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Try To Avoid Non Organic Fruits & Vegetables

The ”Dirty Dozen” Fruits and Vegetables Containing the Most Pesticides

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has produced a new wallet-size Shoppers’ Guide listing the 12 fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated with pesticides (the “Dirty Dozen”), as well as those that generally contain the lowest amount of pesticides (the “Cleanest 12″).

The information is based on nearly 43,000 tests conducted by the USDA and FDA.

The last EWG Guide was issued in 2003, and there have been several revisions to the list. Carrots have been removed from the most contaminated list, but lettuce has been added.

Likewise, cauliflower is no longer listed as one of the cleanest vegetables, but cabbage is now one of those “clean” 12.

An analysis by the EWG estimated that consumers could reduce their exposure to pesticides by almost 90 percent merely by avoiding foods on their “Dirty Dozen” list. A few members of that list include:

Sweet bell peppers
Conversely, the “Cleanest 12,” according to the EWG, only expose you to less than two pesticides per day, a huge difference from the 15 pesticides per day you’d be exposed to with the fruits and vegetables on the “Dirty Dozen” list. Among the cleanest fruits and vegetables you can buy at your grocery store:


To stay away from pesticides that do great harm to your health, you are to download the EWG’s complete listings of the best and worst whole foods at their Web site : Remember that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides to be carcinogenic.

Pesticides can have many negative influences on health, including neurotoxicity, disruption of the endocrine system, carcinogenicity and immune system suppression. Pesticide exposure may also affect male reproductive function and has been linked to miscarriages in women.

That’s just part of the reason why you should always be on the lookout for organically grown fruits and vegetables. Where traditional farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil to grow their crops, organic farmers feed and build soil with natural fertilizer.

Traditional farmers use insecticides to get rid of insects and disease, while organic farmers use natural methods such as insect predators and barriers for this purpose. Traditional farmers control weed growth by applying synthetic herbicides, but organic farmers use crop rotation, tillage, hand weeding, cover crops and mulches to control weeds.

The result is that organically grown food is not tainted with chemical residues, which can be harmful to humans.

The major problem most people have with organic food is the expense.

However, if you plan wisely, eating organically is actually quite affordable. A diet based on whole organic foods does not have to be cost-prohibitive for the average family or single consumer.

However, if the choice is between fresh conventional vegetables and wilted organic ones, It is recommend you choose the conventional vegetables; old and wilted vegetables lose many of the vital micronutrients that make them so healthy.

If you do buy conventional vegetables, It is certainly recommend that you go with the ones on the “Cleanest 12″ list.

Help Taken From:Dr.Mercola’s web page


Abstinence is the best course for those who can’t control their drinking. Although not a cure, various supplements may help heavy drinkers overcome their craving for alcohol, support them during the taxing withdrawal process, and set them on the road to recovery.

Constantly seeking opportunities to drink; being unable to cut intake; putting alcohol before family, friends, and work.
Needing more and more alcohol to achieve the same effect.
Reacting indignantly to criticism of drinking; adamantly denying the problem.
Experiencing withdrawal signs (tremors, seizures, and hallucinations) if drinking is stopped.

When to Call Your Doctor
If you drink before breakfast.
If binges last 48 hours or more.
If you have blackouts or falls.
If you routinely turn to alcohol to relieve stress or pain.
If your drinking is ruining your personal relationships.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor

What It Is
An intense physical and psychological dependence on alcohol is the hallmark of alcoholism — which many consider a chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension. Though alcohol appears to protect the heart when taken in moderation, excessive drinking over time can damage the liver, pancreas, intestine, brain, and other organs. It can also cause malnutrition when empty alcohol calories replace a nourishing diet.

What Causes It
Drinking has a social component: It makes most people feel talkative and relaxed. Precisely why some people pursue alcohol to excess remains a mystery; psychosocial factors play a role, but there seems to be a strong genetic component as well. Indeed, children of alcoholics are at high risk for the disease, even when raised in nondrinking households.

How Supplements Can Help
The recommended supplements, all of which can be taken together, can play several important roles in weaning problem drinkers from alcohol and helping them through the initial recovery period, which may last for weeks or even months. In addition to supplements, prescription drugs are usually needed to help weather withdrawal symptoms.
Most heavy drinkers are deficient in important nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, and amino acids (protein), because they do not consume a healthy diet and because alcohol has toxic effects; it may be beneficial to continue therapy for several months, or longer, to help restore depleted nutrients. Vitamin C can help to strengthen the body during this difficult period, clearing alcohol from the tissues and reducing mild withdrawal symptoms; it is most useful when taken with vitamin E. The B-complex vitamins, the amino acid glutamine, and extracts from the kudzu vine appear to reduce the craving. Researchers at the University of North Carolina noted that in monkeys (considered good stand-ins for humans), kudzu cut alcohol intake by about 25%. Harvard scientists found that in a strain of golden Syrian hamsters that preferred alcohol to water (and could drink the equivalent of a case of wine a day), kudzu cut consumption in half.

Be sure to take extra thiamin to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

The herb milk thistle, the amino acid NAC (N-acetylcysteine), and phosphatidylcholine (500 mg three times a day) strengthen the liver, helping it rid the body of toxins. Studies confirm the protective effects of the herb milk thistle. When people with cirrhosis (liver scarring), a dangerous late-stage complication of alcoholism, took milk thistle, 58% were alive after four years, compared with only 39% who did not use the herb.

The mineral chromium should be taken to prevent fatigue caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), a common problem in alcoholics. Evening primrose oil provides the fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic acid); this substance stimulates production of a brain chemical called prostaglandin E, which works to prevent withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and depression. It also assists in protecting the liver and nervous system. The herb kava and the amino acid GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) are both natural sedatives that can aid sleep.

What Else You Can Do
Join a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Try acupuncture. It may reduce the craving for alcohol.

Supplement Recommendations
Vitamin C/Vitamin E
Vitamin B Complex
Amino Acids
Milk Thistle
Evening Primrose Oil

Vitamin C/Vitamin E
Dosage: 1,000 mg vitamin C 3 times a day; 400 IU vitamin E daily.
Comments: Vitamin C helps boost the effects of vitamin E.

Vitamin B Complex
Dosage: 1 pill, plus extra 100 mg thiamin, each morning with food.
Comments: Look for a B-50 complex with 50 mcg vitamin B12 and biotin; 400 mcg folic acid; and 50 mg all other B vitamins.

Amino Acids

Dosage: Mixed amino acid complex (see label for dosage amount), plus L-glutamine (500 mg twice a day), NAC (500 mg twice a day), and GABA (750 mg twice a day).
Comments: For best absorption, take on an empty stomach.

Dosage: 150 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 0.95% daidzen.

Milk Thistle
Dosage: 250 mg 3 times a day between meals.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 70% silymarin.

Dosage: 200 mcg twice a day.
Comments: Take with food or a full glass of water.

Evening Primrose Oil
Dosage: 1,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Can substitute 1,000 mg borage oil once a day.

Dosage: 250 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 30% kavalactones.

Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs (Reader’s Digest)

Vitamins and Mineral Aids

Because many nutrients are crucial to the body’s natural ability to cope, a daily multivitamin and mineral is especially important during times of stress. Take vitamin B complex as well; the extra B vitamins it supplies promote the health of the nervous and immune systems and can counteract fatigue. Calcium and magnesium are worthwhile too, because they can relieve muscle tension and strengthen the heart.

Supplement Recommendations:

Vitamin B Complex vitamin B6
vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid, folic acid: Dosage: 1 pill twice a day with food.

Warnings: High doses of some B vitamins can be toxic and/or cause nerve damage. Vitamin B6 may prevent the drug levodopa from working properly and folic acid and vitamin B6 have been show to interfere with some anticonvulsants.

Calcium, Magnesium:Dosage: 250 mg of each twice a day.

Take with food; sometimes sold in a single supplement.

Warnings: People who have thyroid or kidney disease should check with their doctor before taking calcium or magnesium. Calcium and magnesium may decrease the absorption of some antibiotics such as doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline. Calcium may intensify the potassium-depleting effects of diuretics such as chlorothiazide, hydrocholorothiazide, and indapamide. Avoid calcium supplements made from dolomite, oyster shells, or bonemeal because these compounds may contain unacceptable levels of lead.

From: The Healing Power Of Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs

Hearing Loss Is Common, but Often Untreated

Americans who suffer from hearing loss. They include a third of Americans over 60 and up to half of those over 75, most of whom have age-related hearing loss, a condition known medically as presbycusis. Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition among older Americans, after hypertension and arthritis. Hearing difficulties in older people can have serious consequences, including social isolation, functional decline and depression. Hearing loss can also impair memory and cognitive function, according to a study by neuroscientists at Brandeis University.

A survey of 2,000 hearing-impaired adults conducted in 1999 by the National Council on Aging found that those using aids had better feelings about themselves, greater independence, improved mental health and better relationships with their families. Yet only one person in five with hearing loss wears a hearing aid — partly because of their cost, which is not covered by Medicare and rarely by private insurance.

Acknowledging the Problem
Some people do not know — or they deny — that they have a hearing problem, complaining instead that everyone seems to mumble or talk too fast. Even those who get a yearly physical rarely have their hearing checked. Others are embarrassed to wear a hearing aid. About 30 percent of people who have hearing aids don’t wear them daily.

Hearing aids have improved vastly in the past decade, in both design and selection. Even so, some people, having once had a bad experience, refuse to explore the many new options.

As with the eye and vision, there are many steps between the ear and hearing, a process that takes but a tiny fraction of a second. Sound entering the ear canal causes the eardrum to vibrate. These vibrations are picked up by three tiny bones in the middle ear that connect the drum to the cochlea, a snail-shell-like structure with three tubes filled with fluid. The resulting waves in the fluid signal hair cells in the cochlea that transmit electrical signals to the auditory nerve that connects to the brain stem. These signals then travel to the brain’s auditory center, where the message is processed.

Disruption or damage at any stage in this chain can result in hearing loss. Among factors that can damage hearing are trauma, chronic infection, wax buildup, fusion of ear bones, diseases like diabetes and medications like the antibiotics vancomycin and gentamicin. Some anticancer drugs are also toxic to the ear. Heredity, too, plays a role; some people carry gene mutations that make them more susceptible to hearing loss.

The most common environmental factor is loud noise, either a sudden very loud noise like an explosion or gunshot next to the ear or, more commonly, repeated exposure to loud noises like those produced by rock bands or earbuds and headphones. Some rockers and countless rock fans have developed hearing problems.

Hearing loss associated with aging most often results from cumulative damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, which, like other body parts, suffer the wear and tear of age. The first to decline are those in the outer part of the cochlea that are sensitive to high-frequency sounds, including those produced by the consonants f, sh, ch, p, s and t, which are crucial to clarity in perceiving speech. The low-frequency vowel sounds are the last to go.

Finding a Solution
Detection of a hearing problem is the first step. Hearing specialists have long urged family physicians to check the hearing of patients over 60 at every annual visit by doing a whisper test in each ear or administering a short written quiz.

Anyone with a suspected hearing problem should be referred to an audiologist for detailed testing, or to an otolaryngologist if the cause is medical. Anyone experiencing sudden loss of hearing in one or both ears should consult an otolaryngologist without delay. That could be a reversible problem if treated quickly.

Audiologists are certified clinicians trained to analyze a hearing problem, prescribe hearing aids and help people adjust to their use. In areas where there is no audiologist, look for a licensed hearing aid specialist who is trained to fit and dispense hearing aids.

Choosing a Hearing Aid

Four styles of aids are now available, ranging in price from about $400 to $3,000:

¶A behind-the-ear model fits over the ear and directs sound into the ear canal through a tube and custom-fitted ear mold. This model offers the most circuit and feature options and is easiest to handle for people with limited dexterity.

¶An in-the-ear model fits into the outer ear and projects slightly into the ear canal. It is relatively easy to handle and also supports many features.

¶An in-the-canal model protrudes only slightly into the outer ear but can accommodate fewer features and is more difficult to handle.

¶A completely-in-the-canal model, the smallest and most difficult to handle, is not noticeable in the outer ear but has the fewest features.

Audiologists can help patients select the most appropriate model based on their hearing and living needs and dexterity. When circumstances change, audiologists can also reprogram hearing aids. New designs help patients distinguish speech in noisy environments; some adjust automatically while others require the user to make adjustments. For people with severe hearing loss who need a lot of amplification, new devices have been designed to suppress the high-pitched whistle that can be produced by a hearing aid turned to high volume amplification.

Most important for anyone getting a hearing aid is to take the time needed to adjust to its use. No hearing aid can replace normal hearing, but when properly fitted and adjusted, an aid can greatly improve quality of life.

For more information on hearing aids and preventing hearing loss: “Save Your Hearing Now” by Michael D. Seidman and Marie Moneysmith.

Source:The New York Times

Bad Breath

This bothersome complaint affects literally millions of Americans and has fueled a billion-dollar-a-year industry. Strict oral hygiene and natural remedies can provide relief. And if bad breath persists, careful dental or medical detective work often uncovers a correctable underlying cause.

Regularly experiencing a disagreeable taste is a sign that the breath leaving your mouth probably has an unpleasant odor.
Many people with bad breath don’t taste or smell it themselves, so look for possible clues from others: They step back when you speak, for instance. If you suspect a problem, ask someone you trust for an honest opinion.
Bleeding gums signal gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that can sometimes cause bad breath.

When to Call Your Doctor
If bad breath does not improve despite self-care measures — your dentist or doctor can check for an underlying medical cause, such as gum disease or a chronic sinus infection.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.

What It Is
Whether it’s called bad breath or halitosis, nobody wants an unpleasant odor emanating from his mouth. In the simplest cases, this problem can be traced back to smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating foods notorious for their lingering odors, including garlic, onions, and anchovies. But sometimes, the condition can become chronic, caused by an underlying medical condition.

What Causes It
Bad breath usually results from the multiplication of odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. The drier your mouth, the more bacteria thrive. Any condition that reduces saliva production can contribute to bad breath — including Avancing age, breathing through the mouth, crash diets (the less food you chew, the less your salivary flow), certain medications, even the time of day (“morning breath” occurs because salivation is considerably reduced during sleep). Bacteria may also collect on the tongue, in food debris that accumulates on dentures, and on the teeth — especially when plaque or cavities are present. If bad breath persists, underlying gum disease or a chronic sinus infection is often the cause.

How Supplements Can Help
Natural strategies for bad breath work best in combination with regular and thorough oral hygiene, including flossing and brushing the teeth, as well as brushing the tongue (especially the back part), where odor-causing bacteria are likely to flourish.
Place just a drop or two of peppermint oil on the tongue a couple of times a day — larger amounts of the pure oil may cause digestive upset. Beyond its pleasant taste and aroma, peppermint oil is effective in killing bacteria. Drinking peppermint or spearmint teas, as well as plenty of plain water, may also help to fight bad breath by keeping the mouth moist.

Another approach is to chew on several fennel seeds, anise seeds, or cloves to freshen the breath; they can be conveniently carried in a small, sealed container. Fresh parsley has a similar effect; it’s also high in chlorophyll (the chemical that gives plants their green color), which has long been recognized as a powerful breath freshener. Chlorophyll is also found in commercially available “green” drinks containing spirulina, wheat grass, chlorella, or other herbs. These chlorophyll-rich liquids are best swished around the mouth, then swallowed. Alternatively, try spirulina tablets, which should be chewed thoroughly.

What Else You Can Do
Brush your teeth after each meal and floss at least once a day. When you can’t brush, rinse your mouth out with some water.
Use a moist toothbrush, a tongue scraper (available at some pharmacies and health-food stores), or a metal spoon held upside down to scrape off any coating on the back of the tongue and cleanse that area.
Avoid strong-smelling foods and alcohol; don’t smoke.
If a chronic sinus infection or postnasal drip is contributing to bad breath, consider using a sinus irrigator-a device found in most health — food stores that delivers a saltwater solution into the nostrils –to clean sinuses regularly.
Licorice-flavored anise seeds can easily be made into a breath-freshening mouthwash or beverage. Boil several teaspoons of seeds in one cup of water for a few minutes, then strain and cool.
Ensure that your toothbrush remains bacteria-free by storing it in grapefruit seed extract or hydrogen peroxide; rinse it well before brushing. An electric toothbrush sanitizer may also be effective.
Some practitioners believe that poor digestion may contribute to some cases of bad breath. They advise adding extra fluid and fiber (such as psyllium) to the diet to avoid constipation. Colon-cleansing herbal formulas, available at health-food stores, may

Supplement Recommendations


Dosage: 1 or 2 drops essential oil of peppermint, placed on tongue.
Comments: Drinking peppermint tea may also be helpful.


Dosage: Chew a pinch of fennel seeds after meals or as needed.
Comments: Chew thoroughly for best effect. Anise seeds or cloves can also be used.

Dosage: Chew on a fresh parsley sprig after meals or as needed.
Comments: Some natural breath fresheners contain parsley oil as a key ingredient.

Dosage: Rinse the mouth with a commercial chlorophyll-rich “green” drink (follow package instructions).
Comments: Alternatively, tablets can be chewed.
Source:Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs (Reader’s Digest)

Keep Joints Limber and Arthritis at Bay

Achieve greater mobility with these quick tips and Say Goodbye to Pain:

If you’ve ever crawled out of bed in the morning aching as if you’d played a mean game of rugby in your sleep, heard your knees creaking as you descended the stairs, required three ibuprofen before you could bend over to tie your shoes, and/or received an embroidered sampler with the words “My Back Hurts” for your birthday, then this article is for you.

Making some simple changes in your diet and daily activities — even the way you sit — coupled with taking a few key supplements a day can save a lot of wear and tear on your joints and ligaments as well as reduce your pain. Here’s a starting lineup of tips that help you where you hurt.

1. Sip a cup of green tea in the morning. Polyphenols called catechins in green tea prevent arthritis in mice and significantly reduce cartilage damage in humans.

2. When you sit, keep both feet on the ground. Crossing your legs cuts off your blood circulation and pulls your back out of alignment.

3. Switch over to spicy foods when your arthritis flares. Spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger, and turmeric contain compounds that reduce swelling and block a brain chemical that transmits pain signals. So head to the bookstore for some Mexican, Indian, and Thai cookbooks, or keep a bottle of hot sauce on your table at all times.

4. Empty out (or better yet, have someone else empty them for you) any cabinet or shelf below waist level. You’d be surprised how much unnecessary bending people do to get at those low places, says Howard Pecker, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Rahway, New Jersey. He gives this advice to all his patients with arthritis. They tell him it makes their lives much less painful. Just fill the empty cabinets with less-used items, like the turkey roaster that only comes out at Thanksgiving.

5. Use a wrist rest to keep your wrists straight, not to rest your wrists on. Resting your wrists on the pad when typing can compress soft tissues — such as tendons, nerves, and blood vessels — in your forearms, reducing blood flow to your wrists and fingers, says Peter W. Johnson, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental health at the University of Washington in Seattle. This, in turn, can increase pressure in the carpal tunnel located inside your wrists and ultimately lead to nerve damage. Instead, use the pad only for support during typing breaks. Even then, most experts recommend resting the palms of your hands, rather than your wrists, on the pad to reduce the risk of injury, he says.

6. Keep a small rubber ball on your desk and in your car. Every time you get up to go to the bathroom (at work) or hit a red light (in the car) squeeze the ball 20 times on each hand. This helps strengthen your hands and improve flexibility.

7. Wash your dishes by hand and give the dishwasher the night off. The combination of warm, running water and light exercise, requiring complex movement of the wrist and hand, is an effective and low-cost way of rehabilitating the hand and wrist after injury or surgery, says B. Sonny Bal, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia. It will also keep your wrists and hands flexible with good blood circulation if you have arthritis or other painful problems.

8. Prevent tennis elbow by icing your arm after play. The easiest way, says Scott Herron, M.D., who directs the sports medicine department at the Advanced Orthopaedic Surgery Center in Temecula, California, is to put water in a Styrofoam cup before you start playing, freeze it, then peel back the top of the cup to expose the ice. Now you can hold the ice against your arm without freezing your hand off. If, however, the tennis elbow arrives despite the ice, try this exercise: Bend your arm at 90 degrees, keeping your elbow at your side, palm facing up. Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds, then slowly lower your arm. Do this 10 times.

9. Enhance the range of motion in your wrist with this exercise. Slowly bend your wrist backward and forward, holding for a 5-second count in each position, suggests Dr. Herron. Do three sets — 10 times for each hand — twice a day.

10. Always bend from the knees, not the back, when lifting. Also, keep the weight you’re carrying close to your body, as if you were carrying a baby. This puts less strain on your back.

11. On long drives, pull over every hour, get out of the car, and walk around for five minutes, stretching like a cat. Your back will thank you later.

12. For back relief, get on your hands and knees (on a padded surface) and round your back like a scared cat. Hold for five seconds, then let your stomach relax and sag for five seconds. Do two sets of 10 each anytime you’ve been sitting for more than an hour.

13. Crunch your way through 20 modified sit-ups every morning. These strengthen the abdominal muscles while stretching and relaxing the back, says Dr. Herron. To do a modified sit-up, bend your knees or place your feet on a small stool or chair as you complete the crunch.

14. Serve up some pickled herring for breakfast or lunch. This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, shown to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain from arthritis and other joint diseases.

15. Play a video game, read the latest Dan Brown book, or watch a Lord of the Rings movie when your joints are hurting. Researchers find that concentrating on what you’re doing, whether leisure activities or work, distracts you from your pain.

16. Wear tight-fitting gloves at night. They help reduce swelling and fluid accumulation in the night so your hands don’t ache when you wake up.

17. Take these super supplements:

Ginger extract twice a day. Researchers from the University of Miami found ginger significantly reduced knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, as well as improved how the knee worked. Turns out ginger has some anti-inflammatory effects, just like ibuprofen.

Fish-oil capsules. A British study found that 86 percent of people with arthritis who took cod liver oil had far fewer enzymes that cause cartilage damage compared to those who got a placebo. Plus, they had far fewer pain-causing enzymes. Cod liver oil is a fish oil, so your basic fish-oil supplement will do fine.

Vitamin E containing pure alpha-tocopherols. A German study found taking 1,500 IU of vitamin E every day reduced pain and morning stiffness and improved grip strength in people with rheumatoid arthritis as well as prescription medication.

Glucosamine/chondroitin. Orthopedic surgeons agree that this supplement can provide long-term pain relief and slow the degeneration of cartilage. It has also been found that glucosamine and condroitin can actually repair demaged cartilage. After about a month you should be getting enough pain relief from the glucosamine to stop taking ibuprofen.

18. Quit smoking. Smoking reduces your circulation and that, according to a study in the medical journal Spine, increases your risk for back pain and slows healing.

From:Stealth Health

8 Ways to Burn Calories Without Noticing

Add a little more activity into your daily routine.

1. Take the escalator — but climb the stairs while you ride. You’ll get there faster and use your muscles while you’re at it. Just 5 minutes of stair climbing burns 144 calories.

2. Instead of piling items on the stairs so you can take them upstairs at once, take them one at a time.

3. When cooling your heels while waiting in a doctor’s office, drugstore, or airport, stay on your feet — standing burns 36 more calories per hour than sitting.

4. Rake leaves instead of using a leaf blower: You’ll burn 50 more calories every half hour.

5. Scrub your floors more often. Putting some elbow grease into cleaning floors is more intense than vacuuming — and it makes your floors look better to boot.

6. Chew sugarless gum. Research has found that the action of jaw muscles alone burns about 11 calories an hour.

7. Wash your car by hand instead of taking it through the automatic carwash. You’ll burn an extra 280 calories in an hour.

8. Play with kids: Impromptu games of basketball, touch football, or tag — or just jumping rope or throwing a ball — will help you use energy and set a good example of active play for the children. Calories burned: 80 to 137 every 10 minutes.


Calculate your body mass index (BMI) and see if you are over weight

Is Marathoning Too Much of a Good Thing for Your Heart?

HE had not expected to spend his 60th birthday in a hospital cardiac unit. R. J. Turner, a commercial real estate broker from Frederick County, Va., had planned a robust celebration. “I was going to finish my 10th marathon,” Mr. Turner said, “which isn’t bad for a guy my age.”

But near the start of the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 29, Mr. Turner raised an arm to wave at bystanders, and “everything went black.” Collapsing violently, he gashed his head, chipped a tooth and bit a deep hole in his bottom lip.

Mr. Turner, who had passed a stress test a year before, had just had a heart attack.

This has been an unusual season for the cardiac health of marathoners. After years in which almost no deaths were attributed to heart attacks at this country’s major marathons, at least six runners have died in 2006.

Two police officers, one 53, the other 60, died of heart attacks at the Los Angeles Marathon in March. The hearts of three runners in their early 40s gave out during marathons in Chicago in October, San Francisco in July and the Twin Cities in October. And at the same marathon where Mr. Turner was felled, another man, 56, crumpled near the 17th mile, never to recover.

This year’s toll has sobered race directors and medical directors of marathons. But, as Rick Nealis, the director of the Marine Corps Marathon, said, “Statistically, maybe, it was inevitable.”

Race fields have grown. In 2005, 382,000 people completed a marathon in the United States, an increase of more than 80,000 since 2000, according to Meanwhile, the risk of dying from a heart attack during a marathon is about 1 in 50,000 runners, said Dr. Arthur Siegel, the director of internal medicine at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard.

But some physicians, including Dr. Siegel, an author of more than two dozen studies of racers at the Boston Marathon, wonder if there is more to the deaths than mathematical inevitability: Does racing 26.2 miles put a heart at risk?

A new study by Dr. Siegel and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions is at least suggestive. Sixty entrants from the 2004 and 2005 Boston Marathon were tested before and after the race. Each was given an echocardiogram to find abnormalities in heart rhythm and was checked for blood markers of cardiac problems — in particular for troponin, a protein found in cardiac muscle cells. If the heart is traumatized, troponin can show up in the blood. Its presence can determine whether there has been damage from a heart attack.

The runners (41 men, 19 women) had normal cardiac function before the marathon, with no signs of troponin in their blood. Twenty minutes after finishing, 60 percent of the group had elevated troponin levels, and 40 percent had levels high enough to indicate the destruction of heart muscle cells. Most also had noticeable changes in heart rhythms. Those who had run less than 35 miles a week leading up to the race had the highest troponin levels and the most pronounced changes in heart rhythm.

The findings, published in the Nov. 28 issue of Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, were a surprise, and not least to the runners. None had reported chest pains or shortness of breath at the finish. All had felt fine, Dr. Siegel said (to the extent one can feel fine after pounding through 26.2 miles).

Within days, the abnormalities disappeared. But something seemed to have happened in the race. “Their hearts appeared to have been stunned,” Dr. Siegel said.

“Although the evidence is not conclusive, it does look like the Boston study is showing some effect on cardiac muscle,” said Dr. Paul D. Thompson, 59, the director of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, and an author of an editorial that accompanied the study. “It’s far too early to draw any conclusions,” he added. “We’d be seeing lots more bodies piling up if there were real lingering long-term cardiac damage” caused by running marathons.

“Over all, the evidence is strongly in favor of the idea that endurance exercise is helpful in terms of cardiac health,” said Dr. Thompson, who has run more than 30 marathons.

But questions do remain. Another new study, this one out of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, showed completely unexpected results in a group of experienced middle-aged male marathoners. In the study, which was presented in November at a meeting of the American Heart Association, the subjects, each of whom had completed at least five marathons, underwent an advanced type of heart screening called a spiral CT scan. Unlike echocardiograms or stress tests, spiral CTs show the level of calcium plaque buildup or atherosclerosis in the arteries.

More than a third of the runners had significant calcium deposits, suggesting they were at relatively high risk for a heart attack. Only 22 percent of a control group of nonrunners had a comparable buildup.

The researchers scrupulously avoided suggesting that marathoning had caused the men to develop heart disease. (After all, running may have kept them alive when they would otherwise have keeled over years earlier.) But neither did the authors rule out the possibility that in some baffling way distance running had contributed to the men’s arterial gunk.

What worries Dr. Siegel and some of his colleagues is that marathons present an opportunity for silent symptomless heart disease to introduce itself abruptly. The pulsing excitement, the adrenaline, the unpleasant process of “hitting the wall” may trigger physiological changes that loosen arterial plaques, precipitating a heart attack, Dr. Siegel said.

His advice to runners with any history of heart trouble is “train for the race, getting the cardiac benefits of endurance exercise,” then watch the event on television.

The risk of going into cardiac arrest as a spectator, he said, is only about one in a million. (The applicable studies of spectators involved Super Bowl fans.)

Anyone considering joining the ranks of marathoners should undergo a full medical screening, with a visit to a cardiologist for those over 40, Dr. Siegel said. Spiral CT scans are desirable (the cost can range from $250 to $850) and are covered by insurance if recommended by a physician.

Those with a family history of cardiac problems should be especially cautious. “You can’t outrun your genes,” Dr. Siegel said, a reality that marathon medical experts call the Jim Fixx effect, after the author of “The Complete Book of Running,” who died of a heart attack in 1984 at 52. His father had also died young.

Still, the majority of cardiologists remain avid fans of marathons. “It is an extraordinary event,” said Dr. Frederick C. Lough, the director of cardiac surgery at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. “But you have to respect that distance. It’s not something everyone necessarily should attempt.”

Dr. Lough, 57, was less than a block behind Mr. Turner when the older man collapsed. He interrupted his own race to help revive Mr. Turner and accompany him to the hospital, before completing the marathon. “It was a vivid reminder that running does not make anyone immune to heart disease,” Dr. Lough said.

Experts familiar with the new cardiac studies of marathoners urge caution and perspective. The numbers of people studied were small, the findings unexplained, and results have not yet been replicated.

Don’t use the studies, in other words, to justify parking yourself smugly on the couch. “There’s not yet in my opinion cause for alarm,” Dr. Thompson said. “I would still tell people, run.”

His words doubtless will cheer Mr. Turner. “You know the worst thing about almost dying?” he said. “That I didn’t finish.” After having had a stent installed in his heart to open an artery that was about 98 percent blocked, he’s now walking a mile a day and planning his comeback. “I want to get that 10th marathon in,” he said.

But not before he gets a full medical screening, including a spiral CT scan.

Source:The New York Times

The New Way to Lose Weight

Everyone burns fat differently. So how do you know which method will work for you?

The search for the perfect diet has never been more frenzied. Eat low-carb! No, eat low-fat! But beyond the hype, and the billions spent on weight-loss products, a revolutionary idea is catching on with researchers: the notion that no two individuals lose weight the same way. Each person has a hidden key to weight loss.

Some people find this key on their own. Steven Wallach, for example, spent most of his 40s gaining weight after an injury sidelined him from exercise. At 47, he was, literally, fed up — with pasta, potatoes and bagels — and more than 30 pounds overweight. “I didn’t look or feel as good as I wanted to,” admits Wallach, a jeweler in the New York City suburbs. He buckled down to a strict Atkins diet plan, cut out his beloved starches and within five months dropped 30 pounds. Another five came off when he took up running. A year later, his weight has stabilized and he considers himself a lifelong convert. “I could eat this way forever,” he says cheerily as he digs into his scrambled eggs.

For Katie White, 27, a San Francisco bookkeeper, the weight-loss process was entirely different. She didn’t want to eliminate whole food groups, so decided instead to reduce her portion sizes. She swapped fast food for simple home-cooked meals that she’d learned from her mother and grandmother while growing up in Brooklyn. White snacked on fresh fruit and was “religious” about her daily regimen of sit-ups. She dropped 20 pounds her way — a way she could live with and not feel deprived.

It’s possible that neither Wallach nor White would have succeeded on the other’s diet plan. They are living proof of what diet experts are coming to believe: One diet does not fit all. Each of us has markedly different indicators that influence how quickly we gain weight, and how hard it will be to lose it. In addition to the basics, such as height and age, scientists now realize our gender, genetics, metabolism, muscle mass, ethnicity, willingness to exercise, lifestyle, attitude and even where we live all come into play. This idea runs counter to what most diet-book authors or pricey weight-loss centers preach: that their plan is the key to the kingdom of the slim. A custom-fit diet not only makes sense, it’s also good news for the dieter who couldn’t lose weight on this year’s fad, or who took off pounds quickly and then gained them back (and more).

That message couldn’t come at a more opportune time, as Americans continue their climb toward universal pudginess. Since the ’70s, obesity rates have doubled and fully two-thirds of the country is overweight. Even more alarming: The number of fat kids has tripled in the past 30 years. The problem reaches beyond vanity, since diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer are associated with obesity.

Different Strokes
The individualized approach to dieting has powerful proof at the Weight Loss Registry, a roster of successful long-term dieters started 12 years ago. To be included, members must have maintained a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year. At 4,800 members, the Registry is now the largest collection to date of long-term weight-loss data, says its cofounder James Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and co-author of The Step Diet Book. The Registry’s key finding, he reports, is that “there are a lot of different ways to lose weight.” The Registry entrants did “low-carb diets, low-fat diets, diets based on the food pyramid, the grapefruit diet, the beer diet … it’s amazing how many different plans worked.”

Even the venerable weight-loss program at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina, which recently had only a single low-fat, low-salt plan consistent with American Heart Association guidelines, now gives patients choices. “As of last year, we offer a wider range of options, including three different versions of low-carb diets,” says Howard Eisenson, MD, the center’s director. “There has been emerging research showing that some people do very well with those plans.”
What Kind of Car Are You?
While all of us require regular fueling and maintenance, just like cars, we’re made to different specifications. Some of us are trim, fuel-efficient Hondas; others are wide-bodied, gas-guzzling Hummers. “Eventually we will be able to identify dozens of different types of obesity, and therefore dozens of ways of treating it,” says C. Wayne Callaway, MD, an endocrinologist and weight specialist at George Washington University. In his practice, he sees people who have insulin resistance (a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to insulin and begins to overproduce it to compensate); genetic variations in the autonomic nervous system that favor storing more abdominal fat; and people whose metabolisms have temporarily slowed while dieting. While some of these patients might need one of the few FDA-approved prescription weight-loss drugs, many will benefit from a diet that works with their body and lifestyle.

The human machine also contains a computer (otherwise known as the brain) that supplies the other half of the weight-loss equation. Eating is an emotional, cultural and personal experience, not just fuel.

What type of diet should a person choose? That question hit home with Gary Foster, PhD, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who compared low-fat and low-carb regimens. Though still a firm proponent of low-fat “heart healthy” diets, Foster found, in a recent study he headed, that after one year of adherence, the two diets offered equal benefits in pounds lost — but those on the low-carb plan had greater improvement in some heart-disease risk factors such as cholesterol levels. (Experts caution, though, that the long-term safety of low-carb, high-protein diets is unknown.)

“On a low-fat diet there’s a lot of counting calories, fat grams, fiber, sodium,” says Foster. “But some people like the freedom it provides to choose what to eat as long as they keep track of it. Others would prefer a simpler plan like Atkins, where you just count one thing: carbs.”

7 Tests for the Perfect Diet
How do you find a healthy way of eating you can live with long-term? Experts suggest an inventory of physical and psychological factors, based on the following easy self-exams:

The Glycemic Index
If you tend toward abdominal fat, crave starches and sugars, and have a fasting blood- sugar count of more than 100 (measured in a routine blood test), says Callaway, you may be insulin resistant. You’ll probably respond best to a low-carb diet, because cutting back on simple carbohydrates — especially sugars and starches — can often help stabilize blood-sugar and insulin levels.

The Exercise Equation
Active people, says David Schlundt, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University who specializes in weight disorders, might consider a low-fat diet that includes complex carbs. “You need glycogen for athletic performance, and it’s harder work for your body to take in a lot of protein and convert it to glucose,” he advises.

One thing all researchers agree on, however, is that everyone who wants to lose weight should get some exercise. “In our studies,” adds Schlundt, “people who exercised as well as dieted lost more fat and less muscle.” The one similarity among dieters catalogued in the Weight Loss Registry, says James Hill, is that they all combined dieting with regular exercise.

The Meal Monitor
Do you hate breakfast? Avoid lunch? Skipping meals or undereating slows your metabolism and blurs the chemical signals for hunger and fullness. “You can stabilize your neuropeptide Y levels, the ‘hunger’ chemical, by eating at least a third of your calories at breakfast and another third at lunch,” says Callaway. Complex carbs are good, especially early in the day. They rev up the metabolism, replenish the body’s need for glycogen and they digest slowly, which keeps you feeling full longer.

The Broccoli Barometer
What foods do you love and hate? You can’t disregard this factor or you’ll never be able to live with your diet. Vegetarians, for instance, will have a hard time following Atkins because of its reliance on meat. You’ll do better with a calorie-controlled, low-fat diet that allows for fruits, vegetables and complex carbs. On the other hand, if you’d rather give up pasta than steak, pick a low-carb option.

The All-or-Nothing Question
Some people do best depriving themselves of foods they crave, so they aren’t tempted, which may be why some bread and cereal lovers are converts to a low-carb plan.
The Stress Test
If you feel hungry often and like to snack, or if you tend to use food for comfort, consider a low-energy-density plan like the one endorsed by the Mayo Clinic. Although suitable for anyone, this diet is particularly good for people who are emotional eaters, explains Donald Hensrud, MD, a weight-management specialist at Mayo. “People eat until they’re satisfied or full,” he points out, and you can eat more in terms of volume on this plan. The Clinic has come up with its own Healthy Weight Pyramid, emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains. An emotional eater, says Schlundt, will also do better reaching for low-energy-dense snacks like fresh fruit, a treat that might be off-limits for a low-carb dieter.

The Convenience Quiz
The Mayo Clinic is also studying a Slim-Fast-based diet to see if busy people will do better on a simple, ready-made plan. If you want a no-brainer diet, a meal-replacement regimen or a system like Jenny Craig’s could be right for you.

Remember that gender makes a difference too. “Men tend to have an easier time losing weight because they usually have more lean muscle mass, which means they burn more calories,” says Hensrud. This can be frustrating, Schlundt points out, if a couple diet together, and he loses weight faster. Another truth, Hensrud adds, is that women who are dieting seem to enjoy group support like a Weight Watchers program, while men may prefer being tough and doing it on their own.

The Diet for the Future
Will this new research lead to the end of dieting as we know it? It might loosen the stranglehold of the mega-diets like Atkins and South Beach. In any case, the Weight Loss Registry points out that although people lose weight by all different methods, they tend to keep it off in remarkably similar ways. Overwhelmingly, Hill says, successful dieters follow four rules in their maintenance phase:

  • Eat breakfast.
  • Eat a calorie-aware, moderately low-fat diet that includes complex carbs.
  • Get plenty of exercise at moderate intensity. Walk!
  • Self-monitor through frequent weigh-ins and a food and exercise diary

From:Reader’s Digest.

Free or Farmed, When Is a Fish Really Organic?

Buying a pork chop labeled “organic” is relatively straightforward: it comes from a pig that ate only organic food, roamed outdoors from time to time and was left free of antibiotics

But what makes a fish organic?

That is a question troubling the Agriculture Department, which decides such things. The answer could determine whether Americans will be able to add fish to the growing list of organic foods they are buying, and whether fish farmers will be able to tap into that trend and the profits that go with it.

Organic foods, which many people believe to be more healthful (though others scoff), are grown on farms that shun chemicals and synthetic fertilizers and that meet certain government standards for safeguarding the environment and animals.

An organic tomato must flourish without conventional pesticides; an organic chicken cannot be fed antibiotics. Food marketers can use terms like “natural” and “free range” with some wiggle room, but only the Agriculture Department can sanction the “organic” label.

To the dismay of some fishermen — including many in the Alaskan salmon industry — this means that wild fish, whose living conditions are not controlled, are not likely to make the grade. And that has led to a lot of bafflement, since wild fish tend to swim in pristine waters and are favored by fish lovers.

“If you can’t call a wild Alaska salmon true and organic,” asked Senator Lisa Murkowski,a Republican from Alaska, “what can you call organic?”

Instead, it appears that only farm-raised salmon may pass muster, as may a good number of other farm-raised fish — much to the delight of fish farmers.

But a proposed guideline at the Agriculture Department for calling certain farmed fish “organic” is controversial on all sides. Environmentalists argue that many farm-raised fish live in cramped nets in conditions that can pollute the water, and that calling them organic is a perversion of the label. Those who catch and sell wild fish say that their products should be called organic and worry that if they are not, fish farmers will gain a huge leg up.

Even among people who favor the designation of farmed fish as organic, there are disputes over which types of fish should be included.

Trying to define what makes a fish organic “is a strange concept,” said George H. Leonard, science manager for the Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which offers a consumer guide to picking seafood. “I think the more you look at it, particularly for particular kinds of fish, it gets even stranger.”

The issue comes down largely to what a fish eats, and whether the fish can be fed an organic diet. There is broad agreement that the organic label is no problem for fish that are primarily vegetarians, like catfish and tilapia, because organic feed is available (though expensive).

Fish that are carnivores — salmon, for instance — are a different matter because they eat other fish, which cannot now be labeled organic.

The Agriculture Department panel that recommended adding farmed fish to the organic roster was willing to work around the issue, and offered various ways that fish-eating fish could qualify.

But those work-arounds have infuriated some environmentalists, who take issue with the idea that a fish could be called organic if it ate meal made from wild nonorganic fish. This constituency complains, among other things, that demand for fish meal is depleting wild fisheries.

“When it comes to carnivorous fish, it seems to be a complete deception of what organic means,” said Andrea Kavanagh, director of the Pure Salmon Campaign, an advocacy group working to improve conditions for farm-raised fish. “Organic is supposed to be on 100 percent organic feed.”

As the purists balk, the market for organic foods grows. Consumer sales reached $13.8 billion in 2005 compared with $3.6 billion in 1997, according to the Organic Trade Association. What started as a farming technique for crops has expanded into everything from processed foods to flowers and cosmetics. There was even a federal task force to evaluate organic pet food.

Fish farmers and retailers are painfully aware of what they are missing, and some of them are taking matters into their own hands. As things stand, a limited amount of seafood is being sold as organic at stores in the United States, usually because it was certified by other countries or by third-party accreditation agencies.

A company in Florida called OceanBoy Farms is selling what it says are organic shrimp to Wal-Mart, Costco and some other retailers. And at the Lobster Place, a seafood store in Manhattan, “organic” king salmon from New Zealand is offered for $13.50 a pound, compared with $22.95 for wild king salmon and $9.95 for farm-raised salmon.
Should wild fish receive an organic label? Or should it be reserved for farm-raised fish?

“People will go for organic salmon when wild king salmon isn’t available,” said Todd Harding, director of wholesale operations for the Lobster Place. He said that the taste of organic salmon was more consistent, but that he generally preferred wild salmon.

While most consumers say they prefer wild-caught fish, 72 percent would buy organic fish at least some of the time, according to a recent survey by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and Rutgers.

If the Agriculture Department ultimately approves organic fish, it would certainly complicate the debate about what types of seafood are best in terms of taste, nutrition, price and environmental impact. Farm-raised? Wild-caught? Or farm-raised organic?

There is plenty of history to the debate. In 2000, when the Agriculture Department sought to weed out some of the food industry’s murkier organic claims, it named a task force to evaluate requests from fish farmers for organic eligibility.

The farmers argued, then as now, that with demand for seafood growing and many wild fisheries being depleted, farm-raised seafood should have a competitive edge. On farms, they said, the number of fish remains stable, and the quality of water and feed are controlled.

One thing the task force did was rule out the possibility that wild fish could be labeled organic.

“It takes some thinking about,” said Rebecca J. Goldburg, a senior scientist at the advocacy group Environmental Defense, who was on the advisory panel. “What it comes down to is organic is about agriculture, and catching wild animals isn’t agriculture.”

The task force recommended that farm-raised fish could be labeled organic as long as their diets were almost entirely organic plant feed.

The Agriculture Department shelved those recommendations and let the issue lie fallow. In 2005 a second task force was convened — this time, with more members affiliated with the aquaculture industry.

This year, the group recommended far less stringent rules, including three options for what organic fish could eat: an entirely organic diet; nonorganic fish during a seven-year transition period while fish farms shift to organic fish meal; or nonorganic fish meal from “sustainable” fisheries. Sustainable fisheries are those that ensure that their fish stocks do not become depleted.

Even if the recommendations are adopted, it will still take several years before U.S.D.A.-certified organic fish appears in stores or restaurants. But domestic fish farmers say that new rules cannot come soon enough. While the aquaculture industry has experienced rapid growth, the vast majority of it has been overseas — mainly in China — and much of the growth in seafood sales in the United States, which had a wholesale value of $29.2 billion in 2004, has come from imports.

Rodger May, a Seattle businessman who sells wild and farm-raised salmon, is preparing for the day when he can sell his fish as organic. For now he refers to some of his farm-raised salmon — which live in ocean pens, as opposed to man-made ponds — as “natural,” a designation that does not carry the same marketing punch as would “organic.”

Mr. May says he believes that he has created the perfect environment for organic fish. His “natural” fish are raised in pens that hold fewer fish than those for his regular farm-raised salmon, and they live in a body of water where fast-moving currents constantly provide fresh water and flush away waste.

His fish eat a mixture of oily brown pellets that resemble dog food and contain protein in the form of ground-up fish; other farm-raised salmon are fed protein from chicken and other land animals, he said.

“How can a wild fish be cleaner than one of these?” he asked. “What can be more organic than something that comes out of the sea, that has no chemicals near it, no antibiotics and is fed fish?”

The Agriculture Department may ultimately agree with Mr. May. But even if it does, it could then face another round of difficult questions. For instance, what is an organic clam? An oyster? A scallop?

“How do you make conventional mollusk production different from organic mollusk production?” asked Ms. Goldburg, the Agriculture Department panelist, who noted that mollusks filter water for food. “They are all just sucking up water. Is it cleaner water.

Source:The New York Times