Archive for the 'Wellness Articles' Category

Healthy Snacking: Energy Bites

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Snack choices for kids may not always be nutritious ones. The supermarket shelves are ?ooded with boxes and bags of irresistible treats loaded with refined grains, added sugars, and saturated fat. In our busy culture, there are times when snacks are used as a substitute for a well-balanced meal. Providing our kids with nutritious options is important for their growth, but finding something tasty that’s also easy to prepare can be a challenge. The new trend of making and eating energy bites is a perfect solution to this snacking dilemma.

Energy bites are a homemade combination of whole grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, and other ingredients rolled together into a little ball of deliciousness. They require no cooking, so making them is a terrific activity in which to have kids participate. Not only is it fun, but research has shown that when chil-dren have a hand in the food preparation process, they are more likely to eat what they make.

Start with this basic formula to create your own energy bites, or try one of the sample recipes featured in this chart.

When making your own energy bites, you can choose a binder ingredient such as nut butter or Nutella, and real maple syrup, agave, or honey as sources of sweeteners. The add-in list is never-ending with ingredients such as flax seeds, chia seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped nuts, cocoa powder, choco-late chips (for a treat), shredded coconut, and chopped dates. You can choose more than one add-in by making the total amount of add-ins equal to ¾ of a cup. For an extra kick of flavor, experiment with adding a pinch of spice, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne pepper.

 

Energy Bites Formula

1 cup quick oats

1/2 cup binder

3/4 cups add-ins

1/3 cup sweetener

Once you have your ingredients selected, place them all in a large bowl and mix until blended. Using your hands, roll one table-spoon of the mixture into a ball and place it onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Place the tray in the freezer for one hour. Remove and enjoy. Save the leftovers in a sealable container, either in your refrigerator or freezer, depending on the texture you prefer.

Energy bites can be eaten in place of granola bars, cookies or any other snack, and they provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and ?ber in each delicious morsel!

By Beth Rosen, MS, RD, CDN

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5 Foods People with Diabetes Shouldn’t Fear

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Diabetes shouldn’t have you fearing your food! Too many people give up delicious, nu-tritious foods because they have some vague idea that blood sugars go wonky when they eat certain things. Have no fear! While it’s a good idea to limit baked goods and greasy fast food, you can nearly always ?nd room for nutrient-dense foods like these.

Whole-Grain Pasta. This inexpensive, quick-to-prepare dinner staple can stay on the menu. Just be cautious with your portion. Pil-ing on the pasta is what spikes blood glu-cose. It’s not the pasta itself; it’s the amount of pasta. A full cup of spaghetti provides near-ly 45 grams of carbohydrate. If that’s more than your meal plan allows or if you’re eating other carb-rich foods at the same meal, cut back to ½ cup or even less. Mix it with non-starchy vegetables to bulk up the portion without overloading the carbs.

White Potatoes. There’s no reason to shun this nutrient-rich food. Again, watch your por-tion. About ½ cup potato provides 15 grams carbohydrate, about the same as a slice of bread or small piece of fruit. Potatoes also give us blood pressure-friendly potassium, vitamin C, dietary ?ber, & magnesium, a min-eral that may help with blood sugar control.

Bananas. Just because they’re white and have a high glycemic index, many people think bananas are bad for blood sugar con-trol. But the banana is also packed with nutri-tion. A medium fruit has about 30 grams of carbohydrate, twice the amount of a small apple or peach or a full cup of blackberries. If that’s what worries you, eat just ½ banana, or eat the whole banana and count it as two pieces of fruit. To get slightly fewer carbs, eat bananas that are a bit green.

Avocados. They’re high in calories, but they also give us heart-healthy fats. Replacing un-healthy saturated and trans fats with good-for-you unsaturated fats is a boon to the heart and might even improve insulin resistance. Avocados also provide potassium, vitamin E, and more.

Fruit Juice. Tossing a glass of juice down your throat in one giant swallow will likely raise blood sugar more than slowly eating a small piece of fruit. But 100% fruit juice is also nutrient-dense and most likely doesn’t need to be avoided. Measure out 3 to 4 ounces (equivalent to a fruit serving) and drink it at a reasonable pace. Learn the carb counts of your favorite juices and count them toward your meal allowance.

Measure Blood Sugar in Pairs. Learn for yourself how various foods and different amounts of food affect you. Measure your blood sugar right before eating and two hours after your ?rst bite. The difference between the two numbers is largely the result of your food choices and the amounts you ate. Mea-suring only the after-meal blood glucose tells only part of the story.

By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, CHWC

 

 

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Eye Care Essentials for Computer Users

Monday, March 14th, 2016

If you spend hours each day working at a computer screen, you may suffer from eyestrain, blurred vision, itchy eyes, and occasional double vision.

However, studies have found no sign that working on a computer screen causes permanent vision problems. Short-term problems, like tired, irritated, or watery eyes, do bother many people who work at computers. These problems can usually be corrected by wearing a special pair of glasses for computer work. Also, adjusting lighting in the workplace, using nonprescription artificial tears, and/or changing the position of the computer screen can help.

Correct vision problems

One of the easiest ways to prevent eye tiredness and discomfort is to see a vision specialist.

Minor visual problems, like astigmatism or imbalances between the eyes, can be fixed by wearing lenses. The correct lenses will greatly increase your comfort. If you don’t have to see distant objects clearly while at the computer, wearing bifocal lenses with the top adjusted for the computer screen and the bottom adjusted for reading is best.

If your distance vision must be clear while working at the computer, bifocal lenses with the upper part adjusted for distance and a large bottom part adjusted for the computer is recommended. A progressive lens with a large middle section for computer work is another choice.

Some people can comfortably use bifocal contact lenses when working at a computer. In most cases, glasses will provide greater comfort and clearer vision.

Increase your comfort

The following steps can help to reduce your eye discomfort and fatigue:

  • Place the computer straight in front of you, not off to the side.
  • Place the screen at right angles to any windows to reduce glare.
  • Fix the screen angle to reduce reflections from overhead lights or desk lamps.
  • Use drapes, shades, or blinds to control window lighting and glare. Vertical or horizontal blinds will direct light away from you and the computer.
  • Keep the screen brightness the same or brighter than the brightness of other objects in the room.
  • Set your computer to show black characters on a white background.
  • Use a flexible copyholder to keep reference material at the same height and distance away from you as the computer screen. This does away with the need to change eye focus when looking from one to the other.
  • Use a filter that reduces glare to enhance screen contrast and increase character legibility. Use a computer hood that has 3 sides if glare continues to be a problem.
  • Wipe the screen often with an anti-static cloth.
  • Take rest breaks. Every 15 minutes or so, look up and focus on a distant object for about 2 minutes. Blinking frequently and using artificial tear eye drops to relieve dryness and irritation can also help.

If you encounter any continued eye discomfort or would like to know if glasses would benefit you, we recommend seeking help from a trained professional. To schedule an appointment to see your friendly FHP Vision Specialist at 646-8362.


Staying Fit the Old-fashioned Way

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Stroll down the aisles of any department store these days, and your eye will be drawn to an appealing collection of labor-saving gadgets. These can include everything from bush cutters to remote controls for the TV and DVD player.

It’s enough to alarm every health and exercise expert in the land and for good reason. These labor-savers are associated with America’s slide toward laziness. A large part of the general public isn’t getting enough exercise. Medical problems like heart disease and high cholesterol are linked to a lack of exercise. They are a growing threat to public health. In addition, an inactive lifestyle increases the risk for overweight and obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.

Modern conveniences

Much of the decline in physical activity can be blamed on the modern conveniences that are rapidly replacing old-fashioned physical work. Our high-tech and increasingly inactive lifestyle is also to blame.

With no more leaves to rake or snow to shovel, people are finding it harder to fit physical activities into their schedule. But it’s not that difficult. Consider this: You already have certain activities built into your daily schedule. You can build exercise in as well.

A manual approach

Certainly modern devices can make life easier, but they also can rob you of needed exercise. Maybe it’s time to dust off the old push lawn mower. When you watch TV, try changing the channels by hand. During commercials, use the farthest bathroom, especially if it’s upstairs. Get in the habit of sweeping your sidewalk and scrubbing your floors.

Try new ways of doing things. Realize that for a 154-pound person even 10 minutes of light gardening and leaf raking can knock off 50 to 60 calories. Even bursts of activity like this can improve blood pressure and blood sugar control, and also put off depression.

Declare war on labor-saving devices. Build in a certain kind of way of thinking, the kind that says, “I’m going to resist as many of these machines as possible.”

Build your own low-tech exercise tools, inexpensively. For example, take a plastic, one-gallon milk jug and fill it with water. It now weighs eight pounds. Now include that jug in a variety of stretching and pulling exercises that call for weights.

Look for ways to make your surroundings exercise-friendly. When you’re doing brisk physical chores, play loud, upbeat music. Research shows that you’ll work faster and burn more energy.

Try taking the stairs each day instead of the elevator, or park at the farthest corner of the parking lot. Get off before your stop on the subway and walk a few extra blocks.

Before beginning any exercise program or increasing your level of exercise, always check with your health care provider. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.


Hearing Loss is Hitting Children Hard

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Parents, now hear this: More American children are losing some or all of their hearing. But too few parents seem to be aware of any hearing hazards, according to a recent survey. By taking steps now, you can help keep your child’s hearing well-tuned into adulthood.

Hearing hazards

Since 1988, the number of children with hearing loss has jumped more than 30%. Nearly 1 out of 5 adolescents ages 12 to 19 may have a hearing problem. Excessive noise—mainly from personal music players—is partly to blame. Listening to loud music with headphones can gradually affect hearing. Environmental noises, such as heavy traffic, can also be harmful.

In a recent survey of more than 700 parents, two-thirds of them didn’t believe their child was at risk for any hearing problems. Of all the potential hearing harms, headphone use was the most recognized culprit. But many parents didn’t know that using a lawn mower, playing in band at school, or talking on a cell phone could damage hearing, too.

Ear protection

The human ear is a delicate instrument. As sound travels into it, small hair cells transform the sound waves into electrical pulses for the brain. Repeated exposure to loud noise—especially over an extended period of time—can permanently damage these cells. The result: partial or complete hearing loss. A ringing or buzzing in the ears—known as tinnitus—is also common.

It can be hard to tell if your child has any hearing loss. Some possible signs include turning up the volume on the television too loud or not following directions. Your child’s tendency to not pay attention or even ignore you may actually stem from a hearing problem.

If you think your child may have hearing loss, talk with your child’s health care provider about a hearing test. In general, children receive such a test before entering school. But hearing loss can happen at any time.

To help protect your child’s hearing, consider making these changes at home:

  • Turn down the volume on televisions, radios, and personal music players. The sound should be set to the lowest level that you can hear clearly.
  • When your child listens to music, discourage the use of ear buds that insert tightly into the ear canal. If possible, opt for noise-reducing headphones. They limit outside noise so you can keep the volume low.
  • Make sure your teen wears ear plugs when doing loud outdoor chores, such as cutting the grass or using a leaf blower.
  • Choose toys that either don’t make a lot of noise or have a volume setting.
  • Minimize noise from within and out. Decorate your home with soft furnishings—thick carpet, area rugs, cushions, or curtains—that muffle sound. To keep outdoor noise at a minimum, caulk any cracks or other openings near windows and doors.

Hearing hazards are all around us.

Obesity May Impair Your Child’s Hearing

Obesity has been linked to many health woes. Perhaps surprisingly, you can add hearing loss to the list. A recent study of nearly 1,500 adolescents found those who were obese were twice as likely to have hearing problems.

What’s the possible connection? Excess body fat may lower the production of a hormone called adiponectin. That, in turn, may damage organs in the body, including the ears.

Online resources

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

CDC

National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

 

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions


Keep Your Heart Healthy for Brain Health

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Here’s a good reason to keep your heart hearty: your mind. Recent research suggests that unhealthy heart habits may impair brain function—no matter what your age.

The head-heart connection

Like any super computer, your brain needs a power supply. The source: the heart. It pumps oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Without adequate blood flow, your mind may suffer glitches in memory, thought, and other intellectual processes.

What might limit blood flow? The same unhealthy habits that harm your heart, such as smoking and eating high-fat foods. Over time, these behaviors can cause blood vessels throughout the body to narrow. They can also lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

In the journal Stroke, researchers explored this head-heart connection. Using a tool called the Framingham Risk Score (FRS), they calculated the heart health of more than 3,700 people ages 35 to 82. FRS predicts a person’s risk of developing heart disease within 10 years. It factors in age, sex, and smoking history. It also takes into account whether a person has diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

After determining participants’ heart health, researchers measured each person’s brain function. They used two different tests to assess brain activities, such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Regardless of age, people with unhealthy hearts had poorer working brains overall.

Beyond normal aging

Your mind ages—just like your body. Forgetting words or losing track of your car keys is a normal part of aging. Poor heart health, though, may worsen the problem. It may also lead to serious diseases of the mind, such as vascular dementia and Alzheimer disease.

Vascular dementia results from restricted blood flow to the brain. Many small strokes gradually damage blood vessels in the head. People most likely to develop this type of dementia are those who have suffered a stroke n the past. Uncontrolled blood pressure sets the stage for stroke.

High blood pressure has also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. In a past study, researchers used imaging tools and other tests to look at the brains of 115 healthy older adults. They found that those with high blood pressure showed early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

7 ways to build up your brain and heart

Want to fend off age-related forgetfulness and perhaps diseases like dementia? Here are seven tips to build up brain and heart health:

Exercise regularly. Physical activity boosts blow flood throughout the body, even the brain.

  1. Don’t smoke. It’s a leading risk factor for heart troubles and other diseases.
  2. Watch what you eat. Avoid foods high in saturated fat. Over time, they can clog arteries, limiting blood flood.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Research shows obesity contributes to heart disease and dementia.
  4. Invigorate your mind. Do crossword puzzles or read books. Want to go more high tech? Some research suggests video games may help keep the brain sharp.
  5. Stay involved. Social interaction with family and friends can liven up your life and reduce stress on the heart and brain.
  6. Mind your heart numbers. Work with your doctor to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.


The Hygiene Rules You Thought You Knew

Monday, December 7th, 2015
There’s more to it than “lather, rinse, repeat.”

You wash your hands when they’re dirty and cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. It’s not just doing those things regularly that matters, though, it’s doing them the right way. Here’s a refresher course on the steps you may be missing.

Hand washing. Rubbing your palms together while singing “Happy Birthday” twice isn’t going to cut it. According to the World Health Organization’s standards on hand washing, there’s a better way. Spend between 40 seconds and one minute at the sink, and follow these simple rules:

  • Don’t neglect the tops of your hands, in between your fingers, the tops of your fingers, your fingertips and your thumbs.
  • After applying soap, try using your palms to help scrub your fingertips: Place the fingertips of your right hand on your left palm, and rub them in a circular motion. Switch sides after several seconds.
  • Coughing and sneezing. When a cough or sneeze comes along and you don’t have a tissue handy, hold the crook of your elbow up to your mouth instead of your hands. It’s sometimes called “the vampire rule” as the motion is reminiscent of Dracula covering his face with his cape. The benefits? A new study from MIT shows that it’s not just fluid you’re containing. With every sneeze and cough, you actually emit a gas cloud that can carry germs even farther. Researchers say your arm is the best line of defense.
  • Contact lenses. Contacts come in many different forms in terms of how long you can wear them and how often you can dispose them. One universal rule: Always clean and store them in fresh solution. Topping off old solution in your case exposes your lenses to bacteria from previous wears.
  • Bath towels. You’re squeaky clean from your shower, so your towel is clean too, right? Not the case. A damp towel is ideal for growing mold and mildew, which thrive on damp surfaces. Between uses, air-dry your towel completely to keep spores at bay (in other words, get that towel off the floor and onto the rack!).
  • Toilet lids. Germs may be hiding in the same room you keep your toothbrush and toiletries. A recent study found that flushing with the lid up could spread bacteria through the air. Put the lid down with every flush to prevent airborne bacteria from landing where it isn’t wanted.

 


The importance of warming-up and cooling down

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Why is warming up and cooling down so important to an exercise program?

The warm-up is a short five to ten minute period in which a person will get the body ready for the work you are about to put it through. In this process one focuses on raising the body temperature, giving the joints proper fluids for smoother movements, and stretching the big muscles throughout the body. It is very important to get your body ready for the game, performance or exercise session. A good warm-up may be able to prevent injuries to the muscles.

The cool-down phase is a very short 3-5 minute period at the end of an exercise. The purpose of the cool down is for the person to begin slowing down in their activity. In this process a person focuses on decreasing their body temperature and heart rate. One would also want to let the blood pressure revert back to normal during this time. Usually at the end of a cool down, stretching the muscles that one used is involved. A proper cool-down could reduce muscle soreness as well.

Warming up the body before any physical activity can prevent injuries to the muscles in many ways. When our joints get warmed up properly we do better and enhance the opportunity to perform at our best. If the joints are not warmed up properly then it is more likely that an injury could occur. Preventative injuries are not focused on often enough in the fitness industry and should be taken seriously. Warming up your body not only has physical benefits, but psychological benefits. Recognizing a person has taken all precautions against a mediocre warm-up positions the person to be in the best state of mind for him/her to perform at their best.

Cooling down the body after any physical activity is important and can reduce muscle soreness in many ways. When your body is done performing in everyday physical activities there must be some relief on the body. This is where the cool-down phase comes in. Every tight or sore muscle, elevated heart rate, and overheated body must be reduced back down to normal ranges. It is vital for the body to get back to its normal state, to be able to perform at the same level if not better for the next workout. After the entire goal is to create a consistent workout regimen day in and day out, right? To get in better shape and live a healthier life, the cool down stage is of extreme importance. Stretching, drinking water and walking are just some things you may implement into your own cool downs.

There are three types of warm-ups one should focus on when preparing for a workout or activity.

The first type is called the passive warm-up and involves increasing your body temperature by external means. Such methods included massages, hot shower, steam rooms and heating pads. Passive warm-ups are least commonly used.

The second type is called the general warm-up and this increases body temperature using non-specific body movements. Some examples of this would be low intensity jogging or cycling, controlled arm circles, jumping jacks and more.

The last type is called a specific movement warm-up and involves raising body temperature by using the biomechanics that are used in more intense activities. This is seen often with athletes. The athlete would basically be going through the movements that will be required of them when competing until fully warmed up. If you are unsure of what type of warm up would work best for you, then you can never go wrong with a general warm-up. Never forget that a controlled cool-down after your workouts will help alleviate some soreness.

Credit: Kor’Rae Manson, OAOnline