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

Chemical from Plants Prevents Alzheimer's Disease in Mice

(Science Daily) A chemical that's found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer's disease in mice, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered.
In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer's symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound -- -a flavonol called fisetin -- -prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments. The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer's disease. The new finding suggests a way to treat Alzheimer's symptoms independently of targeting amyloid plaques.
"We had already shown that in normal animals, fisetin can improve memory," says Pamela Maher, a senior staff scientist in Salk's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory who led the new study. "What we showed here is that it also can have an effect on animals prone to Alzheimer's."
And there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Mediterranean Diet Improves Cognition

(Medscape) Our trial suggests that nutritional intervention with [the Mediterranean Diet (MedDiet)] supplemented with either [extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)] or nuts is associated with improved global cognition. The benefit of MedDiet was independent of potential confounders such as age, family history of cognitive impairment or dementia, ApoE genotype, education, physical activity, vascular risk factors and energy intake.
Our longitudinal results concur with the recent findings from a cross-sectional analysis at baseline in another PREDIMED subgroup (Barcelona) whereby increased consumption of EVOO and walnuts were independently related to better cognition.  They are also consistent with the weak but not significant association observed for olive oil, monounsaturated fatty acids and the MedDiet in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Greek (EPIC-Greek) study,  with a similar but stronger association observed in a large Italian cohort and with a slightly improved cognitive performance in the Three-City French cohort.
Our findings are consistent with previous, but not all, observational studies conducted outside the Mediterranean basin.
Community: Medscape tells us “Brain Food: What to Avoid.”
And there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Dietary treatment shows potential in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease

(University of Eastern Finland) New research findings indicate that an early onset of dietary treatment may slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The study was conducted on mice…
Several epidemiological studies suggest that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish, might reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Experimental studies have also observed a positive – although modest – association between DHA and several processes behind Alzheimer's disease. This recently published study investigated whether the efficacy of DHA treatment can be enhanced by additional nutrients.
The study used transgenic female mice carrying APP and PS1 mutations linked with familial Alzheimer's disease, and wild-type mice… In addition to the control chow, some of the APP/PS1 mice were fed three experimental chows enriched with fish oil and having a similar fat content as the control chow: fish oil supplement only, plant sterol supplement or Fortasyn supplement, which contains uridine-monophosphate, phospholipids, B- vitamins, and antioxidants…
The results indicate that even slight changes in the composition of the diet may, under a sufficiently long period of time and at an early stage of the disease process, lead to significant changes in brain metabolism and improved memory performance…
[B]ut will it work as efficiently in humans, too? We will probably get the answer in a year, as results from a parallel clinical study of the LiPiDiDiet project become available.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Nutritional Supplement Improves Cognitive Performance in Older Adults, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Declines in the underlying brain skills needed to think, remember and learn are normal in aging. In fact, this cognitive decline is a fact of life for most older Americans.
Therapies to improve the cognitive health of older adults are critically important for lessening declines in mental performance as people age. While physical activity and cognitive training are among the efforts aimed at preventing or delaying cognitive decline, dietary modifications and supplements have recently generated considerable interest.
Now a University of South Florida (USF) study reports that a formula of nutrients high in antioxidants and other natural components helped boost the speed at which the brains of older adults processed information.
The USF-developed nutritional supplement, containing extracts from blueberries and green tea combined with vitamin D3 and amino acids, including carnosine, was tested by the USF researchers in a clinical trial enrolling 105 healthy adults, ages 65 to 85.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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More Information and Recent Research on Neurodegenerative Disease

(NBC News) Every Saturday at Casa Maravilla, a housing development for seniors in Chicago, dozens of older Latinos gather to dance and, they hope, help preserve their memory… The dancers are part of the Latino Alzheimer’s & Memory Disorders Alliance, or LAMDA, which started “Bailando por la Salud” (Dancing for Health) to inspire Latinos who are uncomfortable with other forms of exercise to get fit and healthier -- which in turn may help stave off Alzheimer’s and other memory loss conditions.
(Science Daily) Being overweight appears related to reduced levels of a molecule that reflects brain cell health in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotions, and likely also involved in appetite control, according to a new study.
(Bloomberg) Women with high levels of estrogen have more than double the risk of dementia, researchers found in the latest study to cast doubt on the health benefits of the female sex hormone.
(Reuters Health) People who had been exposed to the pesticide DDT were more likely to have Alzheimer's disease than those with no traces of the chemical in their blood, researchers found in a new study.
(Medical News Today) Exposure to common infections - even if they do not make you ill - may be linked to decline in brain functions like memory and reasoning, according to new research… The common infections the researchers studied included Chlamydia pneumoniae (which can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis), Helicobacter pylori (the cause of most stomach and duodenal ulcers), and the herpes viruses cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (which can cause cold sores and other conditions).
(Science Daily) A study shows that levels in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid of the molecules necessary for tissue recovery through the clearance of harmful inflammatory substances are lower than normal in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The study also showed association between the lower levels of these molecules with impaired memory function.
Studies: Whole Grains Reduce Inflammation
(Whole Grains Council, via email) [M]any people claim grains (even healthy whole grains) are dangerous because they contribute to chronic inflammation - which plays a role in heart disease, Alzheimer's ("Grain Brain"), and many types of cancer… [But two] recent studies show that whole grains actually reduce inflammation. The first study … "provides evidence supporting the beneficial effects of whole-grain foods on biomarkers of systemic inflammation in obese children". The second study … showed that eating whole grain barley and brown rice, even for a short period, helped increase "good bacteria" in the digestive system, which relates to improvements in system-wide inflammation.
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Five-Spice Pork Lo Mein
Chinese five-spice powder is a common spice blend that can be found in most supermarkets. Its five assertive components are cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns. Cutting the cooked noodles makes them easier to combine with the other ingredients and serve.
Chicken Taco Bowls
This chicken taco bowl recipe uses the underside of a muffin tin as a mold to bake cute little homemade “tortilla bowls.” The “tortilla bowls” are filled with a zesty chicken filling and topped like nachos.
Los Angeles Times:
Curried slaw
You'll love the brightness and depth of flavor in this so-simple take on cole slaw served with a curried vinaigrette.
Rigatoni with mushrooms and pancetta
This pasta sauce has an old-fashioned, long-simmered taste, but takes less than 15 minutes to cook.
Clams with pine nuts and serrano ham
Rich flavor comes together in minutes with this dish. Plan to serve the clams with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.
Whole Grains Council:
Bacon Sautéed Barley with Arugula
Smoky bacon and pleasantly sharp arugula round out this hearty side dish.
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Nutrition Makeover Part 3: Olive Oil

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Why add olive oil to your 2014 nutrition makeover? The monounsaturated fat found in olive oil is the healthiest type of fat: it is good for the heart and can lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Use it as your main cooking oil (be sure not to use high heat, as it can oxidize the delicate oil), in place of butter and margarine in most baked goods, and as a drizzle on vegetables or salads or a dip for bread.
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Oregano Oil Kills Norovirus—but Not Enough

(Scientific American) Internet herb stores claim that swallowing oregano oil can cure your cold or flu. But the devil's in the details. Oregano oil is an antimicrobial, and can even kill off that tough cruise ship plague, norovirus—but there's no evidence it can do so inside your body, scientists say. It works to inactivate pathogens before they get inside.
Researchers experimented on the mouse form of norovirus—genetically similar to the hard-to-grow human strain. They treated virus colonies with solutions of either four percent oregano oil, or half a percent carvacrol—the active ingredient.
Turns out oregano oil cut virus numbers by 10-fold. Carvacrol: 10,000-fold. In comparison, bleach achieves a million-fold reduction…
So, oregano oil's nowhere near as effective as bleach. But it's nontoxic, and has no noxious fumes. Unless you hate the smell of oregano.
Community: Also, “Grape Seed Extract Bollixes Norovirus.”
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Test for Persistent Lyme Infection Using Live Ticks Shown Safe in Clinical Study

(National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) In a first-of-its-kind study for Lyme disease, researchers have used live, disease-free ticks to see if Lyme disease bacteria can be detected in people who continue to experience symptoms such as fatigue or arthritis after completing antibiotic therapy.
The technique, called xenodiagnosis, attempts to find evidence of a disease-causing microbe indirectly, through use of the natural disease-carrier—in this case, ticks. It was well tolerated by the volunteers, but investigators could not find evidence of Lyme disease bacteria in most of the cases where enough ticks were collected to make testing possible.
Larger studies are needed, the scientists say, to determine the significance of positive xenodiagnosis results in cases where Lyme disease symptoms persist following antibiotic therapy.
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New BPA Experiment Finds No Low-Dose Effects

(Scientific American) A new experiment by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that bisphenol A does not affect the health of rats fed low doses.
The study adds to the ongoing scientific dispute over whether traces of BPA – an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastic, some canned foods and beverages, paper receipts and dental sealants  – can harm people.
Rats exposed in the womb and as newborns to the two highest doses of BPA had lower body weights, abnormal female reproductive development and altered hormone levels. But there were no such effects when the rats were exposed to low doses that people are routinely exposed to.
Some scientists not affiliated with the study said that the findings are flawed. FDA scientists didn’t look for all relevant health impacts, such as effects on the developing brain. Also, the experiment lasted for 90 days, so it is unknown if the rats’ health was affected later in life. Some effects, such as altered glucose levels, might occur after continuing exposure.
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Cool Roofs Might Be Enough to Save Cities from Climate Overheating

(Scientific American) Crickets chirp and bees buzz from sedum flower to flower atop the post office in midtown Manhattan during a visit to the 9th Avenue facility on a perfect New York City fall day. On a sprawling roof that covers most of a city block a kind of park has been laid, sucking up carbon dioxide and other air pollution, filtering rainfall, making it less acidic.
Such verdant roofs may form part of an effective strategy for both cooling buildings and helping combat climate change, according to new research… Other solutions cited in the study include white roofs that reflect more sunlight back to space or hybrid roofs that combine aspects of white and green, or planted, roofs.
A large enough number of such roofs could "completely offset warming due to urban expansion and even offset a percentage of future greenhouse warming over large regional scales," says sustainability scientist Matei Georgescu at Arizona State University, who lead the research. That conclusion contradicts previous findings by researchers from Stanford University, who found that reflective roofs actually might increase global warming.
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Doctors 'grow' human lungs in fish tank

(Houston Chronicle) Doctors at the [University] of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston say they have discovered how to grow human lungs. It's a move that could eventually save the lives of hundreds of people waiting for lung transplants…
Their method recycles old lungs which have been deemed too damaged for transplant, perhaps from someone who died in a high trauma accident like a car crash.
The remaining cells are stripped away to form what is like a lung skeleton. Then cells from another old lung are attached and the growing process can begin taking place in much the same way as a baby growing in a uterus. A new set of lungs can be ready within four or five weeks.
Doctors say the breakthrough came last year when one of the team managed to successfully grow a lung in a fish tank that was adapted to form a psuedo womb.
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Digital media could work as tool to improve health

(Reuters Health) After a desperate mother in South Wales, UK, posted a video of her baby having a seizure on Facebook, one of her friends provided the diagnosis that had eluded the boy's doctor.
The discovery that Evan Owens suffers from reflex anoxic seizures, a rare but treatable disease, provided a happy ending and is just one example of the public health benefits of digital media, says a new perspective in the Journal of Public Health.
Evan's story, published in the UK's Daily Mail, illustrates how people are turning to the Internet for healthcare advice and how important it is for healthcare professionals to participate in the discussion, the perspective's lead author, Amelia Burke-Garcia, told Reuters Health.
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TV Drug Ads May Trim Lengthy Recitation of Side Effects

(Bloomberg) Lengthy lists of drug side effects recited in TV ads are so baffling they may cause consumers to overlook the worst harms of the medicine, U.S. regulators said.
The Food and Drug Administration is studying whether disclosure limited only to serious side effects would improve consumer understanding, according to an agency document posted online… To cover lesser side effects, the FDA proposed simply adding a line about “potential additional risks.”
Advertisements urging consumers to try pills for sleeping, erection problems, arthritis, high blood pressure and scores of other ailments are required to carry warnings of side effects in their television commercials in the interest of full disclosure. The long lists, delivered in voiceover that have been parodied in comic routines, confuse consumers and minimize the most dangerous risks, the agency said in its posting.
“Our hypothesis is that, relative to inclusion of the full major statement, providing limited risk information along with the disclosure about additional risks will promote improved consumer perception and understanding of serious and actionable drug risks,” the FDA said in its document.
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Doctors Court Controversy In Ad For Surgical Robot

(Shots, NPR) Flipping through The New York Times magazine a few Sundays ago, former hospital executive Paul Levy was taken aback by a full-page ad for the da Vinci surgical robot.
It wasn't that Levy hadn't seen advertising before for the robot, which is used for minimally invasive surgeries. It was that the ad prominently featured a dozen members of the surgery team at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. "We believe in da Vinci surgery because our patients benefit," read the ad's headline.
"While I have become accustomed to the many da Vinci ads, I was struck by the idea that a major university health system had apparently made a business judgment that it was worthwhile to advertise outside of its territory, in a national ad in The New York Times," Levy, former chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told me by email.
As Levy scanned the ad further, he noticed that at the bottom the ad bore a copyright for Intuitive Surgical Inc., the maker of the da Vinci system. It included this line: "Some surgeons who appear in this ad have received compensation from the company for providing educational services to other surgeons and patients."…
"I was stunned that a public university would allow its name and reputation to be used in that way," he wrote. "The next day, I did a little research on the university's own website and confirmed that my initial reaction was correct: The ad violated the University's code of conduct and administrative procedures, and likely state law."
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What Bill Maher got wrong about spending on young vs. old: Everything

(Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times) Funny guy, Bill Maher. And he got lots of yuks on his HBO show Friday with a riff on government spending on our seniors vs. our children…
Add up everything, and spending by governments at all levels in 2008 came to about $1 trillion on seniors and $936 billion on children. In other words, virtually 1 to 1…
The more important thing Maher missed in his quest for jokes -- most of his routine was devoted to some salacious cracks about sexuality among seniors (warning: Not safe to be overheard at work) -- is that spending on seniors has nothing to do with how much we spend on children.
For one thing, most of that spending is in Social Security and Medicare, for which most seniors paid for during their entire working lives. To the extent it's out of line, that's because America's overall healthcare costs are out of line. In general, seniors require more medical care than kids, so inevitably their healthcare will cost more, even though the federal government does in fact fund a very comprehensive healthcare program for children -- CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program…
The old versus young idea is pushed most vigorously by front groups for the wealthy, many of them backed by the hedge fund billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose quest is to eviscerate Social Security and Medicare, as we described here. Their tactics include driving a wedge between old and young, and nothing's more effective for that than implying that grandma and grandpa are picking their grandkids' pockets.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Consumer Reports) The assertion that a woman with lupus was penalized by health care reform is misleading at best
(ThinkProgress) The people claiming that Obamacare is a bad deal for Louisiana families aren't actually residents of the state.
(FactCheck.org) A TV ad from the conservative Americans for Prosperity recycles an old — and inaccurate — clip of Florida Rep. Steve Southerland blaming the Affordable Care Act for a “$1,200 increase” in health care premiums.
(FactCheck.org) Sen. Tim Scott claims that the Affordable Care Act’s taxes of $800 billion hit small businesses and families. But that’s misleading on several levels.
(FactCheck.org) Rep. Chris Van Hollen claims the Affordable Care Act “has resulted in significantly reducing the per capita cost of health care.” To be clear, the per capita cost of health care is rising. Van Hollen’s office says he meant that the ACA has significantly reduced the growth in health care costs.
(Reuters) President Barack Obama sought on Friday to ease strains with his Democratic allies in the U.S. Congress, who are fearful they could face election consequences from the botched rollout of the president's signature healthcare law known as "Obamacare." Speaking to House of Representatives Democrats during their three-day retreat, Obama cited an increase in the number of people signing up for insurance coverage under Obamacare as evidence that the law's implementation was going more smoothly after a troubled start.
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States meld Medicare and Medicaid

(Stateline) They are a diverse group of low-income people who are disabled or elderly. Many have multiple chronic illnesses, or are battling depression or substance abuse. Most will need long-term care at some point in their lives.
In the nearly 50 years since Medicaid and Medicare were enacted, the two health care programs – one for the poor and the other for the elderly and disabled – have remained separate, with different rules, duplicative benefits and conflicting financial incentives. The result has been wasted money and disjointed care for more than 10 million "dual eligibles," the Americans who qualify for both programs.
Massachusetts, which provided the model for the Affordable Care Act, is the first state to take advantage of an Affordable Care Act initiative designed to give dual eligibles better care at a lower cost… Now, instead of carrying separate cards for Medicare and Medicaid, dual eligibles in Massachusetts who are enrolled in the state's One Care program will get a single health plan and a case manager to coordinate their care…
The stakes are high: As a group, dual eligibles comprise 15% of all Medicaid enrollees but account for nearly 40% of all costs, or about $109.9 billion in 2009, according to the most recent federal statistics. For Medicare, they represent 20% of all enrollees and more than 30% of costs, or $162.1 billion in 2009.
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Supportive Spouses Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

(Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today) A new study from the University of Utah found a correlation between heart disease risk and the level of social support each spouse feels in a marriage. The study revealed that when both partners consistently support one another that it can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of either partner developing heart disease, regardless of gender.
Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that when both partners perceive the support they get from their partner as ambivalent—or fluctuating from sometimes being ‘helpful’ and sometimes ‘upsetting'—that each partner’s levels of coronary-artery calcification (CAC) tended to be elevated.
Community: Here’s more:
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Valentine's Day Ideas That Will Improve Your Relationship, According to Research

(Dr. Shannon Kolakowski) Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and you're not alone if you sometimes feel unsure of the best way to celebrate with your loved one. So this year I thought I'd share some ways to spend the big day that will not only be fun for you both, but that will also actually help improve your relationship. Win-win, right?
Add novelty to your routine
Use Valentine's Day as a marker for starting to incorporate novel experiences into your schedule. Each of you can brainstorm a list of new places you'd like to see or things you'd like to try together. Make a goal to try one new activity each month or weekend, depending on what your schedule allows…
Incorporate appreciation and gratitude
Make it your goal to show gratitude for your partner on a regular basis, as even small gestures of gratitude can make a big difference in long term relationship success…
Heat up things in the bedroom
Use Valentines Day as a time to reinvest in your sexual energy with your partner. It might be as simple as carving out the time (and privacy) for intimacy, or creating the right setting for you two to be together…
Add an element of mystery or surprise to your celebration.
Research indicates that when people receive a gift that is unexpected or has an element of mystery surrounding it, they tend to feel more positively about the experience, and the happy feelings last longer, when compared to something they expect…
Celebrate the past.
If you decide to go with something more routine, make sure it brings up sentimental, happy memories from the past.
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Love Song Psychoanalysis

(Tania Luna, Psychology Today) In this spirit of Valentine's Day, I've been humming love songs. One blended into the next without leaving much of a mark, but then came Bette Midler and "The Rose" (written by Amanda McBroom)…
"It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream, afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul, afraid of dying
That never learns to live."
This is essentially a song about vulnerability—about the perpetual willingness to step into the unknown and accept the surprises that dwell there…
When we protect ourselves from the worst surprises, we also protect ourselves from the best surprises.
Community: “The Rose” is one of my favorite songs of all time. I once had the privilege of hearing Amanda McBroom sing it live.
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Sweet Heart, You Suck

(David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Yale University Prevention Research Center) Just in time for Valentine’s Day, epidemiology has given “sweetheart” a whole new meaning with a study demonstrating an association between sugar intake and heart disease…
This new study does not, and cannot, prove cause and effect. It merely showed more cardiovascular mortality among people with a higher percentage of calories coming from added sugar. That may mean that sugar causes heart disease (I suspect it does contribute). It may also mean that diets higher in sugar are just poorer diets- and people with poorer diets are more prone to heart disease. That is somewhat less than astonishing…
Some of the same researchers involved in the new study have published other observational studies showing associations between meat and heart disease; meat and diabetes; processed meat and cancer; more fruit intake with less diabetes; more nut intake with less heart disease; and so on…
There are many nutrition details we don’t know, but we know enough to eat well; we are not clueless about the basic care and feeding of Homo sapiens…
As for the timing of those prosaic epidemiologists, inveighing against sweet hearts just in time for Valentine’s Day - they’re just doing their jobs, and probably not as heartless as they seem. We can take comfort in the fact that dark chocolate is still good for our hearts, as are strawberries. And to my knowledge, there’s never even been a question about love.
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More Information and Recent Research on Love, Sex, and Relationships

(Reuters) [A]n international poll released on Wednesday showed that more people feel happy and financially secure if they are in a relationship than being single. Nearly 80 percent of more than 18,000 adults questioned in an online Ipsos poll in 15 countries who were part of a couple said they were happy, compared with 67 percent of singles.
Community: But there may be big differences in reports between married men and married women. I once read that the happiness rankings go like this: Happiest, married men; second, single women; third, single men; fourth, married women. I can’t find a reference for it today, so I can’t give you a link.
(Linda Walter, LCSW, Psychology Today) Valentine’s Day is a day that may have some feeling sad and anxious. The media tells us we should be madly in love and strive towards having the “perfect” relationship like we see on TV commercials and in movies. Here's how you and your friends can make the day special.
(Hank Davis and Yana Hoffman, Psychology Today) Valentine's Day: He feels coerced. She feels neglected. Can they reach a resolution?
(Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Valentine's Day is too often portrayed as either a total drag or over the top expression of one's love. Much of the fun of childhood days of silly cards and chalky hearts seem to have faded. But it's not too late to get that back. Read on for 5 ways to take the pressure off this Valentine's Day and to celebrate the holiday for what it truly is—a day of love.
(Rita Watson, Psychology Today) In the world of gift giving, love and gratitude, people who are appreciative generally try to express their feelings with tokens of affection or the gift of time.
(UPI) Fear of being single is a meaningful predictor of settling for less in relationships among both men and women, researchers at the University of Toronto say.
(UPI) Oxytocin, the "bonding hormone" between mother and child, may also be the bonding hormone between husband and wife, researchers in Germany and China say.
Community: Fortunately, there are ways to increase oxytocin levels. However, see below.
(Alex Korb, Ph.D., Psychology Today) Your relationship with your parents growing up can often negatively impact your happiness in your romantic relationships. Understanding the neuroscience behind this can help you take control of the situation.
More . . .


Salmon Croquettes
By pairing this superfast recipe with a light salad, you can impress guests and have time to enjoy the meal.
Creamy Chicken Potpie
An irresistible crisp (but easy) phyllo crust tops these homey individual chicken potpies. Make a double batch and freeze extras to have on hand anytime. Serve with a butterhead lettuce salad with red onion and white-wine vinaigrette.
Cooking Light:
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Valentines Foods You Need to Know

(The Supermarket Guru) Here are five red fruits and vegetables that should grace your Valentine’s Day plate for their many health benefits and superb tastes. The red color in fruits and vegetables shouts phytonutrients, such as lycopene, ellagic acid, quercetin, and hesperidin, to name a few. These nutrients have been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth, lower LDL ("bad" cholesterol), scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support joint tissue.
Red fruits and vegetables also boast significant levels of two powerful antioxidants, vitamins A and C, which may aid in preventing heart disease, and are beneficial for various ailments.
Red bell pepper
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Healthy Valentine's Day Treats

(U.S. News & World Report) In addition to its rich, addictive flavor, there’s plenty of reason to love chocolate – specifically the dark stuff. Milk chocolate has some benefits too, but they’re watered down by the addition of milk and cream. White chocolate has none of the health benefits of its darker cousins, so enjoy it in wee amounts. As for dark chocolate, it’s rich in heart-protective flavanols, which have been shown to help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. Chocolate may also help keep your skin hydrated and your brain sharp.
Chocolate contains the bone-building minerals magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and phosphorus. And while chocolate does contain some saturated fat, it’s mainly stearic acid, and unlike most saturated fats, that type does not increase cholesterol levels.
Read more, including a recipe for Nutty Chocolate Bark.
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Dark Chocolate, Red Wine Will Keep Your Honey Heart-Healthy This Valentine's Day, Expert Says

(Science Daily) Forget the oysters and the champagne this Valentine's Day. If you want to keep your true love's heart beating strong, the real foods of love are dark chocolate and red wine, said Loyola University Health System preventive heart specialist Sara Sirna, MD.
"Red wine and dark chocolate taste great and have heart-healthy components," said Dr. Sirna, who also is a professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "We can help fight heart disease and aging and perhaps even boost our romance for the evening by choosing our foods wisely."
Red wine contains resveratrol, which has been found to lower blood sugar and LDL or "bad" cholesterol. It also is a source of catechins, which can help improve HDL or "good" cholesterol and polyphenols, which may prevent the formation of toxic plaque that leads to Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Sirna warns that you should drink in moderation by consuming no more than one 5-ounce glass for women and two 5-ounce glasses for men.
Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher is rich in flavonoids, which help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It also boosts the immune system and contains cancer-fighting enzymes.
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Olive Constituent Protects against Metabolic Syndrome

(Swanson Health Products) New research suggests that hydroxytyrosol, a compound found in olives, may protect against metabolic syndrome.
A number of studies have found that adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome, a grouping of risk factors (high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and central obesity) that greatly increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease or type II diabetes. The benefits of the diet have primarily been attributed to its low saturated fat and cholesterol content, high fiber and flavonoid content, and the oleic acid found in olive oil.
Now new animal research suggests that another olive constituent, hydroxytyrosol, may play a significant role in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet as well.
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The 'American Dream' May Be Bad For Your Health

(U.S. News and World Report) My heart warmed when I saw Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl ad last week and heard the first strands of "America the Beautiful" sung in Hindi. As an Indian immigrant, I felt pride seeing the faces and voices that reflect a modern, diverse United States. Instead of the usual anti-immigrant rhetoric and stereotyped images, I felt like all of us who are immigrants were finally being welcomed.
It didn’t take long, however, before my stomach turned. It was the sinking realization that the smart ad executives at Coca-Cola simply recognize that immigrants have money to spend and that many still want the American Dream.
Research has shown that people associate food with identity. That can be especially true of immigrants who are transitioning into a new culture and trying to integrate into American society. The real message behind the ad was not about embracing diversity, but rather, “Drinking Coca-Cola is American. Coke is part of the American Dream.”…
It is well known that the over-consumption of sodas and other sugary drinks is an important driver of the high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease in the U.S. Just last week, another study showed that too much sugar consumption leads to heart disease. Many studies show that for almost all immigrant groups, living in the U.S. for more years and being a second generation immigrant is associated with more obesity.
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California lawmaker wants warning labels on sugary drinks

(Reuters) Sodas and most other sugar-sweetened drinks sold in California would be required to carry warning labels for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay under a bill introduced in Sacramento on Thursday and backed by several public health advocacy groups.
The first proposal of its kind would put California, which banned sodas and junk food from public schools in 2005, back in the vanguard of a growing national movement to curb the consumption of high-caloric beverages that medical experts say are largely to blame for an epidemic of childhood obesity.
A growing body of research has identified sugary drinks as the biggest contributors to added, empty calories in the American diet, and as a major culprit in a range of costly health problems associated with being overweight.
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Food Poisoning: Are Older Adults At Greater Risk?

(LiveScience) The people at highest risk for suffering from food poisoning are seniors, pregnant women, young children, and those with chronic diseases.
When you age, your immune system may not respond as well to infectious organisms as it did when you were younger. During pregnancy, changes in metabolism and circulation can increase food poisoning risk. The immune systems of infants and young children are not fully developed. A chronic disease reduces your immune response.
Food poisoning is caused by eating food contaminated by organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. The onset of symptoms can occur hours after consumption of the tainted food. However, symptoms can take days and sometimes weeks to show up.
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Onions as Toxic Cleanup Sponges

(Discover Magazine) Onions and garlic can turn around a bland dish, but Indian biotechnologists have found another use for these roots: filtering heavy metals from toxic brews.
Scientists looking for new cleaning compounds mixed onion and garlic leftovers from canning factories with various industrial wastes.
The two Allium roots absorbed about 70 percent of toxins — including arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead — and they could be reused to clean again. 
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Can arthritis pain be managed with non-drug approaches? Find out here.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) If you have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis among older people, you may be aware of common treatments for joint pain. But did you know that there are other approaches that may work? Check out these non-drug approaches for managing arthritis pain.
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