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A Note on Raspberries

These gems are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and provide folate, vitamins B2 and B3, magnesium and other essential nutrients. Raspberries also have considerable antioxidant potential (50% more than strawberries), and appear to have potent anti-cancer properties. Because commercial strains may be heavily sprayed with pesticides, I recommend buying organic varieties of raspberries.

An easy and delicious way to incorporate raspberries into your diet: Almond Fruit Tart.


Healthier Diet May Lower Asthma Risk

If you want to protect kids against asthma, you might try feeding them fewer burgers and more fruit and fish. That's the latest word from a team of European researchers who looked at data collected worldwide on 50,000 children between 8 and 12 years old. The investigators found that the link between asthma and burgers was strongest in countries where fast-food diets are most common. Interestingly, the study didn’t identify an association between asthma and eating meat, a finding that led the researchers to suggest that contributing lifestyle and environmental factors may be linked to fast-food burgers. As for the fruits, the researchers said that the antioxidants they contain - particularly those high in vitamin C - could support respiratory health and have been linked to better lung function and fewer asthma symptoms. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have anti-inflammatory effects that could be protective. Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease. About 10 million kids in the U.S. have been diagnosed with it. The study was published in the June, 2010, issue of Thorax, a British Medical Journal.

Read more about treating kids with asthma.


Multi-Grain Scones

These scones are the perfect answer to the morning rush. Unlike a lot of low-fat foods, which can be so loaded with sugar that you feel hungry soon after eating them, these are quite filling - you can eat just half of one and still satisfy the need for morning sustenance. Plus, you'll get in a nice amount of bran for the day, an appropriate source of roughage.

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Mind/Body Treatment for IBS

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo report that even patients with severe symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were able to get better (and stayed better) if they were motivated and believed they could control their symptoms by changing their behavior. Nearly one-third of the 71 patients participating in a 10-week cognitive behavioral study indicated they felt significant relief after only four weeks, regardless of the amount of time they spent with the therapists treating them. Some had four one-hour sessions with a therapist over the 10 weeks; others had 10 one-hour sessions over the 10 weeks; those in a third "control" group attended no sessions. Conventional wisdom holds that benefit from behavioral treatment is tied to the amount of treatment a patient receives, said lead researcher Jeffrey Lackner, Psy.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at the UB School of Medicine. But that didn’t hold true in this study - some patients improved rapidly regardless of how many sessions they had. In addition, the investigators reported that 92.5 percent of these "rapid responders" maintained their improvement for well over three months with little evidence of deterioration. The study was published in the May issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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Hampering Head Lice

Head lice are a common nuisance of childhood. Kids can quickly pick them up by sharing hats, scarves, hair ribbons and other clothes; sharing combs, brushes or towels; or lying on a bed, couch, pillow or even cuddling a stuffed animal that belongs to a child who has lice.

To help prevent lice: Discourage this kind of sharing, particularly if you know there's a local infestation.

 To treat head lice: Try a natural solution of one-percent permethrin cream rinse, sold as Nix and Neem, which is derived from a tree in India. While lice can develop resistance to permethrin products and they can aggravate asthma in some children, both are relatively safe. Lice B Gone, a non-toxic, multi-enzyme shampoo made from plant sources that seems to get rid of lice in a single application, is another option. It works by softening the glue that holds the nits (lice eggs) to the hair shaft and also dissolves the exoskeletons of adult lice. Since it contains no pesticides, Lice B Gone is considered safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children and people with asthma.

Read more about head lice and how to treat them.


Getting Quality Rest

Bright lights, loud noises, uncomfortable temperatures … these and other factors can lead to disrupted sleep. The following tips can help you to help create an environment that is calming, relaxing and soothing - one that encourages quality rest and sleep.

  • Check your bed. Is it comfortable? Lie down on it during the day, when you are not tired, and see how it feels. A bed that is too soft, too firm or that sags in the middle can impede your sleep. You can fix a too-firm bed with top padding, but a bed that is too soft or sagging should be replaced. It may seem expensive, but considering that you spend about 1/3 of your life on your bed - not to mention how quality of sleep affects your waking hours - a comfortable bed is worth the price.

  • And Your Pillows. Like your bed, too soft or too firm pillows can affect your quality of sleep (as can the number of pillows you use). Experiment with different pillow types until you find ones that work best for you. If you suffer from allergies, consider hypoallergenic pillow.
  • Look at Your Surroundings. Dr. Weil encourages a clutter-free home, which can help create a calm environment. Clean out anything you do not need in your bedroom, such as televisions, computers, stacks of papers, and knick-knacks, making the room’s sole purposes sleep and intimacy.
  • Light and Sound. Excessive light and noise can impede quality sleep. To help block bright light, consider opaque window shades. If you have skylights, position your bed so your face is not directly in sunlight in the morning. For loud noises, consider inexpensive earplugs to block out sound or a "white noise" machine.
  • Ideal Temperatures. Regulate the temperature in your bedroom so it is not too hot or too cold. Many people find that an ideal temperature is around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but this depends on many factors including sleepwear preference, how many blankets you use, and your metabolism. Experiment to find the right temperature. If you and your partner disagree, compromise on a temperature midway between your respective comfort zones.
  • Set the Scene. What promotes relaxation for you? Soft, lulling music, complete darkness, candlelight, a good book before bed… all can encourage relaxation and rest. Determine what helps promote a relaxed state and incorporate those elements into your nighttime routine and bedroom.

Information courtesy of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging.


A Note on Carrots

Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds, carrots are among the richest vegetable sources of beta-carotene, important for healthy vision. They are also powerhouses of nutrition, with more vitamin A precursors than almost any other vegetable, plus significant amounts of dietary fiber.

Try Pickled Carrots for a tasty, healthy snack alternative!


Vitamin E to Prevent COPD

New research suggests that long-term use of vitamin E can cut the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among women smokers, and may even provide similar benefits for those who don't smoke. The data comes from the Women's Health Study, a very large investigation that ended in 2004 and included nearly 40,000 women. Some of the women (all were 45 years of age or older) were randomized to take either 600 mg of vitamin E daily or a placebo every other day while the study lasted. Earlier research had linked vitamin E with a lower risk of COPD, but hadn't been designed to determine whether increasing intake of "E" actually prevents COPD. The investigators, from Cornell University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, found that taking vitamin E daily reduced the risk of COPD by about 10 percent in both smokers and non-smokers. Future research will explore exactly how vitamin E affects lung tissue and function and will look at whether it also reduces the risk of COPD in men. The findings were presented at the May 2010 conference of the American Thoracic Society.

Learn more about vitamin E.