Mold Exposure and Your Health. Spring often brings wet crawl spaces, and flooded basements. Each of those problems can bring mold. But how does mold affect your health? Keep reading and find out. According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In addition, in 2004 the IOM found sufficient evidence to link exposure to damp indoor environments in general to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mold. Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard. If you have mold in your home, or are exposed to it in other areas such as a compost pile, cut grass or wood piles, it’s important that you are avoid breathing in mold in these areas to help keep your lungs healthy. Still have questions about mold and your health? Ask your doctor.
Water. It’s vital to our existence. We all know it is important, and we all know we should be doing it. But do we know why? For starters, did you know water makes up 90 percent of brain weight? It also makes up 60 percent of your body weight. Adequate hydration is essential for your body to function. If that isn’t enough to convince you to drink more, here are five fantastic reasons water is important to your health:
- It helps weight loss. Water helps you feel full longer, without adding any additional calories. Drinking it or eating foods with a high water content can be a big help in managing your weight
- It aids in digestion. It aids in constipation and other abdominal issues, especially those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. It helps to move the digestive process along and through the system.
- It boots energy. It delivers important nutrients to all of our cells, especially muscle cells, postponing muscle fatigue
- It hydrates skin. Forget expensive creams and cure-alls, water is the best defense against aging and wrinkles in the skin.
- It detoxifies. Moves toxins through your system faster, and optimizes kidney function. Inadequate hydration means inadequate kidney function.
Help your teen sleep better According to recent studies, forty-three percent of parents say their teens struggle to fall asleep — or wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Help your teen sleep better with the following tips: Maintain a regular sleep schedule Keeping a sleep schedule within an hour of what’s usual helps keep the circadian rhythm in check. Sleeping in hours later than normal on the weekends and during school breaks makes it even more difficult to switch back — and can lead to more tiredness and grogginess. “Catch-up” sleep is also unlikely to make up for the full amount of sleep debt accrued over a week, and we don’t believe it’s as restorative to the body. Discourage afternoon naps Even though they may provide more sleep short term, naps make it harder to fall asleep at night. They also break up sleep, which means lower quality of sleep and fewer benefits. If this is a habit, do everything you can to quit naps for a week to make it easier to not nap going forward. Ban electronics from the bedroom Not being able to stay off electronics — including social media and cell phones — was the top reason polled parents cited for their teens’ sleep troubles. Some research indicates that the light exposure from screens also disrupts traditional cues sent to the brain to wind down. That’s why I recommend physically removing the device. Charge phones elsewhere Make it a family rule to charge all devices in a parent’s bedroom or another isolated space to reduce temptation at bedtime. Many teens I’ve seen in my own practice actually describe a sense of relief when their parents limit phone use because it takes away some of that pressure to keep up with social news and what their peers are up to. Stick to sleep-friendly bedtime routines In addition to banning electronics, limit other distractions in the bedroom. All stimulation should be minimized. Keep lights low and active pets out of the bedroom. We discourage using music or sound machines to help with sleep because they may actually keep the brain stimulated. Realize sleep isn’t instant We don’t expect people to fall asleep right away. It can take half an hour for someone to truly fall asleep. Have your teen follow a routine that helps them de-stress and wind down to get their body into sleep mode and send the right signals to the brain that it’s time to snooze (e.g., bath, reading, bed). Consult a health provider Sometimes an underlying medical issue, such as depression or sleep apnea, may be causing sleep trouble. If a teen continues to have problems falling asleep or is waking up multiple times at night despite healthy sleep hygiene habits, speak to a sleep specialist. Call us if you have additional information. We can help.
Healthy living for the new year It’s a new year, help be a healthier you. Here are some simple rules for getting back on track. Eat Your Fruit and Veggies! What does this mean? Avoid processed foods and eat foods in their natural state. Vegetables and fruits are filled with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. These are the items you need to support a healthy body. Eating a wide variety of different-colored fruits and veggies is always a healthy choice. When you look at your plate make sure 80% is fresh or lightly cooked vegetables. Minimize Processed Food Intake. Foods that are processed usually come in a box or bag and have a long shelf life. These include things like crackers, chips, cookies, cereals, and cake mixes, and they have little to no water content. Processed foods can contain unhealthy fats (see next). Eat Healthy Fats. Avocado, coconut oil, olives, nuts, seeds, unheated olive and flax oil, clean salmon, and nuts are all items that include healthy fats. Healthy fats are important for providing energy, healthy cell membranes, and hormone balance. Stay away from margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods, and anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil listed in the ingredients. Make Your Meals with Love. Sharing meals and making them with love will not only allow you to take time to connect offline, with those you love, but also allows you to see exactly what you are eating/cooking. Create community and connection with your family and friends by getting creative with healthy recipes that inspire conversation and nourish those you care about. Drink Water! Drink 8 glasses of filtered water a day. Our body is about 60% water; drinking enough water maintains fluid balance, which transports nutrients, regulates body temperature and digests food. Dehydration lowers energy levels and brain function. Proper hydration also promotes healthy bowel movements, keeps our skin clear and flushes toxins. You can infuse your water with fresh herbs, fruit, or a dash of honey for sweetness. Eat with the Seasons. Buying produce from farmers markets is a great way to see what’s fresh and seasonal in your area. In the cooler months, eat more warming foods like soups, hot teas, and warming spices like cinnamon, pepper, and garlic. In the warmer months, eat more cooling foods like fresh green juices, salads and ingredients like lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon and cooling spices like peppermint, fennel, and cilantro. Do Not Overeat. Overeating can result in symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool and a feeling of heaviness. Try not to overload your plate with large portions. Make sure vegetables take up the largest percentage when possible. Have a happy, healthy New Year!
There are benefits of Dry January to your health. Dry January is a term used for ditching alcohol in the first month of the new year. Many people celebrate as an annual tradition and mini-detox from the overindulgence during the holidays. Whatever reason you’re taking part in “Dry January” the benefits are great for your health. There's absolutely nothing wrong with abstaining from or limiting your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking and binge drinking can lead to several negative health effects, including weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and can put you at risk for other health risks. Taking one month off from drinking may not turn back the clock, but it will help you learn where your body is in relation to alcohol and can help your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re starting your Dry January alcohol hiatus, consider taking a look at how much you actually consume when not abstaining and how it can positively affect your health. If you're having several drinks a week, one of the main benefits of dry January could be a decrease in your overall calories, since a standard drink typically has around 150 calories. If you're trying to lose weight, cutting alcohol is one way to do it without compromising any of the fuel and nutrients your body needs. Alcohol contributes calories but doesn't make us feel more satisfied—it often amps up hunger. Also, since alcohol has a dehydrating effect, it can also contribute to bloating, judgement impairment,and could lead you to make poor food choices contributing to weight gain. If you’re feeling the need to clear your mind, focus and improve your sleep and digestion, avoiding alcohol can help you feel more energetic and stay motivated. It can help you get your workouts in and stick to overall healthy eating habits. And the fact that you're not going to the bar can lead to sleeping more, getting up at a decent hour and skipping fewer workouts. Your immune system can also improve with the absence of alcohol. When it comes to your immune system, positive health habits may be more influential than just abstaining from alcohol. Too much alcohol can acutely suppress immune function making you more vulnerable to pathogens, while chronic drinking can lead to inflammatory reactions throughout the body. Additionally, while there isn't data to suggest that ditching booze can protect you from the flu, it's reasonable to assume that drinking less, sleeping more and exercising more can all have a positive influence on your immune system. Dry January will give your liver a break, decreasing the metabolic stress that alcohol puts on the liver. Approximately half of all liver disease deaths are from alcoholic liver disease. As long as you don't use Dry January as an excuse to drink however much you want the other 11 months of the year, it will have positive impacts on most parts of your life and can help improve your health for months to come. Check in with yourself before your first February toast and see if you can keep the momentum for the remainder of 2019.
The amazing effects pets have on mental health. Studies are continually showing that pets aren’t just fun to have around the house – there is health-boosting power among our furry, scaly or feathered friends. Everything from increasing activity to making you happier, pets have a wonderful impact on your psyche. It’s no surprise that owning a pet – particularly a dog – makes you more active, but the list of health benefits that come with that might surprise. Older adults who own a dog have a lower body mass index, make fewer visits to the doctor and do more exercise. Research also shows that the stronger your bond with your pooch, the more likely you are to walk, and spend longer walking. With all those walks, pets tend to be good for your heart too. The American Heart Association undertook a study about how owning pets affects your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, including conditions that affect your heart and blood, such as stroke or coronary heart disease. Researchers found that having a pet – a dog, in particular – is probably associated with reducing your chances of developing CVD, though they were careful not to overstate this. In a follow-up study researchers again looked at how having a dog or cat affected your health, and this time felines came up trumps. They found that having a cat is associated with a reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially strokes. This shows that it’s not just the exercise associated with having a pet that helps you – the stress relief and companionship also have very physical benefits. Pets make you more sociable. Even though you might feel grumpy sometimes and think you like quiet, humans are social animals. It’s important for our physical and mental health to have contact with other people – and our four-legged friends are a brilliant way to get you talking. Pets increase the number of off-chance chats you have and help people trust you and are brilliant ice-breakers. Social isolation is a huge health problem, particularly for the elderly. In fact, social isolation can increase your chances of dying early. So, what may seem like a trivial chat over the garden wall when looking for your cat or in the park when walking your dog, can be hugely significant for your mental and physical health. Pets stop loneliness. It’s not just that pets help you build a wider social network – many people have pets as companions. They make you happy, give you a routine and are great company – all of which adds your quality of life and boosts your everyday mental health. Pets reduce your stress. If you want to try and control your stress levels, go and chat to your pet. Studies have shown that pet owners reacted less to stress – and recovered from it much quicker – when their pets were present. Another study took 48 people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs. Researchers measured how they responded to stress before the test. Then, some of them bought a pet and six months later researchers again measured their response to stress. The results were interesting: after 6 months pet owners had less of a physical response to stress compared with those who didn’t have a four-legged friend. Pets are great. And a lot of them need homes. Help out a pet (adopt!) while helping to improve your mental health.
How to choose healthy school lunches and snacks Students have been back to school for a little while now, but families may still be discussing whether children should take a brown-bag lunch to school or purchase a meal at the school’s cafeteria. School lunches, have improved over the past few years, especially with the decrease in sugary beverages and emphasis on fruit and vegetables, but they may still offer some not-so-healthful options. Given the choice, many kids will choose the latter – like pizza every day, no veggies and high-sugar chocolate milk, etc. It’s really important to stay ahead of those choices and make sure your children have a healthy option. Homemade lunches are usually a better choice because a parent can tailor the meal to the child’s needs and tastes. If your child has a food allergy or dietary issue, for example, you can address that. School lunches also generally tend to be repetitive. School cafeterias have a rotating calendar of meals and generally serve the same thing each week. With a homemade lunch, you can have variety and make it healthy and what your child likes and will eat. Ideally, a healthful lunch – one-third of your child’s daily intake of nutrition – should include some form of lean protein, a whole grain, a vegetable, fruit, and a source of calcium, like milk, yogurt or cheese. The same dish served at school may not be nutritionally equivalent to the one made at home. Mac and cheese, for example is likely made from white pasta and processed cheese at school. At home, she uses high-protein pasta and natural cheese. Homemade lunches don’t have to be that elaborate. There’s nothing wrong with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread if you don’t have time to make something fancier. And all kids love sweets, so it’s OK to throw in a bit of sweet, such as a chocolate kiss or a mini candy bar as long as it’s in moderation. Sandwiches and wraps with whole-grain bread or tortillas, lean meat and veggies are a good standby. Raw veggies, such as carrots, celery, jicama and grape tomatoes are always a good choice. Or consider looking for baked veggie straws or baked potato chips in single serving pouches as a side to a sandwich. There are so many options for healthy simple lunches for your children. Consider packing it for them and making them as healthy as they can be.
Regular checkups are important. You aren’t feeling sick, your energy levels are up, you’re diet is great. You feel you don’t need for a regular checkup. If that’s your thought process, you may be wrong. Regular checkups are extremely important to everyone’s health. You provider will do screenings and exams that you need and when you need them. You may not even consider some of the screenings they do that can help avoid future illness or injury. Below are resources to help you and your health care provider determine what health services and screenings are best for you. Why Get Regular checkups? By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life. Your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e. what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke), and other important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare. Start with your UFMC doctor. The best place to go for health services is your regular health care provider. We are here to help you stay healthy and strong. Your doctor is a great sounding board whether you have illness or not, make sure to use them as your best resource. Encourage others to get a checkup. You may also want to start a campaign in your community to encourage others to make an appointment for a check-up or health screening. It’s important that everyone gets a checkup to make sure they are on track to great health. Make an appointment for your checkup today!
Your Family Health History Have you ever thought about your family health history? It’s something that doctors generally ask about, but have you ever thought about what it can result in for you? What is your family health history? You and your family members share genes. You may also have behaviors in common, such as exercise habits and what you like to eat. You may live in the same area and come into contact with similar things in the environment. Family history includes all of these factors, any of which can affect your health. Why is knowing family health history good for your health? Most people have a family member that has a health history of at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. If you have a close family member with a chronic disease, you may be more likely to develop that disease yourself, especially if more than one close relative has (or had) the disease or a family member got the disease at a younger age than usual. Collect your family health history information before visiting the doctor, and take it with you. Even if you don’t know all of your family health history information, share what you do know. Family health history information, even if incomplete, can help your doctor decide which screening tests you need and when those tests should start. How can I improve my health using our family health history? You can’t change your genes, but you can change unhealthy behaviors. Be active, improve your eating habits, stop smoking. You may have the most to gain from lifestyle changes and screening tests. Worried about your family health history? Make an appointment and discuss it with your doctor.
Five Healthy Snacking Ideas If you’re trying to eat healthier or lose weight, we have a few ideas for you on the snack front. Snacking is normal, it’s hard not to snack a little bit throughout the day, but make sure you’re choosing healthy snacks instead of items that are bad for you. Snacks should generally be a combination of a protein, healthy fat and fiber. Though, they should not be a substitute for a meal. The key is to make sure you’re snacking smartly. Snacks should be a combination of a protein, healthy fat and fiber. You don't need to be a calorie counter, but it’s important to note — so your snacks don’t become meals — that they should be kept to approximately 150-200 calories. Seven Healthy snack ideas include: 1. Roasted Artichoke Hearts Artichoke hearts are ridiculously easy to make (see simple recipe here), They satisfy that crunchy craving while providing fiber and beneficial nutrients such as anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that are great for your overall health. The fiber will help you feel fuller longer and feed those beneficial bacteria in your gut. 2. Beetroot Dip A combo of greek yogurt and beets is the base for this dip (see beetroot dip recipe here). It is loaded with protein, which helps keep your hunger at bay by providing satiety and boosts your metabolism too. Plus, the beets offer beneficial nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Feel free to load up on the raw veggies, but keep the dipping to a few tablespoons. If beets aren’t your thing, you can simply grab your favorite Greek yogurt and top it with berries, sliced almonds or coconut flakes instead. 3. Rosemary Spiced Nuts Rosemary spiced nuts (see the spiced nut recipe here) are nutrient powerhouses packed with protein, fat and fiber, all which help to curb cravings so you don’t overeat at your next meal. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as vitamin E. Grab a small handful next time you’re hungry or give these rosemary spiced nuts a try. Adding herbs such as rosemary will make your snacks feel extra satisfying. 4, Apple Fries and Dip These may not be the real fries you are used to, but they are just as tasty (see Apple fries recipe here). The apple slices are high in disease-fighting antioxidants and flavonoids, while the peanut butter and Greek yogurt dip packs in healthy fats and protein. For an extra flavorful and nutritious boost, sprinkle cinnamon to help control blood-sugar levels and keep your metabolism in check. Use a medium-size apple and 1-2 tablespoons for each dipping session. 5. Veggie Chips Baking your favorite veggies make for great snacks. Make veggie chips (such as these kale chips or roasted beet chip recipes) to create the perfect salty, crunchy snack without all the processing and additives that come with packaged chips. Munch on these nutritious, tasty chips (approximately 1 cup) for a simple way to sneak in some extra veggies and keep you fueled all day long. These are a start, but make sure to ask your doctor for additional help with your weight loss or diet goals.