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Healthy holidays, with our gift ideas

If the thought of a health-related gift inspires the same feeling of dreariness as receiving a mail-order fruitcake or a six-pack of tube socks, it's time time to broaden your horizons. Health doesn't have to be ho-hum: Think items to help you stay in shape, accessories inspired by biology, stories about the frontiers of medicine and much more. Read on for some suggestions from the Health staff.

Germs you can wear - Infectious Awareables silk scarves, $35

Disease-causing bacteria and viruses are icky, but these scarves (and neckties and bowties and boxers) are kind of beautiful. I have two scarves myself, a red-splotchy one depicting the parasites that cause malaria and another based on the tiny rod-shaped and tailed strains of bacteria that cause dental plaque. (This particular design is discontinued — or "eradicated," as the site terms it — but a new plaque design is available for scarves and ties Each item "discreetly" works the name of the germ it depicts into the border, and if you're interested in plagues and scourges, there's background information about each one at the company website.

I'll admit that some of the items aren't likely to be found on anybody's wish list — nobody I know will be receiving a pair of gonorrhea boxer shorts this festive season — but I'd gladly gift the one depicting healthy heart muscle or another in black, green, blue and pink that features mold. Other offerings include avian flu, measles, anthrax and the Foodborne Six, which features common causes of food poisoning (Campylobacter, Norwalk virus, salmonella, listeria, E. coli and shigella).

Some may find the premise tasteless given the suffering caused by infectious agents, but the Encino-based company behind these garments explains that its aim is to raise awareness helped along by a bit of humor. Infectious Awareables donates a portion of its proceeds to disease-fighting causes such as AIDS Project L.A. and Rotary International's polio eradication campaign. My mom has a scarf I sent her and wears it with delight. You can check out the selection at

Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2011
By Rosie Mestel

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