Health Buzz: Gates Foundation Pledges Funds for Contraception

Pedicure or pedicurse? Proceed with caution. Plus, 10 best foods for your hair

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Gates Foundation Promotes Importance of Contraception

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has promised hundreds of millions of dollars to promoting contraceptive use, particularly in poor nations. At the London Summit on Family Planning on Wednesday, co-hosted by the Foundation and the United Kingdom, Melinda Gates pledged $560 million as part of a campaign that aims to raise $4.3 billion to expand access to contraception. About 220 million women in the developing world don't want to get pregnant, but don't have reliable access to contraception, according to United Nations figures. The world leaders and aid organizations that attended the summit are launching a program designed to extend family planning services to 120 million of those women. "When I travel and talk to women around the world they tell me that access to contraceptives can often be the difference between life and death," Melinda Gates said during the summit, Reuters reports. "Today is about listening to their voices, about meeting their aspirations, and giving them the power to create a better life for themselves and their families."

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  • Pedicure or Pedicurse? Proceed With Caution

    Short of going barefoot, nothing conjures the free spirit of summer like sandals. But given the way we treat our feet—whether we're running marathons or home from work and in shoes that pinch, press, and blister—it's no wonder they need grooming before flaunting. 

    Fact: Your feet require some TLC. More facts: Salon pedicures can be rife with risks. In fact, some foot baths might as well be renamed cesspools, hotbeds of germs that can lead to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Not to sound biblical, but customers have gone home with boils. Unsanitary tools aren't much better, and can spread infections such as hepatitis. 

    So the next time you treat your toes to a pedicure, follow these tips for feet as happy as they are healthy. 

    1. Shun the razor. Never, ever let a nail technician put a razor to your feet and be wary of doing so yourself. The practice can lead to permanent damage along with upping your risk of infection through cuts and the possible transference of blood between customers. Callouses provide cushioning between you and the ground, and removing too much of the toughened skin can make it hurt to walk. A much gentler option is to soften your feet with a pumice stone, foot file, or exfoliating scrub, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). 

    2. Don't cut corners. Go for a shape that's square, not oval. Round toenails are more likely to dig into skin, causing painful ingrown toenails, says Hillary Brenner, a Manhattan-based podiatric surgeon and an APMA spokesperson. [Read more: Pedicure or Pedicurse? Proceed With Caution

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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.