Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 Little-Known Body Facts

Surprising statistics on stomach size, ear hair and more.

1.You Use 100-Percent of Your Brain
Think you're only using 10 percent of your possible brain power? Think again. A little critical thinking will have you calling shenanigans on that myth. After all, if you removed 90 percent of your brain, you'd basically be left with the thinking power of a sheep, according to Eric Chudler, Ph.D., research associate professor in the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington. Dr. Chudler has attempted to trace the history of the "10 percent myth" and written several articles on the topic. He reports that, during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, doctors can see what areas of the brain are being used, based on how much blood is being directed there. According to Dr. Chudler, 100 percent of the brain has been shown to have a function.

2.The average infant spends 18 hours a day sleeping.
If you have your own little one, though, you may have noticed that the sleep isn't consecutive (or, necessarily at times convenient to you). That's because babies sleep differently than adults. For the first few years of life, humans sleep a lot, but in shorter chunks, spending less time in REM sleep—the stage of sleep where the brain is active and dreams happen—and much more time in more relaxed slow wave sleep, according to the Society for Neuroscience. Adults pretty much sleep the opposite way: in long stretches, less time total, more REM. There's some evidence that the difference may be related to the needs of a growing body. Research has suggested that slow-wave sleep is connected to the release of human growth hormone.

3.Most people hit their peak bone mass at age 30.
Peak bone mass is the point where your body stops building up bone tissue. At that point, your bones won't ever increase in density. Men may be able to coast, but women lose a lot of their bone tissue during menopause and, according to the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the lower your peak bone mass, the more likely you are to develop osteoporosis later. Unfortunately, as much as 75 percent of bone mass is related to genetic factors you can't control. But women can take charge of the other 25 percent by making sure they get enough calcium and vitamin D (particularly in their teens); taking hormonal birth control (which the NIAMSD says is linked to high bone density); not smoking; and exercising regularly—but not too much. Young women who exercise or starve themselves to the point they stop having their period also lose large amounts of bone tissue, and may never be able to build it back.

4.The average person's body holds 1.3 gallons of blood.
There's more than a milk jug full of fluid coursing through your veins, where it functions somewhat like a courier service. Blood is responsible for both delivering the things your body desperately needs—like oxygen—and carting off the things it desperately needs to throw out, like the toxic wastes that end up being filtered out of the body by the kidneys. And it does all of this very, very fast. The heart, the organ responsible for getting all that blood to move around, pumps as much blood as is in the body every minute; when you're sitting still, that is. Up your activity level and your heart can end up pumping more than five gallons of blood per minute.

5.You have 2 million tiny hairs in your inner ear.
Unlike hair growing on the surface of your ears, the presence of hairs, or "stereocilia," deep inside your head aren't considered a hygiene lapse. Instead, they're a vitally important part of your ability to hear, responsible for changing physical sound waves into electrical signals that can be understood by your brain, according to the British Hearing Research Trust. When stereocilia are hit with a sound vibration, they produce electricity and begin to "dance," stretching and compressing. In May 2008, researchers at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis figured out that this dancing, and the protein that causes it, is probably how stereocilia amplify sounds. If those tiny hairs can't dance, the brain they're connected to can't hear high-frequency sounds and might even be rendered deaf.

6.The eye has three separate processing systems.
New research shows it takes a village to help you see, according to the Society for Neuroscience. Right now, we know of at least three separate processing systems that help your brain make sense of visual data: One that focuses on shape, another devoted to color, and a third that takes on the task of interpreting movement and location. The Society reports that psychologists have found that humans can see and understand things like depth perception and texture even without color being involved. Instead, contrasts in light intensity help us pick up on this information.

7.Your tongue can pick up 5 different types of taste sensations.
Back in grade school, you probably learned that the human tongue can pick up four different kinds of tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But those textbooks left out another flavor sensation: umami. Taken from the Japanese word for "yummy," umami was first identified as a primary flavor back in 1908 by a Japanese chemist who was inspired to look for it after eating a bowl of seaweed soup. He found a chemical that is to umami what sugar is to sweet. It's monosodium glutamate, or MSG. But MSG isn't the only way to tickle your umami taste buds. Often described as the "savory" taste, umami sensations are naturally produced by foods like meat, aged cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms.

8.In 1900, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
Back then, only 4 percent of the population was older than 65 and, according to the Society for Neuroscience, most of them weren't doing so hot. Today, the average life expectancy is more than 77 years. So why are we living, and staying healthier, longer? There are a number of reasons, most of them related to health care. Since 1900, vaccinations have increased; we've improved safety standards for everything from workplaces to transportation; and we've developed medical breakthroughs that are making once life-threatening injuries, chronic ailments and illnesses curable, or at least controllable. But, according to the CDC, the biggest change has been in infant mortality. It's no coincidence that, as life expectancy rates have increased, mortality rates for babies have fallen by 90 percent, while rates of maternal deaths have dropped by 99 percent.

9.8-month-old babies have 1,000 trillion brain synapses.
Synapses are connections between neurons, the cells that control brain functioning. Baby brains go crazy with these connections, making many more than adult brains need. This way, the brain is able to learn what the most useful and efficient connections are, rather than having to have this information programmed into genes. If a synapse doesn't get used, it gets pruned away. By the time a child is 10, the number of synapses in his brain has been cut by half.
Because of this, what people learn in early childhood is incredibly important. If a child doesn't learn to talk, which has happened in some cases of severe neglect, it's likely they'll never be able to, because the synapses that would have enabled communication were never used and therefore destroyed. On the other hand, if the pruning process doesn't stop naturally, as it normally does, even essential connections can get the ax. Researchers at Stanford University recently discovered that certain degenerative diseases, including glaucoma, get their start when the brain continues to destroy synapses.

10.The volume of an average adult's empty stomach is 1/5 of a cup.
But that's empty. Stuffed with grub, the volume of the stomach can reach upwards of a little over a gallon. Of course, everybody's stomach size is different, and that, combined with recent developments in gastric bypass surgery, has left some people thinking that skinny-minnies just have naturally smaller stomachs. But that's not necessarily so. A study published in 2005 in the journal Obesity Surgery compared the stomach sizes of morbidly obese patients with those of controls and found that the obese don't have bigger stomachs. The stomach volumes were largely the same between patients and controls. However, other research has shown that people who have a history of overeating also have a larger-than-average stomach capacity. The take-away lesson: Having a naturally larger stomach volume alone won't make you fat, but regular overeating can increase your stomach volume and create a cycle where it becomes harder to get full and increasingly difficult to return to healthy eating habits, which can take a toll on your weight.

5 Foods That Feed Cholesterol

There’s no denying that a healthy diet is the first line of defense against rising cholesterol. “If you eat a predominantly plant-based diet—with lots of fruits and vegetables plus some fish—you are on the right track to keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level,” says Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. That said, certain so-called super-foods can actually help lower bad cholesterol and/or increase the good cholesterol. Ideally, you want to shoot for total cholesterol under 200, with LDL (the bad one) under 110 and HDL (the good one) greater than 35.

Try to reduce—or better yet, eliminate—these bad-for-you foods from your repertoire:

Baked goods
Many manufacturers of packaged cookies and cakes have eliminated trans fats from their recipes, but check the nutrition labels to be sure. But all baked goods—even those that are homemade—are high in saturated fats, thanks to the butter and shortening. Since no one wants to give up dessert completely, eat high-fat baked goods only occasionally, opting more often for low-fat sweets like sorbets.

To help fight cholesterol, try to incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet.

Tropical oils
Palm kernel and coconut oils are two of the fattiest of oils—100 percent of the bad-for-you saturated variety. Don’t use them when you cook at home, and try to avoid them when you eat out (most fast-food restaurants have eliminated them, but you can check their Web sites for detailed nutritional information). Use heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like olive, canola and safflower oil, instead. According to the ADA, “Eating too many foods high in saturated fat may increase blood levels of [lipoprotein] LDL and total cholesterol. High blood levels of LDL and total cholesterol are risk factors for heart disease.” The World Health Organization came to similar conclusions about saturated fatty acids.

Fast-food fries
Even worse than saturated fats are the dreaded trans fats. “You might as well take a gun and shoot yourself!” says Dorfman. The main source of trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils, and that’s exactly what most fast-food restaurants are still using to cook their fries. Trans fats hit cholesterol with a double whammy—in addition to raising your LDL, they simultaneously lower your HDL.

Processed meats
Bacon, sausage, liverwurst and the like are also wonderful sources of artery-clogging saturated fat. Look for lower-fat options, like bacon and sausage made from turkey and other lean protein sources.

Whole-milk dairy products
Saturated fat, which clogs arteries and increases LDL levels, is the No. 1 cholesterol-boosting culprit. And foods like ice cream and cheese are where you’re likely to find them. Swap out the Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby for a lower-fat frozen yogurt, and skip the brie in favor of something less rich, like a part-skim mozzarella.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Is a "Good Death"?

Helping to ensure a "good death"
Poets, professors, priests, and plain folks all opine about what makes a "good death." In truth, deaths are nearly as unique as the lives that came before them—shaped by the attitudes, physical conditions, medical treatments, and mix of people that accompany them.
Still, many have pointed to a few common factors that can help a death seem good—and even inspiring—as opposed to frightening, sad, or tortuous. By most standards, a good death is one in which a person dies on his or her own terms, relatively free from pain, in a supported and dignified setting. Other things to consider:

Having affairs in order
Not everyone has the luxury of planning for death. But those who take the time and make the effort to think about their deaths during life and plan for some of the details of their final care and comfort are more apt to retain some control and say-so in their final months and days of life.

Legal specifics of such planning can include taking steps to get affairs in order by:

-Having an estate plan, with a will, trust, or other arrangement that sets out who gets property and how it should be divided.
-Specifying final medical care in an advance directive.
-Making final arrangements for body burial or cremation.
-Indicating preferences for a funeral or memorial service. Psychological preparation includes
talking about an impending death with caregivers, family members, and others.

Controlling pain and discomfort
Most Americans say they would prefer to die at home , according to recent polls. Yet the reality is that three-quarters of the population dies in some sort of medical institution, many of them after spending time in an intensive care unit.

As life expectancies increase, more people are becoming proactive . A growing number of aging patients are choosing not to have life-prolonging treatments that might ultimately increase pain and suffering—such as invasive surgery or dialysis—and deciding instead to have comfort or palliative care through hospice in their final days.

Having few regrets
Often quoted in the literature on death and dying are the tenets in The Four Things That Matter Most, by Ira Byock, a medical doctor who professes the need for a dying person to express four thoughts at the end of life:

I love you.
Thank you.
I forgive you.
Forgive me.

This supports the idea that, for many people, a good death requires ending life without unfinished business, and with reconciling damaged or broken relationships when possible.

Receiving mindful care and support
The right company can help aid a "good death." Although dying may be scary or sad or simply unfamiliar to those who are witnessing it, studies of terminally ill patients underscore one common desire: to be treated as live human beings until the moment they die.
@-Most also say they don't want to be alone during their final days and moments. This means that caregivers should find out what kind of medical care the dying person wants administered or withheld and be sure that the medical personnel on duty are fitting in skill and temperament.
@-Favorite activities or objects can be as important as final medical care. Caregivers should ascertain the tangible and intangible things that would be most pleasing and comforting to the patient in the final days: favorite music or readings, a vase of flowers, a back rub or foot massage, being surrounded by loved ones in quiet or conversation.
@-Spirituality can help many people find strength and meaning during their final moments. Think about the patient's preferred spiritual or religious teachings and underpinnings, since ensuring access to this can be especially soothing at the end of life.

8 Things in Your Home That May Be Harming You

Home sweet home, right? Well, sort of. You may be unaware of the potential health dangers lurking in your abode—from critters in the kitchen to bugs in the bedroom. Here’s what you need to know and what to do.

Your salt and pepper shakers
When’s the last time you cleaned your salt and pepper shakers? Exactly. These unassuming little items get touched in all parts of the meal-prep process. Example: You give your sauce a dash of salt after touching raw chicken (oops) and then later set the shaker on the table.
What to do
Nobody thinks of cleaning their salt and pepper shakers, says Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor and co-director Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College, but to avoid cross-contamination and food poisoning, you should. “Best to wipe them with an EPA-registered disinfectant,” she says. “But better still, always wash your hands after handling raw foods and before touching anything else.”

Your doorknob
Think of the people who have touched your front doorknob in the past 48 hours: the UPS man, a neighbor, a solicitor, your friends—it’s easy to lose count. Now think of all the places they’ve been—the subway, public restrooms, grocery stores. Those germs are all on your doorknob right now, says Tierno.

Most people let their guard down when it comes to their own door handles, he says, but we shouldn’t: “Viruses can survive for days on doorknobs, and you can easily get cross contamination from them,” he says.
What to do
Make a habit of wiping down your doorknob frequently with sanitizing wipes or sprays. Have a copper doorknob? You may be in luck. Researchers in England found that copper door handles had 95 percent fewer microorganisms on them compared with other doorknobs. Scientists believe that many germs, including MRSA, may not be able to survive on copper.

Your humidifier
Watch out for the humidifier, say germ experts. “If it’s not cleaned properly, a humidifier can become a repository for legionella and other pathogens that cause respiratory infections,” says Tierno.
What to do
If you like sleeping with a humidifier in your room, be sure to clean it often—at least a few times a week—by mixing a solution of one-part bleach to 19 parts water (for most humidifiers, this would equal about a half or full cup of bleach) and letting it sit for a few minutes before rinsing well.

Your laundry
Nobody thinks of the washing machine as a germ magnet—that’s where clothes get clean, right? Not if you’re using a public machine, and especially if that machine uses water that’s not hot enough, says Tierno.

Here’s why: Lower temperatures can encourage the spread of germs. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that intestinal viruses such as hepatitis A can be easily transferred from underwear to other garments during the washing process. Even worse, some germs can lurk in public washing machines and find their way to your clothes.
What to do
Wash your underwear and towels separately, using bleach if possible, and wash all towels in water that’s at least 155 degrees, which will kill most germs. Not sure if your apartment’s water temperature is hot enough? Talk to the building manager.

Your shower curtain
According to research by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice, shower curtains and liners made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) may be harmful to your health.

Their study suggests that PVC releases potentially harmful chemicals into your bathroom. While there is still some debate among health experts about how much of these chemicals could be deemed harmful, many believe that limiting your exposure to chemicals, wherever possible, makes sense.
What to do
check your shower curtain’s label to see if it’s made of vinyl or PVC. While not all manufacturers disclose this information, some retailers, like Ikea, have banned PVC shower curtains altogether, and Target has promised to phase out the material in its shower-curtain products in the months ahead.

Your laptop
You’re the only one who uses it, so how dirty can it be? In a word: filthy. A study by researchers at the University of North Carolina Health Care System found that keyboards were loaded with germs.
Even more disgusting, the average public toilet bowl contains 41 germs per square inch. The average personal keyboard? Some 21,000 germs per square inch. “Toilet bowls get cleaned,” says Philip M. Tierno Jr., Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, “but keyboards rarely do.”
What to do
Tierno says the best way to keep your laptop or computer’s keyboard clean is to gently wipe it down daily with disinfecting wipes.

Your bed
Have you been on a trip recently? If so, you may have brought home some hitchhikers—of the creepy-crawly variety. Bedbugs, tiny bloodthirsty insects, are hosts to organisms that cause hepatitis B and Chagas disease, say health experts. But the real problem seems to be the infections and allergic reactions that can sometimes result from bedbug bites.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bedbugs are on the rise and becoming an increasing health problem. The insects, which hide in the crevices of mattresses and bedding, are showing up everywhere, from hostels to the swankiest hotels, and they often find their way into people’s luggage, transporting themselves to unsuspecting homes.
What to do
If you’ve done some traveling recently, and especially if you’ve noticed any mysterious bug bites, wash everything in your luggage and consider scrubbing your suitcase with a stiff brush before giving it a good vacuuming.

Your kitchen sponge
Maybe you’ve heard about the germs on your kitchen sponge (gross news flash—there may be as many as 20 million microbes on it right now). But here’s the deal: Your method for “cleaning” that sponge may be leaving it loaded with potentially hazardous bacteria that can make you ill. Researchers at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found that some common cleaning methods for sponges—soaking them in a bleach solution, lemon juice or water—did not eradicate the germs.
What to do
The best ways to clean a dirty sponge, they say, are in the microwave (on high for one minute) and in the dishwasher, which will kill 99.9 percent of all germs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is a high-risk pregnancy?
Your pregnancy is called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of a health problem. Many things can put you at high risk. Being called "high-risk" may sound scary. But it's just a way for doctors to make sure that you get special attention during your pregnancy. Your doctor will watch you closely during your pregnancy to find any problems early.

The conditions listed below put you and your baby at a higher risk for problems, such as slowed growth for the baby, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and problems with the placenta. But it's important to remember that being at high risk doesn't mean that you or your baby will have problems.

Your health plan may have its own list of what makes a pregnancy high-risk. In general, your pregnancy may be high-risk if:

*You have a health problem, such as:
-High blood pressure.
-Kidney disease.
*You use alcohol or illegal drugs, or you smoke.
*You are younger than 17 or older than 35.
*You are pregnant with more than one baby (multiple pregnancy).
*You have had three or more miscarriages.
*Your baby has been found to have a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome, or a heart,
lung,or kidney problem.
*You had a problem in a past pregnancy, such as:
-Preterm labor.
-Preeclampsia or seizures (eclampsia).
-Having a baby with a genetic problem, such as Down syndrome.
*You have an infection, such as HIV or hepatitis C. Other infections that can cause a problem
include cytomegalovirus (CMV), chickenpox, rubella, toxoplasmosis, and syphilis.
*You are taking certain medicines, such as lithium, phenytoin (such as Dilantin), valproic acid
(Depakene), or carbamazepine (such as Tegretol).
Other health problems can make your pregnancy high-risk. These include heart valve problems, sickle cell disease, asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about any health problems you have.

How will your doctor care for you during your pregnancy?
You will have more visits to the doctor than a woman who does not have a high-risk pregnancy. You may have more ultrasound tests to make sure that your baby is growing well. You will have regular blood pressure checks. And your urine will be tested to look for protein (a sign of preeclampsia) and urinary tract infections.

Tests for genetic or other problems also may be done, especially if you are 35 or older or you had a genetic problem in a past pregnancy.

Your doctor will prescribe any medicine you may need, such as for diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure.

Talk to your doctor about where he or she would like you to give birth. Your doctor may want you to have your baby in a hospital that offers special care for women and babies who may have problems.

If your doctor thinks that your health or your baby's health is at risk, you may need to have the baby early.

What type of doctor will you see for a high-risk pregnancy?
Some women will see a doctor who has extra training in high-risk pregnancies. These doctors are called maternal-fetal specialists, or perinatologists. You may see this doctor and your regular doctor. Or the specialist may be your doctor throughout your pregnancy.

What can you do to help have a healthy pregnancy?
You can help yourself and your baby be as healthy as possible:
-Go to all your doctor visits so that you don't miss tests to catch any new problems.
Eat a healthy diet that includes protein, milk and milk products, fruits, and vegetables. Talk to
your doctor about any changes you may need in your diet.
-Take any medicines, iron, or vitamins that your doctor prescribes. Don't take any vitamins or
medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) without talking to your doctor first.
-Make sure to get 0.4 mg (400 mcg) of folic acid from fortified food, supplements, or a mix of
food plus supplements. Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking folic acid before and during early
pregnancy reduces your chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect or other birth
-Follow your doctor's directions for activity. Your doctor will let you know if you can work and
-Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and
medicines. Avoid other people's tobacco smoke.
-Do not drink alcohol.
-Stay away from people who have colds and other infections.
Your doctor may ask you to keep track of how much your baby moves every day. One way to do this is to note how much time it takes to feel 10 movements.
What symptoms should you watch for?
Like any pregnant woman, you need to watch for any signs of problems. This doesn't mean that you will have any problems. But if you have any of these symptoms, it's important to get care quickly.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you think you need emergency care. For example, call if:

You pass out (lose consciousness).
You have severe vaginal bleeding.
You have severe pain in your belly or pelvis.
You have had fluid gushing or leaking from your vagina and you know or think the umbilical cord is bulging into your vagina. If this happens, immediately get down on your knees so your rear end (buttocks) is higher than your head. This will decrease the pressure on the cord until help arrives.
Call your doctor now or seek medical care right away if:
*You have signs of preeclampsia, such as:
- Sudden swelling of your face, hands, or feet.
- New vision problems (such as dimness or blurring).
A severe headache.
*You have any vaginal bleeding.
*You have belly pain or cramping.
*You have a fever.
*You have had regular contractions (with or without pain) for an hour. This means that you have
8 or more within 1 hour or 4 or more in 20 minutes after you change your position and drink
*You have a sudden release of fluid from your vagina.
*You have low back pain or pelvic pressure that does not go away.
*You notice that your baby has stopped moving or is moving much less than normal.

How To Get Kids To Eat Healthy

The 14,300 students served by the public school cafeterias in Lee's Summit, Mo., have delicious yet healthy options.

Among the menu items are fresh watermelon, fresh carrots with low-fat ranch dip, baked chicken nuggets, chilled (frozen) strawberries, low-fat mashed potatoes with non-fat gravy, and pizza with whole grain crust and low-fat cheese. They even enjoy roasted, shredded pork sandwiches with homemade whole grain rolls dressed in a low-sodium barbecue sauce--perhaps no surprise for a district that resides in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

"We're educating them through the meals we provide," says Jane Hentzler, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition services for the school district. The healthy fare, she says, is designed to teach the schoolchildren about the proper ratio of nutrients and how to create balanced meals with the best ingredients available.

Hentzler's approach, which also includes classroom lessons on nutrition, is part of a nationwide trend that aims to increase access to minimally processed fresh food at school. The alarming rate of childhood obesity has prompted the reformative strategy at school districts across the country; 12.4% of children ages 2 to 5 are overweight or obese, as are 17% of children and teens between 6 and 19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids who are obese in their preschool years are more likely to be obese adults and have higher chances of developing hypertension, asthma and diabetes.

In Pictures: 8 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Make Healthy Choices
Yet, healthier school fare is only one part of a successful equation. Arguably more important is the role parents play in teaching their children about nutrition and making healthier choices.
Educated Eating
In that respect, parents have more help from school cafeterias than ever before.

A recent report produced by the School Nutrition Association, a lobbying and membership organization of 55,000 food-service directors, caterers and manufacturers, found that more schools offer healthy options.

In a survey of 1,200 food-service directors, nearly 60% reported that they currently provide or are considering offering local fruits and vegetables. Since 2007, vegetarian options have increased by 12%, and low-fat prepared and packaged foods have increased by 11.5%. More than 90% of those surveyed said their schools provided whole grain items and salad bars or pre-packaged salads.

Top Tips
*Respect Likes and Dislikes
*Appeal to Their Interests
*Talk About Nutrition
*Be Mindful of Hidden Calories

The shift partly has to do with changing student demand and local and state wellness initiatives. This fall, Congress will also determine whether or not to increase funding and institute national guidelines for the Child Nutrition Act, which is renewed every five years and spends $12 billion annually to feed breakfast and lunch to 31 million schoolchildren.

Cathy Schuchart, staff vice president for the SNA's Child Nutrition and Policy Center, says that more uniform guidelines will help food manufacturers, who often try to accommodate different local and state regulations by making several versions of the same product, become more efficient. Extra cost-savings, says Schuchart, will allow providers to focus on incorporating higher quality but more expensive items like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Though major strides have been made in providing more nutritious food to schoolchildren, more work remains. The NPD Group, a market research company, has found differences between what children ages 6 through 12 eat when their lunch is packed at home versus when it is bought at the cafeteria.

Though kids who dine on cafeteria food are most likely to enjoy milk, a sandwich and fruit (in that order), they also frequently eat pizza and French fries. Children who bring their lunch from home are most likely to pack a sandwich, fruit and a salty snack. Cookies are popular in both groups, but kids with home-packed lunches are also likely to bring yogurt and crackers.
Model Behavior
The differences between the groups demonstrate what is obvious: Mom and dad have some sway when it comes to healthy eating. In fact, NPD's research has also shown that children are most likely to receive guidance on healthy eating from a female parent, followed by the school and then from a male parent.

"Modeling is so important," says Kerry Neville, a registered dietitian in Kirkland, Wash., and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "I see so many examples of parents saying one thing and doing another." A diet-soda drinking parent who asks a child to fill his or her glass with milk, for example, will meet resistance.

Neville also recommends that parents stock the house with healthy choices and make them visible, which may seem intuitive but is an often overlooked step. While making dinner for her 9-year-old son, Neville places carrots and dip and a fruit basket on the counter to steer him toward nutritious snacks.

Setting guidelines and monitoring a child's diet can provide structure, but Neville says the line between being watchful and policing is thin. She allows her son to have just one treat a day, whether that's a soda or cupcake and gently reinforces the rule when she can. Neville also reviews the school lunch menu with him and asks about his favorite items so that she's aware of his choices and can help better inform them when necessary.

Instead of aiming for perfection, Neville tries for consistency so that her son is regularly exposed to healthy options.
"It really is tough," she says. "The best you can do is to make sure they eat healthy when they are under your control."

7 Foods That May Lower Your Cholesterol

Drinking a glass of wine with dinner—any alcoholic beverage, in fact—has been shown to raise good-cholesterol levels and lower the risk of a heart attack. (Excessive drinking, however, raises heart-disease danger.)

The monounsaturated fats in avocados have been found to lower bad LDLs and raise good HDLs, especially in people with mildly elevated cholesterol.

When volunteers in a 2004 USDA study added barley to the standard American Heart Association diet, LDL-cholesterol levels fell by up to 17 percent.

Blueberries contain a powerful antioxidant called pterostilbene that may help lower LDL cholesterol, scientists at the Agricultural Research Service reported in 2004.

Beans and lentils
In results reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2005, LDL-cholesterol levels fell almost twice as far in volunteers on a low-fat diet who added beans and lentils (along with more whole grains and vegetables) to the menu.

A 2005 Tufts University study found that substances in almond skins help prevent LDL cholesterol from being oxidized, a process that can otherwise damage the lining of blood vessels and increase cardiovascular risk.

Following an overall healthy diet that's low in saturated fat and abundant in fruits and vegetables is wiser than obsessing over specific "super" foods.

Still, some foods have been shown to give cholesterol levels an extra nudge in the right direction:

When women in a University of Toronto study added oat bran to an already heart-healthy diet, HDL-cholesterol levels—the beneficial kind—climbed more than 11 percent.

Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away

Medications, personal hygiene, mask-wearing and quarantines all help prevent the spread of viral infections such as the flu, and researchers now suggest that the latter three strategies should be given more attention in plans to deal with pandemics.

In an update of a 2007 study, Dr. Tom Jefferson of the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group in Rome, Italy, and colleagues reviewed the results of 59 studies that looked at the effectiveness of strategies to reduce the spread of viral germs that cause respiratory diseases such as the flu and SARS. The new review appears online Sept. 22 in BMJ.

The researchers looked at studies that compared a number of strategies (quarantine/isolation, distancing sick people from healthy people through other methods, better hygiene) with other interventions, or doing nothing.

The review found that wearing gloves, gowns and masks is effective, and so is hand washing more than 10 times a day. The strategies are even more effective when people use more than one of them.

Jefferson's team also found that the highest quality studies reported that the spread of diseases can be lowered through hygiene in households and among young children.

The researchers found only limited evidence that so-called N95 facial masks, which are uncomfortable and expensive, are better than simple surgical masks.

Also, they noted that it is unclear whether people need to add antiseptics to normal soap and water.

The researchers called for national school programs to encourage hand washing and stressed that gloves, gowns, masks and isolation of certain patients are all appropriate when there's high risk that the respiratory diseases will spread.

"More resources should be invested into studying which physical interventions are the most effective, flexible and cost-effective means of minimizing the impact of acute respiratory tract infections," the study authors concluded.

Successful Dieters Show Unique Brain Patterns

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that people who have successfully lost weight will activate certain parts of their brains when confronted with images of food.

While preliminary, the findings indicate that those who shed pounds -- and keep them off -- tap into regions of the brain related to control over urges.

"It may be that they actually recruit new brain regions to help with their weight loss," said study author Jeanne McCaffery, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School, in Providence, R.I.

McCaffery and her colleagues wanted to understand how people react to "food cues" -- in this case, photos of food. "People make decisions about whether or not they're going to eat food, and that decision-making usually comes when they first smell or see the food," she said.
The researchers recruited several groups of participants: 18 people of normal weight, 16 fat people and 17 people who had successfully shed weight -- at least 30 pounds from their maximum weight -- and kept it off for at least three years.

The participants underwent brain scans as they looked at pictures of high-calorie and low-calorie foods. The MRI scans revealed that those who had successfully lost weight showed more activity in the parts of the brain that are associated with inhibition and in dealing with complex tasks, McCaffery said.

Those of normal weight didn't show this pattern. This may be because "they've been of normal weight all of their lifetime. The successful weight losers have to put in more effort to avoid eating foods or to control their response to food."

The findings appear in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Ian McDonald, a professor of metabolic physiology who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, said questions remain.

For one, did the people who lost weight begin to have this brain response when they started shedding pounds or later? "Similarly, are the obese different from the non-obese because of an intrinsic difference or as a result of the inappropriate eating which has led to their obesity?" asked McDonald, a researcher at the University of Nottingham Medical School in England.
In other words, does inappropriate eating by heavy people lead to differences in the way their brains work when they look at food?

Also, McDonald said, future research needs to figure out what the differences in brain activity mean for the choices people make. "Similar measurements need to be made before, during and after weight loss," he noted.

For now, McCaffery said the researchers would like to understand better how the brain works in people who have lost weight successfully.

In the future, she said, it's possible that "we'll be able to teach other people how to do that."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fitness Trends: Pros and Cons of the Top 11

Choosing the best exercise for your body, personality and lifestyle is no sweat if you know the best and worst parts of popular workouts. We've interviewed a dozen fitness experts about everything from anti-gravity yoga to "exergaming"—and here are their biggest likes and dislikes.

Boot camp
Based on military-style training, boot camps combine the instructor's expertise with the support (and/or peer pressure) of other participants. The drills range from power skipping to reverse flies, all to increase cardio, strength and core fitness.
Pros: "Because the exercises are infinitely combinable, each workout is new," says Karen Rooff, a certified personal trainer in Austin, Texas. "Novelty is great for keeping both muscles and minds engaged. Plus, classes with small numbers offer a trainer's personal attention at a fraction of the usual cost."
Cons: "Participants may overestimate their fitness level, overdo it, and stop working out," says New York City–based certified personal trainer Ariane Hundt. "And, high- intensity workouts can cause injuries if the instruction isn't personalized." To avoid injury, listen to your body and inform your instructor of any pre-existing injuries or conditions, and don't be afraid to modify any moves if they're too difficult for you.

Interval training
This well-researched exercise technique alternates bouts of high- and low-intensity exercise, such as intervals of sprinting and jogging.
Pros: "Intervals increase calorie expenditure and afterburn, so calories are burned [even] after the exercise is over," says Brad Schoenfeld, certified strength and conditioning specialist and author of the book 28-Day Body Shapeover (Human Kinetics, 2005). Research from the University of Guelph shows that interval workouts burn more fat and improve fitness faster than moderate constant exercise.
Cons: Schoenfeld says that high- intensity intervals can be difficult or even harmful for people with certain injuries and disorders (always check with your doctor first). "Interval training requires focus, intensity and determination," adds Chicago-based certified trainer Cathy Lang. "There's no social aspect to motivate you; you have to tap into the competitor inside."

Zumba and other dance workouts
"Ditch the workout and join the party!" is the slogan of Zumba's sexy fitness program. Colombia native Beto Perez started this sizzling trend in 1999; it combines Latin rhythms with intervals and resistance training. Dance-based workouts in general are trendy, and range from ballet boot camp to cardio salsa.
Pros: "[With] Zumba, you'll burn calories, feel energized, and do moves that—trust me—your body has not done before," says Kim Pace, a performance enhancement specialist in Boca Raton, Fla.
Cons: "Zumba doesn't improve strength, and it's hard for uncoordinated people to keep up with the choreography," says exercise physiologist Becky Williamson, of San Jose, Calif. Schoenfeld agrees that Zumba does little for muscle development. "If you perform the same activity repeatedly, your body won't change."

Originally used by dancers and called "contrology" by Joseph Pilates, this discipline focuses on core stabilization. Breathing and spine alignment are emphasized.
Pros: "Pilates is slow and controlled, so you're getting a workout without too much sweat," says certified trainer Christi Masi of Seattle. "It's low impact [and appropriate for] for those with bad knees and previous injuries." Fawn Gill, a Pilates instructor in Bowen Island, B.C., adds, "Pilates focuses on posture, core strength, joint mobility and muscle strength. People at all fitness levels can do it." Bonus: you don't need special equipment for an effective workout, though many studios offer specialized classes on a metal spring-based "Reformer," which can be modified for each user's fitness level.
Cons: "Pilates is anaerobic exercise, so you don't burn as many calories as you would running," says Pilates instructor Alana Reed, from New York City. "But you do build muscle—and the more muscle your body has, the more efficiently it burns calories." Reed adds that half of her Pilates clients are men.

Individual and group personal training
In one-on-one time with a personal trainer, you'll create a fitness plan that suits your body and lifestyle. The group training trend offers the same benefits, but in a small group.
Pros: "Accountability, personalization, and great workouts make personal training effective," says certified fitness instructor Lindsay Bogdasarian of Ann Arbor, Mich. Los Angeles–based certified trainer Angela Parker adds, "Group personal training is cheaper than private training and can offer better results. When people exercise in a group they work 10 times harder than alone. They feed off the collective energy."
Cons: "Personal trainers are still not regulated in any way," says Walt Thompson, Ph.D., Regents Professor of Exercise Science at Georgia State University. "No state has adopted any legislation to control who can and cannot become a personal trainer." He adds that the fitness industry is moving toward becoming regulated.

Yoga and AntiGravity Yoga
Traditional yoga, such as Hatha, Kundalini or Ashtanga, improves flexibility, muscle tone and the mind-body connection. Many of these forms have been practiced for thousands of years; it's an exercise that's here to stay. While Bikram, or hot, yoga was a big fad developed a few years ago, AntiGravity Yoga is the newest rage: Yogis practice their poses in hammocks suspended from the ceiling. The airborne Downward Dogs and Flying Pigeons relieve spinal tension and allow for deep stretches with less chance of muscle strain.
Pros: "Being suspended in the air offers greater flexibility, and it feels like you're flying," says Hundt. "Hanging upside down is enormously relaxing, releases tension in the body, and makes you feel weightless."

Stability balls
Originally developed for physical-rehabilitation patients, stability balls challenge the stabilizing muscles of the spine and work core muscles. Typical exercises include back extensions, butt lifts, and abdominal rotations.
Pros: "Anyone can use the ball to increase strength and stability and decrease back pain," says Sara Hauber, M.A., a healthy lifestyle specialist in Chicago. "People who use stability balls correctly build great-looking, strong core muscles and have fun doing it."
Cons: It's difficult to learn proper form and get a good workout without the guidance of a fitness professional, but a couple of sessions should be sufficient to teach you some fundamental moves. Hauber says, "Because stability exercises are meant to work your stabilizers—which for many people have been dormant for years—most people can't trigger them without cuing from a pro."

CrossFit and cross-training
This "bare bones" exercise focuses on short, high-intensity workouts. The functional moves are simple but hard: pullups, squats, gymnastics drills, and kettle-ball exercises—and are often done using just your own body weight as resistance. CrossFit's Web site offers a new workout every day and displays hundreds of comments from fellow fanatics.
Pros: "This exercise requires little or no equipment, and you really feel like you're getting a workout," says Gill. "Plus, there's a … feeling of belonging to a special group —almost a cult." The online workouts are free, and it's a well-rounded approach to fitness that exercises your whole body.
Cons: "CrossFit can be challenging for the unfit or beginner crowd," says Gill. "Thus, there's a greater chance of injury due to the intensity of the workouts." Without professional instruction, participants may do the exercises wrong—and strain muscles or pull ligaments.

Active gaming
"Exergaming" is video game technology that gets participants leaping, swinging and sweating—and they're moving beyond Wii or Dance Dance Revolution. Video game–enabled bikes, boards, pads and other equipment are popping up in schools, health clubs and even doctors' offices.
Pros: "Active gaming makes exercise fun," says Lisa Hansen, M.S., co-director of XRKade Research Labs at the University of South Florida. "Participants enjoy themselves, which motivates them to go to the gym more and work out longer."
Cons: Research from the University of Michigan Health System shows that actual sports burn three to four times more calories than virtual exercise—so exergaming shouldn't replace "real" activities. And, Hundt says, "Nobody is checking your form or correcting poor posture, so the chance of injury is increased for inexperienced gamers."

Fusion fitness
Fusion classes mix two or more types of exercise in one workout. Think Pilates and yoga (Yogilates), cycling and stretching, or boxing and running.
Pros: "Mixing up your exercise routine is a great way to lose weight and increase your fitness level," says Parker. "Change surprises your body, makes it work harder, and burns more calories." Your body adapts to regular patterns of movement—and fusion keeps you on your toes!
Cons: Some workouts don't mix well because they're too different. Yoga, for example, has a meditative quality that doesn't fuse well with kickboxing. Parker adds, "Instructors may not be properly trained in the different types of exercise, which could cause injury."

This upper-body cycling exercise debuted in just a few health clubs in 2007, but will be offered at increasing numbers of fitness centers in 2009.
Pros: "One of the best core and cardio-training exercises is upper-body rotation while standing," says certified personal trainer Jim Karanas, who works in San Francisco. "Kranking is a great alternative for people who may struggle with traditional workouts, such as the lower-limb challenged, pregnant women, obese people or the elderly."
Cons: "When cycling, participants don't always monitor their heart [rate], and they [can] train at too high of an intensity," says Pace. "Additionally, participants sometimes forget to vary their workouts. When this happens, they could reach a plateau."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Swine Flu ( H1N1 )

Swine Flu (H1N1)

Swine Flu Q & A!! What you need to know and how to help protect yourself from infection.

If you're worried about the flurry of news on swine flu pandemics, epidemics, and public health emergencies, here are some key facts provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you understand how swine flu is spread and what you can do to help prevent infection.

What is swine flu?
Swine flu is a respiratory disease normally found in pigs and caused by type A influenza viruses. While outbreaks of this type of flu are most common in pigs, human cases of swine flu do happen. In the past, reports of human swine flu have been rare—approximately one infection every one to two years in the United States. From December 2005 through February 2009, only 12 cases of human infection were documented.

How is it spread?
Humans with direct exposure to pigs are those most commonly infected with swine flu. Human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented; however, it's not known how easily the spread occurs. Just as the common flu is passed along, swine flu is thought to be spread by coughing, sneezing, or touching something that has the live virus on it.
If infected, a person may be able to infect another person one day before symptoms develop; therefore, a person is able to pass the flu on before they know they are sick. Infected individuals may spread the virus for seven or more days after becoming sick. Those with swine flu should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are showing symptoms, and up to seven days or longer from the onset of their illness. Children might be contagious for longer periods of time.
Can I catch swine flu from eating pork?
No. The CDC says that swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food. Properly cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160°F kills all bacteria and viruses.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of a regular flu: fever and chills, sore throat, cough, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Diarrhea and vomiting can also be present. Without a specific lab test, it is impossible to know whether you may be suffering from swine flu or another flu strain, or a different disease entirely.

What precautionary measures should I take?
The same everyday precautions that you take to prevent other contagious viruses should be used to protect yourself against swine flu. "The best current advice is for individuals to practice good hand hygiene. Periodic hand washing with soap and water, or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when hand washing is not possible, is a good preventive measure. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can more easily gain entrance into your body through those areas," suggests Rob Danoff, D.O., an MSN health expert. Covering your mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough and sneeze is also a good practice.
The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people and keeping your own good health in check with adequate sleep, exercise, and a nutritious diet.

What should you do if you think you are sick with swine flu?
Contact your health care professional, inform them of your symptoms, and ask whether you should be tested for swine flu. Be prepared to give details on how long you've been feeling ill and about any recent travels. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed. If you feel sick, but are not sure what illness you may have, stay home until you have been diagnosed properly to avoid spreading any infection.

Watch for these symptoms in children. Seek emergency medical care if your child experiences any of the following warning signs:
-Fever with a rash
-Fast breathing
-Bluish skin coloration
-Slow to wake or sluggish interaction
-Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return and cough worsens
-Severe irritability

For adults, emergency medical care is needed if you experience these warning signs:
-Difficulty breathing
-Severe or persistent vomiting
-Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
Remember that the symptoms for swine flu are almost identical to those you might experience with the regular flu. Only your doctor can give you the correct diagnosis.
Are there medicines effective in treating swine flu in humans?
The current strain of the swine flu appears to respond to the use of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), or zanamivir (Relenza) for those infected. For treatment, these antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within two days of the appearance of symptoms), and for that reason, it's important to notify your health care provider right away if your symptoms are severe.
Is there a vaccine available to protect against swine flu?
No, there is no vaccine to protect humans from this new strain of swine flu. Steps have been taken to start developing one, though the process is complex and can take months.

Other blog by ShIn

This blog talk about phones, share the lastest model's phone and it technology.
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