Olive Garden to cut down calories in menus

Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, the fast food chain Olive Garden has promised to cut down the calories in the regular menus and to include healthier foods in them, Shine announces. The healthy lifestyle campaign led by the First Lady is determined to beat the child obesity pandemic.

Daren Restaurants Inc., the company that owns the Olive Garden chain, is determined to support the child obesity prevention plan initiated by the “Let’s Move!” campaign.  In order to do that, they will reduce the calorie and the sodium intake that is now present in Olive Garden’s regulars. In addition to that, the menus for children will include healthier foods.  With this initiative, Daren restaurants aligned to Michelle Obama’s campaign. “This is about companies like Darden helping parents meet that responsibility by providing healthy options”, the First Lady said in a speech held on September 16, in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Bob McAdam, one of Daren’s Vice Presidents, stated that the menus will not be changed entirely. On the contrary! In order to show that “it is not about telling people what to do, as Mrs. Obama stated, the company will keep the original menus available to customers, but in addition to those, they will also provide healthier options. This way, the parents are able to choose for their offspring whatever type of menu they think is appropriate, or like.

The healthier options include fruits, vegetables and milk as beverage. Unlike the original menus, which contain about 1,000 calories (60 to 70 percent of what a child should eat the entire day), the healthy menus will get to 50% – 60% of that calorie amount.

Daren Restaurants does not plan the food changes only for Olive Garden, but for all the restaurants the company owns: Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52. Their chains sum up a total of 400 million meals served per day in 49 states.

Fictional virus in “Contagion” could be real

Scientists claim that the fictional virus that started the pandemic in the new horror movie “Contagion” could be real. They state it is “very plausible” that such a virus exists and manifests in a way similar to what we see in the movie, Associated Press reports.

The experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that a virus like the one presented in Contagion has all the chances of being real. But don’t start panicking just yet. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the head of the Center says that “it’s very plausible” in the sense that the fiction virus has the characteristics of all viruses that would start a pandemic. The only thing that is out of proportions is the idea of a virus that is both very contagious and kills in such an alarming time.

The creators of Contagion have spent a lot of money and other resources in trying to give as much realism to the movie as they can. The have consulted real epidemiologists in order to get all the details correct. One of the scientists they collaborated closely with was the esteemed Dr. W. Ian Lipkin from Columbia University.

The actors were involved in those efforts as well. For example, Kate Winslet followed closely a CDC disease investigator in order to study the way she ought to behave and speak while impersonating one. And the results were better than expected CDC experts believe it’s a success. “It was very accurate”, said Laura Gieraltowski, who is an expert in foodborne conditions.

There are, however, some aspects in the movie that would not happen as shown.  One of them is the government’s decision to send only one investigator in the field. It the situation were for real, several investigator would be dispatched and they would be accompanied by other staff. Another one would be the killing rate of the virus. In the movie, it kills 1 in 5 people. In reality, a virus that contagious could kill 1 in 100 people. The explanation of the experts it’s simple. A virus which is that deadly does not give the infected too much time to infect other individuals, which stops the pandemic to a limited epidemic at most.

Apple juice: Dr Oz said no, but FDA says yes

The apple juice has become a national interest subject since FDA condemned Dr. Oz of “irresponsible and misleading” information regarding the arsenic in the drink. While Dr. Oz said it’s not safe to drink apple juice because it may contain arsenic, FDA explains the difference between the inorganic arsenic, which is poisonous, and organic arsenic, which is very common and is found in the apple juice, among other foods.
First of all, the apple juice types that started all the stir are the ones you can buy from stores and not the ones you make at home, from squeezed apples.

The Food and Drug Administration accused the Dr. Oz show of failing to present the things in an objective manner when talking about apple juice drinking risks. Dr. Oz said that when buying apple juice, customers should pay attention to what it contains. “American apple juice is made from apple concentrate, 60 percent of which is imported from China”, he says in the report posted on the website of his TV Show. “Other countries may use pesticides that contain arsenic, a heavy metal known to cause cancer.”

Dr. Oz tested several brands of American apple juice and claimed he found 36 parts per billion of arsenic in them. FDA ran its own tests and discovered only 2 to 6 parts per billion, which is too low to even be taken into consideration, according to the scientists.

 Henry Miller, former director of FDA’s Office of Biotechnology said that the claims the TV show is making something out of nothing. “This is the same sort of rubbish peddled by radical environmental activist organizations about pesticides”. The specialist said that in order to do the minimum danger possible to the body, the level of arsenic has to reach a certain point, that was not proven to be reached in the case of the apple juice. “Unless there is evidence that a substance is present at sufficient exposures and levels to cause harm, warnings about its presence in food is irresponsible alarmism.

Dr. Oz and his team on the show stand by what they initially believe. “The position of the show is that the total arsenic needs to be lower”, said Tim Sullivan, a spokesman for the TV show.

Dr. Oz: “Losing weight is not rocket science”

Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the most popular TV personalities and health advisors, is back for a new season of the “Dr. Oz Show” and plans to inspire more people to change their lifestyle choices into healthier and more responsible ones. After all, “losing weight is not rocket science”, he says, according to Fox News.

Returning on the small screen with a new season of his show, Dr. Oz states that the secret in losing weight stands in not carrying too much about it, in the sense of not putting pressure on oneself to achieve the goal. “In fact, the reason some people are thin and stay thin is they’re not working hard at it”, he explains.

Most of the people who have successfully lost the pounds and kept the off “have figured out a few simple ways of automating their lives.” Dr. Mehmet Oz concludes that it is all about finding simple rules that you can follow every day, for the rest of your life. “And if you don’t love doing it, it’s not easy for you to do, you’re not going to do it,” he adds.
But most of the times, people don’t know where to start. According to Dr. Oz, it all starts with how you decide to look at things. He explains that would be better to ask yourself that is someone close to you would eat the things you eat, and have your lifestyle, what would you do for that person? Then turn around the behavior towards yourself.

The new season of the Dr. Oz Show is planning on rewarding the winner of the “Transformation Nation” contest with big cash. The challenge will be launched in late September and the winner is looking at one million dollars.

Kate Middleton keeps her figure with Dukan Diet

The Duchess of Cambridge and the wife of Prince William, Kate Middleton, keeps her Barbie-like figure with the Dukan Diet. She has been an inspiration for women all over the world who want to lose some pounds, stay fit and eat healthy.

Kate Middleton followed the Dukan Diet just before her wedding. And she didn’t do it alone. Her mother, Carole, and sister, Pippa, also went on a diet. They were the first ones to introduce the diet at an international level and boost its popularity.

Dukan diet is actually very popular in France. Some consider it the European version of the Atkins diet. It was created by the French nutritionist Pierre Dukan and it’s not as new as you may think. The Dukan way of eating is over three decades old. The book, “The Dukan Diet” has been translated into 14 languages and its copies are sold worldwide.
The Diet has the advantage of not having to count the calories or measure the quantities of the foods you eat. It is based on a list of 100 allowed foods. It has four stages, each with its own food characteristics, in order to achieve the weight goal and also be able to maintain it:

Phase one: The Attack – in this phase you can lose a few pounds rapidly, consuming 72 of the 100 foods allowed. It is the phase where the metabolic rate starts modifying. It lasts 2 to 7 days. You can eat as much as you want.

Phase two: The Cruise – phase two allows the weight loss gradually (about 2 – 2.5 pounds per week). The other 28 foods on the list are included and you can also cheat with some “tolerated foods”. Any weight gain bans them, though.

Phase three: The Consolidation – its purpose is to prevent the future weight gain. Bread, fruit and cheese are introduced gradually.

Phase four: The Stabilization – this final phase has little restrictions. By now, dieters have learned to eat healthy and correctly, so they only have a few simple rules to follow from now on.

The Duchess of Cambridge is not the only celebrity who is a Dukan diet follower. Among the fans of the diet there are also hot Latina Jennifer Lopez and supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

Eating beans prevents diabetes chances

Recent results of a study developed in Costa Rica have shown that eating beans prevents the chances of developing diabetes. More than that, the study says that people should replace rice with beans, Reuters reports.

A study in Costa Rica, which was conducted on 1900 people, men and women, showed that beans have a positive effect when it comes to preventing diabetes. In fact, volunteers who replaced a rice serving with a beans serving lowered their chance of developing diabetes symptoms with 35%.

According to the experts, beans are richer in fiber, have more protein and have a lower glycemic index “meaning they induce much lower insulin responses”, said Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and representative of the team of researchers who led the study. Hu added that the biggest sin that the rice does is that it is “very easily converted into sugar by the body. It’s very highly processed, it’s pure starch and starch is a long chain of glucose.”

The study consisted in observing the diet habits of 1900 people from 1994 to 2004 and monitoring the health risks, including diabetes and heart disease.  None of the participants had diabetes at the beginning of the study. In time, researchers have noticed that people who ate rice on a constant basis and very often had a higher blood pressure and lower “good cholesterol.” Also, their waist circumference has enlarged. All these are rick factor for type 2 diabetes.

People who ate more beans had none if the symptoms mentioned above. Those who replaced rice with beans started experiencing the lowering of the blood pressure and a dropping in the other health variable values by 35%.

 According to experts, beans have the least influence on blood sugar, which puts them in the category of miracle foods.

Charla Nash’s face transplant is a success

Charla Nash, the woman who in 2009 survived a vicious attack of a chimpanzee, underwent a complicated surgery in May in which she got a new face. After being blinded and mutilated by a friend’s pet, the woman has now a new face and is adapting to her new looks very fast.

A few days ago, Charla Nash’s daughter, Brianna, and the doctor who performed the face transplant talked to Today.com about the procedure and the recovery process of their mother and patient.

One day, in 2009, Nash was at a friend’s house when the pet, a chimpanzee, suddenly attacked her, leaving her disfigured and blind.  Not only she lost her face in the attack, but she also lost both her hands.  In May 2011, the woman got a new chance that improved her odds of living a normal life: she received a full face transplant.  The operation was performed by a team of 12 doctors and lasted about 20 hours. Her new face started “accommodating” with the body perfectly. A few days after the operation, she regained the sense of smell and could already move her lips and smile.
However, the surgery did not go without complications. The doctors tried to attach new hands, but they were rejected by the patient’s body and had to be removed. Nevertheless, Carla Nash is now more optimistic regarding her future.  Her daughter Brianna, tells Today.com that she feels grateful having her mom back: “It’s so great that I can go do those things with her again, that I wasn’t able to do for the past two years. “

Three months and a half after Charla Nash’s operation, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac is very pleased with the results.  “I think we have most of the recovery to look forward to in the near future,” he said. Although she almost immediately started breathing through her new nose and mouth, Dr. Pomahac says that it will take longer to regain the motor function of the face muscles and that the process is years long.

Rapamycin helps reverse premature aging effects and possibly cure Progeria

Rapamycin, also known as the “forever young drug”, can help stop or reverse the aging effects and may possibly be a first step in curing a terrible disease like Progeria. A new study presented in the Science Translational Medicine, showed that the premature aging drug can extend the life for patients with Progeria as well as for people with a good general health state, Medical News Today informs.

The drug called Rapamycin is obtained from a substance found in the soil of Easter Island. It is also known as Sirolimus and, according to the scientists, it can reverse the effects of premature aging. Some say that it can do even more than that: it can add up to 10 years to our life. Sirolimus was first administered as an antifungal agent. Then it was administered after organ transplants because of its immunosuppressant characteristics, in order to prevent the rejection of the new organs. Its quality of inhibiting the cell growth led to detailed research.

First discovered in Rapa Nui, Easter Island, the substance is a result of the bacterium called Streptomyces hygroscopicus. It was first tested on mice in the lab and it has proven to be effective in extending their lifespan.

The latest study in the field was conducted on childred with Progeria (Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome), a genetic condition in which the cells in the body accumulate a great quantity of a protein called Progerin, that causes accelerated aging. This way, people with Progeria age 10 times faster than normal. So by the time a person reaches 10 year of age, the body is and feels like 100 years.

Rapamycin inhibits the accumulation of Progerin, which delays the effects of aging, adding a significative amount of time to the lifespan of these children. The researchers have concluded their study report by saying: “Our findings suggest an additional mechanism for the beneficial effects of rapamycin on longevity and encourage the hypothesis that rapamycin treatment could provide clinical benefit for children with HGPS.” One of the authors of the study, Dr. Francis Collins says: “ We found it pretty exciting that this drug has such a profoundly positive effect on cell cultures .”                      

Progeria affects 1 in every 8 million babies. The risk of the disease is the same regardless of the sex, ethnicity, or geographical localization. The signs don’t show up from the beginning, leaving parents thinking they have a perfectly healthy and normal baby. By the age of 12 months, the symptoms start showing. They include aging of the skin, hair loss, weight loss, atheroscletosis, hip dislocation and many more. The lifespan for those affected is between 8 and 13 years old.

For starters, Rapamycin treatment could add at least 10 years to their life.

The new diet trend: the Paleo Diet

Recently, a new diet, supported by scientific studies, has gained huge popularity, starting a new diet trend. The Paleo Diet promises the best feeding system for losing weight and maintaining your body’s health.

The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet is a type of eating very similar to what the people in the Paleolithic era were eating. The diet includes eating mostly meat vegetables and seeds. According to the scientists these are the foods that men are genetically programmed to ingest, thus making the body function to its optimum level. The Caveman Diet has been tested and has proven efficient in numerous real-life situations.

So how does Paleo Diet keep the extra pounds off? It keeps the foods that normally gain you the weight to a minimum. These include: grains, legumes, processed foods and fruits. The diet also promises to keep a series of illnesses away from you. Eating according to the Paleo Diet will ensure a better state of your immune system, thus minimizing the chances of some severe illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and a whole lot other chronic degenerative diseases.

One thing that you should keep in mind, though, is the relation between dieting and exercise. Even though the scientists and the nutritional experts will claim that there is no need for exercise in order to lose weight if you follow the eating rules of the Paleo Diet, exercise is a must if you want to look good slim. Losing weight just by eating right, without making changes in your exercise program, will not help you much. Exercise is also a part of the Caveman’s way of living, as our bodies have been designed to consume energy and thus exercise one way or another.

One unusual aspect of the Paleo Diet is that, unlike other diets, it actually encourages the consumption of meat, making it an impossible choice to those who have chosen the vegan way of eating.

What do you think about the Paleo Diet?

Medical journal: parents should lose custody of obese kids

The Journal of the American Medical Association says that parents who cannot control their obese children’s weight, should lose custody of the kids for a period of time. The medical journal is one of the most distinguished medical journals in the United States.

Associated Press announces that the Journal of the American Medical Association issued on Wednesday raises awareness in the cases of obese children and claims that these children should be put in temporary custody of the state if their parents don’t care, don’t know how or cannot face and manage the weight problem of their children. According to Dr. David Ludwig an obesity specialist from the Children’s Hospital Boston, the purpose of the operation shouldn’t be blaming parents and it shouldn’t be about parents at all. The main point is to act in the best interest of the young ones. And this is to provide the care these children need and legal tutors aren’t able provide for a certain reason. Ludwig assures the readers that the intention is not to separate the child from the parents forever. The state intervention “ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible. That may require instruction on parenting,” he explained. “Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention” these measures may be exactly what a child needs at that time.

On the other hand, there are specialists that believe the parents will feel like they are blamed, no matter the further explanations. Bioethicist Art Caplan from the University of Pennsylvania fears that we may be losing the sight of the main cause. He states that the obesity in children is not only created by the inability of the parents to watch a child’s diet, but also by the exposure to media messages that cannon be avoided. “If you’re going to change a child’s weight, you’re going to have to change all of them.”

However, all medical experts have one idea in common: obesity must be prevented so there won’t be much to treat anymore. At this moment, there are about 2 million obese children and teenagers in the United States. Although weight-loss surgery has been done on severely obese children, Ludwig outlines the possibility of the negative effects of such an intrusive intervention. “We don’t know the long-term safety and effectiveness of these procedures done at an early age.”