vitamins, alternative medicine, antioxidants

Vitamin Stuff Blog

A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Drinking beats Exercise for Heart Health?

I've blogged about the possible health benefits of alcohol consumption before (see the links below). In one post, I discussed red wine consumption, resveratrol, and expressed my feeling that, if you're diabetic, and are going to drink anything at all it should be a very, very, dry red wine. In another post, I discussed red wine again and the polyphenols that are present in it.

Today, I came across an interesting article written by Dr. Sanjay Gupta that put forth an "interesting" notion, which is that you may be able to trade off daily exercise for one to two drinks per day.

You can see why I put the word "interesting" in quotes. I don't think any sane person would literally recommend giving up exercise in favor of hitting the bottle, even if the alcohol consumption is minimal. However, the information Gupta reported was nonetheless interesting (that word again).

As Gupta states, in a cardiovascular sense, exercise and alcohol affect people in similar ways. Namely, when it comes to cholesterol. They both raise HDL, or high density lipoproteins.

HDL is something you want high levels of because it helps get rid of fatty buildup along the interior walls of blood vessels (which form as a result of LDL cholesterol).

Interesting points from the article:

1. The highest rates of cardiovascular disease are seen in people who neither exercise nor use alcohol.

2. Moderate consumption and exercise lowers the risk by half.

3. Alcohol consumption, in combination with caffeine, may lower insulin resistance.

Here are those two prior posts I mentioned:

English cider apples are rich in polyphenols which are also found in Red Wine

Are there health benefits to Drinking - Is it healthy?









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How will you know when a ferret is sleepy and should go to bed?


Chloe "thinks" she will tear up my plant

Well, one question to deal with is, Will you know? Ferrets seem to be notorious for wandering off and falling asleep. This wouldn't be so much of a problem were it not for the fact that they can do this at, practically, any moment, at any time.

So, let's say you've let your ferret out for a morning jaunt, but you have to be somewhere in an hour and a half. You better watch your ferret, because after he/she has done some playing, running around and investigating (a never-ending pursuit in the ferret world), and eating...your pet could decide to amble off and take a siesta... in a drawer, under a couch or chair (where all sorts of valuables have been stolen and stashed), under your bed's comforter, or even under your kitchen sink.

Obviously, a ferret pulling a houdini act could put a definite crimp in your plans for the day, especially if you are running on a tight schedule.

However, I've noticed with Chloe that events tend to happen in this order:

1. get out of cage,

2. run around checking to see if there's anything new in the house,

3. brief play with owner,

4. checking to see if stolen-goods caches are ok,

5. more running around,

6. more play,

7. mischievous event of the day,

8. settling down at the bowl on the kitchen floor for a good meal.

Chloe tends to eat at the end of her jaunt, after which she gets sleepy. So, I keep an eye on her and I know that when the crunching begins its time to keep an eye on her before she disappears for several hours into some place unknown.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bodybuilding and nutrition

Here's an article by Opal Tribble on bodybuilding and nutrition. Good nutrition is one of the cornerstones of bodybuilding and strength training, as important as good workouts and good genetics. You simply cannot build power and muscle without supplying the body with the proper foods, including optimal amounts of high quality protein as well as the nutrients that are necessary to allow the body's metabolic processes to operate at peak efficiency.

Here's the article: Bodybuilding: The Importance Of Nutrition









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Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Ferret Clown car

Here's a pretty funny ferret video, even if it is fairly short. Almost makes me wish I had more than one ferret...almost, but not quite.











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Why the issue of nutrient supplementation is fluid and complex

In the previous post (Vitamin D Supplementation, I pointed out that a number of nutrition researchers are of the belief that the current recommendations for vitamin D intake are too low.

However, here's one of the problems with advocating any level of nutrient supplementation: the benefits of supplementation are not really cut-and-dried and, very often, it happens to be the case that ongoing research presents information and conclusions that seem contradictory to previous information, perhaps even undermining the possible basis for supplementation.

The article linked below states, with regard to vitamin D:

1. Ingested vitamin D (supplementation versus natural food sources) may suppress the immune system.

2. Vitamin D intake may make certain disease processes worse.

Unfortunately, when we're talking about nutrient supplements, we may often be speaking from a podium constructed on shifting sands.

Vitamin D may make things worse









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Vitamin D Supplementation

Increasingly, it is thought that many westerners are now deficient in their levels of vitamin D. This is partially due to the fact that many individuals now spend the majority of each day inside and out of the sun (the best source of vitamin D), and also due to the fact that there are very few natural food sources for vitamin D, aside from cold water fish and enriched milk.

What are the benefits of vitamin D? Many or most of us have grown up knowing that this mineral is beneficial for strong bones and teeth. However, most of us haven't a clue as to the role this nutrient may play in other areas, such immune and brain functioning, and the likelihood of developing prostate and breast cancer.

Can you get enough vitamin D from a typical diet? This is debatable, and, as more time passes, increasingly a contentious issue. There are those who believe that a standard (and balanced diet) will generally provide every nutrient that is needed by the human body.

However, the percentage of the population that actually gets something akin to a consistently nutritious and balanced diet may be fairly low. And, then again, there is that fact that we have, as a society, become much more sedentary in our work and recreation, and more reliant on processed foods that are high in sodium, fat (not the good kind) and calories and low in nutritional value.

Individuals who believe in supplementation, including a number of noteworthy gerontologists, contend that:

1. There are optimal levels of nutrient substances, that, if maintained within the human body, may lead to optimal health.

2. These optimal levels of antioxidants and other nutrients are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to obtain through dietary intake alone.

Dr. Michael Holick, a researcher at the Boston University Medical Center, has stated that more than one-third of the U.S. population, perhaps half, is either chronically or seasonally deficient in vitamin D. Other researchers believe that the current recommended levels of vitamin D are too low and that the guidelines may increase, at some point, from 200 IUs (international units) daily to between 800 and 1000 international units daily.








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Alternative Medicine and Migraines

Here's some information I just came across that is fairly interesting. of course, some might find it questionable until they read the source.

Alternative therapies for individuals who have migraines can potentially include the following:

1. Acupuncture treatment

2. Biofeedback

3. Yoga

4. Supplementation with coenzyme q-10, magnesium, and feverfew.

The source of the information? A neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Jerry Swanson. He does, of course, caution individuals to consult with a physician before embarking on alternative therapies. If for no other reason, this is simply to avoid situations that may arise due to one's existing medical conditions or one's current medication regimen.









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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ferrets and bags


Chloe steals an apple

Tip: don't leave zippered bags (such as carry-on luggage, cosmetics containers, laptop bags, and purses) laying around the house if you have a ferret, particularly if you have things in those bags that you'd like to keep possession of.

For some ferrets (I'm referencing Chloe here and, to be realistic, all ferrets), bags hold all the lure of buried treasure. And zippers on bags simply dare them to try and steal the treasure. Remember, ferrets are a bit like bank robbers. You don't want to tempt them and you certainly don't want to dare them. So, keep the bags out of sight, or at least out of reach. Remember, the name for this animal, Mustela putorius furo, actually means “stinky thief.”

Also be careful of leaving openings in your home to anything that might be hazardous to your ferret, including bags, doors, and containers that they might not be able to get out of (such as, speaking from experience, an umbrella stand).

They say curiosity killed the cat...but I believe the saying fits ferrets all the more.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Folic Acid Supplementation

It's not so infrequent that you'll hear arguments against vitamin and mineral supplementation. The mantra typically goes something like "you can get everything you need from natural food sources alone".

And, for the most part, I agree with that statement. A balanced diet, low in processed foods and rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and (for non-vegans and non-vegetarians) lean meat can give you exactly what your body needs.

However, as sensible as that mantra may seem, it, nonetheless, flies in the face of one reality: the typical consumer does not enjoy this type of diet and, instead, consumes meals that are high in calories, low in fiber, and largely bereft of nutritional value.

In other words, people tend to eat a lot of cheap, fast food.

The truth is that nutrient supplementation can provide substantial and verifiable benefits. Supplementation, it should be noted, is not synonymous with mega-supplementation, a practice that, for some individuals, may actually be unhealthy and even potentially dangerous (for instance, mega-supplementing with nutrients that have a blood thinning effect when you already use a prescribed anti-coagulant).

And here's a good example of what I mean, recently reported in the news. For more than a decade, white bread products have been enriched with folic acid. The result: statistically significant drops in the incidence of spina bifida and anencephaly among newborns.

This is, of course, a very specific example, as it applies to women of childbearing age. However, it does illustrate the point. For optimal health benefits and to lessen the risk of certain conditions, supplementation can sometimes fill in the gaps left by a modern lifestyle.









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One Ferret's Passing

This is surely one of the saddest posts I've ever read. No one wants to lose a cherished pet, but the loss and grief a person feels when a pet dies is a testament to the animal's life. I hope this site remains up.

Saying Goodbye



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Other ferret sites

Some people think that directories have gone out of fashion on the web. I disagree. There's really ample room for the development of special interest niche directories that serve a specific type of user community. Perhaps, one day, I'll take the time to develop a list of every great ferret site out there and organize it. Perhaps not. In the meantime, though, I have a small list of a few good sites on the homepage for Chloe's mini-blog. The list should grow over time.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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How many ferrets are there named Chloe?

I have a feeling that there might be quite a few actually. I suppose, as with people, certain names achieve popularity (I didn't name Chloe, by the way. She was a rescue, for which I am always glad and grateful) and this phenomenon applies to house skunks, or ferrets. Actually, I shouldn't compare Chloe or other ferrets to skunks. She is a cousin to the mighty and honorable skunk, but she has been, as I'm sure most house ferrets have been, descented. Still, the little weasel does seem to need a bath every few days. If not, her "aroma" starts leaning toward the skunky end of the weasel family spectrum.

Here's a link to another page about a ferret named Chloe:

Chloe ferret finds a cozy place to nap...



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Stuff

Here are two new articles by Opal Tribble. The first is on The Mediterranean Diet and the second is a very informative article about Yoga, titled Yoga: A Path To Exercise, Healing, And Enlightenment

Also, here are the most recent additions to the dictionary that's under construction:

Hypothalamus

Inflammation

Statins

Sucrose

Telomeres

Sucralose

Norepinephrine

Glucose

Human growth hormone









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Monday, January 21, 2008

How much play-time does a ferret need?


Chloe luxuriates on a comforter

I've seen more than one book recommend several hours of daily "out of the cage" time for a pet ferret. But this may be difficult for many owners due to the fact that when a ferret is out and running about, an owner should remain attentive to what is going on, which can be demanding.

Obviously, you don't want things destroyed, household items knocked over, or off a shelf and broken. And you certainly don't want your ferret becoming hurt or injured simply because you weren't paying attention. Having a ferret "out" is similar in a sense to babysitting.

So, how much playtime your fuzzy friend gets will probably be mediated by how willing or able you are to devote supervisory attention to the task. And, of course, if you are very tired or have to concentrate on something tedious and anxiety-provoking like doing your taxes, you may not "especially want" your ferret out and causing bedlam.

However, your ferret does NEED to be out of its cage EVERY day without fail. Repeat: your ferret needs this!

And if you can't provide daily opportunities for your ferret to be out in the house, running around, investigating, exploring, and playing (and occasionally causing havoc), you DON'T NEED to own a ferret. Because you will have a very sad ferret and you will, in fact, be a terrible ferret owner.

Ferrets are highly intelligent animals and crave and require free time out of their cages, no matter no how nice the cage may be.

How long your ferret should be out will be dictated by two parties, you and your ferret. You, as the first party, will let your ferret out and responsibly watch him/her. Your ferret, as the second party, will dutifully engage in ferret activities (causing chaos and generally having fun). Your ferret will also at some point begin to wind down (sometimes after eating) at which point, you, as the first party, should notice and then take your pet back to its cage where it can crawl into its hammock or into its sleep sack (contrary to the advertising images in stores, Chloe refuses to use a hammock).

In my case, Chloe gets out in the morning, and then again at night. In each case, I try to make sure that no one is visiting (you don't want doors opening and shutting--too tempting to a ferret--and you don't want excess "people feet" moving around since a ferret can be injured by a careless person who is not paying attention).

I also try to make sure that I interact with her when she's out. In other words, don't just let your ferret out. She's not a cat. Ferrets like to interact. Yes, sometimes they are cat-like in that they will sometimes ignore you and do their own thing. But, sometimes, a ferret will want nothing more than to play with you. And you should be available for this. Ferrets have short lives. And they live fast and furious. And if you are going to own a ferret, you should be willing to accomodate them and allow them to be happy. Because if you provide the opportunity for this, they will be.

Once again, don't be a ferret owner unless you TRULY can be.


Oh, forgot to mention: when Chloe starts eating, I know that is my signal to put her back in the cage, because otherwise she will slink off and find a place to hide and fall asleep in (a hardware drawer, the bottom of an armoire, or my sock bin).



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Developing a rudimentary beginning workout routine

Here's a factoid: A german study found that those individuals who had the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet had the lowest rates of hay fever.

Fortunately, I've never had hayfever. Nor have I had problems with allergies.

Anyway, I was asked by someone if I could supply a basic free weight workout routine. This is for an individual who certainly has the genetic potential to develop a significant amount of strength and muscle (you could describe his physique as metamorphic, with some endomorphic properties), but has almost no experience working out in the gym.

This is what I told him. He needs to start with basic exercises and, initially, it wouldn't be a bad idea to simply do one basic exercise per major muscle group. I also told him to use an amount of weight, on each exercise, that would allow him to comfortably accomplish 8-10 repetitions in good form (i.e. no jerking of the back on curls or pushdowns, and no bouncing of the bar on presses).

The routine I setup for him is a very basic four-day-split that groups certain complementary muscle groups together on mondays and thursdays, and other complementary muscle groups together on tuesdays and fridays.

What is the purpose of this type of split workout routine? Quite simple. It allows you to avoid overworking certain muscle groups by working them all on the say day and it also allows more than ample time for muscle recuperation.


Mondays and Thursdays

Chest - Bench Press
Shoulders - Lateral shoulder raises
Triceps - Tricep pushdowns on a pulley machine

Tuesdays and Fridays

Back - Lat (latissimus dorsi) pulldowns
Biceps - Dumbbell curls


This routine does not mention abs or legs, of course. But for an individual who is just starting a workout routine, particularly a free weight routine, there's no harm in taking graduated steps.










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The Fox and the Hound

Here's a link to a really endearing story about an orphaned fox who was adopted by a three-year-old dog. However, the story reminds me of the lady (I could say "girl" since she is only about 22 but I'm not sure if that sounds right) who regularly cuts my hair. She seemed to think that foxes are not part of the canine family. She stated once, as I sat in her chair, "foxes are really small, but that's because they're rodents". Which, of course, has to be one of the most memorable comments I've come across. Perhaps she should consider employment at Petsmart where all the clerks seem to think that ferrets are rodents as well. Well, I shouldn't laugh too hard at her expense. Perhaps, oneday, she'll learn that foxes are not related to rats and mice. But, then again, I do live in the south and "book lernin" still has a "ways to go".

This is really a great story:

Adopting a fox









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What I ate for breakfast

This is not the first time I've posted about what I've eaten for breakfast and I suppose it won't be the last. Today, I had a green apple and a variety of nuts, in addition to a third of a zero cholesterol, zero fat omelet (too many mushrooms in this one for me to continue eating it).

Nuts are great because they are a source of monounsaturated fat (in a prior post, I mentioned that monounsaturated fat has been linked to weight loss and a more efficient metabolism). And specific nuts can be great sources of certain nutrients. For example, brazil nuts supply selenium, a mineral and antioxidant.

Can you eat too many apples, though? As they say, too much of anything can potentially be harmful. In this case, that would probably mean eating apples and nothing else. Regarding myself, I probably eat three green apples a day. And the greener they are, the more I like them.

In addition to providing fiber, I recall reading that quercetin (bioflavonoid) is found in apples, as well as in bananas and onions. Studies seem to suggest that quercetin can lessen the inflammation that causes sinus pain and congestion. Quercetin supplements often contain bromelain. Bromelain, nicely enough, is an anti-inflammatory agent that boosts the absorption of quercetin.










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More entries in the Dictionary

Work on the Vitaminstuff dictionary of terms continues. Here are the latest entries. What will be interesting, of course, when the dictionary is completed, is going back and crosslinking the terms where appropriate (i.e. where relevancy applies).

For example, serotonin and neurotransmitters would be crosslinked, as would the terms insulin, insulin resistance, and pancreas.



Insulin

Insulin Resistance

Kidneys

Naturopathy

Neurotransmitters

Pancreas

Phytonutrients

Pituitary Gland

Serotonin

Probiotics











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Collected Posts from the Vitamin Stuff Blog

Here are more collected posts from this blog. In other words, this is--

Archive page #2

Sugars and Starches, what's the difference?
Improving your health with a serving of nuts?
Is Your Diet Causing You To Be Depressed?
Does serotonin promote sleep?
Decreased energy levels - Overeating, Sleep, Nutrition
When will the body begin to cannibalize muscle tissue?
Foods that are high in antioxidants
What herbs or supplements are commonly used for depression?
Is there a safe way to lose a lot of weight?
Diets that promise you will lose weight
Are Fish Toxins Linked to Diabetes?
Can Plastic Surgery Help Migraines?
Weight Loss Surgery Eradicates Diabetes Symptoms
Found: A Gene That Controls Fat Cells
What are some good fiber foods?
Can Green Tea fight HIV infection?
Quality of GNC Supplements
The Gene Smart Diet
Tips for eating in a vegetarian lifestyle
Thoughts on Dropping Weight
What do doctors think about vitamin E supplements?
Regarding the Starting of a new diet regimen
How Healthy are Almonds?
The benefits of green leafy vegetables
How do doctors define obesity? (body fat, bmi,etc)
High Fiber Relatively Low Carb Cereal
Which B vitamins are the best?
Is There Evidence That Acupuncture Works?
What foods have both fiber and protein?
How good is fish for your diet?
New test for mitochondrial disease
Integrative Medicine Moving Into Mainstream
Limit Your Daily Calories and Lose Weight
Study Finds Red Meat Increases Risk of Macular Degeneration
Is complementary and alternative medicine Safe For Kids?
The difference between Vegetarianism and Veganism?
Does Acupuncture help Arthritis?
Skipping breakfast to cut calories. Recommended?
What are all the vegetable oils?
Are hazelnuts good for you?
Why (and how) To Get Your Omega-3s
Alternative Medicine Gaining Clout
A Headache Study Shows Acupuncture May Help
What Good Is Calling About Your Social Security Disability Claim?
The Low Glycemic Diet For Diabetics
Prevention is Key to Fighting Age-related Macular Degeneration
What is Watsu?
Healthcare, Medicine, and Natural Remedies
Keeping the Heart Healthy - exercise and nutrition
Fats Are Good For You, but its the type of fat
What Do Vegan Kids Eat?
Complementary and Alternative Medicine On The Rise
Must You Take Statins For Cholesterol?
Skin Aging and Sun Exposure
5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan) for depression and anxiety?
Can Veganism Cure Diabetes?
Turmeric and Type 2 Diabetes
Nanotechnology and Turmeric for Cancer?
Is Erectile Dysfunction Linked to Heart Attack?
Natural, Whole Food Fiber
Creatine and Athletic Performance
ADHD and Amino Acid Chocolate Chip Cookies
A Natural Antiseptic: Tea Tree Oil
Study Finds Hibiscus Tea Lowers Blood Pressure
Keeping Healthy During The Winter On A Budget
Too much vitamin E may increase chances of lung cancer
Eating Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight
Looking for a Safe, Drug-Free Alternative for Pain Management? Try Acupuncture
How Many Young Americans Are Vegetarian?
When Can a Food Be Labeled “Organic”?
The Smell of Garlic is the Key to Its Health Benefits
South Beach Diet: What it Is, What it Isn't
Cordyceps can increase oxygen supply and blood flow
Chondroitin helps in the formation of cartilage
The Path of Chocolate: Raw Cacoa
Walk! Save Money and Lose Weight
The benefits of sugarless gum may go beyond healthier teeth
The Truth About Fats: Healthy Fats and Harmful Fats
Can drinking red wine extend your life?
A New Purple, Antioxidant Tomato
Scientists Find Eating a High-Carb Breakfast Promotes Long-term Weight Loss
Get Enough (but not too much) Vitamin B Folate
Natural Viagra? Tribulus Terrestris
The New Superfood for Reducing Heart Disease – Tart Cherries
Are Injected Wrinkle Removers Safe?
Increasing Your Energy Naturally
Turmeric Trials
Lowering Cholesterol With Food and Statins
Need More Energy? Try Natural Herbs
Yucca Treats Many Conditions
Red Wine is once again proven to be healthy. Drink up!
Will Age Ninety be the New Age Fifty in the Future?
Hyaluronic acid – A Hydrating, Cosmetic Supplement
Glucosamine – Replace Your NSAIDS With Supplementation
Can that Little Pot Belly Indicate That You’re More Likely to Develop Heart Disease?
Isoflavone Supplementation for Stroke
Researches are Convinced that Juice Prevents Blockages in the Arteries
Does Juice Consumption Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Can Gum Disease Led to Cancer?
St. John’s Wort -Uplifting and Natural!
Can Asthma Be Caused By Dairy?
Big Breakfast = Small Waistline?
The Juice from Sea-buckthorn Berries
Can Drinking Alcohol Increase Chances of Breast Cancer?
Where are Germs Lurking?
Green Tea May Protect the Brain From Problems Stemming From Sleep Apnea
Are Omega Three Fatty Acids Beneficial in the Treatment of Bipolar Disease
Do Sedentary Individuals Age Faster than Active Individuals?
Can People can Live Longer in Spite of Being Overweight?
Older Americans are richer and live longer, but fatter than ever
Study of Cardiac Event Sufferers - they rarely change unhealthy eating Habits
Black Pepper Treats Skin Pigment Disease
Does sugar cause wrinkles?
Whole grains can shrink your mid-section and ward off disease
True Sex Foods and Aphrodesiacs
Get more sleep - Lose more weight
Supplemental Drinks and Too Faced Marketing
Short naps Boost Memory
Eating Red Meat Increases Colon Cancer
Researchers may have found a Longevity Gene
Limiting Yeast Consumption may lead to a longer healthier life
Botox: from food poisoning to wrinkle eliminator
What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Fish Oil is a healthy source of good fat
Peppers, Capsaicin, and Prostate Cancer
Artificial sweetener linked to weight gain
Food Enzymes
Losing Weight to Decrease your Risk of Cancer?
Cannabis Causes Gum Disease
Women’s G-Spot Found?
Don’t Supersize your meals – Superpower them with Super Foods
Nutritious, Amazing Olive Oil
Simple ways for cutting calories
Fish is Probably Healthy, Even With Mercury
Depression, Social Interaction, Endorphins, and Exercise
Acupuncture Not Just a Placebo
Type II Diabetes, Weight Loss, and Gatric Banding
Gout and Sugar Soft Drinks
Acupuncture Really Helps Osteoarthritis Sufferers According to Study
Nutrition for Healthier Eyes
Media Fallacies: Don't always believe the mainstream media
Can Acupuncture help In Vitro Fertilization?
Acupuncture as an anesthetic and the Limbic System
Organic food really is healthier
Pregnant Mothers Need Vitamin E to Reduce Asthma in Children
What's a Blogroll really for?
How the sexes fare when they reach 100 years
High Fat Diets and Vitamin C Create Carcinogens
Jumper - sci fi movie that jumped and fell short
Grape Seeds - the seeds themselves are a nutritional element
Creatine is a Natural Constituent of Skeletal Muscle
Inflammation allows the body to heal itself
Eat Grapefruit for Healthy Gums
The Devil is, obviously, in the Details

Hydrotherapy comes in Various Forms

Weight Training for Health
Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis May Not be Effective
Substituting Grape Juice and Grape Seed Extract for Wine
Smoking and Alzheimer's
The Sweetener Stevia and Diet Soda
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - its not hype
Would I ever undergo Lasik?
Dietary vitamin E can boost physical health for the elderly
Getting more fiber in your diet
Low Carb Diet versus Low Fat Diet
Protein Burns More Energy
DHEA Levels, Beer, and...erectile dysfunction, arthritis, etc.
Sleep, Carbs, and Food Cravings
Multiple Sclerosis and the Best Best Diet
Successful management of osteoarthritis
More definitions added
Working out to improve your sleep cycle
Drinking beats Exercise for Heart Health?
Bodybuilding and nutrition
Alternative Medicine and Migraines
Vitamin D Supplementation
Why the issue of nutrient supplementation is fluid and complex
Folic Acid Supplementation
Developing a rudimentary beginning workout routine
The fox and the hound
More entries in the Dictionary
What I ate for breakfast
Visceral Fat a.k.a Hidden Belly fat
Deaths caused by poor nutrition
Future Medicines in Danger









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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Visceral Fat a.k.a Hidden Belly fat

Visceral fat is another term for hidden belly fat, the fat that builds up around your internal organs. What are the risks of having too much visceral fat? That's an easy one: an increased risk for the development of metabolic syndrome and the onset of type II diabetes, in addition to hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.

In other words, if you build up too much visceral fat and maintain it for too long, you are putting yourself at risk for all the these conditions, not to mention cardiovascular disease and impaired kidney functioning.

Fortunately, however, visceral fat can be reduced through a number of tried and true techniques. There's nothing new about these techniques, of course, but they are certainly worthy of repetition.

1. Burn more calories by becoming more active. If you don't have time to go to the gym, at the very least try a morning or afternoon walk and do it consistently. Even getting a minimal amount of physical activity into your daily routine can, over the long haul, make a difference in your health. Consistency and repetition are really key. And if your job is sedentary and requires you to be chained to a desk, keyboard, and monitor all day long, make sure you get up and stretch or walk around frequently. Recent evidence indicates that the mere act of remaining sedentary for prolonged periods without interruption can sabotage an individual's attempts to lose weight.

2. Reduce your portions and eat more meals, not less. Those who vacation in Europe typically notice two things when Americans and Europeans are dining in restaurants. Americans are larger and they take bigger portions at meal time. The truth is, however, that few of us really need to consume the portion sizes that we have become accustomed to. By reducing portion size, you can begin to get a handle on appetite control and satiety and make life easier for your gastrointestinal processes. And eating a number of smaller meals throughout the day versus 2-3 large meals each day can help facilitate this. Not only that, it can help you avoid glycemic overloading and spikes in blood glucose levels, which, over time, can lead to insulin resistance.

3. Eat more monounsaturated fats. There's a reason why the residents of certain countries can include a significant amount of fat in their dietary intake without increases in average weight and added visceral fat. And it has everything to do with the type of fat they consume. Monounsaturated fats have been linked to weight loss and a more efficient metabolism. Where do you find monounsaturated fats? Olives, avocados, nuts (including peanuts, almonds, pistachios), seeds, and even peanut butter. However, from the standpoint of meal preparation, substituting olive oil for standard cooking oil is an excellent idea.

4. Get more polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Polyunsaturated fats can help to reduce overall cholesterol levels and can also help to lower your levels of bad cholesterol, or LDLs. These good fats can be obtained from fish oil, seafood, and nuts, foods that are coincidental for omega-3 fatty acids.








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Future Medicines in Danger

There are a number of reasons for increasing interest in complementary and alternative medicine and herbal medicine. And one of those reasons is the realization that many of the pharmaceutical agents that we rely on have a basis and origin in nature.

However, I didn't know the following statistic until this morning: more than half of all prescription drugs were developed from chemicals that were first identified in wild plants.

It's not just speculation, but fact that there are future medicines "out there" still, just waiting to be discovered and utilized. This was actually the premise of a 1992 movie featuring two of my favorite actors, Sean Connery and Lorraine Braccho (later of Sopranos fame). The movie was Medicine Man and its focus was the destruction of the rain forest for short-sighted agricultural purposes (short-sighted because this type of land is not suited to farming and gives out quickly).

And with all this in mind, here's a link to an article titled:

Medical plants 'face extinction'








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Deaths caused by poor nutrition

The link at the bottom of the page leads to an article that reports that three and a half million children die globally each year as a result of poor nutrition.

Amazingly, one out of four of these deaths could have been prevented by breast feeding and vitamin A supplements (the article also mentions zinc supplements).

Something else that I found interesting was the article's focus on poor nutrition and the resulting effect on growth. Vitamin and mineral deficiency states can irreparably stunt human physical growth, and damage cognitive growth and development as well.

Deficiencies of basic nutrients, however, should be easy enough to rectify with basic supplements. And it makes me wonder if any programs exist to distribute vitamin and mineral supplements to populations that are at risk due to basic nutrient deficiencies.

Poor diets 'kill 3.5m children'








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Friday, January 18, 2008

Common Sense Tips for Eating

An article by Michael O'shea in Parade hits on many cylinders. Here's essentially what he has to say, in summary.

Avoid fad diets, particularly those that encourage drastic calorie reduction. Drastically cutting back on your daily calorie intake only tells your body one thing. That you're in starvation mode and your metabolism should slow down in the attempt to hold on to its fuel reserves, i.e. fat.

Reduce your intake of processed foods. Excellent advice and common sense advice as well. Processed foods typically contain lots of salt and sugar. And, from a dietary consumption standpoint, you need little of either added to your food. Too much sodium can, in fact, raise your blood pressure and too much sugar can spike your blood sugar, leaving you hungrier and feeling rundown.

Get more fiber in your diet. This is important for the sake of gastrointestinal well-being. How do you get more fiber? You can try metamucil. But a better approach is by replacing some of the low fiber foods in your daily diet with high fiber alternatives. And some of the foods he lists are foods that are high on my personal list of favorites, including spinach, almonds, and apples (green granny smiths are my personal choice and my ferret's as well).

More fiber in your diet can help you avoid constipation, can lower your cholesterol, and can help you keep "things moving along" in your intestinal tract. And that last item is important for not allowing carcinogens to sit for too long.

Realize that fat is a valid component of your dietary intake. There's no problem with fat, as long as its the good stuff. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, such as can be found in walnuts and fish.

Eat beakfast. This is the first meal of the day and, arguably, the most important one. Including milk in it is a good idea since far too many of us lack the proper amounts of calcium and vitamin d, and having your breakfast lean more toward lean protein versus carbohydrates is also a good idea (you'll feel more full, more satisfied, and you won't experience the sugar rush "pancake and syrup" phenomenon of feeling energized and then later listless.

All in all, his recommendations boil down to common sense and a lot of common advice that we've heard over the last couple of decades. In my own opinion, though supplements can be useful, particularly when certain nutrients in specific quantity are difficult to obtain from a standard diet, the best route to staying healthy and fit comes through A) healthy eating and B) a physical fitness regimen.








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Ferrets and personal property


Chloe tunneling under the bedspread

They have no respect for it. Depending on the value of your personal property (to a ferret, that is), they may ignore it...shred it, bite it, or steal it. Oh, and if it's in a corner, they may poop on it. However, whether they have a true interest in your belongings or not, if its something "new" and out in the open, they will investigate it.

Ferrets seem to be nature's fuzzy little detectives. And they have all the required attributes, including good memory, determination (some would say obsessive-compulsiveness), and true problem solving ability. The bees are next in line to achieve sentience? No, I'd probably bet on the ferret.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

John Hopkins University Goes Latex Glove Free

Written by Opal Tribble

While I was listening to the radio yesterday a local new reporter stated that Johns Hopkins University, America's first research university, announced that is latex glove free. Why did they remove the gloves? Hopkins surgeons stated they removed latex gloves because of the rare reactions that some people were having to the latex.

The way that latex was made changed In the 1990’s. According to Hopkins officials, this was when they noticed that people were having severe reactions. Latex is also known as rubber or natural latex. Latex comes from the rubber tree.

According to research, the main source of the allergic reaction is latex gloves; however, latex is used in other items like condoms, feminine products, and certain medical devices. The renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, Ben S.Carson, Sr. M.D., practices at Johns Hopkins. Interestingly, Hopkins was believed to be one of the first to use latex gloves for surgery and now they are one of the first hospitals to stop using them.

Who Is Affected By Latex Allergy?

Research has concluded that health care workers have a 5 to 10 percent chance of developing a latex allergy. The cause of the latex reaction is unknown, but repeated exposure to latex can cause reaction symptoms. I found that to be interesting. I’m a soapmaker, and I found, after continually using latex gloves, I developed a skin rash. Figuring that I had a reaction to the gloves, I had to switch to non latex gloves.

According to WebMD, there are others who might be at risk for latex allergies. I’ve included the information below.

What People Are At Risk For Latex Allergy?

1. People with a bone marrow defect
2. People with deformed bladder or urinary tract
3. People who have a history of multiple surgeries.
4. People allergic to bananas, avocados, kiwis, or chestnuts


How Are People Exposed?

1. Direct contact with the skin, such as when latex gloves are worn
2. Mucous Membranes such as the eyes, mouth, vagina, and rectum
3. Inhalation, Latex gloves contain a thin coating of powder that can be inhaled
4. Blood, some medical devices used during surgery contain latex


Immediate Reactions To Latex

Immediate allergic reactions can be manifested as cramps, hives, severe itching, and in severe cases rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, tremors, and, in extreme cases, death. If you have an immediate allergic reaction to latex, contact your health care provider immediately.


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Essential Oils and Colon Cleansing

Here are two new articles by Opal Tribble.

The first one is titled:

"Essential Oils: Follow Your Nose"
.

And the second is titled:

"Colon Cleansing: Eliminate the Backed Up Waste"
.

I found the information on both articles illuminating and I may personally look into colonic irrigation just to see for myself what the benefits might be.









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Do ferrets come when called?

See the prior post "Do ferrets listen very well?". However, if you don't want to view that page, here's my answer. They come when called...when they feel like it.

Ferrets typically do everything "when they feel like it". They are nature's little hedonists and they have an incredible zest for life and living (sounds like a craig's list personals ad, huh?). But this is what makes them so endearing and so unique, which is why so many people want them for pets.

Unfortunately, most of those same people fail to research the behavior typified by ferrets---------HA! You may think I am making this up, but, just as I was writing that last line, I heard a crash in the living room. What was it? The sound of my ferret having knocked a drink glass off a table. That's one of her behaviors. She likes to push things off tables. Why? Just to see what happens next, of course.

Soda was spilled everywhere (thankfully, it was a diet soda so it won't stain). What was chloe doing when I got in there? Having a drink at her leisure. See? That's what I mean when I say that potential ferret owners may not be prepared for all the things that ferrets do.

But this is an example of how demanding it can be to own a ferret. Before I let Chloe out this morning, I closed certain doors in the house (for rooms I keep off limits), I removed the potted plant from a table she can climb onto (because, otherwise, she will employ her handy-dandy digging claws on the soil in the pot), I made sure the cat was not in (the cat is afraid of Chloe who will chase Cleo the cat all over the house), I closed the door to the front loading washer, etc, etc, etc. But, still, I forgot to take that drink glass off that table.

Ferrets are great. But they're not for everyone. And certainly not for passive pet owners.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Do ferrets listen very well?

Depends on what you mean by the question. Can ferrets hear very well? They seem to be able to. Do they listen very well? A different kind of question all together. Answer: a ferret is like a cat. And, consequently, ferrets will heed you at their leisure. This can make for an exasperating kind of pet.

Cats, of course, are fairly exasperating in the way they ignore you when it suits them (My cat, Cleo, does this---chloe, cleo---it can get confusing). But ferrets can be even more exasperating since they---

1. will ignore you when they please.

2. will ignore you and continue on about their merry way causing havoc and chaos in your house.

So, if you can't handle this sort of behavior, don't get a ferret.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ferret Proofing never ends



I began to alter the way I think about my home and how I move within it a long time ago. When you have a ferret, you have no choice but to do this. In a zen-like way, I suppose, you must allow yourself to bend to the predilections of the ferret.

What does ferret proofing include? You name it. For the most, ferret proofing boils down to giving consideration to everything that happens within your home and how it might affect your furry little detective friend, i.e. how it might catch the interest of your ferret, even to its detriment.

As soon as the front loading washer in the photo above was delivered, I knew that I could never again walk away from the washer with the door open. It would simply be too inviting for a curious ferret who might like to curl up in a pile of clothes, blithely unaware of the wash and rinse cycle that might follow.




Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Ferrets are Determined if nothing else



At one point, Chloe concluded that she was dissatisfied with being confined to the exterior surface of my living room couch. She decided, much like Jules Verne's explorers, that it was time to begin an exploration of the interior space deep within the couch.

What you see in the photo above is evidence of one highly determined ferret. Which is to say, she is simply the average ferret. What you see to the right of the photo is metal mesh that is about to be stretched over those holes and stapled in place.




Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Weight Gain: Can Friends Make Each Other Fat?

Written by Opal Tribble

The two of you spend a lot of time together. You congratulate each other when you’ve achieved your goals and, more important, you support one another when times are rough. You mutually respect each other. You’re friends. Whether you get together in person, phone or email, you always have a great time. With all the fabulous things you’ve shared, have you managed to put on weight together?

In July 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study. The study demonstrated that a person's chance of becoming obese increased by 57% if their friends were obese. This research was conducted over a period of 32 years on 12,607 people.

Weight Gain: The Research Discovered

1. Friends of the same sex had more of an impact on weight gain than friends of the opposite sex, including spouses.
2. When friends emulated each other, the likelihood of them gaining weight increased to 171%.
3. Friends that lived far apart had the similar impact on those that lived in the same town.

Why is this? Researchers have determined that friends have a major impact on what is socially acceptable. People look to those who are similar to them as a point of reference. Although the study didn’t show individual cases of friends that lost weight, the study suggests that losing weight and keeping it off can be more effective if done in a group.

If you and your friend have gained weight, encourage each other to shed those unwanted pounds. Change the way you view foods and start adding more whole foods into your diet. Also, make sure the foods you eat are low on the glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index can pack on the unwanted pounds. Don’t forget to exercise and look for ways to alleviate stress. You’ll shed those unwanted pounds and improve your health. Regardless of whether you’re fat or thin, start making healthier choices.


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

"We hit on the idea of a chewing gum because obese people like chewing"

The title of this post sounds like a poor joke, to be sure, but it's a quote from a BBC article that discusses an appetite-suppressing chewing gum. Chewing gum can reduce one's appetite? Preposterous?

Perhaps not. Apparently, the human body produces a hormone, pancreatic polypeptide, that helps to control appetite. This hormone is produced after each meal, but some people have more, or less, of this hormone. And here's the kicker: becoming overweight actually reduces the amount of the hormone that is produced in an individual.

Upon reading this, I couldn't help but think of type II diabetes. Not everyone who develops type II is overweight; however, becoming overweight is a huge risk factor for the onset of type II. And nearly every doctor will tell their patients that to fight type II, you should get drop weight and get rid of as much abdominal fat as possible.

Apparently, according to the article, becoming overweight can hormonally predispose you...to becoming more overweight.

The good news is that even moderate doses of pancreatic polypeptide can help with satiety and decrease food consumption, leading to weight loss. The delivery system? Chewing gum.

Chewing gum to reduce appetite







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A believer in the low carb approach

Too many people misunderstand the whole low carb approach to eating. Here are some of the misconceptions I've come across myself.

"It's not healthy to cut out carbohydrates"

"Eating meat all the time is not healthy"

"You'll get too much fat in your diet".

In actuality, its not healthy to eat as much carbohydrate as the typical person does, mainly because the vast majority of an individual's carb intake comes in the form of highly processed carbohydrate rich food. We're talking about foods that often contain little nutritional value, are low in fiber, contribute to fast rises in blood glucose, and contribute to insulin resistance. And if you think about it, ancient man, prior to agriculture, did not have access to this sort of food. He ate a paleolithic style, hunter-gatherer diet. And he did just fine on this. With modern medicine, including vacinnations and antibiotics, his life expectancy may have exceeded ours.

The meat thing. Just because you decrease your consumption of carbs does not mean that you necessarily increase your intake of protein. In my own case, I consume as much protein as I always have. The reduction in carbohydrate has simply meant reducing my overall calorie intake.

Finally, regarding fat intake. Too many people conceptualize low carb dieting as a free pass for eating all the sausage and bacon you might want. And why that is, I haven't a clue. Low carb eating doesn't, by necessity, equate with increased protein consumption and there's no reason why your protein can't come from practical plant and lean-meat sources.

Now, here are some factoids to chew on:

1. Protein takes longer to digest and can make you feel full.

2. From a CNN article - "A study of 100 women from Australian researchers found that overweight women who ate reduced-calorie diets rich in protein from red meat and dairy lost more weight than those whose reduced-calorie plans had little meat and more carbs".

3. A Pennington Biomedical Research Center study found that overweight women who ate eggs for breakfast lost two times as much weight as dieting women who decided to start their day with a bagel.

Personally, I would stick with fish and chicken as my primary sources of animal protein and, for morning eggs in your breakfast, eggbeaters are a great solution since they contain zero fat and cholesterol.







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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why Grapefruit And Some Medications Don't Mix

Written by Opal Tribble

I love grapefruit. They are a nutrient powerhouse. Not only are they are an excellent source of fiber, they are also a great source of antioxidants such as Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. But, despite their excellent qualities, grapefruit can be harmful to some who take medication.

Grapefruit also contains chemicals that can interfere with enzymes that breaks down certain drugs in your digestive system. When this happens, the medication enters the bloodstream at unacceptable levels. This can increase your chances of developing side effects.

According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a group of natural chemicals named furanocoumarins was likely the culprit. Originally, scientists thought that flavonoids were the culprit for this interference.

Grapefruit Most Commonly Interacts With Drugs Taken For:

Allergies
Anxiety
Depression
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
HIV
Impotence
Seizures

If you are taking drugs for any of the above conditions avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice unless approved by your pharmacist or family internist.


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Do pet ferrets have hunting instincts?

Chloe in fact has some hunting instincts left and has gone after a mouse or two. Here's an interesting story. A couple years ago, I had about 3 or 4 mice in the house. Why did I have mice? Probably because chloe kept stealing dog biscuits and hiding them under the pie safe. The smell of a stash of dog biscuits drew the mice. Gypsy the cat (no longer on this mortal plane) managed to take out the mice, but chloe may have done one in herself. I went to let chloe out of her cage one morning and, as usual, chloe's little pointy head poked out of her sleeping sack. Right next to her was the head of a dead mouse (still attached to the body, of course). It looked like one of those old cartoons where the dead animal has an X in each eye. Either chloe had killed the mouse, or had stolen the kill from Gypsy the cat.




Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Is a ferret a rodent?

No, a ferret is not a rodent. Rodents include squirrels, mice, rats, and even the giant capybara's. Ferrets are actually cousins of badgers, weasels, and otters (and a few others in the mustelidae family). And wild black footed ferrets actually prey on prairie dogs.

Ferrets are not rodents. Just the same, everytime I go into Petsmart and look through the ferret toy section (I've almost given up since chloe usually plays with a store-bought toy for 2 minutes before loosing interest), I am annoyed to see on the product packaging a picture of a ferret next to a rodent, usually a rabbit or a mouse.

No wonder people get confused. Making it more confusing is the fact that ferrets have beady little black eyes, as do some rodents. And albino ferrets, unlike sable or racoon ferrets (which chloe is), do look a bit more rodent-like than ferrets with hair coloring (its amazing how different a ferret can look based on hair color---but this is similar to rims on a car and hair on a person: it does make a big difference).



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Friday, January 11, 2008

A Health Nutrition Dictionary

As I stated in the last post, an index of various medical impairments and health problems is being produced for Vitamin Stuff. This will provide helpful, easy to access information (well, easy to access when I redevelop the site's menus...don't hold your breath on that one) for those who are curious about a particular health concern.

In keeping with that idea, a health and nutrition dictionary is being developed for the site as well.

How far along is this project? Well, let's just say it is about as developed as the health conditions section currently is. Which is to say, there's literally months of work ahead.

Here are the definitions as they currently stand. Expect this section to grow weekly at a good clip.









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Health Conditions and Herbs, Vitamins, and other Nutrients

Currently, a health impairment section is in the works for Vitaminstuff. The section is far from complete and may take weeks or months more to complete. However, I've included a list of some of the medical conditions and health problems that pages are being developed for.


When this section will be completed, I, unfortunately, don't have a clue. Researching and writing the information is quite a task, though it is quite enjoyable. I suppose this aspect of Vitamin Stuff will be finished about the same time as the Health Nurition dictionary, the subject of the next post.








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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tea Tree Essential Oil: A Natural Antiseptic

Written by Opal Tribble

I love being outdoors! I enjoy hiking, inline skating, camping, extreme sports, etc. At times I’ll still perform some of the crazy stunts I did as a child. You think I would know better, right? Wrong!

For example, one day when I was out skating I thought it would be a cool idea to skate off a ramp. The ramp was there, it was begging me to jump off it. I knew it would be a fabulous experience. I skated off the ramp and was briefly airborne with my inline skates. I landed on the ground without problems. What a rush! I had to try it again. This time; however, I decided to add something extra. While in the air, I would touch my skates with my left hand before landing back to the ground. I skated up the ramp and was airborne! I even managed to touch my skates with my left hand. It was beautiful; however, my landing didn’t go as smoothly and I found myself landing on my knees scraping skin in the process.

That wasn’t supposed to be part of the routine. Although it was painful, the humiliation was a lot worse! Thankfully no one was around to see that particular performance that would have added to my humiliation. I left shortly afterwards. The bruises weren’t major, my pride was the main thing that was affected. Instead of reaching for an over-the-counter remedy to heal my scrapes I reached for tea tree essential oil.

Why Did I Choose Tea Tree Essential Oil? As a child, when I received bruises, my mom would use iodine on the cut that was painful. Unlike the iodine, tea tree essential oil doesn’t sting, and I’ve noticed that my wounds appear to heal a lot faster. It’s powerful stuff. I used tea tree essential oil externally on my wounds and unlike the iodine my mother would use, this wasn’t painful. This is one of the few essential oils that I will apply neat (directly) to my skin.

Why is it so effective? Tea Tree essential oil contains terpenoids which is believed to provide the essential oil with its medicinal like properties. Tea tree has been proven to be effective in killing fungus, bacteria, and even infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Tea tree also has the unusual characteristic of being effective against all three varieties of infectious organisms; bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Tea tree oil is unusual because it is active against all three varieties of infectious organisms: bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Uses For Tea Tree Oil:

Infected wounds
Athletes foot
Asthma
Fungal infection in the mouth
Vaginal infections
Nasal congestion
Household cleaner

Did you know that tea tree oil has been researched extensively through scientific methods? It’s true. Studies have determined that tea tree oil is a very powerful protector of our immune system. When the body is threatened by any organisms that attack its immune system, tea tree increases its ability to respond. It’s a very powerful protector of our immune system.

Next time you experience a minor scrape, reach for tea tree essential oil. If you do a quick search online, you will find numerous topical applications that can be used. If you are unsure, consult with an aromatherapist and have them make you a specialized blend.


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Tunnels and Ferrets

There's a post on the ferret store that shows a sable ferret coming out of a toy tube. The ferret in the picture looks exactly like a pic of Chloe coming out of her own tube which is improvised and is an aluminum covered vent hose from a dryer. These things make fantastic toys and Chloe gets excited about hers every time I bring it out. You may, if you have a ferret, want to consider looking into the product listed on The ferret store as it may be larger. My ferret is a pee wee and I really don't know if the majority of ferrets who are considerably larger would be able to use my improvised setup.

Here's the link to the page that shows the Marshall Super Thru-Way Ferret Tunnel:
Tunneling Fun for Ferrets

And here are pics of Chloe in her own makeshift tube--








Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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How do you play with a ferret?

Well, ferrets love to play in number of different ways and from what I can tell, what I've read in various ferret books seems spot on with what I've observed with Chloe. She loves "I chase you, you chase me". And I love this game as well, particularly the part when I chase her because that's when you really get to see a ferret hustle. I have to caution you on this, though. Be VERY careful when you chase a ferret because you could easily lose your balance or step the wrong way and hurt your ferret. Of course, you can do this when your ferret chases you, as well. For this reason, I never let anyone else play this game with Chloe. I'm not only Chloe's owner, I see myself as her guardian and protector.

Other ferret games? I'm not sure if this is a game, but Chloe seems to think it's fun to get into a room when I don't want her to. And you can see the mischievous intent of her actions when, as soon as she gets through a crack in the door, she shoots under a chair as if to say, "Catch me if you can...but I don't think you can".

However, some of the best ferret games don't even involve interaction with owners. Ferrets love to crawl through things and if you'll pick some dryer venting (such as from Home Depot), your ferret can do some tunnel exploration in the comfort and safety of your living room.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Carrying things in your house when you have a ferret

This may sound paranoid, but a ferret can make you that way. And, to be honest, if you're not a little paranoid, you're probably not cut out for ferret ownership.

Be careful of carrying objects of any respectable size in the house when your ferret is out. Reason: You may never know when your ferret is under your feet and about to be crushed should you drop that heavy bag of groceries. By the same token, be careful when you open the refrigerator door when your ferret is out. If yours is like mine (Chloe), she'll like to poke her head in as soon as the door opens. Ask yourself how many times you've ever dropped a two-litre container of soda. This could seriously injure a ferret (imagine a utility shed being dropped on your head). Also, on the matter refrigerators, never close the door too fast. Why? Because your ferret could still have his/her head in the door and you wouldn't want to injure its head or neck.

By the way, this goes for every door in your house. One of the number one rules in my house is Never slam doors. And a followup rule to that is Always look at the bottom of the door as you close it if the ferret is out. I can't tell you how many times Chloe has tried to stick her head into the space between the doorframe and the door as it's closing.



Chloe the ferret - a Mini Blog about Ferrets








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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cheesecake, Ferrets, and so forth

So, what's been happening on the Vitamin Stuff Blog, as of late? Well, I've spoken at length about cheesecakes and my pet ferret, Chloe (to see the infamous ferret posts -- More about Chloe the ferret and ferrets in general).

But, there's also been some added content that's in keeping with the aims of this blog and its parent site, Vitamin Stuff, including an article on not the most exciting topic--but, certainly an important topic: cholesterol.

So, here's a short article titled "
Just what exactly is High Cholesterol?
".

Also, here's a wonderful article by Opal Tribble on Juicing, titled "Juicing: Drink Your Way To Better Health". The great thing about Opal's articles is that they're fun to read and you learn quite a bit from them. In fact, reading her article spurred me to visit my local book store and get a copy of "Juicing for Life". Personally, I think Opal could write her own book on the subject since this is not only a health topic that she is interested in, it's an intrinsic part of the way she lives her life.

Opal has also started guest blogging here and her first post is "Ginger: A natural healer?". Stay tuned for more.








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Do ferrets like to get into dangerous places?

This may be a good reminder to view the prior post about ferrets and refrigerators. Ferrets personify the word "reckless" and if you look up the word in a dictionary you really should see a picture of a ferret.

To me, it's amazing that this species is still around, considering all the risks they take. Will a ferret get into something it can't get out of? Yes, without a doubt.

Example: Chloe climbed into an umbrella stand. Of course, there was no way to get out and if someone (me) hadn't come along and hear her scrabbling noises, she would not have gotten out. Will a ferret climb into the opening of a front loading washer. Sure. To a ferret, that's as fun as a nightclub with free drinks.

Warning to 99 percent of potential ferret owners: Don't get a ferret. In the end, this will be better for you and the ferret you didn't own.




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Are ferrets psychic?

It depends on how you define the term "psychic". If by psychic, you mean being possessed of a seemingly unnatural ability to discern even the most minooooot changes to one's environment, then, yes, ferrets are definitely psychic.

Granted, this is not the definition most people would use. But anyone who has ever owned a ferret has probably at one point or another been amazed at what a ferret may notice (or not notice, in some cases). For example, if you change something in the living room or leave something lying around, even in a unremarkable spot, chances are your ferret will notice this and investigate.

Actually, despite their poor eyesight, ferrets seem to notice everything (given a fair amount of time, of course, to scurry back and forth on their appointed ferret rounds, such as stealing this or that, or building this or that stash).

However, because a ferret does notice so much and is compelled to investigate anything even slightly new or different, you, as a ferret owner, must be on your guard. Here's a good example and the reason I started this post. This morning I heard a strange noise coming from the refrigerator. I pulled the fridge back from the wall, pulled the power cord from the socket, looked under the fridge and saw a piece of plastic wrapping that had gotten into the fan blades.
I removed this, plugged the fridge back in, and pushed it against the wall. Then I thought to myself: "I better make sure this doesn't look any different. Otherwise, Chloe will get in there and get her nose chopped off in the fan blade."

Ferrets. You wonder how they manage to live as long as they do.




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How often does a ferret go to the bathroom?

Ferrets go to the bathroom more than one can possibly imagine; that is, assuming that one has no prior experience with the toileting habits of ferrets. For those who do have such experience, the thought has probably occurred to them more than once "Why did I ever get a ferret?"

Let me put it this way. If you get a ferret, make sure you get a litter tray, preferably one that fits into a corner since ferrets tend to seek out corners in which to do their business. In fact, you may wish to get several litter trays to prepare for the contingency in which your ferret has trouble "getting the concept of" what and where an acceptable bathroom is. Also, be prepared to fall in love with daily cage cleaning, or at least be prepared to fake a love of this activity. Because if you get a ferret, cage cleaning is what you'll do, and do, and do.

You'll need to clean your ferret's cage daily, of course. If you don't, the smell will become quite obnoxious and tear provoking, and who wants that.




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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On ordering a Cheesecake Online

I have a fondness for cheesecake, just as I have a fondness for ice cream. However, cheesecake and ice cream do not have necessarily have a fondness for me. Yes, despite the attention to diet and years of weight lifting I have type II diabetes.

This is completely controlled, of course, mainly with a sensible diet, but the thing about type II is that, even if your condition is perfectly controlled and your BG levels are consistently normal, it doesn't remove the fact that you are, in fact, diabetic. And that's a fact that doesn't go away. You know, sometimes, you just get the luck of the draw and you're not so lucky. A predisposition to hypertension, elevated glucose, and cardiovascular disease runs on my dad's side of the family as far as several generations back.

Nonetheless, as I said, I love cheesecake and ice cream. What to do, what to do. This is what I've done. As far as ice cream is concerned, I now consume sugarless and low sugar versions. For instance, Breyers CarbSmart ice cream bars are sweetened
with splenda and also use sugar alcohol as a sweetener.

Splenda, as far as I'm aware, is sucralose, which means that it is simply sugar with one molecule removed and, by all accounts, has no effect on BG levels. Sugar alcohols (of which there are many different types, including maltitol which I have a bad reaction to), on the other hand, do have the potential for raising blood glucose levels, though more slowly. This is something I've been able to verify myself simply by using a blood glucose monitor one and two hours after consuming a product containing a substantial amount of sugar alcohol.

CarbSmart ice cream bars contain 9 grams of carbs. Of this, 2 grams are dietary fiber, 2 grams are sugar alcohol, and 5 grams are sugar. While this isn't perfect (particularly the five grams of sugar), I find that I can eat one of these bars with no significant affect on my BG levels (bear in mind, everyone is different).

The other type of ice cream that I have now and then comes from a local establishment (local to Raleigh, NC) called "Goodberries", a chain of specialty ice cream shops with all outdoor seating. Everything at Goodberries is delicious---and full of sugar. With, however, the exception of their zero sugar vanilla custard. This product is even tastier than the CarbSmart bars and, again, testing has indicated to me that this product has no significant effect on my blood glucose levels.

The other treat that I mentioned was cheesecake. Obviously, cheesecake is a huge no-no for anyone who is a diabetic, type I or type II. However, an establishment called "The Cheesecake Factory" offers a low carb cheesecake sweetened with splenda.

This product claims that each slice is limited to six grams of carbohydrate. This, of course, means that you may need to limit yourself to one slice (which, let's be honest, anyone should). How many grams of total carbohydrate does this cheesecake include, per slice? I don't know and couldn't find the information online. However, as always, the easiest way to find out is simply to eat one slice and then test my glucose one and two hours later for the effects. With type II diabetes, fortunately, the information you need can be found via testing.

And on this subject, I will be in the position of testing a slice later today. My low carb cheesecake arrived in the mail today. And this is actually why I started this post. Not to talk about cheesecake or ice cream per se (both of which may seem strange on a health website), but, rather, to mention (to anyone else considering buying a cheesecake online) what its like to receive a cheesecake in the mail.

It arrives in a fairly large box and the cheesecake is actually frozen. This makes perfect sense, of course, but I really hadn't given the issue any prior consideration so I was surprised to see a bag of dry ice sitting on top of the cheesecake.

This, to me, is the most interesting aspect of having received this today. The bag has a large-letter warning printed on it. The warning states that you shouldn't handle the bag with bare hands and that this may cause...burns.

Being typically male, I decide to put this to the test and held the bag for about four seconds. Luckily for me, I didn't hold it any longer than this because I immediately began to feel a burning sensation. Which gave me a new appreciation for how quickly frostbite could set in if a person is exposed to a cold enough environment for even a few seconds.

Anyway, I will now let the cheesecake thaw, per the instructions, give a slice a try, and then measure with my portable monitor to see if this product gets a thumbs up or thumbs down. Here's to hoping.









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Do ferrets make noises?

At first, years ago, I didn't know if ferrets made noises or not. I had read, of course, that ferrets will made little "dook dook" noises when they play one of their favorite games, such as mock combat, or when they are doing a personal interpretation of the happy dance (I don't know why they call it a dook noise. To me, it doesn't sound like that at all). But other noises?

Honestly, Chloe initially seemed to be something of a mute, unless you stepped on her---To my embarassment, this is happened 2 times and, luckily, she did not get hurt either time, other than having the wind knocked out of her. I am generally paranoid about keeping track of "where's chloe?", and this is why I CANNOT advise ferret ownership for most individuals. Ferrets are always where you least suspect them (and, thus, SHOULD suspect them) and that includes couch cushions, a pile of towels waiting to be folded, comforters and blankets, under chairs, and, often, underfoot. Ferrets are not for pet owners who aren't willing to use hawk-vision to keep track of their whereabouts.

Is Chloe still a mute? Not at all. In fact, she's getting quite noisy these days. She verbalizes when she is pissed off (this would be the most frequent verbalization and it is usually in response to being shot with a water gun---the only thing that gets her to stop trying to rip the couch cushions apart). She also verbalizes when she is very happy, generally accompanied by the happy dance.

However, lately, Chloe seems to emit a number of oscillations. And one of them sounds startlingly reminiscent of the peanuts character "woodstock".

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Will your ferret miss you if you go on a trip?

Mine did. I got back from a several day stay down at myrtle beach last year. Actually, garden city, south carolina, which is about 20 minutes south of MB.

I was only gone for about 3 1/2 half days (a good friend who is familiar with ferrets was kind enough to care for her in this short time) and when I greeted Chloe the morning after getting back she gave me quite a few kisses and more than usual. In the last year or so (Chloe, I think, is about 5 now), in fact, Chloe has been getting a lot more affectionate, which is great because when I first adopted her she wasn't particularly affectionate (perhaps her former home life--you get out of a pet what you put into it).

However, on this particular morning Chloe was very affectionate. She usually kisses me a few times when I get her out of her cage (a two story Ferret condo with a hammock, multiple litter trays, hanging water bottle, foamy couch, and a sleeping bag. But that day, she kissed me many times, leading me to conclude that she had, in fact, missed me while I was gone. Which made me realize how very much I had missed her.

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Chloe the Ferret and Info about Ferrets



You may be wondering what a ferret is doing on a site called Vitamin Stuff. Then again, you may also have wondered how some of our leaders in Washington actually got elected. Sometimes, things don't seem to add up. However, in this case, they do. Chloe is just crazy about health and nutrition.

Here you'll find posts regarding ferrets and my ferret, Chloe (codename: Destructo), in particular.


Posts

Do ferrets kiss their owners?
Are refrigerators dangerous to ferrets?
How will you know when a ferret is sleepy and should go to bed?
The Ferret Clown car
Ferrets and bags
One Ferret's Passing
How many ferrets are there named Chloe?
How much play-time does a ferret need?
Ferrets and personal property
Do ferrets listen very well?
Do ferrets come when called?
Ferret Proofing never ends
Ferrets are Determined if nothing else
Is a ferret a rodent?
Do pet ferrets have hunting instincts?
Ferrets and Tunnels
How do you play with a ferret?
Carrying things in your house when you have a ferret
How often does a ferret go to the bathroom?
Are ferrets psychic?
Do ferrets like to get into dangerous places?
Will your ferret miss you if you go on a trip?
Do ferrets make noises?






Great Ferret Sites

Blogging for Ferrets - a heart-felt ferret site

Wikipedia page on Ferrets

My Norwegian Ferret Family

Extreme Weezils

Loving ferrets - ferret related forums

About's Ferret page

Ferret Family Services

Google's directory of ferret personal pages

All about ferrets

Ferrets Haven











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Monday, January 7, 2008

Ginger: A Natural Healer?

Written by Opal Tribble

I dislike being sick. As a child, the cure for stomach upset and nausea was a very strong Jamaican soda that contained ginger root. This is something my mother religiously gave to my brother and me. We actually loved the taste and at times we pretended to be sick so we could have this rare treat.

I didn’t know it then, but the reason the soda was so effective was because it contained a lot of ginger. Ginger is used in a variety of products to combat nausea and indigestion. As I became older, I was curious about the healing powers of ginger so, naturally, I wanted to learn more.

History

Ginger has been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal and culinary herb. It was a well known herb to the Romans and Greeks and by the 11th century it was a common trade item.

How Is Ginger Used? To loosen phlegm, alleviate gas, soothe sore throats, alleviate menstrual cramps, alleviate nausea during pregnancy, and to ward off colds. Also, indians used it to treat digestive ailments and the chinese used it to combat sea sickness

Properties of Ginger

Ginger has a spicy odor and is warming. What makes ginger so effective? Ginger has 1-4 volatile oils. These constituents are thought to be the reasons for its medicinal properties. Numerous studies have been conducted on ginger root and in some of the studies they have found similar effectiveness between ginger and certain drugs.

You can take ginger in a variety of ways. For example, you can find ginger in teas, pregnancy pops, and herbal tinctures.

What do I use? I purchase ginger root. You can find it in numerous grocery stores.

I add about 2” of the root to a pot of tea, brew it for 15 minutes, and let it steep for a few hours. If you don’t want to drink it unsweetened, why not add honey or another natural sugar like agave nectar, or stevia to the blend? If you’re like myself you might find that you love the taste.

I usually end up making a large batch of ginger iced tea. I’m able to enjoy it throughout the day. The times my daughter has had nausea I have given her a cup of ginger root tea. It soothes her upset stomach and before long her discomfort has gone away. Do you know what? At times, she pretends to be sick just so she can have this tea. I’ve included the recipe below.

Recipe for Ginger Tea

  • 4 cups water
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root
  • *Honey, agave nectar, or stevia and lemon slice, optional

    If your looking for a natural cure that is soothing why not try ginger? Along with a whole food diet, I found this to be an effective way to ward off sickness during the flu season.


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    Tuesday, January 1, 2008

    Black Snake Moan is Worth Watching



    What manipulators those Hollywood marketers are. I remember seeing the preview for "Black Snake Moan" in the theater and the only scenes that were included were of a young half-naked girl being kept in chains in some backwoods shack. I naturally concluded that the film was some weird Quentin Tarantino concoction (don't get me wrong - I love Tarantino, e.g. Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill). However, despite the weirdness of the apparent setup, the fact that Sam Jackson (one of Hollywood's best, without any doubt) and Christina Ricci were the principals in this movie made me think that, at some point, I would probably see it.

    And I did. Last night, I finally pulled off the shelf my copy of "Black Snake Moan", for which Roeper and Ebert have given "two thumbs way up". All I can say is, outstanding movie.

    Ultimately, despite the flaky way in which this movie was marketed (not a bad idea to show Christina Ricci in her underwear if you want to draw in the 18-22 crowd; however, this movie is more sophisticated than your average beer swizzler fare), this is a film about redemption and forgiveness. In other words, its emotionally a lot deeper than I would have thought based on its promotion and I found it very satisfying. And, of course, there's a heavy blues music component to it, making it even better (I will probably search for the soundtrack today).

    Added bonus: Getting to hear Samuel Jackson play the blues. Outstanding!

    Oh, not related to the movie, but this is interesting. Pork is considered bad for you in several respects. And alcohol, in excess, can be healthy as well as unsafe. What happens when you mix the two? I don't have a clue, personally, because I don't plan to ever try them together. However, if you'd like to visualize the two in combination, here's a good pic on Wormbrain's blog (looks neat, but, most likely, you'd find yourself wretching on the floor fifteen minutes later).

    Celebrate the New Year with a Pork Martini









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    New Year's Blues with Derek Trucks

    Lately, I've concluded that I must be a blues fan. Why? I went to see a concert of Derek Trucks a couple of months ago, just to sample new music in the ongoing attempt to broaden myself. Ever since, I've been listening to all his cds on a near daily basis. This is quite an interesting turn, of course, for someone whose musical taste always ran from 70's rock to 80's new wave to grunge and the current incarnation of rock.

    However, that a rock fan would like blues is really not such a mystery. After all, rock has some historical roots in blues.

    And, if you'll notice, a LOT of rock songs have some really downer lyrics---

    "Go on, abuse me more, I like it" - Silverchair

    "I'm the man in the box, buried in my shit" - Alice in Chains

    "Cut my life into pieces, this is my last resort" - Papa Roach

    Not all rock has a dementor quality to it, of course, and for those rock songs and groups that do, it not necessariliy a bad thing. Downer lyrics, in both blues and rock, can have a cathartic or purging effect.

    Anyway, here's vid clip from Youtube showing one of Truck's best pieces, that clearly has an indian (not native american) sound and basis to it. I saw this song performed in concert and I can tell you, the crowd was enthusiastic. It takes a while to get going, but if you hang in there you'll see that its amazing. If for some reason, this clip "goes missing", just go to Youtube and search for "Derek Trucks Sahib Teri Bandi".












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    The Vitamin Stuff Health Nutrition Dictionary








    Disclaimer: The information provided here is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. Individuals wishing to use supplements or alternative medicine therapies should consult with their doctor beforehand.

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