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

Prevent Diabetes with This Many Steps a Day

(RealAge.com) Walking does your body a world of wonders: It improves your mood, flattens your belly, reduces body fat, and improves cholesterol. But it does something else, too: Walking reduces your risk for diabetes.
That's right. Take 10,000 steps a day (5 days a week) and you'll lower your diabetes risk three times more than if you walk only 3,000 steps a day. Learn how walking lowers your risk for diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and more.
You're probably already logging about 5,000 steps. Even sedentary folks rack up about 3,000 (1.5 miles). Here are easy ways to walk more steps:
1.    Track how far you walk…
2.    Buy good walking shoes…
3.    Sit less, walk more…
4.    Walk farther each week.
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Why the New Surgical Cure for Diabetes Will Fail!

(Mark Hyman, MD) Two seemingly groundbreaking studies … found that type 2 diabetes, or “diabesity”, could be cured with gastric bypass surgery.  The flurry of media attention and medical commentary hail this as a great advance in the fight against diabetes.  The cure was finally discovered for what was always thought to be a progressive incurable disease. But is this really a step backwards?  Yes, and here’s why.
No one is asking the most obvious question.  How did the surgery cure the diabetes? Did the surgeons simply cut out the diabetes like a cancerous tumor?
No.  The patients in the studies changed their diet. They changed what they put in their stomach and that’s something that doesn’t require surgery to change…
A recent study … proved that diet alone could reverse type 2 diabetes. The bottom line: A dramatic diet change (protein shake, low glycemic load, plant-based low-calorie diet but no exercise) in diabetics reversed most features of diabetes within one week and all features by eight weeks. That’s right; diabetes was reversed in one week. That’s more powerful than any drug known to modern science and as or more effective than gastric bypass.  But since it was a diet study, it got no press or attention. Other research proves that intensive lifestyle therapy can achieve the same results…
Recommending gastric bypass as a national solution for our diabetes epidemic is bad medicine and bad economics. If the nearly 30 million diabetics in America took advantage of this new miracle cure at $25,000 a pop, it would cost three quarters of a trillion dollars ($750,000,000,000).  If we paid people $100 a pound to lose weight we would still be better off. To treat the nearly 400 million diabetics around the globe that would cost $10 trillion.  Does this make any sense?
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Society Sounds Caution About Bariatric Surgery

(MedPage Today) Before sending obese patients with type 2 diabetes to bariatric surgery, clinicians should consider a number of factors, according to a statement from the Endocrine Society…
[N]ot everyone with type 2 diabetes is a candidate for bariatric surgery, the statement said.
Clinicians should carefully assess patients' body mass index (BMI) and age, how long they've had diabetes, and how well they would be able to comply with long-term lifestyle changes.
"Sustained long-term benefits will require maintenance of the metabolic changes achieved. Bariatric surgery is not a guarantee of successful weight loss and maintenance," the statement said.
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More evidence ties diabetes to Parkinson's risk

(Reuters Health) People with diabetes may have a heightened risk of developing Parkinson's disease, especially at a relatively young age, a new study finds…
But neither this report nor … earlier ones [with similar results] prove that diabetes, itself, raises a person's risk of Parkinson's -- a disorder in which movement-regulating brain cells gradually become disabled or die…
Researchers have speculated on the potential reasons for the diabetes-Parkinson's link, and they suspect there might be certain biological mechanisms that contribute to both conditions.
One possibility is chronic, low-level inflammation throughout the body, which is suspected of contributing to a number of chronic diseases by damaging cells. There might also be a common genetic susceptibility to both diabetes and Parkinson's.
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Protective gene in fat cells may lead to therapeutic for Type 2 diabetes

(Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) In a finding that may challenge popular notions of body fat and health, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have shown how fat cells can protect the body against diabetes. The results may lead to a new therapeutic strategy for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes and obesity-related metabolic diseases, the authors say…
The team discovered a new version of a gene inside fat cells that responds to sugar with a powerful systemic effect.
"If we change that one gene, that makes the animal more prone to or more protected from diabetes," said senior author Barbara Kahn MD…
"Two things were surprising – first, that a lone gene could shift the metabolism of the fat cell so dramatically and then, that turning on this master switch selectively in adipose tissue is beneficial to the whole body," Kahn said. Twelve years ago, Kahn first demonstrated that fat cells are a master regulator of healthy levels of glucose and insulin in mice and require sugar to do the job.
"The general concept of fat as all bad is not true," said first author Mark Herman MD.
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New Hormone for Lowering Blood Sugar

(Science Daily) New evidence points to a hormone that leaves muscles gobbling up sugar as if they can't get enough. That factor, which can be coaxed out of fat stem cells, could lead to a new treatment to lower blood sugar and improve metabolism, according to a report…
This new fat-derived hormone would appear to be a useful alternative or add-on to insulin; it can do essentially the same job, sending glucose out of the bloodstream and into muscle…
"If we can purify this factor and give it to people, there is potential for its use to lower and help control blood sugar," [Jonathan Graff of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center] says. Alternatively, there might be a way to encourage fat stem cells in the body to produce more of the anti-diabetic factor themselves…
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Enzyme in Saliva Helps Regulate Blood Glucose

(Science Daily) Scientists from the Monell Center report that blood glucose levels following starch ingestion are influenced by genetically-determined differences in salivary amylase, an enzyme that breaks down dietary starches. Specifically, higher salivary amylase activity is related to lower blood glucose.
The findings are the first to demonstrate a significant metabolic role for salivary amylase in starch digestion, suggesting that this oral enzyme may contribute significantly to overall metabolic status. Other implications relate to calculating the glycemic index of starch-rich foods and ultimately the risk of developing diabetes.
"Two individuals may have very different glycemic responses to the same starchy food, depending on their amylase levels," said lead author Abigail Mandel, Ph.D., a nutritional scientist at Monell. "Individuals with high amylase levels are better adapted to eat starches, as they rapidly digest the starch while maintaining balanced blood glucose levels. The opposite is true for those with low amylase levels. As such, people may want to take their amylase levels into account if they are paying attention to the glycemic index of the foods they are eating."
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Glycemic Index Foods at Breakfast Can Control Blood Sugar Throughout the Day

(Science Daily) Eating foods at breakfast that have a low glycemic index may help prevent a spike in blood sugar throughout the morning and after the next meal of the day, researchers said at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting.
These breakfast foods also can increase feelings of satiety and fullness and may make people less likely to overeat throughout the day…
The glycemic index ranks foods on the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high index are rapidly digested and result in high fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic index produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels and are considered healthier, especially for people with diabetes…
When a low glycemic food is added to the diet, people spontaneously choose to eat less at other times throughout the day…
Community: According to the Glycemic Index website,
How to Switch to a Low GI Diet
The basic technique for eating the low GI way is simply a "this for that" approach - ie, swapping high GI carbs for low GI carbs. You don't need to count numbers or do any sort of mental arithmetic to make sure you are eating a healthy, low GI diet.
·         Use breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
·         Use breads with wholegrains, stone-ground flour, sour dough
·         Reduce the amount of potatoes you eat
·         Enjoy all other types of fruit and vegetables
·         Use Basmati or Doongara rice
·         Enjoy pasta, noodles, quinoa
·         Eat plenty of salad vegetables with a vinaigrette dressing
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Delicious Easter Brunch on a Budget:
Ham & Cheese Breakfast Casserole and More Brunch Casseroles
This healthy update of a traditionally rich ham-and-cheese breakfast strata is made lighter primarily by losing a few egg yolks and using nonfat milk. Gruyère cheese has a delicious, nutty aroma and flavor, which means that with the relatively small amount in this recipe you still get a big impact.
Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus and More Asparagus Sides
These prosciutto-wrapped bundles of grilled asparagus are a delicious addition to a spring brunch or elegant dinner.
Couscous, Lentil & Arugula Salad with Garlic-Dijon Vinaigrette and More Spring Salads
This hearty combination of whole-wheat couscous and lentils perched atop a lightly dressed bed of arugula makes a tasty vegetarian main-course salad. The lemony vinaigrette is especially good for bringing out the spicy notes of the arugula.
Greek Walnut Spice Cake and More Delicious Quick Breads & Muffins
A rich, flavorful syrup infuses this Mediterranean-inspired walnut coffee cake with the bright aroma of oranges and cloves. Heart-healthy olive oil and whole-grain barley flour add subtle complexity and texture to this nutty treat.
Looking to serve a delicious drink with brunch? Try one of these delicious cocktail recipes!
Orange-Glazed Salmon Fillets with Rosemary
Fresh rosemary and a little maple syrup infuse aromatic and faintly sweet flavor into this speedy seafood dish.
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6 'Bad' Foods That Really Aren't

(U.S. News & World Report) Have you been depriving yourself of eggs, pasta…or chocolate? Well, maybe you shouldn't be. Research reveals that some foods we typically think of as "bad" really aren't. And nutritionists tell us that there's room for more of these in our everyday diets. The trick is knowing how much of them to eat—and how often.
Eggs. This breakfast staple gets a bad rap because of the cholesterol content in yolks. But eggs—and yolks in particular—are a good source of protein and vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin A and iron), says Laura Cipullo, a New York-based registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Plus, a 2011 study from the University of Alberta found that eggs' antioxidant properties may help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer…
Popcorn. Yep, this popular snack is good for you. In fact, it contains more healthful antioxidant substances called "polyphenols" than fruits and vegetables, finds 2012 research… Just don't pile on the butter or the salt. And be careful with microwave popcorn, as it can pack in trans fats and sodium…
White potatoes. Don't be afraid of this American favorite. White potatoes are the biggest and most affordable sources of potassium when compared to other vegetables and fruits, finds a 2011 study from the University of Washington (and funded by the United States Potato Board). The skins of these spuds are full of fiber, says Cipullo, so keep them on when you cook…
Pasta. Just makes sure it's a whole-grain variety, says Jessica Shapiro, a registered dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, while refined grains have been milled, which improves their shelf life but also strips out nutrients…
Chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, and it's been shown in studies to be associated with lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease. Plus, regular chocolate-eaters were shown to be slightly skinnier than those who ate the sweet treat less often, according to 2012 research.
Alcohol. Research suggests that resveratrol—found in small quantities in red wine and grapes—may protect against a range of illnesses including heart disease. But moderate consumption of other types of alcohol, such as beer, may also have health benefits, probably by way of increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol. The key is not to overindulge, according to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
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Soy may alleviate menopause hot flashes

(UPI) Two daily servings of soy might reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 26 percent compared with a placebo, U.S. researchers found…
The effectiveness of soy in alleviating hot flashes has been inconclusive -- some studies suggested soy to be beneficial and others suggested is was not -- but much of the discrepancy was due to small sample sizes and inconsistent methodology, Melby said.
"When you combine them all, we've found the overall effect is still positive," [study co-author Melissa] Melby said in a statement.
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Consumers often ignore food allergy labels: study

(Reuters Health) The different allergy labels in common use may be confusing consumers instead of helping them decide whether to buy a food product, a new Canadian study shows.
"We should narrow (various allergy labels) to only one which will be clear," said Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan…
Although all these labels warn that a product could harm a person with allergies, they present that message in various ways. Researchers found that some labels are less effective than others in helping consumers to avoid potentially dangerous foods.
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Food Fraud Database

(Science Daily) In new research…, analyses of the first known public database compiling reports on food fraud and economically motivated adulteration in food highlight the most fraud-prone ingredients in the food supply; analytical detection methods; and the type of fraud reported. Based on a review of records from scholarly journals, the top seven adulterated ingredients in the database are olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee, and apple juice.
The database was created by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), a nonprofit scientific organization that develops standards to help ensure the identity, quality and purity of food ingredients, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals…
"This database is a critical step in protecting consumers," said Dr. [John] Spink. "Food fraud and economically motivated adulteration have not received the warranted attention given the potential danger they present."…
The database provides information that can be useful in evaluating current and emerging risks for food fraud.
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Can Poison be Healthy?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Hormesis refers to a fascinating phenomenon - a favorable biological reaction to low doses of chemical toxins, radiation or some other form of stress that is damaging, even fatal, at high doses.
Exercise provides a good example of a hormetic effect. Lifting weights actually injures muscle fibers, but over the next few days, those muscles grow stronger than they were before as the body repairs itself. Similarly, drinking alcohol in moderate doses - such as one drink daily - boosts antioxidant activity, as the body actively defends against the stresses of exposure to this toxin. Result: a modest cardiovascular health benefit (h owever, the effect is small enough that I don't recommend that abstainers start drinking for better health).
Along with exercise and alcohol, healthy hormetic effects have been observed from exposure to uncomfortable (but not dangerous) levels of cold and heat, mild caloric restriction (such as a day of fasting) and more. While undergoing mild stresses and discomforts appears to be beneficial, be sure to consult with your physician before making any dramatic lifestyle changes.
Community: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?
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Shilajit is unproven yet touted as a panacea for many ills

(Los Angeles Times) It has a smoky, bitter taste, a deeply unpleasant odor and bears a close resemblance to black gobs of tar. Pricey tar, mind you: 10 grams (a month's supply) will set you back $80.
The substance, called shilajit, is an ancient ayurvedic medicine. On websites, you'll read that it has anti-anxiety, "rejuvenating" and aphrodisiac properties and is a panacea for many ills, from diabetes to bronchitis — and, further, that it was praised by Aristotle, prized by Genghis Khan and was the closely guarded secret weapon of Soviet cosmonauts and Olympic athletes…
What exactly is this stuff? Shilajit consists of ancient plant matter transformed over millions of years into a black substance that oozes from the rocks of the Himalayas… Scientific analysis shows shilajit contains more than 85 minerals and fulvic acid, an antioxidant heavily touted these days by supplement marketers…
Dr. Mary L. Hardy, medical director at Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, says it has been widely used for thousands of years across the mountain regions of Central Asia and Northern India. Clinical studies on animals have shown positive results in memory and anti-stress enhancement, as well as antioxidant, anti-diabetic and immune-enhancing properties.
Many of those studies were poorly controlled or involved unreasonable doses, though, and good human studies are thin on the ground.
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Insurers Move Ahead, With Or Without Individual Mandate

(Kaiser Health News) "The broader health care debate is way larger than the individual mandate," [said David Cordani, the CEO of Cigna, the nation's fourth-largest health insurer].
Cigna, like the broader insurance industry, hasn't taken a position on whether or not the mandate requiring Americans to buy health coverage is constitutional. Cordani points out that it really only deals with expanding care to people in the small-group and individual markets. That's a fraction of the total number of people insured, and it's not a major market for Cigna.
Cordani says the act does a fair enough job at expanding access to care, but it doesn't do as much to improve the quality of care and drive down costs. That's his focus: changing the way we think about insurance, from paying for "sick care" to paying for "health care," driving consumers to stay healthy and giving doctors incentives to keep them that way.
"What we've been doing is innovating programs around that, with or without the Affordable Care Act," Cordani says…
Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry lobby, says insurers are … working with hospitals and doctors to change the way care is paid for and to keep costs down, just as Cigna's Cordani wants.
Community: My question is, WHAT TOOK SO LONG? Why haven’t insurance companies been trying to keep treatment costs down all along?
My fear is that the restrictions in the Affordable Care Act on how much insurance companies can pocket, as a percentage of total costs, will encourage them to increase costs even further than current levels. We’ll be back to the days of the cost-plus government contracts, which were one of the many ways creative crooks have found over the years to fleece the taxpayers.
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A Better Way to Negotiate Healthcare Costs

(Jeff Weiss, Tuck School of Business) Healthcare costs are a constant focus of attention. They have a huge impact on the U.S. economy, and it is no surprise to anyone that a great deal of legislative and policy changes have been crafted in the last few years primarily in the name of making healthcare more affordable for all.
What is puzzling is that little attention has been paid to the arcane methods that insurance companies (payers) and hospital systems (providers) both continue to use to negotiate their contracts. In a throwback to the '80s, these contracts are still negotiated employing a zero sum or, as it is often called, a positional bargaining approach to negotiation. Ways to together improve patient outcomes, delivery of healthcare, research, or myriad other forms of value rarely enter into the conversation, and opportunities for real economic savings are left on the table…
It is time for leaders of hospital systems and health insurance companies to muster up the courage to take on this different approach to negotiation, one that has widespread use in so many other industries…
We need the best of both sides to stop approaching this as a battle of wills, and refocus on viewing and approaching these negotiations as an exercise in joint problem-solving. If not, as insurance premiums rise and hospitals continue to face significant cost challenges, we will all (continue to be) the losers.
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World Health Day, April 7, 2012

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) This year’s World Health Day theme, “Good health adds life to years”, highlights the need to ensure that people are living well as they live longer…
The right to the best possible health does not diminish as we age. With a longer life comes the increased likelihood of disabilities, chronic illnesses or cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease, which may mean growing needs for long-term care and nursing support.
That’s why our department is working to make sure Americans and people around the world get the care they need to stay healthy as they age. The Affordable Care Act is making prevention benefits available and prescriptions more affordable for seniors and people with disabilities and will soon ensure that people, of all ages, with pre-existing conditions get coverage. The Administration on Aging helps communities, caregivers, and health care providers prepare for an aging society and works internationally to promote the dignity and independence of older people. The National Institute on Aging conducts research to discover what may contribute to healthy aging while addressing the disease and disability sometimes associated with growing older.
Community: If we do away with all government spending except for conducting endless wars, as the Tea Partiers say they want, there would be none of this research on how to stay healthy as we age.
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Red Grape Compound Has Potential for Controlling Obesity

(Science Daily) A compound found in red wine, grapes and other fruits, and similar in structure to resveratrol, is able to block cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop, opening a door to a potential method to control obesity, according to a Purdue University study.
Kee-Hong Kim, an assistant professor of food science…, reported … that the compound piceatannol blocks an immature fat cell's ability to develop and grow.
While similar in structure to resveratrol -- the compound found in red wine, grapes and peanuts that is thought to combat cancer, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases -- piceatannol might be an important weapon against obesity. Resveratrol is converted to piceatannol in humans after consumption…
Kim would like to confirm his current finding, which is based on a cell culture system, using an animal model of obesity. His future work would also include determining methods for protecting piceatannol from degrading so that concentrations large enough would be available in the bloodstream to stop adipogenesis or body fat gain.
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Body's Biological Clock Discovery May Lead to Treatments for Obesity, Diabetes

(Science Daily) The discovery of a major gear in the biological clock that tells the body when to sleep and metabolize food may lead to new drugs to treat sleep problems and metabolic disorders, including diabetes.
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies … showed that two cellular switches found on the nucleus of mouse cells … are essential for maintaining normal sleeping and eating cycles and for metabolism of nutrients from food.
The findings … describe a powerful link between circadian rhythms and metabolism and suggest a new avenue for treating disorders of both systems, including jet lag, sleep disorders, obesity and diabetes.
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Ads that Heighten Sensitivity to Cheap, High-Calorie Food Linked With Obesity

(Science Daily) [A] new review of human brain imaging studies … suggests that a major reason for the dramatic increase in obesity may be a heightened sensitivity to heavily advertised and easily accessible high-calorie foods…
"The emerging imaging literature supports the view that although there is not a single pathway leading to obesity, it is a neurobehavioral problem: a disease that results from a vulnerable brain in an unhealthy environment," explains [review author Dr. Alain] Dagher. "The demonstration that humans are sensitive to food cues, such as advertising, especially when these food cues are associated through past experience with high-calorie foods, cannot be ignored. As for tobacco in the 1990s, the neuroscience of appetite will be called upon to inform and justify the public policy decisions that will be needed to address this most significant public health problem."
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13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss

(Reader's Digest) From surprising foods that release fat to why watching TV can be healthier than you think, we uncovered these shockingly simple weight loss secrets.
1. You Have to Eat Fat to Beat Fat…
2. A Daily Dose of Chocolate Can Trim Your Waistline…
3. Dairy Promotes Weight Loss…
4. Losing Weight Early and Fast Is Best…
5. Exercise Alone Is Not an Effective Weight Loss Tool...
6. The Difference Between Being Overweight and a Healthy Weight May Boil Down to Fidgeting...
7. Long Cardio Sessions Aren't Helping You Burn Fat...
8. TV Time is OK—but Make It a Sitcom…
9. The Real Reason You’re Craving Junk Food? You’re Thinking Too Hard!...
10. A Daily Glass of Wine Is an Effective Fat Releaser…
11. All Sugar Isn’t Evil When It Comes to Weight Loss…
12. Skimping on Sleep Can Negate Calorie Cutting…
13. Your Secret Weight Loss Weapon May be a Good HEPA Air Filter
Community: I have to take issue with #4. I’ve lost weight fast many times, and then couldn’t keep it off.
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Obesity Adds More to Health Care Costs Than Smoking, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Obesity adds more to health care costs than smoking does, reports a study…
Compared to nonsmokers, average health costs were $1,275 higher for smokers. The incremental costs associated with obesity were even higher: $1,850 more than for normal-weight individuals. For those with morbid obesity, the excess costs were up to $5,500 per year.
The additional costs associated with obesity appeared lower after adjustment for other accompanying health problems (comorbidity). "This may lead to underestimation of the true incremental costs, since obesity is a risk factor for developing chronic conditions," [the researchers] write.
Community: And then there’s the suffering.
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Pasta Primavera
Use fresh seasonal vegetables for a hearty meatless meal. For the meat lovers in the family, feel free to add chicken or shrimp to this pasta recipe.
Poached Cod & Asparagus
In this recipe, we poach the cod right on top of the asparagus. The result is perfectly cooked cod and tender-crisp asparagus. The sauce is our take on beurre blanc—a traditional French sauce made with wine and lots of butter. Ours uses a little cornstarch for thickening and a judicious amount of butter for flavor.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Vietnamese Cauliflower
Vietnamese cooking is the "light cuisine" of Asia. Its recipes are typically lower in animal protein and fat than those of China or Japan, yet, as this dish proves, rich in fresh, vibrant flavors. Here, bland cauliflower is the perfect backdrop for a lively interplay of sweet, sour, salty and savory notes. This dish can be made with or without chilies, but the vital direction here is to avoid overcooking: florets should be both tender and crunchy, never mushy. Mix it up by substituting purple or orange cauliflower - increasingly available at farmers' markets or natural food stores - for the traditional white variety.
Food as Medicine
Cauliflower provides broad-spectrum antioxidant protection from free-radical damage. Along with vitamin C and manganese, it contains phytonutrients including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol. All of these appear to work together to lower oxidative stress on cells.
Community: Along with broccoli, cauliflower is one of the cruciferous vegetables, which evidence shows reduce the risk of developing cancer.
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No link seen between painkillers, enlarged prostate

(Reuters Health) In contrast to some recent research, a new study finds no evidence that men who use aspirin or ibuprofen are at any lower risk of an enlarged prostate…
And then there's the 2006 study that did find a lower BPH risk among NSAID users. It's not clear why the current study came to different conclusions, according to [lead researcher Siobhan] Sutcliffe…
If future studies do find that NSAID users have a lower BPH risk, then what? For one, Sutcliffe said, it would suggest that low-dose aspirin -- which many older adults already take for their heart health -- may have an added benefit. It would also raise the possibility that NSAIDs could help treat BPH symptoms.
There are already ways to manage urinary symptoms. Some men find enough relief from lifestyle changes, like cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, and limiting fluids before bedtime. Other men with bothersome BPH symptoms take medication.
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Discovery Paves Way for Improved Painkillers

(Science Daily) An international team of researchers involving the University of Adelaide has made a major discovery that could lead to more effective treatment of severe pain using morphine…
The team from the University of Colorado and University of Adelaide has shown for the first time how opioid drugs, such as morphine, create an inflammatory response in the brain -- by activating an immune receptor in the brain.
They have also demonstrated how this brain immune receptor can be blocked, laying the groundwork for the development of new therapeutic drugs that improve the effectiveness of morphine while reducing many of its problematic side effects.
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Virus Protects Against Lupus

(Science Daily) To the surprise of investigating researchers, an animal model of Epstein Barr virus protected lupus-prone mice against development of the autoimmune disease. Earlier work had suggested that EBV might promote the development of autoimmunity…
[Said Dr. Roberta Pelanda, lead author,] "We believe these findings could lead to therapeutic targets for lupus and other autoimmune diseases."
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Rare Immune Cells Could Hold Key to Treating Immune Disorders

(Science Daily) The characterisation of a rare immune cell's involvement in antibody production and ability to 'remember' infectious agents could help to improve vaccination and lead to new treatments for immune disorders, say researchers…
The cells, called T follicular helper cells, represent less than half of one per cent of all immune cells, but play a critical role in antibody production and developing long-lasting immunity. However, the cells are also dramatically increased in chronic inflammatory disease, suggesting that they could be a therapeutic target for treating these diseases.
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Study Explains How the First Effective HIV Vaccine Worked

(Time Magazine) In 2009, researchers reported that an AIDS vaccine had for the first time protected people against HIV. Since then, the researchers have been wondering, How did it work?...
Studying blood samples from the original Thai trial, Dr. Barton Haynes … and his colleagues report … that they have begun to understand how the vaccine worked. Two HIV-binding antibodies may play an important role in determining whether the virus can gain a foothold in healthy cells and start an infection, the researchers say…
“This analysis has produced some intriguing hints about what types of human immune responses a preventive HIV vaccine may need to induce,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped fund the study…“With further exploration, this new knowledge may bring us a step closer to developing a broadly protective HIV vaccine.”
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Manipulating the Immune System to Develop 'Next-Gen' Vaccines

(Science Daily) The discovery of how a vital immune cell recognises dead and damaged body cells could modernise vaccine technology by 'tricking' cells into launching an immune response, leading to next-generation vaccines that are more specific, more effective and have fewer side-effects.
Scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have identified, for the first time, how a protein found on the surface of immune cells called dendritic cells recognises dangerous damage and trauma that could signify infection.
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Promising Vaccine Targets on Hepatitis C Virus

(Science Daily) A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has found antibodies that can prevent infection from widely differing strains of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in cell culture and animal models.
HCV's very high rate of mutation normally helps it to evade its host's immune system. The newly discovered antibodies, however, attach to sites on the viral envelope that seldom mutate. One of the new antibodies, AR4A, shows broader HCV neutralizing activity than any previously reported anti-HCV antibody.
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Emerging Fungal Infection in South West U.S. Mimics Cancer

(Science Daily) An emerging fungal infection of the gastrointestinal tract that mimics cancer and inflammatory bowel disease appears to be emerging in the Southwestern United States and other desert regions, according to Mayo Clinic researchers in Arizona investigating the disease. The invasive fungus, Basidiobolus ranarum, is typically found in the soil, decaying organic matter and the gastrointestinal tracts of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and bats…
"The exact mode of acquisition of this gastrointestinal infection is unclear, although consumption of contaminated food or dirt is the favored hypothesis," says lead author H.R. Vikram, M.D… "The infection is still considered so rare that no one had put together a complete description." He adds that more study needs to be done to determine how this infection is contracted, what underlying diseases might predispose patients to this infection and how best to treat it. He emphasizes that early recognition is key to successful treatment.
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Cancer diagnosis raises risk of heart attack and suicide, study says

(Los Angeles Times) A study involving more than 6 million Swedes reveals that the risk of suicide and cardiovascular death increases immediately after a cancer diagnosis.
Within the first week of being told they had cancer, patients were 12.6 times more likely to commit suicide than people of similar backgrounds who were cancer-free. The newly diagnosed patients were also 5.6 times more likely to die from a heart attack or other cardiovascular complication in those first seven days, according to a study…
"One has to assume that it's the psychological impact of that news," said Dr. Ilan Wittstein…, who was not involved in the study.
Community: So cancer can be a death sentence in more ways than one. But many cancers can now be cured.
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Half of Cancer Survivors Die From Other Conditions

(WebMD Health News) Many people fear that a cancer diagnosis carries an almost certain death sentence. But a new national study shows nearly half of cancer survivors die from other conditions.
There are now nearly 12 million cancer survivors in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute. That's up from 3 million in 1971 and 9.8 million in 2001. Two-thirds of them have survived cancer for at least five years, says researcher Yi Ning, MD… As a result, "it is increasingly important to understand major causes of death among cancer survivors to improve the quality of life and prolong their life," he tells WebMD.
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Fewer Doctor Office Visits, Reduced Use of Medicines Impact U.S. Healthcare in 2011, According to IMS Study

(IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics) The most medicines launched in a decade brought new, transformative treatment options to more than 20 million Americans in 2011, even as patients visited their physicians and used prescription drugs less often, according to a new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics…
“2011 was a remarkable year for the volume of drug breakthroughs that became available to millions of Americans,” said Michael Kleinrock, director, Research Development, IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. “At the same time, some troubling trends that began in 2009 persisted with many patients appearing to ration their medical care. The implications of fewer doctor visits and lower drug utilization on patients’ health have yet to play out and require further study.”
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Deficits depend on containing health costs

(UPI) An online calculator shows if U.S. healthcare costs are contained, the budget deficit will not rise uncontrollably, a non-profit groups says.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research's Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator allows people to see what projected U.S. budget debts would be if the United States had the same per-person healthcare costs as any other developed country -- all of which enjoy longer life expectancies than the United States…
"The country faces a healthcare cost crisis. If it addresses this crisis, it does not have a deficit problem," the center said in a statement. "If it doesn't address the healthcare cost crisis, there is no plausible way to address the problem of the deficit."
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Mental Activity Protects Against Decline

(Science Daily) New research finds that a person's memory declines at a faster rate in the two- and-a-half years before death than at any other time after memory problems first begin. A second study shows that keeping mentally fit through board games or reading may be the best way to preserve memory during late life…
The [first] study found that at an average of about two-and-a-half years before death, different memory and thinking abilities tended to decline together at rates that were 8 to 17 times faster than before this terminal period. Higher levels of plaques and tangles were linked to an earlier onset of this terminal period but not to rate of memory decline during it…
The [second study] showed that people's participation in mentally stimulating activities and their mental functioning declined at similar rates over the years. The researchers also found that they could predict participants' level of cognitive functioning by looking at their level of mental activity the year before but that level of cognitive functioning did not predict later mental activity.
"The results suggest a cause and effect relationship: that being mentally active leads to better cognitive health in old age," said Wilson.
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How our brains are wired: Stunning new detail

(Daily Mail) For a long time it was thought that the brain was a mass of tangled wires, but researchers recently found that its fibers are actually set up like a chess board, crossing at right-angles. What’s more, this grid structure has now been revealed in amazing detail as part of a brain imaging study by a new state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner…
This grid structure appears to guide connectivity like lane markers on a highway, which would limit options for growing nerve fibers to change direction during development.
If they can turn in just four directions: left, right, up or down, this may enforce a more efficient, orderly way for the fibers to find their proper connections – and for the structure to adapt through evolution, suggest the researchers.
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Like Humans, Dogs Engage in Riskier Behaviors When Their Self-Control Is Depleted

(Science Daily) Like humans, dogs engage in riskier behaviors when their self-control is depleted.
How do dogs behave when heir ability to exert self-control is compromised? Are they more likely to approach dangerous situations or stay well away? According to a new study…, dogs that have 'run out' of self-control make more impulsive decisions that put them in harm's way.
Community: That’s why it’s wise to make changes geared toward increasing self control in very small steps.
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'Impossible' problem solved after non-invasive brain stimulation

(University of Sydney) Brain stimulation can markedly improve people's ability to solve highly complex problems, a recent University of Sydney study suggests…
"[W]e have taken the famous nine dots problem, where you are asked to join all the dots with four straight lines without taking the pen off the page," Professor [Allan] Snyder said. "Surprisingly, investigations over the last century show that almost no one can do this."
Now the researchers have shown that more than 40 percent of the people they tested were able to solve the nine dots problem after receiving 10 minutes of safe, non-invasive brain stimulation…
Using the same procedure the researchers have previously reported success in amplifying insight and memory.
[The researchers] suggest that their unique brain stimulation protocol could ultimately enable people to "escape the tricks our minds impose on us," as Professor Snyder describes it, and solve tasks that appear deceptively simple.
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Antioxidant-Rich Blueberries: The Super Brain Food

(RealAge.com) You'll never eat naked cereal again when you realize what blueberries do for your brain. Blueberries improve memory and learning, and delay age-related cognitive decline like that seen with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. They're delicious, too.
Blueberries are a super food for your brain. They're high in vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants called flavonoids (also called polyphenols). In your brain, flavonoids interact with proteins and enzymes in ways that keep your brain younger. Scientists don't know exactly how all those elements play together, but blueberry flavonoids do seem to keep you smarter. People who eat a high-flavonoid diet stay sharper than folks with low-flavonoid diets. In fact, drinking blueberry juice daily can improve your memory function by 30%.
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