Thursday, 27 September 2007

Less stress = less fat

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Do you gain weight when you're stressed out? You're not alone. The majority of people seem to pack on pounds when they're extra busy or when something's worrying them. It might seem like stress leads to over-eating but that's only part of the answer -- a new study shows that stress triggers chemicals in your body to store more fat. I suspect this is an evolutionary response -- your body prepares itself for the event that food is scarce.

So if you're trying to lose weight, try your best to eliminate stress from your life. Conveniently, exercise is a great stress reliever -- particularly a gentle walk during or after a hurried day at the office. And remember to take it easy and you put yourself first sometimes.

How do you de-stress?

Seals of approval are bought

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At my grocery store, there are a number of items that carry seals of approval from the heart and cancer organizations. To me, this seal of approval should mean that said item is heart healthy or shown to help fight cancer -- don't you agree? But according to this post from CNN's Dr. Gupta, these seals of approval don't mean much -- they just show that the manufacturer has tossed some money at organization.

Want examples? Wrigley's gum plaid $36,000 to get a seal of approval from the American Dental Association. And Neutrogena pays $300,000 a year to get the seal of approval from the American Cancer Society. It seems so wrong, and yet organizations like these need money in order to fund research.

What do you think about this practice? Is it despicable or necessary? Should companies be able to 'buy' a seal of approval?

1 in 12 outpatient visits are preventative check-ups

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Preventive health check-ups account for about one in every 12 outpatient visits to doctors, according to Pittsburgh researchers.

About 63.5 million adults had a preventive health or gynecological check-up each year between 2002 and 2004, with an average annual cost of about $7.8 billion.

Of course, the data in the survey was from doctors themselves, who responded with the 12 percent representation. Of the doctors who participated, just under 5,400 patients came in for preventive check-ups and just over 3,000 were in for gynecological exams, out of a total of 181,173 patients.

The most popular preventive exams from the surveyed doctors included mammograms, cholesterol screening and smoking cessation.

Merck to donate one million cervical cancer vaccine doses

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In what could be interpreted as a PR move or an act of genuine goodness, drug giant Merck has plans to give up to one million doses of its cancer drug Gardisil away for free.

Up to one million women in some of the world's poorest countries will be given the drug donations, which will be given in three shots spread over three months.

Cervical cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide according to Merck, is highly preventable in many cases since the cause stems from a viral infection, usually by unprotected sexual contact.

In many cases, it can be prevented by prudent sexual practices as well as preventive screening, which can detect the early stages of cervical cancer.

Congress votes to limit 'popcorn lung' chemical exposure

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After the recent "popcorn lung" incident was discovered, the U.S. Congress acted this week to limit the exposure to workers who are employed at plants that produce microwave (and other) popcorn, citing exposure to diacetyl. Diacetyl is a common butter flavoring used on many butter-flavored popcorn products.

Stating that further delays could cost lives, Congress dismissed OSHA's non-stance on safe exposure levels of diacetyl, while the Republicans in the U.S. House hastened the move as being "premature."

Although diacetyl is found naturally in many foods (cheese and butter, for example), the concentrations inhaled by popcorn factory workers have been blamed for lawsuits claiming illness due to bronchiolitis obliterans -- otherwise known as "popcorn lung."

Happy News: Food can improve your mood

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DiYLife blogger Francesca Clarke wrote recently about 11 foods with the power to increase energy and improve mood. No need for supplements and special drinks, says Clarke. These tasty treats will do the trick all on their own.

As you plan your meals for the days to come, consider incorporating these feel-good items. Some are pretty darn appetizing. Check out the last one. Now that's an invitation for happiness -- but only if pursued with moderation, of course.
  • Milk
  • Chocolate
  • Whole grain rice or pasta
  • Mackerel
  • Broccoli
  • Coffee
  • Turkey
  • Liver
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil nuts
  • Any food that tastes good
Here's to good food and good moods!

Should you encourage kids toward certain sports?

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The best rowers and swimmers are generally tall. The best distance runners are lightweight and small. While there are occasional exceptions, research and physics have shown body size does matter when it comes to success at the elite level of sports.

So do you encourage young athletes toward sports that best fit their physical gifts or do you support their love of a certain game? Perhaps you could offer both or maybe it's not even a parent or mentor's business to share opinions at all. But what about coaches? Should a cross-country coach intervene and guide a tall teenager toward the swim team instead?

This thoughtful article in The New York Times makes you ponder these questions. If you ask me, I believe heart matters most. Expose kids to different sports and cheer them on as they vacillate toward the sports they enjoy -- physics, motivation and luck will take care of the rest.

Dieting and exercise with asthma takes a special strategy

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As most asthmatics probably know, there is no special diet for curbing asthma. Asthma's inflammation can't be hobbled by that certain fruit or beverage, according to sources.

Is asthma associated with obesity? In some, it is. The failure of many asthmatics to be able and work up heavy breathing during exercise can lead to a lack of it -- and that deficiency can lead to more fat being stored instead of burned.

For asthmatics in particular, watching a diet and trying to find ways to exercise that won't overstimulate your breathing should be part of a healthy daily routine. Every try Pilates? Works wonders for many, and you control the heavy breathing.

Nutritional information just a click away

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I started changing my diet at the end of April. I started slow, with just a few modifications -- no soda, no sweets -- and then tweaked things here and there until I'd ditched all crap from my cupboards and kept only the healthy goods. It took a while before I'd identified all my wrong-doings. In the beginning, for example, I'd liberated myself from sugar and was eating loads of fruits and veggies but hadn't quite caught on to the whole low-fat thing. It hit me one day after eating a Pizza Hut personal pan cheese pizza. Sitting like a lump in my stomach, that mini-pizza told me I'd made a wrong turn when I pulled into that Pizza Hut parking lot. So I rushed home, sat in front of my computer, and began hunting for nutritional information on the gut buster I'd just consumed. I found it. It wasn't good.

My little pizza cost me 620 calories and 26 grams of fat. It came with 69 carbohydrates and seven grams of sugar. So I didn't bomb on the sugar thing but holy cow did I go way wrong on everything else. Ever since that day, I've been investigating all sorts of food items before I eat them. Before my husband I went to Red Lobster with a gift card, I took a peek at the stats on those yummy cheesy biscuits. Yikes -- 160 calories and 9 grams of fat fill one Cheddar Bay Biscuit.

I've since checked up on fresh fruit -- seems one cup of most fruits come with about 100 calories, some natural sugar, and no fat -- and kiddie snacks, and anything that makes me wonder. If you'd like to do the same, check out calorie-count. You can also visit restaurant sites directly. Try these Web sites for the lowdown on McDonald's, Subway, and Taco Bell.

Fat is a problem for pets too

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Is your cat or dog overweight? Try this test:
  • Stand over your pet and look down. You should be able to see a "waist" that cuts in near their back legs. If you can't see this waist, your pet may be overweight.
  • Run your hands over your pets ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them.
If your pet failed both parts of that test, it might be time to put them on a diet. People often don't realize it, but pets are susceptible to obesity just like people and can develop the same kinds of health issues. Pet treats and table scraps are often the problem, but so is not measuring your pets food before feeding them. Read the back of the bag of dog or cat food and make sure you're feeding your pet an appropriate amount. In addition, our four-legged friends need exercise just like we do. The next time you take that after dinner walk, invite your dog along or spend a few minutes playing with your cat. Many pet owners think food is love, but your love is better expressed with time, attention, and concern over your pets health.

Take a hike up your family tree

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Does diabetes run in your family? How about cancer? Heart disease? This is the stuff you should know about your relatives, not because you're destined to fall prey to the same ailments -- although it's a possibility -- but because family history can help you chart your course for a lifestyle of prevention. If your mom and aunt both had breast cancer, for example, and you know a healthy diet and regular exercise help ward off this disease, then you can hop on board and embrace these practices. Add annual mammograms, clinical exams, and your own monthly self-exams, and you might just keep one step ahead of cancer.

It all starts with knowledge. So grab a pen and paper and begin recording your family health history. It'll be like your map -- keep it handy for yourself and take it with you to medical appointments. Here's how to put it all together.
  • Call or send e-mails to relatives informing them of your health project. Cover at least three generations -- yours (include siblings and cousins), your parents (include siblings), and your grandparents.

Continue reading Take a hike up your family tree

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Magnets found to be ineffective for pain relief

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If you've ever seen those magnetic bracelets being hawked in magazines or on television, have you ever bought them? I know a few people that swear by them for wrist pain. But then again, some people justify their purchases with irrationality, I've found.

Still, I've never used them. According to new research this week, those products are not useful when it comes to the pain management many bracelet wearers are seeing.

Specifically, the study referenced pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia. But for the billion-dollar industry consumed with selling with magnets for use as pain relief products, this study is taking issue with that. To respond, that industry will need to provide valid, scientific evidence that magnets do somehow bind to pieces of the human anatomy in order to whisk pain away.

Functional fitness for frequent fliers

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We've talked about functional fitness before here at That's Fit. If you're a frequent flier, than functional fitness can also help you when you travel. Having good upper arm and core strength can make hauling your bags more comfortable and make it easier for you to lift them into your trunk or the overhead compartment. And being in shape will help you avoid injury when those bags are stuffed full. If you're a frequent traveler, FitList has three exercises that can help you handle the bulky luggage with ease as you dodge crowds and race through busy airports.

Preventative maintenance on the heart very wise

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One thing I have noticed in this day and age is the reactiveness of most people when it comes to their own health. Unless you feel bad or shows signs of something, health is a little-thought-of piece of daily life for many of us. Why is that?

I'm not sure this is the best analogy, but it's like vehicles. Do every one of us check our oil levels, transmission fluid and tire pressure every week or month? I'd suspect not. we apply the same principle to our own health.

But, two new studies concluded with this one simple message: people need to take care of their heart both before and after heart trouble starts. In other words, have regular checkups and follow through with doctor's orders when something of concern shows up. Just because there is no pain doesn't mean there isn't something brewing, right?

The top 5 alternatives to soda

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I recently saw this article from eDiets on the best alternatives to soda. Their choices? Vegetable juice, fruit juice, teas and coffees, enhanced waters and spring waters. These are all great choices, but if I was a soda addict, I don't know that they'd cut the mustard. So I decided to come up with my own list of my favourite soda alternatives:
  1. Club Soda and Cranberry Juice. I drink this pretty much every day. It's basically just half club soda and half low-cal cranberry juice. It's refreshing, fizzy and very low in calories.
  2. Italian Sodas: Italian sodas are kind of like the previous drink, but with flavoured syrup. I buy low-sugar vanilla-flavoured syrup, add some club soda or carbonated water, stir and enjoy! And the Olive Garden has delicious Italian sodas if you're out for a meal.
  3. Homemade Lemonade: I make my lemonade the old-fashioned way -- with lemons and Splenda. It's quite a treat!
  4. Homemade Iced Tea: Here's how you do it -- take your favourite flavour of tea, brew it with boiling water in a jug, ad some ice and and a squeeze of lemon, and let it cool in the fridge for a while. You can also add Splenda if you like it sweet, but I like mine au naturel. My favourite tea flavours to use are peppermint and Rooibos.
  5. Chocolate milk: If I am really craving something chocolaty, I'll have a half-glass of chocolate soy milk. Or I'll use skim milk with some reduced-sugar nestle quick. It leaves me feeling quite full and satisfied!
Of course, I'm also a water fiend--I drink at least 64oz a day--so enjoy these but please make sure you're getting you share of good ole' water too.

'Allergy epidemic' shows up in United Kingdom

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In the Midwestern U.S. right now, allergies are a-plenty. Not a day goes by that the pollen, mold and ragweed counts are off the charts. It's being called one of the worst late-summer allergy seasons in a decade where I live.

Across the pond, health officials in the UK are calling the allergy outbreak in Britain an "epidemic." That sort of language is used when it comes to diseases, but allergies?

Allergy sufferers have apparently grown up large numbers in England, and it's not just to the air outside. Food allergies are escalating, and food labels are being scrutinized as well. Soon, the words "may contain nuts" just won't be enough. Allergy sufferers need to know exactly what is in the foods they eat beyond vague descriptions.

Have your buffet and eat it to with these seven tips

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If you're trying to watch what you eat, a buffet can be a really hard place to monitor your calories and watch your portions. The plates are usually large and the food is never-ending. Not only that, buffets often take place at celebratory occasions like parties and weddings and you might feel the urge to let loose and put your health-related goals aside for the evening. In many cases, that's perfectly appropriate, but if a setback will truly set you back emotionally, then you need to stay in control for the evening. Diet-Blog has an excellent list of seven ways to beat the buffet. Some of the suggestions are simple -- use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Others may be a little harder, like the one that suggests you find the slowest eater to sit next to, or avoid the buffet altogether. Buy by following these tips, you can enjoy your meal and still feel good about yourself in the morning.

How to make your veggies taste better

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I know it sounds cliche, but I've never liked brussel sprouts. They're one of the only veggies I don't care for, and while I'm sure they're awfully good for me, I just can't eat them. They're too bitter for me. But there might be a reason why brussel sprouts taste bitter to me -- I might not be getting enough zinc.

Seriously. A study from the University of Ulster in England found that women who didn't get at least 7 mg of zinc a day are more likely to find brussel spouts and similar veggies like cabbage bitter. The recommended daily intake for zinc is 8 mg and it's found in fish, lean beef, chicken, yogurt and nuts.

What do you think about this finding? I don't know that a lack of zinc is a problem for me -- I think it's just brussle sprouts are gross. Don't you agree?

Drinking beer improves your memory

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I don't know about you, but after a couple beers, I'm not exactly the sharpest tool in the box. However, recent research seems to suggest that beer is better for your brain than you might think -- as low to moderate alcohol consumption apparently enhances your memory.

The science behind why this is true isn't exactly easy to follow -- but, essentially, consuming alcohol reportedly enhances activity in one part of a receptor that's located in an area of the brain that's critical to memory. So, when researchers gave alcohol to rats (about the equivalent of one or two drinks per day for a human, depending on your size), they discovered that the rats performed better in memory testing.

Which means, says one scientist, that even though people often drink to "drown sorrows," consuming alcohol "could actually paradoxically promote traumatic memories." Bummer.

On the other hand, I guess this also means that if you're having a couple pleasant drinks every afternoon, you're going to be a little more on the ball than if you went teetotal. This is such great news, I think I'm going to go celebrate -- with a beer!

Thanks to Scott for the tip!

ADA gives sugar-free gum a seal of approval

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The next time you pick up a pack of Wrigley's Orbit, Extra, or Eclipse gum, you might see an ADA seal of approval on the package. That's because for the first time since the 1930s, the ADA has approved sugarless gum as a product that might promote dental health. The saliva that is produced from chewing the gum for 20 minutes after meals washes away food particles and gives the teeth a "bath" of calcium and other teeth-strengthening minerals. The seal does not mean that gum is now a dental care product, only that the product does manage to do what the packaging says it does.

Many neurological problems not caused by thimerosal, says study

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A new study has poked the ongoing debate on whether the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal causes neurological disorders in some children. The biggest condition that comes up regularly is autism, although many experts have now stated that vaccinations containing thimerosal have no effect on potential autism.

The latest study comes from the federal government in an attempt to reassure parents about the safety of vaccination shots given to their kids.

But, this study was different -- it concentrated on neurological disorders, but did not include autism at all. However, a federal study that will look at autism causes is due soon, according to federal health authorities. In this most recent study, there was no clear link between between early exposure to the preservative thimerosal and any brain functions in kids aged 7 to 10.

The 100 best foods

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If a trip to the grocery store leaves you scratching your head and wondering just which of the hundreds of labels you should choose, you're not alone. The choices that are available to us these days are overwhelming. Wouldn't it be nice if someone rated them all and told us which were the best ones?

Oh, wait. Someone has. Women's Health Magazine has put out a report in which they've rated the best 100 foods in a number of categories. Here are some examples:
  • Best Cereal: Kashi Heart to Heart
  • Best Yogurt: Stonyfield Farm Fat Free Peach
  • Best Frozen Dinners: Lean Cuisine Spa
  • Best Ice Cream Cones: Skinny Cow Ice Cream Cones
Want to see the whole list? Check out the list in its entirety by clicking here.

Which items do you recommend?

Get beautiful skin by...taking a bath in Ramen noodles?

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We all want good skin, and we've all heard of countless different ways to go about getting it, but sitting in an enormous bowl of Ramen noodle soup? That's a new one.

A Japanese spa is offering just that: the opportunity to dip yourself in noodles to get a healthier glow. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it!) it's not real noodles (just noodle-shaped spa treatments) but it is real broth. The pork-based broth contains collagen, hence the skin-enhancing benefits.

The treatment costs about $29 -- would you do it? I think I'll pass, and save my Ramen noodles for meals only.

Via Luxury Launches

Stupid Cancer visits Side Order of Life

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If there's one crummy disease that flies in the face of good health, it's cancer. Stupid Cancer is what Matthew Zachary calls it.

Cancer-surviving Zachary, founder and executive director of I'm Too Young For This -- a rockin' place for young adults with cancer -- does all he can to support those under 40 trying to reclaim their health. You name it, he does it. Advocacy? Yep. Excursions, camps, and retreats? You bet. Scholarships and financial aid? Right on the money. This guy hosts his own streaming live Stupid Cancer Show on Monday nights, serves on the Google Health Advisory Council, sports a website TIME calls one of its Top 50, and now this inspiring cancer guru is making a splash in Hollywood.

Zachary will appear in an episode of Lifetime's Side Order of Life on Sunday, September 30 at 9:00 PM (ET/PT). In this episode, Vivy Porter (Diana Maria Riva) is dealing with cancer treatment and looking for the right kind of support. She finds it, at the hippest support group in town: a Stupid Cancer Happy Hour! Enter Zachary, who is there to greet Vivy when she arrives.

Check out this ground-breaking episode, won't you? Zachary promises you'll witness an accurate and hip portrayal of young adult cancer survivors. And I promise you'll love this guy, who is doing so much for so many. Like me.

Boost metabolism = lose weight

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If you're into losing weight and transforming your body -- but you don't want to give up your favorite habits and lifestyle, there may be hope yet.

Well, according to Lyssie Lakatos, RD, LD, CDN, anyway. Instead of reaching for impossible goals and crashing & burning on all those fad diets, how about incorporating small changes into your daily life and keeping them permanent?

Instead of limiting calories to insanely low levels (which triggers starvation mode), try upping your metabolism instead, says Lakatos. Getting your metabolism to burn calories in the most efficient way is the answer. Determine those needs, get those small meals going throughout the day (instead of a few large ones) and keep moving -- don't remain sedentary all day.