My Recipe

Japanese Beef Curry

Ingredients:

12 oz top sirloin steak/beef flank steak
6 oz onion
8 oz broccoli florets
2 tsp garlic (minced)
2 tsp ginger (minced)
1 pack (110 g) Japanese curry sauce (hot)

Beef Marinade:

1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce
1 Tbsp sake
1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp cornstarch

Sauce:

3 cups water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp Mirin sweet seasoning (Honteri)
1-1/2 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce

Method:

  1. Thinly slice beef and add marinade. Set aside for about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut onion into chunks.
  3. Break up packages of curry into several pieces.
  4. Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.
  5. Boil 5 cups of water in a 4-litre pot. Add broccoli and blanch for 1 minute without covering pot. Remove and drain.
  6. Pour away water in pot. Dry and reheat pot. Add 2 Tbsp oil. Stir-fry beef until no longer pink. Remove.
  7. Rinse, dry and reheat pot. Add 1/2 Tbsp oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add curry. Stir to dissolve. Return broccoli and beef to pot. Bring to a boil. Remove and serve hot with cooked rice.

Nutrition value for 1/6 portion of recipe:

Calorie 223, Fat 12.4 g, Carbohydrate 13 g, Fibre 2 g, 5 g, Cholesterol 27 mg, Sodium 797 mg, Protein 15 g.


Five Notable Developments in Health and Fitness Research in 2015

Alex Hutchinson wrote . . . . .

Big breakthroughs grab the headlines, but health research progresses slowly and incrementally. As a corrective, here’s a progress report on five topics that have seen notable developments this year.

Will too much exercise kill you?

The background: A study of 53,000 patients at the Cooper Clinic in Texas produced a counterintuitive finding: Those who exercised the most were seemingly no healthier than those who didn’t exercise at all. Instead, the biggest longevity benefits accrued to those who exercised “moderately,” the equivalent of running less than 32 kilometres a week.

The update: This debate continues to simmer, with several researchers questioning the methodology of the original study. One problem is the accuracy of self-reported exercise data. A better solution is to look at aerobic fitness (sometimes referred to as VO2 max), which can be measured objectively. A long-term study of 38,000 patients by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, published this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that greater fitness was linked to greater longevity, with benefits that continued to increase even at the very highest levels of fitness.

Tendon injuries

The background: For athletes of all levels, overuse injuries such as tennis elbow and Achilles tendinosis are common hazards. Despite the promise of newer therapies such as platelet-rich plasma injections and nitroglycerin patches, these tendon problems remain stubbornly persistent and difficult to treat.

The update: In a British Journal of Sports Medicine study published online in October, researchers from the University of Cape Town review the growing evidence that tendon injuries run in families. A small number of gene variants affect the structure of collagen fibrils, the underlying units of tendons and ligaments, leaving some people more susceptible than others to tendon injuries. Does knowing you’re susceptible help you avoid these injuries? That’s what direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies are claiming, but the authors of the review remain skeptical about the benefits of such tests – for now.

The brain benefits of exercise

The background: It’s increasingly clear that exercise is as good for the brain as it is for the body. You’ll score better on cognitive tests immediately after a moderate workout, and the gains accumulate over weeks of regular exercise. The mechanism is thought to involve a rise in growth-promoting brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, but it’s not clear how much or what type of exercise is most effective.

The update: To investigate the optimal brain-boosting exercise dose, a University of Kansas study assigned older adults to walk for between zero and 225 minutes a week for 26 weeks. As little as 75 minutes a week was enough to improve scores on a battery of cognitive tests, and there were further gains all the way up to 225 minutes. The overall pattern was that those who made biggest improvements in aerobic fitness also saw the biggest boosts in cognitive scores. Get your body fit, in other words, and the brain will follow.

Boosting fuel efficiency

The background: The biggest engine doesn’t always win the race. Particularly over long distances, it also helps to be efficient – to consume as little energy as possible while pedalling your bike at a given rate or running at a given speed. But we know very little about what types of training boost cycling and running efficiency.

The update: Researchers at the University of Verona, in Italy, recently presented the results of a study in which runners with an average age of 44 were assigned to either run and do leg-press exercises to strengthen their legs, or just run for eight weeks. The strengthening group improved their running economy (a measure analogous to gas mileage in a car) by 5 per cent – without adding any muscle mass. That suggests the neuromuscular connections between brain and muscle, rather than the muscle itself, hold the key to boosting efficiency.

Minimizing effort

The background: Why are we so good at coming up with excuses to skip a workout? In surveys, we claim we’re too busy; but the rise of high-intensity workouts that require less than 10 minutes a couple of times a week make that excuse less plausible. Instead, some researchers argue that the feeling of effort is the biggest barrier, a powerful evolutionary hangover that encourages us to be as “lazy” as possible and avoid wasting energy.

The update: In a recent editorial in the journal Sports Medicine, University of Kent researcher Dr. Samuele Marcora argues that we should try to develop psychoactive drugs that reduce the perception of effort during exercise (or enhance positive feelings such as “runner’s high”). This may feel like unneeded medicalization of laziness, Marcora acknowledges, but reducing barriers to exercise could have enormous public health benefits. Besides, he adds, we don’t seem to have any problem with using caffeine for this purpose.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Cooking Class: How to Make Chinese-style Tomato Garnish

Procedure:

Cut a tomato in half lengthwise. Turn the tomato cut side down. Make a diagonal cut toward the center and about 1/8 inch from the middle of the tomato half. On the other side, 1/4 inch from the first cut, make another diagonal cut down toward the center of the tomato. Both cuts should meet and form a wedge.

Make several diagonal cuts in the same manner at 1/4-inch intervals. The final cuts will produce two wedges.

Remove the two wedges. Starting at the pointed end, cut the skin, and attached meat, down to two-thirds of the length of the tomato wedge. Gently bend back the skin from the rest of the wedge to form a petal. Repeat this procedure with the other wedge. Return the wedges to their original place.

Gently move each tomato slice, as illustrated, to form a “tiers’ (layers)


Plated Dish

Health Anxiety (Hypochondria)

Introduction

Most of us worry about our health from time to time, and some of us have to manage serious medical conditions. But for some people, health worries become overwhelming and a problem in itself.

Hypochondria (health anxiety) is excessive worrying about your health, to the point where it causes great distress and affects your everyday life.

Some people with health anxiety have a medical condition, which they worry about excessively. Others have medically unexplained symptoms, such as chest pain or headaches, which they are concerned may be a sign of a serious illness, despite the doctor’s reassurance.

Others may be permanently anxious about their future health, worrying about things like: “What if I get cancer or heart disease?”

What causes health anxiety?

There are many reasons why someone worries too much about their health.

You may be going through a particularly stressful period of your life. There may have been illness or death in your family, or another family member may have worried a lot about your health when you were young.

Personality can be a factor. You may be vulnerable to health anxiety because you are a worrier generally. You may find it difficult to handle emotions and conflict, and tend to “catastrophise” when faced with problems in your life.

Sometimes, health anxiety can be a symptom of a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety disorder, which needs recognising and treating in its own right (see below).

Types of health anxiety

People with health anxiety can fall into one of two extremes:

  • Constantly seeking information and reassurance – for example, obsessively researching illnesses from the internet, booking frequent GP appointments, and having frequent tests that don’t find any problems.
  • Avoidant behaviour – avoiding medical TV programmes, GP appointments and anything else that might trigger the anxiety, and avoiding activities such as exercise that are perceived to make the condition worse.

Neither of these behaviours are helpful, and need addressing if you are to break the vicious circle of health anxiety.
Health anxiety can be a vicious circle

If you constantly check your body for signs of illness, such as a rash or bump, you will eventually find something. It often won’t be anything serious – it could be a natural body change, or you could be misinterpreting signs of anxiety (such as increased heart rate and sweating) as signs of a serious condition. However, the discovery tends to cause great anxiety and make you self-check even more.

You may find yourself needing more reassurance from doctors, friends and family. The comfort you get from this reassurance may be short-lived, or you may stop believing it, which only means you need more of it to feel better. Seeking reassurance just keeps the symptoms in your head, and usually makes you feel worse.

When physical symptoms are triggered or made worse by worrying, it causes even more anxiety, which just worsens the symptoms. Excessive worrying can also lead to panic attacks or even depression.

Have I got health anxiety?

If you can answer “yes” to most of the following questions, it’s likely that you are affected by health anxiety and might benefit from talking to your GP.

During the past six months:

  • Have you been preoccupied with having a serious illness because of body symptoms, which has lasted at least six months?
  • Have you felt distressed due to this preoccupation?
  • Have you found that this preoccupation impacts negatively on all areas of life, including family life, social life and work?
  • Have you needed to carry out constant self-examination and self-diagnosis?
  • Have you experienced disbelief over a diagnosis from a doctor, or felt you are unconvinced by your doctor’s reassurances that you are fine?
  • Do you constantly need reassurance from doctors, family and friends that you are fine, even if you don’t really believe what you are being told?

How your GP can help

Once your GP has established that you do suffer from health anxiety, and there is no serious underlying physical cause for any symptoms you might have, they should investigate whether you might have a problem, such as depression or anxiety disorder, that may be causing or worsening your symptoms.

If this is the case, you may be referred for psychological therapy and you may benefit from antidepressants (see below).

If this is not the case, the aim should still be to help you become less worried about your health. You may find that your GP’s advice and self-help resources (see below) are all you need to start feeling better, or you may still benefit from a referral for psychological therapy.

Psychological therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for many people with health anxiety.

It involves working with a trained CBT therapist to identify the thoughts and emotions you experience and the things you do to cope with them, with the aim of changing unhealthy thoughts and behaviours that maintain health anxiety.

CBT looks at how to challenge the way you interpret symptoms, to encourage a more balanced and realistic view. It should help you to:

  • learn what seems to make the symptoms worse
  • develop methods of coping with the symptoms
  • keep yourself more active, even if you still have symptoms

However, CBT is not the best treatment for everyone with health anxiety. Some people may benefit more from a different psychological therapy, such as trauma-focused therapy or a psychotherapy that will help a particular psychological condition.

Accurate assessment is needed to select the right treatment for you and for your problem, so, if necessary, you may be referred to a mental health specialist for this next step.

Medication

Antidepressants may be helpful if you have a mental health condition such as depression. For some people, these may work better than CBT. Your GP can directly prescribe antidepressants or refer you to a mental health specialist for treatment.

However, treating your symptoms with medication is not always the answer and the possible benefits of medication always need to be weighed against the potential negative effects.

Source: NHS Choice


Read more

Health Anxiety – A self help guide (pdf) . . . . .

Study Finds that Aging Warps Our Perception of Time

Much like trying to watch a video with the audio out of synch, older adults may have difficulty combining the stimuli they see and hear, and it could have implications for rapid decision-making tasks such as driving, according to new research.

A recent study from the University of Waterloo found that seniors have a harder time distinguishing the order of events than younger adults. When researchers presented them with both a light and sound at the same or different times, they found that young and older adults could determine whether they occurred simultaneously with similar accuracy. But when asked to determine which appeared first, the light or the sound, older adults performed much worse.

“To make sense of the world around us, the brain has to rapidly decide whether to combine different sources of information,” said Michael Barnett-Cowan, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and senior author on the paper. “Older adults often experience problems processing multisensory information, which in turn can affect everyday tasks from following conversations, to driving, to maintaining balance.”

In another test, researchers showed the study participants two lights travelling towards one another. Usually the lights appear to stream past each other, but when a sound occurs close to when the lights touch, they seem to bounce off each other. In this test, older adults continued to perceive the lights as bouncing even when the sound occurred well before or after the lights touched, suggesting that older adults combine sensory information that should not belong together.

This is the first study to test multiple ways in which younger and older people combine sensory information in time. The findings provide new hope that by strengthening the link between these brain processes as people age, the impairments in distinguishing the order of events and perceived collisions could reduce. Possible solutions for improving impaired perceptions of time in the older adults could come from training using video games or brain stimulation.

“Health professionals are able to address many changes in our vision and hearing as we age using corrective lenses and hearing aids, for example. But these interventions don’t help with changes in the brain’s ability to combine sensory information,” said Barnett-Cowan. “If we can identify and address impaired timing of events in the elderly, we could potentially improve the quality of life, safety and independence for many older people.”

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of the driving population. According to the National Blueprint for Injury Prevention In Older Drivers, driving-related deaths are the leading cause of accidental deaths for Canadians aged 65 to 75 years of age. The number of older drivers in Canada is expected to double by 2040. Barnett-Cowan says it is possible that the tests that made up this study could one day be part of driver examinations required for older drivers.

The study appears in Experimental Brain Research.

Source: University of Waterloo


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