The Holiday Emotional Experience: Research suggests that emotions experienced during the holiday season frequently include an increase in positive emotions such as happiness, love, and high spirits. This seems especially true for younger people (those under age 30) who are more likely to report a decrease in stress during the holidays.
By: Dr. William Sturrock
The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and many of us look forward to the festive foods and drink associated with this time of year. From sugar cookies to eggnog, we are all tempted by tasty traditional treats at home and at the workplace. Now we know about watching the sweets and rich desserts, but what about the beverages?
Well it turns out there is a long history of our ancestors partying during this time of year, going back to pre-Christian Europe with drinks like the ‘wassail’. This was a strong mulled cider (or in some areas, ale) consumed by groups of singers going from house to house. Sounds like a lot of fun, but I suspect they didn’t have to worry about getting a DUI or crashing the horse drawn sleigh (horses usually had better sense to avoid danger even if their driver was tipsy).
Which brings us to the subject of this post: What is safe and responsible alcohol consumption? First, lets state right off that for some people even one drink of alcohol is too much. Generally those who should not drink at all have found out the hard way, with previous alcohol-fueled injuries, legal entanglements, or worse. Serious and dangerous behaviors, to include fights, domestic and sexual abuse, vandalism and other crimes are much more likely to occur in the setting of excess alcohol consumption by individuals who might otherwise not cross these social boundaries. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that the cost of damage to health and property runs over $250 billion a year. To put this in perspective, this amounts to $1.90 for every drink consumed in the US and is over twice the annual budget of the Dept of Homeland Security!
So, how can we avoid the negative results of excess drinking? Surely a return to Prohibition is not the right answer (we already tried that, remember?). And besides, most of us have enjoyed the sense of relaxation that can lead to lively conversation and social engagement when alcohol is consumed in moderation. To understand moderation, let’s look its opposite: The CDC defines excessive or binge drinking at that which results in a blood alcohol level of over 0.08, which is when judgment may become impaired, coordination disrupted and reflexes slowed. Not to mention that damaging effects to the nervous system and liver are more likely to begin at this level.
Well, most of us don’t attend the office Christmas party with a breathalizer, so how would we know we might be approaching the danger zone? Metabolic studies show that this level is reached when most men consume more than 5 drinks and most women consume more than four (A drink is 1 oz of distilled liquor, 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine). Surveys report that while binge consumption is more common in young adults age 18-34, it is still a problem across the entire socioeconomic and age spectrum in the US. Interestingly it is also a problem in many northern European countries but is much less of a problem in the Mediterranean cultures of southern Europe. Some sociologist have attributed the higher prevalence of unhealthy drinking patterns to cultures that do not introduce teens and young adults to small amounts in family gatherings. A glass of wine with dinner is a part of the daily ritual of many homes in France, Italy and Greece. This is very different from the clandestine consumption by six-pack that many American (and British, German, Scandinavian) teens experience as their early experience with alcohol.
But the bottom line is that all of us who consume alcohol need to monitor our own consumption, just like we learn (hopefully) not to eat the entire birthday cake or bag of Halloween candy in one night. Not only does our physical and mental health depend on it, we will be less likely to say or do something at that office party that we will regret forever.
This Friday was another Fitness Friday on the TV-5 Morning Show. This week, Joy and Wayne were joined by Bangor Pilates’ Val Kitchen. Val will be our newest Fitness Friday guest for a while, teaching Joy and Wayne different Pilates and yoga stretches that you can try on your own at home. In this video, Val explains the history of Pilates and what it actually is, before getting into a quick and easy stretch you can try by yourself.
Erin Coltvet from the Eastern Agency on Aging was in the studio Wednesday for this week’s Senior Spotlight. This week Erin was speaking to Wayne about staying healthy during the holidays. She says the average adult gains 8 pounds between Halloween and New Year’s Day and gave some tips on how to cut back on that weight gain. She said if you are already exercising, adding as little as five or ten minutes to your program can do a lot, and if you are not currently exercising: there is never a better day than today.
TEENAGERS, CAFFEINE, AND SLEEP
By Dr. Pellegrini
I have covered this topic in the past but I thought it might be a good idea to revisit in light of the recent attention in the news paid toward caffeine. CBS News reported recently an increase in reports to poison control centers regarding caffeine exposure and overdose. There have even been reported deaths. I need to stress that caffeine is safe However, like any substance, ingesting massive quantities of it can lead to serious consequences. I will first cover the effects that caffeine has on the body but I think it may be more important this time to discuss the implications of our children using caffeine.
In his last feature on Fitness Friday, Josiah Hartley of LA Training in Bangor taught Joy and Wayne the proper form and technique to do wall sits. Wall sits are simple and easy to learn, but you can certainly feel the work their doing to your core and legs.
In this week’s Senior Spotlight, Dr. Ian Dickey, orthopedic surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center, sat down with Wayne Harvey to talk about the hospital’s new technology that will revolutionize knee implants. As Dr. Dickey explains, with the use of 3-D printers, the hospital is now able to design custom-made implants that will fit the patients receiving them perfectly, as opposed to the hospital’s old way of trying to fit a patient into a size 1-12 scale.
GIVING THANKS WITHOUT REGRET
By: Amy Movius MD
Next week is thanksgiving, officially starting the holiday season that won’t end until 2015. Holidays are mostly wonderful – a time to focus on family and friends and appreciate what we have. They can also be a time of considerable stress and a tendency for excess. Many people gain permanent unhealthy weight this time of year, and it starts with the Thanksgiving feast. Having a plan for enjoying yourself without later regret can only make the holidays better. Below are some strategies for embracing the season – starting with thanksgiving – in moderation.
Increasing physical activity in the weeks before the holidays (now!) can keep the calories burning as can incorporating activity into the festivities. Taking a Thanksgiving family walk or other outing can be part of the tradition.
Eating breakfast on thanksgiving morning is incredibly important. While there can be a tendency to want to “save it” for later, it’s much more likely that you will go uncomfortably overboard at dinner with a too-empty stomach.
There is so much sugar and fat in many traditional thanksgiving dishes that you can trim down these ingredients (and calories) without noticing the difference in flavor. Aside from cutting down on the amount of sugar and fat used in recipes, opting for fat/sugar free ingredients – such as fat free broth – when available can reduce the caloric content without changing the taste.
Portion control is always a challenge with a sumptuous table spread before you. Eating mostly the really special stuff over “regular food” is one way to do this. Choosing white turkey meat, simple vegetables (instead of rich casseroles), roasted sweet potatoes (instead of marshmallow ones) mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are all going to be on the healthier side of traditional thanksgiving fare. However, there’s no need to deny yourself favorites dishes if you limit the amount. Skipping seconds is obviously a good idea too.
Limiting your alcohol consumption can have a huge impact on calories. While some of it relates to the empty calories alcohol contains, the more important effect is that excessive alcohol will discourage any physical activity and may also diminish your resolve to eat moderately.
The holiday season is meant to be enjoyed, not to feel deprived. Instead of trying to lose weight, focus on maintaining your weight and activity through the New Year. That way you are more likely to have many more happy and healthy seasons to come!
Dr. Crisostomo Rodrigo Baliog Jr. was in the studio Wednesday for this week’s Senior Spotlight. This week, Dr. Baliog spoke with Joy about rheumatoid arthritis and how to look out for it. He noted that, unlike what most people believe, rheumatoid arthritis can be a threat to more than just the elderly, and it’s important to know how to treat it if you find yourself facing it.
By: Dr. David Prescott – Acadia Hospital
Recently, five workplaces in Maine were recognized by the Maine Psychological Association as having psychologically healthy work environments. These organizations included for profit and not-for-profit, manufacturing and human service agencies, and both large and small employers. As is increasingly true for businesses around Maine and around the country, these employers realize that paying attention to the psychological health of their workplace fosters employee health and well being, as well as enhancing organizational performance and productivity.
Josiah Hartley from LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This week he was giving Wayne and Joy pointers on the proper form and technique to do lunges, a strong core workout that can be done at any time when you have a few seconds to spare.
Flu Shot? Do Your Patriotic Duty!
Autumn . . . the daylight fades into growing darkness. The first frost kills the summer flowers and the leaves begin to fall. It’s easy to understand how our forbears throughout the Northern Hemisphere associated this season with decay and death. Today’s Halloween festivities with children going door-to-door dressed as ghouls and goblins has its cultural roots in the sense of fear and dread that our ancestors had for the coming winter. And for good reason: for most animal species winter is a trying time that separates those able to survive from the weak, infirm, and aged. The same is still true for modern humans. However, we do have a number of advantages over those who lived in these climates before us. It’s not just the warmer clothes, drier homes and larger stores of food that make the survival difference. Rather, it is our complex social networks together with an evolution of technology that these networks foster, which form our decisive advantage over winter’s threat. We have the modern miracle of roads that get plowed and salted after every storm, hospitals that stay open 24-7 to care for the sick or injured, and the reliable delivery of heating fuel right up our very driveway to keep the cold at bay.
Dr. William A. Sturrock
Lost in this week’s disturbing news stories about Ebola and terrorist attacks was an incident that can cause parents with school-aged children more sleepless nights than just about anything. At Marysville High School in Washington State, a freshman, who was seen as popular in his peer group, took out a handgun in the lunchroom and opened fire. Within minutes, five classmates were shot at close range, killing one and leaving three in critical condition with head wounds. When one brave teacher attempted to stop him from reloading, he then took his own life.
Compounding the mystery surrounding the shooter’s motive and mental state is the fact that all of his victims were well-known to him with two being his cousins. Our hearts go out to the families of all involved as we struggle to find some lesson from this tragedy. Certainly by 2014 in America we should have some understanding of how we can prevent similar occurrences in our own communities, and with our own children.
However, when I went to the blogosphere, I quickly learned that the issue of preventing gun violence is as controversial as race relations, contraception and taxes. On one side of course is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which has considerable clout as a lobbying force to our elected leadership. On the other side is the unlikely foe of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). I don’t tend to think of bow-tie wearing doctors specializing in the conditions of children as a particularly unruly group of partisans, but there it is.
Being someone who likes to understand more than one side of an issue and to look for areas of common ground in any debate, I felt I had an obligation to try to find consensus on this subject. Besides, as a native rural New Englander who had hunted and fished as a boy, and later had served his country as a battalion surgeon for six years in the Army, I felt I could be a neutral referee and at least gleam a few morsels of wisdom from the positions of both sides.
First, I reviewed the AAP’s argument that in homes where guns are locked there are 73% fewer accidental injuries due to gun shots. They go on to state that every year 20 thousand people under age 25 are injured by gun violence, and that we have an obligation to decrease this number just the same as we would try to prevent any accident.
Now let’s look at the other side on the NRA website. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the fire-arm accidental death rate has already fallen 94% from its height in 1904, to a rate of just 0.2 per 100, 000 and that this death rate is behind most other causes, such as motor vehicle accidents, poisoning, falls, drowning, fires, etc.
Well, putting on the referee hat, I can see that so far it is a draw because the AAP is talking about injuries and the NRA is discussing death rates and you really can’t judge the validity of these dueling statistics. So how about looking at the advice each group offers to parents. This time I will let the NRA go first: “Store guns so that they are not accessible to children . . . while specific security measures may vary, a parent must, in every case, assess the exposure of the fire-arm and absolutely ensure that it is inaccessible to a child” – taken directly from the Eddie Eagle GunSafe NRA site.
Well, that seems pretty level-headed advice. Now let’s look at the AAP recommendations. It’s true that they are advocating for better legislation to regulate the access to assault rifles, ammunition, and handguns in general. I realize this will never be acceptable to the NRA. However, take a look at their advice to parents: “If you choose to keep a gun at home, store it unloaded in a locked place. Lock and store the ammunition in a separate place”. Now that doesn’t seem too different from the Eddie Eagle advice. Not to say that this could be the grand compromise that will allow these protagonists to come together and share a group hug, but perhaps they can put aside their statistics and soap-box rhetoric and just agree on this basic advice. It may not have made a difference in Marysville, but if all parents everywhere strive to do their best to follow the basic advice – adults need to be responsible to make sure their children do not have unsupervised access to loaded guns – then some parent somewhere might be saved from the nightmare of rushing down to their local school after another gun incident and not having a child to hug.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was on the interview set for this week’s Fitness Friday, speaking to Wayne about the benefits of regular exercise. Josiah says working out releases endorphins into the brain that allow for a big stress relief, better sleep, and that general “good” feeling you get after a solid workout.
The Ebola Virus has been a hot topic of discussion in our country for weeks to months. I would like to start my contribution to the topic with what Ebola IS NOT.
Dave Gauvin, President of the Penobscot Valley Ski Club was in the studio Thursday talking to Joy about the Annual Ski Sale coming up on Saturday, October 18th. The sale runs from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the Bangor Parks & Rec building, at 647 Main St.
SHOULD I ASK MY DOCTOR FOR AN ANTIBIOTIC FOR AN UPPER RESPIRATORY ILLNESS?
By Dr. Pellegrini
The vast majority of upper respiratory illnesses are “colds” which are viral infections that are self-limiting. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, doctors still sometimes prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory viral infections. There are several reasons for this. One: it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a viral infection and a bacterial infection. A clinician will ask several questions about how the patient feels and then may add on some lab work or x-rays in order to differentiate between a viral and a bacterial infection. If there is still uncertainty and the patient has been ill for longer than expected, a clinician may try an antibiotic to see if it helps (if it does, then it was a bacterial infection). Second: sometimes a viral infection can cause enough immune weakening that a secondary bacterial infection then occurs. In that case an antibiotic will help. Third: a patient may request an antibiotic and the clinician is too busy to argue. This last point is important. A recent JAMA (1) article was a study of healthcare professionals and their tendency to prescribe antibiotics increased as the day went on. The theory is that they had the time and energy in the morning to have a detailed discussion with the patient about why an antibiotic was not needed but then had less time/energy as the day progressed. Doctors know that patients rarely get upset if an antibiotic is prescribed but they sometimes do get upset when one is not given. The problem is that antibiotics can cause problems such as rashes, diarrhea, resistance, nausea, etc. Therefore, it is best if the patient does not go to the doctor to get antibiotics but rather go to the doctor to see if anything else needs to be done. I would offer this same advice for sinusitis, ear infections, and “flu” symptoms. The best thing a patient can do is be very detailed about the symptoms and timing and other questions that the doctor will ask.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This time, he was showing Joy and Wayne how to climb mountains indoors with the “mountain climbers” exercise.
National Depression Screening Day – Thursday, October 9, 2014
Dr. David Prescott – Acadia Hospital
Why Should I take the Depression Screening? Major Depression is more than just feeling upset or down for a brief period of time. Depression is a significant health problem that affects 1 in 10 people in the United States at any given moment in time. Worldwide, depression is predicted to become the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020.
Dr. Heidi Harrington from Bangor Plastic and Hand Surgery was in the studio Thursday speaking to Wayne about the upcoming Pink Runway Project event at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The event takes place Saturday, October 18th starting at 6:30 PM, and is truly a one-of-a-kind spectacle which supports breast cancer awareness.