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Better Living Health Articles


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 cardiolo...

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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 the...

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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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Know The Signs of Childhood Depression

Posted 10/3/2014 by UHBlog

Parents are often very good at spotting the signs that their child is getting sick. Maybe he or she is more tired than usual, or more cranky, or suddenly has no appetite. But when the problem is mental rather than physical, it can often be hard to tell what’s normal and what’s a sign of something more serious. Child psychiatrist John Hertzer, MD, helps parents spot the signs. How can a parent tell the difference between a child who is just experiencing normal sadness and a child w...

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Can Bacteria Help You Lose Weight?

Posted 10/2/2014 by Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD Do you know someone who can eat large amounts of food, usually the unhealthy kinds, and still manage to stay thin? These seemingly “super-metabolizers” can get away with many of the habits we, who are not so metabolically blessed, cannot. For those working to obtain or maintain a healthier weight, we know that vigilance, effort, and hard work are required most days of the week. Why this discrepancy? New research says some of the answers may reside in your g...

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The Disease Behind the Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted 10/2/2014 by UHBlog

A few months ago, if you polled a random group of people and asked them what ALS stands for, chances are pretty good that you’d get a blank stare. Today, thanks to the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, and eventually causes total paralysis an...

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Getting Lean with Protein: Eat Protein at all Meals & Snacks

Posted 10/1/2014 by Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD

Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD We know that a little extra healthy protein helps us lose weight and/or maintain our lean muscle mass as we age, change our fitness routine, or embark on a healthier lifestyle. This is of utmost importance because muscle burns three times as many calories as fat. Another important fact about our protein intake: it needs spread out evenly throughout the day. Recent studies have shown that our body maintains muscle mass the best when we have a steady intake of...

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Halloween Candy Everywhere? How to Handle the Surplus of Sweet Treats

Posted 10/1/2014 by Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD

Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD With Halloween around the corner, there will soon be a surplus of high-calorie, low-nutritional-value sweets tempting us at every turn. Our healthiest intentions will soon be put to the test. What is the best way to handle this candy filled holiday? Out of sight – Out of mind Don’t leave candy lying around the house, the office, the car, or anywhere! Give away the extras. Although they might protest now, your family and friends will thank you wh...

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Heal The Burn: Treating GERD

Posted 10/1/2014 by UHBlog

Most of us have the occasional bout of heartburn, usually after a particularly heavy or spicy meal. But for an estimated 20 percent of Americans, the cause is a chronic condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Normally, a muscle located at the bottom of your esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter opens to let food in and closes to keep food in the stomach. “The inappropriate relaxation of this muscle is what causes GERD,” says gastroenterologist Robert B...

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Why Fantasy Football is Good for the Workplace

Posted 9/30/2014 by UHBlog

An estimated 31 million working-age Americans participate in fantasy football, and it costs employers more than $13 billion in lost time and productivity, according to a report from the employment consulting firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas. While that’s a sobering statistic for employers, psychologist Jeffrey Janata, PhD, says all that team spirit can be good for the workplace in a number of ways. “A myriad of studies show that the more different dimensions on which you can...

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Recess for Adults: Kickball, Dodgeball and More

Posted 9/29/2014 by UHBlog

Ah, to be a kid again. Playground games can bring out your youthful spirit and boundless energy. Adult recreational leagues for sports like kickball, dodgeball, soccer and other team games can give you the opportunity to let loose and stay fit. Sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO, highlights the physical, mental and social benefits of taking time out of your busy adult life for a little child’s play. Physical Benefits “Participating in this type of team activity gets you mo...

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Fall = Pumpkin Season!

Posted 9/29/2014 by Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD

Meghann Featherstun, MS, RD, LD It’s fall and the leaves have begun to change. To many this means, let’s start eating pumpkin! Make sure to save the high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat items (can you say pumpkin latte, pumpkin roll, pumpkin muffin, pumpkin pie?) for special occasions and add pumpkin into your healthy everyday repertoire. Be sure to purchase plain, canned, 100% pure pumpkin. Canned pumpkin also comes pre-sweetened and labeled ‘pumpkin pie mix’. (Be ca...

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When Cancer Changes the Way You Look

Posted 9/26/2014 by UHBlog

Hair loss, skin changes, weight changes and being tired are side effects of cancer treatment that can change the way you look. Maybe you’ve noticed that people don’t look at you the same way that they used to, or that some people don’t even recognize you. Maybe you don’t want to go out much because you feel “ugly”, “fat”, “skinny” or “bald”. Do you wonder if you will ever feel comfortable with yourself or pretty again? Are you ready to get back your confidence and to move past feeling and looki...

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Embracing the Beauty of Fall In Spite of Fatigue

Posted 9/26/2014 by UHBlog

Fatigue with its weary, heavy, worn out feeling doesn’t go away with the beauty of fall and changing of the seasons. Instead, dealing with fatigue can be even harder in the fall when days begin to get shorter and the weather gets cooler. Here are some ways to manage fatigue and enjoy the fall at the same time: Relax. On nice days sit outside in a comfortable chair and read a book or write in a journal. Take time to experience the sounds, smells and feeling of fall. Close your eyes then ...

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On the Labyrinth: Always the Correct Way

Posted 9/26/2014 by UHBlog

Did you know University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, on the main campus in Cleveland, Ohio, has a healing garden? The Schneider Healing Garden is a beautiful area in the middle of a noisy urban setting. It is surprisingly quiet and calming. In the center of the garden is an inlaid granite path. It is called a labyrinth. Unlike a maze that has dead ends and is made to confuse people, labyrinths have only one path that leads to the center. Our labyrinth is based on an 800-year-old design insi...

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4 Ways to Prevent Workplace Injuries

Posted 9/26/2014 by UHBlog

Certain professions inherently come with dangerous risks – such as being a construction worker or police officer – but even workers in jobs deemed relatively safe are vulnerable to various hazards. “Injury prevention in the workplace is critical to employee safety,” says internist Roy Buchinsky, MD. “Prevention is the best intervention.” Dr. Buchinsky says the acronym PACE can help employers and employees alike remember how to prevent workplace injuries: 1....

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The Side Effect of Menopause You Might Not Expect

Posted 9/25/2014 by UHBlog

Hot flashes. Mood swings. Night sweats. Menopause can cause women to experience a host of unpleasant symptoms. But there is one in particular that can last longer than a hot flash, feel worse than a mood swing and be far more dangerous than night sweats: depression. Psychiatrist Sarah Nagle-Yang, MD, explains why it happens – and how to treat it. Q. What are some of the feelings a woman might go through during menopause? A. Each woman’s experience is different. Some women experien...

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8 Simple Habits for Stress Relief at Work

Posted 9/24/2014 by UHBlog

The landscape of the American workplace has changed significantly over the previous decades. Gone are the days of endless job openings and the 40-hour workweek. The new norm is hustling 50 or even 60 hours a week to hold on to your position – plus the assumption that you are available 24/7 via email and phone. “There’s no limit to what is expected these days,” says stress resilience specialist Heidi M Weiker, MSSA, “and we think it’s normal to feel stressed ...

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Don’t Just Sit There: The Scoop on Standing Desks

Posted 9/23/2014 by UHBlog

The so-called 40-hour workweek often expands into stretches of 50 or even 60 hours a week. Some professions require you to be on your feet all day – like nursing, retail, construction or teaching. These workers may long for a well-deserved rest in a chair, but for those who log their long hours sitting down all day, a sedentary position can actually be just as taxing on the body. According to occupational therapist Monica Van Niel, OT, sitting for long periods of time leads to decreased me...

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Is It Mood Swings – or Bipolar Disorder?

Posted 9/22/2014 by UHBlog

You started your Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee, the newspaper on your lap and an optimistic outlook on the day. By midday, however, your sense of calm flipped a switch, and you snapped at your best friend, the waitress and the guy blocking the exit – all within an hour. You were grumpy and sluggish at dinner, but by bedtime managed to dissolve into giggles over a funny movie. When you wake up the next day, you start to worry – are these moody days a sign of something wors...

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The Benefits of a Personal Health Record

Posted 9/19/2014 by UHBlog

If you’re over a certain age, you probably remember the days when patients would sneak a peek at their medical chart when the doctor left the room. Those days are long gone. Today, health care providers want patients and their families to know as much about their health care as possible, which is why many physicians’ offices and hospitals have created electronic personal health records (PHRs), where you can review your health care details online in a safe and secure setting. &ldqu...

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The Airplane Safety Mistake Many Parents Make

Posted 9/18/2014 by UHBlog

Do your future travel plans include a long flight with a child under the age of 2? Buying a separate seat for your baby rather than holding him or her on your lap may be money well spent, according to a recent study by critical care pediatrician Alexandre Rotta, MD. Dr. Rotta’s study analyzed pediatric medical emergencies on flights worldwide between January 2010 and June 2013. Although the number of pediatric deaths during that time was small (there were more than 7,000 reported emergenc...

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Baby Safety Gates: Do They Prevent – or Cause – Injuries?

Posted 9/17/2014 by UHBlog

The moment your baby starts walking, your home suddenly becomes a complicated maze of traps and hazards, like sharp corners, exposed outlets and loose cords. Baby safety gates can be an essential tool for keeping your toddler from entering certain rooms or tumbling down stairs. “One of the most common causes of injuries among toddlers is falls. Because they aren’t coordinated enough to go up and down the steps safely, it’s important to take as many measures as possible to pre...

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The Risks and Benefits of Delayed Motherhood

Posted 9/16/2014 by UHBlog

The latest trends in mommyhood include swanky strollers, brainy parenting blogs and DIY baby food – and waiting to conceive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a recent Pew study, more women are waiting until they are 35 years or older to have their first child. “People are getting married later in life, and more women are waiting to establish their careers first,” says maternal and fetal medicine specialist Stacey Ehrenberg, MD. “A lot of wo...

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The Bigger Your Belly the Greater the Danger

Posted 9/15/2014 by UHBlog

Can you pinch an inch in your tummy? If so, it may be time to talk to the doc. There is a clear correlation between belly fat and health – and slimming down is key to reducing your risks, says internal medicine specialist Alan Wiggers, DO. Dr. Wiggers says there are two kinds of fat in the stomach: the outside layer of fat that you can grab hold of and the inside central fat packed around the organs. It’s this inside fat that is most problematic – but a belly bulge that you ca...

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Advice from Doctor Mom: Allergy Plan

Posted 9/12/2014 by UHBlog

Erin Frank, MD, Pediatric Hospitalist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and mom to a vibrant two year old girl. The start of a new school year is an exciting time for parents and children alike, but when your child has life-threatening allergies, this can also be a time of fear and worry: Will the school understand his diet restrictions? Can they provide a nurse to administer her medication if she needs it? Who will watch him closely enough to make sure he is safe? These are al...

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Extreme Races, Extreme Risks: Tough Mudders and Obstacle Courses

Posted 9/12/2014 by UHBlog

Are you a Mudder, Warrior or Spartan – or perhaps all three? The booming obstacle-racing scene has given competitors the opportunity to seize these impressive titles at races like the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Spartan Race, among many others. Races typically combine running with a series of challenges like mud pits, barbed wire, wall climbs and even fire pits. Sound fun? It is. Sound dangerous? Well, it can be that, too. Sports medicine specialist James Voos, MD, suggests participan...

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Quiz: How Much do You Know About STDs?

Posted 9/11/2014 by UHBlog

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a murky topic full of myths and half-truths, mainly because many people aren’t comfortable discussing sex with medical professionals. “Physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care providers view STDs as a medical problem rather than a moral issue,” says infectious disease specialist Keith Armitage, MD, “and that’s how patients should view it, too.” OB/GYN Lisa Perriera, MD, MPH says many patients are uninfor...

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What Stress Is Doing to Your Sperm Quality

Posted 9/10/2014 by UHBlog

Stress has been linked to all sorts of physical health problems, from insomnia to stroke to obesity. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have added one more negative effect to the list: decreased sperm quality. Upon analyzing participants’ stress levels and sperm samples, the researchers concluded that men who had experienced two or more stressful events in the previous year had an overall lower sperm quality. The study distinguished between different sources of stress. Wo...

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Are Ex-Smokers Still at Risk?

Posted 9/9/2014 by UHBlog

Quitting smoking is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your health – and one of the most challenging. “There’s a long list of problems linked to smoking, like heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, emphysema and all sorts of cancers,” says pulmonary specialist Nizar Nader, MD. “Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it has an immediate effect on your health, even if you can’t notice it.” The expectation that you’ll feel...

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6 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts on the Go

Posted 9/8/2014 by UHBlog

Why is it that the so-called most important meal of the day is often the least nutritious? Fast-food sandwiches, toaster pastries and doughnuts are all easy to grab on the go, but scarfing junk food first thing in the morning is not the right way to start the day. It may seem like the only quick options are unhealthy – but you also don’t want to skip the meal entirely. Dietitian Lisa Cimperman, MS, RD, LD, points out that people who eat breakfast actually tend to weigh less than th...

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