Archive | Health and Fitness

Move Naturally

Move Naturally

by Reese Gray

Although we strive for active lifestyles to acquire for good health, our weather can be bit extreme.  Let’s face reality, we do live in Texas.  And no matter what we plan, we live in a fast paced hustle and bustle world that constantly interrupts our best made plans for routine exercise activities.

But still the messages are clear. For a healthy you there are requirements you have to meet, on physical activity, eating and mental clarity all to ensure the healthy lifestyle we all search for.

No matter how busy you are or how hectic your life is, you still have the small back to basics it takes to add some needed movement to your life.  Just move naturally.

Add a few steps to your day, and a little exercise can go a long way:
•    Park in the farthest space in the parking lot, or at least adjust to 5-10 spaces out from your norm
•    Take the opportunity to stand and move around in your office area while on phone calls
•    Take the stairs over using the elevator
•    Keep an eye on your posture – sit tall, stand straight and move with purpose
•    Take meetings on the go. Ask a coworker to “walk with me” and chat about the meeting topics
•    Walk the dog
•    Play some active family games weekly
•    Park the car when you get home and walk back to the mailbox
•    Take a little short 10 minute walk before or after dinner

Striving for convenience has made us a bit on the lazy side.  Consider that we pay a gym extreme amounts of money to help us exercise our bodies but we scramble for a parking space right near the door of the facility.  We buy expensive shoes to enable our special sports program but we pay the neighbor kid to mow the yard.

Improving your mental health and mood
Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age.  And you can’t start this too early.  It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing even lower levels of physical activity can be very beneficial.

Increase your chances of living longer
Science shows that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers.  Everyone can gain the health benefits of physical activity – age, ethnicity, shape or size do not matter.

Intensity and  aerobic activity are the ultimate goal in exercise but  factually, the activities we need to keep our bodies healthy and fit are all around us NATURALLY, oh they may not be the most popular activities but let’s face it working in a garden should bring you much more pleasure than mindless sit-ups and tummy crunches.

And when you can or if you are ready to add extra exercise after moving to a natural movement lifestyle, try a membership at the Natatorium so you can swim all year long.  That is an activity that is healthy for your body and it can actually be utilized in North Texas whether in January or July.

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Prostate Screening

Prostate Screening

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that mostly affects older men. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.

Many men have questions about prostate cancer screening (testing). Even though prostate cancer is common, screening for it isn’t recommended. The information below can help you start a conversation about prostate cancer with your doctor or nurse.

What is the prostate?
The male prostate is a small sex gland that makes fluid to carry sperm. It’s located below the bladder and in front of the rectum.

Who is at risk for prostate cancer?
Risk factors for prostate cancer include:
•    Being age 50 or older
•    Being African American
•    Having a father, brother, or son who had prostate cancer

Why isn’t screening recommended for prostate cancer?
Screening for prostate cancer isn’t recommended because the risks of screening and treatment outweigh the benefits.
•    Most of the time, prostate cancer grows so slowly that men won’t die from it or have any symptoms.
•    The treatment of prostate cancer is more likely to cause medical problems than the prostate cancer itself.
•    The screening tests for prostate cancer that are available now can’t tell if you have a cancer that will cause problems or not.

What do I ask the doctor?
Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse:
•    Am I at risk for prostate cancer?
•    Are there things I can do to lower my risk for prostate cancer?
•    What are the benefits and harms (risks) of prostate cancer screening and treatment?
•    Are there any warning signs or symptoms of prostate cancer I should look out for?

American Cancer Society recommendations for prostate cancer early detection
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should not be screened unless they have received this information. The discussion about screening should take place at:
•    Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
•    Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
•    Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

After this discussion, those men who want to be screened should be tested with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done as a part of screening.

If, after this discussion, a man is unable to decide if testing is right for him, the screening decision can be made by the health care provider, who should take into account the patient’s general health preferences and values.

Assuming no prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, the time between future screenings depends on the results of the PSA blood test:
•    Men who choose to be tested who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/mL may only need to be retested every 2 years.
•    Screening should be done yearly for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher.

Because prostate cancer often grows slowly, men without symptoms of prostate cancer who do not have a 10-year life expectancy should not be offered testing since they are not likely to benefit. Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about screening.

Even after a decision about testing has been made, the discussion about the pros and cons of testing should be repeated as new information about the benefits and risks of testing becomes available. Further discussions are also needed to take into account changes in the patient’s health, values, and preferences.

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All Toes on Deck

All Toes on Deck

Tips for Protecting Feet from the Heat

One of the many perks of a beachy spring and summer is knowing that instead of having your feet feeling toasty in sweaty Uggs, you can lounge happily with your toes dangling in the warm weather, shoe-free with the sand at your feet. But alas, the dream does come with its own set of tootsie troubles.

“Even if you are just lying still on your back soaking up the rays, your feet are still vulnerable,” says American Podiatric Medical Association member Dr. Jane Andersen. “You can seriously sunburn your feet and no matter how upscale your hotel, athlete’s foot can lurk in all public pool areas.”

Wouldn’t you rather spend time collecting sea shells than doctor’s bills? No worries. There are ways to prevent these future foot predicaments so you can go back to your sun-kissed dreams and enjoy a liberated foot experience.

1.    Limit walking barefoot as it exposes feet to sunburn, as well as plantar warts, athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other infections and also increases risk of injury to your feet.
2.    Wear shoes or flip-flops around the pool, to the beach, in the locker room and even on the carpeting or in the bathroom of hotel rooms to prevent injuries and limit the likelihood of contracting any bacterial infections.
3.    Remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet, especially the tops and fronts of ankles, and don’t forget to reapply after you’ve been in the water.
4.    Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will not only help with overall health, but will also minimize any foot swelling caused by the heat.
5.    Keep blood flowing with periodic ankle flexes, toe wiggles, and calf stretches.
6.    Some activities at the beach, lake or river may require different types of footwear to be worn so be sure to ask the contact at each activity if specific shoes are needed. To be safe, always pack an extra pair of sneakers or protective water shoes. If your shoes will be getting wet, they should be dried out completely before your next wearing to prevent bacteria or fungus from growing.
7.    If you injure your foot or ankle while on vacation, seek professional medical attention from a podiatric physician. Many often only contact a doctor when something is broken or sprained, but a podiatrist can begin treating your ailment immediately while you’re away from home. Use our Find a Podiatrist tool to get treatment wherever your travels take you!
8.    In case of minor foot problems, be prepared with the following on-the-go foot gear:
• Flip flops – for the pool, spa, hotel room, and airport security check points
• Sterile bandages – for covering minor cuts and scrapes
• Antibiotic cream – to treat any skin injury
• Emollient-enriched cream – to hydrate feet
• Blister pads or moleskin – to protect against blisters
• Motrin or Advil (anti-inflammatory) – to ease tired, swollen feet
• Toenail clippers – to keep toenails trimmed
• Emery board – to smooth rough edges or broken nails
• Pumice stone – to soften callused skin
• Sunscreen – to protect against the scorching sun
• Aloe vera or Silvadene cream – to relieve sunburns

Sandal Scandal

Avoid a  shoe blunder this summer by addressing your footwear woes:
• Wedges and Espadrilles – possible problem areas are ankle twist,  sprain; instability and difficulty walking. There may be a solution, try a wider, flatter wedge; look for a rubber sole with good traction.
• Peep-Toe Sandals – increased pressure on toes; bunions and hammer toes. There may be help, wear only for short periods of time; use an APMA-accepted insert.
• Flats and Slides – problem areas are arch and heel pain; inadequate cushioning and foot support. Consider this, avoid prolonged wear; try cushioned inserts for shock absorption; select a sole that doesn’t twist excessively.
• Platforms and High Heels – problem areas are pain in the ball of the foot and ankle injuries. Better option is to wear lower, more stable heels (less than two inches); use an APMA-accepted insert.
• Gladiator and Strappy Sandals – Problem are irritation between toes; callus and dead skin build-up around the heels; lack of support and shock absorption. A solution that offers both is select natural materials such a soft, supple leather; ensure proper fit with no toes or heels hanging off the edge.

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From the Spice Rack

From the Spice Rack

by Kathe Kitchens, Bestemor Herb Farm


Catnip equals crazy cat, right? Not always.  Around 70% of cats, due to an inherited trait, react to this member of the mint family.  Research indicates that the active compound nepatalactone, when inhaled by a cat, evokes a reaction from the hypothalamus and amygdala, generally creating an artificial response to cat pheromone.  The cat will drool, rub its head and body on the herb, jump around and vocalize.  The reaction generally lasts about 10 minutes, and then the cat becomes immune for 30 minutes to two hours.  A cat that eats catnip is likely to have the opposite effect, becoming very mellow.

Native to south and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and China, catnip was bought to North America by immigrants and quickly naturalized.  It grows wild in many places and is a welcome addition to the other plants that feed our bees.  Catmint, catswort, field balm and nep are other common names for catnip.  Native Americans recognized its benefits and adopted this herb for natural therapies, notably as immune support and treatment for colic in infants.  Compounds found in catnip are calming to humans, giving it value as a therapy for anxiety, anorexia, ADD, headache, digestive support and to calm nightmares.  Because it induces sweating, it is also a recommended therapy for fever.

Most effectively consumed as a tea, it is high in vitamin C, and also vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12, plus phosphorus, manganese, sodium, and sulfur.   The tea has a slightly minty lemon flavor, considered appetizing by most.  While it is safe for children, catnip should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers and is an emmenagogue, inducing menstruation.  Its properties are recommended to ease PMS and menopause symptoms.   Remember to use hot, but not boiling water for herbal teas.  If the water is too hot, you are causing the essential oils in the herbs to evaporate away.  Cover the cup or pot to allow the herbs to steep for 5 to 10 minutes for best benefits.

Seeds sown directly in soil or seedlings transplanted once danger of frost is past will grow into perennial shrubs approximately 18” wide by 18” – 36” in height.  In Texas, catnip prefers full sun or partial shade and likes a slightly alkaline soil.  The plants  flower lilac or white spires until frost, providing forage for bees and other pollinators.  They will freeze to the ground in winter, but will grow back if protected by mulch and given a little compost in the fall.  Compounds in catnip are known to repel mosquitoes, and in tests shown to be more effective than DEET.  Companion planting recommends catnip around squashes to deter squash bugs and flea beetles, so we are adding it to our gardens this year to experiment and hope for positive results.  The herb is also said to repel rats, and so is planted around grain silos.  Wild deer and rabbits do not generally bother catnip, so it makes an aromatic color addition to gardens where they are pests.

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Is Your Sunscreen To Blame?

Is Your Sunscreen To Blame?

by Leah Schiller, MMS, PA-C
Precision Dermatology

Over the past several years the AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) has led educational campaigns on the health risks of sun exposure and protection.  During this time, The FDA also implemented stricter guidelines governing the labeling of sunscreen in an attempt to prevent false or misleading claims by the sunscreen manufacturer.

My patient concern(s)…”What are these brown spots? How do I stop them from coming?”  Whether it is freckling (Lentigos), larger dark patches (Melasma) or depigmented areas of the skin, the answer I give is always the same…Protection.  These pigmentary changes can often be stubborn and difficult to treat; therefore, prevention really is the “best medicine”.  Patients grow frustrated since they are using sunscreen and following all the “rules”: using an SPF of 15 or higher for daily use/30 and higher when outdoors, applying proper amounts, reapplying every 90-120 minutes (sooner if swimming/ sweating).  In cases such as this, the sunscreen product itself is often to blame. So, it’s important to understand not all sunscreens are created equal!  There are importance differences in the types of sunscreens available and the protection value they offer.

To better understand let’s look at UVR (Ultraviolet Radiation).  Two main subcategories of UVR pose a threat to skin: UVB and UVA.  UVB has a shorter wavelength, meaning it does not penetrate the skin as deeply thus causing more superficial acute damage; what we recognize as a sunburn.   Conversely UVA has a much longer wavelength, penetrating deeper into the skin where it renders damage.  It is UVA that is the primary culprit for such things as pigmentary change and premature aging.  Although each type of UVR can render different short term damage, it’s important to recognize both play a role in long term health risk such that can lead to things like precancerous and cancerous lesions.  Not all sunscreens provide equal or proper protection against both types of UV rays.  Lathering on the highest SPF and reapplying frequently isn’t going to adequately protect you, unless you are using a broad spectrum product.  Moral of the story is, if you’re not using the proper sunscreen, you may only be protecting yourself against sunburns, leaving yourself vulnerable to pigmentary change.

There are two types of sunscreen available: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen (referred to as sunblock).  Physical sunscreens such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are minerals that provide a physical barrier reflecting UV rays (both UVB & UVA) away from the skin.  Physical sunscreens offer many advantages over chemical sunscreens.  Make sure your sunscreen is working for you, even before you consider the SPF number, flip the bottle over and read the active ingredients!

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Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

Your heart’s job is to move blood and oxygen through the four chambers and to the rest of your body in the arteries. Your body’s cells remove oxygen and nutrients from the blood, which then travels back to your heart through veins, while an electrical system keeps your heart beating at a regular rate. Simple right?
Several types of problems can develop in your heart. You can have valve problems, or with the blood vessels that bring blood to your heart and other organs. You can also have heart rhythm problems when your heart’s electrical system malfunctions.
Heart Attack
A heart attack (called a myocardial infarction) is damage to the heart muscle that results from prolonged lack of blood flow to the heart. Heart attacks are caused by atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of plaque along the walls of the coronary arteries. Most frequently, the plaque surface cracks or wears away, causing a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque, which blocks the artery and prevents blood from reaching a portion of your heart.
Most heart attacks happen suddenly (acute), and need immediate medical attention. Physicians use the phrase “time is muscle” because after 15 to 20 minutes without oxygen, tissue damage and death (infarction) begins to occur. Most damage from heart attacks occurs in the first two to three hours of onset. The longer blood flow to the heart is blocked, the more heart muscle will die. Quickly clearing the blockage is therefore critical, and often shortly after a heart attack is diagnosed, patients undergo angioplasty and stenting. In angioplasty and stenting, a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded through the blood vessels to the site of the blockage. Once in place, the balloon is inflated and deflated, flattening the blockage against the walls of the artery, restoring blood flow. A stent, a metal-mesh tube, is placed at the site of the newly cleared blockage. It acts as a form of scaffolding to make sure the artery remains open.
Because prompt medical attention is essential, it is important to know and recognize the symptoms of a heart attack:
• Chest discomfort or chest pain
• Discomfort or pain in other areas of the upper body
• Shortness of breath
• Breaking out in a cold sweat
• Dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea
Women’s Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In addition, women sometimes experience different symptoms from men, and many women ignore their symptoms or delay seeking treatment, attributing the symptoms to stress. Two-thirds of women die from heart attacks, having never experienced any symptoms, pointing to the urgent need for both better education and early screening.
Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack for women can save your life. During a heart attack, women may experience chest pain, when not enough oxygen reaches the heart muscle because of narrowed or blocked arteries. But women’s other symptoms may be different. These might include:
• Shortness of breath
• Flu-like symptoms
• Nausea/vomiting
• Indigestion
• Back pain
• Jaw pain or neck pain (like a toothache)
• Pain in one or both shoulders, arm
• Dizziness/ Lightheadedness
• Sudden unusual fatigue
• Numbness in the left shoulder and arm
• Breaking out in a cold sweat
Heart Failure
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t fill with enough blood, or in other cases, the heart can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force. Some people have both problems. The term “heart failure” doesn’t mean that your heart has stopped or is about to stop working. However, heart failure is a serious condition that requires medical care.
Heart failure develops over time as the heart’s pumping action grows weaker. Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.
Right-side heart failure may cause fluid to build up in the feet, ankles, legs, liver, abdomen, and the veins in the neck. Right-side and left-side heart failure also may cause shortness of breath and fatigue. The leading causes of heart failure are diseases that damage the heart, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Both children and adults can have the condition, although the symptoms and treatments differ.
Currently, heart failure has no cure. However, treatments—such as medicines and lifestyle changes—can help people who have the condition live longer and more active lives.
Most heart disease risk depends on a person’s lifestyle habits. Quitting smoking, exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and eating a healthy diet are great ways to engage in heart disease prevention. By lowering your heart disease risk, you can avoid heart disease treatments like bypass surgery, heart valve replacement, and pacemaker placement.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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