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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:44 am 
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Melbourne council bans junk food from playground

The City of Port Phillip has declared one of its playgrounds a "junk food-free zone".

Chips, chocolate or sugary sodas must now be consumed outside South Melbourne's Skinners Adventure Playground, News Corp reports.

"All sweet, fatty or fast food or drink is banned from the playground and must be consumed before entering," a message on the council's website reads.

Port Phillip Mayor Amanda Stevens said the ban was intended to support a healthy eating program for disadvantaged families living in nearby public housing.

She said "nine out of 10" visitors were happy to comply with the ban.

"Occasionally someone's not happy. But we have about 50 other playgrounds in Port Phillip where you can eat what you want," she was quoted as saying.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokeswoman Julie Gilbert supported the ban but added that better educating children about the dangers of junk food would be more effective in the long term. ... playground

PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:54 pm 
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Study: Environment Trumps Genetics in Shaping Immune System

How your immune system does its job seems to depend more on your environment and the germs you encounter than on your genes, says new research that put twins to the test to find out.

After all, the immune system adapts throughout life to fight disease, said Stanford University immunologist Mark Davis, who led the work.

And while young children's immunity may be more influenced by what they inherit from mom and dad, Thursday's study showed genetic influences waned in adulthood.

"Experience counts more and more as you get older," said Davis, director of Stanford's Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection.

Scientists know there is tremendous variation in how the immune systems of healthy people function. Davis asked if that's more a matter of nature or nurture, by comparing 78 pairs of twins with identical genetic makeups to 27 pairs of fraternal twins, who are no more alike genetically than any other siblings. Traits shared by the identical twins are more likely to be hereditary.

His team used blood samples from the twin pairs, who ranged in age from 8 to 82, to track more than 200 activities and components of the immune system. In three-quarters of the measurements, differences between pairs of twins were more likely due to non-heritable influences — such as previous infections or vaccinations, even nutrition — than genetics, the researchers reported in the journal Cell.

Then they compared the oldest twins, 60 and over, to those under age 20, when the immune system is still maturing. The youngest identical twins had far more immune similarity than the oldest. That makes sense, as older twins presumably haven't lived together in years and have had different exposures since childhood, they concluded.

When the researchers gave flu vaccine to participating twins, they found no sign that genetics determined how many flu-fighting antibodies were produced.

Most intriguing, the researchers found infection with a virus so common that most adults unknowingly carry it had a dramatic effect. Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is dangerous to those with weak immune systems but harmless for most people, and prior research has shown it can rev up parts of a healthy immune system. Sure enough, the Stanford team examined 16 pairs of identical twins where only one had CMV, and found big differences in nearly 60 percent of the components studied.

Does that mean we should try to prime the immune system, rather than working so hard to avoid germy situations?

"I'm a strong believer in the power of dirt," Davis said with a laugh, but this study actually can't offer health advice.

"This just says the environment plays a huge role in shaping what your immune system looks like," he explained.

Investigating how that happens is important, said Dr. Megan Cooper, a pediatric immunologist and rheumatologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who wasn't involved in the study. She noted that autoimmune diseases tend to run in families but whether someone born genetically susceptible gets sick may be shaped by their exposures.

"It's when you get those infections" that may be key to the impact on the immune system, she said. ... m-28253816

PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 9:53 am 
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We're living longer, get over it

Here's the good news: We're living longer. Here's the bad news: There isn't any.

The idea that living longer will make us infirmed for longer and a burden on society for longer has been central to the government's narrative about ever-rising health costs.

Old age isn’t a problem. It’s what we are trying to achieve.

It started within months of the minister being sworn in. Preparing the ground for a Medicare co-payment Peter Dutton said health spending was on an "unsustainable path". The cost of the Medical Benefits Schedule (Medicare) was "spiralling".

"The use of MBS services increases as people get older, with those aged over 65 accessing an average of 33 MBS services in a year, while younger people access around 11 services per year," he told the the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

Combined with talk of an ageing population it made it sound as if living longer was part of the problem, as did his wildly overstated talk about the increased incidence of dementia.

"The fact is 170 people per week today are being diagnosed with dementia, but in a number of years it'll be 7500 a week," he told Lateline while trying to sell the co-payment.

The ABC fact checking unit ran its ruler over his claim and found that rather than increasing fortyfold over a number of years, as the minister had said dementia was set to treble over 40 years.

We are certainly living much longer, and we're set to live longer still. But living longer isn't meaning living longer infirmed or hooked up to machines.

When the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare delivered the good news in the lead up to Christmas you might have expected the Health Minister to trumpet it. I would have. It means we've little to fear from our extra years. We might get more bored or have more financial problems, but we are unlikely to be too much more incapacitated. Instead the minister said little, bunkering down yet again to find another way to get us to pay more for visits to the doctor.

Here's what the institute found. Its report is entitled Healthy life expectancy in Australia: patterns and trends 1998 to 2012.

Between 1998 and 2012 the life expectancy for newborn boys grew from 75.9 years to 79.9 years – an extraordinary increase in such a short time. In little more than a decade Australian men gained an extra four years.

But how many of those extra years are good ones, disability-free?

The institute's remarkable finding is that men have gained an extra 4.4 years of disability-free life. Not only are Australian men set to live four years longer, but less of their lives are likely to be incapacitated.

It doesn't mean that medical expenses aren't climbing. They are climbing because more of us are getting old and also because medicine is getting more expensive. But it does mean that our longer lifespans aren't responsible for that much of the extra expenses. At least not for men.

For women the picture is (slightly) less rosy. Between 1998 and 2012 the expected life for a newborn girl climbed from 81.5 years to 84.3 years – an increase of 2.8 years.

The increase in the number of disability-free years was slightly less (2.4 years) meaning that most – but not not all – of the extra years were disability-free. In terms of value for money whatever is driving those extra years looks like a good deal, an even better deal for men.

Better still, the estimates of 79.9 years for men and 84.3 years for women almost certainly understate how long we will live. The government actuary points in a separate report that 60 per cent of newborn boys and girls live longer than their life expectancies, and that's before likely improvements in medical technologies over the course of their lives are taken into account. That's because life expectancies are averages, and the averages are weighed down the relatively large number of babies who die before they turn one.

The actuary says a boy born today can expect 85.6 years on a not-so-optimistic view about technology, 90.5 on a better view. A girl born today can expect 90 years or 92.2.

A man who is now 30 can expect 84 years or 88, a woman 88 or 90. A man who is about to turn 65 can expect 85 or 86, a women 88 or 88.6.

Around half of us will live longer than those estimates, and we'll do it without putting too much more strain on the health system.

Old age isn't a problem. It's what we are trying to achieve. Dutton's replacement Sussan Ley would get off to a good start by celebrating rather than demonising our incredible good fortune. ... 2rewp.html

PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:57 pm 
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Study suggests brain could coach body to burn fat

The brain could be a powerful fat burning tool, say scientists at Monash University in Melbourne who discovered that two naturally occurring hormones interact to convert energy-storing white fat into energy-burning, “good” brown fat.

“Turning white fat into brown fat is a very exciting new approach to developing weight loss agents,” says lead author Professor Tony Tiganis from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. “Eventually, we think we may be able to help people lose weight by targeting these two enzymes.”

One of the enzymes, leptin, is an appetite suppressant that’s generated in fat cells and the other is insulin, which comes from the pancreas when levels of glucose in the blood start to rise.

Professor Tiganis’ research shows that the two hormones act together and persuade a group of neurons — called proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons — in the brain to convert the fat from white to brown, thereby igniting the fat-burning process.

“These hormones give the brain a comprehensive picture of the fatness of the body,” says Professor Tiganis. “Because leptin is produced by fat cells, it measures the level of existing fat reserves — the more fat, the more leptin. Whereas insulin provides a measure of future fat reserves because glucose levels rise when we eat.”

If all this has you wondering why you can’t just think your way skinny, chances are enzymes called phosphatases that inhibit the actions of leptin and insulin could be working against you.

Professor Tiganis’ team found that when phosphatases were reduced, more brown fat was created and more fat was burned.

Don’t give up your diet or relinquish your gym membership just yet: Professor Tiganis says any potential therapy based on his team’s research is still a long way off.

Brown fat cells, also called adipocytes, occur most densely around the neck and shoulders, according to the researchers, whose study was published in the journal Cell.

That white adipocytes can be converted to brown has been suggested by several studies revealing a variety of methods to do so.

For example, a study at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands says it’s possible to creat brown fat by keeping your surroundings cool, while another published in the journal Cell Press indicates that Mirabegron, a drug normally used to treat an overactive bladder, could also do the job. ... -burn-fat/

PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:49 am 
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Watch non-Australians get grossed out over Pizza Hut's new Vegemite pizza

While the thought of Vegemite makes most of the world gag, Australians love the the super salty spread made from leftover brewers' yeast and spices.

So it's not a stretch that Pizza Hut Down Under is now offering a stuffed crust pizza filled with Vegemite. (As if layers of cheese and pepperoni weren’t salty enough.)

But not everyone is a fan.

To test out its new offering, Pizza Hut Australia visited a youth hostel in Bondi Beach, Sydney filled with foreign travelers. After taking a bite and promptly wrinkling their noses in disgust, the tasters wonder if they have in fact been fed “fish jam,” “petrol” or “medicine.”

“If Australians like this, then they are very crazy people,” says one French tourist.

Not surprisingly, at the end of the commercial, two men with Australian accents happily munch away at the new pizza.

The new “Mitey stuffed crust” is definitely “made for Australia” as Pizza Hut says. This may be one pizza pie we’re not itching to try. ... e-outside/

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:27 am 
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Un-Australian? Aussies drinking 25% less than 40 years ago

So much for the stereotype of the beer-swilling Aussie: research shows we’re drinking a full 25% less alcohol than we did 40 years ago. While beer producers probably aren’t happy about this, there is a definite upside: it has dramatically curbed alcohol-related violence.

The government report, Australia’s Changing Drinking Habits, disproves commonly held beliefs that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related violence are increasing.

In 1974-75, Australians consumed an average of 13.1 litres of alcohol per person. Since the 1980s, this has declined, decreasing to 9.9 litres in 2012-13. Teenagers are drinking significantly less, with the proportion of young people abstaining increasing from 56% in 2007 to 72% in 2013.

Interestingly, alcohol-related violence has decreased by 30% in NSW in the last six years, despite the number of liquor licences increasing by 16%. Terry Mott, CEO of the Australian Liquor Stores Association, says this proves a lack of evidence between alcohol availability and violence.

This increase in the number of liquor stores has also not led to an increase in alcohol consumption.

Most Australians would prefer to see targeted programs, rather than whole-of-population control measures, to address alcohol-related problems. Only 28% of people support an increase in the price of alcohol, while targeted measures have received much stronger support: 85% support greater enforcement of penalties for drunk drivers, 84% support enforcement against supply minors and 82% support enforcement against serving intoxicated customers.

“Australia’s drinking habits have changed significantly over the course of the four decades; we are more educated about alcohol and we are making much better choices than we ever have before,” said Mott.

“The majority of Australians consume alcohol responsibly and enjoy the social benefits it brings. It is important to distinguish between the moderate consumption of alcohol by the overwhelming majority of Australians and the misuse of it by a small minority.”

The ‘Australia’s Changing Drinking Habits’ report is available from the Australian Liquor Stores Association’s website: ... -years-ago

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:12 pm 
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Start worrying about cholesterol in your 30s, study suggests

(Reuters Health) – People with even moderately high cholesterol levels in their 30s and 40s are more likely to have heart disease later in life, according to a new study.

But many of them wouldn't meet the criteria for treatment under guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC).

“What we found is that people with prolonged exposure to high cholesterol levels are at a much higher risk of cardiovascular events than people without that exposure,” said Michael Pencina, the study’s senior author from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“Many of these people would not be candidates for treatment using the new guidelines,” he said. “They may fall through the cracks.”

In 2013, the AHA and ACC issued new guidelines that said exercise and a healthy diet are the most important steps for preventing high cholesterol. Additionally, the guidelines expanded the group of people eligible for cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins (see Reuters story of November 12, 2013 here:

The guidelines say statins could be beneficial for people with known heart disease; those with a "bad" LDL cholesterol level of 190 or higher; patients with type 2 diabetes between the ages of 40 and 75; and individuals ages 40 to 75 with at least a 7.5 percent risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years, based on new risk assessment formulas.

“What was most interesting and slightly unexpected is that the expansion is almost entirely in the age group 60 and above,” Pencina said. “That left us with the question, what about younger people?”

Using data from 1,478 adults without heart disease at age 55, the researchers found that heart disease eventually developed in about 4 percent of those who always had good cholesterol levels, 8 percent of those who'd had high cholesterol for one to 10 years and 17 percent of those with high cholesterol for 11 to 20 years.

But only one in six of the people with high cholesterol would have met the recommendations for statin use at age 40. That increased to one in three people by age 50, the researchers reported in the journal Circulation.

“We know from biology that cholesterol accumulates in the arteries over time,” Pencina said. “So the more we wait the more accumulation you have.”

Dr. Steven Nissen, who was not involved with the new study, said the new article illustrates the concerns many cardiologists have with the new guidelines. Specifically, he said the guidelines have a cut off for statin use at age 40.

“If you really think about it, the people you want to treat are people who have long-term risk early enough in life to make a difference,” said Nissen, chairman of the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

“To say don’t treat anyone younger than 40 is not sensible,” he said. “This article suggests it really isn’t sensible,” adding that it’s especially true for people with genetic conditions that increase cholesterol even earlier in life.

Pencina said he and his colleagues stopped short of suggesting wider statin use among younger people, because there needs to be long-term studies on its safety.

Statins are not free of risks; rarely, they can cause liver or muscle problems, high blood sugar, or memory issues.

Pencina says younger people should get their cholesterol checked and establish a baseline. “You don’t have to attack it with statins – maybe you do after you’ve tried other things,” he added. “Statins should be the last resort. First see how much you can do with lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise.” ... U220150127

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:33 am 
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Wellness strategy aims to inspire Islanders to live healthier

Paul Chessman of Kensington doesn't just want to be around to enjoy his grandchildren. He wants to spend quality time with them.

Chessman is one of the role models the Department of Health and Wellness is using in a public awareness campaign to promote its new wellness strategy.

"I'm 58 and I'm probably fitter now than when I was 38,'' Chessman said Friday during a press conference in Charlottetown.

Chessman said he didn't make any dramatic changes in his lifestyle, just little things here and there. And, that was the message on Friday - every little bit counts.

The province will spend $100,000 in grants over the next year to support community partnerships that support the five wellness priorities - mental health, physical activity, healthy eating, living tobacco-free and drinking responsibly.

"That is seed money to get NGOs (non-government organizations) engaged to apply for the money, whether it be a seniors community group to get a walking club started or whatever,'' said Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie.

Alexander MacKay, a student at East Wiltshire Intermediate School, said he chose to reduce the amount of sugar he eats.

"My life is going to be sweeter with less sugar,'' MacKay said, noting that as an asthmatic the reduction has helped. "If I eat a lot of sugar and sweets and stuff it gets really bad. I've been trying to do every little bit to stay healthy.''

It's grabbing a piece of celery instead of potato chips for a snack or a walk around the block at lunch.

"It doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't have to be about a complex fitness membership,'' Currie said. "It's about the little things.''

P.E.I. wellness ambassador and two-time Olympic gold medallist Heather Moyse knows all too well how much the little things matter. Just tenths of a second can mean the difference between gold and heartbreak.

"You hear about these big lofty goals people have but, really, they don't seem so lofty when you break things down and realize it's just the mundane, every day, plugging away choice that we make on a daily basis (that matter),'' Moyse said.

Currie also talked about working with the private sector, citing examples such as #BellLetsTalk on social media and Canadian Tire donating hockey gear as initiatives that have helped.

The effort now will be made to get the message out to communities across the province.

Chessman said it might just get a few Islanders making some health adjustments of their own. ... ealthier/1

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:37 am 
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The silent killer that's taken 152 Coast lives in five years

IT'S the silent killer that claimed 152 Sunshine Coast lives in five years.

It doesn't discriminate and it can strike at any time.

Federal Department of Health data shows 152 Sunshine Coast residents died from bowel cancer between 2008 and 2012.

But a new campaign is aimed at turning the tide and doctors are imploring people to act before it is too late.

Dr Graham Newstead, one of Australia's leading bowel surgeons, said it was the second deadliest cancer.

"When found early, 90% of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated," the International Council of Coloproctology chairman said.

"Despite this, our research suggests that people do not prioritise testing for the disease in the same way they would for other common cancers."

The disease is more common in people aged over 50 and those who have lost a family member to the cancer.

However, people under 50 who do not have a genetic link are also at risk.

If discovered early enough, the cancer can be removed without the need for chemotherapy.

Bowel Cancer Australia chief Julien Wiggins said research showed men and women were more likely to be screened for cancers of the prostate or breast.

"People need to be bowel aware," Mr Wiggins said. Bowel cancer often develops without any warning signs.

"Regardless of family history, from age 50, all Australians are at an increased risk." ... a/2531309/

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:07 pm 
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Clean the air, prevent cancer

We can do more to prevent people from getting cancer, for example by increasing efforts to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air, says Christian Friis Bach.

Christian Friis Bach is executive secretary and under-secretary-general at the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

Today, on World Cancer Day, I am with all those who are affected by cancer - individuals who are struggling with the disease as well as their families and friends. In recent years I, too, have been personally affected, as cancer struck members of my family and some of my best friends. Cancer is a terrible global disease, causing millions of deaths worldwide every year.

We can do more to prevent people from getting sick. One way is to increase our efforts to reduce the amount of pollutants in the air we breathe. Air pollution is already known to increase risks for a wide range of diseases, including respiratory and heart diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution killed more than 7 million people worldwide in 2012. This makes it more deadly than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined, and by far the world’s largest single environmental health risk.

In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer also classified outdoor air pollution as causing cancer. Data from 2010 show that 223,000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide are attributable to air pollution. Air pollution is thus a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths. This is highly disturbing.

We must therefore take action to improve air quality. We must take action across national boundaries, but also across sectors. We must take action at power stations, at industrial installations and in individual homes. Action must be taken by car makers and car owners, by farmers across the vast pan-European region, by those burning wood in a home furnace and, last but not least, by each and every one of us. Reducing air pollution must be a high priority on our health agenda to prevent cancer and other diseases.

Since 1979, UNECE has been working to improve air quality through its Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Air Convention), which sets emission targets for Parties to reduce air pollution. The result of this collective effort has been spectacular: emissions of a series of harmful substances have been reduced by 40 to 70% since 1990 in Europe. The air we breathe today in Europe and North America is much cleaner than it was 30 years ago.

But we must do more and we must take global action. This is why air quality has been selected as one of the two main themes at the next Environment for Europe ministerial conference in Georgia in 2016. This is why air quality is a key priority in the expected Sustainable Development Goals.

Breathe in and breathe out. Let’s get to work. ... cer-311765

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:12 am 
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Is detox all it’s cracked up to be?

IF YOU’VE stumbled out the wrong side of the holiday period and are struggling to button up your jeans, chances are you’ve muttered the D-word under your breath at least once.

And with promises such as rapid weight loss and purifying your body of dangerous toxins, a few weeks detoxing on a juice fast or spending hundreds of dollars on supplements seems a small price to pay to wash away your sins of the past few months.

But before you wipe the dust off your juicer, Professor Tim Crowe from Deakin University, says unfortunately, those promises are too good to be true (but deep down your probably already knew that).

“There’s no question that someone with a very poor diet who starts cutting out rubbish, eating better and loses weight will feel better in the short-term,” he says.

“But the mechanism of how they work is built around pseudo science — there’s nothing magical about them at all. All they do is force you to eat better.”

Or in the case of juice cleanses or the popular weight-loss program Isagenix, eat not much at all.

Consumer watchdog CHOICE recently reviewed Isagenix, which promises significant weight loss, plus the chance to make thousands of dollars selling the product through multi-level marketing.

And at a cost of $260-$750 — you’d need to sell the product just to be able to afford it!

CHOICE determined that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims made by some Isagenix sellers.

Isagenix HQ responded “we do not authorise any medical claims or advice with respect to our products.”

So how does a product like this and others like it get such glowing reviews?

“A lot of detox diets are a form of calorie restriction, which can help you lose weight, but a lot of that weight loss is coming from your carbohydrate stores,” explains Crowe.

“You’re losing those stores in your muscles and liver. That explains a lot of the tiredness and fatigue. Most of the reason people feel like crap on these diets is because they’re in a state of semi-starvation.

“It’s actually putting you at risk of nutrient deficiency because you’re not getting adequate protein, vitamins and minerals.”

Pushy business

Now it seems detox and cleanse diets have gone from ineffective black holes for cash to something more concerning.

There are stories of people who have been coerced into buying Isagenix from so-called friends and even allied health professionals.

Sarah from Sydney says her naturopath recommended she use the product for digestion problems.

“He put me in touch with someone who wasn’t a health professional, she just sold Isagenix on the side,” she says. “In hindsight it was just so wrong.

“When I went to the salesperson’s house her husband cornered me and said I should do free trials at different gyms around my area and try to get new Isagenix clients.”
Sarah says while she did lose some weight and felt better, before long she’d gained it all back, despite being a healthy eater.

Meanwhile, Anne felt she was tricked into buying and selling Isagenix by a friend.

“The products arrived and it was all chemical crap I would never eat, plus I was supposed to only have one actual food meal a day,” she says.

“The smell of the products alone made me feel sick. I told my friend that the products weren’t agreeing with my food allergies and she tried several times to convince me that this was all part of the cleansing process.”

CHOICE also reported concerns about salespeople with no qualifications giving people health advice.

Mysterious toxins

What are these “toxins” manufacturers of detox or cleanse products keep talking about?

“You tell me,” says Crowe. “This question has been asked of promoters of these diets many times and not one of them has ever been able to name any toxins.”

The thing is, he says, the human body is really great at detoxing itself, without the help of supplements, tonics or juices.

“Our bodies are full of toxins, such as urea, and we excrete them all day long. Our liver and kidneys work very well at getting rid of them,” he explains.

Detox the right way

If you’re really keen on blasting away any excess weight and guilt, Crowe has the best, scientifically proven detox around: eat your greens.

“I’m not going to make a ton of money or sell any books out of it, but there you go,” he says.

“Throw out all the junk in your fridge and cupboards, then fill it full of fruits and vegies.

“Go absolutely nuts on them for a couple of days, then gradually start introducing other foods back into your diet. That’s a detox. It’s as simple as that.” has contacted Isagenix for comment. ... 7211563605

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:25 am 
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Health Check: how to get kids to eat healthy food

Hippocrates said circa 400BC that "food should be our medicine and medicine should be our food". He would probably turn in his grave if he saw the amount of highly processed, sugary food and drinks marketed to children today. This food can be as addictive as cocaine or heroin. And it's difficult for parents to counteract its appeal.

One in four Australian children and 63 per cent of adults are overweight or obese. This is contributing to unprecedented levels of preventable obesity-related disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and liver and kidney failure.

Unhealthy diets also contribute to poor mental health and lower IQ in children. Just like our body, our brain needs essential nutrients and a healthy environment free from inflammation, oxidation and excess glucose to work properly.

What can we do?

Public health groups are tackling junk food marketing with a multifaceted approach akin to the painfully gradual change that reduced tobacco advertising and smoking. In the meantime, parents can have a very important influence on their child's health and eating choices.

A healthy diet at any age is high in plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains as well as fish and healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil. And it's low in processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods and red meat.

It's important to enjoy a variety of foods from each of the core food groups to get a broad range of essential nutrients.

So, for starters, breastfeeding for 12 months gives children a healthy immunity and has multiple benefits for their health and for their cognitive development. It can also impact on their taste preferences by exposing them to multidimensional flavours - and they can develop taste preferences for foods that mum eats too (healthy or otherwise).

The best time to gradually start introducing solids is about six months of age, when children are developmentally ready and start needing extra calories and some extra nutrients such as iron. But even the most well-meaning parents can struggle to get toddlers and children to eat healthy food, especially vegetables.

Convincing toddlers

Children will learn to like healthy food such as vegetables if they are regularly exposed to them from a young age. Where you can, cook baby foods yourself from fresh ingredients, and avoid adding sugars and salt.

Children's taste preferences are established in early life. It is best to keep it simple – introduce new vegetables and fruit one at a time so they can learn to appreciate the individual flavours.

Young children naturally tend to develop neophobia, fear of unknown food, about the age of two. Therefore, continued exposure to healthy foods, rather than pandering to fussiness, will help to mitigate this and their willingness to try novel foods will naturally increase over time.

Research shows it can take 10 to 14 exposures to a previously unliked vegetable for children to like it and choose to eat it. So don't give up. It's important for this exposure to be neutral, without any pressure, rewards or bribes. Make it a positive family occasion free from distractions such as TV, other media and toys.

Research has shown that even exposing children to vegetables in story books from a young age can further strengthen the likelihood that they will eat vegetables.

Most importantly, make it fun and let children play with their food to explore all of the colours, flavours and textures.

The "parent provide, child decide" model can make this process a little easier. This is where parents provide healthy options within firm boundaries and allow the child to decide what, and how much to eat. Keep the unhealthy options out of the house.

Forcing children to eat vegetables does not work - you might win the battle but will lose the war. Avoid negative associations with healthy food, as these can put them off.

Nor does using bribes or rewards work, as children will learn to prefer the reward and not learn to enjoy healthy food for its own intrinsic taste.

Children will eat when they are hungry; their appetite will vary so don't panic if they don't want to eat. Let them learn to listen to their bodies and their innate hunger cues.

They will also copy you. So if you want healthy children, you need to be a good role model and eat well too.

Encouraging older children

As children get older, other children, parties and school can influence their eating behaviours. However, the family food environment still plays an important role in influencing healthy eating - in particular, the mother's role modelling behaviour and the food that is available in the home.

Other things that parents can do is involve children in shopping, cooking, gardening. School projects have shown that if children are involved in growing, picking and cooking vegetables they are more likely to eat them.

Children of all ages whose families eat together at home - free from distractions such as television - have been shown to have healthier diets. So make it a priority to eat together. This is also a great time for conversation and bonding.

And don't despair if you or your child is struggling. The good news is that food addictions and taste preferences can be changed. There are infinite healthy, tasty recipes that are simple and affordable to make.

In sum, create a warm, positive, healthy food and meal environment free from distractions when eating, and be a good role model. Children will learn to enjoy good food as it is meant to be enjoyed, and flourish in the process. ... 3an3b.html

PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 1:04 pm 
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Top 10 mainstream diet myths debunked

"Dietary advice does not merely need a review; it should not have been introduced."

This is the arresting conclusion made in a new review published in BMJ's Open Heart journal.

In this instance, the researchers are referring specifically to the fat recommendations in national dietary guidelines.

Nutritional science is a dynamic field and knowledge is growing quickly, debunking long-held beliefs. Beliefs like margarine is better than butter or that fat makes you fat.

Here are 10 common nutritional beliefs that have been debunked by science.

1. Saturated fat is bad

This myth started in the 1970s with the flawed Seven Countries study, which looked at the correlation between saturated fat intake and heart disease among 12,763 men from seven different countries.

The study failed to consider whether the men smoked, did exercise or consumed sugar, among other factors.

Saturated fat, as the new BMJ study has found, is not bad for weight or heart health.

In fact, it can even be good for us – if it's coming from healthy sources like organic eggs, coconut oil, butter and range-raised, grass-fed meat instead of salami and fast food.

"The truth is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances, without which your body cannot function optimally," says Dr Joseph Mercola.

"Any dietitian working with clients for weight loss or to improve blood lipids knows it is the fat balance in the diet that is crucial, not just the saturated fat intake," adds dietitian Susie Burrell. "Anything is bad if we have too much of it, but 15-20g saturated fat each day via dairy or meat and a balanced diet is no issue."

Bottom line: As part of a balanced diet, saturated fat is not bad. In fact, when it comes from the right sources and is eaten in moderation, it can be beneficial to our health. "Dietitians are now recommending that people focus on whole foods as opposed to purely on nutrients," says accredited practising dietitian from Nutrition Plus Melanie McGrice.

2. A low-fat diet is better for health

This comes from the same school of thought that labelled fat bad. It has, thankfully been debunked on multiple levels.

A low-fat eating pattern does not cut health risks of cancer or heart disease, studies have shown, and it does not lead to greater weight loss than a high-fat diet.

"Low-fat processed foods tend to contain refined carbohydrates and added sugars – in general processed foods are not a good choice," Burrell says.

Bottom line: It's still a matter of moderation, but this myth needs skimming. The Dietitians Association of Australia suggests about 70 grams of fat per adult per day. To put it in perspective, an avocado has about 15 grams of fat. "In recent years we have learnt how important a small amount of fat is for part of a healthy diet – even for those who want to lose body fat," McGrice says.

3. Salt is the devil

A new study, conducted over 10 years, found that sodium intake was not associated with higher death rates, cardiovascular disease or heart failure.

"There is a need for stronger evidence, preferably from rigorous controlled trials testing additional thresholds for sodium intake, before applying a policy of further sodium restriction to older adults beyond the current recommendation for the general adult population (2300 mg/dl)," the authors said.

In fact a separate study of more than 100,000 found that a diet too low in salt can have negative health implications.

"Research in nutragenetics is now showing us that some people are more sensitive to salt than others, so salt's impact on your health may be affected by your DNA," note McGrice.

Bottom line: For healthy individuals, without blood pressure or heart issues, a moderate amount of salt isn't bad. Instead of slavishly counting milligrams, one idea is to eat real (not processed salt-packed foods), add salt where necessary for flavour and leave it at that. "There are worse things going on with Australian's diet than salt – if you cut back on fast and processed foods, you will automatically cut back on salt," Burrell points out.

4. Sugar is the dietary devil with its empty kilojoules

OK, sugar sure looks and tastes a treat. But, it can be very badly behaved. If we eat too much of it, that is.

It is not just the way it delivers empty calories, completely devoid of nutrition. It is the way it messes with your insulin, making you want to go back for more. And more.

It's the way it can cause metabolic problems, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease.

We currently consume too much sugar and there is no doubt we need to dabble less in the sugar dance.

It's also more than just empty kilojoules

BUT, a little sugar is not the dietary devil, as some food activists say.

"Added sugars via soft drink, lollies, snack foods offer little nutritionally and should be kept to a minimum in the diet," Burrell advises. "A small amount of natural sugars in fruit and dairy is no cause for concern."

Bottom line: For healthy, active people who eat a well-balanced diet, a small amount of sugar is sweet. "If you're undertaking plenty of physical activity, and brushing your teeth regularly, there's no harm in having some jam on your toast or a little chocolate syrup in a glass of milk to add flavour and variety to your diet," McGrice says.

5. Eggs are evil

"Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense natural foods available," says Burrell.

Recent research has debunked the idea that eggs are bad for heart health and cholesterol in healthy individuals. In fact, eggs are rich in iodine, for making thyroid hormones, and phosphorus, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. They are also packed with vitamins A, B, E and D.

As well as this, eggs activate serotonin, the happy hormone.

"Eggs have been recommended as a great source of nutrition by the Australian Dietary Guidelines for over a decade now," McGrice points out.

Bottom line: Eggs are good for body and mind, so get cracking, preferably with free-range or organic eggs, which studies have shown to be more nutritious.

6. Multiple small meals beats three square meals

Despite a recent trend towards small meals spread evenly throughout the day to fuel the metabolism, there is no solid evidence that this happens.

Rather, research has revealed that it is the total amount of food eaten in a day that makes the difference to appetite, fat loss and metabolism. This is regardless of whether you're consuming three square meals or six small ones.

"Whether you should eat three meals or include snacks in between largely depends upon your routine and lifestyle," McGrice says.

"Many Aussies snack too much with 6-8 eating occasions a day," adds Burrell. "Three to four suit most people - breakfast, lunch, mid afternoon and dinner."

Bottom line: Watch your quantities however you consume them and stick with what works for you, but it is not true that eating more frequently will burn more kilojoules over the course of the day.

7. Low fat dairy is better for health and weight loss

Many health guidelines recommend low fat dairy to minimise kilojoule intake. Additionally, full fat dairy has been slandered by the saturated fat equates to a greater risk of heart disease and obesity.

Interestingly, studies have shown an inverse association with full fat dairy and obesity risk.

As well as this, overall intake of dairy products was not associated with early death. The conclusion of one long-term study: "A possible beneficial association between intake of full-fat dairy and cardiovascular mortality needs further assessment and confirmation."

Adds McGrice: "The difference in fat between full cream milk versus low fat milk is only 2% so doesn't amount to a very big difference in kilojoules anyway unless you're drinking litres of milk every day, the key message is to ensure that you're including three serves of dairy or dairy alternatives in your diet each day."

Bottom line: Full fat dairy has been linked with a reduced risk of obesity and possibly even heart disease. As with anything the key is easy does it. "If the rest of the diet is low in processed and fast foods, a small amount of full cream dairy can be a part of a balanced diet," Burrell says.

8. Cooking with olive oil is bad

This rumour has been doing the mainstream rounds in recent years. Olive oil has been called the healthiest fat on the planet. It runs its liquid gold goodness right through the Mediterranean diet, is abundant in antioxidants and improves risk factors related to heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes.

But, some researchers have said that olive oil burn at low temperatures compared to other types (like coconut oil), and when oil is overheated, it produces toxic chemicals called lipid peroxides.

Various other studies however have found this to be untrue and found heated olive oil to be more stable than oils like sunflower or canola.

"Deep frying in olive oil will destroy the oil but olive oil still offers the health benefit of acting as a rich source of antioxidants when used in cooking at medium temperatures," Burrell explains.

"Variety is the spice of life and I think that it's a great idea to vary the types of oils that you use to create different flavours in your meals," McGrice suggests.

Bottom line: Olive oil can tolerate heat and is OK to cook with as well as being wonderful in salads... and pretty much everything else.

9. Skipping breakfast is a terrible idea

Breakfast isn't necessarily the most important meal of the day, for weight-loss at least, recent research has revealed.

One study found that while eating breakfast resulted in greater initial weight loss among participants, those who tended towards eating later instead were better at maintaining fat-free mass, which impacts metabolism.

"What time you have your first meal of the day really should come down to your lifestyle and what you eat for your first meal," McGrice advises. "If your first meal is a doughnut at 11am, then maybe you should be considering eating breakfast."

Adds Burrell: "Eating the first meal of the day as early as possible helps to boost metabolic rate."

Bottom line: Breakfast is known to have a positive impact on cognition, but skipping it won't necessarily slow your metabolism. Start the day how it feels natural for you and eat when you're hungry.

10. Fasting slows your metabolism and increases cortisol

Dr Michael Mosley popularised the idea of intermittent fasting. But, rumours persist that going without food will slow your metabolism.

This is not true, so long as the fasts are for short periods, research has revealed.

"New research suggests that occasional fasting may even boost metabolism, if done in the right way," says Burrell.

One recent study found beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on glucose regulation and cardiovascular function. Other studies have found that overnight fasting (after dinner waiting 12 hours to eat breakfast) can improve blood sugar and metabolism levels, help fight high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

"Your metabolism slows when your body runs out of fuel and has to start breaking down muscle mass, but your body should have enough glycogen stores to last a few days before this occurs," McGrice says.

Bottom line: Prolonged fasting and severe calorie restriction disturb the endocrine system, but intermittent fasting can have positive effects on our health and waistlines. ... 3e1bo.html

PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:03 pm 
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Uberman: How Matt Mullenweg built a billion-dollar business sleeping six times a day

At his most productive Matt Mullenweg slept six times a day.

This was while he was creating a billion-dollar company that led to him being named one of the most influential people on the internet.

In a new interview, the tech icon, whose company Wordpress powers more than 20 per cent of the internet, opened up about his top hacks for productivity.

One of the more controversial hacks, which also included mini-meditations and one push-up each day, was a sleep technique called the Uberman.

Uberman involves breaking sleep into six 30 minute blocks, separated by about four hours of wakefulness.

"This was probably one of the most productive periods of my life," Mullenweg said. "I wrote WordPress in that time."

Mullenweg said sticking systematically to the routine was essential. "You're wrecked" if you miss one of those naps, he told fellow Uberman-advocate and author of the New York Times best selling Four Hour Body, Tim Ferriss.

The concept behind Uberman is that through slight sleep deprivation, you maximise REM sleep – the restorative dream phase – as well as your waking hours.

Studies have shown that most animals follow a polyphasic sleep pattern (on which Uberman is based), while before electric light, humans tended to sleep twice a day, Spanish siesta-style.

"Humans slept in two four-hour blocks, which were separated by a period of wakefulness in the middle of the night lasting an hour or more," says Roger Ekirch, a sleep historian and author of At Day's Close: Night in Times Past.

During this time, people might hang out in bed, visit their neighbours or practice making babies, before going back to sleep, Ekirch said.

"On a good morning there's no alarm clock," Mullenweg said in a blog about his own sleep experimentation. "I wake up with the sun and do my best to resist the instinctive urge to look at the computer or check email for at least an hour.

"I do my best work mid-morning and super late at night, from one to five in the morning. Some people don't need sleep, but I actually need a ton.

"I just sleep all the time, catching naps in the afternoon or a 20-minute snooze in the office. Our business is 24 hours – folks in Australia start their day around 4pm my time and our guys and girls in Europe get going around midnight. Sometimes I'll go out at night, come home from the bar at 2 or 3am, and then go back to work."

Mullenweg ultimately stopped Uberman when he started a new relationship.

"That was the end of Uberman, and the beginning of a significantly less productive – but more romantic – phase," he said in a separate interview with Ferriss. "It's nice to be able to spend a normal night with someone instead of just sleeping 20 minutes."

He does however wonder whether he hit "peak" productivity when he went polyphasic.

Whether or not he did, or did as a result of Uberman, it is a risky technique.

"Uberman's sleep schedule is a potentially dangerous way to increase your waking hours," writes one Kuro5shan website user who tried the technique for one month. "Although I found success with it to this point, there still may be physical and psychological dangers that I have not yet met, and there may be grave difficulties for others attempting the cycle."

Professor David Hillman, chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, agrees.

"There's not a lot of science backing it," he says. "It doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

The current sleep guidelines recommend most adults aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, in one monophasic block, or split in two to include a short afternoon siesta.

Either way, these are largely driven by our circadian rhythms; the desire to sleep when it's dark and wake when it's light, except for after lunch where there is a natural "circadian low that aids and abets sleep", Hillman explains.

He says there are exceptions to every rule and some research by the military has found that a series of naps throughout the day can replace one big block of sleep. But, he says, the sleep guidelines exist for good reason.

"A fairly low proportion of us are relatively robust sleepers and can sleep on a barbed wire fence," he says. "But most of us need to be relatively careful ... I don't think it should be embraced en masse."

The five sleep schedules

1. Monophasic Schedule: One solid sleep for 7 to 9 hours.

2. The Biphasic Schedule: Two three-to-four-hour sleeps with an hour of awake time in the middle.

3. The Dymaxion Sleep Schedule: 30-minute naps every 6 hours.

4. The Uberman Schedule: Six 30-minute naps per day.

5. The Everyman Schedule: A daily three-hour sleep plus three 20-minute naps. ... 3g47p.html

PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:34 pm 
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Too much screen time causes cancer

INCREASE in teenagers' screen use a new threat to long-term health New research released today by Cancer Council Australia and the National Heart Foundation of Australia shows Australian teenagers are spending increasing time in front of electronic devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, video games and TV.

The updated National Secondary Students' Diet and Activity Survey found 77 per cent of Australian teenagers spent more than two hours using electronic devices for entertainment on school days, compared with 71 per cent in 2010.

The proportion of teenagers exceeding the recommended two hours of screen time per day on weekends also increased, from 83 to 89 per cent.

Chair of Cancer Council Australia's Public Health Committee, Craig Sinclair, said the increase in screen use threatened to undermine any modest benefit from a marginal improvement in physical activity levels, which remained critically low.

"As a parent, I know how fixated kids can be with their electronic devices, but we have to get our kids moving and complement increased physical activity with healthier eating," Mr Sinclair said.

Ms Mary Barry, Heart Foundation National CEO, said the research reiterated the need for a national physical activity strategy.

"Overweight and obesity among young people is a significant public health issue in Australia, with overweight adolescents being at increased risk of becoming overweight adults and experiencing chronic diseases such as heart disease," Ms Barry said.

Mr Sinclair said there had been a marginal improvement in exercise levels since 2010, but 82 per cent of teens were still not getting the recommended minimum of one hour's physical activity each day to help protect their long-term health.

Ms Barry said the modern day problem of increased use of electronic devices was emerging as a new frontier in the fight against obesity and inactivity with 58 per cent of students having at least three televisions at home and 40 per cent having one in their bedroom.

The survey also found four in 10 students have video games in their bedroom as well.

The Heart Foundation and Cancer Council believe parents, schools and policy makers have to work together to help ensure the use of electronic devices do not harm the long-term health of our young people. ... r/2549382/

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