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

Balance dopamine to lose weight and beat addiction

(Natasha Turner, N.D., Chatelaine) Can’t put your blackberry down? Feel bored when you’re not at work? Late night binge behaviour? Believe it or not, all these things have a lot to do with dopamine – the neurotransmitter that’s heavily involved in the pleasure centre within the brain. It’s released in high amounts during gratifying activities such as eating, sex, exercise, dancing, and other enjoyable experiences…
While too little dopamine can leave us craving food, sex or stimulation, too much can cause addictive behaviours…
Many researchers today agree that dopamine is one of the reasons why foods can be addictive… Not surprisingly, almost all abusive drugs and addictive substances influence dopamine production…
Here are a number of suggestions you can implement to keep your dopamine levels steady and your weight loss goals within reach:
1. Dose of dopamine for weight loss
Researchers at Princeton University found dopamine decreased in rats when they lost weight on restricted eating programs… Strategies such as eating smaller amounts more frequently, avoiding skipping meals, enjoying more sex, getting a massage and increasing exercise can help provide the body with a natural dose of dopamine.
2. Leave it up to L-tyrosine
The amino acid tyrosine is a building block of dopamine, so supplements can definitely help perk up production of this important mood-influencing hormone…
3. Look for D- or dl-phenylalanine
Like tyrosine, phenylalanine is a building block of dopamine…
4. Relax with rhodiola
Rhodiola can enhance learning capacity and memory and may also be useful for treating fatigue, stress or depression.
Community: eHow lists some other techniques for increasing dopamine naturally.
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Revealing the scientific secrets of why people can't stop after eating one potato chip

(American Chemical Society) The scientific secrets underpinning that awful reality about potato chips — eat one and you're apt to scarf 'em all down — began coming out of the bag today in research presented [recently]…
"The effect of potato chips on brain activity, as well as feeding behavior, can only partially be explained by its fat and carbohydrate content," explained Tobias Hoch, Ph.D. "There must be something else in the chips that make them so desirable," he said.
In the study, rats were offered one out of three test foods in addition to their standard chow pellets: powdered standard animal chow, a mixture of fat and carbs, or potato chips… [T]he rats pursued the chips most actively and the standard chow least actively. This was further evidence that some ingredient in the chips was sparking more interest in the rats than the carbs and fats mixture, Hoch said.
Hoch explained that the team mapped the rats' brains using Manganese-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MEMRI) to monitor brain activity. They found that the reward and addiction centers in the brain recorded the most activity. But the food intake, sleep, activity and motion areas also were stimulated significantly differently by eating the potato chips…
If scientists can pinpoint the molecular triggers in snacks that stimulate the reward center in the brain, it may be possible to develop drugs or nutrients to add to foods that will help block this attraction to snacks and sweets, he said… On the other hand, Hoch said there is no evidence at this time that there might be a way to add ingredients to healthful, albeit rather unpopular, foods like Brussels sprouts to affect the rewards center in the brain positively.
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Obesity battle gets French weapon: Forks that vibrate on quick eaters

(Washington Times) French inventors have developed a new gadget they hope can help fight obesity — a fork that tells you when you’re eating too quickly.
It’s called the HAPIfork and it allows the consumer to quickly monitor and reduce the speed at which they eat, My Fox New York reports.
The utensil records when a person touches the fork to their mouth and can tell how much time passes in between each bite full.
If someone is eating too quickly, HAPIfork alerts them with a gentle vibration and indicator light to remind them to slow down, My Fox New York reports.
The inventors say slowing down and being more aware of what and how you’re eating are important things to consider when working toward a healthier diet.
Community: Slowing down and eating more mindfully can certainly help with weight loss, but I don’t think we need an expensive vibrating fork to make that lifestyle change.
I’ve mentioned before Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin” program. Here are the basics:
·         When you’re hungry, eat.
·         Eat what you want.
·         Eat mindfully.
·         Stop when you’re full.
It’s the most sensible advice I’ve ever received about eating.
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How gardening can make you 14 pounds lighter

(Daily Mail) FEELING a tad flabby? Get off the sofa and into the garden.
Those who spend their free time pruning the roses or pottering in the veggie patch are considerably trimmer than their non-gardening neighbours, a study showed.
Green-fingered women were a dress size smaller, while men who go to an allotment can expect to be around a stone [14 pounds] lighter.
The researchers said that exercise is not the only benefit to be reaped by getting out into the garden - home-grown fruit and veg can make your diet healthier into the bargain.
Previous studies have credited gardening with a host of benefits, from raising zest for life to boosting happiness.
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Fat Loss And Exercise

(James S. Fell, SixPackAbs.com) People want a quick fix. They want to hear they can accomplish more by doing less. And, recently, a study out of Denmark was conducted showing that could actually happen. I mean, it appears that way if you’re not looking at the big picture.
Using 61 sedentary and overweight men, they compared moderate exercise (burn 300 calories via exercise each day) with high exercise (600 calories per day). And guess what? The “moderate” group lost more weight…
For these candidates, 300 calories of exercise per day was the right amount of exercise (for now), but 600 was too much, too soon. My main point in this article is: They can get there!
Can you exercise so you’re burning 600 calories a day or even more? Hell, yes! But take your time getting there…
Let’s be clear: There is no “sweet spot” for exercise. There is what you can adapt yourself to, and this changes over time. Work hard, incrementally pushing your efforts, and you can go way beyond 600 calories a day burnt via exercise.
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More Weight Loss Tips

(Appetite for Health) What’s so great about nutrition is that most of us only need to make a few small tweaks to our diet and lifestyle to realize big changes in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and improvements in many of the risk factors for chronic diseases… Here are five tiny tweaks to make the healthy choice your first choice. 1) Put Fruits and Vegetables on Display… 2) Shop On the Edge… it’s where all of the fresh foods are kept… 3) Bag a Healthy Snack… 4) Pack Your Gym Clothes… Put the bag in your car and head right to the gym after work. 5) Change Your Route Home… Taking a different route home, past a farmer’s market, can help you eat healthier and support your local economy. 
(RealAge.com) in a recent study that looked at women's attitudes toward food, it turns out that the heaviest women were those who fell into the "impulsive eater" category -- they're tempted by advertising and by food they see or smell and tend to eat out of stress or boredom… If you're the type to eat what you see, make sure what you see is only tempting, healthy stuff. In other words, if your impulses guide you, let them guide you to the best foods from the ground.
(RealAge.com) Learning how to handle nonhunger eating urges before you grab the glazed doughnut makes the path to a slimmer, healthier you a lot easier. One technique that works: the virtual conveyor belt… [I]magine putting those "I'll never finish" feelings on a conveyor belt and watching them roll away, growing smaller until they disappear in the distance… If the conveyor belt doesn't work, try proven emotion easers like exercise and yoga… Or take a break: Maybe you really need to call a friend, not eat ice cream. If all else fails, take a nap. Sleep rejuvenates neurons in your brain that naturally release feel-good brain chemicals.
(Wray Herbert, Huffington Post) We do have the cognitive ability to project days or weeks or even years into the future, but we don't do it when we're making food choices in the here and now. What if we could trick ourselves into keeping our heads in the future?... [In a study, those] who cued future memories were much more likely to take the long view when it came to rewards, valuing distant future outcomes over the fast [reward]. In other words, by bringing the future to life with mental imagery, they were able to make decisions as if the future were now. Their decisions were more rational.
(The Supermarket Guru) We all know by now that olive oil, specifically extra virgin, is a very healthy addition to our diet – but a recent study presented at a German symposium on fat found that cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, ounce for ounce, may be more filling than other oils… Volunteers who ate yogurt with just olive oil consumed fewer calories over a three-month period than those who ate plain yogurt, and they finished the study with less body fat.
(Reader’s Digest) Stress eating? Tired and hungry? Appetite out of whack? No matter what the source, you can outwit your hunger with these simple strategies.
(WebMD News) Few situations can trip up someone who is watching their weight like an all-you-can-eat buffet. But a new research letter … suggests two strategies that may help dieters survive a smorgasbord: Picking up a smaller plate and circling the buffet before choosing what to eat.
More . . .

More News and Research on Obesity and Weight Loss

(McClatchy) Whether you're obese or not, obesity increases Americans' health expenditures by $1,723 a year per person. According to research reported this week, more than 1 in 4 Americans aged 18 and older - 66 million people - are defined as obese, or about 30 pounds over their ideal weight. The MetLife Mature Market Institute and Center for Health Aging said poor eating habits and lack of exercise have contributed to increased incidences of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
(MedPage Today) Being obese and not eating a healthy diet were associated with the development of early markers of kidney disease, researchers found… "Our findings suggest that an unhealthy lifestyle may heighten the risk for early stages of kidney disease (microalbuminuria), a risk factor for progression to later CKD stages, and cardiovascular disease," [the researchers] wrote.
(Reuters Health) Losing weight through exercise and healthier eating may have long-term benefits for people with mild sleep apnea, a new study suggests. Researchers found obese study participants who went through a one-year lifestyle intervention were about half as likely to see their sleep apnea progress to more severe disease, compared to those who received little extra help. People who have sleep apnea stop breathing for short spurts when their airway collapses or gets blocked while they're asleep. The condition is most common among heavy, middle-aged adults and in its advanced form has been tied to a range of cardiovascular problems.
(Science Daily) People given large servings of food eat more than those given smaller servings, even after they have been taught about the impact of portion size on consumption, research from the University of New South Wales shows. Learning how to engage in mindful -- rather than mindless -- eating also did not decrease food intake by a significant amount in those given large servings.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Successful weight loss may be all in the timing… [Investigators] found that late lunchers lost weight at a slower rate and lost significantly fewer pounds than those who ate lunch earlier. The investigators also noted that the timing of other, smaller meals played no apparent role in weight loss success. The researchers saw no differences between the two groups in total calorie intake and expenditure, levels of the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, and sleep duration. However, they found that late eaters who lost less weight ate little at breakfast and were more likely to skip the morning meal than the early eaters.
(BBC News) UK-based scientists have designed an 'intelligent' microchip which they claim can suppress appetite. Animal trials of the electronic implant are about to begin and its makers say it could provide a more effective alternative to weight-loss surgery. The chip is attached to the vagus nerve which plays a role in appetite as well as a host of other functions within the body.
More . . .


Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal. Your family will love the comforting flavors, and you'll love that it's surprisingly low in calories.
Seared Steak with Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Sauce
It only takes one skillet to make this restaurant-worthy pan-seared steak recipe with creamy caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce.
Los Angeles Times:
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Vegan is the 'new green' for Earth Day

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Earth Day, April 22, falls on a Meatless Monday this year, so people will have a double incentive to eat vegan meals. Vegan is the "new green." You can do more for the planet by going vegan than you can by recycling, using cloth bags, taking short showers and walking to work. These actions are important and worthwhile, of course - but if you're serious about saving the environment, you should opt for vegan foods instead of animal flesh.
Meat just has no place on an Earth Day menu. According to the United Nations, meat and dairy products require more resources and generate more greenhouse gasses than do plant-based foods. Fortunately, a recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture report suggests that meat consumption is on a steady decline in the United States. Per capita meat consumption has fallen for four straight years, according to the most recent statistics. The 6 percent drop between 2006 and 2010 - the largest decline since recordkeeping began in 1970 - indicates that many Americans are fed up with meat.
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Why Coffee is Good for You

(Appetite for Health) [A] daily cup (or two) of joe may have some real health benefits.  A recent New England Journal of Medicine study of 400,000 older Americans, reported that coffee drinkers were less likely to die over the next 14 years than were those who abstained from the beverage or rarely drank it.
This data adds to earlier research showing potential health benefits of coffee drinking for other diseases/conditions including:
Higher consumption of coffee is associated with decreased risk of Parkinson’s…
Coffee has also been linked to lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease…
Coffee may counter several risk factors for heart attack and stroke.
In addition, coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart rhythm disturbances (another heart attack and stroke risk factor) in men and women, and lower risk for strokes in women.
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Extra fiber tied to lower risk of stroke

(Reuters Health) People who get more fiber in their diet are less likely to have a stroke than those who skimp on the nutrient, according to a new review of existing research…
[R]esearchers found the risk of suffering a first stroke fell by 7 percent for every 7-gram increase in dietary fiber people reported each day - so that those who ate the most fiber had the lowest chance of stroke, according to findings published in the journal Stroke.
The average U.S. woman gets 13 grams of fiber per day, and the average man gets 17 grams - well below the Institute of Medicine recommendation of 24 and 35 grams, respectively.
An extra 7 grams could come from two slices of whole wheat bread and a serving of fruit, for example, [Victoria] Burley said. But even less than that - just 2 or 3 extra grams per day - might affect stroke risk.
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Scientists Transform Cellulose Into Starch: Potential Food Source Derived from Non-Food Plants

(Science Daily) A team of Virginia Tech researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally though of as food crops.
Y.H. Percival Zhang … led a team of researchers in the project that could help feed a growing global population that is estimated to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Starch is one of the most important components of the human diet and provides 20-40 percent of our daily caloric intake…
The type of starch that Zhang's team produced is amylose, a linear resistant starch that is not broken down in the digestion process and acts as a good source of dietary fiber. It has been proven to decrease the risk of obesity and diabetes…
"Besides serving as a food source, the starch can be used in the manufacture of edible, clear films for biodegradable food packaging," Zhang said. "It can even serve as a high-density hydrogen storage carrier that could solve problems related to hydrogen storage and distribution."
Zhang used a novel process involving cascading enzymes to transform cellulose into amylose starch.
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Where can I get the best deals on OTC drugs?

(Consumer Reports) Walmart and Target win out over drugstore chains like Rite-Aid, CVS, and Walgreens, as well as supermarkets, on prices for dozens of common, brand-name and generic over-the-counter drugs, according to our team of Secret Shoppers…
After visiting hundreds of stores, our shoppers found that small bottles remain the worst value, unless you have a coupon. So go small only if you're buying a drug you aren't likely to take very often. For those you take more frequently, go bigger--but not too big. We found that the smartest buy is usually not the giant bottle. Savings on medium sizes are comparable, and the drugs are less likely to expire before you get a chance to take them all.
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Young Women Rejecting Mammogram Guidelines, New Rates Suggest

(Huffington Post) It has been more than three years since a high-profile medical task force issued controversial guidelines saying that most women age 40 to 49 should no longer get routine mammograms.
But the recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) -- an independent panel that reviews a range of preventive services -- do not appear to have had any measurable effect on whether women actually get screened. In recent years, mammography rates have not gone down in any age group, including women in that 40-to-49 bracket, a new study … suggests.
"These recommendations -- which are recommendations from one of the most prominent national bodies out there --have not been widely adopted," study author Dr. Lydia Pace, a global women's health fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass., told HuffPost. "We have not seen the decrease you would expect if these recommendations had been widely adopted."
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STUDY: Doctors Do Fewer Unnecessary Tests And Procedures When They’re Told How Much It Costs

(ThinkProgress) According to a new Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, doctors who know the cost of the medical tests and procedures that they perform tend to choose to do fewer of them then those who don’t. That ends up sparing patients from unnecessary testing and preventing Medicare from paying unnecessary reimbursements.
The study involved observing two different groups of doctors and lab technicians at Johns Hopkins Hospital over two separate time periods, while giving them different amounts of information about the Medicare fee associated with the procedures they were ordering.
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UK watchdog accuses GSK over "pay-for-delay" drug deals

(Reuters) Britain's competition body accused GlaxoSmithKline of market abuse for striking deals with three generic drugmakers that paid them to delay launching cheap copies of its antidepressant Seroxat.
GSK, Britain's biggest drugmaker, said it believed it had acted lawfully. If it is found to have broken the law, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover, which amounted to 26.4 billion pounds ($40.4 billion) in 2012.
The move by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is the latest example of regulators trying to curb "pay-for-delay" deals, following a series of investigations against drug companies by U.S. and European antitrust officials.
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After Making $2 Billion In Profits, Insurer Complains It Doesn’t Get Enough Government Money

(ThinkProgress) By all appearances, UnitedHealth Group is having a stellar year. The mammoth company, which is the largest health insurer in America and the biggest manager of private Medicare Advantage plans, announced on Thursday that despite a 14 percent decline in earnings, it had still made a profit of $2.1 billion — and that was just in the last fiscal quarter.
UnitedHealth also won a major policy victory at the beginning of this month when the Obama Administration reversed course on its plan to cut reimbursements to Medicare Advantage plan providers by two percent. In fact, the Administration went the entirely opposite direction and announce it would raise these rates by 3.3 percent — a swing of 5.3 percent in UnitedHealth’s favor. Apparently, that isn’t enough for the insurance company. UnitedHealth is now threatening to reduce its involvement in managing Medicare plans, claiming that its government reimbursements are still too low.
Community: Let me say it one more time – Medicare Advantage is a scam. It was sold to taxpayers as a way of saving money on Medicare costs, because private companies are always more efficient than government, right?
Whoever made that calculation forgot or intentionally withheld the fact that private companies have to make a profit, and government entities don’t. Medicare Advantage programs have to be subsidized, and that subsidy goes to profits. I really resent having tax money go directly to private company profits. Really.
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AP-GfK poll: Public lacks faith in government, opposes changes to Medicare, Social Security

(Washington Post) [O]nly about one in five Americans say they trust the government to do what’s right most of the time, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.
Most adults disapprove of Obama’s handling of the federal deficit, a festering national problem. But they also dislike key proposals to reduce deficit spending, including a slower growth in Social Security benefits and changes to Medicare…
Opposition to raising the Medicare eligibility age has grown over the last few months in AP-GfK polling. Shortly after the fall election, 48 percent opposed such a plan, while 40 percent supported it. Opposition has grown by 11 points since then, with 59 percent now saying they dislike the idea.
Community: I’d like to know who those 20% are who think the government does what’s right most of the time. Congress has a barely above zero rating on doing what’s right.
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Boston Bombing Aftermath: Fear, Empathy, Anger

(WebMD Health News) It’s normal to feel a range of emotions … after the terror bombing attack at the Boston Marathon, even if you were thousands of miles away.
Los Angeles psychologist Emanuel Maidenberg, PhD, says that in the wake of all that horror, it's understandable that emotions are still raw and intense. "People become vigilant, they look around, they become apprehensive," says Maidenberg…
For the first few days after such a catastrophe, Maidenberg says, sharing your feelings with others can help.
The tendency to stay plugged in constantly to news reports, though, can be mentally unhealthy, he says. "We want to know what's happening, who's behind it," he says. That helps us deal with some of the uncertainty.
But it can also keep you from your regular activities, which is good for healing, he says. He suggests limiting your news viewing.  "My advice is, you do want to seek accurate and timely information. Once or twice a day, check in," he says. The rest of the time, it's better to go about your typical activities, he says.
This is the time to pay even more attention to your usual stress-reduction techniques and to do more of them, not less. It’s wise to give yourself a reality check, too. "We should also remind ourselves that the likelihood of this happening to us remains extremely low," he says.
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More Health-Related News on the Boston Marathon Bombing

(Huffington Post) Lloyd Sederer, medical director of the New York State Office of Mental Health…, said many witnesses to the Boston attack may have trauma symptoms in the days and possibly weeks after the bombings, including a general sense of fear, mental replays of the experience and nightmares. But he cautioned that a minority could develop longer-lasting PTSD and related symptoms, such sudden debilitating flashbacks, anxiety, social isolation and drug and alcohol abuse… In New York and across several states, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a 24-hour, toll-free "disaster distress helpline" (1-800-985-5990).
(USA Today) The most severe injuries in the Boston bombing resemble those suffered by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan whose limbs were blown apart by improvised explosive devices, and the initial treatment was also identical: First responders, and in some instances, spectators - used tourniquets to cut off the blood flow and stop severe bleeding… While the thinking about when to apply a tourniquet is evolving, only trained people should use them or only as a last resort, according to Jeffrey Pellegrino, a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Red Cross. He says the limb below the tourniquet can be damaged when blood flow is cut off for too long and might have to be amputated.
(Vitals, NBC News) As surgeons and physicians worked to mend nearly 70 hospitalized victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, a new toll emerged: The total medical costs inflicted by the attack may eventually reach or surpass $9 million, according to a rough calculation. The precise health-care price tag won’t be fully known for months as some of the injured, particularly those who lost limbs, undergo extended rehabilitation (which can cost more than $200 per hour) to re-learn walking. Much also depends on whether mental-health experts begin to see witnesses or survivors who struggle with post traumatic stress disorder.
(MedPage Today) In the aftermath of Monday’s marathon bombing, emergency physicians here are tasked with not only saving lives but also saving evidence… "We collaborate closely with forensic pathologists and law enforcement," said [Louis Alarcon, MD], medical director of trauma surgery. "Our first priority is to save the patient's life -- life and limb over everything. Once we achieve those goals, we also have a strong duty to the evidence."
(UPI) Some dogs of the Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dog program were taken to visit hospital patients injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, a minister said… The … program sends dogs and handlers to areas traumatized by disasters… The program's philosophy is: "A dog is a friend who brings a calming influence, allowing people to open up their hearts and receive help for what is affecting them."
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Tragedies are becoming too commonplace

(Pete Hayes, Alton Telegraph) One of the saddest things about being the national tragedy columnist is that there have been so many of them that such a nickname even crossed someone’s mind. It was mentioned in jest - as if levity is even allowed at a time like this. I can’t recall exactly which tragedy it was.
Sandy Hook? Columbine? Oklahoma City? Atlanta Olympics? Or was it 9/11?...
We’ve seen it so many times. Senseless shootings, assassinations, bombings - or even natural disasters…
[Boston] will:
A. Bounce back, and
B. Kick the cowards where it will really, really hurt.
I can’t wait to watch.
Community: What the Heck is Going On?
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Anxious? Tylenol may help

(UPI) For those who suffer from fear and anxiety over the human condition, or what U.S. researchers like to call, "existential dread," Tylenol may help…
In [a] study, participants took acetaminophen or a placebo while performing tasks designed to evoke anxiety -- including writing about death or watching a surreal David Lynch video -- and then were asked to assign fines to different types of crimes, including public rioting and prostitution.
The study … found the people who took acetaminophen were significantly more lenient in judging the acts of the criminals and rioters -- and better able to cope with troubling ideas -- than the placebo group. The results suggested participants' existential suffering was "treated" by the headache drug, [lead author Daniel] Randles said.
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Grilled Cumin Chicken with Fresh Tomatillo Sauce
Bring the heat of the southwest to the dinner table with a delicious take on the weeknight meal of grilled chicken. Serve with chipotle rice.
White Pizza with Clams
Here’s an easy homemade pizza recipe that is a take on white clam pizza, which was first made famous by Frank Pepe of Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut. Look for fresh clam strips in the seafood department. You can find them ready to use out of their shells at most large supermarkets. If you don’t want to use fresh, we also like the briny flavor and convenience of canned chopped clams.
The Supermarket Guru:
Pan Roasted Lemon Ginger Salmon
This delicious and nutritious dish has only 173 calories per serving, paired with a salad or steamed vegetables it is so tasty you'll think it came from a fancy restaurant rather than your own kitchen!
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USDA: a nation of bad eaters stays bad

(The Lempert Report) American households underspend on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and overspend on fats, sugars/sweets, refined grains and convenience foods—when compared with USDA Dietary Guidelines, a USDA Economic Research Service analysis of 23 broad food categories shows.
The ERS studied Nielsen Homescan data for the period between 1998 and 2006, and found little change in the nation’s food choices over time.
Away-from-home foods further impair diet quality today, says ERS, noting they’re less healthful and account for one-third of our daily caloric intake:  “Americans still make poor dietary choices…[despite federal] guidelines widely promoted and updated every five years to keep pace with advances in nutrition knowledge.”
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Foods to Boost Respiratory Health

(The Supermarket Guru) According to the American Lung Association, the average adult takes 15 to 20 breaths a minute, that’s over 20,000 breaths a day. Your respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, windpipe (trachea) and lungs, brings air into the body when you breathe. In the lungs, the oxygen from each breath is transferred to the bloodstream and sent to all the body’s cells as life-sustaining fuel. Keeping your lungs healthy is essential for optimal health.
Here are some foods you can shop to promote respiratory and overall health:
Yogurt and kefir…
Seasonal fruits and vegetables…
Herbal teas, broth, and soups…
Fatty fish…
Overall a colorful diet rich in fresh, seasonal produce will promote optimal health - and choosing the foods mentioned above will boost respiratory health.
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Q&A: Is fully hydrogenated oil better for you than partially hydrogenated oil?

(Consumer Reports) Q: Is it true that fully hydrogenated vegetable oil is better for you than partially hydrogenated?...
A: Yes, but that doesn't mean that it's good for you. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that converts liquid vegetable oil into solid fat. Partially hydrogenated oils, such as shortening and soft margarine, are semi-soft. Oils that are fully hydrogenated are firmer, and don't contain any of the dangerous artery-inflaming trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oils. But they do harbor some saturated fat in the form of stearic acid, which is created during the hydrogenation process. Both trans fats and saturated fats contribute to your risk of heart disease.
So it's best to avoid hydrogenated oils in general, especially since they tend to show up in high-fat dishes that aren't that good for you anyway, such as fried food, fast food, and processed baked goods.
For more, see our article on good and bad fats.
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Community Gardens May Produce More Than Vegetables

(Science Daily) People who participate in community gardening have a significantly lower body mass index -- as well as lower odds of being overweight or obese -- than do their non-gardening neighbors…
"It has been shown previously that community gardens can provide a variety of social and nutritional benefits to neighborhoods," says Cathleen Zick, lead author of [a] study… "But until now, we did not have data to show a measurable health benefit for those who use the gardens."…
Results showed that women community gardeners had an average BMI 1.84 lower than their neighbors, which translates to an 11 pound weight difference for a woman 5 feet 5 inches tall. For men, the BMI was lower by 2.36 for gardeners -- a difference of 16 pounds for a man 5 feet 10 inches tall -- compared to the neighborhood cohort. Gardeners were also less likely to be overweight or obese; 46 percent less for women gardeners, and 62 percent less for men gardeners…
"These data are intriguing, although they were drawn from participants in a single community gardening organization in Salt Lake City and may not apply broadly until more research is done," Zick notes. "However, as the percentage of Americans living in urban areas continues to grow, this initial study validates the idea that community gardens are a valuable neighborhood asset that can promote healthier living. That could be of interest to urban planners, public health officials and others focused on designing new neighborhoods and revitalizing old ones."
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Food Illness-Decline Stalls as Safety Rules Arrive Late

(Bloomberg) Regulators have their work cut out in enforcing stricter U.S. food-safety rules set in motion this year, according to new data that show progress in reducing contamination has slowed from about six years ago.
Total cases of foodborne illness were unchanged last year from 2006-2008, stalling from “substantial declines” in earlier years, according to preliminary data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some incidents increased, including a 43 percent jump in vibrio, a bacterial infection often acquired by eating raw oysters.
The Obama administration has been slow to fully enact the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, which was supposed to be the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. food safety in 70 years. The administration this year proposed the first major regulations, which Congress called for after poisonings related to cookie dough, spinach, jalapenos and other foods killed at least nine people and sickened more than 700 in 2008 and 2009.
“There’s not a lot of recent progress to talk about,” said Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Atlanta-based CDC’s division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, in an interview. “That means there’s more that could be done.”
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FDA chief defends budget, says agency is taxpayer 'bargain'

(Reuters) The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Congress for more money on Thursday to improve food safety, police imports and develop countermeasures against chemical and biological threats.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that the agency is doing its best to tighten its belt by cutting back on travel and training. She said mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration will cut funds to the agency by $209 million.
The FDA gets part of its funding from taxpayers, but most comes from user fees agreed to and paid by drug companies to speed the review and potential approval of new products…
To the surprise of the pharmaceutical industry, the mandatory cuts to federal agencies include the withholding of $83 million in industry user fees. Hamburg said she would like to see those fees exempt from the sequester.
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Despite Growing Threat Of Deadly Superbugs, New Antibiotic Research Screeches To A Halt

(ThinkProgress) Since March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been ramping up its warnings about the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria — especially carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a dangerous “superbug” that could potentially kill half of all people who contract it. Addressing this impending global health threat requires creating robust new antibiotics that can kill superbugs, and that’s part of the reason that the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched a “10×20″ initiative to develop 10 new bacteria-busting drugs by the year 2020. Unfortunately, scientists now say they are likely to fall far short of that goal, raising concerns that global health institutions won’t be ready for a worldwide bacterial epidemic if it were to strike.
In modern times, antibiotics are largely taken for granted. But this complacent public attitude ignores the reality that such treatments require years — if not decades — to develop. Antibiotics also have limited shelf lives, since bacteria evolve and adapt to them. That wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that there have been zero major new antibiotics developed in the last 25 years, leaving the global community susceptible to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.
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Knee Bracing Can 'Significantly' Reduce Pain of Kneecap Osteoarthritis, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Wearing a knee brace has been shown to "significantly improve the pain and symptoms" of a type of osteoarthritis affecting the kneecap, according to a new study…
"There's a pressing need for non-surgical interventions for knee osteoarthritis, and little attention has been paid to treatments particularly aimed at the kneecap (the patellofemoral joint), a major source of knee pain," explained Dr Michael Callaghan, research associate in rehabilitation science at the University of Manchester.
"We've shown that something as simple as a lightweight knee brace can dramatically improve the symptoms and function for people with this particular type of knee osteoarthritis."
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Care Improves When Docs Consider Context

(MedPage Today) Patients benefit when clinicians included "context" -- life circumstances and needs -- in decision-making and formulating care plans, an observational study found.
Just over 70% of patient-physician encounters that produced a "contextualized" plan for care led to a positive outcome, compared with 46% of visits that disregarded patient life factors, according to Saul J. Weiner, MD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues.
After controlling for variables such as clinician gender, patients with contextualized care plans -- also called patient-centered decision making -- were almost four times as likely to show improvements…, the researchers reported.
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Nevada state mental hospital under scrutiny for possible 'patient dumping'

(McClatchy) A Nevada state mental hospital's practice of discharging psychiatric patients to Greyhound buses and transporting them to cities and towns across the country is under investigation by the independent, nonprofit body that accredits hospitals nationwide.
In addition, city attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles are exploring whether the practice constitutes a form of cross-state "patient dumping," and might be grounds for legal action against Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital and Nevada health authorities.
The responses follow a report in Sunday's Sacramento Bee that revealed that Rawson-Neal, Nevada's primary psychiatric hospital, has bused more than 1,500 mentally ill patients out of southern Nevada in the last five years, sending at least one person to every state in the continental United States.
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