Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Meat's unnatural red look under the microscope

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Bethany's post this week on red dye causing cancer was of no surprise to me. If you've read my earlier coverage on the effects of Sodium Nitrite on the human body, it still amazes me that people continue to judge cuts of meat on how "red" they are.

Folks, that is artificial -- plain and simple. There is nothing real about that strip steak in the meat section of your local grocer that is so bright red it glows. That picture to the right? Why, it's sodium nitrite, of course. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Wrong.

After having extensively researched Sodium Nitrite using Google Scholar, I was amazed that the additive is still allowed in meat. With this week's Britain-based revelation that another red meat dye was being linked to cancer, I had to ask: "when will food authorities get a clue?"

Perhaps never. But, if you're really interested in what makes that steak bright red (instead of gray like it should be), have fun reading over here.

Book Review: Fat Girl by Judith Moore

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I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up Fat Girl by Judith Moore at the library. But I'm glad I checked it out anyway because I couldn't put it down. It's a book that will appeal to anyone who has seen their weight yo-yo through a series of life events punctuated by seemingly endless diets; who has experienced loss, tragedy or self-loathing; who has felt fat, ashamed and unloved. The book is autobiographical and Moore tells the story of her life with an honesty that is all at once touching and tragic. Moore's struggle with weight began in her childhood and, with an absent father and a bitterly cruel mother, her shame about her body grew more and more everyday. Yet she doesn't feel sorry for herself -- she just tells it how it is.

If you've struggled with weight and body confidence (who hasn't?), you should pick this book up. For me, it was unforgettable. Or, if you've read it, let me know what you thought.

Is Rachel Ray developing a weight-loss program?

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I'll admit -- I have a teensy crush on Rachel Ray. She's funny, she's cute and she can cook like nobody's business. Her meals are usually pretty healthy, but how great would it be if she started dishing out calorie-conscious recipes? Well, that's exactly what she's going to start doing, according to this article, all in an effort to lose the extra pounds she gained from the stress of being in the spotlight -- and being surrounded by food all day.

The 5'3 TV star and authoress is going to start coming up with healthy concoctions while her show's on hiatus, and then she's going to share them with us when she's back on TV.

Will you be watching?

Animal nutrition cited in environmental sustainability conference

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Garbage in, garbage out. That is the theme that should go through the mind of every person who eats meat, but I doubt it does. Do you have any idea of the quality of food that cows and chickens eat?

That has a direct effect on how nutritious that meat is when you eat it, and unless "free range" or "organic" is part of your vocabulary, you probably do not want to know much about the nutrition of many animals used for human food.

What about the waste these animals leave behind? That also is a reflection of what they eat, and much of this waste finds its way into the public water system as well. Last month, the sustainability of animal nutrition was discussed in Canada with global experts to talk about this. Want to see what was talked about? See this.

A review of the Martha's Vineyard Diet

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Brian's post from a few days ago on the Martha's Vineyard Diet and the promise that you can lose 21 Pounds in 21 Days has been one of ur more popular pages, and rightly so -- who wouldn't be curious at the idea of losing 21 pounds in 3 weeks? As for whether it's legit, well, that's another story.

AOL's fitness team has put together a review of the Martha's Vineyard Diet.
In a nutshell, here's what they have to say about it:
  • It's not healthy -- the diet doesn't include adequate amounts of protein and fat
  • The book makes many false claims -- including the claim that you can build muscle on the diet, which, without protein or resistance training, isn't possible. And anyway, who would have the energy to go to the gym on this type of eating plan?
  • The author also makes outrageous and frankly bizarre claims that have nutritionists and doctors confused. An example? She suggests jumping on a trampoline to relieve pressure to your lymphatic system
  • The 'science' behind the diet is unsubstantiated
  • My favourite part of the review: "Take the Cabbage Soup Diet, substitute cabbage with a variety of other veggies and fruits, then throw in an uncomfortable enema and you have the Martha's Vineyard Diet"
Hmph. That's definitely some food (or juice) for thought. Do you agree? Disagree?

Is Weight Watchers for you?

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I know lots of people who are trying or have tried Weight Watchers at some point in their life. Most have given up on it or lost a few pounds but gained them all back, but some have done really well on the program, including my friend Fran. Promising that you can eat anything in moderation, the weight-loss program is one of the most popular in the world. Is it for you? Here's a brief explanation, courtesy of AOL Body;

The main tenet (of Weight Watchers) is to consume fewer calories than you expend. Instead of counting calories, however, you'll either track your consumption using a POINTS system or use the no-counting Core Plan in which you select foods from a detailed list.

The plan basically follows a low-fat, high-fibre model, and for $12-$14 a month, you have access to materials outlining plan, plus you can attend meetings which help keep you on track. Fitness is encouraged, and you're welcome to eat out -- the POINTS program has an extensive list of the values of popular menu items. The plan is nothing is not flexible, which is one of it's main selling points.

What do you think of Weight Watchers?

Another reason to recycle: Methane

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Thanks to Al Gore, we're all getting a little more aware of CO2 emissions and global warming. But here's another threat to our earth, and it comes from the garbage dump: Methane. Methane is produced by landfills, that place where most of your garbage is probably going. And methane in the atmosphere traps more heat than CO2 -- by a lot.

If we all took steps to reduce the amount of garbage our family produces -- by recycling, re-using, composting and buying products with environmentally-friendly packaging -- I think it would be a major step towards making this earth livable for future generations. Don't you agree?

Via Fitsugar.

National school nutrition meeting occurs in Chicago

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Next week will be a busy week in the Windy City, as 6,000 school nutrition professionals representing all U.S. states will be in Chicago to talk about nutritional standards in public schools, among other things.

A year ago, a federal law was enacted to require public school districts to have a wellness policy drafted and implemented (there was leeway in the details, of course). I'm sure policies will be talked about at the meeting, along with some being winners and some not so much.

The real meat (no pun intended) of the meeting will be to see which states continue to have junk food and such served at public schools -- and why that is still happening. Costs are always a barrier, but with the health of millions of children at stake, harsh discussion is always warranted in this arena.

Shy people die younger

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Are you the life of the party, or the guy who hides in the corner by the food? Your confidence in these sorts of situations might seem like it wouldn't effect much beyond your social life, but a recent study finds that being shy could mean serious consequences for your health.

Conducted by Northwestern University, the 30-year study concluded that men who are antisocial are 50 percent more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than their more outgoing counterparts.

There's a few possible reasons for this correlation, though the exact cause isn't entirely clear. Some speculate that it's merely because those who are shy are generally of lower social status, which is also known to cause poor health. Others, however, think the two are related -- noting that those who feel socially inferior could adopt unhealthy lifestyle choices as a result. Still others suggest that gregarious people are generally type "B" (easy-going) personalities -- the only personality type that isn't associated with an increased risk of serious disease.

While there's still questions left to be answered, the results do highlight the importance of social anxiety when assessing a person's overall health.

You can't bank your sleep

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Once you loose out on sleep that's it, there's no turning back. Yes that's right, all you insomniacs who promise to catch up on your sleep tomorrow, can forget it.

A common misconception about losing out on sleep is that you have the opportunity to bank your REM hours, but the fact is that once the body misses out on a good night sleep, the damage is already done. And on top of that, the effects of not getting your necessary eight hours of sleep per night can rish your good health. In fact, health problems such as diabetes and obesity can result from lack of sleep. The longer you are awake the more you tend to eat and it will usually be something easy like junk food.

I find the best thing to do in order to maintain a healthy sleep pattern is to stick to some sort of routine. Once your body gets used to eating and exercising at the same time each night, bedtime should follow.

How do you maintain full eight hours of sleep?

America's best hospitals also great at heart attack survival rates

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Top-ranked hospitals recently ranked at the top spots by a national magazine unsurprisingly rank at the top of the list when it comes to heart attack survival rates.

U.S. News and World Report ran a report recently ranking top hospitals in the nation, and a new analysis of that data showed that the 30-day mortality rate for heart attack patients was lower than at lower-ranked hospitals.

Oddly though, some unranked hospitals seemed to have the highest heart attack survival rates out of all hospitals while some top-ranked hospitals had worse survival rates. Weird!

If you make one nutrition change, it should be this

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Remember when you were young and could basically eat anything? Well, let's face it ... those days are over.

Now, the main reason most adults (and children for that matter) gain weight is quite simple: they eat more calories than they burn. So it goes without saying that your diet is an essential part of your weight loss program.

There are a few ways ways to control your diet, but the two most popular are: calorie counting and portion control.

I suggest trying to control your portions. It's much easier and by doing so, you'll naturally start to reduce your caloric intake. We've all heard the old adage 'all things in moderation.' That theory is all it takes to arrive at and maintain your natural weight. Understanding the serving size on the Nutrition Facts Label is important for controlling your portions. When you serving size goes up, so do the calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Remember to stay away from processed food. Keep it real and stick to the foods that your great-grandmother had available to her.

Here are some tips to estimate portion sizes:

Continue reading If you make one nutrition change, it should be this

New blood test detects Alzheimer's Disease

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Recent research from Britain may lead to a blood test soon that can detect Alzheimer's Disease before it becomes fully engaged with the body. There are big things at stake here, as the treatment alone for Alzheimer's Disease must cost the medical establishments around the world billions per year.

Cases of dementia in Britain is expected to surpass one million residents in the next two decades -- which will strain a medical system that, most likely, is not prepared to deal with that large a number.

Catching Alzheimer's Disease in patients before it is too late may allow experts to devise treatment methods that are effective before the disease progresses into a stage where not much can be done. If something as simple as a blood test can do this accurately, it will indeed be a breakthrough.

Summer camps help kids get fit while having fun

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The growing number of overweight children has fostered a small but vigorous burst of summer weight-loss camps opening across the country. And while I endorse these programs for children who have been 20-30 pounds overweight for the past year or more ... I'd love to see more parents encouraging activity before such drastic measures are needed .

Today, kids can choose among adrenaline-pumping, action-packed camps that teach rock-climbing, surfing, and white-water rafting. They can master basketball or tennis with world-class college coaches, or they can bike their way up and down mountains in Montana -- at these camps, children improve their fitness levels while learning skills, gaining confidence, and making friends -- they don't even realize they are exercising. And, really isn't that what you want for your kids? I feel that promoting an active lifestyle is much more beneficial than sending kids off to weight-loss camps (unless it's the only option.)

Summer camps are suppose to be fun, and sadly, weight-loss camps -- while needed -- are more often a reminder to kids of their bigger issues and when they leave, they have the added pressure to sustain their weight loss at home.

So, to help your children get in shape, before they get out of it, I've found a list of camps at Adventure-camp.com that will help you to find the perfect place for your child.

Soda and your teeth: A bad combination

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In addition to the many many many reasons not to drink soda, here's another: It rots your teeth. Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? I mean, with all that sugar and calcium-sucking acidic carbonation, how could it not? I think the real question is: Why is the soda industry doing better than ever, now that we know all we do about how bad it is for us? Or to paraphrase: Why are we still drinking it in huge quantities?

I consider myself lucky because growing up, I wasn't allowed soda, and these days I still don't have a taste for it. My parents weren't health nuts either -- they were just old fashioned and believed that homemade was better than mass-produced. So to me it really is baffling that people can't give up soda. What is it? The taste? The caffeine? The carbonation? Are we slaves to the advertising? I'll take healthy teeth, bones and body over a coke any days.

Daily Fit Tip: Pinch your nose and lose weight

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I just read in Men's Health magazine that if you pinch your nostrils for ten seconds, you'll curb your cravings. Since your stomach signals hunger and your brain signals 'cravings'.......this ancient Chinese acupressure point will help you pass on the donuts. In all of my years teaching fitness I've never heard such a thing, but you never know. Right? At least this strategy doesn't cost anything.

I personally imagine that the act of pinching, not picking, my nose for ten seconds on purpose would simply distract me from anything else in the world I may have been focusing on. Including food. So maybe the practice will work, because it seems so silly. My only non-Chinese or ancient advice is to do it with a tissue.

How Many Calories... in KFC coleslaw?

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At Kentucky Fried Chicken, if you're watching your calorie intake, everything except the actual Kentucky Fried Chicken can start to look like a relatively good choice. Coleslaw sounds especially healthy since it isn't fried in grease and also is made with fresh cabbage. Plus, on a hot summer day, cool coleslaw can sound like a really refreshing alternative to other sides like mashed potatoes.

The cabbage is healthy, but it's smothered in sauce. How many calories are in one serving of KFC coleslaw? The answer will also give you a rough idea of how many calories are in each serving of coleslaw at that company picnic, too.

A) 150 calories
B) 231 calories
C) 325 calories
D) 412 calories

Continue reading How Many Calories... in KFC coleslaw?

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Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

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Have fitness questions? Fitz has your answer. Our ThatsFit.com fitness expert -- and now your own virtual personal trainer -- will help you get fit, increase your overall health and do it in a fun way. Drop your questions here in the Comments section below and we'll choose two per week to publish on That's Fit! Learn more about Fitz here.

Q. Dear Fitz: I have two kids and I admit to going through the McDonald's drive through a few times a month out of convenience. Is that really such a bad thing? Angie

A. Hey Angie. Going through the McDonald's drive through a few times a month is certainly not a bad thing....if you order wisely. Grab the grilled chicken sandwich for each child and order some apple slices or a yogurt parfait to go with it. Two percent milk or water to drink.

Angie, the key to this whole 'raising healthy children' thing is to have standards. High standards. I assume you wouldn't put vinegar or catsup in your cars' gas tank, would you? Those items probably wouldn't do a whole lot of good for it. Have the same standards for the most precious people in your life. The greasy and sugary crap sold at the golden arches is just that. Crap! And, McDonald's offers healthy options now. You don't need to even consider nuggets and fries. Those items are not acceptable for your perfect little people.

Last year, my mother took my then 3 year old daughter, Ginger, out and bought her fries at McDonald's. Sure that one time didn't kill her, but now she knows the fries are there. So on the rare occasion we hit a Mickey D's, Ginger asks for some fries. I order a healthy meal, and let Ginger know that "I love her too much to put unhealthy fried food in her body". I follow that up with. "honey, if you'd like fries I'll bake you some at home". That way we both win. Go to McDonald's Angie, just educate your kids on the importance of healthy living and the ease in which it can be maintained. Fitz

Q. How's it going, Fitz? I've recently lost 43 pounds and surprisingly I lost a shoe size too. Is that normal? My wife thinks I'm imagining things. Reggie.

Continue reading Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered

Workplace Fitness: Moves for where you work

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Except for the few of us who are independently wealthy, we all have to do some kind of work everyday in order to live. And as the our technology advances more and more of the jobs available involve sitting for large portions of the day, if not the whole day, at a desk or computer. If you find yourself feeling stiff, achy, or in outright pain then you need to do something to help your body stay healthy and deal with the 'strain of sitting.' Obviously we all have different situations in our offices and working environments, so here are a few suggestions to help you strengthen, stretch, and relieve muscles based on some of the most common:

In a cubicle:
For cardio try alternating pumping both your arms up over your head rapidly for thirty seconds followed by alternating tapping your feet on the ground (think football drill) rapidly for thirty seconds. Just don't do it too hard -- tapping, not stomping, because other people are trying to work!

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Moves for where you work

Fat on the inside? A blood test may someday tell you

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A few months ago, Martha wrote about people who were "tofi" -- or thin on the outside but fat on the inside. The term describes a group of people who appear to be thin, but actually carry dangerous body fat around their internal organs. Because weight-related health is often assessed by measuring a person's waistline, this hidden fat can be easily missed. A CT scan can sometimes pick up the presence of the fat, but it's costly and who really wants to put themselves through an unnecessary procedure?

A new blood test may be in the works that can find hidden fat in lean patients. It screens people for a protein called RBP4, which is elevated in those who have a significant amount of abdominal fat. RBP4 has also been linked to pre-diabetes, and health experts believe that they can create a quick and inexpensive blood test to detect the protein in a patients blood. Will it someday become part of a routine screening? Who knows, but it's intriguing...especially for those who think they are at risk.

Which is more important: The egg or the yolk?

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The answer to this question seems pretty simple. Egg whites are all the rage today -- to the extent that you can even buy them on their own, sans yolks. It's pretty clear why they're so popular; Egg whites are a low-fat source of protein that are free of the saturated fat and cholesterol that the yellow stuff has.

But here's some news that might surprise you: In addition to having all the bad stuff, yolks also have all the good stuff too. According to Fitsugar, yolks have less sodium and more calcium, vitamin D and folate than whites. So next time you whip up that egg-white omelet, leave a yolk -- just one should be enough.

I personally prefer my eggs with yolks, but I don't eat them enough for it to be a big problem. What about you? Are you an egg white or egg yolk person?

We love to gawk at fit celebs: Brooke rolls with it

I adore Brooke Shields. I love that she seems to epitomize the fit and fabulous mama just trying to keep herself and her girls happy and healthy. I love that she was honest about her post-partum depression and treatment and that she stood up for herself when Tom Cruise got all wing-nutty (again) about it. I'm slightly confused about how she became friends with Cruise after all that, but I like to think it is all part of a bigger mission to rescue Katie Holmes. But anyway...

Here is one more reason to love Brooke: This picture snapped of her getting in a workout with daughters Grier and Rowan along for the ride. Although this was taken in Pacific Palisades, she looks like many of the mamas in my own neighborhood (minus a slightly-neglected black lab on a leash tied to the stroller handlebar).

If her jogging stroller's as heavy as mine, I know Brooke's getting a good blood-pumping run in, especially with two kids in tow.

[via: People]

Faceblindness: Never remember a familiar face

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It's happened to most of us: You see someone familiar in a setting where you don't expect them -- maybe your pharmacist at a restaurant or a co-worker's husband at the grocery store -- and it takes you a second to place them. Sometimes, this can lead to awkward situations when you can't figure out how you know them and you fumble a little until you finally figure it out or admit that you're at a loss. Now, imagine this happening every day, even with the people who are closest to you.

It's called prosopagnosia, or faceblindness and it affects about 2% of the population. Those who suffer from it don't recall facial features as easily as the rest of us and have difficulty recognizing a familiar person. The condition can be mild -- occasionally not recognizing people -- or can be severe enough that sufferers may take years to learn the faces of their own family members.

Coping skills include learning to recognize voices, hair color, glasses, or other unique non-facial features and having family and friends help them out when necessary. Obviously, it's a condition that can lead to some interesting social scenarios, so I think that being open and honest about the condition probably is a priority as well.

Diabetes risk linked to selenium supplements

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Selenium is a part of the daily nutritional supplement regime for millions of people, but taking selenium by itself may have an ill effect on those hoping to ward off diabetes.

Researchers stated that people taking selenium supplements may actually be increasing their odds of developing diabetes, which came as a shock to me. I'm one of those that take the mineral daily as part of a combined nutritional supplement approach. Although supplement synergy is at hand in my strategy, this story caught my attention.

The research seems to point to people who take selenium in an isolated way, and those that do increased their risk to develop diabetes by more than half compared to those that did not take selenium supplements. More research on this is needed, but this initial study warrants some more reading I believe. For me, anyway. How about you?

How young is too young for a spa?

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I spent the last week in the company of four young children, and had I told them that they had to get off the swing set/come off the beach/quit playing in the dirt to head for a treatment at the spot, I would have had an argument on my hands (and been outnumbered). Kids play, grown ups treat themselves to the spa, right? Not always.

Spas are seeing an increasing number of young customers, so much so that many are creating packages just for families or kids. Some have even created a separate spa to accommodate their newest customers. But is spa going really healthy for kids? It depends on who you talk to. Critics say that manicures, pedicures, and facials teach kids that life is all about looking good and takes away from crucial life lessons kids should be learning. Proponents say that many spas offer massages and other alternative therapies and teach kids the basics of good hygiene. (Can't that be taught with a toothbrush and nail clippers?)

Though my girls love to have their toes painted now and then, I won't be pulling them out of the sandbox anytime soon to visit a spa. What about you? How young is too young to visit a spa?

Fit Mama: The hills are alive...

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This is pretty sad. I am just now getting to the point where I can post what I've written below. Between being a mommy, taking a road trip to see the families, taking the kiddo to the doctor twice about a face rash and trying to get my life in order (I recently got a new job) I've had precious little time to exercise, and even less time to write about it!

That said, and without further ado, I would like to point out that although it's been, er, steep, I have kept running....

The hills in Prospect Park are alive...with the sound of my grunting as I shimmy up them. I wouldn't exactly say I run up these hills, but I'm not walking either. It's tough getting back in shape after a baby, and these hills are a constant reminder of that.

Still, progress has been made. I am able to get up the hills, even the big one that is such a nemesis we've given her a name, Sheila. Sheila has three curves to her, the third of which is hidden until you make it to the top of the second curve, which is also the steepest. What's interesting to me is that Sheila is my enemy no more.

Continue reading Fit Mama: The hills are alive...

Oklahoma scientists looking at HIV differently

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Research into the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS has been going strong for about two decades now, with some success and high-end drugs that have helped those with HIV live fuller (and longer) lives. Two microbiologists at the University of Oklahoma have a different way at looking at the problem, though.

Mark Lang and John West intend to study the basic aspects of the immune system instead of focusing on the complex aspects of the virus in an attempt to shed new light into what can be done to help the human body rid itself of HIV.

The two have postulated that understanding the immune system more in-depth may be more important than targeting HIV itself. In fact, Lang stated that "we've only been able to fully understand the immune system's function in the last five years" in an attempt to state that focus may need to change from where it has been to where it needs to go for a potential breakthrough.

A first-timer's guide to the gym

Here at That's Fit, we're big fans of loyal reader (and commenter) Crabby McSlacker. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should, and you should start with this funny (and so true) post about the gym -- more specifically, what to do and not to do when you're just starting out at one. Joining a new gym can be pretty intimidating -- whether you're a seasoned pro or a newcomer. But as Crabby points out, if you're avoiding the gym because you're out of shape and afraid you'll stick out like a sore thumb, don't worry about it. People who go to the gym have a passion for healthy living, and I for one find it really inspiring to see a first-timer putting their fears aside in the interest of health.

Anyway, here's a short version of Crabby's list of things you should not do at the gym:

Continue reading A first-timer's guide to the gym

90% of newborns now tested for various genetic conditions

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If you've recently become a parent to a new baby, you probably know that your new family addition has been tested for a whole battery of rare but potentially deadly genetic disorders before it eve leaves the hospital.

In fact, recent research shows that about 90 percent of newborns are now screened for nearly 30 genetic conditions that can lead to earth death or other serious medical problems.

Although there are no federal guidelines on genetic testing of this type, many states have taken upon themselves to do this. Everything from cystic fibrosis to sickle cell anemia is on the list. The March of Dimes estimates that just 38 percent of babies were born in states with intensive screening in 2005, and that number is expected to jump to nearly 88 percent this year. That's quite a leap indeed.

Breathe less to curb asthma symptoms

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Asthmatics usually feel like their goal is to breathe more, because attacks can leave us feeling breathless. But according to practitioners of the Buteyko method, what we all should be doing -- asthmatic or not -- is breathing less.

Over breathing, or chronic hyperventilation, has been linked to a litany of health problems, including asthma, but also conditions like allergies, snoring, sleep apnea, and heart palpitations, among others. The Buteyko method teaches patients to breathe less through reduced breathing exercises, slowly and naturally raising body's CO2 set point. In clinical trials, asthmatics saw a 90% drop in the use of bronchodilaters and reduced the use of inhaled steroids by about 50%. (Buteyko practitioners do not recommend stopping any asthma medications and encourage patients to use emergency inhalers when necessary. When symptoms improve, patients are taught only to reduce the use of preventer medication ONLY with the help of their doctor.)

My own asthma flared this spring and refused to respond to an increase in medications, which led me to Buteyko. I read a book and ordered a DVD, but ultimately ended up meeting with a trainer anyway and was glad I did. In the month that I've been learning the techniques, I've seen my own reduction of bronchodilater use and hope that as I get better and more consistent with the reduced breathing exercises, I see an even bigger reduction of symptoms.

For more information about Buteyko or to find a practitioner, visit the Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health.

It's harder to "get" jokes as you age

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It's a common stereotype: old people don't get jokes. Usually, the assumption is that older folks miss out on humor because of the generation gap, but recent research suggests that it's something more.

Apparently the real reason older adults have difficulty understanding jokes is because they have problems with cognitive flexibility, abstract reasoning and short-term memory.

Researchers created a test in which two groups were supposed to select the most-appropriate punchline to a joke from 1983 -- that way, participants didn't have to be familiar with contemporary pop culture to find it funny, and everyone would theoretically have the same chance of getting it right. However, the study's authors found that younger adults were 6 percent more likely to answer correctly than their older counterparts.

Of course, humor is a subjective thing -- some people, I'm sure, failed the test simply because they didn't have a sense of humor.

Fruit and fish to the rescue for teenage asthma

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As I posted on yesterday, a recent study has linked the typical teenage diet in the U.S. to poor lung function during those critical years. What, then, are the best things to eat to promote healthy lung function? The answer came from the same study.

Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids are a great part of an everyday healthy diet. But to those teens who may be suffering from asthma and related bronchial conditions, certain Vitamin C-containing fruits and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may be better at taming those symptoms.

A new study points out that both Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids, when depleted in the bodies of teenagers, caused an increase in respiratory symptoms and had lower pulmonary function than those with a higher intake of these two nutritional staples. Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids are good to have in our diet at any age, but if those teens can slow down to eat right, they may not get tired from running those busy social lives.

Are you an ambivalent vegetarian?

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I have been struggling for months to adopt a (mostly) vegetarian diet. Though I don't believe it's cruel to eat an animal, I do think the conditions in which most of our livestock are horrific and I don't want my food dollars to support them any longer. If I could find a good source of local, grass-fed, free-range/pastured, humanely treated poultry and beef, I'd likely let them back into my diet, at least occasionally. But for now -- most of the time -- I'm a semi-vegetarian who still eats fish. My ambivalence was never more obvious to me, however, then last week while on vacation, where I quickly returned to my carnivorous ways despite the pangs of guilt I felt after each meal.

So when I came across this essay today, I could relate on so many levels. The author does a fantastic job of touching on so many issues that we ambivalent vegetarians deal with -- the love of a good (meaty) meal, the desire not to be the squeaky wheel, and the guilt that comes when we finally do indulge ourselves. If you're thinking of becoming a vegetarian, are trying the lifestyle on for size, or have given up because you just couldn't do it, it's definitely worth a read.