|Diet and Exercise
America's most common apple also may be its most potent. Just don't skimp
on the skin. A Canadian government study in Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry that measured the levels of antioxidants in eight
varieties of apples found that Red Delicious contain the highest concentrations
of the health enhancing chemicals. Red Delicious, which account for 27 percent
of U.S. apple production, has more than six times the antioxidants as the
bottom-ranked Empire variety. Northern Spy was No. 2, followed by Cortland,
Ida Red, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Mutsu. In every variety tested, the
skins of the apples contained substantially higher levels of antioxidants
than the flesh. But if you simply can't bear to eat the peel, the sweet-tart
Northern Spy ranks No. 1 for antioxidants in flesh alone. Cortland was second,
followed by Red Delicious.
Five compounds known as phytochemicals in raisins can be beneficial for
teeth and gums, according to U.S. researchers, whose work was funded by the
California Raisin Marketing Board and was presented at the meeting of the
American Society for Microbiology in Atlanta. The five compounds
in seedless raisins that might help make teeth and gums healthier are oleanolic
acid, oleanolic aldehyde, betulin, betulinic acid and 5-(hydroxymethyl)-2-furfural.
Oleanolic acid slowed growth of a bacterium that causes cavities and another
that causes periodontal disease. The acid also stopped bacteria from sticking
to surfaces, which prevents them from forming plaque.
Cranberry juice, which studies have shown may help disrupt bacterial infections
of the urinary tract, may also work against gastrointestinal viruses, U.S.
researchers at St. Francis College and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New
York found in a study funded partly by the Cranberry Institute and the Wisconsin
Cranberry Board. The New York researchers treated intestinal monkey rotavirus
SA-11 and a batch of goat viruses called reoviruses with a commercially available
cranberry juice drink. In the last five years, an increasingly large number
of studies have suggested cranberry juice to be an effective commercial product
for the reduction of urinary tract infections in women.
Tests have confirmed mad cow disease in a U.S. cow previously cleared of
having the brain wasting illness, the Agriculture Department said on June
24th. It is the second case of mad cow disease in the United States. A third
and more sophisticated test on the beef cow suspected of having mad cow disease
would have helped resolve conflicting results from two initial screenings,
but the U.S. refused to perform it in November.
A study published in the June issue of Diabetes Care shows
precisely how much exercise it takes to achieve specific gains in blood glucose,
blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with the
average annual medical costs that can be avoided. Researchers from
the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Perugia, Italy,
found that it took a minimum of walking about three miles per day for otherwise
sedentary people with type 2 diabetes to see a significant improvement in
health and medical-related expenses over a two-year period. In contrast,
people who did nothing over that same time period saw a decline in health
and a rise in medical expenses.
Kids Learn from Parents!
Already, the nation has 9 million children ages 6 to 16 who are overweight,
according to federal health officials. Overweight children usually grow into
overweight adults, at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and
other disorders. The biggest study ever to track the impact of childhood nutrition
education backs a major new government campaign that aims to keep preteens
from getting fat by using some of the same tactics through training programs
and real-world tips directed at their parents, in the June issue of the journal
Pediatrics. For example, eating a healthy breakfast
is important for staying fit. Unsweetened whole-grain cereal, like oatmeal,
is a go-food choice. Getting grade-school children in the habit of drinking
in moderation lowfat milk instead of whole milk, eating an apple a day, or
choosing carrot sticks or raisins as an after-school snack makes them more
likely to continue those habits when they're old enough to choose foods on
A National Institutes of Health Web
site aimed at parents provides education on ways to fight obesity, including
such tips as:
- Choose food portions no larger than your fist, a growing
guide for a growing child. Restaurants almost always serve too much; plan
to bring home leftovers.
- Make it easier to get healthy snacks and harder to get
unhealthy ones. Don't keep chips in the house, but keep a bowl of fruit within
reach on the kitchen counter. Choose a checkout line without the candy display.
- Limit TV or video games. Don't just sit and watch -- challenge
your children to a jumping-jack contest during commercials.
- Go on an after-dinner family walk or bike ride; make outdoor
play, or visits to gyms or recreation centers, routine.
Three Stages to Obesity
Being born either too big or too small and the early appearance of puppy
fat and tubbiness in teenagehood seem to be emerging as important factors
influencing how much of a struggle with weight people have as adults, according
to experts gathered this month at Europe's annual conference on obesity research.
The three stages of childhood considered critical for obesity development
outlined at the conference were discussed at the World Health Organization
expert meeting in Japan later this month. Many scientists believe that what
happens around the time of birth is a particularly important time and that
the evidence for this is especially robust.
Studies have shown that babies who are born large are more likely to end
up fat as adults. However, being born very small also seems to increase the
risk of obesity in adulthood, especially if such infants are then fed intensively
to allow rapid growth so that they catch up with their peers. While the small
baby problem is mostly one of the developing world, the major issue in wealthier
countries is babies being born too big, experts say. Several studies indicate
that children who gain weight before gaining height between toddlerhood and
school-age seem to have a higher chance of being fat adults. Rapid weight
gain due to overfeeding in the first year of life may be particularly risky
for later obesity, experts say.
Major studies over the last few years indicate that about one in three children
who are fat in early childhood end up as fat adults. Children that get fat
before the age of 8 tend to end more severely obese as adults than those who
gain their weight afterward.
Scientists have found that a good laugh is a calorie burner not to be ignored.
It may not be as good for reducing the waistline as going to the gym or resisting
that ice-cream sundae, but American researchers have found that 10-15 minutes
of genuine giggling can burn off the number of calories found in a medium
square of chocolate. The findings on the weight-loss possibilities of
the uniquely human experience of laughter were presented at the close of
the annual European Congress on Obesity.
The mind-body connection
Constant stress is like a chemical spill in a factory. Your brain is the
factory — producing electrical and chemical signals that make your heart pump
and your lungs breathe. In a stressful situation, the brain sends out a flood
of chemicals to help you react, and then the body recovers quickly. For awhile,
the chemical spill is contained. But the chemicals can build up in
your system. Faced with prolonged stress, you may start to feel symptoms
like headaches, backaches, and shortness of breath. The mind-body connection
is powerful, and it's something you have the power to control. So, the next
time you go to the doctor, be prepared to talk about what's going on in your
mind, not just your body. And do some simple coping strategies to help you
beat the stress cycle and reduce the likelihood of expensive stress-related
A recent study found ginger to be effective in decreasing inflammation associated
with osteoarthritis. While the data here is not definitive, it is not unreasonable
to try fresh ginger or standardized ginger extracts under medical supervision
as a complement to other arthritis therapies to enhance their effect. There
is little known toxicity if taken in limited amounts.
Turmeric is a natural Cox-2 inhibitor. Turmeric has a good track
record in the Indian Continent for several thousand years.
School Children's Physical Activity
Physical activity of American children has decreased dramatically in the
last 10 to 20 years. School-age children should participate in 60 minutes
or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, according to an expert
panel. Most of the studies in the literature had children performing 30 to
45 minutes of continuous moderate to vigorous physical activity three to
five days per week. To achieve similar or greater benefits in the context
of typically intermittent, ordinary daily activities would require a cumulative
time of an hour or more. Jumping rope, soccer, basketball, and brisk
walking are all examples of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Sedentary
children need to increase activity gradually. Restoration of physical education
and other school- and community-based programs could contribute mightily to
the health of our children and nation. Recommendations of the 13-member panel
are published in the June issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.
Genetics of Orgasm
Factors influencing the ability to reach orgasm vary from woman to woman.
Psychologically women are more complex sexually. In a new study, one
in three women reported never or hardly ever reaching orgasm during intercourse
and 21 percent said that they hardly achieve climax during masturbation. Those
figures are consistent with other surveys conducted over the last few decades.
A woman's ability to have an orgasm partly depends on her genes along with
cultural influences, new research suggests. Hopefully, the discovery of genetic
elements of sexual function will help scientists find better treatments for
sexual problems. The study was reported in Biology Letters.
The results were similar to those of a study on Australian twins published
earlier this year.
Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have used
scans to show that different areas of the brain are stimulated during an
orgasm but are not activated when a woman fakes it. When women genuinely
achieved an orgasm, areas of the brain involved in fear and emotion were
deactivated. Those areas stayed alert however when women were faking it.
The researchers also found that the cortex, which is linked with consciousness,
is active during a fake orgasm but not during the real thing. The brain scans
for men during orgasm were less conclusive. But they did show that
different parts of the male and female brain are activated and deactivated
during sexual stimulation. The researchers found less deactivation
in the males in the areas of the brain linked to emotion and fear when they
were sexually stimulated.
A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine finds that
a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D appears to help women reduce the risk
of PMS symptoms. The findings support earlier research indicating calcium
seems to help women cope with PMS. But the new study also suggests that when
calcium is combined with enough vitamin D, it may help prevent PMS altogether.
Calcium and Vitamin D are available in foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt
and fortified orange juice.
Children suffering from a rare and fatal lung disease were able to walk
farther and breathe easier after taking the impotence pill Viagra, a small
study funded by Pfizer published online in the American Heart Association
journal Circulation suggests. Recently, the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration has approved using the main ingredient in Viagra
to treat adults with pulmonary hypertension.
No one knows what causes Alzheimer's. But the leading theory is that something
spurs abnormal production of a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms clumps
that coat and then kill brain cells -- plaque that is the disease's trademark.
It already affects 4.5 million people in the U.S. and is predicted to strike
14 million by 2050 as the population ages. Researchers are honing in on lifestyle
choices that may help protect the brain in the first place. Among the findings
presented in June at the Alzheimer's Association's first Alzheimer's prevention
- People who drink fruit or vegetable juice at least three
times a week seem four times less likely to develop Alzheimer's than nonjuice
drinkers, according to a study of 1,800 elderly Japanese-Americans. The theory
is that juice contains high levels of polyphenols, compounds that may play
a brain-protective role.
- Less education, gum disease early in life, or a stroke
were more important than genes in determining who got dementia, concluded
a study of 100 dementia patients with healthy identical twins. Education stimulates
neuronal growth; gum disease is a marker of brain-harming inflammation.
An experimental drug called Flurizan is being tested for Alzheimer's.
Researchers are planning a study of a therapy called intravenous immune globulin,
or IVIG, for Alzheimer's. Immune globulin is a cocktail of antibodies culled
from blood donors and given intravenously to treat a variety of immune-related
- Decreasing social activity in old age is a risk factor,
a National Institute on Aging study suggests. It is not clear if the men in
the study became less social because Alzheimer's already was at work, but
social activity is mentally stimulating.
As people age, some decline in memory and other brain functions is inevitable.
Taking 800 micrograms of folic acid a day slowed that brain drain, reported
lead researcher Jane Durga of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Diet's
also important. While Alzheimer's researchers have long recommended a heart-healthy
diet as good for the brain, the latest folic acid study is the first to test
the advice directly. Previous studies have shown that people with low
folate levels in their blood are more at risk for both heart disease and diminished
cognitive function. Folate is found in such foods as oranges and strawberries,
dark-green leafy vegetables and beans. In the United States, it also is added
to cereal and flour products. The recommended daily dose here is 400 micrograms;
doctors advise women of childbearing age to take a supplement to ensure they
get that much.
There are ways to gird the brain against age-related memory loss and Alzheimer's:
* Eat oranges, strawberries, dark-green leafy vegetables
and beans, and other heart healthy foods. Bad memory is linked to heart disease
and diabetes, because clogged arteries slow blood flow in the brain. Eat dark-skinned
fruits and vegetables, which are particularly high in brain-healthy vitamins
E and C. Harvard researchers found eating dark green leafy vegetables like
spinach improves cognitive function. Also, B vitamins and folic acid, found
in cereals, breads and fruits like strawberries, are important for brain
health. Avoid artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol containing foods
and try for omega-3 fatty acids, found in flax, urad and nuts.
* Exercise your brain. Exercise your brain. Nourish it
well. And the earlier you start, the better. That's the best advice doctors
can yet offer to ward off Alzheimer's disease. Using brain in unusual ways
increases blood flow and helps the brain wire new connections. That's important
to build up what's called cognitive reserve, an ability to adapt to or withstand
the damage of Alzheimer's a little longer. In youth, that means good education.
Later in life, do puzzles, learn to play chess, take classes.
* Stay socially stimulated. Declining social interaction
with age predicts declining cognitive function. A healthy brain isn't just
an intellectual one. Social stimulation is crucial, too. Don't sit in front
of the television. People who are part of a group, whether it's a church or
a book club, age healthier.
* Exercise your body. Bad memory is linked to heart disease
and diabetes because clogged arteries slow blood flow in the brain. Getting
physical exercise is crucial also. Elderly people who were less mentally and
physically active in middle age are about three times as likely to get Alzheimer's
as they gray. A study from Sweden found the obese are twice as likely to
Summer Rice Salad
Ingredients: 2 cups cooked wild rice, 3/4 cup corn, 2 scallions, trimmed
and sliced, 2-4 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley, 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts 2 Tbsp.
chopped red onion, 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, Salt
and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Direction: In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, corn, scallions, parsley,
nuts and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil, then
add it to the rice mixture. Toss to combine. Season it to taste with salt
and pepper. Cover and let it stand for 30 minutes before serving to allow
the flavors to develop.
According to a study in the Insurance Marketing Magazine:
1. Half of working adults who were surveyed admit that they haven't taken
any steps to determine their households actual Life Insurance needs, yet a
significant portion feel they do not have enough Life Insurance protection.
2. Nearly three quarters of working Americans are extremely concerned about
having enough money to pay their bills in the event of a sudden loss of income.
3. The average length of time for a financial recovery after the death of
a spouse is between four and five years.
Saving for Future
According to the scientists at the Vienna Institute of Demography at the
Austrian Academy of Sciences, the average German was 39.9 years old
in 2000 and could plan to live for another 39.2 years, according to research
reported in the science journal Nature. However, by 2050
the average German would be 51.9 years old and could expect another 37.1 years
of life. So middle age in 2050 would come around 52 instead of 40 as in 2000.
As people have more and more years to live they have to save more and plan
more and they effectively are behaving as if they were younger. Five
years ago, the average American was 35.3 years old and could plan for 43.5
more years of life. By 2050, the researchers estimate it would increase to
41.7 years and 45.8 future years. A lot of our skills, our education,
our savings and the way we deal with our health care depend a great deal on
how many years we have to live. This dimension of how many years we
have to live has been completely ignored in the discussion of aging and planning
for it so far.
This material contains only general descriptions and
is not a solicitation to sell any insurance product or security, nor is it
intended as any financial or tax advice. For information about specific
insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent.
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|Source: The primary sources
cited above, New York Times (NYT),
Washington Post (WP), Mercury News, Bayarea.com,
USA Today, Intellihealthnews, Deccan
Chronicle (DC), the Hindu, Hindustan
Times, Times of India, AP, Reuters, AFP, womenfitness.net