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'wellness' posts

Freaky Foods for Halloween

In celebration of Halloween, let me share with you some of the freaky foods finding their way into my kitchen!

Foods that go ‘boo’ – Kombucha (kom-BOO-cha)

“Whoa” shrieks the clerk as the checkout belt delivers a frightening surprise before him. “That’s absolutely disgusting. Is that a brain?” Since I couldn’t stop laughing to explain to this nauseated clerk what exactly was living in the glass jar in his hands, let me at least take a stab at convincing you that it’s really not that freaky, and in fact might be pretty good for you.

  • What it is: Kombucha is ....

How our voices work, and what to do when a voice doesn't work

A voice is an amazing thing.

With our voice, we convey information, express emotion and provide entertainment. We each have our own unique vocal ‘fingerprint’ that allows our friends to recognize us when we call them on the phone. We rely on our voice to win a debate, negotiate a contract, reassure a frightened child, and to celebrate a victory. Our tone conveys honesty, anger, happiness and fear. A song can inspire a spectrum of emotions, and recall past memories.

So how does our voice work? And what do you do when it doesn’t work?

Voice is produced when air is pushed up from the lungs to the level of the vocal cords. The vocal cords vibrate, producing sound. The vocal cords tense, lengthen and stretch to produce different frequencies. The sound is then shaped by the upper airway to add resonance and articulation resulting in speech or song.

The vocal cords themselves are thin bands of tissue over muscle. They sit within a framework that has a complex nerve supply and multiple paired muscles that allow very nuanced changes in vibration of the vocal cords, well demonstrated in professional singers.

Subtle differences in vibration or movement can ...

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 ...

Seattle Times Publishes Guest Column by Swedish-Affiliated Naturopathic Doctor on Myths and Facts about Echinacea and Cold/Flu Season

SEATTLE, Sept. 24, 2012 - On Sunday, Sept. 23 The Seattle Times published a guest-written Health page column by Swedish-affiliated naturopathic physician Dan Labriola, N.D., headlined 'The cold facts about echinacea.'

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.

Dodging A Bullet (Spike's Ordeal)

This post is reposted with permission from Spike O’Neill – see his original post here.

Some of you may have heard of my recent health scare. For those of you who heard and sent along your well wishes, I thank you. For anyone who hasn't, please allow me to share a scary story of ignorance and arrogance that almost cost me big time.

About a month ago, I was carrying my 8 year old daughter on my shoulders. We were leaving a family outing and she was griping about being tired. I didn't have to carry her very far, but when I put her down I noticed a weird ache in my jaw and in both arms, as well as a dull thick ache and a kind of puffiness in my hands. It went away pretty quickly and I blew it off as a pinched nerve or something. But when I felt the same thing a week later after lifting a few boxes in my garage I was a bit more concerned.

I tried again to dismiss the incident, but I have to give it up for my family, who INSISTED that I go see my family doctor just to be sure. I saw my Doc, who had just given me a complete physical a couple months ago, He checked me over, gave me an EKG and suggested a stress test just to be sure. I figured what the hell? Better to be safe than sorry right?

I had no idea how good that advice really was.

I took my stress test 4 days later at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill facility. A stress test is just you on a treadmill, wired to a bunch of stuff that measures heart function, pulse and blood pressure. Well, the normal EKG they gave me before the test started went completely sideways a few minutes later when they fired up the speed and incline of the treadmill. That's when they brought in Dr. Peter Demopulos, cardiologist.

Dr. Demopulos said that...

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