Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Yes, you can really be "sick and tired"

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The phrase "sick and tired" is probably a daily occurrence in many homes these days, and especially those with teenagers. But, that phrase has quite a bit more going on for it than just a simple frustration definition.

There is new research that links the biochemistry changes brought on by illness in general to changes in the body clock. Result? You re sick and tired at the same time, literally.

Many people I know go to work when they are sick for one reason or another (guilt, no time off, etc.) -- but doing so is quite a bit worse than staying home and recovering. Who benefits when you are tired? Just a bed or couch, and that's it.

Scary Spice: Victoris Beckham's cellulite shots

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While the controversy is raging over touching up photos to make them look impossibly perfect, there's another set of controversial photos floating around the Internet, but this time it's the opposite problem -- it's thought that photos of Victoria Beckham have been photoshopped to make her look worse, not better.

Check out these photos of Victoria Beckham
(or, more specifically, Victoria Beckham's cellulite) and let me know what you think. Are those really her legs? Can she have that much cellulite and be as skinny as she is? Victoria's friends say she doesn't exercise at all--instead she keeps slim by eating next to nothing--so she might be missing all-important muscle mass. But really, those legs look like they belong to a 90-year-old.

Nissin recalls shrimp-flavored noodle products

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I remember those college days when various brands of ramen noodles were a dietary mainstay. Offering quick and easy meal preparation, many kids these days still eat these by the case. At 10 for $1 at many stores, the penniless student can easily afford these mass quantities of food.

Well, Nissin Foods, a large maker of these types of noodle packages, has issued a voluntary recall of selected shrimp-flavored noodle products. Have shrimp-flavored ramen noddles around? Read on.

The shrimp flavoring used in these products was found to contain cod and lobster, which could trigger certain allergic reactions if consumed by those with allergies to certain types of seafood.

Can dairy lead to disease?

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I'm no fan of dairy products (except the occasional bite of cheese), just based on all the hormones used in cows that produce dairy products. For healthy intake of calcium (and calcium carbonate at that), there are much better sources. The "got milk" crowd, though, doesn't like to advertise this.

It's been postulate that girls are developing an earlier ages these days based on the influence of rGBH in milk products, and even more men are developing prostate cancer in countries where dairy products are consumed more.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but in any case, should you be drinking all that dairy milk and consuming all those dairy products every day? There are plenty of alternatives, but a shift in the outlook of nutritional habits must come first.

Caffeine and teens

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Growing up, I was always told that drinking coffee would stunt my growth. Plus, ick! Coffee wasn't tasty enough for me to beg my mom to drink it. My, how things change. These days, I am a bit of a coffee fiend. I drink a cup a day and I love it -- the taste, the warmth, everything. But I'm an adult now so it's ok.

But there's a growing trend out there -- teens drinking coffee. It's not so much that they're doing shots of espresso, they're into those sugary drinks from Starbucks. You know, the frapuccinos, the blended cremes. I can't really blame them. Those drinks are tasty, though I stay away because they're so bad for you.

What do you think of coffee and teens -- is it safe? Will these sugary, caffeine-and-fat-laden drinks contribute to weight problems? Is it really just a myth that coffee will stunt your growth?

Scientists "very close" to Alzhemier's cure

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Alzheimer's Disease has been under more and more investigation as the baby boomer generation starts retiring (70 million+ strong) and more cases being suspected in the near future. Are any "cures", though, on the horizon?

According to scientists, a new compound that prevents the vagaries of Alzheimer's from killing brain cells may be just around the corner, and experiments so far show that it is working very well.

These man-made compounds block nerve cell interaction that may begin and continue causing the brain-wasting disease. Will it be a commonplace treatment in the next decade or so? That would make for perfect timing I would imagine.

Are health insurers ready to reform themselves?

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I have yet to find anybody I talk to that is a fan of the health insurance industry. No surprise there: insurance premiums have gone overboard and coverage for certain ailments have become more comprehensive and confusing than the U.S. federal tax code.

However, America's health insurers may be more adept at looking at industry reform compared to a "no reform" stance from about a decade go. Make no mistake -- if it dents profits, the industry (like any other) won't touch it. Health of consumers is the furthest thing from the mind of corporate health insurance companies.

Well, that's my take, anyway. If the health insurance industry wants to "reform," I'd love to hear specifics on how this is going to be planned and carried out. So would the other 300 million people in the U.S.

Teens' sleep habits cause of antisocial behavior?

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Antisocial behavior in lean or massive form is a mainstay of being a teenager. But, does it have to be? New findings suggest that a teen's preference for sleep during the nighttime or daytime may have a direct impact on the level of antisocial behavior that teen exhibits.

Have a teen who likes to be a night owl? He or she may have more antisocial behavior than one who goes to sleep early and rises early. Does that teen participate in daytime activities? If not, propensity for antisocial behavior ensues.

I wonder if this has any biochemical basis or just marks a teen's outlook on conformity. Sleeping late and all that is generally perceived as "not normal," which could mark a teen's manner towards socially accepted behvavior. Just me two cents.

Fit Links: Mood Boosters

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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.

Do you know this feeling? You can feel that you're in a bad mood, and you don't want to be, but you're also not sure how to get out? I hate that feeling. Here's some of my favorite links with quick fixes for a bad mood:

US News: Health has a list of seven instant, classic mood boosters including exercise and meditation.

Good Housekeeping also has a list of mood boosters, with a few surprising ones, like scents. Who knew the scent of Play-Doh could have the power change your outlook on life?

Redbook has also compiled a list of suggestions for fixing a bad mood fast. Their list includes a bit of everything, from physical (specific pilates moves) to ironing your favorite shirt. Hey... whatever works!

Note: If your bad mood isn't just temporary and a quick fix is definitely not enough, talk to your doctor about depression.
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Daily Fit Tip: Get out the map

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Gas prices are soaring again, and if it hurts you to see that gas bill add up at the pump, consider giving your car a break this summer. Get out a map of your city and find your home, then use a compass to draw a 1-mile radius around it. Then figure out how many places you frequently visit fall within that radius and commit to only walking to those locations. If you're in great shape or want to push yourself harder, make your radius even bigger. Not only will you cut down on gas used running to the video store, library, or post office, you also might discover a great local market you never knew about. And best of all, you'll be working out while you run your errands -- now that's multitasking!
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You Are What You Eat: Watermelon, more than just a picnic treat

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watermelonEach 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!

Watermelon conjures images of summers past . . . the juice dripping down my chin, watermelon seed spitting contests with my siblings and the ever-present watermelon poolside, next to the corn on the cob on my plate and served by the giant slice for dessert.

This trip down memory lane rejuvenates my fondness for watermelon, but did you know that it is nutritious, too?

Fellow blogger Bethany writes about room temperature watermelon having more antioxidants than refrigerated melon. WebMD tells us of watermelon's high lycopene content, that watermelons are ninety-two percent water and that they are actually not a fruit at all, but a vegetable.

As if that is not enough, how about the high content of vitamins C ad A? Seems to me we should all be eating lots of watermelon.

Continue reading You Are What You Eat: Watermelon, more than just a picnic treat

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Exercise or not exercise? Housework is the question

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Is housework physical activity? Sure. Does housework burn calories? Of course. Does it count as real exercise? That's where the argument comes in. Depending on who you talk to, housework is either a workout waiting to happen or it's just a means for people to fool themselves that they're getting exercise. My personal opinion is that although housework is a great way to be active (especially if you really throw yourself into it) it's more of a supplement to an exercise plan than an entire exercise plan all by itself. This article makes a lot of good points about why housework doesn't count as a good fitness regimen, including the lack of increased resistance as you get healthier and the fact that many tasks are done fairly quickly so hour long calorie-burning charts aren't realistic.

Plant shut down in wake of botulism scare

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It seems this botulism scare from late last week continues to get messy every new day. In the latest news, a production facility in Augusta, Georgia was closed yesterday after 16 cans of chili sauce tested positive for botulism over the weekend.

The plan belonged to Casteleberry's, and with that brand and others like Austex and Wal-Mart's "Great Value" brand in the mix as well, there are probably many more botulism cans sitting in pantries everywhere right now. Remember, this is summer cookout season.

However, Castleberry's is doing the right thing by hiring an outside firm to visit up to 8,500 stores across the nation and check for recalled product on the shelves.

The coughing and screaming ashtray

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I don't smoke, but if I did and somebody gave me this ashtray I don't know if I would laugh or cry. I think at this point even the die-hard smokers who have no intention of quitting know it's an unhealthy habit, but this might be taking things a little far even for someone like that. It's an ashtray that not only looks like a real pair of lungs (I've seen them before) but it screams and coughs when you put a cigarette in it. How long will somebody actually use this thing before it gets the batteries taken out or gets kicked across the room?

Via Book of Joe

Many fertility clinics found to be wasteful

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Looks like some fertility clinics are under fire for using unneeded procedures in clinics. The uproar centers around all those bills sent to insurance companies.

Many clinics are using the "sperm injection" method to create an in vitro fertilization situation when the "lab dish" method is much cheaper and actually works better. Why this is happening is unknown, but it does add $1,500 to the cost of the fertility procedure.

It'll be interesting to hear why this technique is being used so much. Are clinics trying to reap more profit from these procedures or are they easier? Who knows.

Diet soda and regular soda show same heart disease influences

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It's a hard decision for many of us -- to drink regular soda or diet soda. One has refined sugar and way too many empty calories, while the other has less calories but artificial sweeteners.

But those who drink diet drinks may have reason to partially celebrate that activity (for what it is worth), as heart disease rates between the drinkers or normal sodas and diet sodas are roughly the same.

Scientists thought that diet soda drinkers may eat more sugary treats, causing more cases of heart disease. But, when it comes to heart issues, all soft drink drinkers are the same it appears.

Household cleaning products linked to fertility problems

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How much do you know about your household cleaning products? According to a recent report, what you don't know might surprise you.

Women's Voices for the Earth, a Montana-based nonprofit, has shown that a number common household cleaning products -- such as Windex Aerosal, Formula 409, Lemon Fresh Pine-Sol and more -- contain hidden toxic chemicals that caused fertility disorders in lab animals.

The chemical is called EGBE, and people exposed to high levels of it have reported nose and eye irritation, headaches, vomiting and a metallic taste in their mouth (this in addition to the reproductive problems found in animals who were exposed).

But what's most alarming, is that companies aren't required to list EGBE on their product labels. It used to be on the federal list of hazardous air pollutants, and is still makes the list in the state of California, but after industry representatives convinced health officials that there was no proof the chemical caused harm to human beings, it was taken off.

For a full list of products that contain EGBE, along with suggestions for more chemical-free alternatives, read this post on The Daily Green.

25% of NYC adults have high mercury levels

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If you live in New York City, then you probably have a craving for seafood every once in a while. No problem there, as long as you don't mind some toxic mercury with that sea bass.

A new survey has found that one in four NYC adults has an elevated level of mercury inside their body. Rates were higher within more affluent groups and within the Asian population, both of which eat more fish than lower-income residents.

A tiny amount of mercury inside the human body can be devastating, so the suggestion after this survey was released was for children under 6 years old and pregnant and breast-feeding women to avoid fish with high mercury contents. Heck, is there any other kind?

Don't let summer parties kill your diet

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Whether you're headed to a big deal family reunion or just down to the lake for the day, food and vacation time are a dangerous mix when it comes to sticking to your diet and healthy eating plan. It's just too darn easy to come up with excuses why having one more bite of this and one more of those is okay, and before you know it you've packed on 5 pounds and fallen completely off the wagon. So try these 4 tips to reduce summer party temptations:
  • Slow down and really taste your food
  • Avoid eating out every day
  • Take an active break
  • Plan ahead to avoid vending machines

Childhood obesity: Are working mothers to blame?

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While some think that childhood obesity is influenced by fathers, there are others who think it's actually the mothers that have the most impact on their kids' waistline. More specifically, it's thought that when mothers started to enter the workforce, it coincided with childhood obesity and the beginning of this epidemic we're facing. It's thought that this comes down to the simple fact that busy mothers have less time to devote to making meals and therefore resort to high-fat fast food.

I think blaming any one source for obesity is futile -- causes of weight gain are all around us, from the lack of activity in school to parents hesitation to let their kids play outside unattended to video games to child-targeted fast food marketing. And as a product of a household where both parents worked full-time, I can honestly say that not all working parents provide unhealthy meals, and if they're committed to forging healthy habits in their children, there are lots of options out there.