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

Marijuana Users Have Better Blood Sugar Control

(Science Daily) Regular marijuana use is associated with favorable indices related to diabetic control, say investigators. They found that current marijuana users had significantly lower fasting insulin and were less likely to be insulin resistant, even after excluding patients with a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus…
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) has been used for centuries to relieve pain, improve mood, and increase appetite. Outlawed in the United States in 1937, its social use continues to increase and public opinion is swinging in favor of the medicinal use of marijuana…
[In the current study, participants] who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and HOMA-IR and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). These associations were weaker among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past thirty days, suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use. Current users had 16% lower fasting insulin levels than participants who reported never having used marijuana in their lifetimes.
Large waist circumference is linked to diabetes risk. In the current study there were also significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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Nurses Lead the Way to Better Diabetes Therapy

(MedPage Today) A program led by certified diabetes nurse educators helped patients titrate insulin and improve key diabetes parameters, researchers reported…
Compared with baseline, 84 patients in a nurse-led study reduced glycosylated hemoglobin A1c from 10.6% to 8.9% … over the course of a year, and lowered their fasting home glucose levels from a baseline of 196 mg/dL to 146 mg/dL…, reported Jacob Cohen, MD…
Among the 45 patients who also received simultaneous Diabetes Self-Management Training in the diabetes management clinic, HbA1c decreased an additional 1.92%..., but patients who only had diabetes titration instruction were unable to significantly reduce HbA1c the researchers reported.
"Our study demonstrated that a nurse-led Diabetes Medication Management Clinic may be an effective resource to help improve glycemic control at least in short term," Cohen wrote.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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Local Health Departments Find Twitter Effective in Spreading Diabetes Information

(Science Daily) The web-based social media site Twitter is proving to be an effective tool for local health departments in disseminating health information -- especially in promoting specific health behaviors.
The latest study, led by Jenine K. Harris, PhD…, focused on diabetes, a disease that may affect an estimated one-third of U.S. adults by 2050. "We focused on diabetes first, both because of increasing diabetes rates," Harris says, "and also because people living with diabetes tend to use online health-related resources at a fairly high rate, so they are an audience that is already online and on social media."…
Health departments tweeting about diabetes were in larger cities, had more staff including public information specialists, and had higher per capita spending than those not tweeting about diabetes. Local health departments tweeting about diabetes were more likely to provide programs in diabetes-related areas like nutrition, physical activity, and chronic disease.
Community: These are the kinds of services that are being cut by sequestration, along with the states cutting their own contributions to these services. However, there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

(RealAge.com) Daily exercise, like walking 30 minutes a day, and losing 5% to 10% of your body weight can help with type 2 diabetes prevention by lowering your risk up to 58%. If you have trouble sticking to this tried-and-true approach, here are some clever ways to prevent diabetes:
1.    Cut back on red meat. One palm-sized daily serving of red meat increases your diabetes risk 19%. Gobble down a hot dog, a sausage patty, or two bacon strips daily and your risk soars 51%.
2.    Keep a food journal. Recording every bite you eat each day can double your weight loss, and that's a big part of the type 2 diabetes prevention plan.
3.    Get busy. Sex eases stress and increases self-esteem, and that helps you make healthier food and activity choices.
4.    Sip coffee. Three cups of Joe a day decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
5.    Eat Greek. A Mediterranean diet (veggies, fruits, nuts, olive oil, seafood, and not much dairy or meat) slashes your risk of type 2 diabetes by 83%.
With daily exercise, weight loss, and easy lifestyle changes, you’ll be on your way to a healthy, happy, and long life.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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More Recent Research on Diabetes

(MedPage Today) Measuring capillary blood via finger stick assay was as accurate as venous blood sample assays in predicting 5-year likelihood of diabetes, researchers reported… Finger stick assay was also significantly better at predicting diabetes than fasting glucose, [said Theodore Tarasow, PhD]… The PreDx test uses an algorithm that measures seven biomarkers, which are weighted by patient age and gender to ascertain diabetes risk.
(MedPage Today) Whether a person has type 1 diabetes or type 2, hypoglycemia has a serious impact on quality of life, researchers found… Severe hypoglycemia -- defined as an episode that required assistance from a third party -- was also associated with lower scores in the physical health, mental health, and general health.
(MedPage Today) A protocol that provides extra office visits for type 2 diabetes patients starting on insulin appears to reduce HbA1c more effectively than standard treatment, researchers said… "Our study shows that intensifying patient education by increasing clinical encounters improves glycemic control as compared to the standard treatment," the authors wrote. "These results suggest that standardizing early intense insulin initiation protocols could optimize HbA1c, prevent short-term complications, minimize chronic hyperglycemia, weight gain, and ultimately reduce long-term morbidity and mortality."
(Science Daily) Diabetics have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and plaque build-up in their arteries, even if they receive cholesterol-lowering therapies. New research … reveals that high blood sugar levels also boost the production of inflammatory cells, which contribute to plaque build-up in blood vessels. The researchers identify the cause of this increased production in inflammatory cells and find that blocking this new pathway could help safeguard the heart health of diabetic patients.
(Science Daily) A newer class of medications used to control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics may also improve cardiovascular health, researchers … reported in a new meta-analysis… Researchers found that the use of glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists, known as GLP-1 mimetics, resulted in a systolic blood pressure (SBP) reduction of -2.22 mmHg, a loss of almost six pounds, and a decrease of HbA1c -- an indicator of blood sugar levels -- of 0.41 percent.
(Science Daily) In a promising development for diabetes treatment, researchers have developed a network of nanoscale particles that can be injected into the body and release insulin when blood-sugar levels rise, maintaining normal blood sugar levels for more than a week in animal-based laboratory tests… The new, injectable nano-network is composed of a mixture containing nanoparticles with a solid core of insulin, modified dextran and glucose oxidase enzymes. When the enzymes are exposed to high glucose levels they effectively convert glucose into gluconic acid, which breaks down the modified dextran and releases the insulin. The insulin then brings the glucose levels under control.
(MedPage Today) Insulin resistance in diabetic men with decreased sex hormones was reversed after testosterone replacement, researchers reported… Type 2 diabetes patients with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism who received testosterone therapy had a significant 25% increase in insulin sensitivity after 24 weeks of treatment compared with patients who received placebo therapy…, according to Sandeep Dhindsa, MD.
More . . .

Recipes

Mediterranean Foods Alliance:
Tuna and White Bean Salad
Tuna in cans or pouches is an economical way to add flavorful, lean protein to a meal. This recipe is easy on the family budget and quick to prepare.
Greek Feta Salad in Shot Glasses
Thanks to its bold flavor, a little bit of feta cheese goes a long way. Purchase just a small amount to go easy on your wallet, but still reap big flavor benefits.
Farfalle with Zucchini, Butternut Squash & Pecorino Cheese
This family-friendly meal makes a great vegetarian option for a weeknight dinner.
MyRecipes.com:
Thai Red Curry Shrimp
Get restaurant-quality cuisine right in your own kitchen with this shrimp recipe that is packed with Thai flavors.
EatingWell:
Eggplant Parmesan Pizza
Eggplant Parm is spun into a pizza with grilled eggplant, marinara, fresh basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Beer pairing: Sweet and bitter elements on this pizza need a similarly balanced beer. A pale ale or amber ale fills the bill beautifully.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Roasted Halibut with Corn Milk & Sweet Corn & Tomato Salad | Craft, LA
'Stolen with permission' from Anthony Zappola, Chef de Cuisine at Craft Los Angeles, this recipe embodies the Craft attitude to food, which has been praised by renowned Los Angeles Times Food Critic, S. Irene Virbila. In his role at Craft, Zappola experiments with an abundance of local ingredients, while honoring the Craft philosophy of keeping food simple and flavorful.
Chef Jamie's Penne with Spicy Shrimp, Asparagus & Basil Pistachio Pesto
Asparagus are bountiful right now, pistachios make pesto perfectly delicious and the shrimp round out this spring meal beautifully. Pour a lively Italian Pinot Grigio to cut through the pesto's richness and complement its herbal and nutty flavors.
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Salad Smarts: Create Healthier Meals with Greens

(Appetite for Health) Eating salad can be a great way to boost important nutrients in your diet. One study … found that just one salad serving per day boosted blood levels of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene and carotenoids in the bloodstream and another study found that eating a large salad as your starter can reduce the overall calories you eat in that meal by 12 percent!
But salads aren’t always the best choice when watching your weight. You can easily build your own salad from a salad bar that tops 1,000 calories and many restaurant salads are drowning in dressing, sending calorie counts sky high. Consider: An Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘N Spinach Salad has 960 calories and 65g fat and California Pizza Kitchen’s California Cobb with Ranch Dressing carries 940 calories and 72g fat.
Toppings that make salads rich in calories and unhealthy saturated fat include full-fat dressing, cheese, croutons, and mayo-rich options like tuna or egg salad. The best choices are obvious: salad greens, any raw or cooked veggies; beans; lean proteins like chicken or turkey and a light (not fat free) dressing.
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Delicious Ways to Enjoy Fresh Berries

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are some of summer’s sweetest natural treats. On the South Beach Diet, you can enjoy these fiber-rich berries on Phase 2 and beyond. Berries may be small fruits, but they pack a big punch; they are a delicious source of disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. Whether you like them in your salads, smoothies, desserts, soups, or drinks, these jewel-like fruits are so versatile they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Berry Smoothie…
Berry Parfait…
Salads…
Berrylicious Sparkler…
Berry Salsa
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Eggs, even with their cholesterol, are a good source of protein for most people

(Consumers Union) A 2012 study suggested a link between egg-yolk consumption and plaque buildup in the carotid artery, a significant predictor of heart disease. That study contrasts with earlier research that found no evidence linking egg consumption with coronary disease.
“What appears to be more important than an individual food is total cholesterol intake, regardless of whether it comes from eggs or other food sources such as full-fat dairy products or meat,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston…
On the plus side, eggs have many nutritional benefits. They’re a good source of high-quality protein, with relatively few calories (6.3 grams of protein for only 72 calories in a large egg). Eggs also contain vitamins B12 and D, and several essential micronutrients, including choline (important for brain health) and lutein (for eye health).
Bottom line: It’s not necessary to avoid eggs completely, especially if you’re healthy. But eat them in moderation and try to keep your bigger dietary picture in mind. For instance, swap the sausage, bacon or ham in your quiche for mushrooms, spinach and green or red peppers. Or consider holding the cheese from your next egg sandwich.
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Body Mass Index of Low Income African-Americans Linked to Proximity of Fast Food Restaurants

(Science Daily) African-American adults living closer to a fast food restaurant had a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who lived further away from fast food, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and this association was particularly strong among those with a lower income…
"According to prior research, African-Americans, particularly women, have higher rates of obesity than other ethnic groups, and the gap is growing," said [Lorraine Reitzel, Ph.D.]. "The results of this study add to the literature indicating that a person's neighborhood environment and the foods that they're exposed to can contribute to a higher BMI."
Reitzel said that this is an important population group for researchers to examine because of the health consequences that are associated with obesity among African-Americans including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
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Security Risks Found in Sensors for Heart Devices, Consumer Electronics

(Science Daily) The type of sensors that pick up the rhythm of a beating heart in implanted cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers are vulnerable to tampering, according to a new study conducted in controlled laboratory conditions.
Implantable defibrillators monitor the heart for irregular beating and, when necessary, administer an electric shock to bring it back into normal rhythm. Pacemakers use electrical pulses to continuously keep the heart in pace.
In experiments in simulated human models, an international team of researchers demonstrated that they could forge an erratic heartbeat with radio frequency electromagnetic waves. Theoretically, a false signal like the one they created could inhibit needed pacing or induce unnecessary defibrillation shocks.
Community: The plot of one of the scripted crime shows I watch involved the murder of someone by hacking his pacemaker and delivering a big shock, stopping the heart. Fiction sometimes precedes reality. They’d better get a handle on this problem.
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Experimental iPhone Heart Attack App May Save Lives

(Everyday Health) An experimental iPhone App transmits electrocardiogram (EKG) images faster and more reliably than standard methods, according to researchers, which may give doctors an important tool to help them treat patients who might be having a heart attack and for whom each minute matters.
The experimental app takes a photo of the EKG, which measures how well a patient's heart is functioning. The app reduces the photo's size and centers it, while maintaining the high level of clarity needed for an accurate heart attack diagnosis. 
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Clinical Support for Patient Self-Management Is Rhetoric Rather Than Reality, Experts Say

(Science Daily) The processes to allow people to self-manage their own illness are not being used appropriately by health professionals to the benefit of their patients, new research suggests.
Self-management support aims to increase the patient's ability to take ownership over their condition and in some cases, to self-treat. It is widely seen as critical to ensure the sustainability of health services in terms of costs. Although potentially effective, patient based interventions can be limited as not all patients engage with them. However, embedding self-management support discussions and decisions into everyday clinical practices is thought to encourage patients to become more actively involved…
[F]eedback and assessments showed that while practices engaged with and enjoyed the training, they did not use the approach to improve shared decision-making with patients or encourage the take-up of self-management support. There was no difference in results for any patient outcomes or on service use between the group that had the self-management approach and the group which received usual care.
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Medical Research Needs a Collaborative Funding Model

(Discover Magazine) [T]oday’s competition for limited grant money encourages overly safe research, aimed more at producing positive results to bolster future proposals than at breaking new ground…
Instead of competition and secrecy, the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation (AMRF) believes that collaboration and openness best fuel breakthrough science. The foundation’s innovative funding model upends traditional incentives. Rather than pitting scientists against each other, AMRF recruits and funds groups of top university researchers who agree to work as collaborators in solving two major medical problems: cancer and neural repair (which would benefit stroke and spinal cord injury victims). 
At regular meetings, AMRF researchers discuss ongoing work, share ideas and data — including negative results — and adjust plans in light of any new developments. Streamlined application and approval processes cut the time and paperwork researchers must spend in search of grant money.
For scientists schooled in rivalry, “establishing the trust that your comrade wouldn’t run with your ideas or beat you to the punch … took a while, and a lot of team-building exercises,” recalls [neurologist and neuroscientist S. Thomas] Carmichael, who leads AMRF’s neural repair program. 
“But over time, it really worked, and then it released a huge amount of energy because we were now really collaborative. We could rapidly riff on each other with new ideas.” This has allowed “true discovery science,” producing fundamental advances in “understanding the molecular control of regeneration and how cells communicate to rebuild injured tissues,” Carmichael adds.
Community: How interesting that Sheldon Adelson, who supports right-wing politicians, is the backer of a collaborative approach to research.
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Massachusetts' Health Care Reform Didn't Raise Hospital Use, Costs

(Science Daily) Massachusetts' healthcare reform didn't result in substantially more hospital use or higher costs, according to data…
The findings were true even among safety-net hospitals, which often have an open-door policy to accept patients regardless of the ability to pay. These hospitals are most likely to care for people who need free services, use Medicaid or must pay their own hospital bills.
"In light of the Affordable Healthcare Act, we wanted to validate concerns that insurance reform would lead to dramatic increases in healthcare use and costs," said Amresh D. Hanchate, Ph.D., the study's lead author… "We were surprised to find little impact on healthcare use. Changes we saw in Massachusetts are very similar to those we saw in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania -- states without reform."
Massachusetts reformed its healthcare system in 2006, increasing the number of people insured by 300,000.
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The Washington Post Becomes a Tool of the Right Wing

Editorials disguised as news articles:
(Washington Post) Many small-business owners worry that a new tax on insurance providers in the health-care law will mean higher premiums for them, undermining the law's capacity to lower their health-care costs.
(AP, via Washington Post) With Congress increasingly unable to resolve budget disputes, federal programs on automatic pilot are consuming ever larger amounts of government resources. The trend helps older Americans, who receive the bulk of Social Security and Medicare benefits, at the expense of younger people. This generational shift draws modest public debate. But it alarms some policy advocates, who say the United States is reducing vital investments in the future.
Community: First of all, Social Security is not an “entitlement” program, it’s an EARNED BENEFIT program. Those of us who have been working since 1984 have PREPAID OUR RETIREMENT. As to Medicare, expenditures are not growing as quickly as expected. Third of all, the same people who want to steal our retirement and force us to pay for our own medical care while leaving us increasingly unable to do so, don’t have any intention of “investing” in young people. They disapprove of any spending on education.
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42 Percent Of Americans Unaware Health Law Exists

(Kaiser Health News) A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation says 42 percent of Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act actually still stands. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.) Mary Agnes Carey joined NPR’s “Tell Me More” Friday afternoon to discuss the state of the health law and other health policy issues.
Community: Looks like all the hatefulness and bitterness expressed on our national airwaves and internet tubes has totally turned people off.
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U.S. Trade Agreements Threaten Public Health and Freedom

(David Brodwin, American Sustainable Business Council) [M]odern trade pacts reach deep into our lives in ways that have nothing to do with trade.  Deals now under discussion undermine the freedom of people everywhere to decide how to live, and they restrict the ability of democratically-elected governments to promote public health.  It's time for the rest of us to pay attention:  A recent trade spat between Cuba and Australia shows exactly what's at stake.
Last week, the socialist government of Cuba filed an action at the World Trade Organization to confront Australia's public health policy, according to a generally-ignored article in the New York Times.  Cuba cares greatly about tobacco; it is one of Cuba's leading export products and is an important source of hard currency.  Australia on the other hand cares greatly about the health of its citizens.  Australia  has enacted some of the strictest restrictions in the world on the design of cigarette package, banning logos, colors and promotional text.
Australia's campaign against smoking aims to cut smoking rates to 10 percent by 2018, roughly half recent U.S. smoking rates. Reducing smoking helps people lives longer and reduces the costs of Australia's health care system, which like ours, is a mix of public and private options. By cutting health care costs, Australia's anti-smoking program helps taxpayers, too.
Unfortunately, what's good for Australia is, in this case, bad for Cuba.  Cuba wants to dismantle Australia's anti-smoking policy. Cuba claims that Australia's tobacco labeling law is a "technical barrier" to trade, and as such it breaks the rules of the World Trade Organization. If Australia and Cuba don't reach agreement on their own, the case goes before the WTO's "Dispute Settling Body" which will hear evidence and reach a judgment. If the WTO rules in Cuba's favor, Australia will have to dismantle its anti-smoking program or face retaliatory tariffs or fines.
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Diet Changes That Might Cut Breast Cancer Risk

(Angela Haupt, U.S. News & World Report) By now, we all know that Angelina Jolie quietly underwent a preventive double mastectomy after learning she carried a genetic mutation that sharply increased her risk of breast cancer…
While you can't do anything about the genes you were born with, committing to a sound diet can help protect against breast cancer. "Researchers estimate that in the U.S., we can prevent about 38 percent of breast cancers with some basic healthy steps," says registered dietitian Karen Collins, a nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research. "We can make a difference without doing anything extreme."
While no food or dietary approach can flat-out prevent breast cancer, the risk of developing the disease could be reduced. Here's a roundup of findings.
A plant-based diet…
Red, yellow and orange fruits and veggies…
Walnuts…
Cutting back on alcohol…
Cabbage and sauerkraut…
Vitamin D…
Peaches and plums…
Fiber…
Avoiding high-fat dairy foods…
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Spring is the perfect time to taste the rainbow

(Baltimore Sun) Spring showers inspire the growth of a colorful array of fruits and vegetables to decorate your dishes, tempt your taste buds and nourish yourself naturally.
Vibrantly colored produce adds visual appeal to any dish without the use of synthetic dyes or additives. More importantly, these brightly colored foods pack a powerful nutrition punch. Fruits and vegetables have a high nutrient density, meaning they provide high amounts of nutrients for a low amount of calories. Choosing more foods with higher nutrient density is linked with healthy body weight, greater energy levels and lower risk of chronic disease. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (www.eatright.org) recommends most adults should "strive for five" servings of fruits and vegetables daily, as a general goal to improve diet and nutrition. This comes to about two cups daily of fruits and vegetables. For more information on getting enough produce, see [here] or [here].
Experiment with different color combinations to paint a daily menu full of vitamins and minerals: The brighter the better. Visit the supermarket or a farmers' market to see what's in season. Or consider signing up for Community Supported Agriculture programs that link you to a local farm where you reap the fresh bounty all season: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ has more information.
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Can Diet Ease Menopausal Symptoms?

(The Supermarket Guru) Eating a Mediterranean style diet may be the key to preventing hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. Fresh fruit also added to the likelihood of less menopausal issues, according to a new Australian study…
Researchers from the University of Queensland analyzed data collected from over 6,000 women, age 50 to 55, from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health with a natural menopause. Their diet and menopausal symptoms were assessed at the beginning of the study as well as during follow up for a total of nine years…
The study's authors concluded: “Consumption of a fruit or Mediterranean-style diet decreased the risk of reporting VMSs (vasomotor menopausal symptoms), whereas consumption of a high-fat and -sugar diet increased the risk of VMSs. These results may eventually lead to a basis for the development of dietary preventive measures for VMSs.”
The study can't prove certain foods prevent or trigger hot flashes, researchers said. But it's one of the first yet to tie general dietary patterns, to menopause-related symptoms.
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5 Foods That Can Improve Your Vision

(Huffington Post) Vision problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration affect millions of older adults. But these eye diseases can be slowed down or avoided by getting vitamins A, C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, betacarotene and omega-3 fatty acids into your system, according to the Age-Related Eye Disease (ARED) study conducted by the National Eye Institute…
Here are five foods/drinks that have been shown to improve vision:
1.    Orange Juice…
2.    Oysters…
3.    Kale…
4.    Peanuts…
5.    Quinoa
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak
Make a meal with ingredients almost entirely from the pantry. Roasted, simply seasoned potato wedges and a tartly dressed salad topped with smoky bacon complement this satisfying main dish.
EatingWell:
Baked Tortellini
Nutty-flavored fontina cheese gives this homey baked tortellini casserole a real taste twist and the cheesy breadcrumb topping makes it all but irresistible. You can easily double this recipe and make one for today and an extra to pop in the freezer for a heat-and-eat meal someday in the future.
Cooking Light:
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Eating your whites is as important as eating your greens

(Daily Mail) Eating your whites could be as important as eating your greens, a new study has revealed.
Researchers say that potatoes and other white vegetables are often overlooked from a nutritional standpoint – but that they are just as healthy as more colourful vegetables. White vegetables, including cauliflower, onions, mushrooms and turnips, contribute important amounts of essential nutrients and fibre, they claim.
The team, from Purdue University in Indiana, U.S., say that white vegetables are a 'forgotten source of nutrients', but that they actually represent a 'nutrient powerhouse in their own right'.
Professor Connie Weaver … said: ‘It's recommended that the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed daily should include dark green and orange vegetables, but no such recommendation exists for white vegetables, even though they are rich in fibre, potassium and magnesium.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Community: *Showing, once again, that the angermongers on the radio and on television are killing their audience.
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Vitamin C No Help in Gout

(MedPage Today) Vitamin C supplements didn’t lower uric acid levels in patients with gout when given either alone or in combination with allopurinol, an open-label pilot study showed.
In patients not already on allopurinol, 8 weeks of vitamin C supplementation led to a reduction in serum urate of 0.004 mmol/L, while those who started allopurinol had mean reductions of 0.15 mmol/L…, according to Lisa Stamp, PhD, of the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, and colleagues.
And in patients already taking the urate-lowering drug who initiated vitamin C therapy, there was no change in serum urate levels (0.03 mmol/L), while those who increased their allopurinol dose had a decrease of 0.09 mmol/L…, the researchers reported.
Community: What cured my Reclast-induced gout was tart cherry juice, thanks to Dr. Weil.
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What help from soy supplements

(HHS HealthBeat) A study indicates soy supplements don’t make life feel appreciably better for postmenopausal women. At Oregon Health and Science University, researcher Paula Amato was checking indications in some smaller studies that soy supplements improve quality of life – notably, things such as reducing hot flashes.
Amato looked at two years of data on 403 women who were started on supplements or an inactive, fake substitute. She found no difference between the two groups. So, for relatively healthy postmenopausal women, she says:
“It would appear that soy supplementation is not necessary and offers no benefit. I would advocate instead for a healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep.”…
Learn more at healthfinder.gov.
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Six ways to protect your eyes this summer

(Consumer Reports) Summer sun increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults. A number of steps can help prevent that disease, as well as your risk of developing cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
1. Shield your eyes. Wearing sunglasses and a hat with a wide brim to protect you from ultraviolet rays may help delay cataracts and help reduce the risk of AMD.
2. Eat right. A healthful diet high in green leafy vegetables, fish, fruit, and other food high in antioxidants may help protect against age-related eye diseases.
3. Watch your weight. Obesity has been linked to the progression of AMD and an increased risk of cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. See our Ratings of 13 popular diet plans.
4. Exercise. Regular physical activity may reduce your risk of developing AMD, lower eye pressure linked with glaucoma, and reduce diabetic retinopathy's progression.
5. Control blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. See our advice on how to prevent and treat heart disease and diabetes.
6. Don't smoke or drink too much. Smoking is associated with all four eye disorders, and too much alcohol is known to increase the risk of cataracts.
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Most don't allow smoking in U.S. homes and vehicles

(UPI) Four-of-5 U.S. adults say they don't allow smoking in their homes, while 75 percent say they don't allow smoking in their vehicles, health officials say…
[A] study … found almost 11 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in their home, and almost 17 million non-smoking adults continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke in a vehicle.
The study's state-by-state data showed the highest prevalence of smoke-free rules in homes and vehicles occurred in many states with comprehensive smoke-free laws and longstanding tobacco control programs.
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Feces Contaminates More Than Half of U.S. Public Pools

(Bloomberg) Human feces taint more than half of public swimming pools, a finding U.S. health officials are using to urge better personal hygiene as the summer months approach.
E. coli, which indicates the presence of fecal matter, was detected in 58 percent of samples taken from pool filters by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to data released today by the Atlanta-based agency. Pools frequented mostly by children were more likely to test positive for E. coli, which can cause stomach and respiratory illness.
Municipal pools open to all were worse than public pools requiring membership, the CDC said. Acute gastrointestinal illness related to recreational water sports has substantially increased since 1978, with diarrheal incidents and other poor swimmer hygiene being a major contributor, the CDC said.
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Fracking Can Be Done Safely, but Will It Be?

(Scientific American) [Fracking is] the colloquial name for the natural gas drilling process that combines horizontal drilling and the fracturing of shale deep underground with high-pressure water to create a path for gas to flow back up the well.
The fracking revolution has freed up previously inaccessible natural gas in shale formations… And a new review article funded by the National Science Foundation … examines what fracking may be doing to the water supply. "This is an industry that's in its infancy, so we don't really know a lot of things," explains environmental engineer Radisav Vidic of the University of Pittsburgh, who led this review. "Is it or isn't it bad for the environment? Is New York State right to ban fracking, and is Pennsylvania stupid for [allowing it]?"
According to the review, the answer is no. "There is no irrefutable impact of this industry on surface or groundwater quality in Pennsylvania," Vidic says…
Not all experts share that interpretation—or the generally rosy outlook of the new … review…
Ultimately, the question becomes: What will be the long-term legacy of these wells? After all, the now-moribund coal industry left the Keystone State a toxic legacy it is still coping with today. Although some provisions have been put in place to deal with future abandoned wells, there is not enough money set aside to deal with these future liabilities. "Do we leave them or plug them up, and what are the potential impacts?" Vidic asks. "Now's the time to think about who's going to pay for it when the wells have run their course."
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Blood Pressure Checks Often Skipped at Home

(MedPage Today) Only about half of hypertensive individuals check their blood pressure at home with any regularity, although that number rose slightly in recent years, national survey data showed.
Weekly or monthly home blood pressure monitoring was reported by 49.1% of hypertensive adults across 2010 and 2012 surveys combined, Carma Ayala, BSN, MPH, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues found.
That was up from 43.2% in the same survey series from 2005-2008.
Motivation -- as indicated by being on treatment, working on healthy habits, and being in regular contact with the healthcare system -- appeared to be a factor, Ayala reported.
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ACOs Won’t Work for Most Docs, Critic Says

(MedPage Today) Accountable care organizations -- a key to federal health reform efforts -- will rarely be successful and won’t generate the cost savings advocates hope for, a vocal critic asserted.
The ACO model rests on an assumption that physicians will work in teams with hospitals and other physicians to achieve savings for their respective communities as a whole, said Jeff Goldsmith, PhD, professor of public health sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
But the model ignores the fact that many doctors have no need to work with hospitals and that those hospitals can't generate enough savings in their already fully integrated health systems to make efforts worthwhile, he said Wednesday at an ACO summit hosted by America's Health Insurance Plans.
"I don't believe shared savings will be a viable total replacement for Medicare fee-for-service," Goldsmith said. "I don't think that it is going to be a broadly adoptable model that will enable Medicare to shift risk onto the provider community."
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Most doctors still reject Medicaid as program expansion nears

(McClatchy) Nationwide, the lack of doctors is a growing problem that will only worsen as some 27 million people get health coverage by 2016 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 29,800 primary care doctors and 33,000 specialty doctors in 2015 alone.
If left unaddressed, the shortage of doctors and their rejection of Medicaid patients could severely hamper the health care overhaul next year, when 5 million to 8 million Americans will gain Medicaid coverage under the law.
While the health care law also provides for steeply increasing Medicaid fees to doctors this year and next year, some physicians worry that the payments would drop again in 2015.
The new law allows state Medicaid programs to cover non-elderly adults who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s nearly $16,000 for an individual in 2013 or about $32,500 for a family of four.
As of Monday, 26 states and the District of Columbia are slated to participate in the Medicaid expansion, while New York is leaning that way, according to the Advisory Board Company, a global research and consulting firm.
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