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An innovative solution for the un (and under) insured

Health-care reform is a big, confusing, emotionally-charged topic. Now that 2014 is underway and the Affordable Care Act is beginning to take effect, many more Americans will have greater access to health insurance than they had before. It is estimated that 180,000 people in King County alone will become newly insured this year.

Still, there will be many people in our community – and throughout the country – who will continue to face barriers to accessing care. Some of them will be considered underinsured because they can’t afford to fill the gap in medical expenses not covered by their insurance. Others receiving Medicaid may find it difficult to locate a physician who is willing to take them on as a patient, as doctors are not required to see Medicaid patients, and many don’t. And then, there will probably always be those people who don’t have any insurance at all because, for one reason or another, they can’t sign up: the homeless, the chronically mentally ill, those who can’t read or write English, to name just a few.

Community clinics scattered throughout the nation, including several in our community, help address this problem on the primary care end. But access to specialty medical care for low-income patients facing barriers to care like the ones described above is likely to remain extremely difficult.

Fortunately, an innovative program pioneered at Swedish is addressing this effectively, and is likely to become a national model.

The Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) was expanded and moved to the Swedish/First Hill campus in  ..

New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice

We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose)…also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!

You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, “added sugars” will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
 

Nutrition spotlight on quinoa

This week the Registered Dietitians and Diet Technicians offered up a unique spin on quinoa for National Nutrition Month. Many of you reported you have had it as a side dish at dinner or in a salad for lunch. However on Wednesday, we served quinoa for breakfast! Spiced up with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, the sky is the limit for extra add-ins to further boost the nutrition of your morning meal.

Additional Flavor Ideas to Mix and Match:
  • Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, etc)
  • Diced apple or pear
  • Banana slices
  • Mixed berries
  • Dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, prunes)
  • Almond or peanut butter
  • A tablespoon of flax seed or chia for healthy essential fatty acids
  • Honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar for sweetness
  • Scrambled egg for protein
Technically considered a seed (not a grain), quinoa is gluten-free and a complete source of protein. A serving provides a good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Quinoa is also packed with B-Vitamins including folate, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6. Try substituting quinoa for pasta or rice at meals to change things up and increase the nutrition ..

Enjoy the taste of eating right - National Nutrition Month 2014

In honor of National Nutrition Month®, the Registered Dietitians and Diet Technicians of Swedish Medical Center will be promoting healthy eating and proper nutrition each Wednesday in March during lunch hours (11am-2pm) at the First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, and Issaquah Campuses.

This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right”. Research by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that taste is the main reason Americans will select one food over another. This creates a complicated dilemma, as the foods you love will likely become the ones you eat the most. The challenge is to create easy to prepare, delicious, and nutritious meals and snacks that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugar.

The nutrition experts will be providing healthy tips, recommendations, and information to encourage and improve the nutritional health of the Swedish community. There will be ...

Easy tips to change the way we eat

Two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obese. With this trend, diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gout, arthritis and sleep apnea have become commonplace with my patients.

While there are key steps that we can all take to be healthier – don’t use tobacco, limit or abstain from alcohol, make exercise a part of our daily routine – I want to focus on a few simple ways to change the way we eat.

I think Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and other books on food, said it best: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

So how can you get started and make it permanent?

1. Eat real food
Foods that can sit on a shelf for years are usually loaded with salt, genetically modified ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives. This is not the food our body was meant to eat.  Instead ....

Why you should care about fatty liver disease

The liver is a vital organ necessary for survival.  It performs crucial functions including protein synthesis and detoxification.  When excessive amounts of fat and lipids accumulate in the liver cells, this can lead to liver injury and cause a disease called fatty liver disease.  Fatty liver disease is a serious diagnosis that has become one of the most common causes of abnormal liver function tests in the United States.   Fatty liver disease is also referred to as Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease or NAFLD.  NAFLD is associated with other diseases which influence fat metabolism, such as type 2 diabetes.

Why is fatty liver disease important?

NAFLD is a single disease seen in both alcoholics and non-alcoholics, especially in those who are overweight.  When a biopsy is taken of a fatty liver, features of liver injury and fat deposit in the liver may be seen.  These findings are of crucial importance as fat accumulation may cause progressive inflammation of the liver over time.  This is called steatohepatitis.  Unfortunately, NAFLD may progress to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is scarring of the liver, which may mean someone would later need ....

9 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

Amongst the cheer and merriment, parties and soirées, often come unwanted extra pounds that sneak their way around our waistlines. The span between Thanksgiving and New Years are filled with traditions and an extra average weight gain of 1-2 pounds. It may not sound like much, but consider over the course of a decade that can lead to an extra 10-20 pounds.  That extra luggage then leads to another tradition - the New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

Stop the insanity and start eating smart. Simple lifestyle changes will put an end to the cycle of overindulging, weight gain, and feeling miserable once the season is over. It is said the best offense is a good defense. By practicing these time-honored tips, you’ll likely feel fulfillment without getting overfilled.

1. Plan ahead.

If you know the party you are headed to will lack healthy options (hello, cookie exchange!) have a low-calorie, high protein snack prior to attending a party. This will keep your appetite in check and you will be less likely to arrive ravenous and overeat.  Hummus with vegetables, whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese, a piece of fruit with natural peanut butter, or Greek Yogurt with high fiber cereal are a few great choices to tide you over. Pair foods that are high in protein and rich in fiber to keep you satiated longer. At the party, keep to light appetizers.

2. Host a healthy holiday.

Control the nutritional content of the meal by throwing the party yourself. Plan the dinner menu with lean meats and seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, beans, and low-fat dairy. Use the opportunity to try healthy recipes from sites such as www.cooklinglight.com and www.eatingright.com (Ed. Note – check out our healthy recipe collection here or on Pinterest.) In lieu of a potluck, have party guests bring non-perishable foods to donate to the food bank.

3. Lighten up your menu.

Revamp your recipes by ...

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