Monday, November 29, 2004

Milk...Does It Really Do a Body Good?

A study of over 60,000 women found that women who drink more than two glasses of milk a day significantly increase their risk of ovarian cancer. The research, conducted by Sweden's Karolinska Institute, showed that women who consumed more than four servings of dairy products a day had twice the risk of serious ovarian cancer than women who had fewer than two. Apparently, milk showed the strongest link with ovarian cancer - those women who drank two or more glasses a day were at double the risk of those who consumed little or no milk. While the reason behind this relationship is unclear, researchers theorize that lactose, a type of sugar found in milk, may overstimulate production of hormones which encourage tumor growth.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

How Much Do We Really Need?

Thanksgiving ushers in the season for indulgences -- food, presents, parties. Our society saturates us with the message that consumption -- be it cookies, clothes or computer gadgets -- is the key to a better life. But before we rush into our holiday routine, it's worth contemplating how much we really need. Yoga Journal Online talks about how too much of a good thing can be bad for our health. "Greed comes from a poverty mentality," says Cyndi Lee, founder of OM yoga in New York. "A poverty mentality is feeling like you don't have enough, so you try to get more. If you go out to dinner and somebody wants to taste your food when they haven't even tasted their own yet, that's a poverty mentality. It causes a person to want more — more food, clothes, compliments, attention, anything." Yet consuming more only fuels the hunger.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Diet Is Linked to Bad Behavior

After analyzing the development of more than 1,000 children on Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa, researchers from the University of Southern California concluded that the more malnourished the children were in their first three years, the greater their anti-social behavior later on. Report co-author Adrian Raine told the BBC that parents could prevent their children from developing bad behavior by ensuring they eat healthier foods. "There's more to anti-social behavior than nutrition, but we argue that it is an important missing link."

Monday, November 22, 2004

Chocolate: The New Cough Remedy?

Scientists have discovered that theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate, is nearly a third more effective in stopping persistant coughs than the leading medicine. The research, led by the Imperial College in London, showed that theobromine works by suppressing the vagus nerve activity that triggers coughing. The team also discovered that unlike standard cough treatments such as codeine, theobromine caused no adverse effects on either the cardiovascular or central nervous systems.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ecological Medicine

Ecological Medicine is an emerging movement that advocates creating public health policies that are geared toward prevention and precaution as they apply to both environmental and human health. Sierra Club Books recently published a collection of essays on the topic. The book, which includes contributions by experts such as Andrew Weil, examines how we can apply the concepts of alternative medicine to healing our environment.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Don't Skip the Sweet Potatoes

Many people suffering from carbphobia may be tempted to skip the sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving. Don't! Sweet potatoes are an amazing source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which has been linked to the prevention of heart disease and many types of cancer. In addition, one baked sweet potato provides about twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, 42 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 10 percent of the RDA for iron. All this for only 141 calories per potato.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Brain's Battle for Short- vs. Long-term Rewards

The tug of war that seems to rage in our brains when weighing whether or not to cheat on our diets is real. Researchers at four universities have concluded that two areas of the brain appear to compete for control over behavior when a person tries to balance near-term rewards with long-term goals. A study conducted at Princeton University showed "decisions involving the possibility of immediate reward activated parts of the brain influenced heavily by neural systems associated with emotion. In contrast, all the decisions the students made -- whether short- or long-term -- activated brain systems that are associated with abstract reasoning." Researchers are now trying to answer the all-important question of what determines which side wins when the emotional cry for ice-cream battles the rational demand for collard greens.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Calculate Your Risk of Disease

Wondering what your risk is for cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes or osteoporosis? The Harvard School of Public Health developed an interactive website to assess whether your odds of getting these diseases are above or below average for your age group. After answering a few questions, you can find out where you stand and get some customized tips for prevention.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Heavy Computer Use Linked to Glaucoma

Attention computer users, spending too many hours gazing at your monitor could lead to eye disease. A recent study of 10,000 middle-aged Japanese workers showed a link between heavy computer use and glaucoma in those who were short-sighted. The Japanese scientists conducting the study reported "computer stress is reaching higher levels than have ever been experienced before." So if you see yourself in this high-risk group, make sure not to skip your annual eye exam.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Vacation with Purpose

Looking for a way to volunteer around the holidays or a destination for your time off? Why not combine both by traveling to an exotic locale where you can work on conservation programs or help build the infra-structure of impoverished communities. is promoting a wide range of trips this winter that include an eight-day expedition to Namibia to survey wildlife and a twelve-day mission to Thailand to teach English to a remote hill tribe.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Combatting Winter's Sensory Deprivation

As the air gets colder, many of us find ourselves eating more. In part, it’s our body's way of adding extra padding to help keep us warmer for the coming months. But another reason for opening the pantry, I would argue, comes from the increased need for sensory stimulation. As the cold prompts most plants to go into a dormant state, we lose so many of nature's smells. Covered in layers of clothing, our skin is prevented from coming in contact with the warmth of the sun or the mist of rain. Consequently, we tend to overcompensate in the taste department by reaching for all sorts of goodies. To combat this, find other avenues for indulging your cravings. Look for ways to incorporate scents into your home whether it's cooking with more spices, lighting fragrant candles or using lemon-scented soap. And opt for low-calorie options like herbal tea for a flavor fix without all of the calories.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Office Om

Do you downward dog at the office? When was the last time you had a chair your desk? More and more companies are offering on-site, stress-reduction perks as a way of ensuring that employees are in better shape to handle the longer days at the office. Whether they are effective or merely diversions from the real problems at work, getting your boss to foot the bill for a little lunch-time Tai chi or talk therapy is great if you can get it. Find out if your company offers such programs and, if not, make a suggestion to HR.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Patient-Doctor Gap In Alternative Therapies

According to the BBC, some 71 percent of U.K. patients said they would like to be able to talk to their physicians about complementary treatments yet half of them do not for fear of embarrassment. Meanwhile, a separate poll of British general practitioners found them split on the issue of whether they should be the ones providing information on this subject. The U.K. spends over $200 million each year on alternative therapies and is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next four years.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Take Action

The Sierra Club not only provides you with several opportunities to explore the great outdoors, it also shows you how to defend it! Through their website you can register to take part in the Action Network and join other members in petitioning our government for better policies on issues that are close to your heart.

Friday, November 05, 2004

FDA Commissions Study on Its Safety Record

After a series of flubs -- most recently, the pulling of Vioxx off the market after studies showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke -- the U.S. Food and Drug Administratin has asked the Institute of Medicine to study the agency's safety monitoring of medicines already on the market.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Eat Less, Taste More

If you are looking to shed pounds or simply get more pleasure from your plate, start eating mindfully. No, you don’t need to meditate while you eat, rather eating itself becomes a meditation of being present for each bite of food. You fully experience what it tastes like, how it smells, its texture on your tongue, how you feel as it goes down. Put your magazine away, turn off your television or stereo, and, if you’re dining with someone, pace yourself so that you are alternatively listening to either your companion or your meal. Yes, we eat for nutritional needs but we also eat for sensual ones. As you start eating this way, you'll find that you naturally become more satisfied with less food. It's that simple.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Race for the Cure

Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be over, but, unfortunately, this disease continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 20-59. While the mortality rate seems to be inching downwards due to early detection and improved treatments, there's still a long way to go. Beyond donating money, show your support by joining the local Race for the Cure or Rally for the Cure event in your area. By helping to raise both awareness and funds, you'll feel empowered to actually be contributing to a solution to this devastating disease.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Vote for Better Nutrition

Under the current administration, we've seen a loosening of rules that protect the safety of our food and water. There's always been the sense in our society that if a product is approved by the FDA and allowed to be sold to the public, it surely must be safe for us to consume. Unfotunately, this is not so. Plenty of products continue to make it to the market because the food industry is lobbying our government to make decisions that favor corporations at the expense of individuals. Today is the day to show our current administration that we no longer want them making decisions that put profits above health. Vote for change.