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Better Living Health Articles


Your 2015 Resolutions – How to Make Them Stick

Posted 12/19/2014 by UHBlog

Are you overdue for a checkup? Cross that off your to do list today. After the excesses of the holiday season, January is the natural time for fresh starts, whether it’s losing unhealthy pounds or cultivating a regular exercise routine. If you want the best shot at keeping your New Year’s resolutions, registered dietitian Kelli Santiago suggests taking these steps: Set SMART goals. “SMART stands for specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timely,” Santiago say...

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Not for Everyone

Posted 12/18/2014 by UHBlog

If you experience depression or anxiety, don’t suffer in silence. Let your doctor know. When it comes to the holidays, not everyone is filled with joy and awe. For many seniors, the season is a painful reminder of all they have lost. “The holidays are supposed to be such a happy, joyful time with family and friends,” says senior ER social worker Mary Jo Deely. “But it can be a time of sadness and isolation.” Many seniors have families who have moved away or have ...

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Cold Weather Family Fitness Ideas

Posted 12/17/2014 by UHBlog

Is anyone in your family due for a well visit? The mercury may be dipping, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up inside. Kids and adults need exercise year-round – 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week. One good way to rack up the minutes is to make fitness a family affair. “The majority of people don’t like to exercise alone,” says Darryl Knight, MS, an exercise physiologist and program coordinator of Healthy Kids, Healthy Weight at Unive...

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How to Foster a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Posted 12/16/2014 by UHBlog

Are you having trouble juggling work and home responsibilities? Keep your doctor in the loop. Just a decade or so ago, most people left work at the end of the day and took the evening to relax and recharge for the next day. Not anymore. “Technology is making work-life balance almost impossible,” says stress resilience specialist Heidi M. Weiker, MSSA. “People are typically managing three or four computers and gadgets while also having a live conversation. The average working...

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Caregiving Tips for the Sandwich Generation

Posted 12/15/2014 by UHBlog

If caregiving is stressing you out, talk to your doctor. More than 65.7 million people – the majority of them women – provide care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged in the U.S. But all that caregiving can take a toll, especially when the caregiver is looking after both children and aging parents. “We are worried as much about the caregiver as we are for the people they care for,” says geriatric specialist Taryn Lee, MD. “They often have health issues of the...

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Kid vs. Brussels Sprouts: Who Wins?

Posted 12/12/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you’re concerned about issues at mealtime. Trying to get your child to eat unfamiliar foods can be a thankless task. So it’s good to know there’s an evolutionary purpose behind this common source of conflict, says pediatric psychologist Carolyn E. Ievers-Landis, PhD. Called food neophobia, this behavior is shared with other living creatures. “When animals come upon a new food, they generally won’t eat it,” she says....

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How to Get Off the Couch in 2015

Posted 12/11/2014 by UHBlog

Always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise program. Thousands of people pledge to get fit every year, but many of them drop out of their programs before they’ve made any progress. But your chances of finding an exercise regimen that sticks are best if you take the time to establish a plan of action, says sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO. Here are the steps that lead to fitness success: Step 1: Set goals What do you want to get out of your fitness pro...

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Encourage Your Employees to Get Annual Exams

Posted 12/10/2014 by UHBlog

Are you due for an annual checkup? Schedule your appointment today. If you want to ensure a healthy and productive workforce, promoting the annual physical exam could be a good strategy. Yearly checkups are the time to screen for common medical problems, address new health concerns and offer the latest advice for living a healthy life. “In general, physical exams follow recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,” says internal medicine specialist Alan Wiggers, ...

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Which Diet Is Best for Weight Loss?

Posted 12/9/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor how losing weight can benefit your health. One day, calories are the enemy. The next day, it’s carbs. No wonder people are confused about the best way to shed unhealthy extra pounds. Internal medicine specialist Crystal Lantz-DeGeorge, MD , offers insight into what really works. Q: Are some diets better than others in helping people lose weight? A: There are two ways to lose weight – to restrict calories or to restrict carbohydrates. All diets are a variation on eith...

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Superfood of the Month: Collard Greens

Posted 12/8/2014 by UHBlog

Do you have a question about how to improve your diet? Talk to your doctor. With the summer’s harvest long gone and temperatures frequently dipping below freezing, family cooks turn to the dark, leafy greens of winter, particularly collards. “This is their peak season,” says registered dietitian Janice Friswold. “After the first frost, their flavor intensifies.” And collard greens don’t just taste good – they also pack a nutritional punch. They contain ...

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Don’t Give Up Gluten Before You Read This

Posted 12/5/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for celiac disease testing. Gluten-free labels have popped up all over the supermarket, on everything from biscuits to beer. It must be good, right? Before you jump on the anti-gluten bandwagon, however, it’s important to know if it’s really necessary for your health. Gluten is the substance in grains, particularly wheat, that gives dough its elastic texture. It’s a mixture of two proteins that can cause illness in people with celiac...

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Great Winter Workouts

Posted 12/4/2014 by UHBlog

Let your doctor know if you’re started a new exercise routine. If you want to get more bang for your fitness buck, consider exercising outside this winter. Cold-weather exercise may burn more calories than a workout at the gym, and there’s evidence that exercising in nature is more restorative than indoor workouts. To take advantage of the great outdoors this season: Get your doctor’s OK. You may be advised to avoid cold-weather workouts if you have diabetes, heart, vasc...

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Sitting Is the New Smoking

Posted 12/3/2014 by UHBlog

Discuss how you can become more active at your next doctor’s visit. Are you sitting down? You might want to consider taking a quick walk, doing your silly dance, or just standing up and stretching. Sitting for hours on end has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and many other unwanted conditions and illnesses, says Roy Buchinsky, MD, Director of Wellness for University Hospitals. And public health experts consider it as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: The ABC's for infant safe sleep

Posted 12/3/2014 by UHBlog

Erin Frank, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and mom to a vibrant two year old girl. Expectant parents spend months decorating and outfitting the perfect nursery for their new bundle of joy, while friends and family shower the newborn with handmade blankets and nursery accessories. Who can forget the excitement welcoming a new baby into the special space you worked so hard to prepare? Unfortunately the beautiful and cozy nursery essentials can be dan...

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Myths and Facts About Stretching

Posted 12/2/2014 by UHBlog

Tell your doctor if you have persistent pain during or after stretching. When it comes to fitness, aerobic conditioning and strength training get most of the attention. Many athletes are halfhearted about stretching. “It gets a bad rap,” says pediatric sports medicine specialist Mary Solomon, DO. “Stretching is less engaging and entertaining.” No wonder myths about this fitness fundamental abound. Dr. Solomon helps put to rest some of the most persistent ones: Myth: You...

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QUIZ: Test Your Knowledge of IBS

Posted 12/1/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your doctor about any unusual GI symptoms you’re having. More than 20 percent of Americans suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which can cause significant discomfort and distress. Test your knowledge of this common complaint with the following quiz, prepared with the help of gastroenterologist Michael Koehler, MD. 1.) IBS is caused by: A. Hormonal fluctuations B. A poor diet C. An imbalance of gut bacteria D. No one really knows. Answer: D. The cause of IBS is unknown...

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Should You Go to Urgent Care – or the ER?

Posted 11/28/2014 by UHBlog

For nonurgent health matters, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor. When someone in the family gets hurt, you want medical attention. But unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, an urgent care center – not the ER – may be the best place to seek care. These walk-in centers, which are usually open seven days a week, have many of the same services the hospital provides, including X-ray and other imaging techniques, lab testing, procedure rooms for lacera...

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What Helps Women Recover From Addictions

Posted 11/27/2014 by UHBlog

If you think you might have an addiction problem, don’t keep your doctor in the dark. Both men and women can develop dependence on a drug, tobacco or alcohol. But it can be easier for women to become addicted – and harder for them to kick the habit. “Compared to men, it takes women less time and less substance use to develop a substance-use disorder and health problems related to substance use,” says addiction psychiatrist Kathleen Svala, MD. “Women often have ma...

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Train Well, Fuel Well (Part one)

Posted 11/26/2014 by Kelli Santiago

Ask the Dietitian/Personal Trainer Q: Is it true you can eat whatever you want after a workout, like sweets and carbs, because during this time your body burns it and it won't be stored as fat? A: It's true you do burn calories at an accelerated rate after a workout (which is why many people use this time to pig out). But how many more calories you burn and for how long afterwards depends on what exercise you do. You'll burn more calories during cardio exercise than strength training, but you'l...

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Get a Handle on Holiday Stress

Posted 11/26/2014 by UHBlog

Is stress impacting your day-to-day life? Let your doctor know. It may be the season for joy and wonder. But with the demands of gift buying, food preparation and decorating for the holidays, it’s also the time for unrelenting stress. “Our memories of holidays as children clash with modern expectations: spending a lot of money, being all things to all people and completing lots of projects,” says stress-resilience specialist Heidi M. Weiker, MSSA. It’s no wonder that the...

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Beware of Button Batteries

Posted 11/25/2014 by UHBlog

Talk to your pediatrician about common safety hazards. As you’re making your holiday shopping list, here’s an important factor to consider: whether the gifts rely on small “button” batteries, which are found in many toys and remote controlled devices. Of particular concern are 20-millimeter lithium cell batteries that, if ingested, can lodge in a child’s throat, burn the walls of the esophagus and trachea, paralyze vocal chords and even perforate the aorta. Childre...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: Understanding new birth control recommendations for teens

Posted 11/24/2014 by UHBlog

Sara Lee, MD, Adolescent Medicine Specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, and mom to a school age daughter. You may have read in the news recently about pediatricians, teens and LARC. Long-acting reversible contraception, or LARC, includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) like Mirena, Skyla, ParaGard and the hormonal implant known as Nexplanon or Implanon. In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended these birth control methods be made available to teena...

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Enjoy the Holidays – Without Gaining Weight

Posted 11/24/2014 by UHBlog

Keep your doctor in the conversation. There’s good news and bad news when it comes to holiday weight gain. First the good news: Research shows the average amount gained between Thanksgiving and New Year’s celebrations is just one to two pounds – not the five to 10 pounds you might expect. The bad news? People never take off the added pounds. “Year after year, these small gains add up,” says registered dietitian Renee Cooper. “The other major issue is that som...

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Are You a Good Candidate for Joint Replacement?

Posted 11/21/2014 by UHBlog

Ask your doctor about joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement used to be a last-resort treatment for the elderly to regain lost mobility. But today these procedures, which are used in the treatment of arthritis and other degenerative joint conditions, are helping much younger people to relieve pain and stay active as they age. Joint replacement involves the removal of the damaged structures and the process of replacing them with metal, plastic, and other materials to relieve pain from arth...

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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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