Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go Nuts for Nuts and Popcorn

Nuts and popcorn are wonderful snacks for everyone to eat. We like to eat peanuts at baseball games and like to eat popcorn with our movies, but was worried eating too much of these wonderful snacks was not good for us because they affect our colon when we grow older. Well now there is a new reason for people to go nuts over popcorn and nuts. There is a new study released this week suggests that these foods may not increase diverticulosis risk, and that in fact people who eat lots of nuts and popcorn have lower rates of the disease than others. In a recent survey as many of 47% of colorectal surgeons agreed that their patients should avoid nuts and popcorn. The notion that these "abrasive foods" exacerbate diverticulosis is simply "an evolved theory" founded on a belief that nuts and seeds can lodge in the diverticula, the pouches or bulges that form in weak parts of the colon wall, and give the disease its name.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Swap this! 11 satisfying foods to flatten you faster

As you know, the more unhealthy food that you eat, the worse it is for your body. And if you like to snack on a bag of potato chips through out the day, that could be even worse! So what do you do? You just cant stop eating, you need your food. Well its easier than you thought. All you gotta do is swap! Want to drop a pound a week? You’ll need to cut about 500 calories a day. Don’t despair! Even if you’re addicted to snacking, all it takes is a few simple food swaps and you can enjoy a flatter belly — without a growling tummy. If you make these substitutions, you’ll not only look slimmer, you’ll be healthier, too. Many of the alternatives that are listed also contain monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) — such as olive oil or nuts — and whole grains. Studies show that both are powerful belly flatteners, as well as being more satiating than saturated fats and refined grains. In other words, you’ll feel fuller with smaller portions. Instead of starting breakfast with a blueberry muffin, prepare a whole grain English muffin topped with 1 tablespoon of blueberry fruit spread. The benefits of eating whole grains are largely derived from the nutrients in the outer layers of the grains, which are stripped away when making white flour and white rice. Whole grains are particularly high in insoluble fiber, which can help regulate digestion and lower bad cholesterol.Instead of drinking a 16-ounce soda, choose water with a squeeze of lemon. For energy it helps to drink water first thing in the morning. Drinking water 30 minutes before meals can help control cravings. Drinking water throughout the day can also boost your metabolism.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Medicare patients to experience price hike

Starting 2009, Medicare will increase its premium on is drug plan (or Part D) to 28 dollars monthly. The benefit was approved by the Bush Administration in 2003 as the most significant expansion of the Medicare program since its inception by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Associated Press reported that the said price hike was 37% lower than expected. Acting administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Kerry Weems said that the premium increase is necessary to keep up with the increasing costs of drugs, which he has attributed attributed to several factors, one of which is the increasing number of prescriptions per person.

The Medicare has given senior citizens a source of aid for their health care needs in the past few decades. But with the current budget deficits and skyrocketing health care costs, I believe that the whole program has become more of a bane than a useful thing in the country. I do believe that the best way to bring down prices is to pull the plug on these programs. Believe me, I do not want to see old people get thrown out on the street. However, I do believe that there are better ways of taking care of our senior citizens while also being fiscally responsible. Government programs such as Medicare and even Medicaid seem to be helpful on the surface, but it is one of the prime reasons why health care prices have soared. The more we rely on these programs, the more we become dependent on the government. Free market medicine is the answer will restore fiscal sanity while also providing a wide range of health care options to everyone for a cheap price.


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A new victory for alternative medicine

Alternative medicine has fascinated me primarily because it serves people with unorthodox ways of dealing with various illnesses. I don't know about you, but I think its amazing that we have more health care options than just the traditional drugs and doctors we have been so accustomed to see.

According to a recent article from the Associated Press, a university in New Mexico New Mexico is expanding its treatment options to include and "Native American healers and Mexican curanderas" in their repertoire of health care practitioners along with other alternative methods such as Chinese medicine as well as the Ayurveda, a form of holistic medicine which originated in India. Practitioners in the university also "work with yoga instructors, doctors of Oriental medicine or hypnotherapist". The center's director, Dr. Arti Prasad said that the newly incorporated alternative, holistic medicine methods date back to a thousand years and are mainly preventive in nature.

I believe alternative medicine is a good step in improving our health care system because it expands the range of choices for people looking to take care of their health. They may not be as tested and tried by many people, but that does not necessarily mean it is inferior and ineffective to modern medicine. I leave you with a quick anecdotal example. My anthropology professor told us about her cancer a few years ago, which doctors considered to be deadly and aggressive. As a half Native American, she decided to try to search for a cure amongst her people. She was brought to a "sweat ceremony", and a few weeks later she had a check up. To her and her doctor's surprise, all signs of cancer were gone. Was that the result of Native American healing? She believes it is.




Friday, August 15, 2008

Quitting smoking? Drug edges nicotine patch

We all know that smoking is bad for us. For those of you who do smoke and have tried to quit before, it seems impossible. Luckily, there's still hope for you. With a little help from a anti smoking drug. The anti-smoking drug Chantix appears more effective than the nicotine patch in helping people stop smoking, European and U.S. researchers report. In a study of 746 smokers, the investigators found that 56 percent of those who took for Chantix for 12 weeks were cigarette-free during the last month of treatment. That compared with 43 percent of those who used a nicotine patch. The study, funded by Chantix maker Pfizer Inc., is published in the medical journal Thorax. Chantix, also known as varenicline, acts on a brain receptor affected by nicotine; the drug blocks some of nicotine's effects, while also providing a nicotine-like "buzz" to curb withdrawal symptoms. For the current study, researchers led by Dr. Henri-Jean Aubin, of Hopital Emile Roux in France, randomly assigned smokers to either take Chantix for 12 weeks or use a nicotine patch for 10 weeks. They found that participants' self-reported abstinence rate during the last four weeks of treatment was higher with the drug than with the patch. After one year, 26 percent of the Chantix group was still abstinent, versus 20 percent of patch users. Dr. Paul Aveyard, who wrote an editorial published with the study, said that while the anti-smoking drug appears more effective than the nicotine patch and — as shown in earlier research — the antidepressant bupropion (Zyban), "it does not mean the competitors are now useless." "Stopping smoking is something people need to do many times before they are free of their addiction," explained Aveyard, of the University of Birmingham in the UK. "One person may find that one medication does not help them, while another does, and others, the reverse."

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

6 Guilt-Free Reasons to Love Carbs

Look, we all love our carbs. I mean, who doesn't? Who doesn't love their sandwiches or hamburgers with bread or a bun? Or what about pasta or a muffin? Well there are now a few reason why we should love our carbs, and not have to feel guilty about it. It’s time to give up the carb guilt. When we pack on the pounds, we often blame it on eating too many carbohydrates. But not all carbs are loaded with starchy calories. And if you severely limit how many carbs you eat — to the point where even a dry cracker seems like a splurge — you’ll be missing some of the tastiest, most nutritious, and, yes, most slimming foods around. When was the last time you had the flu and craved a steak? When we don’t feel well, we usually reach for the comforting starches such as pasta and rice we were given as kids. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads and cereals with oats or other whole grains, stimulate the brain to produce a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is the feel-good hormone that helps regulate our mood, sleep and appetite. It also helps fight pain. Other serotonin-inducing carbs include whole wheat pastas, brown rice, bulgur and sweet potatoes. Doughnuts may never be health food, but carbohydrates typically contain only four calories per gram. Most foods that are naturally high in complex carbohydrates (broccoli, red, green and yellow peppers, beans, corn and brown rice) are not calorie-dense, yet they are filling and satisfying. That’s why cutting carbs from your diet when you’re trying to lose weight can be counter-productive. A recommended serving is either one slice of bread, 1/3 cup of rice or 1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as oatmeal. If you want to fight hunger pangs, make room for resistant starch in your diet. Resistant starch is a kind of dietary fiber found in many carbohydrates like potatoes, barley and beans. Resistant starches are formed when these foods are cooked and cooled, such as cooked-and-chilled potatoes. This nutrient may play a significant role in promoting weight loss by helping stave off cravings. Although it’s not clear how much resistant starch we need each day, it can improve blood sugar levels and may even protect against certain cancers.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Man sheds 80 pounds on McDonald's diet

When you think of McDonalds, you think of fat and gaining weight. Studies have shown this to be true. Except for one man in Virginia. A Virginia man lost about 80 pounds in six months by eating nearly every meal at McDonald's. Not Big Macs, french fries and chocolate shakes. Mostly salads, wraps and apple dippers without the caramel sauce. Chris Coleson tipped the scales at 278 pounds in December. The 5-foot-8 Coleson now weighs 199 pounds and his waist size has dropped from 50 to 36. The 42-year-old businessman from Quinton says he chose McDonald's because it's convenient. His inspiration came from his two children and from the story of a blind war veteran who rode a tandem bicycle cross-country. Coleson says his goal is to get back to the 185 pounds he weighed when he married Tricia Summer. Their 10th anniversary is Saturday.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Meds that do not mix

The federal government's Food and Drug Administration has recently issued a warning, saying that it would be best to not use some medicines for high cholesterol and "irregular heartbeat" at the same time. The FDA said using such drugs could result in muscle damage. The agency had initially issued a similar warning in 2002, but was prodded to issue another one after recent complaints of muscle injuries in patients. Doctors were advised to find other alternatives to such medications. Zocor and Vytorine, medications used to treat high cholesterol, were some of the drugs specifically mentioned by the FDA, saying that they should not be prescribed to someone using "amiodarone, a heart rhythm drug marketed as Cordarone or Pacerone". It is important to note, however, that while the risks are minimal, all cholesterol drugs carry some risks of muscle damage, particularly among older people.




America gets fatter

We have been warned. In a recent article from Reuters, studies show that just about every adult in the United States will be overweight in 40 years. If I live long enough, I'll be 59 by then. Or maybe I'll get fatter faster than the rest of the country. I am not alone, however. A huge portion of the country, about two-thirds, are already heavier than they should be. Dr. Lan Liang of the Agency for Health care Research and Quality said that it seems impossible to imagine all adults to be overweight, but at the rate we're going, that prospect is becoming more and more real each day. African-American and Mexican American minorities in particular, she said, are the most affected groups in the population.

Well, should we be scared? Absolutely. But hey, it's not too late. A scientific study is not set in stone. If we assume more responsibility for ourselves, we just might be able to avert this from happening. So jump on the treadmill, lay off the junk food, and see the good results.




Wednesday, August 6, 2008

10 Infant Deaths Tied to Cold Meds

If your baby is sick from the common cold, and your trying to decide whether or not to give your baby over-the-counter cold medicine be sure to read the fine print. If the bottle says to not give it to children under the age of 2, DON'T. Other parents have ignored this precaution, and as a result, 10 infants have died. The investigators found that of 21 infants who died unexpectedly and had autopsy data available, 10 had evidence that they been given cough or cold medication shortly before they died. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, do not prove that the medications caused or contributed to the infants’ deaths, but they add weight to a recent warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that parents not give cough and cold remedies to children younger than 2. “We strongly recommend that parents not use these medications,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Rimsza of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, the lead researcher on the new study. Cold and cough medications typically contain a combination of decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressants — all of which can have serious side effects in young children, including increased blood pressure, heart rate disturbance, and depressed breathing. While these dangers are now recognized, until now no study had examined the possible role of cough and cold medications in unexplained infant deaths.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cervical Cancer Shot Not Cleared For Ages 27-45

Gardasil has offered young women everywhere a vaccination that protects against strains of the Human Papillomavirus that causes cervical cancer. But there's a bit of a catch, Gardasil is only offered to girls and young women between the ages of 9 to 26. Gardasil has been working hard to make this vaccination available to women ages 27-45, but that has happened yet. U.S. regulators have told Merck & Co they cannot yet approve Merck's application to expand marketing of its cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to an older group of women, the drugmaker said on Wednesday. Merck had applied for the use of Gardasil in women ages 27 through 45. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a letter regarding the application that it has completed its review and there are "issues" that preclude approval within the expected review time frame, Merck said. "It's hard to get a feel for if this is a dead issue or if this is delayed," said Linda Bannister, an analyst for Edward Jones. "At the minimum, it's going to be delayed." Merck said it also failed to win FDA approval to expand Gardasil to protect against more strains of the Human Papillomavirus that causes cervical cancer. The company for now is dropping plans to pursue that expansion, a spokeswoman said. Gardasil, approved in June 2006 for preventing cervical cancer and genital warts in females ages 9-26, has been one of Merck's most successful newer products and has helped the company recover after the 2004 withdrawal of its Vioxx arthritis treatment.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Moms: Why Are You Feeling so Tired

We all know that the hardest job in the world is being a mother.Lets face it, your stressed and haven't got enough sleep. But why are you really so tired? There are a few explanations. Did you eat lunch? Maybe you were too busy, maybe you were trying to lose some baby weight. Whatever the reason lunch didn't happen, it's bringing you down. You've probably heard that breakfast is super important, and it is -- but moms, whether they're rushing around at home or at work, are often guiltier of skipping lunch. And to maintain your energy, you can't wait until dinner to eat.

Ok, maybe you did eat lunch, but did you eat a good lunch? Even if you are eating often enough, you may not be doing yourself any big favors with what you're eating. White bread, microwavable meals, and juice boxes can make for too much starch, salt, and sugar. These kinds of foods (so prevalent in a house with kids) will just give you a quick rush of energy that'll send you crashing back down in a few hours. What you need is protein (to increase dopamine production in the brain, which will help you feel more alert) and vitamins. And don't cut out the carbs -- the good kind give your body long-term energy.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

The neglected illnesses

I am surprised that there is still some debate these days, particularly in the political arena, about putting mental disorders on par with physical illnesses. It was disappointing to know that one of the better candidates of this year's presidential election was actually against putting mental and physical diseases on equal footing. Maybe this is the reason why people are kind of averse when it comes to admitting they are suffeirng from a mental problem. Unfortunately, there is some stigma attached to mental disorders. There are a number of such diseases, some of it collectively categorized under the umbrealla of "anxiety disorders"

Today, I plan to talk about what is called "generalized anxiety disorder". According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, such disorder "is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things." Suffering from "GAD" involves a constant distress that something terrible may happen despite the fact that such events may not be likely to occur. People who have GAD may worry about common problems, including their family, their occupation, etc to a point that it hinders their normal ability to function.

This is not to say, however, that everyone who feels anxious instantly has a mental disorder. It is normal for people to get stressed out once in a while. Today's lifestyle would create some personal tensions. But those cases can be aided by proper eating habits, exercise, and even supplementary foods and vitamins. However, if such anxiety goes beyond what seems to be normal, then it is time to go consult a doctor. There is nothing wrong with having a check up for mental disorders because they have just about the same power as physical diseases to incapacitate a person.




Women, beware

According to a recent Science Daily article, women who possess a certain gene variant and experience "migraine with aura" are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, which may include heart attacks and and ischemic strokes. The study was conducted on about 25000 Caucasian women, 18 percent of whom had histories of migraine. Also, of the women who reported to suffer form migraine, 40% said that they had "migraine with aura", which "can be described as neurological symptoms that usually last for about 30 minutes and most often lead to visual disturbances", according to the Science Daily article. The article reported that women with migraine with aura and the gene variant was about three times more likely than women without the gene variant and no history of migraine to suffer from heart ailments. Scientists studying this case, however, have yet to conduct the study on men.

All in all, the study is still in the works, and once crticism I would point out is that it only included white women. The sample for this study is definitely not representative of the population and should be expounded in the future if it is to have some teeth. Meanwhile, the most important thing to remember is that despite whatever biological makeup a person has, prevention is better than a pound of cure. People still have some level of control over their body and can avert some risks for diseases by living and staying healthy.

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