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ON June 2, 2011, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama introduced “My Plate,” the new basic food guide to replace the outdated Food Pyramid of 1992.

With her in Washington, D.C. for the unveiling were Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin.

“The new design called ‘My Plate’ was conceived as a crucial part of Mrs. Obama’s campaign against obesity, designed to remind consumers about the basics of a healthful diet,” writes William Neuman of The New York Times.

“My Plate” is simpler, easier to understand, and a more practical guide, whose main emphasis is on vegetables, whole grain, nuts, fruits, and less on carbohydrates and meat, unlike the Food Pyramid, whose wide base consisted of 6-11 servings of bread, cereals, rice and pasta groups, a heavy dose of carbohydrates.

Since proper diet is a most crucial regimen in a healthy lifestyle, Mrs. Obama’s health crusade will go a long way in inspiring us to eat healthier, in controlling the epidemic of obesity, and in preventing diseases and premature deaths in the United States, if not in the whole world.

While many of us continue to consume a lot of red meat and other high cholesterol and processed food items daily, medical science has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that this diet is unhealthy and a significant factor in the development of high blood pressure, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, heart attack, stroke and even cancer.

The new food guide underscores a healthier option, consisting primarily of fish, white chicken meat, ample vegetables, whole grain, nuts and fruits.

Studies have shown how this diet, like the famous Mediterranean Diet, lowers the incidence of all those diseases listed above, besides helping control weight and obesity.

The potent antioxidants from natural food items, like vegetables, especially the green leafy ones, fruits, like the various berries, whole grains and nuts boost the immune system, shielding the body from infections and diseases in general.

Together with daily exercise (walking, dancing, swimming, aerobics, jogging, some weight bearing, etc.), a healthy diet can prevent, or even cure, early diabetes, early heart diseases, arthritis, and ward off various forms of cancers.

Part of the regimen, of course, is abstinence from tobacco and moderation in alcoholic intake.

While some of us may have acquired bad habits and made poor choices not conducive to health in the past, it is never too late to start, and benefit from, living a healthy lifestyle at any age.

In this digital age, where there is an explosion of technical information on the world wide web, accessible in seconds, we no longer have the excuse our parents and/or grandparents had: “We did not know any better.”

Facts and statistics, medical and otherwise, are instantly available to everyone on the Internet, at the comfort of our home, for free!

All we need are our wisdom, common sense, and resolve to love and protect our body from harm, and maximize health and longevity.

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Zinc toxicity from denture creams

On Feb. 15, 2011, WebMD reported “an increasing number of mysterious nerve damage which turned out to be caused by overuse of popular denture products.”

According to this revelation, “the culprit: zinc in Fixodent, from Procter & Gamble...and in Poligrip from GlaxoSmithKline,” which became zinc-free May 2011.

These two denture fixing creams are very popular among denture-wearers.

Zinc is an essential mineral in human physiology but, in excess, it is toxic.

The body balances zinc and copper level, and when one is low, the other one goes up.

Too much zinc, for example, will lower the copper level, and vice versa. Zinc overdose leads to low copper level, which, in turn, “causes bone marrow suppression and degeneration of the spinal cord, usually resulting in crippling nerve damage, called the human swayback disease,” says the report.

Other symptoms can include inability to sense pain, muscles weakness, excessive sweating, constipation, bladder dysfunction, twitching, hypersensitivity and even paralysis.

Since one patient has died in Georgia and some patients became wheelchair-bound, determined to be caused by the denture cream, there have been a number of lawsuits filed against the two companies.

The great mystery behind patients developing spastic gait, weakness and numbness of arms and legs, and difficulty in ambulation has now been found in 2007 and confirmed in 2008 to be due to deficiency in copper as a result of overdose in zinc, on patients who did not have any exposure to zinc except thru the use of one of those denture creams.

“Poorly fitting dentures requiring large amounts of denture cream to provide a sufficient seal appear to be the common characteristics of patients,” quoted WebMD of Hedera and colleagues in their article in the journal Neurotoxicology.

The alarming report linking since zinc poisoning to dental creams by ABS News brought all this out in the open.

Experts say that many patients with poorly fitting dentures unwittingly use excessive amount that is unsafe, causing zinc toxicity over time with resultant fall in the copper level to an unsafe level.

It is most important to follow strictly the instructions on the label of any product about its proper use.

The recommendation is for those concerned to discuss their particular problem with their dentist without delay.

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‘ICE’ may save your life

“ICE,” which stands for “In Case of Emergency,” is a neat idea that can save lives.

It is a piece of credit-card size paper or a card for the wallet, where one can print his/her name, address, relative to call in case of emergency, and medical info, such as allergies, medications and dosage, attending physician’s name and phone number.

The sophisticated digital version of this is an implantable computer chip, which can hold megabytes of data.

The tiny tubular chip is “injected” under the skin using local anesthesia.

This chip can be scanned by paramedics, or by healthcare providers in the emergency room, to retrieve data to help expedite and maximize patient care.

While we are building up our nerve (and pocketbook) to receive this expensive “chip shot,” we can print our own ICE today without pain and for free.

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