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Posts Labeled with ‘health’

I don’t really like Canola Oil

Canola oil is everywhere, and I don’t like it. I try to minimize my intake. There’s something unnatural about an oil with such a high smoke point. If it doesn’t smoke until 475 degrees… how much energy does it take for your body to deal with it? Additionally, the Canola plant is a variant of the rapeseed plant, which contains erucic acid that (in high enough amounts) is very bad.

I get the allure. As Carl summarizes: it is a highly stable poly-unsaturated oil. This makes it ideal for applications where taste and shelf life are at issue.  It is also cheap and with almost no taste (much less than olive oil and even less than peanut).

So… here’s my unsubstantiated thought process: your body can’t break this stuff down easily. Even though it’s a low-acid oil, can’t that erucic acid eventually build up over time?

I don’t really know. I’m just wary of anything that is slipped in everywhere. Trust me: canola is almost as ubiquitous as high fructose corn-syrup. Today, I spent an hour in Trader Joe’s reviewing the ingredient list for practically every store-bought salad dressing.  Item #1, 2, or 3: Canola oil. I found a few without it, but what a chore! Plus, canola is the preferred oil for all of those “no-trans-fat” so-called “healthy” junk foods that the Ho-Ho Vegetarians consume all the time.

I just can’t buy the argument that this stuff is GOOD for us. I am not banning it completely, but am trying to minimize and avoid it.  Am I crazy or prescient?


Still Alive

I was hit with a trifecta of illness: swine flu, a sinus infection, and pink eye! I’m over the hump now, and still alive. But whoa! That was officially not fun.

Take it for what it’s worth, but these are my personal observations related to my experience of the swine flu:

  • I am now a believer in Vitamin D for health. I was prescribed a cocktail of Vitamins B, C, D, and saline intravenously the other day. I really felt a lot better after that IV. But since you probably won’t be hooking up an IV drip in your home anytime soon, pile on the vitamins and go get a real (not tanning salon) tan. Next year, maybe I’ll be more Baywatch than Twilight?
  • If you feel a slightly sore throat, be aware that you might be in the early stages of the flu. I woke up with the slightest little sore throat. “Maybe I strained my voice?” I thought. A mere 4 hours later I was incapacitated by a terrible fever, headache, body aches, and nausea. This flu comes on super-fast, and hits hard.
  • People are either completely underwhelmed or overwhelmed by the mention of “swine flu.” The truth is somewhere in between. Wash your hands every couple of hours to be on the safe-side, but don’t think that you’re going to die from this thing. Even if you get it, you probably won’t need to go to the urgent care.
  • Doctors disagree about the flu shot. One doctor told me to get the swine flu shot, and regular flu shot. Another, equally qualified MD, said not to get the vaccine. The doc that advocated the flu shot said that it is just a good habit to be in: every year get the vaccine as soon as it is available and you’re healthy. The other doc was against the vaccine in general, and specifically warned me away. His reasoning was two-fold: “1) You already had the flu and came out the other side. You already developed antibodies. 2) It is less tested, and there’s no testing related to how people are affected by the vaccine if they’ve already had the flu.”
  • Be aware that once you have this flu, your immune system is shot and you are a target for everything else in the environment. Hence my triple whammy of flu, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis. I’ll really need to work hard to build back up my immune system. Bring on the spicy food, vitamins, and antioxidants!

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Swine Flu

It’s official, the doc says that I have swine flu. I thought I felt pretty miserable!

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Guilty Pleasure: In-N-Out

I have to confess my guilty pleasure: I love In-N-Out.

I typically order a #2, with onions, sometimes upgrading to a chocolate shake. My mouth starts watering as I wait for those first, scalding-hot fries. These fries are the best. I swear that they must put crack in the oil. This is the only burger where I’ll eat the tomato. The wax-paper wrapper is a godsend, keeping all the juiciness in tact. And I laugh when my breath is fierce after the onion overdose! Love it.

I avoid other fast food joints just so that I can save up the calories and lifetime allotment of transfats for In-N-Out. I can go about a fortnight, but then the irresitable craving, the hunger sneaks up on me. I’m not going to pretend that it’s healthy, but I really don’t care.

No… I’m not getting paid for this endorsement. It’s heartfelt. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit one of these restaurants in CA, Nevada, Utah, or Arizona…. you really ought to put it on the list of “to-do’s” on your next trip. Look, there are better burgers to be had, but I’ve honestly never eaten at a better fast food joint.

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Biopsy Completed, but no results yet

OK… the biopsy occurred today. It didn’t hurt too much, so that’s good. Now I need to hang out for 10 days or so until the results come back.


Car Update AND Biopsy Notice

Car update: bad battery, brakes, major preventative care due, etc. Total cost will be about $2K.

In other stressful news, I had an ultrasound of my thyroid gland recently. The ultrasound was read and they saw something suspicious… so they’ve scheduled a biopsy, which won’t occur for a week and a half.

So… let’s recap: I had to spend a lot of money repairing my car, and I might have cancer. Great week.

The good news is that I have money for the car, and current, decent, health insurance.

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Just In Time?

I just heard about umbilical cord blood banking. Two of my nieces are pregnant, and one of them is inducing on Feb 5.

Basically, they take 10-12 vials of blood from the umbilical cord and put it in a cryogenic freeze. The umbilical cord has stem cells in it, which are a perfect match for the kid. If something goes wrong, they can use this “stash” of stem cells to do all those cool sci-fi stem cell treatments that already exist & ones that are being invented now but we don’t even know about.

Imagine: your kid is 19 & (god forbid) is in a motorcycle crash with a spinal cord injury. They can use these perfectly matched stem cells (that won’t be rejected by the body) to repair the spinal cord.

Amazing, huh?

The umbilical cord blood banking costs about $1800 at collection & about $100 each year, but it is totally an insurance policy for your child. Now that I know about it, I’m raising awareness of it with every pregnant woman I know.


Darn it! I caught a cold!

Much to my dismay, the slight sore throat that I woke up with on Saturday has matured into a full-fledged upper respiratory infection. Complete with coughing, sneezing, phlegm, and the general “ugh” feeling that comes with each passing night of mediocre sleep.

And yes, I am going to be one of those terrible human beings that gets on an airplane and passes this annoying rhinovirus on to some other unfortunate human being who is unlucky enough to be sharing the recycled, polluted air of my cabin. I know, I’m awful. Maybe I’ll take a cocktail of various OTC drugs designed to make me dry and groggy so that I don’t actually spread the virus by coughing.

I just really want to go to NYC. Sue me. Or better yet, wear a face mask to the airport tomorrow.


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Day 4: Stop at the Austrian Hospital

Hospital Stopsign Austria

There are no tourist-y photos to show today. I spent the day in an Austrian hospital. My mom has an infection of her salivary gland. (I know, it’s weird.) The antibiotics that the “housecall” doctor prescribed the other day didn’t work. She received antibiotics intravenously today. If she doesn’t get significantly better very soon, I will have to insist that she return to the US.

Honestly, today was rough. It was really stressful for me, trying to negotiate an incredibly bureaucratic health-care system in a different language. Many people speak English extremely well in Austria, but it is still mostly the common, simple, conversational topics in the language. The technical, medical, conversations today were very stilted. Thankfully, they assigned us to an Australian doctor… but that was our prize for my having successfully navigated the maze of the rest of the system.

I have a newly-found sense of empathy for all of the foreigners who have to go to an American hospital or clinic. Dealing with a foreign language and foreign system when you are at your most vulnerable and stressed out is pretty awful. And I noticed that, for some people in the hospital, English was the common denominator language. What I mean is that they spoke Farsi (for example), and stilted English. The Austrians don’t know Farsi, so they spoke back to the patients in stilted English. Oh man, that must be frustrating and frightening! The situation produces lots of hand gestures, and stress.

I don’t know the status of computer-based sophisticated medical translation technology. But this seems like a problem that can be solved. This technology should be matriculated into every hospital in the world.

Austrian Hospital signage

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A Glimpse Into America’s Future

Generation O (for obese) is not amused with attempts to fix their bad food habits. In England, a chef named Jamie Oliver was tasked with making healthy food for schoolchildren. The result? The kids mutinied, and their spineless mums are now handing them bags of fast food through the school fences.

This is what will happen in America too. Any attempt to regulate school lunch programs in the USA will fail. They will fail for the majority of children because the children’s obesity is merely a symptom of a larger problem that isn’t being addressed: poor parenting and a lack of parental discipline.



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