Health Buzz: Hotel Rooms' Germiest Spots

How to lose weight with your pet; 10 best foods for your hair

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Study Identifies Germiest Spots in Hotel Rooms

Hotel rooms are germy places. The worst offenders? Television remotes and bedside lamp switches, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Houston analyzed samples from 19 surfaces in three hotel rooms in three states, and also found high levels of bacteria on sponges, mops, and other items on housekeeper's carts, which could lead to cross-contamination of rooms. On the flipside, the lowest levels of contamination were on bed headboards, curtain rods, and bathroom door handles, HealthDay reports. Findings were presented Sunday at an American Society for Microbiology meeting in San Francisco. Though the researchers can't say for sure if the detected bacteria could cause disease, it's a reliable indicator of overall cleanliness. Guests with weakened immune systems are at particular risk while staying in unclean hotel rooms.

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  • How to Lose Weight With Your Pet

    Fat cats. Pudgy pooches. No doubt they're cute, but obesity is as weighty an issue for our four-legged friends as it is for us. Recent research suggests that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats are overweight or obese. 

    Portly pets face a host of health issues, including osteoarthritis and joint problems; insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes; high blood pressure; and heart and respiratory diseases. Pet obesity has been shown to take at least two years off an animal's life. "It's a big problem," says veterinarian Marty Becker, author of more than 20 books, including Your Cat: The Owner's Manual and Your Dog: The Owner's Manual. "While they make cute cartoons, they're little tubby time bombs." 

    Plenty of factors are fueling the pet obesity epidemic. Pet foods today are more calorically dense than in years past, and owners are likely overfeeding their animals. Fido is giving you puppy dog eyes? The kitten is purring? Reward the cuteness with an extra scoop of food, or even some scraps off the table. That adds up—especially when coupled with too little exercise and, in general, a lack of knowledge about how much your pet should be eating and what he should weigh. (Dogs and cats 10 to 20 percent over their ideal body weight are considered overweight, and once they surpass the 20 percent mark, they become obese.) 

    That's why there's a growing movement to educate pet owners and encourage them to slim down with their furry friends. In January, Nestle Purina and Jenny Craig teamed up to help people and their pets get in shape with Project: Pet Slim Down. The free online program offers tips on feeding, weight loss tracking tools, and advice on exercising together. [Read more: How to Lose Weight With Your Pet]

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    • 10 Best Foods for Your Hair

      Move that shampoo and conditioner aside. The pursuit of luscious, shiny locks starts with fish, beans, bananas, and lentils. Indeed, a healthy diet is as good for the 150,000 hair follicles on your head as it is for your body. "Having a balanced diet, while putting a little extra emphasis on things like protein and iron, gives your hair a boost," says Neil Sadick, a clinical professor in the department of dermatology at the Weill Cornell Medical College.

      Protein, for example, is the building block of hair. If you don't get enough, your mane will grow more slowly, and strands will be weaker. "Pump up the protein," says registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Flexitarian Diet. "Include a small dose at each meal and with each snack, and you'll keep your hair follicles strong." Safe bets include poultry, lean beef, fish, beans, and nuts.

      If you start a hair-healthy diet today, you'll likely see improvements within six months to a year, depending on how fast your hair grows.

      Try these 10 foods for your tresses:

      1. Lean red meat. Too little iron can cause baldness, according to research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic. Treating iron deficiency may help regrow hair. "People who have problems with hair loss or hair growth tend to be iron deficient—especially women," says dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, who practices in Vallejo, Calif. Other iron-rich options include turkey, egg yolks, whole grains, dried fruit, and dried beans (soaked and cooked, of course). [Read more: 10 Best Foods for Your Hair]