Friday, March 30, 2007

Something new about twins

…Scientists have found there is such a thing as semi-identical twins.

…John Flaherty, writing in the Arizona Republic (March 28, 2007), revealed that it is no longer a choice between identical and fraternal.

…Vivienne Souter, MD, a doctor at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, is lead researcher on the project. The semi-identical twin, she says, is vanishingly rare and used to be considered only a theoretical possibility.

…One in every 32 births is twins. Fraternal twins (two eggs, two sperm) occur once in every 60 births. Identical twins (one egg, one sperm, split in two) once in every 150 births.

…Semi-identical twins can come about from one egg, fertilized by two sperm, then split.

…Or…A single egg splits, then two sperm fertilize each half.

…Academic curiosity or something significant that has been overlooked until now? The docs aren’t sure.

…The twins being studied have abnormalities. One is male, the other a hermaphrodite (both ovarian and testicular tissue). They are also chimeric—meaning they carry two genetic blueprints.

…The toddlers are healthy and happy, the doctors report.

…Souter, the twin investigator, gave birth to twins four years ago. Destiny!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Happy grazing

…Teresa J. Farney, Freedom News Service, got going on greens. Must be spring or something. (Even HA ate a salad, which usually rips up her insides.)

…HA has sort of a fascination with this “field greens” idea, though, identifying occasionally with horses or cows who sniff amongst the shoots.

…Seriously, this is grass and weeds. But pretty when you look up close.

…Mizuna has long, feathery leaces notched on bot sides. Mild and tangy.

…Mesclun is a combo of baby greens and herbs. It’s all buttery and maybe a little prickly going down.

…Lollo rossa. Lollo? HA would eat Lollo! This is a ruffled, mild green. Love the name!

…Mache (pronounced MAHsh) is lamb’s lettuce. Is this like the fuzzy lamb’s ear HA’s kid used to love to touch?

…Belgian endive—red and bitter.

…Green oak leaf is mild and sweet and looks like a you know what.


…Tat soi is Chinese cabbage…mild with a peppery edge.

…Frisee, member of the chicory family, mildly bitter.

…Arugula is now pretty well known, also known as rocket—peppery.

…Radicchio…also bitter.

…See a theme—bitter, peppery. This is the phytochemicals—the good stuff---that helps prevent free radical damage.

…Enough olive oil and bleu cheese can offset it.

..Just don’t throw in any poison ivy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Finding a balance

…It’s sort of embarrassing, but HA cannot stand up straight and not fall over occasionally due to her dopey, boring, ¾-blind right eye.

..It’s kind of like a dry drunk…hmmm, that door looks pretty far over there across the parking lot, this should be interesting.

…The Harvard Medical School letter recently talked about balance. Boy, you don’t think about it until you don’t have it!

…The first part of balance, the story says, is visual. The eyes help adjust balance. Try seeing if you can stand on one leg for 30 seconds with your eyes closed. Welcome to HA’s world.

…The second system that can affect balance is called the vestibular—inner ear. Receptors in these canals gauge the position of the head and shoot off messages to tbe brain. Good, fine, doing OK, ooops.

…Proprioception refers to receptors of this name in the skin, joints, ligaments, tendons. and muscles (for example, the bottoms of the feet) indicating positioning of the body.

…The brain takes all this in—it’s the central processor. Also, your muscles need to be strong to react to these different messages.

…So, the answer is to exercise these systems. Nothing fancy. Stand on one leg for 30 seconds while brush your teeth or stand in line.

…Stand on an old foam pillow on the floor for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

…Do the pillow deal on tiptoe.

…Have someone toss you a Frisbee while you balance on one leg.

…Ask about wobble boards at the gym.

….Wobble boards—HA doesn’t like the sound of that. But she might try the tooth brushing thing.

…For now, shopping carts make a darn fine walker for in the store.

…Everyone says this will pass and that many fabulous ballerinas had one eye.

…Yeah, sure.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Are you a candidate for a Face Bra?

…HA was put in mind of The Mummy, but she read on.

…The wattles, the double chins…Funny story, might not be our fat, but our water retention.

…And our fat.

…Vicki Southard invented The Face Bra, a special binding that squeezes out the water, apparently.

…First you slap on some special minerals, then strap yourself up.

…This can be helpful, if you tend to retain water, lost a lot of weight, have a family tendency toward double chins, and are aging.

…OK…that’s everyone!

…Other tips, lose weight (of course), exercise your face, eat healthy fresh foods, use Omega3/Omega 6 oil…and HA’s favorites:

…Use makeup to conceal your neck or wear a scarf.

…And of course, wear your Face Bra 45 minutes 2-3 times a week.
…Check out the website. The befores and afters are pretty close to each other—which ironically, means to HA that they are truthful.

Monday, March 26, 2007

High tech fitness tests--are they for you?

...Jeannine Stein, writing in the LA Times, talks about trying to pinpoint your aerobic fat-burning heart rate zone and other exotica.

…HA comes from a family of exercisers, who are now in the joint replacement phase.

…Anyway, by doing these tests, some fitness fanatics find they can notch their workouts down a little, or interval train, and get better results.

…It’s an individual thing.

…One test measures where a person reaches the anaerobic threshold—the point at which the body stops using fat and oxygen for fuel and starts using carbs. When you are working out in this zone, you don’t burn fat, though you may be out of breath.

…Gyms—not medical labs—now offer such tests, though at a price that can go north of $100.

…Some docs pooh-pooh all this—it may be more accurate, but it doesn’t help much, they say.

…Yet, the gym owners and some doctors say people are just flailing away with no knowledge or goals.

….They claim a rule of thumb will work almost as well. If you aren’t breathing hard or sweating, you may not be exercising to an aerobic level.

…Another doctor said, if your pants are getting tighter despite your workouts, you may be eating a little more.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Do docs take own advice?

…A colleague of HA’s, Peter Wehrwein and an associate of his, Anthony L.Kamaroff, MD, wrote a piece in Newsweek (Mar 26) about whether doctors really eat healthy food and exercise.

…HA has know two very large doctors in her life—and truly loved them for that!

…But she digresses.

…Apparently, the Harvard Health Letter surveyed Harvard faculty members about their health habits.

…They admit the results might have skewed “toward the virtuous.”

…46% said they exercised 3-5 times a week.

…12% worked out more than 6 times!

…Walking (35%) and jogging (24%) were the favored forms of exercise.

…When the researchers interviewed the docs, some said they hated treadmills and boring exercise. The female docs said family life crowded out exercise time.

….One doc who often published on physical activity didn’t do much (she came up in Malaysia where it’s steamy hot) until people started asking about her own routine. Now she runs 20 miles a week and goes to the gym.

…Another one would rather read a book, but does take spinning class. It has not turned her svelte, she says, so she doesn’t tell her patients that it will.

…Another likes having a personal trainer—though she said she knew that sounded “bratty.”

…Yet another, a man, rock climbs and has a gym’s worth of equipment at home.

…Tai chi—that was one doctor’s secret. She has practiced it for 10 years.

…Finally, an orthopedic surgeon says after operating all day, he is bushed and wants to go to bed. But, he also has a boat and often goes on strenuous fishing weekends, pouring a slug of wasabi on fresh fish and grabbing a healthy snack right on the deck of his boat.

…HA liked that guy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fiber--friend or foe?

…TMI ALERT! HA sometimes doubles over and hates the idea of fiber.

…Amusingly, her daughter deadpans: “Wish you had felt that way when you started up about peas and brussels sprouts while I was a kid.”

…Yeah, kids are droll little beggars.

…Fiber is the holy grail of the wild hickory nut eaters and Kashi-huggers. Can it be overdone, though?

…HA’s innards are not a steel drainpipe. She has pouches, sore places, like many people who have been cranking stuff through there for decades.

…She has seen commercials for some fiber powder you can put in spaghetti sauce—has anyone tried that?

…Some people eat those fiber bars. HA tried some called Fiber One Chewy Bars, sent by the manufacturer. They were Rice Krispie-Treatish in nature, with chocolate, which was a nice diversion. Instead of some token fiber surrounded by sugar, they contain 15 of the 25 grams of fiber you need each day! And only 140 cals.

…On the website,, they have more tips for eating as much indigestible stuff as possible: Look for bran or whole grain on the label, eat fruit and veggie skins, pack in the beans, toss nuts on your salads, eat brown rice, drink a lot of water (to process the other items).

…Of course, you may also know what the cure is for twisting, sore tummies—more fiber!

…Is this a conspiracy?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wah, insurance, red tape, arg!

…Jody Snyder, writing in the Arizona Republic (Mar 4, 2007), talks about companies cropping up that will help you handle weird, codey, illogical reams of insurance documentation and get the treatments you need.

…Apparently, throwing your Estimate of Benefit statements in a drawer is not enough to do this effectively.

…Darn, HA was so sure!

…One of these firms is called Health Advocate, which helps 15 Arizona companies’ employees face their medical bills and figure out deductibles and so on.

…The company estimates that this service has increased productivity by relieving employees of the time and worry of dealing with stacks of medical bills rife with double billings, errors (what colonoscopy, I would have remembered that!), fine print, etc.

…Even more crucially, employees can call Health Advocate and get help getting into specialists.

…Private individuals also can engage similar companies.

…HA recently wrote a story about families who have their entire medical histories on memory sticks they carry with them.

…Yes, yes, our planet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Protect your biggest organ even in the cold

….Brrrr, rumor has it that some parts of the country are still enjoying the wintry mix (sleet, snow, and hot toddies).

…Here, in AZ, perversely, March has been in the 90s. Naturally, HA’s air conditioner is low on coolant and she has been sweltering.

…But all of us must be putting on the sunblock! Don’t get cocky.

…Those killer rays can even sneak between the clouds.

…Skiing? You’re even closer to Mr Sol—more block!

…Be sure sunglasses and ski goggles are 100% in the UV dept.

…If you are getting wet, apply waterproof sunscreen.

…No tanning salon before the beach (are you nuts?).

…Lay low from 10 to 4.

…And keep the babies covered or slathered.

…Next, HA will be telling you to drink water. She’s baaack!
...Oh, and incidentally, if you don't want to spring for those spendy SPF face daycreams, HA got some baby sunblock with a nice moisturizing feel that works fine under makeup. Saved $15! So far, no white heads or other horrors have cropped up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Reverse Diet--dine like a pauper?

…When HA was just a chubby little dickens, her mother got interested in Adele Davis, a nutritionist who said to eat heartily in the AM, then slow down.

…“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dine like a pauper,” was her motto.

…Now in the March 9th Life Magazine (er, pamphlet, what happened to Life?), Joan Chen talks about The Reverse Diet.

…As Judge Judy often remarks: “What goes around comes around.”

…Tricia Cunningham, who lost 170 pounds eating dinner in the morning, has recorded the secrets in a book, titled The Reverse Diet.

…But do breakfast, lunch and dinner have higher meanings than just refueling stops? Life asked some nuritionists…

…Cunningham came on this system, she says, when she had a terrible panic attack, stopped eating for 3 days, and then got hungry and ate her kids’ leftover dinner.

…The weight slid off, apparently. (HA has not eaten for days at a time and never noticed any sliding, she is just sayin’).

…The docs said a calorie eaten in the morning is more likely to be burned off than stored (some studies show otherwise).

…What if some people aren’t ready for a steak in the morning? One panelist said maybe breakfast would eventually be eliminated. Huh?

…That would help dieting.

…Also time can be a factor—who wants to cook a big dinner in the morning? (Cunningham cooks the Sunday before for the week.)

…What about people who get hungry at night? They wouldn’t, according to the panel, if they were getting enough sleep.

…Doesn’t she want more than oatmeal at night? Oh, Cunningham said, you can be flexible—yogurt, a small order of pasta, something small.

…Sounds like portion control to HA—never a bad idea.

…Cunningham also said there were fewer dishes to wash in the evening with her system.

…Oh, OK…

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stump the doc

…Wait for it, wait for it…the Feds want you to ask the doctor more questions.

…Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has teamed with the Advertising Council to put out ads encouraging adults to ask more questions at the doctor’s office.

…Medical mistakes in hospitals account for as many as 120 deaths per day. HA has noticed many times that the patient (namely her) has no idea what they are running into the veins. Pretty much have to take it on faith.

…You can ask what you are getting (if you are with it enough), but they look at you like you have two heads.

…120 deaths a day is more than car wrecks, breast cancer, or AIDS. That is a lot of oopsies.

…The campaign is tagged, “Questions Are the Answer: Get More Involved with Your Health Care.”

…You can get some tips on what to ask from

…There is a Question Builder on there that allows you to make up a list of good questions.

…Not to be a crab or exhibit her well-known negative attitude, but HA can think of some reasons people don’t ask questions, or as many as they could or should.

…The doc is on the way out the door from the first minute of the encounter. Each visit is probably slotted for less than 15 minutes.

…There is a sign posted saying: “You can only ask one question.” (Seriously—this was at her mother’s doctor’s office.)

…Doc’s answer is a cloud of jargon. Unless you have a tape recorder and a medical dictionary at home, you might not get the whole drift.

…They also dislike being pinned down to prognoses—this is as much art as science, after all.

…Many doctors have preferred therapies. I think they estimate that a doctor has a preferred list of a couple of dozen drugs he or she uses…Asking about the latest whizzbang on TV may not meet with hosannas.

….Therapies also vary by region of the country.

…The patient may not want to ask if they think the answer will be bad.

…Health literacy authorities wish doctors would be more leading…asking patients, ”What are you taking away from what we have discussed today?”

…HA guesses this question thing goes both ways.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Kids and pets, watch out!

…HA’s sister’s beloved cat had some sort of mysterious adventure that took him away from home 24 hours and left him frazzled and lethargic. Had he been poisoned or eaten something bad?

…He is a little lacking in the English-speaking department, so sis may never know.

…Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety, has the Top Ten Household Items That Can Kill.

…Latex balloons. Children can suffocate and often kids over 3 are the victims. HA has also see dad balloons removed from dogs on Animal Planet. (She hates the creepy way half-dead balloons drift into you at knee level, anyway.)

…Stuffed toys. Seams can separate and plastic pellets be released. Also: Watch those sharp little stick-in eyes—cats like to chase those.

…Garage door. If you have an automatic, install an electric eye to reverse it if the beam is broken.

…Disc batteries. Kids think these are candy and they can leak chemicals into the stomach.

…Window treatments with hanging cords. If manufactured before 2002, these can strangle energetic little ones who get entangled. To make yours safer, go to

…Antifreeze. This stuff tastes sweet. Dogs even rip into cans to get to it. Some comes with bitterness added. That helps some. Better to put on a high shelf or not have it at all.

…Heavy furniture or appliances. As many as 10,000 people are treated in ERs each year because furniture tipped over on them! Anchor to the wall, people, even if it looks skanky.

…Oleander. This plant is easy to grow, but it is toxic. A single leaf or berry can kill. Even putting it in the house in water can result in poisonous water.

…Storage chests. Kids and pets crawl in these. Get chests with lift-off lids or ventilation holes.

…Recalled ptroducts. Check out regularly.

…Who needs the finger in the socket, when you have all this? HA once caught her daughter going toward an outlet she had pried open—holding a key!

…It’s a miracle anyone even gets old.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sleep apnea not limited to men

…Today is Sleep Apnea Day.

…Four percent of adult men and 2% of adult women (more commonly after menopause), as well as 1-3% of children between 2 and 19, suffer from irregular breathing during sleep, sometimes even pausing without breathing for an unhealthy length of time.

…This results in that tired, sleepy feeling all day, and over time, can be linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

…In children, interrupted sleep can result in ADD.

…Men who are chronically exhausted are less pleasant and effective husbands and dads. Women trying to sleep next to these men can also be impaired by the partner’s problem or have it themselves.

…For more info, you can go to and take the Snore Score.

…If you have one or more of the six symptoms, you may be at risk.

…If you do have it, you may find out from spending the night in a sleep lab and then get a CPAP machine to keep your airway open at night.

…HA knows two people who love their CPAP! Mileage may vary.

…Not to be too creepy, but sometimes sleep apnea can degrade your health and even kill. So snoring is more than an irritation.

…That’s why it gets its own “Day.”

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Be berry healthy

…Everyone who has not been hanging in Waziristan knows that blueberries are crammed with antioxidants and thus are (theoretically) good for you and will keep your pesky free radicals from bashing up your healthy cells.

…Certain dark berries are 200% more effective than vits C and E in assisting the immune system, Dr Cass Ingram (“The Wild Berry Cure”) said on Meg Jordan’s Global Medicine Hunter radio program.

…Those cave folk and even more recent people snacking off the bush were on the right track.

…Berries should be eaten on an empty stomach or along with a meal with protein and fat.

…Cranberries clean out the urinary tract, according to Ingram.

…Blackberries clean out the digestive tract and blood (and some say, can destroy cancer cells).

…Blueberries improve the function of the retina. They also improve skin tone, prevent brain cell degeneration, strengthen the pancreas and improve BP control.

…Raspberries are for the female reproductive tract.

…Black currants strengthen joints, rebuild the immune system, and balance the sex glands (whatever that means).

…Chokecherries—good for the intestinal tract, stomach, and skin.

…Serviceberries fight cancerous degeneration.

…Black raspberries attack and detroy cancerous and precancerous tissue.

…Rose hips are good for the joints.

…Strawberries clean the blood, boost red call count, fight viral infections and improve the beauty of the skin.

…Wow. Berries are slammin’! And they even taste good!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Feet below par?

…If your golf swing leaves something to be desired, look down—the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons says three areas of you feet might be ruining your game.

…Yes, your feet.

…First, if you have arthritis in the joint of your big toe, this could be throwing off your follow-through.

…Heel pain can also screw you up. Typically this comes from an inflammation of the band of tissue that extends from your heel to the ball of your foot. It can be like a knife jab! With this thing jabbing, it can make it difficult to maintain a solid stance. See also:

…Neuromas are the third possible problem. These are nerves that become thickened, enlarged or painful from being compressed or irritated. If you have a neuroma in the ball of your foot, it can get ya when you shift from one foot to the other.

…Ankle arthritis or instability can affect weight shift. Achilles tendonitis in the past—same.

…Ill-fitting golf shoes. No way—fix that problem!

…Ask your doctor. Treatments for all these are usually simple like shoe inserts, stretching exercises, new shoes, medications, physical therapy, or steroid injections. You probably are not looking at surgery.

…Although a bad golf swing may be normal and unfixable, foot pain is not.
For more info, go to You may even meet your doc on the course.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Whole Foods--going suit?

…For the most part, HA cannot afford to be too “green,” but she always considered the sort of overpriced hippie-dippy Whole Foods to be a lookie-loo paradise, a sort of food museum

…Wow, is that an actual fruit? Lamb chops for $9 a pound?

…Marian Burros, writing in the NYT on Feb 28, 2007, wonders if WF is straying from its original intentions.

…The chain used to be small, but now is 193 stores (including one coming near HA’s Mom’s).

…These stores are getting sprawly and big!

…But the bloggers are swarming…WF is not longer interested in protecting the environment, they say. The stock is dropping.

…Many shoppers want to move closer to local farmers. Apparently WF has been inept in negotiating with farmers of organic livestock, what they call “the protein sector.”

…Alert shoppers also caught the chain putting dye on farmed salmon to make it look like wild salmon (which costs a lot more).

…If HA may speak? She still likes the cosmetic section with the creamies and scented treats.

…Still, is that cold cream made in a cottage or factory?

…Seriously, are we asking too much?

…No one wants to be calculatedly played, but not every store is within 25 miles of organic farms.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Twinkies, ruined

…Newsweek (March 5, 2007) deconstructs a book called Twinkie, Deconstructed, which in turn really took the little yellow snack cake down to the short ones.

…Ettlinger followed each ingredient to its source, at one point dropping into a pitch black mineshaft to see where trona, a raw ingredient of baking soda, was wrenched from the filth.


…There are 39 ingredients in a Twinkie, five or six in a real cake. Finding out what the stuff acually was was difficult and Hostess declined to assist (go figure).

…Many of these ingredients weren’t, you know…actually food.

…To stay on a shelf, Twinkies can’t spoil. That means no cream in the cream filling. Also batter has to flow through tubes—meaning more weirdness must be added.

…The thickener they use is also used as glue on postage stamps and envelopes.

…Oh, and vanillin is made from petrochemicals. Real vanilla comes from orchids that are hand-pollinated.

…When the pollinators stop for lunch, guess what is on the menu for dessert.

…HA has wondered many times if all this stuff we eat is causing more cancer and other diseases. Yet, even veggies grow in chemical or depleted soil and water is recycled through centuries of repeated use.

…Best not to think about it.

…And have a Twinkie. Two per pack! HA always thought that was genius.