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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:

Dysphagia - what it is, what can be done, and why you should speak with your provider if you have trouble swallowing

Dysphagia. This is the technical medical term for difficulty swallowing which is a common complaint. Most people have experienced this sensation in their lives. It can occur when you’re eating something doughy like a bagel or French bread and then take few extra bites before swallowing. If you immediately swallow several times in a row you may get the sensation that the food is slowly passing toward your stomach. Your mouth may salivate; you might get a pressure sensation behind your breastbone; you might experience some pain, burning or discomfort. And, then you will feel instant relief the second the food you swallowed passes from the esophagus into the stomach. This is dysphagia.

For most people, this experience occurs very occasionally and usually when we are trying to eat too much, too quickly.

However, for some patients this symptom may occur more frequently such as daily and sometimes as often as every bite of food. It may also occur with solid food alone or with both solids and liquids. Most people will hope that the symptom will resolve by itself. Over time, they will often change the way they eat to avoid the symptom. They will eat slowly and chew their food till it resembles a paste, or they will use water to make things runny which then allows the food to pass.

What is interesting is that patients are reluctant to see or discuss this symptom with their physicians. In the last few months, I have seen patients who have had the symptom of dysphagia anywhere from 1 year to 40 years before they believed it was important enough to seek medical advice. The simple truth is that dysphagia that happens regularly or requires changes in the way you eat should be reported to a physician to determine the cause of the trouble.

What causes dysphagia?

There ...

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:

An Appetite for Autumn

Perhaps a recent flip of the calendar and a gentle drop in the thermometer has reminded you that it’s time to transition from the hassle-free and spontaneous raw meals of summer to the grounding and planned dishes autumn warrants. Despite claiming that we enjoy this season of change and appreciate the opportunity to readopt routines and schedules, most likely we will get lost in our obligations, stretch the limits of our clothing seams, let the darkness of the early setting sun bury our guilt for abandoning the gym, and then collectively and excitedly gear up for fabulous health resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Kidding. In all seriousness, I hope you can utilize the following tips and suggestions for transitioning to fall foods while successfully avoiding the seamstress.

Fall Favorites

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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 ...

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