Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health Tips for February 28

Eat Bananas
People whose diets are rich in potassium may be less prone to high blood pressure. Besides reducing sodium and taking other heart-healthy steps, eat potassium-packed picks such as bananas, cantaloupe, and oranges.

Love Lavender
To ease stress and prepare for bed, soak in a hot bath spiked with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Play soothing music while you bathe to unwind further.

Keep Capsaicin Cream on Hand
For sore muscles and joints, apply a cream or ointment that contains capsaicin, the active ingredient in chile peppers, two or three times a day. The heat from the peppers has been shown to help relieve pain.

Get a Massage
Certain trigger points -- spots of tension in musculoskeletal tissue -- can cause back pain. Ask a massage therapist or other bodyworker who specializes in myofascial release or neuromuscular therapy to focus on these points during a massage.

Go for Garlic
Adding raw or lightly cooked garlic and onions to your meals may help keep you healthy this winter. Both foods appear to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties and are believed to boost immunity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Health Tips for February 27

Sniff Rosemary
According to some research, catching a whiff of this aromatic herb may increase alertness and improve memory. To stay sharp, try smelling fresh rosemary or inhaling the scent of rosemary essential oil before a test or meeting.

Embrace Bitters
Combat a yen for sugar by following a Chinese medicine approach: Eat foods such as endive, radicchio, cooked greens, and olives.

Fish for Dry Eyes?
If you suffer from dry eyes, up your seafood intake. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, which the body uses to produce tears, among other things. Research suggests that people who consume higher amounts of these fats are less likely to have dry eyes.

Pop a Probiotic
To keep yeast infections at bay, head for the vitamin aisle. Supplementing with "good" bacteria (for example, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium) may help restore the balance the of bacteria living in the female genital tract and inhibit the growth of yeast in women with recurrent infections. Foods such as naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, as well as yogurt with active cultures, also contain these bacteria.

Benefit From Bilberry
Studies are mixed, but some have found that bilberry, a relative of the blueberry, may improve night vision. During World War II, fighter pilots reported better night vision after eating bilberry jam. Take 25 to 50 milligrams of bilberry extract; expect best results within the first few hours.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Health Tips for February 26

Oolong Tea for Eczema
Research suggests that people with mild eczema who drink oolong tea three times a day may show improvement in itching and other symptoms. Compounds in the tea called polyphenols appear to be responsible.

Herbal Treatment for Varicose Veins
For varicose veins, try horse chestnut, an herbal extract that's been shown in studies to strengthen veins and reduce swelling. The herb is also available in topical creams, though there's not as much evidence for these.

Tame Tension Headaches
Tame tension headaches by rubbing peppermint oil, Tiger Balm, or white flower oil into your temples. All three remedies contain menthol, which has analgesic properties.

Ginger for Congestion
The volatile oils in ginger have long made it a useful herbal remedy for nasal and chest congestion. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over a 1-inch piece of peeled, grated ginger; steep for 10 minutes; and strain. Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to the water and drink as needed.

Get a Good Pair of Sneakers
Is your energy lagging? Though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you're tired, exercise -- even a brisk walk -- can be more effective than a nap or cup of coffee at fighting fatigue.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mediterranean Diet's Benefits Confirmed

The Mediterranean diet has long been touted as healthy. Now a study released Monday of the effects of a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, vegetables, fruits and fish confirms that.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the diet can reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases by 30 percent.

Such a diet may seem like common sense, but researchers say the findings are significant because of the study's size and scientific rigor. It followed more than 7,400 people at risk of heart disease for nearly five years and measured the effects of the Mediterranean diet against a group that was assigned a low-fat diet.

"This study backs up what we thought we knew with science, and the results were pretty dramatic," said Dr. Rita Redberg, a UCSF cardiologist specializing in heart disease in women. "If this were a pill, people would be clamoring for it."

Redberg, who was not involved with the study, said one of the diet's main benefits is that it's not only heart-healthy, but it also promotes a way of eating that people can follow for a lifetime rather than just a few months. "This is a diet that's pretty doable, particularly for people living in Northern California, where we certainly have access to plenty of fruits and vegetables and grains," she said.

High-risk group

The study, which was conducted in Spain, involved people between 55 and 80 who did not have heart disease but were at risk of developing cardiovascular problems because of various factors, such as being overweight, smoking, having a family history of the disease, or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Participants were assigned to one of three groups. People in two of the groups were required to follow a Mediterranean diet - in other words, meals rich in vegetables, fruit, fish and legumes. Those in the Mediterranean diet groups were instructed to add at least 4 tablespoons a day of extra-virgin olive oil to their daily diet. Those in the other group supplemented their meals with a combined ounce of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts each day.

Participants in the control group, which was being compared against the groups eating the Mediterranean diet, were encouraged to lower their fat intake by eating lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Midway through the study, its authors said, they intervened to offer more specific guidance about what the participants should eat and how to prepare their foods.

Clear results

The results were so clear that the study was ended early. The two groups assigned to the Mediterranean diet had fairly similar results, with 3.4 percent of the group that ate extra nuts suffering major cardiovascular problems, compared with 3.8 percent in the olive-oil group.

Meanwhile, 4.4 percent of participants in the control group had major cardiovascular problems. Reduced stroke risk, rather than lower heart attack risk, accounted for most of the difference between the Mediterranean groups and the low-fat group.

While the findings were heralded by many in the health care community, not everyone was impressed.

Dr. Dean Ornish, UCSF professor and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, criticized the study, contending that the control group was not monitored carefully enough and wasn't assigned a truly low-fat diet.

"A Mediterranean diet is a healthier diet than what most people are eating," Ornish said. "The problem is they claim (the study) was comparing it to a low-fat diet, and it wasn't."

Ornish said the American Heart Association recommends a diet with fewer than 30 percent of calories coming from fat, but the control group's levels edged closer to 40 percent. Ornish, who promotes his own heart-healthy diet, urges people trying to reverse the effects of heart disease to cut that figure to as low as 10 percent.

Easy to follow

Dr. Cesar Molina, co-founder of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, said the study promotes a diet that people can easily follow.

"You just have two fists of cooked vegetables per day; one fist - or the size of a tennis ball - serving of fruit each day," he said. He advised people to make olive oil their primary choice of dietary oil and have about 12 nuts daily - preferably walnuts, because they are a source of the healthful omega-3 fatty acid.

The study noted that some authors had financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain, as well as the California Walnut Commission.

Dennis Balint, chief executive officer of the California Walnut Commission, said walnut growers represented by his group provided a daily half-ounce of walnuts to the group that supplemented the Mediterranean diet with nuts.

Balint said he was surprised by the magnitude of the study's results, but not that the diet with nuts proved healthful. "Every nut has its strong suit. Our strong suit is the fact that walnuts have plant-based omega-3," he said.


To read the New England Journal of Medicine study, visit:

Health Tips for February 25

Eat Healthy
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Eat a balanced diet to help keep a healthy weight.
Be Active
Physical activity helps to:
  • Maintain weight
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer
  • Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability
  • Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls
  • Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety
Protect Yourself and Your Family
  • Wear helmets, seat belts, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Wash hands to stop the spread of germs.
  • Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s, or (second hand), smoke.
  • Build safe and healthy relationships with family and friends.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Gather emergency supplies. Make a plan. Be informed.
Manage Stress
  • Balance work, home, and play.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Stay positive.
  • Take time to relax.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Make sure kids get more, based on their age.
  • Get help or counseling if needed.
Get Check-Ups

  • Ask your doctor or nurse how you can lower your risk for health problems.
  • Find out what exams, tests, and shots you need and when to get them.
  • See your doctor or nurse for regular check-ups and as often as directed. Get seen if you feel sick, have pain, notice changes, or have problems with medicine.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Health Tips for February 24

Did you know that you can get more oxygen if you breathe out through pursed lips? Try when walking.

Have a Healthy Sex Life?
For a healthy sex life, treat your partner as lovingly in the kitchen as you do in the bedroom.

Sugar and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Avoid sugar in your diet. Sugar causes inflammation and will make your arthritis worse.

Aging Gracefully
Getting older does not mean avoiding exercise. Be safe, but stretch, walk, and use your muscles!

Trying to Conceive?
Only take medications that your OB/GYN recommends.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Health Tips for February 23

Heart Fact
Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood to the body.

Living with Dialysis
Home dialysis can greatly improve the quality of your life. Ask your kidney center about training.

Hair and Skin Care
To maintain healthy skin and hair, don't wash too often! This can strip protective oils.

Preventing Cancer
While cancer can be caused by many things, you can improve your health and minimize risk of cancer by not smoking, having a healthy diet, watching calorie intact, most things in moderation, avoid and learn to manage stress, and stay hydrated.

Diabetes Care

  • Learn all you can about proper diabetic nutrition.
  • Try to avoid being uncontrolled. An A1c less than 6.5 is optimal and achievable if you put in the work. Even with medication, an A1c greater than 7 for prolonged periods will ultimately cause debilitating problems.
  • Take your medicines.
  • Get your labs done every 3-4 months.
  • Get your annual eye and feet exams.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Tips for February 22

Acne Treatment
Give any new or change in treatment a good 6 weeks or so, before you decide if it worked or not.

Fibromyalgia Fact
A majority of fibromyalgia patients also have sleep apnea.

Eye Health and Diabetes
At least yearly dilated eye exams are recommended for diabetic patients.

Exercise and CHF
Proper exercise can strengthen your heart and reduce your CHF symptoms.

Tanning and Beauty
Wear a big hat and sunscreen for beauty. Tanning is not the way to become more beautiful. UVA rays cause wrinkling and the dark color. UVB rays cause skin thickening and cancer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Health Tips for February 21

Dental Health
The average American spends about 38 days brushing teeth over his or her lifetime.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Reduce flairs with a bowel regimen. Your goal should be two soft bowel movements daily.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Less than four percent of all arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis.

After they reach the age of 70, men are more likely to experience low bone mass and fractures.

If you lose your cool with your kid, take time to apologize. "I'm sorry" is extremely powerful!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What to Keep in a First Aid Kit

A Proper Container
Your first aid kit should be portable and easily accessible. A small plastic tackle box or art supply box makes a good first aid kit, or you can use something as simple as a resealable freezer bag.

Where to Store Your First Aid Kit
Keep your home first aid kit in a central location so that it will be accessible during emergencies. Remember to keep it out of reach of small children. It's a good idea to maintain two different first aid kits: one for the home, and another for the car. Some practical places to store first aid kits include:

  • bathroom or kitchen cabinet
  • car (glove compartment is most accessible)
  • workshop
  • garage

The Most Important Item for a Car First Aid Kit
Your car first aid kit must have a cellular phone. There is no better tool in the event of an emergency.

Cellular phones must have enough battery power to turn the phone on, but you don't need a current contract with a service provider to call 9-1-1: federal law mandates that cell phones must be able to reach 9-1-1 anytime the number is dialed, regardless of the service agreement. So take your old cell phone that you don't use anymore and put it in your first aid kit for emergencies. If you don't have an old cell phone, you can find one via various programs that unite old, unused cell phones with people who need them for emergencies.

Items for Your First Aid Kit

  • first aid manual
  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • tweezers
  • splint
  • alcohol wipes
  • antiseptic wipes
  • antiseptic hand cleanser
  • medical adhesive tape
  • sterile gauze (four inch squares are best)
  • elastic bandages
  • thermometer
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • several sizes of adhesive bandages
  • insect bite swabs
  • triple antibiotic ointment
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • safety pins
  • calamine lotion
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • bandage scissors
  • triangular bandages
  • instant cold packs
  • exam gloves
  • barrier device for CPR
  • list of emergency phone numbers and important family medical info
  • blanket (stored nearby)

After You've Stocked Your First Aid Kits

  • Read the entire first aid manual so you'll understand how to use the contents of your kits. (If your kids are old enough to understand, review the manual with them.)
  • Check the kits regularly. Replace missing items or medicines that may have expired.
  • Check the flashlight batteries to make sure they work.
  • If you're flying, be sure to pack the first aid kit in your checked luggage. Many of the items won't be permitted in your carry-on bags.

Health Tips for February 20

Trying to Conceive?
Avoid all alcohol/drug use when trying to conceive, in case you do get pregnant.

Living with Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
Avoid "cured meats." They contain nitrates and nitrites which can make your PVD much worse.

Want Healthy Kidneys?
Your kidney's job is to filter your blood. Drinking enough pure water will help them function better.

Depression can be caused by undiagnosed thyroid disease. Make sure your MD checks you for it.

Healthy Cooking Tip
Boil or poach your eggs to preserve the nutritional content of the fats and vitamins within them.