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Tuesday
Aug302016

Working Too Much?

If you're putting in significant time at work - 55 hours or more per week - you may be bumping up your risk of stroke. New research from the UK suggests that stroke risk rises by 33 percent among people in Europe, the U.S. and Australia who work much more than the usual 35-40 hours per week. It also found that the risk of coronary heart disease was 13 percent higher among those whose workweeks exceeded 55 hours. The findings were based on data from about 600,000 workers after researchers controlled for other risks including smoking, physical activity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, study leader Mika Kivimaki, of University College London, said his team found "no differences between men and women, or between older people and younger ones, or those with higher or lower socioeconomic status." Although the findings were statistically significant, a 55 percent increased risk isn't as scary as it may seem. Here's why: if the normal risk of stroke is one person in 100, a 55 percent increase means that 1.55 people of 100 are at risk. With a 13 percent increase, if 1 person in 100 normally has a heart attack, the risk rises to 1.13 per 100.

Monday
Aug292016

Music For Surgery

Listening to music before, during and after surgery could help ease your recovery. An investigation from the UK shows that the positive effects of music on surgical patients include less pain and anxiety. Researchers from London's Brunel University reviewed data from 73 randomly controlled trials and found that compared to patients who didn't listen to music, those who did had 20 percent less post-surgical pain and a 10 percent reduction in anxiety. The music listening patients also used significantly less pain medication. The researchers reported that post-surgical pain was reduced most when music was played before surgery, a bit less when played during the operation and least when played afterward, but the differences were not judged clinically significant. And incidentally, if you're having plastic surgery, you might consider letting the surgeon choose the tunes. A study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that when plastic surgeons listen to music they prefer, their surgical technique and efficiency when closing incisions is improved.

My take? The findings on reduced pain and anxiety in surgical patients who listen to music don't surprise me at all. Music can have a powerful effect on mind and body. In fact, hospitals have long used music therapy to ease pain, boost patients' moods and counteract depression, as well as help them sleep and reduce muscle tension so that they can relax. Music therapy is also used to stimulate nursing home residents and improve the moods of psychiatric patients and help them to gain more control over their lives. Music can also lessen anxiety, reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and, reportedly, may offer benefits of both movement and speech in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Sunday
Aug282016

Do You Know Why Mint Is So Healthy? Find Out!

Curious about using mint in your recipes? Mint (Mentha) is a perennial herb indigenous to Europe, with over 25 different species across the globe. One of the most common varieties is peppermint (Mentha aquatic), which is more potent and typically associated with culinary and medicinal use. 

Menthol, the active ingredient in mint that gives it its characteristic flavor, is more concentrated in peppermint (Mentha piperata) than in spearmint (Menthe spicata), and is considered an aid in digestion and a stomach-calmer. Oil of peppermint has also been used to stop the growth of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, and to address asthma, sinusitis, allergy-related colds and other respiratory issues. Nutritionally, peppermint is a good source of vitamins A and C, along with manganese, and copper.

Opt for fresh mint as it provides more flavor and look for leaves that are brightly colored. Wrap the mint leaves in a damp paper towel that loosely holds the leaves and place them in a sealed plastic bag. They should keep for several days in the fridge.

Here are some great recipes that incorporate mint: 
Minted Guacamole & Pomegranate
Honey Ginger Lemonade

Thursday
Aug252016

Counting Bites For Weight Loss 

Can you lose weight without counting calories? Researchers at Brigham Young University think so. Participants in a month-long study lost about four pounds each simply by counting the number of bites they took per day. The investigators recruited 61 individuals and began the investigation by asking them to count the number of bites of food and gulps of drinks they took for a day. They then asked the participants to cut those totals by 20 to 30 percent, while recording every bite and gulp. The researchers maintain that to lose weight you have to first focus on the amount you eat, and then about the kind of food you're eating - in other words, think about quantity before quality. The study participants counted their bites and their liquid intake and emailed or texted their totals to the researchers at the end of each day. Along the way, 20 of the participants dropped out because they had a hard time keeping count, but the other 41 completed the study. Next the researchers want to see if those 41 individuals manage to keep their weight off - or better yet, continue counting.

Monday
Aug222016

Exercise in Dr. Weil's Life (video)

Throughout his life, Dr. Weil has practiced various types of exercises. From running and hiking to biking and swimming, see which ones he enjoyed in his youth and middle age - and which he chooses now.

Friday
Aug192016

Why You Should Add Fennel To Your Summer Herb List

Want to add a Mediterranean twist to your summer vegetables? Try fennel! This aromatic herb is part of the Umbellifereae family and native to areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and the Near East. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is related to parsley, carrots and dill, with a taste similar to that of anise or licorice. The bulb, stalks and green leaves are all edible, as are fennel seeds that come from the yellow flowers it produces.

Fennel offers a variety of nutrients - it:

  • Has a unique combination of phytonutrients including the flavonoidsquercetin and rutin
  • Is an excellent source of vitamin C, making it a good way to support a healthy immune system
  • Is a good source of fiber, folate and potassium.

Fennel has also been used to address backache, low libido, loss of appetite, and as a natural way to treat infantile colic. It is a well-known remedy for flatulence and other gastrointestinal issues as well. Topically, fennel has also been used to treat snakebites.

Since fennel can quickly lose flavor, it is best to eat it right after purchase. However, refrigeration in the vegetable crisper can preserve its taste for up to four days. You can extend the freshness of dried fennel seeds by storing them in an airtight container away from light and moisture for up to six months.

Try this light and delicious fennel recipe: 
Strawberry, Fennel, And Arugula Salad

Tuesday
Aug162016

Thumbs Down On Low-Fat Diets

Low-fat diets have been losing their luster for some time, and now an analysis from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School has shown that they don't lead to more weight loss than low-carb or more palatable Mediterranean diets. The researchers reviewed the results of 53 studies containing data on 68,128 adults and saw no difference between the average weight loss due to low-fat diets and higher fat diets. In fact, they concluded that reduced-fat diets led to weight loss only when compared to no diet at all, and resulted in less weight loss than low-carb plans (the review team pointed out that differences in weight change were only about 2.5 pounds). The low-fat diets included in the studies analyzed ranged from those that permitted only 10 percent or fewer calories from fat, to those allowing 30 percent or fewer fat calories. Because fat contains more than twice the calories per gram as carbohydrates and protein, the rationale for low fat diets has been that "reducing fat intake will naturally lead to weight loss," said research leader Deidre Tobias, noting that the evidence from the investigation "clearly suggests otherwise."

Saturday
Aug132016

Pesticides and Diabetes

Exposure to pesticides may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 64 percent, according to a new analysis of 21 studies by researchers in Greece and England. Another investigation reported that women who had elevated blood levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the first trimester of pregnancy were more than four times more likely than normal to develop gestational diabetes. While the researchers who conducted the analysis said that their results don’t prove that pesticides cause some cases of diabetes, they maintained that the findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that environmental contaminants play a key role in the development of the disease. After reviewing the studies, which included data on nearly 67,000 people, the researchers concluded that the increased risks seen were associated with the organic pollutants DDT, dieldrin, heptachlor, and HCB.  Most of the studies included in the review identified pesticide exposure via urine and blood analyses, methods that are considered very accurate. The authors of both analyses said that while diet, weight and exercise factors are also key to diabetes’ risk, the role of chemicals cannot be ignored. Animal and laboratory studies have shown that endocrine-disrupting chemicals can provoke precursors to diabetes and even diabetes itself. Results of both new analyses were presented at the September 2015 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.