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Friday, October 30, 2015

How to Survive Halloween!

A cocker spaniel weighs about 24 pounds. You know what else weighs 24 pounds? The massive amount of candy the average American gobbles down each year, a big chunk of that falling to our waistlines in the days before and after Halloween. Fun size? I don't think so—unless it's fun being size 16. These stats could very well turn you as white as a ghost:
• Three miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups—the kind you find in office candy bowls and trick-or-treat-bags—fill your belly with more sugar than a glazed doughnut.
• Half a pack of Skittles has more sugar than a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.
• Nine Twizzlers carry as many calories as a Wendy’s Double Stack Burger.

These are some spooky treats. And Halloween is only the beginning of the eating season: Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. If you want to see your feet come January, start by conquering the sugar fest that’s nearly upon us. Here's your plan for surviving the scariest night of the year for your waistline. 

Butterfinger Bar (fun size bar)
100 calories 4 g fat (2 g saturated) 10 g sugars
Again, fun for whom? Your cardiologist? By calling it “fun,” food marketers are cleverly pulling your attention away from the fact that candy bars are flab-inducing logs of concentrated fats and sugars. And Butterfinger is the worst offender— there's no quicker way to swallow 100 calories. 
Eat This, Instead! 3 Musketeers (fun size bar) 63 calories 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated) 10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #1: Toss the candy bowl
Alabama researchers found that people who have snacks within reach when they're watching TV consume more calories per day overall. But instead of simply relocating the bowl to another table, limit the potential for mindless munching by keeping the candy bagged and in the cupboard. 

SURVIVAL TIP #2: Consume drinks before treats
Drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal fills the stomach, supressing hunger, and helps you lose weight, according to a study presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society. Use this strategy to help control your candy cravings. Just don't substitute a sugary beverage for the water or this strategy will backfire: A can of soda has more sugar than two Hershey’s Take 5 bars.

Brach’s Airheads (3 pieces)
140 calories 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated) 19 g sugars
Here’s the basic formula for an Airhead: Sugar and filler carbohydrates, artificial colors and flavors, and partially hydrogenated oils— a source of trans fat. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like our Eat This Instead, Dum Dums, are nutritional paragons, but they do have two noteworthy advantages over Airheads: They have no heart-wrecking oils, and they're hard candy. That means they dissolve slowly on your tongue, letting you enjoy the sweetness over time. 
Eat This, Instead! Spangler Dum Dum Pops (3 pops) 77 calories 0 g fat 15 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #3: Work out on Halloween morning
Lifting weights reduces levels of blood sugar by 15 percent for more than 12 hours after you’ve left the gym, according to research from Syracuse University. Why does that matter? Some of the sugar you consume will stay in your blood stream, providing energy to your cells, instead of pitching a tent in your belly.

SURVIVAL TIP #4: Switch to dark chocolate
It won’t necessarily save you calories, but dark chocolate boasts a bevy of health benefits that milk chocolate can’t claim. Flavonoids in the cocoa help keep your arteries soft, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease . Keep a bar on hand to nibble on any time you have a craving. Seek out those bars with at least 60% cocoa.

Twix Miniatures (3 pieces) 150 calories 8 g fat (6 g saturated) 15 g sugars
Twix has the worst saturated fat profile of any candy in your kid’s trick-or-treat bag. Think about it like this: Each one of these bite-sized candies carries 10 percent of the saturated fat you should consume in an entire day. Switch to Tootsie Rolls and you’ll cut your calories by more than half and trim your total fat intake by a whopping 81 percent.  Eat This Instead! Tootsie Roll (3 pieces)
70 calories 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated) 9.5 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #5: Chew gum
Sort through any trick-or-treat bag and you’ll undoubtedly discover a handful of Super or Dubble Bubble—those small pink cubes wrapped in old-fashioned, end-twisted candy papers. Instead of plowing through the chocolates and taffies, throw a big gob of the gum in your mouth. The chewing suppresses cravings, and each piece has only about 15 calories. 
SURVIVAL TIP #6: Don’t hand out your favorite candy
If your favorite candy is Milk Duds, and you’re handing out Milk Duds all night, doesn’t it seem likely that you’re going to wind up with a pound of chocolate and caramel in your stomach by night’s end? Of course! And that’s not even factoring in how many Duds you’ll plow through as they sit on the counter in the days leading up to Halloween. Choose something less tempting.

Brach’s Milk Maid Caramels (4 pieces)
160 calories 4.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated) 16 g sugars
"Milk Maid” sounds a lot like "Milk Made,” doesn't it? Very clever, Brach's! This candy contains a couple milk derivatives (whey and “lipolyzed butter fat”), but it hardly constitutes a dairy product. Plus, 90 percent of the fat is saturated. That’s bad news for your heart. If you enjoy the challenge of fighting chewy candy out of your teeth, switch over to Now and Later and save more than 100 calories per serving.  Eat This, Instead!  Now and Later (4 pieces)
53 calories 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated) 10 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #7: Keep the candy-calorie load to 400
The fewer calories you take in during candy season, the better off you’ll be heading into turkey season. So if you worry that you risk overindulgence, set a caloric limit and hold yourself to it. Four hundred is a good number—indulgent yet not overly destructive. That means you could eat every “Eat This Instead” on our list, and have 65 calories left for one of your personal favorites. 

SURVIVAL TIP #8: Don’t skip dinner
A healthy dinner will take the edge off your candy craving, not to mention temper the blood-sugar rush that converts your body into a flab factory and puts you at risk for diabetes. What you want is a meal rich with fiber and lean protein—think chicken breast with vegetables. 

Reese’s Pumpkin 
170 calories 10 g fat (3 g saturated) 16 g sugars

This one should send your gimmick radar into the red zone. It’s simply an oversized peanut butter cup shaped like a pumpkin. What price novelty? Nearly two-thirds more calories than a regular Reese’s peanut butter cup! Grab two bite-size Reese's instead—you'll save more than half the calories, fat, and sugar. Eat This, Instead! Reese's Bite Size Peanut Butter Cups (2 pieces)
72 calories 4 g fat (3 g saturated) 6 g sugars

SURVIVAL TIP #9: Take it outside
The worst thing you can do on Halloween night, after most of the trick-or-treaters have cleared off the street, is set your candy bowl by the door where you can grab a handful every day on your way out. Noshing 300 extra candy calories a day will add a pound of flab to your frame in less than two weeks. Instead, set the bowl on the porch before you go to bed. The leftover candy will be gone by morning, guaranteed. 

SURVIVAL TIP #10: Remember: Halloween is a one-day event
A study in the journal of Nature Neuroscience found that eating junk food doesn’t just satisfy cravings—it creates them. That’s right; junk food is addictive. Limit your sugar.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

An important way to fight breast cancer is to be aware of how your breasts normally look and feel, and know what changes to look for. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. But knowing what to look for is not a substitute for screening mammograms and other tests, which can help find breast cancer in its early stages, even before any symptoms appear.
Below are some common breast symptoms and what they might mean. If you have any of them, get checked right away.
A lump in your breast
A lump or mass in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Such lumps are often hard and painless, though some may be painful. Not all lumps are cancer, though. There are a number of benign breast conditions (like cysts) that can also cause lumps. Still, it’s important to have your doctor check out any new lump or mass right away. If it does turn out to be cancer, the sooner it’s diagnosed the better.
Swelling in or around your breast, collarbone, or armpit
Breast swelling can be caused by inflammatory breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Swelling or lumps around your collarbone or armpits can be caused by breast cancer that has spread to lymph nodes in those areas. The swelling may occur even before you can feel a lump in your breast, so if you have this symptom, be sure to see a doctor.
Skin thickening or redness
If the skin of your breast starts to feel like an orange peel or gets red, have it checked right away. Often, these are caused by mastitis, a breast infection common among women who are breast feeding. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. If your symptoms don’t improve after a week, though, get checked again, because these symptoms can also be caused by inflammatory breast cancer. This form of breast cancer can look a lot like a breast infection, and because it grows quickly it’s important to diagnose it as soon as possible.
Breast warmth and itching
Like skin thickening and redness, breast warmth and itching may be symptoms of mastitis – or inflammatory breast cancer. If antibiotics don’t help, see your doctor again.
Nipple changes
Breast cancer can sometimes cause changes to how your nipple looks. If your nipple turns inward, or the skin on it thickens or gets red or scaly, get checked by a doctor right away. All of these can be symptoms of breast cancer.
Nipple discharge
A discharge (other than milk) from the nipple may be alarming, but in most cases it is caused by injury, infection, or a benign tumor (not cancer). Breast cancer is a possibility, though, especially if the fluid is bloody, so your doctor needs to check it out.
Although most breast cancers do not cause pain in the breast, some do. More often, women have breast pain or discomfort that is related to their menstrual cycle. This type of pain is most common in the week or so before their periods, and often goes away once menstruation begins. Some other benign breast conditions, such as mastitis, may cause a more sudden pain. In these cases the pain is not related to the menstrual cycle. If you have breast pain that is severe or persists and is not related to the menstrual cycle, you should be checked by your doctor. You could have cancer or a benign condition that needs to be treated.
Again, while benign breast conditions are much more common than breast cancer, it is important to let your health care team know about any changes in your breast so they can be checked out right away.

Friday, October 2, 2015

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Once a month adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.  Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.

While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

How should a breast self-exam be performed?

Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match —few women's breasts do, so look for any  dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Farewell Dr. Cruz

Our family here at Total Family Healthcare offers their best wishes to Dr. Edgar Cruz as he embarks on his new endeavor of opening his own medical practice. During the next 3 months, Dr. Cruz will be transitioning to a new location here in Clermont, Florida. His last day of employment with Total Family Healthcare was September 18th, 2015. The credentialing process can be lengthy and tedious, but if you would like to locate Dr. Cruz in the near future, please call (586) 322-6240.

Here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.

Where is Dr. Cruz Going?
Dr. Cruz has decided to open his own family medicine practice here in Clermont, the location for his practice has not been chosen yet but we can let you know as soon as he tells us.

Why is Dr. Cruz leaving Total Family Healthcare?
Dr. Cruz has decided to open his own family medicine practice here in Clermont where he can integrate his professional talents with his Christian and Biblical values and principles.

How will I be able to find Dr. Cruz when he leaves Total Family Healthcare?
He has given (586) 322-6240 as a contact number.

What if I have outstanding labs or need a prescription refill?
Don't worry, nothing has changed, all outing labs or orders will still be sent to Total Family Healthcare and placed in your medical chart. You will be notified if you need to follow-up with a provider. Prescription refills work the same way, visit your patient portal and submit a refill request or just give us a call (352) 394-4237.

How can I transfer my records from Total Family Healthcare to Dr. Cruz's new office?
That's easy, just go to your patient portal fill out a medical records request form and the records will be sent directly to his new office once he has given us a location.

What insurances will Dr. Cruz accept?
Dr. Cruz is currently in the credentialing process with all the major carriers, you can check with his new office by calling (586) 322-6240.

Do I have to follow Dr. Cruz to his new location?
No, you always have the right to see any healthcare provider you like. If you would like to remain a patient of Total Family Healthcare our other providers will be happy to see you.

Do I have to leave Total Family Healthcare?
No, you always have the right to see any healthcare provider you like. If you would like to remain a patient of Total Family Healthcare our other providers will be happy to see you.

What if I don't want to follow Dr. Cruz or stay at Total Family Healthcare?
You always have the right to see any healthcare provider you like. If you would like your medical records sent to another provider just go to your patient portal and fill out a medical records request form and the records will be sent directly to any providers office you request.

Total Family Healthcare will continue their commitment and support to all of our patients, as well as our community. Visit our website www.totalfamilyhealthcare.com if you would like to leave us a message or receive an invitation to sign-up for the patient portal. Or as always, please feel free to contact our office at (352) 394-4237, with any healthcare needs, questions, or concerns.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Use Family Meal Time to Fight Obesity

Remember when, if you wanted to get something to eat you were home by the time mom got the food on the table? Only about one-quarter of families with children sit down to dinner together every night. And it’s not just the family bond that’s being threatened: Children who don’t eat with their families are more likely to become obese later in life, according to a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers analyzed data from the Project Eating and Activity in Teens study, which tracked the dining habits and body mass index (BMI) of middle- and high-school students, then followed up again 10 years later when they were young adults. After a decade, more than half of the 2,117 study participants were overweight or obese — and their childhood frequency of family meals emerged as a significant factor in their weight-gain.

Specifically, the young adults who’d eaten just one or two family meals a week as kids were 45 percent less likely to be overweight, compared to those who never dined with their parents. Sitting down to three to four family meals per week reduced the kids’ odds of full-blown obesity by half.
What’s being served at those family sit downs may play a role. Past research has linked a higher frequency of family meals with greater intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; that may be because more forethought goes into family dinners. You sit down and think, ‘What could I serve?’, so you’re more likely to put a fruit and a vegetable on the table.

However, the study didn’t ask the kids what they were eating, so a family meal could have meant takeout. This means that other factors, like the family connection that mealtimes foster, are likely at play.  Family meals present a safe, predictable environment where you can talk with family members. That sense of stability may give kids a greater sense of control in daily life, helping them regulate their emotions, as well as their food intake.

And when dinner is grilled chicken and green beans? By watching parents eat — and enjoy — children may feel encouraged to do the same, even when they’re deciding what to eat on their own. Parents are modeling communication and how to connect with one another, as well as modeling healthy eating and recognizing satiety cues.

To make the most of your family meals, here are a few suggestions for turning dinnertime into an opportunity for healthy living:

Start small
Three or four weekly meals as a family are better than one or two—but if your schedule only allows Sunday night dinner, that’s a great place to start. Aim to make it a can’t-miss appointment by putting it on the calendar, and tell your kids (and spouse) it’s non-negotiable.

Think beyond dinner
Dinner is the classic time for togetherness, but it’s not the only way your family can connect over a meal. If breakfast or lunch is more convenient for your clan, consider making those mealtimes your family’s main focus.

Eliminate distractions
Banish smartphones, tablets, and TV’s from the table — that way, you can really focus on promoting conservation and connection. Dinner should be about interacting with the family…not catching up on emails or texting friends.

Stay positive
Save the serious discussions for another time. Try to make it a positive atmosphere; don’t use it as a place to lecture or vent about getting homework done. Have each family member share a high point for the day. That way, the experience is about connection, not discipline, and your kids will be more willing to come back to the table night after night.

Keep it together
No one eats alone!  So if your kid gets home late after practice, make a point to sit down with him or her during a meal, even if the rest of the family can’t join in.  That’s a great way to make the meal count as more than “just get food in the person”.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why it is Important to Bring Your Prescription Bottles to Your Office Appointment?

The best way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results.

Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, such as vitamins and herbs.  Do not assume that everyone has all the information they need. Bring all of your medicines and supplements to your doctor visits. "Brown bagging" your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date and help you get better quality care. Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines. This can help you to avoid getting a medicine that could harm you.

Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both when your medicines are prescribed and when you get them:
  • What is the medicine for?
  • How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
  • What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
  • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
  • What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  • When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
  • Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause. If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does or if something unexpected happens.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The phones are not working in the office right now. Bright House is working on the problem and will restore service as soon as possible. If you need to reach us during this time please log-on to the patient portal to send us a message.

 Here is a link to the portal: https://totalfamilyhealthcare.secure.force.com/portal

Monday, May 18, 2015

In Observance of This Memorial Day Our Office will be Closed on May 25th.

     In observance of this Memorial Day our office will be closed on May 25th.  

      Please plan ahead to request any prescription refills prior to this time. Our physicians will be “On Call” to address any of your non-emergency health care issues that cannot wait until the office reopens on May 26th.

      We would like to wish you and your families a   safe and  happy Memorial Day.

      Dr. Edgar Cruz, Dr. Cara Jakob and the entire staff of
Total Family Healthcare.

Friday, May 15, 2015

High Blood Pressure & Hypertension, What is it And Why You Should Care!

                We have all likely heard of high blood pressure, or "hypertension", at some point in our lives. Our grandmother may have been taking blood pressure medicines. We may have checked our own blood pressures out of curiosity at those little machines at our local pharmacy.  Or, perhaps our own doctor has mentioned high blood pressure to us.

                But, what exactly is high blood pressure, and why such a big deal about it?  Let's start with some numbers. High blood pressure, or "hypertension," is defined as repeated blood pressure above 140/90mmHg. Normal blood pressure is blood pressure up to 120/80mmHg.  The blood pressures in between 120/80-140/90mmHg are considered "pre-hypertension."

                How do these numbers affect our health?  According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the current leading cause of death in the United States.  About one third of all deaths above age 35 is due to heart disease, and hypertension is a major risk factor in the development of heart disease. ypertension also increases risk for stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

                Just imagine trying to water your lawn using a garden hose that has a kink in it. You'll be working harder and struggling to push the water past the high pressure in the hose, and those flowers in your garden will suffer from the poor supply of water coming through. That is a simplified version of the way our hearts are working to pump blood through our arteries to feed our body's organs like the brain, eyes, kidneys, etc. With hypertension, our vital organs are suffering the damages of a high pressure system.

 The good news is that healthy lifestyle changes like regular exercise, lower sodium diet, and weight loss can significantly lower blood pressure, thereby decreasing the risk for stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

                Aerobic exercise regularly can lower blood pressure by 5-15mmHg, and the intensity of the workout is more important than its duration. An easy way to improve our diet to a lower sodium diet is to limit or cut out the processed foods and canned foods. Eating fresh foods, and preparing your own meals can help reduce that excess salt in our diet. As for weight loss, there are many benefits to reaching a healthy weight, and better blood pressure is one major benefit. Every few pounds we lose can improve our blood pressure by as many points. Some people may also need medications to treat their hypertension and its risks.

                Now that we know more about hypertension, let's be on the lookout for it, and take healthy steps to help combat it. Talk with your doctor about your blood pressures and whether you have hypertension. Together, you can develop an individual health plan to keep you at your best.

Friday, May 8, 2015

What Your Body is Telling You About Your Diet

When your body is trying to tell you something — for example, that you’re skimping on critical vitamins — it may go to some strange lengths.  Check out these unusual vitamin-deficiency warning signs. The good news: Most are fixable with dietary tweaks — all the more reason to make nutrition a top priority. When food cures don’t work, be sure to check in with your doctor.
Cracks at the corners of your mouth.

Deficiency: Iron, zinc, and B vitamins like niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and B12.
It’s common if you’re a vegetarian to not get enough iron, zinc, and B12; or if you’re skimping on essential immunity-building protein due to dieting.

Solution: Eat more poultry, salmon, tuna, eggs, oysters, clams, sun-dried tomatoes, Swiss chard, tahini, peanuts, and legumes like lentils. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C, which also helps fight infection, so combine these foods with veggies like broccoli, red bell peppers, kale, and cauliflower.
Red, scaly rash on your face (and sometimes elsewhere) and hair loss.

Deficiency: Biotin (B7), known as the hair vitamin.
While your body stores fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), it doesn’t store most B vitamins, which are water-soluble. Body builders take note: Eating raw eggs makes you vulnerable, because a protein in raw eggs called avidin inhibits the body’s ability to absorb biotin.

Solution: Reach for more cooked eggs (cooking deactivates avidin), salmon, avocados, mushrooms, cauliflower, soybeans, nuts, raspberries, and bananas.
Red or white acnelike bumps, typically on the cheeks, arms, thighs and butt.

Deficiency: Essential fatty acids and vitamins A and D.
Solution: Skimp on saturated fat and trans fats, which you should be doing anyway, and increase healthy fats. Focus on adding more salmon and sardines, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and seeds like ground flax, hemp, and chia. For vitamin A, pile on leafy greens and colorful veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers. This provides beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which your body will use to make vitamin A. For vitamin D, though, we recommend a supplement—5,000 IU a day in one that also contains vitamins A and K, which help with D absorption.
Tingling, prickling, and numbness in hands, feet or elsewhere.

Deficiency: B vitamins like folate (B9), B6, and B12.
It’s a problem directly related to the peripheral nerves and where they end in the skin these symptoms can be combined with anxiety, depression, anemia, fatigue, and hormone imbalances.

Solution: Seek out spinach, asparagus, beets, beans (pinto, black, kidney, lima), eggs, octopus, mussels, clams, oysters, and poultry.
Muscle cramps in the form of stabbing pains in toes, calves, arches of feet, and backs of legs.

Deficiency: Magnesium, calcium, and potassium. If it’s happening frequently, it’s a tip-off that you’re lacking in these. And if you’re training hard, you can lose more minerals (and water-soluble B vitamins) through heavy sweating.

Solution: Eat more bananas, almonds, hazelnuts, squash, cherries, apples, grapefruit, broccoli, bok choy, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and dandelion.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Get Ready for Cinco de Mayo!

  Being from Florida I have always had a lot of Spanish speaking friends. Growing up in a small orange producing town, many were from Mexico and I was able to celebrate the holiday Cinco de Mayo, The 5th Of May, with their families.  This commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16. There was always a lot of music and dancing, but the best the part was always the food!

       Substituting lower calorie ingredients for high calorie ingredients is one of the best ways I know to live healthy and not feel like you are missing out on life. Here are a few recipes for you to try this Cinco de Mayo to help cut some of the fat and calories a party can put on you.


Easy, Taste Good Substitutions

  • Replace regular sour cream with reduced fat sour cream or Greek yogurt.
  • Replace milk cheese with cheese made from 2% milk.
  • Replace fried (hard) taco shell with soft, low-carb tortillas.
  • Replace ground beef with meatless, chicken or even better fish tacos! At the very least drain the fat off the ground beef. Who wants a soggy taco anyway?


Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Stay Healthy on Vacation

Traveling can be really stressful on your body and on your relationship with the people you are traveling with. Restless nights in unfamiliar hotels, the “I can eat it, I’m on Vacation” diet your about to adopt and the “We have to see everything” timetable can really take a toll on you. Not to mention being locked up in a car or plane for hours on end with billions of everyone else’s germs.

Surprisingly, hotels can be more detrimental to one’s immune system than the health risks associated with flying. Vacationers tend to go to bed late, wake up early and get less than seven hours of sleep a night. This triples the risk of getting a common cold. Lumpy hotel beds and extra firm pillows will also disrupt sleep.

Families and individuals on vacation also tend to consume foods that they normally would not if cooking at home – pizza, ice cream, candy, junk food – and that means a vacation diet that’s high in sugar and low in vitamins and minerals. Sugar has been shown to weaken the white blood cells that attack pernicious bacteria. Don’t cancel that planned trip to the beach or Europe so fast, here are a few recommendations for how to beat a cold and ward off any sickness when traveling.

You should start taking 2,000 milligrams of Vitamin C each day to strengthen the immune system as well as snacking on foods that are high in probiotics (the “good” bacteria). Probiotics are found in yogurt, Kombucha tea, miso soup, Kefir, fermented cabbage (like sauerkraut and Kimchi) and tempeh. They are also available as an over the counter supplement in capsule form. For little ones who may have difficulty swallowing supplements, foods that are rich in Vitamin C include oranges, red pepper, kale, strawberries, broccoli, kiwi and guava. Don’t forget to get plenty of sleep as well.

It’s still important to continue your Vitamin C routine usage when on vacation. Zinc lozenges are easy to pack and help support the immune system and works best when taken at the first sign of illness. You might even consider bring a mask to wear next to the guy with a fever on the plane. Hand sanitizer is also a must, use it frequently and defiantly before eating or drinking anything. You would be surprised how dirty door handles and money are!

If you’re reading this in bed because you’re home sick, leave your air-conditioned house or apartment right now for at least 30 minutes. Direct sunlight helps the liver produce Vitamin D3, which improves bone health and enables the body to build up its stock of antimicrobial peptides, which fight off a wide range of infections. The sun is one of the best ways to prevent a cold and so important for getting over one.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What is Autism?

Autism is a disorder that is prevalent but still widely misunderstood. To the uninformed, this condition may be seen simply as a problem with behavior and socialization, but it’s actually much more complicated and serious than this.

It’s estimated that about 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with some form of autism today, which is an increase of more than 100% since the condition became well-known in medical literature during the 1940s. Because of this, it’s critically important that people have a solid understanding of how this disorder works and how it can be treated. The following overview will help to acquaint you with the basics of autism—including official terminology for the condition, what causes it, and what symptoms to look for in children.

Since the creation of the diagnosis, researchers have significantly changed the ways that they think and speak about autism. Before the publication of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was published in 2013, psychologists had a number of distinct diagnoses for different disorders that affected social and communicative abilities. However, with the advent of the DSM-5, these disorders are now grouped together under the category of autism spectrum disorder (sometimes shortened to just autism spectrum or ASD). This reclassification acknowledges the fact that autism does not affect every individual in the same way. Instead, this approach conceptualizes different levels or types of autism that are different but still intimately related.

Autism Causes

Autism research is still not able to provide a definitive answer as to what actually causes autism, but the general consensus is that there is no singular reason for its existence. However, scientists have been able to propose several different potential factors that may be responsible. These include everything from genetics to environmental factors during prenatal development. Here is a look at some of the more common and widely supported causes that have been put forward.

•Genetics: There is some evidence to indicate that children with certain genetic disorders may be more prone to developing autism. Two of these potentially related disorders include Rett Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome—both of which cause the brain to develop abnormally and create physical and intellectual disabilities.

•Environmental Factors: It’s also been hypothesized that autism may be caused by environmental factors that occur either before or after birth. Being exposed to certain viral diseases, especially rubella, in the womb can adversely affect a child’s brain development and puts them at a higher risk for autism and other developmental or psychiatric disorders. It’s also been proposed that fetal exposure to grain alcohol may increase the risk for autism. However, the link between the two has not been established as strongly the link between virus exposure and autism. Similarly, lead poisoning and vitamin D deficiencies have been proposed as possible factors influencing the development of autism after birth, but more research is needed to confirm these hypotheses.

It’s important to note that vaccines (especially the MMR vaccine) have been put forth by some as a possible cause of autism. However, research surrounding this issue has been unable to establish a link between the two and has come under scrutiny for being unduly manipulated. To date, there has been only one published study arguing that vaccination causes autism. This study was authored by Andrew Wakefield and published in The Lancet, a medical research journal. However, the journal later retracted the publication after it was discovered that Wakefield had received funds from an organization looking  for harmful evidence to use against manufacturers of vaccines.

Autism Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of autism can range from mild to severe, depending on a person’s individual case, but most center around difficulties with social interaction and communication.
From a social standpoint, people with autism often have difficulty developing the ability to sustain healthy, normal relationships. This includes things like an inability to maintain eye contact or read facial expressions and other body language. Additionally, people with autism often have difficulty relating to the interests of their peers, and they may also have difficulty feeling empathy for people experiencing negative emotions like sadness or pain.

Communication is also an issue for people with autism. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 40% of people with the disorder never speak at all. If a person does speak, he or she often has a preoccupation with certain words or phrases that they may repeat over and over again—a phenomenon known as echolalia. Additionally, autism makes initiating and continuing conversations very difficult, and people are often unable to recognize when others use devices like humor or irony in their communications.

Because many of the symptoms associated with autism revolve around talking and other forms of communication, it can often be difficult to recognize the signs in young children—who normally have communication difficulties. For this reason, autism is normally diagnosed after the age of 3, even though in some cases it may be present from birth. Additionally, if symptoms are mild enough, parents may not even realize that their child has autism for many years, if ever.

Autism Treatments

There is no cure for autism, but there are still treatments available that can help people manage their symptoms. Deciding on specific treatments will depend on a person’s unique case and the severity of his or her symptoms.

Behavioral training is one of the most common tools used to help people with autism develop communication and interpersonal skills. This approach can take many forms, but it generally focuses around using positive reinforcement and observation to help children thrive in social environments. For example, students with only mild forms of autism may be placed in a traditional classroom setting and encouraged to observe their peers as examples to model their own behavior on. If a child’s problems are significant enough, he or she may also work with a specialist one-on-one, sometimes for up to 40 hours a week.

Medication is not used to treat autism directly, but it may be used in order to address other problems associated with the disorder—such as depression, hyperactivity, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, this approach is typically viewed as less preferable than addressing a person’s issues with behavioral therapy.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's Almost Summer Time, That Means Sunscreen!!

OK, the Australian’s beat us at another thing besides “football”, that’s soccer to us Americans. They are incredibly good at the prevention and identification of skin cancer. Did you know that one American dies from melanoma every hour? This is a  tragic rate since this cancer is curable when caught early. By now, you should know that you should use sunscreen every day both to help reduce your risk of skin cancer and to prevent pesky wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of premature aging (This alone is reason enough to use sunscreen, I might be feeling older, but I don’t have to look it!). The good news is that there are many things you can do to protect against skin cancer. Here are some of the best ways to stay safe.

Don’t wait until you're outside to apply sunscreen
How many people have you seen get to the beach, spread out their blankets, strip down to their swimsuits, and then start slathering away?  You actually want to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes prior to exposure. That way, it has time to get absorbed and start working! Skin cancer can strike anywhere, especially since rays can still penetrate the fabric of a one-piece, particularly if it's an older suit that's wearing thin. So it's best to apply sunscreen when you're buck naked. Otherwise, if you already have a swimsuit or clothing on, you're likely to apply it sparingly so you don't get it on your clothes, which makes you likely to miss a spot or not apply liberally enough. Strip down in front of a full-length mirror,  this helps ensure you entirely cover tricky spots like the mid-back and backs of the legs. Have your partner or a friend do your back, from the tops of shoulders on down. The most commonly missed areas are toes and feet, including the bottoms of your feet; underarms; back of the neck under the hairline; ears, especially the tops and back of your ears; eyelids; and inner upper arms. Put that stuff everywhere!

Don’t forget to protect your lips
Just like the rest of your skin, lips are vulnerable to UV rays, so it's extremely important to use sunscreen on your lips. But don't use the same stuff you use on the rest of your body—it tastes weird and won't last that long on your lips anyway. So try a lip balm with SPF, which is thicker so it stays on longer. Then reapply even more frequently than you do body sunscreen, since talking, eating, and drinking removes the sunscreen on your lips faster.

Reapply, You can sweat or rinse it all off!
The small print on your sunscreen label matters, so make sure you're choosing the right sunscreen for your activity, especially if that activity involves sweat, a pool, or the ocean. Make sure you get a water-resistant formulation for swimming or activities where you'll perspire, because non-water-resistant formulas can slide right off. Plus, they tend to migrate into eyes and sting, whereas water-resistant ones won't. Manufacturers can’t make claims that sunscreens are water-proof or sweat-proof, but they can claim their product is “water-resistant” for up to 80 minutes in still (not moving) water. That’s the highest claim allowed in the United States. However,  Remember those Australian’s we talked about earlier? Their standards are for 240 minutes in whirlpool water. That’s four hours of continual coverage in 105 degree moving water. We rarely endorse a product, but we have been using Blue Lizard Australian® Sunscreen for years and it is awesome. It is hard to find in the stores but you can find it online or on our website. Yes it is more expensive, but it is definitely worth it. We have some free samples in the office if you would like to try it.

Don’t only use it when it's nice out
Danger! It may seem counter intuitive to slather on sunscreen on a gray or drizzly day, but you can get UV exposure without ever seeing the sun in the sky. Eighty percent of UV rays still come through on cloudy days, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, so don't let the weather affect your sunscreen use. Seeking solace under a beach umbrella or an awning near the pool doesn't mean you're getting adequate protection from the sun. Why? Sand and water both reflect damaging rays, and 34% of UV radiation gets through when you're under a beach umbrella, so you still have to apply sunscreen if you're sitting under cover. Even if you don't get a sunburn, you're still getting UV exposure. Also, unless you choose to spend your time in a windowless bunker, you're not protected from UV rays when you're inside. Driving can be a major source of incidental exposure. The windows and windshield block UVB rays so you don't see a sunburn, but UVA seeps right in, and that's the spectrum that causes most skin aging and skin cancer. Your best bet is to apply sunscreen every morning, then feel free to sit by a window or take a drive! At the very least, try a moisturizer with SPF so you're not adding a step to your daily routine.

Use a broad-spectrum formula with a 30 SPF
It used to be that many sunscreens only blocked UVB rays, the high-energy kind responsible for sunburns. But shielding against UVA rays is just as important because they penetrate the skin more deeply, are constant throughout the year, and cause premature aging. To be fully covered, look for sunscreens labeled "broad spectrum," which means they for both types of rays.
Yes, tanning oil with SPF 8 technically is sunscreen, but it's just not enough protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15. That’s great if you want to put it on every 20 minutes. But should you go higher? Some say the often, pricier, high-SPF sunscreens are a waste of money, since they don't provide much more protection—SPF 30 blocks 97% of rays, while SPF 50 blocks just 1% more. The super-high SPFs can provide a false sense of security, like you're protected for longer, but you need to reapply just as often as you would an SPF 30.

Don’t forget to protect your eyes
Sunglasses aren't just a fashion statement—they're critical to keeping your eyes safe from UV rays. Make sure your sunglasses offer UV protection, because some inexpensive styles don't have the protective coating. Without it, the dark lenses actually allow your pupils to dilate, allowing even more UV rays in, which can play a big role in cataract development. Finally, a health reason to buy a pair of nice shades!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Time to Apply for the Buddy McKay Scholarship!

Students brought home a letter from school this month notifying the parents that it is time to apply for the Buddy McKay Scholarships for the next school year. If you child has an IEP or a 504 education plan you have until July to apply for first semester payments for the 2015-2016 school year. If you suspect that your child needs special accommodations to reach their learning potential it is still not too late to have them tested. Get your child the help they need. Here is the link to apply:


Friday, January 16, 2015

Remember Your New Years Resolution

The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people create New Year's Resolutions. A new year often feels like a fresh start, a great opportunity to eliminate bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep and by the end of January many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns. Here are a few tips to help you review your resolution and keep it.

Choose a Specific, Realistic Goal 
Every year, millions of adults resolve to "lose weight" or "get in shape" during the next year. Instead of selecting such an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on. For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds or running a mini-marathon. Choosing a concrete, achievable goal also gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish your goal over the course of the year.

Pick Just One Resolution 
While you might have a long list of potential New Year's Resolutions, you should pick just one and focus your energies on it rather than spreading yourself too thin among a number of different objectives.

Plan to Succeed
Planning is an essential part of achieving any goal. Experts suggest that you should spend some time planning out how you will tackle a major behavior change. You can start by writing down your goal, making a list of things you might do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way.

Start With Small Steps 
Taking on too much is a common reason why so many New Year's Resolutions fail. Dramatically slashing calories, over-doing it at the gym, or radically altering your normal behavior are sure-fire ways to derail your plans. Instead, focus on taking tiny steps that will ultimately help you reach your goal.

If you've resolved to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing some of your favorite junk foods with more nutritious foods. While it may seem like a slow start, these small changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of long-term success.

Avoid Repeating Past Failures 
Another strategy for keeping your New Year's Resolution is to not make the exact same resolution year after year. If people think they can do it they probably can, but if they've already tried and failed, their self-belief will already be low.

If you do choose to reach for the same goals you've tried for in the past, spend some time evaluating your previous results. Which strategies were the most effective? Which were the least effective? What has prevented you from keeping your resolution in past years? By changing your approach, you will be more likely to see real results this year.

Remember That Change Is a Process 
Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months? It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember that this is not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behavior, it is something that you will continue to work on for the rest of your life.

Don't Let Small Stumbles Bring You Down 
Encountering a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year's Resolutions. If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, don't view it as a failure. The path toward your goal is not a straight one and there are always going to be challenges. Instead, view relapses as learning opportunities.

If you are keeping a resolution journal, write down important information about when the relapse occurred and what might have triggered it. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future.

Get Support from Your Friends and Family 
Yes, you've probably heard this advice a million times, but that is because the buddy system actually works. Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. Explain what your goals are to your close friends or family and ask them to help you achieve your objectives. Better yet, enlist the help of others by joining a group that shares your goal.

Renew Your Motivation 
During the first days of a New Year's Resolution, you will probably feel confident and highly motivated to reach your goal. Because you haven't really faced any discomfort or temptation associated with changing your behavior, making this change might seem all too easy.

After dealing with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 A.M. or gritting your teeth through headaches brought on by nicotine withdrawal, your motivation to keep your New Year's Resolution will probably start to dwindle. When you face such moments, remind yourself of exactly why you are doing this. What do you have to gain by achieving your goal? Find sources of inspiration that will keep you going when times get tough.

Keep Working on Your Goals 
By February, many people have lost that initial spark of motivation that they felt immediately after making their New Year's Resolution. Keep that inspiration alive by continuing to work on your goals, even after facing setbacks. If your current approach is not working, reevaluate your strategies and develop a new plan.

Consider keeping a resolution journal, where you can write about your successes and struggles. Write down the reasons why you are working toward your goal so that you can refer to them during times when you feel uninspired and unmotivated. By sticking with it and working on your goal all year long, you can be one of the few able to say that you really did keep your New Year's Resolution.
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