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

Preserving Muscle Mass in Seniors

(International Osteoporosis Foundation) Sarcopenia, or the gradual loss of muscle mass, is a common consequence of aging, and poses a significant risk factor for disability in older adults…
"The most obvious intervention against sarcopenia is exercise in the form of resistance training," said [co-authors of a new review]. "However, adequate nutritional intake and an optimal dietary acid-base balance are also very important elements of any strategy to preserve muscle mass and strength during aging."
The review discusses and identifies the following important nutritional factors that have been shown to be beneficial to the maintenance of muscle mass and the treatment and prevention of sarcopenia:
·         Protein: Protein intake plays an integral part in muscle health. The authors propose an intake of 1.0-1.2 g/kg of body weight per day as optimal for skeletal muscle and bone health in elderly people without severely impaired renal function.
·         Vitamin D: As many studies indicate a role for vitamin D in the development and preservation of muscle mass and function, adequate vitamin D should be ensured through exposure to sunlight and/or supplementation if required. Vitamin D supplementation in seniors, and especially in institutionalized elderly, is recommended for optimal musculoskeletal health.
·         Avoiding dietary acid loads: Excess intake of acid-producing nutrients (meat and cereal grains) in combination with low intake of alkalizing fruits and vegetables may have negative effects on musculoskeletal health. Modifying the diet to include more fruits and vegetables is likely to benefit both bones and muscles.
Emerging evidence also suggests that vitamin B12 and/or folic acid play a role in improving muscle function and strength.
As well, the Review discusses non-nutritional interventions such as hormones, and calls for more studies to identify the potential of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the prevention of sarcopenia.
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After-Meal Exercise May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

(MyHealthNewsDaily) A high-fat meal may not be quite as bad for your body if you exercise shortly afterward, a small study from Japan suggests.
The results show that walking and doing light resistance training one hour after eating a high-fat meal reduces the boost in triglycerides, fats in the blood, normally seen after consuming this type of food. What's more, exercising after eating did a better job of reducing elevations in triglyceride levels than exercising before a meal.
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Exercise-Loving Mice Have Larger Midbrains

(Science Daily) Is athleticism linked to brain size? To find out, researchers at the University of California, Riverside performed laboratory experiments on house mice and found that mice that have been bred for dozens of generations to be more exercise-loving have larger midbrains than those that have not been selectively bred this way.
Theodore Garland's lab measured the brain mass of these uniquely athletic house mice, bred for high voluntary wheel-running, and analyzed their high-resolution brain images. The researchers found that the volume of the midbrain -- a small region of the brain that relays information for the visual, auditory, and motor systems -- in the bred-for-athleticism mice was nearly 13 percent larger than the midbrain volume in the control or "regular" mice…
The cerebellum is important for coordination. The midbrain, a part of the non-cerebellar area that contains a variety of sensory and motor nuclei, is essential for reward learning, motivation and reinforcing behavior. Previously, species of mammals and birds with larger brains have been shown to have higher survivability in novel environments.
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Whole body vibration may help elderly get up and go

(Reuters Health) When the elderly can't exercise, stints on a vibrating platform may help older adults become slightly stronger, faster and more agile, according to a small short-term study.
Exercise is the best option for good health in older age, lead author Alba Gómez Cabello told Reuters Health in an email. But for those unable to perform aerobic exercise, this vibration technique "could be an easy and quick treatment to improve physical fitness."
The method involves standing on top of a flat platform about the size of a boogie board that sends mild vibrations through the feet to the rest of the body, while the person does exercises such as standing or squatting. Bending the knees helps transmit the vibrations, said Cabello.
Community: I use a Power Plate to help fight osteoporosis. They’re very expensive to buy, so the one I use is at a physical rehabilitation facility. They charge me a very reasonable rate to use their machine twice a week (down from three times a week, once I started to build some bone density). The other option was to use one of the machines at a fitness facility, but they wanted way too much money.
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More News, Tips and Research on Exercise and Fitness

(Consumer Reports) Some days you just can't make it to the gym or studio. So why not let your smart device be your trainer? These apps can take you through various kinds of workouts wherever you happen to be.
(U.S. News & World Report) Once you get into the habit of working out, you can save money, as well as enjoy the physical benefits of better health.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) [S]etting aside just 12 minutes a day for yoga can reduce stress - and possibly even decrease inflammation that could impair health. A newly published study from UCLA shows that just eight weeks of practicing Kirtan Kriya Meditation, a yogic chant, resulted in a reduction in inflammation.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The most effective therapies for relieving the pain of arthritis in the knee are aerobic exercise, swimming and strength training. A newly published review of 193 studies … the best and most sustained results were seen among patients who adhered to exercise recommendations from their physicians. Of note, however, is that the investigators reported finding no good evidence to suggest that more intense exercise was better than moderate exercise.
(RealAge.com) Knee pain relief may be minutes-a-day away. Get strong, flexible, healthy knees with these exercises. Stair Step-Ups… Up and Downs… Leg Flexes… Knee Rolls… Hip Extensions.
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Turkey Jambalaya
Andouille sausage adds a kick to the Cajun classic from Louisiana. Rice and shredded turkey absorb a flavorful mixture of tomatoes and spices until they're bursting with flavor.
Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf
Do you like bacon cheeseburgers? Try this healthy meatloaf recipe packed with bacon and Cheddar cheese. It has all the flavor of a bacon cheeseburger with none of the guilt.
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From the Consumer Reports labs: Is bison better for you than beef?

(Consumer Reports) Bison—often referred to incorrectly as buffalo—is touted as healthier than beef. For instance, members of the National Bison Association (NBA) say they follow a code of ethics that prohibits the use of growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics…
The bison rib-eye steak we bought last week ($18.99 per pound) had slightly less marbling than beef rib-eye ($16.99 per pound). The difference in fat became more apparent after pan cooking: The beef steak produced a lot more fat drippings than the bison did…
[Bison is] widely available, so you should be able to find it at a supermarket or butcher near you. And remember, if you want to stick with beef, look for lower-fat cuts, such as top sirloin, or 93 percent lean ground beef.
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Agave vs. honey: Is one better

(Toby Amidor on Foodnetwork.com) Agave nectar has a dark amber color, but has a more neutral flavor than honey. One tablespoon of the sweetener has about 60 calories compared to about 45 and 60 in the same amount of granulated sugar and honey, respectively. It’s 11/2 times sweeter than sugar and so you can use less of it.
The media has hyped up agave because of its low glycemic index (GI of 17) compared with regular sugar (GI of 68) or even honey (GI between 60-74 depending on variety). This low-glycemic index has made agave a favorite among many diabetics. However, according to the American Diabetes Association, agave should be treated just like any sweetener and be consumed in limited amounts…
Agave is a bit more processed and has been over-hyped by the media and built up to be a super-sweetener, but it’s like all the others; use moderately.
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Beans Are Nutrition Powerhouses

(The Supermarket Guru ) Besides being delicious and versatile, virtually all types of beans are nutrition powerhouses…
[They] are rich in protein, folate, magnesium, and protective phytochemicals. Darker-colored beans are richest in heart-healthy, cancer-protective antioxidants, but all beans are beneficial to those looking to improve the nutrient density of their meals. Most beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, and slowly digested carbohydrates, with a gentler, even beneficial, effect on blood-sugar.
Beans are inexpensive, and offer at least six cups of cooked beans for six to twelve servings.
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Health Department's restaurant letter grades coming to Yelp

(New York Post) The popular Web site Yelp is going to post city Health Department letter grades along with its consumer-written restaurant reviews, officials told The Post…
Over the coming weeks, the grades, which many restaurant owners contend are arbitrary and unfair, will be automatically uploaded to the site, which boasts more than 70 million users nationwide.
The A, B, C, fail or “pending’ grades will go live on Yelp’s New York site within several weeks, said company spokeswoman Stephanie Ichinose.
A similar grading policy will go online in San Francisco…, and is expected to be added to the Chicago and Philadelphia sites.
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Premature Reports of Nails in CAM's Coffin: Of Miracles and Money

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) A recent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that coenzyme Q10 is of benefit in congestive heart failure…
[But] according to a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in April of 2000, coenzyme Q10 for heart failure was a dead concept… The final nail had been driven into the CoQ10-for-heart-failure hypothesis 13 years ago -- and yet now, it's back. If that's not a miracle -- then what is going on?...
[T]he many unpatentable modalities in the realm of [complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)] do not inspire huge and costly trials. We need such trials to know for sure what does and doesn't work. In the absence of them, we have absence of evidence, not evidence of absence -- and need to avoid a rush to judgment. I believe at this point that CoQ10 is beneficial in heart failure -- but don't know for sure.
The story of CoQ10's resurrection for heart failure across a span of more than a decade is in fact, not a tale of miracles. It's all about money.
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'Immunize, immunize!': Doctors counter doubts about flu vaccines

(Booster Shots, Los Angeles Times) Hoping to boost those numbers, Drs. Thomas R. Talbot and H. Keipp Talbot…, writing Friday in the journal JAMA, argued against some of the rationales people provide for not getting their flu jab.
Some complain, for example, that the vaccine doesn’t work—citing reports … which showed that this year’s vaccine appears to be 62% effective.  True, Talbot and Talbot wrote, the influenza vaccine is not as effective as other common vaccines.  But, they added,
“not as effective” does not mean “not effective”...a prevention measure that reduced the risk of a serious outcome by 60% in most instances would be a noted achievement; yet for influenza vaccine, it is seen as a “failure.”
Flu vaccines do not cause flu, the physicians wrote…
Egg allergies are no longer necessarily a reason to avoid flu shots, they noted…
“The approach should be to immunize, immunize, immunize!” they concluded.
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More Flu News

(New York Times) This year’s flu season is shaping up to be “worse than average and particularly bad for the elderly,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the nation’s top federal disease-control official, said Friday. But the season appears to have peaked, added Dr. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with new cases declining over most of the nation except for the far West.
(TODAY) As the flu continues to sweep across the nation, the feverish, achy and hacking among us are trudging to stores hoping to find relief in over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications. Unfortunately, some are finding empty store shelves where potent potions used to sit in abundance. "I had someone offer me $10 for the last NyQuil [when I was] in line at Walgreens a few weeks back," says Michelle Meeker, a 45-year-old mother of two from Kent, Wash., who snatched up the over-the-counter cold remedy "just in case" when she saw it was the last bottle on the shelf.
(Science Daily) In recent weeks the intensive critical care units at University Health Network's Toronto General Hospital have used Extra Corporeal Lung Support (ECLS) to support five influenza (flu) patients in their recovery from severe respiratory problems… The ECLS systems are essentially artificial lungs that oxygenate the patient's blood outside the body, which gives lungs the chance to rest and heal.
(Bloomberg) Existing vaccines miss significant quantities of the virus circulating in any given year. This year, for instance, as many as 4 million people may develop influenza from a strain of virus that isn’t included in the current vaccine. Now, Sanofi,GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) are each preparing immunizations that for the first time will cover all four main forms of the virus, including both influenza B strains that often infect children.
(UPI) Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration say they approved a new type of flu vaccine that could be produced in less time than the current method… The vaccine's manufacturer Protein Sciences said Flublok's production involves programming insect cells grown in steel tanks to produce large amounts of a the flu virus protein hemagglutinin -- a method that allows rapid production. The current U.S. method uses eggs and takes months to produce.
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FDA Approves Skin Patch for Migraines

(Medscape Medical News) The FDA has approved the Zecuity (sumatriptan) skin patch system for adults who have migraines with or without aura. The single-use, battery-powered patch offers relief of migraine-related nausea as well as migraine headaches.
Of the 16 million U.S. adults with migraines, 8 million have migraine-related nausea and typically avoid use of oral medications…
When applied to the upper arm or thigh during a migraine and activated with a button, the patch delivers the medicine through the skin, bypassing the stomach.
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It's Legal For Some Insurers To Discriminate Based On Genes

(Shots, NPR) There's a federal law that's supposed to protect people from having their own genes used against them, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA. Under GINA, it's illegal for an employer to fire someone based on his genes, and it's illegal for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of someone's genetic code.
But the law has a loophole: It only applies to health insurance. It doesn't say anything about companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term-care insurance.
"GINA was a fabulous accomplishment," says Robert Green, a researcher in the genetics department at Harvard Medical School. "It was long in coming and much needed. But I think that it was not perfect."
Green oversaw a study that examined how people react after they learn they have ApoE4, a gene associated with Alzheimer's. He found that people who discover they have the gene are five times more likely than the average person to go out and buy long-term-care insurance.
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Medicaid Expansion May Be Key To Restoring State Mental Health Funding

(Stateline, Pew Center on the States) The recent mass killings in Tucson, Aurora and Newtown have sparked public conversations about the deficiencies in state-run mental health systems across the United States. But few states are poised to spend their own money to reverse as much as a decade of budget cutbacks in those areas.
Instead, many of them are counting on an infusion of federal mental-health dollars. Because Medicaid includes mental-health benefits, those states that opt into the Medicaid expansion included in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will be able to make mental health coverage available to thousands of their citizens who do not now have it…
If all states opted into the expansion, an estimated 13 million more Americans would receive mental health benefits through Medicaid next year, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. The number would rise to 17 million in 2022.
“This is a golden opportunity to shore up the state public mental health systems where they have seen these major cuts in the last ten years,” says Joel Miller, senior director of policy and health care reform at the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD).
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HHS Announces $1.5B For State Exchanges

(The Hill) The federal health department announced $1.5 billion in new grants Thursday for states to continue building their insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.
California, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont received funding — either one-or multi-year awards based on their progress in creating the marketplaces.
"These states are working to implement the healthcare law and we continue to support them as they build new affordable insurance marketplaces," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement.
"Starting in 2014, Americans in all states will have access to quality, affordable health insurance and these grants are helping to make that a reality."
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Health Care Rationing Is Nothing New

(Scientific American) Excerpted from Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930, by Beatrix Hoffman:…
Opponents of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act warn that the new health care law will lead to rationing, or limits on medical services. But many observers point out that health care is already rationed in the United States. "We've done it for years," said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for health policy at Emory University School of Medicine. "In this country, we mainly ration on the ability to pay."…
The United States is unique because of the complex, sometimes hidden, and frequently unintended ways it rations care. The United States is also unique among affluent nations because it does not officially recognize a right to health care. Apart from the right to assistance in an emergency room (which has existed only since 1986, and even then only requires that patients be stabilized), Americans have no legal or constitutional right to medical care. Many other nations include a right to health care in their legal or constitutional documents, and virtually all affluent democracies other than the United States provide universal health coverage as a matter of right to their citizens…
Despite the lack of universal health care rights in the United States, the argument that health care should be a right is a powerful one in a country where "inalienable rights" are central to citizenship and national identity. Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama have declared health care to be a right, not just a privilege. Opinion polls for several decades have shown broad public agreement with the statement that access to health care is or should be a right.
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Supplement may help prevent Alzheimer's

(University of Virginia) A nutritional supplement available over-the-counter may offer protection from Alzheimer's disease, a study by the University of Virginia and Northwestern University suggests.
Researchers … set out to evaluate the effectiveness of chiro-inositol, a compound that occurs naturally in certain foods and is available as a nutritional supplement, in protecting the brain from beta amyloid toxins, which cause Alzheimer's. They conclude … that chiro-inositol "greatly enhances" insulin's ability to prevent damage to neurons by toxic peptides called ADDLs. The damage and loss of neurons is believed responsible for Alzheimer's.
The findings indicate potential for a new strategy for developing Alzheimer's disease treatments based on compounds already regarded as safe for human use, the researchers write.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Cognitive Benefit of Lifelong Bilingualism

(Science Daily) Seniors who have spoken two languages since childhood are faster than single-language speakers at switching from one task to another, according to a study… Compared to their monolingual peers, lifelong bilinguals also show different patterns of brain activity when making the switch, the study found.
The findings suggest the value of regular stimulating mental activity across the lifetime. As people age, cognitive flexibility -- the ability to adapt to unfamiliar or unexpected circumstances -- and related "executive" functions decline. Recent studies suggest lifelong bilingualism may reduce this decline -- a boost that may stem from the experience of constantly switching between languages.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Blood pressure drugs may also reduce dementia risk

(USA Today) If you have high blood pressure and haven't treated it yet, consider this: getting it under control may also reduce your risk of dementia, suggests a study out Monday.
Men who had been treated with anti-hypertensive drugs were found in autopsies to have fewer microinfarcts (a sign of small strokes), fewer amyloid plaques and tangles (signs of Alzheimer's disease) and less brain atrophy.
Those on beta blockers, one of the least recommended medicines because of their side effects, had the healthiest brains, compared with other treatments. They had "about half as severe damage,'' says lead author and physician Lon White, but anyone who was treated "fared better than those who had no treatment.''
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Carbohydrates: Bad for the Aging Brain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you want to keep your wits about you as you get older, watch your carb consumption.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic found that seniors age 70 and older whose diets were high in carbohydrates had nearly four times the risk of mild cognitive impairment - a decline in memory, language, thinking and judgment - beyond normal age-related changes. The risks were lowest among seniors whose diets provided a lot of protein and fat relative to carbs…
The study also found that participants whose sugar intake was highest were 1.5 times more likely to experience mild cognitive impairment than those who reported consuming the least sugar.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Passive Smoking May Increase Risk of Severe Dementia

(Science Daily) An international study by scientists in China, the UK and USA has found a link between passive smoking and syndromes of dementia.
The study of nearly 6,000 people in five provinces in China reveals that people exposed to passive smoking have a significantly increased risk of severe dementia syndromes.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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More Recent News and Research on Neurodegenerative Disease

(Science Daily) Women who undergo surgical menopause at an earlier age may have an increased risk of decline in memory and thinking skills, according to a study… Early surgical menopause is the removal of both ovaries before natural menopause and often accompanies a hysterectomy.
(Consumers Union of United States) More than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, an insidious disorder that gradually destroys the brain, robbing people of the ability to remember, complete everyday tasks and function on their own. Several drugs are approved to treat it, including donepezil (Aricept and its generic cousins) and memantine (Namenda). But they don’t work well for most people, according to a report from Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. In fact, the report concluded that none of the drugs could be recommended as a Best Buy.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
(Science Daily) By using synthetic fibrils made from pure recombinant protein, Penn researchers provide the first direct and compelling evidence that tau fibrils alone are entirely sufficient to recruit and convert soluble tau within cells into pathological clumps in neurons, followed by transmission of tau pathology to other inter-connected brain regions from a single injection site in an animal model of tau brain disease.
(Science Daily) In mice with Alzheimer's symptoms, weekly injections of [the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine adjuvant monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL)] over a twelve-week period eliminated up to 80% of senile plaques. In addition, tests measuring the mice's ability to learn new tasks showed significant improvement in cognitive function over the same period.
(Science Daily) While movement problems are the main symptom of Parkinson's disease, a new study shows that even early in the course of disease people frequently experience many non-motor symptoms such as drooling, anxiety and constipation… "Oftentimes people with early Parkinson's don't even mention these symptoms to their doctors, and doctors don't ask about them, yet many times they can be treated effectively," said study author Tien K. Khoo, PhD.
(Science Daily) New research suggests that testing a portion of a person's saliva gland may be a way to diagnose Parkinson's disease… [S] aid study author Charles Adler, MD, PhD, … "We have previously shown in autopsies of Parkinson's patients that the abnormal proteins associated with Parkinson's are consistently found in the submandibular salivary glands, under the lower jaw, and this is the first study demonstrating the value of testing a portion of the saliva gland to diagnose a living person for Parkinson's disease.
(Science Daily) Oxidative stress is a primary villain in a host of diseases that range from cancer and heart failure to Alzheimer's disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Now, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that blocking the interaction of a critical enzyme may counteract the destruction of neurons associated with these neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting a potential new target for drug development…
The new study showed for the first time that the interaction of JNK with a protein known as Sab is responsible for the initial JNK localization to the mitochondria in neurons. The scientists also found blocking JNK mitochondrial signaling by inhibiting JNK interaction with Sab can protect against neuronal damage in both cell culture and in the brain.
(HHS HealthBeat) Researchers say being physically active may benefit the brains as well as the bodies of patients with Parkinson’s disease. At the Cleveland Clinic, Jay Alberts examined brain scan data on 26 patients with the brain disease, which causes shaking and problems with coordination. The patients used stationary bikes for eight weeks. Those who biked faster showed greater connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for sensing and controlling movement.
(Scripps) Using an innovative approach, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have determined the structure of Ltn1, a recently discovered “quality-control” protein that is found in the cells of all plants, fungi and animals. Ltn1 appears to be essential for keeping cells’ protein-making machinery working smoothly. It may also be relevant to human neurodegenerative diseases, for an Ltn1 mutation in mice leads to a motor-neuron disease resembling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).
(University of California - San Diego) Repression of a single protein in ordinary fibroblasts is sufficient to directly convert the cells -- abundantly found in connective tissues -- into functional neurons. The findings … could have far-reaching implications for the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
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Thai Beef Salad
Budget-friendly flank steak paired with traditional Thai flavors gives you a filling salad for dinner that's less than 300 calories.
Crispy Fish Sandwich with Pineapple Slaw
A fish sandwich doesn’t have to be deep-fried to be delicious. Try our healthy crispy fish sandwich recipe with a tangy, zesty pineapple slaw. It’s worth taking the extra minute to chop pineapple slices instead of using crushed pineapple, which is too small and disappears into the slaw. Store-bought shredded cabbage-carrot mix saves time. Look for it in the produce section.
The Supermarket Guru:
Chef Jamie's Winter Soup
Chef Jamie says: There's something very reassuring about a mellow soup of winter vegetables when it's cold outside.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Creamy Tomato Soup
Tomato soup is a comfort food for many people. It is comforting as well to know how nutritious and wholesome it is, particularly when prepared with soymilk. The lycopene in tomatoes has gotten attention recently for its ability to protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. If you can't find juicy, ripe Italian or Roma tomatoes (my personal favorites are Lucini brand), use a high-quality organic tomato (in jars) instead.
Food as Medicine
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that a high dietary intake of tomato products reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels.
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US popcorn beats downturn with premium and healthy variants, report

(Food Navigator) The US popcorn sector has been resilient to a pinched and health-focused economy and is now fuelled by premium-priced healthier variants, according to a new report.
The IBISWorld report forecasts that over the next five years, industry revenue will surge to $1.1bn at around 2.1% a year.
The report said that the popcorn production industry has remained resilient to a host of challenges and is now set to soar on the back of consumer desires for premium, healthier and organic products.
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Giving New Meaning to 'Fruit Snacks'

(Progressive Grocer) Given that the end-all/be-all name of the food retailing game is the endless pursuit to sell the whole store, grocers have a promising reason to ring up healthy sales in 2013 with abundant storewide cross-promotions featuring fresh fruit.
Indeed, a new snacking research report from The NPD Group not only finds fresh fruit placing as the top snack food among Americans, but also one of the fastest growing at retail, in light of growing concerns about health and eating right are contributors to the increasing popularity of fruit as a snack.
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Coke: Wait, People Thought Vitaminwater Was Good for You?

(Tom Philpott, Mother Jones) But not everyone's convinced that [Coca-Cola's Glacéau] vitaminwater does a body good. Back in 2009, the Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Coca-Cola for making "deceptive and unsubstantiated" health claims about the products. In 2010, a US federal district court judge rejected Coca-Cola's motion to dismiss the suit (document here), noting that Coke's lawyers had made a remarkable argument: "At oral argument defendants suggested that no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage."
In other words, no one actually believes our flashy marketing—it's obviously nonsense. The vitaminwater suit still hasn't been resolved, a CSPI spokesperson informed me.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

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How often should you have your cholesterol checked?

(NIH Senior Health, via email) When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it can cause plaque to build up in your arteries, putting you at risk for a heart attack and heart disease. See how often you should have your cholesterol levels checked and learn about tests to check for cholesterol levels.
Also, take this short quiz to see how much you know about high blood cholesterol.
The information on High Blood Cholesterol was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
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Docs Lax in Prescribing Aspirin

(MedPage Today) More than half of cardiovascular patients who could benefit from aspirin for secondary prevention were not prescribed the drug, researchers found…
These data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of the CDC "are sobering" in light of the evidence that aspirin can reduce recurrent major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease, the researchers wrote.
"[E]veryone without a contraindication should receive [aspirin]," they said.
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Should I get the flu shot if I already got sick with the bug this year?

(Consumer Reports) Yes, for several reasons. First, unless you were tested for the flu virus it's possible that your symptoms actually stemmed from the common cold, sinusitis, or some other respiratory illness. And even if you're certain you had the flu, this season's vaccine protects against three strains of the virus. So getting vaccinated lowers your risk of getting sick from the other two strains.
You can even get the flu shot while you have symptoms of a respiratory illness, as long as you don't have a fever.
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Breath Test Could Sniff Out Infections in Minutes

(Observations, Scientific American) Bacteria hiding in the lungs might not be able to hide much longer. Although traditional tests can take days or weeks to culture to determine the presence of certain harmful bacteria—such as those that cause tuberculosis—a much more rapid technique for detecting lung infections might be on the horizon.
Researchers have developed a test that can detect the presence of common infectious bacteria based just on the breath. The test picks up signature volatile organic compound (VOC)—particles emitted in gasses—profiles that the bacteria produce that are distinct those that the body—or other bacteria—give off.
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Recent News on C. Diff Infection

(Science Daily) The impact of antibiotic misuse has far-reaching consequences in healthcare, including reduced efficacy of the drugs, increased prevalence of drug-resistant organisms, and increased risk of deadly infections. A new study … found that many patients with Clostridium difficile infection (C. difficile) are prescribed unnecessary antibiotics, increasing their risk of recurrence of the deadly infection. The retrospective report shows that unnecessary antibiotics use is alarmingly common in this vulnerable patient population.
(USA Today) Just as many consumers turn to probiotics to resolve tummy troubles, doctors today are attempting to restore the body's normal intestinal balance, not with drugs, but with the beneficial microbes excreted by healthy patients. In other words, they're performing fecal transplants, also known euphemistically as "bacteriotherapy." The procedures -- rejected by 10% of eligible patients -- cured 94% of patients, according to [a] study of 43 people.
(Shots, NPR) Doctors in Ontario, Canada, developed [a] synthetic stool — which they call RePOOPulate — to treat people sick with infections from Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause serious, persistent bouts of diarrhea. The germ can take hold after people are treated with antibiotics for other infections. The researchers report … that the treatment with synthetic poop successfully cured two people of their infections.
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Checklists may help avoid surgery oversights: study

(Reuters Health) Having step-by-step checklists on hand may help doctors and nurses manage emergencies in the operating room, a new study suggests.
In situations when a person's heart stops beating on the operating table or a patient begins bleeding uncontrollably, those lists can save time and brainpower, researchers said…
"People have called (checklists) ‘dumbing down' medicine, but what we showed is that even in this incredibly stressful, high-complexity situation, the teams that worked from a kind of pre-planned set of steps had three quarters lower likelihood of missing critical lifesaving steps," he told Reuters Health.
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How to find the best medical information online

(Los Angeles Times) Searching for medical advice online can never replace a visit to a living, breathing doctor, but there are ways to help you weed through the online clutter and get reliable information.
Medical experts say you can't trust any single site to always have the best or most up-to-date information on any condition, but some sites are more likely to be helpful than others.
Several doctors recommended MedlinePlus, a website … sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and managed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It has easy-to-read and understandable definitions and explanations of diseases, drugs and supplements. Each entry is accompanied by links to other sites and research deemed trustworthy by the medical archivists.
Community: Among my favorite sites for looking up information about specific problems and solutions are the Mayo Clinic, Andrew Weil, M.D., and WebMD.
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