Tag Archives: Health

Healthy eating: Winter warmer vegetable soup

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With winter well and truly upon us we need all the energy we can get.Resist the urge for a Friday night take-away and instead opt for something equally as tasty but packed full of vegetables. This vegetable soup is perfect for those cold winter nights in front of the TV, and quick to make too.

Ingredients
½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, chopped•3 sticks of celery, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
80g green beans
1½ tbsp tomato purée
1 leek, sliced
A handful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of dried pasta
1 litre of boiling water
pepper to taste

Method
1. Chop all vegetables into small cube sized pieces.

2. Heat the oil in a pan, add onions, carrots, leeks and celery and fry until sizzling. Reduce the heat and then cover and cook gently for five minutes. Stir if needed.

3. Add the tin of tomatoes, water, tomato purée, beans and frozen peas. Raise the heat to maximum. Bring to the boil and add the pasta, herbs and pepper.

4. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. Stir the soup frequently to ensure the pasta doesn’t stick to the pan.

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President Obama’s health care plans

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The American election is over and Obama will continue in his presidency for another 4 years. So, what is he doing for American health care?

According to his website,President Obama is:

Ending insurance company abuses

  • The Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable, putting an end to the worst abuses, such as capping or dropping your coverage when you get sick.
Courtesy of Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project

President Obama has won the USA election

In March 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, this put in place comprehensive reforms that improve access to affordable  health care for all Americans and protect people from abusive insurance  company practices. The law allows all Americans to make their own health insurance choices while also guaranteeing access to care for the countries most vulnerable people. The Act provides ways to bring down health costs and improve the quality of care. Young adults under the age of 26 are also allowed to be kept under their parents insurance policies.

Strengthening Medicare

  • The Affordable Care Act is helping people with Medicare save on the care they need to stay healthy—from free preventive services to lower costs on prescription drugs and monthly premiums.

Putting women in control of their health

  • President Obama is putting an end to the health insurance company practice of charging women more than men for the same coverage.

Since the health care law passed, more than 20 million American women have received preventive care without co-pays.  Meaning affordable access to birth control, cancer screenings, and smear tests.  The law ends discrimination based on “pre-existing conditions,” such as breast cancer and pregnancy. It also guarantees that insurance companies will no longer be allowed to charge women higher rates than men.

According to http://www.womenarewatching.org , Obama has recently required an employer’s health insurer to provide birth control coverage without co-pay.  Considering the fact that American women spend up to $600 dollars a year on birth control, and over a third of the female voters have found it difficult to afford birth control at some point in their lives, this was an important step in protecting access to basic, preventive care.

Could switching to decaf save your sight?

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With many ‘good things’ in life, we are constantly bombarded with often contradictory advice about what is either incredibly healthy for us or a terrible risk.

The latest study to come out of the works is that drinking 3 cups of coffee or more a day could be terrible for our vision. A report in the Daily Mail suggests that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day could seriously damage your sight.

The newspaper refers to a study, published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, suggesting coffee lovers should reduce their coffee intake to lower their chances of developing glaucoma.

Drinking 3 or more cups of coffee a day could cause eye damage

The researchers, from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, suggest that compounds found in coffee may increase pressure within the eyeball, causing a vision-destroying condition known as exfoliation glaucoma.The study assessed over 120,000  people in both the UK and U.S. All were over 40 and not suffering from glaucoma.

each participant completed a questionnaire about how much coffee they drank and their medical records were checked for a history of glaucoma.

The results found that those who drank more than three cups a day had an increased risk of developing glaucoma compared with those who  hardly drank coffee. No correlation was found in other caffinated drinks such as hot chocolate or cola.

Glaucoma occurs when the drainage tubes within the eye become slightly blocked, preventing eye fluid from draining properly and therefore resulting in a build up of pressure.

This can damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, and the nerve fibres from the retina.

Discussing the findings, NHS.co.uk do not feel that it is reason enough to avoid coffee all together: “By far the greatest risk of exfoliation glaucoma was among those with a family history of glaucoma – which is a factor already known to be linked with developing glaucoma.

Coffee has been linked in the past with both health problems and health benefits. So, despite the headlines, there’s no need to ditch the cappuccino altogether, but it makes sense to drink coffee and other caffeinated products in moderation.”

This research comes after findings early this year that drinking 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day could cut the risk of diabetes, skin cancer, stress, cavities, breast cancer and heart disease.

Drugs live: Was it a useful scientific study?

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Last week, Channel 4 aired Drugs Live: The Ecstasy trial. The supposed aim of the programme was to research whether ‘E’ might have a clinical role in helping sufferers of depression and post traumatic stress. This had been the first time Ecstasy had been filmed on TV since the 1980’s…

Network bosses described the show as ‘a programme only Channel 4 would be brave enough to submit’. But, there has been much talk as to whether the programme really was as ‘groundbreaking’ as it claimed itself to be.

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Ecstasy pills

The Guardians, Rupert Sawyer saw the programme as anything but controversial.

“What Drugs Live has illustrated to us all, is that television has lost its edge since Y2K. Frankly, if it’s still controversial to have a conversation about ecstasy on the television, we, the industry are failing to move with the times. If the broadcasters do not do something soon, the internet will kill us all,” he said.

Personally, I found it to be lacking in new scientific findings. Yes, there were plenty of doctors, and a big model of the inside of a brain, but everything seemed very basic. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that E releases seratonin in the brain, giving that ‘feel good’ emotion.

Questions are also raised over the show’s seemingly positive representation of the drug. Critics have asked why the only expert to point out  the dangers of taking drugs was given just three minutes of the 65 minute programme to voice his concerns.

Interestingly, only one man, a former SAS soldier, was shown to  have had a negative response, while the  majority of the volunteers  described feelings of well-being and euphoria. It also appeared that the choice of participants seemed to be more aimed at pleasing the viewer rather than for scientific gain. (The female priest, for example.)Another participant was Keith Allen, a celebrity who has been known to take drugs in the past.

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Brain activity was measured in an MRI scan

I think that it is neccessary to point out that nobody taking part in the experiment actually had depression or post traumatic stress, which seemed odd considering this appeared at first to be the premise of the show.

In defence of Drugs Live, Proffessor Nut told the BBC that it is a ‘very high quality in-depth scientific study.”

What did you make of the show?

Click here to read the Telegraph’s review of the show.

Click here to read a Daily Mail article about the ‘acceptability’ of ecstasy.

Click here to read a Metro article and the criticism of Drugs Live.