Friday, 19 October 2007

Gates Foundation steps up fight against malaria

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In the worldwide quest to begin the eradication of health and disease issues in some of the poorest countries on earth, the Gates Foundation -- headed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda -- planted a tall order on scientists this week.

Both leaders of the Gates Foundation urged scientists to try and eradicate malaria from the face of the planet instead of trying to find ways of controlling the spread of the disease. Trying to completely get rid of anything biological on a planetary scale is hard to do, but that is what's being urged. Is it even possible?

Melinda Gates did say that it was "a long-term goal; it won't come soon,", noting that it would take quite a while for complete elimination to occur. But, she added that "to aspire to anything less is just far too timid a goal for the age we're in." Based on the resources the Gates Foundation has, she may be right.

Kids falling off bikes costs us $200 Million a year

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My mom worked for a neurological organization when I was growing up, so as a result, we were the kids who weren't allowed to jump on the trampoline or do anything fun without wearing a helmet. In elementary school, this was the equivalent of social suicide, but as I get older, I think my mom might have been on to something. Case in point: A recent study shows that kids falling off their bikes costs the healthcare system $200 Million a year.

Moreover, wearing a helmet reduces a child's risk of brain injury by 85%. So if your kid (or teen) isn't wearing a helmet, why not? Sure, it might make them cringe, but I promise, they'll forgive you one day.

Tips for getting the best massage

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Massages make life so much brighter, if you ask me. I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and having someone knead it out is pretty awesome. If you love massages as much as I do, Mark's Daily Apple has some tips on how you can get the most bang for your massage buck:
  • Be on time. Tardiness will only cut into your massage time.
  • Speak up: If it's too intense or not intense enough, saying so will make the experience more enjoyable. Speak up if it feels weird or uncomfortable.
  • But don't talk too much. Spending the entire time chatting will just distract you both and take away from the actual massage.
  • Do what you're comfortable with. Don't strip down to the nude if it makes you feel weird. And don't be afraid to ask for a male or female masseuse.
Want to know more?

Throw a low-carb dinner party

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Going low-carb can be a pain when it comes to socializing. While it's usually pretty easy finding a low-carb alternative at a restaurant, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to dinner parties, where you can't pick and choose your dishes.

Here's an idea: throw your own low-carb dinner party! Coming up with a menu might seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, here's help from eDiets -- they've put together an extensive article on how to find a theme and come up with dishes that are crowd-pleasing and diet-friendly.

What do you do when you have to entertain and are on a low-carb plan?

Shoe insoles for back pain? Worthless.

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A new study shows that the insoles so many people buy to help ease back pain may not be doing a thing for them. When researchers reviewed a total of 6 different studies including over 2,000 people they found no evidence that shoe insoles do anything to help or prevent back pain. At all.

Basically they found that although insoles are not completely worthless (they do still cushion the foot, and they have helped many people with many issues) as a general rule they are prescribed for the wrong reasons. Sore feet? Sure. Back pain? Not so much.

Fight your sweet tooth with figs

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I definitely have a sweet tooth that I fight on an almost a daily basis, so any article that promises a healthier way to satisfy it always has my immediate attention. And this one had something I didn't really think of before: figs.

Figs have been around for centuries, and amazingly there are over 150 different kinds. They are a good source of dietary fiber, and when used in dessert recipes can be just as satisfying and decadent as more traditional sweets like chocolate and ice cream.

Want to give 'em a shot? Try this recipe for Figs with Port and Toasted Almonds. Sounds good to me!

Daily Fit Tip: Beware the season's most fattening foods

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The cold weather brings cravings for more comforting meals made of heavier foods, which unfortunately also means extra calories. The holidays aren't here yet but they're just around the corner, so if you're looking to head holiday weight gain off at the pass then get into some good habits now. By simply avoiding (or eating in careful moderation) fall's most fattening foods you can go into (and come out of) the holidays without gaining a pound! Now how great would that be?
Halloween Candy
Cream Soup and Hearty Stews
Root Vegetables
Seasonal Beverages
Caramel Apples
Pies
Stuffing
Mac & Cheese
Pumpkin desserts

Fit Factor: Slowburn workout

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Last week, on Fit Factor, I told you how to speed up your workout without compromising results. But this week I'm going to talk about something entirely different -- slowing it down. I'm not talking about slowing down you're usual run to a jog or a walk, and I'm not talking about going to slowly at the gym that you end up spending twice the amount of time there -- rather, I'm talking about the Slow Burn workout.

In fact, some feel the slow burn isn't so much a workout as it is a revolution. There's a book, even, called the Slow Burn Fitness Revolution. So, is it truly a revolution? Or a fad? What does it entail?


Continue reading Fit Factor: Slowburn workout

We love to gawk at fit celebs weekly round-up: It isn't easy

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We all know fitness doesn't come effortlessly to anyone. There's hard work and consistency involved in being in shape. Hence the sweatiness. And celebrities are no exception...well, except for the ones who get their bods through a little plastic surgery, but hardly any of them do that, right? Right? This week's celebrity gawking focuses on the fact that, well, it isn't easy.

Jessica Simpson may be getting praise for her toned body again, but she confesses she's lousy at one key component of her regime: jumping rope. Jess claims her lack of rhythm is to blame, and of course her trainer makes her do lots of sets, because trainers are evil like that. She also says if she craves a food, she allows herself a taste, as in, a couple of bites. Livin' large, girl. Now that sounds like it isn't easy.

Lance Armstrong is pretty much the picture of athletic awesomeness, but now that he's training for a marathon, he says running isn't easy. Lance claims riding a bike is more efficient and easier on the body. That's only because he's never seen me ride a bike.

Samantha Harris, host of Dancing With the Stars, resumed working out just two-and-a-half weeks after giving birth. She says her doctor gave her the green light, so she dived in with a yoga class, a cardio sculpting class, a plain old sculpting class... She says, "I'm not trying to drop the weight fast in any capacity." Mmm hmm, whatever you say. I'm thinking the immediate return to exercise isn't, you know...

Lily Allen credits hypnosis for her recent weight loss. The singer dropped many pounds and claims the hypnotism helps her stop eating when she's full and makes her want to get to the gym daily. Allen has blogged about her weight and body issues for a while, and while she's tried to let go of it, she confessed in May that she had "fallen victim to the evil machine." That kind of public weight scrutiny can't be easy.

Forbes interviews the trainers to stars like Jessica Biel and Kimora Lee Simmons for the low-down on how celebs get their bodies looking good. I'll give you a hint: It sure helps to have the time and money to work out zealously with a trainer. There's also photos of swanky gyms the famous people hit. Exercising with a pro in posh digs still isn't easy, but it's easier than the rest of us have it.

HPV test superior to Pap test?

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Let's face it, nobody enjoys going for their yearly Pap test. It's just one of those parts of being an adult that we women do because it's good for our health (and unfortunately way too many women don't bother at all). I assume men feel the same way about prostrate exams. It's not fun, but still we've got to get it done.

The good news is that apparently a new, more effective test to screen for cervical cancer has been developed. A study conducted at McGill University, which is about to published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the HPV test was able to detect pre-cancerous lesions in up to 94.6% of study participants while the Pap test discovered only 55.4%. That's a pretty major difference, especially where cancer screening is concerned.

Also, according to the article, women who receive negative results from an HPV test, which screens for the HPV virus which causes most if not all cases of cervical cancer, will only have to repeat the exam every 3 years. Unfortunately, those who have the HPV test and receive a positive result will also have to undergo the Pap test to check for pre-cancerous cells. If you want to know more about the study, take a look at the entire article here and for more information on the HPV test, consult your physician.

The Talk: Teaching kids about sexual health

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It's not so hard to talk to kids about nutrition, fitness, and overall health. But when it comes to informing them about sexual health, not-so-hard can become oh-so-scary.

Before you draw a blank about what to say to your kids about sex education, head to the bookstore for a little advance preparation on how to tackle the "where do babies come from" questions. Experts recommend parents pick up a few books, read them, and then begin discussing the "birds and bees." Here are the books they suggest:

It's NOT the Stork by Robie H. Harris
What's the Big Secret? by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
What's Happening to My Body by Lynda Madaras
The Boy's Body Book by Kelli Dunham

Obesity a byproduct of modern life, says study

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Most of us read regularly that obesity comes from overeating the foods we should not be eating in the first place along with no exercise. Combine those two and you get -- voila -- obesity.

While those are certainly reasons for the extreme chunkiness many of us have, a British study this week says that obesity is simply a byproduct of "modern life."

The study did not go into detail about specific actions that contribute to obesity, but called the phenomenon out as being way more passive that have traditionally been though. The study went on to make the point that humans' biological makeup is out of step with modern surroundings (cars, TVs, etc.). I agree with that completely. I still think that modern food is a huge part of the problem (isn't that a "surrounding?").

Promote wellness, halt breast cancer

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I think there's not a whole lot of difference between practicing healthy habits for general wellness and practicing healthy habits for the prevention of breast cancer. Just check out the points made in this article about warding off the nasty disease that this year will strike about 178,000 American women.

The suggestions seem pretty familiar, don't they? That's because they're generally good for the body. And so it's simple, really. Just live a clean life, shoot for good health, and you'll have a fairly good shot at warding off all sorts of unwanted illness, like breast cancer.

In a nutshell, here's what tops this article's list of healthy habits:
  • Maintain a healthy weight. A 2005 study showed women who gained weight after a breast cancer diagnosis had an increased risk of recurrence. Other studies show overweight women have a greater chance of a first-time breast cancer diagnosis. And countless studies indicate excess weight is bad for the heart, cholesterol, bones, joints, and more. Body Mass Index (BMI), although not a perfect measure, can help you chart your healthy weight.

Continue reading Promote wellness, halt breast cancer

Mix up that fitness bag of tricks

I have a definite bag of tricks when it comes to fitness. In my bag, I've got running, walking, push-ups, a handful of core exercises, some resistance band stuff, and occasionally, some weight lifting. That's about it. It seems enough on the average day. It gets my heart beating, causes me to sweat, and lets me know I've worked some major muscle groups. But sometimes, when I throw something new into my bag, I realize there's so much more I could be accomplishing.

Recently, my mom and I hopped on our bikes and peddled around town for 90 minutes. We never realized how hilly our area is until the burn in our legs made it abundantly clear. It was also clear my core was engaged in a whole new way. My arms were tensing and tightening differently. My butt was sore. My hands were too. And my back -- well, my back is apparently very weak.

What I realize now after mixing up my workout routine is that I need to do it more often. I need to distribute my physical work more evenly so all my muscles benefit. Consistency is good. But so is variety. So I'll stick with what works for me on the average day. When I get a chance to change gears, though, I'm going to embrace a little diversity.

It seems a little variety is not only good for the body -- it also helps us stick with our fitness goals.

Children often overlooked when flu comes to town

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As the U.S. and other countries prepare for the next, coming wave of the flu, are the children in this nation (and others) being overlooked in terms of preparations?

A report this week from the U.S. government stated that children in this country would most likely be primary spreaders of a flu pandemic, as well as targets of the flu. The only problem is that they are -- as a group -- not at the forefront of preparations for dealing with the flu.

Sounds to me like a huge contradiction, yes? Dr. John Bradley of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that "right now, we are behind the curve in finding ways to limit the spread of a pandemic in children even though they are among the most at risk."

Using a stability ball: Dangerous?

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Here's a good case for splurging on your exercise ball: 40-year-old Adam Dunayer was severely injured when the stability ball he was lying on suddenly burst. Adam had a 60-lb weight in each had and was preparing to do a bench press when the ball broke; he hit the ground elbows-first and ended up breaking both of his arms. Now he's got long scars on each arm and has to undergo painful physical therapy to re-learn how to do simple, everyday tasks like opening a bottle.

According to fitness equipment experts, it's natural for exercise balls to wear out over time. But that doesn't mean you should let this happen to you. When you buy a ball for your home, make sure you buy a quality anti-burst one, and replace it after a few years. Watch this video for more tips.

Shocker: most British citizens obese by 2050

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In what could be a really scary proposition for a major, industrialized country, British officials stated that a majority of its citizens could be obese by the year 2050. As a result, the country's health secretary concluded that a "shift" needs to occur in the way the nation tackles obesity.

Similar to this post I wrote this morning, Health Secretary Alan Johnson singled out an environment of abundance and underlying biology for the reasons of increasing obesity -- not eating habits. But, I disagree here -- eating habits are part of that "abundance," yes?

Regardless, the less we walk and the more we drive and the less we eat (good food) and the more we eat (processed, convenience food) are all changing the rules of the obesity game. Oddly, it sounds like the natural order of things.

Spin to Win raises money for diabetes research

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More than 300 people took time out of their work day Thursday to spin on stationary bikes in Washington, D.C. for an event that raised nearly $90,000 for diabetes research.

The event was the second annual Spin to Win put on by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Capitol Chapter. Fox 5 News and Sport & Health were top sponsors and news broadcasters joined teams of riders from local businesses in a little friendly competition. A few riders were pretty serious, showing up in racing garb and breaking 40 mph during their ride.

In the end, it was about bringing hope for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Donations are still being accepted. To donate, click here.

Controversy over cartoon character's death

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When we browse the comics in our local paper over coffee, we expect a few good chuckles interspersed with an occasional rolling of the eyes at overly sappy comics like the Family Circus. What we don't expect is to be bawling our eyes out, which is what some people have been doing after reading the latest installments of Funky Winkerbean. One of the main characters, Lisa Moore, recently died of cancer. She was a wife, mother, lawyer and until now, cancer survivor.

Moore's death has brought about some good -- a charity has even been set up in her name, despite the fact that she's fictitious -- but still, some are outraged that the comic's author brought death, dying and the big 'C' to the funny pages, which people turn to when they want to lighten up. For an interview of author Tom Batiuk by our now-defunct sister blog, click here.

Death is just as much as part of life as laughter, and I think Batiuk was brave killing off a beloved character to bring about awareness. But I can see why some would be put off by something like this in the funnies. Nonetheless, I'm still reading -- I'm curious to know what you think.

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Scientists looks for cancer clues in Arizona and Nevada

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Several children in the Nevada and Arizona have developed strange cases of leukemia, and officials are trying to determine what the cause may be. So far, the search is centering on environmental factors.

Researchers from around the area are looking at genetic changes that happened during infancy (or before birth) as well as anything that may have changed before the mysterious onset of leukemia in this odd cluster in the desert.

Since 1997, 17 children have fallen ill from leukemia while three have died, and the water and environmental factor correlation still have produced no results, but progress is being made, according to the researchers. One thing that has been discovered -- a high amount of Tungsten has been discovered in the area where the leukemia cluster is contained.