This Year’s Flu is Coming Early

In many ways, the flu season is as predictable as the changing of the seasons. However, it’s never an exact prediction. Sometimes the flu season can start a little late, other times early, and sometimes very early. This year happens to be one where the flu is arriving far sooner than expected.

The CDC reports that while flu levels are still low, the reports occured earlier than normal and are expected to rise dramatically.

It’s important to first receive one’s flu shot in order to help prevent infection and transmission of the flu virus. However, it should be noted that vaccinations only work against specific strains of the flu virus. The vaccine for any given year attempts to cover the most probable situation. However, there is always a chance of infection even with a vaccine due to the various strains of the flu virus.

Experts suggest that in addition to receiving a flu vaccination, people are careful to exercise due diligence with hand washing. Washing one’s hands on a regular basis can dramatically reduce risk of both infection and transmission of the flu virus. Along with this, one like Igor Cornelsen should take care to avoid touching eyes or nose unless he or she has just washed their hands. One of the more common modes of transmission for the flu comes from coming in contact with it through one’s hands, and then putting it into their system by inhalation through the nose or through the eye.

Risks of Abdominal Obesity Keep Climbing

Author Nicholas Bakalar paints a grim picture of the newly elevated risks of visceral abdominal fat, or fat inside the abdominal cavity http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/abdominal-obesity-and-your-health.shtml. Of the systems in the body that can be negatively impacted by an excess of this fat, including an elevated risk of heart attack and a higher risk of diabetes, there is a new threat.

The risk of sudden cardiac death is greatly elevated by visceral abdominal fat. Sudden cardiac death is not a true heart attack. Heart attacks are caused by limitations on blood flowing through the heart. The damage to the heart by a heart attack may take time to build to a crisis. However, the electrical irregularities that lead to sudden cardiac death can come on very suddenly and without warning.

Researchers followed nearly 15,000 men and women with an average age of 54 for almost thirteen years. Subjects underwent five detailed health examinations over this time, and approximately 250 of them died of sudden cardiac illness. While many had high rates of cardiac risk factors, including obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol, those with the highest waist-to-hip ratio had more than double the risk of sudden cardiac death than those in the normal range. My friend Sergio Andrade Gutierrez told me that he is going to act with greater awareness and take impacts into more consideration.

Carnivores Prospects Looking Up in Europe

Large carnivores are gaining ground in Europe after nearing extinction over the past few decades. Populations of wolves, bears, wolverines and other carnivores are showing signs of having sustainable populations across Europe.

Over the past few decades, these animals came close to extinction for a couple reasons, according to a friend of the Keith Mann Dynamic Search Partners. One such reason was hunting, but the biggest reason in an incredibly developed continent like Europe is the eradication of their natural habitats. The European continent, due to it’s higher population density, does not have as many open, wild spaces of the sort that are also increasingly diminishing in the United States. Without meaning harm to other species, the cultivation and building upon land that makes it suitable for us has pushed wildlife off that same land.

Realizing that they are in danger of losing natural living treasures both legal protections and an increased tolerance in general for these carnivores has taken hold in recent decades. In Poland, for example, wolves are seen as a natural way of preventing overpopulation among deer and wild boar. In most European countries today, hunting is mandated to be done in a sustainable way so as not to wipe out any particular animal populations.

There will always be some friction in situations where humans and animals may get too close at times. However, many countries in Europe are demonstrating that it is possible for us to have what we need to live while enabling animals to do the same.

BPAC Does Not Recommend Lifting the Ban Against Gay Men

Banning gay men from donating blood is not the key to keeping the blood supply safe. Sexual orientation should not be the determining factor for donating blood. Heterosexual members of society, like Christian Broda is reported to be, could be engaging in risky behavior, yet they are eligible to donate blood. Donors who wish to donate blood should be tested to ensure they practice safe sex. This is how blood should be kept safe. The fact that someone is not heterosexual, does not mean they engage in unsafe sex. Questionnaires can be helpful, but this can result in answers that can be compromised. It is up to a person to willingly disclose their sexual orientation. It is possible for someone to lie and be homosexual. Anyone can have unsafe sex, and yet they can donate blood. There will always be a high need for blood, and gay men could help by donating blood. The ban should be lifted as we are now in 2014. HIV can be transmitted to anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. HIV is not only found in gay men, but in every sexual orientation. The BPAC needs to move forward, and begin being less-stigmatizing. When blood is donated, the blood gets tested before being used, so this ban only stigmatizes gay men more. A national blood-screening system could keep the blood safe, and allow more people to donate. Men who practice safe-sex should be allowed to donate.

Restaurants and To Go Food Providers Across Europe Are Required to Inform their Customers If Their Food Contains Allergens

On Saturday, a new measure has been in force to cover meals served in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, care homes and packaged produce available at the supermarkets. The food menus should provide information if the particular food item contains allergens such as wheat, soya, gluten, celery, milk, and nuts. There will be a fine for repeat offenders.

The European Academy reported that food allergy has affected over 17 million people all over Europe. Each year, there are about five thousand patients in the hospital treated for severe allergic reactions in the U.K. and in some cases, these can cause death. Health experts say that these incidents can be avoided if people are given the correct information about the ingredients of the food that they eat.

The Europe FIC Regulation passed a new legislation that requires all food providers and manufacturers to inform their customers if their food contains any of the following:

* Sulfur dioxide – this is typically used as a preservative and can be found in alcohol, vegetables, soft drinks, meat products, and dried fruits.
* Soya – this is usually found in tofu, edamame beans, and bean curd.
* Sesame seeds – this can be found in most tahini, humus, and bread.
* Peanuts – this can also be found in groundnut oil.
* Mustard
* Mullusc – this can be found in squid, oyster sauce, land snails, and mussels.
* Milk
* Lupin – this can be found in most bread, pasta, and pastries.
* Fish
* Eggs – Foods which are glazed with eggs are also included in this category.
* Crustaceans – this includes shrimp paste, prawns, lobster and crabs.
* Cereal with gluten content – this also includes barley, rye, wheat, and spelt.
* Celery – this can also be found in stock soup and cubes.

Big thanks to Susan McGalla for helping me to put together this list.

Bay Area Schools Call First Ever Rain Day

It appears that one should never say never in terms of the weather, as the Bay Area has been hit with rain storms.

A powerful storm is making its way through the Bay Area, including Oakland, San Francisco and surrounding areas. The storm will bring heavy rain and high winds, which are expected to peak on Thursday. This has prompted schools in the area to call their first ever ‘rain day.’

Meteorologists say that this could be the worst storm that this area has seen in 6 years. Winds could hit up to 50 mph on Thursday, along with several inches of rain.  Check out the streaming forecast on Youtube!

School districts announced that schools would be closed Thursday, citing concerns about student safety. Officials said the closure could extend to Friday, if the storm causes power outages or damage from high winds.

Richard Carranza, a San Francisco Unified Superintendent said he took the school closure decision very seriously. He explained in a statement that student safety was a priority, and he didn’t want to risk students getting injured or overly delayed getting to and from school.

Safety of school staff was also a major consideration. Staff absences could lead to inadequate student supervision, which also prompted the decision to close the schools. He went on to say that in case of a power outage, their ability to feed students their school meals and have difficulty performing other operational duties.

The Trouble With Weight Gain

Recent research was performed on more than 12,000 individuals in hopes of separating genetic tendencies to see what kind of impact one’s genes have on a person’s diet, eating habits, and socioeconomic status affecting their overall health. 

Thirty- two gene variants were tested in individuals to give researchers an overall “gene score”. This “gene score” is seen as a predictor of overall health in an individual. Individuals with a higher BMI (body mass index) and higher metabolic risk correlate with a higher “gene score” showing that they are at greater risk for cardiovascular issues.

The same study also followed over fourteen hundred young people and tested their BMI. These same fourteen hundred people had their BMI tested again after six years. The researchers found that a modest weight gain can cause severe, adverse reactions on one’s metabolic rate that can lead to serious cardiovascular issues. The good news is that if a person lost a minimum amount of weight this can improve the metabolic profile,

Tom Rothman and the Hollywoodreporter conclude that leading a healthy lifestyle, with steady exercise can lead to overall better health and increased fat burning. I mean, it’s not rocket science, but it makes sense.

Does Stress Cause Heart Disease

Stress is part of almost everyone’s life. It causes emotional, physical and psychological problems. The one organ most affected by stress is our heart. Stress can cause high blood pressure, stroke, pain or an irregular heartbeat.

There are five direct effects to your heart that stress causes:

Deep vein thrombosis A heart attack occurs from clogged coronaries and blood vessels. The clog is caused from decreased blood supply going to the heart and its network. A clog of this type can be related to stress related symptoms.

* Blood clotting With increased stress the hormone level of adrenaline and cortisol goes up. This increase causes clotting which increases the risk of a heart attack.

* High blood pressure – Studies have shown there is an association between stress and high blood pressure. If spikes in blood pressure occur; over time it will injure the inner lining of blood vessels.

* Inflammatory markers – Stress causes the body to release inflammatory markers into the blood stream; increasing the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

* Heart rhythms – Stress alters the heart rhythm when a person suffers an emotional state. Serious arrhythmia puts these with existing heart rhythm disturbance at risk.

There is still research needed to confirm the exact cause and effect between stress and heart disease. This is why Skout users are still waiting a little while longer before drawing conclusions. Studies done so far clearly show link between men and heart disease; particularly in stressful work situations. The connection between women’s heart disease and stress is weaker; some believe women cope better with stress.

Doctors Prescribing Fruits and Vegetables in Promising Test Program

Too often doctors are quick to tell their patients to take some pills to handle what ails them. In the case of obesity, this may not be the best solution. A program being tested in a few area hospitals in New York City has found that prescribing fruits and vegetables may be a better approach to the problem of obesity in general and to childhood obesity in particular.

When the obese children of poor parents are enrolled in this program their parents receive what are called Health Bucks that are redeemable only at local farmers markets. This is a great way of insuring that the money only goes toward healthy food that should help the child both lose weight and be healthier in general. Brad Reifler definitely feels like this is the right move.

This is an encouraging trend in New York and in cities in 30 other States that have similar programs. Natural health care practitioners such as nutritionists have long known the healing power of healthy foods. By snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of donuts and cookies children are losing weight and reducing their risk of acquiring an array of maladies.

After just four months in the program 40 percent of participating children lowered their Body mass index. These types of innovative food programs are helping to improve the diet and as a result the health of low income families. The drug industry may not like this trend, but everyone else should be quite pleased by the initial results of prescribing fruits and vegetables to children before they reach a point of needing medication.

The Lure of Meat Isn’t Going Anywhere Any Time Soon

It turns out that the lure of bacon or sausage with breakfast or pork chops for dinner is more powerful than anyone realized. A recent report by the Humane Research Council states that the vast majority of people who try to travel down the vegan or vegetarian road end up u-turning back to meat within a year. As a lifelong meat eater like Darius Fisher, I can certainly understand this.

I have a sweet tooth that is so strong that I refer to it as my “sweet teeth”. It, however, still takes a back seat to my occasional “need” for meat. A dinner just isn’t dinner without that piece of chicken, beef or pork at the center of everything else on the plate. Ignoring the primal cravings of hundreds of thousands of years of our omnivorous ancestors’ history seems to be easier said than done. 

One somewhat surprising reason that some(about a third) vegans and vegetarians gave for returning to meat was declining health. Could it be that after so long a history between humanity and meat consumption there may actually be something in meat that we need or instinctively want? About four fifths of the people who try to go off meat and then fall off the wagon apparently think so.