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

Health, Responsibility, and Power

(David L. Katz, MD, Yale Prevention Research Center) I can't say exactly at what point between a Stone Age environment (see “Physical Activity and Modernization: Heart Disease Indicators Almost Non-Existent Among Tsimane, Indigenous Population”, where there is no choice but to eat naturally and be active, and an exaggerated modern world, in which the opportunities to do either no longer exist, the role of personal responsibility becomes moot. I rather doubt you can either. For now, all we need to agree on is that … there is a line crossed somewhere. We needn't decide exactly where that line is to know there must be one.
Once we acknowledge there is a line, what we are really saying is this: Personal responsibility matters, and can compensate for environmental challenges up to some point. Beyond that point, the average human endowment of personal responsibility is no longer enough to carry the day. Much beyond the point, even the most supreme examples among us may no longer be up to the task.
Which invites consideration of another matter: the average endowment of personal responsibility. For one thing, we have no indication it has changed over the years during which epidemic obesity and diabetes have developed…
We all seem to embrace the pop culture wisdom that with great power, comes great responsibility. It's past time to embrace the corollary: To take responsibility, we must be suitably empowered.
How much is suitable? Hard to say—but asking the question is a good start. And a good initial answer might be: enough to meet average needs.
Community: Call it coddling and nannying all you want, right wingers, but the issue of making the healthy option easier than the unhealthy one has to be a public health concern, and government has to be involved. Personal responsibility for personal choice is no match for the billions of dollars spent on advertising to entice us into unhealthy habits. We need more government actions like this one: “New rules aim to get rid of junk foods in schools.”
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69% of People Track Health Stats, But Often Without a Gadget

(Mashable) AA new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows 69% of U.S. adults track some sort of health indicator for themselves or a loved one, such as exercise routine, weight, diet, blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches or sleep patterns.
With the proliferation of fitness tracking devices, you might be surprised to know that at least in this survey, only 21% of the respondents said they used a gadget, app or website to track this information. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said they keep this information in their heads. Thirty-four percent say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal.
Community: I keep a file of my test results. For the rest, I use this blog.
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Some Basic Principles of Healthy Eating

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Variety and quality are two essentials when it comes to eating well and reducing your risk of chronic disease… While the basic principles of healthy eating are quite simple, unfortunately the majority of Americans fail to follow them, and we’re paying the price in terms of our nation’s current epidemics of obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes. If you want to improve your eating habits, consider these principles…
Embrace variety. Don’t base your diet predominantly on just a few foods…
Evaluate the foods you eat. Pay attention to the quality of the carbohydrates, protein, and fats you eat and learn how your food is produced…
Avoid empty-calorie foods and beverages
Be aware that calories count, but … stop obsessing about calories, grams of fat, carbohydrates, protein, or anything else.
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What to Eat for a Healthy Heart

(SouthBeachDiet.com) [Says] Dr. Arthur Agatston, leading preventive cardiologist and author of The South Beach Heart Health Revolution and The South Beach Wake-Up Call[:] "One of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease is to practice heart-healthy eating," he says. "By enjoying the wide range of nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods that we emphasize on the South Beach Diet, you automatically take a big step toward reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke."
Here are Dr. Agatston’s basic guidelines for heart-healthy eating:
Eat good carbohydrates. Good carbs include high-fiber, nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Eat good fats. Choose good unsaturated fats found in extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Good fats can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring.
Eat lean protein. The best sources include skinless white-meat poultry, fish and shellfish, lean cuts of meat, and soy-based options such as tofu, as well as legumes, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Eat fat-free or reduced-fat dairy. Your best choice for dairy products is fat-free or reduced-fat varieties of milk, cheese, and yogurt. These dairy products have less saturated fat and calories than the whole-milk versions.
If you follow these basic guidelines, you can put together delicious, satisfying, and healthy meals and snacks — and take an important step toward a healthier heart.
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Enjoy Healthy Dining – Surviving Restaurants

(Mark Hyman, MD) How to Order at a Restaurant
Be obnoxious!  Be clear about your needs and do not accept any food that does not nourish or support you…
Have an opinion. Choose the restaurant, if possible, when dining with others. 
Tell the server you do not want bread on the table nor the alcohol menu. But do ask for raw cut-up veggies without dip.
Ask for water. Drink 1-2 glasses before your meal to reduce your appetite.
Tell the server you will die if you have gluten or dairy.  Not a lie – just a slow death.
Ask for simple food preparation.  Order grilled fish with an entire plate of steamed vegetables drizzled with olive oil and lemon.  Always ask for olive oil and lemon in lieu of dressing.
Skip the starches.  Ask for double vegetables.
Avoid sauces, dressings, and dips. They are usually laden with hidden sugars, unhealthy oils, gluten, and dairy.
Honor responsible portion sizes.  Always combine a carbohydrate with some fiber, protein, or anti-inflammatory fats. Never carb it alone!
Focus on protein. Choosing your protein first is really helpful to ensure your blood sugar will be balanced and you will eat the right portion size.
Ask for berries for dessert.
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Healthy Ways to Tackle Super Bowl Sunday
Are you ready for some football? Fans across the country are gearing up for the biggest game of the year, and for many, this also means hosting or attending a Super Bowl party. It's no secret that Super Bowl shindigs tend to offer some of the unhealthiest party foods around, from fat-laden chips, dips, and Buffalo wings to pizza and beer. But there's no need to derail your diet this Super Bowl Sunday! Just prepare South Beach Diet-friendly versions of your favorite celebratory football fare…
It is recommended that women limit their intake to one alcoholic beverage a day, and men, to one to two a day. Check out our alcohol dos and don'ts for more guidelines.
Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta
Cook the polenta while the ragù simmers so everything will be ready and hot at the same time. Use mild sausage, if you prefer.
Reuben Meatloaf
Inspired by the classic Reuben sandwich, this nontraditional, healthy Reuben meatloaf recipe includes sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and rye breadcrumbs.
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Heartburn relief strategy for Big Game day

(UPI) Spicy, fatty, greasy food and excess alcohol found in a typical Super Bowl spread provide the perfect recipe for heartburn, a U.S. digestive specialist says.
Dr. Deepak Agrawal of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said there are several medications to address heartburn, but it helps to avoid foods that cause heartburn -- cheese, grease and fat-laden foods such as pizza, chili, wings, burgers and cheese-laden nachos…
People who know they will be indulging could try a histamine receptor blocker -- H2 blocker -- which slows the production of stomach acid. They are generally available over the counter, Agrawal said.
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Home food safety key to preventing illness

(UPI) A report this week found food-borne pathogens on salad greens make the most people sick, but U.S. experts say use proper food handling, don't avoid produce…
[Rachel Begun, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics] encouraged Americans to visit www.HomeFoodSafety.org for how to reduce the risk of food poisoning, and offered the following advice:
-- Properly wash all fresh fruits and vegetables, whether they have a peel or not, with cool tap water just before eating.
-- Cut away any damaged or bruised areas before preparing or eating. Remove and discard outer leaves of lettuce.
-- Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.
-- Cut all fruits and vegetables on a separate cutting board from raw meats and fish.
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New Study Highlights Impact of Environmental Change on Older People

(Science Daily) Recent natural disasters illustrate vulnerability of older people: majority of deaths from the Great East Japan Earthquake (2011) and Hurricane Katrina (2005) occurred among older people.
Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York and Simon Fraser University's Gerontology Research Centre in Canada are calling for better awareness among policy makers and the public of the impact climate change and deteriorating environmental quality will have on an ageing population…
The report calls for appropriate policies to encourage older people to reduce their personal contribution to environmental change, to protect older people from environmental threats, and to mobilise their wealth and knowledge and experience in addressing environmental problems.
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Measuring the Consequence of Forest Fires on Public Health

(Science Daily) Pollution from forest fires is impacting the health of people with asthma and other chronic obstructive lung diseases, finds a study…
Researchers from British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and University of British Columbia used dispensary records to find out if forest fires caused an increase in use of short acting beta agonist (SABA) such as salbutamol.  Salbutamol sulphate is typically used as an inhaler to relive symptoms of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other obstructive lung diseases.
What they found was that pollution due to forest fires increased the need for salbutamol for up to 4 days after the fire – even a relatively small increase in smoke (10µg/m3 increase in PM2.5)  was associated with a 6% increase in salbutamol dispensations. 
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Next-generation CT scanner provides better images with minimal radiation

(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) A new computed tomography (CT) scanner substantially reduces potentially harmful radiation while still improving overall image quality. National Institutes of Health researchers, along with engineers at Toshiba Medical Systems, worked on the scanner. An analysis of data on 107 patients undergoing heart scans found that radiation exposure was reduced by as much as 95 percent compared to the range of current machines, while the resulting images showed less blurriness, reduced graininess, and greater visibility of fine details.
The machine recently received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but more studies will be needed before it can be adopted for wide clinical use.
“CT scans are a great diagnostic tool for heart disease because we can obtain high-resolution 3-D images of the heart quickly and non-invasively,” said coauthor Andrew Arai, M.D., chief of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Branch at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “However, the benefits of CT have been tempered by concerns over the radiation required to achieve these images. With this next-generation device, we are close to achieving the best of both worlds.”
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Genetically Modified Tobacco Plants Produce Antibodies to Treat Rabies

(Science Daily) Smoking tobacco might be bad for your health, but a genetically altered version of the plant might provide a relatively inexpensive cure for the deadly rabies virus. In a new research report…, scientists produced a monoclonal antibody in transgenic tobacco plants that was shown to neutralize the rabies virus. This new antibody works by preventing the virus from attaching to nerve endings around the bite site and keeps the virus from traveling to the brain.
"Rabies continues to kill many thousands of people throughout the developing world every year and can also affect international travelers," said Leonard Both, M.Sc., a researcher involved in the work… "An untreated rabies infection is nearly 100 percent fatal and is usually seen as a death sentence. Producing an inexpensive antibody in transgenic plants opens the prospect of adequate rabies prevention for low-income families in developing countries."
Community: And it’s a much better use for tobacco plants than creating smoking and dipping products.
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Doctors Can Feel Their Patients' Pain -- And Their Relief

(Science Daily) A patient's relationship with his or her doctor has long been considered an important component of healing. Now, in a novel investigation in which physicians underwent brain scans while they believed they were actually treating patients, researchers have provided the first scientific evidence indicating that doctors truly can feel their patients' pain -- and can also experience their relief following treatment…
[T]he new findings … help to illuminate one of the more intangible aspects of health care -- the doctor/patient relationship.
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Med School Pharma Gift Ban Has Lasting Impact

(MedPage Today) Physicians who attended a medical school with a policy that prohibited gifts from drug companies were less likely to prescribe two of three newly marketed drugs once they were in practice, researchers found.
Compared with students who graduated 2 years before the policy was implemented, those who attended school with an active gift restriction policy were significantly less likely to prescribe lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) over older stimulants … and paliperidone (Invega) over older antipsychotics…
There was no significant difference in prescribing habits for desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) over older antidepressants…, Peter Bearman, PhD, … and colleagues reported
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CMS Issues Sunshine Rule

(MedPage Today) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a long-awaited rule Friday finalizing the details for a database that will list payments made to physicians by pharmaceutical and device manufacturers.
"You should know when your doctor has a financial relationship with the companies that manufacture or supply the medicines or medical devices you may need," Peter Budetti, MD, the agency's deputy administrator for program integrity, said in a statement. "Disclosure of these relationships allows patients to have more informed discussions with their doctors."
The rule, a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, "finalizes the provisions that require manufacturers of drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program to report payments or other transfers of value they make to physicians and teaching hospitals to CMS," the statement explained.
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Uninsured less likely to get heart meds

(Reuters Health) Uninsured Americans were less likely to get the best treatment for heart troubles than those with insurance in a new study that hints the blame may lie with the quality of physicians who typically treat the uninsured.
In a group of about 61,000 Americans, researchers found that those without any health insurance were between 6 percent and 12 percent less likely than people with either public or private insurance to be prescribed drugs that are considered standard care for heart disease.
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Medicaid: Cut Cost Not Benefits

(MedPage Today) Reducing overall healthcare costs -- and not cutting benefits -- is the way to address rising spending on entitlement programs, a senior White House adviser said Thursday.
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy, slammed efforts to change Medicaid, addressing advocates at a conference here sponsored by Families USA, a liberal health policy group. "The right answer and the best answer for reducing entitlement savings is to reduce the cost of healthcare in a way that does not compromise quality," Sperling said.
The economic adviser specifically mentioned Republican efforts to transform Medicaid into a block grant program -- a move the GOP says would cut Medicaid spending by about a third -- as one effort to attack Medicaid.
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Fed Economist Steps Into Dispute On Geographic Differences In Health Spending

(Kaiser Health News) An economist at the Federal Reserve has restoked the debate over the causes of regional differences in Medicare spending, and her analysis disputes some of the thinking behind a number of policy changes in the 2010 health law…
Louise Sheiner, an economist at the Federal Reserve, … examines health spending differences among states and the health of people in those states. She concludes health and socioeconomic factors—things like the prevalence of smoking, obesity and diabetes—best explain why health spending in some regions of the country is higher. That view has been argued for years by [some] researchers…
On the Academy Health blog Thursday, economist Austin Frakt of the Incidental Economist rebutted Sheiner.  He agrees with Dartmouth that Sheiner erred in focusing on differences between states rather than the individual level as Dartmouth does. Frakt writes:
I wish Sheiner's conclusions could be believed. It would really simplify things if the vast majority of health spending variation was due to obesity, sedentary lifestyles, lack of insurance, and a few other things. Were that true, we'd know better how to shape policy. However, based on the body of evidence, it's far more likely the story is more complex and also includes the efficiency with which care is delivered.
Community: But New Yorker writer Dr. Atul Gawande has shown that there can be huge cost discrepancies between medical centers in the same town.
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80 percent of heart disease is preventable

(UPI) Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of U.S. men and women even though almost 80 percent of it is preventable, a Mayo Clinic cardiologists says.
Cardiologist Dr. Martha Grogan, medical editor-in-chief of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life! said there are several simple tips to reduce heart disease risk. Grogan encouraged people to move 10 extra minutes each day because a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of heart attack almost as much as smoking does, recent studies showed…
Americans too often cheat themselves of sleep and their hearts can pay the price, said Dr. Virend Somers, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and sleep expert…
Dr. Randal Thomas, a Mayo preventive cardiologist said a 53-year-old male smoker with high blood pressure has a 20 percent chance of having a heart attack over the next 10 years. If he stops smoking, his risk drops to 10 percent; if he takes high blood pressure medicine, it falls to 5 percent, Thomas said.
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Tips for preventing heart disease

(Chicago Tribune) February is National Heart Health Month. CDC provides tips for preventing heart disease.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Use salt in moderation.
Monitor your weight to make sure your BMI is a healthy number.
Click here to access CDC's BMI calculator.
Exercise at least 30 minutes a few days a week.
Don't smoke, and if you do smoke, consider quitting.
Consume alcohol in moderation.
Have your blood pressure monitored on a regular basis if it's high.
Don't be afraid to ask your medical professional any questions about heart disease medication.
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Vegetarians 'cut heart risk by 32%'

(BBC News) Ditching meat and fish in favour of a vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart, research suggests.
A study of 44,500 people in England and Scotland showed vegetarians were 32% less likely to die or need hospital treatment as a result of heart disease.
Differences in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight are thought to be behind the health boost.
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Marriage is good for the heart: study

(AFP) Married people are less prone to heart attacks than singletons and more likely to recover if stricken, according to a Finnish study…
The [research] team found that unmarried men in all age groups were 58-66 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than married ones.
For women the nuptial benefit was even greater -- single women were 60 to 65 percent more likely to suffer acute coronary events, the Finnish researchers wrote.
Community: I wish they’d just stick to talking about committed relationships in this kind of study, rather than specifying marriage.
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More News and Recent Research on Heart Disease

(Science Daily) Donna Arnett, Ph.D., says family history is one of the strongest predictors of heart disease. "If you look at how heart disease occurs, about 80 percent takes place in people with a strong family history," said Arnett, who is serving as the president of the American Heart Association (AHA)… Arnett said this message goes hand in hand with following the AHA's "Life's Simple 7": getting active, controlling cholesterol, eating better, managing blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and quitting smoking.
Community: It’s really important to remember that family history doesn’t create a death sentence. We can overcome a lot of that genetic risk by leading a healthy lifestyle.
(Science Daily) Cardiac disease is associated with increased risk of mild cognitive impairment such as problems with language, thinking and judgment -- particularly among women with heart disease, a Mayo Clinic study shows. Known as nonamnestic because it doesn't include memory loss, this type of mild cognitive impairment may be a precursor to vascular and other non-Alzheimer's dementias, according to the findings.
(HHS HealthBeat) A study indicates that people with stressful lives are more likely to develop heart disease and even die of it. At Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, Donald Edmondson reviewed 14 years of data from six studies involving nearly 120,000 people who had reported their stress levels… Edmondson suggests working things into your day that reduce stress, such as a brisk walk, yoga, or spending time with people you like… Learn more at healthfinder.gov.
Community: And stop listening to hate radio. It’s harmful to your heart health.
(Science Daily) Looking at blood samples from 299 heart patients, researchers at Ohio State University found that those who had suffered a heart attack were the most likely to have inflammatory proteins circulating in their blood compared to patients with less acute symptoms. And having more of one of these proteins in the blood was linked to the presence of antibodies that signal a latent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) reactivation.
(Medical News Today) Erectile dysfunction (ED) is linked to heart disease and early death in men both with and without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD)… Prior research has demonstrated that erectile dysfunction is associated with heart disease risk… However, this is the first study to indicate that the severity of ED correlates with the elevated chance of CVD hospitalization and all-cause mortality. ''The risks of future heart disease and premature death increased steadily with severity of erectile dysfunction,'' Emily Banks explained.
(AFP) Women who suffer from migraines accompanied by visual disturbances such as flashes of light may be at increased risk of heart attacks and blood clots, researchers said … "After high blood pressure, migraine with aura was the second strongest single contributor to risk of heart attacks and strokes," said study author Tobias Kurth. "It came ahead of diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and family history of early heart disease."
(Science Daily) "LDL cholesterol or 'the bad' cholesterol' is of course bad, but our new study reveals that the ugly cholesterol likewise is the direct cause of atherosclerosis resulting in ischemic heart disease and early death. By examining 73,000 persons, we found that an increase in the ugly cholesterol triples the risk of ischemic heart disease, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the heart muscle due to narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries," says Professor Børge Nordestgaard.
(DrOz.com) A recent study of more than 30,000 people (average age 66) who had suffered a heart attack or stroke or had Type 2 diabetes and were thought to be getting the best medicine possible found that those who ate a heart-healthy diet cut their risk of cardiovascular death by 35 percent, the risk of another heart attack by 14 percent, and the risk of congestive heart failure by 28 percent. They ate lots of fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes and not much saturated fat, dietary cholesterol or sodium. Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, when added to surgery and meds, have good results.
More . . .


Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Heart-Healthy Recipe: Vegetarian Chili
In the culture and cuisine of the Southwest, chili is serious business. But contrary to what many believe, good chili doesn't require "carne" (meat). The key to great chili is knowing how to harness the fiery flavor of a wide range of available chile peppers to make the dish exciting yet palatable. ("Chili" commonly refers to the dish made with "chile" peppers.)…
Food as Medicine
Some studies indicate that capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers, may enhance the metabolism of fat. Red chili peppers also have been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew
This pork stew recipe is an easy way to feed your family meat and veggies in one dish. Readers rave that it's quick, easy, and consistently delicious!
Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous
Yogurt sauce flavored with lemon, cumin and cilantro tops this Indian-inspired grilled salmon.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Tuna Tartar Siciliano | Lugo Caffé, NYC
Stolen 'con permesso' from Chef Sam Hazen of Lugo Caffé, NYC, you can recreate a restaurant classic at home with Hazen's easily prepared, yet complexly flavored Tuna Tartar Siciliano recipe.
Chef Jamie's Spicy Ginger & Orange Glazed Chicken Wings
Chef Jamie says: "I've never met a football fan who doesn't love Wings. These are super simple and they are baked instead of fried...so go ahead, have another!"
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5 Ways to Get More Veggies In Your Diet

(Appetite for Health) Given their importance to your overall health, eating more veggies should be a top priority.  Try these tips to ensure you’re getting enough:
1. Start a garden
Over the years I have found that one of the best ways to get people excited about eating vegetables is to have them grown their own…
2. Veggies for breakfast
Stuff an omelet with broccoli, spinach, peppers, asparagus, or any other vegetable that suits your taste buds…
3. Soups
Add more flavor and nutrition to your favorite soups with added veggies. Many homemade soups already contain a nice amount of vegetables, but you can bump up the veggie servings in canned soups too…
4. Don’t forget frozen
You don’t have to become Farmer of the Year to get more veggies in your diet.  If time is tight or whenever you want to serve up more veggies with the touch of a button, don’t overlook frozen vegetables…
5. Move your veggies to the top shelf of the refrigerator
You’ve heard of “out of sight, out of mind”?  Try doing the opposite.  As long as they are bagged properly, veggies will last as well as if in a vegetable crisper.
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Baobab, the Latest Superfruit!

(The Supermarket Guru ) We know by now that many of the produce items we buy on a regular basis can be considered “superfoods” because most fruits and vegetables are packed with a plethora of phytonutrients. Nonetheless, SupermarketGuru wanted to introduce you to the latest import that is popping up in granolas, snack bars, and even nutritional beverages. The baobab fruit.
The baobab is a tree fruit from the long cherished baobab tree – or Adansonia digitata. Growing prolifically throughout southern Africa, but currently commercially harvested primarily in Malawi, baobab fruits have a tart yogurt-like flavor that has been described as a cross between vanilla, grapefruit and pear. The fruit is white and powdery, and was the original cream of tartar used in baking. High in antioxidants, with six times as much vitamin C as oranges and twice as much calcium as milk, the baobab fruit is a natural source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.
Community: I thought the baobab was a fictional tree—from The Little Prince.
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Food: The Next Frontier For The Sharing Economy?

(Fast Company) Globally, 30 to 50 percent of all food produced is lost or wasted between crop and plate--that's between 1.2 and 2 billion tons. Personally, each of us in the United States and Europe is responsible for trashing between 200 and 400 pounds a year of completely usable food--by contrast, in sub-saharan Africa and South Asia, people waste only 12 to 20 pounds a year.
A lot of the solution has to do with better tracking and auditing of processes by farms, grocers, restaurants, and trucking and shipping companies. But between the refrigerator and the garbage disposal, the consumer-side food surplus could be an opportunity for the new sharing economy. Just like Airbnb lets you rent out unused space in your home, and Lyft and Sidecar let you rent unused time in your car, and ThredUp lets you pass along unused clothing, could a website help you get rid of unused, but still edible food? Sounds kind of gross, but there are four sites that are trying to do just that.
Ampleharvest.org connects home gardeners with food pantries and has given away more than 20 million tons of produce…
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Domestic Violence Happens Each Sunday—Not Just Super Bowl Sunday

(U.S. News & World Report) "The Super Bowl does not cause domestic violence, and it doesn't increase domestic violence, but it does increase the public's awareness of the issue, which will help victims learn about help and resources," says Cindy Southworth, vice president of development and innovation at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
To explain the fallacy, Southworth says, "you have to sort of step back and think about what domestic violence is, and it's not an explosion and it's not out-of-control anger. Instead, it's a pattern of power and control." Victims of abuse face the greatest risk "when they try to break away from a controlling partner, and that can happen on any day of the year," she says.
Meanwhile, the issue has garnered headlines with the reintroduction of the Violence Against Women Act in the Senate, which is slated to vote on the bill next week.
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Global warming linked to worse flu seasons

(UPI) Climate change will add earlier and more severe flu seasons, U.S. researchers say…
"It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence," [study leader Sherry] Towers said in a statement. "And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse."…
If global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the impact of flu will likely be more heavily felt, the study authors concluded.
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Survey finds strong support for gun control, more mental healthcare

(Booster Shots, Los Angeles Times) New survey results published Thursday by the New England Journal of Medicine show that a majority of  Americans -- gun owners and non-owners alike -- support stricter measures to keep handguns from people under 21 and to block ownership of any guns for 10 years by those who have perpetrated domestic violence, brandished a weapon in a threatening manner, or committed two or more drug- or alcohol-related crimes.
But a murkier picture emerged when Americans were asked about keeping guns out of the hands of those with mental illness. Almost 70% of respondents supported greater government spending and insurance coverage for mental healthcare as a means of averting gun violence. But fear and suspicion of those with mental illness were also strongly evident.
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Small surgeries, huge markups

(Los Angeles Times) A Southern California surgery center charged teacher Lynne Nielsen $87,500 for a routine, 20-minute knee operation that normally costs about $3,000.
Despite the huge markup, the Long Beach Unified School District and its insurer, Blue Shield of California, paid virtually all of the bill from Advanced Surgical Partners in Costa Mesa…
All too often, critics say, insurers pay these large sums and then cite high medical bills for why insurance premiums keep rising for businesses and consumers.
Community: Exactly. In the Sixties, we used to fault government contracting for using a cost plus method of pricing. It was always to the benefit of the contractor to increase the base cost, because that would mean a higher profit.
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Report: State Action Needed To Guarantee Protections

(Kaiser Health News) Lawmakers in most states better get busy if they want authority to enforce key provisions of the federal health law that go into effect next year.
That’s the takeaway message from a report by the Commonwealth Fund showing that only 11 states and the District of Columbia have passed rules needed to implement the law.
Without action, the other 39 states are “potentially limiting” their ability to ensure that “consumers achieve the full protections of the law,” according to the study done for the liberal think tank by three researchers at Georgetown University.
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Tick, Tock: Administration Misses Some Health Law Deadlines

(Kaiser Health News) The Obama administration is late in implementing several provisions of the federal health overhaul intended to improve access to care and lower costs.
The programs, slated to take effect Jan. 1, were supposed to increase fees to primary care doctors who treat Medicaid patients, give states more federal funding if they eliminate Medicaid co-pays for preventive services and experiment with changes to how doctors and hospitals are paid by Medicare.
The administration also has delayed giving states guidance on a new coverage option known as the "basic health program," designed to help low and moderate-income people who don't qualify for Medicaid…
Some of these deadlines appear to have slipped as the administration focuses on carrying out two of the biggest provisions in the health law designed to expand coverage to as many as 30 million people:  On Oct. 1, the federal government must have in place new online marketplaces that will offer government-subsidized individual and small group coverage in every state. Coverage in these marketplaces starts Jan. 1, 2014, when many states are also expected to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor.
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Few may pay for skipping health insurance

(Vitals, NBC News) People worried about having to pay a fine for not carrying health insurance coverage got a little more guidance this week with some new federal regulations. The bottom line: Hardly anyone will end up paying the tax when the health reform law takes full effect in 2014.
The Urban Institute has projected that only about 2 percent of Americans would likely have to pay what the government calls the “shared responsibility payment.” The new regulations from the Internal Revenue Service and the Health and Human Services Department explain all the ways people can get out of paying it.
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CMS Announces New Initiative to Improve Care and Reduce Costs for Medicare

(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) [T]he Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that over 500 organizations will begin participating in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative. Through this new initiative, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, CMS will test how bundling payments for episodes of care can result in more coordinated care for beneficiaries and lower costs for Medicare.
“The objective of this initiative is to improve the quality of health care delivery for Medicare beneficiaries, while reducing program expenditures, by aligning the financial incentives of all providers,” said Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
The Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative includes four models of bundling payments, varying by the types of health care providers involved and the services included in the bundle.  Depending on the model type, CMS will bundle payments for services beneficiaries receive during an episode of care, encouraging hospitals, physicians, post-acute facilities, and other providers as applicable to work together to improve health outcomes and lower costs.
Organizations of providers participating in the initiative will agree to provide CMS a discount from expected payments for the episode of care, and then the provider partners will work together to reduce readmissions, duplicative care, and complications to lower costs through improvement.
Community: And then there’s this: “U.S. expects big Medicare savings from competitive bid program.”
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Working toward stronger bones

(James Fell, Tribune Newspapers) [W]hen it comes to the effect of exercise on the bone health of aging populations, Wendy Kohrt is the expert…
She said most of the research focused on the effect of resistance training on bone formation, "But studies comparing resistance training with endurance exercise show no evidence one is better than the other. A vigorous endurance program — running, jogging, doing stairs, plyometrics, etc. — can have similar increases in bone density."
And in some cases, endurance can be better for older populations, at least to start, because the most beneficial resistance training exercises, such as squats, can be a challenge.
So what are the benefits of exercise on new bone development?
"We generated increases in the neighborhood of 2 percent," Kohrt said. That sounds … pathetic. But wait!
Kohrt explained exercise elicits similar bone growth improvements as do medications, but the true difference lies not in the increase in bone density, but in bone strength. With drugs, it's a 1 to 1 ratio. If you increase density 2 percent, you increase strength 2 percent. With exercise, and this is being conservative, it's a tenfold difference. Kohrt explained a 2 percent increase in bone mass can translate into a 20 percent increase in bone strength, and perhaps as much as 40 percent.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to fight osteoporosis.
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