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

Learning Causes Structural Changes in Affected Neurons

(Science Daily) When a laboratory rat learns how to reach for and grab a food pellet -- a pretty complex and unnatural act for a rodent -- the acquired knowledge significantly alters the structure of the specific brain cells involved, which sprout a whopping 22 percent more dendritic spines connecting them to other motor neurons.
The finding … underscores the brain's remarkable ability to physically change as it learns (not just in rats, but presumably in humans too), but also reveals that the effect is surprisingly restricted to the network of neurons actually involved in the learning.
Community: Yes, and habits are learned, which means they become structurally a part of the brain. That’s why it’s hard to change them. Not impossible, but it takes time and attention. It takes more than just realizing a habit is bad and a passing desire to change it.
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Scan predicts those likely to quit smoking

(UPI) U.S. researchers say neural reactions to pro-health messages -- as shown by brain scans -- may predict those most likely to successfully quit smoking.
Study leader Emily Falk of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor finds activity in the brain's medial prefrontal cortex -- while watching pro-quitting television ads -- predicted less smoking in the weeks ahead…
The findings, published in Health Psychology, suggest functional magnetic resonance imaging could be used to select the messages that are most likely to affect behavior change both at the individual and population levels.
Community: But bear in mind that those who aren’t ready today may be ready tomorrow, or even a year from now.
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Helping Fellow Addicts Can Help Maintain Sobriety

(HealthDay News) By helping other alcoholics and addicts stay clean, addicts can actually help themselves stay on the wagon, a Case Western expert suggests.
Maria E. Pagano … finds that addicts who offer fellow addicts structured support through participation in community service programs help to reduce the pull of egocentrism and/or selfishness that some researchers believe is a root cause of addiction.
"The research indicates that getting active in service helps alcoholics and other addicts become sober and stay sober, and suggests this approach is applicable to all treatment-seeking individuals with a desire to not drink or use drugs," Pagano said in a university news release. "Helping others in the program of AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] has forged a therapy based on the kinship of common suffering and has vast potential."
Community: Almost 80 years after Bill W. and Doctor Bob pioneered the concept of service, science is finally catching up.
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Mega-sized drinks loaded with sugar

(UPI) Coffee and energy drinks such as Starbucks' new 31-ounce drink, Trenta, can be loaded with excess sugar and calories a U.S. researcher says.
Ellen Schuster, a University of Missouri nutrition expert, says consumers should be wary of extra calories and sugar in the quest for bigger, bolder drinks. For example, a Trenta-sized Starbuck's lemonade could include 21 teaspoons of sugar, Schuster says.
"The sheer size of new coffee and energy drinks increases consumers' potential for unhealthy calorie and sugar consumption," Schuster, state specialist for University of Missouri Extension and the College of Human Environmental Sciences, says in a statement.
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Prevent Blood Sugar Problems with This Creamy Food

(RealAge.com) Low-fat yogurt is a smart move for your waistline. But a new study suggests that the occasional indulgence in whole-milk yogurt could carry some benefits, too.
In a 20-year study, people with the highest blood levels of trans-palmitoleic acid -- a type of fatty acid found in full-fat dairy products -- were 60 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pork with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Lightly-breaded pork chops cook quickly for a fast and delicious weeknight dinner. Serve with orzo and green beans.
EatingWell:
Pulled Pork with Caramelized Onions
Traditional pulled pork is barbecued, which gives it a smoky flavor. But the slow cooker happens to be the absolute easiest way to cook pulled pork—and you can get a hint of smoke by adding chipotle chile. Serve the pulled pork with potato salad, collard greens and grits. Or make it into a sandwich and serve it on a bun with coleslaw.
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Mechanism Involved in Breast Cancer's Spread to Bone Discovered

(Science Daily) In a discovery that may lead to a new treatment for breast cancer that has spread to the bone, a Princeton University research team has unraveled a mystery about how these tumors take root.
Cancer cells often travel throughout the body and cause new tumors in individuals with advanced breast cancer -- a process called metastasis -- commonly resulting in malignant bone tumors. What the Princeton research has uncovered is the exact mechanism that lets the traveling tumor cells disrupt normal bone growth. By zeroing in on the molecules involved, and particularly a protein called "Jagged1" that sends destructive signals to cells, the research team has opened the door to drug therapies that could block this disruptive process. Doctors at other medical centers who have reviewed the research have found it promising.
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New Induced Stem Cells May Unmask Cancer at Earliest Stage

(Science Daily) By coaxing healthy and diseased human bone marrow to become embryonic-like stem cells, a team of Wisconsin scientists has laid the groundwork for observing the onset of the blood cancer leukemia in the laboratory dish.
"This is the first successful reprogramming of blood cells obtained from a patient with leukemia," says … stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin, who directed a study aimed at generating all-purpose stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. "We were able to turn the diseased cells back into pluripotent stem cells. This is important because it provides a new model for the study of cancer cells."
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For Stem Cells, a Way to Assure Quality

(Science Daily) Ever since researchers devised a recipe for turning adult cells into cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells, there has been lingering doubt in the field about just how close to embryonic stem cells each of those cell lines really is at a molecular and functional level. Now, researchers reporting in the February 4th issue of the journal Cell, have developed a systematic way to lay those doubts about quality to rest.
They have devised a method to quickly and comprehensively characterize those cells using a series of genomic assays, ultimately assigning a scorecard to each…
The advance is critical for the future use of iPS cells [induced pluripotent stem cells] in the study of disease, for cell-based drug screening and as a renewable source of cells for transplantation medicine, the researchers say. Overall, the news is quite positive.
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U.S. Sees Slowdown in Spending on Mental Health

(HealthDay News) The amount of money spent on psychiatric drugs in the United States continues to grow but at a much slower rate than in previous years, a new federal government study has found…
The agency's analysis of health-care costs from 1986 to 2005, the latest year comparable data is available, also found that spending on behavioral health accounts for a decreasing portion of overall health-care costs…
"Behavioral health services are critical to health systems and community strategies that improve health status, and they lower costs for individuals, families, businesses and governments," Pamela S. Hyde, the SAMHSA administrator, said in an agency news release. "The value of behavioral health services is well documented. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in evidence-based treatments yields $2 to $10 in savings in health costs, criminal and juvenile justice costs, educational costs and lost productivity. Yet, too many people don't get needed help for substance abuse or mental health problems, and health-care costs continue to skyrocket."
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Many get antidepressants for no psychiatric reason

(Reuters Health) More than a quarter of Americans taking antidepressants have never been diagnosed with any of the conditions the drugs are typically used to treat, according to new research.
That means millions could be exposed to side effects from the medicines without proven health benefits, researchers say.
"We cannot be sure that the risks and side effects of antidepressants are worth the benefit of taking them for people who do not meet criteria for major depression," said Jina Pagura, a psychologist … who worked on the study.
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Older adults excluded from clinical trials

(UPI) More than half of U.S. clinical trials exclude seniors but researchers call for more elderly participants since they are the main consumers of medications…
Lead author Dr. Donna Zulman says the review of clinical trials found that one in five trials excluded patients based on their age alone. Furthermore, almost half of the remaining trials excluded people using criteria that could disproportionately affect older adults, such as physical frailty or impaired cognition.
The study found that trials rarely assess how treatments affect function and quality of life.
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Obesity epidemic risks heart disease "tsunami"

(Reuters) More than half a billion people, or one in 10 adults worldwide, are obese -- more than double the number in 1980 -- as the obesity epidemic spills over from wealthy into poorer nations, researchers said on Thursday.
And while rich nations made big strides in cutting rates of high cholesterol and hypertension, or high blood pressure, the overall number of people with high blood pressure rose from 600 million in 1980 to nearly 1 billion in 2008, fueled by an aging and expanding global population…
Commenting on the findings in the Lancet, Sonia Anand and Salim Yusuf from McMaster University in Canada said they showed a global "tsunami of cardiovascular disease" which needed to be met with population-wide efforts to cut intake of bad fats and salt, and increased levels of exercise.
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Weight-Loss Surgery May 'Remodel' Heart

(HealthDay News) Besides enabling severely obese people to lose weight, gastric bypass surgery seems to help their overly stressed hearts return to more normal function and appearance, a new study suggests.
Obesity is a risk factor for many types of heart problems, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm) and death, explained senior study author Dr. Sheldon Litwin…
The connection between obesity and cardiovascular disease isn't fully understood, but obese people often show signs of structural changes to the heart, including excess heart muscle mass in the left ventricle and enlargement of the right ventricular cavity. Both are linked to heart failure and other problems.
Community: Yes, but is it the surgery or the weight loss that “remodels” the heart? I continue to be skeptical of the necessity for surgery.
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Healthier Lifestyles May Prevent 340,000 U.S. Cancers a Year: Study

(HealthDay News) About 340,000 cancer cases in the United States could be prevented each year if more Americans ate a healthy diet, got regular exercise and limited their alcohol intake, according to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)…
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Each year, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die from the disease. But 30 percent to 40 percent of cancers can be prevented and one-third can be cured through early diagnosis and treatment, according to the WCRF.
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Want More Efficient Muscles? Eat Your Spinach

(Science Daily) After taking a small dose of inorganic nitrate for three days, healthy people consume less oxygen while riding an exercise bike. A new study … traces that improved performance to increased efficiency of the mitochondria that power our cells…
[Said Eddie Weitzberg of the Karolinska Institutet,] "We know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes but the active nutrients haven't been clear. This shows inorganic nitrate as a candidate to explain those benefits."…
Nitric oxide has been known for two decades as a physiologically important molecule. It opens up our blood vessels to lower blood pressure, for instance.
The new study offers yet another benefit of nitrate and the nitric oxides that stem from them. It appears that the increased mitochondrial efficiency is owed to lower levels of proteins that normally make the cellular powerhouses leaky.
Community: As Popeye the Sailor Man has always told us, “I'm strong to the ‘Finich’ / 'Cause I eats me spinach.”
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Scallop Piccata with Sautéed Spinach
Serve these quick-cooking scallops over a bed of whole-grain pasta or brown rice for a filling (and impressive!) meal.
EatingWell:
New England Clam Chowder
Chopped clams, aromatic vegetables and creamy potatoes blended with low-fat milk and just a half cup of cream gives this chunky New England-style clam chowder plenty of rich body. Serve with oyster crackers and a tossed salad to make it a meal.
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Group says vitamin water ads are deceptive

(UPI) Makers of vitamin waters are making misleading advertising claims for their products, a U.S. consumer group calling for a halt to the statements said.
In a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, the National Consumers League is urging the commission to halt "dangerously misleading" advertisements suggesting vitamin waters can replace flu shots or prevent illness, a release from the group said Thursday.
The companies are preying on consumers' health concerns to sell a high-calorie product, the group said.
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Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Memory Loss in Older People

(Science Daily) lder people with larger waistlines, high blood pressure and other risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome may be at a higher risk for memory loss, according to a study…
Metabolic syndrome was defined as having three or more of the following risk factors: high blood pressure, excess belly fat, higher than normal triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood), high blood sugar and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome has also been tied to increased risk of heart attack.
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Narrowed Leg Arteries Disable Women Faster Than Men: Study

(HealthDay News) Women coping with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) in the legs appear to lose mobility faster than men, new research reveals.
PAD is marked by narrowing and blockages of the peripheral arteries, usually those in the legs and pelvis. The most common symptoms are pain, cramping and tiredness in the leg or hip muscles when walking or climbing stairs -- symptoms that go away during rest…
"Men or women with peripheral arterial disease have four to five times the risk of heart attack or stroke," [Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow] noted. "Left untreated, peripheral arterial disease can lead to amputation."
"Treatment of peripheral artery disease," he added, "focuses on preventing further progression of the disease, including lifestyle changes, exercise programs, and specific medications to reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke as well as to slow the progression or even reverse symptoms of peripheral artery disease."
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Many say 'too busy' to get a mammogram

(UPI) The major reason women age 60 and under who have health insurance gave for not getting a mammogram was "being too busy," U.S. researchers say…
The study … associated low mammogram completion with being younger than age 60, having a household income of less than $40,000, being obese and having had health insurance less than five years.
"These are important findings because, even though we know that mammograms can save lives, many women put them off," [lead author Dr. Adrianne] Feldstein says.
Community: Elizabeth Edwards was “too busy” to get annual mammograms.
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Hip fractures, breast cancer survivor link

(UPI) A U.S. physician reports seeing hip fractures -- rare in people age 70 and under -- in breast cancer survivors in their 50s…
Two-thirds of the study participants received aromatase inhibitors -- a drug class also associated with hip fractures in U.S. Food and Drug Administration adverse event reports, [lead author Dr. Beatrice] Edwards says.
"More research needs to be done before treatment guidelines are changed, but greater awareness of the adverse effects of certain breast cancer drugs is needed," Edwards says in a statement.
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Scientists Unlock One Mystery of Tissue Regeneration

(Science Daily) The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. Due to the presence of dedicated stem cells, many organs can undergo continuous renewal. When an organ becomes damaged, stem cells in the organ are typically activated, producing new cells to regenerate the tissue. This activity of stem cells, however, has to be carefully controlled, as too much stem cell activity can cause diseases like cancer. Current research in stem cell biology is starting to unravel the control mechanisms that maintain a balance between efficient regeneration and proper control of stem cell function.
Strikingly, it is becoming evident that oxidative stress is at the heart of this regulation. Researchers at the University of Rochester have now identified a genetic switch that controls oxidative stress in stem cells and thus governs stem cell function.
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Future Surgeons May Use Robotic Nurse, 'Gesture Recognition'

(Science Daily) Surgeons of the future might use a system that recognizes hand gestures as commands to control a robotic scrub nurse or tell a computer to display medical images of the patient during an operation.
Both the hand-gesture recognition and robotic nurse innovations might help to reduce the length of surgeries and the potential for infection, said Juan Pablo Wachs, an assistant professor of industrial engineering…
"It's a concept Tom Cruise demonstrated vividly in the film 'Minority Report,'" Wachs said.
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Energy-Efficient Intelligent House Can Monitor Health, Prototype Shows

(Science Daily) A prototype of an energy-efficient house which can send alerts if its residents are ill has been developed by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire.
InterHome which is the first home in the UK which can learn from its residents and take decisive action and text if it is being burgled or the door has been left unlocked can now also monitor the health of its occupants…
"This opens up a platform for us to add new types of technologies around assisted living," said [Senior Lecturer Johann Siau].
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Survey: Let EPA protect family health

(UPI) Public support is weak for former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's idea to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, a survey indicates…
"The poll findings reflect strong bipartisan support both for the EPA in general, and also for it playing a vigorous role in relation to fighting air pollution," Graham Hueber, senior project manager at ORC International says in a statement. "There is no evidence in this survey to suggest that Americans have any appetite for dismantling an agency that they see as protecting the health of themselves and their families."
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Senate rejects bid to repeal healthcare law

(Reuters) President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate blocked a Republican bid on Wednesday to repeal his healthcare overhaul, a year-old law whose ultimate fate likely rests with the U.S. Supreme Court.
On a party-line vote of 51-47, the Senate rejected a Republican measure to rescind the law that aims to provide more than 30 million uninsured Americans with medical coverage while requiring nearly all to be insured or pay a fine. Sixty votes were needed to clear a procedural hurdle against repeal.
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Physical Activity Linked to Political Participation

(Science Daily) How is going for a jog like voting for president? As far as our brains are concerned, physical activity and political activity are two sides of the same coin. Scientists found that people who live in more active states are also more likely to vote…
The study was inspired by research showing that brains lump all kinds of activity together…
This link to physical activity could be used to encourage people to vote, says [Dolores] Albarracín. "It could be anything from promoting voting in a sports context to connecting voting to a self-help context that encourages being proactive -- that's a big audience that's thinking about how to improve their own lives and may not otherwise think of doing so politically. This might be easier than getting politically naïve or uninvolved people to vote because they care about politics per se."
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Ideas to Get Moving

(Cooking Light) It doesn’t take much to ease your way into being more active. These … tips will have you working up a sweat—and in some cases, make you more eager to exercise—in no time. By Myatt Murphy, author of the Ultimate Dumbbell Guide.
Sacrifice Fashion for Feel
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin discovered that subjects who wore clothing that was more casual to work took an average of 491 extra steps a day and burned roughly 8% more calories—compared to subjects who wore more restrictive outfits…
Volunteer Your Time
Try to find a volunteer group that will require you to do something physical to help out. Not only will you burn calories, but knowing you have others relying on you will hold you more accountable to stay the course—and in turn, stay active.
Offer to Babysit, But Do Everything But Sit
There’s a reason why watching kids is exhausting—it’s not just a chance to bond, it’s an opportunity to burn calories. Once the play date is set, try to plan activities for them that you know will keep you up and active, like playing tag, hopscotch, skipping rope, or running around the park.
Make Your Life Less Convenient
Intentionally park your car in the farthest spot possible, skip the elevator and use the stairs instead, use a basket when shopping instead of a cart, or, simply leave the things you use every day—like your keys, phone, shoes, etc.—in places where you’ll have to walk a little farther for them.
Get Some Extra Zzz’s
One of the biggest reasons many people stay sedentary is that they spend most of their time being sleepy. Not getting enough sleep not only leaves you with less energy, but it can make you more anxious and stressed (meaning, even if you have the energy to be active, you may not find yourself in the mood to bother)…
Slow Is Always Better Than No
If starting a running routine or jumping into the latest fast-paced, fat-burning aerobic class feels too intimidating, start small with an activity that you feel more comfortable with, even if it’s not one that really gets your heart pumping. Choosing less intense activities such as walking, gardening, or stationary cycling may feel less effective at getting you in shape and burning calories, but they also let you exercise at a pace that’s easier to maintain for a longer period of time at a much safer speed…
Make a Few Micro Goals
Instead of aiming for a big goal—such as losing 20 pounds—try setting much smaller, less intimidating goals that are easier to achieve and may cause you to exercise more. For example, your goal could be “I will run 5 minutes of my 45 minute-walk” or “I will get to the gym 10 minutes earlier than usual.” Small goals are easier to reach and usually lead to bigger success in the long run.
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Get Slim: Take a Lunch Break!

(RealAge.com) Eating lunch at your desk? Good for productivity, maybe. But very bad for your waistline…
In a study, men and women were served a lunch consisting of several different foods. Half of the participants played a computer card game while eating; the other half had a distraction-free lunch. After the meal, people who played the game reported feeling less full compared with the nongamers, and they ate twice as many cookies during a taste test 30 minutes later. The card players also had more trouble listing in order the food items they had eaten for lunch…
Basically, anything that takes your mind off of your food is a recipe for overeating.
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Roasting Coffee Beans a Dark Brown Produces Valued Antioxidants, Scientists Find

(Science Daily) Food scientists at the University of British Columbia have been able to pinpoint more of the complex chemistry behind coffee's much touted antioxidant benefits, tracing valuable compounds to the roasting process.
[The researchers] found that the prevailing antioxidants present in dark roasted coffee brew extracts result from the green beans being browned under high temperatures…
Antioxidants aid in removing free radicals, the end products of metabolism which have been linked to the aging process.
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The Secret to the Steelers' Winning Streak May Be in Their Diet

(Nicci Micco, EatingWell) Leslie Bonci, R.D., the Steelers’ nutritionist, makes sure that the players’ diets keep them at their best, on and off the field. Last year, I visited Bonci at the Steelers’ training camp to talk about how she keeps the players’ hearts healthy. Her all-star tips will help keep your ticker in tip-top shape too.
Heart-Healthy Habit #1: Get Trim. If you’re overweight (as two-thirds of American adults are), losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can result in better blood pressure, lower risk for diabetes and improved cholesterol levels, research shows…
Heart-Healthy Habit #2: Cut Back on “Bad” Fats… [R]eplace butter with olive and canola oils, which contain good amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats; choose lean meats, poultry, fish and beans instead of higher-fat meats; select nonfat or low-fat milk and yogurt in place of whole-milk versions; eat full-fat cheeses sparingly. Avoid trans fats, which also increase LDL cholesterol, by skipping foods that contain “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” in their ingredient lists. (Big culprits include packaged snacks, crackers, bakery goods and some margarines.)…
Heart-Healthy Habit #3: Eat at Least 25 Grams of Fiber Daily. Studies link a high-fiber diet with a lower risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the average American only gets about 14 grams per day. Soluble fiber in oats, beans and citrus fruits, such as oranges, helps reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Opting for whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, boosts your intake of total fiber (by way of insoluble fiber, which is also good for digestion) and can decrease levels of triglycerides, another “unhealthy” fat in the blood, as a diet rich in refined carbohydrates may stoke the body’s production of triglycerides…
Heart-Healthy Habit #4: Have Fish Twice a Week. Doing so may reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 percent, research suggests. Omega-3 fats in fish lower triglycerides and blood pressure; they also can help prevent irregular heart rhythms. Have trouble fitting in fish? Speak with your doctor about fish-oil supplements—taking them daily helped current Pittsburgh Steelers to improve their cholesterol profiles, according to a January 2009 study in Sports Health…
Heart-Healthy Habit #5: Exercise for 30 Minutes Nearly Every Day. A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association credited NFL players’ high level of physical activity with helping to mitigate the heart risks associated with being overweight. You don’t need to be a professional athlete to benefit from exercise. Moderate exercise (e.g., brisk walking) will help to keep your heart healthy.
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Recipes

Cooking Light:
5 Super Bowl Food Makeovers
The traditional game day foods are crowd pleasers, but they can also be some of the worst foods for you health-wise. The good news is that with these simple makeovers, you don't have to find new foods to serve on Super Bowl Sunday.
"Guy Foods" Lightened
We've lightened favorite "guy foods" most commonly found on a bar menu (or on your coffee table during halftime).
MyRecipes.com:
Pork Chops with Country Gravy
This savory pork chops and gravy recipe is a lightened version of the Southern-style classic. Plus, you can use the simple gravy technique in a number of other dishes.
EatingWell:
Picadillo-Style Turkey Chili
This quick turkey chili was inspired by picadillo, a Latin dish typically made with ground meat, tomatoes, spices and sometimes olives and raisins. It’s served in pastries, with tortillas or along with rice and beans. Here we decided to make it into a saucy chili. Serve it with crackers or some crusty bread and hot sauce.
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How to Enjoy an Avocado

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The creamy flesh of an avocado gives this food — which is botanically a fruit — an indulgent quality. However, ounce for ounce, avocados are actually one of the healthiest foods around. Not only are they rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, they also contain large amounts of potassium, vitamin E, fiber, folate, and vitamin B6…
Buying avocados
There are dozens of varieties of avocados. The two most commonly found in supermarkets are California varieties: the Hass (pebbly black skin) and Fuerte (green skin). When selecting any variety of avocados, choose a heavy, unblemished fruit. Remember that most avocados sold in supermarkets aren't ripe — so plan ahead if you're making guacamole or some other dish using avocados, since they take a few days to ripen.
Storing avocados
You can ripen hard avocados by keeping them at room temperature for three to six days. However, you can accelerate this process by storing the avocados in a paper bag. Putting an apple or banana into the bag will make ripening even quicker because both fruits emit ethane, a gas that speeds the process. To test whether your avocados are ripe, give them a gentle squeeze; ripe fruit will yield to pressure without denting. Overripe avocados will dent.
You can store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to three days. Keeping the pit in the avocado helps prevent discoloration, but if your avocado is already cut, rub the surface with lemon or lime juice. Brown discoloration won't affect the nutritional value or flavor of an avocado.
Enjoying avocados
Slice ripe avocados and eat them plain, as a salad topping, or layered on sandwiches and wraps (Phase 2). Mash overripe avocados to make dips like guacamole.
To pit an avocado, slice it lengthwise from end to end and twist to separate the two halves. Using a sharp knife, tap the knife’s tip into the pit and twist gently to remove. To take off the flesh, you can either peel the fruit or use a paring knife to dice the flesh while still inside the skin, then scoop it out with a spoon. To prevent the scooped-out flesh from darkening after contact with air, squeeze lemon juice over it or add lemon juice to your recipe.
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Dry Eye Syndrome Common in Winter

(HealthDay News) Dry eye syndrome is common in winter because of cold, dry outdoor air and dry indoor heat, says an eye expert…
[Dr. Michael] Azar outlined some ways to deal with dry eye syndrome.
"Try artificial tears or warm compresses to assist with tear secretion if you have classic dry eye symptoms. At home, a furnace humidifier or room humidifier can help. More severe symptoms may require treatment such as oral doxycycline to improve tear quality, punctal plugs [stoppers inserted into the tear duct], topical steroids or topical cyclosporine (Restasis)," he said.
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Brain Can Learn to Overcome Sleep Apnea, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) New research from the University of Toronto could provide some restful nights for the 18 million North Americans who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
In a recent study…, scientists from the University demonstrated that repeated obstruction of the airways requires release of the brain chemical noradrenaline. The release of this chemical helps the brain learn to breathe more effectively and purposefully…
These findings are important because they suggest that artificial manipulation with common drugs that affect noradrenaline levels in the brain could also help improve breathing in patients suffering from sleep apnea. This work could serve as the potential basis for developing the long sought after pill for sleep apnea.
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New Antibiotic Helps Prevent Recurrence of Dangerous Gut Infection

(HealthDay News) Late-stage clinical trials of a new antibiotic for the increasingly common intestinal infection Clostridium difficile, which is especially lethal to the elderly, suggest it prevents recurrence far better than currently used medications…
"Fidaxomicin does kill the bug, but in terms of recurrence, it doesn't disturb the normal balance of flora in the intestines," [study co-author Dr. Sherwood Gorbach] said. "This drug should actually save lives."
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Microbubble Ultrasound and Breast Biopsies

(Science Daily) Using "microbubbles" and ultrasound can mean more targeted breast biopsies for patients with early breast cancer, helping to determine treatment and possibly saving those patients from undergoing a second breast cancer surgery, a new study in shows.
Patients with early breast cancer undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine if their cancer has spread, said Dr. Ali Sever, lead author of the study. Ultrasound, on its own, can't distinguish the sentinel lymph node from other lymph nodes, Dr. Sever said. However, "our study found that microbubble contrast- enhanced ultrasound accurately identified the sentinel lymph node in 89% of the 80 patients in our study."
As many as 35% of patients who undergo sentinel lymph node excision biopsy will require additional surgery because cancer has spread," Dr. Sever said. Using microbubble contrast-enhanced ultrasound preoperatively means that the cancer and cancer spread can be removed during one operation.
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Early Tests Find Nanoshell Therapy Effective Against Brain Cancer

(Science Daily) [Researchers] have successfully destroyed tumors of human brain cancer cells in the first animal tests of a minimally invasive treatment that zaps glioma tumors with heat. The tests involved nanoshells, light-activated nanoparticles that are designed to destroy tumors with heat and avoid the unwanted side effects of drug and radiation therapies…
The researchers reported that more than half of the animals that received the nanoshell treatment for glioma tumors had no signs of cancer more than three months after treatment.
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New Nanoparticles Make Blood Clots Visible

(Science Daily) For almost two decades, cardiologists have searched for ways to see dangerous blood clots before they cause heart attacks.
Now, researchers ... report that they have designed nanoparticles that find clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology.
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Why Folic Acid May Prevent a First Heart Attack, but Not a Second

(Science Daily) A perplexing medical paradox now has an explanation according to research undertaken at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and published in the current issue of the Public Library of Science. The paradox is that taking folic acid, a B vitamin, lowers homocysteine in the blood which, epidemiological evidence indicates, should lower the risk of heart attack, but clinical trials of folic acid have not shown the expected benefit.
The explanation is surprisingly simple; lowering homocysteine prevents platelets sticking, which stops blood clots…something aspirin also does, so if people in the trials were already taking aspirin there would be no extra benefit in lowering homocysteine with folic acid. Aspirin was in fact widely used by participants in the trials because they were mainly conducted in patients who had already had a heart attack or other cardiovascular diseases.
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Transplanted Human Placenta-Derived Stem Cells Show Therapeutic Potential in Stroke Models

(Science Daily) Human amniotic epithelial cells, stem cells derived from human placenta left over from live births and generally discarded, proliferated and differentiated when they interacted with one kind of melatonin receptor, MT1. This potentially therapeutic response occurred when the stem cells were transplanted into laboratory test tube and animal models of stroke. The same cells did not perform similarly when interacting with melatonin receptor MT2.
Researchers … concluded that the placenta-derived stem cells and their interaction with MT1 promoted functional recovery in the laboratory mice with modeled stroke.
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Researchers Unlock the Potential for Exploring Kidney Regeneration

(Science Daily) Researchers have identified a cell in zebrafish that can be transplanted from one fish to another to regenerate nephrons, providing the potential to improve kidney function.
It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the U.S. population may have some form of renal disease, with 450,000 patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) requiring hemodialysis…
One of the reasons renal failure is so common, is that humans are unable to generate any new nephrons, the basic filtration unit of the kidney, after the 36th week of gestation…
Now that this cell has been identified [in zebrafish,] it may be possible to better understand how to increase its number and capacity to generate nephrons.
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