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

Stressed Out Americans Want Help, But Many Don't Get It

(Shots, NPR) More than half of Americans say they get little or no help managing stress from their providers of health care, according to the annual Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association. The group surveys about 2,000 adults across the country each year.
The latest findings square with other studies that find a quarter of Americans don't have access to mental health care…
The docs did a little better with discussing lifestyle and behavior changes that would improve health, with 61 percent of people saying they got help with that.
Still, those numbers suggest that a lot of people are walking out of the doctor's office just as stressed out as they were when they arrived.
Community: Probably the best thing most Americans can do to reduce stress is to stop putting so much of themselves into their work. And that’s one of the top wishes of dying people—that they hadn’t worked so hard. But there are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Stress is tied to heart attack, diabetes

(Consumers Union) Stress can put you in a constant “fight or flight” mode, which can have negative effects on multiple organ systems, including the heart. Research has also linked stress to Type 2 diabetes, impaired immunity, worsening depression and gastrointestinal problems. And a recent poll of more than 1,200 adults by the American Psychological Association suggests that the way people cope with stress can be detrimental, too. For example, 44 percent of respondents reported lying awake at night when they were stressed, and 39 percent said they overate or ate junk food…
[R]espondents in the APA survey blamed stress for causing their irritability, fatigue, lack of energy, headaches and upset stomachs. Another common complaint is heart palpitations—a fast heart rate, extra or skipped heartbeats, or a sensation that your heart is pounding.
Following are some other ways that stress can affect your health.
Colds…
Alzheimer’s disease…
Poor diet…
Stroke.
Community: If you need scientific proof, a new study has found “Inflamation byproduct linked to stress.” And inflammation is now believed to be the cause of all the chronic diseases associated with aging.
There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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9 Ways Successful People Defeat Stress

(Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.)  In the spirit of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, here are nine scientifically-proven strategies for defeating stress whenever it strikes.
1. Have Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is, in essence, cutting yourself some slack. It's being willing to look at your mistakes or failures with kindness and understanding -- without harsh criticism or defensiveness…
2. Think About the "Big Picture"
Thinking big picture about the work you do can be very energizing in the face of stress and challenge, because you are linking one particular, often small action to a greater meaning or purpose…
3. Rely on Routines
Simple routines can dramatically reduce your experience of stress.
4. Take Five (or 10) Minutes to Do Something You Find Interesting
It doesn't matter what it is, so long as it interests you. Recent research shows that interest doesn't just keep you going despite fatigue, it actually replenishes your energy…
5. Add Where and When to Your To-Do List
Nearly 200 studies, on everything from diet and exercise to negotiation and time management, have shown that deciding in advance when and where you will complete a task (e.g., "If it is 4 p.m., then I will return any phone calls I should return today") can double or triple your chances of actually doing it…
6. Use If-Thens for Positive Self-Talk
Simply decide what kind of response you would like to have instead of feeling stress, and make a plan that links your desired response to the situations that tend to raise your blood pressure. For instance, "If I see lots of emails in my Inbox, then I will stay calm and relaxed," or, "If a deadline is approaching, then I will keep a cool head."
7. See Your Work in Terms of Progress, Not Perfection
When you think about what you are doing in terms of learning and improving, accepting that you may make some mistakes along the way, you experience far less stress, and you stay motivated despite the setbacks that might occur.
8. Think About the Progress That You've Already Made
It can be enormously helpful to take a moment and reflect on what you've accomplished so far before turning your attention to the challenges that remain ahead.
9. Know Whether Optimism or Defensive Pessimism Works for You
[D]o you spend your life pursuing accomplishments and accolades, reaching for the stars? Or are you busy fulfilling your duties and responsibilities -- being the person everyone can count on? Start by identifying your focus, and then embrace either the sunny outlook or the hearty skepticism that will reduce your stress and keep you performing at your best.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Supplements for Stress Relief

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you want to reduce unhealthy stress, start by identifying the problems and situations that create stress - then learn to manage them by practicing general techniques of stress protection, such as breathing exercises. As for supplements, consider the following:
1.    B-complex. B vitamins can help balance mood, calm the nervous system, and increase the efficacy of some prescription anti-depressants.
2.    Omega-3 (fish oil) supplement from molecularly distilled fish oil. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
3.    Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). An extract from the root of this flowering perennial contains essential oils that have been shown to help some people more effectively deal with stress.
4.    Calcium and magnesium. Both are involved in many key physiologic processes and may help support healthy sleep, as well as muscle relaxation.
5.    St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). Extracts of this flowering herb, indigenous to Europe, may help boost mood and maintain a healthy emotional outlook.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Reduce stress with these foods

(Chicago Tribune) In the March 2013 print edition, Women's Health gives nutrition food tips to eliminate stress…
Dark chocolate: Lowers blood pressure
Papaya: Good for skin, eyes, heart and immune system
Rosemary: Stimulates circulation, anti-irritant and memory booster
Flaxseed: Soothes monthly mood swings, helps prevent overeating
Oranges: Antioxidant helps people recover from stress
Celery: Lowers the concentration of stress hormones in the blood
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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More Tips, News, and Research on Stress

(HHS HealthBeat) David Almeida is a professor of human development at Penn State. “People who reported being emotionally reactive were 30 percent more likely to report chronic health conditions 10 years later.”… If you’re feeling stressed… “Get away from the situation. Try to take a break. And, if possible, engage in some sort of physical activity.”
(Zee News) "Growing older cannot be prevented... however, some of the effects of ageing like stress can be slowed down and even prevented by various activities, including life-style based changes," G.P. Thakur, president of Indian School Psychology Association, said… According to Thakur, life-style based changes like creating personal space, making time for rest and relaxation, getting enough sleep and anger management are some of the changes the senior citizens need to make to beat stress. "Enhancing self-esteem is an important step in old age as it builds an optimistic attitude, keeps one motivated and opens up new opportunities and challenges," said Thakur.
(GoRedForWomen.org) In order to live “mindfully and consciously,” says [internal medicine specialist and teacher of meditation and wellbeing techniques Dr. Deepak] Chopra, humans need to take time to STOP. He uses the word as an acronym – S: stop what you are doing, T: take a few deep breaths, O: observe your body and smile, P: proceed with kindness and compassion. “Even if the phone rings, don’t pick it up right away,” he advises. “Stop, take a few deep breaths and proceed with kindness and compassion. The person on the other line will feel it.”
(Huffington Post) Taking a deep breath may do more than put your mind at ease — it may ease inflammation. In a new study…, neuroscientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison report that mindfulness meditation techniques, defined as a constant focus on breathing, bodily sensations, and mental relaxation, relieved inflammatory symptoms brought on by stress.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Simple breathing techniques offer a drug-free way to help lower your blood pressure, calm a racing heart or settle an upset digestive system. Proper breathing has direct influence on emotional states and moods. When you're upset, you breathe rapidly, shallowly and irregularly, but you can't be upset if your breathing is slow, deep, quiet and regular. At first, the effects are subtle, but they will gain power the more you repeat them. Whether you want to address health problems or just relax and reduce stress, make this the year to learn and practice breathing exercises. Check out my recommended breathing techniques today!
(Science Daily) Detaching from work -- mentally, physically and electronically -- is the key to recovery from job stress during nonwork hours, according to a Kansas State University researcher… "If there are any unpleasant text messages or emails from work-related people -- such as a boss, co-worker, clients, customers or contractors -- you may be more likely to ruminate about work-related issues or worries. It will affect your feelings and behaviors at home, which could further influence people at home," [researcher YoungAh] Park said.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Chicken Panini with Fig Jam
azz up sandwich night with leftover chicken and store-bought fig jam. If you do not have a sandwich press or cast-iron skillet, place a regular skillet on top of the sandwich and weigh it down with cans.
EatingWell:
Slow-Cooker Braised Pork with Salsa
With just a few ingredients, you can produce a full-flavored, meltingly tender pork stew in your slow cooker. Serve over quinoa or rice.
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Foods To Add To Your Diet

(Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D.) 2013 has arrived and with it, my yearly list of foods you may want to consider adding (or have more of) this year. All of them have been around for ages but -- like clothing, music, and celebrities -- certain foods come and go in terms of popularity. Here are [some] that may help you improve your health, assist your weight-loss efforts, or just give you the chance to give your taste buds something new!
Black Rice
Evidence suggests that black rice may have more cancer-fighting antioxidants than blueberries or blackberries. It's also loaded with fiber and B-vitamins…
Soy
Soy may play a role in lowering blood pressure, early intake of soy in life appears to play a protective role against breast cancer, and some studies now indicate that consistent soy intake may actually help to decrease the recurrence of breast cancer among certain patient populations…
Purple Potatoes
A recent study … found that eating a moderate serving of purples potatoes twice a day helped to lower blood pressure in obese individuals without causing weight gain… [The] vibrant hues … are created by powerful [phytochemicals] that help to reduce inflammation and overall disease risk.
Horseradish
The horseradish plant is from the same family as cancer-fighting superstars broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower…
Black Beans
This plant-based source of protein is high in fiber and iron -- giving new meaning to the term "nutrient density," and making it a dream food staple for individuals hoping to shed a few pounds!
Black Pepper
A few sprinkles of black pepper not only adds great flavor to your foods -- it may also help to block fat! A 2012 study … found that a compound in pepper, known as piperine, helped to block the formation of fat cells in the body.
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Fruits and Vegetables May Help Protect the Kidneys

(Science Daily) Adding fruits and vegetables to the diet may help protect the kidneys of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with too much acid build-up, according to a study…
Western diets that are based in animal and grain products are highly acidic and can lead to metabolic acidosis, when too much acid builds up in the body. This is particularly common in patients with CKD because the kidneys are responsible for removing acid through the urine. Metabolic acidosis can cause rapid breathing, confusion, and lethargy. Severe cases can lead to shock or death.
Alkali supplementation therapy such as bicarbonate is used to treat CKD patients with severe metabolic acidosis, but simply adding more fruits and vegetables -- which contain alkali -- to the diet might also help.
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Are plant-based diets environmentally friendly?

(Reuters Health) A nutritious diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables might not be the greenest in its environmental impact, according to a new study from France…
Growing fruit and vegetables doesn't produce as much greenhouse gas as raising cattle or livestock, the study confirms, but people who eat a primarily plant-based diet make up for that by eating more of those foods.
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French fry sales drop, more opting for low-cal

(NBC News) Serving lower calorie and low-fat foods isn’t just good for the hearts and arteries of customers – it’s good for the bottom line, too, according to a new study published Thursday.
Restaurant chains such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell are making more money by offering apple slices, oatmeal, and food made without artery-clogging trans-fats, the report by the Hudson Institute found…
“French fries are declining in both number of servings and share of total food servings among quick-service chains that have more than $3 billion in sales,” the report reads. “Among the same chains, lower-calorie beverages are also outperforming traditional beverages,” it adds.
“Consumers are hungry for restaurant meals that won’t expand their waist lines, and the chains that recognize this are doing better than those that don’t,” said Hank Cardello, a former food company executive who directs Hudson’s Obesity Solutions Initiative and who wrote the report.
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Flu Activity Decreasing in US

(MyHealthNewsDaily) Flu season is still upon us, but it appears to be winding down.
As of Feb. 2, the percentage of people visiting the doctor for flu-like illness in the United States was 3.6 percent, down from 4.2 percent for the week ending Jan. 26, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nineteen states are reporting high levels of flu activity, down from 24 states the week before, the CDC said. And 13 states are reporting low levels of flu activity, up from four states the week before.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevented in Mice

(Science Daily) Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists have demonstrated a new strategy for treating autoimmune disease that successfully blocked the development of rheumatoid arthritis in a mouse model. They say it holds promise for improved treatment of arthritis and other autoimmune disorders in people.
The scientists report … that infusing a highly specific type of cell that regulates immune responses into arthritis-prone mice shuts down the cascade of inflammation that damages tissues and joints.
The method worked best when the infusions of CD8+ Treg cells were given at the same time that the animals were injected with a protein that triggered the arthritis-causing autoimmune reaction.
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Innovative Water Purification Tablet for Developing World

(Science Daily) PureMadi, a nonprofit University of Virginia organization, has invented a simple ceramic water purification tablet. Called MadiDrop, the tablet -- developed and extensively tested at U.Va. -- is impregnated with silver or copper nanoparticles. It can repeatedly disinfect water for up to six months simply by resting in a vessel where water is poured. It is being developed for use in communities in South Africa that have little or no access to clean water.
"Madi" is the Tshivenda South African word for water. PureMadi brings together U.Va. professors and students to improve water quality, human health, local enterprise and quality of life in the developing world. The organization includes students and faculty members from engineering, architecture, medicine, nursing, business, commerce, economics, anthropology and foreign affairs.
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Compounding pharmacies have been linked to deaths, illnesses and safety failures for years

(Washington Post) Shoddy practices and unsanitary conditions at three large-scale specialty pharmacies have been tied to deaths and illnesses over the past decade, revealing that the serious safety lapses at a Massachusetts pharmacy linked to last fall’s deadly meningitis outbreak were not an isolated occurrence, records and interviews show.
The series of safety failures happened long before national attention focused on the New England Compounding Center, whose contaminated steroid shots were linked to 45 deaths and 651 illnesses.
A Washington Post analysis found that state and federal authorities did little to systematically inspect and correct hazards posed by specialty pharmacies, which custom-mix medications for individual patients, hospitals and clinics. In the lightly regulated industry, pharmacies were rarely punished even when their mistakes had lethal consequences.
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U.S. rejects Mississippi health insurance exchange plan

(Reuters) Mississippi on Friday became the first state to have its proposal for a health insurance exchange rejected by the U.S. government, and federal officials said Republican Governor Phil Bryant's opposition to the plan was to blame.
"With a lack of support from your governor and no formal commitment to coordinate from other state agencies, we do not see a feasible pathway to conditionally approving a state-based exchange in Mississippi for 2014," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter to the state.
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Medicaid Transformation Watched Closely In Florida

(Kaiser Health News) This week the federal government signed off on the first part of a plan that could eventually steer more than 3 million low-income Floridians on Medicaid into a managed care, or HMO system. The decision comes two years after Florida lawmakers approved the conversion in an attempt to control costs in the $21 billion program.
At that time, retirees were skeptical of how it would work.
“For-profit companies have a fiduciary responsibility to do what? Make money. So they’re not going to manage their care, they’re going to ration their care,” said Joseph Flynn, a retiree living in the Central Florida community of the Villages, where Gov. Rick Scott was holding a budget signing ceremony.
That skepticism has not gone away but now the federal Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services has signed off on part of a waiver allowing Florida to begin its transition to managed care for Medicaid recipients in long-term care.
Community: Didn’t Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, make his fortune in managed care? Isn’t this move a conflict of interest?
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The Case for Prevention: Saving More Dollars by Making More Sense

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) [A] Reuters article, which some of my colleagues have already confronted, cites a recent report by the Trust for America's Health on transitioning the U.S. system from "sick care" to genuine "health" care, and a paper published in 2010 in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs. The analysis in Health Affairs suggests that widespread use of preventive services could help us all save 0.2 percent of personal health spending in the U.S…
Of course prevention as commonly defined doesn't save money. Cancer screening is about saving lives, not money. Trauma surgery doesn't save money, either, for whatever that's worth…
[S]creening for cancer in a population that gets it often enough to warrant screening is a fairly expensive half-measure. Better than nothing, certainly; but not nearly as good as going all the way. What would going all the way look like? Preventing so much cancer outright that screening for it is no longer warranted.
Is that possible? Almost certainly, yes. Studies (1234, and so on) spanning decades consistently indicate that fully 80 percent or more of all chronic disease, including cancer, can be eliminated outright with knowledge already at our disposal. Not treated more effectively. Not managed. Eliminated.
The method? Good use of feet, forks, and fingers. Being active, eating well, and not smoking…
If we got down to the bedrock of true prevention -- lifestyle as preventive medicine -- we could add years to life, add life to years, and save a whole lot of money by putting to use the science and sense long at our disposal. Doing so will, of course, require changes in how we think about health, changes in our culture. But culture is what we make it, and we can change it for free.
Which brings us to the bottom line, figuratively and literally. We have the science we need to eliminate outright most of what ails us. Prevention could save us a whole lot of dollars if, when we used the term, we made a bit more sense.
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Traditional Southern diet, stroke may be linked

(Booster Shots, Los Angeles Times) Traditional Southern diets may be linked to a higher risk of stroke, a researcher said at a conference on Thursday.
The lead researcher, Suzanne Judd, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Alabama, said her study is the first large-scale effort to look at stroke and a diet of such foods as fried chicken and fish, bacon, ham and sweet teas.
“Fatty foods are high in cholesterol, sugary drinks are linked to diabetes and salty foods lead to high blood pressure,” Judd said in a statement. Those are all factors in the risk of cardiovascular disease…
Previous research has shown that Southerners are about 20% more likely to have a stroke than people who live in the rest of the country. Judd’s work found that stroke frequency was proportional to consumption of Southern food.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent or minimize the effects of stroke.
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Gut Bacteria Protect Against Stroke, Research Finds

(Science Daily) [R]esearchers compared a group of stroke patients with a group of healthy subjects and found major differences in their gut microbiota. In particular, they showed that genes required for the production of carotenoids were more frequently found in gut microbiota from healthy subjects. The healthy subjects also had significantly higher levels of a certain carotenoid in the blood than the stroke survivors.
Carotenoids are a type of antioxidant, and it has been claimed for many years that they protect against angina and stroke. Thus, the increased incidence of carotenoid-producing bacteria in the gut of healthy subjects may offer clues to explain how the gut metagenome affects disease states.
Community: The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements tells us the dietary sources of carotenoids. And there are many practical things we can do to prevent or minimize the effects of stroke. Also, one particular bacterium may have protective powers: “Gut Bacterium Helicobacter Pylori May Protect Against Stroke.”
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Managing Atrial Fibrillation May Prevent the Risk of Stroke

(NeuroNews) In a presentation at the UK Stroke Forum…, Andre Ng … presented data that said atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke five-fold and that one third of atrial fibrillation patients will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. He added to this and said that atrial fibrillation is also responsible for 15–20% of ischaemic strokes and patients who have atrial fibrillation and have suffered a previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack are at a high risk of recurrent stroke with more disability…
Ng told delegates that, currently, the pharmacological options for atrial fibrillation patients for the prevention of stroke are vitamin K antagonists (VKA) such as warfarin, phenprocoumon, acenocoumarol and platelet inhibitors such as aspirin and clopidogrel. Ng said that the “classical” studies prove that treatment with warfarin prevents stroke. However, the speaker presented data from current trials on novel oral anticoagulants comparing warfarin and dabigatran (RE-LY trial), warfarin and rivaroxaban (ROCKET AF trial), and warfarin and apixaban (ARISTOTLE trial). The results of these trials, Ng told delegates, were that they all met their primary end points and therefore were proven to be as good as or better at reducing stroke than warfarin.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent or minimize the effects of stroke.
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Potential New Treatment to Prevent Stroke

(Science Daily) Scientists may have discovered a new way to prevent strokes in high risk patients, according to research…
The group is using ultrasound scanning to look at patients with carotid artery disease, one of the major causes of stroke. Clots can form on diseased carotid arteries in the neck. Small parts of these clots can released to form microemboli, which can travel to block key brain arteries and lead to weakness, disturbed speech, loss of vision and other serious stroke syndromes. Standard anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin may not prevent the formation of harmful microemboli.
The scanning process can be used to find patients at very high risk of stroke because microemboli have formed despite prior anti-platelet drugs. Using scanning, the team has found that tirofiban, another anti-platelet drug designed to inhibit the formation of blood clots, can suppress microemboli where previous treatment such as aspirin has been ineffective. In their study, tirofiban was more effective than other 'rescue' treatment.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent or minimize the effects of stroke.
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More Recent News and Research on Stroke

(Science Daily) Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Public Health say a 10-millimeter difference in blood pressure is associated with an 8 percent increase in stroke risk for white people, but a 24 percent increase in stroke risk for black people. [P]rofessor George Howard, Dr.P.H, said these new findings … mean primary care physicians should work closely with their black patients and urge them to take blood pressure medicine, as well as follow up with them to ensure those medications are effective in bringing blood pressure under control.
(Science Daily) People over age 65 with high psychosocial distress face increased risk of stroke , according to new research… [In a 10-year study, participants] with the most psychosocial distress had three times the risk of death from stroke and a 54 percent increased risk of first hospitalization from stroke compared to those least distressed. The impact of psychosocial distress on stroke risk did not differ by race or by sex, researchers said.
(MedPage Today) Middle age stroke patients were 2.3 times more likely to be pot smokers than healthy middle age controls, according to a study… "This is the largest case-controlled study ever done to show a possible link to the increased risk of stroke from cannabis," P. Alan Barber, MD, PhD…, told MedPage Today in an interview.
(Science Daily) Blocking a single tiny blood vessel in the brain can harm neural tissue and even alter behavior, a new study … has shown. But these consequences can be mitigated by a drug already in use, suggesting treatment that could slow the progress of dementia associated with cumulative damage to miniscule blood vessels that feed brain cells… The FDA-approved drug memantine, prescribed to slow one aspect of memory decline associated with Alzheimer's disease, ameliorated [the damaging] effects.
(Science Daily) Whilst conditions such as a severe stroke have been linked to the disease, for many sufferers the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease can appear to come out of the blue. Researchers at the university's Faculty of Life Sciences have now discovered that a small stroke, also known as a silent stroke, can cause Parkinson's disease… Unlike a severe stroke, a silent stroke can show no outward symptoms of having taken place. It happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked for only a very short amount of time.
(Reuters Health) "The main stroke warning signs with respect to texting would be unintelligible language output, or problems reading or comprehending texts," said [Dr. Joshua] Klein. [But] "Many smartphones have an ‘autocorrect' function which can introduce erroneous word substitutions, giving the impression of a language disorder." Autocorrect, said [Dr. Sean] Savitz, a professor of neurology, can confuse matters - even for doctors. "I have often joked with my colleagues when using the dictation of the smartphone, that it gives me an aphasia," he said. "Potential for lots of false positives!"
More . . .

Recipes

Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Garlic is an herb with remarkable medicinal properties - and it tastes great, too… Enjoy the smell, taste and healthful effects of the whole, fresh herb. Sip a warm mug of this flavorful broth as is or use it as a base for other soups.
Food as Medicine
Garlic can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by modulating cholesterol metabolism, lowering blood pressure and decreasing clot formation. It also has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, making it especially helpful in combating respiratory infections, common colds, sore throats and fungal or yeast infections.
MyRecipes.com:
Spicy Shrimp Noodle Soup
Filled with bold and exotic flavors, this Vietnamese-inspired soup is comforting and easy to make at home.
EatingWell:
Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon
It doesn’t get much easier—or more delicious—than this speedy recipe for roast salmon topped with a smoky maple-mustard sauce. The sweetness of the maple balances the tangy mustard; smoked paprika or ground chipotle adds another layer of flavor.
Washington Post:
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Curious about Canola Oil?

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Monounsaturated canola oil is made from pressed canola seeds. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that can't be made by your body. (ALA can also be found in soybeans, flaxseed, walnuts, and wheat germ.) Canola oil is also a good source of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid, particularly important for cellular metabolism. Over the past 20 years, clinical studies have shown that consuming canola oil in place of saturated fats can help lower cholesterol and may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Canola oil is ideal for sautéing and stir-frying because it has a relatively high smoke point and its neutral flavor doesn’t overwhelm foods. It can also be used in place of olive oil in baked goods and vinaigrettes.
Community: Canola oil is much cheaper than olive oil, but has less taste. We mix the two for our salad dressing.
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Want to limit added sugars in your diet?

(NIH Senior Health, via email) To control your calorie intake, it’s important to limit foods that are high in added sugars. Learn how to substitute lower-calorie alternatives and identify added sugars in food products.
The information on Eating Well as You Get Older was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
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Alcohol Mixed With Diet Drinks May Increase Intoxication More Than Alcohol and Regular Drinks

(Science Daily) An individual's breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) following alcohol intake is influenced by several factors, including food. While it is known that food delays the stomach emptying, thus reducing BrAC, only recently has the role of nonalcoholic drink mixers used with alcohol been explored as a factor influencing BrAC. A new comparison of BrACs of alcohol consumed with an artificial sweetener versus alcohol consumed with a sugared beverage has found that mixing alcohol with a diet soft drink can result in a higher BrAC…
[Researcher Dennis L. Thombs said,] "Research on alcohol mixers is critically important for improving serving practices in on-premise drinking establishments," he said. "About one-half of all drinking and driving incidents are estimated to occur in persons leaving these settings. This type of research can provide guidance to policy-makers interested in improving the safety of bars and nightclubs."
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Frequently Prescribed Drug Used in Concerning Ways With Harmful Side Effects

(Science Daily) The results [of a new study] found that new benzodiazepine dispensing was common and occurred in more than a third of the adults. Use of the drugs was 40 per cent more common amongst those with more severe COPD. This group also had the highest number of repeat prescriptions and early refills and benzodiazepines were also commonly dispensed to patients while they were having flare-ups of the disease.
"These findings are new and they are concerning because they tell us that the patients most at risk to be affected by the adverse effects of this drug are the same ones that are using it with the most frequency," Dr. [Nicholas] Vozoris said. "This medication could be causing harm in this already respiratory-vulnerable population."
Although benzodiazepines can be effective for helping patients sleep, this medication class has been previously found to affect breathing ability and oxygen levels at night.
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Human Health Impacts of Climate Change Demand Attention

(Climatewire, Scientific American) [T]he human health chapter for the draft 2013 National Climate Assessment … was released last month and is now open for public comment (Greenwire, Jan. 11). The report, which is the third of its kind, lays out the impacts climate change will have on the United States, including on its citizens' health…
Some of those effects are easily identified, like the injuries and loss of life that result from more frequent and intense storms. Others are more subtle, like loss of power after a storm that may expose a region to extreme heat from lack of air conditioning, the cumulative effect from more allergies due to higher pollen counts, and the introduction of new diseases from warmer climes that Luber said are already popping up in unlikely places.
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Calls for More Engagement with Patients Grow

(MedPage Today) Payment models that reward doctors for helping patients take a greater part in planning their care are needed, and providers need to be taught how to engage patients in that planning, health policy experts said.
The current healthcare model doesn't provide enough incentives for doctors and other providers to encourage patients to be better managers of their own health, several articles in the February issue of Health Affairs point out. Patients thus engaged would take better care of themselves and adopt healthier lifestyles, the argument goes.
"Patient activation" -- equipping patients with skills to become actively engaged in their health -- has gained interest as health reform has placed increased financial risk on patient outcomes and cost.
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National Health Service Corps expands the primary care workforce

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) The National Health Service Corps awarded more than $10 million in funding for loan repayment to 87 medical students in 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, who will serve as primary care doctors and help strengthen the health care workforce, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.
Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the National Health Service Corps’ Students to Service Loan Repayment Program provides financial support to fourth year primary care medical students in exchange for their service in the communities that need them most.
“This new National Health Service Corps initiative is an innovative approach to encouraging more medical students to work in primary care, and to bring more primary care doctors to communities,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This is an important part of the administration’s commitment to building the future health care workforce.”
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Advocates work to expand 20-year-old Family and Medical Leave Act

(McClatchy) Twenty years after the Family and Medical Leave Act became law, 4 in 10 workers aren’t eligible to take temporary, unpaid leave to recover from serious illnesses or to care for new children or sick relatives…
The nonprofit advocacy group that wrote the original Family and Medical Leave Act is drafting proposals to expand the law…
One proposal would extend coverage to more workers. Another would create a paid family-leave insurance program. Funded through a small payroll tax – employer and employee each would pay two-tenths of 1 percent – the insurance program would provide two-thirds of an employee’s wages for up to 12 weeks of leave, [said Vicki Shabo, the director of work and family programs for the nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Family].
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How Medicare Beneficiaries Can Save Money on Prescription Drugs

(U.S. News & World Report) Medication costs can make up a large part of seniors citizens' budgets, but a few simple steps can easily save hundreds of dollars a year. The biggest single cost-saver? Picking the right Medicare plan. Whether you are preparing to renew your Medicare enrollment, or signing up for Medicare for the first time, you will want to make a careful selection so you don't end up spending more than you need to. Asking your doctors a few key questions—such as, Is there a generic?—can save you a bundle more.
First, focus on choosing the right drug plan, which depends in part on which drugs you take…
[A decision] tool is available through the federal government at Medicare.gov.
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