A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Swine Flu Vaccine Seems Safe: Experts

(HealthDay News) Despite persistent public concern that H1N1 vaccines being tested might have unforeseen side effects, experts reiterated Thursday that so far, at least, the shots seem safe.

"There have been no red flags at all," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told HealthDay.

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Fear of Job Loss May Be Worse Than Loss Itself

(HealthDay News) People who constantly worry about losing their jobs reported poorer physical health and more symptoms of depression than those who'd actually been laid off, a new study shows.

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How broccoli can protect your arteries

(Reuters) - It's long been thought that broccoli is good for your heart, and now British scientists think they know why…

[T]he researchers found that sulforaphane -- a compound occurring naturally in broccoli and other brassicas [including spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, bok choi, and kohlrabi] -- could "switch on" a protective protein which is inactive in parts of the arteries vulnerable to clogging.

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Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study

(HealthDay News) Fruit may contain more beneficial antioxidants than previously thought, a new international study says.

A study done on apples, peaches and nectarines found these fruits contain up to five times more polyphenols, chemical substances believed to contain disease-fighting properties, than scientists suspected.

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Do High-fat Diets Make Us Stupid And Lazy?

(Science Daily) Rats fed a high-fat diet show a stark reduction in their physical endurance and a decline in their cognitive ability after just nine days, a study by Oxford University researchers has shown.

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People With Type 2 Diabetes Not Meeting Important Nutritional Recommendations

(Science Daily) People with type 2 diabetes are not consuming sufficiently healthy diets and could benefit from ongoing nutritional education and counseling, according to a new study…

"The most important thing about controlling diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, is being able to manage energy in and energy out, and the best way to do that is through the diet," said Mara Z. Vitolins, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., R.D., lead author on the study…

The study showed that 93 percent of participants exceeded the recommended percentage of daily calories from fat, 85 percent exceeded the saturated fat recommendation and 92 percent consumed too much sodium in their regular diets. Additionally, less than half of the participants met the minimum recommended daily servings of fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains based on the year 2000 version of the Food Guide Pyramid recommendations. Intake of diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to prevent heart disease, the leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes.

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Young Animals May Be Able to Erase Bad Memories

(HealthDay News) New Swiss research suggests that young animals may have a mechanism that allows them to jettison traumatic memories, but experts say it's unclear whether humans of any age can do the same.

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Community: I don’t know if some of my bad memories have been actually erased, but I do believe I’ve neutralized many of them, using creative visualization. Unfortunately, that process has been hijacked by the get-rich-quick crowd, so I can’t recommend any reading on the topic.

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How to Manage Dental Costs, With or Without Insurance

(New York Times) For most people, a toothache that turns into an expensive procedure like a crown or implant means thousands of dollars out of pocket. Routine checkups, cleanings and fillings can set you back hundreds. No wonder 35 percent of Americans have not visited a dentist in the last 12 months, according to a Gallup report in March…

The health care bills circulating in the House and Senate include dental care provisions for children, which is good. But it also means that for most of us relief from dental bills is not likely to come soon. That leaves it up to consumers to find smart ways to reduce their dental care costs without sacrificing their oral health. So we asked experts and patients for advice.

PREVENTION Taking care of small problems keeps them from becoming big ones…

FULL DISCLOSURE It’s important to know the price before you agree to the procedure…

SPREADING THE COST Patients can often space out treatments or negotiate payment plans with the dentist for extensive work…

DENTAL SCHOOL CLINICS Almost every dental school offers affordable care provided by dental students and overseen by experienced, qualified teachers. You can expect to pay as little as a third of what a traditional dentist would charge and still receive excellent, well-supervised care.

DISCOUNT NETWORKS Alternatives to employer-provided dental insurance are often a bad deal… But for the uninsured, a discount network can make a difference.

Some networks like those on DentalPlans.com have formed to fill the void…

[M]ake sure the discounts you are likely to use will be enough to cover the annual fee — and look carefully for any limits and restrictions.

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Community: There’s a dental school within easy public transit distance of where I live (until a few years ago there were two, but the one I used for a long time closed), but most people aren’t that fortunate. Also bear in mind that there are eyecare plans like the dental plans mentioned in the article.

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New Study Compares After-hours And Daytime Surgery Success Rates

(Science Daily) Patients who have after-hour orthopaedic surgeries risk a slightly higher rate of necessary follow-up surgeries, according to a study… The data also suggests that patients whose surgeries took place during the day have the same healing, recovery time, and major complication rates as patients who have surgery after hours.

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New Treatment In Sight For Ovarian Cancer

(Science Daily) In the future, women with metastatic ovarian cancer could be treated with a radioactive substance that can seek and destroy tumour cells. An initial study … has found that the treatment has no unwanted side-effects.

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New Switch That Causes The Body To Produce Cancerous Cells Discovered

(Science Daily) A team of Syracuse University researchers discovered a second molecular switch within the Mixed Lineage Leukemia protein complex that they believe could be exploited to prevent the overproduction of abnormal cells that are found in several types of cancer, including leukemia.

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Patients' Pretreatment Quality Of Life Can Predict Overall Lung Cancer Survival

(Science Daily) Research … has found that an individual's quality of life prior to treatment can help predict the overall survival of patients with advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer…

The researchers found that patients' self-assessment of their pretreatment quality of life, measured by the single-item Spitzer Uniscale, can alone predict overall survival, and that for those with a low score, the risk of death was twice as high as for those with high scores.

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Community: Could it be that quality of life has an impact on the will to live? And that the will to live is a powerful force for health? We need a lot more research on this topic.

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Eating When You Should be Asleep (and 3 Other Weight-Loss Saboteurs)

(U.S. News & World Report) [W]eight loss depends largely on getting the balance right between calories consumed and calories burned. Yet, as evidenced by individuals' struggle to control weight and also by the nation's alarmingly increased rate of overweight and obese residents in recent decades, mastering this seemingly simple formula is no small task. Willpower alone probably won't do the job, since several sneaky factors may be complicating the equation. Here are a few that may be working against your efforts to control your own weight.

Eating very late at night. Snacking at times that are out of sync with your circadian clock might be promoting weight gain…

Taking in too much added sugar. The highly processed American diet is packed with added sugars and syrups, which quickly translate into a whole mess of trouble. The American Heart Association, concerned that excessive sugar intake may be linked to metabolic abnormalities and poor health and also crowd out healthful nutrients in one's diet, has just suggested a daily upper limit—that women get no more than 100 calories from added sugars and men no more than 150…

Not getting sufficient sleep. The lower people dip below seven hours a night, the fatter they seem to become. A theory about why: The intricate dance between hunger hormones appears to be disrupted when a person clocks too little shut-eye; for example, leptin, which suppresses appetite, is lowered while ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, gets a boost…

Your body desperately wants to store fat… Much to the chagrin of us all, fat cells rarely disappear (unlike other cells in the body, which are programmed to die through a process called apoptosis). Weight gain involves the beefing up of the body's fat cells and the creation of more once the existing ones have maxed out in size and storage capacity. Weight loss only slims these cells down, so once you've created new fat cells, weight loss becomes a battle with their drive to store energy and stay plump. Therefore, it's much easier to stay trim over time than to maintain a weight loss. When you hit a high on the scale, your biochemistry wants to keep you there.

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Exercise Minimizes Weight Regain By Reducing Appetite And Burning Fat First, Carbs Later

(Science Daily) Exercise helps prevent weight regain after dieting by reducing appetite and by burning fat before burning carbohydrates, according to a new study with rats. Burning fat first and storing carbohydrates for use later in the day slows weight regain and may minimize overeating by signaling a feeling of fullness to the brain.

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Thin thighs - maybe not your heart's desire

(Reuters) - People who have agonized over their fat thighs might be able to relax a bit -- Danish doctors said on Thursday they found patients with the thinnest thighs died sooner than the more endowed.

Obesity, age, smoking and other factors did not reduce the effect, the researchers reported…

"This is a very interesting line of research, because it would suggest that interventions which protect or increase muscle mass (such as weight training) may be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease even if no loss of body fat occurs," [Health Sciences professor Tim Olds] said in a statement.

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Nonagenarian Researcher Petitions FDA To Ban Trans Fats

(Science Daily) "I request to ban trans fats from the American diet."

Thus begins a 3,000-word petition to the Food and Drug Administration, the work of a man on a dogged, decades-old crusade to eradicate trans fats from food.

Fred Kummerow, a 94-year-old University of Illinois veterinary biosciences professor emeritus who still conducts research on the health effects of trans fats in the diet, filed the petition with the FDA last month. The petition is now posted on the FDA Web site…

"Everybody should read my petition because it will scare the hell out of them," Kummerow said.

Trans fats contribute to the two main causes of heart disease: blood clots in the coronary arteries that can lead to sudden death from a heart attack, and atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries that interferes with blood flow, he said. Trans fats are also known to increase low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the blood and to spur inflammation, both of which contribute to heart disease.

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Scientists Turn Off 'Obesity Switch' in Mice

(HealthDay News) -- Researchers have found a gene that, when switched off, enables mice to stay slender -- even those who eat fatty diets.

When scientists deleted the IKKE gene from mice, they found that the rodents no longer gained weight even when fed a lard-like substance instead of their usual low-fat chow.

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Community: I wonder what their arteries looked like.

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Buyer Beware: Estrogen Supplements Not As Effective As Claimed, Researchers Find

(Science Daily) Dietary supplements claiming to help postmenopausal women with bone health may not be doing what they say, according to new research from Purdue University.

"We found that some plant-derived isoflavones have a modest effect on suppressing bone loss during post-menopause, but more concerning is many dietary supplements that claim to have the power of estrogen do not," said Connie Weaver, distinguished professor of foods and nutrition. "It's buyer beware. Some of the supplements in our study claimed to be substitutes for estrogen, yet they weren't effective at all or weren't as effective as some of the current treatments for osteoporosis."

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Exercise may lower breast cancer risk

(UPI) Exercise lowered breast cancer risk 52 percent of women entering or past menopause, Canadian researchers said…

A woman who gained more than 22 pounds after age 30 or more than 12 pounds after age 40 was almost twice as likely to suffer from breast cancer as a woman with stable weight. The risk tripled if maximum weight was reached after age 50.

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Caffeine Without Healthy Diet Linked to Heart Risk

(HealthDay News) People who drink lots of coffee but who don't follow a Mediterranean-style diet are more likely to have atrial fibrillation, a new study shows…

Those with atrial fibrillation also consumed more red meat and full-fat dairy products.

It was also noted that patients with atrial fibrillation consumed more of their total dietary antioxidants from coffee compared to other food sources, such as fruits, vegetables and wine, the researchers pointed out.

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Stroke May Be Striking at a Younger Age

(HealthDay News) Stroke could be affecting Americans earlier in life than ever before, a new study suggests.

"Stroke is no longer an affliction of old age," said lead researcher Timothy J. Wolf, an instructor of occupational therapy and neurology and investigator for the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis. "People in the working ages of life are having strokes with greater regularity than ever before."

Reporting in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, the team also found that while more people under the age of 65 are suffering strokes, rehabilitation is often not offered to younger people with mild stroke.

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Community: One of my younger sisters had a stroke last year. She’s in her mid 50s. She has had rehabilitation, however. One good thing is that it finally motivated her to stop smoking.

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Playing Tetris May Build Up Your Brain

(HealthDay News) Regularly playing the video game Tetris may increase gray matter in your brain and make you think more efficiently, researchers in New Mexico report.

MRIs done on 26 adolescent girls asked to play the popular puzzle game for half an hour daily over three months found improved efficiency in parts of the brain associated with critical thinking, reasoning, and language and processing.

Scans also revealed increases in matter in the brain's cortex in areas linked to complex, coordinated movements and integrating sensory experiences, such as sight, sound and touch, with other information.

In Tetris, a computer game developed about 25 years ago, players score points by rotating colored puzzle pieces as they fall so they land in completed rows.

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Injectable Biomaterial Regenerates Brain Tissue In Traumatic Injuries

(Science Daily) An injectable biomaterial gel may help brain tissue grow at the site of a traumatic brain injury, according to findings by a Clemson University bioengineer.

Research by assistant professor of bioengineering Ning Zhang shows that the biomaterial gel made up of both synthetic and natural sources has the potential to spur the growth of a patient's own neural stem cells in the body, structurally repairing the brain injury site. In previous lab studies, Zhang has demonstrated the reconstruction of a complete vascular network at the injury site as an initial step toward brain tissue regeneration.

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New Compound Shrinks Skin Cancers

(HealthDay News) An experimental cancer drug that switches off the so-called "Hedgehog" pathway beat back tumors in more than half of patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.

The drug also helped a 26-year-old man suffering from medulloblastoma, the most common form of brain cancer in children…

One expert noted that finding a compound that might control the Hedgehog pathway could have far-reaching implications.

"These are phase 1 trials so they're quite preliminary, but the drug is quite effective in at least a subset of the patients treated," said Dr. Andrzej Dlugosz, author of an accompanying editorial… "The reason we're so excited is that there are now a large number of cancers that have also been linked to abnormalities in this pathway, including pancreatic, colon, ovarian and prostate."

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Swine Flu May Be Less Dangerous Than Predicted: Study

(HealthDay News) Fears that the H1N1 swine flu will turn into a "superbug" this year may be unfounded, say researchers at the University of Maryland.

In laboratory tests, the virus responsible for the swine flu pandemic did not take a virulent turn when combined with other strains of seasonal flu. But it did spread more rapidly than the other viruses, confirming the need for swine flu vaccinations, the researchers said.

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Cardiologist: Exercise, a pill taken daily

(UPI) A U.S. cardiologist says exercise is like a pill that should be taken daily for good health.

This pill, suggests Dr. Philip Ades of the University of Vermont College of Medicine, controls weight, lowers blood pressure, prevents diabetes and heart disease, raises "good" cholesterol, improves fitness and elevates mood.

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Study: Alcohol affects circadian rhythms

(UPI) Chronic alcohol consumption blunts the ability of the body's biological clock to synchronize daily activities to light, U.S. researchers said.

[The researches] said disruption of the circadian rhythms dramatically increases the risks of developing cancer, heart disease and depression.

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Ways to Conquer Emotional Eating

(U.S. News & World Report) Do you blindly turn to food as a source of comfort when you're feeling upset? Since emotional overeating doesn't provide any lasting satisfaction and can lead to health problems, it's far better to find other ways to deal with the stresses of daily life. That's the premise of a book out this month, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food (New Harbinger Publications). "People are often running from their emotions," says the author, psychologist Susan Albers. "If we knew that we could cope with our feelings, we'd be less likely to turn to food." The trick is to consciously substitute something "healthy and calorie free" for sweets when you feel the urge to soothe your nerves.

Albers divides techniques that emotional eaters can use to avoid seeking comfort in food into five skill areas: mindfulness techniques, strategies to calm and relax your body, strategies to change your thoughts, finding distractions, and gaining support.

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High-fiber cereal has come a long way

(UPI) Taste testers of U.S. Consumer Reports say high-fiber cereals have come a long way since the cereals they used to describe as "more like straw than grain."

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Biotransformed Blueberry Juice Fights Fat And Diabetes

(Science Daily) Juice extracted from North American lowbush blueberries, biotransformed with bacteria from the skin of the fruit, holds great promise as an anti-obesity and anti-diabetic agent…

"Results of this study clearly show that biotransformed blueberry juice has strong anti-obesity and anti-diabetic potential," says senior author Pierre S. Haddad.

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Scientists find 'right' omega-3 DHA dose

(UPI) A team of French scientists say they have found the right dose of docosahexaenoic acid in omega-3 fish body oils to protect the heart of healthy men.

The study … found a 200 mg dose of DHA per day is enough to affect biochemical markers that reliably predict cardiovascular problems, such as those related to aging, atherosclerosis and diabetes.

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7 Steps Newly Diagnosed Diabetics Should Take

(U.S. News & World Report) According to a new study, people who lost weight in the 18 months after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes experienced sustained benefits even if they regained the weight later. They were up to twice as likely to reach their targets for blood pressure and blood sugar as those who didn't lose weight, although by the end of the four-year study, most of them had regained the weight they had lost…

Here are six other tips, besides losing weight, based on American Diabetes Association recommendations:

Get a primary-care physician…

Get educated. Find a diabetes educator in your area to help you learn about the disease…

Exercise…

Take the drugs you need…

Make a plan for regular specialist checkups. At a minimum, you'll need annual eye and foot exams and a dental exam every six months.

Get family members on board… [I]t's tough eating vegetables if everyone else is having chips. Besides, it's a lot more fun to go for a daily walk with someone else than all by yourself.

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Community: I don’t think you need to be a newly diagnosed diabetic to find these measure good for your health.

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Key Protein May Link Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Woes

(HealthDay News) Researchers say they know why obesity leads to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a finding that may help experts target therapies to limit the health impact of being very overweight.

A Japanese team discovered a protein that causes ongoing, low-grade inflammation within fat tissues, which contributes to the health consequences that come with obesity.

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Weight-loss Surgery Can Break A Family's Cycle Of Obesity

(Science Daily) Adolescent and young children of obese mothers who underwent weight-loss surgery prior to pregnancy have been found to have a lower prevalence of obesity and significantly improved cardio-metabolic markers when compared to siblings born before the same obese mothers had weight-loss surgery.

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Community: Why wouldn’t the same results be expected for women who lost weight without surgery before getting pregnant?

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Pollution linked to elderly heart problems

(UPI) Exposure to carbon monoxide is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for the elderly with heart problems, U.S. researchers found.

The nationwide study of 126 urban communities study … found that an increase in carbon monoxide of 1 part per million in the maximum daily one-hour exposure is associated with a 0.96 percent increase in the risk of hospitalization from cardiovascular disease among people age 65 and older.

However, this link holds true even when carbon monoxide levels are less than 1 part per million -- well below the Environmental Protection Agency's National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 35 parts per million.

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Waist-hip Ratio Better Than BMI For Gauging Obesity In Elderly, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Body mass index (BMI) readings may not be the best gauge of obesity in older adults, according to new research from UCLA endocrinologists and geriatricians. Instead, they say, the ratio of waist size to hip size may be a better indicator when it comes to those over 70…

The researchers found no association between all-cause mortality and BMI or waist circumference; the link was only with waist-hip ratio. In women, each 0.1 increase in the waist-hip ratio was associated with a 28 percent relative increase in mortality rate (the number of deaths per 100 older adults per year) in the group sampled. Thus, if the waist-hip ratio rose from 0.8 to 0.9 or from 0.9 to 1.0, it would mean a 28 percent relative increase in the death rate. Put another way, if hip size is 40 inches, an increase in waist size from 32 to 36 inches signaled a 28 percent relative death-rate increase.

The relationship was not graded in men. Instead there was a threshold effect: The rate of dying was 75 percent higher in men with a waist-hip ratio greater than 1.0 — that is, men whose waists were larger than their hips — relative to those with a ratio of 1.0 or lower. There was no such relationship with either waist size or BMI.

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Community: I think what they’re saying is that for women the greater the difference between waist and hip measurements, the lower the risk. They’re just saying it backwards, for some reason.

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Scientists Imitate Viruses To Deliver Therapeutic Genes

(Science Daily) Australian scientists developed a new gene therapy vector that uses the same machinery that viruses use to transport their cargo into our cells. As a result of this achievement, therapeutic DNA can be transferred to a cell's nucleus far more efficiently than in the past, raising hopes for more effective treatment of genetic disorders and some types of cancers.

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Ikarians outlive just about everyone else in the world

(AARP Magazine) On Ikaria, a mountainous, 99-square-mile island [off the coast of Greece], residents … outlive just about everyone else in the world…

Over centuries with no outside influences, island natives developed a distinctive outlook on life, including relentless optimism and a propensity for partying, both of which reduce stress. Ikarians go to bed well after midnight, sleep late, and take daily naps. Based on our interviews, we have reason to believe that most Ikarians over 90 are sexually active…

[Among the] likely contributors to Ikarian longevity[:]

With the island's rugged terrain, family and village support have been key to survival. Strong social connections are proven to lower depression, mortality, and even weight…

Around the world, people who most faithfully stick to this region's diet—a regimen high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and fish—outlive people who don't by about six years.

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Creating America's Healthiest Hometown

(AARP Magazine) Albert Lea, Minnesota, (population: 18,000) may seem like a quaint midwestern city—crab apple trees in bloom, thunderclouds over the lakes. But residents here have embarked on a first-of-its-kind, life-extending mission. On May 14 the town launched The AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, sponsored by United Health Foundation. This project, spearheaded by AARP The Magazine, makes Albert Lea ground zero for the practical application of longevity research, as the town changes the way residents eat, exercise, work, and play. Spend a few days here and you may see townsfolk building new walking paths, planting community gardens, adding healthy choices to restaurant menus (heads up: if you want bread, you may have to ask for it), and creating "walking school buses," in which neighbors, parents, and retiree volunteers walk kids to school instead of driving them. The payoff? Healthier eating, more exercise, stronger friendships, more fun. Who said living longer and healthier was hard work?

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Mediterranean diet can stave off need for diabetes drugs

(CNN) Studies already suggest that the Mediterranean diet -- rich in fish, fruits, nuts, and olive oil -- can prevent second heart attacks, delay Alzheimer's disease, and maybe even lower your cancer risk.

Now, new research says the Mediterranean diet may also be a winning solution for people with type 2 diabetes. Compared to people on a low-fat diet, those with type 2 diabetes who ate a Mediterranean diet lost more weight and went longer without blood-sugar-lowering medication, according to a study published this week .

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Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

(Time) Horror stories about the food industry have long been with us — ever since 1906, when Upton Sinclair's landmark novel The Jungle told some ugly truths about how America produces its meat. In the century that followed, things got much better, and in some ways much worse. The U.S. agricultural industry can now produce unlimited quantities of meat and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our fertile farmland, cages for egg-laying chickens so packed that the birds can't even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming — our energy-intensive food system uses 19% of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy.

And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous. A series of recalls involving contaminated foods this year — including an outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanuts that killed at least eight people and sickened 600 — has consumers rightly worried about the safety of their meals. A food system — from seed to 7‑Eleven — that generates cheap, filling food at the literal expense of healthier produce is also a principal cause of America's obesity epidemic…

The industrial food system fills us up but leaves us empty — it's based on selective forgetting. But what we eat — how it's raised and how it gets to us — has consequences that can't be ignored any longer.

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How the Food Makers Captured Our Brains

As head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. David A. Kessler served two presidents and battled Congress and Big Tobacco. But the Harvard-educated pediatrician discovered he was helpless against the forces of a chocolate chip cookie…

Dr. Kessler is perhaps best known for his efforts to investigate and regulate the tobacco industry, and his accusation that cigarette makers intentionally manipulated nicotine content to make their products more addictive.

In “The End of Overeating[:Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite],” Dr. Kessler finds some similarities in the food industry, which has combined and created foods in a way that taps into our brain circuitry and stimulates our desire for more.

When it comes to stimulating our brains, Dr. Kessler noted, individual ingredients aren’t particularly potent. But by combining fats, sugar and salt in innumerable ways, food makers have essentially tapped into the brain’s reward system, creating a feedback loop that stimulates our desire to eat and leaves us wanting more and more even when we’re full…

This is not a diet book, but Dr. Kessler devotes a sizable section to “food rehab,” offering practical advice for using the science of overeating to our advantage, so that we begin to think differently about food and take back control of our eating habits.

One of his main messages is that overeating is not due to an absence of willpower, but a biological challenge made more difficult by the overstimulating food environment that surrounds us. “Conditioned hypereating” is a chronic problem that is made worse by dieting and needs to be managed rather than cured, he said. And while lapses are inevitable, Dr. Kessler outlines several strategies that address the behavioral, cognitive and nutritional factors that fuel overeating.

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The brain may not be fooled by sugar substitutes

(Los Angeles Times) Research has shown that drinking an artificially sweetened beverage can whet the appetite and stimulate people to eat more in a subsequent meal -- an effect not seen when people drink a sugared beverage or glass of water before eating. It suggests that artificial sweeteners may turn on brain areas that create appetite, but not provide satiation…

In addition, some epidemiological studies find that people who regularly consume artificially sweetened drinks carry, on average, a few more pounds than people who don't.

But other studies have muddied the picture.

A small study published in 2007 found that artificially sweetened drinks trigger more eating only in people who don't drink them very often. People who habitually drink lots of artificially sweetened beverages didn't consume a larger meal after drinking one -- suggesting that their subconscious brains have adjusted to the sweeteners over time…

One approach might be to avoid the zero-calorie drinks that crowd our grocery aisles in favor of reduced-calorie drinks that combine artificial sweeteners with real sugars. Such drinks might preserve the brain's connection between sweetness and calories, [Paul Smeets, a neuroscientist at University Medical Center Utrecht] says…

"The ideal artificial sweetener would really fool the body," Smeets says. "But I'm not sure that is possible."

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Thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla.

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