Healthy Living

Healthy Living: HFCS; The Controversy and Common Sense

Updated 4 years ago

Corrections regarding statements about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS): The controversy and common sense.By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniLast month I discussed HFCS in this segment. I have been doing this segment since 2000 and have never received any mail commenting on my segment. However, this segment generated two well-written letters from experts in Massachusetts and New Jersey. They wanted to point out a few wrong statements that I made and also wanted to point out that HFCS is safe and no different than any other sugar. It also seems there was some confusion that I may have implied that HFCS is there reason we are having such an obesity epidemic. I agree with the experts on most points. I stated that HFCS is sweeter than table sugar and this is wrong. I also stated that that HFCS has only been around since the 1990’s and this is also wrong. It became much more popular then but it has been around since the 1960’s.It is quite interesting to me how much controversy this segment generated. I was unaware of the controversy surrounding HFCS until friends of mine pointed out to me there are TV commercials that try to convince the consumer that HFCS is the same as any other sugar. A quick search of the medical literature with the term “fructose” reveals that there is some scientific excitement regarding this molecule. One of the main problems with studying nutrition is that there is little funding available. Pharmaceutical companies only pay for research that will generate a new drug and therefore have a potential for profit. The NIH and USDA have limited funds for nutrition research (probably less than 5% of that spent on cancer and heart disease. I have no study to quote here except a quick Google search.). Much of the “nutrition” research that is being funded is looking at supplements and vitamins, not at true nutrition. Another problem with many of the studies is that the study participants are given an unrealistic diet and therefore the conclusions are not translatable to the real world.There are plenty of studies to show that HFCS is no different than any other sugar. However, there are also several studies showing the opposite. Why did the study that I mentioned come to the conclusion that HFCS is worse for you? One of the main problems with that study is that the participants were fed an unrealistic diet of pure fructose. This is quite different than HFCS. Because of the differences in study design, percentage and form of fructose, etc, it is quite difficult to make any certain conclusions from the available literature.Here are some points that are not controversial:1) Americans consume too much simple carbohydrates (sugars).2) Sugared drinks are a major problem .3) Many foods that you buy in the grocery store have sugar, honey, HFCS, or other sugars hidden in them.4) Fructose is absorbed and metabolized differently than glucose.5) A quick look at food labels will reveal the ubiquity of hidden sugars.6) The obesity epidemic is very complex. There is no one issue to blame and there is no one simple solution.When I chose to cover HFCS, I chose this topic as one of several that I’ve done over the years focusing on various aspects of our diet and goals towards healthy living. Although I made some minor incorrect statements, I stand by my original conclusions: HFCS is controversial and it may or may not be different than other sugars. However, limiting sugars and HFCS is just one small part of the overall program of healthy living. By no means should HFCS shoulder all the blame for America’s obesity epidemic.

Read more on Healthy Living: HFCS; The Controversy and Common Sense…


Healthy Living

Updated 4 years ago

Early Recognition of Mental Health ProblemsBy- Dr. David PrescottEarly Recognition a Key to Effective Mental Health Treatment: In mental health treatment, as with all of health care, early recognition and treatment is increasingly seen as critical to reducing the suffering associated with psychiatric disorders. The logic is simple enough. The earlier you detect a problem and do something to fix it, the less that problem will impact your life. But, while that logic makes sense to most of us, knowing exactly what to look for may be a little more difficult. When Do You Cross the Line to Needing Professional Attention? Obviously, this is a difficult question and the answer varies from person to person. Two questions that I like to ask in helping someone decide include: 1. Is this bothering you to the point where you want more support or would like it to have less of an influence on your life? 2. Has this problem started to interfere with your life and the things you used to be able to do? That is, are you now unable to accomplish things that you used to accomplish because of the problem? Here are some early warning signs of common mental health and addiction problems. As with any health problem, if you are in doubt, talk to a psychologist, mental health professional, or your family doctor. Early Signs of Depression: Most people know that depression involves recurrent sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy. It is common to have these feelings for a couple of days every now and then. Signs that the depression may be more serious include: • 2 consecutive weeks of feeling sad or hopeless. • In teenagers and some adults, rather than feeling depressed, feeling mostly irritable or short tempered. • Missing school, work, or significant family events because you feel too sad or don’t have the motivation that you used to have. Early Signs of Schizophrenia or Psychotic Illnesses: The onset of schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by disorganization in thinking, excessive suspiciousness or paranoia, or in some cases hallucinations, is typically in the late teens or early twenties. However, warning signs are often present long before the formal onset. These include: • Withdrawal from friends or family • Difficulty concentrating, confusion, jumbled thinking • Suspiciousness, fearfulness or mistrust of others • Changes in the way things look or sound, seeing or hearing things that aren’t there • Odd thinking or behavior: feeling odd, like something is wrongEarly Signs of Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The hallmark of each of these problems is debilitating anxiety that leads to avoidance of people and activities. Early signs of anxiety disorders include: • Repeated episodes of panic (feel like you can’t breathe, like you may be about to die, short of breath). Single episodes of panic are somewhat common and may not indicate a disorder. • Avoiding important activities (school, work) or situations (going to the store) because of anxiety or fear of an anxiety attack. • Losing more and more time to activities designed to reduce or cope with anxiety (spending time alone, engaging in checking things or doing things over that you have already done). Early Signs of Drug or Alcohol Dependence: Often, drug or alcohol dependence start off as recreational drinking or drug use. Early signs of drug and alcohol abuse or dependence include: • Frequent episodes of binge drinking (4 or more drinks for women, 5 or more for men)• Missing school or work due to drug or alcohol use or feeling hungover. • Spend increasing amounts of time using substances or with people that drink/use drugs with you. How do I seek help? Seeing a qualified mental health professional, like a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, or licensed social worker is a good start. Help may include counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know a mental health professional, your primary care doctor is often able to make a recommendation. For More Help: Acadia Hospital www.acadiahospital.orgIn Maine Dial 2-1-1 for agencies that provide counseling.

Read more on Healthy Living…


Healthy Living: Winter Storm Preparedness

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Amy MoviusWe are on the threshold of a major winter storm, one accompanied by frigid temperatures. Many people (hopefully most) will be hunkering down and riding the storm out at home. Essential workers and others will have to venture out. Everyone needs to be prepared to stay safe from hypothermia and frostbite. It is recommended that people stay off the roads if possible during a major winter storm. However, it is still important to be prepared for the possibility of power loss at home. The following lists necessities for such an event:1. Have a back up heat source such as a wood stove or generator.2. Emergency supplies to have on hand include extra blankets, flashlight, matches, first aid kit, manual can opener, show shovel and rock salt.3. Drinking water, nonperishable food, and medication to last a few days are essential.4. Dress in several layers and wrap in blankets to conserve heat.5. If you are worried your environment isn’t warm enough, go elsewhere (friends, neighbors, shelter) until your home is safe again.People who must venture out in their cars need to be especially careful. Anyone involved in a car accident or breakdown can be very susceptible to hypothermia/frostbite. If you must drive, first and foremost, go slowly and let someone know where you are going and what route you are taking. In addition, follow the guidelines below.1. Be sure your vehicle is in good working condition for storm driving. 2. Have emergency gear with you at all times. This includes a cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter (for tire traction if needed), ice scraper, small shovel, blankets, warning devices such as flares.3. Extra warm clothing and hand warmers in your emergency supplies may also be useful.4. If you are taking a longer trip bring some drinking water, food, and any medication as well.5. IF YOU GET STUCK ON THE ROAD, place a flare in front and in back of your vehicle. While awaiting rescue, stay inside with a window slightly open for air circulation. Also, wrap yourself in blankets and run the heater for a few minutes each hour.Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature is abnormally low. It can happen to anyone though some people are more susceptible to it than others. The poor, elderly, those with substance abuse problems, and children are groups particularly at risk. Hypothermia can happen suddenly or more gradually, and is affected by how cold it is, how long a person is exposed to the cold, and each person’s general health. Hypothermia can kill. The first sign is often some confusion or sleepiness which might not be obvious. Slow/slurred speech can follow as well as excessive shivering or NO shivering at all. Hypothermic people will have slow and clumsy body movements. If you think someone is hypothermic, seek medical attention immediately. If this isn’t possible, move them to a warmer location, wrap them in blankets or lie close to them. Do not rub someone with frostbite or hypothermia – this will cause more damage.

Read more on Healthy Living: Winter Storm Preparedness…


Healthy Living: Hospitalization

Updated 4 years ago

Improved Communication = Improved CareBy- Dr. Jonathan WoodBeing admitted to the hospital is can be scary and traumatic… for the patient and for the patient’s family.Being critically ill, needing invasive procedures or having a hospitalized child all accentuate these feelings The medical lingo is difficult to understand, the issues discussed often carry great importance, and there are often unanswered questions. What’s more, caretakers often seem to be overworked or in a hurry. And then money is invariably an issue: missed work, inadequate insurance, childcare needs, day-to-day living away from home, etc. More stress.In the end, many people report a sense of “loss of control”. What can be done?Arrgghhhh!While I cannot offer a fix for the sometimes beleaguered state of modern medicine, I will suggest one central thing that can help with all the above: improved communication. And much of it is within your control.Some suggestions:• Ask questionso Who are you? Insist that people introduce themselves and explain their role in your care. Where do they fit in the lists above?o Why are we doing this? Insist on understanding why tests are being done and what is going to happen with the information.o May I speak with my doctor? Ideally there is one doctor orchestrating all of your care. Ideally there is excellent communication between doctors and amongst all the participants in the care team. Insist on a team and a good leader.• Learn the system (i.e. who are all these people?)Hospitals depend upon a complex system of personnel that is often very confusing and very difficult to understand. Examples:o Primary Care docs (e.g. Internist, Family Practitioner, Pediatrician)o Inpatient Specialists (e.g. Hospitalist, Intensivist)o Specialists (e.g. Surgeon, Psychiatrist, OB-Gyn)o Sub-Specialists (e.g. Cardiologist, Neurologist, Orthopedic surgeon)o Midlevel Providers (e.g. Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant)o Nurses (e.g. bedside nurse, charge nurse)o Ancillary Personnel (e.g. Respiratory Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nutritionists, Social Workers, Care Managers)o Trainees (e.g. residents, nursing students, medical students)• Tell your caretakers your worries – don’t be afraid to tell people what concerns you or what would make you more comfortable. Nothing is off limits!• Leave your biases at homeo Believe in the system – Much of believing is understanding. Work to understand the system (see above) and increased confidence will follow. o Don’t worry about offending – Doctors are people – – you can talk to them like you talk to anyone. Sometimes people feel intimidated, but it is important to move beyond this. Be yourself. Remember: you are the consumer. Be polite and expect the same in return.o Gender – The days of female nurses and male doctors are long over. Do not make assumptions based on gender and treat all your caretakers with respect. Insist on the same in return.o Teaching Hospitals – Much of the best care in the US is delivered in teaching hospitals. No one is experimenting on you. On the contrary, these are often very concerned, very smart, and often less busy students or residents who can be very helpful in you quest for quality healthcare. Take advantage of the opportunity!o Culture Differences – Maine attracts caregivers from all cultures. These people are invariably well trained and very caring. Treat them with respect and expect the same in reverse. If accents are difficult to understand, be frank, polite, and patient.• Know what is expected of you and your family when you are dischargedo Ask questionso Get to know your “care manager” or “discharge planner”o Be sure you understand your medications and doses (including changes from when your arrived)o Have instructions repeated as many times as it take to understando Know who you need to see after leaving and where and when.While these suggestions won’t make being hospitalized fun, they may take some of the unnecessary fear and anxiety out of the process. In the end, remember… communication is the key!

Read more on Healthy Living: Hospitalization…


Healthy Living

Updated 4 years ago

TV5 Health Advisor Dr. Amy Movius spoke to Carolyn Callahan about the dangers of non powder guns such as pellet of bb guns.


Healthy Living: HFCS

Updated 4 years ago

What is High Fructose Corn Syrup and why is it bad for you?By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniHealthy Living at WABI has in the past covered the dangers of drinking soft drinks because of the hidden sugars and extra calories. However, is it as simple as just extra calories from sugar or is the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used as the sweetener that is particularly harmful?First, let me define what the different sugars are: sucrose is our usual table sugar and comes from cane or beet sugar. This is a two-sugar molecule with one glucose and one fructose bonded together. The sugar in our body is glucose. Dextrose is the same as glucose. Fructose is the sugar found in fruit. Fructose has a low glycemic index, which means that it takes a long time for the body to break down, resulting in a slow release of sugar, rather than a sudden rush. For this reason, it is sometimes recommended for diabetics. High fructose corn syrup comes from corn and is a mix of glucose and fructose but with higher percentage of fructose. The sugars in HFCS are single and not bonded together. Regular corn syrup is all glucose.HFCS is less expensive to make and also preserves foods and soft drinks longer than glucose can. It tastes sweeter and has properties than add to food texture. Because of this, food manufacturers prefer HFCS. It did not exist until 1996. All non-diet soft drinks are sweetened with HFCS.All sugars have the same caloric content but the effect on metabolism and hormones may be different. A recent study attempted to look how our bodies may differently metabolize some sugars:Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Peter J. Havel, professor of nutrition at the University of California Davis and lead author of the study randomly assigned 32 overweight or obese men and women to drink three daily servings (25 percent of their daily energy requirements) of a glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverage for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, both groups had gained similar amounts of weight, but those consuming fructose-sweetened drinks showed an increase in intra-abdominal fat, the kind that embeds itself between tissues in organs, became less sensitive to insulin (the hormone released by the pancreas that controls blood sugar), and showed signs of dyslipidemia-elevated blood levels of lipids. The fructose group also showed increased fat production in the liver, elevated LDL or bad cholesterol and larger increases in blood triglycerides. The group drinking glucose-sweetened beverages showed none of these changes.When fructose is consumed, however, it “appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn’t increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain.” Glucose helps to control appetite and fat storage.Americans’ obesity problem started about the same time that HFCS came on to the market. It is this association that has led some nutritionists to want to study if HFCS is metabolized differently than regular sugar. Unfortunately there is not much funding for this type of research and therefore there are not that many studies. Also, there are some conflicting studies that seem to come to the opposite conclusion (that HFCS is no worse than other sugars).So, what can I recommend given this controversy? First, it is inconclusive that HFCS is inherently bad. However, because it is present in so many foods and all non-diet sodas, it is an omnipresent source of extra calories. Therefore, you must look at food and drink labels and try to pick the brand that doesn’t have added HFCS. Chances are good that brand will also not have added sugar of any type. It is fair to say that our intake of extra calories is a problem and that the increase in HFCS consumption is not helping. You should avoid food with added sugar regardless of whether it is table sugar or HFCS.

Read more on Healthy Living: HFCS…


Healthy Living: New Year’s Resolutions

Updated 4 years ago

By: Dr. David PrescottCommon Resolutions for 2011: According to a recent survey cited by Time Magazine, the recent worldwide economic recession seems to be impacting people’s wishes for the New Year. Globally, 40% of people cited improving their economic circumstances as next year’s goal. While many Americans share this goal, favorite U.S. resolutions included: ¨ Developing a healthy habit¨ Losing Weight¨ Getting OrganizedOther common resolutions in our country include quitting smoking, developing a relationship, or getting more education/job qualifications. Do Resolutions Help Us Change? Does setting any type of personal goal make a difference in whether or not we really stick to a change? Research on the impact of resolutions suggests that it does help! However, the majority of people who make some type of New Year’s Resolution find that they don’t make significant progress towards their goal. Psychologists have found that there are some very practical tips for improving your odds of meeting, or at least coming close to meeting, your New Year’s resolution. How Many People Stick to Their Resolution? More often than not, people do not stick to their New Year’s resolution for very long. In one study over two years, about one in five people (20%) are able to keep to their resolution. On the other hand, three in five (60%) dropped their resolution within 6 months. In a recently reported British study, 22% of people reported that they were “very successful” in keeping their resolutions. Interestingly, it doesn’t appear to matter that much what type of resolution you make. For example, people who picked “weight loss” weren’t more or less likely to keep their resolution than people who picked “improve my relationship.” It also doesn’t appear to matter whether you are male vs. female, or old vs. young. Tips for Keeping Your Resolution: What does appear to matter is how you go about specifying your goal, and how you arrange your life to try to meet that goal. Some of the most helpful ways to keep a resolution include the following: · Start Small – Just One Goal: It is usually easier to think of goals than to accomplish them. You have a better chance of progress if you stay focused on just one goal. Accomplishing one goal usually makes you feel better than falling short on many goals, no matter how worthy they are. · Get Some Support from Others: While the motivation to change often comes from within, sticking to your goal in the long run usually requires some support from others. Share your goal with people who will keep you on track. Other people can provide encouragement, ideas, and emotional energy when you feel your motivation start to wane. · Any Action leads to More Action: Doing something is, almost without exception, better than doing nothing when it comes to changing behavior. Changing one small behavior, for example exercising one time a week, usually leads to more and more change. Waiting until you are ready for the “big change” doesn’t work as well as taking one small step. · Plan for Relapse: People who make changes and stick to them often slip back to old ways at least once. Plan for this. How are you going to get back to your new ways? For example, if your goal is to exercise more, plan for the time when you miss your exercise. Think of ways that one missed day doesn’t become two. Reward your success, and move on quickly from your disappointments· Specify Your Goal: People who are successful in changing an unwanted habit are able to say exactly what it is they will do. People who are vague about their goal have less chance for success. Being specific also helps you actually make a start. Set a date and time to begin your change if possible. For example, saying that you want to “eat better” is a helpful, but setting a goal of eating one fruit and one vegetable at each meal is even better. Starting tomorrow! Or, if you want to get along with your in-laws better, deciding to send them a card once a month would be a more specific step. For More Information: Acadia Hospital Website: www.acadiahospital.org American Psychological Association Web Site: www.apahelpcenter.org

Read more on Healthy Living: New Year’s Resolutions…


Healthy Living: Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression

Updated 4 years ago

By: Dr. David PrescottBipolar Disorder – As With Many Psychiatric Disorders, Undertreated: A recent story in Florida, concerning a man who entered a school board meeting with a gun, highlights the need to ensure that people with mental illness receive professional treatment. News reports suggest that this man had bipolar disorder, a mood disorder involving wide fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity. But, like many psychiatric disorders, only a fraction of people with bipolar disorder receive proper treatment. Consider these facts: • Just under 3% of people in the United States experience bipolar disorder in any given year. • Almost 90% of these people are estimated to experience severe symptoms or disruption in functioning. • 51% of people with bipolar disorder receive no treatment• Only 39% of people with bipolar disorder are believed to receive adequate treatment. Famous People with Bipolar Disorder: Artist Vincent Van Gogh: performers Carrie Fisher, Dick Cavett, Margot Kidder, and Patty Duke: author Viginia Woolf. All of these well known personalities have, or are thought to have had, bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder may experience periods of time where they are creative, driven, and highly energetic. However, in spite of such periods of productivity, the disorder typically causes significant strain on relationships, families, and careers. Characteristics of People with Bipolar Disorder: While all of us experience “ups and downs” in our mood, people with Bipolar Disorder have mood swings which are extreme. Along with Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis that carries a relatively high risk for suicide or attempted suicide. The characteristic pattern involves periods of “up” mood (mania or hypomania) and periods of “down” mood (depression). Current classification of Bipolar Disorder involves Type I (full episodes of mania and depression), Type II (mild episodes of mania and full episodes of depression) and rapid cycling (mood fluctuations occur in time period of a day or even several hours, rather than weeks). Signs and symptoms of Mania (lasts one week or more): • Excessive energy, activity, or restlessness• Excessive “high” or good mood• Rapid and pressured speech• Significant decreased sleep• Irritability• Poor judgment• Denial that anything is wrong Signs and symptoms of Depression• Decreased energy or activity level• Sad or depressed mood• Preoccupation with death or suicide• Lack of interest in activities• Excessive sleep or difficulty falling asleep• Change in appetite (usually diminished)Can Children or Adolescents have Bipolar Disorder? Like many psychological disorders, bipolar disorder is more difficult to identify in children and adolescents. Some experts argue that the disorder does not truly exist in children, while others argue that it is under-identified and treated. Especially with bipolar disorder, a thorough assessment by a licensed mental health provider, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, is a good first step. How is Bipolar Disorder Treated? Author Kay Redfield Jamison, a physician who writes about her own experience with bipolar disorder, talks about the importance of combining medicine with counseling to address bipolar disorder. Treatments for Bipolar Disorder Include: * Medicines such as lithium have proven highly effective in controlling mood swings. Newer medicines, like Depakote or atypical antipsychotic medications may also help some people with bipolar disorder. * Behavioral Treatment to Help Keep Daily Activity and Sleep Routines Consistent: While behavioral treatments do not make bipolar disorder go away, the impact of bipolar disorder can be greatly reduced by helping people maintain consistency in their daily routines (for example, meal times, physical activity) and sleep. * Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Education: Recognizing early signs of an extreme mood swing is important in treating bipolar disorder. Counseling can help people with bipolar disorder identify early signs of mood swings, help people adjust to a less energized lifestyle, and help them avoid patterns of thinking which lead to more severe depression or mania. For More Information: National Institute of Mental Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publicationsAmerican Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/topics/bipolarNational Alliance of Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org

Read more on Healthy Living: Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression…


Healthy Living

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Joan PellegriniBody piercing that includes areas other than ear lobes is gaining acceptance. One of the reasons that this is interesting to me as a surgeon is that I am now seeing more patients with complications from these piercings.There are “early” and “late” complications. Early complications occur because of improper sterile technique or improper site selection. Most of these complications can be avoided by choosing a reputable piercer. These complications are usually a local infection around the piercing.Ear piercing: a search of the medical literature does not list many complications. Interestingly, there do not seem to be any more complications with piercing the cartilage (the upper part of the ear) as opposed to the earlobe. Some people form keloids which is a very large scar. If you know you are one of these people, you should avoid piercing all together.Tongue and lip piercing: I suspect that most people who get this type of piercing are not informed about the dental complications. The metal in this type of jewelry can cause gingival recession and tooth trauma. Over time, this can necessitate expensive dental care. The gingival recession will self-correct if the jewelry is removed and good oral hygiene is followed. Trauma to the tooth enamel, however, may be irreversible.Umbilical piercing: The only real complication is infection of the belly button. This can be avoided by frequently cleansing of this area.Intimate piercings: Surprising to me, there are few complications with this type of piercing. A penile ring, although not really a “piercing” can cause a narrowing of the urethra if it is too tight and left on long-term.Nipple piercing: This is the most frequent piercing to cause complications in my practice. I have seen several women with breast infections that have occurred many months after piercing. Some women have even had their piercing removed for months to years before they develop an abscess. A breast abscess is painful. Unfortunately, this abscess is caused by a communication with the duct which can make it more difficult to treat. The mammary ducts all come together at the nipple. A piercing through the nipple can cause an abnormal communication between the skin and one or more of these ducts. Skin bacteria can get into the duct and cause an infection in the breast tissue. Some of these infections can cause breast deformity or may even require surgery to remove the duct and some breast tissue.

Read more on Healthy Living…


Healthy Living: National Stress Survey

Updated 4 years ago

Recognizing Stress vs. Effectively Addressing StressBy- Dr. David Prescott Stress in America Survey: Each year, the American Psychological Association teams with Harris Interactive Research to conduct the “Stress in America Survey.” This survey helps identify Americans’ current perceived level of stress, sources of stress and ability to effectively cope with stress. The results reveal that, as a nation, most of us live under moderate to high stress and that we recognize stress’s negative influence on our lives and our health. Why is Understanding Stress Important? Short-term stress can actually be helpful in focusing our energy on an important task, like an exam in school or an athletic event. However, chronic, long-term stress is associated with a number of negative conditions including:  Heart disease Depression or Anxiety Disorder Obesity Overall poor health Chronic PainWhat are the Top Stressors for 2010? The top stressors for 2010 were similar to those identified in the 2009 survey, and focus largely on economic factors. They include:  Money (76% of population) Work (70% of population) Economy (65% of population)While these factors were similar from last year, some additional stressors were cited that are higher in 2010 than in 2009. These include:  Job stability is a greater stressor in 2010 (49%) vs. 2009 (44%) Employers are viewed as less helpful in assisting employees in balancing job vs. home stress (only 36% are viewed as helpful in 2010 vs. 42% in 2009).Do Kids Know About Parents’ Stress? Most parents in the survey felt that their stress level has little impact on their children. Our children, however, report otherwise. 69% of parents said that their stress had little or no impact on their children, yet 91% of children said that they know and are affected by their parents’ stress. Most children were very good at identifying signs of parent stress (e.g., more irritable, not being able to spend time with children, reprimand children more). Children, by and large, felt able to tell their parents about their own feelings of stress. Yet, a third to half of children reported problems falling asleep, having physical symptoms like upset stomach, or unhealthy eating as effects of parents’ stress. Good News for East Coast: For reasons that are not entirely clear, people who live in the eastern part of the country reported the lowest average stress levels. On a 10 point scale, east coast residents report an average stress level of 5.2, which is the fourth straight annual drop. 35% of those living in the east reported little or no stress, with the next highest region (midwest) being 25%. Knowing What to Do and Actually Doing It: Most Americans readily recognize that high stress levels are associated with poor physical and mental health, unhealthy eating habits, avoiding regular exercise, and harmful coping strategies like smoking or excessive drinking. However, most people also acknowledge that while they know what to do to cope with stress more effectively, they don’t actually do it. The American Psychological Association identifies some good starting points for putting our knowledge about better coping with stress into action. These include:  Change One Habit at a Time: Start small. Your progress will gain momentum and help you pursue more challenging stress management goals.  Talk About It: Most people are better able to cope with stress when they talk with supportive others Just expressing some of those bottled up feelings helps reduce stress levels.  Create a Health Environment: Our stress level and unhelpful coping strategies are often triggered by things around us. Making your work or living space less cluttered and more comfortable reduces stress. Or, having health snacks available reduces the urge to eat “junk food” when you are stressed. For More Information: American Psychological Association Help Center: www.apa.org/helpcenterAcadia Hospital: www.acadiaohospital.org

Read more on Healthy Living: National Stress Survey…


Healthy Living: Ear Infections

Updated 4 years ago

There’s a new study that’s been released saying antibiotics have little effect on children’s ear infectionsTV5 Health Advisor Dr. Erik Steele joined Carolyn Callahan to talk about it.


Healthy Living: Reusable Grocery Bags- Shades of Green?

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Amy MoviusEnvironmental awareness has increased dramatically in recent years – globally, nationally, politically and in about any other way one can think of. Some years ago, reusable shopping bags made their appearance. They are now a common sight – ready for purchase along side the tabloids and candy bars – at checkout counters of many grocery stores. As these bags have become more popular, they have become more fashionable and can be found in a variety of colors and designs. Attention has recently been directing toward an unwitting consequence of these bags: that some may contain significant amounts of lead.Earlier this month, a newspaper in Florida reported a story in which 2 dozen different reusable bags were obtained from the largest grocery stores in state. Each bag was tested for lead content twice. Some of these bags had lead levels that were quite high. These results are concerning as lead toxicity is no small manner. Lead is a neurotoxin and has been found to harmfully affect children’s IQ. This is why lead level screening of young children has been standard for many years.The (possible) presence of lead in reusable shopping bags poses 2 major concerns. The first is for contamination of food carried in these bags. There is good news on this count! Fortunately, the form the lead takes in these shopping bags is not easily extracted or leached, so the food carried should be unaffected.The second concern is, ironically, environmental. As these reusable bags wear out and are eventually disposed of, the lead can be released into the environment. The lead content of some of these bags was of a level at which the EPA would generally require further testing before accepting as suitable for landfill. There will undoubtedly be more information on this topic to come. In the meantime, however, it is still possible to be an environmentally conscious reusable bag shopper by following the “less is more” rule. In the Florida newspaper article, high lead levels were found in the more elaborately decorated shopping bags, especially those containing yellow or green paint. In contrast, plain nylon bags with little in the way of embellishment from multiple stores had lead levels near zero. If this isn’t reassuring enough, one can always ask for (and then recycle!) paper bags.

Read more on Healthy Living: Reusable Grocery Bags- Shades of Green?…


Healthy Living: Health Benefits from Sitting Down to Family Dinners

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Jonathan WoodFor some, the term “family dinner”conjures up a picture of Beaver Cleaver and his parents, Ward (in his necktie) and June (with her pearls). That picture is probably pretty dated, but family dinners are thankfully not a thing of the past. It turns out that the number of families who eat dinner together at least 5 times/week has remained pretty constant at around 60% over the last 10 years. And according to Columbia University’s “Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse”, there are numerous apparent benefits for teens that are associated with this habit.The study, which has been revised and repeated six times since 2001, compares two groups:• Parents and teens who have dinner together 5 or more times each week• Parents and teens who have dinner together 2 or fewer times each weekIn the 2010 study, over 2000 teens and almost 500 parents were surveyed to generate these results.Teens from families who infrequently eat dinner together had significantly increased experience with substance use:• Twice as likely to have used tobacco• 89% increase in having used marijuana• 50% increase in having used alcohol• Much more likely to report friends who:o Use marijuana (58% increase)o Use Ecstasy (63% increase)o Abuse prescription drugs (50% increase)o Use LSD, cocaine, or heroine (25% increase)Additionally, increased family dinners have a clear positive correlation with improved academic performance. Higher academic performance, in addition to the obvious benefits, is in itself consistently associated with lower rates of substance abuse.Families that eat together on a regular basis report higher rates of general discussion about all aspects of child and adolescent life, including discussions of current events, school and sports, friends and social activities, and family issues or problems.Family dinner also seems to improve general relationships and the sense of wellbeing within families. 70 percent of teens who eat dinner with their parents 5-7 times/wk report that their parents are proud of them compared with 48 percent of teens who dine with their families 2 or fewer times/wk. Furthermore, nearly three quarters of teens (72%) report that eating dinner with their parents is either “fairly important” or “very important”.Whether true “cause and effect” or simply association, these results are too impressive to ignore. Something happens at the dinner table when the opportunity is offered and that “something” is generally very positive. It is too simple to not take advantage of, so think about it.For more information, visit the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse website:www.casacolumbia.orgFor the full 2010 report, “The Importance of Family Dinners VI”:www.casacolumbia.org/templates/publications_reports.asp

Read more on Healthy Living: Health Benefits from Sitting Down to Family Dinners…


Healthy Living: Vitamin D

Updated 4 years ago

The New Wonder Vitamin?By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniMost of us learned in school that Vitamin D is important for our bone health and that we get it from being in the sun. This is true. The sun on our exposed skin, along with our liver and kidneys, acts to convert the inactive molecule to the active vitamin. We can also get the active vitamin in our diet. Many foods, including milk, are supplemented with vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical in regulating our calcium metabolism. We have known for decades that vitamin D is critical for bone development. However, there is now increasingly significant research into the other biologic actions of this vitamin. These include the immune system (both the innate and adaptive), pancreas (i.e. diabetes) and metabolic homeostasis, heart-cardiovascular (heart disease and hypertension), muscle and brain systems (i.e. dementia), as well as the control of the cell cycle, and thus of the disease process of cancer.I have been telling my patients for years that if they have a problem with colon polyps, that taking Caltrate (calcium) and aspirin my help to reduce the number of polyps. New evidence shows that these same patients would probably also benefit from Vitamin D supplementation.Several conditions such as tuberculosis, psoriasis, eczema, Crohn’s disease, chest infections, wound infections, influenza, urinary tract infections, eye infections and wound healing may benefit from adequate circulating vitamin D levels.Scientists and nutritionists from many countries agree that at present about half of elderly North Americans and Western Europeans and probably also of the rest of the world are not receiving enough vitamin D to maintain healthy bone. This despite very well publicized national guidelines and supplementing our milk and orange juice. It is unclear exactly why our vitamin D levels are low. It could be from reduced dietary intake or less sun exposure or, more likely, a combination. We all live in a northern climate and this means we have less sun exposure than people living near the equator. Also, we tend to use sun screen which blocks the sun’s ability to help our skin make vitamin D.So, should you take a vitamin D supplement? You should evaluate how often you are outside when it is sunny. Is it at least 10 minutes a day without sunscreen? How much vitamin D are you getting in your diet? Dietary sources that are high in vitamin D are milk, orange juice (if the carton says it has added vitamin D), and fatty fish (such as mackerel and salmon). If you think you may not be getting enough, then a supplement of 1000 IU a day during the summer and 200 IU during the winter may be beneficial. If you are someone who seems to get every virus that goes through your office of school, then some experts believe this may be a sign of being relatively vitamin D deficient and that you’d benefit from taking extra vitamin D. If you are on medications or have liver or kidney disease, then you should discuss this issue with your physician before starting vitamin D supplementation.

Read more on Healthy Living: Vitamin D…


Healthy Living: Tree Stand Safety

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniHunting season has arrived and already we have seen hunters seriously injured because of falls from their tree stand. A quick Google search of tree stand accidents will quickly tell you that this is a common problem. Depending on where you live, up to 1/3 to ½ of all hunting accidents are a result of falling off or out of a tree stand. Of these accidents, 75% result in injury because the hunter was not using a harness or was using a harness improperly. This is really unfortunate because all commercial tree stands come with a fall restraint system (FAS). Also, this topic is covered in all hunter safety courses.Most falls happen when transitioning into the stand or out of the stand. Also, stands must be maintained and examined for wear and tear. Unfortunately, many falls are also related to alcohol intoxication.I have attached a list of safety tips from the Treestand Manufacturers Association and from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.1. Always wear a safety harness while hunting from a tree stand, including while ascending and descending. Make sure you understand how the harness should be properly used. Do not use a harness that looks worn or is not certified for your weight.2. Never climb into a permanent stand you have not built yourself or carefully checked out. 3. Always hunt with a plan and a buddy. Let someone know where you are going to be and when you plan to return.4. Always have an emergency signal device such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, etc.5. Never hunt from tree limbs and make sure the tree is healthy and alive. Dead trees do not make sturdy supports for stands.6. Be sure the commercial stand you have is safe. Practice with it before using it in the woods. 7. Never climb a tree that is too small or too large for your stand to fit safely. 8. Be sure your stand is level at the height you wish to hunt. 9. Always stand up slowly and be sure of your balance. 10. Be sure you are steady and braced before shooting. 11. Always use a line haul line for your gear. Never climb with your equipment. 12. Be more careful than you think you need to be.

Read more on Healthy Living: Tree Stand Safety…


Healthy Living: Sugar Sweetened Drinks

Updated 4 years ago

There’s More Than SodaBy- Dr. Amy MoviusChildhood obesity has been recognized as a very important topic in recent years.  An estimated 17% of teenagers and children have a BMI-for-age that is greater than or equal to the 95%ile.  Many public health efforts have been made to understand and try to address the epidemic of obesity in our nations youth, such as Maine’s “Keep ME healthy 5-2-1-0″ campaign.The amount of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) consumed by our children is recognized as important factor contributing to obesity.  Adolescents have more than doubled their daily SSB intake since 1977: it now accounts for an average 10-15% of total daily caloric intake! Drinking one 12 ounce can of SSB a day results in up to 15lb of weight gain per year.  Also, studies have shown that drinking SSB has displaced (healthy) milk drinking.Sugar Sweetened Beverages are often equated with soda, but actually include any drink that contains a caloric sweetener such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  This includes a LARGE variety of carbonated and noncarbonated Flavored and Sports Beverages (FSBs) as well as soda.A study in the upcoming October issue of the journal Pediatrics (released online yesterday, September 27th) evaluates how food and activity choices of adolescents correlates with SSB consumption, and also evaluates the effects of soda and FSBs separately.  More that 15,000 8th or 11th graders middle and high school students – from public schools across Texas participated.   They reported how many SSBs (0, 1, 2, 3) they drank in the previous day and also answered questions about healthy food intake (fruits/veggies/milk), unhealthy food intake (fried meat/fried snack/dessert), physical activity (PE, organized sports, own activity) and sedentary habits (hours of TV, computer, video games).Alarmingly, 28% of all the teens drank 3 SSBs per day.  All of the SSBs (soda + FSB) were associated with eating unhealthy foods and sedentary habits i.e. the more SSBs you drank, the more unhealthy foods you ate while being sedentary for more hours a day.  However, whereas drinking soda was also associated with less physical activity and less healthy food intake, drinking FSBs was associated with MORE physical activity and MORE healthy food choices.  This means teens who drank more FSBs tended to do more physical activity and eat more healthy foods.  The positive association between drinking FSBs, physical activity and fruit/veggie/milk consumption suggests that FSBs are viewed as being consistent with a healthy lifestyle.  This pattern is also seen with consumption of 100% fruit juice (which is not a SSB).  The presumed explanation is that these products have been successfully marketed as relatively healthy.  In fact, a 20 ounce bottle of a popular sports drink contains almost 9 teaspoons of added sugar.  Public health efforts to date have discouraged intake of all artificially sweetened beverages without making much distinction between different types.  Clearly, health professionals need to be more specific.  In the meantime, encourage those around you to know exactly what they are drinking if it isnt milk or water.Reference:  Ranjit et al. Dietary and Activity Correlates of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Adolescents.  Pediatrics Volume 126, Number 4, October 2010. 

Read more on Healthy Living: Sugar Sweetened Drinks…


Health Watch: Social Phobia

Updated 4 years ago

By-Dr. David PrescottSocial Phobia is a type of Anxiety Disorder: Phobias are intense, excessive fears about certain objects or situations. While most people experience heightened anxiety in some situations, people with phobias find their fears to be debilitating. One common type of phobia is termed social phobia, or social anxiety. Typically, symptoms of social phobia are first evident in the early teenage years. Social phobia impacts about 15 million Americans, and it causes everyday social situations to become fraught with anxiety and embarrassment. Social Phobia is one type of anxiety disorder along with problems like panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Together, anxiety disorders impact nearly one in every five people. Defining Social Phobia: Social Phobia was long associated with being shy or timid, and its impact on people’s lives was minimized. However, in the early 1980′s, psychologists and other researchers began to focus on how social anxiety could be debilitating for some people. The essence of Social Phobia is:· Overwhelming anxiety and self-consciousness when a person interacts with others. · Intense, chronic fear of being watched and judged by others. · Extreme fear of doing things that will cause embarrassment during a social interaction. · Intense physical and subjective anxiety in most social situations: for example, feeling sick to your stomach, sweating, or racing heart. Brain Activity and Social Phobia: Recent research on social phobia highlights the fact that mental health problems involve a complex interaction of brain chemistry, thinking patterns, and behaviors. Brain images of people with social phobia were compared to a control group after receiving a critical comment such as “You are ugly.” The people with social phobia exhibited significantly higher levels of brain activity in brain areas responsible for emotional arousal and areas responsible for self-evaluation. Thus, it appears that people with social phobia experience a heightened brain response to criticism, which likely contributes to their fear of social situations. “Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place:” Getting a Person with Social Phobia to Seek Help. The struggle to seek help with a psychological problem is especially difficult for people with Social Phobia. Like all social interactions, the thought of meeting with a counselor is likely to cause intense anxiety and fear of embarrassment. Family members and friends can help by providing extra support, perhaps by accompanying the person to their first visit. Treatment for Social Phobia: All anxiety disorders, including Social Phobia, have an excellent change of improving with treatment. People with social phobia often would like to be with other people more often, or would like to reach out to friends. However, when the moment comes, they typically experience extremely high levels of anxiety and feel compelled to change their plans. Treatment can help people with social phobia overcome this pattern of fear and avoidance. The types of treatment that are effective include: · Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy involves identifying and changing thinking patterns which cause and perpetuate anxiety. These thinking patterns, and the behavior that follows, can be changed to break the cycle of escalating anxiety and avoidance of social interaction. · Medications: The most commonly used medications for social phobia are anti-anxiety medications, such as Klonopin, or a class of antidepressant medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) often help make anxiety more manageable. Medications are often a helpful adjunct to “talk” therapies. · Behavior Therapy: Behavior Therapy, like systematic relaxation training, can be used to teach specific skills to reduce anxiety. For More Information: Acadia Hospital www.acadiahospital.org National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications American Psychological Association www.apahelpcenter.org

Read more on Health Watch: Social Phobia…


Healthy Living

Updated 4 years ago

Why do you get a beer belly when you drink beer?By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniThere is nothing particularly special about beer that makes it cause a beer belly. A “beer belly” is nothing more than just being overweight. Any type of extra calories will lead to a beer belly although it does seem that alcohol has a tendency to cause fat to accumulate around the midsection. Most people don’t seem to notice the calories in a drink as much as they notice what they eat. A couple of beers will run you on average about 300 calories. But some beers can have as much as 200-300 calories per serving. Now add in the munchies that go along with a beer and you could easily be up to 600 calories or more. That is a dangerous trend when the caloric need of an average sedentary adult is only 2000 calories or less. In general, it takes an extra 3500 calories to store a pound of fat. If you eat your necessary calories each day and then add only one beer (average 150 calories) a day for a year, you will add 15 pounds to your waist if you don’t offset with exercise. A “light” beer has less alcohol and therefore has less calories. However, even a light beer has about 75 calories. All beers have “empty” calories. This is a term that nutritionists use to label a food that does not offer any nutritional benefit such as protein, fiber, or minerals and vitamins.Men are more likely to get the “beer belly” look because of the way they distribute fat. Men tend to put fat inside their abdomen whereas women are more likely to put fat under their skin. Strong abdominal muscles can help a man “suck in” the abdomen and hide the extra fat that is being stored inside. A beer belly will also become more noticeable as we age because we lose some of our muscle and the skin becomes less tight. People who drink a lot of beer tend to be people who do not exercise. Most of us exercise less as we age and this contributes to gaining a beer belly. There are also some hormonal reasons why we accumulate fat around our midsection as we age.

Read more on Healthy Living…


Healthy Living: Making a Psychologically Healthy Adjustment to School

Updated 4 years ago

By- Dr. David PrescottTimes of transition are often both rewarding and stressful. The transition to the new school year, while much anticipated, may bring particular challenges for some children and families. Knowing the early signs of common school adjustment problems can help parents, students, and teachers adjust to a difficult transition without letting a relatively small difficulty grow into a major problem. Three common issues which may require extra attention during the start of a new school year include: 1) anxiety about going to school (“school phobia”): 2) difficulties in peer relationships and bullying: 3) academic difficulties/risk for school dropout.School PhobiaWhat are the signs? It is normal for children and teenagers to worry. A recent study reported that 70% of children say they “worry every now and then.” In children, phobias or anxieties are often displayed through avoidance, behavior problems like tantrums, or physical symptoms like stomach aches or headaches. Children who have school phobia may say that they are worried about what may happen to their parents while they are in school, or find other reasons that they shouldn’t go to school. They may ask for excessive reassurance about going to school. Suggestions for coping with school phobia • For children of all ages, show interest: Listen, give encouragement, and ask questions. • For younger children, get on the bus with a friend. This can help children not feel so alone. • Organize the night before. If your child is anxious about going to school, try not to make the trip out the door full of stress and last minute running around. • Talk to a mental health professional or school counselor if your child begins missing school or leaving early due to stress or worry. Peer Relationships and BullyingWhat are the signs? Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. Research suggests that about one in five (17%) of school age children report being bullied sometimes or often. There is no single profile of a bully, such as the stereotypical tough on the outside/insecure on the inside child. Many bullies are extremely popular with their peers and, surprisingly, popular among teachers and other adults.Suggestions for coping with peer relationship problems and bullying:• Listen to the problem: Many times, listening to your child’s problem in a patient, relaxed manner can help them feel better immediately, and can help your child start to think of solutions. • Enlist the help of school counselors and administrators: Many schools have worked hard to reduce bullying. A chat with the principal or guidance counselor will help you support your child in a way that is consistent with what they experience at school. • Provide Perspective and Look for Strengths: Try to help your child keep a long term perspective on peer problems. Things don’t always turn around in a day. While you are figuring out how to make things better, don’t forget to help your child focus on what they do well. Academic Struggles and Risk for School DropoutWhat are the signs? Let’s focus for a moment on children in early adolescence. Research suggests that children normally become more self-critical and negative in their opinion of themselves as they enter their early teenage years. As schoolwork becomes more difficult, young teenagers may be filled with doubt about their abilities and skills. Poor grades may be one sign of this. Sometimes teenagers may express dislike for a subject or teacher partly due to their own self-doubts. Helping them overcome these struggles has significant benefits in terms of future work and self-esteem. Suggestions for Coping with Academic Struggles and Risk for Dropout• Effort matters: Even though it may just sound like a saying, research shows that there is a positive correlation between effort and performance in school. Keep in mind that, at least in this case, hard work does appear to pay off. • Look for improvement, not perfection: Try to help your child make improvement, rather than perfection, their goal. • Enlist help: Improving in schoolwork requires both emotional and technical support. Friends, teachers, parents, and siblings can all provide different types of support. Help your child feel like they aren’t isolated in dealing with their struggles. For More Information: Acadia Hospital: www.acadiahospital.orgAmerican Psychological Association Help Center: www.apa.org/healthcare

Read more on Healthy Living: Making a Psychologically Healthy Adjustment to School…


Healthy Living: Male Pattern Baldness

Updated 4 years ago

For millions of american men, with age, hair can thin or fall out and never come back. TV5 health expert Doctor Eric Steele is here to talk about male pattern baldness.

Read more on Healthy Living: Male Pattern Baldness…


MENU