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Archive for April, 2012

Energy Bites

Makes about 25 bites
This week the Greatist Team decided to take our Gractivity fun to a whole new level: We stayed in the office and made a super-fun, super-quick, and super-healthy treat! (Well, at least they’re super healthy for treats.) Thanks to some inspiration from The Kitchn, we came up with a gluten-free, nut-free, vegan-friendly two-bite treat packed with fiber (from the oats) and just sweet enough to satisfy any dessert craving.
What You’ll Need:

4 cups rolled oats (we used gluten-free!)
1.5 cups raw sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup banana chips, crumbled
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup sunflower seed butter (can also use peanut or almond butter!)
1/2 cup agave nectar

What to Do: 

1. Combine oats, sunflower seeds, banana chips, blueberries, cinnamon, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Add sunflower seed butter and agave and stir until well combined.

2. Refrigerate mixture until relatively firm (about 20 minutes). (If you’re extra impatient like we are, feel free to throw the mixture in the freezer for half that time!)

3. Using a teaspoon to measure, roll mixture into balls. Feeling fancy? Try rolling the finished bites in cocoa powder, cinnamon, or toasted coconut. Or just start eating them as-is. Store in the fridge (or freezer) in an airtight container!

Read More: Greatist

Pho With Broccoli and Quinoa

This time I decided to include a high-protein grain in my vegetarian pho broth instead of traditional noodles. The broccoli is thinly sliced and steamed or blanched separately.

1 recipe vegetarian pho broth

6 ounces firm tofu, cut in dominoes

Soy sauce to taste (optional)

3 cups cooked quinoa

3 broccoli crowns, broken into florets and cut in slices 1/4 inch thick

A 3-inch piece of white radish, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch julienne

1/2 cup Asian or purple basil leaves, slivered if large, left whole if small

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup chopped cilantro

2 to 4 bird or serrano chilies, sliced thin or finely chopped (to taste)

6 mint sprigs

3 to 4 limes, cut in wedges

1. Have the broth at a simmer in a soup pot. Place the tofu in a bowl and season with soy sauce if desired.

2. Steam the broccoli for 1 to 2 minutes, just until crisp-tender.

3. Heat the quinoa and divide among 6 soup bowls. Add the tofu, steamed broccoli and radish julienne to the bowls and ladle in the hot broth. Sprinkle on half the cilantro, half the basil leaves and the green onions. Pass the chopped chilies, mint sprigs, the remaining basil and cilantro for guests to add as desired, and the lime wedges for guests to squeeze on.

Yield: 6 servings.

Advance preparation: The broth and the cooked quinoa will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and can be frozen. You can steam the broccoli several hours ahead.

Nutritional information per serving: 148 calories (151 with optional fish sauce); 3 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 23 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 65 milligrams sodium (255 milligrams with optional fish sauce; does not include salt to taste); 8 grams protein

Read More: NYT

Scrub Your Veggies With Baking Soda (and Other Tips)

It might not be the flashiest addition to a kitchen cabinet, but baking soda — fancy name, sodium bicarbonate — is a bona fide workhorse all around the house. And its ability to neutralize acids and bases gives this unassuming powder some truly unexpected uses. Note: Make sure not to mix up baking soda with baking powder, which has different chemical properties!

  • Make a fruit-and-veggie scrub. We’re tired of dirty produce! Add a few teaspoons of baking soda to water and use the solution to scrub fresh produce, which will help remove grit, pesticides, and whatever else made its way onto those vitamin-packed goodies. Rinse thoroughly afterward for fresh-tasting, clean produce.
  • Treat a sunburn. Add about a cup of baking soda to warm water and submerse affected skin for as long as desired to soothe the pain of sunburns.
  • Use it as an antacid. For regular heartburn victims or folks who ate a few too many tamales last night, baking soda is an effective antacid. Take 1/2 teaspoon in a full glass of water after meals for relief. Those watching their sodium might want to double check with a physician before taking this treatment, as baking soda contains a high amount of sodium.
  • Brush your teeth. Out of toothpaste? Make a thick baking soda paste using three-percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Scoop it up with a toothbrush for a quick and cheap substitute that could help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth.
  • Fight fires. We’re big fans of kitchen safety at Greatist, which is why we keep a box of baking soda handy whenever we cook. In the case of a grease fire or another small kitchen blaze, toss baking soda on the hot spot to help contain the flames. When heated, baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which helps stifle the fire.
Greatist

Brain Food: Berries Can Slow Cognitive Decline

Its spring, which means it’s the season for fresh, juicy berries. And that’s good news for your brain.

Researchers report in the journal Annals of Neurology that women who ate berries more frequently over a period of years showed slower decline in brain functions such as memory and attention when they got older than women who ate them less often. The findings don’t confirm that eating berries can prevent dementia associated with aging, or slow down Alzheimer’s, but they suggest that the fruits may play a part in keeping brains healthy.

The protective effect of blueberries and strawberries isn’t an entirely new finding. But previous studies have involved animals and only a small number of people, which left open the possibility that it wasn’t the berries, but something else that might be influencing how quickly the brain lost its executive functions.

In the current analysis, Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her colleagues addressed the gap in the research by reviewing the eating habits of a single cohort of 16,000 women participating in the Nurses Health Study. During their 50s and 60s, every four years the women answered questions by phone about what they ate. And in their 70s, they came into the lab for six different cognitive function tests. Devore and her team also had information on the women’s education, income and other socioeconomic factors that can affect cognitive function.

Their findings confirmed that women who ate berries at least once a week were able to slow down their cognitive decline by about 1.5 to 2.5 years. For blueberries, the effect started with about a half cup of berries each week; for strawberries, it took about a cup of the fruit per week. This effect persisted even after the scientists accounted for the fact that berry-eaters might also have other brain-healthy habits or characteristics, such as having more education and engaging in intellectually satisfying pursuits such as learning new languages or maintaining a rich network of social connections. “In the end, we did not see a lot of confounding from these factors,” says Devore.

(SPECIAL: What Health Experts Eat For Breakfast)

She and her colleagues focused their attention on berries because rodent studies showed that the key compound in berries, a flavonoid called anthocyanidin, could seep through the blood and into brain tissues — specifically concentrating in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. As an antioxidant, flavonoids also fight inflammation and oxidation, both processes that affect aging brain cells.

The study is only the first to track berry consumption long term until cognitive decline set in, and the findings will need to be repeated and confirmed. But in the meantime, says Devore, it makes sense to add blueberries and strawberries to your diet, frozen or fresh. “I don’t think there are many downsides to that. The availability of berries and access to this kind of intervention is great as a public health message.” And a tasty one too.

Read more: Time

Sleeping on the Job? Good! Overachievers Do

Don’t expect to find Ronit Rogoszinski in meetings, entertaining clients, or hunched over her desk around lunchtime. The 45-year-old wealth adviser and financial planner in New York describes herself as an expert “practitioner of the power nap.” After waking up at about 5 a.m., sending her kids off to school, and putting in a morning of meeting with clients, Rogoszinski needs to crash. “By noon, my brain starts to fry,” she says. So she heads to one of her hideouts—her car, for example—to recharge. As she puts it, “I’m not quite sure how I’d handle the day without that timeout.”

Rogoszinski is by no means a lone clandestine sleeper. Comments on Wall Street Oasis, a Web forum popular among investment bankers, reveal an obsessive interest in daytime napping, with tips on “sleep hacking” (moving to polyphasic sleep schedules), recommendations on where to doze (bathroom stalls, conference rooms), and directions for how to act when caught (as if nothing unusual had happened). When nodding off on a toilet, “you clearly need the seat down for maximum comfort,” advises one commenter, “which necessitates pants up to prevent your bare ass on the cold porcelain. Longest I ever slept uninterrupted without tipping over was two hours, from 4-6am.”

Many Wall Street types use power-napping to make up for lost sleep. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey lists finance as the eighth-most-sleep-deprived occupation. (Home health aides, lawyers, police officers, and paramedics make up the top four.) In another study, published in January in Administrative Science Quarterly, Dr. Alexandra Michel of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business mapped the sleep deprivation of investment bankers over a nine-year period. She discovered that maladies including back pain, depression, and physical tics emerge—and affect performance—as soon as the fourth year on the job.

It’s not uncommon for finance workers to brag about how little sleep they get—or need. “Short sleepers,” outliers who thrive on four or five hours of sleep a day, do exist. (Napoleon is said to have been one.) But they constitute only 1 percent to 3 percent of the population. So some workers on Wall Street are adapting their daily schedules to hit the targeted amount of sleep, which is at least seven hours.

“We can use sleep tactically, to our advantage,” says Dr. David F. Dinges, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied astronauts’ sleep habits for NASA. Dinges encourages workday napping, or “multitask relaxing,” in his words. His research suggests that cognitive ability depends on how much sleep one accumulates over a 24-hour period, not just overnight. Short periods of work followed by sleep reinforcement allow people to enhance their cognitive efficacy, he argues. Rather than fighting to stay awake at your desk with diminishing cognitive returns, he says, “work on it in your sleep.” Your brain continues to be productive while you’re unconscious.

Cubicle grunts aren’t the only creative sleep strategists. Jim Angleton, the chief executive officer of a financial advising firm in Miami, is a self-described “sleep pro.” He starts resetting his internal clock two days before departing for destinations abroad by manipulating his sleep and breakfast patterns. While flying, he’s careful about what he drinks (never alcohol or caffeine) and where he sits (business class). Dinges, for his part, asks for hotel rooms far from noisy gathering areas and rumbling ice machines. “I don’t care about the view,” he says. “I want a nice, quiet room.”

No matter what the science says, sleeping on the job remains a covert op. Rogoszinski once fell asleep on a patterned sweater, which blew her cover and left an imprint on her face. Her colleagues still tease her about it. “Be sure to rest on smooth surfaces,” she cautions.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Perceptions ‘can make pain worse’

How much of pain is in the mind?

 

Feeling sad or watching while receiving an injection may make pain an even more unpleasant experience, according to a pair of studies.

Pain is known to be a complicated mix of responses in the mind and in the body.

A study in Japan used different pictures of emotions to change the response to pain.

While a team in Germany showed that altering what patients could see also affected pain levels.

The first study, published in The Journal of Pain, showed pictures of sad, happy and emotionless faces to 19 people in the experiment. The pictures are supposed to provoke a similar emotional response in the person taking part.

At the same time as they were shown the pictures, the participants were zapped in the arm with an electrical current.

The painful jolt was the same strength each time, however, the people in the study reported higher levels of pain when looking at sad faces.

The researchers at Hiroshima University said: “Our results provide evidence that people tend to show higher pain sensitivities when they are feeling sad… and that emotional context is an important factor for understanding pain in human beings.”

‘Don’t look’

A separate investigation by a team at University Medical Center Hamberg-Eppendorf, in Germany, tried altering pain in a different way.

It replaced 25 people’s left hand with a virtual one. A video of a hand was played on a screen and the participant’s hand was placed underneath the screen so that it appeared as though the image was really their own hand.

The video would show either just the hand, the hand being pricked by a needle or being poked with a cotton bud.

An electrical jolt, which could be painful or non-painful, was delivered at the same time as the prick or the poke.

The researchers, writing in the Pain Journal, said: “Both painful and non-painful electrical stimuli were perceived as more unpleasant when participants viewed a needle prick, compared to when they viewed [cotton bud] touch or hand alone.

“This finding provides empirical evidence in favour of the common advice not to look at the needle prick when receiving an injection.”

BBC

H5N2禽流感還不會危害人體 但須建立長期監控機制

H5N2禽流感還不會危害人體 但必須建立長期監控機制(李河錫報導)

 

正當禽流感逐漸平息之際,衛生署卻公佈彰化出現三起民眾感染「H5N2禽流感」產生抗體個案;縣府衛生局長葉彥伯彙整表示,這是今年初疫情盛行期,所採取「人體血清檢體」監測的結果,共採取七十二個檢體,經換算感染率約只有4%,以流行病學盛行率來研判,H5N2不論低還是高病原性病毒,即使在盛行高峰,對人體感染率依然相當低。
葉彥伯局長進一步指出,衛生署所宣告人體產生禽流感抗體案例,都是在芳苑鄉、同一處蛋雞場遭感染,一位是養雞場業者、兩名則是協助撲殺雞隻人員,經事後追 蹤都沒有出現明顯感冒病徵,證實「H5N2病毒」,至今還沒進入「人畜共通」疾病階段,比起一般感冒或流行性感冒,對民眾並沒有任何危害性!
H5N2對人體並沒有危害性,但是衛生署公佈三起人體產生抗體案例後,還是難免引起部份消費者憂心;彰化養雞業者則強調,多年前已有學者研究報告質疑,H5N2禽流感病毒已有本土化趨勢,並有部份養雞戶感染後不發病,人體產生抗體應該是常態現象,但衛生署卻又大肆宣告,唯恐讓原本就低迷的產業再度受到波及。
彰化縣養雞協會理事長陳國村,更埋怨衛生署,沒有知會產業界就勁行公佈這項訊息,將讓好不容易回穩雞蛋與土雞價格再度遭到衝擊,會造成產業界二度傷害。
基層動物防疫人員則質疑,多年前衛生署為何沒進行「人體血清抗體」流行病學調查,早已有學者研究發現人體會產生H5N2抗體卻不加以彙整採信,如今才以「首例」公佈,是否凸顯當年有防疫失職之嫌!還是如今才倉促公佈意圖卸責,則有待檢視。
葉彥伯局長強調,根據WHO世界衛生組織監測,有部份流行感冒病毒經人傳畜、畜傳人、在經由人傳人後危害性將相當大,因此將會同動物防疫所,從常態性抽檢家禽畜血清中的病毒與移行抗體,以及飼養戶等高危險族群人體血清進行雙管齊下監測,經交叉比對後,希望能強化建立疫情預警機制,以防萬一出現疫情、導致失控。
雖然「H5N2禽流感」已出現感染人體、產生抗體個案,不過葉彥伯局長則是樂觀表示,以多年來國內外疫情盛行趨勢研判,會演變成像「H5N1病毒」嚴重危害人體的機率並不高,只需持續嚴密監控,民眾還不需太過緊張!
(攝影:李河錫)

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