If you’re dealing with the aches and pains of “wear and tear” osteoarthritis, your best move may be to get on the scale. A literature review in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that carrying too much weight may trigger the biomechanical and inflammatory changes that lead to osteoarthritis, along with all the pain and loss of mobility this condition brings. What’s more, the authors conclude that approximately half of all cases of arthritis of the knee could be avoided if those affected were able to lose weight. This would cut the number of total knee replacements performed annually by more than 111,000 per year. The review also noted that obesity itself is a risk factor for pain, especially in tendons and other soft tissue structures and that white adipose tissue (fat) in obese individuals can actually promote inflammation. Losing weight could diminish pain, restore joint function, and improve quality of life among those with osteoarthritis, the review concluded.
Buying organic doesn't guarantee your food is free of chemicals arising from production, packaging or contaminated soil and water. Dr. Victoria Maizes, Executive Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and author of Be Fruitful, points to how we can bring truly clean food to market. This video is from Dr. Maizes' talk at TEDxTucsonSalon April 25, 2013 at the University of Arizona.
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Regular exercise is good for your heart, your waistline and your sleep. A new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that people who reported exercising vigorously were almost twice as likely to say they slept well nightly, or almost every night. They were also the least likely to complain of problems falling asleep or waking too early and not being able to nod off again. In comparison, half of poll participants who said they don’t exercise reported waking during the night, and nearly one quarter had trouble falling asleep again. Worse, poll participants who didn’t exercise experienced more symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing periodically during sleep and is associated with an increased the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A recent Q&A discussed the number calories in food according to nutrition labels: Are Calorie Counts Accurate? Check out the article and tell us how often you check calories in the food you eat!
Women whose diets are rich in iron may have a lower risk of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) than those who consume less of the essential element. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard looked at the mineral intake of 3,000 women participating in the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II. To document the intake of iron, zinc, and potassium, the investigators reviewed data gathered from the food frequency questionnaires filled out by the women over the course of 10 years. They found that women whose diets contained the most non-heme iron (the type you get from plant foods) had a 30 to 40 percent lower risk of PMS than those who consumed the least non-heme iron. The researchers also reported that a high intake of zinc was associated with a lower risk of PMS, while high levels of potassium were linked to a higher risk. The investigators suggested that women at risk of PMS make sure they are meeting the RDA for non-heme iron and zinc, but they also warned that high iron intake is associated with adverse health effects. The researchers said that their findings must be replicated by other studies.
Integrative medicine focuses on optimizing the body's natural healing capacity. It aims to enhance healing in body, mind and spirit by using an intelligent combination of conventional and alternative therapies for which there is strong evidence of safety and effectiveness.
Watch as Dr. Weil discusses the evidence for integrative vs. strictly conventional medicine, and explains why integrative medicine offers the best hope for more effective, less costly health care.
Smiling is good for you. It can help tame stress by slowing your heart rate, even when your smile is (literally) forced. A study from the University of Kansas showed that getting people who had been engaged in stressful tasks to smile led to quicker recovery times. The research team asked study participants to hold a pair of chopsticks in their mouths to mechanically create facial expressions that were either “happy” or “neutral.” The stress-busting effect was most pronounced with full smiles, the ones that involve the eyes and cheeks as well as the mouth, but these positive changes also occurred to a lesser degree among participants whose chopstick-holding produced polite smiles. In this study, the participants didn’t actually know that the chopsticks changed their facial expressions, but that didn’t influence the effect their smiles had on their recovery from stress. Study co-author Sarah Pressman, Ph.D., explained that we smile because we feel we’re not being threatened. She suggested that the muscle activity involved in smiling signals the brain that all’s well, which could be the reason heart rate slows and stress levels plummet. The study was published in the November 2012, issue of Psychological Science.
Here’s an eye-opening look at how times have changed for women in the past 50 years: they now spend about half the time on housework as they did in 1965 (and have doubled the amount of time they sit in front of the TV - from eight hours per week to more than 16. As a result, women who don’t work outside the home burned about 360 fewer calories per day in 2010 than they did in 1965, while women who work outside the home burn about 132 fewer calories daily.