Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

11 Jul

Sweets: a Natural Pain-Killer?

Now here’s an interesting study, as reported at Science Blogs:

The smell of sweet odors helped participants withstand discomfort. Apparently, smelling something sweet specifically increases pain tolerance. Scientists compared three groups, exposing each group to a different smell (sweet, pleasant but not sweet, and unpleasant – civet musk). What’s interesting is that a sweet odor did not actually reduce the pain, but merely the ability to withstand it. There’s likely nothing causal here, as the article points out. We’ve learned – or have been taught – to associate sweets with pleasure.

Orangejuicy’s Flickr Photo (CC)

A marketing tidbit, apropros of sugar: bakeries and cookie shops and even some markets pump sweet scents through the air intentionally.

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10 Jul

Are Men Morons?

Apparently, when it comes to health, men can barely keep up with the family dog.

It started out innocently enough. To wit: the old Carl’s Jr. ad that featured a forlorn dude in the bread aisle attempting to choose the best loaf. Classic. But it just snowballed from there. Oh, there were always the typical, annoying commercials featuring wives who were just super-excited about things like cavity-preventing floss and allergy-friendly detergent – as if family life precludes personality – along with the obligatory grumbling husband. But the men-are-oafish-and-unhealthy motif was taken to a new level by Listerine. In the commercial, smarty-pants mom comes home with groceries and parades the goods in front of eager hubby and brood. Out comes the Listerine, and wouldn’t you know, the kitchen is suddenly a ghost town. For both kidlets and manlet have whisked themselves magically above Evil Mouthwash Lady’s head. Was this dazzling feat of flight made possible by jet propulsion? A magical sleigh? Chi? Who knows!

As if anyone, let alone a grown man, would be afraid of mouthwash, even junior has the right to tell dad he’s a total moron these days. In a recent breakfast cereal commercial a knowing youngster was forced to school dear old dad on how to eat a healthier breakfast – ‘cuz we want you around for a good long while, Pops. Oh, that Pops. He really needs to learn a thing or two.

But the trend of making men appear dumber than your average slug has reached a pinnacle of annoyance only matched by the Empire Carpets jingle. It seems every commercial of 2007 has accepted the “fact” that old Pops is just uninterested in health and that men only care about burgers. To that end, Burger King encourages guys to accept their stupidity and “eat like a man, man”.

Commercials portray a consistent message that women are genuinely thrilled by nothing more than the likes of mopping and killing germs (and this has been going on since television was invented). The men, however, apparently lack even that capacity for such heights of thrillery, for sadly, they are morons.

I guess we’re supposed to laugh at these portrayals. Admittedly, the above commercial is hilarious. But isn’t that why we have The Simpsons? I think it’s rather odd that companies openly mock the health I.Q. of half the population as a way of getting us to buy their products. I don’t think it’s the end of the world or anything – political correctness kills me – but it’s getting a little old!

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10 Jul

10 Alarming Health Care Stats Put in Ruthless Perspective

Are we broken?

All signs point to yes: the obesity “problem”, the diabetes epidemic, Sicko at the box office. Yet we risk developing psychological immunity to the spiraling health care problems we face, if for no other reason than saturation. Let’s put our health care problems in perspective.

10. The pharmaceutical industry’s profit margin is six times greater than the average profit margin for all other industries.

The average Fortune 500 company can expect profit margins hovering around 3 per cent. Heck, if national growth beats 3 per cent it’s considered a swimmingly good economy. The pharmaceutical industry, however, consistently posts upwards of 18 per cent profit.

9. Twice as much money is spent on marketing drugs as developing and testing them.

Pharmaceutical companies spend over 15 billion dollars each year marketing their drugs (about half of that is in the form of free samples to doctors). About 7 billion a year is spent on R&D. It gets better: roughly one-fifth of employees work in R&D; two-fifths work in marketing.

8. The AMA is a sell-out organization.

The American Medical Association earns about 20 million dollars a year by selling information about doctors to the pharmaceutical industry.

7. Half of personal bankruptcies are due to unmanageable health care costs.

And three-fourths of those are with individuals who have existing health care coverage. Fortunately, our government has made it much harder to declare bankruptcy, so that totally fixes everything! Hooray!

6. America is one of the only industrialized nations that does not have nationalized health care.

Contrary to popular opinion that nationalized health care would create a wild ‘n crazy bureaucracy, this is patently and demonstrably false. Nationalized health care has already been successfully and efficiently implemented in most industrialized nations. In fact, single-payer national systems cost half as much as our glorious version. No more million-dollar salaries to CEOs or oceans of paperwork to deal with all the deductibles, HMOs, and premiums. In fact, 15 cents of every American health care dollar goes to simply handling all the paperwork of our patchwork system.

5. America is one of the sickest nations on earth.

Contrary to popular opinion that American health care is the best and Americans enjoy relatively long lives and good health, we are among the very sickest, fattest, shortest-lived of industrialized nations. In fact, our life spans and infant mortality statistics more closely resemble that of many developing nations. We spend the most money on drugs, the most money on surgeries, the most money on total health care, the most money on health insurance premiums, and we have the highest lost productivity costs of any nation. Period. You know who we beat? Latvia.

4. 18,000 Americans die every year because they do not have health insurance coverage.

50 million Americans have no health insurance. At least that many more are under-insured. We exacerbate our health care costs: Americans who do not have adequate care wait until routine health problems become severe, thereby greatly increasing both deaths and costs.

3. The pharmaceutical industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress every year.

Make no mistake: the pharmaceutical industry is a business. If your business could reap profit margins five or six times greater than any other industry, you’d fight for power, too. Through brilliant tactics like direct-to-consumer advertising, billions in free drug samples, and aggressive manipulation of medical practitioners, the pharmaceutical industry is an incredibly successful one. Big Pharma spends more on marketing than Budweiser and Pepsi.

2. The pharmaceutical industry works aggressively to let people die in order to protect profits.

Through furious lobbying and litigation, the pharmaceutical industry keeps generic drugs out of the hands of impoverished seniors and lifesaving drugs out of the mouths of millions of Africans and Asians desperately in need of care. The pharmaceutical industry does not care about you. The industry cares about introducing new blockbuster drugs – which do not even have to be compared against prior drugs that treat the same health issue – for profits. This is a business, like any other business, and drug companies are simply protecting and promoting their interests.

1. The pharmaceutical industry creates illnesses and corresponding drugs to treat those illnesses.

Watch this incredible video: Big Bucks, Big Pharma.

The pharmaceutical industry markets and advertises and lobbies and sues because it works. We are a pill-popping culture being successfully manipulated by emotional, irrational marketing.

Sources:

Pharmaceutical Industry Facts

Yes Magazine

NIHCM

Lobbying

Further Reading:

Most Popular Posts

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar & Diabetes

More Tuesday 10 Posts

Pharma & Health Care Blogs We Recommend:

Pharma Gossip

The Health Care Blog

Pharmalot

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9 Jul

A Smackdown Cometh: Big Pharma Vs. Pumpkin Farmers

Forget insulin injections – the humble pumpkin may be a suitable treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics in the near future.

Researchers found that plain old pumpkin extract helped worn-out pancreatic cells regain sensitivity and begin producing insulin.

Pumpkin 1: I hate diabetes.

Pumpkin 2: Oh, I know. It is lame.

Diabetes develops when blood sugar levels are persistently high. The pancreas, which produces insulin to stabilize blood sugar, cannot keep up. The body can also simply become insensitive to insulin. In the United States, 20 million people have diabetes, and as many as 60 million more are estimated to be undiagnosed and/or prediabetic. Diabetes increases your risk for retinopathy (a fancy word for blindness), reduces immunity to infection (often leading to amputation of extremities and limbs), heart disease, obesity, and stroke.

Diabetes organizations that adhere to traditional medical therapies typically present diabetes as almost mysterious in origin. That is, they will explain that diabetes results from pancreatic exhaustion or insensitivity, but they do not explain why this happens. Now where was my Kit Kat?

Though type 1 diabetes is not diet related (though a bad diet will exacerbate the disease), type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle. A diet low in refined carbohydrates and a lifestyle that includes daily exercise are the first important steps to preventing the onset of diabetes. Of course, with the average American diet (as many as 4,000 calories a day from junk food) and the sedentary lifestyle that are so prevalent, it’s no wonder diabetes is a runaway epidemic!

At any rate, pumpkin shows promise. What will Big Pharma do?

Further reading:

We Really Need More Drinkable Grains

How to Get Sick and Die

The Vegetable Conspiracy

The Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar, & Type 2 Diabetes

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9 Jul

13 Simple, Timeless Kitchen Hacks (Banish Tears, Cuts, Burns, Smells & Stains!)

If you can boil, you can hack.

1. Finally, a use for old potatoes: if you have added too much salt to a recipe, toss in a peeled potato while your dish is still cooking to prevent your tongue from shriveling up like a slug upon first bite. (Just don’t use taters that have any green tint creeping into the flesh. That’s a sure sign of the toxin solanine. Generally, solanine will not hurt you in small quantities, but just to be safe, avoid the kryptonite-hued spuds.)

2. Did you burn your finger? Immediately rub the singed spot with spicy mustard to draw out the pain. Bonus: this is a lickable solution.

3. Leftover wine? Pour the remains of the bottle into an ice cube tray, freeze, and store for future use in your drunk marinara. (Leftover wine = good problem.)

4. To remove the smell of garlic and onions from your fingers, simply run your digits along a stainless steel blade. Carefully! This won’t work for your mouth.

5. To keep sliced apples and avocados from browning, drizzle with lemon or lime juice.

6. Did you catch one of those invisible hair-like splinters that rivals a paper cut for the Most Annoying Pain Possible award? Simply press a strip of tape gently to your skin. This works far better than scraping away at your skin with fingernails or tweezers.

7. Don’t hatch your batch. To prevent cracked shells when making boiled eggs, simply add a pinch of salt to the water.

8. Keep tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons far from the refrigerator for the nicest fragrance, juiciest results, and truest flavor (we’re horrifying grammar teachers everywhere, as we speak. Write. Read. Surf. Arrrgh!!!). Oh: nestled in a bowl in the sun is best.

9. To clean those ever-impossible crevices in vases and pitchers, just drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, fill the item with water, and wait.

10. To prevent your eyeballs from putting on a miniature waterworks show when you are cutting up onions or shallots, simply press your tongue to the roof of your open mouth (and do not breathe through your nose).

11. Rather than taking harsh detergents to your pots and pans, scrub them clean with a dry paper towel and coarse salt. This is invaluable for cast-iron cookware.

12. To remove those fossilized food splatters in the microwave, place a water-soaked sponge inside and “cook” on high for two minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for another five minutes (you don’t want to scald yourself). The steam will loosen up the food and you can easily wipe it all off without the use of chemical cleaners.

13. Fix a finger nick with clear nail polish (wait for the bleeding to stop, silly). The polish will s-t-i-n-g momentarily, but you’ll have a waterproof, instant bandage that won’t get in the way of your slicing and dicing…food, this time.

What handy tips do you recommend? Speak up, baby!

Further reading:

Most Popular Posts

Useful Top 10 Lists

Source 1, 2

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