Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Carrot Some Vegans Deplore

TWO things that you can find a lot of in Portland, Ore., are vegans and strip clubs. Johnny Diablo decided to open a business to combine both. At his Casa Diablo Gentlemen’s Club, soy protein replaces beef in the tacos and chimichangas; the dancers wear pleather, not leather. Many are vegans or vegetarians themselves.

Natasha Calzatti for The New York Times

FOR THE CAUSE The Vegan Vixens see their performances as educational.

But Portland is also home to a lot of young feminists, and some are not happy with Mr. Diablo’s venture. Since he opened the strip club last month, their complaints have been “all over the Internet,” he said. “One of them came in here once. I could tell she had an attitude right when she came in. She was all hostile.”

Mr. Diablo isn’t concerned with the “feminazis,” as he calls them. As a vegan himself, he says he hasn’t worn or eaten animal products in 24 years and is worried about cruelty to animals. “My sole purpose in this universe is to save every possible creature from pain and suffering,” he said.

Casa Diablo is just the latest example of selling veganism with a “Girls Gone Wild” aesthetic to draw the ire of vegans who complain that such tactics may get people to pay attention to animal cruelty, but for the wrong reasons. In Los Angeles, some frown at the scantily clad Vegan Vixens — a kind of animal-loving Pussycat Dolls — who perform songs like “Real Men Don’t Hunt” at fund-raisers for animal welfare groups.

And many vegans who want to publicize cruelty within the fur industry are nonetheless dismayed by the new “Ink, Not Mink” advertising campaign from peta2, the youth arm of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It features members of the Internet-based pinup group the Suicide Girls, sporting little more than tattoos and body piercings.

This isn’t the first time animal rights activists have been accused of sexism. Many vegans have long criticized PETA for using naked celebrities in its advertising campaigns and for staging stunts like naked protests.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a cookbook author, is among those who believe such images twist the vegan message. “As a feminist, I’m not keen on the idea of using women’s bodies to sell veganism, and I’m not into the idea of using veganism to sell women’s bodies,” she said.

Ms. Moskowitz is the host of an online forum, Post Punk Kitchen (, some of whose members are debating Mr. Diablo’s vegan strip club. (Last week Mr. Diablo put the club up for sale, although not because of the criticism, he said. He may have overestimated the appeal of stripping to vegans, or of vegan cuisine to striptease fans; an earlier vegan restaurant he ran was poorly received.)

The issue of sexism in vegan circles is “extremely polarizing,” said Bob Torres, an author of “Vegan Freak,” a guide to living a vegan lifestyle, which generally means avoiding the use of animals for food, clothing or other purposes. Mr. Torres, like many vegans, disavows the “essential idea at the heart of some animal rights activism that any means justifies the ends,” he said. Certain activists, he added, care only about “animal suffering and ignore the suffering of humans,” a category into which he would put women who are exploited.

According to a 2006 Harris poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, which publishes The Vegetarian Journal, only about 2.3 percent of the adult population of the United States is vegetarian. At most, half of those are practicing vegans. But the vegan philosophy has achieved a prominence greater than those small numbers would indicate. There are many celebrity acolytes, including Natalie Portman, who recently introduced a line of nonleather shoes. The best-selling diet book “Skinny Bitch” and a follow-up cookbook, “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch,” promote veganism. Both have been accused of sexist undertones.

People adopt a diet free of animal products for a variety of reasons. They may believe it is healthier or more environmentally friendly. They may support animal rights. In addition, veganism is often part of a larger progressive agenda, which makes many particularly sensitive to sexism charges.

Carol J. Adams, the author of “The Sexual Politics of Meat,” a bible of the vegan community, said that women’s rights and the rights of animals have often been aligned. She traces the relationship to the 1890s. “A lot of feminist suffragists also became vegetarian,” said Ms. Adams, who gave up meat in 1974 while living in a feminist community in Cambridge, Mass. She noted that Susan B. Anthony attended a dinner at which the toast was for “Total Abstinence, Women’s Rights and Vegetarianism.” (An unrepentant omnivore, Ms. Anthony had a predilection for porterhouse steak.)

Ms. Adams added that feminists were early adopters of vegetarianism. “Back in the ’70s, lots of women were saying, ‘I don’t want to be a piece of meat. I’m not going to eat a piece of meat,’ ” she said.

Vegans who use sexuality to promote the cause say it is a good way to convert carnivores — in particular, men. Sky Valencia, the founder of the Vegan Vixens, said her group targets “the people who buy Playboy and Maxim and watch talk shows like Jerry Springer. Those are the people we want to educate because they don’t know anything about the environment or animal rights issues or health.”

The Vixens have a cookbook in the works and will appear on a new television show, “30 Days” with Morgan Spurlock, in an episode about a hunter who has to live with a group of PETA activists for a month. Ms. Valencia said that she has taken a lot of flak from “the stricter women vegans — they are sometimes a little tough on using sex appeal to sell an idea, but sex appeal is everywhere.”

And, she said, men have told her that it works. “We’ve gotten a lot of men eating vegetarian, if not vegan.”

In a culture where hamburgers and steak are considered emblems of masculinity, this may be no small feat. Most men have never even tried vegetarian food, Mr. Diablo of Portland said. “It’s as if it’s going to threaten their manhood.” He said that introducing veganism to them at a strip club makes the notion more, well, palatable, even if the formula didn’t seem to work as well as he had hoped.

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A member of the Suicide Girls, tattoo-clad for a controversial PETA campaign.

Elaine Vigneault, 32, a vegan and former women’s studies major who lives in New York, doesn’t have a problem with a vegan strip club or a recent PETA protest in London in which a pregnant woman got into a cage in her underwear to draw attention to the treatment of pregnant pigs. “I think it’s really important that when reviewing and analyzing images of women, we take into account their perspective of what they’re trying to say,” Ms. Vigneault said.

Rory Freedman, an author of the “Skinny Bitch” books, which promote veganism in the guise of a diet, said women who are taking part in demonstrations and stripping off their clothes “are choosing to do so of their own free will.” The issues they are exposing, she said, “are the torture of animals that don’t have free will.”

Contributors to the popular feminist blog Feministing have criticized the emphasis of the “Skinny Bitch” books on weight loss, noting that some women with eating disorders use vegan diets to restrict their food intake. Ms. Freedman isn’t buying that critique. “It’s not politically correct to suggest women should be thin,” she said. “But it is healthier.”

Missy Suicide, a founder of the Suicide Girls, a Web site whose hundreds of alt-girl models post erotic pictures of themselves, has been a vegetarian since she was 6. She views her group’s participation in peta2’s “Ink, Not Mink” anti-fur campaign as both pro-animal and pro-woman. “We’re redefining beauty,” she said. “These aren’t the types of girls you’d see in most mainstream media as being beautiful.”

“Sexuality is what society will turn its head for more than anything else,” said Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, who added that the recent advertisements were just one of the group’s strategies. “We try to reach everybody in different ways.” She noted that the group has also shown naked men in ads.

Plus, she said, using female sexuality to draw attention to veganism is just one of many issues being discussed in the outspoken vegan community. “It’s not civil war,” she said. “It’s just a difference of opinion and people talk things out.”

Original here

Breast check confusion a problem

Breast examination
Thorough examinations are discouraged in the UK

Women remain confused about the right way to check their breasts for early signs of cancer, says a charity.

Experts say there is no evidence that rigorous monthly "self-examination" reduces breast cancer deaths and it can lead to unnecessary biopsies.

In the UK, the focus is on breast "awareness", rather than more complex and involved checks.

However, Breast Cancer Breakthrough says some UK women rely on US-based websites recommending self-examination.

There is a lot of information out there from the US, and this is easily obtained on the internet
Dr Sara Cant
Breakthrough Breast Cancer

The Department of Health has not endorsed breast self-examination since the early 1990s, but US authorities still do.

Women who follow the programme often closely check their breasts on the same day in each monthly cycle, feel them using a certain pressure, in a standing and lying position, and can view them from different profiles using a mirror.

They are told to write down details of anything they find in a diary.

The Cochrane review looked at all the available evidence on the success of self-examination programmes, principally two large studies of a total of 388,535 women in Russia and China, half of whom self-examined, while the other half did not.

The death rates from breast cancer were the same in both groups, while there were almost twice the number of biopsy operations - used to take a tissue sample for analysis - in the self-examination group.

This, said the researchers, suggested that self-examination could be leading to more women receiving unnecessary biopsies.

"At present, screening by breast self-examination or physical examination cannot be recommended," they wrote.

'Unaware of advice'

Despite recommendations against self-examination in the UK, charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said there were still likely to be many women who believed this was the right way to check their breasts.

Dr Sara Cant said: "There is a lot of information out there from the US, and this is easily obtained on the internet - and there are UK sites where this advice is given, usually with the best of intentions.

"On top of this, some women who started examining their breasts this way before the advice changed in the 1990s may be unaware that new advice has been issued."

She said that the best way for a woman to check her breasts was not to follow a strict examination routine, but to get to know what is normal for her, and feel them regularly for signs of any changes.

"We call it TLC - touch, look and check. This approach, coupled with regularly attending breast screening when invited, and modern treatments, has significantly reduced breast cancer mortality."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "The Department of Health's policy on breast awareness, which has strong support from the nursing and medical professions, encourages women to check their breasts for what is normal for them but does not recommend routine self examination to a set technique.

"There is no scientific evidence to show that a formally taught, ritual self examination, performed at the same time each month, reduces the death rate from breast cancer or is more effective than a more relaxed breast awareness."

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Record rise in sexual diseases among promiscuous young adults

A culture of promiscuity among the young has sent rates of sexually-transmitted infections soaring to record levels, doctors have warned.

Almost 400,000 Britons were diagnosed with diseases from chlamydia to gonorrhoea last year - the highest number since current records began three decades ago.

Overall, around half of the infections were in under-25s, despite this age group accounting for only one- eighth of the population.

There were 397,990 newly diagnosed STIs in UK Gum clinics in 2007 - a six per cent rise across all age groups

The Health Protection Agency, which collected the figures, said promiscuity was partly to blame for the record number of cases, with casual sex increasingly becoming 'part of the territory' for young people.

Better tests and shorter waiting times at clinics also explain the rise, the agency said.

Others claimed the rising rates were fuelled by the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which involves making contraception and sex education more widely available.

Since its introduction in 1999 the number of girls having abortions has soared, with some on their fourth before they reach 18.

Under plans revealed earlier this month, sex education could be given to children as young as four.

Government advisers claim 'gradual education' from then would help stop children rushing into sex when they are older.

Last year, 397,990 sexually-transmitted infections were diagnosed in those who had previously been free of infection - six per cent more than in 2006. Genital herpes saw a 20 per cent rise.

Rates of chlamydia and genital warts increased by seven per cent. The 16 to 24 age group accounted for 65 per cent of chlamydia cases, 55 per cent of genital warts and 50 per cent of gonorrhoea infections.

Almost 75 per cent of cases of chlamydia and gonorrhoea in women occurred among those aged between 16 and 24.

The HPA's head of sexually-transmitted infections, Dr Gwenda Hughes, said: 'Young people are disproportionately affected by STIs.

'This is because they are more sexually active, have more sexual partners, tend to have overlapping sexual relationships and are more likely to have casual sexual relationships.'

Professor Peter Borriello, the agency's chief expert on infectious diseases, said casual sex is increasingly becoming 'part of the territory, part of life' for young people and many more may be infected without realising it.

Sexual health campaigners said driving home the safer sex message is vital.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of the fpa (formerly the Family Planning Association), said: 'Education, information, accessible services and widespread STI testing are imperative in improving the sexual health of the population and especially the 16 to 24-year-old age group.'

But Norman Wells, of campaign group Family and Youth Concern, said the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy has encouraged young people to think they can engage in casual sexual relationships without consequences and has led to more sexual experimentation and more disease.

'The answer does not lie in yet more sex education and contraceptive schemes, but in honestly telling young people the only sure way to avoid being infected with an STI is to keep sexual intimacy within the context of a lifelong, mutually faithful relationship with an uninfected partner.'

Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: 'Sex education has not gone down in the last few years, yet the figures for STIs continue to rise.

'We are robbing our youngsters of their innocence and it is time they got it back.'

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One Hundred Push Ups Takes You from Zero to a Hundred in Six Weeks

one-hundred-push-ups.pngWeb site One Hundred Push Ups details a training plan for going from 0 to 100 push-ups in a matter of six weeks. We've discussed why the push-up belongs in your fitness routine, but we didn't offer you a good road to push-up bliss. One Hundred Push Ups takes a graduated approach to 100, with a very detailed plan and several levels depending on your fitness going into it. It's sort of like the previously mentioned Couch to 5k for your muscles.

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An Anti-Stress Pill that Prevents Your Body from Aging

Stress runs down the body's immune system, which is why people with high-stress jobs or events in their lives are vulnerable to illness. Now a researcher at UCLA has discovered the link between emotional stress and physical damage — and she's going to develop a pill that will allow you to endure stress without the nasty side-effects. And there may also be one good side-effect: Extreme longevity.

It turns out that when you're under stress, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol, which stimulates that hyper-alert "fight or flight" reflex. While cortisol is good in small doses, over time it erodes the small caps at the end of your chromosomes known as telomeres (the little yellow dots at the end of those blue chromosomes in the picture). Many researchers have long suspected that telomeres would provide a key to longevity because they are quite large in young people and gradually shrink over time as cells divide.

Rita Effros, the researcher who led the UCLA study, believes that she can synthesize a pill that combats stress by putting more telomerase — the substance that builds telomeres — into the body. This would keep those telomeres large, even in the face of large amounts of cortisol. It might also make your body live a lot longer too.

Effros told Eurekalert:

When the body is under stress, it boosts production of cortisol to support a "fight or flight" response. If the hormone remains elevated in the bloodstream for long periods of time, though, it wears down the immune system. We are testing therapeutic ways of enhancing telomerase levels to help the immune system ward off cortisol's effect. If we're successful, one day a pill may exist to strengthen the immune system's ability to weather chronic emotional stress.

And, perhaps, to live much longer lives.

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Disheartening news: A pacemaker can be hacked

SACRAMENTO—It's not something your doctors want you to worry about. Really. Still, it's unsettling: With enough time, energy and expertise, a pacemaker can be hacked.

Implanted devices that keep ailing hearts beating steadily need better protection, the team that hacked into one is telling regulators and manufacturers.

"This is not an important risk for patients right now," said Dr. William Maisel, a Harvard cardiologist. "We just want the industry to be thoughtful about where we as a society are going with these devices."

Maisel worked with computer experts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Washington to demonstrate that an implantable defibrillator could be altered remotely to deliver a dangerous shock or withhold a potentially lifesaving one. The group presented its findings at a recent symposium on security and privacy in Oakland.

It's a timely subject. The electronic gear that can be put inside the human body is becoming more versatile and easier to operate from afar. There is no known case of malicious tampering with a device inside someone's body.

The Medical Device Security Center, a collaboration of researchers from three universities, tinkered with one after buying $30,000 worth of commercially available equipment to assist the hacking. They ran tests that deduced how a particular defibrillator worked. They used that information to alter it from less than an inch away. Potentially, they said, an attacker could disrupt heartbeats, dangerously drain a battery or even extract private medical information.

The group suggests various strategies, including making implants better able to recognize unauthorized signals and capable of alerting patients to unwanted interference.

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14 New Questions for Cancer Research Maverick Zheng Cui

Word got out late last month that, after watching their new cancer therapy eradicate several disease strains in mice, researchers at Wake Forest University were preparing to conduct human trials. The scientific community—and the Web—were abuzz. Biochemist Zheng Cui’s controversial idea centers on pulling out healthy, cancer-fighting white blood cells from healthy patients, then injecting them into someone with cancer. His mice-and-test-tube success is the basis for planned clinical trials, but the established medical community isn’t quite ready to embrace his approach. But patients, Cui (pictured above at left) told PM in an extensive interview, are taking him up on the offer to pay for their own experimental treatment—one of many aspects of this research that deviates from medical norms. —Phaedra Hise

How did a single mouse start this research?
We started from one cancer-resistant mouse in 1999 and bred thousands of offspring who share the same resistance. We realized ... this could be a very good shortcut into the human therapy. But our approach is not completely in the arena of science because we jump over too many incremental steps, so that’s why if you review the general field of cancer treatment, especially cancer virologists, they won’t like his very much. We skip over all the incremental steps—“what is a gene, what is a mechanism”­—but in medicine you don’t really need that to develop a therapy. A physician will tell you it’s wrong, but the important thing for us is that it works. As long as it works, we don’t really care about how it works. Ninety percent of medical progress is made by the empirical approach rather than rational design. Rational design is, basically, when a human comes up with an idea about how nature should work and then proves that the idea is correct, before you actually develop something. But in empirical approach, you simply make observations and learn from nature: what happens, how you can take advantage, and then simply copy that. That is what we have done.

How does this apply to your research?
First, we had cancer-resistant mice and asked, ‘What can we learn from it?’ The reason it’s resistant is because it has very different white cells. So then that immediately prompted the concept of therapy, because you can easily transfer white cells. You can extract them as a therapeutic agent and give them to another mouse. It’s a therapy. It’s much better than to find the gene. If you find the gene, then you have to understand the mechanism, and you have to find a way to put the gene into the cell, into all the cells you want to, and that would not work very easily. The technology as we speak right now is not really mature for that area. You might have to wait another 10, 20 years before that technology catches up with the concept. However, what we found is a cell as a therapeutic agent, so why not go ahead and see how it works. It worked really well in mice, so the next question, very obviously, is can we find a similar cancer resistance for humans as a donor for a therapeutic agent. And the answer is yes, we did find quite a few of them

So you don’t understand the mechanism at work here?
A lot of people don’t like this because they said I have not a single idea of how it works. And I said, “Why should I?” If I can already go into therapy, why should I spend so much time now to find out how it works? That dispute was with the establishment, that’s why this trial has not been funded.

So how did you get it funded up to this point?
There is some private funding and the university put some funding into it. And also, at early stages when we studied the mechanisms of these mice, we had one Mitchell Cancer Institute grant, several small grants from Cancer Research Institute. But they all stopped funding me. It was kind of a strange situation. I thought it was our common goal to come up with a new weapon to fight cancer, but the moment I announced I had a new weapon to test in real human cancer situations, everybody shied away. We’re still looking for funding, and writing grants that get rejected. I think at this moment, we just say, there are a lot of cancer patients who want to pay for themselves, and for them, they can’t live, their money means nothing, so it’s an easy justification for them to spend the money ($100,000) they have to try to save their own lives.

And that’s enough to fund the clinical trials?

No, they could fund their own treatment.

If each person pays the $100,000 fee, then that is enough for you to go ahead and do a clinical trial?

And how many people do you have to get before it’s considered a statistically significant trial?
Well, our number is 22. That’s how many we hope to get. But right now our Web site ( ) has over 100 patients signed up. We’re trying to find the solution for a very profound need. We have over 600,000 people in this country dying of cancer each year. So for them there are no other options available to them because they are running out of all of them. The only thing for them is to wait for the inevitability. And instead of doing that, now we have provided hope, no matter how small it may be at this moment.

So, these cancer-resistant blood cells are something that a person either has or doesn’t have? Or is it something that a person can have at a certain point in life and then maybe not have at another point?
Oh yes, it’s a very dynamic activity. Not everyone is the same. Someone has higher activity than the others. Our fundamental theory about this activity is that it is much lower in cancer patients than in healthy populations.

And this treatment is something that could ostensibly treat any type of cancer? We don’t know until we try it, but we’re going to try all types of cancer even at this stage, except brain mass or brain tumor and leukemia, so these are two categories that we want to avoid until we get some safety data and then we can consider later on.

Where do you get the cancer-fighting white blood cells in people?
All we need is for donors to come in and donate 20 cc of blood and we will look for the ... criteria. We wish that we could build a donor registry first rather than look for a specific donor for every patient who comes in. If we have a donor registry, we can just pick and choose from existing people who have been matched already. You need a blood type match and also sometimes we have to mismatch. That’s to make sure that you don’t have close blood relatives to donate for you. That will make your donor cell linger in your body and cause graft versus host disease (GVHD).

Please explain GVHD for us.
That means the donor cells, instead of killing cancer cells, they start to attack healthy cells in the recipient. It’s a very nasty side effect of transfusion-related treatment. It gives you fever blisters and gastrointestinal tract infections, very nasty. It does kill people. But most people react with mild GVHD and it’s quite manageable. For most cases, if you say the tradeoff is to manage your own GVHD versus malignancy, I think over 90 percent of people would say I would rather deal with GVHD.

How does this compare with currently available treatments?
Chemotherapy does cure several types of cancer, some types of leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s, testicular cancer, and they’re all very responsive to chemotherapy at very high rates. But unfortunately, a lot more cancers won’t respond to therapy at all. We are hoping this radically new idea will provide some complement to general treatment so that people running out of options with conventional therapy can give this a shot and see what happens. At this stage we don’t really want to compete with conventional therapy, not taking away the opportunity because some of the patients can still benefit from chemotherapy. So the good thing is that in the worst scenario, if it’s not effective, if it flops in terms of a therapeutic concept, at least they won’t harm the patient like chemotherapy would.

How long will this study take?
We hope we can probably finish within two years. Right now we don’t have a lot of new issues [that have] come up to deal with all the paperwork along the way, but I think we’re moving forward really fast. I hope that we’ll get real transfusion in a month or two, but I could be too optimistic ... Our current operation scenario is that we have no sponsors and the patients have to pay for themselves. Down the road, we do have some paperwork in the making that has a financial sponsor to come in. I don’t know when that will happen, maybe a month or two, maybe six months, who knows.

How do you envision the study progressing? If we treat the first 10 patients, and the response is overwhelmingly positive, like we predicted from the mice study, we could stop the trial and move into the next phase already. The next phase is to try and see which type of cancer will respond to treatment better than the other types. And basically, it’s an accuracy study. Maybe at a certain point, we will have to move into double-blind. We have a pretty good idea about cancer patients, when they’re going to die! Sometimes we could be wrong, and you see the patient saying the doctor told me six months ago and I’m still alive, look how bad he was, and there are exceptions. You look at the entire group as a whole and the physician’s estimate is always right on spot. As a group, you draw the curve, and you usually don’t vary them at all. So if we move into that stage, initially we might do open label study and try to convince ourselves that we don’t need a control group. But if we later want to convince other people like the FDA or other scientists, then we’ll have to double-blind with a control. One group of people on standard therapy, one group of people on new therapy and see who lives longer.

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List: 10 things that are surprisingly good for you


Chocolate: the darker the better

This morning's news that nicotine could be used as the basis of a drug against Alzheimer's - and the fact that there's not too much other news around - got us thinking that maybe there'd be room for list of "ten surprising things that are good for you":

1. Chocolate. Everyone knows that chocolate is good for you, although unfortunately the dark and bitter kind is better for you than the sweet milky kind. It contains chemicals called polyphenols that reduce the presence of free radicals, which cause cell and DNA damage. It also protects the heart. The Harvard School of Public Health studied amost 8,000 American men aged around 65 for a five-year period and found that those who eat chocolate and sweets up to three times a month live almost a year longer that those who eat too much or none at all. "As with most things in life, moderation seems to be paramount," the Harvard researchers wrote.

2. Red Wine. Again, if you read a newspaper more than once a year, you'll have heard about the benefits of red wine, the "French Paradox" and the like. Like chocolate, polyphenols are the key - chemicals such as tannins and flavonoids in the grape skin and seeds that are powerful antioxidants. Also important are the procyanidins, which help to reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Another ingredient, resveratrol, slows ageing of the heart, bones, eyes and muscles and can even deter cataracts, at least in mice. As for chocolate, red wine must be consumed with moderation. Certain traditional red wines from southwest France, Sardinia and Crete appear to have the most magic ingredients.

3. Stress. Long-term stress is definitely not good for you but in short bursts - say standing up to give a speech at a wedding - stress can help reinforce your immune system. Experts say that stressful situations prompt the body's "fight or flight" response, which helped early man cope with the threat of predators.

4. Ice cream. Ice cream is low GI, which means it releases its sugar gradually into your blood afer you've eaten it, which means you're not left desperately craving for more. A 75g scoop of Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough ice cream has just 114 calories and 6g of fat against 511 calories and 43g of fat for a slice of cheesecake.

5. White bread. Common wisdom has it that wholemeal bread is better for you, but in fact white bread flour is fortified with calcium and iron as well as B1 and niacin. And because white bread has less fibre, it means that more of the calcium is absorbed. You should try to give the kids wholemeal as a rule but white bread does have some nutritional benefits.

6. Work. Hard work never killed anyone, goes the saying. Except in Japan, of course, where it kills dozens of people every year. Curiously, however, the experts say that work helps keep you healthy, not just giving you enough money to eat and fulfil your basic needs but reinforcing your sense of social worth and extending your life expectancy.

7. Like red wine and chocolate, coffee contains antioxidates and tannins that help protect the heart and unblock the arteries. It's also good for the liver - one cup per day cuts the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 per cent; four cups a day reduces the risk by 80 per cent, which is good news if you're on a red wine diet.

8. Baked beans. Despite soaring commodity costs, baked beans are still relatively cheap and are generally considered to be good for the heart. They also make you flatulent.

9. Guinness. Makers of the Irish stout used to market it under the slogan "Guinness is good for you" - until they were told to desist. Research published in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin suggests that they were right all along: a pint of the black stuff is as effective as an asprin in preventing blood clots, and much tastier. Again, it's all about antioxidants.

10 Newspaper lists. Counter-intuitive, this one, and a bit controversial. Experts are divided but anecdotal evidence suggests that reading long lists in newspapers can help reduce stress and the risk of "Karoshi" - the Japanese term for death by overwork. They're definitely good for newspapers: give a lowly-paid researcher or journalist access to a computer terminal, show them how to use Google and Wikipedia and you're sorted. On a slow news day, lists help fill up space in the Dead Wood Edition. Clever website editors commission very long ones to provide extra "hits" in the silly season, although they rarely bother reading right down to the final paragraph.

Original here

Fruit with six times the vitamin C of an orange heading for UK supermarkets

It is one of the strangest fruits under the sun and has been revered in Africa for thousands of years.

Now the bounty from the baobab tree is heading to our supermarkets after the EU agreed to allow it to be imported for the first time.

The fruit, which from the outside looks like a coconut, contains six times more vitamin C than oranges and twice as much calcium as milk.

The tart pulp inside the velvety but hard shell of the baobab pod encases small round seeds

In its native Africa, it has provided health benefits for generations.

The pulp, which is white, powdery and has a cheese-like texture, is extremely nutritious and high in anti-oxidants, iron and potassium.

The baobab (or upside-down tree, as it is also known) is cherished by locals who believe that its spirit protects villages. Only specially trained climbers are allowed to scale the branches to retrieve the fruit. Once the hard outer shell has been broken the flesh can be eaten straight away, although it has a slightly sour flavour.

In some parts of East Africa the fruit is covered in a red, sugary coating and sold as sweets.

Because the shell is so hard to crack, it will not be available to buy as a whole fruit in Britain.

Instead, it will provide ingredients for smoothies and cereal bars.

The fruit was finally allowed to be imported into the UK following extensive lobbying by Phytotrade

Under current legislation, foods which have not been commonly consumed in the EU before 1997 have to be formally approved before they can go on sale or used in European food and drink products. The organisation submitted an application for the fruit to be imported in 2006 and the EU yesterday announced its approval.

It is hoped that the demand will enable millions of poor families in Africa to earn a living growing and harvesting the fruit.

Gus Le Breton, chief executive of PhytoTrade Africa, said: 'The EU decision is a crucial step to developing the global market which could be worth up to ?500 million a year.

'Baobab is an ideal ingredient for smoothies and cereal bars, and its well documented nutritional benefits provide manufacturers with a new opportunity to target the booming market in healthy foods.

'Dozens of companies have shown interest in baobab since we submitted the application and many have already conducted initial research.

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Warren Buffett’s 7 Secrets for Living a Happy and Simple Life

Are you sold on the fake notion that owning possessions is the touchstone of your self-worth? Have you felt jealous and self-pity when a neighbor bought a new Mercedes or a new Yacht that you always wanted to possess? We all have.

If your paycheck is not keeping up the pace with your cravings for the new iphone, why not learn the secrets of simplicity from the richest man on the earth who still lives without a cell phone? Before you sink your money for the latest gadget what if you were to know that the Oracle of Omaha still has no desk computer in his modest office?

In this world full of the rich and famous, Warren Buffett remains the greatest investor ever born not due to his acumen for the wise investments that he has made during his life but more for exemplifying the greatness with simplicity. He’s full of wit and happiness and this is at the core of everything that he does.

Secret # 1 : Happiness comes from within.

In my adult business life I have never had to make a choice of trading between professional and personal. I tap-dance to work, and when I get there it’s tremendous fun.- Warren Buffett

This is the man who truly does what he loves. The battle between Productivity and anti-productivity blogs stems from their convoluted chains of frequently twisted rational to substantiate their claim that productivity is a force of an external demand - from an employer or a competitor. In reality, productivity comes from within. It comes from doing what we love and loving what we do. When we start trading time between our professional and personal life, we wage war in our own mind to justify our passion in terms of a personal benefit. In my business I have felt more stress and angst when I haven’t given all of my talent, hard work and passion to help others on a given day. The myth of working hard to make more money to buy more things throws us in the vicious circle of hallucination. Our happiness always remains imprisoned when we do work that we abhor yet justify doing it to pay bills for those things that we don’t need. I used to work even after buying my first hotel for many years to justify the fake notion that I needed additional income to pay bills. What I needed was to change my lifestyle to free myself from this never-ending rut chase.

Secret # 2 Find happiness in simple pleasures.

I have simple pleasures. I play bridge online for 12 hours a week. Bill and I play, he’s “chalengr” and I’m “tbone”. — Warren Buffett

If the man richer than God can find happiness in the simple pleasure of playing bridge online with another billionaire, I have to learn to be happy with the simple pleasures of playing cards with friends or playing with my children or taking a walk in the wilderness. All of these simple pleasures do not need extravagant spending. I used to go play golf with other businessmen when the local chamber of commerce sponsored an event. I never found happiness in those events as they were centered on generating more business and exchanging business cards than on truly enjoying the moment. I was allowing myself to be run ragged by trading business cards after hours in a vain hope of making more money whereas that time deserved a dinner with my family.

Secret # 3 Live a simple life.

I just naturally want to do things that make sense. In my personal life too, I don’t care what other rich people are doing. I don’t want a 405 foot boat just because someone else has a 400 foot boat. — Warren Buffett

The sad truth is that our ever-sophisticated advertising industry has conditioned our mind to find happiness from consumption by spending our hard earned money on the possessions that never bring us lasting happiness. We spend our life-energy on those possessions that we seldom use. We worry about making payments for a luxury car that sits in our garage collecting dust only for the right to brag about it in an occasional social gathering. Keeping up with the Joneses is the worst epidemic among those who should never contemplate that notion in the first place. If a man who can possibly buy a nation with his cash never espouses the mantra of “more the better”, I need to learn not to spread my legs beyond the reach of the blanket. We are conditioned to spend money before we earn it. We are sold on the fake happiness of “Buy now, pay later dearly” - It’s nothing more than buying possessions that we cannot afford. I have my share of insanity when it comes to mindless spending, but lately I try to pay for most of my purchases with cash. It creates awareness towards the impulse buy when I pay by cash. I have also started red lining items on the credit card statement that I consider useless spending. All of these efforts have built my awareness towards my impulse purchases. I have been using mantra of - “less is more” to simplify every aspect of my life. It’s a work in progress but the results are astounding.

Secret # 4 Think Simply.

“I want to be able to explain my mistakes. This means I do only the things I completely understand.” - Warren Buffett

There lies one of the greatest secrets of simplicity. Warren Buffett invests only in the businesses that he understands. If you ever read research reports from an accomplished Wall Street guru, you’ll find a plethora of details that make you dizzy. The success of Warren Buffett as the greatest investor ever lies in his ability to think simply.

I used to invest in the stock market in the mid 90’s when everyone wanted to make over night millions in an exuberant market. I used to read “Investor’s Business Daily” only to look at the movers and shakers. These were the stocks that made a significant upward move a day before. A few days before Christmas, I made $52,000 in one stock in a matter of a few days. I knew nothing about the company. I created a new reality for my thoughts that I had figured out how the Wall Street works. I was on my way to the riches. I applied the same thought model on the next several stocks. Needless to say, I lost all that I made and much more. I was lacking in a basic human quality that Warren Buffett has mastered well - common sense. It says a great deal about the character of a man who invested a measly amount in Microsoft despite the fact that Bill Gates is one of his closest friends. I learned a valuable lesson of life from this experience - “Not losing hard earned money is far more important than making more money”.

If I apply this rule in my life, I can develop clarity and sanity in my thoughts. Clarity is the mother of simplicity. Life is not a roulette; life is about simple yet profound choices.

Secret # 5 Invest Simply.

The best way to own common stocks is through an index fund. - Warren Buffett

It is astounding to know that the greatest investor in the world is not bragging about intricate financial maneuvering to impress the rest of the world with his financial genius. Instead, Warren Buffett shows us the most simplistic approach to our financial freedom - “Flow with the market rather than pretending to be smarter than God.”

In this world full of so-called financial experts, Warren stands tall by showing us the simplest way to the riches. The stock market has moved upward for the last hundred years despite numerous setbacks. He is using a long historical view to back his argument rather than making a futile effort to predict how we can make a quick fortune. After losing most of my capital in the late 90’s, I have precisely followed the simple advice of investing in the no-load index funds. I’m happier than ever and while my assets have not skyrocketed, they haven’t dwindled either.

Secret # 6 Have a mentor in life.

I was lucky to have the right heroes. Tell me who your heroes are and I’ll tell you how you’ll turn out to be. The qualities of the one you admire are the traits that you, with a little practice, can make your own, and that, if practiced, will become habit-forming. - Warren Buffett

We are worshipers of celebrity demi-gods. All of us have this acute desire to look and live like these celebrities. However, are they truly the ones with character and moral compass to lead us? Having a mentor is as important as having a purpose in our life but having a wrong mentor is as devastating as having a wrong purpose in our life. The mentor has to be someone whom we can trust and have an unwavering faith in his/her guidance. The mentor has to be the one who has made outstanding strides in advancing the greater and guiding purpose of happiness in his/her own life. You’ll find that person in your inner circle if you think hard enough. Write down why you admire them. Try to emulate their traits and as Warren has shown by his exemplary life, with a little practice, you can form a habit to clone the life that you admire the most.

Secret # 7 Making money isn’t the backbone of our guiding purpose; making money is the by-product of our guiding purpose.

If you’re doing something you love, you’re more likely to put your all into it, and that generally equates to making money. - Warren Buffett

warren2.jpgHow do you rationalize the richest man on the earth still living in a small 3-bedroom house that he purchased fifty years ago? Warren Buffett never travels in a private jet despite the fact that he owns the largest private jet company. His character and way of life speak volume about his greatness. This is the man who spent his personal time investigating a $4 line item on his tax return to hunt down the specifics of it while giving away billions of dollars to Bill Gates foundation. It is rare to find the richest man on the earth living without luxuries that we want to possess even by mortgaging our future. He has demonstrated that while valuing the worth of money is vital for our ingenuity and success, money shall never become the object and end all of our motivation.

I’m an avid admirer of simplicity, but I’m an even bigger fan of the man who has mastered the greatness by living and breathing simplicity amid an ocean of wealth. Do you agree?

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Background TV Distracts Kids From Play

(HealthDay News) -- Even if young children aren't watching the TV, it may be distracting them from their play and depriving them of developing critical attention skills, a new study says.

When children aged 3 and younger played in a room with a television on that was tuned to adult programming, they played for about 5 percent less time than when there was no background TV. More importantly, when there was no background TV, the children's play was more focused with longer play episodes, the study found.

"Background TV is a disruptive and distracting influence. Our evidence is that TV keeps the children from sustaining their attention at a time when developmentally, they're beginning to organize their attention skills and sequencing behaviors," said study senior author Daniel Anderson, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

"Parents think it [background TV] doesn't matter because the programs aren't directed at children, but just because a child isn't paying active attention doesn't mean it doesn't have a disruptive effect," he added.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children 2 years old and younger be exposed to no screen time. For older children, the AAP suggests limiting screen time -- including TV, video games and computer use -- to one to two hours a day of active viewing time. Guidelines haven't specifically addressed background TV.

Because many children are exposed to background TV, and the visual and auditory cues on TV change about every six seconds, Anderson and his colleagues wondered if this exposure affects very young children.

The new study, published in the July/August issue of Child Development, included 50 toddlers who were either 12, 24 or 36 months old. Each child was videotaped during hour-long sessions in a family-room type environment. Their parents were asked to limit their interaction with the children.

The children were randomly assigned to either play with no background TV for the first half hour or to play with an adult game show on TV while they were playing with toys. Then, for the second half hour, the children switched roles.

"Children's play episodes were shorter -- about half as long -- if the TV was on, compared to when it wasn't, [and] children were more likely to move from toy to toy during the time TV was on," Anderson said.

He said these differences weren't obvious if you were in the room with the children, but if you slowly reviewed the videotape, the differences became much more apparent. "The kids look normal. They don't look distressed or distracted," he said.

Dr. Daniel Bronfin, a pediatrician with the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, called background TV the "equivalent of secondhand smoke."

"All of the concerns we have with children watching programming for children still apply to secondhand viewing. It distracts from the work of childhood, from play," he said.

Bronfin said this type of constant distraction may be a contributing factor to the rise in behavioral disorders, such as attention-deficit disorder.

Both Anderson and Bronfin recommend that parents leave background TV off when a child is in the room. Anderson said that certain children's shows have value and children can learn from them, but that's different from background TV.

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