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

How Exercise Makes Your Brain Grow

(David DiSalvo, Psychology Today) Research into “neurogenesis”—the ability of certain brain areas to grow new brain cells—has recently taken an exciting turn. Not only has research discovered that we can foster new brain cell growth through exercise, but it may eventually be possible to “bottle” that benefit in prescription medication.
The hippocampus, a brain area closely linked to learning and memory, is especially receptive to new neuron growth in response to endurance exercise. Exactly how and why this happens wasn’t well understood until recently. Research has discovered that exercise stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5 that is released into the bloodstream while we’re breaking a sweat. Over time, FNDC5 stimulates the production of another protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which in turns stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses—the connection points between nerves—and also preserves the survival of existing brain cells.
What this boils down to in practice is that regular endurance exercise, like jogging, strengthens and grows your brain. In particular, your memory and ability to learn get a boost from hitting the pavement.  Along with the other well-established benefits of endurance exercise, such as improved heart health, this is a pretty good reason to get moving. If jogging isn’t your thing, there’s a multitude of other ways to trigger the endurance effect—even brisk walking on a regular basis yields brain benefits.
Now researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have also discovered that it may be possible to capture these benefits in a pill.
Community: No need to wait for a pill, which will, undoubtedly, be expensive.
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A good sidewalk might encourage exercise, study hints

(Reuters Health) The nicer their neighborhood sidewalks, the more active people tend to be, according to a new study from Detroit.
Previous studies have also found neighborhood characteristics have an impact on healthy behaviors.
"While a number of studies have looked at the presence of sidewalks and their association with physical activity, very few have examined the condition of the sidewalk," said Jamila L. Kwarteng…
"We found that better sidewalk condition was associated with increases in physical activity among women and men of varying socioeconomic statuses," Kwarteng told Reuters Health.
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3 Tips for Getting into an Exercise Groove

(Deborah Enos, CN, LiveScience) [A]ctivities like housework, gardening and sex do count as exercise, but if you're serious about your health, it's probably best to schedule more traditional workouts. But don't fret over the idea. Use these simple tips to get yourself into the “exercise groove.”
1.    Schedule your workouts now. You don't have to know exactly what time you'll be working out, but it helps to know where exercise fits in your day…
2.    Act like you mean it. Anyone who has ever been stuck in the “I'll exercise tomorrow” cycle knows that it's not enough to say you're going to do something. If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, set your alarm and lay out every bit of clothing and equipment you'll need before you go to bed. If exercise will come later, pack a gym bag and leave it by the door. These are small actions, but they may give you the momentum you need to keep going.
3.    Grab a buddy. Sometimes, we just need a little moral support. When you can combine quality time with a friend and a workout, doesn't the latter seem a little less intimidating?
Community: However, Discover Magazine tells us that “[i]t would take 16 hours of romping in bed to lose a pound of fat.”
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Seniors on their feet

(HHS HealthBeat) Staying on their feet often can be hard for seniors. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Judy Stevens says that, in a given year, about 1 in 3 people ages 65 and older will have a fall.
“Most falls don’t cause injuries. But 1 out of 5 causes a serious injury like a head injury or a fracture. And each year, there are about 260,000 hip fractures.”
Stevens says falls commonly have more than one cause. These include muscle weakness, poor balance, a tripping hazard such as a throw rug, side effects of some medications, and not being able to see well.
Ways to reduce the risk include strength and balance exercises, annual eye exams, and fall-proofing the house by de-cluttering, improving lighting, and adding grab rails in and outside bathtubs and showers.
Learn more at healthfinder.gov.
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise and Fitness

(Reuters Health) People tend to spend more time being active and less time sitting after retirement, a new study suggests… "Older adults who maintain a level of physical activity - and we're not talking about marathon running, just brisk walking three or four times a week - do much better over the long term with their health," said Stephen Kritchevsky.
(U.S. News & World Report) [S]ports like rock climbing and mixed martial arts are gaining momentum… Complex workouts not only deliver a bigger brain boost, they tend to sustain our interest (so we hit the gym more often) and keep us focused (so our effort level stays high, even past dinner time). Challenge your mind, it seems, and the fit body will follow.
(The People’s Pharmacy) There is ample evidence that exercise can be beneficial in treating mild to moderate depression. A new analysis of 30 long-term prospective trials of physical activity and depression found that in the overwhelming majority of the trials, people who were more physically active were less likely to develop depression. As little as 10 to 15 minutes a day of walking, running or other activity were protective. The more physically active people were, the greater the psychological benefits.
(Christina Devereaux, Ph.D, BC-DMT, Psychology Today) Deborah Cohan’s viral video dancing in the operating room prior to her double mastectomy is encouraging people to “dance, move, and be in their bodies.” Can dance improve emotional and physical well-being with breast cancer survivors? Research says yes. The inclusion of the dance and the arts in healthcare has shown positive results.
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Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce
This simple take on chicken scaloppini is just the recipe when you're craving Italian for a weeknight meal. The lemon-caper sauce goes well with a white and wild rice blend on the side.
Garlic-Roasted Salmon and Brussels Sprouts
Roasting salmon on top of Brussels sprouts and garlic, flavored with wine and fresh oregano, is a meal that is simple enough for a weeknight meal yet sophisticated enough to serve to company. Serve with whole-wheat couscous.
Washington Post:
Apple Cider Glazed Turkey Kebabs
This recipe uses turkey breast, marinated in a quickly assembled mixture of spices and herbs. The glaze is a finishing touch that lends a hint of sweetness and gives the kebabs a lovely mahogany finish.
Pan Bagnat
You'll never look at your old-fashioned tuna sandwich the same way once you try our hearty, French-inspired Pan Bagnat. To prevent the bread from getting soggy, partially assemble the sandwich the night before, but wait until morning to drizzle the top bread slice with the dressing. Finish making the sandwich in the morning, and be sure to keep it refrigerated until lunchtime. Enjoy one wedge yourself and treat co-workers to the rest.
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3 More Reasons to Love Dark Chocolate

(SouthBeachDiet.com) As if you need another reason to eat chocolate! You probably already know that dark chocolate contains antioxidant-rich compounds known as flavonoids, which have been shown to improve heart health. Here are three compelling studies that provide some excellent reasons to enjoy this popular sweet.
Dark chocolate can improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing diabetes…
Dark chocolate may be an anti-inflammatory…
Dark chocolate may keep you feeling fuller, longer.
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Using gas stoves with no hood may expose many to air pollution

(UPI) About two-thirds of Southern California households that cook with natural gas without a hood may be exposed to high levels of air pollution, researchers say…
The researchers used data on more than 6,000 Southern California households and their cooking habits to estimate people's exposure to air pollutants in the kitchen during a typical week in the winter.
They discovered 62 percent of households using gas burners without venting range hoods were routinely exposed to excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, 9 percent to carbon monoxide and 52 percent to formaldehyde -- gases that can cause respiratory problems and worsen asthma and cardiovascular disease, the Los Angeles Times reported.
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New Test for Patients With Sore Throats Cuts Antibiotic Use by Nearly a Third

(Science Daily) A new 'clinical score' test for patients with sore throats could reduce the amount of antibiotics prescribed and result in patients feeling better more quickly, research … shows…
The FeverPAIN score includes; fever in the past 24 hours, a pus infection, rapid attendance (within three days), inflamed tonsils and no cough or cold symptoms.
Results showed that using the test reduced antibiotic use by almost 30 per cent and despite using fewer antibiotics, patients in the FeverPAIN score group experienced a greater improvement in symptoms.
But the use of an in-practice rapid antigen test (a test which detects the bacteria, Lancefield Group A Streptococcus, which is the most common bacterium to cause sore throats) in conjunction with the FeverPAIN score did not result in any further reductions in antibiotic use or improvements in symptoms.
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Clean Your Toothbrush Holder

(Robert Donofrio, LiveScience) Recently, my colleagues and I … discovered a new bacterium, Klebsiella michiganensis, lurking on a toothbrush holder. This unique coliform bacterium is a member of the same family as E. coli, a species typically found in human intestines and fecal matter. Some bacteria in the genus Klebsiella are pathogenic and drug-resistant, including K. pneumonia, which can cause pneumonia and respiratory tract and urinary tract infections…
Our team discovered the new bacterium as part of a series of germ studies to investigate microbial hot spots in the home. These studies are part of NSF International's mission to protect public health and to clear up common misconceptions about where the highest concentration of germs are found in homes, schools and other environments.
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Drug May Guard Against Periodontitis, Related Chronic Diseases

(Science Daily) A drug currently used to treat intestinal worms could protect people from periodontitis, an advanced gum disease, which untreated can erode the structures -- including bone -- that hold the teeth in the jaw…
Current treatment for periodontitis involves scraping dental plaque, which is a polymicrobial biofilm, off of the root of the tooth. Despite this unpleasant and costly ordeal, the biofilm frequently grows back. But the investigators showed in an animal model of periodontitis that the drug Oxantel inhibits this growth by interfering with an enzyme that bacteria require for biofilm formation, says corresponding author Eric Reynolds… It does so in a dose-dependent manner, indicating efficacy.
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Harvard Zebrafish Research Yields Possible Treatments for Muscle Diseases

(Bloomberg) Zebrafish experiments by Harvard University researchers yielded new chemicals that prod stem cells to make muscle tissue, an advance that may lead to treatments for muscular dystrophy and related disorders.
The chemicals, found to coax fish embryo cells to form muscle, also had the same effect on human stem cells that were transplanted into mice with a muscle-wasting disease…
The discovery of the growth-spurring chemicals may offer a template for devising efficient ways to make other tissues, such as kidney and liver, from stem cells, said Leonard Zon, a Harvard stem cell scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and one of the leaders of the study.
“Understanding how to turn reprogrammed cells into tissues for transplantation is one of the biggest goals of this field,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’ve made muscle cells, and there are probably many more tissues that we might be able to make.”
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Bisphenol A Is Affecting Us at Much Lower Doses Than Previously Thought

(Science Daily) Bisphenol A (BPA) is a known endocrine disruptor that hijacks the normal responses of hormones. Yet, traditional toxicology studies indicate that only very high doses of this chemical affect exposed animals -- doses as high as 50 mg/kg/day.
For the past decade, scientists have used modern scientific techniques to probe the effects of BPA on numerous endpoints that are not examined in those traditional toxicology studies. Examining these non-traditional endpoints reveal a very different story. Because of increased understanding of the mechanisms by which hormones and chemicals that mimic hormones work, it has recently become clear that endocrine disruptors need to be studied at much lower doses.
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Peptide Derived from Cow's Milk Kills Human Stomach Cancer Cells in Culture

(Science Daily) New research from a team of researchers in Taiwan indicates that a peptide fragment derived from cow's milk, known as lactoferricin B25 (LFcinB25), exhibited potent anticancer capability against human stomach cancer cell cultures…
Investigators evaluated the effects of three peptide fragments derived from lactoferricin B, a peptide in milk that has antimicrobial properties. Only one of the fragments, LFcinB25 reduced the survival of human AGS (Gastric Adenocarcinoma) cells in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner.
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Firearm Injuries Cost More Than $16 Billion in Hospital Care Over 9 Years

(Science Daily) Firearm injuries in the U.S. cost more than $16 billion in hospital resources between 2000 and 2008, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association's 141st Annual Meeting in Boston.
According to the research, 275,939 victims of gunfire in the U.S. resulted in 1.7 million days of hospital service -- an average of 6.7 days per incident. The average cost of medical treatment for each hospitalization was $59,620. Additionally, roughly one in three patients was uninsured.
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S.F. voters approve prescription drug measure

(San Francisco Chronicle) San Francisco voters on Tuesday passed Proposition D, a purely advisory measure that calls on city officials to find ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Prop. D read, "Shall it be city policy to use all available opportunities to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and to ask state and federal representatives to sponsor legislation to reduce drug prices paid by the government?"
It's the kind of feel-good yet toothless declaration that San Franciscans have long seen on their ballots. Previous measures have included a call to end the war in Iraq.
But supporters of the measure - the first of its kind in the nation - said the proposition would make residents aware of an important issue: the secretive, arbitrary way that pharmaceutical companies set drug prices.
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Patient records shared in Idaho health data exchange

(Idaho Statesman) Karen Helms didn’t realize until this year that her medical records were being shared with a statewide network of health care providers. The discovery prompted her to question the state’s health data exchange and to file a complaint with the federal government over privacy concerns.
A spokesman for the Idaho Health Data Exchange — several years old and unrelated to the state’s new health insurance exchange — said the system has no risks or downside. There are almost 1,700 health care providers in Idaho sharing 1.97 million medical records through the electronic system. Those providers accessed patient records on the system 343,369 times in September, according to the exchange.
The exchange office receives calls from concerned patients on a weekly basis, a spokesman said. But exchange officials say privacy concerns are unfounded. They say when Idahoans learn how the exchange can prevent medical errors and other problems as well as expedite the burdensome process of getting medical records from one doctor to another, they usually choose not to opt out of the system.
Community: Please note that this was not a healthcare insurance exchange.
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Affordable Care Act News

(FactCheck.org) Conservative groups are highlighting the case of an Arizona man with leukemia whose insurance plan was canceled because it didn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act. A news report quoted the man as saying he would need to pay $26,000 to keep the same doctor. It turns out, he was able to get a new plan, which has his doctor in its network, for a lower premium and a lower out-of-pocket maximum than his old plan.
(News & Observer) “We did not get hacked,” DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said at 5:15 p.m. “After an investigation this afternoon we learned that an (information technology) contractor who was hired six months ago was performing routine tests on the TIMS feed. And that individual violated procedures by failing to turn off the external feed while testing, and for the inappropriate message content. That individual was let go immediately.”
Community: Maybe he or she could find work at The Daily Show.
(ThinkProgress) Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are accusing Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) of selectively leaking misinformation about HealthCare.gov in an effort to portray administration officials as misleading the public about the implementation of Obamacare.
(ThinkProgress) Administration officials say they're exploring "administrative" fixes for Obamacare. Here is what they may be considering.
Community: Obama’s apology on Thursday may have been a direct result of a column in The Hill written by my friend Brent Budowsky. I am the friend Brent mentions in the column.
(Reuters) Most Americans with health insurance will be guaranteed access to mental health services, including for depression and alcoholism, equal to medical and surgical treatment under long-delayed rules issued on Friday by the Obama administration. But the protections do not apply to tens of millions of people, including the elderly.
(Modern Healthcare) To expand or not to expand was the overwhelming Medicaid issue during the past four months as governors and state legislatures continued to fight a partisan battle over whether to extend coverage to millions more people under the healthcare reform law.
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The Prevention of Heart Disease and Alzheimer's

(Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Cardiologist) [S]omething new is happening in the world of heart health. It comes out of a notion that has been floating around out there for awhile, but which is only recently being proven: that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain…
Until now, most doctors have thought that Alzheimer's disease was a genetic disease and that if you get it, you are unlucky, but that there isn't much you can do about it. That thinking is changing. We already know you can lower your risk of heart disease with lifestyle changes. It turns out those same changes can also lower your risk of early-onset Alzheimer's disease In both cases, genetics plays a role, but it is far from the only player. How you live affects your heart... and your brain…
Dr. Maria Carillo, the Director of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, made clear the connection between the brain and the heart by citing how, in many trials, those lifestyle recommendations for diet and exercise have proven to be beneficial for brain health. In other words, the body is more integrated than doctors once believed. What affects one vital organ also affects another, and the bottom line is that you can affect how those organs perform and age based on your lifestyle choices…
For the first time in history, we are now able to say that heart disease is 90 percent preventable, and now we are on the cusp of being able to make a similar claim about Alzheimer's disease.
Community: If you’re not sure what those healthy behaviors are, read Many Years Young often.
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Finding the Cure for Chronic Disease

(Mark Hyman, MD) One in every two people in America has a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, arthritis, depression, ADD, memory loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, migraines, allergies, asthma, or skin problems such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Millions more have FLC (feel like crap) and suffer from fatigue, sluggishness, insomnia, or a general lack of vitality.
Despite the advances in conventional medical care over the last 50 years, this suffering continues without relief because of our symptom-focused, organ-focused, and disease-focused medical model. 
Yes, the single biggest medical advance of our lifetimes is something most people have never heard of before, and it is the future of medicine.
We don’t want band-aids for our symptoms. We want to get to the root cause. We don’t want to be treated as a body part -- we want to be understood as a whole person.
What many people are looking for is functional medicine... they just don’t know it. Functional medicine is, put simply, the science of creating health…
Many of you want to find a doctor who can think this way. Where do you look? The best way is to go to the website for the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) at www.functionalmedicine.org. Once there, enter your zip code and you’ll be shown a list of physicians in your area who have been trained to guide you according to the functional medicine approach.
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McDouble is 'cheapest and most nutritious food in human history'

(The Telegraph) Describing the McDonald’s double cheeseburger as “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history” might seem beyond fanciful, but according to the author of Freakonomics, it is not as absurd a suggestion as it appears…
The double cheeseburger provides 390 calories, 23 grams of protein – half a daily serving – seven per cent of daily fibre, 19 grams of fat and 20 per cent of daily calcium, all for between $1 and $2, or 65p and £1.30, The Times reported…
But Tom Philpott, a campaigning organic farmer from North Carolina, said there were many more nutritious ways of feeding people cheaply. “You can get a pound of organic brown rice and a pound of red lentils for about £1.30 each”, Mr Philpott said.
“A serving of each of those things would be around 48 pence.”
Community: The brown rice and lentil meal would not only be cheaper, it would have much more fiber and infinitely more healthy phytonutrients. How about offering a lentil burger, McDonald’s?
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How to Eat Intelligently (and Enjoyably) Over the Holidays

(U.S. News & World Report) [From an interview with Susan Albers, author of Eat Q: Unclock the Power of Emotional Intelligence:]  Research out of Cornell University indicates we make, on average, more than 250 food decisions on any given day. On the holidays, this number skyrockets – from sugar cookies brought in by clients to pecan pie made by a neighbor. The number of choices you have to make can be exhausting! It's no surprise that people tend to get overloaded by decisions and give up quickly.
During the holidays, I recommend trying to keep food decisions simple and straightforward: Stick to no more than four foods on one plate, for example. Also, remember that you make the best decisions in the morning. Try to map out a strategy early in the day, or lay out your plans for dinner at breakfast. Also, have a "healthy default" option in place. This is something that you "fall back on" when you're too overloaded to make just one more decision. Keep all the supplies in the refrigerator or make this your "go to" option at parties.
In "Eat Q," I provide many techniques to help people make the best decisions possible when stressed or emotional – and to make emotions work for rather than against you.
Community: Appetite for Health has this, “How to Survive the Holiday Season… Without Gaining Weight.” And SouthBeachDiet.com: will give you a free holiday healthy cookbook, The South Beach Diet Parties & Holidays Cookbook, if you join their program, or you can just buy the book here.
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More Recent Research on Healthy Living and Disease Prevention

(Science Daily) After participating in the three classes, the women had increased vegetable intake, decreased fast food intake, and read labels more often. Data indicated that there were nine behaviors that improved after the session, as well as measures of knowledge. Increased knowledge and behavioral changes in a low-income population of women may help narrow inequalities in health, based on socioeconomic status.
(Science Daily) More people are cooking at home, and more people are finding their recipes online via food blogs. The photos of dishes posted on the blogs, however, may attract potential cooks more than the nutritional value of the recipes. In addition, many food companies sponsor these sites, so the recipes become advertisements for their products. This has the potential to change the healthfulness of the recipes.
(Consumer Reports) “A chip like no snack aisle has seen (or taste bud has tasted),” says the website for Popchips, one of a burgeoning breed of salty-snack alternatives and pitched by Katy Perry and Bruno Mars. Popped snacks are made of corn, rice, potato, chickpeas, or a mix of those, and most are subjected to heat and pressure until they pop. No frying, no baking, “no wiping your greasy chip hand on your jeans.” The clear message: Popped snacks are more healthful. But are they? Not really.
(SouthbeachDiet.com) [Here are some] easy strategies for keeping junk food out of your life—for good. Don't let your emotions rule… Avoid mindless eating… Fill up on fiber… Watch out when you're out… Curb your cravings with exercise… Don't buy junk food in the first place… Skip food rewards… Satisfy with healthy substitutes.
(Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) Scientists are working hard to uncover gene-nutrient associations for all types of diseases, especially cancer. Once these associations are better understood, nutrition recommendations can be then personalized for disease prevention and management.
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Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples
This one-dish pork tenderloin entree is perfect for fall.  Sweet spices coat lean pork tenderloin, while apples get a savory treatment with shallots and thyme. Serve with a spinach salad.
Pad Thai
This healthy pad thai recipe has less than half the calories and sodium of the traditional Thai-restaurant favorite. Look for dried wide rice noodles, sometimes called “Pad Thai noodles” or “straight-cut,” in the Asian-food section at most supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Serve with sliced cucumbers with a rice vinegar and cilantro vinaigrette.
Turkey Salad with Pistachios and Grapes
This sweet and savory protein-rich salad is a nice change of pace from your traditional chicken salad. Made with fresh red grapes, light mayonnaise, crunchy pistachios, and celery, it also makes an excellent filling for whole-wheat pita. Store 1 portion of the turkey salad in the office fridge and stuff it into a pita when you're ready to eat.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Braised Moroccan Lamb Shank with Couscous | Viand, Chicago
Morocco ... the gateway between Europe and Africa, and a culinary star in her own right. Although Morocco's culture has been influenced by trade from Europe, the country has still retained her own flavor by using bold, rich spices. Couscous, or granular semolina, and lamb are staples to Moroccan cuisine, and this week's "stolen" recipe from Chef Steve Chiappeti at Viand, Chicago incorporates these two essentials into an exotic braised dish.
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FDA seeks to ban trans fats in processed foods due to health risks

(Reuters) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed banning artificial trans fats in processed food ranging from cookies to frozen pizza, citing the risk of heart disease.
Partially hydrogenated oils, the primary dietary source of the fats, have been shown to raise "bad" cholesterol. Reducing the use of trans fats could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease a year, the FDA said.
"While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.
Community: The Huffington Post lists “5 Foods That Still Have Trans Fats -- But Won't For Long:” Some margarine, instant soup, fast food, microwave popcorn, and ready-made frosting.
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How Budget Cuts are Harming Hungry Americans

(Chef Ann Cooper, U.S. News & World Report) $5 billion in [cuts] went into effect in November. This means that 22 million children who do not have enough to eat now have even less. Ten million of those children are deeply poor, living at less than half the federal poverty line ($23,550 for a four-person family).
A family of four will lose approximately $396 a year in SNAP benefits. That might not seem like much to readers who live well above the poverty line, but for a family that makes less than $11,775 a year, that translates to a loss of 21 meals each month…
According to the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, the current SNAP benefit allotments are inadequate. They're based on unrealistic assumptions about the cost of food, the time needed to prepare the food that households can buy with the money and access to grocery stores…
To truly nourish the 22 million children in this country who benefit from SNAP (not to mention the 9 million seniors and individuals with serious disabilities), the federal government needs to figure out how to make SNAP more effective so all households have the resources to feed their families healthy food. Nutrition education, including cooking and shopping classes, is part of the answer.
The current $5 billion in cuts just ensures that families living in poverty will continue to struggle with the same obstacles to food security. And now, they have even less resources with which to overcome them.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Testosterone therapy increases risk of heart attack, stroke, and death, study finds

(Consumer Reports) Tempted by all the ads about "Low T" to try testosterone replacement therapy with a drug such as Androgel or Axiron? A study out today should make you think twice. It linked supplemental testosterone to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
Researchers studied 8,709 vets in their 60s with low testosterone levels, some of whom had a prior history of heart attack, diabetes, or coronary artery disease. All underwent coronary angiography, a test of blockages in the heart, and 1,223 were then prescribed testosterone therapy as either gel, injections, or patches.
After 3 years, men taking testosterone were 30 percent more likely to have died or to have had a heart attack or stroke. 
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Hope Builds for Drug That Might Shut Down Variety of Cancers

(Science Daily) The most frequently mutated gene across all types of cancers is a gene called p53. Unfortunately it has been difficult to directly target this gene with drugs.
Now a multi-institutional research team, led by Dr. Lewis Cantley and investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College, has identified a family of enzymes they say is crucial for the growth of cancers that have genetic aberrations in p53. Targeting these enzymes with novel agents might prevent the growth of p53 mutant cancers, thereby benefiting a broad spectrum of cancer patients, including those with breast, ovarian, lung, colorectal and brain tumors…
Shutting down these enzymes, as the researchers did in their experiments, puts cancer cells to sleep but has no effect on healthy cells. "A normal cell doesn't need Type 2 PIP kinases at all, so inhibitors of these enzymes should not be toxic to humans," Dr. Cantley says.
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Three of four Colorado communities vote to ban, suspend fracking

(Reuters) Voters in three Colorado communities have decided to suspend or ban an oil and gas production process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to unofficial election returns on Wednesday…
Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to fracture shale rock and release oil or gas.
Much of that water returns to the surface and is stored in lined pits or closed tanks for recycling or injection in underground storage caverns offsite.
Environmental groups say fracking can contaminate water supplies, but the industry has argued that it does not hurt the environment.
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Debris From Japan's Tsunami Floating Toward U.S.

(Discover Magazine) The devastating tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 caused a huge amount of local destruction, including damaged homes and radioactive water leaks, which has persisted to this day. But it also has affected areas far from that initial site—most prominently, by creating over a million tons of debris that are still floating across the Pacific Ocean toward North America.
Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been modeling the slow creep of this stuff across the ocean since 2011. Their initial computer model relied mainly on data about oceanic currents, but the latest iteration also takes into account wind speed and how wind interacts with materials differently, depending on how they float on the water.
An updated NOAA report released last week shows a floating debris field the size of Texas that’s headed toward the U.S., along with other debris dispersed throughout the ocean.
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Pope Francis Kisses Man Covered in Tumors

(LiveScience) Since assuming the papacy, Pope Francis has espoused a life of humility and compassion in the tradition of his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, who adopted a life of poverty and service to the sick.
[On Wednesday] (Nov. 6), the Pope demonstrated that commitment with stunning force as the world watched his general audience in St. Peter's Square. There, Francis openly embraced and kissed an unidentified man covered with tumors caused by neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disease of the nervous system…
The Pope's simple act of tenderness has received considerable coverage by the news media. "The gesture is the latest in a series of actions by the Holy Father that have drawn attention for their warmth and affection towards the marginalized in society," the Catholic News Agency reported.
Community: I love this guy! He’s exactly what a moral leader should be.
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Vitter’s Demands Hold Up Compounding-Pharmacy Bill

(Bloomberg) One lawmaker’s effort to alter Obamacare is holding up final action by Congress on legislation that would expand U.S. regulation of compounding pharmacies linked to meningitis deaths last year.
The Senate is poised to approve the measure to broaden the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of compounding pharmacies. Ninety-nine senators have agreed to pass the legislation that the House passed without a roll call vote, Democratic and Republican lawmakers said.
Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana wants the vote on compounding pharmacies coupled with consideration of his proposal to deny lawmakers and their staffs employer contributions when they buy medical insurance on the exchanges set up under the new health-care law. As a result, senators may have to spend a week on work that could be done in minutes.
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CMS office's warning about third-party payments seemingly contradicts recent HHS message

(ModernHealthcare) An office of the CMS is warning hospitals that it will frown upon healthcare providers that help patients buy coverage through a health insurance exchange. But that warning comes just days after the Obama administration seemed to say such a practice would be legal under the anti-kickback law…
The anti-kickback statute makes it illegal to provide anything of value to generate business reimbursed by a federal health program, like Medicare, because such payments could increase waste by encouraging unneeded services.
But the law doesn't apply to private insurance. 
Community: I couldn’t figure out why hospitals would pay a patient’s insurance premiums, so I did a search. This is from HealthLeaders Media: “[W]ithout health insurance, many patients—especially those with a history of frequent hospitalizations—would otherwise end up as expensive charity care, forcing hospitals to absorb more uncompensated care expense.”
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More Affordable Care Act News

(Reuters) President Barack Obama apologized on Thursday to Americans who are losing their healthcare insurance policies, saying in an interview that he regrets "we weren't as clear as we needed to be" about the reforms of his landmark healthcare restructuring… "I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me," he said.
(McClatchy) Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday joined a push by Senate Democrats to get the Obama administration to make sure that people who like their health insurance can keep it. North Carolina’s Democratic senator said she supported a bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced on Monday, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act.
(ThinkProgress) A major California insurance company is being sued by two consumers alleging that they were tricked into dropping their health coverage when they could have remained on their preferred plans under Obamacare, the Los Angeles Times reports.
(ThinkProgress) Edie Sundby, a Stage-4 gallbladder cancer patient who is losing her individual health care policy in California, could pay less for comprehensive insurance in Obamacare’s health care exchanges.vSundby’s story first gained national attention after she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, arguing that Obamacare would cost her more and force her to abandon her cancer doctors…
[W]hen ThinkProgress estimated the cost of a high-deductible policy offered by PacifiCare and then compared that plan to a policy in the California exchange, we found that the family would pay slightly less and benefit from a whole host of new consumer protections.
(Shots, NPR) A hairdresser in Alaska is one of the first people to get health insurance through HealthCare.gov. The 37-year-old woman has a chronic thyroid problem, so she's thrilled to find affordable coverage. Insurers are bracing for sick people like her to be among the first entering the market.
More . . .

Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage participants have until Dec. 7 to make any changes in the plans

(UPI) Almost 80 percent of U.S. Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older don't know the last day for open enrollment to make changes in their insurance plan is Dec. 7.
Medicare beneficiaries have from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 to make changes in their prescription drug or Medicare Advantage coverage -- if they carry these private insurance plans for prescriptions or a Medicare Advantage Plan -- a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide a senior with all Part A and Part B benefits...
The survey, by HealthPocket, a free website that compares and ranks all health plans found many mistakenly think they have until the end of the year to make changes to their plans.
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From behavior change to behavioral sustainability

(Dr. Michelle Segar) When we decide to become healthier, lose weight, or simply take better care of ourselves, there is usually a specific reason, a desired outcome, driving that decision.  But what gets you to start taking better care of yourself is often not what keeps you motivated day in and day out.
While future outcomes may be powerful enough to motivate great big intentions and investments of cash, research suggests that they may not be adequate to drive sustainable behavior.
This blog showcases 4 steps to move from merely changing behavior to sustaining it over time…
Step #1 Close the Gap between Starting and Sustaining
We adopt a new behavior because we believe it serves a specific function, or purpose, in our lives… New research suggests that large future outcomes, like disease prevention, might be too logical and not emotional enough.
Step #2 Focus on Feelings Instead of Function
I’m going to suggest that all parties can become more successful closing the gap between behavior change and behavioral sustainability by shifting the frame of reference from the future outcomes from “behavior” (better health, weight loss, etc.) to the smaller outcomes that result from the “point of decision” (less stress, feeling proud of yourself, etc.)
Step #3 Target Daily Decisions Not Behavior
[T]o more effectively motivate sustainable behavior we must shift our focus away from function of behavior to the feelings people have about the outcomes of health-related decisions
Step #4 Transform Self-Care from a Chore into a Gift
In my long-term study of this issue, I discovered that one of the essential keys to cracking the code was to transform decisions about fostering self-care and health from negative to positive. My solution converts the meaning of a behavior and behavioral choice from feeling like a “chore to accomplish” into a “gift one wants to give themselves.”
I have written about this process, in a previous blog post about how to change the meaning of behavior from a chore into a gift.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to effect behavioral change by improving impulse control.
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