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Choose a Healthy Diet Plan

New Year’s resolutions are generally a great step to starting the year right.  Goals related to health tend to top the resolution charts with weight loss, living healthier, or quitting smoking.  According to the Brain Statistic Research Institute, 38% of American resolutions relate to weight.  However, choosing the wrong diet could be harmful to your health if it isn’t right for your body.

Here are some guide lines to help you choose the best weight loss program for you along with some helpful links to lists of the top diets.

  • Choose a diet that fits your personality:  If you don’t cook, don’t focus on diet programs that are all about cooking gourmet recipes.  If you need constant support, look for local groups and friends who are also interested in a diet.  Choosing the right diet to fit in with who you are will help keep you motivated and on task.
  • Diets don’t have to be cost restrictive:  Many diet plans have huge marketing campaigns behind them asking you to buy new appliances or special equipment.  Chances are, if it sounds too good to be true – it is.  Try not to give in to gimmicks and assess how a diet fits in to your routine and your overall health.  There are many options that are healthy that also won’t break your bank.
  • Ask your doctor:  Your general practitioner knows your health history and may have valuable input to help with your dieting choice.  Consult them in regards to diet plans to be sure they won’t have an adverse effect, especially if you’re taking medications.
  • Think about your long term goal:  Many diets may help you lose weight for the time you are on the diet only.  Keep in mind your goals related to overall weight and health.  Try choosing a diet that will include foods you want to continue to enjoy and will be a better fit for you over the long term instead of a “quick fix” diet aimed at losing weight fast over a short period of time.
  • Listen to your body:   After choosing any diet, take note of how you feel.  Sleeplessness, dizziness, aches; are all red flags.  Your body still requires necessary vitamins and nutrients.  Some diets can leave your body deprived of certain ones.  A log or journal is a good way to track your health during any diet.

Fruit for BreakfastReferences and additional sites:

Statistic Brain Site

WebMd Diet Article

Health.usnews Site:  What Makes a Healthy Diet

Health.usnews Site:  Best Diet

DST Ends Sunday

Remember to Turn Back your Clocks

November 1st ends daylight savings time in the Northern Hemisphere.  This means the clocks turn back an hour and we go back to “standard time.”  The clocks will change from 2:00am to 1:00am.  Many of the mobile devices and computers adjust for this automatically, but it is good to remind ourselves about the change and prepare accordingly.  Once the time changes, your body will still be used to waking up and eating an hour later among your other routines.  It generally takes 1-2 days to adjust although some people may have more difficulty with the change than others.  Here are some things to remember associated with the time change.

Check the Car and Appliances: Save yourself the shock of a different time as soon as you sit at the wheel.  Take the time to adjust the clocks in your vehicle as well as the appliances.  Along with the clocks, many people take this time to also check their fire alarm batteries and carbon monoxide detectors.

Start to Adjust Early: Since the time change happens in the early hours of Sunday, sometimes slightly adjusting your schedule on Friday and Saturday to build up to the change can help immensely so that the change isn’t as much of a shock to your system.  Try getting up a little earlier on Friday, and more so on Saturday etc.  When Monday rolls around, you may be better adjusted.

Although the time change in the fall tends to be easier on us since we gain an hour, it impacts not only our sleep but  also our eating and exercise schedules.  Plan ahead and you will have no trouble with a healthy adjustment.  For more info on the time changes, see one of the following articles:

Coping with Time Changes – WebMD

DST Body Effects – CNN

DST 2015 – Al.com

Electronic Stethoscope

The time honored tool of the trade, the stethoscope, is gaining a technological advance.  The FDA recently approved the Eko Core, an attachment for the stethoscope designed by Eko Devices.  The medical devices startup founders say the Eko Core is the first next-generation stethoscope.  In an industry that is being influenced by technology more and more every day at such a rapid pace, one of the oldest tools of the trade will now be able to provide a digital foot print throughout a patient’s life.

The Eko Core is essentially a normal stethoscope with the Eko device attached that records the waveform and digital sound of the heart, then transmitting the recording to a HIPAA compliant smart phone app.  From there that waveform can also be attached to the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR).  Over the years a patient will have a digital record of their heart from childhood to geriatrics; providing a history of their heart and an insight into patterns or possible harmful conditions.  The device also allows that waveform and sound to be sent to specialists quickly and efficiently saving both the patient and doctors time and money.

“The stethoscope is an iconic and universal part of the medical practice, a tool which nearly every doctor, nurse and student learns to use,” said John Chorba, MD, cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, in a statement. “The beauty of the Eko Core is that it captures the heart sounds in a streamlined way that has never been done before, interfacing seamlessly into our traditional exam without requiring any extra effort.”  The product can very easily be utilized in existing practice with minimal training and will be useful in tracking the health of a patient’s heart throughout their life.  To learn more, visit Eko’s website.

Additional articles:  www.healthcareitnews.com

FDA to Ban PHOs in Trans Fats

The FDA has released its final determination that partially hydrogenated oils are not generally recognized as Safe (GRAS.)  Partially hydrogenated oils or PHOs are the primary dietary source of trans fats in processed foods.  This announcement by the FDA will lead to an even higher reduction in trans fats in processed foods over the compliance period of 3 years.  This will not completely remove trans fats from our foods due to the small amounts that occur naturally in meats and dairy products; but it is a huge step that is expected to reduce coronary heart disease.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States.

“We made this determination based on the available scientific evidence and the findings of expert panels,” says Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Studies show that diet and nutrition play a key role in preventing chronic health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and today’s action goes hand in hand with other FDA initiatives to improve the health of Americans, including updating the Nutrition Facts label,” she adds.  Consumers should still look at the ingredients label on foods to determine if they contain PHOs.  In order for a food label to list 0 trans fats, the food must contain less than .5 grams per serving.  Therefore, if partially hydrogenated oil is on the ingredients list, the food may still contain a small amount of trans fat.  Even in small doses, this can add up and lead to a negative impact if not managed properly.

From the FDA, here is a list of possible foods that may contain trans fats:

  • Coffee creamer
  • Crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, and other baked goods
  • Fast food
  • Frozen pizza
  • Ready-to-use frostings
  • Refrigerated dough products (such as biscuits and cinnamon rolls)
  • Snack foods (such as microwave popcorn)
  • Vegetable shortenings and stick margarines

Many companies have taken a preemptive approach to reducing trans fats among their food offerings resulting in healthier foods being produced.  Companies such as Campbell’s Soup, Nabisco, Nestle, General Mills, and Tyson Foods; have all taken steps to reduce trans fats and have already made great strides in reducing PHOs.  The Grocery Manufacturers Association stated, “since 2005, food manufacturers have voluntarily lowered the amounts of trans fats in their food products by over 73 percent, consumers can be confident that their food is safe, and we look forward to working with the FDA to better understand their concerns and how our industry can better serve consumers.”

Over a century ago the German chemist Wilhelm Normann discovered the process of creating PHOs.  During WWII it was thought to be a healthier substitute to saturated fats and allowed for a longer shelf life for many processed foods.  Now 104 years later, the ban by the FDA will remove most trans fats from our diets.  Science has found that PHOs have virtually no nutritional value and for every 2% of energy gained from trans fats, risk of heart disease increases by 23%; according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.  This determination by the FDA is a highlight of how science and regulation can improve our health and livelihoods by protecting us from harmful ingredients and or processes.  Although it will be three years before the full effects will be in place, companies have made a great start in keeping their consumers healthier.

References:

FDA Website:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm449162.htm

Forbes Website:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2015/06/16/why-the-fdas-trans-fat-ban-is-a-triumph-of-good-government/

CNBC Website:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101179730

Healthy Spring Cleaning

Once the winter months wind down and we get into spring, we tend to look to our home, garage, and yard when thinking about spring cleaning.  But similarly, our bodies have also been limited to the indoor environments for the winter months and could also use some maintenance.  The cold and darker months of winter lead us to exercise less, eat heavier sometime less healthy foods, and may have affected our mental health as well.  Spring is a great time to kick things off right and get back to being healthier.

As the weather warms up, our cravings for those heavier soups and meals may begin to wane.  Spring is a great time to stop at the local food stands or farmer’s market and pickup home-grown produce.  They’re generally in abundance and are a great source of healthy ingredients.  Foods such as asparagus, broccoli, chives, fennel, greens, strawberries, and spinach; can be found throughout spring.  Seasonal fruits tend to have the best taste and the most nutrients when they’re freshest.

Those chilly nights with the wind and snow blowing outside the windows are at an end.  Spring is time to dust off those walking or running shoes; or clean off the lighter jackets for an evening stroll or jog.  With more hours of daylight in the day, its best to take advantage of not only the sun, but the fresh air and also some light exercise.  Walking has great cardiovascular benefits, works out those kinks in the legs, and can also help mental clarity.  If going to a gym seems like a chore, try other activities such as a round of miniature golf, a trip to the zoo, or some Frisbee at the park.  The natural light and open air will be beneficial for your body and health.

Even cleaning your environment will be good for your health.  After being cooped up all winter long, our homes collect more dander and dust that can highly affect our respiratory functions.  Even if you clean your home all winter long, the toxins from many cleaners can also build up along with any mold or mildew.  Airing out the home and giving it that good spring clean, will help keep it a healthy environment as well as providing a good boost to your mood.

Finally, the lack of daylight hours during the winter and being stuck inside many days and nights may have affected your mood.  Winter depression or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can have a debilitating effect.  These effects may linger and make getting motivated harder.  Start with simple things like opening the windows, putting some music on, and cleaning.  Walk around your yard or block.  Running a marathon, planting a garden, or cleaning the entire garage may be lofty expectations at first, so think small and get started spending time up and about first.   SAD is a serious form of depression and if you don’t feel the effects waning as winter comes to an end, it may be a good idea to consult a physician or therapist.  To learn more about SAD, visit WebMD for more articles.

Spring cleaning is an important part of the seasonal changes we see here in Update NY.  No matter what you do to prepare for spring, we at Upstate HomeCare look forward to a healthy kick start into spring.  For more information, take a look at any of the pages below with links to more ways to start your healthy spring cleaning and don’t hesitate to let us know if there is any way we can help make your spring healthier.

http://greatist.com/health/83-healthy-recipe-substitutions

http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/spring-nutrition-and-fitness/spring-clean-your-diet.aspx

http://ecohabits.net/benefits-spring-cleaning/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

http://source.southuniversity.edu/spring-can-bring-showers-of-depression-35284.aspx

Benefits of Vaccines

Vaccination has been around for hundreds of years and today’s vaccines are a very real part of modern medicine.  Efforts taken during the 18th and 19th centuries led to the eradication of Small Pox in 1979.  Since then many more vaccinations have been created and more diseases are close to being wiped out.  Modern flu vaccinations help prevent serious cases of influenza among high risk adults and children, as well and keeping outbreaks under control.  The future may hold vaccines for cancers or HIV.  Although modern medicine holds vaccines to the highest standards, there are many myths and beliefs supporting an anti-vaccination lobby.  Due to recent outbreaks of Measles and Whooping Cough cases in the US, the topic of immunization warrants a discussion and further detail.

Recent outbreaks such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 bring to light the issue of diseases and their effects on the globe.  Although our standards here in the US are very high, travelers from other countries can bring in potentially harmful viruses and diseases.  Shortly after the New Year, several cases of Measles have been traced back to Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Theme Parks.  Six of those cases were among unvaccinated children.  It is believed that just one infected visitor was the cause of the outbreak according to the Dept. of Public Health.  In 2010 there was also a Whooping Cough outbreak in California with 9000 cases, 10 of which resulted in death.  With international travel so prevalent, we need to keep in mind that the US isn’t separate from the world community.  One visitor from a country where a disease is endemic can threaten our public safety here at home.

Many of our Upstate HomeCare customers are dealing with symptoms that would be much worse if they were exposed to diseases that vaccines try to prevent.  Measles and Whooping Cough greatly task the respiratory system and can result in pneumonia or worse.  Part of the benefit from vaccines has to do with a concept called “Herd Immunity.”  This is defined as “the immunity or resistance to a particular infection that occurs in a group of people or animals when a very high percentage of individuals have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the infection.”  The intent is then to help protect the portion of the population who is more susceptible to the disease by preventing it from gaining any foothold.  This protects those who cannot receive the vaccine due to immune deficiencies or allergies.  The symptoms of the disease are higher risk than having a side-effect from a vaccine injection.  For example, see the following stats for Measles and Rubella versus their vaccine MMR.

Measles Conditions:
Pneumonia:  6 in 100
Encephalitis:  1 in 1,000
Death:  2 in 1,000

Rubella Conditions:
Congenital Rubella Syndrome:  1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)

Vaccine MMR Reactions:
Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:  1 in 1,000,000

Although some health concerns have arisen over the safety of vaccines on our children, the risk of highly contagious diseases is far greater to our young children and elderly than the side-effects of a vaccine.  Good education is the key to choosing the right decision for your child and yourself.  Everyone should research what is in each vaccine and consult their physician in regards to any allergies or other possible reactions; then you can make an educated decision.  For more information on the misconceptions of vaccines and facts, please take a look at the following Q&A from the World Health Organization or any of the other links below regarding the safety of vaccines and possible side-effects.

Resources:

Interactive World Map Showing Vaccinated Disease Status

Advice from iflscience.com regarding Vaccines for Parents

LA Times Article on Disneyland Outbreak and Vaccinations

LA Times Article on the Vaccine and Autism Link

CDC Article on Vaccine Side-Effects

Webmd.com Immunization Overview

Parenting.com Article on Vaccine Myths

Immune.org Article on a Brief History of Vaccination

CDC Article on Rotavirus

CDC Article:  What Would Happen if we Stopped Vaccinations

World Health Organization Article on Vaccine Misconceptions