Friday, August 21, 2009

Teens Sleep Better

Check this out:

Athletic teens sleep better than their couch-potato peers and have fewer problems concentrating at school, a new study finds.

Researchers in Switzerland asked 434 adolescents with an average age of 17 to keep a log of their sleep and daytime habits for one week. ... The teen athletes reported waking fewer times during the night, higher energy levels during the day and a greater ability to concentrate than their less-active peers.

But this is not just about teens, it's about all of us. If you are active, you will have more energy to be active. In a way, you help to create your own reality -- you just need to recognize the control you actually do have over this part of your health.

AND, can you imagine how great it would be to sleep better without having to resort to meds?? How about a little non-pharmacological walk, or volleyball, or dancing, or bowling, or ... anything you love??

Here's the entire HHS article:

Thoughts From The Hospital

I'm in the hospital ... waiting. We'll go home, likely, this afternoon. That said, there are several Oz-like phenomena that stick out at you when you spend any time in our healthcare system.

First, this is a women's hospital and, when I've been dispatched to go forage for something outside of the hospital, I would often see the pregnant bellies everywhere, like a bump convention. These moms are really cool in one sense, but when you see the bumps attached to a person holding a smoldering cigarette, you want to scream.

How can you do this? What are you thinking? You are not honestly this stupid!

On another note, the hospital menu surprized me -- it actually looked good. This was a bit disorienting, because you're accustomed to nasty food served like gruel to Oliver Twist in a bucket. But thank goodness there are some things in the world you can count on. Despite the beautiful menu and pictures blah blah blah, the food came out and was as predictably inedible as one might expect.

The earth turns, continents drift, and hospital food is awful. Some things you can truly count on.

Finally, it's really true that nurses are generally overweight. And I don't get this at all, but it is a generalization that actually holds up. Why would it be that this particular profession is more prone than your average walmart shopper to be drastically overweight? Maybe its because they're stressed (a driver of overweight) or perhaps because they are munching on nasty hospital food or, worse, hospital vending machine snacks in plastic wrappers.

Nurses need something. As a profession, the nurses Union or Association or Moose Lodge should get together and change this unhealthy situation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

US Life Expectancy

Even with our ever increasing obesity rates -- which make it more likely that we'll die of a host of illnesses -- Americans are living a bit longer now.

It's not just us, other nations are increasing their life expectancy too, so this is a global phenomenon and not something we're doing specifically.

Also, we still lag behind most developed nations in terms of the length of our lives. Worse, our infant mortality rates are higher than most other first-world countries as well. Yes, part of this is due to the fact that we try to save preemies more often, which can artificially elevate the infant mortality number somewhat. However, this can't explain this tremendous national failure.

U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday. The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2007 is nearly three months greater than for children born in 2006.

The United States continues to lag behind about 30 other countries in estimated life span. Japan has the longest life expectancy — 83 years for children born in 2007, according to the World Health Organization.

The nation's infant mortality rate rose slightly in 2007, to 6.77 infant deaths per 1,000 births, but the rise was not statistically significant. It has been at about the same level for several years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wine and Breast Cancer

Wine is a funny thing. At one time, wine was said to be awful for you. But Italian scientists who were drinking the wine outlived everyone and so they were able to get the last word in ... wine's great for you as long as you don't overconsume it.

With breast cancer, we have lived through several fad approaches, with hormones and drugs being applied and then removed over time. Where are we now in the ebb and flow of ideas?

Wine is now said to contribute to cancer recurrence. This article, however, argues for taking a glass with your radiation treatment: A glass of wine a day cut the risk of treatment-linked skin toxicity by two-thirds in women undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer, Italian researchers report.

This debate will no doubt ping-pong back and forth for a while. In the interim, eat real food, in moderation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Climate Change and Your Food

Have you ever listened to people rail against global warming, as if it's a communist plot? I remember that, at first, you'd hear people say that "it's all a hoax". "There's no such thing". And, every time there was a chilly day, it would be used as proof-positive evidence that global warming is a mythical creature of political agenda.

Now that everyone agrees that melting glaciers and increasing mean temperatures actually DO mean that temperatures are warming, the Just Say No crowd have turned their focus to the sources of the problem -- it's not us, it's not carbon, it's not anything that would affect anything that has anything to do with us.

And, in a predictably inexplicable 180, I've heard from some that warming is only going to INCREASE the arable land, actually making global warming a good thing. An interesting idea, if a bit schizophrenic, but this article on our California fruit and nut supply provides a different view.

The cold weather is REQUIRED for the formation of the blossoms that lead to the formation of the fruit and nut growth. As a matter of fact, read this exerpt from the report:

Crops most likely to succumb to warmer winters include apples, cherries and pears, which have a very high reliance on winter chill, and the area suitable for growing these crops had already declined to just four percent of the Central Valley – which produces most of the state’s fruit and nuts – by 2000. The findings suggest that none of the Central Valley’s area will be suitable for growing apples, cherries or pears by mid-century. Many nuts and stone fruits are also at risk.

“Our projections showed that for many tree crops that now cover large areas within the Central Valley, climatic conditions will become less suitable and in many cases potentially prohibitive for production,” the authors wrote. “Areas where safe winter chill exists for growing walnuts, pistachios, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries…are likely to almost completely disappear by the end of the 21st century.”

The situation could be particularly severe for the walnut and pistachio industries that rely on male and female flowering at the same time to allow for cross-pollination.

Now that we've all accepted that someone has turned the thermostat up, regardless of the causes, it will certainly end up having an impact on our food supply. In this uncharted territory, however, it's only now becoming clear what that will end up looking like.

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