Nice ink.

January 22, 2015

Temporary tattoo.

A team at the University of California found a way for diabetes patients to monitor their glucose levels using temporary tattoos. They created a “flexible sensor that uses a mild electrical current to measure glucose levels in a person’s body.” No needles required. The new device is painless and costs “just a few cents.”

You may want to sit down for this.

On average, Americans sit for 13 hours each day. The body is not designed to be idle, but many of our jobs require us to sit in front of a computer screen. Long periods of sitting are linked to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Why is sitting so bad? A number of reasons. One is that we burn less calories when we sit. Another is that sitting for a long time leads to metabolic changes in the muscle. Or it may impact the way we respond to insulin.

What can you do? Go for a quick walk at lunch time. Stand up for a few minutes every half hour. Suggest a walking meeting or go to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question you might typically email. They’ll love the interruption, especially if they’re extremely busy.

 16 and (not) pregnant.

For five years, America’s teen birth rate has gone down. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of babies born to teens each year fell by 38 percent. This drop occurred along with “steep declines in the abortion rate,” suggesting that the drop isn’t due to more teenagers terminating pregnancies. It’s simply that fewer girls are getting pregnant.

The thing is: No one really knows why.

Many agree it’s a good thing. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of high school. Most teen mothers do not receive financial support from their child’s father, and almost half live below the poverty line.

Pizza pie.

A recent study found that pizza is the second highest calorie source – second only to desserts like cookies and cakes – in the diets of kids aged 2 to 18. Nutritionists encourage parents to cut back as pizza can be high in calories, especially when its heavy on cheese and fatty meats, like pepperoni.

Tray or pie? I grew up in Scranton PA, where we order our pizza by the “tray.” I’m told that in most places, it’s called a pie.

Vitamin C.

There’s really no evidence that heavy doses of Vitamin C help to fight a cold. A review of nearly 30 studies of people with colds who take the normal daily dose of vitamin C found that it reduced the colds’ length by 8 percent. So if your cold lasts five days, it might be shortened by about 10 hours. For the most part, taking extra Vitamin C doesn’t hurt, but there are some risks associated with mega-doses. Take it easy on the Emergen-C.

Ebola update.

Worldwide. As of January 20, the CDC estimates there are 21,724 cases and 8,641 deaths due to Ebola. The number of new cases is declining in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries worst affected. Finally.

In Mali. On Monday, Mali was declared “Ebola-free” after 42 days without reporting a new case.

In Guinea. Meanwhile, the government in Guinea set a goal to rid the country of Ebola by mid-March. The number of new Ebola cases has fallen in Guinea, where the outbreak began a little more than a year ago. Schools there reopened Monday.

FYI. A map of Mali and Guinea. I needed a reminder.

The flu.

Flu activity in the U.S. remains high. A total of 45 kids died from the flu in the 2014-15 season. The CDC estimates that the vaccine reduces the chance of getting the flu by just 23 percent. Not the best year for the vaccine, but still worth getting.

That sounds familiar.

Precision medicine. President Obama promoted it in his State of the Union on Tuesday. What is it? According to the White House blog: “…an emerging approach to promoting health and treating disease that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles, making it possible to design highly effective, targeted treatments for cancer and other diseases.”

Pass it on.

Use this link to share Healthy Bites with your friends and family.

You look great.

January 9, 2015

 Hold the fries.

It’s New Years Resolution time. There’s a lot of news about diets.

The top-ranked. U.S. News & World Report evaluated 35 diets, giving points for the following: easy to follow, nutritious, safe, effective for weight loss, and protective against diabetes and heart disease. Their number one pick? The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which is not a fad but a sensible and healthy way to lose weight. Weight Watchers and the Mediterranean Diet were also in the top 5.

Veganuary. This is a real thing. The global campaign encourages people to give up meat, eggs, and dairy and become a vegan for the month of January. Note: I tried to be a vegan once and lasted 3.5 days. It’s hard. And cheese is delicious.

The kindness diet. A recent study suggests that hearing accepting messages can improve the chances of dieting success for women who want to lose weight. Women who received supportive feedback in response to their weight concerns were more likely to maintain or lose weight. Those who didn’t or who heard negative responses gained weight.

The cleanse. This term has been applied to a huge range of diets, from those that replace one or two daily meals with smoothies to the more extreme types like the Master Cleanse.To date, there’s no solid science backing any of these cleansing or detox approaches for weight loss or health.”

However. We have good intentions. But, the grocery store bills tell another story. A new study found that Americans buy greater quantities of high-calorie food from January to March than they do at any other time of year. “During the holidays, people bought, on average, 440 more calories per week than their baseline. But after the holidays, that jumped to a whopping 890 extra calories per week.” Unbuckle.

 It’s pretty bad.

The flu continues to spread in the U.S. this season, with 43 states experiencing either high or widespread flu activity.

What can you do? Get the vaccine, it’s not too late. Wash your hands. And if you’re sick, stay home. Here’s a list of binge-worthy shows to help you pass the time.

Flu tracker. Turns out there are plenty of apps that help you track the flu in your neighborhood.

A new rule. New York City is requiring preschoolers to get the vaccination. The rule was passed by Mayor Bloomberg but this is the first flu season during which it applies. New Jersey and Connecticut also require flu vaccines in children between 6 months and 5 years.

 Cassandra C.

Yesterday, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a 17-year-old girl with cancer, identified as Cassandra C., must continue treatment with chemotherapy against her will. Although she is still a minor, she had asked the court to allow her to make her own medical decisions, despite doctors’ recommendations to receive the treatment. Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma four months ago.

Why people die early, by country.

Click here to see a map.

Ebola update.

The Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa. According to the World Health Organization, at least 8,235 people have died and more than 20,700 have become ill since the outbreak began last year. The chart “Ebola trends: death toll rises while U.S. interest wanes” tells the story.

Clinical trial. Scientists have started testing an experimental drug for Ebola, called brincidofovir, in a hospital in Liberia. The drug has previously been used to treat patients with Ebola in the United States, like Thomas Eric Duncan, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, and Dr. Craig Spencer.

Resolve to share.

Use this link to share Healthy Bites with your people.