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Happy & healthy: tips for aging well

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Family Features

Although you can’t stop time, the right type and amount of physical activity can help stave off many age-related health problems.

More than half (59 percent) of Americans expect to still be living at home independently at the age of 80, according to a recent survey by the American Physical Therapy Association. However, the same study showed that at least half of the same population recognizes they will see a decline in strength and flexibility as they age.

Movement experts such as physical therapists can help aging individuals overcome pain, gain and maintain movement, and preserve independence – often helping to avoid the need for surgery or long-term use of prescription drugs.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

These nine tips, provided by the experts at the American Physical Therapy Association, are keys to helping you age well:

Chronic pain doesn’t have to be the boss of you. Each year 116 million Americans experience chronic pain from arthritis or other conditions. Proper exercise, mobility, and pain management techniques can ease pain, improving your overall quality of life.

You can get better and stronger at any age. Research shows that an appropriate exercise program can improve your muscle strength and flexibility as you age. Progressive resistance training, where muscles are exercised against resistance that gets more difficult as strength improves, has been shown to help prevent frailty.

You may not need surgery or drugs for your low back pain. Low back pain is often over-treated with surgery and drugs despite a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that physical therapy can be an effective alternative with less risk.

You can lower your risk of diabetes with exercise. One in four Americans over the age of 60 has diabetes. Obesity and physical inactivity can put you at risk for this disease, but a regular, appropriate physical activity routine is one of the best ways to prevent and manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Exercise can help you avoid falls and keep your independence. More than half of adults over 65 report problems with movement, including walking 1/4 mile, stooping, and standing. Exercise can improve movement and balance and reduce your risk of falls.

Your bones want you to exercise. Osteoporosis, or weak bones, affects more than half of Americans over the age of 54. Exercises that keep you on your feet, like walking, jogging or dancing, and exercises using resistance such as weight lifting, can improve bone strength or reduce bone loss.

Your heart wants you to exercise. Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. One of the top ways of preventing it and other cardiovascular diseases is exercise. Research shows that if you already have heart disease, appropriate exercise can improve your health.

Your brain wants you to exercise. People who are physically active, even later in life, are less likely to develop memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease, a condition which affects more than 40 percent of people over the age of 85.

You don’t have to live with bladder leakage. More than 13 million women and men in the United States have bladder leakage. A physical therapist can help you avoid spending years relying on pads or rushing to the bathroom.

To learn more about the role of physical activity as you age, or to find a physical therapist near you, visit MoveForwardPT.com.

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Debunking detox with 5 easy fixes


(BPT) – Lots of things in life create messes that need to be cleaned up – even in our bodies. Think of a playroom after a long day of family fun – toys and games strewed about the room, which if not tidied, we often end up tripping over. The same holds true for our bodies. After a holiday season of overeating and overindulging, our bodies need straightening up to function at their best, otherwise our digestive system becomes cluttered with toxins. And with cold and flu season in full swing, a body clean up will not only help to improve your digestive system, but it may also help boost your immune system as well.

The goal of detoxing is to eliminate toxins in the body. Toxins are unusable products resulting from the metabolism of nutrients, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, medical drugs and alcohol. A true detox doesn’t require fasting or flushing your colon clean, instead it’s finding ways to boost your body’s own natural detoxification system to rid itself of harmful toxins. Just follow these five easy detox fixes from Registered Dietitian Ashley Koff to clean-up your diet and your health:

Eat organic. Reduce the toxins you take in by choosing organic foods that contain no artificial ingredients or synthetic preservatives and are GMO-free. Jumpstart your day with delicious Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola that is rich in flax seeds and high in fiber.

Power up with plants. Phyto (plant) nutrients such as antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, spices, whole grains, nuts and seeds create your bodies clean up team. Eat more and let them naturally help clean up your digestive system.

Follow the rainbow. Variety is essential to a healthy diet, and it is important to add a rainbow of colorful, spices and blends of grains, seeds and nuts to your diet.

Find fiber. In order to eliminate toxins through our body’s digestive tract, we need to eat foods rich in fiber and nourish good bacteria it is also important to choose foods that contain nutrients like magnesium that support healthy motility of the digestive tract and bitter herbs which help stimulate the digestive tract.

Nourish with nutrients. Our internal detoxification system needs the right nutrients to nourish our bodies. Add healthy and good-for-you foods such as, broccoli, garlic, leeks, sesame seeds, greens and beans to your diet to boost your energy level and cleanse your body at the same time.

Finally, detox foods can be delicious as they are nutritious. Check out this fiber-rich recipe that is sure to have your friends and family asking for seconds.

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 6


1/2 cup Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme


Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Mix together Pumpkin Flax Granola, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper.

Spread evenly on baking sheet; bake for 6 or 7 minutes or until mixture is crisp and golden brown.

Toss together squash, brown sugar, thyme, and remaining pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper; arrange on prepared baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until fork-tender and lightly browned.

Arrange squash on platter and top with granola mixture.

Tip: To make fresh bread crumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs; store in airtight container in the freezer for up to one month.

Nutrition Facts, per 1/6 recipe

Calories 240

Fat 11 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 240 mg

Carbohydrate 33 g

Fiber 5 g

Sugars 9 g

Protein 3 g

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Colder weather: 


How to manage your blood pressure and health

(BPT) – Research shows that as the temperature drops, your blood pressure tends to increase. The changing weather brings cooler temperatures and increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and other serious health conditions.

Measure Up/Pressure Down is a national high blood pressure campaign, led by the American Medical Group Foundation, and aims to empower people to measure, monitor and maintain a healthy blood pressure. As the weather changes, Measure Up/Pressure Down and campaign supporter United Health Foundation have three tips for your heart health:

1. Understand high blood pressure:

High blood pressure, also called hypertension by medical professionals, means that the force of blood pushing through your body is too strong. That pressure puts a strain on your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. In colder weather, blood vessels constrict more than normal, which raises blood pressure. By understanding what high blood pressure is, you can make lifestyle changes to stay on top of the disease.

2. Practice healthy habits:

Healthy habits -such as being physically active, eating healthy and limiting alcohol, can be critical to managing your high blood pressure year round, especially during fall and winter. Try to get up and move for at least 30 minutes each day. As the weather changes, modify your exercise routine to include raking leaves, shoveling snow or walking indoors at a nearby mall. During the holiday season, many people indulge in unhealthy food and large amounts of alcohol at holiday parties, family festivities and other gatherings. You don’t need to give up everything you love, but set limits before each event to ensure you don’t go overboard. With high blood pressure, it’s important to limit sodium and harmful fats. You should also limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

3. Measure and monitor your blood pressure regularly:

If you have high blood pressure, talk with your healthcare team about how frequently you should monitor your blood pressure. Blood pressure monitors are inexpensive and can be purchased at pharmacies and other stores. Many community locations, like supermarkets and pharmacies, have machines that take and record your blood pressure. Others, including fire departments or local gyms, may have staff on hand that can measure your blood pressure for you. Be sure to properly position your body for an accurate reading. For instance, when you measure blood pressure over a coat or jacket, your reading can be falsely elevated.

More than one in three Americans have high blood pressure. To measure, monitor and maintain your blood pressure all year round and learn more about this disease, please visit MeasureUpPressureDown.com.

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Spiritual Care at the end-of-life

Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors help patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

From Hospice of Michigan

When we are young and healthy, we can feel invincible. There’s plenty of time – and opportunity to solve life’s problems and make one’s mark.

But when faced with death, perspective can change quickly and so can priorities. This is when we begin to evaluate the meaning of life and contemplate the legacy we will leave behind.

Rev. Ronald White sees this time and time again.  As a spiritual care advisor with Hospice of Michigan, it’s White’s job and his mission to help hospice patients discover a sense of peace and closure as they prepare to die.

“Many people assume spiritual care is about religion, and while it can be, it can mean something different to everyone,” White says. “Spiritual care is not intended to change patients’ belief system, but accept patients wherever they are on their journey and provide support at the end of life.

“When a person is dying, reality can hit hard. It’s often as they face the end that people look to find closure and mend relationships. This could be with God, family and friends or the world at large.”

The need for spiritual care differs from person to person. Some find solace in their religious faith; others may need to evaluate the meaning of their life or come to terms with important issues.

Spiritual care advisors like White provide support for patients and their families as physical, emotional and spiritual needs arise. This can mean helping patients through a journey of faith, reconnecting them with their church, helping to mend family rifts or simply listening to patients while they share things that are weighing on them.

Many times, when facing death, people seek forgiveness, White explains. “We’ll often try to reconnect family members and bring them together for a family meeting so they can sort through issues while there is still time. Many times we see that the family members don’t even remember what the disagreement was about, just that something happened. In circumstances like this, talking things out usually helps. But other times issues are deeply rooted and can’t be resolved. While we can’t fix all problems, we make our best effort.”

When you can’t mend a situation, White notes that sometimes it’s enough to just be there to listen.

“Letting patients tell their story and talk through problems can often lead to acceptance,” White says. “As spiritual care advisors, our conversations with patients are confidential. Sometimes patients have things weighing on them that they don’t want their family to know about, but they still need to share with someone. Knowing that we can be their confidant allows them to open up to us and find a sense of peace.”

White explains that some of his most important work is with veterans.

“Many veterans have a lot of guilt when they near the end-of-life,” White said. “They are dealing with things they saw or did in the name of war—often things they’ve never shared with anyone. When we work with vets, we know we can’t change what happened, so we spend a lot of time talking. We ask them about the duties they had, where they served and how they were involved. These questions can lead to meaningful conversations and often times helps veterans share the things that are weighing on them. Sometimes just talking through an issue with someone provides acceptance and closure.”

White notes that anxiety at end-of-life can cause unnecessary pain – which is why the role of a spiritual care advisor is so important.

“Providing comfort to patients and their families is our number one goal,” White adds. “Helping patients find solace and closure allows them to die a good death. This is something that provides peace for both the patient and their family.”

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Seven unlikely foods that sabotage fat loss


(BPT) – The basic idea behind fat loss is simple: eat better, exercise more. However, hidden in this formula are numerous caveats and footnotes. No wonder there are so many books and television specials about the 100 different ways people are supposed to exercise and eat right.

According to Becca Hurt, MS, RD, and program manager of Life Time Weight Loss at Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company, “one of the most confusing parts of dieting is the fact that many of the foods people think will help them lose weight actually pack on the pounds.” Hurt notes there are enemies lurking in common foods that almost everyone eats or drinks. So, what’s to be done? To help identify some of the most common weight-loss enemies, Hurt has provided a list of seven culprits everyone will want to weed out of their diet.

Coffee shop drinks

Never mind the french fries and potato chips, Hurt says that liquid calories are more often one of the biggest downfalls when it comes to losing weight. For many, it starts with their morning coffee. While 1-2 cups of coffee with only cream added is no harm, the danger is in the sugar loaded, caramel-chocolate dieting disasters many people believe to be perfectly healthy because they ordered the non-fat options. “Not only do these drinks lead to a sugar rollercoaster and energy crashes, they may be loaded with as many as 500-plus calories,” says Hurt.

Skim milk

“Only recently, Americans started to realize fat isn’t always the bad guy,” explains Hurt. “There is no difference in fat loss between diets with no-fat and full-fat dairy consumption, according to recent studies.” In fact, Hurt notes that people often add sugar to enhance the taste of their skim milk, which quickly turns it into a decidedly unhealthy option.


Yes, even whole grain pasta is stripped of beneficial nutrients, bleached and loaded with preservatives to make it more shelf-stable. Pasta portions can also be confusing. “A pasta meal should begin with a big salad, and the high protein meatballs should be larger than the portion of pasta,” says Hurt. “Instead of spaghetti and meatballs, it should be meatballs with some spaghetti on the side.”

Reduced fat snacks 

For many, reduced fat, no fat and low fat labels on foods can be a green light to what they believe is guilt free snacking. The principle to remember here is not all calories are the same. “A 100-calorie pudding pack is not as healthy as 100-calories worth of almonds,” explains Hurt. “Food that is naturally healthy doesn’t have to have the “no-fat” label.” A handful of nuts, a few slices of full-fat cheese or some Greek yogurt are healthier options by far.

Energy drinks

For those looking to shed some fat, drinking one of these sugar-loaded bad-boys means putting the brakes on their body’s fat burning process. Hurt adds that people should get no more than 5 percent of their calories from sugar and just one energy drink will put someone well over this limit.


While many think ordering a sandwich is a diet-friendly alternative to a burger, consider this: one sandwich has as many carbohydrates as a Kit-Kat bar! “Carbs are not a sustainable source of energy,” says Hurt, “and are responsible for that sluggish, hungry feeling that leads many to skip workouts and snack more.” The solution: ditch the bread and add a salad!

Protein bars

They might be marketed as the fat burning, muscle gaining snack, but don’t be fooled. Heavily processed protein bars are loaded with sugars and carbohydrates. To get the necessary protein, Hurt suggests looking to nuts or animal sources such as meats or yogurt instead.

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Keep pets healthy over the holidays

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) annaav - Fotolia.com

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) annaav – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) When making holiday plans, consider your pets’ health needs. Here, five veterinary experts weigh in on steps to keep pets happy and healthy amid the hubbub.

Resist those pleading eyes

According to veterinary nutritionist Dr. Dottie LaFlamme, high-calorie tidbits contribute to caloric overload and bad habits, while lacking necessary nutrient balance.

“Just one teaspoon of beef fat can contain almost twice the calories a small dog should consume in daily treats,” LaFlamme notes, adding that feeding from the table also promotes begging behavior. “If you must give pets a treat, feed it in their bowl after the meal to help with portion control.”

Avoid holiday hazards

The holidays can be toxic to pets. Chocolate poisoning is one of the most common accidents during the holidays, according to veterinary critical care specialist and toxicologist Dr. Justine Lee. Other food foes include grapes, raisins, bones, unbaked yeast bread dough, alcohol and xylitol, a common sugar substitute.

Likewise, “Potpourri liquid contains detergents that can cause severe ulcers and burns in a cat’s mouth, while tinsel can act as a severe linear foreign body when stuck in a cat’s stomach and intestines,” she explains.

If you’re hosting, ensure houseguests pet-proof pill bottles.

Take preventive measures

Owners often experience a false sense of security about parasite prevention when the weather turns cooler. However, the holidays are no time to take a break from heartworm prevention, even though heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes, says veterinary parasitologist Dr. Patricia Payne. Why? Because preventives work retroactively on heartworm larvae acquired earlier in the season.

“There’s no way to accurately predict past or future transmission, so the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention for dogs and cats,” she explains. “Make sure to put a reminder on your holiday calendar to give routine monthly preventives to pets.”

Give the gift of activity

“When we removed hunting from pets’ daily lives, we reduced their physical and mental activity,” explains veterinary behaviorist Dr. Jacqueline Neilson. “When pets lack mental stimulation, they can become bored and depressed, and often create their own stimulating activities, such as chewing items or barking at passersby.”

Beat this concern with food puzzles and toys that require pets to work, play or “hunt.”

“Consider your pet’s personality when choosing holiday gifts,” says Neilson. “If your dog likes to chew things, a food toy that needs to be squeezed between the jaws may be ideal. Herding breeds may prefer a toy they can nudge.”

Travel prep

An estimated 30 million people travel with their pets annually, and holidays are primetime for hitting the road. Flying? Check your airline’s pet requirements. For car travel, invest in a carrier.

“Your pet will appreciate a safe haven while traveling,” says Dr. Robert Stannard, who recommends adding a favorite blanket to provide a sense of familiarity.

Travel bowls, favorite toys and medications are necessities, not luxuries. Just be careful not to overfeed.

“Like us, pets can get motion sickness,” says Stannard. “Don’t feed your pet right before leaving, and limit food during travel to help prevent digestive upset.”

With a few precautionary measures, your four-legged family members can have a happy, healthy holiday season.

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Access Affordable Health Care and the Insurance Marketplace


By: Stephanie Holland, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides Americans with better health security by expanding coverage, lowering healthcare costs, guaranteeing more choice, and enhancing the quality of care for all Americans. Everyone is entitled to affordable healthcare.

Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health. Some of the benefits of this coverage include:

• Ending Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions for Children: Health plans can no longer limit or deny benefits to children under 19 due to a pre-existing condition.

• Keeping Young Adults Covered: If you are under 26, you may be eligible to be covered under your parent’s health plan.

• Ending Arbitrary Withdrawals of Insurance Coverage: Insurers can no longer cancel your coverage just because you made an honest mistake.

• Guaranteeing Your Right to Appeal: You now have the right to ask that your plan reconsider its denial of payment.

Open enrollment began in November and ends January 31. Compare healthcare plans so that you can find the best one for you, and sign up before the enrollment period ends. You can learn more about the insurance marketplace and how to apply for benefits at www.healthcare.gov.

If you are 65 or older, you are entitled to Medicare. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, including those who have disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure. The program helps with the cost of healthcare, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care.

You can access everything you need for Medicare, including online applications and publications, at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicare.

Social Security and affordable healthcare go hand-in-hand. The Affordable Care Act and Medicare help ensure that you and your family are covered.

Stephanie Holland is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 455 Bond St, Benton Harbor MI 49022 or via email at stephanie.holland@ssa.gov

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Horseback riding helps man with COPD

We recently received this story from Don Foreman, of Kent City. 

Don Foreman, though afflicted with COPD, is shown doing what he loves.

Don Foreman, though afflicted with COPD, is shown doing what he loves.

It all began in 1975 when I married a woman with two horses and we bought a hobby farm in northern Kent County. I have been adventerous all my life and love the west. For many years, I have hunted and camped in the mountains of Colorado and the Dakotas. I’ve even crossed the Great Divide on horseback.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).
In March of 2012, we were approached by Sue to board her horses at our barn. Having the horses around again rekindled my urge to ride again. I thought I could handle a quiet, older horse such as a Tennessee Walker or a Morgan.

In the spring of 2013, we were told by Sue’s farrier about a black Morgan mother and daughter for sale. We looked at them, Sue test rode the daughter; liked her way of going and I bought them. All my life I had dreamed of owning a black stallion, and now I had two black mares! After buying a saddle, bridle, boots and saddlebags, I was ready to ride again.

I have two small portable air tanks; each one is good for about two hours, so I put one in each of the saddlebags and off we go when the weather is good.
My doctor has said this is a good form of exercising for me as it helps my breathing and gets me outdoors.
So here I am—an 81-year-old man with COPD, who is back doing what he loves—being outdoors and riding a horse.

So don’t stop living because of age or physical limitations. The moral is, if you think you might like to do something, don’t hesitate to go for it even if others disagree. You only live once.

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Coping with Grief at the Holidays

While the holidays may be challenging for those who have recently lost a loved one, Hospice of Michigan provides techniques to help the bereaved handle grief and find comfort.

While the holidays may be challenging for those who have recently lost a loved one, Hospice of Michigan provides techniques to help the bereaved handle grief and find comfort.

Pat Chambers was a wife, mother of five and grandmother of 12. She loved to garden and enjoyed the beauty of nature. But when Chambers was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, little pieces of her slipped away each day, until she died just over a year ago.

Her daughter, Janene Engelhard, knows firsthand that no matter how prepared you are for the death of a loved one, the grief can still be overwhelming — especially during the holidays.

“Grief doesn’t just happen in your head; it happens in your heart,” Engelhard says. “I knew my mom wasn’t going to get better, and I felt like I lost a little more of her each time I saw her. While part of me was prepared for her death, it’s still difficult, especially when holiday traditions trigger grief.”

Janene Engelhard

Janene Engelhard

Engelhard explains that her mother was the pie baker. She recalls the first Thanksgiving without her mom, when it occurred to the family that Mom didn’t do the baking. She also notes how making her mom’s cut-out Christmas cookies is now a bittersweet tradition. While recalling fond memories helps, they also serve as a reminder that her mom is no longer there.

“For those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the holidays often elicit emotions of grief and sadness,” said Karen Monts, practice manager of counseling services at Hospice of Michigan. “Though it may be a difficult time for those grieving, it can also be a wonderful time to remember a loved one’s memory. At Hospice of Michigan, we focus on providing the bereaved with the tools they need to once again enjoy this special time of year.”

Monts explains that the holidays may be challenging but there are techniques to help handle grief and find comfort, such as:

Giving yourself grace. Allow yourself to feel whatever way you feel; there is no right or wrong way. Be honest about your feelings and don’t force yourself to do anything you are not up to.

Surround yourself with support. Plan to be around people you enjoy, who are supportive or are a good listener. Negative voices can make the day worse.

Donate your time or treasure. Volunteering at or donating to an organization that was near to your loved one’s heart is a great way to honor them during the holidays. Or pick an organization that’s important to you and could use some assistance.

Remember your loved one. Set a place at the table for your loved one or hang a stocking in which you and others can fill with notes and mementos. Spend time talking about your loved one and sharing stories. If it brings you comfort, look through photos or listen to music that serves as a reminder.

Give a gift. Buy something that you think your loved one would have enjoyed and give it to someone else. You can either share the meaning behind the gift or simply enjoy bringing joy to someone’s life.

Allow yourself to be happy. There is nothing wrong with celebrating or feeling joy.

One of the ways Engelhard coped with grief during the first Christmas without her mother was by creating memorial gifts for her father and siblings.

“My mom loved nature and would press flowers and leaves,” she recalls. “After she died, I found several phone books in her house with her pressed clippings still inside. I used these to create shadow boxes for family members. I also included a photo of my mom, pearls from her favorite necklace, pieces of the measuring tape she had for sewing and swatches from the pastry cloth she had used since we were kids.”

Engelhard explains that creating the memorial gifts was not only a way for her to cope with her grief, but it helped keep her mother’s memory alive—something important to her and her family.

“While everyone copes with grief in their own unique way, over time those grieving will learn to live with the loss and once again find joy—not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year,” Monts adds.

Hospice of Michigan offers a variety of grief support and educational services, including holiday grief programs. Its services are available to all families involved with Hospice of Michigan, as well as the community at large. For more information on any of the services we offer, visit www.hom.org.

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Vinegar can help control blood sugar levels

A variety of vinegar flavors can dress your salad while helping to keep your glucose levels low.

A variety of vinegar flavors can dress your salad while helping to keep your glucose levels low.

(NAPS)—During November, National Diabetes Month, or at any time, there could be sweet news for the 29.1 million people the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates have diabetes.

According to Dr. Carol S. Johnston, professor and associate director of the Nutrition Program in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University, vinegar can be part of a diet strategy to manage blood glucose.

Why Vinegar

Here’s why: Eating foods that are high in starch, such as bread and rice, causes surges in blood glucose levels, Dr. Johnston explains. These high levels of blood glucose have been linked to higher or increased cardiovascular disease risk in healthy populations and can also increase complications among those with type 2 diabetes.

Consuming small amounts of vinegar—one to two tablespoons— before your meal, however, can reduce these high levels of glucose, she says.

In fact, for individuals with type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that consuming vinegar prior to meals on a daily basis can significantly reduce blood levels of A1c, a key indicator of average blood glucose concentrations.

In addition to consuming vinegar alone, consuming foods high in vinegar is an option. Vinegar is found in pickled products and salad dressings and can also be consumed before a meal on a salad.

Why it’s Important

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most food you eat gets turned into glucose, or sugar, for your body to use for energy. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Diabetes can have serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, but you don’t have to be in such statistics. The International Life Sciences Institute reports that “Several studies have demonstrated that vinegar can help reduce hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, hyperlipidemia and obesity.”

What else to do

In addition to adding vinegar to your diet, other helpful changes can include:

•Eat smaller portions. Learn what a serving size is for different foods and how many servings you need in a meal.

•Eat less fat. Choose fewer high-fat foods and use less fat for cooking.

•Exercise for at least 30 minutes at least five days a week.

•Follow your doctor’s advice about any health issues you experience.

Learn more

For more information on vinegar, including studies, recipes and more, visit www.versatilevinegar.org.

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