Four Essential Nutrients for a Healthier Lunch Box

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 4:06 PM comments (0)

lunch boxHot dogs, pizza, tater tots, chicken nuggets, ketchup and bagged chips – these high-fat, high-sodium and low-fiber foods are made available every day in some schools across the country. With over one-third of American children overweight or obese, it’s little wonder First Lady Michelle Obama has made improving standards for school lunches a focus. And improvements are happening, but packed lunches are still a great way to help your children keep calories and fat under control, as well provide the essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive. 

Kimberly Hammon, Dietitian at NorthShore, shares some healthy lunch tips for how to include essential nutrients – vitamin D, calcium, fiber and potassium – into your kid’s packed lunch:  

Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to various cancers, including colon and breast, heart disease and depression. Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium to maximize bone growth and strength. 

What to pack?

  • Most milk products have vitamin D.
  • If your child isn’t a milk drinker, pack vitamin D-fortified orange juice instead.
  • Up vitamin D intake in the morning with yogurt, oatmeal or cereals.

Calcium: Calcium is an essential nutrient that helps build strong bones, but it also can help with heart rhythm, blood clotting and muscle function.

What to pack?

  • Milk or flavored milk is a healthy addition to every meal.
  • Orange juice with added calcium is a non-dairy option.
  • Add cheese to sandwiches or include cubes or sticks. Low-fat mozzarella and Swiss have the highest amount of calcium.
  • Trail mix with raw almonds is a healthy dessert or snack. Almonds are high in protein, fiber and calcium, and promote heart health and, when consumed in moderation, can help prevent weight gain. 

Fiber: Fiber can help prevent type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. It also helps tummies feel fuller longer. 

What to pack?

  • A sandwich with whole grain bread. Whole grains not only have lots of fiber, but protein, B vitamins and antioxidants.
  • While fiber from whole grains and fruits and veggies is still the best option, cereal bars can be a complaint-free way to get a little more fiber into your child’s diet. Make sure you check labels! Some brands don’t have enough fiber to justify the added sugar.
  • Apples have lots of fiber. Tip: to keep apple slices from going brown, sprinkle with lemon juice. Other high-fiber fruits include bananas, berries and dried fruits. 
  • High in fiber and heart-healthy fat, avocados can add flavor, creaminess and nutrients to sandwiches and wraps. 

Potassium: Potassium-rich diets promote heart and muscle function, maintain fluid balance, energize and help build strong bones. 

What to pack?

  • Dried fruit, especially dried apricots, have lots of potassium, as do bananas, nectarines and oranges.
  • Try to sneak some vegetables into sandwiches or wraps, especially spinach, which is high in potassium. 

What do you pack to provide a healthy lunch for your kids?

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From Survivor to Supporter: Debbie Hulick Helps Raise Funds for Ovarian Cancer Research

Friday, August 22, 2014 11:28 AM comments (0)

Debbie Hulick

Debbie Hulick is not only the co-chair of the 2014 American Craft Exposition and an active board member of the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem, she’s also an ovarian cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in June 2007. With three daughters of her own, raising awareness and raising funds for ovarian cancer research has become a passion. The American Craft Exposition (ACE), which provides funding to the research efforts of her own physician, Dr. Gustavo Rodriguez, was a natural next step after she completed treatment at NorthShore. 

Debbie tells us what led her to ACE and why research into this “silent” killer is so important:  

What is your role with the American Craft Exposition (ACE)?
I am co-chair of the 2014 American Craft Exposition and an active board member of the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem.

How did you learn about ACE? Why did you want to become involved?
After my treatment for stage three ovarian cancer at NorthShore was completed, I found out that ACE was funding the ovarian cancer research efforts of my physician, Gustavo Rodriguez, MD, for at-risk women. Having three daughters, it was very important for me to become involved and help support this very significant cause. Today the funds raised at ACE are being applied to help better the lives of women in our community and I could not be more proud to have a hand in these efforts. 

How does ACE help women with ovarian cancer?
Funds raised at ACE support pioneering research being conducted at NorthShore that is already showing promising results in preventing ovarian cancer in at-risk women. Ovarian cancer is called the “silent” killer because symptoms are easy to dismiss and the disease is often diagnosed too late for effective treatment. More than 100 researchers are engaged in breast and ovarian cancer studies at NorthShore encompassing an array of multi-disciplinary programs addressing better methods for prevention, detection and treatment.

What excites you most about this year’s exhibition? What will visitors see?
I am very excited that we have over 30 new artists exhibiting at ACE for the first time this year, including artist Thomas Marrinson. His brightly colored ceramic bowls create a stunning display and are sure to “wow” attendees! Besides Marrinson’s work, visitors will have the opportunity to peruse and purchase stunning pieces from over 160 of the country’s finest craft artists. We also are bringing back our Craft in Action stage this year where visitors can watch both ceramic and wood demonstrations. 

The American Craft Exposition is open to the public starting Friday, August 22nd. Visit americancraftexpo.org for all of the details.

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Summer Cold or a Sinus Infection?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 11:07 AM comments (0)

Cold-SinusAt one time or another—and maybe even multiple times each year—we’ve all had the symptoms of a cold. But there's no worse time to suffer the symptoms of a cold than in the summer. The familiar prolonged running nose and sniffling, and the sinus pressure that comes along with it. How do you know if it’s just a common cold or a sinus infection?

Ilana Seligman, MD, Pediatric Otolaryngologist at NorthShore, breaks down the differences between a cold and a sinus infection, and tells us the right time to make an appointment with a doctor: 

Common Cold
There are not perfect steps to follow for cold prevention; instead, it’s best to wash your hands frequently, and avoid sharing cups and toothbrushes. If you already have a cold, there isn’t much a doctor can do because prescribing antibiotics is not recommended. You can, however, treat the symptoms. Most colds typically last 7-10 days, and common symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Clear or colored nasal discharge

Treating the Symptoms

  • For a stuffy nose, nasal decongestants can help you breathe easier. If you want to go the more natural route, try a saline nasal sprays or even a Neti Pot. 
  • For cough, warm liquids, like tea with honey, can be enough to provide relief. The honey also pulls double duty by soothing sore, scratchy throats. 
  • Sleep! Rest is the key to bouncing back fast.  

Sinus Infection
A sinus infection is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. Very few colds—only 5-10%—will turn into sinus infections. Common signs your cold is a sinus infection include:

  • Continued nasal congestion after 10 days
  • Significant headaches, teeth or facial pain
  • High fever or persistent drainage

If you experience these symptoms it may be a sinus infection, which means it's time to consult your physician. Common treatment often includes prescribing antibiotics.

Do you know when you have a cold versus a sinus infection? What home remedies to you defer to when you have a cold?

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Tips for Handling Back-to-School Jitters with Kindergarten and Elementary Students

Friday, August 15, 2014 6:37 AM comments (0)

back-to-school

Nervousness on the first day of school is perfectly normal both for parents and young students. New routines, new people, new information: it’s a time of transition. But “transition” doesn’t have to be a bad word. 

Nancy Zinaman, LCSW, shares some simple back-to-school preparation tips that will make the first day easier on the entire family:

For kindergartners try not to make the first day over emotional. If parents are anxious they need to be aware of their own feelings so as not to make their children more nervous.

Children who have made a smooth transition into preschool may have a harder time transitioning into Kindergarten. You can help make this transition easier by playing on the school playground with your child before classes begin. Visit the school when it is empty or schedule a tour. If time allows, visit or arrange a one-on-one meeting with the teacher and staff. Familiar faces and places will make the first day so much easier.

For children with special needs it’s important for parents to connect with teachers prior to the first day of class to make sure they are aware of separation anxiety, ADHD or any other family challenges

Find out the best way to communicate with your child’s teacher. Ask your child’s teacher what he or she would prefer: email, phone, etc. This will foster a positive, productive relationship from the start. 

Prepare for the new routine early. Don’t wait until the first day to start implementing your new routine. Put the school day structure in place one or two weeks before: establish a back-to-school bedtime; get up early; give kids a fun school-day task like packing their own lunch or backpack. Don’t over-schedule after school activities the first couple of weeks because your children will be tired after a long day of school.

Talk to your children. Find out how your children really feel about starting a new school year. Is there something in particular that is causing nervousness or dread? Give yourself time to address it or talk to the school about it if it’s something the school can address. Let your children know their feelings are normal and that they are not alone.

How does your family prepare for the first day of school?

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Get Serious about Laughing: Giggling is Good for You!

Thursday, August 14, 2014 8:38 AM comments (0)

Laughter-YogaRemember the last time you had a good laugh? How about that feeling of amusement you get when you anticipate witnessing something funny? Mirth—otherwise known as merriment and glee—has been the recent subject of research. While still in its infancy, some of the studies’ early results might surprise you.

John Chamness, a licensed massage therapist at NorthShore’s Integrative Medicine program lists some of the recent findings behind mirth.  After watching funny movies, participants experienced the following health benefits:

  • Significantly lowered risk of a second heart attack in men who combined watching 30 minutes a day with standard cardio rehab
  • Increased beneficial blood vessel relaxation
  • Influenced the expression of genes, including turning on genes related to immune function
  • Reduced water loss from skin in elderly men with atopic dermatitis (dry skin)
  • Short-term improvement of erectile dysfunction

Are these the effects of the state of mirth, or the laughter that is often a result? Regardless, you don't have to wait for something funny to enjoy a laugh; laughter can be prolonged as a deliberate behavior.

In Laughter Yoga—a social movement that began in India and is catching on here—participants alternate 45 – 60 seconds of deliberate, sustained laughter with deep breathing and brief stretching for a total of 30 minutes. After seven sessions over three weeks, Laughter Yoga participants had significantly lowered their blood pressure.

During sustained laughter (through Laughter Yoga or not), the diaphragm increases from working an average of 12 times per minute during regular breathing to 300 forceful times per minute. Over 20 minutes of sustained laughter accounts for 6,000 contractions. That’s quite a workout!

So, what’s the key take away? Be serious in your pursuit of health, but don't always pursue health with seriousness.

What makes you laugh? Have you ever participated in a Laughter Yoga session?

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The Importance of Well Woman Visits

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 11:06 AM comments (0)

As a woman, regular visits to the obstetrician/gynecologist are an important way to establish a long-term, trusting relationship with your clinician. They are also an opportunity to regularly review your medical history and evaluate your current health through various screenings, including a breast exam, mammogram or pelvic exam.

Dr. Carl BuccellatoDespite recent headlines from the American College of Physicians (ACP), a screening pelvic exam as part of your well woman visit is important for women both with and without symptoms. While a pelvic exam and/or breast exam may be moderately uncomfortable or even embarrassing for some, its enormous possible health benefits make it an essential appointment for every woman.&

A well woman visit does not consist solely of a pelvic exam or breast exam; instead these visits are an opportunity for women to have open conversations with their physicians and learn helpful information about their bodies and anatomy.  They can lead to the early detection of issues ranging from benign conditions like pelvic support and pain to sexually transmitted infection; ovarian, cervical, vaginal, skin and breast cancers; fibroids and more. 

Carl Buccellato, MD, Gynecologist at NorthShore, shares information about what you should expect from a yearly well woman visit:

  • Open conversation. It’s important so come prepared to have a frank conversation about contraceptive and preconception counseling and safe sex practices with your doctor.
  • Discussion about your state of health. Just like your yearly visit with your primary care physician, you will discuss any recent changes to your health, concerns from the last year and updates to your medical history.
  • Medications. Bring a list of your current medications, including any birth control.
  • Breast examination. A breast exam should happen at each of your yearly appointments starting at age 21. If you notice any changes to your breasts from self-examination, please inform your physician.
  • Pelvic exam. A pelvic exam is typically performed at each annual visit, and will not always include a Pap smear. A pelvic exam consists of both an external and internal visual exam as well as an evaluation of your uterus and ovaries through a manual exam, which should take no more than 2-3 minutes. You may feel some pressure and mild discomfort during this exam but it should not be painful.
  • Pap smear. You should consult with your physician on the best recommended schedule for this test. The timing of your Pap smear will depend on your age, health and medical history. We recommend you get your first Pap smear by age 21. It is commonly then performed every 3 years until you are 30, and every 3-5 years thereafter.

You should always be proactive about scheduling more frequent appointments and undergoing screenings if you have previously had abnormal test results from a Pap smear; family history of uterine or breast cancer; and/or any recent changes in health such as infection, pain or bleeding.

Studies performed by NorthShore researchers suggest a painful pelvic exam is one marker of chronic pain issues. It may be important to address this issue with your OB/GYN physician before chronic pain develops. This NIH-funded research study Chronic Pain Associated with Menstrual Pelvic Pain (CRAMPP) is being done by investigators Frank Tu, MD, and Kevin Hellman, PhD. 

While more research has yet to be conducted, a painful exam may not be entirely normal. If you experience pain and/or moderate-to-severe discomfort during your pelvic exam, please inform your OB/GYN physician.

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Q&A: Ebola Virus

Thursday, August 07, 2014 12:28 PM comments (0)

Dr. ThomsonRichard (Tom) Thomson, PhD, Director of the Microbiology Laboratory and Division Head of Clinical Pathology at NorthShore, provides answers to some common questions regarding the Ebola virus: 

How is it transmitted?
It is not known to be airborne. Ebola is passed through direct contact with bodily fluids and specimens from patients infected with the virus. So it is family, caretakers and healthcare workers with close contact to an infected person who face the greatest risk if they don’t take the right precautions. 

Can you contract Ebola from contact with someone who does not exhibit any symptoms? 
No. An individual who is infected but not exhibiting symptoms is not contagious. If a person is symptomatic, he or she can spread the virus but only through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood. So, as an example, if you were sitting next to someone on a plane who developed symptoms of Ebola a week or 10 days later, you were not at risk for infection because they were asymptomatic at the time.  

How are American healthcare workers being infected with the virus?
Unfortunately, the ability of healthcare workers in Africa to protect themselves is different from the ability of healthcare workers to protect themselves in the United States. They do not have the facilities that we have here in this country. In the U.S., we have the facilities and training to handle many different infections of various risks. And while Ebola presents one of the greatest risks to healthcare workers, we have procedures in place that will be used to handle any Ebola patients who enter the country. 

How is the spread of the virus to the United States being prevented?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have specific procedures in place to follow if they feel that someone on a plane is symptomatic. That person would arrive in the United States and be put immediately in the appropriate containment in one of our hospitals. They also have screening efforts ongoing in West Africa to prevent symptomatic persons from getting on planes. By following those procedures, the spread of the virus into the United States is very unlikely. 

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Essential Guide for Your Body: Vitamins and Minerals

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 4:02 PM comments (0)

Meeting your required daily intake (RDI) of vitamins and minerals is essential to maintaining your current health and staying healthy later in life.  However, nearly the entire U.S. population is at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiency. Achieving your RDI doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, a eating a healthy, varied diet makes getting important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, B9, B12, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium, both simple and delicious.  

What should you be eating and why? NorthShore University HealthSystem has created an infographic that breaks down the health benefits of important vitamins and minerals, as well as includes a list of foods high in these vitamins.  Click on the image below to view our full infographic and then add these superfoods to your grocery list.

vitamins guide

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Q&A: Pediatric Food Allergies and GI Issues

Friday, August 01, 2014 3:19 PM comments (0)

tummy acheAre stomachaches and messy potty breaks frequent occurrences for little ones in your home? “Stomach problems” happen to everyone, and children are no exception. Sometimes an upset tummy is just an upset tummy, but children, just like adults, can suffer from food allergies and sensitivities, and just like adults these allergies and sensitivities can and should be addressed.

Vincent Biank, MD, Pediatric Gastroenterology at NorthShore, answers some common questions about GI food allergies and sensitivities in children: 

 Is there an easy, relatively non-invasive test to see which foods a child is allergic or sensitive to?
There are several simple blood tests for allergies but unfortunately we do not have simple tests for sensitivities that are accurate in children; therefore, we will commonly have to do an elimination diet.  We will remove one food item at a time for two weeks and then replace that food item after those two weeks, carefully documenting any changes in the symptoms. The two most common sensitivities are lactose and gluten. I would not recommend removing gluten from a child’s diet until they have been properly tested for Celiac disease otherwise you will just need to add it back in for one to two months before it can be accurately checked in the blood.

What foods are typically off-limits for child with soy and dairy allergies? Is it possible to eliminate these foods entirely from a child’s diet?
Soy and diary are in almost everything, so eliminating them is difficult. For this reason, we will have our pediatric dieticians work with families to make sure no soy or dairy in getting into a patient’s diet. Until then, check labels! Anything that has soy, soy protein, milk, milk protein, casein or whey in its label should be avoided.

Are children with GI food allergies more likely to develop other GI-related issues as young adults and adults? 
Unfortunately we don't have enough data to answer this question at this time. Although food allergy with typical symptoms of anaphylaxis, hives, trouble breathing etc. has been diagnosed and treated for many years, the majority of the GI manifestations of food allergy are recent in their discovery. For example it wasn't until 1995 that Eosinophilic Esophagitis was even considered a diagnosis and now we are diagnosing it one to two times per week. The result is we still don't have a clear idea of the natural history of GI food allergies over time.

Should children with stomach “issues” be given probiotics, as well as brought in for testing? 
The short answer is to go ahead and try probiotics prior to the visit. The long answer is that unfortunately we are only at the beginning of our understanding of what probiotics do, such as which varieties are best, how much to give and how long they should be taken.

What are some of the warning signs of GI issues in toddlers/children? Should a parent be concerned about frequent loose stools?
The biggest sign of GI issues is poor weight gain. Diarrhea can be a symptom of an underlying GI disorder but not always. We frequently see toddlers with loose stools with no additional systemic signs of disease, like poor weight gain; therefore, we will typically rule out some common GI-related problems. If tests are negative, we will then discuss how to thicken the stool.

Are the foods known to cause GI allergic reactions in kids the same as those that cause skin or more severe allergic reactions? What are the common foods for GI allergies?
Yes, for some individuals the foods that cause GI allergic symptoms could also cause skin and the typically more severe allergic reaction; however, this is not the case for everyone. Some individuals will only have GI symptoms and others will only have skin or respiratory symptoms. The most common foods for GI allergies are the “Big Six:” milk, soy, wheat, eggs, nuts and fish.

Does your child have a food allergy or sensitive that results in GI issues?

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Five First Aid Facts and Myths

Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:52 PM comments (0)

first aidThe kids are home from school for the summer, so accidents are bound to happen. Some injuries can be treated from home with the help of a first aid kit but some could require a visit to the emergency department. Make sure you are treating those bumps and bruises at home the correct way or know for sure you should be getting into the car and heading to the emergency department instead.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine at NorthShore, dispels some common myths with the help of the facts: 

Myth: Put your head back when you have a nosebleed.
Fact: Don’t put your head back! Blood could flow down your throat and potentially into your stomach, which can cause nausea and vomiting; instead, tilt your head forward and pinch your nose right at your nostrils, not higher. Hold your nose for a full 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. If bleeding lasts much longer or if the bleeding was the result of an injury, head to the emergency department. 

Myth: Help soothe and heal a burn by applying butter.
Fact: Butter could make the burn worse and make treatment by a doctor more difficult. Putting butter on a burn means putting a non-sterile substance on an extremely sensitive area that is highly susceptible to infection. First-degree burns can be treated at home using cool, but not cold, water. Hold the burn under running water for approximately 10 minutes or until there is some relief of pain. Severe burns—second-degree and third-degree burns that exhibit blistering, swelling and intense pain—must be treated by a physician. 

Myth: Put cold red meat on a black eye.
Fact:  It’s the cold, not the steak, that’s important. Unless the steak is frozen and sealed completely, you don’t want that on any bruise—eye or otherwise—because it could introduce bacteria into the equation that could result in an infection. Grab a bag of frozen peas or a cold compress of some kind instead; it will help with swelling. 

Myth: Apply a hot compress to a sprained ankle.
Fact: Cold is the best way to combat swelling. Heat could actually worsen the inflammation of the injury. For ankle sprains, apply a cold compress for a full 10 minutes and then continue to apply cold as needed. For severe sprains, strains and fractures, seek immediate attention in the emergency department.  

Myth: A choking victim will require the Heimlich maneuver.
Fact: A choking victim might require the Heimlich maneuver for a complete blockage of the airway but you will have to keep your composure long enough to find out if that is the case. If the choking victim cannot speak and is turning blue, the Heimlich maneuver is required to allow air to push the obstruction out of the airway. Call 911 immediately and ask for help. If the victim can talk, it is a partial blockage, which can likely be resolved with coughing. 

Were you suprised by any of these first aid myths?

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