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

Is Sugar Addiction Why So Many January Diets Fail?

(Eliza Barclay, The Salt, NPR) Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, has shown in lab experiments with rats how overeating of palatable foods (like sugar) can produce changes in the brain and behavior that resemble addiction.
About 11 percent of the population meets the criteria for food addiction, Avena says — and most say they're hooked on carbohydrates. To make the case to the general public, Avena has just published a book, Why Diets Fail, which she wrote with John Talbott, an author who recently went from borderline obese to fit by cutting sugar and most starches from his diet…
So I asked [experts] for their tips on how to conquer sugar cravings…
·         [T]ry to eliminate it entirely for at least three weeks to see if the cravings fade.
·         [T]ry to keep the long-term goals at the forefront of your mind. Keep reminding yourself of how much you'll enjoy feeling stronger and healthier, or how you'll enjoy better-fitting clothes.
·         Take a week or two to monitor exactly when the cravings hit. Then figure out what the cues are — like stress, boredom, emotional downers or the need for a distraction.
·         In these moments when the cravings hit, pause and think about what you need or do not need to eat at the moment. Are you actually hungry? Can you fulfill the need another way, like taking a quick walk?
·         Find new foods that are rewarding, like new kinds of nuts and fruits, and keep them around…
·         Exercise. A recent brain imaging study found that cardiovascular activity may repair the part of the brain affected by food addiction. It also found that people who exercise regularly had a lower "reward response" to images of palatable food.
Still, these strategies may not work for everyone. If you feel like you're white-knuckling it and it's just too hard, [psychologist Ashley] Geardhardt recommends seeking professional help from food addiction specialists.
Community: Sugar is certainly my downfall. I recently found that my sugar intake seems to be increasing my bad cholesterol levels, so these tips may be especially useful for me in the coming months.
See Dr. Avena’s TedEd video, “How Sugar Affects the Brain.”
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The conspiracy to keep you fat

(Los Angeles Times) If you find yourself reaching in the refrigerator or grabbing a candy bar at the cash register when you're trying to diet, you will probably blame yourself. But the fault won't be entirely yours. Food manufacturers and marketers are playing with your most basic impulses, trying to trigger behaviors you have a limited capacity to restrain…
Between 1980 and 2000, obesity rates doubled in the United States. That increase came during a period when the food environment changed dramatically. Manufacturers began to embrace impulse-marketing strategies, buying prominent shelf space for tempting, high-calorie foods and beverages at the end of aisles in supermarkets and at cash registers. Even businesses that did not sell food primarily, such as hardware stores and gas stations, began pushing snacks at the checkout counter. The amount of food advertising and the number of convenience stores and vending machines selling junk food mushroomed. Restaurants increased their portion sizes. In short, temptation multiplied dramatically, and a lot of us simply weren't up to the task of resisting it…
Today, the harms associated with overeating in America are at least as great as the harms from drinking. Just as we needed policies to protect people from having alcohol thrust in their faces everywhere they went, we need to develop and implement policies that protect people from food cues and triggers designed to make them eat when they're not hungry and over-consume. It's time to drain the food swamp.
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Eating tree nuts tied to lowered obesity risk

(Reuters Health) A new U.S. study adds to growing evidence that nuts - once considered too fattening to be healthy - may in fact help keep weight down, in addition to offering other health benefits.
Researchers found that study participants who ate the most tree nuts - such as almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts - were between 37 and 46 percent less likely to be obese than those who ate the fewest tree nuts.
People who ate the most nuts were also less likely to have a suite of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, which is tied to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Community: Because of my increased cholesterol levels, I’ve gone back to my whole grain breakfast (steel cut oats, barley, and rye), and have added almonds to help keep from getting hungry midmorning.
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Eating slowly may cut meal size

(Reuters Health) People may consume fewer calories over the course of a meal when they eat slowly, a new study suggests. But it's not clear if that strategy works as well for people who are overweight or obese as it does for their slimmer peers…
"This study provides new data that supports the hypothesis that how you eat may have an effect on appetite and influence body weight," James Hollis told Reuters Health in an email.
Hollis, from Iowa State University in Ames, was not part of the new research.
"This is an interesting study and any method that reduces food intake by 8-10 percent at a single meal would be useful," he said. But more studies are needed to show whether eating slowly could help people manage their weight, Hollis said.
Community: Cornell University has a whole department dedicated to the psychological aspects of eating.
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More Weight Loss Tips

(Science Daily) "There is so much research out there about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. If I told someone I had a magic pill that would allow them to live a healthier, longer life they would pay whatever price to get it. That doesn't come in pill form. It can come from diet and exercise," [Dr. Keith] Veselik said.
(Science Daily) Prior research has shown not getting enough sleep can impact your weight, but new BYU research finds the consistency of your bed time and wake time can also influence body fat.
(Science Daily) A new Dartmouth neuroimaging study suggests chronic dieters overeat when the regions of their brain that balance impulsive behavior and self-control become disrupted, decreasing their capacity to resist temptation. The findings … indicate that chronic dieters will have more success if they avoid situations that challenge their self-control… Going forward, the Dartmouth researchers are looking into whether self-control can be strengthened over time -- much like muscles are strengthened through exercise and rest -- by routinely resisting minor temptations, says Professor Todd Heatherton, the study's senior author.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to improve impulse control.
(The Supermarket Guru) What it says it does: Pact is the most effective way to finally keep your healthy resolutions this year. Earn cash for living healthy, paid by members who don't. Set your exercise and healthy eating goals each week and manage how much money is on the line. Pact's proven incentives have helped members hit over 92 percent of their goals, resulting in over 5 million healthy activities. The app has been featured in the New York Times, CNBC, Techcrunch, CBS This Morning and more.
(U.S. News & World Report) Writing a meal plan, building a strategic grocery list and preparing food for the week are all helpful.
(Denise Cummins, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Based on [the results of a recent study], the researchers drew the following two conclusions. First, “The results of our study challenge the notion that a calorie is a calorie from a metabolic perspective.” (p. 2631) Second,“These findings suggest that a strategy to reduce glycemic load rather than dietary fat may be advantageous for weight-loss maintenance and cardiovascular disease prevention.”… The best example of a low-glycemic load diet is a Mediterranean diet.
(Maria Baratta, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., Psychology Today) The One Thing You Should Do to Control Your Weight
More . . .

More Information and Recent Research on Obesity and Weight Loss

(ThinkProgress) The New Jersey governor is back in the headlines, and not everyone can resist making inappropriate jokes about his size.
(Science Daily) Scientists have moved a step closer to an "obesity drug" that may block the effects of diets high in sugar and fats. In a new research report…, scientists show that there is an abnormal amount of an inflammatory protein called PAR2 in the abdominal fat tissue of overweight and obese humans and rats. This protein is also increased on the surfaces of human immune cells by common fatty acids in the diet. When obese rats on a diet high in sugar and fat were given a new oral drug that binds to PAR2, the inflammation-causing properties of this protein were blocked, as were other effects of the high-fat and high-sugar diet--including obesity itself.
(Science Daily) Researchers at the National Institute for Aging are working to improve understanding about obesity and cancer. A [recent study] is the first to use direct radiographic imaging of adipose tissue rather than estimates like body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference, and focuses on the relationship between obesity and cancer risk in aging populations. Findings emphasize the negative impact of adiposity [fat] on long term health particularly for older men and women.
(Science Daily) A new study shows that poor sleep quality is strongly associated with mood disturbance and lower quality of life among people with extreme obesity. Results show that 74.8 percent of participants were poor sleepers, and their mean self-reported sleep duration was only six hours and 20 minutes. Fifty-two percent of study subjects were anxious, and 43 percent were depressed. After controlling for age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea, sleep quality and daytime sleepiness were significantly associated with mood disturbance and quality of life impairment.
(NBC News) Compared to women of a healthy weight, overweight and obese women have greater mobility problems at age 85 and face a higher risk of dying or developing chronic diseases.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Researchers at Stanford University analyzed data on 6,796 people and found that among those of normal weight the risk is very low, only 2.9 percent. In the overweight, the risk was 5.2 percent, in the obese, 7.7 percent, and in the morbidly obese, 11.6 percent. More surprising is what the researchers learned about the amount of exercise needed to banish low back pain. They … found that overweight individuals who increased daily activity such as brisk walking, riding a bike or gardening by less than 20 minutes a day were able to reduce their incidence of back pain by 32 percent.
More . . .

Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pork and Hominy Chili
If you've never tried hominy before, you're in for a treat. Mix canned hominy—a nutty, tender ingredient made from dried, hulled corn kernels—with chunks of pork and bold spices in this hearty, Mexican-inspired chili.
EatingWell:
Stuffed Delicata Squash
In this Tex-Mex-seasoned stuffed delicata squash recipe we swap out half of the ground beef you’d normally use for bulgur to reduce saturated fat without skimping on the amount of stuffing. Serve with a mixed green salad with cilantro vinaigrette.
Mediterranean Foods Alliance:
FruityFlavors
Pomegranates and citrus fruits bring a delightful sweet-sour quality to traditional Mediterranean dishes.
Orange Glazed Carrots
This quick and simple dish is a flavorful way to get vegetables on the table at dinner time. Even the pickiest eaters are sure to love them. 
Lemon Oregano Roasted Potatoes
Pop the potatoes in the oven at the beginning of dinner preparations and they will be ready at the same time as the rest of the meal.
Classic Greek Egg & Lemon Soup
This broth-based soup with rice is based on the classic Greek avgolemono sauce of eggs and lemon juice.       
Chicken with Caramelized Onions, Glazed Figs, and Pomegranate
This wonderful recipe can be served hot, cold, or room temperature and is also great the next day served on top of a simple green salad.
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Dr. Weil Recommends: What You Should Be Drinking

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Looking for a simple resolution to improve your overall health? Drink green tea. My daily beverage of choice, green tea is a potent source of catechins - healthy antioxidants that can inhibit cancer cell activity and help boost immunity. Need more reasons to drink green tea? It can also:
·         Lower cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease
·         Help protect against bacterial infections
·         Promote joint health and stronger bones
·         Reduce inflammation
·         Enhance the effects of antibiotics, even against drug-resistant bacteria and "superbugs"
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Coffee Hydrates as Well as Water Study Finds

(The Guardian) A new study has found that coffee hydrates as well as water, so pick up that cup of Joe and gulp it down with abandon! Previous studies have shown that despite popular belief, caffeinated beverages do not cause dehydration because the amount of liquid in them negates the mild diuretic effect of the caffeine.
A study done in 2004 showed that there was no difference in urine output between those who drank caffeinated beverages and those who drank beverages without caffeine.
This new study has found that coffee is just as hydrating as non-caffeinated drinks, including water…
Study scientists say that there is “a lack of scientific evidence” that supports the rumor that coffee or other naturally caffeinated drinks cause dehydration, yet, the public holds on to the belief that caffeine causes increased urine output and thus leads to the body becoming dehydrated.
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Avocado-Soy Pill May Help in Osteoarthritis of Hip

(MedPage Today) A supplement containing extracts of avocado and soybeans showed promise as a structure-modifying treatment for hip osteoarthritis (OA), a French randomized trial suggested.
On the study's primary endpoint of change in joint space width, no significant differences were seen between patients taking 300 mg per day of avocado-soybean unsaponifiables compared with placebo, according to Emmanuel Maheu, MD, … and colleagues.
But on a secondary analysis of that endpoint, there were 10% fewer who were considered progressors after 3 years of treatment with the supplement.
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Tips for Preventing Home Fires

(USA.gov Team, via email) Home fires occur more often in winter than in any other season. Here are some steps you can take to prevent home fires:
·         Develop a home escape plan and practice it periodically.
·         Ensure that you have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside every sleeping area. Test them monthly.
Visit the U.S. Fire Administration for more safety information.
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FDA approves gel to seal cornea incision after cataract surgery

(UPI) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a gel sealant to stop fluid from leaking through the incision in a patient's cornea after cataract surgery.
Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said prior to the approval, stitches were the only option for closing a leaking corneal incision after cataract surgery.
"The FDA has approved gels like ReSure for sealing small incisions in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, but this is a first-of-its-kind for the eye," Foreman said in a statement.
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U.S. compounding pharmacies start to register with FDA

(Reuters) A small number of U.S. compounding pharmacies have begun registering with the Food and Drug Administration under new legislation designed to tighten control of the custom medication makers following a deadly outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to a pharmacy in Massachusetts.
So far, 11 compounding pharmacies have taken up the option under the Drug Quality and Security Act of registering with the FDA, a move they hope will give them a marketing edge.
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HHS strengthens community living options for older Americans and people with disabilities

(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule today to ensure that Medicaid’s home and community-based services programs provide full access to the benefits of community living and offer services in the most integrated settings.  The rule, as part of the Affordable Care Act, supports the Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Living Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2009 to develop and implement innovative strategies to increase opportunities for Americans with disabilities and older adults to enjoy meaningful community living.
Under the final rule, Medicaid programs will support home and community-based settings that serve as an alternative to institutional care and that take into account the quality of individuals’ experiences.  The final rule includes a transitional period for states to ensure that their programs meet the home and community-based services settings requirements.  Technical assistance will also be available for states.
 “People with disabilities and older adults have a right to live, work, and participate in the greater community.  HHS, through its Community Living Initiative, has been expanding and improving the community services necessary to make this a reality,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today’s announcement will help ensure that all people participating in Medicaid home and community-based services programs have full access to the benefits of community living.”
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Medicaid Estate Recovery Program

(FactCheck.org) Q: Does the Affordable Care Act allow states to confiscate the estates of seniors on Medicaid when they die?
A: No, but a 1993 federal law requires states to recover Medicaid costs for long-term care from the estates of deceased Medicaid beneficiaries over the age of 55...
The gist of the [Seattle] Times story went viral in the blogosphere, where some blamed the ACA and/or questioned the motives of the Obama administration for expanding Medicaid. One blog post on the conservative Western Center for Journalism website — which carried the headline, “Obamacare Shocker: Strip Assets From Dead Seniors” — accused the administration of “deliberately turning the dead into cash cows.”
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More Affordable Care Act News

(Kaiser Health News) Women who show an increased risk for breast cancer will soon have no co-pay or deductible for drugs such as tamoxifen.
(Bloomberg) CGI Group Inc., the company that built the federal Obamacare website, will be replaced next month when its contract with the U.S. government expires.
(Reuters) A bill targeting potential security problems with the Obamacare website passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Friday with the support of dozens of Democrats, despite opposition from the White House. The House voted 291-122 to approve legislation by Republican Representative Joe Pitts that would require the government to notify Americans within two days if their personal information has been compromised on the federal website, HealthCare.gov, where consumers can shop and buy health insurance.
(FactCheck.org) Michigan Rep. Fred Upton exaggerated the impact of the Affordable Care Act when he claimed that “perhaps as many as 80 to 90 million Americans with employer-based health care are going to lose their plans” by late this year.
(FactCheck.org) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid incorrectly claimed that 9 million Americans “have health care that didn’t have it before” because of the Affordable Care Act.
(Las Vegas Review Journal) The division historically has processed about 12,000 applications each month for Medicaid and the state’s children’s health insurance, Nevada Check Up. That number hit 38,000 in December, however. The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandate that people have health insurance has spurred low-income Nevadans, who may have always qualified but never applied for Medicaid, to seek coverage.
More . . .

Study: Supplemental Plans Raise Medicare Costs 22 Percent

(Kaiser Health News) Supplemental "Medigap" plans shield millions from Medicare's deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. Pay a flat Medigap premium to a private insurer such as UnitedHealthcare or Humana and you might have little or no out-of-pocket expense for doctor visits, hospitalization or other Medicare services.
Naturally many worry that the all-you-can-eat model inflates Medicare's costs by encouraging consumers to seek -- or doctors to order -- potentially unnecessary procedures. Now economists at the University of Texas and the University of Chicago have taken what some call the closest look yet at the relationship between Medigap coverage and Medicare spending.
Their conclusion, that Medigap substantially increases what Medicare spends on treatment and tests, gives new ammunition to those who want to restrict these plans. But not all health policy analysts are fans of the study.
Community: Here we go again with the right-wing stink tanks telling us we’re irresponsible when we go to the doctor. They must stay up at night thinking of ways to keep seniors poor and sick. Sadly for them, with all the global climate change, there won’t be enough ice floes to put us on.
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CMS Proposes Changes to MA, Part D Including Protected Classes, Service Areas

(Bloomberg BNA) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Jan. 6 proposed a variety of policy changes to the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug benefit programs, including eliminating categories of drugs from the protected drug class requirement and limiting to two the number of drug plans that sponsors may offer in a service area.
The proposal, which would affect plans beginning in 2015, would also put additional conditions on prescription drug plans' preferred pharmacies.
The CMS said that the proposed rule, Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs, would save $1.3 billion between 2015 and 2019.
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What Protects Women Against Age-Related Disability?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The answer is healthy habits - including not smoking and getting regular exercise, according to British researchers. Those two factors, plus not drinking too much alcohol could help eliminate up to 17 percent of the heart disease, arthritis and walking problems seen in women in their 60s and 70s, according to a study…
Results showed that women who did not exercise were about twice as likely to develop arthritis compared to women who did exercise; the inactive women were also twice as likely to have problems walking and were more likely to develop heart disease… The researchers reported that lack of exercise alone was deemed responsible for nine percent of the risk for walking problems, five percent of heart disease risk and four percent of arthritis risk.
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Empowering your "Good" Cholesterol

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) High density lipoprotein or HDL is commonly known as “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol away from blood vessels so it can’t contribute to the formation of blockages leading to heart attack. HDL also acts as an antioxidant and reduces inflammation, but just having high blood levels of HDL may not be enough…
The conclusion [of a UCLA study]: regular weight training seems to improve HDL function and offers protection against heart disease, even in overweight men. This suggests that physical fitness may be the best measure of healthy HDL function and, by extension, the risk of heart disease.
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How To Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) We’ve known for some time that exercise can help lower a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, and now a large new study suggests that the more a woman exercises, the lower her risk, whether she's overweight or not…
This study confirms the conclusions of previous investigations that demonstrated exercise lowered breast cancer risk regardless of a woman’s weight. A study from Germany published in 2008 showed exercise reduced breast cancer risk among women over 50 even more effectively than it did among women age 30 to 49.
And a study published in 2003 found that women who don't begin to exercise until later in life can still reduce their breast cancer risk by 20 percent. Here, a brisk, half-hour walk five times a week was enough to lower the risk, even among women with a strong family history of the disease, those who hadn't had children (a long-recognized risk factor), and those who had taken hormone replacement therapy. It also found that 10 hours of exercise per week could cut risk by 30 percent.
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8 Common Fitness Mistakes You Can Avoid

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Are you really giving it your all when you work out? Do you balance strength training with cardio? Do you focus on form while exercising? If you answered no to any of these, you may not be getting everything out of your fitness routine that you could be — and you may even be putting yourself at risk for injury. Here are 8 common fitness pitfalls, plus tips for how to get the maximum benefit from each and every workout.
Doing too much too soon…
Improperly using gym equipment…
Focusing only on cardio…
Rushing your reps…
Exercising while distracted…
Working out while in pain…
Not eating before exercise…
Avoiding exercise altogether.
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise and Fitness

(Chatelaine) Recreational walkers that keep a brisk pace live longer than those that adopt a slow and steady pace, reports the New York Times. Very slow walkers were 44 percent more likely to die than those that walked quickly regardless of the frequency of their walking. They were also 18 percent more likely to have died from heart disease or dementia.
(Huffington Post) A new study … shows that levels of the molecule BAIBA -- short for beta-aminoisobutyric acid -- increase during exercise, and this particular molecule increases the expression of calorie-burning genes in fat cells. In addition, rising levels of BAIBA during exercise was associated with benefits to triglyceride, fasting blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.
(Science Daily) Researchers have found that exercise plays a role in how individuals feel they can manage their work-life balance. "Individuals who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work," said Russell Clayton…, lead author on the paper.
(MedPage Today) Structured exercise programs conferred multiple health benefits --but no measurable effects on cardiometabolic risk factors or bone density -- in prostate cancer patients treated with androgen deprivation therapy, a literature review showed.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Vietnamese Beef Soup with Greens
Introduce your taste buds to Vietnamese cuisine with this quick and easy soup. The rich broth, aromatic herbs, and tender steak will leave you wanting more.
EatingWell:
Tilapia with Grapefruit-Caper Sauce
In this healthy, quick tilapia recipe, you’ll combine grapefruit, shallot, capers, butter and a touch of honey for a rich, bittersweet sauce. Any grapefruit will work, but vibrant ruby-red grapefruit is the prettiest. Serve with whole-wheat couscous and broccolini.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Tuscan Kale Salad
This traditional Tuscan salad is made with strips of Italian black kale, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, grated pecorino Tuscano cheese and bread crumbs. These bright, refreshing flavors combine to bring the sunny taste of Italy to your table. Watch a video of Dr. Weil and chef Michael Stebner preparing this delicious salad: How to Make Tuscan Kale Salad
Food as Medicine
Kale is among the most nutrient-dense commonly eaten vegetables. One cup provides 1,327 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192 percent of DV for vitamin A, and 88 percent for vitamin C.
Stuffed Potatoes
It can be difficult to coax your loved ones into eating five servings a day of vegetables (as nutritionists recommend). That's why this recipe cleverly incorporates broccoli into a baked potato. Broccoli is an excellent source of fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Potatoes are a universally loved vegetable loaded with vitamins C and B-6, potassium and fiber. You can make the stuffed potatoes ahead and reheat them when everyone is ready to eat.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Osso Buco
'Stolen with permission' from Chef Jimmy Bradley of The Red Cat in New York City is a delicious braised veal shank recipe. Osso buco, a traditional dish from Italy, has been translated to mean "bone hole" or "pierced bone". As you can probably guess, the bone marrow is an important part of this dish. Skip it and you won't get the flavor or the richness that this dish is known for.
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Doctors say cutting food stamps could backfire

(AP) Doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills. Maybe not immediately, they say, but over time if the poor wind up in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result.
Among the health risks of hunger are spiked rates of diabetes and developmental problems for young children down the road.
The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Ex-NFL players could get $5 million each in concussion settlement ...

(Reuters) Former National Football League players suffering from health problems will be eligible to receive as much as $5 million each under a settlement reached in a lawsuit brought by thousands of retired players.
The ex-NFL players will not have to show their injuries were caused by football, Christopher Seeger, an attorney for the retired players, said on Tuesday, a day after filing a preliminary motion for approval of the settlement in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The details of the deal come four months after the NFL agreed to pay more than $760 million to settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 former players.
Community: What about present and future players?
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Gonorrhea, Syphilis Regain Traction in U.S., CDC Reports

(Bloomberg) Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men, a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.
The rate of new gonorrhea cases rose 4 percent in 2012 from the year before, while syphilis jumped 11 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in a report. Rates for chlamydia, the most common of the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, gained less than 1 percent.
While all three diseases are curable with antibiotics, many people don’t get tested as recommended, said Gail Bolan, the director of the CDC’s STD prevention division. That’s especially the case for syphilis, where the rise is entirely attributable to men, particularly those who are gay or bisexual.
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U.S. West Coast getting little radiation from Fukushima

(San Francisco Chronicle) Scientists reported Wednesday that low levels of radiation from Japan's Fukushima disaster first detected off the California coast two years ago have been declining ever since and remain well below any levels considered unsafe for humans.
The scientists, from UC Santa Cruz and Stony Brook University in New York, were responding to public concerns raised this week by an Internet video claiming that dangerously high radiation levels had been detected in the sands of Pacifica State Beach.
Community: Who thinks they can trust any old internet video?
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Frigid Temperatures Trigger Rare "Frost Quakes"

(Discover Magazine) Frigid temperatures can cause frostbite, but they can also trigger little-known underground explosions called “frost quakes.” These quakes are a rare weather phenomenon that has been reported with surprising frequency in the past week.
Frost quakes, or cryoseisms, occur in the winter, when a warm spell allows rain or melting snow to seep into cracks and crannies in the ground. When a cold front suddenly hits (like the polar vortex smacking much of the U.S. and Canada [recently]) that water quickly freezes.
As it freezes, the water expands and outgrows its small underground space, cracking the frozen soil or bedrock around it to make room. The resulting boom can be frighteningly loud and even shake the ground, but the quakes are so localized that they rarely cause any noticeable damage.
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New Glue Could Mend Broken Hearts

(LiveScience) researchers have invented an adhesive that can also repair heart wounds.
The glue bonds to heart tissue, and is as strong as stitches or staples, sealing wounds while avoiding complications, say its inventors, Jeffrey M. Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. Pedro del Nido, a cardiac surgeon at Boston Children's Hospital…
The glue starts off with the viscosity of honey. A doctor can paint it onto a patch, and use the patch on the heart to repair a hole in tissue (similar to what one might do on a bicycle tire). Or, a doctor could apply the glue directly to a tear in a blood vessel or intestinal wall, and clamp the edges of the torn tissue together until the glue hardens.
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Survey Finds Wealthier Patients More Satisfied With Health Care

(Kaiser Health News) Money may not buy happiness, but patients with more money to spend tend to be happier with their health care providers, a statewide survey sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation found.
Based on responses from 1,500 California residents, researchers found that among those whose household incomes fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, only about half said the quality of their care was excellent or very good, compared to almost 70 percent of those with household incomes above 200 percent of the poverty line.
The underlying reasons for this disparity, according to the researchers, were not the patients’ income per se but the quality of their relationships with caregivers.  Low-income people — who often get their care from resource-strapped community clinics and emergency rooms — tended to see different providers each time they sought care, felt less involved in their own health care decision-making and felt less connected to the facilities where they were treated.
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Heart Attacks Hit Poor Hardest

(Science Daily) As people get older, their bodies wear down and become less resilient. In old age, it's common for people to become "clinically frail," and this "frailty syndrome" is emerging in the field of public health as a powerful predictor of healthcare use and death.
Now researchers Vicki Myers and Prof. Yariv Gerber … and colleagues have found that poor people are more than twice as likely as the wealthy to become frail after a heart attack. The findings … could help doctors and policymakers improve post-heart-attack care for the poor.
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Anatomy Of An Obamacare 'Horror Story'

(Maggie Mahar, healthinsurance.org) Yesterday I posted about a Fort Worth Star Telegram article that leads with the tale of Whitney Johnson, a 26-year-old new mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). Her insurer just cancelled her policy, and according to Johnson, new insurance would cost her over $1,000 a month…
When I checked the exchange – plugging in Johnson’s county and her age – I soon found a Blue Choice Gold PPO plan priced at $332 monthly (just $7 more than she had been paying for the plan that was cancelled). Co-pays to see a primary care doctor would run just $10 ($50 to visit a specialist) and she would not have to pay down the $1,500 deductible before the insurance kicked in…
[An editor at the paper] had just received an internal email, he told me, which revealed that Whitney Johnson had found affordable health insurance for $350 a month – just $25 more than the premium on her cancelled policy, and roughly what I thought she would pay in the exchange…
Would the paper publish a follow-up, acknowledging that Johnson would not have to pay $1,000 for coverage?
“I’m not sure what we’ll do with it.” He sounded cautious.
To this day – more than a month after the story appeared – the Star-Telegram still hasn’t told its readers that Johnson had found affordable coverage or that under Obamacare, no 20-something – including Johnson – will be charged $1,000 a month…
[A] lack of fact checkers does not explain why the newspaper ignored the news that one of its “victims” had found good coverage. No editor’s note. No comment. No clarification.
Why is this important? This major daily’s nearly 200,000 daily readers saw the story that would lead them to believe that Americans who received cancellation notices were “left in limbo.” Most, it concluded, would wind up uninsured – or paying more than they could afford.  As I’ve pointed out many times – and as more and more coverage is revealing – the opposite is true.
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