FitBit Aria Smart Wireless Scale

There is a new weapon available to help you in your battle to lose weight.  What was once a dieter’s worst enemy has been transformed into an indispensable ally.  I am talking, of course, about the scale.  These days it seems that the bathroom scale doesn’t get any love.  However, FitBit has revolutionized the bathroom scale by turning it into a high-tech weight loss tool.  With the FitBit, Aria goes way past simply making you feel guilty for eating that greasy cheeseburger for dinner last night.  In addition to keeping track of your weight, the FitBit also records your body fat percentages and calculates your BMI.  It can do all of this for up to seven people.  All of this data is securely uploaded via built-in Wi-Fi to the FitBit’s online tracking website.  The website contains a social networking function along with weight management, and motivational tools.  I recently tried purchased the FitBit and will let you know if this super-scale lives up to its top billing and $129.00 price tag.

Appearance and Design

The FitBit is available in two different colors: black and white.  It sports a super sleek design that will compliment the decor of even the most luxurious bathrooms.  This certainly is one scale you won’t have to hide from company.  The scale features a simple and attractive digital LED display on its top.  The display shows weight, body fat and other status messages.  Although the scale looks modern, sleek, and expensive it only requires AA batteries to power it.  This makes it easy to keep your scale up and running as you chase your weight loss (or gain) goals.

Setup

Setting up your FitBit may prove to be a bit of a pain.  Connecting your FitBit to your computer requires that you disconnect your computer from any wired internet connections and connect exclusively with the FitBit during setup.  There were some issues with the setup program.  It refused to continue the process even though we were connected only using Wi-Fi.  However, FitBit provides a web-based setup.  This web-based setup got the scale running running without any further delays.  That data is then be transported on your wireless internet connection  to the online database where it is analyzed and stored.  If you do not have wireless the scale can still be used as a digital scale but you will not be able to use the online dashboard.  If you do not have wireless, I recommend looking in to purchasing a wireless router and setting up a network.

Once you have connected to the scale to your computer via the Wi-Fi connection you will be asked to put in some basic information.  You have to set up an account with Aria, don’t worry there is no money involved.  They will simply ask you for your age, weight, gender, height, etc. and ask you if you would like to set a weight loss goal.  You will also want to set up your FitBit so that it knows who is stepping on the scale.  If there are several people stepping using it that will involve stepping onto it several times and then selecting your initials after each time.  The scale will then recognize your from your weight and body fat measurements.

Use

Tracking your weight and body fat can’t be any simpler.  After you are finished setting up and programming your FitBit just step up and see what you weigh.  Once you set foot on the scale you will see your weight.  If you wait approximately five seconds after you see your weight , the LED screen will light up displaying  your initials followed by your body fat measurement.

 

The Aria FitBit is no ordinary scale.  It is your own personal weight loss helper, there to help you keep track of your weight so you can stay on course to break your weight loss goal.  The design is far from an eyesore.  Its sleek, modern, look is the perfect compliment to any bathroom.  The best part about this scale is the online dashboard.  Having all of weight and body fat data stored in one place, without even having to lift a finger, is incredible.  It ensures that you stay focused, organized, and on track with your fitness goals.  You no longer have to be scared of the scale my friends.  It has gone from sworn enemy to indispensable ally.  With the advent of the technological “smart scale” losing weight has become that much easier.

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How to Know if Your Kids Ate Their Vegetables

If your a parent you’ve probably wondered if your kids are really eating their vegetables.  There is a new device on the market that will end your wondering and give you an answer.  Researchers from Yale University have designed a handheld laser device which can let you know if your child has been eating his or her vegetables.  The device relies on a technique known as resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS).  When people eat a lot of vegetables tend to develop a slightly yellow skin discoloration due to the carotenoids that accumulate in the blood.  RRS can measure these carotenoid levels, letting you know who is eating their vegetables and who is not.  So now you don’t have to rely on your child’s say so.  When your skeptical about their broccoli intake simply bust out the RRS device and see for sure if your kid is eating healthy.

How It Works

RSS measures bio-markers left by the food we eat.  Researches have known about bio-markers for centuries, but measuring them is a recent phenomenon that generally requires the taking of blood, urine, or skin samples, which can be a very painful and cumbersome.  However, this new RSS remote measure bio-markers left by eating vegetables simply by bouncing a blue laser light off the skin.  RSS works by measuring the changes in energy levels of electrons in molecules after they have been excited by laser light.  It consists of a flexible fiber-optic probe connected to a boxlike central machine; the probe is held against a study volunteer’s palm for about 30 seconds while the light interacts with carotenoids in the skin. Then software on an attached laptop processes the results, which takes another 30 seconds.  The remote is painless, fast and gives accurate results.  Its accuracy has attracted the attention of many nutrition researchers.

New Applications

Many nutrition researchers want to use the RSS device to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables.  The device would remove uncertainty as nutritionists managed their patients diets.  Many patients tell nutritionists what they want to here.  They may say they are eating the proper amount of fruits and vegetables although, in reality, they are eating more french fries than strawberries.  This “social desirability bias” is easily removed when patients do not have to self report their diets.  The RSS device offers nutritionists a tool to help keep their patients on track.

The device may even find its way into urban policy work. For instance, if an inner city introduces a neighborhood farmers’ markets, which offers residents fresh produce, researchers will be able to  measure the residents’ skin carotenoids before and after the markets make their appearance. These measurements with RRS might be able to provide some information helping researchers assess whether the farmers’ market is having a positive intake on vegetable intake in the neighborhood.  The ultimate goal is to improve people’s nutritional status.

The Next Step

The RSS technique isn’t quite ready for prime time just yet.  One issue is that nobody knows what the half-life of carotenoids in skin is.  So just how many days or weeks intake of fruits and vegetables a measurement reflects is unknown.  It is also unclear how well the device will pick up changes in skin carotenoid levels after a change in fruit and vegetable intake.

What researchers need to do next is begin metabolic studies, in which they carefully control the dietary intake of carotenoids and continue to keep track people over a long period of time in order to see how their skin responds.  That type of research can be costly, and involve several weeks of feeding people carotenoid depleted and enriched diets while recording the measurements.   It is also important to understand how individual variations effect the measurements.  It is still unknown how the skin pigment melanin effects the RSS readings.  Once all the problems have been worked out, the RSS device could prove to be an invaluable tool for measuring an individual’s nutritional intake.

 

Your kids will never be able to lie to you about eating their veggies again.  There are still kinks to be worked out, but the RSS device seems to be on its way to production.  By taking advantage of information that people have known about for a long time and using it in a new way, these researchers have created a useful new device.  Other than making sure little Timmy eats his peas, the device’s use to measure nutritional intake will ensure that people are following their diets.  It will be much harder to cheat on your diet when a device can spot your cheating in less than a minute.  Hopefully, it can help people achieve more healthy and nutritional diets and lives.

 

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The Key to a Good Night’s Sleep

Like most people I am rarely able to get a good night’s sleep.  The problem may be as simple as not having the correct bed.  Having a comfortable place to lay down and drift off into sleep may make all the difference between a sound sleep and tossing and turning all night long.  There is a product on the market that offers the ability to adjust the “comfort setting” of your mattress with the simple touch of a button.  The Sleep Number i10, made by Select Comfort, is readily available at most retail mattress stores as well as online.  I am sure this product sounds familiar as they advertise their products incessantly with television ads.  Well if your are like me and not sleeping soundly throughout the night you may want to think about changing your mattress.  It has been scientifically proven that a good night’s sleep has a significant effect on your overall physical and mental health.  The Sleep Number i10 is no ordinary mattress.  It represents the most innovative mattress technology on the market.  The Sleep Number i10 is a specially made, air-filled mattress that features adjustable firmness settings regulated by the amount of air that is inside of it.  Here is a quick review of my experience trying to cure my sleepless nights with an adjustable mattress.

What You Get

So I ordered a queen size i10 mattress which is Select Comforts newest and most technologically advanced mattress.  The bed comes with two remotes, one for each side of the bed.  This lets you and your significant others each personalize your comfort setting.  The mattress came with various other things such as a bed frame, bedsheets, and pillows.  I preferred to keep the bedsheets I already owned and I found that they fit perfectly.  All of the other technological components, such as the air compressor, are included and set up by Sleep Number technicians so there is not difficult set up required. Also, as if the bed itself wasn’t simple enough to use, Select Comfort also included an instructional DVD.  The Sleep Number i10 was not more difficult to set up than any normal bed.

Use and Results

The Sleep Number i10 performed just as expected.  The provided remotes are fairly simple and straightforward to use.  You simply press the up or down arrows until your desired comfort number is selected.  Once you’ve selected your desired number you just wait for the mattress to quietly turn on and change the firmness. There are also settings allowing you to store a specific comfort number just in case someone else ends up sleeping in your bed and changes your settings.  Although programming your number is simple, figuring out what that number is can be quite difficult.  There are sensors at the store that will give you a starting point but finding your own personal number requires several nights of sleep.  After you have tried your number for a few days adjust it to your liking.  I still have not settled on a specific number.  The other slight inconvenience is that, because you are essentially sleeping on a balloon, if you lay too close to the edge of the bed you will likely roll off.  This is not a huge problem, rather a slight inconvenience.  Think of it as a reason to snuggle up to your significant other!

 

After several weeks of use I can say that the Sleep Number does exactly what it says it will do.  If you have had trouble sleeping this may be the perfect cure.  I have found that its adjustable settings allow me to ease into a deep sleep.  I haven’t found what I would call my perfect number but I am beginning to think I might not have one.  I like to adjust the firmness of the bed on an almost nightly bases.  My wife, however, has found a setting that fits her perfectly and leaves it permanently programmed.  I can honestly say that it is wonderful to have the ability to change the firmness of the mattress depending on how I feel.  It is also wonderful that my wife and I can separately adjust our setting, allowing us to each find what we’re looking for.  I must say that if you have not been able to sleep you may want to consider upgrading your mattress.  The days of simple box springs are coming to an end.

Vibroacoustic Therapy: Good Vibrations Curing Pain

People have been picking up some very good vibrations lately.  New research at the University of Toronto suggests that vibroacoustic therapy (VAT) may be able to help people suffering from debilitating diseases.  VAT involves using low frequency therapy to massage deep muscles and organs.  Lee Bartel, a professor of music at the University of Toronto, describes the therapy, stating “It is basically stimulating the body with very low sound, like sitting on a subwoofer, but it requires special speakers that carry sound almost too low to hear in a way that changes it basically to something you feel instead of hear.”  Bartel and his team in the new Music and Health Research Collaboratory (MaHRC) are exploring the medical effects of these low frequency sounds.  So far, they have shown that this therapy can play a key role in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.  These findings provide a glimmer of hope that a cure to the ravages that Parkinson’s disease causes in it victims may soon be abated.

Parkinson’s Studies

Vibroacoustic therapy consists of low sound frequencies that are transmitted to the body and mind through special transducers that convert the sound to inner body massage. MaHRC treated two groups of Parkinson’s patients, 20 with dominant tremor symptoms and 20 with slow/rigid movement symptoms.  They were treated with five minutes of 30 Hz of vibration.  Both of the groups displayed improvements in all symptoms.  They showed less rigidity and better walking speed with bigger steps and less tremor.  “There have been several studies using vibration from sound with Parkinson’s,” said Bartel   “It has been known for over 100 years that vibration helped relieve some symptoms. So the scientific study of the effect of low frequency sound was a natural connection. Also known is that 40 Hz brain waves seem to be carriers of information between the parts of the brain that control movement. So adding extra stimulation in that zone should help that communication and so assist in movement control.”  The goal of low frequency sound studies with Parkinson’s disease is to determine the most effective approach. How much and how often treatment is needed, and whether medication can be reduced are two questions Professor Bartel would like to answer.  The frequencies used during VAT vary between 20 and 100 Hz per second.  These frequencies correspond to brainwave activities and function currently being explored in neuroscience.

Other Uses of VAT

The effects of vibroacoustic therapy extend beyond the brain. It also provides deep physical cellular stimulation to skin, muscles and joints, resulting in decreased pain and increased mobility. Like hand or mechanical massages, vibroacoustic therapy aids circulation, relaxes muscles, and feels good.  VAT has been used to treat the pain and discomfort of cancer patients and sufferers of chronic pain.  There has been some headway made with VAT being used to treat people with Fibromyalgia.  According to Professor Bartel, “Fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease may be related to a common brain mechanism, a brain rhythm disorientation between the inner brain and the outer cortex. Since the rhythmic pulses of music can drive and stabilize these, we speculate that low frequency sound might help in Fibromyalgia as well as Parkinson’s.”  He adds that “Although it is too early to form any conclusions, there is encouraging data indicating that treating Fibromyalgia patients with doses of 40 Hz sound seems to reduce pain.”

 

The use of sound waves to help cure debilitating disease and pain is an exciting concept.  For decades medical researchers have been stumped as to the cause and cure of Parkinson’s disease and debilitating chronic pain.  It is crazy to think that the solution to these terrible diseases may lie in sound.  People have known for centuries that the vibrations caused by sound can be soothing not only to your ears but your body as well.  There are small VAT machines available to give you a soothing massage at home.  However, the  medical field has been slow to grasp the idea that sound could be used as a cure for serious diseases.  With the research being head at the University of Toronto, the use of sound for medical purposes may soon be commonplace.  Sound is a very attractive alternative to powerful drugs, which may carry very serious side-effects.  Hopefully we can achieve the full utilization of sound therapy technology soon and provide a respite to the patients of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Fibromyalgia.

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SOMATOM CT Scanner

The FDA recently approved a new CT scanner for use in the United States.  The SOMATOM CT scanner, developed by Siemens, is the most advanced scanner on the market.  This new CT scanner has a very high resolution while being much faster and quieter than previous models.  It is expected to be quite useful in emergency departments around the country due to its increased speed and resolution.  The increased speed will allow this scanner to scan at a rate of twenty-three centimeters per second.  At this rate a fully grown, six foot tall, human being would take a mere eight seconds to scan.  Emergency room doctors will have better results faster.  The SOMATOM CT scanner has the potential to give physicians the ability to see the finest detail of their patients vascular systems and bone structures.  This provides doctors the ability to find and identify coronary blockages and subtle spinal fractures, which if left undetected could cause paralysis.  These revolutionary developments endow clinicians with the ability to make more sound diagnoses even in the most difficult cases.

Advantages of the SOMATOM CT Scanner

Increased Speed: Maintaining high resolution at high speeds has proven to be a difficult when developing CT scanners.  This problem is exacerbated when trying to scan fast moving organs such as the heart.  The design of the SOMATOM CT Scanner has fixed this problem.  The SOMATOM’s super high resolution has increased the scanner’s imaging speed.  The increase in speed allows a standard thorax/abdomen examination to be completed in approximately two seconds.  This could potentially minimize the need for patient breath-holding during scanning. A 6-foot patient can potentially be scanned in 8.3 seconds at full speed using the system.

Duel Energy Scans: Dose Reduction

The SOMATOM CT scanner represents a revolution in duel energy scans.  Until now, duel energy scan generally required a dangerous increase in radiation exposure levels.  This new scanner introduces a new scanning technique into duel-energy CT examinations.  During the dual energy examination, the SOMATOM performs two CT scans in succession with different energy levels.  Each scan potentially uses only about half the dose applied in normal mode. Together, the two scans deliver the image signal required. Also, because the voltage in each scan is fixed, the physician can use additional dose-reducing techniques, such as a fully automatic radiation exposure control system that adjusts the dose in real time according to the area of the body being scanned. Additionally, the SOMATOM system uses the rapid iterative reconstruction method SAFIRE (Sinogram Affirmed Iterative Reconstruction), which may also help to reduce dose levels.  These advantages significantly reduce the amount radiation a patient is exposed to making SOMATOM much safer than older CT scanners.

Advantages in Cardiovascular Imaging  

The new SOMATOM CT scanner also offers doctors a major advantage with its marriage of high temporal resolution and the high degree of spatial resolution. Since coronary arteries constantly move along with the heart, the clinician must obtain CT images at a high temporal resolution to sharpen coronary artery images. The sharpness of image provided may improve the doctor’s ability to detect coronary stenosis and atherosclerotic changes in plaque formations. And the high spatial resolution may potentially improve the physician’s ability to safely detect, for example, in-stent restenosis of stents smaller than 3 mm in diameter.

 

 

The new SOMATOM CT scanner pushes scanner technology forward.  Its advances provide physicians with increased accuracy when diagnosing conditions.  I do not have to tell you how important that is.  The key to providing excellent care and curing most ailments is early and accurate detection.  A full body scan can now be accurately completed in eight seconds.  It would take you longer to tie your shoes than undergo a CT scan.  The SOMATOM also reduces the patient’s exposure to radiation.  Exposure to radiation is always harmful.  This new scanner cuts exposure to radiations so low that it is almost nonexistent.    The increase in scanning speed will cut down on wait times and provide doctor’s with vital information faster.  You will no longer be stuck waiting for a scan to be completed.  As a result treatment can begin sooner and more lives will be saved.  Hopefully the SOMATOM will be implemented in hospitals quickly.     

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