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'wellness' posts

Nails: A window to your health

Your fingernails and toenails are a window into your overall health. Many health conditions, such as heart and lung disease, are very visible in the nails. Bands or lines in multiple fingernails, as well as changes in color, can also indicate illness. Nails can even tell you how long you’ve been ill since fingernails need six months to grow, and toenails a whole year.

When was the last time you looked at your nails?

Did you know:

  • Nail pitting: Small depressions on the surface of the nail; is common in people with psoriasis
  • Clubbing: Enlarged fingertips with nails curving around the fingertips may indicate lung, liver, heart or inflammatory bowel disease, or AIDS
  • Spooning: Scoop-shaped nails that curve up may be a sign of anemia
  • Banding...

Healthy holiday eating and drinking tips

Happy (healthy) holidays! Here's a roundup of great tips, recipes, and videos to help you make decisions about what to eat or what to make & bring to holiday gatherings:

 

 

Flu vaccine for children

A lot of parents have questions about the flu vaccine and many parents refuse the vaccine as they feel it does not very effective. Some parents are concerned about vaccines in general and refuse vaccinating their child as they don’t want to administer “another vaccine” to their child. The best way to prevent getting flu is by vaccination.

What is flu (Influenza)?

Flu (influenza) is not just a common cold or a stomach virus as most people think. Influenza usually occurs during the winter in our region although it can occur all year around in other parts of the world. It can be a serious respiratory illness that can lead to complications especially in children and older adults. Symptoms are generally similar to any other common cold infections and can vary from fever, runny nose, nose congestion, cough, body aches and headaches. The body aches and headaches are mostly reported by older children and adults. Children may not be able to explain their symptoms and may just be fussy.

Most children get over the flu without any complications. In some children and adults, however, it can lead to serious complications including pneumonia.

How to prevent the flu:

Influenza is ...

Can Chicken Soup and Orange Juice Fight Off Illness?

Chicken soup and orange juice are popular home remedies when a cold or flu strikes. But can certain foods really make us feel better, or is it just folklore?

“There is no clear consensus about whether or not certain foods can help us ward off or relieve illness,” explains Richard Lindquist, M.D., Medical Program Director at Swedish Weight Loss Services. “However, certain foods do contribute to overall health, and that can help us withstand exposure to illnesses.”

The body needs energy to fight off illness, and good foods like healthy proteins, and antioxidant-rich, bright colored fruits and vegetables, provide that energy. And what about Grandma’s chicken soup? 

“Although a Nebraska Medical Center study did conclude that chicken soup appeared to help participants fight off colds, I wonder whether or not other factors like a healthy diet or regular hand washing contributed to these outcomes,” says Dr. Lindquist. “However, chicken soup combined with plenty of rest and fluids can’t hurt when you’re feeling under the weather.”

One thing we can be sure of is that eating the wrong foods can certainly contribute to us become ill. “If we are deficient in protein, vitamins and nutrients, our bodies are less able to fight off illness,” explains Dr. Lindquist. “Additionally, foods that cause us to put on extra weight are detrimental to our immune system. Excess fat tissue causes inflammation in the body, which compromises our immune system and makes us vulnerable to viruses.”

Even if we’re eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, cold and flu viruses are highly contagious and can attack even the healthiest individuals. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take other steps to protect yourself. “The best thing you can do to prevent illness is to avoid exposure to infectious sources,” advises Dr. Lindquist. “The next best thing is making sure your immune system is up to par, and that includes good nutrition.” Some tips for avoiding, or at least decreasing, your exposure to illness include:

Probiotics and our gut - what you should know

Did you know that the bacteria that live in our intestines account for over two pounds of our body weight? And that there are 10 times the number of bacterial cells in our body than human cells? Some bacteria play a beneficial role in a normal gastrointestinal (GI) tract and are known as probiotics.

Probiotics have a variety of functions in the GI tract including aiding the intestinal immune system and the intestinal nervous system, breaking our food into nutrients, blocking the bad bacteria, and promoting a healthy intestinal lining. With so many important tasks, it is no surprise that probiotics can be used to treat some common GI conditions. Though studies of probiotics are small with considerable variability, there is evidence supporting probiotic use for prevention of diarrhea caused by antibiotic use and treatment of infectious diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, clostridium difficile, and irritable bowel syndrome.

What you should know:

The U.S. FDA considers probiotics as dietary supplements, so their production is not tightly regulated and quality can vary widely. In addition, insurance companies do not cover probiotics, and the cost adds up quickly.

Should I ....

Getting ready for flu season

Influenza (“flu”) season is unpredictable but usually starts in October each year and peaks around January or February. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommends annual flu vaccination for all people older than 6 months. Getting vaccinated is particularly important if you or someone with whom you live has a chronic medical condition, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Here are some things I want you to know about influenza and vaccination:

First, influenza is a serious medical illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Annually, up to 200,000 people are hospitalized for influenza. Sadly, the H1N1 outbreak in the 2009 – 2010 flu season caused about 12,000 deaths.

Second, influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent you from getting the flu.

Third, you cannot get sick from getting the flu shot! Some people ...

What to do when Seattle gets hot

The area is heating up. The National Weather Service has announced an excessive heat watch for this Thursday and Friday, with temperatures that will rise into the low to mid 90s. When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises. Older adults, young children, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at particularly high risk.

Here are some safety tips to avoid overheating and things to consider for the weekend:

Stay cool:

  • Spend more time in air conditioned places. If you don't have air conditioning, consider visiting a mall, movie theater or other cool public places.

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.

  • Dress in lightweight clothing.

  • Check up on your elderly neighbors and relatives and encourage them to take these precautions, too.

Drink liquids:

  • Drink plenty of water; this is very important. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar because they can actually de-hydrate your body.

  • Have a beverage with you as much as possible, and sip or drink frequently. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

  • Limit the time you're in direct sunlight.

  • Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car, even with the window rolled down.

  • Avoid or reduce doing activities that are tiring, or take a lot of energy.

  • Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.

  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

  • Wear a hat or use an umbrella for shade.

 

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