Exercise for brain health

brainThe wellness blog in the New York Times had an article about brain health that has strengthened my resolve to exercise every day.

Walk, Jog or Dance: It’s All Good For the Aging Brain

It turns out that regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and even gardening may substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

The author is referring to a recently published study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study looked at 10 years’ worth of lifestyle data, including exercise levels, on 900 men and women over the age of 65. Over the course of those 10 years, the … Continue reading

Prevent sports-related eye injuries

eye safetyIt’s spring and sporting equipment is coming out of the closets!

That’s why April is designated Sports Eye Safety Month.

If you and/or your kids play a sport that involves fast-moving balls, frisbees or sticks, the American Academy of Ophthamology (AAO) wants you to take steps to prevent eye injuries.

Every year, more than 42,000 people are seen in ERs with sports-related eye injuries, and 13,500 suffer some degree of blindness as a result.

Common sports eye injuries include corneal abrasions, lacerations and bleeding in the eye. Basketball players tend to get poked in the eye with fingers. Tennis and

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Harken Health – Betting on primary care

I just read about health insurance giant UnitedHealth’s bold but risky new insurance plan, Harken Health:

UnitedHealthcare is betting $65 million that it can profit by making primary care more attractive.

With little fanfare, the nation’s largest health insurer launched an independent subsidiary in January that offers unlimited free doctor visits and 24/7 access by phone. Every member gets a personal health coach to nudge them toward their goals, such as losing weight or exercising more. Mental health counseling is also provided, as are yoga, cooking and acupuncture classes.

At this time, Harken Health is only available in Chicago … Continue reading

Sunshine for health!

sunshine03Just in time for spring and summer fun in the sun, the results of a large and long-term study on the hazards of avoiding the sun were published last week in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Usually all we hear about are the bad things about too much sun exposure—skin cancer, melanoma, wrinkles, sunburns, etc.

But this study out of Sweden, which followed 30,000 women for 20 years, found:

Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over

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Spring break and the Zika virus

Just in time for spring breaks across the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has posted the following fact sheets on its Zika Virus homepage:

Most of the tips concentrate on avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito bites by using recommended insect repellents and bed nets, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants, or clothing treated with permethrin.

Related post: Be informed – Bug repellents

It’s believed the Zika virus causes the really tragic birth defect microcephaly, so pregnant women or women planning on becoming pregnant need to … Continue reading

Blueberries for brain health

blueberriesFor years I’ve heard that blueberries are good for brain health. Which is great, because I love blueberries and try to work them into my diet several times a week.

So I was happy to read the results of some new research that supports the connection between blueberries and the human brain.

Most blueberry studies to date have been performed on animals, but two recent studies—funded in part by the National Institute on Aging and the blueberry industry—used human subjects.

One study used adults over the age of 68. Half ate the equivalent of 1 cup of blueberries daily for … Continue reading

Michael Pollan – “Cooked”

cookedIf you have Netflix, I highly recommend watching Michael Pollan’s new series, Cooked.

Based on his book of the same name, Cooked, in typical Pollan style, shows us a fresher, healthier, and more enjoyable way to eat. He focuses not only on the nutritional value of foods, but also the culture of preparing and sharing meals.

The series is divided into four parts: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each episode features mouth-watering meals from a variety of countries and cultures.

Pollan also offers theories as to how America’s diet and food culture got so completely messed up.

Related post:
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Screening eye exams in older adults

Just yesterday I posted about the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the fine line they walk between providing evidence-based recommendations for screening tests and making medical specialist groups happy.

Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

The task force recently gave an “I” grade to vision screening in patients over 65. An I grade, or Insufficient evidence, means that the task force can’t definitively say that the benefits of vision screening in older adults outweigh the possible harms.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) doesn’t agree.

Specifically, the task force reviewed the evidence for primary care doctors screening for … Continue reading

Use hydrogen peroxide contact solutions with care

peroxiclearI wear contact lenses. Several years ago, when my eyes began to be more dry and easily irritated, my ophthalmologist recommended using the new 3% hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning solution.

The preservatives used in many eye drops and contact lens solutions can be irritating, especially if used over time. Hydrogen peroxide solutions don’t contain these preservatives.

Related post: The eyes have it

I was interested in getting rid of my red eyes, but the thought of using hydrogen peroxide on my eyeballs scared me. I had to have a lot of faith in the science that the little piece of platinum … Continue reading

How much sugar is in that beverage?

Ever since watching That Sugar Film, I’m trying to be more aware of how much sugar I eat or drink every day.

Because there is more and more evidence that too much sugar is bad for us, we all need to be more aware of what we’re eating and drinking.

I think we need to be especially careful with beverages. The trend is to sell larger and larger cup sizes (a Double Gulp is a whopping 55 ounces!) and bottle sizes, so we are probably drinking way more sugar than we are eating it.

The Centers for Disease Continue reading

The HPV vaccine is working

This week the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that shows since the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was introduced in 2006, HPV infections

have dropped by 64% among females aged 14 to 19 years and by 34% among those aged 20 to 24 years.

That’s great news. HPV is responsible for most forms of cervical cancer, as well as an increasing number of rectal and oral cancers.

Related post: HPV and cancer

But we can do better.

The American Cancer Society reports that only about 40% of girls and 21% of boys have received the recommended 3 doses … Continue reading

Protect yourself from food poisoning

Cases of food poisoning, or food-borne illnesses, have been on the rise.

A lot of media attention was on the restaurant chain Chipotle recently because of an outbreak of the potentially deadly bacteria E. coli.

But it seems there is always a story in the news about contaminated foods, food recalls and outbreaks of the most common culprits of food poisoning: E. coli, salmonella, listeria and hepatitis A.

As the health news website Medscape reports:

Contaminated-food recalls in 2015 were on pace to exceed those from 2014, with bacteria discovered in everything from ice cream to spinach. Companies in

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New adult vaccination guidelines

The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have just released an updated vaccination schedule for adults.

I’ve included the schedule and accompanying information from the CDC’s website at the end of this post.

You can also print it out to take to your primary care provider.

Related post: Adults need vaccinations, too!

It’s color coded to make it easier to follow the recommendations, and I think it’s an improvement over last year’s chart.

A yellow row/column means the vaccine is recommended for everybody in that age group; purple indicates the vaccine is for … Continue reading

HPV and cancer

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.

Following the recommended guidelines for Pap smears is a good way to find and treat cervical cancer early, when it’s basically curable.

A Pap smear is one of the few screening tests for which there is good evidence that it’s effective, plus it’s relatively cheap and painless.

The American Cancer Society, The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend the following:

  • No screening before age 21.
  • Screening every 3 years between ages 21-29 with Pap smear only, no HPV testing. (The rate of
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First aid for choking

I read a post by a pediatrician last week that gave her opinion that while our government is throwing a lot of money at new nutritional guidelines in an attempt to “fight” childhood obesity, it’s ignoring another food-related danger: choking.

Childhood aspiration (or choking) on food is a major public health issue. Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 kids visit emergency rooms each year in the U.S. alone, after having suffered a food-choking accident. Hundreds die each year, either in the hospital or before they make it in the door. Most of these kids are under the age of 5, and

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