Monday, March 30, 2015

Prickly Heat

Summer is fast-approaching. The heat is coming once again. Feeling hot and sticky is bad enough. A visible sign of discomfort only makes it worse. Such is the case with prickly heat (also known as heat rash), identified by clusters of small blisters that itch and appear where you perspire the heaviest – armpits, neck, back, or creases in the elbows (but never the face).

Hot, humid weather, sensitive skin, and overweight all aggravate prickly heat. Here are some simple ways to find relief:

  • Wear lose, lightweight clothing.
  • Dust the affected area with cornstarch.
  • Take cool baths to reduce itching.
  • Avoid hot, humid environments and stay in air-conditioned surroundings, if possible.
The key to managing prickly heat is to avoid sweating by staying in a cool environment. The rash will disapper in a couple of days.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Feel Better with Music

You might call music solace on the air waves. Dentists play music to reduce their patients’ anxiety. Hospital pipe tunes into delivery rooms. And supermarkets broadcast music to keep shoppers rolling along. And the right kind of music can soothe your nerves. Soft, slow, low-pitched music lowers heart rate and blood pressure and relaxes muscles, while loud, fast, high-pitched music creates tension.

Consequently, soothing music is now used to reduce anxiety and pain associated with medical procedures and other unpleasantries.

Here’s how to put soothing music to work for you:

  • To relax, select music that has a regular rhythm with no extremes in pitch. Bach’s “Air on the G String,” Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” Haydn’s “Cello Concerto in C,” and Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” are good examples.
  • To pull yourself out of a glum mood, listen to music that’s snappy and upbeat.
  • To quiet a crying baby, play soft music with a tempo that’s the same as the human heart rate (70 to 80 beats per minute).
  • To increase work productivity, turn on an easily listening radio station. The music format is usually geared to the changes in mood people routinely experience in the course of the day: Bright and cheery music to get going in the morning, stimulating tunes during the prelunch slump, and relaxing music to wind down at day’s end.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How To Care for Mature Skin

As your skin ages, the sebaceous glands produce less oil, and the skin loses elasticity. The result is dry, wrinkled skin – unless you take steps to prevent (or minimize) those effects.

Here’s what to do to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature:

  • Shower or bathe with a mild soap or transparent glycerin soaps to prevent dry, flaky skin. Don’t use deodorant soaps on your face – they’re too harsh for sensitive facial skin.
  • Avoid alcohol-based astringents, toners, or after-shave lotions, which dry the skin.
  • Apply a moisturizing lotion immediately after showering or bathing. (Dry skin makes wrinkles more noticeable, so using a moisturizer makes wrinkles less noticeable.)
  • Use a room or furnace humidifier during the winter months and protect your hands with rubber gloves.
  • Apply sunscreen lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) or 15 or higher whenever you go outdoors.
If you’re thinking about having a face lift, chemical peel, or collagen injection for wrinkles, contact your local medical society for the names of board-certified surgeons or dermatologists with experience in the procedure you’re considering.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to Decode Food Labels

If people consumed nothing but fresh food, there would be no food labels to inspect. But such a diet is not practical. So processed or prepared foods – from mustard to canned tuna fish – allow us to eat a varied and healthful diet without spending every waking minute at the stove.

By law, any food that’s even minimally processed – like canned tuna or vegetables – must be labeled. Basic information includes the name of the food, the ingredients (listed in order according to weight), and the net weight of the contents (that is, not including the packaging).

If a food carrries a nutritional claim like “low-sodium” or ”sugar-free,” the label must provide additional, more specific information. Nutritional information must specify:
  • Portion size.
  • Number of servings per package.
  • Calories per serving.
  • Amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat per serving (measured in grams).
  • Amount of sodium per serving (measured in milligrams).
  • Vitamins and minerals supplied, in percentages of U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances.
Some product labels may indicate the number of milligrams of cholesterol per serving. This is only required if the label claims the food is low in cholesterol.

Here are some other frequently used labeling terms and what they mean.

Low calorie. Applies to foods containing no more than 40 calories per serving or per 100 grams (3 ½ ounces). The label must substantiate this claim.
Reduced calorie. Can be used for foods with at least one-third fewer calories than comparable, nutritionally equivalent foods that are not calorie reduced.
Dietetic. Can be used to designate foods intended for special diets, such as sodium-restricted or reduced-sugar diets (but not necessarily low-calorie diets).
Sugar-free. Applies to food using artificial sweeteners.
Sodium-free. Contains less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Very low sodium. Contains 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
Low sodium. Contains 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.
Reduced sodium. Applies to foods that contain 75 percent less sodium than comparable foods that aren’t sodium-reduced.
Light, lite, leaner, or lower fat. Must contain 25 percent less fat than comparable, nutritionally equivalent foods.
Lean or low fat. Must contain less than 10 percent fat.
Extra lean. Must contain no more than 5 percent fat.
100 percent vegetable oil. Applies to foods that contain no animal fat. This term may be accurate but misleading. Hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) vegetable oils raise blood cholesterol levels in much the same way animal fats do.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Water, the Nutrient for Every Cell

Two-thirds of your body is composed of water, making it your body’s most vital nutrient. 

Importance of Water:
  • Provides valuable source of minerals, like calcium and magnesium.
  • Helps digest food and absorb nutrients into the body.
  • Carries nutrients to organs via the bloodstream.
  • Moistens mucuous membranes and lubricate the joints.
  • Carries away bodily waste products.
  • Cools the body through perspiration.
Many people understimate their need for water. The average adult should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water (or its equivalent) a day. You can meet part of that quota by consuming high water content foods. 

Some examples include:
  • Iceberg lettuce (95 percent water)
  • Cantaloupe (91 percent water)
  • Raw carrots (88 percent water)

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.