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'health' posts

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 ...

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 ....

Information from Swedish on Multistate Fungal Meningitis Outbreak among Patients who Received Contaminated Steroid Injections

SEATTLE, Oct. 23, 2012 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating a multistate outbreak of fungal meningitis and joint infections. It appears the outbreak is due to the contamination of an injectable steroid medication called methylprednisolone acetate produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Swedish has never carried the methylprednisolone acetate product produced by NECC.

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 ...

Eliminating your risk for stroke

In the clinic, we work with stroke patients and their families to help them understand the risk of having a second stroke and what they can do to reduce their risk. Lifestyle and medical conditions determine your risk for a first, or second, stroke.

  • Do you have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol?
  • Do you have diabetes?
  • Have you been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you avoid exercise?
  • Has a close relative had a stroke?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re at greater risk for having a stroke. If you’ve already had a stroke, your “yes” answers mean you’re more likely to have another one.

Your lifestyle can help you avoid a first or second stroke. And, because family history is a stroke risk factor, your entire family can benefit from a healthy way of life. Pledge to help each other stick to a routine that includes:

  • No smoking
  • Healthy eating
  • Regular exercise
  • Taking medications are directed
  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Taking low-dose aspirin or a similar medicine (if recommended by your doctor)
  • Managing your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
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