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HealthyChoices

Adolescents Who Harm Themselves

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry defines self-injury among adolescents as, “Self-injury is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue, at times to change a way of feeling.” Self-injury is seen differently by groups and cultures within society. This appears to have become more popular lately, especially among adolescents. The causes and severity of self-injury can vary and can be very complex. Some examples of self-injury include:

Don't Be Afraid of Your Food

“I’m afraid my food was grown in poor soil and doesn’t have the right nutrition.” “What if my food has been contaminated by pesticides?” “Will I get cancer from my food?” “Did someone irradiate my food?” “Do I need to avoid a certain types of food?”

These are questions heard by nutritionists every day from concerned people – who are misinformed. The misinformation comes from multiple sources: who have a “safer” product to sell, who have a “back to nature” agenda, who have done their research on fear-mongering web-sites. And some – also as fearful – are “helping” to spread “the truth” about the “dangerous” condition of food. The truth is – in general – food in the United States is safe.

Traveling Health

Traveler's Health

Doctor Bob folded up his stethoscope and put it in his pocket. “Is there anything else I should know, Ken?” He stood at the counter, entering his findings of the yearly physical for this retiree.

"No, don’t think so.” Ken buttoned his shirt. “Marie’s home packing. We’re going to the Caribbean for two weeks.” Ken smiled at the thought. “Some friends are arranging the trip. Marie likes to pack early.”

"Oh?” Doctor Bob looked up, suddenly interested. “Do you know where you are going?”

“The itinerary’s not totally arranged yet,” Ken said absently, adjusting his belt.

“And what have you and Marie done about your health on this trip? What preparations have you made?”

“What do you mean?” Ken looked up quizzically. “We’re just going to the Caribbean.”

A Mother's Diet Changes Baby's Genes

Pregnant woman holding an Apple

A healthful diet during pregnancy results in a healthy baby.  This is common sense and universally known to be true.  But research has discovered that a woman’s diet at the time of conception can permanently impact the genetic code of her baby.  

The genes of the baby are forever changed by mom’s diet before and during pregnancy.  Mother’s diet has direct implications for health outcomes of the next generation. 

Contrary to common sense, the mothers with a lower protein diet and the least weight gain during pregnancy had the most favorable genetic pattern in their children.  So, mother’s diet not only contributes to healthy growth of the unborn child, but it permanently affects the genetic make of her child for his or her entire life.

So What?

Sample Health Tournament

In our last blog post we learned the most critical stage of “filtering the firehose” of health information: knowing what health info you can trust.

However, that can still leave us with a LOT of solid health advice. The firehose is still spewing more than we can drink, so we ask our second filter question: So What?

This question is focused on personal relevance. Even if you’ve found information from a trusted source…so what? How is it relevant to your life?
The key to answering So What?...is knowing your health goals.

Health Goals Tournament

Here’s a tip from the book The On-Purpose Person to prioritize your health goals. Run a tournament; a health goals tournament.

They All Have Side Effects

Bottle of pills

Look at the folded paper, stapled to the professional white pharmacy bag, which instructs you on how to use the drug you just received. Or look at one of several websites which discusses various drugs or herbals that you might be taking. In either of these sources, did you notice, in addition to the “mechanism of action” and “how to use” sections, the “serious side effects” section? Every drug listed in the United States Pharmacopeia has side effects. And so do all the herbal medicines.

Testosterone -- the New Male Miracle Medicine

man's bicep

A casual perusal of night time television, the sports channels, or the masculine adventure channels will reveal a plethora of ads for testosterone therapy for men who think they have low “T” (testosterone). While twenty-five percent of the males over age 45 have lower than normal testosterone levels, only a small segment of these males have any symptoms of low testosterone which include: decreased libido, depression, osteoporosis, decreased energy.

In fact, most of the time these symptoms can be attributed to other poor health entities such as high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, poor peripheral circulation, overweight, or lack of exercise.

Statins and Grace

Guilty eggs

Statins are an important class of medications for lowering blood cholesterol levels. Statins can help unblock arteries and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The first line of treatment for high cholesterol is dietary. Eating fewer dairy products, eggs, and red meat will often dramatically lower cholesterol levels. Statins can be added if diet alone doesn’t reduce blood cholesterol of normal levels.

A recent study showed that people needing statins for cholesterol do just the opposite of what is recommended. Researchers examined diet changes and statin use in 27,886 US adults, 20 years or older over a period of 10 years. 

New Guidelines for Old

Patient focus

Late in 2013 new guidelines were published for health care professionals to manage people at risk of cardiac or vascular (stroke) disease. The guidelines were written because the old guidelines did not 1) address the risk of stroke, 2) consider younger patients with risk factors but normal cholesterol numbers, and 3) make recommendations in the area of lifestyle and obesity concerns. The old guidelines focused on cholesterol numbers. The new guidelines focus on the patient.

The guidelines written by the American Academy of Cardiology and the American Heart Association address four specific areas:

The Truth About Caffeine

Coffee beans

The information available on caffeine these days is very confusing. Some sources advocate caffeine drinks as “energy” drinks. Some recommend caffeinated drinks but suggest avoiding the “additives” in caffeinated drinks – sugar, fat, vitamins, and amino acids. Others claim that caffeine is addictive with nasty side-effects. Others condemn caffeine in all forms and for all purposes. What’s the truth about caffeine?

First fact: Caffeine is not an “energy” producer! True energy comes from a source of calories which can be burned by the body. Caffeine does not produce energy.