Category Archives: Health

6 Healthy Foods that Are Making You Fat

What happened when 10,000 dieters ate mainly healthy foods? Not much, if they filled up on the foods from this list. Here’s how to eat right and lose weight.

Bread-lovers in the study discovered that it was easy to eat too much of that food in a single sitting. If you can’t live without sandwiches, then you should have them, but try to splurge on only those couple of slices of bread a day. Bread isn’t evil; it just tends to be hard to control for people who love it.

Slice your protein or veggies over grains including whole-wheat pasta, wild rice, couscous, or quinoa.

2. FAT FOOD TRAP: Fruit-flavored yogurt
When Weight Watchers asked 10,000 dieters to eat wholesome foods – like grains, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein – they saw that people often ate four containers of low-fat yogurt a day if the fruit was mixed in. But if the subjects had to stir in the fruit themselves, they stopped at only one cup.

WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Plain, nonfat yogurt – you add fresh fruit
Mixing in fruit yourself is enough to prevent you from mindless overeating, says Karen Miller-Kovach, R.D., chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers International and head of the healthy-eating program.

3. FAT FOOD TRAP: Breakfast cereal – even the healthy kind
The same Weight Watchers study also showed that people who ate cereal right out of the box as a snack tended to munch on way too much of it in a day. Even healthy, high-fiber cereals can up the day’s calorie count and halt people’s weight loss.

WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Eat cereal only with milk
This combination also decreases the meal’s “calorie density” – an ounce of cereal with milk (skim, of course) has fewer calories than an ounce of cereal alone, so you’ll take in fewer calories but still feel just as satisfied.

4. FAT FOOD TRAP: White rice

It takes more white rice than brown to make you feel just as satisfied. That’s because white rice contains no fiber – a food component that helps you feel full. White pasta also tends to be fiber-free and less filling than whole wheat.

You might eat only 50 or 60 fewer calories when you make the switch to brown rice or pasta, but that can be enough to make a difference in weight loss, says Miller-Kovach.

5. FAT FOOD TRAP: 1 percent cottage cheese
At first, study participants tried incorporating low-fat, not just nonfat, products. “We don’t know whether this higher-fat cottage cheese affected weight loss because of the little bit of fat it contains, or because people ate more of it,” says Miller-Kovach.

WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Nonfat cottage cheese
Eating only the fat-free version allowed people in the study to continue losing extra weight.

6. FAT FOOD TRAP: Sugar-free hot chocolate
People who tried to satisfy their sweet cravings with sugar-free hot chocolate ended up drinking as many as five cups a day. “People would keep a mug on their desk and sip all day long, because they didn’t think of the cocoa as a ‘bad’ food,” says Miller-Kovach. But, of course, the calories add up.

WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Diet chocolate pudding
People who ate this instead of drinking cocoa stopped after a single serving, she says. “I think that people see pudding as a treat. They use it to satisfy the occasional sweet tooth, not to snack on all day.”

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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sleep

1. You sleep in cycles.

A full sleep cycle takes about 90 to 120 minutes, says psychologist Lisa Medalie, a behavioral sleep specialist at the University of Chicago. You go through four stages, starting with the lightest one and ending with rapid-eye movement (REM). “Usually people wake up for a couple minutes after each complete sleep cycle,” she says.

2. You become a cold-blooded animal during REM sleep.

During dream-filled, REM sleep, your body isn’t its own furnace. “We lose the ability to thermo-regulate ourselves,” says Mark Mahowald, professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a visiting professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Stanford University. But that’s fine because REM periods typically last only 20 minutes or so, though they can be as short as two minutes or as long as 45, says sleep researcher Ursula Voss, a psychology professor at the University of Frankfurt. “You become a cold-blooded animal. You don’t sweat in REM sleep.”

3. You get less REM sleep when you feel uncomfortable or in danger.

“When you feel unsafe or cold in your sleeping quarters, you don’t enter REM sleep or get as much of it,” says Voss. “Your body automatically adjusts so you don’t go into that stage. REM is a deeper sleep, and it’s more dangerous.” That explains why kids living on the streets get very little REM sleep, she notes.

4. Alcohol reduces REM sleep.

Booze is a sleep-inducing depressant that interferes with shut-eye. “The alcohol puts you to sleep, but it lightens your sleep and suppresses your REM sleep,” says pharmacist Keith T. Veltri, clinical pharmacy manager of Montefiore Medical Center. You may still remember dreams, though, since the alcohol causes increased arousals – and you can only recall a dream when you awake during it. When alcoholics stop drinking, they experience a “tremendous increase of REM sleep, and therefore, more vivid dreaming,” says Mahowald.

5. Some medicines interfere with sleep habits.

Benadryl (or diphenhydramine), the active “PM” ingredient in over-the-counter drugs, may result in shortened REM and fewer dreams, says Veltri. Prescription drugs that can cause nightmares include beta-blockers, which are usually prescribed for high blood pressure; the Parkinson’s disease drug, Sinemet; and the smoking-cessation medication, Chantix. Some drugs, such as antidepressants and barbituates, also reduce REM sleep.

6. Babies in the womb are almost exclusively in REM sleep.

In the womb, fetuses are almost exclusively in REM, which may be very “important for brain development,” says Mahowald. However, they presumably lack memories to consolidate into nighttime visions. “They can’t be dreaming because they have no experience to generate dreams,” he says. Babies spend 50 percent of their shut-eye time in REM. Toddlers are down to 25 percent, and seniors are down to about 15 percent.

7. Not all animals experience REM sleep.

Dolphins and whales don’t. “It has something to do with their aquatic environment,” says Jerry Siegel, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Sleep Research at UCLA. Fur seals experience REM and non-REM sleep when they’re on land but next to no REM sleep when they’re in the water, he says. REM sleep may play no role in intelligence. “The platypus has spectacular REM sleep,” says Siegel. “This is an animal that has a tiny little brain.” If REM sleep were cognitive, he says, “humans wouldn’t fall in the middle.”

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A glance at a donation that transmitted rabies

Organs from the body of a 20-year-old Air Force recruit who died of rabies were transplanted in early September 2011 into four people, one of whom died of the disease last month. Here is a glance at the facts in the case:


The North Carolina man had been in the military for 17 weeks and completed basic training. He had moved on to training in Pensacola, Fla., to become an aviation mechanic when he got sick. He died at a civilian hospital. The cause of death was listed as encephalitis. Officials in North Carolina say several family members visited him in the hospital before he died and they have recommended that at least one relative be treated as a preventative measure.

The patient who died in late February was a Maryland man who was an Army veteran. He had received a kidney in 2011 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The other recipients received the donor’s heart, liver and other kidney. One transplant took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The other transplants occurred in Florida and Georgia. All the transplant recipients are getting treatment to prevent rabies.


People who may have been exposed to rabies can receive injections of a vaccine to protect them.

Rodney Willoughby, a Milwaukee doctor who in 2004 successfully treated a teenage girl with rabies, said the prognosis for the organ recipients is strong, given that they are receiving efficient vaccines and haven’t shown rabies symptoms nearly 18 months after the transplants.


Rabies is diagnosed as the cause of just one to three deaths per year in the United States.

The raccoon virus in this case has a typical incubation period of one to three months, although there have been other cases of longer incubation periods.

Willoughby said the rabies virus remains “statistically, for all intents and purposes, a 100 percent fatal illness.” The virus enters the body at the site of a bite — or, in this case, a transplant — and remains there for a long incubation period before attacking the brain and spinal cord. Rabies replicates slowly inside the tissue, becoming difficult, if not impossible, to detect or screen for in a prospective donor.

He said there is not an efficient test for it.


The Centers for Disease Control says there has been just one other reported instance of rabies transmission by transplanted solid organs, a 2004 case in which all four recipients died after receiving tissue from an infected donor. There have been at least eight instances of rabies transmission through transplanted corneas.

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