Tag Archives: heat

Exercise in Heat may not be Beneficial

The Huffpost reports that preliminary research from the University of Nebraska suggests it may be more effective to work out in cooler places than outside in all the heat. They are studying mitochondria, the cells that help produce energy, to find out how much impact temperatures have on fitness programs.

The results they have found are that there is little or no development in the mitochondria after a workout in temperatures of 91 or higher. This may imply the heat does not help, and in fact, is as if there was no exercise at all.

They do say more research is needed but they are studying further how weather effects workouts. Should you quit exercising? NO! Just move your routines indoors with air conditioning.

Healthy Thanksgiving Cooking: The Sides

The main side for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is mashed potatoes. There are ways to reduce the calories in this side dish. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor: Instead of using butter and milk or cream to mash your potatoes, reserve some of the cooking water. The starchy water will actually make your mashed potatoes creamier than if you use plain water as a substitute for milk or cream. If you prefer to use milk, try evaporated skim milk, fat-free milk, or fat-free sour cream. To boost the flavor of your mashed potatoes, you can add turkey or chicken broth or stir in some garlic and herbs.

Sweet potatoes are another Thanksgiving side dish staple. Rather than using maple syrup or brown sugar to liven them up, try spices such as ginger and cinnamon when making mashed sweet potatoes. Try roasting or baking raw sweet potatoes instead of using canned sweet potatoes, which are packed in sugar or corn syrup.

Vegetable casseroles are also traditional side dishes at Thanksgiving. Look for low calorie substitutes for your casserole recipes. Substitute ricotta cheese for cream cheese. Light butter or margarine for butter. Plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream for sour cream. Evaporated skim milk or low-fat milk for whole milk. Broth based soups for cream based soups. Use fresh vegetables (or frozen) as much as possible instead of canned vegetables, which are high in sodium and low in nutrients.

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
(You can precook sweet potatoes in microwave to decrease roasting time.)
2 medium onions cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with olive oil cooking spray. Put potatoes and onions in baking dish and spray them lightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and stir mixture every 15 minutes or so. Spray them a little every time you stir. Bake 35/45 minutes (if precooked) to 60/80 minutes (if raw) until tender. For variations, you can add cayenne pepper for heat or cinnamon for sweet or chopped rosemary for savory tastes.

4 cups fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
2 shallots or 8 green onions, sliced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms (or any fresh mushroom), sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups + 2 tablespoons rice milk (or low-fat milk), divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
10 wonton wrappers
Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Place green beans in boiling water and cook until just soft (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside. Heat large saucepan on medium heat. Spritz with cooking spray. Sauté shallots/green onions until translucent and starting to brown. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are soft and slightly browned. Use more cooking spray if necessary. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add 2 cups of the milk to the pan and bring to a boil. While milk is heating up, combine cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to boiling milk mixture. Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened. Reduce heat to simmer then remove from heat after 5 minutes. Cut wontons into thin strips. Spread strips evenly on a baking sheet. Season to taste, if desired. Bake for five minutes. Stir and bake until golden brown (another 2 to 3 minutes). Set aside to cool. Add green beans to milk mixture. Stir to coat evenly. Pour coated beans mixture into a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until beans are hot and bubbly. Remove from oven. Top with toasted wontons.

Thanks Jody

All the Best
Steve Victor

Summer Tips for Your Dog

The hot days of summer are upon us. Your dog can’t tolerate the heat as well as you can. I asked Jody Victor® to give us some helpful information.

Jody Victor®: Humans can sweat through pores covering their whole body to dissipate heat whereas dogs can only dissipate heat by panting through their tongues, a much smaller surface. Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time dissipating heat as they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs.

Here are some summer tips for your dog to help him/her survive the heat:

  1. If your dog is outside during the day make sure he/she has a shady spot to rest. Dog houses are not good shelter in the summer as they build up heat. You may want to provide a kiddie pool to let your dog cool off in the water. Provide plenty of fresh drinking water.
  2. Avoid strenuous exercise during extremely hot days. Some dogs are not smart about knowing how much heat they can take. They may keep playing fetch even though they are nearly ready to feint. Smarter dogs will take the ball you just tossed for them and lie down in the shade. Listen to your dog and let them rest if they want to lie down. If your dog is panting with the sides of the mouth wide open, he/she needs a rest. If the panting does not go down in five minutes, he/she is too hot. Spray your dog with a water mist bottle to help speed the cooling process.
  3. Take your dog on walks in the mornings or evenings. Avoid prolonged exposure to hot cement, asphalt, or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.
  4. Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date especially since he/she spends more time outside and in contact with other animals. Get an effective flea and tick medication from your vet and continue applying until first frost.
  5. Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.
  6. If your dog likes to go swimming keep him/her away from water that contains algae. Some kinds of algae are highly toxic and can cause quick death after ingesting just a little. Keep an eye out for swimmer’s tail, an inflammation of the tail muscles. If your dog’s tail droops like a wet noodle, he/she may have overdone it in the water. Stop the swimming and give your dog a good rest. If your dog swims in a pool, make sure he/she knows where the steps to get out of the pool are. If your dog swims in salt water make sure you rinse him/her off with fresh water when swimming is done.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to follow your advice.

Steve Victor

Summer Tips for Car Travel

The hot days of summer are upon us. Weather conditions are favorable for ground-level ozone formation. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us more about this phenomenon.

Jody Victor®: Heat and sunlight are important factors in ozone formation and the emissions from motor vehicles are the primary source of ozone-causing pollution. Try to reduce your driving during the summer months and especially during heat advisories. Don’t make unnecessary trips. When you have to run errands, choose to go in the morning or evening and map your route to avoid zigzagging. Use public transportation, walk, ride a bike if possible.

This is great advice but it doesn’t always fit our busy lifestyles. What about when you have to drive or have a car vacation planned for your family? Here are some summer tips for car efficiency, reduced emissions, and passenger safety:

  1. Keep your car maintained and in tip-top shape. Keep an eye on your dashboard lights. If your “Check Engine” light comes on and stays on, don’t panic. Usually there is no immediate danger. First check to make sure your gas cap is tight. If it was loose, the light should go off after tightening.  If the light is flashing on and off, it usually indicates engine misfire. When your “Check Engine” light comes on, minimize driving time and get to a repair shop as soon as you can. Avoid driving at high speeds or carrying excess weight until you can get your car serviced. Servicing your car when the “Check Engine” light comes on cannot only prevent costly repairs but can also improve your car’s fuel economy and reduce emissions.
  2. During the summer months gasoline vapor production increases. Toxic gasoline vapor contributes to ozone formation.  Avoid refueling on ozone action days. Refuel in the early morning or evening if you must.  Secure your gas cap immediately after refueling.
  3. Park in the shade if possible even if you have to walk a little further. If you can’t find shade, try to park in the direction where the sun will be shining on your rear window or passenger side for most of the time it will be parked. Get a cloth steering wheel cover and a windshield sunshade. Keep a couple of towels in your car to place on your car seats (especially if you have leather seats) for when you have to park in the sun.
  4. During the summers months you may want to carry certain items in your car besides the common sense spare tire and first aid/emergency kit. Keep an extra pair or two of sunglasses in your car to protect your eyes while driving in the summer sun. Carry extra water for drinking and for your car. Carry snacks that will not melt such as granola bars and crackers. Keep a cooler or insulated bag in your car for times when you can’t go straight home after purchasing refrigerated food items. When you get home with food items, check your trunk thoroughly just in case something fell out of the shopping bags and rolled or slid away.
  5. During the summer months there may be certain items you don’t want to have in your car such as milk and dairy products, anything packaged under pressure (hair spray, soda pop), sunscreen in a bottle (carry little packets or towelettes instead), credit cards or other cards with magnetic strips on plastic, CDs and DVDs, cleaning solutions with alcohol or ammonia, crayons, candy, or gum.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be sure to use your suggestions.

Steve Victor

The New Old Wonder Drug

Aspirin is back in the news again following recent studies that show aspirin and other commonly used painkillers may help guard against skin cancer. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us all about it.

Jody Victor®: Previous studies have already suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can reduce your risk of developing some cancers due to their anti-inflammatory properties. A recent Aarhus University Hospital study in Denmark of nearly 200,000 men and women found that those who took aspirin and ibuprofen were less likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. People who took daily aspirin and painkillers reduced their risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 15 percent and of malignant melanoma by 13 percent. The risk of basal cell carcinoma (the most common form linked to sun exposure) was no different among aspirin users and nonusers. Sigrun Alba Johannesdottir, head of the Danish study, stated, “We hope that the potential cancer-protective effect of NSAIDs will inspire more research on skin cancer prevention.”

“Aspirin” has been considered a wonder drug since 400 BC when Hippocrates, a Greek physician, wrote about a bitter powder extracted from willow bark that could ease aches and pains and reduce fevers. The willow bark remedy is also mentioned in texts from ancient Sumer, Lebanon, and Assyria. Native Americans used an infusion of the bark for fever and other medicinal purposes for centuries. In 1763, Reverend Edward Stone, a vicar from England, noted that the bark of the willow was effective in reducing a fever.

The active extract of the bark, called salicin, from the Latin name for the white willow (salix alba), was isolated to its crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux, a French pharmacist, and Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist. They were able to convert the willow bark substance into a sugar and a second component, which on oxidation becomes salicylic acid. In 1832, the French chemist Charles Gerhardt experimented with salicin and created salicylic acid. During the next decade other chemists experimented with synthesizing salicylic acid. In all of these experiments the chemists dropped their work because the side effects from their extracts caused gastric irritation, bleeding, diarrhea, and even death when consumed in high doses.

In 1897, Felix Hoffmann, a chemist at Friedrich Bayer & Co., began work on salicylic acid to help his father who was in great pain from arthritis and could not stand the side effects of salicylic acid. He obtained acetylsalicylic acid by a reaction of salicylic acid and acetic anhydride, essentially repeating earlier attempts at synthesizing the compound from willow leaves and bark. Hoffmann substituted acetic anhydride for acetyl chloride. He made some of his formula and gave it to his father with good results and less side effects. Hoffmann’s synthesis served as the basis for Bayer’s claim to the discovery of aspirin.

In 1899, Bayer distributed Hoffmann’s aspirin powder to physicians to give to their patients. Eleven days after developing aspirin, Hoffmann developed an acetylated derivative of morphine called “Heroin”. Initially heroin was the more successful of the two painkillers. But as heroin’s addictiveness became more obvious, aspirin stepped to the forefront of painkillers. In 1900, they introduced aspirin in water-soluble tablets- the first medication to be sold in this form.

In 1948, Dr. Lawrence Craven, a California physician, noticed that the 400 men he prescribed aspirin to hadn’t suffered any heart attacks. He recommended to all patients and colleagues that “an aspirin a day” could dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack. And it was not until the 1970s that the mechanism of action of aspirin and similar drugs called NSAIDs was fully understood.

Today aspirin is recognized as having many health benefits. Apart from being a painkiller, it is an anti-platelet medicine, which means it reduces the risk of blood clots forming. The benefits of aspirin do not always come without side effects, however. The most common side effect is stomach irritation, which can lead to bleeding in some cases, especially in the elderly. Aspirin can cause breathing problems in asthma sufferers. The risk of side effects is increased because for aspirin to be effective, it needs to be taken every day, often for life. Not everyone will suffer from these side effects, but because of the risk aspirin is not recommended for long-term use except for people who have an established heart condition, or who have suffered a stroke. If you are considering taking aspirin, talk to your doctor first.

Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor