Friday, June 17, 2011

Olive Oil Lovers Will Love This

Olive oil was Athena's gift to Greece, according to legend, and the happy recipients of the largess d'godess took it straight to heart -- literally.

It turns out that those who use olive oil regularly are less likely to have your blood vessels pop open in your brain, making your paralyzed, speech impaired, or dead. 

The reason why is not exactly clear, but there are other data suggesting that olive oil may help your arteries retain their elasticity -- so that blood pressure changes cause them to bend, not break open and spill into your brain. What a bonus!!

In fact, this oil is so healthy for you that there are some who take one teaspoon to start their day. It's not a bad idea, actually, and may help your blood vessels stay healthy for an even longer life!! 

Olive oil lovers show lower stroke risk | Reuters

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Mediterranean wellness by sail

We actually get on the water tomorrow. At this second, I'm sitting on the plane on the last leg of the trip, after waiting in the Rome airport for most of this day. Grrrr.

And, given my inability to sleep (ever!!) on the transatlantic flight from Toronto, I had to go back to the Italian espresso coffee bar about 4 times.

Lucky for me -- and my heart rate -- they are very small. Check out this pic (below), and to give you a sense of scale, I put their little hobbit-sized spoons beside the cup. Hobbit-sized?? It's more like pixie sized!!

Okay, time to fly. Can't wait to get to Alghero, Sardinia and get started sailing tomorrow.

Flight to Sardinia

I will be sailing for 3 wks in Sardinia and blogging about the food, the "sport" of sailing, and about this other culture.

During the next 3 wks I'll try to write about things serious and mundane, to give you a flavor of what it's like in this area of the world.

Airplane food on Alitalia airlines

Amazing. Can we get Alitalia to fly out of Pittsburgh ... To ANYWHERE??

When I fly domestically, I get food from the cardboard boxes of Chef USAir, Continental, and Delta. Mmmmm.

And they have oh so lovely processed food items that cost you around 7$. Oh, and if you want something to drink (wine, for example), that will cost you another forty dollars and be sure to pay 10 dollars when you go to the bathroom, check your bags or change your ticket!! (sorry, I digress).

First off all, when the stewards came by w the cart of drinks, I dug out my wallet out for Up-Charge number 1 of this long flight. "wine, please", I said.

The lady politely pulled out a cup, reached down for her bottle of wine (with and honest-to-Pete cork in it ... Go figure) and poured me a good solid glass. I waited for her to ask me for some money ... Nothing! No charge. We are not in Kansas any more, Toto.

When the food came, the same weird thing happened w the wine (oh, here's just a big glass full of wine for you) ... And I was asked if I'd like fish or chicken. Despite what happened on the movie, Airplane, I opted for fish. It came out with roasted potatoes, delicate green beans, a side of pasta/cheese, a small salad, bread w butter, and fruit for dessert.

You know, just like they serve you on United or southwest ... Not.

It was actually good food, and that was the weirdest part. I was sitting on an airplane eating, and the food was really good. Why can't everyone do this? Why do WE have to have the Crappy Meals on airplanes and upcharges on everything??

Okay, rant over. I'm going to try to sleep. Talk to you soon,

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flight to Sardinia

I will be sailing for 3 wks in Sardinia and blogging about the food, the "sport" of sailing, and about this other culture.

During the next 3 wks I'll try to write about things serious and mundane, to give you a flavor of what it's like in this area of the world.

Fiber News: Part of the Problem?

This article (link is below) sounds like ho hum normal news regarding Fiber. Honestly, would you even read this article?

"Fiber keeps you healthier longer," yaddie yaddah, heard that already grand pa, and yes I do know that I need to eat fiber cause you've told me since 1974.

And when I read this it seems so misleading to me. Fiber? Is it this one magic element that keeps your heart healthier longer? Thats what the article said.

But where do you get your fiber from? Fruits and veggies, that's where. If this research had concluded that eating normal foods makes you healthier, we would have yawned just the same, but at least it would be more true to what is actually going on.

Here's why the "fiber approach" is part of our problems.

When you focus on micromanaging molecules, it coaches people to eat junk, just because the food manufacturer ground up a multi-vitamin into his pop tarts or sugar "vitamin water" or breakfast cereal.

And people eat it because our science says that's what we need (fiber, not just fruit; omega 3s, not just fish; vitamins, not just veggies; and on and on).

This is exactly how our culture undermines our best efforts to be healthy -- and we don't even know it's happening.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dirty Dozen: The 12 Fruits And Vegetables With The Most Pesticides

Could an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Maybe -- but what if it is also coated in pesticides?!?!

Check out this video report by the Newsy Group Organization.

Today, the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy nonprofit, released its latest "Dirty Dozen" list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticides, as an update to its 2010 rankings. 
Which is the Dirtiest of the Dozen? 
Taking first place this year is apples. The ubiquitous fruit beat out last year's top spot, which went to celery (now at number two).

How Much SHOULD We Freak Out About This? 

The potentially darker side of fruits and vegetables is centered around concerns about their pesticide loads, which some studies have linked to possible health problems, particularly among women who are pregnant and children. So when organic foods typically carry a higher price tag, what's a frugal shopper to do?

That's where the new shopper's guide comes into play (download it here).

"Picking five servings of fruits and vegetables from the 12 most contaminated would cause you to consume an average of 14 different pesticides a day," thegroup reports in its findings, which were based on data collected by the United States Departure of Agriculture of food samples that often were ready to be eaten (meaning that they had already been peeled or washed as necessary).
On the flip side, EWG writes that choosing foods from their counterpart "Clean 15" list will slash the pesticide volume by more than 90 percent. Topping the "Clean 15" were onions, sweet corn, pineapples and avocado (check out the full list here).
The Bottom Line
The EWG encourages going organic when it comes to items on their Dirty Dozen List, and they do clearly state that conventional produce is certainly better than none at all: "The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure."

Why Do They Put Pesticide Nastiness On Our Apples In The First Place? 
Luder told USA Today: "We think what's happening to apples is more pesticides and fungicides are being applied after the harvest so the fruit can have a longer shelf life."
More like plastic is better for them ... worse for us. 

Dirty Dozen: The 12 Fruits And Vegetables With The Most Pesticides

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Doctors Tell Doctors Not To Be So Pill Happy

U.S. doctors are too quick to reach for their prescription pads, according to a new report urging them to think more about side effects and non-drug alternatives.
"Instead of the latest and greatest, we want fewer and more time-tested drugs," said Dr. Gordon Schiff, associate director of the Center for Patient Safety Research and Practice at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a non-profit organization that studies ways to improve safe practices in healthcare.
"We are really trying to promote a different way of thinking about practicing," added Schiff, whose report appears in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Why Is This An Issue? 
Nearly half of all Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and experts say overprescribing is rampant.
By definition, that means people are being exposed to side effects, sometimes fatal, without the benefits that would justify those risks.
"Often what is really bothering them is not cured with a pill, but rather through exercise, physical therapy, or diet changes," Schiff told Reuters Health.
Yet many doctors are quick to prescribe a drug, partly because they have limited time to deal with individual patients or because they and their patients have been bombarded with ads from the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Maybe they're practicing defensive medicine ... 
  • Maybe they feel like they just have to do SOMETHING ...
  • Maybe they have warped monetary incentives ... 
Whatever. From the standpoint of ordinary people, they are getting over-prescribed and sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. 

Prescription Pain Meds Are A Case-In-Point
In an editorial in the same journal, researchers describe how opioid painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet have become increasingly common without good evidence that they help patients in the long run.
The evidence of harm, on the other hand, is clear, write Dr. Deborah Grady of the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues.
In 2007 alone, for instance, there were nearly 11,500 deaths related to prescription opioids -- "a number greater than that of the combination of deaths from heroin and cocaine," according to the researchers.
Some four million prescriptions for long-acting opioids are written every year, with side effects ranging from addiction to constipation to sleepiness.
To counter some of this overprescribing, Schiff and colleagues urge doctors to think beyond drugs and to prescribe new ones much more cautiously.
When it first hits the market, new medicine has usually only been tested in a few thousand patients, often healthier and younger than the ones doctors see in their offices.
That leaves a lot of questions about safety, especially since patients often are taking several drugs at the same time. More than a third of people over 60 take five or more drugs, for instance, and the number of prescriptions continues to rise.

According to Schiff, patients also have a role to play.
"Patients need to ask critical and skeptical questions, too," he said. "They really should learn about the side effects of the drugs they are taking and be on the lookout for them."
Schiff's "Principles of Conservative Prescribing" study was funded by government grants supporting consumer healthcare education and healthcare quality research.
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, June 13, 2011.

Hold those drugs: doctor | Reuters

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RadioWill: IS this the Dumbest Headline of the Week?

Acupuncture ... does it help alleviate PMS symptoms?? The article says that the data are SHAKY!! 
It reports on a recent science study, BUT, when you wade in past the headlines, the body of the article gets a little stupid. 
Click Here To Listen To The Clip

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RadioWill: Follow My Sailing Vacation Blog

Starting this Thursday, I'm going on vacation to Sardinia  -- without whales cresting over my mast I hope!! I talk about that here on the radio show. 

Click Here To Listen

I'll be showing pictures, talking about the food, and the process of being out on the water for 3 weeks!! 
I would love to hear your thoughts as well ....

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RadioWill: Was the Dusty Showers Interview Underwhelming?

This guy is a HUGE advocate for breast cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment. 

Click here to listen to the audio from my radio show from this weekend. 

But honestly? 
I found his STORY better than his interview. This IDEA of what he's doing is very media-attractive, but I was a little underwhelmed by the interview itself.

Maybe he was tired that day or distracted or something? What do you think? 

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RadioWill: How Formaldehyde Got Into Your Diet Coke In The First Place

In this clip from the Saturday radio show, I talk about the history of HOW formaldehyde got into your Diet Coke in the first place. 

Click Here To Listen and Let Me Know Your Thoughts!!  

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why People Eat Dirt ... No kidding. Dirt.

Eww. Dirt? Well it turns out that the practice of eating dirt has a long history, and a new study suggests that it could possibly, in principle, maybe kinda sorta might be healthy in some way.
Never mind the e coli that's in the dirt, and the parasites that the doggies dropped off. 
June issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology proposes that this dirty habit may protect the body against invaders such as germs and parasites.
Wait. By eating things with germs and parasites in it? Really?  

It's true that people have eaten dirt for thousands of years (reports come from almost every country, in fact), according to report lead author Sera Young, a researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. 

To find out why, Dr Young and her colleagues examined more than 480 cultural reports of dirt-eating and then looked for patterns. 
They found that people eat dirt (typically boiled first) even when there's plenty of food around, and they don't tend to eat enough to make them full. 

Are they eating Gourmet Dirt? 
As for nutrition, the most common form of dirt eaten, a type of clay, isn't loaded with minerals and may actually impede the uptake of nutrients by the digestive tract!

Who are the main Dirt Conesseurs? 
Geophagy is most common among women in early pregnancy, and pre-adolescent children, and both of these categories of people are especially vulnerable to parasites and germs.
Thus, this circumstantial explanatory stab in the dark led these scientists to propose that Mud Pie eaters may be eating it in order to reduce parasites? Bolstering the theory is the fact that dirt-eating is most common in tropical climes where foodborne pathogens are most common, and people often seek out dirt for eating when they are in some kind of gastrointestinal distress.
"We hope this paper stimulates [more] research," the study authors write. "More importantly, we hope readers agree that it is time to stop regarding geophagy as a bizarre, non-adaptive gustatory mistake. With these data, it is clear that geophagy is a widespread behavior in humans that occurs during both vulnerable life stages and when facing ecological conditions that require protection."

Eating Dirt Has Long, Maybe Healthy, History -

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