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Food + stress = weight gain

According to Leslie Beck, dietitian and health reporter for The Globe and Mail and CTV's Canada AM, this is no surprise; work-related pressure raises stress hormone levels in the body and this makes a person feel perpetually hungry. Stress can also throw blood sugar levels off, resulting in more cravings for sweets. Beck says this, coupled with things like snack machines in lunchrooms, too many office birthday cakes and the guy in the next cubicle with the dish of Hershey's Kisses on his desk further add to the problem. Beck suggests office workers keep their desks well-stocked with healthier snacks and drink more water — H2O can help you feel more full and it's better than quenching your thirst with pop, she says. Also, making time for exercise, using the stairs and eating proper breakfasts and lunches all go a long way. Will power will probably be your strongest ally in beating the urge to snack — so, just say no.


Common sense tips to beat the common cold

Cold and flu season is once more upon us, which means millions of Canadians will soon be reaching for Kleenexes and cough drops. And while there is no known cure for the common cold, the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. does have some tried and tested remedies that may take some of the sting out of this year’s cold bug. First and foremost, keep drinking fluids. Water, juices, and clear broths won’t actually drown the cold germs, but they will loosen congestion and keep you hydrated, which will help bolster your body’s natural defenses. Water with a bit of lemon and honey can be particularly helpful. But you should avoid alcohol, caffeinated pop and coffee like the plague when you are sick– they’ll dehydrate you. On the other hand salt, when mixed with water and gargled, can help sooth the pain of a sore or scratchy throat. Speaking of salt, over the counter saline-based nasal sprays are a non-pharmaceutical and non-irritating method of battling a stuffy nose. And don’t forget the chicken soup. According to the Mayo Clinic, this age-old curative actually contains anti-inflammatory properties and will also help speed up the movement of mucus through the nasal passages, which helps the body expel the virus from the lining of the nose more rapidly. And don’t worry if you can’t cook — according to researchers, canned chicken soup was found to be just as effective as the homemade variety. Surprisingly, the Mayo Clinic warns against excessive use of over-the-counter cold remedies. Most have side effects and if used for more than a few days can actually make symptoms worse.


Beware of energy drinks

Tired at work? Maybe a can of Red Bull, Rock Star or one of the other popular brands of energy drinks currently on the market will pick you up. However, doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical School in the U.S. are warning people to think twice before chugging another tin of their favourite brand of rocket fuel. At the very least, they advise, you might want to read the label first. "The caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola," says Dr. Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins. Griffiths recently wrote an article that’s raising the alarm on the adverse health effects of energy drinks. It appears in the October edition of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to a condition known as caffeine intoxication, which can create a host of health problems including anxiety, insomnia and rapid heart beat. Griffiths points out that a regular 12-ounce cola drink has about 35 milligrams of caffeine, and a six-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. The caffeine content of energy drinks varies from 50 to more than 500 milligrams, he says. Griffiths is urging health authorities in the U.S. to force makers of the beverages to more clearly label the caffeine levels. "It's like drinking a serving of an alcoholic beverage and not knowing if it’s beer or scotch," says Griffiths.

Alien abduction survival tips

You can never be too careful. That’s the logic behind Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht’s series of bestselling Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide books. The books include step-by-step instructions on everything from how to survive a shark attack and how to land a passenger jet if the crew keels over, to how to safely cross a river infested with hungry piranhas. In fact, it seems there is no situation too outlandish to make the pages of these guides. The two even offer tips on how to survive an alien abduction. According to the authors, if you find yourself in a close encounter with visitors from space who seem interested in taking you home with them as a souvenir, consider the following tips. Remain calm, write Piven and Borgenicht, the little green men might act rashly if you start to panic. Also, control your thoughts, the aliens might have mind reading capability and thinking about abduction might give them ideas. On the other hand, if you focus your mind on a safe place or something protective it might send the aliens the message that you’re not interested in going for a ride in their flying saucer. If that doesn’t work, try speaking to them loudly and firmly. The authors say a commanding voice might deter them – after all, it works on humans. If ET still doesn’t get the message, it may be time for fisticuffs, say the authors. Get the upper hand by going for the creature’s eyes or face. Punch, poke, claw until the creature is off balance, then make a run for it.

Mari-Len De Guzman

Mari-Len De Guzman is the former editor of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine and www.cos-mag.com.
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