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

Banish Winter Blues with Exercise

(SouthBeachDiet.com) How many times have you looked out your window on a gray winter day and made the excuse that it’s too cold to exercise? While the short days and cold nights may tempt you into hibernation mode, and possibly spur bouts of depression, winter is actually a great time to try a new seasonal activity and jump-start your commitment to losing weight, while keeping your spirits up too.
Exercise is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle and the catalyst for a faster weight loss. Dr. Arthur Agatston, creator of the South Beach Diet, recommends 20 minutes of interval or core-strengthening exercise on most days of the week. Exercising not only tones your body and trims inches off your waistline, it also releases endorphins, known as “feel good” hormones, which can boost your mood, revitalize your energy levels, and prevent bouts of emotional eating.
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Older women are sedentary most of the day: study

(Reuters Health) Older women spend about two-thirds of their time sitting, a new study suggests.
Sedentary behavior has been linked to disease and disability. That's in part because people who spend lots of time sitting also tend to not meet physical activity guidelines - but it's not the whole story.
"Even people who go to the gym every day and run 6 miles on a treadmill can be at risk for bad outcomes from being sedentary if they spend 8-10 hours seated at a desk and then watch TV with their spouse after dinner," Dr. Catherine A. Sarkisian told Reuters Health in an email…
"Being sedentary should not be accepted as a normal part of aging," Sarkisian said.
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Older Couch Potatoes Benefit from Even a Little Exercise

(Scientific American) Even if you waited til midlife or later, it still pays to get your body moving—because a study of about 3,400 people between the ages of 54 and 73 found that even moderate physical activity just once a week was associated with less physical and mental impairment.
Researchers tracked British adults for eight years. Even new moderate movers were about three times more likely to age free of major chronic disease or mental deterioration than were inactive adults…
Adults who were already active at the start of the study were even better off. Four years after being initially evaluated, they were seven times more likely to be healthy than inactive people. That’s even after accounting for differences in age, sex, smoking, wealth, alcohol intake and marital status.
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Is it safe for you to exercise if you have a medical condition?

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Exercise is safe for almost everyone, and it can often improve many of the conditions associated with aging, such as arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes. But sometimes, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor first. Here are reasons why you may wish to check with your doctor before becoming more physically active.
For more about exercise safety, check out “Staying Safe during Exercise and Physical Activity,” a Tip Sheet from Go4Life® , the exercise and physical activity campaign for older adults from the National Institute on Aging at NIH.
The information on Exercise: How To Get Started was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise and Fitness

(NBC News) Fitness fads come and go. And sometimes, they inexplicably come galloping back again (we’re talking to you, Prancercise). Some exercise trends could use a little nudge toward the door, though, like family members who stay too long after the holidays. Herewith, a handful of hot fitness fads that have overstayed their welcome for one reason or another. Maybe they’ve caused too many injuries. Maybe they’re just too silly to deal with anymore. Whatever the reason, we’d love to say goodbye to these wacky fitness fads in 2014.
Pole dancing… Yoga mash-ups… Gas mask training… Backwardsrunning... Stiletto workouts… MOB races. “Mud, obstacle and beer”… Stability ball stands.
(Consumer Reports) If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most powerful drugs ever invented. Chances are, you’ve heard many variations of that sentiment. Research suggests that exercise can cut the risk of colon cancer (60 percent), type 2 diabetes (58 percent), heart disease (40 percent), and Alzheimer’s disease (40 percent). Another study, which compared regular exercisers with couch potatoes, concluded that each minute of physical activity added an average of 7 minutes of life span… “Convenience and proximity are key predictors of exercise,” says [Carol Ewing Garber, Ph.D.], so it makes sense that working out at home ups the odds not only that you’ll become active but also that you’ll also stick with a routine.
The best machine for you is the one that you’ll use—but how do you know which one that will be? Our tests of elliptical trainersrowing machinesspin bikes, and treadmills can help you decide. And we consulted with experts to help you pick the machine that will best help you reach your health goals.
Community: But you don’t even really need any expensive equipment. Just walking in your neighborhood (as long as it’s safe!) can help keep you healthy.
(Reuters Health) People who walk enough to meet or exceed physical activity recommendations may be less likely to die early than those who only walk a little, new research shows.
(E. Paul Zehr, Ph.D., Psychology Today) It’s time to get the concept that you need to exercise out of your life. What you need to do instead is embrace your animal nature and include activity in your life at all times. 
(Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD, Appetite for Health) Like it or not, every one of us is getting older. The good news is that many of the signs of aging—achy joints, weight gain, declines in neurological function and fatigue—are associated with a less-than-healthy diet and lack of exercise. The good news is that research is showing that a healthy diet and exercise can help add life to your years—no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake!
More . . .

Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Chipotle Chicken and Tomato Soup
Just one chipotle chile (canned smoked jalapeƱo pepper) adds smoky heat to this top-rated soup. If you want to tame the spice, substitute 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika for the chile.
EatingWell:
Curried Chicken Thighs with Buttery Croutons
These saucy curried chicken thighs makes a great dish for a big easy family supper. There’s plenty of curry sauce, so serve with brown rice or whole-wheat egg noodles. We call for boneless, skinless chicken thighs here, but we’ve also tried it with bone-in thighs and it worked wonderfully.
Los Angeles Times:
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UV Light Makes Mushrooms Rich in Vitamin D

(LiveScience) [F]ood scientists are giving mushrooms a vitamin D boost with ultraviolet light.
“The exciting thing I think is how rapidly we can take a mushroom that has no vitamin D in it whatsoever, and in less than one second we can increase the vitamin D content to over 100 percent [of the recommended daily allowance],” said Michael Kalaras, a post-doctoral scholar at Penn State University in University Park, Pa.
Here’s how it works. Quick pulses of ultraviolet light flash over the mushroom’s surface, going through it, and setting off a chemical process that converts a compound  similar to cholesterol inside the mushrooms into vitamin D.
“It’s already happening in a number of facilities where they’re actually doing this on conveyor belts,” said Robert Beelman, a food scientist at Penn State…
It is possible to become sick from taking too much vitamin D, but researchers say those levels are extremely high and people are unlikely to reach them accidently.
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Strides Made in 2013 towards Wasting Less Food

(Natural Resources Defense Council) The year of 2013 has been an exciting one for the future of food.  Amidst moving to ban trans fats and demonstrating the threats of routinely using antibiotics in animal feed, the country woke up to the opportunity and moral obligation to waste less food…
The United Nations launched a targeted campaign – In January, the Think.Eat.Save. global campaign was launched by two branches of the United Nations and partners…
USDA and EPA challenged the U.S. to act – In April, the USDA and EPA announced the U.S. Food Waste Challenge to “lead a fundamental shift in how we think about and manage food and food waste in this country.”…
A U.S. food waste awareness campaign was expanded – In April, it was decided that a small pilot project called Food: Too Good to Waste designed to tackle consumer household food waste will be scaled up to a national campaign by EPA and USDA…
Tesco announced a new focus – In May, stating “the volume of food wasted every year is simply breathtaking,” the CEO of grocery giant Tesco announced one of its three long-term strategic Big Ambitions will be: To lead in reducing food waste globally…
The Pope voiced his concern – In June, Pope Francis spoke out against wasting food on World Environment Day, denouncing  what he called a "culture of waste" in an increasingly consumerist world. "Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry," he said… With a 1.2 billion strong Roman Catholic Church, the Pope’s leadership on this issue is notable.
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Struggling Food Banks Find New Ways To Fight Hunger

(NPR) Food banks are struggling to provide dwindling supplies to a bigger base of recipients. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with Bloomberg Businessweek contributor Roben Farzad about how food banks are coming up with new ways to feed the hungry.
Community: Surprisingly, the story doesn’t mention creating community gardens.
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As Food Programs Are Cut, Deer Hunters Share the Bounty

(The Texas Tribune) For hunters like Rick Prekup, deer season is the jolliest time of the year.
"I go hunting every chance I get," Prekup said in a telephone interview from his home in Horseshoe Bay. Several times each week from November to early January, he rises at 5 a.m., grabs his lucky sweater and a semiautomatic Remington rifle and drives about an hour to his hunting lease in Mason County.
But Prekup, who is allowed to shoot up to five deer a year under Texas Parks and Wildlife regulations, generally ends up with more venison than he needs. So he donates a deer or two to the Texas Hunters for the Hungry program, which this year was adopted and expanded by the Texas Food Bank Network to provide hunger relief to needy Texans. He calls the program a way to share the "bounty of Texas." 
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Hot drinks that keep you healthy

(Consumer Reports) When you’re feeling tired, cold, or under the weather, there’s nothing better than climbing into bed with a mug of something hot. In addition to being comforting, hot drinks replace fluids lost from fever and help loosen mucus. But they also have properties that may actually protect your health all year long. Which one should you sip? Consider these…
Tea…
Herbal infusions…
Coffee…
Hot cocoa…
Hot toddy…
“Sip while hot,” say the package directions on at least 74 multisymptom cold and flu products. Those powders, which you dissolve in hot water and drink like tea, contain some combination of a pain reliever (acetaminophen), a decongestant, an antihistamine, and a cough suppressant. But our medical advisers don’t recommend multisymptom products. You might not need all those drugs, and some have side effects.
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Goji Berries May Protect against Flu

(Swanson Health Products) People looking for additional protection against the flu this winter may want to give goji berries a try…
In light of … previous research showing enhanced immune response with goji berry (also known as wolfberry) supplementation, researchers … set out to evaluate the potential of goji berries to protect against the flu virus in an experiment conducted on older male mice…
Compared to the control group, mice given goji berries had less flu-related weight loss and reduced lung pathology. They also displayed better T-cell function (as measured by their ability to produce beneficial cytokines that defend against viral infections) and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
The study authors concluded that goji berries have “a beneficial effect in reducing the severity of influenza infection,” which they attributed to “enhancement of T cell function and/or reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines.”
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Most U.S. with low flu activity, six states high flu activity

(UPI) For the week ending Dec. 21, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas reported high flu activity, but in most of the country flu was low…
A total of four influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported for the 2013-14 season.
Influenza A (H3N2), 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza B viruses have been identified during this year's flu season. However, at this time, influenza A (H1N1) viruses predominated.
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Multivitamins Revisited, Again: Mission, Methods and Muddled Messages

(David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Yale Prevention Research Center) [H]eadlines telling us to skip supplements or stop wasting our money on them are based on conclusions the authors reached before ever the new research came along, not on any of the actual data. The actual data support no such pretensions.
What the data do indicate is that multis are not a panacea, and it would be a fool's errand to rely on them preferentially to prevent premature death or serious chronic disease. As noted, I don't know anyone who does that, but if you are one of those rare individuals, I suggest you desist. All the more so since lifestyle practices can reliably add years to life and life to years, and cut risk for all chronic disease by some 80 percent. At the very best, supplements are supplements to – not substitutes for – living well.
The data also show some potential for nutrient supplementation to do harm. But, in fact, multis have been impressively harm-free in most trials. So what's good for the goose should be good for the gander. On the basis of the same studies propagating indictments, multis may be vindicated of any appreciable harmful effects.
And finally, the study methods did not address the real reasons most people take multis – to feel and function a bit better every day. Maybe they exert this effect; maybe they don't. Basically, we still don't know what we didn't know before.
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Why Women's Immune Systems Are Stronger Than Men's

(Discover Magazine) In a new study, researchers found that women’s immune systems responded more strongly than men’s to flu vaccine.Old and young women alike produced both more antibodies and a higher inflammatory cytokine count — one sign of potential immunological overreaction — than male participants.
While the gender gap in immune reactions has long been known, the mechanism behind it has remained a mystery. But in this study, the scientists identified a handful of genes, apparently regulated by testosterone, that they think are a key part of the response mechanism. The higher the testosterone levels of a participant, the lower the immunological reaction to vaccination.
Generally speaking, women have stronger immune system responses than men. The good news for women is that this “show no mercy” response means they are less prone to bacterial, viral, fungal and other types of infection than the dudes are. The flip side, however, is that women’s immune systems are more likely to overreact.
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How Long Can Germs Live?

(AFP) Prior research has already concluded that two common bacteria that cause colds, ear infections, and strep throat don't often live for long outside the human body, but a new study finds that they can linger a lot longer than previously thought. Your best defense? Well-scrubbed hands.
University of Buffalo researchers in New York published a study December 27 in the journal Infection and Immunity that found that Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes can live on surfaces … for weeks or even months.
"These findings should make us more cautious about bacteria in the environment since they change our ideas about how these particular bacteria are spread," says senior author Dr. Anders Hakansson.
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Soothe your sore winter nose

(Consumer Reports) Your nose is under constant assault from the viruses passed around this time of year amid dry, indoor heat. Here’s how to alleviate the most common nasal nightmares.
Cold virus
The culprit behind most colds is one of the many rhinoviruses in the environment. You catch a cold when a virus is deposited directly in your nose or eyes (tears drain into the nasal cavity) and begin to multiply in the lining of your nasal passages…
What to do
Drinking fluids helps thin mucus and unstuff your nose. Also, try a saline nose spray; it’s safe to use as often as you need it…
Sinusitis
This inflammation of the lining of the sinuses is caused by allergies, irritation, or an infection. You’ll feel as if your head is stuffed up, not just your nose, and you might have tenderness in your cheeks, upper jaw, or around your eyes.
What to do
Doctors usually encourage sufferers to try home or over-the-counter remedies—say, a painkiller and a decongestant… Sinusitis usually clears up in about 10 days. If symptoms last longer, see your doctor. (Read more about how to treat sinsusitis.)
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Affordable Care Act News

(UPI) The Obamacare website HealthCare.gov handled 83,000 concurrent users before the deadline of Christmas Eve -- as promised, U.S. government officials say.
(Robert Reich) Our current health care system is the real disaster -- the most expensive and least effective among all developed countries, according Bloomberg's recent ranking. We'd be collectively insane if we didn't try to overhaul it. But we won't get it perfect immediately. What needs fixing can be fixed. And over time we can learn how to do it better.
(Editorial, Washington Post) Republicans, many of whom claim to favor market approaches to expanding health-care coverage but oppose excluding patients with preexisting conditions, can’t credibly balk at the natural results of competition organized under those very principles. No one can expect low premiums and near-unlimited service, particularly in a system designed to spread costs around so that the sick and the old can finally obtain decent health coverage from private insurers. That’s not a mistake. It’s economics.
Community: Republicans aren’t interested in free market competition if it’s proposed by President Obama. They just want to bash Obama, no matter what.
(Los Angeles Times) The sun has risen in the east, so there must be a news report somewhere quoting a partial transcript leaked by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., purporting to show the shortcomings of Obamacare. Bingo! We have not one but two "investigative" news reports, from CBS and ABC, based on the same partial transcript. And both, consequently, have the same level of credibility: none. CBS News even offers a dividend - a thoroughly dishonest and discreditable interview with Issa himself.
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Best and Worst Health Trends of 2013

(Health Magazine) Each year comes with its own unique brand of health trends. Some wind up being passing fad diets, while others prove surprisingly on point. The key to healthy living is knowing which trends are worth your time. To that end, here are the year's shape-up and slim-down trends we'd like to forget—and the ones we hope will stick around into 2014.
Best:
Water workouts…
Fun runs…
Going vegan…
Hybrid yoga…
Bike-sharing programs…
Playground workouts…
Exercise-specific footwear…
Intermittent fasting…
Worst:
Open-bar gyms…
The Whole30 Diet…
Hot classes…
Going gluten-free for no reason…
Vibration machines*…
Too-intense workouts…
The Bulletproof Diet
Community: *I disagree with the assessment of vibration machines. According to the assessment, the machines don’t help with weight loss. But they may help build bone density, which is why I use one.
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The Most Miserable Time of Year

(Laurie Essig, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Although feelings of depression and anxiety are extremely common in the build up to Christmas Day, things get really bad after Christmas. One large Danish study suggested suicides go up 40% after Christmas and psychologists have figured out, with mathematical precision, the most miserable day of the year that will occur in approximately 3-4 weeks. 
 ...dubbed..."Blue Monday", a date in January when post-Christmas gloom is at its worst. It is worked out with a formula taking into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action…
The American culture of Christmas bombards us with contradictory emotions. We swallow the perfection of a happy holiday alongside the bitter pill of fear and anger among previously dominant and privileged White Christians. We are unsure how to feel or what to do so we do what Americans have always done: we visualize a more perfect future through consumption.  We buy stuff, lots and lots of stuff, wrap it up, give it to our loved ones on the 25th, and then find ourselves more miserable than ever on the 26th. 
But the answer to our misery is right in front of us: we don't need the new XBox or even that robotic puppy. What we need is more social support, generosity, healthcare and community. All I want for Christmas next year is universal healthcare, livable wages for all, a progressive tax system and an end to white supremacy. I hope racially ambiguous Santa is listening.
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How To Survive The Post-Holiday Blues

(Huffington Post) The holiday season is an emotional roller coaster and stepping off at the and can leave you with a case of psychological whiplash. Whether it's caused by feelings of guilt from overindulgence, unmet expectations, or a return to loneliness, depression after the holidays is a common condition. So common, in fact, that there is even a name for it - the 'post-holiday blues.'
Feelings of sadness, guilt, and anger can kick off genuine symptoms of depression ranging from mild unhappiness to more troublesome symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, inability to eat or overeating, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and anxiety. But you don't have to let the holiday blues get you down. Here's how to survive the blues and get back on track for the new year…
It's normal to feel a little bummed that the holidays are over, but you don't have to let those feelings consume you. That's why you need to...
Make plans…
Make healthy choices…
Go public…
Seek help.
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Tired Of Doom And Gloom? Here's The Best Good News Of 2013

(NPR)  Being a news consumer means you're constantly on the receiving end of bad news. War, unemployment, crime, political dysfunction — it can be enough to make you think we humans aren't doing anything right. But good news: We are. As the year draws to an end, here's a look at a few areas of real progress in the U.S. and around the world.
Air Safety
Let's start with flying. It's not a lot of fun: baggage fees, pat-downs, cramped seating, disappointing snacks. But the odds are remarkably good you will land safely…
Fewer Cancer Deaths...
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says the death rate from cancer in the U.S. has declined by 20 percent. "A person in their mid-50s ... has a chance of dying from cancer that's 20 percent lower than a person of that same age in 1990, 1991," he says…
Stronger Economies In Sub-Saharan Africa
"Africa is no longer a place that is purely in the future," says Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group. Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been running at nearly 5 percent over the past several years, well above the global average, he says. Africans are moving out of extreme rural poverty and into cities, where many start businesses or find work for better wages.
Need some more good news? HumanProgress.org collects indicators that show that humanity is improving.
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Recipes

SouthBeachDiet.com:
Warm Up to Soups and Chilis
Chill-chasing chilis and soothing soups can warm up a winter evening and make you forget about snow and slush.
MyRecipes.com:
Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta
A small amount of the pasta's cooking liquid is whisked into the egg mixture to prevent the eggs from overcooking when added to the hot pasta. This procedure, called tempering, results in a rich, creamy sauce that easily coats the noodles.
EatingWell:
Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce
Intense, earthy and absolutely addictive, New Mexico’s cheese enchiladas showcase red chile sauce at its most elemental, thickly blanketing tortillas and melted Cheddar. We’ve added some extra creaminess and body with locally popular pinto beans, to cut down on the classic’s load of saturated fat. Top with shredded lettuce and minced onion.
Appetite for Health:
A Healthy Baked Greek Chicken Recipe
Plain baked chicken can get boring, so this recipe … adds a healthy Mediterranean twist to the classic dish. The combination of traditional Greek flavors and ingredients like hummus, red onion, Kalamata olives, garlic, oregano, and feta cheese, make this stand out from all those other baked chicken recipes.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Sweet Pea Pesto
There's no doubt that basil stands as queen of the pesto kingdom, but when we slipped these sweet green gems in its place, well, let's just say the basil was a little pea-green with envy. Vibrant, fresh and brightly flavored, this pesto is perfect as a spread for crostini or baguette, spread on cooked fish or tossed with pasta.
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McDonald's removes worker site in fast food flap

(USA Today) A On Monday, CNBC reported the McResource Line site included multiple posts bashing fast food, the industry that McDonald's has spent decades spreading throughout the world.
Several excerpts from the posts, which were created from a third-party vendor, warned against the negative effects of fast food, even going so far as labeling a cheeseburger and fries, core items on its menu, as an "unhealthy choice."
After news of these posts went viral, the fast-food giant told its vendor to remove the site, said Lisa McComb, a spokeswoman for McDonald's USA. The company will still offer employees help via phone.
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Winter Scents That Can Also Boost Wellness

(Huffington Post) What we all love about each season varies. Some love the climate, whether it's basking in the sun or playing in the snow; some look forward to the events, like the barbecues or family gatherings around the holiday dinner table. No matter what season you prefer, each change in weather comes with a nostalgic, olfactory reminder of what makes it so appealing -- and the upcoming winter is no exception. Whether it's the scent of the crackling fireplace or the smell of peppermint, the most prominent winter aromas may even contain some wellness perks.
Pine
Here's a good excuse to keep the Christmas tree around the house longer: Its scent can also serve as therapeutic stress relie…
Ginger
[Ginger has] been used for years by aromatherapy professionals in order to help heal emotional strain. The aroma of ginger oil has also been proven to help treat headaches, and is known to ease the symptoms of motion sickness and jet lag.
Peppermint
Peppermint oil has been proven to relieve tension headaches brought on by stress. The scent of peppermint can also help boost your mental stamina and concentration.
Cranberry-Orange
Cranberries are part of both dinner and decoration at our holiday tables, but when mixed with a citrusy scent in essential oil, it can also help fight anxiety. Tart, citrusy smells have been proven to help curb stress and aid in digestion.
Chocolate
One study found that college students who smelled the sweet treat during a word exercise and again the following day were better at recalling the answers than participants who did not smell the aroma.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Benefit of some knee pain supplements still unclear

(Reuters) The dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate might slow joint damage for people with mild arthritis in their knees, according to a new study.
Previous research on the effectiveness of the supplements has been mixed, so experts remain divided on what the findings of this latest study mean for people with knee osteoarthritis, in which wear and tear over time damages the cartilage that lines the joints.
Among more than 30 parts of the knee joint measured in the new study, a handful differed between people who took the supplements and those who didn't over the course of two years.
The results could also be seen as an indication the supplements do not make a significant difference in arthritis symptoms or severity, one researcher said.
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Collagen Supplement Improves Knee Function

(Swanson Health Products) New research indicates a patented undenatured collagen supplement may improve joint mobility…
After 30 days, subjects taking UC-II had significant improvement in range of motion (knee extension) compared with those taking a placebo, and their range of motion showed continuing improvement after 60, 90 and 120 days. After 120 days, subjects in the UC-II group also were able to exercise longer on a treadmill before experiencing joint discomfort compared to baseline, in contrast with the placebo group, who showed no significant changes.
The study authors concluded that “supplementation with 40 mg of UC-II was well tolerated and led to improved knee joint extension in healthy subjects. UC-II also demonstrated the potential to lengthen the period of pain-free strenuous exertion and alleviate the joint pain that occasionally arises from such activities.”
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Borderline high blood pressure tied to deaths

(Reuters Health) Blood pressure readings above the ideal but below the formal definition of "high" still raise a person's risk of death from stroke and heart disease and should be addressed, according to a new study.
After analyzing results from 20 previous studies that included more than one million men and women, researchers calculated that 15 percent of deaths from stroke and 11 percent of heart disease deaths would be avoided if so-called prehypertension were eliminated.
"Our findings reaffirm the importance of the definition of prehypertension for individuals with blood pressure between 120-139/80-89 mm Hg - rather than being considered 'normal,'" Dr. Dingli Xu, who led the study, told Reuters Health by email.
"For people with blood pressure in this range, we advise periodic health screening, as well as smoking cessation, increased physical activity and proper body weight," Xu said.
Community: So we should take with a grain of salt the recent change in recommendations for levels requiring treatment?
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More boomers are getting cataract surgery at a younger age

(NBC News) A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. It's the most common cause of blindness in the world — and it's also a normal part of aging.
[A] recent study by the Mayo Clinic indicates an increasing number of people are having cataract surgery — and are doing so at "younger" ages. The study, which examined cataract surgeries done from 2005 to 2011 in Minnesota's Olmsted County, found that about 20 percent of those surgeries were in patients younger than 65. 
By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute.
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Extra consultations before cataract surgery rise

(Reuters Health) A study of U.S. Medicare claims finds a jump in extra doctor consultations before cataract surgery, but no clear medical reason for the added costs.
"The preoperative medical consultation is an understudied area. It's an intervention that we spend several billion dollars on each year in this country. We know surprisingly little about the process," Dr. Stephen Thilen told Reuters Health.
"What we're studying here is how often do we bring a third provider in - a service that is in addition to the others and it's separately billed. It adds an expense," said Thilen, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle who led the study.
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Tinnitus discovery may lead to new treatment

(PBS) Fifty million Americans experience chronic ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus. But new research from the University of Michigan Medical School may soon provide solace to those suffering…
The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, explain that a process called stimulus-timing dependent multisensory plasticity is altered in animals with tinnitus and the results have revealed the relationship between tinnitus, hearing loss and sensory input.
Dr. Susan Shore, senior author of the paper notes that any treatment likely will have to be customized to each patient and delivered on a regular basis. Some patients may be more likely to benefit than others.
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Task Force Backs BRCA Testing in High-Risk Women

(MedPage Today) Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer should undergo testing for mutations in the BRCA cancer susceptibility genes, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended.
The recommendation applies only to women who have a positive family history of the cancers. The USPSTF recommended against routine genetic counseling or testing for women who do not have a family medical history associated with BRCA mutations.
The recommendation does not include men, although male family members might be identified for testing during the evaluation process, according to the report…
When a patient has a personal or family history suggesting inherited cancer susceptibility, testing should occur only when an individual has access to a health professional who is trained to provide genetic counseling and interpret test results, and when test results will aid in decision making.
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ObamaCare sales surge

(Brent Budowsky, The Hill) Take note of the fact that in recent days, the traffic to the Affordable Care websites has skyrocketed, and sales of insurance policies have surged nationally and in key states…
ObamaCare will be a particular success in blue states with Democratic governors and insurance commissioners who are consumer-friendly. And that is why … Democrats, progressives, liberals and populists who are smart will continue to own the healthcare issue with American voters.
My mini-enlightenment was caused, strangely enough, by a story on Fox News, which suggested (correctly) that consumers in red states were getting the worst deal under ObamaCare…
Doesn't the story suggest that voters in red states with Republican governors would receive better and cheaper healthcare if they became blue states and elected Democratic governors? The answer, I propose, is yes.
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More Affordable Care Act News

(Editorial, Los Angeles Times) [Y]ou can't turn the market for individual coverage, which insurers designed to minimize their risks, into something that functions more like the market for large group plans, where risks and costs are broadly shared, without wrenching changes. And the bumps will continue through the next year or more as the transformation ripples through employer-provided plans and the law's cost-control efforts gain momentum. As much as we wish the administration had managed the transition better, we don't fault its efforts to adapt on the fly.
We only wish Congress was more engaged in making the law work rather than battling endlessly over whether to make it go away.
(The Olympian) The Olympian profiled 4 people in August and followed up to find mixed — but mostly good — results finding insurance.
(Kaiser Health News) Going without insurance "is like gambling," says a 43-year-old social worker. But the high deductibles of Affordable Care Act plans make them a hard sell.
(Bloomberg) From Maryland to Hawaii, Obamacare’s state-run enrollment operations are running into technical difficulties, creating new headaches for the White House even as the federal insurance website finds its footing.
(UPI) Confusion about Affordable Care Act deadlines is rampant, but a U.S. expert says the big deadline is March 31, the day all should have health insurance.
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Get Calculators and Worksheets to Evaluate Your Finances

(USA.gov Team, via email) Use calculators and worksheets on Investor.gov to help evaluate your finances.
Here are just a few of the tools you'll find:
·         401(k) and IRA Required Minimum Distribution Calculator: After age 70½, you are generally required to start withdrawing money from your IRAs and 401(k)s. Find out the minimum amount you'll need to withdraw, depending on your age and the value of your accounts.
·         Compound Interest Calculator: Find out how much your money can grow, using the power of compound interest.
·         Social Security Retirement Estimator: Get personalized benefit estimates to help you plan for retirement.
·         Worksheet for Determining Your Net Worth: Use this worksheet to list your assets and debts.
·         Worksheet for Tracking Your Income and Expenses: Keeping track of your income and expenses will help you stay on track with your financial goals.
Once you know your current financial situation, you'll be in a better position to plan for the future.
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