Thursday, March 31, 2016


If you're already sneezing, there is a reason--the trees are blooming early this year due to the warm days.

Randy Young, MD, director of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, says we have been seeing tons of tree pollen for several weeks now--yes, tons, his word.

And several varieties of blooming trees are overlapping each other's bloom cycle--meaning even more pollen.

And it is relatively dry--so rain is not tamping down the pollen.

Winds are stronger around midday so people with spring allergies should plan outdoor activities for early in the day.

Pollen is the male part of a trees reproductive process--it is designed to blow around until it finds the female component on another tree.

In mid-may, the tree pollen should be tapering, but the grass pollen will be starting up. Grass pollinated last year longer than usual, the scientists say.

Usually mid-summer is a lull--but who knows.

There you go--misery now with scattered misery toward summer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Think before you Thync

Ariana Eunjung Cha writes in the Wash Post, Mar 30, 2016, about a low-voltage electrical device called Thync that some "early adopters" are strapping to various areas of their skulls to "activate their body's natural state of energy or calm."

Hmmm...Did not get a warm fuzzy off this one, even though there is peer-reviewed science behind it, according to the story.

For one thing, this is likened to electroshock and also deep-brain stimulation for Parkinson's. I consider these to be two different cases from a device you can buy on Amazon and zap yourself with.

The companies refuse to get too detailed and claim that the current in them is so weak they are not even medical devices.

So far, the FDA apparently has not gotten into it.

No one knows the long-term consequences of "stimulating" one area of the brain--say on an adjoining area.

Writing in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, some researchers said this may sound benign, but some with risks as great as opening the body for surgery.

"Not playthings," is how one put it.

The founder of Thync, who recently returned to academia at AZ State, said one day this will be commonplace and might cure migraines and other disorders.

One day...not now. So if you want to try Halo or to improve your force, gaming skill or "happiness," thync twice.

Or not--up to you.

But remember this--people worry about the current from cellphones. This is more intense. A brain is a terrible thing to tase, even mildly.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top 10 "health foods"

I see these lists everyday--why am I talking about one? Because I suppose it can't hurt to give people new food ideas that won't kill them. You're welcome.

This puppy comes from Texas A&M Health Science Center:

They call the following foods game-changers, whatever that actually means.

ALMONDS.  Eat a handful every day and the antioxidants can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. I got some in little 100-calorie packs. They do sort of mush up in your teeth.

APPLES. Maybe the doctor won't stay away, but these do contain fiber and can have measurable effectiveness against stroke and aging.

AVOCADOS. The fat in these is a great substitute for other fats.

BEANS. Beans are common around the world as a diet staple. They contain vitamins, minerals, protein, and are well worth downing half a cup a day. Think burritos.

BLUEBERRIES. The blue color contains anthrocyanins that reduce chroic inflammation. (Can also help with erectile dysfunction.)

BROCCOLI. This is a powerhouse--fiber, Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium. Can fight against cancer.

CRANBERRIES. The little red swamp things not only discourage urinary tract infections, they prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth, They can also reduce the risk of bowel disease and cardiovascular problems.

LEAFY GREENS. Spinach, kale, cabbage. They are loaded with vitamins, and other substances that can help prevent cancer.

OILY FISH. I wish they had said salmon, mackerel, sardines--oily fish sounds disgusting. These are full of Omega 3 fatty acids that can reduce the risk of hert disease, lower blood pressure and fight inflammation. Try 3.5 ounces twice a week.

SWEET POTATOES. Anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory. You can even eat the tops as leafy greens.

Feel healthier just reading this?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fattest and thinnest cities

I have no idea what the point is--

--To irritate or endear to chambers of commerce?
--To make thin people in fat cities feel good about themselves, and the converse?
--To add to the "national conversation" on fat?
--To pinpoint cities with the best and worst restaurants?
--Just because no good stats should go to waste?

At any rate, here they are:

FATTEST: Memphis, Shreveport, Indianapolis, Jackson (MS), New Orleans, Chattanooga, Mobile, San Antonio, Greenville (SC), Little Rock.

THINNEST: Tucson, Denver, Colorado Springs, San Francisco, Boston, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Boise, Reno, Honolulu.

Memphis has five times as many obese adults as San Francisco.

Memphis also has the highest percentage of physically inactive adults.

Canton-Massillon (OH) has the highest percentage of diabetic adults.

Just as an aside, Memphis also has terrific barbeque.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Are you in the 3%?

Julie Beck, Govt Executive Magazine, Mar 23, 2016, says despite all the health blather, Americans care still unhealthy.

--More than half of what we eat is ultra-processed

--The average American man is just under the medical definition of obese

--In a 2013 ranking of the health of the affluent countries--the US came in last


A new study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, said a "healthy lifestyle" meant:

--Moderate or vigorous exercise for at least 2.5 hrs minutes a week...

--A diet score of more than 40% on the Healthy Eating Index (beats me)

--A body fat percentage under 20%  for men, 30% for women.

The researchers looked at 4,745 people in the 2003-6 National Health and Nutrition Survey. Diet was scored from 24-hr diaries.

--71.5% were nonsmokers

--46.5% got enough exercise

--37.8% had a healthy diet

--But only 9.6% had a normal body fat percentage (normal being debatable)

Just 2.7% met all four criteria.

Now I have a quibble with this article--I think the favorables are pretty high--the percentages...

I don't think you can conclude, as this writer did, that only 3% of people have a healthy lifestyle.

That's spin. For one thing, the study they referenced was 10 years old.

Yes, as a "people" we tend to be stressed, overweight and sedentary as we scratch out an existence. But many, many people are trying to do better.

Kale growers are flourishing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Do not fry the tot

Not as tough as he looks.
I know these babies don't come with an Owner's Manual, so I am noting that babies sunburn and get heatstroke just like adults do.

In fact, babies have thinner skin even than older children and thus burn more easily.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, nearly one-fourth of babies get a sunburn in their first year.

By age 2, half have been burned or gotten a tan.

It's not enough to put an umbrella in the sand and lay the baby to sleep under it.

All it takes to roast a baby if 15 mins of exposure--and the symptoms may not even show until 6-12 hours later.

--Red, warm or itchy skin
--Or widespread burning
--Blistered skin
--Painful skin
--Fever or chills
--Swollen face\

According to dermatologist Kaleroy Papantoniou, MD, you should not take the baby in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm--or severely limit time during that period.

You should put a hat on the infant or toddler--and 99% UV protection sunglasses (eyes get burned, too).

Dress the child in light-colored, light-weight clothing covering both arms and legs. You can even get UV-proof duds that go in the pool.

Lube the kid up with UV-A and UV-B lotion--SPF 15 or higher.

Put on the sunscreen 30 mins before going outside--it needs time to soak in.

Reapply the lotion at least every two hours--or if the baby spends time in the pool or is sweating.

Sometimes people get so obsessed with the older kids, the toys, the picnic, the car ride, they forget the baby. That skin won't protect itself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The mystery taste--umami

Tongue surface--in case you're
On the site First We Feast, Maya Saxena explores "the fifth flavor"--umami.

The other four, of course, are sweet, sour, salty, and bitter.

Why is umami so elusive, so mysterious? Saxena says it's because you can't just add it like you can sugar, salt, vinegar, etc.

Umami is in MSG, which can be added--but it has fallen in disfavor.

Also people cannot describe this taste. The Japanese, in a taste test in one study, nailed it by name--but many of their staple ingredients--dashi, seaweed, bonito flakes--have a pure umami flavor.

"Deep dark meaty intensity"--The New Yorker.

"Yummy in a non-sweet, sour, bitter, or salty way"--NPR.

Around the turn of the 20th century, legendary chef Auguste Escoffier found that boiling bones in his veal stock gave it an intense flavor not like the others.

Others found this "taste" in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese, and meat.

Eventually they discovered that glutamic acid, when cooked, turns into L-glutamate, an amino acid we can taste.


I would say it provides "depth of flavor" as they say on the cooking shows. Sometimes they also say, "There is a lot of flavor going on there."

Maybe that means the fifth taste is in there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

I am in find-a-doc hell again

Not me and not why my hair is leaving.
When I hear that old chestnut that America has the finest health care in the world, I just shake my head sadly.

I am in a Medicare HMO Advantage plan from a major provider--Blue Cross Blue Shield. I have no car, must pay for cabs. The copay for specialists is $30. So as with everything, I must economize.

I need to consult a dermatologist--some funky spots on my skin, some sizable cysts, and above all, my hair has decided to fall out...I have lost a fourth of it.

I went to the book for my plan--only two dermatology practices nearby. Both had 1-3 (out of 5) stars on Yelp and awful comments. Comments ran from "wish I could give no stars" to "worst I ever went to."

Finally I found one that was decent but it was far--I would have to rent a car. Spendy!

A second that was marred only by comments about her long wait times sounded bearable...but after two long phone tree waits, I learned although her office said she took my plan, she really did not.

The primary's office was no help--they said to call my plan. My plan said to ask them.

Classic turfing situation...

So not go? Give up? Hair grows back, right... And those spots...well, hope for the best?

Incidentally, a new national poll done by CS Mott Children's Hospital concerning mostly children's medical providers shows that 30% of parents use rating sites but are very worried about those ratings being fake. I guess this means they think the good ratings would be fake--or do docs talk smack about each other on those sites?

This is all very maddening and I would like not to end up looking like a plucked chicken.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Breakfast time!

That peanut butter--protein a good
Supposedly breakfast revs up the metabolism, prevents overeating at lunch and dinner, and walks the dog. Who knows for sure. People eat it--or don't.

Personally, I have always had breakfast. Maybe a piece of toast and tea--but something. Others I know have leftover pizza, eggs everyday--it varies. We also will eat a frozen pancake or two over here.

In the March issue of Food Technology, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, Carolyn Schierhorn writes about current trends in breaking the overnight "fast."

--Breakfast products constitute the three fastest-growing categories at the supermarket. These are shelf-stable items (cereal), frozen egg substitutes, and eggs.

--Breakfast is the fastest-growing restaurant meal (offering it all day is saving McDonalds' er...bacon).

--Twenty-eight percent of consumers at breakfast away from home--up 11% from 10 yrs ago.

--Sixty-three percent of people might grab something from home and eat on the go (say in the car). Forty-five percent would go through a drive-through. Thirty-one percent stop at a convenience store or gas station.

--Eighty percent of people eat frozen breakfast foods. A fourth eat these as a snack--another 25% eat them on the go.

--Ninety-three percent eat cold cereal!

If time is limited, 21% of Americans will skip breakfast.

I guess the rest are hardcore--they want their EGGO!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Is this for real?

Quick! Cherry or strawberry?
Even though I also do a "creativity" site-- -- I sometimes think a lot of "innovations" are solutions looking for problems.

I saw a pie cutter thingie on the Food Network Show THE KITCHEN that you pressed into the pie and it cut 8 pieces. If you can't cut a pie, you can't have any!

But I digress.

Today's questionable device is a necklace you wear that can discriminate between the chewing sounds of various foods and thus monitors your caloric intake.

First a scientist, at the University of Buffalo had to create a library cataloging the unique chewing sounds.

I am serious.

They took 12 subjects, men and women, 13 to 49, who got water and six types of food--apples, carrots, potato chips, cookies, peanuts and walnuts. The necklace called AutoDietary made the right call 85% of the time.

Then this was married to a "choker" necklace that will what...listen to your neck?..and tell you how many cals you are eating on a readout.

They claim this will help diabetics, fat people, people with bowel disorders, and others.

I don't mean to be so snarky--but isn't there an easier way? I gather this researcher got a grant or funding--but the last time I looked we had bigger health problems than deciding whether a person is chewing a carrot or an apple.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Germ sleuths work to head off foodborne illness

Everyone hears about Chipotle and other high-profile food poisoning cases, but you never hear about the 276,000 cases headed off by PulseNet, a 20-yr-old network coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The averted illnesses save the country $507 million a year in medical bills and lost productivity. PulseNet itself costs $7.3 million.

PulseNet has also created a climate encouraging better business practices. Companies now self-police more.

PulseNet's technique is to use DNA  to link illnesses that may have a shared cause but pop up in different places--say from tainted lettuce. This can lead to timely recalls and local action.

Each year, it identifies 1,750 clusters of illness, 250 of which span multiple states.

Targeted for the most part are Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli.

I thought the $507 million (with an M) sounded low. The researchers say it's hard to say how many illnesses are prevented because of better business practices.

Their calculations probably underestimate the value of PulseNet, they added.

I had food poisoning several times--and ANYTHING they can do to prevent it is good. You may not die--but you might want to.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Listen up, seniors--young people fall, too

I have been in the hospital and had a FALLING RISK bracelet slapped on my wrist. I guess I am, though--I have only fallen at home once, but with my lack of vision on one side and sore knees, I can be wobbly.

Still, according to researchers at Perdue, in a four-month study of  94 undergrads (Human Movement Science),  half fell in that four months. The fall rate is lower for seniors (one in three in a year)--probably because older people are more cautious, knowing falls can end in a decline and death.

The students averaged one slip or tripping moment a week, recovering their balance most times. Twenty-one fell more than once in the four months.

Walking on two legs, the researchers noted, is challenging and can be mechanically unstable.


Of course, the youngsters did not fall because of age-related changes in balance, but the scientists did look at substance abuse,  which accounted for 9% of the tumbles.

Talking to someone while walking is also a hazard, as is texting while walking (although this usually involves walking into something, not falling).

Walking and talking should be automatic, but it is demanding, requiring language formulation, speech generation, terrain awareness and navigation, and balance.

What about chewing gum...?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Is retirement good for you or the beginning of the end?

House on the water, probably a boat,
sure they sleep 11 mins more.
There are two sides to this--either leaving the routine of work and hanging out at home leads to a loss of interest and vitality or--as a study done at the University of Sydney recently indicated--retirement can mean people are more active, sit less and sleep better.

The researchers looked at 25,000 Australians (J of Preventative Med) and found retirement was associated with positive life changes.

Their subjects:

--Increased physical activity by 93 mins a week
--Decreased sedentary time by 67 mins a day
--Increased sleep by 11 mins a day
--50% of female smokers quit

On the "eh" side, they found no association between retirement and alcohol use or fruit and veggie eating.

The biggest changes came from people retiring from full-time work...the commuting took a lot of time from their day.

Some people retire because they have physical ailments--I imagine that would throw the curve off a little.

Also retirement can cause money woes--I am at a loss to see how they got 11 minutes more sleep with that going on.

Don't you think this depends on the person? Some people will zip around with classes, lunches, and projects. Others will watch more TV and miss their work friends.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Binge drinking--dangerous fun

Didn't you go to college to get
I went to college--the first year to a notorious party school. I used to drink quite a bit in my younger days (by the way, you can't keep it up as you age). But I don't recall too much binge drinking--except in the "Greek" environs--and I never joined a sorority.

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as four drinks in two hours for women and five drinks in two hours for men.

More than a third of college students these days engage in this at least once a month.

Did you know a beer and shot contain the same amount of alcohol--it's just absorbed somewhat differently?

Some alcohol, a depressant, tamps down inhibitions and sad feelings, but too much of a good thing can kill you.

Signs of impairment are: Slurring, unsteadiness, poor judgment (such as feeling OK to drive).

Signs of actual poisoning are:

Slow breathing
Irregular breathing

BAC is blood alcohol content. Even small increases in BAC in some people can lead to car crashes, susceptibility to unsafe sexual situations or violence, and pregnancy.

Even higher BAC can cause amnesia or blackouts. It can lower bodily functions--such as the gag reflex and you can choke on your own vomit and die.


Some tips to avoid this:

Alternate drinks with water.
Eat a full meal before going out.
Say no to the beer bong and Jell-O shots.
Of course, do not mix alcohol with other drugs.
Use a designated driver or Uber.
Stick with your group--don't leave your friends.
Watch your drink and do not take a drink from someone you don't know.
Do not have sexual contact with a drunk person--in many states, this is defined as rape.

I know, I sound like your Mom. Well, listen up--I am a Mom and Moms kind of want their kids to stay alive.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Tips for caring for someone with memory issues

Often, these days, I see all age-related memory deficits referred to as Alzheimer's--which is not strictly true. There are several other forms. I know because my mother had senile dementia, but not an Alzheimer's  diagnosis. My sister and I cared for her for 18 years until she died at 95.

This subject has come up because of Nancy Reagan's death--she cared for her husband with Alzheimer's for many years. At times, I heard, he did not recognize her despite their publicized love affair. So painful.

In 2013, 5.3 million Amercans had Alzheimer's.

If you are caring for someone with this awful disease, which can erase personality, Mayo Clinic neurologist Ronald Petersen, Md, PhD, has some tips.

--Schedule wisely. Make each day predictable and plan difficult tasks--such as doctor visits--for when your loved one is calmest.

--Adapt. If the person wants to wear the same outfit every day, don't argue--buy identical outfits.

--Take your time. Everything takes longer than you think.

--Try to involve the person. Ask their advice or wishes.

--But limit choices. Give them a pick of two outfits--don't show them the whole closet.

--Reduce distractions. Turn off the TV during meals.

--Prevent falls. Pick up all small rugs, watch the wires and extension cords. Put handrails in critical areas.

--Use locks. Lock cabinets that contain dangerous things.

--Lower the thermostat on the water heater,

--Be careful of fire. Keep lighter out of reach. Smoking must be done under supervision.

--And I am adding one: You may need to consider a higher level of care, even if you promised never to put your loved one in a "place."

If you want to help the caregiver, be specific. Don't say, "Let me know how I can help."


--"I am going to the store--what can I pick up for you?"

--I am free for a few hours tomorrow--may I sit while you take time for yourself?"

--I made two meatloaves and am bringing one over."

--Does your yard need mowing? I can do it Saturday."

Cards and emails are good--but personal visits can make a caregiver's day.

I notice the New York Times has many stories on caregiving--it's something we will almost all face.

And it's no picnic.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Iffy? Multiple tatts can enhance your immune system

Super immunity?
Three researchers at the University of Alabama says getting multiple tattoos can strengthen your immune system--but a single one can, at least temporarily, weaken it.

One of the researchers, Christopher Lynn, PhD, an associate professor of anthropology, had noticed that when he got a tattoo, he ended up exhausted--he says, from the stress (of a needle jabbing thousands of times into his flesh).

As with exercise, repetition of the stress can reset the stress point of the body higher, he thinks.

He teamed up with two other researchers and enlisted some volunteers at tattoo parlors in the area.

The colunteers completed a questionnaire about their tattoo experience. Their saliva samples were then analyzed before and after, measuring the levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody in the gastro and respiratory system, and of cortisol, a stree hormone that suppresses immunity.

The IA dropped in those receiving their initial tattoos--from the stress. But it dropped less significantly with subsequent tattoos.

Lynn says he is interested in "catchy" subjects--subjects that catch students' interest in anthro and blow their minds a bit.

Would I call this scientific? Probably not... And, anecdotally, I did not get sick or "exhausted" after either of my tattoos...what does that indicate?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

YOW--Tendinitis and bursitis

You don't have to be a big-shot athlete to get Tennis Elbow or Swimmer's shoulder or Jumper's Knee. Even little kids can damage tendons pitching softball.

Anything you do over and over can strain soft tissue and create inflammation. Running, throwing, name it.

Tendons are a form of soft tissue that connects muscle to bone. It also has a covering called a sheath, which can become inflamed.

Bursae are fluid-filled sacs the body can form.

These are both painful and some people can get both.

The treatment? Rest. You MUST STOP performing the offending movement, says John Connolly, a licensed physical therapist at Armonk Physical Therapy and Sports Training in Armonk, NY.

Rest and stop the motion. This can be almost impossible for some exercisers to understand and do.

Still, a licensed therapist can help you find movements to work around the sore spots.

A person with shoulder tendonitis or bursitis could run or bike (no swimming). Someone with Achilles heel tendonitis--swimming would be good.

Connolly also recommends small, single-joint exercises that target small stabilizing muscles to prevent return of the condition.

The point is, seek expert advice.

My mother got bursitis once from scaling fish. She hated scaling fish and never did it again. Problem solved.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Better to chew than drink or slurp

Pond scum in a glass. Kidding--
drink up.
Lorraine Chow, AlterNet,com, Mar 7, 2016, takes on the current crazes toward juices/juicing and nutritional "soups" routines.

Or, as some call these--bottled greens. Or a natural dose of Red Bull.

She asks is it worth paying ten bucks for a bottle of liquefied produce.

And is drinking your food actually good for you?

Those juice cleanses cropped up in 2009---and with them those juicing machines. (The blades in a blender supposedly do something bad to enzymes...cue the BS alarm).

The movie starts going onboard and the trend was off to the races. Cold -pressed juices drag in $100 million a year.

Yes, it's a shot of nutrients--fresh, quick, and easy (ever cleaned a presser?).

But--valuable parts of the plant are thrown out--skins, fiber.

And it's environmentally wasreful--a 16-oz bottle can contain six pounds of veggies or fruit.

Leftover pulp does into landfulls--where it emits methane gas.

Have juices peaked? Well, some "bars" have gone bellyup.

NOW--we have "souping." Hot juice. Eaten with a spoon--you know, like food is.

And chewing your food--remember that?--also leaves you less hungry.

PLUS--Your body is self-cleansing..the liver, the kidneys,

Go ahead--eat a salad. At least salads look better than a vat of green goo.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Are oversized doses of cancer drugs causing $$$ waste?

Writing in Forbes, Mar 3, 2016, John LaMattina says Memorial Sloan-Kettering physician Peter Bach, MD, has been on the warpath about overpriced cancer drugs.

He was a leader in getting the new drug Zaltrap lowered in price to be equivalent to the equally effective Avastin.

Now, Bach is after the practice of packaging some drugs in single-dose vials that contain more than the average dose per person. This increases leftover drugs, which translates into--WASTED MONEY if you did not have a larger body size and require more of the drug.

About $2.8 billion in waste per year. Up to a third of cancer drugs may be trashed.

Once opened, these vials cannot be used for another patient. Benefit? The drug company.

But also benefit the doctor. Physicians operate under "buy and bill" with cancer drugs--the docs and hospitals buy the drugs and bill the insurance companies. They make more if more expensive large doses are purchased.

But would requiring smaller dose packages save money? Not if cheaper drugs are just as effective as in the Zaltrap case.

If manufacturers produced different levels of dosage--it also would probably not lower cost.

So now what?

Friday, March 04, 2016

All you ever need to know about Greek yogurt, OPA!

University of Florida nutrition expert shares some myths about this popular creamy treat.

First, is it from Greece? This is not completely clear--it's of a type also found in South Asia, other Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, and now in the US.

Isn't really made the same way as other yogurt? Well, it starts out the same--fermenting milk with healthy live bacteria--but then it's strained to compact it down so it's thicker and creamier. It takes up to four times the milk to make the same amount of Greek yogurt as regular.

Does that make it more nutritious? Yes, it's higher in protein (15-20 grams or twice that of regular).
And like most yogurts, it's rich in probiotics--and although some calcium is strained out, it is still a good course of calcium.

Isn't it more caloric than regular? No--about the same. Check the container to see how many calories are added in terms of sweeteners.

Use it in place of other thickeners such as sour cream, heavy cream, mayo, and cream cheese.

I am off dairy due to roiling innards, but I do remember liking the mouth feel of the Greek stuff. That liquid yogurt--in the funny cylinders--what was that all about?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

What should ring your "alarm" on nutritional advice

Anita Marlay, RD, LD, with the Lake Regional Health System, writing on, offers a few clues that should help us separate legitimate food advice from nutty nonsense.

Only, she did not say nutty nonsense, I did.

The first way to judge a piece of research or claim is look at the science. The most reliable studies are published in peer-reviewed journals (although there are periodic bursts of doubt about how conclusions are reached). Still, look for studies conducted or several months or even years. Look for a large sample size (at least 100). See who is funding the study. If the funder has a stake, the study may not be reliable.

Strong defensive claims without evidence of proof can be a sign of wackiness to come. Watch out for vague eye-grabbers such as "Hidden Secret" or "What They Don't Want You to Know."

Anything that promises that a particular food will "cure" something--back off. Coconut oil will not cure Alzheimer's, a raw diet will not reverse diabetes, warns Marlay.

If a claim promises quick results--this is a definite sign of quackery. Think "cleanses."

And, last, look for quirky claims--They say you need to send in a hair sample to assess your diet, for example. Or you may be told genetically modified foods cause birth defects.

Your BS alarm should be going ooga-ooga.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Your Fitbit readings are TMI for your doctor

Are you kidding? You're lucky if
the doctor reads the clipboard.
A study that won "best paper" and will be presented in March at the Association for Computing Machinery's conference, surveyed 211 patients, 21 doctors, dietitians, aand other providers about all this patient tracking data people are amassing.

The advice is to share this with your doctor. But doctors say they don't have the time or tools to interpret data from dozens of lifestyle, fitness, or food tracking apps that a patient may bring in on their cellphone.

The team--at University of Washington--says if you are monitoring because of a chronic disease, this info can be useful--but doctors have no way to handle it.

They are looking into:

--Developing tools to visualize, summarize, and annotate self-tracking data

--Designing methods to analyze and explore such data

--Helping clinicians understand which tools support different goals

--Helping patients understand and make sense of the data--and not just hand it to the doctor\

--Clearly outlining how such data should be shared

The researchers also found that if the doctor initiated the tracking, he or she was more likely to use it and make sense of it.

If patients bought an app  or wearable tracking tools such as Fitbit, the data was less useful.

One doctor said ask developers to create a summary page.

When doctors did make a pass at looking at the info, it was more likely patients would continue the day-to-day attention to their issue.

In other words, this is a technology in a state of's not there yet. That's my read.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A cold or something else?

Not me. She looks way too good,.
I have some stupid disease. Today is Day 10. I guess it's a virus--but while colds are caused by viruses, this does not act like any cold I every had before.

It started as a sore throat one on side, then my blind eye started to hurt, then my ear on that side (day 3), then my cheekbones and face...No fever, just yuckiness. And then about Day 5, these areas and the roof of my mouth began to itch.

I hate taking medicine and I can't see trying to arrange some car trip to the doctor for a COLD! They can't cure those anyhow...

So now, my right ear is stopped up again, the cheekbones are better, but I am stuck with a terrible cough every time I lie down.

I took Nyquil finally out of desperation--and the need to sleep. The stuff that does, you know...come up...looks pretty ugly...

So now has a bacteria gotten in there? Don't know...

I know--I am a baby...but don't you pity me even a little?

If only for having to take Nyquil? That stuff is like a shooter created by Hell's bartender.