Go Green: 5 Healthy Leafy Vegetables

Friday, July 24, 2015 7:51 AM comments (0)

Healthy Leafy VegetablesLeafy greens, those delicious garnishes, salads, and side dishes, are packed with many of the most important nutrients needed to feel and stay healthy. They provide vitamins and minerals, as well as a good helping of fiber to strengthen your body and help to prevent future diseases. 

It is recommended that women eat 1.5 cups per week and men eat 2 cups per week. The good news is that each of these greens has less than 100 calories and packs a nutritional punch with plenty of vitamins A, C and K, along with minerals like iron and calcium. You can begin to improve the strength of your immune system, the functions of your organs and more just by adding these vegetables into your diet.

Geeta Maker-Clark, MD at NorthShore shares some of the best leafy greens options for your diet to maximize nutrition and boost your health:

  • Kale. This green has become a superstar in the world of nutrition for all of its health benefits. It’s high in Vitamins A and C as well, with plenty of fiber and antioxidants. These work to improve your metabolism and digestion, as well as battle inflammation, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 
  • Collard Greens. A staple for many families, this green is rich in Vitamin K (over 100% of your daily levels per serving), which strengthens bones and can help to slow the damage of disease like Alzheimer’s.  With its carbohydrate and protein count, collard greens make a great post-workout snack. 
  • Chard. This colorful green is filled with antioxidants that fight eye degeneration and malnutrition, and iron that improves blood flow regulation, making it a very healthy resource for diabetics. As another great source of Vitamin K (over 300% of your daily levels per serving) and calcium, chard works to stimulate healthy bone growth.
  • Spinach. What can't spinach do? It’s a strong mix of vitamins helps your body fight infections and disease, while strengthening your skin, bones and vision. It’s also a favorite when it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids, which help your memory and lowers the risk of life threatening disease.
  • Bok Choy. If you’re in the mood for Chinese, make sure you get some of this cabbage that’s rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin K with 72% of your daily requirement per serving, including strong antioxidants with the potential to help prevent forms of cancer, improve your immune system, and fight brain shrinkage.

How do you fit leafy greens into your daily servings of vegetables?


Know Your Skin: Acne Myths vs. Facts

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 10:35 AM comments (0)

Acne Myths and FactsDo you remember how you handled your last acne breakout? There are dozens of products on the market to choose from, as well as more and more home remedies that promise to make pimples disappear fast. In reality, a lot of these products and techniques are incorrect. Even though approximately 40 to 50 million people affected by acne just within the United States alone, knowledge about the condition still varies. There are still several misconceptions and myths about acne and treatment that many people still believe to be true.

Shani Francis, MD, Dermatology at NorthShore, is helping to dispel these myths so that patients can focus on what’s really best when it comes to their skin:

Myth: Only teenagers get acne.
Fact: Approximately 25% of adult men and 50% of adult women suffer from some form of acne. The causes can range from fluctuating hormones (which can be related to menopause, pregnancy, menstruation or stress), medication or face and hair products. Adult acne, just like any other, can be managed with a proper skincare routine, including daily sun protection, and help from a dermatologist.

Myth: Acne is caused entirely by genetics.
Fact: While genetics does play a role in how acne develops, there are also lifestyle changes you can make to control your breakouts. Staying hydrated, maintaining a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep and avoiding surfaces with germs are some of the ways you can avoid acne-causing bacteria, increased oil production within the skin and hormonal imbalances that can cause pimples. Newer research has also linked spikes in blood sugar to some acne outbreaks, which could indicate that lower carbohydrate diets are better to help control flares.

Myth: Tanning can clear or prevent acne breakouts, while sunscreen clogs pores.
Fact: Just the opposite. Excessive tanning of any kind is harmful to the skin, and is also particularly irritating to acne. The exposure to UV rays will really dry skin out, which can actually lead to future breakouts. On the other hand, many sunscreens (made to reflect UV rays) contain zinc oxide, which fights against the bacteria which causes acne. There are, however, some sunscreens that can irritate acne, so it’s important to do your research to find the best products for your skin. Generally, sunscreens labeled as “oil free” or “non-comedogenic” will be best. Everyone’s skin is unique, so it may be necessary to try several before finding the right one. Some companies even have products with SPF, makeup AND acne medication.

Myth: Acne is caused by dirt or grease that hasn’t been washed off properly.
Fact: Acne starts from within the skin and takes time to form; blackheads and whiteheads occur when glands within the skin produce too much oil and/or become clogged within the pore along with acne-causing bacteria and dead skin cells. When the keratin protein (from the dead skin cells) builds up in the pores and is exposed to air, it turns black, becoming a blackhead, while build up within the pore that isn’t exposed becomes a whitehead.

Myth: Washing the skin several times a day with skin products is the best way to fight acne.
Fact: Washing your face too much can rob your skin of the natural oils it’s producing, which may cause it to create more, and could potentially leading to more breakouts. The same can be said for using harsh scrubs, exfoliates and toners with an alcohol base. You can prevent dryness and irritation by gently washing your face no more than twice a day. A dermatologist can help you determine which skin products and treatments will work best for your skin type.

Myth: Popping pimples helps get rid of acne faster.
Fact: Popping a pimple before it’s fully formed will risk pushing the bacteria further into your skin and spreading it to other unaffected areas of your face. Along with spreading the infection, popping your pimples may also lead to permanent skin damage and scarring. It’s best to let the pimple heal, which should normally take about a week or two. In darker skin, pimple popping can also worsen discoloration, which without medication can take several months to resolve.

What's the most surprising fact about acne that you've learned?


Six Surprising Sources of Calcium

Thursday, July 16, 2015 1:22 PM comments (0)

Non Dairy Sources of CalciumCalcium is an essential nutrient—it builds strong bones and keeps your body working like it should—but what do you do when you can’t or don’t want to drink a glass of milk? There are lots of healthy, non-dairy ways to meet your calcium needs.

Kimberly Hammon, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, shares six surprising sources of calcium:

  • Oranges. Long renowned for their high concentration of vitamin C and immune system’s best friend, antioxidants, oranges happen to be pretty high in calcium too. Just one large orange has 74 mg of calcium. What about orange juice? Orange juice does have calcium but less than an orange and it’s much higher in calories, so stick with the real thing.  However, you can get fortified orange juice with about 300 mg of calcium.  
  • Green Things. Collard greens, kale and broccoli all serve up hefty amounts of calcium—268, 101 and 43 mgs per cup respectively—but they also come equipped with high doses of other important vitamins too. Collard greens have more than three days of your daily required intake of vitamin A; broccoli contains more vitamin C than an orange; and kale, currently the world’s trendiest superfood, packs a full day’s worth of vitamin C into its leafy greens.
  • Fish. Salmon and sardines are a great way to meet your daily required intake of calcium and protein. Wild salmon can put a pretty big dent in a monthly grocery budget though. Canned salmon and sardines are affordable and can provide upwards of 230 to 300 mg of calcium per serving. As if that weren’t enough, both also are a great source of vitamin D, which is pretty difficult to get through food since it is known as the “sunshine” vitamin. 
  • Nuts. Sure, almonds are high in fat, but, it is the good kind, the heart-healthy kind. Plus, they are packed with 75 mg of calcium per ounce, which is about 20 whole almonds. So enjoy them … in moderation
  • Tofu. Everyone knows tofu is packed with protein, but did you know that it’s a great source of calcium too? In fact, just half a cup of tofu contains more calcium than one glass of skim milk.
  • Beans. Dried beans and peas range from 50 to 100 mg calcium in ½ cup serving.  They also provide good sources of fiber and protein. Soybeans have 130 mg in ½ cup serving. 

Do you get your daily required intake of calcium from a non-dairy source?

Note: The calcium in fortified foods varies greatly in its bioavailability (how well the body is able to absorb and use it), depending on the form of calcium used and how it’s affected by other substances in the food. Most studies have found that the calcium in fortified orange juice is as well utilized as that in milk. But few other calcium-fortified foods have been tested in terms of their bioavailability, and none have been tested for their effects on bone health.


Sleep Apnea: Symptoms and New Treatments

Monday, July 13, 2015 9:18 AM comments (0)

Sleep Apnea

More than 18 million American suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. Anthony Barber, DO, neurologist at the NorthShore Sleep Center, answers questions about the condition, some of the treatment options, and tips for how to best manage it:

What causes sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a collapse in the muscles in the back of the throat (upper portion of the airway) while asleep. This area is prone to collapse because it is held open only by muscle without any bony/solid structure. All of our muscles relax while asleep at night so a collapse occurs in all individuals, if the airway is crowded or narrowed to begin with then that collapse results in the blockage.

What are the most common signs for sleep apnea? Can it be caused by stress?
Stress cannot cause sleep apnea. Typical signs include sleepiness, un-refreshing sleep, morning headaches, trouble maintaining sleep, heart burn at night or morning, sweating while asleep. Sleep apnea can potentially result in hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and increased risk of dementia.

Can sleep apnea be cured or only managed?
The only true cure is a tracheostomy (creating a hole in the neck). Other structural surgeries may also result in a "cure", but this is only about 45% of the time. Significant weight loss may also result in getting rid of sleep apnea, but weight isn't the only cause, so it may result in only lowering the severity of the sleep apnea.

Can one (non-clinician) distinguish between snoring and apnea without doing a sleep study?
Not really, unless long pauses in the breathing are noted at night. Diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea centers on if breathing while asleep is causing dips in the blood oxygen levels and/or short awakenings (called arousals). These events need to average 5 or more per hour to meet criteria for sleep apnea.

What is involved in a sleep study? How long does it take? Does insurance generally cover it?
Insurance question depends on why the study is being ordered and dependent upon insurance plan. Two types of studies are performed. A lab study is when you come into a sleep lab at night (between 8:30 and 9:30 pm) and meet with a sleep tech who is in the lab the whole night. You have your own room with a normal bed (looks like a hotel room, kind of). You'll be hooked up to monitors on your scalp, with a belt around the waist and chest. There are a lot of wires that get plugged into a box outside of bed (box is moveable if you need to use restroom). You'll sleep until 6 am. The other type is a home study in which you pick up a device, take it home, and wear it while sleeping then bring back to the lab the next day. A home study is approved for certain patient populations, but is less sensitive.

What else is available for patients who do not like the cpap machines?
Alternatives to CPAP that insurance covers: an oral appliance (device worn while asleep that brings your lower jaw forward to help open back of airway), surgery (see above). Provent therapy is another option but not covered by insurance.


You can find more information about sleep apnea and how to get tested at the NorthShore Sleep Center.

Read more answers from Dr. Barber on sleep apnea in our Sleep Apnea Chat.


The Doctor Is In: The Importance of an Annual Physical Exam [Infographic]

Friday, July 10, 2015 11:10 AM comments (0)

In both sickness and health, it’s smart to have a primary care physician that you can check in with to help you feel your best. Whether it’s for tracking your weight and diet, managing a chronic illness or helping prevent disease, your primary care physician [at your annual physical exam] is your partner when it comes to your health. An annual physical exam is one of the most important preventative measures you can take to keep you and your family happy and healthy. 

NorthShore University HealthSystem has you covered when it comes to your annual physical exam. Our infographic below explains the benefits and importance of an annual physical examination. This infographic also provides you with quick tips so you can feel prepared and ready for your appointment. Click the image below to view the full infographic.

 Physical Infographic


Get Your Summer Sweat On: Tips for Safe Exercising

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 11:17 AM comments (0)

Get Your Summer Sweat On: Tips for Safe ExercisingWinter is long gone, and has taken all of the slippery ice and freezing temperatures along with it. The beautiful weather and temperatures of summertime are perfect for constant outdoor activity, making this season seem carefree when it comes to outdoor safety. But wait! Even though summer seems like the best time to exercise outdoors, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t hazards to be aware of. Working out in the heat and under the sun can be unsafe if you don’t take the necessary precautions. 

Michael Ladewski, DO, Sports and Family Medicine Physician at NorthShore, breaks down some of the key points you should think about when preparing a successful and mindful summer workout:

  • Stay hydrated. You want to avoid losing too much water and becoming dehydrated, which can lead to cramps, dizziness, headaches, and more. To prevent this, you’ll need to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. Drink 16-20 ounces of water four or more hours before your workout, and another 8 to 12 ounces 10 to 15 minutes before. While you work out, average 3 to 8 ounces for every 15 minutes you’re active. After your workout, find a scale to measure your current weight and drink another 20 to 24 ounces for each pound you lost. If at any point, your stomach feels full or water seems to be moving around, you do not need to continue drinking. Taking in too much water can cause hyponatremia, which majorly lowers the level of sodium in the body. Moderation is key.
  • Protect yourself. If you’re outdoors, wear light colors to reflect the sun better so your body won’t absorb as much heat. When out for long periods of time, wear  sunglasses and  a hat for added protection against sun exposure. You also can’t forget your sunscreen. Apply  1 ounce with SPF 15 or higher to your entire body (even on cloudy days) and give it 30 minutes to soak into your skin before heading out. It only takes 20 minutes of exposure for sun burn to occur. If you notice your skin starting to redden or blister, get out of the sun and apply wet towels to the affected area. Follow up with anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and swelling, and after-sun lotion (like aloe vera gel).
  • Choose your time wisely. The hottest time of the day is between 10AM and 4PM, so if you plan to exercise outside, do so in the early mornings or evenings. Lowered temperatures and less risk of sun exposure lessen your chances for overheating or getting burned. There are plenty of benefits to both as well. A morning workout will energize your metabolism for the rest of the day, but it can also help your appetite and sleep cycle, while an evening workout is a good time to work the muscles since the body temperature is at its highest, and muscles are at their most flexible.
  • Know your limits. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous, or extremely hot, stop. Find a cool place, get some fluid, and let your body recover. If you find yourself still feeling ill after 15 minutes, seek medical attention; it’s important not to ignore the potential onset of heat exhaustion or a heat stroke. Pay attention to the symptoms; a high body temperature of 104 degrees or more, nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating, rapid breathing, an increased pulse, and alterations to speech and your mental state are all signs that you’ve been exposed to the heat for too long.
  • Have options. When the weather is intense, find a gym, rec center, or even a public place like a mall to walk in. Don’t skimp on fitness just because the weather’s not on your side.

What is your favorite way to exercise in the summer?


Fresh Recipe: Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Summer Savory

Thursday, July 02, 2015 8:30 AM comments (0)

Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Summer SavoryThe 4th of July is approaching fast, which means it's time to prepare a big holiday meal. It's easy to forget nutrition when it comes to a celebration, but healthy meals can be just as delicious.

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares her recipe for cheesy potato gratin that's going to be a hit at your next summer bash.

Recipe makes 5 servings


Florets from ½ a medium-sized head of cauliflower (10oz)
1c milk
5 sprigs of summer savory (0.2oz)
1 clove of garlic, skin removed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 medium russet potatoes (14oz)
3oz of Gruyère cheese, grated
Cooking spray 


  • Preheat over to 400ºF.

To prepare the cauliflower puree

  • Steam the cauliflower florets in a large pot with a steamer basket or in the microwave until tender.
  • While preparing the cauliflower, combine the milk, summer savory, garlic, salt and pepper in a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame until the liquid is fragrant. Remove the summer savory and garlic, and discard.
  • Place the cauliflower and the savory infused milk in a food processor and blend until smooth.

To assemble and bake the gratin

  • Prepare an oven safe dish with cooking spray.
  • Peel the potatoes and slice them very thinly.
  • Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in the dish and top with some of the cauliflower puree. Continue to alternate between potato and cauliflower layers until all of the potato slices and puree have been used.
  • Top with grated Gruyère cheese
  • Bake until the potatoes are just tender and the top is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 182
Fat: 6g
Carbs: 22g
Protein: 4g
Fiber: 10g

To see a free live demonstration of this recipe, join us at the Chicago Botanic Gardens for their Garden Chef Series. Katrina will be recreating her recipe on Saturday, July 4th at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm, with samples!


The Signs: Basal Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer

Wednesday, July 01, 2015 11:05 AM comments (0)

Dr. Shani FrancisMelanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and requires an aggressive approach to treatment; however, melanomas are not the only type of skin cancer nor are they the most common. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), which originate in the basal cells, or the deepest layers of the epidermal skin, are the most common type of skin cancer. BCCs grow slowly and there is little risk that they will spread to other areas of the body. Yet, they should be taken seriously because treatment, if it comes too late, could require serious, often disfiguring surgeries and invasion into the nerves, which can become painful. 

Since BCCs develop in the deeper layers of the skin, they may appear minor on the surface of the skin while the tumor beneath could be significantly larger. If a tumor becomes too large, skin grafts and complex cosmetic procedures might be required to repair the damage caused from the tumor’s removal. 

How can you identify BBC in its early stages? Dr. Shani Francis, Dermatologist at NorthShore, describes some common signs: 

  • Sores. BCCs that appear as sores on the skin can be small or large. These BCC sores could even bleed, scab, heal and then appear again and again. Don't ignore them because they are an early sign of this type of cancer.
  • Red itchy patches. These patches can be easily overlooked and can occur all over the body but particularly the face, chest, arms and legs. These red patches may itch or even develop a crust.
  • White bumps. These bumps vary in size but will generally appear on the face, ears and neck and often with visible blood vessels inside or surrounding them. In those with dark skin tones, these bumps could appear brownish or black.
  • Scar-like marks. Rarely, basal cell carcinomas can appear on the skin as scars, which are a sign of a more invasive BCC called morpheaform basal cell carcinoma. 
  • Pimple-like growths. They look like blemishes but they do not go away and appear as pigmented bumps. 

It is important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about any changes you notice in your skin. Early detection of a BCC is paramount to avoid difficult follow-up care and potential plastic surgery.


Summer Bug Safety: Tips to Stay Bite-Free

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 10:12 AM comments (0)

insect safetyThe warmer temperatures of late spring and summer mean more outdoor family time, from BBQs to pool parties, but it’s important to make sure that time is safe for you and your kids. Most of us know to practice vigilant sun safety during the hottest months of the year, when the sun’s rays are at their most intense, but sometimes we forget it’s also very important to protect against dangerous insect bites. Warm temperatures are just as appealing to insects as they are to Chicagoans ready to leave a long winter behind.

Most mosquito bites are irritating but otherwise harmless; however, some mosquitoes can transmit encephalitis and West Nile virus, which can cause severe illness with symptoms like headache, high fever and bodily weakness. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, which can be treated if recognized early, so look for flu-like symptoms and possible rashes. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint and muscle pain, fatigue, heart problems and neurological issues. 

Felissa Kreindler, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, shares her tips for preventing insect bites and protecting against the illnesses they can cause all summer long:

  • Don’t apply perfumes and avoid the use of scented soaps. The sweet scents of soaps and perfumes attract some insects. 
  • Stay away from stagnant water and heavily wooded areas. Insects, especially mosquitoes, congregate around pools of water. Deer ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are more likely to be in areas with lots of trees and brush. 
  • Avoid wearing bright clothing. Bright flowery prints also attract insects, including honey bees and hornets.
  • Do not use combination sunscreen/insect repellents. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied often but insect repellent should not.
  • Check DEET concentrations on insect repellents before use. Higher concentrations of DEET protect for longer lengths of time. Choose a concentration based on how long you need to protect yourself. Repellents containing DEET should not be used on children younger than six months old. 
  • Protect your pets, too. Your four-legged family members can also get diseases from insects. Make sure to bring and use your pet’s flea and tick repellants.

How do you protect your family from summer insect bites?


Fresh Recipe: Creamy Oregano Vinaigrette

Friday, June 26, 2015 9:30 AM comments (0)

Creamy Oregano VinaigretteDon’t let your choice of dressing take your healthy salad from filling to fattening. Keep things light and fresh with bold flavors and heart-healthy fats.

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, shares a recipe for a healthy salad dressing that’s perfect for summer:

Recipe makes 6 servings
Serving size 2 tablespoons

¼ of an avocado, peel removed (1.6 oz)
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Place avocado in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork until smooth.
  • Add oregano, garlic, lemon juice and oil to avocado and whisk.
  • Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix with your favorite greens and summer veggies.

Nutrition Information (per 2 tbsp serving):
Calories : 84
Fat:  8g
Total Carbohydrates: 3g

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