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Where Do You Prefer to Workout? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the difference between exercising indoors and outdoors: Exercise: Indoor or Out? Check out the article and tell us where and how you prefer to exercise!


Eat Peppers, Prevent Parkinson’s?

Peppers contain edible nicotine that may help protect against Parkinson’s disease.Strange as it may seem, peppers (and to a lesser degree tomatoes) contain edible nicotine (far less than you would get from a cigarette) that may help protect against Parkinson’s disease. Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle evaluated the diets of 490 Parkinson’s patients and 644 adults who had no neurological disorders. All of the participants completed questionnaires about their lifetime diets and smoking history. Results showed that the more peppers and tomatoes eaten, the lower the risk of Parkinson’s, particularly in adults who reported little or no tobacco use. Findings from earlier studies have shown that cigarette smoking and other uses of tobacco help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. Still to be explored: the question of whether the nicotine in peppers and tobacco really provide a protective effect or if individuals who develop Parkinson’s are simply less inclined to use tobacco because of brain changes that occur early in the disease process, long before diagnosis. Peppers, tomatoes and tobacco are all members of a flowering plant family called Solanaceae (also informally known as the nightshade family). The study was published online on May 9, 2013 in the Annals of Neurology.

Susan Searles Nielsen et al “Nicotine from Edible Solanaceae and Risk of Parkinson Disease,” Annals of Neurology, May 9, 2013 (DOI:10.1002/ana.23884).


Green Vistas of a Canadian Summer (Photos)

Some scenes near my summer home in British Columbia.


Surprising Way to Cut Health Insurance Costs

What would you do to reduce your health insurance premiums? How about walking at least 5,000 steps a day? That worked for a group of 6,548 adults who chose stepping up to the challenge rather than seeing their health insurance costs shoot up by 20 percent. Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and Stanford University reported that only three percent of the participants in this study failed to meet the goal of 5,000 steps a day or 450,000 steps per quarter to hold down their insurance costs. The financial incentive program came from the Blue Care Network, which required policyholders who were obese and were enrolled in the Healthy Blue Living Program to participate in a fitness plan to defer an increase in their premiums. One of the programs involves use of a digital pedometer and uploads daily steps walked to a tracking web site. The researchers reported that one-third of the participants characterized the financial incentives as coercive, but all the rest liked the program.

Donna M. Zulman et al, “Implementation and evaluation of an incentivized Internet-mediated walking program for obese adults,” Translational Behavioral Medicine May 2013, DOI10.1007/s13142-013-0211-6


Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

Researchers have confirmed that exercise influences the way women’s bodies break down (metabolize) estrogen.We’ve long known that regular exercise - specifically aerobic exercise - reduces the risk of breast cancer, but until now, we haven’t known how physical activity confers its benefits. A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul may have solved the mystery.

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What’s Your Take on Bikram Yoga? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed Bikram yoga, the act of practicing yoga poses in a high-temperature room: Bikram Yoga: Too Hot to Handle? Check out the article and tell us what you think about Bikram yoga!


Could Eating Grapes Save Your Life?

Research suggests that grapes can help reduce the symptoms of heart failure associated with chronic high blood pressureMaybe so. New research suggests that grapes can help reduce the symptoms of heart failure associated with chronic high blood pressure, at least in rats. Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System found that the grapes benefited the animals' cardiac physiology by influencing the activities of genes and metabolic pathways that boost levels of glutathione, the most abundant cellular antioxidant in the heart. The Michigan researchers fed rats that were hypertensive and prone to heart failure a grape-enriched diet. After 18 weeks, they found that the grape consumption reduced the occurrence of heart muscle enlargement and fibrosis, decreased the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue, and improved the heart’s diastolic function. Heart failure stemming from chronic hypertension can result in an enlarged heart muscle that becomes thick and rigid (fibrosis), and unable to fill with blood properly (diastolic dysfunction) or pump blood effectively, the researchers explained. Grapes are a good source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, which the investigators credited with their beneficial effects on the heart. The study was published online on March 25, 2013 by The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

E. Mitchell Seymour et al, “Diet-relevant phytochemical intake affects the cardiac AhR and nrf2 transcriptome and reduces heart failure in hypertensive rats,” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry,


A Day in the Life (Photos)

Everyday scenes and activities in British Columbia.