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It’s That Time of Year…the Flu is Here

Posted on: February 1st, 2017

Just because you haven’t gotten the flu this year doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu activity is prevalent in 35 states. So how can you protect yourself? The CDC recommends everyone take some common sense steps to prevent contracting or spreading the flu. It is recommended that most people over 6 months old get a flu vaccination. You can visit the CDC’s website for specific recommendations. Washing your hands frequently can help keep you from getting sick and spreading germs to others. Certain individuals are at higher risk for complications from the flu. Those with existing health conditions and the very young and the elderly fall into this high-risk category and should take caution when it comes to this virus. If you think you may have the flu, see your doctor as soon as possible to get tested. There are anti-viral medications that can be prescribed to help shorten the duration or prevent the flu if you’ve been exposed. For more information on the flu and flu prevention, visit the CDC’s website.

January is Cervical Health Month

Posted on: January 24th, 2017

Close up profile of mother and daughter looking at each other

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women. Fortunately, it is also slow growing and therefore easily preventable. Cervical cancer tends to strike women in middle age, but routine screenings called Pap tests can aid in early detection and treatment. Depending on your age and family history, your doctor can suggest a screening schedule that is right for you. Cervical cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms early on, so it’s important to get your recommended screenings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists HPV (human papillomavirus) as the primary cause of all cervical cancers. An HPV vaccine is available to preteens/teens/young adults and is recommended for protection from the viruses that are responsible for most cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.

For more information on cervical cancer, visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s or Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s websites.

Fresh Start

Posted on: December 31st, 2016

New Year's Resolutions written on a note pad.

Regardless of whether you are sad or relieved to see 2016 go, the New Year is nearly upon us. And after a month and a half of over indulging and skipping workouts due to a jam-packed social calendar, January offers a great time to slow down and regroup. Making resolutions is a tradition that many people embrace as a way to kickstart healthy habits or accomplish goals they’ve lost sight of. Resolutions can either be an effective tool for positive self-change or something you later beat yourself up about. Make your resolutions stick this year by following these helpful suggestions:

  • Set realistic goals and timelines. You didn’t develop your bad habits overnight and it is unrealistic to assume you can break yourself of them in the course of a few weeks. Persistence and patience are necessary to succeed.
  • Find an accountability partner. Whether it’s your spouse, best friend or just someone from the gym who’s also looking to drop a few pounds, having someone to share your struggles and successes with can help keep you on track.
  • Don’t let a slip up or setback completely derail your progress. You are human and will make mistakes. The best thing you can do is to learn from them and move on with more knowledge and willpower. Try to identify any triggers—a stressful day at work, a busy schedule with little time to cook healthy meals or exercise—and come up with a game plan to overcome these obstacles. Maybe you have to prep your meals or make and freeze them on the weekends, or you have to fit in two shorter workouts a day (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening) instead of one longer workout. Be flexible and creative when it comes to reaching your goals and you will be successful!

Gift Giving, Simplified

Posted on: December 20th, 2016

Christmas gift boxes on wooden table with snow. Top view with copy space

In case you find yourself running out of time and ideas for what to gift this holiday season, we’ve come up with this unique and useful gift guide to help you check off the last of your list!

  • Gift subscription to a magazine: While this may seem impersonal, if you choose a mag that focuses on your friend or loved one’s hobbies and interests, this can be a great gift. And they will think of you every month when they receive it!
  • Lessons related to their favorite hobby: Know a golfer? Aspiring artist? Fitness buff? Golf lessons, an art class or series of classes, and class passes to a boutique gym are easy to get and give.
  • Tickets to the Southeastern Wildlife Expo: As one of Charleston’s top events each year, this Expo has a wide range of activities to choose from. Perfect for the sportsmen, wildlife or nature lover, artists and conservationists in your life.
  • Tickets to a Wine & Food event: With a wide range of activities, including lunches, dinners, educational events, tasting tents and more, the Charleston Wine & Food Festival is an all-around crowd pleaser.
  • Tickets to local theatre: The Footlight Players and Charleston Stage gift certificates are a thoughtful, unique gift. Treat someone you love to a night out on the town. Pair it with a gift certificate to one of your favorite local restaurants and this gift will make for an evening to remember!

Before you go the gift card to a big box store route, consider some of these more personal gift ideas—your loved ones will thank you!

November is American Diabetes Month

Posted on: November 29th, 2016

Diabetes concept with insulin, syringe, vials, pills, and stethoscope.

Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the American population, and according to the American Diabetes Association, 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed each year. The outlook is even more grim for seniors, with over 25% of those age 65+ suffering from the disease. Risk factors include being overweight, an unhealthy diet, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. The American Diabetes Association’s My Health Advisor tool is a great way to assess your risk for this disease.

A key issue for diabetics is the ability to get affordable insulin. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that insulin costs have almost tripled since 2002. These rising costs may lead to “insulin rationing,” a dangerous practice that can have life-threatening complications. If you or a loved one suffers from diabetes, consider signing this petition to help keep insulin affordable.

Small lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of getting diabetes. Eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising more, quitting smoking, and losing weight are all things that you can do to prevent diabetes and many other chronic health problems.

For more information on diabetes and prevention, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website.

Thanksgiving Day, the Healthy Way

Posted on: November 24th, 2016

Homemade Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner with Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, and Corn

People often use the holidays as an excuse to overindulge. Holiday travel and stress can take a toll on your emotional reserves and leave little willpower left to make healthy choices at the table. It is possible to survive Turkey Day without the excess though, and making a conscious effort to start the holiday season off with healthy choices can leave you lighter and with less regret come the New Year.

It may not seem like it can make a difference, but small tweaks to your recipes can really add up. Try cutting the sugar in your sweet potato casserole or pumpkin pie recipe in half—you really won’t notice the difference. Season your food with fresh herbs and spices and olive oil, which are all heart-healthy choices, instead of butter and salt and sugar. Help yourself to the turkey and veggies and serve yourself smaller portions of the buttery, starchy and fatty sides. There will be leftovers, so eat in moderation and then enjoy your favorites again the next day, in moderation!

Build a little extra movement into your day. Get up early and go for a run, walk or bike ride. After your big meal, toss a football around in the yard or shoot some hoops with the kids. Research has even found that exercising after a high fat meal can help lower triglyceride levels. Every little bit counts!

How Much Do You Know About Breast Cancer?

Posted on: October 31st, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So we’re asking, how much do you know about breast cancer? What is your risk for the disease? Take this quiz from the American Cancer Society to find out how much you know about breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among U.S. woman and 12% of women will develop this disease during their lifetime. There are many lifestyle factors that influence your risk, but the good news is that these are within your control. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, not smoking, drinking only moderately—these are all steps you can take to help reduce your risk. Visit the American Cancer Society’s website to learn more about breast cancer risk factors.

Breast Cancer: Reduce Your Environmental Risks

Posted on: October 21st, 2016

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The statistics show an alarming trend. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 8 women get breast cancer in their lifetimes, up from 1 in 20 just 40 years ago. Research continues to connect environmental exposures to chemicals to breast cancer risk.

Our exposures come from all over—our personal care products, cleaning products, food, air and water. Certain chemicals, called endocrine disruptors because they disrupt our hormones, are used in personal care products as preservatives that extend the shelf life of products, the lining of canned goods, on receipts, in plastics, in fragrances, in the coating of non-stick pans, the list goes on, and they can have health consequences over time. The Breast Cancer Fund, a non-profit focused on exposing and eliminating the environmental causes of cancer, has a comprehensive list of some of the most prevalent chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis and how to avoid them.

Small changes can make a difference! Buy fresh or frozen produce as opposed to canned goods, look for fragrance free products that are paraben and phthalate free, buy organic food whenever possible, use baking soda and vinegar instead of toxic chemicals to clean your house, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. For more tips to reduce your risk, visit The Breast Cancer Fund’s website.

Missing the Mark: Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Fruits & Vegetables

Posted on: September 30th, 2016

Fresh organic vegetables in wicker basket in the garden

Most of us are not eating enough fruit and vegetables. According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only slightly more than 25% of American adults eat the recommended servings of fruit and less than 15% get the recommended daily servings of veggies. Why is produce so important? The added fiber in fruits and vegetables can help you feel fuller longer on fewer calories. A diet rich in fruits and veggies can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and many fruits are naturally sweet and a healthy dessert option. Swapping vegetables for refined white foods in your diet offers a host of health benefits and is an easy way to slim down or keep your weight in check.

How much do you need to eat to meet the daily recommendations? Choosemyplate.gov is a great resource for what and how much to pick. The average person age 50+ should aim for 1.5-2 cups of fruit a day and 2-2.5 cups of vegetables. Don’t be intimidated—this is easier to do than you think! Add some frozen spinach or kale to your spaghetti sauce, or for an even more amped up option roast carrots or butternut squash and food process it in with your pasta sauce—you’ll never know it’s in there! Chop up apples and stir them into your oatmeal in the morning, or add blueberries or strawberries to some yogurt. Mix up a smoothie of kale or spinach, apples, pineapple, carrots and beets and keep it in your fridge for busy mornings. Grab an apple and peanut butter or hummus and peppers for your afternoon pick-me-up. Steamed or raw veggies can get boring, but tossing them in olive oil and seasoning and roasting them in the oven will really bring out their flavor.

For more healthy recipes and tips on how to get your daily fruits and veggies, visit Choosemyplate.gov.

 

 

Stay Active as you Age for Better Health

Posted on: September 22nd, 2016

Senior Couple Walking Through Autumn Woodland

Too many seniors are sedentary, and it is translating into a lower quality of life as they age. The National Institute on Aging at NIH celebrates September as Go4Life® month in an effort to increase awareness of the benefits of exercise and physical activity. Exercise has many health benefits—it can improve mood and memory, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce your risk for cancer and diabetes, stave off weight gain, improve balance and flexibility—which can help older adults live more full and independent lives.

Go4Life® month encourages older Americans to get moving for better health. The focus should be on incorporating the four types of exercise—strength, endurance, flexibility and balance—into your routine for well-rounded physical fitness. For ideas on what type of activities to incorporate into your daily routine, visit the Go4Life® website.

Whether you are new to exercise, getting back into it after a long break or injury, or a lifelong fitness devotee, incorporating a variety of activities and exercises into your routine will help prevent boredom and make sure you are building a strong foundation for healthy aging.

The National Aging Institute’s Web site (www.nia.nih.gov) is an institute of the NIH, a U.S. Federal Government agency that provides accurate, up-to-date information about aspects of aging research, information about clinical trials, educational materials and resources about aging for the general public, and information for researchers and health professionals.