Category Archives: Health Tips

For Healthy Blood Pressure

  • Keep a healthy weight. Ask your doctor if you need to lose weight.
  • Be physically active. Get moving for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose an eating plan rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and low in saturated fat and added sugars.
  • Cut down on salt. Many Americans eat more sodium (found in salt) than they need. Most of the salt comes from processed food (such as soup and baked goods).
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day; women no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Tell your doctor if you’ve been told you snore or sound like you stop breathing briefly when you sleep—a possible sign of sleep apnea. Treating sleep apnea and getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce blood pressure.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed. If you need drugs to help lower your blood pressure, you still should follow the lifestyle changes described above.

NIH News in Health, January 2016

Heat Related Illnesses

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable yet every year many people succumb to extreme heat.  People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly.

Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat. Other conditions such as age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can contribute to heat-related illness.

HEAT CRAMPS:

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms, usually in the legs arms or abdomen, resulting from exertion during extreme heat that causes copious sweating.  This sweating depletes the body’s salt and hydration. Heat cramps usually occur when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees. Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related health problems, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with the heat and should be treated immediately with rest and fluids.  Drink clear juice or a sports drink to help ease the cramps. Stretching, gentle massaging of the muscle or direct, firm pressure on cramps can reduce pain. Seek medical attention if pain is severe, lasts longer than an hour or nausea occurs.

HEAT EXHAUSTION:

Heat exhaustion is a moderate form of heat-related illness.  It can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid consumption or when body fluids are lost through heavy sweating due to vigorous exercise or working in a hot, humid place. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital organs to decrease. Symptoms include: heavy sweating, pale and clammy skin, weakness, fatigue, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fast shallow breaths, and a fast weak pulse.

Heat exhaustion should be treated with rest in a cool area, sipping cool water or sports drinks, elevating the feet several inches, and apply cool cloths for the face, neck, hands, feet and arm pits.  Seek further medical treatment in severe cases or if the symptoms do not improve after an hour.  If not treated, the victim’s condition may escalate to heat stroke.

HEAT STROKE:

Heat stroke — also called “sunstroke” — occurs when a person’s body is unable to regulate it’s temperature.  The body’s temperature rises rapidly sweating ceases and the body is unable to cool down.  The skin is flushed, red, hot and dry.  A person’s temperature will be very high (above 103 degrees orally).  Other warning signs may include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, seizures or unconsciousness.  In fact, body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and requires immediate emergency medical attention.  While waiting on the Ambulance crew to arrive, begin cooling the victim.  Move the victim to a cool or shaded area.  Cool the person quickly using a cool bath, shower, spay from a garden hose or wrap them in a damp sheet.  If possible, monitor the person’s temperature until help arrives.  Heat stroke usually occurs when the heat index is 130 degrees or higher.

Eat small to be small

And by now you must have heard that smaller plates lead to smaller portions. Have you ever wondered if it is true? Well, a group of Belgian researchers conducted a small study recently where they offered college students M&M candies. Each of the students watched a 22 minute television show and were given a bowl of M&Ms. The first group was given 7 ounces of candy in a one-cup bowl.

The second group was given the same 7 ounces of candy in a larger three-cup bowl. Finally the third group was given a three-cup bowl of candy filled with 21 ounces of candy. The results? Well, the students ate twice as much candy from the large bowls (2 ounces more for about 300 extra calories) that they did from the small bowl.

So, what to do? Consider using or even buying smaller dishes. Your health and waistline may be worth the investment. Also, repackage food from larger containers with multiple servings into single portions. And when dining out, cut your dinner in half as soon as it arrives at the table and have your server wrap it to go. Not only do you save the calories, but you also get a second meal for later.

Breast cancer risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer
  • being a woman
  • getting older — the older you get, the greater your risk of breast cancer
  • having an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes
  • a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • a family history of breast cancer
  • having high breast density on a mammogram
  • having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia
  • being exposed to large amounts of radiation at a young age
  • never having children
  • having your first child after age 35
  • high levels of blood androgrens or estrogens
  • postmenopausal hormone use (in certain women)
  • being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult
  • high bone density
  • having more than one drink of alcohol per day
  • starting menopause after age 55
  • being younger than 12 at the time of your first period
  • current or recent use of birth control pills

Immune System Support

Our immune system is on a never-ending mission to keep us safe from offending organisms.  Invasions of these organisms often times present as colds, flus, hayfever, allergies, sinus congestion, coughs or runny noses.

These ailments occur when our immune system is working to rid our bodies of foreign intruders. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to help support our immune system during these times and to provide the reinforcements needed  to fend off foreign invaders in the future.

Your first line of defense is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.  Here are some strategies to help your immune system function properly.

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.

You can also consider taking supplements to boost your immunity.  Viracid is a convenient blend of high quality ingredients that can help keep you healthy or at least decrease the severity and duration of your illness.

The best vitamin under the sun

Vitamin D

The fourth vitamin to be discovered, vitamin D is a group of secosteroid compounds that include ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). The term “vitamin” is generally reserved for vital substances the body cannot synthesize on its own.

If the body is given cholesterol and sunshine, it can synthesize its own vitamin D, so technically Vitamin D is not an essential dietary vitamin.Serious deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to rickets, and it was research into this childhood disease, that led to the vitamin’s 1922 discovery by Edward Mellanby.

Vitamin D and Bones

Vitamin D has long been known to play an important role in bone health, and several recent studies provided additional confirmation. One study showed that girls who consumed the most vitamin D had the lowest risk for stress fractures.

It’s not just children who are at risk: 44% of postmenopausal women treated for distal radius fracture were vitamin D deficient or insufficient. And a meta-analysis showed that high doses of vitamin D lower the risk for fracture by 14% to 30% in people age 65 years or older.

Links to Diabetes

Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to several types of diabetes.  It’s unclear, however, whether low levels of vitamin D caused the diabetes or vice versa. A larger study in active-duty military personnel in the United States, found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop insulin-requiring diabetes within 1 year. And women who have low vitamin D levels during their first trimester of pregnancy were more likely to develop gestational diabetes

Vitamin D and Cardiovascular Disease

Numerous epidemiologic studies, including the largest one to date, suggest that a low vitamin D level increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Obesity

Women with low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may have children that are more prone to excess body fat at age 6 years. Furthermore, children ages 6 to 18 years who are overweight are more likely to have low vitamin D levels. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with less weight gain among women age 65 and older.

Neurologic Function

Vitamin D has been tied to several higher neurologic functions. Studies have linked autism to low vitamin D during pregnancy, a connection that was strengthened by a map showing that autism rates were highest among children living in states with the lowest levels of ultraviolet B radiation.

People with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have low levels of vitamin D, and better cognitive test results are linked to higher vitamin D levels.  Vitamin D3 may help clear the brain of amyloid-β. And low vitamin D levels in pregnant women have been associated with poor language development in their offspring.

Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis

Data from the Honolulu Heart Program show that people with low dietary vitamin D at baseline were about 25% more likely to sustain thromboembolic stroke, but not hemorrhagic stroke, during the ensuing 34 years.

The last year has seen a flurry of studies linking vitamin D to multiple sclerosis (MS), and all of them tie low levels of vitamin D to the disease. Three of these studies were published in a single issue of the journal Neurology. Another study linked low levels of vitamin D plus exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus to the development of MS.

Low vitamin D levels predict a near-term conversion of clinically isolated syndromes to definite MS. And the risk of developing MS has been linked to lower sun exposure in early life.

Pain

About half of women with metastatic breast cancer suffer intense musculoskeletal pain, but high-dose vitamin D2 supplements appear to help. A single oral dose of 300,000 IU of vitamin D appears to help with dysmenorrhea.  And a low level of vitamin D in black Americans increases the risk for knee osteoarthritis pain.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

A recent study showed that women with sufficient vitamin D levels at baseline are 62% less likely to develop Crohn’s disease over the 22 year study than those with vitamin D insufficiency. Additionally, women living at southern latitudes in the United States are 52% less likely to have inflammatory bowel disease than those living in the north.

Kidney Disease

Vitamin D deficiency is almost universal among patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).  Two recent studies independently concluded that high-dose cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) supplementation safely prevents and corrects this in patients undergoing dialysis.

But Wait, There’s More

Within the past year, studies have shown that vitamin D may reduce risk for dental caries (aka cavities).  Low vitamin D may be a result of depression,may increase the risk for perforated eardrums, and is linked to food allergies.

How Much Is Enough?

There’s little consensus about what blood levels of vitamin D are adequate, and even less on how much supplementation is enough. The US Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years and 800 IU for those who are older.

Some authorities recommend that people who are deficient should receive supplements of 1,000 to 5,000 IU daily, but others have recommended single-bolus doses of up to 500,000 IU.

If you have questions about your Vitamin D level or supplementation, please contact the office.

 
Gently adapted from Medscape news.

Dietary Fiber Nibbles Down Stroke Risk

Eating more fiber may modestly reduce the risk of stroke, although details remain uncertain and it might just be a surrogate for other healthy behaviors, a meta-analysis determined.Each additional 7 g of daily dietary fiber intake was associated with a significant 7% lower risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke combined, Diane Threapleton, MSc, of the University of Leeds, England, and colleagues reported online in Stroke.

“Our study supports current guidelines to increase fiber consumption,” the researchers concluded, although they noted that too little data were available to narrow down what sources or types of fiber were most protective.They called a 7-g per day boost in roughage doable, it being the equivalent of an extra serving of beans or two servings of fruit like apples and oranges.

The average American falls short of the daily recommended fiber intake by more than that, though, getting an average of just 13 g for women and 17 g for men compared with the 21 to 25 g and 30 to 38 g, respectively, called for by guidelines. Although the observational data couldn’t ascribe causality, a role for dietary fiber is plausible, Threapleton’s group noted.

“Soluble types of fiber form gels in the stomach and small intestine, slowing the rate of nutrient absorption and slowing gastric emptying, which increases satiety and influences the overall amount of food eaten, resulting in lower levels of overweight,” they wrote. “Bacterial fermentation of resistant starch and soluble fibers in the large intestine produces short-chain fatty acids which inhibit cholesterol synthesis by the liver, consequently lowering serum levels.”

Prior studies have shown links to stroke risk factors, including hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as insulin resistance.The literature search turned up eight prospective cohort studies from the U.S., northern Europe, Australia, and Japan reporting on fiber intake in healthy individuals (defined as not recruited based on history of disease or poor health) and incidence of first ever stroke.

Pooled results showed a steadily declining stroke risk with higher total fiber intake, with a relative risk of 0.93 per 7 g per day (95% CI 0.88 to 0.98). Few individuals had fiber levels above 25 g per day, “so extrapolation of risk at higher intakes should be undertaken with caution,” the researchers warned.

There was some evidence of heterogeneity among the studies, with a difference by study size.Ischemic stroke appeared less common with higher total dietary fiber intake in two of the four studies that reported on this outcome, while a third showed a similar trend but with wide confidence intervals.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurred less often at higher fiber levels in one of the three studies looking at that outcome. Soluble fiber showed a nonsignificant trend, with 6% lower relative risk of stroke per 4 g/day increase in daily intake across the studies.The insoluble fiber results couldn’t be pooled. One of the three studies reporting on this measure suggested a 38% lower stroke risk, while the others indicated no association.

Fiber from grain sources appeared protective in several studies, as did vegetable fiber, but again results couldn’t be pooled.The reviewers cautioned about the “inherent problem of unadjusted confounding” since fiber may be acting as a surrogate for other healthy behaviors like less smoking and more exercise that also would reduce stroke risk.

“All of the pooled studies did, however, include adjustment for potentially important confounding variables such as age, body mass index, blood pressure or history of hypertension, smoking status, alcohol intake, physical activity, and sex (where applicable), and also a variety of other health and lifestyle variables,” Threapleton and colleagues noted.

By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Tips to care for summer skin

Tip #1: Find the right sunscreen for your skin type

There are lots of brands and types of sunscreen so take the time to pick one that is right for your skin type. Consider oil-free if you have oily skin. Use a higher SPF if you have fair skin or burn easily.

Tip #2: Pre-apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you go out

Why 30 minutes? The sunscreen has a chance to build up in your skin and makes you less likely to burn. You should use a shot-glass-size amount on your body and a full teaspoon just on your face.

Tip #3: Reapply sunscreen Frequently

You should reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours or after you swim, exercise, or just sweat.

Tip #4: Don’t over wash

You’re going to feel sweatier during the hot weather. But remember, it’s not healthy to shower or wash your face more than twice a day and over washing makes your skin lose much-needed moisture. In actuality, you end up getting more oil production because your skin believes it should produce more to give it back its hydration.

If you really just need to take an extra shower, use only cold water without body wash or soap. The same goes for washing your face.

Tip #5: Use cold yogurt on your sunburn

A common misconception about soothing a sunburn is that you should keep re-applying lotion (especially aloe vera-based lotion) to keep the skin moist. But layering lotion on sunburned skin traps heat, keeping the skin red longer.

Skin must breathe to let out heat. Cold plain yogurt applied to the skin works as an anti-inflammatory and heat remover. Apply, let dry for 15 minutes, and rinse. Repeat every hour.

Heat Rash help

Heat rash facts
  • Heat rash occurs when the skin’s sweat glands are blocked and the sweat produced cannot get to the surface of the skin to evaporate. This causes inflammation that results in a rash.
  • The rash appears as reddened skin with tiny blisters and is due to inflammation. It often occurs in skin creases or areas of tight clothing where air cannot circulate.
  • The rash may be itchy or cause a prickly sensation and therefore it is also known as prickly heat.
  • Heat rash usually fades when the skin is allowed to cool. Medical treatment is necessary only if the area becomes infected.
  • Heat rash can be prevented by avoiding hot, humid conditions, wearing lose fitting clothes and using air conditioning or fans to allow air to circulate.
What is heat rash?

The skin’s job is to protect the inside of the body from the outside world. It acts as a preventive barrier against intruders that cause infection, chemicals, or ultraviolet light from invading or damaging the body. It also plays an important role in the body’s temperature control.

One way that the body cools itself is by sweating, and allowing that sweat or perspiration to evaporate. Sweat is manufactured in sweat glands that line the entire body (except for a few small spots like fingernails, toenails, and the ear canal).

Sweat glands are located in the dermis or deep layer of the skin, and are regulated by the temperature control centers in the brain. Sweat from the gland gets to the surface of the skin by a duct.

A heat rash occurs when sweat ducts become clogged and the sweat can’t get to the surface of the skin. Instead, it becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface causing a mild inflammation or rash.

Heat rash is also called prickly heat or miliaria.

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Burick Center for Health and Wellness