Tag Archives: health

Eating Seasonably Chart

8 May

Advertisements

I Love Both :D

20 Apr

Love your coffee and tea, and they will love you back. There are a ton more benefits of coffee and tea, but these cover some good ones. 

The Importance of Health and Kick-Ass Mothers

16 Mar

A pretty powerful photo:

I don’t weigh 120 pounds. Honestly, I don’t know if I would ever want to. I do have an “ideal weight” goal, but it’s higher than 120 pounds. Both sides of my family produce rather curvaceous women, and I started developing secondary sex features (*cough* boobs *cough*) in the 5th grade. I’ve never been the petite or slender type, and I am perfectly okay with that. I don’t mind my current weight, nor do I care about the stretch marks on my tummy.
What I care about is my health. My cholesterol and glucose values are far more important to me than my dress size.

Health was a huge deal in my childhood. My mom was adopted and her biological family’s medical history remains unknown, so the best she and I can do is lead a healthy lifestyle. She taught me to decipher nutrition labels as soon as I could read. She showed me a bunch of little tricks, like how to compare not only calories, but serving size, carbohydrates, fat, sugar, etc.

She also taught me that:

  • Mayonnaise is Satan in culinary clothing.
  • Salads should be a part of Every. Single. Dinner.
  • There is no such thing as too many vegetables.
  • Bacon is delicious meat-candy which will make your heart absolutely hate you. And can also be microwaved. She would always microwave bacon in a 2 inch layer of paper towels to absorb the grease. It wasn’t until I was 13 did I realize that bacon could also be fried in a pan. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realized that’s how most people actually cook bacon. 

However, she did forget to teach me that bacon is very useful when it comes to making meat-themed Nativity scenes, but hey, nobody’s perfect. She was probably too busy being an awesome mom.

She preached against dangerous fad diets, explaining that true weight loss is a lifestyle choice, and there is no easy way. Weight that is easily lost is easily regained. She never complained about her own weight struggles in front of me, instead pursued them with steady perseverance and patience. She never once made a negative comment about my weight, try to guilt-trip me into dieting, or do anything else that would have crippled my self esteem. The goal wasn’t to be thin or to hate your body; The goal was health, because your body deserves to be loved.
I cannot thank her enough for that.

Parents play the biggest role in their child’s health, and too often don’t fully realize it. The Mayo Clinic has a wonderful online resource with simple and effective steps for families to battle childhood obesity in a way the promotes healthy lifestyle choices and doesn’t damage self esteem. I highly recommend checking it out, it’s a quick read. Best of all, while the article is written for parents, their simple suggestions can be applied to all ages:

  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Don’t bring junk food into the house
  • Control your portion sizes
  • Save treats and high-calorie snacks for special occasions
  • Turn off the TV and computer
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Stress the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, rather than a number on the scaleFor other great resources, be sure to check out The University of Michigan Health System, the Help Cure Childhood Obesity website, or simply Google childhood obesity. Another great resource for families on a budget (and poor college students like me) is this super awesome Hamilton Health Science Eating Guide. Money should not be an issue when it comes to eating healthy, and may even save you money.Teaching your child good nutritional habits doesn’t end when they turn 18. Even though I’ve grown up and live in another city, she still gives me handy tips on eating healthy. Just recently she introduced my to a variation of peanut butter on celery sticks. She substitutes peanut butter with a Laughing Cow Lite spreadable cheese wedge. One wedge will fill 3 sticks, at only 35 calories. Genius.

    It smiles because it knows it can kill you.

Black Tea = Happy Heart

14 Mar

Black Tea Is Shown To Lower Blood Pressure


Western Australian tea drinkers are helping build evidence that black tea may aid in maintaining cardiovascular health — with local researchers showing three cups of black tea daily lowers blood pressure by 2 to 3mmHg.

Lead author Jonathon Hodgson from the University of Western Australia’s School of Medicine and Pharmacology says many studies have looked at black and green tea in relation to heart and vascular disease outcomes.

“Meta-analyses of these studies indicate that drinking more tea, compared to drinking less or no tea, is associated with about a 10 to 20 per cent lower risk of heart disease and stroke,” Prof Hodgson says.

Seeking to investigate if this association was causal, the team from UWA and researchers from Unilever, conducted the first human intervention study to look at black tea and blood pressure outcomes.

“There have been a number of human intervention studies looking at effects on vascular function, with reasonably consistent findings that tea can increase the relaxation of blood vessels — an outcome linked with blood pressure and risk of heart disease,” he says. “This was the first large study specifically designed and powered to look at blood pressure as the primary outcome.”

Ninety-five Australian participants aged between 35 and 75 were required to drink three cups of black tea or three cups of a placebo, with the same flavour and caffeine content as the tea, daily for six months. Using 24-hour blood pressure measurement taken at the end of the trial, the group found a reduction in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the tea-drinkers of between 2 and 3mmHg.


According to Prof Hodgson, while a reduction of 2 or 3mmHg is not large, it is still a valuable effect when combined with other interventions.

“If you put the effect of tea together with other dietary and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or reduced salt and alcohol intake, you might get up to a 10mmHg reduction in blood pressure without drug therapy,” he says.

The group believe high flavonoid levels in black tea cause an increase in nitric oxide, a compound that acts on cells in blood vessel walls to cause relaxation, blood vessel dilation and, ultimately, a reduction in blood pressure. According to Prof Hodgson, the findings also show promise for those who prefer to not drink tea.

“You can get the same benefits if you eat enough of other flavonoid-rich foods such as apples, plums and red grapes — no tea required.”

****************************************************************************************************
Quite a bit of research has been done over the years demonstrating the benefits of tea. So if the mood strikes you today, here is a handy dandy tea brewing chart. Drink tea and enjoy a happy heart ^_^

Delicious Heart Health

13 Mar

Health is delicious! NPR interviewed researcher Sheila West, whose Penn State studies have shown that well-spiced food can significantly lower triglycerides. In some cases, triglycerides were decreased by one third. Insulin levels were also lowered by 20%. UCLA cardiologist Dave Ravi says that lowering one’s triglycerides helps lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease Cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, paprika, rosemary, ginger, oregano, and garlic were all used in the studies.

This has motivated me to invest in a cute spice rack.
And what better spice rack for a science nerd than one made of beakers?


Science has never been so delicious.

End Of Life Decisions

9 Mar

The following was written by Kristian Foden-Vencil and presented by NPR’s health blog Shots. Click the headline if you wish to read the original article, as well as listen to an audio version of the story. I consider this to be one of the most important issues in American health care today, especially with our aging population.

Oregon Emphasizes Choices At The End Of Life

It turns out Americans facing death want something they also want in life: choice.

two-page form created in Oregon is providing insight into how people want to be cared for at the end of their lives. And the so-called POLST form — short for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment — offers far more detailed options than a simple “do not resuscitate” directive does.

Terri Schmidt, an emergency room doctor at Oregon Health and Science University, remembers the day an elderly man with congestive heart failure came into the hospital from a nursing home. The man didn’t have a form, so, by law, Schmidt had to provide all the medical care possible.

“I intubated the man. I did very aggressive things. It didn’t feel right at the time,” says Schmidt. “There was just this sense in my mind that this is a 92-year-old very elderly person with bad heart failure. And about 15 minutes later, when I was able to get a hold of the family, they said, ‘You did what? We talked about this! He didn’t want it. We had a big conversation in his room about a week ago.’ ”

That’s a situation Helen Hobbs, 93, is looking to prevent. She has filled out a form, and her doctor signed it, so it’s legally enforceable.

She likes having different options. “I did want antibiotics in case of infection,” says Hobbs, who lives in an assisted living facility in Lake Oswego. “I don’t want CPR if I’m in cardiac arrest. I don’t want to be tied down with tubes. You know, there’s no point in prolonging it.”

Administrators at her senior residence advised Hobbs to keep her POLST form in a plastic tube in her freezer, so EMTs will know where to find it. Other nursing homes tell residents to keep their forms under the sink or on the fridge. It’s not exactly a perfect system.

Oregon started using the POLST form widely in the mid-1990s. All told, 14 states have adopted it, and 20 more are considering it.

Since 2009, the forms in Oregon have been entered into a statewide database. Doctors there can go online to see whether a patient has one.

And the database is beginning to reveal some interesting information about people’s choices, according to Dr. Susan Tolle of the Oregon Center for Ethics in Health Care. “We have really learned that this is not a black and white process,” Tolle says. “Less than 10 percent of people wanted to refuse all treatment. A majority want some things and not other things.”

Tolle avoids the topic of whether these detailed end-of-life instructions save money. She’s wary of starting another debate about death panels. But the database has allowed the state to quantify the policy by some measures.

“What we found was that if people marked ‘comfort measures only’ and ‘do not resuscitate’ and did not want to go back to the hospital, there was a 67 percent reduction in life-sustaining treatments, primarily hospitalization and emergency room visits,” says Tolle.

Christian Brugger is a professor of moral theology at the Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver. He wants to make sure the elderly do not feel like they have to have one of these forms.

“I’ve heard often that elderly patients can feel pressured by the medical community or by their family not to be a burden,” says Brugger. “I think those kinds of pressures are very hard to calculate. And we want to be very careful that we don’t put those kinds of pressures on the elderly.”

Brugger says giving someone a durable power of attorney is a better solution to this delicate issue.

This story by Kristian Foden-Vencil is part of a reporting partnership that includes Oregon Public Broadcasting, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Genetic Coffee

7 Mar

I love it when science validates my coffee addiction ^_^

Exercise and Caffeine Change Your DNA in the Same Way, Study Suggests

via Science Daily, March 6th, 2012

You might think that the DNA you inherited is one thing that you absolutely can’t do anything about, but in one sense you’d be wrong. Researchers reporting in the March issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, have found that when healthy but inactive men and women exercise for a matter of minutes, it produces a rather immediate change to their DNA. Perhaps even more tantalizing, the study suggests that the caffeine in your morning coffee might also influence muscle in essentially the same way.

The underlying genetic code in human muscle isn’t changed with exercise, but the DNA molecules within those muscles are chemically and structurally altered in very important ways. Those modifications to the DNA at precise locations appear to be early events in the genetic reprogramming of muscle for strength and, ultimately, in the structural and metabolic benefits of exercise.

“Our muscles are really plastic,” says Juleen Zierath of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. “We often say “You are what you eat.” Well, muscle adapts to what you do. If you don’t use it, you lose it, and this is one of the mechanisms that allows that to happen.”

The DNA changes in question are known as epigenetic modifications and involve the gain or loss of chemical marks on DNA over and above the familiar sequence of As, Gs, Ts, and Cs. The new study shows that the DNA within skeletal muscle taken from people after a burst of exercise bears fewer chemical marks (specifically methyl groups) than it did before exercise. Those changes take place in stretches of DNA that are involved in turning “on” genes important for muscles’ adaptation to exercise.

When the researchers made muscles contract in lab dishes, they saw a similar loss of DNA methyl groups. Exposure of isolated muscle to caffeine had the same effect.

Zierath explained that caffeine does mimic the muscle contraction that comes with exercise in other ways, too. She doesn’t necessarily recommend anyone drink a cup of joe in place of exercise. It’s nevertheless tempting to think that athletes who enjoy a coffee with their workout might just be on to something.

Broadly speaking, the findings offer more evidence that our genomes are much more dynamic than they are often given credit for. Epigenetic modifications that turn genes on and back off again can be incredibly flexible events. They allow the DNA in our cells to adjust as the environment shifts.

“Exercise is medicine,” Zierath says, and it seems the means to alter our genomes for better health may be only a jog away. And for those who can’t exercise, the new findings might point the way to medicines (caffeinated ones, perhaps?) with similar benefits.

*************************************

Further evidence on why coffee is amazing. Exercise is ok too. Just not as awesome as coffee. A related article can be found at Nature, which is also pretty awesome ^_^