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In my mind, the gifting season should basically be about family and community--not so much about how many gifts, but about the right gift. Additionally, the less time I can spend in traffic, parking lots, shopping lines, mall crowds, and balancing all my purchases strategically for transport, the better. Therefore, I am recommending to everyone to shop online. No traffic (other than internet traffic), no parking lots, no crowds, no malls. I don't even have to get dressed if I don't want. All I have to do is take my time browsing to find the right gift, make my payment, and wait for my gifts to show up at the front door. My favorite place to cybershop this year is Overstock.com. I did some comparison pricing, and, wow--what a difference! I found the Egyptian cotton sheets I was looking for at half the mall price, and found the CD I was looking for at the same price as Wal-Mart (after shipping), and I didn't have to endure that shopping experience. I'm a happy holiday camper here in front of my laptop...
Now, about that holiday eating... I've become a fan of Dr. Elson Haas, who I first heard on Sageera.com. He has some great, sensible tips for how to enjoy the holiday consumption traditions without compromising our health morals. He says, "The Holidays are fun with all the heart-warming, friendly-family happenings. Mainly, to stay healthy, you need to know yourselves, and what your body (and stomach, and liver, etc) can handle, and live within that. Listen to your needs for rest and sleep, light eating, taking a day of warm vegetable soup, stretching and moving that body."
I love that suggestion about the day of warm vegetable soup. With all those chocolate, cupcakes, candy, and other holiday meats and treats usually within arm's reach, it's a great thought to take a vacation from those special occasion foods, and just let the digestion rest a bit, toning up with some veggie soup--maybe a dark green salad for lunch (with some of those dried holiday cranberries on top), and that hot soup for dinner. Then, take a brisk hike around the neighborhood with Rover (or in my case, Wookie).
As Dr. Haas points out, "At times like these, it's just so hard not to indulge, or to accept all the invitations even when we are too tired. It's at those special times when we can listen more deeply to our Selves and not override the sensitivity of our body and our own cycles."
Here's wishing you the very best of Holidays! We'll see you again in 2007!
In vibrant health,
Pure Energy Rx
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F.Y.I. - Interesting Health News Tidbits
Holiday survival tips...
With the holidays here, you have all too many opportunities to eat, drink, and be less than merry. Here are five easy steps to avoid the discomfort of overindulging:
1. Remember that on the holidays, people are far more important than food. This holiday season, try to eat less, eat slower, and focus more on your family and friends.
2. Eat an apple before each meal. This fat-free, succulent, high-fiber fruit will take up considerable space in your stomach and offer some protection against overeating. Likewise, drink a lot of water, two to three glasses 30 minutes before a meal. Water will also fill you up, not out.
3. Before you sit down to your holiday dinner, take some extra vitamin C and vitamin E. A single high-fat meal can elevate triglycerides, which promote free-radical damage to the arteries and lower the production of protective nitric oxide.
4. Put out the fire of acid indigestion before it starts. Replenish your digestive tract with a blend of digestive enzymes that helps break down hard-to-digest foods. Take them before you eat your two largest meals of the day.
5. If despite your best intentions, you've had one too many slices of pumpkin pie, try a traditional balm for an upset stomach: chamomile. Chamomile tea has a pleasantly relaxing effect and also relieves indigestion, heartburn, and flatulence. Peppermint tea has a similar effect. Steep for five to 10 minutes, and sip slowly. It's a soothing end to a holiday meal. >>>> Thanks to Dr. Whitaker...
Soy milk myth...
A recent article from Dr. Kaayla Daniel describes how soybeans are "milked" to make soy milk, and transmogrified into health-harming products nobody needs:
After presoaking beans in an alkaline solution, the resulting paste is cooked in a pressure cooker, eliminating key nutrients and producing low levels of the toxin lysinoalanine. After that, the production process becomes a matter of cleaning up the undesirable, beany taste of soy milk, either by presoaking beans beforehand with baking soda or "deodorizing" them using a process similar to refining oil. Sweeteners (raw cane crystals, barley malt or brown rice syrup) and flavorings mask any remaining "beaniness."
Sales of soy milk came to $1 billion in 2005. But soy milk drinkers might be surprised to learn that soy milk was originally considered nothing more than a step in the process of making tofu. Soy milk consumption didn't pick up until the late 1970s, when advertisers began promoting it as an energy drink. The soy industry has long concentrated on taste rather than health, however. And since soy milk doesn't exist naturally in nature, it is, and always has been, a processed food. If you're still skeptical about these facts, check out "The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food Revealed," by Dr. Daniel.
Modern soy protein foods in no way resemble the traditional Asian soy foods, and may contain carcinogens like nitrates and lysinoalanine. Non-fermented soy products like tofu, soy milk and meatless foods made from textured vegetable protein also contain phytic acid, one of many anti-nutrients it's wise to avoid at all costs. And all of the purported "health benefits" of these products are simply untrue:
- Soy isoflavones don't prevent various forms of cancer (prostate, breast or uterine).
- Neither soy protein nor soy isoflavones are useful in limiting menopause-related symptoms.
- The jury remains out on any soy-related benefits in treating osteoporosis.
DON'T bring home the bacon...
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Indulging in bacon too frequently may be hazardous to your health, a new study suggests, while taking the skin off your chicken before you cook it might not be so good for you either.
Dr. Dominique S. Michaud of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and her colleagues found that people who ate bacon five times a week or more were nearly 60-percent more likely to develop bladder cancer, while those who ate skinless chicken that frequently had a 52-percent greater risk of the disease. Some meat products contain nitrosamines, which are known to cause bladder cancer, Michaud and her team note in their report, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But the studies that have attempted to investigate the meat-bladder cancer link have been small and most have not separated out the effects of different types of meat.
To better understand the relationship, Michaud and her team looked at data for 47,422 men and 88,471 women who were followed for up to 22 years, during which time 808 developed bladder cancer. People who ate bacon and other processed meats frequently were also more likely to smoke and to take in more fat and fewer vitamins, the researchers found. They were also less likely to exercise.
The association between the total meat consumption and bladder cancer was not statistically significant. But those who ate bacon five or more times per week were 59-percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who never did. Also, men and women who ate chicken this often were 52-percent more likely to develop bladder cancer than those who never ate skinless chicken. Compared with skinless chicken, cooked chicken with skin is known to contain a smaller amount of heterocyclic amines, carcinogenic compounds that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures, the researchers note. The researchers suggest that nitrosamines, heterocyclic amines, or both are responsible for the health effects of bacon seen in the current study, but they note that their findings must be confirmed by other research teams before any conclusions can be made. >>>> SOURCE
Why the big drop in breast cancer...
By Gina Kolata, New York Times
Rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped a startling 15 percent from August 2002 to December 2003, researchers reported this week. The reason, they believe, may be because during that time, millions of women abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause after a large national study concluded that the hormones slightly increased breast cancer risk. Donald Berry, head of the division of quantitative science at the cancer center and the senior investigator for the analysis, called the connection between the drop in rates and hormone use "astounding."
Over all, for women of all ages and all breast cancer types, the incidence of the cancer, the second leading killer of women, dropped by 7 percent in 2003, or about 14,000 cases, the researchers said. It was the first time that breast cancer rates had fallen significantly, something experts said was especially remarkable because the rates had slowly inched up, year by year, since 1945. But the current decrease was most striking for women with so-called estrogen-positive tumors, which account for 70 percent of all breast cancers.
Dr. Berry said that the biggest effect overall was seen in women ages 50 to 69. That, he added, is the group most likely to have been taking menopausal hormones. In them, the incidence of breast cancer, including the type that grows in response to estrogen and the one that does not, fell by 12 percent in 2003, the latest year for which data is available. The findings of the new analysis were supported by a separate study in California. That study, published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found an even bigger drop in rates in that state and a correspondingly bigger drop in hormone use starting in July 2002.
The heaviest users of hormone therapy were women in affluent places like Marin County, where high breast cancer rates had long troubled women and researchers. Women in those areas also largely abandoned the treatments after the 2002 report and their cancer rates declined accordingly, Dr. Clarke said. Dr. Marcia Stefanick, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and chairwoman of the steering committee for the Women's Health Initiative, said she found the hormone argument persuasive and felt it helped clear up the mystery in Marin County. "Everyone kept saying, What is it? What's in the environment?" she said. Now, she said, it is becoming clear. "The best explanation is hormone therapy." >>>> SOURCE
Laugh and the world DOES laugh with you...
If you see two people laughing at a joke you didn't hear, chances are you will smile anyway--even if you don't realize it. According to a new study, laughter truly is contagious: the brain responds to the sound of laughter and preps the muscles in the face to join in the mirth. "It seems that it's absolutely true that 'laugh and the whole world laughs with you,'" said Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at the University College London. "We've known for some time that when we are talking to someone, we often mirror their behavior, copying the words they use and mimicking their gestures. Now we've shown that the same appears to apply to laughter, too--at least at the level of the brain."
Scott and her fellow researchers played a series of sounds to volunteers and measured the responses in their brain with an fMRI scanner. Some sounds, like laughter or a triumphant shout, were positive, while others, like screaming or retching, were negative. All of the sounds triggered responses in the premotor cortical region of the brain, which prepares the muscles in the face to move in a way that corresponds to the sound. The response was much higher for positive sounds, suggesting they are more contagious than negative sounds-which could explain our involuntary smiles when we see people laughing.
The team also tested the movement of facial muscles when the sounds were played and found that people tended to smile when they heard laughter, but didn't make a gagging face when they heard retching sounds, Scott said. She attributes this response to the desire to avoid negative emotions and sounds. "We usually encounter positive emotions, such as laughter or cheering, in group situations, whether watching a comedy program with family or a football game with friends," Scott said. "This response in the brain, automatically priming us to smile or laugh, provides a way or mirroring the behavior of others, something which helps us interact socially. It could play an important role in building strong bonds between individuals in a group." >>>> SOURCE >>>>
Vegetarians are smarter...
Frequently dismissed as cranks, their fussy eating habits tend to make them unpopular with dinner party hosts and guests alike. But now it seems they may have the last laugh, with research showing vegetarians are more intelligent than their meat-eating friends.
A study of thousands of men and women revealed that those who stick to a vegetarian diet have IQs that are around five points higher than those who regularly eat meat. Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers say it isn't clear why veggies are brainier, but admit the fruit and veg-rich vegetarian diet could somehow boost brain power.
The researchers, from the University of Southampton, tracked the fortunes of more than 8,000 volunteers for 20 years. At the age of ten, the boys and girls took a series of IQ tests. When they reached the age of 30, they were asked whether they were vegetarian, and their answers compared to their childhood IQ score. Around four and a half per cent of the adults were vegetarian--a figure
that is broadly in line with that found in the general population. However, further analysis of the results showed those who were brainiest as children were more likely to have become vegetarian as adults, shunning both meat and fish.
The typical adult veggie had a childhood IQ of around 105--around five points higher than those who continued to eat meat as they grew up. The vegetarians were also more likely to have gained degrees and hold down high-powered jobs.
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