This fun video (in 2-D) from wacky science guy Bill Nye, talks about why taking in a 3-D film might make you seasick, and what to do if it does.
Archive for May, 2010
With Memorial Day weekend around the corner, you might be getting ready for that first beach day of the season. If so, wear your sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher, reapply every two hours), watch the kids in the water, stay hydrated and pack some beach-friendly snacks. I’m talking about something portable, packable, that won’t spoil in the sun or pack on extra pounds that will have you scrambling for your cover-up.
Nutritionist Elisa Zied, R.D., author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips (Alpha, 2009), recently wrote in with some excellent snack suggestions:
1. Nuts. Crunchy and delicious, nuts are rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; walnuts are also rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fats. Bring a baggie with two-tablespoon portions of almonds, cashews or walnuts.
2. Fresh Fruit. Washed thoroughly and packed so they won’t get smashed, fresh fruits provide valuable nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium. The most portable fruits are oranges, apples, and bananas. You can slice up your fruit, or liven up your selections by choosing clementines, seedless grapes or strawberries.
3. Dried Fruit. Look for “no sugar added” when picking out dried fruits, and limit portions to two tablespoons. Although not as fiber-rich as fruit, dried fruit is nonperishable and great to mix with crunchy high-fiber cereal like low-fat granola or nuts (choose the kind you like, but stick to two tablespoons).
4. Veggies. Edamame, celery, carrots, and pepper strips are durable in packed beach bags. They also provide nutrients you really need in the heat, such as vitamin C, potassium, and iron.
5. Grains. Whole-grain crackers are great treats with lots of crunch and flavor. Pack natural peanut butter or almond butter and no-sugar jelly to put on crackers or whole-grain bread. The protein and whole grains are nonperishable and will keep you sated.
All fruits and vegetables should be washed prior to use. When possible, items should be packed on ice to keep bacteria at bay.
So much of your body changes during pregnancy, and your feet are no exception. Relaxin, the hormone that allows your pelvis to open to carry and deliver your baby, makes the ligaments in the feet more flexible so that your foot becomes both wider and longer. They can grow up to half a shoe size.
To make your path to motherhood a little smoother, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends a few fixes for common foot problems:
Painful, swollen feet – Fluid buildup in the feet from the weight and position of the baby can cause swelling and pain. To reduce this, put your feet up whenever you can, stretch your legs often and wear wide, comfortable shoes. Try not to cross your legs when sitting.
Painful arches – This can come from stress on the ligament that holds up the arch of your foot. Stretch every morning (holding onto your toes and gently pulling your foot as far flexed as it will go), don’t go barefoot, and wear supportive shoes with low heels.
Foot cramps – Increased hormone levels during pregnancy can cause these. The best way to prevent them is to keep circulation moving by rotating your ankles and elevating your feet when seated. Walking and daily stretching of your calves can also help.
Ingrown toenails – If you’re outgrowing your shoes, the tight fit can cause ingrown toenails. Wider shoes are your best bet. If you do get an ingrown nail, let a professional handle it. DIY “surgery” could lead to a nasty infection.
For more information about all things foot related, visit www.FootHealthFacts.org.
The FDA this week announced a nationwide recall of alfalfa sprouts from Caldwell Fresh Foods of Maywood, CA, because they have been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in 10 states. The outbreak has caused a total of 22 confirmed Salmonella cases since March 1, six involving hospitalizations.
Cases have turned up in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin.
The sprouts were packaged as Nature’s Choice alfalfa sprouts and California Exotics brand alfalfa sprouts, and sold through a number of restaurants and retailers, including Trader Joe’s and WalMart.
In addition, check your fridge for bags of Fresh Express Romaine-based ready-to-eat salads with use-by dates of May 13-16 and an “S” in the product code. They’ve also been recalled after a single package was confirmed positive for Salmonella in a random sample test by the FDA.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea (possibly bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. The FDA advises children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with weakened immune systems to avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind.
If you’re trying for a baby by in vitro fertilization, poor air quality could harm your chances of success, according to a study released in March. Researchers from Penn State followed more than 7,000 women undergoing IVF, and found that when levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were higher than average near their homes or near the IVF labs they visited, their odds of having a baby dropped by 20%.
NO2 is a common air pollutant produced by exhaust from cars and other vehicles, and concentrations increase 30-100% within 160 feet of roadways. It reacts with other compounds in the air to form tiny particles that penetrate deep into the lungs. Exposures of as little as half an hour have been linked with inflammation of the airways of healthy people and increased symptoms for people with asthma.
Where pregnancy is concerned, researchers theorize that NO2 could cause widespread inflammation in the body, increase production of cell-damaging free radicals, or make the blood more prone to clotting, all of which put an unborn baby at risk.
Unfortunately, short of moving to a cleaner city, there isn’t much you can do to limit exposure. You can watch your local air quality forecast, available online at www.airnow.gov, and avoid exercise or other strenuous activity on those days.
When I find myself trying to work, think, or relax in a spot with lots of distractions – a coffee house, my own house when the neighbor is using his leaf blower, my desk at work – I like to focus by building my own soundscape. Might be music, or even a white noise App on my phone.
After plowing through an article one day listening to virtual waves crash against a virtual shore, I began to wonder what this method of escape might be doing to my hearing. Were the ear buds pulsing the sound directly into my ear canal too intense? Would traditional on-ear headphones be safer?
Audiologist Bea Smith, Au.D., who works at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, agreed to help me out. Here is what she had to say:
“When headphones are used verses ear buds the SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is reduced by approximately 10dBSPL (decibels). The additional pressure from ear buds can cause the breakdown of the hair cells in the inner ear, increasing hearing loss over headphone use. This hearing loss is permanent. Headphones are also preferable because they block out more ambient noise (noise from traffic, treadmills, other conversations, etc.), therefore letting the listener decrease the volume of what they are listening to and get the same, if not better, sound sensation.”
So there you have it. Less hearing loss with headphones – though of course you still have to take care. Keep the volume down (60% volume is a good guide) and give your ears quiet breaks at least every hour or so.
My latest love? DJ Sport headphones by chicBuds. They boast a reasonable price tag (under $30), decent sound quality, they’re comfy to wear and they fold for easy storage. And the shocking pink color means folks know you’ve got the tunes on. Prevents that awkward moment when someone starts chatting and doesn’t know you can’t hear them!
It was June 18, 2008, and Elisabeth Bourdeau remembers it well. Her 18-month-old son, Isaac, was nursing a lot and seemed fussy, and he’d been that way often. Could be teething, right? But then he started breathing fast. Really fast. So fast she decided to take him to the Emergency Room.
Looking back, Bourdeau believes she accepted the ER doctor’s diagnosis of croup – and shot of steroids – readily because it was something simple that she could get her head around. She also remembers the ER nurse, who looked her in the eye and said, “You’re the mother. If you think something is wrong, don’t worry about what the doctor said. You come back.” Two hours later they were back, and this time a new doctor immediately checked Isaac’s blood sugar. Diagnosis: type 1 diabetes.
That was the beginning of the journey for the Bourdeau family – Elisabeth, husband Roger, Isaac (now 3) and daughter Ava, 5 – who have just launched Diabetes Squared, a website and series of webisodes designed to shine the light on daily life with type 1 diabetes.
Becoming a Pancreas
Isaac’s diagnosis didn’t scare Elisabeth right at first. “As a lot of people are, I think I was almost blissfully ignorant,” she says. Isaac went the ICU to get stabilized, and stayed in the hospital for about a week while his parents learned to manage his condition. And that was when Bourdeau learned that she would have to compensate for one of her son’s vital organs, keeping his blood sugar at a safe level – via as many as five to six insulin injections per day – through snacks, meals, illness, exercise, changing weather and all the other factors that can have an impact.
“It’s not as simple as just watching what you eat and cutting out the sugar,” Bourdeau explains. “We’re supposed to act like a pancreas, but we’re only human.” That was when she understood what a responsibility she was taking on. And that’s when the fear set in. “One false move and he could be in a coma,” she says.
Elisabeth mastered her new role and learned she could manage Isaac’s condition. Then the family’s lives took another turn this past February, when Ava was diagnosed. After a mild case of pneumonia, Ava started wetting her bed, something she hadn’t done even during potty training. And she was drinking lots. Bourdeau finally tested Ava with Isaac’s meter and found her blood sugar critically high. So it was back to the hospital to confirm that the family now had two kids with type 1 diabetes.
Now Times Two
It was this convergence of numbers that led the Bourdeaus to create Diabetes Squared. The Santa Monica family relocated from New York about five years ago so Roger could work as an editor in reality television. But the work, like the economy, had slowed down by the time of Ava’s diagnosis, giving Reggie some free time. He and Elisabeth, who has worked as a television producer, decided to turn the cameras on their family. “We thought, well, now we have our own little drama in our house,” Elisabeth says.
Elisabeth gets frustrated when people confuse her children’s disease with type 2 diabetes and assume their condition has something to do with her feeding them a poor diet. The two types of diabetes really aren’t much alike. “I almost wish there were two different names, because they really are different,” she says.
In type 1 diabetes, your pancreas does not make insulin, a hormone needed to regulate your blood sugar. Experts aren’t sure what triggers it, but it usually is diagnosed in childhood. In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond properly to the insulin it produces. Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight, sedentary and have poor diets at the time of diagnosis, and experts think these are big factors in triggering the disease. Type 2 diabetes usually comes on later in life, though increases in childhood obesity mean it is now seen more often in kids.
A Peek At the Grind
The Diabetes Squared films – the Bourdeaus plan to make 50 of them, with weekly updates – won’t really get bogged down in technical jargon. In fact, Elisabeth says the goal is to make them so engaging that people without diabetes will want to watch. Take a look at Ava as she explains that “diabetes is something I have to control,” then pricks her finger and tests her blood for the camera, and it’s hard not to get hooked. The production values are good, but the Bourdeaus haven’t glammed up for the cameras. They want to show the day-in, day-out grind they have to cope with. “Sometimes things just take longer when you have two kids with diabetes,” says Elisabeth with a laugh.
For instance, like any family with children under 5, when they go out they have to pack stuff like extra clothes, sunscreen, and maybe a favorite toy. “We also have to pack life-saving essentials,” says Elisabeth, like glucose meters, insulin, juice and snacks. “And you get used to that.”
Pay them a visit and follow along at www.DiabetesSquared.com.
Authors of Interphone, the largest study to date on the risk of brain cancer from cell phone use, called their results – published this week – inconclusive, and announced plans for a new project to investigate the risk to children of brain tumors from mobile phone use.
The Interphone study, conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and funded, to the tune of $24 million, through a number of sources that included the mobile phone industry, spanned a decade (from 2000 to 2010) and included almost 13,000 participants from 13 countries.
The results suggested no increased overall risk of glioma and meningioma, two types of brain tumors, but did find increased risk (40% for glioma and 15% for meningioma) in what the study defined as the highest levels of cell phone use.
But the researchers, and other experts, suggested a number of flaws with the study that render the results irrelevant to today’s cell phone users. The most striking is that the study defined “high level” use as just 30 minutes of calls (not texting) per day, which the researchers themselves admit is not heavy use by today’s standards.
Also, because glioma can take long as 25 years to develop – longer than cell phone use has been widespread – researchers say it isn’t yet possible to determine how big a risk it might be.
In an announcement with the release of the study, Dr. Christopher Wild, director of IARC, says: “The changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied by Interphone, particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited.”
The Interphone study will continue with data on tumors of the acoustic nerve and parotid gland, a salivary gland in front of the ears. And the European Union will fund a new project, called MobiKids, to investigate risk of brain tumors from mobile phone use in children and adolescents.
Meanwhile, if you and the kids can’t manage to hang up, consider texting or using a hands-free device instead of making traditional calls. Putting that small distance (even 4 inches) between your phone and your head reduces the radiation delivered to the brain to almost zero.
At work on a first-aid story last week, I was chatting with Mary Taddie, Director of Health and Safety at the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay. She shared a gem of a story about “a stupid little lettuce leaf” and why she became involved with the organization.
Taddie was at a restaurant, at a gathering for her former job, and she had to give a presentation to the assembled group of executives. She was nervous, so she was laughing, talking, and eating her Caesar salad – all at the same time. “Before you know it, I couldn’t breath in. I couldn’t breath out,” she says.
Panicked, embarrassed and choking, she looked to the banquet room’s lighted exit signs, then to the waiter, but she couldn’t speak. When someone at the table finally noticed her distress, the man seated next to her attempted to help, but didn’t really know what to do. “He was just grabbing everywhere,” she says. Meanwhile, for Taddie, the lights started to dim.
Help came in the form of a man across the room. “He wasn’t a doctor, he wasn’t a nurse, he was Red Cross certified,” Taddie says. The man performed a proper abdominal thrust and dislodged the lettuce so that Taddie could breathe again, much to the relief of the rest of her fellow diners. “He really did save my life. I was starting to lose consciousness,” she says. “And afterward I had to buy everyone a shot. They were all really traumatized because they were all these high-level people and no one knew what to do.”
After that, Taddie became a Red Cross volunteer and worked her way into a new career that lets her teach lots of other folks life-saving skills.
If you’ve got questions about your child’s development and live in Southern California, check out free developmental checkups courtesy of the Child Development Institute May 22 and 23.
Westfield Topanga mall, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, will host activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. Child Development Institute staff will be there to answer questions, conduct screenings and share developmental information in English and Spanish. Activities will include:
- Speech and language, social and emotional, shelf-help and cognitive and physical skills screenings for children from birth through age 8
- Activities for kids
- Child development information and resources
- Private consultations for families with concerns