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

Phew! You Survived The Mayan Apocalypse. Now What?

(Shots, NPR) Good morning! If you can read this, then we offer our congratulations on surviving the Mayan Apocalypse!...
Before retreating to your secret underground bunker, we prepared the following survival guide to help you make the most of life in the wake of worldwide disaster.
Step 1. Cure That Hangover
So you spent the night partying like the world was coming to an end ... and then it did. Time to rehydrate, maybe pop some aspirin, whatever it takes to get you back on your feet and into full-fledged survivalist mode.
Step 2. Meet Immediate Needs
Start with the basics: water, food,and shelter…
Oh, wait. What? There was no apocalypse, you say?
Um, where's the coffee?
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8 Seasonal Ways To De-Stress

(Huffington Post) As much as we want our holidays to be defined by the simple pleasures of the season, stress often has a way of creeping in -- in fact, one poll found that 90 percent of Americans say they stress over at least one thing during this time of year.
So we rounded up eight ways to relax while still basking in the joy of the holiday season…
Stroll Through A Christmas Tree Farm (Or Fake It)…
Cue Up The Christmas Carols…
Cuddle Up With A Book…
Give A Gift…
Nosh (Or Sip) On Some Chocolate…
Sniff Some Peppermint…
Watch A Holiday Comedy
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7 Secrets of Healthy Holiday Indulgence

Secret #1: Portion Control
Baking individual desserts in a muffin pan is the smart way to pre-portion a rich treat. Each serving is still full of big sweet-salty pleasures.
Secret #2: Keep Servings Small But Satisfying
Use the gorgeous flavors of dried cherries, pungent herbs, and rich port wine to keep servings small but satisfying. 
Secret #3: High-Flavor Ingredients
When you start with high-flavor, nutty-intense Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, you don't need heavy cream or butter to yield a comforting potato dish. 
Secret #4: Indulge in the Best Decadent Chocolate
When indulging in chocolate, indulge in the best. For about the same calories and sat fat as a generic mini candy bar, here are some decadent, two-bite confections. 
Secret #5: Pick One Indulgent Star
Pick one indulgent star, and then surround it with low-fat embelishments. Here, milky-oozy burrata bakes inside crisp phyllo dough and gets a bright flavor boost from garlicky roasted tomatoes. 
Secret #6: Add a Luxurious Topping
Make an already healthy treat—the oysters—extra special with luxurious toppings: crème fraîche sauce and a jewel-like garnish of salty fish roe. 
Secret #7: Make an Expensive Ingredient Affordable
We took an insanely expensive ingredient and found that it makes a treat so rich that it's actually affordable. 
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Light libations lift the holiday mood

(Sara Moulton) How do you cut down the fat and calories in eggnog without losing the drink’s signature richness? More precisely, is there a way to keep it creamy without cream? I tried making eggnog using nonfat milk, both regular and condensed. I even tried thickening the mixture with cornstarch. My daughter Ruthie, a connoisseur of cocktails, rejected both of these strategies…
Ruthie suggested losing the non-fat milk in favor of 2 percent milk, which is still much lighter than cream. That did the trick. Then I added Chai spices, which contributed their own luxurious and exotic notes that work so nicely with the more traditional nutmeg.
My second concoction, Christmas sangria, required much less experimentation, if only because traditional sangria — a mix of wine and fruit — is a fairly healthy punch to begin with. Essentially, all I did was swap out the drink’s usual summertime fruits for their wintertime counterparts — pomegranates, clementines and apples, along with some fresh fruit juice.
Reformatted in this fashion, a warm weather stalwart suddenly looks and tastes just right for the holidays.
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Inexpensive, last-minute gifts for food lovers

(Consumer Reports) Got someone on your list who loves good food? Consider one of these products, all of which did well in our recent tests. Even better, they're inexpensive, ranging from $6 to $60.
Trader Joe's California Estate olive oil. Just $6 for a 16.9-ounce bottle. It was excellent in our tests: strong, complex, and very fresh-tasting. It pairs especially well with bread and salad, our testers say.
Columbia Crest Grand Estates cabernet sauvignon and Bogle chardonnay. Both scored Very Good in our wine taste tests and were just $10 per bottle. We assessed 2008 and 2009 vintages, respectively, though more recent vintages shouldn't differ very much.
Norman Love Confections Signature Gift Box. At $49, it offers 25 excellent candies that include unusual fillings such as peanut butter and jelly, as well as truffles, creams, nut bits, and fruit purées. Shipping is extra and pricey ($36). See our reviews of other chocolates.
Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 blender and food chopper. Excellent at making smooth icy drinks, chopping foods, and puréeing soup, the $60 machine has interchangeable containers and blades that make the combo blender and food chopper easy to use.
Want more healthy gift ideas? See what's on the wish list from our health experts
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Cooking Light:
101 Healthy Soups
Nothing can beat cuddling up with a warm bowlful on a chilly night. There is bound to be something for everyone on our extensive list of favorite soups.
Honey-Ginger Glazed Salmon with Arugula Salad
Serve an elegant, company-worthy dinner in just 40 minutes. A mixture of lemon juice, honey, ginger, and garlic acts as both a marinade and a glaze for the salmon.
French Onion Beef Tenderloin
We took the comforting flavors of French onion soup and turned them into an easy bistro-style steak dinner. Tender filet mignon gets smothered with sweet caramelized onions and topped by a crispy, Swiss cheese-covered crostini. To double this recipe use 2 large skillets and prepare one 4-serving recipe in each. Serve with green beans and mashed potatoes with buttermilk and chives.
Chicken and Lentil Soup
This hearty, quick-cooking stew tastes as if it had been simmered for hours.
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Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Vegetarians (Video)

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Although Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid includes fish and seafood for their omega-3 fatty acids, here he explains how his principles can be adapted to a vegetarian diet.
Looking for more videos? Check out Dr. Weil's YouTube channel for more videos.
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Engineered Fish Moves a Step Closer to Approval

(New York Times) Government regulators moved a big step closer on Friday to allowing the first genetically engineered animal — a fast-growing salmon — to enter the nation’s food supply.
The Food and Drug Administration said it had concluded that the salmon would have “no significant impact” on the environment. The agency also said the salmon was “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon.” While the agency’s draft environmental assessment will be open to public comment for 60 days, it seems likely that the salmon will be approved, though that could still be months away.
The environmental assessment is dated May 4. It is unclear why it took until now for it to be released, but supporters of the salmon say they believe it is because the Obama administration was afraid of an unfavorable consumer reaction before the election in November.
Environmental and consumer groups quickly criticized the federal agency’s conclusions.
“The G.E. salmon has no socially redeeming value,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, a Washington advocacy group opposed to farm biotechnology, said in a statement. “It’s bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment. F.D.A.’s decision is premature and misguided.”
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Omega-3 Pills No Help in Taming Atrial Fibrillation

(MedPage Today) Another strike has occurred against omega-3 fatty acids with the finding that supplementation does not help prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation (Afib), according to results from the randomized FORWARD trial.
At 1 year, there was no difference between the effect of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in patients with symptomatic paroxysmal Afib, or recent cardioversion for persistent Afib, and patients taking a placebo, reported Alejandro Macchia, MD.
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A Question About Aspirin And Age-Related Vision Loss

(Shots, NPR) About 20 percent of adults take aspirin regularly, either to ease pain or to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
But taking aspirin might increase the risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in old age, according to a study of nearly 5,000 people in Wisconsin.
Nobody wants to go blind. So does this mean it's time to give up on aspirin? Not at all, say ophthalmologists.
"It doesn't prove that taking aspirin causes macular degeneration," says Dr. Abdhish Bhavsar, clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology "We have no idea if they're related, and we have no idea if there's a cause and effect," says Bhavsar.
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Surgical Errors Occur More Than 4000 Times A Year In The US

(Medical News Today) Events that should never occur in surgery ("never events") happen at least 4,000 times a year in the U.S. according to research from Johns Hopkins University.
The [finding] is the first of its kind to reveal the true extent of the prevalence of "never events" in hospitals through analysis of national malpractice claims. [The researchers] observed that over 80,000 "never events" occurred between 1990 and 2010.
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Merck: Niacin Drug Mix Fails To Prevent Heart Attacks, Strokes

(Shots, NPR) Niacin, a B vitamin that raises "good" cholesterol, has failed to benefit heart disease patients when taken in tandem with a statin drug that lowers "bad" cholesterol, according to drug maker Merck.
Patients taking the niacin-statin combo had no fewer heart attacks, strokes or artery-clearing procedures than those taking simvistatin alone, the company said Thursday. And it may have caused serious harm to some of the 25,000 patients in Europe and China involved in the study.
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Does Changing the Price of Medicine Influence Consumers' Perceived Health Risk?

(Science Daily) Consumers assume their risk of getting a serious illness is higher when medications are cheaper because they believe that prices for life-saving products are based on need and not profit, according to a new study…
"When consumers see lower prices for a life-saving product, they infer a higher need and thereby a greater risk that they can contract the disease. On the other hand, higher prices signal that a drug or treatment is inaccessible and thus the risk of getting a disease must not be all that great," write [the] authors.
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Rogue pharmacists fuel addiction

(Los Angeles Times) Pharmacists are supposed to be a last line of defense against misuse of prescription medications. By law, they are required to scrutinize prescriptions, size up customers and refuse to dispense a drug when they suspect the patient has no medical need for it.
Some, however, provide massive amounts of painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs to addicts and dealers with no questions asked, according to state records, regulators and law enforcement officials.
Rogue pharmacists are key enablers of drug abuse and an important source of supply for the illegal market.
State officials who license and oversee pharmacies are overmatched by the scale of the problem.
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Firm in fungal outbreak files for bankruptcy

(Vitals, NBC News) The compounding pharmacy blamed for 620 infections and 39 deaths in an outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections caused by contaminated drugs filed for bankruptcy Friday, and pledged to establish a fund to compensate victims. 
The New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Mass., faces more than 400 lawsuits from patients who received epidural steroid injections later found to be tainted with fungus linked to serious and lethal infections, records showed.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Massachusetts district bankruptcy court. 
In a statement issued late Friday, the company said the goal of the bankruptcy is to provide a "greater, quicker, fairer payout" to creditors than could be achieved through "piecemeal" litigation. 
Community: What better way to avoid paying the families of those killed by the criminal negligence of the owners of this company than to bankrupt it? Owners of companies shouldn’t be able to shield their riches from accountability for their criminal behavior. I hope the families go after all the owners individually.
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Gun lobby has squelched injury prevention research, doctors charge

(Los Angeles Times) One week after 20-year-old Adam Lanza used guns to kill 20 first-graders and seven adults before shooting himself, two physicians published a Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. asking what the medical and public health community can do to prevent massacres like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., from being repeated.
“What actions can the nation take to prevent more such acts from happening, or at least limit their severity?” they wrote. “More broadly, what can be done to reduce the number of US residents who die each year from firearms, currently more than 31,000 annually?”
These are trick questions. If you keep reading, you’ll learn that the gun lobby and members of Congress who share its views have made a concerted effort to stifle research on preventing injuries and deaths that are due to guns…
 “The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens,” [the authors] conclude. “Perhaps the same straightforward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence. Otherwise, the heartache that the nation and perhaps the world is feeling over the senseless gun violence in Newtown will likely be repeated, again and again.”
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Medicare Starts To Reward Quality, Not Quantity, Of Care

(Shots, NPR) It's no longer enough for hospitals to just send a bill to Medicare and get paid.
The nation's biggest insurer is starting to dole out bonuses and penalties to nearly 3,000 hospitals as it ties almost $1 billion in payments to the quality of care provided to patients.
In what amounts to a nationwide competition, Medicare compared hospitals on how faithfully they followed basic standards of care and how patients rated their experiences. Medicare disclosed on Thursday how individual hospitals will fare when the program, created by the federal health law, begins in January…
It's not clear that the new payment program will significantly improve hospitals. Some studies of similar incentive programs have found that the improvements ended up not being any better than those of hospitals that weren't prodded financially. Nonetheless, the program is here to stay and is going to expand over the next few years, putting more money into play and adding new quality measures, including patient death rates.
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Medicare: A Plan B for Part D

(Los Angeles Times) One of the most popular benefits of Medicare is the Part D prescription drug program, which enables seniors and the disabled to buy taxpayer-subsidized coverage for many of the most widely prescribed medicines. When it created the costly benefit in 2003, though, Congress provided no way to pay for the subsidies, which have cost more than $300 billion so far. Worse, it barred the government from negotiating with drug makers for better prices — an extra gift to the pharmaceutical industry, which already stood to gain from the increased demand for its newly subsidized products. Now that policymakers are casting about for ways to save money on Medicare, they should allow it to take advantage of its market power…
[T]he competition harnessed by Part D undoubtedly lowers costs to some extent. Today, insurers negotiate with drug manufacturers for discounts to help lower their premiums; not surprisingly, economists have found that the more beneficiaries an insurer signs up, the deeper the discounts it obtains.
So why not let Medicare negotiate directly on behalf of all its beneficiaries, as the Veterans Administration does?...
Lifting the ban on Medicare negotiating drug prices wouldn't solve the program's long-run fiscal problems, but it could save billions of dollars annually — particularly on treatments for which there are many alternatives. That's reason enough for Congress to take back the gift it gave the pharmaceutical industry nine years ago.
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Must Santa lose weight? Not if he's active

(UPI) This time of year, Santa Claus is often criticized for being chubby and plump, but a U.S. nutrition professor says weight is just one risk factor to monitor…
Beth Kitchin, an assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said on her health and wellness blog, the Kitchin Sink[,] "Studies show that fitness level is an important measure of someone's health, not just weight, so maybe a few extra pounds on a treasured icon aren't such a bad thing."
Other health markers Santa needs to achieve to maintain good health regardless of weight include: appropriate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, low cholesterol and blood triglycerides.
"There is evidence that older people often do better with a little extra weight," Kitchin said. "We know that Santa gets plenty of exercise on Christmas Eve, but he needs to be walking or snowshoeing at least 30 minutes on most days of the week as well."
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Exercise can extend lifespan by five years

(UPI) Non-Hispanic black women gain up to 5.5 potential years of life through leisure-time physical activity, Canadian and U.S. researchers found…
Similar observations were made in non-Hispanic white women, who had a higher life expectancy within the active category of 3 years at age 20 years and 1.6 years at age 80.
The study … found non-Hispanics could expect to gain 2.3 to 5.6 hours of life for every hour of moderate physical activity, and 5.2 to 11.3 hours of life for every hour of vigorous physical activity they accumulate during adulthood.
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Exercise and Major Depression

(RealAge.com) Science shows that being active can improve your physical and mental health and make positive changes in your brain chemistry…
In addition to stimulating new nerve growth and improving your ability to think, remember, and learn, exercise boosts serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins in your brain. These neurotransmitters help you calm down and focus. In studies, exercise therapy has also shown an antidepressant effect…
Shoot for at least 2 1/2 hours of exercise in a week. Strength training counts toward that time, too. Just remember to check with your doctor first, especially if you have another medical condition.
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More Recent Research on Exercise

(The People’s Pharmacy) Blood sugar rises after meals, whether you have diabetes or not. A new study shows, however, that walking after eating can have a significant effect on moderating blood sugar rise.
(Salt Lake Tribune) David Strayer pondered the value of respites from the real world during trips to southern Utah starting two decades ago… "We start to think differently when out in nature. Our thoughts become more clear, more coherent, not as fragmented," Strayer said… [A study by Strayer and others showed that] backpackers scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after four days in nature and away from smartphones, iPods and laptops.
(Science Daily) The physical benefits of regular exercise and remaining physically active, especially as we age, are well documented. However, it appears that it is not only the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too. The evidence for this is published in a new review…, which focuses on the importance of physical activity in keeping and potentially improving cognitive function throughout life.
(Chicago Tribune) [A study] followed 67 Parkinson's patients in three different exercise regimens: One group did high-intensity treadmill exercise (30 minutes at 70 to 80 percent of heart rate reserve), a second did lower-intensity treadmill (50 minutes at 40 to 50 percent of heart rate reserve) and the third did stretching and resistance exercises (such as leg press, three times a week for three months). All three types of physical exercise improved functioning. Even strengthening exercises improved walking abilities. It was encouraging to see that even lower-intensity aerobic exercise can significantly improve walking abilities.
(RealAge.com) You probably know that gentle exercise can prevent and ease back pain by building strength and flexibility. But get this: Activity also seems to encourage new cell growth inside your discs. That's great news, because after age 30, your pillow-like spine protectors start shrinking (one reason roughly 85% of us have back pain at some point). Which moves are best? Try these.
(Daily Mail) A study of women from North Carolina revealed 40 per cent admitted to avoiding exercise because they didn't want to ruin their hair-dos… Those who avoided exercise because of their hair were almost three times less likely to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines… The survey only looked at black women so it is not yet known if the issue is shared by all women.
Community: Best to come up with a hairdo that doesn’t interfere with things that are important to our health.
(Reuters) The word "detoxification" is flung around the fitness community as frequently as kettlebells are swung. Yoga teachers regularly speak of detoxifying twists, aerobics instructors of detoxifying sweat, dieters of detoxifying fasts. But health professionals are skeptical. "If you start talking about exercising to detoxify, there's no scientific data," said Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, chief of women's sports medicine at Harvard Medical School. "The human body is designed to get rid of what we don't need."
(UPI) Middle-age men need to set realistic expectations and understand what the body and mind will experience with a new exercise plan, a U.S. researcher warns. "If you haven't been exercising for a while, you need to start slow and develop a fitness base," Marcas Bamman, a professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham and director of the Center for Exercise Medicine, said in a statement. "Doing too much too fast is a recipe for injury." Bamman said most people begin to see positive benefits from exercise within about a month, and many early benefits are psychological: People report they feel more alert and have more energy.
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6 Delicious Christmas Dishes That Won't Bust Your Diet!
'Tis the season for eating, drinking, and making merry with friends and family. But don't let the holiday hustle and bustle derail your diet. With Christmas just a few weeks away, it's time to start planning a healthy menu of delicious and nutritious yuletide fare. We've rounded up a selection of South Beach Diet-friendly holiday recipes that will help you celebrate this festive time of year with truly memorable meals.
Quick Chicken and Dumplings
In this recipe, flour tortillas stand in for the traditional biscuit dough. To quickly thaw frozen mixed vegetables, place them in a colander and rinse with warm water for about a minute.
Seared Scallops with Crispy Leeks
Herb-crusted scallops served with crispy baked leeks make an easy yet impressive dish to serve to friends. You may have seen “frizzled” or fried leeks on a restaurant menu before, but you might not guess how easy they are to make at home. Here we toss thinly sliced leeks with paprika- and garlic-seasoned flour and bake them until crispy. While the leeks bake you have time to sear the scallops. Serve with: Mashed potatoes and kale sautéed with garlic.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Sicilian Tuna Melt
Courtesy of Chef Brandon Boudet from Little Dom's in Los Feliz, Los Angeles this Italian take on an American classic is sure to please.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Andy's Cortes Mixed Berry Crisp
My summer home on Cortes Island, British Columbia, is berry heaven, with a succession of varieties - strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries, tayberries, blueberries and finally blackberries at the end of the season.  A mixture of berries or all of one kind works well in this crisp covered with an almond-flavored topping.  In the autumn, use a combination of sliced apples and fresh cranberries. Almond paste is available in the supermarket baking section; arrowroot powder in the spice section. For a vegan version, substitute Spectrum Spread for the butter.
Food as Medicine: Berries are almost certainly the healthiest form of fruit. They are relatively low in sugar, and extraordinarily rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. A class of phytonutrients in berries known as ellagitannins appears to be able to begin the cycle of programmed cell death, known as apoptosis, in cancer cells.
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Acid Reflux Triggers: Holiday Edition

(Huffington Post) Between the rich treats, celebratory drinks and free days to laze about, the holidays are prime time for heartburn…
Avoid foods that exacerbate stomach acid production and make sure to follow these tips geared toward the particularly heartburn-hazardous holidays:
·         DON'T Overdo It…
·         DON'T Finish Your Meal With An Espresso…
·         DO Fill Up On Appetizers…
·         DO Avoid Rich, Fatty Dishes…
·         DO Minimize Your Drinking…
·         DON'T Eat Late At Night…
·         DON'T Unwrap That Candy Cane…
·         DON'T Unwrap That Chocolate Orange…
·         DO Offer To Do The Dishes…
·         DO Come Prepared… Make sure you know what treatment protocol works for you and have it with you on the road.
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Beef Steering Food Prices Higher Says Food Institute

(The Supermarket Guru) Beef will be a major factor in rising food costs as wholesale prices are already on the rise after being tempered by an increase in slaughtering activity in the Fall as producers were faced with higher feed costs. The Food Institute foresees retail prices will be headed higher through February next year as the accompanying chart portrays.
And as has been widely noted in the press, the November average Retail Choice beef price, at $5.15 per pound, was well above October’s price and set a new record. Those higher costs will likely mean less beef is consumed in 2013 than prior years, and USDA is projecting per capita consumption of beef will drop over two pounds in 2013, to 52.5 pounds per person.
Community: Most Americans should be eating less beef, anyway. Beans are cheaper and healthier.
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7 walnuts a day deliver health benefits

(UPI) Walnuts may be considered the king of nuts for health benefits, with a combination of more healthful and higher quality antioxidants, U.S. researchers say.
"Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts," Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania said in a statement. "A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet."
Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits. They contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and they are dairy- and gluten-free.
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Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

(The Salt, NPR) Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?
Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.
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Popular TV Chef Recipes 'Less Healthy' Than Supermarket Ready Meals

(Science Daily) Recipes created by popular television chefs contain significantly more energy, protein, fat, and saturated fat and less fibre per portion than supermarket ready meals, finds a study…
The authors suggest including nutritional information on recipes in cookery books. Consideration should also be given to regulation of the recipes demonstrated by television chefs similar to that limiting advertisement of foods classified as high in fat, salt, or sugar, they add.
By 2020, it is estimated that over 70% of adult in the United Kingdom and the United States will be overweight, boosting rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Previous studies suggest that both supermarket ready meals and television chef recipes influence many peoples' diets, but no [previous] study has comprehensively examined the nutritional content of either.
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Menopause quality of life unchanged by soy supplements

(Reuters Health) Menopausal women who took soy supplements during a two-year trial reported no differences in quality of life compared to their counterparts taking placebo pills, U.S. researchers report.
It's possible that soy could still offer women some benefits through menopause, said the study's lead author Dr. Paula Amato, from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, "but I think if you are similar to the subjects in the study, then probably taking supplements isn't going to make a huge impact on your quality of life."
In light of health concerns attached to taking hormones, soy has been seen as an attractive alternative for relieving menopausal symptoms. But research on the effectiveness of soy extracts for hot flashes and other bothersome symptoms has yielded conflicting results so far.
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Chips expand beyond potato and corn; a garden awaits

(Los Angeles Times) Move over, potato and corn chips. There's a cornucopia of other vegetables making its way to the grocery store snack aisle.
Whether it's black bean chips or dehydrated cabbage, sprouted sweet potato tortilla crisps or baked and salted peas, the options in the $560-billion global snack food market are expanding along with the waistlines of Americans and their desire to eat more healthfully.
"For me, it's about eating smart but not giving up things that taste good," said Doug Foreman, founder of Beanitos, in Austin, Texas. Since launching its line of black bean chips in 2010, Beanitos has become the fastest-growing natural snack chip on the market, according to Spins, a natural product research firm.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

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Infectious Disease Update

(MedPage Today) A dog trained to recognize the odor associated with Clostridium difficile infection successfully identified the pathogen in stool samples and also in infected patients, Dutch researchers reported.
(MedPage Today) The insides of sharks may be harboring drug-resistant bacteria, but apparently, the outsides are doing just the opposite. Now, a synthetic surface designed to mimic the bacterial-resistant properties of shark skin is making its way into medical devices and hospitals.
(New York University School of Medicine) A new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers suggests that an existing HIV drug called maraviroc could be a potential therapy for Staphylococcus aureus, a notorious and deadly pathogen linked to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year.
(Science Daily) A fast growing, flesh-eating fungus killed 5 people following a massive tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., according to two new studies based on genomic sequencing… Health officials should be aware of infections caused by the fungus Apophysomyces, according to the studies… The common fungus -- which lives in soil, wood or water -- usually has no effect on people. But once it is introduced deep into the body through a blunt trauma puncture wound, it can grow quickly if the proper medical response is not immediate, the studies said.
(Science Daily) The plague-causing bacteria Yersinia pestis evades detection and establishes a stronghold without setting off the body's early alarms. New discoveries … help explain how the stealthy agent of Black Death avoids tripping a self-destruct mechanism inside germ-destroying cells… The Yersinia survival strategy against the programmed death that could kill it and its host cell may offer ideas for vaccine development, [microbiologist Dr. Brad] Cookson said.
More . . .

Guidelines: Guides to Profit?

(MedPage Today) Doctors with financial ties to drug companies have heavily influenced treatment guidelines, an analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today has found.
Critics say those financial relationships have corrupted the guideline process so that the end products, make dangerous or ineffective recommendations.
Industry and some doctors counter that those with conflicts are often top experts in their field.
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Employer Health Insurance Premiums Increased 62 Percent from 2003 to 2011

(Commonwealth Fund) Average premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance plans rose 62 percent between 2003 and 2011, from $9,249 to $15,022 per year, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The report, which tracks state trends in employer health insurance coverage, finds that health insurance costs rose far faster than incomes in all states. Workers are also paying more out-of-pocket as employee payments for their share of health insurance premiums rose by 74 percent on average and deductibles more than doubled, up 117 percent between 2003 and 2011.
The report, State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003–2011: Eroding Protection and Rising Costs Underscore Need for Action, finds that total health insurance premiums now amount to 20 percent or more of annual median family incomes in 35 states, affecting 80 percent of the U.S. working-age population. States in the South and South-Central U.S. had the highest costs relative to household income—in West Virginia, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas, average total health insurance premiums amounted to more than 25 percent of median incomes.
“Wherever you live in the United States, health insurance is expensive, and for many middle- as well as low-income families it is becoming ever less affordable,” said Commonwealth Fund senior vice president Cathy Schoen, lead author of the report. “Workers are paying more for less financial protection when they get sick. The steady increase in health care costs over the past decade underscores the urgent need to build on the groundwork laid by the Affordable Care Act to slow the growth in private insurance costs.”
Community: Other countries pay much less for their health care and for most diseases have better outcomes. Why aren’t we demanding better?
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Making The Rich Pay More For Medicare

(Shots, NPR) When it comes to reducing Medicare spending, asking wealthier seniors to pay more is one of the few areas where Democrats have shown a willingness to even consider the subject.
"I do believe there should be means testing. And those of us with higher income in retirement should pay more," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on last Sunday's Meet the Press. "That could be part of the solution."
Robert Moffit of the conservative Heritage Foundation says it will have to be part of the solution if Medicare is to withstand the onslaught of 78 million baby boomers.
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South Carolina Lawmakers Propose 5-Year Jail Sentence for 'Obamacare' Implementation

(U.S. News & World Report) Nullification is yet again picking up steam in Dixie.
Pursuing an archaic legal theory that punctuated pre-Civil War disputes between the federal government and states, South Carolina state Rep. Bill Chumley last week pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would criminalize implementation of President Barack Obama's 2010 healthcare reform law.
If his bill becomes law, any state official caught enforcing the healthcare law would be guilty of a misdemeanor and "must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."
Federal officials caught enforcing the law, however, would be given stiffer punishment under the proposal.
Any federal employee or contractor enforcing the law "is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both," the bill proposes.
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Intensive Program May Reverse Diabetes

(MedPage Today) Intense lifestyle-based weight-loss interventions were associated with a partial remission of diabetes, researchers found.
Compared with an education and support intervention for diabetes patients, those engaged in an intense weight-loss and lifestyle intervention were more likely to experience any remission at year 1 (11.5% versus 7.3%...), and were more likely to see that remission continuously sustained over 3 years of measurements (9.2%, 6.4%, and 3.5% versus 1.7%, 1.3%, and 0.5%, respectively), according to Edward Gregg, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues…
Patients diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes frequently ask if their condition is reversible, and "some physicians may provide hopeful advice that lifestyle change can normalize glucose levels," they wrote in the introduction to their findings. "However, the rate of remission of type 2 diabetes that may be achieved using nonsurgical approaches has not been reported."
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