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9:58am EDT July 22, 2002

Health oasis

Looking for reliable information on the Net regarding that strange skin rash you’ve developed? Try the Mayo Clinic’s Health O@sis at www.mayohealth.org. The library has information on everything from arthritis to urinary tract infections. There’s information on alternative medicine and sections on men’s health, women’s health and children’s health. The site features a handy glossary for getting definitions of medical terms without spending six years in medical school.

When will I be cured?

Medscape is a site where doctors, students and consumers can search among more than 7,000 full-text articles on the latest medical research. If you want more than just basic information, this is the place to go. This site also offers free access to MEDLINE, a service featuring more than 8 million abstracts from 3,800 medical journals. Try it at www.medscape.com.

Mystery pills

Ever find a mysterious pill in your medicine cabinet and wonder what it is? Or did the information sheet on your latest prescription get thrown away? Take a trip to www.RxList.com, which has data on hundreds of pharmaceuticals, including warnings, interactions, dosages and overdose treatments. You can search by name (brand or generic) or imprint code—the numbers and letters stamped on pills and capsules.

Shake the disease

Want to know the facts on vaccinations or symptoms of a particular disease? Find what you need at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov. Get straight answers with statistics and scientific data to back it up.

Diet right

Avoid fad and diet pills. Some are initially effective, but most will not keep the weight off on a long-term basis and some can cause side effects, according to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Protein power

The American Heart Association says studies show soy protein is as nutritious as meat proteins and can serve as the sole source of protein in a vegetarian diet.

Smoke out

As an incentive to quit smoking, the National Cancer Institute recommends you start saving the money you used to spend on cigarettes. Keep it in a jar where you can see how much you’re saving and spend on yourself as a reward.

Cold or flu?

The flu kills 20,000 Americans every year and hospitalizes thousands more. It may come on quickly, starting with headache, chills, achiness and a fever of about 100 to 104 degrees. There may be a dry hacking cough and a sore or hoarse throat. If there is nasal congestion, it usually occurs later.

Except for the headaches and fever symptoms, this may sound like a bad cold. But a cold rarely has the overwhelming sense of fatigue that may accompany the flu. You feel absolutely wiped out, which is why you may curl up on the couch for a week or more after the main flu symptoms have passed.

Being tired, under stress and run down probably makes you more susceptible. Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t affect it. They best way to treat it is to rest, drink lots of fluids, and take drug store remedies to relieve the symptoms.

—Dr. Nancy Snyderman at www.drkoop.com.

More protein power

Adequate protein is essential to keep your body functioning properly. About half of our dry weight—including muscles, hair, nails and skin—is composed of protein. Our cells and immune systems rely on protein for maintenance and rebuilding. Our bodies don’t have the ability to store protein or synthesize all the amino acids—the building blocks of protein—we need. That’s why eating some protein every day is important.

www.fitnesslink.com

Consider carbs

As wonderful as carbohydrates are for providing energy quickly, too many carbs can send us into a tailspin of low blood sugar from an insulin dump. It’s the job of insulin to lower our blood sugar levels when they get too high; insulin does this by taking the excess sugar in our blood and storing it as fat.

The easiest way to avoid extra fat storage and dipping energy levels is to eat the right amount of high-fiber carbohydrates so the sugar in these foods enters the blood slowly, keeping the pancreas from releasing high quantities of insulin into the blood stream.

www.fitnesslink.com

Fat facts

The key to making fat part of a healthy, sensible diet is to eat the right kind. Any fat that is solid at room temperature is not our friend—it’s saturated and brings with it risks for all kinds of health problems. The best fat comes from vegetable sources and is mono- or polyunsaturated: peanut, canola, olive and walnut. This doesn’t mean you should drown your salad in olive oil—moderation is key.

www.fitnesslink.com

Water world

The next time you feel inexplicably crabby, think back to the last time you drank a glass of water. Dehydration can lead to crankiness and a whole host of other, more serious conditions. As a rule of thumb, try to drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day, more if you’re working out.

Drinking enough water is especially important for aiding fat loss. The liver is responsible metabolizing fat. When our kidneys don’t get enough water to perform their functions, they recruit the liver to help them out. If the liver is busy helping the kidneys, it can’t do it’s own job of using up that stored fat for fuel.

www.fitnesslink.com

How many calories?

Use this simple formula to estimate your calorie requirements:

  • Change your weight in pounds to kilograms: your weight divided by 2.2.

  • Your basic metabolic rate is approximately one calorie per kilogram per hour, so multiply your weight in kilograms by the 24 hours in a day. This is the number of calories you burn just being alive each day.

  • Now factor in activity: Multiply your calories needed per day by the following percentages, depending on your activity level:

    Light activity: 50 to 70 percent.

    Moderate: 65 to 80 percent.

    Heavy: 90 to 120 percent.

    If you sit at a desk for your job and work out 30 minutes per day, this would be light activity. If your job involves more motion and you are active in addition to your workout (you take stairs, walk to work, etc.), this would be moderate. Heavy activity would be for construction workers, athletes etc. Most Americans are in the light activity level.

  • Multiply the percentages from the previous step and you’ll get a range of calories needed for your daily activity. Add this to the number of calories needed to be alive each day.

To lose those extra pounds, you’ll need to burn more calories than you are eating, either by exercising more, or eating less.

www.fitnesslink.com.