Monday, April 1, 2013

The Sky Broke Open in My Heart!

There's a new blogger on the block!

A number of years back, when my daughter was in high school, she came to me and said she wanted to write children's books.  I, like so many parents before me, asked her what she planned to do for a day job.  Since then she has accomplished many things, has a great "day job" and has made me extremely proud.

She is also an accomplished writer, which comes in handy at work, but she has rarely practiced this craft in a freelance fashion.  That all changed last week when she sent me a link via Facebook to her new blog.

I invite you to read her first post on Limestone Breeze.  It is a post that explores faith and organized religion and the struggles many of us have in coming to terms with the complexity of it all.  It's a great read!

One proud Mama

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Healthy Living the Mediterranean Way

Good news for those of us who enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner and lots of olive oil in our diets. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet can significantly reduce heart attack and strokes.  The findings were so significant, in fact, that the study was ended early, after almost five years.  As is often the case when the results are so strikingly clear, it was considered unethical to continue.

The study was significant for two reasons: First it was a randomized, controlled study of 7,500 Spaniards over the age of 55 who had no evidence of heart disease, but were at a high risk of developing heart disease; and, second, two groups in the study were counseled to adopt a variation of the Mediterranean diet and the third group was counseled to adopt a low-fat diet.  Those assigned to a low-fat diet did not lower their fat intake very much. So the study wound up comparing the usual modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods, with a diet that shunned all that.

General Guidelines for the Mediterranean Diet
  • Olive oil: use it abundantly for cooking and dressing dishes
  • Vegetables: at least two to three daily servings
  • Fruits: at least two to three daily servings
  • Beans: three or more weekly servings
  • Fish or seafood: three or more weekly servings
  • Nuts or seeds: at least one serving a week
  • Choose poultry instead of red meats or processed meats
  • Cook at least twice a week with tomato, garlic, and onion
  • Moderate alcohol intake (for those who drink alcohol)
  • Eat as desired: nuts, eggs, fish or seafood, low-fat cheese, chocolate (only black chocolate, with more than 50% cocoa), and whole-grain cereals.
  • Limit or eliminate: cream, butter, margarine, red meat, sugared beverages, pastries, bakery products (such as cakes, donuts, or cookies), premade sweets and desserts, French fries or potato chips, cured or fatty cheeses.
The good news is this is a diet of abundance, not restriction. Add in not smoking and daily physical activity and you can protect, and in some cases even improve your health.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Until I Say Goodbye

So I thought I would drop back in as if I did not take a four-month hiatus.  Somehow work, mother nature and, frankly, the tragedy in Newtown, CT conspired to distract me from my blogging.  Derailed me in fact.  I have missed it.  In recent weeks I have found a number of inspirational stories that I wanted to share, so it's time to get back on track.

Last in, first out...

The most recent one is the inspirational story of a courageous woman with an incredible story to tell.  Susan Spencer-Wendel is a forty-something "young" woman--once a reporter in West Palm Beach--who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2011.  It is easy to imagine the stages she went through as she came to terms with this diagnosis beginning with denial and then, when faced with the reality of her situation, with a tremendous sense of grief.

But Susan decided that she would not leave her family with those emotions as their last memory of her.  She is determined to "Live a Life of Joy" in the final days of her life.  She has written a book, not about "sadness and despair" as she puts it, but "a record of my final wonderful year," titled Until I Say Goodbye:  My Year of Living with Joy.

Anyone familiar with ALS knows that it is a progressive neurological disease that causes muscle weakness, disability and eventually death.  In Susan's case the disease has progressed to the point that she only has the use of one finger--her thumb.  She was able to fit her iPhone in the crook of her hand and, with her thumb, text all 85,000 words into a notes app. In the book she tells the story of her trip to the Yukon to see the Northern Lights, a trip to Cyprus to see family she never knew, and memorable trips with her children.  The book, described as upbeat and genuinely funny, will be available March 12 and can be purchased in hardcover, digital and audible versions.

I encourage you to listen to Susan's interview on NPR and read the excerpt from her book at the bottom.  She is an amazing lady and a real inspiration.  My wish for her is, of course, a miracle, but short that I wish for her and her family to continue to live with joy, with love and with peace of mind.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Serious Side Effects from Popular Drug

Summer is supposed to be a time when things quiet down and life just goes a little slower.  Not so this summer!  Projects at work kept me so busy that I had little or no time to devote to blogging.  I'm hoping the lion's share of the project work is behind me and I can get back to the business at hand.  That is, the pursuit of information on health and wellness for the benefit of me and my readers.

Even though I have been too busy to devote time to blogging, I have been saving links as I ran across information in the hopes of finding a few minutes to share, but to no avail...until today.  I came across this article and felt the information was just too important to leave for later.

Perhaps you know Jane Brody, who is the Personal Health columnist for the New York Times.  Her mission is to look for ways to help people lead better lives.  Not a bad mission.  In her post this morning she reviewed the side effects of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones.  You may know them by their brand names--Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox.

They are well known as the magic bullet of antibiotics, used against serious, life-threatening bacterial infections like hospital-acquired pneumonia.  However, what is less well known is the serious side effects of this drug.

Too often these drugs are prescribed for ailments that do not require this level of potency (sinusitis, bronchitis, earaches, etc.).  Jane tells the story of a patient diagnosed with mild pneumonia.  His doctor prescribed Levaquin, even after the patient expressed concerns.  The wide range of side effects from this drug were alarming and long-lasting.

These are the drugs that are blamed for the increase in two hard-to-treat infections--the antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA) and severe diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile. Moreover, Fluoroquinolones carry a “black box” warning mandated by the FDA that tells doctors of possible toxic effects on tendons. Consumers do not see this warning.  It is incumbent on the doctors to inform patients of such warnings.

I encourage you to read this article and, I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  Go online and research the drugs that are prescribed for you.  Understand the side effects and the impact they could have on your health.  This is your body, these are your decisions. Make sure they are informed decisions.

Here's a link to Jane's post:

In good health...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Busting the Dairy Myth

One of the food sources I had to give up on my anti-inflammatory diet is dairy. Although yogurt and kefir can remain on my diet, all other dairy is discouraged. Last week Mark Bittman published a column on the Opinionator about dairy products, citing a number of reasons we should avoid them. He talked about how he gave up dairy and within 24 hours his heartburn disappeared never to return.

On reflection, I realized that I had not experienced any heartburn since eliminating dairy from my diet.  Inspired by our mutual success, I decided to do some sleuthing on the subject.  Seems there is a lot of information out there.

Mark Hyman, MD, practicing physician and contributor to Huffpost Healthy Living wrote a comprehensive column on the subject. Here is what he had to say in a nutshell.

1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures: Studies have shown that eating dairy products has not been shown to reduces fractures, in fact some studies suggest dairy may actually increase the risk of fractures.

2. Milk builds strong bones, NOT! Research has shown that countries with a lower rate of dairy and calcium consumption actually have lower rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium is not the great bone-protector we believed it to be: Turns out Vitamin D is much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk: Studies have shown a correlation between a high intake of calcium and dairy and an increased risk of prostate cancer—to the tune of 30 to 50 percent.

5. Low Tolerance Level for Dairy—It’s in the genes! Commonly known as lactose intolerance, a whopping 75 percent of us have trouble digesting milk and other dairy products.

If you are experiencing problems with sinuses, post-nasal drip, headaches, or irritable bowel syndrome, I encourage you to read Dr. Hyman’s column and review the studies from which he drew his information.

Or you can do as he suggests:

Try giving up all dairy. That means eliminate milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. If you notice improvements in your health, start eating dairy again and then see how you feel. If you start to feel worse again, you should try to give it up for life.

In good health…