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Study Reveals Correlation Between Diet Soda and Heart Disease

Posted on Apr 16, 2014 by No Comments

Trying to lose unwanted pounds or to maintain a healthy weight is challenge enough, but it seems with every study it becomes more challenging.

One recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual session shows that older women who drink two or more diet drinks a day are 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or another “dangerous” cardiovascular event. It also reveals that those women are 50 percent more likely to die as a result of the event, too.

I’m not a big diet drink person because I try not to consume a bunch of artificial sweeteners. I have a basic health rule. I can have a few cups of coffee or tea (unsweetened) but for the most part, until I drink my 64 ounces of water, nothing else is “allowed.” Not that I follow that rule like it is set in stone, but it is more a lifestyle choice.

This latest study was a big one and encourages me to stay on the dietary road of chosen. The researchers looked at almost 60,000 women ages 50-79. The lead investigator, Ankur Vyas, a fellow of cardiovascular diseases at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Cincs, said, “Our findings are in line with and extend data from previous studies.”

However, it is important to note this study doesn’t go so far as to say that the diet drinks “cause” the heart disease. Instead, it shows there is a correlation between drinking the diet drinks and heart disease. It is not evidence that one causes the other, but I tend to lean to the side of caution.

This news comes on the heels of a decline in diet soda consumption. According to the Wall Street Journal, Diet Coke sales dropped by 6.8 in 2013 and Diet Pepsi fell by 6.9 percent. I think with all the various studies that talk about potential negative effects of artificial sweeteners, more of us are consuming them less or not at all.

And I’m not saying turn to sugar, either! But that’s a story for another article.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Animal Planet’s “River Monsters” Most Watched

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 by No Comments

Every once in a while, a TV show does better than expected and takes everyone by surprise. This season’s premiere of Animal Planet’s “River Monster” is one of those surprises. Statistics show that last Sunday’s show turned out to be the most watched premiere in the network’s history.

If you’ve never watched the show, it centers around extreme angler, Jeremy Wade, and the deadly fish he catches. I mean, he pulls things out of the water fitting of a horror movie that makes you never want to go back into the water. Yet, for some reason, we sit and watch to see the next monster.

On the 6th, the show reeled in 1.7 million viewers during the two-hour premiere of the show’s sixth season.

Along with being one of the largest audiences ever to watch an Animal Planet season premiere, “River Monsters” also ranked as the most watched premiere in network history within the key demographics: 975,000 in the adults 18 to 49 category and 639,000 in the males 18 to 49 demographic.

Along with the viewers who watched the show itself, “River Monsters” also introduced its first live aftershow with Jeremy Wade at ll:00 p.m. ET. The aftershow drew one million total viewers and cited an 85 percent increase in Twitter activity over the season five premiere.

The show investigated stories of a creature rumored to swallow men whole; a fresh-water monster said to be the largest such predator in the world. He also searched for a fish rumored to have killed up to 200 passengers on a sinking river boat.

Along with “River Monsters”, 58-year-old Jeremy Wade is also a British television presenter and author of books on angling. He’s an adventurer whose been fishing since he was 7 or 8 years old and it translates in his on-screen personality.

He’s exciting to watch and entertaining at the same time. Last season he even let an eel-like lamprey suck blood from his neck! The record-breaking viewership shows he’s doing something right!

Photo credits: wikipedia

Corset Diet Is Really Not a Diet

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 by 1 Comment

What is being called the corset diet is all the rage. Women are squeezing into these tight fitting under garments in hopes of getting a smaller waistline.

This extreme slimming trend has nothing to do with diet, other than the fact that you may eat less when your insides are all squished and compressed. It reminds me of scenes from 100 years ago when women held on to the bedpost while someone tightened the corset for an unrealistic hourglass figure.

I’ve never had a small waistline for my size. It’s one of those elusive, “I wish I had…” kind of things. So when I saw there was a diet that can take 3-6 inches off your waist I was interested, until I saw that it really wasn’t a diet after all. It’s really corset training, and it’s even done under the care of a doctor!

Women who are tired of trying and failing to get a smaller waist through dieting and exercise are turning to “corset training.” One woman I saw interviewed actually said her goal is to have a “tiny waistline like a Barbie doll.” She already had a 26″ waist but was going for 23″ and her doctor said that it is a realistic goal. Makes me wonder what she’s paying for his help.

Wearing a corset is a way to “train” your waist to be smaller without exercise or diet. It compresses the bottom ribs up and in which makes the space between your ribs and hips look smaller. It makes me think of when I take off my wedding ring and how my finger is thinner beneath it because I wear it all the time.

I just can’t imagine wearing a corset all the time, though. However, I bet it could make you uncomfortable enough to eat less so maybe in a way it could be diet.

Photo credits: din_bastet

Diet Supplement OxyElite Pro Linked to Hepatitis

Posted on Apr 9, 2014 by No Comments

OxyElite Pro is a dietary supplement manufactured by USPLabs which claimed to help burn fat. Unfortunately, as of February this popular supplement has been linked to almost 100 cases of hepatitis in 16 states. Of these cases, 47 people were hospitalized, three need liver transplants, and one person died.

This is bad news for all who took this dietary supplement, and a good reminder that not all supplements are safe. The thing that makes situations like this even worse is that people started getting sick last May, but the Food and Drug Administration didn’t learn about these early cases until four months later after doctors reported a group of liver illnesses in Hawaii.

USPLabs stopped selling OxyElite Pro in October. That’s six months from the time it was known that people were getting sick – that’s a long time for people to be unaware of the problem.

So before we point fingers at the FDA for not doing their job, it’s important to understand that the FDA regulates supplements only after they come to market, so companies are not required to prove their products are safe and/or effective before they are marketed to the public.

In the case of OxyElite Pro, health officials suspect the cause of the liver disease may be linked to a new ingredient in the supplement called aegeline.

Supplements deemed dangerous are supposed to be identified and removed from the marketplace quickly, but the fact that it took the FDA months to learn about the hepatitis outbreak tells you something about the system is not working.

Doctors can report adverse effects related to dietary supplements through an online portal called MedWatch, but in most cases, the FDA doesn’t receive reports regarding harmful effects of supplements. Instead, those cases might be reported elsewhere such as a poison control center.

Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance has proposed a couple of changes:

  1. All dietary supplements should be registered
  2. Information about supplements and their ingredients should be incorporated into a database maintained by the FDA and poison centers

With such a database, adverse reactions to supplement would be reported to a response team composed of doctors, toxicologists, pharmacologists, and chemists. However, Cohen admits improved monitoring isn’t enough and suggests that Congress should make changes in the law regulating supplements so all ingredients undergo safety testing before they are consumed by the public.

Photo credits: Andrews & Thornton

Mork and Mindy Together Again After 30 Years

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 by 2 Comments

I confess, I was a “Mork and Mindy” fan. Hard to believe that sitcom was on from 1978-82. It was the show that made Robin William’s career take off as he played a wacky alien from Ork. He lived on earth with a sassy girl, Mindy, played by actress Pam Dawber.

Now after 30 years, the two are teaming up again on Williams’ new CBS comedy, “The Crazy Ones” next Thursday, April 10, at 9:30 when Dawber guest stars as Lily, Simon (Williams) new love interest. It will be fun to see the two of them work together again in another comedy.

Dawber admits that they worked well together on “Mork and Mindy” but she wasn’t always thrilled to play the straight man to Williams’ outrageous funny-man presence. Next to him, she felt “boring.” That goes to show you the difference in perception. People like me in the audience thought she was great and I loved her hair!

And let’s face it, without her “straight-man” part, Mork’s humor wouldn’t have worked like it did. Little by little, their working relationship grew to form a chemistry on film that made the show a hit and Dawber relaxed a little. So it will be fun to see the two of them work together again after all these years. Rumor has it that they had a lot of fun together in the “Crazy Ones” episode.

In real life, Dawber is married to “NCIS” star Mark Harmon. They married in 1987 and have two sons together. In 1989, Dawber started in “My Sister Sam” on  CBS, but after just two seasons, “Sam” co-star Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a demented fan. Dawber decided to take a step back from Hollywood and concentrate on family. Now she’s ready to return to the small screen with the “Crazy Ones.”

Photo credits: Dawberfan

Jessica Simpson Slips Back into Her Daisy Dukes

Posted on Apr 2, 2014 by 1 Comment

Jessica Simpson played Daisy Duke in the 2005 Dukes of Hazard. That scene in the bar with those legs is etched into the memory of tons of guys as well as girls who could only wish they looked like that. To say she was famous for her figure is an understatement.

When you think about it, that’s a hard thing to live up to, because when you’re weight changes the public can be rather unforgiving.

I’ll never forget seeing her on TV at a football game in which her then boyfriend, Tony Romo of the Cowboys, was playing. Somehow Simpson became the scapegoat for the worst game of his life. Fans were ugly and some started talking about her weight. She wasn’t “fat” but she wasn’t Daisy Duke.

Can you imagine trying to live up to that image?

Life moved on for her and when she became pregnant with her daughter Maxwell her weight skyrocketed. When she stepped on the scales at her first Weight Watcher’s meeting she couldn’t believe how much she had gained.

Just about the time she started to drop some of that weight, she found out she was pregnant with her son. She stayed more active during her second pregnancy and only gained half the weight she had gained with her first pregnancy.

Since the birth of her son, we’ve all seen a slimming Jessica on the Weight Watcher’s commercials. She’s reached her goal weight, and I for one am happy for her. She is a real person, but in her case she is still compared to her Daisy Duke role of a decade ago.

No matter who you are, there’s a difference in how you look at 23 versus 33! And having kids does make changes to your figure. However, with all that, she was caught out and about in a pair of Daisy Dukes last weekend, and her legs look great! Way to go Jessica!

Photo credits: Joshua Trend

Beauty Products that May Cause Cancer!

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 by 5 Comments

Over the weekend, one of the news segments warned about parabens in our makeup and skincare products causing cancer. Parabens? I looked it up and found this isn’t a new issue.

Parabens are relatively inexpensive preservatives used to prevent the growth of microbes in our cosmetics. The concern is that they can be absorbed through the skin (also through the blood and digestive system as they are added to some foods, too). This, added to the fact that parabens have been found in biopsies from breast tumors at about the same rate they are found in such products is a big red flag.

It seems at every turn there’s another warning about things causing cancer, and part of me wants to run to the all natural solution. You know; back to the good old days, but what does that mean? Have I ever lived in the good old days when it comes to these kinds of issues?

The most common parabens found in cosmetics include the following chemicals: ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. They are often included in personal care products which are made using significant amounts of water like lotions, shampoos, conditioners, facials, and other products.

One of the biggest concerns is that parabens disrupt hormone function, which is also linked to increased risk of breast cancer. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. They also boost gene expression which is usually controlled by estradiol (a form of estrogen). These genes are responsible for the growth and multiplication of human breast tumor cells in cellular studies.

So as I listened to the doctor talking about these things on the news, her vocabulary and ability to communicate the concerns impressed me. She explained the research and then concluded with the fact that the risk is minimal when these products are used in small amounts. It reminded me of the joke about saliva causing cancer but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.

While I’ve just heard about parabens, this controversy is not new. Companies are coming up with preservative-free products, but they have a shorter shelf life. In the meantime, I have to decide once again what to do based on the information I have.

Photo credits: sanberdoo

Latest Celebrity Diet Craze Primal and Clean

Posted on Mar 26, 2014 by No Comments

I’m not one to jump in with both feet to join the latest celebrity diet craze, but I’d make an exception this time. Not because it’s a quick weight loss plan but because it’s a return to common-sense healthy choices.

In the past, we’ve seen Beyonce drop 20 pounds fast on her Lemonade Diet, Britney Spears and others on the HCG diet, and other such fads. While such approaches do result in quick weight loss, they don’t really equip us with what we need and want – like how to keep the weight off and maintain good health.

The current diet craze doesn’t require fasting, drinking specialized lemonade drinks with cayenne pepper, sprinkling a magic potion on our food, or severely restricting calorie intake. Instead, the latest celebrity craze is a return to whole foods combined with limiting the intake of processed foods.

Diaz has written a book titled The Body Book, and in it she says, “…there is no goal to reach in 7 days or 30 days or 365 days. The goal here is forever. And what you will earn is measured not in pounds or inches lost, but in what you will gain.”

Cameron Diaz admits it’s not about cutting out entire food groups or sticking to an unhealthy low amount of calories. For her, diet basics include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy doses of fats found in animal proteins and vegetables.

While eating whole foods isn’t new, it is being marketed as “new” in Hollywood, and I guess there it is a new concept. It is being labeled with words like “clean eating” and “primal.”

No matter what they call it, I’m just happy to see that Hollywood is turning away from restrictive diets that promote ridiculously low calorie intake, or eliminate whole food groups from your diet. These types of diets only set us up for failure because there’s no way we can eat that way long-term. The end result is yo-yo weight.

I say all this because I’ve done that lemonade diet, and it did work. I even felt great, but once I stopped, the weight came back with a little extra. I’ve done the low calorie thing, too, with success, and it had the same results. The fact that the new craze doesn’t include gimmicks and isn’t touted as a quick fix weight loss approach is refreshing.

I’ve been trying to do this since the first of the year, and Diaz’s book explains the science behind food, nutrition, exercise, and mental health. If you’re looking for a little inspiration and motivation for healthy eating, it’s worth a read.

Photo credits: Amazon

New Study to Look at Health Benefits of Chocolate Pills

Posted on Mar 25, 2014 by 1 Comment

I confess. I’m a lover of chocolate and when I learned about the health benefits associated with dark chocolate, I made the switch from milk chocolate. In fact, I keep a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand and dish out a tablespoon in a little bowl as a healthful treat.

At times I admit, I go back for more, but finding the balance between healthful and too much can be a challenge.

Health benefits associated with eating dark chocolate include lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels, and I’d much rather suck on a handful of chocolate chips than pop pills if I can help it.

But now, there is a study that’s going to take the benefits found in dark chocolate and condense them into a capsule. It won’t taste or smell like chocolate. It will be distilled to concentrated amounts of the bio-active chemicals found in cocoa beans—the flavanols.

This study will involve 18,000 adults in the Boston and Seattle area. Participants will either get the chocolate pills or dummy pills in an effort to see if the benefits of eating cocoa flavanols are consistent with what other studies have shown.

One of the reasons is the high caloric content associated with chocolate. At about 240 calories per serving plus sugar and fat, the pills could offer a healthier alternative.

As I read about this, I couldn’t help but wonder how the test will turn out. Part of me thinks there could be other benefits from actually eating the chocolate that may not be measured in our blood work.

I’ve cut back to sucking on a small amount of chocolate chips because I like chocolate. It may be a small amount, but it’s something I look forward to. For me, it can be kind of soothing and energizing at the same time. For this study, the participants will be consuming cocoa flavanols in an amount equal to five bars of dark chocolate a day! Good thing they won’t contain the caffeine!

While all of this will be monitored and may offer a healthful alternative in the future, the sci-fi lover in me pictures a future where a replicator delivers a dinner plate full of pills instead of actual food. Hopefully, that’s not a reality I see in my lifetime.

Photo credits: Wikimedia