Some health studies show that the average person
gains four pounds in November and December of any given year. Eating
less in January does away with two or three pounds, but all too often an
extra pound or two hangs on. One pound a year sounds insignificant, but
over time it adds up to 10 or 20 pounds. That's a health problem.
Good advice for avoiding holiday weight gain can be
found everywhere: Eat smaller portions, avoid high-fat foods, and don't
be hungry when you go to a holiday feast are among the instructions.
Somehow, when people get to the table, the advice is lost in the aroma
of the food. Try your best to remember it anyway.
Keep the goodies out of sight. If you maintain a holiday table with cookies and fancy candies, you'll probably snag one every time you walk by.
Here are a couple of easy-to-take steps that could help.
Landmark diabetes study shows moderation is key
Because heart disease is a major concern for people
with diabetes, aggressively controlling high blood sugar, high blood
pressure and high cholesterol seems to make sense.
But the ACCORD study of 10,000 people with type 2
diabetes shows that lowering these factors may not be best.
Seriously lowering blood sugar
Study subjects in the Intense Therapy group had A1c
ratings of 8.1 percent (7 is recommended by the American Diabetes
Association). They were given glucose-lowering drugs or increased dosage
of drugs they already took, some with a goal of lowering A1c to less
than 6 percent.
The bad news: After 3.5 years, the death rate in this
group was 5 percent versus 4 percent in the standard therapy group or
one extra death for every 95 patients. Researchers stopped the trial,
concluding that such blood sugar lowering could do some patients more
harm than good. Moderately low blood sugar was best for people with
heart disease risk.
Seriously lowering blood pressure
The second aim of the ACCORD study focused on
lowering blood pressure. They wanted to lower patients' blood pressure
below 135 or 140 (top number) in diabetes patients.
At the end of five years, researchers found these
patients were no less likely to have heart problems. But they were three
times as likely to experience serious side effects from treatment, such
as an irregular heartbeat. The study was helpful because it determined
that systolic blood pressure in the 135 to 140 range was acceptable.
Seriously lowering cholesterol
Researchers assigned more than 5,500 type 2 patients
to two groups. The standard group received Zocor. The Intensive Therapy
group received Zocor and TriCor, a fenofibrate.
The study showed that the combination therapy was not
necessary for people with diabetes.
It concluded that moderately high levels of blood
sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol are acceptable.
Scottish New Year
As 2011 rolls in, Auld Lang Syne will fill the air at
many a gathering. This traditional tune, from a poem written by Scottish
poet Robert Burns, bids the old year farewell and welcomes in the new.
Auld Lang Syne links Scotland to much of the world on New Year's Eve.
But Scotland has many other traditions that make Scottish festivities
Hogmanay is the name that Scots give to the last day
of the year and their celebration of the New Year. In cities, towns and
villages, there are torch processions and the setting off of fireworks.
In rural areas, bonfires, that are said to burn up the old year, take
the place of fireworks. In some places, barrels of tar are rolled
through the streets and set on fire to destroy the old year.
In many homes "first footing" is still observed. The
Scots believe it to be good luck for the first foot over the threshold,
as the New Year begins, to be that of a dark-haired man bearing a gift
such as shortcake, coal or whiskey. Such visits are often arranged.
Foods popular during this time of celebration include
cheese, bread, steak pie, shortbread, currant loaf, oatcakes and scones,
all to be accompanied by wine, cordials and other spirits.
Local areas of Scotland have developed their own
Hogmanay rituals. An example is the Stonehaven Fireball Festival.
Thousands flock to this North Sea fishing port, where on New Year's Eve
approximately 60 participants in kilts whirl five to 15-pound flaming
balls around their heads.
They march to the harbor, accompanied by drummers and
pipers, where they fling the flaming balls into the sea. Historically,
this was done to drive out evil spirits and bring good luck to the
fishing fleet. Now it also welcomes the new year.
The mall Santa Claus was surprised when a young lady walked up and
sat on his lap, smiling nicely.
Although he had never taken a request from an adult, he asked,
"And what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"
"Something for my mother, please," the young lady said.
"Something for your mother? That's very thoughtful of you." The Santa
smiled. "What do you want me to bring her?"
Without blinking, she replied, "A son-in-law!"
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male
and female reindeer grow antlers in the summertime, male reindeer drop
their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to
mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give
birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition
depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to
Blitzen, had to be a female.
We should've known. Only women would be able to drag a fat man in a
red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.