Walking after big meal

is beneficial, studies say

For many people, the food-induced stupor that often follows a big meal is a good excuse for a nap. But for some, a brief walk shortly after eating is a quick way to burn some calories and aid digestion.

Over the years, researchers have found that a post-meal walk, as short as 15 minutes, can in fact help with digestion and improve blood sugar levels. In a study in 2008, German researchers looked at what happened when people ate a large meal and then consumed either an espresso or an alcoholic digestif — like brandy or flavored liqueur — or walked at a slow pace on a treadmill. Walking, they found, sped the rate at which food moved through the stomach. The beverages had no effect.

In other studies, researchers have found that walking has a significant effect on blood sugar after meals. Blood sugar typically rises and then falls after eating, but large spikes and variations can raise cardiovascular risk and potentially signal diabetes. Researchers say that a post-meal stroll helps clear glucose from the bloodstream in part because more of it is taken up by the muscles.

— Anahad O’Connor

New York Times

Hints from Heloise:

Shells allowed home from foreign beach

A reader in Virginia writes: I have a vacation planned to a foreign beach, and I would like to bring home some seashells. Do you know if you are allowed to bring seashells back into the U.S.?

Heloise says: According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, seashells usually are allowed into the United States, with a few stipulations:

• They must not be from endangered or threatened species.

• They must be completely clear of creatures, sand, soil, etc.

• A traveler may bring only a small amount for personal use.

• Stones and pebbles also are acceptable in small quantities, following the same guidelines.

Here is a hint for cleaning shells. When you get back to the hotel, fill the tub with hot water and add some hair shampoo, which usually is in the room. Soak for a while, and use a clean washcloth or hairbrush to scrub away sand, dirt and grime, then rinse thoroughly.

All of these items must be declared with customs when entering the United States. You should check with authorities at your destination about any regulations they have.

P.S.: Use the plastic “laundry bag” in your room to put them in, then into your suitcase or carry-on bag.

— King Features

Plastic more prevalent

at grocery store register

Plastic has now overtaken cash at the register.

Three-fourths of us now use a card to pay for groceries, according to Kaiku Finance, a prepaid debit card provider, that recently conducted a survey asking 1,000 people about spending habits.

Even more people use plastic to pay for gasoline, holiday shopping and major purchases, the survey found.

That has reduced the need to go to ATMs with 61 percent reporting they use a machine to get cash once a month.

Just over half report they carry less cash now than they did three years ago, the survey found.

— Donna Gherke

Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)