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

3 Tips for Happiness Gift-Giving

(Blue Zones) Research shows that the "newness" of a new thing wears off in 9-14 months, but the luster of an experience grows with time. So, when buying gifts this holiday season, consider the following:
1. For your friends
Cooking Classes, Massage, Yoga Lessons — Pursuing a hobby, moving naturally AND sharing it with your friends--that's a huge happiness boost!
2. For your loved ones
A Vacation, a Pride Shrine — Build lasting memories or create a display of favorite memories to give someone special a daily dose of joy.
3. For your children
Art or Music Classes, Rock Climbing Lessons, a Puppy! — Developing a long lasting interest in art or a hobby yields long-term well-being benefits. And giving a puppy, while creating stress at first, will bring calm and long-term happiness to your home, not to mention the added physical activity you'll enjoy!
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30 Million Americans Admit They Drive Drunk

(WebMD Health News) About 30 million Americans a year admit to driving while drunk, and 10 million more say they get behind the wheel when under the influence of illicit drugs, according to new federal research…
“Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, says in a news release. “Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement, and public outreach efforts.”
Still, she says, the nation “must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way.”
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Surgeon General: No Amount of Smoking Is Safe

(WebMD Health News) Even a single cigarette poses health risks.
That’s the latest conclusion from the U.S. surgeon general in a new report on the health effects of smoking.
The report, released Thursday, suggests for the first time that even small amounts of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke can have health consequences, particularly in people with pre-existing disease.
“This report concludes that damage from tobacco smoke is immediate,” said U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD.
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Experts: Exercise Crucial for Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

(WebMD Health News) New guidelines jointly issued by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association call for people with type 2 diabetes to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise over the course of at least three days during the week, and not to skip more than two days of exercising.
Strength training, using weights to develop muscle mass, is also important in diabetes management. Resistance training should be part of a diabetes patient’s exercise regimen, according to the new guidelines, which are published in the December issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Exercise is critical to reducing the risk of diabetes, as well as helping people with diabetes improve insulin and blood sugar production. Exercise may also improve a diabetes patient’s lipid profile, such as lowering the levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood, and also lead to losing weight.
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Weight Gain Seems to Change the Brain's Response to Food

(HealthDay News) Most people probably find drinking a milkshake a pleasurable experience, sometimes highly so. But apparently that's less apt to be the case among those who are overweight or obese.
Overeating, it seems, dims the neurological response to the consumption of yummy foods such as milkshakes, a new study suggests. That response is generated in the caudate nucleus of the brain, a region involved with reward…
"The decrease in caudate response doesn't precede weight gain, it follows it," Small said. "That suggests the decreased caudate response is a consequence, rather than a cause, of overeating."
Community: Here’s more evidence that, just as I’ve been saying, overeating is an addiction. We’ll never be able to address the problem of obesity in any constructive way until we start treating the addiction.
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Be a Healthy Holiday Hostess
Give your guests the gift of good health by offering healthy alternatives at your holiday gathering
Healthy Holiday Meals
Whatever your holiday occasion, from a post-caroling gathering to the main Christmas dinner, these healthy recipes provide loads of flavor and nutrients
Healthy Holiday Desserts
Desserts are not off-limits when you make these lightened versions of holiday favorites.
Easy Holiday Recipes, Menus & More
Everything you need for delicious holiday celebrations.
7 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining
Find out how to throw a party you and your guests can all enjoy.
5 Secrets for Baking Healthier Cookies
We love holiday cookies. That’s why every year we ask our readers to enter their best recipes for healthier cookies in our Annual Holiday Cookie Contest. How can you make your favorite cookies healthier? Here are 5 secrets for baking healthier cookies from EatingWell readers and our Test Kitchen bakers. Happy baking!
No-Cook Appetizers
Keep party prep simple with these assemble-and-serve bites.
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Get Cooking With Barley

(SouthBeachDiet.com) You already know that whole-grain foods like brown rice and whole-wheat bread and pasta are beneficial for shedding pounds and staying healthy, but if you’re eating the same ones over and over you could end up in a food rut. One overlooked grain you may want to try is barley. This versatile grain has more overall nutritional value than rice or wheat, and hulled barley is a particularly rich source of dietary fiber and B vitamins.
Buying Barley
The two most common types of barley are refined pearl barley and unrefined hulled barley. As with refined flour, pearl barley loses its outer hull and bran layer when milled, exposing the pearl-colored balls that give "pearl barley" its name. Unfortunately, this process also removes much of the grain's nutritional content. "Hulled" barley, on the other hand, has only the outer hull removed and therefore still has its nutritious bran layer intact, making it an excellent source of dietary fiber. It's also rich in iron and thiamin, as well as some essential trace minerals. While pearl barley is readily available at most grocery stores, you may have to look in health-food or specialty-food stores to locate the more nutritious hulled barley. Scotch barley, also known as pot barley, is also available in many supermarkets; it’s a less refined version than pearl, with part of the bran layer remaining after milling.
Storing Barley
Barley, hulled or pearl, should be stored in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated or frozen for up to six months. Barley should remain dry and have a fresh smell.
Preparing Barley 
Barley can be added to soups, stews, salads, and even baked goods. It's cooked much like rice; cooking times will vary according to the variety. Hulled barley requires about 1 ½ to 2 hours to cook in boiling water, whereas pearl barley takes only 45 minutes to cook. For best results, follow the instructions on the package.
Community: Whole Foods carries hulled barley in its bulk foods section, making it much cheaper than the packaged kind. I eat a combination of hulled barley and steel cut oats for breakfast. Because of the cooking time, I put them to soak overnight in twice the volume of water to the volume of cereal. Then cooking time is only five minutes in the microwave at half power.
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Zen Meditation Can Help Bring Pain Under Control

(HealthDay News) People who engage in Zen meditation do feel pain, new research reveals, but they don't think about it as much…
"Our previous research found that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity," said senior author [Pierre] Rainville in a news release from the journal. "The aim of the current study was to determine how they are achieving this."
"Using functional magnetic resonance imaging [MRI], we demonstrated that although the meditators were aware of the pain, this sensation wasn't processed in the part of their brains responsible for appraisal, reasoning or memory formation," Rainville noted. "We think that they feel the sensations, but cut the process short, refraining from interpretation or labeling of the stimuli as painful."
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Home monitors can aid blood pressure control

(Reuters Health) Home blood pressure monitors can help people keep their blood pressure in check and possibly cut down on medication -- as long as the patients and their doctors put those home readings to good use, a new research review finds.
The analysis, of 37 international clinical trials, found that on average, adults with high blood pressure who were assigned to use home monitors shaved a few points off their blood pressure compared with counterparts who stuck with doctor's office measurements alone.
The home monitor users were also twice as likely to reduce the number of blood pressure medications they needed.
Researchers say the findings, reported in the journal Hypertension, should encourage people with high blood pressure to invest in a home monitor. The devices generally range in cost from about $25 to more than $100, depending on the features.
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Certain Drug Combinations May Beat Back Aggressive Breast Cancer

(HealthDay News) Combinations of targeted therapies for an especially aggressive type of breast cancer could potentially usher the majority of affected patients into remission, researchers at a major breast cancer meeting said Friday…
Given to patients several weeks before cancer surgery, with or without chemotherapy, the medications often shrank tumors dramatically or eradicated them altogether, the researchers said.
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Many elderly have preventable eye problems

(Reuters Health) A large fraction of elderly people have age-related degenerative changes in their eyes that put them on a path to blindness -- but could be preventable - a new study finds.
Eye exams given to more than 5,000 elderly Icelanders found that over one in 10 people in their 60s and nearly one in four in their late 70s have an early form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness…
There is no cure for AMD, but a U.S. government clinical trial has found that a specific high-dose mix of antioxidants -- vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc -- can slow the progression of AMD that is in the intermediate stages, and doctors now commonly prescribe it for such patients.
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Doctors Don't Need to Fear Red Heads

(Science Daily) A study … confirms that there is no need for doctors to fear red heads.
The research concludes that, contrary to popular belief, people with red hair do not bleed any more than other patients…
[Jonathan] Barry and colleagues say that there have been anecdotal reports about the clinical behaviour of red heads with claims of increased bleeding.
However, in their review of existing scientific literature on this issue, they found no robust evidence to support these anecdotes.
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Study: First impression has lasting impact

(UPI) A study of U.S. medical students evaluating professors supports the conventional notion that first impressions tend to be lasting, researchers say…
"Students tended not to change their scores and comments, regardless of the time they submitted their evaluations," the researchers say in a statement. "Hence, first impressions appear to be important."
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Stress Less During the Holidays

(SouthBeachDiet.com) While the holiday season can bring plenty of joy — it can also mean the chaos and stress of last-minute shopping, multiple parties, and gatherings you're hosting for friends and family. What you may not realize is that this kind of stress, if not dealt with, can eventually contribute to the development of numerous illnesses, including chronic headaches and migraines, depression, and heart disease, as well as interfere with your weight-loss goals… Reduce stress now with these easy ideas:
Eat a balanced diet. Choosing … nutrient-dense fare … benefits both your body and your mind. Eating the right foods should minimize cravings, which will help you feel better.
Stay active. When you exercise, the brain releases multiple mood-enhancing chemicals that can help relieve the effects of stress. Aim for 20 minutes of exercise that incorporates aerobic interval training most days of the week.
Get enough sleep. When the body is well rested, it is better able to cope with stressful situations and emotions. While sleep needs vary, most adults require 7 to 9 hours to feel adequately rested. Even with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, aim to get a consistent amount of shut-eye.
Practice relaxation or meditation. Spend a dedicated amount of time each day stretching or breathing with no distractions or interruptions. This can help you collect your thoughts while promoting an overall sense of well-being.
Manage your to-do list. Chances are you can't make every party or visit with every relative this holiday season. Determine your priorities and learn to say no to some engagements.
Make time for yourself. Try to get a little peace and quiet at some point each day. Whether you take a warm bath, read a magazine, or watch TV, make sure this time is free from distractions.
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Best Way to Stay Healthy? Call In Sick

(RealAge.com) Next time you get a sore throat and sniffles, here's what you need to do to avoid can't-get-out-of-bed misery later: stay home…
In a study, people who came to work sick at least six times within the previous year were 50 percent more likely to need extended sick leave later on -- as much as two or more weeks off within the next 18 months. Why is punching the clock when you're sick so bad? Researchers speculate that when people don't take time to rest and recuperate, the body gets more and more run down -- to the point where it can't keep a little illness from ballooning into big trouble. (Baby your cold or flu with these home remedies that really work.)
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Mental Imagery a New Weight-Loss Tool?

(HealthDay News) Researchers report that they may have hit on a new trick for weight loss: To eat less of a certain food, they suggest you envision yourself gobbling it up beforehand.
Repeatedly imagining the consumption of a food reduces one's appetite for it at that moment, said lead researcher Carey Morewedge…
"Most people think that imagining a food increases their desire for it and whets their appetite. Our findings show that it is not so simple," she said.
Thinking of a food -- how it tastes, smells or looks -- does increase our appetite. But performing the mental imagery of actually eating that food decreases our desire for it, Morewedge added.
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Try These Savory Seasonings for Your Heart

(RealAge.com) For years they've been the staples in holiday stuffing. Now it turns out they're pretty fantastic for your heart, too. The savories in question? Celery and thyme.
In a study, a powerful flavonoid found in celery and thyme appeared to hinder the production of compounds that trigger inflammation. Good news for your heart, because high bodywide levels of inflammation can open the door to heart disease…
[L]uteolin [is] the antioxidant compound found in celery and thyme. In fact, food is an excellent way to help combat excess inflammation in the body. Other foods that help fight inflammation include fish oil, nuts, pineapple (thanks to the bromelain), leafy greens rich in vitamin K, and herbs like thyme and oregano. Getting proper amounts of good sleep also may help quell cell-damaging inflammation. And controlling stress helps, too.
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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Light cheese and a flour-and-milk mixture keep this soup creamy but surprisingly low in fat. Make a batch and reheat throughout the week for effortless and satisfying meals.
Roast Salmon with Salsa
A simple fresh salsa, chopped to a pleasing texture in the food processor, is all you need to complement succulent roast salmon. This salsa is endlessly versatile, so try it with other fish, chicken breasts or on top of scrambled eggs.
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"Allergy tablets" cut hay fever symptoms safely

(Reuters Health) Under-the-tongue tablets may be a safe alternative to allergy shots for people who don't get enough relief for their itchy eyes and runny noses with standard drugs, according to scientists who reviewed 60 studies on the treatment…
"Sublingual immunotherapy seems to be as effective as other treatments such as antihistamines and nasal steroids," senior researcher Dr. Stephen Durham … said in an e-mail. "And it has the added value of long-term benefits after its discontinuation."
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Bone Drug Zometa Flops Overall as Breast Cancer Treatment

(HealthDay News) The bone drug zoledronic acid (Zometa), considered a potentially promising weapon against breast cancer recurrence, has flopped in a new study involving more than 3,360 patients.
Zometa did not appear to prevent breast cancer from returning or to boost disease-free survival overall…
"As a whole, the study is negative," study author Dr. Robert Coleman … said… "There is no overall difference in recurrence rates or survival rates [between patients who got the bone drug and those who did not], except in older patients, defined as more than five years after menopause."…
"In that population, there is a benefit," Coleman said. The older women had a 27 percent improvement in recurrence and a 29 percent improvement in overall survival over the five-year follow-up, compared to those who didn't get the drug.
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Living in Certain Neighborhoods Increases the Chances Older Men and Women Will Develop Cancer, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Older people who live in racially segregated neighborhoods with high crime rates have a much higher chance of developing cancer than do older people with similar health histories and income levels who live in safer, less segregated neighborhoods…
The chance of developing cancer is 31 percent higher for older men living in these kinds of neighborhoods, and 25 percent higher for older women.
The study also found that living in low-income neighborhoods increased the chances that older women would develop heart problems by 20 percent. They found no impact on older men.
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Stem Cells: A 'Stitch in Time' Could Help Damaged Hearts

(Science Daily) A research team … has demonstrated the feasibility of a novel technology that a surgeon could use to deliver stem cells to targeted areas ofthe body to repair diseased or damaged tissue, including cardiac muscle damaged by a heart attack. The technique involves bundling biopolymer microthreads into biological sutures and seeding the sutures with stem cells. The team has shown that the adult bone-marrow-derived stem cells will multiply while attached to the threads and retain their ability to differentiate and grow into other cell types…
[Glenn] Gaudette's team is already at work on the next steps in this line of research, testing the stem cell-seeded microthreads in a rat model to see if they can engraft into heart tissue and improve cardiac function.
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U.S. Life Expectancy Drops Slightly

(HealthDay News) Life expectancy dipped slightly in the United States from 2007 to 2008, according to a new federal report.
Life expectancy for Americans in general declined by a little more than one month, from 77.9 to 77.8 years. For women, the average life expectancy dropped by a tenth of one year, to 80.3 years; for men it also dropped by the same amount, to 75.3 years.
For the first time in 50 years, stroke was not the third-leading cause of death; it was overtaken by chronic lower respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The age-adjusted death rates for stroke dropped 3.8 percent from 2007 to 2008, while rates for chronic lower respiratory diseases rose 7.8 percent, according to the report, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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U.S. Failing to Meet Goals for Women's Health: Report

(HealthDay News) The United States has failed to reach almost every goal set for women's health, a new report says…
Since 2000, there has been some progress in reducing deaths from heart disease, stroke and breast and lung cancer. And, fewer women are smoking, the report found.
However, more women are obese and more suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, fewer women are getting Pap tests for cervical cancer, and the incidence of Chlamydia and binge drinking are on the increase, the report showed…
[Dr. Olveen] Carrasquillo noted that it is not surprising to see diabetes levels rising as obesity and lack of physical activity increase among women. That also accounts for the increases in blood pressure, he said.
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Only Half of Women Over 40 Get Annual Mammograms

(HealthDay News) Only 50 percent of women over age 40 in the United States get an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer, even if they have insurance to cover the procedure, a new study finds.
Researchers used a database of more than 12 million people to review medical claims filed between January 2006 and December 2009. All the women included in the study had either employer-provided insurance or Medicare.
The study found that only 50 percent of women ages 40 to 85 had a mammogram in any given year and only 60 percent had two or more mammograms over four years. The average annual mammography rates were 47 percent for women ages 40 to 49, 54 percent for women ages 50 to 64, and 45 percent for those 65 and older.
Community: Elizabeth Edwards didn’t get regular mammograms, and she just died of breast cancer at the ripe young age of 61.
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Walkable neighborhood improves life

(UPI) People who live in walkable communities not only get more exercise, they are more involved in civic life and trust one another more, U.S. researchers say.
Shannon Rogers and her research team at the University of New Hampshire says trust in neighbors and being more involved in the neighborhood -- "social capital" -- is associated with higher quality of life.
The ability to walk and have easy access to post offices, parks and playgrounds, coffee shops, restaurants, barbershops and club meeting venues has been linked to a higher quality of life -- including reduced isolation, career connections and neighborhood safety.
Community: Mr. Many Years Young is the one who walks our dog, and his discussions with neighbor dog owners are our main source of neighborhood news.
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Blueberries and Other Purple Fruits to Ward Off Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's

(Science Daily) Eating purple fruits such as blueberries and drinking green tea can help ward off diseases including Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's, a University of Manchester report claims.
New research from Professor Douglas Kell … has found that the majority of debilitating illnesses are in part caused by poorly-bound iron which causes the production of dangerous toxins that can react with the components of living systems.
These toxins, called hydroxyl radicals, cause degenerative diseases of many kinds in different parts of the body.
In order to protect the body from these dangerous varieties of poorly-bound iron, it is vital to take on nutrients, known as iron chelators, which can bind the iron tightly.
Brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of chelators, as is green tea, with purple fruits considered to have the best chance of binding the iron effectively .
However, despite conflicting reports, the widely-publicised benefits of red wine seem to work in a different way, and have no similar benefits, Professor Kell's paper noted.
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Certain Formulations of Omega-3s Might Help With Depression

(HealthDay News) Omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate depression but only when a particular type of fatty acid called DHA is used in the right ratio with another fatty acid known as EPA, a new study suggests.
The researchers … found that when used by itself, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) alone did not seem to offer any benefit. However, DHA combined with a rather high dose of EPA (eicosapentenoic acid) did improve depressive symptoms.
"Preparations with some EPA had some consistent antidepressant effects, while preparations of pure DHA had no antidepressant effects," said lead study author Dr. John Davis…
[U]nknown is whether depressed individuals could use a DHA/EPA combination instead of standard antidepressant medications or if it could or should be used to augment other medications, said Edythe London…
London cautioned that depressed individuals should certainly not rely on fish oil supplements alone.
Community: But there may not be a need to rely on medication. Dr. Stephen Ilardi has given us a number of tips on reducing the symptoms of depression.
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Are Depressed People Too Clean?

(Science Daily) In an effort to pinpoint potential triggers leading to inflammatory responses that eventually contribute to depression, researchers are taking a close look at the immune system of people living in today's cleaner modern society…
[Explains neuroscientist Charles Raison, MD,] "Since ancient times benign microorganisms, some times referred to as 'old friends,' have taught the immune system how to tolerate other harmless microorganisms, and in the process, reduce inflammatory responses that have been linked to the development of most modern illnesses, from cancer to depression."
Experiments are currently being conducted to test the efficacy of treatments that use properties of these "old friends" to improve emotional tolerance. 
Community: There’s even a bacterium in soil that by itself may be a mood booster.
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Mindfulness-Based Therapy Helps Prevent Depression Relapse

(Science Daily) Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy appears to be similar to maintenance antidepressant medication for preventing relapse or recurrence among patients successfully treated for depression, according to a report…
In this therapy, patients learn to monitor and observe their thinking patterns when they feel sad, changing automatic reactions associated with depression (such as rumination and avoidance) into opportunities for useful reflection. "This is accomplished through daily homework exercises featuring (1) guided (taped) awareness exercises directed at increasing moment-by-moment nonjudgmental awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings; (2) accepting difficulties with a stance of self-compassion; and (3) developing an 'action plan' composed of strategies for responding to early warning signs of relapse/recurrence," the authors write…
It is unclear exactly how mindfulness-based therapy works, but it may change neural pathways to support patterns that lead to recovery instead of to deeper depression, they note.
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Cooking Light:
The Best Healthy Holiday Foods (video)
Stick with these healthy foods during the holidays to assure you're making the best choices.
Recipe Makeover: Holiday Classics (video)
We lightened eight seasonal favorites for a good-for-you holiday spread.
Spicy Chicken Quesadillas
Fresh herbs and pickled jalapeños brighten up these simple quesadillas. Serve with a tossed green salad and a side of black beans to round out the meal.
Wok-Seared Chicken & Vegetables (Kadhai murghi)
This colorful stir-fry combines green bell pepper, orange carrots and red onion along with spice-coated chicken for a delicious result. The cooking happens quickly, so it's a good idea to measure out and prepare all the ingredients in the recipe before you fire up the wok. Enjoy the smoky aromas that emanate from the pan and the combination of spices that titillate the taste buds.
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Low and High Vitamin D Levels in Older Women Associated With Increased Likelihood of Frailty

(Science Daily) A recent study … found that lower and higher vitamin D levels were associated with an increased likelihood of frailty in older women. Women with vitamin D levels between 20.0 and 29.9 ng/ml were at the lowest risk of frailty…
"Evidence is lacking to support use of vitamin D supplementation for prevention of frailty and other outcomes including cancer or all-cause mortality," said [Kristine Ensrud, MD]. "Our results indicate that well-designed large randomized trials of sufficient duration are needed to accurately quantify health effects of vitamin D supplementation, including whether or not supplementation reduces the incidence or progression of frailty in older adults."
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Cranberry Juice Not Effective Against Urinary Tract Infections, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Drinking cranberry juice has been recommended to decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections, based on observational studies and a few small clinical trials. However, a new study … suggests otherwise.
College-aged women who tested positive for having a urinary tract infection were assigned to drink eight ounces of cranberry juice or a placebo twice a day for either six months or until a recurrence of a urinary tract infection, whichever happened first. Of the participants who suffered a second urinary tract infection, the cranberry juice drinkers had a recurrence rate of almost 20 percent, while those who drank the placebo suffered only a 14 percent recurrence.
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Weight-Lifting After Breast Cancer Won't Cause Lymphedema, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) Contrary to conventional wisdom, lifting weights doesn't cause breast cancer survivors to develop the painful, arm-swelling condition known as lymphedema, new research suggests.
There's a hint that weight-lifting might even help prevent lymphedema, but more research is needed to say that for sure, the researchers said.
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Accurate Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer With Ultrasound

(Science Daily) Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men, but its diagnosis has up to now been inaccurate and unpleasant. Researchers … have developed an imaging technology that can accurately identify tumors. The technology is based on ultrasound, and also has the potential to assess how aggressive tumors are. This can lead to better and more appropriate treatment, and to cost savings in health care…
The new technology uses the injection of microbubbles of a contrast agent with no side-effects. The response of the tiny bubbles to ultrasound is different from that of human tissue or blood. This makes the bubbles traceable from the outside, right into the smallest blood vessels. The pattern of blood vessels in tumors is different from that in healthy tissue. The researchers can recognize this pattern from advanced analysis of the bubble concentrations…
Next year the research team will carry out a pilot with biopsies guided by images made using the new technology. This allows the biopsies to be targeted, and therefore more effective. In a later phase the ultrasound technology will be used to decide whether biopsies are required, which will reduce the number of biopsies carried out.
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Music may soothe stress in critically ill patients

(Reuters Health) Listening to music appears to have a calming effect on hospital patients hooked up to breathing machines, according to a new report.
Mechanical ventilation can be a distressing experience for critically ill patients, but researchers say tranquilizers will only prolong their hospital stay…
While the reason music works is still unclear, [Dr. Joke] Bradt said in an e-mail to Reuters Health, it might provide a distraction, or somehow communicate with the brain regions responsible for emotional regulation.
This is not the first study to show that people in difficult circumstances may feel better after turning on the stereo.
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Sex, Race, Place of Residence Influence High Blood Pressure Incidence

(Science Daily) High blood pressure may help to explain why deaths from heart disease and stroke vary according to geography, race and sex, researchers reported…
Between 1968 and 2006, deaths from heart disease and stroke fell an impressive 65 percent, but everyone didn't share equally in the positive trend, she said. Cardiovascular deaths are still higher in the southeastern United States, in blacks compared with whites, and in men compared with women.
"The gaps may be widening, particularly for blacks," [Deborah A. Levine, M.D., M.P.H., lead study author,] said. "The reasons for the variations are not clear, so we examined whether high blood pressure might help to explain it."…
More research is needed to understand the geographic and racial differences in high blood pressure documented in this study as well as the potential biological, environmental and genetic mechanisms, Levine said. "In the meantime, people at higher risk can benefit from close monitoring of their blood pressure and paying attention to risk factors such as obesity and physical activity."
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Parkinson's Drug Could Treat Restless Leg Syndrome, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) A drug prescribed for Parkinson's disease may also treat restless leg syndrome without the adverse side effects of current therapies, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.
Rasagaline works by prolonging the effect of dopamine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells in the brain. The cause of RLS is unknown, but research suggests a dopamine imbalance. Parkinson's is caused by a dopamine insufficiency.
"The hope is that Rasagaline, because it prolongs the effect of existing dopamine, instead of producing more, will not come with adverse side effects," said Dr. Shyamal Mehta.
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FDA cannot block e-cigarette imports: court

(Reuters) The Food and Drug Administration can only regulate "e-cigarettes" as tobacco products and not as drugs, and thus cannot block their import, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Tuesday.
The ruling by three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit infuriated tobacco activist groups and will allow e-cigarette maker Sottera Inc. to start importing its NJOY products…
Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products -- but not to ban them -- in 2009.
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Food-safety overhaul rides on funding bill

(Reuters) The biggest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades took a major step toward becoming law on Wednesday when House Democratic leaders folded it into a must-pass bill to fund the U.S. government.
The House passed the spending bill on Wednesday and the Senate was expected to consider it over the next few days as lawmakers push to complete their legislative session by the end of next week.
The food-safety legislation would give the government the power to order a food recall and would require foodmakers to write a plan to prevent in-plant contamination. Processing plants would be inspected more frequently. The bill covers processed foods, fruit and vegetables but not meat.
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Senate acts to stop Medicare doctors pay cut

(Reuters) The Senate on Wednesday agreed to avert a 25 percent pay cut for doctors treating patients covered by the Medicare health program for the elderly.
On a voice vote, the Senate approved a one-year "fix" to the doctor's payment formula that would stop a scheduled cut in physicians pay in January that advocates for the elderly said would have made it harder for Medicare patients to get medical care.
The measure now goes to the House of Representatives for anticipated final approval, which would clear the way for President Barack Obama to sign it into law.
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Friends May Be Key to Churchgoers' Happiness

(HealthDay News) Regular churchgoers may lead more satisfying lives than stay-at-home folks because they create a network of close friends who provide important support, a new study suggests…
[T]he researchers found that 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they are "extremely satisfied" with life as opposed to only 20 percent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found.
Regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church, according to the research.
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Strategies to Strengthen Your Immune System

(Mother Earth News) A number of factors affect immune system health. Some you can’t control… [R]isks include chronic disease, poverty, stress, living with lots of other people (dormitories, low-income housing), and drinking tap water (with its local microbes) in many foreign countries. Fortunately, there are ways you can strengthen your immune system.
1: Eat Like Peter Rabbit… it’s those virtuous, self-righteous diets high in fruits, vegetables and nuts that promote immune health, presumably because they’re rich in nutrients the immune system requires. Adequate protein intake is also important; the source can be plant or animal.
Medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake and reishi contain beta-glucans (complex carbohydrates) that enhance immune activity against infections and cancer and reduce allergies (cases of inappropriate immune system activity)…
2: Stress Less… Stress-reducing activities such as meditation produce positive changes in the immune system. Massage has shown to improve immune function in studies of Dominican children with HIV. Quiet music can aid recovery from everyday hassles and may therefore buttress immune function.
3: Move Your Body. Moderate exercise discharges tension and stress and enhances immune function…
4: Sleep Soundly. Sleep is a time when growth-promoting and reparative hormones knit up the raveled sleeve of daily life. Sleep deprivation activates the stress response, depresses immune function and elevates inflammatory chemicals (which cause you to feel ill)…
5: Socialize More. People with richer social lives enjoy better health and longevity than loners do…
6: Make more love. While having lots of friends is healthy, science also shows that intimate, sexual relationships have immune system perks…
7: Shun Tobacco Smoke… Children and adults exposed to tobacco smoke are more at risk for respiratory infections, including colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis and middle ear infections.
8: Consume Friendly Bacteria… You can consume such bacteria in the form of live-cultured products such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Probiotic supplements, available at natural food stores, may reduce the risk of antibiotic-induced diarrhea, viral diarrhea, vaginitis and respiratory infections.
9: Expose Yourself. Vitamin D plays a number of roles in promoting normal immune function. Vitamin D deficiency correlates with asthma, cancer, several autoimmune diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis), and susceptibility to infection (including viral respiratory infections)…
10: Choose Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Wisely. Studies link deficiencies of zinc, selenium, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, D and E to reduced immune function. But scientists have yet to pinpoint exact levels of these nutrients for optimal immune function, much less whether dietary supplementation really helps the average, well-fed American…
11: Immunize Yourself. Routine vaccinations have had a huge impact on reducing, and in many cases nearly eradicating, a number of infectious diseases…
12: Familiarize Yourself With Immune-Enhancing Herbs. A long list of medicinal plants contain chemicals that enhance immune system activity, including echinacea, eleuthero (also called Siberian ginseng), ginseng (Asian and American), astragalus, garlic, and shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms.
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