Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can't, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

One Mushroom Ragoût, Five Meals

I have never been a gravy fan, but I am a fan of what I call "Mushroom Ragoût Gravy," which is not a gravy at all but a mushroom ragoût, or stew. I always make too much. I double the recipe if we are going to be a dozen people, which we usually are during holiday gatherings, even though I know that nobody will have enough room on their plates for more than a spoonful. [..]

The recipe makes quite a lot of ragoût, but you won't mind having it around. It keeps for three or four days in the refrigerator and freezes well, and the leftovers can be used to make omelets, strudels and more.

Martha Rose Shulman

Mushroom Ragoût

This versatile dish can be used as the base for a number of other recipes or enjoyed on its own.

Mushroom Ragoût Omelet

A simple omelet with a delicious filling.

Mushroom Tart

Once the ragoût is made, this tart can be assembled quickly.

Mushroom and Wild Rice Strudel

Wild rice adds great texture to the "meaty" mushroom filling.

Quesadilla With Mushroom Ragoût and Chipotles

Mushroom ragoût forms the basis for delicious quesadillas that can be assembled in no time.


Docs Warn Against Raw Milk for Kids, Pregnant Women
By Brenda Goodman, HealthDay

Policy statement from pediatricians' group bolstered by Minnesota study on foodborne illness

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- In a new position statement, U.S. pediatricians say raw milk and cheeses are simply too risky for infants, children and pregnant women.

The statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics, published online Dec. 16 in the journal Pediatrics, urges parents not to let their kids drink unpasteurized milk or eat cheese made from it.

The doctors also called for a ban on the sale of all raw-milk products in the United States.

Study Finds Widespread Contamination in Chicken
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Potentially harmful bacteria and antibiotic resistance common in 316 raw poultry samples tested

Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Potentially harmful bacteria was found on 97 percent of chicken breasts bought at stores across the United States and tested, according to a new study.

And about half of the chicken samples had at least one type of bacteria that was resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics, the investigators found.

The tests on the 316 raw chicken breasts also found that most had bacteria -- such as enterococcus and E. coli -- linked to fecal contamination. About 17 percent of the E. coli were a type that can cause urinary tract infections, according to the study, published online and in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports.

In addition, slightly more than 11 percent had two or more types of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Colorado Meat Company Expands Recall

A Colorado meat company is expanding a recall of meat and poultry products that were produced in unsanitary conditions that included rodent activity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

The products in the expanded recall have the establishment number "Est. 20309" inside the USDA Mark of Inspection and include "Old Style Sausage" brand smoked Kielbasa sausage, "Old Style Sausage" brand smoked andouille sausage and "Corner Post Meats" brand hams and bacon, the Associated Press reported.

Many ADHD Drugs Linked to Painful Erections: FDA
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Agency wants drug labels to reflect this rare risk

Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- In rare cases, Ritalin and some other drugs used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause long-lasting and sometimes painful erections, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

If this condition -- called priapism -- is not treated immediately, it can cause permanent damage to the penis.

FDA Wants Tighter Rules on Antibacterial Soaps, Body Washes
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

Makers would have to prove they're safe and effective

Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it wants makers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to prove their products are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than regular soaps in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.

Unless companies can do that, they would have to reformulate or re-label these products if they want to keep them on the market, the agency said.

Antibacterial Soaps and Body Washes: FAQ
By Kathleen Doheny, WebMD Health News

Dec. 17, 2013 -- Even though the FDA has asked makers of antibacterial soaps and body washes to prove the products are both safe and effective long-term, the products won't disappear from store shelves -- at least not at the moment.

The FDA's request is a proposed rule. That means makers can still sell their products while they give the FDA the information it requested.

Here's what else you may want to know about the FDA's action.

General Medicine/Family Medical

U.S. Cancer Death Rates Continue to Decline: Report
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

But researchers added that people with other health problems have lower odds of survival

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer death rates continue to decline in the United States, mainly because anti-smoking efforts have caused a drop in lung cancer deaths, researchers report.

From 2001 through 2010, death rates for all cancers combined decreased by 1.8 percent a year among men and by 1.4 percent a year among women, according to a joint report from four of the nation's top cancer institutions, published Dec. 16 in the journal Cancer.

Typical Gum Disease Treatments Won't Ease Diabetes
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Despite ties between the two illnesses, gum therapies didn't help with blood-sugar control

Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Typical, nonsurgical treatment of gum disease in people with type 2 diabetes will not improve their blood-sugar control, a new study suggests.

There's long been a connection between gum disease and wider health issues, and experts say a prior study had offered some evidence that treatment of gum disease might enhance blood-sugar control in patients with diabetes.

New Blood Pressure Guidelines
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Expert panel says treating some earlier with drugs shows little benefit, but other groups express concern

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer people should take medicine to control their high blood pressure, a new set of guidelines recommends.

Adults aged 60 or older should only take blood pressure medication if their blood pressure exceeds 150/90, which sets a higher bar for treatment than the current guideline of 140/90, according to the report, published online Dec. 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Stress Gene May Raise Odds of Heart Attack, Death
By Maureen Salamon, HealthDay

Duke study finds genetic variation impacts those with heart disease

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A genetic variant occurring in a significant number of people with heart disease appears to raise the odds for heart attack or death by 38 percent, a new study suggests.

This "stress reaction gene," which Duke University scientists previously linked to an overproduction of cortisol, a stress hormone that can affect heart risks, was found in about 17 percent of men and 3 percent of women with heart disease.

Many Americans Don't Receive Preventive Dental Care
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

10-year study found some improvement, but continued gaps among racial groups

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Too many Americans lack access to preventive dental care, a new study reports, and large differences exist among racial and ethnic groups.

For the study, researchers analyzed telephone survey data collected from nearly 650,000 middle-aged and older adults between 1999 and 2008. The investigators found that the number who received preventive dental care increased during that time.

Many With Diabetes Don't Realize Disease Can Harm Vision
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Researchers say patient education, more proactive care could stop damage in most cases

Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Less than half of adults who are losing their vision to diabetes have been told by a doctor that diabetes could damage their eyesight, a new study found.

Vision loss is a common complication of diabetes, and is caused by damage that the chronic disease does to the blood vessels within the eye.

The problem can be successfully treated in nearly all cases, but Johns Hopkins researchers found that many diabetics aren't taking care of their eyes, and aren't even aware that vision loss is a potential problem.

Anxiety Tied to Stroke Risk in Study
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

But direct link not proven

Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Could anxiety boost the risk for stroke? A new long-term study suggests just that -- the greater the anxiety, the greater the risk for stroke.

Study participants who suffered the most anxiety had a 33 percent higher risk for stroke compared to those with the lowest anxiety levels, the researchers found.

This is thought to be one of the first studies to show an association between anxiety and stroke. But not everyone is convinced the connection is real.

New Insights Into Sleeping Disorder Narcolepsy
By Amy Norton. HealthDay

It may have its roots in immune system problems, study suggests

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A new study has uncovered evidence that most cases of narcolepsy are caused by a misguided immune system attack -- something that has been long suspected but unproven.

Experts said the finding, reported Dec. 18 in Science Translational Medicine, could lead to a blood test for the sleep disorder, which can be difficult to diagnose.

Experts: Don't Waste Your Money on Multivitamins
By Brenda Goodman, HealthDay

Three studies find the supplements don't help extend life or ward off heart disease and memory loss

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- With three new studies finding that a daily multivitamin won't help boost the average American's health, the experts behind the research are urging people to abandon use of the supplements.

The studies found that popping a daily multivitamin didn't ward off heart problems or memory loss, and wasn't tied to a longer life span.

The studies, published in the Dec. 17 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that multivitamin and mineral supplements did not work any better than placebo pills.

NIH, NFL Team Up to Take On Concussion Research
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

The goal: Understanding long-term effects of head injuries and improving diagnosis

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. National Institutes of Health is teaming up with the National Football League on research into the long-term effects of repeated head injuries and improving concussion diagnosis.

The projects will be supported largely through a $30 million donation made last year to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health by the NFL, which is wrestling with the issue of concussions and their impact on current and former players.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

E. Coli 'Superbug' May Pose Major Health Threat: Study
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Drug-resistant H30-Rx strain can lead to blood infection, researchers say

Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A single strain of antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria has become the main cause of bacterial infections in women and the elderly worldwide over the past decade and poses a serious health threat, researchers report.

Along with becoming more resistant to antibiotics, the "H30-Rx" strain developed the unprecedented ability to spread from the urinary tract to the bloodstream and cause an extremely dangerous infection called sepsis.

This means that the H30-Rx strain poses a threat to the more than 10 million Americans who develop a urinary tract infection each year, according to the study authors.

Women's Health

Older Women May Spend Two-Thirds of Day Sitting
By Serena Gordon, HealthDay

But, study also found they frequently get up and move about

Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Older women are physically inactive for about two-thirds of their waking hours, according to new research. But that doesn't mean they're just sitting still.

Although women in the study appeared to be inactive for a good portion of the day, they frequently moved about in short bursts of activity, an average of nine times an hour.

Antidepressants in Pregnancy Not Linked to Autism
By Amy Norton. HealthDay

Large study finds little connection between mother's use of drugs like Prozac and children's autism risk

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Despite some concerns to the contrary, children whose moms used antidepressants during pregnancy do not appear to be at increased risk of autism, a large new Danish study suggests.

The results, published Dec. 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine, offer some reassurance, experts said.

Dementia, Heart Disease Linked in Older Women?
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Study found 29 percent higher odds of mental decline compared to women with healthy hearts

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Older women with heart disease might be at increased risk for dementia, according to a new study.

Researchers followed nearly 6,500 U.S. women, aged 65 to 79, who had healthy brain function when the study started. Those with heart disease were 29 percent more likely to experience mental decline over time than those without heart disease.

Pediatric Health

Bad Night's Sleep May Raise Blood Pressure in Kids
By Denise Mann, HealthDay

Study from China followed normal-weight teens, and found a slight increase in pressure

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Kids who don't get enough sleep at night may experience a slight spike in their blood pressure the next day even if they are not overweight or obese, a new study suggests.

The research included 143 kids aged 10 to 18 who spent one night in a sleep lab for observation. They also wore a 24-hour blood pressure monitor and kept a seven-day sleep diary.

The participants were all normal weight. None had significant sleep apnea -- a condition characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep. The sleep disorder has been linked to high blood pressure.

Teens Opting for Real Pot

Dec. 20, 2013 -- While U.S. teens are staying away from synthetic marijuana, they're smoking more of the natural version, a new survey of more than 40,000 students shows.

USA Today reported Wednesday that high school seniors who said they smoked synthetic drugs such as K2 and Spice dropped from 11 percent in 2012 to 8 percent in 2013.

However, one in 15 seniors reported smoking marijuana daily in 2013, a sharp increase from only one in 50 reporting daily use two decades ago.

Diabetes Drug Tied to Weight Loss in Obese Kids
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

But, experts say drug isn't meant for that use, while diet and exercise have proven effective

Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children who don't have type 2 diabetes but take the diabetes drug metformin while improving their diet and exercise habits seem to lose a bit of weight. But it isn't much more weight than kids who only make the lifestyle changes, according to a new review of studies.

Some evidence suggests that metformin, in combination with lifestyle changes, affects weight loss in obese children. But the drug isn't likely to result in important reductions in weight, said lead researcher Marian McDonagh.


Keeping People With Dementia at Home Longer
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Addressing safety, medical issues key to independent living, researcher says

Dec. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Most Americans with dementia who live at home have numerous health, safety and supportive care needs that aren't being met, a new study shows.

Any one of these issues could force people with dementia out of the home sooner than they desire, the Johns Hopkins researchers noted.

Routine assessments of patient and caregiver care needs coupled with simple safety measures -- such as grab bars in the bathroom -- and basic medical and supportive services could help prevent many people with dementia from ending up in a nursing home or assisted-living facility, the researchers added.

Mental Health

Study Suggests 'Pothead' Stereotype Might Be Real
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Teens who smoked or had smoked in the past had shrunken structures in areas linked to memory

Dec. 16, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Shrunken structures inside the brains of heavy marijuana users might explain the stereotype of the "pothead," brain researchers report.

Northwestern University scientists studying teens who were marijuana smokers or former smokers found that parts of the brain related to working memory appeared diminished in size -- changes that coincided with the teens' poor performance on memory tasks.

Clues to Road Rage May Be in the Blood
By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay

Study finds link between levels of inflammation and explosive disorder

Dec. 18, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Recurrent, unwarranted blow-ups such as road rage may have a biological basis, according to a new study.

Blood tests of people who display the hostile outbursts that characterize a psychiatric illness known as intermittent explosive disorder show signs of inflammation, researchers say.


Americans Still Eat Too Much Salt: CDC
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

New strategies needed to reduce risk of high blood pressure, experts say

Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Americans' love of salt has continued unabated in the 21st century, putting people at risk for high blood pressure, the leading cause of heart attack and stroke, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

In 2010, more than 90 percent of U.S. teenagers and adults consumed more than the recommended levels of salt -- about the same number as in 2003, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Fiber-Rich Foods May Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

International study looked at fiber from wide range of sources

Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting the amount of fiber in your diet may lower your risk for heart disease, a new study finds.

"With so much controversy causing many to avoid carbohydrates and grains, this trial reassures us of the importance of fiber in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," said one expert not connected to the study, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

Walk More to Cut Heart Attack and Stroke Risk?
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

People with pre-diabetes appear to benefit from adding extra steps to their daily stroll

Dec. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Walking more is a simple way for people at high risk for type 2 diabetes to greatly reduce their risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 9,300 adults with pre-diabetes in 40 countries. People with pre-diabetes have an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke.

All of the study participants were enrolled in programs meant to increase their physical activity, shed excess pounds and cut fatty foods from their diets. The participants' average number of steps taken per day was recorded at the start of the programs and again 12 months later.

Amounts of walking at the start of the programs and changes in amounts of walking over 12 months affected the participants' risk of heart disease, according to the study, which was published Dec. 19 in the journal The Lancet.

Ear Acupuncture May Hold Promise for Weight Loss
By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

But small study doesn't prove it works, expert says

Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Placing five acupuncture needles in the outer ear may help people lose that spare tire, researchers report.

Ear acupuncture therapy is based on the theory that the outer ear represents all parts of the body. One type uses one needle inserted into the area that is linked to hunger and appetite, while the other involves inserting five needles at different key points in the ear.

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