August 2009

Ticks as a Possible Cancer Cure?

A molecular biologist,

Dr. Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, at the Instituto Butantan in Sao Paulo, is directing a group of colleagues who are exploring the possibility that a protein found in tick saliva, and identified as Factor X active, may be able to selectively destroy cancer cells.

Researchers were studying the anti-coagulent properties of tick saliva—when a tick bites a host, human or otherwise, their saliva helps stop the blood from clotting and thus allows the tick to continue feeding. Because a similar protein inhibits cell growth, researchers wondered if the Factor X active might behave in a similar fashion.

First the researchers had to collect enough tick saliva—no mean feat in itself, since it involved positioning gorged ticks over minute straws to collect the salivia, then creating a way to convince yeast cultures to reproduce the protein.

Join the Kick in the Tush Club!

Are you stuck in a weight rut? Have you been trying to lose weight but find it so difficult, even painful, that you just feel like you’re moving two steps back for every step forward you take?

Join the club. No, really—join the Kick in the Tush Club!

Whether you are familiar with her bestselling book, Our Lady of Weight Loss: Miraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal (an Oprah’s summer reading pick) or not, you should definitely check out Janice Taylor’s Kick in the Tush Club. Her weekly newsletter and website can help give you the encouragement and tips you need to succeed on your journey to a body you love.

Be Kind to Your Spine

If you’ve ever suffered from back pain, you have probably wished the same thing many people wish: “I wish I had taken better care of my back!” Back pain can be excruciating, and a good way to ward it off is to take good care of your spine. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Improve your posture. Try straightening out your spine by elongating your neck, back and head to where they are in a straight line as much as possible.

Do some exercises specifically for runners. If your running has taken a toll on your back, you can try the lower back elongator and the spine roll to help the muscles in your back recover from long training episodes.

Fun Ways to Burn Calories

While many people enjoy exercise, many of us absolutely hate it. Yeah, we aim for twenty minutes a day just so our butts won’t jiggle or to make sure we’ll keep fitting into the pants we just bought—but it’s definitely on the list of chores rather than treats.

Many of us are constantly on the lookout for some form of exercise that’s going to get our blood pumping and our heart happy without making us feel like we’re taking a mini-break in Hell. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do and enjoy that actually burn calories.

Try hip-hop dancing. Doing an unfamiliar dance like hip-hop, ballet, or salsa will get your body moving and burning calories while you have some fun.

Go for the Herbs

Herbs, Not Salt Day is coming up on August 29, so why not swap your normal table salt with a few savory, delicious herbs for the day?

While a bit of salt won’t kill you, too much can do some damage. Most Americans eat double the amount of salt our bodies need each day. This can do a number of things on your body. From high blood pressure and hypertension to edema (water retention and bloating), heart disease to kidney stones, there are a lot of problems you can avoid by limiting your salt intake. Plus, if you are eating a lot of salt, you need to up your potassium intake, too, so your body can deal with so much sodium coming in.

It doesn’t matter if you use table salt, sea salt, or any other kind—you only need three grams, or about one rounded teaspoon, every day. Between processed foods, packaged foods and what we add as we cook, most of us have much more than we need.

The Purification Plan

There’s been a lot of talk about detoxification, cleaning out your body naturally, and purification—and whether or not these things are vitally necessary, or even helpful, for your body. In his The Purification Plan: Pure Vitality, Pure Resilience, Pure Health, Peter Bennet, N.D., follows his 7-Day Detox Miracle up with detox plans for just about any person. He includes rationale behind each plan, tips and plans for general purification, and specialized plans catered to specific ailments or needs.

Beet Juice Boosts Stamina

A team of researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered that consuming beet juice appears to reduce the amount of oxygen required during strenuous exercise.

The researchers believe their results are tied to the naturally high levels of nitrate in beets. The researchers, using the double blind protocol, tested the effects of beet juice and a placebo by having eight men between the ages of 19-38 consume either 500ml per day of organic beet juice or the placebo, for six consecutive days. The men were then asked to perform a series of tests including riding an exercise bike, at a fairly rigorous level. Those who had consumed the beet juice were able to exercise up to 16% longer than those who consumed the black currant juice placebo.

Make the Call for National Health Care

There has been a lot of opposition facing Obama’s single-payer health plan. Everyone from Sarah Palin to businesspeople to even Whole Foods is protesting it—and making outlandish claims like universal coverage will start a wave of human euthanasia and will even turn our healthcare gay!

I suppose it’s not surprising—people always fear what they don’t know. I think that if naysayers would step outside their own experiences and notice that the rest of the developed world actually considers healthcare a right—and provides it for their own citizens—that it really does make sense, and it does yield surprising benefits for everyone.

Enjoy the Viagra Vegetable, AKA the Watermelon!

As sweetly delicious as a watermelon is, we’d love to call it a fruit. In fact, I’ve always considered it to be a fruit—and so has anyone I’ve ever talked about watermelon with! That’s why I found it so surprising that the watermelon is actually a member of the Cucurbitaceae, or cucumber family, making it a vegetable.  It’s also related to pumpkin and squash.

Natural Ways to Nix Mosquitoes

Some people are naturally lucky. They can go all summer without getting a single mosquito bite. No matter where they go—kayaking, hiking, swimming—it seems like they’ve got invisible mosquito netting just keeping them in a buzz-free bubble everywhere.

Then there are the rest of us. You know who you are. You step outside to get the mail and you come back in with seven wallops the size of plums. While everyone is singing along on the hayride you keep time by slapping yourself in perfect rhythm, wiping the guts of many a pest on your jeans. And yes, you’re wearing jeans while everyone else is in shorts because you think it will help—but of course, it never does.

I feel for you. I do, because I’m in the same boat.

Fresh Neurons Delivered Daily

That's right folks! Step right up and get your neurons right here! Delivered fresh and delivered daily to your brain, whether you knew it or not! Use it or lose it, people! Save the whales or save those neurons? Well, how about both? Give the old noodle upstairs a regular workout or those new neurons are toast! Learning ain't just for children, folks! We adults have the capability to keep on keeping on getting a whole heck of a lot smarter, should we choose. Adults, get your brainy groove on!

Scientists in the early 1990's rocked the neuro-biology world by discovering that the adult brain is capable of producing new neurons, disproving the previous believe that only young brains were capable of doing so and that neurons were lost with age. Neuroscientists like Tracey J. Shors of Rutgers University continues her studies of neurogenesis, sharing her findings in a recent article in Scientific American, March 2009.