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The perks of bringing your pet to work

Imagine having man’s best friend—your pooch—sleeping at your feet while you’re crunching numbers at work, lifting his furry chin for a scratch when your stress starts to rise, or nudging you for a fast game of fetch in the conference room. Well, companies like Zynga, Amazon, Ben & Jerry's, Clif bar and Google and even the U.S. Congress allow dogs at work. Why? Executives are well aware of the stress-reducing and team-building benefits to employees when they have their faithful companions by their desk chair side. These benefits are not just wishful thinking among dog lovers. A study in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that stress declined over the course of a day in employees who brought their dog to work, while it rose for dog owners who left their pups at home and for non dog-owners. Though it was a small study, there’s plenty of research showing that having a pet or just petting a dog for 15 minutes reduces stress. There are other benefits as well: • Having dogs in the office can bring co-workers together and enhance social interaction. • Studies show that dogs in the workplace have a positive effect on employee, business and organizational health. • You’ll take more mini-breaks to interact with your dog. These are great for reducing stress and more stress-busting than browsing the web for your mini-break. • Your doggie needs to be walked, which gets you off your butt and out in the fresh air once or twice a day. The downside is that you may have co-workers who are allergic or just not big fans of dogs. They may even feel ostracized by not being part of the dog crowd. Some companies that allow dogs at work require employees to register their dogs, filling out a form about their health and temperament, to insure that their dog won’t hurt anyone or spread fleas through the office. At Softchoice, a New York City-based technology service provider, each dog owner has to prove to a “Dog Committee” that their puppy is office-friendly. The committee has a three-strike system for dogs that misbehave. If you want to give it a go, tell your boss about Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 21st. Here are some ground rules from the TYDTWD website: 1) Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work for TYDTWD. 2) Dog-proof your work space. Remove poisonous plants, hide electrical cords and wires, and secure toxic items such as correction fluid, permanent markers, etc. 3) Give your dog a bath before he goes to work with you. 4) Don’t bring an aggressive or overly shy dog to work. 5) Prepare a doggie bag with bowls, food, a leash and clean up bags. 6) Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog and don’t get angry with your colleagues who just aren’t into Fluffy.Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including “Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility.” Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/18/perks-bringing-your-pet-to-work/

Walking after meals may reduce diabetes risk

Doctors have long recommended exercise to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in those at high risk for the condition. But a new study found that doing a short walk right after you eat may be the simplest and most effective strategy, especially for older adults. The study,  published in Diabetes Care, found that a 15-minute walk about a half an hour after each meal was as effective at reducing blood sugar as a single 45-minute morning or late afternoon walk.  But researchers found that the quick walk after dinner was even more effective than the longer afternoon walk in lowering blood sugars (glucose) over night into the next day. “The post-meal exercise was especially efficient at lowering the 3-hour post-dinner blood sugar glucose,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Loretta DiPietro, chair of the department of exercise science at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. The study also found that the most effective time to go for a post-meal walk was after the evening meal. Dinner is usually the largest meal of the day, causing the greatest rise in blood sugar, which lasts into the night and the next morning. These affects were significantly reduced by the after dinner walk.    This is an important finding for older people. As you age, your insulin response to help shuttle sugar out of the bloodstream becomes sluggish. Insulin levels also start to fall in the afternoon and into the evening, adding to the weaker response to sugars you consume. Many people end up sitting around after dinner and going to bed with very high blood sugar levels – which according to DiPietro – is the worst thing you can do. When you exercise, contracting muscles help to clear sugar from the blood and get it stored in the muscles or liver. In this study, older adults walked at a moderate pace, not a brisk walk and not a leisurely stroll. This study, though small, was one of the first to look at the timing of exercise. The general recommendations are to get 150 minutes of exercise a week or at least 30 minutes five days a week. But the study looked at what happened a half an hour after a meal, during the time when sugar begins to flood the blood stream. “When you look at the data, you can see the blood sugar started to go up after a meal, and the exercise abruptly halted that upward rise in blood sugar,” said DiPietro. Though the findings need to be confirmed in larger trials, they are important for those with prediabetes and older individuals. An estimated 79 million Americans have prediabetes but most have no idea they are even at risk. “It may be easy for older adults to take a short walk or combine walking after a meal with running errands or walking the dog,” said DiPietro. The findings may be important for others including pregnant women who are at risk of gestational diabetes.  And if you overindulged in a meal, going for a brisk walk may help your body get rid of that excess sugar more efficiently.Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including “Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility.” Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/12/walking-after-meals-may-reduce-diabetes-risk/

Avoid hearing loss: Check the decibels before entering a room

An estimated 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have some form of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise at work or at play. That’s partly because our suburban and urban lifestyle has gotten louder, due to things like city traffic, a screeching subway, a football game, a loud bar or restaurant, or leaf blowers in the suburbs.  Research has also shown that the now ubiquitous practice of listening to music through earphones increases the risk of hearing loss. Aside from damaging hearing, loud noises are also associated with stress and symptoms of stress like hypertension and cardiovascular disease. As the noise level has increased, we’ve grown accustomed to the higher decibels, so it’s become difficult to know what is normal and what is too loud. According to the National Institutes of Health, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before noise-induced hearing loss can occur. Regular exposure to more than one minute of 110 decibels or more risks permanent hearing loss. Less than 75 decibels is generally considered safe. Now to put that into perspective: Normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels, heavy city traffic can reach 85 decibels, stadium noise can roar to 120 decibels, a rock concert or symphony orchestra can reach 110 decibels, a snowmobile generates 100 decibels, and a movie hovers at 85 – but can have 100 decibel peaks. A good way of gauging high decibels is if you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone sitting or standing nearby; this is not uncommon in noisy restaurants, bars or at a concert. If the noise hurts your ears, it’s also a sign that it’s too loud. To get a more accurate reading on sound, you can download an app that can quickly measure decibels. “If you think something’s loud, you can pick up the phone and see just how loud it is,” said Dr. Annette Hurley, associate professor of communications disorders at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center.   Walk into a restaurant, quickly test the decibels, and go somewhere else if it registers above 75. If you feel like being an advocate for all patrons, you can bring it to the attention of the restaurant owner, who may be able to lower the decibels simply by turning down the background music. If you’re going to a concert or other noisy venue, take earplugs to dampen the sound. Here are a few apps that Dr. Hurley recommends:  - dB Volume Meter - TooLoud? - deciBel It’s also a good idea to set maximum decibels on your personal listening device. If you’re trying to hear your music in a place that’s already noisy, it’s easy to inadvertently turn up the volume to damaging levels. Make sure it’s set below 85 decibels, recommended Dr. Hurley.Laurie Tarkan is an award-winning health journalist whose work appears in the New York Times, among other national magazines and websites. She has authored several health books, including “Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility.” Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/11/avoid-hearing-loss-check-decibels-before-entering-room/

Dealing with migraine headaches in children

As a doctor, I get a lot of health questions both in my practice and in my e-mail inbox. Today, I found one from a mom whose 8-year-old child suffers from migraines. How do you deal with an “adult” illness that affects a young child? Read on for my advice. I have an 8 year old son who is suffering from migraines. One time, his migraine was so intense, he cried all the way to the ER, after we tried unsuccessfully to treat it at home. I have been told that there are adult medications for migraines that can be used on children in a smaller dosage. However, according to my pediatrician, they have not been tested on children and because such a small percentage of children get migraines, they will probably never be tested on children. My son has a migraine at least once a week, sometimes more. Is it worth putting him on one of these medications, and if not, what can I do to ease the discomfort without ending up at the local emergency room? – Carla Carla, I understand your frustration. It is very hard to watch and deal with a young child grappling with migraine headaches. Because there are so many factors that could trigger a migraine, it can be difficult to pin down the exact root of the problem. The first thing that I would say is that I hope your child has been seen by board certified pediatric neurologist who has properly diagnosed him with migraines. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to get a proper medical history from children. It can be especially confusing for them to try to describe the location and timing of migraine headaches. However, remember there are many other conditions that could mimic a migraine in a child, such as sinusitis or dental problems, which can both result in head pain. If migraine is in fact the actual diagnosis, then the treatment becomes multi-faceted. Key components of treatment include making sure the child gets enough rest and sleep, as well as utilizing the over-the-counter medications that your physician recommends. Most likely, a physician will prescribe a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Prevention, of course, is even more effective than treatment. There usually tend to be two culprits in pediatric migraines. One is nitrates, which is found in many foods that kids eat such as packaged foods, processed lunch meats and hot dogs. The other culprit is monosodium glutamate, or MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer that is found in baking mixtures, chips and gelatins, among other products. It is highly toxic for many people that suffer from migraines. So while working with your physician, it is key that you also focus on nutritional aspect of children’s health. In doing so, your child may suffer from fewer migraines and require less drugs, which, as you state in question, have not been clinically tested in children. Send me your health questions on Facebook and Twitter.  And remember to join me for my weekly health live chat every Wednesday from 2-3 pm ET.  source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/02/08/dealing-with-migraine-headaches-in-children/

5 ways to keep your salad skinny

Salad is the secret to a having beach-ready body, right?  Not necessarily.   Sure, salad greens and chopped vegetables are low in calories and great for weight control.  But what else you toss into your salad can keep it light or load it up with as many calories as a cheeseburger and fries!   It’s easy to go overboard on toppings – especially at a well-stocked salad bar – so choose with care:   Eat a colorful salad    Instead of adding nuts, cheeses, seeds, and crispy tortillas, get a variety of flavors with a colorful mix of veggies that fill you up on very few calories. A cup of raw, chopped veggies has just 25 calories compared to a handful of nuts at 250 calories or more. Great salad veggies include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and red onion. And by eating a colorful mix, you get greater variety in vitamins and minerals, too.   Choose lean proteins    Tasty as they may be, crispy chicken, tuna salad and crunchy bacon can make your salad a fatty disaster.  You can lighten up without sacrificing flavor by going with lean proteins such as grilled chicken, fish, egg whites, ham, turkey, shrimp and edamame. Go easy on cheese    Your bikini bottom will thank you for skipping toppings like goat cheese, cheddar cheese, and crumbled blue cheese – which are high in fat and have over 100 calories per ounce. Instead, opt for shredded, part-skim mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese – just a little bit adds a lot of satisfying taste. Pick fresh fruit rather than dried    No question dried cranberries and raisins add a sweet note to your salad, but at 60 calories for two measly tablespoons are they worth it