Saturday, August 28, 2010

8 Germiest Public Places

get rid of germs

Tip Numero one: Wash your hands regularly
Washing your hands whenever you come in contact with someone else or anything like taps or doorknobs can really cut down on the number of germs you pick up.

Tip Numero two: Keep your hands to yourself
Seriously, do NOT touch people if you don’t have to ESPECIALLY if you know they are sick with the flu or a cold, or if their kids are. Minimizing contact is huge in terms of keeping bacteria and viruses away from your insides.

Germ, Virus and Bacteria Killing Solutions
By simply using Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash when you wash your hands you can stay a heck of a lot healthier. Of course you cannot always have a sink handy which can seriously hamper your ability to wash your hands so you may want to invest in a small bottle of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer. You can keep it in the car or even keep it on your person, it’s even cheap too.

If you are like me and really don’t want to touch faucet taps more than you have to, then get yourself one of those neat new touchless soap dispensers for your home. You’ll never have to lay your fingers on a faucet again, just hold your hand under it and the sensor will tell it to squirt and taa daa, soap! The Simplehuman Sensor Soap Pump is the one that not only does it pump out the soap automatically, it times you! Yes, it times you, then you know when the recommended 20 second hand washing time is done.

You don’t have to be a germaphobe to know that germs, viruses and bacterial can be dangerous, even deadly. By using the above mentioned products and following the tips you can stay healthier and so can the rest of your family.

Worried about you or your kids picking up diseases at school, restrooms or the mall? There’s good reason: Viruses and bacteria run rampant on surfaces you touch every day. We blow the lid on the 8 germiest public places.

Touch a germ-infected surface, then rub your nose or mouth, and the next thing you know, microbes are dancing the mambo in your body.

With cold and flus and run-of-the-mill bugs crawling about public places year round, germaphobes have plenty to worry about.

No wonder. Unfortunately, going anywhere people congregate can boost your chances of getting sick, says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., author of The Secret Life of Germs (Atria) and director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

That’s because disease-carrying bacteria and viruses live practically everywhere — shopping malls, grocery stores, playgrounds, petting zoos, restaurants. They can survive up to two hours on shopping carts, escalator handrails, even doorknobs before they find their next victim.

“We encounter about 60,000 types of germs every year, but if you’re healthy, there’s no need to fear going out in public,” Tierno says: Only 1%-2% are potentially dangerous to people with normal immunity. Plus, the body has an incredible ability to fight off germs. Special cells called neutrophils and lymphocytes (white blood cells) attack any microscopic invader.

You can also give your defense system a boost by taking steps to prevent infection. Read on for the top 8 germiest public places and ways to stay healthy:

1. Grocery store
Germiest items: Shopping cart handles and seat buckets

Watch out! Shopping cart handles are a breeding ground for infectious viruses and gut-wrenching bacteria.

“Customers may sneeze, wipe their noses, then touch the cart handles,” says Lola Stamm, M.S., Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

They’re also contaminated by children’s dirty hands. And by leaky meat packages that you toss into your cart. Poultry and beef can contain bacterial bombs such as salmonella, campylobacter and E. coli, which cause severe diarrhea, intestinal swelling, nausea and vomiting, she says.

“If meat packages leak onto the conveyor belt, it could contaminate the food on the conveyor as well as your hands,” Stamm says.

About 70%-80% of the shopping carts tested nationwide had E. coli, says Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a University of Arizona microbiologist who spends a lot of time studying germs in public places.

Cart kid seats are E. coli hot spots “because they hold raw food and [diaper-wearing] kids,” he says. “And nobody disinfects.”

Be careful, too, around those enticing displays of fruits and veggies.

Sprinklers used to keep produce moist may contain Legionnella, Stamm says. The bacterium can cause “a deadly respiratory tract infection, particularly in older people and others with underlying health problems.”

Germ-free fix: Use disinfecting wipes on handlebars and seats - many stores now offer these at the entrance. And be sure to wash veggies and fruits before eating them.

2. Children’s playgrounds
Germiest items: The swings, jungle gym and other equipment

Playgrounds are germ minefields. Kids touch everything they see and often put them in their mouths.

The largest threat is from fecal bacteria from bird poop on playground equipment and diaper-wearing tots, Gerba says.

Another kid-friendly hot zone: petting zoos and exhibits with animals infected with E. coli, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Germ-free fix: Wash hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer after returning from playground, using the bathroom and changing diapers. (Rub hands together for 20 seconds under clean running water, the CDC advises.)

3. Public restrooms
Germiest item: Sink

Most women worry about public toilets. Well, you can sit a little easier now: The porcelain throne is not the biggest restroom offender.

It’s the sink.

Bacteria swarm on the sink tap or faucet handles, Gerba says, because we touch them right after using the toilet.

Also, “the sink tap is a wet, moist environment,” so bacteria can survive there longer, he says.

Watch out for soap dispensers, too, because they’re handled by many filthy hands, Stamm says.

Airplane bathrooms are especially germy because they’re small and used by lots of people, says Gerba, who found E. coli on faucets and door handles in the dozens of samples from airborne restrooms.

In fact, an airplane’s faucet may be a greater threat than those in other public restrooms because the water is timed, so fliers have to touch them frequently to wash their hands properly, he says.

So what’s the cleanest part of a bathroom?

The toilet: About 48% of American women use covers or toilet paper to cover the seat, Gerba says.

Germ-free fix: Avoid touching moist surfaces and wash hands thoroughly after touching sink faucets and soap dispensers. And use a paper towel to turn the water off.

4. Offices
Germiest items: Telephones and desks

In a study of 113 work surfaces in offices in five of the nation’s big cities, Gerba found more than 25,000 bacteria hitching a ride on telephones. Desks and computer keyboards followed close behind.

In fact, your desk has 400 times more germs than a toilet seat, Gerba says. Why?

People don’t disinfect surfaces in offices, he says.

Another danger zone: Inside desk drawers, where workers stash food.

“Germs find plenty to snack on,” he says, like moldy fruit and opened bags of chips or crackers.

When it comes to germs, women are not the fairer sex. Bacterial levels in women’s offices were nearly three times higher than in men’s.

“Women seemed to have more stuff in their offices, from makeup bags to pictures of family and purses on their desks,” Gerba says.

Germ-free fix: Once a day, wipe down your desk, phone and keyboard with anti-bacterial wipes or cleaners.

5. Restaurants
Germiest items: Table surface, high chairs

No, contaminated food isn’t the biggest threat at restaurants — it’s the rag used to wipe the table “clean."

When busboys wipe down a table or chairs, their dirty rags may be spreading a small film of E. coli, he says.

They should put disinfectant on the rag after each use, but Gerba’s studies show that the same cloth was used on more than a dozen tables before it was disinfected.

High chairs harbor fecal bacteria too, because they hold diaper-wearing tots.

Germ-free fix: Carry sanitary wipes to swipe the tabletop and high chair when you’re seated.

6. Libraries
Germiest items: Countertops and surfaces

Libraries appear to be tidy, sterile places, but they crawl with as many germs as a fast-food restaurant.

Why so filthy? Lots of people shuffle through and peruse books, log on to computers and touch countertops, Gerba says.

Germ-free fix: Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after thumbing through books or touching countertops.

7. Cruise ships
Germiest item: Handrails

Cruise ships are like floating cities, packed with thousands of people in a small space. That also makes them infection incubators.

From 2001-2005, gastrointestinal illness on ships increased 25.6%, according to a CDC study: The culprit? Norovirus.

Some of the largest outbreaks occurred in 2002-2006, when new strains of norovirus emerged,” says Capt. Jaret Ames, chief of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.

Noroviruses, which cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, are resistant to routine cleaning procedures and they’re easily transmitted in places people congregate, such as dining rooms, drinking fountains and shared restrooms.

Trouble is, they’re hard to avoid on a cruise ship.

“As soon as you step out of the cabin you’re in public area,” Ames points out.

Handrails pose the biggest infection risk because they’re among the first surfaces passengers touch when they board ship, Ames says. The viruses are most often brought on board by embarking passengers and crew.

A recent study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that the cleanliness of a cruise ship's public restrooms may predict subsequent norovirus outbreaks. Researchers found that only 37% of 273 randomly selected public restrooms on cruise ships were cleaned daily. One researcher noted that there was a substantial risk for washed hands to become contaminated when the passenger exits the restroom, as only 35% of restroom exit knobs or pulls were cleaned daily.

Germ-free fix: Wash hands frequently throughout the day and before touching your mouth or face, especially when smoking and eating.

8. Malls
Germiest item: Escalator handles

How often do you hang onto the escalator handrails while catching a ride at a shopping mall or airport?

Hands off: They’re teeming with germs, according to a study published in a 2005 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Health Research. Scientists took samples from dozens of escalator handrails across the country and found 19% showed high bacterial contamination.

“The sheer volume of people who touch escalator handles makes it a bacteria hot spot,” Gerba says.

Germ-free fix: Don’t touch them. But if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer afterward.

Friday, August 20, 2010

WARNING: Egg Recall

Thu Aug 19, 7:14 pm ET
egg carton
(Photo: FDA)
A massive egg recall by Write County Egg has sickened hundreds of people, and affected 13 retail brands that the egg factory packages. The culprit: Salmonella on egg shells.

The egg brands affected by the recall include: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps.
Eggs are packed in 6- 12- or 18-egg cartons with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413, and 1946.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1946 223.
Consumers should not eat the eggs and should return recalled eggs to the store where they were purchased for a full refund.

Bacterial contamination on modern industrial-scale chicken farms (factories, really) is a growing problem. Cramped conditions are breeding grounds for disease. Widespread use of antibiotics is creating drug-resistant strains of bacteria.

One antidote to the problem is to choose locally sourced eggs from farms that allow their chickens to run free. Though be aware that the label "free range" doesn't mean what you might think.

Salmonella poisoning symptoms
Within 6-to-72 hours of eating an egg, you may experience lower abdominal cramps, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, fever, chills, malaise, nausea or headache. Symptoms may persist for as long as a week. While most people recover without treatment, some patients require hospitalization.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Most Powerful Food Combinations

By: Adam Baer

Who came up with the idea that we are supposed to drink orange juice at breakfast? And why, if oatmeal is so good for us, do we eat that only in the morning as well? Apologies to the Palinites, but nutritionists are starting to realize that you and I like our oatmeal and OJ before we start the day because we evolved to like it that way—because enjoying the two together is healthier than eating each of them alone.
Epidemiologist David R. Jacobs, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota calls it food synergy, and he, along with many other nutritionists, believes it might explain why Italians drizzle cold-pressed olive oil over tomatoes and why the Japanese pair raw fish with soybeans. "The complexity of food combinations is fascinating because it's tested in a way we can't test drugs: by evolution," says Jacobs. And, he adds, "it's tested in the most complex of systems: life."
What's more fascinating, however, is that the evolution between eater and eaten might answer the long-held question about why humans live longer, healthier lives on traditional diets. As researchers work to unravel the complexities of the interactions of the foods we eat, try these combinations, the most powerful food synergies currently known to science.

Tomatoes & Avocadoes

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a pigment-rich antioxidant known as a carotenoid, which reduces cancer risk and cardiovascular disease. Fats make carotenoids more bioavailable, a fact that makes a strong case for adding tomatoes to your guacamole.
"This also has a Mediterranean cultural tie-in," says registered dietitian Susan Bowerman of California Polytechnic State University. "The lycopene in tomato products such as pasta sauce is better absorbed when some fat (e.g., olive oil) is present than if the sauce were made fat free." This may also explain why we love olive oil drizzled over fresh tomatoes.
And when it comes to salads, don't choose low-fat dressings. A recent Ohio State University study showed that salads eaten with full-fat dressings help with the absorption of another carotenoid called lutein, which is found in green leafy vegetables and has been shown to benefit vision. If you don't like heavy salad dressing, sprinkle walnuts, pistachios, or grated cheese over your greens.

Oatmeal & Orange Juice

A study from the Antioxidants Research Lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that drinking vitamin C-rich orange juice while eating a bowl of real oatmeal (read: not processed) cleans your arteries and prevents heart attacks with two times as much efficacy than if you were to ingest either breakfast staple alone. The reason? The organic compounds in both foods, called phenols, stabilize your LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or so-called "bad" cholesterol) when consumed together.

Broccoli & Tomatoes

New research shows that this combo prevents prostate cancer, but no one is sure why.
In a recent Cancer Research study, John W. Erdman Jr., Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, proved that the combination shrunk prostate-cancer tumors in rats and that nothing but the extreme measure of castration could actually be a more effective alternative treatment. (What more motivation do you need to embrace this one-two punch?)

"We know that tomato powder lowers the growth of tumors," says Erdman. "We know that broccoli does too. And we know they're better together. But it's going to take years to find out why."

Blueberries & Grapes

"Eating a variety of fruit together provides more health benefits than eating one fruit alone," says Bowerman. "Studies have shown that the antioxidant effects of consuming a combination of fruits are more than additive but synergistic."

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition by Rui Hai Liu, Ph.D., from Cornell University's department of food science, looked at the antioxidant capacity of various fruits individually (apples, oranges, blueberries, grapes) versus the same amount of a mixture of fruits, and found that the mix had a greater antioxidant response. According to the study, this effect explains why "no single antioxidant can replace the combination of natural phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables."

The author also recommends eating five to 10 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to reduce disease risks, as opposed to relying on expensive dietary supplements for these compounds. "There are a huge number of compounds yet to be identified," adds Jacobs.

Apples & Chocolate

 Apples, particularly Red Delicious, are known to be high in an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called quercetin, especially in their skins. (Note: It's important to buy organic because pesticides concentrate in the skins of conventionally grown apples.) By itself, quercetin has been shown to reduce the risk of allergies, heart attack, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and prostate and lung cancers.

Chocolate, grapes, red wine, and tea, on the other hand, contain the flavonoid catechin, an antioxidant that reduces the risks for atherosclerosis and cancer. Together, according to a study done by Barry Halliwell, Ph.D., a leading food science professor at the National University of Singapore, catechins and quercetin loosen clumpy blood platelets, improving cardiovascular health and providing anticoagulant activity. Quercetin is also found in buckwheat, onions, and raspberries.

Susan Kraus, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, recommends the following combinations: sangria with cut-up apples; green tea with buckwheat pancakes and raspberries; and kasha (roasted buckwheat, made in a pilaf) cooked with onions.

Lemon & Kale

"Vitamin C helps make plant-based iron more absorbable," says nutritionist Stacy Kennedy of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It actually converts much of the plant-based iron into a form that's similar to what's found in fish and red meats. (Iron carries oxygen to red blood cells, staving off muscle fatigue.)

Kennedy suggests getting your vitamin C from citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli, and getting plant-based iron from leeks, beet greens, kale, spinach, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and fortified cereals.

So whether you're sautéing dark greens or making a salad, be sure to include a squeeze of citrus. You'll increase your immunity and muscle strength with more punch than by eating these foods separately.

Soy & Salmon

It's true that soy has been shown in studies to lower sperm counts, but that's mainly in processed forms such as soy cheese, soy milk, and the unpronounceable forms listed on the labels of your favorite artery-clogging processed foods. This means that eating unprocessed forms of soy, such as edamame and tofu, is perfectly fine in moderation.

That's good news because, according to Mark Messina, Ph.D., former director of the diet and cancer branch of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and now an adjunct associate professor at Loma Linda University, an isoflavone in soy called genistein inhibits enzymes in the colon and prostate, raising the amount of vitamin D bioavailability in those tissues. "The higher vitamin D levels may offer protection against cancer," says Messina. "There is emerging research suggesting that vitamin D reduces cancer risk, and many people don't get enough of the vitamin. You do make it in your skin, but most people don't make enough."
Fish such as salmon and tuna are high in vitamin D, so take a cue from the Asian diet and eat fish with a side of edamame.

Peanuts & Whole Wheat

According to Diane Birt, P.D., a professor at Iowa State University and a food synergy expert, the specific amino acids absent in wheat are actually present in peanuts. You need, and very rarely receive in one meal, the complete chain of amino acids (the best form of protein) to build and maintain muscle, especially as you get older. In short, while this combo exhibits only what Birt calls a "loose definition" of food synergy, it gives good evidence that a peanut-butter sandwich isn't junk food if it's prepared with whole-wheat bread (not white) and eaten in moderation (once a day).

So enjoy a peanut-butter sandwich right after a workout instead of drinking a terrible gym-rat shake. Just make sure the peanut butter doesn't have added sugar, chemical ingredients you can't pronounce, or cartoon characters on the label.

Red Meat & Rosemary

Grilling over an open flame produces nasty carcinogens, but if you get a little more experimental with your spices, you can temper the cancer-causing effects of the charred flesh.

The herb rosemary, which mixes well with all kinds of grilled foods and contains the antioxidants rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid, was recently shown in a Kansas State University study to lower the amount of the cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (or HCAs) that appear in the charred meat when you grill at temperatures of 375°F to 400°F. Why? It's thought that the herb's antioxidants literally soak up the meat's dangerous free radicals.

Turmeric & Black Pepper

A tangy yellow South Asian spice used in curry dishes, turmeric has long been studied for its anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and tumor-fighting activities known in nutrition-speak as anti-angiogenesis. The active agent in the spice is a plant chemical, or polyphenol, called curcumin.
One of the problems with using turmeric to improve your health, according to Kennedy, is its low bioavailability when eaten on its own. But there's a solution, and it's probably in your pantry.
"Adding black pepper to turmeric or turmeric-spiced food enhances curcumin's bioavailability by 1,000 times, due to black pepper's hot property called piperine," says Kennedy. "This is one reason it's thought that curry has both turmeric (curcumin) and black pepper combined." Translation: You'll get the benefits of turmeric if you pepper up your curries.

Garlic & Fish

Most seafood lovers don't realize there's a synergy of nutrients inside a piece of fish: Minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, iodine, and selenium work as cofactors to make the best use of the natural anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-reducing fish oils EPA and DHA.

What's more, cooking your fish with garlic lowers your total cholesterol better than eating those fillets or cloves alone. A study at University of Guelph, in Ontario, found that garlic keeps down the small increase in LDL cholesterol that might result from fish-oil supplements.

Eggs & Cantaloupe

The most popular (and an awfully complete form of) breakfast protein works even better for you when you eat it with the good carbohydrates in your morning cantaloupe.

According to Kennedy, a very basic food synergy is the concept of eating protein with foods that contain beneficial carbohydrates, which we need for energy. Protein, Kennedy reminds us, slows the absorption of glucose, or sugar, from carbohydrates.
"This synergy helps by minimizing insulin and blood-sugar spikes, which are followed by a crash, zapping energy. High insulin levels are connected with inflammation, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. By slowing the absorption of glucose, your body can better read the cues that you are full. This helps prevent everything from overeating to indigestion."
So cut as many bad carbs (i.e., anything white, starchy, and sugary) as you want. But when you eat healthful carbs (whole grains, fruit, vegetables), don't eat them on their own.

Almonds & Yogurt

We already know that good fats help increase lycopene absorption. But did you know that many essential vitamins are activated and absorbed best when eaten with fat?

Vitamins that are considered fat-soluble include A, D, and E. Carrots, broccoli, and peas are all loaded with vitamin A and should be paired with a healthy fat such as the kind found in olive oil. Vitamin D—rich products include fish, milk, yogurt, and orange juice.

So toss some almonds into your yogurt, eat full-fat dairy foods, and pair your morning OJ with a slice of bacon. To get the most vitamin E with fat-soluble foods, try baked sweet-potato slices or spinach salad topped with olive oil.

Ever wonder what was going on inside your food? Take a look at MRI shots of fruits and vegetables

by healthystealthy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Diet: The Humiliation Diet - Tweet What You Eat

Who knows exactly how much you weigh? Weight has typically been a very private matter for most people, but there's a new trend on Twitter that is bringing the sometimes shaming number out into the open.

The social networking revolution has led to a new way to fight the battle of the bulge, where Twitter users share their weight, along with everything that they're eating, and exactly how much, with the world.

The idea is to force oneself, by fear of public embarrassment, to eat right and get in shape.

Drew Margay is one Tweeter who took the public weight posting plunge late last year.
He went on to post his results -- no matter how painful -- every day for the next five months to his 8,000-plus followers on Twitter.

"On December 15, 2009, I weighed 260 pounds," Margay said. "I had a great deal of back pain because I was so overweight. I know if I keep my weight monitored and I keep it public every day, I'm always going to have an incentive to keep what I eat balanced."

Margay is not alone in the online "humiliation diet" trend. Tens of thousands of tweeters are following suit, posting their weight, eating habits and exercise routines to their friends, family and complete strangers.

Searching Twitter for the hash tags #publichumiliationdiet and #tweetyourweight brings up hundreds of updates from the past week from around the globe. launched in January 2008, is the brainchild of Alex Rossi. In the summer of 2007, Rossi was looking for a way to track what he was eating and get fit ahead of his wedding. After finding success with his program, losing seven pounds, Rossi launched the site as a Twitter-based food diary for the masses.

"It appeals to a certain type of person that needs that assurance, and wants to be held accountable for what they're eating, and wants to engage in a community," Rossi said. "You can end up getting more support than humiliation."

So far, posting his weight has worked well for Margay, who said he has now lost more than 60 pounds. He continues to post his weight to Twitter, and according to Friday's update, he's now down to 193 pounds, and continues keeping himself honest and fit.

Samantha Heller, a dietician and exercise physiologist who wrote "Get Smart: Samantha Heller's Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health," said she sees two sides to such public displays of weight.

"When you make a testament, it makes you accountable, and it can help people lose weight," Heller said in an interview with "Good Morning America." "But any time you're humiliated or shamed into doing something, it promotes a negative self-image. It's not a good way to promote healthy lifestyle changes or behavior change. We want these changes to be positive."

While for some people for whom weight loss is and will remain a private matter, the option to see a dietician or nutritionist is always an option, she said.

And for those who want to keep their regimen offline, she recommended groups like Weight Watchers and Overeaters Anonymous as healthy options.

"It depends on what works best for you to support you in making a healthy lifestyle change," Heller said.

"Good Morning America" correspondent John Berman will be joining the fold all day and sharing what he's eating on his Twitter feed. Follow him at

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Do you have the Symptoms of Folic Acid Deficiency?

While many health care professionals maintain we get all we require from the foods we eat, others prefer to suggest vitamins when their patients are under a stress such as a pregnancy or illness or even aging or when the patients body’s function is deficient or overloaded. Others maintain that vitamins are preventative and should be taken routinely to prevent diseases and maintain health.

Studies maintain that taking extra B vitamins, specifically folic acid and B12 have reduced birth defects by 72 to 100% . And since regulations authourising the addition of folic acid to grains have come into force in the USA the incidence of birth defects their have dropped by 19%, although sceptics claim there could be alternative reasons.

So what are some of the symptoms of folic acid deficiency? If your tongue is sore and you suffer from loss of appetite, “shortness of puff”, are irritable, forgetful and mentally sluggish, you may have a folic acid insufficiency. Folic acid is one of the B group of vitamins and most animal and plant foods are poor sources of it. The exception is liver which most individuals don’t eat a lot of these days. Various dietary habits and health conditions can also result in causing a deficiency of this vitamin. Celiac condition, alcoholism and irritable bowel syndrome are three such conditions.

Studies have also suggested that when older people suffer from “the blues” it is caused by a absence of folate (B9) . It should be taken alongside B6 and B12 to support its absorption and function in the body. These three vitamins work closely together and help relieve symptoms of depression. They do this by decreasing the total amount of homocysteine, which is thought to play an major part in causing the depression. Occasionally the amount of folate in proportion to the other two may be required to be increased in order to be effective. Solgar Homocystein Modulators are a good supplement to take and can be found online at www .solgar .

Some population-based studies across the USA have also established that numerous cancers are less usual in people who have high levels of folic acid. These people also consumed high amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber. One large study of 50,000 women established that adequate intakes of folate essentially reduced the risk of breast melanoma.

Some prescription medications for inflammatory bowel illness have been found to interfere with the bodies ability to absorb folate (folic acid) and the deficiency has also been linked to some men’s infertility and heart complaints.

Foods that offer the most folic acid are dark leafy greens, brewers yeast, cows liver, some seafood, orange juice and dairy. Root vegetables and whole grains also supply small amounts.

Side effects from folic acid supplements are rare, though they can occur if the dose exceeds 15000 mcg . Taking any one of the B group of vitamins on their own can produce a deficiency in the others, so don’t be too keen to buy without advice. Check out if you really do need it and make sure your health care practice knows your purpose in order to grasp why you want to take these supplements. Some prescription medicines such as antibiotics and warfarin can react adversely to this health programme, while others like ibuprofen and aspirin can actually cause a deficiency. Methotrexate, prescribed to treat some cancer and rheumatoid arthritis conditions increases the body’s need for folic acid, and its side-effects are greatly reduced by addition of this vitamin without impairing its results, so if you must take this medication be sure see your health care professional about adding folic acid to your diet – it could save you experiencing further side effects .


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New York Times: Spinal-Fluid Test Is Found to Predict Alzheimer’s

Researchers report that a spinal fluid test can be 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with significant memory loss who are on their way to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Although there has been increasing evidence of the value of this and other tests in finding signs of Alzheimer’s, the study, which will appear Tuesday in the Archives of Neurology, shows how accurate they can be. The new result is one of a number of remarkable recent findings about Alzheimer’s.

After decades when nothing much seemed to be happening, when this progressive brain disease seemed untreatable and when its diagnosis could be confirmed only at autopsy, the field has suddenly woken up.
Alzheimer’s, medical experts now agree, starts a decade or more before people have symptoms. And by the time there are symptoms, it may be too late to save the brain. So the hope is to find good ways to identify people who are getting the disease, and use those people as subjects in studies to see how long it takes for symptoms to occur and in studies of drugs that may slow or stop the disease.

Researchers are finding simple and accurate ways to detect Alzheimer’s long before there are definite symptoms. In addition to spinal fluid tests they also have new PET scans of the brain that show the telltale amyloid plaques that are a unique feature of the disease. And they are testing hundreds of new drugs that, they hope, might change the course of the relentless brain cell death that robs people of their memories and abilities to think and reason.
“This is what everyone is looking for, the bull’s-eye of perfect predictive accuracy,” Dr. Steven DeKosky, dean of the University of Virginia medical school, who is not connected to the new research, said about the spinal tap study.
Dr. John Morris, a professor of neurology at Washington University, said the new study “establishes that there is a signature of Alzheimer’s and that it means something. It is very powerful.”
A lot of work lies ahead, researchers say — making sure the tests are reliable if they are used in doctors’ offices, making sure the research findings hold up in real-life situations, getting doctors and patients comfortable with the notion of spinal taps, the method used to get spinal fluid. But they see a bright future.
Although the latest PET scans for Alzheimer’s are not commercially available, the spinal fluid tests are.

So the new results also give rise to a difficult question: Should doctors offer, or patients accept, commercially available spinal tap tests to find a disease that is yet untreatable? In the research studies, patients are often not told they may have the disease, but in practice in the real world, many may be told.

Some medical experts say it should be up to doctors and their patients. Others say doctors should refrain from using the spinal fluid test in their practices. They note that it is not reliable enough — results can vary by lab — and has been studied only in research settings where patients are carefully selected to have no other conditions, like strokes or depression, that could affect their memories.
“This is literally on the cutting edge of where the field is,” Dr. DeKosky said. “The field is moving fast. You can get a test that is approved by the F.D.A., and cutting edge doctors will use it.”
But, said Dr. John Trojanowski, a University of Pennsylvania researcher and senior author of the paper, given that people can get the test now, “How early do you want to label people?”
Some, like Dr. John Growdon, a neurology professor at Massachusetts General Hospital who wrote an editorial accompanying the paper, said that decision was up to doctors and their patients. Sometimes patients with severe memory loss do not have the disease. Doctors might want to use the test in cases where they want to be sure of the diagnosis. And they might want to offer the test to people with milder symptoms who want to know whether they are developing the devastating brain disease.

One drawback, though, is that spinal fluid is obtained with a spinal tap, and that procedure, with its reputation for pain and headaches, makes most doctors and many patients nervous. The procedure involves putting a needle in the spinal space and withdrawing a small amount of fluid.

Dr. Growdon and others say spinal taps are safe and not particularly painful for most people. But, he said, there needs to be an education campaign to make people feel more comfortable about having them. He suggested that, because most family doctors and internists are not experienced with the test, there could be special spinal tap centers where they could send patients.

The new study included more than 300 patients in their 70s, 114 with normal memories, 200 with memory problems and 102 with Alzheimer’s disease. Their spinal fluid was analyzed for amyloid beta, a protein fragment that forms plaques in the brain, and for tau, a protein that accumulates in dead and dying nerve cells in the brain. To avoid bias, the researchers analyzing the data did not know anything about the clinical status of the subjects. Also, the subjects were not told what the tests showed.

Nearly every person with Alzheimer’s had the characteristic spinal fluid protein levels. Nearly three quarters of people with mild cognitive impairment, a memory impediment that can precede Alzheimer’s, had Alzheimer’s-like spinal fluid proteins. And every one of those patients with the proteins developed Alzheimer’s within five years. And about a third of people with normal memories had spinal fluid indicating Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that those people will develop memory problems.

The prevailing hypothesis about Alzheimer’s says that amyloid and tau accumulation are necessary for the disease and that stopping the proteins could stop the disease. But it is not yet known what happens when these proteins accumulate in the brains of people with normal memories. They might be a risk factor like high cholesterol levels. Many people with high cholesterol levels never have heart attacks. Or it might mean that Alzheimer’s has already started and if the person lives long enough he or she will with absolute certainty get symptoms like memory loss.

Many, like Dr. DeKosky, believe that when PET scans for amyloid become available, they will be used instead of spinal taps, in part because doctors and patients are more comfortable with brain scans.
And when — researchers optimistically are saying “when” these days — drugs are shown to slow or prevent the disease, the thought is that people will start having brain scans or spinal taps for Alzheimer’s as routinely as they might have colonoscopies or mammograms today.

For now, Dr. DeKosky said, the days when Alzheimer’s could be confirmed only at autopsy are almost over. And the time when Alzheimer’s could be detected only after most of the brain damage was done seem to be ending, too.
“The new biomarkers in CSF have made the difference,” Dr. DeKosky said, referring to cerebral spinal fluid. “This confirms their accuracy in a very big way.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Capsaicin Effect Against Colon Cancer and Fights Fat

It's found in spicy chili, bold sauces, and many south-of-the-border goodies. It's also the stuff that gives hot peppers their heat and makes your eyes water just a tad. And your colon really loves it.

We're talking about capsaicin. New research suggests this nippy little compound that makes your mouth tingle may make colon cancer cells pretty uncomfortable, too, sending them into a self-destructive death spiral. Ouch.

Dance of the Dying Cell
In a recent lab study, capsaicin sparked a complex set of mechanisms in colon cancer cells that had been exposed to the fiery compound for 24 hours. An enzyme thought to kill off cancer cells increased, as did death-inducing changes in the maverick cancer cells' mitochondria and DNA. More research is needed -- including research in human subjects -- to determine if dietary capsaicin could have similar beneficial effects against colon cancer. But animal research on pancreatic cancer and diet already suggests that dietary capsaicin may be up to the challenge.

More Ways to Cut Colon Cancer
Red peppers tend to have more capsaicin than green peppers, but it can't hurt to add either kind to your huevos rancheros in the morning or to your fish tacos at night.
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Wouldn't it be great if you could just sprinkle something on your food to help you lose weight? Research suggests these fiery flakes might fit the bill: crushed red pepper. A small batch of studies has shown that a key ingredient in hot peppers -- capsaicin -- may help curb appetite and hinder the storage of fat.

Slim and Spicy
If you're serious about losing weight, red pepper flakes alone aren't going to move the dial much. But they could be a useful addition to a legitimate weight loss plan. Researchers in one study concluded that capsaicin may boost sympathetic nervous system activity in a way that dampens hunger and calorie intake later in the day. And related research found that capsiate -- a capsaicin-like compound from sweet peppers -- hindered fat storage and boosted weight loss.

Fiery-Hot Weight Loss
Besides possibly helping you lose more weight, adding heat to low-calorie meals will boost flavor and interest as well -- whether you choose capsaicin-rich cayenne pepper, diced jalapenos, or any variety of hot chili peppers. Try a few of these pungent pepper recipes from EatingWell:

5 Healthy Reasons to Drink Beer

1. It May Prevent Osteoporosis
Researchers at the University of California took on the very tough job of analyzing 100 commercially-available beers. They found that most of them contained enough silicon to benefit bone health (past studies have found that women who are light to moderate beer drinkers have better bone density than non-beer drinkers). Recommended daily dose: No more than two cold ones. And opt for Ales and Pale Ales, which have higher levels of the bone-bolstering silicon than darker varieties. 
2.It May Lower Risk of Heart Disease
A number of studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol--beer included--may lower your risk of heart disease. In one Harvard study, healthy-minded types who rated their alcohol intake as moderate had 40 to 60 percent lower incidence of heart attack.

3.Hops May Lower Cholesterol
Research has found that hops--the bitter flavor that balances out the sweetness of beer-- is a great source of polyphenols, which lower bad cholesterol, fight cancer, and give your immune system a boost. This particular study was funded by a beer association (And, fun fact: The subjects were nuns!), but its findings have been backed up by unaffiliated experts who agree that, in moderation, the polyphenols in beer may have a positive effect on HDL and LDL.

4. It's a Brain Bev
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that moderate drinking may be associated with better brain function. Women who consumed up to two drinks a day scored 20 percent higher on a cognitive functioning test than those who had less than one drink.

5.  It Can Keep You Hydrated
Researchers at Granada University in Spain say that beer beats water when it comes to hydration. Subjects ran on a treadmill in 104-degree temps until they couldn't take it anymore, then their hydration levels, motor skills, and ability to concentrate were measures. Half of the runners were given two half pints of Spanish lager while the other half were given good ol' H2O. The beer drinkers scored slightly better--a result that's attributed to sugars salts, and bubbles in the beer enhancing the body's ability to soak up water. As a bonus, the carbs replaced the calories they just sweated out. I'm going to stick to water post-workout, but at least I can feel confident that a few drinks tonight won't completely sabotage my workout tomorrow.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marijuana Compound Halts Breast Cancer Tumor Growth

Madrid, Spain: The administration of THC reduces the tumor growth of metastatic breast cancer and "might constitute a new therapeutic tool for the treatment" of cancerous tumors, according to preclinical data published online in the journal Molecular Cancer.

Investigators from Complutense University in Madrid assessed the anti-tumor potential of THC and JWH-133, a non-psychotropic CB2 receptor-selective agonist, in the treatment of ErbB2-positive breast tumors – a highly aggressive form of breast cancer that is typically unresponsive to standard therapies.

Researchers reported, "[B]oth Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ... and JWH-133 ...reduce tumor growth [and] tumor number [in mice]. ... [T]hese results provide a strong preclinical evidence for the use of cannabinoid-based therapies for the management of ErbB2-positive breast cancer."

In 2007, investigators at the California Pacific Medical Center reported that the administration of the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid CBD limited breast cancer metastasis in a manner that was superior to comparable synthesized agents.

Previous preclinical studies assessing the anticancer properties of cannabinoids have shown that they inhibit the proliferation of a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, oral cancers, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancers, and lymphoma.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, "Cannabinoids reduce ErbB2-driven breast cancer progression through Akt inhibition," is available online at:

WARNING FDA recalls Solo Slim

Solo Slim
Solo Slim
stock photo
The FDA has issued a recall of the diet supplements Solo Slim® and Solo Extra Strength® after finding that the 30-capsule bottles of each contain the undisclosed ingredient Sibutramine. Sibutramine can cause substantial increases in blood pressure in some individuals. It may also pose “significant risks” for people with a history of arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, or stroke.

The supplement, manufactured by EZVille Ltd. Of Ronkonkoma, NY is distributed nationwide both in stores and online. The recall involves bottles with expiration dates including and before August 2013. For more information, consumers can call 866 673-8483, Mon.-Friday from 9am-5pm.

This recall comes only a week after Consumer Reports magazine published information regarding the fact that although many popular dietary supplements contain ingredients which may cause heart problems, damage to the liver and kidneys, as well as certain forms of cancer, Americans continue to spend millions of dollars on them annually. In fact, the Nutritional Business Journal stated that the market was “worth $26.7 billion” in 2009 alone.

It was also reported that only about one third of the more than 54,000 dietary supplement products now listed in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database “had some level of safety and effectiveness that is supported by scientific evidence.” The Organization pointed, in particular, to ingredients such as bitter orange, chaparral, aconite, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, yohimbe, comfrey, germanium, and country mallow as those which “could be dangerous.”

The FDA is currently seeking more power from Congress in regulating supplements, especially those being manufactured in Chinese factories.

Friday, August 6, 2010

6 Rules of Cleavage

Just one missed blouse button and your “girls” can suddenly go from classy to trashy. Learn how and when to give your cleavage its stage time with our 6 rules for best breast etiquette.

The average breast size has grown from a 34B to a 36C since the 1970s and clothing styles are smaller and snugger. So it’s no wonder the line between “Nice!” and “Look at those!” has blurred.

“I don’t think women are stupid,” says Elisabeth Squires, author of bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls. (Seal Press). “I just don’t think anyone knows the rules.”

If you're confused about when to flaunt them and when to cover up, here’s what the experts say:

Rule #1: Acknowledge the obvious.
Sex sells. And like it or not, breasts get beer sold and burgers bought. It’s not such a stretch to realize your ta-tas are more likely to get checked out than, say, your knees or collarbones.

So do a double take in the mirror before walking out the front door in the morning.

“[Women] understand the power of breasts in general, but they don’t understand the power of their own,” Squires says.

You may aim for different effects depending on the situation, but understanding how and when to tap into the power of your cleavage will help you achieve the desired result anytime, anywhere.

One can look like a hoochie mama, Mother Superior or somewhere in between as a sexy and classy woman, says Los Angeles image consultant Ashley Rothschild. “There's nothing more fascinating than a woman who owns her sex appeal and her power.”

For best results, breast power should be wielded with awareness and intent.

“We have to realize that breasts are your femininity and sexuality at the same time,” Squires says. “That’s what the power of cleavage is all about – using your sexuality or not.”

Rule #2: Sometimes less is more.
In some industries, it’s appropriate – in fact, required – to play up your cleavage: entertainment, fashion, Hooters, to name a few.

Unless your career success rests on your chest, though, it's probably wiser to rely on your other assets at the office.

“If cleavage isn’t in your job description, don’t write it in,” Squires says.

Too much boobage, and you may end up perceived as sexual, not professional.

“Showing a lot of breast is a distraction, especially in the workplace,” she says. Wear a very low-cut wrap dress or shirt, and everyone will focus on the boobs.

“We all need to be appropriate and be responsible for the message we send out,” Rothschild says. “Think before you even enter your closet what your image is going to communicate.”

 So buy a full-length mirror and take a look at yourself. If your breasts are standing out, “that’s probably inappropriate,” Squires says.

Don’t reveal more than an inch of cleavage at work, Rothschild says. The same holds true for your company’s holiday party and meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time.

Rule #3: Sometimes more brings more.All bets are off when the sun goes down. Feel free to flaunt your curves and play up cleavage for a night on the town. This is the time to pair a push-up bra with a plunging neckline or, if you’re small-chested and daring, go with a sexy backless number and skip the bra.

Revealing 2-3 inches of cleavage during off hours will get the job done, Rothschild says, but she cautions: “If it looks like you're going to pop out, you’ve gone way too far.”

Think of your cleavage as an accessory, and make sure it suits your outfit and the occasion.

“Or, quite frankly, you might be an exhibitionist, and that’s OK too,” Squires says.

When it comes to breast etiquette, pregnancy is the other exception. Accentuate this short-lived bonus cleavage any way you please.

When women are pregnant, “breasts are fully employed,” she says. “Give their girls a break. Pregnant women should be able to get away with anything they want.”

 Rule #4: Be age-appropriate.
The scientific reality? Gravity will eventually win in the quest for perky breasts.

And since you can’t fight physics without a boob job – or a lot of duct tape – those not willing to go under the knife should aim for a look that complements a natural, mature bust line. Wear a well-fitting bra, but skip boosters to avoid an unnaturally high, crinkled cleavage.

“Often a woman who is a little bit older will wear a push-up bra, and she looks sort of odd,” Squires says.

Instead, select a bra that separates and supports your breasts, and don’t be afraid to wear a top that shows off your decolletage. A sheer or lacy camisole adds a sexy detail that also camouflages less than perfect skin.

But skip the plunging, belly-button baring neckline. And don’t even think about going braless.

"You're never too old to be sexy, but it's ridiculous to see a woman in her 60s or 70s walking around without a bra,” Rothschild says.

Rule #5: Always flatter your rack.
Regardless of size, your success at putting your best breasts forward is ultimately determined by your clothing.

Here’s how Rothschild recommends you gussy up your girls:

For big boobs:
  • V-necklines will open up the decolletage and elongate your neck.
  • Look for seaming on tops that emphasis your waist.
  • Wrap dresses help create an hourglass shape. Add a cami underneath for more coverage.
  • Wear necklaces that hang above the cleavage or down by your midriff.
  • Avoid square necklines.

For small boobs:

  • Pleating, gathering or beading at the bust will provide a fuller look.
  • Wrap dresses create a flattering shape for petite and larger chests.
  • Achieve a sexy look with a low-cut fitted top draped with necklaces – beads, chains, pearls, the works – and paired with jeans.

All boobs:

  • Wear a well-fitting bra.
  • Consider a minimizer if you are particularly well-endowed.

“When [women] get a good-fitting bra or minimizer bra, they look better in their clothes,” Squires says. “When you have larger breasts, they're moving all the time. It gives you the support you need and makes you feel more secure.”

Rule #6: Be adaptable.Expect and accept that during your life, your cleavage and breasts will change – a lot. Age, weight, pregnancy, PMS and gravity all make a great case for continuously reevaluating how the rules apply to your boobs.

Even though women wear 7-8 different sizes of bras over their lifetimes, don’t expect your set to ever match up with anyone elses. Like snowflakes, no two breasts are the same, not even those on the same chest.

As your girls change, remember that maintaining a sexy, powerful presence isn’t just about your cleavage.

“Think outside the bra,” Squires says, and use physical assets beyond your breasts, such as toned arms, a strong back and flat tummy.

And, of course, your best quality isn’t a body part at all.

“Self-confidence can often be the sexiest thing you can wear,” Squires says.


WARNING: Top 10 Fattest Fast Food Meals

The 10 worst fast food meals in America list might be a good wake-up call to consumers. The 10 fattest fast food meals list was constructed by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding of Men's Health, and it points out some of the huge pitfalls that exist when people use the fast food option as a meal during the day.

According to the list, the foods that make it on the list are not just indulgences, but are severely dangerous to the body, inflicting too much bodily harm to be eaten.

When people are faced with the nutritional facts that come along with some of the unhealthiest options on the fast food market, it can certainly be the wakeup call that consumers need. When you are having a lunch that in itself has almost 2,000 calories and more than 50 grams of fat, you should already know that you are exceeding your daily allowance in just one sitting. That doesn't even take into account what else might be consumed during the day, and, if you are having three fast food meals, you are really running the risk of encountering health problems later on in life.

One of the items on this list that might shock some consumers is the Domino's Chicken Carbonara Breadbowl Pasta. In presentation, it doesn't seem so bad, and the portion size doesn't even look that large out of the box. The problem, though, is that there are a lot of additives to the little pasta bowl, pushing it close to 1,500 calories and 24 grams of saturated fat (56 grams of fat total). That is certainly a food option that, if you feel is too tasty to pass up, you should split with a friend, or simply plan to just eat half of it.

There are, of course, obvious selections, or options that should obviously be seen as bad for you, out on the market too. Like the Wendy's Triple Baconator with fries, which is way too much hamburger, cheese, and bacon for someone to be placing on their regular dietary menu.

Many of the meal options listed as the 10 worst fast food meals in American don't even take into account the beverage of choice that someone might drink; if you are having a regular Pepsi or Coke, you are adding even more empty calories to your meal. Take a look at the list of the 10 worst fast food meals, and make sure that you are doing your best to eat healthy on a daily basis. Sure, we all like to indulge, but it can't be something that takes place at every meal during the day.

The 10 Worst Fast Food Meals in America

Domino's Chicken Carbonara Breadbowl Pasta

1480 calories
56 g fat (24 g saturated)
2220 mg sodium

McDonald's Big Breakfast with Large Biscuit, Hotcakes, Margarine, and Syrup
1370 calories
64.5 g fat (21.5 g saturated)
2335 mg sodium
49 g sugar

KFC Half Spicy Crispy Chicken Meal with Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Wedges, and Biscuit
1660 calories
104 g fat (27.5 g saturated)
5050 mg sodium

Burger King Large Triple Whopper with Cheese Value Meal with Fries
1790 calories
111 g fat (38 g saturated, 3.5 g trans)
2430 mg sodium

Quiznos Tuna Melt (Large) with Cheetos
1900 calories
145 g fat (29 g saturated, 2 g trans)
2230 mg sodium

Wendy's Triple Baconator Combo Meal with Small Fries and Small Coke
1,850 calories
106 g fat (43 g saturated, 4 g trans)
2,780 mg sodium

Dairy Queen Chicken Strip Basket (6-piece w/Country Gravy)
1,640 calories
74 g fat (12 g saturated, 1 g trans)
3,690 mg sodium

Hardee's Loaded Biscuit and Gravy with Large Hash Rounds
1,530 calories
110 g fat (26 g saturated)
3,020 mg sodium

Long John Silver's Fish Combo Basket
750 calories
42 g fat (10.5 g saturated, 12 g trans)
1,930 mg sodium

Carl's Jr. Double Guacamole Bacon Burger with Large Fries
1,590 calories
98 g fat (32 g saturated fat)
3,060 mg sodium