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Better Living Health Articles


Tips for Finding a Happy, Healthy Balance During the Holidays

Posted 11/20/2014 by Kristen Heitman

Do you often find yourself over-indulging during the holiday season? Traditionally, the holidays have been a time of overeating, satisfying your food cravings, and packing on the pounds. This holiday season can be different, though. Try to make this season more balanced by incorporating some healthy habits into your celebration routines. You will not only feel better, but will truly get the most out of this special time of year. This does not mean that you have to eliminate a slice of grandma’s ...

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Get Your Body in Ski-Season Shape

Posted 11/20/2014 by UHBlog

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. The crisp days of fall are turning into the cold days of winter, and that’s good news if you like to ski. But how do you get your body ready to hit the slopes? In addition to good general fitness, it’s wise to focus your efforts on your quadriceps, core and hamstrings, says pediatric sports medicine specialist Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD. “These are used most extensively in skiing,” she says. Think squats, lunges,...

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The High (Calorie) Cost of Thanksgiving Foods

Posted 11/19/2014 by UHBlog

Think twice before reaching for a second helping of your favorite Thanksgiving dish, says registered dietician Renee Cooper. Working off the extra calories could take some effort – even if you’ve planned a post-feast football game or family walk. Here, some common holiday foods and the amount of physical activity it would require to work them off: View Larger Renee Cooper, RDN, LD, is an outpatient clinical dietitian at UH Case Medical Center, UH Landerbrook Health Center and...

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Are You Measuring Your Child’s Medicine Correctly?

Posted 11/18/2014 by UHBlog

Is your child due for a well visit? Getting children to take their medicine is a perennial parental dilemma. But there’s an equally concerning issue: measuring the correct dose. According to a recent study from the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research, more than 63,000 medication mistakes happen with kids every year. Giving children too much of common over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol can cause harm. Incorrect doses of prescription drugs – in particular, seizure medications, psyc...

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How to Set Up a Workplace Wellness Challenge

Posted 11/17/2014 by UHBlog

Primary care providers should be informed about any wellness programs their patients participate in. Workplace wellness initiatives may sound like a luxury you can’t afford, but research suggests they pay off in more ways than one. “The return on investment can be three to one or even higher,” says David Rosenberg, MD , Medical Director of Corporate Health for University Hospitals. “The idea is to reduce risk factors that can cause disease,” Dr. Rosenberg says. &...

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Essential Dietitian Tips for Your Healthiest Thanksgiving Yet

Posted 11/17/2014 by Meghann Featherstun

Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with giving thanks for things that provide meaning in our lives. How do we celebrate this? In true American fashion – with food. A holiday revolving around food doesn’t have to be a diet disaster; follow these tips for your healthiest Thanksgiving yet. No stretchy waistbands in your Thanksgiving Day clothing choice. Waist bands that expand with our gluttonous food choices are a sure fire way to set ourselves u...

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How to Dress for Cold Weather Workouts

Posted 11/14/2014 by UHBlog

Always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise routine. “Baby, it’s cold outside.” But that shouldn’t keep you inside if you like to run, walk or cycle local trails, roads, and greenways for fitness. Cold weather workouts can be invigorating, and exposure to the sunlight may help fend off seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that happens during the shorter days of winter. Wearing the proper workout gear is critical. “Ther...

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Are You a Candidate for Lung Cancer Screening?

Posted 11/13/2014 by UHBlog

Make your appointment today. If you ever smoked – even for just a short time – you may worry about your risk of lung cancer. Depending on your smoking history and age, you could be a candidate for lung cancer CT screening. During the painless procedure, an imaging machine rotates around the body and takes multiple pictures of the lungs. “A CT scan is so sensitive, it can pick up very small nodules,” says thoracic surgeon Phillip Linden, MD. Nodules detected aren’...

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Do You Know Your Calcium Score?

Posted 11/12/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor if you should have a coronary calcium scan. You may know your cholesterol count and your blood pressure, your weight and your BMI. But unless you know your calcium score, you and your doctor may be missing a key piece of data about your heart health. “The presence of calcium in your arteries is a marker of atherosclerotic disease,” says Robert Gilkeson, MD, of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute. “It’s a quantifiable measure o...

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Superfood of the Month: Cranberries

Posted 11/11/2014 by UHBlog

Do you have questions about how to improve your diet? Talk to your doctor. With their deep crimson color, cranberries are a popular fruit during the holiday season. It’s no wonder they adorn the table at so many Thanksgiving feasts. But their jewel-like hue also signals the presence of health-enhancing phytochemicals called proanthocyanidns. These substances have a number of benefits, including inhibiting bacteria from adhering to bladder walls, thus helping to ward off urinary tract infe...

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Myths and Facts About Drinking and Your Health

Posted 11/10/2014 by UHBlog

How much alcohol is right for you? Talk to your doctor. Is alcohol good for your health? The answer is more complicated than you might think. Studies have shown numerous health benefits from drinking wine, beer or spirits. But there can also be too much of a good thing. Family medicine specialist Todd M. Zeiger, MD, sets the record straight on common myths and facts about alcohol’s effects on health. Myth: If you can’t go to sleep, a nightcap can help. Fact: Although alcohol may ...

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How Online Calorie Counters Help You Lose Weight

Posted 11/7/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for weight loss surgery. If progress toward your weight-loss goals has slowed or stalled, you may need a new tool. A good one to consider: online calorie calculators. Calorie-counter calculators like My Fitness Pal, Map My Run, My Net Diary, My Food Diary and Shaklee’s 180 Program make it easy to record your consumption of food and adjust your intake accordingly. In addition to calories, some sites let you know your meal’s cholesterol, fib...

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You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling: Women and Sex

Posted 11/6/2014 by UHBlog

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. The latest Hollywood chick flicks would have you think that everyone is having sex all the time – or at least that they want to. But that’s far from the truth. “Women’s sexual drive ranges from wanting it every day to every leap year,” says psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD. What determines if decreased desire is a sexual problem to be treated is whether a woman is distressed about her lack of interest in sex. Loss of ...

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What You Should Know About COPD

Posted 11/5/2014 by UHBlog

Could you be at risk for COPD? Ask your doctor. If you are a former or current smoker, you may have myriad concerns about the habit’s effect on your health. But you may not be aware of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung condition that affects as many as 30 million Americans and is the third leading cause of death, according to pulmonologist Robert J. Schilz, DO. Common in former smokers, the condition is characterized by obstruction of airflow that interferes with normal ...

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Got Cravings?

Posted 11/5/2014 by Joyce Kavaras

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD Do you find yourself continually reaching for the same junk foods despite your best efforts to avoid them? Do you blame a lack of willpower? This behavior and thinking pattern can make us feel helpless when we fail time and time again. How do we break the cycle and get on the right track? The good news is that it isn’t your willpower or lack thereof, as there are many factors at play behind the scenes when it comes to changing behavior. Therefore, let go of the feelin...

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New Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Posted 11/4/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your doctor about the options that are best for you. People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) experience multiple awakenings a night when the tongue and soft tissues of the throat relax and obstruct the airway. As a result of interrupted sleep, patients feel fatigued during the day and face a greater risk for health problems like heart disease and diabetes. A treatment called continuous positive air pressure (CPAP), which involves wearing a mask over the nose and/or nose and mouth to o...

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Making the Pledge to Hang Up the Keys

Posted 11/3/2014 by UHBlog

Keep your doctor in the conversation. If you’ve been driving for decades, getting behind the wheel may seem as natural as brushing your teeth. But there may come a time when you lose the skills you need to safely drive a vehicle. How do you know if you are reaching that point? A senior driving self assessment can help, says Laura Matthews, LNHA, manager of University Hospitals Parma Medical Center’s Adult Day Services. The center’s Beyond Driving with Dignity self-assessment ...

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New Women’s Health Institute Offers Personalized, Coordinated Care

Posted 10/31/2014 by UHBlog

Are you due for an annual checkup? Make your appointment today Women today have so many work and family obligations – including acting as the gatekeeper of their own family’s health – that they don’t always give their own health the attention that it needs. To help address these challenges, University Hospitals has created the Women’s Health Institute. “We recognize that the needs of women are different and that women tend to care for themselves last, or not...

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Trick or Healthy Treat: 35 Alternatives to Halloween Candy

Posted 10/30/2014 by UHBlog

Want to improve your family’s overall diet? Make an appointment with a nutritionist. As much as kids look forward to overflowing buckets and bags of Halloween candy, their parents dread the consequences: loads of unhealthy sugar and fat and cavity concerns. But there could be some appealing alternatives. Whether you’re passing out treats or hosting a party, consider these healthy substitutes: Small packets of trail mix or similar snacks Cereal or granola bars Goldfish ...

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Boost Your Immunity: 7 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu This Winter

Posted 10/29/2014 by UHBlog

Make your flu shot appointment today. The days are shorter, the air is crisp and the leaves have turned lovely shades of gold and crimson. But fall also heralds cold and flu season, which wreaks havoc at work and school, leads to sick days and costs employers billions in productivity. “We’re more susceptible in the fall and winter because we’re in closer contact with people,” says family medicine specialist Eileen Goldman, MD. Adults get an average of two to four colds a...

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The Dos and Don'ts of CrossFit Safety

Posted 10/29/2014 by UHBlog

If a workout leaves you in pain, seek medical attention. At first blush, CrossFit seems to solve a number of fitness-related challenges. This popular form of fitness training focuses on full-body movements and exercises that reflect everyday activities, says sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO. Characterized by bursts of high-intensity movement and repetitions that lead to exhaustion, CrossFit workouts help you build strength and endurance in a relatively short workout time. The workout...

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Use It or Lose It: Your Annual Health Savings Account

Posted 10/28/2014 by UHBlog

Now is a good time to schedule routine checkups. If you have a Health Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) – or are thinking of starting one in 2015 during your company’s open enrollment – now is a good time to focus on this benefit. Health FSAs are benefit plans that allow employees to set pretax dollars aside to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as doctor visit copayments or prescription drugs. Employees of companies that offer health FSAs can contribute up to $2,5...

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Bones, Balance and Weight Loss: Reasons Why You Should Start Strength Training

Posted 10/27/2014 by Kelli Santiago, RD, LD

Kelli Santiago RD LD You probably already know aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming and biking are good for your heart. But, while they may do a good job at improving blood pressure, insulin resistance and cardiorespiratory fitness (to name a few), cardio workouts don’t do much for building muscle. Muscle is vital, however, and its benefits span far beyond just strength. Maintaining adequate muscle mass impacts a number of health and age related issues like bone health, blood gluc...

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You Don’t Have Wrinkles – Yet

Posted 10/27/2014 by UHBlog

Concerned about a change in your skin? Schedule a dermatology appointment today. When it comes to skin aging, there’s nature (the risks you are born with) and nurture (the risks you acquire through your behavior and exposures). “We can’t change our genetics,” says dermatologist Elma Baron, MD, “but we can do something about our exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. In addition to causing skin cancer, it also greatly contributes to skin aging and, specifically, the fo...

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When Your Child Outgrows the Pediatrician

Posted 10/24/2014 by UHBlog

Make your child’s annual checkup appointment today There comes a time in every teenager’s life when it’s time to say good-bye to the pediatrician. But choosing a new doctor can be logistically confusing and emotionally trying – for both you and your child. “People don’t like changing doctors,” says pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Sara Lee, MD. “If you like your child’s pediatrician and you’ve been with that person for ...

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Prostate Cancer Screening: Pros and Cons

Posted 10/22/2014 by UHBlog

Find out if screening is the right choice for you More than 2.5 million men in the U.S. are living with prostate cancer. In 2014 alone, 233,000 American men are expected to receive a diagnosis of the disease and almost 30,000 will die of it. Public health officials continue to debate the value of prostate cancer screening – a test that measures the blood level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. The higher a man’s PSA level, the more...

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4 Tips for Keeping Asthmatic Kids Safe at School

Posted 10/21/2014 by UHBlog

Get relief for your child’s asthma Even if you’ve created a safe haven from asthma triggers at home, you don’t have much control about what your child with asthma encounters at school – from chalk dust and cleaning products to dust mites and mold. Approximately 7 million children and young adults under age 18 in the U.S. have asthma, and the condition results in more than 13 million missed school days every year, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma &...

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Medicare Recipients: Are You Taking Advantage of This Free Benefit?

Posted 10/20/2014 by UHBlog

Schedule your free appointment today Numerous changes are happening in health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act – none more important than an increased emphasis on prevention. Yet many seniors do not realize free preventive care visits are now available as a part of Medicare coverage. “Medicare offers a free introductory ‘Welcome to Medicare’ preventive visit,” explains Cyndie Bender, Director of Community Hospitals Post-Acute Relations at University Hos...

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What a Crock! Tips for Healthy Crock-Pot Cooking

Posted 10/17/2014 by UHBlog

Questions about how to eat healthier? Ask your doctor. With fall’s cooler temperatures and shorter days, there’s nothing like coming home to a hot meal. Using a slow cooker is a good way to make dishes that are both hearty and healthy, says clinical dietitian Hailey Wilson, MS, RDN, LD. The original “slow food” Crock-Pot dishes are convenience meals without the drive-through. “The biggest benefit to using a Crock-Pot is that a balanced meal can be made with littl...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: Benefits of Breastfeeding

Posted 10/17/2014 by UHBlog

Dr. Allayne Stephans, pediatric hospitalist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and mom of three boys ages toddler to grade school. It was midnight. After nearly 30 hours of labor I had just delivered my first son. He weighed nine pounds, had a head that looked like an extraterrestrial creature, and he was hungry. I swear the OB put him on my stomach and he inched his way towards my chest, anxious for his first meal. Compared to other new mothers, I felt I was well-prepar...

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Quiz: Fats – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted 10/16/2014 by UHBlog

Schedule your annual checkup to get your cholesterol levels checked Confused about fat? You’re in good company. This essential component of food used to be a dirty word. Researchers now know that there are different kinds of fat and that some are actually good for us. Test your knowledge of fats, including how to incorporate them into a healthy diet, with this quiz, created with the help of registered dietitian Stephanie Ineman. 1. Heart healthy “good fats” come primarily f...

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Got Back Pain?

Posted 10/15/2014 by UHBlog

Get the relief you need If you strain your back or experience other grab-your-attention spinal pain, you’re not alone. “At some time in their life, everyone has a sore back,” says neurosurgeon Steven Fulop, MD. “It’s one of the top reasons for hospitalization and the second leading cause of missed work.” Back pain often results from using poor technique when lifting or moving something -- causing injury to a muscle or ligament -- or a structural abnormality ...

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Just Five Minutes of Exercise a Day? Not So Fast

Posted 10/14/2014 by UHBlog

Find out what’s right for you Recent headlines suggest that small bouts of exercise yield big benefits. The latest buzz – a study from the American College of Cardiology – found that running just five to 10 minutes a day cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, lowering the risk of death from these cardiovascular problems by 45 percent. But are there really shortcuts to fitness? Not everyone is convinced. “There’s an appeal to data like this,” says Richard...

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Postpartum Depression: Myths and Facts

Posted 10/13/2014 by UHBlog

Beat the Blues While it’s hard for many people to imagine the birth of a child being anything but joyful, the reality is that between 10 and 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression (PPD), a serious mental health condition that can have big consequences for a woman and her baby. Myths and misinformation about PPD abound among both health care providers and patients. Psychologist Sheryl A. Kingsberg, PhD, sets the record straight about the most persistent myths surrounding th...

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Size Matters: The Surprising Link Between Your Brain and Motivation

Posted 10/10/2014 by UHBlog

Since the emergence of MRI and other sophisticated imaging, scientists have learned more about the brain than ever before. The newest research, from the National Institute of Aging, shows that older people who show signs of apathy have a smaller brain volume. Those with apathy – a lack of energy, motivation and interest in activities – had less of both gray matter, the place where memories are stored and learning occurs, and white matter, the part that connects one part of the brain...

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The Beat of the Heart: Irregular Rhythms

Posted 10/9/2014 by UHBlog

Does it ever feel like a fish is flopping in your chest, your heart skips a beat, or it races when you get up out of a chair? These sensations could be signs of a heart-rhythm abnormality called atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, which affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. and can lead to life-threatening complications. A-fib is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heart due to a glitch in the heart’s electrical system. A heart that is “out of rhythm” can beat too fa...

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The Top 3 Mental Health Problems for Adolescents

Posted 10/8/2014 by UHBlog

It’s normal for adolescents to experience emotional ups and downs. But when these issues interfere with the normal activities of life, a teen may have a serious mental health condition requiring treatment. Unless your pediatrician does a proper mental health screening, however, these problems may go undiagnosed. “Symptoms of these conditions may be different from those experienced by adults,” explains child and adolescent psychologist Luis Felipe Amunategui, PhD. “They c...

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6 Reasons to Try a Personal Trainer

Posted 10/7/2014 by UHBlog

Working out alone has its perks. But the pros know that working with a personal trainer can help individuals better meet their fitness goals and take their athletic performance to the next level. “Personal trainers are good at identifying your strengths and weaknesses and educating you about your fitness level,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Mary Solomon, DO. Here are six reasons to give personal training a try: It’s personalized. Everyone’s fitness a...

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Superfood of the Month: Butternut Squash

Posted 10/6/2014 by UHBlog

With its subtle tan color, butternut squash is overshadowed by its bold orange cousin, the pumpkin. But the gourd has a lot to offer for health, flavor and versatility. “Butternut squash has a lot of good benefits in just a one-cup serving,” says registered dietitian Jessica Benevidas. The winter squash provides 400 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which is vital for eye development and the skin and may play a role in protecting against certain cancers. Plus...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: Teens and Social Media

Posted 10/6/2014 by UHBlog

Sara Lee, MD, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and mom to a school age daughter. “Are you totally over Facebook?” A colleague of mine uses that question to get teens to open up about the social media sites they visit. Most of them do use Facebook, but Twitter, Instagram, Kik, and many other sites foreign to parents can also be part of teenagers’ daily social interactions. Parents may be overwhelmed at the thought of navigat...

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