear muscles, which allow people to move their ears like rabits and dogs do -- amusing, but otherwise pointless. Or how about wisdom teeth? Early humans chewed a lot of plants, so a third row of molars was helfpul, but these days only 5% of the population has a healthy set. Other odd (and ultimately useless) body parts include male nipples, erector pili (the muscle fibers that would allow you to puff your fur, if you had any -- instead they just cause goose bumps), and the firth toe (which is fairly pointless now that we don't cling from branches like apes).

For a full list of your body's obsolete pieces, check out this 2004 Discover article.

'Super' staph infection may be infecting 5% of hospital patients

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It's often been said that a computer clean room is way more sterile and cleaner than a standard hospital operating room, which may explain why a new study says that a drug-resistant staph germ may be infecting as many as five percent of hospital and nursing home patients.

This should not be all that unexpected, to be honest. It's not that hospitals are dirty places, but 'bugs' know no bounds. Constant disinfecting still can't hold a candle to how technologically-complex sterile environments are designed. The study concluded that at least 30,000 U.S. hospital patients may have the staph superbug at any given time. Ouch -- sound scary enough for you?

That rate is about ten times higher than national health officials had thought, and it raises a question: what can be done to prevent this? Federal health officials, having not seen the study's methodology or other relevant information, have yet to officially comment.

You Are What You Eat: Chick peas -- powerful and versatile

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chick peasEach 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!

We already know that beans in general are a Super Food, but each specific bean really does have its own values.

One of the most notable things about chick peas is that they are high in potassium and low in sodium, which makes them a good choice for reducing blood pressure.

But this is one powerful bean, folks. Rich in folate, fiber, vitamin E, calcium and other minerals, you just can't lose when you eat chick peas. And since they are delicious and versatile, what are you waiting for?

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: Chick peas -- powerful and versatile

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Fun and friends help you live longer

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Having a good group of friends, or even just one best friend, is one of the great pleasures in life. They're there to make you laugh when you're down and keep you smiling when you're happy. It's even better when you share similar passions (traveling for instance) that you can participate in together. But did you know that as you age, your social group and social activities can help you live longer?

Apparently social ties with friends -- as well as partners and other family members -- and spending time participating in things like traveling and even gardening played a fairly significant role in mortality rates in a study conducted with seniors over the age of 65.

Study participants who spent the most time socializing with friends, shopping, traveling, attending church and taking part in other activities, not only lived longer but had lower rates of dementia than those who were less active and spent more time on their own. Looks like friends and fun are good for more than just a laugh.

Get sexy thighs now, before the real heat hits

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As we head into the dead of summer the weather gets hotter and the shorts get shorter. There will come a day when the capris just aren't cutting it anymore and you'll have to bust out the shorts, so maybe now is a good time to start doing some thigh moves in preparation. You don't need weights (although you can add them in for a more challenging workout) and the only equipment you have to have for these moves is yourself, a chair, and a broomstick. Click here for instructions on how to do the thigh-toning Hack Squat and Standing Chair Leg Extension and get yourself some sexy summer thighs!

Where are the germs lurking in your home?

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You'd never eat a vegetable you dipped into your toilet, but did you know that when it comes to bacteria, your kitchen sink is nearly as bad? Other bacteria hot spots in your home may surprise you, including the bathtub, the pet food dish, and the kitchen floor. Despite the fact that germs live nearly everywhere in our homes, a recent phone survey done by The Hygiene Council found that only a fraction of Americans had a good understanding of where germs can be found.

It's important to note, I think, that The Hygiene Council is funded by Lysol. Germs do live all over your home, more in some places than in others. Though I think that kitchens and bathrooms deserve sanitary conditions, I don't think you need to spray your home down with chemical cleaners to feel "safe." Not every germ will make you sick, and that list doesn't make note of what sorts of bacteria were being found. That's my take on germs in the home, anyway...what's yours?

Sexy exercises to make you feel great from the inside out

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When I'm sweating away on the treadmill in my old sweats, the last thing I feel is sexy. But building body confidence is as important as building muscles, so eDiets has recommended some exercises to help keep you fit and feeling good about strutting your stuff. They suggest taking a class that lets you let loose, like cardio striptease, pole dancing or belly dancing. I've written about these type of classes before and so have my fellow bloggers and I really can't give them enough praise. They're great for your body and your soul.

Have you done anything fitness-related that's made you feel sexy?

War injuries take toll on U.S. resources

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The number of returning soldiers from Iraq continues to cause an overload of attention on understaffed and ill-prepared resources here in the U.S., according to a recent story at CNN.

The sheer number of U.S. war veterans returning home is mind-boggling, even in an age where technological prowess is keeping more soldiers alive than in any other war. That single statistic, though, is of little comfort to those that have lost someone close to them.

What about war survivors that come back with other problems? Things like blindness, amputations, PTSD and other life-changing maladies are not easy situations to overcome (if that is even possible). Although the U.S. military has had great success keeping severely wounded soldiers alive, the effort to take care of them is proving to be a very large order. It's an order that needs to be100% filled at all times, though.

Always late? Find out why

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As someone who is perpetually early, waiting for someone who is chronically late is high on my list of pet peeves. Though traffic, weather, emergencies, and other delays occasionally pop up, if you are keeping friends, family, or co-workers waiting again and again and again, chances are it's not only affecting their plans, it's bugging them too.
People who are constantly late often laugh off their bad habit, attributing it to poor organizational skills, which is a major cause of lateness. But if you find yourself always leaving your loved one waiting, you might want to take a little deeper look to some other underlying psychological issues that can cause chronic lateness as well, including:
  • being addicted to the thrill of getting ready at the last minute
  • fear of being early and facing rejection if the other party is late
  • a wish not to be controlled, not to be told what to do
  • a conscious or unconscious desire not to attend the event or see the people you are meeting (Ok, even I'll admit to being late for this reason on occasion.)
To cure your lateness, you first need to address the reason behind it. Some of you punctuality-impaired readers might be thinking, "Why should I change? I'm not the one who's unhappy." Being on time shows respect and that you care about the other person's feelings, which will go a long way toward building better relationships.

Burn more fat with these 13 secrets

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When personal trainers get together and give advice it's usually a good idea to listen. And so here's a list of 13 fat burning "secrets" from some of America's top trainers (I guess they're not secrets any more!):
  • Warm-up before a strength training session (not just before cardio). Just 5 minutes can get your blood flowing and give you better muscle contraction and therefore better results.
  • Vary your cardio. Switch regularly between 2 or 3 different exercises .
  • Use several cardio techniques, such as continuous, interval, circuit, and speed play training styles.
  • Schedule workouts in phases, meaning a few weeks at longer lower intensity sessions followed by a few weeks at shorter but higher intensity sessions.
  • Circuit train, with cardio and strength training.
  • Choose strength training moves that work more than one joint at a time.
  • Workout first thing in the morning.
  • Eat a small balanced meal prior to working out for more energy and more fat burning.
  • Exercise intensely. Push the limits (safely) of what you're used to -- break out of the box.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Perform bursts of activity throughout the day, i.e. sprint to the mailbox for the mail.
  • Journal -- writing, tracking, and documenting both your goals and your progress is a proven way to get results.
  • Get an exercise buddy, and stick it out together.

Diabetes epidemic to go unchecked

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Diabetes is a scary medical statistic to research. Where the condition was not as 'popular' years ago as it is today, the growth of U.S. citizens with diabetes and the projections for the next 40 years should make us all stand back in pause.

It's estimated that about 48 million American citizens will have diabetes (type 2) by 2050, and while that seems like a long way away, it really is not. Diabetes is an epidemic that is slowly killing millions, but without the sense of urgency that most epidemics have in terms of coverage by the 'normal' medical media.

That's right -- the "immediate gratification" attitude has taken hold of the medical field in terms of informing the country's citizens. As always, it's up to the individual to take control over life's decisions (health and nutrition, to be specific) as to not let disease grab hold. This may not be enough when you mix in genetics, but any defense is the best offense.

Are your child's allergies stressing you out? You're not alone

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Being a parent is tough enough without having the additional worry of dealing with a kid (or kids) with serious allergies. Moms and dads whose children have the kind of allergies that could potentially be deadly know that seemingly harmless situations could be very dangerous to their child.

For example, parents of kids with severe peanut allergies have to make sure that not only do their children not eat peanuts or peanut products, but also that they don't go near anything made in the same vicinity as peanuts. They have to make sure that teachers are aware of the allergy and they have to prepare ahead when doing things like flying, as many public places are not peanut free and sometimes even just the smell could set off a very serious reaction.

All of the worry and extra preparations can be tiring and stressful but, as this article points out, you're not alone. A number of parents helping their kids deal with allergies contribute their stories to the piece, and there is also some advice to make things a bit easier. If you're a parent who is a seasoned veteran when it comes to looking out for kids with allergies, do you have any helpful tips for other moms and dads out there?

Got lots of bad habits? Quitting them all at once works best

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If you have lots of bad habits (and I think most of us do) it seems working on them simultaneously may be the most effective way to quit, as opposed to working on one at a time. A study was recently conducted with 239 participants to see how different approaches worked to help them quit smoking, reduce salt in their diets, and increase how much they exercised and the group that received counseling sessions for all three areas at once did better (in the long run) than the group that worked on one at a time.

Interesting and good to know, but why do you think this is?