Friday, December 13, 2013

Understanding Adolescent Brain Development

The Owner's Manual For Driving Your Adolescent Brain
by Dr. JoAnn Deak and Dr. Terrence Deak

Illustrations by Freya Harrison

In The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain (Little Pickle Press, November 2013) renowned educator and psychologist Dr. JoAnn Deak and neuroscience expert Dr. Terrence Deak offer an easy understanding of brain function in a fun and engaging format for young teens, parents, and educators.

New research shows how the adolescent's brain develops

"Scientists previously thought most major brain development occurred in the first decade or 'the formative years,'" says Dr. JoAnn Deak. "But new research shows some parts of the brain become fully robust in adolescence. Simply put, if you use individual parts of your brain during their developmentally critical periods, then they will be stronger and more effective as an adult."

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain is the exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, the innovative children's picture book for kids from five to nine. The new book targets adolescents from ten to fourteen and emphasizes what neuroscientists call the "plasticity" of the brain into early adulthood.
"I've found that if adolescents understand how flexible their brains are, they're willing to study subjects and take on challenges they may otherwise avoid," she says.

Author Dr. JoAnn Deak has been at the forefront of training educators interested in brain function. The National Association of Independent Schools and the American Montessori Society have heralded Dr. JoAnn Deak's ability to demystify child development, learning, identify formation, and brain research.

Dr. JoAnn Deak's nephew, Dr. Terrence Deak, is the co-author of the second book in the Brain series. Dr. Terrence Deak runs a highly active laboratory of behavioral neuroscience as an associate professor in the Psychology Department at Binghamton University (SUNY).

"I was delighted when my aunt asked me to help her with The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain. It's a unique experience working alongside a family member with mutual intellectual pursuits," Dr. Terrence Deak says. "I see this book as a way to get adolescents and parents to begin conceptualizing life experiences in terms of basic neural functions. The earlier that understanding begins, the greater the opportunity for learning down the road."

JoAnn Deak, Ph.D. has spent more than thirty years as an educator and psychologist helping children develop into confident and competent adults. For the last fifteen years, she has helped adults, parents, and teachers understand and appreciate their role in childhood brain development. Today, Dr. JoAnn Deak consults with organizations and schools throughout the world. 

Terrence Deak, Ph.D. joined the faculty at Binghamton University in 2001, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and neuroscience. His laboratory research focuses on stress responsive systems and neural-immune interactions across the lifespan, with an emerging emphasis on alcohol effects on brain development, and has been funded through the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and several private foundations over the past decade.

Little Pickle Press is a 21st century publisher of children's media, dedicated to helping parents and educators cultivate conscious, responsible little people by stimulating explorations of the meaningful topics of their generation through a variety of media, technologies, and techniques. Little Pickle Press was named among the "Best for the World" B Corporations and awarded Independent Publisher of the Year by ForeWord Reviews. 

The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain (Little Pickle Press, November 2013) is available at,, and bookstores nationwide.


KidsHealth's® Annual List Highlights Top Issues Affecting the Health of Children Worldwide

Wilmington, DE, December 12, 2013 — Can you imagine living on less than $2.50 a day? It doesn't seem possible, yet that's the reality for almost half the world's population. The effects of living in poverty are particularly dangerous to children., the #1 website devoted to children's health and development, puts poverty first on its list of the 5 critical issues affecting the world's children. As they do each year, the physicians and editors at KidsHealth sifted through health issues affecting children and families to choose the most critical childhood concerns.
"Huge progress has been made in so many critical areas involving children's health. Yet there is still important work to be done that doesn't involve expensive new drugs or surgical procedures," Neil Izenberg, MD, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of KidsHealth, says. "Instead, it's about the basics that most of us take for granted. We have identified 5 issues that desperately need the world's attention – and suggested some ways that families can help."
Of course, other important issues affect children's health, but in the midst of many, these are notable:

5 Critical Global Issues Affecting Children:

  1. Poverty: Almost half the world's population lives in poverty. And 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.25 a day. In developing countries, poverty means starvation, disease, squalid living conditions, unclean water and poor sanitation, limited or no access to education and medical care, and high crime rates. And it's children who suffer the most – according to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day because of poverty-related causes. Almost 30% of all children in developing countries are thought to be underweight or have stunted growth. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty, as these kids are less likely later to be able to earn a living wage to support themselves and their families.
  2. Clean Water: In most parts of the world, we take clean running water for granted. So it's shocking to learn that 780 million people lack clean water and 2.5 million people don't have access to a toilet. UNICEF reports that more than 5,000 children under age 5 die each day because of diarrheal diseases, often contracted through contaminated drinking water or no access to sanitation facilities, like bathrooms with flushable toilets. In developing countries, the task of collecting water usually falls to women and children, and means hours-long walks from the home to collect the water several times a day. This burden means the adults are not working at a paying job and the kids are not in school. Yet it could be an easy problem to fix. The World Health Organization estimates that it would cost $11.3 billion per year for global clean water and sanitation – in comparison, Americans spend about $450 billion each year to celebrate Christmas.
  3. Education for Girls: While primary school enrollment in developing countries has risen to 90%, worldwide, 57 million children are not enrolled in school. The link to poverty is clear: Girls who receive little or no education face limited job prospects, putting them at an increased risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation. They're also more likely than educated girls to contract HIV/AIDS. Educated girls are better able to find good jobs, keeping themselves and, later, their own children out of poverty.
  4. Wiping Out Polio: Since the polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, worldwide cases plummeted and the disease was declared eliminated in the Unites States in 1979. Global immunization was so successful that polio was poised to join smallpox as the only infectious diseases to have been eradicated. But in three countries — Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan — polio has never been wiped out, and cases of polio have been reported in Syria. Polio in faraway countries might not seem like a global concern. But as long as polio is present anywhere, outbreaks are still a risk. In fact, health experts warn that Syrian refugees could unwittingly carry the virus to parts of Europe. Until the disease is finally wiped out, it is a threat to all.
  5. Infant Mortality: The joy of giving birth is usually accompanied by a sense of wonder while watching a tiny, fragile creature take those first breaths. Luckily, for most new mothers, skilled medical attendants are on hand to make sure that all goes well during and just after delivery. Yet each year almost 3 million babies die within the first month of life, mostly in low- and middle-income countries where nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not have medical care. Many of these deaths can be prevented through simple, affordable interventions that can be used in home births.

KidsHealth has compiled a list of organizations that are working to fight these global issues. For families who want to help, we recommend these organizations:
  • UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund): As little as 50 cents a day can make a big difference, and there are many volunteer opportunities. Remember trick-or-treating for UNICEF? That Kids Helping Kids campaign continues today.
  • BRAC: The focus is on giving loans for enterprises that can pull some of the world's poorest families out of poverty (for instance, raising chickens for eggs and meat). Besides lending the money, BRAC provides training and support to its borrowers.
  • This nonprofit organization (whose motto is "Safe water & the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime.") has brought clean-water solutions to communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America.
  • Global Education Fund: This group works to educate all kids. Families can donate, spread the word, start a fundraiser, host an event, and much more.
  • End Polio Now: Rotary International, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are at the forefront the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  • Every Beat Matters: Save the Children's newborn and child survival campaign works to make basic lifesaving health care available to children in the world's poorest countries by training and supporting frontline health workers.

To read more about our 2014 Global Kids' Health Issues and other organizations that welcome donations and help, visit:

About KidsHealth® is the #1 site devoted to children's health and development in English and Spanish. Each year, over 250 million parents, kids, and teens turn to for expert answers, making it the Web's most-accessed site on children's health. has been honored as one of the 30 Best Websites by U.S. News & World Report, one of the 50 Coolest Websites by TIME magazine, and the Best Family Health Site "For Moms" by Good Housekeeping. KidsHealth also creates KidsHealth in the Classroom, a free website for educators featuring standards-based health curricula, activities, and handouts. KidsHealth comes from Nemours, one of the nation's largest nonprofit pediatric health systems and a founding member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, a partner to First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign that mobilizes the nation to eliminate childhood obesity within a generation. For more information about KidsHealth, please visit

6 secrets to weight loss

Created for Courthouse Clinics by Elena Manighetti

Thursday, December 12, 2013

John Wm. Macy's Cheesesticks for all your Parties and Holiday feasts

In October we had the opportunity to try and do a feature on John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks.  I recently had the opportunity to use John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks and CheeseCrisps in making great appetizers for parties and snacking this Holiday season.  Macy's Cheesesticks make it very easy to come up with great and appealing snacks. 

I promise that these combinations will be a huge hit for all of your guests and family.  The best part is as well that you can mix and match any of the combinations to your liking.

One combination that is nice is using the Melting Romano CheeseCrisps with a cherry tomato on the Cheese Crisp with baby mozzarella on top of the tomato topped with a sprig of fresh parsley.  To take it up another step place all the ingredients on the CheeseCrisp but the parsley and place in on a cookie sheet.  Broil in your over for a few minutes till the mozzarella is slightly melted and browned.  Top with your fresh parsley.  For those that don't like tomatoes you can leave them out. 

 For those that love artichokes this next combination is wonderful.  Using Macy's Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps place a sundried tomato on the CheeseCrisp followed with a sliced artichoke heart or a piece topped with a black olive cut in half.  If you love artichoke hearts I suggest the bigger the piece the better.  Don't be afraid to buy artichoke hearts in seasoning.  It will give it additional flavoring.  If you are wanting to really experiment add a slice of Gruyere cheese in with the sundried tomato and artichoke and top with the black olive.

For a sweet and rich flavoring combines try using the Asiago CheeseCrips with Stilton cheese directly on the CheeseCrisp followed by walnuts and topped with Greek honey.  Stilton has a sharp rich flavor which when combined with the sweet of the honey makes a wonderful combination for your taste buds.  Toasting the walnuts before and then adding them warm to the Stilton and CheeseCrisp also adds a different flavor to this combination.

If you are anything like me though and love cheese and meat platters any of the CheeseStick or CheeseCrisp go with them.  One of my favorite cheese is Brie and with any of the CheeseCrisp make for a great snack.  By placing different cheeses, meats and pickles on a platter with an assortment of CheeseSticks and CheeseCrisps allows everyone to make their own fun combinations.  I have found myself even at night snacking on CheeseCrisps topped with a homemade cheeseball. 

 There are many more combinations to try and I would love to know which ones you all enjoy and prefer.  

I hope that this Christmas season that you may enjoy being with friends and loved ones and hope that you can make John Mn.Macy's products a part of your dishes. 

John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks line includes both savory CheeseStick varieties along with three dessert SweetSticks in these flavors
  • Romano Garlic CheeseSticks
  • Dijon Swiss CheeseSticks
  • Cheddar & Scallion CheeseSticks
  • Melting Parmesan CheeseSticks 
  • Asiago & Cheddar CheeseCrisps 
  • Smoked Jalapeño CheeseCrisps
  • Sesame Gruyere CheeseCrisps
  • Melting Romano CheeseCrisps
  • Java Cinnamon SweetSticks 
  • Madagascar Vanilla SweetSticks
  • Dutch Chocolate SweetSticks

Sunday, December 01, 2013

How to Beat Post-Vacation Blues

by Rita Anya Nara

Coming home after a vacation can be a let down
Here's a quick quiz. Which of the following do you do when you get back home from a spectacular trip?

a)  Go to bed, even after you've recovered from jet lag
b)  Have a beer (or two or three) and ignore your pile of bills for a week
c)  Turn on the Travel Channel and leave it on (after you've gone to bed)
d)  Look around your home with subtle disgust and distaste
e)  Two or more of the above

If you have a slight grimace on your face, keep reading.

Let's be honest: bringing your vacation to a close can be a rewarding, emotional, and draining experience. After you've seen, done, and been a part of many incredible things away from home, it can be hard to move on – and even more challenging not to slip into a major funk as you compare your vacation lifestyle with the realities waiting at home. Here are some ideas for preventing post-trip doldrums from turning into a real bout of depression. While they're not going to make you feel as great as you did while dining in London or Rome, you might find yourself feeling as good or even better than you did before you left for your trip — and with some energy left over to dream about your next getaway.

Manage your Restlessness. Traveling comes with a certain intensity and compression that can be difficult to unwind from. It also has the effect of "slowing" time, since you often do more different and eye-opening things in a single day than you might in a week at home. When you return, the restlessness you get from not doing something "new and different" can be downright unnerving. This restlessness usually goes away within three to six weeks of settling back into your everyday life. If you have the time, try taking smaller day trips in the weeks after your return to wear it off.

Become More Active. When you travel, you might realize that you're not in the shape you thought you were, and as you gradually increase your fitness level during your trip, you may notice how much better you feel. This can inspire you to join a gym or take up a sport (including one you tried on your vacation) when you return. Becoming more active will not only make it easier to be in shape for the next trip; it can give any mounting depression a cheerful kick in the face. You may also conveniently lose some of the weight you gained at that last round of restaurants in Venice.

Clean Your House. Sound like an odd suggestion? Besides being obviously practical, cleaning your house can help you clear your head and reconnect with your usual surroundings. Your own home can feel unfamiliar and even strange after you've been through four or five hotel rooms in a row. Doing some cleaning will also help you find physical (and emotional) space for everything you brought home so you're not tripping over your half-unpacked suitcase every time you meander to the coffee table for your copy of Conde Nast Traveler. Finally, you may start to redecorate with small things you bought on your trip, such as placemats, pottery, and wall hangings, so that you're spreading the joy of your vacation around you, literally.

Clean OUT Your House. Living out of a suitcase can make you realize just how little you need to lead a full life. A lot of people are inspired to unload a number of little-used items from their home after they return from vacation, and find it convenient to host a garage sale or sell items on eBay in order to make money for the next trip. Having fewer possessions can also focus you more on your present life, and give you a far greater sense of freedom. And making a nice chunk of money to put towards Tokyo or Hong Kong is going to do wonders for your mood.

Start a New Hobby. During a trip you're exposed to a myriad of new and different things – or the same things that you are used to, but in a different context. A common hobby you may take up after returning home is learning how to cook a certain ethnic food, or studying the language of a place you plan to revisit. Such things often need only a modest investment in time or money, and give you that exhilarating feel you get while on a trip — of doing something for the first time.

Make New Acquaintances and Friends. To relive positive memories, you may be unable to resist telling others a lot about your trip – even if you've never shared much of anything with anyone. Since people are generally curious to hear firsthand experiences of other places and cultures, your chances of being rebuffed are pretty minimal. To coworkers and people who don't know you well, you become known as "the traveler," which makes a great icebreaker every time you see someone that you didn't feel comfortable talking to before.

And last but not least…

Keep Sharing! A lot of travel bloggers post almost every day while they are abroad, and then wind down their posts or even come to a dead stop when they return home. Don't do this! Save some experiences and photos to share after you've started unpacking; not only will it "extend" your trip, but it can also take some of the pressure off your hectic touring schedule (let's face it, blogging after a 10-hour day in Paris might not be something you can stay awake for). And let's not forget what travel and blogging have in common: connecting you with the world. The more you connect, the less likely you are to get depressed.

 While it's tempting to keep your bags packed for the next trip, sometimes we have to realize that we live in the real world. And the real world isn't bad--it's what you make of it!

Rita Anya Nara suffered from panic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and social anxiety disorder when she started traveling and wrote her book, The Anxious Traveler, from her own experiences. She hopes to inspire those too afraid to travel to manage their fear while having an incredible life experience. Nara is an avid photographer, loves to hike, and is studying to be a professional travel companion. She resides in northern California when she's not traveling.

For further information on the book and the author, please visit

The Anxious Traveler is available for purchase on and

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Anxious Traveler provides expert guidance for seeing the world

Rita Anya Nara
Review by Angelene Heileson

Are you afraid to travel?

Rita Anya Nara struggled with anxiety and chronic stress for most of her life.  Then with the help of her doctor she decided to confront her fears one at a time by touring the world.  The results were amazing and life changing.

In her book The Anxious Traveler, Nara describes the strategies that made her traveling possible.

For example, she describes the problem of eye contact,

"One of the most unnerving things for a traveler with an anxiety disorder is to pass, see, or be passed by hundreds or even thousanss of strangers every day - many of whom, for whatever reason, want you to look back at them."

Nara indicates that it is all right to not make eye contact.  "Save the emotional eneregy it takes to make eye contact for the people who matter more - hotel staff, store clerks, and others who are helping you have a pleasant journey" (pp. 140-141).

Not only does she provide coping means for anxious travelers, but she also gives practical suggestions for getting help while traveling. For example, she describes how modern technology enables the anxious traveler.  She tells how the Internet and email can be used for booking, canceling, and complaining.  "Even cultures that highly value face to face ocmmunications ... find it hard to deny a reservation or an arrangement (such as a room on the quieter side of the hotel, or early check-out) that has a trail of email attached to it" (pp. 220-221).

Bargaining can also be done on the Internet. Some travel retailers allow you to "name your own price" for a plane ticket or hotel room. "If the website doesn't like your offer, 'it' rejects or raises it, so any awkwardness is really between you and your computer, and you simply try again for a bargain," writes Nara.

This book is full of such gems. Even if you are an experienced traveler, you will find it enlightening and worthwhile - particularly if your travel companion is the kind of person who would just as soon stay at home.

About the author
Rita Anya Nara suffered from panic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and social anxiety disorder when she started traveling and wrote her book, The Anxious Traveler, from her own experiences. She hopes to inspire those too afraid to travel to manage their fear while having an incredible life experience. Nara is an avid photographer, loves to hike, and is studying to be a professional travel companion. She resides in northern California when she’s not traveling.

For further information on the book and the author, please visit

The Anxious Traveler is available for purchase on and

Walking Canes - ideal gift for grandma or grandpa

 Buy canes online from


Tutem Masks launches line of chic personal masks

Designer masks
(MINNEAPOLIS) - Tutem Masks brings a novel but needed concept to America: design-savvy, individually wrapped single-use masks that help prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Smart and chic, the patented comfort mask comes in 10 stylish prints to keep travelers, commuters, co-workers, families and the rest of us from getting sick this cold & flu season. There are an estimated 1 billion cases of the common cold in the US per year.

Struck by the need—and a fellow passenger's sneeze—on a crowded flight, founder Jody Vitelli saw an opportunity. Tutem aligns perfectly with increasing trends in wellness, public germ prevention, and the elevation of daily essentials via good design.  

"I was determined to develop a fun, tasteful mask that people would feel good about wearing," says Ms. Vitelli. "These masks are conversational, thoughtful and a very necessary accessory that will help keep us all a bithealthier."

Created to be cool and comfortable in every way possible, Tutem custom prints are fun and its patented breathing chamber makes long wear easier. It won't ruin lipstick or gloss, or muss hair. The latex-free masks are sold two per pack, each individually wrapped with an all-natural CleanWell sanitizing wipe.

Tutem 2-Packs are $8 (10-Packs are $30) and can be purchased online at

Inspired by the Latin word Tutis, meaning "for our safety,"Tutem has arrived to help Americans spread love, not germs.
About Tutem Masks
Tutem Masks is a collection of smart and chic single-use personal masks designed to help prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Made in the USA, Tutemempowers the socially responsible individual with a convenient, highly wearable mask. Wear while traveling, at work or anywhere germs can be spread. For more information visit, log on to the Tutem Masks Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter@TutemMasks.

Fairhaven Health Teams Up with the American Pregnancy Association to Promote Reproductive Wellness

Fairhaven Health and the American Pregnancy Association have teamed up to promote reproductive and pregnancy wellness. Through this partnership, Fairhaven Health will provide and manage an online storefront on the American Pregnancy website featuring products to help couples conceive naturally.

"We're thrilled to be working with the American Pregnancy Association in this capacity," said Ethan Lynette, senior partner at Fairhaven Health. "American Pregnancy is a leader in providing information and support to pregnant and aspiring pregnant women. Fairhaven Health is a leading provider of products for that same population. This partnership leverages the strengths of both organizations for the benefit of couples and babies throughout the U.S. and Canada."

The American Pregnancy Association started in 1995 as a national helpline to support women. The nonprofit's mission has always been to help connect women and families to local resources in their geographic area to enrich their pregnancy, birth and parenting experiences.

"Collaborating with Fairhaven Health only made sense, when our mission is to connect women to resources to help resolve their challenges," said Dr. Brad Imler, President of the American Pregnancy Association. "It was obvious that Fairhaven could provide a variety of resources with one simple call."

Couples can access the American Pregnancy Association's educational articles, discussion forums, and toll-free helpline from the comfort of their home. Educational topics range from getting pregnant to birth and beyond, and all things in between. Whether couples are trying to get pregnant or discovering those first signs of pregnancy, they can participate in the online discussion forums or call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-672-2296 for information, support and access to care.

The American Pregnancy Association also provides an online resource store featuring Fairhaven Health's breadth of products to help couples conceive. Visitors to the American Pregnancy Association website can now learn about and purchase ovulation prediction tools, fertility supplements, and much more.

About Fairhaven Health
Fairhaven Health manufactures a line of natural, doctor-designed products to promote fertility, pregnancy, and nursing health. They provide ovulation prediction tools, natural fertility supplements, prenatal vitamins, and breastfeeding support products, all of which are manufactured in U.S. GMP-certified and FDA regulated facilities.

Fruit flies with better sex lives live longer

Can sexual frustration be bad for your health? Male fruit flies that expected sex – and didn't get it – experienced serious health consequences and aged faster

ANN ARBOR, Mich. —   Sex may in fact be one of the secrets to good health, youth and a longer life – at 
least for fruit flies – suggests a new University of Michigan study that appears in the journal Science.

Sex may result in good health in fruit flies
Male fruit flies that perceived sexual pheromones of their female counterparts – without the opportunity to mate – experienced rapid decreases in fat stores, resistance to starvation and more stress. The sexually frustrated flies lived shorter lives.

Mating, on the other hand, partially reversed the negative effects on health and aging.

"Fruit flies are model organisms for understanding molecular mechanisms of aging. These findings give us a better understanding about how sensory perception and physiological state may be integrated in the brain to affect long-term health and lifespan," says senior author Scott D. Pletcher, Ph.D, professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the U-M Medical School and research professor at the U-M Geriatrics Center.

"The cutting-edge genetics and neurobiology used in this research suggests to us that for fruit flies at least, it may not be a myth that sexual frustration is a health issue. Expecting sex without any sexual reward was detrimental to their health and cut their lives short."

U-M scientists used sensory manipulations to give the common male fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, the perception that they were in a sexually rich environment by exposing them to genetically engineered males that produced female pheromones. They were also able to manipulate the specific neurons responsible for pheromone perception as well as parts of the brain linked to sexual reward (secreting a group of compounds associated with anxiety and sex drive).

"These data may provide the first direct evidence that aging and physiology are influenced by how the brain processes expectations and rewards," Pletcher says. "In this case, sexual rewards specifically promoted healthy aging."

Fruit flies have been a powerful tool for studying aging because they live on average 60 days yet many of the discoveries in flies have proven effective in longer-lived animals, such as mice.

For decades, one of the most powerful ways to slow aging in different species was by limiting their food intake. In a previous study, Pletcher and his colleagues found that the smell of food alone was enough to speed up aging, offering new context for how dietary restriction works.

Additional Authors:  Christi M. Gendron, of U-M.; Tsung‐Han Kuo, of Baylor College of Medicine; Zachary M. Harvanek, of U-M; Brian Y. Chung, of U-M; Joanne Y. Yew, of the National University of Singapore; and Herman A. Dierick, of Baylor College of Medicine.

Disclosures:  None

Funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging (Grants (R01AG030593, TR01AG043972, and R01AG023166) and a Senior Scholar in Aging Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation.

Reference: "Drosophila lifespan and physiology are modulated by sexual perception and reward," Science, November, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Families fighting rare disease ask for help on #GivingTuesday

Holiday spending: How to make it count
How to help families battling a rare disease affecting 15,000 people + many more

Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the holiday shopping season, and this year charities are joining in on the holiday action. After the chaos of Black Friday, followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, holiday shoppers can seize the opportunity to give back for a new holiday trend called, Giving Tuesday.
For two years now, Giving Tuesday has taken place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to create a national day focused on giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are synonymous with holiday shopping.

Interested in seeing how Giving Tuesday should measure up?
  • Last year, research indicated that 37% of American adults brave the crowds for Black Friday shopping.
  • Forbes reported that $5.5 billion was spent last year during Small Business Saturday.
  • Analysts reported total sales of $1.98 billion for Cyber Monday 2012.
  • The first annual Giving Tuesday resulted Paypal mobile donations increasing 487 percent higher than the previous year's total number. The total value of those donations increased 228 percent.
There are almost 6,500 organizations partnered with Giving Tuesday. For most organizations, this last push for 2013 donations is vital to the success of the mission they carry out.

Now one organization organized by patients, families and their doctors are urging people to get involved with Giving Tuesday as a way to help give momentum for a cure.

"We all want to give a gift that is meaningful and demonstrates the love we have for our family and friends," says Jennifer Farmer, Executive Director of the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA). "Giving Tuesday reminds us that a gift can come in the unique form of a contribution to a charity that is making a difference for a loved one or your community. For individuals and families battling a rare disease called Friedreich's Ataxia (FA), you can give the gift of research."

"We are a small organization, but despite this, we have big goals to find a cure. Our research could provide insights into many more diseases related to the neuromuscular system, cardiac system and genetic diseases as a whole. Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity to get us closer to the finish line." continues Farmer.

Friedreich's Ataxia is a genetic, progressive and life-shortening neuromuscular condition for which there is currently no cure. Since the disease affects the neuromuscular system, patients have trouble with coordination, walking and are often bound to a wheel chair. The disease affects 6,000 people in North America and 15,000 people worldwide and every 1 in 100 people are carriers of the compromised  Friedreich's (FA) ataxia gene – yet not many are aware of this.

Through funds already raised, FARA has clinical trials in progress that are showing real promise.

How can you help with Giving Tuesday? 

"With FARA your donation makes a huge impact," says Kyle Bryant, who has Friedreich's Ataxia. "This is an incredible way to be a part of the 'Giving Season' and give something truly meaningful."

Also, when you do support Giving Tuesday, you can go social with #GivingTuesday to share your efforts with the world.

This year, Giving Tuesday will take place on December 3, 2013. For more information about Giving Tuesday, its mission and partners, visit

To donate directly to FARA through Giving Tuesday, please visit:


About FARA and how to help support their cause: The Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to accelerating research leading to treatments and a cure for Friedreich's ataxia. According to Charity Navigator, FARA currently has the highest rating of four stars.
For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Rare" Gene Is Common In African Descendants And May Contribute To Risk Of Heart Disease

"Rare" ApoE Gene Variant Now Believed to be Common in Africans and African Descendants Worldwide. The Gene Can Increase Levels of Triglyceride Fats in Blood, Which May Contribute to Risk of Heart Disease and Other Disorders.

NEW YORK (November 25, 2013) -- Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that a genetic variation that is linked to increased levels of triglycerides -- fats in the blood associated with disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke -- is far more common than previously believed and disproportionally affects people of African ancestry. Investigators say their discovery, reported in the American Journal of Cardiology, reinforces the need to screen this population for high levels of triglycerides to stave off disease.

The finding offers a clue as to why Africans and people of African descent have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes compared to many other populations, says the study's senior author, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell. African Americans with the variant had, on average, 52 percent higher triglyceride levels compared with blacks in the study who did not have the variant.

"The prevalence of the ApoE mutation may put large numbers of Africans and African descendants worldwide at risk for a triglyceride--linked disorder," Dr. Crystal says. "But we don't yet know the extent of that risk or its health consequences.

"Inheriting this genetic variant does not mean a person is going to get heart disease and other diseases. It increases their risk, and screening for fats in the blood -- both cholesterol and triglycerides -- as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important," Dr. Crystal says. "There are many factors at work in these diseases. This may be one player."

The number of Africans and African descendants who may have this gene variant is significant, Dr. Crystal says. "Based on our findings, we estimate that there could be 1.7 million African Americans in the United States and 36 million sub-Saharan Africans worldwide with the variant, which increases risk of the lipid disorder and, to some unknown extent, the diseases associated with it," he says.

So Rare No One Paid Attention

The study began in Qatar, at Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha. 
The gene variant the scientists studied is a single point mutation -- a replacement of one of DNA amino acid with another -- in the ApoE gene, which carries fats and other molecules through the blood. 

Scientists have believed that more than 95 percent of the world's population has one of three common ApoE variants -- 2, 3, or 4. The rest have one of 38 rare ApoE mutations, among them the R145C variant studied in this research. In the three decades since the variant's discovery, only 32 instances of it have been reported in the scientific literature, Dr. Crystal says. 
"This ApoE variant was believed to be so extremely rare that no one paid much attention to it," he says. 

Weill Cornell researchers in Qatar decided to investigate the mutation in their work evaluating the genetics of Qatari natives -- people who have lived in the country for three generations or more. That population is made up of three genetic subpopulations: Arab, Persian, and sub-Saharan African. The researchers were able to look at the genomes of 228 Qatari participants.
To their surprise, investigators found that 17 percent of the African-derived genetic subgroup had the rare ApoE variant. None of the Arab or Persian participants had the mutation.

The team then expanded their study. They looked at participants in the worldwide 1000 Genomes Project (1000G), and found that while the R145C variant is rare to non-existent in populations that are not African or of African descent, it is common (occurring 5 to 12 percent of the time) among African-derived populations, especially those from sub-Sahara.
Weill Cornell Medical College researchers then looked for the variant in New York--area participants taking part in a study on smoking--related lung health. They found that R145C was rare (occurring 0.1 percent of the time) in the 1,012 Caucasians they studied, but common in the 1,266 African-American participants, 4 percent of whom carried the variant.
"This research is a good example of how studying a small population can give you insights that are very relevant to the rest of the world," Dr. Cyrstal says.
The study was supported, in part, by Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar and the Qatar Foundation, Doha, Qatar; and the National Institutes of Health (UL1-RR024996). 
Co-authors include Maen D. Abou Ziki, Yael Strulovici-Bare, Dr. Neil R. Hackett, Dr. Juan L. Rodriguez-Flores, Dr. Jason G. Mezey, Jacqueline Salit, Sharon Radisch, Dr.  Charleen Hollmann, Dr. Lotfi Chouchane, Dr. Joel Malek, and Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, from Weill Cornell Medical College; and Dr. Mahmoud A. Zirie and Amin Jayyuosi from Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar.

Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances -- including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit

Take a page from the celebrity mom handbook and fall in love with Smart Mom Jewelry's chic-ly unique Teething Bling

Smart Mom Tori Spelling
Teething Bling is a mommy must when it's time to hit the town with those tots in tow, and a favorite accessory for star moms like Tori Spelling, Holly Robinson Peete, Melissa Joan Hart, and more! Regular jewelry just won't do when there are tiny hands and eager mouths questing for something fun to chew on and play with. Instead of risking a regular necklace or simply going without, the geniuses behind Smart Mom Jewelry created Teething Bling as a whole new style staple that's fun and safe for little ones and hip to this season's fashion trends.

Just in time for 2014 they've developed a number of hot new collections featuring their trademark charm and dedication to safety. Like all of their pendants, bangles, and key chains, these necklaces are made from the same silicone that regular baby teething toys and coated infant spoons use. They are phthalate, BPA, PVC, lead, and latex free so mom and dad can let them chew to their hearts' content worry free.

The Gemstone line features a strand of stylish beads that are gentle on babies' gums and emerging teeth while exuding elegance. They can't resist feeling the little beads, and mom will be pleased that they won't weigh her down or get caught in her hair.

The gorgeous Cross Shaped Pendant limited edition line is sure to be a favorite with the spiritual moms who want to stay true to their hearts. These graceful necklaces feature chunky crosses in vibrant hues like blue, gold, bronze, and turquoise.

Smart Mom Jewelry has been bringing parents nationwide multipurpose pieces that combine chic style with functionality since 2002. The company was founded by stay-at-home moms, and has continued to be staffed by moms dedicated to creating products that fulfill the needs of parents and their bundles of joy. Their products have been featured in numerous publications including People, Pregnancy & Newborn, and the Washington Post and have won the iParenting Media Award and Mom's Best Award.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hip Guide to Creating Your Sexy & Abundant Life

Review by Angelene Heileson
"I've learned it's not important what we look like on the outside but how we feel in the inside". (Chapter 2, P.15)

Hayley Hobson, is an author, speaker, business coach, yoga and Pilates instructor, holistic nutritional expert, wife and mother.  In her most recent book, "Hip Guide to Creating Your Sexy & Abundant Life" she provides 8 simple things you can do to improve your entire being.  She addresses some of her own real life challenges, ones that many of us can relate with, and shares what she has learned about dealing with those challenges. She openly discusses the struggles she has had with nutrition and diet, physical health, relationships, a career, and much more.  Hayley has learned from trial and error how to balance all parts of her life in order to feel healthy, sexy and happy. At the end of each chapter, she shares various yoga exercises and healthy recipes that she has used to improve her well-being. Her book includes an array of beautiful photos with a modern, clean design.

"Don't forget to relax and enjoy every crazy quirk about each member of your family.  They are the only family you have". (Ch.4 p.65)

What I love about Hayley's book is how candid she is. While reading it, I often related to her experiences.  I appreciate how straightforward Hayley is in sharing her ideas and how she inspires us to desire a better life.  I found myself constantly highlighting the pages and writing notes. I couldn't put the book down. I think anyone who reads this book will find something to help improve their life.    I absolutely LOVED this book.

"Remember this is your life and you get to design it.  You are the author and you get to write the story exactly how you'd like to it to be laid out.  Are you going to write a story you love this year?" (Ch.5 p.86)

For more information visit Hayley's website:
 and Hailey's Facebook page:

"What I've come to learn is that character is not defined by the mistakes we make.  Character is what we do on the face of adversity". (Ch.5 p.89)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weight loss tip for trevelers: The "DELAYED-FLIGHT AIRPORT WORKOUT"

By Kimberly Williams

It is a damp and dreary Monday evening at O'Hare International. Thunderstorms have made departure delays more common than the myriad fast-food stalls I now pass on my way to my scheduled 9:27 p.m. flight to Philadelphia. What better way to end a day of back-to-back meetings than by wasting an hour here, in the epicenter of poor health decisions - the Cinnabons and Subways, the escalators and moving walkways - the dreaded airport. A giant cinnamon roll probably would make my day a little brighter, so reasons that devil on my shoulder who never seems to tire. And those moving walkways - those are sort of fun. Besides, I deserve to treat myself. This day has been rough, and I've earned some enjoyment!

To make matters worse, I realize that I haven't exercised today. With such a hectic schedule, there was simply no time for it. But suddenly, I realize that I have simply been making excuses. Here, in this sprawling labyrinth of terminals and gates, I am met by what could arguably be deemed a walker's paradise. Consider the following:

  • We burn 60-110 calories for every mile walked at a modest 2 mph.
  • The average stride length of a full-grown human is 2.5 ft.
  • At O'Hare, a simple walk from B1 to B22 and back is roughly 1,800 steps.
  • So, from B1 to B22 and back, we're traveling approximately 4,500 ft., or about 85 percent of one mile. This equates to around 50-90 calories burned.

These figures might seem insignificant, but they certainly add up over the course of an entire hour's walk. During my hour-long delay, I've managed to log 6,000 steps in wonderful O'Hare and have easily exceeded my daily goal of 10,000 logged on my Fitbit activity tracker. And, the craving for that once-tantalizing cinnamon roll has subsided, most assuredly because the casual strolling has put my mind and its endless wants at ease. One healthy decision often leads to another - a phenomenon known to all weight-loss advisors and behavioral psychologists, though not nearly as obvious to the busy professional who might not have the luxury of reflecting on his/her every decision and its possible implications.

But patrolling the airport is mindless and boring. And pointless! This was your old self's reasoning, though you can now be sure a mere hour of walking is far from pointless, especially when attempting to best alter your behavior and mindset for the purpose of sustainably losing weight. "Mindless and boring" shouldn't stop you either, as you can always add some excitement to the mix by leveraging one of the following:

If you're the left-brained, analytical type, then count your steps, track your time and record your numbers. That way, you can calculate how far you've traveled, at what pace and/or any other metric that interests you.
If people tend to fascinate you, then look around! There's no better place to people-watch than at a massive airport, especially when you aren't confined to a single gate or terminal.

If you have a smartphone and headphones at your disposal, you can content yourself with some music or a podcast.

Turn those empty hours into a "Delayed-flight Airport Workout." You'll feel better afterwards, having used your time productively as opposed to simply giving in to those never-ending terminal temptations. These are just a few ideas to help you to make the most of your airport downtime. You'll also be more inclined to repeat the same exercise the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. And that's what sustainable weight loss is all about: changing behavior for the better. Why not spark that change at the airport? Is there really anything better to do? I'll let you determine that for yourself - I've got a flight to catch!

About Kimberly Williams
Prior to becoming chief operating officer at Retrofit, Kimberly served as President of both Restaurant Technology Services and Restaurant Application Development International. Kimberly also served as President of a quarter billion dollar subsidiary of Banta Corporation. In her early career, Williams worked for Boston Consulting Group and Arthur Andersen. She holds a BBA degree from University of Michigan and an MBA degree from University of Chicago. For more information go to

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Veteran marathon runner gives tips on overcoming life’s ‘walls’

New memoir says life takes body, mind and spirit to prevail

After completing 48 marathons, 44 of them after doctors told him he’d never run again, Army veteran and chaplain Arthur Coffey knows a thing or two about what it takes to overcome challenges.

Coffey is no stranger to struggle: He’s faced a near-death accident, a broken family, the heartbreaking loss of jobs and a home, a stark medical and mental prognosis and deep depression. He’d hit “walls” in life similar to those faced in a 26.1-mile competition. Then one day, he realized he wasn't truly focused on what it would take to succeed.

Coffey recounts his story in his new book Running for Recovery, a memoir on how to succeed in both literal and figurative marathons of life.

“I’m a ‘wounded healer,’” Coffey said. “I’ve faced and overcame hardships that have made me able to help others who are struggling. Life’s marathons take all of you to overcome – body, mind and spirit.”

Coffey believes the body, mind and spirit are all important elements in facing the challenges of life.

Chapter One, the Body Marathon, introduces a body-mind-spirit "transfer of traininng dynamic." To understand that dynamic. Coffey suggests you ask the following questions: What can I learn from a physical run or challenge that will help me with a mental run or challenge, and vice versa? What can I learn from a spiritual run or challenge that will help me with both a physical and a mental challenge? And, what can i learn from a physical and mental run or challenge that would become a living parable, a reflection of what I'm learning on the spiritual level of life?

This same approach is found in the rest of the book as you read in Chapter Two about the Mind Marathon and in Chapter Three about the Spirit Marathon.

In 1992 on Easter Monday, Coffey ran the Boston Marathon.  It itself this might not have been a great achievement, except that six years earlier he had been involved in an accident while riding his motorcyle that left his body, mind and spirit broken.

By turning to the scriptures and building his spirit first he was able to come back from the physical and mental ruin of his body.

“In my deepest despair, God showed me the way,” said Coffey. “He reversed these and other impossible life conditions, and his Word keeps me moving every day!”

The book, Running for Recovery, recounts his journey back to phsical, mental and spiritual health.

'Running for Recovery: Marathons of the Body, Mind, Spirit'
By: Arthur Coffey
ISBN 978-1-4497-7559-9
Retail price: $27.99
About the author 
Arthur Coffey has a doctorate in holistic healthcare and has been recognized by the by the Armed Forces Chief of Chaplains, National Bible Association, the VA National Headquarters and the Mayo Clinic for his work in using Bible scriptures in creative and medicinal ways. Coffey has completed research on Alzheimer’s disease using scripture as the independent variable. He was featured at the 2000 Mayo Clinic Spiritual Care Research Conference as an outstanding presenter. He is currently retired.