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Nutritional Snippets - Did you know..

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Drink water - help reduce likelihood of kidney stones

New guidelines released from the American College of Physicians indicate that preventing kidney stones may be as simple as drinking more water.

Experts suggest drinking enough fluids to generate two liters of urine daily in order to keep kidney stones at bay. Kidney stones are formed from solid crystals in the urine and increasing the consumption of water dilutes the solids and decreases their abilities to form into stones.

It should be noted that drinking any fluids does not generate the same benefits of drinking water alone. Certain fluids such as sodas, especially those containing phosphoric acid, can actually increase the formation of kidney stones.

Stick with water and consume approximately two liters daily with the goal of generating 2 liters of clear urine daily. If the urine is yellow, you're likely not consuming enough fluids. Of course, the amount of water you consume depends on several different factors, hot climates, exercising etc.

Note: Discuss this with your Doctor, if you have medical conditions precluding you from drinking the suggested amount of water.
 
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What are good sleep habits?

Good sleep habits are often referred to as good sleep hygeine. There are many things that can be done to improve sleep. While most of these are common sense, our lives are very busy and we often don't think about them.

Many people have trouble with their sleep. If you are one of them, some of these simple things may help.

What should I do in the evening?

Try to go to bed at the same time each night. The body has an internal clock and hormones that control sleepiness and wakefulness. This clock works best if there is a regular sleep routine. When working well, you will feel sleepy at bed time. Try not to ignore this by staying up, as this is a window of opportunity for sleep.

Going to bed too early can also disturb your sleep. In the hour before going to bed, it is important to have a relaxing sleep routine. This may include a warm bath, reading quietly or a warm milk drink. Going to the the toilet is important to avoid having to get up in the night.

Are there things that I should not do in the evening?

Caffeine should be avoided for at least 4 hours before going to bed. This isn't just coffee and tea. It is also found in colas and soft drinks. Smoking also makes it difficult to go to sleep, so there should be no cigarettes before going to bed or during the night. Alcohol might help you get to sleep, but it will make it harder to stay asleep. It makes sleep problems like snoring and sleep apnea worse as well.

Activities that are stimulating should be avoided in the hour before bed. This includes moderate exercise, computer games, television, movies and important discussions. Being in brightly lit environments or the blue light of the computer can reduce evening levels of the a sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin.

Don’t fall asleep on the couch during the evening as it reduces your sleep pressure and makes it harder to fall asleep when you go to bed.

What about meals and sleep?

It is important to not be hungry at bedtime. But having a full stomach makes it difficult to sleep. The evening meal should be at least 2 hours before bedtime. Some people find that having a small snack at bedtime helps them to sleep better.

Setting the scene..

The bed must be comfortable. Warmth is important, both the temperature of the room and having enough blankets. Having warm hands and feet is essential. The mattress, pillow and blankets should be comfortable and restful.

There should be no distractions in the bedroom. This may mean removing the television, computer, radio and telephone. If there is a clock in the bedroom, it should be covered to avoid watching clock-watching.

What to do during the day?

One very important thing is to stay out of bed!

Some people use the bedroom as a living room, where they study, watch television, make phone calls and read books. This will make it harder to sleep. The brain will no longer link the bed with sleep. The bedroom should be used for sleeping.

As a rule, exercise is good for sleep, but not just before going to bed. The best times are in the morning and before the evening meal.

Being out in the sun during the day will improve sleep at night. This will help with your body clock and the melatonin levels in the body. It is best to be outside in the early part of the day.

What to do if one can't get to sleep?

Sleep is not something that you can force to happen. If you are not asleep within 20 to 30 minutes of going to bed you should get up. Go to another darkened room and sit quietly. Do not watch television, use a computer, eat, drink or do household chores. When you feel tired again go back to bed. This helps your mind link bed with sleep – not with being unhappy and not sleeping.

Do not look at the clock because no matter what time it is you will have an emotional reaction. Rest is good – it does not have to be sleep.

What if I can’t shut off my mind?

Some people lie awake in bed at night and cannot switch of their thoughts. If this is a problem, set aside a ‘worry time’ during the evening. Use this time to think about what has been happening during the day, make plans and possible solutions. Then don’t think about these things until the next day.

Keep the hour before bed as your wind down time – develop a routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep. Listen to quiet music or do relaxation. Remember that we can never shut off our mind. Our thoughts continue all the time, so try to make them calmer thoughts. Create a favourite fantasy place. Or daydream of your favourite holiday spot. If other thoughts come in, consider them for a moment and then try to gently replace them with calm thoughts.

Are naps good or bad?

It depends.

Naps are wonderful and essential during our recovery, so embrace them during this phase.

Remember that the average adult sleeps for between seven and nine hours a day. Naps will take up some of this time. But if you are taking short afternoon naps without any problems, then you might want to keep doing this.

On the other hand, naps in the evening, or dozing in front of the TV, can make it harder to get to sleep at night.

How much sleep do we need?

Most adults need between seven and nine hours sleep each day. But this may include naps and time spent dozing in front of the TV. Be realistic about your needs.

If you are a poor sleeper it is very important you do not spend too long in bed. Spend no more than 8 or so hours in your bed. If you spend more time in bed, you will be telling your body that it’s OK to drift in and out of sleep all night.

Going to bed later at night may be the single best thing to help reduce your wake time during the night in bed.

How important is a routine?

Try to stick to a good sleep routine. Improved sleep will not happen as soon as changes are made. But if good sleep habits are maintained, sleep will certainly get better. It is not possible to do the same thing every day, but it should be most days.

Different things work for different people. Find what works for you and stick with it!
 
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Cake or carrots? Timing may decide what you'll eat?

Recent research published by the California Institute of Technoloy has determined that when you open the refrigerator for a late night snack, are you more likely to grab a slice of chocolate cake or a bag of carrots?

The decision may depend on how quickly your brain factors healthfulness into the decision.

Since taste is a concrete, innate attribute after all, people know what foods they like and do not like the researchers hypothesized that it becomes factored into the food decision-making process first.

A food's affect on health, on the other hand, is a more abstract attribute -- one that you often need to learn about or do research on.

In fact, there are such widely varying opinions about the healthfulness of nutrients like fats, calories, and carbs that you may not even be able to find a definitive answer.

Therefore, the researchers assumed, the healthiness of a food likely is not factored into a person's food choice until after taste is. And for those individuals who exercised less self-control, they hypothesized, health would factor into the choice even later.

The researchers developed a new experimental technique that allowed them to evaluate, on a scale of milliseconds, when taste and health information kick in during the process of making a decision. They did this by tracking the movement of a computer mouse as a person makes a choice!

The researchers found that, on average, taste information began to influence the trajectory of the mouse cursor, and thus the choice process, almost 200 milliseconds earlier than health information.

For 32 percent of subjects, health never influenced their food choice at all; they made every single choice based on taste, and their cursor was never driven by the healthfulness of the item.

I guess I don't make healthy choices either - I would choose chocolate cake every time!
 
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What is on your surgeons playlist in the OR?

In the Christmas issue of The BMJ, surgeons at the University Hospital of Wales examine the intertwined history of music and healing, and suggest tunes for surgeons and theatre staff to play and to avoid during operations.
As early as 4000 BC, "hallelujah to the healer" was played as part payment for medicinal services, while the ancient Greeks identified Apollo as the father of both healing and music.

More recently, studies have shown beneficial calming and even pain relieving effects of music for patients having surgery.

But does music strike a chord with the surgeon and the theatre staff? It is certainly commonplace, being played 62-72% of time in theatre, and most often chosen by the leading surgeon, write the authors.

Around 80% of theatre staff report that music benefits communication between team members, reducing anxiety levels and improving efficiency. Music also appears to enhance surgical performance by increasing task focus, particularly among surgeons who listen to music regularly.

They suggest tracks such as Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees, Smooth Operator by Sade ("a must for all theatre mix-tapes"), Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham ("best played in recovery").

Songs best avoided include Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Everybody Hurts by REM, and Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chilli Peppers ("plastic surgeons should avoid this at all cost").

Critics argue that music "consumes cognitive bandwidth, reduces vigilance, impairs communication, and proves a distraction when anaesthetic problems are encountered," say the authors. "We, however, embrace music in the operating theatre whenever the situation allows it."

I must check wih my OS next appointment to find out his playlist :)
 
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Don’t worry, be happy: Just go to bed earlier!

Researchers link late evenings to repetitive negative thoughts. When you go to bed, and how long you sleep at a time, might actually make it difficult for you to stop worrying.

So say researchers, who found that people who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed very late at night are often overwhelmed with more negative thoughts than those who keep more regular sleeping hours.
 
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Femoral head - bone donations (Australia)

It is a donation which could save a limb, correct a spine distorted by scoliosis or aid a knee or hip revision and - with bone graft procedures the second most common "transplant" after blood transfusions - demand is high.

Bone donation is an important and valuable gift which can give recipients back their mobility with minimal fuss for the donor, according to the donor liaison from the Perth Bone and Tissue Bank.

Aside from cadaveric donations, the bank's femoral head program provides a much-needed source of donated bone.

Every person in the metropolitan area undergoing a hip replacement is approached about donating their femoral head - the ball part of the hip joint, which is routinely removed and discarded during the surgery.

With the patient's consent, the bone is collected from the operating theatre and sent to the bone bank where it is kept in deep freeze for six months until a follow-up blood test to check for infection and disease.

If given the all-clear, the bone can be released whole to the surgeon, cut into a specific shape or, in most cases, milled into small particles and sent to the operating theatre.

The bone is frozen at -80C and can be kept for up to five years after the date of donation.

Because donated bone no longer had a blood supply it did not grow into the recipient, rather it encouraged the recipient's bone to grow around it. Surgeons packed the milled bone into the defect, providing a kind of scaffold for the patient's own bone.

In 2011 in Australia some 561 people benefited from bone and tissue donations.

Even though there were synthetic products on the market that could be used for bone surgery, surgeons preferred to use the real thing, which meant demand for donated bone was high.

The bone bank supplies surgeons in WA, interstate and overseas.

"We find that the demand is ever increasing and trying to meet that demand with our very tight criteria of who is acceptable to donate can be quite difficult," .

Sixty per cent of those asked are either ineligible or, more rarely, refuse to donate. People who have had cancer, who have spent more than six months in the UK from 1980 to 1996, who have a history of autoimmune disease such as psoriasis or who have had a recent sexually transmitted disease may be ineligible.

"Generally, what we find is that although there is quite poor public awareness of (bone donation via hip replacement) when we do approach the patients and we explain to them that the bone is routinely discarded, we find that we get a really good response. Very few people refuse us."
 
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Tips to help keep weight gain at bay over the festive season:

  • Eat lighter. Snack on seasonal fruit (such as cherries and watermelon), a small handful of nuts, or low-fat crackers and a salsa dip. Eating a handful of cherries instead of a handful of lollies will save you around 330kJ and 16g of added sugar.

  • Plan plan plan. Take a healthy platter to parties or functions. Include lots of bright, colourful vegetable sticks such as carrot, red and green capsicum, green beans and snow peas. Serve with an avocado dip, beetroot dip or yoghurt-based dip.

  • Drink smarter. If you drink, aim for two glasses of low joule non-alcoholic drinks to every alcoholic drink. Try soda with a squeeze of lime or lemon, or a jug of cold water with cucumber or strawberries and lots of ice for a refreshing change. If you swap a glass of sparkling wine for sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon you will save 470kJ.

  • Eat mindfully. Try to eat slowly, savour every mouthful and enjoy your food over the festive period. You don’t need to eat everything on offer – be selective and enjoy a small amount. Stop eating once you are comfortably full.

    image.jpg


    Happy Festive Season Everyone!
 
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How sleep deprivation can add to your waistline!

Ever noticed how when you’re short on sleep you crave sugary foods that give you a quick energy boost? From experience, when I can't sleep, the first thing I make is a hot chocolate, with raw sugar (of course!).

There’s a good reason for that. Sleep deprivation has a direct link to overeating and weight gain.

There are two hormones in your body that regulate normal feelings of hunger and fullness.

Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends signals to the brain when you are full.

However, when don’t get the sleep you need, your ghrelin levels go up, stimulating your appetite so you want more food than normal, and your leptin levels go down, meaning you don’t feel satisfied and want to keep eating.

So, the more sleep you lose, the more food your body will crave.
 
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All sleep is not created equal..

Sleep unfolds in a series of recurring sleep stages that are very different from one another in terms of what’s happening beneath the surface. From deep sleep to dreaming sleep, they are all vital for your body and mind.
Each stage of sleep plays a different part in preparing you for the day ahead. There are two main types of sleep:
  • Non-REM (NREM) sleep consists of three stages of sleep, each deeper than the last.
  • REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you do most active dreaming. Your eyes actually move back and forth during this stage, which is why it is called Rapid Eye Movement sleep.
Non-REM sleep

Stage N1 ( Transition to sleep)
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This stage lasts about five minutes. Your eyes move slowly under your eyelids, muscle activity slows down and you are easily awakened.

Stage N2 (Light sleep) -
this is the first stage of true sleep, lasting from 10-15 minutes. Your eye movement stops, your heart rate slows, and your body temperature decreases.

Stage N3 (Deep sleep) -
You are difficult to awaken, and if you are woken, you do not adjust immediately and you may often feel groggy and disorientated for several minutes.

In the deepest stage of sleep, your brain waves are extremely slow. Blood flow is directed away from your brain towards your muscles, restoring physical energy.

REM sleep

Rem sleep (Dream sleep)
About 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep, you enter REM sleep, where dreaming occurs. Your eyes move rapidly, your breathing shallows, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase.

Also during this stage, your arm and leg muscles are paralyzed.
 
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Having a hard time getting up when your alarm goes off?

Even if you’ve enjoyed a full night’s sleep, getting out of bed can be difficult if your alarm goes off when you’re in the middle of deep sleep (Stage N3).

If you want to make mornings less painful—or if you know you only have a limited time for sleep—try setting a wake-up time that’s a multiple of 90 minutes, the length of the average sleep cycle.

For example, if you go to bed at 10 p.m., set your alarm for 5:30 (a total of 7 ½ hours of sleep) instead of 6:00 or 6:30.

You may feel more refreshed at 5:30 than with another 30 to 60 minutes of sleep because you’re getting up at the end of a sleep cycle when your body and brain are already close to wakefulness.

 
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Myths and Facts about Sleep!

Myth 1: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.

You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day, but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.

Myth 2: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.

Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues and even then, by one–two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.

Myth 3: Extra sleep at night can cure you of problems with excessive daytime fatigue.

The quantity of sleep you get is important, sure, but it's the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.

Myth 4: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.

Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.
 
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Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables....

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Unfortunately, most people are falling short of the recommended daily minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables. In fact, most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.

Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal—the brighter the better. Colorful, deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants—and different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety.

Aim for a minimum of five portions each day. Try adding berries to breakfast cereals, eating fruit as a healthy dessert, and snacking on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes instead of processed snack foods.

Greens. Branch out beyond bright and dark green lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are just a few of the options—all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.

Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.

Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mangos offer vitamin C.
 
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How fiber can help you lose weight!

Since fiber stays in the stomach longer than other foods, the feeling of fullness will stay with you much longer, helping you eat less.

Eating plenty of fiber can also move fat through your digestive system at a faster rate so that less of it can be absorbed.

And when you fill up on high-fiber foods, you'll also have more energy for exercising.
 
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Healthy eating..

Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, and stabilizing your mood.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there don't be discouraged, you are not alone! It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. But by using simple tips, you can cut through the confusion and learn.

To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.

Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.
Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.

Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.

Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.
 
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I agree!!! I love the TED videos and this one is especially good. Thanks, Poppet!
 
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Consider these generally recognized facts about common nutrient destroyers:
  • Aspirin: Depletes vitamin A, calcium, potassium, B complex and vitamin C.
  • Caffeine: Depletes vitamin B1, inositol, biotin, potassium and zinc. It also interferes with calcium and iron absorption.
  • Chlorine: Depletes vitamin E. Chocolate: Depletes calcium and vitamin D.
  • Fluoride: Depletes vitamin C, destroys enzymes used for DNA production and causes cancer.
  • Sedatives: Deplete folic acid and vitamin D.
  • Nitrates and Nitrites: Deplete vitamins A, C and E.
  • Sugar and white flour products: Deplete the B-complex vitamins.
  • Birth Control Pills: Deplete folic acid, vitamins C, B6, B2, B12, B1, and E.
  • Cortisone: Depletes vitamins A, B6, D, C, and zinc and potassium. It also reduces immune function.
  • Stress: Depletes all stored vitamins and can reduce immune function by 50%.
 
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Planning to fly? - research suggests 'consider drinking tomato juice'!

While examining how airplane noise affects the palate, food scientists found sweetness suppressed and a tasty, tender tomato surprise: "umami" enhanced.

A Japanese scientific term, "umami" describes the sweet, savory taste of amino acids such as glutamate in foods like tomato juice, and according to the new study, in noisy situations -- like the 85 decibels aboard a jetliner -- umami-rich foods become your taste bud's best buds.

The study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with our sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced. It seems that the multi sensory properties of the environment where we consume our food, can alter our perception of the foods we eat.

The study may guide reconfiguration of airline food menus to make airline food taste better. Auditory conditions in air travel actually may enhance umami, the researchers found. In contrast, exposure to the loud noise condition dulled sweet taste ratings.

Airlines acknowledge the phenomenon. German airline Lufthansa had noticed that passengers were consuming as much tomato juice as beer. The airline commissioned a private study released last fall that showed cabin pressure enhanced tomato juice taste!

Nutritional Note: Significant Anti-Oxidant Protection

In addition to their center-stage phytonutrient, lycopene, tomatoes are packed with traditional nutrients. For example, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, the latter notably through its concentration of carotenoids including beta-carotene. These antioxidants travel through the body neutralizing dangerous free radicals that could otherwise damage cells and cell membranes including the escalation of inflammation. Balanced intakes of antioxidants foods, may help reduce the risk or severity of such conditions. In addition, tomatoes are a very good source of fiber!
 
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Researchers engineer E.coli to produce new forms of the antibiotic Erythromycin

Researchers at the Universty at Buffalo are about to report that they have managed to turn E. coli into tiny factories for producing new forms of the popular antibiotic erythromycin - including three that were shown in the lab to kill drug-resistant bacteria.

'We're focused on trying to come up with new antibiotics that can overcome antibiotic resistance, and we see this as an important step forward,' said Pfeifer, Ph.D.

'We have not only created new analogs of erythromycin, but also developed a platform for using E. coli to produce the drug,' he said. 'This opens the door for additional engineering possibilities in the future; it could lead to even more new forms of the drug.'

Getting E. coli to produce new antibiotics has been something of a holy grail for researchers in the field.

That's because E. coli grows rapidly, which speeds experimental steps and aids efforts to develop and scale up production of drugs. The species also accepts new genes relatively easily, making it a prime candidate for engineering.

The study is especially important with antibiotic resistance on the rise. Erythromycin is used to treat a variety of illnesses, from pneumonia and whooping cough to skin and urinary tract infections.
 

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What an interesting article, Poppet!!! Nice to hear a good tidbit about E. coli.
 
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