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

Exercise and statins together may reduce death risk

(Washington Post) [A] study analyzed data on 10,043 adults who were 59 years old, on average, at the start of the study and had dyslipidemia, abnormal levels of cholesterol or fats in their blood…
People who took statins were less likely to have died than those who did not, and people who were physically fit were less likely to have died than those who were unfit. Survival odds were best for people who took statins and also exercised at least moderately: regular brisk walking, for instance. These people were 70 percent less likely to have died in that time span. Even those who did not take statins but were highly fit were about half as likely to have died as those who took statins but were unfit.
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How to Work In Fitness During the Holidays

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it's a great way to help you maintain your weight during the holiday season — or to continue your weight loss program. Remember, every little bit of activity can boost your health, help burn calories, and keep you energized all season long!
Make a regular exercise date with yourself — or a buddy
Carve out at least 20 minutes for cardio-conditioning or core-strengthening exercise on most days of the week. And when that's just not possible, use the time slot on an "off" day to enjoy some quiet time, or to treat yourself to a day at the salon or spa.
Save time with intervals
Interval exercise not only helps you burn calories and fat faster than exercising at a steady state, it also strengthens your heart and helps keep it healthy…
Don't forget your core
On days when you're not doing interval exercise, do some core-strengthening exercises to target the vital muscles in your back, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. These muscles are critical for posture, flexibility, balance, and stability…
Turn chores into an exercise opportunity
When it's time to get the house in shape for the holidays, set a timer on the oven or your cell phone for 10 minutes, and then see how much of your house you can declutter before the buzzer goes off…
De-stress with yoga
Yoga is an excellent way to reduce seasonal stress while improving strength, flexibility, and balance.
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Holiday fitness gifts trend from high-tech to basic

(Reuters) Looking for the perfect holiday present for a fitness fan? Gift offerings this year range from apps that can store a run in the country to be viewed later to gadgets so sophisticated they measure quality of sleep as well as calories burned.
There is also the revival of the humble foam roller, which experts say, like old-time push-ups, squats and planks, has never been more popular…
Devices, gadgets and apps proliferate as tech-savvy fitness becomes more accessible, according to Jessica Matthews of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
"There's a lot of interest in on-body monitoring devices as ways to motivate and track progress," she said. "They run the gamut from basic devices to track hours, steps, and caloric expenditure to full-body tracking."
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3 Exercise Tips to Energize Your Brain

(Deborah Herlax Enos, certified nutritionist and health coach) [R]esearchers from the Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan found that people who were more physically active during the day were less likely to experience brain shrinkage in their frontal lobe. The frontal lobe plays a role in problem solving, personality, judgment and memory.
So now it seems if I want to keep my wits about me, I should exercise my body as well as my brain. While I do exercise regularly, this study got me thinking about what I can do to add extra physical activity into my day.  Here are some of the simple strategies I've made a part of my everyday life.
1.      Always take the stairs…
2.      Park as far away as possible…
3.      Plan to be active. Take the dog for a walk at the same time every day and your four-legged friend will eventually hold you to your commitment. You can also schedule regular walks with friends. The opportunity to have a great conversation  with a pal may be just the motivation you need to stick to a routine.
Community: I walk to my errands, and when I take public transportation (which I do frequently, since I don’t own a car) I walk up and down the platform while waiting for the train.
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More Fitness Tips

(Science Daily) If you're looking to get some of the benefits of exercise without doing the work, here's some good news. A new research report … shows that low-intensity vibrations led to improvements in the immune function of obese mice. If the same effect can be found in people, this could have clinical benefits for obese people suffering from a wide range of immune problems related to obesity.
Community: I use the PowerPlate for bone building, but we see here that it has other uses, as well.
(Melinda Johnson, MS, RD, U.S. News & World Report) Some researchers speculate that exercising for external reasons only—that is, to lose weight—taps into your willpower bank account much more than exercising for internal reasons, such as relieving stress… The trick is to find those internal motivations to exercise, so you actually want to do it, regardless of the external outcomes. Working out should be something you do to be happy, not skinny…  I recommend focusing on internal benefits like these: 1. Exercise makes you a happier person… 2. Exercise makes you smarter… 3. Exercise boosts confidence.
(Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, U.S. News & World Report) Varying your exercise routine can help you do two things: prevent boredom and avoid reaching a plateau in your performance and ultimately in your training results. In fact, research shows that varying your exercise routine can help improve adherence. A study at the University of Florida found that people who changed their workouts every two weeks over an eight week period appeared to enjoy their workouts more and were more inclined to stick with their regimen than those who did the same 'ole thing week after week. Plus, our bodies tend to adapt to the repetitive stimulus in our exercise programs within about six to eight weeks, so if you are not switching it up, you could hit a plateau.
(Tribune Newspapers) The short days of winter relegate many people to working out in darkness, when cars, criminals and the inability to see what's underfoot present a host of hazards. Wearing workout gear designed for nighttime exercising can help reduce the risks. But keep in mind that while the market is flush with chic reflective apparel, a strip of shimmery material on an otherwise black ensemble may be too chic to do much good. "The goal is to be highly visible, not just kind of visible," said Jean Knaack, executive director of the Road Runners Club of America.
(Nora Tobin,  Shape.com) As a fitness professional and athlete, one of the most common questions I hear is, "Do I really need to stretch?" or "What's the least amount of stretching I can do to still be worth it?" The short answer: Yes, stretching is important, and you should spend at least five minutes cooling down after every workout. Here are a few reasons why: You'll prevent injury and relieve pain… You'll improve circulation… You'll relieve stress.
(Discovery.com) Older athletes speeding to the finish line may be racing toward more than the end of a 10K: They may be racing toward the end of life, according to soon-to-be-published research… Researchers analyzed 52,600 runners and non-runners over three decades. Overall, the runners enjoyed a 19 percent lower death rate than their non-running peers, but the runners who ran a lot (over 20-25 miles a week) did not.
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Appetite for Health:
December Slow-Cooker Recipe: “Deconstructed” Stuffed Cabbage Stew
I love stuffed cabbbage, but who has the time for all that blanching, stuffing, rolling, saucing...? This is my go-to slow cooker recipe for stuffed 
Chicken Thighs with Roasted Apples
Baking then mashing the apples creates a flavorful, chunky sauce for the chicken—and lets you sneak more fruit into your diet, too. Skin the thighs to keep this dish healthy, and feel free to leave bits of peel on the apples to make this rustic dish even more colorful and rich in fiber.
Seared Steak with Mustard-Mushroom Sauce
With this quick steak recipe, you can be sitting down to juicy pan-seared steak with a rich and savory sauce in just 30 minutes.
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'Test and hold' rule aims to make meat safer

(NBC News) Starting next year, U.S. meat producers will have to abide by a new “test and hold” rule aimed at curbing outbreaks of foodborne illness caused by dangerous bacteria in certain types of beef, poultry and other meat, officials said Friday.
The regulation, first proposed in April 2011, will require manufacturers of raw ground beef, tenderized beef and other “non-intact” beef and those who make all ready-to-eat products containing meat not only to test for disease-causing pathogens, but also to wait for the results before shipping. It takes effect in 60 days, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said.
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'Organic' Leaves a Bad Taste in the Mouths of Some Consumers

(Science Daily) Labeling food as "organic" may not always lead to a positive impression, according to a recent Cornell University study…
[Researchers] asked 215 students whether they thought organic food was healthier and tastier than conventional food. While most agreed that organics were a healthy choice compared with conventional food, fewer expected organic food to taste good by comparison. This latter finding was especially true for participants who had low concern for the environment…
"It's not the case that you can label a food organic and expect that everyone will perceive it more positively. Under certain circumstances, ethical labels could have an unintended backfire effect."
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Aspirin 'Resistance' May Actually Be Caused By Pill's Coating, Study Suggests

(Huffington Post) As many as one third of people who take daily aspirin for heart-health reasons don't seem to reap the drug's blood clot-busting benefits, and a new study has identified a possible reason for why: the pill's coating.
Researchers … found that the coating on aspirin seems to delay the absorption of the drug by the body, thereby resulting in "pseudoresistance" to aspirin's effects. Coating is added to some aspirins to make it more stomach-friendly. Aspirin is often taken as a regular measure because it's been shown in past research to lower the risk of repeat heart attack.
The findings "question the value of coated, low-dose aspirin," study researcher Dr. Garret FitzGerald, M.D…., said in a statement. "This product adds cost to treatment, without any clear benefit. Indeed, it may lead to the false diagnosis of aspirin resistance and the failure to provide patients with an effective therapy. Our results also call into question the value of using office tests to look for such resistance."
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Aspirin may help older colon cancer patients live longer

(Reuters Health) Older adults with colon cancer who were prescribed a daily aspirin were less likely to die than those who weren't, according to a new study.
While the results need to be confirmed with more rigorous studies, they add to the evidence linking aspirin use to longer survival for cancer patients. Studies have also suggested the inexpensive drug can prevent some types of the disease from occurring in the first place.
Medical guidelines currently endorse the use of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease, but not to fight or prevent cancer.
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New Strategy to Prevent or Halt Periodontal Disease

(Science Daily) Periodontitis, a form of chronic gum disease that affects nearly half of the U.S. adult population, results when the bacterial community in the mouth becomes unbalanced, leading to inflammation and eventually bone loss. In its most severe form, which affects 8.5 percent of U.S. adults, periodontitis can impact systemic health.
By blocking a molecular receptor that bacteria normally target to cause the disease, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have now demonstrated an ability in a mouse model to both prevent periodontitis from developing and halt the progression of the disease once it has already developed…
"Our ultimate goal is to bring complement therapeutics to the clinic to treat periodontal diseases," [co-senior author John D.] Lambris said. "The complement inhibitors, some of which are in clinical trials, developed by my group are now tested in various periodontal disease animal models and we hope soon to initiate clinical trials in human patients."
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Artery Damage Seen in Sleep Apnea

(MedPage Today) People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have subclinical arterial disease on par with that seen in patients with diabetes, researchers found.
There were no significant differences in several measures of endothelial function and arterial elasticity between patients with OSA and those with diabetes, according to Raluca Mincu, MD, from Bucharest, Romania, and colleagues
But both groups showed significant differences from normal controls matched for age and sex, Mincu reported.
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Knee replacement linked to weight gain

(Reuters Health) Being overweight is known to increase the risk of needing a knee replacement, but a new study finds that knee replacement surgery may also raise a person's risk of gaining weight.
Analyzing the medical records of nearly 1,000 knee-replacement surgery patients, researchers found that 30 percent of them gained five percent or more of their body weight in the five years following surgery.
One possible explanation for the counterintuitive results, experts said, is that if people have spent years adapting to knee pain by taking it easy, they don't automatically change their habits when the pain is reduced.
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Antibody Keeps Artificial Joints Intact

(MedPage Today) An antibody targeting the Wnt signaling pathway may provide a means of preventing the damage and loosening of artificial implants used in knee and hip replacements, which commonly necessitates repeat surgery for repair…
An antibody that targets the Wnt inhibitor sclerostin completely prevented particle debris-related implant damage in animals with titanium implants in the distal femur, and even increased bone volume almost twofold, the researchers reported.
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Attitudes Predict Ability to Follow Post-Treatment Advice

(Science Daily) Women are more likely to follow experts' advice on how to reduce their risk of an important side effect of breast cancer surgery -- like lymphedema -- if they feel confident in their abilities and know how to manage stress, according to new research…
These findings suggest that clinicians must do more than just inform women of the ways they should change their behavior, says Suzanne M. Miller, PhD…, study author. Doctors and nurses should also provide strategies for women who feel less empowered to make those changes, and have fewer skills for reducing their stress.
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Supreme Court to hear "pay-for-delay" drug case

(Reuters) The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether brand-name drug companies may pay money to generic drug rivals to keep their lower-priced products off the market, a practice estimated to cost consumers and the government billions of dollars each year.
The arrangements, known as "pay-for-delay" or "reverse payments," have for more than a decade vexed antitrust enforcers, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which have been stung until recently by a series of court decisions allowing such practices.
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Is Life Better After Quitting Smoking?

(Dr. Daniel Seidman, Columbia University Medical Center) The psychological impact of quitting smoking on a person's well-being is often overlooked…
According to [a] new study, comparing life before quitting to life one year after quitting:
1.      There was a decrease in "stressful event frequency" for those who had quit. This lends support to previous studies showing that "quitting smoking decreases stress."
2.      The "quitters experienced a steep decline in craving while continuing smokers' craving levels only decreased slightly."
3.      The "quitters experienced declines in restlessness and anger/irritability from pre-quit to one year while continuing smokers' levels either remained stable or increased."
Community: I am here to tell you that life is, indeed, better after quitting smoking.
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States Spend Anti-Smoking $$ on Other Things

(MedPage Today) States will spend less than 2% of their annual tobacco tax and settlement revenues to fight smoking next year, according to a new report…
"The states have an obligation to use more of their billions in tobacco revenues to fight the tobacco problem," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement. "Their failure to do so makes no sense given the evidence that tobacco prevention programs save lives and save money by helping reduce healthcare costs."
Community: Of course they do. They don’t spend gasoline taxes on road repair, and they decrease spending on education due to support from the lotteries. I find a lot of fault with businesses, but I see problems with government, too.
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New Evidence for Effects of Diet on Healthy Aging

(Science Daily) New research in human volunteers has shown that molecular changes to our genes, known as epigenetic marks, are driven mainly by aging but are also affected by what we eat.
The study showed that whilst age had the biggest effects on these molecular changes, selenium and vitamin D status reduced the accumulation of epigenetic changes, and high blood folate [a B vitamin] and obesity increased them. These findings support the idea that healthy aging is affected by what we eat…
[T]he results of this study support the hypothesis that aging affects the epigenetic status of some genes and that these effects can be modulated by diet and body fatness.
Community: So now we know that we can get too much folate.
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New Evidence on How Compound Found in Red Wine Can Help Prevent Cancer

(Science Daily) Researchers at the University of Leicester have been researching the levels of resveratrol which can be beneficial in preventing cancer.
Using laboratory models, they have found that a daily amount of resveratrol equivalent to two glasses of wine can halve the rate of bowel tumors…
The Leicester researchers now hope to take their findings from the lab to the next stage by carrying out clinical trials to find the optimum level of resveratrol in humans.
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Fruits, Veggies Tied to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

(WebMD Health News) A new study suggests that women with higher levels of carotenoids (nutrients found in fruits and vegetables) have a lower risk of breast cancer -- especially cancers that are harder to treat and have a poorer prognosis.
When researchers from Harvard Medical School pooled the results of studies that measured carotenoid levels in women’s blood, they found that those with the highest levels had a lower risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest levels.
The association appeared to be stronger for smokers than for non-smokers and for women who were lean compared to those who were overweight.
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More Recent Research on Breast Cancer

(Science Daily) Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found statins, the commonly used drug to lower cholesterol, improved progression-free survival in patients with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC)… [P]atients who took lipophilic statins saw improved survival rates of 2.47 years. The greatest improvement in survival was noted in patients with past hydrophilic statin use at 4.88 years.
(MedPage Today) For women with early estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, a decade of tamoxifen is better than stopping after 5 years, researchers reported. In a large randomized trial, the extra time on tamoxifen reduced breast cancer recurrence, death from breast cancer, and overall mortality, according to Richard Gray, MSc, of the University of Oxford, and colleagues.
(NBC News) Researchers had good news about some of the most difficult-to-treat breast cancers on Thursday. They found that pre-treating young women with a rare form of breast cancer can help them survive better down the road… The study … showed that the pre-treatment, called neoadjuvant chemotherapy, before surgery greatly improved the chances that a woman’s tumor would be completely killed. The pre-treatment approach is used in several forms of cancer to shrink and contain a tumor before a surgeon goes in to cut it out. It worked best in the youngest women with triple-negative cancer – a surprising finding.
(Science Daily) Most patients whose breast cancer has spread to their lymph nodes have most of the lymph nodes in their armpit area removed after chemotherapy to see if any cancer remains. A study … shows that a less invasive procedure known as sentinel lymph node surgery successfully identified whether cancer remained in lymph nodes in 91 percent of patients with node-positive breast cancer who received chemotherapy before their surgery. In sentinel lymph node surgery, only a few lymph nodes, the ones most likely to contain cancer, are removed.
(Science Daily)  Increasing the dose of fulvestrant from 250 mg to 500 mg improved median overall survival in women with locally advanced or metastatic estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, according to updated data… "Of note, the improvement in survival with the higher dose of fulvestrant was achieved without increasing treatment toxicity. Indeed, the dose of 500 mg had the same toxicity profile as the 250-mg dose," said Angelo Di Leo, M.D., Ph.D.
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How to Eat for Your Age

(Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, U.S. News & World Report) 60s and beyond: As your body ages, your caloric needs decline, and it seems easier to gain weight. You may not be able to absorb nutrients as efficiently, and you may be required to take certain medications that could interfere with the foods you eat. Osteoporosis, effecting both men and women, could cause bones to thin, putting you at risk for breaks and fractures. It's particularly important that you get enough calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc from foods like yogurt, sardines (with bones), and fortified, skim, or low-fat milk.
Preparing meals for yourself may seem like an overwhelming task, so try to buy healthy food that is convenient—not necessarily "convenience foods," which could be highly processed and high in sodium and fat. To help slow the loss of lean muscle mass, be sure to consume rich sources of protein like lean meat, cheese, eggs, beans, and low-fat dairy.
Also, be sure to include foods that are good for your gut, since problems like constipation and reflux could become everyday occurrences. Consume a colorful diet, including lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, to support your digestive and immune systems. Probiotics in yogurt can also aid in gut function. And don't forget the importance of drinking enough fluids. Dehydration may present as a headache or disorientation, and a simple glass or two of water can prevent these issues and keep things moving through your system.
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More Recent Research on Food and Health

(The People’s Pharmacy) [A recent] study … showed that people at high risk of heart disease were much less likely to die during the 5 years of study follow-up if they consumed a healthful diet… The individuals who filled their plates with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and nuts and chose fish more often than meat or eggs were 35% less likely to die from a stroke or heart attack. They were also less likely to have a nonfatal heart attack or stroke and 28% less likely to develop congestive heart failure.
(Science Daily) A recent … review … shows that rice bran offers promising cancer prevention properties. Meanwhile, an ongoing clinical trial is testing the effectiveness of rice bran in preventing the recurrence of colon cancer. [Says Elizabeth P. Ryan, PhD,] "There's a delicate balance of bioactive components in rice bran that together show anti-cancer activity including the ability to inhibit cell proliferation, alter cell cycle progression and initiate the programmed cell death known as apoptosis in malignant cells."
(Science Daily) Arthrobotrys oligospora doesn't live a charmed life; it survives on a diet of roundworm… [But Mingjun Zhang] and his team have discovered that nanoparticles produced by A. oligospora hold promise for stimulating the immune system and killing tumors… According to Zhang, nature faces many diseases, and offers rich mechanisms for curing them as a result of evolution. Nature-based nanostructures possess near endless diversity, which may offer novel solutions for therapeutic applications.
(AFP) Men who drink one normal-sized soft drink per day are at greater risk of getting more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, according to a Swedish study… "Among the men who drank a lot of soft drinks or other drinks with added sugar, we saw an increased risk of prostate cancer of around 40 percent," said Isabel Drake, a PhD student at Lund University.
(Chicago Tribune) In a broad comparison of U.S. dietary standards and real Americans' eating habits, researchers found that people fall short of nutritional recommendations overall, but some groups are worse than others. Among the findings, researchers said that children and the elderly seemed to eat a healthier diet than younger and middle-age adults, and women had a better diet than men. Hispanics also tended to have better quality diets than either blacks or whites.
(UPI) Nearly 1-in-3 U.S. adults say they either lacked food or were concerned about food insecurity among family, friends or neighbors, a non-profit group says. The poll, sponsored by Generations United and conducted by Harris Interactive, also found 1-in-10 U.S. adults went without a basic need -- food, medicine, or healthcare -- in order to provide food for another family member.
(Science Daily) "We found that low-income people showed the poorest adherence to Mediterranean diet as compared to those in the uppermost group of income -- says Licia Iacoviello, chairperson of the Moli-sani Project- In particular, high-income people have 72% odds of being in the top category of adherence to Mediterranean diet. This means a less healthy diet for the poorest, who are more likely to get prepackaged or junk food, often cheaper than the fresh foods of the Mediterranean tradition. In the lowest-income category we have recorded a higher prevalence of obesity as well. Low-income people report 36 % of obesity compared to 20% in the uppermost income class."
(Science Daily)  Health inequalities between England's richest and poorest areas have widened in the ten years between 1999 and 2008. Researchers warn … that over the next ten years, we may experience smaller increases in life expectancy than in the past decade and health inequalities may rise at an even faster rate.
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Steak and Blue Cheese Pizza
Blue cheese crumbles and a creamy horseradish spread highlight the meaty slices of sirloin. Keep the steak tender by adding it towards the end of the 6-minute bake time.
Linguine with Escarole & Shrimp
Lots of tangy lemon, fresh tomatoes, escarole and shrimp create an incredible sauce for whole-wheat pasta. Serve with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and whole-grain bread.
Paprika Roast Chicken
Thick onion slices add sumptuous flavor to this chicken, while also keeping it from sticking to the bottom of your roasting pan.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® FireBird Restaurant Chicken Kiev | Firebird, NY
This delicious recipe was 'stolen with permission' from Executive Chef Paul Joseph of Firebird, New York, who gives new life to classic Russian dishes and reveals a lighter, more approachable Russian cuisine. Such is the case with the restaurant’s popular Chicken Kiev; a golden orb of white meat, which bursts with a wonderful sauce of baby arugula and herbes de Provence.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Curried Cauliflower Soup
True Food Kitchen exclusive! This rich soup is healthy, vegan, and quick prepare. It's good hot or cold and keeps well if you don't serve it all at once. I use orange cauliflower when I can find it, for its higher content of beta-carotene than white. Cashew milk makes the soup deliciously creamy. This is a good way to get the anti-inflammatory benefit of turmeric. Garnish each bowl with caramelized onions and bright green cilantro for a beautiful presentation.
Food as Medicine
Like all cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower offers a host of health benefits including several potent anti-inflammatory compounds. It is a good source of vitamin K, which has been shown to directly modulate the body's inflammatory response. It also contains substances that the body can convert to sulforaphane, which supports blood vessel health and may offer other cardiovascular benefits.
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Top Ten Food Trends 2013 (Video)

Trend #3
Health & Wellness: The Boomer Reality of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease
(The Supermarket Guru) Building on our 2012 prediction of the importance of the Boomer population who will control just over half the dollars spent on grocery foods in 2015 ($706 million each year), serving the food needs of this generation will take new approaches.
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Boost Immunity With This Zippy Mineral

(The Supermarket Guru) Boost your intake of zinc rich foods to keep your immune system on top watch…
Zinc is necessary for optimum immune function, boosting immunity, and creates new cells, which allow optimal collagen production and wound healing. Zinc is also a component of key enzymes that help preserve vision…
Animal foods such as liver, beef, eggs, oysters, lamb, scallops, yogurt, and crab are rich in zinc. Plant foods such as wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, oats and sesame seeds are also rich in zinc.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Feeling Disgust May Enhance Our Ability to Detect Impurities

(Science Daily) Disgust -- it's an emotion we experience when we encounter things that are dirty, impure, or otherwise contaminated. From an evolutionary standpoint, experiencing the intense, visceral sense of revulsion that comes with disgust presumably helps us to avoid contaminants that can make us sick or even kill us. But new research suggests that disgust not only helps us to avoid impurities, it may also make us better able to see them…
[T]hree studies provide evidence for an interactive relationship between disgust sensitivity and perceptual sensitivity that may ultimately help us detect and avoid the germs, toxins, and other contaminants around us.
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UK dials up "virtual doctors" in big telehealth push

(Reuters) Shirley Silvers thinks the "virtual doctor" who monitors her chronic lung condition via mobile phone is wonderful.
"It is like having my doctor sitting on my sofa," said the 64-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent in central England, explaining how her temperature, oxygen levels and sputum color - a barometer for infection - are now checked daily from home.
She sends her readings by text message and gets a reply within minutes, removing the need for regular trips to the doctor…
Remote monitoring has the potential to save money by keeping people like Silvers - who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - healthy and out of hospital.
Indeed, the department of health claims it could save up to 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) over five years.
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Plastics Used in Some Medical Devices Break Down in a Previously Unrecognized Way

(Science Daily) Scientists have discovered a previously unrecognized way that degradation can occur in silicone-urethane plastics that are often considered for use in medical devices.
Their study … could have implications for device manufacturers considering use of these plastics in the design of some implantable devices, including cardiac defibrillation leads.
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IRS finalizes new tax for medical devices in healthcare law

(Reuters) The U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday released final rules for a new tax on medical devices, products ranging from surgical sutures to knee replacement implants, that starts next year as part of President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare law.
The 2.3-percent tax must be paid, effective after December 31, by device-makers on their gross sales. The tax is expected to raise $29 billion in government revenues through 2022…
"The excise tax is on the medical device manufacturers and importers (who) will now have access to 30 million new customers due to the health care law," Treasury Department spokeswoman Sabrina Siddiqui said in a statement.
Many medical devices that are sold over-the-counter - such eyeglasses, contact lenses and hearing aids - are exempt from the tax, as are prosthetics, the IRS said.
Community: Maybe we should have more specifically targeted taxes like his, where medical device manufacturers are paying for the cost of regulating them. Food manufacturers should pay for government agencies to assure food safety. Polluters should pay for enforcement of pollution limits. And so on. No more free rides.
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U.S. medical supply companies hit with $200 million antitrust suit

(Reuters) Cardinal Health Inc and Owens & Minor Inc were hit with a $200 million antitrust lawsuit Wednesday by a specialty medical supply distributor that accused the two U.S. companies of conspiring to wrest away customers and keep it from expanding its market share.
The lawsuit was filed in Kansas federal court by Suture Express Inc, a specialty medical supply distributor that sells suture and endomechanical products to healthcare providers. In the lawsuit, Suture Express alleged that Cardinal and Owens & Minor exploited their dominance in the medical supply distribution market to punish healthcare providers who buy certain products from Suture Express.
Community: It was tactics like these that made Microsoft the dominant software provider, despite having generally inferior products.
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Public Wary Of Cutting Hospital Payments To Reduce Deficit

(Los Angeles Times) American voters may be concerned about government spending, but they don’t want federal budget negotiators to cut payments to hospitals, a new poll indicates.
Nearly seven in 10 registered voters said they oppose reductions in what the government Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs pay hospitals, the survey found.  Two-thirds believe that such cuts would harm access to healthcare.
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Commentary: Washington's top-down thinking on Medicare

(Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star) Polls show that Americans, across party lines, overwhelmingly reject drastic cuts to either Medicare or Medicaid. Why? Because these aren’t welfare programs for “moochers,” as many on the right suggest. They are social insurance.
According to a February 2012 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, more than 90 percent of entitlement and mandatory program dollars go those who are elderly, seriously disabled or members of working households.
Without these social insurance programs, which all working Americans contribute to with payroll taxes, how many [families] would be able to cope with the challenges of illness and old age? In an age when both spouses in most families must work, where is there time and where are there surplus resources to assume these responsibilities on their own?
Most Americans want affordable, dignified care to be there for their elders — not to mention for themselves when the time comes. Not a handout or a “gift,” as Mitt Romney might put it, but rather a system that taxes all and cares for all.
The costs of Medicare and Medicaid are growing at an alarming rate, but only because the costs of medical care generally are growing. Yet Congress has failed to enact commonsense measures to control that growth — such as using Medicare’s market power to negotiate cheaper drug prices.
Medicare and Medicaid are very popular programs. If we’re lucky, Congress and the president might not have to learn the hard way just why that is.
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Raising Medicare Age Will Increase Cost for People of All Ages

(Debra Whitman, AARP Executive Vice President for Policy and International) Raising the Medicare age will increase costs for people of all ages, due to the way insurance rates are calculated. By steering 65 and 66 year olds into the new exchanges, health insurance costs are projected to rise for all who participate, because those markets will be serving a less healthy, costlier population. By keeping this same group out of Medicare Parts B and D, costs will go up for the remaining Medicare beneficiaries, who on average will be less healthy and costlier.
The arithmetic argues against raising the age for Medicare eligibility. A Kaiser study found that in 2014 the proposal would save the federal government $5.7 billion, but it would also foist $11.4 billion in higher spending onto individuals, states, and employers.
We need to work much harder on containing costs in the broader healthcare system, of which Medicare is one part. That's the fair and sustainable way to achieve healthcare savings in the budget.
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Healthy Diet Helps Even Damaged Hearts

(WebMD Health News) A new study shows older people with established heart disease who ate the most heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts had a much lower risk of dying or having another heart attack or stroke than those who ate the unhealthiest diet…
Registered dietitian Angela Ginn says many older people with heart disease think it’s too late or too hard to change their diet. “Often people have old habits of eating certain ways and think, ‘what is the use of change?’” says Ginn… “But this study shows even changing at a later age can have an impact.”
Ginn says making small changes and substitutions can add up to big benefits in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. For example:
·         Incorporate more whole grains by swapping out cereals like corn flakes for whole-grain cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber.
·         Replace sticks of butter with other spreads made with olive oil, canola oil, or other monounsaturated fats.
·         Let fruits and vegetables take up half of the plate at mealtimes.
·         Eat fish at least twice a week.
·         Instead of salt at the table, add an herb or spice for seasoning.
“This study encourages more people to think about changing eating habits instead of thinking, ‘I can take a pill and be fine.’” Ginn says. “Why not think about food first, it not only impacts your heart but how you feel about yourself.”
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Self-care steps can keep your heart healthy during the holidays

(Chicago Tribune) Heart attacks, along with heart problems in general, are more common around the holidays. Various factors can play into this, including stress, travel, changes in diet and disrupted schedules. Fortunately, many self-care steps can help keep your heart healthy.
One of the biggest challenges this time of year is healthy eating. For people with heart problems, choosing a heart-healthy diet amid an abundance of holiday foods can be daunting. But not straying too far from your normal diet is important…
Staying on schedule with your medications can be hard when you switch time zones or when you are away from your daily routines. But taking your medication as prescribed is critical…
As much as possible, continue the self-care you do at home. For example, if you weigh yourself every day to help maintain your fluid balance, find a scale where you can do that. If a walk is part of your routine, invite your family to go with you and enjoy some company along with the exercise.
[I]t's important to keep stress in check. Increased stress can raise a person's risk for a heart attack. ..
If you start to feel sick, seek help.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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