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

African Heritage & Health Week

If you’ve never tried an authentic African heritage meal from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, or the American South before, then African Heritage & Health Week on February 1–7 is the perfect time to discover why its savory flavors and naturally healthy features make African Heritage Cuisine the next big food trend.
To commemorate Black History Month, Oldways is challenging everyone, everywhere to enjoy at least one dish, at home or at a local restaurant, that is inspired by the cuisines of African-American ancestors and Oldways’ African Heritage Diet Pyramid. By preparing an Oldways African Heritage recipe or venturing out to a new restaurant, you can:  
·         Dance your way through the spices, textures, and aromas of West African stews, Jollof rice, golden black-eyed pea fritters, and traditional fufu—a pleasing starchy vegetable mash that’s so thick, you use it like a roll or bread for dipping!   
·         Or head further east and eat with your hands! Ethiopian restaurants are gaining much acclaim and popularity, even without silverware—these flavorful dishes are enjoyed with a special bread called Injera that you use as your spoon.
·         Escape to the savory, tropical comfort foods of the Caribbean and Latin America, or the bright spices, smoked fish, and banana dishes of South America.
·         Or rediscover the early farm-to-table cuisines of African American ancestors.
To help diners explore, Oldways has created a new African Heritage Dine Around Town webpage that offers African heritage dining destinations across the nation, from pop-up shops to fine dining restaurants.
If a meal at home shared with family and friends is more appealing, Oldways suggests its own recipe for Jollof Rice as an option. This is a traditional African rice dish that is delicious and healthy, and very budget friendly. You can find plenty of other recipes on the Plates of Expressions page.
The foods that have sustained cultures are an important part of history. What better time to dedicate a week to African Heritage and Health than during Black History Month?
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More on African Heritage and Health from Oldways

A sampling of research showing how people of African heritage eating traditional foods are healthier than those who adopt a typical Western diet.
The foods of African Heritage contain lots to be celebrated, & they begin with the main ingredient of African American cooking today—flavor!
Oldways' A Taste of African Heritage cooking classes bring cultural history, nutrition, simple cooking skills, delicious food tastings, and personal story sharing together for a dynamic, life changing program. 
Resources include information on African Diasporan Cultures, Setting Up Your Kitchen, African Heritage foods, shopping list, and food glossary, and the Advisory Committee made up of experts on African descendent health and history.
Oldways is fortunate to collaborate with many outstanding organizations and individuals working to foster the health and wellness of African Americans.
This program will provide cultural nutrition education training and tools to more effectively help African Americans make the changes they need to better their health.
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What Black History Month Should Be

(Theodore Johnson, 2012 White House Fellow) The current aim of Black History Month should not be the construction of a mere timeline of events and personas. Instead, it should be to explore the many and varied journeys of our black citizens today. This approach will inherently intersect with the seminal moments in black history while also providing an accompanying personal narrative that commands a deeper appreciation. In this way, facts in textbooks leap off the page and become life-changing inspirations more accessible to all Americans…
[W]hy must we wait until February to talk about [George Washington] Carver's development of crop rotation methods that tremendously increased yields and continues to be central to the farming industry? This fact is integral to any serious discussion about the American agrarian capitalism that predated the Industrial Revolution and still persists in today's agribusiness.
Carver did not make contributions solely intended for black America; he was a black man who made contributions to all of America. Let's discuss his path instead of relegating him to the peanut gallery. There may be interest in the fact, but there is power in the story.
This isn't an abstract concept; it's personal. Black History Month taught me that Booker T. Washington was the first black man to have dinner with the President at the White House. Interesting, sure. But the more compelling context is that the event touched my great-grandparents and forged my family's path for the next century when they named their son after the president, Theodore Roosevelt. Through lynchings, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, black power and the mainstreaming of black celebrity, this latest chapter in our story concluded with my dinner with the first black president of the United States.
Black history is this sort of century-long journey that evinces the faith of a family, even when it presents harsh realities. While the above may sound especially American, the forced immigration of my male African ancestor to this land and the forced removal of my female Native American ancestor from this land is equally American. This month should focus on the exploration of these hard truths.
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Virtual trips to take for Black History Month

(Tribune Newspapers) It has been nearly a century since historian Carter Woodson outlined his vision: a week celebrating the accomplishments of black Americans. By the 1970s, Woodson got his wish and more: Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated February as Black History Month. It's a good time to take stock of the struggles and triumphs of African-Americans. We found some compelling online exhibits that present their own perspective on the black experience in America.
In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience
From Haitian and African immigration in the 20th century to the sojourns of free blacks to Northern cities and Western homesteads, In Motion outlines 13 migratory waves.
We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement
Included are more than 45 sites listed in the National Register for their association with the modern civil rights movement. Detailed descriptions and photos accompany each listing…
African-American artists at the National Gallery of Art
The pieces featured are diverse, from a Colonial portrait by Joshua Johnson of Baltimore to modern works by artists Romare Bearden and Alma Thomas.
Community: The Smithsonian also has a virtual tour of its African art collection.
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Farfalle with Lamb Ragu
A classic flavor combination, lamb and mint meet bow-tie pasta for a hearty weeknight meal.
Green Vegetable Minestrone
Minestrone is sort of a catch-all Italian term for soup, but it’s always a welcome meal, especially when it’s fortified, as it is here, with plenty of vegetables and protein-packed chickpeas. If you want a little more bite, consider substituting mildly bitter escarole for the chard.
6 Delicious Dishes to Ring in the Year of the Horse
[Thursday] officially mark[ed] the start of the Chinese New Year and ushers in the Year of the Horse. If you're planning to celebrate with an Asian-style feast, we've got plenty of fresh, fabulous dishes for you to make for guests. And while these may not be traditional at a Chinese New Year's feast, they're festive, easy, and party-ready. When you serve your guests one of these delicious dishes, offer them the traditional Chinese New Year's greeting: Gung Hay Fat Choy!
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Pacific Black Cod Nabe
This delicious recipe, 'stolen with permission' from Felix Turianskyj, Executive Chef of Opus Montréal and Koko Restaurant + Bar, calls for a Japanese cooking method called Nabe. Nabe cooking was traditionally used in Japan as a symbol of friendship - cooking the dish in a large bowl which then becomes a communal serving dish.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Healthy Recipe: Salmon in Parchment
Eating fish such as salmon as little as one to three times monthly may protect against ischemic stroke (a type of stroke caused by lack of blood supply to the brain, due to a clot or other factors), according to a meta-analysis of eight studies.
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Nutrition Makeover Part 1: Eat Fish

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) This week add two servings of salmon or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s appear to help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
Look for fresh or frozen wild Alaskan salmon or canned sockeye, sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, and black cod (also known as sablefish and butterfish). You can also supplement with high-quality fish oil - the Weil Vitamin Advisor can provide more information. And while non-fish sources of these essential fatty acids are significantly less potent, don't let that keep you from including omega-3-fortified eggs, flaxseeds (freshly ground) and walnuts in your diet.
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All alcohol, even wine, raises risk of gout flare-ups: study

(Reuters Health) Bad news for gout sufferers who enjoy drinking the fruit of the vine - new research finds that all types of alcohol, even previously exempt wine, can bring on attacks of the painful condition.
"I don't want to sound too dogmatic and say, 'You must stop drinking,'" lead author Dr. Tuhina Neogi told Reuters Health. But, the Boston University rheumatologist said, "based on this study, I would counsel patients that any type of alcohol may trigger an attack."
"It's not just beer or hard liquor that can trigger attacks, but also wine," she said.
Gout is a potentially debilitating form of arthritis that afflicts more than 8 million American adults, and the number is rising, Neogi's team writes.
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FDA proposes rule to prevent food contamination during transport

(Reuters) Food transportation companies will be required to adhere to certain sanitation standards to prevent food from becoming contaminated during transit under a new rule proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The rule would require shippers and carriers to properly refrigerate food, clean vehicles between loads and protect food during transportation.
The rule is the seventh and final plank of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, a sweeping initiative designed to reduce food-borne illnesses by giving the FDA greater powers to intervene before an outbreak occurs.
It would establish standards for vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, information exchange, training and records.
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Norovirus: The most common stomach bug

(CNN) Princess Cruises' Caribbean Princess docked early Friday in Houston, ending passengers' vacations a day early amid an outbreak of norovirus.
Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson says the early docking came because of forecasts predicting heavy fog in Houston, not because of the illness. But, she said a total of 178 people reported the illness during the voyage, and lab tests confirmed that it was norovirus.
It's the second outbreak of norovirus on a cruise ship this week. Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas docked in New Jersey on Wednesday, two days earlier than expected.
Community: Too bad the owners of cruise lines don’t read Many Years Young: “Grape Seed Extract Bollixes Norovirus.”
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Testosterone supplements linked to heart attacks in new study

(CBSNews.com) A new medical study draws a link between testosterone supplements and heart attacks.
An analysis authored by epidemiologist William Finkle and researchers at UCLA of insurance claims for more than 55,000 men looked at the rate of heart attacks within 90 days of starting testosterone.  In men 65 and older, the risk more than doubled.  In men younger than 65, with a history of heart disease, the risk almost tripled.  
Testosterone treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for conditions linked with so-called "low T" - documented low testosterone levels.  But many men without low T are being treated for a variety of symptoms such as fatigue and diminished libido.  A study earlier this month found 43 percent of men receiving the hormone had a normal level.
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Mammography Beneficial for Younger Women, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Researchers … have published new findings … that mammography remains beneficial for women in their 40s. According to the study, women between ages 40 and 49 who underwent routine screening mammography were diagnosed at earlier stages with smaller tumors and were less likely to require chemotherapy.
In recent years, there have been contradictory guidelines related to the benefit of annual mammograms for women in their 40s. The United States Preventive Services Task Force's guidelines from 2009 recommend against annual screening mammography for women in that age group while the American Cancer Society, American College of Radiology and other professional societies recommend annual exams beginning at age 40.
"Our findings clearly underscore the impact of neglecting to screen women with mammography for women in their 40s," says the study's first author Donna Plecha, MD, Director of Breast Imaging at UH Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center and Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. "Foregoing mammography for women in this age group leads to diagnoses of later stage breast cancers. We continue to support screening mammography in women between the ages of 40 and 49 years."
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Home blood pressure monitoring may uncover hidden risk

(Reuters Health) People with normal blood pressure at the doctor's office but high blood pressure at other times may have a doubled risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to new research reviews.
In two analyses covering four industrialized countries and more than 5,000 people, researchers also found that home blood pressure monitoring frequently picks up that so-called masked hypertension.
If that leads to more people with hidden high blood pressure getting treatment, it would be affordable and worthwhile to expand home monitoring, they say.
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The Best Medical Alert Systems for Keeping Seniors Safe

(LiveScience) Most people would prefer to live in their own homes in their old age, rather than a nursing home. But independent living can be scary when a fall or a medical emergency could mean a one-way trip to the hospital.
Medical alert systems can make independent living safer for older adults.
"Emergency Response Technologies are important, because falls are the number one cause of death due to injury in persons age 75-plus," Andrew Carle, executive-in-residence at the Program in Senior Housing Administration at George Mason University, wrote in an email to Live Science. Falls "are also the number one cause of hospitalization due to injury for this age group."…
If these kinds of systems might fit your needs, read on for analysis of the top three.
Community: Just don’t believe anyone calling you to tell you your medical alter system is ready for you, unless you’ve actually ordered one.
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Do We Need Flame Retardants in Electronics?

(Scientific American) Flame retardants are chemically bound to the circuit boards of personal electronics during production—helping to keep any chemicals from seeping into the environment or possibly causing health repercussions for consumers (although it’s a different story for workers who process discarded electronics). The function of circuit boards is to transmit electrical current, so flame retardant proponents say fire protection is an obvious necessity.
Flame retardants are also embedded in the plastic shells that encase circuitry and electronics, with potentially more alarming health impacts. They are added to the plastics during a late stage of manufacturing without bonding to or reacting with the product material, making it easier for them to leach into the environment.
In general, industry is responsible for regulating its own acceptable fire risk in electronics. In the U.S. the electronics industry abides by voluntary consensus standards for keeping electronics from bursting into flames but there is no specification about what compounds must be used nor any limit (other than economics) on maximum use…
It is difficult for outside groups to gain insight into risk because companies typically do not share information on which flame retardants they use. 
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U.S. safer when CDC works with other countries to fight infectious diseases

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) [P]ilot projects between CDC and Uganda and CDC and Vietnam have resulted in improvements in disease detection and response that may serve as a model for increasing global health security in the rest of the world. Global health security – keeping the U.S. and the world safe and secure from infectious disease threats – is achieved by preventing, detecting and responding to outbreaks as early and effectively as possible.
During six months of intensive collaboration, CDC worked with Uganda’s Ministry of Health and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health to modernize diagnostic testing for high-risk pathogens, develop real-time information systems for faster outbreak response, and improve emergency operations procedures including safe packaging and transport of potentially infectious samples.  Improvements include clinicians’ ability to report and track suspected high-risk pathogen cases by text message; expansion of specimen referral and transportation systems supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); and confirmation of Zika virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, hepatitis E virus, meningococcal disease, yellow fever, and multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) cases in Uganda
“The health security of the United States is only as strong as the health security of all nations around the world. We are all connected by the food we eat, the water we drink, and air we breathe,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Stopping outbreaks where they start is the most effective and least costly way to prevent disease and save lives at home and abroad – and it’s the right thing to do. Progress in Uganda in less than a year shows how effective strategic investments can be.”
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Psych Bed Shortage Threatens Public Safety

(MedPage Today) By the 1980s thousands of newly deinstitutionalized patients had returned to the streets often to be returned to institutionalized care -- but now it would be in prison. According to Fuller, in the 1950s, only 3% of American prisoners were mentally ill; today it's 40%.
This patient population also overwhelms ERs, especially in urban settings…
"With medical illness, we have tests to tell if you are, for example, having a heart attack. If you are, I will know within a couple of hours," [said Sandra Schneider, M.D., president of the American College of Emergency Physicians]. "We don't have these tests with mental illness. That's why you see so many people with mental illness, who committed these atrocities. We don't always know who's a little difficult to deal with and who's going to go get a gun and go to an elementary school and kill everybody."
This is especially tragic because many of the mass killings could have been prevented had the patients received the needed mental healthcare, according to Kristina Ragosta, director of advocacy at TAC: "I've never seen any evidence that people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, undergoing appropriate treatment, have committed any of these mass casualty acts."
To help prevent these tragedies, and ensure psychiatric patients continue treatment, 45 states have instituted Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs.
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More Cities Mandate Paid Sick Leave

(NPR) This month, Rhode Island became the third state in the nation to offer workers paid family leave to care for a loved one. And on Tuesday, Newark, N.J., became the latest in a small wave of cities to mandate paid sick leave.
The policies cover both public and private sector workers, and a dozen more areas are considering some variation of them.
In New York City, a new paid sick leave law hasn't even taken effect yet, but already Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to expand it. In a speech two weeks ago, he said his plan would cover half a million more people by eliminating exemptions for certain sectors, and by including employers with five or more workers instead of the current threshold of 15. Employees working 30 or more hours a week will earn up to five paid sick days a year.
De Blasio also wants to phase in the law faster so that it takes full effect by April 1. And he would do away with the requirement that it be dependent on a good economy.
"Because in a troubled economy, people need paid sick leave even more to protect their families," he told a cheering crowd of supporters.
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Affordable Care Act News

(ThinkProgress) The GOP is demanding to repeal an Obamacare provision in exchange for increasing the debt limit -- even though they've embraced it before.
(Kaiser Health News) The business lobbying group urges Republicans to shift their focus from repealing the health law to changing it in Congress. But some tea party Republicans want to continue the fight.
(Reuters) At least two U.S. states running their own Obamacare health insurance exchanges expect new insurers to enter their marketplaces and bolster competition in 2015, officials said on Friday.
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Poor sleep quality may accelerate cancer growth, study finds

(Fox News) Poor quality of sleep marked by frequent waking can speed cancer growth and increase the disease’s aggressiveness, according to new research.
[R]esearchers experimented with genetically engineered mice that had been injected with tumor cells.  As the mice slept during the day, a quiet, motorized brush moved through half of the cages every two minutes – forcing some of the mice to wake up and go back to sleep.  The other mice were not disturbed as they slept.
After four weeks, the researchers found that the tumors in the mice with fragmented sleep patterns were twice as large as the tumors in the mice who had slept normally.
According to study director Dr. David Gozal, poor sleep can significantly alter the immune system. "It's not the tumor, it's the immune system," said Gozal… "Fragmented sleep changes how the immune system deals with cancer in ways that make the disease more aggressive."
Community: We need the hormone melatonin to sleep, and “Melatonin May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk.” It’s available as a food supplement.
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Sleep deprivation raises diabetes risk

(Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Poor sleep is strongly linked to increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The two problems—which have been referred to as twin epidemics—present serious public health risks in the United States and worldwide. Sleep problems are also linked to risk for obesity, a primary risk factor for diabetes, and to metabolic syndrome, a condition that often precedes diabetes.
Research has indicated that sleep deprivation disrupts glucose metabolism, the process by which the body regulates blood sugar and processes that sugar into energy. Disruptions to healthy glucose functioning include decreases to insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, both of which contribute to elevated, unhealthful levels of blood sugar that eventually can lead to diabetes.
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Some Reasons Why You Should Avoid Sleeping Pills

(LiveScience) We’ve known for a long time that hypnotic drugs are not good to take for more than one to three weeks because they are habit-forming and increase the risk of accidents. And there’s now a growing body of evidence that shows they could be increasing the risk of premature death.
Hypnotics are medicines prescribed specifically to help people suffering from insomnia get a good night’s sleep. This includes people who have difficulty getting to sleep as well as those who struggle to stay asleep…
Despite claims to the contrary, no hypnotic delivers sleep of the same quality as natural sleep. And there are a number of proven non-drug treatment options for insomnia, such as simple relaxation techniques that are definitely better in the long term.
The hypnotic drugs, on the other hand, are habit forming, dull cognitive abilities, increase the risk of hip fractures from falls and make other accidents more likely, especially when combined with alcohol.
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Mindful Sleep

(John Cline, Ph.D., Psychology Today) A simple meditation for sleep that was recommended by [Jon] Kabat-Zinn is to focus on the breath while lying in bed as you are preparing to go to sleep. Follow the breath moving into and out of the body. As you are being aware of the breath just allow yourself to sink into the bed with each breath. He further suggests imagining breathing out to the ends of the universe and breathing from there back into your body.
By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep. Practice of mindfulness meditation during the day can help focus the mind and decrease stress by reducing negative thoughts about the past and needless worries about the future. And that, combined with bedtime relaxation, can help you get the Zzzzs you’ve been looking for.
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More Tips for Better Sleep

(Michael Terman, Ph.D., Psychology Today) You’re not complaining, because you’re getting your zzz’s. You feel lucky compared with friends and family who suffer insomnia, apnea, restless legs, nightmares, sweats, morning fog, afternoon slumps… Yet the experts say still you may not be getting healthy sleep. See why, and what you can do to maximize sleep’s critical benefits.
(Mache Seibel, MD) Here are some things you can do to help you sleep without popping a pill. 1. Don't Watch the Late News… 2. Use associative activation to connect going to bed with a positive experience… 3. Prime your brain to lower anxiety and sleep better… 4. Use good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding large meals before bedtime and not using caffeine, alcohol or nicotine near bedtime. 5. Keep your room cooler… 6. Use room darkening shades… 7. Dock your problems. Keep a pad and pen by the bedside.
(Consumer Reports) That depends on whether you snore, or have heartburn, back, hip, knee, neck, or shoulder problems.
(Huffington Post) [S]nooze-button sleep is inherently disturbed slumber and may be doing more harm than good… Luckily for chronic snoozers, our internal alarm clocks are highly trainable, says [sleep specialist Michael Decker, Ph.D.] With these seven tips, you can start weening yourself off the snooze button for good. Go To Bed Earlier… Make The Morning Smell Right… Move Slowly… Shift The Alarm Slightly… Power Down Before Bed… Let The Morning Light In… Practice Good Sleep Hygiene In General.
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More Information and Recent Research on Sleep and the Body Clock

(Huffington Post) Just one night of sleep deprivation can … set you up for a number of everyday missteps we'd all rather avoid. Here are a few of those things you shouldn't do when you haven't had enough sleep. Drive… Make Important Decisions… Go Grocery Shopping… Or Online Shopping, For That Matter… Grab An Energy Drink… Brag About It… Pick A Fight.
(Huffington Post) Sure, we know that screen time right before bed is bad for sleep. And turns out, using your smartphone late at night also makes you feel depleted in the morning, thereby making you less focused and engaged at work, according to a small new study.
(Consumer Reports) Yes. But all insomnia drugs pose some risks—which is one reason you're usually better off with nondrug measures.
(Science Daily) Researchers placed twenty-two participants on a 28-hour day in a controlled environment without a natural light-dark cycle. As a result, their sleep-wake cycle was delayed by four hours each day, until sleep occurred 12 hours out of sync with their brain clock and in the middle of what would have been their normal 'daytime'… During this disruption of sleep timing, there was a six-fold reduction in the number of genes that displayed a circadian rhythm (a rhythm with an approximately 24 hour period). This included many regulators associated with transcription and translation, indicating widespread disruption to many biological processes.
(Science Daily) Police officers working the night shift are significantly more likely to suffer long-term on-the-job injuries than officers on day and afternoon shifts, according to new research.
More . . .


Cooking Light:
Super Bowl Party Recipes
Touchdown! Football fans won't just be cheering for their favorite teams when you serve up our game day grub.
Check out our alcohol dos and don'ts for more guidelines.
Appetite for Health:
Super Bowl Recipes for a Healthier Game Day
Here’s our super substitutions and healthier recipes for a leaner Game Day menu.
The Supermarket Guru:
Super Bowl Snacks to Satisfy
Serve something different at your Super Bowl party this year. We have some fun and healthy recipes from Devin Alexander that are sure to keep competition hot even at the snack table. Whether you are rooting for the Sea Hawks or the Broncos, or betting on the best commercial or possible halftime flop, these recipes are sure to satisfy.
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Small Cuts To Food Stamps Add Up To Big Pains For Many Recipients

(The Salt, NPR) In a rare display of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives Wednesday approved a massive five-year farm bill that costs nearly half a trillion dollars.
The bill includes some reductions to food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, to the tune of nearly $1 billion a year. It's far less than what many Republicans had wanted. But the cuts are large enough to worry some Democrats and many food stamp recipients.
If it passes, the farm bill will reduce these SNAP benefits for 850,000 households across the country, more than a third of which are in California, costing them about $90 a month…
Allison Pratt at the Alameda County Community Food Bank says the impact of this change to the program is real.
"This is really a layering on one cut after the other and we really are concerned about how families are going to cope with these cuts," she says.
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Many chronically ill Americans unable to afford food, medicine

(Reuters Health) One in three Americans with a chronic disease such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure has difficulty paying for food, medications or both, according to a new study.
People who had trouble affording food were four times more likely to skip some of their medications due to cost than those who got plenty to eat, researchers found…
Among [the survey participants with chronic disease], 23 percent took their medication less often than prescribed because of the cost, 19 percent reported difficulty affording food and 11 percent said they were having trouble paying for both food and medications. In the end, about one in three had trouble affording food, medication or both.
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Farm bill contains farmers market program that food advocates for poor see as hopeful

(Washington Post) Buried in more than 900 pages of the new farm bill is a small nationwide program that will allow low-income families to double their food stamp benefits at farmers markets.
It’s not an empty gesture Congress is making to the poor after slashing $8 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program budget, advocates said. They see it as a program that will help tens of thousands of SNAP users eat more nutritious foods, perhaps avoiding a paradox of the poor: getting fat on food stamps.
Details of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program have yet to be hammered out, but proponents say that if it proves as successful as similar state efforts, the Agriculture Department’s $100 million program could help hungry families and also address the country’s obesity crisis.
“This program helps families buy healthy food from their local farmers markets, which also helps family farmers and boosts the economy,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who was instrumental in introducing the plan.
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The Surprising Policy Solution That Could Encourage Americans To Eat Healthier

(ThinkProgress) On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama used his fifth State of the Union address to propose an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to the childless working poor. In addition to offering low-income workers financial stability, a new white paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago suggests that policy could boost healthier eating habits.
Government benefits like food stamps are generally paid out over time. What makes the EITC unique is that it’s paid in a lump sum in the form of a refundable tax credit in late winter or early spring, explain authors Leslie McGranahan and Diane W. Schanzenbach. McGranahan and Schanzenbach analyzed the spending habits for EITC beneficiaries in the months that the tax credit is typically paid out, focusing on the types of food and groceries they buy.
The results were striking. Working poor families spent significantly more money on healthy products including fish, poultry, meat, and dairy in the months that they received their benefits. There was almost no corresponding rise in the amount of fat-laden fast and junk foods that they purchased.
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Contradictory Nutrition News Creates Consumer Confusion

(Science Daily) Exposure to conflicting news about the health benefits of certain foods, vitamins and supplements often results in confusion and backlash against nutrition recommendations, finds a recent study…
This confusion and backlash may make people more likely to ignore not only the contradictory information, but also widely accepted nutritional advice such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly, said Rebekah Nagler, Ph.D…., and author of the study…
"Can the public deal with [these messages]? Can they make sense of what they are seeing?" Nagler wondered. The fault may not lie solely with journalists for not doing a good job of explaining the research since the media landscape is changing as newspapers shrink and as social media such as blogs and Facebook grow in influence, she added.
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California Legalized Selling Food Made At Home And Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses

(Forbes) Under the California Homemade Food Act, local governments cannot ban cottage food businesses based in private homes.  Instead, home-based entrepreneurs can sell their goods after passing a “food processor course” (which can be done online), properly labeling their goods and practicing common-sense sanitation when cooking and baking.  Those who want to start their own cottage food business legally need only register or obtain a permit, as either a Class A or Class B operation.
The two permits distinguish between the types of cottage food business an entrepreneur may want to run.  Class A businesses are exempt from routine inspections, but can only engage in “direct sales,” i.e., straight to the customer.  That includes farmers’ markets, bake sales and from the home business itself.  Meanwhile, Class B operations require inspections, but also allow “indirect sales” to third-party retailers, like restaurants, bakeries, delis, groceries and food trucks.
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4 Reasons To Snack On Pistachios

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Pistachios, like most nuts, are a healthy snack when eaten in moderation, and their fat content can help stave off hunger pangs. If you need more reasons to pick up a bag of pistachios, consider this - pistachios:
1.    May help reduce the risk of heart disease…
2.    Are a good source of polyphenol antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
3.    May promote eye health..
4.    Provide fiber…
I recommend avoiding nuts that are dyed red or white (fortunately, these are rare nowadays), and eating only the natural ones - the green hue of the nut is natural and comes from chlorophyll.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Study: Little Evidence Of Better Care At Expensive Hospitals

(Kaiser Health News) A study of autoworker claims found that hospitals with the highest prices tended to have the strongest reputations and tight holds on their local markets yet showed little evidence of providing better quality care…
The study found high-priced hospitals were twice as large as the low-priced hospitals. Their market shares were three times as large as the low-priced hospitals, often through affiliations with large health systems. Market dominance is one of the major explanations for why some hospitals are able to extract higher prices from insurers during negotiations, since the insurers are reluctant to irk consumers by leaving these hospitals out of their networks.
The expensive hospitals were much more likely than other hospitals to win a national ranking for high quality from U.S. News & World Report, which relies strongly on doctor surveys in its analyses. In fact, the researchers found that none of the low-priced hospitals showed up on any U.S. News lists, while one out of four high-priced hospitals showed up on the list.
However, more qualitative, albeit rudimentary data, did not show expensive hospitals excelling. They performed worse than low-priced hospitals in keeping patients from being readmitted within a month and for avoiding blood clots and death in surgical patients. They also did no better in keeping heart attack and pneumonia patients alive than did low-price hospitals, although they were more successful in averting death for heart failure patients. Their overall ratings among patients were not significantly different than low-price hospitals.
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