The Critical First Step In Achieving Health Goals Is Paying Attention

Layout 1It may seem obvious, but achieving health goals or improving a health condition requires some skin in the game from us. For many, that’s often the hardest thing to maintain. All our reasons, objections or opinions about what’s going on or what’s possible can get in the way.

Fortunately there are some pretty cool new tools and technologies to make paying attention a little bit easier.

A new health tracking app called Nudge lets users score their health behaviors. Nudge leads the charge in apps that sync data from the most popular health tracker apps and wearables including the popular MapMyFitness, Moves, RunKeeper, Strava, Up by Jawbone and FitBit.

This data along with information input by the user produces a Nudge Factor, a score based on Nudge’s evidence-proven algorithm gleaned from multiple studies including United States Department of Agriculture, Center of Disease Control and World Health Organization as well as applied research from an in-house advisory team of sports and health professionals.

Similar to a Klout score for social media influencers, the Nudge Factor ranges from 1 to 110. with 110 representing optimal health.  The score is broken down into four categories based on recommended daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, hours of sleep, minutes of exercise and intake of water.

Nudge allows users to connect with others through contacts, social media and Nudge clubs including Outdoor Adventure, Recipe Network, Runners’ Club, Stress Less and Weight Loss. Through clubs users can interact with one another to ask questions and offer motivation, support and healthful tips. Users can also join as circles of friends, coworkers and classmates and participate in friendly competition for the highest Nudge Factor.

Research shows the feasibility of using social networks for weight loss goals and that when others are involved in a supportive role, health outcomes are more likely to be achieved. Nudge is available for free in the iTunes App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nudge-yourself/id605363055?mt=8.

See also: Are You Hard Wired For Exercise?

For those who simply can’t get enough data to measure, Mimo Baby, has a set of three baby bodysuits that includes a device used to measure respiration, skin temperature and body position. The product sends the vital-sign information to a smartphone. There’s also a smart sock made by startup Owlet Baby Care Inc. that senses a baby’s oxygen saturation and heart rate. 

While having lots of data at our fingertips can be helpful in taking appropriate actions toward health goals, often ‘knowing’ is the booby prize. After all, everybody already knows how to lose weight: diet and exercise. If knowing made the difference, we’d all be thinner, wouldn’t we? The take away here is that informed action can be a powerful tool to achieve

Dangers Of Non-Stick Cookware

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss

When Teflon is exposed to high heat it can release its constituent chemical, PFOA, as a gas. There are no known cases of direct health problems for consumers, but workers producing Teflon are at increased risk for certain cancers, prompting the U.S. government to call for a complete phase-out of Teflon and related products by 2015.

It may be time to upgrade your pans, given that the U.S. government has called for a complete phase-out of polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE, otherwise known as Teflon) and related products by 2015, due to health concerns. When Teflon is exposed to high heat it can degrade, which causes it to release its constituent chemical, PFOA, as a gas. This phenomenon can kill pet birds, and can’t be good for humans either.

While there are no known cases of airborne PFOA causing direct health problems for consumers, workers in plants where Teflon has been produced are at increased risk for cancers of the pancreas and the male reproductive tract. “Numerous studies have shown that PFOA alters reproductive hormones in the male, causing increased levels of estrogen and abnormal testosterone regulation and that PFOA or chemicals that break down into PFOA damage the thyroid gland,” reports Melissa Breyer of the website Care2.

Breyer adds that four organs or tissues in the immune system and at least nine types of cells that regulate immune function are targets of PFOA, and that scientists have been unable to find a level of PFOA that doesn’t damage the immune system: “Doses given to effected lab animals were minimal—and less, relatively, than levels found in children.” The fact that PFOA exposure led to testicular, pancreatic, mammary and liver tumors in rats doesn’t bode well for what the chemical may do to humans.

Of course, the risk of exposure is much lower for a person frying an egg at home than for a factory worker manufacturing PTFE for DuPont. In 2007, Consumer Reports Magazine tested PTFE-based non-stick pans from several manufacturers and found harmful airborne emissions of PFOA to be minimal. “The highest level was about 100 times lower than levels that animal studies suggest are of concern for ongoing exposure to PFOA,” reported the magazine. “With the aged pans, emissions were barely measurable.”

Some manufacturers are working on safer non-stick cookware using ceramic or silicone coatings free of PTFE or PFOA. But a 2009 survey of eight such alternatives by Cook’s Illustrated magazine did not identify any of the new choices out there high marks. “Not a single one of these ‘green’ pans was without flaws,” said the magazine. “In some, delicate eggs burned, thin fish fillets stuck, and steak charred on the outside while remaining raw within. Others stained or transferred heat inconsistently.” Some pans accumulated the browned bits known as fond when steak was seared, indicating unwanted sticking power.

Many foodies have resigned themselves to the likelihood that the idea of a non-stick pan might in and of itself be too good to be true. As such, cast iron, aluminum, copper and stainless steel each rate high for even heat distribution and for holding up well at high temperatures and frequent use. Used properly—such as by employing a little oil or butter to inhibit food from sticking—such pans can last decades.

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