A Study Into Salt And the Heart

Just when we thought we had a reasonable handle on salt and its effect on our hearts a new study gets published to throw us into doubt again. The belief that lowering your salt intake should be a part of eating a healthy diet has now been challenged by a European study.

This latest study, which was conducted using 3,681 people without heart problems, it was demonstrated that the people who had the highest level of salt in their diets were the ones who had the lowest risk of dying from heart disease.

The report has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and it indicates that those who were measured with the highest level of salt in their bodies were four times less likely to die from heart disease. The period of follow up to substantiate these figures was almost eight years.

What the study did confirm though was the role that salt plays in blood pressure with the systolic pressure being slightly higher among those with the highest salt consumption. But, again, the results also indicated that there was no connection between the amount of salt that was consumed and the development of hypertension.

The debate seems set to continue about the message that is being sent out about low-salt diets. It could become apparent that a low-salt diet is only effective for a certain section of people and it won’t be appropriate to send out a blanket message or warning. It could be that some people are simply more sensitive to salt than others and they are the ones who should take care.

You can read more about this particular salt study and the conclusions that may be made on the Journal of the American Medical Association website.

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Awareness Of the Effects of Salt On Our Health Needs To Improve

According to a recent survey that was conducted by the American Heart Association there is a lack of understanding and education about important areas of heart health. This came to light when it was made clear that many people were unaware of a few important facts such as the difference between sea salt and table salt. It is also not understood by many people that the bulk of the daily intake of salt doesn’t come from pouring salt on our food. Instead it is found in high quantities in processed food. The report goes on to say that more people understand the health benefits of drinking wine but the quantities as a daily allowance that is considered healthy.

So, the answers to these two questions, just to clear it up if you were wondering yourself.

Table salt is sourced from the earth where it is dug up from salt mines. Sea salt, on the other hand, is sourced from sea water that has been evaporated leaving behind the salt. The taste is a little different and the sea salt may contain more trace elements due to elements that are found in the water.

As for wine, the recommended daily intake for red wine is eight ounces for men and four ounces for women. This is the amount that the American Heart Association recommends if you wanted to drink red wine as a means of maintaining a healthy heart.

A positive to have come out of the survey seems to be that a majority of people are aware of their blood pressure readings.

Find out a little more about the heart and how to keep it healthy by visiting the American Heart Association website.

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FDA Approval To Hair Renewal Technology

The US FDA has just recently approved a machine that is known as the Artas System to be used commercially for the process of returning life to hair follicles. In an unusual twist to the chances of getting your hair back, though, it will only assist men who have (or used to have) brown or black hair.

When the Artas System, which comprises an image-guided robotic arm, imaging technologies and small dermal punches, is positioned over the scalp it is capable of identifying and harvesting follicular units. These units can be stored until implantation proceeds using manual techniques. The harvesting rates are increased and the process is quicker and less invasive than techniques that have previously been in use.

With many different reasons why hair loss in men occurs, the most common is hereditary androgenic alopecia which is more commonly referred to as “male pattern baldness”. This is generally inherited from either or both sides of the family.

What happens is the hair in the areas that are balding is going through a process where the shaft diameter of the hair shrinks until it eventually disappears. The hair in areas where balding does not occur remains the same and is considered to be permanent hair. Hair transplantation can take place by taking follicular unit grafts from the healthy, permanent hair region and meticulously grafting it into the bald scalp area.

This new Artas System has been designed and manufactured by Restoration Robotics after development in partnership with several leading hair surgeons and it appears to be a means of speeding the process up and of maximising the effectiveness of the process. The result is the possibility of removing any signs of baldness before it begins to become noticeable.

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Get Festive With A Longaberger Easter Basket

We are getting closer to Easter and that means our duties as the Easter Bunny are going to soon be required. In order to fulfil this very important role it will be necessary to equip ourselves properly and, short of donning a pair of rabbit ears and sticking buck teeth into our mouths, this will require an appropriate basket.

Fortunately there are many different types of suitable baskets available but there is one brand of basket in particular that will help you fully embrace the Easter role and that is Longaberger. This is a very famous name in the basket industry and the Longaberger Easter baskets are the ideal classic shape to carry and store Easter eggs.

The looping handle will ensure the basket can be easily held and carried while out on an Easter egg hunt and there is a range of sizes available to cater for those hunts that result in greater finds than others.

A nice feature of the Longaberger Easter baskets is that they are tastefully lined with a colourful basket liner that will be appropriate for the season.

Longaberger is responsible for many different styles of baskets that are all of a very high quality. The Easter basket that you buy to use for this Easter will prove to be very useful all year round, either for the decorative qualities that it brings to a room or for the functional advantages it will provide.

You won’t be limited to choices of a single color when it comes to choosing the Easter basket that you buy either. Longaberger makes their Easter baskets in the traditional plain and white colors but they are also available as pale green, lilac, light blue or a purple jelly bean color if that is what you prefer.

Using any of these Longaberger Easter baskets will provide you with an opportunity to create a much more festive atmosphere as well as injecting a simple sense of fun into the day.

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Try To Decorate With Restraint

When you take a look around the main living areas of your home you may be surprised to discover the actual amount of decorative items that have been gathered and displayed. When putting together a room, many times, it happens rather organically and grows along with you. As you find an object that appeals to your taste you may choose to buy it, only to discover that when you get home it doesn’t really fit where you had imagined it would go. Ultimately, the decorative items that we use and the place they are displayed may be moved around with a great deal of frequency until we find the perfect combination of style and space.

Smaller items that also have functional value such as table lamps and decorative bookends may be something of an exception to this rule. Although many of them are purely decorative items, the fact that they provide more value than merely looking good means that there is really only a single spot they can be placed.

Bookends, for example, are only going to perform when they are placed at either end of a row of books. They come in pairs, often matching pairs, and they are designed to play a protective role over your books. While you might choose to place them on an end table as a small display item, particularly if you own something more valuable such as Roseville pottery bookends. The chances are they will look out of place and should be moved back to play their primary role.

Table lamps are another small piece of furniture that is valuable for the source of illumination they provide. Many designers have created decorative lamps that will add interest to a room and will look appropriate when occupying a small table somewhere in the room. Being able to use a table lamp when light is required at a low level is very important and it is even more important that the light is coming from a part of the room where it will provide the most use. Again, placing it in the room as a decorative object is all very fine but you should also make the most of its functionality too.

There are a number of ways in which the decorative objects in your room can be used for more functional purposes. Pottery vases and bowls will serve perfectly as vessels to hold dried flower arrangements and many people like to show off their decorative plates, cups and saucers. naturally, this would probably not apply if you were a collector of fine art pottery such as Rookwood, Roseville, Weller, Van Briggle or Grueby. One couldn’t imagine doing anything to risk chipping or otherwise damaging such valuable pieces of art.

Keeping the entire room in order is an important aspect to consider when trying to form a cohesive decorative display. Although we would all like to place every beautiful object we have ever admired into our home, sometimes it is better to hold back and decorate with restraint.

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Collect Silver Napkin Rings

There are many different types of items that were commonly used years ago that are not seen quite so much any more. Apart from making terrific collector items, something like a sterling silver napkin ring is probably not going to demand a lot of attention. They are wonderful looking objects and the engraving that is done on some of them makes them well worthwhile tracking down.

High quality sterling silver napkin rings were a symbol of wealth with families in the upper classes possessing sets of them. The more elaborately decorated they were the greater the impression they made on the guests who used them.

If you were going to try to turn a dinner party into something more formal it may be worth your while to get some antique sterling silver napkin rings. Not only will they look tremendous when the table has been set but they are the types of things that will hold their value for years to come, making them items that can be passed down from one generation to the next.

I have had a bit of a look around to see if there were any types of silver napkin rings worth looking at and found some particularly attractive ones that are definitely worth showing here.

One of the features with using silver napkin rings is that they were often engraved with the name of the person whose place was set with that particular napkin ring. Personalized napkin rings were very common and so, when you look at many of the napkin rings that are available for sale today among the various auctions it will be very common to find them with either a person’s name or a set of initials.

These elaborately engraved silver napkin rings are some of the most prized types that can be found for both their decorative value but also the historical significance that they might hold.

Although they can look absolutely stunning when they have been worked with a lot of fine borders and scrollwork, some of the most stunning types of napkin rings are quite plain looking. Features such as a subtle wave along the borders or an unusual shape can provide all of the special interest they need.

Victorian Era Napkin Rings

Napkin rings were made by many silversmiths during the Victorian era. During the time of the mid-1800s, the use of silver became far more widespread thanks to the discovery of significant sources of the metal. The technology had improved to the point where working the metal was for more effective too.

The results can be seen in the silver products that were produced during these years with silver companies such as Meriden, Gorham, Wallace, Reed & Barton and the like.

The use of napkin rings during the Victorian era was a must and no well dressed table would be without a set. The use of individual napkins at the table was a relatively new concept and the use of a decorative napkin ring to hold each napkin was a great way to dress the table.

Figural Napkin Rings

A popular type of napkin ring that became very common at the time was the figural napkin ring. These were highly decorative types of napkin rings that featured characters either posing beside the ring or holding it aloft in some way. They were most commonly used by children and this becomes obvious when you notice that the majority of figural napkin rings either feature animals or young children at play. They were a great way of identifying a child’s place at the table and also made it a little more interesting than the plain napkin rings that an adult might use. They can be found in an astounding array of imaginative poses and settings.

Collecting figural napkin rings, particularly sterling silver figural napkin rings can be a very rewarding pastime. Not only will the napkin rings retain their value but you will be richly rewarded with an understanding of the historical significance of the various types of napkin rings. You will also get a sense of the personalities that once owned these napkin rings, particularly those that have been engraved with names, dates and inscriptions.

There are many exquisite examples of figural napkin rings coming from the Victorian era. The following is just a small selection to enjoy.

This is a silver-plated napkin ring made by
Derby Silver Co., c1875

This is a silver-plated napkin ring featuring a wolf made by
Barbour Silver Co., c1870

This is a silver-plated napkin ring made by
Rogers, Simth & Co., c1875

This is a silver-plated napkin ring made by
Meriden B. Co., c1875

As you can see from the brief selection of figural napkin rings displayed above it is easy to become enchanted by such a superb array of napkin rings. These are more than simple accompaniments to be placed on the dining table, they are decorative items and a vital part of history as well.

If you were going to start out putting together a collection of silver napkin rings you would be very tempted to try to track down a few silver figural napkin rings from the Victorian era.

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Solar Power Plant Construction Halted In the Mojave

The massive Ivanpah solar energy project, a 392 megawatt thermal solar power project that was approved for construction in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, has been halted by a lawsuit. The project has been brought against the project by a conservation group to protect the desert tortoise.

The lawsuit has been proposed by the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) in the US District Court for Central California, with the allegations being that the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service failed to comply with federal environmental laws.

The first work was started on the Ivanpah project in October 2010 but the desert tortoise has been listed as threatened under the 1990 Endangered Species Act and it appears that there has been absolutely no work done on some critical fact finding about the animals. Things such as finding out how many of the animals lived in the area, the effect that blocking off one end of the north Ivanpah Valley, etc.

The claim is that the government bodies rushed the huge renewable energy project through as part of a way of accommodating those projects who were hustling to receive multi-billion dollar tax credits that were about to expire on December 31, 2010.

The group would like the court to grant an injunction to stop construction on the site until a full trial can be held.

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Spanish Shopkeepers Fight Graffiti With More Graffiti

Have shopkeepers decided to take a “can’t beat them so we might as well join them” attitude against graffiti artists? (And I’m sorry for misusing the word artists in this case, because let’s face it, the work of the majority of graffitists is usually anything but artistic).

Shopkeepers in Madrid have begun to recruit people to paint graffiti on the steel shutters that protect their stores in a bid to prevent them from being defaced by crude scribbling that are usually far more obscene and offensive.

The shutters of over a hundred stores have been painted by artists from across Europe in the Madrid neighbourhood of Malasana, the centre of the city’s countercultural scene. You have to agree looking at the example to the right, they are a damn sight more attractive than what would be the alternative.

The thinking is that seeing as painting over the top of another artist’s graffiti is regarded as a huge insult, graffiti artists are inclined to leave the shutters alone. At the very least it has given the shopkeepers the choice of how they would like their shutters decorated and in some cases the results have been far more attractive than the alternative.

In some cases the graffiti that has voluntarily been added to the shutters have reflected the shop’s activity but this is an exception rather than the norm. It seems that the majority of the people who have seen the graffiti have applauded the move and this, so far anyway, includes the graffitists who have left the new artwork alone.

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The Desert Nesting Bald Eagle

The bald eagle of the Mojave Desert is better known as the desert nesting bald eagle or the Sonoran Desert bald eagle and is different to other American bald eagles in a number of different ways. It is a bird that is geographically different, behaviourally different and biologically different, yet in 2007 the US Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the desert nesting bald eagle as an endangered species, refusing to recognize it as a separate bird from other American bald eagles. This was in spite of the fact that the population had declined to only a few dozen breeding pairs remaining.

A lawsuit was filed to have the decision to delist the desert nesters overturned and in 2008 a federal judge ruled in favour of the case ruling that the 2006 decision by the agency was a violation of the Endangered Species Act. But in another strike against the desert nesting bald eagle the FWS again denied the eagle the protection it requires in February 2010 with the decision upheld in the courts.

In the finding the FWS refused the petition that the desert nesting bald eagle be recognized as a distinct population segment (DPS) which would mean that it could be classified separately from other bald eagles. In refusing to accept it as a DPS it is not able to be listed as a threatened species. The FWS stated “We conclude that the best information available does not indicate that persistence in the ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert Area is important to the species as a whole.” This is a finding that no recognized bald eagle expert has agreed with.

The desert bald eagle has adapted to living in the heat of the desert and has evolved into a non-migratory resident of the Southwest with just about the entire population residing in Arizona. They live their lives within a limited area and they do not interbreed with any of the other types of bald eagles that only spend the winter in the area.

The problem with removing them from the Threatened Species list is that they have lost habitat protection meaning that anyone who wants to use the land where they nest will have the right to move in and potentially destroy it.

You can read the FWS findings in denying the protection petition here.

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A Change of Running Style and Philosphy

I have recently finished reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall, a book about running that has been out for a few years now. It was loaned to me by a friend who suggested I read it, mainly for the astounding story of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico and their feats of running, either in bare feet or with a couple of slabs of rubber tied to their feet.

The book left a bit of an impression with me, as I believe it has for many people, for the way in which the author suggests that we humans have been changing the way our bodies have regressed thanks to the invention of running shoes. It was fascinating stuff and raised some seriously good questions about the lack of success that running shoes with so-called stability support, motion control and cushioning features have had in preventing injuries.

In fact, since running shoes have been around, the instance of running injuries have sky-rocketed thanks to way in which they force runners to become heel strikers rather than midsole or forefoot strikers.

So this brings me, as it has many others, to the question of how I might incorporate some barefoot running into my training regimen. Not only that, the myth that has been perpetrated on us about only wearing running shoes for around 800km before buying a new pair is now coming under close scrutiny by me. I will certainly be wearing my shoes long after the recommended use-by date that has been handed to me by the shoe companies.

Certainly, I won’t be simply switching to barefoot running. That would be running suicide. Instead I want to train my body to use a more correct posture when running. In other words, I want to get into a more upright position when I run. I also want to shorten my stride length to give myself more of a chance of striking towards the midsole rather than the heel.

Finally, I want to buy a pair of minimalist running shoes. Racing flats are the closest I have to minimalist shoes and they will do the trick for the time being, giving me the lightweight shoes and flexible soles needed to allow my feet to perform as they should. When possible I would also like the chance to do some running in bare feet. I will try to report back on how I get on with the hunt for minimalist running shoes. 

Living near the beach allows me to do this without putting too much stress on my feet. I will start off with a few 5km runs along the hard, wet sand of the beach as I become more accustomed to the way in which my feet strike the ground barefoot. This should also help me in my quest to make perfect my running posture.

One final thing, I am going to stop worrying about seeking out the most expensive running shoes possible. In the past I have always looked for shoes that would give me some kind of an edge. I bought shoes thinking that the small piece of rubber in the sole, or the gel pockets or the air would protect my legs from the shock of foot striking ground. Now I know that my body is equipped with all the shock absorption that is needed, I just need to retrain my body to use it properly.

I have an audacious schedule of running this year, a larger list of races that I am planning to finish than I have attempted in any other year. Included are two marathons and two half-marathons and I believe that by running with the correct foot strike I can complete all of the training as well as the actual races without getting injured.

Time will tell and we will see whether this Nerd Chop to my running philosophy pays off or breaks me down.

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