New vitamin D recommendations

Despite mounting pressure to urge several Americans to sharply boost their vitamin D levels, latest government recommendations are not advocating a huge increase in the amount of the "sunshine vitamin" that people get.

The United States and Canada asked the Institute of Medicine, which is division of the National Academy of Sciences, to update the official vitamin D recommendations for the first time since 1997. A 14-member expert committee convened for the task concluded that most Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units of vitamin D per day. The elderly may need as much as 800, the committee concluded.

Before, experts called for children and younger adults get 200 international units a day, adults ages 50 to 70 get 400 and the aged to get 600. But a flurry of research indicating that vitamin D may have a dizzying array of health benefits, and that many people may have insufficient levels, had reignited an intense debate over whether federal guidelines were outdated, leaving millions unnecessarily vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other ailments. Some doctors have begun routinely testing their patients' vitamin D levels and recommeding that people should routinely consume 2,000 or 3,000 international units a day. Sales of vitamin D supplements have raised sharply in recent years.

If you're around a baby, get whooping cough vaccine

Most Georgia infants get the vaccines they require to help protect them from pertussis -- a highly contagious disease better known as whooping cough.

While Georgia has not observed high rates of the disease so far this year, outbreaks in other states are prompting public health officials to say another time that a vaccine for the baby isn’t enough. They advise all adults and teens who come into contact with an infant to roll up their sleeve and get a vaccine, too.

The advisory applies not just to parents, but to adolescent siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and day care employees anyone who is going to spend time with the baby.

“What we want to have people do is make a cocoon of immunity around the infant,” said Jeff Diamond, a spokesman for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More Protein, Fewer Refined Carbs May Keep Weight Off

If you've worked hard to shed those additional pounds and want to keep the weight off, a new Danish study suggests that you consider eating more protein and fewer refined carbohydrates.

Based on the findings, the researchers recommend consuming mostly what's known as low-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the ability of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose levels; those with a low GI cause blood levels to raise more slowly, explained Dr. Thomas Meinert Larsen, a co-author of the study, published in the Nov. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

What is it about the high protein, low glycemic index carbohydrate diet that maintains weight under control? "Possibly a stronger satiating effect and more balanced blood sugar regulation," Larsen hypothesized.

Eating orange and dark green vegetables linked to longer life

This time no beta-carotene in vegetables that has the spotlight, but rather its cousin: alpha-carotene. Both are members of the carotenoid antioxidant family. Scientists trust carotenoid antioxidants promote health by counteracting oxygen-related damage to DNA.

Consumption of fruits and vegetables has long been associated with lower risks of health troubles such as cancer and heart disease, said Dr. Chaoyang Li of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, in e-mail to Reuters Health.

However, it is still not understandable which elements contribute to the health effects or how they do so, he added, pointing to recent studies that have found no apparent benefit for beta-carotene supplements.

To investigate the merits of oft-ignored alpha-carotene, Li and his colleagues analyzed information on more than 15,000 people who were participating in the Third Nationwide Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study. All of them provided blood samples at the start of the study, along with other medical and lifestyle information.

Many fat women think they are slim: research

An American study questioned over 2,000 women about their size, diet and work out habits and took measurements. It found that many women were often unaware about whether they were a healthy weight or not.

Co-author Dr Mahbubur Rahman, of University of Texas, said: "As obesity numbers climb, many women see overweight as normal, not based on the scale but on how they view themselves."

It was found that 25 per cent of overweight women misjudged their body weight along with 16 per cent of common weight women.

The study was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The findings have serious consequences for obesity prevention, the researchers said, as many women do not recognise they are overweight and so will not connect programmes.

The study found that Hispanic and African American women who were overweight thought they were healthy compared with 15 per cent of white women.

The trend was reversed for common weight women who thought they were overweight with fewer Hispanics and African Americans falling into this category than white women.

Healthy weight women who thought they were too fat were twice as likely to skip meals, diet and smoke more cigarettes than the overweight women who thought they were slim.

Facebook Heartbreak Leads to Man's Asthma Attacks

We often hear that social networks can be fine for emotional health by reconnecting us with old friends, helping us build professional contacts and countering isolation, but Italian doctors have reported a case where logging onto Facebook made an 18-year-old man hyperventilate.

The patient, whose asthma was well-controlled with steroid inhalers and Singulair pills, began having more asthma attacks when he logged onto Facebook and learned that his ex-girlfriend had un-friended him and friended "several new young men." Frustrated by being cut off from his former flame, the jilted boyfriend became her Facebook friend under a nickname and regained access to her profile picture.

However, the sight of her picture left him hyperventilating and short of breath, "which happened repeatedly" as he called up her profile, wrote Dr. Gennaro D'Amato, a respiratory and allergy specialist at the High Specialty Hospital A Cardarelli in Naples, Italy, in this week's issue of The Lancet.

6,795 Reported Cases Of Whooping Cough In California So Far This Year

With the highest rates of whooping cough in 63 years and reports of flu starting coming in throughout the USA, Californian and other states' health authorities are urging people to get vaccinated. With apparently only 1 in 3 Americans getting a flu shot last year, public health experts are beginning to show some concern about the next months. Fewer than 1 in every 13 adults got vaccinated against whooping cough last year.

America had nearly got rid of whooping cough completely some thirty years back. Since the 1980s, numbers have been steadily rising. Experts say that the major reason is a drop in vaccination rates. All adults are susceptible to catching pertussis (whooping cough) when their childhood shots start wearing off.

Little babies are susceptible to the complications of whooping cough, that is why 50% of those infected have to be hospitalized. Whooping cough is much less dangerous for an adult than for an infant.

22% of parents refused to have their kids vaccinated in 2003; in 2008 the percentage shot up to 39%. Nobody is sure what the percentage is currently. In some cases, low adult vaccination rates are due to lack of awareness; many adults simply don't know they should have their booster shots. It is something doctors should begin reminding their patients about more thoroughly, health officials say.

Symtomps of Cancer

Chronic Cough:A persistent, new cough or a cough that won't go away. Blood and/or mucus may accompany the cough and can be caused many conditions. In relation to cancer, a chronic cough with blood or mucus can be symptom of lung cancer. Cancer is an extensive term that encompasses more than one hundred unusual types of cancer. It is important to note that some types of cancer do not present any symptoms until they are in advanced stages. This is why cancer screening and risk assessment are vital for cancer prevention and early detection.
Persistent Fatigue:Fatigue is one of the most commonly experienced cancer symptoms. It is typically more common when the cancer is sophisticated, but still occurs in the early stages of some cancers.
Unintentional Weight Loss:While it may be a welcome surprise to lose weight without trying, it can be a red flag for many illnesses, including cancer.
Pain:Typically, pain is not an early symptom of cancer, except in some cancer types like those that spread to the bone. Pain generally occurs when cancer spreads and begins to distress other organs and nerves. Lower back pain is cancer symptom that is related with ovarian cancer and colon cancer. Shoulder pain can also be a symptom of lung cancer.
Fever:A fever is a very non-specific symptom of many mild to severe conditions, including cancer. In relation to cancer, a fever that is persistent or one that comes and goes habitually can signal stress on the immune system.

Stem cell therapy helps victims of heart failure

A year and a half ago, Michael Jones' failing heart left him so weak he couldn't even climb stairs.

But today, after receiving an infusion of his own cardiac stem cells, the 67-year-old handles stairs with ease, works his southeastern Jefferson County land on his tractor, indulges his love of woodworking and is making plans to begin jogging.

"I feel truly well," Jones said. "It's awesome. They're using the body to actually heal itself."

Jones is one of several part patients suffering with heart failure who have benefited from a University of Louisville stem cell study that was the subject of a presentation Monday at an American Heart Association session in Chicago.

Study co-leader Dr. Roberto Bolli from U of L described initial results of ongoing research using cardiac stem cells to heal hearts. His partner in the study is Dr. Piero Anversa of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Four months after being given stem cells, Bolli said, nine patients showed an average of 9% improvement in left ventricular function — how well the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body and an indication of how well the heart is working.

World's First Stem Cell Clinical Trial to Treat Stroke Begins in U.K.

Doctors in Scotland, working with British biotech company ReNeuron, administered a sequence of injections in a patient over the weekend to test whether stem cell therapy could help those disabled by stroke. The patient, who is in his 60s, was severely disabled by a stroke 18 months ago and requires continuous care.

Doctors injected little doses of ReNeuron's neural stem cells into a healthy region of the patient's brain, close to where neurons were damaged by the stroke. They hope the injected cells will release chemicals that stimulate new brain cells and blood vessels to grow, while healing scar tissue and reducing inflammation, The Guardian reported.

Doctors said the surgery procedure was successful and that the patient is doing well and has already been discharged from the hospital. If the patient continues to do well over the next few weeks, 11 more men who have been disabled by ischemic stroke -- the most common type, caused by a blockage of blood flow in the brain -- will be treated in the coming year with progressively higher doses.

The primary goal of this early study is safety. The doctors want to ensure that the treatment is not making patients any worse, but they will also be monitoring patients closely for improvements and to see whether the stem cells are repairing any areas damaged by the stroke, as was the case in animal studies of the treatment.

Bypass patients can benefit from a few drinks

Light alcohol consumption was associated with a 25 percent reduction in extra heart procedures, heart attacks or strokes in the study by Italian researchers, presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago.

"The benefit of light amounts of alcohol consumption has been documented in healthy individuals, but our analysis showed a benefit from light alcohol intake in post-coronary bypass patients," said Dr. Umberto Benedetto, of the University of Rome La Sapienza.

However, bypass patients with a condition called left ventricular dysfunction who were heavy drinkers, defined as having more than six drinks every day, were twice as likely to die from heart problems, the study found.

The Italian researchers used a questionnaire to compare alcohol consumption in 1,021 men who underwent heart bypass operation and reviewed their medical history for 3-1/2 years.

The study also found no adverse correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and any medication.

The American Heart Association recommends men limit themselves to two drinks a day and women to one drink a day, because too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and have other negative effects.

Fitness For Men In Three Easy Tips

1.Exercise – Exercise changes with each body time. The exercise for fitness for men should include, cardiovascular exercises, walking and aerobics.

Cardio - Cardiovascular exercises help in regulating heart rate, breathing process, loose 100 to 500 calories, increase metabolism rate and get six pack abs.

Walking - One should walk at least 3.5 KM every alternate day. This works on every muscle and rejuvenates unused muscles, burns calories, helps inhale enough oxygen and regulates one's diet.

Aerobics - Aerobics works on your energy level. It enhance heart rate, rejuvenates the nervous system, burs calories and regulates blood circulation.

2.Nutrition – There is no point in exercising if you don't give proper food to your body. Nutrition intake in very important for fitness for men. Men should aim at lean muscles and the solution lies in protein diet. Spices should not be avoided completely. Spices also have medicinal values. They regulate working of the nervous system, prevents the occurrence of infection and work wonders on energy level. Men diet should include, loads of green, poultry protein from egg, meat, milk etc, rice or pasta, loads for fruit fibers and water. Avoid fatty food like butter and ghee.

3.Lifestyle - Men, generally tend to have an erratic lifestyle. This has an effect on both mind and body. If your mind is not at peace, no amount of exercise and nutrition can get you complete healthy living. Thus, you need to regulate your lifestyle. Fix a realistic time-table, to eat, work and family time. Some times in high profile jobs it becomes difficult to maintain a time-table but you alone are the best person to know how to fit in all important aspect of the day together.

When you are stressed, rather than going bar hopping spend time in sports, spend quality time with family and talk out your worries. Don't carry office to home or vice versa. Take up only that amount of work, which you know is possible. Taken a break from regularity in intervals. This will help you maintain your mental balance. Which is very important for concentration, clarity and memory.

Yoga gives a boost to person's mood

A latest research suggests that yoga has a greater positive effect on a person's mood and anxiety level than walking and other forms of exercise, which may be due to higher levels of the brain chemical GABA.

GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a chemical in the brain that helps to control nerve activity.

GABA activity is reduced in people with mood and anxiety disorders but yoga has been shown to raise the levels of the chemical.

Observing all of these observations together, the study by Chris Streeter from Boston University School of Medicine (Massachusetts) and colleagues demonstrated that improved GABA levels measured after a session of yoga postures are associated with improved mood and decreased anxiety.

The authors suggest that the practice of yoga stimulates specific brain areas, thereby giving increase to changes in endogenous antidepressant neurotransmitters such as GABA.

Burn seasonal calories, stress with yoga

Maybe you're just bouncing back from a Halloween candy sugar high. Or perhaps you're bracing for the delicious diet traps that come with Thanksgiving.

Yep, we're rushing headlong into the holiday period, that time of year when we juggle plates that are frighteningly full, both literally and figuratively.

It's simple for yoga practice to fall by the wayside.

And yet, as I maintain to rebound from my surgery and prepare for the hectic holidays, I find myself taking joy in some of my favorite feel-good poses.

One of those is the low lunge or Anjaneyasana .

OK, so regularly the first time around, this pose doesn't feel so good. Especially if you haven't warmed up.

Luckily, the low lunge is one of those poses that uses just about every muscle in your body – so you begin to heat up quickly as it tests your balance, flexibility and focus by bringing energy (when you feel the burn) all over.

It's great for using up those extra calories from chocolate bars or cranberry sauce. But it also provides a opportunity to stretch the places we often scrunch up when we're stressed: the shoulders, neck and chest.

Yoga asanas for a healthy heart

Scientific studies show that risk factors for heart disease such as hypertension, diabetes, bad cholesterol, triglycerides and stress can be significantly lowered with Yoga. Here are some yoga asanas that are good for the heart.

Yogic way of life offers a solution to elevate the health of body, mind and soul. Yoga is a cure for many diseases - diabetes, obesity and psychiatric illnesses - as much as it offers immense benefits to alleviate heart diseases. Yoga has an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases that includes recurrence of heart attacks, hypertension and coronary heart diseases. Yoga influences the hypothalamus directly, the area of the brain that controls endocrine activity, and helps prevent heart attacks.

A complete yoga program involves exercises (asanas), breath control (pranayama), sleep control(yoga Nidra) and mind control(meditation).These are the tenets for cardiac health; also probably the reason why cardiologists universally, recommend yoga to their patients. The curative benefits of yoga enhances heart health, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic stress, boosts the immune system and enhances cognitive ability.

Heart disease is a problem of modern times. It is psychosomatic in nature. Improper lifestyle, faulty diet and negative thinking play an important part in triggering heart disease. Our thoughts, feelings and emotions affect our body and mind. Negative emotions spark chemical processes throughout the entire body. Any irritation in the lining of arterial walls - which includes high levels of fat in the blood, smoking and high blood pressure can trigger heart diseases. Here are some yoga asanas that are good for the heart. Many of these poses are therapeutic for diabetes, high blood pressure and are powerful de-stressors.

Fast Food Kids' Meals Still Unhealthy

Despite pledges made by some of the leading fast food chains, many seem to still be promoting mostly unhealthy meals and choices to children, according to a new report by researchers from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity in New Haven, Conn.

The latest report examined the marketing of 12 top fast food chains, and then looked at the amount of fat calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in 3,039 kids' meals and 2,781 menu items. The findings are slated to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Denver.

Unhealthy Food Choices Are the Default

Of the 3,000-plus kids meals, just 12 met the nutritional criteria for preschoolers, and just 15 met the nutrition criteria set for older children, the study showed. In fact, one particular meal from most fast food restaurants contains at least half of young people's daily recommended sodium.

Fast food marketing to kids also leaves much to be desired, the researchers report. Preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads today than in 2003 and older children see 34% more fast food ads, the latest report found.

"There is a staggering amount of exposure to fast food advertising that begins when children are as young as 2," says Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiative at the Rudd Center.

McDonald's and Burger King have upheld their 2008 commitment to show healthier meals in TV ads directed to children under 12.

This is "a start, but it's not enough," says Harris.

Fast food ads don't always run during children's TV programs, and many ad campaigns, with social media advertising, are about building brand recognition instead of food choices.

"About 60% of ads are not on kids programming, but a lot of children are seeing them and having a large impact," says Harris. For example, "American Idol, Glee, or sports programs are places where we will see a lot of unhealthy fast food ads."

Bait and Switch?

"There is still a lot of fast food advertising aimed at kids," says Margo G. Wootan, PhD, the nutrition policy director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer group based in Washington, D.C.

Other options aimed at curbing marketing unhealthy food choices to kids include the recent San Francisco ban on giving away toys with unhealthy children's meals.

"The goal is not take the happy out of happy meal, but to put the happy and healthy together," she says. "It's nice that some companies have changed their advertising, but we need to address all ways that they market to kids," Wootan says.

Yoga can enhance mood and reduce anxiety--study

Practicing yoga on a regular basis can enhance mood and give a boost to the sense of well-being by reducing anxiety, suggest researchers from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Yoga can fight against stress, reduce heart rate and blood pressure, raise our lung capacity, and improve our muscle relaxation and body composition.

Previous studies have proved that yoga is effective in cases of anxiety, depression and insomnia as well.

Overall, yoga works with our body mechanism in order to improve our stress coping mechanisms and mind-body awareness.

"Yoga in its full form combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy", NIH backgrounder points out.

Study details
The study, aimed at establishing an association between yoga postures, enhanced gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels and decreased anxiety, looked at 2 different groups of healthy people for a period of 12 weeks.

While participants of the first group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, those in the second group went for long walks.

The brains of all the participants were scanned using magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) imaging at the inception of the research.

Further, the GABA levels of the participants in both the groups were compared at the end of the study.

Also the participants were themselves asked to report their psychological fitness at certain points.

Study results
The participants in the yoga group reported a tremendous decrease in their anxiety levels and mood swings as compared to the walking group.

“Over time, positive changes in these reports were associated with climbing GABA levels,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Citing the promising revelations of the study, the researchers suggest that yoga ought to be treated as potential therapy for certain mental disorders.

Gulf Seafood Is Safe, Officials Say

Extensive testing of Gulf of Mexico seafood by federal scientists has found just minute traces of the dispersant Corexit, which was used to break up oil from the BP spill, officials say. About 1.8 million gallons of dispersant were applied to the waters’ surface and at the wellhead, almost a mile undersea.

Of 1,735 tissue samples analyzed, only 13 showed trace amounts of dispersant residue, in concentrations fine below safety thresholds established by federal agencies. Other current tests from federal waters reopened to commercial fishing have shown little or no detectable oil, and no samples that exceed federal safety guidelines.

“The overwhelming majority of the seafood tested shows no detectable residue, and not one of the samples shows a residue stage that would be harmful for humans,” Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Friday. “There is no question gulf seafood coming to market is safe from oil or dispersant residue.”

Roughly 96 percent of federal waters in the gulf are now open to commercial and recreational fishing. At the height of the spill, 37 percent of federal waters, an area of nearly 90,000 square miles, was closed to fishing.

Despite what the federal government insists are rigorous and transparent testing procedures, some environmentalists and gulf residents continue to express skepticism that the fish is safe to eat.