Monday, June 29, 2009

Ditch the Drive - Beat the Feet

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Make Some Tracks...

Summer is upon us – in much the same way as those extra pounds are up-on-us: It just seems to happen when you’re not paying attention.

Attention may indeed be the crucial factor.

In our car-centric society, walking is typically one of the last things we give any thought. A new study, by professor of pediatrics James Hill, of the University of Colorado, says it’s time we adjust our thinking. According to Hill, people should ideally take 10,000 steps each day to maintain their health. But, with our foot permanently fused to the gas pedal, we often manage a meager 1,000 steps in our lackluster day.

These aren’t the only significant numbers. Researcher Lawrence Frank found that every 30 minutes spent behind the wheel each day increases the odds of obesity by three percent – on the other hand, people who live in walkable neighborhoods are seven percent less likely to be obese.

So, instead of letting those pounds sneak up on you, take advantage of the warmer weather to get outside for a breath of fresh air. And, once you’re out there, you may as well take a quick spin around the block.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about a healthy walking lifestyle, see this from the American Heart Association.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Cost of Health Care

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Take a deep Breath - and Reach for Your Wallet...

The debate is in high gear and, with this much at stake, it's appropriate. The cost of doing business as usual in the health care arena is unsustainable. But, the cost of revamping our entire system is also phenomenal.

What to do?

The article link below is an excellent starting point. This article, written by physician Atul Gawande, addresses the culture of profit that drives medical costs through the roof. But, he also points to stellar examples, including Mayo Clinic and an organization in Colorado, that provide some of the nation's best health care at a surprisingly affordable cost.

Cleveland Clinic has also shown it's possible to provide superior care without breaking the bank. Interestingly, their physicians, like those at Mayo, are on salary - they receive the same paycheck each month regardless of how may tests they order or procedures they complete. It sounds like quite the rational alternative to the obscene fee driven system that encourages doctors to perform more tests, more procedures, more often.

So, take a look at the article below. You'll be in good company - even the president has spoken of it highly.

See Gawande's article here, in The New Yorker.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Food Pyramid Re-invented

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Come On - Take a Look...

Let’s review.

First, we eat because...

Yeah, that’s exactly where the first complications begin to set in. We eat for a great variety of reasons, including energy, nutrition, health and enjoyment. Which of these we (should) emphasize is often a point of contention and, the research continues to show, at the core of many of our health problems.

But, there’s help, right? You bet. There’s the ever-famous Food Pyramid to guide us. A totally unbiased, scientifically based set of dietary guidelines that will lead us down the path of svelteness, beauty and length of days.

Or maybe not.

It appears the Food Pyramid is as susceptible to lobbying pressures as the rest of the settled regions of the world. So, scientists at Harvard took it upon themselves to create a Food Pyramid devoid of lobbyists influence, relying on good old-fashioned science and common sense. What a great idea.

The link below will take you to the new Food Pyramid and explain the process they followed in devising it.

It’s worth your time. And, yes – it’s good for you.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Stem Cells Restore Sight, Save World

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This Might Work!

Is there anything stem cells will not eventually be able to cure?

This continues to be a most exciting area of research – particularly as scientists learn more about using people’s own stem cells. When using an individual's own stem cells the major obstacle of tissue rejection is taken off the table. We, in effect, become our own mini-regeneration plant. It’s really quite cool.

Now, it’s certainly beyond the realm of this blog to discuss issues of “eternal life,” but breakthroughs in stem cell technology continue to hold great promise of extending years. And, not just any old years, but years filled with vitality.

The latest breakthrough gives sight back to those with damaged corneas. Most remarkably, the procedure is rather “simple” and performed on an outpatient basis. Two hours. A surgeon collects the stem cells from a tiny amount of the patient’s eye tissue, then places them on a specially cultured contact lens. The lens is put in place on the patient’s eye – no need for sutures – and the patient heads home.

In about ten days the stem cells re-colonize the eye surface.

Just one more reason to treat yourself well when it comes to your health – you want your self-generated spare parts to be top notch.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about stem cells, see this from the National Institutes of Health.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Vitamin D - The Good Stuff

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Vitamin D is Huge...

Vitamin D has been getting a great deal of press coverage lately. This previously unheralded vitamin is now being touted as something of a wonder, helping our bodies in a number of ways, including fighting off cancer. Check out this video from Dr. John Cannell, a cardiac surgeon and strong proponent of vitamin D. It's quite eye-opening.

To read more about vitamin D, see this from the Office of Dietary Supplements.