|Good bugs, breast cancer, pools, portion size, guys and eyes: As we roll into the last month of summer, keep the following on your wellness radar screen:
Microflora? Sounds like something found in your garden, but it's all about your gut. According to an article in a recent issue of The Medical Post, bugs called probiotics may be "the next big thing" in the treatment of gastrointestinal disease, including diarrhea, lactose intolerance, intestinal infections, even certain colon cancers.
These microorganisms, found in yogurt and other fermented milk products, contribute to the health and balance of the intestine. One scientist compared their future potential to the early days of antibiotics.
Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt, was believed to contribute to longevity in certain Eastern European countries. Edmonton doctor Richard Fedorak foresees a time when we'll move from probiotics as a food product to using them as drugs. For now, eat your yogurt!
Cook for the Cure: This unique program, a fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, puts the fun back in fundraising and works this way: You host a party or get-together for an occasion of your choice and invite your guests to make a donation to the CBCF instead of bringing a hostess gift.
The partnership, with Kitchen-Aid, makes it easy-peasy to host such an event and summer is the perfect time. Check out the information on www.kitchenaid-cookforthecure.ca or call 1-800-618-2873. If you're the host or hostess, you receive a kit that will walk you through your party; it includes party ideas, recipes from The Food Network's Christine Cushing, invitation/donation cards, and much more.
Summer smarts: According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in kids under the age of four. A recent article in the Society's magazine pointed out that while parents think they're protecting their kids by giving them swimming lessons, there's no evidence that introducing kids to water at an early age will reduce their chances of accidental drowning.
While learning about water safety and developing swimming skills and water confidence is important, close adult supervision is the only way to prevent drowning at this age. The bottom line: Just because your young kids have received infant or toddler swim classes, don't think they're immune to drowning. Watch them like a hawk.
Portion control: If you serve it, they will eat it. The current issue of the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter makes the point that kids served large portion sizes will probably eat more food than is necessary. In one study, when researchers doubled the size of lunch, the kids ate 25% more food and also took bigger bites of food. When they were allowed to serve themselves, however, they chose normal portions and took smaller bites.
The message is important at a time when statistics tell us that the obesity rate among children is rising. So don't think that kids will eat only as much as they need or want. Larger portions, served regularly at today's restaurants and also at home, mean they'll be gobbling too many calories -- just like their moms and dads.
What men don't know: Osteoporosis has become a hot women's topic. So much so that a recent survey indicates that men don't realize the frequency with which they are affected by this debilitating disease. It's marked by a decrease in bone mineral density which, in turn, robs bone of its strength and raises the risk of serious fractures.
According to St. Michael's Hospital's Dr. Robert Josee, evidence reveals a much higher prevalence of osteoporosis and spine fractures occurring in men than previously expected. Thirty-five percent of all osteoporotic hip fractures are found in men. You guys should ask to be referred for a quick and painless bone mineral density scan. Osteoporosis can be prevented, and successfully treated -- but fractures, especially in the elderly, can lead to death.
What are the 10 hardest professions on your eyes? Visine, manufacturer of an eye lubrication, is cornering the dry and irritated eye market. And some eyes, it appears, are more scratchy than others. Scratchy-eye professions include anyone working online all the time; truckers who have to contend with long tiring drives; bookkeepers and accountants whose eyes feel the effect of number crunching; skilled tradesman such as construction workers and carpenters who feel eyestrain from dry air and pollution; and waiters and bartenders whose eyestrain problems stem from smoky bars and late nights. The least dry eyes in Canada? Albertans. Must be that mountain air.