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

Health insurers make big bucks from Big Macs

(Scientific American) Like most businesses, health and life insurance companies are out to make a buck, and one way they augment their income is by investing in other industries.

But a new study has found that $1.88 billion from this industry is backing the top five publicly traded fast food chains…

It's already common knowledge that the insurance industry has made even bigger investments in tobacco (handing over almost $4.5 billion, according to a 2009 study), but evidence is mounting that obesity and other dietary diseases are becoming as much of a burden on health—both individual and national—than smoking. People who live near fast food restaurants are more likely to have a stroke than residents living farther away, according to another 2009 study. And high-fat foods have been shown to be rather addictive, at least in animal models.

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Enjoy Exercising Outdoors

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The spring season is the perfect time to take a break from the gym and head outdoors. Exercising outside offers many benefits — not only will you enjoy the fresh air, but the natural terrains (for example, hills, grass, sand, and trails) will challenge your body and help you lose weight faster…

Exercise for 20 minutes most days of the week. And try to switch up your activities to stay motivated and work different muscle groups. If you perform only one type of activity, you neglect certain muscles and overwork others. It's also important to exercise at different levels of intensity to build endurance — and boost weight loss.

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Community: Being in a natural environment is healing. But if you have allergies, you may want to delay your outdoors activity for a couple of weeks. See below.

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'Off-the-Charts' Pollen Counts Bring Misery to Millions

(HealthDay News) A cold winter followed by a sudden and sustained warming trend, not to mention the botanical blossoming that global warming has brought, has boosted pollen counts to near-record highs across the United States this spring, experts say.

All of that has led to one of the most miserable allergy seasons in recent memory for the 50 million Americans who find themselves suffering itchy eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats this time of year…

One bit of good news for allergy sufferers is that the allergy season is "on fast-forward," [ Dr. David Rosenstreich] said. "It's all happening right now." Most of the tree pollens should start to decrease in the next couple of weeks.

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Taste for low-calorie alternatives may wane: study

(Reuters Health) The more people eat "diet" versions of richer foods, the less they may actually like what they are tasting, a small study suggests.

The findings … suggest that familiarity can breed dislike when it comes to reduced-calorie foods. They may also offer some insight into the common dilemma of "yo-yo" dieting, the researchers say.

Read more.

Community: The findings also bring to mind the possibility that food manufacturers may be designing their low-calorie products to be less tasty. Remember when almost all generic products were really bad? I thought at the time that they might be purposely bad, to disabuse us of the idea that we could buy cheaper products. Now, however, store brand products are in many cases better than the more highly marketed, and therefore more expensive, brands. Maybe the same thing will happen with low-calorie food products.

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Five Ways to Marinate Vegetables

(New York Times) Marinades are a great way to make vegetables last longer, writes Martha Rose Shulman in this week’s Recipes for Health…

Here are five delicious marinades for vegetables.

Marinated Cauliflower With Fennel and Coriander Seeds: A great way to keep this highly nutritious vegetable on hand and ready to eat.

Italian Marinated Mushrooms: Serve these mushrooms as an appetizer or add them to a salad.

Quick Sweet and Sour Cucumber Pickles: These cucumbers, marinated in seasoned rice vinegar, are great on sandwiches and go well with fish.

Marinated Beets: Perfect for healthy snacks, these beets will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Marinated Carrots With Fresh Mint: Serve these carrots as hors d’oeuvres, or sneak them into your child’s lunchbox.

Source

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Knowing When Poultry Goes Foul

(Science Daily) Mom's trusty nose may be good, but researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have gone her one better by designing an instrument that quickly and precisely sniffs trace amounts of chemical compounds that indicate poultry spoilage without damaging the product itself.* The process can detect minute amounts of spoilage compounds and can be used by suppliers during all stages of processing, transport and storage…

Considering that Americans annually consume an average of nearly 84 pounds of chicken each (per 2008 USDA statistics, the most recent year available), this improved testing method for spoilage could have significant health implications.

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Abnormal Heart Rhythm Linked to Alzheimer's

(HealthDay News) People with atrial fibrillation, a form of abnormal heart rhythm, are more likely than others to develop dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, a new study finds.

The presence of atrial fibrillation also predicted higher death rates in dementia patients, especially among younger patients in the group studied, meaning under the age of 70…

"From a public health perspective, the best thing we can do to decrease the coming epidemic of Alzheimer's disease is to do a much better, more aggressive job of helping people with heart disease," [Dr. Gary] Kennedy said. "That means diet and exercise, of course -- everyone knows that. We need to look at obstacles that people encounter beyond their own behavior, obstacles we put up environmentally in the workplace, in the school, that keep people from having better diet and exercise. A heart-healthy diet and lifestyle are really the best means we have available to prevent dementia."

Read more.

Community: This study wasn’t able to conclude whether the atrial fibrillation is a cause of Alzheimer’s or whether atrial fibrillation and Alzheimer’s have a common cause. But there are plenty of other reasons to promote the kind of diet and exercise that reduce the chances of having heart disease. If those habits also keep Alzheimer’s at bay, so much the better.

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Public Defibrillators Save Lives

(HealthDay News) Placing automatic external defibrillators in public places across the United States and Canada could save the lives of 474 people who otherwise would die of cardiac arrest each year, researchers report.

Previous studies have found similar lifesaving results for defibrillators in more limited setting, such as casinos or airports, noted study author Dr. Myron L. Weisfeldt…

"But this is in a much broader setting than airports or casinos, where security guards might be available," Weisfeldt said. "This is a first report of real-world experience, how effective they are when in large cities."

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Chronically ill often miles from help

(UPI) U.S. researchers say some 40 percent of chronically ill adults live alone, often with children living 10 miles away, making caregiving a greater challenge.

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Church health fairs help spot high blood pressure

(Reuters Health) Church health fairs are an effective way of identifying people with high blood pressure and making sure they get treatment, new research shows.

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Minorities have more sleep disturbances

(UPI) Blacks and Hispanics experience more sleep disturbances than whites, affecting their quality of life, U.S. researchers found…

"These findings support the need for sleep clinicians to use culturally-responsive sleep education, assessment and intervention approaches, as well as depression, anxiety and other relevant mood and socioeconomic-status," [lead author Carol M.] Baldwin said in a statement.

Baldwin warned the study is correlational and did not allow for an analysis of causality.

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Dance Therapy Improves Seniors' Gait, Balance, Researcher Finds

(Science Daily) For seniors, dancing isn't just for fun; it also can be therapeutic. Two recent studies conducted by University of Missouri researchers found that participation in dance-based therapy can improve balance and gait in older adults. Improved functionality among seniors can decrease their risk of falling and reduce costly injuries.

"Creative interventions such as dance-based therapy have the potential to significantly reduce falls in older persons," said Jean Krampe… "In the studies, we found improved levels of balance, gait and overall functionality among seniors who participated in regular dance-therapy sessions. Nursing and eldercare professionals can help move these programs into practice to reduce the detrimental burden caused by falls."

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Hospital Infection Problem Persists

(New York Times) The nagging and largely solvable problem of hospital-acquired infections remains as resistant to cure as the germs that contribute to an estimated 100,000 deaths a year, according to an annual government study issued Tuesday.

Despite a renewed focus on prevention and threats of governmental sanctions, hospitals continue to see increased rates of post-operative bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported. The rates increased by 8 percent for bloodstream infections and 4 percent for urinary tract infections over the year before.

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Eye masks and earplugs help in ICU

(UPI) Chinese researchers suggest eye masks and earplugs may help patients in intensive care units to sleep.

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Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement

(HealthDay News) An active social life, being married and having a partner who is also retired all make a huge difference in seniors' enjoyment of life, but having children or grandchildren matters little, [a] University of Greenwich team found…

Seniors with high levels of life satisfaction strongly agreed with the statement, "I have active social groups I enjoy spending time with." Conversely, seniors who aren't enjoying life much strongly agreed with the statement, "I miss the socializing of working life."

"Social groups in retirement, particularly those that revolve around shared interests, can provide a retiree with a number of basic psychological needs -- a sense of connectedness, of purpose, and of mastery if there is a skill involved," Robinson said. "The great retirement trap is loneliness, and active social groups negate the possibility of that."

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Meditation may sharpen brain cognition

(UPI) Some look to coffee to sharpen their brain but U.S. researchers suggest a bit of meditation may help improve cognition…

"Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just four days of meditation training -- are really surprising," [post-doctoral researcher Fadel] Zeidan said in a statement. "It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation."

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Experts: Don't stretch before exercising

(AP) Want a better work-out? Then don't stretch beforehand, some experts say…

Traditional stretches, like when people bend over to touch their toes or stretch their legs on a fence, often cause the muscles to tighten rather than relax — exactly the opposite of what is needed for physical activity…

Instead of stretching, many experts recommend warming up with a light jog or sport-specific exercise, like kicking for football or a few serves for tennis. That type of light movement increases the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles, warming up the body temperature.

"This allows you to approach your full range of motion, but in a very controlled way," said Dr. Anders Cohen.

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Top Antiaging Foods from Around the World

(RealAge.com) From exotic juices to cans of cocktail peanuts, more and more edibles in the supermarket are being dubbed "antiaging" by some marketer or media pundit. The real deal about munchies that keep you youthful? They come from the earth, not a vacuum pack…

Take a look at what the longest-lived people in the world are eating (if you know us, this list will look familiar, but with a few twists). Then, put their favorites on your own table.

Costa Rica: Beans for Breakfast…

Nova Scotia: Wild Blueberry "Grunt"…

France: Wine…

Greece: Lots of Veggies, Little Meat…

Japan: Tofu

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The "Do Nothing" Way to Burn More Calories

(RealAge.com) Want to burn a few extra calories today without even trying? Brew yourself a cup of tea.

It's inexpensive, calorie free, and full of amazing-for-your-body antioxidants. And you may burn more fat and calories just by drinking it, according to Elizabeth Somer, registered dietician and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness

Compounds in tea called catechins may help turn up the dial on your metabolism, increasing how many calories you burn as you go about your day. It's a modest effect, but every little bit helps in the battle of the bulge. Just how much help does tea offer? According to Somer, a few cups of tea a day could help you burn up to 80 extra calories. (White tea may help shrink fat cells. Here's more on this.)…

Some research also suggests that tea drinking could help calm appetite and curb food intake -- possibly due to tea's combination of caffeine and a special catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). And if that doesn't make you a tea lover, here are a few more amazing things this brew can do for you:

Soothe your knees. Find out why green tea is so great for achy knees.

Improve your blood sugar. Here's why black tea might be best for this job.

Lengthen your life. Discover how regular tea drinking affects your risk of stroke.

Did you know? Green tea can help revive aging skin cells, too.

Source

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Use This Veggie to Safeguard Your Liver

(RealAge.com) Environmental toxins are often bad news for your liver. But you could safeguard your health by eating spinach.

Chlorophyll and chlorophyllin, two substances found in spinach and other leafy greens, may help reduce the body's absorption of aflatoxin, a common but potentially harmful type of environmental toxin…

Researchers believe chlorophyll and chlorophyllin may form some sort of beneficial bond with aflatoxin that reduces intestinal absorption. In addition to spinach, other good sources of chlorophyll include broccoli, parsley, green beans, kale, arugula, and leeks…

Did you know? Just one extra serving of veggies a day could lower your risk of cancer.

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A Spotlight on Spinach

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Though not guaranteed to give you super strength, spinach is rich in many nutrients, including beta-carotene, iron, magnesium, and vitamin K… A versatile vegetable, spinach can be tossed in a salad, sautéed in a stir-fry, used as a filling for omelets, or mixed with other ingredients to create a flavorful dip.

Buying Spinach
Fresh spinach can be purchased loose or in bags. Spinach that is sold in bags is usually pre-washed, making it convenient for preparing quick meals. If you choose to buy spinach loose, choose fresh green, undamaged leaves and avoid those with yellow or dark spots, wilted parts, or a sour smell. Leaves with thinner stems (typically sold as baby spinach) will usually be sweeter tasting and more tender.

Storing Spinach
Spinach can be stored in its original bag in the refrigerator for three to four days. Avoid washing spinach before storing it as the moisture can cause it to spoil quicker. If you have leftover cooked spinach, cover it well and use the next day in an omelet.

Preparing Spinach
Loose spinach should be washed thoroughly because the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. In order to clean properly, drop spinach leaves in a colander and rinse with cold water, tossing gently with your hands. Then spin the leaves in a salad spinner or dry them with a paper towel. If you are planning to cook the spinach, you do not have to dry the leaves as the water will help cook them. Do cut overly thick stems for more even cooking, however. Boiling spinach for one minute before using in a salad can help reduce the oxalic acid in it, resulting in a sweeter taste. While spinach makes a delicious salad base, some of its nutrients are better absorbed when cooked. So be sure to use it both ways. Consider serving spinach with chopped hard-boiled egg, crumbled turkey bacon, and vinaigrette for a salad; steamed or sautéed with garlic and extra-virgin olive oil as a side dish; or as part of a stir-fry made with skinless chicken breast or lean beef and other vegetables such as mushrooms.

Source

Community: We buy the younger spinach when it’s on sale, otherwise we buy the cheaper curly spinach. We both eat a spinach salad every day.

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MyRecipes.com

Chicken Carne Asada Tacos with Pickled Onions
We replaced beef with seasoned chicken for a fresh take on this traditional Mexican dish.

12 Breakfasts Under 250 Calories
Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast recipe that fills you up but still lets you fit into your skinny jeans.

Drink Your Way to Health
Replace those empty-calorie, sugary sodas with these ten healthy summer sippers and let summertime drinking improve your health.

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Banning Trans Fats Would Save Lives, Say Doctors

(Science Daily) Banning trans fats from all foods in the UK would prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths every year, and would be a simple way to protect the public and save lives, say two senior doctors…

Trans fats (also known as trans fatty acids) are solid fats found in margarines, biscuits, cakes, and fast food. Many studies demonstrate harmful effects of trans fats on cardiovascular risk factors.

Read more.

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B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease

(HealthDay News) People who eat a diet high in B-vitamins are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, say Japanese researchers…

The study found that women who ate more foods with the B-vitamins folate and B-6 were less likely to die from stroke and heart disease, while men who ate a diet high in these B-vitamins were less likely to die of heart failure.

Vitamin B-12 intake was not associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease…

Fish, liver, meats, whole grains and fortified cereals are sources of vitamin B-6, while vegetables and fruits, whole or enriched grains, fortified cereals, beans and legumes are sources of folate.

Read more.

Community: I started taking a B vitamin supplement about eight months ago, and for about six months I had more “senior moments” than I’d had previously. I almost stopped taking it. Now, though, my memory seems to be a lot better than it was before I started taking the supplement.

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Protein May Help Control Weight

(HealthDay News) Even on a high-fat diet, mice that lack a protein involved in the response to low levels of oxygen stay lean and healthy, says a new study.

The protein, called FIH, could offer a new target for drugs to help control weight, according to the University of California, San Diego researchers.

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Molecular Pathways That Slow Aging, Improve Health

(Science Daily) In a review article…, nutrition and longevity researchers … report that calorie restriction influences the same handful of molecular pathways related to aging in all the animals that have been studied.

Aware of the profound influence of calorie restriction on animals, some people have cut their calorie intake by 25 percent or more in hopes of lengthening lifespan. But first author Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, is less interested in calorie restriction for longer life than in its ability to promote good health throughout life…

Unfortunately, many humans are moving in the opposite direction. As obesity reaches epidemic rates in Western countries, Fontana says rather than closing the 30-year gap between healthspan and lifespan, the gap is likely to grow. It's even possible lifespan may decrease as people develop preventable diseases such as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

Those growing rates of obesity are a reason some scientists think calorie restriction will never catch on, regardless of its potential benefits. But, Fontana says, if researchers who study nutrition and aging can understand how calorie restriction lengthens life and makes people healthier, it may be possible to develop less drastic interventions or medicines that influence pathways affected by calorie restriction and help keep people healthy as they get older.

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Age-Related Nerve Decline Is Associated With Inflammation

(Science Daily) New research investigating neurological decline in a population of "super healthy" elderly subjects found that the decline in neurological function of the peripheral nervous system attributed to aging may be related to metabolic factors, such as blood sugar levels, even if these factors are within the normal range…

The findings imply, the researchers say, that age-related declines in peripheral nerve function may not be the consequence of the aging process alone but instead the consequence of aging, gender, plus metabolic factors that may be modifiable…

"An important next step is to test whether modification of risk factors like inflammation has an impact on nerve function," [Ari Green, MD, co-lead investigator] said.

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Do Statins Lower Male Sex Drive?

(HealthDay News) An Italian study of men being treated for erectile dysfunction finds an association between the use of cholesterol-lowering statins and abnormally low levels of the male hormone testosterone…

But an American epidemiologist who did a similar study said the Italian results could be interpreted as saying that statin use reduces the incidence of erectile dysfunction.

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Most People Unaware They've Had a Minor Stroke

(HealthDay News) Many people who have either a minor stroke or so-called mini-stroke aren't aware of it or don't seek medical treatment for more than 24 hours afterwards, finds a new study…

A TIA -- often called by the misnomer "mini-stroke" -- occurs when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery and blocks blood flow to the brain. A minor stroke can cause symptoms that include unexpected trouble speaking, as well as vertigo, balance problems, and temporary weakness or numbness of an arm or leg.

While TIAs and minor strokes don't typically cause permanent brain damage, early treatment of these conditions reduces the risk of a more serious stroke.

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Slobbery Kisses from 'Man's Best Friend' Aid Cancer Research

(Science Daily) Fido's wet licks might hold more than love. They could provide the DNA keys to findings new treatments for rare cancers and other diseases in both dogs and human patients…

Using voluntarily donated saliva, blood and tumor samples from many breeds of privately owned dogs, researchers hope that by studying canine cancers they can pinpoint the causes of human cancers. The goal is to translate that knowledge into therapeutics useful to both veterinarians and clinical oncologists.

No dogs will be harmed and many should be helped. Nearly half of all dogs 10 years and older die from cancer. Dogs will be treated as patients at veterinary clinics nationwide. The research is endorsed by the American Kennel Club and by the Morris Animal Foundation. Samples will be gathered with the consent of owners and veterinarians.

In addition to cancer, TGen and VARI eventually will study neurological and behavioral disorders as well as hearing loss and other debilitative conditions in dogs that could relate to people.

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Multitasking Has Its Limits

(HealthDay News) For those who think they can juggle several tasks at once with ease, new research from France suggests that humans may not be able to perform more than two complicated jobs at one time…

The reason: The human brain has two lobes that divide the responsibility equally when two tasks are being carried out at the same time.

"Three-tasking [overwhelms] the capacity of human frontal function. Dual-tasking is alright," explained study co-author Etienne Koechlin.

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Brain Area That May Delay Need for Gratification Found


(HealthDay News) A brain circuit that may govern the ability to resist instant gratification to achieve long-term benefit has been pinpointed by German researchers…
"Taken together, our results reveal that vividly imagining the future reduced impulsive choice. Our data suggests that the ACC, based on episodic predictions involving the hippocampus, supports the dynamic adjustment of preference functions that enable us to make choices that maximize future payoffs," [study author Dr. Jan] Peters said.
Community: That’s all well and good, but the most important thing is to train ourselves to resist the instant gratification impulse. It take work, but it can be done.
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Safer Patients Mean Fewer Malpractice Suits

(HealthDay News) A decrease in preventable patient injuries in California hospitals from 2001 to 2005 coincided with a drop in malpractice suits against doctors, a new study has found.

"These findings suggest that putting a greater focus on improving safety performance in health care settings could benefit medical providers as well as patients," lead author Michael Greenberg … said in a news release.

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Community: Now that’s the ultimate in tort reform—fewer torts.

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An Insurer’s New Approach to Diabetes

(New York Times) Rather than simply continuing to pay ever-higher medical claims to care for its diabetic customers, UnitedHealth [Group] is paying the Y.M.C.A. and pharmacists to keep people healthier. The result, they hope, will be lower costs and lower premiums for everyone.

The insurer will announce on Wednesday that it will work with Y “lifestyle coaches” in seven cities to help people who are at risk for diabetes lower their odds of developing the disease by losing just a modest amount of weight. The Y already offers a program that has had success in clinical tests of such efforts, in 16-week programs that help people learn to eat better and exercise.

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Treat yourself to a spring tune-up — and save 25%

(Harvard HEALTHbeat) Spring is the perfect time to get in shape for the coming months. These Harvard Special Health Reports can help you give your skin the tender, loving care it deserves; prepare your feet for outdoor walks and revealing sandals; and deal with the annual scourge of spring allergies. It's time to treat yourself and your body to a Spring Tune-Up, and enjoy 25% savings to boot! [Enter the Promo Code SPRING25 at checkout.]

In our report Skin Care and Repair you'll discover:

  • How to treat common skin conditions
  • Which lotions and potions work — and which to avoid
  • How to prevent — and detect — skin cancer
  • The best skin rejuvenation procedures
Our report, Foot Care Basics: Preventing and treating common foot conditions, will help you put the spring back in your step, with helpful information like:

  • How to heal heels that hurt
  • Treating tormented toes
  • How to handle foot injuries
  • Fixing falling arches and flat feet
  • Treating foot pain
[In the] report, What to do about Allergies, we'll reveal:

  • Why you are allergic
  • How to pinpoint your allergic triggers
  • The latest in the changing world of allergy treatments
  • How to control common allergic conditions — from dermatitis to food allergies to asthma and more

Read more.

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Depression and Smoking Go Hand in Hand in U.S.

(HealthDay News) The link between depression and smoking, long observed by health-care experts, is real and strong, a new government report shows.

People aged 20 and older with depression are twice as likely as others to be cigarette smokers, the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. And as the severity of depression increased, so did the number of smokers…

Exactly why depressed people tend to smoke more was beyond the scope of the study, [researcher Laura] Pratt said, but some research has suggested they might be self-medicating, with the cigarettes somehow acting as a calming or relaxing mechanism.

Read more.

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Panic Disorder and Depression Can Be Treated Over the Internet, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) via the internet is just as effective in treating panic disorder (recurring panic attacks) as traditional group-based CBT. It is also efficacious in the treatment of mild and moderate depression. This according to a new doctoral thesis…

"Internet-based CBT is also more cost-effective than group therapy," says Jan Bergström, psychologist and doctoral student at the Center for Psychiatry Research. "The results therefore support the introduction of Internet treatment into regular psychiatry, which is also what the National Board of Health and Welfare recommends in its new guidelines for the treatment of depression and anxiety."

Read more.

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Study Explores Possibility of a Female Viagra

(HealthDay News) New research might be bringing science a bit closer to a female version of Viagra.

In a study that explored the underlying processes of female sexual arousal, British-based researchers say they have learned more about how new treatments might be developed to help women with sexual arousal disorder…

"Before this work, we knew surprisingly little about the processes that control all of these changes," lead researcher Chris Wayman said in the news release. "Now [that] we are beginning to establish the pathways involved in sexual arousal, scientists may be able to find ways of helping women who would like to overcome FSAD [female sexual arousal disorder]."

Women with FSAD find arousal difficult and their genital organs don't respond to sexual stimulation. The condition affects up to 40 percent of women of all ages, the study authors said.

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Soda drinking down more than 20 percent

(UPI) Per capita consumption of soda dropped more than 20 percent in the past 12 years in the United States, a non-profit advocacy group says…

"The recognition that soda pop promotes weight gain and disease is gaining traction, contributing to the steady decline in soda consumption," Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says in a statement.

"Ten years from now, it would be great to see that Americans are drinking a can and a half a week, instead of a can and a half a day."

Read more.

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Trend to lower salt can affect taste

(UPI) One of the newest healthier food trends is low-sodium or no-salt foods but consumers often complain the food has no taste, a U.S. report says…

Seventy-five percent of the salt in a U.S. consumer's diet comes in the form of processed foods, beverages and food purchased in restaurants.

The recommended daily intake for sodium is 2,300 milligrams per day -- about one teaspoon of salt -- but the average U.S. consumer eats an estimated 3,800 mg of sodium daily, while those on a steady diet of fast-food or processed food can consume 10,000 mg of salt a day…

Some food manufacturers are quietly reducing sodium levels, while some companies boldly display reduced or low-sodium content, the report says.

Read more.

Community: Our tastes have a lot to do with what we’re used to. And taste can change. After drinking skim milk for six to eight months now, I have no desire to go back to milk with fat in it. And fruit tastes better when I’m not stuffing myself with foods made with refined sugar.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Budget Cooking: Feed 4 for $10
Cooking on a budget? Don't skimp on nutrition! You'll feel good about feeding your family these creatively delectable recipes.

Peppery Pasta with Shrimp
Bistro Braised Chicken
Pork Tenderloin, Pear, and Cranberry Salad

Season's Best: Artichokes
Fresh artichokes are available year-round but at peak season in early spring. Find out our Food Editor's favorite recipes.

Dinner Tonight: Pasta
What's quicker than pasta? These simple dinners come together in a flash.

MyRecipes.com:

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi
Sautéed asparagus makes a fine accompaniment.

New York Times:

Quick Sweet and Sour Cucumber Pickles
These cucumbers, marinated in seasoned rice vinegar, are great on sandwiches and go well with fish.

Marinated Beets
Perfect for healthy snacks, these beets will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

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Study Offers Insights Into Male Pattern Baldness

(HealthDay News) Researchers are reporting that they've linked a gene to a rare condition that makes people develop thin "peach fuzz" hair, potentially paving the way toward greater insight into male-pattern baldness.

The finding won't immediately lead to a better treatment or cure, said Angela M. Christiano, co-author of the study… And though it's "just a tiny little piece of the puzzle," it could provide perspective about a component of male-pattern baldness known as shrinkage, said Christiano…

Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist in New York City, said that about half of people older than 50 have hair loss. "It can be debilitating, especially to women, who have fewer options for treatment," Day said.

Drugs such as Rogaine and Propecia treat baldness, but they do so by preventing future hair loss rather than growing new hair, Christiano said.

Also, Day said, the medications have side effects. "Most of the drugs block hormones or enzymes," she said. "However, they are not specific to the scalp so side effects can include decreased libido as well as potential damage to the liver."

"The medications need to be taken indefinitely in order to remain effective," she said, "and for some people, the medications do not adequately control the hair loss."

A gene-based treatment, by contrast, might allow hair to grow normally. And understanding the genetic basis of baldness could help researchers find better treatments for other conditions, such as alopecia, which causes hair loss, Christiano said, adding that she has alopecia.

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