Author: donna

An Apple a Day Can Make One Happier and Healthier

Posted on Aug 28, 2015 by No Comments

If you could find one pill that would help keep you from feeling down, could help control your appetite, lower your cholesterol, help build muscle, improve your memory, and boost your immune system, would you take it?

It turns out we don’t need a pill because nature already offers all those benefits in one fruit – the apple.

We’ve heard the idiom, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” since our childhood, and it turns out that according to several studies there is wisdom in the old saying.

First of all they are rich in fiber and help to normalize bowel movements, but according to the Mayo Clinic this one fruit does much more. It helps lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar, and helps us to achieve a healthy weight.

In a 2013 study titled “Many apples a day keep the blues away—daily experiences of negative and positive affect and food consumption in young adults” conducted at the University of Otago in New Zealand, participants were asked to evaluate their feelings and record them in a diary every night for 21 days. They were also asked specific questions about what they had eaten each day. On days when more fruits and vegetables were consumed, they reported feeling happier, calmer, and more energetic. Eating that apple can work to enhance your mood.

In a 2012 study conducted at Ohio State University, researchers discovered that eating one apple each day for four weeks, greatly lowered participants’ oxidized LDL levels. Lead researcher Robert DiSilvestro explains the importance of this finding. “When LDL becomes oxidized, it takes on a form that begins atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.”

An animal study conducted in 2012 at Cornell University found quercetin, an antioxidant found in apple skin, helped prevent oxidative stress, which damages brain tissues and is associated with neurodegenerative disorders. According the C.Y. Lee, the study leader, apples “may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer’s.”

The apple really is a powerhouse that packs a nutritious punch to ward off many of the chronic health conditions society struggles with today. I’ve added this tasty fruit back in to my daily diet as I fight high cholesterol.

I’m not planning to get new blood work done for three months, but according to the results of the Ohio State study, it only took four weeks to lower oxidized LDL by 40 percent.

Photo credits: pixabay

Members of One Direction Going Different Directions

Posted on Aug 28, 2015 by No Comments

The chart-topping boy band One Direction has decided to take some time off from each other. Some reports use the word disband and others use the term hiatus, and the word breakup is being bandied about.

No matter what you call it, the group which features Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan, has agreed they will be taking at least 12 months off in order to have time to pursue their own solo projects.

Breakup rumors have been spreading for a while now, and on Aug. 24, One Direction’s Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson tweeted that the group would be taking a “well-earned break at some point next year,” but according to Horan they are not “splitting up.”

Needless to say, even news of a temporary breakup, break, hiatus, or whatever you want to call it, stunned the groups’ loyal fans. However, this isn’t a decision that happened over night.

Julian Bunetta, the songwriter and producer behind many of the group’s biggest hits says that the band’s upcoming fifth album was recorded with all four members knowing it would be their last for a while.

One Direction has been together for five years now, and according to reports will officially disband or take a break in March. This means their last full concert will be the one scheduled in Sheffield at the end of October.

I understand they can use a break and want to have some time to work on solo projects, but the timing of it seems a bit odd, don’t you think? Why would they take a break when they have another album coming out?

I guess time will tell. According to a source, “They fully deserve to have at least a year to work on their own projects. There is absolutely no bad blood between them and they are all 100 percent behind the decision.”

I just wonder how they’ll all feel about coming back together in a year or so, especially if some of them see success as solo artists. Harry already has something lined up with Sony, and the rest of the guys are expected to start negotiations in the near future.

For now, One Direction is heading in different directions.

Photo credits: Clevver News

Star Trek Omaze Offers Chance for Walk-on Role

Posted on Aug 27, 2015 by No Comments

As a Star Trek fan, I was sad to see Leonard Nimoy pass away last February at age 83. I’d actually had the privilege to hear him speak years ago.

At the time he talked about the challenges of performing in front of a green screen. He wasn’t just interesting, he was friendly. He talked to fans like we mattered; in fact, like we were friends. So it was with warm affection that I viewed a touching tribute to the late actor performed by the “Star Trek Beyond” cast.

The video is more than a tribute though, it offers a chance for you and a friend to win a walk-on role in the next movie and is part of the “Star Trek Beyond” Omaze campaign which is raising money for nine charities chosen by the film’s cast and crew.

As part of that initiative, Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in “Star Trek Beyond,” talks of Nimoy’s “love for the human spirit shone through everything he did,” and how “he touched lives around the world and [that] he is greatly missed.”

In the video, he encourages fans to support a cause Nimoy had been “passionate about ” — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The tribute concludes with “Star Trek Beyond” cast members raising their hands in the live-long-and-prosper Vulcan salute Nimoy made famous. If you’re a Star Trek fan, the tribute is definitely worth watching and if you want to do more, you can make a donation.

Donations to the “Star Trek Beyond” Omaze campaign will be accepted through Sept. 1. Depending on the amount contributed, donors may receive exclusive Star Trek merchandise including collectibles like “authentic Spock ears.”

And from the pool of donors, one lucky fan will be chosen to appear in “Star Trek Beyond” which is scheduled to be released next summer. For more information visit the Omaze website.

Photo credits: Omaze

Looks Don’t Always Matter According to Science

Posted on Aug 26, 2015 by No Comments

What attracts you to someone? Is it their eyes? Physique? Their sense of humor? While many of us think physical attributes are a big part of the draw, it turns out that a new study finds that looks don’t play the important role we might think they do.

This study looked at 167 couples who had been together from 3 months to 38 years. Researchers evaluated each participant’s attractiveness using scientific rating scales and compared the results with their significant others’.

Results showed couples who hooked up right after they met matched in attractiveness, while couples who took their time and were happy to be “friends” who went on casual dates before making the move to a more serious relationship were more mismatched in terms of looks.

The study revealed that our perception of attractiveness actually changes once we get to know someone.

“Having more time to get acquainted may allow other factors, such as another person’s compatibility as a relationship partner, to make that person appealing in ways that outshine more easily observable characteristics such as physical attractiveness.” — Lucy Hunt, a researcher at the University of Texas.

I know this is a new study, but I’m not sure this isn’t something we’ve known all along. I mean think back to Jack Black in the 2001 movie Shallow Hal, in which a shallow man falls in love with a 300 pound woman because of her “inner beauty”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one to look up on Netflix!

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and the longer we know someone, the more attractive (or unattractive) they can become, because when you spend time with someone you get to know them from the inside out.

The idiom we’ve used for centuries to describe this phenomenon is: “You kind of grew on me.” It dates back to the 1700s.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Shannen Doherty Fighting Invasive Breast Cancer

Posted on Aug 26, 2015 by No Comments

Actress Shannen Doherty is known by most of us from her days on Beverly Hills 90210 which aired more than 20 years ago, and later as Pru on the popular TV show Charmed.

The 44-year-old actress has enjoyed a successful career. But right now she is facing a health crisis. In an exclusive interview with Today Health and Wellness, she announced that she is fighting an invasive form of breast cancer. She said, “Yes, I have breast cancer, and I am currently undergoing treatment.”

While she has now gone public with her condition, the fact that she had cancer actually came to light in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, August 19, in court documents. Those court papers say that she discovered she had invasive breast cancer last March and that it had spread during a time when she was uninsured.

These documents are related to a lawsuit against the business management firm of Tanner Mainstain. In them, Doherty maintains that it was Tanner Mainstain’s job to ensure timely payment of her medical insurance premiums through the Screen Actors Guild. However when they received the invoice they failed to pay it.

Plus, they failed to let her know that they didn’t pay it. At that time, she was uninsured and didn’t know it. The following February they terminated their relationship with the actress, and she was still unaware that she was not insured.

Her complaint deals with the fact that if she had been insured she’d have been able to visit her doctor and the cancer could have potentially been stopped and  “thus obviating the need for the future treatment (including mastectomy and chemotherapy) that Plaintiff will likely have to suffer through now.”

Doherty re-enrolled with AG insurance for 2015 and began doctor visits this year, and that’s when she received the cancer diagnosis. Her complaints against Tanner Mainstain go deeper than the cancellation of her health insurance, but that one item will affect the rest of her life.

For now, she is eating right, exercising and trying to stay positive about life.

Photo credits: tetsuorocks

Hormonal Kelly Clarkson Announces “I’m Totally Pregnant”

Posted on Aug 25, 2015 by No Comments

Singer Kelly Clarkson made a surprise announcement during her show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on August 19 – that’s she’s “totally pregnant.

It wasn’t just a surprise to her fans. From my understanding, her husband didn’t know yet either. For this reason the “Since U Been Gone” singer hadn’t planned on letting the audience in on her news just yet. But her hormones got the best of her and she broke down while introducing her song “Piece by Piece” – a song about her relationship with her dad.

She didn’t want to the crowd to think she was crazy and so she blurted out, “I’m totally pregnant again.” The crowd cheered long and hard.

She stood on the stage with a great big smile wearing a sparkly black dress, and after things calmed down a bit, she said, “That was not planned. I just didn’t want you to think I was crazy. Honestly I’m just hormonal today. Nothing’s wrong I’m OK. I haven’t vomited yet!”

I’ve always enjoyed how “real” Clarkson is on and off the stage. She is one of those what-you-see-is-what-you-get personalities and she loves being a mom to her daughter River Rose who was born in July of 2014, and stepchildren, Seth and Savannah.

Like fellow American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood, Clarkson travels with her baby and supportive husband at her side. This will be Clarkson’s second child with husband Brandon Blackstock, who she married in October of 2013.

After making the unexpected announcement, she later apologized to her hubby for breaking the news to thousands of people before revealing the exciting news to their extended family.

While it wasn’t expected, it sure will be memorable and one of those pregnancy stories that is sure to follow baby number two throughout life.

Congratulations to Kelly, Brandon, and the rest of the family.

Photo credits: Shine On Media

Is the Paleo Diet Bad for Your Brain?

Posted on Aug 24, 2015 by No Comments

I haven’t tried the Paleo diet, not because it doesn’t sound good, but because a diet that cuts out food groups is hard for me to sustain. In this case, that may be a good thing as research starts to catch up with the craze.

A paper published in The Quarterly Review of Biology proposes that “plant foods containing high quantities of starch were essential for the evolution of the human phenotype during the Pleistocene [period]” and are still crucial for brain health today.

The researchers responsible for this paper acknowledge that a meat-based diet was crucial to the caveman’s brain development, but they also argue that starchy carbohydrates also played a necessary role in meeting the needs of the growing brain – specifically cooked starches. That’s because cooked starches increased energy reserves through glucose, which in turn advances brain development and red blood cells.

The scientific theory behind this line of thinking is that our bodies start to convert starch to glucose in our mouths where our saliva provides an enzyme called amylase.

Amylase breaks down starches most effectively when they are cooked. And so, with the invention of fire, researchers suggest our bodies needed more amylase. This promoted genetic mutations that created extra amylase which helped our ancestors survive and thrive…and gave them bigger brains.

I’m thinking this research requires a measure of faith – not in science but in theories because when science can’t be proved, it’s not really science in my book. It’s just theory and in this case I feel like it’s a stretch to try and get to a predetermined conclusion.

Even the researchers of this study concluded that “testing this hypothesis will require a convergence of information from archeology, genetics, and human physiology. Despite a number of high-profile studies on the amylase gene cluster, it is becoming clear that the locus remains incompletely characterized, that published estimates of AMY1 CNV are problematic, and that the structural nature of that CNV is more complex than previously thought.”

That’s a pretty fancy way of saying we need to learn more to reach a real conclusion.

In the meantime, studies offer us a lot of good information, but sometimes I feel like the conflicting information just makes things confusing and discouraging.

When that happens, I say go back to basics. Choose to eat a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet which has proven to improve brain health along with a ton of other benefits.

Photo credits: amenclinicsphotos ac

Veteran Fights to Regain Custody After Being Deployed

Posted on Aug 24, 2015 by No Comments

Amanda Hurst, mom of two, left her children in the care of her stepmother back in 2009 when she joined the Army and was deployed overseas for four years.

She served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and when she returned home, she learned she had a new battle to fight – one to get custody of her own children.

When Hurst went into the service, she was still married to her second husband who is also the father of her children. They lived together at her first duty station, until she was deployed to Iraq in 2009.

While she was in Iraq, she was notified about a “family situation” that involved her husband and she returned home on emergency leave. Her husband was deemed unstable, was in and out of jail, and she had two weeks to decide who would be responsible for her children while she finished her deployment.

At the time, her best option seemed to be to let the kids remain in the temporary care of her stepmom before returning to Iraq. However, while in Iraq she learned she would be redeployed to Afghanistan within the year.

As a single mom, she decided to stay in the military because it was a way to provide for her kids who stayed with her stepmom for the whole time “because they needed stability.”

Then the unthinkable happened between that time and Hurst’s return home in 2013.

Her stepmom became estranged from some family members. She moved to New Jersey and took the children with her without legal permission. There, they were found to need emergency mental-health services due to extreme behavioral issues and they ended up in foster care where they remain today.

Hurst’s children are now ages 13 and 14. The Florida military veteran told her local news that she wants her kids back. “I want to be with my kids. I’ve missed so much of their lives serving my country that I don’t want to miss any more.”

Judges in both Florida and New Jersey agree that the kids should be with their mom, but like everything government, it seems bureaucracy overrules common sense as everyone waits for the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to agree to provide the same type of services the kids are receiving in New Jersey. But instead of agreeing to the services, Florida’s DCF has filed paperwork to challenge the ruling.

While all this goes on, Hurst is waiting to be reunited with her kids.

Photo credits: ZoneMedia

Where We Stand in the Fight Against Unhealthy Fats

Posted on Aug 21, 2015 by No Comments

To understand where we stand in the fight against unhealthy fats, the first thing that has to be determined is which fats are unhealthy.

The reason I say that is that we’ve been nutritionally backpedaling from low-fat models that labeled fat as a bad thing; especially in foods like eggs, red meat, full-fat dairy, and of course trans fats.

As we’ve moved away from the low-fat-no-fat approach to eating, we’ve learned to increase healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like those found in avocados, almonds and olive oil, but we’ve still stayed away from saturated fats which were thought to increase our risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

I often wondered about this because my grandparents farmed and they ate saturated fat all the time and lived an active life into their 80s. In fact, a good amount of the forbidden foods list made it into their daily diet including fresh eggs gathered each day.

Now according to a new study, those saturated fats we’ve avoided aren’t linked to an increase risk in heart disease or type 2 diabetes after all. However, the artificial trans fats found in processed foods are still bad for us. In fact, the FDA has announced a plan to eliminate all trans fats from store shelves by 2018.

This study isn’t giving us the green light to eat full fat dairy or fried food, yet. According to the study’s author, Russell de Souza, Scd, an assistant professor of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, Canada, more research on fats is required.

He points to the fact that we have a large amount of evidence which shows negative effects associated with excess saturated fat in the diet. With conflicting results from the research world, he says, that no one nutrient or food is responsible for all heart disease, diabetes, or death but that “the whole diet matters.”

This is the crux of it in my opinion. In our Western culture, most of us eat in excess…whatever we’re eating. Souza says, that good health is as much about what we eat as what we don’t.

When I heard this I thought “seconds”. How many of us eat seconds when we aren’t really hungry? The key is to opt for reasonable portions of a varied diet that includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and very little refined starches, sugars, and processed trans fats.

Photo credits: pixabay