Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Take a Break: Halloween: Make Ghost/Skull Smoke Bombs

Now that it’s officially fall, it’s time to get serious about the eerie side of life and prepare for the mid point between the fall equinox and winter Solstice-Halloween. So far no theme for this year, but 2014 was all about paper-links included at the end of this post.

So let’s start off the season with a bang-Ghost/Skull Smoke Bombs. These are easy to make:
-Hollow out an eggshell, wash and let thoroughly and let dry. These need to be really dry, so maybe let dry over night just to be sure.
- Using a black marker: For the ghost add eyes and an oval for the mouth. For the skull, draw eye sockets, an upside down heart (the narrow end is between the eye sockets) and teeth.
- Fill with baby powder-baking soda and flour just don’t “smoke” the same as talcum but you can use them in a pinch.
- Glue white tissue paper over the opening.

Be sure to throw outside, otherwise there will be quite a mess to clean up.

2014 Halloween Take a Breaks

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What you watch and click can impact your health

Every time you search Google, click on a link that someone has posted on Facebook, and engage in countless other ways on line, you are leaving a digital trail. This results in specific ads, product placements etc. that appear when you are on-line. For more information on this topic check out What Can Companies Predict From Your Digital Trail? 

And it’s not just the Internet. Millions of dollars are poured into understanding who watches what on TV, listens to the radio or reads print materials. As a result, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and sales pitches, with more and more specifically targeted to individuals (particularly on-line) then ever before.

And this impacts health how?

If you do a search on a certain chronic condition, say fibromyalgia, it wont be long before you will start seeing various fillers, ads and notices on your Facebook page and e-mail that in someway relates to the fact that you may have a health issue. Some of these items are just plain “snake oil” and scams. Other ads and “suggested posts/Apps for you” could provide information that is not only incorrect but could actually be risky. Then there are the various legal groups advertising free legal evaluation for a specific diagnosis, drug and/or  medical procedure – your basic ambulance chasers-that set people up to believe that if they have a problem with their health they can sue someone.

Finally, just watching the nightly news with the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality is enough to make anyone feel ill. If you're at all depressed, much of what passes for news will certainly make you feel worse. Beyond the news, there are plenty of TV shows that make you loose sleep or plain creep one out for a day or two.

Consider the following:

• Set limits: Too much TV, time spent in front of the computer or on your phone isn’t good for anyone, so limit it as much as possible. Consider video streaming since it eliminates ads when watching TV and don’t watch anything scary or upsetting too late in the evening as it could interfere with sleep.

• Use news outlets that limit advertisements as well as cover news and not sensational journalism, such as National Public Radio  or The Guardian.

• Use filters: More reputable websites will end in .org, .edu or .gov

• Be careful what you click on and by all means use spam filters and follow tips on how to help reduce spam in your e-mail.

• Go to STOP Unsolicited Phone Calls, Mail & E-mails for ways to eliminate unwanted calls, snail mail and e-mail. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Take a Break: Try Blind Contour Drawing

I came across an article Simple Drawing Techniques forAnxiety and became fascinated by blind contour drawing. Basically you only look at your subject, not your paper, and draw one continuous line without taking pen or pencil off the page. While this technique is an excellent way to train the eye to draw what it sees, it’s also very relaxing.

Lots of fun stuff to explore at Mindful Art Studio.

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Journal Watch September 2015

• New Technologies Can help Short Circuit Chronic Pain: As part of a comprehensive treatment plan, a variety of technologies offer new hope to people living with chronic pain. This article reviews a few of these,- radio waves, electrical pulses (TENS), image-guided injections, spinal cord stimulation,  and special pumps to deliver pain medication-in an effort to give hope to those who suffer. Science Daily 

• Oral Contraceptives and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Oral contraceptives -- also known as birth control pills -- may ease pain and improve functioning in women with rheumatoid arthritis, a small German study suggests. Arthritis Care & Research 

• Many Seniors with Cancer Use Alternative Medicines: Many elderly cancer patients use alternative medicines, including some that could interfere with their treatment, a new study shows. Many of these patients don't tell their doctors they are using complementary or alternative medicines (CAMs). Journal of Geriatric Oncology 

• Mixed Findings on Pot’s Effect on the Developing Brain: Marijuana's potential effect on brain structure remains a subject of intense scientific scrutiny, but mixed results have emerged from two of the latest studies on the topic. Researchers in one study have concluded that marijuana use likely does not directly affect the size of the amygdala, a brain site linked with emotion, emotional behavior and motivation. "We found that while cannabis users had lower amygdala volumes than nonusers, that difference appears to be linked to other predisposing factors." But researchers in the other study found that marijuana use in the teenage years could increase kids' risk for developing schizophrenia if they carry a high genetic risk for the mental illness. JAMA Psychiatry 

Could Marijuana Chemical Help Ease Epilepsy?: A chemical found in marijuana might help prevent epilepsy seizures, but drug laws have hampered research efforts, a new study says. New England Journal of Medicine 

Hypertensive Patients Benefit From Acupuncture Treatments: Patients with hypertension treated with acupuncture experienced drops in their blood pressure that lasted up to a month and a half, researchers have found. This work is the first to scientifically confirm that this ancient Chinese practice is beneficial in treating mild to moderate hypertension, and it indicates that regular use could help people control their blood pressure and lessen their risk of stroke and heart disease. Medical Acupuncture 

Tai Chi for People with Long-Term Health Conditions:  he slow, fluid movements of tai chi -- an ancient Chinese exercise -- appear to help older adults with chronic conditions improve their physical function, a new review suggests. Specifically, those with breast cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, which includes emphysema) saw improvements in strength, balance and posture without worsening pain or being out of breath. British Journal of Sports Medicine 

• Yoga Improves Arthritis Symptoms,Mood: Yoga can be safe and effective for people with arthritis, a randomized trial of people with two common forms of arthritis has found. The researchers report that eight weeks of yoga classes improved the physical and mental well being of people with two common forms of arthritis, knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The Journal of Rheumatology 

• Approved Flibanserin to boost women’s sex drive
• Requiring manufacturers of testosterone supplements to conduct clinical trials to test whether men benefit from treatments to reverse age related dips in testosterone.
• Issued Warning about reports of severe allergic reactions and herpes zoster associated with the use of ingenol mebutate (Picato gel).
• Approves Repatha for High Cholesterol, the second non-statin drug in its class approved to treat high cholesterol
• Warns of joint pain tied to widely prescribed type 2 Diabetes drugs- sitagliptin (Januvia), saxagliptin (Onglyza), linagliptin (Tradjenta) and alogliptin (Nesina)
• Propoposed New Rules to Keep Food Safety
• Strengthened warning for the type 2 Diabetes drug Invokana and Invokamet relating to the increased risk of bone fractures, and added new information about decreased bone mineral density.
• Alert for voluntary recall of all non-expired drug products produced for sterile use and distributed nationwide by Medistat RX, LLC in Foley, Al due to possible contamination. Recall is for Nov. 1, 2014 to Sept. 3, 2015
• Expanded alert for compounder or repackaged drugs stored in Becton-Dickinson general use syringes.
• Bans Sale of New R.J. Reynolds Cigarettes

Workaholics May Face Higher Stroke Risk: "Working long hours is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, and perhaps also coronary heart disease," putting millions of workers who put in lots of overtime at risk for a stroke. The Lancet 

• Physical Activity, Nutritional Supplements Fail to Have Significant Effect on Cognitive Function: Two studies published in the August 25 issue of JAMA show that physical activity and nutrient supplementation have no effect on cognitive function. A total of 1,635 participants aged 70 to 89 years were randomised to a structured, moderate-intensity physical activity program (n = 818) that included walking, resistance training, and flexibility exercises, or to a health education program (n = 817) of educational workshops and upper-extremity stretching.

 Short Intense Workouts May Help Hearts of Diabetics: New research suggests that short bouts of high-intensity exercise could help reverse some early cardiac changes in people with type 2 diabetes. The data also suggest that this type of high-intensity intermittent exercise benefits both the heart and diabetes control, but the benefits appear to be greatest in the heart. Diabetologia 

• Naps May Do a Heart Good: A study of 400 middle aged adults found that those who napped saw their systolic blood pressure reading (the number on top of the standard blood pressure ratio) drop an average of 5 percent over the course of the day, compared with patients who didn't rest. European Society of Cardiology 

• Too Little Sleep May Quadruple Your Risk for Colds: When you're run down from lack of sleep, you really are more apt to catch a cold, a new study finds. Investigators exposed 164 adults to a cold virus, and found better-rested folks more likely to resist infection. Sleep 

• Too much too little sleep may harm the heart: Folks who get too much or too little sleep -- or not enough quality rest -- are more likely to suffer from stiffened arteries and calcium deposits on the walls of their major arteries. The sweet spot appears to be about seven hours of sleep, the researchers reported. People who got more or less sleep tended to have increased signs of potential future heart problems. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology

OtherPeople’s Flu Vaccines Help Seniors: Higher flu vaccination rates for young and middle-aged adults seem to lower the risk of flu among older people. That's important because seniors have a greater risk for serious flu-related complications. Clinical Infectious Diseases 

 Fewer Seniors Falls While Taking Vitamin D: Over five months, 68 homebound seniors received either a monthly vitamin D supplement of 100,000 international units or a placebo with their Meals on Wheels prepared-food deliveries. At the start of the study, more than half of the seniors had insufficient vitamin D levels, and fewer than one-quarter had optimal levels. The supplements increased vitamin D from insufficient to sufficient levels in all but one senior who received the supplements, and to optimal levels in all but five. Seniors who received the vitamin D supplements reported about half the falls as those in the placebo group. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 

• Vitamin C: The Exercise Replacement?: Exercise improves health in overweight and obese adults but can be hard to incorporate into a daily routine. New findings show that taking vitamin C supplements daily instead can have similar cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in these adults. American Physiological Society (APS 

• Vitamin A Implicated in Development of Alcoholic Liver Disease: Chronic alcohol consumption has a dramatic effect on the way the body handles vitamin A. Long-term drinking lowers vitamin A levels in the liver, which is the main site of alcohol breakdown and vitamin A storage, while raising vitamin A levels in many other tissues. This opens the doors for novel treatments of alcoholic liver disease that focus on counteracting alcohol's effect on vitamin A in the liver. The FASEB Journal 

• No Benefit of Omega-3 Supplements for Cognitive Decline: While some research suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can protect brain health, a large clinical trial found that omega-3 supplements did not slow cognitive decline in older persons. With 4,000 patients followed over a five-year period, the study is one of the largest and longest of its kind. JAMA 

• One or Two Drinks a Day Might Boost Cancer Risk: A new study of 136,000 adults found light to moderate drinking was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women and several other cancers in male smokers. Light drinking is defined as up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks daily for men, the researchers added. BMJ 

• Could Eating Fish Help Ward Off Depression?: Chinese researchers found that people who consumed the most fish lowered their risk of depression by 17 percent compared to those who ate the least. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 

• How Safe is your ground beef? According to Consumer Reports, if it’s labeled grass fed organic it’s going to be a lot better for you than what is generally available at your grocery store. Consumer Reports 

• High Protein Snacks: A study from Consumer Reports finds: you don’t need to reach for foods promoted as high protein snacks or otherwise go out of your way to do so. Most people easily get the 0.4 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day that experts recommend (0.6 gram if you’re over 65 and 1 gram if you’re an athlete). It’s best if the protein comes from whole foods like beans, eggs, low-fat dairy, lean meats, nuts, quinoa, seafood, and tofu. In most cases, you’re better off choosing the regular version over the high protein snack version. 

 Beta Glucan enriched pasta boosts good gut bacteria and lowered cholesterol: People fed beta-glucan-enriched pasta for two months showed increased populations of beneficial bacteria in their intestinal tracts, and reduced populations of non-beneficial bacteria. They also showed reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol. This work is part of a broad effort to identify potential prebiotics -- foods that could encourage the growth of health-promoting bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 

• Insulin Pumps Nearly Halve Risk of Heart Disease Death for Type 1 Diabetes: People with type 1 diabetes who use insulin pumps seem to have a much lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke prematurely than those who rely on multiple daily injections of insulin, new research suggests. BMJ 

• Antibiotics Linked to Type 2 Diabetes:Danish researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes tended to take more antibiotics in the years leading up to their diagnosis than Danes without the condition. Although the researchers uncovered an association between antibiotic use and type 2 diabetes, it's important to note they did not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Journal of Clinical Endocriniology & Metabolism 

• Flu Vaccines Offer About 6 Months of Protection: A study of more than 1,700 Americans of all ages received flu shots for four flu seasons, from 2010-2011 through 2013-2014. Annual flu shots offered up to six months of protection. This means flu vaccination reduced one's risk of a doctor's visit by approximately 50 to 70 percent American Society of Microbiology, news release, Aug. 24, 2015 

  When Spouse has a Stroke, Caregiver Suffers: Swedish researchers evaluated nearly 250 caregiving partners of stroke survivors and found they scored lower on tests of mental and physical well-being than people with healthy spouses. Their vitality and social life also suffered, not only in the first years after stroke, but over many years. Stroke 

• Head Lice Now Resistant in 25 States: Drug-resistant head lice are very likely coming to a school near you, U.S. investigators warn. At least 25 states host lice populations that don't respond to common over-the-counter treatments, a new analysis reveals. American Chemical Society 

• Many Say Mental Care is Vital but Hard to Get: In questioning more than 2,000 adults, nearly 90 percent said they place equal value on mental and physical health. But one-third said mental health care is inaccessible. And 40 percent said cost is a barrier to treatment for many people, the survey found. Anxiety and Depression Association of America 

• US Smoking rate falls to 15%: The U.S. smoking rate continues to decline, with just over 15 percent of adults reporting they're current smokers, a new government survey reveals. That's down from nearly 17 percent in 2014 and almost 18 percent in 2013. The falloff reflects a continued decline that started in 2010 after a decade of no progress against smoking.  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

 Many Teens With Chronic Illness Use Alcohol, Pot: Teens with chronic diseases such as asthma and juvenile arthritis have to manage their health carefully, yet many of them have had alcohol or smoked marijuana in the last year, a new study shows. Pediatrics 

• How Reliable are Medical Studies?: Independent researchers couldn't reproduce the findings of more than half of 100 experiments previously published in three prominent psychology journals, a new review reports. Only 47 percent of the follow-up studies were able to reproduce the same effects of the original studies, the review found. The strength of findings found during original studies also appeared to diminish when successfully replicated. Science 

• Antibacterial Soaps Fail to Beat Plain Soap: Lab tests conducted by a team of Korean researchers revealed that when bacteria are exposed to the standard over-the-counter antibacterial ingredient known as triclosan for hours at a time, the antiseptic formulation is a more potent killer than plain soap. The problem: People wash their hands for a matter of seconds, not hours. And in real-world tests, the research team found no evidence to suggest that normal hand-washing with antibacterial soap does any more to clean the hands than plain soap. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy