Tuesday, January 15, 2008

C'mon-Fight That Cold!

You already know how to catch a cold. Now learn how to knock one out. Flip through the Old Farmer's Almanac and you'll see how utterly pathetic we've been in our battle against the common cold. Take this strategy employed by American colonists: "(They) pared orange peels, rolled them up inside out, and stuffed them into the nostrils."Using rinds against the rhinovirus sounds brilliant compared with the device patented by Norman Lake in 1977 -- a modified clothespin. As the Almanac tells it, "the FDA told Lake he could not advertise his device as a cold cure but only as a way of 'keeping foreign material out of the nose.'"Not exactly our best moments. But the next cold season is going to be different. Our tactics? Speed and science. We've assembled the latest research on how to arm your immune system so it'll strike at the first tickle in the throat. Or immediately after a suspicious double sneeze. Or right after that vague, blah feeling begins creeping in. In the past we've always allowed the cold virus to establish a beachhead in our bodies before fighting back. This time, the second it lands, we hit and we hit hard.
STRATEGY #1: EAT THE ANTIVIRAL BREAKFAST Woke up sick and tired? Research shows that the right morning meal can help quash the cold virus. In a recent study from the Netherlands, researchers analyzed the impact that consuming a 1,200-calorie breakfast has on a man's immune system, versus eating nothing at all. They found that eating big and eating early increased blood levels of gamma interferon, a natural antiviral agent, by 450 percent. (Going hungry actually caused a 17 percent decrease.) More research is needed to determine if fewer calories will have a similar effect, but in the meantime, shoot for 1,200 every morning until your cold symptoms disappear. Not, however, 1,200 calories of pancake syrup. Instead, hit your quota by eating a bowl of Kellogg's Raisin Bran (with 2 percent milk), a glass of orange juice, and a toasted English muffin with peanut butter and grape jelly, followed by a Stonyfield Farm--brand smoothie.

STRATEGY #2: STRESS OUT YOUR SYSTEM If you get attacked at the office, strike back with stress. Expose yourself to short-term stress, the kind you have some control over, and you'll supercharge your immune system. Stress response is a normal protective coping mechanism, The body prepares itself for potential harm and activates its immune resources.To use stress as medicine, taking on a small extra project at work or helping a coworker with a task. It shouldn't take longer than a day or half a day. If the stress response is continuous, then the immune system will be suppressed. Already swamped? Play a video game when you get home; Bosch found that Xbox stress can also boost SIgA levels.

STRATEGY #3: BREW THE COLD-VIRUS KILLER Swap your 3 p.m. coffee for a caffeine-toting cold buster: green tea. When Canadian researchers added green tea to lab samples of the adenovirus (one of the bugs responsible for colds), they found that it stopped the virus from replicating. All the credit goes to EGCG, a chemical compound found in certain kinds of tea, but in the highest concentrations in green tea. Start pumping green tea into your bloodstream at the first sign of a cold and you should be able to stop the advance of the adenovirus. The best brand to brew? Tetley; it was one of the most effective in Weber's study. Note: To brew the maximum amount of EGCG, boil a mug of water in the microwave, toss in a tea bag, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey.

STRATEGY #4: RECHARGE YOUR IMMUNE RESPONSEWe love Carson, but call it a night. if the amount of sleep you're logging decreases by 40 percent or more (for instance, you sleep 4 hours instead of the usual 7), the effectiveness of your immune system will decline by 50 percent. And for the immune system to operate at full strength, you'll need to sleep a straight 8, the amount shown to produce the highest levels of "natural killer cells," which attack viruses. But don't knock yourself out with alcohol, including alcohol-spiked cold medicines like NyQuil. A single dose of alcohol impairs your sleep, Instead, wear light clothing--shorts and a T-shirt--during your waking hours at home; Japanese researchers found that this adjusts a person's core body temperature enough to improve sleep quality and boost the immune response.

STRATEGY #5: WORK OUT THE WHITE BLOOD CELLS It's harder to hit a moving target, and that goes for a cold virus that's throwing punches, too. In a recent University of Massachusetts study of 547 people, researchers found that the most physically active people had 25 percent fewer upper-respiratory infections over the course of a year than did the couch potatoes. Researchers believe that exercise may strengthen immune function, in part by increasing the body's production of white blood cells. If you exercise, you should see two benefits: One, you'll have a reduced risk of catching a cold, and two, if you're unlucky enough to get a cold, you should have it for a shorter period of time, That said, it is possible to sweat yourself sick. (Marathon runners are at a greater risk of upper-respiratory infections after a race.) So do this: Aim for 60 to 90 minutes of moderate activity daily, with walking counting just as much as weight training.
THE PREVENT DEFENSE: There are two ways we commonly catch a cold: by unconsciously putting our mitts in our noses or mouths or by sucking in the germs from someone else's sneeze or cough. Compulsive hand washing takes care of the first avenue of infection, but what about the airborne attack? Do the obvious--hold your breath for as long as you can after someone sneezes or coughs near you, . Think of germ-laden air as colored smoke, If you hold your nose, the colored smoke won't go in.

5 Wrinkle Prevention Tips

Wrinkles are a natural part of aging, like it or not. And while a face lift can hide what Mother Nature has ravaged, the best defense is to do all you can to prevent those laugh lines and crow's feet from forming for as long as possible.There is a proven bag of tricks to make you look younger--but you have to start early for these to work. To that end, dermatologists attending the American Academy of Dermatology's SKIN academy offered five tips to prevent wrinkles:

1. Use soap only on select areas of your body to avoid dryness."Unless you have really oily skin because you are a teenager or work with oils or gases, you do not need soap to get yourself clean. Pure water does the job to get you clean," advises Dr. Brian B. Adams, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Cincinnati. "However, you do need to use soap on your face, under your arms and in the groin area. As you get older, the use of soap on the rest of your body can unnecessarily dry your skin."

2. Don't smoke."Quit smoking or, better yet, don't even start! More and more young people are smoking and doing so to relieve stress, but it's bad for your skin and causes wrinkles," warns Dr. Flor A. Mayoral, a clinical instructor in the departments of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine. "Deep-set wrinkles will appear around your mouth from puckering, your skin will be dehydrated and dull, and you may experience premature aging."
Wise Up
3. Use sunscreen."Use sunscreen every day, preferably one with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays," recommends Dr. Sandra I. Read, an instructor of dermatology at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. "Today, many skin care products contain sunscreen and are multifunctional, which allow you to get many skin benefits from one application. This saves time and money. For example, to protect and maintain healthy skin, use a daily facial moisturizer containing sunscreen. You also can find body lotions that contain sunscreen. These products can help hydrate and protect your skin, especially areas of your body that are sun-exposed throughout the day--like your hands."

4. Eat a healthy diet."What you apply to your skin helps give it a healthy, radiant glow, but remember what you put into your body is just as important. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants can make a real difference in the appearance of your skin," says Dr. Susan C. Taylor, who is on the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University in New York City and the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

5. When all else fails, consider a non-surgical facelift.Dermatologists can help you turn back the hands of time with a non-surgical facelift. "For many people in their 40s, 50s and even 60s, combining laser and other light-energy treatments with botulinum toxin and fillers can take years off their appearance while maintaining a natural, youthful look using non-invasive procedures," advises Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauvar, clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine. "Some procedures, such as photodynamic therapy, can even remove pre-cancerous growths, improving the health of the skin."

Ouch! No More Sunburn

Ever wonder why people with light skin are at greater risk of skin cancer?
The Journal of Experimental Medicine has an explanation. In addition to causing sunburn, ultraviolet light also reduces the immune function in the skin, and that's what leads to skin cancer.
Researchers at Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine in London report that one hour of sun exposure can reduce the immune response of light skin by as much as 80 percent. By comparison, people with darker skin -- or those who tan well -- only have their immune response reduced by about 40 percent under the same conditions.
The researchers conclude that it's the reduced immune response -- not the sunburn itself -- that increases the risk of skin cancer.

Tempature Soil Before Planting

One way to determine the best time to plant is by soil temperature. Soil thermometers are available at most garden supply stores. Insert the thermometer two inches into the soil for cool season crops, or four inches for warm season crops. Average the temperature at midday for four or five days. You can plant cool season crops when the temperature is around 50 degrees. Wait until the temperature is around 60 degrees for warm season crops.

Sweet Reminders

Today, call your love's voicemail and leave a message reminding them of a special moment or time you had together. It could be a dinner, a party, a vacation... anything that was really special to the both of you. Your honey will love it!

Xtra Credit

Have you replaced your hot water tank within the last month, or do you need to replace it soon? Call your local electric company and see if they have a credit program. Some electric companies will give a credit - often of $100.00 - on your electric bill.