In a trans.

June 18, 2015

The posture guru.

Over a period of ten years, Esther Gokale, an acupuncturist in Palo Alto, traveled around the world studying cultures with low rates of back pain to learn about how they live. One of the first things the “posture guru” noticed was the shape of their spines. Unlike most Americans who have S-shaped spines, their spines were shaped like the letter J. Much flatter, all the way down the back. Then at the bottom, it curves to stick the buttocks out. Think ancient Greek statues. Or maybe Beyonce?

Why are our spines shaped differently? One theory is that Americans tend to be heavier and less active than the cultures Gokale studied. “I think the sedentary lifestyle promotes a lack of muscle tone and a lack of postural stability because the muscles get weak.”

There is a CVS in this Target.

CVS is the nation’s largest dispenser of prescription drugs and the biggest operator of health care clinics. This week, they announced they will buy Target’s pharmacy and clinic businesses, a deal worth about 1.9 billion dollars. Under the terms, CVS acquires over 1,600 pharmacies from Target in 47 states and operates them under the CVS name. “This transaction will free up our resources we can deploy in support of our key growth priorities,” including wellness, style and baby and children’s products, said their CEO.

In food news.

Lose the trans. This week, the FDA gave the food industry three years to eliminate trans fats from the food supply. Trans fats are a major contributor to heart disease in the U.S. and have already been substantially reduced in food. They are still found in frostings, microwave popcorn, packaged pies, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. But not for long.

Half paycheck. Upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods, sometimes called “Whole Paycheck” because of its high prices, announced that it’s launching a new set of stores with lower prices to appeal to younger, millennial shoppers. The spinoff’s name has not been decided. The company plans to open stores next year.

Seeing double.

According recently released federal data, the prices of a series of common procedures at hospitals have increased by more than 10 percent between 2011 and 2013, more than double the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, the amounts paid by Medicare have stayed flat. The rising list prices mainly affect the uninsured and people who use hospitals outside their insurance network.

Oldies but goodies.

The golden arm. Seventy-eight year old James Harrison, referred to as the “Golden Arm,” has been donating blood regularly since age 18. It is estimated that he has donated enough blood to save two million babies. “Some people say, ‘Oh, you’re a hero,’ ” he says. “But I’m in a safe room, donating blood. They give me a cup of coffee and something to nibble on. And then I just go on my way. … No problem, no hardship.”

26.2 at 92. This month, Hariette Thompson of Charlotte, North Carolina became the oldest woman to complete a marathon. The 92 year-old completed San Diego’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in 7 hours and 24 minutes. “It’s amazing to me that I feel as well as I do. I’m a little stiff but limbering up as the day goes on,” she said the day after the race.

Bitty bites.

Razor anyone? Last month, some reporters in New Mexico swabbed the beards of several local men and took the results for testing. “Several of the beards that were tested contained a lot of normal bacteria, but some were comparable to toilets.”

Metal mouths. Americans like a good smile. Over the past twenty years, “the number of North American teenagers in orthodontic treatment has nearly doubled, so that 80 percent are currently in an orthodontist’s care.”

Flats are nice too. A recent review of available research about footwear found that walking in heels can “alter the natural position of the foot-ankle complex, and thereby produce a chain reaction of effects that travel up the lower limb at least as far as the spine.” Based on their findings, experts advise against running in heels.

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