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Calcium plays an important role in building and maintaining strong bones. It is also important to the health of your heart, muscles and nerves. Children who do not get enough calcium may not reach their full potential height as adults. Adolescent girls in particular are at increased risk if their diet is too low in calcium. Adults over the age of 50 who do not consume sufficient calcium are at risk for low bone mass – a risk factor for osteoporosis.

Because our bodies do not produce calcium, it must be obtained through foods or suppilements, including:

 

  • Dairy products - cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables - broccoli, spinach, kale, etc.
  • Fish with edible soft bones, such as sardines and canned salmon
  • Calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as soy products, cereal and fruit juices, and milk substitutes

Should You Take Calcium Supplements?

A balanced diet is the best way to get calcium, however, calcium supplements are an option for individuals who are not able to consume enough calcium though diet alone.

To absorb calcium, your body also needs vitamin D. A few foods naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as canned salmon with bones and egg yolks.

Various studies suggest that calcium, along with other nutrients such as vitamin D, could have additional health benefits such as protecting against certain types of cancer, preventing diabetes and lowering high blood pressure. These studies are ongoing and are not conclusive at this time.

Before deciding to take calcium or other dietary supplements, it's important to understand how much calcium you need. Calcium supplements come in different forms, each having advantages and disadvantages.

We recommend talking with your doctor before adding calcium supplements to your diet.

 

As the new school year fast approaches parents are busy scheduling doctor visits for physicals and vaccinations. Along with the back to school doctor's visit, there ways you can help your child at home to make the transition back to school as productive and stress-free as possible.

Backpacks

If your child wears a backpack to school, make sure they use both straps to evenly distribute the weight across the body. We recommend that kids carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their backpacks.

Bedtime Routines

To prepare for the school schedule gradually change the child's bedtime to get to sleep earlier and schedule wake-up time to allow for plenty of time to eat and get ready without feeling rushed. DOn't allow children to use phones or tablets close to bedtime.

Food Allergies

If your child has food allergies, coordinate with your school to ensure the menu is safe, or arrange to pack your child's lunch.

Breakfast

A healthy breakfast is not just important for overall health, studies show it also improves classroom performance.

Regular Exercise

Ensure that your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.

 

Sunday, 17 July 2016 22:46

Tips For Heading Off Migraines

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Migraines often cause intense throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It's usually accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. An attack can last for hours or even days, causing debilitating pain. Early warning symptoms known as aura may occur before or during a headache. You may experience flashes of light, blind spots, or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg.

The Mayo Clinic offers these steps to head off migraine pain.

Find a Calm Environment

  1. Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
  2. Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
  3. Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin.

Sleep

Migraines are often triggered by a poor night's sleep. Here are some tips to encourage sound sleep.

  1. Establish regular sleep hours. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day — even on weekends. If you nap during the day, keep it short. Naps longer than 20 to 30 minutes may interfere with nighttime sleep.
  2. Unwind at the end of the day. Anything that helps you relax can promote better sleep: listen to soothing music, soak in a warm bath or read a favorite book.
  3. Watch what you eat and drink before bedtime. Intense exercise, heavy meals, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can interfere with sleep.
  4. Minimize distractions. Save your bedroom for sleep and intimacy. Don't watch television or take work materials to bed. Close your bedroom door. Use a fan to muffle distracting noises.
  5. Don't try to sleep. The harder you try to sleep, the more awake you'll feel. If you can't fall asleep, read or do another quiet activity until you become drowsy.
  6. Check your medications. Medications that contain caffeine or other stimulants — including some medications to treat migraines — may interfere with sleep.

Eat Wisely

Your eating habits can influence your migraines. Consider the basics:

  1. Be consistent. Eat at about the same time every day.
  2. Don't skip meals. Fasting increases the risk of migraines.
  3. Keep a food journal. Keeping track of the foods you eat and when you experience migraines can help identify potential food triggers.
  4. Avoid foods that trigger migraines. If you suspect that a certain food — such as aged cheese, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol — is triggering your migraines, eliminate it from your diet to see what happens.

Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. Talk to your doctor about different migraine treatment options if you can't find relief. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, may help.

In Minnesota we sometimes joke that the mosquito is the state bird. While the number of mosquitoes actually capable of causing infection in humans is fairly small, it is important to take preventive steps to protect you and your family from potentially serious diseases. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention today, it is not a threat in the northern part of the U.S. The two most serious mosquito-born diseases found in Minnesota are West Nile virus and La Crosse Encephalitis

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is found in all lower 48 states and was first discovered in Minnesota in 2002. It remains a public health threat because the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. Thankfully, most bites by infected mosquitoes result in no symptoms or only mild illness.

The typical incubation period for West Nile is 2-6 days, although it can be as long as 15 days. West Nile fever symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever (usually greater than 102°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Backache
  • Joint pain
  • Prominent muscle aches and weakness
  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Rash (more commonly associated with West Nile fever than encephalitis)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

La Crosse Encephalitis

Like West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is a virus. Most people infected with this virus will have either no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. A small percentage of people (especially children) may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Most of the severe cases start with headache, fever, nausea, and lethargy. The illness may rapidly progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the illness other than supportive care until the illness is over.


The Minnesota Department of Health Offers These Prevention Tips

  1. Because mosquitos can breed in only a small amount of water, check your yard to ensure there are no containers like old buckets, tires, kid's pools or other containers that can collect water. Remove the containers or turn them upside down.
  2. The riskiest time of year for mosquitos in Minnesota is mid-summer through early fall as disease-carrying mosquitoes are more common at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes.
  3. Wear mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%).
  4. Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age.
  5. Apply repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear. Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  6. Other alternatives are available, including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  7. Only use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  8. Wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants. Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations.


For more information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

With the arrival of spring many households will be putting away winter clothes, cleaning out the clutter in closets, washing windows and getting ready for warm weather. Just like your refrigerator, your medicine cabinet should also be cleaned out regularly.

Old medications kept in home medicine cabinets can easily fall into the wrong hands. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, more than 4 in 10 teens who have misused or abused prescription drugs found them in a home medicine cabinet.

When opioid painkillers, such as Percocet, are prescribed about half of patients leave unused pills in their home. This creates easy access to opioids and contributes to the drug overdose crisis that is set to surpass motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of injury and death.

What To Do With Unused Medications

First, check the label and follow any disposal instructions on the label or information pamphlet that came with the medicine. Never flush medicines down the drain unless the label instructs you to do so.

If there are no instructions for disposal, look for programs in your community that take unused drugs for proper disposal. Some local law enforcement and health agencies sponsor medicine take-back programs. Your city or county government are a good place to check for medication disposal options and guidelines in your area.

For more information on safely disposing of prescription drugs, visit the FDA's consumer information website.

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes, less commonly called adult-onset diabetes, makes up about 95 percent of all diabetes cases. While more common in middle age and older adults, it can also occur during childhood. Being overweight and inactive are the main risk factors for developing diabetes, but there are many other risk factors, including:

  • Being 45 or older
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American
  • Having blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having a history of cardiovascular disease

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not make or use insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to process glucose for energy. When there is too much glucose in your blood it can lead to serious health problems affecting your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. Because a person can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it, it's important to recognize the often subtle onset of one or more of the following symptoms and see your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst, especially at night
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss without reducing caloric intake.
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores that are slow to heal

Have questions about diabetes? Talk with your doctor. They can help access your risk and perform blood tests to determine if you have diabetes or are at increased risk. 

Public health officials strongly encourage immunizing children on a schedule, starting at birth with a hepatitis B vaccine. A child who is not immunized is at risk for serious many diseases, and may also be putting the community at risk. 

A vaccination contains killed or weakened disease germs that are delivered into the body, usually by injection. The immune system reacts to the disease, just as if it were exposed to a disease, providing effective immunity. Immunizations are given to prevent the following diseases:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) - related Cancers
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Mumps
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

What are the Risks of Vaccines?

As with any medication, even aspirin, side effects can happen with vaccines. When a child does have a reaction to a vaccine, the side-effects are likely to be minor and include a sore leg, a slight rash, or a mild fever that goes away in a day or two. Some children have more serious reactions like a high fever and chills. Thankfully, serious reactions are extremely rare. One of the most serious – a life-threatening allergic reaction to a substance in a vaccine – occurs only about once in every million vaccine doses.

The long-standing vaccine safety system in the U.S. ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. Because of this system the United States now has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history.

Safety monitoring begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who ensures the safety, effectiveness, and availability of vaccines for the United States. Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for use by the public, results of studies on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are made to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines.

Have questions or concerns about vaccinations? Talk with your physician, they can help ensure your child's vaccinations are up-to-date and address any concerns you may have.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 14:25

Treating Lower Back Pain

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There are many causes of lower back pain, they include:

  • An injury from impact or repetitive motion that strains or sprains the soft muscle tissue to 
  • Fractures and compression of the joints in the spine
  • A herniated disc that puts pressure on the spinal nerves
  • Osteoarthritis caused by aging, injury, and obesity
  • In rare cases, a bacterial infection or spinal tumors

Usually, lower back pain will subside with regular activity such as walking and treatment with over the counter pain medications.

Regular exercise, especially walking, can be effective at preventing back pain by strengthening muscles, maintaining healthy weight and improving blood circulation.

Exercises like core stabilization can strengthen the muscles in your trunk, improving your posture while keeping your body in better balance, lowering your chance of injury.

Each of the various treatments for back pain work for some people but not for others. You may need to try different things to see which work best for you. If your back pain is a result of trauma, is debilitating, or persists for more than a week, see your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the specific cause and recommend exercises to help your back get stronger.

Published every 5 years by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for public health professionals, the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans reflects the current body of nutrition science. The recommendations help Americans make healthy dietary choices and help shape nutrition policies and programs like school lunches and food benefits for mothers and children.

Sugar and Salt

The biggest changes are that cholesterol counting is not as important, while there is now a recommended limit on added sugar, which should make up no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. In keeping with the last guidelines issued in 2010, the government still advises people to eat less than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat and less than 2,300 mg of sodium (salt) every day.

In addition to providing a cap on added sugar, the guidelines also include a chart of where Americans get most of their added sugars. The  term "sugar-sweetened beverages" is broken down into easily identifiable terms like soft drinks, sports and energy drinks and sweetened "fruit drinks."

Saturated fat

The committee’s report contained specific warnings to reduce red meat and processed meat consumption. Lower intakes of meats, including processed meats; processed poultry; sugar-sweetened foods, particularly beverages; and refined grains have often been identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns.

For more information on the government's new 2015 dietary guidelines, visit http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

During the holiday season when we are surrounded by delicious treats and meals with friends, family and co-workers it's easy to over indulge and add on extra pounds. So what's the problem with putting on some extra weight over the holidays when you can take it off in the new year? According to the National Institutes of Health, the pounds most Americans put on over the Holidays are not so easily taken off and actually accumulate year over year, contributing the obesity.

The best strategy is to avoid putting on the extra pounds in the first place. Here are some tips for keeping the calories under control.

1. Watch the portions. The good news is that you should be able to can the food you want, the key is how much you consume.

2. Don't go to holiday gatherings hungry. Having a nutritious and fulfilling snack ahead of time will make it easier to resist over eating and control your portions.

3. Drink water instead of high calorie drinks. Those holiday cocktails don't just contain lots of calories themselves, they can also stimulate your appetite and make you lose track of how much you have eaten.

4. Offer healthy snacks. If you're contributing to the holiday menu consider offering healthy alternatives like fruits and vegetables and low calorie dips.

5. Focus on the real meaning of the season. The reality is most holiday gatherings are centered around food. By focusing your attention on friends and family, you can take pleasure in good conversation.

 

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