Monday, 2 July 2007

Key molecule for food allergy prevention found

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Interleukin-12. Have you ever heard of it? Me neither, but it appears I should have been checking in the lost and found for my dose of this little molecule. I'm allergic to tree nuts and, if I accidentally encounter them, well... let's just say it isn't pretty. For people like me, certain foods trigger an immune response where the body treats the food as if it were a harmful substance. Nausea, hives, and swelling are among the potential symptoms.

Researchers have found mice that were bred to have peanut allergies were missing a certain molecule, Interleukin-12. This finding offers scientists a target for curing food allergies -- hope for those of us with food sensitivities or allergies. Currently, there's no treatment for food allergies -- you just manage the problem by avoiding the foods you're allergic to. This can be difficult in cases like peanut allergies (one in 70 kids is allergic to peanuts) where the ingredient can be found in surprising foods and the allergy can even be airborne.

Tiger Woods on fitness

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Although golfers are many things, they are not generally thought of as being amongst the buffest athletes in the world. Unless you're talking about Tiger Woods.

In an upcoming article in Men's Fitness magazine (the August edition) Tiger Woods talks about the fitness routine that has helped him stay in such great shape, along with how things have changed as he's gotten older and when recently (on June 18th) he became a father. Among other things, one of the fitness challenges Tiger has faced is gaining weight, not losing it. He's successfully built strength and flexibility with a demanding 6 days/per week workout regimen that includes stretching up to 40 minutes before each session, core exercises, endurance runs of 7 miles and speed runs of 3 miles, along with weight training.

Whatever you're doing Tiger, it's working!

Add these ingredients for healthier recipes

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Often, when we talk about diet and nutrition, we talk about what we shouldn't be eating -- processed foods, trans fats, processed sugars, etc. But here's an article that says "yes" over and over again to great tasting foods that you can add to nearly any dish to make it a nutritional powerhouse. Some of my favorites:
  • Makeover that meatloaf by substituting the beef with 1 cup of pinto or black beans.
  • Add some avocado to that sandwich or salad for a boost in healthy fats.
  • Go for color: choose ruby red grapefruit over white, and the darker romaine lettuce over iceberg. Did you know that red and yellow peppers are simply mature green peppers? (I didn't.) That extra color will give you more vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene.
  • Thicken your sauces and creamy soups with silken tofu for extra lean protein.
There are plenty of more great "additions" in the full article, so follow the link and get some great ideas for adding nutritious foods to your diet.

On the pill? Know your facts

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Many women take oral contraceptives without questioning the science behind it. But as with any medication, it's a good idea to do your own research, instead of having blind faith in your doctors. So if you're on the pill, here are some surprising facts that you should know.

For example, did you know:
  • That if you're overweight, the pill might not work as well for you?
  • That certain drugs, such as nyquil, can interfere with the pill's effectiveness?
  • That the FDA recently approved a pill that will eliminate your period while you're on it?
  • That the pill may cause you to gain a couple of pounds, but not more?
  • That you can safely miss one pill, but not two?
A few of these are news to me. How about you?

Free laser eye surgery comes to U.S. Military

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Although the U.S. Military has been criticized for providing substandard health care for returning Iraqi soldiers, there is one exception to the rule (if not more). A U.S. Army eye clinic will be offering free laser eye surgery to soldiers going to Iraq, with a priority given to special forces troops.

LASIK surgery, the most popular form of laser eye surgery, will be complete with certain soldiers about 90 days before actual deployment happens, according to reports.

The report also stated that due to the certain type of solider involved, some in the armed forces really need to have the surgery so that if glasses or other eyewear becomes damaged in combat, sight will at least have correction already completed.

Nulase laser treatments now available for home use

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Depending on who you ask, light/laser devices are some of the fastest growing products in the beauty and anti-aging industries. And riding on that wave is Nulase International, LLC, who has just released its Laser Enhanced Skin Care System for home use.

Previously only available through skin care professionals, now the Nulase system is the first of its kind cleared for home use. Its patent pending technology combines low-level laser light with unique cosmecueticals and light-activated marine enzymes to reduce the signs of aging in the skin, including wrinkles, age spots, and roughness/dryness.

It's advertised as "safe, simple, and easy to use," but I don't think I'm brave enough to try lasering myself at home -- if something goes wrong I can hardly sue myself!

Breakfasters beware: Make it the healthiest meal of the day too

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Breakfast is one of the yummiest meals of the day, if you ask me. Eggs, bacon, waffles, syrup -- unfortunately, it also tends to be the unhealthiest meal of the day. After all, who ever heard of a breakfast salad?

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, make sure it's also a healthy one. Spark People has some tips on preparing a healthy breakfast for you and your family. Some tips:

  • Prepare a healthy breakfast casserole ahead of time and place it in the fridge for easy eating
  • Make a fruit salad ahead of time and enjoy it with fat-free yogurt, or in a smoothie
  • If you're often in a hurry, pick up some whole grain frozen waffles. Or, make your own!
  • Enjoy some quick, satisfying cereal. Forget the sugary ones -- opt for whole grain, fiber-packed stuff.
What's your favourite healthy breakfast?

10 lifestyle strategies to help keep your heart healthy

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Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death and disability in the United States, however there are a number of things you can do to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, you can substantially reduce many of your risk factors for heart disease and stroke with a just few simple lifestyle changes.

Need some ideas? These 10 tips can help get you started on a one-way track to a healthy heart.
  1. A good night's sleep is more important than you think. A short or restless night in bed can raise your blood pressure and increase inflammation in your blood vessels; a warning sign for cardio-vascular disease.
  2. The American Heart Association recommends resistance training to prevent and treat heart disease. Studies show regular resistance exercise can result in a marginal yet significant reduction in blood pressure to normal levels.

Continue reading 10 lifestyle strategies to help keep your heart healthy

Beat PMS through nutrition

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Got PMS? Then you probably have cravings as well, especially for sweet or salty foods. But as much as chocolate sounds like a good idea during that week leading up to your period, it's not -- at least not in high doses. Salt, alcohol, and caffeine can exacerbate your symptoms and leave you feeling more miserable than before. If you really want to beat the bloating, cramping, and irritability, choose foods rich in these nutrients instead:
  • calcium and magnesium: may improve mood and reduce bloating
  • vitamin B6: may relieve depression and breast tenderness
  • magnesium: is thought to regulate serotonin
  • manganese: may relieve irritability, tension, and depression
In addition, drinking chamomile tea can relieve muscle spasms caused by cramping and drinking it can be soothing and relaxing. So you can still eat your way through that week leading up to your period (in moderation, of course), but by choosing the right foods you can reduce or eliminate some of those miserable symptoms.

No parental notification needed in New Hampshire abortions

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If a minor child needs to have an abortion in New Hampshire, no parents need to be notified according to the governor in that state. The repeal of a law that required parental notification on abortions for those under 18 was passed this week, making New Hampshire the first state to require no parental notification.

Governor Lynch of New Hampshire said that "I strongly believe parents should be involved in these decisions, providing important support and guidance. Unfortunately that is not possible in every case." This is a case of a select few opening the way for all underage girls to have secret abortions. Or, is it?

What are your feelings on this? Even in extreme cases, should all parents of underage girls be notified if an abortion is in the picture? I wonder if more states in the U.S. will follow New Hampshire here.

Salads Can Be Sinful, Too

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When you're trying to lose weight and you're eating out, what are you going to order? Chances are you'll opt for the salad, but surprise! That's not always the best choice.

One of the biggest offenders is the famous Caesar salad. The emperor's salad is full of fat and calories, and can punch a huge hole in your diet with up to 700 calories in an entree-sized order. Other salads might not be the best either. To avoid sabotaging your diet with a salad, hold the cheese, the croutons, the creamy dressings and pretty much anything else that makes it taste like you're not dieting.

But there is hope: Making your own dressings, with healthy ingredients, can make a world of difference to both your waistline and your tastebuds. Do you have any recipes?

The doctor's tips for eating out

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I've talked about Dr. Katz's healthy advice before, and he's recently weighed in on his tips for eating out. He says that there are two important choices when going out for a meal: The restaurant and what you order. When picking a restaurant, it's important to choose one that has healthy options that you enjoy. Choosing a restaurant with a salad bar is a great idea, or if you want some protein, choose a place the offers grilled meats.

When ordering, avoid meats that are breaded and/or fried. Here's one clue that I find helpful: if it says 'crispy', it's probably breaded and fried. As for your side, choose the salad or veggies always. Skip the fries -- you'll feel better about it.

What are your eating out tips?

Make fitness a part of those Golden Years

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Being fit is important, no matter what your age. So if you're thinking that once you get your AARP card you're off the hook, think again. It's just as important to stay in shape when you're in your golden years.

That's why there are a whole slew of fitness centre designed for the 50+ crowd popping up. Nifty After Fifty in Salt Lake City is one such fitness centre -- where loud, hip music and 20-somethings in spandex are a thing of the past, replaced with an easy-going atmosphere and lots of classes designed with aching joints in mind, like water aerobics and Tai Chi. There's also a driving simulator for seniors who want to practice their skills safely.

I think this kind of fitness centre is a great idea ... do you agree?

Getting smart may outwit the onset of Alheimer's Disease

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Keeping your brain healthy these days take vigilant effort. The right kinds of foods and the right kinds of mental conditioning can keep the brain healthy and, according to reports, the mental kind of activity can assist in preventing the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.

The report stated the performing plenty of mentally-stimulating activities in old age can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. This, to me, sounds like an environmental variable that can effect a biological predisposition to a mental disease.

If this report has any validity, it would be an important development for those approaching age 70 or more who can find activities (like chess and reading the paper) that stimulate mental cognition at a time when keeping the brain full of activity of a very good thing.

The F Factor: Fiber!

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Here at That's Fit, our F-Factor stands for fitness, but there's another F-Factor that's just as important -- Fiber! Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet -- are you getting enough? You might, but if you're relying on your high-fibre cereal to provide all your fibre, you might not be consuming as much as you should. Salads, for example, have little fibre, but linguine with clam sauce has 10 grams. Cereal is a good source

That's the premise behind The F-Factor Diet by Tanya Zuckerbrot. She suggests that we get between 30 and 35 g of fiber a day -- and your cereal might only pack 5 or 6 grams. yikes! And that whole-grain bread? It has about the same -- or less. But Zuckerbrot's book has a variety of yummy and fiber-rich recipes that can help you get your daily intake, and take off a few pounds in the process too!

How do you get your fiber?

School nurses key to curbing...heart disease?

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A report from the American Heart Association stated this past week that school nurses are the ones mainly responsible for promoting heart health among children and youth.

Surprised? I was -- but this makes complete sense. A representative from the AHA said that "Because they're knowledgeable about resources in their communities, school nurses are well-positioned to provide appropriate referrals for children and their families once a risk factor is identified." The trick is to ensure kids are being evaluated properly if signs are there (or a family history of heart disease is discovered).

Heart healthy school policies like nutrition education and school-community partnerships for the screening of heart disease are pieces of the school nurse pie that become central for education those at risk -- even in elementary school. It's never too early for prevention thinking.

Find out how old or young you really are

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Is your real biological age the same as your chronological age? This test over at is kind of a neat treat, but I'm not sure on which specific medical advice the website is based on.

Regardless, your age in years may not be the same as how your body has aged internally. Eating cheeseburgers and drinking whiskey all day will most assuredly age your body more than eating an organic diet, drinking only water and exercising every day.

Sure, there are genetic differences in all of use that give way to disease (or not), but treating your body better than anything else will, most likely, make that internal age way behind your real age in years.

Why is Rachel Hunter promoting a diet drink?

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It seems like -- in some celebrity circles, at least -- it's hip to be losing weight and endorsing the program that's helping you do it. Even People magazine has started a weekly weight loss figure with the celebrity du jour who has 10 or 20 or even 70 pounds to lose. I think it's great to see people take charge of their health, even if they look for a little publicity in the process.

Rachel Hunter, on the other hand, has never been overweight. She also has never used Slimfast and has no immediate plans to start. But yet she's the face of Slimfast's new campaign, "Find Your Slim," a 10-week dieting campaign. When asked why she chose to sponsor the drink, Hunter said, "I think it's a really good, positive message for women to "find your slim."

On the one hand, I think consumers may not realize that Hunter isn't using the product and if they're drawn to it because of her or because of her shape, that doesn't seem fair. On the other, I like Rachel's take on weight loss: She's not going to drink the shakes because she doesn't think she needs to lose weight, and she believes women shouldn't get all wrapped up in image and a number on the scale. On yet another hand, she's endorsing Slimfast. Hmm...I'm not sure what to think, what about you?

Tobacco could kill one billion this century

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World Health Organization (WHO) experts have stated that one billion people will die of tobacco-related diseases this century. Sound pretty doomsday-ish to you? All things considered, it should not come as a surprise.

WHO's conclusions just today stated that governments in rich and poor countries need to really get serious about the prevention of smoking. With all the global smoking bans from Australia to Britain to Ireland to large cities in the U.S., perhaps this movement is underway.

Is this a good thing? That depends on your stance balancing personal freedom over the public health (generally when it comes to non-smokers). One thing is clear -- smoking clearly kills many of the people who engage in the activity. Does that mean it should be outlawed? Whose call will that be.

One minute is all it takes

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When you read the title of this post, did you get your hopes up, thinking I would tell you that one minute is all it takes to lose the weight and get in shape? I would love to tell you that, and I would love for it to be that easy but alas, it's not. ONE MINUTE is all it takes to sabotage your healthy lifestyle, to fall off the wagon ... for good.

In that one minute, you can gobble down some fries or you can use that minute to stop and consider your decision. This is what eDiets suggests you do in a minute to save your diet:

  • Slow down: Often, when we reach for that tub of ice cream, we're stressed, in a hurry and not thinking about what we're doing. So stop for a minute and take some time just to breathe.
  • Think: about what you're about to do, what you're going to lose if you do it. If you're stressed out, think about what's causing your stress, and how you can get away from it.
  • Open your mind: As you're thinking, let your thought flow freely. You might realize something you hadn't before
  • Pay attention: to your thoughts and what's causing them. You should find it easier to make a rational decision.

Get a shot, lose the pot belly

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Would you like to take some of that belly fat and grow it in another part of the body? According to a recent study on mice, this is apparently possible, and it could help health as well as beauty in humans -- possibly.

The study also suggested a link between stress and weight gain, which is interesting. The researchers were quick to suggest that this report was not meant for gross obesity reduction but for body re-sculpting.

Interesting stuff here -- it sounds like possible cosmetic procedures may be a benefit here more than weight loss or other kinds of weight reduction methods.