Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Six Common Mistakes Parents Make When Feeding Their Children

child eating
1. Sending Children Out of the Kitchen

It is understandable that parents don’t want children close to hot stoves, boiling water and sharp knives. But studies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods.

2. Pressuring Them to Take a Bite

Demanding that a child eat at least one bite of everything is likely to backfire. Studies show that children react negatively when parents pressure them to eat foods, even if the pressure offers a reward.

3. Keeping “Good Stuff” Out of Reach

Parents worry that children will binge on treats, so they often put them out of sight or on a high shelf. But a large body of research shows that if a parent restricts a food, children just want it more.

4. Dieting in Front of Your Children

Kids are tuned into their parents’ eating preferences and are far more likely to try foods if they see their mother or father eating them. Parents who are trying to lose weight should be aware of how their dieting habits can influence a child’s perceptions about food and healthful eating.

5. Serving Boring Vegetables

Calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables, so it’s no wonder children are reluctant to eat them. Nutritionists say parents shouldn’t be afraid to dress up the vegetables.

6. Giving Up Too Soon

Eating preferences often change. Parents should keep preparing a variety of healthful foods and putting them on the table, even if a child refuses to take a bite. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts over several months to introduce a food.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Statins Can Hinder Muscle Repair

Statins, taken by millions to lower cholesterol, may hinder the body's ability to repair muscles, University of Alabama researchers report.

The most frequently reported side effect of statin therapy is fatigue, with about 9 percent of patients reporting muscle pain. As doses of the medication are increased, and physical activity is added, these effects can be more pronounced. These side effects are found in all commonly used statins.

"While these are preliminary data and more research is necessary, the results indicate serious adverse effects of statins that may alter the ability of skeletal muscle to repair and regenerate due to the anti-proliferative effects of statins," lead researcher Anna Thalacker-Mercer said in a statement.

Results of the study were presented Thursday at a meeting of the American Physiological Society, in Hilton Head, S.C.

For the study, Thalacker-Mercer's team exposed muscle cells to varying doses of Simvastatin.

The researchers found as the dosage increased, the ability of these cells to multiply decreased. For the equivalent of 40 milligrams a day, growth of new muscle cells was reduced by 50 percent.

When doses were increased, proliferation of these cells continued to decline to the point where they could have a negative affect on the ability of muscles to heal and repair themselves, the researchers found.

"We are very interested in these effects in the older population," Thalacker-Mercer said. "It is possible that older adults may not be able to distinguish between muscle pain related to a statin effect or an effect of aging, and therefore adverse effects of statins in older adults may be under-reported. Therefore, our next step is to examine statins among older adults," she said.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) thinks that this research may lead to ways of preventing muscle damage in patients taking statins.

"Statins are among the most extensively studied medications and provide cardiovascular benefits that greatly outweigh potential risks in most patients," Fonarow stressed.

Between 2 percent and 8 percent of patients report having muscle aches in response to statins, Fonarow noted. "Significant muscle damage as result of statin treatment rarely occurs, but if it does, there can be serious consequences," he noted.

This study suggests that high doses of a statin may alter the ability of skeletal muscle cells to repair and regenerate, Fonarow said. "This research may eventually lead to new ways to minimize or prevent statin-induced muscle damage," he added.

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter, Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews LLC

More information

For more about statins, visit the American Heart Association.

Study: Lipitor ads may mislead women

(Journal of Empirical Legal Studies) UPDATED 2008-09-05
Researchers say that though the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor has long been marketed to both men and women, they have been unable to find adequate scientific evidence that the drug actually helps women lower their risk of having a heart attack. The investigators also found that Pfizer, the company that makes Lipitor, does not include portions of the drug's approved label in its advertisements. This allows the ads to omit clinical trial evidence that has shown a slightly increased heart attack risk in women who took Lipitor. The researchers say their findings suggest that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may not be providing adequate regulation of Lipitor, the world's best-selling drug.  Read full story:  See all at Heart Disease News

Friday, September 26, 2008

Your Pet and Your Health

Many of us agree that we should do everything within our power to make sure that our companion animals enjoy the best possible health.  But did you know that simply by being a part of your life, your dog or cat could actually help you to be not only happier but healthier, too?

Of course you did.  It’s all part of the privilege (and fun!) of being a pet parent.  What you may not know is that there’s plenty of science to back it up.  A wealth of knowledge regarding the health benefits associated with having companion animals has been accumulated over the last two decades, including numerous research studies in the U.S. and abroad.

A study published in 
The British Journal of Health Psychology reports that people who have companion animals tended to be healthier than those who did not.  Additionally, when a dog was part of the family, the members had fewer minor ailments, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.  Although the explanation for these advantages is unclear, researchers speculated that all benefits could be accounted for by reduced levels of stress, possibly due to increased physical activity and levels of social interaction.

The positive effects of having a canine companion have also been chronicled in research published in the 
American Journal of Cardiology.  The year-long study documented the effect of having a canine companion in 369 patients who had suffered an acute heart attack.  The positive effects were nothing short of extraordinary!  The patients who had a dog in the home had a much better chance of survival.  Over 7% of patients without a dog died during the study, compared with only 1% of those who had a canine companion.

Researchers at the University of Leicester found that when pets are in a household, children six years and younger develop social skills at an accelerated rate.  Additionally, these children tend to have better coordination, improved confidence, superior communication skills and are even less likely to have allergies!

The British Medical Journal concluded that pets serve a vital need for socialization, especially for those at a higher risk for isolation, like those with physical limitations that might prevent opportunities for social interaction.  Most medical professionals agree that the broader the network of social contacts, the better we are able to deal with difficult life issues.  This study, and others like it, supports the idea that this need for social relations can be fulfilled equally well by companion animals as with people.

And a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association revealed that bringing a companion animal to the office resulted in higher worker productivity.

These and many other studies reinforce what we as pet parents have suspected all along … that our beloved four-footed companions are integral parts of our families, enriching our lives beyond measure.

Source:  Healthy Pet Net

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Arthritis Drugs Cause Fatal Fungal Infections

fatal fungal infectionThe U.S. FDA has ordered stronger warnings on four medications widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, saying they can raise the risk of possibly fatal fungal infections.

Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and Cimzia work by suppressing the immune system to keep it from attacking your body. For people with rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment provides relief from swollen and painful joints. But the drugs also lower your body's defenses against various kinds of infections.

The FDA became concerned after discovering that doctors seemed to be overlooking a particular kind of fungal infection called histoplasmosis. The infection is prevalent in much of the middle part of the country, and it can have grave consequences if it isn't caught early and spreads beyond the respiratory system to other organs of your body.

Of 240 cases reported to the FDA in which patients taking one of the four drugs developed this infection, a total of 45 (or about 20 percent) died.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mufas - The Trick To A Flat Stomach and to Losing Weight

The trick to a flat stomach and losing weight is having MUFAs at every meal and snack. What is a MUFA? It stands for monounsaturated fatty acid, which is found in nuts, seeds, avocadoes, olives and flax and olive oils, and dark chocolate. So walnuts in my cereal? Flaxseed oil in my smoothie? Tapenade in my turkey wrap? Guacamole with my dinner? Totally doable!

"Jumpstart" your diet for about 4-days by having Mufas at every meal and snack which is designed to not only lower the calories a bit more (an acceptable 1,200), but also reduce belly bloat and gas so you have the visual proof that your gut is deflating.

Add 2 liters of Sassy Water -- a mixture of water with a lemon, a cucumber, grated ginger and spearmint leaves each day, for the first 4-days ,strained of course, and you are on your way!

Add some GoChi and you are on your way to weight loss and good health, which truly is the greatest wealth!!

Source:  Prevention  Magazine!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Worry, Stress, Fear and Brain Health

"If you ask what is the  single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it."  …George F. Burns, American comedian

They say that worry,  stress, and fear can end your life. If you give in to them, you've already  stopped living your life. But the reality is, people  are living longer than ever before. In fact,  centenarians — people who live to 100 or older — are one of the world’s  fastest growing segments of the population.

Vitamin B12 Keeps Your Brain Young


Older individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 are at increased risk of having brain atrophy or shrinkage. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer's disease and impaired cognitive function.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among older people.

In a study involving more than 100 volunteers aged 61 to 87, all participants underwent annual clinical exams, MRI scans and cognitive tests, and had blood samples taken. Individuals with lower vitamin B12 levels at the start of the study had a greater decrease in brain volume. Those with the lowest B12 levels had a sixfold greater rate of brain volume loss compared with those who had the highest levels.

However, none of the participants were actually deficient in vitamin B12 -- they just had low levels within a normal range.

Other risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.


·                  U.S. News & World Report September 8, 2008

·                  Neurology 2008; 71: 826-832

·                  Dr. Mercola:  09.22.08

Related Articles and Information:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

9-Secrets For Women to a Healthy Diet Thru the Decades

Nutritional needs change with age. Here’s a plan for each stage of your life

By Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., TODAYShow.com contributor 

A woman’s nutritional needs are as unique as her smile, the color of her eyes or her sense of humor. Those needs change as she ventures through life, navigating the childbearing years, approaching menopause and entering the golden years. Luckily, most of the 40-plus nutrients a woman’s body needs throughout life are met by simply eating lots of wholesome foods, such as whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, cooked dried beans and peas and nonfat milk products. But we need to tailor these basic good-eating habits to meet the specific nutritional needs of each stage in life. Here's a plan for tackling your needs over the decades: 

The 20s: Folic acid, iron, dieting
No matter what your age, all women need at least eight colorful fruits and vegetables, three glasses of nonfat milk, two servings of iron-rich protein and five or more servings of whole grains. That said, some nutrients are of particular concern, depending on your age. For example, women in their 20s are on the tail end of growing. Their nutritional needs are high, they are still building tissue, and one in every two pregnancies during these years will be unplanned. That means a woman must be on nutritional high-alert. Three nutrition issues are of particular concern:

1. Folic acid: Folic acid-rich foods, such as greens, orange juice and beans, are especially important. Yet while seven out of 10 women know that folic acid helps prevent birth defects, only 25 percent of those women are actively trying to get enough folic acid during the periconception period. (Folic acid is most effective for preventing birth defects if taken at the time of conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Once the pregnancy test comes back positive and a woman starts taking a supplement, it could be too late.)

What to do: Make sure you get enough of this key vitamin by including at least two dark green leafies in your daily diet.

2. Iron: Tired? Can’t think straight? Rather than grab a cup of coffee, you are better off reaching for iron-rich foods. While only eight percent of women are iron deficient, up to 80 percent (studies range from 20 percent to 80 percent) of women during these early years are iron deficient. The deficiency goes unnoticed because most physicians test only for anemia, the final stage of iron deficiency. For months or even years, a woman can be iron deficient and have it go undetected, yet the symptoms are the same — you’re tired, sleep poorly, your work is compromised, you catch every cold that comes around. Women also have cut back on red meat, the best source of absorbable iron, yet up to 30 percent of the iron is absorbed from meat compared to only two to seven percent in beans (which means you need at least four servings of beans for every one serving of meat to get the same amount of iron!). If you drink tea or coffee with your meals, you won’t absorb the iron you are eating.

What to do: Include several servings daily of iron-rich foods, get tested for serum ferritin and, if you are low, take a supplement.

3. Dieting: It is impossible to meet all your vitamin and mineral needs when calorie intake falls below 1,800 calories/day, yet young women are dieting in record amounts, cutting daily calories to 1,000 or less. While restrictive dieting does more harm than good and never results in long-term weight loss, there are some superfoods that can help ensure optimal nutrition, even when calories are too low. So load up on low-cal superfoods that fill you up without filling you out, such as wheat germ (even two tablespoons pack a wallop of nutrients), oatmeal cooked in nonfat milk, salads and vegetable soups.

The 30s: Stress/convenience foods, the pill, calcium
Women in their 30s, whether they are working, mothering, or both, are living on the brink of chaos at all times. Their nutritional needs are high during times of stress, but they don’t believe they have the time to eat well. The nutrition issues here are:

1. Stress/convenience foods: For lack of time, women grab quick-fix foods that typically are high in fat, sugar or calories. According to the latest stats from USDA, women today are averaging 31 teaspoons of refined sugar daily, while fat intake is on the rise. Instead of grabbing the colas and the sweets, grab healthy snacks. And hey, it’s a myth that eating well must take more time. If you have time to pull up to a drive-through window or order takeout, you have time to eat well.

What to do: A breakfast of whole-grain cereal, nonfat milk and fruit takes less than five minutes to prepare. Dinner is as easy as broiled salmon or chicken, a sweet potato in the microwave and a bagged salad.

2. The pill: The birth control pill can affect the absorption and use of several nutrients, including vitamin B-6. This vitamin is important in the regulation of the nerve chemical serotonin, so a low level of B-6 might help explain some of the emotional ups and downs women experience on the pill.

What to do: You don’t need to take another pill, just add more vitamin B-6-rich foods to your diet, such as chicken breast, bananas and nuts.

3. Calcium: A woman builds bone tissue until her mid-30s. After that, she gradually begins to lose bone. The more bone density she builds now, the greater her bank account and the less likely she is to develop osteoporosis later in life. This is her last chance to put calcium into that bank account with calcium-rich yogurt or calcium-fortified orange juice, yet many women are still averaging one-half to two-thirds their calcium needs.

What to do: Three servings a day, girls! If you can’t drink that much orange juice, then consider supplements. 

The 40s: Middle-age spread, the calorie drop, premenopause

1. Middle-age spread: After 40, women start losing approximately one to two percent of muscle mass every year, which equates to a five- to 10-pound loss of muscle every decade. The loss of muscle slows metabolism, so you’re likely to notice excess weight. If you don’t nip this trend in the bud, it will progress until you not only can’t lift the grocery bag, you can’t get out of the easy chair without help. This is the time to start a muscle-building program, if you haven’t already. In addition, studies show that people who divide their food intake into little meals and snacks have an easier time managing their weight. 

What to do: That doesn’t mean adding more food to your daily intake, but rather spreading your food intake out so you have the toast, peanut butter and orange juice for breakfast and save the yogurt and blueberries for a mid-morning snack. Or you have the turkey sandwich and milk for lunch and save the apple and nuts for a mid-afternoon snack.

2.  Heart disease: While most women list cancer at the top of their health concerns, a woman’s greatest health threat is actually heart disease, which escalates in the middle years. Low saturated-fat and cholesterol diets are more important than ever, as are high-fiber foods such as beans (they contain a host of heart-healthy compounds such as saponins, phytosterols and phytoestrogens), the omega-3 fats in fish and foods fortified with the omega-3 fat DHA, and the monounsaturated fats in olive oil. 

3. Premenopause: Some women also may be experiencing premenopause.

What to do: To help curb hot flashes, you must exercise every day, watch out for foods that aggravate the flashes, and increase your intake of foods that might help curb symptoms. Avoid coffee and spicy foods, both of which alter blood flow and can increase the symptoms of hot flashes. Be careful of the herb teas you drink. Some herbs, such as black cohosh or dong quai, cause blood vessel dilation and could aggravate a hot flash. On the other hand, while the research is sketchy at best, some women swear that increasing their intake of soy has helped curb their hot flashes.

By:  Elizabeth Somer is a registered dietitian, the author of Age-Proof Your Diet,”and a regular contributor to TODAY.

Hunger Hormome Research Break-Through...

Researchers Suppress 'Hunger Hormone'

Minimally invasive procedure in pigs produced effect similar to bariatric surgery

-- Robert Preidt
Minimally invasive procedure in pigs produced effect similar to bariatric surgery.

TUESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A minimally invasive procedure successfully suppressed levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin in pigs and led to appetite reduction results similar to bariatric surgery, say Johns Hopkins researchers.

They chemically vaporized the main vessel carrying blood to the top section (fundus) of the stomach. About 90 percent of the body's ghrelin originates in the fundus, which requires a good blood supply to make the hormone.

The study was published in the Sept. 16 issue of Radiology.

"With gastric artery chemical embolization, called GACE, there's no major surgery. In our study in pigs, this procedure produced an effect similar to bariatric surgery by suppressing ghrelin levels and subsequently lowering appetite," Dr. Aravind Arepally, clinical director of the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, and associate professor of radiology and surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in university news release.

Bariatric surgery involves removal, reconstruction or bypass of part of the stomach or bowel to suppress appetite and help people lose weight. However, there are potential major risks and complications associated with the procedure.

"Obesity is the biggest biomedical problem in the country, and a minimally invasive alternative would make an enormous difference in choices and outcomes for people," Arepally said.

In this study, the Hopkins team used 10 healthy pigs, which have human-like anatomy and physiology. After an overnight fast, the pigs were weighed and blood samples were taken to determine their baseline ghrelin levels.

The researchers used X-ray for guidance as they threaded a thin tube through a large blood vessel near the pigs' groins and into the gastric arteries that supply blood to the stomach. They injected sodium morrhuate (a chemical that destroys blood vessels) into the left gastric arteries of five pigs and injected harmless saline into the other five pigs.

Blood samples collected for a month after the procedure showed that ghrelin levels in the GACE-treated pigs were up to 60 percent lower than baseline levels.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about adult obesity.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, news release, Sept. 16, 2008

Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Kid Favorite That’s Good for Blood Sugar

There’s something sweet and creamy that kids love -- and it may actually be good for your blood sugar. 

It’s not chocolate pudding. It’s peanut butter. Adults in a recent study who ate this childhood fave at least five times a week reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 27 percent. 

Go Nutty
Researchers speculate that the unsaturated fats in nuts -- and nut butters -- may partly explain the big dip in diabetes risk. These healthy fats may somehow improve insulin sensitivity and keep your blood sugar stable. The fiber and magnesium in nuts may also decrease insulin demand and resistance. (Better than takeout: Satisfy your cravings for Chinese food with these deliciously healthy Spicy Peanut Noodles.) 

**However, one thing to be aware of is mold in peanuts. And believe it or not, the safest source is generally the cheap garden variety Jif, Skippy or the like...because they buy their peanuts fresh, put them through an effective cooking and homogenization process, and then seal them in air tight jars.  The mold buildup on those will be much lower than your typical "fresh" or natural peanut butters.

Source:  RealAge

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pistachios May Help Lower Bad Cholesterol

A new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that eating pistachios may help lower levels of bad cholesterol. For the study, researchers recruited 28 adults who had high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and had them eat three different diets for one month each. The first was a low-fat diet without pistachios, the second was a healthy diet with one daily serving of pistachios, and the third was the healthy diet with two daily servings of pistachios. investigators found that the participants' bad cholesterol levels dropped by 9 percent during the month they ate one serving of the nuts per day, and by 12 percent the month they ate two servings per day.  Read full story >

(The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) 
True Health Is True Wealth

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pet Therapy

"All over the world, major universities researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions are employing full-time pet therapists."  …Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness.

Too often, people who live alone or are suddenly widowed die of broken hearts. Love is the most important medicine and pets are one of nature's best sources of affection. Pets relax and calm. They take the human mind off loneliness, grief, pain, and fear. They cause laughter and offer a sense of security and protection. They encourage exercise and broaden the circle of one's acquaintances.

Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have regular visits from pets - whether their own or those brought in from various agencies - are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment. Animals give the patient the will to live and in nursing homes, the medical staff is often surprised to see residents suddenly "become alive." Animals have a calming effect on humans and benefit mental well-being, especially with children and the elderly.

In recent years, the experts have been relying on pet therapy as a valuable aid in reaching out to the elderly, the infirm, and to ill or abused children through-out the country. Therapy animals go to convalescent homes, hospitals, day care centers, juvenile halls, and prisons. These animals are trained to be calm, gentle and well-mannered, especially around rambunctious children. There are no breed requirements.

In fact, many therapy animals are mixed breeds. They come in all sizes and shapes. Cats and small dogs are good because they can be lifted easily and fit even on the smallest laps. A large dog makes a good companion for someone in a wheelchair, sitting patiently and allowing the occupant to stroke his fur.

Most important is that the therapy cats and dogs have a calm, gentle personality and are people-oriented. They must love attention and petting and not be shy. In addition, they need basic obedience training and should be conditioned to sudden noises. They provide an invaluable service to those who are lonely, abandoned, or ill; indeed, anyone who needs the miraculous healing that can arise from a hug and a gentle touch.

Children, especially those who are abused or neglected, are able to communicate with animals. A pet offers a safe place for a child with emotional problems. They give unconditional love, providing a security blanket.

A dog, cat, ferret or parrot can be the bond that glues a family together when upheaval, such as moving, death or divorce, occurs. Often, an animal can reach a child beyond an adult's touch.

Mary Kelly, a child-life specialist at Children's Hospital in Oakland, CA (USA), coordinates pet therapy sessions twice a month. She keeps a camera on hand to record the incredible connections that occur. "We've had very dramatic visits where a dog brought a child who has not spoken for months out of depression," she states. "Most kids can relate to animals, so seeing and touching the pets brings them a sense of normalcy."

Professionals in the field of pet-assisted therapy find that in addition to cats and dogs, fish, pot-bellied pigs, birds, reptiles, rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, horses and llamas are also valuable healers. They have also found pets lower blood pressure and stress levels, give the patient a reason to interact, offer a chance to exercise and a sense of security and/or intimacy, allow communication, and offer continuity in life.

The innocence of animals and their ability to love makes animals special. Human beings want to be part of their world, to connect with them in a mysterious and powerful way that will strengthen and nurture both humans and animals.

Allen Schoen, DVM says "In order to bond with animals, we have to step outside ourselves and learn to communicate on their terms." During his years as a veterinarian, Dr. Schoen tells how love for our pets can literally save lives and how their love for us can be transforming in his book Love, Miracles and Animal Healing.

That animals feel our pain, our joy, and our stress should come as no surprise for anyone who has a pet. Whether we recognize it or not, the emotional as well as the physical environment we humans create has a direct impact on the way our pets behave. Dr. Schoen explains that "...we emit energetic signals related to our deepest feelings that are picked up by those around us - especially our pets." The emotional benefits from animals are difficult to measure, meaning that pets help humans without anyone knowing exactly why. What experts know, however, is that animals allow humans to focus, even for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.

Animals, especially small ones, have shown promise for many conditions, both social and physical:

  • Pets help Alzheimer's patients by bringing them back to the present. Specially trained pups can also help alert others that an Alzheimer's patient has wandered into harm's way. "Pets can provide a measure of safety to people with the disease," says Thomas Kirk, a vice president of a chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
  • Children who suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD) are able to focus on a pet, which helps them learn to concentrate.
  • Mentally ill patients, or those with emotional problems, share a common bond when a cat or dog enters the room. Instead of reacting negatively to one another, it boosts morale and fosters a positive environment.
  • Pets are an antidote to depression. Life in a care facility can be boring. A visit from a therapy cat or dog breaks the daily routine and stimulates interest in the world outside.
  • Pets provide social interaction. In a health care facility, people come out of their rooms to socialize with the animals and with each other.
  • Everyone has the need to touch. Many humans are uncomfortable hugging or touching strangers, even those close to them. Some people are alone and have no hands to hold, no bodies to hug. But rubbing the fur of a cat or dog can provide a stimulation that is sorely lacking. The nonverbal connection is invaluable in the healing process.
  • Pets are a source of expectation, hope and communication. Looking forward to a social call or getting home after time away gives that spark of anticipation all humans need to help feel alive. Pets can help start a conversation, and help one who is struggling against unusual difficulties in learning to speak for the first time or after a speech impairment such as a stroke.

Animals also provide healing outside domestic settings: dolphin and pet-assisted therapy, horseback riding, farm animal and wildlife interaction, and marine life activity.

The incredible abilities of pets are astounding:

Dogs sniff out deadly land mines in Bosnia and earthquakes worldwide, searching for victims. After the bombing in Oklahoma City, OK (USA), they crawled through twisted metal and broken glass in 12 hour shifts, searching for survivors. K-9 Corps dogs work with police and military personnel to uncover drugs, bombs and criminals. At airports, specially trained beagles scramble through cargo and baggage for illegal contraband, including foreign viruses. They aid the blind and assist the deaf and disabled. They have been used to detect cancerous lesions, long before they look suspicious. And we must never forget the combat dogs who served our countries, War Dogs - Dogs in Combat.

Cats are certainly the most curious and also the most psychic of pets. Throughout the ages, they have predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters, found missing persons and alerted their owners to danger. They can sense when a person needs help. Betty White relates the story of Handsome, a Persian cat who was taken to a nursing home and met Marie, a lonely senior with no friends and no family. She remained curled in a fetal position with no interest in living. She had sores on her legs from constant scratching. After Handsome became Marie's roommate, whenever she tried to scratch herself, he would play with her hands or otherwise distract her. Within a month the sores had healed. But even more incredible, she was so fascinated with the cat that she asked the staff about his care. Before long, she was inviting other residents to come visit with her pet.

Even more dramatic is the story of Nina Sweeney from Lawrence, MA (USA). Her seven cats and dog saved her life one fateful night in January. The temperature was bitterly cold when she went to bed. During the night Nina was struck with a paralyzing illness that left her helpless. Unable to leave her bed, she listened as the fire in her stove sputtered and died. Outside, the thermometer registered below zero and the numbing chill seeped into the house. Nina prayed someone would find her as she shivered beneath her blankets. Two days passed before neighbors investigated. When they reached her, they found Nina alive and warm, one cat on either side of her, another draped like a fur on her neck. One was nestled on her chest and another under her arm. Beneath the covers were two other cats. Her dog lay across her stomach. Her pets had kept Nina from freezing to death.

A pet is an animal that is very beneficial to its owner. There’s even now a type of treatment called pet therapy. I myself have a pet dog and since having it, many things in my household have changed for the better. Below are 3 things why owning a pet will positively affect your life.

Firstly, a pet like any other animal needs to eat and shit. They have a daily schedule that needs to be attended to. Like for example, my pet dog eats 2 meals a day, once in the morning and once in the night. He gets his shower on Saturdays. So, caring for a pet actually encourages nurturance, responsibility and adherence to a daily schedule. This is especially a solid reason for you to convince your parent to get that pet you’ve been wanting.

Secondly, pets improve a person’s mood. No matter how angry, sad or stressed out you may be, spending time with your pet will put your focus and attention on it. There are actually 2 things that can suddenly improve your mood. One is a pet and the other is a baby. In this case, adopting a pet is easily more attainable than a baby.

Lastly, the third reason why you should own a pet is for accompaniment. This is especially beneficial to the elderly. Pets make you feel accepted every time. For example, my pet dog is usually left hanging around alone in the compound of my house. Even if you leave him alone the whole day, he will still come and lick me whenever I’m around. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is. Pets are also good listeners. Sharing your burden with it helps to alleviate your mind and put you at peace.

Marion Algier - True Health Is True Wealth

Source:  Just One More Pet

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

'Good' Fat Is A New Weapon in the Obesity Fight

weight, weight loss, obesity, overweight, fat, drug, acomplia, rimonabant, zimulti

A new understanding of brown fat cells -- the "good" kind of fat that burns energy and keeps you warm -- could lead to new treatments for obesity.

Researchers managed to use a single molecular switch to turn immature muscle cells into brown fat cells in the lab, suggesting that brown fat may be more akin to muscle cells than conventional white fat cells. Another team has discovered that a protein important for bone growth helped promote the development of brown fat tissue in mice.

Both teams said their new findings lend understanding about the origins of brown fat, which releases energy, in contrast to conventional white fat, which stores energy.

Researchers believe that if they can coax the body into making more calorie-burning brown fat, this might help obese people lose weight.