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Corrie Pikul (131 posts)
Dr. Oz's ultimate health checklist, including the medical tests you need
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association may change the way we look at those canned goods. The study found that those who ate just one serving of canned soup for five days showed increases in their BPA levels by over a thousand percent. The Harvard researchers told the New York Times they were stunned by the results.
So are we, especially because we've been really enjoying chicken soup season so far. But don't despair: while it's hard to find BPA-free cans (manufacturers like it because this type of lining prevents corrosion and is resistant to extreme heat), you have options:
Every few weeks, we'll be asking one of the Best Life experts for advice on diet and exercise, ways to get better rest and strategies to live a little younger.
If you have a question, send it to us!
Q: I hurt my feet, and now I can barely walk, never mind run. How do I stay fit?
This sounds like an impossible challenge, doesn't it? You won't be able to squeeze in your 10,000 steps per day. But it's worth the effort to hobble into the gym, because you have more fitness options than you realize, says Jack Younghans, D.P.T., a Best Life physical therapist who helps injured patients stay in shape at his clinic in Long Island, New York. We asked him what moves were easiest on the feet, and were surprised by how many cardio options he came up with. Regular exercise may even help you heal. Younghans explains that when you increase your blood flow by working out, your body is able to deliver oxygenated blood to the injured foot more efficiently than it would be if you were sedentary.
These exercises are ranked from least impact (for the seriously injured) to most. Younghans says that if you feel pain at any point during exercise, stop immediately and talk to your doctor or physical therapist. Find out if physical therapy is right for you.
1. Rowing with an upper-body ergometer: You may have seen one of these mini-bikes for the arms and thought to yourself, "There's no way you can work up a sweat on that thing." But Younghans swears you can crank up the resistance high enough and row fast enough to get your heart pumping. If you don’t have access to an upper-body ergometer, you can keep build muscle and tone with these weight exercises.
2. Swimming: You probably thought of this one already, but Younghans reminds those with pain in the forefoot to avoid jumping into the pool or doing flip turns between laps (both can add pressure that can make the injury worse). Check out this article for ways to feel comfortable in the water.
Lots of things, it turns out, including what we did the night before the big feast, how many helpings we ate of Nana's marshmallow sweet potatoes, what we drank with our meal, and what activities we have planned for Thursday evening. (See the nutrition blog at Boston.com for the full explanation, as well as a unique theory from a professor who has researched napping).
This Thursday, when you start feeling snoozy after dinner, give the turkey a break. The poor thing has been through enough already.
Fortunately, though, some types of nuts seem to come with their own alarm that sends you a signal that you've had enough. In a study published in the September issue of the journal Appetite, students who were constantly offered pistachios in the shell consumed 22 percent fewer nuts when the researchers left the bowls of discarded shells on their desks than when they took them away. The researchers think the shells acted as "visual cues" that reminded the students how many nuts they'd already eaten.
This study made us think of boxes of Japanese snacks that contain individually-wrapped serving sizes. It's pretty hard to finish an entire box of soy sauce-flavored crackers when the tiny envelopes keep piling up around you. For almonds and other snacks that don't leave a trace, your best bet is to put a handful in a bag, plate or cup and then hold on to that for a while. Better yet, stick to red pistachios, which not only leave a trail of shells but also stain your fingers a shade we'll call "snack-aholic scarlet."
Why you should eat nuts (the list keeps growing!)
That's why I was intrigued by a new video game designed by meditation master Deepak Chopra to help newbies like me improve our skills. It's called "Leela" (Sanskrit for "play"), it works on the Xbox Kinect, and it involves physical challenges as well as more traditional meditation instruction with Chopra and others (it's as if these spiritual personal trainers make house calls). If you take a look at the the game's web site, you'll see the world of Leela is full of gentle, tinkling Eastern-sounding music, cosmic shapes and glowing patterns. One part of the game, which a spokesperson described to me as similar to "spiritual Tetris," helps you identify different chakras or energy centers in the body, and uses the same ideas behind Wii Tennis to help you dial into those chakras. For example, you connect to your navel chakra, which is supposed to be the center of willpower, achievement and desire, by building energy between your hands and then pretending to launch fireballs at the screen. You can also control icons on screen with your breath: you inhale, they rise; you exhale, they fall. This sounds like a neat trick to make me actually pay attention to my breath, which can be difficult to do when there are other more interesting things to look at (like the cat drinking water. That little pink tongue!). By providing a visual representation of what's happening when we meditate, I think the game could provide a shortcut to focus. At least if I were throwing fireballs at the TV screen, or moving my hips to help center a picture of the earth, I'd feel--and look--like I was accomplishing something.
Deepak Chopra on the 5-step path to a life of love
How to quiet your mind during meditation
Chopra answers what it means to "go inside oneself"
Low-fat chocolate milk (yes, the real deal -- we're not referring to fudge-flavored drinks) has been shown in studies involving cyclists, soccer players and runners to be just as effective as sports drinks in helping athletes recover. It provides fluids to help you rehydrate and carbohydrates to replace glycogen burned off during intense activity. This affordable treat also has protein that combines with the carbs to reduce muscle damage and hasten recovery, as well as an added bonus of calcium.
This is due to many factors, most notably our tendency to fall back into some old habits like Belgian Waffle Sundays. But dieting, especially on-again-off-again, can have lingering effects on our appetites. We can vow that once we go off the diet, we'll only eat when we're hungry, and we'll stop as soon as we're full. But in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of Australian researchers measured the levels of hormones (including leptin and ghrelin) that are associated with hunger. They found that diet-induced weight loss not only altered hormone levels, but caused them to remain "perturbed" (i.e., at levels that made the subjects hungrier) for a full year. In other words, in the months after a diet, you can't trust yourself to know when you're hungry or full.
At first read, this makes weight loss seem like even more of a Sisyphean challenge. But it really just reinforces what we've heard a million times before: the only diet that works is one that we can sustain indefinitely. Viewed in that light, this new research can actually help us get smarter about how we try to get healthier.
Here are some long-term strategies for keeping the weight off:
Resisting donuts, fast food, and eating late at night
Becoming aware of mindless munching
How to stop binge eating
Since breaking up with the pill, I've made do with the NuvaRing and then condoms, but I've been keeping my eyes open for a better long-term plan. That's one of the reasons I was inspired to weigh the pros and cons of the most popular birth control in the US for this slideshow. There are a few new contraceptive developments that piqued my interest. Any Seinfeld fan who's never really understood Elaine's passion for the Today sponge can now find out what all the hoopla was about, as the sponge is back and available at retailers like Walgreens, CVS and Target. For those looking for something more effective and longer-lasting, IUDs like ParaGard and Mirena have been redesigned, and among health researchers and gynecologists, they're the new "it" contraceptive. However, the device that has me the most excited is a different birth control blast-from-the-past.
While the Run for Your Lives is now closed to runners, those who have the stomach to watch can purchase a spectator's pass that will allow them access to the course as well as the after-party (more information is available on the Run for Your Lives web site). A portion of all ticket sales will go towards the American Red Cross. Even though this event hasn't even taken place yet, zombie fever has already spread to other cities, and similar races are scheduled for next year in places like Boston, Seattle and Austin.
Watching the creepy video on the Race for Your Lives site made our hearts pick up the pace and got us thinking about the motivational power of zombies. If the feeling--real or imagined--of a rival breathing down our necks in a race can make us hustle, imagine how much faster we could go if we pictured that rival as a brain-eating monster? This Halloween season, we're going to try to a little experiment. When on the trail, the treadmill or even on the way to the office, we're going to pretend that we're being closely followed by a hungry posse of the undead, and that our lives depend on getting to our destination faster than usual. We may even do zombie pick-ups, in which we'll imagine being chased for two- to three-minute intervals during the course of a workout. We're getting the willies just thinking about it.
To help you form a mental image of the kind of monster than will cause you to get moving fast, here are some frightful examples:
Ordinary British pub-goers and townsfolk become deadly (if somewhat daffy) killers in the comedy film, Shaun of the Dead.
A plague turns noblewomen as well as nursemaids into flesh-eaters in lace and muslin in the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Wandering corpses as well as scheming survivors become equally life-threatening in the television drama, The Walking Dead (the second season premiered last night on AMC).