Archive for healthy living

VIDEO: Safety of alternative meds vs. conventional meds reminiscent of George Carlin's "Baseball vs. Football"

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george carlin baseball v football

Maybe it's because I've been feeling like a truck ran over me for the past week or so, or maybe it's because I was raised by a superb internist who regularly gave me insight into this very subject, but a Sunday L.A. Times op-ed stuck out like a sore thumb... a sore thumb that shouldn't be treated with unregulated meds.

It starts out with a comparison to one of my all time favorite George Carlin routines, "Baseball vs. Football" (a must-watch video if you've never seen it before) in which he says, "Football has hitting … and unnecessary roughness and personal fouls. Baseball has the sacrifice... in baseball, the object is to go home! And to be safe!"

These days, at least as it relates to the political priorities of all too many lawmakers, safety is vastly underrated:

Some might say the same can be said for conventional and alternative remedies. Conventional medicine has chemotherapy; alternative medicine has aromatherapy... Orthopedists operate; chiropractors adjust.

Then it gets to the heart (literally) of the matter. Please take a moment to read the entire piece, because too many people don't seem to be aware of many of the dangers associated with remedies that are not subject to government oversight. For example:

Unfortunately, because of the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act, dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so companies are under little obligation to support their claims or admit their harms.

For example, blue cohosh can cause heart failure; nutmeg can cause hallucinations; comfrey, kava, chaparral and valerian can cause inflammation of the liver; monkshood and plantain can cause heart arrhythmia; wormwood can cause seizures; stevia leaves can decrease fertility; concentrated green tea extracts can damage the liver; milkweed seed oil and bitter orange can cause heart damage; thujone can cause neurological damage; and concentrated garlic can cause bleeding.

In 1992, one of the worst dietary supplement disasters in history occurred when about 100 people developed kidney failure from a "slimming" mixture that contained the plant Aristolochia. At least 70 people required kidney transplants or dialysis; many later developed bladder cancers.

Memo to GOP: Regulation exists for a reason, and that reason is to keep us safe in any number of ways. "Big government" isn't always a bad thing (forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds being one major exception), and the insistence by some conservatives that corporate profit should trump the health and welfare of Americans is as absurd as it is dangerous.

More from George Carlin (with whom I had a few awesome personal encounters):

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything's dying. [...]

Baseball has no time limit: we don't know when it's gonna end - We might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we've got to go to sudden death.

In the world of medicine, it should be obvious to our elected officials that sudden death is something we should go out of our way to avoid, not encourage via willful negligence.

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VIDEO- Chris Christie: I’m not too heavy to run for president, "that's ridiculous." It's also a legitimate concern.

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First things first: I'm not a fan of fat jokes. Sometimes they're irresistible, sometimes they slip out, sometimes they make me laugh, but not very often. Obesity is a serious issue, it's difficult to cope with both emotionally and physically, it's not easy to lose weight, and sometimes it's impossible. That's not funny, and the premise of this post is not intended to be either.

My now-retired father was an internist who sub-specialized in cardiology. So, because a main focus of his practice was heart health, he insisted that all his patients and, of course, his family, adhere to healthy diets and life styles.

Being raised by a doctor, and by extension, a circle of family friends who were doctors, I learned as a teeny tiny tot that obesity could shorten one's life and/or cause all kinds of problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.

Enter Barbara Walters, who pulled a "some say" on Chris Christie about his size. Yes, she went there:

"There are people who say that you couldn't be president because you're so heavy."

Christie:

"That's ridiculous."

But Walters persisted:

"They're worried about your health."

Christie's response was a resounding "Pshyeah, right":

"I've done this job pretty well, and I think people watched me for the last number of weeks in Hurricane Sandy, doing 18 hours days and getting right back up the next day and still being just as effective in the job, so I don't really think that would be a problem."

Oh well, so long as he doesn't "think that would be a problem." I wonder what his doctor thinks. Or any competent doctor, for that matter.

Nobody is saying he couldn't do his job "pretty well." Christie could continue to work 20 hour days, and then get right back up and work another 20... and then keel over in the blink of an eye. Of course, that could happen to anyone, but a person of his size could be less able to withstand the long term stress and demands that go with the job. And this doesn't even take into account how our chief executives seem to age more quickly than the rest of us, another side effect of such a strenuous occupation.

The risks of being overweight are serious and even deadly. So dismissing with a "Hey, I worked really, really long days and so far I still managed to stay alive!" doesn't cut it and certainly doesn't take a valid concern seriously.

Christie's overall health is a consideration. Physician reports on major political figures (especially presidents) are blasted all over the media when they're released and for good reason. America worries and wants to be reassured that the leader of the free world is in good enough shape to take on the enormous pressures, both physical and mental, that the job requires.

And that's nothing to sneeze at.

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Report- American Fast Food Contains More Salt Than British

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Honestly, as someone who was forced to give a crap about this, everyone should pay way more attention to the salt in your food. Those 1600 milligrams of salt in the six McNuggets? That's 50 milligrams more than I'm supposed to have all day. Click on the cartoon to enlarge, via.

Heart disease kills more Americans than any other disease, and a major cause of it, high sodium intake, has been attributed to diets that increasingly include fast food. But Americans might not be playing on an even playing field—fast food in America often contains more sodium than the same products in Europe, according to a report released Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

For instance, in America, six Mcdonald's chicken McNuggets contains about 1,600 milligrams of salt, nearly three times as much as in six chicken McNuggets in the United Kingdom, according to researchers at the University of Calgary. According to the McDonald's website, the McNuggets are supposed to have only about 540 milligrams of salt per six nuggets.

An American Subway club sandwich has 1,200 milligrams of salt per 3.5 ounces; in France, the same sandwich has just 500 milligrams of salt.

(snip)

Across the board, fast food in the United Kingdom has the lowest amount of salt, which the researchers attribute to a concerted effort in the country to lower salt content.

"It is apparent that mean salt levels are already lower in fast foods from the UK than from elsewhere, which may be a consequence of industry's active participation in salt reduction efforts in that country," they wrote.

That same model could and should be replicated in the United States, according to the researchers. Fast food companies should incrementally reduce salt over the course of a few months or years.

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Surprise! Blue states are healthier than red states.

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H/t @cpeterka for spotting this piece over at ::shudder:: Fox:

UnitedHealth Group has released their 2011 annual state-by-state health rankings. Wondering where your state ranked? [...]

Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state, according to the report, followed by fellow Northeastern states New Hampshire and Connecticut in the second and third spots respectively. Rounding out the top 5 healthiest states were Hawaii and Massachusetts.

On the other end of the spectrum was Mississippi as the least healthiest, followed by Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama.

Quel surprise.

If you recall, Vermont passed single payer health care reform, and the world didn't end. Here's the list:

1. Vermont
2. New Hampshire
3. Connecticut
4. Hawaii
5. Massachusetts
6. Minnesota
7. Utah
8. Maine
9. Colorado
10. Rhode Island
11. New Jersey
12. North Dakota
13. Wisconsin
14. Oregon
15. Washington
16. Nebraska
17. Iowa
18. New York
19. Idaho
20. Virginia
21. Wyoming
22. Maryland
23. South Dakota
24. California
25. Montana
26. Kansas
27. Pennsylvania
28. Illinois
29. Arizona
30. Delaware
31. Michigan
32. North Carolina
33. Florida
34. New Mexico
35. Alaska
36. Ohio
37. Georgia
38. Indiana
39. Tennessee
40. Missouri
41. West Virginia
42. Nevada
43. Kentucky
44. Texas
45. South Carolina
46. Alabama
47. Arkansas
48. Oklahoma
49. Louisiana
50. Mississippi

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Congress screws healthier school lunches

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This makes me physically ill. Good lord, we don't give a crap over the crap we feed our children?

WASHINGTON -- Congress is unraveling the Obama administration's attempt to make school lunches healthier, pushing back against Agriculture Department efforts to limit french fries and pizzas, reduce sodium and boost whole grains on school lunch lines.

The final version of a wide-ranging spending bill released late Monday would force the department to drop an attempt to limit servings of potatoes per week, delay proposed limits on sodium and delay a requirement to boost whole grains. The department proposed the standards earlier this year.

The spending bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. The department's proposed guidelines would have attempted to prevent that. ED NOTE-
Ketchup anyone?

The changes had been requested by food companies that produce frozen pizzas, the salt industry and potato growers. Some conservatives in Congress have called the push for healthier foods an overreach, saying the government shouldn't be telling children what to eat.

(snip)

The school lunch proposal was based on 2009 recommendations by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. When the guidelines were proposed in January, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the effort was necessary to stem the tide of childhood obesity and to prevent future health care costs.

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White House staff lose weight, credit first lady

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But I thought she was an angry woman that everyone hates?

WASHINGTON — Surrounded all day and most nights by delicious cakes, cookies, pies and more, Susie Morrison gave in to temptation too often during long hours at work in the White House pastry kitchen.

But no more.

Never a runner, the assistant pastry chef has finished her first 5K run. When the weather cooperates, she pedals her bicycle 26 miles roundtrip to work. She's eating more vegetables, limiting coffee and drinking up to a gallon of water every day - dietary changes that Morrison says helped her drop 30 pounds from her 5-foot-5 frame in about 18 months.

One person gets most of the credit for Morrison's lifestyle makeover: Michelle Obama.

While the first lady's campaign to lower childhood obesity rates will need time to produce results, if ever, the White House is one place where her message about eating balanced meals and getting more exercise is not only resonating, but showing results, too.

"She is a great inspiration for me to focus every day to try harder, and I have," Morrison said.

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Video- Michelle Obama endorses Olive Garden, Red Lobster menu changes

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This is sooo important and necessary! Since I've had to restrict my salt I have been unable to eat 95% of foods that I would have never given a second thought to before.

First Lady Michelle Obama gave her support Thursday to healthful menu changes at Darden Restaurants, the parent company of mega-chains such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster. The company announced Thursday it's cutting calories and sodium in all of its restaurants, offering more healthful choices on its kids' menus and revamping other food choices.

(snip)

Obama launched the Let's Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity, and has challenged restaurants to offer more healthful menu items. So far, establishments such as McDonald's, IHOP and Burger King have jumped on board, pledging to include better options such as fruit.

In July, McDonald's said it would alter its Happy Meals, cutting back on French fries and adding apples. The company also plans to reduce calories, saturated fats, added sugar and sodium on its menu. Other restaurant chains, such as Romano's Macaroni Grill and the Cheesecake Factory, have also added more healthful items to their menus. Who said peer pressure was a bad thing?

Darden's plans include reducing overall calories and sodium by 10% over the next five years, and by 20% over the next 10 years.** In addition, it will look at reformulating, resizing and removing specific menu items and add what it calls in a news release "calorie-conscious, flavorful choices."

Children's menus will have fruits or vegetables as default side dishes, and an 8-ounce glass of 1% milk is currently the default beverage, with free refills. Parents are free to substitute other items, however. In the release the company said it would create specific nutrition standards for developing children's meals.

Just for giggles I went over to the Red Lobster site (I've never been to Olive Garden, I prefer my Italian homey) and calculated a lunch menu I've had a bunch of times with my friend Shelli.

1/2 Order Stuffed Mushrooms 555mg sodium

Garlic Scampi Shrimp 640mg sodium

Fresh Broccoli 200mg

Garden Salad 105mg

Fat Free Ranch Dressing 250mg

2 Cheddar Bisquits 700mg

Normal DAILY recommendation of sodium is 2500, reduced salt intake recommendation is under 1500. This lunch alone is 2540mg.

**No where near enough.

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