A Diet That Helps Soothe Osteoarthritis

A Diet That Helps Soothe Osteoarthritis - Easing arthritis symptoms isn't just about exercise and pills. The foods you eat could help joints with osteoarthritis feel better, too.

Food as medicine. It's a wonderful concept because it gives us an empowering and fun way -- eating -- to do something helpful for our bodies, like easing joint pain. And some day, doctors may very well prescribe exercise, medication, and a special diet to help keep people's arthritic joints healthy.

But right now, the only way diet likely enters your osteoarthritis conversation with your doctor is when you talk about losing weight. Because although there's no way to cure arthritis through food, if you are overweight, a weight loss diet may be one of the best things you can do for the health of your joints.

Still, quite a bit of promising research has shown that certain foods and nutrients may help ease osteoarthritis symptoms. More study is needed to confirm the results, but since most of the foods studied to date are good for you anyway, incorporating some of them into your diet could be a great way to support your current treatment program. And in the end, you may boost your overall health as well.

So think about your joints the next time you visit the grocery store. Here are five foods you may want to add to your cart -- and two you may want to take out:

5 Foods Your Joints May Love
  • Strawberries: Why? They are packed with vitamin C. Some studies suggest vitamin C may stymie the progression of osteoarthritis and the accompanying cartilage loss. Other good C sources: oranges, peaches, and red bell peppers.
  • Olive oil: You know how the Tin Man's joints loved oil? Well, your joints may love olive oil just as much. Research shows that polyphenols in olive oil may help reduce inflammation in the body -- always a good goal if you have arthritis.
  • Salmon: This fish is loaded with two joint-soothing nutrients: vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. If you are deficient in D (and many adults are), boosting your intake could help with osteoarthritis pain and disability. And omega-3 fatty acids have long been promoted by health experts for their anti-inflammatory qualities.
  • Green tea: This brew is brimming with antioxidants called catechins, inflammation quieters that could delay cartilage damage in people with arthritis.
  • Leafy greens: The more plant-based foods you add to your diet, the better it probably is for your joints. A Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes fruit, nuts, and veggies may help quiet inflammation. (Leafy greens also happen to be rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that seems to play a role in osteoarthritis prevention.)

Give These Foods the Brush Off

And while you're amping up your intake of fruit, veggies, and omega-3 fatty acids, here are foods you should consider scaling back on:
  • Corn oil: The fats in corn oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil are predominantly omega-6 fatty acids. And although these fats are not harmful in and of themselves, some research suggests that a big imbalance in your omega-3 and omega-6 intake could trigger inflammation. So use omega-3-rich olive oil whenever you can.
  • White bread: Grabbing high-fiber whole-wheat bread instead may help your joints in two ways. Early research shows that refined grains may be proinflammatory. On the other hand, high-fiber diets may help quiet inflammation. And high-fiber diets may help with weight control, too.

Treating Arthritis in the Kitchen

Currently, there is no guarantee that changing your diet will help your joints feel better. But most of the foods that seem to make the most sense for joint health happen to be great for your body in other ways as well. So the decision to eat right should be an easy one. ( realage.com )

READ MORE - A Diet That Helps Soothe Osteoarthritis

Mysterious 'Hum' Only Canadians Can Hear Is Debated

Mysterious 'Hum' Only Canadians Can Hear Is Debated - The cities of Windsor, Ontario, and River Rouge, Mich., are separated geographically by only a river, but when it comes to one highly annoying noise they are worlds apart.

That noise, described as a low-pitched rumble, has rankled citizens of Windsor since last year, prompting hundreds of complaint calls, leading one resident to create a Facebook page and spurring a senior aide to Canada's foreign minister to visit the city to investigate.

(Photo Credit: Notorious4life/Wikimedia Commons)

Testing conducted by the Canadian government determined the sound, known by locals as the "Windsor hum," came from the area of Zug Island, a 600-acre, steel industrial site on the U.S. side of the Detroit River, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The only problem? The nearly 10,000 residents of the Detroit suburb have no idea what their Canadian friends are talking about, or hearing.

The mayor of River Rouge, under whose jurisdiction Zug Island lies, told Canadian questioners last year that his city's budget does not allow for testing to track down the noise, according to the CBC. Further, the city's residents say they can't even hear the noise that Windsor residents say shakes their windows, rattles their shelves and may even be making them sick.

"The only place I am hearing noise from is Canada-from politicians complaining," the mayor, Michael Bowdler, told the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the American response.

Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality did look into the issue last year - examining whether noise could be caused by new machinery used at Zug - but found nothing, according to the Journal.

And pleas made by the Canadians to both the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have fallen short, with each saying it is a state, not a federal issue.

Meanwhile, Canadian officials are plugging on to try to quiet the noise.

Bob Dechert, the parliamentary secretary to Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, visited Windsor and Detroit late last month and met with both American and Canadian officials to address the issue, according to the CBC.

Still, the mysterious hum continues.
"The government of Canada takes this issue seriously," Dechert said in a statement. "It is important that we find a solution that works for the people of Windsor." ( ABC News Blogs )

READ MORE - Mysterious 'Hum' Only Canadians Can Hear Is Debated

Pumping Iron to Prevent Dementia?

Pumping Iron to Prevent Dementia? - Resistance training could be an important part of reversing memory decline in elderly women with mild memory problems, according to a new study published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada studied 86 women between the ages of 70 and 80 who had mild cognitive impairment, a condition where people have problems with memory or other brain functions that are noticeable but not severe enough to interfere with daily life. Predictably, this group of people is at increased risk of developing dementia. The women were divided into groups that underwent resistance training, aerobic exercise, or balance and tone training twice a week for six months.

The resistance training group had significant improvements in performance on a common test of executive brain functioning called the Stroop Test. They also had improvements in a separate test of associative memory, which refers to the ability of one thought or memory to trigger another. For example, to most humans, the color green means go. Impairment in associative memory is common in early Alzheimer’s dementia.

Using functional MRI studies among the groups, the researchers demonstrate increased blood flow to key areas of the brain that was associated with the improved performance on the cognitive tests. However, unlike in prior studies, there was no benefit of the aerobic training group on cognitive testing, though their cardiovascular performance was improved.

This is the first study that demonstrates the benefits of resistance exercises in those who already suffer from cognitive impairment. And while this is a small study that provides preliminary evidence of benefit, study author Teresa Liu-Ambrose says, “Exercise is attractive as a prevention strategy for dementia as it is universally accessible and cost-effective.”

Worldwide, one case of dementia is detected every seven seconds, and with the aging of baby boomers, those numbers are on the rise.

So is it time to start recommending strength training to the elderly, especially those with cognitive impairment to try and ward off dementia?

Zaven S. Khachaturian, president of the Campaign to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease by 2020, finds the research promising, but thinks not quite yet. He says more research is needed in larger studies to confirm these findings.

Dr. Richard Caselli, professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic, agrees.

“When advising patients, I do inform them that physical activity, exercise, and good fitness generally is healthful,” he says. “We have known that for years as regards to cardiovascular health, so even if we turn out to be wrong about possibly preventing or slowing dementia onset, it is still good medical advice.” ( ABC News )

READ MORE - Pumping Iron to Prevent Dementia?

Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field

Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field - Two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have identified cells in pigeons’ brains that serve as a kind of biological compass.

Birds are famously good navigators. Some migrate thousands of miles, flying day and night, even when the stars are obscured. And for decades, scientists have known that one navigational skill they employ is an ability to detect variations in the earth’s magnetic field.

Nigel Roddis/Reuters


Pigeons are able to record detailed information on the earth's magnetic field, according to a new study.

How this magnetic sense works, however, has been frustratingly difficult to figure out.

Now, two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman, have solved a central part of that puzzle, identifying cells in a pigeon’s brain that record detailed information on the earth’s magnetic field, a kind of biological compass.

“It’s a stunning piece of work,” David Keays of the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna wrote in an e-mail. “Wu and Dickman have found cells in the pigeon brain that are tuned to specific directions of the magnetic field.”

Their report appeared online in Science Express on Thursday. Kenneth Lohmann at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who also studies magnetic sensing, said in an e-mail that the study was “very exciting and important.”

Navigating by magnetism includes several steps. Birds have to have a way to detect a magnetic field, and some part of the brain has to register that information; it seems likely that another part of the brain then compares the incoming information to a stored map.

The Baylor researchers have offered a solution to the middle step. They identified a group of cells in the brainstem of pigeons that record both the direction and the strength of the magnetic field. And they have good, but not conclusive, evidence to suggest that the information these cells are recording is coming from the bird’s inner ear. Dr. Dickman said this research “is still something we want to pursue.”

They did not work on the third step, but Dr. Dickman said a good candidate for the location of that map was the hippocampus, the brain region involved in memory of locations in both birds and humans.

A well-known and often-mentioned study of London taxi drivers showed that experienced drivers with a mental map of London had a hippocampus larger in one area than people without their experience. In some birds that hide seeds and return later to their caches with astonishing accuracy, the hippocampus grows and shrinks seasonally, presumably as they map their hiding spots.

Efforts to understand the magnetic sense in birds have gone in several directions. Some researchers have offered evidence for chemical reactions in the eyes sensitive to magnetic signals, while others have looked at neurons in the beak that they thought contained minute amounts of magnetite, a mineral that is affected by magnetic fields.

Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Keays and colleagues reported in the journal Nature that the idea of neurons in the beak was a nonstarter.

The Baylor researchers did a kind of step-by-step tracking of what areas in pigeons’ brains were responding to variations in an artificial magnetic field that they created. They focused on activity in the brainstem, one of the most primitive parts of the brain, partly because in earlier work they had shown that this area of the brain received signals from a part of the inner ear.

By looking at specific neurons in this part of the brain, the researchers found that the bird’s orientation determined which neurons were active. Each neuron was tuned to respond to signals from one direction. The neurons also registered the strength of the magnetic field.

Other brain regions are also active in response to magnetic stimulation and may be involved in the magnetic sense, Dr. Dickman said. And although he does not provide an answer to how birds detect magnetism, the research clearly falls on one side of a debate over whether magnetite is involved, or whether chemical reactions in the eye may be the key.

Dr. Keays said the research gave strong support to the magnetite idea and the hypothesis that “a population of undiscovered magnetoreceptive cells reside in the pigeon’s ear.”

As Dr. Lohmann said, the discovery “will no doubt inspire much additional work in the future.” ( nytimes.com )

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 30, 2012
An article on Friday about a magnetic sense that helps birds navigate misidentified an iron-containing substance found in a recent analysis of beaks.

READ MORE - Study Sheds Light on How Birds Navigate by Magnetic Field

Who Knew there were Breasts Under that Burka?

Who Knew there were Breasts Under that Burka? - A particularly stunning piece of photography has recently come under attack in Canada from some offended parts of the Muslim world:

An art student who wears Muslim headdress is defending her right to freedom of expression after a photo she snapped was removed from public display at a British Columbia university.

The large black and white print depicts a woman in full Islamic scarf and cloak holding a flower-embossed bra while folding laundry.


Not long after it had been hung in the school hallway, she overheard a woman who also wears a head scarf saying she had peeled the artwork off the wall.


The 24-year-old photographer, who grew up in small town Northern B.C. and has been studying at the B.C. Interior institution for several years, said the reaction was unexpected.

"I found it really intrusive," she said of the unilateral move to censor her work.


Since the incident was made public, an education centre in Kamloops funded by the Saudi Arabian Embassy has gone public with its opposition as well, Graham said.

The photo  is certainly striking. Angelina Chapin notes in Huffington Post Canada that the photo invites a much more extensive discussion about the role that lingerie plays in the Muslim world:

Numbers usually work to calm down hysteria so here are a few: The market for underwear in Saudi Arabia, for example, was US$1 billion a year in 2010, according to Reem Assaad, a banker and financial analyst based in Jeddah. Last year, I wrote a story for Canadian Business magazine titled the "Undercover Economy," about lingerie in the Middle East. What I uncovered was that the industry is thriving there more than it is in North America.

You think Europe is sexy? A 2010 advertisement for Motexha, the Middle East's largest garment, textile, leather and fashion accessories trade event, boasts that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia account for 77 per cent of Europe's total lingerie exports. At the time I wrote this article -- September 2011 -- La Senza had 44 stores in Saudia Arabia, and 52 others in the Middle East.

Perhaps the most fascinating point that Chapin makes is that in some parts of the Muslim world, the types of undergarments that would have been worn under that niqab would be much more sensational then what showed up in the photo:

Then there are other, darker reasons why women wear lingerie. In Syria, for example, it's common for a man to have multiple wives, and buying sexy undergarments is a way for a woman to gain his favour over the others. As a result, the lingerie markets in Syria (yes, these exist) have bras and panties that would make full-grown North American women blush. Think light-up Tweety Birds on the crotch, buttons you press to hear music, and a lot of feathers. ( thedailybeast.com )

READ MORE - Who Knew there were Breasts Under that Burka?

The Mystery of the Flying Laptop

The Mystery of the Flying Laptop - The T.S.A. doesn’t ask for a special look at devices like smartphones, tablets and netbooks that work much like a laptop computer but are smaller.

Standing in line at security at San Francisco International Airport not long ago, family in tow, I dutifully pulled the laptop out of my bag and placed it in a separate bin for its solo trip through the X-ray machine. I also had an iPad in my backpack, so I caught the eye of a security agent. “Excuse me, does the iPad come out too?” I asked. 
“Not here,” she said. “Other airports might be different.”

Reed Saxon, via Associated Press (Vita)

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This was not the moment for a follow-up question, but I was curious: What’s the distinction between the devices? Similar shapes, many similar functions, the tablet is thinner but not by much. Is the iPad a lower security risk? What about the punier laptop-like gadgets, the netbooks and ultrabooks? What about my smartphone?

Safely back at my desk, where a follow-up question wouldn’t risk triggering delays that could spread throughout the nation’s air traffic system, I began investigating what seems like an existential question for the digital age: When is a laptop a laptop?

There must be a reason the laptop is singled out as the bad boy of electronics at the airport. Or has the world of gadgets moved so quickly since 2001 when the laptop rule went into effect — and back when the tablet and smartphone were still in the incubator — that federal regulators have not kept up?

I called Bruce Schneier, the security chief for British Telecom and a long-time security expert with hundreds of thousands of miles of airline travel under his belt (a belt that, he noted with pride, never beeps in security because he’s chosen it carefully). If the laptop question confused me, it had him sounding baffled.

“Is it thicker than an inch, wider than a piece of paper, bluer than the sky? Who cares? It’s all nonsense,” said Mr. Schneier, who is also the author of a new book on the psychology of security, “Liars and Outliers.”

Next stop: T.S.A. They ought to know, right? It’s their rule.

A spokesman said the agency has its reasons for still requiring that traditional laptops go through X-ray machines in a separate bin. But he declined to share them, saying the agency didn’t want to betray any secrets.

As I did more reporting, the logic behind the rule grew as elusive as a free power outlet in the boarding area. Is size the issue? If so, security experts counter, today’s laptops are far thinner than they used to be.

Could it be because laptops, unlike tablet computers, have an easily removable battery compartment and hard drive that could be used to hide homemade bombs? But some netbooks and ultrabooks have similar compartments, and they don’t require separate screening. Strike two.

Perhaps, I thought, it’s because the circuitry of a laptop can be replaced with a device to send an electromagnetic signal to jam an airplane’s controls at takeoff or landing. But, as I soon learned, the same circuitry could be embedded just as easily in phones, watches or game players, all of which stay in the bag.

I was starting to feel like a Monty Python character, riding a pretend horse, clomping my coconut halves together to simulate the sound of horse hooves. A comical quest for a mythical grail.

The T.S.A. wouldn’t comment, obviously, on whether laptops are better carrying cases for bombs. But the agency’s “blogger team” was on the case, having published several posts that acknowledge the potential confusion created by the popularity of so many new gadgets like digital readers and tablets.

“I’ve read many a post from people wondering if these items should be treated like a laptop and removed from their carry-on bags,” reads the first T.S.A. post on the subject, from April 2010, in an explanation signed “Blogger Bob, T.S.A. Blog Team.” Bob then writes: “Great question!”

Right, like quantum mechanics. About six months later, Bob chimed in again, writing a post in response to questions about the MacBook Air, a new line of slimmer Apple laptops. He reiterated the previous rules but added an extra rule related to screen size, measured in inches.

Imagemore Co., Ltd./Corbis

A laptop, always relegated to a separate bin, gets the X-ray once-over in an airport security line.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

“With those rules in mind, the 11” model of the MacBook Air is fine to leave in your bag, and the 13” model must be removed prior to X-ray screening.”

So wait. Screen size is the guiding principle? At last, fellow travelers, a lead. I went back to present my smoking gun to security.

Michael McCarthy, a T.S.A. spokesman, would only reiterate the agency’s position about laptops, declining to elaborate. The blog post from November concludes by offering, if not more clarity, then at least good wishes: “Removing laptops or anything resembling a laptop has become part of our security DNA, so we thought it best to send out a refresher to our workforce. Enjoy your gadgets! I know I do ... ”

Insert sound of clomping coconuts. This quest wasn’t leading to clear answers, nor particular enjoyment, just more theories.

So I turned to Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst, who, it seemed, might finally put the matter to rest. “I can only assume that it’s the volume of the device,” he began promisingly. “But,” he continued, “some laptops and certainly many netbooks are actually smaller than the so-called tablets. Yet by being a so-called laptop they would probably fall under the security net.” He paused, then added, “It’s a difference without a distinction, at least from a security standpoint.”

BACK to zero. Until I happened upon a security expert who asked that he not be identified because he has worked on related issues with the Department of Homeland Security. He said that the laptop rule is about appearances, giving people a sense that something is being done to protect them. “Security theater,” he called it.

Mystery solved? Quest completed or at least abandoned, coconuts retired. Maybe this wasn’t about security after all; it was about making us think it is about security.

Just when I’d decided it was time to limit my airport questions to asking about the whereabouts of the nearest power outlet, this source added an ominous twist: If the government really wanted to cover the dangers posed by electronics, he said, it would need to carefully inspect all manner of electronics, from phones to netbooks to tablets, to look for increasingly small and sophisticated weapons.

However, he added, “banning every computer-related device on planes would be absurd.” ( nytimes.com )

READ MORE - The Mystery of the Flying Laptop

Kenya to toughen poaching sentences to save elephants

Kenya to toughen poaching sentences to save elephants - Kenya plans to bolster current lenient sentences for convicted wildlife poachers or ivory smugglers in a bid to stamp out a spike in elephant killings, the government said on Saturday.

"We intend to fight poachers at all levels to save our elephants," government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said in a statement.

A major obstacle to this is that Kenyan courts are currently limited in their powers to jail or fine those convicted of wildlife crimes, he said.


AFP/AFP/File - An elephant at the Amboseli game reserve in Kenya on December 30, 2012. Kenya plans to bolster current lenient sentences for convicted wildlife poachers or ivory smugglers in a bid to stamp out a spike in elephant killings, the government said

"One of the major setbacks are lenient penalties and sentencing for wildlife crime by the courts," he said.

"The government is concerned about this and has facilitated the process of reviewing the wildlife law and policy with a view to having more deterrent penalties and jail terms."

Poaching has recently risen sharply in east Africa, with whole herds of elephants massacred for their ivory. Rhinos have also been targeted.

Passing tougher wildlife laws will be made a priority for Kenya's parliament, elected last month but which has yet to begin business.

"We look forward to... parliament giving priority to passing of a new wildlife law and policy," Kariuki added.

Kenya's current wildlife act caps punishment for the most serious wildlife crimes at a maximum fine of 40,000 Kenyan shillings (470 dollars, 365 euros), and a possible jail term of up to 10 years.

Last month, a Chinese smuggler caught in Kenya with a haul of ivory was fined less than a dollar (euro) a piece.

The smuggler, who was arrested carrying 439 pieces of worked ivory while in transit in Nairobi as he travelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Hong Kong, was fined $350 (270 euros) and was then set free.

Such fines pose little if any deterrence, with experts suggesting a kilogramme of ivory has an estimated black market value of some $2,500.

Last year poachers slaughtered 384 elephants in Kenya, up from 289 in 2011,according to official figures, from a total population of around 35,000. This year, poachers have already shot dead 74.

Tourism is one of Kenya's most important foreign currency earners.

In addition, a thousand new wildlife officers "will soon be recruited to beef up the ranger force" as part of strengthening operations "with a view to stamping out the poaching menace", Kariuki added.

The illegal ivory trade is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used to make ornaments and in traditional medicine.

Trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after elephant populations in Africa dwindled from millions in the mid-20th century to some 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Africa is now home to an estimated 472,000 elephants, whose survival is threatened by poaching as well as a rising human population that is encroaching on their habitat.

Kenya is also a transit point for ivory smuggled from across the region.

In January, officials in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa seized more than two tonnes of ivory, which had reportedly come from Tanzania and was destined for Indonesia. ( AFP )

READ MORE - Kenya to toughen poaching sentences to save elephants