Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Watch out! Fall's most fattening foods

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Last weekend was our annual trip to the pumpkin farm, the one where you smell the homemade donuts the minute you pull into the parking lot. Warm, sweet, sugar coated -- they're definitely hard to avoid. But one of those donuts and glass of cider together are a whopping 400 calories -- hardly a light snack. Fall is known for several nutritious foods, including apples, squash, and cranberries. But with shorter days and cooler temperatures, fall is also the time when comfort foods suddenly sound really, really good.

MSNBC has a list of fall's most fattening comfort foods, including Halloween candy, mashed potatoes, and candy apples. While they may fill your belly in sweet and sinful ways, they won't feel so comfortable when your jeans start fitting just a little too snugly!

Keep hope alive: 3 cancer survivor's stories

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I can't imagine what it must be like to be diagnosed with any form of cancer. I can only guess that initially, amoung many emotions, one would feel terrified, angry and upset. I hope that I never have to find out what it's like but realistically, I know that some day I could have to deal with all of these emotions and prepare for battle.

I also imagine that it must help to hear the stories of those who have been where you are, and are surviving. The three women featured here, for example, offer advice on how to deal with cancer but more importantly, they offer hope to those facing a similar fight against the disease.

Donna McGrath, who battled breast cancer, insists that getting out and getting on with life is a good way to deal, Barb Brooks, diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, says that maintaining a healthy mind helped her deal with her overall health and Lina Prevedel, currently in remission from breast cancer, found that her friends and family helped her fight the disease.

To read these women's stories in full, please check out the full article here.

In Japan, women are slimming down. Men? Not so much

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The world as a whole seems to get bigger and bigger, and people in Japan are no exception. Well, half of them are anyway. The male half.

That's right -- studies are showing that as men in Japan get heavier and become closer to obesity, the women of Japan are staying slim and even getting slimmer on average as the years go by. In the past few decade, women on average have lost 2 kg (4.4 lb), while men have gained 4 kg (8.8 lb.)

The reason behind these changes? Women are becoming more aware of the benefits of exercise, while men are working longer hours and socializing for work more.

How to stay healthy: Tips from people across the planet

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The world is a big place and it seems like we get news items and magazine articles all the time about which nations are the healthiest or most-fulfilled. If you've ever wondered about how people in different locations around the globe stay fit and happy, this piece is pretty fun and interesting.

It includes tips and secrets from people as near and far as Florida, Mexico, South Africa, Ireland, Japan, England and France on how to maintain a healthy mind and body. I don't imagine these people are experts or anything but sometimes it's nice to take advice from people based on personal experience.

Some of the secrets doled out include doing a water fast once every couple of weeks (Japan), get ting outside and walking as much as possible (Ireland) and breathing to lower stress (South Africa). If you're interested in all of the tips and the perceived benefits then read the piece in full.

Have you got any health or wellness tips you can share?

Milla Jovovich's pregnancy diet

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I recently came across this article on Milla Jovovich's pregnancy diet. She reportedly eats three bagels with butter, peanut butter and jelly for breakfast and a box of Krispy Kreme donuts for lunch. Not surprisingly, she's gained a whopping 70 lbs, and she's having trouble getting used to her new body. Only time will tell is she's one of those mothers who seems to lose all the excess weight in record time.

Total weight gain during a pregnancy should be about 25 to 30 lbs -- is this a reasonable amount or do most women, like Milla, gain more?

Girls' concussions often ignored

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Old stereotypes would have us believe that boys play hard and girls just play, but if you've watched a girls' high school basketball, volleyball, or soccer game lately, then you know that girls are just as competitive as their male counterparts. Although football still tops the list of sports that contribute to high school injuries, studies show that girls who play basketball or soccer are actually more likely to suffer from concussions then the boys on the football field. One theory health experts have is that girls' necks aren't as strong and can't absorb as much of the blow.

Another source of concern is that girls seem to be more likely to play through the pain. Whether it's because they don't want to let their teammates down or they just don't recognize the risk, no one knows, but not treating a concussion can lead to dizziness, pain, and confusion. In addition, getting too many concussions can lead to long term side effects, and parents of some teen girls are having to make the difficult decision of taking their teen off the field. Read more about the issue here and how you can help your teen protect her noggin.

Demi Moore: Aging gracefully?

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Demi Moore is one of those impossibly amazing-looking celebrities who, despite being 44, looks more like 24. But according to the gossip rags in Britain, her looks didn't come naturally -- or cheap. She reportedly spent over $500,000 on plastic surgery, only to continue to be plagued by deep wrinkles, depicted in this photo. The photo, however, appears to be very grainy, which would make anyone look more wrinkly than they are, so I don't think it's an accurate depiction of Demi.

I, for one, don't think Demi needs plastic surgery -- yes, she has a few wrinkles, but she's still gorgeous. I'm not a fan of plastic surgery but at the same time, I've never lived in a society where ones career was based o their looks. Do you think Demi should opt for even more surgery, or do you think she looks great as is?

Give up sweets, live a longer life

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New research out of Germany this week concluded that the elimination of sweets and vitamins could help most people live longer lives. Vitamins, they say?

I've heard of vitamins (when taken in some kind of synergistic methodology) are fantastic for longevity, so this surprises me. Sweets, though? Not so much, and especially when there's refined sugars and nasty high-fructose corn syrup involved.

Restricting glucose was also found to be integral to certain bodily processes that extended life spans up to 25 percent -- but the result looked at worms, not humans.

In an odd twist to the research, the creation of more free radicals was key to longevity and was noticed when glucose restriction was present. Result: the worms under observance then built up long-lasting anti-oxidant defenses against the onslaught of new free radical molecules, which then lingered in their bodies long afterward.

Good pregnancy workout: Swimming

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I told you yesterday about how running might not be the best workout if you're expecting, since intense aerobic activity has been linked to miscarriages. But you know what is a great exercise for pregnant women? Swimming.

And Olympian Janet Evans is proof that it's a safe and effective workout for soon-to-be moms. She tells People, "I swam throughout my pregnancy and basically 10 days after she was born. Swimming throughout the pregnancy really kept me fit and made it easier. And my OB said it was the best thing that I could do."

So just because your with child, doesn't mean you should indulge in 9 months of laziness. Head for the pool and do yourself and the baby a favour.

Want to know what's on Reese Witherspoon's workout playlist?

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These days, iPods are a a standard fixture at the gym. Everyone has them and everyone uses them to fuel their workout with heart-pumping tunes. But did you ever wonder what tunes your favourite celeb listens to while they work out? Glamour Magazine has revealed a few of the tunes on Reese Witherspoon's playlist. They include:
  • Soak Up the Sun, by Sheryl Crow
  • Buttons, by The Pussycat Dolls
  • Walk On, by U2
  • Sweet Home Alabama, by B.A.M.A.
  • Stop This Train, by John Mayer
These certainly aren't on my iPod, but to each their own. What's on your playlist?

Which oil is best for split ends?

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Do you wish there were a miracle cure for split ends, besides cutting them off? Yeah, me too. There's a rumor out there that mineral oil (also called Jasmine Hair Oil, baby oil or paraffinum liquidm) can help rid you of split ends. But is it true? Is it really that easy?

My favourite beauty experts, the Beauty Brains, have weighed in on using mineral oil for your hair. Their verdict? While there's nothing wrong with using mineral oil on your hair, you'll probably see more benefits from using Coconut Oil, which can actually penetrate the cortex of the hair.

Or, if using oil on your hair doesn't sound too appealing, try some of these great tips.

Medical community warned about overprescribing Tamiflu

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When you are on a prescription or over-the-counter drug, did you know that the remnants of that product end up in the sewage system? This isn't rocket science, after all -- what goes in comes out (in some form, anyway).

It's been found that modern sewage systems don't break down the Tamiflu flu-prevention drug, which results in components of the drug ending up into natural waters where certain viruses may have more exposure to it -- causing resistance after a while.

In other words, the overabundance of Tamiflu could lead to flu-resistant viruses in the future at precisely the time a flu pandemic would emerge -- not exactly the best-case scenario. Researcher Bjorn Olsen stated that "Antiviral medicines such as Tamiflu must be used with care and only when the medical situation justifies it." So, do you 'really' need that Tamiflu prescription?

You should reduce your kids TV viewing time by the time they reach 5

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The TV might be the best way to entertain a reckless toddler, but studies show that once your child hits 5, you should stop using the TV as a babysitter and start implementing time restrictions on kids in order to foster healthy habits in them later in life. Turning off the TV will encourage your kids to be more active -- for life.

I can tell you that this works. From the time I was 5 until I was about 13, my parents imposed a limit of one TV show a day. Two decade later, I still only watch one TV show a day -- if that. I would much rather spend my downtime outside, with friends and family, or doing something productive.

What do you think is an acceptable limit for kid TV-watching?

Men sleep better next to their partners, women sleep worse

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Guys, as much as we like to complain that she steals all the covers, it turns out we actually sleep better when our significant other is lying next to us. You ladies, on the other hand, aren't so lucky.

Men are more likely to snore, which makes it very difficult for their partner to get a good night sleep. When the sound level becomes so loud that it wakes them up at night, many women opt for sleeping in another room -- just so they can get some peace and quiet.

On the other hand, men -- despite popular stereotypes -- are much more dependent on close relationships than women are. Subsequently, when it comes to sleeping, guys do much better when they share a bed with someone they're committed to.

So what's the solution? While women might get more sleep when they choose a separate bed, this probably won't do wonders for their relationships. If your man is a noisemaker at night, try earplugs, and if that doesn't work, talk to your doctor -- there's a number of ways to keep him quiet.

Breastfeeding not linked to tooth decay in kids

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If you're into the natural way to feed babies, then some good news this week: previous studies that linked breastfeeding and tooth decay (and cavities) were disputed by a new study that quashed any link between the two.

Prior studies showed little evidence that breastfeeding caused tooth decay problems in infants, so this new study hopefully will put the issue to rest. Breastfeeding is the best way possible to nourish that new baby, and it's hard to believe that possibly cavities could be a result.

The new study looked at 1,500 children aged two to five that were breastfed and whaddayaknow -- there was zero correlation between that activity and anything related to dental problems with their teeth. However, enter in a mother who smokes, ears poorly or does drugs, and the breast milk may not be all that healthy after all.

Milk may keep bone cancer at bay

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In a study on mice with breast cancer, those with a calcium deficiency were more likely to see their cancer metastasize to the bones. Also, mice on a low calcium diet had more bone affected by cancer.

Experts shared that 70 percent of advanced cancer patients develop bone tumors, and many older women are calcium deficient. The spread of cancer to bones triggers a cellular process which breaks existing bone down, resulting in more pain, illness and a bone environment ripe for further cancer growth.

While animal study results do not necessarily mimic human response, breast cancer patients with a calcium deficiency could be at a higher risk of bone metastases. Dietary calcium could serve as a supporting treatment to prevent the spread of cancer to the bone.

The study was completed by researchers at the ANZAC Research Institute in Australia, and published in the October issue of Cancer Research. Read the full story in Science Daily.

Want to improve your well-being? Here's 10 things you can do in October

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Sometimes thinking about changing your lifestyle in order to be happier or healthier seems like a daunting task. I know that times when I decide I'm unhappy with my habits and end up on a mission to make changes and improve my overall well-being, I tend to give up easily because I get in the mind frame that I have to change absolutely everything at once.

Of course, overhauling your entire life in a day isn't necessarily the best way to make changes for the better. A few small steps can be taken each day, week or even month to improve your life. Eventually all of these little alterations will add up to some major life changes.

I like this article from the Canadian Living website because it gives a list of 10 things you can do in the month of October to improve your well-being. There's nothing very difficult to accomplish on the list -- suggestions include eating more berries, doing push-ups, taking the stairs and trying out pomegranate -- but I bet if you made the commitment to try them all throughout the month, you'd find that you feel a bit happier, more relaxed and healthier overall.

If you want to see all 10 tips and find out just why they're all good for you, take a peak at the entire article here.

Playing with blocks helps kids develop language skills

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If your young child is a "hands-on" type of kids who loves his or her blocks and building materials, those language skills may be under development along with motor skills, according to a study released this week.

The study revealed that language scores were about 15 percent higher in the group of kids aged 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 who were sent blocks to play with out of a group of 175 kids.

Parents of each block-supplied child were given instructions on how to help their kids play with the blocks, then each kept copious notes during a four-day study period. After studying the responses from all involved parents, the researchers concluded that 'block play ' stimulates thinking, memory and physical mastery -- all of which are precursors to language construction and expression.

The Daily Turn On! Stretch out your morning routine

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Life is too short not to be fully "turned on." The Daily Turn On! energizes all aspects of "you." Everyday The Daily Turn On! with That's Fit Life Fit expert Laura Lewis will awaken your mind, your body and your life!

Is this your typical day? The alarm clock goes off and you jump out of bed to turn it off. A nice, relaxed body contracts and moves suddenly. One of these days, you might have a mysterious neck or back strain and not know what caused it. That good old alarm clock will do it every time! You shower, dry off, and begin to dress. You drop your sock on the floor and you bend to pick it up. Ouch! You finish dressing and after coffee you notice your shoe is untied. Can you bend to tie your shoe easily, or are you feeling your age? Driving to work, you find it is difficult to look behind you by turning your head. While sitting at your desk at work someone behind you calls your name. Can you turn to look at who is speaking to you without turning your entire body? If you do not maintain your flexibility, problems may occur with your mobility.

Action Tips:
  • Ease into a stretching routine if you are just starting out, Use legitimate guidelines for safe stretching, whether it is through a professional fitness trainer, a video of stretching exercises, or a book with clear photographs or illustrations of proper positioning.
  • Be sure to warm up before stretching by simply moving each joint with rotating movements to increase the synovial fluid or joint lubrication, as well as to increase the blood flow to the muscles. Keep in mind, your muscles are not always warm and supple. You might think about them as frozen wings. Would you stretch the frozen wing without warming it up? If you did, chances are you see and hear tearing of tissue. This is definitely a vision to keep in mind while stretching.
  • Only hold each stretch from ten to thirty seconds. Repeat three to five times before you move on to the next stretch.
  • Inhale deeply before stretching a muscle group. Gently exhale as if you were softly blowing out a candle while you move into the stretch.
  • If you feel any pain during a stretch, stop! You should expect to feel a bit of discomfort as your muscles and joints begin to loosen up. Stop if you feel dizzy at any time, Sometimes dizziness occurs if you have failed to breathe throughout your stretching. Many of us have a natural tendency to tense up and stop breathing while holding each position. Relax the muscles as you stretch and be aware of your breathing.
  • Avoid bouncing as this is not good for your muscles fibers. Your muscles appreciate a gentle, holding action. The goal of the stretch is simply to elongate the muscle fibers, to counteract their natural tendency to contract to a shorter length. The shorter the length, the less mobility one will have. When you awaken, stretch before you rise out of bed.
  • Devote fifteen to twenty minutes per day to stretching. If you spend quite a bit of time sitting or standing in one position, plan on several stretch breaks throughout the day.
  • If stretching is enjoyable to you, check out a yoga program, as stretching is a major part of this ancient form of exercise.

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Life Fit Chat with Laura Lewis: Stretch it out

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, it was noted that this ancient healthy practice may significantly city the rish of falls among older people anbd Life Fit Chat with That's Fit Life Fit Expert Laura Lewis brings conversation provoking tidbits to your table, served up with a touch of spice! Byte-sized information that pack some punch, brought to you every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!

Did you know ... Stretching your muscles increases the length of your muscle fibers, increases mobility and strength of your joints and spine, and increases blood flow and oxygen to your internal organs and tissues, which in turn increases your energy level. What this means in real life is if you maintain flexibility you will be able to perform everyday activities without straining tight muscles. If you do not stay active and include a few simple stretches in your everyday routine, you will be stiffer and probably complain about "my aching back" a little more often than your mobile buddies. If you have ever seen a cat or dog awaken from a peaceful slumber, you will often see them stretch their entire body, then amble upon their way. Infants will often stretch upon rising. Stretching is a natural way to keep your muscles and joints flexible.

Stretch your limits: You will not find typical Japanese elders sitting front of Starbucks sipping coffee at 6:00 a.m. You will, however, find them in the park performing Tai Chi. Tai Chi, a form of stretching and breathing exercises, enhances balance and body awareness through slow graceful, and precise body movements. In the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it was noted that this ancient healthy practice may significantly cut the risk of falls among older people and help maintain strong and flexible bodies of those who were seventy years of age and older.

Regular Stretching is physically beneficial in a wide variety of ways besides maintaining mobility.

Benefits of Stretching:
  • Helps to keep your spine flexible
  • Decreases natural compression of joints
  • Improves strength
  • Increases circulation to all internal organs and tissues enhancing their proper functioning
  • Supplies more energy to the body
  • Helps keep bones healthy and strong due to slight pulling on muscles and ligaments that are connected to bones
  • Might relieve constipation by opening the joints and muscles in the hip area
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Daily Fit Tip: Unplug and reconnect

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It's time to unplug. Not all the time. Just during times that should be devoted to peace, relaxation, and good old fashioned conversation. So unplug your computers and TVs in the bedroom. Turn off your phones during meals and social engagements. Use your "out-of-office" e-mail feature when you go out of town. And ditch your cell phone and your Blackberry while working out. Anyone who needs to reach you can surely wait the hour or so it takes you to concentrate on your physical fitness.

Multi-tasking may be good in some situations but it can also be harmful. In fact, brain imaging proves it results in overall poorer performance. Talking on your cell phone while logging miles on the treadmill, for example, means you are not fully tending to either task. Both your workout and your chit-chat are compromised because neither one has your complete attention. Remember this for yourself -- and your kids too. Plugging in is just not good for them. It can deprive them of being present for what's going around them and can splinter them from family, nature, and their own creativity.

You owe it to yourself and your kids to disconnect once in a while. In the end, it will help you reconnect with what's really important.

Workplace Fitness: Become an imperfectionist

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Perfectionism is something that affects us all -- if you're not a perfectionist then you know someone who is. I myself am a semi-perfectionist (I'm sure some will argue there's no such thing!) because I'm a perfectionist in certain areas of my life but not all areas. But I still understand the process, and how trying to make everything "just right" all the time can really leave you feeling exhausted and drained.

So what to do? How to fight it? Become an imperfectionist, of course! But the trick is not to go overboard, as it's all about balance (isn't everything?). Here are some tips and ideas on how to make it happen:
  • Most pressure (a.k.a. "stress") is self-imposed. Are you prioritizing things in the best way? You do realize that not everything can be #1, right? Take a good hard look at all the things that are bearing down on you everyday and consciously filter out the things that really aren't that important. And take a good hard look at how much effort you're putting into what tasks: is that really where your energy belongs? Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, but odds are you're over-achieving in at least one area, at the expense of another (like your health).

Continue reading Workplace Fitness: Become an imperfectionist

Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered - Love Handles & Man Boobs

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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. Can you please tell me what work out exercise is good for those annoying love handles? I have a somewhat flat stomach, but can't get rid of the extra stuff on both sides of my belly. Thanks, Shirley

A. Hey Shirley. You didn't provide me with a ton of information about yourself, but since you said you have a flat-ish tummy.....I'm guessing you don't have a ton of weight to lose. However, the part of our bodies most people get really frustrated with is usually the last place we lose it. Obviously body type has a huge amount to do with our specific shapes, but if you simply have fat gathered on both sides of your belly....you need to lose some more weight. It could be your those last five pounds that make the difference.

Spot reduction is not a reality outside of plastic surgery. You can't crunch those love handles away, and I think you should ignore the knife. This sounds like something you can do on your own. Consume fewer calories and burn a bunch with frequent workouts and an active lifestyle. Dig in and improve your overall fitness. A tapered waist requires awesome effort, but it's well worth it. You'll love it when you have it. Keep me posted on your success! Fitz

Q. Hello Miss Fitz. I am a 28 year old male. I have been running a couple miles a day, two or three days a week all summer, but I just can't get rid of my stomach or man boobs. I've had the same figure my whole life. Is there anything that I could focus on to shape up? George

Continue reading Ask Fitz! Your Fitness Questions Answered - Love Handles & Man Boobs

Fingerprinting in the lunch line: Schools are doing it

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Fingerprint technology is something most of us only see on movies and TV, or with big corporations that have a lot to protect. But it may be showing up (and already has in some cases) in an unlikely spot: your child's school cafeteria.

Schools have been coming up with different ways to keep track of children's lunches and lunch money for decades, and it seems fingerprint identification is the newest idea up on the block. Instead of punching in a code at the lunch line, or running an ID card through, some schools are moving towards having students hold up their fingers instead. Part of the thinking is that by making it impossible to steal or lose lunch money, or use it to buy other things, it will be easier to make sure individual students are getting the right healthy lunches they're supposed to be.

What do you think? Easy, smart, efficient use of today's technology or a completely unnecessary invasion of privacy?

Running like little reindeers

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I just registered my little buggers for the cutest fitness event -- The 2007 Reindeer Run.

Bright and early on the morning of Saturday, December 8, my guys will take part in a project sponsored by Taylor Fit for Kids. It's all about healthy lifestyles, fitness, and the fight against obesity. I love it, and it took me no time at all to sign up my little runners for this physical feat. Four-year-old Danny will participate in the Tot Trot where he'll dash for 100 yards. Six-year-old Joey will run a timed mile. Both will get t-shirts, their own race numbers, and a medal too. It will be a family affair -- Dad will go with Danny, and I'll run with Joey.

I can't wait for my pint-sized guys to experience their first race. And I hope like crazy this one event inspires them to keep on running.

Doctors able to 'switch off' the pain to detach themselves from patients

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A recent study out this week stated that doctors are finding ways to 'turn off the pain' when treating some patients so that they are not distracted while administering treatment.

ER and trauma surgeons could probably benefit from this type of research I would guess. Being able to put the human equation aside and perform highly stressful medical work in order to save a life sometimes would be absolutely necessary. Turning off the brain's pain center (or distracting it) would seem to accomplish this task.

This study looked at functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as 14 doctors (and 14 others in a control group) were observed while some patients were pricked by acupuncture needles in the mouth area while others were 'pricked' by cotton swaps. One hurt patients in terms of pain response while the other inflicted no pain (obviously).

Tasty turnips? Here's some recipes to work the vegetable into your diet

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Turnips don't usually make me think 'tasty'. Rather, the vegetable conjures up images of kids being sent from the table after refusing to eat the mushy mass left on their plate. I don't actually have anything against the turnip really, it just doesn't excite me in the same way that broccoli, fresh peas and carrots do.

Well it didn't excite me that is, until I saw this article about just how good they are for you. Did you know, for example, that turnips contain heaps of vitamin C, calcium and iron? And as an added benefit, the super-vegetable can lower your risk of developing a range of cancers including stomach, lung, breast and ovarian.

It's important to note though, that in order to reap all of these anti-cancer benefits, you should avoid boiling turnips. If you'd like to find some other recipes that offer tasty ways to consume the vegetable, take a look at the recipes listed at the bottom of the article.

Top This: A fruity sorta salsa

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There's nothing precise about this salsa recipe. But there's everything healthy about it. And that's why you should give it try. It goes like this:

Cut up watermelon into chunks -- big chunks, little chunks, you decide. Then cut up a few fresh peaches into similar-sized pieces. Add some diced jalapenos to suit your desire for spice, some cut up bits of cilantro, a sprinkling of onions, and a dash of Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing -- which you could also leave out entirely. The juices from the fruit may do just the trick in exchange for less fat and calories.

Now mix it all up, and use your fruity salsa as a dip for the healthiest tortilla chips you can find (try blue chips from your grocery store's health food section), for a topping on your favorite fish, for a dressing on your yummy salad, or for anything your little heart desires. It doesn't really matter where your salsa lands. It's sure to spice up just about anything -- and in only the healthiest of ways.
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Health insurance shopping: Top questions to ask

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Oprah recently aired the show Sick in America: It Can Happen to You. Kimberly Lankford, insurance expert and author of The Insurance Maze, shared six strategies for landing not only health insurance, but the right policy for you.

  • Make sure your maximum coverage is between $3 and $5 million or a major illness could jeopardize your finances.
  • Higher deductibles ($1,100/individual or $2,200/family) significantly lower monthly premiums. They also qualify for a health savings account for tax savings.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits for errors. They're more common than you think.
  • Keep meticulous records and secure answers to your questions in writing to fight disputes down the line.
  • Periodically review your health insurance needs and options to find the best fit. Speak up to Human Resources if you're having a bad experience with your employer's health insurance company, others are likely feeling the same.
  • In a dispute? Lean on your state insurance department for appeal advice.

Good tips -- I'm fighting two ER bills right now that were coded incorrectly -- sticking us with 20% of the ER/physician/radiology costs versus a $50 ER co-pay.

Older brothers spur more aggression in siblings

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Younger siblings with older brothers may have an increased propensity to become more aggressive with time as opposed to siblings with older sisters, according to a recent study's results.

451 sibling pairs were studied
by California researchers (ages nine through 18), and such factors like aggressive behavior, family economic pressures and the hostility of the parents towards the kids were observed.

The conclusions showed that the younger males with older brothers exhibited more aggressive behavior over time, as well as older siblings with younger sisters becoming less aggressive over time. Quite naturally, another conclusion to the study said that parents' hostility also played a role in the aggression development in their kids.

Expectant mothers with low cholesterol have more premature babies

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Expectant moms with babies on the way may end up having a heightened possibility of premature birth if they have a low cholesterol level, according to a new study released this week.

Although recent, unrelated research has also stated that pregnant women can also have an increased risk or premature babies if they have high cholesterol levels, this new finding sheds light on how important moderate to normal cholesterol levels may be for those who are pregnant.

Although this study mentioned that lower cholesterol levels may be impacted by a female's genetic makeup (instead of diet), the increased possibility of premature birth or low birth weight still needs to be looked at for many. If you're pregnant, are you tracking your cholesterol levels?

The 7 things you should never eat.

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Most of us have a few foods that are without a doubt off limits. For me, it's chicken wings. And while I've been known to indulge from time to time, I try to keep to down to once a year or less because oh. my. goodness. Are they ever bad for you! They're so bad, in fact, that I don't even really enjoy them, particularly the next day.

eDiets has made a list of food items that you should consider adding to your list of forbidden foods and stay away from at all costs. They are:
  • Doughnuts
  • Cheeseburgers with fries
  • Fried chicken and chicken nuggets
  • Packaged lunches (think Lunchables)
  • Sugary cereal
  • Processed meats (YUCK!)
  • Canned soup (unless it's low sodium and MSG-free)
What would you add to the list? I was thinking movie popcorn would make a worthy addition, as would bacon, deep-fried cheese and, well, deep-fried anything.

25 percent of Americans are flexitarians

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If you often eat like a vegetarian, but occasionally garner protein from lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy -- guess what -- you're a flexitarian. Catchy label. The American Dietetic Association says one-quarter of Americans fit this description as they consume four meatless meals each week.

According to nutrition advocates, flexitarianism is healthy. This varied diet is high in fiber and low in saturated fat. The focus on fruits and vegetables over protein automatically delivers recommended levels of vitamins and minerals. Studies show flexitarians weigh less and face lower risks of stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colon and prostate cancers.

I just enjoyed three bean portabello chili for dinner -- if I eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, followed by a salad at dinner, I'm one meatless meal away from becoming a flexitarian! Read more about flexitarianism and four other healthy food trends thanks to Cooking Light.

Conscientious people less prone to developing Alzheimer's Disease

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Are you leading a good and decent life? Are you considered a 'good Samaritan?' If so, you probably have a lowered risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease, according to new research out this week from the U.S.

So, if you are conscientious, self-disciplined and scrupulous, take note here. Finding people that exemplify all those qualities most of the time may be hard, but when you find them, finding out why they act the way they do may be good for the future if you buy into this most recent research.

Researchers in this study defined conscientiousness as people who control their impulses and are goal-directed. In addition to being considered dependable, those surveyed who had a higher levels of conscientiousness were found to have an 89 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared to those in the lowest percentile tested.

Rugby's not just for boys

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I never really thought that rugby would be an enticing sport for girls -- with no padding and some really rough hits, the sport seems a bit rough and tumble. But I recently realized that I actually know several women who play the sport and love it. One friend, who stands at a mere 5-feet tall, just started playing this past summer and despite a concussion or two raved about the game.

The sport offers a great work-out, can help with coordination and is a great way to make new friends with those on your team. I took a look for some resources and on the web and found this cool site that offers news and information for women thinking about trying out the sport.

If you're a girl looking to find a new way to get some exercise, want to play on a team and aren't afraid to take a hit, you should take a look at the site and then check out your local women's league.

More than two hours a day of TV causes behavior problems for kids

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Turning off the tube is a great practice for many parents, but unfortunately, many use the device as a pacifier and/or babysitter. The thing is, more television viewing can lead to increased behavioral problems, according to a new study.

Two or more hours of watching television was found to lead to more behavioral issues in younger kids, including sleep, attention, and aggressive behavior problems. The kids that were observed for the study ranged in age from two-and-a-half to five-and-a-half.

But, even more disturbing, the research showed that those children aged at five-and-a-half developed fewer social skills if permitted to watch more than two hours of TV per day. Moral of the story: cut down on that television watching for those younger kids. Come to think of it, we could all use less of the tube in our daily lives.

The cool-down: is it necessary?

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We know that we have to warm up before a workout to make sure our muscles don't cramp up. But how important is the cool-down? My fitness instructors always insist on doing an adequate cool-down -- they claim it's just as important as the warm-up.

Still not convinced?

Some healthy ways to rev up your sex life

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Most relationships start off hot and heavy -- everything between you and your partner was new and exciting, and you probably couldn't keep you hands off each other. So it could be kind of disappointing when, further down the line, that energy wears off and regular life begins to interfere with your formerly fab sex life.

If you've found that you're at the point where work stress, kids or just being a bit bored, has began to get in the way of getting intimate with your partner, check out this piece for some advice on how to boost a sagging sex life. The article offers five healthy tips (both physical and emotional) to help get things back on track.

You can try exercise (releases feel-good endorphins and helps you feel good about your body), quitting smoking (male smokers are more likely to be impotent) and eating right (protein and low glycemic index carbohydrates will help you retain energy throughout the evening). For more info, as well as the rest of the tips, take a look here for the full article.