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

Body Fat May Cause Clouding of Cognitive Abilities

(Fast Company) Obesity doesn't make you less intelligent, but it might cloud your cognitive abilities.
In a recent study, conducted by researchers at Georgia Regents University, the blood of obese mice had especially high levels of a chemical called interleukin 1, a substance born from fat cells that can cause inflammation…
The mouse brains also had high levels of inflammation and low levels of a biochemical important to synapse function (synapses ensure messages travel efficiently between neurons).
These findings led to predictable results in how the mouse brains worked: Other obese mice did poorly on mouse-sized cognitive tests, presumably because the interleukin 1 was clogging things up…
Upon removing fat from the obese mice in a mini-liposuction procedure, the critters scored highly on the same thinking and memory tests they struggled with previously, and the interleukin 1 virtually disappeared from their bloodstreams. When the researchers put fat pads inside thin mice, those previously svelte rodents started doing worse than they had previously on cognitive tests.
Here's the good news: Major surgery isn't necessary to improve cognitive function. Exercise can make a big difference. 
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What Really Makes You Fat

(Mark Hyman, MD) [W]hen you eat sugar and refined carbs, they reprogram your fat cells so those cells are hungry all the time. It’s the fat cells being hungry that makes you overeat. The fat cells are demanding to be fed. Then they suck up all the calories you eat, causing weight gain.
The conventional wisdom of why we gain weight — that we eat more calories than we burn — is simply dead wrong. It’s the toxic, bad calories — calories that quickly turn to sugar — that are causing our country’s obesity and chronic disease epidemic. For decades, there’s been a misinformation campaign orchestrated by Big Food, aided and abetted by the U.S. government. The message is all about energy balance, that there are no good or bad calories, that all calories are the same, that losing weight is all about eating less and exercising more. That advice has gotten us nowhere — except being trapped under the weight of our obesity and diabetes epidemic.
My new book, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, exposes the lies that keep us sick and fat, and provides a goof-proof, step-by-step 10-day plan to end food addiction, sugar and carb cravings and cure FLC Syndrome quickly, painlessly and deliciously. Who knew detoxing could be so fun and easy?
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Are You Suffering from Post-Traumatic Dieting Disorder?

(U.S. News & World Report) “The thing is, people don’t fail diets,” Freedhoff says. “Diets fail people.”
Freedhoff, founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa, Canada, which focuses on long-term weight management, noticed how failing to keep off the pounds often led his patients to develop depression, lower self-esteem and relationship issues. There had to be another path to weight loss. So Freedhoff devised his own diet plan called the 10-Day Reset, which he lays out in his book, “The Diet Fix,” released this week.
The plan includes keeping a food diary, exercise, lots of protein and – believe or not – as much chocolate as you want. While he says it will ensure long-term weight loss success, Freedhoff warns the approach requires careful planning. “Weight management is complicated, he says. “If there was a quick and easy fix for everybody, the world would be slim.”
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5 Instant Calorie-Saving Tips

(David Zinczenko, ABC News) Calorie counting is stressful, but it doesn't have to be. And that's what my book "Eat It to Beat It!" is all about: Banishing belly fat and taking back your health, while eating the foods you love. Combine the brand-name food recommendations in my book with these five instant calorie-saving tips, and put your diet on autopilot today!
Snack with your left hand...
A study printed in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that moviegoers grabbed for less popcorn when doing so with their non-dominant hand...
Use smaller plates...
[Study participants] who were given larger bowls, served and ate 16 percent more than those given smaller bowls. Not only that, the big-bowlers underestimated just how much they were eating by 7 percent!...
Unplug before you chow down
Resist the urge to eat or drink while you watch the tube or check your email…
Feel fuller—for free...
Research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society showed that people who drank two cups of water before a meal wound up eating 75 to 90 less calories than they would otherwise...
Eat before you eat
A series of studies at Penn State showed that eating an appetizer of a broth-based soup or even an apple can reduce total calorie intake over the course of the meal by up to 20 percent.
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More Weight Loss Tips

(Sharecare.com) Need to do something hard like lose weight, stick to your workout routine or even quit smoking? Get your friends to help. In this video, Dr. Mehmet Oz explains why the buddy system is one of the simplest and most effective ways break a bad habit.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) [In an Iowa State University study,] participants ate about 10 percent less, corresponding to 70 fewer calories, when they increased the number of chews per bite by 50 percent. When they doubled the number of chews per bite, they ate 15 percent less and took in 112 fewer calories. More research will be needed to determine if this is an effective and sustainable weight loss strategy.
(Appetite for Health) Even if you weren’t born with “skinny genes”, there are things you can do to increase your body’s ability to burn calories faster. Appetite for Health Co-Founder Julie Upton MS, RD, has written frequently about the #1 thing you can do to rev-up your metabolic rate: Exercise.  Working out builds muscle. Muscle speeds metabolism. As the body works more efficiently, it processes food faster. For specific exercise regimens that have been proven to help boost metabolism, check out Julie’s articles, Burn, Baby Burn: Intensity is Best for Boosting Metabolism and CrossFit: Get Fit Fast.
(James S. Fell, MBA) Most “secrets” for boosting your metabolism are related to your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or how many calories you burn at rest… While you can’t control RMR, what you do have control over is how many calories you burn via activity. The more you move and the more intensely you do it, the more calories you burn each day. As endurance builds, and you find love for certain types of activity, you can go harder and longer. Don’t only focus on the number of calories burned, focus on being good at something physical. Then do it a lot.
(Appetite for Health) If you’re trying to add protein to your diet to help you lose weight, the goal is to enjoy protein-rich foods in place of carby options, not in addition to what you’re currently eating. Eating more lean protein and fewer carbohydrates is one way to feel fuller while you’re following a calorie-reduced eating plan.
(Appetite for Health) Studies show that protein-rich breakfasts stimulate satiety hormones more than breakfasts with the same calories but higher in either fat or carbohydrates.  At the same time, protein-rich meals are more effective at keeping ghrelin (the hunger hormone) lower compared to carb- or fat-rich meals… While it’s unclear how much protein should be included in you’re a.m. meal for the best results, the general concensus is that is should be around 20-30 grams of protein and the carbobhydratess in the meal should be wholesome whole grain choices, not a lot of added sugars. Fat can be high, as long is it’s from primarily unsaturated sources.
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More Information and Recent Research on Obesity and Weight Loss

(Daily Mail) Mississippi has overtaken West Virginia to take the dubious honour of America's fattest state - with more than one in three residents clinically obese. The southern state had the highest obesity rate in the U.S. in 2013, at 35.4 per cent, while Montana has the lowest rate, at 19.6 per cent. The figures highlight the alarming rise of obesity in the U.S. Obesity has generally increased across the nation each year since 2008….
The findings also suggest chronic diseases are more prevalent in the most obese states. Those living in the 10 states with the highest levels of obesity are more likely to report having had a diagnosis of chronic disease at some point in their lives, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart attacks.
(Reuters Health) After American Indians built casinos on California tribal lands, their incomes rose and their children's obesity rates fell, according to a new study. The study's authors sought to highlight the merits of investing in communities to prevent disease. They found that an infusion of resources was linked to a reduction in poverty and youth health risks. "The casino is serving as a proxy," Dr. Neal Halfon told Reuters Health. "If we had some kind of big syringe, and we inject money into a community, it does change the odds. Here it lowered obesity."
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The heavier women are, the higher their risk of hearing loss compared to women of normal weight. This surprising finding stems from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II… The researchers reported that women who had a BMI indicating obesity had a 17 percent higher risk of hearing loss than women whose BMI was lower than 25, indicating normal weight. Women with a BMI of 40 or more had a 25 percent higher risk of hearing loss than normal weight women, the study showed.
As far as exercise is concerned, the most physically active women had a 17 percent lower risk of hearing loss than the least physically active women. The study found that walking two hours or more per week lowered the risk of hearing loss risk by 15 percent compared to walking less than an hour a week.
(MedPage Today) Among patients showing up in the emergency department with chest pain and dyspnea, those carrying extra weight tended to incur higher costs and have longer hospital stays, researchers found. Costs were 22% higher for patients who were overweight, 28% higher for those who were obese, and 41% higher for those who were morbidly obese compared with those who had a normal body mass index (BMI), according to Jeffrey Kline, MD, … and colleagues.
(NIH News in Health) Overweight and obese adults who drink diet beverages take in more calories from solid foods—especially snacks—than those who drink sugary beverages, according to a new study. The findings raise questions about using diet drinks for weight control in heavier adults.
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Red Snapper over Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes
A tangy mixture of Dijon mustard and Italian dressing seasons both broiled snapper and saut├ęd vegetables. Serve with boil-in-bag brown rice or crusty dinner rolls.
Quick Shepherd’s Pie
In this simple shepherd’s pie recipe, we call for flavorful lean ground lamb, which isn’t always easy to find. You can use lean ground beef or turkey instead. 
Mediterranean Foods Alliance
Root for Root Vegetables
In these last throes of winter, root vegetables make great ingredients for healthy, comforting meals. This week we offer a few tips for buying, storing, and cooking with a variety of root veggies.
Braised Mini Meatballs
If this is your first time making meatballs without bread crumbs, be prepared for a terrific surprise. Not only do these scrumptious minis hold together beautifully, they are just as delightful as those made with bread. To prevent the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands while forming the balls, simply dampen your hands first.
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U.S. consumers may soon whine over a dry California

(The Supermarket Guru) California is parched – and the entire United States should brace for higher food costs as a result.
It’s a safe bet we can toss out earlier USDA projections for moderate 2.5% to 3.5% food inflation in 2014.  The agency’s Economic Research Services unit didn’t figure the extreme drought – likely the worst ever in this key agricultural state – into this estimate.
The impact could be significant because California yields the vast majority of so many crops that help to fill and flavor lunchboxes, snack bags and dinner plates across the U.S…
[W]ith parched fields and farmers, and an estimated half-million acres of key crops unplanted due to lack of water, many food prices in supermarkets could soon rise – not only fruits and vegetables, but wine and dairy products too.
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LSD-Contaminated Steak Sickened Tampa Family: Police

(NBC 6 South Florida) Initial test results have revealed why a Tampa family mysteriously fell ill earlier this week: they ate steak contaminated with LSD.
The family bought the meat from a local Walmart, which has been very cooperative with investigators and has turned over all of the bottom round steak that was on their shelves at the time, Tampa Police said Friday in a news release.
It was not immediately clear how the steak that Ronnie Morales, 24, his girlfriend Jessica Rosado, 31, and her 7-year-old and 6-year-old daughters ate Monday night became contaminated with LSD. Test results provided Friday showed the presence of the hallucinogenic drug, police said.
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Moving on from Gluten Free (Video)

(The Supermarket Guru) We all know that Gluten Free products have become trendy over the last few years. For those diagnosed with celiac disease (less than 1% of the population) the need for gluten-free speaks for itself, but many of the gluten-free shoppers are following the trend for the wrong reasons. To the point where registered Dietitians and physicians have been warning non-celiacs that going gluten-free may have unexpected side effects, in particular not getting enough fiber in their diets.  So for retailers and CPG companies, who continue to stack the shelves with gluten-free products, the question remains, "What comes next?"
A recent Mintel study offers an answer to this question: the GI diet. The study found that around 86 percent of Americans have experienced some type of GI or digestive issue in the past year. Furthermore, consumers are reluctant to use remedies, 38 percent only use them when absolutely necessary…
Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel says; "American consumers appear to be taking a more proactive stance to their health and looking to prevent issues rather than treat them." She goes on to say that, "the prevalence of gastrointestinal issues suggests that the market of products to treat these issues is prime for growth.”
Read more or watch the video.
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Taking calcium, vitamin D supplements improves cholesterol in postmenopausal women

(New York Daily News) A new study has found postmenopausal women can improve their cholesterol with calcium and vitamin D supplements…
Women who participated in the trial took either a supplement containing 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo on a daily basis…
The women who took the supplement were more than twice as likely to have "normal" vitamin D levels, or at least 30 ng/mL. The "bad" cholesterol levels of supplement users were between 4 and 5 points lower, while researchers also found supplement users with higher blood levels of vitamin D had high levels of good cholesterol and lower levels of triglycerides.
How and if these positive results will translate into other health benefits for menopausal women, such as lower rates of cardiovascular disease, is unknown at this time. However, researchers still emphasize the study as a reminder that women are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency and should increase their intake of both supplements.
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Vitamin D may boost breast cancer survival odds

(CBS News) Vitamin D may help women with breast cancer survive the disease.
Researchers reported … that patients with high levels of Vitamin D in their blood were twice as likely to survive the disease than women with low levels of the nutrient.
The researchers think vitamin D should be included to supplement other breast cancer treatments.
"The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy," study co-author Dr. Heather Hofflich … said.
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Engineered 'Glue' Helps Wounds Heal Faster

(LiveScience) In the movies, superheroes' and vampires' wounds heal so quickly that life-threatening cuts and gashes close up in minutes. These super healing abilities may be out of reach, but researchers in Switzerland have now engineered a substance called a growth factor that makes cuts and broken bones heal more quickly, by remaining near the damaged tissue longer than it would naturally.
This engineered growth factor could benefit people with chronic wounds, including those with diabetes or compromised immune systems, according to the researchers.
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Nasal Filter Looks Promising for Allergy Sufferers

(Science Daily) A small filter the size of a contact lens could possibly make life easier for some of the estimated 500 million people worldwide who suffer from itching, sneezing and a runny nose as soon as the pollen season starts.
A clinical study from Aarhus University concludes that a newly developed Danish mini-filter -- Rhinix -- appears to be significantly more effective against the discomfort of seasonal hay fever than a filterless placebo…
The filter, which is not yet in production, works by being inserted in both nostrils. Depending on the filter's density, it blocks specific particles in the air -- including pollen from grass, which is one of the most frequent causes of hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis).
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Vietnam veterans sue US military for discharge upgrades over PTSD

(Reuters) Five Vietnam War veterans sued the U.S. military on Monday, saying they were denied some veterans services after receiving other-than-honorable discharges for actions that resulted from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The men, including one who was the victim of a poison gas attack on his first day in Vietnam and another whose duties included sorting through body parts of soldiers killed in combat, called on the military to upgrade the discharges of veterans of the conflict who suffer from PTSD…
"The military gave these service members other than honorable discharges based on poor conduct such as unauthorized absence without leave, shirking, using drugs, or lashing out at comrades or superior officers," the lawsuit said. "These behaviors, however, are typical of those who have recently experienced trauma and were symptoms of the veterans' underlying, undiagnosed PTSD."
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New Class of Antibiotics Discovered by Chemists

(Science Daily) A team of University of Notre Dame researchers … [has] discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug-resistant bacteria that threaten public health…
The new class, called oxadiazoles, was discovered in silico (by computer) screening and has shown promise in the treatment of MRSA in mouse models of infection. Researchers who screened 1.2 million compounds found that the oxadiazole inhibits a penicillin-binding protein, PBP2a, and the biosynthesis of the cell wall that enables MRSA to resist other drugs. The oxadiazoles are also effective when taken orally. This is an important feature as there is only one marketed antibiotic for MRSA that can be taken orally.
MRSA has become a global public-health problem since the 1960s because of its resistance to antibiotics. In the United States alone, 278,000 people are hospitalized and 19,000 die each year from infections caused by MRSA. Only three drugs currently are effective treatments, and resistance to each of those drugs already exists.
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FDA probes cognitive impact of new cholesterol drugs

(Reuters) The Food and Drug Administration has asked Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Sanofi SA to assess potential neurocognitive side effects of their experimental cholesterol drug, Sanofi said in its annual report on Friday.
Amgen Inc, which is developing a similar drug, said it has also been in communication with the agency.
The FDA said it could not discuss specific development programs, but is "aware of concerns raised with neurocognitive adverse events and other lipid-lowering therapies, including statins, and as part of our oversight of new drug development, we are carefully monitoring these events."
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Companies Test Plans To Cut Their Health Costs

(New York Times) At Walgreen, the giant drugstore chain, employees now have a much broader choice of insurers and plans. Once limited to two options, either from a local Blue Cross plan or UnitedHealthcare, workers can now choose among as many as 25 plans from five insurers, depending on where they live, including Kaiser Permanente, the well-known California-based H.M.O.
As health care costs continue their steady climb, employers are looking for ways to slow the pace. A survey of large employers released on Thursday showed that companies were shifting more costs onto their employees but were also experimenting with concepts like private exchanges that allow companies like Walgreen to offer their workers more choices in health care plans.
The average annual cost of coverage for both employers and workers increased to $12,535 in 2014, compared with $11,938 last year, according to the survey of 595 large companies by Towers Watson, a benefits consultant, and the National Business Group on Health, a Washington-based employer alliance. Employees are paying almost a quarter of the amount, now $2,975 a year, up nearly 7 percent from 2013.
Community: Just bear in mind that the average cost per person for health care in Canada is a little less than half our cost. How do they do it? Single payer.
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Purpose in Life Brings Longevity

(Sharecare.com) In a study of older adults, those who lived a goal-driven life were 57 percent less likely to die during the 5-year study period -- compared with those who didn't have much direction or purpose…
Having a purpose in life was so helpful in [the] that it even appeared to improve the longevity of people with depression, disabilities, chronic medical conditions, or financial difficulties…
Stay young, active, and driven with these additional live-longer habits:
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Everyday Habits That Age You

(Health.com) Are you aging faster than your years? If you don't like what you see in the mirror, it may be time to evaluate some of your daily routines. The foods you eat and even the way you sleep can add years to your face and may shorten your lifespan. Here, experts discuss the most common age-accelerating habits and ways to reverse the process.
You multitask
If your to-do list never seems to get any shorter, the stress from your hectic life may be taxing your body...
You rarely pass up dessert
Aside from adding excess pounds to your body, your sweet tooth may also be adding years to your face...
You get by on fewer than five hours sleep a night
Skimping on sleep not only results in dark bags under the eyes—it has also been linked to a shorter lifespan, says [Raymond Casciari, MD]...
You spend most of the day sitting
People who spend most of their days parked in a chair are at increased risk for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, not to mention obesity...
You cut out all fat from your diet
Some fat is necessary for maintaining a youthful feeling and appearance, says Franci Cohen, a certified nutritionist and exercise physiologist.
Community: Another ager: “Older Adults Who Binge Drink Don't Live as Long.”
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Secrets for Aging Well

(Maureen Callahan, MS, RD, Cooking Light) Genes play a role in how long you live, but not as big a role as you might think.
Lazy habits (sitting too much) and making bad food choices (lots of fatty meat and sugary treats) can increase the extent of damage that occurs when it comes to aging. What renders your genetic blueprint less harmful? Just the opposite: Specific foods and certain activities can turn back the clock on aging…
When you add up all the evidence, the key factors to a longer lifespan include a commonsense approach to eating and activity. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose lean proteins like fish, particularly fatty fish. And ease up on sugar and processed foods. For activity, pursue a mix of resistance exercise and aerobic pursuits like walking around the block.
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New longevity startup will make "100 the new 60"

(io9) Biotechnologist Craig Venter — the first scientist to map the human genome and create synthetic life — now wants to dramatically extend the human lifespan. His new company, Human Longevity Inc., will use both genomics and stem cell therapies to help people stay healthy and vibrant for as long as possible.
This news comes seven months after Google's announcement that it had founded a similar company, Calico — a startup that will focus on health, well-being, and extending the human lifespan. The corporate race to prolong life, it would seem, is starting to heat up. And rightly so; there's a ton of money to be made — and saved — through preventative medicines.
Community: See the articles above, “Purpose in Life Brings Longevity,” “Everyday Habits That Age You,” and “Secrets forAging Well”, to keep from having to pay Craig Venter’s new company exorbitant amounts of money to live a long and healthy life.
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More Information and Recent Research on Aging and Longevity

(Fox News) The world’s oldest person has revealed the secret behind her long and healthy life, but if you think it’s all down to diet and lots of exercise then think again. As it turns out Misao Okawa, who turns 116 years old on Wednesday, reckons it’s down to two simple things: sushi and sleep. The Japanese woman, whose life has spanned across three centuries, eats three meals a day and ensures she always gets eight hours rest a night. Mrs. Okawa, who has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, also credits oily fish such as mackerel for her longevity and only went into a care home 18 years ago at the age of 98.
(Los Angeles Daily News) We know of many ways to slow the aging process. Here are just two: Physical activity… Staying socially connected… An example of a group that embraces both of these “longevity” activities is the Dolphin walkers… Here was the drill: Warm-up exercises, a 30-minute walk on the bike path toward the Redondo Beach Pier and 30 minutes back, followed by cool-down exercises… What was apparent is the extraordinary sense of community — individuals who care for and about one another, while enjoying a beautiful walk at the beach. 
(Washington Post) [T]he UCLA Longevity Center [helps] patients and caregivers live with diseases that fray their bond of shared memories. In addition to giving those with memory loss techniques to improve recall, the program helps the caregivers better understand the disease and provides them with a place to connect with others facing similar challenges.
(Washington Post) Aging-in-place design choices are gaining a higher profile as baby boomers become a larger and larger segment of the population. According to AARP, the majority of older Americans want to stay in their homes permanently and live independently. This demographic change translates into demand for residential designs that anticipate changes in health, vision or mobility, and ensures that homes stay safe, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
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Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy
Briefly cooking the gravy with thyme sprigs saves the time of stripping the tiny leaves from the stem, but still gives you the herb's woodsy flavor in this steak recipe. Serve over pasta, as instructed.
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:
Pork and Poblano Chili
This green-style chili, made with lean boneless pork, is a great recipe to make when you're having a houseful of guests, since it serves 16. With three kinds of peppers and a generous amount of cumin, this one-pot meal has a nice kick to it. You can prep it in just 20 minutes and let it simmer away on the stove while you get ready for your company. Serve the chili with a large tossed green salad and some sliced scallions and shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese to sprinkle on top.
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Cloudy with a Chance of Meatheads

(David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Yale Prevention Research Center) I would like to say I’m surprised that a study published this week … examining effects of varying protein intake in people and mice generated headlines around the world. I would like to be surprised that a study designed to corroborate what we already knew was treated as if it had somehow rocked the planet. But honestly, I’m not at all surprised. We seem to like nothing better than treating each new diet study, however limited, flawed, or incremental as a rewrite of dietary scripture…
The study in question did two things. First, it looked at varying protein intake as reported in a single 24-hour dietary recall by just under 6400 adults age 50 and older who participated in a national survey called NHANES III. It then compared health outcomes over a span of up to 18 years to variation in protein intake, accounting for some other behavioral factors such as smoking, and in particular, taking age into account. The second thing the investigators did was study variable protein intake levels in mice, with attention to effects on growth hormone and related factors.
The reported findings were that higher intake of animal protein was generally associated with higher risk of chronic disease and premature death. But, of course, there was really no way to separate higher intake of animal protein from the animal foods that delivered them, and also no way to unbundle the effect of a higher percentage of calories from animal foods from the effect of a lower percentage of calories from plant foods. So far, the new study basically reaffirms the notion that eating mostly plants is associated with reduced risk of chronic disease and premature death- a well established, and even clearly articulated notion…
So, as noted: hard to account for the massive media uptake. Except for this: some of the most popular dietary dogma du jour inveighs against eating certain plant foods, and encourages liberalized intake of meat. This was a terrific opportunity to rock us all back the other way- and that predictably meant headlines, and hyperbole.
Such contrived volatility in the world of nutrition may seem like good spectator sport, but it is not a friend to public health.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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8 Signs You Need to Be Getting More Vitamin D

(ABC News) The benefits of vitamin D, backed up by tons of research, ring loud and clear: strong bones, improved mood, even more efficient weight loss. But signs that you're low on the nutrient are a bit quieter.
If you notice one or more of these issues, head to your physician to get your blood tested. (But don't reach for supplements quite yet—you'll want to make sure it's a vitamin D deficiency you're dealing with first since excessive intake of the nutrient can be linked to its own health concerns.)
Muscle Weakness…
Greater Pain Sensitivity…
Stress Fractures…
High Blood Pressure…
Extreme Crankiness
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5 Things Your Poop Says About Your Health

(LiveScience) While most people probably don't want to put much thought into pooping, it's an essential body function that can tell them if something is wrong. A change in bowel movements could be due merely to a change in diet, but it could also mean the body is fighting an infection or dealing with a serious condition.
Here are five hints that your poop could be giving you about your health.
While various shades of brown are considered normal, some colors like black or yellow are not...
Stools that are narrow and pencil-thin are thought by some experts to be a symptom of colon cancer…
"If there is a change in your stool that persists or is unusual, you should see your doctor."…
If ignored, constipation could lead to complications such as hemorrhoids or rectal bleeding. The best way to relieve symptoms is to follow a well-balanced high-fiber diet, drink plenty of water, try to exercise regularly and go to the bathroom when you feel the urge.
Diarrhea that lasts for at least four weeks may be a sign of a chronic disease, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn's disease.
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Health Gadgetry

(Upstart) Bright light can be as effective in treating depression as anti-depressant medication Prozac — and far less risky, according to researchers from Harvard University. But it's been difficult to measure how much light a person gets at any point in time, until now. Scientists from Harvard are taking a wearable technology originally designed as a medical device for measuring light intake and marketing it to consumers through crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The product, called SunSprite and made by Cambridge startup GoodLux Technology (which is not affiliated with the University) raised about $28,000 of its $50,000 fundraising goal as of Thursday, with 37 days left in the campaign.
(The Star) The Wello protective iPhone case can measure heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and blood pressure as you hold it in your hands. And, if that's not sufficiently impressive, you can even check lung function by blowing into an attachment. But perhaps the neatest trick is that all of this health monitoring functionality is packed into a case that doesn't add any further weight or bulk to a smartphone.
(Kaiser Health News) Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego, knows when his patients’ hearts are racing or their blood pressure is on the rise, even if they’re sitting at home. With high-risk patients hooked up to “personal data trackers” — a portable electrocardiogram built into a smartphone case, for instance — he and his researchers can track the ups and downs of patients’ conditions as they go about their lives. “It’s the real deal of what’s going on in their world from a medical standpoint,” says Topol, whose work is part of a clinical trial. “The integration of that with the classical medical record is vital.”
(Brier Dudley, Seattle Times) Not everyone wants to have a little computer on the wrist or head keeping track of what a wearer does around the clock. But I wonder if they won’t have much choice in the future, under new insurance laws that invite companies to scrutinize and monitor their employees’ health and fitness. In the past, medical information was generally none of your employer’s business. It’s still technically private. But the health-care overhaul known as Obamacare is chipping away at this wall.
The Affordable Care Act now lets employers charge employees different health-insurance rates, based on whether they exercise, eat healthful foods and other “wellness” choices they make outside of work. A 2013 survey by Aon Hewitt consulting found that motivating employees to change health behaviors is a “significant focus” over the next three to five years at 69 percent of employers.
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Good Trip? LSD May Have Therapeutic Value

(LiveScience) Lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD or acid, has a checkered past — or, perhaps, a roiling and vibrantly colored past.
Since the drug was synthesized by chemist Albert Hoffman in 1938, acid has been used by an unlikely range of people, from counterculture guru Timothy Leary to undercover CIA spies conducting experiments on unsuspecting patrons of bars and restaurants.
Though U.S. research on LSD was banned in 1966, researchers in Europe are now reassessing its potential benefits. Doctors in Switzerland recently completed an LSD experiment examining the drug's effect on patients with anxiety. "In short, everything was groovy," the Los Angeles Times reported.
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Older adults may struggle with excess possessions

(Reuters Health) A lifetime's worth of acquisitions and mementos may bring comfort to older adults, but this "material convoy" can also become more burdensome with age, U.S. researchers say.
Based on a national survey, a new study finds that after age 50, people become less and less likely to sell or donate items they no longer need - possibly because doing so becomes more and more difficult, physically or emotionally.
"Having too many things is an obstacle to (older adults) being able to move to or live somewhere" smaller that better suits them, said lead author David Ekerdt, who is director of the gerontology center at Kansas University in Lawrence.
The problem has spawned a new industry of "senior move managers," but little has been known about why older people tend to hang on to things that no longer fit their lifestyles.
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IG Report Findings Could Strengthen Nursing Home Inspections

(Kaiser Health News) Federal efforts to strengthen inspections of the nation's nursing homes are gaining momentum after a government probe uncovered instances of substandard care. 
The March 3 report by the HHS Inspector General found that an estimated one-third of residents suffered harm because of substandard care and that the chances of nursing home inspectors discovering these "adverse events" are "slim to none," said Ruth Ann Dorrill, a deputy regional director for the inspector general and the manager of the investigation.
Nearly 60 percent of these incidents were preventable -- including injuries due to falls or medication errors -- and more than half of residents were hospitalized as a result, costing Medicare an estimated $2.8 billion in 2011, according to investigators. In 6 percent of the cases, poor care contributed to residents' deaths.
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Pitfalls Seen In A Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care

(New York Times) For years, efforts to curb fast-rising Medicaid costs centered on welfare mothers and children, even though Medicaid spends more than five times as much on an aged or severely disabled person in long-term care as it does on a poor child.
Long-term care cases traditionally were considered too vulnerable and politically sensitive to be assigned to a managed care company. But between recession-starved budgets and the looming costs of an aging population, many states have decided the old system is unsustainable…
Managed care promises more predictable, controlled spending. From a fixed sum per enrollee, plans pay networks of providers to deliver care, which could be as cheap as a recorded medication reminder, or as costly as a nursing home stay.
Like the rationale behind health maintenance organizations, the idea is that plans will benefit financially by keeping costs lower and people healthier, and that the expense of customers who need more care will be counterbalanced by those who need less.
But now, as the formula is applied to a more fragile population, some states have already run into problems that marred the early history of H.M.O.s.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Washington Wire, Wall Street Journal) For many individuals and families, the penalty for not having health-insurance coverage will run a lot higher than the $95 figure often cited — and it could run into the five figures in some cases. That’s according to the Tax Policy Center, which has just rolled out a tax penalty calculator — the ACA Tax Penalty Calculator. The calculator helps people figure out how large their tax penalty will be if they fail to obtain required health-insurance coverage.
(Wall Street Journal) The number of previously uninsured consumers buying coverage under the health law has risen sharply in recent weeks, according to new research, a nascent signal of progress in the law's goal of reducing the ranks of the uninsured. The overall share of uninsured people gaining coverage remains low, but the trend suggests more people could get coverage as the enrollment period approaches its final weeks. Most people must pick health plans by the end of March.
(Kaiser Health News) The president warned of exchange logjams if too many wait until the last few days of March to enroll.
(Kaiser Health News) Now that medical insurers must accept all applicants no matter how sick, what will these new customers cost health plans? How will they affect coverage prices for 2015 and beyond? Few questions about the Affordable Care Act are more important. How it all plays out will affect consumer pocketbooks, insurance company profits and perhaps the political fortunes of those backing the health law.
(Kaiser Health News) Kaiser Health News consumer columnist Michelle Andrews answers this readers question.
(Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times) if you're concerned about Medicaid's shortcomings and how they hamper its goal of bringing healthcare to low-income people, the solution is to improve the program. Gutting it is the opposite approach.
Community: Yes, but the approach today’s right wingers take to every government program they don’t like (most of them, that is) is to destroy them. Sort of like destroying a village to save it.
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