Friday, November 23, 2012

Packing on the Pounds

The annual eating extravaganza lasts from Halloween through the Super Bowl. Most people estimate that they gain five pounds between November and the end of January. Actually, the news is not that bad – the average weight gain is one pound during the winter holidays. The terrible news is that the extra one pound is probably permanent, since few people lose it by the next summer. People who are already overweight tend to gain more than one pound and they too don’t lose it.

The tendency to pack on the pounds during the holidays starts in the late teens. People don’t just overeat at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner: there is more snacking, more alcohol and more high calories foods.

My recommendation is the two-bite rule. Have two bites of whatever you want. I assure you that the third, fourth and fifth bites taste exactly the same, so why bother?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Saving the Earth

It’s the shopping season and the holiday catalogs are arriving daily. It will be a long time before we are paperless. As inhabitants of this planet we need think about our use of forest products. It is important to ensure that healthy forests will thrive for our children and grandchildren. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) uses the power of the marketplace to protect forests for future generations. Look for the FSC logo on catalogs and other printed materials. If the printed material doesn’t have the logo (which looks like a tree), contact the merchant to insist upon the responsible use of paper.

When shopping, look for the green frog seal to show that a product is certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Why this matters: Farming and the grazing of livestock are responsible for 70 percent of global deforestation. By choosing products that bear the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, you’re supporting farms that protect soils from erosion and waterways from pollution and that support the well-being of farm workers and their communities.

You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to save the rainforest: Follow the Frog.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Almost everyone in the area has been without power for days. Some people are fortunate enough to have professionally installed hard-wired generators that click on as soon as the electrical supply is interrupted. These generators are located at a distance from the house and far away from windows. Other people will use ‘portable’ units that are typically only an extension cord length away from the house (and that cord may be run through the kitchen window). Another common tactic is to charge telephones in an idling car in the garage.

There is a considerable danger from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the latter two scenarios. An open garage door is not sufficient - an idling car should be completely out of the garage, since CO can accumulate in garage corners and under the vehicle. Things might seem fine to the person in the car charging his phone and listening to the radio, but since CO cannot be detected by humans, he may never make it from the car back into the house.

The consequence of a slow leak of CO into the living quarters may not be as dramatic but could be equally deadly. Unfortunately, 500 people lose their lives to CO poisoning very year and the numbers go up following hurricanes.

Carbon monoxide makes it difficult for the blood to deliver oxygen to the tissues.  It also directly interferes with muscle activity at the cellular level and can lead to “myocardial stunning” even if there is adequate oxygen delivery. Forty percent of those who survive CO poisoning will have permanent neurocognitive impairment due to damage in the brain cells.

Every home needs CO detectors. If the CO detector goes off, get out! Call the fire department once everyone is out of the house.

The basics about carbon monoxide poisoning.