Monthly Archives: September 2010

If the mind is strong, the body will follow

 Maintaining a strong connection between mind and physical activity is a crucial part of living a healthy, fit lifestyle. The following are workout tips from exercise advocates.
 
WORKOUT YOUR WILLPOWER: It doesn’t matter where you fall on the fitness spectrum, willpower is needed to start making changes, as well as maintaining your good habits. Willpower, or mental stamina, is like a muscle: with repetition our capacity for it can be increased.
 
DON’T BORE YOUR BODY OR YOUR MIND: It’s easy to fall into a rut. Doing the same exercises every day make muscles become more efficient and not burn as many calories as an activity you’re not accustomed to.

Variety is important for staying at the top of your game. Changing your activities will help increase the number of calories you burn and keep your attitude fresh. Try switching your routine with a cross-trainer or give the dual adjustable pulley machine a try. Try a day of intervals on the treadmill instead of your usual pace.
 
NO MORE ALL-OR-NOTHING: Just because you aren’t able to set aside enough time for an extensive workout doesn’t mean you should skip that day altogether.
Aim to maintain a realistic, happy medium when it comes to fitness goals. Have options, plans and backup plans for fitting in exercise.

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FDA warns companies about mouthwash products

The Food and Drug Administration has warned three companies that market mouth-rinse products to stop making unsupported claims that they remove plaque and promote healthy gums, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune.

The claims suggest the products are effective in preventing gum disease when no such benefit has been proven, the FDA said Tuesday.

The agency said warning letters were sent to Johnson & Johnson, maker of Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash, and to two drugstore giants — CVS Corp., which sells CVS Complete Care Anticavity Mouthwash, and Walgreen Co., which sells Walgreen Mouth Rinse Full Action.

The letters are the latest in a stream of warnings issued to food and drug producers by the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission since President Barack Obama took office dealing with unsubstantiated health benefits on labels and in advertising.

 “We’ve got a much more aggressive FDA and FTC, there’s no question about it,” said John Villafranco, a Washington attorney who specializes in advertising and consumer protection issues.

Under U.S. law, a company cannot assert that a product is effective in treating a disease unless the claim has been approved by the FDA, or the active ingredient has been generally recognized as safe and effective for the claim.

All three mouthwashes cited contain as their active ingredient sodium fluoride, which prevents cavities, but which the FDA has not found to be effective in removing plaque or preventing gum disease.

In the case of Walgreen, the company has claimed that its Mouth Rinse Full Action “helps fight visible plaque above the gum line.”

Rinsing does disrupt plaque, but the effect is similar with plain water or mouthwash, said Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and assistant professor of health policy at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine.

“It’s the act of rinsing. Sodium fluoride doesn’t remove plaque,” Shenkin said.

By making an unproven medical claim, Walgreen essentially positioned its mouthwash as a new drug, for which  tests to prove safety and effectiveness would be required, according to the FDA letter to the company.

A Walgreen spokesman said that “we are committed to working with the FDA on this matter and will be responding to their letter accordingly.”

Higher tax on alcohol could reduce booze-related illness, crime

Alcohol abuse is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and it contributes to countless diseases, car crashes, injuries, and crimes.

How can we solve these thorny problems? Making booze more expensive might be a good start, a new study suggests, according to Health.com.

Doubling the current state taxes on alcohol — which would tack on as much as 50 cents to the price of the average six-pack or bottle of wine — could be expected to reduce alcohol-related deaths by 35 percent, fatal car crashes by 11 percent, and the rates of sexually transmitted disease by 6 percent, according to the study.

Higher taxes on booze would also lead to 2 percent less violence and 1.4 percent less crime, the researchers estimate.
 
Even a slight decrease in drinking could have a large impact on public health. If millions of people living in an area consumed half a drink less per week, on average, the small differences in alcohol intake — and intoxication — could lead to big drops in overall injury and death rates.

There is some evidence that raising taxes can reduce unhealthy behaviors, even for people who are addicts. Increased taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products have been shown to reduce smoking rates and influence heavy smokers to cut back or quit.

 Alcohol abuse has been linked to an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, stroke, depression, and some cancers, in addition to causing the impaired judgment that leads to risky sexual behavior and drunk driving.

Sara Markowitz, Ph.D., an associate professor of economics at Emory University, says that even small increases in the price of alcohol are likely to result in measurable gains in public health and safety.

California city irked about leaf blowers’ noise, pollution

After years of debating a ban on leaf blowers, the city of Newport Beach, Cal., is, well, debating it some more, according to the Daily Pilot, the newspaper serving Newport Beach, a high-end community with many multi-million dollar homes.

The city announced Thursday an online poll to gauge residents and business owners’ take on the matter. Options on the survey range from a ban on gas-powered blowers to some sort of restriction on the quieter electric-powered leaf blowers, as well as restricted hours of use.

Most people who complain about leaf blowers cite noise or how they stir up harmful particles in the air. Others say it’s a cost-effective way to keep landscaping clean. And at the heart of the debate is the question of the government’s role in regulating environmental impacts.

“I hear this motor long after it’s gone,” said Granville resident Carole Wade. “It’s always in your head. It’s just so loud.”

The survey is a result of years of residents’ complaints that culminated in a February City Council session about leaf blowers. Residents made suggestions at the meeting and registered their gripes.

“There are some issues that you continuously get comments about, even when they’re on the back-burner,” said Councilwoman Nancy Gardner, a member of the Environmental Quality Affairs Committee, “and leaf blowers are No. 1.”

Gardner estimates that for every e-mail message she gets defending blowers she gets 10 messages opposing them.

One of the issues the city is considering is the economic impact of a ban: Would it burden gardeners who couldn’t rake leaves fast enough to be profitable? Would the cost get passed onto residents and business owners and be too much to bear?

“I don’t think any of us want to put a bunch of gardeners out of business,” Gardner said. “They don’t have that cushion.”

People who hire gardeners also have a stake in the debate — the homeowners associations and property managers. The city is contacting them to get their response to a potential ban, Gardner said.

Battling cellulite no easy task

You can’t do much about these deposits of fat and waste products that dimple the skin on your thighs and buttocks, but you can do something, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune:

• Lose extra pounds. Yes, thin people can get cellulite. But extra fat in the body tends to increase dimpling and lumpiness.

• Eat well. Along with plenty of water, a low-fat diet that’s high in fiber and complex carbohydrates — fruits, vegetables and whole grains — helps flush out waste.

• Try massage. Some people say kneading cellulite for a few minutes a day can stimulate the flow of blood and other fluids that break down waste.

• Be wary of “miracle” products. There is little to no scientific evidence that cellulite creams are effective.

 • Exercise problem spots. All workouts are great, but ask a trainer about specific moves that target your legs and butt.

• Stop smoking. Studies have found a link between cigarettes and cellulite. One reason is that smoking weakens skin. You can also try cutting down on alcohol, coffee and soda.

• Talk to a doctor. If cellulite really bothers you, laser treatments might be able to help.

Scale tells only part of the fat-loss story

Most people make the mistake of only using the scale to see if their fat loss program is working. The scale does not tell you the whole story. It will not tell you if you are replacing fat with muscle. It will not tell you if you are losing valuable water, muscle, or fat, according to the website onlineheathnews.com.

Ideally you should use a one site skin fold caliper kit. It is very quick, easy, and consistently accurate. Within one minute you will know your overall body fat percentage, fat weight, and lean body mass. Armed with this information you will be able to really tell if your fitness program is working.

If you are reluctant to use a skin fold caliper kit, at least use a tape measure and a scale.

A measurement around your waistline and a scale weight can let you know more than just using the scale. If the scale stays the same, but your waistline is less, then you know that you have gained muscle and lost fat. It’s not as precise as a skin fold caliper kit, but it is much better than just using a scale.

Morning sickness improves over time

 Treatments for morning sickness, the nausea and vomiting experienced by up to 80 percent of pregnant women, are plentiful, from using acupuncture or eating ginger to taking vitamin B6.

But the evidence that any of these treatments work is limited, according to a new review.

”There’s no strong evidence about any treatment for morning sickness,” researcher Anne Matthews, RN, PHD, a registered midwife at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland, told WebMD.

She and her colleagues looked at the results of 27 trials involving 4,041 women taking a range of treatments.

The bright spot about morning sickness?

“It usually improves over time,” Matthews said.

The review was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The Cochrane Reviews bring together research on health care and are viewed as the ”gold standard” for determining how effective different treatments are.

But Matthews and other doctors who reviewed the study said it can’t hurt to try treatments that are safe, and that they may help some women.

Morning sickness is a misnomer, Matthews said, as it can occur any time of the day or night. It typically occurs mainly in the first trimester, from the 6th to the 12th week of pregnancy, but can last longer.