Happy Father’s Day: Why being a father is good for your health

Happy Father’s Day: Why being a father is good for your health


Published June 16, 2013


  • Manny family.jpg

    Me with my wife Katarina, my daughter Olivia and my son Ryan in the south of France. (Dr. Manny Alvarez)

Fatherhood is full of responsibilities and hard decisions – and sometimes it may seem that taking care of your children is ultimately wearing you down.  But, in fact, being a father is one of the healthiest professions on the planet.

Now I know all you dads probably think I’m crazy – especially those fathers who are currently dealing with teenagers.  But it’s true.  Fatherhood is good for your health.

If you were to sit down and look at all of the health decisions you have made since you became a father, I bet you would be amazed as to how many positive steps you have taken towards a healthier lifestyle.

First, statistics show that men who smoke have a higher rate of quitting when they become fathers.  Also, if you grew up not being physically active, once you have a child, you have no choice but to move in order to keep up with them.  And sometimes, this can inspire men to actually start doing some exercise.

Fathers, I bet you’ve seen a change in your diet, as well.  Gone are the days of Chinese takeout 11 p.m. or cold pizza on a Sunday morning.  Being a father means you have to provide healthy food for your child, and there’s no better way to get them to eat well than to lead by example.

But most importantly, the greatest health benefit of all comes from the love that you feel when you see what your children can accomplish.  And the unconditional love that they have for you – that love helps you to forget the ugliness in this world – will improve your mind and your outlook for the future.

To me, fatherhood is a privilege that should not be squandered.  And on this Father’s Day, I want to congratulate all the fathers who take their job seriously.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/16/why-being-father-is-good-for-your-health/#ixzz2WP2zzGmB

Bionic Eyes Being Developed to Cure the Blind

World’s only bionic eyes keep getting better


War Games

Published March 21, 2013


The world’s only bionic eyes — implants that can bring sight to the blind — keep getting better.

Created by Second Sight Medical Products and recently approved by the FDA, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System uses an implanted camera and computer to convert the world at large into electronic signals, enabling the brain to see.

It’s the first implanted device that can provide sight to people 25 and older who have lost their vision from degenerative eye diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

And results just published in the latest British Journal of Ophthalmology indicate they’re even better than previously thought: Argus II enabled the 21 blind patients in a new study to locate and identify objects and people — and even read.

About 75 percent of blind patients given these new bionic eyes were able to correctly identify single letters. More than half of those with Argus II were able to read four-letter words.

Approximately 1.5 million people around the world and about 100,000 Americans are affected by the inherited disease retinitis pigmentosa, which damages the eyes’ photoreceptors — cells at the back of the retina that perceive light patterns and pass them on to the brain in the form of nerve impulses.

The brain takes these impulses and interprets them as images. Retinitis pigmentosa causes gradual loss of these light-sensing cells and potentially blindness.

Breakthroughs like the Argus II are also critical in pushing innovation that may help those with visual impairment due to other causes. For example, in the military there were 182,525 ambulatory and another 4,030 hospitalized eye injuries reported between 2000 and 2010.

How does the Bionic Eye work?
In healthy eyes, the rods and cones in the retina, called photoreceptors, take light and turn it into tiny electrochemical impulses. These impulses are sent through the optic nerve to the brain for decoding into images.

When the photoreceptors stop working effectively, this initial conversion process fails and the brain can’t translate the light. The Argus II implant bypasses disease-damaged photoreceptors altogether.

The system has three parts: a small electronic implant, a tiny camera and a video processing unit.

A small electronic device is first implanted in and around the eye. The patient then wears glasses that have a built-in video camera; it captures the surroundings and sends video to a small computer the patient wears, called a video-processing unit (VPU).

The VPU processes the video into instructions that are sent back to the glasses via a cable and then wirelessly transmitted to the implant in the eye. Electrodes there emit small electrical pulses that stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, sending the visual information along the optic nerve to the brain.

The brain perceives light patterns from this data, which patients learn to interpret — giving them back their sight.

Beyond Bionic Eyes
There are several other promising ways to restore sight in a patient that has lost his or her vision.

According to results published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an Oxford University team has made progress in a technique that has the body rebuild the retina to restore sight.

They believe studies with mice show promise for treating people with degenerative eye disease.

In their approach, they inject “precursor” cells into the eye that create the building blocks of a retina. Within two weeks of the injections, a retina had formed.

Using this technique, totally blind mice had their sight restored and similar results had already been achieved with night-blind mice.

Meanwhile, research published in Nature by professor Robin Ali showed that transplanting cells could restore vision in night-blind mice and that the same technique worked in a range of mice with degenerated retinas.

It is hoped that eventually a doctor could put the cells in and reconstruct the entire light-sensitive layer of a human as well.

At Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, there are trials underway using human embryonic stem cells in patients with Stargardt’s disease.

Early results look safe and promising, but it will take several years for it to become available.

Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has traveled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at wargames@foxnews.com or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/03/21/worlds-only-bionic-eyes-keep-getting-better/?intcmp=trending#ixzz2ORMqcIF2

Healthy lunches to bring to work

Healthy lunches to bring to work


Published March 23, 2013


  • 1Goat Cheese Turkey Pitas
  • iStock

    2Avocado Sandwich With Grapes
  • ©Kelly Cline

    3Vegetarian Chef Salad
  • 4White Bean Apple Sandwich
  • iStock

    5Hummus Orange Wrap
  • Amie Valpone/The Healthy Apple

    6Banana Almond Butter English Muffin Sandwich

Looking for a few new ways to spruce up your brown paper bag lunch? Look no further – these recipes are quick to make and healthy, too.

Everyone needs a good sandwich recipe. It’s a well-known fact that a lunch filled with healthy fats, fiber and whole grains keeps you fuller longer. Skip the burger joint!

  • 1Goat Cheese Turkey Pitas

    Serves 4

    Pitas are so underrated. They’re easy to make and so fun to stuff with your favorite ingredients. Make sure you purchase whole-grain pitas and fill them with lean proteins such as turkey along with a few flavorful ingredients, like goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and red onion for a well-rounded lunchtime treat.

    • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • 8 large pitas, halved
    • 3/4 lb. organic turkey breast, thinly sliced from deli
    • 6 oz. goat cheese
    • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
    • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
    • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
    • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    1. Spread Dijon mustard into each pita half.  Stuff each half with remaining ingredients and serve.

  • 2Avocado Sandwich With Grapes


    Serves 4

    • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed
    • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 12 slices whole grain bread, toasted
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup baby spinach
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 bunch fresh grapes
    1. In a medium bowl, combine avocado, olive oil, salt, and pepper; mash with a fork.
    2. Place 4 of the toast slices on a flat surface. Divide the avocado mixture onto each slice. Top with scallions, spinach, cilantro and then finish with the other 4 slices of toast. Slice each sandwich in half and serve with grapes.

  • 3Vegetarian Chef Salad

    ©Kelly Cline

    Serves 1

    Chef’s salads don’t have to be loaded with unhealthy ingredients and drenched in heavy dressings! You can easily make your own by combining a few protein such as chia seeds, almonds and a hard-boiled egg along with healthy fats from flax oil and avocado and combine them with fiber-filled romaine, tomatoes and mushrooms for an afternoon meal that you won’t regret diving into.

    • 2 cups romaine lettuce, finely chopped
    • 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and sliced
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    • 2 Tbsp. flax oil
    • 2 chives, finely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
    • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    • 4 button mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
    • 2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

    1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; gently toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl; serve chilled.

  • 4White Bean Apple Sandwich

    Serves 4

    I bet you’ve never had this tasty combo in a sandwich! It’s cheap and easy to make- just purchase a can of white beans along with whole grain bread, romaine lettuce, olive oil and your favorite kind of apple. Add a punch of flavor from the chili powder and scallions and you’re all set for a lunchtime masterpiece. Your cubicle neighbor will be jealous!

    • 2  (15 ounce) cans white beans, drains and rinsed
    • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
    • 12 slices whole grain bread, toasted
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
    • 4 large Romaine lettuce leaves
    • 2 large apples, thinly sliced

    1. In a medium bowl, combine white beans, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and chili powder; mash mixture using a fork.
    2. Place 4 slices of toast on a flat surface. Top each slice with the white bean mixture, then scallions, romaine and apples. Top each open-faced sandwich with a piece of toast. Slice each sandwich in half and serve.

  • 5Hummus Orange Wrap


    Serves 4

    Who doesn’t love an easy lunchtime wrap? Be sure to purchase whole grain wraps when food shopping as many brands sneak in unhealthy ingredients and you don’t want to sabotage your healthy lunch with one wrap! Pick your favorite flavor of hummus (I like garlic-flavored) and combine it with arugula, cucumbers, romaine and a fresh orange; wrap it up and enjoy.

    • 8 Tbsp. hummus
    • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 4 large whole grain or corn tortillas
    • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 1 cup arugula
    • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
    • 1 head romaine lettuce, finely chopped
    • 1 fresh orange, peeled segmented

    1. In a medium bowl, combine hummus, sea salt, pepper and red pepper; mash mixture using a fork.
    2. Place 4 whole grain wraps on a flat surface; divide hummus mixture among them. Top with cucumber, arugula, flax seeds, romaine and orange segments; roll each wrap like a burrito, cut in half and serve.

  • 6Banana Almond Butter English Muffin Sandwich

    Amie Valpone/The Healthy Apple

    Serves 4
    English muffins aren’t just for breakfast! Dig into this fun ‘sandwich’ for lunch and enjoy the hearty protein from almond butter and a dose of fiber from a creamy banana. Cinnamon adds a sweet touch to keep you from downing those chocolate bars in the break room!

    • 4 English muffin, toasted and halved
    • 4 Tbsp. almond butter
    • 2 large bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch piece
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 large apple, sliced

    1. Lay 4 English muffin halves on a flat surface. Top with almond butter, bananas, cinnamon and sea salt. Finish with remaining English muffin halves. Cut muffin in half and serve.
    2. Serve with apple slices on the side.


Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef based in New York City and editor-in-chief of TheHealthyApple.com. Specializing in simple, gluten-free recipes, Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and on well-known websites, as well as TV. Visit Amie on Facebook,Twitter and Pinterest.