Archive for October, 2011

Halloween is a special day in our household. No, we aren’t into ghosts or goblins. It’s our older daughter’s birthday. I quipped shortly after her birth and several sleepless nights, “I don’t know if she is a trick or a treat.” Through the years, I assure you she remains a delightful treat.

Whether to honor birthdays or celebrate Halloween, mixes made from popcorn make great treats. Unless you add salt and excessive butter or oil, popcorn is a low-sodium, low-calorie food with lots of healthy fiber. If you expect little goblins at your door tonight, you have time to whip up a nutritious snack. Place goodies into zip-closed bags.

October is Popcorn Popping Month. To find an enjoyable array of recipes and a fun website for Halloween or anytime, go to www.popcorn.org.

Have a happy, healthy day.

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October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day. This date climaxes the Bone and Joint Decade National Action Week (October 12-20) mandated by President George W. Bush in 2002. The event focuses on arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis and calls attention to prevention, management, and treatments. According to reports by the Bone and Joint Institute, musculoskeletal conditions affect millions worldwide and nearly half the American population over age eighteen. This malady is the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability.

Osteoporosis, referred to as a silent disease, occurs without symptoms. As many as ten million Americans have osteoporosis and thirty-four million more have low bone mass. Forty percent of women over age fifty can expect to suffer from at least one fracture as a result of this disease.

What can you do? Several lifestyle factors impact bone health. Smoking and the consumption of two to three ounces a day of alcohol may cause greater susceptibility for osteoporosis. Certain medications can lead to a loss of bone density and fractures.

Good nutrition is vital for bone health. Inadequate intakes of calcium contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium include milk and milk products, sardines and salmon, dark green vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, and spinach), and almonds. Some foods fortified with calcium include orange juice, cereals, and bread.

Vitamin D, important for calcium absorption and bone health, is found in liver, saltwater fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna), and egg yolks. Many people acquire Vitamin D through fortified milk. Sunshine, another source of Vitamin D, could prove less reliable, especially during winter months. Children and most adults need 600 IU/day while older adults need at least 800 IU daily.

In addition to nutrition, the skeleton needs exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, especially, make bones stronger.

It’s never too late to consider bone health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test identifies osteoporosis, measures bone loss, and determines risk for fractures. The test is painless. Early treatment of abnormalities may prevent easily fractured bones and pain plus the multiple expenses associated with this prevalent disease. Take care of those bones. You need them to last for a lifetime.



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October is National Apple Month. As fall days grow cooler, we anticipate abundant crisp, tart varieties of apples. The chart below lists some of the most common varieties, their use, and availability.





Yellow to red

Rich, full flavor

Great for salads or to eat raw

September — December

Golden Delicious

Golden yellow

Mellow, sweet all-purpose apple for
baking, salads, and to eat raw


Granny Smith

Evenly colored bright green

Tart, crisp, juicy and excellent for
cooking, salads, and to eat raw


Red Delicious

Bright to dark red

Mildly sweet, juicy

Favorite eating apple



Dark red

Spicy, slightly tart

Great for cider, cooking or eating raw

October – August

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research indicates some truth to this statement. Apples and apple products promote weight loss, improve lung function, protect against certain types of cancers, protect arteries against harmful plaque build-up to prevent heart disease, and help those with type 2 diabetes and asthma. According to the US Apple Organization, apples may diminish the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and possibly decrease risks for developing it. Apples may improve immunity and gastrointestinal health due to its pectin content. Also, apples have few calories, about 80 per medium size, and are rich in fiber and other nutrients.

Apples keep well and are great to pack in lunches. Serve them plain or with peanut butter or cheese for a healthy snack.

For a simple, nutritious dessert, slice apples into thin strips, lengthwise, place in a
microwavable dish and cook only until slightly tender. Top with a small amount
of sugar or artificial sweetener and a couple teaspoons of butter or margarine.
Serve warm. Or pan-fry sliced apples in a small amount of margarine/butter until tender and lightly brown. Sprinkle with your favorite sweetener and cinnamon if desired. For special occasions, make apples a la mode by adding a small scoop of ice cream on top of the cooked apples. This treat is as tasty as apple pie with a lot fewer calories.

Apples have become the next superfruit. Learn more and find tasty recipes at one of the web sites below.



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Although the Diet Max Patch has been around for a few years, it recently came to my attention. The patch purports to release weight-regulating substances slowly through the skin. The patch elements stimulate the thyroid gland to increase metabolism and activate fat-burning mechanisms.

Diet Max Patch contains impressive sounding ingredients. Fucus Vesiculosus, a seaweed product, regulates the amount of iodine in the thyroid. Thus, it can stimulate the metabolism to burn fat and decrease appetite. It is possibly unsafe.

Garecinia Cambogia, a curry condiment used in appetite suppressants and energy products, has no formal evidence to support its effectiveness. Liver toxicity has been reported with use.

Guarana, a caffeine containing stimulant, can produce many side effects such as insomnia, trembling, hyperactivity, anxiety, and others. Long-term use may result in serious problems. Guarana may counteract several drugs and caution is advised in using.

Menthol serves as a flavoring and has other properties. In non-prescription products, it provides short-term relief of minor throat and mouth irritations.

When a patient asked about the product, a registered dietitian advised her against using the diet patch. The patient decided to try it anyway. On a follow-up visit, the client stated it did not work, and she had ceased to use it. Had she listened to the sage advice of the dietitian, she could have saved her money.

This week I learned about the bite counter. The gadget works something like a pedometer. The manufacturer touts this product as an alternative to food diaries or food recalls. It claims to give more objective data without the hassles of other
methods. Users wear the device like a watch, and wrist motion determines the bite count. The computerized mechanism allows you to set a count-based alarm for a buzzer to cue you to stop eating. Data are transferred to a computer for analysis. For a mere $800 you can have this invention count bites for you and serve as an aid in cutting down food intake.

What are we thinking? Why is it easier to go out and waste money on unproven or expensive products than to spend that same money on needed fruits and vegetables? Wouldn’t a nice bowl of strawberries, blueberries, or peaches be a much more delightful treat?

The next time you find yourself tempted to try the latest cure for your weight problem, go to the produce aisle and select your favorite fruit, savor every luscious bite, and luxuriate over the healthy benefits. Congratulate yourself for enjoying something your body needs instead of falling for a gimmick that could harm your health or at best, waste your money.

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