Alcohol on New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION, HEART AND STROKE

Sorry, I don’t want to be such a spoilsports and dampen your holiday spirit. But studies have shown that a lot of accidents happens at certain time of the year, especially around the 4th of July in the US and during the holiday season. Here are the reasons why

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is all part of the New Year’s celebrations. And we all know that drinking and driving do not mix. According to Dr. Thomas J. Esposito, a trauma surgeon at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., as interviewed by the New York Times:

“Any degree of alcohol increases the chances your judgment or coordination can be impaired, whether on New Year’s Eve or any other day. Alcohol is associated with 50 percent of the injuries we see in the emergency rooms.”

However, it is not only the drivers who should pay attention to their blood alcohol levels. The NYT report continues to point out that pedestrians should take care as well. In fact, a study have shown that

“January 1 (New Year’s Day) has more pedestrian crash deaths on average, plus it has the fifth largest number of deaths per day overall, also due to alcohol impairment.”

The NYT report gives the following safety advice to inebriated pedestrians on New Year’s Day:

  • Stay and drink in one place. Avoid moving from one place to another.
  • Call a cab or get a ride with a “sober” driver.
  • Walk with a “sober” buddy.
  • Walk in a large group.
  • Wear lightly colored clothes to make you visible to drivers. Reflectors are especially useful.

Weather

If you are celebrating in the northern hemisphere, you know how the weather is at this time of the year. Even a sober driver can have problems with icy streets and snowstorms. For pedestrians, icy streets are fall hazards. Combined with alcohol, it can be fatal.

Now, if you are celebrating in the tropics or in the southern hemisphere, you have to deal with other climate hazards. In Australia, barbecue parties are very popular during the holidays but the risk of bush fires is rather high at this time of the year.

In addition, alcohol and heat can be a fatal combination that lead to drowning, heatstroke, as well medical conditions such as cardiovascular events.

Food

We eat more than we are supposed to at this time of the year. It is only expected that some adverse effects can come with it.

We’ve tackled this topic many times on this site so I don’t want to say much more. Too much fat, too much calories, and too much sugar can wreak havoc with our body. However, aside from these usual culprits, foodborne outbreaks caused by such nasty bugs like Salmonella and Campylobacter have been reported during celebrations with severe and sometimes fatal consequences.

In addition, a high incidence of food allergies also needs to be reckoned with at this time of the year.

Fireworks

In many countries, fireworks are part of the New Year’s celebrations. However, fireworks can be very dangerous if not handled correctly. Injuries due to fireworks are widely reported the world over, with the highest in the age group 5 to 14 years of age in India. Injuries were serious, even fatal. In the US,  a study released in 2006 reported the following:

“An estimated 85800 pediatric fireworks-related injuries were treated in US emergency departments during the 14-year study period. Injured children had a mean age of 10.8 years, and 77.9% were male. Fireworks users accounted for 49.5% of the injuries, whereas 22.2% of the injuries were to bystanders; however, user status could not be determined in 28.3% of cases. The overall fireworks-related injury rate decreased significantly during the study period, but subgroup analysis did not indicate consistent declines among all ages and types of fireworks. Injuries were most commonly caused by firecrackers (29.6%), sparklers/novelty devices (20.5%), and aerial devices (17.6%). The most commonly injured body sites were the eyeball (20.8%), face (20.0%), and hands (19.8%), and the most common injury type was burns (60.3%). Approximately 91.6% of all children with fireworks-related injuries were treated and released from hospital emergency departments, 5.3% were admitted, and 2.3% were transferred to another institution. Bystanders accounted for 13.3% of admitted cases and 20.6% of transferred cases.”


The Best Exercise for LOWER ABS: Part 3 of 5

December 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Exercise and Fitness Tips

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=LkZJ0GjOwr8%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

The Best Way to Exercise with Doug Jones www.TheBestWayToExercise.com Part 3 of 5. This one looks so simple, but pulling against the tight butt muscles is a pain the in abs. http has the smartest and speediest solution to strength, stamina, stretching, and sustenance. Don’t forget to watch all of the other health and fitness videos on my channel, including exercises for: butt, thighs, legs, calves, glutes, back, arms, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, forearms, delts, traps, and, of course, abs, abdominals, obliques, and your sexy 6pack six-pack. 🙂 Stand Firm with Doug Jones

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Appendectomy: laparoscopy is not always the best option

December 29, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

I had my appendix taken out laparoscopically in 1998. What was expected to be a simple operation caused me a lot of pain that persisted for a long, long time. Four years later, I had my thyroids taken and shared a room with a lady who, too, had laparoscopic appendectomy and had similar problems as I did.

The laparoscopic surgical technique became popular in the 1990s and is now the “gold standard” for simple procedures inside the body cavity such appendectomy. Here is how it works:

The abdomen in inflated with air, and a very small camera is inserted through a tiny incision. This enables the surgeon to control the tiny surgical instruments also inserted through tiny holes in the body cavity.

Compared to open surgery, laparoscopy is minimally invasive, causes less scarring and minimizes the risk of infection since the body cavity is less exposed to the air. The surgical wound heals fast and the patient is up and running in no time.

However, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) report that there are some patients wherein laparoscopy may actually not be the best option.

According to study author Dr. John Monson, head of the Division of Colorectal Surgery at URMC.

“Our study corroborates a common theme in medicine: one size does not fit all. While the data suggest that the laparoscopic approach is still best for most patients, it might not be best for all.”

A small number of laparoscopic patients suffer from what is called “deep infection” inside the body cavity and these patients take months to heal and get back on feet, incurring tremendous costs.

Monson continues to explain:

“We think it comes down to balance. It’s not just about how much a procedure exposes the body to potential infection – it’s also about how easily that procedure allows you to mitigate infection risk… Consider the open approach. Admittedly there’s more chance of exposure to microbes – the wound is wide open. But there’s also more opportunity to sterilize, since you can meticulously clean the operating space before closing it. [In laparoscopy], there’s less exposure to the outside environment, but there’s also less opportunity to disinfect the organ space.”

The researchers tried to identify the risk factors that make some patients suitable or unsuitable for having a laparoscopic procedure. They report that patients with a certain profile are more likely to suffer from deep infection than others. These “high-risk patients” are

  • Male
  • Of older age
  • Smoker
  • Diabetic

In this day and age of “personalized” medicine, doctors are advised to assessment their patients for suitability and risks for this seemingly simple procedure.


Stress-free holiday travel Part II: Flying with kids

December 28, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE, STRESS

My kids flew for the first time when they were 6 months old. We know many friends who travel around the world with little children. It can be tough and stressful but there are ways and means to lessen the stress. Here’s how.

Prepare the kids.

Discuss with the kids the length of the flight, the possible inconveniences, limitations, such as jet lag, cramped accommodations, etc. Discuss the itinerary and what they can do, see, try, eat or drink in the place of destination.

Choose a children-friendly airline.

We’ve flown with many different airlines during our travels but none did the kids like better than Emirates airlines. They spoil kids with a whole backpack of toys, books, drawing materials and even an in-flight kiddie magazine, and kiddie meal goodies. The entertainment program includes many age-appropriate films and TV series as well as video games. A few days before the trip, my kids came home from Christmas school crafts with 2 gift-wrapped presents labeled “for Emirates crew” (and not for Mommy or Granny anymore). Yes, definitely a well-satisfied clientele of the airline.

Clothes.

Clothes during the trip are of utmost importance. Rather than trying to make a fashion statement, go for comfort. For kids, sweatpants and leggings are the best. Avoid the hassles of buttons and zip that can break or get stuck. T-shirts are the ideal tops, with light zip up jackets to keep them warm. Airports and airplane can be drafty and cool from air conditioning. When going from a cold region to warmer climates (as we did), follow the onion principle – put on layers to clothes that one can easily peel off layer by layer depending on the temperatures. Shoes should also be comfortable. Don’t wear new shoes for the time on trips. Having blisters while travelling is not desirable. For kids, shoes that are easily to slip on and off are recommended. Shoelaces cost time and nerves. Go for Velcro sneakers instead. And finally, pack a set of spare clothes, not only for the kids but for you.

Airsickness.

One of our boys is prone to airsickness despite all the travels they have done. But we don’t let this small inconvenience deter us from enjoying our trips. I always have an airsickness bag in my handbag ready for use. The kid is also prepared for this contingency especially at take offs and landings. However, we always try to distract him and encourage him to nap during these times.

Toys etc.

We took the AirBus 380 from Dubai to Sydney non-stop for 15 hours, the longest flight we’ve have so far. This is tough on the kids. We always make our kids choose 2 to3 toys that they can carry, normally plush toys. However, mini-games and card games may also come handy. Some people bring portable DVD players for long flights. We don’t have this but our kids got a portable Nintendo for Christmas (in mid-flight) and this is now their main source of distraction.

Little babies

Lots of people travel with little babies. During the long flight on the A-380, I saw several moms letting their little babies have a “crawl around.” Luckily, this big plane has lots more space than the smaller models, even in the economy class.

I hope that these tips will help you to enjoy your trips with your children. Enjoy.


Summery Christmas down under

December 27, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER

Sun, sun, warm sun. We had a great time here down under on Christmas Day with 25°C temperatures. Lazing around on the beach or by pool. Hmmm, I haven’t done that in a while.

The sun is such a paradox. It is the source of life. It is the best source of the essential vitamin D. It is also the main cause of skin cancer, most especially melanoma. Once again, this is proof that too much of a good can be bad for your health.

So while the American Heart Association and other health groups are actively campaigning for people to get out and be active in the northern hemisphere freezing temperatures, Australian advocacy groups are campaigning for people to protect themselves from the sun through the SunSmart campaign.

Australia has among the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. According to the Cancer Council ACT of Australia:

  • More than 1850 Australians will die from skin cancer each year.
  • Two out of 3 Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.

Coming from the cold wintery north, we sometimes are unprepared for the intensity of the sun down south. The ACT gives us the “5 S’s”- SunSmart tips that will help us remember how to protect ourselves from the sun.

Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.

Slop on SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen. Always use in combination with the other sun protection measures. Reapply every 2 hours.

Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears.

Slide on some sunglasses. A close fitting, wrap-around style will offer best protection. Sunglasses should meet Australian

Seek shade whenever possible.

Still, there are conflicts of interests that can hamper the SunSmart campaign. The Australian province of Victoria is having problems with the many summer festivals currently ongoing. The festivals are very popular among the young people but for security reason, liquids are not allowed in the festival locations and are confiscated at entry points. Thus, sunscreens are confiscated.

SunSmart manager Sue Heward appeals to the festival organizers:

“We implore festival organisers to put in place a UV policy that ensures their patrons are supplied with sunscreen, whether it be at a number of different easy-to-access locations around the festival area, and/or roving sunscreen sellers or that there is an exception to the no liquids allowed policy allowing patrons to bring their own.”


Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on L

December 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Health Tips for Women

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=sEx2cbq8MTw%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on Lowering the Risk for Hip Fracture to Lead an Active and Healthy Lifestyle it’s the perfect time to talk about one of the leading – yet often overlooked – health risks associated with falls: hip fracture. Although one-in-three women will suffer a hip fracture by the age of 90, awareness and concern of the risks remains low and not enough women take the necessary steps to protect their hips. Most women have a love-hate relationship with their hips, but keeping them healthy is vital for a full, active life. Highly regarded women’s health expert, Donnica Moore, MD (“Dr. Donnica”), shares tips on how to keep hips healthy and how to reduce the chances of suffering a devastating hip fracture. She talks about the importance of a balanced diet and calcium and vitamin D supplements in keeping bones strong – as well as the role of physical activities and body strengthening exercises for preventing falls. Weight-bearing exercise – like walking, jogging, dancing or even gardening – can improve balance, coordination and muscle strength. Talent/Guest: Donnica L. Moore, MD Dr. Donnica is a physician, educator and media commentator – as well as a highly regarded women’s health expert and advocate. As the founder and president of DrDonnica.com, a popular women’s health information website, she is well-known for her engaging and entertaining style – which she refers to as “Medicine Lite.” Dr. Donnica is the “Doctor on Call

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Christmas greetings to our readers

December 25, 2010 by  
Filed under . ANNOUNCEMENTS

Merry Christmas, where ever you are!


The Best Exercise for LOWER ABS: Part 1 of 5

December 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Exercise and Fitness Tips

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=vvYwUA756fY%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

The Best Way to Exercise with Doug Jones www.TheBestWayToExercise.com A simple, yet effective, exercise for the lower abdominal muscles. Part 1 of 5. Please watch all of the other FREE abdominal clips on my channel or go to http for the smartest and speediest solution to strength, stamina, stretching, and sustenance. Stand Firm with Doug Jones

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Stress-free holiday travel Part I: The Preparation

December 23, 2010 by  
Filed under STRESS

Holiday season and traveling. For many people, it’s all about getting stranded or lost somewhere in the chaos. The story of little Kevin of the “Home Alone” series and the current problems in almost all major airports in the northern hemisphere is enough to make even the most seasoned traveler to say “No way will I be caught flying at time of the year.”

Normally we wouldn’t either. But this time it’s different. Family reasons require us to fly down under to New Zealand via Australia and spend the holidays there. For us, however, it is not a trip of duty but a great opportunity. We needed no second urging to say “Yes, we are coming!”.

So here we are, getting ready to fly on the 23rd of December.

Now, holiday travel can be pretty stressful and chaotic but if planned properly, it can actually be a pleasure. So here are some tips to take away the stress from holiday travel

Prepare way ahead.

Book tickets, car rentals and accommodations way ahead. Especially when you are going where it’s peak season. It’s summer holidays down under.

Prepare a checklist.

Over the years, we’ve used a checklist for traveling, starting from the packing to the last minute things like taking out the garbage and turning off all electronics. The checklist has been updated over the years, when nappies and sippie cups have been replaced by play cards and drawing materials.

Secure the documents.

There is nothing more important in travelling than having all the necessary documents. Here is list of important documents to pack:

  • Passports and visas
  • A paper copy of your ticket!
  • Health insurance cards
  • Vaccination records
  • Other relevant medical info
  • A paper copy of important phone numbers and addresses

Pack smartly. Pack way ahead.

If you are making several stops, then pack smartly. Before heading to NZ, we are stopping by for a couple of days in OZ. We have packed a special bag just for OZ. The rest of the luggage stays at the airport storage.

Order foreign currency way ahead.

Going to a foreign country? It’s best to order a small amount in the currency of your destination at your bank. Enough for a bus, train or taxi fare. This saves you the hassle upon arrival of finding a bank machine which hopefully will accept your card.

Opt for early/ web check in.

Avoid the long queues and the fight for good seats. Use web check in whenever possible. Upon booking several months back, we could already choose our seats online. We are only flying today but the luggage has been checked in last night. With our hand-carry back packs, we’ll be taking the bus or train to the airport tonight. No problems with traffic jams or parking.


Great tasting, zero alcohol, low calories: holiday cocktail recipes

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION, CANCER, HEART AND STROKE

Hey, wanna try some real cool cocktails this New Year without the day-after complaints and the lifetime risks? Well, that’s what we are bringing you with this post today – recipes for great tasting cocktails without the alcohol and the calories. Yuck! Mocktails, you might say. Well, let say, just give it a try. I sure did and loved it. What’s more, every can drink them – the kids, the pregnant, the alcoholics, the drivers. Perfect for family-friendly holiday gatherings where you can really drink to everyone’s health.

Here are some recipes, courtesy of the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the American Institute for Cancer Research:

Holiday Citrus Punch

The orange juice and cranberry juice in this recipe offer a healthy dose of cancer-fighting antioxidants like vitamin C. You’ll get the most vitamin C if you use freshly- squeezed orange juice, but refrigerated or frozen concentrate will also do the body good.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups 100% cranberry juice
  • 4 cups sparkling water or club soda
  • 1 orange, sliced horizontally into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 lime, sliced horizontally into 1/4-inch slices

Directions

In large punch bowl, combine juices and sparkling water or soda. Float orange and lime slices on top and serve.

Yield: 20 servings

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Each serving provides:

  • Calories: 33
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Saturated fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram
  • Dietary fiber: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 1 milligram

Sparkling Grape Party Punch

This recipe packs a hefty antioxidant punch. The grapes and grape juice provide a powerful dose of resveratrol — the same cancer-preventing antioxidant in red wine — with none of alcohol’s drawbacks. And, the orange juice and lemon juice in this recipe gives you a generous amount of vitamin C.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (46 oz.) 100% grape juice
  • 1 bottle (25 oz.) sparkling apple-grape juice
  • 4 to 6 cups sparkling spring water
  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups 100% orange juice
  • 2 to 4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 thin lemon slices
  • 4 thin orange slices
  • 2 cups frozen grapes

Directions

Make sure all beverages are cold. Pour grape juice, sparkling apple grape juice, sparkling spring water, orange juice and lemon juice into large punch bowl. Add ice, if desired.  Top with lemon slices, orange slices and grapes.

Yield: 16 servings

Serving size: 1/2 cup

Each serving provides:

  • Calories:91
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Saturated fat: 0 grams
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram
  • Dietary fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sodium: 10 milligrams

Family health history Part II: researching your “Ances-tree”

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under CANCER, HEALTHCARE

Okay, so now it’s clear that a family medical history is a useful tool for present and future generations to know and mitigate their health risks. But building such a tree is a daunting experience. Where and how do you start?

The tool

The first thing to decide is, in what form should the medical tree be? In this day and age, such an important record should be done in electronic form. Luckily, there is this tool called My Family Health Portrait available at the site of the US Dept of Health and Human Services. The tool is compatible with the electronic medical record system Health Vault. The tool allows you to

The research and data gathering

However, for the My Family Health Portrait to work, information input is needed. The MD Anderson Cancer Center gives us the following tips on how to gather data for the family medical history. Although these recommendations may be focused on cancer, the medical tree your will create will be actually applicable to almost all diseases with a genetic component.

The basic data

Find out your ancestry. Include the country or countries where you ancestors came from originally. Some ancestries, like Jews of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) descent, have a higher risk for certain cancers.

List blood relatives. Include your first (parents, siblings, children), second (nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents) and third (cousins, possibly great-aunts and -uncles) degree relatives. Add the current age of each or the age when they died.

Add cancer diagnoses, if any. Include the age when they were diagnosed with cancer, if you can find that out. List details, such as the part of the body where the cancer started and how the cancer was treated (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery).

Include any birth defects or genetic disorders that you learn about.

Finding out the details

Coming next: how to use info in the family medical tree


Caregivers deserve to have fun, too – here’s how

December 21, 2010 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S, Featured, HEALTHCARE

It is a sad fact but while people are partying and celebrating during the holiday season, some people are especially put under stress at this time of the year that can lead to burn out and depression. They are the caregivers. Especially affected are the caregivers of the terminal ill, the disabled and those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. And the sad thing is, most caregivers do not even realize the difficult condition they are in. They take it for granted that they have to perform their duty day in and day out. In the process, they are taken for granted.

According to radio talk show host Leeza Gibbons (source: USA Today):

“Most caregivers don’t even realize the kind of pressure they’re under. They often end up with life-limiting conditions as a result of the relentless stress.”

Gibbons experienced this first hand as she witnessed her mother slowly deteriorated with Alzheimer’s. Her family became dysfunctional as they watched their loved one slowly but surely fade away. But their sad story was what inspired them after their journey to set up Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and Leeza’s Place, a community gathering place that provides support for caregivers.

The magazine GRAND gives 8 tips for caregivers on how to make their holidays less stressful and even enjoyable. These tips were written by Dr. James Huysman, Executive Director of Leeza’s Place.

  1. Give yourself a wellness gift. Give yourself a health and wellness gift.  Get a checkup, an assessment for anxiety or depression, and/or a health screening. Find a therapist. Join a support group. Take care of your own personal health. It is the first step toward reducing the stress and strain of the season ahead.
  2. Ask for help and make sure you are open to accept it. Asking friends and families for help may be the hardest thing we face. As caregivers, we are way too quick to accept the role of hero, martyr or savior. Too often we have a “go it alone policy” and believe that we must take care of everything ourselves.
  3. Find a friend or make a friendship even richer.  Having a friend to provide conversation, support and assistance or for any holiday activity is a wonderful therapeutic approach to the holidays. Sometimes a friend is all we need: a safe sounding board so we can get some stress out. Sometimes a friend might even offer respite that can lift your spirits and make the season more enjoyable.
  4. Learn how not to take things personally. Sometimes when families get together we are “on our last nerve.” Make sure we realize that the people around us have their dramas and traumas too and their words, though hurtful, may have nothing to do with us. Sometimes the words may come from a person with stressful challenges of their own.
  5. Identify a supportive community of friends, families or spiritual gatherings. Many caregivers are concerned they are seen as a burden and are often reluctant to come out and be connected to the world around them. Sometimes they feel no one cares. By finding a community outside the family, caregivers know they exist in a community of loving people who want to help because they care.  
  6. Plan your family’s activities with thought throughout the season. Roles and responsibilities are extremely important to explain to all involved. Ongoing family conferences throughout the holidays help maintain the boundaries necessary to the caregiving process so that no one feels out of control or inadequate. This is vital and should be done in person and as frequently as needed. Holiday family conferences are like tune-ups used to maintain the family car. This car needs to drive well, efficiently and for a long time. Schedule these conversations regularly before the wheels fall off.
  7. Keep a gratitude list in a holiday journal filled with wonderful affirmations.  That is a mouthful for sure and no doubt as a caregiver you will take this item by item or as a personal project throughout the season. Any one of these exercises can shift your focus away from darkness and worry and help empower a caregiver to create a focus on gratefulness – and hopefully begin to see the large amount of abundance that there already is in being alive. This process will begin to inspire new avenues of thought throughout the holiday season.
  8. Find humor everywhere you go. “Laughter Is the Best Medicine.” This is an old expression popularized by Norman Cousin’s book “Anatomy of an Illness,” in which he describes his battle with cancer and how he “laughed” his way to recovery. Laughter is a great tension-releaser, pain reducer, breathing improver, and general elevator of moods. Humor is so very valuable and a great elixir to get us through difficult or stressful times. Try to see the humor in being a caregiver during the holiday season. Start now. “How do you tell a caregiver from anyone else? It is the person who jumps off a cliff and someone else’s life passes before their eyes. . .  Okay, not so funny. Make sure you find your own laughter to keep smiling in your own life. Your energy for others during the holiday season will only happen when you energize and empower your own life force today.

Being active this winter Part II: There’s more you can do!

December 21, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE, OBESITY

Hibernating in the winter time is natural. Animals do that all the time. I can understand why we tend to be very slow come winter, why our bed seems to be the coziest place in the world. The bears and the groundhogs would definitely understand. However, there is a big difference between hibernating animals and hibernating humans. The animals don’t eat much during their winter sleep. We do. Lots. The animals put on weight before the cold season in order to have enough reserve fat to last the winter. We put on lots of weight during the winter time, especially during the holiday season. And whatever fat we accumulate lasts for a long, long time. Thus, it is only right to say that we are doing it the wrong.

Today I am bringing you some more tips on how to stay active in the winter time. Okay, so maybe not as active as we are during the warm months. But we can still aim for that 30-minute physical exercise target without going to the gym. These tips from MD Anderson Cancer Center are quite simple and practical. Anybody can do it!

Shopping?

Hosting guests? 

Going to or having a party?

Traveling?

Use these tips to get your heart pumping on the road:

Surrounded by family?

You’re not the only one who needs exercise! Help your entire family exercise by teaming up to:

None of these work for you?

If you can’t work exercise into your holiday activities, try these tips:

Remember, some things can wait until after the holidays, but your health isn’t one of them.


Family Health History Part I: Why is it important?

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE

Many health problems have a genetic component to it. Yet, many of us never look back at our past for lessons for the future. Until health history repeats itself. Take me, for example. I was quite ill in 2001 and it took many different tests before I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease. My doctor then asked afterwards “Why didn’t you tell me you have a family history of thyroid problems?” I completely forgot that my mom had her thyroids taken when I was little girl. However, because of my diagnosis, it wasn’t a complete surprise when 5 years later, my niece and then 2 years later one of my nephews had similar problems.

Eight years ago, from out of the blue, without prior health problems, my father-in-law had to undergo an emergency triple heart bypass. That was when my husband learned that his grandmother and his uncle both died of heart attack.

Knowing our genealogy is important. But the family tree should also include data on health and medical. In other words, a family tree should also be a family health tree.

Last Thanksgiving, the US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin urged Americans to take the opportunity of family get-togethers to share the family health history with each family member

“While family health histories may seem old-fashioned, the truth is, the family health history is key to understanding your family’s unique genetic make-up and your individual disease risks.

Knowing your family health history can help you actually prevent disease, or detect diseases, such as many forms of cancer, for early treatment. The information your family health history contains can help you and your doctor determine your personal risk.  This means two things:  you can tailor your lifestyle to reduce your health risks; and you can be more carefully screened for diseases where your risk is high.

To make documentation of health history easier, the Surgeon General’s office has developed an online tool called My Family Health Portrait. The tool can help you record your health history electronically, making it easier to pass on the information to subsequent generations.

The Surgeon General believes that the older generations are an invaluable source of information when constructing a family health tree.

Says Dr. Benjamin:

“Older adults are more likely to know about the health conditions of previous generations. I like to think of the family health history as an heirloom that can help current and future generations live longer, healthier lives.”

Well, Christmas is another opportunity to start your family health tree or perhaps bring to completion what has been already started. The MD Anderson Cancer Center calls in creating a “health ances-tree”.

But why is a family health tree important?

Well, taking my family as example, my husband and I learned about some of our family’s health history when the same health problems occurred a generation later. His family history and my family history are now merged to become our children’s history. From what we have learned, we know what are the diseases our kids our genetically predisposed to. We cannot change our genes but we can change our lifestyle. By changing our lifestyle, we can reduce our risks and those of our children.

This holiday season, make a family health history your holiday project.

Coming next: how to build a family medical history.


Being active this winter Part I: No freeze mode for your health

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under HEART AND STROKE

This weather can turn even the most active among us into couch potatoes. Combine that with lots of holiday partying and by the end of winter, we are a few kilos more. I must confess, I, too have problems to drag myself outside and do my jogging run. Today’s weather is especially miserable: gray and wet, with dirty slushy snow all over the place. However, knowing now that health problems spike up during the winter time, especially during the holiday season, all the better reason for us not to put our health on freeze mode. I know that not all of us would dare to go running in the winter time but there are alternatives. Here are a few tips to get out and be active this holiday season:

Go visit the Christmas markets

Christmas markets are a very popular tradition in Europe. Little stalls selling Christmas crafts and goodies are usually set up in the middle of the town square. Enjoying the holiday atmosphere is a great incentive to get out of bed. Unfortunately, it can be very cold outside. Luckily, some great Christmas markets are housed indoors. In Zurich, most of the stalls are found inside the great hall at the main train station. The main attraction is a huge Christmas tree decorated from top to bottom with Swarovski crystals. Definitely worth the effort of getting out of the house.

Go ice skating and skiing

My kids love ice skating. Most skating rinks in Switzerland are outdoors. This is a great way to move and have some fun and fresh air. In the weekends, we venture further up to the skiing areas which could easily be reached by public transport.  I must confess that I can’t skate not ski. While my husband and the kids ski, I walk. Snow-walking is lovely. Give it a try!

Walking in the mall

Okay, so you can’t ski not skate and Christmas markets are closed down after Christmas. What about the rest of the winter season. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests doing some mall walking. Honestly, I am not the mall-walking type but this is a great alternative for those who can’t stand the cold. The best time to walk is early mornings before the shops open. This way, you’d be walking in a not-so-crowded mall, do window shopping without spending money.

Exergames

Winter time is Wii Fit time. AHA and Nintendo have joined forces to promote active video games or exergames to get people moving. And if you think Wii Fit is only for young people, think again. The “12 Days of Getting Active” is for everybody of all ages, the whole year round.


What’s the latest on the flu vaccine?

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Here are some updates on the flu vaccine.

NIAID Media Availability: A Flu Vaccine that Lasts
Why do we have to get the flu shot every year? Because each year, the strains of the influenza-causing virus are different and the vaccine manufacturers try their best to keep up with the rapidly evolving strains. However, this process of constantly producing new vaccines for the seasonal flu is costly and time-consuming, not to mention getting on the nerves of the public. But hopefully, this will change eventually. Scientists at teh National Institutes of Health (NIH) are looking into the possibility of making a universal influenza vaccine, a vaccine which would confer long-lasting immunity. Scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases believe this could be possible someday.
“Making such a universal influenza vaccine is feasible but licensing it may require innovation on several fronts, including finding new ways to evaluate the efficacy of vaccine candidates in clinical trials.”

Bacteria Seek to Topple the Egg as Top Flu Vaccine Tool
The process of vaccine is dependent upon chicken eggs. Fertilized eggs are used as live medium to grown the viruses. But this may about to change. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have developed a process of making flu vaccines grown entirely on bacteria – thus bypassing the egg completely. According to research leader Dr. John Treanor:

“There are a number of problems with using eggs to produce flu vaccine. It’s a very specialized product. It’s hard to make more eggs in a hurry – you only get them as fast as hens lay them. They’re not easy to manipulate, and it can be challenging to get the flu virus to grow within an egg. The flu vaccine system would be more flexible and reliable if we didn’t have to rely on them.”

This is also good news for those with egg allergies who may have problems tolerating the vaccine.

2009 H1N1 vaccine safe and induces robust immune response in people with asthma
People with asthma were among those who were seriously affected by the 2009 H1N1 flu. Researcher have analyzed clinical data of the effect of the H1N1 influenza vaccine on those who had asthma and reported the following findings:


Men’s Health Grooming Guide 2008.

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Health Tips for Men

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=h8buBOK5Xrk%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Get tips for grooming this year with the Men’s Health Grooming Pocket Guide.

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on L

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Health Tips for Women

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=iTg8O1N5Dhw%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

Get Hip to Hip Health Women’s Health Expert Shares Tips on Lowering the Risk for Hip Fracture to Lead an Active and Healthy Lifestyle it’s the perfect time to talk about one of the leading – yet often overlooked – health risks associated with falls: hip fracture. Although one-in-three women will suffer a hip fracture by the age of 90, awareness and concern of the risks remains low and not enough women take the necessary steps to protect their hips. Most women have a love-hate relationship with their hips, but keeping them healthy is vital for a full, active life. Highly regarded women’s health expert, Donnica Moore, MD (“Dr. Donnica”), shares tips on how to keep hips healthy and how to reduce the chances of suffering a devastating hip fracture. She talks about the importance of a balanced diet and calcium and vitamin D supplements in keeping bones strong – as well as the role of physical activities and body strengthening exercises for preventing falls. Weight-bearing exercise – like walking, jogging, dancing or even gardening – can improve balance, coordination and muscle strength. Talent/Guest: Donnica L. Moore, MD Dr. Donnica is a physician, educator and media commentator – as well as a highly regarded women’s health expert and advocate. As the founder and president of DrDonnica.com, a popular women’s health information website, she is well-known for her engaging and entertaining style – which she refers to as “Medicine Lite.” Dr. Donnica is the “Doctor on Call

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Fitness Tips & How to Use a Stability Ball : How to do a Reverse Crunch

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Exercise and Fitness Tips

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=dozduwM1q3k%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

How to properly do a reverse crunch exercise in thisfree exercise video. Expert: James Fitzgerald Contact: www.mvpfitness.us Bio: James Fitzgerald is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine & certified in Personal Training and Group Kickboxing through Fitness Instructor Training of Stafford, Texas. Filmmaker: Christian Munoz-Donoso

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!


Fitness – Abs Attack Exercise Routine 2

December 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Video: Exercise and Fitness Tips

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

youtube.com/watch?v=sDMRtkJCZMc%3Ff%3Dvideos%26app%3Dyoutube_gdata

For more free fitness videos, workout routines and diet and exercise plans visit Zuzana’s free fitness site: www.BodyRock.Tv

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.